Bible which draws from Vedas, Gandhi

August 17, 2008

A new version of the Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church has become a huge hit in Kerala.

References in the Indianised version of the Bible have been picked up from the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Manusmriti.

The characters in the Bible have also been dressed up in Indian clothes. A sketch shows Joseph wearing a turban and Mary in a sari. Mother Mary holds baby Jesus in her arms in the sketch.

However, the sketch is just one among the 24 sketches in the new Indianised Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Indianisation does not end with the sketches. The Bible not only contains commentaries with references to the Upanishads, the Gita and the Manusmriti, it also has references to Gandhi and Miraben.

Nevertheless, the text is the accepted Catholic version.

“I welcome this unprecedented step as long as the message of Bible is never compromised with. The Biblical version, which we have been reading in India, is mostly the translations by European scholars. For example, The Jerusalem Bible poem. However, the Indianised version is a new attempt by Asian scholars and theologians,” says Theologian and thinker, Professor PT Chacko.

The Indianised bible is a revised edition of the popular Christian Community Bible, which is produced by French priest Bernardo Hurault, for non-English speaking audience. About 30 scholars have worked on the Indian interpretations, which are published as footnotes.

“There are about seventy references to non-Christian texts in both the Testaments. About 30 scholars participated in making the commentary. Some of them have included Indian scriptures, while others have not,” says Spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church, Father Paul Thelakkat.

Meanwhile, the Church says the idea is to give a cultural relevance to the message of the Bible and going by the response in Kerala, it seems that the idea has been well received.

The challenge of having Western readers see past culture and gender

August 16, 2008

There has been a certain anglophone appetite of late for female authors from the Middle East. “Girls of Riyadh” by Rajaa Alsanea, the tale of four young women living and loving in Saudi Arabia, sold millions in Britain and the US, generating a few positive reviews and many column inches for its taboo-busting stories.

Similarly, “Persepolis,” Mariane Satrapi’s stylish graphic novel about her Iranian childhood, has proven popular with curious Westerners whose newspapers feature more about Iran every day. Lebanon’s Joumana Haddad, already widely translated in the rest of Europe, is publishing a collection of her poetry in English this autumn.

The curiosity of the English-language readership has clearly been helped along a little. On one hand, the media has been flooded with news from the Middle East – even before the events of September 11, 2001. On the other hand, academic programs focusing on Middle East studies and women’s studies have been a staple of left-liberal universities in North America and the UK for some time now.

Whatever the reason for the piqued curiosity, the interest itself is clearly a cause for celebration. Nevertheless, some women writers, particularly in Lebanon, have expressed reservations.
They are nervous about being lumped together with the other countries of the region, concerned that diversity will be ignored. Neither do they want to be considered separately from men as “women authors” rather than as simply authors.

Most particularly, some of these writers are conscious that the books that find commercial success in translation are those that reinforce stereotypes about the Middle East – of hijabs and forced marriages as well as repression.

Haddad welcomes the increased number of women writers in the Middle East, however. It is, she says, a slow process and partly the result of the gradual erosion of the patriarchal society, something she is keen to point out is not peculiar to this region, but a global phenomenon.

Alawiya Sobh, whose novels include “Maryam al-Hakaya” (Mariam of the Stories) and “Dunia,” also welcomes the increased number of women’s voices in literature. Nowadays, she says, there are “good women writers who have their remarks and contributions in pushing forward Lebanese literature and activating and lighting the Arabic literature as a whole.”

“Frankness is very necessary to art,” Sobh says, “but it’s not enough to make art.” Yet it is sometimes frankness, specifically the frank confessionals of women writing about negative experiences in “the East,” that sells in English translation.

One of the best-selling books in the US by a Middle Eastern woman was not a novel or a collection of short fiction but one that purports to be a memoir. Jean P. Sassoon’s “Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia” was depicted in the Washington Post as portraying the “position of women in Saudi Arabia … out of its historical and sociological context.” The result, the reviewer wrote, “reeks of tabloid journalism.”
Another memoir, “Sharon and My Mother-in-law,” Suad Amiry’s account of life in Palestine, is a more-recent popular hit. While this book is indeed interesting and well written, the subject matter is once again the Middle East itself, and in particular women here. Books by women that are recognized as literature in their own right, rather than true-life confessions, are rare in English translation.

The way the books are received can also be frustrating for the authors.

Rajaa Alsanea’s “Girls of Riyadh” tells a story of young Saudi women living within the restrictions of Saudi society. Just 25 years old when she wrote the book, Alsanea was then living in Chicago, and the book was banned in Saudi Arabia.

Writers are also nervous about assumptions that all authors across the Middle East and Arab world are the same.

Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat, whose books include “Hajar al-Dahik” (The Stone of Laughter) and “Harit al-Miyah” (The Tiller of Waters), sees the gradual increase of women writers as part of the “natural evolution of things. Women are more numerous in the workplace, in schools and so as a consequence they are more numerous as writers.”

(Source: The Daily Star)

Meera Ben – Gandhi’s English Daughter

August 15, 2008

She belonged to a weaker sex. She found a home in a foreign land. She fought for a cause that was a dream for million’s. She became a part of a struggle that could not have been her own. She was one of the two English daughters of Gandhi – Meera Ben. Come, lets explore her life story which journeys in midst of thorn and suffering but with a satisfied soul.

Meera Ben
The real name of Meera Ben is Madeline Slade. She was a solitary child who disliked school but loved flowers, birds, trees and animals. This made her parents to get her education at home by a governess. She learnt to read and write, but she just hated numbers. In the later part of her life this flaw made her study Botany and Anatomy than mathematics. As a child, she had an aptitude to learn different languages in short span. She learnt French, German and later Egyptian.

Meera Ben was an attractive lady, with six feet height, charismatic features, a sharp hooked nose and beautiful eyes. History states that she was much sought after by young men but the lady was not interested in love affair. She rather was frantically searching for peace and an significant aim in life.

One of the biographies state that Meera Ben did not like the western culture and instead enjoyed being with nature. She loved music that could soothe her soul. Beethoven a deaf musician roused in her a spiritual hunger, that made her go to a pilgrimage to Bonn and Vienna (the places of Beethoven’s birth and death). She was so imbibed in Beethoven that she made all possible attempts to know all about him. She was more inspired by him after reading ‘Jean Christophe’, a novel based on the life of Beethoven, written by Romain Rolland. Now, she made up her mind to meet this French philosopher. In order to talk to him in French, she first went to live in France in order to master the writers language.

It was here Meera Behn was introduced to Mahatma Gandhi. She read Romain Rolland’s book ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ at one sitting and it changed her life. In one of the interview she states, “Now I knew what that something was, the approach of which I had been feeling….It was to go to Mahatma Gandhi who served the cause of oppressed India through fearless truth and non-violence, a cause, which though focused in India, was for the whole of humanity.” She was such an ethical lady that in order to prepare herself to meet here Guru- Gandhi, she gave up alcoholic drinks, became a vegetarian and studied the Bhagvad Gita.

After Meera felt she was all prepared to join Gandhi’s mission, she wrote a letter to Gandhiji congratulating him at the end of his 21 day fast in 1924 and sent him some money for his cause. In the letter she insisted that she wanted to join him. Gandhi welcomed her with open arms and thus started her bit of struggle to India’s freedom. She came to Bombay on 6 November 1925 and the very next day she was at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmadabad to be apart of a cause that millions dreamt.

In the beginning life in the Ashram was not any fairytale that Meera read in several books. But she never opted defeat she made all possible adjustments, learnt Hindi, adopted Indian dress and mastered spinning and carding. Gandhiji later sent her to the Kanya Gurukul, Dehradun. In the Gurukul she taught English, spinning and carding. Gandhiji never wanted her to join the political struggle, so she toured Bihar, Bengal and Madras to propagate Khadi and to teach improved methods of carding and spinning. She even taught the villagers sanitation and nursed the sick. However, her ill health usually made her travel back to the feet of Gandhi, but as soon as she recovered she went to her doom of people who needed her the most.
Meera Ben accompanied Gandhiji to the most important events like the Second Round Table Conference in 1932 (acted as his interpreter) and Satyagraha movement. She was later imprisoned along with Kasturba for her contribution in freedom struggle. A research states that during the Second World War, Bapu sent Meera to Assam, Orissa and Bengal and it was on the basis of her reports that he worked out a scheme of non-violent civil defense. She was also sent to the A. I. C. C. at Allahabad with a draft on Quit India Movement which was later accepted at the Bombay A. I. C. C. meeting in August 1942 as the Quit India Resolution. That’s not all, Meera was also arrested along with Bapu and was in the Aga Khan Palace Detention Camp from August 1942 to May 1944. After her release from the jail she started a center for the services of the villagers and old domestic animals near Rishikesh.

Meera never married. She vowed to be a Brahmacharini, so she shaved off her head and in later years adopted saffron robes. In one of the interviews, she said she felt like a foreigner in England but in India she found her home. This proved the immense love and faith she had towards India and her guru Gandhi. It was this love and faith that made Gandhi call her Meera. After Gandhi’s assassination, Meera felt lost in the mystic world. So, on 18th January 1959 she left India for good and settled in a small village about 30 miles out of Vienna. In her native land many workers and farmers called her “The Indian Lady”.

Meera Ben made her impact in Indian history and the struggle for freedom. She chose a path walked by few extraordinaries to find a land free form domination.

(Source: OneIndia)

Translation of a poem by Usha Kishore

August 14, 2008

મારી મા

મારી માની રંગબેરંગી સાડીઓ

મારા આંગણમાં સુકાતી

ખંડેખંડ લહેરાતી

એ લઇ આવે ચોમાસુ પવનોને આ આયરીશ સમુદ્ર પરના

દ્વીપના એકાંતમાં.

મારી માની લાલચટક ચૂડીઓ

મા ચાલે, તો મારા મૌનમાં એ રણકે

વીણાના સૂરો સાથે, તબલાના તાલ સાથે.

મારી માની વાનગીઓ ચટાકેદાર

કંઇક સભ્યતાઓ વટાવતી

આ વાનગીઓ, મારા તાળવાને તમતમાવે

પહાડી તેજાણાથી અને ઘરના ઝુરાપાથી.

માના ખોળામાં મારાં બાળકો.

મા એમને હાલરડાં ગાય

નારીએળીમાંથી સૂસવતા પવનો વડે

આ હાલરડાંઓ ચીતરી દે મારા ભાવોને.

મારી મા હાજરાહજૂર

મારા આવાસને ગીતાના ગાન વડે મઘમઘાવતી

અને હું પસ્તાવે પાછી ફરેલી દીકરી

ઘેર પોતાની પાસે આવી જાઉં.

– અનુ. ચન્દ્રકાન્ત ટોપીવાળા

Celebrating India’s linguistic diversity

August 13, 2008

Twelve years ago, when India celebrated the 49th anniversary of our independence from British rule, H D Deve Gowda, then the prime minister, stood at the ramparts of New Delhi’s 16th century Red Fort and delivered the traditional Independence Day address to the nation in Hindi, the language which we have all learned to refer to (though the term has no constitutional basis) as India’s ‘national language’.

Eight other prime ministers had done exactly the same thing 48 times before him, but what was unusual this time was that Deve Gowda, a southerner from the state of Karnataka, spoke to the country in a language of which he scarcely knew a word. Tradition and politics required a speech in Hindi, so he gave one — the words having been written out for him in his native Kannada script, in which they, of course, made no sense.

Such an episode is almost inconceivable elsewhere, but it represents the best of the oddities that help make India India. Only in India could a country be ruled by a man who does not understand its ‘national language’. Only in India, for that matter, is there a ‘national language’ that half the population does not understand. And only in India could this particular solution be found to enable the prime minister to address his people.

Back in the 1980s, one of Indian cinema’s finest playback singers, the Keralite K J Yesudas, sang his way to the top of the Hindi music charts with lyrics in that language written in the Malayalam script for him, but to see the same practice elevated to the prime ministerial address on Independence Day was a startling affirmation of Indian pluralism.

I have often argued that we are all minorities in India. But language is one of the most interesting affirmations of our diversity. Though i am no great linguist myself, i was able to joke to an American friend once that i was a typically Indian child: I spoke Malayalam to my mother, English to my father, Hindi to our driver, Bengali to our domestic help and Sanskrit to God. One look at our rupee notes, with their denominations spelled out in 18 languages (and nearly as many scripts) is enough to make the point. The Constitution of India recognises 23 languages today, but in fact there are 35 Indian languages that are each spoken by more than a million people — and these are languages with their own scripts, grammatical structures and cultural assumptions, not just dialects (and if we’re to count dialects, there are more than 22,000).

No language enjoys majority status in India, though Hindi is coming perilously close. Thanks in part to the popularity of Bollywood, Hindi is understood, if not always well spoken, by nearly half our population, but it cannot truly be considered the language of the majority. Indeed, its locutions, gender rules and script are unfamiliar to most Indians in the south or northeast. And if the proliferation of Hindi TV channels has made the spoken language more accessible to many non-native speakers, the fact that other languages too have captured their share of the TV audience means that our linguistic diversity is not going to disappear.

One of my favourite silly jokes as a small child was about a native of Madras (not yet rebaptised Chennai) who finds himself lost in the nation’s capital and approaches a Sikh policeman with the helpless query, ‘‘Tamil teriyima?’’ Whereupon the cop retorts, ‘‘Punjabi tera baap!’’ Part of the goodnatured joy of the juvenile joke was that the bilingual pun was one that most Indians — but only Indians — could catch instantly. The popularity in the 1990s of those endless ‘Ajit jokes’, which relied on linguistic humour of the most inventively bilingual kind, could never find an equivalent in the monolingual cultures of America or the white members of the British Commonwealth. Indeed, a more contemporary joke doing the rounds at the UN goes like this: ‘‘What do you call someone who speaks two languages?’’ Answer: ‘‘Bilingual.’’ ‘‘And someone who speaks several languages?’’ Answer: ‘‘Multilingual.’’ And someone who speaks only one language?’’ Answer: ‘‘American.’’

But my larger and more serious point, as we look forward to our 61st Independence Day, is that Indian nationalism is a rare animal indeed. The French speak French, the Germans speak German, the Americans speak English (though Spanish is making inroads, especially in the south-west and south-east of the US) — but Indians speak Punjabi, or Gujarati, or Malayalam, and it does not make us any less Indian. The idea of India is not based on language (since we have at least 18 or 35, depending on whether you follow the Constitution or the ethnolinguists). It is no accident that Jawaharlal Nehru’s classic volume of Indian nationalism, The Discovery of India, was written in English — and it is fair to say that Nehru discovered India in English. Indeed, when two Indians meet abroad, or two educated urban Indians meet in India, unless they have prior reason to believe they have an Indian language in common, the first language they speak to each other is English. It is in English that they establish each other’s linguistic identity, and then they switch comfortably to another language, or a hybrid, depending on the link they have established.

In my books and columns i have sung a great deal about the virtues of pluralism. It is a reality that pluralism emerges from the very nature of our country; it is a choice made inevitable by India’s geography, reaffirmed by its history and reflected in its ethnography. Let us celebrate our Independence on August 15 in a multitude of languages, so long as we can say in all of them how proud we are to be Indian.

– Shashi Tharoor in The Times of India

Banks opt to go slow on training recovery agents

August 12, 2008

Only 25 recovery agents have been certified by the Indian Institute of Banking Finance (IIBF) – the entity mandated by the regulator to conduct exams for a certification programme – despite a Reserve Bank of India directive to get them to undergo training.

While there are no firm estimates available, bank executives said that there are nearly 100,000 agents and bank executives involved with the recovery process.

Instead of training executives at a time when delinquency rates are rising across segments, lenders have approached industry body Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and IIBF to lower the fees, which are in the range of Rs 6,000-8,000 for every agent. Bankers said they were finding it difficult to keep employees and agents away from work for 15 days when they undergo the 100-hour training and certification programme mandated by the central bank.

On their part, banks said the pace of training is gathering momentum. Many banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and ABN Amro are conducting in-house training programmes for their agents, who will later write the IIBF-conducted examination. Public sector lender Bank of Baroda has also received IBA’s recognition for an in-house training institute. By the end of the quarter, BoB intends to train around 40 agents.

IIBF has also tied up around 50 agencies across the country to step up the training process. In order to speed up the process and get more people to undergo training, the medium of instruction and writing is being expanded from English and Hindi to nine other Indian regional languages, the institute’s functionary said.

(Source: Business Standard)

How to develop website in local language?

August 11, 2008

If a website wants to pull a large number visitors then it is important to provide more localized content. This means that the site should show up in the local language of the visitors accessing the website. For example if a non-English reader wants to access your website and your website is not localized in his/her language, then you might end up losing that visitor.

But if your website is localized, you might be able to retain that visitor. With the help of Web developer 2008 ASP.NET AJAX, you can build such websites in minutes. But the only issue is that you should have a translator who knows and can translate different languages.

Earlier, developers used to develop such website, ie, localized websites with the help of ASP.NET. So what’s different in using Web developer 2008 ASP.NET AJAX? Well the difference lies in the term AJAX. Earlier whole page had to be rendered from the server and then the required language was shown to the user. And if the user asks for any other response from the server then also the whole page had to be refreshed.

The technique behind this is that there is a global resource residing on the server which consists of some keywords that do not change in any case, ie the name doesn’t depend on the language setting of the user. And there is local resource on the server which contains all the substitutes for the words that will be changed according the language displayed. Now using the AJAX the resource gets downloaded on the client itself and whenever the user demands for any language change then immediately the language is change after he/she presses refresh button. But this time the text or labels are not rendered from the server but the local resource that is downloaded at the client side is used.

For more details, please visit

Indians better than British in English usage

August 10, 2008

Indians must be proud as academics say that the students from India who are studying in British universities possess high potential in using English language perfectly. While many British students usually come up with wrong usage of spelling, punctuation and grammar, Indian students are often showing high standards in the basic English grammar and other usages.

An Indian-origin university lecturer said that British students even in their second year of degree course, use atrocious English in their assignments. He said that he often found it challenging to figure out what students wanted to express in English. “International students, in contrast, had better English language skill,” he added.

According to the academics, most common mistakes are in spelling, student often use ‘their’ when they mean ‘there’, ‘who’s’ for ‘whose’, ‘truely’ for ‘truly’, ‘occured’ for ‘occurred’ and ‘speach’ for ‘speech’.
Ken Smith, a senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University, said that many students failed to apply basic rules, such as ‘i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’. The words ‘weird’, ‘seize’, ‘leisure’ and ‘neighbor’ are regularly misspelt by students. “Mistakes are now so common that academics should simply accept them as ‘variants,”‘ he told.

Bernard Lamb, a Reader in genetics at Imperial College London told that many British students appear to have been through school without mastering basic rules of grammar and punctuation, or having their errors corrected.

As students find it difficult to use English properly, some universities have extended the course by a year to give extra tuition to weaker students.

“All the data suggests that there are more and more students at university level whose spelling is not up to scratch. Universities are even finding they have masters-level students who cannot spell,” told Jack Bovill, Chairman of The Spelling Society.

Rabindranath Tagore’s anniversary of death observed

August 9, 2008

Bangladesh observed the 67th death anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore through daylong cultural programmes and discussions.

The most celebrated Bangla playwright, novelist and composer, whose works redefined Bangla literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Rabindranath passed away on 22 Shraban in 1348 after long illness at Jorasanko mansion in Kolkata.

Numerous organisations in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country organised cultural programmes to observe the death anniversary of the great poet who gave both Bangladesh and India their national anthem.

Bangla Academy held a discussion on Tagore’s life and works and a cultural programme at its seminar hall.

Syed Abul Moksud presented a paper on Rabindranath’s thought on religion and philosophy. Prof Galib Ahsan Khan and Prof Niranjan Adhikari weighed in with their understanding of the poet.

Academy Director General Dr Syed Mohammad Shahed delivered the welcome speech at the discussion chaired by Prof Aminul Islam.

“Rabindranath’s religious and philosophical spirits were not aimed at his own peace or salvation of his own soul; his philosophy was for the salvation of the mankind,” Abul Moksud said.

Iffat Ara Dewan, Bulbul Islam, Tapan Bhattacharya, Shama Raman and Israt Jahan Pamela later presented Rabindranath’s songs.

The Rabindra Sangeet Shilpi Sangstha organised a two-day programme to mark the poet’s death anniversary at Central Public Library while ‘Swarabritta’ held a session of his songs and poetry recitals.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private television channels broadcast special programmes on this occasion.

Nicknamed ‘Rabi’, the poet, the youngest of fourteen surviving children of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi, was born on 25 Baishakh 1268 and grew up in an elevated and culturally enlightened environment, to be a landlord or ‘zamindar’ governing sprawling estates in Kushtia, Pabna and Rajshahi in the then East Bengal.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems, he soon became known in the West. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

The prolific writer enriched every branch of modern Bangla literature by writing thousands of songs, hundreds of exquisite short stories, great novels, plays and musicals.

His famed anthology of poems ‘Geetanjali’ won him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. He founded the world famous seat of learning ‘Santiniketan’.

(Source: The Daily Star)

An international school where Sanskrit is compulsory!

August 8, 2008

The corridors of the school resonates with the chants of Sanskrit shlokas each day. Never mind the somewhat muddled and imperfect pronunciations, the spirit of the students, many of whom are not Indians, symbolizes the ideology of the Global Indian International School that offers global education with the Indian spirit.

The Global Indian Foundation, a Singapore-based non-profit organisation which established the first Global Indian International School six years back in Singapore, has now grown into a healthy network of 15 schools in seven countries with more than 17,000 students.

While most students are Indians, the school also gets students from as many as 30 countries. Four schools are in India and the rest across countries like Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Thailand and Singapore. The forte of the school lies in offering world-class education and a curriculum that moulds its students into confident individuals. However, care is taken that the Indian spirit is never lost.

So, for instance, it’s compulsory for all students to learn Sanskrit. Atul Temurnikar, chairman of the Global Indian Foundation, said that whether Indian or not, all students have to learn spoken Sanskrit in their schools. “Initially some students had reservations about learning Sanskrit shlokas, thinking that it was a religious exercise. But then everything fell into place and now all students recite the shlokas… Absolutely perfect pronunciation is a challenge for the non-Indian students, but they do it with spirit,” Temurnikar told IANS over an interaction in the capital.

All the Global Indian International schools also have a compulsory Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Values and Thoughts – a library of books on Gandhi. “Archives of old photos of Gandhi, books and other print matter are kept in the Gandhi resource centres – a compulsory feature in all the schools,” Temurnikar said.