Category Archives: Social

News related to non governmental social affairs

Infosys Prize – 2010 announced

Chandrashekhar Khare, Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Sandip Trivedi, Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Ashutosh Sharma, Chair Professor and Principal Investigator, Centre of Nanosciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, Chetan E. Chitnis, Principal Leader, Malaria Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, Amita Baviskar, sociologist at the Institute of Economic Growth in New Delhi and Nandini Sundar, Chairperson of the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics won Infosys Prize for the year 2010.

The Infosys Science Foundation, established by Infosys Technologies Ltd., on Monday, 25th October 2010, announced the winners in the five categories of the Infosys Prize 2010.

Chandrashekhar Khare got the prize for excellence in Mathematical Sciences. He won the prize for his “fundamental contribution” to number theory, particularly the solution he found for the Serre conjecture. Sandip Trivedi, won the prize in the Physical Sciences category for “finding an ingenious way” to solve two of the most outstanding puzzles of superstring theory — what is the origin of dark energy and why there is no mass-less scalar particle — simultaneously. He “revolutionised” the field of superstring theory and provided “the basis of much of the ongoing research throughput the world.”

Ashutosh Sharma won the prize in the Engineering and Computer Science category for his “fundamental contributions” in materials science.

Professor Chitnis’ won the prize for his work in Life Sciences providing the basis for development of a viable malarial vaccine. Amita Baviskar, and Nandini Sundar were declared joint winners of the prize for excellence in Social Sciences. While Professor Baviskar won the prize for her work on social movements in contemporary India, Professor Sundar was awarded the prize for her contribution to the understanding of social identities.

The jury for Mathematics category was headed by Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, Professor of Mathematics, and Frank J. Gould, Professor of Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

The jury for Physical sciences category was headed by Shrinivas Kulkarni, astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology.

In the Life Sciences the jury was headed by Prof. Inder Verma, American Cancer Society Professor and the first incumbent of the Irwin Mark Jacobs Chair in Exemplary Life Sciences in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, U.S. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen headed the jury for the prize, which will be shared by the two winners.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor, Infosys, and a trustee of the Foundation, said the Prize “aims to recognise and acknowledge the outstanding work done by researchers, creating role models and thereby encouraging the youth to pursue careers in scientific research.” He said research “is the key to sustaining India’s growth.”

The six winners were drawn from 201 nominations. Each prize carries a cash award of Rs. 50 lakh, which Mr. Narayana Murthy said would not be taxed in the hands of the prize winner.

The award ceremony will be held on January 6, 2011 in Mumbai, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will present the awards to the winners. The corpus for the prize was established with an initial contribution of a total of Rs. 45 crore by members of the executive board of Infosys. About half the current corpus of Rs. 100 crore has been as a grant from Infosys.

Karnataka RSS reflects on value based politics

In the midst of continued political crisis in Karnataka, Rashtreeya Swayamsevaka Sangh (RSS) reflects on the moral standards in politics while reiterating its policy. Mukunda, incharge of Karnataka RSS (Prantha Pracharak, Karnataka Dakshina) projects RSS as a pro Hindu organization maintaining equidistance from all political parties. He reiterates RSS commitment to value based politics in simple and unequivocal terms which is expected to create ripples in Karnataka polics in the short term and helps in finetuning the RSS strategy to deal with the BJP in the long term at the national level.

Read original Kannada article From Original article from samvada.org

The recent political developments in Karnataka are disappointing to all those having a social concern. Those anticipating a good future for the country have been disappointed by the leaders of all political parties who have been acting as if corruption, immorality and horse trading are the inevitable features of politicking. Being a Swayamsevak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, I feel that there is an urgent need for responding to this situation. There are two reasons: firstly, among the rulers of this state, there are some who have contacts with the Sangh. The common men measure their activities from the point of view of the Sangh too. Secondly, there is no mechanism in RSS to publicize its internal discussions. I’m writing this article thinking that it would be better to share such views (for the second reason) since I have close contacts with the senior activists for the past many years.

The Sangh does not agree all the activities or resolutions of the BJP party and the government in the state either ‘in principle’ or ‘in practice’. The Sangh opposes corruption, horse trading and unethical decisions. Just like the Sangh activists welcome the prohibition of cow slaughtering, they oppose the SEZ. Just like the seniors of the Sangh appreciate those MLAs who do not earn a single paise for their own despite their various terms, they express their anger towards those who are corrupt. They even convey their disappointment to such persons in strong words.

What is the use in just expressing anger? Some actions should be taken- this is the stand of many people. Change within oneself is the way the Sangh adopts to bring changes in its Swayamsevaks. May it be the efforts to root out the caste system or corruption, change within oneself is the ultimate solution. Many Sangh leaders work from this point view for the past many years. This effort continues despite the fact that there is BJP government in the state or not.

Lakhs of Swayamsevaks have passed in first class after they learn about good conduct, ethics and social concern in the university of Sangh, but at the same time, there are people who have ‘failed’ utterly in the social life. In such cases, self-effort by these people is more important than the support of the co-Swayamsevaks. We should not forget that those whom the common men perceive as ‘clean’ in the present state cabinet are all the Swayamsevaks of Sangh.

Many people talk about the frequent visits of the BJP heads of the state to ‘Keshavakripa’, the RSS office in Bangalore. Hence, they ask why you can’t question such fellows. Yes, the Sangh expresses its opinion with those people in accordance with its ‘stands’ mentioned above. Many a time this message is conveyed in strong words too. It is not proper to deny entry to anybody to Keshavakripa. The doors of Sangh office are wide open to people from all classes and sectors of the society any time. It is a regular feature that not just the BJP leaders, but also the leaders of other political parties, those who do not agree with the principles of Sangh, intellectuals, litterateurs and social activists- hundreds of people visit the office every day. Being a social organization, the Sangh cannot close its doors to anybody. Still, the Sangh has informed people concerned recently that it is not appropriate to visit the Sangh office only to discuss the ‘political strife’ with a note that it would lead to the opinion that Sangh has its nod to all the activities of the BJP. (There is another issue here: Some people visit the Sangh office or not, it does not make any difference in the moral responsibility of the Swayamsevaks. It is not their meeting with the Sangh leaders inevitable at least to caution them on their acts?)

Blast cloud on RSS outreach Pracharak

A senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak assigned to reach out to Muslims has been mentioned in the Ajmer dargah blast chargesheet as a conspirator. Indresh Kumar, a Sangh national executive member, is in charge of the outfit’s Rashtriya Muslim Morcha and has been involved in back- channel talks with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for a negotiated Ayodhya settlement.

The 806-page chargesheet  says Indresh and seven other Hindu radical leaders met secretly in Jaipur on October 31, 2005, and plotted the blasts at Ajmer Sharif, Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Malegaon.

Rajasthan police sources said Indresh had not technically been named as an accused because further investigations were on to establish his role in the blast, which killed three persons at the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti on October 11, 2007.

The development comes at a time the Sangh has been disowning those accused in the “Hindu terror” blasts, many of them linked to a radical outfit called Abhinav Bharat.

“It’s a political conspiracy…. I will fight this injustice in court,” Indresh said.  But Sangh sources who spoke to him conceded he had not categorically denied his presence at the meeting. Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav initially said the accusation was “far from the truth” and would be challenged in court, but later issued a toned-down statement: “We do not believe in such violent activities and will definitely cooperate with the investigators.”

Former RSS chief KC Sudershan today charged Congress with hatching a conspiracy to defame the Hindu organisation asserting RSS leader Indresh Kumar was not involved in any anti-national activitiy, former

The imperative of keeping the Bihar coalition with Nitish Kumar intact prompted the BJP to distance itself from Indresh without disowning him. “The BJP will react only if there is credible evidence. It is more appropriate for the RSS to react,” spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari alleged the Sangh had always worked to “disturb communal amity” and the chargesheet was “a manifestation of its direction right from the beginning”.

The chargesheet, filed by Rajasthan police’s anti-terrorism squad at the court of the Ajmer additional chief judicial magistrate, says the secret meeting took place at room No. 26 of a Gujarati community guesthouse on Jaipur’s M.I. Road.

It says Indresh was the chief speaker and urged the others to carry out their individual assignments while remaining affiliated with religious organisations to stay under the police radar.

The others at the meeting included several prime accused in the Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer blasts: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Ramji Kalsangra, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange and Sunil Joshi, who died recently.

Devendra is one of the five accused in the Ajmer chargesheet and is in judicial custody with two of the others: Lokesh Sharma and Chandra Shekhar. They are all linked with Abhinav Bharat and have been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy and defiling a place of worship. The other two accused, Dange and Kalsangra, are in hiding. Arguments on the chargesheet will be heard from Tuesday.

The BJP fears that the Congress and the Lalu Prasad-Ram Vilas Paswan combine will use Indresh’s name in the Bihar poll campaign to play on Muslims’ fears about the Sangh.

via Blast cloud on RSS outreach man.

Google to bring Dead Sea Scrolls online

Sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

The Dead Sea Scrolls, among the world’s most important, mysterious and tightly restricted archaeological treasures, are about to get Googled.

The technology giant and Israel announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to give researchers and the public the first comprehensive and searchable database of the scrolls – a 2,000-year-old collection of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek documents that shed light on Judaism during biblical times and the origins of Christianity. For years, experts have complained that access to the scrolls has been too limited.

Once the images are up, anyone will be able to peruse exact copies of the original scrolls as well as an English translation of the text on their computer – for free. Officials said the collection, expected to be available within months, will feature sections that have been made more legible thanks to high-tech infrared technology.

“We are putting together the past and the future in order to enable all of us to share it,” said Pnina Shor, an official with Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the late 1940s in caves in the Judean Desert and are considered one of the greatest finds of the last century.

 After the initial discovery, tens of thousands of fragments were found in 11 caves nearby. Some 30,000 of these have been photographed by the antiquities authority, along with the earlier finds. Together, they make up more than 900 manuscripts.

 For decades, access to 500 scrolls was limited to a small group of scholar-editors with exclusive authorization from Israel to assemble the jigsaw puzzle of fragments, and to translate and publish them. That changed in the early 1990s when much of the previously unpublished text was brought out in book form.

 Restricted access

But even now, access for researchers is largely restricted at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the originals are preserved in a dark, temperature-controlled room.

 Shor said scholars must receive permission to view the scrolls from the authority, which receives about one request a month. Most are given access, but because no more than two people are allowed into the viewing room at once, scheduling conflicts arise. Researchers are permitted three hours with only the section they have requested to view placed behind glass.

 Putting the scroll online will give scholars unlimited time with the pieces of parchment and may lead to new hypotheses, Shor said.

 “This is the ultimate puzzle that people can now rearrange and come up with new interpretations,” she said.

 Scholars already can access the text of the scrolls in 39 volumes along with photographs of the originals, but critics say the books are expensive and cumbersome. Shor said the new pictures – photographed using cutting-edge technology – are clearer than the originals.

 The refined images were shot with a high-tech infrared camera NASA uses for space imaging. It helped uncover sections of the scrolls that have faded over the centuries and became indecipherable.

 If the images uploaded prove to be of better quality than the original, scholars may rely on these instead of traveling to Jerusalem to see the scrolls themselves, said Rachel Elior, a professor of Jewish thought at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

 “The more accessible the fragments are the better. Any new line, any new letter, any better reading is a great happiness for scholars in this field,” she said.

 ‘May spur new interpretations’

The new partnership is part of a drive by Google to have historical artifacts catalogued online, along with any other information.

 “There are artifacts in boxes, in museum basements. We ask ourselves how much this stuff is available on the Internet. The answer is not a lot, and not enough,” said Yossi Matias, an official from Google-Israel.

 Google has worked to upload old books from European universities and pictures of archaeological finds from Iraq’s national university. This project is different, Matias said, because access to the scrolls may spur new interpretations of the highly debated text and because the scrolls have a more universal appeal.

 For the last 18 years, segments of the scrolls have been publicly displayed in museums around the world. At a recent exhibit in St. Paul, Minn., 15 fragments were shown.

 Shor said a typical 3-month exhibit in the US draws 250,000 people, illustrating just how much the scrolls have fascinated people.

 “From the minute all of this will go online, there will be no need to expose the scroll anymore,” Shor said. “Anyone in his office or on his couch will be able to click and see any scroll fragment or manuscript that they like.”

 Much mystery continues to surround the scrolls. No one knows who copied these ancient texts or how they got there. The scrolls include parts of the Hebrew Bible as well as treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war.

Over the years, the texts have sparked heated debates among researchers over their origins.

 Some believe the Essenes, a monastic sect seen by some as a link to early Christianity, hid the scrolls during the Jewish revolt of the first century AD, Others believe they were written in Jerusalem and stashed in caves at Qumran by Jewish refugees fleeing the Roman conquest of the city, also in the first century.

via Google to bring Dead Sea Scrolls online – Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews.

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Prince of Arcot

 

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams with the Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, at Amir Mahal in Chennai.

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury Reverend Rowan Williams on Monday met the Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammad Abdul Ali at his ancestral home “Amir Mahal”.

During an hour-long meeting, the Nawab said the Archbishop’s visit would help strengthenties among minority communities, especially Muslim and Christian.

The Nawab also appealed to the Archbishop to continue to play a vital role in promoting world peace and universal brotherhood.

Among those present were the delegation from the Church of England accompanying the Archbishop on his Indian visit — United States Consul-General in Chennai Andrew Simkin, Bishop in the Madras Diocese of the Church of South India V. Devasahayam, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore A.M. Chinnappa, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram, chairman of the Tamil Nadu Minorities Commission Vincent Chinnadurai, President of the Evangelical Church of India Bishop Ezra Sargunam, and Mufti Salahuddin Mohammed Ayub, Chief Kazi to the State government.

via Archbishop of Canterbury meets Prince of Arcot.

Real tug of war for Muslim votes in Bihar

All parties are in Bihar are making their best efforts to get Muslim votes in the  Assembly election, irrespective of the social complexion of parties and alliances.

All eyes are on this community as it is expected to decide the outcome of the first phase of the election to 47 constituencies, which may suggest the trend in the next five phases of polling, which will culminate on November 20.

The focus is on Muslims’ reaction to the Ayodhya title suit verdict, as this is the first electoral test after the verdict of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.

The RJD and its ally, the LJP, the Congress and the JD (U) and even its ally, the BJP, are wooing the Muslims and have liberally given them ticket. The BSP too is seeking to intensify the struggle.

The BJP has fielded a JD(U)-sponsored candidate and for the first time has appealed to the minorities to vote for it. The Muslims have a choice to make in this three-way battle.

The Muslim voters are generally reticent but point to the critical stance of the Urdu papers on the Ayodhya verdict, the statements of their leaders and the group meetings where the Congress and the JD(U) come in for attack, and the arrest of BJP leader L.K. Advani by RJD chief Lalu Prasad during the rath yatra.

Political observers say Ayodhya is an issue and point out that shops had remained closed and roads%

via Real tug of war for Muslim votes in Bihar.

Imam Bukhari assaults Journalist for asking question on Ayodhya

Imam Bukhari assaults Journalist for asking question on Ayodhya

The Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari assaulted a Urdu journalist at a press conference after the journalist asked an inconvenient question on the Ayodhya dispute.

An FIR was lodged against the Shahi Imam on a complaint by Mohammad Abdul Waheed Chisti, the reporter of a Urdu daily, at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow. The case was registered under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

Bukhari has been urging Muslims not to accept a verdict based on faith. He also trashed the idea of a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute. This afternoon, when Chishti asked him why Muslims “shouldn’t be allowed to build an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by resolving the issue through dialogue”, Bukhari at first ignored him.

But Chishti, who said he brings out a newsweekly from Lucknow, wouldn’t give up. “I wanted to ask imam sahab what harm will it cause if we give up the land in Ayodhya for Hindus…. It’s time we made a new beginning,” he said.

Two minutes later, when Chishti stood up again, Bukhari shouted: “It is because of people like you that the mosque was brought down. You traitor, shut up.” Then he wrapped up the conference.

What provoked the assault was the media interest in Chishti that followed. As soon as the press conference was over, the electronic media swooped on Chishti for his reaction.

His men tried to pull Chishti away from the TV cameras but were pushed away by the mediamen. Soon afterwards, Bukhari’s men told him that the journalist was talking to TV channels outside. Bhukhari, standing in a corner of the hotel hall, watched for some time. Then he asked his aides to catch hold of the scribe and beat him up.

As his men attacked Chishti, some journalists grappled to stave them off. Bukhari was shouting at the top of his voice threatening the journalist with dire consequences. Chased out of the conference hall, he was first slapped by Bukhari and then roughed up by the imam’s supporters.

“The maulana is a respected cleric, but the way he acted today, it was worse than a hooligan,” Chishti told reporters soon after the melee ended.

Waheed Chishti, a sufi, is general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Maha Sufi Sangh Seva Samity. He represents the Dastan-e-Awadh weekly.

Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the Ayodhya case, castigated the maulana for “irresponsible” and “shameful” conduct. He said the attack on the scribe was a result of “frustration”.

“The imam is frustrated as his efforts to sell himself as the messiah of Muslims have failed,” Ansari said, calling Bukhari an “opportunist” trying to capitalise on the Ayodhya verdict to serve vested interests.