Evangelist arrested in Mandya, Karnataka

February 11, 2013 by  
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Evangelist Arrested in Mandya, Karnataka Karnataka, Febuary 08, 2013: Evangelist Pradeep, 30, and his mother, Chowdamma, 60, are the latest victims of persecution of Christians in Karnataka by the fundamentalist Hindus.

They were attacked and then arrested and finally put behind bars for firmly sticking to their faith and fearlessly demonstrating their faith in Christ’s teachings.

Pradeep and Chowdamma belong to the Karnataka Evangelical Ministry of Mysore, and they live in Mandya District of Karnataka. On Friday, 8th February 2013, both of them visited the house of Ms Jyothi and Ms Lakshmi at Bellahalli village in Pandavpura in Mandya District, on a request from them for a prayer in their house. While Evangelist Pradeep and Mrs Chowdamma were praying in their house, a group of about 20 Hindu fundamentalists belonging to RSS, barged into the house and started intimidating and physically attacking both Pradeep and his mother Chowdamma, accusing them of forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity. Both of them were injured in the attack and Evangelist Pradeep sustained injuries on his lips as well as a number of bruises on his face.

The Hindu radicals then forcibly took both the mother and the son by bus to the Pandavpura Police Station and handed them over to the police falsely alleging that the two were fraudulently and forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity by offering them money.

The police who took them to the Pandavpura Government Hospital for treatment, subsequently also filed an FIR against them based on the false complaint and charge-sheeted them under section 295A of IPC and produced them before the local Magistrate who sent them to the Mandya Sub Jail. Please pray for their early release.

–  persecution.in

Budget: After UP debacle – No mood to woo Muslims *500 persons trained to work in overcrowded prisons

March 17, 2012 by  
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Pranab MukherjeeNew Delhi, March 16, 2012: After the recent debacle in the UP elections, mainly because Muslim community, which constitute almost 18% of the state, didn’t vote for the Congress party which was almost maddeningly wooing the minority community before the elections, the Rahul Gandhi’s party didn’t appear in the mood to woo minorities (read Muslims) any longer, especially when it comes to taking concrete policy decisions for minorities in the Union Budget.

So the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA) had to be satisfied with just two new token schemes with meager allocation and a slight increase of 14% in the total budget of the ministry.

The MMA got Rs. 3,135 crore as its share in the Union General Budget 2012-13 presented by the union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today. This is an increase of Rs. 385 crore over the budget for 2011-12, which stands at Rs. 2,750 crore.

Pranab Mukherjee allocated just Rs. 4.50 crore for a new scheme to provide free cycles to girl students of class IX with the objective of retention of minority girl students from class IX onwards.

Another new scheme: Skill Development Initiatives has been provided meager Rs. 18 crore in the Budget to allow urban and rural livelihoods to improve for inclusive growth by providing skill to the Minority communities who do not posses any, to allow them to gain employment.

It’s important to note here that a vast number of communities belonging to minorities specially Muslims are engaged in occupations embroidery, tailor, zari work, bangle, leather work, which come under the category of skill development programmes, for which only 18 crore has been allocated.

The Budget 2012-13 increases significantly the outlay for educational scholarship schemes being implemented by the Ministry for the students belonging to minorities.

The money for Pre-Matric Scholarship has been increased from Rs. 540 crore to Rs. 810 crore; Post-Matric scholarship gets Rs. 450 crore – up from Rs. 405 crore; Merit-cum-means scholarship scheme gets Rs. 198 crore – as against Rs. 126 crore during 2011-12.

Provision for Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority students has been enhanced from Rs. 47 crore to Rs. 63 crore.

Rs. 45 crore each have been provided for i) Scheme for promotion of education in 100 Minority Concentration towns/cities; and ii) Village Development Programme for 1,000 villages not covered under Minority Concentration Blocks/ Minority Concentration Districts.

– tcn

500 trained to work in India’s overcrowded prisons


Prison MinistryKarnataka, March 16, 2012: Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation for priests, nuns and lay people, is behind the initiative. Recognised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the ministry works to rehabilitate inmates and ex-convicts. India’s 1,393 prisons are overcrowded with an occupancy rate of 115.1 per cent. More than half of all inmates are awaiting trial.

Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation recognised by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), is training 500 priests, nuns and lay people to be fulltime volunteers in the country’s prisons. Training will begin in May in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Set up in 1986 by a group of students for the purpose of helping inmates on their way to rehabilitation, the Prison Ministry now has 850 branches and 30 rehabilitation centres around the country for ex-convicts and children at risk. More than 6,000 volunteers work with 370,000 prisoners.

In 2011, it conducted 197 awareness programmes in parishes, colleges, schools and other institutions. “We have invited priests, nuns, brothers and lay people who can devote themselves fulltime to the prison ministry,” PMI national coordinator Fr Sebastian Vakumpadan told AsiaNews. “We give them a month-long intensive training in Bangalore and Kerala. Then we send them two at a time to the various states of India according to their language and choice,” where “they will be guided by a PMI coordinator for the following year.”

“There is a lot to do,” Fr Sebastian explained. “We must change the atmosphere in prisons and turn them into reformative structures to change people’s attitude and improve the reintegration of ex-inmates in society.” India had 1,393 prison facilities according to the 2010 report by the National Crime Record Bureau of India. Overcrowding is a major problem.

Existing prisons can hold up to 320,450 but they currently house 368,998 (115.1 per cent occupancy rate), with 240,098 (65.1 per cent) awaiting trial and 125,789 (34.1 per cent) already convicted. Men represent 95.9 per cent of the inmate population; women, 4.1 per cent.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of prisoners (82,673), followed by Madhya Pradesh (31,318) and Bihar (29,700). Prisons in Chhattisgarh are the most overcrowded (237 per cent), followed by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (227.7 per cent).

– asianews

A permanent abode for 127 families affected by flood in Raichur District

February 28, 2012 by  
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A permanent abode for 127 families affected by flood in Raichur DistrictKarnataka, February 24, 2012: One hundred and twenty  seven newly built houses for the flood victims of Manvi and Sindanoor talukas of Raichur dist. were inaugurated in a joyous function, in the presence of huge gathering, the local MLA, and other leaders of the area, in Pannur. These houses  built by The Centre for Non Formal & Continuing Education, an NGO run by the Jesuits of Karnataka, in Manvi, Raichur Dist, for the needy people irrespective of caste creed and religion.  The Jesuits  have been working  in the remote corner of the district for the past 10  years  and have been instrumental  to start a CBSE school  and a P U college, for Dalits, where more than  1500 students from 65 villages are being educated.

The  opening ceremony of  the houses took place in the presence of Mr. Hampayya Nayak, MLA of  Manvi, Mr. Bosraj ex MLA and  Secretary of KPCC, Mr. Basavan  Bagvat, ex MLA and President  of CADA, Mr. Gangadar Nayak, ex MLA, Fr. Terence Farias SJ, Superior of Pannur Mission, Fr. Maxim the Parish Priest of Jagir Pannur,  Fr. Eric Mathias SJ, Director of CNF&CE and  other civic authorities.

Mr. Hampayya Nayak, MLA of  Manvi, speaking  on the occasion reiterated his appreciation of the Jesuit Fathers commitment to the cause of the poor and  have shown to these people where God is really found. He said that God is experienced when  a person  brings hope  to  the hopeless, providing the homeless with a home and those without clothing with clothes to put on and  those who are illiterate  with the gift  of knowledge through education  and those longing for love with loving care. He appreciated the commitment of Pannur Jesuits for setting aside their CBSE School for Dalits, the untouchables, Deavadasi children and  a preferential option for the village girls.

Families affected by flood in RaichurMr. Bosraj the ex MLA was all in praise for the quality of the  new houses built with great care and love. He appreciated the quality of whatever is done for the poor.   He assured the Jesuits his  full support  in our ventures for  the betterment of  village people.

Mr. Basavan  Bagvat, ex MLA and President  of CADA, expressed  his  satisfaction at the newly built houses for 127 families.  He promised whatever help is needed for  any  project for the development of the people.

There were  more than a thousand people gathered for the programme from various villages.  Fr. Terence Farias the Superior of Pannur Jesuits welcomed the gathering and thanked all guests for the support   assured by them. The well planned, and neatly built houses were appreciated by all. The cultural programme given by the children  of the village was much appreciated  by the whole gathering.

The Jesuit Mission of Pannur, Karnataka  includes, a Health Centre,  effectively  run by the  St. Joseph’s of Tarbes Sisters of  Mysore Province,  a school and a college, and extensive  social work in  about 75 villages. Considering the recent  deaths of several little children on account of malnutrition  in  Raichur Dist, a nutrition programme for the children of 50 villages is  being worked out.

By. Fr. Terence Farias SJ

– fwd: eric mathias

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

Foul suspected in convent school food poisoning *India’s first transgender pastor

February 10, 2012 by  
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Students outside the hospital ward

Students outside the hospital ward

Karnataka, February 10, 2012: Nearly 50 students of a Catholic school were admitted to hospital after the midday meal. A church official has suspected foul play in the food poisoning of some 50 students of a Catholic school in Mangalore.

The students of the St Joseph’s Higher Primary school developed nauseating symptoms after they consumed government-sponsored midday meal served to them.

Father William Menezes, public relations officer of the Mangalore diocese, said that within no time thousands of people gathered to blame the school for the incident.

“There could be some foul play to divert the attention of the public from recent government scandals,” he said.

Sister Sharal Santhumayor, principal of the school, said that out of 240 students of the school, nearly 50 students were rushed to the nearby Father Muller Hospital for food poisoning after they consumed the government-sponsored lunch yesterday.

She said that 15 students are admitted in the hospital for observation, while the rest have returned home healthy.

“They were admitted for observation as they had shown nauseating symptoms. Condition of all the children is stable and they are able to take food now,” said Poppy Chadda, a doctor in the hospital who is administering the children.

Chadda said that the food sample has been sent for testing.

According to the school sources, Vithaliya Monteiro, a Catholic, cooks food for children of 27 schools, including this one, but nothing happened to the students of other schools.

Sister Shuba Moras, the correspondent of the school, said, “as the news of stomach pain of one or two students came out, more than thousand people gathered near the school with ambulances and almost forcibly carried children into the hospitals.”

“Mostly poor students are taught in this school. I could not understand how so many people could gather within no time,” she added.

P. Appi, whose child was admitted in the hospital, said she was frightened when she got the news but “now my child is fine and has taken food.”

The incident has happened at a time when the Mangalore diocese is all set to celebrate the post centenary jubilee of its establishment on February 11-12 after a whole year of celebrations.

“This is shocking news to us when all is set to celebrate the grand post centenary jubilee of the establishment of the diocese,” said Father Menezes.

He said that the school authorities have informed the police.

– francis rodrigues

India’s first transgender pastor


BharathiTamil Nadu, February 08, 2012: Bharathi conducts services in Tamil and English every Sunday. At a young age, Bharathi got attracted to the Bible. She went on to complete her Bachelor’s in Theology and achieve the distinction of becoming India’s first transgender pastor.

For the past eight months, Bharathi has been preaching at the Evangelical Church of India in Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu.

She conducts services in Tamil and English every Sunday, besides training another transgender to become a pastor.

“I have conducted two baby showers for families and even named a child. Though I do not have a licence to conduct a wedding, a parishioner printed my name on his wedding invitation,” she said.

Traumatized and shunned as a youngster, Bharathi said societal acceptance was once just a dream for her just as it is for members of her ilk across the country.

She said she had formed a team to work among transgenders in Chengalpattu, to bring them into the church and thus into the mainstream.

Recalling her harrowing past, Bharathi said her family assumed she was a boy at birth.

“I was very feminine and my classmates and neighbors would make fun of me. I became a loner and could not even complete class 12,” she said.

Bharathi said that when she was 10, an “angel” entered their home.

“A nun near our home took pity on me and took me in,” she said.

The church soon became Bharathi’s home and she decided to embrace Christianity at the age of twelve.

“I started reading the Bible and praying in church every day. I converted when I was 12 and was baptized a few years later in 2000,” she added.

Bharathi, who left home more than seven years ago, visited her family two months ago.

“I had resolved to return to my family only after reaching a position of repute. When I returned, my parents were proud of me,” she said.

The pathbreaking move by the ECI, which has more than 100,000 followers across India, coincides with evangelical denominations in other countries, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, deciding to allow transgenders as pastors.

– times of India

Religious heads urge government to ban made snana

January 23, 2012 by  
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Religious Heads Urge Government to Ban Made SnanaKarnataka, January 8, 2012: The demand for a total ban on Made Snana – the controversial ritual of people rolling on leftovers of food partaken by upper caste persons gained strength on Saturday, when 18 heads of religious institutions across the state came together to condemn the practice.

“If Made Snana can cure diseases effectively, the state government should close down all the medical colleges and hospitals, and set up Subramanya temples at every nook and corner of the State, where the patients can roll on the plantain leaves with food leftovers by the Brahmins,” said Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami of Sanehalli, speaking at a conference organised by the Nidumamidi Mahasamsthana Mutt and Manava Dharma Peetha.

The programme, organised to create public opinion against the tradition, attracted a large gathering.

An age-old ritual at Kukke Subramanya Temple in Dakshina Kannada, Made Snana is performed by people with skin and other diseases who roll on the leftovers food on banana leaves, eaten by the Brahmins.

There was much public outrage at the controversial tradition, when newspaper carried pictures and TV channels footage of people performing the ritual, prompting calls for its ban.

Panditaradhya Shivacharya, the most vocal of the Made Snana opponents at the meeting, said the practice has been kept alive to suppress the dalits and to foster their sense of inferiority.

“Who else will roll on the leftovers of the Brahmins? It’s not Brahmins, nor any other higher castes but only Dalits. I tell you that people rolling on the plantain are prone to many dangerous diseases. This evil is not less than Sati tradition and child marriage and the government must act tough,” the Swamy said and criticised the head of the Pejawar mutt for equivocating on the issue.

Tontada Siddalinga Swami of the Tontadarya Mahasamsthana Mutt pointed out the irony of a medieval ritual practiced in Dakshina Kannada which has 90 per cent literacy rate. He also took a jibe at Higher Education Minister Dr V S Acharya for observing that the controversial ritual is a matter of faith.

“Made Snana is the biggest crime against humanity. This is not only sinful but illegal too. Those who roll and those who allow others to roll should be sent behind the bars,” said the Thontadarya seer.

Veerabhadra Channamalla Swami of Nidumamidi Mutt described the ritual as shameful. “We call for a change in society, wanting to retain this rotten tradition. The leaders should say whether they are for change or superstition,” he said. Chandrashekharanath Swami of Okkaligara Mahasamsthana Mutt said the ritual violated human dignity and urged the government to stop it immediately.

People from various sections of the society were present at the meeting to convey their opposition to the tradition.

– diajiworld

Of Laws, Cows and People’s Mutinies *Holy Cow ! who moved my meat

January 11, 2012 by  
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CowsKarnataka, January 08, 2012: Will the beef ban in BJP-ruled states fuel a new Mutiny? The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (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.

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 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 cross-bred 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 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 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 long-term 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?

– cynthia stephen

Holy Cow ! who moved my meat


India, January 06, 2012: Indians eat more beef than any other meat. Beef consumption in India is double the combined consumption of meat and chicken, India is also the third largest exporter of beef, but the BJP led Madhya Pradesh government is not happy about its people eating the most favourite meat.

The recent bill enacted by the MP government criminalises the consumption of beef. The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak (Madhya Pradesh prohibition of slaughter of cow-progeny Bill) can 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 Karnataka government in 2010 passed the ‘Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill’ and Gujarat this year passed the Animal Preservation (Amended) Act, both these bills criminalised cow slaughter. (The names of the bills benevolently say about banning the slaughter or protecting the cow, but in reality they ban the food habits and harass the entire community that eat the beef or involve in its production).

In the name of protecting ‘religious beliefs’, BJP many believe has encroached upon the fundamental rights of the people.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation UN (FAO) report titled Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch says the largest consumed meat in India is beef. The per capita consumption of beef in India is 26 lakh tonnes, as compared to 6 lakh tonnes of mutton and 14 lakh tonnes of pork. It is clearly the common choice of meat for the Indian population. In fact after meeting the local consumption, a United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) data says India exports 1.28 million tonnes of beef, making it the third largest exporter in the world.

“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”, says Dr Julukarao Srinivas Postdoctoral fellow, University of Hyderabad.

For example the tribal population of Madhya Pradesh is 13 million, and beef always has been an important part of the tribal food culture. In Spite of the large section of the population consuming this meat, the bill received a Presidential nod.

Cow as the holy animal of Hindus has always been a disputed belief. D N Jha in his book ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’ explains this misrepresentation of cow’s holiness. Rigveda has references of cow being one of the most commonly consumed food item among the Brahmins. The practise of cow slaughter was an integral part of the Aryan cult. Jha writes cow and bull meat was one of the favourite delicacies of the Hindu deity Indra.

“Most Indians eat beef, and Indians mostly eat beef. The principled non eaters of beef are a minority in India”, says ChittiBabu Padavala a Dalit Marxist scholar.

The BJP has tried to justify such bills in the name of animal rights, but if it indeed wants to protect the rights of the animal, why protect only cow. “If animal rights is the argument, why not take care of them at our respective homes, and why not also protect snakes, goats and other animals that need help”, says Ran Puniyani, Member of All India Secular Forum. “This law is inhuman, and denies the right of food to a large section of beef eating population,” says Puniyani. “This is yet another tactic to harass the Muslim and tribal population in MP, and saffronise the state”.

But what is appalling is secularists have remained silent over this issue. Padvala thinks that the lack of outrage over this ban is also because fight against Hindutva is led by individuals who are less likely to eat beef at their homes. He says the upper caste leadership never took the long standing suggestion by dalit activist Kancha Illaiah for organising beef eating by dalits and Muslims to combate Hindutva and assert their own distinctive culture.

“It is difficult to say which is more shocking, the barbaric law or the lack of outrage at it,” wonders Padavala.

– m.economictimes

Intl Green Award for Bangalore Environ Group

December 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Government, Karnataka, National, newsletter-india, State

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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

Karnataka – Too little, too late *Take care of old Mass books

December 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Government, India, Karnataka, Karnataka, newsletter-lead, Persecution, State

Comments Off on Karnataka – Too little, too late *Take care of old Mass books

CaseKarnataka, December 2, 2011: Church leaders today called on the Karnataka government to bring the real perpetrators of sectarian violence in 2008 to justice, following its decision yesterday to drop charges leveled at 338 Christian youths.

Karnataka’s decision to withdraw charges against the Christian youths is highly commendable, but the guilty ones are still at large, they said.

Charges were leveled at the Christians for reacting against a wave of attacks in 2008 against churches and prayer halls by militant Hindu groups who had accused Christians of trying to make forced conversions.

The decision to withdraw the charges was made by state Chief Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda at a cabinet meeting yesterday.

“The Church in Karnataka is grateful to the government, but this is not enough,” Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore said.

“The government has failed to identify those who made innocent youths suffer for more than three years,” said the archbishop, who is also the president of Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights.

He urged the government to reject a report from an inquiry into the violence by Justice B. K. Somashekhara Commission, as it had not identified any of the real ringleaders.

Another Catholic bishop questioned why it took so long to drop the charges.

“We knocked at every possible door. If this decision was taken earlier we would have been much happier,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore.

Many of the youths who were charged expressed relief but said they should never have been accused in the first place.

One of them, Stany D’Cunha from Mangalore, said: “I had to attend court nine times in the last three years because a criminal case was registered against me because I was in a prayer group in our church.”

Before the cabinet meeting yesterday, the chief minister also assured the Christian community the government will help restore 83-churches in the state.

– ucan

Take care of the old Mass books

Roman Missal CrediUSA, November 27, 2011: After the switch to a new Mass translation, old liturgical books should be respectfully buried, either intact or after being burned, according to the U.S. bishops.

“Whether or not the Sacramentary has been blessed by an official rite, it is appropriate to treat it with care,” the bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship said in a recent response to several queries from U.S. Catholics. “Its disposal should be handled with respect.”

The bishops’ liturgy office recommends “burying the Sacramentary in an appropriate location on church grounds, or perhaps in a parish cemetery,” after the switch to a new liturgical translation on Nov. 27.

“Some have even suggested following a custom used in various Eastern churches,” they noted, “whereby liturgical books or Bibles are placed in the coffin of the deceased as a sign of devotion and love for the liturgy.”

Some Catholics may be surprised to learn that it is appropriate – and even customary – to burn or bury old liturgical books and other religious items.

According to the U.S. bishops’ secretariat, the ashes of liturgical books should be collected and “placed in the ground in an appropriate location on church grounds.”

Catholic tradition offers these means of disposal in order to ensure that objects used in worship are not casually discarded or mistreated, even when they are no longer needed for use or reference.

The liturgy office advised parishes to keep a copy of the old liturgical translations in their archives or libraries, after the switch to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.

Hymnals and hand missals are also among the types of items that would traditionally be blessed, and should therefore be replaced respectfully after the changeover.

But the secretariat acknowledged it “might be difficult to appropriately dispose of a large number of copies of such books.”

If burning and burial are impractical, non-archived hymnals and hand missals “could be stored for use by prayer or study groups in the parish, offered to parishioners for their own private devotional use, or donated to other small communities that could effectively make use of them.”

The secretariat also noted that the new liturgical books ought to be blessed, using the rite provided in the Church’s official “Book of Blessings,” before their first use on 2011’s first Sunday of Advent – possibly at a weekday Mass the preceding Saturday, or outside Mass at a separate parish gathering.

– can/ewtn news

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