Mangalore diocese hailed for its yeoman contributions to faith and society *Shining edifice of growing faith

February 13, 2012 by  
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Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda in Manglore dioceseKarnataka, February 13, 2012: Nearly 50,000 people, including 25 prelates and 300 priests, took part in the centenary silver jubilee celebrations of Mangalore diocese, known as the Vatican of the east.

Addressing a sea of humanity at the Nehru Maidan Sunday evening, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), lauded the efforts of the diocese for taking up many novel projects.

The cardinal, who is also the Archbishop of Bombay, said that the nation as well as the universe is proud of Mangalore diocese.

Presiding over the programme, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio praised its efforts in starting medical and engineering colleges, educational institutions and other projects for welfare of the needy.

Earlier, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Secretary for Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, a special guest from the Vatican, said that he could testify that Jesus is amidst the huge crowd of people.

Terming the 125 years celebrations as a huge ‘success,’ he said “success is a journey and it’s not a destination.”

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the state government would provide a sum of 500 million rupees for the welfare of the Christians and promised more later.

Paying rich tributes, Union Minister M Veerappa Moily said “Wherever I go, be it North India or South India, I find a priest working for the poor.”

Earlier, a concelebrated Mass was held.

Archbishop Hon Tai-Fai felicitated 24 bishops and archbishops who had come from different parts of the country to take part in the celebrations. They included Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi who hails from Mangalore.

The diocese has produced 42 bishops and nearly 4,000 priests and religious since its institution.

‘Chaithanyodaya,’ a dance, drama was performed by 300 artistes which introduced the rich history of the diocese to mark the close of the centennial silver jubilee celebrations.

– deccan herald

Shining edifice of growing faith


The 125-year old Mangalore diocese is rich in history and faithKarnataka, February 11, 2012: The 125-year old Mangalore diocese is rich in history and faith 
From battling legendary emperor Tipu Sultan’s allegations of supporting British colonials in the 18th century to present-day proselytization charges, the Mangalore diocese has weathered many a storm in its 125 years of existence.

Over the years, the diocese has also ushered in many generational changes. As an acknowledgment of its achievements, Vatican officials will be present during the concluding celebrations of its centennial jubilee on Feb 11-12.

The diocese boasts of having sent more than 4,000 laborers into the Lord’s vineyard.

“According to recent diocese survey, more than 4000 priests and nuns of Mangalorean origin serve various dioceses and religious congregations,” said Father Onil D’Souza, director of NGO Canara Organisation of Development and Peace.

Till now 42 of its prelates have served different dioceses in India and abroad.

Present nuncio of Ivory Coast, Archbishop Ambroze Madtha hails from Mangalore’s Belthangady village. Retired nuncio of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Peter Paul Prabhu Pinto as well as Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore-Pakistan hail from Mangalore.

“On September 1, 1886, Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy by virtue of which Mangalore became an independent diocese with Italian Jesuit Maria Pagani being its first bishop,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore Diocese.

“The new diocese brought in the feeling of ‘our own church’ amidst the Catholics giving openings to multilevel growth and opportunities. Priests and nuns established number of primary schools in remote villages,” he added.

In 1982, the diocese adopted Bidar missions near Hyderabad around 900 km from Mangalore. After 23 years , an independent diocese of Gulbarga was also set up.

“St Joseph’s Inter-diocesan Seminary of Mangalore established in 1879 has so far formed 1998 priests,” said Fr Joseph Martis, the Rector.

Four religious congregations for women were originated in Mangalore. The Apostolic Carmel (1870), the 125-year- old Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS), Bethany Sisters (B.S.) (1921) and Helpers of Mount Rosary (1990).

According to Kranti Farias, a socio-historian, St Agnes College established by the AC nuns in 1921 was the first Catholic college exclusively for women.

The diocese of Mangalore runs 35 orphanages, houses for poor children, old age homes, leprosy asylums, dispensaries and the like.

The diocesan NGO has implemented watershed and water harvesting programs besides many others and has been playing the role of a social transforming agent since last 35 years, said Fr D’Souza.

To mark the centenial jubilee celebration, the diocese would sponsor education of poor Christian boys and girls up to the pre-university level, he said.

While the church of Mangalore has been attacked continuously by pro-Hindu fundamentalist groups since 2008, it has also experienced harassment at hands of Muslim emperor Tippu Sultan in 1784.

His soldiers on Ash Wednesday that year held Christians captive in Srirangapattanam, around 270 km from Mangalore.

“The available records point to the history of around 35,000 Christians being taken into captivity,” according to a researcher and historian Fr. Pius Fidelis Pinto.

“Our forefathers have passed through the challenge of captivity and lately we too faced anti-Christian violence. Over the years we have grown in our faith and religious practice. Now the lay people have become co-workers with the priests and the religious in many spheres,” said Sushil Noronha, a Catholic lay leader.

 – francis rodrigues

Karnataka Government Stoops to its Lowest

February 13, 2012 by  
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Meeting led by Freddy DsilvaKarnataka, February 13, 2012: The CSF protests communalising children, Jesuit priests being forced to tender apology and rise in communal attacks in coastal districts. For more info please read below write-ups that appeared in the Hindu newspaper on the subject.

Saffron slant in school textbooks


Karnataka, February 05, 2012: The new social studies textbooks of Standard 5 and Standard 8 — to be introduced in the next academic year — seem to present to children a version of history that has a strong saffron slant in several instances.

While the textbooks, the draft copy of which is available with The Hindu, present a few contestable historical facts, the bigger problem is one of omissions and commissions that lend the texts a slant typical of the Hindutva nationalist construction of Indian history.

For example, the book states in its fifth standard lesson, titled ‘Veda Kalada Bharata’, that cow slaughter was forbidden in the early Vedic period. The historical record, however, suggests otherwise. Historians such as D.N. Jha have shown how the Rigveda has references of beef being one of the most commonly consumed foods at the time. So indeed does K.T. Achaya in his scholarly dictionary of Indian food.

A chapter titled ‘Hosa Dharmagala Udaya’ (Birth of New Religions) in the Standard 8 textbook, has a highlighted box (Page 43) that makes a distinction between ‘dharma’ and ‘religion’. It makes the debatable claim that even Buddhism and Jainism, like Hinduism, cannot be categorised as religions, and that only Islam and Christianity in India fit into the category.

While presentation of such “facts” is one aspect, the overall tone of the textbooks, especially in the region-specific histories — introduced for the first time as separate textbooks for Bangalore, Mysore, Gulbarga and Belgaum divisions — needs closer examination.

For example, the rich syncretic traditions of the northern districts of Karnataka have been either glossed over or omitted altogether in the textbooks. Aspects of the pluralist culture of the region, like Bandenawaz Dargah, and poets like Shishunala Sharief, are dispensed with in brief and de-contextualised descriptions.

The Standard 5 textbook (page 106 of the draft copy) says that Bidar was originally called “Vidhura Nagara” and “Bidururu Pura”, a typical attempt to establish a Hindu past to cities and towns . The other popular explanation that Bidar has its roots in the Persian word meaning “Awakening” does not find a mention here. While the region is replete with evidence of the meeting of Sufi and Datta traditions — the shrine of Manikprabhu in Humnabad or the Savalagi Shivalingeshwara shrine near Gokak for example — these do not find a mention. The late Sham.Bha. Joshi and other scholars have established that their unique religious mix have given the Bombay-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka region a distinctly inclusive cultural character, simply not reflected in these textbooks, though they claim to present a flavour of every region to the children.

The delineation of the Hyderbad Liberation Movement in the Gulbarga division’s textbook is particularly striking for the manner in which it is constructed as a Hindu vs Muslim struggle. The role of the Andhra Maha Sabha in the movement, and its nationalist and anti-landlord content finds no mention. The same chapter describes the Vijayanagar kings as rulers who “protected, nurtured and upheld Hindu religion and culture” for over 200 years.

In its earlier draft, the Standard 5 textbook carried a map of “cultural India”, in the ‘Bharata, Namma Hemme’ (India, Our Pride) chapter, showing the country boundaries encompassing the Hindukush, parts of China, and large parts of south-east Asia — representing the nationalist Hindu notion of “Akhand Bharat”. This, it is learnt, was later dropped.

C.S. Dwarakanath, former chairperson of the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission, described the draft copy as “a blatant attempt at filling children’s minds with ideological, religious and political biases at a tender age.”

Jesuit priests forced to apologise?

A group of Jesuit priests apologised at a peace committee meeting here on Thursday to those who allegedly attacked one of the priests on January 27.

The meeting was called by Anekal tahsildar S. Shive Gowda in connection with an incident on January 27 where ABVP activists allegedly barged into the St. Joseph’s Pre-University College in Bahadurpura and shut the institution down. They were agitated over the fact that the Jesuit priests who run the institution had not hoisted the national flag on Republic Day.

Television footage of the incident shows the activists manhandling and berating college principal Melwin Mendonca in the presence of the tahsildar and the police. Mr. Mendonca was then paraded in full public view and taken to the police station by the activists. This was not contested by the activists of various right wing groups who attended the meeting. When the priests tried to present this evidence to the tahsildar, one of the Hindutva leaders stood up and said, “Show all of this to your friends in America. Over here, we make the rules.”

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Shive Gowda said, “The Christians want to take out a rally and file a police case. I have called them here today to convince them that there is no need for anything like that. If they decide to withdraw their [proposed] protest and do not press charges, will you trouble them further?”

When the room, consisting largely of Hindutva ideologues, erupted in agreement, the tahsildar continued, “Then, let us end the matter here and leave the room as friends.”

He admonished the Jesuits for failing to hoist the national flag on Republic Day and advised them that they should do more to prove their allegiance to the flag and the nation.

Led by Freddy D’Silva, vice-president of the Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society, a group of priests tendered an unconditional apology at the meeting. “As citizens of India and as heads of educational institutions, we have made a mistake,” Mr. D’Silva told the gathering.

As he was leaving the meeting, Deputy Superintendent of Police A. Kumaraswamy told The Hindu, “The matter ends here. The ABVP activists have agreed to withdraw their complaint.” Asked about the “complaint” filed by the Jesuits, he said, “They have not filed anything. Anyway, there is no need for all that.”

However, Fr. Mendonca said that a complaint was filed with the police on February 4, but it was not accepted.

Later, Mr. D’Silva said, “The focus of the meeting should have been on the ‘illegal act’ where one of us was ‘harassed and detained’. I was pushed into a corner and I apologised. It is not illegal to not hoist the flag but it is illegal to attack and harass somebody.”

Fr. Mendonca has also written to the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission and the Governor seeking justice. “Our future course of action will be decided at the meeting of our governing council,” Mr. D’Silva said.

Protest against communal attacks

Writer Shivasundar said on Friday that Karnataka was well-known across the country for its literature and harmony, but it in the last three years it had become known for being “Reddy Republic” (a term used by the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde in his report on the mining scam in the State). He also took pot-shots at the RSS.

Addressing a gathering at a protest organised by various organisations against communal attacks in the coastal districts, Mr. Shivasundar said if a Pakistan flag was hoisted by Muslims in Sindgi, the police would have thrashed them black and blue. He said the RSS spread hatred about Muslims and Christians and tried to equate proponents of Hindutva with Hindus. Efforts were on to change textbooks and “poison young minds” against Muslims and Christians by stating that Muslims were “invaders”.

Walter Cyril Pinto of Catholic Sabha, General secretary of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike K.L. Ashok, and Abdul Hassan of the Popular Front of India spoke.

– the hindu

Mayawati responsible for plight of women in UP: Rahul *Being socially relevant in Kerala

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister MayawatiUttar Pradesh, February 12, 2012: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Sunday blamed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for the sorry plight of women in the state.

“Even though this state is ruled by a woman chief minister, there is no one to hear the voice of women,” Gandhi said, addressing a pubic rally in this Uttar Pradesh district where polling is due Feb 15 in the third phase of the seven-phase assembly election.

“With a view to ensuring participation of women right down to the grassroots level, the Congress made it a point to give reservation to women in panchayats, but that is not being implemented in the true spirit in this state,” he alleged.

Citing a examples of injustice to women in the state, Gandhi said: “I was told by an old woman how her agricultural land was forcibly acquired for some builders. When the builder demanded immediate vacation of the plot, the woman complained to the local police station but to no avail.

“Police not only refused to intervene but even went to the extent of setting fire to the standing crop on the poor woman’s land,” he alleged.

Stressing he was not here to make promises like other political parties, he said: “When one has clear intentions, he need not make promises. I have not come here to make promises but to take UP on the path for change and I am sure that we will win this battle.”

“Ask Mayawati and (Samajwadi Party chief) Mulayam Singh Yadav whether they cared to visit any village in the last five years, but when they go about addressing election rallies, they were busy making tall promises,” he said, adding he wondered why they had not done so when in power.

Flaying successive non-Congress governments in Uttar Pradish where Congress had been out of power for 22 years, Gandhi asserted he was committed to the cause of Uttar Pradesh’s development.

“And I will not budge from here. Let me tell you that when I choose to take up something, I do not leave it halfway,” he said.

“Even if only one person from UP stands by me, I will continue to fight for you because you have been duped for 22 years,” Gandhi said.

He blamed the BSP, the Samajwadi Party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for neglecting the state for “not doing anything to build the future of the state’s youth”.

He also accused all the three parties for fuelling corruption in the state and pilfering funds sent by the central government for various development tasks.

Gandhi later addressed another meeting in Zafrabad town of Jaunpur, followed by one in Kaushambhi and two meetings in Allahabad.

– ians

Being socially relevant in Kerala


Being socially relevant in KeralaKerala, February 11, 2012: Recent actions by the communist party has caused fury among the clergy and the ruling Congress. Last week I met John Peter, a Catholic selling tender coconut on the streets of Kochi. His red-colored headgear indicated his leftist sympathies. As he waited for customers, I tried to have a conversation with him and started by mentioning the recent controversy over depictions of Christ as a communist and the Church’s subsequent condemnation of them.

“Nonsense,” the seller said.

Which part was the nonsense, I asked: the Church’s condemnation or the communists’ depictions?

What followed was an hour-long lecture on how people have grown tired of discussing the war of words between the leaders of the Church and communists, how self-acclaimed intellectuals bring to centre-stage issues irrelevant to people’s daily lives.

“These people are a waste, and discussing them we waste time. Do something useful,” he concluded.

I purchased a coconut drink and then left.

Whether Peter is right or not, the history of communists in Kerala has always been marked by the leftists’ tussles with the Church. Nothing has changed in this southern Indian state, where the communists are in the opposition but continue aiming for power. They might well succeed. After all, it is the first place in the world where communists came to power through elections, in 1957.

Their recent expressions of solidarity with Christ, enlisting him among their leaders along with Marx, Engels and Che Guevara, should be seen in the light of political ambition and their struggle to build up losing relevance and cadre support.

Recent actions by the party designed to lessen the gap between Christians and communists has caused fury among the clergy and the ruling Congress Party, and has inspired widespread condemnation.

First, a party leader equated Christianity with communism by saying the religion follows the same ideals that communists embrace. This revelation came from Communist Party of India (Marxist) Central Committee member E P Jayarajan on January 28, ahead of the party’s state meet that began February 6.

A major controversy broke out days before the state-level meeting opened. An exhibition the party organized included a picture of the crucified Christ among those of communist leaders, as if to assert that Christ was among their leaders who struggled for the oppressed.

CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan justified the presence of the crucifix, saying Christ championed the cause of the oppressed just as communists are doing now.

Almost at the same time the party’s confederation of the labor unions sponsored a poster campaign in which they altered an image of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It replaced Christ with US President Barack Obama and put a motley group of Indian politicians with him at the table. It was subtitled in Malayalam: “The last supper of capitalism…hope only in Marxism.”

They went a step further by also depicting St Sebastian, a popular saint among Kerala Christians, as a martyr who died “fighting oppression” under the Roman emperor Diocletian. The youth wing of the party (DYFI) did it in a poster that greeted a parish celebrating the saint’s feast.

When Church leaders condemned these actions, Vijyan volunteered in a public meeting to explain why his party draws inspiration from Christ. To help Church leaders understand it better, he explained it in terms of Latin American liberation theology and quoted from the Bible.

Vijayan and his cadres are familiar with liberation theology, thanks to some Catholic priests who attempted to practice the Latin American liberation model among the fisher-people on Kerala’s southern coast in the 1980s. That experiment failed when the official Church began to explain it as the “sugar-coated poison” of communists and blacklisted priests who they suspected were communist sympathizers.

But that gave enormous courage to communists to quote the Bible and find similarities with the teachings of Christ and the theories of Marx, causing confusion among ordinary Catholics. A group of devout Catholic youth once told me they were convinced that being a good Christian would mean being a good communist because a Christian is called to struggle for equality and to fight oppression and exploitation. I knew of a Church-going septuagenarian who had Marx’s picture in his scapular. In some huts of fisher-people, I have seen pictures of Marx and Engels alongside the Sacred Heart and Mother of Perpetual Help.

This confused assertion is a worry for the Church, and this confusion is exactly what the communists want because at some stage, they know, it would mean votes for them.

And they know it is time for them to play on the confusion. The state will hold a by-election soon to fill the vacancy created by the death of sitting minister T M Jacob, who won in the Christian stronghold of Piravom. A communist win there would be crucial to pull down the Congress-led alliance government, as the communists already have 68 seats in the 140-seat house.

The communist party badly needs Christian support because its mass base among the “working class” of farm laborers and workers of coir and cashew processing industries in Kerala is almost nonexistent now because of advancements in education, shrinking farmlands and brighter job opportunities overseas. Those now “working” in Kerala are a different “class” that has experienced how communists have been trying to build heaven on earth since 1957, and that experience no longer excites the “working class” to vote en masse for the communists.

However, the electoral fortunes of the communist alliance could be on the rise, as the state has almost never returned the incumbent party to power. Historically, this has meant the communist party’s influence ebbing and flowing in definite intervals, and always giving the Church a reason to fight them.

The communists know the Kerala Church has a substantial following. They have known it since 1958, when Christians protested the communist move to take over educational institutions, which soon emerged as a statewide anti-communist movement and resulted in the federal government dismissing the elected communist government a year later. Since then, the communists have studied ways to make inroads into the Church and have succeeded even beyond their expectations.

Thousands of Communion-receiving Catholics are also now card-carrying members of the party, some publically and others clandestinely. Both the Church and the party tolerate them. The Church tolerates the successful Catholic-candidates of the party simply because of the political influence they bring to the Church. The party allows them to continue in the Church because they offer ways to attract more “faithful party members.”

And why are Catholics, who have received Confirmation, easily confused about the teachings of Christ and Marx? Are they too feeble in their faith? It is surely not the job of communists to teach catechism to Catholics. If someone in the Church takes that basic job seriously, the Church can escape from the perennial worry over Catholics being misled by communists’ posters and preaching.

When the Church teaches that Christ died for all human beings, communists included, there should be nothing wrong in communists getting inspired by him, even if the Church is not preaching him to them. But when they say they are getting inspired, why not verify and strengthen it by inviting them to the Church rather than condemning them?

And will the Church and communist leaders ever offer something relevant to people like Peter? Peter can offer them tender coconut – sweet and cool.

– christopher joseph

UP Phase 1: 51% candidates millionaire & 38% have criminal cases

January 30, 2012 by  
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Uttar Pradesh ElectionUttar Pradesh, January 28, 2012: In the 2012 Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, there is a clear rise in both the number of rich candidates and those with pending criminal cases across political parties. Compared to the 2007 assembly polls, in the Phase-1 poll due on 8th February, there are about 30% more millionaires and 10% more ‘criminals.’


Uttar Pradesh Election Watch on Saturday released a study report on the candidates of Phase-1 in Uttar Pradesh. The group studied affidavits of 284 candidates out of 867 in the Phase-1, and found that 109 out of 284 (38%) candidates have admitted criminal cases pending against them. In 2007, only 28% had pending criminal cases.

All main parties have fielded candidates with pending criminal cases but SP leads others.

Congress: 15 out of 54 (28%)
BSP: 24 out of 55 (44%)
BJP: 24 out of 55 (44%)
SP: 28 out of 55 (51%)
JDU: 5 out of 20 (25%)
Peace Party: 12 out of 42 (29%)
RLD: 1 out of 1 (100%)


According to the report, the Phase-1 is seeing more millionaire candidates compared to the 2007 polls.

Some 144 out of 284 (51%) candidates are crorepati. In 2007, only 22% crorepati were candidates. While only 6 candidates have declared assets worth less than Rs one lakh. In terms of average wealth per candidate, ruling BSP leads other parties.

Avg wealth per candidate in parties:
SP: 1.74 Cr
BSP: 3.83 Cr
BJP: 1.56 Cr
INC: 1.34 Cr
Peace Party: 1.01 Cr
JDU: 32.09 Lakh


Besides, 163 out of 284 candidates whose affidavits were studied are graduate or higher degrees.

Women candidates

While in debates on the floor of Parliament each party was trying to score more points over other by supporting the 33% women reservation in legislatures, when it comes to the ground, hardly any party has fielded more than 10% women candidates.

In the Phase-1 poll of UP, there are only 65 women candidates out of total 867 (7%).

BSP: 5 out of 55 (9%)
BJP: 6 out of 55 (11%)
INC: 4 out of 54 (7%)
SP: 4 out of 55 (7%)

Await more such info from states going to polls.

– tcn news

Congress betrayed Muslims: Mayawati

December 19, 2011 by  
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Congress betrayed MuslimsLucknow, December 18, 2011: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Sunday accused the Congress of betraying Muslims, saying the party had failed to check communal riots during its rule at the centre.

Addressing a ‘Muslim, Kshatriya and Vaishya Mahasammelan meeting’, Mayawati said Muslims had considered Congress their benefactor but the party had “betrayed them”.

“It made promise after promise but gave nothing (other) than assurances. The Sachar panel report has mentioned about the condition of Muslims. Several riots have taken place in Meerut and Moradabad (in Uttar Pradesh), Bhagalpur (Bihar), Mumbai, Bharatpur (Rajasthan), it had deep impact on the Muslim psyche,” Mayawati said.

She alleged that Muslims had been forced to live under fear during Congress rule.

She also accused the Congress of being soft towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She said organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal had become “quite active” in the country.

Mayawati condemned the Babri mosque demolition at Ayodhya in December 1992. “The Dec 6 incident, the more it is condemned, it will not be enough,” Mayawati said.
The chief minister said that while her government had taken several steps for welfare of Muslims, the Samajwadi Party had virtually no achievements to its credit.

– ians

SC pulls up Tamil Nadu, Kerala over Mullaperiyar dam

December 14, 2011 by  
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Mullaperiyar dam

Mullaperiyar dam

Tamil Nadu, December 13, 2011: The Supreme Court today pulled up the Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments on the Mullaperiyar dam issue and asked them to maintain restraint in their statements.

“Both the parties instead of dousing the fire are adding fuel to it. There has to be sanity and sensitiveness,” a five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice D K Jain, said.

The court asked Tamil Nadu to ensure that the water level in the dam does not exceed 136 feet but declined to entertain Kerala’s plea for reducing the level to 120 feet.

The Kerala government wanted the change because it alleges that leaks, tremors and the age of the 116-year-old dam make it vulnerable to collapse.

“Safety of the people is paramount, whether in Tamil Nadu or Kerala…this can’t be compromised,” said the judges.

It also asked the Centre to clarify its position on Tamil Nadu’s plea for deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to protect the dam from possible vandalism.

Tamil Nadu has in the Supreme Court accused Kerala government of manufacturing safety concerns to build public opinion against the dam.

The court today suggested it does not favor this “attempt to gag politicians.”

It also objected to ads released by Tamil Nadu that cite opinions and observations of different judges on the Mullaperiyar dispute.

The judges said the government should not use court proceedings for political gain.

– times of india/ndtv

Rs.7 million released for muslim youths wrongly held

December 10, 2011 by  
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Dr Junaid RayeesuddinHyderabad, December 7, 2011:  Perhaps in the first instance of victims of police torture in a terror case being paid compensation in India, Andhra Pradesh has released Rs.7 million for innocent Muslim youths arrested and tortured in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case.

A day after Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced in the state assembly that the compensation would be paid, the minorities welfare department Tuesday issued an order releasing the amount.

According to officials, out of 70 victims identified, 20 would be paid Rs.300,000 each while others would get Rs.20,000.

The government released the compensation amount on the recommendations of the National Minorities Commission, which also asked the government to consider deducting the amount from the salaries of erring police officials.

Though the commission had made several recommendations over a year ago, the government had not acted on them.

National Minorities Commission chairman Wajahat Habibullah had also written a letter to the chief minister in August, asking him to take action on the recommendations, which also include legal action against the police officers involved in arrest and torture of innocent youths, rehabilitation of victims by providing employment commensurate with their qualifications and issuing good conduct certificates to all those acquitted in the case.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and other Muslim groups had been demanding that the government pay compensation.

MIM leader in the assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi raised the issue in the assembly during the debate on the no-confidence motion Monday. The chief minister, during his reply to the debate, announced that the orders for payment of compensation would be released.

MIM, which has seven members in the 295-member assembly, opposed the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) no-confidence motion, helping the Congress government defeat the motion.

Nine people were killed in the blast during Friday prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid May 18, 2007. Five more people were killed in the subsequent police firing on protesters outside the mosque.

Following the blast, the police arrested dozens of Muslims youths and filed cases against them. A fact-finding committee of the state minorities commission, in its report, said the police tortured the youths.

The arrested youths were acquitted by the courts during the last one year.

Last year, following the arrest of activists of right-wing Hindu groups for involvement in the mosque blast, the chief minister offered to tender an apology to all the Muslim youths who were ‘illegally’ detained.

– ians

Intl Green Award for Bangalore Environ Group

December 7, 2011 by  
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WinnerEnvironment Support Group is happy to share that it is the recipient of the 2011 Gold Award in the category of “Best Green Water Stewardship” instituted by the International Green Awards, London. ESG won this award for its ongoing “Collaborative Initiative for the Wise Use, Conservation and Protection of Lakes” in Bangalore, India. 

A core part of this ongoing effort is ESG’s campaign, research and Public Interest Litigation efforts which the Karnataka High Court supported by directing Government agencies and the public at large to work together on a strict court monitored time-frame to ensure water and ecological security for present and future generations in this densely urbanised region.

The awards, entitled ‘Green Oscars’, were given at a grand ceremony held at the ‘green tie’ gala dinner at the ‘Green Oscars’ at the iconic Natural History Museum, London on Thursday 24th of November 2011.

Nobel laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai was posthumously awarded the Green Lifetime Achievement Award!
This recognition has been possible only because of the committed efforts of the small and dedicated staff at ESG, and the unstinting support extended by our families, strong network of volunteers and well-wishers. 

About the Awards:

The INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARDS is an initiative enlightening the world through showcasing the best in class examples of creativity in business, citizen and government initiatives leading to sustainable outcomes.  The Awards launched in 2006 to critical acclaim with the objective of recognising the best-in-class examples of sustainability communications and have gone from strength-to-strength since then. In 2009, the Awards introduced an ‘International’ category, encouraging applications from the world over. The response to this category was overwhelming and thus, in 2010, the Awards opened all categories to global participation. The success of this shift was illustrated by entries from ever corner of the world, including Greece, Romania, Australia, Singapore, India, USA, Canada and many more.  

– leo saldanha

Do we need “Anna Hazare kind of campaigns” to see Communal Violence Bill through?

December 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Campaigns, Government, National, newsletter-lead

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Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare

December 4, 2011: At the recently concluded meet of National Integration Council (NIC) the discussions on The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill loomed large. Not too many members of the council were seen speaking in favour of the bill, resentment of all political parties were out in the open, the credibility of ruling alliance was in tatteres as the partners in governance were not generous on numerous issues with the proposed draft. The unfortunate part was the treasury benches kept mute while most of the opposition leaders tore apart the proposed draft with criticism. The opposition’s disapproval was more out of prejudice and misconceptions rather than out of what the Bill contains and intends to put right.

The communal forces aiming for a Hindu Rashtra often spread venom against the religious minorities creating a sense of insecurity with the majority community, consequently aggravating a communal rift between two co-existent peaceful neighbors. The Catastrophe of partition should be etched in the moral values of the sub-continent; lessons should be learnt from the horrors of sectarian politics and communal propaganda from either side.

Post Independence, the organizations which kept aloof from the mainstream struggle for independence and were responsible for murdering Mahatma Gandhi, actively indulged into spreading hatred towards religious minorities (Muslims), the Muslims were often cornered into throwing the first stone, which was then used as a pretext for unleashing violence against them. Thus initiation and facilitation of the communal politics against religious minorities came into existence. Communal politics with communal propaganda gradually became somewhat the “social common sense” of the majority community against Muslims in the country. Regrettably most of the state institutions are influenced by the infectious communal prejudice, the police in particular have become the tool for the biased attribution towards Muslims, who all remained vulnerable and the nastiest affected during any violence.

Successive governments have set up various commissions to secure this objective— commission for minorities, for preventing atrocities against SC/STs, for protecting human rights and women’s rights. But most of them have been toothless and have failed to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable groups from systematic and targeted violence. While Gujarat provides one example, the violence unleashed against Christian tribals in Kandhamal, Odisha is another example. The continuous violence against tribals in the Northeast by armed forces, and against Dalits by upper castes in almost every state cannot be ignored. The history of post-independence India is strewn with numerous cases where the ruling governments and the commissions constituted by it have failed in their duty to protect these groups.

Almost all the fact finding inquiry commissions constituted after every untoward incident reveals that the most of the spontaneously-looking riots are always part of larger conspiracies, a systematized plan of the communal forces. The reports further make public that the targeted violence are for political goals duly assisted by the attitude of the political leadership which would otherwise be impossible without the cordial help from the incumbent bureaucrats and forces. And it fetches no brownies in guessing that, it’s the rightwing politicians who then benefit from the same by polarizing the majority community votes in their favour.

And most predictably the proposed draft has been dubbed as ‘anti-majority’ by the BJP and has been criticized as a kneejerk response to the Gujarat violence of 2002-03. They also fear that it may alter the federal structure and adversely impact the autonomy of the states. But protection of minorities and vulnerable groups like tribals and Dalits is well within the Constitutional scheme. Hence, any provision to protect the secular fabric of the nation and the right of vulnerable groups to live in peace and harmony cannot be dubbed as an ‘anti-majority’ measure.

The picture is very complicated and muddled but the undertones are very clear, about this opposition! It’s because the Hindutva forces are opposed to any affirmative action where the weaker section of the society be it the minorities, schedule caste or OBC is identified and given protection. The main opposition party has openly opposed the bill because of its vested interests attached, as it wants to promote their kind of political agenda with the continuation of existing political pattern of discrimination and biasness against religious minorities and other weaker & oppressed sections of the society.

Mahatma Gandhi, who symbolized the animosity to communal politics, laid down his life opposing it, his sacrifice must not go in vain. Hence if the intension of the ruling government is sanctimonious, it is unusual as to why the ruling party or its allies are not sticking its neck out to bring peace and prevent violence through this bill by suitable agreement and an appropriate debate in parliament. Therefore whatever the outcome be, it’s bound to have an adverse effect on the government’s sincerity and secular credentials.

– aziz a. mubaraki

MPs from across the Political Parties supported the demand of Dalit Christians & Dalit Muslims

December 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Christians, Dalit, Government, Muslims, National, newsletter-india

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Joint Action CommiNew Delhi, December 3, 2011: The Joint Action Committee for securing equal rights to Muslims and Christians of Scheduled caste origin conducted a dialogue between members of Parliament and the leaders of Christian and Muslim Communities on 30th November 2011 at the CNI Bhavan at 6.30pm. The Joint Action Committee consisted of representatives of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the National Council of Dalit Christians and Muslim organizations for Social Justice.

The leaders of the Muslim and Christian Communities expressed their deep anguish over the delay in justice to Christian and Muslim Dalit brothers and sisters who have been in struggle for the past 60 years. They have been urging the Government of India to delete the discriminatory paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 that precludes Dalits of the Christian and Muslim communities from availing the benefits of affirmative action. To push for this demand, they have organized various protest marches, hunger strikes, rallies and have written memorandums and met Ministers and Government Executives. However, the Government has not fulfilled its promise. Justice delayed is indeed justice denied.

The meeting of the Joint Action Committee also brought to the notice of the Parliamentarians the government’s non-cooperation on the Civil Writ Petition 180/2004 in the Supreme Court and told them that government is yet to give its reply to this writ to the Supreme Court.

The members of Parliament expressed their support and solidarity with the Joint Action Committees requests. They reaffirmed that this is a just demand of the minority communities. It is discrimination based on religion and is not acceptable. They promised to support this cause inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament.  They also suggested that the minorities should stay together in their demands for the rights of Dalits of their communities.

The following members of the Parliament attended the meeting with the Christian and Muslim leaders.: Shri. P.R. Natarajan, Communist Party of India (Marxist); Shri. Harsh Kumar, Prof. P.J. Kurien, Shri. Husain Dalwai, Shri. J. D. Seelam, Shri. C.L.Ruala, Shri. Dr. Charles Dias and Shri. Francisco Sardinha of the Indian National Congress; Shri. Syed Azeez Pasha, Shri.D.Raja, Shri.P.Lingam from the Communist Party of India; Shri. Ali Anwar Ansari from Janta Dal United; Shri. Asaduddin Owaisi from the All India Majlis-e-lttehadul Muslimeen; Shri. Thol.Thirumaavalavan from Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi;  Shri. Abdul Rahman from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; and Shri. Mohammed Shafi from the Jammu Kashmir National Congress.

The following Christian and Muslim leaders participated in the dialogue along with members of their communities: Ms. Sushma Ramswami, Vice President NCCI, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary NCCI; Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary, Church of North India Synod; Ms.Leila Passah, General Secretary, YWCA; Mr. John Varughese, General Secretary, YMCA; Dr. Daniel Ezhilarasu, General Secretary AIACHE;  Mr. Eric Christopher, Habitat for Humanity;  Fr. Cosmon Arikara, Secretary of SC/ ST Commission of CBCI, Fr. Charles, CBCI, Fr. Bosco, NCDC, Mr. Franklin Caesar Thomas, NCDC, Fr. Selvaraj, ISI; Mr. Abdul Rashid, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushwarat, Mr. Aaris Mohammed, Centre for Social Justice, Mohammad Ahmad, Secretary Jamaat-E-Islami Hind, Shri. P.C.Hamza, General Secretary Welfare Party of India.

There was the view expressed that only a strong united political action will bring a solution to the issue.

(1) It was proposed that the Christian and Muslim leaders draft a fresh memorandum in the light of the discussions that were held, and to make a single focused demand that Para 3 of the 1950 Presidential Order be deleted, and that Scheduled Caste Status be delinked from religion. A copy of this memorandum should be sent to the concerned Parliamentarians.

(2)  At the same time the Parliamentarians who have attended the meeting on 30th November 2011 suggested that they would get together along with other like-minded Parliamentarians and decide on the appropriate political strategy to be undertaken in the Parliament.

(3)  The Christian and Muslim organizations would need to work together to protect their rights of the Communities.

(4) Mobilize Christians and Muslims to vote in the 2014 General Elections for the party that would support the rights of Dalit Muslims and Christians.

– samuel jayakumar

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