Several passenger aircraft landed at the Agartala airport on Monday as flights for Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport were diverted to different destinations due to bad weather. Eight flights made a halt at the airport which could not even operate routine flights for Kolkata.“There was an emergency situation due to incessant rains and heavy winds in Kolkata. Nearly 30 midair flights were diverted to different sectors as a safety measure,” an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) told The Hindu.He said flights were told to land in the Agartala, Bhubaneswar, Bagdogra and Ranchi airports. The diversion started in the morning, he added. The situation also disrupted normal flight operations from Agartala.
Panaji – Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on his 62nd birthday on Wednesday said in the coming year he would work towards extending the duration the State Legislative Assembly meets to more than 45 days a year. He was speaking to reporters at the State Legislative Assembly complex after cutting a cake in the presence of legislators and Speaker Pramod Sawant during a break in the winter session of the Assembly, which began on Wednesday. Mr. Parrikar said, “My resolution is that the House should run for a longer period. From the coming budget session, the House should run for a minimum of 40-45 days a year. So, next year, I will cross 40 days because if a House functions for a longer time, then those who asks several questions can then spread their questions over more days. If the House does not run for a longer time, there are no pointed questions. If there are no sharp questions, there are no solutions.”
What happened?On January 1, members of the Dalit community on their way to Bhima-Koregaon, a village near Pune, were attacked, allegedly by Hindutva forces. In the violence, a young man was killed. Protests erupted, and by January 2, they spread throughout Maharashtra. Prakash Ambedkar, head of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh party and a grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, called a State-wide bandh on January 3.Why is Koregaon-Bhima important?The Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) is a memorial for British East India Company soldiers killed in a battle on January 1, 1818, in which a small group of infantrymen — about 500 of them Mahars (a Scheduled Caste community) — held off a numerically superior force from the army of Peshwa Bajirao II. The Mahars fought alongside the British, some accounts say, because the Peshwa had scorned their offer to join his army.That battle has not found a place in public memories of that time. Dalit activists put this down to a Brahmanic hold on the telling of Indian history. After Dr. Ambedkar visited the site on January 1, 1927, it became a place of pilgrimage for Dalits, an assertion of pride. In recent years, attendance has been in the lakhs, with Dalits coming from all over India. This year, the bicentenary, saw an especially large influx.What triggered the violence?Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son and successor, was captured by the Mughals; according to legend, he was tortured and his mutilated corpse thrown into the Bhima river. Govind Mahar, a Dalit, gathered the dismembered parts of his body and performed the last rites; later, Mahars of the village erected a memorial to Sambhaji. Govind Mahar’s tomb stands near Sambhaji’s in Vadhu-Budruk village, near Bhima-Koregaon.On December 29, a board came up in Vadhu-Budruk hailing Govind Mahar, which, locals say, irked the Marathas in the village, who believe that their ancestors performed Sambhaji’s last rites. Mahar’s tomb was vandalised. On January 1, a mob of 1,500 gathered and, armed with stones, bottles and sticks, attacked buses on their way to Bhima-Koregaon; they threw stones and torched more than 10 vehicles. The violence continued for over four hours. The police remained spectators, and the administration seemed unprepared for the unrest, though it knew of the assembly of a large number of youths at Vadhu-Budruk.Who instigated the violence?News reports say Manohar (a.k.a. Sambhaji) Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan and Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi instigated the violence. Mr. Bhide, whose stronghold is Sangli district, has close ties with the RSS. He claims to travel across the State, lecturing the youth on Shivaji and his work. He has had cases filed against him for inciting protests against the film Jodha-Akbar, and is believed to have been involved in the Sangli-Miraj riots. Mr. Ekbote is a former BJP municipal corporator in Pune. After the party denied him nomination, he formed his own outfit, Hindu Ekta Aghadi. He, too, has been charged in the past with fanning communal tensions. Cases have been filed against both under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.What happened during the bandh?On January 2, Dalit organisations took to the streets in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Nagpur, Pune and many other districts, blocking roads and trains and allegedly forcing closure of commercial establishments.On January 3, in Mumbai, local trains and Mumbai Metro suspended a number of services; vehicular traffic, too, came to a halt, and many schools, colleges and offices remained shut. Similar protests brought life to a stop in every district. Violence erupted in Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Kolhapur, among other places. The bandh was arguably the biggest since 1997, when Dalit organisations protested against police firing at Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, Ghatkopar. This bandh served as a potent reminder of Dalit strength and brought Mr. Ambedkar back into the reckoning as a political force and voice of Dalit aspirations.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday rapped the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for not submitting a plan on the disposal of muck from the construction site of the Chardham highway project in Uttarakhand.A Bench headed by NGT acting chairperson Jawad Rahim gave the authorities time till April 19 to comply with the previous orders and file the action plan.Noting that the Ministry had failed to submit a plan despite the tribunal not passing any interim order, the green bench said: “Even muck dumping plan which we had directed to file has not been filed or produced today. This can hardly be appreciated. Be that as it may, we restrain ourselves from imposing cost but we make it clear that no further adjournment would be granted in the case.”The green panel further said that its previous orders would be continued till any other order is passed.Earlier, on March 21, the NGT had said: “Material placed by the project proponent (MoRTH) shows that the project activity has commenced somewhere in the year 2015, therefore we do not intend to pass any interim order but till further hearing of the issues, the project proponent should restrain from felling of trees.”NGO for stay on projectThe directions came while the tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Citizens of Green Doon, a Dehradun based NGO that had sought a stay on the road widening project. The petitioners had further claimed that the construction work was being carried out in violation of environmental laws.
The Odisha government on Tuesday decided to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi for two years from October 2 this year. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Secretariat here. He said people belonging to all sections of society will be involved in the anniversary celebrations in the State.Observing that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to develop society on the principles of truth and non-violence, Mr. Patnaik said that he had proposed to include ‘Ahimsa’ in the preamble of the Constitution.Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Narasingha Mishra, former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang, Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda, Gandhian leader Bhabani Charan Patnaik and several MPs and legislators also attended the meeting.Mr. Panda informed that five sub-committees have been constituted for the celebration of the anniversary in a grand manner. Padayatras and memorial meetings will be held across the State during the two-year period, he added.The Minister said that Gandhiji’s birth anniversary would be celebrated in schools, colleges, urban local bodies, blocks and gram panchayats. A new website will be opened to propagate the messages of Gandhiji.In order to commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Cuttack, a function will be organised in the city on March 23 next year, Mr. Panda said.Statues of Mahatma Gandhi will be erected at all district headquarters and one major road at the places Gandhiji visited will also be named after him. Gandhiji had visited Odisha eight times and toured different parts of the State.The Odisha government is also considering convening a special session of the Assembly in 2019.
A new world record was set in the holy city of Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali on Tuesday with over three lakh “diya” or earthen lamps lit up simultaneously on the banks of the Sarayu river, officials said.Rishi Nath, official adjudicator of the Guinness World Records, made the announcement that the record was created at the Deepotsav event on the ghats here. “A total of 3,01,152 diya were lit up simultaneously for a period of five minutes, which is a new record,” Mr. Nath said in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook.The target was to illuminate a total of 3.35 lakh diya on both sides of the ghats at Ram Ki Paidi here.“It beat the earlier record set in Haryana in 2016, where at an event 1,50,009 diya were lit,” Mr. Nath said and hailed the new record as “phenomenal”.
Scientists are striking back at activists who destroyed genetically modified (GM) “golden rice” plants in a test field in the Philippines last week. “It is an unconscionable criminal act to destroy a field trial conducted in accordance to international safety norms,” reads an online petition that has garnered nearly 2000 signatures in the past few days.Golden rice carries two foreign genes that together produce beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Scientists and public health advocates see golden rice helping to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, a scourge of the poor in developing countries that can lead to blindness and other health problems. But critics argue that GM food crops pose poorly understood health and environmental risks, and some have tried to halt research by destroying test plots, such as those in Philippines. Scientists must respond to such attacks, petition organizers say. “It is important that the community come together and explain there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops,” says geneticist Channapatna Prakash of Tuskegee University in Alabama, who initiated the petition. He says when they reach 5000 signatures they will send the statement to policymakers and politicians in the Philippines and other countries to convince them that “they must move forward with this research.”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(*)
What makes some people slender and others full-figured? Besides diet and genetics, the community of microbes that lives inside us may be partially responsible. New research on twins suggests that lean people harbor bacteria that their obese counterparts don’t have. And, given the chance, those bacteria may be able to prevent weight gain. But don’t dig your skinny jeans out of the closet just yet. So far, the work has been done only in mice. What’s more, the bacterial takeover requires a healthy, high-fiber diet to work, illustrating the complex relationship between diet, microbes, metabolism, and health.Our intestines are home to at least 400 species of bacteria, and evidence is building that the balance of microbes in our internal ecosystem has far-reaching effects on health, including brain function and risk of cancer. A study last year showed that transferring gut bacteria between humans reduced insulin resistance, which is linked to obesity.To explore how microbes differ between obese and lean people, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis took gut bacteria from four pairs of identical and fraternal twins; one sibling in each pair was lean and the other obese. Then they transplanted these microbes into mice that had no intestinal microbes of their own. The mice who got microbes from the lean twins stayed lean, the researchers report today in Science. Those that got microbes from the obese twins increased their body fat by 10% on average, even though they were eating the same amount of food.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(*)What would happen if these two sets of microbes got mixed up in the gut, the researchers wondered. Led by microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon and graduate student Vanessa Ridaura, the team took advantage of one of the rodents’ least endearing habits: They eat each other’s poop. After letting this happen, the researchers discovered that microbes from the lean twins seemed to be particularly good at taking hold in the gut ecosystems of the mice that started with obesity-associated microbes. And after those bacteria moved in, the mice didn’t gain weight. The most invasive species of microbes from the thin animals were in the Bacteroidetes group, which has previously been associated with leanness in mice and humans. The obese mice seemed to have unoccupied niches that the Bacteroidetes could easily move into.To figure out what the gut bacteria might be doing, the researchers looked for bacterial genes that were active in the two kinds of mice. The heavier mice had higher levels of proteins involved in detoxification and stress responses; the lean mice expressed more genes involved in breaking down dietary fiber.Diet, it turns out, was key to the impressive properties of the microbes from the lean twins. All the mice in the first round of experiments had been eating chow that was high in fiber and low in fat. The researchers then prepared a mouse-pellet form of an unhealthy human diet, high in fat and low in fiber, and housed svelte and heavy mice together again. They found that, with this diet, the microbes associated with leanness didn’t colonize the cagemates’ intestines.This work was rigorously done and fits in well with earlier findings, including the idea that Bacteroides may protect against weight gain, says Alan Walker, a gut microbiologist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the study. What’s new here, he says, is that the researchers began addressing the question of how that protection might work: which species are responsible, what genes they use, and what diet they require.”This study is an important step toward ultimately answering these questions,” says microbiologist Peter Turnbaugh of Harvard University. A valuable result of this work, they both agree, is that it sets up a way to test the effects of microbial therapies on human gut bacteria (even though the bugs are living in a mouse). The authors suggest that a logical next step is to use the animals to measure the effects of particular foods or ingredients on gut ecosystems.The mouse experiments also provide a way to test fecal transplants, which can cure a potentially fatal intestinal infection in humans and show potential for treating other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. There’s a danger inherent in this approach: Transferring human feces into a patient’s colon runs the risk of transmitting pathogens as well. Walker and the authors note that a well-tested “next-generation probiotic” consisting of known beneficial microbes delivered as a pill or other therapy could take the place of fresh feces, and this mouse system provides a way to identify the most effective bacteria, the diseases those bacteria can treat, and whether a particular diet is necessary.”There’s a major way to go before you can translate these results to humans,” Walker cautions. A weight-loss probiotic isn’t a simple next step, as the researchers found when they isolated 39 of the beneficial Bacteroidetes species. The mixture was unable to cause the same effects as mouse poop, possibly because the Bacteroidetes aren’t acting alone and more of the microbial players need to be identified.
A U.S. Senate bill intended to crack down on frivolous patent lawsuits has floundered after months of negotiation between key stakeholders. The bill aimed to discourage so-called patent trolls—companies that amass patents with no intention of making any product and instead generate revenue by filing suits against allegedly infringing firms. But opponents of the bill—including university groups and biotech firms—feared the Senate’s offensive against patent predators would make it too costly for legitimate patent holders to protect their claims.On Wednesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT), who introduced the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act in November 2013, pulled it from Thursday’s Judiciary Committee agenda. “Regrettably, competing companies on both sides of this issue refused to come to agreement,” Leahy said in a statement. The bill has been postponed repeatedly, and it is now unlikely that Congress will have time to act on it this year.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(*)Opponents of the bill claimed certain provisions would make protecting their intellectual property prohibitively risky and expensive. One major concern was a provision that tries to discourage unfounded patent infringement lawsuits by requiring the losing party to pay the winning party’s legal fees. That might force patent trolls to think twice about taking a company to court, but it might also frighten a small business away from entering complicated litigation, says John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a Washington, D.C., group that represents major research campuses. “Universities don’t sue over patents very often, but their startup companies may, and neither universities nor startups have deep litigation budgets,” Vaughn tells ScienceInsider. (AAU supported language that would require the court to consider fee shifting only in certain circumstances.)AAU, along with other organizations including the American Council on Education, the Association of University Technology Managers, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, issued a letter on 20 May encouraging the committee not to support the bill. Another provision that makes them uneasy is the requirement that a patent holder who files a lawsuit disclose anyone with a financial interest in the patented product. That requirement is intended to prevent large, predatory patent holders from disguising themselves behind small shell companies, but it could also have negative effects on universities, Vaughn says. For one, it could put off venture capitalists who want to remain anonymous when investing in a new technology. The bill’s provisions “are all targeted at abusive practices, and we recognize that,” Vaughn says, but “universities saw unintended consequences that would sweep in legitimate behaviors.”Technology companies, whose tangled assortments of patents make them prime targets for patent trolls, are among the bill’s supporters. The delay in the Senate is “deeply disappointing,” said Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association, whose members include Google, Facebook, and Amazon, in a statement. Beckerman suggested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) bypass the Judiciary Committee altogether by calling for a vote on similar legislation that passed in the House of Representatives (over the opposition of university groups) this past December.Meanwhile, two bills now in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate commerce committee aim to put more restrictions on demand letters—notices demanding licensing fees for infringement, which patent trolls often send out en masse with little detail about the patent in question. Vaughn says that compared with the Senate’s broad attempt at reform, this more targeted legislation has a better chance of becoming law this year.
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His father was a rabid fan of Wayne Gretzky, who shone as part of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Edmonton Oilers dynasty in the early 1980s.“Growing up in Vancouver, it wasn’t until I got into kindergarten that I learned there was a local team, the Vancouver Canucks, because my dad was such a Gretzky nut,” Pandher said.The sport of hockey has been deeply embedded within Canadian culture for well over a century, and now a new enclave of citizens are adding a new flavour.Read it at SCMP Related Items
The success stories of puppy fat and pimply romance are gone. It’s the more mature guys who are making the blood rush now.Gone are the days when we used to watch “puppy-love” movies like Bobby, Prem Rog or Love 86 with teenage lead pairs singing and running around the trees. The focus from lead actors in their late teens or early 20s has shifted to more mature looking heroes and heroines in their 30s. And all those Rishi Kapoors and Kumar Gauravs with puppy fat and chubby cheeks have given way to more serious “men” like Hrithik Roshans and Abhishek Bachchan. And even these superstars of the transition period have earned their place in the sun only after crossing their 20s.30s is the age to be hot in Bollywood!In early 2000, when 26-year-old Hrithik Roshan blazed up the Indian screens with Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, critics and audiences alike felt that a new star was born. But when his subsequent releases fizzled, he was quickly written off as a one-film wonder. The success of Koi…Mil Gaya in 2003 made his detractors say that the light-eyed actor only excels in his dad Rakesh Roshan’s films. But 2006 changed all that. Krissh, Dhoom: 2 and upcoming biggies like Jodha Akbar and Krrish 3 have pushed Hrithik to the Most Wanted League. And he is also now being considered a versatile actor who excels both in positive and negative roles. Critics have somersaulted and now say that it was only Hrithik who could have made “two scriptless films” reach the target of over $25 million in a year. The actor, now all of 33 years, is being christened “the most valuable person in the industry” and “the sexiest man alive.” For Hrithik Roshan, the 30s have obviously been magic.That is also so for Bachchan Junior. Audiences which had rejected Abhishek in his prime 20s in film after flop film, are now embracing his movies. Reportedly, he receives over 300,000 mails a month, which contain kundlis and marriage proposals (of course, that was before he tied the knot with Aishwarya Rai). A movie critic, who once ridiculed him, saying, “Since the time Abhishek Bachchan has started acting, every roadside loafer now thinks he can be a hero,” is now raving about his performances in movies like Bunty Aur Babli, Bluffmaster! and Guru.Saif Ali Khan’s story is another actor who fumbled into the 30s and only then earned his spurs. Even being Sharmila Tagore’s son couldn’t stop people from writing off the Chhote Nawab after a score of flops in a row. For years, the media awaited his announcement to retire, hurt when most of the producers hrefused to sign him for any of their movies. But one Dil Chahta Hai was enough to silence everyone. With his solo act in Hum Tum and the national award for best actor, he further consolidated his position. Now he is considered an able actor and a bankable star with eye-catching performances in Ek Hasina Thi, the English film, Being Cyrus, Ta Ra Rum Pum and the film that got confetti showered on him, Omkara.So what made Saif the Waif a superstar? “Times have changed. Saif has become mature; he gave his first hit when he had just crossed 30. He is now 37 and in the last seven years, he has been an integral part of about 10 films which rocked the box-office,” says a producer on whose door Saif used to religiously knock for a film. “In fact, all the heroes – Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, John Abraham, Akshaye Khanna, Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan and even Shiney Ahuja – are considered 30-plus hot commodities. Actually, you learn a lot about the rules of Bollywood, from acting to presentation to marketing, as you get older playing the game here,” he adds. While the box office and producers are favoring more mature actors, those in their 20s like Shahid Kapur, Kunal Khemu and Zayed Khan are either not offered any leading roles or even if they get any, their movies are washouts. Shahid’s Vivah earned its moolah only in small towns. Kunal’s Kalyug was greeted with mixed responses both by cinegoers and critics. Zayed Khan has not had a hit in ages. Maybe they are awaiting their 30th birthdays more eagerly than any other.Interestingly, this trend was not as visible before 2000. Every other film was either based on the life of college kids or was a love story involving pimply youngsters who couldn’t get married because of their parents blocking their path. Perhaps this genre of films became outdated as the actors who played these characters grew older. They started preferring characters they could fit into properly, rather than being taunted for their younger roles (we are not talking about Dev Anand, of course). Aamir Khan, who was once a teen idol and very much a chocolate boy, started accepting serious films like Akele Hum Akele Tum, Sarfarosh, Mela and Lagaan. His success inspired the other Khans to exit from the boy-next-door image and to experiment with new ideas and stories. Shah Rukh excelled as an actor in Devdas and Salman was appreciated in the runaway hit, Tere Naam.The emergence of the multiplex phenomenon has also played a prominent part in creating a market for mature actors who are acknowledged more (after the initial period of the giggle gaggles munching on their caramel popcorn and cooing over caramel cinestars). Today, if a viewer spends $6 on a movie, he wants value. The audiences now choose movies carefully, or so it seems, at least. The viewers want more than just a teenybopper love story. They don’t have any qualms about accepting “different films like My Brother…Nikhil, Omkara, Rang De Basanti and Guru.”“Basically, with the actors, the audiences have also matured. The liberty that viewers today have was not found in their counterparts who used to go to theatres before this millennium..” says Homi Adajania, director of Being Cyrus, the only Indian English film that grossed more than $5 million. “A common Indian has the option of seeing all kinds of movies, whether masala mainstream, hoary Hollywood or classic European-style movies. Simply put, the audiences are more exposed today to better and diverse cinema. The mature actors are experimenting with their looks and character. In his late 30s, Arshad Warsi has become a bigger star by doing supporting roles than he was by doing lead roles, 10 languishing years ago. Now every director wants him in the movie. Writers are crafting parts exclusively for him. He, like many of his colleagues, only accepts a comic or an offbeat role now,”Does that mean that the era of romancing around trees is over? Film critic Mayank Shekhar differs. “The concept of young romance is not going to die. Sooraj R. Barjatya tried to keep it alive by featuring Shahid Kapur and Amrita Rao together in Vivah. Earlier the competition was not that tough and actors were getting things easily. But now the whole scenario has changed. There are too many cute faces coming in and to get the right one is a tough job. In the 70s and 80s, there was a demand for fresh faces, which has now faded away. Only a few directors are willing to take chances on a newcomer and that occurs only if he or she is a star-son.”“At a macro level it looks perfect, but when observed at a micro level, even this trend has its holes. To get a hit film today, the entire packaging is important; the audience would accept you as a superstar only if you are ‘worth’ it. The Munna-Circuit hit pair of Sunjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi was not enough to save a mundane film like Anthony Kaun Hain? The actors are only accepted if they give good performances in outstanding films. It does not matter if you are Saif or Shahid,” adds Shekhar.Veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy concurs: “Maybe the people don’t have good scripts and subjects that can present teenagers in a better way. But there are a few people like Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is making Saawariya with Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam and Neetu and Rishi Kapoor’s son Ranbir Kapoor. There are no rules in the game of BO Success. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio were very new and created history after Titanic. To change and adapt is a law of nature and if the audience changes, cinema has to adapt to the changes.”For now, Shahid, Zayed, Kunal and their likes just have to wait a little to grow up and grow big.The beedi lights up only after the jigar gathers more aag.The women are not far behind, either. The ones who are going strong at the moment are also in their 30s (and here, we are not talking about Madhuri Dixit who’s making a comeback after just crossing her 30s, as well as Chirpy Chawla Juhi who has created another niche for herself altogether). The earlier trend of heroines debuting at 16-17 and retiring after marriage or when they hit 30, whichever came first, has been quite reversed. The most promising actress of 2005-2006, Vidya Balan, is rocking at 33 with big hits, and big-budget films in her kitty. In fact, she got her big break Parineeta only after crossing 30. No wonder she is smiling big!Similarly, 33-year-old Aishwarya Rai, arguably the most beautiful woman in the world, is also shining better than ever by flaunting her newly acquired sexy image (post-Dhoom: 2) and her subtle act in Guru. Seems marriage is not going to stop global citizen Ash either as she has blockbuster releases coming up which include Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Jodha Akbar and Ram Gopal Verma’s Sarkar 2. Bubbly Preity Zinta, too, is nudging at the peak of her career and has already nudged past 30. Remember, Salaam Namaste and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna? The lady also simply rocks in the promos of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, which has another lady nearing the 30s, Lara Dutta, keeping her company. Saif Ali Khan in OmkaraWith them is Preity’s friend or foe (or whatever) Rani Mukerji who is also witnessing a resurgence following a spate of flop movies three or four years ago. Starting her success journey with Chalte Chalte with her mature performance, she is continuing to win laurels in movies like Hum Tum, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, etc, Another mature lady is Bipasha Basu who can still give a run for anyone’s money or fag out a fresh teenager with her beedi. Shipla Shetty’s career has been completely rejuvenated post Big Brother and now in her 30s, she is an international celeb. And there is no stopping Mallika Sherawat who has made it her own way post 30s. She is almost 35 now and has a true blue Hollywood film, Unveiled in her kitty. Tabu and Urmila Matondkar like wise might be in their mid 30s but there is no slowing down as they are rocking with Cheeni Kum and The Namesake as well as the upcoming Mehbooba act Sholay’ respectively.On the other hand, the younger lot (Ayesha Takia, Amrita Rao) are facing tough competition from this older brigade and are finding it tough to hold on to their own. Didn’t Kangana struggle in Metro with her older competitors Shilpa Shetty and Konkona around? Teenager Sneha Ullal is still considered a clone of Ash, but is yet to get anywhere near her in more ways than one. But never mind, gurrls, your days are just some years away!— Sampurn Related Items
Latino dances are now the world’s hottest cultural diplomacy tool connecting people across continents. And in India, it is the new beat on dance floors.Dancers say the popularity of Latino dances lies in the inherent joyousness, the friendships it generates on the floor across cultural divides — and the free-flowing body language, open to improvisations.Last week a world Congress of Latino dances, India Fiesta Latina, brought more than 300 dancers from 30 countries and nearly 3,000 Latino enthusiasts for a four-day gala at the Jaypee Greens hospitality complex in suburban Noida.“Dances like the salsa, merengue, bachata and mambo are the social dances that can be danced any time, anywhere. You don’t have to know your partner or his culture. You just dance without fear of being misunderstood despite the physical proximity and the diversity of partners. Salsa teaches men to respect women on the floor,” dancer and choreographer Sunil Chopra, co-planner of the India Fiesta Latina, said.Chopra runs the Mundo Latino dance school with his dancer wife Shallu and Poland-based dancer Neeraj Maskara in the capital’s Greater Kailash area. The school teaches salsa and Spanish to nearly 100 amateur dancers for $30 for six sessions lasting for 90 minutes.“It is kind of a weekend dance school where we personally teach our students and encourage them to attend Latino dance congresses around the world,” said Chopra, who started training nine years ago with his wife in Miami.He estimates that Delhi alone has more than 500 dancers from all walks of life and that the number of dancers in India could go up to more than 10,000. Besides, hundreds throng “weeklong classes” organized by various contemporary dance schools.Latino dances derive from the African rumba rhythm, swing and pachanga beats from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Dominican Republic as well as the contemporary R&B and hip-hop genres of free-style dancing. But the elegance is very ballroom, Chopra said.Homemaker Arti Vij and her husband Shelley, in their 30s, are amongst those who love the “sensuous body movement of salsa and other Latino dances”. They drop in to a salsa dance class in southwest Delhi’s Dwarka every weekend. “I am keen to learn more. It makes me flexible and keeps me in shape as my job is sedentary. It is better than many other outdoor sports and easier,” Shelley said.“The idea is to look groovy, natural and sensuous on the dance floor,” said Gupsom Pierre, a Singapore-based Latino dancer and instructor.“The best salsa dancers are emerging from Asia. The Latino dances are all about discipline and overcoming challenges on the dance floor. I always use an element of ballet,” Pierre said.“Salsa is the same as mambo. Salsa literally means a hot chilli-pepper and vegetable sauce. In the 1950s, a journalist couple, while dancing mambo, said it was like salsa — heady and potent. The name was subsequently adopted. It alludes to the language of the body,” Pierre said.Latino dances have been drawing their rhythm and language from Bollywood lately, says Polish dancer Gosia Kulpa, who partners dancer Neeraj Maskara of Indian origin from Poland at Latino dance gatherings around the world. “Dances like salsa have some basic rules, but between them there is a bog space to improvise. It is a conversation between the bodies of the couple who pair on the floor. One questions with the body and the other answers,” Kulpa said.Bollywood movies like “Kites” (which stars Hrithik Roshan as a salsa instructor) “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Desi Boyz” have extensively used Latino dances — carrying the genres to the drawing rooms, said bharatanatyam dancer Prathibha Prahlad.“It is a connection in the deep sensitivity of people… though the roots of Latino music and dance are not the same as Indian dances. These are music and dance of the people belonging to the informal economy, speaking of their angst. Their beats echo in the developing economies of Asia and India,” Juan Alfredo Pinto, ambassador of Colombia to India said. Related Items
The outlook for Indian online retailer Flipkart was decidedly gloomy when Kalyan Krishnamurthy became chief executive officer in January 2017. The startup’s valuation was dropping, fundraising was more difficult and Amazon.com was pledging $5 billion-plus to siphon away customers.So the 46-year-old former hedge-fund manager took some risks. He fired senior managers, set more-aggressive sales targets, boosted spending on promotions and promised to dominate India’s festival-season shopping.His strategy worked, and now comes the return on those risks — a $16 billion initial investment from Walmart in Flipkart Group that helps cement the Indian company’s lead against Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Online shopping in India is projected by Morgan Stanley to reach $200 billion within the next decade, compared with $30 billion now.“His relentless focus and his aggressive execution changed Flipkart’s fortunes,” said Anil Kumar, CEO of RedSeer Consulting in Bangalore. “He brought the edge that Flipkart was missing.”The deal is the biggest-ever by a foreign buyer in India, and it represents a significant part of Walmart’s overseas expansion efforts. Since entering Mexico in 1991, the world’s largest retailer has closed money-losing operations in Germany and South Korea.Two years ago, Walmart sold its Chinese e-commerce business, Yihaodian, in return for a financial stake in JD.com, the smaller rival to Alibaba. The number of Walmart’s international stores hasn’t budged from about 6,000 since 2013, and it’s had to shutter outlets in Japan and Brazil.Krishnamurthy will remain CEO of Flipkart, Walmart said. The company, founded in 2007 by Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, is the most valuable of 10 unicorns in India, according to CB Insights, and backers have included Tiger Global Management, SoftBank Vision Fund, Tencent Holdings Ltd., EBay Inc. and Microsoft Corp.Krishnamurthy declined to comment for this story.“For Flipkart, this deal is more than just money,” said Satish Meena, a New Delhi-based senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “This deal with Walmart can provide Flipkart the expertise of running offline stores, access to sellers and manufacturers, supply chain and the know-how to get into the grocery segment.”Krishnamurthy spent seven years in EBay’s Asia finance operations before joining Tiger Global as its finance director in 2011. He first arrived at Flipkart in early 2013 as its interim chief financial officer to support the Bansals, who each spent time as CEO. They are not related.Yet their company struggled to maintain relevance against the behemoth Amazon, which was shut out of China by Alibaba and JD and didn’t want a repeat in India. Amazon committed $5.5 billion to its efforts, and country manager Amit Agarwal adapted the site to local conditions – such as simplifying the app so it didn’t crash cheap smartphones.That helped propel Amazon to No. 2 behind Flipkart in just four years, and the Seattle-based company started to eye a partnership with Flipkart. Both Bansals stepped aside for Krishnamurthy in January 2017 — a year that many observers said would be make-or-break for both him and the startup.Krishnamurthy started his tenure by trying to change the narrative from one of “deep-pocketed Amazon versus startup Flipkart” to one based on a homegrown operator knowing what 1.3 billion Indians want.He set goals for online traffic and sales, streamlined operations and fired poor performers. Krishnamurthy also implemented what he called the “80-20 rule” — focusing on the 20 percent of categories that generated 80 percent of Flipkart’s revenues. Those included large appliances, fashion and mobile phones.“He would pound on the doors of vendors to cut exclusive deals,” said Kumar, who watched Krishnamurthy in action. “He would get on a flight to meet the company executives to seal the deal.”India is a medley of income levels, languages and cultures — a place Krishnamurthy describes as “several countries within a country.” Krishnamurthy said he wanted Flipkart to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.The company introduced round-the-clock customer service, offered demonstrations to first-time appliance buyers and sent technicians to typically small homes to mount TVs on the wall. Krishnamurthy himself answered customer-service calls.“It is an eye-opener on how and why India buys online,” he told Bloomberg News during a 2017 interview at company headquarters in suburban Bengaluru. “It’s been a great investment of my time.”Krishnamurthy, who earned MBAs from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a sharp dresser who doesn’t look out of place among the millennial hordes at a workplace adorned with posters of Albert Einstein, Coco Chanel and John Lennon.The CEO is an ardent yoga practitioner, constantly sips water and bounds up and down the stairs at work. He is the father of two young daughters.He also takes his online shopping seriously.“I’m a big customer of Flipkart,” he said. “In fact, we have two of everything at home, and that really annoys my wife.”Bloomberg’s Shelly Banjo and Edwin Chan contributed.(c) 2018, Bloomberg Related ItemseCommerceFlipkartWalmart
Odisha government should seek more time from Supreme Court to complete the process of reviewing individual forest right (IFR) claims rejected under Forest Right Act, demanded tribal rights activists.Stating that IFR claims were rejected on frivolous grounds and due processes were not followed to review rejections, Campaign for Survival Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a forum which advocates rights of forest dwellers on forests, said gram sabhas should be empowered to prepare records, evidence afresh and submit the IFR claims.“The Supreme Court stay order on February 28 gave temporary relief to thousands of forest dwellers. However, the February 13th eviction order is still hanging over head of the lakhs of tribal and forest dwellers. Forest inhabitants whose applications have been rejected are facing an uncertain future,” said Gopinath Majhi, State convenor of CSD.“The IFR applicants have not been informed about rejection of their applications. About 51251 IFR claims have been shown rejected on the ground of lack sufficient evidence against the IFR claims in Odisha. We are of the view that let all these rejected IFR claims be sent back to the IFR claimants through the concern gram sabhas. They should be provided opportunity to submit application afresh with the required documents or evidence,” Mr. Majhi pointed out.He said 974 IFR applications were rejected due to incomplete application and forest dwellers should be deprived of their rights for their ignorance. Moreover, IFR claims were arbitrarily rejected by the officials at the sub divisional level committees.“Similarly, one of the reasons for rejection pointed out by SDLC is – land claimed is not forestland – in case of 32171 IFR claims. If the claimed land was not verified properly on the ground, how come the SDLCs and district level committees (DLCs) could know the category of the land claimed under IFR,” Mr. Majhi argued.The CSD said the huge procedural goof up made in past 10 years cannot be rectified in a month or two. It demanded all rejected IFR claims be sent back to concerned gram sabhas for carrying out demarcation of the claimed forestland afresh.The Supreme Court is set to resume hearings on the FRA on July 24.
Odisha’s sweetmeat traders’ association distributed 50,000 rasagolas free of cost to celebrate conferment of the geographical indication tag on the popular dessert here on Monday.“This is a matter of great pride for us that rasagola has been awarded the GI tag. The whole world has recognised that Odisha is the place of origin of the rasagola which is in circulation since the beginning of the famous Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath,” said Pramod Prusty, vice-president of the Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti.As per the application submitted to the Registrar of Geographical Indication, the Odisha rasagolas are white in colour and round in shape but off-white rasagolas in various shades are also prepared. The UMBS, which was an applicant for the GI tag, demanded that the State government raise awareness about the tag’s benefits. “We want the government to start filing applications for GI tag for other famous sweets,” said Mr. Prusty.
Watch | Assam’s NRC Final List is out 19 lakh people left out of Assam’s NRC Final List. What next?Volume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:5001:50 Unhappy with the number of people excluded, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has decided to challenge the findings of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the Supreme Court, which had monitored the exercise.The AASU, which spearheaded the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation four decades ago, first demanded an updated NRC in 1980. It was a signatory to the agitation-ending Assam Accord of August 1985 that sought “detection, deletion (from voters’ list) and deportation” of illegal migrants from the State.“The figure of 19 lakh NRC-rejects is not what we expected, given the history of large-scale influx into Assam. This NRC has turned out to be incomplete and error-prone. We will appeal to the Supreme Court to remove the faults and discrepancies,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said.NGO Assam Public Works, whose petition in the Supreme Court in July 2009 led to the start of the NRC exercise four years later, also criticised the findings. It said it would move the apex court again besides writing to the President of India, the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister for rechecking the final NRC figures.“We had fought for removing foreigners from Assam, not for their ‘Indianisation’ which is what the NRC has done. For more than a year, we have been telling the Supreme Court for 100% reverification of documents but the NRC State Coordinator’s claim of 27% sample reverification was accepted,” the NGO chief, Aabhijeet Sarma, said. “The NRC authority found 5,464 ‘Bangladeshis’ after 29% reverification in Cachar district, 4,096 in Dhubri district after 38% reverification, and 3,980 in Karimganj district after 25% reverification. If these many were detected, imagine how many would have been identified after 100% reverification,” he said.“We will leave no stone unturned for a quality check and a total reverification of the NRC documents. We will also demand an audit of the Rs. 1,600 crore spent on the update exercise,” he added.
Amid concern over the hefty fines for traffic violations, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said even he has been fined for speeding on the Bandra-Worli sealink in Mumbai. Talking to reporters about the major decisions of the Modi-led government in its first 100 days, Mr. Gadkari said abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir was the “most important achievement” of the government. Criminalisation of instant triple talaq and the amended motor vehicles law were some of the big achievements of the Centre, he said.“Even I have paid a fine for speeding on the Bandra-Worli sealink,” Mr. Gadkari said adding that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his cabinet collegaue Gen V.K. Singh also got speeding challans. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, approved by President Ram Nath Kovind last month, aims at stricter punishment for violation of traffic regulations and to bring discipline on roads.“Passing the MV Act amendment is a big achievement for our government. The high fines will lead to transparency, and (will) not result in corruption,” Mr. Gadkari said.Claiming that overspending on fines has helped people to adhere to traffic rules, Mr. Gadkari said: “For the new over speeding rules all are equal be it lawyers, doctors or politicians. We have increased the fines to save lives of lakhs of motorists.” The minister said road engineering is a reason, along with auto engineering, for the high incidents of accidents in India.Amendment of MV Act will improve road safety and reduce the number of road accidents and lives lost on roads, Mr. Gadkari said.
After a slew of defections from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections, now smaller parties like the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) have started losing key leaders.In a major setback to Mr. Shetti on Thursday, his right-hand man, Ravikant Tupkar, resigned from the Swabhimani Paksha. Mr. Tupkar, a mainstay of the party and one of its rising stars, is said to be joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) soon. His move has prompted the Swabhimani Paksha leadership to urge Mr. Shetti to step into the poll arena himself. Mr. Shetti told The Hindu on Friday, “[Mr. Tupkar] spoke to me yesterday and said he was taking this decision as he saw no future in our party. While his loss is undeniable as he was a good spokesperson who had come up from our farmers’ movement, none of his supporters have left our party.” Mr. Shetti had been resting his hopes on Mr. Tupkar to deliver the goods in Buldhana district, where the latter is said to have a strong following. In fact, prior to the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Shetti had asked for the Buldhana Lok Sabha seat from the Congress-NCP with the objective of fielding Mr. Tupkar.At the time, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had persuaded Mr. Shetti to settle for another seat (eventually, the Sangli seat) while promising to back Mr. Tupkar for a seat in either house of the State legislature. Since his upset loss in the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Shetti has focused on rebuilding his party and said he is not interested in contesting the Assembly polls. However, after Mr. Tupkar’s resignation, Mr. Shetti is mulling contesting the polls to rally his crumbling party. “I will announce my decision within two days,” he told The Hindu.Meanwhile, the VBA suffered a jolt after its spokesperson, Gopichand Padalkar, an influential Dhangar leader from Sangli district, recently resigned as the party’s general secretary.Mr. Ambedkar had inducted Mr. Padalkar, a former BJP leader with a deep affiliation to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, into the VBA. The move had raised eyebrows owing to Mr. Padalkar’s close association with Sambhaji Bhide ‘Guruji’, whose name had surfaced in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence.Mr. Padalkar had contested from the Sangli Lok Sabha seat on a VBA ticket, polling three lakh votes and affirming his hold over the Dhangar community. However, he changed his stripes soon after the conclusion of the Lok Sabha polls and is likely to rejoin the BJP.At a recent meeting with his followers, he said, “[The BJP-led government] is the first administration since Independence to attempt to do something for the welfare of the Dhangars. The other parties do not care anything for the needs of our community.”