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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Could Jesus Have Sinned? - Faithwise Review of the Week

  • Could Jesus Have Sinned? Ronald W. Di Giacomo @ Reformed Apologist September 09, 2006
  • Sharks eat up God’s land, Hyderabad, Sept. 9, Deccan Chronicle on the web
    Gods too are under threat from predatory land sharks, if one goes by the encroachment of temple lands in the State. It seems land grabbers are not afraid of divine wrath. Be it the fiery Varaha Laxmi Narasimhaswamy of Simhachalam or the serene Lord Ram in Bhadrachalam, all deities and their dwellings are fair game for them.

    Of the 4,20,028 acres of temple lands owned by the endowments department in Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Guntur, Kurnool, Warangal and Hyderabad, 60,843.47 acres are under illegal occupation and 24,349.66 acres are caught in litigations of various kinds. Major temples whose lands are under encroachment include Jagannadhaswamy Balaji Mutt in Ramayapatnam (54 acres), Dharmatopu temple in Tangutur (5.17 acres), Sri Ramalingeswaraswamy temple of Chimakurthy (2.05 acres), and Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple in Peddadornala (13.41 acres).

    Apart from this, lands belonging to Nageswaraswamy temple in Tangutur, Sri Madana Gopalaswamy temple in Chirala and Sri Lakshmi Chennakeshavaswamy temple in Markapuram have also been encroached upon. Agriculture lands constitute 3,49,359 acres of the total endowments lands, while forest lands amount to 27,213 acres. Encroachment of endowment lands is highest in Warangal with 19,228.12 acres followed by Visakhapatnam with 14, 858.77 acres and Hyderabad with 12,122.85 acres.

    Not all encroachers are professional land grabbers. Some are poor Dalits who have built dwellings in these lands. But the majority consists of “invisible” bigwigs with political clout. The government has initiated action against several encroachers and has succeeded in removing them from endowment lands. But several have pre-empted the government by moving court. “We are trying our best to check encroachments in temple lands,” said endowments commissioner Dinesh Kumar. “But the properties are huge and staff strength is low.”

    The government also tried to regularise some of the lands, but the High Court recently put a stop to it and asked it to dispose of its lands through public auction if necessary. “But the fact remains that auction can be conducted only if the lands are free from encroachments,” pointed an endowments official. In East Godavari, about 6.37 acres of wet land and 585.17 acres of dry land owned by the endowments department is under unauthorised occupation or caught in legal disputes.

    Thanks to an HC stay on acquisition of endowments land, the Indiramma housing scheme for the poor has also come to a halt here. Meanwhile, endowments officials in Khammam are fighting a bitter battle to recover 1,835 acres of encroached lands including 906 acres belonging to the Sita Ramachandraswamy Temple at Bhadrachalam. Mr V.S.C.V. Subba Rao, assistant commissioner of endowments in Ongole, said that 135. 46 acres owned by the department was under illegal occupation. “We have filed cases against some encroachers,” he said.

    The scene is no better in Nellore. About 16.05 acres of wet land, 40.11 acres of dry land and 48.61 acres of non-agriculture land have been illegally occupied. Here, it is Dalits who are occupying most of the lands with the support of Left parties while lands in urban areas have been occupied by others including a former Telugu Desam councillor. In all, 928.23 acres belonging to Sri Kodandaramaswamy temple of Buchireddypalem has been under encroachment for decades.

    In Gudur, officials are unable to take action on a farming society which has failed to pay the lease for 60 acres of land belonging Sri Kodandaramanjaneya temple because of political pressure. Similar is the case with 8.55 acres of prime land adjacent to historic Sri Chengalaparameswari temple. The land belonging to Kasi Visweshwaraswamy temple in Vatembedu was also encroached upon by local people with the support of political leaders.

    Officials are unable to take any action both in Gudur and Sullurpet as they are not even allowed to take measurements of the land by the encroachers. In Vishakapatnam, of the 11,000 odd acres of Simhachalam estate, 4,000 acres are under encroachment. In Nizamabad, land sharks have swallowed 3,514 acres.
    Recently, there was a huge controversy over relatives of panchayat raj minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy allegedly buying up lands belonging to the Sri Swamy Hatiramji Mutt. The minister denied that he had anything to do with it.

  • Shabana Azmi chosen for Gandhi Peace Award, The Hindu
    Mumbai, Sept. 9 (PTI): Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi has been named the recipient of this year's Gandhi Peace Award, which will be given to her at a ceremony to be held in the British Parliament next month.

  • Idols emit water, 'miracle' draws devotees, THE TIMES OF INDIA, 9 Sep, 2006
  • Muslims, Sikhs in US most affected post-9/11: study, September 12 2006,
    The study 'We are Americans Too: A Comparative Study of the Effects of 9/11 on South Asian Communities' was released Monday by the Discrimination and National Security Initiative (DNSI), an affiliate of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

    The Interfaith Unity Newsletter, September 1, 2006, September 1, 2006
    Published In Toronto, Canada
    From: Executive Committee, OMC, August 2, 2006, 416-422-1490
    “This past May, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) determined that due to a re-alignment of funding priorities, the government could no longer support the OMC’s Re-Integration Project. The MCSS instructed the OMC to wind down this program by September 24, 2006.
    The loss of this program has necessitated the re-structuring of the OMC, as well as the examination and re-visioning of the OMC’s core programs. There is no question that the termination of Re-integration funding has had and will have a huge impact on the ongoing operation of OMC. The Osborne Group has been contracted, as consultants, to provide recommendations and counsel to the Board of Directors and to assist with restructuring.

    On August 1 the Board of Directors of the OMC met to discuss the implications of the re-structuring. Due to the significant changes anticipated within the re-structuring, the OMC sadly announces that working notice was given to all affected staff of the OMC on August 2 2006, (except for the Regional Mangers) and that the OMC will engage in a thorough and complete review of all programs over the next two months.
    The Board recognizes that this continues to be a difficult time for everyone at the Council. The Board is grateful for each person’s dedication to the OMC as it goes through this difficult period of transition.
    The Board wishes to stress that this period of re-structuring is the result of external factors which do not reflect upon the professionalism and competency of OMC staff. Liz Chappel and her staff have demonstrated ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of the Council and the Council regrets the anticipated loss of experience and wisdom as a result of the re-structuring.

    Over the next two months, a transitional team of executive and Council members will work with the Osborne Group and the MCSS implementing a process of organizational change which will ensure that the important work of the Council continues. As this work unfolds, the executive asks for the prayerful support of all its faith representatives and communities.”

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