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GST Impact: As Tirupati Temple Faces $15.5 Million Tax Burden, Your Religious Trip May Get Expensive

Posted on 2017/7/5 18:24:50 ( 840 reads )


INDIA, June 19, 2017 (First Post): [HPI is posting several stories today on the impact of the new GST tax on Hindu institutions. There are some descrepancies between the reports.]

A whopping US$7.75-15.5 million Goods and Service Tax (GST) burden stares at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) which manages the world's richest temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala. This is thanks to the flagship tax reform regime of the Modi government - GST - that rolls out from 1 July. The ancient Vaishnavite shrine has all along been exempted from sales tax, wealth tax and income tax besides VAT by the Centre and state governments in the past and the current mandatory slapping of GST on temples is annoying a lot of people. "The ruling BJP and NDA spent thousands of crores on cleaning river Ganga and building Ram temple at Ayodhya but is slapping such a huge burden on Hindu devotees," said C. Rangarajan, president of Telangana Archaka Samakhya, an association of priests.

There are 3,000 temples in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, of which over 70 percent will come under the tax net of $31,000 annual revenue. So far, most temples enjoyed exemption from VAT, by the respective state governments. This power has been withdrawn thanks to the GST regime and made it mandatory for these temples to be taxed. There has been a wave of protests and outbursts from pious and devout Hindus in the recent past over this. The temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala managed by the TTD will be worst hit. It has a footfall of almost 100,000 devotees per day and a Hundi collection of $309,000-463,000 daily. GST will now onwards be slapped on rest-houses and services including arjita sevas and special darshan tickets.

More at "source" above.

GST Council Exempts Prasadam, Human Hair From Tax at Tirupati Temple

Posted on 2017/7/5 18:24:39 ( 571 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 20, 2017 (Financial Express): Accepting the request of the state government, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Sunday decided to exempt Prasadam and human hair at the Tirupati temple from tax. The proposal was placed by the Andhra Pradesh minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu during the 17th GST Council meeting which was held in New Delhi. In the meeting, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu had said that the Tirupati Trust is a reputed religious trust involved in services to hundreds of thousands of devotees every day.

GST Impact: FinMin Cuts Through Rumours, Slams Reports Stating Temple Trusts Have to Pay While Churches, Mosques are Exempt

Posted on 2017/7/5 18:24:29 ( 591 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 3, 2017 (Financial Express): The Ministry of Finance on Monday slammed all the rumors that are doing the rounds over social media stating that temple trusts have to pay the GST while the churches and mosques have been exempted. The Press Information Bureau, on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India issued a Press release stating, "Appeal to people not to start circulating wrong messages on social media as no distinction is made in the GST Law on any provision based on religion."

6.5 Million Books Put on Line in India

Posted on 2017/7/5 18:24:18 ( 726 reads )


PUDUCHERRY, INDIA, June 23, 2016 (Pondicherry University Press Release): All book reading fans please check this new initiative from the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. 6.5 million books are now available in one single portal where you can read online or download the books. There are textbooks, audio and video content.

National Digital Library is an initiative by HRD Ministry. It is a huge collection of learning resources from primary to PG level students can use free of charge. To register, go to "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/7/5 18:24:08 ( 461 reads )


Spirituality is neither the privilege of the poor nor the luxury of the rich. It is the choice of the wise man.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993), founder of Chinmaya Mission

Devotees Relieved as Temple Services, Rituals Spared of GST

Posted on 2017/7/4 20:30:19 ( 605 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, June 28, 2017 (Times of India): HPI NOTE: Further articles which we will run shortly describe the complex interaction of temple activities with the new Goods and Services Tax.

Devotees, who want to fulfil vows in various temples in Tamil Nadu besides sevas, special poojas and taking part in the ritual of pulling gold and silver chariots, will be spared of GST (Goods and Services Tax). This will continue even after GST is introduced on July 1. But, devotees who use lodgings offered by the state-run Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department in temple towns whose tariff is above 1,000 per day will have to pay more.

"Some sections in GST Act exempt temples from paying tax. This includes sevas and darshans in temples in places like Palani, Tiruchendur and Rameswaram. All prasadams, including the Palani panchamirtham, are also exempted under GST," chartered accountant G Sekar told TOI. Meanwhile, the HR&CE department, which is managing 38,000 temples in Tamil Nadu, has asked the state government to waive GST on temples. "We have given a list based on the services in various temples in the state for which there should not be any tax. As of now, there is no tax or service charge on these services provided in temple. We want the situation to prevail after July 1," said a senior HR&CE official.

The Problems of Genetics and the Aryan issue

Posted on 2017/7/4 20:28:14 ( 587 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, June 29, 2017 (The Hindu, by Michel Danino): Tony Joseph's article ("How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate, June 16) on how recent genetic studies of Indian populations might be "settling the Aryan migration debate" attempts to summarise polemical as well as technical aspects of the contribution of genetics to the debate in question. I will focus here mostly on methodological issues to argue that the conclusions of two recent studies Mr. Joseph's article heavily leans on are much shakier than conveyed. (Those are "A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent", published earlier this year in BMC Evolutionary Biology, which I will refer to as "Silva et al." after its first author, and "Reconstructing Indian population history" by David Reich and four co-authors, published in Nature in 2009, henceforth "Reich et al.")

To begin with, most studies of population genetics suffer from shortcomings and flaws, some of which are currently unavoidable, while others are the result of subjective, personal choices. The larger public interested in the field of population genetics should be all the more aware of this problematics as genetic studies come to us in a scientific garb; in actual fact, they are scientific only in part; there is still much room for human prejudice and error.

Rest of this long article at "source" above follwed by a response from Tony Joseph.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/7/4 20:26:10 ( 475 reads )


It is fitting to describe the Self as awareness dissolving into itself, as when you come out of it, there is no experience to remember, only a new perspective, a total perspective from which you then view the mind.
-- Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, publisher of Hinduism Today

First Batch of Pilgrims Leaves for Amarnath

Posted on 2017/7/3 19:35:25 ( 626 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, June 28, 2017 (The Hindu): The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims left here for the cave shrine in the Kashmir Valley amid extraordinary security arrangements after intelligent inputs cautioned of militant attacks, police said. A total of 2,280 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here for the Himalayan cave shrine in Anantnag district in 72 vehicles at 5:22 a.m., a police official said.

Given the prevailing law and order situation in the valley, a multi-layered security arrangement manned by the Army, CRPF, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police have been provided for the safe passage of the yatris right from their entry into Lakhanpur in Kathua district. This year 212,000 yatris have registered for the pilgrimage to the Hindu cave shrine situated nearly 14,000 feet above the sea level. The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon. Devotees believe the structure symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

Hindus Converge to Pray to Maha Kali

Posted on 2017/7/3 19:35:14 ( 565 reads )


FIJI, July 2, 2017 (Fiji Sun): A three-day Hindu ritual and prayer in Vunika Labasa has brought together around 300 people to offer their thanksgiving to their divine mother Maha Kali. Pundit Shiva Sami says this is an annual event for many South Indians in Labasa where they gather at the Vunika Temple and pray for more blessings.

Mr. Sami said the temple has been around for around 127 years and legend has it that the temple was established by a brahmin in the early Girmit (indentured labor) years at the foot of the hill where it is now located. He said devotees get together for more peace, good harvest, and prosperity and eliminate diseases. "We also seek for guidance, wealth and protection. The divine mother is known in many different forms but for this annual prayer we know her as Maha Kali," he said.

Propagandizing the Aryan Invasion Debate: A Rebuttal to Tony Joseph

Posted on 2017/7/3 19:35:04 ( 602 reads )


INDIA, June 22, 2017 (India Facts by A.L. Chavda): On June 16, 2017, an article appeared in The Hindu titled "How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate" by Tony Joseph. This article claims that the question of the origin of the Indo-Aryan people has been "settled," based on the findings of a research paper that was published three months ago. In this response, I will go into some detail to refute Joseph's claims. There are a number of reasons why Joseph's claims and conclusions are incorrect.

Joseph's article is typical of India's leftist has-beens: devoid of original research, based on other people's work, presents subjective opinions rather than hard results, and uses far-fetched and convoluted logic to make biased and untenable arguments that are unsupported by scientific evidence. It is perplexing that The Hindu published the article without fact-checking it. It is even more perplexing that The Hindu employs non-scientists to write articles about hard science, and presents their subjective opinions as facts.

Full lengthy rebuttal at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/7/3 19:34:53 ( 351 reads )


Do not look upon yoga as something beyond you or as calling for any extraordinary efforts. You can remain in your station of life, carry on your work and at the same time embark on the yogic path. Do japa, prayer, kirtan, meditation and asanas regularly.
-- Swami Sivanada (1887-1963), founder of Divine Life Society

Chinese Allow Kailash Pilgrimage as Usual Via Uttarakhand Route

Posted on 2017/7/2 18:05:00 ( 547 reads )


PITHORAGARH, INDIA, June 29, 2017 (Times of India): China's declaration on Tuesday that no Indian pilgrim will be allowed to proceed on the Kailash Mansarovar yatra till the Sikkim border row is resolved may have stalled the yatra through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim, but the pilgrimage is proceeding smoothly through the other route in Uttarakhand taken by pilgrims to reach the revered lake.

Officials of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN), the nodal agency which is co-ordinating the yatra through the Lipulekh pass in Dharchula near Pithoragarh, told TOI that the first batch of 56 pilgrims had returned using the pass on Wednesday even as the third batch comprising 56 pilgrims entered Chinese territory on the same route. The yatra through the Lipulekh pass follows the old route taken by pilgrims to reach Mansarovar, and is considered the tougher of the two trekking routes earmarked for the yatra by the ministry of external affairs.

Obama to Visit Prambanan Temple on Thursday

Posted on 2017/7/2 18:04:50 ( 450 reads )


SIEMAN, YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA, June 28, 2017 (ANTARA News) - Former US president Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Prambanan Temple on the outskirt of Yogyakarta on Thursday during his vacation in Indonesia, an official said on Wednesday. The management of Prambanan Temple has tasked an archaeologist of the Yogyakartas Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency, Wahyu Astuti, to serve as a guide for Obama and his family during their visit to the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia.

As a guide for Obama, Astuti will focus on the importance of the temple rather than the history behind it. "The temple is a very special historical heritage. It is a masterpiece of the Indonesian ancestors. This masterpiece is second to none in the world," Astuti stated. The Obamas arrived in Bali on Friday last week on a nine-day trip to Indonesia.

Australian Hindus Increase 533% in Last 25 Years, Census Says

Posted on 2017/7/2 18:04:40 ( 521 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, June 28, 2017 (Latin American Herald Tribune): The Australian population is aging, more ethnically diverse and less religious than in the past, according to the 2016 national census released on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. About 95.1 percent of the Australian population responded to the census, which is carried out every five years. The 2016 census established the country's total population at 23,401,892.

About 29.6 percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 22 percent in 2011 and a large jump from one percent in 1966. The census also showed a decline in the number of people declaring themselves Christian, from 88 percent in 1966 to 52 percent in 2016. In contrast, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim devotees have increased by 533, 200 and 160 percent respectively, in the last 25 years. The census also revealed that the country is aging, with one in six Australians being over 65 years old.

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