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Church in India for a Temple in Moscow?

ISKCON expecting Modi to help build a temple in Moscow

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Radha and Krishna in an ISKCON temple
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Moscow, May 1 : Somewhat like the story of Lord Krishna, whose address at birth was said to be a gloomy dungeon in ancient Mathura, the address to Moscow’s only Krishna temple is in a basement in a rented building.

And quite like the story of persecution of Lord Krishna’s parents Devaki and Vasudev, the temple run by ISKCON’s Moscow chapter dedicated to the Hindu god, has had to be shifted to the makeshift subterranean abode, due to what is being perceived as sustained non-cooperation by the authorities as well as conservative religious groups, which have in the past, thwarted attempts to construct a temple on land officially allotted to the New York-founded society.

But for Sadhu Priya Das, who has been pursuing the issue for ISKCON in Moscow, the arrival of Narendra Modi as the Indian prime minister, who has already visited Russia twice since assuming office in 2014, could well be a catalyst in ensuring that a temple for Krishna comes alive in the land of the Kremlin.

“We are very hopeful that in the current tenure of Mr. Modi our temple will be built,” Das told this visiting IANS correspondent.

The history of the Hare Krishna movement’s efforts to build the temple appears as chequered as it seems mystifying.

The Hare Krishna movement was first legalized in the then Soviet Union 1988, after an initial spell of suspicion in the government establishment about the cult on account of its American lineage as well as unique methods of worship.

The real trouble however began in 2004, when its first and only temple located on the Begovaya avenue was demolished by the civic authorities on account of an urban development project. The Society was then awarded an alternative plot of land on the tony Leningradsky Prospekt, a move which saw strong protests from the conservative Russian Orthodox Church and was eventually stalled.An offer of another patch of land in the suburbs of Moscow was also withdrawn by the government just as construction of the temple was about to get under way.

“We have gone through a very long procedure for constructing the temple and finally the land was taken back by the government. Almost five years ago, we were promised another piece of land for the temple construction, but so far nothing has happened. The temple is currently located in a rented building in a basement,” Das said.

The Krishna temple, according to ISKCON, would not just facilitate the religious needs of the 15,000-strong population of Indians and more than 25,000 ISKCON followers living in the Russian capital but also serve as a social and cultural centre for South Asians in general.

Apart from the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government being at the helm in India, what has given a fresh lease of hope for ISKCON Moscow followers is the permission granted by the authorities in India to build the country’s first Russian Orthodox Church in the national capital New Delhi last year, following requests by the Russian embassy.

Related: Sushma off to Moscow to co-chair intergovernmental panel

Many like Das are perhaps hoping that the Indian government is able to calibrate a diplomatic swap between a church for Christ in Delhi and a temple for Krishna in Moscow.

“If the government of India has approved the construction of the (Russian) Orthodox Church in India that is very good sign of our friendship and a good gesture. I am sure that a Hindu temple in Russia by ISKCON will soon be a reality,” Das said.(IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)