The Banglasahib Gurudwara and Sikh Ehibition

30 01 2008

THe Sikh population in India is just 2% and still their contribution to the Indian freedom strugle was huge. Acording to an estimate 86% of those sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle were sikh.

Hanged to death Sikh 93 Non sikh 28 Total 121

Life imprisonment Sikh 2147 non sikh 499 Total 2646

Martyrs of Jalian walabagh Sikh 799 Non sikh 501 Total 1300

Martyrs of Bajbajghat Sikh 67 Non sikh 46 Total 113

Martyrs of Kuka movement Sikh 91 non sikh — Total 91

Martyrs of Akali Movement Sikh 500 Non sikh — Total 500

Source and compilation:Dharam PraCHAR Committee Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee

Sri Sri inaugurates Exhibition on Sikhism

24 01 2008

Sri Sri inaugurates Exhibition on Sikhism

23rd January, 2008, New Delhi

Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar inaugurated an exhibition on Sikhism titled ‘Sikhs, the Defenders of Indian Dharma’ at Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, New Delhi.

Organized by FACT India, in cooperation with Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, the exhibition showcased the bravery, fearlessness and sacrifices of the Sikhs during the Mughal, British and post independence periods.

From Sri Guru Nanak Devji to Sri Guru Gobind Singhji and Sardar Bhagat Singh to the Kargil War, artistic renditions brought to life the numerous onslaughts braved by the Sikhs and their valiant contribution to the India that exists today.

The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee felicited His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, after which he addressed the gathering.

He spoke about the incomparable role Sikhs have played across the centuries and the service they have rendered to the nation. He also hailed the core essence of Sikhism that is glorious and all encompassing to this day. “The true spirit of Sikhism is in Sewa. It can be seen at all Gurudwaras where people from all walks of life can enter and all are fed freely, with no discrimination and no barriers”, He said.

Undeterred by the cold, people thronged in large numbers to the Gurudwara to be a part of this initiative.

FACT exhibition in Chennai: Aurangazeb as he was according to Moghul records

23 01 2008

Looking back at history: Aurangazeb Exhibition

23 01 2008

Looking back at history


New Delhi gets a peep into history through Francois Gautier’s exhibition.


PROJECTING HISTORY Francois Gautier against the backdrop of his exhibits.

Not often does an exhibition of Indian paintings serve a historical purpose. Hardly a painting exhibition in Delhi now has any recall value either. The only recent venture that comes to mind is Mahakranti, an insightful exhibition of 120 historical cartoons covering the period from 1855 to 1860. Mounted by Professor Pramila Sharma, it aimed at showing the conspiracy that triggered the 1857 Uprising. This exhibition, Pramila claims, was the first of its kind in the world. Also, in the last year, the city saw artist Veer Munshi’s much forgotten exhibition of paintings and installations depicting the pain of the uprooted Kashmiri Pandits and extremist activities in the Valley.

But of late, there has been an interesting turn of artistic events in the Capital. Some exhibitions are not only likely to raise a debate, but also have nostalgia value. One of them is Sabia’s works on the romantic side of Ghalib’s life. It just concluded at India Habitat Centre. And the next is an exhibition of watercolour works and drawings on “Aurangzeb, as he was, according to Moghul Records”. This exhibition now mounted at Open Palm Court from this Friday till coming Tuesday, is brought by famous French journalist and historian François Gautier. It highlights the cruel side of Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan’s sixth son.

If in one exhibit you see Shah Jahan being imprisoned by Aurangzeb, the other shows his son, Aurangzeb’s brother, prince Dara Shikoh being taken a prisoner while fleeing to Persia. Dara, said to be Shah Jahan’s favourite son, was imprisoned by Aurangzeb because he opposed his atrocities on the Hindus. The disgraceful burial of Shah Jahan on Aurangzeb’s command, the demolition of Hindu temples and so on are portrayed in other canvases. Banning of established Hindu schools and public worship, re-employment of Jaziya tax on the Hindus, Shivaji’s son Shambhaji’s execution, and his acceptance of “hard labour” that he put in to capture Shivaji, and much more form the other exhibits. All these works are accompanied with dates as sourced from various historic documents including Persian Maasir-i-Alamgiri.

Unknown painters

These works are made by some known and some unknown miniature artists from Jaipur including well-known artist Sumeendhra. Professor V.S. Bhatnagar of Jaipur University along with Gautier gave details of the events to the painters to bring alive the barbaric events.

The exhibition is the part of a two-year project under Gautier’s Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism – FACT, formed in Delhi in 2003. Through this exhibition, the works will travel across the globe. Gautier aims at “portraying Aurangzeb as a terrorist”.

Says Gautier, an Indophile living in India for 35 years and an expert in Indian history, “I don’t understand why Indians treat Aurangzeb as a noble man. Why do Indians refuse to accept history as it is?”

But at the same time, many agree that he has conveniently forgotten the good deeds of the emperor in the form of huge donations for temple building at Banaras and Allahabad. “Its authentic documents are in Banaras math. Also Pandit Vishwanath Pandey, former Governor of Orissa, saw authentic documents procured by Municipal Chairman of Allahabad,” says Bhatnagar. At the same time, he seems to care little about the religious frenzy India is known for.

Counters Gautier, “I had certain exhibits showing his good side too. But because of paucity of space I am not exhibiting them. People ask me why I am bringing alive the buried ghosts. Sometimes I fail to understand why I have done that. I am a Westerner and a non-Hindu. I just wish that it raises a healthy debate among the right thinking people.”

Sikhs: the defenders of Indian Dharma

9 01 2008

An Exhibition on “Sikhs: the defenders of Indian Dharma” will be inaugurated by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Delhi on 22nd January 2008. The exhibition shall be positioned at the Banglasaheb Gurudwara New Delhi and is a collection of paintings and compilation of facts and figures.

The exhibition is a combined effort of SGPC New Delhi and FACT. A preview of the exhibition can be seen at the FACT Online Exhibition

(Inauguration 22nd Jan 08, Bangla saheb Gurudwara New Delhi)

Sikhs: the defenders of Indian Dharma

9 01 2008

An Exhibition on “Sikhs: the defenders of Indian Dharma” will be inaugurated by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Delhi on 22nd January 2008. The exhibition shall be positioned at the Banglasaheb Gurudwara New Delhi and is a collection of paintings and compilation of facts and figures.

The exhibition is a combined effort of SGPC New Delhi and FACT. A preview of the exhibition can be seen at the FACT Online Exhibition

(Inauguration 22nd Jan 08, Bangla saheb Gurudwara New Delhi)

A new breed of missionary: Christian Science Monitor

9 01 2008

from the April 01, 2005 edition
See The original Piece at CSM

(Photograph) TRADITIONAL WAY: Students pray at the Catholic Mission School in Jhabua, India. Established churches like this one often focus their efforts on schools and hospitals.

A drive for conversions, not development, is stirring violent animosity in India.
Page 1 of 2
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Biju Verghese believes the end of the world is coming. This faith makes his work urgent: Convert as many Indians to Christianity as possible. Or, as he puts it, “reach the unreached at any cost.”

Mr. Verghese is a new breed of missionary, tied not to the mainline Protestant or Catholic churches that came with European colonizers but to expansionist evangelical movements in the US, Britain, and Australia. These newer Christians are now the most active here, swiftly winning over Indians like Verghese who in turn devote themselves to expanding the church’s reach, village by village.

Aside from an attraction to the Christian message, some converts welcome the chance to free themselves from a low-caste status within Hinduism. Some may adopt Christianity by simply adding it to their existing beliefs. To others, conversions are a positive statement that you can choose your religious identity rather than have it fixed at birth.

But the success of recent Christian missionaries and their methods of quick conversions have brought tensions with other religions, including some Christians who fear that certain evangelicals are contributing to a volatile – and at times violent – religious atmosphere. The new missionaries put an emphasis on speed, compelled sometimes by church quotas and a belief in the approach of the world’s end.

“Aggressive and unprincipled missionary work that exploits the distress and ignorance of marginalized groups … can constitute a catalyst to localized violence, particularly when they are brought into confrontation with other” creeds, says Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi.

Nationwide, India has a growing reputation for intolerance toward its religious minorities. The US Committee on International Religious Freedom listed India with 10 other nations of “particular concern” – a legacy of the months-long riots in Gujarat state, when nearly 1,000 Muslims were murdered by their Hindu neighbors.

Colonial legacy

Religions on the Indian subcontinent have jostled with each other for millenniums. Invaders spread Hinduism and Islam through conquest, followed by British Christians who hoped to create “brown Englishmen.” The Christian zeal for conversions ebbed in India after a nearly successful Indian rebellion in 1857 and a theological trend toward good works, such as improving education and healthcare.

Some evangelical Christian groups in India are continuing in that tradition. The Evangelical Hospital Association, for instance, has taken over the management of many of the hospitals of Northern India that were built by mainstream Christian churches during the British colonial period. Graham Staines, an evangelical missionary, was famous for his work with lepers in the state of Orissa, before he was murdered in 1999 by Hindu mobs. His wife, Gladys Staines, this week accepted India’s highest award for public service, for continuing this work.

Yet many of today’s missionaries are returning to practices of proselytizing that were long ago abandoned by the mainline missionaries because they were seen as offensive.

“The church [during British rule] sought actively to communicate the values of the Renaissance with its Christian message,” says Mr. Sahni. “And while conversion was a significant fact of the British period, the schools and other institutions set up by the missionaries were not primarily driven by the objective of conversion.”

In recent years, however, conversion activity has grown more intense, driven by the evangelical Christians funded from abroad, and Hindu nationalists. Both are targeting the same groups: impoverished Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables,” and adivasis, or tribal citizens, who have long practiced a religion predating Hinduism.

Nationwide, adivasis number nearly 67 million, or 8 percent of the nation’s population. But here in the district of Jhabua, they are more than 80 percent of the population. Adivasis are also among India’s poorest citizens, earning perhaps $4 per capita per month.

Amid Jhabua’s rolling hills and low huts of mud stand Christian churches built 100 years ago.

But the conversion work that some call “aggressive” takes place outside the traditional places of worship. Evangelical and Pentacostal missionaries go village to village, holding prayer meetings in homes or preaching outdoors to all the villagers together.

Speaking in tongues, miracles

These events often mix emotional messages of personal salvation, speaking in tongues, shaking in trances, and miraculous healings. Some people come for the spectacle; others take advantage of free food. After these performances, whole families, neighborhoods, and even villages are sometimes converted. The missionary leaders move on to the next village, leaving behind money – but sometimes little other support – for new church constructions and pastor salaries .

Verghese is pastor of the Beersheba Church of God in Jhabua. He shows a recent video CD, produced by Indian Evangelical Team (IET) leader P.G. Varghis, which makes it clear that conversion, not development, is the priority.

For Verghese and others who believe the Apocalypse could come at any moment, there is little time to carry out the kind of slow, development-oriented missionary work that mainstream churches focus on.

In the video, Mr. Varghis proudly mentions that the IET’s 1,775 missionaries “planted” 2,000 churches in India in just five years, and planned to reach a goal of 7,777 churches by the year 2010.

In recent years, North India has been a key region of focus by informal networks of Christian evangelical groups in the West, with some churches drawing up quotas for new churches built, gospel literature handed out, and new missionaries trained.

“Christians are being killed,” Varghis admitted in the video, “But we are dedicated to build North India for Christ.”

A call for dollars

The video, which is narrated in English and is apparently aimed at a Western audience, makes an emotional appeal for funds, noting that it costs $3,000 to $6,000 to build a church, a cost that is far beyond the means of the mainly tribal population that IET hopes to convert.

The differing approaches also came to light during recent tsunami relief efforts. A host of small Christian groups headed to India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka to distribute humanitarian aid along with Christian literature. Many faith-based aid groups, from the International Committee of the Red Cross to the American Jewish Foundation, avoid handing out such religious materials because of the potential to offend those who are of different faiths.

After the tsunami, the US National Council of Churches issued a statement warning against the practice by “New Missionaries” of mixing evangelism and aid. “Often lacking sophistication about the lure of gifts and money, and wanting to be generous with their resources, they easily fall prey to the charge of using unethical means to evangelize. This creates a backlash,” the February statement read.

“You get this guy out of Texas who has no idea of the local culture, he is out to win souls, and he comes with a lot of money,” says Bob Alter, former Presbyterian pastor born and raised in the Indian mountain town of Mussoorie, and former superintendent of a missionary institution, the Woodstock School.

The problem with these newer churches, Mr. Alter says, is the tone of their message. “You have Baptists using the Diwali festival [the Hindu festival of lights], but they come to ‘spread the light to those in darkness.’ That is mighty offensive stuff, when you’re out to tear down another religion.”

Anti-Christian violence in India, while rare, can be brutal. Mr. Staines was burned alive with his two young sons, when a mob, led by Hindu activist Dara Singh, set fire to his car in January 1999. Later that year, Hindu activists attacked and raped Roman Catholic nuns in several states, including Orissa, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh.

Christian missionaries in Gujarat have also faced numerous attacks, in a state where the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has taken the ethos of Hindutva (or Hinduness) to extremes. The US State Dept recently denied a visa to the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, to visit the US.

(Photograph) RELIGIOUS CROSSROADS: Hindu, Muslim, and Christian symbols are shown on this mural in Madras, India. The religiously diverse nation is 82 percent Hindu, 12 percent Muslim, and 2 percent Christian.

Discomfort among other Christians

In this charged atmosphere, mainstream Christian churches have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the tactics used by their more assertive brethren.

“Even the older Protestant churches are unhappy with the evangelicals,” says Bishop Chacko, head of the Roman Catholic diocese in Meghnagar in Jhabua district. “It is said that they are irresponsible. Consequences don’t matter to them. They put the fire and then they leave it to burn.”

In Jhabua, distrust of the Christian community led some Hindus to falsely assume Christian foul play in the murder of a 10-year-old Hindu girl named Sujata.

Her body was found Jan. 11, 2004, in the basement bathroom of the Roman Catholic Church’s Mission School in Jhabua, where nearly 2,500 students – most of them Hindus – attend. It was immediately apparent that the girl had been raped.

Police suspicion quickly turned toward the Catholic priests themselves, and several priests were held in police custody for 46 hours without being charged and without food or water, although no charges were ever placed.

Hindu activists mobilized

Two days later, after news of the murder began to circulate in local papers, Hindu activists began a campaign of agitation. One Hindu sadhu, or ascetic monk, planted himself in front of the church gates in protest. Thousands of Hindus joined him, some coming from neighboring towns and from as far away as Gujarat state.

Ram Shankar Chanchal Trivedi, a local schoolteacher and member of a Hindu nationalist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), says the brutality of the murder, and the appearance of Christian culpability, got local Hindus upset.

“She was a little girl who was brutally murdered, and people became emotional and aggressive; they couldn’t tolerate it,” says Mr. Trivedi sitting on a bed in simple middle-class home. He sighs. “People used to live happily here, but since the political leaders started taking advantage of the murder, it became a political issue.”

Now that police have arrested a young drifter – a Hindu from Indore – who admitted to killing Sujata, Trivedi says that the Jhabua riots are a closed matter. But the tensions between the Hindu and Christian communities remain.

The biggest problem, he says, is the new wave of Christian conversions, which offends many Hindus.

Adivasis are Hindus,” Trivedi says, using the Hindi word for tribal. “Tribal people are illiterate, they don’t know about religion. So Hindu people object because they are bothering tribal people who can’t defend themselves. The tribals can be tempted by money, they should not be exploited.”

He pauses. “It will become dangerous if conversion activity continues. It can be a big issue unless other churches don’t make it clear to these people that conversion must stop.”

For the Rev. Mahipul Bhuriya, a parish priest and a member of a major local tribe, the Bhils, there is danger from both the Hindu right and from the Christian evangelicals.

“I have been drawing a line between good churches that serve and bad churches that are only interested in conversion,” says Father Bhuriya. “I tell people, ‘I belong to a church that does not breed hatred,’ and my Hindu friends are beginning to understand.”

In his small Jhabua apartment, Verghese says that violence will not deter him from doing what he sees as God’s work.

He adds that RSS activists burned 25 houses in the town of Ali Rajpur in retaliation for the murder of Sujata, and 14 members of his church have been jailed, blamed for the shooting death of an RSS activist.

Far from being terrorized, Verghese says his followers have been strengthened by the riots.

“There is some fear, yes, but the believers have more fear of the Word of God,” he says, bouncing his 4-year-old daughter Praisey on his knee.

“There are some people who know very well that the moment Christian missionaries leave, their social development will stop. All the best schools, the best hospitals, are run by missionaries,” he says, referring to schools like the Catholic Mission School, built by older, mainstream churches.

“But there are also people who know very well that when the adivasis are better educated and have better lives, they cannot be exploited anymore,” Verghese says. “And that is the main reason for the violence against Christians.”

Hindu nationalist outreach

Many Christians agree that the Hindu reaction against Christian missionaries is more deeply rooted in economics than in religion.

Historically, higher-caste Hindus treated tribesmen as inferior, and reinforced this in their economic relations. Most tribal people were unable to own their own land, so they farmed land owned by Hindus. As illiterate sharecroppers, tribesmen were kept subservient. As worshipers of ancestors and animals, tribal people were seen as backward.

But in recent years, the RSS and other Hindu nationalist groups have begun to reach out to adivasis, partly to prevent their conversion to other faiths, and partly to expand their political bases.

Now, RSS activists distribute Hindu idols in tribal villages and teach adivasis how to worship during Hindu festivals such as Ganpati, the festival of Ganesh. Similarly, the RSS’s political ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has begun heavy recruitment of adivasis, an effort seen as crucial in winning state elections in Madhya Pradesh in December 2003.

Heavyweight political players like Narendra Modi of neighboring Gujarat state campaigned in Jhabua district, promising that a state BJP government would use Gujarat as a “Hindutva model” for its rule in Madhya Pradesh. BJP supporters say that he was referring to Modi’s strong economic record.

Critics saw something darker, the use of Hindu mobs to attack religious minorities, as occurred in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

Ajai Sahni says there is no short-term solution to the problem, as long as religious identity is a major tool for mobilizing Indian voters at election time, and as long as every major party uses religious fears and prejudices to organize their support.

“One measure that is needed, however, is a very harsh law to punish those who engage in communal violence,” says Mr. Sahni. “Such a law has long been overdue in India.”

(Photograph) COMMUNAL STRAIN: The Rev. Mahipal Bhuriya stands in front of a church that was stoned by Hindus after church members were falsely blamed for a murder.

Hindu Collective Initiative of North America and FACT

5 01 2008

Courtesy : India Post News Service

December 14, 15, 16 at the University of Central Florida

ORLANDO: A conference of Hindu leaders was held recently at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando by the Hindu Collective Initiative of North America, a collaborative body of Hindu organizations and temples across North America. The conference brought together more than one hundred eminent religious scholars, academicians, authors, intellectual thought leaders and activists from across the US and a number of delegates from the UK, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago.

The conference was hosted by the Hindu University of America The conference opened with a thought provoking discussion on the current situation in India where the central government, and state governments, while loudly proclaiming themselves as secular, exercises total control on Hindu temples, as though they are government properties.

This is even more egregious where the heads of the states and majority of legislators are Christians, communists, atheists, and/or avowed anti-Hindus. While almost universally unknown to the rest of the world, the Government of India ruthlessly tramples on the fundamental principles of separation of church and state, which is the corner stone of the secular form of government in every democratic nation in the world.

Even in non-democratic nations, for example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, no government controls the religious organizations or the places of worship the way Government of India controls Hindu temples.It was decided that a group of religious leaders, retired Supreme Court judges, as well as academic and legal experts, will hold a conference on the correct relationship between government and religion, in New Delhi next year, following which a petition will be filed against the Indian government for their illegal and immoral control over the management of Hindu temples and the illegal appropriation of their funds.

Alternative models of management were discussed including the option of a Hindu Devalaya Prabandhak Committee in every state that would manage the temples, just as Sikh Gurudwaras are managed by the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committees in Punjab. The HCINA general secretary, Dr Ved Prakash Chaudhary, asked, “What kind of secularism is this? Why are they taking control of only Hindu temples and siphoning off the money to the treasury?

Why they do not take over the management of a gurudwara, a mosque or a church? What kind of separation of church and state is that? We are unanimous that this is a most egregious situation that must be changed as soon as possible,” Chaudhary said. The Hindu community in the US has been protesting against the takeover of several temples in Andhra Pradesh. During the recent visit to the US, of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Reddy, protests were held at several major cities he visited.

It is well known that corrupt government officials and politicians abuse the funds collected in temples for their own personal use and that this is the main reason why government controls the management of wealthy Hindu temples.There was also extensive discussion and grave concern expressed about human rights abuses of Hindus all over the world, including in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. A graphic exhibition on Hindu human rights violations in Bangladesh and Kashmir, prepared by FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) and organized by Utsav Chakrabarti, was inaugurated by well-known Hindu philanthropist, Braham Aggarwal.

It was decided that Hindu watch dog organizations will monitor the situation very closely, disseminate information rapidly, seek alliances with human rights groups to keep pressure on the governments of these countries and keep this issue in the contemporary media spotlight.The Summit leaders expressed a sense of urgency that the Government of India should pay more attention to the human rights issues in Kashmir, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Malaysia – where the lives of hundreds of thousands of Hindus are involved.

“We will soon be approaching the Government of India with a proposal to protect these endangered Hindus,” Chaudhary said.The Summit also discussed issues affecting Hindus living in North America. A committee of academic experts will be formed to prepare supplementary materials for schools in the United States. The supplementary materials will be distributed to teachers, libraries and schools all over the US so that correct information is presented to students about Hinduism and Indian culture.

An important session on ‘Community Building and Infrastructure Development within Hindu organizations’ highlighted the need to develop sustainable social services connected with the temples, in a culturally and religiously sensitive manner. The temple support is essential as it is a sacred sanctuary and most secure place for a minority group.

The additional social services will bring completeness and affirm that God is with them.The need for a degree program integrating Vedic/holistic healthcare paradigm with the modern healthcare systems and setting standards for Hindu Chaplaincy was also discussed. A Masters program is needed on par with the Board Certified Chaplains of other religions already operative in schools, prisons, military, hospice and modern hospital facilities.

This would take the Vedic traditions beyond temples to reach out to the individuals and families who need support for their physical, mental and spiritual health.A session relating to youth issues such as inter-faith marriages, effects on family, progeny and culture and accepting western (non-born Hindus) as Hindus drew much interest. Another session focused on the USCIS proposed changes to the religious worker visas (the so called R1 visa) and the need for Hindu community maintaining liaison with government and elected officials.

The conference was attended by Paramacharya Palaniswami, editor-in-chief of Hinduism Today, Stephen Knapp, author of more than a dozen books on Hindus and Hinduism, Satnarayan Maharaj, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago, Chandresh Sharma, Member of Parliament, Trinidad and Tobago, Abhinav Dwivedi, Vice President of Hindu University of America, Janeshwari Devi, Director Public Relations, Barsana Dham, Frank Morales, a scholar in Hindu philosophy and Hindu Temple Acharya, and Jeffrey Armstrong, a Hindu Spiritual teacher, Vedic Astrologer and award-winning author from Canada.Prominent among others who attended the three-day meet were Bawa Jain, secretary general, World Council of Religious Leaders, Mihir Meghani, President of the Hindu American Foundation, Anju Bhargava, President of Asian Indian Women of America and a Community Builder Fellow (President Clinton’s White House initiative), Anuja Prashar, founder of “Transnational Indian Identity” from UK, Dr Piyush Agrawal, national co-coordinator USA of GOPIO; Hindu Students Council president Harsh Vellanki, and executive director Varun Mehta and professors Dr Balram Singh, Dr TS Rukmani, and Dr Siva Bajpai.

The mission of HCINA is to serve as a collective body of Hindu organizations in North America; to facilitate networking and collaboration to address issues of common concern and benefits and to coordinate collective initiatives to promote the understanding, practice and propagation of Hindu Dharma and culture through proper education and public policy. HCINA was formed more than two years ago in August 2005 at the first Dharma Summit held at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Kenya Riots and Human rights

3 01 2008

Kenya has nearly 100,000 Gujaratis, mostly businessmen, who’ve been there for generations. And as the country continues to be on the boil with people being killed, shops being looted and burnt, the Gujarati diaspora is on the edge.”We are highly concerned, anxiety has touched an all-time high. The poor Indians, mainly Gujaratis, who went there to earn some money doing odd jobs etc, need to be airlifted by Indian government, they want to come back home,” said Jitendra Patel, Businessman, Nairobi.

Many of the Gujaratis are in Kisumi, the town that is one of the worst affected by the clashes. There are reports that Gujarati businesses have been targeted and shops are being burned down. Many of the Indians have been holed up in temples for the past two days and are gradually running out of food.

The clashes, mostly between rival tribes, were triggered after Thursday’s disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

More than 300 people have been killed and an estimated 100,000 displaced during nearly one week of violent unrest following Kibaki’s victory.

Riot police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters on the streets of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The rally has been organised by opposition leader Raila Odinga to protest against the controversial re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. Odinga hopes to attract a million supporters to the rally, which has been banned by the government. As Bernard Smith reports for Al Jazeera, the streets of Nairobi are extremely tense, with fears of violent clashes between protesters and police. Additional reporting comes from Al Jazeera’s correspondent Mohammed Adow who was with the protestors in central Nairobi when they clashed with riot police

Expressing concern over attacks on Gujarati expatriates in Kenya and loss of property following major clashes after presidential elections in that country, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said he has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In his letter, Modi urged the prime minister to ensure their safety and to provide special arrangements to Indians who want to return.

बेनजीर और भारत : सांच को आंच क्या

1 01 2008

बेनजीर की हत्या के बाद भारतीय प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह ने कहा कि वह हमारे उपमहाद्वीप की प्रमुख नेता थीं, जिन्होंने भारत-पाक संबंधों को सुधारने का प्रयास किया। यह दुखद है कि तीन बच्चों की मां की निर्मम हत्या हुई। हम सभी दुखी हैं। इसके बावजूद सत्य सामने लाना होगा। प्रेस द्वारा कही गई बात हमेशा सच नहीं होती। कश्मीर में भारत विरोधी आतंकवाद भुट्टो के संरक्षण में ही पनपा। वहां हिंदुओं का सफाया करवाने में उनका हाथ था। ध्यान देने की बात है कि जिस जिस ने आतंकवाद को बढ़ावा दिया, वही उसका शिकार भी हुआ। नई दिल्ली स्थित इंस्टीट्यूट फार कांफ्लिक्ट मैनेजमेंट के इक्जिक्यूटिव डायरेक्टर अजय साहनी कहते हैं कि वह जिहाद को बढ़ावा देने की कड़ी थीं। उन्होंने खुलेआम उग्रवादियों को उकसाया। भारत से उनके संबंधों के बाबत एक भी सकारात्मक पहलू नहीं मिला है। वह कश्मीरी जनता को जगमोहन और फिर वहां के गवर्नर को टुकड़े-टुकड़े करने की राय दे रही थीं। बेनजीर की देखरेख में तालिबान बना और पाकिस्तान की इंटेलिजेंस सर्विस की मदद से अफगानिस्तान में फैला। बाद में लादेन को संरक्षण मिला। जिन्हें बेनजीर ने शह दी संभवत: उन्हीं लोगों ने उन्हें मार डाला। उन्होंने आणविक शक्ति का प्रयोग करने की धमकी देकर जानबूझ कर भारत-पाक के बीच तनाव बढ़ाया। यह माहौल तब जरूरत से ज्यादा बिगड़ गया जब उन्होंने अपने पिता जुल्फिकार भुट्टो की एक हजार वर्ष लंबी लड़ाई की बात को दुहराया। जवाब में तत्कालीन प्रधानमंत्री राजीव गांधी ने लोकसभा में उनकी बात का मजाक बनाया और कहा, जो लोग कुछ घंटे भी नहीं लड़ पाएंगे वे हजारों वर्ष की लड़ाई का दावा कर रहे हैं। अपनी मौत से ठीक पहले के भाषण में उन्होंने भारत को पाकिस्तान के लिए एक बड़ा खतरा बताया और कहा कि यदि वे सत्ता में आईं तो इस बाबत कड़ाई से निपटेंगी। मैंने बेनजीर भुट्टो का दो बार इंटरव्यू लिया। पिछली बार, जब वह दुबारा सत्ता में आने के लिए चुनाव प्रचार कर रही थी, मैंने पहला प्रश्न कश्मीर के बारे में किया। उन्होंने कहा कि आपको कश्मीर पर पाकिस्तानी नजरिया समझना पड़ेगा। यदि बंटवारे के आधार से हम देखें तो कश्मीर घाटी का जो मुस्लिम बाहुल्य क्षेत्र है वहां हिंदू पंडितों ने मुसलमानों का शोषण किया। उन्हें डराया,धमकाया और आज उन्हें हम उनका हक दिला रहे हैं। इस तरह कश्मीर पाकिस्तान के साथ होना चाहिए। क्या सिर्फ यही कारण है? बेनजीर ने कहा- नहीं, पाकिस्तान आज तक भारत के हाथों बांग्लादेश की शर्मनाक हार नहीं भुला पाया है। जिया का सत्ता में आना इस शर्मनाक पराजय का परिणाम था। मैंने पूछा, लेकिन जिया ने आपके पिता को फांसी दी। बेनजीर ने उत्तर दिया, हां मैं उनसे नफरत करती हूं और अल्लाह ने उसके लिए सजा दे दी है (जिया की हवाई दुर्घटना में मौत) लेकिन जिया ने एक काम सही किया। उन्होंने अलगाववादी ताकतों को कश्मीर और पंजाब में समर्थन देकर एक तरह का युद्ध शुरू कर दिया। इसका मुख्य उद्देश्य था भारत से बदला चुकाना। मैंने पूछा, पाकिस्तान के परमाणु बम का क्या हुआ? वह मेरे पिता का किया गया कार्य है, उन्होंने गर्व से कहा। उन्हें (पिता को) यह समझ 1965 और 1971 के युद्ध में हार के बाद आई कि हम रणनीति के तहत भारत को हरा नहीं सकते। इसलिए आणविक शक्ति की योजना शुरू हुई। लेकिन क्या यह खतरनाक हथियार नहीं है। यदि यह आपके देश के ही गलत ताकतों के हाथ चला गया तो? बेनजीर ने कहा- कोई खतरा नहीं। यह भारत को डराने के लिए ही नहीं बल्कि उसके आणविक शक्ति का मुंहतोड़ जवाब है और इस्लाम धर्म की रक्षा के लिए है। -फ्रांस्वां गाटियर

(लेखक फ्रांसीसी पत्रिका ला रेव्यू डे एल इंडे के प्रधान संपादक हैं)