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Teenage Virginity Pledges Prove Effective
Posted on 2001/1/5 22:46:02 ( 829 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 3, 2001: According to a recent study, teenagers who take virginity pledges, promising to abstain from sex until marriage, often delay intercourse significantly longer than those who do not make a public commitment to chastity. The study, financed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, analyzed the answers of 6,800 students from 141 schools to a range of questions. The study is the first to provide strong data that shows that pledges do make a difference. When researchers controlled for characteristics associated with delaying sexual intercourse, they found that those who had taken chastity pledges delayed sex about 18 months longer than virgins who had never taken a pledge. The report found that the pledges did not hold when only one teenager took them but required the support of like-minded classmates. That is because taking a public stand on turning down sex offers teens an identity, much the way joining a club does. The pledges seemed more effective with 15 and 16-year-olds, and least effective with 18-year-olds. Tamara Kreinen, president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said half the country's teenagers had sex by the time they graduated high school.




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Russian Mythology May be Rooted in Vedic Culture
Posted on 2001/1/4 22:49:02 ( 585 reads )


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MOSCOW, RUSSIA, December 30, 2000: The mythological Grandfather Frost rooted in Indo-European culture delights children during New Year festivities in Russia by delivering presents. According to a Russian scholar, Grandfather Frost as the dear old man will be shedding his mask to reveal his true identity as Varuna, the Hindu Vedic God of the Seas. This revelation is expected to take place in the year 2003 marking the age of Aquarius. The Moscow government has provided funds to build two homes for the deity and his consort, the Snow Maiden. Parties, craft exhibitions and contests will be hosted at these wonderlands for the children of Russia.




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New Delhi Government Clamps Down on Smoking
Posted on 2001/1/4 22:48:02 ( 807 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 30, 2000: With one life every ten seconds being claimed by fatal diseases such as lung cancer and chronic bronchitis, the Delhi government has decided to forbid the sale of tobacco products to youth under the age of 18 years. It is hoped that the new law will curb the wide-spread use of the habit which captures 5,500 new victims every day. Most of these new smokers are adolescents and children, some as young as ten years of age. Merchants and vendors are deterred from making sales to minors by the consequence of heavy fines or even imprisonment. See also www.timesofindia.com/today/01indi25.htm




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Ban on Bangles and Bindis
Posted on 2001/1/4 22:47:02 ( 800 reads )


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ORISSA, INDIA: Hindu girls are forced to tuck their bangles and bindis into their school satchels before entering the premises of St. Mary's Convent to attend school. Individuals have protested against the ban, including the mother of a young girl who said her daughter was beaten for wearing the traditional Hindu women's attire to school. The state chief of one Hindu group, Subash Chouban, has called the prohibition, "An act against Hinduism." However, no action has been taken against the school about the allegations as many individuals fear their children's expulsion from the well-respected convent that has a good educational record. Also school management will not bend long enforced rules.




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Finnish Fusion Fest
Posted on 2001/1/4 22:46:02 ( 918 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, January 1, 2001: Finnish composer and pianist, Eero Hameenniemi, has been taken with Carnatic music ever since he first heard it. Eero and his ensemble, aptly named "Nada," are now in Chennai and were scheduled to perform with mridangam maestro Karaikudi Mani's "Srutilaya" January 4 at the Narada Gana Sabha.The Finnish group has been experimenting with improvisations in Western music and Carnatic music and has given a lecture demonstration. Eero has been organizing concerts of Carnatic musicians in Finland by arranging an exchange program between artists of Bridhaddhvani Music Reasearch Centre of Chennai and Sibilius academy of Helsinki. Eero Hameenniemi met Karaikudi Mani in 1996 and in 1998 invited him to be a part of the Helsinki biennial with Harishankar, T. V. Vasan and Kannan, to play with the Helsinki Philharmonic. The program was a great success. Eero Hameenniemi has been in Chennai since November, enjoying music concerts and brushing up on his Tamil.




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Rock 'N' Roll to Tagore
Posted on 2001/1/3 22:49:02 ( 937 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





SANTINIKETAN, INDIA, December 28, 2000: Imagine tuning in to your favorite radio station and hearing Rabindranath Tagore's verses sung to a catchy pop tune. The Visva Bharati Trust, to which Tagore willed all his words, is trying to interest young singers and musicians in over 2,300 verses penned by Tagore. According to Trust chairman, Dilip Kumar Sinha, the verses would be well suited to Western pop, rock, jazz, and even blues music. Anyone can put the verses to tune, with, of course, permission from the Trust, to ensure that the music provided and the manner in which a verse is sung is in keeping with the spirit of the original verse. Sinha feels the works are in danger of being lost and forgotten and insists Tagore would have no objection to his verses being sung to Western tunes. What do you think? Madonna? Michael Jackson? The Backstreet Boys? Tina Turner......?




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Bal Thackeray Gets A Pat On The Back From Shankaracharya
Posted on 2001/1/3 22:48:02 ( 812 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, December 30, 2000: The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Swami Jayendra Saraswati is in Mumbai to present the National Eminence Awards instituted by the South Indian Education Society. In an interview the seer spoke of his support of Bal Thackeray's brand of Hindutva -- regarded as extreme even by Hindu nationalists -- and why he's forgiven the latter for rising to power on a hate-Tamilians campaign decades ago. "Thackeray was misguided then but now he has given it all up to espouse the cause of Bharat and Hindutva. [It appears] aggression is the need of the times. Even the scriptures recommend this. The Moslems have their supporters in the Persian Gulf, the Christians get money from the West through the Church and the government and the courts seem obsessed with protecting only the minorities. So what happens to the majority? How long should we sacrifice to appease minorities? It is here that leaders like Thackeray who can mobilize Hindus become crucial. If his style is high-handed then so be it. Like I said, it is necessary." Later in the same interview, the Shankaracharya comments on India' atomic bomb, "The use of science and technology to kill is wrong by itself. But you need to be prepared with preventive strike power since we are surrounded by enemies. In that light the bomb has fulfilled a big need. It has changed the way the world and our neighbors look at us (laughs). The bomb can take care of the enemies without but the real problem are the enemies within."




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Couples Banned From Dancing In Rajkot
Posted on 2001/1/3 22:47:02 ( 1003 reads )


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RAJKOT, INDIA, December 31, 2000: Three Hindu organizations, the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena, have banned couples from dancing together during New Year's parties in Rajkot, citing as their reason that it is against Hindu culture. Two hotels in the city, the Garden Water Park and Motel The Village, requested the police for permission to organize dance parties, but the police seemed to favor the right-wing organizations. Raju Dave, local president of the Bajrang Dal, told rediff.com that he believed that "these types of celebration are an attack on our culture." He added that if they found couples dancing "indecently," they would ask organizers to stop it or face the Bajrang Dal's wrath. Rajkot Police Commissioner Sudhir Sinha told rediff.com that dinner and music parties will be allowed but not dancing couples. The Bajrang Dal has also formed a special vigilante squad to stop such parties and keep a vigil throughout the New Year night.




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Rand Corporation Recommends De-South Asianization Of India
Posted on 2001/1/3 22:46:02 ( 797 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 28, 2000: A leading US think tank has urged the incoming Bush administration to forge a special relationship with India and develop a foreign policy toward New Delhi independent of a "South Asia" policy that lumps India with all other nations in the sub-continent. The Rand Corporation, the Pentagon's think tank, has called on the Bush team to urge Pakistan to show restraint on Kashmir and partner the international community in its fight against terrorism.




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Singapore Hindus Celebrate Thai Pusam
Posted on 2000/12/31 22:49:02 ( 834 reads )


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SINGAPORE, December 30, 2000: The Times of London reporter Fiona Terry winced when she met Hindu devotees at a Singapore festival. She writes, "It seemed an ungodly thing to do -- parade two miles through the streets of Singapore with spears through cheeks, hooks piercing the skin and shoes of upturned nails. Yet this wasn't some inexplicable form of masochism -- this was true devotion, a Hindu ritual of body transcendence in honor of the deity Lord Subramaniam." This colorful display of courage occurs at Thai Pusam, this lengthy report goes on, a Hindu festival celebrated every new year in Singapore and Malaysia. The extraordinary pilgrimage with its mortification of flesh is the worshippers' way of seeking penance.




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Poachers Kill Elephant in India
Posted on 2000/12/31 22:48:02 ( 833 reads )


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LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 1, 2001: Ivory poachers killed an elephant in an Indian wildlife reserve but were driven off by furious villagers, who consider the elephants sacred, and forest guards, before they could remove the elephant's tusks, officials said Monday. The carcass of the poisoned elephant was found Sunday in Corbett National Park, home to nearly 600 elephants -- 100 of them with tusks, said Puran Chandra Joshi, field director of the park. The elephant was the second killed by poachers in a week in the park in the Himalayan foothills. On Friday, the mutilated body of an elephant with its tusks removed was discovered in the park. As ivory prices soar in the international market, poachers are preying on lone and aging elephants in the reserve's dense forests, Joshi said. Since the use of guns attracts attention, poachers have turned to poison to kill the animals.




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"Kali's Child" Comes in For Criticism
Posted on 2000/12/31 22:47:02 ( 928 reads )


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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, December 20, 2000: The review of "Kali's Child" by Swami Tyagananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Boston, is up on the Infinity Foundation website. His review discusses every instance of the Bengali translation that he considers as false, misleading or from a non-existent source. It is 100+ pages in length. For those who are new to this matter, "Kali's Child" was the PhD dissertation by Jeff Kripal at Univ of Chicago. The thesis concluded that Ramakrishna was homosexual, based on referring to various texts in Bengali. But later when challenged, the author admitted that he was not an expert in Bengali language. The book has sold well. It has angered many Hindus for what they consider its unfounded analysis and use of discredited Freudian theories. The Swami's report is a welcome, in-depth analysis of what many believed to be flawed scholarship.




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Stonemasons' London Windfall Changes Their Life in India
Posted on 2000/12/30 22:49:02 ( 819 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 ( 816 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 ( 806 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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