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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Russian Orthodox Church and was eventually stalled.An offer of another patch of land in the suburbs of Moscow was also withdrawn by the government just as construction of the temple was about to get under way.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 China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.