WOMEN
 

Head-on collision
The UN Report on human development might celebrate cultural diversity but there is increasing intolerance of cultural symbols across Europe. Activists have launched a campaign to protect the right of Muslim women in Europe to wear Islamic headscarves. The issue of the hijab, the traditional headscarf worn round the head and shoulders, has triggered off controversy across the continent and brought to the fore sharp divisions over integrating Muslims. The debate is of interest here because India, which has a population of close to 75 million Muslim women, is a lot more accepting of pluralism and diversity.

Stress & snacks
A
new study conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences has revealed that women exposed to frustrating noise stress snack more.

Making waves
Well-aimed shot
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

A
fter
Abhinav Bindra, Chetanpreet Nilon, another Chandigarh resident, is in the limelight at the international level in air rifle shooting. Chetanpreet's medal gallery continues to bulge with gold and silver medals. The latest medal to enter her kitty is the silver medal won at the international meet for juniors hosted by the Czech Republic at Plzen city, aptly named as " Shooting Hopes Competition". Chetanpreet is a future hope of India in the 10 mts air rifle shooting event. Her individual score at this meet was 396 out of 400, her best performance till date. On cloud nine after winning the silver medal, Chetanpreet beat 75 competitors at Plzen. The Indian team was the only from the Asian countries to make it to the meet. Most of the participants were from European countries.

  • A winning stroke

  • Singing her way into hearts

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Head-on collision

The UN Report on human development might celebrate cultural diversity but there is increasing intolerance of cultural symbols across Europe. Activists have launched a campaign to protect the right of Muslim women in Europe to wear Islamic headscarves. The issue of the hijab, the traditional headscarf worn round the head and shoulders, has triggered off controversy across the continent and brought to the fore sharp divisions over integrating Muslims. The debate is of interest here because India, which has a population of close to 75 million Muslim women, is a lot more accepting of pluralism and diversity.

Besides a garment of choice, the hijab is also a symbol of self-expression
Besides a garment of choice, the hijab is also a symbol of self-expression

In what might seem paradoxical, western countries despite their emphasis on freedom can curb the individualís freedom to wear a dress that is either a mark of religious identity or a cultural symbol. About 250 delegates from 14 countries congregated at Londonís City Hall some time back under the banner of a pro-hijab group to campaign for the freedom to wear the hijab. The ban is rightly seen as a violation of human rights and evokes a ghetto mentality against religious as well as individual freedom. The French move to ban the headscarf has been dubbed the "most reactionary move since World War II. A move towards religious intolerance." Several German states too are to ban teachers wearing headscarfs.

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights rejected the appeal of a Turkish student who was barred from attending Istanbul University medical school in 1998 because her headscarf violated the official dress code. Abeer Pharaon, the coordinator of the pro-hijab movement, is of the view that a worrying trend is developing across Europe. The governments of some of these countries have claimed that they are protecting Muslim women from being forced to wear the hijab. What is lost is that instead of a marker of oppression, it is more a symbol of choice. Ironically, modern societies are less homogenous, because they do not have the confidence to allow diversity.

The perception of the western world of Islam as a retrogressive religion that oppresses women and forces them to adhere to a dress that is repressive is as flawed as the perception that it is religion that sanctions curbing of freedom of movement and social interaction of Muslim women. In an issue of German News, Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, the Indian representative to the conference of women from 20 Islamic countries in Berlin on May, 2004, mentions the sheer diversity even within the Islamic world. The aim of the path-breaking meet was to talk about women in the Islamic world so as to initiate a dialogue among and within Muslim women. The need is to understand the issue of Islam and women beyond outward stereotypical symbols. "Just looking at the participants in the lobby of the hotel was enough to underscore for me the fact that there is nothing like monolithic Islam" There were women in headscarves of all kinds. Tightly wound cotton material jostled with silks and chiffons were draped over the head in many styles. There were women in saris, with heads uncovered; there were women in pants and skirts, sarongs and dresses. There was nothing like a dress code among the women from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malayasia. If only this diversity would be allowed to thrive. ó A.N.
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Stress & snacks

A new study conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences has revealed that women exposed to frustrating noise stress snack more.

Dr. Laura C. Klein, assistant professor of biobehavioral health who led the study, said, "In daily life, people often rise to the occasion to deal with stress. In the study, 29 men and 34 women, ages 18 to 45, who thought they were in a study of the effects of noise on performance, were divided into three groups and asked to solve math and geometry problems shown to them on slides.

In the first group, a loudspeaker placed near his or her chair emitted a noise about as loud as a jackhammer at unpredictable intervals. The participants were shown a button on the side of the chair to turn the noise off but none did. In the second group the participants were not told they could turn the noise off. In the third group, the control group, everything was the same, except that participants were not exposed to noise stress. The participants were then asked to sit alone in room for 12 minutes and then they were presented with a snack tray and a pitcher of water. The snacks included potato chips, white chocolate and unsalted air-popped popcorn. After 12 minutes, the participant was asked to solve puzzles by tracing a path through a maze without crossing any lines. The number of times the participant attempted to solve the unsolvable puzzle was used as a measure of the personís persistence or residual frustration level. Researchers found that women who demonstrated low persistence on the unsolvable puzzle and were frustrated by the math session, ate more. ó ANI
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Making waves
Well-aimed shot
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chetanpreet Nilon making a mark in air rifle shooting
Chetanpreet Nilon making a mark in air rifle shooting. ó Photo by Pankaj Sharma

After Abhinav Bindra, Chetanpreet Nilon, another Chandigarh resident, is in the limelight at the international level in air rifle shooting. Chetanpreet's medal gallery continues to bulge with gold and silver medals. The latest medal to enter her kitty is the silver medal won at the international meet for juniors hosted by the Czech Republic at Plzen city, aptly named as " Shooting Hopes Competition". Chetanpreet is a future hope of India in the 10 mts air rifle shooting event. Her individual score at this meet was 396 out of 400, her best performance till date. On cloud nine after winning the silver medal, Chetanpreet beat 75 competitors at Plzen. The Indian team was the only from the Asian countries to make it to the meet. Most of the participants were from European countries.

Elated over her performance, her coach T.S. Dhillon says "She is now among the top shooters in the country, not far behind Anjali and Soma, who have qualified to take part in Athens Olympics this year. One of most disciplined shooters, in the country in junior and senior circuit. She will dominate the shooting competition scene in years to come". She also excels in her studies by securing more than 80 per cent . A student of B.Sc( Hons), Microbiology, Panjab University, she has been to 8 international competitions in the recent past.

Chetanpreet was also part of the Indian contingent at the World Shooting Championship in Finland in 2002 and won the bronze team medal in the International Junior competition held in Germany. She won the gold medal twice at the national shooting competitions.

"I am preparing for the World University shooting meet that is expected to be hosted in October again by the Czech Republic", she says. Chetanpreet's mother Harpreet Kaur, says that the inspiration for her daughter to be a sportsperson came from her maternal grandfather, Hardial Singh Gill, a former Sarpanch of Sadhar village near Ludhiana. She was in the ninth standard when she made it to the national shooting meets and is aiming higher.

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A winning stroke

Graf and Agassi with the citation.
Graf and Agassi with the citation.
ó Reuters photo

In a game that has undoubtedly seen more than its share of legends, Steffi Graf was perhaps the last and among the greatest. She has never needed any recommendations, her powerful strokes, and formidable forehands apoke for her. And her induction last week into the International Tennis Hall of Fame was the only logical culmination of an outstanding career, which included 22 singles titles in the Grand Slams. In 1988 she won the Golden Grand Slam. She is also the only player ever to win all four Grand Slams at least four times in her career.

In a poignant ceremony while the tennis world applauded Steffi, the extraordinary player, her husband Andre Agassi paid a moving tribute to Steffi, the wife and mother, though he acknowledged she never needed applause to be her best. It was a moment neither will forget, just as all those who were witness to it will not either. In a moving eight-minute speech, Agassi introduced his wife to the Hall of game. "As I attempt to find words worthy to introduce the person that has changed my life, I realise that the words have yet to be invented that are large enough, colourful enough, true enough to express the heart and soul of this woman I love, Stephanie."

His words commanded the complete attention of the audience, just as Steffiís game did for years. They also shattered her composure, something that the toughest of opponents and the most gruelling of sets had failed to do. But it was momentary and she quickly pulled herself together. "Not that this occasion isnít emotional enough, but to hear that you are loved so much is amazing," she said and, "the best part of my journey in tennis is it led me to you."

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Singing her way into hearts

Up and coming recording artist JoJo, born Joanna Levesque, is climbing the charts as pop music's latest young sensation. Thirteen-year-old JoJo believes her music transcends the bubble gum crowd.

JoJo's first single Leave (Get Out) topped Billboard's singles sales charts earlier this year, and her hip-hop and soul-tinged album "JoJo" debuted as number 4 on the billboard chart when it was released last month.

JoJo at Universal Records, New York. ó Reuters photo

JoJo at Universal Records, New York.
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