The Hindustan Times – Religious freedom continued ‘downward trend’ in India in 2017: Report

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom said conditions for religious minorities in India have deteriorated over the last decade. It categorised India in countries of concern, along with Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia and Turkey.

Washington DC – USA, 27 April 2018. Religious freedom conditions continued a “downward trend” in India last year as Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “saffronise” it through violence, intimidation, and harassment of non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits, a US federal government appointed commission has alleged.

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest report has placed India in the Tier 2 countries of particular concern along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhastan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

“Conditions for religious minorities have deteriorated over the last decade due to a multifaceted campaign by Hindu-nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus,” the USCIRF said.

The victims of this campaign include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as Dalit Hindus, who belong to the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system, the USCIRF said in its latest annual report on international religious freedom.

“These groups face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, to increasing feelings of disenfranchisement and otherness,” it said.

“In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India.”

“India’s history as a multicultural and multireligious society remained threatened by an increasingly exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion. During the year, Hindu-nationalist groups sought to ‘saffronise’ India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits,” it said.

Approximately one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing, it said.

“Cow protection” lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims in 2017. Forced conversions of non-Hindus to Hinduism through “homecoming” ceremonies (ghar wapsi) were reported, and rules on the registration of foreign-funded NGOs were used discriminatorily against religious minority groups, the report said.

At the same time, the report said that despite an overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2017, there were positive developments.

“Some government entities have made efforts to counter increasing intolerance in the country,” the USCIRF said.

The active and independent judiciary, exemplified by India’s Supreme Court, decided several cases during the year that protect the rights of religious minorities, it said.

In its report, the USCIRF has urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral discussions with India, including the framework of future Strategic Dialogues, at both the federal and state levels.

It also urged the US government to press the Indian government to allow the USCIRF to visit the country and to invite the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit India. – Gobind Singh Longowal encourages SGPC members to follow Sikhi tenets, foster Sikhi values in others

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 26 April 2018. In a new direction issued on April 25, the SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal has made it mandatory that anyone serving in SGPC run institutes should properly live his or her life as per Sikh tenets.

He made this direction in a meeting of Principals of SGPC run institutes and religious teachers held at SGPC’s headquarters in Amritsar Sahib.

Longowal has also directed the Principals of SGPC run institutes to make efforts to encourage students towards the Sikh religion.

He announced that three principals of SGPC run institutes will be rewarded with cash reward of Rupees 51,000/-, 31,000/- and 21,000/- every year on Vaisakhi who will make sincere contribution to encourage students towards the Sikh religion.

SGPC president Dr Roop Singh directed the school principals on this occasion to ensure proper imposition of Sikh code of conduct in those schools where corpus of Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been installed.

SGPC Secretaries Manjit Singh Bath and Avtar Singh Sainpla, Additional Secretary Balwinder Singh Jaura Singha and Dr Jatinder Singh Sidhu (Director of Education, SGPC) also expressed their views in this meeting.

Gent: Dampoort – Zwijndrecht NMBS and Statiestraat

Dampoort NMBS
28 February 2018

Kasteellaan seen from the station

Dampoort NMBS – Diesel unit to Eeklo

Zwijndrecht NMBS and Statiestraat
28 February 2018

All station EMU to Antwerpen

Zwijndrecht NMBS


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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

MO Mondiaal Nieuws – Europa verbiedt bijendodende pesticiden

Brussel – Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest – Belgium, 27 april 2018. Neonicotinoïden, de meest gebruikte insecticiden ter wereld, zullen nog dit jaar verboden worden op de Europese akkers. Dat heeft Europa beslist om de teloorgang van bijenpopulaties te stoppen.

Een meerderheid van zestien Europese lidstaten (België onthield zich) stemde in met het voorstel van de commissie om drie veelgebruikte neonicotinoïden te verbieden in de buitenlucht. Enkel in gesloten serres mogen de chemicaliën nog gebruikt worden. Het gaat om imidacloprid, clothianidine en thiamethoxam.

‘De commissie heeft deze maatregelen maanden geleden voorgesteld op basis van wetenschappelijke advies van het Europees Agentschap voor Voedselveiligheid’, zegt Europees Commissaris voor Gezondheid en Voedselveiligheid Vytenis Andriukaitis.

‘De gezondheid van bijenpopulaties is van het hoogste belang omdat ze een impact heeft op de biodiversiteit, voedselproductie en het milieu.’


Milieuorganisaties spreken van een historische beslissing. ‘De stoffen een kwarteeuw lang toelaten was een fout die tot een ecologische ramp heeft geleid’, zegt Martin Dermine, van het Pesticide Action Network. ‘De stemming van vandaag is historisch.

Een meerderheid van de lidstaten gaf een duidelijk signaal dat onze landbouw nood heeft aan een transitie. Bijendodende insecticiden gebruiken kan niet meer toegelaten worden, en enkel duurzame landbouwpraktijken zouden nog gebruikt mogen worden om ons voedsel te produceren.’

‘Dit is fantastisch nieuws voor onze bestuivers en ons milieu’, zegt ook Franziska Achterberg van Greenpeace. ‘Nu moet de EU ervoor zorgen dat ze niet gewoon verwisseld worden voor andere schadelijke chemicaliën. De drie verboden stoffen vormen immers maar de top van de ijsberg: er bestaan nog veel andere pesticiden, waaronder andere varianten van neonicotinoïden, die even gevaarlijk zijn voor de voedselproductie.’


Bijen en andere insecten zijn essentieel voor de voedselproductie omdat ze zo’n driekwart van alle voedingsgewassen bestuiven. Maar de populaties van bestuivers krimpen jaar na jaar, onder meer door het grootschalige gebruik van neonicotinoïden. In 2013 werd het gebruik van de stoffen daarom al verboden op bloeiende gewassen zoals koolzaad.

Maar twee maanden geleden oordeelde de Europese voedselwaakhond EFSA dat drie veelgebruikte neonicotinoïden nog steeds een gevaar vormen voor bijen, omdat de stoffen de grond en het water vervuilen, en zo ook in wilde planten terechtkomen. Eind vorig jaar bleek uit een Zwitserse studie nog dat driekwart van de honing sporen van de stoffen bevat.

The Hindu – Farmers must be given options to check stubble burning

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 April 2018. State needs to break out of its paddy-wheat crop cycle, says Punjab Governor

Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore on Friday said it was important that farmers were given the option to adopt alternative practices to ensure proper disposal of paddy residue instead of resorting to stubble burning.

Expressing concern over the environmental hazards caused by the practice, Mr. Badnore said stubble burning was not only damaging the health of people but was also causing loss of organic components in soil.

“There is a need to promote horticulture, cultivation of fruits and mushrooms in a big way to break the usual paddy-wheat crop cycle in Punjab,” he said at a workshop here on stakeholders’ initiative to address crop residue burning in the State.

Mr Badnore called for formulating a comprehensive strategy, including generating mass awareness among farmers, and providing available technologies at affordable prices.

“I appreciate the progressive approach of the Punjab farmers and their in-depth knowledge about the latest farming techniques. Incentives must be given to farmers who have already adopted other alternatives and are not burning straw,” he said.

Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister, said the government will constitute a State-level advisory group to formulate some immediate action plan to check stubble burning in the State.

“I urge experts to work towards reducing the silica content in straw and making it fit for animal consumption. States like Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, where there is a shortage of animal fodder, could be given the fodder at lower prices,” he added.