By Guest Nicole
Grupo de Lenguaje de Señas en Latur, Maharashtra, India.
By Guest Nicole
Intolerance has a chilling effect on freedom of thought and discussion. It places democracy under siege.
An unmistakable feature of any nation which professes to be democratic is the prevalence of tolerance therein. Tolerance is not merely a goody-goody virtue. It is vital because it promotes the receiving or acknowledging of new ideas and this helps to break the status quo mentality. Tolerance is particularly needed in large and complex societies comprising people with varied beliefs, as in India. This is because readiness to tolerate views other than one’s own facilitates harmonious coexistence.
A liberal democracy accepts the fact that in a free country, one can have different opinions and should have equal rights in voicing them. This is pluralism, and tolerance is its ultimate rationale.
Tolerance accords high respect for human rights, especially freedom of conscience and freedom of thought. Disagreement with the belief and ideology of others is no reason for their suppression, because there can be more than one path for the attainment of truth and salvation. Even if there is only one truth, it may have a hundred facets.
Intolerance stems from an invincible assumption of the infallibility and truth of one’s beliefs, the dogmatic conviction about the rightness of one’s tenets and their superiority over others, and with the passage of time, this leads to forcible imposition of one’s ideology on others, often resulting in violence. At present, the virus of intolerance has acquired global dimensions. Religious and political persecution has become rampant and curiously that too sometimes in the name of God Almighty or some Divine Power.
An intolerant society does not brook dissent. Suppression of dissent by censorship is an indispensable instrument for an intolerant authoritarian regime. Censorship, indeed, is its natural ally.
The necessity for tolerance has been internationally recognised. It is noteworthy that the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations proclaims that to achieve the goals of the Charter we need to “practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours”. Another significant UN instrument is the Declaration of November 25, 1981 on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief which emphasises that it is essential to promote tolerance and requires states to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of intolerance in all its forms and manifestations. It is evident that there is an essential linkage between tolerance, human rights, democracy and peace.
Intolerance does not always emanate from official or state action but also from certain groups or sections in society. A not too recent instance was the determined effort to ban the exhibition of the film Ore Oru Gramathiley by a group of persons who regarded its theme and presentation as hostile to the policy of reservation of jobs in public employment and seats in educational institutions in favour of Scheduled Castes and backward classes. There were threats of attacking cinema houses where the film would be shown.
The Madras High Court in an incredible judgment revoked the certificate granted by the Board of Censors to the film and restrained its exhibition. The Supreme Court promptly reversed the judgment in a landmark decision, S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram, where Justice K. Jagannatha Shetty, speaking for the court, laid down an extremely important principle: “Freedom of expression protects not merely ideas that are accepted but those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the
population. Such are the demands of the pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society”.
Intolerance has a chilling, inhibiting effect on freedom of thought and discussion. Remember how Galileo suffered for his theory that the sun was the centre of the solar system and not the earth. Darwin was a victim of intolerance and was lampooned and considered an enemy of religion for his seminal work, The Origin of Species. Nearer home we have the example of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, whose efforts for reform, especially for the abolition of Sati, evoked fierce opposition because of intolerance. We must not revert to those dark days because when that happens democracy is under siege.
We must combat intolerance and its manifestations resulting in human rights violations by appropriate legal remedies. However, the crucial point is that tolerance cannot be legislated. No law can compel a person to be tolerant. Therefore, we must develop the capacity for tolerance by fostering an environment of tolerance, a culture of tolerance. Stereotypes and prejudices about certain classes and communities must be eschewed. Educational institutions have a vital role to play in this connection. The immense value of tolerance must be ingrained in the hearts and minds of the students.
Our Supreme Court’s judgment in Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala is significant. Students belonging to the faith, Jehovah’s Witnesses, stood up when the national anthem was sung to show their respect but declined to sing along. The students were expelled by the school authorities. Their expulsion was upheld by the high court.
The Supreme Court reversed the high court judgment. Justice Chinnappa Reddy, who headed the bench, in the course of the judgment, observed that the students did not hold their beliefs idly or out of any unpatriotic sentiment but because they truly and conscientiously believed that their religion forbade singing the national anthem of any country. After a careful consideration of the issues, the Supreme Court concluded: “Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practices tolerance. Let none dilute it”.
This is a classic judicial affirmation of tolerance. Let us resolve to promote tolerance in our multi-religious, multi-cultural nation and thereby strengthen and enrich our pluralist democracy which is the pride of our nation.
Certain fundamental duties have been prescribed by Article 51 A of the Constitution. To my mind, the practice of tolerance is the most fundamental duty of every citizen to curb the growing menace of intolerance.
By Guest Nicole
Udupi, Dec 12: Two women were caught by pro-Hindu outfits at Herga in Parkala here on Monday December 12 for allegedly trying to convert people to a Christian denomination.
The women have been identified as Seneta of Perampalli and Soumya from Mission Compound, Udupi.
It is said that the women had been going door-to-door handing out religious pamphlets to people in the area for the past one week. The women were also collecting addresses, mobile numbers and other personal details from the people, it is alleged.
On receiving information, pro-Hindu outfits along with some locals confronted the women on Monday and handed them over to Manipal police.
The women reportedly belong to a committee propogating beliefs of 'Jehovah's Witnesses'.
The women were arrested and a case was registered in Manipal police station.
By The Librarian
The latest move by the Jehovah’s Witnesses will seek to overturn the apex court’s order on November 30, 2016, that all cinema halls in India would play the national anthem before the feature film starts.
OVER 30 years ago, a college professor in Kerala, who belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, knocked at the doors of the highest court in India on behalf of his children, citing religion as the reason to safeguard their right to not sing the national anthem at school.
Next month, when a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra restarts hearing petitions on its order last year on national anthems in cinema halls, the Jehovah’s Witnesses may again be at the forefront in challenging that decision.
On August 11, 1986, the Supreme Court had allowed Emmanuel’s plea and held that forcing the children to sing the national anthem at school violated their fundamental right to religion.
The latest move by the Jehovah’s Witnesses will seek to overturn the apex court’s order on November 30, 2016, that all cinema halls in India would play the national anthem before the feature film starts. This order also made it mandatory for all present in the hall “to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” as part of their “sacred obligation”.
This time, it’s learnt that representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including a US-based general counsel, are in the process of finalising a detailed application to be filed shortly in Supreme Court, which will restart hearings on February 14.
Among other things, the sect plans to seek the court’s intervention in ordering that its followers won’t have to stand up for the anthem in movie theatres. The sect hopes to convince the court that while it respects the national anthem and the flag, its religious beliefs prevent members from standing up for or singing the anthem.
The organisation has already secured relief on behalf of the sect on various issues in several countries, including saluting the flag and/or singing a country’s national anthem.
”Our patriotism can never be in doubt. But even standing for the national anthem is not allowed in our religion. Courts in several other countries have accepted our pleas on this count. The fact that we are looking to contest the court’s order doesn’t mean that we don’t respect our flag or our anthem. We hope to convince the court about that, like we have done in other countries, including the US and Canada,” said sources linked to the sect’s move.
When contacted, former Union law minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal confirmed that he has been approached by representatives of the sect in this regard.
”They informed me that their religious views don’t allow them to even stand up when the anthem is played. Their stand is that this doesn’t mean they will ever do anything to disrespect any country’s flag or anthem. These are issues of significant Constitutional importance,” Sibal told The Indian Express.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christianity-based evangelical sect, which bases its beliefs solely on the text of the Bible. The group does not celebrate Easter or Christmas and believes that traditional Churches have deviated from the text of the Bible. However, the sect is not considered a part of mainstream Christianity because it also rejects the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
In the 1986 case, the Supreme Court bench had ruled in favour of the Jehovah’s Witnesses family. “Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy teaches tolerance, our Constitution practices tolerance, let us not dilute it,” the bench had said.
It had also noted that there was “no provision of law”, which “obliges” anyone to sing the national anthem.
However, the bench of Justice Misra, in its order last year, had said that “a time has come” when “citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to the National Anthem, which is the symbol of Constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality”.
On December 9, the bench clarified its order to state that “if a physically challenged person or physically handicapped person goes to the cinema hall to watch a film, he need not stand up, if he is incapable to stand, but must show such conduct which is commensurate with respect for the national anthem”.
The order has drawn widespread criticism, with renowned jurist Soli Sorabjee terming it as an example of “judicial overreach”.
In 1986, armed with the Supreme Court order, Emmanuel got his and other children from Jehovah’s Witnesses re-admitted in the NSS High School at Kidangoor in Kottayam district, 4 km from their village Kadaplamattom near Pala. The school run by the Hindu organisation, Nair Service Society, had 11 students from the sect, at the time.
After sitting in the classes for a day, the Emmanuel children left school. Some of the other children from the sect moved to other schools.
Emmanuel decided not to have formal education for his other four children, either. None of his eight grandchildren, who study in various schools, sings the national anthem.
By Guest Nicole
BENGALURU: A 50-year-old Nigerian national underwent an awake craniotomy, a surgery performed while keeping the patient awake, allowing doctors to test the patient’s functions throughout the operation. The surgery was performed on April 14 at Columbia Asia Hospital in Hebbal.
Doctors performed cortical mapping that helps identify important regions of the brain that can be avoided and protected during the surgery.
“Stimulating various areas of the brain to have different effects on the body, like touching the motor region results in twitching and touching the speech areas would prevent the patient from speaking briefly. This helped the surgeons navigate through the main affected areas and perform the surgery accordingly,” said Dr Arjun Srivatsa, senior consultant, neurosurgery, Columbia Asia Hospital. During the procedure, doctors engaged Samuel in a conversation.
Samuel was operated upon to remove a brain tumour that affected areas of speech. Over the past three months, he had been finding it difficult to communicate, often forgetting words or losing his train of thought while talking. His condition worsened with persistent headaches and speech impairment. He was diagnosed with seizure activity in the brain and an MRI confirmed a brain tumour.
Since he is a Jehovah’s Witness (accepting blood transfusion is prohibited), it complicated the surgery further.
The three-hour surgery had no post-operative complications. Samuel is now able to communicate without any difficulty, said Srivatsa.
Samuel with Dr Arjun Srivatsa
By Guest Nicole
Two far-right Hindu groups filed a complaint against the Witnesses. Leaflets encouraging conversions to their beliefs were found in a car. For Christian leader, "India is a secular nation” and “the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion."
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemned the arrests. He said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses "were stopped as they handed out religious tracts house to house,” noting that “the distribution of Christian religious material is neither illegal nor criminal."
The incident occurred in Manikallu, Udupi district, scene in recent years of several attacks by Hindu radicals against Christians.
Members of two nationalist groups, the Bhramari Yuvaka Mandal and Hindu Jagran Vedike, alerted police in Kota of the presence of Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying they were converting people by force.
The police rushed to the village and took six Witnesses into custody, on charges of religious propaganda. Leaflets inciting people to convert were found inside a car.
Sajan K George rejects the charges against the Christians, and slams the police, "which leans towards the local extreme right-wing groups and charges Christians and others on false charges."
"India is a secular nation,” he reiterated, “and Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees the free profession, practice and propagation of religion." (NC)
Jehovah’s Witnesses in India are looking to overturn a recent Supreme Court ruling requiring movie theatres to play the country’s national anthem before every film, and audience members to stand for the anthem, according to the Indian Express.
The sect’s members believe the singing of national anthems constitutes an act of unfaithfulness towards god, according to the official Jehovah’s Witnesses website.
The Indian Express reports that a U.S.-based lawyer is working to help file an application seeking to overturn the apex court’s ruling.
On Nov. 30, 2016, the Supreme Court of India ruled that audience members in movie theatres must stand for a rendition of the national anthem accompanied by images of the Indian flag, “to show respect for the national anthem and the national flag.”
The ruling was made after a petition by a 78-year-old citizen who said he was rebuked by moviegoers sitting behind him in a theatre 16 years ago, after he decided to stand when the national anthem was played as part of a scene in a Bollywoodmovie.
It comes just over three months after a disabled man was allegedly harassed in a movie theatre in the Indian state of Goa because he didn’t stand up while the national anthem was being played, as reported by the Indian Express.
The order appears to overturn a 1986 decision in which the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ freedom to not partake in anthem singing.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to have had a part in contributing to the constitutional freedoms of all citizens in India,” reads an article on the evangelical group’s website detailing the 1986 ruling.
By Guest Nicole
PANAJI: The build up to the elections, the hullabaloo on polling day and the much-awaited results on counting day mean nothing for the 600-odd members of the Christian sect Jehovah's Witnesses in Goa. Just like their counterparts in other countries and "like the first century- Christians", JW members choose to maintain political neutrality for religious reasons."There are no restrictions on us and our individual decisions," one member said, adding, "The Bible says we must obey God rather than man. Whether to obey God or not is our own decision."
A 62-year-old member from Margao, on the condition of anonymity, said he was introduced to the sect as a child when his entire family joined. He told TOI that he has never voted for any political party or candidate in any election. "If one's conscience allows then they may vote but this is generally not done. We have voting cards and follow all the rules and regulations of the government, no matter which government is in power, but we don't take active part in the political process," he said, adding that the sect doesn't raise any slogans against the government either.Explaining the belief, he said, "We're citizens of God's kingdom and although we are in this world we are not part of this world. The world is full of corruption but we're not involved in it. This kingdom belongs to Satan. We're purely looking for God's kingdom to come when peace and security will be there."
Members also consider bowing to a flag or saluting it in conjunction with an anthem to be non-scriptural as they do accepting blood transfusion.According to the Christian breakaway group, there are 44,000-odd members (witnesses) divided into 600-odd congregations in the country. In Goa, the group has its presence in Margao, Vasco, Panaji, Mapusa and Siolim where regular meetings are held in English, Konkani and Hindi at premises known as Kingdom Halls of JW and at rented premises.
May 24, 2017 TO ALL BODIES OF ELDERS Re: Donations to “Jehovah’s Witnesses of India” by Indian Passport HoldersBy Jack Ryan
May 24, 2017 TO ALL BODIES OF ELDERS Re: Donations to “Jehovah’s Witnesses of India” by Indian Passport Holders
The OP letter would appear to be a re-hash from one sent out in March 2016:
Letter - March 21, 2016: Re: Donations to “Jehovah’s Witnesses of India” (JWIndiaGift.org)
Which itself appears to be a re-hash from one sent out in December 2013:
Letter - December 2, 2013: Re: To all Congregations who have Indian citizens as members (JWIndiaGift.org)
Why has this been needed?
Because over the last couple of years there must have been a phenomenal growth of thousands-upon-thousands of Indian ex-pats from around the world becoming JWs - so the GB was re-issued these letters to show all these new JWs how they are uniquely positioned to be able to help spread the 'good news' back home in India
Another reason for this- In 2001, the Bombay High Court prohibited the Indian Branch Office to receive foreign contributions. This happened when the Indian Branch Office was about to complete the construction of its mega branch complex in Bangalore where most of the funds in disposal was invested for the construction. With almost no funds with them, Indian office pulled the plug on the special pioneer work and layed off many bethelites.
The Indian branch office was about to plug off the construction work, however the GB asked them to go ahead with the work and complete the relocation. The branch was constructed and relocated and the branch office was left with practically zero funds. Local individuals chipped in whatever they could and the work continued. Since foreign contributions are still prohibited, indian citizens who moved and settled abroad send in their contributions through the website mentioned. Same applies to expats who convert to JW's and want to send in their money to India.
By The Librarian
Nun travels 3 hours to the regional assembly in India and when over declared “This is the truth!”
By Guest Nicole
Triste noticia acerca de nuestra asamblea enÂ Delhi: "Tuvimos nuestro primer dÃa de la asambleaÂ hindiÂ hoy, el ambiente estuvoÂ Â pacÃfico.Sin embargo, la asambleaÂ de dos dÃas en Delhi ha sido cancelada por la SucursalÂ ya que hay un disturbio comunal que estallÃ³ en Delhi. Casi 30 personas han sido asesinadas por una turba violenta, unos 1,000 hermanos estÃ¡n atrapados en la ciudad de Delhi pues vinieron de otros estados para asistir a la asambleaÂ ... por favor tÃ©ngannos en sus oraciones ... "
AsÃ que mantengamos estos queridos Hermanos en nuestras oraciones! Â Â
By Bible Speaks
Don't Give Up Convention in Visakhapatnam, India - Baptisms- They found the "Joy of Jehovah!"
Bajrang Dal men beat up two for offering Rs 5L to ‘convert to Christianity’; cops book assault victimsBy Guest Nicole
Meerut: Bajrang Dal members here allegedly assaulted two men, accusing them of offering Rs 5 lakh to a resident for getting people to convert to Christianity. Police later arrested the assault victims.
The incident occurred at Vikas Enclave Colony under Kankerkheda police station where, according to Bajrang Dal members, two men approached a resident, Pawan Gupta, and asked him to arrange for religious meetings where “Christianity would be promoted”.
Bajrang Dal Meerut province convenor Balraj Dungar said, “Soon after getting this information, we reached the spot and caught hold of the two men. We found that they were targeting Hindu families at periods of the day when the men of the households would be away at work, such as in the mornings. The two men would then target women for conversion. The allegation that we physically assaulted them is false. We only took them to the police station where, after investigation, an FIR was filed against them. Luring someone into another religion with the promise of money has always been one of the tactics of missionaries. We will not allow this to happen at any cost.”
According to locals, two men in their mid-thirties — Jatin Joseph, a resident of Garh Road, Meerut and Shirish Shinde, a resident of Mumbai — had approached residents of Vikas Enclave some time earlier.
“They came to my house and said they wanted to share the good news about Christ and also asked if I could arrange some of my neighbours to have religious sessions with them, and inform them about the teachings of Christ. When I asked them what I would gain from this, they said I would get Rs 5 lakh if I organized five sessions for them and brought some people to Christ,” said Pawan Gupta, the complainant in the case.
Mahesh Chand, senior sub inspector at Kankerkhera police station told TOI, “On the basis of the complaint by Gupta, an FIR has been filed under section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) of the IPC. The two men have been arrested.”
Joseph and Shinde admitted they were propagating Christianity, but denied charges of using monetary inducements for this. Joseph, who is in police custody, said, “We belong to the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination. It is not wrong to propagate one’s religion as it is within the ambit of the law, but the charge that we were converting locals or offering money is completely false.”
Meanwhile, a Meerut-based Christian organisation has criticised the action against the two men. State president of Isaai Mahasabha, Robin Nath said, “We strongly condemn the assault on the two men by Bajrang Dal activists. An FIR must be filed against those who beat the men. The allegation that the two had promised Rs 5 lakh is entirely concocted. This is a huge amount and no organisation can dole out such kind of money. Besides, no conversion took place and yet police filed the FIR without even going into the details.”
By The Librarian
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