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According to Heinrich von Stietencron, “Statistics have taught us to regard Hinduism as the third largest contemporary religion in terms of the number of adherents, after Christianity and Islam. Hindus make up 89 percent of the population in Nepal, 82 percent in India, 52 percent on Mauritius, 38 per cent and 37 per cent in the South Pacific and the Caribbean; and they also live, as extremely large and, for some years, rapidly growing minorities, in the USA and Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Arab countries, Africa and Europe. The Hindus number around 900 million in total.”
François Gautier, a French political writer and a journalist based in India mentions about the challenges faced by Hindus in just 10 points. In the present day scenario, a huge mass of Hindus has come face to face with a number of challenges posed by the 21st century. It is essential that we look at the following-
- Polytheism and Difficulties: Hindus have a large number of deities, whom they worship in an elaborate manner. The practice of polytheism has led the Christians and the Muslims, who are devout monotheists, to question Hinduism.
But we have to remember that since the very beginning, Hinduism has believed in monotheism. It believed that there is one God and the others are just reincarnation or manifestations of his one true self. This belief of Hinduism had been persistent since the Vedic Ages. However, in the modern times, the ritualistic worship and narrow sectarian outlook towards other religions have brought Hinduism at loggerheads with people from other beliefs.
Hindus must reassert and reinterpret their religion and set an example for religious tolerance which had been preached by the Vedic sages in ancient times.
- The Image of Impoverished India: The foreigners have an image of India which is highly stereotypical in nature. They believe that India is a nation of poverty-stricken people and therefore they disregard the Hindus and treat them with contempt. They are not taken seriously anywhere outside India. There is definitely, an economic crisis in India and there is a recurring issue of deficit budget in India but the fact that India has grown over the years is undeniable.
According to Gautier, the economic liberalisation of 1991 has changed the face of trade, insurance, and banking. There has been no famine since Green Revolution. Unemployment is being dealt with schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. Thus, it is the time that the people residing in abroad start taking Hindus seriously, feels Gautier.
- Hinduism and Caste: The Caste System of India had been there since the ancient times. What’s new? The concept of reservation that came into being after India became independent in 1947. B.R. Ambedkar fought for the emancipation of the lower castes and against caste discrimination. But never did he once disregard the question of merit while talking about reservation for them in educational and occupational institutions, feels Gautier. But time and again, first world countries look down upon India due to the system of caste that prevails in our society. Yes, it is definitely not desirable but at least we have a system to try to help them develop themselves.
- Hindu Fundamentalism: According to Gautier, while studying comparative religion, we learn a simple truth. No religion in its core is violent or preaches violence. It is through the ages of transformation and the influence of people who practice the religious fundamentalism that a religion comes to meet ends through violent means. India has always been home to a multitude of other religions. As Rabindranath Tagore had pointed out that India never had the racial or any kind of unity like Europe or America. But the basis of unity in India was something entirely different, rooted in the brotherhood of men.
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On the other hand, Gandhi was devout Hindu who believed in Satyagraha and abstained from all kinds of violence. The British Press created a hullabaloo over the Babri Masjid incident but what they never care to see that not one Muslim was killed in the process unlike the attacks and bombings of Mumbai in 1993, where a number of Hindus were brutally killed in vengeance. Not only that, history remains witness to the narrow parochial nationalism of Europe and its results. The Holocaust and the World Wars were the events which destroyed mankind.
- Hindus in the West and their Lack of Respect for India: Hindus in the West have sought to blend in with the foreigners, forgetting the importance of their own culture. After all, Britain should still be indebted to India because of all the riches that belonged to us and was taken away by them. Their civilization became rich owing to our wealth. Yet, they never seem to utter a word of gratitude. The Hindus is west, instead of spreading the best of their culture in abroad, feeling ashamed of their origin. That is unacceptable and cruel. They have to keep in mind that theirs is a culture not worth forgetting. They should try to retain their originality instead of becoming an Anglophile.
- Political Power: Hindus look down upon politics as a dirty field of work, riddled with corruption and crime. They tend to stay away from participating in politics apart from casting a vote on the day of the election. Often, India is deprived of bright young people who would have been an asset to Indian politics because they have been raised with the notion that politics is not a desirable career option for them. Top foreign companies like Google and Apple are led by Hindus. Therefore it is essential that they run for political offices as well.
- Modi Agenda: America often brings up the issue of Gujarat riots in order to malign Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But what they choose to overlook is the noticeable development Modi brought about in his own state Gujarat and how not only Muslims but hundreds of Dalits and lower caste Hindus got killed in the riots of 2002 in Gujarat.
- India Equivalent to China: Foreign investments have found their way to China but refuse to happen in India. India is China’s geopolitical partner. But the West seems to ignore that fact and donate everything to China, turning a blind eye to the sub-continent of India. It is unfair for India. Modi is aiming for liberalisation of the economy and it is the primary duty and opportunity for countries abroad to help India. China is a democracy just for the sake of calling it one, however, India is a democracy for real and that never seems to be the concern of the foreign countries.
- The Greatness of Indian Mythology: Whilst, the westerners are occupied with their illustrious Greek and Roman myths, Hindus have their own series of mythological epics. They possess the Iliad and the Odyssey like we boast of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These are not only amazing reads but these are epics that teach you everything and every value that you need to know about Bharatvarsha. The myriad of characters and their personalities are no less than the Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome. Not only that, our history has witnessed great warriors like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Lakshmi Bai who are at par with Alexander, Porus, and Joan of Arc of the West.
- Spreading Happiness in the West: Tagore had said, India had been under the influence of spiritual people like Chaitanya , Nanak, and Kabir, which is why the minds of the Indians are quite a bit different from that of the people in the West. Swami Vivekananda had enthralled the audience in Chicago Conference by his speech on Hinduism and India. Thus, the concept of spirituality had always remained an integral part of Hinduism. We had Ayurveda treatments i.e. natural cures for illnesses and pranayama, a form of yoga, from the very beginning. India is a nation of people who want to practice the art of tolerance and peace as preached by Hinduism.
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Hinduism is by large misinterpreted and mistaken to be something it is not. With the change of time, the religion should also alter its age-old rituals which have become meaningless today. Otherwise, it will be difficult for Hinduism to survive in a world where people look down upon the politics of religion.
-Modified by Aitreyee, a staff-writer at the Newsgram. The article was originally published on the official blog of Francois Gautier
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Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.
Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.
Surgeons attached the pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days. The kidney did what it was supposed to do — filter waste and produce urine — and didn't trigger rejection.
"It had absolutely normal function," said Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the surgical team last month at NYU Langone Health in New York. "It didn't have this immediate rejection that we have worried about."
This research is "a significant step," said Dr. Andrew Adams of the University of Minnesota Medical School, who was not part of the work. It will reassure patients, researchers and regulators "that we're moving in the right direction."
The dream of animal-to-human transplants, or xenotransplantation, dates to the 17th century with stumbling attempts to use animal blood for transfusions. By the 20th century, surgeons were attempting transplants of organs from baboons into humans, notably Baby Fae, a dying infant, who lived 21 days with a baboon heart.
With no lasting success and much public uproar, scientists turned from primates to pigs, tinkering with their genes to bridge the species gap.
Pigs have advantages over monkeys and apes. They are produced for food, so using them for organs raises fewer ethical concerns. Pigs have large litters, short gestation periods and organs comparable to those of humans.
Pig heart valves also have been used successfully for decades in humans. The blood thinner heparin is derived from pig intestines. Pig skin grafts are used on burns, and Chinese surgeons have used pig corneas to restore sight.
Kidney ready for transplantation from a live donor Image credit: wikimedia commons
In the NYU case, researchers kept a deceased woman's body on a ventilator after her family agreed to the experiment. The woman had wished to donate her organs, but they weren't suitable for traditional donation.
'Good could come from this'
The family felt "there was a possibility that some good could come from this gift," Montgomery said.
Montgomery himself received a transplant three years ago, a human heart from a donor with hepatitis C because he was willing to take any organ.
"I was one of those people lying in an ICU waiting and not knowing whether an organ was going to come in time," he said.
Several biotech companies are in the running to develop suitable pig organs for transplant to help ease the human organ shortage. More than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for kidney transplants. Every day, 12 die while waiting.
The advance is a win for Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, the company that engineered the pig and its cousins, a herd of 100 raised in tightly controlled conditions at a facility in Iowa.
The pigs lack a gene that produces alpha-gal, the sugar that provokes an immediate attack from the human immune system.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the gene alteration in the Revivicor pigs as safe for human food consumption and medicine.
But the FDA said developers would need to submit more paperwork before pig organs could be transplanted into living humans.
"This is an important step forward in realizing the promise of xenotransplantation, which will save thousands of lives each year in the not-too-distant future," said United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt in a statement.
Experts say tests on nonhuman primates and last month's experiment with a human body pave the way for the first experimental pig kidney or heart transplants in living people in the next several years.
Raising pigs to be organ donors feels wrong to some people, but it may grow more acceptable if concerns about animal welfare can be addressed, said Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, who will help develop ethics and policy recommendations for the first clinical trials under a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
"The other issue is going to be: Should we be doing this just because we can?" Maschke said. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Transplant, Pig, Human, Kidney, FDA
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Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.
The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.
These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.
The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.
Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.
Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."
The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.
"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences
On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.
According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.
Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.
According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.
Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: BJP, RSS, New Education Policy, Education, India