Times of India

Washington Post hints at big changes afoot for Tibetan Buddhism. Is there a local story in that?

Washington Post hints at big changes afoot for Tibetan Buddhism. Is there a local story in that?

Tibet ceased to be an independent nation nearly six decades ago. Moreover, the likelihood is that Tibet — birthplace of the Dalai Lama and home to a unique and dramatic form of Buddhist practice — will remain under Chinese domination for the foreseeable future.

In short, the Dalai Lama’s immense international popularity (primarily in Western democracies) and the good deal of advocacy on behalf of Tibet by Western supporters over the decades has, politically speaking, achieved virtually nothing.

Why’s that? Because China’s massive economic and military power trumps, on the international stage, any sympathy for Tibet in Western capitals.

If that’s not enough, there’s now a new -- and surprising -- threat to Tibetan nationalism. The Washington Post wrote about it last month.

That threat is Indian citizenship.

India, home to some 122,000 Tibetan exiles, earlier this year decided to grant many of them Indian citizenship. Until now officially stateless, the Tibetans who accept Indian citizenship will gain a slew of government perks withheld from non-citizens. That includes an Indian passport, allowing them to leave India and travel the world with far greater ease than previously.

That raises at least three questions. One’s political, one’s religious and one’s journalistic. As usual, the three are interrelated. To begin:

* What does accepting Indian citizenship mean for the Tibetan national movement?

* What impact will this have on Tibetan Buddhism?

* Three, why did the Post story not address question two -- given how central Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism is to Tibetan cultural and political identity?

Yes, we're talking about the possibility of a slow but eventual assimilation into Indian cultural identity.

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Hindu Nationalism, Indian Christian persecution and the global rise in right-wing populism

Hindu Nationalism, Indian Christian persecution and the global rise in right-wing populism

Right-wing populism is the global political backlash du jour. Cultural, religious and ethnic competition are the prime causes. They, in turn, are directly traceable to the swift and societal-altering changes flowing from economic and demographic globalization.

India -- home to the world's second-largest population, more than 1.25 billion people, just short of 80 percent of them Hindu -- certainly has not escaped this trend.

At play in India is a slow decline in the Hindu population growth at a time when the Muslim population of about 14 percent is growing. That's a scary proposition for Indian Hindus, who have been in conflict with their Pakistani Muslim neighbors since the 1947 partition.

That, plus a Hindu nationalist backlash against India's increasing secularization and an overall Western cultural tilt, also thanks to globalization, have produced the right-wing backlash that's comparable to what we are also seeing in a host of nations -- from the Philippines, across Europe, to our own United States.

Read this Times of India analysis that explains the connection between Indian right-wing populism and what's happening elsewhere.

Indian Christians -- who for Hindu nationalists become conflated with Western inroads into traditional Indian Hindu culture -- are caught up in the larger Indian Hindu-Muslim competition, even though they account for only about 2.3 percent of the population.

I've written about all this before, including one of my earliest GetReligion posts that focused on Hindu criticism of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, perhaps still better-known as Mother Teresa.

So why rehash the above info?

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Parliament of World Religions attracts non-critical coverage in Salt Lake City

Parliament of World Religions attracts non-critical coverage in Salt Lake City

In 1993, I took the train to Chicago to experience the World Parliament of Religions, a huge event drawing up to 10,000 people from about 50 flavors of religion. 

As I strolled through the lobby of the host hotel, I was overwhelmed by the welter of humanity dressed in all manner of religious garb -- saffron-robed monks, nuns in all manner of habits, Sikhs in their turbans, a truckload of women in saris following who-knows-what faith, not to mention people wearing every conceivable color of clerical shirt, imams, dervishes, priests, pastors, Wiccans, priestesses, witches, serpent handlers and more that I'm sure that I’ve forgotten.

The Parliament has met in several international venues since 1993, but this year returned to the United States and is meeting this week in Salt Lake City, home base for a certain prominent religious group. As Religion News Service reported in a story picked up by the Salt Lake Tribune:

When the World's Parliament of Religions first met in Chicago in 1893, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even Spiritualists prayed together.
But Mormons were kept out.
What a difference 122 years makes. On Thursday, when the Parliament of the World's Religions -- a slight adjustment of the name was made a century after the first meeting -- convenes in Salt Lake City, it will not only feature a slate of Mormon voices, but will sit in the proverbial lap of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose global headquarters is only a five-minute walk away.

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Church bombings in Pakistan: Mainstream media provide powerful coverage

Church bombings in Pakistan: Mainstream media provide powerful coverage

Mainstream media have often been accused of caring more about the persecution of other religions than Christianity. But with the horrendous suicide bombings of two churches in Pakistan yesterday, they focused a welcome spotlight.

One of the punchiest ledes is in one of the earlier reports -- by the Wall Street Journal, filing just before 6 a.m. eastern time yesterday:

ISLAMABAD—Twin suicide bombings at two churches in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore killed at least 13 people, including two policemen, and wounded more than 65 people on Sunday, police officials said.  
The back-to-back blasts shook the majority Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad as churches in the area held prayer services, police officials said. Emergency-services officials said several of the wounded are in critical condition and the death toll is expected to rise.

The Journal, unfortunately, was right: Most reports through the day placed the deaths at 14, with 70-80 injured.

Special kudos go to the Times of India for its detail-rich coverage. The newspaper did such street-level reporting as:

The first suicide bomber detonated his strapped-explosives outside the main gate of St John's Catholic Church after the security guard prevented him from entering the church where Christian families had gathered for Sunday service, a senior police officer. The second blast occurred minutes later in the compound of Christ Church.

The article then tells of the Christian protests who turned violent, including the attacks on two men suspected of taking part in the church attacks:

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Persecution in India: It matters only if it's about Muslims

Nice to know the New York Times cares so much about religious freedom in India — at least for Muslims. “For Nation’s Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party’s Victory,” warns a headline in an 1,100-plus-word story on that nation’s elections Friday. And the newspaper wastes no time in sympathizing, with these as the third and fourth paragraphs:

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, after a landslide electoral triumph Friday by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists, some Muslims here said they were worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous.

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No sex please, we're Indian

Pre-marital sex is “immoral” and against the “tenets of every religion”, a Delhi court has said while holding that every act of sexual intercourse between two adults on the promise of marriage does not become rape. Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat also held that a woman, especially grown up, educated and office-going, who has sexual intercourse on the assurance of marriage does so “at her own peril”. According to The Times of India, Judge Bhat, who presides over a court set up last year in response to the nationally publicized gang rape and murder wrote:

When a grown up woman subjects herself to sexual intercourse with a friend or colleague on the latter’s promise that he would marry her, she does so at her own peril. She must be taken to understand the consequences of her act and must know that there is no guarantee that the boy would fulfil his promise. He may or may not do so. She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenets of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex.

The BBC picked up this story as well. It added this explanation for Western audiences in its story “Indian judge says pre-marital sex ‘against religion’”:

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