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Hindu Press International
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Stonemasons' London Windfall Changes Their Life in India
Posted on 2000/12/30 22:49:02 ( 794 reads )


Source: The Sunday Times, London





DUNGARPAR, INDIA, December 17, 2000: Sharda Suthar, 30, and her family live a simple life in a tiny village in northwest India, until last week, when the illiterate mother of two heard that her husband, Suresh, 32, was one of 16 Indian stonemasons who had been awarded up to US$13,433 in back pay for their work on a Hindu temple in Wembley, north London. They had won a legal battle against employers who paid them as little as 45 cents an hour, less than a tenth of the minimum wage. In the villages of southern Rajasthan, it is a fortune. "We'll be able to build our own house and send the boys to good schools," said Suthar. "Perhaps my husband will also be able to start his own business." Such luxuries were unheard of even after Suthar was recruited in 1998, for $246 a month to be paid in cash back home. News of the windfall spread rapidly last week in Thana with newspapers still being read out to those who had never had the chance of an education. "Prosperity in the village will increase," said Deepak Acharya, a spokesman for the local authority. "Of course the money will not be for everyone, but for a few families and their relations it will be very good." Now that they are earning the minimum wage of $2.41 an hour, the men are happy to stay on in London.




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Tensions Rise in Ayodhya
Posted on 2000/12/30 22:48:02 ( 797 reads )


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AYODHYA, INDIA, December 18, 2000: Masons assembling the stonework for India's most controversial Hindu temple in Ayodhya near the demolished Babri Masjid have been ordered to finish their work by March 31. Babri Masjid was built after the temple marking the birthplace of Rama was destroyed by Muslims. Almost daily trucks arrive in the town's two dedicated Ram temple workshops bearing tons of Rajasthan's finest rosy sandstone to be carved to designs by the architect of the Swaminarayan temple in Neasden, North London. Here workmen squat on semi-finished pillars chiselling images of Ganesh, Hanuman and Goddesses, all under the careful eye of the the VHP. Officials make no effort to hide the preparations, showing where 21 foundation stones lie finished, grooved and numbered waiting only for the order to start assembly. Even as foremen told how their 50 craftsmen have already finished 60 per cent of the work -- including 106 of the 212 ornately carved pillars required -- a giant crane bearing "Victory for Ram" slogans swung another chunk of pink across to a circular saw.




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Police Halt Widow's Self-Immolation Attempt in Uttar Padesh
Posted on 2000/12/30 22:47:02 ( 784 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





LUCKNOW, INDIA, December 28, 2000: Police stopped a 32-year-old widow, Radha Rai, from committing sati -- burning herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre -- December 26. Radha, who had dressed as a newly-wed bride, said she had had a dream in which she was directed to commit sati, an ancient practice in some parts of India among martial castes. According to the news report, even her children did not try to stop her. However other villages alerted the police who arrived in time. They declined to arrest her, out of "human consideration." Had she succeeded, her relatives and others in attendance could have been prosecuted for murder. The last sati to be reported was November, 1999. Her village of Kidhauli is 270 miles miles southeast of Delhi. There are temples built at the site of satis, some visited by many devotees, mostly women.




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The Changing Face of Racism
Posted on 2000/12/29 22:49:02 ( 820 reads )


Source: The New Straits Times





BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, December 16, 2000: Birmingham and Leicester have found themselves in a demographic race to become the first British city with a majority non-white population. In Leicester, with a population of 270,500, the ethnic minority population is expected to surpass its white counterparts as early as 2011. Birmingham is not far behind. Both cities have large Asian communities from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as a substantial African and Afro-Caribbean residents. Currently, 45 percent of the school children in Leicester are from ethnic minorities. The 1991 census showed that Leicester had the largest non-white population in Britain with 28 percent. It was followed by Birmingham (21 percent), London (20 percent) and Bradford (19 percent). According to Operation Black Vote, a London-based organization that is trying to encourage ethnic minorities to participate in politics, the trend indicates the overall population mix will shift in a similar direction. It is estimated that this shift will take at least 50 years. Black and ethnic minority residents currently make up around seven percent of Britain's 57 million population. While such developments can be positive, bridging the racial, cultural and religious barriers can be a challenge. Intra-racial tension, unheard of in the past, is often a threat to the harmonious interaction between minorities. There is a marked difference between Africans who are obsessed with education and self-improvement and their Afro-Caribbean brothers who are considered less ambitious by the Africans. Divisions can be seen in the Indian community as people divide according to their faith -- Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The Chinese also find disparity in those who come from mainland China and the overseas Chinese who come from Hong Kong, The United States, Singapore and other countries. Even if all traces of white racism were to disappear, minorities must still contend with inter-ethnic prejudices.




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People in Kudus live in religious harmony.
Posted on 2000/12/29 22:48:02 ( 833 reads )


Source: Jakarta Post





KUDUS, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA, December 18, 2000: The becak (pedicab) is the main mode of transport in this small town of Kudus, 55 kilometers east of the Central Java capital Semarang. Once at the forefront of the spread of Islam, now the town is home to people of all religions. Kudus Tower and Al Aqsa Mosque, or Kudus Mosque, attract many visitors because of their historical value. Jafar Shodiq, later called Sunan Kudus -- one of the nine Islamic saints that disseminated Islam -- founded Kudus Mosque in 1549. Sunan Kudus was a thinker and tolerant scholar who, in spreading Islam in the once Hindu-dominated area of North Java, did not want to alienate the locals and expressed this in the Hindu architecture used on the tower. Sunan Kudus banned his Muslim followers from slaughtering cows out of respect for the Hindus, who believe the cow is a holy animal, a tradition that continues today.




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UK Media Provides Full Coverage of Maha Kumbha Mela
Posted on 2000/12/29 22:47:02 ( 805 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, December 30, 2000: Bathing in the sacred River Ganga for purification and upliftment is a grand event once every 12 years. Beginning January 6, 2001, BBC Channel 4 in the United Kingdom will be providing Hindu devotees with coverage of the Maha Kumbha Mela where tens of millions of pilgrims, sadhus, and gurus partake in the month-long divine ceremony.




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Jumpers Plan Millennium Leap
Posted on 2000/12/29 22:46:02 ( 814 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, December 30, 2000: Inspired to set a record that will never be challenged, 15 jumpers from 5 different countries have conspired to parachute consecutively from Malaysia's twin Petronas Towers, each 1,483 feet tall. Starting a few seconds before midnight on December 31st, the skydivers plan on successfully landing just past midnight for the actual beginning of the new millennium. Quoting Associated Press, "The jumpers will be leaping from one millennium and landing in another." According to one jumper, it will be one of the few times they are legally jumping off a building -- usually they face arrest for trespassing in pursuit of this very dangerous sport.




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Ayurveda College Offers Panch Karma Treatment
Posted on 2000/12/29 22:45:02 ( 941 reads )


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RISHIKESH, INDIA, December 26, 2000: For those interested in receiving the benefits of Panch Karma treatment, an ancient system of cleansing and healing that rebalances body, mind and spirit, Rishikesh College of Ayurveda is hosting such a retreat from February 7th to February 22nd, 2001.




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Hindu Re-elected Prime Minister in Trinidad
Posted on 2000/12/28 22:49:02 ( 995 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today, Paras Ramoutar





TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, December 28, 2000: Holding the "Bhagavad Gita," prime minister Basdeo Panday was sworn in as Trinidad and Tobago's sixth Prime Minister. He is the only Hindu to serve as prime minister since the twin-island republic gained independence from Britain in 1962. Mr. Panday's United National Congress won 19 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. Of 15 cabinet ministers sworn in as of December 28, five are devout Hindus. The peaceful elections took place during the holiday ceremonies of the island's diverse religious factions. The Muslims observed Ramadan, The Hindus celebrated Kartik Nehan, and Christians honored the birth of Christ. The prime minister's objectives for his 2000-2005 term include: sustainable growth, a more educated nation, a faster rate of development, more jobs, a better quality of life for all citizens, peace, security and harmony, and a competitive economy.




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NLFT Militants Kill Hindu Tribal Leader
Posted on 2000/12/28 22:48:02 ( 766 reads )


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AGARTALA, TRIPURA, December 27, 2000: Baptist insurgents of the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) raided Dalak, a Jamatia-dominated village at night on December 25 and killed Lab Kumar Jamatia, leader of Hoda Okhra, a religious organization of the community, for his refusal to embrace Christianity. Lab Kumar was beaten up severely and died at the Amarpur hospital Tuesday. Police are searching the area to nab the culprits. The Hoda Okhra recently called upon the people to resist insurgency in the state and not to step into the trap of Baptist insurgents to convert people from Hinduism to Christianity.




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Swadhyaya Parivar Movement in India
Posted on 2000/12/28 22:47:02 ( 957 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, December 28, 2000: Birthday celebrations for the acclaimed Pandurang Athavale were held last week on the banks of the Narmada River. Marking his 80th birthday and over 46 years of social service, the gathering was attended by over one million followers from all over the world. Promoting social change and healing, Athavale's philosophy known as the Swadhyaya Parivar movement has served to uplift the less fortunate who are taught mantras and Sanskrit shlokas. With renewed self-dignity, Swadhayi fishermen, harijans, farmers, diamond polishers and salt workers are encouraged to volunteer their services for the betterment on the community. To dissolve barriers, upper class Swadhajis are taught to foster relations with people from the lower classes. Quoting Hasmukh Modi, an old Swadhayi, "Parivar is a living philosophy that has narrowed the gap between the low and the high classes by bringing about an attitudinal change."




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A Look At the Year's Weirdest News
Posted on 2000/12/28 22:46:02 ( 819 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 24, 2000: The Washington Post has put together a list of the weirdest wackiest news this year, from all over the world. Two stood out to HPI. First is this one: Art patrons bought up Christie's entire collection of 60 paintings created by artists that also happen to be elephants, including works by Sao (a former log hauler in Thailand's timber industry), whose style was likened by Yale art historian Mia Fineman to the work of Paul Gauguin for its "broad, gentle, curvy brush strokes" and "a depth and maturity that remains unrivaled in the elephant art world." Fineman says there are three distinct regional styles of Thai elephant art: northern ("lyrical and expressive"), central ("dark, cooler" colors in "broad, vigorous strokes") and southern ("saturated tertiary colors"). The second item of "weird news" was this one: Astrologer Jacqueline Stallone (mother of actor Sly) said in a published pre-Election Day interview that her dogs -- a pair of miniature pinschers -- had told her telepathically that George W. Bush would win the presidency by 200 votes -- a fairly amazing prediction close to the actual vote in Florida by which Mr. Bush won.




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Students Turning to Religion for Solace
Posted on 2000/12/27 22:49:02 ( 804 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, December 27, 2000: Adopting a new religion or solidifying your devotion to a childhood faith is a growing movement on campuses across the nation. Those choosing a new faith are faced with the challenge of explaining new inner commitments to their family, while respecting their parent's faith and avoiding hurt feelings. Quoting Makin McDaid Abdulkhaliq, a Stafford graduate student who converted to Islam, "The initial stages of conversion are a trying time for all involved, and both sides must learn to accept their differences."




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UP Government Seeks Help to Keep Peace
Posted on 2000/12/27 22:48:02 ( 819 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





ALLAHABAD, INDIA, December 27, 2000: January 9, 2001 marks the beginning of the first Maha Kumbha Mela of the millennium in Allahabad. Tens of millions of people are expected through the month. The Uttar Pradesh government has solicited the help of the Army and Air Force to keep peace in the area. There is fear of a militant uprising after a recent shoot-out in Delhi.




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Tenzing Norgay was Tibetan
Posted on 2000/12/27 22:47:02 ( 792 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, December 25, 2000: The world's most famous Sherpa was really not a Sherpa at all. Tenzing Norgay, along with Edmund Hillary, were the first to conquer Mt. Everest in 1953. He was a Tibetan and not a Nepali, according to a new book. "Snow in the Kingdom," by American mountaineer Ed Webster claims Tenzing was born in Tibet and spent much of his childhood there. When Tenzing climbed Everest in 1953, both Nepal and India saw great propaganda value in claiming him, a humble-born Asian achieving global fame, as their own. Throughout his life, Tenzing remained vague about his background. This caution was partly explained by political wrangling. After climbing Everest, he was invited to England but lacked a passport. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru personally ensured the issuance of an Indian Passport which upset the Nepalese authorities. Nehru was also instrumental in the establishment of a mountaineering school in Darjeeling, which Tenzing helped to run. Tenzing died in 1986.




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