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Christians Demand Probe of Conversion

Posted on 2002/6/20 9:48:02 ( 1169 reads )

Source: The Hindu

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, June 19, 2002: The Global Council of Indian Christians has demanded an enquiry into the alleged conversion of 143 tribal Christians into Hinduism by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Orissa's Sundargarh district on June 16. In a statement issued today, the national convener of the council, Sajan K. George, alleged that the conversions were done in contravention of the provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act and "connivance" of the government machinery. Before conversion, the tribals belonged to Oram, Munda and Khadia tribes and were not Hindus, Mr. George claimed. HPI adds: It has been a tact developed in the last few years for Christians to claim that the tribal people of India are not Hindus, as they have been traditionally regarded, but of another, "tribal," religion. By a calculation made in one Hinduism Today article (www.hinduismtoday.com/1989/02/, "The Big Business of Evangelizing:), it costs the missionaries about US$6,000 to convert one Hindu to Christianity. The 143 tribals, then, would represent a loss of $858,000, and the VHP's claimed total of 5,000 reconverted tribals, $30 million.

The Changing Face of Maternity Wards to Accommodate Immigrants

Posted on 2002/6/20 9:47:02 ( 1096 reads )


WASHINGTON, May 11, 2002: Hospitals, and in particular maternity wards, have had to adapt to multicultural traditions and practices in an attempt to meet the needs of immigrant mothers in the last ten years. In the last decade half of all births in the U.S. have been to mothers born outside the country, compared to one in three births in 1990. At the Holy Cross Hospital, an Indian gentleman from Bombay brings his wife home-cooked curries because the elders of his family insist that a new mother eat certain grains and seeds. On the same ward, a nurse struggles with a Vietnamese grandmother who insists that she not place a cold pack on the new mother's body to reduce swelling. In that culture the belief is that cold will disrupt a person's equilibrium leading to bad health. To accommodate the culture of African countries, Holy Cross has ordered special biohazard containers so that patients can take the placenta home and bury it. Similar efforts to accommodate new mothers of different cultures are being put into place at Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly. Women are allowed to give birth in a variety of positions as suggested by their traditional customs. More visitors are allowed in delivery rooms at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church. This is especially important to Latin American women who want their extended family nearby. Elita Rosillo-Christiansen, supervisor of multicultural initiatives at Inova, says, "Its extremely challenging, because you don't just have to worry about meeting the language or religious needs of one culture, but of multiple cultures and multiple beliefs and values surrounding health care." To meet the demand, hospitals have hired multicultural experts to run sensitivity workshops and to write internal guides to assist the medical staff in understanding how to relate to different traditions. Patti DiGiovanni, a nurse at Holy Cross, admits that there are challenges. However, she adds that the diversity has made her job more interesting and she has learned alot about other cultures even though she has not travelled outside the U.S.

India Reborn in Silicon Valley

Posted on 2002/6/20 9:46:02 ( 1121 reads )


CALIFORNIA, USA, June 15, 2002: Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley say they have done what their homeland could not: raise respect for itself. At an annual conference Friday put on by the Indus Entrepreneurs, speakers talked about how expatriate businessmen are helping transform the subcontinent's rigid, closed economy into a success. "India's struggle for economic freedom started in the Valley," Narayan Murthy, told the morning crowd of 2,400 investors, entrepreneurs and others hoping to tap into the powerful business network in Santa Clara. Founded in the Valley in 1992, the group now has 38 chapters and 8,000 members worldwide. Murthy, chairman of Infosys, a software services company, compared Indian entrepreneurs living abroad with Mohandas Gandhi, who began his peaceful struggle for India's independence from Britain while in South Africa. Likewise, Indian expatriates are bringing jobs and new ideas to their ancestral land. Even as it expands, the group hopes to maintain its distinct identity, for example with its mentoring program.

Stories the Western Press Loves: "India Villagers Marry Off Two Donkeys"

Posted on 2002/6/20 9:45:02 ( 1110 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 20, 2002: As if there is nothing better to report on in India, today's Associated Press carried this single story on Hinduism: "The drought-plagued residents of a small village in southern India organized a ceremonial wedding for two donkeys to appease the Hindu god of rain, a news report said Thursday. Dressed up like a bride and groom, the donkeys were escorted to a temple in the village of Sakkayanayakanur in Tamil Nadu state on Wednesday, the Press Trust of India reported. There, a local priest chanted prayers and led the donkeys in a ritual ceremony to propitiate the rain god, Varuna. The beasts were then led in a procession that ended with a wedding feast -- for the donkeys and local villagers. The donkey wedding was the second to be held in the small Indian village, which like much of the country has endured months of drought, aggravated by a heat wave that has claimed hundreds of lives. Temperatures in some areas have soared as high as 118 degrees. The seasonal monsoons, which feed the agricultural economy of Tamil Nadu, have started late in parts of southern India this year." No explanation of the custom is offered, nor whether past donkey marriages were followed by the lifting of a drought.

Orissa Christian Tribals Reconvert to Hinduism

Posted on 2002/6/19 9:49:02 ( 1115 reads )


ROURKELA, ORISSA, June 18, 2002: Altogether 143 Christian tribals, belonging to 47 families, have been reconverted to Hinduism at an Atma Suddhi Yagna ceremony held at Tainsar village under Brahmanitaranga police station, about 30 km from here, police said. The ceremony to mark the reconversion of the tribals, belonging to the Oram community, was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday. The tribals, many among them women, attended the yagna after a bath and were provided new clothes. VHP sources said the tribals, who were Hindus, had been converted to Christianity and were returning to their original faith.

Yoga for Reforming Prisoners

Posted on 2002/6/19 9:48:02 ( 969 reads )


NAHAN, INDIA, June 16, 2002: Inmates of the local Central Model Jail are on the way to reforming themselves with the help of yoga. The gradual transformation is the result of the voluntary efforts of Mr. Sharad Katara, who is a yoga teacher helping inmates bring about a better change in their lives. Inmates wake up early in the morning and gather on the jail premises, patiently waiting for their teacher to come and begin classes. About 30 inmates were attending the classes, most of them go regularly. It is reported that the inmates have shown signs of improvement in their behavior and attitude and their chronic ailments had also been cured. They also felt less tense and depressed. Mr Katara was hopeful of considerable transformation in their lives in the near future.

Manushi Appeals for Contributions to Gujarat Relief Fund

Posted on 2002/6/19 9:47:02 ( 1274 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, June 19, 2002: Manushi magazine has established a relief fund for victims of the Gujarat riots. Their press release reads, "The Gujarat riots have rendered nearly 200,000 people homeless in their own home land. Equally alarming is the government's refusal to provide necessary relief and rehabilitation. Moreover, very few secular agencies have undertaken relief work. Victims from the minority community have been left at the mercy of their religious leaders. This is bound to sharpen the already dangerous communal divide. It is specially important that young children who have experienced or witnessed gruesome forms of communal violence do not grow up feeling totally estranged and bitter from other communities. For this we need to build concrete bridges of communication and caring. Towards this end, Manushi invites contributions for supporting the education of children from riot affected families and help in rebuilding destroyed homes. We will identify recipients in collaboration with local NGOs and keep you informed about the use of the money through pages of Manushi and our website." For further information, e-mail "source" above, or send contributions to Manushi, C 1/3 Sangam Estate, 1 Underhill Road Civil Lines, Delhi, 110054, India.

U.S. Companies Worry They May Take Blame For Obesity

Posted on 2002/6/19 9:46:02 ( 1029 reads )


USA, June 13, 2002: Fearing they may be held responsible for the nation's expanding waistline, U.S. food and beverage makers are going on the defensive with obesity. Some packaged-food companies are contemplating advertisements that would discourage consumers from overeating their products. A handful are giving exercise equipment to schools and expanding the health-and-wellness information on their Web sites. Others are mulling legal issues in case they are accused in lawsuits of promoting a growing national health crisis. In December, a surgeon General's report warned that obesity rates in the U.S. had reached epidemic levels and called for a "national plan of action." Last month, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the powerful food-trade group, urged a congressional panel not to blame individual foods as the cause of America's weight gain. Recently a handful of lawsuits have accused food companies of deceptive marketing. Sued for billing its french fries as vegetarian, even though they are made with a beef flavoring, McDonald's Corp., said it would donate $10 million to Hindu groups and others in the U.S. as a partial settlement. A similar complaint was filed against Pizza Hut, alleging that the company concealed the use of beef products in its "vegetarian" pizzas. While the current litigation mainly targets companies for allegedly misleading claims, not for selling fattening foods, some legal experts see the cases as a portent for future obesity suits.

Kashmir Attack Leaves Six People Dead

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:49:02 ( 1055 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, June 16, 2002: Islamic guerrillas threw grenades and fired guns at Hindu pilgrims trudging down from a mountaintop shrine in Jammu-Kashmir, starting a battle that killed three Hindu children and three of the pilgrims' Muslim escorts, police said Sunday. This is a revision to yesterday's report that stated only two people were killed. Religious tension swept through two towns near the site of the fighting Saturday after rumors spread that the Muslims, Muslim members of the local Village Defense Committee, armed and trained by the government to defend against guerrilla attacks, were actually killed by Hindus avenging the deaths of the children -- two boys and a teen-age girl. Police in Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir, said militants lobbed grenades and fired automatic weapons at about 500 Hindu pilgrims Saturday afternoon as they walked down a mountain path from the shrine of Hadh Mata, 120 miles northeast of Jammu. Seven pilgrims were wounded, and three of them -- two boys, 11 and 13, and a girl, 17 -- died on way to a hospital, police said. Police and armed escorts traveling with the pilgrims fired back, and a gunbattle persisted for hours, police said. Two Muslim escorts and a Muslim official traveling as a representative of the government were killed. Police said they died in the cross fire, but the rumors that their deaths were retaliation sparked religious tension in the mountain towns of Kishtwar and Bhadarwah. Police stepped up security to avert clashes.

Afghanistan's Hindus, Sikhs Hope to Re-Emerge in Post-Taleban Era

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:48:02 ( 1232 reads )


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, June 10, 2002: Afghanistan's tiny Hindu and Sikh communities, forced to the brink of extinction by the Taleban regime, are hoping to make a social and political re-emergence at the Loya Jirga Assembly from June 10 to 16. Community leaders said their presence at the assembly was a reassertion of the rights of the nation's only non-Muslim minorities and that they expected the tribal gathering to alleviate the suffering of the country's 30,000 Sikhs and Hindus, most of who have fled." We want somebody who would treat all Afghans -- irrespective of their religious and ethnic backgrounds -- as his own equal children," said Awtar Singh, a delegate to the Loya Jirga from the eastern province of Paktia. Sikhs and Hindus, united in adversity, are close in Afghanistan. In predominantly Muslim Afghanistan, they share the same temples as well as many religious ceremonies."We are from Afghanistan, having to share its every joy and grief. Loya Jirga is very important for us because we have suffered under the Taleban, we had our temples destroyed," he said. Autar Singh, an ex-officer from the Paktia Army Corps, recounted a long list of edicts announced by the religious militia which were aimed at eventually ridding Afghanistan of its Hindu and Sikh population. "We were told not to wear Muslim outfits, not to carry guns, not to mingle with Muslims, not to build more temples, to wear yellow clothes and to put up yellow flags on our houses and shops," he said.

UK Hindus Outraged by Images of Gods and Goddesses on Fruit Cakes

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:47:02 ( 1006 reads )


LONDON, U.K., May 3, 2002: The appearance of an image of Lord Ganesha, Lord Siva, Lord Krishna or Goddess Lakshmi on iced fruit cakes, sold by Selfridges on Oxford Street, has caused alarm with some Hindus in the United Kingdom. Bimal Krishna Das of the UK Council of Hindu Temples said, "I think this is depicting the Hindu pantheon in a mocking way." Vishva Hindu Parishad's UK general secretary Kishore Ruparelia adds, "I am flabbergasted that they have gone to these lengths to depict our gods and goddesses." Made by a company called Seriously Scrumptious for the Selfridge store, the hand made cakes are one of many luxury deserts. Rita Hraiz, company founder who is half-Indian and half Lebanese says, " We put love into what we do. We are not embarrassed to talk about our spiritual leanings. Quite a lot of our staff have been to India and feel a lot of love for the country and 20 per cent of our profits go to the Tulsi Trust, which serves some villages near Vrindavan."

Animal Testing -- for the Birds?

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:46:02 ( 1148 reads )


USA, June 3, 2002: Scientists have long depended on animals to help them understand and explain the human condition. Nearly one-half of all grants awarded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund animal experiments. This amounts to several billion US dollars a year. This lengthy article offers debates of those who support in-vitro biomedical research, or research that takes place in an artificial environment, as well as those who favor in-vivo methods, research which take place in the living bodies of animals. Ray Greek, director of Americans for Medical Advancement, claims using animal models is not only a waste of time but inherently harmful. "For 10 years, in-vivo methods misled AIDS researchers. No result obtained from primate studies can be seriously considered valid in humans as long as the observation has not been made in man also." The article further states that of 11,000 anticancer chemicals developed in mice, none helped humans and while 5 milligrams of botulinum kills man, 10 grams has no effect on dogs or cats. Some animal tests have lead to erroneous conclusions,for instance, that smoking is noncarcinogenic and that benzene is safe. Critics of in-vivo methods argue that animals don't accurately represent humans, that naturally occurring diseases cannot be artificially induced and one cannot safely assume a correlation between animal reaction to a drug and that of humans. Alternative methods include autopsy and biopsy, physical models, genetic research and mathematical and computer modeling.

Venice-Varanasi Seek Twin Cities Relationship

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:45:02 ( 1028 reads )


VARANASI, INDIA, June 15, 2002: The local administration has responded to an offer from Italy seeking collaboration between the two ancient cities of Venice and Varanasi to fight against pollution and all other agents that destroy the quality of human life as well as environment. Divisional commissioner Manoj Kumar is likely to visit Venice soon to finalize the project. In February last year, state investment commissioner, posted in New Delhi, received an e-mail from Alberto Cannetta of Italy, highlighting the cultural importance of the two cities. It was further stated that the work done by Consorzio Laguna, an institution tackling the pollution menace, had been universally considered as an example of the man's fight to preserve environment and water resources for a better future for the city. In the light of the recent meeting between UP chief minister and Union minister for urban development in Varanasi, some concrete projects might be identified for implementation in the holy city. "Adoption of Varanasi as a sister city will not only give a major boost to tourism but also help in all-round development of the millennia old city," said Anoop Srivastava, assistant director, UP Tourism.

Archaeological Dig Revels Extensive Roman Sea Trade with India

Posted on 2002/6/16 9:44:02 ( 1147 reads )

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

BERENIKE, EGYPT, June 12, 2002: Excavation of an ancient seaport on Egypt's Red Sea found spices, gems and other exotic cargo showing that sea trade linking the Roman Empire and India 2,000 years ago rivaled the legendary Silk Road at times, archaeologists say. Co-directors of the dig, Willeke Wendrich, of the University of California, Los Angeles and Steven Sidebotham, of the University of Delaware, report their findings in the July issue of the journal Sahara. Archaeologists who have spent the last nine years excavating the town of Berenike say they have recovered an array of artifacts that are the best physical evidence yet of the extent of sea trade between the Roman Empire and India. They also uncovered numerous beams hewn of teak, a wood indigenous to India, and Indian sailcloth. The dry climate at Berenike preserved many organic materials from India that have never been found in the more humid subcontinent. Indian pottery found in the 30-acre site suggests Indian traders lived in the town amid a hodgepodge of other cultures. Archaeologists found evidence that a dozen different scripts, including Tamil-Brahmi, Greek, Latin and Hebrew, were used in Berenike. Elizabeth Lyding Will, an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said the finds help add "a whole new dimension to Roman archaeology." "It looks to me that India was some sort of engine driving Roman trade during the early empire. It could have been the chief focus of their trade."

Religious Leaders Launch Effort to End World Conflicts

Posted on 2002/6/15 9:49:02 ( 1075 reads )


BANGKOK, THAILAND, June 13, 2002: More than 100 religious leaders of major faiths launched a world peace council on Wednesday, pledging to work toward reducing sectarian conflicts, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The council was established at the start of a three-day meeting in Bangkok of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Jain, Muslim and Hindu clerics with the support of the United Nations. The World Council of Religious Leaders, which aims to actively intervene in conflict areas, is the outcome of the recommendations of the Millennium World Peace Summit held at the United Nations in August 2000. "There is a sense of somber urgency among the leaders" to work for peace, said Bawa Jain, secretary general of the Millennium World Peace Summit. "The use of religion to promote divisiveness and violence must be countered by religious leaders from all traditions willing to become actively engaged in peace building," he said. Addressing the conference, Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau said religion has caused many gulfs between peoples "but religion can also be a bridge. Let's build the bridges and work together to freedom, to love, to peace for the entire world," he said. The news report did not say who the Hindu representatives to the council were.

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