Cultivating Pluralism at a Critical Time

[ Press Release ]

Dear Friends,

We greet you at the end of 2016, an extraordinary and critical year for the Pluralism Project and for America’s public and political commitment to pluralism. At a time when many Americans are uncertain about the strength of our identity as a multireligious and multicultural nation, the Pluralism Project looks with confidence to the vision, the reality and the future of the American experiment. It is a vision based in the Constitutional promise of religious freedom, a blueprint for the very diversity that is ours today.?As we move forward, we do so with renewed resolve, and a new mission that will inform our ongoing, and increasingly important efforts:?The Pluralism Project:?Engaging, Educating, and Strengthening the Next Generation of?Religious and Civic Leaders in the United States.

For more than two decades, the Pluralism Project has studied the changing religious landscape of our nation.?Our confidence in pluralism ?the engagement of our differences in the common project of citizenship?is based on grassroots research among the religious communities of the United States. We have come to know the diverse and dedicated faith communities of our nation through their hospitality, their energy, and their commitment to American values. Our vision is deeply informed by the enduring principles and practices of the world?s religions and, above all, by the emerging infrastructure of interfaith engagement that is strengthening local communities across the country.

We are confident that these gains cannot be reversed by the forms of fear and division that have come to the surface in the turbulence of the election and its aftermath. Engaging our diversity in cities and towns across the country will continue to be the strength of our democracy. Our goal is to support and encourage the next generation of civic and religious leaders as they strengthen the bridges and networks of relationship that will serve a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent society.

In his most recent book, Thomas Friedman has forcefully mentioned Harvard’s Pluralism Project and our insistence that pluralism is not mere diversity, but engagement with that diversity, not relativism, but the encounter of commitments based on dialogue across differences. “Being able to embrace and nurture this kind of true pluralism is a huge asset for a society in the age of accelerations,” he writes. “Indeed, I would go a step further and say that the return on investment on pluralism… will soar and become maybe the single most important competitive advantage for a society ?for both economic and political reasons.”

We ask you to invest in the promotion of pluralism. The Pluralism Project engages students, teachers, and citizens in tackling the most important issues of our time. But the project of pluralism must engage all of us ?and we invite you to that engagement in the New Year that lies before us.


Dr. Diana L. Eck

Director, The Pluralism Project
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Make a tax-deductible donation online?or donate by check at the address below, payable to Harvard University (Memo note: “Pluralism Project”)

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Viewpoint: Why NRIs are so judgmental about India?

In the past two+ decades, I have lived and worked in a dozen countries across three continents. And during the time, I have frequently visited India.

After making annual trips back to my hometown from my adopted homeland in America, I recently took a conscious decision to spend an extended period of time in Bangalore. My family story is not atypical of that of scores of other NRIs ? aging parents unable to manage on their own due to flailing health, yearning for their offspring?s to be around. Rather than contributing to the emerging market of ?old age? homes in India by coaxing my parents to spend their sunset years in one such institution, I thought spending quality time with them was more valuable. Thus my wife, son and I find ourselves back in the bedroom in a home where I spent college years.

The fact is that not all NRIs are judgmental about India. So why do NRIs come across as being judgmental, even without meaning to do so?

The key reason is that NRIs have a point of reference. Having experienced better quality of life in the West – enforcement of law and order, zoning in cities, orderly traffic – NRIs may find the chaos of urban India jarring.

    • Population – Over 1.2 billion people, over three times the population of the US lives in in a land ?About twice the size of Alaska? More people chasing fewer resources can impose a burden on the society – lesser land to build, more people with more cars driving or roads that can?t expand etc etc.

— ?NRIs may subconsciously be comparing the life ?back home? with the urban sprawl they encounter during visits to India.

  • Traffic and pollution – This is perhaps a genuine criticism. I learnt to drive a stick-shift car in India years ago and have owned Automatic cars in the west. During my trips back to India, I am comfortable driving on the left-side and just following the traffic at low-speeds. However, the effort involved in trying really hard not to bump into bikes ziz-zagging between cars, navigating between taxis, cabs and autos trying to cut across lanes can be stressful, to say the least.
          — I am learning to navigate through traffic as safely as I can but I wonder if complaining about chaotic roads makes me



  • Utter lack of zoning or enforcement of zoning. Take the example of Bangalore where ?residential? and ?commercial? areas are clearly mapped in the city plan documented by different government agencies. However, the reality is different in most ?residential neighborhoods,? Multi-story flats, office complexes, hostels and shops co-exist, adding to the strain on civic resources – water, sewage, electric and roads.
    — NRIs, who have learnt to respect zoning regulations, and enforcement of civic responsibilities may find it jarring to see neighborhoods they grew up in turn out to be concrete jungles.

Bottomline: India continues to change; some of it is for the good and some not-so good. Check out my blog post (link posted at the bottom)

Read the rest of my musings: Return to India Musings: when a home becomes a golden egg – on Mohan’s blog and musings

Indore builders duped us: NRI couple

NDORE: An NRI couple from Scotland, who had purchased an apartment in Mangal Nagar, on Tuesday claimed that they had been duped by builders as they have still not got possession of the flat despite being promised so. The incident came to fore after the duo came to the city and approached in-charge DIG Harinarayan Chari Mishra at the public hearing.

In their complaint, Pushpalata Rohila, who worked as a manager at oil and gas industry and her husband Harsh Nama, an IT worker, said that they had purchased a flat in Classic City in Mangal Nagar from Swastik Infrastructure Company.

“We had been promised possession of the flat by November 15, 2015. The owners of the company – Ankit Shrivastav and Aman Sehgal – had also signed an agreement saying that they will pay Rs 10,000 as rent for the flat if the deadline of possession was breached by the builders,” said Harsh while speaking to TOI. He said that they also completed registry formalities for the flat and when they approached the owners again, they were told that they will be given the under-construction flat latest by December 15. 2016.

“Even after calling them several times, we got no response. We had purchased the flat by taking a loan and we are also paying interest on the loan. We have been deceived by the builders and have faced mental harassment,” he said.

“Everyone in my family including my sister-in-law who lives in scheme number 78 and my sister who also lives in city have faced problems because of these people. Since we were in Scotland, they had to approach the police and also builders for the possession,” said Harsh.

He said that after coming to India, he came to know that both the builders were allegedly absconding and there were other similar cases registered against them

“The police will take action in the matter at the earliest,” said in-charge DIG Harinarayan Chari Mishra
Article source TOI


Taking time off in between their tight schedules, exploring exotic locations..?Prashant?Virendra?Sharma, Shweta Khanduri, Smita Gondkar & DJ Sheizwood road trip to the queen of hills- Shimla


Traveling creates a special bond between people. What better person to spend it with than your best friend? Media Baron Prashant?Virendra?Sharma, Actress Shweta Khanduri, Actress Smita Gondkar & DJ Sheizwood embarked on a road trip to Shimla to explore the picturesque beauty?of the landscape.

Prashant?Virendra?Sharma says “Something about being in an unfamiliar place together strengthens your relationship. It gives you sweet memories that you know will last a lifetime. And it gives you the urge to want to continue traveling all over the world together”

Actress Shweta Khanduri says A road trip, no matter how long or short, is something I believe is essential to letting go of the stress around you. And when it is with your best friends, it makes the trip even more special. It’s a memory I will cherish forever. After our Shimla road trip, I can truly attest to this simple fact: the friends that road trip together, stay together”

Actress Smita Gondkar says ” The beauty of road tripping with your friends, though, is that you won’t be alone in?exploring the beauty of places. Road trips bring some spontaneity to the friendship which in turn strengthens the bond

DJ Sheizwood says Traveling brings us together. It makes our friendship stronger. And it gives us comfort knowing that no matter where life takes us, we will always have those special memories together”

Introducing a dynamic travel portal for NRIs – FLY DEAL FARE

The business of Travel is dynamic. Here we profile a new travel services
company that is expanding into the growing Non-Resident Indian (NRI)

TTL Holidays INC. started one year back with a vision to provide excellent
services to B2C in travel trade. With passing time the company constantly
kept its growth incoming and also started catering to customers in fields

The company has a slick online portal where customers can?connect with the service providers, search or easily reach them through?toll free number, chat or E mail.

The company is currently catering USA clients and planning to grow Globally.

Abandoned wives' search for NRI grooms

It’s not only Punjab, but Himachal too is getting affected with problem of runaway NRI grooms leaving behind their brides to fend for themselves.

But the issue of abandoned brides seems to be lost amidst myriads of large issues confronting women with Police not submitting ATRs (Action Taken Reports) in such cases.

The fact came to light during the 2nd day of public hearing by National Women Commission member Rekha Sharma at Shimla.

Talking to The Statesman, Rekha Sharma said three cases of abandoned brides have came to light today in which NRI grooms from countries like Qatar, Australia and Germany never returning or leaving women with their parents. ?So far we have received around 6-7 such complaints from women and some cases even dates back to 2003,? she said.

There was a case in which a woman was left to fend herself with a disabled daughter with any support in-laws with the groom refusing to accept the relation.

In another case, a NRI from Germany married a girl from the state but he later refused to accept the marriage. Later he married another woman he loves and fled from the country. The woman is now being coerced by her in-law for settlement and are reportedly offering Rs 40 lakh.

Sharma also raised questions on lack of followup by police officials in such cases and added ?I would write a letter to Director General Police, HP to direct police officials to strict and prompt action in such cases.?

Sources said the cases of women being subjected to cruelty of false marriage, cheating and dowry extortion have increased in proportion to the growing number of Indians emigrating in search of green pastures abroad.

?Unfortunately, it is the rural and middle class people that often succumb to the temptation of acquiring foreign groom. It is only when the daughters are abandoned that the parents, who have possibly liquidated their assets to help their daughter enter into the so-called marriage wake up and approach the state authorities,? sources said. The women rights group are now calling on the government needs to address the problem by considering suggestions such as marking on the visa marriage status of the person; providing legal assistance and financial aid to abandoned women, liaison with foreign governments to book the grooms in bigamy charge and to restrain the grant of ex-parte divorce by foreign courts.

In two days public hearing, the NCW has received 90 complaints, out of which 38 were received today.

Republished from?

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Good Samaritan NRI family repairs unsafe bridge

A feel good story about an NRI family giving back to their roots! – editor

Good Samaritan NRI family repairs unsafe bridge

Will prevent accidents which could have been caused due to fog

Good news for commuters using the Dehlon-Nangal-Lehra link road, as an unsafe bridge constructed on the drain, which was earlier a death trap for commuters, was widened by an NRI family settled in the United States.

Good Samaritan NRI family repairs unsafe bridge
Sant Baba Resham Singh Chakk Pakhian Wale and others inaugurate the Nangal drain bridge near Ahmedgarh. Tribune Photo

The situation used to worsen for commuters during fog due to poor visibility. The diversion of traffic on the link road following the establishment of Lehra Toll Plaza on the Ludhiana Malerkotla road made the repair or reconstruction of the drain bridge necessary.

Area residents, including Ranjit Singh and Harjit Singh, said NRIs ? Kunda Singh Virk and Kiran Jit Kaur Virk ? came forward to widen the unsafe and unguarded drain bridge by constructing a new portion along the old one.

The gesture is expected to prevent a number of accidents which could have been caused due to fog. The bridge was thrown open for traffic by Sant Baba Resham Singh Chakk Pakhian Wale during a simple function organised here today.

Kunda Singh Virk and Kiran Jit Kaur Virk were felicitated on the occasion.

Article republished from The Tribune