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Call for ‘zero tolerance’ against bias attacks

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Washington: The Indian community in New Jersey has issued a message of “zero tolerance” in the wake of continuing attacks on people of Indian origin in the neighborhood, media reported on Wednesday. 9852930-zero-tolerance-stamp

Fear gripped the community after an elderly man Rohit Patel was seriously injured in an alleged “bias attack” in broad daylight earlier this month in Brunswick town, reported Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper serving North and South Brunswick.

Patel, 57, was found lying on the road by a passing driver. He sustained serious injuries, including broken teeth, stitches on his mouth and forehead.

Nyle Kilgore, 24, of North Brunswick who assaulted Patel was later taken into custody.

According to Patel’s family, he was targeted because he was an Indian.

Middle sex County officials met residents at North Brunswick’s municipal building to discuss the aftermath of the incident.

“What has got us together is really a terrible biased crime. It is not acceptable anywhere in the world, but it is especially not acceptable here in our home. It’s a home for all of us. We are a community,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack was quoted as saying.

In a similar case in the past, Divyendu Sinha, 49, was attacked by a group of teenagers as he walked near his home along with his family members in 2010.

“If we firmly believe that we do not have tolerance for this type of bias, we need to spell it out, let those individuals who are intolerant get the message that diversity is the name of this town,” the paper quoted a resident as saying.

“If this is not their community, find another community so everyone can live in harmony,” he said.

According to councilwoman Shanti Narra, an Indian-origin criminal lawyer in New York City, the stereotypes that Indians are passive, they love gold and they keep jewelry in their homes may be the cause behind these attacks.

The New York and New Jersey areas have a huge population of Indian-origin people.

(IANS)

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Hindus in New Jersey Welcome Diwali Holiday in Millburn Schools Draft Calendar

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Millburn High School in New Jersey.
Millburn High School in New Jersey. Universal Society of Hinduism

New Jersey October 07: Hindus in New Jersey have welcomed the reports of closing Millburn Township Public Schools (MTPS) on November seven in the Draft Calendar 2018-2019.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged the MTPS Board of Education to unanimously approve this Diwali holiday included in the calendar draft when it meets on October nine evening. The board should respect the feelings of Hindus, who had been pushing for Diwali holiday in Millburn Township Public Schools for many years.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that the New Jersey Hindus community felt left out as, despite fast-changing state demographics and continuing growth of Hindu populations, only three public school districts had reportedly declared a holiday for students on October 19, the date on which Diwali falls this year.

For 2017 in New Jersey, Glen Rock Public Schools has announced the closure of schools and offices on Diwali; in West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, schools will be closed on October 19; and in Piscataway Township Schools, there is “No School for Students” on Diwali; reports suggest.

In neighbouring New York, six school districts have declared a holiday for students on October 19, which include: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Another Mineola Union Free School District announced that no homework or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports add.

In Pennsylvania, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District headquartered in Kennett Square approved closure of schools on Diwali; while Harvard Public Schools in Massachusetts has declared October 19 as “early release day”, reports note.

Rajan Zed suggested that all other 674 public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New Jersey should seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New Jersey students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Zed pointed out that it would be a positive thing to do in view of the presence of a substantial number of New Jersey Hindus, who are students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.

Rajan Zed stated that it was not fair to Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival while many schools in the state were closed on holy days of some other communities. This unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow; Zed said and added that New Jersey schools needed to urgently revisit their policies on this issue.

Zed further said that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be a step in the positive direction.

Rajan Zed also urged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey State Board of Education President Arcelio Aponte and New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the public school districts in the state and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.

Zed stresses that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.

MTPS, known for academic excellence whose 99% of graduating seniors reportedly attend four-year colleges, has about 5,000 pupils. Emily Jaffe and Dr Christine Burton are Board President and Superintendent respectively. (Universal Society of Hinduism)

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The Solution to Racial Politics in Guyana and Trinidad

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964

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Trinidad and Tobago
Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia

– by Dr Kumar Mahabir

Tobago and Trinidad, August 10, 2017: A noted Anthropologist from Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Kumar Mahabir has brought to attention the racial politics in Guyana and Trinidad. The article is an excerpt from a research paper presented by him recently at the First Diaspora Engagement Conference in Guyana organized by The University of Guyana.

There is legitimate suspicion, fear and insecurity among East Indians of the ruling APNU+AFC regime in Guyana. The President of Guyana, David Granger, was a former Commander of the African-dominated Guyana Defence Force under the PNC regime (1964 -1992), which is the major partner in the current APNU +AFC coalition government.

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964.  USA non-Indian historian, Stephen Rabe (2005) of the University of Texas, reported that in the massacre, 200 persons [mainly Indians] died, 800 were injured, 200 houses were destroyed and 1,800 persons were left homeless.

Dr Kumar Mahabir

Non-Indian sociologist Stephen Spencer at Sheffield Hallam University (UK) stated: “While the police and special volunteers looked on passively, the African Guyanese engaged in an orgy of violence against the Indian community, involving rape, arson, beatings and murder” (p. 52).

Indians have no faith and trust in the African-dominated Government of Guyana led by a PNC former military commander. And indeed most Indians in and out of Guyana believe that the APNU+AFC came to power through a rigged election.

Their belief is not without factual and historical basis. The Latin American Bureau, a human rights organization, reported that the PNC “has been responsible for massively rigging every election that has occurred since the country gained independence.”

Indian Diaspora in Guyana has no Faith in African-dominated Government Click To Tweet

Indians would have no faith in the Diaspora Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unless it is staffed by 40% Indians appointed by the opposition PPP. Contesting the 2015 election as a single party, the PPP barely lost the fight against the united forces of the APNU+AFC alliance.

The result was a narrow victory for the APNU+AFC party with 207,201 votes (50.3% = 33 seats). The PPP followed very closely with 202,656 votes (49.2% = 32 seats) (GECOM, 2015). PPP lost the opportunity to become the government by a mere margin of 4,545 votes. The APNU+AFC collation government is in power by a mere one-seat majority.

General elections were held in racially-divided Trinidad and Tobago on September 7, 2015. The Afro-based People’s National Movement received 52% of the votes and won 23 of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives. The Indo-based People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar got 40% of the votes and won 18 seats. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, his Cabinet Ministers and Ambassadors are mainly Afro-Trinidadians and the PP Opposition consists mainly of Indo-Trinidadians.

For the Guyana’s Government’s diaspora engagement programme to succeed, the ghost of the Wismar massacre has to be put to rest. This can only be done if the APNU+AFC government establishes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) modelled after the restorative justice court in South Africa established after the abolition of apartheid. The APNU+AFC government also has to initiate action to take the surviving assailants of the Wismar Massacre to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Holland.

Guyana’s State polices and programmers can work only if the APNU+AFC government shares power. In his book entitled, Ethno-Politics and Power Sharing in Guyana (2011), David Hinds wrote: “Ethnic groups living side by side have always been suspicious of one another. That suspicion turns to fear and insecurity when the issue of who controls power – decision-making (political) and resource allocation (economic) – invariably arises.”

Hinds added: “In other words, groups fear domination by the other and act out that fear through choices they make both at the community and national levels…. What compounds this fear is that both groups have had a taste of domination by the other” (p. 173).

Attempts by the APNU+AFC government to entice Indian figures to give the semblance of ethnic equality is an exercise in futility. The faces of Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, Rupert Roopnaraine, Amna Ally and Ronald Bulkan are used as ethnic window-dressing.

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In Guyana, David Hinds noted: “Such leaders bring little tangible benefits to the party as they are often ridiculed by their own group as traitors. They are often forced to either endorse ethnic attacks on their group or remain silent” (p. 176).

Hinds observed that parties accept the solution of power sharing when they are in opposition, but reject it when in power. Power sharing with the Opposition is the only solution for development in racially-divided Guyana and Trinidad.

The concept of consociational democracy was developed in 1968 by the political scientist Arend Lijphart from the Netherlands. The political system is intended to reconcile societal divisions along ethnic and religious lines. In consociational states, all groups, including political minorities, are equitably represented in the political and economic arena.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an assistant professor of Anthropology in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

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Union Cabinet Approves Revision of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) Guidelines

The ICWF, set up in 2009, is aimed at assisting overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases on a means tested basis

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PM Narendra Modi, Indian Community
PM Modi Wikimedia

New Delhi, July 19, 2017: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved revision of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) guidelines, to expand scope of welfare measures that can be extended through the fund to overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency.

The ICWF, set up in 2009, is aimed at assisting overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases on a means tested basis.

“The revised guidelines being made broad-based seek to expand the scope of welfare measures that can be extended through the fund. The guidelines would cover three key areas – namely Assisting Overseas Indian nationals in distress situations, community welfare activities and improvement in consular services,” said an official statement.

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“They are expected to provide Indian Missions and Posts abroad greater flexibility in swiftly addressing to requests for assistance by overseas Indian nationals.

“Apart from assisting Indian nationals in distress abroad, ICWF has been a critical support in emergency evacuation of Indian nationals in conflict zones in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and other challenging situations like assistance extended to undocumented Indian workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Nitaqat drive in 2013 and the ongoing Amnesty drive in 2017,” it added.

ICWF to assist overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency. Click To Tweet

Noting that the scale and speed of these evacuations and assistance rendered through the fund has been universally appreciated, the statement said that it “also created a sense of confidence among the migrant workers going overseas about the support they can expect from India during critical times”.

“ICWF stands extended to all Indian Missions and Posts abroad and is primarily funded by levying service charge on various consular services rendered by Indian Missions and Posts abroad,” it added. (IANS)


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