Several Christian, Muslim and secular groups came together Thursday in the Indian state of Karnataka to protest a recent move by the state government to teach Hindu scripture in state-run schools.
In the second such protest in three days in the capital city of Bangalore, protesters gathered at the Gandhi Statue asking the government to cancel the circular – a written policy statement – that made it mandatory for the state-run schools to teach Bhagavad Gita to all its students.
The state is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and officials have admitted that policy promoted by the state’s education department was prompted by Hindu priests who have been campaigning to teach the Hindu scripture among school children since 2006. more >>
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health Minister of India, has today rebuked suggestions that he said homosexuality was a disease. Azad claims he was misquoted by media after reports emerged suggesting that he had said being gay was a disease.
Among Azad’s minced words were statements in Hindu about “men who have sex with men” and the word “unnatural”.
Azad has tried to clear up his blunders by claiming he was referring to HIV as a disease, not homosexuality. The topic of HIV in Azad’s speech came about as he addressed the issue of free trade negotiations that could prevent India from producing affordable generic drugs. more >>
NEW DELHI– A Catholic and two Hindu visitors with leprosy in Karnataka state were freed on bail on Tuesday (June 14), two days after they were beaten by suspected Hindu extremists and arrested on charges of forcible conversion.
Police arrested the Catholic, retired Indian Army Cpl. Henry Baptist Robey, and two guests from Tamil Nadu state, Ram Moorthy and another identified only as Mani, from Robey’s house on Hennur-Bellary Road in the state capital of Bangalore while they and others were celebrating Pentecost on Sunday (June 12).
“I was arrested under Section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code after a few men lodged a complaint that I was converting leprosy patients,” Robey told Compass by phone. more >>
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, known for twisting his body through a series of difficult yoga poses and having millions of followers, has drawn the church’s criticism for his ties with right-wing groups infamous for attacking Christians.
Delhi’s Catholic Archbishop, Vincent Concessao, condemned the yoga teacher’s ongoing mass campaign which seeks to curb corruption but is being supported and “hijacked” by Hindu radical groups, The Indian Express reported Wednesday.
Over 100,000 people joined Ramdev’s “fast-unto-death” against illegal money stashed in banks abroad by corrupt politicians and tax evaders June 4 in New Delhi. However, a police crackdown forced his followers to return in the night. Police also detained Ramdev, saying he had sought permission to hold a rally for yoga and not a protest. more >>
Dalits, comprising the lowest rung of India’s highly stratified society, can hardly reach professional colleges and the few who do are often harassed by “upper caste” professors and peers, a quandary that has forced many of them to either quit or commit suicide, as one activist has shown with a list of Dalit suicides.
Anoop Kumar, a Dalit advocate based in New Delhi, has documented at least 18 cases of Dalit students committing suicide due to caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions since 2007. The actual number was much higher as more cases were being brought to notice following this month’s release of the list, Kumar told The Christian Post.
These Dalit suicides were reported from India’s premier professional colleges, including the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and Kanpur, the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bengaluru, and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi. more >>
NEW DELHI – An attempt by police in India’s Madhya Pradesh to survey the state’s Christian minority came to light this month and left church leaders calling for a federal investigation into alleged religious profiling.
Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, called for a National Commission for Minorities probe into the survey, which sought data on where Catholics and Protestants live, their economic status, and details of Christian-operated schools, including sources of income and whether they get foreign funding.
“Such surveys are uncalled for in view of the Union government’s own census and the National Sample Surveys, which give all the data that development agencies may ever want,” Dayal told Compass. “Surveys of this nature, especially by the police, amount to religious profiling, which is illegal.” more >>