Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brishtish Friends of India in Freedom Fight

Mrs. Annie Besant

Annie Besant with Henry olcott (left) and Charles Leader Beaterright) in Adyar, Madras in December 1905

Annie Besant with Henry Olcott (left) and Charles Leadbeater (right) in Adyar, Madras in December 1905
Particular mention may be made of the services rendered by Mrs. Annie Besant to India's struggle for freedom. She was an "extraordinary English woman who having passed through different phases of her life and undergone persecutions of no ordinary character", had at last made India her home and special interest. She was a dynamic force in Indian politics and rendered valuable services to the cause of national regeneration in India both from political and cultural points of view. She worked with zeal and energy to make the idea of Home Rule popular in a large part of India. She was the first President of the Indian National Congress who showed by action that the Presidency "was not a passing show or a three-­day festivity" but involved shouldering of responsibility throughout its succeeding years. She made a signifi­cant contribution to the growth of Indian nationalism by ardent advocacy of the ancient Indian culture.


Pope resignation leaves Catholic world in shock

By James Mackenzie
VATICAN CITY | Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:09am IST

(Reuters) - Pope Benedict left the Catholic world in shock after becoming the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to resign his office, saying that failing strength had left him unable to lead the church through a period of relentless change and turmoil.

The 85-year-old pontiff announced his abdication as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics in a speech delivered in Latin, the universal language of the church, to cardinals meeting in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

"I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to the adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he said, referring to the tradition that dates the papacy back to Saint Peter, 2,000 years ago.

He will continue in office until 1900 GMT on February 28 before stepping down to allow the election of a new pope, which Vatican officials said was expected to come by the start of the Holy Week on March 24.

He is expected to spend some time at the pope's summer residence near Rome before retiring to spend his final years in a cloistered convent in the Vatican, and will play no part in selecting his successor.
Famously known as "God's Rottweiler" before his election in 2005, Benedict fought against the spread of materialist values in society and strongly opposed any relaxation of the church's traditional strictures against contraception, homosexual acts or women priests.

His eight years in office were overshadowed by scandals ranging from the sexual abuse of children by priests to the arrest of his own butler for stealing confidential papal documents in the so-called "Vatileaks" affair.

The pope said he had left "with full freedom" and Church officials were at pains to stress that the running of the Church would not be affected by his unexpected departure, which surprised even close aides.
While his surprise decision was greeted with respectful tributes from world leaders including U.S President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, some others underlined the problems which blighted much of Benedict's time in office.

"I deeply respect the decision of Pope Benedict XVI, especially since it is not in line with tradition," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council and himself a Catholic. "His pontificate has been short but very difficult."

For interactive timeline: click link.reuters.com/xuk85t


The complex machinery to choose a successor will move into gear, opening the way for the conclave of cardinals whose decision will be announced with the release of white smoke from a chimney in the Sistine Chapel.

Speculation has grown that the Church could appoint its first non-European leader to reflect the growing weight of regions such as Africa or Latin America, which now accounts for 42 percent of the world's Catholics.

"It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American," said Guatemala's Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales after Benedict's announcement.

After Benedict's relatively brief papacy, which followed the 27-year pontificate of John Paul II, the cardinals may also be inclined to choose a younger man than Benedict, who was 78 when he was elected.
Whoever is appointed will have to deal with regional issues and the tension between conservative Catholics who have supported Benedict's strictly traditional doctrinal line and others who feel he has stifled change and development.

"In Europe, the Church is seeking a new relationship to society. In many countries in Asia and Africa, it is experiencing an incredible expansion," Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said.
Benedict himself had a mixed record in dealing with cultures outside his own, triggering fury among Muslims with a speech critical of Islam in 2006 and angering many in Africa by opposing the use of condoms to combat the scourge of AIDS.

Never as popular as the widely beloved John Paul, Benedict was a scholarly theologian with little of the shrewd political instinct which elevated his predecessor to the front rank of world statesmen.
His decision to leave office shocked some Catholics, who felt that a pope should stay in office until the end of his life, and his exit will leave the Church with both a retired and a serving pope for the first time in hundreds of years.

The last pope to leave office willingly was Celestine V, a saintly hermit who served only a few months before abdicating in December, 1294. Another pope, Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the papacy. (Editing by Peter Graff)



Omar Abdullah 'not challenging' decision to hang Afzal Guru: Digvijaya Singh

Posted on Feb 12, 2013 at 02:58am IST
New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was "not challenging" the decision to hang Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and felt that it was "not fair" if the last wish of the convict was not granted.

"For anyone who has to be hanged, there are certain proceedures, certain rules under which the person has the last wish and that has to be granted. I am not privy to what has gone through.
"The last wish of the accused has to be granted and if this is not being done, it is not fair. What Omar is saying is specifically this. He is not challenging the decision (to hang Afzal Guru)," the Congress general secretary said. 

His remarks came a day after Omar said that the execution of Afzal Guru would reinforce a sense of alienation and injustice among generations of youth in the Valley and that it was a "tragedy" that Guru was not allowed to meet his family before he was hanged and not allowed a "final farewell". The 43-year-old Parliament attack convict was hanged and buried in Tihar jail premises in Delhi in a secret operation on Saturday.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Sandip Dikshit also said that "the jail manual should be followed and whatever action has to be taken should be according to it. "According to the Home Minister s statement, a letter was sent on February 7 and he said that the family should have known by February 8. I have only heard this statement of the Home Minister and I am not aware of what really transpired on the ground," he said in reply to a volley of questions on why family members of the Parliament attack convict were not informed about his hanging in time.

To a question on return of Afzal Guru s body to his family, he merely said this matter should be left to the government. Dikshit also said that the trial was fair and three courts have held him guilty and the Supreme Court affirmed his death sentence. "So, I think we must accept what the Supreme Court has said because it is the best judge of whether somebody is guilty or not".