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Union Steps In For Indian Temple Masons in Australia
Posted on 2001/2/27 22:47:02 ( 696 reads )


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, February 27, 2001: Further information is published in this article about the temple masons, or silpis, working at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh, south of Sydney. According to the men, they have been paid $45 a month in cash for a seven-day week. Another $100 a week is sent home to their families. The men have been living on the temple site in extremely cramped and rudimentary conditions, with five beds in one shed and three in another, some for three years. Their plight came to public attention yesterday when the state leader of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Mr Andrew Ferguson, visited the Helensburgh temple site to speak to the workers. Mr Ferguson said he told the workers they were being underpaid and should strike until further notice. He then persuaded them to leave with him to travel to Wollongong for lunch, which is understood to have caused some commotion at the temple among priests. The men were later returned to the temple in the afternoon but left again with Mr Ferguson after overnight accommodation was arranged for them at the Novotel Hotel in Wollongong. Wollongong City Council yesterday ruled that the workers' accommodation should be moved because of "unhealthy conditions." Mr Ferguson said the workers' pay amounted to 15 per cent of their entitlements under the stonemasons' award and he would seek guarantees on back pay and that the workers would be paid legal rates in future.




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Michigan School System to Serve Muslim Food
Posted on 2001/2/27 22:46:02 ( 740 reads )


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DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, February 24, 2001: In this Detroit suburb where some grade schools are more than 90 percent Muslim, Dearborn schools do not serve food that meets Muslim dietary rules. This policy has prompted thousands of parents to demand cafeteria food that is "halal," or permitted under Islamic rules. Halal laws are similar to kosher laws. Like kosher Jews, Muslims do not eat pork. Dearborn Public Schools is accepting proposals from halal food distributors to provide food at several of its 28 public schools. The district currently provides meatless lunches for Catholics on Fridays during Lent and eight years ago, they banned pork from lunches so Muslim children would not eat it by mistake. Many of the students eat breakfast and lunch at school.




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92 Kumbh Pilgrims To Get Compensation
Posted on 2001/2/27 22:45:02 ( 820 reads )


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KUMBHNAGAR, ALLAHABAD, February 25, 2001: Some of the pilgrims who attended the recently concluded Maha Kumbh Mela would soon receive compensation for injuries sustained during the 42-day-long religious extravaganza, due to the automatic insurance coverage given to every pilgrim. The compensation ranges from US$2,173 to be paid to the relatives of the family who died in an accident in the fair area and amounts ranging from $108 to $65 each for 91 pilgrims who sustained varying degrees of injuries during the event. "This was the first time that pilgrims (at the Kumbh) had been provided an insurance cover," said fair administrator Jeevesh Nandan. "The fair administration had paid the National Insurance Company a flat premium of $39,130 towards this scheme, that was undertaken by the company as a special case," Nandan added. Obviously, with a premium like that to cover 70 million people, the company did not expect American-style litigation over injuries.




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Taliban Won't Destroy Hindu or Sikh Temples
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:49:02 ( 753 reads )


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PAKISTAN, February 27, 2001: Afghanistan is rebuffing international demands to rescind a government order to destroy all Buddhist statues in the country. Some governments pointed out the statues had not been destroyed under the past 1,200 years of Islamic rule in the region. The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said on Tuesday, "We don't care why the statues weren't destroyed in the past, but we have a government now in Afghanistan that is religious, and we want to stop all things that are against Islam.'' As well as the two giant Buddhas, Afghanistan's national museum -- which has been damaged by rockets -- has hundreds of small statues of Buddha. They would also be destroyed under the order, Zaeef said. However, he said officials would not enter the temples of minority religions, including Hindus or Sikhs, to carry out the order. "We respect Hindus and Sikhs, and they will not be stopped from performing their rituals,'' Zaeef said.




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Sydney's Hindu Temple Allegedly Exploiting Indian Stonemasons
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:48:02 ( 746 reads )


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, February 26, 2001: Indian workers at a Hindu temple in Helensburgh, south of Sydney, have been taken away from the site, where it is alleged they are being paid $45 (US$23.60) a month for their labor. The men are stone masons from the Indian province of Tamil Nadu, working in Australia on temporary visas, who are building pagodas at Helensburgh's Sri Venkateshwara Temple. Unions say Australians doing the same work could expect to be paid $500 to $1,000 (US$262.00 to US$524.00) a week. State Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Andrew Ferguson, says the conditions on the site are the worst he has seen. The Indian workers have now left the site and will be accommodated in Wollongong overnight. Temple management is refusing to comment on the matter subject to legal advice.




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Mandela Steps Into Racism Row
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:47:02 ( 744 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, Feb 25, 2001: Former South African President Nelson Mandela has condemned "arrogant" members of the country's African majority who have suggested that minority groups have no role to play in South Africa. The interview with the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times, came in response to a report in the same paper last week about a prominent lawyer who had made a racist swipe at an Indian South African theatre boss. Mr. Mandela said he was concerned about increasing racial polarization, in particular a "widening of the gap" between Africans and Indians. "Some Africans ...... now throw their weight about as a majority. There are some Africans who inspire fear in the minorities because of the way they behave," he said. At a board meeting of Durban's Playhouse Company in November, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture Council, lawyer Edmund Radebe chairing the meeting said: "I don't think education and development -- I am not being a racist, please -- can be run by an Indian." After the discussion was made public, the theatre's former acting deputy director, Gitanjali Pather quit. Mr. Mandela in outrage at the comment, called on the ANC, the ruling party which he previously led, to do more to bridge the gaps between race groups.




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Alerting Muslim Community of Marriages Among Relatives
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:46:02 ( 798 reads )


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BIRMINGHAM, U.K., February 22, 2001: Coming from a culture where the marrying of first cousins is acceptable, the practice is prevalent among the Pakistani Muslim community. The only reason these marriages are being questioned by Birmingham health authorities is because of the high mortality rate of children born from these unions. In a community where 80 percent marry close relatives, genetic disorders that cause mental retardation or blood disorders are also evident. Defective genes that run in the same family have a greater risk of manifesting genetically when close relatives marry. Community health prevention trainer Karamjeet Ballagan who initiated the awareness campaign said, "What the community told us is they want the health authority to provide some sort of genetic test for people getting engaged to find out if their genes are affected." A number of Hindu communities also practice "cross-cousin" marriage, which is considered in Western countries too close for genetic diversity.




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Book Release Postponed
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:45:02 ( 1084 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 2, 2001: The release of Francois Gautier's book has been postponed till March 14 or 16 march. Contact "source" email for a final date.




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Uproar Among Fiji's Hindus About Denial To Perform Last Rites
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:49:02 ( 745 reads )


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SUVA, FIJI, February, 25, 2001: An uproar in Fiji's Hindu community in the capital over another family being stopped from scattering the cremated remains of a family member along a shoreline, has police saying that they prevented the customary ritual in the interest of the public as the venue is a popular picnic spot. The family of deposed parliamentarian Raghu Nand were advised to seek permission from the Marine Department before carrying on with the last rites, who in turn imposed restrictions on such activities. A marine department official said anything that is not classed as a pollutant or dangerous substance could be released in the sea. A frustrated Nand said they were given the run-around by authorities that did not seem to know what they were doing."It is part of our religious right and freedom and I believe that we should not have been stopped," he said. The president of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha of Fiji Lautoka branch, Swami Maharaj, said "We have a right to religious freedom and freedom of expression. The commissioner of police should tell us if it is legal for Hindus to be stopped from performing their last funeral rites."




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Poverty in India
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:48:02 ( 735 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 22, 2001: If you live on less than ten dollars U.S. per month, a pre-determined arbitrary national cut-off figure, then in India you would be one among 260 million people. However, according to Abusaleh Sharif, chief economist for the National Council for Applied Economic Research, "This is a national cut-off, and this figure is unrealistic." Even though this recent determination statistically indicates that only 25% of the population now lives below the poverty line compared to 36% in 1993-94, the number of malnourished people in India is well over 60%. Poverty is more rampant in rural India and the northern states fare better than the eastern states. In the capital city alone 1.15 million people are struggling to survive.




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Pakistan Minorities Boycott Election
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:47:02 ( 767 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 24, 2001: A separate electoral system introduced in 1985, where non-Muslims can only vote for candidates belonging to their own communities, is being boycotted by Hindus and Christians in Pakistan. Hundreds of electoral seats were left unoccupied during a similar December election boycott.




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Government Offers Courses to Prospective New Couples
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:46:02 ( 700 reads )


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WASHINGTON D.C., February 23, 2001: When marriages break-up the individuals involved and the community at large pays the price. Emotionally and intellectually, children from broken homes suffer and comprise a large percentage of school dropouts, drug abusers, teenage pregnancies and depression victims. Hoping to intervene before the "I do" and marriage vows, states across the U.S. are providing incentives to couples to take premarital counseling. With a reduction in marriage license costs being minimal, the couples taking the courses feel the real benefit is in discovering their compatibility. More than 40% of American marriages end in divorce. On that note Wisconsin House Speaker Scott Jensen writes, "State and Federal government spend an extraordinary amount of resources on the fallout of broken marriages. We have an interest in having strong families and strong marriages."




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Londoners Intrigued With Indian Food
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:45:02 ( 701 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 20, 2001: Attempting to expand their customer base, top class Indian restaurants in London are trying new methods to entice the populace into their establishments. Educating the British public about the Science of Ayurveda, where spices not only add flavor but are also used for medicinal purposes, the Mela restaurant in Covent Garden has hired a chef experienced in the Ayurvedic food tradition. For the month of February during the food festival at Mela, British lovers of curries will be intrigued by the benefits of garlic, cinnamon and cardamon and the importance of meal balancing. Elsewhere in London, another Indian restaurant is introducing wine to its beverage list and has hired a wine expert to offer suggestions for wine and meal complements.




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Treatment of Hindus in Zimbabwe
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:49:02 ( 747 reads )


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ZIMBABWE, AFRICA, February, 24, 2001: Whites were not the only race coming under attack in the racially-motivated parliamentary election campaign currently ravaging Zimbabwe. Asians, in particular, are being targeted, most notably through a hate-filled document sent to prominent businessmen in the community and believed to have originated from the offices of black economic empowerment organization, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG). The document, "Indigenization versus Indians" comes as a rude shock to many Asians who as second or third generation Zimbabweans considered themselves "indigenous." The contents of the document state that this is not how the propagators of affirmative action in Zimbabwe view them. "Black people did not die for this country so that Indians could go on oppressing them," states the document. The situation is the same as in many other countries where the Indian communities have lived, even for generations, but failed to establish good relationships with other communities. Indians came to be regarded, with some justification, as only looking out for themselves.




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Apartheid? "Not Here," Says India.
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:48:02 ( 823 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, February 23, 2001: Human Rights Watch has criticized the Indian Government for discouraging debate over caste-based discrimination. The New York-based rights groups says Delhi is trying to avoid discussion of the issue at a major United Nations conference on racism in South Africa in August. Smita Narula, spokeswoman for the group, says Indian officials argued against including the topic of caste at a meeting on the conference agenda in Tehran earlier this week. The lower-caste Dalit community and a number of other South Asian groups are lobbying for the caste system to be discussed at the South African meeting. They argue that more international attention is needed on what amounts to hidden apartheid. Human Rights Watch says the caste system inflicts great social harm.




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