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Vajpayee Visit Throws Light on Indian Diaspora in Malaysia
Posted on 2001/5/17 23:48:02 ( 668 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, May 15, 20011: The recent communal clashes outside the Malaysian capital involving ethnic Indians and indigenous Malays have thrown light on a neglected segment of the India diaspora that has possibly the largest Indian origin community outside the Indian subcontinent. In April, about a dozen people, most of them Indians, were killed in clashes. Although the incidents were local, it caused alarm in a nation of 20 million that is otherwise known for communal harmony. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, on an official visit to Malaysia, raised the issue with his host, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Mahathir explained that the situation has been brought under control and his government was seeking to integrate the community more by giving them more political empowerment. There are approximately two million people of Indian origin in Malaysia. The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) representing the interests of the Indians, claimed that Indian youth held only 0.7 percent of administrative posts in the corporate sector, down from 0.9 percent five years ago.




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Ashwagandha Next on Patent Hunters' list
Posted on 2001/5/17 23:47:02 ( 796 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 16, 2001: Neem. Turmeric. Now, Ashwagandha. American and Japanese companies have discovered another Indian treasure-and they are patenting it. According to the officials of the department of science and technology, seven American and four Japanese firms have filed for grant of patents on formulations containing Ashwagandha or extracts of the plant. Fruits, leaves and seeds of the Indian medicinal plant withania somnifera have been used for ages in the ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics and for restoring loss of memory, the officials said.The Japanese patent applications are related to the use of Ashwagandha as a skin ointment for cosmetic purposes and for promoting fertility. Natreon of the United States has obtained a patent for "an extract obtained from the Ashwagandha plant taken from steep rocks in the Himalayan mountains," officials of the patent facilitating cell said in their report. The report said another US establishment, the New England Deaconess Hospital, has taken a patent on an Ashwagandha formulation claimed to "alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis." "One thing which is very obvious from the above study," the report concluded, "is that Ashwagandha plant is catching attention of scientists and more and more patents related to Ashwagandha are being filed or granted by different patent offices of the world since 1996." (PTI)




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Nepal's Growing Rural Revolt
Posted on 2001/5/17 23:46:02 ( 691 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May, 14, 2001: Clutching vintage Enfield .303 rifles, Nepalese police patrol the bazaars of the remote western town of Musikot. Maoist rebels control most of Rukum and several neighboring districts, confining the police to a few places like Musikot. The Maoists have killed more than 100 police officers this year. The strategy is to assert sovereignty over the countryside by demoralizing the police, and it seems to be working. It has been just over five years since Nepal's Maoists began fighting the elected government in Kathmandu for a "People's Republic." In Kathmandu, the authorities are determined to press ahead with army deployment to stamp out the revolt. "We have to stand up for democracy and the rights of our nation," says Deputy premier Ram Chandra Poudel.




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The Big Business of Organic Food
Posted on 2001/5/17 23:45:02 ( 730 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, May 13, 2001: In this long, long article, Michael Pollan reports on his journey through the changing world of organic food. He begins with the ever-increasing selection of organic foods at the supermarket and closer inspection of some of his favorite brands. He found organic food is no longer produced just on small farms. For example, Cascadian Farms, a company who makes a popular brand of organic TV dinners, has recently become a subsidiary of General Mills, the third biggest food conglomerate in North America. Organic food is now the fastest-growing category in the supermarket, and rapidly attracting the attention of the very agribusiness corporations to which the organic movement once presented a radical alternative. Pollan traces the history of Cascadian Farms and its founder, Gene Kahn, a former hippie farmer who is now a General Mills vice-president and a millionaire. Mainstream food companies such as Gerber's, Heinz, Dole and ConAgra have all created or acquired organic brands. Today, five giant farms control half of the $400 million a year organic produce market in California. That is resulting in lower consumer prices but threatening the existence of the smaller organic farms. Pollan discusses industrial organic farms, big and little organics, and what the "word" organic means today.




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Singapore Government Restrains Religious Leaders
Posted on 2001/5/16 23:49:02 ( 730 reads )


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SINGAPORE, May 12, 2001: The Singapore Government has come close to invoking the Religious Harmony Act on several occasions when religious leaders were found mixing politics with religion and putting down other faiths. After being summoned and warned by the police and Internal Security Department officers, the religious leaders stopped their activities. According to the 1990 law, they could have been served with a Restraining Order forbidding them to address any congregation or group on any subject. They would be barred from holding office in any editorial board or committee related to their religious publications. Heavy fines and jail time could result for those convicted of violating the order. Among those who have received warnings are an Islamic religious leader who urged Muslims to vote for Muslim candidates with deep religious beliefs and a Christian pastor who used his church publications to criticize Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism. An Islamic religious leader was reproved for criticizing a Hindu belief in 1995 that statues of the deity, Ganesha, could drink milk offerings. The leader asserted this widely-witnessed miracle was the work of Satan. The act was brought in when the Government noticed the increase in missionary zeal among different groups and decided to enact legislation while relations between religious groups were still good.




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Adoption Centers Raided - 150 Children Rescued
Posted on 2001/5/16 23:48:02 ( 771 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, April, 26, 2001 : The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered a high-level probe into irregularities at various adoption centers in and around the state capital, including child-sale rackets, following the discovery of the body of an orphan, John Abraham Bethany, buried in the grounds of an adoption home. So far, about 150 children, several of them infants aged between one month and one year, have been rescued from four adoption centers in Hyderabad and neighboring Ranga Reddy and Medak districts. The police have registered cases against the management of the three centers of forging documents and wrongfully confining children. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has told officials to keep a tight vigil on adoption homes in the state.




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Fiji Hindus Alarmed by McDonald's Fries
Posted on 2001/5/16 23:47:02 ( 951 reads )


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FIJI, May 09, 2001: The Daily Post newspaper says a poll conducted in Suva revealed that most Hindus and vegetarians in Fiji are alarmed after revelations that French fries served by US fast food giant McDonald's contains beef extracts. A Hindu lawyer said the community was following developments with the possibility of filing a lawsuit against McDonald's Fiji. Fiji managing director Mark McElrath said they use 100 percent vegetable oil at the two outlets in Fiji as they are aware of the Hindu taboos placed on beef. However, the beef extract, at least for McDonald's fries in America, is added prior to cooking at the restaurant.




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Residential Workshop in Yoga and Dance
Posted on 2001/5/16 23:46:02 ( 822 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, May 17, 2001: Heritage is a non-profit, charitable institution founded in 1994. From June 14 through July 1, 2001, Heritage is conducting "Parampara," a residential workshop in Bangalore that will impart philosophic, holistic and creative disciplines with performing artists, scholars and academicians from all over the world. Three interactive workshops will run simultaneously: 1. Tranquility of Mind: two three-day capsules targeted at corporate yoga and wellness, 2. Wealth of India: providing an insight into India by tracing its history and 3. Joy of Dance: as workshop on five forms of Indian classical dance and modern dance based on ballet.




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FHA Researches Hindu Genocide
Posted on 2001/5/16 23:45:02 ( 778 reads )


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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, May 17, 2001: The Federation of Hindu Associations based in Southern California is researching the topic: "Was/Is there a Hindu Genocide in Indian Subcontinent?" They invite your assistance sent to "source" above in the form of articles, statistics, sources or other research material. The research will cover three eras: 712 ce - 1757 ce: 1757 - 1947 ce, 1947 - present.




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Indian Temple Workers in Australia Get Back Pay
Posted on 2001/5/15 23:49:02 ( 688 reads )


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, May 05, 2001: Eight Indian stonemasons helping with construction work at the Sri Venkateswara Temple, in Illawara, embroiled in a payment row with a temple committee here left for their home in Tamil Nadu after getting "substantial" money in back pay in a case that got them the support of one of Australia's largest trade unions. The final settlement amount is a matter of speculation as the court concerned has imposed a gag on both the negotiating parties to not reveal it publicly. "Our members (the Indian stonemasons) are very happy with the settlement," Phil Davey, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) media liaison officer said. The union had alleged that the workers were being grossly underpaid and were living in poor and unsafe conditions on the temple premises. New South Wales Labor Council deputy assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou said the workers were unaware that their work would be covered under the Australian laws regulating minimum wages.




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Singapore Ranks First in Asia in Meeting Needs of Mums
Posted on 2001/5/15 23:48:02 ( 689 reads )


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SINGAPORE, May 15, 2001: Singapore ranks first in Asia and 16th worldwide when it comes to meeting the needs of mothers, according to the second annual report of a US-based, non-profit organization, Save the Children. Called State of the World's Mothers, the report was released on the eve of Mother's Day this year. The needs identified on the Mothers' Index included health care, contraceptive use and literacy rates of women. The index also takes into consideration infant-mortality rates, nutritional status and primary-school enrollment among children. Sweden topped the list of 94 countries ranked, while Guinea Bissau, an independent state in West Africa, was at the bottom. Singapore comes in ninth on a global basis when it comes to the quality of life that its young female citizens have as measured by the Girls' Investment Index. It is first again in Asia. On this index, Singapore fared better than Switzerland and the United States, which were ranked 18th and 22nd respectively. Sweden and Finland were joint firsts among the 140 countries ranked; Niger was last. The set of 12 indicators included education, health care and medical facilities available to women during childbirth.




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Anglican Bishops in Canada Confront Government over Lawsuits
Posted on 2001/5/15 23:47:02 ( 725 reads )


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TORONTO, CANADA, May 8, 2001: The bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada have warned the prime minister that, unless he gets involved, the church will be bankrupt by the end of the year because of a rash of lawsuits brought by victims of abuse at church-run residential schools for indigenous youth. In a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the bishops said that "those who were abused still wait for justice and the litigation is rapidly draining the resources of several of our dioceses and of our national body. We are perilously close to bankruptcy." More than 7,000 people have brought legal action against the federal government and churches, which operated the schools. The Indian children at these Christian schools were beaten and abused in an attempt to rid them of their "Indianess." On a recent edition of "60 Minutes" an Indian leader was asked how he felt about driving the Christian churches into bankruptcy. He replied, "They should have thought about that before they started beating the hell out of us."




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A Banyan Tree Family of 65
Posted on 2001/5/15 23:46:02 ( 799 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 12, 2001 : The Chowdhury residence in the Central Town neighborhood, with 15 rooms and six bathrooms, is a rare modern-day example of the Indian joint family system, with 65 members of a family living under the same roof. How do they manage? "If there's a fight, reconciliation is brought about over dinner or lunch," says Rajishwar Singh Chowdhury, who at 77 is the eldest of the family. He has four sons and three daughters, who have children of their own, and all live happily in the spacious house. The men run various businesses from food to spare parts. The women do all the housework. Shivani, newly wedded into the family, said she was initially apprehensive about living with so many people but was now delighted. And the third generation echoes the sentiments. "I love to be a member of such a big joint family," said 18-year-old Ricky.




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India is Divided Over English and Hindi
Posted on 2001/5/12 23:49:02 ( 669 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 10, 2001: The language divide in India has created a class divide. On one hand, while most East Indians may speak Hindi or other dialects in their mother tongue at home, children are encouraged to pursue English fervently at school. English has been the language used in government since colonial days, and fluency in English ensures that a person can study to become a doctor, engineer or computer scientist. Otherwise, the knowledge of Hindi alone pretty much determines your fate in lower income positions. Some people are fighting back and trying to get the special status given to English thrown out. However, the elite class is preserving the class divide by educating their children in English schools while less privileged children are educated in Hindi-speaking schools.




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Eight India-Based Organizations on Russian Church Blacklist
Posted on 2001/5/12 23:48:02 ( 801 reads )


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MOSCOW, RUSSIA, May 12, 2001: The Russian Orthodox Church, the dominant religious institution in multi-religious Russia, has blacklisted eight India-based religious organizations that it considers "harmful sects." The list was released at a conference, titled "Totalitarian sects: Danger of the 21st century." According to the Moscow weekly journal Profile, the blacklisted groups are the International society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Ananda Marg, the organizations associated with Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, Sahaja Yoga, the followers of Shri Chinmoy, the Brahma Kumaris, the followers of Satya Sai Baba and Osho Rajnesh's organization. ISKCON and the Brahma Kumaris have the strongest presence in Russia of the blacklisted organizations. Two organizations that escaped the list were the Ramakrishna Mission and the Moscow Gurdwara Committee. The Orthodox Church has a rehabilitation center for the victims of the "harmful sects," and those who have left the folds must go through special re-conversion rituals to return to orthodox Christianity. Though religion and state are separate under the secular Russian constitution, Russia's powerful Orthodox Church receives heavy support from the state and exerts strong political influence. The Church's blacklisting carries no legal force, but the country's laws do allow for limiting or banning of organizations considered harmful to Russian society. Organizations can also be denied registration, and while not thereby made illegal, cannot own property, have bank accounts or otherwise operate easily in the country.




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