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JNU students oppose invitation to Baba Ramdev to deliver keynote speech

The students also said that Ramdev’s presence at the meet does not make any sense as he is neither an academician nor a professor and hence the university should withdraw its proposal to invite him. The university spokesperson, meanwhile, was not available for comments on the issue.

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Aligarh Muslim University divided over campus visit invite to PM Modi

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The teachers’ association also feels that the university only invites personalities, who have contributed to academia.

Aligarh Muslim University

The split between hardliners and moderates at Aligarh Muslim University widened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was extended an invitation to the campus. University vice chancellor Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah (retd), whose association with Modi is more than a decade old, wants to invite Modi on the campus. His idea has met with stiff resistance from Leftist and Islamist ideologues. Shah also met Modi in the capital on Friday.”Modi has not yet instilled confidence in the Muslim community. Moreover, he should have something concrete to offer to the university if at all he wants to visit,” said professor Mustafa Zaida, secretary of the teachers’ association.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The teachers’ association also feels that the university only invites personalities, who have contributed to academia. “Modi has no such contributions. Moreover, there has been no trend of prime ministers visiting the campus. After Jawaharlal Nehru, no prime minister visited the campus. We see no reason behind calling him here,” added Zaida.The university administration is of the view that calling Modi to the campus would not just help in boosting the secular character of the university, but will also bring some additional funding from the Centre, which will bring the university out of the financial crisis.This is not the first time that the PM’s visit to an Islamist university has created resentment in the university. Jamia Millia Islamia’s decision of calling Modi for the annual convocation drew similar criticism. Jamia was critical of Modi’s statement made after the 2008 and Batla House encounter. Modi had then said, “There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?”However, VC Zameeruddin Shah feels that the PM is very optimistic about AMU. The VC had met the PM on Friday seeking financial assistance for its Kishanganj campus. “He has assured us all possible support,” he said.

Indian kids sets Guinness record with largest practical science lesson

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In the way forward the two organisations will now come together to reach out to school children by providing virtual platform for conducting new innovations.

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of developing inter-ministerial coordination has yielded results, as Vijnana Bharti (VIBHA) attached to the ministry of science and technology and IIT Delhi under the aegis of the human resource development ministry have together entered the Guinness Book of World Record for largest practical science lesson, involving 2,000 school children. This is also the first time a scientific body in India has made to the world record.In the way forward the two organisations will now come together to reach out to school children by providing virtual platform for conducting new innovations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Breaking Ireland’s record where 1,339 students had together performed an experiment as a part of their chemistry lesson that focused on catalysts, in Delhi on December 7, 2,000 students participated in a 65- minutes experiment breaking this Irish record.The experiment was a part of a five day India International Science Festival (IISF) organized by VIBHA. VIBHA has been organizing science meetings but for the first time it had held this festival at the IIT.”We chose IIT because we wanted to give the young scientists a feeling of being at country’s one of the premium institutions. IIT Delhi graciously lent us the support,” said science and technology minister Dr Harshvardan. After the world record, science and technology ministry now hopes to scale up the festival to the next level. The minister said, “We will sit and review the positives and the lapses and will try to make plans to scale up the event.” Human resource development ministry pitched in the festival with its school children. “NCERT helped us in selecting forty schools that participated. Eighty teachers were trained and three rounds of mock tests were conducted by the students before the final day,” said Professor Kshitij Gupta, Director IIT, Delhi. The idea was conceptualized by Professor K Girish Kumar of Cochin University.Students from class nine to 12 participated in the exercise. A Jayakumar, Secretary General of VIBHA gave credit to the affinity and the smooth coordination between the ministries for the success of the program. While the festival was hosted by the science and technology ministry, HRD ministry gave the required co-operated. VIBHA is now looking at creating the first of its kind portal to bring the talented students together. “We will call upon all students interested in scientific innovations. These students can discuss their ideas on the portal. VIBHA will identify PhD scholars who will mentor these young students,” explained Jayakumar. Science and technology ministry plans to tie up with various technical institutions for the project. IIT Delhi is already on board with VIHBA on the project. “When the HRD minister visited the campus on the day we were to make the world record, she had expressed her desire that more such experiments involving students. We are keen to work on the project,” said Gupta, Director IIT.

AMU divided over invitation to PM Narendra Modi

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The university administration is of the view that calling Modi to the campus would not just help in boosting the secular character of the university, but will also bring some additional funding from the Centre, which will bring the university out of the financial crisis.

The split between hardliners and moderates at Aligarh Muslim University widened after prime minister Narendra Modi was extended an invitation to the campus. University vice chancellor Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah, whose associations with Modi date back to the 2002 Gujarat riots, want to invite Modi on campus. His idea met stiff resistance from Leftist and Islamist ideologues. Shah also met Modi in the capital on Friday. “Modi has not yet instilled confidence in the Muslim community. Moreover, he should have something concrete to offer to the university if at all he wants to visit,” said professor Mustafa Zaida, secretary of the teachers’ association.The teachers’ association also feels that the university only invites personalities, who have contributed to academia. “Modi has no such contributions. Moreover, there has been no trend of prime ministers visiting the campus. After Jawaharlal Nehru, no prime minister visited the campus. We see no reason behind calling him here,” added Zaida.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The university administration is of the view that calling Modi to the campus would not just help in boosting the secular character of the university, but will also bring some additional funding from the Centre, which will bring the university out of the financial crisis. This is not the first time that the PM’s visit to an Islamist university has created resentment in the university. Jamia Millia Islamia’s decision of calling Modi for the annual convocation drew similar criticism. Jamia was critical of Modi’s statement made after the 2008 and Batla House encounter. Modi had then said, “There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?” However, VC Zameeruddin Shah feels that the PM is very optimistic about AMU. The VC had met the PM on Friday seeking financial assistance for its Kishanganj campus. “He has assured us all possible support,” he said. Shah, who feels that the PM’s visit can pull the university put of the crises, added, “I can call anybody and do anything that will be of interest to the university.”

Universities demand autonomy before accountability

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The tussle between the universities and human resource development ministry over autonomy of the university system is not new.

As the government plans to fix accountability for universities in the New Education Policy (NEP), central and state level universities demand more autonomy for the universities before fixing accountability. In the North zone vice chancellors meet called by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in Delhi, academicians also raised concern over the rapid and unplanned expansion in the higher education sector.The tussle between the universities and human resource development ministry over autonomy of the university system is not new. The universities hold the opinion that their autonomy should not be compromised in the quest for NEP. Making a reference to the government’s decision of introducing common syllabus across universities and painting them with the same brush, eminent legal scholar and former Delhi University VC Professor Upendra Baxi said, “Treating all universities as same violates the plural and the diverse character of the university system.” Baxi’s whose fight with the government over universities autonomy goes back to the time when late Arjun Singh was the HRD minister also added that if the government wants to make the universities accountable, it has to stop interfering with their autonomy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting that was attended by 70 VCs from central and state universities also raised concern over HRD ministry’s pace of expansion and making announcement for establishing new universities. It is expected by 2030 every one in four student will be a graduate from India. “We are not against expansion of higher education. But it has to be well thought and above political influences. Government has been making announcements and opening new universities. But these universities are lacking basic facilities,” said professor Ranbir Singh, vice chancellor of National Law University. Singh is also the president of the AIU.Singh also added that government’s endeavour to open universities at remote locations has been a failure since good teaching faculty does not want to relocate to these places. “Any teacher would want to relocate to a place where his children get a good school, his family gets adequate health care facilities and there is a smart lifestyle attached to the city,” says Singh.To link academia to industry, the house also proposed setting up a University-Industry Council. Absence of adequate sharing and coordination between the university and industry leads to shelving of the important research work.This was the fourth of the five regional meetings of the AIU to discuss the challenges of higher education. The association will submit its report to the HRD ministry after the fifth conference scheduled in Mumbai early next year.

Manmad all keen on welcoming its Danish bahu

Born and having studied till 10th standard in Manmad, Rahul like many other teenagers had not found his direction and had failed in English in SSC. “It was teachers’ guidance that changed my perspective. I realised that I had to study and went to the University of Pune to complete my post graduation in Education (Med),” he said.

Rahul Alinje and Cecilia Peterson

Marriages are made in heaven, aver Rahul Alinje from Manmad and Cicelia Peterson from Denmark. And the entire town of Manmad is readying itself to celebrate the occasion – when a son of its soil will tie the knot with a former football player from Denmark. Says excited yet exhausted Rahul, a professor of Social entrepreneurship with Aarhus University and a yoga guru in Denmark, “We both wanted a quite family marriage but now the whole town seems to be a part of it.” Rahul had met Cecilia at his yoga class where she was his student.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Born and having studied till 10th standard in Manmad, Rahul like many other teenagers had not found his direction and had failed in English in SSC. “It was teachers’ guidance that changed my perspective. I realised that I had to study and went to the University of Pune to complete my post graduation in Education (Med),” he said. While studying at the university, Rahul came to know of various scholarships for higher studies and applied for some in Europe. At that time he was also working at the Shri Swami Samarth College of Education and Research, at Gauripada in Kalyan. He had presented a research paper for his scholarship titled ‘Teachers’ education policy – a comparative study of teachers in India and London’. The Sweedish government selected Rahul for a scholarship, which took him to Denmark. With an interest and education in yoga, Rahul also started taking classes in yoga at Aarhus. This is where he met Cecilia Peterson, the former football player for Denmark and now a teacher. “We found we had many commonalities as much as differences,” states Rahul. Cecilia is somewhat aware of Indian culture as her father Del Paterson has spent some time in India for his film. “My understanding of the Danish culture was helped by Cecilia. She made me see things from a different perspective,” said Rahul. When two years ago they decided to spent the rest of their lives together, the acceptance of their families was important for them. “Cecilia’s family had no problem in accepting me well as I was there in Denmark. To acquaint with my family, Cecilia came over to Manmad two years ago,” states Rahul. Cecilia is busy shopping for her wedding on December 20. Cecilia will come across as a Maharashtrian bride, wearing a saree and ornaments. “The marriage will be according to Buddhist traditions but with complete Maharashtrian flavor,” said Rahul with an excited Cecilia by his side.

US assures Sikh community of safety and security

Over 125 Sikhs from all over the country joined the White House celebrations, a regular feature of the Obama Administration.

Representational Image

The US has assured Sikh community of their safety and security in the wake of a spur in hate crimes against the community following a shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. “President Obama stands with, he stands behind you and he stands in solidarity with you. And we all have a responsibility to remind Americans what makes us great,” Valerie Jarrett, Senior political advisor to the US President told a gathering of Sikhs at a White House celebration of Guru Nanak’s birth-anniversary on Monday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Over 125 Sikhs from all over the country joined the White House celebrations, a regular feature of the Obama Administration. The programme included a Sikh hymn on classical instruments like Taus, Dilruba and Jodi performed by Manpreet Singh and Raghubir Singh from New Jersey. The Keynote address was given by Professor Amritjit Singh of Ohio University and discussed about “Guru Nanak: Equality and Social Justice”. Welcoming Sikhs to the White House, Jarrett hoped that they would feel at home at the White House. “You are part of such a vital member of our community and a big and vibrant part of what makes our country so great. So when your community comes under attack, we are all in danger,” she said. “When your place of worship is vandalised, or temples churches and mosques should be uneasy as well. It is in times like these when we should step back and need to focus on the teachings of Guru Nanak,” Jarrett said. “For when we focus on the values that bring us together as a nation, we can accomplish so much more than we are divided,” she said. Welcoming the assurance from the White House, Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said this sends an assuring signal to the entire community that this nation stands behind it. “President Obama gesture to hold Guru Nanak’s gurpurab every year at the White House displays his love for the community,” he said. The American-Sikh community, numbering nearly half-a- million, has seen a spur in hate-crimes against them after a Pakistani-origin couple who federal officials say were inspired by Islamist extremists opened indiscriminate firing on December 2 at a holiday luncheon and killed 14 people. Last week, a Sikh temple in California was vandalised and a group of Sikh men were harassed by security staff and denied access to a stadium in San Diego city in California for an American football game because they were wearing turbans. Earlier in 2012, a white supremacist has opened fire at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, killing six people.

Had Pranab become PM in 2004, Congress might have averted 2014 drubbing: Salman Khurshid in his new book

The former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.

Salman Khurshid
File Photo

Manmohan Singh’s selection over Pranab Mukherjee in 2004 to head the UPA government came as a surprise not only to the Congress but also to outsiders and many argue the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing if the choice had been otherwise, says former Union minister Salman Khurshid.”It’s always easy to be wise after the worst has happened. We must not forget the whole nation had applauded Dr Manmohan Singh as the game-changer finance minister during the Narasimha Rao regime (June 1991 to May 1996). But when Dr Singh contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from what was thought to be the safest seat in the country for him, South Delhi, he was defeated by a candidate whose name many would scarce recall (It was Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP),” writes Khurshid in his new book “The Other Side of the Mountain” and describes it as a concise biography not of one person but of the many who were part of the UPA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.Khurshid, who had served as external affairs minister in UPA-II, says he was lucky to have the confidence of the incumbent prime minister though Singh once “gently chastised” him for a comment made before the media indicating India could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. “As external affairs minister, I had a pretty free run on most matters, with the prime minister taking special interest in the neighbourhood, our rediscovery of America, the millennium conversation with China and the excitement of keeping pace with Japan.”I recall just once when Dr Singh gently chastised me for a press comment indicating we could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. It came in the wake of repeated prodding by (Afghan) President Hamid Karzai, although he never did make an issue of it,” Khurshid says. Khurshid felt there was “no harm in being candid about ourprincipled position from which there was no likelihood of departure. This was despite the fact that military personnel had told me we had innumerable tanks in reserve that were unlikely to be used by the army again, which could be refurbished without great expense”.”The soft-spoken prime minister advised me: ‘President Karzai is a suspicious man. You have to be careful as the foreign minister’. I mumbled and left the matter there, quite certain some busybody had carried the tale to the prime minister and he felt obliged to flag it,” writes Khurshid.The book began to take shape soon after the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were announced on 16 May and “we – the ministers in the UPA – returned to New Delhi from the electoral battlefields spread across the country as though we were phantoms in a twilight zone”.He says the then ministers were in substance, vanquished and repudiated warriors.”We were the past and it only remained to become ‘shadows of the past’. Such was the sombre mood in the Congress then,” he says.He also feels Congress is in the midst of a very serious existential crisis.”Some people label it as ‘leadership in crisis’; others believe it is about political content that the country has outgrown; and yet others have the stock explanation of being out of touch with the grassroots.”According to Khurshid, both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are, however, popularly endorsed and elected leaders of the Congress and there is no one even remotely equipped to provide alternative leadership.He says through his book, he would like to set the record straight because the truth must prevail over the widespread falsehood spread over the past few years.Allegations of scams like the 2G spectrum, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Coalgate considerably tainted the UPA’s image.”But in all the charges that were made and investigated by various law-enforcement agencies, there was not a whisper of money exchanging hands or any disproportionate assets found in the possession of the accused politician or the civil servant accused of misdemeanour or a similar offence.”Simply because a decision was wrong or would have been taken differently by another person was enough to trigger a presumption of illegality and corruption,” he says.

Educational conference calls for Urdu to be integrated with mainstream

Organised by First Dignity-All India Confederation for Women Empowerment through Education and Centre for Women Studies, under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the conference was called to discuss the issue of empowering women through education.

High drop out rates from Urdu medium schools in Maharashtra and absence of trained teachers to teach sciences and mathematics in Urdu medium was highlighted as a matter of concern at a two-day conference on ‘Understanding of Educational Aspirations and Attainment of Minority Girls in India’. Organised by First Dignity-All India Confederation for Women Empowerment through Education and Centre for Women Studies, under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the conference was called to discuss the issue of empowering women through education. The conference will evolve participation from representatives of minority institutions from several parts of the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Interestingly, while on the one hand Sanskrit scholars have been lobbying to promote Sanskrit as a medium of teaching, Urdu scholars feel that Urdu should not remain a medium of teaching at schools, but should only be taught as a language. “The government is taking about a three language formula. In Urdu medium schools, while Urdu can be the first language, our schools should teach English, Hindi or the regional language of the area,” said Professor Anita Nuna of Department of Women’s Studies, NCERT. Highlighting the problem faced by 4,900 Urdu medium schools of the state, where girls to boys ratio is one and a half is to one, Professor A Shaban, of School of Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences observed that lack of aspirations and absence of skill and employment opportunities for Urdu passouts are leading to a huge drop out rate amongst Muslim boys. “We need to realise the fact that employment opportunities for Urdu medium passouts are very limited. As boys start realising this, they move out. Most of these boys end up doing odd jobs and fail to make a career for themselves,” he said. Professor Shaban also opposed the quota system applied while recruiting teachers for Urdu medium schools. “Fifty percent teaching posts marked in these schools for reserved category remain vacant, as it is becomes difficult to find Muslim candidates from scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories. This hampers the teaching process, results in students dropping out and subsequently shutting down of the school,” he added. The conference held the view that these schools should either give opportunities to NGOs or should allow teachers from unreserved categories to fill these posts.The conference that is scheduled to end on Sunday evening, will then send its recommendation to the minority affairs ministry. “The ministry has asked the view point of stakeholders in on the issue of empowering women through education. The conclusion of the two-day workshop will be sent to the ministry. We want these suggestions to be incorporated in the New Education Policy being formulated by the Human Resource Development Ministry,” said Dr Shabistan Gaffar of First Dignity.

Lancet study puts India as the worst performing among BRICS nations on health indicators

Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.

Yet another report on India’s troubled health care system pointed out the country’s poor performance across health indicators, despite economic advantages. A report in the medical journal The Lancet — Assuring Health Coverage for all in India — by leading health researchers in the country put India as the worst performing country among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and well behind its more impoverished neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh when it came to health.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.The report also talks about high out-of-pocket expenditure that drives millions to impoverishment and a disproportionate disease burden. As the report says, India has 20 percent of the global disease burden, marginally better than 21 percent in 2005 while expenditure has dropped from 4.5 percent of the GDP in 2004-05 to 4 percent in 2015.Speaking to dna, Professor Reddy said that idea behind this most recent analysis of data was to make a case for better investment in health care better financial allocation and governance and improved utilisation of all resources.There are certain positives; increase in life expectancy at birth, lowering of infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality ratio, containing the spread of HIV, being declared free of polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus by the WHO. However, “India accounts for 27 per cent of all the neonatal deaths and 21 per cent of all the child deaths (younger than 5 years) in the world. Diarrhoea, pneumonia, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and neonatal sepsis account for 68 per cent of all deaths in children younger than 5 years in the country,” reads the study.The report calls for radical measures as the only way to assure the universal health targets that the country’s own draft National Health Policy endorses, by 2022. Suj measures start with building infrastructure for primary health care. This policy, according to Reddy, provides a sound roadmap and strategic components for the way forward. However, it’s been in cold storage for almost a year as the NITI Ayog differed from it.Earlier this year, media reports said that the Niti Ayog preferred more privatisation of health care as opposed to public spending.Expenditure on health care becomes the bone of contention. Though this government, as the report details, has launched several schemes to better healthcare across regions, ages, sexes caste and classes, it also slashed the annual health budget. Says Reddy that the argument is that resources are not used properly and often allocated money is returned. However, he advocates for more front end expenditure on human resources, drugs, technology, infrastructure.A day before The Lancet study, the Indian Health Report: Nutrition, too pointed out that India’s health indicators and its economic strength were not directly proportional. Stunting affects 38.7 percent of under five children pointing to widespread malnutrition. Both reports, importantly, highlighted that causes also lay in a range of socio-economic determinants, and “widespread inequities in health outcomes that are apparent in the large morbidity and mortality differentials across socio economic status, caste, class, sex, and geographic location”. “We’re doing poorly across the board according to aggregate indicators,” explained Reddy, however, results differed states from state, along caste and class lines. “We have to push to do better not only on aggregate indicators but also address these inequities and provide universal health access.

India’s malnutrition rates falling faster than before; Bihar, UP worst performers

The report, that details nutrition data from across 28 states and Delhi, shows that 38.7 per cent of children under 5 in India are stunted, which is a measure of chronic undernutrition.

India’s latest data on the state of nutrition came as a mixed bag, with malnutrition rates declining faster than before but not nearly fast enough for to meet global targets. The India Health Report: Nutrition 2015 was released on Thursday by union health minister JP Nadda and Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi. The report, and health experts from Public Foundation of India and the International Food Policy Research Institute, who jointly organised the launch, cautiously congratulated India for its progress, but stressed that a lot more needed to be done, and fast.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report, that details nutrition data from across 28 states and Delhi, shows that 38.7 per cent of children under 5 in India are stunted, which is a measure of chronic undernutrition. Additionally 19.8 per cent are wasted, indicating acute undernutrition and 42.56 per cent are underweight which is a composite of the two conditions.India’s average annual rate of decline for under-five stunting, between 2006-2014 has been 2.3 percent per year, much better than the 1.2 percent per year rate that the country saw during 1992 and 2006. However, India still lags behind its neighbours and even some sub-Saharan countries. Nepal has an average annual decline rate of 3.3 percent per year, and Bangladesh matches that of India.This, as Professor Ramanan Laxminarayan from PHFI, co-author of the report, said, meant that child undernutrition weakly correlated with income, as despite India’s economic dominance in subcontinent ïn terms of per capita income”.This has been observed among states too, as different states with similar income levels performed differently. Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, for example have similar income levels, yet Gujarat had a much higher rate of prevalence of stunting. Kerala and Goa had similar rates of stunting prevalence when Goa has almost double of Kerala’s per capita net state domestic product.Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were the worst performers, with high levels of stunting, calling for immediate action to be taken in those areas.Additionally, there is the added burden of obesity and overweight populace leading to a possible epidemic of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as Dr, Soumya Swaminathan, director general Indian Council of Medical Research pointed out. She also called for a relook at existing midday meal schemes, to reconstitute their carbohydrate content with proteins, and make sure micronutrients were sufficient,.Dr. Laurence Haddad, co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report, also released today, and a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute urged India to increase its commitment and its spending on countering malnutrition.Health minister Nadda, took note of all the points, especially Haddad’s argument of spending on nutrition being a great investment for the country — one rupee spent on a person would yielded Rs 34, a benefit cost ratio of 34 is to 1. He also spoke about the various interventions by his ministry, such as a mandatory 48 hour period to stay in hospitals during childbirth to provide counselling and initiate breastfeeding, establishing nutrition rehabilitation centres at district and sub-district levels, and the National Iron Plus Initiative to control anemia at all stages of life.Experts also called on the government to check other social determinants, such as mothers with less than ten years of education, underage mothers, adolescent girls with low Body Mass Index, open defecation, so as to save people from the irreversible effects of cognitive impairment and susceptibility to chronic disease, and the country from a disastrous economic burden.

Commercial sex workers give Rs1 lakh for Chennai flood-hit

In the past 23 years, these women from Ahmednagar have contributed more than Rs20 lakh for various causes; Mumbai’s Food Army too keeps up their good work

Commercial sex workers hand over the cheque of Rs1 lakh to the Ahmednagar collector on Tuesday

Commercial sex workers in Ahmednagar have contributed Rs1 lakh in aid of the flood victims in Chennai. On Tuesday, the cheque of this amount was handed over to district collector Anil Kawade for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.There are about 3,500 CSWs in Ahmednagar. Although their financial condition is not anything to talk about, about 1,200 of them came forward and collected the amount, some by giving their day’s earnings and others by slashing a day’s meal.Motivated by professor Girish Kulkarni, founder member of NGO Snehalaya that looks after the well-being of such women and runs schools and hostels for their children, this group of women had first donated some amount of their income to help the victims of the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prof Kulkarni stated that what is of importance is their feeling for others. “This help comes from women who themselves are in no great situation. They suffer throughout their life. They belong to that section of the society where they are not accepted by others; they are rather targets of criticism. Itis quite admirable that these women look beyond what society has given them and want to give to the society,” he said.In the past, these women have contributed towards the funds to help victims of Kargil war, the earthquake in Gujarat, Tsunami, Oddisha storm, drought in Maharashtra, floods in Leh and Uttarakhand and other such disasters. In the past 23 years, they have contributed more than Rs20 lakh for various causes.”Once one of these women read in the newspapers that a son a poor domestic help had passed the exams to study in Texas University, US, but he did not have the required amount of money. The group of women then collected Rs35,000 and handed it over to the boy and his mother. What is most appealing is the fact that in spite of being in a dismal situation themselves, where they don’t even earn enough for a decent living, these women show that humanity is alive,” states Kulkarni

Veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan suffers paralytic stroke, rushed to hospital

Bardhan moved to Delhi politics in the 1990s and became the deputy general secretary of the CPI.

CPI leader AB Bardhan

Veteran communist leader AB Bardhan was hospitalised in New Delhi on Monday morning after he suffered a paralytic stroke.92-year old Bardhan, who lives in the CPI Headquarters in Delhi, felt uneasy around 0800 hours and then lost consciousness. He was immediately rushed to the G B Pant Hospital in central Delhi, CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjaan said.He described Bardhan’s condition as “critical” and said the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of India was admitted in the emergency wing and being taken care of by senior doctors. Bardhan’s wife, a professor in Nagpur University, died in 1986. The couple has a son and a daughter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan was a leading figure of the trade union movement and Left politics in Maharashtra and had won as an independent candidate in the Maharashtra Assembly in 1957. He later rose to become the General Secretary and then the President of the All India Trade Union Congress, the oldest trade union in India.Bardhan moved to Delhi politics in the 1990s and became the deputy general secretary of the CPI. He succeeded Indrajit Gupta as the General Secretary of the party in 1996.

Why the Chennai floods should be an eye opener for city planners

The experts have, however, also highlighted the positive use of social media Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook — as a resource tool for the people to organise and help each other.

PTI
The severe flooding in Chennai caused by torrential rains is a result of climate change and should be an eye opener for city planners, experts have warned.Some experts have opined that Chennai being one of the outsourcing hub of India and a major destination of foreign investment, the current disastrous situation could also affect the national economy.”Chennai has seen 17 days straight of rain, precisely the kind of extreme weather event that experts say will only become more common in a warming world,” said Nambi Appardurai, India’s adaptation strategy head for World Resources Institute (WRI). “Having been in the adaptation business for about 10 years now, I find these events reinforce the challenges we face in adapting to a changing climate. No doubt about it, there’s so much to learn from this experience.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”These sudden, erratic rainfalls are something we’ve seen happening over the years and the fact that this is an El Nino year has also contributed to extreme events. Certainly, though, climate has an impact as well,” he said.The experts have, however, also highlighted the positive use of social media Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook — as a resource tool for the people to organise and help each other.Aswin Punathambekar, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, said with over half a million tweets in less than two days, citizens in Chennai and across the country mobilised to produce an infrastructure of care.”The hashtags #chennairains and #chennairainshelp are a truly creative, citizen-driven response to a crisis and at the same time a resounding call for the government machinery in India to rethink urban planning, develop better systems to deal with natural disasters and to lead the way in tackling climate change,” he said.Puneet Manchanda, a professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business, said the economic impact of the heavy rain in Chennai is going to be significant.”Obviously, industries such as tourism will face adverse outcomes as Chennai is the entry point for most tourists. The local infrastructure, especially roads, has also taken a big hit and this will continue to impact the local economy much after the rain subsides,” he added.Matthew Boulton, whose research in India involves vaccination and other public health issues, felt that the risk of drowning and electrical hazards may be two of the most immediate dangers, but flooding and standing water of this magnitude can significantly increase the risk for serious waterborne illness, like childhood diarrhoea.”Although many scientists are saying that these rains are a direct result of global warming, I think that climate change has exacerbated the intensity of such extreme weather events,” said Mayank Vikas.Meanwhile, the Srivari Sri Balaji Temple, located in Franklin Township, New Jersey, has announced to organise a prayer on behalf of the Chennai flood victims today.”The prayer is being held to offer spiritual support to the thousands of individuals impacted by the floods in Chennai,” the temple said in a media release.

VC’s appointment row: SC notice to Aligarh Muslim University

The petitioner, Syed Abrar Ahmed, had argued before the high court that the regulations – which pertained to minimum qualifications and maintenance of standards in the higher education – had become binding on the AMU when it had adopted these on December 6, 2010.

AMU

The Supreme Court sought Aligarh Muslim University’s response on a petition seeking a direction to quash the appointment of its vice-chancellor. A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana issued notice to the university directing it to file its reply in six weeks on the appeal challenging the Allahabad High Court order which had dismissed the plea of an alumni of the university.The high court on October 16 had junked the petition challenging the appointment of Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, noting there was “nothing wrong with the procedure (adopted)”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The appointment of Shah as VC of AMU on May 11, 2012 was challenged on the ground that according to the regulations of University Grants Commission (UGC), the VC ought to have worked for at least 10 years as a professor in a university or on an equivalent post in a research or academic institute.The petitioner, Syed Abrar Ahmed, had argued before the high court that the regulations – which pertained to minimum qualifications and maintenance of standards in the higher education – had become binding on the AMU when it had adopted these on December 6, 2010.Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the high court had “erroneously refused to quash the appointment of the VC, in contradiction of the mandatory provisions of the UGC Regulation, 2010″.Bhushan, assisted by advocate Govind Jee contended that the appointment of the VC of AMU is contrary to the UGC Regulations, 2010 (the present VC was appointed on May 11, 2012 in contravention of the UGC Regulations, 2010 so far as the qualifications are concerned).”The UGC Regulations, 2010 was accepted and adopted by the AMU and the same was put in abeyance by the University, deliberately by an administrative order,” he argued. “Pass an order restraining the present VC not to make any appointment and promotion, take any policy decision which may have long term financial or other implications on the executive and academic functioning of the University,” the plea said.

Mr Musliar, here she is — a woman cardiac surgeon, the likes of whom don’t exist for you

By Dr Ratna Magotra

I write this on behalf of many women cardiac surgeons practicing in India and abroad. Our existence was denied a few days back by a Kerala-based Sunni leader A P Aboobacker Musliar when he questioned if there was even a single woman among the thousands of cardiac surgeons.

I personally feel that it does not matter at all even if Musliar’s statement was true and there is no woman cardiac surgeon. It does not upset me for it does not diminish a “woman” in any way. But I am definitely incensed that he thinks women are “fit only for delivering babies”! This is regressive and most offensive and I am glad that so many Muslim leaders and scholars have panned the Maulana. Such irresponsible statements have become so common that the first reaction is to ignore such people and not put their ignorance on a premium. Well wishers and friends, however, demand that the record should be set straight on such misleading statements.

Image: FirstpostImage: Firstpost

Image courtesy: Dr Ratna Magotra

There are many women cardiac surgeons in India and indeed in the world. I have been a member of “Women in Cardiac Surgery “, a forum at the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons (AATS) that used to meet on the sidelines of the AATS annual conferences. I studied for my MBBS degree at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi, where women headed most of the surgery departments. My professional career after post-graduation in General Surgery and Cardio-Thoracic surgery involved practice in highly competitive and specialized field of cardio-thoracic surgery in large teaching hospitals like Nair and KEM hospitals in Mumbai. The patients who came to these hospitals from all over the country and neighboring countries never showed any discomfort for being operated upon by a woman, contrary to what Mr. Aboobacker may like to believe. They trusted the competence as well as the compassionate hands of women cardiac surgeons. It may also surprise the Maulana that many years back, a revered Peer Saheb from Lucknow came to KEM hospital for his bypass surgery. While I was a little apprehensive, seeing the big retinue that accompanied him, he seemed to have no such worry. He and his followers showed their gratitude by showering me with rose petals after the successful operation! I was indeed touched by his love and respect and the fact that he did not have a trace of any bias against women.

I have also had the pleasure of training many men and women in the specialty.

There are distinguished women colleagues in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and elsewhere who have worked and performed with distinction in the demanding specialty of cardio-thoracic surgery.

Maulana Aboobacker may be shocked to know that there are Muslim women cardiac surgeons who I mention with great pride if only to expose his ignorance and arrogance. I had a colleague from Turkey training with me at the Guy’s hospital, London way back in 1982; I met another young woman from Saudi Arabia who was training at the Boston Children Hospital to become a pediatric cardiac surgeon! Recently my colleague, Dr. Vivek Jawli from Bengaluru lauded Dr. Nemam Ghafouri, a, Kurdish heart surgeon who had trained in Switzerland and was training with him in Beating heart bypass surgery. She has since gone back to Kurdistan to realize her dream of building a heart centre for her people.

It is perhaps the right time that Musliar and others of his ilk get educated to shed their prejudices. Women should be left alone and unshackled to pursue their dreams.

Dr. Ratna Magotra is former Professor and Chief Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, KEM Hospital, Mumbai. She’s currently Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Smt. S R Mehta & Sir K P Cardiac Institute, Mumbai

What tolerance? We killed Gandhi five-and-half months after Independence: Tom Alter

“What tolerance are you talking about,” asks theatre personality Tom Alter, responding to a question on the intolerance debate in the country. “We killed (Mahatma) Gandhi within five-and-a-half months after Independence. If we can kill the Father of the Nation then who are others?”

He was speaking to Firstpost in Patna after performing in a play on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. The play was organised at SK Memorial Hall on 10 November to commemorate the birth anniversary of the first education minister of free India.

Tom Alter in the play. Firstpost/Tarique AnwarTom Alter in the play. Firstpost/Tarique Anwar

Tom Alter in the play. Firstpost/Tarique Anwar

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s famous line, “if you believe in the power of truthfulness, then why do you feel ashamed,” Alter said that “artists have always faced challenges but they keep doing their job”.

He said in India intolerance was nothing new, as it has “always been an intolerant society”. “All government have tried to curb the voice of dissent and criticism. My play Babar ki Aulad (Sons of Babar) was banned in Maharashtra when the Congress government was in power. I got death threats for my play on MF Hussain. And therefore there is nothing new in the ongoing intolerance debate, and I am not disappointed. I have been doing such shows for the past 15 years,” said the 64-year-old artist, adding “intolerance is in our blood but we should have control over it”.

Babar ki Aulad, the two-hour play written by former Union Minister Salman Khursheed and translated into Urdu by author Professor Ather Farooqui, is largely about the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, languishing in exile in Rangoon. The play swings between past and present, logic and emotion, fact and fiction and fantasy and reality. Directed by Dr M Sayeed Alam, the play was an insightful retort to the Hindutva propaganda, especially at the height of the Babri Masjid controversy.

The play on MF Hussain, produced and directed by Nadira Babbar, talked about the life of the celebrated artist. How the restless and carefree Hussain went through various phases of his life, experimenting and exploring. The play gave an insight into his early days in Indore’s Pandharpur, his schooling in Baroda, romance with the brush, his women, marriage, Indianness, ethos and his move to Mumbai. Following the controversy over his nude paintings of ‘Mother India’, the title of the play was changed from Maqbool Se Fida Tak to Pencil Se Brush Tak.

Asked about the spate of ‘award wapsi’ by poets, historians, authors, scientists and others, the Padma Shree awardee said, “anybody could retain or return their awards, depending on their wish. There is no need to either praise or criticise it”.

Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, according to him failed to control the fringe elements, Alter said, “For the first time, we have got a Prime Minister whom people do not believe in. He is not at all bothered about Idea of India.”

About the mandate Biharis gave to Nitish Kumar-led Mahagathbandhan (JDU-RJD-Congress alliance), he said, “It is a message for political parties that the politics of hatred and communalism will not work anymore.”

St Stephen’s molestation row: Valson Thampu says willing to facilitate victim’s PhD

Thampu, who was accused of shielding the accused professor in the case, had been maintaining that the girl was being “mentored” by a few persons who had vested interests, which were used against him.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
St Stephen’s Principal Valson Thampu on Thursday said he is willing to workout the logistics for completion of PhD of the research scholar who had alleged that she was sexually harassed by her guide and the principal had shielded the accused professor.”I shall be happy to welcome her back to the lab in St Stephen’s and facilitate the resumption of her research. Shall begin to work out the logistics, once I hear from the girl. May God protect her and give her good sense,” Thampu said in a Facebook post.Thampu, who was accused of shielding the accused professor in the case, had been maintaining that the girl was being “mentored” by a few persons who had vested interests, which were used against him.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reiterating the same, he further said, “the story of the girl now seems to have evaporated. Her unscrupulous handlers have dropped her, not even like ‘hot potato’. I knew from the outset – and stated it ever so often in emphatic terms – that this would be her tragic plight; for I knew the diabolic hands that were manipulating her.””I cannot forget her. It is difficult to forget victims. What has happened to this girl is a classic illustration of the moral depravity that has invaded our public life, including institutions.”The girl had approached police in July, alleging that she was molested by Satish Kumar, an assistant professor in the college’s Chemistry Department. She had also accused college principal, Valson Thampu of “shielding” the teacher when the matter was reported to him.

Intolerance debate: 47 senior academicians hit out at ‘leftist’ scholars alleging hypocrisy

“The closely-linked statements(by the scholars) appearing with clockwork regularity in India and abroad” are a well orchestrated campaign to create a bogeyman and cry wolf.

Terming the followers of this school of thought as “leftists,” the academicians said that they preferred to dismiss dissenting Indian historians as “nationalist or communal”.

Image Courtesy: Twitter
A group of 47 senior academicians on Tuesday accused ‘leftist’ scholars of making hypocritical attempts to claim high moral ground over the issue of intolerance, saying an “orchestrated campaign” was on “to create a bogeyman and cry wolf”.In a statement released here, the academicians associated with various prestigious institutions said that as historians and archaeologists they wanted to respond to the scholars’ “hypocritical attempts to claim moral high ground”.”The closely-linked statements(by the scholars) appearing with clockwork regularity in India and abroad” are a well orchestrated campaign to create a bogeyman and cry wolf. “They (statements) are neither intellectual nor academic in substance, but ideological and, much more so, political,” the academicians claimed in the statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The statement said that on October 26, 53 Indian historians had voiced alarm at what they perceived the country’s “highly vitiated atmosphere” and attempts to impose a “legislated history.This statement, they said, was followed by an open letter from overseas historians and social scientists warning against a “dangerously pervasive atmosphere of narrowness, intolerance and bigotry” and a monolithic view of India’s history. Many of the signatories to these two statements, they claimed, have been part of an politico-ideological apparatus, which has come to dominate most historical bodies and imposed its blinkered view of Indian historiography on the whole academic discipline.Terming the followers of this school of thought as “leftists,” the academicians said that they preferred to dismiss dissenting Indian historians as “nationalist or communal”.”While we reject attempts to portray attempts to portray India’s past as a glorious and perfect golden age, we condemn the far more pernicious imposition by the leftist school of a “legislated history”, which has presented an alienating and debilitating self-image to generations of Indian students, and prompted contempt for their civilisational heritage,” the scholars said.The statement contained the names of among others Nanditha Krishna, Director, CPR Institute of Indological Research; Dilip Chakrabarti, Emeritus Professor, Cambridge University; Madhu Kishwar, CSDS and O P Kejariwal, Central Information Commissioner and Nehru fellow. Institutions like the Indian History Congress and IndianCouncil for Historical Research (ICHR) have become arenas of power play as well as political and financial manipulation, the scholars claimed. The academicians also claimed that the “leftist school” had itself imposed a “legislated history” and called for a unbiased and new historiography of India.Further, claiming that the leftist scholars had engaged in various unscholarly and abusive practices, the 47 academicians, in their joint statement, also charged that the tradition of plurality that India has cherished has never been practised by this school.

Maharashtra government takes history lessons on Maratha reservation

The Devendra Fadnavis government is leaving no stone unturned on the Maratha reservation policy, ahead of a Supreme Court (SC) hearing next month. The 16% Maratha quota was stayed by the Bombay High Court last year. The government has asked the archives directorate to find out some “evidences” in history books, which can prove the state’s stand in the SC that Marathas need reservation. Archives officials have been specifically directed to look into the literature of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and also the gazettes of early 20th century when Shahuji Maharaj was the ruler of Kolhapur.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The move is aimed at getting some “historical proof” for the economic backwardness of the community to justify the government’s stand for the Maratha quota in public service and educational institutions so that SC can be convinced. The direction has been given by education minister Vinod Tawde, who also heads the culture department, under which the archives bureau falls. Tawde also chairs the government committee on Maratha reservation. The committee has to carry out a detailed study covering various aspects, which were clearly missing from the Narayan Rane committee report that didn’t stand in the High Court. The Congress-NCP government had brought the policy, which entails 16% reservation to Marathas as an “economically and backward community”, a category introduced for the first time, which was over and above the 51% quota for SC/ST and OBC. History has always equated Marathas with the warrior caste Kshatriya. “However, literature suggests Marathas are Kunbis. Ambedkar had also reportedly written about that. Since Kunbis are covered under quota, Marathas should also be given the same benefit, feels the government,” a highly placed official told dna. On the other hand, gazettes of Shahuji Maharaj’s time is being dug up to get “evidence” that the Marathas were among those needy students from the backward castes, who were given scholarship by the Kolhapur princely state. “Shahuji offered scholarships to backward caste students and Marathas were among them. Maharaj was also a Maratha adopted by the widow of Raja Shivaji 4th. He himself faced humiliation by Brahmins those days,” historians are said to have told the committee. The committee is getting feedback from historians, academicians and other experts besides Maratha leaders. Marathas account for 30% of the state’s population and is the single-largest vote bank in Maharashtra. A senior officer in ministry of law and judiciary said: “Such evidences will not withstand in the court. The government will have to substantiate the demand with data, which is scientifically conducted through surveys.” And the surveys are yet to be done. A professor of Mumbai University said: “Logically, Marathas should be given the benefit of quota under OBCs but the government can’t do that for political reasons.”Tawde did not respond to calls and message. Community updatesOf Maharashtra’s 17 chief ministers since it became a state in 1960, 10 have been Marathas. In this entire period, more than half of all MLAs have also been from the community.Almost 50% educational institutions are controlled by Maratha leaders. Of the 200-odd sugar factories, the mainstay of the state’s economy, 168 are controlled by Marathas. Of the district cooperative banks, 70% are controlled by Marathas.The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission had argued in 2008: “Marathas are both economically and politically a forward caste… They had never faced social stigma to invite a backward class status.”

Strong quake strikes north Afghanistan

A powerful earthquake has struck northern Afghanistan, with tremors felt as widely as Pakistan and northern India.

Pulses: Experts say government firefight too late

Govt says 5,000 tonne imported dal has arrived and 3,290 raids have been conducted on hoarders; economists say problem structural

Responding to a food crisis in the making, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, announced that 5,000 tonne of imported dal had arrived in the country and was being distributed.He said there had been 3,290 raids on hoarders across the country in the past few days. He was briefing the press after a meeting of group of ministers to discuss measures to check the spiralling prices of pulses in India attending a Union Cabinet meeting held to review the situation.The Group of Ministers meet, comprising Union parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu, transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, came on the heels of 35,000 mt of pulses seized from hoarders across the country. Maharashtra led the pack with 23,340 mt of pulses seized by the state government during 276 raids carried out in 16 districts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Media reports from the Cabinet meeting said that Maharashtra government’s enforcement of de-hoarding measures was taken note off, and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is working with other states to enforce such measures against hoarders and black marketeers of pulses.The Cabinet also took note of the falling prices of some variety of pulses; tur dal went from Rs 210 to Rs 205, moong fell to Rs 130, masoor to Rs 110 and gram to Rs 82 while urad remained static at Rs 198, according to the government data.Though the government has now created a buffer stock of 40,000 tonne, imposed stock limits on traders as well as departmental stores, licensed food processors, importers and exporters and is importing pulses at zero import duty, these measures seem too little too late. According to agricultural economists this crisis is a result of short- and long-term failure in planning by the government.The current shortfall of 2 mt has resulted from back to back bad monsoons and drought conditions in 2014 and 2015, something predicted well in advance by the weather department and, therefore, anticipated by the government. “They should have stocked up on pulses earlier this year and brought them into the market, when the prices were low,” said Himanshu, associate professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, who specialises in agriculture and developmental economics, along with poverty, inequality, employment. “This is festival time when demand for pulses is even higher. High prices give rise to all sorts of tendencies, such as hoarding,” he said, as is evidenced in Wednesday’s seizure of pulses hoarded in various states.”This is a small, tightly controlled market. Once the international market knows that prices are high, and there is great demand, there is additional pressure,” said Himanshu.Tracing the recent history of pulses’ demand in India, Himanshu said till the mid-1990s, the country was self-sufficient. Post that, as incomes rose, and diets diversified, the demand for pulses rose too, but the supply did not keep up. Pulses, grown in rain-fed areas, with less that 10% of the irrigated land used for them, were especially susceptible to monsoon failures. Successive governments too did not bring pulses under the scope of the targeted public distribution system nor offer the stability of the minimum support price to farmers. These measures remained focused on rice and wheat crops, ignoring pleas by nutritionists and agricultural experts to also look at pulses.Himanshu said that since pulses have not been popular in western countries, they have never been the focus of scientific research, to create better yielding crop, such as hybrid strains of wheat and rice. No such research has taken off in India either, he said.Therefore, a combination of government oversight and lack of innovation kept the supply of pulses in the country limited, and outpaced by the demand.

Urdu poet Munawwar Rana returns Sahitya Akademi award; 2 more hand over honour

Participating in a televised debate with other writers and politicians, Rana, a big name in contemporary Urdu poetry, said he had decided to return the award because he was dismayed over the recent developments in the country.

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia
Urdu poet Munawwar Rana on Sunday joined over 30 authors who have returned Sahitya Akademi award while Hindi writer Kashinath said he was handing over the honour in protest against “irresponsible” comments by various ministers on writers who have been agitating against “rising intolerance”.Participating in a televised debate with other writers and politicians, Rana, a big name in contemporary Urdu poetry, said he had decided to return the award because he was dismayed over the recent developments in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am returning the Sahitya Akademi award. I won’t accept any award from the government in the future,” he said.”I come from Rae Bareli, politics runs through the street drains in my city but I never cared for it,” the 62-year-old poet, who was awarded the Sahitya Akademi in 2014 for his book ‘Shahdaba’, said.”Writers and litterateurs have been associated with one party or the other. Some are said to be linked with Congress while others with BJP. I am a Muslim and some may label me as a Pakistani. Many areas in this country are not linked with electricity but Muslims here are linked to Dawood Ibrahim,” the poet said.Rana has voiced concerns against the “growing religious intolerance in India.”Meanwhile, protesting the “irresponsible” remarks made by various Union ministers against fellow Sahitya Akademi award winning writers, who have over the past two weeks announced their decision to return the honours, Hindi writer Kashinath Singh said he will hand over his award and cash prize on Monday.”Certain ministers from the Centre have made irresponsible remarks against the authors who returned their awards. The authors’ decision have not been taken seriously,” the Varanasi based writer, who won the 2011 award for his fiction “Rehan Par Raghu”, said.Singh, a former professor at the Banaras Hindu University, known for his novels and short stories, rejected as “very ridiculous”, the allegations that authors were “politically motivated”.”It is ridiculous to say that the authors are motivated by political parties. Writers are not so foolish to get swayed by anybody. Their actions are against the Akademi’s stance on the tragic incidents in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Dadri. They are not against the Akademi itself,” Singh said.In a related development, Telugu translator Katyayani Vidmahe has also announced her decision to return her 2013 Kendriya Sahitya Akademi translation award in solidarity with other authors who had given back their Sahitya awards.”I am returning my award in dissent to a range of incidents like the silencing of the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, the killing of Kannada writer and Sahitya award winning author M M Kalburgi. This is against the violence of writers and for the freedom of expression,” Vidmahe said.The Warangal-based writer had received an Akademi award for her ‘Sahityakashamlo Sagam – Streela Astitwa Sahityam – Kavitwam – Katha’, a compilation of essays about literature on gender identity published in 2010.At least 34 authors including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, Uday Prakash, Keki N Daruwallah, K Veerabhadrappa have returned their Akademi awards, and five writers have stepped down from official positions of the literary body, which in turn has convened an emergency meeting on October 23 to discuss the developments.While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley described the protests by writers as “manufactured paper rebellion”, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dubbed it as “motivated” and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma had accused the authors of “selective outrage”.

Activist Rahul Easwar attacked for not supporting beef festival in Kerala, alleges ‘left wing fascism’

Rahul says he had gone to MSM college in Kayamkulam for an event where he was to speak on cyber security and pre-marital education.

Rahul Easwar

The issue of beef ban has become a hot burning topic across India with unfortunate incident in Dadri even making international headlines and Kerala is no exception to it. On one side there are students and lecturer Deepa Nishanth who are supporting the beef fest in Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, Kerala. And on the other, ABVP and Yuva Morcha are demanding that the college take action against her.Now, activist and author Rahul Easwar has been attacked in a college in Kerala for not supporting beef ban. This on a day when a MLA in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was attacked by BJP MLAs for hosting a beef party. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Speaking to dna, Rahul says that he had gone to MSM college in Kayamkulam for an event where he was supposed to speak on cyber security and pre-marital education. When he came out of the lecture, Easwar saw that the college gates were being closed and he was stopped by around 25 students. They asked Easwar to support the beef fest and he flatly refused stating that he was neither supporting the beef fest nor the pork fest. He was then heckled, abused, stones were thrown at him and his car was vandalised.Easwar tells dna, “I suspect it was planned attack because when I went into the college to give my lecture there was no issue. I have been voicing my opinion on various TV channels that I don’t support the beef fest or the pork fest and I think this is as a result of that. Can’t I live in Kerala without supporting the beef fest? I believe in Article 48 of the Indian Constitution. On one hand, we have cultural fascism and this is just counter-cultural fascism from the Left wing which I totally oppose. We don’t need beef fests or pork fests but we need a middle ground.”
Easwar goes on to add, “Some people are making this attack on me as a Hindu-Muslim issue. It is absolutely nothing of the sort. The college I went to is a Muslim college and the college principal, Professor Shaik Ahmed, has been extremely helpful and cooperative. He called up and apologised for what happened.” He also stated that he has filed a police complaint and the police have arrested a person in connection with the attack on him.

Tamil Nadu: ‘Baahubali’ makes it into an exam paper at Vellore Institute of Technology!

It was a 20-mark question where the students were asked to design the set for optimum structural stability to ensure the safety of the actors.

Baahubali

SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali broke many box office records. Now, it has also broken another record – it has entered the exam paper in the civil engineering department of the well-known Vellore Institute of Technology!A report in The New Indian Express says that civil engineering students who were writing the internal exam were surprised on seeing a question relating to the film in their structural analysis question paper. The question asked related to designing a dramatic set-piece for the war scene in the climax of the film. The assistant professor Mahendra Gattu of the course has told the daily that he wanted to make learning enjoyable and used the film to drive home a theory. It was a 20-mark question where the students were asked to design the set for optimum structural stability to ensure the safety of the actors.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report states that the question had two parts – ‘where the load is acting on the frame so that maximum momentum can be generated’ and ‘what load acts on the frame, which would make it weak.’The professor has stated this is not the first time he has used pop culture in his teaching methods. A lot of his questions are related to day-to-day life, adds the report.

Gautam Buddha’s ashes to travel from Sri Lanka to Maharashtra next week

The mortal remains will be brought to Nagpur, ahead of the international Buddhist conference, and then taken in a rath to various districts in state and also to neighbouring Raipur

A graphical representation of the rath in which Gautam Buddha’s mortal remains will be taken across the state

Presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Maharashtra, especially the Buddhists, Gautam Buddha’s ashes will be being brought to India next week for a 10-day trip of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.The urn containing the mortal remains will be brought to Nagpur airport on October 14. Then, it will be taken on a rath across the state, covering Nagpur, Bhandara, Sakoli, Gondia, Chandrapur, Rajnandgaon, Durg, Bhilai and Raipur. It will return to Dragan Palace in Kamptee and then Nagpur, and will be sent back to Sri Lanka on October 24.Minister for social justice and special assistance Raj Kumar Badole is instrumental in making this trip happen. “I visited Sri Lanka last month and met the organisers of the Lankan Mahabodhi Society. They agreed to facilitate this trip. This is the first time the ashes of Buddha and his disciples will be on display.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buddhist groups in India are coordinating the programme. The ashes will be on display at the first International Buddhists Conference 2015 in Nagpur on October 20-21, a day before Dussehra. Nagpur is where Dr BR Ambedkar accepted Buddhism on October 14, 1956, along with several followers.”India is where Buddha spent his life, attained enlightenment and mahaparinirvan. This is the land where Buddhism took birth. The government is supporting the event with an aim to project our heritage,” said Badole, who is also a follower of Buddha.The urn will have tight security, said Badole. Insurance cover has also been given, though the amount could not be obtained immediately.The ashes coming to India belong to Neelagiri Seya, the largest Buddhist Stupa in the eastern province of Sri Lanka. The stupa, located in the Lahugala Forest Reserve, has been neglected for over three decades, owing to LTTE activities in the area. It is supposed to be built in third century BC. It was excavated by the country’s archaeological department a couple of years back.On the historical significance of these ashes, Yojna Bhagat, a professor of Pali and Buddhist studies at Mumbai university, said, “These are not ashes but relics of Buddha. When Buddha died in 6th century BC, his ashes were distributed in eight parts for eight royal kingdoms and preserved at eight different stupas in North India. In 3rd century BC, King Ashoka dug out one stupa and redistributed the relics to 84,000 places across the world, which helped spread Buddhism. His son Mahendra took a tooth relic of Buddha to Sri Lanka, which is still kept in a big temple. Relics which were found much later in the archaeological excavation in Lanka are often taken abroad for followers.””The relics in India are bound to stupas. A few excavated by the Archeological Survey of India are kept in museums and at the Golden Pagoda in Gorai and are not allowed to travel,” added Bhagat.

Dadri lynching: Now, Digvijaya says Cong will back nationwide cow slaughter ban if BJP proposes

The cows of Bihar now have a stake in the upcoming election.

BJP leader Sushil Modi has said that if the NDA wins in the state cow slaughter will be banned.

Once politicians promised to give us jobs, highways, polytechnics and hospitals to get our vote. Now they want votes by promising to take something away.

The political foodfight that has erupted over beef shows that when it comes to pandering to the electorate to get votes, there is no sacred cow our good netas will not milk. Only one thing is for sure. If all of this is to make you think our political class genuinely cares a lot about cows, that’s a load of bull. As Shashi Tharoor understood from the furore over his innocuous “cattle class” tweet, the cow is just a handy way to settle political scores. It is the political Kamdhenu that keeps giving.

When it comes to beef, politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths. “Even Hindus eat beef,” said Lalu Prasad Yadav of the RJD.

When the NDA attacked him, Lalu backtracked and said he meant meat, not beef. But happy to fish in troubled waters, advocate Sudhir Ojha has filed a complaint in Muzaffarpur saying Lalu’s comment was “hate speech” and meant to spread “communal tension to woo voters”. As if Sushil Modi was trying to placate tensions by promising a cow slaughter ban.

During the Maharashtra beef ban hullabaloo, Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told those dying to eat beef to go to Pakistan. At that time his colleague Kiren Rijiu retorted angrily “I eat beef. I’m from Arunachal Pradesh. Can somebody stop me? So let us not be touchy about somebody’s practices.” Within days Rijiju beat a hasty retreat saying he was misquoted and “Hindu faiths and sentiments must be respected in Hindu majority states.”

Digvijaya Singh in a file photo. PTIDigvijaya Singh in a file photo. PTI

Digvijaya Singh in a file photo. PTI

This is not about saving cows at a time when the indigenous Indian cow is actually endangered. It’s about naked political horse-trading. Not to be outdone by the BJP, the Congress’ Digvijaya Singh wants to remind people that Congress governments were the ones banning cow slaughter in some 24 states including Bihar. But the party’s spokesperson Pramod Tiwari has said it is not the party’s habit to interfere with the eating habits of individuals as long as they do not interfere with existing laws. That is classic doublespeak about wanting to have your cow and eat your beef too.

All this has led to a bizarre patchwork of cattle laws across the country. Some states have a ban on all cattle slaughter. Some allow slaughter of cows that are old or sick. Some ban only cow slaughter. Some require a “fit for slaughter” certificate. A few require no certificate at all. And that’s about slaughter not about consuming beef. That sounds confusing but there was no evidence that Indians were tearing out their hair trying to keep their steak orders straight as they moved from state to state. But the Congress is floating the idea of one ban to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Digvijaya Singh says his party is open to a discussion about a national ban on cow slaughter. He boasted that the Congress Working Committee had passed a resolution in the 1930s seeking a ban on cow slaughter. What stopped the Congress from enforcing such a ban or even having a national discussion about it in the 60 odd years it has been in power? Now the beleaguered party thinks it can regain lost electoral ground, especially Hindu votes, on the back of the long-suffering cow.

Of course no one wants to have a real debate about beef and its contested place in Indian history. Ashok Sanjay Guha, professor emeritus at JNU, reminds us in The Telegraph that Swami Vivekananda, so beloved of the Prime Minister, said, “There was a time without eating beef no Brahmin could remain a Brahmin; when a king, a hermit, or a great man visited, the best bullock was killed in his honour.” The great sage Yajnavalkya in the Satpatha Brahman responds to a lecture against beef eating by saying “I eat only really tender beef.”

“Buddism and Jainism led this movement (against cow slaughter)”, writes Guha. Its driving force, more than religion was economic and ecological because of shortage of pasture and frequent famines. Religion helped sell the movement to the masses.

That’s not to say “Yajnavalkya ate tender beef” is a valid argument for swaying us on one side or the other of a ban. But it is an inconvenient truth that is shouted down by the likes of BJP leader Sangeet Som who find more political dividend in

calling

other Indians “those cow killers”. If Yajnavalkya had been around today, what would Som have called him?

While the politicians are rustling cows for votes, our celebrities have also decided to come out of the beef-eating closet. “I eat beef and I don’t consider cow as mother,” says retired justice Markandey Katju. “I just ate beef. Come and murder me,” tweets Shobhaa De.

Eating beef has bizarrely become the latest status symbol of civil rights, Page 3’s great stand against illiberalism. Having said that it’s important that some normally outspoken stalwarts in the higher echelons of the BJP, who are well-known for loving their steak, should stand up to the bullying Soms within their own ranks. Otherwise just as LGBT activists once outed closet lawmakers during the AIDS crisis in the US, they too could be outed as closet steak-eaters who were cowed into silence and looked away when the knives were out for the Akhlaqs of the world.

They should speak up because ultimately the fight is not really about the right to eat beef. It is about tolerating difference and not beating it to a pulp with a brick.

And everyone, not just the beef-eaters has a steak in that.

St Stephen’s principal Thampu calls ‘molestation row’ worse than Dadri lynching case

“How is this episode, may I make bold to ask, any better than the lynching of Mohammad Aklaq? If anything, it is worse, much worse. The lynching was done by a frenzied mob of some 200 misguided, perhaps illiterate, nit-wits- victims of false propaganda and communal incitement.”

File Photo

St Stephen’s college’s principal Valson Thampu said that the molestation row of a research scholar, which rocked the college for over three months, was “worse” than the Dadri lynching case. Thampu also said that the girl has now been forgotten as “useless rags” and dumped in the pits as an “abused specimen of humanity”.
Maintaining that now the “sheep-skins have fallen off” and the “wolves have emerged in their true colours”, Thampu urged the girl to meet him so that he could help her out in completing her PhD.”How is this episode, may I make bold to ask, any better than the lynching of Mohammad Aklaq? If anything, it is worse, much worse. The lynching was done by a frenzied mob of some 200 misguided, perhaps illiterate, nit-wits- victims of false propaganda and communal incitement.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
“The smart guys who ‘lynched’ this vulnerable, unsuspecting girl, in a state of desperation was by highly- educated vandals,” he said in a Facebook post. Thampu, who was accused of shielding the accused professor in the case, had been maintaining that the girl was being “mentored” by a few persons who had vested interests, which were used against him. Reiterating the same, he further said, “For days, she was coached and tutored. She was serenaded from channel to channel. Suggestively masked and subtly revealed. “She filled the media space and was made to serve as the peg on which the masks of some people’s fleeting moral indignation could hang,” he said.”Now she is forgotten! I knew it was going to happen. But I did not know it would happen so soon,” Thampu said. “She has been put aside and forgotten like useless rags. She is no longer of any use to her erstwhile handlers. They have become wiser and come to the conclusion that it is better for them to “sit it out” for the rest of my tenure. The “Bramhastra” has failed,” he said. (Read: BJP MLA says Samajwadi Party appeasing minorities)”She has now been dumped in the pits as an abused specimen of humanity, we must stand by her and enable her to pick up the broken threads of her violated aspirations,” he added. The girl had approached police in July, alleging that she was molested by Satish Kumar, an assistant professor in the college’s Chemistry Department.She had also accused college principal, Valson Thampu of “shielding” the teacher when the matter was reported to him. The girl had also made a set of recordings public, which she claimed to have made during her meetings with the principal over the issue. Later, she withdrew her complaint from the college’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) claiming that she had lost faith in its proceedings. “I invite her affectionately and prayerfully to meet me, if there is a particle of faith and trust left in her after the atrocity she has suffered at the hands of her handlers (and one of them a teacher!),” Thampur said.”All is not lost. We have a sense of responsibility. We shall not run away from it, in spite of the thunder and the predators, who roam around wearing messianic masks,” he said. Thampu was also summoned by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) in connection with the case. The ICC, probing the matter, is yet to come up with its report which has also been sought by the UGC and HRD ministry.

Gau mata, really? Why cows are symbols of our hypocrisy

Every morning, on a road next to a Metro station near my house, the Indian way of life has a communion with Swacch Bharat.

After collecting garbage from nearby colonies, contracted workers of the municipal council, dump it in the middle of the road. Within minutes, stray cows and dogs start scavenging for food in this putrid pile.

Plight of cows in Jaipur.Plight of cows in Jaipur.

Plight of cows in Jaipur.

The cows search patiently: plastic bags, sanitary napkins, stale vegetables, dry rotis and newspapers laced with food get carefully scanned for anything that is edible. In the end, not satiated by the garbage, the cows turn to the carts of roadside vegetable vendors, who, instead of feeding them, drive the animals away with sticks and chappals.

This, essentially, is the plight of the animal that is leading to murders, violence, bigotry and bans in India. While people fight over whether cattle can be turned into food, the poor Gau Mata struggles daily for nourishment.
Cows are symbols of our hypocrisy. We use them in every possible manner, squeeze every drop of milk out of them, inject them with chemicals and hormones to increase their output and then leave them on the roads, hoping some pious Hindu would throw food at them and reduce our cost of feeding them.

No, Hindus don’t kill cows. They only leave them out on the streets once they become dry, barren to die, either because of hunger or disease (some say, like the vanprastha stage of our lives, this is the inevitable roadprastha stage of bovine life!). If they do not want a calf, they ensure that it gets kicked to death by the mother by yoking it with a large wooden triangle that irritates her udders while feeding. And then there is of course the easier method of tethering an animal until it starves to death and vultures and dogs pounce on it.

But, we are ready to kill human beings on the mere suspicion that one of these unfortunate animals we had left in the street to die had become part of his dinner.

So, gau hamari mata hai, right? Let us compare the plight of our holy mother with cows in other countries. In a study of livestock in West Bengal, a professor at the University of Missouri found that the cattle ate only the inedible remains of crops (apart from what they find in streets). A similar study in the US by scientists at Cornell University found that 91 percent of the cereal, bean, and vegetable protein suitable for human consumption is consumed by livestock.

Many historians have argued that beef was our staple diet; kings slaughtered them regularly during celebrations and public functions, even Brahmins feasted on them. But gradually their killing and consumption was discouraged, primarily because of socio-economic reasons.

Cows gave us milk and other dairy products, they produced oxen that were used in fields and beasts of burden, their dung was used as fuel and manure. For many families, a cow was the centre of their economy. Killing it deprived them of milk, fuel and oxen to farm their land, leading to financial ruin. So, protecting them made lot of socio-economic sense.

“It seems probable that the sense of unutterable profanity elicited by cow slaughter has its roots in the excruciating contradiction between immediate needs and long-run conditions of survival,” argues Columbia University anthropologist Marvin Harris in an essay on the importance of cows in Indian culture.

But, urbanisation and mechanisation changed the man-bovine relation. Now, we find cows useful only till they can be milked. Once they serve their purpose, they are cast away in the urban jungle. I once asked a group of friends if any of them had ever brought home a stray cow, fed it, sought medical attention for it or tried to find a home for the animal. Did you?
Our cold apathy for cows is the reason we have that unique Indian institution: gaushala (shelter for cows), where hundreds of stray cattle are herded together in the hope that donations and government doles will keep them alive. Since we call cow our mother, these shelters seem inspired by old-age homes where our biological mothers await their end after being thrown out of homes.

How do these cows fare in gaushalas? Earlier this year, a report in the Times of India looked at a government-run gaushala in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, the only state in India to have a cow department. The gaushala records reveal every day 90 cows die of hunger and disease. The cow shelter, according to its in-charge, has around 9000 cattle and a per cent of them die daily.

Instead of killing others for treating cows as part of their food chain, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why they die like dogs when there are so many pseudo sons to take care of the bovine mother of India?

UGC-NET 2015 result declared by CBSE, find cut-off marks for your subject

The exam was held on June 28 across the country.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Tuesday declared the results of the University Grants Commission – National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET).The exam was held on June 28 across the country. Candidates can now check their results by entering their roll numbers and date of birth on its website (www.cbseresults.nic.in), the CBSE said in a statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBSE conducted NET in 84 subjects at 89 selected NET Examination Cities spread across the country. The NET exam is conducted twice a year. CBSE also announced the next UGC-NET exam will be conducted on December 27, 2015. Find out the cut-off marks for assistant professor and for JRF here.Congratulations to all those who cracked this tough exam. For others, better luck for next attempt.

CBSE UGC-NET 2015 exam results declared on cbseresults.nic.in

CBSE has also released final answer keys for Paper I, II and III on the official website of CBSE NET.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has declared the University Grants Commission – National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) examination results on Tuesday over the official website. The exams were held in June 2015.CBSE has also released final answer keys for Paper I, II and III on the official website of CBSE NET. The purpose behind this test is to determine the eligibility of Indian nationals for the Eligibility for Assistant Professor only or Junior Research Fellowship & Eligibility for Assistant Professor Both in Indian universities and colleges. Many students across the country attended the exams.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBSE conducted NET in 84 subjects at 89 selected NET Examination Cities spread across the country. The candidates who qualify for the award of Junior Research Fellowship are eligible to pursue research in the subject of their post-graduation or in a related subject and are also eligible for Assistant Professor.The NET exam is conducted twice a year. CBSE also announced the next UGC-NET exam will be conducted on December 27, 2015. Online applications for this exam will begin from October 1 and the last date to apply will be November 1.Follow these steps to access the results:-Visit the website provided below-Enter your roll number and birth date in the given fields and submit-Candidates can also take a print out of the resultsCheck your results here: cbseresults.nic.in

Not way to create conducive environment: I&B Ministry takes exception to FTII press conference

New Delhi: A day before scheduled talks with agitating FTII Students Association, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday took exception to a press conference held in New Delhi by the students on the matter, saying it was not the best way to create a “conducive atmosphere” for dialogue.

In a letter to FTII Students Association President Harishankar Nachimuthu expressing its disapproval, the Ministry has said that it had learnt that a press conference was held in the Press Club of India here on the issue related to the FTII impasse.

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostRepresentational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

“If some office bearers of FTII Students Association (FSA) have engaged in this kind of sideshow and that too on the eve of our scheduled dialogue, intimation of which was given by email and phone on 27.09.2015, it is not exactly the best way for creating a conducive atmosphere for a dialogue,” the letter by Joint Secretary (Films) K Sanjay Murthy said.

The ministry official, however, added that he along with his colleagues would nevertheless be there for the dialogue, which will take place in Mumbai tomorrow.

“The negotiations over any deadlock/impasse require a certain commonality of resolve and an ecosystem of trust and faith. Histrionics even of the most advanced aesthetic vintage are not exactly the best recipe to find solutions,” Murthy said in the letter.

The ministry said that it is understood that some unsigned communication purportedly addressed to various authorities were circulated to members of the Press. It also added that the iconic names mentioned in the press conference were much respected, but such an action was avoidable at the juncture.

Asked for a response, Nachimuthu said that students were very “hopeful” about tomorrow’s meeting and added that they had even called off the hunger strike.

Important intellectuals had expressed support, he said adding that probably the students who interacted with the Press, wanted to convey that.

Earlier today, some students and an alumnus of FTII had told mediapersons that many eminent academicians and professionals from US have expressed solidarity with them.

The students claimed that Noam Chomsky, Columbia University professor Partha Chatterjee were among those who had lent support. They also said that intellectuals like Arundhati Roy and artist Vivan Sundaram had also expressed support to them.

In the press conference the students had also released the text of the letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and signed by several intellectuals questioning the appointments not just at FTII but several other institutions as well.

FTII students have been protesting for over 100 days after name of actor Gajendra Chauhan was announced as FTII Council head. The students also have been questioning other appointments to the FTII council which they claim have been politically influenced.

Officials of the I&B ministry and FSA are scheduled to hold talks on the FTII row in Mumbai tomorrow.

PTI

Hello, this is Yuvaraj speaking: Murder accused taunts Tamil Nadu cops as they frantically hunt for him

By Sandhya Ravishankar

The phone rings.

“Hello?” says a man’s voice. “Are you well?”

“Who is this?” asks a woman’s voice at the other end. A chuckle.

“I am the one you have cast a net out for and are searching for so frantically,” the man laughs. This is Yuvaraj speaking.”

Yuvaraj is a wanted man. Key accused in the caste-related murder of young Dalit student Gokulraj in Tiruchengode, Namakkal, in June this year, he has been on the run ever since. The lady’s voice, allegedly, is that of the investigating officer in the murder case. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Vishnupriya, all of 27 years of age, was found hanging in her quarters on 18 September. A note nearby, purportedly written by her, was an outpouring of guilt for taking the extreme step but provided no clues as to the reasons for her suicide.

On Sunday, Yuvaraj released a phone recording via WhatsApp, allegedly of a phone conversation with the late DSP which took place a few days before her death. He had sought the transfer and suspension of a few police officers, who he claims harassed Vishnupriya into taking her own life. He claims to have proved, through his phone conversation with her, that she was distressed at being forced to foist false cases on his aides.

Vishnupriya: “I am fighting to ensure that Goondas Act is not imposed on six people. I am under pressure, there is tremendous mental tension due to this case. What is your problem? You are a law graduate, you know the law. You come and surrender, face the case.”

Yuvaraj: You assure me that you will be able to take action as per law. I was prepared to surrender but in-between two people got arrested on foisted cases so I decided not to.

Vishnupriya: It is because we are not getting hold of you that we’re having to make so many arrests. Do you know how much pressure policemen are facing? I am a new entrant to the department.

DSP Vishnupriya. Image courtesy: FacebookDSP Vishnupriya. Image courtesy: Facebook

DSP Vishnupriya. Image courtesy: Facebook

Yuvaraj: If you had left me alone for one week, I would have surrendered. But there was too much pressure building.

Vishnupriya: I guarantee the law will be followed. You come and surrender. I will give you an assurance. I will cancel all the Goondas cases filed on everyone so far.” Whether the voices on the recording actually belong to Yuvaraj and Vishnupriya will be probed and settled by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) which is now saddled with the case.

But the sheer audacity of a wanted man cocking a snook at the police and establishment, taunting and challenging them, is what Tamil Nadu is abuzz about. Assuming the recording is actually that of a conversation between Yuvaraj and Vishnupriya, a few facts stand out. Yuvaraj, utterly self-assured, almost bordering on arrogance, laughs heartily at the investigating officer’s desperate pleas to surrender. The wanted, strangely enough, appears to be in a position of power over the protector of the law, throughout the conversation.

Yuvaraj: I am aware of every single move taking place within the police. You do not know who is informing me and their identities will never come to your knowledge.

Vishnupriya: For one person – you – so many people are suffering.

Yuvaraj: When you are fighting for your community, these sacrifices must be made.

Vishnupriya: You can make sacrifices for a freedom struggle, will you do so for a murder case? You are creating the problem Yuvaraj and the police are reacting. You should just come and surrender and once we catch you, the case is closed. I assure you, I will ensure everything is done legally.”

This is not the first audio recording released by Yuvaraj. Ever since he went absconding, he has frequently been sending addresses to his fellow “community members” of the Kongu Vellala Gounder caste, exhorting them to work to uphold the cause of protecting members of their caste. He issues instructions to them on banal functions via recorded WhatsApp messages. The police, meanwhile, struggle to find this man who has become a political hotpot.

“It is a sheer shame on democracy and on the society,” said C Lakshmanan, Associate Professor of the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Chennai, an expert in Dalit studies. “It is ridiculous to claim that there is a rule of law in this state,” he said.

Tamil Nadu police have prided itself on being akin to the Scotland Yard. With allegations surfacing, of murky political connections, illegal arrests and embarrassing floundering in a sensitive murder case, a much lauded force is threatened with imminent loss of face and faith. Politicians in the state have not displayed any redeeming qualities in this issue either, according to experts.

“All political parties except the ruling party have issued statements after the death of Vishnupriya, there is no denying that,” said Stalin Rajangam, author and Dalit expert. “Has anyone released any statements demanding the arrest of the absconding Yuvaraj? The reason this has not happened is that no political party has the guts to speak out against the dominant caste. They are worried that it will affect them in the elections.”

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa took to defending her force at the Tamil Nadu Assembly on September 22, while responding to charges by arch rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Karunanidhi, on another issue relating to the police. She holds the Law portfolio and is entitled to a spirited defence.

But a theatre of the absurd is playing out in an almost macabre manner in the state with a murder accused on the run demanding action against senior police officers, giving them deadlines to solve the case and find out causes for the DSP’s death. At the end of the audio recording, Yuvaraj is heard stating that if the CB-CID does not crack the case within a week, he would move the Madras High Court to ensure the late DSP gets justice!

An incredulous public is watching. It is high time the police put criminals in their place, mindless of their caste affiliations and political connections.

Former PM Manmohan Singh’s daughters voluntarily give up SPG security

After assessment of their security and a decision to continue the SPG cover for another year till May 2016, the two daughters– Upinder Singh and Daman Singh– have communicated verbally to the SPG officials requesting for discontinuing the protection by the elite force.
File Photo
PTI photo
Daughters of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have decided to give up the security cover provided to them by elite Special Special Protection Guard (SPG).After assessment of their security and a decision to continue the SPG cover for another year till May 2016, the two daughters– Upinder Singh and Daman Singh– have communicated verbally to the SPG officials requesting for discontinuing the protection by the elite force.The SPG commandos have since been withdrawn from the security of Daman, a writer by profession, and the process for taking out the SPG cover for her sister Upinder, who is Professor in Delhi University, is on, official sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We had made a request and it has been withdrawn,” says Daman whose husband is an IPS officer. They are, however, provided with a cover of Delhi Police as a precautionary measure.”At present they are still there but we have already told them to withdraw it. This will be done after completing the required procedures,” Upinder, a professor of History at Delhi University said. After necessary formalities, SPG will be replaced by Delhi Police, the sources said. SPG, a force carved out from various para-military and state police forces, was formed in 1988 by an act of Parliament for “providing proximate security to the Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers and members of their immediate families. The need for such a force was felt after assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.Singh’s another daughter Amrit Singh stays in the US and was provided with SPG cover whenever she visited India. However, now she will be provided with Delhi Police cover.As per rules, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members cannot get the SPG cover beyond a year of leaving office unless a yearly assessment on their threat perception warrants it. The elite force has six protectees now–Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former PMs Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra.

Demand sees vegetables, fruits, milk-poultry production go up

As grain production dips, experts say weak monsoon, flawed agriculture policy leading to a shift in cultivation pattern.

Demand for vegetables and fruits sees production of it going higher in comparison to grains
File Photo

Boosted by rising consumer demand owing to better health awareness and purchasing power, production of fruits and vegetables across India has increased this year with their total yield surpassing the production of food grains.The total production of fruits and vegetables in the country was 255 million tonnes in 2014-15, which was 251.9 million tonnes the previous year. However, production of cereals has declined over 4.9% from 246 million tonnes to 234 million tonnes in the same period, says the provisional figures compiled by the Ministry of Statistics and Program implementation. Incidentally, production of pulses and all nine oil seeds has also declined by a whopping 10.5% and 16.2% respectively, but yield of milk, fish and poultry went up by 4% – 7% in the same period, as per the provisional statistics based on first estimate, which suggests the possibility of further rise in the prices of essential food items supported by hoarders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>State-wise figures are not available yet. As per the 2012-13 data, Maharashtra accounts for over 12% of fruits and vegetable production in the country. Agriculture ministry officials attribute the rise in horticulture produce vis-à-vis cereals and pulses as a shift in cultivation practices. “A higher shelf life of fruits and vegetables due to better refrigeration, transportation and accessibility to markets appears to have boosted horticultural production which indicates towards a shift in the cultivation. There is increasing demand for healthy and fresh farm products in organised urban markets in India and even abroad,” said an official.Cereals, pulses and oil seeds comprise 85% of agricultural produce in the country where most of the land is rain-fed. However, the share of vegetables and fruits in overall agriculture output of the country is nearly 23%. “Cultivation of horticulture crop has grown from 12.77 million hectares to 23.69 million hectares in past one decade with increase in total production by 2.8 fold,” said the ministry official. Horticulture includes tea, coffee, spices and dry-fruits with fruits and vegetables having 90% share in production.Agriculture experts and farmer activists however say that decline in production of main crops is unrelated with the higher production of fruits and vegetables. They rather blame the lower production of grains on weak monsoon since past four years, skewed irrigation facilities, rising input cost, non-availability of cheap bank loans and flawed agriculture policy.Dr Ashok Dhawale, CPI (M) leader and chief of All India Kisan Sabha, says, “I am not sure if the horticulture produce has gone up, but surely the production of food grains and pulses has declined. This is because the BJP government has not only backtracked from its poll promise about implementing the MS Swaminathan report (which recommended MSP to be 50% more than the input cost) but also reduced the fertiliser subsidy which has led to heavy losses for wheat, rice, and cotton growers.”Devinder Sharma, writer and expert on agrarian issues, says, “India has seen a weak monsoon for the fourth consecutive year now. In 2014-15, it was coupled with unseasonal rains which spoiled crops across India. However, drop in oil seeds production is worrisome. It happened as the import duty was completely withdrawn from it for two years which encouraged entry of cheap produce from abroad discouraging Indian farmers. The import duty on pulses is back to very nominal.”Studies have shown that consumption of wheat and rice has been declining around 1% – 2% in India, while the demand for fruits and vegetables has been rising by 2% – 3% annually, points out a professor from Konkan Kirshi Vidyapeeth.

After dengue, health experts warn Delhiites of swine flu

According to a senior doctor at AIIMS, the hospitals in the city last year had faced infrastructural issues in handling the large number of swine flu cases and stressed on the need for public awareness to check the spread of the infection.

Health experts have warned that citizens may next be confronted with the deadly swine flu with change in season.
Representational Image

Even as Delhi grapples with dengue crisis, health experts have warned that citizens may next be confronted with the deadly swine flu, which is likely to hit the national capital with change of season.”The swine flu carrier, the H1N1 influenza virus, is prone to appear when the temperatures dip and winter arrives.The issue is that the disease spreads through air and not via a vector, as in dengue, and thus transmission is more rapid.”Elderly people, diabetics, those with kidney problems, cancer patients and pregnant women are at risk and thus should take precautions,” said Dr J C Suri, Professor and Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Safdarjung hospital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a senior doctor at AIIMS, the hospitals in the city last year had faced infrastructural issues in handling the large number of swine flu cases and stressed on the need for public awareness to check the spread of the infection.”There was a huge rush of people at OPDs who wanted to be tested for swine flu and many of them testing positive had to be admitted at the isolation wards. There was a time, when there was shortage of space…””With limited manpower and infrastructure, the hospital authorities faced a real hard time dealing with the crisis.The H1N1 infection is contagious and can be transmitted from person to person. The virus of this disease spreads by just sneezing, coughing or coming in direct contact with the infected person.”So awareness among people about the cautions they can take at their level can play a vital role in checking the spread of the disease,” said the doctor.When contacted, Health department officials said they have already started the preparatory work to deal with any emergency arising out of H1N1.”This is the dengue season. Next in line is the swine flu in winter. However, we have already started stocking up on drugs, diagnostic kits and other equipment required to combat the disease,” Dr Charan Singh, additional director in-charge of public health, said.Swine Influenza (H1N1) is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza virus and spreads from person to person through coughing, sneezing or through touch. The medicine generally prescribed for the disease is Tamiflu, which must be taken only under doctor’s prescription.Swine flu had assumed epidemic proportions last year, afflicting over 4,259 people and claiming 12 lives in the city.

Delhi has world’s deadliest air: Capital’s pollution is 10 times higher than WHO limits, finds survey

Washington:  A recent air quality monitoring survey — released on Monday by Greenpeace — has found that the deadly PM2.5 levels in the capital are 10 times higher than the safety limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and four times higher than even the Indian safety limit.

Delhi's air is the most polluted in the world.Delhi's air is the most polluted in the world.

Delhi’s air is the most polluted in the world.

Delhi’s air is the most toxic in the world due to high concentrations of PM2.5 — particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter — that is believed to pose the greatest health risk because it penetrates deeply into lungs.

The PM2.5 limit prescribed by WHO is 10 microgrammes per cubic metre, and the Indian limit is 40 microgrammes per cubic metre. PM2.5 are miniscule particles in the air that reduce visibility, cause the air to appear hazy, and affect respiratory tracts, reports the Daily Mail.

Air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide, according to a new study that includes this surprise: Farming plays a large role in smog and soot deaths in industrial nations.

Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia and at Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, looking at what caused it. The study also projects that if trends don’t change, the yearly death toll will double to about 6.6 million a year by 2050.

The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, used health statistics and computer models. About three-quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, said lead author Jos Lelieveld, at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.

The findings are similar to other, less-detailed pollution death estimates, outside experts said.

“About six percent of all global deaths each occur prematurely due to exposure to ambient air pollution. This number is higher than most experts would have expected, say, 10 years ago,” said Jason West, a University of North Carolina environmental sciences professor who wasn’t part of the study but praised it.

Air pollution kills more than HIV and malaria combined, Lelieveld said.

With nearly 1.4 million deaths a year, China has the most air pollution fatalities, followed by India with 645,000 and Pakistan with 110,000.

The United States, with 54,905 deaths in 2010 from soot and smog, ranks seventh highest for air pollution deaths. What’s unusual is that the study says that agriculture caused 16,221 of those deaths, second only to 16,929 deaths blamed on power plants.

In the northeastern United States, all of Europe, Russia, Japan, and South Korea, agriculture is the No. 1 cause of the soot and smog deaths, according to the study. Worldwide, agriculture is the No 2 cause with 664,100 deaths, behind the more than one million deaths from in-home heating and cooking done with wood and other biofuels in the developing world.

The problem with farms is ammonia from fertilizer and animal waste, Lelieveld said. That ammonia then combines with sulfates from coal-fired power plants and nitrates from car exhaust to form the soot particles that are the big air-pollution killers, he said.

In London, for example, the pollution from traffic takes time to be converted into soot, and then it is mixed with ammonia and transported downwind to the next city, he said.

“We were very surprised, but in the end it makes sense,” Lelieveld said. He said the scientists had assumed that traffic and power plants would be the biggest cause of deadly soot and smog.

Agricultural emissions are becoming increasingly important but are not regulated, said Allen Robinson, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who wasn’t part of the study but praised it.

Ammonia air pollution from farms can be reduced “at relatively low costs,” Robinson said.

In the central United States, the main cause of deaths from soot and smog is power plants; in much of the West, it’s traffic emissions.

Jason West and other outside scientists did dispute the study’s projections that deaths would double by 2050. West and others said it’s likely that some places, such as China, will dramatically cut their air pollution by 2050.

With inputs from AP

Joblessness, perks & speed money: Why it’ll take 4 years to hire peons in UP

Lucknow: The lure of a government job, howsoever small, is not diminishing anytime soon. In Uttar Pradesh, advertisement for 368 openings for peons in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Secretariat has attracted 23 lakh applications. The candidates include those having passed Class V – the minimum qualification required – to those having completed their PhD. In between there are graduates, postgraduates, engineers, MBAs and others.

The advertisement for these vacancies was published on 10 August in newspapers and online. All applications had to be filed online, the last date for which expired on 14 September. It mentioned that there were 368 posts of anusevaks (peons) and farrash (janitors or floor cleaners) in the Secretariat Services. These Group D posts included 218 for the general category, 76 posts for SC category, 5 for ST category and 69 for Others Backward Class category.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The minimum education qualification for applicants was to have passed class 5 examination, to know cycling and the ability to read and write Hindi, with the minimum age being 18 years and maximum 40 years.

The job description includes answering the bell from inside the office, cleaning up, serving water and tea, moving files from one desk or room to another and keeping them properly.

But perhaps the most attractive part was the pay scale. The scale was Rs 5200 to Rs 20,200 with Grade Pay Rs 1800, with the minimum take-home being in the range of Rs 15,000 per month.

Prabhat Mittal, Secretary (Secretariat Administration), has said that he was amazed at the number of applications. The selection process, which required only interview, would take about four years if the interviews were conducted at the rate of 40 per day in one selection board, six days a week for seven hours per working day. Obviously, at least 25 selection boards will have to be constituted to complete the exercise in less than two years.

The applicants include 255 PhD holders, 1,52,730 engineering and technical degree holders, 24,969 postgraduates, 7,500 ordinary graduates, 1,87,2660 having passed class XII to X, 2,16,763 having passed class IX to VI and 53,426 having passed class V only.

One of the applicants, Alok Chaurasia, an electronics engineer from Lucknow, had been jobless for more than one year. He said candidly that it was better to get a lowly job than sitting idle. To support his argument, he even recalled how Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly was a tea-seller and many tycoons did petty jobs in the beginning.

Another applicant Dharam Pal from Barabanki, a postgraduate, said if selected he would not continue in the job for long as he will keep trying for a better job in keeping with his qualification. Asked if he knew any PhD holders who had applied for this job, he said there was one from Jaunpur but he could not be contacted. Another graduate applicant from Lucknow said most of the PhDs were from outside Lucknow since he knew some of them. One such applicant from Sitapur, having completed his PhD last year from a university in Bareilly, said with a request not to mention his name that if he got this job he would not continue in it for long.

According to a Lucknow report, middlemen have already become overactive, offering a sure job against the payment of up to Rs 10 lakh. Om Prakash, a teacher in Gorakhpur who called up a relative in Lucknow seeking help in getting a job for his son, said he had been advised to be ready with Rs 5 lakh now and the rest at the time of interview to ensure a job.

The representatives of the government have interesting responses to this amazing response. The Minister for Skill Development Abhishek Mishra was quoted by a television channel as saying that it was because the “Government is a better paymaster.” Another minister said it was because the laptops distributed by the Akhilesh Yadav government had made it possible for a large number of applicants in villages and remote places to apply online.

However, a history professor Rahul Shukla said a government job, that too in the Secretariat that is the seat of the government, offered the possibility of proximity with government functionaries at all levels, politicians and others, besides handling the visitors and their files. “In addition to the regular pay, there are immense possibilities of unnamed perks, nuisance value and speed money.” This, according to him, more than made up for the low-level post and job description.

The vacancies for 260 similar posts had been advertised last in 2006, when about 1 lakh persons had applied. The army of unemployed in the age group of 15-35 in Uttar Pradesh is set to touch the 1-crore number by 2017, as mentioned in a report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). These will be in addition to the backlog of around 32 lakh unemployed, who are already in the queue awaiting their chance.

Nobel laureate Michael Levitt to attend PM Modi’s Silicon Valley event

68-year-old Levitt, professor of structural biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will be one of the distinguished guests attending the SAP center event, said Khanderao Kand, convener of the Indo-American Community of West Coast the organiser of the mega event.

Nobel laureate Michael Levitt has said that he will attend the Silicon Valley community reception for Prime Minster Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit to the US next week.”I am so excited about this event. As a fan of so many aspects of Indian life and culture, it will be a distinct pleasure to hear Prime Minister Modi’s address,” Levitt said on Tuesday.Levitt won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Extending my own experiences in discovering something significant through research, I would say that problem solving starts with inquisitive mind, selection of problem, intuition, and hard work. I am sure Modi is up to this challenge,” Levitt said.68-year-old Levitt, professor of structural biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will be one of the distinguished guests attending the SAP center event, said Khanderao Kand, convener of the Indo-American Community of West Coast the organiser of the mega event.He is one of the first to apply computers to biology, resulting in a research that led to delineating the precise molecular structures of biological molecules for which he won the prize.Modi will be on a visit to Ireland and the US from September 23 to 29 during which he will address the UN General Assembly and also visit Google headquarters in the Silicon Valley. He will address a community reception by Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley on September 27.Meanwhile, a group of Indian American entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley welcomed the scheduled visit of Modi and supported his ambitious Digital India program.”It is exciting to see Prime Minister Modi driving initiatives like Digital India or Make in India. Making technology accessible is the first step to empower and engage users ultimately transforming the way business will be done in India. Prime Minister Modi’s vision presents us with a great opportunity,” said Vineet Jain, CEO and Co-founder at Egnyte.”Modi’s vision for a Digital India has the power to empower every Indian in a way that integrates their unique perspectives into a whole while setting each Indian free to pursue their destiny and untethering the power of a billion people,” said Manish Chandra founder and CEO of Poshmark.”I am very excited by Modi’s leadership of India, both in focusing on systematic changes in India and in building brand India across the globe,” said Anita Manwani, VP Global Sourcing at Agilent Technology.Modi is a person who “really is self-less” and believes in the wellbeing on the common man, said prominent Indian American businesswoman Vinita Gupta.There is an “excitement” in the Silicon Valley on his visit and his vision for India, she said in a video posted on the website of Indo American community of West Coast.

Hindi finds more and more takers in Pakistan

Cultural affinity? Bollywood and curiosity to know about what is happening across the border attract Pakistanis to India’s national language

Students of Shiksha Niketan School sit in a formation to celebrate Hindi Diwas in Jammu on Tuesday

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to adopt Hindi as global language has found unexpected takers in Pakistan. Over recent past, the number of students opting for Hindi over Persian and Arabic has seen an increasing trend in Pakistan.Cultural affinities, curiosity to know about what is happening across the border, Bollywood and popular Indian television soaps have attracted many in Pakistan to pick up Hindi as a paper in college. Hindi scholars in Pakistan are also of the view that an individual knowing Hindi draws more respect amongst the educated Pakistani community. For others being able to read and write in Hindi helps them to read Hindi newspapers online to develop political understanding.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Just over two weeks ago, Pakistan’s National University of Modern Languages (NUML) at Islamabad awarded its first M Phil in Hindi to Shahin Zafar.Zafar has produced her paper on the status of women in Hindi literature post-independence as ‘Swatantryottra Hindi Upanyoson Mein Nari Chittran (1947-2000).’ Professor Ashiq Ali of Aligarh Muslim University who has evaluated her paper said, “Zafar’s work was good. But her research also reflected a lack of availability of Hindi books in Pakistan.”The professor also added that a similar research in India would have provided the researcher with more reference material. “It appears there aren’t many Hindi texts available in Pakistan,” he says.Aligarh Muslim University receives thesis of other languages from Pakistan, but it is the first time that a Hindi paper had come for evaluation.Professor Shabnam Riaz of Department of Hindi at University of Punjab at Lahore agrees with Professor Ali. “The number of books available are limited, but there is an upward trend on the number of students keen on pursuing Hindi as a subject,” she said. Every year at the University of Punjab at least 5 to 7 students take admission for Diploma in Hindi programme.Riaz, however, added that Pakistan lacks trained professionals to teach Hindi as a result the language does not get adequately promoted there.In the Centre for South Asian Studies at Lahore, Hindi has now become a mandatory paper for those doing their M Phil in regional languages.”When I passed out in 2011, from the Centre for South Asian Studies, we could choose between Persian, Arabic and Hindi. Now, Hindi has become a mandatory subject,” said Amir Illyas a Pakistan-based media professional.Illyas also added that Hindi has a direct connect with the roots of Pakistan over Persian. “We speak Hindi here and are certainly more close to the language. People really take interest when you tell them that you can write in Hindi. They will come to you and ask you to write their names in Hindi,” he added.Pakistan’s first national anthem which MA Jinnah had approved of was in Hindi language. But soon after his death, to disassociate itself from India, the Hindi anthem was replaced by a new one in Persian in1948. The government of Pakistan had then argued that Hindi was a foreign language and Persian came naturally to Urdu. But with deep cultural bonds with India and curiosity to acquire knowledge of regional language for establishing better communication continues to drive many in Pakistan to study Hindi. “My grandfather had migrated from Jammu after partition. He knew to read and write in Hindi. My first Hindi lesson was at home,” said Ajmal Jami who now lives in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Jami is a journalist with Duniya News. He further added that being able to read and write in Hindi, he can read Indian newspapers to get a sense on what the Indian media is thinking. “I get to read the web editions of several Hindi papers. It gives me a better sense of socio political scenario in India,” he added.

11 dead but worst is yet to come: All you need to know about the Delhi dengue crisis

Six-year-old Aman Sharma, who lost his life on Sunday, has become the face of New Delhi’s ongoing dengue crisis. Aman’s family was turned away from hospitals, provided incorrect diagnosis, repeatedly reminded of crippling medical shortages, and left with no recourse but to watch their little boy take his final breath.

Aman was the city’s 10th casualty of dengue this season, even as nearly 1,900 cases have been reported so far. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. According to Dr Ekta Gupta, additional professor at the department of virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, who was quoted by Hindustan Times¸ “The disease normally peaks in the second and third weeks of October, so the numbers are going to go further up.”

According to the report, this is the worst outbreak the city has seen in five years — in 2010, when carelessness by Commonwealth Games authorities saw 6,259 reported cases.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

So how has the national capital found itself in this situation?

On 1 July, Union Health Minister JP Nadda chaired a review meeting with the medical superintendents of Central government-run hospitals — AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital — asking them to conduct assessments of the availability of blood and testing kits. In preparation for an outbreak, Nadda had advised them to ‘buckle up’ and formulate an action plan to combat the disease.

By August, with the number of dengue cases beginning to rise, and people beginning to self-medicate, the Delhi government ordered a ban on the sale of all blood-thinning medicine — that are usually over-the-counter drugs — like aspirin and ibuprofen without prescription. Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain had said, “It has been observed that people consume medicines without consulting doctors, thereby increasing the chances of bleeding and destruction of platelets in human blood which many a times turn fatal in dengue cases.”

By the end of August, with the situation slowly spiralling out of control, the New Delhi Municipal Council issued 76 notices to Rashtrapati Bhavan after mosquito larvae were found breeding in pools of accumulated water all over the President’s Estate.

On Monday, when it had become undeniably clear that hospitals were under-staffed and ill-equipped (see this article by Firstpost’s Tarique Anwar)to handle the rising number of patients, the Delhi government cancelled the leaves of all doctors and paramedical staff — including nurses and lab technicians. An order was also issued by the health minister for all government hospitals to set up ‘fever clinics’ on their premises, in order to detect dengue at the primary level.

Who said what?

– Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, 15 September:

“We are planning to come out with a law so that hospitals refusing treatment to an emergency patient can be penalised. In the next couple of days, we will call a special session of the Legislative Assembly to bring in the law. It is sad that some private hospitals did something so inhuman just for profit… Hospitals which refuse healthcare to patients will not be spared… If we cancel the licences of those hospitals, there will be shortage of hospitals. But we will punish them.”

– Satish Upadhyay, president of Delhi BJP, 14 September:

“Dengue has been spreading in the city and there is danger of it taking epidemic form but the Delhi government has completely failed in taking preventive steps to control the disease and provide adequate medical facilities to the patients.”

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 30 August, Mann ki Baat address:

“Bhaaiyon-behnon, aajkal dengue ki khabar aati rehti hai. Yeh baat sai hai ki dengue khatarnaak hai, lekin uska bachaav bahut aasan hai. Aur jo main swacch Bharat ki baat kar rahaa hoon na, use voh seedha-seedha juda hai… Desh mein kareeb 514 kendron par dengue ke liye muft mein jaanch ki suvidhaayein uplabdh hain… Hamaare har utsav ko swacchta ke saath ab kyu na jodein?

(Brothers and sisters, these days there’s a lot of news about dengue. It’s true that dengue is dangerous, but preventing it is very simple. And what I’ve been saying about Swacch Bharat is directly connected to this… There are around 514 centres across the nation where free dengue check-ups are available… Why not connect cleanliness with all our festivals?)

11 dead but the worst is yet to come: All you need to know about the Delhi dengue crisis

Six-year-old Aman Sharma, who lost his life on Sunday, has become the face of New Delhi’s ongoing dengue crisis. Aman’s family was turned away from hospitals, provided incorrect diagnosis, repeatedly reminded of crippling medical shortages, and left with no recourse but to watch their little boy take his final breath.

Aman was the city’s 10th casualty of dengue this season, even as nearly 1,900 cases have been reported so far. Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come. According to Dr Ekta Gupta, additional professor at the department of virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, who was quoted by Hindustan Times¸ “The disease normally peaks in the second and third weeks of October, so the numbers are going to go further up.”

According to the report, this is the worst outbreak the city has seen in five years — in 2010, when carelessness by Commonwealth Games authorities saw 6,259 reported cases.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

So how has the national capital found itself in this situation?

On 1 July, Union Health Minister JP Nadda chaired a review meeting with the medical superintendents of Central government-run hospitals — AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital — asking them to conduct assessments of the availability of blood and testing kits. In preparation for an outbreak, Nadda had advised them to ‘buckle up’ and formulate an action plan to combat the disease.

By August, with the number of dengue cases beginning to rise, and people beginning to self-medicate, the Delhi government ordered a ban on the sale of all blood-thinning medicine — that are usually over-the-counter drugs — like aspirin and ibuprofen without prescription. Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain had said, “It has been observed that people consume medicines without consulting doctors, thereby increasing the chances of bleeding and destruction of platelets in human blood which many a times turn fatal in dengue cases.”

By the end of August, with the situation slowly spiralling out of control, the New Delhi Municipal Council issued 76 notices to Rashtrapati Bhavan after mosquito larvae were found breeding in pools of accumulated water all over the President’s Estate.

On Monday, when it had become undeniably clear that hospitals were under-staffed and ill-equipped (see this article by Firstpost’s Tarique Anwar)to handle the rising number of patients, the Delhi government cancelled the leaves of all doctors and paramedical staff — including nurses and lab technicians. An order was also issued by the health minister for all government hospitals to set up ‘fever clinics’ on their premises, in order to detect dengue at the primary level.

Who said what?

– Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, 15 September:

“We are planning to come out with a law so that hospitals refusing treatment to an emergency patient can be penalised. In the next couple of days, we will call a special session of the Legislative Assembly to bring in the law. It is sad that some private hospitals did something so inhuman just for profit… Hospitals which refuse healthcare to patients will not be spared… If we cancel the licences of those hospitals, there will be shortage of hospitals. But we will punish them.”

– Satish Upadhyay, president of Delhi BJP, 14 September:

“Dengue has been spreading in the city and there is danger of it taking epidemic form but the Delhi government has completely failed in taking preventive steps to control the disease and provide adequate medical facilities to the patients.”

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 30 August, Mann ki Baat address:

“Bhaaiyon-behnon, aajkal dengue ki khabar aati rehti hai. Yeh baat sai hai ki dengue khatarnaak hai, lekin uska bachaav bahut aasan hai. Aur jo main swacch Bharat ki baat kar rahaa hoon na, use voh seedha-seedha juda hai… Desh mein kareeb 514 kendron par dengue ke liye muft mein jaanch ki suvidhaayein uplabdh hain… Hamaare har utsav ko swacchta ke saath ab kyu na jodein?

(Brothers and sisters, these days there’s a lot of news about dengue. It’s true that dengue is dangerous, but preventing it is very simple. And what I’ve been saying about Swacch Bharat is directly connected to this… There are around 514 centres across the nation where free dengue check-ups are available… Why not connect cleanliness with all our festivals?)

IIT Kharagpur researchers develop method to produce tea in plains

At a tea plantation in Jalpaiguri, CISTA members were installing the first such machine from IIT this month.

Women labourers pluck tea leaves at a garden in Dibrugarh, Assam.
File Photo
PTI
Quality Indian tea will no more be limited to the likes of Assam and Darjeeling as IIT is helping new areas in Kharagpur and Purulia to produce scientifically- grown and processed tea.At a small tea garden inside the campus, IIT-Kharagpur researchers have demonstrated how organic tea could be grown scientifically even in the plains and then the leaves processed in a cheaper way with their newly patented energy-saving machine. In the vicinity of the campus, the Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (STEP) at the IIT, has identified 17 villages where commercial tea cultivation would soon begin.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Tea cultivation will begin in non-traditional areas of south Bengal using new scientific methods. We are targeting small farmers with 5-10 cottah of fallow land. This will uplift the rural economy as well,” STEP’s Managing Director and Biotechnologist Satyahari Dey told PTI. Under a project funded by the Tea Board, a team of scientists led by Professor Bijoy Chandra Ghosh of the Agricultural and Food Engineering Department has developed new CTC (crush, tear and curl) machines, which occupy less space and consume less energy.”The existing technology used everywhere in India and even outside, is a century old. Our technology is very innovative and patented. It will reduce the cost of tea processing by about 20-30 per cent,” Ghosh said.They have already demonstrated the technology to small tea growers who were welcoming it. “We are confident that this machine will change the tea industry forever due to cost savings,” Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Association (CISTA) President Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty said. At a tea plantation in Jalpaiguri, CISTA members were installing the first such machine from IIT this month. “You will soon find small tea growers queueing at IIT to get the machine. This will become a game changer,” Chakraborty said. IIT-Kharagpur officials said they would provide all required technological and agricultural inputs for new croppers.Traditionally tea has been grown along the slopes of hills and not in plain lands. Researchers say tea could be grown in plain lands like Kharagpur in West Midnapore district if the agricultural plot is turned into a slope so that the crop doesn’t get damaged due to standing water.”The soil here is laterite and porous. Shade management using an alternate tree crop will ensure that the temperature in the field never crosses 35-36 degrees centigrade.Irrigation can be done through sprinklers,” Ghosh, who started the tea project, said. Purulia’s district administration has also shown interest in starting tea cultivation using the IIT methodology, he said.Ayodhya Hills in the district have a moderately hot and humid climate, fertile acidic soil and slope land — key requirements for tea cultivation.Produce from the IIT tea garden in Gopali area spread over 15 acres, is now being sent out for sampling in the local market. “Our tea quality is very good and people are liking it. This is probably the most scientific tea in the world,” STEP’s Professor Dey said. The present model of their machine can produce 500 kg of tea per day, but it can be scaled down for small tea plantations.He said they wanted the miniature machines to cost less than Rs 10,000 in the market for marginal farmers who could produce only 100 kg of tea in a month. To operate the machines, young and unemployed science graduates would be trained by the institute, Dey added.

In leaked audio clip, ‘voice of Bhagwant Mann’ says AAP leadership plotting against everyone

New Delhi: Days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) suspended Dharamvir Gandhi, its MP from Patiala, for anti-party activities, another parliamentarian from Punjab appears to have joined the rebel camp. In a private telephonic conversation with Gandhi, which has found its way to the media, Bhagwant Mann, the MP from Sangur, is heard criticising the party’s central leadership, and raising doubts over the party’s prospects in the Assembly elections in Punjab.

“They (the party leadership) are plotting against us… they have started plotting against everyone,” the voice, purportedly that of Mann, is heard mentioning in the audio conversation. It says AAP leaders in the state won because of their own popularity, not because of the ‘broom’ (the symbol of the party).

Firstpost is in possession of the audio clip, but does not vouch for its authenticity. Repeated calls to Mann went unanswered. When contacted, Gandhi said, “Yes, it’s true. I’ve also come to know about the audio clip. It was a telephonic conversation between Bhagwant Mann and me some six months ago. It’s not a recent one. Mann was apparently unhappy like me on the developments within the party related to Punjab. He expressed his grievances to me. But, one thing I can say with conviction is that the said conversation was not recorded at my end.”

File image of Bhagwant Mann. IBNLive

File image of Bhagwant Mann. IBNLive

Interestingly, the audio clip surfaced just a day after Mann told AAP’s ‘Punjab Connect Rally’ that growing factionalism would not have am impact on the party, and that AAP will break the Delhi record by registering a clean sweep in Punjab.

“They (AAP leadership) believe that like Delhi, people here, will also vote for the broom and not look at the candidate… In Punjab, personality matters… Your (Gandhi’s) personality worked and so did professor’s (Professor Sadhu Singh — AAP’s lawmaker from Faridkot). I won because of my 20 years of celebrity status,” he claims. To justify his point, he adds: “Just think if that was not the case, why did Sauchi Mann not win. Since (HS) Phoolka was never among the people in Punjab, he also lost. Whydid Himmat Singh Shergil lose? He also had the broom.”

Gandhi, who agrees with Mann throughout the conversation, supported Mann’s arguments saying, “Exactly Ji… Absolutely correct… We have been with the people for so many years.”

Mann further adds that they are winners not only in Punjab, but Delhi as well because wherever they campaigned in the national capital, the candidate won by a huge margin. He says he, along with the other three MPs, should be authorised to make pan-Punjab policies. “Let’s seriously sit and think that we are the winners, and we are winners in Delhi too. Look at the victory margin wherever we campaigned,” he adds.

Adding that the party knows their strength and potential, Mann demands that the party must give them a say in candidate selection for the 2017 Assembly polls in Punjab. “Now we need to have a role in Punjab. Give us the right to have our own team,” he says.

He mentions the name of a few unknown leaders who, he alleges, have been thrust upon the party from outside against their wishes. “Don’t force upon us someone like Manjit and that Doctor (Balbir), Rupinder Kaur in Barnala.. (and ) all those who have contributed to our defeat . All those who were sad about our victory are now on our ship,” says Mann.

Raising serious doubts about the party’s prospects in the Punjab Assembly elections, Mann says that it is not an easy task to win here as AAP’s position is not that strong. “Punjab is not like Delhi where we have just to fight the BJP. There are more players, including the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). If our senior leaders think it is a cakewalk in Punjab, they are mistaken,” Mann told Gandhi, who speaks very little in the clip, but agrees with whatever his colleague in the Lok Sabha says.

Mann alleges that few party leaders have plans to distribute tickets to their favourites. Therefore, along with likeminded people in the party should work against such designs. He tells Gandhi, who only says “correct”, “absolutely correct”, “I agree”, “na na”, “exactly”, etc throughout the entire conversation, to hold secret meetings to discuss and devise their own plans for Punjab, which will go to the polls in 2017.

Mann also speaks against some other members such as Sucha Singh Chottepur and Harinder Singh Khalsa. The AAP had recently suspended two of its MPs — Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa (who represents Fatehgarh Sahib) — for anti-party activities. The duo had accused AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of acting like a dictator.

AAP leaders preferred to keep mum on the audio clip, adding that they have not come across any such audio file. They added that they will only react after listening to and verifying it. But AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM), a group of the party’s disgruntled members, was quick to fire a salvo.

“The party has dumped its ideology and has been hijacked by people with vested interest,” AVAM’s Amit Kumar told Firstpost, when asked whether Kejriwal and other leaders are going to take any action against Mann.

Listen to the audio clip here:

Teachers’ Day: Famous Indian teachers that shaped our country

These teachers have changed the social, political or cultural landscape of our country significantly.

In honour of Teacher’s Day, we put together a list of India’s most famous teachers. They didn’t just go on to accomplish great achievements in their respective fields, but they knew the value of sharing their knowledge and passing it on.Dr. Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanEven though Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan came from humble beginnings, he went on to become India’s first Vice President and the second President. He also had an extensive career as a teacher, beginning at Madras Presidency College. He eventually became a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore and represented the University of Calcutta at the international congresses in the UK and US. Radhakrishnan also gave a lecture on Comparative Religion in Oxford.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Radhakrishnan became the President was approached by friends and students about celebrating his birthday. Instead he wanted September 5 to be observed as Teacher’s Day.Savitribai PhuleIndia’s first female teacher Savitribai Phule, was also the woman to open the first girl school in the country. In 1948, when Phule and her husband started the school for girls in Pune, it had caused outrage. She received a lot of backlash and abuse for doing what she believed in. Despite it all, Phule managed to open five more schools for girls by the end of that year.As a poet, Phule is considered to be one of the pioneers in Marathi poetry. Phule’s achievements didn’t stop there, she also dealt with issues like untouchability and widow remarriages.Dr. APJ Abdul KalamBefore becoming India’s 11th President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was a scientist who studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent four decades as a scientist, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).After leaving office, Kalam passed on his knowledge to students all across the country. He became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management at Shillong Ahmedabad, and Indore and an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University and various other institutions.
Rabindranath TagoreThe Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan is Rabindranath Tagore’s greatest legacy and gift to education. Tagore took teaching out of the confines of a classroom and formed a school he hoped would connect India and the world and become a centre for the study of humanity beyond the limits of geography. Teaching at this school was done under trees.Tagore did not just guide his students academically but also emotionally and spiritually. He even invested his Nobel Prize money into the university, now one of the most reputable universities in the country. Dr. Asima ChatterjeeOrganic chemist Dr. Asima Chatterjee is best known for her development of cancer medicine vinca alkaloids, now used in cancer drugs, and for the development of anti-convulsives and anti malarial drugs from plants.In 1944, she became the first woman to be named a Doctor of Science by an Indian university. She spent most of her life teaching chemistry at Calcutta University and inspiring generations of students to work in the field.Dr. Manmohan SinghBefore he became the 14th Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh was a teacher. He taught in several establishments including Punjab University, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi and the Jawaharlal Nehru University. While addressing the Addressing National Award winning teachers on the eve of Teacher’s Day in 2010, Singh revealed that his own time as a teacher “have been the most satisfying and fulfilling” in his life.
Ustad Alla Rakha KhanOne of India’s most renowned table player Ustad Alla Rakha Khan was also a celebrated teacher to many students. As a young boy Ustad ran away from home to learn the instrument and eventually became the first artist to play the tabla solo at the All India Radio. Ustad was able to bridge the gap between Hindustani and Carnatic musicians by playing with both styles. Khan passed down the art of the tabla to many students, but his most famous student was his son Ustad Zakir Husain.

Hyderabad: Principal at Osmania University assaulted by students

Image credit: NB Subbaiah

Wikimedia Commons
Professor Narsing Rao, Principal of Osmania University’s Science College, was allegedly threatened and assaulted by students on Friday. Deccan Chronicle reports that around 30 students went to his chamber and demanded that hostel rooms be allocated to them. When Professor Rao told them they weren’t eligible for hostel rooms, the students took to threats and violence, injuring the professor.A police case has been registered and eight students were arrested, the report said. This is reportedly not the first time that Professor Rao has been attacked by students.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The assault on Professor Rao is not new at Osmania University. Many professors over the years have been attacked by students. The university has more than 20,000 students who are said to be living illegally in the hostels. Principals have often face threats and are assaulted by students over allocation of hostels and payment of fees for the hostel and the mess.

Maharashtra OBC organisation against reservation for Patels, Marathas

President of Maharashtra Other Backward Class (OBC) Organisation said that OBCs have no problem in giving these communities reservation in the ‘Kshatriya’ category separately without disturbing the existing OBC quota.

Patel protest for reservation
File Photo
PTI photo
The Maharashtra Other Backward Class (OBC) Organisation has opposed reservations for Patel and Maratha communities, citing suggestions from the Mandal commission. President of Maharashtra OBC organisation Professor Shravan Deore recently met BJP MP Subhash Bhamre, who is the member of OBC MP Forum in this regard and urged him to raise the issue in the Parliament.Deore said the Maratha community in Maharashtra, Jats from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and Patel community from Gujarat are demanding to be included in the OBC category, when they already belong to the upper class.”These communities are upper class landlords and rulers as they have been in power since last several years. Hence, almost all commissions including Mandal commission had suggested that these communities should not be given reservation,” Deore said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that OBCs have no problem in giving these communities reservation in the ‘Kshatriya’ category separately without disturbing the existing OBC quota. He further said that M P Sudarshan Nachiappan committee in 2005 had recommended the Parliament to break the cap of 50 per cent for reservations.”If the suggestion of this committee is accepted, all ‘Kshatriyas’ can be given reservation as well,” he said.

Cuttack: 51 infants die at Shishu Bhavan; Union Health Minister sends experts to asses situation

The infant mortality toll at Sishu Bhawan in Cuttack in Odisha has shot up to 51 in the past 10 days.
Representational Image

The Union Health Ministry has decided to send a team of paediatricians and experts to Odisha to assist and examine the reasons behind the death of more than 50 infants at Shishu Bhavan within a span of ten days. The team will also suggest immediate and long-term measures to avert such occurrences in the future through effective management and preparedness.Union Health Minister J P Nadda directed the Ministry to send the team of required specialists to assist the state in management of critical cases of children. This comes after a central team comprising paediatrics and specialists led by Union Additional Health Secretary Arun Panda visited the state on August 29 and also had detailed discussions with officials while going through the case sheets of all the children who expired between August 21-26.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Health Minister has directed for a team of paediatric experts to be sent to Odisha to extend all support and assistance to the state in examining the reasons that may have contributed to the deaths of these children… and to suggest immediate or short-term and long-term measures that would avert such occurrences in the future through effective management and preparedness,” an official statement said, adding this comes following reports regarding the deaths of some children in the tertiary care referral hospital.As per the latest report, the infant mortality toll at Sishu Bhawan in Cuttack in Odisha has shot up to 51 in the past 10 days. The statement said that Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has also reviewed the situation in presence of the central team which had already been sent to assess the situation along with the state government officials. Pradhan also took rounds of the hospital to take stock of the situation and assured all help from the central government.The central team which visited the state has also made several suggestions for improvement in the level of competence and preparedness to deal with critical cases. “The Union Health Minister has also directed for the Ministry to send the team of required specialists to assist the state in management of the critical cases of children that require urgent attention,” the statement added. The immediate measures suggested by the central team during their visit recently include mobilising more senior residents to strengthen the current team at the institute for strict monitoring and round-the-clock availability of laboratory facilities of emergency investigations inside the hospital. Other measures include mobilisation and appointment of laboratory technicians, radiographers and paramedical staff to manage these services round-the-clock, availability of all life-support drugs and higher antibiotics free-of-cost, stationing more nursing staff specially in emergency areas and others.The central team has also suggested regular and strict infection surveillance system. The long-term measures include creation of more medical and paramedical posts, creation of round-the-clock in-house laboratory and investigation facility (CT, MRI) and creation of computerised medical record system where the data and investigation report can be assessed at any time and in any area, the statement said.The central team which visited the state include specialists from Lady Hardinge Medical College, RML Hospital and the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi and the team was also assisted by an Assistant Professor from AIIMS Bhubaneshwar.

All you need to know about slain rationalist and scholar MM Kalburgi

In 2014, he supported another Kannada writer, UR Ananathamurthy, who was embroiled in a controversy for recounting why he had urinated on religious idols.

Professor Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi was a former vice-chancellor of Hampi University and a well-known left ideologue. He had won the Sahitya Akademi award in 2006 for his collection of research articles titled Marga 4. He had reportedly been facing death threats from right wing groups for several years for his works and ideology.Early LifeKalburgi was born to Madiwalappa and Gowramma (agriculturalists) on November 28, 1938 in Yaragal in Sindhagi taluk of Vijayapura district, Karnataka. He did his early schooling in Yaragal and Sindhagi and higher education in Vijayapura and at the Karnatak University, Dharwad (KUD).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He did his MA in Kannada and was a gold medalist. He joined the Karnatak College, Dharwad as lecturer and taught at the post-graduate department of Kannada there. He became an HOD at the college. He later went on to become the chairperson of Basaveshwara Peetha. He did his Ph.d in Kannada. His thesis was titled ’Kaviraja Margada Parisaradalli Kannada Sahitya’.His worksKalburgi had authored 103 books and more than 400 articles. The Marga series is one of his most noted works. As VC of Hampi University, he initiated many research and publication works. He worked on a project to document the history of kaifiyats, Adilshahi literature, ancient poets, and lesser known royal families.Kalburgi was an authority on Vachana literature. He was the editor of the series on Vachanas and worked on the translation of these into 22 languages as well.Two major controversies in his lifeIn the 1980s he came under fire from the Lingayat community in Karnataka. He was accused of making derogatory references to Basava, a 12th century philosopher, and his family in his book Marga 1. Basava is revered by the Lingayat community. He was forced to recant his views but stated that he did it to save his family.In 2014, he supported another Kannada writer, UR Ananathamurthy, who was embroiled in a controversy for recounting why he had urinated on religious idols. Kalburgi spoke against idol worship in Hinduism. There were protests by right-wing groups like the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Sri Ram Sena against this.Awards won by KalburgiKalburgi won many national and state-level awards for his works, including the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award, Kendra (Central) Sahitya Akademi Award, Janapada Award, Yakshagana Award, Pampa Award, Nrupatunga Award, Ranna Award and Basava Puraskara.

Debating Santhara: The Jain practise isn’t suicide, but Indian laws don’t see it that way

Ibrahim Zauq, poet laureate of the Mughal court under Bahadur Shah Zafar, wrote a poignant couplet about our inability to control the two most important events of life: birth and death.

“Layi hayat aaye, qaza le chali chale; na apni khushi aaye, na apni khushi chale, (Life brought me, death took me away. I neither came of my free will, nor leave with my consent),” he observed.

For ages, humans have pondered over their inability to choose the date, circumstances and their place of birth and realised the utter futility of the quest. But the idea of choosing the circumstances of death, of leaving the material world at one’s own khushi (free will or volition) has lingered. The thought of a beautiful death, the pursuit of a planned and painless end has crossed many minds, sometimes even as the final goal of life.

The concept of ‘Ichcha Mrityu’ (the power to decide when and how to die) has been a constant theme of our culture. In our mythology, it has been described as a rare gift, reserved only for the greatest of souls and those who earned it as the ultimate reward for their righteous karma and dharma.

In Mahabharata, for instance, when Shantanu was happy with his son Devavrata (Bhishma) for the sacrifices he made for him, he blessed the son with Ichcha Mrityu, a right that Gangaputra later exercised in the battlefield.

A file photo of 78-year-old Taraben Chovatia, who had renounced food in 2008, as part of Santhara. AFPA file photo of 78-year-old Taraben Chovatia, who had renounced food in 2008, as part of Santhara. AFP

A file photo of 78-year-old Taraben Chovatia, who had renounced food in 2008, as part of Santhara. AFP

In Jainism, the concept of choosing the manner and time of one’s death is a centuries-old ritual. The devout Jains believe that Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar, allowed Santhara, or Sallekhana, as the ultimate test of spirituality, will power, whose ultimate goal is purifying body and mind and facing death voluntarily.

According to the ritual, which Jains believe has been prevalent for thousands of years, a person voluntarily gives up food and water, either because of an incurable illness or due to the belief that the end is near. It is reserved only for the old and the invalid and is practised rarely. According to this Times of India report, in the first half of 2015, around 118 Jains performed Santhara across India.

The ritual has, however, been banned by the Rajasthan High Court. In its judgment on August 10, the court declared Santhara as illegal and made the practice punishable under Section 309 of the IPC. It compared it with suicide. The court also added that there is no evidence or material to prove that Santhara is not an essential Jain practice without adhering to which, practicing Jainism would be difficult.

The Jains have challenged the ban in the Supreme Court saying it can’t be compared with suicide or euthanasia. On Monday, they came out on the streets of several Indian cities in large numbers to seek the apex court’s intervention and protest the ban.

It is difficult to argue that Santhara is different from suicide or euthanasia. In the end, the objective of all these concepts is death, the destruction of life and mortal body. But, the Jains believe the difference is in the motivation for both the acts.

Suicide is a desperate measure, triggered by failure and setbacks in life; it is an act of cowardice, a surrender to the circumstance because of lack of will power. It is a decision forced upon the person by external circumstances. According to the Jains, Santhara is the exact opposite of this.

In one of his discourses, Osho Rajneesh had tried to differentiate between death as a spiritual discipline and suicide. “Mahavira says, ‘Go on a fast, and die of hunger.’ It takes ninety days for a normal, healthy person to die of hunger. If he is weak in resolve–even a little bit–the desire for food will return the next day… If Mahavira had given the permission to die by taking poison, drowning in a river, jumping off a mountain, it would have been a matter of instant death. But a warrior good for showing only a moment’s bravery is of no use in the battlefield, because he will become a coward the next moment…So Mahavira has given permission to commit santhara, causing death to oneself as a spiritual discipline.”

The problem in dealing with Santhara, and other religious practices, as Mumbai-based professor of constitutional law Shekhar Hattangadi argues, is that our law ignores some of the beliefs of Indian religions since it is based on the Westminster model of our colonial rulers. “The concept of suicide associated with religion is a repugnant one for the mainstream Anglo-Saxon West, whose Judeo-Christian beliefs would denounce such an act as antithetical to the moral and ethical principles espoused by Christianity.”

Theological and philosophical beliefs play an important role in the social acceptance of rituals like Santhara. For Jains, as also for Hindus, for instance, the concepts of moksha and rebirth are linked to the nature and quality of death. As Osho argues, the purpose of Santhara is to cleanse the spirit, prepare it for rebirth and, by choosing death through this method, become the determiner of the next birth.

Since religion predates the current legal framework and law, a conflict arises every time ancient eastern customs and practices are seen through the prism of a modern, West-inspired law. The concept of a beautiful death as the perfect end to this life and the ideal beginning of the next may be based on our philosophical, spiritual and religious tenets. But, it is unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny under the existing legal framework.

The only hope for Santhara, it seems, lies in decriminalisation of suicide and legal acceptance of euthanasia. The path to moksha for Santhara goes through the acceptance of universal right to Ichcha Mrityu.

North, South Korea talk all night, to resume Sunday, in bid to end standoff | Reuters

SEOUL Top aides to the leaders of North and South Korea were due to resume talks on Sunday after negotiating through the night in a bid to ease tensions that brought the peninsula to the brink of armed conflict.

The meeting at the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) began on Saturday evening, shortly after North Korea’s deadline for Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts or face military action, and broke before dawn on Sunday.

The envoys held discussions on how to resolve tensions and improve ties, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a brief statement. The talks were due to resume at 3 p.m. Seoul time (0600 GMT).

“Both sides are under big pressure to get something out of this,” said Jeon Young-sun, professor at the Institute of the Humanities for Unification at Konkuk University in Seoul, who said the length of the high-level meeting may be unprecedented.

“North Korea wants to stop broadcasts, while South Korea can’t do it without achieving anything back.”

North Korea and South Korea have remained technically in a state of war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and inter-Korean relations have been in a deep freeze since the deadly 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship. Pyongyang denied responsibility.

The current tensions began early this month when two South Korean soldiers were wounded by landmines along the border. The North denies laying the mines. Days later, Seoul began its propaganda broadcasts from banks of loudspeakers, including news reports and entertainment from the South, resuming a tactic both sides halted in 2004.

The crisis escalated on Thursday when the North fired four shells into the South, according to Seoul, which responded with a barrage of 29 artillery rounds. North Korea declared a “quasi-state of war” in front-line areas and made an ultimatum for Seoul to halt its broadcasts.

That deadline passed on Saturday without any reported incidents.

The United Nations, the United States and the North’s lone major ally, China, have all called for calm.

The United States, which has 28,500 soldiers based in South Korea, said on Friday it had resumed its annual joint military exercises there after a temporary halt to coordinate with Seoul over the shelling from North Korea. North Korea regularly condemns the manoeuvres as a preparation for war.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s national security adviser and her unification minister met with Hwang Pyong So, the top military aide to the North’s leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yang Gon, a veteran official in inter-Korean affairs, on Saturday, prompting hopes for a breakthrough.

Despite the announced talks, South Korea’s military remained on high alert, a defence official said, and the South has said it has no plans to halt the broadcasts. Pyongyang’s state media has continued its hostile anti-South rhetoric.

However, in announcing the meeting, the North’s KCNA news agency referred to the South as the Republic of Korea, a rare formal recognition of its rival state, and in sharp contrast to its recent tone.

High-level talks between the two sides have been rare in recent years.

Pyongyang’s two negotiators had made an unexpected visit to the South last October to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, where they met Kim Kwan-jin, Park’s national security adviser, who is leading the South’s delegation this weekend. Those talks raised hopes for an improvement in relations, which did not materialise.

North Korea has been hit with UN and U.S. sanctions because of repeated nuclear and missile tests, moves that Pyongyang sees as an attack on its sovereign right to defend itself.

(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Distortions and untruths: Peepli Project slams Daily Mail report on elephant torture in South India

On 15 August, 2015, India’s independence day, Daily Mail published a story about elephants in South India. The story, written by Liz Jones, reported on how elephants were tortured.

Jones, who was travelling with Duncan McNair, a London lawyer and founder of non-government organisation Save The Asian Elephants (STAE) in January, and Dr Nameer, a professor and Head of the Centre for Wildlife Studies in Kerala, reported on elephants being chained, severely beaten, having their legs broken, being temporarily blinded and left unable to move. The story was accompanied by pictures of these activities.

Representational image. Courtesy: GettyImagesRepresentational image. Courtesy: GettyImages

Representational image. Courtesy: GettyImages

Horror stories like the following were scattered throughout the article:

‘How long has he been chained like this?’ I ask Prof Nameer. ‘He has been chained in that spot, never released even for an hour, for 20 years,’ he replies.

We reach the next elephant a few yards away. This is Padmanabhan, who has been at the temple for 35 years. A hind leg hangs at a terrible angle; he wobbles on three legs, all chained.

Prof Nameer tells me his leg was broken deliberately 15 years ago to subdue him. Research fellow Harish Sudhakar tells me later that this elephant too has not moved from his spot in 20 years.

She also reported on secret jungle camps where elephants were beaten into submission. “Of all the animal abuse stories I have covered in the past 30 years, this is by far the worst,” Jones writes towards the end of her gut-wrenching article.

The story as it would turn out, was not entirely true.

On 18 August, The Peepli Project, in an open letter to Daily Mail, claimed the article by Jones to be “factually and chronologically wrong, misguided and misinformed, and lacking in basic journalistic ethics”.

The open letter was accompanied by another article, dissecting the Daily Mail piece and rebutting its major points.

The author, starts by quoting one part of the article:

At the entrance to the temple is Devi. She has been chained to this spot for 35 years. As a female, she is never taken to festivals, so has never, ever moved. Not one inch. Prof Nameer has asked the temple leaders (politicians, businessmen) to allow the animals to be walked for one hour a day; they refused.

And subsequently slams it with:

Guruvayur temple has two entrances. The main entrance faces east; the only other gate opens to the west. At neither of these two entrances is an elephant – of whatever sex – chained. Ever. For any length of time, let alone for decades at a stretch.

The article, which can be read in its entirety here, goes on to point out just how misleading and erroneous the article is.

“I have many problems with this piece – beginning with the fictions, the distortions and the exaggerations… all of them are examples of journalism so shockingly inept that they can be disproved given a functioning internet connection and a few minutes of time,” writes the author.

Jones is also slammed for her ‘overt racism’ in the article.

In the open letter, the author, who personally met Jones, writes how she had already made up her mind about the conditions and the torture suffered by the elephants before visiting various locations mentioned in the Daily Mail article and crafted her story to fit the bias. “In fact, she was upset that she didn’t get to see the torture she had come in expectation of,” mentions the letter.

The letter however admits that just because the situation isn’t quite as dire as Jones portrays, it’s still far from perfect, “It is in fact true that we have a long way to go in the management and welfare of captive elephants in India. But the situation can only be improved by engaging with the mahouts and the forest department, and by investing in positive-reinforcement training, in addition to solving some elephant conservation issues.”

Perhaps it’s time India begins to accord the elephant the sort of attention that the tiger has been receiving.

Are India-Pakistan talks jinxed?

Sunday’s planned talks between the security advisers of India and Pakistan have hit the buffers over the disputed Kashmir region, writes analyst Harsh V Pant.

St Stephen’s molestation row: Accused calls complaint against him fallout of victim’s poor results

New Delhi: The St Stephen’s professor, accused of molesting a research scholar pursuing PhD under him, on Wednesday told the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) that the complaint against him was a fallout of his objection to the girl’s poor performance during the research.

Representational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

Professor Satish Kumar, college principal Valson Thampu and the victim appeared before DCW chief Swati Maliwal.

In the three-hour long hearing, the accused professor alleged that the girl was trying to tarnish his image.

“Satish Kumar told the commission today that the girl was not doing her research work properly and she did not work on any segment after March, 2014. He also said that she did not submit reports of any work done by her and is now making attempts to tarnish his image,” sources at DCW said.

Kumar was asked by the DCW chief whether he had reported the girl’s “dissatisfactory” performance to the university, research council or the UGC and also directed him to produce evidences regarding the same and his version in an affidavit on 26 August.

“The commission will question the university about its role in the issue and efforts made to resolve the complaint. The university will be asked to constitute a separate committee to probe this case and initiate proceedings for change of her supervisor,” they added.

Taking cognisance of the complaint submitted by the victim to DCW, the commission had last week issued summons to Thampu and the accused professor.

The girl had approached police last month alleging that she was molested by Kumar, an assistant professor in the college’s Chemistry department, under whom she was pursuing research.

She had also accused Thampu of “shielding” the teacher when the matter was reported to him.

While Thampu did not comment about what was communicated to him in the meeting, he reiterated that his heart goes out to the girl as she has been “taken hostage by unscrupulous documents.”

“I submitted a set of documents to help serve the commission with all information and the DCW chief understood that it is not my domain to change her supervisor or facilitate her compounds, it is within the university’s domain,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“I feel sorry for the victim as she has been taken hostage by certain unscrupulous elements. As far as allegations against me are concerned I am open for a thorough probe… a CBI inquiry… and I told the commission the same,” he added.

The victim had sent a complaint to the DCW, demanding release of her stipend, appointment of a new supervisor and return of her research compounds.

She had also raised similar demands with Union HRD minister Smriti Irani last month, who had then directed the Delhi University to ensure that her stipend was released on time and she was granted unrestricted access to the laboratory besides being assigned a new supervisor.

However, notwithstanding the instructions, the accused professor last week refused to give back the victim’s compounds and computational data, saying they are UGC’s property and advised her not to “jump into any misadventure” and misuse the process of law.

PTI

CBSE National Eligibility Test (NET) 2015 Answer Key available on cbse.nic.in

CBSE conducted the National Eligibility Test (NET) 2015 on June 28, 2015.

CBSE conducted NET in 84 subjects at 89 selected NET Examination Cities spread across the country.

After the CBSE conducted the National Eligibility Test (NET) on June 28, 2015, the CBSE released the answer key on August 18, 2015. The purpose behind this test is to determine the eligibility of Indian nationals for the Eligibility for Assistant Professor only or Junior Research Fellowship & Eligibility for Assistant Professor Both in Indian universities and colleges. Many students across the country attended the exams.CBSE conducted NET in 84 subjects at 89 selected NET Examination Cities spread across the country. The candidates who qualify for the award of Junior Research Fellowship are eligible to pursue research in the subject of their post-graduation or in a related subject and are also eligible for Assistant Professor.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The answer key has been made available on the link provided below. It will be available for viewing till August 24. Scanned OMR sheets are also available for viewing till the same date. The candidates can challenge the answers provided if they differ from the ones on the OMR sheets.Any challenged response submitted after August 24, 2015 will not be accepted. Every challenged response will cost the candidate Rs 1000. The fee once paid will be non-refundable. Follow these steps to access the answer key:-Click on the link provided below to go to the website. -Click on ‘View/Challenge of Answer Key/Recorded Response-Enter your appliction number and password and click on ‘submit’ The answer key is available on this website: http://cbsenet.nic.in/

Thousands flee Poonch as Pakistan’s ceasefire violations kill six in two days

Srinagar: When the rest of the country was celebrating Independence Day on Saturday, residents living alongside the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir were fleeing their houses and migrating towards “safer places” after five people were killed in a single day in one of the deadliest cases of cross-LoC firing in recent times in Jammu and Kashmir.

The death toll touched six on Sunday after Masarat Kousar, a resident of Behrote in Balakote area of Poonch, succumbed to her injuries. A mortar shell allegedly fired by Pakistani Army had landed inside the family’s kitchen on Saturday morning when Kousar was preparing lunch. She suffered fatal injuries in her lower abdomen and head, battling for her life for about 16 hours before dying.

The recent escalation in cross border firing in Poonch has traumatised residents of these remote areas along the LoC and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Many residents have already moved out of their homes while the shadow of death lurks over those who are still clinging to their properties that have taken them years of hard work to built.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Saleem Choudhary, who survived a recent attack from across the border on his home in Sabzian village of Poonch said over phone that he has already moved out of his home with his wife and two minor children along with dozens of other families from their village.

“The firing is not stopping at all. It is worsening with every passing day. We don’t want to risk our lives, so we are all moving towards the lower areas of Poonch. We don’t know when we can get back to our village,” Choudhary told Firstpost on Sunday.

Since August 9, multiple ceasefire violation have been reported along the LoC in Poonch almost on every day. Deputy Commissioner of Poonch district, Nisar Ahmed, said the state administration has mobilised its resources for evacuating people from the areas which have been worst hit by shelling from Pakistan.

“My priority at this time is to first evacuate people from the worst-hit and vulnerable areas, but I am also getting reports that people are also leaving on their own. The shelling has not stopped till yet,” he told FirstPost on the phone.

“It is a difficult task to extract people from areas where firing is going on continuously, but I hope we would be able to get out as many people as possible and put them in safe houses,” he said.

Given the chaos and confusion created by the escalating violence, the state administration has no realtime figures on the number of people who have been displaced but it runs in thousands.

“It is something we are used to, you know, but there was hope that things would change after the new government came to power. However, it seem the situation is turning from bad to worse,” Rehmaan Waheed Hussain, a resident of Basoni said over the phone.

Waheed’s cousin Karamat Hussain, a Sarpanch in Poonch district, was killed on Saturday along with four others including a 17-year-old boy, Mohammad Sheeraz Khan.

“The situation of turning so bad that it is getting difficult even for the mourners to gather so that the last rites of the dead could be performed,” he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had greeted his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the 69th Independence Day on Saturday, saying the friendly relations is in mutual interest of the two countries.

“However, on the ground, the people living along the borders of these two countries have become the last priority for the political leadership,” said Professor Rekha Chowdary, a political scientist at Jammu University.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, while condemning the shelling on the civilian areas by Pakistani troops, said Pakistan should be told to stop its military machinations from inflicting miseries on the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We can’t allow our hapless civilians living along the borders to become the ill-fated victims of the military machinations from across the border. Ironically, at a time when the two countries should have been celebrating their independence, they are engaged in virulent and dangerous confrontation along the borders,” the chief minister said, calling for immediate de-escalation of tension along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the situation continues to remains tense with migration picking up pace on Sunday. “It is a tragedy that while the two countries are celebrating independence from imperial British rule, our own people have become slaves of violence. India and Pakistan must take immediate measures so that the ordinary people living along these borders don’t become victims,” Professor Chowdary said.

Thousands flee Poonch district as Pakistani cross-LoC firing kills six in two days

Srinagar: When the rest of the country was celebrating Independence Day on Saturday, residents living alongside the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir were fleeing their houses and migrating towards “safer places” after five people were killed in a single day in one of the deadliest cases of cross-LoC firing in recent times in Jammu and Kashmir.

The death toll touched six on Sunday after Masarat Kousar, a resident of Behrote in Balakote area of Poonch, succumbed to her injuries. A mortar shell allegedly fired by Pakistani Army had landed inside the family’s kitchen on Saturday morning when Kousar was preparing lunch. She suffered fatal injuries in her lower abdomen and head, battling for her life for about 16 hours before dying.

The recent escalation in cross border firing in Poonch has traumatised residents of these remote areas along the LoC and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Many residents have already moved out of their homes while the shadow of death lurks over those who are still clinging to their properties that have taken them years of hard work to built.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Saleem Choudhary, who survived a recent attack from across the border on his home in Sabzian village of Poonch said over phone that he has already moved out of his home with his wife and two minor children along with dozens of other families from their village.

“The firing is not stopping at all. It is worsening with every passing day. We don’t want to risk our lives, so we are all moving towards the lower areas of Poonch. We don’t know when we can get back to our village,” Choudhary told Firstpost on Sunday.

Since August 9, multiple ceasefire violation have been reported along the LoC in Poonch almost on every day. Deputy Commissioner of Poonch district, Nisar Ahmed, said the state administration has mobilised its resources for evacuating people from the areas which have been worst hit by shelling from Pakistan.

“My priority at this time is to first evacuate people from the worst-hit and vulnerable areas, but I am also getting reports that people are also leaving on their own. The shelling has not stopped till yet,” he told FirstPost on the phone.

“It is a difficult task to extract people from areas where firing is going on continuously, but I hope we would be able to get out as many people as possible and put them in safe houses,” he said.

Given the chaos and confusion created by the escalating violence, the state administration has no realtime figures on the number of people who have been displaced but it runs in thousands.

“It is something we are used to, you know, but there was hope that things would change after the new government came to power. However, it seem the situation is turning from bad to worse,” Rehmaan Waheed Hussain, a resident of Basoni said over the phone.

Waheed’s cousin Karamat Hussain, a Sarpanch in Poonch district, was killed on Saturday along with four others including a 17-year-old boy, Mohammad Sheeraz Khan.

“The situation of turning so bad that it is getting difficult even for the mourners to gather so that the last rites of the dead could be performed,” he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had greeted his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the 69th Independence Day on Saturday, saying the friendly relations is in mutual interest of the two countries.

“However, on the ground, the people living along the borders of these two countries have become the last priority for the political leadership,” said Professor Rekha Chowdary, a political scientist at Jammu University.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, while condemning the shelling on the civilian areas by Pakistani troops, said Pakistan should be told to stop its military machinations from inflicting miseries on the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We can’t allow our hapless civilians living along the borders to become the ill-fated victims of the military machinations from across the border. Ironically, at a time when the two countries should have been celebrating their independence, they are engaged in virulent and dangerous confrontation along the borders,” the chief minister said, calling for immediate de-escalation of tension along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the situation continues to remains tense with migration picking up pace on Sunday. “It is a tragedy that while the two countries are celebrating independence from imperial British rule, our own people have become slaves of violence. India and Pakistan must take immediate measures so that the ordinary people living along these borders don’t become victims,” Professor Chowdary said.

Severe ‘food shocks’ more likely due to extreme weather, experts warn | Reuters

LONDON Extreme weather such as intense storms, droughts and heatwaves will cause more frequent and severe food shortages as the global climate and food supply systems change, British and American experts warned on Friday.

The pressure on the world’s food supplies is so great, and the increase in extreme weather events so rapid, they said, that food shortages on a scale likely to occur once a century under past conditions, may in future hit as often as once every 30 years.

“The chance of having a weather-related food shock is increasing, and the size of that shock is also increasing,” said Tim Benton, a professor of population ecology at Leeds University who presented a report commissioned by the British government.

“And as these events become more frequent, the imperative for doing something about it becomes even greater.”

The report, prepared by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience, also warned that knee-jerk national responses to production drops, such as the imposition of export or import bans on certain foods or crops, risk exacerbating a problem and fuelling spikes in food prices.

“If you put the worst case institutional responses together with a worst case production shock, that’s when it starts spiralling out of control,” said Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Britain’s Chatham House think tank, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The experts looked at production of the world’s most important commodity crops — maize, soybean, wheat and rice — and how droughts, floods and storms might impact it in future.

Since most of the global production of these four crops comes from a small number of countries such as China, the United States and India, extreme weather events in these regions will have the largest impact on global food supplies, they said.

And while greater interconnectedness reduces countries’ vulnerability to local production shocks, it may also perversely increase vulnerability to large shocks in distant so-called “breadbasket” regions.

The report recommended drawing up international contingency plans, developing better modelling methods to accurately predict the effects of falls in supply, and identifying international trading ‘pinch points’ to try and minimise them.

It also said agriculture should do more to adapt to a changing climate and become more resilient in the face of extreme weather, while at the same time increasing productivity to meet an increasing global demand for food.

(Editing by Clelia Oziel)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Teachers, friends congratulate new Google CEO Sundar Pichai

In 2004, Pichai was one of a small group of product managers, but his responsibilities escalated from working on new versions of the Google tool bar to overseeing the building of Chrome

Sundar Pichai

Recalling the achievements of new Google Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai, his teachers and friends have sent in their best wishes to the former on bagging the top post in the search engine giant. Sanat Kumar Ray, a professor at IIT-Kharagpur who taught Pichai, congratulated his pupil on the achievement. “Being Indians we are really proud of the achievements by Sundar Pichai and our heartfelt congratulations to him and we always wish that through his such hard work he will contribute technologically, give more input to the further prosperity of Google and that way make us happier,” said Ray.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pichai, a football fan who hails from Tamil Nadu, also holds a master’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “He was always studious, always to the book. In fact he didn’t even see who is sitting next to him, he will talk if there is anything related to the subject. Science was his passion. I can tell you that his father was his role model, he wanted to become an IIT engineer and he became that,” said A.S. Kumar, a family friend. Pichai was appointed as head of a “slimmed-down” version of the company on Monday and Google co-founder Larry Page is set to step down as Google’s chief He joined Google just before its 2004 initial public offering and several colleagues who worked with him in the years following said he never seemed anointed for the top job. Instead, names that came up as potential future Google chiefs included longtime product executives Salar Kamangar, Marissa Mayer and Susan Wojcicki. In 2004, Pichai was one of a small group of product managers, but his responsibilities escalated from working on new versions of the Google tool bar to overseeing the building of Chrome. Chrome’s rise since its 2008 launch to become the world’s dominant browser made Pichai’s reputation, and he started overseeing apps like Gmail. He later became head of Android, Google’s mobile-phone operating system.

Protests return to Ferguson streets, state of emergency declared | Reuters

FERGUSON, Mo. Police in riot gear clashed with protesters who had gathered in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, early on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the police shooting of an unarmed black teen whose death sparked a national outcry over race relations.

About 200 demonstrators, some waving flags, beating drums, and shouting anti-police slogans, marched along a street that was a flashpoint of riots that erupted last year after white police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old black teen Michael Brown.

Police made several arrests, including nine people on Monday evening after a group of protesters briefly blocked the roadway.

Police carrying shields rushed into a crowd of protesters around midnight, many of whom started screaming and running from the area. Some protesters threw water bottles and rocks at officers, who used bullhorns to order people out of the street or face arrest.

Authorities declared a state of emergency on Monday for the St. Louis suburb and surrounding areas after police officers shot and critically wounded a man in an exchange of gunfire Sunday night, marring what had been a day of peaceful demonstrations.

Ferguson resident Roberta Lynch, 51, was among the demonstrators on Monday evening. She said relations between police and the community had improved little over the past year.

“They are doing the same old stuff, taking our rights,” Lynch said. “They need to give us our space.”

Monday’s demonstrations capped a day of civil disobedience called by activists to protest against the shooting of Brown and other unarmed black men by police across the United States.

Clergy and civil rights groups led a series of protests, staging a demonstration at a courthouse in St. Louis where 60 people were arrested, including Princeton University professor emeritus and activist Cornel West, according to a protest organizer.

Police arrested dozens of protesters who blocked rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles from Ferguson hours later, according to a Reuters witness.

The death of Brown and a grand jury’s decision to spare the white officer from criminal charges led to a wave of demonstrations that boiled over into rioting and arson at times and spawned sympathy rallies across the country.

Brown’s death also prompted greater scrutiny of racial bias within the U.S. criminal justice system, giving rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that gained momentum from similar incidents in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and, most recently, Arlington, Texas..

‘MARRED BY VIOLENCE’

Tensions increased after darkness fell on Monday, with some demonstrators throwing objects at officers who pushed back with shields and threatened arrests. Others urged protesters on the street to maintain order.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters police would give protesters leeway to march, but said the authorities also had to maintain public safety.

“We are going to let them vent and we are going to manage it the best we possibly can,” Belmar said.

“Last night was pretty out of control at times. Unfortunately, all the good work that’s happening on both sides of the street has been marred by violence,” he said.

The violence, according to Belmar, erupted Sunday when two groups of agitators apparently began shooting at each other, disrupting what had been peaceful demonstrations. At one point, a gunman darted across a parking lot and was confronted by four officers who pulled up in an unmarked vehicle.

The officers wounded the suspect in an exchange of gunfire, according to police.

Prosecutors charged the man, Tyrone Harris, who was in critical condition in a hospital, with four counts of assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action, and one count of shooting at a vehicle.

His bond was set at $250,000.

Harris’s father said his son did not have a gun.

“He was running for his … life because someone was shooting at him,” Tyrone Harris, Sr., said in a telephone interview from his St. Louis-area home.

The younger Harris was out on bail awaiting trial on charges of stealing a motor vehicle, theft of a firearm and resisting arrest. He was charged with those crimes on Nov. 5 and released after posting a $30,000 bond on Dec. 19, records showed.

Activist groups, meanwhile, said the plain clothes officers who shot Harris should never have been deployed to the scene.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called Sunday’s violence “a sad turn of events.” Nixon, who deployed the National Guard to quell violence last year, did not make any mention of additional security for those rallies.

Michael Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr. said on Facebook that peaceful weekend protests were “meaningful, inspiring and successful.”

“With your support, we properly honoured your friend and my son’s memory,” he said.

Protester Rayna Martin, 17, who lives in the neighbourhood where Brown was shot, said the violence within her community has been made worse by the actions of police.

“They kill us, they get away with it. It’s crazy,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Lucas Jackson in Ferguson, Missouri, Mary Wisniewski and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Jon Herskovitz, Eric M. Johnson and Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Paul Tait)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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