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Nine Killed in Fresh Violence in Gujarat

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:49:02 ( 948 reads )


AHMEDABAD/VADODARA, INDIA, March 31, 2002: Hours after chief minister Narendra Modi claimed in Mumbai on Saturday that Gujarat was returning to normal, violence broke out in many parts of the state late in the night claiming at least nine lives. The incidents come four days prior to Prime Minister Vajpayee's scheduled visit to the state amid frantic attempts by the government to show a semblance of normal functioning. Meanwhile, Modi has arrived in Delhi following a summons by the PM. The toll in the riots and violence in the state since February 28 has risen to 800. Violence has claimed 325 lives in Ahmedabad alone. The most vicious clashes were reported in the labor-dominated Gomtipur in which at least three persons were killed and 18 injured. Deaths in communal clashes overnight were also reported from Kadi in Mehsana district and Khambhat and Petlad in Anand. There were reports that at least two persons were still missing in Gomtipur and this could trigger more violence on Sunday evening. In the Gomtipur area of Ahmedabad, violence was reported from 10 pm onwards and the frenzy continued till well past midnight when army columns were called in. Heavy stone-throwing, firing and arson were reported from the area. Miscreants also set ablaze houses and shops in Samsherbagh on Nagri Mill Road and other areas like Mohanlal ni Chawl, Jhulta Minara, Sutharwada and Hauz Wali Masjid.

Was Godhra Attack Planned?

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:48:02 ( 989 reads )

Source: India Today

GODHRA, INDIA, March 25, 2002: On the night of March 3, as a grim Godhra resigned itself to an extended curfew, a crack team of the state's anti-terrorist squad was closing in on some citizens. Having made vital arrests in Godhra's Polan Bazar in connection with the burning of the Sabarmati Express, it was waiting for information from a reconnaissance group that had visited Mithikhan Mohalla, Polan's thickly populated and predominantly Muslim section. The Mithikhan raid netted Mohammed Husain Abdul Rahim Kalota, president of the Godhra Municipal Council. With two other councillors--Abdul Rehman Abdul Majid Dhantia alias Kan-katta and Salim Abdul Gaffer Shaikh-arrested earlier in the day, the investigation was making brisk progress. The interrogation of Kalota confirmed hidden "dubious outsiders" in Polan Bazar a few days before the train massacre. It is believed that SIMI activists helped in the Sabarmati Express operation, according to this report, and that the intent was to burn the entire train.

India Allows Use of Modified Cotton

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:47:02 ( 966 reads )


GUJARAT, INDIA, MARCH 25, 2002: India's environment regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has approved the use of a genetically modified (GM) cotton for commercial production. Agriculture minister Agit Singh told the BBC's World Business Report he was very much in favor of GM cotton. "Farmers are clamoring for GM seeds. You cannot stop it and put a blanket ban on it. I don't think any country can avoid it for long," he said. But Greenpeace claims GM crops could cross pollinate and contaminate non-GM crops. India has the world's largest cotton-growing area but yields only about 300kg per hectare, under half the global average of about 650kg. Just as in the US, the government is going to insist on certain conditions for the planting, specifically that there be a buffer zone between the GM crop and other crops and that a certain amount of non-GM cotton also be planted. It is this latter condition which will be difficult to enforce, as the purpose of that non-GM cotton is to allow a place for the cotton bollworm to thrive and reproduce, destroying its host cotton crop in the process. Without such a provision, it is expected the bollworm will rapidly adapt resistance to the toxin produced by the GM cotton, rendering the crop ultimately just as prone to destruction by the pest as non-GM cotton is now. This would be similar to the rapid development of resistance to DDT and other pesticides by destructive pests.

Spanish Priest Jams Cell Phones at Mass

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:46:02 ( 368 reads )


MORAIRA, SPAIN, March 26, 2002: A priest fed up with mobile phones ringing during Mass has installed an electronic jammer to keep his flock in tune with God. Perhaps Hindu temples will need such a device in the future. Reverend Francisco Llopis, pastor of the Church of the Defenseless, said the beeps, tunes and other digital noise emitted by cell phones are incompatible with quiet worship. Llopis' church in the coastal town of Moraira is the first in Spain to install such a device, which transmits low-power radio signals that sever communications between cellular handsets and cellular base-stations. The controversial technology is designed to create quiet zones in places like restaurants, movie theaters and libraries. Commercial jamming systems are illegal in the United States, Canada and Britain, but some countries such as Australia and Japan allow limited use.

Sadhu Vaswani Mission Celebrates Dada Vaswani's 84th Birthday

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:45:02 ( 973 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, March 24, 2002: After an interval of two years during which extensive renovation work was carried out on the Sadhu Vaswani Mission premises, the new extended Satsang Hall is nearing completion. The consecration of the Hall will coincide with Reverend Dada J.P. Vaswani's 84th Birthday Celebrations in August. A ten-day long program, which will include Akhand Kirtan, Bhajan Sessions, and programs by all the institutions attached to the Mission, is planned. there will be a series of discourses by Reverend Dada. They will also have Bhog of 101 Nuri Granth Paths, which will culminate on Dada's birthday on August 2 when the new Hall will be dedicated to Sadhu Vaswani. For more information email "source" above.

Study Reveals Correlation Between Television Watching and Violent Behavior

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:44:02 ( 953 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2002: A study conducted at Columbia University in New York has revealed that teenagers who watch more than one hour of television a day are more likely to display violent aggressive behavior. Jeffrey Johnson, who led the study, tracked 707 children from upstate New York for 17 years. Results of the study were published in journal Scientist and the article says, "The study found that 5.7% of the adolescents who watched less than one hour of television committed aggressive acts against other people in later years, as compared to 22.5% of those who watched between one and three hours a day." Even when other factors such as childhood neglect, low family income, or a psychiatric disorder during adolescence were considered, the correlation between time spent watching television and violent behavior was significant.

Living Together Replacing Marriage in Europe

Posted on 2002/3/31 8:43:02 ( 1006 reads )

Source: New York Times

NORWAY, March 24, 2002: Couples in Europe have adopted a non-marriage trend and as a result more and more European children are born out of wedlock. The article states the following statistics, "In Norway, 49% of all births in 1999 were to unwed parents. In Ireland, the figure was 62%. In Britain, it was 38% and in France 41% in 1998." Even in Catholic Ireland 31% of births were in families outside of marriage. The 31% statistic of Ireland matches that of families in the United States. In what is being called the new social order, children from these unions are not suffering any social stigma which would have been common in the past. Previously, there was a trend toward the first child being born out of wedlock, and the parents later marrying. Now, the parents are never marrying.

Raghunath Temple of Jammu Attacked by Suicide Bombers

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:49:02 ( 1094 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, March 30, 2002: Eleven people were killed and 25 others injured Saturday when suicide bombers stormed attacked the famous Raghunath Temple here. Three terrorists arrived at Raghunath temple gate at 10:30 am, exploded grenades at the temple's gate and opened fire from AK-47 rifles. Devotees who come from across the country for their pilgrimage to the shrine of Vaishno Devi were fleeing Jammu following the attack. City police chief Prabhat Singh said two of the three militants who attacked the shrine were killed instantly, along with four policemen and four civilians, including two devotees. Twenty-five others were injured in exchanges of fire, Singh said, adding that five of the victims were in critical condition. The temple's chief priest, Darshan Kumar Sharma, said the sanctorum was scarred by bullet marks. Police chief Singh said the attackers belonged to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic guerrilla group, which India blames for carrying out an attack on its national parliament in New Delhi in December which left 14 people dead.

Tamil Nadu Government Launches Religion Classes for Kids at Temples

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:48:02 ( 371 reads )

Source: The Hindu

CHENNAI, INDIA, March 29, 2002: The state-sponsored Sunday spiritual classes in 63 Hindu shrines drew some children on the inaugural day. Now the temple administrations are working to get more to attend. Sources in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department state that executive officers of the 63 temples were advised to contact all neighboring schools to improve the turnout. The children are being taught sacred songs by the temple oduvars, or singers, and scriptures by the priests. The Kanchi Sankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswathi, has welcomed the schemes of spiritual classes for children. He said the Sankara Mutt was interested in supplying books for such classes as it had brought out many suitable publications. Left-leaning politicians in the State are complaining that it is illegal for the temples to teach Hinduism, even though Christian and Muslim institutions can teach their religions.

Gujarat Police Consider Ban on Holi Festivities

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:47:02 ( 913 reads )


AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT, March 28, 2002: Authorities are considering a complete ban on playing with colors, especially balloons and bulbs which could contain lethal fluids, on Holi. Although the decision on the extent of effecting prohibitory orders and curtailing movement on this festival is yet to be finalized, police sources say there might be a blanket curfew over a wide area in the cities, apart from the 40 police stations which are already curfew-bound. After a peaceful Muharram, the authorities are taking no chances and security has been geared up across the state in view of Holi which coincides with Good Friday. In Godhra, the VHP was prevented from holding a "shanti yagna" in the town in memory of the 58 train carnage victims. Security has been tightened in the industrial belt in Surat. In Rajkot police commissioner Upendra Singh said a special action plan had been chalked out to ensure a peaceful Holi.

"Meeting God" Exhibit Get Good Review in New York Times

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:46:02 ( 1016 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, March 29, 2002: "Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion" at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City got this positive review from the New York Times. "Visitors to this amazing, often moving hodgepodge of a show may or may not encounter the divine presence. But they can easily enter into its mood of euphoric reference and spiritual graciousness while also learning a lot about one of the world's great religions. The displays roam through art, craft and kitsch (overly sentimental); they include beautiful facsimiles of household Hindu shrines and lavishly costumed, spice-daubed statues. Connecting links are provided by videotapes, music, text panels and, most of all, the color photographs of Steven P. Huyler, one of the exhibition's organizers. The centerpiece is a stupendous trompe l'oeil (a style of painting that gives an illusion of photographic reality) re-creation of a sacred banyan tree bedecked with offerings and surrounded by sculptures produced by the museum's diorama artists. It is rare to see so much information, spiritual feeling and visual beauty brought into such effective alignment."

Indian Film Director Honored in Washington

Posted on 2002/3/30 8:45:02 ( 917 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2002: Playing right now at the Library of Congress, the National Geographic Society and American University, in the city of Washington, D.C., are 35 films directed by India's Satyajit Ray. Acclaimed as one of the 20th century's greatest directors, Ray was given a honorary Oscar for his work in the field before he died in 1992. This showing is to commemorate his work. Soumitra Chatterjee, an actor who starred in 15 of Ray's films, first introduced the series at the National Gallery of Art. Presented in the Bengali language with subtitles in English, the films are all showing together. Satyajit Ray began his film career in India in 1955 by producing the first part of a trilogy centering around the story of Apu, the son of a poor priest whose life changed when he moved to Calcutta. Financed by pawning his wife's jewelry, the film was a masterpiece of story-telling and character development.

Yoga Gains Popularity in US Schools

Posted on 2002/3/26 8:49:02 ( 954 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, March 24, 2002: Sixty San Francisco classroom teachers make yoga an integral part of physical education as well as regular classes. At seven public schools here -- with more on the way -- the "yoga break" has taken its place beside typical school rituals. Yoga Journal, a Berkeley-based bimonthly, calls it "Om Schooling." Besieged by budget cuts, most of California's elementary schools no longer have a physical education teacher. With free teacher training by Tony Sanchez, a yoga master, yoga is becoming an integral part of the physical education classes and the regular classroom as well. Sanchez founded the United States Yoga Association, a nonprofit organization. Sanchez has trained 60 classroom teachers citywide in Hatha yoga, which concentrates on athletic postures and breathing techniques. Yoga is not common in the American classroom yet. But it is increasingly becoming part of the physical education curriculum nationwide. In Seattle, 15 of 97 public schools have yoga as a warm-up in gym class, and it is an elective for high school students, said Bud Turner, the physical education coordinator. "Physical education is moving in the direction of lifetime activities like toning, swimming and yoga," Turner said. "We're getting away from traditional team sports dominated by three kids in the athletic elite." San Francisco's yoga-in-the-schools program was prompted by the failure of 74 percent of California public school students to meet state fitness requirements, said Gloria Siech, a physical education content specialist for the San Francisco Public schools. To avoid potential controversy, she said, the program focuses solely on the physical aspects of yoga. There is no Sanskrit or mention of Hindu deities.

Dalit Leader Criticizes India's Hindus

Posted on 2002/3/26 8:48:02 ( 984 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, March 26, 2002: "Buddha, Jesus, Christ and Marx are the ideal persons for our society," stated Kancha Illaiah. He teaches politics at the Government Women's College, Koti, Hyderabad, is active in the Dalit-Bahujan [Scheduled and Backward Caste] movement and wrote a book, "Why I Am Not A Hindu." His remarks at a convention on Dalit literature reflect one controversial view of the place of Hinduism in India. According to this article, he claimed more and more people in the world are turning to Christianity and Islam as they preached equality among humans unlike Hinduism which divided people on the basis of caste and religion. He criticized the brahmin caste and said, "The Bhagvad Gita only taught how to kill the people, which is being followed by brahmins in this country."

Siddheshvari Devi Well Received in Alabama

Posted on 2002/3/26 8:47:02 ( 1007 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA, March 20, 2002: Siddheshvari Devi Ji could use "On the Road Again" as her theme song. Devi Ji, better known as Didi Ji, is one of the few female Hindu swamis in North America and she's almost always on the road. She carries all of her worldly possessions in a suitcase as she travels, giving discourses on the essence of Hinduism and seeking to dispel what she says are the myths and misconceptions related to one of the world's oldest religions. The founder of Divine Love Mission, Didi Ji's message during a recent visit to Alabama -- her first -- focused on the inner happiness and peace she finds at the essence of Hinduism. Dr. Laj Utreja, president of the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama, estimates there are about 400 Hindu families in the Huntsville area. Didi Ji was raised in a traditional Hindu family but never understood why she believed what her parents taught her and her three siblings about their faith. "I had always respected Hinduism because it respects other faiths and doesn't place restrictions on God," she said. "But I had taken it for granted growing up. When my family moved to Canada (when she was 13), I found there was no real happiness in the world, and it was decreasing in intensity with age. "If there's no happiness in the world, then where is it? It must only be through God." Veena Kaul, an auditor for the city of Huntsville, said Didi Ji "has the love of the Lord in her. She inspires you so much. "What I see in her is one who is loving, kind and thinks about the Lord all the time. Her vibrations make me cry." Kaul said.

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