Krishna temple authorities accused of caste discrimination – The Hindu

Practicing untouchability in the twenty-first century? Casteism in pervasive even in this highly literate tech-society in India!
Earlier, there was another instance in 2011 when another man (a Gowda Saraswat Brahmin or GSB, whom the traditional brahmins consider not to be real brahmins!) was asked to leave the eating place in Udupi Sri Krishna Temple!

Krishna temple authorities accused of caste discrimination – The Hindu.

Good Friday at St Joseph’s College, Bangalore

18 Apr. Christians keep Holy these seven days. This Holy Week began with Palm Sunday, commemorating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, when he was welcomed by crowds, hailing him as the King of Peace and singing Hosanna (jai!)

Then, within a few days, things turned for the worse. Jesus was betrayed by the very people who benefited from his compassion and love. His own people arrested him, charged him with treason (since the Romans refused to interfere with the Jewish religious matters, fearing the huge crowds gathered for the great Sabbath (Yom Kippur) in Jerusalem. Finally, the political conspiracy worked in favour of priests and pharisees. 

That final journey of Jesus began with a final dinner (The Last Supper) of Jesus with his disciples, where he showed them what is true greatness: bending down and washing his disciples’ feet and wiping them with his own towel. On this occasion, he instituted the Eucharist, which we call the Holy Mass – pre-symbolising his total self-sacrifice; in doing so, Jesus also instituted priesthood, another sacrament.

After this, he goes with disciples to the Garden of Olives to pray, since he had sensed the terrible danger to his life. That is what we celebrated yesterday in Maundy Thursday. It is there, he was betrayed by his own disciple Judas Iscariot, and sold for 30 silver pieces. Then on, it was all about jews, pharisees (priestly class), and the high priests, together with the Roman administration which was ruling Palestine, then. 

Jesus was tried on false charges, accused, abused, tortured, scourged, plaited with thorny crown, given a cross and made to carry it to mount Calvary. There, they crucified him, among two other robbers, and finally Jesus forgives those who persecuted/crucified him, and gives up his spirit. That is Good Friday. At our celebration of the Passion of Our Lord, at St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, I presided, with passion sung by Fr Louis, Sch Amos and self. After the Passion narrative, I reflected on pain and suffering. 

Now, we wait for the Resurrection, when we will celebrate His triumph over death, hatred, enmity; his coming to life again. That is what we celebrate tomorrow during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Sunday following this is Easter Sunday when one of His women disciples first discovered the empty tomb, where Jesus was buried. And later, Jesus made his presence felt once again among his scattered flock, and filled them with new life, courage, and hope! It’s all about hope!

Karnataka SSLC Results – 2014

17 Apr. There is already some serious search on this blog. Besides their interest in NDTV’s Group Editor Barkha Dutt (I don’t know why so many are after her!), they look for SSLC results. 

It is a bit too early to look for results now! The results are expected to be declared in approximately two more weeks. And then, this is the website to look for:

No doubt, I won’t disappoint you; will give updates as and when they come in! 

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for the results of the 16th General Elections. Today was the fifth of the eight phases of Lok Sabha polls; and Karnataka, whose all 28 constituencies went to polls, witnessed a low turn-out: a good sign for BJP and its ambitious prime ministerial candidate (please, don’t get me wrong! That’s a knotty statement!) And if this trend continues in the remaining phases (because the BJP expects all their social media devotees to be carried away right into the polling booths), they would have repeated an extremely costly blunder after the disastrous 2004 (India Shining) campaign. Well, this time the big corporates’ Rs. 10,000 crore (= 100 billion rupees!) is at stake on one man who can bull-doze anyone at his own whims and fancies! And if that happens, I would be sorry for all the corporates and the media-naysayers -who see nothing good outside this one man’s bluff! 

Modi’s ignorance on anti-Christian attacks

Christian leaders condemn Modi’s ignorance on anti-Christian attacks | UCAN India
It is not surprising that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and a die-hard right-wing hindutva flag-bearer narendra modi has sold his ignorance again. Often in the past, he has done this regarding female child-malnourishment (“they are beauty conscious, hence the don’t drink milk”!), rampant unemployment, scarcity of water, hindutva right-wing riot which targeted tens of thousands of innocent Muslims and killed over two thousand of them (besides other heinous crimes against women and unborn babies), and many more! And this time he feigns ignorance about the crimes against Christians, their religious symbols and persons his government and predecessors must take responsibility for.
Latest is: modi skirted the question (on a TV channel) regarding crimes against Christians, saying he was unaware of such crimes!
Should such a man be elected to the highest executive post of India? Many believe he should be behind bars, and contest elections.
Here is the response by some Christian groups to his TV interview:

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate made the remarks in a television interview last week.

via Christian leaders condemn Modi’s ignorance on anti-Christian attacks | UCAN India.

MH370 ‘hijacked and in Afghanistan’: Russian intelligence source claims passengers and crew held hostage

15 April. Now, that’s very strange, though not totally impossible!

The disappeared flight (08 March 2014) MH370 seems to be hijacked by Afghanis “terrorists”, if this report is true! Unknown terrorists are said to have taken control of the missing plane and forced it to land near Kandahar

A Russian newspaper has claimed that Flight MH370 was hijacked by “unknown terrorists” and flown to Afghanistan, where the crew and passengers are now being held hostage.

The extraordinary comments, attributed to a Russian intelligence source, appeared in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

The source told the paper: “Flight MH370 Malaysia Airlines missing on March 8 with 239 passengers was hijacked.

“Pilots are not guilty; the plane was hijacked by unknown terrorists.

“We know that the name of the terrorist who gave instructions to pilots is “Hitch.”

“The plane is in Afghanistan not far from Kandahar near the border with Pakistan.”           


According to The Daily Star, Moskovsky Komsomolets also claims the passengers have been divided into seven groups and are living in mud huts with almost no food.

Twenty Asian passengers were said to have been smuggled into a bunker in Pakistan.


ReutersU.S. armoured vehicles are parked outside a U.S. base in Panjwai district Kandahar provincw

An intelligence source claims the aircraft is close to Kandahar. This image shows armoured vehicles in the region


It is also claimed that the terrorists are possibly seeking to bargain with either America or  China .

The news, perhaps unsurprisingly, has not been confirmed by authorities either in Malaysia or China.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared soon after taking off on March 8 from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

It had 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, triggering a multinational search that is now focused on the Indian Ocean.

On Friday, the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has said he was “very confident” that signals picked up by search teams in the Indian Ocean were from missing Flight MH370′s black box.

During a visit to Beijing, China, he told the the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident the signals are from the black box.”

A fifth signal was detected by search crews on Friday.

The signals will eventually allow them to determine an exact resting place for the downed Boeing 777.

They will then send down a submersible vehicle to plumb the depths of the ocean for the black box.

The ‘pings’ emitted by Flight MH370′s black box are soon expected to fade, more than a month after the plane, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, disappeared on March 8.


India TV editor resigns saying Modi interview was ‘fixed’

Can Narendra Modi not fix anything? The answer is “definitely not!”
Without fixing, the “badly” prime ministerial aspirant, just can’t go public. The latest in the series of ‘fixed’ is his interview with India TV. Poor, Editorial Director Qamar Waheed Naqui!

India TV editor resigns saying Modi interview was ‘fixed’.

Narendra Modi and Re-Emergence of Hard Core Hindutva

Modi effect: 2,000-odd RSS shakhas sprout in 3 months

Lucknow, April 13, 2014: For the last three months, Ravi Tewari, a 22-year-old engineering student, has been waking up at 5am, putting on his white shirt and khaki shorts and rushing to a nearby park for the morning shakha of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His family is surprised. No one in the Tewari clan has ever been with RSS. So, the family can’t quite figure what is driving Ravi to adopt this punishing morning drill.

“I believe in Hindutva,” says Ravi. “The country needs reforms. Who other than Narendra Modi can make it happen? The youth needs something to look forward to. They also need to take up more responsibilities to change things and the shakha is the best place to learn how to do it.”

Ravi speaks with a sense of purpose that only a new convert can have. He had never dabbled in politics before he joined ABVP, BJP’s student wing, a few months ago. And there are thousands like him, he says, neo-converts who have breathed new life into RSS after Modi was named the BJP’s PM candidate on September 13 last year.

Suddenly, the organization which was becoming moribund and seen to be out of tune with the times, is growing. In less than three months, more than 2,000 shakhas have sprouted across the country. By the end of 2013, there were 44,982 shakhas in India, of which 8,417 were in UP alone.

The numbers had peaked in 2004, when there were around 51,000 functioning shakhas. They shrunk during the UPA tenure, hitting a low of 39,283 shakhas in 2010. But as scams broke out, and UPA 2 went from one low to another, there was again a renewed, interest in shakhas, with a sudden burst in post-Modi months.

Kripa Shanker, who heads the RSS publicity wing for UP and Uttarakhand, however, says that it is not a seasonal upsurge. He claims the number shakhas did not decline after 2004. “It’s just that people are becoming more aware of our work.”

“More and more young people are coming forward and joining shakhas,” says Atul Singh, who heads a newly established shakha in Lucknow. What do the shakhas do? “They focus on character building, idealism, discipline and, of course, Hindutva. We are creating awareness among people to vote for a ‘suitable’ political candidate,” he said; ‘suitable’ of course being shorthand for Modi.

“The surge clearly shows how the attraction of power is working for RSS,” says a Sangh activist who did not want to be named. “Students associated with ABVP have joined in large numbers over the past six months. Besides, people who were inactive in the past few years have become active again.”

“Shakhas are now much more organized,” says an ABVP leader. “Most shakhas now have ‘gan nayak’ — a functionary who is supposed to wake up swayamsewaks in the morning and bring them to the park — and ‘gan shikshak’ (group teacher), who trains the members. This was not the case some time ago.”

Ashok Sinha of the RSS’ publicity wing says the Lok Sabha elections are like a national festival for the Sangh. “Our activities increase during elections but this doesn’t mean we do not work at other times. Shakhas focus on personality development and social inclusiveness and what better than the involvement of young,” he says.

Associated with the RSS since his childhood, 76-year-old D P Singh, at present the sarsanghchalak (head) of west UP, says, “Shakhas are not meant to bring in a revolution. They help in the character-building process. The participation of youth in shakhas is like fresh flowers being offered to God. One doesn’t offer dry flowers while worshipping, no?”

- Times of India

Churning in the Media – ab ki baar, barobbar!

It is nice to have friends like Mr John Thomas, who use the internet to good effect – for education, information, and awakening! I am re-posting his Facebook post on media, here. It’s worth the read for the wealth of information it contains, and the source.


Since it’s anyway the silly season where you’re hearing the same thing over and over, here’s a juicy red-herring for my media-interested friends, hot off the internet.

At a time when there will be a change of guard for Indian leadership, a lot of movement is also going to happen in the media. Arnab Goswami’s contract with Times Now is set to end this November and a brand in himself, Goswami is now exploring better opportunities  Continue reading

Prime Ministerial Aspirant’s Crude Language

Nobody expects narendra modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, either to speak truth or to speak sense. All of us have heard/read the cheap language he has been using for the last few years against his political opponents (remember the abuses he heaped upon Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, or  her son Rahul Gandhi?), against minorities (specially the Muslims who have been his target since the Gujarat pogrom days of 2002) and all those who fight for justice and struggle for harmony. 

But as he goes on his campaign trail in this parliamentary elections, building castles in the air about occupying the prime minister’s chair, one expects modi to use a  more gentle-manly language. No, he would not! Read the post below, which has been reposted from Teesta Setalvad’s posting, and you will abhor the cheap, crude language he has employed against our Prime Minister! If this is the type of language he uses against public offices -himself being visiting chief minister of Gujarat, he is also a public functionary-, what confidence can he instill in the public to vote for him?  Can we respect such a man who just refuses to engage in a civilised discourse?

This man, who married Jashodaben at the age of 17 in 1968, but dumped his wife soon after, and then fought four elections by bluffing (leaving his ‘marital status’ column blank), and again publicly declared that he was the best man to lead the country since he was a bachelor, can’t be trusted. This man, who sent away his wife without giving her a legal divorce, but stalks women using state machinery, can’t be the prime minister of India. Can he be?

Now to Teesta Setalvad:

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) strongly condemns the views expressed by Shri Narendra Modi at Jamshedpur yesterday while campaigning for the BJP there.

It has been reported that the BJP’s Prime Ministerial aspirant, speaking at an election rally said that “the country does not want a deaf and dumb, handicapped government”. The observations by Mr. Modi reflect a hackneyed mindset that is biased against persons with disabilities. Implicit in Modi’s statement is that persons with disabilities are “handicapped” and unable to discharge any responsibility let alone hold public office.

It has now become a habit for Modi to make such remarks. On an earlier occasion, he had called the former Chhattisgarh CM, Shri Ajit Jogi, a wheelchair user, a “cripple”.

Patronising terms like “specially-abled”, contained in the BJP’s manifesto, cannot hide the parochial mindset of the BJP, which promotes a model of development that works to the disadvantage of the marginalised.

It may be recalled that two years ago the BJP-backed candidate for the President’s office, Shri P.A. Sangma also expressed such insensitivity by stating that “India should have a President, who is not blind, dumb and deaf. India should have a thinking and a functional President.”

We would like to remind the BJP leadership that there are any number of persons with disabilities, the blind and the deaf included, who have made sterling contributions in public life.

Whatever the provocation, even at the height of a bitter political campaign, usage of such terms to deride political opponents is unpardonable. Such insensitivity and callous remarks made with the intent of deriding your opponents cannot be condoned and go unchallenged.

The NPRD lodges its unequivocal protest against these insensitive remarks made by the BJP leader and calls for an unqualified apology from him. It urges upon the Election Commission of India to take suitable action against him for these uncalled for remarks, which are not just an insult but question the intelligence and capabilities of persons with disabilities.


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Studying a PhD: don’t suffer in silence

Doing a PhD is one of the toughest tests anyone can face in academic life – here’s how to cope with some of the challenges

targets and arrow
Set realistic targets: PhD students’ drive for perfection only leads to disappointment. Photograph: Denys Rudyi/Alamy

Doing a PhD has always been seen as a long and lonely business since the early 19th century when the idea of the postgraduate researchdoctorate was first formally recognised at Humboldt University, Germany. It is probably the toughest test anyone can face in academic life. In the past, there was a very low completion rate of PhDs throughout the world. This meant a lot of wasted time, money, much personal heartache andpsychological distress.

Since 2000, particularly in the UK, USA and Australia, there has been anincrease in skills training, support and stricter guidelines of good practice to support PhD students through their research.

There are patterns, such as that science students mostly complete quicker and in higher numbers than social science, arts and humanities research students. Factors helping to contribute to this include less isolation, greater levels of team work (although that brings its own problems), more involvement with supervisors and more of a regulated work ethos, with a requirement to attend daily laboratory sessions.

Arts, social sciences and humanities students can have a more isolated and less structured experience. This means they have to be far more self-regulated and motivated, but also more resilient to the inevitable disappointments and confusion of exploring what can feel like an overwhelming area of research.

Good supervisors can help advise their students but can’t teach them like undergraduates. It is odd that students are selected for PhDs usually on the basis that they are good at passing exams, while doctoral research requires a completely different set of educational and psychological skills. Many PhD students find this very difficult, as long periods of isolated study (or paralysed procrastination) can induce obsessive rumination. It is inevitable that some students will focus on all the negative aspects of their work and experience, which can create the conditions for depressive and anxious symptoms.

The percentage of students accessing the counselling service at Oxford is approximately 7.5%. This is within the normal range of access at UK universities and by no means the highest figure of students accessing counselling services.

What is different at Oxford (and other research-focused universities such as Cambridge, Imperial and LSE) is that there is a much higher proportion of students doing doctoral research compared with most universities. Out of the 22,000 students at Oxford, approximately 42% are postgraduates, either doing taught masters or doctoral research. 42% of all students accessing the counselling service are postgraduates, giving an exactly proportionate representation.

Typical challenges PhD students face – and how to cope with them


Being a perfectionist is setting oneself an impossible standard to achieve. If you are always trying to do an impossible task it can be demoralising, demotivating and ultimately could cause depression. A PhD thesis is something realistic to achieve; it doesn’t have to win the Nobel Prize. It can be excellent but will never be perfect.

Perfectionism can feel like a friend who you think is encouraging you but is actually the enemy within, the perfectionist bully inside your head, undermining all your achievements. If you are an absolute perfectionist you will always feel disappointed in yourself, others and your experience of life.


There are lots of traps that can catch you out and turn you from a normal functioning procrastinator to being a paralysed one. Research students often have the misguided idea that they work best through motivation alone. This does not get you through the many years of academic hard slog when the work is not going well. This is why it is important to have work and life structure, treating your PhD like a job with set working hours and targets on a short, medium and long term basis.

Having a good work and life structure can help alleviate the pervasive anxiety of an internal nagging voice saying you should be working.Break down your work into manageable tasks rather than constantly feeling overwhelmed by the enormousness of your research. Make sure you have your priorities right. It is easy to become distracted by many other things, not just Facebook but things that seem to be work such as being a departmental student rep, teaching, helping with others’ research and various welfare and peer support roles to name but a few. All of these are important but not the main task for a doctoral researcher.


Doing a PhD can put pressure on all our sensitive spots. For many people, there is a fear of being a fraud, or in psychological speak the “imposter syndrome”. This often stops PhD students from being honest with themselves and others when they are finding their research a struggle. It is important to have honest and supportive relationships with other researchers to provide valuable encouragement and reality checking. Raise concerns and get support from your supervisor, your department or support services rather than wait until things get into a crisis. Inez von Weitershausen gave helpful advice in her blog, especially about choosing what works best for each different PhD student.

You also need to actively engage in the support that is offered. There is much support for PhD students, but it will not be able to take away all the fears, confusion, hard graft and sometimes feelings of despair that virtually all PhD students go through from time to time.

Unfortunately this is one of the hidden and necessary parts of learning to become an independent academic researcher. Building up the resilience and skills to cope with the uncertainty of researching a new area of academic knowledge is a great strength for all future academics, researchers and very useful for life in general.

It is important not to deny that there are many and varied difficulties and problems in doing a PhD, however, the risk is to make over-simplified explanations or causes. This can lead to a blame culture which in the end can be unhelpful and harmful to finding real support.

Alan Percy is head of counselling at the University of Oxford and spokesperson for BACP UC (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy Universities and Colleges).

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