Vol. XIII No. 20 January 16-31, 2012 l Published from Delhi Post Box No : 10708, Delhi-110085
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Economic Growth without justice The recent report in the national dailies of the many shivering in the severe cold under the open sky and two night shelters in Delhi in this harsh winter closed for repairs is a reflection, in a small measure, as to how we care for the poor. The lot of the shelter-less, ill-clad sick, aged and children mercilessly exposed to the cold winter nights in the city should awaken the conscience of this nation. Right at the gates of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, hundreds are seen sleeping in the open along with their patients they had brought along from far away places in Bihar and UP. Among them are heart patients and victims of chronic illnesses who could not get admission to the hospital. Not only malnutrition of a vast majority of children but also the conditions in which people—men, women and children—live in the numerous slums in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai even after more than six decades of independence tell of apathy and gross injustice, besides poor governance. Misappropriation: Recent disclosures about misappropriation of thousands of crores allotted for the benefit of poor women of UP by the Centre under the National Rural Health Scheme and the murder of three medical officers in the context of the scam is just one example of the callousness of bureaucracy and the political class to the plight of the poor. It is tragic that while funds and schemes exist for improving the lot of the underprivileged, there is no proper mechanism to ensure that the services are
delivered to the intended bene-ficiaries. Until corruption at all levels are tackled, the fruits of progress will not reach the poor. The recent upheaval by civil society in this nation succeeded in warning the elected representatives and bureaucracy against their continued complacence towards the vital issues of poverty and growing inequality. Unfortunately the campaign against corruption itself got corrupted because of want of integrity in those leading the campaign. However a wake up call has been delivered. The campaign did cause ripples throughout the
42 per cent of Indian children are underweight
"Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high" said the Indian prime minister Jan 11, 2012 (The Hindu): A new study based on a survey of the height and weight of more than one lakh children across six States has found that as many as 42 per cent of under-fives are severely or moderately underweight and that 59 per cent of them suffer from moderate to severe stunting, meaning their height is much lower than the median height-for-age of the reference population. The findings – contained in the Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) report by the Naandi Foundation – were described by
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “national shame” at a release function here on Tuesday. Despite impressive growth in India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years, the level of under-nutrition is unacceptably high, he said. With the government already under attack for drafting a weak food security Bill, the latest anthropometric confirmation ofthe link between poverty, food insecurity and nutrition is likely to increase pressure on the UPA to be more generous with the poor. The report also found that of the stunted 15
MPK Kutty nation. Some must have even engendered hopes of the movement dealing a decisive blow to the corrupt of the land while there were others who repeated that mere enactment of legislation (the Lokpal Bill) would make no difference to the situation. What is lacking is a political will to implement the existing laws against corruption without fear or favour. Bureaucracy A recent report mentioned that India’s bureaucracy is the worst in Asia ranking even lower than their counterparts in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and China. This is a cardinal factor in development. It dampens all efforts at attracting foreign funds for investment here or promoting economic growth, generally speaking. The ‘steel frame’ consists mostly of people from the middle class and the Indian middle class is notorious for its indifference to the under-privileged and poor. It looks as though neither the governmental machinery nor the civil society is capable of promoting public good. What about the private initiative as reflected in the growth of the private sector and rise of corporate houses? The corporate houses which gathers their wealth from the community have a moral responsibility to plough back a part of their profits into welfare schemes intended for the poor. In advanced countries great industrialists and businessmen are known for their philanthropy; unfortunately the spirit of charity is not one of the virtues of the rich in this land. The corporate houses, no doubt, speed up growth; but they too are
Joyce Meyer for Festival of Life New Delhi, 15 Jan 2012: The Festival of Life, organised by Joyce Meyer Ministries, will be held in Delhi on the 28th of January at 6 pm and on the 29th at 3 pm and 6 pm. Venue: Thyagaraj Sports Complex, Baba Ganga Nath Marg, Behind INA Market, New Delhi – 110003 Joyce Meyer is a highly popular Christian speaker whose messages touch the lives of millions around the world. Ms Meyer is also a successful television evangelist. In all these meetings, Hillsong from Australia will lead the gathering in praise and worship. A nominal registration fee of Rs. 100 is applicable. For more details, contact Rev. Dr. Jeyaseelan, Victory Churches of India, 121, Andheri Mode, New Delhi- 110074; Phone: 011-31908060; Email: email@example.com Entry and parking information: Gate No. 1 : Only for VVIP’s/VIP’s who are allotted special invitation cards / passes (not for public) Gate No. 7 : For public and public cars Gate No. 3A : For buses, cars and public No bags or hand bags, except small
hand bag of ladies, will be allowed inside the stadium. A brochure / notice containing the exact date, time and venue of the meetings with necessary instructions are under preparation and it will be distributed to all the concerned once it is ready. All the registration centres / Pastors and Leaders (In-charge) will inform the participants that children of 6 years and above age will require registration cards to be procured for them for entry and it will not be free entry for them. Children up to the age of 6 years will not require registration but the parents need to accommodate them in their seats itself and no separate seats will be allotted.
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NEWS AND VIEWS January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Sharia Court Indicts Dutch Fr. Jim Borst and Pastor CM Khanna? Srinagar, Jan 11: Supreme Court of Islami Shariat Wednesday indicted Christian Pastor C M Khanna and Dutch national, Jim Bhorst for their involvement in luring people to convert their religion. The court said it will announce its verdict against the accused soon. The court had summoned Khanna in connection with the case today. His statement was recorded and he was shown a CD – proof of his involvement in the sensitive issue. "During the hearing, Khanna confessed about luring people to change their religion to Christianity. He also made some startling revelations." Deputy Mufti-Azam Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Muhammad Nasir-ul-Islam
said, in a statement, that it has been proved beyond doubt that the accused pastor who is putting up in Kashmir for past many years, has been along with other accomplices luring people to change religion. "The Kashmir situation is going through a critical phase and if such elements are not brought to book it will have a serious negative impact on the society. It is shocking and surprising that state government was allowing such activities. Kashmir society will not tolerate such activities at all and we stand united against such elements," Mufti Nasir said adding that detailed verdict against the accused would be made public soon.
Karnataka CM reignites controversy over Gita in schools
The Chief Minister was speaking on the sidelines of Shri Bhagavad Gita Abhiyan Mahasamarpana function organised by various religious mutts in Bangalore. Determined to override the religious sensitivities involved, Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda is considering introducing the Bhagavad Gita in the school curriculum in the state. Favouring the proposal of the BJP government in Karnataka, Chief Minister Gowda said he would seek public opinion for the inclusion of Gita in primary and secondary schools. "The Bhagavad Gita doesn't belong to a particular religion or a sect as its teachings are universal. It aims at refining mankind and other religions have appreciated its philosophical teachings," Gowda said. Expressing confidence that all sections of people would agree to the government's proposal, Gowda said the religious text was already being taught in Madhya Pradesh. "Before introducing the Bhagavad Gita in primary and secondary schools, the government will have a thorough discussion with a cross-section of the society. We do not want any controversy in this regard," Gowda told reporters. The Chief Minister was speaking on the sidelines of Shri Bhagavad Gita
Babu Thomas Abhiyan Mahasamarpana function organised by various religious mutts in Bangalore. Following his statement on introducing Gita, a group led by senior advocate Professor Ravi Varma Kumar criticised the proposal and said under no circumstance can religion be introduced in schools set up in a secular atmosphere. “The government cannot impose religion on anyone. Under the Education Act and also the Constitution, they have no right to do so. The Constitution ensures the Right to Religion and what the government is trying to do is contrary to what the Constitution says," Kumar said. "A religious book cannot be a text book under any circumstance. The law of the land is very clear and that there cannot be religious education in schools as it violates the secular fabric of the country. The government is attempting to propagate religion and this is wrong,” Kumar told Rediff web portal. Last year, a controversy was sparked when Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishwanath Hegde Kageri issued a circular that proposed the teaching of Gita to primary and secondary school children daily for one hour. "As the education minister I support the campaign. The government is ready to give money to mutts that support religion and culture, which the government believes in. Nobody can question it," Kageri said. The July circular was challenged by several religious groups on grounds that it went against the Constitution and affected the religious beliefs and sentiments of minority communities. A petition filed by the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation said the circular was contrary to the rights guaranteed to minority institutions and violated Section 7(g) 3 of Karnataka Education Act which upholds unity, sovereignty and integrity of the nation. Protests were subsequently held by political and religious organisations condemning the attempt to "communalise" education.
Partnership with Anglican aid agency to benefit 5,000 Delhi slum children Determined to override the religious sensitivities involved, Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda is considering introducing the Bhagavad Gita in the school curriculum in the state. Favouring the proposal of the BJP government in Karnataka, Chief Minister Gowda said he would seek public opinion for the inclusion of Gita in primary and secondary schools. "The Bhagavad Gita doesn't belong to a particular religion or a sect as its teachings are universal. It aims at refining mankind and other religions have appreciated its philosophical teachings," Gowda said. Expressing confidence that all sections of people would agree to the government's proposal, Gowda said the religious text was already being taught in Madhya Pradesh. "Before introducing the Bhagavad Gita in primary and secondary schools, the government will have a thorough discussion with a cross-section of the society. We do not want any controversy in this regard," Gowda told reporters. The Chief Minister was speaking on the sidelines of Shri Bhagavad Gita Abhiyan Mahasamarpana function organised by various religious mutts in Bangalore. Following his statement on introducing Gita, a group led by senior advocate Professor Ravi Varma Kumar criticised the proposal and said under no circumstance can religion be introduced in schools set up in a secular atmosphere. “The government cannot impose religion on anyone. Under the Education Act and also the Constitution, they have no right to do so. The Constitution ensures the
Right to Religion and what the government is trying to do is contrary to what the Constitution says," Kumar said. "A religious book cannot be a text book under any circumstance. The law of the land is very clear and that there cannot be religious education in schools as it violates the secular fabric of the country. The government is attempting to propagate religion and this is wrong,” Kumar told Rediff web portal. Last year, a controversy was sparked when Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishwanath Hegde Kageri issued a circular that proposed the teaching of Gita to primary and secondary school children daily for one hour. "As the education minister I support the campaign. The government is ready to give money to mutts that support religion and culture, which the government believes in. Nobody can question it," Kageri said. The July circular was challenged by several religious groups on grounds that it went against the Constitution and affected the religious beliefs and sentiments of minority communities. A petition filed by the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation said the circular was contrary to the rights guaranteed to minority institutions and violated Section 7(g) 3 of Karnataka Education Act which upholds unity, sovereignty and integrity of the nation. Protests were subsequently held by political and religious organisations condemning the attempt to "communalise" education.
States fail to ease plight of homeless
State governments have paid little or no attention to the Supreme Court's orders to set up permanent shelters for the homeless, according to the 'National Report on Homelessness'. The Supreme Court commissioners that monitored the state of night shelters for the poor and destitute rued that at least 3 million homeless across the country had to sleep outdoors, bearing freezing winter nights. They noted that all 15 states studied were in partial or complete violation of SC orders to set up permanent shelters for the homeless. Delhi was required to set up 129 permanent shelters for the homeless but only 64 have come up. Of these, only 41 were permanent in nature and 21 were found shut. "The 21 shelters are underutilized and in majority cases locked. Homeless are not aware of those shelters. Shelters are located in places which are too difficult to identify. The occupied shelters are only for men and no separate space for women in those. The basic amenities provided in the shelters are very poor," the commissioners said in their report, first
published by the Times of India daily. The states, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh were able to complete 30-60% of the required shelters. Ten states put up only 20-30% of the shelters required to house the poor. These include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karna-taka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. Two states that had not set up even 20% of their targeted shelters were Maharashtra and West Bengal. In both the states, no functional shelters reportedly exist till date. The commissioners said there were no reasons the poor performing states could give out for such delays. “Two years have elapsed now since the court first directed the states; one winter has given way to another and to another; monsoons have come and gone by,” the report said. “The Supreme Court has reviewed the case on more than 10 occasions and has periodically guided the governments with support from office of the commissioners of the Supreme Court to ensure implementation of the SC directions." The commissioners said that even where the shelters existed, in many cases the most basic facilities were not there. A place for women was a rarity and concerns of sanitation were ignored. Besides the states, the commissioners noted that the Centre too had failed in formulating a policy to provide for the homeless in the country.
NEWS AND VIEWS
No evidence of force or fraud in baptisms : All India Christian Council The All India Christian Council is deeply disturbed at the Srinagar based Sharia Court issuing a statement against Christian pastors Jim Borst and C M Khanna Srinagar, Jan 11: Supreme Court of Islamic Sharia Wednesday indicted Christian Pastor C M Khanna and Dutch national, Jim Borst for their involvement in luring people to convert their religion. The Sharia court has threatened it will issue a sentence shortly. Such statements can encourage extremist elements to indulge in violence, the Council fears. Christian Council secretary general Dr John Dayal said the church in India displayed remarkable sobriety and a sense of responsibility in their response to the arrest in Srinagar of Reverend Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of the All Saints Church late last year on charges of conversion on the demand of a local Mufti. It was hoped that religious and secular authorities, and the state government, would show maturity and responsibility keeping in view the delicately poised public peace situation and the hardship the common people have faced at the hands of terrorists of various hues and other agencies. The Church does not accept as genuine any
January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
conversion brought about by fraud or force. Dr John Dayal pointed out that a fact finding team which went to Srinagar in the wake of the arrest of Rev Khanna, and interviewed Church personnel, Ulema, school, authorities and the police, found no evidence of force or fraud in baptisms that have been carried out over a period of time. Each baptism has been proved to be voluntary. The Christian community in the entire valley does not number more than 400, and has lived in peace with its neighbours for the last century and a half The Council said the Christian community does not accept the jurisdiction on the Sharia courts or similar instruments of other religions anywhere in India. The vital issues of the rights of minorities, and freedom faith are also involved. Dr John Dayal said it devolves on the Jammu and Kashmir Government, religious leaders and people of goodwill in the Kashmir valley to ensure that the nights of minorities are respected, thier welfare assured, and communal harmony strengthened in the region which so desperately requires and environment of peace for its development and wellbeing.
MP Surya Namaskar to enter Guinness Book?
Bhopal 11/01/2012, Isai Mahasangh(IMS) made it clear that they will approach Guinness Book authorities to request them not to include Madhya Pradesh Government sponsored Surya Namaskar (worship of the Sun) which promotes communal discord in the multireligious society. IMS, State General Secretary, Jerry Paul said, “We have followers of different religions living together in this state of Madhya Pradesh. Government is trying to divide the young minds by introducing religious activities pertaining to a particular religion. The circular issued by the education department has made it compulsory for educational institutions to conduct it and also invite different sections of people for the same. It has violated the 2009 Madhya Pradesh High Court Order by making schools organize the ritual of Surya Namaskar.” There are many schools that faced pressure form the education department to conduct Syruya Namaksar orally.
He stated that it has also violated the Article 28 of Indian Constitution:- . (1) No religion instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. (3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto Cultural and Educational Rights. “The constitution of India is very clear on the issue of religious instruction that no general educational institutions owned by the Government or aided by Government will impart any religious instruction. It also requires that the State Government must seek consent of the guardian to impart any religious instruction to minors but the Government has not done that either. So it is a clear violation of the Constitution of India.” Said, John Antony, the State Office Secretary of IMS. IMS also alleged that the State Government is trying to communalize the education through very many ways, blatant violation Constitution is taking place the union Government must look into the matter.
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NEWS AND VIEWS PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Pak flag hoisting: Karnataka opposition demands ban on Ram Sene
Bijapur, Jan 11, 2012: It was the plot to organise a communal riot but it was foiled with the arrest of Sriram Sene workers. It is believed that, the Sangh organisations of the area were all set for carnage against the minority community, and were prevented only because of the timely act from the Police which arrested the real culprits behind the Pakistan flag hoisting at Tahsildar’s office in Bijapur. It was on the New Year eve the flag was hoisted at the office in Sindagi and media started spitting venom targeting a section. A few among the Kannada dailies went to the
January 16-31, 2012
New NIV Bible translation clearer on homosexuality
The latest version of the popular NIV Bible translation has had its verses on homosexuality reworded, making them clearer in denouncing the practice, a theologian who helped with the translation says. These clarifications include the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:9, where the 1984 NIV version uses the phrase “homosexual offenders,” while the 2011 translation changes the phrase to "men who have sex with men." The Committee on Bible Translation, chaired by Dr. Douglas J. Moo, who also serves as Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, released the 2011 New International Version last year. “Debates among Christians about the teaching of the Bible on homosexuality over the last twenty years sparked considerable scholarly interest in relevant words and texts,” said Moo in an interview with The Christian Post. “This research showed that two Greek words in this verse referred, respectively, to extent of accusing ‘Pakistan agents’ behind the passive and active participants in male the incident. It was since then right wing homosexual activity.” Hindutva organisations including Bajrang Moo also explained the problem with Dal, Sriram Sene and VHP called for a bandh the previous translation for a verse like the in the region with a motive to raise emotional one in 1 Corinthians 6:9. rage against the Muslims and they attacked “The 1984 NIV rendering … did not shops and vehicles owned by Muslims. make clear whether homosexual activity per But with the arrest of six Sriram Sene se was being condemned or whether only activists from Bangalore, the Sangh had to certain kinds of ‘offensive’ homosexual soon retrieve to shell. College students activity was being condemned.,” said Moo. named Rakesh Sidha Ramayya Madd, “The updated NIV makes clear that the Mallana Gawda Vijaya Kumar Patil, Parasu Greek words here indicate any kind of Ram Ashok Vagmor, Rohit Iswar Navi, homosexual activity. The updated NIV also reflects the fact that the key Greek word 12 here refers to males.” According to Moo, other verses that were altered due to scholarship and to make the message clearer included Romans 1:2627 and Leviticus 18:22. In Romans 1:26, the verse “even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,” was changed to, “even
their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” While in Leviticus 18:22, the verse “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman,” was changed to, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.” One verse that appears to have been changed dramatically was 1Timothy 1:10, where the word “perverts” from the 1984 NIV was changed to “those practicing homosexuality.” “The same key Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 occurs here also, and so the reason for the change here was the same as the reason for the change in 1 Corinthians 6:9,” said Moo. The NIV 2011 version debuted amid controversy, with some Christian groups and individuals criticizing the translation for allegedly having too much “gender inclusive” language, similar to the TNIV translation of the Bible. Last year, members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood criticized the edition, saying the 2011 NIV “cannot be considered sufficiently trustworthy in its translation of gender language." According to the Committee on Bible Translation’s website, however, every example of gender inclusive language found in the TNIV was “reconsidered,” especially when compared to the 1984 NIV. “Some changes were preserved, some were rescinded in favor of the 1984 rendering, and many were re-worded in a third, still different way,” reads an entry from the CBT website’s Frequently Asked Questions page. “All gender decisions for the updated NIV were subjected to rigorous scrutiny in the light of this data to ensure that the words chosen maximize comprehension of the original meaning,” the committee maintains.
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January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Kandhamal: Baptist pastor arrested under false charges
Tribal groups in Kandhamal, Orissa are protesting the arrest of a prominent Christian leader who is facing charges of alleged Maoist links. Junes Pradhan was arrested on Monday from Kandhamal's Daringibadi area. Police arrested him for links with Maoists and involvement in recent landmine blasts. Pradhan is the president of the BJD in Daringibadi block and is also the Kandhamal district chief of Christian Janakalyan Samaj, the apex body of tribal Christians in the district. Four persons, including three policemen, died and three were injured in the last week’s landmine blast at Srirampur-Kotagarh road. According to reports, the concealed land mine exploded when the police personnel, mostly constables, were on their way to a site where the rebels had triggered an explosion a day earlier. "We have got strong evidence of
Pradhan's involvement in the landmine blast,” said district superintendent of Police Jaynarayan Pankaj Pankaj said Pradhan was arrested in connection with two cases registered against him in Kotagarh police station “We also suspect his involvement in other crimes committed by the Maoists in the district," he informed. Following Pradhan's arrest, a 12-hour bandh was announced by three tribal outfits Banabasi Surakshya Parishad, Odisha Adivasi Mancha and Adivasi Adhikar Andolana. Narendra Mohanty, convener of the Banabasi Surakhya Parishad, termed the case against Pradhan "baseless" and "fabricated". “Pradhan was involved in several agitations for development of tribal people. Police have arrested him on false charges,” Mohanty said. Media reported that several business establishments and shops in Daringibadi kept their shutters down during the period. The landmine blast that killed three policemen came on the second day of the twoday bandh called by the rebels to protest the recent police arrests and attacks on Maoists. The Maoists triggered the blast through a battery when the team with two trained dogs was proceeding in a van on SrirampurKotagarh road to the site of another blast. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that the families of the deceased would get Rs 8 lakh as ex-gratia.
National 'No Name Calling' Day On January 25th 2012, all students in Massachusetts will participate in a No Name Calling Day in which the kids will sign pledges not to name call or partake in bullying and also wear black to show commitment to "Black Out Bullying." This day is to also remember those victims who have committed suicide after being bullied themselves. Too many teens have committed suicide since 2010, the most recent being a 15-year-old girl who threw herself in front of a bus in New York. And even then her Facebook page was filled with messages of hatred. The campaign to end bullying doesn't just need to extend to kids. We as adults all need to take part in this so that we can show one another that we will not tolerate this behavior anymore and that while talking about it does have some effect. This will be a true sign of unity as a nation as well as to the social networking sites here most of the bullying takes place. The time has come because every day some teen somewhere feels like a total outcast because they "aren't a typical teenager," which by 2012 standards is a wide spectrum, or they are questioning things in their lives that most often don't have answers to but are desperate and for some reason, these bullies feel the need to
instead knock them down the ladder until they've fallen so far down there's not a possible chance of getting back up and they feel that the only way to escape is to kill themselves. It's one thing when we were kids to be bullied on the playground where you had a fighting chance against these bullies but in the social network and throughout the Internet, it's not possible to fight back without being eaten alive. We encourage the kids in our lives to speak what's on their minds but do we really listen? or even understand what's happening? We can monitor what's being said but only to a certain extent and even then we're left in the dark. So what's the cure to this epidemic? Do we unplug the computers and TV hoping that will solve a piece of the problem or do we stand up together and say "You know what? I refuse to leave in fear and worry, I will stand up for those and myself around and not let this people bring me down." Enough is enough. Too many teens have died and if we end this now, we may put this epidemic to rest for once and for all. Editor's Note: When will bullying be taken seriously in India?
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January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Hindu, Muslim brides take to "Christian" gowns
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The allure and beauty of the Christian wedding gown has long charmed every woman. It’s not unusual to hear even non-Christians saying they’d love to get married in a Church, just so that they can don the pristine, trailing gown. And amazingly, many brides-to-be are actually making that dream come true by opting for a gown on their big day, irrespective of religion. Call it the inherently liberal attitude of Kochi, which has always been multi-cultural in essence, or a measure of the changing times and trends, but more and more women are making enquiries for gorgeous gowns. There are many takers among Hindu brides, but given traditional norms (‘white’ is considered inauspicious, symbolising death) , they often opt for colours other than White. Findings from a few branded showrooms in Kochi make it evident that last year’s wedding season witnessed many nonChristians purchasing wedding gowns. NRI and Kerala based non-Christian brides come to Kochi and meticulously decide upon the wedding gown for days on end, shop owners tell us. Sreelatha Somanathan, Manager at Kalyan Silks, Kochi says, “This wedding season I noticed many non -Christian brides and their parents coming to purchase wedding gowns. It is quite incredible. Hindu brides whose engagement and reception venues are held at resorts and hotels, select gowns of pastel shades like off white and subtle gold.” Muslims have no issues with white, though they opt for other colours as well. “Muslim brides go for coloured gowns for their mehendi functions. Their hands mostly reach out for colours like light blue, pink and red having stone works, beads, embroidery and other filigree
designs”, says Sreelatha. Shehala Parveen, a Muslim bride-to-be says, “It was my father’s choice to see me in a gown on my wedding. I am slim and so my father thinks that I would look better in it. I tried on four colours but among them, off white suited me the best. And as we don’t wear diamond jewellery for weddings, off white goes well with gold.” Most of the branded clothing shops have noticed this upcoming bridal trend. “We have customers from different parts of Kerala like Thrissur, Kotttayam coming over to purchase wedding gowns. Last year our showroom at Kochi witnessed a change in the purchasing pattern shown by non Christians for gowns.” says Kripakaran, Branch manager at Chennai Silks. Seeing the trend more and more shops and ‘gown’ boutiques have cropped up in Kochi. Abdul Rahoof, Salesman at Party Star, a exclusive gown showroom at Ground Junction, Kochi says, “The gowns which we have at our shop are ordered and stitched form Saudi Arabia. Our Muslim customers go for gowns where half its sleeve is done in net and satin while the remaining sleeve till the wrist has net with swarovski stones and bead work. Hindu brides on the other hand prefer gowns with less train and more length for the veil. For tall and slim brides, we suggest low waist gowns. For those on the heavier side, high waist gowns are better to hide flab.” At most stores, the price for gowns begins from ` 25,000 onwards. Shahina Subair, another bride who is all set to get married this month says, “I and my family wanted some variety. Our customs don’t prohibit us from wearing gowns. In most of the Arabic weddings, brides are dressed in gowns. Along with it I am planning to wear accessories with white stones. For sure not gold.”
Economic Growth without ... infected by the greed to make more profits and fleece the common man in the bargain. Then there are the rich religious institutions and religious leaders saddled with huge funds. Social reformers in the past had risen from the ranks of spiritual leaders and they had advocated the cause of the downtrodden. They had also done their bit in rousing the conscience of society towards the poor. Most hungry With 21 per cent of its population under nourished, nearly 44 per cent of under-five children underweight and seven per cent of them dying before they reach five years, India is among the world’s most hunger ridden countries. It is even worse than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan or Nepal, according to data released by the International Food Policy Research Institute. Housing is a basic human need. With a population of one billion India is the second most populous nation in the world. According to UN-Habitat, India is home to 63 per cent of all slum dwellers in South Asia. This amounts to 170 million people, 17 per cent of the world’s slum dwellers. India's per capita income, although rising, rank's it 124th in the world. This low per capita income is one factor that marks the sharp divide between India's wealthiest and poorest citizens. Approximately 35 percent of India's 260 million people (a group almost equal to the entire population of the United States) still earns $1 or less a day. And according to the United Nations, 70 million people earn less than $2 a day. As India continues to grow in economic stature, there's much debate over the
country's ability to tackle poverty and urban homelessness. A 2001 census reported that 78 million people across this nation were living without a home, many in overcrowded urban environments. According to one estimate, there are 314,700 children living on the streets of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kanpur, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and another 100,000 live in New Delhi; however, these numbers may not reflect the true picture, as accurate census information is difficult to collect. In truth, millions of India's children are denied even the most basic rights of survival and protection. Children living on the streets are especially vulnerable to victimization, exploitation, and the abuse of their civil and economic rights. In the past the Christian missionaries, though so few in number, had striven their best to redeem the poor and the downtrodden through education and other means. In England particularly the Salvation army had made a significant contribution for improving the lot of the poor and those living in the streets. Its founder William Booth had vowed as follows: “While women weep as they do now, I will fight. While children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight, while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight. I will fight to the very end!” Such a steely determination on the part of our religious leaders, too numerous to be mentioned here, would have made a difference to poverty here.
BETHEL BIBLE COLLEGE, PUNALUR.
The First Assemblies of God Bible College in India P.O. Box. 6, Punalur, Pin - 691 305, Kerala, India. (E-mail: email@example.com)
Commencing in May, 2012 Invites applications from qualified Candidates for the following courses Qualification
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EDITOR’S PAGE January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Drifting along, driven by your emotions?
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY EDITORIAL The homeless are still out in the cold!
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD” Jer 17:7. M K Babu
It was quite a spectacle watching the Uttar Pradesh administration running helter-skelter to beat the deadline issued by the Election Commission of India. The EC had ordered UP government to cover all the numerous statues of the reigning Chief Minister Mayawatiji and of the elephant, the election symbol of her party. It is reported that the cost of this grand cover up ran into several hundreds of thousands of rupees. The UP government has rubbished those figures. In any case, Mayawati's fancy led the state to spend tax payers' money to build her statues at a mammoth cost of several hundred millions. And who pays for the draping of these statues prior to elections? It's the tax payer again! Governments at all levels are guilty of wasteful expenditure of public money. Rulers think that they have a divine right to a higher standard of living. Those who run government departments think that everything about their work must be accompanied by pomp and glory. The way in which hundreds of millions of rupees were washed down the drain in the name of national honour is still fresh in our minds. If India were a rich country - free of poverty and injustice - no one would talk about these things. The people of this country are reeling under inflation and unemployment. Child labour, homelessness, prostitution, human trafficking, bonded labour ... these are the characteristics of a significant population in India. Wasteful expenditure must be seen in the light of such abject poverty and misery that makes up India. Although the Indian middle-class and print/visual media that are run by them are eager to show that India is a rising super-power, a walk down the street in any city or village will give us a better picture of what the real India looks like. Take Delhi, for instance. Even as northern India is gripped by a cold wave, there are more than a hundred thousand homeless people who spent their nights on the streets of Delhi. A quarter of these are vulnerable women and children. Rains during winter make their life more miserable. Last year, 300 lives were lost due to exposure. This year, it might get a lot worse. Delhi boasts of 64 permanent shelters and 86 temporary shelters for the homeless. The homeless do not feel secure in such facilities. People have lost their belongings and even their children while at these night shelters. Besides, drug addicts and criminals make these shelters unfit for others. Permanent shelters are far away from the city. Most street dwellers do not prefer to travel that far every day. The police is so heartless while dealing with the homeless. A few days ago, a homeless man told a news channel that a policeman threw his jacket into a fire. His ration card and smart card were in his jacket! In the name of eviction, even food cooked by the homeless is destroyed. Since there is no statutory body such the Election Commission to issue a deadline to the State or Union government, no one seems to be in a hurry to rehabilitate the homeless in a sensible way. The homeless are without an address. Therefore, they can hardly think of voting. As long as they don't country in the "world's biggest democracy," the rulers too aren't very interested in them. On New Year's Eve, a 35-year old balloon seller died due to cold as he slept under the open sky. It may be worthwhile if churches or families open their doors at least to women and children on the streets so that they do not die this winter season. If you feel this is going too far, just get 'dressed' like a homeless and try spending a night out with the real homeless on Delhi's streets!
It is easy to be carried away by our emotions during times of sorrow. God is all able to turn our sorrow into joy and fasting into feasting. Though we trust in God and strut around on the mountain tops of our faith, the irony is, often we emotionally deal with times of troubles and land in valleys. God is gracious to impart a courageous and sound mind through our trust in Him. The choice is ours. We need to control our emotions during times of sorrow because we are prone to succumb to our feelings. Dead fish flow along with water currents; the live ones swim against the current. The Bible has numerous instances of the miraculous work in those lives that were able to control their emotional feelings during distress. One of those can be found during the exodus of the children Israel from Egypt. Moses was asked to lead Israelites by the way of the Red Sea instead of the land of the Philistines even though the latter was shorter route. By the sea God made His people to encamp in a place where an onlooker would think that they were wandering aimlessly in the land and that they had lost the way. Such delusions are for ignorant observers--neither for God nor for His people. God has a specific purpose in His every plan for His children. When the children of Israel saw that Pharaoh’s army chasing them on chariots, they couldn’t find an escape route. Strangely, the people who saw God’s mighty hand of deliverance began going under their emotional feelings. Some of them were holding their family together and crying while others were angry with the leader Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. But the man of God Moses who could take control over his emotion said to the people: "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.” (Exo 14:13). Consequently, the same red sea that was preventing their journey ahead was divided for the Israelites to pass over and the waters united again to destroy their enemy. God can destroy the enemy that is chasing us with same ‘obstacle’ that was used to hinder us for a while. Succumbing to our emotional feelings let us just not rebel against God. The depth of the Red Sea may terrify us but the height of God’s love for us will comfort our hearts. Yet another incident in the New Testament times: After the sudden loss of their only brother Lazarus, his sisters Martha and Mary went into a deep state of sorrow and emptiness. Mary couldn’t bear the death of her brother she began to crawl down the steps of depression. She couldn’t even get up to receive Jesus at His arrival in Bethany, their village. On the contrary, Martha got up and walked to the village gate to receive Jesus. She expressed her sorrow by saying that had Jesus been there her brother would not have died. Emotionally, Martha could blame Jesus for the death of his brother as many blame God today for the disaster in their lives. Or, she could easily ignore Jesus for His inability to save her brother from death. She was not ready to give up by becoming an emotional fool rather she demonstrated her faith in Jesus by saying "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (John 11:22). Resultantly, she received her brother alive who was dead and laid in the grave for four days. Those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame. Martha took courage and received Jesus, went along with Him to the graveyard, encouraged her sister Mary to go with her to the grave where the dead body of Lazarus was laid. God can’t sit idle watching all these things; He stood up and stretched out His hand to raise Lazarus from the dead. God works for those whose trust is in Him. “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry” Ps 34:15. Let us not drift away by our emotions. Take courage and trust in Him; we will never be put to shame.
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Top 10 Reasons to Become a Teacher Melissa Kelly Teaching is a special calling. It is not a job well-suited to everyone. In fact, many new teachers leave within the first 3-5 years of teaching. However, there are many rewards that come with this oft maligned career. Here are my top ten reasons why teaching can be a great profession.
7. Autonomy in the Classroom Once a teacher closes that door each day and begins teaching, they really are the ones who decide what's going to happen. Not many jobs provide an individual with so much room to be creative and autonomous each day.
1. Student Potential Unfortunately, not every student will succeed in your class. However, this fact should not keep you from believing that every student has the potential for success. This potential is so exciting - each new year presents new challenges and new potential successes. 2. Student Successes Closely related to the previous pick, student success is what drives teachers to continue. Each student who didn't understand a concept and then learned it through your help can be exhilarating. And when you actually reach that student that others have written off as being unteachable, this can truly be worth all the headaches that do come with the job. 3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject You will never learn a topic better than when you start teaching it. I remember my first year teaching AP Government. I had taken Political Science courses in college and thought I knew what I was doing. However, the student questions just made me dig deeper and learn more. There is an old adage that it takes three years of teaching to truly master a subject and in my experience this is the truth.
8. Conducive to Family Life If you have children, the school calendar will typically allow you to have the same days off as your kids. Further, while you might bring work home with you to grade, you will probably be getting home close to the same time as your children. 4. Daily Humor If you have a positive attitude and a sense of humor, you will find things to laugh about each day. Sometimes it will be silly jokes you will make up as you teach that might get a laugh from your students. Sometimes it will be jokes that kids share with you. And sometimes students will come out with the funniest statements without realizing what they've said. Find the fun and enjoy it! 5. Affecting the Future Yes it might be trite, but it is true. Teachers mold the future each day in class. In fact, it is a sad fact that you will see some of these students more consistently day-to-day than their parents will.
9. Job Security In many communities, teachers are a scarce commodity. It is fairly certain that you will be able to find a job as a teacher, though you might have to wait until the start of a new school year and be willing to travel within your county/school district. While requirements might be different from state to state, once you have proven yourself a successful teacher, it is relatively easy to move around and find a new job.
10. Summers Off Unless you work in a district that has a year-round-education system, you will have a couple of months off in the summer where you can choose to get another job, teach summer school, or just relax and vacation. Further, you typically get two 6. Staying Younger Being around young people everyday will weeks off during Christmas/Winter help you remain knowledgeable about Holidays and one week for Spring Break current trends and ideas. It also helps break which can really be a huge benefit and provide much needed rest time. down barriers.
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The earthworm is an excellent example of economy of design No text can better describe God's
last segments of its body. The setae
care and concern over such a lowly
give the earthworm traction as it
creature as the earthworm, which lives
moves. Mucus, the slimy substance
most of its life in the underground darkness of
secreted by the skin, helps the worm to
the soil. There it discovers enough
slip easily through the soil. Some of the
d to thrive, and in the process it
fertilises the soil.
and hardens the
an excellent example
of economy of
The earthworm is
essentially consists of two tubes,
During daylight hours the one
earthworm tunnels in warm dark earth. As it
inside the other. The inner tube contains the eats its way along under the ground, it churns air, worm's simple brain, five hearts, and an water and nutrients into the soil. In addition, it intestine. The outer tube consists of two kinds leaves behind its waste products, called castings, of muscles covered by reddish-brown skin. One as a natural fertilizer. At night, when the hot sun set of muscles extends along the earthworm's has set, earthworms venture above ground to fee body and gives the creature the ability to on vegetation. become shorter and thicker. Another set of
An earthworm's body is not cluttered with
muscles encircles the body and allows the worm eyes, ears, and nose. It has neither lungs nor to become longer and thinner.
gills. Instead, it uses sensitive receptors in the
The earthworm has no bones, so its body is skin to pick up sound vibrations and changes in very flexible. To move forward, the worm light, temperature, and the chemicals in the soil. lengthens the front part of its body to push And it breathes through the pores in its skin, through the soil. Then it pulls up the rear part to using the tiny pockets of air trapped between â€œcatch upâ€? with the front. The earthworm has no grains of sand. Only God's creative and legs, but does have four pairs of tiny bristles sustaining genius could make something so called setae located on all but the first few and perfectly simple as an earthworm.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
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MATRIMONIAL PTA-ML/2011/001 Marriage proposals Born Again
South Indian settled in Delhi invites proposal for a missionary boy (33 years,174cm, Handsome, M.A.; M.Sc.; B.D.; M.Th; PhD*), from the parents of South Indian educated girl, desiring to work in the mission along with profession. Send details to EMail:administrator@elcsociety. org Mobile: 09717435775 PTA-ML/2011/002 Punjabi Pentacostal parents invite proposals for their daughter, 26 yrs, 5’2”, M.A.(Pub.Adm)+Software Diploma and pursuing MBA. Well educated and well settled born-again, cast no bar. Contact: 9988835028, 01887-226028 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. PTA-ML/2011/003 Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their daughter, bornagain, 27 yrs, 5;3”, M.Sc. in Biotechnology, pursuing B.Ed. Pentecostal north Indian bornagain, God fearing spiritual boy preferred. Contact : 9812221389 9541512909 PTA-ML/2011/04 North Indian Pentecostal parents invites proposals for their son, 24 yrs, 5’4”, pastoring a fast growing church in Delhi. Girl to be committed for the ministry. Contact : 9250989049 PTA-ML/2011/05 North Indian Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their daughter settled in Delhi, 27 yrs, 5’3”, good looking BA+ Music Diploma (Dress designing, cutting and tailoring from Govt ITI ), dedicated for ministry. Contact : 9971727958 PTA-ML/2011/06 North Indian Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their son, 24 yrs, pastoring a church in Delhi. Girl involved ministry and have great commitment is preferred. Contact : 9818916878 PTA-ML/2011/07 Punjabi parents invite proposals for their daughter, born-again, fair complexion, 5’1”, 28 yrs, B.E. in Computer Science, MBA (HR), working as Sr. HR Executive. Boy to be north Indian, God fearing, loving & caring, preferably from NCR, Delhi. Contact : 9212000543 9999662489 E-mail:
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PTA-ML/2011/15 Punjabi (Mehta) Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their daughter, born again and baptized, 28 yrs, 5 ' 4", Complexion wheatish, B. com + NTT + Accounting Diploma. Working in convent school as an assistant accountant. Pursuing MBA. Contact: 09416636175 01275 - 244018 E m a i l : firstname.lastname@example.org PTA-ML/2011/16 Marriage proposals invited from God fearing, good looking, educated and preferably working Christian girl (within 30 years) for a Christian Oriya C.N.I boy Age 34yrs working in a reputed IT Company at Chennai as a software professional and soon will settling in Kolkata. Contact- 08902128670 Email: Moulee2007@gmail.com
year old daughter Hgt. (5.2”), Qlfn. B.A, + B.T.H . for Boy with heart for ministry. Contact: 7838536533 Email: email@example.com PTA-ML/2011/22 Marriage proposal Invited North Indian settled Keralite Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their daughter 29 yrs, 5.2” Working in Kuwait. MOH, B.Sc. Nurse. Contact: 09891665951,09891868483
PTA-ML/2011/23 Marriage proposal Invited Born again parents invite for 5.4” tall, attractive, 28 years born again girl working in an Embasy holding a responsible position, with family involved in church ministry seek a suitable boy with stable job from Delhi/NCR. Prefer a boy that gives priority to church life. PTA-ML/2011/17 Marriage proposal Inviting a Contact: 09810278362 suitable match for North Indian, born-again, convent PTA-ML/2011/24 educated graduate girl (28 yrs, Marriage proposal 5.2") working at Amex. Delhi settled Malayalee Pentecostal emailPastor's family invite proposals for firstname.lastname@example.org their daughter(24/148cm/General phone No: 9718932056 PTA-ML/2011/18 Marriage proposal North Indian protestant Parent invite proposal for their daughter, 31 Yrs, 5.2”. God fearing believer, good looking, smart, Wheatish towards fair, M.A. Eco.Writer and working as copy writer in reputed company in New Delhi. Contact: 09899781711 PTA-ML/2011/19 Marriage proposal Seeking alliance for Pastor’s daughter, Kerala born settled in Gujarat. B.Th, 23, 5’4’, worship leader. From parents of field missionaries or pastors working in North India. Contact: 09979979005 Email: J.email@example.com PTA-ML/2011/20 Marriage proposal for a 31 year old (6'3), (MA) Keralite boy living in New Delhi from parents of professionally qualified girls with a heart for the ministry. He is a Senior Trainer at an American institute. Involved in teaching & preaching ministry. Prefer those brought up outside Kerala. Contact:Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org , Ph: 09560179784, 0472-2896281 PTA-ML/2011/21 Marriage proposal Invited from North Indian Pentecostal parents Delhi Settled for there 25
Nurse/B.Th) working in Delhi, from the parents of Malayalee Pentecostal boy interested in God's work along with secular job/business. Mobile:08527965565
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Our Senior Citizens deserve a better deal Arnold James There are more than 12000 senior citizens registered with Delhi Police, the unregistered figure may be 50 lakhs or more. The health of elderly people starts declining at the age of 70 years and above. They suffer from many diseases like arthritis, whooping cough, weakness in limbs due to muscular pain, etc. Due to many reasons their children have shifted or started living separately leaving the parents alone. There is a common complaint that children don't care for their elderly parents. They do not keep them in their homes. Our system of living has changed as common people dwell in houses consists of two to three bedrooms. Where can parents be housed? Elderly people also want some privacy as well as respect. Some elderly people get pension; some get rent from their properties; some receive financial support from their children. But there are elderly people who don't have any source of income. In the present day scenario cost of living has risen. Expenses such as electricity and water charges have become so high. Grocery supplies
too are dearer. A person without income cannot survive. Thirty or forty years ago people lived in joint families, which was the most graceful time. There were no worries or problems faced by the joint family alone by any individual. One or two family members earned and supported the entire family. Some elderly people of Hindu religion like to spent their last days at the Banks of River Ganga in Allahabad or Varanasi. Some children leave their parents at Varanasi against their will to get rid of them. This is not good. We must respect our elderly people and keep them happy and in good cheer. Ms Sarojni Baratwal, an 81year-old woman who lived alone was murdered in her ground floor apartment in Mayur Vihar PhaseI on 10th January 2012. She was registered with Delhi Police senior citizen cell and the beat constable used to visit her regularly, also the SHO of the area. It is not safe to live alone at this age; miscreants are looking around for easy prey. Hon'ble Delhi High Court is very concerned and has passed several orders to protect the elderly people. Delhi Government has also constructed several old-age homes
run by NGOs. There are seven old age homes in Delhi run by Christian organisations and Churches, besides NGOs like Help Age India. But these are not sufficient. The Government of Delhi suggested construction of more old-age homes. Delhi Government should keep a provision in the next five year plan for more old-age homes. Besides the Delhi Government, NGOs and rich religious organisations should also come forward to establish their own old-age homes. Catholic Churches, Church of North India, Gurudwara Pran Pandhak Committee, Arya Samaj Mandir Trust, Hanuman Mandir Trust (Connaught Place) Delhi Waqaf Board, major schools like DPS Society, St. Columbus School, Ryan International School, St. Stephen's College, Kalkaji Temple, Maruti Udyog etc., should come forward in this area. New Delhi YMCA is looking for a suitable land for the construction of an old-age in home in and around Delhi (NCR). Delhi Government's two departments, Social & Welfare and Delhi Minorities Commission can also
take up the matters in their monthly meetings for consideration. I appreciate the views of Ms. Juhi Parmar winner of Big Boss Season 5 that some part of the prize money will be used opening an old-age home in her hometown, Jaipur. There are more than sufficient old-age homes in England, USA & Western countries very well maintained and run by their respective Governments. Over-population and poverty are disadvantages in our country. We the people of Delhi of various religions and faiths must unite to do something very special for our elderly people. If needed, a body may be formed with likeminded people to work on future plans. The Department of Programmes, New Delhi YMCA, is organising a day long picnic for the elderly people at Lodhi Garden in the month of March 2012. Elderly people both male and female will be brought in the mini buses from various old age homes in Delhi to the garden and leave them back. *The author is Former Member of Delhi Minorities Commission and Board of Director, New Delhi YMCA
Pak flag hoisting: Karnataka... Sunil Madivvalappa Agasar, Anil Kumar Sriram Solankar were the ones arrested by Bijapur Police Superintendent. On questioning they have admitted that, their plans were to catalyse a riot in order to win greater support for Sriram Sene. They expected that patriotic feelings would soon act in favour of them and against the Muslims, by alienating them as wellwishers of enemy nation. At the same time the National President
of Sriram Sene Pramod Muthalik stated that, those arrested are members of RSS and donâ€™t belong to his group. There were demands from political parties to charge Muthalik as well in the case. He has a previous history of being caught in Tehelka sting operation tapes, for demanding money to organise riots against the minorities [Rent a Riot]. He accused the police of having agendas against Sriram Sene. He said he is in possession of evidences to prove the
culpritsâ€™ RSS relations and if necessary they will be publicised, he added. South Kannada Congress district president and Banthwal MLA Ramanath Rai demanded to ban the organisation, based on the anti national act committed. Janata Dal (S) leader HD Kumara Swamy expressed his doubts on the possible involvement of RSS and BJP, in this heinous act. He said that, Sangh is on an attempt to win votes by creating riots in the region.
Police doubts Sangh involvement in similar incidents of defacing a statue of Vivekananda and a Temple in these region recently, as in those cases too Hindutva organisations made attempts to spread hate campaigns against Muslims, without any evidence. It was in 2008 a Pak flag was hoisted here in the Tipu Sultan circle, and with these incidents none can deny a possible Sangh involvement. TwoCircles.
January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Of Laws, Cows and People’s Mutinies Cynthia Stephen Karnataka, January 08, 2012: Will the beef ban in BJP-ruled states fuel a new Mutiny? T h e G a u - Va n s h Va d h P r a t i s h e d h (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak (Prohibition of slaughter of cow-progeny Bill) just passed in Madhya Pradesh empowers the government to prosecute any person found slaughtering a cow or even transporting the calf for the purpose of slaughter. Anyone found guilty of this act would face seven years of imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs 5000.
The bill prohibits slaughter of cattle, sale, usage and possession of beef, puts restriction on transport of cattle and also prohibits sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter. The offence is punishable with imprisonment not less than one year which may extend up to seven years or fined between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 or both; second and subsequent offence would attract a fine of not less than Rs 50,000 up to Rs one lakh along with imprisonment penalty. In March 2010, the Karnataka assembly passed the The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010 by voice vote after uproarious scenes, and a four-hour acrimonious debate. All sections of the opposition were against the bill, which caused much consternation Karnataka. One of the largest popular mobilizations in recent years was held in the Tasker Town grounds in March 2010 by a broad cross-section of progressives, minority groups and farmer’s groups to protest the bill just as it was being discussed. It was passed by both houses but has not become law as the Governor has sent it for Presidential assent. According to the Deccan Herald, the bill prohibits slaughter of cattle, sale, usage and possession of beef, puts restriction on transport of cattle and also prohibits sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter.The offence is punishable with imprisonment not less than one year which may extend up to seven years or fined between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 or both; second and subsequent offence would attract a fine of not less than Rs 50,000 up to Rs one lakh along with imprisonment penalty. The bill was intended to replace the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves of she-buffaloes, bull, buffalo male or female. It is also aimed at preservation and improvement of the breeds of cattle and to endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution. The bill provides for stringent punishment for violation of the act, and also provides for powers to search and seizure of any premises including vessel or vehicle. V S Acharya, BJP leader, said the bill was “in tune with the sentiments of the majority community”, and with the election manifesto of the BJP, and judgements of High courts and the Supreme Court. The BJP governments in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh may have brought these
laws with the intention of putting pressure on the lifestyle and livelihoods of the minorities. But are these bills acts of political bravado on the part of the BJP? According to the Economic Times, dt. 6th Jan 2012, (see article below), beef is the most popularly consumed meat in India – 26 lakh tons annually. In comparison, only 6lakh tons of mutton and 14 lakh tons of pork were consumed in India. The article quotes the US Food and Drug Administration, saying India is in fact the third largest exporter of beef in the world, exporting as much as 1.28 million tons of it! In MP, in particular, there is a large population of tribals – 13 million – for whom beef constitutes a sple. In Karnataka as well, large sections of the state’s population will be affected directly once the bill passes into law, including farmers, milk producers, leather workers, most of whom are Dalits and Muslims, and of course the common man. The Economic Times report quotes Dr Julukarao Srinivas Postdoctoral fellow, University of Hyderabad :”The constitution of India gives us the right to eat any kind of food; BJP is taking away people’s right to food through this law. They are not only targeting Muslims with this bill, but also the large tribal population of the state (of MP).” One of the main reasons for the Karnataka bill, claimed C T Ravi of the Karnataka BJP, is the likelihood of shortage of milk due to the “current rate of cow slaughter in the state”. This assertion is refuted strongly by Mustafa Beig, a researcher and political analyst, and Convener of the United Forum for Public Awareness: “There is a 2007 report of the cattle census in the Department of Animal
The majority of the states’ populations will be directly affected, causing a daily loss of about minimum of 4 crores to a large section of the poor and marginalised population in Karnataka alone who are bound to become restive at the loss of thier livelihoods. Husbandry that has been kept unpublished because it will give the lie to this claim: the report says that between 2003 and 2007, the number of cattle in the state actually grew from 95 lakh to 1.49 crore”, he says. “No one sells milch cattle which are worth over 15,000/- to be slaughtered, so the claim is totally specious”. It is a myth to think that this will only affect the minorities – mostly Muslims and Christians, as it is popularly and wrongly believed will be the most affected, as it is they who slaughter the cattle and use it as a means of livelihood and a source of low-cost protein. These Bills have grave implications for the majority of the people of both states. In actual fact, it is the livelihoods of large sections of the poorer sections : farmers; cattle traders, transporters, loaders, etc; milk producers, especially those who have taken loans to purchase milch cattle – who are mostly women in SGHs; the leather industry, the pharma industry, the meat producers and sellers who include a large section of the economically weaker section and most Dalits. In the case of milk producers, their
profitability will be adversely affected as they will be forced to care for male crossbred calves which are considered surplus and sold, because they are not suitable to be used in agriculture. This will cause a rise in cost of milk to the consumer in the short term. As milk producers will be faced with caring for economically unproductive aged cows they will stop rearing cattle, in the medium term this will result in lowered milk production, thus adding to the higher cost of milk and milk products, directly affecting the general population. In fact, farmer’s groups have already raised a demand for
As farmers and cattle rearers will no longer be able to sell their culled cattle they will be forced to either look after them at thier own expense, with no hope of Economic gain. government to grant a kind of subsidy for rearing aged and unproductive cattle. Add to this the fact that the price of milk has gone up by three rupees a litre in early January 2012, in Karnataka. To get a further idea of what this implies, let us look at the economic implications of the proposed blanket ban on cattle slaughter, in the state of Karnataka: It is estimated that every day, all over the state, about 20,000 culled : that is, economically unproductive cattle – are slaughtered in about 10,000 shops, resulting in the production of about 2 lakh kgs of meat, worth about 2 crore. Other byproducts, including the Hides, Bones, Horns, hooves, sinews etc are also generated worth about 1 crore. These byproducts are also the raw materials for the leather, pharma, and sugar industry which will be directly affected. The common man will feel the impact as a rise in the cost of products like iron and calcium supplements, shoes, handbags, and sugar. It is estimated that the production of meat from cattle directly and indirectly employs about 12 lakh persons, mostly from the poor and marginalised sections : landless and marginal rural individuals who buy, sell and transport cattle, producers and vendors of meat and byproducts, etc. As farmers and cattle rearers will no longer be able to sell their culled cattle they will be forced to either look after them at thier own expense, with no hope of economic gain. This will discourage them from rearing cattle and will actually cause a decline in the cattle population. Culling of animals is a scientific and economically prudent method of managing livestock which is adopted worldwide. The ecological impact of keeping lakhs of economically unproductive cattle alive, fed and watered, daily increasing by 20,000 in Karnataka alone, has to be considered. Imagine the huge state of Madhya Pradesh dealing with this situation. “ Where there is less and less arable soil and water, how and where does the state government plan to find the fodder and water to meet the needs of these unproductive cattle?” asks Mustafa Beig, adding that there is a present shortage of 150 lakh mt of grain for cattlefeed alone, not to speak of the huge demand-supply gap of both green and dry fodder for the existing, economically productive cattle.
Further, what is the government’s plan for the disposal of the carcasses after the cattle die a natural death? will they bury or cremate them? Who will pay for the cost of these? What about the air, water and soil pollution that will be caused as a result? The government offers go rakshana shalas run by charitable trusts attached to religious mutts as an alternative means of “pensioning off” these cattle. But critics say that is is a creative means of transferring public lands and public resources to these religious institutions, with total lack of transparency. On the contrary, says Sardar Ahmed Quraishi, President of the Tippu Sultan United Front, it is a way to impoverish and criminalise the 12 lakh population of the poor and marginalised, mostly minority and Dalit population whose livelihoods are based on the economy around the slaughter of economically unproductive cattle. “After all, when the animal is old, no body is going to look after it. We are giving it “mukti”, he says. James, a young Dalit Activist, is more graphic. “You (upper castes) take the best of the cow – its labour, its milk, its offspring, and sell it after you have no use for it. When we find ways to use this resource, you attack us and even kill us (referring to the killing of 5 Dalits in Jhajjar, Haryana, in 2008, who were skinning the carcass of a cow after purchasing it). You are taking our livelihoods from us, even though we make it out of the waste you discard. Is this justice?” “This law will take away to food from the poor who cannot afford to buy chicken or
What is the government’s plan for the disposal of the carcasses after the cattle die a natural death? will they bury or cremate them? Who will pay for the cost of these? What about the air, water and soil pollution that will be caused as a result? mutton, says another Dalit activist. “The cost of mutton, already high, will go up to one thousand rupees”, said Siddaramaiah, leader of the Opposition, during the Assembly debate. Thus you will be thrusting vegetarianism on the people. This is only possible in Hitler’s regime. Is yours a Hitler’s regime?” Thus it behoves the BJP governments in Karnataka and MP to pause and rethink before they bring such ill-advised laws into force. The state government’s real agenda of using the law to ride rough-shod over the rights of the minorities is hardly hidden. But it may become a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, as the bill will open a Pandora’s box. The majority of the states’ populations will be directly affected, causing a daily loss of about minimum of 4 crores to a large section of the poor and marginalised population in Karnataka alone who are bound to become restive at the loss of thier livelihoods. This will have a longterm effect on the social and political climate in the state, and adverse effects on the politics in the states and even the nation. Laws on cattle products are a red rag in this country: remember what led to the 1857 uprising in the Indian army. Will these laws contribute to a new uprising of the poor in India? (Courtesy: Catholic Social Forum)
January 16-31, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Lessons from Prison: What can we do? MPK Kutty
Several decades ago he kept the cartoonists of America busy. Nixon’s hatchet man, Dr Charles Colson, imprisoned for his role in the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, is today a renowned author and reformer known for founding the International Prison Fellowship working for prison reforms throughout the world. “Prisons are rotten holes—in America as well as in other countries I have visited. My first night in prison was a nightmare with the helpless feeling of being separated from the family, of man crowded together yet so desperately alone…of the stale odours from open urinals filling the air and violence too,” observed the former special counsel to President Nixon once reminiscing his days in prison which turned out to be a turning point in his life. Colson has received 15 honorary doctorates and in 1993 was awarded the Templeton Prize, the world's largest annual award (over $1 million) in the field of religion, given to a person who "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension". He donated this prize to further the work of Prison Fellowship, as he does all his speaking fees and royalties. As the prison population abounds, every country spends colossal amounts on prisons and prisoners. According to estimates prepared in the nineties, India has around 2,56,000 inmates in its 1500 jails. Today, it must be very much higher. Breeding ground ‘What is worse is that prisons function as breeding grounds of criminals. Petty offenders learn techniques of more violent and serious crimes from hardened criminals they are bunched with. In most countries the recidivism—that is, the number of persons who returned to prison once they are
released –is 70 to 80 per cent. or more. The failure of prisons to change moral behaviour illustrates that crime is a problem of the human heart and cannot be remedied by programmatic solutions or institutionalization. Colson believes that the only way to have an impact on crime is to change the mora values by which people live. At the heart of every crime is a moral choice resulting from man’s fallen nature. When men and women discover this concept and when their eyes are opened to the possibilities of a standard of values and worth they can live upto they change. Decades of prison reform activities all over the globe have conclusively proved that men’s hearts can be changed and hardened criminals can again become useful members of society through moral and correctional instruction and inculcation of spiritual values. Since it was founded in 1976, the Prison Fellowship has employed a multifaceted strategy to break the cycle of crime . Volunteers under the programme visit the prisons, impart moral and spiritual instructions to change their lives. Viable inprison work programmes , training in various skills especially for those nearing release , material help to prisoners’ families including education of the children are some of the means employed to lessen the tragedy of imprisonment in all parts of the world. Criminal laws: “The fellowship has striven to bring about changes in criminal laws and procedures which entail unjust suffering. It is remarkable that its championing of the cause of human rights has won such recognition from the United Nations as to provide it a place of honour in that organization. No conquering army can destroy evil; legislation can not wish it away. Yet from
Brazil comes revealing attempts by businessmen to check crimes by street children by hiring gangsters for their physical elimination. The news reflects not only the menace of growing lawlessness and also equally senseless and brutal ways of checking the same The prison fellowship sets to employ the law of love to destroy evil; it seeks to bring about reconciliation among men and women overcome with hatred. Honours: In July last year, the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University presented him the first Mann Medal in Ethics and Leadership in recognition of his work in penal system reform and for serving prisoners and their families. It may be recalled that Colson thoughts of the ministry entered his mind after serving seven months in 1974 in Alabama’s Maxwell Prison. A presidential assistant in the Richard Nixon administration, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his involvement in the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. His offence related to deliberate defaming of Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was one of the journalists championing the anti-Vietnam war movement at that time. Another charge against him was that he had even employed thugs to break up anti- Vietnam war protestors. Through the Prison Fellowship ministries Colson seeks to provide prisoners the opportunity to know the transforming power of Jesus Christ that he experienced after becoming a Christian. The Prison Fellowship’s main method for achieving its mission, according to its website, is in equipping and empowering local churches and volunteers to reach out to prisoners, ex-
prisoners and their families with the love and hope of Christ. In addition, the organization through the Angel Tree program partners with thousands of churches to serve incarcerated parents and their families in the community, restoring the bonds that were broken and protecting prisoners’ children from falling prey to the generational cycle of crime. Life sentence In the preface of his well known book, Life Sentence, Dr Colson wrote of his goals in becoming a communicator through his books. Here I quote: *That my own experiences –the triumphs and failures, the questions with which I have wrestled and some answers I have learnt, the challenges I see—may encourage others to grow in their faith and commitment. *That the renewal in our churches turns them into mighty instruments for God’s transforming work in our society. *That many thousands of spiritually renewed people begin to visit the prisons of America , bringing light and hope into dark and despair filled cells. *That Christians might assault all areas of human need with compassion of Him who died on the cross for all mankind. *That a doubting cynical world will be drawn to countless examples of Christians living out their faith, caring and sacrificing for one another, and will see that this does make a difference in all of life. *That Christians will reject shallow faith and will hunger and thirst after righteousness through the authority of Holy Scripture , the person of Jesus Christ , the power of the Holy Spirit. I had the privilege of meeting this illustrious Christian leader, author and public speaker when he visited India in the nineties. His biography, Born Again, has also been turned into a film.
Letters to the Editor Dear Editor,
Do you want to criticize or appreciate us? Send your comments to the Editor at : email@example.com or to - The Editor, Praise The Almighty, C-6/141, Sector 5, Rohini, Delhi-110085
Every act of faith, whether it is small or big, there will be a result and reward. Some actions of faith would be rewarded instantly, some at a very belated date. The Rewarder is the time-keeper, so we can't question His authority and timing.
Arnold James rightly said to honour the nurses. Even though the heaven has recognized and honoured their selfless sacrifice in saving Dear Editor, other humanbeings in jeopardy, their fellow human beings have Firstly, I should thank you for sending the soft copy of the esteemed moral and social responsibility to honor them inevery possible avenue. Christian magazine in my e-mail. Then God would be pleased with us for undertaking our responsibility. Secondly, I should thank you for coming out with enlightening articles and news about the condition of Christians especially Kandhamal, A.S. Mathew Odisha. Ring Gold, Georgia, USA Last,but not the least thank you for the article on faith.It is my prayer that we all should face the new year with more faith in the Almighty God. I am delighted to read MPK Kutty'swonderful article in the beginning of Dear Editor, the new year. May God continue to inspire you to pen down more and I agree with Mr. Arnold James. It would be nice if Government more inspiring articles. consider to recognise them so that other can get inspiration. With regards ThangzalunKhuptong New Delhi
Rev. Morrison Rose New Delhi
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Dozens of Christians killed in new wave of bombings in Nigeria
Christians have been targeted in a wave of bombings over the past 24 hours in Nigeria, killing at least 29 people in four separate attacks over Friday evening and Saturday morning. Reports are describing hundreds fleeing Christian areas in north-east Nigeria in the latest wave of attacks on Christians by Islamist fundamentalist group Boko Haram. The bombings come following a recent threat from Boko Haram, which issued a warning to Christians in Nigeria that they had three days to flee the north of the country or they would be slaughtered. Nigeria is split between the mostly Islamic north region, and the majority Christian south. However, Boko Haram has given the death threat even though thousands of Christians were born and lived in the north all their lives. Recent sectarian attacks, coupled with the threat of more violence from the Islamic group, has led Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of
emergency in Yobe and Borno states, as well as Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the west. Boko Haram has increased its attacks against Christians over recent months in the hope of driving them out of the north to create a completely Muslim region. The group killed more than 500 people in 2011, of which a majroity were Christian, although the group also has focused its attacks on public locations and state-run bodies such as police stations. Nigerian President Jonathan has vowed to take a hard-line to crack down on the Islamic group’s attacks, but has been criticized widely for not doing enough to protect the obviously vulnerable Christian communities in the north. In the latest wave of attacks, at least 17 people died in Mubi, Adamawa when Boko Haram gunmen rushed into a town hall and opened fire on a Christian group holding a meeting there. Authorities are sure to be criticized for not providing more protection, as the Christian group were meeting together to discuss transportation and funeral plans of a local man shot dead by terrorist gunmen just on Thursday evening. “It was while they were holding the meeting that gunmen came and opened fire on them,” a local resident has reported, according to the BBC.
42 per cent of Indian children ... children, about half are severely stunted and about half of all children are underweight or stunted by the time they are two years. However, the number of underweight children has decreased from 53 to 42 per cent in the past seven years – the last study on the subject was done in 2004. Dr. Singh said, “This 20 per cent decline in malnourishment in the last seven years is better than the rate of decline reported in the National Family Health Survey-III. However, what concerns me is that 42 per cent of our children are still underweight. This is an unacceptably high occurrence.” “POSITIVE CHANGE” Conducted across 112 rural districts, the survey found “positive change for child nutrition in India is happening, including in the 100 Focussed Districts.” The 100 Focus Districts are located across Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – states which perform the worst on child nutrition. The survey notes that the prevalence of malnutrition is significantly higher among children from low-income families. It found that children from Muslim or SC/ST households generally had worse nutrition indicators. Birth weight is an important risk-factor for child malnutrition, says the report. The prevalence of underweight in children born with a weight below 2.5 kg is 50 per cent, while that among children born with a weight above 2.5 kg is 34 per cent. LOW AWARENESS The survey found that awareness among mothers about nutrition is low — “92 per cent mothers had never heard the word malnutrition.”
Highlighting the negligence shown towards girl children even in their early childhood, the report says the nutrition advantage girls have over boys in the first months of life seems to be reversed over time as they grow older. According to the survey, the mothers' education level also determines children's nutrition.‘Giving colostrum to newborn not commonly practised' The Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) report says that giving colostrum to the newborn and exclusive breastfeeding for first 6 months of a child's life are not commonly practised. “About 51 per cent of the mothers did not give colostrum to the newborn soon after birth and 58 per cent mothers fed water to their infants before six months,” notes the survey. It emphasises need to provide better services through anganwadi centres. While a total of 96 per cent of villages had their own anganwadi centres, only 61 per cent operate in pucca buildings. “The anganwadi services accessed by the largest proportion of mothers [86 per cent] is immunisation; 61 per cent of anganwadi centres had dried rations available and 50 per cent provided food on the day of survey; only 19 per cent of mothers reported that the anganwadi centre provides nutrition counselling to parents,” it says. Dr. Singh said the country had not succeeded in reducing malnutrition levels fast enough. “Though the Integrated Child Development Scheme continues to be our most important tool to fight malnutrition, we can no longer rely solely on it.”
January 16-31, 2012 A further 10 Christians were killed in a church attack in Yola, which is the capital of Adamawa. Boko Haram has already announced that it carried out the attacks in Mubi and Yola, in addition to killing six earlier this week in Gombe. Gunmen also opened fire on a bank, and on a police HQ in Potiskum, in Yobe state, but were fought back by security forces. Boko Haram has warned that it is ready to confront soldiers sent to engage them under the state of emergency declared by Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan. “We will confront them squarely to protect our brothers,” said Abul Qaqa, a spokesperson of Boko Haram. He also called for Muslims living in southern Nigeria to come back to the north, citing evidence that they could be attacked. President Jonathan has shut down
borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the northeast in response to multiple violent attacks aimed at Christians in Nigeria, including a Christmas day attack that left 37 people dead and 57 wounded. Boko Haram, which is reported to have ties with al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for the killings. In response President Jonathan has vowed to “crush” the group. He said they began as a harmless group, but has now grown cancerous. Boko Haram, which means “Western civilization is forbidden,” wants an imposition of Islamic Shariah law across Nigeria. David Cook, of Rice University, who has studied the rise of Boko Haram, has claimed that radical Muslim violence could take hold of the country and eventually spark a civil war in Nigeria, a top oil producer and Africa’s most populated nation.
Christmas marked by hostility for many Christians Christmas 2011 was not so much a time of peace and joy but violence and hostility for many Christians around the world, the international director of Barnabas Fund has said. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is asking Christians to pray for believers who experienced attacks, intimidation or detention during the festive season. Christmas Day attacks on churches in Nigeria killed at least 50 people. Islamic militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were
condemned by the international community and reported widely in the media. Lesser known acts of violence over Christmas include an acid attack on a church leader in Uganda. Umar Mulinde had acid thrown in his face outside his church in Kampala on Christmas Eve, causing severe burns to the right side of his face, neck and arms. It is believed that Mulinde, a former Muslim sheikh, was attacked because of his conversion and open stand against the introduction of Kadhi – or Sharia – courts in 16
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Obama suffers defeat in Supreme Court
Jan 11. 2012 Spero - In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that churches are entitled to make employment decisions without interference by the government. In doing so, the high court affirmed what is known as the doctrine of “ministerial exception,” the long-standing right of churches to be shielded from discrimination lawsuits brought by employees. In statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop William E. Lori of Connecticut said it was a "great day for the First Amendment." He serves as chairm of the conference's committee on religious liberty. “It’s a great day for the First Amendment,” said Bishop Lori on January 11, after the Supreme Court voted. The USCCB was concerned that the federal government, failing this decision, would have been able to determine who can serve as ministers in churches and temples. In a statement, Bishop Lori declared "The Supreme Court decision marks a victory for religious liberty and the U.S. Constitution. Freedom of Religion is America’s First
Freedom and the Court has spoken unanimously in favor of it. The Founding Fathers would be proud. Respect for the longstanding “ministerial exception,” which is grounded in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and prevents the government from interfering in the employment relationship between a Church and its ministers. This decision makes resoundingly clear the historical and constitutional importance of keeping internal church affairs off limits to the government—because whoever chooses the minister chooses the message. It’s a great day for the First Amendment." Also speaking to the issue was Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, an advocacy organization based in New York. In a statement, Donohue said, "This is a great victory for religious liberty and a huge defeat for the Obama administration. Last October, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case, the Obama administration’s lawyer proved to be such a secular zealot that she stunned even the more liberal members of the high court. Leondra R. Kruger made such an extremist argument that she even got Justice Elena Kagan to agree wholeheartedly with Justice AntoninScalia. Had the Obama administration won, the government would have been able to order the Catholic Church to accept women priests. Looks like the old guard, entrenched in the 1960s, has lost again. Many thanks toLeondra for blowing it big time."
Venue: Thyagaraj Sports Complex Baba Ganganath Marg, Behind INA Market
Christmas marked by hostility... Uganda. In India, around 20 Hindu extremists attacked Christians in Karnataka State as they gathered for a meal on Christmas Day. The attackers forced their way into the home where the meal was being held and started to beat up the group of Christians, which included women and children. According to Barnabas Fund, some of the victims were seriously wounded. In Kandhamal, in Orissa State, the home of a young Christian couple was burned down on Christmas Eve as they attended a Christmas celebration in their village. In Mangalore, a nativity scene was set on fire, and in Karnataka, a prayer hall was damaged by extremists. Barnabas Fund has received reports of disruptions to church services in China. In Langzhong city, dozens of police officers broke up an unofficial Christmas Day service being held in a public square. Police reportedly fired tear gas at the worshippers and detained three of them. In Beijing, more than 30 members of Shouwang Church were detained by police for taking part in a public Christmas gathering. The church made international headlines last year after more than 100 members were detained when it tried to hold open-air services.
Authorities also detained around 50 members of unregistered churches in Dongyang, in Zhejiang Province, as they met to plan their Christmas gathering. The pastor and his son were reportedly beaten by the authorities. In Iran, authorities raided a Christmas service in Ahwaz. They rounded up the congregation, which included children attending the Sunday school, and detained them. Many of the group were interrogated before being released but the senior pastor, his wife and two other church leaders were taken into custody. Although the pastor’s wife has since been released, there has been no news of the other three. The children were said to have been left severely distressed by the incident. International Director of Barnabas Fund, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, said: “Once again, for many Christians around the world, the Christmas season has been a time not of peace and joy but of violence and hostility.” He called upon Christians to pray especially for believers in northern Nigeria. “Boko Haram's track record of violence makes it all too likely that they will follow up this threat with a religious cleansing of the North,” he said. “Please pray urgently for the protection of Christians in Northern Nigeria at this time.”