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

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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.


‘Chandrayaan Mission a Complete Success October 5, 2009

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‘Techtree News Staff, Sep 29, 2009 1128 hrs IST

ISRO chairman says detection of water on the moon was one of the primary objectives

E-Mail Print   India’s Chandrayaan Mission, which was called off just last month owing to a communications failure, has been termed a complete success by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) chairman, G Madhavan Nair.

He was addressing media persons who were quizzing him regarding the “historic” discovery of water on the moon by NASAs (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a small instrument aboard the Chandrayaan. Apart from calling the discovery of water historic, he added that his earlier statement of the Chandrayaan completing 95 percent of its objectives can now be enhanced to 110 percent because the detection of water on the lunar surface was one of the primary objectives of the mission.

Madhavan said he was very proud of the fact that India was able to make such a significant contribution to science. “All over the world people are applauding the Chandrayaan’s achievement. The discovery of water on the moon has been acknowledged as a significant discovery. The main aim of the Chandrayaan1 mission has been achieved,” he added.  During Chandrayaan’s almost year-long rendezvous with the moon, it has been able to collect lots of data, which run into a few thousand Gigabytes, all of which are still in the process of being decoded. In fact, the data is so huge that scientists expect six months to three years before all of them are decoded.

To make things clearer for the layman, Madhavan said that the finding of water on the moon doesn’t imply that the moon is filled with lakes and ponds or there is water in the form of a drop. The detection of water is in fact in the form of embedded molecules on the surface and in the lunar rocks. While there are positive signs about the presence of water on the moon, scientists are still perplexed as to how it got there in the first place. A plausible explanation is the effect of asteroids and meteors that might have crashed onto the moon – all of which had some water content in them.

The project director of the Chandrayaan mission said in an interview that it would be possible that the discovery of water on the moon might not be the last of the achievements of the Chandrayaan mission. With thousands of gigabytes of data yet to be analyzed, who knows how many more surprises the mission will throw up!


Tendulkar’s ‘shell house’ designs a net hoax October 5, 2009

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Abhijit Dasgupta
Kolkata, September 16, 2009 

A Bengali topline daily in Kolkata flashed on its frontpage on Monday that global brand Mexican architect, Javier Senosian, was designing an organic weird shell house for Sachin Tendulkar bang in the middle of Mumbai and even carried photographs as “first images” of what was purportedly the master blaster’s TV room.

It was too good to be true and seemed outlandish though brilliant. The paper also said that the house, worth Rs 30 crores spread over 9000 sq feet, was being built on Carter Road in Mumbai and gave a host of reasons as to why Tendulkar was shifting.

The photographs kindled interest and a search on the net revealed hundreds of matches saying the same thing but what jarred was the look of the house, shaped like a snail with its snout out of the shell, which looked hopelessly out of place in Mumbai. It looked more weird and bizarre than imaginative. The Bengali newspaper also praised Tendulkar’s “great sense of imagination.” Incidentally, the report was written by a topline sports journalist who, it has always been thought, was close to Tendulkar and other international cricketers. Obviously, no one doubted the story.

This correspondent, however, rang up the Mexican designer in Mexico City after a look at his homepage showed photographs which had appeared on the net and thence in the Bengali newspaper but clearly said that the Nautilus House as it is called in Mexico City had no plans of replication anywhere else. The internet stories could be a fake.

It was early morning in Mexico and Senosian himself picked up the phone. First, he hardly knew English. Second, he was rudely jolted early in the morning by a name as unfamiliar as Tendulkar and this correspondent had to spell it out for him. “No, no…what is cricket? I have never been to India and this is nothing concerning me, “he spluttered.” 

Who is Senor Tendulkar?” he asked incredulously.

Later he sent India Today an email which reads simply: “Your query about the Shell House is accepted. That’s not true, this house is not in Mumbai, India, and Sachin Tendulkar is not the owner of this house. The house is in Mexico City and Javier Senosian, Mexican architect, has designed and built it here in Mexico. He has never been to India. I have a house like a shell but we call it Nautilus House, and I don’t have any work in India.”

Beer-drinking Muslim woman’s caning to go ahead October 5, 2009

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Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, September 29, 2009

A Muslim woman sentenced to be caned for drinking beer wants to quickly get the punishment over with now that it has been confirmed by an Islamic appeals court judge, her father said on Tuesday.

If the punishment is carried out, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, would become the first Muslim woman to be caned in Malaysia, where about 60 per cent of the 28 million people are Muslims.

The case has ignited a debate in this moderate Muslim-majority country whether conservative Islamists, who advocate harsh punishments, are gaining influence over the justice system and whether Islamic laws should intrude into people’s private lives. According to local media reports Monday, chief Judge Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman of Pahang state’s Shariah courts decided to uphold the sentence passed by the state high court on Kartika after a one-month review of the case.

No date was immediately set for the caning. Kartika’s father, Shukarno Abdul Muttlib, 60, told The Associated Press that while the family had yet to be informed of the judge’s latest decision, his daughter “accepts the punishment” and would like it to be carried out sooner rather than later. “We obey the law,” he said, adding that “it’s a challenge … (but) it’s the way of my life.”

Pahang court and religious department officials declined to talk about the case Tuesday. Others could not immediately be reached.

Kartika, a former model and nurse, was sentenced in July to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for drinking beer in December 2007 at a beach resort in violation of Islamic laws.

Islam prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol. Kartika, who pleaded guilty, refused to appeal her sentence and was on the verge of being caned on August 24. But the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists.

Instead, the government asked the Shariah High Court Appeals Panel in Kuantan, the capital of Pahang, to review the verdict. Judge Abdul Hamid, who headed the panel, ruled that the sentence was correct and should stay.

The caning would be done with a thin stick on the back and would be largely symbolic rather than aimed at causing pain, unlike the caning of rapists and drug smugglers with a thick rattan stick on bare buttocks that causes the skin to break and leave scars. Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system. Shariah laws apply to Muslims in all personal matters. Non-Muslims, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and other minorities are covered by civil laws, and are free to drink.

Only three states in Malaysia — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan — impose caning for drinking alcohol. In the other 10 states it is punishable by a fine.


Kerala Dalit group under scanner: police October 5, 2009

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Indo-Asian News Service
Kochi, September 29, 2009

The Kerala police are looking into the activities of a Dalit organisation after two of its key leaders were arrested in a murder case, an official said in Kochi on Monday.

Speaking about the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM), Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose told reporters in Kochi, “We know of this organization but we have to probe whether they have any terror links.” Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy criticised the police for not doing enough to curb the activities of DHRM.

He was speaking to reporters in Thiruvananthapuram after visiting the house of Sivaprasad, a resident of Varkala who was brutally murdered allegedly by a DHRM activist last Wednesday.

DHRM has a strong base in Varkala, especially among the numerous colonies where Dalits live.

“It is unfortunate that the Kerala home department failed to find out the activities of the DHRM. Even though there have been increased reports of DHRM taking to violence, the police failed to act. At the same time, one should not brand all Dalits in this manner,” said Chandy.

Two activists of the DHRM arrested on Sunday were remanded in judicial custody on Monday. Those arrested include Ashokan, an advocate, and Das – both key leaders of DHRM.

Meanwhile, Sasi, a resident of one of the colonies where DHRM has a strong presence, told reporters that while his close relatives had joined the DHRM, he had not.

“Since I refused to join them, I was badly beaten up by my own brother, though we never had any enmity before,” said Sasi, who ekes out a living doing odd jobs. Another person from the same place said the activities of DHRM are quite strange.

“The members of this group, even if they belong to the same family, address each other in a different manner. Their ideology too sounded strange and was not acceptable to me and I stayed away,” said the person.

Kumari was in tears as she recounted to reporters how her son was brutally beaten up by members of DHRM after he refused to join them.


19 September – Rajiv Goswami Balidan Divas October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations.
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If we remember the term Anti-Reservation, we also remember Rajiv Goswami. I think his saga is best explained in these words of an author:

The students did everything to attract the attention of the conscious sections of society to the perceived wrong done to them by a callous political establishment glued only to its votal interests. But no one was looking at them; they shouted and cried but no one was listening. For the entire adult world of intelligentsia and intellectuals, the countrywide youth protest was a non-evening, not more than a minor fracas in a football match. The total apathy and all round silence was turning the students’ rage into consuming flames.

It happened literally on September 19, 1990 when Rajiv Goswami, a student of Delhi University, doused himself with petrol and set his body afire in front of his college. This single event set the hyper-sensitive youth on the fringe of alienation, aflame all over the country. Protest suicides by the young, including school children, through self-immolation or otherwise spread like a raging virus in wide areas throughout the country, taking a toll of around a hundred tender lives between September and November 1990.

Ref: Page: 88, India: Twilight at Midday (Untold Story of a Sick Society), By: Shashi B. Sahai, Gyan Publication House, New Delhi. ISBN: 81-212-0532-8

After self-immolation, Rajiv Goswani remained sick and ultimately died many years afterwards without any name and fame.

We will always remember his sacrifice. Rajiv Goswami still represents the burning passion in Indian Youth which tries to make changes in our nation – fighting the corrupt and divisive caste based politics.

Govt looks to ensure Muslims, Christians don’t get into SC list October 5, 2009

Posted by reader111 in Caste Reservations, Hindu Rights Register.
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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 9 October 2008, 04:43am IST

NEW DELHI: The proposal to give Scheduled Caste status to a child with either parents as Dalit has taken a curious turn, with the Centre making changes to ensure that it does not give a backdoor entry to Christians and Muslims into the SC list which is restricted to Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

Social justice ministry has revived the proposal by which it plans to make a child eligible for SC status if either the mother or father are SC. It seeks to undo a Supreme Court ruling that caste in Indian context flows from the father, clarifying that child of a non-Dalit father cannot be a Dalit.

After hanging fire for over two years, during which it attracted opposition from different quarters including National Commission for SCs, the ministry has modified the proposal with a small twist of real consequence.

The earlier draft merely said “the child born of inter-caste marriage shall be taken as belonging to SC if either of the parents belong to that community”. It has now been modified to include that “if either of the parent belong to such a caste (SC) and the other parent belongs to neither SC nor ST but professes one of the religions which a person belonging to SC may profess”.

The fresh move means that SC status to children from mixed parentage would require the non-Dalit parent to be either Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh. Only the followers of these three faiths are eligible for SC status.

The change, sources said, is to accommodate concerns over the proposal. It was feared that if SC status was made available to a child from mixed parentage, it could undo the religion barrier put on being a Dalit. While Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam have been demanding that SC category be extended to them, the Centre has found it too sensitive to handle. It was feared that Hindutva outfits would oppose the move as they have been arguing that making Dalit status religion-neutral would encourage conversions.

If a child with either parent as Dalit was given SC status without a bar of religion, it would be tantamount to encouraging the same, it was argued. The sensitivity of Dalit status for converts can be gauged from the fact that UPA government has it on the backburner after having set up Rangnath Mishra commission to examine it and having got a favourable recommendation.


Legality of raising creamy layer bar questioned in SC October 5, 2009

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Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 15 October 2008, 04:02am IST

NEW DELHI: Educationist P V Indiresan on Tuesday threw an open challenge in the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the UPA government’s 
recent decision to raise the creamy layer income limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh for OBCs.

But, the government told the apex court that it had done a reasonable job by fixing the creamy layer exclusion income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh at a time when many elected representatives had demanded raising it to Rs 25 lakh.

Appearing for Indiresan, who had challenged the 27% OBC quota in Central educational institutions, senior
advocate K K Venugopal told a 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that it was an election-eve vote bank politics to appease the rich among the OBCs, who could now gobble up the seats meant for the poorest among the backward.

“You file a separate petition if you want to challenge the Centre’s decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

While agreeing to file a separate petition, Venugopal pointed out that on February 23, 2007, the apex court had quashed a Kerala government decision to raise the creamy layer income limit to Rs 3 lakh terming it too high. The court had felt that those having Rs 3 lakh income could not be termed poor or backward, he said.

“Has the inflation rate touched more than 80% for the Central government now to decide the income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh when just a year back the apex court had turned down Rs 3 lakh limit as unreasonable?” Venugopal asked.

This is intended to widen the OBC net and allow the rich and influential among the backward classes to grab the seats meant for the poorest among them, he said. Disgreeing with him, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the government had fixed the income limit for exclusion of creamy layer at Rs 4.5 lakh after a lot of deliberations.

Venugopal said during the arguments on the legality of 27% OBC quota, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam had submitted figures indicating that 97.5% of the OBC population had a daily income of less than Rs 80.


Mandal’s angry young face was fading, now gone October 5, 2009

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Posted: Feb 25, 2004 at 0000 hrs

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 24 That one act at self-immolation made him the urban face of the anti-Mandal agitation. But Rajeev Goswami, who slipped into oblivion once Mandal became mainstream and was appropriated by even parties which opposed its implementation by the V P Singh government, had very few mourning for him when he died today at age 33.

Only his old mates from Deshbandhu — he set himself ablaze outside this South Delhi college — and relatives came calling at the two-bedroom flat in Kalkaji Extension to mourn for Rajeev. Leaders who had milked dry the anti-Mandal agitation were nowhere to be seen.

You could only hear the muffled sobs of the aged — his parents had flown down from the US a week ago — and the laughter of Rajeev’s two children — Simran (5) and Aditya, just a year-old — who had no idea that father was gone, succumbing to kidney complications at the Holy Family Hospital where he had checked in earlier this month.

Wife Aarti passed out when they broke the news to her.

On February 22, when they saw their son after three years, Madan Goswami (70) and Nandrani Goswami (62) thought it would all work out. Rajeev had phoned Michigan to tell them to fly home. ‘‘He complained of stomach problems but sounded very happy. He said his health was not a problem. We never expected this to happen. He told us that things would be fine if we came home to see him,’’ recalled Rajeev’s father. Mother Nandrani has no idea how Simran and Aditya will react when they realise their father’s gone: ‘‘He was too young to go. His children don’t even know about his death.’’ Madan Goswami still defends his son’s immolation act: ‘‘I stood by him during the Mandal crisis. Not for a moment did I think that he did anything wrong by immolating himself. The situation and the times demanded it. He did what was required.’’

Rajeev’s college mate Kuldip Mehta — he runs a shoe business in the neighbourhood — said: ‘‘Politics did not fascinate him. Which is why he never aspired for a political career. He believed in helping out people.’’

Vikas Mudgal, also from Rajeev’s batch at Deshbandhu, dittoed Kuldip: ‘‘The fact that nothing came out of the whole struggle against reservations bothered him a great deal. He wouldn’t speak much about it but it ate his insides, added to his misery. That’s why he died so early.’’ Of late, these friends from college hadn’t kept in regular touch. Rajeev too had immersed himself in his brother-in-law’s paint business and had little contact with old friends. But what’s also true is that he dropped off the radar a long time ago. Once the anti-Mandal agitation had lived its utility.