Wed Nov 23 06:07:37 UTC 1994


                JUNE 1995, Cambridge MA, USA  

								November 19, 1994

 My friend Himendra Thakur has asked me to post the appended
 announcement. Some of you may have already met him at the
 IXth World Sanskrit Conference in Melbourne where he gave a
 talk in my section (Veda) dealing with the issues of Sati, 
 excessive dowry and its recent development, bride burning.
 He has been engaged with these issues for a number of years
 and has also written a brief novel on bride burning.    

 Earlier this year, he officially registered a foundation in
 Massachusetts, the International Society Against Dowry and
 Bride Burning in India, whose aim it is to do whatever
 possible to stop this practice.

 To further the cause he is now preparing an international
 conference to be held next Spring or early Summer at
 Cambridge, MA, USA. Persons who have shown interest and
 have agreed to come and to attend the conference include
 women lawyers from India who represent the victims and some
 well-known scholars working on these topics and/or in Women

 If you are interested to form local or national chapters
 (outside the US), please, contact him or write c/o my

 Here is the


Most sincerely we invite you to participate in "The First
 International Conference on Dowry and Bride-burning in
 India" to be held in June next year in Cambridge,
 Massachusetts, jointly sponsored by the International
 Society Against Dowry and Bride Burning in India, Inc., a
 non-profit organization incorporated in Massachusetts, and 
 South Asian Studies, Harvard University. 

Extortion of dowry money in marriages has reached a
 desperate proportion in modern India. Thousands of newly
 married women are burnt alive every year by their in-laws
 because their fathers may have failed to pay the
 outstanding dowry installment. Already on November 11,
 1984, the American TV station CBS ("60 Minutes") reported
 that 500 young women were burned that year in the Delhi
 area alone. The Boston Globe reported 11,259 burnings from
 1988 to 1990. CBS re-ran the segment on January 25, 1993.
 Statistics collected in India show an increase of these

The acknowledgement and awareness of dowry and bride-burning
 should begin at its source: in India. Unfortunately, the
 social, political and administrative leaders in India seem
 uninterested. Characteristically, their first reaction is
 to deny the tragedy, minimize its gravity and stereotype it
 as a media propaganda. People seem to feel no guilt when
 they burn a bride. The root of this strange behavior is not
 clearly understood. 

To raise consciousness in India would require a national
 shock treatment. International condemnation is likely to
 start that shock, because the people of India still place 
 great value on world opinion. The Conference will platform
 a worldwide protest against this evil practice and will
 analyze how India, seat of a great and ancient
 civilization, could fall into moral decadence of such a
 magnitude. The solution of the problem may be found in the
 ancient Dharma texts themselves and in spiritual wisdom of
 India's own philosophy. Research articles are being invited
 from scholars on Indian culture and history (by April
 1995). They will be published in the souvenir of the

Ending this tragedy requires the active support of the
 scholars of Indian culture. We are confident that your
 participation will have a deep impact in India and
 thousands of young lives will be saved. We fervently hope
 that you will accept our invitation.  

                               Himendra B. Thakur

Please contact:  
 Himendra B. Thakur, (FAX 508-740-0504) Chair, Board of
 Directors, International Society Against Dowry and Bride
 Burning in India, Inc., P.O. Box 8766, Salem, MA 01971, USA 

or: Michael Witzel, Chair, Department of Sanskrit & Indian
 Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA-02138 
 (phone: 617-495-3295, fax: 617-496 8571, 
 email: Witzel at          << 

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