Hoodwinking the Innocent in the Name of Jesus and The Holy Spirit


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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An innocent Congo boy

In the New Testament in Mark 10:13-16 we read:

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

If your heart is physically weak please do not view these videos.

The images you see in these videos are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where self-styled pastors hoodwink ignorant rural folk using the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These criminals who call themselves “pastors” resort to so-called “exorcism” of infants and children to fatten themselves by levying a high fee equal to US$50 or more to drive out the evil spirits in the innocent children. The government officials in Congo do not bother to intervene and arrest these extortionists because they receive their kickbacks under the table.

In India too, there are in every nook and corner, many crooked Christian pastors such as these, who inveigle ignorant people to their churches and fleece them in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

These felons should be stripped bare and molten lead should be poured into their blasphemous mouths for Exodus 20:7 says:

You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

 My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965). It serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rain water and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump over one-third of the garbage, almost 2,600 tonnes per day, of the ever-growing metropolis here in this climactic wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

At present the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.

Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article The mired marshby Shaju John. This article was augmented by photographs  captured by him in the post Photo file: The mired marsh.

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse.

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums frequent the garbage dump.

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Continual inhaling of the ever-present malodorous germ and virus bound air, the stifling smoke, polluted and poisoned ground water subject the people living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.

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The incredible rate of development, such as the rampant construction of sanctioned IT parks, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) campus, Hospitals, Colleges, high-rise office and residential buildings, the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland also have immensely contributed to the shrinking of the water spread.

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road.  (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

One of the flyovers constructed  in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

One of the flyovers constructed in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo - Simply CVR)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo – Simply CVR)

With policies in place to crackdown on poaching, encroachment and illegal waste disposal, there is yet hope for the Pallikaranai wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo:  M. Karunakaran)

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo: M. Karunakaran)

In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve  showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.

However, even now, dumping of garbage by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.

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“For I was hungry and you gave me food … ” (Matthew 25:35)


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The dirty old beggar was shivering, seated there on snow. A middle-aged woman walked up to him and said: “Good morning!”

The beggar leisurely looked up at the smiling woman who looked as if she had never missed a meal in her life. Her coat was new signifying that she was accustomed to the finer things in life. His first thought was that she too wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

“Are you hungry?” she asked gently.

“No,” the beggar answered sneeringly. “I just came after dining with the President … Now go away.”

The woman did not budge an inch. She continued standing there. Her smile became even broader as she bent towards him and placed her right hand gently under his arm.

“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I told you to leave me alone.”

Just then a police officer appeared from nowhere.

“Madam, that’s old Jack. Is there any problem?” the police officer inquired.

“No. No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I am just trying to get this gentleman on to his feet.”

“Will you help me?” she asked.

The officer hesitated. “What do you want with him?” he asked.

She pointed at the hotel a few yards away and said: “I want to take him there and get him out of the cold for a while and then get something for him to eat.”

“Are you out of your mind, lady?” Jack, the beggar asked as he felt the strong hands of the police officer grab his other arm and lift him up. “I will not go in there!” he yelled.

“Let me go, officer. I did not do anything,” Jack pleaded.

Eventually, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria, and seated him at a table in a remote corner.

The hotel manager saw the trio and strode across the cafeteria and stood beside their table.

“Is this beggar here to create trouble?” the manager asked asked the police officer.

“Sir, this lady brought this man in here,” the officer answered.

“No. No. No. Not in here!” the manager shouted angrily. “Admitting a beggar in a prestigious establishment like this is bad for our business.”

Toothless old Jack grinned at the woman sarcastically. “See, lady. Did not I tell you that I did not want to come here in the first place? Now can I get out of here? “

The woman turned to the restaurant manager and smiled.

“Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” she asked.

“Of course I am,” the manager answered irritatingly. “Their weekly meetings are held in one of our conference rooms.”

“And you make enough of money at these weekly meetings by renting the conference room and catering food?”

“What business is that of yours?” the manager snorted.

“I, Sir, am the president and CEO of that company. My name is Penelope Eddy.”

“Oh,” the manager gasped.

Penelope Eddy smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.”

She glanced at the police officer stifling a giggle and said, “Would you like to join us and have something to eat, officer?”

“No thanks,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee?” Penelope asked.

“Yes. That would be very nice,” replied the officer.

The manager turned on his heel. “I will get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

As they watched the manager hurrying away, the police officer said: “You certainly put him in his place.”

“That was not my intent,” she smiled. “Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

Penelope stared intently at the bemused Jack and asked him: “Sir, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so .. I mean … You do look familiar.”

“I am a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I have even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

The police officer could not believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I could not find anything. Finally, I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for hours. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile.

“Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the cash for my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be alright.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually, I started my own business. With the help of God, I prospered.”

She opened her purse and pulled out a business card and gave it to Jack.

“When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He is the personnel director of my company. I’ will talk to him now and I am certain he will find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”

Tears welled in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he asked.

“Don’t thank me,” the Penelope answered. “To God goes the glory. He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the Penelope Eddy paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today madam, something that I will never forget. And … And thank you for the coffee.”

MATTHEW 25:34-40

Then the king will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

P.S.: There are many versions of this story circulating on the Internet. This is my version adapted from some of them. The 2008 book “Reminisces of Happy Times” by Robert Wiley, is a collection of humorous and inspirational pieces, many of which are known to be fictional, compiled by the author from other sources. This story appeared under the title “The Lifestyle of a Street Man.” So, that book it is not the original source of this tale. To be frank, I do not know where this story originated and whether Ms. Penelope Eddy, and her banking firm Eddy and Associates really existed.

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United States: A Cold, Inhospitable, and Cruel Country for the Poor


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Poor-in-US-2.jpg

“Family in Need. Due Lay off. Any help Appreciated. Thank you God Bless.” (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The United States can be a cold, inhospitable, and cruel country for the poor, where mercy and compassion are not particularly evident.

Poverty continues to grow each year, and the middle class continues to shrink as unemployment stays high. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, due to rising living costs, nearly half the Americans have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. In other words, more than 146 million Americans are categorized as poor or have a low income, and this does not include those classified in the “near poverty” category. These figures follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that has hurt millions of workers and families.

Though the federal government claims that the recession is over and things are getting better, the number of layoffs last month in the United States was 30 percent higher than a year ago. What the poor in this country really need are jobs.

Mole people living under New York City

Mole people living under New York City.

Poverty has driven thousands of people out of their homes and has transformed them in to mole people, living under major U.S. cities – in abandoned subways, railroads, flood and sewage tunnels and heating shafts. They are also called “tunnel people” or “tunnel dwellers”. Mole people are found in New York City, Las Vegas and even in Kansas City, Missouri.

Besides the thousands of mole people living under the major U.S. cities, there are thousands living in tent cities, thousands that living in vehicles. It is pathetic to know that more than a million public school children do not have a home to go back to at night.

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Missing Children Bureau Is Missing


 

Pramila Krishnan By Pramila Krishnan

 Published on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 in Deccan Chronicle

Chennai: The missing children bureau, started in Tamil Nadu in 2001 under the Tamil Nadu social defence department to trace children, is missing for the last four years. The bureau’s web portal has not been updated since 2007 and there was no information about whether the 200-odd children registered on the site as missing were restored to the families or not.

Take this case: M. Kart­h­ik Kannan, age 11, height 3.5 metres; missing date: 28/12/2002. Place: Coimba­tore. Identification marks: Fair looking boy, a scar on the right elbow and protruding teeth. His photo and details were registered on the website but the site has no details about whether he was traced or not. Like him, over 10,500 children went missing in Tamil Nadu in the last five years, according to the national crime records bureau. Child rights acti­vists question the absence of the bureau.

Jebaraj of NGO JustTr­ust, which works against child trafficking, said, “Several missing children are trafficked and forced into bonded labour, sexual exploitation and begging. When the MCB itself is missing, it shows the lack of love and commitment to work for the rights of children in our state.”

Requesting anonymity, a senior officer who worked in the department said, “The bureau stopped functioning long ago. The photos of children reported by the parents with the police as missing were uploaded on the website. But no big measure was taken to reunite the children with their families.”

The officer said now the department is considering to post a nodal officer to regulate the bureau. Social defence department director N. Mathivanan told DC that the bureau was closed and a new project, ‘Track the child’, would soon be implemented.

Re-posted from Deccan Chronicle

What Do You Mean by “Handicapped”?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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The word physically handicapped or physical disability conjures in our mind a person with some impairment to the body that limits the physical function of limbs or movement or mobility.

I came across the following images on the net. Would you label these people “handicapped”?

One armed, one legged cycle rickshaw driver
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One legged labourer

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Handicpped wotker

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Pearls of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Blessed Teresa in the National Shrine, Washington DC

Statue of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.

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Anyway

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

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Deeds

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

“God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”

“Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.”

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Dreams

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”

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Forgiving

“I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: ‘You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him.’ It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand.”

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Humbleness

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

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Life

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

“A life not lived for others is not a life.”

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

“Live simply so others may simply live.”

“Spread the love of God through your life but only use words when necessary.”

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Love

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.”

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”

“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

“People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.”

“Work without love is slavery.”

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”

“Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.”

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.”

“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?’”

“God made the world for the delight of human beings– if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we’ve waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us — you just can’t resist Him. I believe there’s no such thing as luck in life, it’s God’s love, it’s His.”

“There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”

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Patience

“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually means less.”

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Poverty

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

“When you don’t have anything, then you have everything.”

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.  It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. “

“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.”

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Prayer

“Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.”

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

“If we pray, we will believe; If we believe, we will love; If we love, we will serve.”

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Religion

“There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All;
Jesus is my Everything.”

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Sharing

“You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.”

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Smile

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

“Peace begins with a smile..”

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

“The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.”

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Speaking

“Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.”

“Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don’t only give your care, but give your heart as well.”

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Words

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

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Indian Economy: National Bundh to Protest Against Increase in Fuel Prices


Today, September 20, 2012,  the opposition political parties in India have called for a National Bundh to protest against the increase in fuel prices. Almost all shops, restaurants and other commercial establishments are shut. With this backdrop, I found this cartoon quite interesting!

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Indian Villagers Stage Protest by Immersing Themselves in Water


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The water level in the Omkareshwar dam has already risen to 190.5 meters. It has affected the crops in Ghogal, Kaamankheda and 30 other villages. People use boats to cross the river as foot bridges are now submerged.

According to the members of the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’, the state government’s decision without rehabilitating people residing in low-lying villages violates the Supreme Court order, that states the villagers should be rehabilitated no less than six months before enforcing this sort of decision.

The health of the protestors is deteriorating, but the government so far has not offered any medical help. No one from the local administration has visited the protesters. The district-level authorities in their capacity have agreed to give in to some of their demands. However, these do not include their two main demands namely, reduce the water level of the dam to 189 meters, and proper implementation of the land for land compensation.

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Heavy rainfall has been reported across Madhya Pradesh over the last 24 hours. The Bhopal-Indore-Khandwa state highway is closed. The Narmada River is flowing above the danger level in Omkareshwar and Khandwa. The government has opened all the gates of the Omkareshwar dam to maintain steady water levels. This comes as a setback to 30 villages in Khandwa district that are already submerged.

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Was the Rakhine Buddhist Woman Raped or Married by a Rohingya Muslim Man?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Myanmar, formerly Burma, has a diverse ethnic and religious make-up. Now, there are at least 800,000 Rohingya Muslims in the country. However, they are not recognized as one of its ethnic group by the government. According to the United Nations, the Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. In 1982, the military junta stripped off all citizen rights of the Rohingyas through a so-called “Citizenship Law” thus making them the only stateless community of the world.

A man walks through a neighborhood that was burnt in recent violence in Sittwe, June 16, 2012.

A man walks through a neighborhood that was burnt in recent violence in Sittwe, June 16, 2012.

In late May this year, sectarian violence erupted between Buddhists and Rohingyas in the Rakhine (or Arakan) province of Western Myanmar.

We are faced with conflicting reports from all quarters.

According to “Voice of America,” the violence broke out in late May after three Muslim men were accused of raping and murdering a young Buddhist woman and 10 Muslims were killed in an apparent revenge attack.

However, according to Pakistan’s “The News,” Intikhab Alam Suri, President, Human Rights Network says that on May 28, a Buddhist girl embraced Islam and married a Muslim man. This infuriated the Buddhist community. They resorted to vengeance. They stopped a bus carrying Muslim pilgrims and killed some of them.

Which version is true?

Thein Sein, President of Myanmar

Thein Sein, President of Myanmar

No one knows for sure how many died in this ethnic violence. President Thein Sein dismissed such speculations in comments carried by the state-controlled “New Light of Myanmar.” He said he was “disheartened by the hairsplitting of the media.” He insisted that only 77 people – 31 Rakhine Buddhists and 46 Rohingya Muslims – have died. However, some rights groups and media reports suggest the figure may be higher.

The issue has prompted a wave of criticism by Muslim and non-Muslims the world over. Some view the conflict as a case of religious persecution against the Muslims. The Saudi-based Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also urged a probe into the violence.

Rights groups have also called for Burma to do more to protect the Rohingya. Human Rights Watch said in a recent report that Burmese security forces have committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against the group in the aftermath of the sectarian violence.

Who are these Rohingyas?

Some historians like Khalilur Rahman trace the history of Rohingyas way back to the 8th century CE when an Arab trading ship was wrecked near Ramree Island. The Arakanese king ordered the execution of the Arab traders and the crew.

Jahiruddin Ahmed and Nazir Ahmed, former president and Secretary of Arakan Muslim Conference dispute this story. They say that the descendants of the ship wrecked Arabs are currently known as ‘Thambu Kya‘ Muslims and are now residing along the Arakan sea-shore. According to them, Rohingyas are descendants of the inhabitants of Ruha in Afghanistan.

In 1799, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton published an article titled “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire.” In it, he states: “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan…”

After King Narameikhla (1430–1434) retained his throne with the help of the Sultan of Bengal of that time, Indian Muslims of Bengal started arriving in Rakhine.

According to another historian, Dr. Maung Maung, there is no such word as Rohingya to be found in the census survey conducted by the British in 1824. The British census of 1891 reported 58,255 Muslims in Arakan. By 1911, the Muslim population increased to 178,647.

During the British Colonial rule, a large number of Bengali farmers migrated to the fertile valleys of Arakan. The waves of migration were primarily due to the requirement of cheap labor from British India to work in the paddy fields. Immigrants from Bengal, mainly from the Chittagong region moved en masse into western townships of Arakan. Migration of Indians into Burma was not just restricted to Arakan.

A Burmese historian, Thant Myint-U writes: “At the beginning of the 20th century, Indians were arriving in Burma at the rate of no less than a quarter million per year. The numbers rose steadily. In 1927, immigration reached its peak with 480,000 people. Rangoon outweighed New York City as the greatest immigration port in the world. This was out of a total population of only 13 million; it was equivalent to the United Kingdom today taking 2 million people a year.”

By then, in most of the large cities in Burma, Rangoon, Akyab, Bassein, Moulmein, the Indian immigrants formed a majority of the population. The indigenous Burmese felt helpless under the British rule, and reacted against the Indians with a “racism that combined feelings of superiority and fear.”

The immigration’s impact was particularly acute in Arakan, one of less populated regions. In 1939, the British authorities were aware of the long-term animosity between the Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingyas. They formed a special Investigation Commission led by James Ester, and Tin Tut to study the issue of Muslim immigration in the Rakhine state. The commission recommended securing the border; however, with the onset of World War II, the British retreated from Arakan.

Burmese historians like Khin Maung Saw have claimed that before 1950s, the term Rohingya has never appeared in Burmese history. This observation coincides with that of a historian Aye Chan from Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan. He states that the term Rohingya was created in 1950s by the descendants of Bengalis, who migrated into Arakan during the Colonial Era. He further argued that the term cannot be found in any historical source in any language before 1950s. However, he stated that it did not mean Muslim communities have not existed in Arakan before 1824.

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