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It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there's no mention of Sita's abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki's Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki's Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki's Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana's pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki's version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
Keywords: Ramayana, Epic, India, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Gond Clan
By Vijithra Duangdee
BANGKOK - Thailand's boisterous youth movement is linking up with the kingdom's most enduring pro-democracy force — the "Red Shirt" protest veterans — posing the most serious threat yet from the street to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's grip on power.
But experts say as long as the former army chief retains the support of Thailand's core interest groups, the monarchy, the military and big business, he is unlikely to fall, no matter how many push for his removal from office.
Almost daily protests, spurred by the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and an unprecedented economic crunch, are swelling. By dusk parts of Bangkok are covered in choking swirls of tear gas while fires rage, set by a hard core of young protesters clashing with police.The violence, experts warn, could lead to the army coming out and a deepening of the political crisis engulfing the turbulent nation.
Tens of thousands of people joined loud, colorful convoys of "car mobs" across the country Sunday, calling on Prayuth to resign. The convoys rode through Bangkok and the "Red Shirt" rural heartlands of north and northeastern Thailand.
At the helm in the capital was Nattawut Saikuar, a former Red Shirt hero, who pulled out his old followers as leader of the new "Oust Prayuth Network" alongside thousands of young "Gen Z" protesters.
"This is a synergy between two generations fighting a common enemy," Nattawut told VOA.
The Red Shirt movement began in 2008 in outrage at an appointed government which followed a coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
A few years later, their protests were put down with a bloody army crackdown led by Prayuth.
In 2014 as army chief, Prayuth led another coup against another elected government, this time led by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister. The Reds were forced into retreat.
"These young people have taken up the baton," Nattawut added.
New political wisdom
Thailand's Gen Z, angry, articulate and armed with social media, have challenged Thailand's power pyramid like never before, calling for Prayuth to resign and a new constitution to unplug the army from politics for good and, crucially, reform of the all-powerful monarchy.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ochavoa
"Frankly, before Prayuth's coup I was just a normal school kid," a 25-year-old protester who gave her name as Pop said, as she daubed "Prayuth Get Out" on a road in spray paint.
"But as time goes by you realize politics affects us all. That's when I took to the street and joined the movement demanding this government fall."
Experts say Thailand's arch-royalist establishment sees Prayuth as an integral part of the hierarchy that has been carefully constructed to keep populist civilian leaders like the Shinawatras out, while leaving the monarchy above reproach and tycoons to dominate the economy.
"Prayuth is now not only protecting his position, but also protecting the advantages of an establishment that has benefited from the past few years," political scientist Kanokrat Lertchoosakul told VOA News.
And that means, no matter how bad things get on the street — with a coronavirus pandemic claiming scores of lives each day, low vaccination rates and the economic growth forecast to be rubbed out for the year — Prayuth is unlikely to budge.
"The elite need to keep him in power," prominent historian Nidhi Eoseewong said during Sunday's car mob.
"Prayuth knows all too well that it's not up to him to step down or not, it's up to the powers behind him who will decide."
Undeterred, the young protesters have gone after him for more than a year.They are also filling up rooms on the Clubhouse app, for chats hosted by the 72-year-old Thaksin from his self-exile abroad, even though most are too young to remember the enigmatic billionaire.
His youth appeal has raised prospects of a remarkable comeback of sorts, especially as the economy sinks further and the government runs out of cash and ideas.
But unlike the loyalties of the past, "Gen Z" has a "new political wisdom," warns Kanokrat, explaining they will not back leaders who play old power games at the expense of their demands.
"If we don't listen and turn them into a very high potential human resource for the future, we are turning them into the state enemy," Kanokrat said. (VOA/RN)
The pristine Hindu Samaj Dev Temple in Thailand is emerging as an anti-Covid hub, mobilizing support to help India defeat the second wave of coronavirus, which is ravaging large parts of the country. The Bangkok-based Hindu temple, nearly 100 years old now, is rallying Indians to rush oxygen supplies to the country of their origin. The temple is coordinating with the Indian embassy as well as the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) in channeling oxygen equipment to India.
On May 1, the members of the temple raised enough funds to send 15 (ten liters) concentrators along with 500 oxygen masks. For the delivery, temple members sought the assistance of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). The equipment has been sent to the Indian Red Cross Society.
The temple has once again mobilized devotees to send another batch of aid through the RTAF tomorrow. In an exclusive email interview with India Narrative, Sudeep Sehgal, honorary secretary of the temple said: “After the first successful delivery, we are in the process of acquiring more concentrators and will continue our support to India during this difficult time. There is a flight leaving for India on 5th May with a further 10 (ten liters) machines donated by the Hindu Samaj along with donations from various other Indian organizations in Thailand.”
Interestingly, the Hindu Samaj Dev Mandir was founded by Pandit Raghunath Sharma, who was born in Sialkot and educated in Lahore – both of which are now in Pakistan. He arrived in Bangkok and began organizing the Hindu community. The temple is part of those efforts. Now the temple serves the Indian community through religious and educational means. Over a period of time, it has become a center for the Indian community to gather and network. The diaspora remains in touch with the happenings in India.
As Sehgal says: “On seeing the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic in India, the members of our organization felt an urgent need to help in any way it could on humanitarian grounds. Being in touch with relatives and friends of the community we learned of the short supply of Oxygen concentrators and Oxygen tanks… which prompted our members to raise funds for this cause.”
The Indian community was also spurred into action after Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan o Cha offered to help India with medical assistance. Thailand too has provided a fairly large Indian community in Thailand, the two nations maintain close historical and cultural relations. Last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed collaborating with each other on the global coronavirus pandemic. The two Prime Ministers had met in Thailand during the ASEAN 2019 summit. (IANS/JC)
Despite the cheapest data plans and nearly 700 million internet users, India is at a dismal 49th spot globally when it comes to internet inclusion and gender equality in accessing the world wide web, a Facebook-Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study has revealed.
India is tied with Thailand in 49th place this year on the scores of internet availability (77th position globally), affordability (20th spot), relevance (49th position), and readiness (29th) categories.
“India’s glaring underperformance in the availability pillar is, in large part, the reason for its placement, and this weak performance is owed to low internet usage and quality and widening gender gap in mobile phone and internet access in the country,” the Facebook said in the ‘Inclusive Internet Index’ report.
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India is set to reach one billion internet users by 2025. There were over 687.6 million internet users in India in 2020.
The Facebook ‘Inclusive Internet Index’ looked at 120 countries, representing 98 percent of global GDP and 96 percent of the global population.
Nearly 70 percent of people around the world believed that their increased internet usage in all aspects of life signified a “new normal” that will continue indefinitely in the future.
“Only 3 percent said that no aspect of their lives had seen a dramatic shift online. Unable to meet in person, those under the most stringent lockdowns relied on the internet for nearly every conceivable activity, including forging human connections,” the study showed.
The majority of countries (77 out of 120) saw improvements in internet inclusion overall, in part because of increased availability.
“However, the gap in availability is closing at an unacceptably slow rate, and other challenges are moving to the forefront, such as how many people are actually using the internet when it is available,” the Facebook-EIU study said.
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People in low-income and lower-middle-income countries relied on online education during the pandemic more than those in wealthier countries and predicted that they will continue to use online channels for education even after the pandemic has subsided.
“Yet schoolchildren in low- and lower-middle-income countries lost nearly 16 weeks of schooling by October 2020 due to the pandemic and significantly lower internet access and adoption, compared with only six weeks of loss in high-income countries,” the report lamented. (IANS/KB)