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Activists Deter Valentine's Day Celebrations
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:49:02 ( 845 reads )


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KANPUR, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Attacking and raiding shops selling Valentine's Day gifts and cards, Hindu Jagaram Manch activists attempted to curb the Western celebration that has become popular among the youth in the last ten years.The District Magistrate in Kanpur has ordered Special Police pickets to be posted at hotels, markets and gift shops to deter the culprits. So far no arrests have been made.




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Youth Taught to Respect Animals
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:48:02 ( 800 reads )


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KAITHAL, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Attempting to kindle a "reverence of all forms of life," the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals has started teaching 30 members in the local OSDAV school. On a larger scale the society intends to set up Karuna Clubs in other schools in the district where the philosophy of compassion for animals will be taught. The recipients of the classes promoted by the Society will be educated, "to raise their voice against killing animals," and to protect both animal and human rights.




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Faith Funds Face Punishment Law
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:47:02 ( 796 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 12, 2001: The Vajpayee government proposes to replace the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) with new legislation which will contain strict penalties to prevent anti-India and fundamentalist activities. Under the old FCRA, it is mandatory for all organizations receiving foreign funds to register with the home ministry and file returns on receipt and expenditure of foreign exchange. But there are no stiff penal clauses if any organization is found diverting money to build institutions that act as "fronts" for terrorist activities. The existing law has only a provision to cancel the organization's registration. The law scheduled to replace the 1976 Act will propose a maximum punishment of imprisonment as well as fines for such organizations. All organizations receiving foreign funds will have to register with district magistrates and submit details of the amount received and names of the donors. It has been suggested that associations operating in the border regions and religious organizations be registered anew with the home ministry. This is to keep better watch on religious organizations which receive thousands of dollars as foreign contributions which are often channelized for activities other than those the funds were actually meant for. Reports have noted the increase in mosques and madarsas (Muslim schools) in the border areas and pointed to the growing use of these by terrorist outfits.




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Christians Challenge India's Census
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:46:02 ( 846 reads )


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NEW DELHI, February 15, 2001: Christian church authorities in India have launched a legal challenge to the country's massive population census, alleging it infringes on the religious freedom of lower-caste Christians. A statement of the All-India Christian Council said the census did not give members of the Scheduled Caste category, popularly called Dalits (oppressed, very low caste), the option of choosing from the Muslim, Christian, animist, indigenous, agnostic or "no-faith" categories. These Reuters report fails to explain the issue, which stems from the fact "reservations" in jobs and school slots are made for low caste and untouchable Hindus -- the Indian version of affirmative action. However, when Indian's constitution was drafted in 1947, Christians (and Muslims) were not allowed such reservations, on the basis that their faith did not recognize caste, so therefore no convert suffered the same disadvantages that they did when a Hindu. Of course, this is not the case, and the Christian churches are divided along the same caste lines as the Hindus. That is, a Dalit Hindu ends up a Dalit Christian, and a brahmin Hindu ends up a brahmin Christian, with separate churches and all. The Christians feel they will get more Dalit converts if they can get rid of this provision ending reservations for converts, apparently a more feasible solution to them than ridding their community of caste divisions.




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FAQ on Rama Janmabhoomi Movement
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:45:02 ( 943 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA: February 13, 2001: As part of its campaign to spread the message about the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, the VHP has prepared a booklet entitled "Frequently Asked Questions on the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement." It is available at the above "Source."




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Siva Sena Condemns Valentine's Day
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:49:02 ( 769 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, February 12, 2001: The Shiv Sena organization in India has ordered its members to disrupt any Valentine's Day celebrations in the capital of Bombay by targeting beach and garden parties. The leader of the party, Mr. Bal Thackeray, condemns the festival. He called it shameless and contrary to Indian culture. Shops in Uttar Pradesh selling Valentine's Day cards have been attacked. This same state also recently banned beauty pageants. Quoting their intentions Mr. Thackery speaks, "We should focus on good work, good thoughts, love and harmony in our society and not let such Western culture spoil us." Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, the day according to Christian mythology that one priest named Valentine was martyred in Rome in 270 ce. However, as with many Christian festivals, it is actually drawn from the pagan Roman festival in honor of Juno, Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, which was celebrated on February 14. On this day it was the custom of the Romans to write the names of girls on paper and put them in a jar, then each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar with whom he would celbrate the Feast of Lupercalia on February 15. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.




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Muslims Blame India Quake on TVs
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:48:02 ( 777 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, February 13, 2001: Conservative Muslims of Ahmadabad and Surat, 580 miles southwest of New Delhi, are destroying their television sets because Muslim cleric Mufti Imtiaz said television was the cause of the country's killer earthquake. "The mufti told us about the poisoning of minds through television, making Allah angry and causing the earthquake,'' said Abdulbhai Guliwala, a shopkeeper in Ahmedabad. "I just carried out the order of the mufti,'' he said. The idea has since raced through Muslim communities, spread in part by a recorded message from the cleric that was distributed throughout the state. In Panch Kuva, 22 Muslims brought out their televisions and destroyed them at the same time. Residents around two Ahmedabad mosques smashed their sets, and young men from the Baluchwad neighborhood destroyed televisions in public. Mufti Imtiaz's office said he was traveling through the quake-hit Kutch region of Gujarat.




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Corporal Punishment On Wane In Arkansas Schools
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:47:02 ( 788 reads )


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SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS, USA, February 11, 2001: Jim Lewis got his share of "licks" with a paddle when he was a student in public school. Now that he's a principal himself, he paddles students only on rare occasions and as a last resort. "Most principals now are far from the disciplinarians that principals used to be," said Lewis, principal at George Elementary in Springdale. He uses his wooden paddle about four times a school year and only with parents' consent. The principal was reluctant even to talk about paddling, since it's such a small a part of what goes on in his school. "It's not who I am," he said. Instead of giving licks, Lewis likes to work with the child and his parents on behavior changes when discipline problems arise. "Paddlings and spankings are usually short-term fixes," he said. Arkansas is one of 23 states in America that still allow corporal punishment in its public schools. Twenty-seven states have now banned the practice, up from five states in 1986. The Arkansas Board of Education adopted a resolution in 1993 urging school districts to pass policies against corporal punishment, saying such punishment wasn't in line with national education goals. Jim Argue, a Democratic representative for Little Rock, said "It represents a rural, male-dominated culture that sees corporal punishment as an acceptable tool of discipline." Argue said he's in the minority as a lawmaker against the practice. He decided to stop spanking his own children after punishing his young daughter one day. His daughter wondered aloud why he would hit her as punishment for hitting her sister. The irony struck him. "She kind of taught me a lesson," he said. "I don't think violence is a good tool [to encourage] nonviolence." "We discourage it," said Hartzell Jones, deputy superintendent for personnel in the Springdale School District. "But some people don't think a good spanking is child abuse. They think the Bible supports that." Many education groups and professional psychiatric and psychology taken the position that corporal punishment perpetuates a cycle of abuse.




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Ganja Trade Keeps Tribals On A High
Posted on 2001/2/11 22:49:02 ( 803 reads )


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PALAKKAD, INDIA, February 6, 2001: You can't miss the sign, "Sale, purchase or possession of all intoxicants is punishable." A reminder of good intentions gone awry. For the air in Attapadi, the largest tribal block in South India, is full of the scent of poppy, ganja and hooch, a trade the locals have perfected. The Karumber, the wealthiest of the tribals that include the Irullar, Mudugar and Valayars, no longer rely on government support to get by. Their thriving ganja (marijuana) cultivation in the thick forest takes care of all their needs. Despite the unlawful trade, the tribals continue to live in huts, away from civilization. It is outsiders who pocket the profits. They provide all the raw materials then return for the goods at harvest time. The tribals get a fixed commission, but even this small profit that trickles down is enough. The ganja brings in US$21.74 a kilo. (In the USA, a kilo could bring $2,150, not to mention eight years in jail and a $10,000 fine.) A plant matures in six months and in three years a maximum of 20 kg of leaves can be picked, bringing around $434.78 from one plant. The profits are mostly spent on liquor. Ironically, the main suppliers of hooch -- cheap liquor -- are the outsiders who trade in ganja. They ensure a continuing supply to the tribals.




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Diversity And Tolerance Thrive In This British City
Posted on 2001/2/11 22:48:02 ( 819 reads )


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LEICESTER, ENGLAND, February 2, 2001: Government figures have just projected that Leicester will become, in a decade, the first British city with a nonwhite majority. Instead of experiencing the cultural antagonisms and anti-immigrant politics that have occurred elsewhere in Britain and in Europe, where once all- white populations have increasing numbers of immigrants in their midst, the outcome here has been different. "Leicester defines itself as the tolerant, multicultural city of Europe," said Richard Bonney, priest and professor. "There is greater diversity in two or three square blocks here than anywhere I can think of in Europe," he added. Leicester was already a migrant's goal a century ago, drawing people from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and elsewhere in England. However, in the early 1970's when East African countries in the Commonwealth moved to evict their large Asian populations, the Leicester City Council placed an advertisement in the Ugandan Argus newspaper warning that housing, education and social services were "already stretched to the limit," and discouraged them from coming to Leicester. Many people who came from Kenya and Uganda had already experienced being immigrants and learning to adapt. In addition, they came in settled family groups. They were skilled and educated with goals of economic independence and social success. These new arrivals created employment and services and a retail, wholesale and real estate economy of their own. This lengthy article discusses further: Leicester history, Asian immigrant success and the lack of success for many Afro-Caribbeans.




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Quake Reveals Hidden Water
Posted on 2001/2/11 22:47:02 ( 757 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, February 12, 2001: A body of fresh water discovered in the western state of Gujarat may be an ancient branch of Pakistan's famous Indus river. Recent satellite images taken above the epicenter of last month's earthquake, in the Rann (literally, "salt desert") of Kutch region, have uncovered the underground water channels in a barren area of the state known for its high salinity. A leading Indian scientist, Janardhan Negi, said the region had once been a delta for two famed, ancient rivers and that if field tests prove that the water seen in the satellite images is more than 200 years old, it could confirm that a branch of the Indus still flows in India. He said the Indus used to flow through the region until 1819, when a large earthquake -- equal in intensity to the one last month -- led to the river changing its course.




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"Yogi" Trademarked For Wall Street Journal Search System
Posted on 2001/2/10 22:49:02 ( 754 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, February 6, 2001: America's business and commodities bible, the Wall Street Journal, in a move to capture attention to it's new software, has incorporated and trademarked the word "yogi" in the name "PurpleYogi Discovery Systems." The word popularly translates into one who has an evolved mystical knowledge. The Purple Yogi software claims to understand information anywhere in the Internet by classifying documents into a rich directory of concepts using proprietary advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and information theory. The WSJ promises that "no matter how you manage your information today, PurpleYogi Discovery Systems will unlock the full value of your business information, knowledge and intellectual assets." Such a trademark only prevents someone else from calling a similar product by the same name.




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Hindu Priests Chant For The Dead Of India's Quake
Posted on 2001/2/10 22:48:02 ( 816 reads )


Source: The Associated Press





BHUJ, INDIA, February 7, 2001: In front of an altar fashioned from shipping crates, Hindu priests prayed for the victims of India's quake Wednesday, chanting Sanskrit verses and name after name into the dusty air, remembering those killed by the worst earthquake to hit India in 50 years. The prayer organizers, followers of the Gujarati saint, Lord Swaminarayan, used newspaper ads to encourage residents to phone in the names of the dead so that they could be read at the daylong service. Since many are not sure when their relatives died -- or have even managed to recover a body for cremation -- the priests decided to hold the service Wednesday for all the dead, said Sadhu Brahmaviharidas. The prayers will end the traditional mourning period observed by the survivors and help people move on with recovery efforts, Brahmaviharidas said. "After the 12th day, the soul goes on to the next life," he explained.




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Villagers Resolve Not To Sin
Posted on 2001/2/10 22:47:02 ( 792 reads )


Source: Deccan Chronicle





DHORI, INDIA, February 4, 2001: Thousands of villagers in quake-stricken Gujarat vowed to lead a more reverent life after local priests declared that the Earth, revered as Mother Goddess, had roared and shuddered under the weight of sin. After the January 26 earthquake, villagers believe they have to be more religious to avoid future disasters. Local priests said the quake was provoked by rampant corruption, rising immorality and neglect of religion. "Bad deeds are blacker than mascara and sins are heavier than the earth," said priest Gosai Haripur. "Why else would our mother cause such destruction?" he asked. The quake devested Dhori, but struck at a time when most of the villagers were in the fields. Only 10 of its inhabitants died. Villagers said they never faced hunger and disease because people had decided to be good to each other since the disaster. People with cows are giving away milk free and those with fields are distributing food.




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Quake Can't Shake Caste System, Claim Catholics
Posted on 2001/2/10 22:46:02 ( 753 reads )


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LAKHOND, INDIA, February 8, 2001: Even though streets are strewn with rubble and houses are useless heaps of stone, one structure that can't be shaken in India, even by a killer earthquake is the caste system, according to this report in the Indian Express. The town has six distinct tent camps for the earthquake homeless - four different Hindu castes, the untouchables and Muslims. All the camps are separate. Relief groups find themselves wrestling with the country's ingrained social hierarchy to get help to everybody. "The whole issue of making sure all the castes are included has been a challenge,'' Graham Saunders of Catholic Relief Services said. "Whatever the distribution of aid, it first goes to the upper castes,'' claimed Mayuri Mistry, a Catholic Relief Services worker in Gujarat. Other reports, however, indicate that villages are working in excellent cooperation across both caste and religious lines.




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