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Category : India
Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava: “All dharmas [truths, or religions] are equally valid.” Indians often cite this noble maxim, which was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and the country’s constitution remains firmly secular and democratic. In recent years, though, the country’s religious outlook has darkened to the point that minorities””including both Christians and Muslims””face dangers of severe persecution and violence.
The fact that that threat receives little attention in the West says much about our stereotypes of other world religions. If we saw a situation where tens of millions of Christians were being similarly maltreated by a Muslim regime, Western media and policy makers would speak out vigorously. But when the enemies of religious liberty are Hindu, members of a faith that Americans idealize, the public silence is deafening.
Although India’s ChrisÂtians do not represent a large proportion of the country’s vast population””only about 3 percent””they number about 40 million, comparable to the larger European nations. India’s Christians suffer from multiple disadvantages, especially because so many derive from people of low or no caste or from tribal communities on the margins of Hindu society. Official reluctance to accept the reality of conversions makes it difficult to assess the true extent of Christian numbers.
Indian priest Tom Uzhunnalil was reportedly crucified by Islamic State (ISIS) on Good Friday. The gruesome act was committed by the Yemen unit of the dreaded terror outfit.
Father Uzhunnalil was abducted by ISIS on March 4 in the aftermath of an attack on a church in Aden. At least 16 people were killed in the Catholic prayer hall by the Islamic militants. Eyewitnesses reveal that Father Uzhunnalil was dragged out of his room and loaded into a van. The militants were not to be seen again in the region again following the attack.
Update: CNA is reporting the news is still unconfirmed.
More than 1,000 Muslim clerics in India have ratified a religious ruling that condemns the Islamic State and calls the extremist group’s actions “un-Islamic,” a top Indian Muslim leader said Wednesday.
Religious leaders from hundreds of Islamic mosques, education institutions and civic groups across India have signed the edict, or fatwa, saying the actions of the Islamic State group went against the basic tenets of Islam.
The edict was issued by a leading Mumbai-based cleric, Mohammed Manzar Hasan Ashrafi Misbahi, and has been signed by the leaders of all the main mosques in India, which has the world’s third-largest Muslim population.
The credit crunch of 2008 was quick and brutal. With some 900 apartments coming up for imminent completion, I suddenly found myself in the firing line, facing a queue of creditors demanding their money. Any value in my business disappeared overnight as the property developers stripped the company of its cash. The next two years were the hardest of my life as our family adjusted to the dramatic change in our finances.
That same year, my 2-year-old son became critically ill. Ishaan was a sickly child and had been hospitalized many times with severe breathing difficulties. Now, with the nebulizer failing, he was rushed into resuscitation. Within minutes the ER teemed with doctors and nurses fighting for his life. His airways shut, and he was intubated to keep him alive. He was later transferred to a hospital in London.
Over the next four days, my wife and I wept uncontrollably. An American couple whom we had recently befriended began praying for Ishaan. They even got their families’ churches in the United States to pray for him. On the fourth day in the hospital, the doctor stated that it was unlikely that my son would open his eyes anytime soon. We were distraught.
But as the consultant continued doing her ward round on that fourth day, Ishaan suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. The only explanation was that we had witnessed a miracle.
A person who is very old or very ill decides to stop eating in order to die.
To members of the ancient and tiny faith of Jainism in India, that’s a tradition called santhara or sallekhana (literally thinning out).
India’s Supreme Court is considering whether to ban the practice as a form of suicide, which is punishable under law. The court is now reviewing the end-of-life ritual.
Some form of fasting is deeply rooted in many religions: Christians practice Lent. Muslims have Ramadan. The Jewish tradition is to fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Hindu calendar is rich with days of forsaking food.
But right now the attention is on the custom of the Jains…
Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.
Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.
Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.
India has launched a crackdown on internet pornography, banning access to more than 800 adult websites, including Playboy and Pornhub.
The restrictions followed a ruling from India’s telecoms ministry ordering internet service providers, including international telecoms groups operating in the country such as the UK’s Vodafone, to block 857 such sites.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government provided no public justification for the unexpected ban when it came into effect at the weekend.
However, on Monday India’s telecoms ministry said that the order, issued under India’s Information Technology Act, had been prompted by comments made by a supreme court judge during a hearing in July.
Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.
“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.
Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.
“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”
Through each funeral, she met them.
In India… [Tony Joseph] suggests, Christianity is doing far worse than in most parts of the world, while Hinduism is booming. Presently, he declares, around 78 percent of Indians are Hindus.
Well, yes and no. Nobody can claim that Christianity has claimed major shares of the Indian population, or that it is likely to do so in the near future. But some counter-arguments do need to be stressed, especially about the overall numbers. No sane person believes the religious content of the Indian national census, which is one of the world’s great works of creative fiction. At all levels, there is enormous pressure of all kinds ”“ cultural, political and bureaucratic ”“ to minimize the presence of all non-Hindu religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. That pressure becomes overwhelming when dealing with people of low and no caste, those who are most tempted to defect to one of the alternative faiths. Bureaucrats are especially hard to convince in matters of religious conversion from Hinduism.
That matters because such low or no caste people are so very numerous. India presently has over 200 million Dalits, the so-called untouchables. If the census is failing to pick up just a few percent of those groups who have converted to other faiths, that is potentially a huge number. In consequence, the estimate of India as 78 percent Hindu represents an extreme higher-end estimate, achieved only by making that the default stance adopted and enforced by census takers and bureaucrats. I would confidently expect future estimates of Christian numbers to decline still further as the government attitudes become chillier ”“ which has nothing whatever to do with actual numbers on the ground.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast gone to the Father to prepare a place for us: Grant us so to live in communion with thee here on earth, that hereafter we may enjoy the fullness of thy presence; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
KHAPs are informal local councils in north-western India. They meet to lay down the law on questions of marriage and caste, and are among India’s most unflinchingly conservative institutions. They have banned marriage between people of different castes, restricted it between people from the same village and stand accused of ordering honour killings to enforce their rulings, which have no legal force. India’s Supreme Court once called for khaps to be “ruthlessly stamped out”. In April 2014, however, the Satrol khap, the largest in Haryana, one of India’s richest states, relaxed its ban on inter-caste marriage and made it easier for villagers to marry among their neighbours. “This will bring revolutionary change to Haryana,” said Inder Singh, president of the khap.
The cause of the decision, he admitted, was “the declining male-female sex ratio in the state”. After years of sex-selective abortions in favour of boys, Haryana has India’s most distorted sex ratio: 114 males of all ages for every 100 females. In their search for brides, young men are increasingly looking out of caste, out of district and out of state. “This is the only way out to keep our old traditions alive,” said Mr Singh. “Instead of getting a bride from outside the state who takes time to adjust, we preferred to prune the jurisdiction of prohibited areas.”
The global economy was more likely to enjoy a reasonable recovery over the next two years benefiting from recent falls in energy prices and exchange rate movements, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The twice-yearly forecasts show India is expected to outperform China in growth for the first time in 16 years.
Although the fund has recently told countries they “could do better” to improve medium-term prospects, the World Economic Outlook is the first since 2011 to suggest economies are putting the 2009 financial crisis behind them.
hina’s economy is slowing. Brazil is struggling as commodity prices plunge. Russia, facing Western sanctions and weak oil revenue, is headed into a recession.
As other big developing markets stumble, India is emerging as one of the few hopes for global growth.
The stock market and rupee are surging. Multinational companies are looking to expand their Indian operations or start new ones. The growth in India’s economy, long a laggard, just matched China’s pace in recent months.
India is riding high on the early success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a raft of new business-friendly policies instituted in his first eight months.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Tuesday that his government would not “accept violence against any religion, on any pretext” and that it would take forceful steps to prevent and prosecute such crimes, in a speech widely interpreted as a response to a series of attacks on Roman Catholic churches in and around New Delhi.
“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the minority or the majority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,” Mr. Modi said at a New Delhi ceremony to honor the recent canonization of two Indians by the Vatican. “I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”
For weeks, church officials and rights campaigners have urged Mr. Modi to address a growing sense of insecurity among the country’s religious minorities, which include large populations of Muslims and Christians.
As 2015 begins, the global economy remains weak. The United States may be seeing signs of a strengthening recovery, but the eurozone risks following Japan into recession, and emerging markets worry that their export-led growth strategies have left them vulnerable to stagnation abroad. With few signs that this year will bring any improvement, policymakers would be wise to understand the factors underlying the global economy’s anemic performance ”“ and the implications of continued feebleness.
In the words of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, we are experiencing the “new mediocre.” The implication is that growth is unacceptably low relative to potential and that more can be done to lift it, especially given that some major economies are flirting with deflation.
Conventional policy advice urges innovative monetary interventions bearing an ever expanding array of acronyms, even as governments are admonished to spend on “obvious” needs such as infrastructure. The need for structural reforms is acknowledged, but they are typically deemed painful, and possibly growth-reducing in the short run. So the focus remains on monetary and fiscal stimulus ”“ and as much of it as possible, given the deadening effects of debt overhang.
And yet, the efficacy of such policy advice remains to be seen.
Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
The terrorist attack on a Pakistani school Tuesday continues to evoke a global outcry. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan has condemned the Taliban group in Pakistan that took credit for slaughtering 148 people, of whom 132 were children. In Pakistan, tens of thousands of people held candlelight vigils nationwide, holding up signs saying “Enough!”
But the most touching and perhaps meaningful reaction took place in India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary and a victim itself of Pakistani-led terror over a territorial dispute between the two countries.
On Wednesday, Indian students in thousands of schools and colleges observed two minutes of silence or wrote messages in their scrapbooks for the young victims. “We also prayed for the quick recovery of the injured students and the grieving family members,” one school official told The Times of India.
[This week]…the only person ever banned by the United States because of alleged religious freedom violations””India’s newly-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi””will begin a four-day tour on American shores.
After Modi failed to prevent the riot deaths of 1,000 Muslims in 2002 while he was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, the State Department leaned on a little-known provision in the International Religious Freedom Act that says foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” shouldn’t be admitted to America. The Wall Street Journal offers more details.
The visa restriction might have been permanent, but this summer Modi was elected to the most powerful political position in India. He’ll meet with President Obama and major business corporations during his visit from September 26-30. One American legal group filed suit against Modi this week, though the move is largely seen as symbolic, reports Reuters.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is heading to New York this weekend to meet with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Haley’s office said Friday the governor will be joined by her husband and her parents, who were born in India. Haley will also spend some time in private discussions with Modi on Sunday.
“As we approach the first anniversary of the horrific suicide bombings at All Saints Church, Peshawar ”“ which made martyrs of more than 100 Christians and wounded many more ”“ firstly our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were bereaved and injured in these terrible attacks. As we have done, so must we continue to pray fervently for Jesus Christ to comfort all those whose lives were changed forever by these evil acts. Meanwhile we must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people there.
“In May I visited Pakistan’s Anglican community ”“ who number 800,000 in a population of 180 million ”“ and I was appalled to hear and see evidence of the hatred, violence and persecution they face. As I sat among them, I heard the searing anguish in their cry for the right to worship in freedom and safety. But I was also moved and inspired by their steadfastness and courage, which is grounded in deep and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ.
After a year of silence, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has exhorted his “Muslim brothers” to join a newly established South Asia faction that would “defend the vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent.”
He listed Burma and Bangladesh, and specifically named three states in India ”” Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir. In disputed Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state ”” which is claimed by both Pakistan and India ”” an insurgency agitates for independence. Assam has its own separatist movement and Gujarat was the site of religious riots in which 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in 2002.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then Gujarat’s chief minister.
Friday’s headlines in Indian newspapers reflected the general worry: “Clear and Present Qaeda Danger,” said The Times of India. “India Now In Al Qaeda sights,” wrote The Hindu.
Controversial comments made by two ministers of the BJP-led Goa government, one wishing for a Hindu nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another claiming India is already one, created an uproar both in the state assembly and across social media Friday.
Minutes after the opposition Congress and an independent legislator staged a walked out demanding a clarification from Co-operation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar for his Thursday’s comments that India would become a Hindu nation if everyone supported Modi, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza dropped another bombshell, saying India was always a Hindu country and that he was Christian Hindu.
“India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I, am a Christian Hindu,” D’Souza, one of the seniormost minority members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa, told reporters in the assembly complex.
The ‘Hindu nation’ comments have found backers amongst Hindu right wing groups, but have also been the target of criticism from other politicians as well as civil society commentators on the social media.
Indian police arrested 17 men they say are members of a fringe Hindu nationalist group on suspicion of killing a Muslim computer engineer, in a case that has renewed concerns about religious violence in the world’s largest democracy.
Police said the men beat to death 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in the western city of Pune because he was Muslim. The attack happened Monday night after days of anti-Muslim incidents, said Additional Commissioner of Police Abdur Rehman. “He was a poor man, returning home after performing prayers at the mosque” and easily identifiable as a Muslim because of his beard and skullcap, Mr. Rehman said.
The killing has stoked fears among Muslims and others that Hindu fundamentalist groups energized by the recent landslide election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu-nationalist roots, could resort to violence.
India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.
Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”
Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages””administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament””that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India on Monday.
It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state will attend such a ceremony in the other.
The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars in the past 60 years.
Father Michael Amaladoss, one of the most respected theologians in India, is said by some to be under suspicion from the Vatican’s watchdog on doctrinal orthodoxy, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He was summoned to Rome for a series of “conversations” with the CDF, although reports differ over how cordial these conversations were.
The scrutiny of Amaladoss stems from a book he wrote, The Asian Jesus, which grapples with an issue that has bedeviled Christians in Asia for centuries: how to present Jesus Christ as a genuine fellow Asian to the millions of our countrymen, who often see him as a white European import.
This is not just a matter of visual iconography, but of theology as well: What has Jesus Christ to say to the world religions of India? This is what Amaladoss tries to answer.
Ali Husain is a prosperous young Indian Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.
In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community’s fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.
Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state’s pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.
Modi’s new government cannot ”“ indeed, must not ”“ abolish the democratic rules that permit minorities to flourish. With its various ethnic groups, religions, castes, and 30 languages used by more than a million native speakers each (and another 105 spoken by at least 10,000 people), India is more culturally diverse than the entire European Union ”“ but with twice as many people. Without the emphasis on compromise, peaceful dispute resolution, and minority rights inherent to democracy, a united India could not exist.
So Modi’s challenge is to overcome the obstacles to growth-promoting polices using democratic methods. Here, the election has brought good news: the growing strength of India’s growing middle class, a potent ally in the cause of pursuing the needed economic reforms.
That middle class consists of propertied, salaried people, many of them young, who see government as an impersonal enforcer of the law and a neutral arbiter of disputes, rather than as a source of funds and favors. The votes of such people helped Modi win the election. His success in office will depend on how well he can harness the power of the middle class to overcome the political obstacles to the economic growth that its members demand.