Navchetana launches Homilies through e-mail

November 28, 2012 by  
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Preaching the Word of God through modern technology.

Navchetana launches Homilies through e-mailMadhya Pradesh, November 21, 2012: Navchetana, the Madhya Pradesh Regional Communication Centre, Bhopal has launched a new website for Sunday and weekday homilies at a function in Bhopal.

Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio, inaugurating the new website said, “This new venture by Navchetana is yet another milestone in the history of Navchetana and it is a significant contribution to the Church in India”.

Wishing the programme every success and wide acceptance the Archbishop added that this new attempt will certainly enhance the quality of the homilies preached and listened to as it makes available for the preachers of the Word of God and the listening faithful relevant content and powerful method.

One can expect quality, depth and variety as these homilies will be prepared by expert preachers, bishops, theologians, priests and deacons in the service of the Word of God.

The programme was also attended by all bishops of M.P. and Major Superiors of M.P.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Anto Karokaren CMI, the Provincial of St. Paul Province, Bhopal lauded this innovative attempt and said as a communication centre Navchetana is entering a new phase today as it dedicates itself to the preaching of the Word of God through all modern technology available, reaching people far and near.

Dr. James Muttickal CMI, the Director of Navchetana explaining the scope of the launch of the homily website said, “Our pulpits shall never be the same as the preachers will have solid and substantial material to deliver. Even seasoned preachers will have enough material to delve into.

These Sunday and weekday homilies will be available from www.navchetana.com on the Thursday of every forthcoming week.”He said this is the first time in the country that homilies for all Sundays and weekdays of the whole liturgical year are electronically made available to benefit the clergy and the faithful.

These texts, he said, would also allow the preachers to amply exercise their own ingenuity and rhetoric in the delivery and make homilies all the more interesting, meditative and effective.

Fr. Dominic, CMI, a pastor and principal of a local Senior Secondary School, commenting on the new website expressed that the attempt by Navchetana is very welcome as it greatly relieves the clergy of a weekly constraint of preparing homilies. He recommended the Navchetana homilies as a ready reference for all who wonder “what to preach?”

Dr. Muttickal further explained that the present attempt is to prepare homilies in English on the readings of the Latin Ordo.Preparations are underway at Navchetana to soon launch homilies also in Hindi according to the Latin and Syro-Malabar liturgical calendars. He said the homilies are the collective work of bishops, eminent theologians, professors and priests from 28 countries.

The website is said to have received wide acclamation and overwhelming feed backs from all over.

– cri, james muttickal

JRD – a class apart

November 27, 2012 by  
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JRD Tata

It was probably the April of 1974. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies’ hostel. I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US. I had not thought of taking up a job in India.

One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile company Telco (now Tata Motors) It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.

At the bottom was a small line: “Lady candidates need not apply.” I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination.

Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers. Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful.

After reading the notice I went angrily to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco’s management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco. I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company’s chairman then).

I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote. “The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives. They have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating on the basis of gender.”

I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco’s Pune facility at the company’s expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mate told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs 30 each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

I went to Telco’s Pimpri office for the interview. There were six people on the panel and I realized then that this was serious business.

“This is the girl who wrote to JRD,” I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realization abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted.

Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, “I hope this is only a technical interview.”

They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude.

The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them. Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, “Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories.”

I answered, “But you must start somewhere otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.”

Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.

It was only after joining Telco that I realized who JRD was: the uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some reports to Mr Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw “appro JRD”. Appro means “our” in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which people at Bombay House called him.

I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, “Jeh (that’s what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate. She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.” JRD looked at me.

I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it). Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead, he remarked. “It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?” “When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,” I replied. “Now I am Sudha Murthy” He smiled kindly and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.

After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in awe of him.

One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back, I realize JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.

“Young lady, why are you here?” he asked. “Office time is over.” I said, “Sir, I’m waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.” JRD said, “It is getting dark and there’s no one in the corridor. I’ll wait with you till your husband comes.” I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.

I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn’t any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, “Look at this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee.”

Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, “Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.”

In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped.

He saw me and paused.

Gently, he said, “So what are you doing, Mrs Kulkarni?” (That was the way he always addressed me.)
“Sir, I am leaving Telco.”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I’m shifting to Pune.”
“Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.”
“Sir, I don’t know whether we will be successful.”

“Never start with diffidence,” he advised me. “Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. I wish you all the best.” Then JRD continued walking up the stairs I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.

Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did. I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco. Later, he wrote to me, “It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he’s not alive to see you today.”

I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters everyday. He could have thrown mine away, but he didn’t do that. He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.

Close to 50 per cent of the students in today’s engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments.

I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

My love and respect for the House of Tata remains undiminished by the passage of time. I always looked up to JRD. I saw him as a role model for his simplicity, his generosity, his kindness and the care he took of his employees. Those blue eyes always reminded me of the sky; they had the same vastness and magnificence.

Greatness does not depend upon doing difficult & great things, it depends entirely on doing small & simple but meaningful things…

Sudha Murthy is a widely published writer and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation involved in a number of social development initiatives. Infosys ex-chairman Narayan Murthy is her husband.

– fwd: allen johannes

 

Britons being trained for jihad in Syria

November 27, 2012 by  
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Omar Bakri

Omar Bakri

UK, November 25, 2012: Four British extremists are being trained to fight a jihad or holy war in Syria and Palestine, according to their trainer, a Syria-born hate preacher who has been banned from Britain.

The Britons are being trained at a camp run by 52-year-old Omar Bakri, The Sun reported.

Bakri has boasted of his military-style courses for Islamic fanatics on Syria’s border with Lebanon.

He said one British recruit was a computer programmer in his 20s from London, while another was a Midlands-based IT worker.

“Of the four, two of them have Syrian connections. But they are all born in Britain and have professional backgrounds. After their training they will do their duty of jihad (holy war) in Syria and maybe Palestine,” he told the daily.

Bakri came to Britain in 1986 and stayed till 2005. He had reportedly praised the 9/11 terror attacks.

The cleric also claimed to have trained many fighters from other countries, including Germany and France.

– ians

Nigeria: Blair, others launch initiative to curb religious acrimony

November 27, 2012 by  
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Religious tension in Nigeria

Religious tension in Nigeria

Nigeria, November, 23 2012: Former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, yesterday launched an initiative to improve relations between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria that is characterised by mutual suspicion and hostilities.

Blair, who is collaborating with the Archbishop Canterbury designate, Bishop Justin Welby, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan to bring people of the two religions closer, has reached out to leaders of the two groups in the country.

The task is being executed under the aegis of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, founded by the former PM.

As part of the efforts to achieve the objective, Blair, Welby and Muhammad took part in a videoconference between Muslim and Christian students to encourage greater dialogue and understanding between the religions.

The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, lauded the initiative, which they hoped would help in reducing rancour between adherents of the two religions.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan, who also spoke at the launch of the programme, described religious tension in the country as politically motivated.

The Blair initiative took off on a day Boko Haram, whose insurgency has worsened relations between Muslims and Christians, went on a killing spree in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, killing about eight persons.

Four other persons were also killed in Bichi, Kano State, during a clash between Muslims and Christians.

The initiative’s launch also occurred on day that the British Government imposed a ban on Boko Haram, accusing the sect of killing its citizen and an Italian national last March.

The Blair Foundation said in a statement that its work was aimed at breaking down barriers and giving the students the knowledge to resist extremist voices and ideology as a way of engendering long-term peace for the next generation in Nigeria.

“The Tony Blair Faith Foundation will embark on a plan of action with local Christian and Muslim faith leaders and young people,” the statement said.

According to the foundation, religious leaders and young people will work together, as well as with the foundation, to build sustainable co-existence through joint leadership, education and action on shared challenges, such as preventing deaths from malaria.

The statement described the foundation’s high school programme, titled ‘Face to Faith’, as a channel for bringing high school students together in over 19 countries so they can learn from each other directly; learn to respect difference – not fear it – and ultimately replace conflict with cooperation.

Blair, during the video conference, said understanding and respecting different faith were central to securing sustainable peace, particularly where those who seek to misuse religion for violent ends aim to destroy it.

“My foundation and I are deeply committed to addressing the challenges of religious reconciliation in Nigeria. Understanding and respecting different faith is central to securing sustainable peace, particularly where those who seek to misuse religion for violent ends aim to destroy it.

“Bishop Justin Welby has been doing extremely good work in Nigeria towards exactly this goal. I hope that over the coming months, the work he and my foundation do will go towards healing the rifts and divisions amongst faith in the country, bringing unity and peaceful co-existence,” he stated.

Welby, in his contribution, said he came to Nigeria for the first time 34 years ago and he had made over 70 visits since then.

“I am both challenged and profoundly excited by this initiative. In service to Nigeria, it offers a contribution to the hopeof peace across the whole country.

“It is a service, there is no question of bringing some external solutions, and peace and development in this country are always made possible only by Nigerians.

“Thank you for allowing me to contribute to the future of a country I admire and love,” he added.

Oritsejafor while thanking Blair for the initiative said the solution to religious violence lies with Nigerians.

He said there was no alternative to dialogue to resolve crisis, adding that dialogue must be progressive with set objectives achievable within a stipulated time.

He said he and the Sultan had an understanding of what needed to be done but the challenge was for them to pass the understanding to their followers.

In his remarks, the Sultan called on Nigerians to embrace peace, saying those who engage in religious violence are in the minority and the majority of Nigerians are peace loving and non-violent.

While expressing confidence in the ability of Nigerians to resolve the crisis in the country, he appealed to all compatriots to choose peace.

In his contribution, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Reverend Nicholas Okoh, said religion had become a victim in the hands of political predators.

According to him, religion has been misused and abused by politicians, adding that the greatest task before religious leaders is how to rescue religion from the hands of politicians.

Jonathan, represented by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple, blamed tension between Christians and Muslims on those exploiting their differences for political gains.

He expressed concern that young people were being seduced by false prophets and being led into the path of violence and hatred, just as he urged religious leaders to ensure that religion was not misused or abused to justify violence.

The president said: “Inter-religious dialogue is already playing an important role in our society. The Federal Government continues to promote religious harmony by constantly engaging the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, jointly chaired by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Sultan of Sokoto.

“While progress on this front is satisfactory, it must be pointed out that some of the religious tension in the country are politically motivated.

“We must now use both platforms to call on all believers to reject religiously anchored-violence, advance tolerance and promote mutual understanding.”

The president also stressed the imperatives of dialogue to engender peace and development.

Meanwhile, gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram yesterday raided houses in Maiduguri during which they reportedly killed eight persons.

According to a security source, the fundamentalists attacked two parts of the town, Polo and Bukar Lawan, searching for their targets.

During a raid on a target’s residence at about 7.30 am, the terrorists killed three of the man’s children when they discovered that he was not at home.

They were said to have equally moved into a neighbouring house, which they set ablaze when they could not find the occupant.

At Lawan Bukar, the sect members were said to have gone on a killing spree, prompting inhabitants of the area to flee their residences.

It was gathered that at the end of the siege on the area, which lasted for 30 minutes, five persons were killed and several others injured.

Attempts to get an official confirmation were unsuccessful as the spokesperson of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, could not be reached on his mobile phones.

Yesterday was also a bloody day in Bichi where four persons were killed, many others injured and property destroyed in a clash between Muslims and Christians.

The crisis, according to a resident who craved anonymity, started following a blasphemous remark a Christian tailor was said to have made about Islam.

The remark, it was learnt, angered his customer, said to be a Muslim, who mobilised others to attack the tailor. This led to a free-for-all between adherents of the two religions.

Normalcy was restored a few hours later following the deployment of a combined team of soldiers and policemen.

But the state Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, said nobody was killed during the clash, adding, “The tailor that was alleged to have uttered the blasphemous statement has been rescued and taken to a safe place.

“We quickly mobilised the local Imams who tried their best to see that people were calmed down. And with the help of the community leaders, we were able to restore normalcy and we were able to rescue the innocent tailor, in whose shop the whole thing started.”

As sect continues to grow in in notoriety, the British Interior Ministry last night placed a ban on the Boko Haram set, accusing the group of murdering its citizen and an Italian.

A source at the Interior Ministry who made the announcement described the sect as “a Nigeria-based terrorist organisation motivated by an anti-Nigerian government and anti-Western agenda”.

The ban may not be unconnected with the murder of Chris McManus, a Briton and an Italian citizen, Franco Lamolinara, leading to a diplomatic row between the Italian government and UK officials a few months back.

“An order has been approved today by parliament which will proscribe Boko Haram from midnight on Thursday evening, making membership of, and support for, the organisation a criminal offence,” said a source.

Reuters quoted the UK Minister of State for Immigration, Mark Harper, as informing the British parliament that the group should be held accountable for the murder of the two men.

Harper was said to have told the parliament, “It is believed to be responsible for the murders of British national, Christopher McManus, and his Italian co-worker Franco Lamolinara, in March 2012.”

– all africa

Vatican to beatify Indian lay martyr

November 27, 2012 by  
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The Kottar diocese in the state is gearing up for the significant event on Dec. 2.

Devasahayam Pillai Tamil Nadu, November 26, 2012: The Vatican would next month pronounce Devasahayam Pillai, an 18th century Hindu convert to Catholicism in Tamil Nadu, as ‘Blessed’.

The Kottar diocese in the state is gearing up for the significant event on Dec. 2.

The event is expected to draw nearly 100,000 people from across the state.

Forty bishops of the church, priests and religious people all over are also expected to join the celebrations.

Pillai is celebrated as the martyr of the diocese who is believed to have been killed for professing Catholic faith in the 18th century.

Pope Benedict had in June recognized Pillai as a martyr for faith and made him a venerable, the second stage in the Catholic Church’s four-tier canonization process.

“Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints under whom the appeal for beatification of Pillai was scrutinised will be the main celebrant of the grand Holy Mass,” said Fr. A. Gabriel, the priest of the diocese.

The priest had been heading the local committee working for the beatification process in the diocese.

Cardinal Amato in his earlier communication stated that Pillai will be the first Indian martyr for faith who will be given the title of ‘Blessed’.

Pillai stuck to his faith till his death and he is an example for the Catholic Church in India, the cardinal had stated.

Along with Cardinal Amato, Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Cardinal Telespore Toppo will attend the beatification ceremony.

Fr. Gabriel said that efforts for the beatification of Pillai started as soon he was martyred and the then Bishop Clement Joseph of Cochin submitted a report to the Vatican in 1756.

Later, the laity of the diocese started taking efforts in a full-fledged manner and formed a local committee called Catholic Club at Nagercoil in 1984 and the continuous efforts of the diocese and the laity have yielded the results.

“It is a great honour that Devasahayam Pillai is to be beatified and we are eagerly preparing for the event,” Fr. Gabriel said.

– times of india

CSF: Why not English? – “Make Urdu second national language of India”

November 27, 2012 by  
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Children studying UrduBihar, November 25, 2012: Urdu Council of India’s president Shamail Nabi, Kochadhaman RJD MLA Akhtar-ul-Iman, former Vice-Chancellor of Magadh University Dr. Major Balbeer Singh “Mureed” addressed a press conference today in Patna demanding that Urdu be declared second national language of India.”

Officially India doesn’t have a national language but Hindi is considered as such.

Shamail Nabi charged the government for intentionally undermining Urdu. He said to push for the demand of Urdu to be made second national language of India, a nationwide Urdu conference is planned for February 2013.

Akhtar-ul-Iman said that Urdu in Bihar has suffered even after it was declared as one of the official languages of the state. He blamed state government for lack of Urdu teachers, Urdu books, and Urdu-medium schools. He demanded Urdu be made a compulsory language in Matric examination.

“Urdu is not just the language of the Muslims but language for the whole nation,” argued Major Balbeer Singh “Mureed.” To make sure Urdu survives in India, it is important that it is taught in school and there is efficient system in place for its teaching and learning. He charged that “Nitish government has declared in a conference on Oct 7, 2009 that there will be a Urdu teacher in every school but not only it has not fulfilled its promise but it has failed to even replace teachers who have retired.”

– tcn

Organic farming – The need of the hour

November 27, 2012 by  
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Harvesting Sonapiya rice cropAamir Khan’s TV Programme, Satyameva Jayate – Episode 8 was captioned, “Toxic Food-Poison On Our Plate”. This was an eye-opener which sent shivers down the spine of many. Everything we eat has more poison by way of artificial manures and chemical pesticides than acceptable norms. Even mother’s milk which is sacred and considered safe and best for the baby is contaminated 800% more than approved or permissible limits, by the food she eats. Every item of food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and even our soil is polluted with deadly chemicals and pesticides. Cancer, miscarriages, cerebral palsy are some of the common results of such slow poisoning. At least 67 banned pesticides are still being used clandestinely in India today.  “400% more than permissible limits of this cocktail of pesticides is going into our bodies. What do we do in such a situation?” queried septuagenarian Mrs. Vaze.

Tarumitra Students’ Forum for the Environment, at Digha Ghat, Patna, Bihar started an experiment in Organic Farming in collaboration with St Xavier’s College at XTTI in January 2012. Four students from the Zamorano University in Central America together with Ms Margaret, Mr Kanchan and team from Tarumitra experimented by planting onions. This was a big failure.

Undaunted, realising that the land was fallow, their effort was to make the land fertile by using mulching with dry leaves and old newspaper. Mulching protects the top soil from direct sunlight and heavy rain. It increases the fertility of the land as well as controls weeds. Students from St. Xavier’s College helped out. Delhi Public School and Don Bosco Academy students joined the enthusiastic gang. Potatoes grew well and the first harvest was encouraging. Two Belgian students from Ghent University chipped in with their expertise of Pit, Pile and Vermi composting together with Solid Waste Management for organic farming. They planted green gram and got a bumper crop which was harvested and threshed by students from Bettiah.

At the end of summer, four A.N College interns experimented by planting three rare traditional local heirloom rice varieties of Bihar-Mirchaiya from Champaran, Sonapiya and Kalinga from Latehar which are almost extinct. These local varieties have resistance against diseases, adapt to climate changes, and need less water and less time for maturing. They used the SRI (System of Rice Intensive i.e. One seedling per foot) Method for transplantation and organic manure. Integrated Pest Management was followed. Sticks were planted to attract birds like Drongos to eat the insects on the rice crop.

Natural insect repellents and bio-pesticides were made from neem, custard apple and Karanj leaves together with water and fresh cow dung and sprayed on the rice crop to combat pests. Many students joined to weed the fields as the crops flourished. Kalinga rice sprouted grains and matured in 60 days. Mr George and Ms Margaret (TM staff) counted 140 grains for every ear of rice. This was harvested by Gyan Jyoti Public School and threshed by AVN High School students. Both were well organized and were a happy and memorable life time experience for many. Student farmers took turns to thresh by beating the sheaves of grain. Great slogans, jingles and songs were composed on the spot, extempore and shouted by all.

On 21st November 2012, thirty-five students from Hartmann School and 19 students from St. Joseph’s harvested the Sonapiya crop of rice under the guidance of two interns who worked in the field for three months. However, both Sonapiya and Mirchaiya took 120 days to mature. With sickle in hand , singing Magahi harvesting songs and slogans, the slushy fields upholding the golden ears of grain came alive and transformed itself into a festival gathering. On 22nd and 23rd November 142 B.Ed and M.Ed students and a few staff from St Xavier’s College harvested the Mirchaiya rice crop.

The co-ordinator of the Cultivation Programme Ms Margaret Molomoo and Mr Kanchan Pathak exclaimed, “We are thrilled that the Mirchaiya variety has yielded over 250 grains on each ear of rice.” “This is one of the best I have seen in my life,” said veteran farmer Fr Cherubim Sah, while Ghatta and Vikas from A. N College remarked, “It has been exciting and memorable to think that we have grown rice in the middle of a metro!” Anjali of class VIII from Hartmann School said that it was her first experience of actual harvesting in a rice field. “I enjoyed harvesting the Mirchaiya rice crop. The aroma was tempting”, said B.Ed student Malhar of St Xavier’s B.Ed College.

Sanjita and Kiran from St Joseph’s, who got a few cuts and bruises on their hands, commented that they would bargain anytime for another occasion to harvest rice with students of various schools. “Our concern for Bio-diversity is the sole reason for us to get involved” said Sanjita. “Of the 20,000 varieties of rice we had in the country, today we cultivate less than a 100 in the whole state. This is certainly alarming,” said Ms Molomoo who was trained under Master Fukuoka in Japan in organic farming. “Students from other schools will continue the harvest festival. Several schools have promised to send their students for the fun-filled threshing as soon as the sheaves are dry,” said Mr D.N Prasad.

Organic farming is the need of the hour and the signs of the times. Pesticides are necessary because of monocultures. Two lakh fifty thousand farmers have committed suicide, as a result of hybrid breeds of rice and other crops, the use of chemical fertilizers and too much of pesticides. Pests have become resistant to pesticides thereby demanding the need for stronger pesticides. Repeated applications of chemical manures and pesticides has degraded fertility and poisoned (slow poisoning) the land to such an extent that it can yield no more despite ever increasing amounts of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Natural allies like earthworms, red wrigglers and even non- vegetarian pests have disappeared, cultivation becomes expensive and suicide is often the only way out to escape the large debts these farmers incur.

The state of Sikkim is a model for a pest free state. It is an organic state. Political will can bring about immense change. If Sikkim can do it, the whole of India can follow suit. Government subsidies must increase for organic farming. Let us heighten awareness about the dangers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, promote organic farming and diversity and buy organic food despite the fact that it may be little more expensive. Only then can farmers growing organic crops survive! Only when the demand is great will the supply of organic food increase. Can we give organic farming a chance?

– Dr (Sr) Mudita Sodder RSCJ (With inputs from Dr (Fr) Robert Athickal SJ-Co-ordinator, Tarumitra Ashram and Bio-Reserve Centre).

Shun the worldly logic of power: Pope to new cardinals

November 27, 2012 by  
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He asked them to stick to spreading the gospel.

Pope Benedict XVI Vatican City, November 26, 2012: Pope Benedict XVI has told the six newly elevated cardinals that all Catholic leaders should shun the “worldly logic of power” and stick to spreading the gospel.

The pope presided at a solemn mass in St Peter’s Basilica with the new cardinals from India, the United States, Nigeria, the Philippines, Lebanon and Colombia yesterday, a day after they became cardinals at a ceremony known as a consistory.

“To be disciples of Jesus, then, means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God’s love,” he said.

“To you, dear and venerable brother cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth,” the pope added.

The new cardinals are Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of the Syro-Malankara rite, American Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon and Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja.

Indian women at the mass wore saris and African women wore traditional dresses.

Prayers were read in Arabic, Hindi, Yoruba and Tagalog as well as English, French and Italian.

“I think it’s about time that we have a diverse and more colourful bunch of cardinals,” said Leslie Ryan, a pilgrim who attended the consistory.

– ndtv

Where to get Happiness – Author Unknown

November 26, 2012 by  
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King with his minister

There are two ways of being rich. One is to have all you want, & the other is to be satisfied with what you have. It’s impossible for any of us to go through life without either increasing or diminishing somebody’s happiness.A small house will hold as much happiness as a big house, & that is because there are two things that contribute to happiness: What we can do without & what we can do with.

There is an Eastern tale of a wealthy king who ruled a vast domain, lived in a magnificent palace & had a luxurious court. In spite of all his authority & power, & in spite of his extensive possessions, he was very unhappy.

Among the servants in his court there was a renowned sage whose counsel the king frequently asked in times of difficulty & crisis. This sage was summoned to the king’s presence. The monarch asked him how to get rid of his anxiety & depression of spirits, how he might be really happy, for he was sick in body & mind.

The sage replied, “There is but one cure for the king. Your Majesty must sleep one night in the shirt of a happy man.”

Messengers were dispatched throughout the realm to search for a man who was truly happy. But everyone who was approached had some cause for misery, something that robbed them of true & complete happiness.

At last they found a man, a poor beggar, who sat smiling by the roadside &, when they asked him if he were really happy & had no sorrows, he confessed that he was a truly happy man.

Then they told him what they wanted. The king must sleep one night in the shirt of a happy man, & had given them a large sum of money to procure such a shirt. Would he sell them his shirt that the king might wear it?

The beggar burst into uncontrollable laughter, & replied, “I am sorry I cannot oblige the king. I haven’t a shirt on my back.”

If you cannot find happiness along the way, you will not find it at the end of the road.
Happiness is not something you have in your hands; it is something you carry in your heart.

– vathan shettigar

Charity boss discovers the real truth of poverty

November 26, 2012 by  
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The head of a major Catholic charity found it difficult to live on the national benefit allowance – and impossible to live healthily.

US food stampsUnited States, November 23, 2012: The head of Catholic Charities in D.C. recently experienced the struggle of low-income families relying on food stamps, noting that Christian charity lends vital support to those in need.??“Most of us don’t have a real sense of what it’s like to be on food stamps,” said Fr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

From Oct. 9 – Oct. 15, Fr. Enzler participated in D.C. Hunger Solutions’ Food Stamp Challenge, pledging to spend only $30 on food for one week, the average amount allotted to recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

He told CNA that the experience allowed him to stand in solidarity with those in need, while also increasing his awareness of the challenges that face families and individuals who are trying to survive on food stamps.

Throughout the week, he experienced the struggle to be well-fed and healthy on such a small budget. In particular, he said, it was “really difficult” to eat nutritious food.

For Fr. Enzler, a typical dinner often consists of a small piece of chicken or fish with some vegetables. But he discovered that this is “almost impossible” on about four dollars per day.

Maintaining a healthy diet is “what made it really hard for me,” he said.

And while he could have cut costs by eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or more canned food, it struck him that the situation would be much less manageable over a longer period of time.

“This is just one week for me,” he said, while food stamp recipients must deal with these choices all year long.

The other big challenge for Fr. Enzler came over the weekend, when he was invited out to eat with some friends.

While he tried to limit his spending, it still pushed him over his allotted budget, and he ended up spending about $37 by the end of the week. Many people don’t realize that food stamp recipients often can’t go out to eat, he observed.

In most states, food stamps cannot be used at restaurants, and even cheap restaurants are difficult to manage on such a tight budget.

While eating out is a common way to relax after a long day or enjoy time with friends, a single outing could easily cost nearly half of your weekly food budget, he noted.

“You can’t go to restaurants,” he said.” You can’t have a beer. You can’t go out with your friends.”

Fr. Enzler said that the food stamp challenge helped him to “get a sense of what it’s like” for those who struggle to stay well-nourished in the U.S.

– cna

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