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In eight years, only one transgender gets fellowship for minorities

Only one transgender student was awarded fellowship by the Ministry of Minority Affairs under its ‘Maulana Azad National Fellowship’ scheme since 2009-10, the Lok Sabha was informed today.The Ministry is implementing MANF for minority students for pursuing higher studies such as full time M.Phil/Ph.D degrees in sciences, humanities, social sciences and engineering and technology.Over 750 students belonging to the minority communities get the fellowships every year, Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in written reply.”During the selection year 2017-18, one online application was received from candidate belonging to transgender community and was awarded fellowship,” he said.The student was the first in the transgender category to secure fellowship under the scheme since 2009-10.In 2017-18, Muslim students were awarded 517 fellowships, followed by Christian (109), Sikh (72), Buddhist (33) and Jain (25).Replying to another question, Naqvi said 18 states have constituted their own state minority commissions so far.However, no such panel was set up by any state or Union Territory in the last two years.Responding to another query, the minister said the National Wakf Development Corporation (NAWADCO) has identified properties across India, inlcuding Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Jodhpur, Pune and Aurangabad (Maharashtra) for consideration of development.He said Rajasthan has also shown interest in getting properties in Jaipur and Kota developed through NAWADCO.Letters of Expression of Interest have been received from State Waqf Boards of Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Chandigarh for commercial development of 24 waqf properties, Naqvi said.

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Decked up for 25

Festive spirit was palpable in the city as children and adults alike hit the pavement under the warm and pleasant winter sun to celebrate Christmas in their own unique ways. The energetic lot was busy exploring the decked up malls, eating out exotic lucheons and dinner and participating in charity events among other things. People from various religious backgrounds were spotted at several city-based Churches on December 24 to attend the mid-night mass. The Christian Missionary schools of the city like St Xavier’s, St Sophia, St Edmund’s and St Anslem’s were heavily decked up as a part of the celebrations.“We wait for this day all year long. Apart from attending the celebrations, we also get a chance to meet our old friends,” said an attendee at the mid-night mass held at St Xavier’s School.Decorations in mallsIn addition to this, various city-based malls were seen with beautiful Christmas decore that included huge Christmas trees, lights and balloon decorations. Certain brands also organised various games and activities to attract customers. “We have a Santa Claus and several other cartoon characters of kids’ interest. The winter dresses are also on 50 per cent discount,” said Ram Chaudhary, managing team, World Trade Park.Gaurav Tower also organised a 10-day carnival. A parade of 70 artists dressed as various cartoon characters and super heroes was also taken out as a part of the carnival. The decore at the venue involves a 60-feet tall Christmas tree, which is one of the biggest in the city.“I am blessed as well as excited to have organised such a concept. The response is mind blowing with about 50,000 foot falls. We plan to go bigger next year,” said Gaurav Bardiya, director, Bardiya Group.Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti celebratedThe city also celebrated the auspicious Sikh festival, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, which happened to fall on December 25 this year. This day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.City-based Gurudwaras organised huge langar on his 351st birth anniversary on Sunday. “We remember his good deeds on this day. We also pray for love, peace and harmony within our societies and families as a part of celebration,” said Amajeet Kaur, divisional railway manager, Kota.

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Don’t celebrate Christmas where Hindu students are majority: Hindu outfit warns Aligarh schools

The Hindu Jagaran Manch in Uttar Pradesh, which is affiliated with Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini, has warned Christian schools in Aligarh to not celebrate the festival where there are students with Hindu majority, WION has reported.A media report quoted the president of Hindu Jagran Manch, Sonu Savita as saying that the students are being asked to bring toys, gifts and celebrate Christmas. The group claims that the Christians lure Hindu students and converts them.Claiming that such kind of activities can affect the mentality of Hindu students the group said it will talk to the parents and request them to oppose the activities.The state secretary of Hindu Jagaran March has warned the schools of dire consequence in case they fail to follow their directives.

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Diktat creating communal havoc

A message is doing rounds in the Dawoodi Bohra community criticising the recent diktat that marriages can be held only in community halls/places that are cleared by Anjuman E Shiate Ali, the community’s religious committee. The diktat even asks members of the community to not attend marriages if not held at places cleared by it.The recent message condemning the ‘diktat’ states that it has created a “communal havoc”. It goes on to ask if the religious leaders of the community will help them.”If Christian schools” refuse admission for the Bohras and that being a business community, if tomorrow “other communities boycott business with us, where do we stand? Does it make any difference to our religious leaders and their income?””The new diktat is disturbing. Earlier, there was a diktat of limiting food items and stopping sangeet and dance because it is not Islamic. Now this. All this is happening because of revenue as most halls are controlled by the religious leaders or people close to them. They want to control our activities and form pressure groups,” said a member, who did not want to be named.Members said that community halls have limitations like dress code, space constraint and also parking issues.”This should not be labelled as a diktat. Such words are prejudicial. The current advisory asking Bohras to use community venues for weddings has many advantages… All are positive steps for an organisation charged with managing community affairs… promoting egalitarianism and maintaining cultural propriety,” said a spokesperson.

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Uniform Civil Code not possible, says Law Commission Chairman

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is almost impossible to implement and personal laws cannot be scrapped as it will violate the constitution, Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan said on Tuesday.“Personal laws can never be done away with as they have constitutional protection,” Justice Chauhan said according to a News18 report.“UCC is not possible. We will try to recommend religion-wise amendments in family laws. It would be the piecemeal way to suggest what are the changes required in Hindu law, Muslim law, Christian law, Parsi law, etc. We will target the problems of each religion and deal with them accordingly. We cannot take the whole UCC, as we cannot go outside the constitution,”Justice Chauhan said.Also readLaw Commission to go slow on report on uniform civil code; await SC verdict on triple talaqJustice Chauhan also said that all traditions and customs of the various sections are protected by the constitution so UCC is not possible to be implemented. Since personal laws are part of the constitution under Article 25, it cannot be scrapped. Justice Chauhan also said that the constitution already guarantees many exemptions to various sections of the society so UCC is “not a solution and there cannot be a composite act”.Also readTriple Talaq, Uniform Civil Code, and the way aheadEarlier, the Narendra Modi-govt had asked the Law Commission to examine the implementation of the ‘one law, one nation’ issue. The BJP has been pushing for the Uniform Civil Code and it has been a long standing electoral promise by them. The Uniform Civil Code has been one of the contentious issue ever since the triple talaq issue became a highly publicised debate.The UCC means implementation of one law on issues like marriage, divorce/separation and inheritance, which will be uniformly be applicable for all Indians irrespective of religion, caste, and community. The UCC is to ensure that the citizens are all governed by a single law. India being a diverse country consisting of various communities that have different personal laws based on many beliefs, the idea of UCC was to ensure implementation of one law irrespective of any section of the society.
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Yogi Adityanath

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Gujarat elections 2017: RSS body moves EC against Archdiocese of Gandhinagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RSS-affiliated Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) has moved the Election Commission (EC) against Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, Archbishop Thomas Macwan, for releasing a signed communique which urged to “save secularism” and Indian from the “nationalist forces”, which were on the “verge of taking over the country”.Though no party has been named, yet the allusions to BJP and RSS are more than obvious. LRO has lodged a formal complaint with the EC, alleging a paid news angle behind the communique released on November 21. In the letter, which was accessed by DNA, the rightwing legal body has called for an inquiry and demanded action against the priest.”With this complaint, I urge you to immediately take action against Bishop and thwart his attempts to divide Gujarat voters on the bases of caste, creed and religion. As the statement is highly biased against ruling party, paid news angle should be investigated and due action be taken against those guilty,” said LRO convenor and former RSS pracharak Vinay Joshi.While the communique referred to atrocities on the poor, OBC and minorities and claimed that Constitutional rights were being violated in the current regime, the LRO letter accused the priest of trying “his best to generate fear among voters”, apart from trying “to divide voters on the basis of caste and creed” and “spreading the rumors to create clashes between various social groups and also making baseless allegations against Nationalists Forces”.Calling the remarks “highly provocative and objectionable” which “directly aimed at demonising certain organisations…obliquely appealing electorate to vote against ruling BJP”, LRO wants Macwan prosecuted under the Representation of the People Act-1951.In the communique, the priest had also asked Christians to pray for divine intervention, and as Gujarat elections “could make a difference”, it also urged the people to select and vote for candidates who would uphold the Constitution and safeguard people against discrimination. Earlier, the same LRO had lodged another such complaint with the EC during Goa elections against Goa Catholic Bishop’s magazine under RP Act 1951.”While studying the matter of indulgence of Catholic Church and other Christian bodies in electioneering in India violating RP Act 1951, I have come across several instances and I shall be bringing them in front of the Election Commission,” said Joshi.IN GOD WE TRUSTIn the communique, the priest had also asked Christians to pray for divine intervention, and as Gujarat elections “could make a difference”, it also urged the people to select and vote for candidates who would uphold the Constitution and safeguard people against discrimination.

Alumni to revive Wilson High school’s lost glory

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the oldest schools in the city is set to get back its past glory, thanks to the efforts of its ex-students who have now come together to help the school. The alumni of Girgaum’s iconic Wilson High School have formed a non-profit body to assist the school in all possible ways.The ‘Wilson High School Past Student association’ which has evolved from the ‘Wilson High School Old Boys Union’ is set to celebrate Centennial year. As part of celebrations which is scheduled to be held on December 9, 2017, ex-students who are a part of the association are now working towards assisting the school in many ways — from providing technological support to teaching assistance.Over the last few years, the 185-year-old institution which was set up by John Wilson, Scottish Christian missionary, and educator in 1832 has been struggling to keep pace with the changing times with a lower demand for state board schools. “Set up in 1917, the Wilson Boys union was an active group of students who met annually in the school and took up a lot of good initiatives. Over time, maintaining a database of all the ex-students became a task as many of them moved homes,” said advocate Rajan Jaykar, a student of the 1963 batch.Benaula Paul Pimenta, Headmistress of the school said, “We are happy to see the alumni taking efforts to assist the school in all ways possible. Thanks to their initiative and the help and support of our staff and the management, we are confident of doing well” she added.Ajit Mandlik, student of the 1978 batch said “We are trying to pool in funds to be able to help the school. Most alumni members of the school are very well placed today and with the donations that we get.”ABOUT THE SCHOOLWilson High school, set up in 1832 is currently running as a co-ed school in English and Marathi mediums Some of its alumni include prominent writer PK Atre, Mr M.C. Setalvad, First Attorney General of India, former cricketer Madhav Apte

Honour Killing: 19-yr-old girl axed to death by stepbrother in Pak’s Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 19-year-old girl was axed to death allegedly by her stepbrother in the name of honour in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a police official said on Monday. The incident took place at Christian Wala in Sahiwal district, some 230-km from Lahore.According to Station House Officer Rana Tahir, accused Irfan suspected his stepsister Saira had relations with a man of her locality.Tahir said Irfan on Sunday attacked Saira with an axe while she was asleep and critically injured her.She was taken to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Sahiwal where she succumbed to her wounds.The official said none of the family members reported the matter to the police as they were alerted by a neighbour.”When the family was bringing Saira’s body back to village in an ambulance we intercepted it. Seeing police, Irfan escaped from the ambulance while we took body to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital for postmortem,” Tahir said, adding that raids were made to arrest the suspect.He said the other family members were not considering it “murder” as Saira had disgraced the family honour.”We have taken mother of the girl in custody as she was also present when Irfan axed Saira,” he said.Killing of women relatives in the name of honour is a menace still prevalent in many parts of Pakistan. More than 1,000 women are killed every year by their relatives on the pretext of defending what is seen as family honour.

By 2025, RSS wants 5,000 Ekal Vidyalayas in Guj tribal belt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polls or no polls, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has a task cut out for its Gujarat unit with exact targets. In 2025, when the saffron organisation will complete 100 years, it wants to complete its target of changing the tribal landscape in eastern Gujarat by establishing 5,000 Ekal Vidyalayas. It has established 1,100 so far.”We believe in Gita. Karmanye Vadhikaraste Maphaleshu Kadachana, our work is to do the job on the ground and not be worried about its outcome. If the work is good, the results will come automatically,” says Vasanbhai Gamit, the sanhchalak of Tapi district. He is also the adhyaksh or chairman of the Ekal Abhigyan.To reach this mammoth target, the organisation is right now working in south Gujarat where it has spread out a complex hierarchical set-up by dividing the region in six anchals — Dangs, Tapi, Sagpada, Bharuch, Mahisagar and Dahod.”Each anchal has 9 sanch (zones) and in each sanch there are 30 villages. There should be an Ekal Vidyalaya in each village. We are working towards it,” says Gamit, a tribal of Gumasta village in Okai, Sonepada.Each village has an Ekal committee headed by an Acharya trained by the RSS who looks after education, agriculture, health, implementation of government schemes and Harikatha.In a class that takes place for two hours before regular school, the children are taught about Hindu Sanskriti, great India heroes and how the tribals are actually the real Sanatanis as they worship nature, centric to Hindu religion.Besides, under the Dharma Jagran Samiti, there are 70 Vyas Kathakars, especially trained in Ayodhya over nine months, who hold Ramkatha in various villages and tell why Ramrajya is needed and how to establish it.They are also tasked to hold 25 Sunderkand Paath every month and Akhanda Ramayana Paath for minimum 10 days a month across 30 villages.Gamit hopes the efforts will bear fruit one day and the BJP will be able to win all seats in the tribal belt.”It is not easy right now. The Christian Bishops come from Delhi five days before the elections, call all pastors and give their fatwa to vote for Congress,” says Gamit.

Gujarat: Lack of education and jobs buried hopes of many village youth

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 2,300 odd natives of two backward villages in Nandod constituency of Narmada district are eagerly waiting for the elections to get over.Immediately after exercising their electoral right on December 9, about 35 to 40% men and women of these two villages will migrate to Bharuch and Ankleshwar join work in the construction sector and chemical factories. Their only hope, return home with some savings on Holi. The unfortunate ones will head to nearby Rajpipla to work as labourers in the farms of affluent Patidars. A handful of the fortunate ones will harvest crops of Tuvar and Peanuts, fetching them some respite.”We should be moving now as there is nothing to do here. The farms have dried up. There is no facility to irrigate except rains. But, elections ensure good food and some other benefits for four to five days,” says Suresh Dalsukh Vasava, a marginal farmer in Palsi.However, there are many who stay back in the village to cast their vote.Last Sunday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had addressed a huge gathering of tribals turned Ambarish (devotees of Swaminarayan sect) in Haridham Sokhada near Vododara, where they were told that Hindu Dharma was in danger for which they need to canvass and ensure BJP’s win.”We will ensure good voting. We need to save our religion,” says Haribhai Lalji Vasava, an Ambarish. Early inroads by Swaminarayan sect at the time of constructing Mandir in nearby Netrang, the Christian missionaries were unable to set up schools in these regions and the surrounding villages of Khunta Amba, Moji and Bitada et cetera, thereby reflecting educational backwardness. In stark comparison, the Zankhvav village, located at a distance of 40 odd kilometres, is saturated with graduates.”The difference was brought about by St. Xavier’s High School. It changed our lives,” says Shirish Vasava, a teacher at Palsi primary school. There is only one graduate to boast about in Palsi that has a population of 778 as per 2011 census. Palsi has a primary school where there are only three teachers to educate 77 kids. The two-room school, which is awaiting grant for the past several years, is yet to be covered with syntax walls and brick structures.The malnourished kids, who are suffering from vitamin C and protein deficiencies, look at least two years younger than their urban counterparts.Also, the liquor consumption among the youth is quite high. Many children like Rekha Ramji Vasava, whose mother left her liquor-addict husband, has learnt to do all household chores at the age of 7.There is a middle school two kilometres away at Moti Bhamri, but the children studying in higher secondary (HS) classes have to travel at least 5 kilometres on foot to go to Movi. At times, they have to travel by bus for around 30 kilometres to reach Rajpipla, where there is another HS school. The secondary school in Movi is in shambles with no walls and only covered by a thatched roof. Despite the pathetic condition, the girls prefer going there.These villages also suffer from acute power shortage and poor network connectivity. The transport and irrigation facilities are non-existent.The villages had no power supply for two months after their transformer exploded in August. Finally, it was repaired just before the announcement of elections. The villages get only 15-16 hours of electric supply daily.To solve the irrigation problem, BJP MLA Harshad Vasava had inaugurated a generator and laid pipelines for irrigation on the banks of Karjan river in 2011. It has been seven years since and the term of current BJP MLA Shabdarshan Tadvi is about to end. However, neither the generator has started working, nor there is any water in the pipelines.”Our fields remain dry as the water level is below 400 feet and boring is very costly. We get potable water from hand pumps,” says Jhivar Jeevan Vasava. Among the few graduates of Moti Bhamri, Vasava is trying for a job since last three years, but ends up doing sundry work in factories.”It is a difficult choice. You get a daily wage between Rs 350 and Rs 400 for 12-hour shifts in factories. One ends up spending Rs 100 on conveyance after travelling for 5 hours daily. Earning Rs 250 in 17 hours is hardly worth it. Farm and brick kiln labourers get even less wage,” says Jhivar.

Identify land for Christian cemetery by Friday: Bombay High Court to state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There may be people who believe they are best, but before the court, everyone is equal,” the Bombay High Court observed on Monday while asking the state government to identify a plot of land between Dahisar and Khar by Friday, which can be allotted for a Christian cemetery.A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak said, “The administration should show the public that they believe in secularism, unity in diversity, and we all are united in faith.” The court gave the direction while hearing a public interest litigation filed by United Christian Community Centre, claiming that the government had, after revoking the previous allotment of 12,500 square meters of land in Goregaon for a Christian cemetery, allotted a smaller plot ad-measuring 2,500 square meters. However, it failed to hand over the possession.The bench said the government has to come out with a solution. “When it deems to be a secular state, we cannot forget that all communities should be treated equally. The community’s requirement for a cemetery can be seen from the records of its population,” the court said.The central hall courtroom was packed with members of the Christian community, including the Bishop. Advocate Yeshwant Shenoy for the petitioners argued that the community looks at the court as a temple of justice and, thus, members have come on their own from different parts of the city and neighbouring districts to witness the proceedings.The bench said, “The state should show respect to the departed souls and I don’t think any authority will have any problem on that.” The court also suggested that a representative of the Bishop coordinate with the officials of the Urban Development Department and the Diary Development department to oversee the identification of plot of land for a cemetery.”If the government does not do it, then we know how to get it done. Don’t compel us to be not polite, don’t invite such things,” the bench warned. On the last occasion, the court had rapped the government by saying, “Don’t be a dictator, we live in a democratic society, we live in a secular state. You (government) cannot distinguish on basis of religion.”Shenoy had argued that other communities, such as the Hindus and the Muslims, have been allotted land for a cemetery, but not the Christians. Further, he argued that from Dahisar to Khar, there is no place available for Christian cemetery. The government has discriminated against the Christian community by not allotting even a single burial ground since 2000, thereby depriving the community its rights of proper a burial.As per the plea, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had, in 2014, identified a plot of land for the cemetery but it was not handed over. In 2016, a reservation was notified but in 2017, the department of animal husbandry refused to hand over the plot.The plea prays for directions to the government to allot land in Goregaon, which was originally conceived and notified. It also prays for the corporation and government to identify a plot of land for a burial ground in every ward or legislative constituency for the Christian community.

Don’t distinguish on basis of religion: Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Don’t be a dictator, we live in a democratic society, we live in a secular state; you (government) cannot distinguish on the basis of religion,” Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Manjula Chellur said on Thursday, while asking the Commissioner Dairy Development Department and senior officers from the Urban Development Department to remain present in court on November 13, along with records to show why it recommended cancellation of land allotted in Goregaon for the use of a Christian cemetery.Chellur was surprised at the stand of the government that an alternative plot of land was being allotted to the trust in Andheri. United Christian Community Centre, which moved the court, claimed that government after revoking the previous allotment of 12,500 square metres of land for the cemetery has allotted a smaller plot of 2,500 square metres, and has not given possession of the same.”What is the rationale behind recommending cancellation? Are you doing charity work by giving the land? Or does your officer think that people of that community will never die,” the court asked.Advocate Yashwant Shenoy, appearing for the trust, argued that while Hindus and Muslims have been allotted land for cemeteries, Christians have been singled out. Furthermore, from Dahisar to Khar, there is no place available for Christian burial.The plea said that the government has discriminated against the Christian community by not allotting a single burial ground since the year 2000, thereby depriving the community its rights of proper and decent burial of the dead. As per the plea, Brihanmumbai MunicipalCorporation had in 2014 identified a plot of land for the cemetery but it was not handed over. In 2016, reservation was notified but in 2017, the department of animal husbandry refused to hand over the plot.The bench, while reprimanding the government, said: “The preamble of the Constitution of India promises Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens, discrimination will not be allowed.”The plea prays for directions to the government to allot land in Goregaon which was originally conceived and notified.

Mersal row: ‘Freedom of expression is there for all’, says Madras HC, dismisses plea to revoke film’s censor certificate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to revoke the censor certificate of the controversial movie ‘Mersal,’ citing that it was only an imaginative story and that the freedom of expression was there for all.The High Court said, “Why was there no complaint against smoking and drinking in films or about the projection of LGBT? A film is only a imaginative story and it is not real life. If someone doesn’t like a film, a person can refrain from viewing it. The freedom of expression is there for all.”The Mersal issue had got further communalised when a BJP member said that actor Vijay took an anti-GST stance only because he is a Christian.Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundarajan and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan have been demanding that the “incorrect” references be deleted from the big-budget flick.However, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, his senior colleague P. Chidambaram, DMK working president M.K. Stalin, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, veteran actor Kamal Haasan and a host of Tamil cinema industry representatives have supported the cast and crew of the film.Mersal, directed by Atlee, also features Samantha, Nithya Menon and Kajal Aggarwal. The film released worldwide on October 18.

Mersal row: BJP’s H Raja questions Vijay’s religion; advocate files complaint against actor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>H Raja, the National Secretary of the BJP on Monday lashed out at South Indian actor Vijay for his statements criticising the Goods and Service Tax in the 2017 film Mersal.Questioning Vijay’s religion, Raja shared a picture of Vijay’s college identity card that speaks of his Christian heritage with the tweet ‘Truth is bitter’.Earlier, a complaint was filed against tue actor by advocate Muthu Kumar for showing ‘temples and Central Government schemes in bad light’The movie criticised the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that did not go down well with the BJP. Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan and the party’s national secretary H Raja strongly opposed it, claiming that some dialogues were “highly inappropriate”. The film production house today said that if needed, it would delete scenes that have caused “misunderstanding”.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the BJP, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to “interfere” and saying that cinema was a “deep expression” of Tamil culture.

India in list of nations whose governments do not have official religion: PEW Research Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India falls in a list of nations whose governments do not have an official or preferred religion, a PEW report announced on Tuesday.The report, which covered 199 countries and territories from around the world, said that 106 countries (53%) don’t have an official or preferred religion. 43 nations (22%) had an official state religion, 40 nations (20%) had preferred or favoured religion, while 10 nations (5%) were hostile to religious institutions.”No country names Hinduism as its official state religion – though India has a powerful Hindu political party, and Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism in 2015, when the rejection of a constitutional amendment declaring Hinduism as the state religion led to a confrontation between pro-Hindu protesters and police,” the report added.27 countries officially enshrine Islam as the official religion, while 13 countries, which include 9 European nations, officially say that Christianity is the official state religion.”But an additional 40 governments around the globe unofficially favour a particular religion, and in most cases the preferred faith is a branch of Christianity. Indeed, Christian churches receive preferential treatment in more countries – 28 – than any other unofficial but favoured faith,” the report added.The report also added that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide funding or resources specifically for religious education programs or religious schools that disproportionately benefit the official religion.While India’s Constitution has no official or preferred religion, another PEW research said in 2015 said that India was one of the countries that had the highest combined levels of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion in 2015. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practises Hinduism and 14.2% adheres to Islam, while the remaining 6% adheres to other religions (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and various indigenous ethnically-bound faiths). While Hinduism occupies a majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India allows for religious freedom and gives every Indian the right to practice his/her religion, without government or communal intervention.

Will go to Yemen again if God wishes: Father Tom Uzhunnalil

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was freed after being kept in captivity allegedly by Islamic militants for 18 months in Yemen, on Sunday said he would go to the strife- torn country again for service, if God wishes him to do so.”Certainly I will go there if God wishes me to do so. I am sure He (Jesus) would clear the way for me to do so”, the priest told reporters here in response to a question.Uzhunnalil said he still had no idea about the militant outfit which abducted him from the charity home run by the Missionaries of Charity in Yemen in 2016.”I don’t know whether they belong to ISIS or any other group. They did not harm me in captivity or pointed guns at me. They gave me food. They gave me medicines when I fell sick,” he said.Earlier, Uzhunnalil arrived here from Bengaluru and met Church leaders, priests and his relatives.In the evening, he met priests and church goers at the Bishop’s house at Pala in Kottayam district before proceeding to Ramapuram to meet his neighbours and brothers.The 59-year-old Catholic priest had returned to Delhi on September 28 after rest and recuperation in Vatican City.Upon his arrival in the national capital, Uzhunnalil had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and thanked them for their support.Uzhunnalil belongs to the Congregation of Salesians of Don Bosco and was abducted reportedly during a terrorist attack in Aden and taken to an undisclosed place.On his arrival at the airport here, he was welcomed by Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala and several priests, besides Christian leaders.Uzhunnalil reached Yemen in 2010 and was serving the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity of St. Mother Teresa and the Catholic population there.​

Father Tom Uzhunnalil reaches Vatican, confirms Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday confirmed that Father Tom Uzhunnalil, abducted by Islamic militants in Yemen last year, had reached the Vatican.”Father Tom Uzhunnalil has reached Vatican,” EAM Swaraj said in a tweet on Tuesday.Meanwhile preparations began at Father Uzhunnalil residence in Kerala’s Kottayam distrcit, to welcome him.Father Uzhunnalil, the Indian Christian priest was rescued from the clutches of terror group Islamic State in Yemen on Tuesday.Earlier, EAM Swaraj confirmed the news and tweeted, “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued.”Father Uzhunnalil was reportedly kidnapped in March 4, 2016 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Yemen, when they attacked a retirement home in Aden run by the Missionaries of Charity, killing sixteen people, including four nuns.The Indian government, last year, confirmed that efforts were underway to ensure his early release.”Fr Tom Uzhunnallil – an Indian national from Kerala was abducted by a terror group in Yemen. We r making all efforts to secure his release,” EAM Swaraj tweeted back then.

Triple talaq: How Indian Muslim women fought, and won, the divorce battle

The Indian Supreme Court bans the controversial practice of instant divorce in Islam.

Triple talaq verdict today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A five-judge, multi-faith bench of the Supreme Court will on Tuesday decide the legality of triple talaq and rule whether the contentious practice violates the dignity and fundamental rights of Muslim women.The verdict will come a little over two months after the constitutional bench heard the matter over a period of six days during the summer vacation starting on May 11.The Centre has been pushing for a ban on the practice on grounds of gender equality and justice. A favourable order from the bench — comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh), along with Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), Rohinton Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and SA Nazeer (Muslim) — will win the ruling BJP support from Muslim women.The issue came under scrutiny with reports emerging of men divorcing their wives via letters, Skype and even WhatsApp messages. Several women divorced by triple talaq petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the practice.The all-men bench has heard arguments from various women’s rights groups, the Centre and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), among others.

The defiance of an ‘untouchable’ New York subway worker

Sujatha Gidla’s book Ants Among Elephants is a personal examination of her life as a Dalit in India.

Pastor’s killing: Crack down on forces trying to whip communal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a strong note of a pastor’s killing in Ludhiana last night, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today directed the police to crack down on elements trying to whip up communal passions in the state and announced a government job to the deceased’s son. He directed Punjab DGP Suresh Arora to ensure that various departments of police and the intelligence agencies in the state coordinate with each other to prevent recurrence of such incidents, an official spokesperson said. The Chief Minister asked Arora to ensure that necessary steps are taken to maintain law and order and peace and harmony in the state. Attempts to vitiate the state’s environment would not be tolerated at any cost, Amarinder said, while warning of strict action against any police officer found guilty of dereliction of duty. Following the murder of pastor Sultan Masih by two unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants outside a chruch in Ludhiana, the Chief Minister asked the police department to keep a close tab on the situation to prevent any negative fallout. He also directed the DGP to ask field officers to coordinate with the local Christian leaders for support in defusing the situation resulting from the killing. Earlier in the day, a large number of people belonging to the Christian community took out a protest march against the killing of the pastor and blocked the GT road in Slem Tabri area here for over three hours. Later, Amarinder called up the family of Masih to convey his condolences and promised strong action against the culprits. He assured Masih’s widow Sarabjit Kaur of all possible help. He told her that her 18-year-old son Alisha would be provided a job in the police department, the spokesperson said. Amarinder also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for Kaur. The Chief Minister assured her that the killers of her husband would be tracked down by the police and brought to book. Earlier today, Amarinder said that he had taken up with the prime minister the matter of expediting CBI probe into cases of other targeted killings, including those of RSS and Shiv Sena leaders which had been taking place in Punjab since January 2016. At his meeting with the prime minister in Delhi on July 11, he had said that despite their best efforts, the central and the state police and intelligence agencies had failed to make a breakthrough in these cases. In August last year, senior RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja (65) was shot at in Jalandhar by unidentified assailants. He later died at a hospital in September. In April this year, Punjab RSS chief Brij Bhushan Singh Bedi had demanded that the state government ask the CBI to expedite its probe into Gagneja’s killing.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Christians protest against Pastor’s killing in Ludhiana

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A large number of people belonging to the Christian community today took out a protest against the killing of a pastor and blocked the GT road at Slem Tabri area here for over three hours, police said. Paster Masih was shot dead last night by two unidentified bike-borne youths out side a church. The agitators staged a sit-in at the road and also refused to send Masih’s body for post mortem. Traffic came to a standstill in the city and the vehicles going to Jalandhar side had to be diverted to other routes, police said. A meeting of the Christian leaders, chaired by Manwar Masih, chairman of the Punjab State Minority Commission, was held after the protest. It was decided that the postmortem and the funeral of the slain pastor would be held tomorrow. Elaborate security arrangements were made in the city today to thwart any untoward incident in the area. Police said no headway has been made in the case so far as the CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity where Masih was shot failed to provide any clues. “The modus operandi in the case was same as in the murder of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja, Shiv Sena leader of Khanna Durga Prasad Gupta, Hindu leader Amit Sharma at Ludhiana and two Dera Sacha Sauda followers. Mata Chand Kaur, wife of Namdhari chief was also killed in the same manner,” Police Commissioner R N Dhoke said. Dhoke has formed a Special Investigation Team under the leadership of ADCP (Investigation) Gaganjot Singh to nab the culprits.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

4 killed, 5 injured as bridge collapses near Dimapur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four persons, including a minor were killed and five others injured when a bridge collapsed near Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research here today, the police said. Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur Kesonyu Yhome said so far four persons, including two women from Tripura, were killed in the incident. The DC said the deceased are yet to be identified and added that the injured are being treated at a local hospital. Police and State Disaster Management personnel have reached the spot, but rescue operations are being hampered due to strong currents of the stream, Yhome said adding, five vehicles are still stuck in the debris. An alternative route connecting the highway linking Dimapur with Kohima is being arranged for commuters, he added. District administration officials said plying of heavy vehicles was stopped on the bridge in 2015, but light vehicles were allowed as the road connected over 100 villages. An emergency meeting of the state cabinet held in the evening has directed payment of ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased and also to the injured, an official statement said. The state government has also directed an inquiry to be conducted by Secretary (Law and Justice) into the circumstances leading to the collapse of the bridge and loss of lives, the statement added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Mumbai, Jul 11 (PTI) Following are the top stories

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>from the western region at 2100 hrs. BOM7 GJ-LD ATTACK-AMARNATH-BODIES Surat: Bodies of seven Amarnath pilgrims killed in the terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir brought to Surat in an IAF plane as angry protests are held across Gujarat against the attack. BOM 6 GA-RS-LD NOMINATION Panaji: BJP’s Goa unit president, Vinay Tendulkar, and sitting MP and state Congress chief Shantaram Naik enter the fray for election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the coastal state slated for July 21. BOM 19 GUJ-TEXTBOOK-ROZA Ahmedabad: A Hindi textbook of Gujarat State School Textbook Board defines the Urdu word “roza,” which denotes the fasting during the holy month of Ramzan, as “an infectious disease”. BOM 21 TL-ATTACK-OWAISI Hyderabad: AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi seeks to know what steps were taken after “intelligence inputs” had warned of a possibility of attack on Amarnath pilgrims. BES13 TL-GAMING-ORDINANCE Hyderabad: Telangana government issues ordinance to curb “social evils” of online rummy games. BES 20 MH-LD CARTOONIST Pune: Eminent cartoonist Mangesh Tendulkar no more. BES23 GA-CHURCH-LD DESECRATIONS Panaji: The Goa Church expresses “deep pain” over recent incidents of desecration of holy crosses and vandalism of a Christian cemetery in South Goa and decides to initiate a fact-finding on these incidents.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi HC asks Centre to ensure appointment of NCMEI chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to appoint a chairperson in the National Commission of Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) as soon as possible, as the post is vacant since December 2014. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that it is an important body and the vacant post is “extremely important”. “Please ensure that the appointment is done as soon as possible,” the bench said. The court’s direction came during hearing of a PIL filed by Delhi-resident Mohd Khalid Ansari who said there is no chairperson in NCMEI since the previous incumbent demitted office in December 2014. The petition said the commission’s chairperson has to be from a minority community and must also have served as a judge of a high court. It further said that without the chairperson, all orders passed by the commission are liable to be set aside as being of no legal consequences and void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the outset). To which the bench asked the Centre to produce details of all decisions taken till date by the commission in absence of the chairperson. It also said the appointment should be done in accordance with the NCMEI Act. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, said that the matter is under consideration before the competent authority and a decision is likely to be taken. The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on October 16. The NCMEI Act came into effect from November 2004 and in January 2005 the central government issued the notification identifying Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Zoroastrian (Parsis) communities as minorities for the purpose of the Act. The commission was established to protect and safeguard the educational institutions which are established by the minorities in India and also to ensure rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Thankful for minority organisations for imparting quality education: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said that minority institutions were playing an important role in imparting good education and culture in the state.”Minority institutions run by the Christian missionaries and others like the Ramakrishna Mission are playing an important role in giving good education,” Banerjee said at the inauguration of St Xavier’s University at New town here.Banerjee said “education and culture are not for `danga’ (clashes).””People do not die for not getting food. But death comes when there is no culture,” she said.Praising the Jesuit fraternity for setting up the university, she said, “I maintain best of relations with St Xavier’s. Seventeen acres of land had been allotted for the university. It is proud moment for the Xaverian family”.”We are ready to help Xavier’s more than what it can expect. I am confident the university will compete with the likes of Harvard and Oxford in the next few years”, Banerjee said.Chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal, world’s largest steel company, L N Mittal and an alumnus of St Xavier’s College, said, “On behalf of vice-chancellor Felix Raj, I requested the chief minister for more land. Banerjee said that she is an honorary Xaverian.”

63 incidents of cow-related violence since 2010; 97% of them after 2014

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The lynching of Mohammed Ikhlaq by a mob in Dadri because of a rumour that he had allegedly stored beef in his house was one of the biggest stories of the year. The incident, which took place in 2015, was a tipping point of sorts when it came to mobs attacking people who they felt possessed or consumed beef.Interestingly, there have been reports of murders that go back to 2010. The numbers have certainly risen since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumed power in 2014, but this does not take away from the fact that attacks and murders have taken place for the past seven years.According to a detailed report by IndiaSpend, Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents. The data journalism company gathered this information only from mainstream English media.”Of the 28 Indians who died over the seven-year period, 24 were Muslim, or 86%. As many as 124 people were also injured in these attacks. More than half (52%) of these attacks were based on rumours,” the report added.The report added that 2017 has so far been the worst year when it comes to killings over slaughtering of cattle or possessing cattle meat. “20 cow-terror attacks were reported–more than 75% of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010,” it said.How was the study done?To compile the list of attacks centred on cow-related issues over the past eight years, IndiaSpend ran Google searches with keywords that included, ‘cow vigilantes’, ‘gau-rakshaks’, ‘beef’, ‘lynching’, ‘cow slaughter’, ‘cattle thieves’, beef smuggler’ and ‘cattle trader’. Where information was incomplete, we spoke to the journalists who filed the original reports.Muslim victims were identified by name. In 8% of the 63 cases, the reports explicitly stated that those attacked were dalits, who are also targets because many among them clear cow carcasses, skin them and eat beef. In a few cases, religion was difficult to determine.In 50.8% (32) of the cases, the targets were Muslim, in 7.9% (5) Dalit, 4.8% (3) Sikh or indu (names appeared Sikh, but it wasn’t certain) and 1.6% (one) Christian; in 20.6% (13) cases, religion was not reported. Among 14.3% (9) cases, the targets were Hindus, but their caste was not clear.

NCP MLA is all praise for Portuguese citizenship facility

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial Goan politician and NCP MLA, Churchill Alemao has once again stirred the pot by praising Portuguese regime and their citizenship facility to Goans in the backdrop of Portugal and Indian prime ministers’ meet.Goans currently have a facility where two generations of a family born post-liberation of Goa from the Portuguese dictatorship can apply and get citizenship of Portugal.”We should be thankful to Portugal for providing this facility. This is a great initiative. Now, that our prime minister has also welcomed the Portuguese prime minister, all those who criticise Portuguese citizenship should shut their mouths,” Alemao told media persons in South Goa.He went on explaining how this facility has helped the minority community in Goa. “70 per cent of Christian minority population in Goa survives because someone or the other from their family has obtained Portuguese citizenship and is working in Europe as a citizen of the European Union,” he said.He also criticized the current state of Goan economy to rationalize his argument about denouncing Indian citizenship and acquiring a Portuguese one. Churchill is currently an MLA from the Nationalist Congress Party.

Muslims celebrate historic Iftar in Udupi’s Sri Krishna temple

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a gesture of communal amity, a group of Muslims broke their Ramzan fast and took part in a harmony feast in the complex of the ancient Udupi Sri Krishna temple for the first time in its history.As many as 150 Muslims participated in the “Souharda Upahara Koota” (harmony feast) in the dining hall, located just outside the main temple, in the event organised by the head of Pejawar Mutt Sri Vishvesha Teertha Swamiji on Friday.After breaking their fast, they performed ‘namaz’ (prayers), the Swamiji said.”For the first time in the history of our temple, Muslim brethren broke their Ramzan fast and performed namaz (in the dining hall in the temple complex),” he told PTI over phone from Udupi today.Emphasising on peace and harmony between Hindus and Muslims, the Swamiji, who is associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said his main objective in conducting such an event was to forge peace and harmony between people belonging to all religions.”But, this is not at all a very big thing I did. It is just a very small service I have rendered, nothing else.People are making it appear as something big,” he said, adding there was long history of both Hindus and Muslims living in harmony in Udupi.He urged people of coastal Karnataka to make the region an example of peace and harmony for the country.The Swamiji said he personally served dates to Muslim brothers. Temple priests served bananas, cashew nuts, apples and watermelon.”Holding of the event has brought huge satisfaction to me. I want to do this every year, and extend this service to Christian community also,” he said without elaborating.

Prez Donald Trump to meet ‘true friend’ Modi today; PM may face tough questions in US

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday hold talks with US President Donald Trump in the White House and the two leaders will spend several hours together in various settings including one-on-one and delegation-level meetings, a reception and a working dinner.Ahead of the meeting, Trump said that ‘strategic issues’ would be on the table when he holds talks with his ‘true friend’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the two leaders look to strike a personal rapport in their maiden meeting.”The White House is very interested in making this a special visit. We’re really seeking to roll out the red carpet. In fact, the two (leaders) will have dinner, a working dinner at the White House,” a senior administration official had told reporters at the White House.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Business honchos point to taxation as hurdle for investments in IndiaAccording to reports, before their working dinner, Trump and Modi will have a 20-minute one-on-one interaction. They will then have delegation-level talks and also address the press. The two leaders are expected to take one question each from reporters, which may include some tough questions to PM Modi, including the crackdown on foreign NGOs.India and the US had locked horns on the issue of shutting down of a Colorado-based donor NGO Compassionate International. In March, over 100 US lawmakers asked India to give a ‘temporary reprieve’ to an American donor NGO until a more permanent solution can be found under the Indian laws for the Christian organisation to function. Led by Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, and its Ranking Member Eliot Engel, as many as 107 lawmakers from both Democratic and Republican parties had signed the letter written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Sundar Pichai says everyone looking forward to investing in India, excited by GST rollout During the meeting, the President and the Prime Minister will also discuss ongoing cooperation, including counter-terrorism, defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, global cooperation, burden-sharing, trade, law enforcement, and energy.On whether the contentious H-1B visa issue would come up for discussion during the meeting, a senior administration official said it was unlikely to be raised from the US side but if raised by the Indian side, the Americans were ready for it.
ALSO READ Modi in US: PM says surgical strikes prove India can defend itself, world experienced our powerThe Indo-US civil nuclear deal is expected to figure during talks, but a pact between the NPCIL and Westinghouse to build six power reactors in Andhra Pradesh is unlikely to be signed.Meanwhile on Sunday, PM Modi met top American CEOs of global giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Google.Modi’s addresses to the Indian community during his visits overseas have been increasingly seen as an effort to court diaspora Indians by eulogising their links to their roots and their contributions to the country they have made their home.

Christians-can-now-file-for-divorce-without-adultery-allegation,-says-Lahore-HC @ 6/20/2017 11:18:50 AM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has said Christians would now be able to file for divorce without accusing each other of adultery. On Monday, the court allowed a petition challenging a provision of the Christian Divorce Act 1869, which requires a Christian couple to use allegation of adultery for dissolution of marriage. Chief Justice Shah said the court restored Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act 1869 that enables a couple to approach a court of law for dissolution of marriage on ordinary grounds. Reasons would be given in a detailed verdict, reports the Dawn. Section 7 of the Act was suspended by former military ruler Zia-ul-Haq through an ordinance in 1981, leaving no ground for Christian males to divorce their wives except on charges of adultery. The writ petition was filed by Amin Masih through Advocate Sheraz Zaka for the restoration of Section 7, saying he wanted to divorce his wife, but without accusing her of adultery. The counsel argued that the suspended section should be restored according to which the principles of courts of England would apply as far as family/divorce issues of Christians were concerned. He said by the restoration of Section 7 there will be other just and reasonable grounds available in order to seek a divorce by a Christian man. Advocate Zaka contended that since protection of minorities was one of the norm/salient features of Constitution of Pakistan, therefore, the omission of Section 7 of the Divorce Act 1869 through the ordinance should be declared unconstitutional as well as null and void.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Nun, four girls detained on suspicion of conversion bid

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh forced a nun and four girls on their way to Bhopal to get off a train, and detained them following a complaint that the girls were going to be converted. A local magistrate’s court later found that there was no substance in the complaint. Sister Veena Joseph (50) of Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa Congregation, Bhopal, and the four girls were taken off Shipra Express at Satna station at around 11.30 am yesterday. Workers of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad had complained that Joseph was taking the girls to Bhopal from Jharkhand’s Pakur district for religions conversion. Following the complaint, district authorities rushed to the station. Tehsildar B K Mishra said he recorded their statements before handing them over to police. The police then took them to sub-divisional magistrate Balveer Raman’s court. The judge noted that the girls were from Christian families, and were going to Bhopal for studying there, so they should be allowed to go wherever they want, said inspector Sitaram Bakri of GRP. However, one of the four girls was handed over to an NGO as she is a minor. She would be handed over to her family members who had been informed, inspector Bakri said. After the SDM’s court said that no case was made out, police set the nun and the other three girls free at around 11.30 pm yesterday. They had to spend the night with a local catholic organisation as there were no trains for Bhopal at that hour. MP Isai Mahasangh spokesperson Richard James said the organisation’s representatives would meet the MP Director General of Police tomorrow. “We will demand action against the people who literally tortured the nun and the girls,” he added. “The incident proves that we can no longer move in groups in the state. A smear campaign is on to defame us for no reason,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

When Gujarat board textbook mentioned Jesus Christ as ‘haivaan’….

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a blunder, a class IX Hindi language textbook published by the Gujarat board has used the word “haivaan” (devil) before Jesus Christ instead of intended word ‘bhagwan’ (God) in a passage in one of its chapters, triggering protests from the Christian community.Left embarrassed, officials of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB), the publisher of the textbook, have rectified the blunder in the online version of the book available on their website and removed the controversial word.Assuring an internal inquiry, GSSTB Executive President Nitin Pethani said it was a “printing mistake”. The controversial reference appears on page 16, which is in the chapter titled “Teacher-student relationship in Indian culture”.Taking offence, several members of the Christian community gathered outside the office of the District Education Officer (DEO) here and demanded withdrawal of the book. “The textbook has depicted our God in a bad light. We condemn the word used for Jesus Christ. It has hurt our religious sentiments. We want the government to withdraw the book immediately,” an agitator said.Though GSSTB has removed the word from the online version of the textbook, they said it will not be possible to withdraw the textbooks as they were already distributed to students across the state. “This was nothing but a printing mistake. Instead of word ‘Bhagwan’, the word ‘haivaan’ got printed. We have already made the correction in the online version. Since books have already been distributed among students, it is not possible to withdraw them now,” Pethani said.When asked how they will ensure that right knowledge was imparted to students, he said, “To make sure that the corrected version is taught to students, we will issue a written advisory to all the teachers, asking them to take into account this correction while teaching this subject”.

Minorities panel to get 5 new members

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activist Sunil Singhi from Gujarat has been selected as the first Jain member of the National Commission for Minorities. The community was given minority status in January 2014, by amending section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.Singhi has earlier served as the Organising Secretary and also serves as the director at Ahmedabad’s Rajastha Hospital. The Commission, after being headless and without members for months, has finally appointed five members in the panel. Reports say that Uttar Pradesh social activist Gayar Ul Hasan will head the Commission.Some of the other members from the panel include BJP leader from Kerala, George Kurien, from the Christian community, former state minister from Maharashtra Sulekha Kumbhare as a Hindu member, and Vada Dasturji Khurshed, chief priest of the Udvada Athornan Anjuman who will serve as the Parsi member.Two more members from the Sikh and Buddhist communities will be announced in a few days. Each of the seven members, including the chairperson and the vice-chairperson, have a tenure of three years.

‘Norway urges India, Pak for dialogue on Kashmir issue’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan today said that Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende has called for a dialogue between Islamabad and India to resolve the Kashmir issue amicably as the Norwegian Parliament debated the issue. The issue was taken up on an Adjournment Motion tabled by Christian Democratic Party’s leader Knut Arild Hareide who called for a Norwegian role in pushing India to come to the negotiating table to resolve the long-festering dispute in a peaceful manner which otherwise has the potential to escalate dangerously, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement. Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, while replying to the Motion, emphasised the need for a dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the issue amicably. Various other members of the Norwegian Parliament also spoke and reiterated the need for a peaceful settlement of the dispute, the statement added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HP town tense after outfits oppose religious meet in school

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tension mounted in Rampur, the home town of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, after members of some outfits staged a protest against the holding of a Christian congregation in a government school and tried to enter the venue forcibly. Police intervened in time and stopped the activists under the banner of Dev Sanskriti Raksha Manch, avoiding a clash. The leaders of the outfits alleged that the police manhandled the protesters, including women. Rampur Deputy Superintendent of Police Dev Kumar Negi said that the protesters tried to enter the school where prayers were being held but the police stopped them and persuaded both the communities to maintain peace and harmony. Later, the protesters took out a procession and blocked traffic on the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway for about two hours. An American priest was attending the congregation. The organisers said they had taken prior permission for the two- day congregation and denied the allegation that they were indulging in conversion of Hindus.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘Suspected’ Al Qaeda recruit from Kerala killed in Syria

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A resident of Kerala?s Palghat, who was suspected to have joined Al Qaeda, was killed in Syria in an attack by the U.S. Abu Tahir, who went for Umrah in 2013 did not come back and was suspected to have join Al Qaeda. Tahir?s relative, who lives in Sharja received the message that he was killed on April 4. Earlier a Kerala youth, who was later found to have joined the ISIS, was killed in the mega airstrike conducted by the United States in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The U.S. military had dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb to target the Islamic State tunnels and personnel. Earlier in February, another youth from the same group was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan. At least four out of the 21 individuals, who belong to Christian and Hindu families, had converted to Islam over a year ago, reports state. Two of the individuals had reportedly sent text and voice messages to their families confirming that they have moved to a remote location. Earlier, the NIA had arrested two people in connection with the criminal conspiracy hatched within and outside India, with the intention of furthering the objectives of the Islamic State(IS) and for joining and supporting the organization. The investigation revealed that the conspiracy had been in operation since the month of July, 2015.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

BJP never makes distinction between communities: Advani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran BJP leader L K Advani today said all sections of the society should be respected and his party never made distinction on caste or community basis. “…All sections of the society should be respected. That is the approach my party has adopted and throughout our functioning we have not made any distinction between communities, sections, castes and sex,” he said at a Christian function here. Delivering his inaugural address at the birth centenary celebrations of Philipose Mar Chrysostom, Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar here, he said all communities in the country should move forward and none should be ignored. The former deputy Prime Minister said the Marthoma church played a ‘vital role’ in the battle against emergency, adding it stood up against terror, supported those who were being suppressed and harassed and that was “not a small thing”. Malankara Marthoma syrian church commands unique respect in the entire Christian world and keeps an integral national outlook, he said. Advani said he was happy to see the Metropolitan “scoring a century” and wished him good health all his life. “Even though he has turned 100, he is youthful in thoughts and his speaking style is unparalleled as it is laced with humour,” Advani said reminding the audience that he himself will turn 90 this November. Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, was among those present at the function.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Yoga promotes ‘eastern mysticism’: Catholic college

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the world is celebrating yoga as a basic means of living, Benedictine College in Kansas has announced that its campus will no longer be offering academic or recreational yoga classes, stating that yoga is creating ‘eastern mysticism’, reported The Independent.The decision was taken in response to the concerns raised by the faculty and at the request of Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Abbot James Albers. “Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church,” Stephen Minnis, president of the college told campus newspaper BC Circuit.“Archbishop Naumann has expressed his concerns and the issues surrounding them. We asked ourselves if there was a way to bring those yoga benefits to our students and faculty without the possible effects of eastern mysticism and are currently investigating other alternatives,” he addedThe College instead will be offering a ‘stretching and breathing’ class called ‘Lifestyle Fitness’ in replacement.Not sure if spiritual harm of yoga could come to the campus, Munnis believes ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’. “My personal belief is that yoga has become like Kleenex- a generic term for stretching and breathing. I don’t care what it is called, so long as it is only physical,” he added.The local Catholic leaders feared the origin of yoga in ancient India. “It is a mind and body practice developed under Hinduism, the goal of which is spiritual purification that will lead to a higher level of understanding and eventually union with the divine,” Rev John Riley, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Kansas City was quoted by the daily.“It is for these reasons that Catholics are alerted to the dangers of the practice of yoga and are encouraged to look for other exercise alternatives that do not incorporate a spiritual dimension,” he addedHe suggested Catholics seeking spiritual alternative, should try Pietra Fitness, which incorporates Christian prayer and meditation with stretching and strengthening. As per the campus newspaper, students have not been informed about cancellation of yoga classes.Fearing yoga A University in Kansas has announced that campus will no longer be offering academic or recreational yoga classes, citing the fear of Yoga creating ‘eastern mysticism’ The College instead will be offering a ‘stretching and breathing’ class called ‘Lifestyle Fitness’ in replacement“Catholics seeking spiritual alternative, should try Pietra Fitness”

Meghalaya government opposes observing Digital India Day on Good Friday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meghalaya government has expressed its strong opposition against the Centre’s decision to observe Digital India Day on April 14, which is Good Friday and widely observed by the Christians here.Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the state government has said it will not participate in such programmes which aim at diluting the secular fabric of the nation.”I will write to the Prime Minister as it is necessary for me to express concern on behalf of the people with special reference to the North East, which have a major chunk of Christian community,” he said.He said the state government has officially intimated the Union Cabinet Secretary in this regard.Lambasting at the Centre’s decision, Mukul said “We have to be candid in asking what is their agenda. The identification of dates observing Good Governance Day on Christmas and now Digital India Day on Good Friday are they (BJP-led NDA) trying to marginalise the minority?””BJP is creating a perception in the North East that everything is good with their style of functioning and the people of NE should accept them. This testimony is not based on facts.””Congress will provide a more stable government in Meghalaya, capable of turning round the whole socio-economic landscape of the state,” he said expressing confidence that the ruling Congress will return to power after the state Assembly elections in 2018.

Hinduism is the second fastest growing religion in Ireland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The fact that Islam is growing massively in India and country will have largest Muslim population by 2050 has often raised eye-brows. But Hinduism is also growing in unusual places. The relative growth outside India is tiny in absolute numbers but still significant. Hinduism is one of the fastest-growing religions in Ireland, predominantly a Christian country. The country’s Hindu population grew 34 percent in five years, according to the Ireland census, conducted in April 2016 by its Central Statistics Office (CSO) and released on April 6 this year. Islam grew by 29% in the same period. In contrast, the overall population growth in Ireland was 3.8 percent. Ireland is a primarily Christian country, with Roman Catholics forming the largest chunk of its 4.76 million population with a strength of 3.73 million. AT A GLANCEAs per the statistics, there were nearly 10,000 Hindus in the Catholic country in 2011, a number which touched 14,000 by April 2016. Muslim community is almost six time larger than the Hindus in absolute number. Religion-wise Orthodox reported the highest growth (37.5%) but number of people with no religion jumped to 73.6% between 2011-2016, says their Census report. As per an estimate, nearly one million Hindus are expected to move to a different region over the next four decades.

Police stops church event after Adityanath’s HYV alleges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police stopped a church event attended by more than 150 people, including 10 American tourists, here after the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) alleged that religious conversion was being carried out. The youth brigade, set up in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath who is now Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, filed a complaint against Yohannan Adam, the pastor of the church, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity, a charge the pastor denied. SHO, Dathauli, Anand Kumar Gupta said no prior permission was taken for the meeting, which was held ahead of Good Friday. “We stopped the prayer meeting after a complaint was registered. A probe is underway and appropriate action will be taken if the charges are found to be correct,” he said. Dathauli falls in Maharajganj district in eastern Uttar Pradesh. It borders Gorakhpur, the Lok Sabha constituency represented five times by Adityanath before he took over the reins of Uttar Pradesh. Gupta said mass was held there quite often but as this time foreigners were involved, the HYV suspected that conversion was going on. The US tourists, including a few women, were let off after police checked their travel documents. “The presence of US nationals indicates that innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted by missionaries who lured them with money to change their religion,” alleged HYV leader Krishna Nandan, who surrounded the church with his supporters yesterday afternoon. They dispersed after police promised a probe and adequate action even as the church authorities dismissed allegations of conversion. “The charges are absolutely baseless. The people were attending a prayer meeting voluntarily. We prayed. Nothing else was done,” pastor Adam said. The Hindu right wing has been at loggerheads with Christian missionaries, accusing them of converting people through coercion and allurement. Several Hindu organisations have conducted ‘ghar wapsi’ or homecoming of such people, which minority groups say is a couched term for re-conversion. Earlier this year, HYV activists had attacked the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur, accusing it of indulging in religious conversion. At Christmas last year, the HYV had warned Christian priests from holding any religious function outside churches. HYV, which has a widespread network in eastern Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that Hindus are lured to Christianity through religious functions. “We have received several inputs that Christian preachers and priests hold such religious ceremonies in rural areas and secret locations in which Hindus are brought and motivated to join Christianity, through allurements including cash. We will not let this happen,” HYV president Sunil Singh alleged. “They can hold their prayers inside churches or their homes but not any place outside. We have alerted the district administration in various places about such ceremonies slated to be held and if such functions do happen, churches would not be safe,” he warned. Singh said HYV has a youth member in each village in various districts of eastern Uttar Pardesh and keeps getting inputs about such happenings.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maha govt to initiate debate on need of anti-conversion law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government today told the Legislative Assembly here that it would initiate a debate on the necessity of an anti-conversion law in the state. Minister of State for Home, Deepak Kesarkar said, at present cases of forced conversion are dealt under IPC Sections 295 to 298 dealing with offences relating to religion. “We don t have a separate law to deal with conversion. The cases of conversion are negligible in the state. Last year, only one case was reported,” Kesarkar said. Kesarkar was responding to supplementaries by Atul Bhatkalkar and Yogesh Sagar (both BJP) on whether the state would consider enacting a law to prevent religious conversions. He said the state doesn’t have a conversion law. “But, we would initiate a debate on whether such a law is necessary.” The issue was raised by Anil Bonde (BJP) through a calling attention notice about reports of Christian evangelists trying conversion of tribals in Warud taluka of Amravati district. He said they were using photographs of Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj and Gram Geetacharya Tukaramdada to induce people to convert to Christianity. “They are distributing pamphlets of thoughts of Tukdoji Maharaj and Tukaramdada saying that they were views of Jesus Christ and Bible,” he charged. Bonde also charged that the Christian groups were circulating Christian prayer books in the name of Gurudev Seva Mandal and Satyashodhak Samaj. He also said these groups were spreading hatred about Hindu deities and criticising idol worship. He demanded action against such groups for trying to woo poor people into Christianity by propagating thoughts of Hindu saints as that of Jesus Christ. Kesarkar said Bonde had given a complaint in this regard to Amravati District Collector on March 26. The complaint has been forwarded to Superintendent of Police, Amravati and Warud Police is investigating the matter. If the case is found true, proper action would be taken, he said. When members sought filing of FIR in the case immediately, Kesarkar said he has given the police 15 days time to probe the case.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

When faith endangers children

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In October last year, 13-year-old Aradhana Samdariya died after a 68-day fast in Hyderabad. After a thorough investigation that lasted for five months, the police said that there was not enough evidence, and dropped the case completely. Her death was due to a cardiac arrest, a result of extreme nutritional deprivation. Reportedly, she was made to fast to bring about better business prospects for her father. Her parents maintain that they did not force her to fast. But can minors take such decisions willingly? Jain clerics argue that this is a religious issue and that ‘others’ must not interfere. After everything that has been said and done, the truth remains that all parties remain unpunished even after the teen died.The most common form of child abuse that is widely condemned by people even from within the religious community is sexual abuse. But condemnation is often not the first step in these issues. Last year alone, more than five priests from different churches were arrested on charges of sexually abusing minors. Some of the cases were brought to light after several years of isolated psychological trauma endured by the children. In many such cases, considering the closeness of Christian communities, parents are known to suppress knowledge of child abuse fearing loss of reputation of the church. In the fight between faith and their own children, faith seems to have a horrible upper hand.The process of circumcising infants in the name of religion and female genital mutilation are serious issues in various Islamic societies. Sending children to religious places of instruction denies a child the access to quality secular education that other children enjoy. But questioning this will be met with allegations of being intolerant of Islam.I do not claim that only religious teachers abuse children. But they are certainly in a better position to get away with their behaviour when they do so, because religion trumps the rights of children. For every child abuser in the making, the promise of religious impunity must feel like the promise of a lifetime.Religion has a rich history of engaging in child abuse and getting away with it. The devdasi system was perhaps the most prominent of them all. Women as young as eight-years old got inducted into the system, trapped to a life of serving the sexual desires of affluent men in the region. It is but sexual slavery with religious backing. When this practice was sought to be abolished, defenders ran in with the classic “don’t question my faith” argument.And therein lies the problem.The Muslim personal law board has been continuously fighting to ensure that Muslim women can be married off when they are young minors. They seek legal backing to this anti-children move based on the argument that one cannot interfere in the religious activities of another.When the late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa was in her death bed, pictures of children with pierced tongues and cheeks praying for her recovery made rounds. Smaller groups, like the Jews, have religious diktats prohibiting reporting abuse to the police. Jehovah’s witnesses prohibit blood transfusion, and would rather let their children die than let blood transfusion occur.In several ways, religion doesn’t seem to just protect the abusers, it also seems to be promoting abusive practices. Not all of them are as blatant as piercing cheeks or making devdasis. Some forms of abuses and neglect go completely unnoticed. Many communities praise and worship children with severe deformities such as eye disorders or additional limbs that could be medically taken care of at a very early stage. Or are blamed for their lack of faith when they fall ill or face an injury.Any act of allowing child abuse in the name of religion is dangerous. It is a popular misconception that a parent knows what is best for his/her child or that enforcing religion is a private matter. It is the responsibility of a parent to prioritise the well-being of his/her child over his/her beliefs. If they don’t rise up to this, it is the collective responsibility of the society to put the mental and physical health of the children first. Knowing what is right is half the work. Acting on it is the difficult part.The writer is an admin of Nirmukta — an organisation which promotes scientific temper and critical thinking. The views expressed in the article are those of the writer, you can send in your feedback to [email protected]

Christian group wants nuns to hear confessions of women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Kerala-based layman’s outfit has come out with a demand that nuns be allowed to perform the sacrament of confession for women and minors instead of priests. Kerala Catholic Reformation Movement, which stands for reforms in the church, held a sit-in dharna outside the Bishop House in Kochi yesterday to press their demand. Indulekha Joseph, a member of the outfit, said they were raising the demand in the wake of the “increasing” instances of sexual abuses allegedly involving Christian priests. The stir was attended by a number of people, including women and senior citizen, in front of the Major Archbishop’s House at Marine Drive in Kochi. The participants at the dharna held banners with slogans ‘Let nuns perform the sacrament of confession of women’, ‘women are afraid of confession booths of priests’ and so on. Joseph also claimed that Bible “does not say anywhere that the sacrament of confession be done by priests only.” The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council dismissed the protest by the group, saying there was no need for a discussion on the issue right now. “The agitation is just to get media attention and also without understanding the core principles of Holy Bible,” Fr Varghese Vallikatt told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Assembly Elections 2017: Kejriwal’s national ambition has been dashed, but will AAP learn its lesson?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Is Aam Aadmi Party finally ready for its big debut in national politics? That was the buzz when EVMs were opened on Saturday. But hopes of Kejriwal and his bunch of followers fizzled out soon as the trends for Punjab became clear. Forget winning Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party was a poor second in the border state with Captain Amarinder Singh running far ahead with the mandate. AAP and it ally Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) could barely manage 22 out of 107 assembly seats. This is AAP’s debut in Punjab assembly. But the party did brilliantly well in Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, winning 4 seats. It was ahead in 33 assembly segments. So compared to 2014, AAP lost 11 seats in 2017. Despite Kejriwal investing a lot of capital in Punjab, the party’s campaign failed to sprout wings. The factors which lead to AAP’s Punjab disappointment is symptomatic of parties that try to scale up without putting proper organisation into place. With Bhagwant Mann getting the limelight, it lead to other MPs openly dissenting against the leadership. Finally, there was an open revolt and senior leader Sucha Singh Chottepur left the party. AAP’s strategy was to hope that the party’s ground workers will manage to sway voters, utilising the massive anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP government. But Kejriwal’s tactical mistake was failing to empower the Punjab AAP leaders. He tried to became the main face of Punjab by not projecting a CM face and kept ambiguity about possibility of shifting from Delhi to Punjab. AAP’s strategy was not based on sound reasoning but rather on the irrational belief that voters will be benevolent enough to give a Delhi-sque mandate, even if they haven’t done the required leg-work.Sadly for AAP, Captain Amarinder Singh is too smart a cookie to not seize the opportunity. He saw a chink in AAP’s armour with the party busy infighting. In admittedly his last assembly election, Amarinder rode his luck buoyed by a strong organisation. For AAP, it was a case of shooting for the stars without getting the ground organisation in place. AAP again repeated the mistake it made in 2014, owing to complacency and dissension in party ranks. An undeniable blot in Kejriwal’s leadership accumen. The situation in Goa wasn’t much different. AAP tried to create an impression, aided by some media outlets, that the party is all set to challenge BJP in the coastal state. It had the ample opportunity too. MGP breaking away from BJP, open revolt of a section of RSS against the Parsekar government and lack of buzz surrounding Congress meant that AAP had the right ingredients to make a dramatic entry in Goa politics. But it frittered out spectacularly, getting a golden duck. The party, with Elvis Gomez as the CM face, almost exclusively focused on getting the Christian vote with sort of an assumption that Hindu voters would be voting for BJP come what may. Finally, Congress, which has a presence in all social strata, managed to fill the vacuum and ended up the winner. Congress didn’t get a majority, but it has enough to cobble up a majority with the help of smaller parties and independents. AAP supporters may say that the party started from scratch in both the states. It is a significant achievement to become the major opposition in Punjab and get 6% vote in Goa. But the fact that in both the states, the party lost out to Congress which is on a historic low, shows troubling signs for AAP. Till now, AAP has grown at the cost of Congress by usurping its vote-bank. Does it have a game plan for situations where Congress holds steady and there is no attritional vote to bank on? The party needs to take one state at a time, and its developmental work in Delhi can help it increase footprints in other states. An obstructionist policy essentially banking on sensationalism and high media coverage has its limitation and may have limited returns in the long run. People may vote for a rebel once but, at the end of the day, they want an able ruler with a tight leash. For Kejriwal and AAP, March 11 will remain a bitter lesson. It better gets its act together or risk the chance of being reduced to a mere regional party.

NGO banning: US for solution that ‘honours India’s laws’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US has said that the issue of shutting down of a Colorado-based Christian NGO in India must be resolved in a manner that is “transparent” and honours India’s laws, even as it expressed concern over the challenges faced by foreign NGOs in the country. “Over the past couple of years we’ve seen, frankly, a number of foreign-funded NGOs who have encountered significant challenges to continuing their operations, and it’s something we’re watching and it’s something we’re going to engage with the Indian Government on and try to find a way forward,” State Department Acting Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters during a conference call. Asked about the decision of Compassion International to close down its operation in India, Toner said, “Just to emphasise, we want all parties to be able to work cooperatively and certainly in a way that honours India’s laws and also, as I said, in a transparent process and find a way forward.” At the same time, he said, the United states has a very strong bilateral relationship with India. The Indo-US relationship was one in which the two sides can talk about all the issues they agree on as two strong democracies, but also can share their concerns, he noted. “I think this is an area where we have a concern, and we have shared those concerns with the Government of India and we remain concerned about the closure of Compassion International and its operations in India,” Toner said. “It speaks to our concerns more broadly about civil society and its ongoing vibrancy and health, and the fact that we will always advocate for freedom of expression and association around the world,” he said. Toner asserted that the US has seen that a number of foreign-funded NGOs over the past couple of years have encountered similar problems and so it remains a concern for it. “It’s something we’ve raised. Compassion International is obviously just the most recent case. But we’re going to continue to talk to the Indian Government about it,” Toner said. Compassion International on March 1 announced that it will close down its operations in India on March 15. The decision to close its India operations impacts nearly 147,000 babies, children and young adults currently registered in Compassion’s child development programmes, as well as 127 staff, the NGO said in a statement. “Though we are saying farewell to Compassion’s current programme in India, we know that God’s work has not ended,” said Compassion president and CEO Santiago ‘Jimmy’ Mellado.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Eight suspects arrested in MP-UP terror incidents: HM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight suspects have been arrested so far in connection with the blast on a train in Madhya Pradesh and the subsequent anti-terror operations leading to the killing of alleged terrorist Saifullah in Lucknow, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Rajya Sabha today. Making a statement during the Zero Hour on incidents in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh on March 7 and 8, he also showered praise on Saifullah’s father Sartaj who has refused to take the body of his son, amid thumping of benches by the entire House. After the statement, several Opposition members wanted to seek clarification from the minister. Singh would reply to members on the “next working day”. “Till March 8, six accused were arrested. With the arrest of two more accused by UP ATS on March 9, total 8 arrests have been made in these incidents so far,” the minister said. Singh, who had made statement in this regard in Lok Sabha yesterday, said UP ATS sieged the house in which Saifullah was hiding in Haji Colony area of Lucknow and made vigorous attempts to nab the suspect. “However, he refused to surrender and started firing on ATS team. Ultimately, after 12 hours of effort, the ATS team entered the room in which Saifulla was holed up and in the ensuing encounter, this suspected terrorist was killed,” he said, and gave other details regarding the incidents. He said that due to the prompt action taken by the police of both the states, “a possible threat to national security was successfuly averted”. Praising Sartaj, Singh said the “entire country is proud of him”. The minister said India’s culture is such that no Hindu, Muslim or Christian will endorse any terror activity in the country, as members from all sides thumped of their desks. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said the statement of Sartaj reflects the sentiments of the nation and there could be no compromise on terrorism. Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said since the minister has made a statement on the issue, members should be allowed to seek clarification. He got support from several other Opposition members. Later it was decided that Singh would make himself available to members for clarification on the next working day. The Home Minister informed the House that eight pistols, 630 live cartridges, Rs 1.5 lakh, three mobiles phone, four sim cards, two wireless sets and some foreign currency were recovered from the place where Saifullah lived. According to UP police, Saifullah belonged to a self-proclaimed group of ISIS supporters.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

US says it encourages a transparent process for NGOs in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the US-based donor NGO Compassion International shutting down its India operations, the US today called for a transparent Indian process for foreign NGOs, which it said has been facing ” significant challenges” for the last few years. “NGOs do valuable work overseas. Certainly these countries and governments have their own reasons for the laws they pass, but we believe it should be transparent and clear why they’re shutting down these organisations,” the State Department’s acting spokesman Mark Toner said at a news conference. Toner expressed concern over the Christian charity closing down its operations in Indian and said that the US will take up the matter with the Indian government. “When a group like Compassion International, which we believe is doing important works in India and is closed down, it’s a matter of concern. Certainly, we’ll raise that with the Indian government,” . Toner said that all parties should work cooperatively by adhering to the Indian laws. “We believe it’s imperative that all parties work transparently and cooperatively in a way that not only respects Indian laws, but also encourages a transparent process,” he said in response to a question. He expressed concern over the challenges faced by the foreign NGOs to continue their operations in India. “Unfortunately we have seen over the past couple of years a number of foreign-funded NGOs in India that have encountered significant challenges in continuing their operations,” Toner said. “One of the good things about our strong bilateral relations with India is that we can talk about these kinds of issues,” he said, adding that the US has raised the issue with India through diplomatic channels. In December last year, the Home Ministry said it is unlikely to reconsider its decision banning the US-based donor from funding Indian NGOs notwithstanding consistent appeals by American authorities. The NGO was put under ‘prior permission category’ in May last. When a donor organisation is put under this category, it is barred from funding any Indian NGO without the nod from the government. Toner said the US is committed to the health and vibrancy of civil society and it “strongly advocates” for a strong civil society and organisations that are working in that sphere around the world.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

India’s Civil Code Conundrum: reflection of diversity or case for reform?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is a land of many religions, castes, communities and their consequent customs and codes of conduct termed as civil codes or personal laws, which have evolved over centuries of mutual co-existence in the country. The various codes followed by different communities have been sought to be unified in the form of a Uniform Civil Code by an authority no less than the Constitution of India under Section 44 of its Directive Principles. In recent times, India’s Supreme Court has been called upon to revise some of these civil codes in a march towards a Uniform Civil Code, which, in its most recent pronouncement, the Honourable Court has refused to dwell upon.Ancient IndiaAncient India’s civil codes are believed to have evolved through many centuries from the Vedas, which were seen as the first form of divinely ordained laws. However, a set of formal laws evolved from them as a branch (Vedanga) initially for elaborating proper conduct of rituals and procedures. These further evolved into manuals for conducting domestic rituals (Grahya Sutras) and finally into manuals for ethical human conduct called the Dharmasutras. A number of authorities developed different manuals termed collectively as Dharmasutras from the sixth to the second century BCE. However, only the work of four jurists viz Gautama, Baudhayana, Vashista and Aapastamba have survived as manuscripts. These manuals were in poetic form and finally evolved into verse forms called Dharmashastras or Smritis of the four surviving Smritis, that of Manu called Manu Smriti or Manava Dharma Shastra, probably formed the basis of Hindu laws from 2nd century CE onwards, though they were never formally codified as laws. Manu Smriti is presented as a set of sermons by Manu and Bhrigu on human duties, rights, laws, virtues and other aspects of ethics as applied to various sections of the Hindu society. The only secular ancient Indian text which deals with the practical aspects of ancient Indian laws is the Arthashastra, purportedly written by Chanakya, the Chief Minister of Chandragupta Maurya. The later period of Indian History saw the rise of commentaries on Dharmashastras by new authorities, two of these, Mitakshara — a treatise on Yajnavalkya Smriti by Vijnaneswara, a courtier of the Karnataka ruler, Chalukya Vikramaditya VI, and Dayabhaaga — a treatise on inheritance by Jimutavahana, a Sanskrit scholar for 12th century Bengal. These two works became the influential basis of Hindu laws on inheritance during the British period.Medieval IndiaThe conquest of India by Islamic rulers, both foreign and home-grown dynasties did not affect the laws of Hindu society but introduced the Islamic Shari’a for India’s Muslim citizens. The Sharia evolved in the wider Islamic world from the eighth century onwards through interpretations of various jurists of the different passages in the Holy Quran and the Hadiths (the sayings and incidents in the life of Prophet Muhammad compiled by authorities after his death). The Sharia was, however, presented as the Holy Law by the Muslim clergy, and the Ulema (learned ones) while its human interpretations were deemed as Fiqhs.Four major schools of Fiqh thought arose in the Sunni Islamic world under four jurists namely Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i. In the Indian sub-continent, the Hanafi school of thought named after Abūanīfa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit (d. 767), gained ground and became the basis of its Islamic laws. The implementation orders of the Fiqh by the Ulema or Islamic law officers, the Qazis were termed as Fatwahs. Indian Sultans and the Mughals later did not impose the Sharia laws strictly keeping some space for customary beliefs under the system of Hiyal which was used to accept some laws not strictly acceptable according to the Sharia; Sharia laws were not applied to the Hindus who were left to their own courts. The Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb appointed a board of Sunni Ulema to compile a set of governing laws based on Hanafi laws between 1664 and 1672 which were termed as the Fatwa-i-Alamgiri which gave direction to the laws of later Muslims especially in the colonial period.Colonial India“That in all suits regarding inheritance, marriage, caste and other religious usages or institutions, the law of the Koran with respect to Mahometans, and those of the Shaster with respect to Gentoos shall be invariably be adhered to.” — Warren Hastings, August 15, 1772.The British first encountered the various laws of India when they were appointed as official representatives of the Mughal Emperor for collecting the Diwani rights of Bengal and Orissa in 1765. The initial British approach to personal laws of both Muslims and Hindus termed as the Anglo-Muslim and Anglo-Hindu Laws sought the easy way of referring these matters to the medieval sources of the Muslims like the Fatwa-i-Alamgiri and in case of Hindus, the Manu Smriti (translated by Orientalist, William Jones) and extracts from the Dharmashastras (translated by Henry T. Coolebrooke). However, later, British administrators especially Lord Bentinck, the Governor-General of British India from 1828 till 1835 pushed towards a uniform civil code based on humanism and succeeded in suppressing the Hindu custom of Sati and encouraging widow remarriage by passing the Widow Remarriage Act 1856. His efforts were lauded by reformers like Raja Rammohun Roy and Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar which led to their eventual acceptance. However, after the Indian revolt of 1857-58, the personal laws were cautiously dealt and the British left the personal laws of various communities unchanged. However, the Christian community got the first law in the form of the Indian Marriage Act in 1864 (later Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872) and the Indian Divorce Act in 1869. Hindu Laws were slowly reformed as the Indian Succession Act was passed in 1865 which was succeeded by the Married Women’s Property Act, 1923, the Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act, 1928 and the Hindu Women’s right to Property Act, 1937 which permitted and protected Hindu women’s right to property. The Parsi community gots its Personal laws enacted under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936. The Special Marriage Act, 1872 gave Indian citizens an option of a civil marriage but had a limited application because it required those involved to renounce their religion and was applicable only to Hindus. The later Special Marriage (Amendment) Act, 1923 permitted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains to marry either under their personal law or under the act without renouncing their religion as well as retaining their succession rights. The Muslim elite resisted changes to its personal laws fiercely leading to the government passing the Sharia Law of 1937 which stipulated that all Indian Muslims would be governed by Islamic laws on marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, succession and inheritance. The Sharia Act, 1937 was however fairly balanced by Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 which gave Muslim women some recourse to legal help. Post-Independence The initial debates in the Indian Parliament were a set of reforms proposed to lead to Uniform Civil Code for all Indian citizens. However, the findings of the Hindu Law Committee shifted the focus to Hindu law reforms which were strongly endorsed by the Prime Minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and his law minister, Dr BR Ambedkar provoking resistance from orthodox Hindu members, who tried to stall the imminent changes on important subjects like monogamy, divorce and inheritance to daughters, which challenged the patriarchal system of the Hindu society. Thus, the Hindu Code Bill as it was called, was delayed till 1955 and when it was passed, it was diluted and made into a set of four separate laws on Hindu Marriage, succession, minority and guardianship and maintenance. The Hindu Laws were applied to a set of Indian religious groups like Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs along with the various Hindu castes with the exceptions of the scheduled tribes. The Uniform Civil Code was endorsed as an ideal under the Article 44 of the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution, which some say was done to see that it was never implemented. The Special Marriage Act’s scope was further widened by the Special Marriage Act, 1954 to provide civil marriage to any citizen irrespective of religion, thus permitting any Indian to have their marriage outside the realm of any specific religious personal law. The Sharia Act, 1937 continued to govern the Muslim personal laws and its major challenge came in 1985 when it was challenged during the Shah Bano verdict. This verdict saw a strong reaction from the Muslim community which opposed the interference in its customs especially the All India Muslim Personal Law Board leading to the passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 by the Rajiv Gandhi government. Thus, the issue of Muslim law reform became a political hot potato with the formation of opposite political groupings. In recent times, some women groups have challenged the triple talaq in various Indian courts and thus, the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case for testing the legality of the triple talaq within the confines of the Indian Constitution and Islamic sources. However, keeping view of the community’s sensitivity, the Court has decided to keep the debate for Uniform Civil Code out of this discussion and look at the legality of the practice alone. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has dismissed last month the petition of a Christian petitioner who sought permission to allow Christians to seek divorce through church courts. The Supreme Court overruled the 80-year-old’s plea to equate Christian Personal Law with the Muslim Personal Law and tribal personal laws which allow a divorce on the pronouncement by community leaders. Thus, the twenty-first century seems to be a new age for India’s personal laws which are being increasingly challenged by members of its communities, civil rights activists and other citizen groups to herald changes in a march towards equity and fairness among all its citizens.

HC seeks Centre’s reply on plea to appoint NCMEI head

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Centre on a plea seeking appointment of a chairperson in the National Commission of Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), a post which is lying vacant since December 2014. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed the government to file its affidavit on the issue before the next date of hearing on March 22. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, said that the matter is under consideration before the competent authority and decision is likely to be taken. The court was hearing a plea by Mohd Khalid Ansari who has said that no chairperson has been appointed in NCMEI after the previous incumbent demitted office in December 2014. The plea said that the commission chairperson has to be from a minority community and must also have served as a judge of a high court. It further said that without the chairperson, all orders passed by the commission are liable to be set aside as being of no legal consequences and void ab initio. The NCMEI Act came into effect from November 2004 and in January 2005 the central government issued the notification identifying Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Zorastrian (Parsis) communities as minorities for the purpose of the Act. The commission was established to protect and safeguard the educational institutions which are established by the minorities in India and also to ensure rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Bandh relaxed in Nagaland for people to attend church services

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ongoing bandh in Nagaland was today relaxed by various tribal organisations to allow people to attend church services in the Christian majority state. The organisations are protesting against the state government for going ahead with the Urban Local Body (ULB) polls with 33 per cent seats reserved for women. The bandh against functioning of the state government offices and vehicles was only relaxed for today and would continue indefinitely till Chief Minister T R Zeliang and his Cabinet colleagues step down, Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) Kohima said. Private activities, including business, educational institutions, banks and movement of pedestrians have been exempted from the bandh, the organisation stated. The prohibitory order imposed in some areas of Kohima was still in force today even though no untoward incident was reported in the state. The functioning of the Nagaland Board of School Education, Nagaland Public Service Commission, SCERT, banks, postal, power sub-stations, fire and emergency services, telecom and Nagaland State Transport have been exempted from the purview of the bandh, a Kohima-based tribal youth body Angami Youth Organisation (AYO) said. AYO volunteers had yesterday locked the main gate of the Nagaland Civil Secretariat, state Assembly building and some government offices in Kohima demanding the resignation of Zeliang and his cabinet colleagues. The Join Coordination Committee (JCC), which is also demanding that the Zeliang government step down, has alleged that the officers involved in the January 31 police firing, in which two youths died, should not be transferred but suspended for free and fair inquiry in the matter. The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) has decided to extend its support to the demands made by NTAC and JCC. They also want restriction in the opening of government offices and movement of state vehicles till the demands are fulfilled. This was resolved at ENPO’s emergency meeting held yesterday in Dimapur. On February 2, violent mobs had set fire to government offices and vehicles in Kohima. They had vandalised the State Election Commission office demanding the resignations of the chief minister and his cabinet for going ahead with 33 per cent reservation for women despite opposition from powerful tribal groups.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

With love, From India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is a country which has been viewed through different prisms by various observers over the ages, from Megasthenes (one of the earliest foreign observers of India during the Mauryan era) to Fa-Hien (a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who came visiting during Chandragupta II Vikramaditya’s reign) to Al-Beruni (one of the earliest Arabic travellers to the sub-continent to document the residents of Al-Hind, the Land of ‘Hindus’ — pertaining to all the residents of the country rather than a religion) to Ibn Batuta, and finally, Babur, whose dynasty was destined to rule India for the next three centuries. So, what brought these travellers to India? It was the knowledge acquired from achievements of the Indians in various fields — taken to their native lands and later getting it integrated with local ideas as modern knowledge — whether it was the Chinese, the early Islamic travellers or the later ones from the Western world who incorporated them into various innovations during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras when various oriental sources were translated into European languages. ZeroThe most famous invention of ancient India which revolutionised both medieval and modern computing is the numeral Zero, which arose from the innovative use of the Buddhist concept of Shunya (literally nothing/not self) as a numeral by Aryabhatta, a fifth century mathematician whose work, Aryabhatiya, used it to allot value to numerals by placing shunya before and after numbers. This concept was amplified by Brahmagupta in his seventh century work, Brahmasputha Siddhanta which elaborated the role of zero. The works of these Indian scholars were utilised by Persian mathematician, Mohammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (780-850 AD) in his ninth century work compiled during the Golden Age of Islam under the Abbasid Caliphs. Incidentally, al-Khwarizmi translated shunya employing the Arabic word sifr which implied nothingness, and his book was translated as Algoritmi de numerum Indorum in Latin in the twelfth century with the Latinisation of his name as Algorithm which later became the name for the science of decimal-based numerals. The Italian mathematician, Fibonacci (1150-1250 AD) who grew up in North Africa, used the word zephyrum which became zefiro in Italian and later contracted to zero in most modern European languages. Other achievements by Aryabhatta and successive mathematicians of the period included a near perfect calculation of Pi, astronomical advances like the distance between the Earth and the Sun, the length of the solar year, etc. These achievements have been appreciated by modern astronomers and mathematicians alike for their near accuracy despite limited resources available to them.ChessChess evolved from an ancient Indian game called Chaturanga (literally translating to four limbs) referring to a board game which re-enacted a war with the four important divisions of an army viz Gaja (elephants), Ratha (chariots), Ashwa (horses) and Padati (foot soldiers) apart from the King and his Chief Minister. The game was invented probably in the Gupta period and went to Sassanid Persia where it was later named Shatranj. After Persia’s conquest by the Arabs, cha was replaced with sha and ga with ja to suit the Arabic lexicon as cha and ga do not exist in Arabic language. Chess was then imported to the West where the earliest documented chess set is a twelfth-century walrus ivory set discovered in Lewis in Scotland. Chaturanga, also called Ashtapada referring to its eight columns and eight rows, was also an inspiration for other oriental versions of the game, viz Sittuyin (Burmese), Shoggi (Japanese), etc.Philosophy and cultureAncient India exported its cultural and intellectual traditions to Sri Lanka first. It gradually spread to the rest of South-East Asia from there. India’s eminent position as the land of the origin of Buddhism and its schools for Buddhist thought led to a steady stream of knowledge-seekers and pilgrims from entire South-East Asia, especially to the Buddhist sites connected with various events in the life of the Buddha. According to A L Basham, Indian monastic traditions and lifestyle are said to have influenced early Christian ascetics indirectly through a Jewish sect of the Essenes. He also observes similarities between certain sections of the Pali scriptures and the New Testament. He states that Indian philosophical ideas of Advaita Vedanta influenced Neo-Platonism, a philosophy in the West in the Roman period which later influenced Judeo-Christian thought. These influences helped in the creation of a common ground between Sufi Islam and Hinduism which was sought by many saints of the Bhakti movement, like Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak.India gave a lot of its developments freely to the world before its own intellectual activities and developments came to a grinding halt at the beginning of the medieval period swamped by external influences from the Islamic world and later the Western world. Ayurveda & surgeryDifferent kinds of herbs are used in preparing ayurvedic medicine- ThinkstockAyurveda had mythological origins and was evolved from the Vedic period however, but later texts like Charaka Samhita and Shusruta Samhita were compiled through experience and edited in the later periods of ancient India. Shusruta Samhita is more commendable for its description of early surgical procedures and instruments to treat surgical diseases like piles, injuries, nasal repair and even plastic surgery. The basics of both Ayurveda and Indian surgery were conveyed to the West in the first centuries of the Christian era in the form of Galenic medicine of the Roman empire which employed similar theories as Ayurveda. Later, Indian surgeons are even credited with passing some of their skills to the modern physicians of the East India Company in the nineteenth century. Scale and the units of measurementWeights used in the Indus civilisationThe Harappan people were one of the first to have innovated a standard weight and measurements system at around 2600 BC. The weight standard was based on a series of cubic weights made of chert stone with the lowest weight, 0.856 gram with a basic unit of 28 grams. This weight system was exported to Mesopotamia and Central Asia where it was further developed. The Harappans also innovated the first measuring scale whose ivory and bronze specimens have been discovered from Harappan sites with a basic unit of 1.32 inches with minute divisions till 0.005 of an inch. This was practically applied in the measurement of bricks used in all Harappan sites, one of the earliest planned cities in the ancient world. The Mauryan period saw the development of the measurement of length based on bodily measurements like the breadth of a human thumb, angula (approximately 3/4 of an inch) and the hasta or the cubit and their multiples giving rise to the kos (3.66 km) and the yojana (15 km) as mentioned in the Arthashastra. The first university of the worldRuins of Takshashila UniversityAncient India established one of the earliest universities in the world at Takshashila (modern Taxila in Pakistan) for higher learning in various subjects like Sanskrit, military arts, statecraft, law, economics taught by experts since 5th century BC. Takshashila University’s famous alumni include Chanakya, Mauryan Emperor Chandra Gupta, Charaka, the physician, and Sanskrit grammarian, Panini. The Takshashila University also served as a religious institution for both Hindu and Buddhist monks for imparting knowledge of various philosophical thoughts with students drawn not only from India but also Sri Lanka. It lasted till the 5th century AD in a period which threw up new centres of learning in all corners of the like Nalanda, Vikramashila, Vallabhi, Odantapuri, Nagarjunkonda and Kanchipuram. However, these later centres became more specialised as schools of special philosophical thought surviving till the Islamic period when many were either sacked or abandoned due to stoppage of state patronage. Rupee and currencyCoins from the reign of Gupta emperor Samudra Gupta (top) and Kushan emperor Vima KadphisesAncient Indians developed their own currency independent of foreign influences in the pre-Mauryan period between 7th and 4th century BC with silver coins weighed in multiples of the barley grain and a local seed, ratti. Initial coin series were minted with an indigenous technique which focused on exact weight than shape of the coin, Thus, the quadrangular shaped coins were of fixed weights. These blanks were then impressed with small symbols of plants, birds, animals and even human figures. This gave rise to an early term, rupya to denote the beautiful images on these early coins. The term was re-employed in the medieval period as rupaiya which was anglicised to Rupee by the East India Company. India’s trade with the international powers during the colonial period ensured that the Rupee became one of the most recognised currency terms. The Rupee, thus, became the name for not only currencies of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka but also that of Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles. It was also the currency for Afghanistan, Burma, Tibet, British East Africa, German East Africa and more.decoding history History is a subject that merits discussions and debates beyond the confines of a classroom. Its purpose is to create a sense of inquiry and engage us in conversations and explorations of the past; because that is what defines our present. Decoding History is a weekly Saturday page where we explore an event in World and Indian history for answers to questions about the past that may lead us straight across the boundaries of nations, empires and civilisations. It is a page to educate and familiarise teens and adults with historical events that continue to hold relevance at a personal, national and global level.

Cardinal Toppo asks bishops to rise above ritual observance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cardinal and Archbishop of Ranchi in the Roman Catholic Church Telesphore Toppo today appealed to bishops to rise above ritual observance in quest for God. “Do we find joy in our daily opportunities to encounter God? Or are we content just with ritual observance?” Cardinal Toppo said while addressing the 29th Plenary Assembly (general body) of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), the largest biennial meeting of Catholic clergy in Asia here, on the third day. “We easily get energised with crowd pulling celebrations and get deviated by modern gadgets, but fail to live a life of deep encounter with Christ,” he told the assembly of 131 Bishops. Toppo called for a collectively reflection on importance of such encounters in life as Christian clergy “while we focus on family ministry (promote family relationship) which is founded on the bedrock of encounters.” In his address, Bhopal Archbishop Leo Cornelio said,” The church in the state capital has maintained a reasonably good relation with the political heads and government officials.” He appreciated the healthy relationship, co-operation and unity of different religions in the city. “The peaceful atmosphere of the city needs a special mention. The fast progressing Bhopal has helped the growth of the Church,” Cornelio said. He said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has taken up the initiative to invite Christians and celebrate Christmas for the last five consecutive years (at his official residence).(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Goa Elections 2017: AAP has become Khas Admi Party, wants to eat ladoo bigger than its size, says Rajnath

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took potshots at AAP on its claim to form the next government in Goa, while questioning its record in Delhi where the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit is in power. “AAP is no more a party of aam admi (common man)…it has become Khas Admi Party (privileged man’s party). Go to Delhi and see how they are running the government there. Though Delhi is not a full-fledged state, AAP has failed to govern it properly,” he said.The senior BJP leader was speaking at a rally in Cuncolim, South Goa, in support of BJP candidate Rajan Naik fighting the February 4 Assembly polls. “They (AAP) have come to Goa to conduct (electoral) experiment. Do they think Goa is a laboratory? How can AAP even dream of forming a second government (in Goa) after failing to run the first one (Delhi)?” he questioned. “Woh apni size se kucch bada ladoo khane ki khoshish kar rahe hai (they are trying to eat a ladoo bigger than their size). Apne size se bada ladoo khane ki khoshish karega uska kya harsh hoga yeh mujhe batlane ki avashyakta nahi hai (I need not tell you what happens to a person who tries to eat a ladoo bigger than his size),” Singh quipped. The Home Minister praised Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over his performance and said it was for the first time that a Goan had been given such a high position and respect in the Central government.”All Indians should be proud of a leader like Manohar Parrikar. He has raised the defence capabilities of the country after taking over the portfolio,” he said. “Similarly, under Make In India initiative, the Defence Ministry has started manufacturing arms and ammunition, which were imported earlier, within the country,” he said. Referring to the September 29 surgical strikes across the LoC, Singh said the Prime Minister took the decision on the operation after Pakistani terrorists attacked Indian soldiers, and it was duly implemented by Parrikar. Singh’s praise for Parrikar comes amid speculation that he may be sent to Goa if BJP wins the Assembly polls.”We have sent a message to the entire world that India is no more a weak nation…it has grown into a strong country,” the Home Minister asserted. Singh welcomed several Christian community members into the BJP fold at the rally. He said Congress has been unnecessarily labelling BJP as a “communal” party. “BJP believes in uniting and not dividing society. There are 72 sects of Islam in the world, and India is the only country where you will find members from all these sects, which is not the case even in Islamic countries,” he said. “Similarly, all Christian sects are present in India. India is a secular country, but Congress has been calling BJP a communal party for political and electoral gains,” the BJP leader added.

Be a true Christian and help in nation-building: SC Justice Kurian Joseph to youngsters

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The youth should involve themselves in nation-building and strive to bring about a positive change in the society, Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph said. “There are certain roles, responsibilities and duties we have to fulfill as citizens of the country.If you violate the law, it will be a sin against the country. I urge the youth to involve themselves in building the nation and believe in bringing a positive change in society,” he said.Justice Kurien was delivering a talk on “Constitutional Rights and Duties – Youth Responsibility” at a programme held here on the concluding day of the 10th national youth convention, organised by Indian Catholic youth Movement. He said, there has been discrimination on caste, creed and religion which needs to be eradicated as this nation comprises cultures and languages which change from place to place.”This country has given birth to myriad religions which we need to be proud of… It is a constitutional right to follow and propagate one’s religion, and it is the right of every citizen.Be a true Christian and love the nation and be a part of the nation-building,” Justice Joseph added. On the occasion, a peace rally was flagged-off by Archbishop of Bengaluru Dr Bernard Moras. Bishop of Ballari diocese Dr Henry D’Souza, Bishop of Mangaluru Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, chief whip of Karnataka Legislative Council Ivan D’Souza, J R Lobo MLA, Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes and others were present. The convention which began on January 18 at St Joseph Engineering College, Vamanjoor, saw participation from thousands of youngsters from all over the country.

Indian woman held for acid attack on ex-lover

The rare attack in India was allegedly carried out by a woman angry at her lover for breaking up.

Remembering Vivekananda

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, which is observed as the National Youth Day in India, is set for celebrations on January 12. The Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897, today has 144 centres across India; all of them are celebrating the day in their different capacities.The Mumbai centre, has scheduled a day-long event at two different venues (South Mumbai Khar) with various activities. The event is expected to see participation in large numbers, especially, children and young people. The Ramakrishna Mission was established with the aim to achieve spiritual fulfilment, harmony of religions for the betterment of mankind and bridging of the East and the West. Swami Muktidananda Maharaj, secretary of the Mumbai centre, said, “There are various activities planned along with the launch of the book ‘Youth Power and The Power of Ideas’ written by Swami Bhajananandaji Maharaj. This book is knowledge and value oriented, and is based on Swami Vivekananda’s ideas. It incorporates the wisdom of East and the West.” He hopes that this book can be a life companion and guide for the youth of India. A few weeks ago, the mission conducted competitions around Swami Vivekananda’s ideals in 200 schools across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Around 1,000 prizes will be distributed for the student’s exceptional work in elocution, essay writing, power point presentation, music and artwork, at the Gateway venue, where Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta will be the chief guest.However, what is interesting is the venue of the book launch — the Gateway of India — as it holds significance in Swami Vivekananda’s life.It is from the Gateway of India that Vivekananda, aged 30, started on his voyage to the USA to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 where he was representing India and Hinduism. It was here that he made his historic speech in which he made an attempt to explain on the global platform the reasons for disagreements between various sects and religions. Using the allegory of a frog, Vivekananda illustrated: “I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Muslim sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world.”The Ramakrishna Mission, now a worldwide spiritual movement, conducts extensive social work in rural management, healthcare, betterment of tribal communities and teaching underprivileged students. It also strives towards harmonising the West and the East through Vivekananda’s teachings. This can be seen from the fact that today, the organisation has 39 centres outside of India and houses 1,500 plus monks globally. To know the entire schedule, please visit www.rkmkhar.org

Redeeming the understanding of Islam and making it accessible

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was 11 am on 21 September 2013. I had been working on my historical novel, Idris, when news came of unidentified gunmen opening fire in one of Nairobi’s upscale malls. TV channels and online newspapers had plenty to say. The mass shooting had left 67 people dead and more than 175 people injured.An eyewitness was reported to have said that the attackers had asked Muslims to leave, declaring that only non-Muslims would be targeted. Among other aspects of the vetting process, the hostages were asked to name Prophet Muhammad’s mother as a litmus test that would distinguish Muslims from non-Muslims.It seemed both astounding and horrific that a piece of information could have saved a life. But why was this information not out there for all to know?In many parts of the world, including India, almost every non-Christian knows that Jesus’s mother was Mary and his father, Joseph; and of the story of Jesus’s birth and his crucifixion. Non-Hindus know that the Ramayana is about Rama and Sita and Rama’s battle against Ravana; that the Mahabharata is about the Kauravas and the Pandavas, that Krishna was an avatar of Vishnu. But even the most erudite among non-Islamic people know nothing about the Quran or what is in it.If you had asked me then what Prophet Muhammad’s mother’s name was, I would have stared back too, clueless.Acts of terrorism perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalists had already made many non-Muslims wary of the religion. And I thought this was grossly unfair to Islam and what it taught.No religion preaches hate or violence. However, flawed interpretations do lend a religion a misguided twist that it does not claim in the first place. Those with vested interests manipulate aspects of a religion to justify heinous crimes and the massacre of innocents. And so it had happened with Islam. And yet why was it that no one was actually trying to redeem the understanding of Islam? Why was no one willing to try and make Islam more accessible to the world so that the teachings in the Quran would be seen for what they truly are—a call to righteousness and peace—and not for what we have beguiled ourselves into believing?During the writing of Idris, I had studied the Quran and tried to understand what I could of its lessons and the associated Islamic fables. But now I had another purpose. I had already written two books on mythology for children. I would now try and write about Islamic lore—stories culled from the Quran and the Hadith. And I was certain that the book had to be for children—for young minds are what we need to invest in for a chance of change. Let children everywhere—Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Jain or otherwise—discover the stories from the Quran and delight in them and learn from them. Stories are, after all, stories; and no religion can stake claim to them.This is a book for young readers. But it is also a book for anyone who wonders what the Quran contains, apart from the teachings of a religion. In fact, al-Quran literally means ‘the reading’; and how can a work that means this most beautiful of phrases be limited to just being a scripture? The wealth of its stories, and the lyricism, poetry and flow of its narrative make it as much a literary text as a holy book.I have been told that I am entering dangerous territory. That, as a Hindu writing about the holy book of Islam, I’m inviting trouble. That to me smacks of prejudice more than anything else. How can any religion close its doors to someone who knows nothing of it? How does one learn about a religion unless one is given access to it?And that is my only act of faith here. To lead from ignorance to the beginnings of knowledge; from prejudice to comprehension; and to reaffirm, in these times that are wreaked with discrimination and terror, that all religions are the same. That all religions just strive to make of us better human beings. If only we would make an effort to understand their truth.PS: The name of Prophet Muhammad’s mother is Amina.

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