Two male students of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Goa, landed in the soup for allegedly disrespecting the Holy Communion during a mass at Our Lady of Snows Church, Rachol, in South Goa on Sunday.According to church authorities, the students, from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, had joined the mass and entered the communion procession thinking it is the “prasad” of Christian faith. The duo later claimed they were not familiar with Catholic worship.As they did not like the taste of the bread and wine, one of them spat it out and tried to cover it with mud outside the church, while the other held it in his hands. They were stopped by some church-goers who brought this action to the notice of the parish priest, Fr. Eremito Rebello.On finishing the mass, the priest tried to calm down the people. He tried to contact the guardians of the students, however, they could not be reached, even after nearly three hours. The priest then approached the police.The boys asked forgiveness and gave a written apology at the Margao police station. Their guardians also apologised for the incident.Fr. Victor Ferrao said, “It being the season of lent, Fr. Rebello forgave them. He also sought to meet the parents of the boys.”South Goa SP Chandan Chowdhary said the issue was amicably settled.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to respond to a petition seeking contempt of court action against State authorities for failing to vacate five former chief ministers overstaying in government bungalows.A Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra sought the response from the Director of Estates of the State government within three weeks as to why the government bungalows allotted to them were not vacated in time.Uttar Pradesh-based NGO ‘Lok Prahari’ sought action against the authorities for acting in contempt of a Supreme Court verdict on August 1, 2016 directing them to ensure that the former chief ministers vacated the bungalows.The five ex-CMs of UP are Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and N.D. Tiwari. Another former chief minister Ram Naresh Yadav is no more.In its last year verdict, the court had held that former chief ministers should hand over possession of the bungalows occupied by them.It had said the state government should also recover appropriate rent from the occupants of the bungalows for the period during which they were “unauthorised” to do so.It had also said that the local laws only gave largesse to former chief ministers “without any element of reasonableness”.The judgment had come on a petition filed by an NGO, Lok Prahari Foundation, exposing the fact that these former chief ministers were occupying Type VI government bungalows even after demitting office. It challenged the validity of the Ex-Chief Ministers Residence Allotment Rules, 1997, allowing life-long residence to them.In one case, the court found that a former Chief Minister was allotted a bungalow on lease for 30 years, renewable for another 90 years at a yearly rent of Re. 1.Uttar Pradesh had argued that the court had no jurisdiction to interfere in its executive decisions. It denied any preferential treatment as former Chief Ministers were treated as a “class of persons” under the Rules. It had said some of them enjoyed Z-plus security and required proper supporting infrastructure.Countering this, the Supreme Court had pointed out that the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1981 specifically provided that a government minister, including Chief Minister, should vacate his or her bungalow within 15 days of demitting office. eom
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday sought the state government stand on a plea that claimed the popular game of card poker was one of skill and not a form of gambling.Justice A.S. Supehia asked the government to file an affidavit by May 22 spelling out its stand on the petition filed by the Indian Poker Association (IPA) last October.The single-judge bench sought the government’s stand while also allowing the IPA to amend its plea to seek an interim relief.The IPA had moved the court last October, seeking a direction to the state government and the police not to interfere in the activities of poker clubs under the Anti-Gambling Act.The IPA said today that since it moved HC last year, the police raided over half a dozen poker clubs in the state and forced them to shut down. It sought an interim restraining order against the police.The Ahmedabad police commissioner issued a notification on May 2 saying that poker is a game of chance and is not exempted under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, the IPA said. The Act exempts the games which involve skill.The IPA petition contended that poker is not governed by the act as it is a game of skill.During an earlier hearing, the Gujarat government counsel had said the state government considered poker to be a form of gambling.
MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party and the Lok Insaaf Party were physically removed from the Punjab Assembly by the marshals on Thursday after they created an uproar in the House over the issue of their suspended colleagues being stooped from entering the Assembly premises.MLAs of AAP, the main Opposition party, and an MLA of its alliance partner LIP, shouted slogans against the the Congress government and the Speaker. Later, some of them rushed into the Well of the House, demanding that AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira and LIP leader Simarjeet Singh Bains — who were last week suspended for the rest of the budget session, be allowed to enter the Assembly premises. As the disruption continued, the Speaker Rana K.P. Singh suspended all AAP members for the day. Aam Aadmi Party MLAs were physically removed from the House after the Speaker directed marshals to take them away. Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs were also suspended for the day after they protested against the manner in which the Aam Aadmi Party members were shunted out of the House. CM slams OppositionMeanwhile, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh lashed out at the Opposition for their behaviour, which he termed was rowdy and obstructive. “Opposition is resorting to obstructionist behaviour. While AAP could be given the benefit of doubt since they were novices and did not know how to function in the Assembly, but the Akalis were also behaving similarly, clearly indicating that it was a deliberate ploy to prevent the government from implementing its promises to the people,” said Captain Amarinder. Leader of Opposition H. S. Phoolka told reporters that while they were being pushed out of the House by marshals, turban of an AAP MLA was tossed and two other legislators sustained injuries who were taken to hospital. “Its an undemocratic attitude of the Speaker..It reminds us of emergency days,” said Mr. Phoolka, outside the House.
Congress’s Gujarat in-charge Ashok Gehlot today said the party would focus more on urban areas, following its dismal performance in major cities in the state Assembly elections last month. Talking to reporters here, Mr. Gehlot said the results in urban constituencies were unexpected, as the popular mood seemed to be in the Congress’s favour.“Poll results in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot were quite disappointing. It was not expected, looking at people’s mood, particularly in Surat. The results were totally unexpected and beyond our understanding,” said the Congress general secretary.“So we have decided to focus on cities and address the issues of city-dwellers to strengthen the party in urban areas. We will continue raising the issues concerning the rural population too. The Congress would do the same thing in other parts of the country too,” he added. The Congress, which put up a tough fight to the incumbent BJP in the December 2017 Gujarat elections, received a major setback in urban areas. The opposition party won only four out of 36 seats across the four major cities. The Congress won four out of 16 seats in the Ahmedabad city, while it failed to open the account in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot cities, where the BJP made a clean sweep. Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, who had supported the Congress, too had announced after the election results that his outfit would focus more on cities.
The authorities placed Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest on Monday, the 28th death anniversary of his father Moulana Muhammad Farooq, as Kashmir valley witnessed a shutdown.The Mirwaiz’s father was assassinated on May 21, 1990 by gunmen in Srinagar.A large part of Srinagar’s old city, especially Jamia Masjid and the graveyard at Eidgah, were sealed by the security forces. The Hurriyat had called for a public rally on the occasion.However, the Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest. Other senior separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, were also detained. “The stringent curbs imposed in entire downtown to foil the Eidgah rally tells about the ruling regime’s fear of peoples power. The ruling regime doesn’t have the courage to meet us on political turf,” said a spokesman of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a joint form of separatists. The separatists shutdown call impacted the normal life. Most educational institutes, markets and shops remained closed on the occasion.
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma The starting point of the expressway is located nearly 8 km from the Haryana-Delhi border on National Highway-1 but it is a struggle to locate it because there are no signages en route. The approach road is inconspicuous with only a small board in a corner highlighting the beginning of the EPE. There is another board which indicates that the road leads to Ghaziabad, without any mention of all the other destinations connected, such as Hapur, Meerut, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Palwal.Lack of proper road signs was in fact the biggest sore point of the journey. There are seven exit points on the EPE, many of which are indicated only once and if you miss those you could end up driving for much longer than you planned to.Still worse, the exit points are named after villages situated nearby such as Baghpat, Duhai, Dasna, Dadri, Atali-Chasna. If you are not familiar with Uttar Pradesh, you will not know that these are exits leading towards Meerut, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Faridabad.An official of the National Highways Authority of India acknowledged the problem. “We are making improvements on the basis of the feedback. Though road signs have been put up, there are many loops and inter-changes, people get confused. We will be adding more signs and will also ensure several indicators before every exit point,” he said. A view of solar panel unit, from which solar panels were stolen at Eastern Peripheral Expressway. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma No traffic monitoringWhile the EPE has been called the country’s first smart expressway and was expected to be installed with the latest technology such as CCTVs, variable message signs for displaying important information for road users and overspeed checking system, on the ground we did not spot any. There was only one surveillance vehicle, which was manned by personnel who didn’t seem to have any training in crisis management or providing first-aid. As a result, there were several instances of trucks and trailers coming from the opposite direction.The NHAI official told The Hindu that there is a plan to install Intelligent Transportion System for pro-active monitoring and taking pre-emptive actions, but it could take at least 12 months.Works incompleteThe EPE is far from being a finished product and was perhaps inaugurated in a hurry. While the tolling will start only from June 15, construction work is still on all the toll gates, except at Baghpat where the PM inaugurated the expressway. As a result, at all entry and exit points there is only passage open for vehicles. For example, at the exit for Dadri, there is only a skeletal structure for the toll gate, which is unlikely to be ready by June 15.At Duhai, the slip road for vehicles exiting from EPE and merging with the traffic on NH-58 is not ready, which is a serious safety hazard. The entrance to Duhai, too, is not ready, with only one of the two lanes constructed leading to traffic congestion. We also saw that work on painting of road markings was still on.While the EPE promised all modern public amenities such as restaurants, washrooms, petrol pumps, repair shops, none of these exists on ground. So, if you are travelling on this highway, do remember to pack some food along.No powerThe EPE has been called the first green expressway and equipped with eight solar power plants with a capacity to generate 4 MW of electricity. However, officials say at least three solar panels have been found to be stolen. While, the NHAI has sought electricity supply from seven different zones along the expressway, many are yet to provide power. As a result, there is no streetlight during the night.However, driving through the EPE is still a breeze as there are no traffic signals or congestion. One can complete a journey from Kundli to Noida in almost an hour, nearly half of what it would take otherwise.For truck drivers, it also means that they don’t have to wait for 11 p.m. to enter Delhi and pay a hefty pollution cess.According to the data collected by NHAI, the EPE is able to stop significant number of cars, trucks and multi-axle vehicles from entering Delhi and provide them an alternative route to reach Ghaziabad, Noida and Palwal. On June 3, a total of 13,100 vehicles entered EPE at Kundli and 7,400 vehicles exited at Palwal.Officials say that the trend is on the rise and they expect this figure to double in the coming days.Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Y.S. Malik said the exact number of vehicles being stopped from entering Delhi will be known once the Western Peripheral Expressway (Kundli-Manesar-Palwal) is open as many vehicles headed to Palwal and beyond will have the option to use both the expressways. “We expect to know the effective traffic count by December.”
Two days after raids and arrests across the country with respect to the Bhima-Koregaon clashes on January 1, 2018, a petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide, an accused in the riots case.Social worker Anita Sawale, in a petition filed through advocate Suresh Mane said, she had got an FIR registered on January 2, 2018, after the clashes that broke out the previous day resulted in the death of a youth, Rahul Fatangale, and in large-scale destruction of property. Besides Mr. Bhide’s arrest, the plea seeks a free, fair investigation. It also sought records and proceedings of investigation against him.
The police on Monday arrested the son of Uma Devi Khatik, BJP MLA, for allegedly threatening to kill Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on a social media post, an official said.Princedeep, 19, used objectionable language against Mr. Scindia, who represents the Guna Lok Sabha constituency, and threatened to shoot him if he visited Hatta, said Hatta police station in-charge Dharmendra Singh.Mr. Scindia is scheduled to visit Damoh district on Wednesday.“The FIR was lodged by Congress leaders after they came across the post allegedly posted by Princedeep on Facebook, following which he was arrested,” Mr. Singh said.The accused Princedeep is the son of who represents Hatta assembly seat in the Legislative Assembly.The FIR was lodged by Youth Congress leader Anurag Vardhan Hazari, the officer said.He said Princedeep was brought to the police station by his MLA mother.He has been booked under various sections of the IPC, Singh said.
As many as 42 people have been arrested in a drive against illegal arms in this district, police said here on Tuesday. Also, a large number of arms have been recovered following raids at illegal weapons manufacturing units in the district, they said. According to SSP Sudhir Kumar, the drive was a carried out on Monday and a large number of country-made weapons were seized. A house in Khatoli town of the district was raided by police which led to seizure of some arms while one person was arrested, SP City Ombir Singh said.In Jolla village under Budhana police station, an illegal arms manufacturing unit was unearthed and a large number of weapons being made there was seized, a police official said, adding one person has been arrested in this connection.
For the 23rd year, researchers have compiled a “state of the climate” report—and as report cards go, it’s not a good one. Using data from satellites, buoys, and weather stations worldwide, 384 scientists from 52 countries looked at various trends in temperature, precipitation, sea ice, and greenhouse gas concentrations, to name a few. Atmospheric concentrations of planet-warming carbon dioxide reached a record 392.6 parts per million in 2012, the researchers report online today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Last year also posted records for carbon dioxide emissions (including an estimated 9.7 billion metric tons of carbon), the heat-trapping effect of major greenhouse gases, including CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide (up 32% since 1990), and sea-level rise (up an average of 68 millimeters globally since 1993). The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the world, the researchers note, and accordingly the effects there are particularly pronounced. In September, the area covered by Arctic sea ice (image) reached a new low of 3.4 million square kilometers—an area about twice the size of Alaska and a whopping 18% below the previous record set in 2007. June snow cover on land in the Arctic (a climate measure that’s now declining faster than sea ice) also reached a new low in 2012, and permafrost temperatures in northernmost Alaska reached new highs. Overall, 2012 was one of the 10 warmest years on record—and wasn’t warmer thanks to the lack of an El Niño. (That climate phenomenon results when sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific climb more than 0.5°C above normal for an extended period, triggering changes in weather patterns and generally boosting global temperatures in the process.)
After decades of logging, Lambir Hills is a lonely island in a sea of oil palm plantations. A paved road has eased access by tourists and nearby residents of Miri, attracted by its waterfalls and sparkling pools. Loggers have built roads into previously isolated areas, enabling outsiders and migrants to easily hunt. After decades of logging, Lambir Hills is a lonely island in a sea of oil palm plantations. A paved road has eased access by tourists and nearby residents of Miri, attracted by its waterfalls and sparkling pools. Christian Ziegler The diversity of large animals has declined dramatically over the last 3 decades, including gibbons (photographed elsewhere), flying foxes, and sun bears. Much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America suffers from poaching and overhunting. Lambir Hills National Park in western Borneo is one of the most diverse forests in the world, renowned for its 1173 trees species. Slideshow: The empty forest ‹› Hunting has meant that just small animals remain, such as geckos. Every 5 years, scientists measure every one of the 370,000 trees and saplings in a 52-hectare plot at Lambir Hills. This work is already revealing changes to the plant community. Borneo’s indigenous nomads, the Penan, long made a living by hunting, but their impact was minimal. They would move their small forest camps when game became scarce. Christian Ziegler Christian Ziegler Christian Ziegler Mattias Klum/National Geographic/Getty Images Lambir Hills is also home to a diversity of insects. By Erik StokstadJul. 24, 2014 , 2:00 PM Christian Ziegler Yvan Cohen/LightRocket via Getty Images Lambir Hills National Park in western Borneo is one of the most diverse forests in the world, renowned for its 1173 trees species. Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images The forest contains a great array of fruits, which are transported by wind or various animals. Hunting could eventually change the forest. Christian Ziegler In many parts of the world, hunting is taking a steep toll on wild animals. This week, Science takes an in-depth look at how overhunting has affected one of the most diverse forests in the world. Lambir Hills National Park in western Borneo, depicted in this slideshow, is protected from logging and agriculture, but the diversity of large animals has dropped precipitously over the last 3 decades. Researchers are learning about the knock-on effects that could put the forest itself at risk. A related special issue lays out how humans, in addition to hunting, are inflicting many kinds of harm on animal communities.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(*) Christian Ziegler Christian Ziegler
When President Barack Obama spoke about the U.S. military helping combat the Ebola epidemic on NBC News’s Meet the Press this past Sunday, Tim Flanigan, an American clinician working in Monrovia, says he was “ecstatic.” It was exactly what many of the people leading the Ebola effort in Liberia, the hardest hit country, had been hoping for. But that joy turned to dismay the next day, when Flanigan learned the details of the Pentagon’s plans.Obama pledged “to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.” On Monday, a Pentagon representative said the military planned to send only a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. “It’s not going to make any dent in Ebola treatment for the people of Liberia,” Flanigan warns. “It’s such a small number of beds and they may well be directed toward non-Liberians.”Flanigan, who works at Brown University and from 1999 to 2012 headed the infectious disease unit there, arrived in Monrovia on 1 September and plans to stay for 2 months. A Catholic deacon, he is also working with health-oriented church groups and is blogging about his experience.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(*)Flanigan says the Liberian and international officials and workers he has been speaking with had expected the U.S. military to set up field hospitals that have the capability to help up to 400 people. There’s a vast shortage of beds for Ebola patients in the nation, and standard care is in short supply even for people who are admitted to what are called Ebola Treatment Units. News that just a single, small facility would be coming was disheartening, he says, given expectations.“The American military has the capabilities and the know-how and the training—and their infectious disease experts are second to none—to come in and establish an Ebola Treatment Unit that would be able to care for a large number of patients,” he insists.For the U.S. military, it is “a top priority” to get the “field-deployable hospital” to Monrovia and “we expect it to get there rapidly,” writes Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. The military is also working with partner agencies—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Agency for International Development—“to assess the situation in the affected areas to determine what additional needs and resources are needed or required,” Derrick-Frost writes.A field-deployable hospital can be moved on pallets by plane and quickly set up, which DOD plans to do before handing it over to the Liberian government. “The intent of this piece of equipment is to provide a facility that health care workers in the affected region can use for themselves if they become ill or injured,” Derrick-Frost writes.Flanigan says a stronger U.S. military response could help solve another upcoming problem that Liberia’s badly fractured health care system cannot address. There’s a push to treat Ebola patients with blood from people who survive the disease and possibly give infected people untested drugs, as well as a separate effort that may offer experimental Ebola vaccines to health care workers and other front-line responders. But hospitals and clinics do not currently have the capacity to gather the blood and tissue samples needed to study the impact of these interventions, Flanigan says. “We are not going to learn what we desperately need to know about treatment and prevention of this disease,” he says. “This isn’t in the best interest of the Liberian people, West Africa, or Americans.”*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.
During his visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address scaled-down invitees. About 1500 invitees will be selected by lottery after they register on a website created for the event.PM Modi will have bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and with several Commonwealth heads of government.Read it at Conneted to India Related Items
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nagpur on Saturday has been cancelled owing to the forecast of heavy rain in the city. The PM was to inaugurate several projects such as segments of the Nagpur Metro, including the 11-km Aqua Line from Lokmanya Tilak Nagar to Sitabuldi stations. Officials of the State Protocol Department said the programmes in Mumbai and Aurangabad will be held as planned. “We received a warning from the India Meteorological Department that the orange alert has been converted to red, which means heavy rain between 125mm and 200 mm in less than 24 hours on September 7. In view of the warning we have called off the visit,” said an official of the State Protocol Department. Senior officials said the government will soon announce a new date for the programmes. The Prime Minister will unveil three Metro lines and Metro Bhavan in Mumbai, while he will throw open industrial and rural projects in Aurangabad.
Curfew-like restrictions were reimposed in the entire Srinagar and parts of the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday to disallow Muharram processions by Shia Muslims, days after the government banned them because of the restive situation.Security forces deployed buses, mobile bunkers and bullet-proof vehicles as barricades to cut off the Shia-majority areas of Zadibal, Hasnabad, Baghwanpora and Hawal in the old city. An official said Section 144 was strictly enforced.Spools of concertina wires were spread on the roads to restrict the movement of vehicles, and to stop devotees from converging on the traditional routes for joint processions.The commercial hub Lal Chowk and uptown areas of Rajbagh were also brought under restrictions.An official said the Shia Muslims were confined to their localities and allowed to organise smaller gatherings in local Imambaras. No major procession was reported from the traditional routes of Alamgari Bazar, Nigeen or Bohri Kadal. Locals said devotees made an attempt to defy the ban at Alamgari but were contained by the security personnel.“It’s the first time in three decades that processions were disallowed in Srinagar,” said Ashiq Hussian, a local.The government has decided to ban all Muharram processions in Srinagar “to avoid any loss of life and property” this year.Smaller gatheringsSmaller processions were allowed in parts of Budgam and Ganderbal districts in Central Kashmir. The police said no major restrictions were imposed there.Meanwhile, Kashmir Valley saw a spontaneous shutdown for the 37th day on Tuesday. All shops remained closed and public transport remained off the roads.
Krishna Devi*, who estimates her age to be around 50, lives on the edge of a large patch of land in a tiny village in Chakia block in East Champaran district of Bihar. On these roughly five acres of land, Devi sows paddy in the rainy months and corn later in the year. She harvests the produce. She is also the family’s cook and housekeeper. “My mother is the best cook in the world,” says Raman Singh Manjhi, 34, her eldest son.On paper, though, Krishna Devi is dead.In reality, it was Devi’s husband Jogesh Singh Manjhi who died some three years ago. In an ideal world, his land would have legally passed on to his wife. But the village elders got together and advised Devi’s sons to register the land in their name as soon as they could. This they would not have been able to do as long as their mother was alive. So the three brothers set about bribing the village officials and managed to procure a death certificate for their very alive mother. After this, they managed to register the land collectively in their three names.There is a complicated story of oppression behind this baffling turn of events.The Manjhi family are Musahars, which translates as ‘those who feed on rats,’ a throwback to their original occupation as rat-catchers. One of the most marginalised groups in India, the Musahars are classified as Mahadalits and are mostly landless labourers concentrated in eastern U.P., southern Nepal and Bihar. Over the years, a few social welfare programmes have seen a little success, and some Musahars are slowly clawing out of poverty.Threat of dabangsThe Manjhis of Jamunia are one such family. “We are one of only five Musahar families in this village that own land,” says Raman. But this ownership is often a precarious affair, not to be taken for granted. Raman, referring to the economically stronger community of dominant caste landowners in this region, says, “It will take the Bhumihars just a few days to take this land away from us. Especially if the landholder is a woman.” In the villages of Champaran, women don’t frequent the land records or patwari office. And many Dalit women have discovered, often after the lapse of many years, that their names have been replaced in land records by the names of men from the dominant castes in the region. They find one fine day that the fields they have been tilling so diligently is officially no longer theirs.Which is why the Manjhi family was so keen to transfer the land ownership from their mother. Yet, even with the land safely in the names of her three boys, Devi has no peace of mind. Scared for their safety, she asks, “My boys are still young. What if a dabang harms them?” Dabangs are the village strongmen, usually hired by upper caste men to scare the Dalits into submission.Distressing figuresIn these parts, as in most of India, a Dalit owning land is seen as an act of defiance, and Dalit women especially face the brunt of the resentment. Supported by age-old patriarchy and rigid social systems, land ownership has always had a clear hierarchy, mostly determined by economic class which, of course, is inexorably linked to caste. And when gender is thrown into the mix, the Dalit woman ends up on the lowest rung of the ladder. Therefore, in this case, Devi had to be declared officially dead in order to ensure that her family was not cheated of their land.The last report of India–Land Livestock Holdings Survey, a decennial exercise, was in 2013 and it throws up some rather distressing figures. Until 2013, more than 60% of Dalit households did not own any farmland. About 70% of Dalit farmers were categorised as “labourers” in the 2011 Census.There are no separate figures for how many Dalit women own land, but “there might not be more than a handful across the country,” says Amar, who goes by only his first name. He is the founder of a non-profit organisation called Samajik Shodh Evam Vikas Kendra, based in Champaran.Overall, women make up more than one-third of India’s agricultural workforce, but only about 13% of farmland is actually owned by them. Most often, they get to own farmland when they inherit it, which became possible after the passage of The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 that ensures equal inheritance rights for women. In the case of Dalit communities, however, since their forefathers have never owned any land, the inheritance rights of women matter little. It was to right this historical wrong that independent India introduced land ceiling and redistribution acts. Since land, however, is a State subject, the reforms were successful in different degrees across States.For the landlessAfter 1947, Bihar’s political leaders, as in many other States, were mostly from the Congress, the strongest political party then. They belonged principally to the dominant castes. They owned large tracts of land, and they opposed any land ceilings sought to be imposed by the government. It is no surprise then that in the 60s and 70s, when the Naxalbari movement demanding “land for the landless” broke out in eastern India, it made deep inroads in Bihar as well.But it took much more prodding before the State initiated land redistribution in a serious manner in the 80s. Many Dalit families were given land during those years, but only a handful have managed to take actual possession of them.In Kundia village, I meet another Musahar family, and they too speak on condition of anonymity for fear of being beaten up by the Bhumihars in the village. This family was given roughly two acres of land in 1983, for which they even have ownership papers. Yet, they have not been able to take possession of their lands. “The bhaiyya log take away the produce that is grown on these lands,” says Shaila Devi, the matriarch of the family, referring to the dominant caste men of her village. “And the patwari says that we should be happy to merely see our names in his books.”In the 1990s, many such families saw a ray of hope when a backward caste leader made land reforms a major campaign issue. Lalu Prasad Yadav went on to become the Chief Minister of Bihar. Many Dalit families were given land titles during his tenure, but little changed on the ground. As Shaila Devi explains, getting a land title without actual possession of the land is like women being made the village Sarpanch when the actual power still rests with the husbands.Then, in 2005, Yadav was replaced by the current Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who took over the reins in Bihar for the first time. Taking a cue from the successful land reforms in West Bengal, Kumar constituted the Bandhyopadhyay Commission to study how the project could be replicated in Bihar. The Commission recommended allotting 0.66 acres of farmland to oppressed caste agricultural labourers. The report, however, simply gathered dust in the capital city of Patna.The asset scaleEarly this year, the results of a two-year study done jointly by Savitribai Phule Pune University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institute of Dalit Studies were released.The study, titled ‘Wealth Ownership and Inequality in India: A Socio-Religious Analysis’, found that the Hindu high castes have four times more wealth than the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.The Hindu high castes form 22.3% of the population but own 41% of the country’s total wealth, and are the country’s richest group. Their wealth surpasses that of any other socio-religious group. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes form 27% of the population and own 11.3% of the country’s total assets.Given that land and buildings account for more than 90% of the country’s assets, the study found that inequality in these two assets “is responsible for more than 83% inequality in the country.In the woman’s handsWhen Dalit men have no claims to land, expecting Dalit women to have any seems naive. But the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises the significance of women’s land rights, and links it to poverty reduction, increased food security, and gender equality. It stands to reason, therefore, that one of the best ways to ensure social justice for Dalit communities would be by giving them land rights.It has been established that when women own and possess land they, in turn, gain socio-economic status and decision-making power in the community. Dalit women in Jamunia village agree. “Land gives us security for life. We do not have to rely on entitlements that the government doles out on a whim,” says Mayuri Devi, adding that she would not have to live off anyone’s charity if she owned land.In 2014, Bihar got its first Dalit chief minister in Jitan Ram Manjhi. Finally, some life was infused into a land redistribution programme called Dakhal Dehani. Under this programme, the Chief Minister, who belongs to the Musahar community, ensured that Dalits with property title deeds were helped by the government to reclaim possession of their lands if these had been encroached upon by others.Since 2017, however, with a Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party coalition in power, the programme seems to be dying a slow death. In January, about a hundred Dalits in Sitamarhi district organised a sit-down protest. They were fighting the forced evacuation of 316 Dalit families from 10.7 acres of land on which they had lived since 2003. The families claimed possession of the land under the Dakhal Dehani scheme, and demanded the title deeds from the administration, but the dominant castes used local strongmen to try and force them off the land. The Dalits allege that handmade bombs were thrown at them, while the block development officer claims that they were injured in a fire.Twelve of the protesters were admitted to hospitals in Patna and Muzaffarpur for injuries. One of them was Anari Devi, a 61-year-old farm labourer. “She was fighting for a piece of land that she will never own or possess,” says Awadhesh Kumar, Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha. “Women have always been at the forefront of battles waged for the betterment of their communities, have they not,” he asks.(*Names changed to protect identity.)The freelance writer focuses on human rights and politics. Women make up more than one-third of India’s agricultural workforce, but only about 13% of farmland is actually owned by them. There are no separate figures for how many Dalit women own land, but there might not be more than a handful across the country, say experts. | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang | Photo Credit: PTI