Inhabitants of Harekrushna Nagar area of Berhampur in Odisha took out a silent rally on Sunday to protest against air pollution due to burning of garbage in their area.According to Harekrushna Nagar Development Committee secretary Ashok Das, it was an effort to make people aware of the effects of burning of garbage. “It is an irony that even the sanitary workers of Berhampur Municipal Corporation burn garbage at the dumping point instead of taking it away. At several places these workers create small dumps of dry waste and burn it,” he said. Health hazardThe silent protesters alleged that burning of garbage is releasing poisonous fumes, which is harmful for the families living in the area.Inhabitants of the area claim that for the past two years they have been complaining about it to the municipal authorities but in vain. Area development committee cleans the region every fortnight and collects the garbage at a point. “Despite our repeated requests, the municipal corporation is not taking it away immediately. The dump of February 17 was taken away on March 18,” Mr Das said.Air pollutionEarlier municipal workers had been burning the dump at the spot, but now due to pressure have started transporting it away. However, the localites complain that garbage swept from streets is being burnt down, which is causing air pollution in their area.
The Yogi Adityanath government has started work on setting up six AIIMS and 25 new medical colleges in the state, one of the promises the BJP made in the run-up to the assembly polls.“We promised to open six AIIMS and 25 new medical colleges in the state. We have started working in this direction. Once we shortlist areas for setting up these institutions, we will send a proposal to the Centre through the Chief Minister,” Minister for Technical and Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tondon Gopalji said.The institutions will be ready in the next five years.Asked about poor quality of education being imparted to students in many engineering colleges across the state, he said: “Our priority is to improve the quality of education in all institutions. For this, we are focusing on filling up vacant teaching posts.” “I have directed to fill up 500 vacant posts of teacher before the start of new session,” he added.“Once quality is ensured, the students will also be able to get good jobs in the market.” The government is also planning to hold ‘rozgar mela’ (job fair). These fairs will be started in the next three months to ensure that students of management and engineering get job, he said.There are more than 600 private and 13 government engineering colleges in the state.The minister said besides free WiFi on college campuses, the government will set up e-libraries to keep students abreast of the latest developments.Among other steps to be taken in the education sector, he said that infrastructure of polytechnic institutes will be bolstered and all their students will be provided hostel facilities.
“The Thakurs came armed with swords, and kerosene torches. It was like a battle scene in the Mahabharata. Almost 3,000 of them charging towards our section of the village to destroy it,” recalls Pradeep Kumar, a Dalit resident of Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur district of western Uttar Pradesh.Although 10 days have passed since the day caste-based violence broke out at the village, the Dalit residents have not returned home. Many of them are still recuperating in hospital, while others are taking refuge in a neighbouring village fearing for their life. Those Dalits still living in Shabbirpur, mostly its older residents, say they do not have the energy to leave the village.Houses torchedA row of 30 to 40 houses torched and vandalised bear testimony to the brutality of the attack. The doors broken down, household items burnt, grocery shops ransacked and cycles, fans and utensils lying in a mangled heap. “Look at this door. It has been broken open with its padlock still in place. They did not want to spare anybody and wanted to show their dominance over us. The attack lasted nearly three hours. Thankfully, they did not kill the cattle,” says Swaraj Singh standing outside his grocery store that was burnt down. Tension between members of the two castes began in April before Ambedkar Jayanti when the Dalits of the village wanted to install a bust of B.R. Ambedkar on a private property in the compound of the Ravidas Temple. The Thakurs allegedly objected and stalled the installation of the bust saying that “permission had not been granted”. On May 5, when members of the Thakur community from Shabbirpur village were on their way to the nearby Simlana village to garland the statue of Maharana Pratap, the Dalit residents objected to the loud music being played by them in their procession and allegedly started throwing stones. Thakur killedIn the clash, a 35-year-old Thakur from a nearby village, Sumit Rajput, was injured and later died. As an act of vengeance, the Thakurs vandalised the Dalit homes.Mahendra, a Thakur living in the village says that those people who torched the homes of the Dalits were not from Shabbirpur but outsiders. Blame on outsiders“We have lived in peace for so many years. We even make donations to the Ravidas Temple and both Ambedkar Jayanti and Maharana Pratap Jayanti is celebrated with equal fervour. The entire incident was caused by outsiders and now our children are being accused,” he says.Virendra Kumar, a constable who has been on duty at the village, says that there has been peace in the village since then because many of the people from both communities have fled. The Dalits feel that the government has not shown any sympathy towards them and are demanding compensation. “Politicians have done nothing and those organisations like the Bheem Army that wanted to hold a “mahasabha” to demand justice for Dalits on May 9 are being attacked by the police.The leaders of the Bheem Army have either been picked up by the police or they have gone into hiding after clashes with the police at Gandhi Maidan in Saharanpur town,” says Sumit Kumar, who hails from nearby Maheshpur village.
As the major commercial supplier in this region, Nashik may have become the epicentre of the farmers’ movement but it all started in a village called Puntamba in Ahmednagar district three months ago on April 3, when the village’s gram panchayat passed a resolution warning of a ‘Shetkari Sampa’ (Strike of the Ryots) from June 1. Their charter of demands addressed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis included ensuring crop procurement prices at least 50% above production costs, a complete waiver of farm loans, 100% subsidy on drip/sprinkler irrigation systems, and a minimum milk purchase price of ₹50.Farmers across the region may find a specific resonance in one or the other of these demands but what seems to have really helped the movement spread from Puntamba across the Nashik-Ahmednagar-Pune stretch of Maharashtra is the language in which the idea of the strike was communicated. “Farmers face many hardships but this was the first time I’ve seen farmers actually willing to go on strike to and risk everything to see that they are given some recognition,” says Abhijit Dige, who owns an eight-acre farm about 60 km from Nashik. “Politicians don’t know what farmers go through, it’s not like other businesses. Devendra Fadnavis should come and work in the field for 14 hours a day, work at night in the cold to tend to onion crops, and then maybe he’ll understand,” he says.That same sentiment is echoed by Deepak Rane who has a one-acre farm just off Niphad where he grows cauliflower. “The strike should not stop because people don’t realise what we go through. I am not able to recover the cost that I bear to treat my crops with chemicals and fertilizers. I work from 6 in the morning; what is it all for?” he says.“People from all walks of life face hardships but have you ever considered why it is only farmer suicides you have heard of?” asks Dinesh Nikam, another trader in Nashik who has refused to take orders for onions and other vegetables because he says he stands in solidarity with the farmers.The illusion of prosperityWhen farm distress was first reported in Maharashtra, it focussed mainly on the prices of tur and arhar dal and the difficulties faced by farmers in the drought-prone Marathwada and Amaravati regions. After two years of consecutive drought, a good monsoon in 2016 brought in a bountiful harvest and the markets were simply swamped with produce. Record harvests were offset by a steep fall in procurement prices for both crops.The plight of those farmers is often referenced by prominent leaders of the movement in Nashik and Ahmednagar though it has to be noted that this region is substantially different. The stretch from Ahmednagar to Nashik, and down to Kolhapur and Sangli where the movement spread is a fairly contiguous belt that is home to relatively more prosperous farmers. The majority of farmers in the region over the past two decades have moved from cultivation of crops like bajra (pearl millet) and jowar (sorghum) to cash crops like grapes and onions. Many have invested in dairy farming (Puntamba, for instance, is home to many dairy farmers).Vegetables, then, are actually only a small part of the produce from this region and while the enduring visual images of the strike may be of vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage being dumped on the road, there are many places where people show us pictures shot on cell phones of roads lined with pomegranates, which is the most recent entry to the crop market here.In Nitaley, for instance, a village about 10 km from Niphad that was the one of the centres of the agitation, Swarupananda Bhorgade says that about 80% of the village of 5,000-odd farmers is involved in grape farming, sometimes done in rotation with onions. “I have been growing grapes for the last 20 years and till about seven or eight years ago I used to sell it for about ₹50 a kilo,” says Bhorgade. “So it was only natural that I planted grapes on every inch of my 15 acres. Now it costs me about ₹15 to harvest a kilo of grapes and all I can get on the market is ₹9 to ₹18 a kilo,” he says.Bhorgade attributes this to a number of factors, the most important of which is ‘climate’ — storms would come unseasonably and the crops would be destroyed. Or there would be hailstorms. This past year, the weather was regular and the crop was good for once but there is no price. “You have to take into account how much we have spent on growing these crops and how we will recover it. It costs a lot to invest in crops like grapes and pomegranates,” he says, adding that farmers from the region initially tried to rope in their counterparts from Amaravati who grew tur dal but their situation was completely different. “They have larger landholdings and their crop is rain-fed. They don’t have to spend on irrigation and other chemicals and fertilizer like we do.”On June 3, a faction of farmer leaders decided to call off the strike after Mr. Fadnavis announced a partial loan waiver for small and marginal farmers that would come into effect on October 31. In a large meeting on June 8 in Nashik that included about 3,000 farmers and 150 representatives of farmer associations from across the State, that compromise was rejected. “The people who met the Chief Minister did so late at night without anybody knowing and the agreement was not along the lines of what we were originally demanding,” said Raju Shetti, president of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana that has taken a major role in advancing the agenda. If the government did not accede to the demand to waive all loans immediately and bump up procurement prices, the meeting decided that the strike would move to a new phase of hartals across district and collectors offices from June 12 and ‘rail rokos’ in some areas. As of June 8, the meeting concluded that farmers should be allowed to take their produce to the market in order to meet their minimum needs. “Look for Puntamba on that day (June 12),” says one of the farmers who attended the meeting. “The first rail roko will be there, where it all started.” Bitter harvest: Traders have not been able to send onions to other parts of the country due to the farmers’ strike. Picture shows a worker checking sacks of onion in the market yard at Niphad near Nashik, Maharashtra. In the town of Niphad in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, the main vegetable market, located in a large yard opposite the tehsil office, lies deserted. In a series of godowns that lie adjacent to the yard there is a pink gleam as sunlight filters through to large sacks of onions that are waiting to be transported. In Vittal Sanap’s godown, which is nearly packed to capacity with produce, a large truck with a tarpaulin cover has been parked inside for three days even as workers go about their usual task of loading onions into bright red sacks.“We had an order for onions to go to Madras (Chennai) a few days back but the truck was accosted on the road before it could get to Nashik and all the onions were dumped on the road,” says Sanap. Onions that are left at the mercy of the elements lose their value almost immediately, so for now Sanap is just waiting for things to tide over. “The hartal (strike) will have to end soon because there are many farmers who have no choice but to sell their goods even if prices are bad.”Onions and other vegetables from godowns like Sanap’s go to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market in Nashik from where they are taken to other cities in Maharashtra like Mumbai and Pune as well as to other States in the south like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and even Sri Lanka. The APMC market in Nashik is appropriately mammoth — on either side of a dusty road are two large open halls, each the size of a large bus terminus with tall pillars running right through. On June 8, a day after the one-week strike called by farmers in the region officially ended, a small group of women have set up shop to sell vegetables like cabbage, chillies, tomatoes and cucumber. They take up barely a quarter of one hall but as produce is brought in by farmers in smaller trucks, there are murmurs of anger outside with some arguments breaking out as the produce is passed inside. “These women are not from Maharashtra, you can tell from their earrings that they are from Rajasthan. These are just small local farmers who want to break the strike,” says one of the men. Still, even these small traces of activity raise the suspicion that divisions are beginning to form in what was till now a unified movement in the district.United in adversity Price pinch in MalwaBarkheda Path is typical of the villages in this region. With an approximate population of 3,500, 95% of the population is engaged in farming in landholdings that are less than a hectare per family. Abhishek’s family members narrate their tale of loss. “The last three years have crushed our backbone because prices have plunged, forcing us to sell our produce at rates where we don’t even recover our investment,” says Dinesh, adding, “today’s market price for soybean is ₹2,500-2,700 per quintal while our cost to produce one quintal is above ₹3,000.” Not only soybean, prices of onion, gram, methi, vegetables, milk have bottomed while input costs have soared for seeds, fertilizers, labour and transport, he says. Abhishek Patidar, 19, had just passed his Class 11 exam this year with dreams of becoming a doctor. His family owns a piece of land — about 27 bighas — in Barkheda Path, a village 22 km north of Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where they grow soybean, methi (fenugreek) and chana (gram). On June 6, Abhishek went to Mandsaur along with hundreds of others from his village to protest against the falling crop prices that were pushing his family to the brink of desperation. Tragically, he became one of the victims of police firing, taking three bullets on a day when farmer protests across the western belt stretching from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra reached a frenzied pitch. “He was too young but was keen to join the protest. We grow everything in our 27-bigha land but in the last three years, prices have plunged and ruined us,” says Abhishek’s father, Dinesh Patidar, 55, tears rolling down his eyes.Also Read U.P. loan waiver puts 2 BJP-ruled States in a fix | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre Madhya Pradesh consistently boasts of double-digit growth in agriculture — averaging 13.9% during 2010-15 — and like many other States, had a bumper harvest following a good monsoon in 2016. Yet as per the National Crime Records Bureau statistics, as many as 1,982 farmers committed suicide in the State in 2016-17. A combination of factors — falling procurement prices because of a glut of produce in the market, a cash crunch due to last year’s demonetisation policy and the predominance of smaller landholdings which are expensive to maintain — have led to a simmering anger. Like their counterparts in many parts of Maharashtra, farmers in Mandsaur launched an agitation demanding remunerative prices for their onion, soybean and pulses. As thousands of farmers poured onto the streets, stopping traffic, attacking trucks and confronting police, things turned violent and five farmers were killed as a result of police firing and a curfew was imposed across five districts.Farmers from the Mandsaur-Neemuch stretch in the Malwa region, aside from growing soybean and chana, also grow a range of spices and medicinal plants like methi, dhaniya (coriander), jeera (cumin) and ajwain (carom seeds). Yet, farmers in the region claim that prices for these cash crops have been falling for the past few years. “We never sold methi below ₹4,000 per quintal during the Manmohan Singh’s government. But ever since Modi became PM, methi prices have collapsed,” says Dinesh, showing methi gunny bags stored in his house.In addition to low prices, what has aggravated the situation is the Central government’s demonetisation move late last year that has adversely hit the rural and agrarian economy. “Notebandi has almost finished us in the rural areas. Even after selling our produce, we don’t get money in our hands before at least two-three weeks and sometimes even a month,” says Lalchand Mali, a farmer from Barkheda Panth.Interestingly, not many farmers in the region are seeking loan waiver as is being claimed in the media. Most of them want better and remunerative prices that cover their costs and provide them income for survival. “Believe me, no true farmer would want loan waiver. If the government provides better prices, we will repay our debt. The problem is the government never provides better prices,” adds Lalchand, who owns a two-hectare plot in the village.The Maharashtra stir
Pune: A youth from the Dhangar community tried to attack Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde in Satara district on Friday, allegedly over the issue of renaming Solapur University.The youth, Maruti Jankar, tried to hit Mr. Tawde as he made his way to the dais, but was held down by a couple of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporators accompanying the minister. The police later detained the youth. Mr. Jankar allegedly belongs to the Malhar Kranti Morcha, a group that is pressing for Solapur University to be named after Ahilyabai Holkar, the 18th century Maratha queen who ruled Malwa and is revered by the Dhangar community. In a similar incident earlier this week, Dhangar community members threw bhandara (a yellow powder) at Mr. Tawde at a function in Solapur. The minister was heckled throughout the programme. The Lingayat community, meanwhile, has demanded that Solapur University be renamed after Basaveshwar, the 12th century poet, philosopher, statesman and founder of the Lingayat sect. Mr. Tawde said his office had received applications for three names — Siddheshwar, Basaveshwar and Ahilyabai Holkar — to be given to the university. “But it appears that some impatient people are bent upon jumping the gun … The university senate has to first pass a resolution on the matter, and only then can the State government give its approval,” he said.
Government officials and sources in the BJP have raised doubts over whether Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will attend the budget session of the Legislative Assembly scheduled to begin on Monday.Mr. Parrikar is being treated at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai for pancreatitis and related ailments.A senior Assembly official, requesting anonymity, said, “The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) will decide whether to shorten the budget session to three days, which is due to start on Monday and end on March 22.” Speaker Pramod Sawant later told reporters that a BAC meeting had been convened on Monday to decide whether to curtail the session.Sources in the Goa BJP also said that Mr. Parrikar was not likely to attend the budget session. They said that in case Mr. Parrikar fails to make it to Goa, the budget — scheduled to be presented on February 22 — would be presented by a senior cabinet minister. Presenting the budget Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo said, “Mr. Parrikar may not present the budget as doctors have advised him not to attend the session. The BJP has called an emergency meeting of the party’s legislature wing at 10.30 a.m. on Monday for party leaders to apprise MLAs on the Chief Minister’s health … The decision on who will present the budget will be taken at the meeting,” said Mr. Lobo.The BAC will meet after the customary address by Governor Mridula Sinha on the first day of the session, Mr. Lobo added. “We will shorten the session considering the CM’s health,” he said.Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said the Opposition parties would have no objection to the session being curtailed, as the Chief Minister was genuinely ill.Meanwhile, South Goa MP and BJP spokesperson Narendra Savoikar said on Sunday evening said that the Chief Minister would be continuing his treatment in Mumbai on the advice of doctors. “Mr. Parrikar’s treatment is going in the right direction, and he is responding to it. However, he needs sufficient time to recover. Doctors are taking good care of him. We all pray for his speedy recovery,” he said in a statement.
About 100 passengers held up the Mumbai-Katra Swaraj Superfast Express at Ambala Cantt railway station for nearly an hour over unclean coaches and dirty toilets in the train. Most of the protesting passengers were travelling in the AC coaches. They gathered on the platform and threatened not to allow the train to move till the coaches were cleaned. Station Director B.S. Gill and the railway police rushed to the spot and tried to persuade the irate passengers who remained steadfast on their demand. The railway officials then summoned a sanitation department team and all coaches and toilets were cleaned properly. Some of the passengers told reporters they would bring the matter to the notice of the Railway Minister. Over a week ago, Congress’ Amritsar MP G S Aujla had claimed that he had to pull the emergency chain of a train to get tanks filled after passengers complained they were unable to use toilets due to lack of water. Mr. Aujla, along with some senior Railways officials, had conducted a surprise inspection of a number of trains, including the Shatabdi Express, at the railway station at Amritsar, Punjab. He had claimed he had to pull the emergency chain of the Tata Muri Express to get its water tanks filled.
Ahead of BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Janata Dal (U) national executive on Sunday empowered Mr. Kumar to take all decisions on seat adjustment with the BJP for the 2019 general elections.The move was aimed at pressuring the BJP to come out with a firm offer to the JD(U) on seats. The JD(U) had earlier fought in 15 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under an old arrangement as part of the NDA before it walked out of the alliance prior to the 2014 polls. The NDA had won 31 seats in 2014 along with new allies, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP). Mr. Shah will be visiting Patna on July 12.Briefing the press after the meeting, party spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said Mr. Kumar in his address to the national executive had said that “no firm offer had yet been forthcoming” from the BJP and therefore no stance could be taken with regard to it.“We are in the NDA and in Bihar Nitish Kumar will be its face,” said Mr. Tyagi.Significantly, the party roundly condemned Union Minister Giriraj Singh’s visit to Nawada jail to meet Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists who have been lodged there for cases related to communal violence.“There is no question of any compromise with corruption, crime and communalism. Our government does not believe in shielding or framing anyone,” Mr. Kumar was reported to have said in the closed-door meeting to his party men.Later Mr. Tyagi too reiterated that position. “We are against communalism and Ministers going to meet the accused is completely unacceptable. We are against the Nawada incident and we don’t think it is right that a Cabinet Minister met the accused.”He added that the JD(U) was a separate political entity and had independent views from the BJP.Mr. Tyagi also recalled that the Janata Dal (U) had pulled out of the Mahagathbandhan because of the Congress party’s intransigence over allegations of corruption against then deputy chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.Interestingly he added that till the Congress clarified its position with regard to the RJD and the allegations of corruption against Mr. Yadav, there could be no talks on a return to the old alliance.Two resolutions were also passed by the Janata Dal (U) national executive on Sunday, one supporting the move towards simultaneous polls and the second opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.“We believe simultaneous elections will be helpful in curbing black money, corruption and aiding good governance but it will be difficult to implement without the requisite amendments to the Representation of the People Act and Constitutional changes,” said Mr. Tyagi.On the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, the party’s resolution stated that providing citizenship to people in India should be done without taking religion into account, and that a representation made to the party by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had convinced the JD(U) that damaging demographic changes in the north-eastern States may result from the Bill.
Violence over panchayat board formation claimed three more lives in Amdanga area of West Bengal North 24 Parganas district on Wednesday. Overnight violence was precipitated over panchayat board formation a Taraberia gram panchayat in the area. Two of those killed are supporters of Trinamool Congress, while the other person was an activist of Communist Party of India (Marxist). Supporters of both TMC and CPI(M) made allegations that they were targeted on Tuesday night by supporters of the rival parties with crude bombs. Six persons have sustained injuries and are admitted to R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital.The board formation at the panchayat has been deferred for indefinite period due to the violence. The Officer-in-charge of Amdanga police station Manas Das has been removed.“Police has conducted search and three arms, ten bullets and about 200 crude bombs. Ten persons have been arrested,” Inspector General, South Bengal, West Bengal Police Neeraj Singh said.The Supreme Court on August 24 ruled out re-poll on the 20% panchayat seats that were won uncontested by the ruling Trinamool Congress. Since then violence over forming panchayat board have been reported from several districts both in the north and south of the State. At least six people had died in the violence till Tuesday evening.
The Odisha government has reportedly made under-reporting of deaths caused by police action to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the most authentic source of information on crime and criminals in India. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has written to the Odisha Chief Secretary pointing out inconsistencies in information provided to the Commission and the NCRB. It sought an explanation for the mismatch.According to NHRC data, a total of 18 persons were killed in police action such as deaths in police custody, fake encounters and police firing in Odisha during 2016. But when information was finally submitted to NCRB, the total deaths on account of police action came down to five.Encounter deaths A total of four persons had died in police custody in 2016, according to NHRC. However, NCRB data show there were no deaths in police custody in Odisha that year. As many as 11 encounter deaths were reported by NHRC during the same period. The NCRB table shows the number of deaths in police firing, including firing in self-defence, as only five.The Odisha police had faced huge criticism after five persons, including two women and a child, were gunned down in a ‘botched anti-Maoist operation’ near Gumudumaha village in Kandhamal district on July 8, 2016. However, other States too have fared no better. In fact, discrepancy in information submitted to NHRC and NCRB has been found in the case of 16 States.NHRC sources said: “It can be seen that deaths in police custody or firing, including in self-defence, were reported in higher numbers to NHRC compared to NCRB by Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.”Huge inconsistency has been noted in the case of Chhattisgarh, which is badly affected by left-wing extremism. As per NHRC data, 87 deaths were caused by police action, including 81 encounter deaths in the central Indian State, while only four were reported to NCRB.Now, the Odisha Home Department has directed the DGP and the State Crime Records Bureau to furnish reports on deaths so that the discrepancy could be explained to NHRC.
With the Dhangar community upping the ante for reservation, a section of the community’s leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have decided to boycott Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s function in Solapur district on Wednesday.Since the past week, the BJP’s Dhangar community leaders in Solapur have been holding press conferences decrying the party’s hollow assurances of granting reservation under the ST category to Dhangars.“Before the 2014 general election, Mr. Modi had assured reservation for our community during a public address at Solapur’s Park Stadium, the venue for Wednesday’s function… It is to remind him of his pledge that Solapur’s Dhangar community has decided to stay away from his programme,” Ganesh Gawde, a Dhangar BJP leader, said.‘Community betrayed’He said Mr. Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had betrayed the community by not fulfilling the promise made at public meetings in Solapur and Pandharpur. “At the time, Mr. Modi had accused the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of cheating the Dhangar community. As a result, the community had wholeheartedly backed the BJP in the 2014 parliamentary and Assembly elections. But now, after nearly five years of BJP rule in the State, it is they who have not fulfilled their promises made to us,” Mr. Gawde said.Mr. Modi’s rally in Solapur will mark the official start of the BJP’s election campaign in Maharashtra. After pacifying the Maratha community with reservation, the BJP is now faced with the issue of Dhangar reservation. Before the 2014 Assembly election, the State BJP had brought some Dhangar leaders into its fold with promises of reservation. It inducted Mahadev Jankar, a Dhangar leader and chief of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, into the State Cabinet.TISS studyThe State government had commissioned the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to carry out a study on the backwardness of the Dhangars. But it has yet to make good on the TISS report. In 2017, Mr. Fadnavis had also announced that the Solapur University would be named after Ahilyabai Holkar, the 18th century Maratha queen who ruled Malwa and is revered by Dhangars.
The BJP’s disgruntled ally in Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Rajbhar, on Thursday handed back the Backward Caste Welfare department to the Yogi Adityanath government, accusing it of neglecting OBCs and discriminating against them. A Cabinet minister, Mr. Rajbhar will, however, retain the post of Disabilities Welfare Minister. Critical allyMr. Rajbhar is the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, an ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The two parties contested together in the 2017 Assembly elections, with the SBSP winning four seats, while additionally transferring its crucial Rajbhar vote to the BJP in the Purvanchal region.
Three civilian deaths on the Sadhna Top route, located at 10,269 feet, on Tuesday in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district has locals terming the road as a death trap during winter. They have demanded the re-opening of the shortest and all-weather route through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) into the Kashmir valley.At least six civilians were caught in a snow blizzard at Khuni Nallah on the way to Sadhna Top, connecting the Tanghdar-Karnah belt with the Kashmir valley, on Monday night. Six people were on the way from Kupwara to Karnah on foot when they were caught in a snow storm. “Only three persons managed to reach the Sadhna Top and three others died on the stretch,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said.“This tragedy is yet another reminder on the urgency of having a tunnel between Kupwara and Karnah,” said Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti.
The police in Arunachal Pradesh have not ruled out the possibility of an opium cartel being involved in the gunning down of a legislator and 10 others in the State’s Tirap district on Tuesday.Members of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM), are suspected to have killed MLA Tirong Aboh, 42, and the others at Bogapani, about 20 km from Tirap district headquarters Khonsa.Mr. Aboh was the National People’s Party candidate for the Khonsa West Assembly seat. He had won the seat in 2014 as a candidate of the People’s Party of Arunachal. The NSCN (IM) has denied involvement, blaming it on the propaganda of the Indian agencies to derail the “Indo-Naga” peace process, meaning its ceasefire with New Delhi since July 1997.“The ambush on the four vehicles the victims were travelling in bears the sign of an underground group, most likely the NSCN which has many factions. There are chances of connection of these groups with the opium growers,” said Sunil Garg, the State’s Inspector General of Police (Law and Order).Opium beltThe “TCL region” of southern Arunachal Pradesh has for long been notorious for the turf war between the NSCN (IM) and NSCN (Khaplang) besides illicit opium cultivation. TCL expands to Tirap, Changlang, and Longding districts.According to a 2013 survey by the Narcotics Control Bureau, opium cultivation is widespread in TCL, the adjoining districts of Anjaw and Lohit and in Upper Siang. An earlier survey by the New Delhi-based Institute of Narcotics Studies and Analysis said every family in 90% of the villages in Anjaw and 63% of villages in Lohit district was cultivating opium.Security agencies say members of the extremist groups either fund or are directly involved in the opium cultivation and trade to sustain their subversive activities. Chopper scan Extremists of all shades have used the hilly, densely forested terrain of the TCL region as a corridor to and from safe havens in adjoining Myanmar. Of the factions, the NSCN (IM) has been enjoying the upper hand in this region because of pressure on the Khaplang group from both the Indian and Myanmar armed forces.“Our informers said 14-15 people ambushed the MLA and escaped into the jungles. We have been using helicopters to scan the routes the assailants might have taken,” an Army officer said on condition of anonymity. “There are no arrests yet, but with reinforcement and help of the armed forces we hope to have a breakthrough soon,” Mr. Garg said.Though officials said other factions could be behind Tuesday’s killing, the needle of suspicion is more on NSCN (IM) because of its alleged push for including the TCL region within Greater Nagalim, envisaged to bring all Naga-inhabited areas of the northeast under one administrative umbrella. Four communities — Nocte, Tangsa, Tutsa, and Wancho — that were clubbed as “other Naga tribes” in the Scheduled Tribe list were said to be the primary reason behind the NSCN (IM)’s bid to control the TCL region. Arunachal Pradesh has been resisting this bid. In 2018, the Centre changed the “other Naga tribes” to name the four communities individually. Mr Aboh belonged to the Nocte community.New SUVMr. Aboh’s 20-year-old son Longgem was driving the SUV that they had bought from a showroom in Assam on Monday. He had come down from Bengaluru, where he was studying, for his summer vacation. A leader of the NPP’s State unit said the MLA and members of his family had been receiving threat calls. “FIRs were filed at the local police station but there was no action although some sort of security was provided,” he said, adding that the attack on Mr. Aboh could have been “politically motivated”.
Google Glass, the tech giant’s experimental eyewear-based computer, may soon give epidemiologists a faster and more reliable way to track infections and other diseases. Researchers report online today in ACS Nano that they’ve created an app that allows Google Glass wearers to snap pictures of common immunology-based diagnostic tests and immediately beam those images back to a central computer server. Software on the server then processes the image information, determines a diagnosis, and relays the information back to the wearer. Because the Google Glass transmits location information, the approach can also be used to map the spread of diseases that are being tested. The researchers showed that the latest approach to epidemiology worked to track both HIV infections and levels of prostate-specific antigen, a molecular marker associated with prostate cancer.See more ScienceShots.
Male diving beetles need fancy footwork to catch a mate. Females in the aquatic beetle family Dytiscidae thrash around to dislodge pursuing suitors, requiring males to use adhesive hairlike structures on their feet to mount them. Scientists believe this chaotic copulation sparked an evolutionary arms race where some male diving beetles evolved circular suckers on their feet in place of the grooved spatula-shaped structures more commonly found on other beetles. To find out whether the suckers provide a tighter grip, a research team removed legs from sedated male diving beetles and measured the force required to pry the adhesive structures from smooth surfaces. The circular suckers withstood seven times more horizontal force than the primitive spatula-shaped structures and offered stronger long-term underwater adhesion, the team reports online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The researchers believe both structures could inspire improved designs for underwater attachment mechanisms used by scuba divers and maritime salvagers.
Geckos are renowned for their ability to scurry up walls, clinging to surfaces with the help of tiny rows of hair on their toes that generate a subtle electrical attraction known as the van der Waals force. But scientists don’t know whether the lizard actively controls its clinging ability using fine muscle movements in its feet or whether its feet are just intrinsically sticky. To decide the issue, biologists at the University of California, Riverside, tested the clinging force of five tokay geckos before and immediately after the lizards were sacrificed. The researchers built a device that dragged the geckos’ feet across an acrylic sheet in a controlled manner, allowing them to precisely measure the pulling force on the reptiles’ toes. To the scientists’ surprise, a dead gecko’s foot held to the surface just as tightly as a live gecko’s foot, they report online today in Biology Letters. The result shows that geckos do not rely on muscle or neural activity to adhere to surfaces, the researchers say. On the other hand, to detach from a surface, a gecko hyperextends its toes, an ability that appears to be unique among lizards with padded feet.(Credit for linked videos: William Stewart and Timothy Higham)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
TOKYO—Investing in the world’s capacity to respond to epidemics “is really investing in the resilience of the global economic system,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said here today in advance of an international meeting in Japan.Kim met reporters in Tokyo ahead of a U.N. disaster risk reduction conference that begins tomorrow in Sendai. Last October, in the wake of what he called a “late, inadequate, and slow” global response to the Ebola outbreak, Kim floated the idea of a pandemic emergency facility. Today he expanded on the idea, including why the World Bank should be involved.He said natural disasters and disease outbreaks have a devastating impact on economic growth, with the countries and citizens least able to afford it bearing the heaviest burden. The World Bank has estimated that the Ebola epidemic is taking a $1.6 billion bite out of the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. “Prior to the start of the epidemic, these three countries had some of the highest [economic] growth rates in the world; now their rates are expected to be near or below zero,” he said.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The World Bank committed more than $500 million to address the crisis, but the money only started flowing 8 months after the outbreak began, he said. “We need to respond much more quickly to the next outbreak,” he said. And that requires better planning.His proposed pandemic emergency facility would build on lessons learned from the Ebola crisis. “The World Health Organization [WHO] has to be at the center of the response,” said Kim, a physician and anthropologist who once headed WHO’s HIV/AIDS department. He said WHO’s response capacity has deteriorated in recent years and should be restored. “If we had enough money at WHO I think we could have put out the Ebola epidemic much earlier,” he said.Kim said the response to bigger epidemics, which he considers inevitable, will require coordination among a number of U.N. agencies. For example, the World Food Programme might contribute its expertise in moving supplies, while the United Nations Children’s Fund could apply its knowledge of working with grassroots health networks. But those roles need to be defined in advance, he said. He would also like to see the creation of a large reserve corps of doctors and nurses for emergency duty and periodic drills “to keep ourselves prepared for when big events happen,” he said.Planning for a major health emergency should involve financial and business players from both the private and public sectors, he noted, as epidemics can wreak havoc with economic activity. Bringing insurance companies to the table will help focus attention on the economic risks of disease outbreaks, he argued, and pharmaceutical, transport, and communications companies all have vital roles to play in responding to a disease outbreak.Kim said he had a hard time gaining the attention of finance ministers and bank officials when he was working in public health. But now that he’s president of the World Bank, he said, “they have to listen to me.”
Donald Trump has claimed that the Americans are living through the “greatest jobs theft” in the history of the world, saying US companies were moving out jobs to countries like India, China, Mexico and Singapore. Related Items
Lizzy Mathews, 65, an Indian-American nurse has sued Denver Health Medical Center saying that she was fired for supporting President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, according to The Denver Post.The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver against Kelly Torres, nursing manager, and Marc Fedo, director of acute nursing, alleged that Mathews be given back her pay and receive punitive damages for emotional trauma after the hospital reportedly terminated her employment for having a political conversation with a patient, according to The Denver Post.Read it at New India Times Related Items