Sikhs in Pakistan forced to pay Jizia

Heading back to the days of Mohammad Gazani, Ghori and Aurangzeb?

Sikhs pay Rs 20m as ‘tax’ to Taliban


Islamabad: Members of Pakistan’s Sikh community living in the Aurakzai tribal region have paid Rs 20 million as “tax” to the Taliban after militants forcibly occupied some of their homes and kidnapped a Sikh leader.

The Taliban had demanded Rs 50 million as ‘jizia’ — a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule — but the militants finally settled for Rs 20 million.

After the amount was paid, the militants vacated the homes they had taken over and released Sikh leader Saiwang Singh, officials in the tribal region were quoted by a newspaper. The officials said the Taliban had announced that the Sikhs were now free to live anywhere in Aurzakzai Agency.

The militants also announced they would protect the community, saying that no one would harm them after they had paid jizia. Sikhs who had left the area would now return to their homes and resume their business, the officials said.

The militants had occupied at least 10 homes of Sikhs in Qasimkhel village on Tuesday. About 35 Sikh families have been living in Qasimkhel for many years.

The Taliban demand for jizia was resolved at a jirga or council held on Wednesday through the efforts of local tribal elders. The militants had said the Sikhs should pay jizia in accordance with Sharia or Islamic law.
PTI

Featured Image — http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Hindus-and-Sikhs-threatened-by-the-Taliban-and-Sharia-15903.html

Under trials : Stuck in prison, despite getting bail

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A matter of great shame. Judicial processes are teriibly slow and convoluted. It benefits the criminal wonderfully.  Innocents especially the poor are always at the receiving end.

Over 40 undertrials stuck in prison, despite getting bail

They Can’t Walk Free As They Have None

To Stand Surety For Them

A Subramani | TNN

Chennai: That any arrested person is entitled to walk out of jail once he obtains bail and furnishes surety to the satisfaction of a magistrate, is common knowledge.

But do you know that more than 40 persons are languishing at Puzhal Central Prison-II though they have got bail but are unable to find persons to stand surety for them? Also, do you know that one such less-privileged prisoner — P Muthu of Kumananchavadi near Poonamallee — died of cancer after remaining in prison for nearly three years?

While Muthu and at least 43 others remained behind bars because they had no one to stand surety for them, 91 others are in Puzhal-II for more than a year as the police concerned had not filed a chargesheet as yet.

“Most of them are petty offenders, and are ready to plead guilty. Even if convicted, they would be sentenced only for a few months. But, unless the police file a chargesheet, the magistrate cannot dispose of the matter,” said a prison official. “Delaying chargesheet is a way of delaying their release,” he added.

Puzhal Prison-II has 116 inmates who are in jail for more than 90 days but less than one year. There are 43 others who are staying in jail between 60 days and 90 days. “In regular crimes, if the police fail to lay chargesheet in 60 days, the accused could avail the statutory bail benefit and walk out of jail,” said special public prosecutor for human rights cases, V Kannadasan.

The Puzhal-II is home to about a dozen inmates facing charges under Section 75 (public nuisance) of City Police Act and Section 7(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. They are inside for periods ranging 3-4 months, in spite of the fact that if convicted they would be sentenced to serve only a couple of weeks in jail.

“Personal liberty is the most sacred of all fundamental rights,” said Kannadasan, adding, “prison authorities cannot be blamed for this sorry state of affairs.” He said that the data itself was being compiled only as per the directions of the director-general of police (prisons) R Natraj, to be sent to the legal services authority for redressal.

Even in the case of Muthu, the prison authorities took note of his poor health condition and forwarded his request to be sent out on own bond to the jurisdictional court. As there was no response either from the court or from legal aid authorities, he was admitted in the Government Royapettah Hospital in February 2009. Till his death on April 9, he did not get any help, lament prison staff.

He was arrested by the Poonamallee police on charges of preparing to commit robbery (crime no. 735/2006) in 2006, ahead of the assembly elections. “His three-year incarceration was meaningful in one sense. It exposed the insensitivity of the judiciary and ineffectiveness of the legal aid system,” said Kannadasan.

Featured Image source — https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/undertrials-languishing-in-jail-despite-being-granted-bail/article23403807.ece

Easter: Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Christa Purana still moves faithful to tears

Ashley D’Mello | TNN


Mumbai: Avelino Rejoice Dhakul, 81, never fails to bring tears to people’s eyes when he renders the Passion of Christ from the Christa Purana, describing scenes from the crucifixion at the Good Friday service at St Francis Xavier Church, Vile Parle.

Dhakul, who has been singing solo for the last 25 years, is keen that others should step up to carry on the torch, but he says sadly, “I have no luck so far.’’

Singing of verses from the Christa Purana, which is written in the old Marathi script, is a looked-forward to ritual during the season of Lent in some of the old churches of suburban Mumbai, although the last three decades have seen a slow fading of this tradition.
Lent, commemorates 40 days of fasting and abstinence, before the death of Christ on Good Friday. The singing involves a mournful incantation of the verses, which detail the life and death of Christ. This is done during the Passu ceremony when the body of Christ is lowered from the cross for veneration by the congregation.

The Christa Purana is part of the religious and cultural tradition of Catholics in Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore. Written by an English Jesuit missionary, Thomas Stevens, who studied at Oxford and settled in Goa in the 17th century, the writing follows the Hindu puranic style and is regarded as an epic.

Dhakul states that most youngsters do not want to learn to sing the verses in the Purana. “The singing on Good Friday can sometimes last almost two hours, and most youngsters stay away from such a task,’’ he says. “The interest in singing in Marathi is also not strong any more. Youngsters prefer to sing hymns in English.’’

But for the D’Mello brothers at St Andrew Church in Bandra, Conrad (39) and Anselm (36), who sing, the experience is different. “The tradition of singing the Purana is still strong in our family but it has slowed down in Bandra over the last decades,’’ says Conrad. “We have the puran tradition since my great-grandfather’s time and probably even before that, we sang the puran verses regularly at home when we were growing up in Bandra.’’

Even among the Catholics of Vasai who speak and write in Marathi, the tradition is fading. Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai explains why.

“The Purana is no longer popular in Vasai because it is written in old Marathi, which is sometimes difficult to understand. The churches now use modern hymns,’’ he says.
Efforts to revive the epic are under way. Fr Simon Borges of Kurla has helped produce a CD of songs from the puran. The issue has also been taken up by Major Leon Fonseca, executive committee member of the East Indian Association. “We are discussing ways and means of preserving this centuries-old tradition. It should not be allowed to die,’’ he says.

Pune bishop
The bishop of Vasai, Thomas Dabre, has been appointed bishop of Pune by the Vatican. A Marathi scholar and a well-known Catholic theologian, Bishop Dabre is an authority on Indian mysticism and Sant Tukaram. One of his main thrusts has been interreligious dialogue and communal harmony.

Featured image Source: http://www.kamat.com/database/illustration/cover_of_christa_purana.htm

The Brave Ones:Ummul Khair

Fighting palsy, she learns

the alphabet at 21, graduates at 30

Karthika Gopalakrishnan | TNN 

Chennai: Ummul Khair has made the journey of a lifetime in the last 10 years. Her body is affected by cerebral palsy but it is her mind that the sociology graduate has always relied upon to take her forward — from learning the alphabet at the age of 21 to completing her college education almost a decade later.

“I was at Vidya Sagar when I was five years old but I could not go to school once my family moved to Bangalore. I was at home for nearly 12 years. I watched my cousins study and wanted to be independent as well. I did not want charity,” she said after receiving her degree certificate at the 14th graduation ceremony of MOP Vaishnav College for Women on Sunday.

During a family visit to Chennai, Ummul got in touch with Vidya Sagar founder Poonam Natarajan and that helped her on her way.


“We had looked after her all along and were scared about letting her stay alone.

But Poonam akka convinced us that Ummul could study. We had only thought about making her walk, never about making her study. Today, we are extremely proud of her. When we cry, she gives us courage saying she will study and do well,” said her mother, 65-year-old Umaira Batul, with tears in her eyes.

The family currently resides in Bangalore’s Shivaji Nagar. Umaira’s husband Mohammad Azham Khan (85) used to sew plastic baby sheets with pillows, diapers and clothes for infants. Ummul’s younger brother works at a hotel.

Since she had never enrolled in school, Ummul learnt the alphabet when she was 21 and took three years to clear the class X board exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling. After completing her class XII on a sponsorship at Lady Andal Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chetpet, she enrolled for a degree in Sociology at MOP Vaishnav College for Women.

“I am lucky to have got the opportunity to study. In all aspects, it has helped me learn. The teachers and students were always supportive. ‘Sari Day’ was one of the most memorable occasions as my classmates even helped me wear a sari. It was a lot of fun,” Ummul recounted.

Along with her internships in college — counselling alcoholics and working with a human rights organisation — her world view was further moulded after a trip to the US in June last year as part of the Global Leadership Programme.

“I participated in everything, even adventure sports where we were suspended 40 feet in the air. There is a lot of accessibility for disabled individuals in the US. I was able to go anywhere I wanted,” she said.

After returning to the city, Ummul went on to finish her course and is now pursuing a course in law at the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law College. Hoping to be able to fight for the rights of the disabled in a few years, Ummul was not at all taken aback by the standing ovation she received during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

The dignitaries on stage rose from their chairs and the students cheered. Unfazed by it all, Ummul exuded confidence. She knew she deserved it.

THE HONOURS: Ummul Khair receives her degree certificate from BS Raghavan, former chief secretary of Tripura. (Below) Students of MOP Vaishnav College For Women take the oath during the convocation at Kamrajar Arangam on Sunday

Religion and politics do not make as lethal a mix as Politics and violence

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Gaffar Khan, Suu Kyi, The Dalai Lama were /are  staunch believers in their religion and examples of politics based on compassion and humane values.

Then there are ‘Secularists”, Stalin, Mao, Jinnah, The US administration with their blend of secularism and politics.

Ed

extracts from TOI

Secularists aren’t saints

Madhu Purnima Kishwar

Congress leaders are understandably the most vociferous in displaying righteous outrage at the unfortunate speech delivered by Varun Gandhi, just as they spare no occasion to castigate Narendra Modi for the Gujarat riots of 2002.

However, their words would have more credibility if they expressed comparable shame at the fact that their party led the way in showing that riots and massacres can be used as means to manipulate vote banks.

Apart from the infamous massacre of Sikhs in 1984, the 1970s and 1980s witnessed a series of communal riots presided over by the Congress party in places like Meerut, Malliana, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Bhiwandi, Bhagalpur, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

The arrest of Congress leader Meghsingh Chaudhary at the instance of the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigative Team for his active participation in the Gulbarga Society massacre in Ahmedabad in 2002 confirms what knowledgeable people in Gujarat have for long alleged — that many Congressmen enthusiastically joined hands with members of the sangh parivar in the anti-Muslim riots of 2002.

Without doubt, serious problems do arise when politicians decide to use select religious symbols and manipulate religious sentiments of people in order to acquire power. However, history is witness to the fact that religion and politics do not make as lethal a mix as do politics and violence.

We would do well to remember that many of the highly venerated political figures of the 20th century have been those who brought the best values of their faith traditions to uplift politics to new moral heights. By contrast, many of those who claimed to be secular and, therefore, treated matters of faith with disdain, caused massive genocides and human suffering.

The US is secular but that has not prevented it from polarising global politics on religious lines.

Stalin did not use a religious justification while carrying out his genocide of the Soviet Union’s peasantry. He did so in the garb of a secular cause, namely, “collectivisation of land” and the uprooting of those he called “kulaks”. Nor did he confine his waves of assassinations and purges to those with religious beliefs. He claimed that he killed people in the name of building a secular and socialist republic.

Jinnah was not religious minded. He too merely used certain religious symbols and Islamic slogans to mobilise Muslims against the Hindus as a political force.

Jinnah’s aim was secular in so far as he acquired political power for himself. Though claiming to defend the political and economic interests of Muslims of the subcontinent, he left behind many more millions of Muslims in India as a mistrusted minority than could be accommodated within the absurd geographical borders of the new ‘Islamic’ state he created for them.

By contrast, Mahatma Gandhi’s politics and world view were rooted in Hindu Sanatan Dharma. Gandhi chose truth and nonviolence as his guiding principles, not any ideology or “ism”. He drew some of his inspiration from the bhakti-Sufi traditions rather than the ideology of modern-day secularism, as defined by the West. That did not prevent him from being a historic global role model of ethical politics.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan derived strength from his unshakeable faith in Islam. That did not prevent him from becoming Gandhi’s most valued colleague in promoting the cause of communal harmony and freedom from colonial rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai Lama make no secret of the fact that they draw inspiration from their Buddhist world view.

Martin Luther King drew his strength from Christianity.

It is worth noting that even Marxists and socialists in India have had to deploy the wisdom of men like Kabir, Nanak, Bulleh Shah and Namdev whenever they decide to spread the message of communal harmony as a counter to the divisive agenda of some Hindutvavadis.

All these bhakts and Sufis derived their world view from their deep connection with the Divine who they saw manifested in every living being, rather than through secular education.

In short, despite the inspiration the leaders discussed above took from their religious ideals, they remain outstanding examples of politics based on compassion and humane values.
The writer is a senior fellow at CSDS.

Islam and Peace:Muslims must speak in one voice against extremism

An article courtesy  TOI, of  17 March.

It is very very rare to see such frank opinions on extremists, root cause for extremism, especially when linked to a religion with more than its share of violence and man made tragedies.

Even brave souls like MJ Akbar have not been so forthright in in voicing their opinions.

We wish those who should read it, do so, and introspect.

Ed:

Build The Peace Consensus

Muslims must speak in one voice against extremism

Sadia Dehlvi 

The trail of terror continues with cricketers as the latest target. The Mumbai and Lahore attacks, public executions and the murder of over a thousand civilians in the Swat valley by Taliban-style terrorists are horrifying examples of atrocities committed by militant groups thriving on political Islam.

Global Muslim communities urgently need to condemn the agenda of political Islam that distorts religious scriptures to legitimise violence. This ideology of Islamism is threatening to replace a moderate and spiritual Islam, leading to the destruction of many societies and, in particular, oppression of women and minorities.

Muslims have a moral responsibility to engage in the social, political and economic development of the societies they live in. Global Muslim societies would do well to imitate the exceptional efforts of Indian clerics in denouncing terrorism and delinking it with Islam. Sincere moral outrage needs to be expressed at Taliban atrocities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, political kidnappings and assassinations, militancy in Kashmir, Shia-Sunni killings in Iraq and Pakistan, fatwas condoning suicide bombings in the Israel-Palestine conflict and other atrocities affecting innocent lives.

Muslims require an international consensus on combating extremism. Our credibility is lost when we express selective outrage, as in the aftermath of the Danish cartoons controversy.

Political Islam draws its lifeblood from the ideology of fighting the oppressor, but has clearly become the oppressor itself. Though some Islamist groups have renounced violence, accepted the principles of democracy and marginally improved their stand on women and minority rights, they remain socially conservative.

In Jordan, the Islamist party does not support the rights of women to file for divorce. In Kuwait, the Islamists fought against the right of women to vote. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will not allow a woman or a person from a minority community to become head of state. Unfortunately, militant Islamist groups thrive in the political vacuum created by oppressive regimes in most Islamic countries.

Muslims must stop blaming the problem of extremism on catastrophic policies of foreign countries. For, two wrongs simply do not make a right. It is primarily a Muslim problem, threatening both Muslim and non-Muslim societies. We need to acknowledge that there is a problem of theology when extremists talk of going straight to heaven after taking innocent lives.

The roots of all modern militant Islamic movements can be traced to one man, Abdul Wahab from Nejd in the Arabian Peninsula. He set out to ‘purify’ Islam, believing that Muslims had drifted away from true religion. Wahab’s followers destroyed many sacred sites that he
considered linked to idolatry. Attacking the arts for being frivolous and dangerous, Wahab sanctioned the rape, murder and plunder of those who refused to follow his injunctions. He was considered a heretic by most, for Mecca and Medina were then centres of contemplative Islam, inhabited by Sufis from all over the world.

In 1774-75, Wahab negotiated a deal with the then nomadic tribe of Saud, forebears of the current royal family, in exchange for support to their quest for political domination. Most Saudis reject the name Wahhabi; they either call themselves Muwahuddin — Unitarians — or Salafi, referring to salaf, the venerated companions of the Prophet. In this blinkered view, no other version of religious truth can exist.

This new face of Islam has nothing to do with Sufis, music, poetry, miracles or the countless devotional customs of Muslim cultures across the world.

Under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism went from strength to strength. Abul Ala Mawdudi, a journalist who translated the Quran outside the classical paradigms, propagated the Wahhabi ideology. He founded the political party Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, making jihad central to Islamic discourse. Addressing non-Muslims as infidels, he grouped Muslims into ‘partial’ and ‘true’ Muslims. Mawdudi’s ideas of Islam as a revolutionary doctrine to take over governments and overturn the whole universal order deeply influenced Syed Qutub of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

These groups have been motivated by political upheavals and the rejection of traditional scholars. Syed Qutub’s brother happened to be among the teachers of Osama bin Laden.

The extremism now found in Mecca and Medina, the heartland of Islam, is the Wahhabi ideology that the Saudis have spent millions in promoting through their outreach programmes. There is no tolerance for Shias, Sunni Sufis or other Muslim traditions, leave alone non-Muslims.

Unfortunately, there is no collective Muslim protest against the Saudi regime for bulldozing graveyards, destroying the cultural and religious heritage of the holy cities, imposing a certain segregation of the sexes inside the Prophet’s mosque at Medina, radical sermons or distribution of radical literature outside Saudi mosques, many of them issuing calls for death to whoever they view as infidels or innovators of Islam.

The problem of Muslim extremism began in the Muslim world and the responsibility of resolving it lies with us.

The inability to present Islam as a peaceful religion is a collective failure of global Muslim communities. We could begin by increasing the decibel in condemning violence and sectarianism and standing up for women’s rights.

We should stop demonising the ‘other’ as infidels and show increased support for democratic movements in Muslim countries. It is time for the devout, silent and peace-loving Muslim majority to speak for Islam.

Let our voices be louder than the radical voices claiming to represent us.


The writer is a Delhi-based commentator.

Sadia Dehlvi is a renowned Delhi based media person. She is a prominent face on prime time television debates dealing with the issues of Muslim communities.

A well-known columnist and writer, Dehlvi is frequently published in frontline Urdu, Hindi and English newspapers and magazines. She has been the editor of Bano, a popular woman’s journal in the Urdu language with the Shama group of Publications. Dehlvi has produced and scripted a number of documentaries and television programs.

For over thirty years Sadia Dehlvi has engaged in voicing concern on issues regarding heritage, culture, women and Muslim communities. She is currently working on a book on Delhi’s Sufi history. Her surname ‘Dehlvi” means someone from Delhi reflecting her family’s long association with Delhi

Who destroys our forests? The forest department!

Starvation killing jumbos

N D Shiva Kumar | TNN

Of 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, post-mortem of 22 was done after 10 to 25 days of death.

Due to the delay, between 2002 and 2008, the bodies of 23 elephants decomposed and the reason for deaths couldn’t be ascertained.

Five elephants died due to dehydration and starvation

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Bangalore: Elephants are starving to death.

Around 137 of them died over two years (2006-2008), and most due to starvation, dehydration and infection. This is a cause of concern as Karnataka has only 5,500-6,000 elephants.

Post-mortems have revealed that they died due to infection, diseases like peritonitis, diarrhoea, encephlyomyconditis, cardiac arrest, starvation and dehydration.

The number of deaths drastically increased after 2006. Between 2002 and 2006, 24 elephants died, 32 in 2006-07 and 105 in 2007-08.

Nobody cares for them

Of the 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, over 70% died before completing even half their lifespan, which is normally 55-60 years.

Also, 61 were below 20 years old and 21 between 21 and 30 years old.

Shockingly, forest department officials made no effort to find out the reasons for the outbreak of infection.

Displeasure over attitude of officials
The Public Accounts Committee led by Congress leader Siddaramaiah highlights these aspects in its report. The committee expressed shock and displeasure at the attitude of forest officials.

“It’s a serious issue of concern. The department made no efforts to find out the reasons for the outbreak of the epidemic. This is shocking.’’ The committee felt delay in the information to officials about elephants’ death was due to improper vigil (beat system).

Causes of deaths
Inadequate food and water holes and failure to manage and develop grassland were cited as major causes of death. The authorities registered 2,987 forest crimes between 2001 and 2008. Referring to this, the committee felt camps to prevent illegal hunting had not been set up properly.

More camps had been set up in areas less prone to illegal hunting and few camps in crime-infested areas. For long, animal rights activists have been asking the government to save elephants. It seems the effort is just not there.

Corrective measures
Study by Wildlife Society on reasons for major outbreak of epidemic and diseases Tighten beat system, conduct postmortem of dead animals and record reasons for death Ensure speedy disposal of pending cases

No peace even in death

Of 105 elephants that died in 2007-08, post-mortem of 22 was done after 10 to 25 days of death.

Due to the delay, between 2002 and 2008, the bodies of 23 elephants decomposed and the reason for deaths couldn’t be ascertained.

Five elephants died due to dehydration and starvation

Forest dept felled twice

CAG REPORT REVEALS LAPSES

IN FOLLOWING CONSERVATION ACT.

PAC REPORT SLAMS OFFICIALS FOR RISE IN ELEPHANT DEATHS

Jayashree Nandi | TNN

Bangalore: Who destroys our forests? The forest department!

The latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed non-compliance of the administration of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the forest department, which has led to several hundred hectares of forest land diverted for non-forest use.

Shockingly, compensatory reforestation has not been carried out on 5,73,297 acres in Karnataka and Rs 17.09 crore fine has not been recovered from 23 user agencies.

Forest land of 483.52 acres were transferred by the revenue department without the Centre’s approval. Though renewal of lease in two cases was rejected by them, 24.09 hectares were not resumed. In 22 other cases, proposals of renewals of lease were not sent to the Centre by the PCCF despite lapse of 1 to 45 years!

And if this was not enough, the records in the forest department at Bangalore, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Sirsi and nine other divisions headed by DCFs were checked by the auditor general’s office.

Seven user agencies had sought approval for utilization of 342.35 hectares for non-forest purposes. But over 391.71 hectares of forest land were utilized prior to obtaining an approval from the government.

This included 49.36 hectares utilized in excess of that approved for diversion in two cases in Bidar and Mangalore.

Way off the mark

In 19 cases of diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes like irrigation, wind power, mining, road work and others involving an area of 3,198 hectares, compliance with conditions by Centre were not ensured despite a lapse of 2 to 27 years from the date of clearance.

LAND DRAIN

Of 594.10 hectares of forest land approved (December 1995 to September 1996) for settlement of displaced families of Sea Bird project in Karwar, only 182.94 hectares utilized

Out of balance area of 411.16 hectares, 277 hectares where felling was done, reforested subsequently at Rs 45.49 lakh without resuming land

Centre not informed

Forest land of 483.52 acres were transferred by the revenue department without the Centre’s approval

In 22 cases, proposals to renew lease were not sent to the Centre by the PCCF despite lapse of 1 to 45 years

Warm someone’s heart today

Mr Watwani has sent this.

ONE OF THE BEST STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD!

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard .

Mrs.Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs.Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs.Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…He is a joy to be around..’

His second grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.’

His third grade teacher wrote, ‘His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.’

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.’

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.

His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, ‘Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.’

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.

The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’s pets’.

 


A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.

But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what?

She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

 

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, ‘Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.’

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, ‘Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.’

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? tomorrow? just ‘do it’.

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it!

 

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Rotary Poster Painting Competition 2009

new-pictureRotary on the Spot Poster Painting Competition 2009

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26-jan-09-01-feb-07926-jan-09-01-feb-087 Rotary South-West had organised “On the Spot Poster & Painting Competition” for children of Age group 3 years to 17 years on Sunday,  the 01st Feb 09   at Civil Services Sports Ground Ashoka Hotel, Chankyapuri, New Delhi.

More than two thousand children participated in the painting Competition   accompanied by their parents and guardians.

It was a wonderful sight to see hundreds of children intent and concentrating on painting using pencils, crayons, and water colours.

The subjects for painting were

1. Pride of Delhi
Metro, Flyovers, Commonwealth Games, Tourism, Republic Day, Rotary Blood Bank.
2. Conservation of Resources
Water, Energy, Oil.
3. Social Crime
Crime against Women, Child abuse, Road Rage, Blue line menace, Corruption.
4. Social Responsibilities
Pollution, Blood Donation, AIDS, Civic Sense, Care for elderly, Hunger, Disaster Management, Health & Humanity, Master Plan 2021, Solid Waste Management, Traffic Sense, My Family, Mobile Mania, Women Safety.

Children painted beautiful posters in all age groups. The entries were evaluated by a panel of eminent judges. Smt Kiran Walia, Minister of Health & Family Welfare gave away the prizes to winners.8 prizes per age group were awarded.

All Children were given the participation certificate signed by Smt Kiran Walia & Rotarion executives. Lunch/Snack coupons were also given to each participant. There was also and exhibition on road signs and road sense by the Delhi Traffic Police.

To entertain children there was even a  magic show.

Credit for organisng the function goes to Rotary South West President Mr Manoj Bansal, Secretary V Narayanan, Mr Pankaj Agarwal, Mr Ranjan Chopra & many other Rotarians who actively participated in the program.

26-jan-09-01-feb-096

Rotary–Poster-Painting Competetion 2009

Rotary–poster-painting 2009

On the Spot Painting Competition

(Participation Free)

(Bring own colours  etc. , Stamped Drawing Sheets will be provided)

Sunday 01 Feb 2009

Civil services Sports Ground NO3

Opp Nehru Park

Near Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi

Age Groups 3 to 6

6+ to 9

9+ to 13

13+ to 17

Organised by

Rotary Club of Delhi South-West

email queries to

mk98@rediffmail.com,    nic.pankaj@gmail.com, lalitvohra@mail.com