There are many stories of Indian’s making their mark in the field of Science and Technology. Three recent stories have again proved the intellectual success of Indian minds in the field. In the Space Settlement Contest competition organised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Indian students have made the country proud by winning prizes. NASA had received around 600 entries from 18 countries and Indian students managed to grab 12 prestigious first prizes at the NASA Space Settlement Contest competition. About three dozen teams from 12th grade and below were sent by India.
Zenith Labyrinth (a space colony), developed by a group of Class VIII students of KIIT International School, Bhuvaneshwar, bagged the second prize and Chaitanya Vashistha. In the similar contest, Class VII student of Wadgaonsheri's St. Arnold Central school, Pune won the first prize at international level in the Space Settlement Design Contest organised by National Space Society of USA in association with NASA. Cronus-The Utopia, a work of fiction, by five students of Sri Sarada Vidyalayam Girls Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Madurai won the third prize in the NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Contest 2014, under the Literary Merit category. Cronus are very efficient in recycling waste, make best use of solar and wind power.
The project Zenith Labyrinth took over 12 weeks to develop the model. The winners have been selected by the Engineers and Scientists of NASA. Winners have been also invited to participate in the International Space Development Conference which is going to be held in Los Angeles in May.
Indian origin Manu Prakash is another feather in the cap, a bioengineer at Stanford invented a Foldscope (low-cost paper Microscope). His latest invention might save lives of millions of people across the globe. Foldscope can be packed and shipped in simple Do-it-Yourself (DIY) kits and assembled by anyone in minutes.
This achievement is appreciated and lauded by many educationists and scientists.
Another Hindu Temple set ablaze in Pakistan
The intolerant majority community destroyed yet another Hindu temple in Pakistan. On March 29, unknown attackers broke a statue of Hindu deity, Hanuman, and set temple on fire in Pakistan's southern city of Hyderabad. The attack was carried out on March 28 in Latifabad , about 300 feet from Kali Mata temple.
Couple of weeks ago, a Dharamshala was set on fire and some statues of Hindu deities in an adjacent temple in Larkana were damaged in protest against alleged desecration of the Quran.
Darshan Kumar, who has been looking after the temple said the attackers, asked me to let them go inside the temple because they wanted to pray. He said four attackers came in a car and three of them entered the Hanuman Mandir. As they entered the temple, they broke the statue of Lord Hanuman before sprinkling kerosene oil and setting the building on fire. When I resisted the move they pushed me away.
The attack sparked street protests and angry protesters burnt tyres and blocked the main road in the town for several hours. Law-enforcement officials reached the area and convinced protesters to call off their protest.
Attack on Hindu deities and burning of temples is like a routine work in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. And it’s a shame for India that the Government is not taking any proper action for the safety of Hindu deities and temples.
Hindu students wait for permanent prayer space at BU
Hindu students, still waiting for permanent prayer place at Brandeis University (BU) in Waltham (Massachusetts, USA), 50 days after “Murthi Sthapana” ceremony to establish the Hindu altar on campus” on February 6 was cancelled.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), said that BU should respond to the requirements of its Hindu students to provide designated permanent prayer-meditation hall for rituals, festivals and spiritual exercise, which would help in their personal growth.
Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that they were disappointed on learning about reported cancellation of “Murthi Sthapana”. All were invited to witness the ceremony in the announcement which was posted on campus blogs, Facebook and Events Calendar and showed the image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh. Instead the ceremony got reportedly replaced by a discussion about faith and space when the concerns were raised regarding space sharing.
Zed urged the US and Canadian universities to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies for prayer facility. BU needed to recognise the intersection of spirituality and education, and of its importance in Hinduism, Zed added.
Joe Lanoie, writing in “The Brandeis Hoot”, a weekly newspaper “written by, and for the members of the Brandeis community”, on March 28, stated: “I want the Hindus to worship on campus, as it is their right. Brandeis should grants us the ability to worship as we please. Not being able to do that is against all the founding principles of this university. The Hindu community on campus needs to find a place to worship that is their own.”
BU already has three chapels — the Harlan Chapel (Protestant), the Bethlehem Chapel (Catholic) and the Berlin Chapel (Jewish) — which hold wedding and other ceremonies; besides a Muslim prayer room and resource center.
Qatar, deathland for Nepalese workers
Hundreds of Nepalese workers leave their native places to seek their fortunes in the Gulf countries, and dozens of families wait for their loved ones every day. Katmandu airport witnessess the daily entries and exits of comings and of Nepalese workers. However, the homecomings are sometimes deeply distressing. According to a report, last year, 500 Nepalese men returned from the Gulf States in coffins. Over a thousand people have died in Qatar during their £39 billion building spree for the 2022 World Cup.
Despite the mounting death toll, huge numbers of Nepalese men continue to seek work in the Emirates. It is reported 10 per cent Nepalese are still working in the Middle East.
As it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has come under severe criticism about the working and living condition it offers to its foreign workers.
Though the Emirate has demonstrated good will and is implementing measures for some worksites, it has no plans to modify the highly criticised Kafala system whereby “sponsor” employers have full rights over their foreign workers. As a result of this system, Nepalese workers in Qatar are often forced to work at an infernal pace do not get salaries, deprived of their freedom and often suffer ill-treatment. According to The International Trade Union Confederation, if the working conditions will not change, over 4,000 workers will die before the 2022 World Cup. Stating also that situation has all the ingredients of organised, modern-day slavery.
(Nishant Kumar Azad with inputs from agencies)