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Hindu girl forced to convert to Islam April 24, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Hindu Rights Register, Uncategorized.
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Posted: Apr 23, 2010 at 1755 hrs IST


A Hindu girl from Punjab province was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and is currently being held in a madrassa, leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney said today.

Burney said his rights organisation, the Ansar Burney Trust International, had learnt that 15-year-old Gajri, the daughter of Mengha Ram, was abducted by a Muslim neighbour from her home at Katchi Mandi, Liaquatpur, in Rahim Yar Khan district on December 21, 2009.

Gajri’s parents later found out that she was beingheld captive in a madrassa or seminary in southern Punjab and that she had been married and converted to Islam, Burney said.

The local administration is “refusing to respond to the abduction” of the girl, who is not being allowed to leave the madrassa or to speak to her parents, he said.

Burney, a former human rights minister, condemned the forceful conversion of the Hindu girl and demanded her immediate release.

“Pakistan is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which oblige authorities to protect religious minorities under international law,” he said.

According to Ansar Burney Trust, on 21 December 2009 Gajri disappeared from the home of her Hindu parents in southern Punjab.

On December 26 last year, the local police station in Gajri’s hometown received a letter with an affidavit from madrassa that said she had “embraced Islam and had married her neighbour Mohammad Salim”, Burney said. The letter did not enclose a marriage certificate, he said.

Police did not immediately inform Gajri’s parents about the letter even though they had tried to file a First Information Report after she had gone missing. The parents were discouraged from doing so by police, Burney said.

Mengha Ram and his wife then contacted the vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony, Ramesh Jay Pal. With his help, the parents met the priest in charge of Darul-Uloom Madrassa in Khanpur, Maulana Abdul Hafeez. Hafeez reportedly told the parents that Gajri had “embraced Islam and was not allowed to meet her parents”.

In January this year, the parents of Gajri again tried to file a case of abduction against their neighbour and the madrassa but their application was refused by district police chief Imtiaz Gul. He allegedly told them that he had no power to intervene in matters of religious conversion and that their daughter was now the “property of the madrassa”, Burney said.

Burney said Gajri is a minor and “cannot arbitrarily be removed from the custody of her parents”. He urged President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer to intervene to ensure Gajri’s released.



Rigid societies are still against mixed marriages February 2, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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New Delhi: India seems to be shedding off its caste prejudice when it comes to tying the knot. Though exact figures for 2010 have still not come in, estimates put it at 5,862 across the country, showing that the trend is still on the upswing.

The touch of caution, however, seems to be in place. According to data, traditionally rigid societies are still holding out, while those with reformed movements seem to have embraced the change. Social justice ministry of Mukul Wasnik gives an incentive of Rs 50,000 to each such couple. The tally, however, only registers those who come forward to claim the incentive.

Hopefully there are more.

Kerala and Karnataka have also registered good absolute numbers at 996 and 600 in 2009 and promise to repeat the show.

Haryana, for all its ‘khap panchayats’ and honour killings, seems to do well with 94 marriages in 2009, 129 in 2008 and an estimated 80 in 2010. The same applies to MP with 199 in 2009, 117 in 2008 and 95 in 2007. In sharp contrast, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Punjab and West Bengal seem unaffected by the winds of change.

The data also underlines a frozen social reality. Experts say Gujarat and Uttarakhand are known to be strong hierarchical societies and absence of marriages between SCs and non-SCs may reflect a political attitude.

Pradeep Tamta, MP from Almora reserved seat in Uttarakhand, said, “Even if there are mixed marriages, the government does not want to be seen as incentivising or promoting them. It is politically fraught.’’

This may be true for Gujarat too. Experts say it is impossible that mixed marriages don’t happen. “Maybe, people are scared of the publicity for fear of a caste backlash,’’ said Vivek Kumar. Importantly, the high rate of inter-caste marriages in South may still not include upper castes as part of this change. The 1911 caste census of Madras Presidency put upper castes at 2%, which may mean that most marriages are among OBCs and SCs.

Real “castelessness’’ is still a long way off. Experts say that “hypergamy’’ (male from Dwija castes) has religious sanction while “hypogamy’’ (woman from upper castes) would mean the real breaking away from stratification.

Bengal, on the other hand, is the unknown entity vis-a-vis inter-caste tie-ups. The communist system, with no belief in caste, records no figures. But this bit of progressive culture could be hiding a disturbingly static society.

Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date:2010 Feb 01; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1

Maharashtra tops inter-caste marriages with Dalits February 2, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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Subodh Ghildiyal & Swati Mathur I TNN

New Delhi: The figures may be more impressive than they appear at first glance going by the depth of caste divide in the country. India saw 4,750 inter-caste marriages, involving Dalits, in 2008-09, while the number was slightly lower at 4,205 in 2007-08. In 2006-07, the count stood at 3,945.

Though absolute figures for 2010 are awaited, the estimates from states have put it at 5,862, showing that the upward trend has not slackened. These are no mean numbers, given how entrenched caste prejudice is in society where marriage still remains a largely insulated institution.

Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra lead the chart, registering around 1,000 for three years. In 2010, Maharashtra promises to double its figures to 2,214. Experts may caution against premature celebrations and counsel deeper investigation, but the numbers point at a trend that is perhaps gathering momentum.

Moreover, the fact that the couples in these alliances have stepped forward to document their marriages speaks volumes of the cast-iron social compartments loosening. After all, it was Bhimrao Ambedkar who advocated “intermixing of blood’’ as a way to reduce caste animosity.

The devil, however, may be in the detail. Vivek Kumar, sociologist in JNU who tracks Dalit trends, says, “The numbers are impressive for sure. But you have to scratch the surface to see how many such ties are between OBCs and SCs. Also, in SC-upper caste marriages, one has to find out how many of the women are from the upper castes.’’

Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date:2010 Feb 01; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1

Maharashtra govt to give Rs 50,000 for inter-caste marriage February 2, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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Jan-12-10 10:02pm
Those couple opting for inter-caste marriage will be gifted Rs 50,000 by Maharashtra Government.

This decision was taken by state cabinet on Tuesday,with the view to abolish caste system in the state by encouraging inter-caste marriages, an official from CMO said. Earlier, the amount was Rs 15,000, he added.

The government would give a cheque of Rs 20,000 and invest Rs 25,000 in postal savings scheme, Indira Vikas Patra, in the name of the couple. The remaining amount would be given in form of marriage expenditure or household things, the official said.

The government has been implementing the scheme from 1958 and 50 per cent of the fund is given by the Centre.


Legal push lets women into EU boardrooms January 29, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Women Rights.
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Nicola Clark, NYT News Service, 29 January 2010
OSLO: Arni Hole remembers the shock wave that went through Norway’s business community in 2002 when the country’s trade and industry minister, Ansgar Gabrielsen, proposed a law requiring that 40% of all company board members be women.

“There were, literally, screams,” said Hole, director general of the equality ministry. “It was a real shock treatment.” Even in this staunchly egalitarian society — 80% of Norwegian women work outside the home, and half the current government’s ministers are female — the idea seemed radical, if not for its goal, then for the sheer magnitude of change it would require.

Back then, Norwegian women held 7% of private-sector board seats; just under 5% of chief executives were women. After months of heated debate, the measure was approved by a significant majority in Parliament, giving state-owned companies until 2006 to comply and publicly listed companies until 2008.

Eight years on, share of female directors at roughly 400 companies affected is above 40%, while women fill over a quarter of the board seats at the 65 largest privately held companies. To many feminists, this is the boldest move anywhere to breach one of the most durable barriers to gender equality.

Indeed, the world has noticed: Spain and the Netherlands have passed similar laws, with a 2015 deadline for compliance. The French senate will soon debate a bill phasing in a female quota by 2016, after the National Assembly approved the measure last week. Belgium, Britain, Germany and Sweden are the countries considering legislation.

Still, questions remain about whether boardroom quotas can address other hurdles to female advancement.

A 2007 McKinsey study of the largest European companies found that those with at least three women on their executive committees significantly outperformed their sector in terms of average return on equity by about 10%; operating profit was nearly twice as high.

The study stopped short of attributing this performance to a “critical mass” of women but found that companies with pronounced gender diversity at the top tended to rank highly in terms of management quality and organization.

But economists say link between performance and women on boards is less clear. The boards primarily monitor and advise executives and top managers, who are still mostly men.


Gospel for Asia – Attacking Hinduism January 22, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Religious Conversions.
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Gospel for Asia (GFA) is one of the largest missions organisations in the world, involved in evangelism and church planting in the unreached regions of Asia in the 10/40 window and is supporting more than 17,500 native missionaries at the moment. GFA is planting 17 churches and fellowships every day.

The ministry was birthed in 1979 by Br KP Yohannan.  Since 1992, GFA has discipled and baptised more than 3,100,000 believers, planted over 39,150 churches throughout Asia, and established 67 Bible colleges with 9,500 students enrolled.


Gospel for Asia (GFA) is reaching out to the 300 million ‘Dalits’ and 400 million other backward caste peoples of Asia.

In 2008/09 GFA reports that 572,339 primarily Dalits and OBC’s (other backward cast) were saved, baptised and going through discipleship courses.

Reference: http://eternity.biz/news/meet_lakshmi_a_dalit_girl_and_the_story_of_a_indian_church_planter/1001171718/

Saxon Vocalist Wants Metal To Be Recognized As Religion January 22, 2010

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Saxon vocalist Biff Byford is figure-heading a campaign to get heavy metal recognised as a religion in the UK.

Byford has teamed up with Metal Hammer Magazine for a campaign urging British rock fans to adopt heavy metal as their “religion” ahead of the 2011 census.

At the last census nine years ago, 390,127 people in England & Wales and a further 14,052 in Scotland stated “Jedi” as their religion thanks to a massive internet campaign.

It was ultimately ranked as the fourth most popular religion in the UK behind Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

In 2011, it may be heavy metal’s turn.

Metal Hammer editor Alexander Milas told Gigwise: “Ever since Black Sabbath made their debut 40 years ago heavy metal has grown to become one of the UK’s most significant cultural institutions, and a global phenomenon. Hell, if the Jedi can do it, why can’t metalheads? The force is strong in us.”

Biff Byford added: “Getting heavy metal recognised as a religion is a great bit of rebellion, isn’t it? This really is going to be a very cool thing.”


The deepest cut of all January 8, 2010

Posted by reader111 in Women Rights.
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Preeti Singh, Hindustan Times. First Published: 21:50 IST(7/1/2010)

How often, in the recent past, have you opened your morning newspaper and been confronted with the smiling image of a pretty bride, only to realise that the girl in the picture has taken her own life following ‘harassment’ or ‘abuse’ in her marital home? And how many times can you recall the girl’s parents filing a criminal complaint against the husband and/or in-laws, citing extreme mental or physical abuse, while belligerently stating that she had ‘repeatedly told them about it’.

My question to such parents is: if she had, then what did you do about it while she was alive; and now that she’s gone, what the hell kind of difference does it make?

India has various laws to protect women from marital abuse, some of which have been strengthened to the extent that they, according to defendants, border on draconian while being unfairly tilted in favour of the woman. So while the controversial Section 498A may make many an innocent mother-in-law shiver at the thought of a cold jail cell, inspire poor-husband-in-the-dock support groups by the dozen or make judges re-think the sweeping powers granted to a woman’s word, the truth is it exists. And it works. But certain more serious crimes of omission continue to fall through the cracks, because no separate law exists to address them. For example, rarely has a dowry-death related judgement been imaginative enough to take note of gross parental neglect.

Take the recent case of a girl who jumped off the deck of a cruise ship last week, after allegedly being beaten mercilessly by her husband. This, after the family claimed to have prior knowledge of her being beaten so badly that she had to quit her job due to a dislocated jaw. We may never know the whole truth in such a case but the idea that any parent would allow their child to knowingly suffer such abuse is not just shocking but, quite simply, criminal.

The Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2006 has broadened the scope of abuse, both in and out of wedlock, to include sexual, verbal/emotional and economic violence, apart from the more obvious physical abuse. Emotional abuse may sometimes be difficult to pin down convincingly. Not so with physical cruelty. What’s more, any man who raises his hand to subdue or intimidate his spouse or to end an argument — even once — will never stop. No matter what. And those who ask their daughters or daughters-in-law to ‘kindly adjust’ should know that provocation is a shifting goal post; and each time we let a shove or a thwack go unprotested or unpunished, we lower the threshold of tolerance.

What’s most distressing, and even inexplicably macabre, is the fact that, in many cases, it is the woman’s parents who compel her to withdraw a complaint or return to an abusive marital home. Reasons vary. Sometimes its just plain economics; with resources stretched to breaking point, an additional financial burden may threaten to break the backs of some. But it is that other reason — the unwillingness to stand up against so-called ‘societal’ pressures — that must be treated as criminal negligence on the part of those who choose not to respond to their child’s cry for help.

Every time a girl tells her parents that she is being physically or mentally ill-treated — whether or not she bears the visible scars of such abuse — and is told to ‘compromise’ and ‘hang in there’ till things get ‘better’, a crime is committed. And if, then, she takes her own life, her parents must not be absolved of all culpability. They should not be allowed to palm off the tragedy and loss of life on a ‘cruel’ husband or in-laws alone. As silent witnesses to their child’s growing despair, they are as much an accessory to a crime as those who are guilty of physical or mental torture.

So, every time a harassed wife/daughter-in-law takes her own life, it’s because someone failed —or chose not to — listen, signifying the closure of a trusted avenue of redress. Sometimes all it takes to avert a tragedy is to refuse to cover up the ugliness. And all those who ignore the obvious, for fear of what people might say, should know that their child might not be there to hear it.


Vedic wedding in city for US-born couples October 6, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Hinduism Thrives.
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Viju B, TNN 6 October 2009, 04:11am IST

MUMBAI: Amy Pearce blushed into her pallu as Rohini Kumar, parikarmi (master of ceremonies), chanted a Sanskrit mantra and then translated it into 
English: “This means you will have to take good care of all your cows.’’ He then added helpfully: “Hope you have many cows in your backyard.’’

Pearce sat cross-legged besides her 6-foot, 4-inch bridegroom, Mark Terza, a physiotherapist-turned-yoga fanatic, blinking as the thick havan smoke enveloped the hall. But they weren’t the only Americans getting hitched in desi style in Mumbai. Beside them sat yet another couple—New York-based builder T J Macchiaroli and Melinda Pizzano, who runs a flourishing upcountry spa in Putnam County in New York.

The couples garlanded each other amidst Vedic chants at the Radha Gopinath Temple at Chowpatty on Monday morning. The guests of honour were 14 other yoga enthusiasts, also from the US of A, brought to India on a whirlwind 13-day spiritual tour by group leader Reghunath. “This is a historic first for Mumbai. Although we’ve had many such Vedic weddings for Indian couples in the past, this is the first time two American couples have decided to take the plunge into Indian culture together. And it all began after they started doing yoga,’’ Radha Gopinath Temple founder Radhanath Swami said.

Pearce and Terza had decided to get married in India after they met two years ago. And, while doing that, they affirmed that yoga was the “organic thread’’ that united them. “She was my yoga guru and I fell in love with my guru. I hope that is okay,’’ Terza, now a partner in his wife’s yoga school in New York, said laughingly.

They aren’t the flower children of the 1970s or the 1980s. “We don’t do drugs, we don’t drink and we don’t touch alcohol. Neither are we into Floyd or Dylan. We, follow, instead, the scientific principle of living that is mentioned in Patanjali’s Yogasutra,’’ guru Pearce explained. Macchiaroli and Melinda, on the other hand, knew each other from school but “both of us went our separate ways till I came back to learn yoga from her’’ says the bridegroom.

Swami even made a small speech at the wedding, explaining that even Mahatma Gandhi had problems in his marriage. “But everything great does not come easy. You can easily have a one-night stand. But if a marriage has to survive, it needs to be based on a higher principle,’’ he said.

Yoga, according to him, unites people’s souls. “The Americans are now slowly moving towards the next step, that is understanding Indian spirituality and culture through yoga,’’ he said.

The group travelled to pilgrimage destinations like Haridwar, Devaprayag and Vrindavan, took a holy dip in the Ganga and even interacted with “spiritual masters’’ in the Himalayas for this initiation. “The greatest experience I had in my life was at Devaprayag, where we prayed into the twilight chanting Hare Krishna. I understood then what yoga really meant—the union of myself with the cosmic soul,’’ Ameliese Savchak, an HR manager with Pepsico and a yoga practitioner for the last three years, said.


UP to reward inter-religion, inter-caste marriages October 5, 2009

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PTI 5 October 2009, 05:32pm IST

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh government will give cash incentive and interest-free loan to couples opting for inter-caste or inter-religion

marriages to set up cottage industries, a national integration departemnt spokesman said here on Monday.

“On application, such couples may get interest-free loan of upto Rs 15,000 subject to approval by the district industries centre,” he


The loan sanctioned will be payable after a period of two years in 10 equal half-yearly installments.

“Such couples will also get a cash reward of Rs 10,000 and a medal,” the spokesman said.