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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

TamilNadu: Attempts to create a Christian votebank

conversionwatch@yahoo.com wrote:

To: ConversionWatch@yahoogroups.com
From: <conversionwatch@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2007 23:04:54 -0400
Subject: [ConversionWatch] TamilNadu: Attempts to create a Christian votebank TamilNadu: Attempts to create a Christian votebank

April 22, 2007

(Having converted a sizable segment of Tamil Nadu, missionary groups are planning to control the State Government)

source: Organiser, April 22, 2007
This is vote bank

“No political party can come to power in Tamil Nadu without the support of minorities”, asserted Bishop Peter Fernando, chief of Madurai Diocese, while talking to presspersons in Madurai recently after a meeting of a political convention of catholic Christians of Tamil Nadu and Podicherry. The Bishop demanded fulfilment of the election promise by parties, namely, reservation for Christians and Muslims. The meeting also passed a resolution demanding that cemetries be handed over to the Christian community. The meeting repeated the demand for resrvation to ‘Dalit Christians’ on par with Hindu Harijans. The meeting called upon Christians in all political parties to work for religious interests as parties divide Christians.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Video: Christian aggression in Cauvery Layout, India

Video Series: Christian aggression in Cauvery Layout, India

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Monday, 26 February 2007
Here is a 4 part series on the aggression by a Christian group in a residential layout  called Cauvery layout in Karnataka, India


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[ConversionWatch] Lobby Power in India: Discovery Channel puts off Jesus documentary telecast

conversionwatch@yahoo.com wrote:

To: ConversionWatch@yahoogroups.com
From: <conversionwatch@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 11:51:35 -0600
Subject: [ConversionWatch] Lobby Power in India: Discovery Channel puts off Jesus documentary telecast

Lobby Power in India: Discovery Channel puts off Jesus documentary telecast

Friday, March 02, 2007
India E News

Roman Catholics in the metropolis Friday called off their protest against the proposed screening of a controversial documentary on Jesus Christ after broadcaster Discovery Channel decided not to telecast the programme in India.

The Catholics in the city had earlier sprung into action against the worldwide premiere \'The Lost Tomb of Jesus\' that claims to show the burial place of Jesus challenging the basic tenets the Christian faith.

\'The Lost Tomb of Jesus\' is a feature documentary, directed by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron of the \'Titanic\' fame, Flex Golubev and Ric Esther Bienstock.

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) had written to the Discovery Channel\'s office in New Delhi requesting it to refrain from broadcasting the feature documentary scheduled for a worldwide premiere Sunday.

\'We have called off our protest from today after Discovery Channel expressed regret that the channel had inadvertently hurt religious sentiments of the Christian community and decided not to telecast the feature documentary in India,\' said CSF general secretary Joseph Dias here Friday.

\'We had taken up the matter with the TV channel, sending it notices threatening an agitation on the day of telecast and legal action. The CSF had also presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers including the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi in a move to prevent the telecast.\'

Dias said that CSF would, however, continue with its awareness campaign against the documentary.

\'We will continue with our awareness campaign against the documentary, exposing the falsehood promoted or implied by it.\'

\'We will also take up the issue with the Indian government for the possibility of banning the book by Jabobovici slated to be released before Easter and also ban the sale of DVDs intended to cash in on the hype the documentary has generated ,\' Dias told IANS.

The CSF is also protesting references made in the documentary to Judah as the secret son of Jesus through Mary Magdalene and portrayal of Mathew, one of the writers of the Gospels, as a maternal relative of Jesus and the mention of the burial of Jesus\' siblings in the same tomb.

\'The Lost Tomb of Jesus\' traces the discovery of thousands of tombs containing ossuaries or limestone boxes that served as coffins in the first-century Jerusalem.

One of these tombs was found to contain ten ossuaries. The feature documentary makes a case that the 2000-year-old \'Tombs of the Ten Ossuaries \' belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth.

The film also documents DNA extraction from human residue found in two of the ossuaries and reveals new evidence that throws light on Jesus\' relationship with Mary Magdalene.

The documentary includes dramatic recreations, based on the latest historical evidence, illustrating accurate images of Jesus of Nazareth, his family, his followers, his ministry, his crucifixion and his entombment.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Madassas or America's Faith Based Initiatives?

Evangelicals' work in Africa criticized

By KATY POWNALL, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 1, 2:51 PM ET
ALER, Uganda - "Telephone to Jesus. Hello?" the children of Aler refugee camp sing, their bare feet thumping the ground as they dance wildly in their concrete chapel. Most camp residents have never used a phone, but they are learning about Jesus. The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, smiled as he watched the children — members of a club run by Samaritan's Purse, the Christian missionary organization he leads.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fwd: [ConversionWatch] Baptist Tirupati, Pentecostal Mantralaya

Baptist Tirupati, Pentecostal Mantralaya
> J. Anil Kumar
> Feburary 18, 2007
> Karmavira, Kannada Weekly
> (A reader translated the article from Kannada)
> On January 8th, I reached Mantralaya. After taking the darshana of Brandavan of Sri Raghavendra
> Swami, I decided to go to the Panchamukhi-kshetra where Swami-ji had performed penance for 12
> years. This is the place where Raghavendra Swami was blessed by Sri Anjaneya Swami. To go to
> Panchamukhi which is 21 kilometers from Mantralaya, I took an auto-rickshaw.
> As soon as we left Mantralaya, we saw a Christian colony. We saw a white colored church. The
> door of every house had a big cross on it. On the top of every house there was a picture of
> Jesus also. I thought they may be the houses of local Christians.
> After I continued on the road for 5 kilometers, I saw another large church. Around the church
> there were crosses on all the surrounding homes. It seems that the homes were recently
> decorated. As we came near the Panchamukhi village, a big steeple welcomed us. There also was
> a big church under construction.
> Out of curiosity, I asked the auto-rickshaw driver about this. He said the following: \"Sir,
> in every village in this district, there is a church. Some villages are completely Christian.
> These people have been tempted with new houses or jeeps or auto-rickshaws. This is
> famine-struck area. The farmers are on point of committing suicide. In this state of
> desperation, who would say no to money? \"
> The above experience of Gurudutt, a Non-Resident Indian. He has already published this on the
> internet. A copy was sent to me from my friend by email.
> There was a campaign to convert Tirupati to Christianity. Pejawar Swamiji investigated and
> confirmed this to be true. He then fought against this plot of the missionaries. After the
> opposition of the Christian community of Andhra, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Samuel
> Rajashekhar Reddy pledged not to endanger the Hindu identity of Tirumala.
> Now the same warning bells are being heard around Mantralaya. Why is it happening like this?
> \"We shall encircle and undermine them and finally storm…\". This was the proclamation of the
> missionaries of the 19th century. Even in the present day, this motto is still in practice.
> This summer in the Iraq War, as the American army advanced, American Baptist and Pentecostal
> missionaries entered Iraq to convert the people like how sheep are herded. In 2004, the
> Christian Science Monitor reported in detail about this. It is breaking news that now
> candlelight processions have begun in villages across Nepal.
> For the last two decades, the Christian churches in Europe have lost the attraction of the
> people. This is no secret. In European news media, reports and statistics are always
> confirming this. Therefore, the Catholic Church in Europe has wanted to convert people from
> other parts of the world for a long time.
> America, which is comprised of groups of small churches, is competing with the Catholic Church.
> Before Catholic missionaries can start their work abroad, the Baptist and Pentecostal
> missionaries beat them to it. They will spend any amount for money to bring non-Christians into
> their fold. It is difficult for the Vatican accept this approach.
> Cut-throat marketing! To convert non-Christians, there is competition between different
> churches! Not only this, but there is also a competition to convert other Christians from one
> church to another. In this also, American are far ahead.
> There is reason for this. In America, conversion has become a business. Missionaries have good
> income. Their plans have a budget and their commissions are proportionate to their success.
> Vacation, traveling and other expenses are available to them. They are not only ordinary
> missionaries; these people may be tele-evangelists like Pat Robertson and Benny Hinn. They are
> kings of billions of dollar businesses!
> To resolve the inter-church disputes, arising from attempts to convert non-Christians, there was
> recently a conference in Geneva to consider the viewpoints of all churches. As a result, a
> common \"code of conduct\" for conversion was written.
> \"In one Christian family, the husband is Catholic, the wife is an Evangelical Protestant, and
> the children are Pentecostal Protestant. We should stop this,\" says Sweden Lutheran Reverend
> Hans Yuko who took part in the Geneva World Council of Churches Conference. By 2009, the
> code-of-conduct is expected to be ready.
> This basically means \"We should not eat the whole animal when it is caught in a trap, we should
> compromise by dividing it and eating in pieces\"!
> In other words, Mantralaya is for one group, Tirupati is for another group, Iraq is for another
> and Nepal is yet for another!

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Who is supreme - the Pope or the Supreme Court?

Who is supreme - the Pope or the Supreme Court?

Wednesday May 31 2006 10:34 IST
S Gurumurthy

The Pope wears two hats � one religious, as the global pontiff of the Catholics, and the other political, as the head of Vatican State. The second one gives him and the Catholic faith a global political and diplomatic status which no other faith can match. As the head of the Vatican State, the Pope relates to all heads of State as a political equal and more.

When the present Pope�s predecessor, John Paul II, came to India, he proclaimed that the Church planted the Cross on Europe first, then on Americas and Africa and now, he said, it was Asia�s turn to bear the Cross! Asia was ripe, he said, for harvesting the souls � read heathens � for Christ.

In Latin America, John Paul II abused the Protestant Christians as �wolves� for targeting the Catholics for conversion! Why the hate for conversions in Latin America and love for it in Asia? Simple, the more efficient conversions by Protestants in Latin America are endangering the Catholics, but Asia, with its huge and weak heathen population, offers itself almost competition-free for the Church to convert.

Working on his predecessor�s intent to plant the Cross on India, the new Pope Benedict XVI has moved further and virtually abused India for growing religious intolerance and for impeding the church work by anti-conversion laws. Two weeks back when the new Indian ambassador to Vatican, Amitava Tripathi, presented his credentials to the Pope as the head of the Vatican state, the Pope shocked him saying that Indian laws against conversions offend freedom of faith and should be rejected as unconstitutional.

This angered even the normally timid, secular Indian establishment to react sharply, call in Vatican�s charge de affairs in Delhi and tell him sternly of the Indian Government�s strong disapproval of the Pope�s conduct.

But has the Pope the moral authority to fault others for lack of religious freedom? In the Pope�s own Vatican State no faith other than his own is allowed. If the Papacy regards even other Orthodox and Protestant Christians as heretics, where is the question of freedom for idol worshipping heathens to whom the Bible itself denies freedom. The Vatican Constitution is named as �Apostolic Constitution�, that is constitution of Christian missionaries! Spain where till date Catholicism is the state religion has again a treaty with the Papacy. Will the Pope allow freedom of faith in Vatican and sermonise on freedom to those countries?

Presumably the Pope was misled by his establishment in India. The Churches selling his faith in India have been campaigning, but falsely, that the anti-conversion laws passed by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa States decades earlier and by the Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Governments in recent times are unconstitutional. But long before, in 1977, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had overruled the challenge to anti-conversion laws of MP and Orissa. The Pope�s own agencies in India had challenged the laws. The Court firmly told the soul-harvesters that the religious freedom under the Indian Constitution was limited to the right to propagate one�s faith and did not extend to convert other faithfuls.

The MP Government did not wake up one fine morning and pass this law. In 1950s it had appointed a committee headed by Justice Neogi, which included a Christian member who was also a Gandhian, to study allegations of forcible and fraudulent conversions of tribal and illiterate people by foreign missionaries. The committee submitted a voluminous, unanimous report detailing fraudulent conversions by the Church. The MP Government then under the Congress party merely enacted the recommendations of the Neogi committee. The pontiff of Indian secularism Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru was then the Prime Minister.

The Supreme Court has declared that religious conversion is not part of religious freedom in the Indian Constitution and Indian anti-conversion laws are constitutional. But the Pope asserts the other way round, that is, conversion is part of freedom of faith in the Indian Constitution and Indian anti-conversional laws are unconstitutional. The question is: who is supreme in India � the Pope or the Supreme Court?

Awake! O Arjuna.
"One Nation Under Constituiton. Not God. Not Religion"

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re Brahmins the Dalits of today? - Francois Gautier


Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?

May 23, 2006

At a time when the Congress government wants to raise the quota for Other Backward Classes to 49.5 per cent in private and public sectors, nobody talks about the plight of the upper castes. The public image of the Brahmins, for instance, is that of an affluent, pampered class. But is it so today?

Doctors in arms

There are 50 Sulabh Shauchalayas (public toilets) in Delhi; all of them are cleaned and looked after by Brahmins (this very welcome public institution was started by a Brahmin). A far cry from the elitist image that Brahmins have!

There are five to six Brahmins manning each Shauchalaya. They came to Delhi eight to ten years back looking for a source of income, as they were a minority in most of their villages, where Dalits are in majority (60 per cent to 65 per cent). In most villages in UP and Bihar, Dalits have a union which helps them secure jobs in villages.

At Ground Zero of the quota protests

Did you know that you also stumble upon a number of Brahmins working as coolies at Delhi's railway stations? One of them, Kripa Shankar Sharma, says while his daughter is doing her Bachelors in Science he is not sure if she will secure a job.

"Dalits often have five to six kids, but they are confident of placing them easily and well," he says. As a result, the Dalit population is increasing in villages. He adds: "Dalits are provided with housing, even their pigs have spaces; whereas there is no provision for gaushalas (cowsheds) for the cows of the Brahmins."

The middle class deserves what it is getting

You also find Brahmin rickshaw pullers in Delhi. 50 per cent of Patel Nagar's rickshaw pullers are Brahmins who like their brethren have moved to the city looking for jobs for lack of employment opportunities and poor education in their villages.

Even after toiling the whole day, Vijay Pratap and Sidharth Tiwari, two Brahmin rickshaw pullers, say they are hardly able to make ends meet. These men make about Rs 100 to Rs 150 on an average every day from which they pay a daily rent of Rs 25 for their rickshaws and Rs 500 to Rs 600 towards the rent of their rooms which is shared by 3 to 4 people or their families.

Did you also know that most rickshaw pullers in Banaras are Brahmins?

Do our institutes connect with the real India?

This reverse discrimination is also found in bureaucracy and politics. Most of the intellectual Brahmin Tamil class has emigrated outside Tamil Nadu. Only 5 seats out of 600 in the combined UP and Bihar assembly are held by Brahmins -- the rest are in the hands of the Yadavs.

400,000 Brahmins of the Kashmir valley, the once respected Kashmiri Pandits, now live as refugees in their own country, sometimes in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi in appalling conditions. But who gives a damn about them? Their vote bank is negligible.

And this is not limited to the North alone. 75 per cent of domestic help and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmins. A study of the Brahmin community in a district in Andhra Pradesh (Brahmins of India by J Radhakrishna, published by Chugh Publications) reveals that today all purohits live below the poverty line.

Eighty per cent of those surveyed stated that their poverty and traditional style of dress and hair (tuft) had made them the butt of ridicule. Financial constraints coupled with the existing system of reservations for the 'backward classes' prevented them from providing secular education to their children.

Who are the real Dalits of India?

In fact, according to this study there has been an overall decline in the number of Brahmin students. With the average income of Brahmins being less than that of non-Brahmins, a high percentage of Brahmin students drop out at the intermediate level. In the 5 to 18 year age group, 44 per cent Brahmin students stopped education at the primary level and 36 per cent at the pre-matriculation level.

The study also found that 55 per cent of all Brahmins lived below the poverty line -- below a per capita income of Rs 650 a month. Since 45 per cent of the total population of India is officially stated to be below the poverty line it follows that the percentage of destitute Brahmins is 10 per cent higher than the all-India figure.

There is no reason to believe that the condition of Brahmins in other parts of the country is different. In this connection it would be revealing to quote the per capita income of various communities as stated by the Karnataka finance minister in the state assembly: Christians Rs 1,562, Vokkaligas Rs 914, Muslims Rs 794, Scheduled castes Rs 680, Scheduled Tribes Rs 577 and Brahmins Rs 537.

Appalling poverty compels many Brahmins to migrate to towns leading to spatial dispersal and consequent decline in their local influence and institutions. Brahmins initially turned to government jobs and modern occupations such as law and medicine. But preferential policies for the non-Brahmins have forced Brahmins to retreat in these spheres as well.

Caste shouldn't overwrite merit

According to the Andhra Pradesh study, the largest percentage of Brahmins today are employed as domestic servants. The unemployment rate among them is as high as 75 per cent. Seventy percent of Brahmins are still relying on their hereditary vocation. There are hundreds of families that are surviving on just Rs 500 per month as priests in various temples (Department of Endowments statistics).

Priests are under tremendous difficulty today, sometimes even forced to beg for alms for survival. There are innumerable instances in which Brahmin priests who spent a lifetime studying Vedas are being ridiculed and disrespected.

At Tamil Nadu's Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest's monthly salary is Rs 300 (Census Department studies) and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staff at the same temple receive Rs 2,500 plus per month. But these facts have not modified the priests' reputation as 'haves' and as 'exploiters.' The destitution of Hindu priests has moved none, not even the parties known for Hindu sympathy.

The tragedy of modern India is that the combined votes of Dalits/OBC and Muslims are enough for any government to be elected. The Congress quickly cashed in on it after Independence, but probably no other government than Sonia Gandhi's has gone so far in shamelessly dividing Indian society for garnering votes.

From the Indian Express: 'These measures will not achieve social justice'

The Indian government gives Rs 1,000 crores (Rs 10 billion) for salaries of imams in mosques and Rs 200 crores (Rs 2 billion) as Haj subsidies. But no such help is available to Brahmins and upper castes. As a result, not only the Brahmins, but also some of the other upper castes in the lower middle class are suffering in silence today, seeing the minorities slowly taking control of their majority.

How reservations fracture Hindu society

Anti-Brahminism originated in, and still prospers in anti-Hindu circles. It is particularly welcome among Marxists, missionaries, Muslims, separatists and Christian-backed Dalit movements of different hues. When they attack Brahmins, their target is unmistakably Hinduism.

So the question has to be asked: are the Brahmins (and other upper castes) of yesterday becoming the Dalits of today?

Awake! O Arjuna.
"One Nation Under Constituiton. Not God. Not Religion"

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Da Vinci: Cross with the Code?

Da Vinci: Cross with the Code?


By Sandhya Jain

It must have come as a surprise to Information & Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Das-munshi that India�s supposedly small Roman Catholic community can field two hundred organisations to protest the screening of the Hollywood blockbuster, Da Vinci Code, based on Dan Brown�s bestselling novel by the same name. Certainly it would have mattered to him that not only are these the UPA chairperson�s co-religionists, but belong to the same majority Christian sect, headquartered in Vatican City.

Little wonder then, that while the Christian world will view the film with no cuts or disclaimers, India�s I&B Minister feels the Catholic Churches� Association of India (CCAI), rather than the Censor Board, should have the final say in the matter. After all, this is a secular country, and secularism, as I have argued elsewhere, is the twin god of Christianity, the face it turns towards the world when it wants to conceal the designs of the cross.

In fairness, however, the Vatican and the Indian evangelical industry are right to be wary of the film. The Da Vinci Code is no ordinary fiction. It represents the latest in a long history of dissent in the Catholic church regarding the true nature of the mission of the Christian church that suddenly emerged in Rome in the early centuries AD. Was Christianity ever intended to be anything more than a political movement, or did it have religio-political goals, and why did Jesus and his Apostles break with Jewish community and opt for aggressive evangelism among non-Jews? These are not questions that will go away until the Vatican opens its archives and furnishes some credible answers.

Indeed, the core issue is how and when the early Christian Church conceived its plan for world dominion, and the driving force behind this ambition. Anyone who is concerned with fundamentalist Islam�s jehadi face and its plans for world conquest, must be interested in the early Christian Church, as this is where a blueprint for such dominion was first conceived and implemented. It would be a mistake to believe that the quest has been consigned to the dustbin of history�all rich Western nations have a huge budget for evangelical activities oversees, and conversion is a major foreign policy agenda. Indeed, the Christian nations do not spare even fellow monotheistic traditions like Islam, and Christian missionaries are very active in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, not to mention other parts of the globe.

This central mission of an unknown group striving for control of the whole world and its economic resources and thought processes, is what the Da Vinci Code exposes in the form of a novel. It is bound to make the thinking public ponder about the supposedly spiritual content of this faith, which is unable to win adherents without resort to special tactics, and does not even have a credible theology around its key figures. Forget that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child or children, or even the stories that he was not the first born child of his own mother, Mary. These are side issues for Indians.

What is important, however, is why there is so much suspense about key components of the Christian story, when it is a religion that supposedly began with one man and his band of followers. It would be safe to say that Jesus was born in a Jewish family and initially aspired for leadership of his own community. On being shunned, he turned towards the Gentiles, the non-Jews of Jerusalem, who were in search of a religion.

But what was the religion he preached? Was the heavenly father he spoke of the same as the Jewish Yahweh, or someone else? Who or what is the Holy Ghost, the third element of the Christian Trinity? To the best of my knowledge, there is absolutely no credible information about the role and purpose of this divinity in the spiritual evolution of Christians. Ultimately, we are asked to believe what the Vatican says, and it says very little beyond the fact that belief in Jesus is imperative for human salvation. Yet Christians are prone to deride Muslims for similar adherence to the Prophethood of Mohammad.

This makes the criticism of the film by some Indian Muslim organisations highly suspect, and the UPA government would do well to take adequate precautions that vested elements do not create trouble on the pretext of protests against the film. The protests are an act of muscle-flexing by the Christian church that is determined to plant the cross in India. And typically, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, a Roman by birth and a Catholic by faith, has refused to reveal her mind over the agitations, though anyone who has observed the disproportionate rise of Christians to top jobs in the Congress party and its state governments will know how avidly she promotes her community�s interests.

Awake! O Arjuna.
"One Nation Under Constituiton. Not God. Not Religion"

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Hypocritical NCM wants to stop Christians from reconverting to Hinduism

Hypocritical NCM wants to stop Christians from reconverting to Hinduism


Monday, January 16, 2006

After failing to broker peace between the saffron brigade and tribal Christians in Dangs, Gujarat, the National Minorities Commission (NCM) has asked the Centre to intervene to check the ‘‘illegal and unconstitutional’’ reconversion of tribals reportedly being planned by VHP-led groups next month.

In a letter to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, NCM member V V Augustine has said that the proposed programme of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the local Adivasi Kalyan Samiti ‘‘had led to simmering tensions which could flare up any time’’.

The NCM member had visited Dangs to assess the situation arising out of the proposed ‘‘re-conversion’’—the Ghar vapsi samaroh to be organised at the Sabri Kumbh Mela in mid-february.

In its report on the situation in the district, the NCW says that ‘‘tribal Christians are feeling insecure and fearing attacks as the day approaches’’. Dangs’ 1.8 lakh population is spread over 113 villages and there is a tussle between missionaries and Hindu groups to bring the tribals into their folds.

The NCM report says the Hindu organisations ‘‘made no bones about their plans to reconvert the tribal christians and bring them back to the Hindu fold’’ when the minorities panel met their leaders.

Augustine alleged that ‘‘the Hindu groups are violating the Constitution and also the anti-conversion law of Gujarat by holding such a programme.”

The NCM has conveyed its apprehensions of a likely flare up in the communal situation in Dangs to Chief Minister Narendra Modi too.

The report says the VHP had distributed pamphlets in which the Adivasis have been advised to hoist an orange flag on their houses during the Kumbh. ‘‘This, the Christians fear, was meant to make identification of the Christian houses easier and make them vulnerable,’’ the report says.

Awake! O Arjuna.
"One Nation Under Constituiton. Not God. Not Religion"

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Bush refuses to pay tribute to "pagan" Mahatma Gandhi

Bush refuses to pay tribute to "pagan" Mahatma Gandhi


February 09, 2006

George W Bush's protocol handlers have notified South Block that the American President's deep belief in his born again faith precludes his visiting Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi at New Delhi's Raj Ghat -- during his forthcoming visit to India.

When asked -- by reporters on a recent trip aboard Air Force One -- if he will be breaking a decades long tradition of foreign dignitaries visiting India paying respect to the Father of India, Mr Bush, as is his wont, was caught off guard and mumbled something about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ views cremation as a pagan practice.

Astonishingly, the Indian press and the liberal elite have thus far given a free pass to this blatant insult to the memory of the Mahatma and to all Indians.

Indeed, none of the alacrity shown in demanding US Ambassador David Mulford's head -- for his ostensibly insensitive comments on India's Iran policy -- has been on display in the case of Mr Bush.

Before some of those mentioned above lather themselves into a frisson of fury over the latest slight from the US hegemon, they should stop and substitute Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for George W Bush, 43rd President of the United States.

The absolutist Saudi monarch not only broke a hallowed tradition of paying homage at Raj Ghat observed by every foreign leader but offered an outrageously preposterous reason for doing so.

The king is reported to have indicated that a visit to the Mahatma's memorial would violate the principles of his faith. By inference, India's current head of State President A P J Abdul Kalam should be guilty of sacrilege for his many visits to the Samadhi.

The government may have had its (mistaken) reasons for fawning over the Saudi ruler but the near complete lack of commentary particularly in the normally strident Leftist papers such as The Hindu boggles the mind.

Should President Bush or Prime Minister Blair or even the Pope have dared to commit such an egregious folly, headlines would have blared in those Leftist organs about India's sovereignty and ancient history being trampled upon by ugly colonialists who still seek to subjugate India economically and culturally, if not militarily.

Instead, what ensued were a few tame reports that acknowledged the radically changed protocol. Of course, the king's arrival in India saw a continuance of the cravenness that resulted in the timid acceptance of the insult. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh chose to break protocol and greet the Saudi king at the airport.

Any measured analysis of the first visit of a Saudi king to India in 51 years would note that the attention from the other side was not accidental.

While the Saudis have the world's largest reserves of oil, they need new markets just as much as any other oil rich country and quite evidently foresee a resurgent India as a future economic player and potential partner.

An overarching dependence on the US has come to bite the Saudis since September 11, 2001, with negative sentiment amongst the US population and even some bureaucrats riding at an all time high.

Indeed, President Bush's latest State of the Union speech calling for alternative energy sources only underscored the need for them to look to other markets and alliances.

Arguably, there is no country better than India, with its large Muslim population together with a rapidly growing economy that offers the most potential.

Instead of recognising the not inconsiderable advantages India possesses, the government and the media elite is unfortunately intent on aligning the country with an opaque and hitherto unreliable feudal family that rules a nation by decree.

Indeed, the historical record of the Al-Sauds should cause any impartial observer to cringe at their treatment of minorities and foreigners both within and outside their country.

While it may be a while before the family hold on that country's oil patrimony is tested, it is utterly irresponsible to hitch India's energy and economic future to a country that no bookie in his or her right mind will offer odds on its enduring in its current form.

The last point also begs the question why the Oil and Natural Gas Commission's current tear to acquire assets -- almost exclusively from private Western companies accountable to shareholders -- in the name of 'energy independence' in countries tottering on the edge and led by brutal dictatorships is not viewed as tilting at windmills.

But then again, it is hard to wean away politicians and bureaucrats from a decades long regimen that calls for a government solution to almost any economic issue.

In the end, the gratuitous subservience to the Saudis results in a genuine loss of national pride. What is worse, however, is the unbridled spending of taxpayer monies in the name of energy security without involving the private sector. That is likely to have a far greater negative impact that will be felt for generations to come.

Awake! O Arjuna.
"One Nation Under Constituiton. Not God. Not Religion"

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