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How Youngsters in Manipur Worked 10 years to Transform Barren Land into a Lush Forest

How Youngsters in Manipur Worked 10 years to Transform Barren Land into a Lush Forest

In recent years, there have been instances of people coming together for a common cause but such action is usually initiated by NGOs or catalysed by government schemes. Punshilok in Langol Hill Range, 6 km from Manipur’s capital Imphal, is a notable exception.

In a little over a decade, Punshilok has transformed from a dry, barren hill into a verdant forest teeming with wildlife. And this has happened due to the tireless efforts of a group of youngsters that was determined to restore the ecological balance that originally existed in the region.

The Incredible Transformation of Punshilok

In 2003, Moirangthem Loiya Ngamba was scouting for land to create a green space for the local communities. A passionate nature lover, he had recently founded his NGO, Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society (WAHPS), to conserve the rich natural wealth of the region.

It was during this time that a farmer from the foothills of Langol Range suggested a visit to a nearby hill, Punshilok. With a name that literally means ‘Spring of Life,’ this hill had once been an important forest during the reign of King Luwang Ningthou Punshiba, a ruler from whom many Manipuris trace their descent. However, years of deforestation, forest fires and indiscriminate utilisation of forest resources by villagers had rendered it barren

When Moirangthem came upon Punshilok it was straggly, rock-strewn patch of land with nothing growing on it except for some wild weeds. The gurgling stream flowing through it had plenty of water but was used mainly by herds of cattle and sheep, not humans. But somehow, he knew that this was the land he had been looking for.

Volunteers at Punshilok

With the help of a few friends, Moirangthem started by clearing the area of weeds. Next, they cleaned and de-silted the stream, making it a good source of drinking water for the people of the valley. This was followed by a major afforestation drive, with young boys and girls working relentlessly towards greening Punshilok.

To ensure that the saplings were carefully nurtured and protected, Moirangthem decided to make Punshilok his home. He built a small hut for himself and lived on the hill, all alone, for the next six years. Under his careful attention, lush green vegetation spread over the land, breathing life into it.

When wild animals started returning to the forest, Moirangthem hired caretakers to prevent hunting, poaching and deforestation. In order to protect Punshilok from wildfires, every November, he and his friends from WAHPS would camp on the hill and make fire lines (gaps in vegetation that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a wildfire) in the forest.

WAHPS Team

Today, Punshilok is a thriving forest that is a home to several species of wild animals such as pangolins, barking deer, porcupine and several species of birds. There are over 200 species of plants, including orchids, herbs and medicinal varieties, and over 20 species of bamboo growing in the forest. An important source of minor forest produce for the locals, the forest has also improved the micro-climate and augmented the water table of the surrounding area.

Visitors from near and far also visit this scenic and serene place to bird-watch, to meditate or to simply luxuriate in the lap of nature. Lushly-canopied mud paths, carpeted by fragrant blossoms, wind their way through the forest whose quiet environs is broken only by the chirping of birds and the distant beats of folk music, wafting up from the foothills below.

Over the years, WAHPS has grown by leaps and bounds under Moirangthem’s guidance to establish itself as an important nature conservation organisation. From tree planting drives to animal rescues, it has organised many environment-related activities with local participation. The NGO has also built a few eco-friendly shelters, where visitors and volunteers can stay or rest after toiling in the forest, and a small kitchen (run by the caretaker) at Punshilok.

https://eclecticnortheast.in/youngsters-manipur-worked-10-years-transform-barren-land-lush-forest/

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Trump and His Killing Machine

HARTFORD: A month into his presidency, Donald Trump announced that he would increase US military spending by $54 billion.

To do this, Trump said that he would cut the exact amount from the non-military, namely social, programs. The announcement came at the National Governor’s Association, which is made up of state leaders who have to bear the brunt of the federal cuts.

Money for homelessness and poverty, starvation and drug addiction will dry up, leaving state authorities with the paralytic duty of watching more and more of their residents wake up to the American nightmare. This is the old ‘guns vs. butter’ scenario taught to young students in elementary economics classes. If economics is a matter of choices over scare resources, and if budgets are a way to project your values, then Trump has made his views clear – guns matter more than butter.

The ‘guns vs. butter’ problem is not idle. The National Priorities Project looked at the $54 billion budgetary increase to the military and concluded that this increase itself is more than the discretionary budgets of the following US federal government agencies:

Department of Homeland Security ($48 billion).

Housing and Urban Development ($38 billion).

Department of Energy ($30 billion).

Department of Justice ($29 billion).

Department of State ($29 billion).

Environmental Protection Agency ($8 billion).

It is truly stunning to see the amount of public resources spent on the US armed forces as compared to what it spends on diplomacy and even on homeland security. Trump has said he would cut programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund the increase. The total outlay for these three agencies is $781 million. It is the cost of ten MV-22 Ospreys, one of which – at the cost of $75 million – had to be destroyed during Trump’s ill-fated Yemen raid this January.

The United States already leads the world in military spending. At around $600 billion per year, which is half the US discretionary budget, the United States spends more than the combined military budgets of the next seven countries. That means if you add the total military spending for China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan, then you are still a few billion dollars short of the US military budget. It is appropriate to mention that Trump’s increase in the military budget – by $54 billion – is itself eighty per cent of the total Russian military budget.

The scale of military spending is beyond obscene. Each Tomahawk Cruise Missile that the US sends into Syria or Iraq costs $1.41 million. The cost of the US bombing in Syria from August 2014 to January 2017 has been $11.4 billion – with an average daily cost of $12.7 million. More money has been spent bombing Iraq and Syria than is spent for environmental protection. No other country comes close in terms of expenditure on the military, in terms of the hardware available to the military and in terms of the global reach of the military as a result of aircraft carriers and overseas bases. There is no question that the United States military is the most destructive force on the earth.

But of course having the most deadly military does not mean that you can win wars. Wistfully Trump told the governors that in his youth the United States used to win wars. ‘When I was young, in high school and in college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. America never lost,’ whispered Trump. ‘Now,’ he said mournfully, ‘we never win a war.’ Trump’s sense of history is very poor. But it is of a piece with his general ideology – to Make America Great Again. It was once great. It is no longer great. But was America really able to once win wars?

Born in 1946, Trump was in high school when the war on the Korean peninsula went into a stalemate. The United States did not win that war. The armistice of 1953 merely divided the country. There is still no final peace settlement. In fact, the war is technically ongoing. There are 83 American bases in South Korea, and the bill for these installations is over $1 billion per year (South Korea pays an additional $867 million, about forty per cent of the cost).

When Trump was in college, the United States entered Vietnam, where it would leave in ignominy in 1975. No real wars have been won by the United States in Trump’s lifetime. Even World War II was not won solely by the United States. The Soviet Union’s immense sacrifices on the eastern front and the colonial troops valiant battle across North Africa, South-East Asia and Europe should not be underestimated. The ‘Greatest Generation’ is not only American. That is a grotesquely narrow view of World War II. Trump is right, however, that the United States does not win wars – neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq.

Trump believes that the United States has not won the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq because of a lack of funding for the military and because of too many human rights restrictions on the nature of combat. But perhaps the American problem in combat has got nothing to do with money or rules – for, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the US far outspent its opposition and it did not follow international norms of war or its own Army Code of Conduct. Massive aerial superiority combined with regimes of torture and night-raids did not win any of these wars.

What Trump does not acknowledge is that wars are not won by firepower and brutality alone, but they are won by being able to make a moral claim against an adversary. Thus far, the United States has fought wars of conquest and occupation – where the moral superiority of the occupier is impossible to establish. It was so hard that in 2002 even a US marine told me that he sympathized with the Afghans – ‘if someone invades my city,’ he said, ‘I’d take up arms and fight a guerrilla war.’ The illegitimacy of the wars is not something that occurs to people like Trump. You will win battles with better weaponry, but you won’t win wars that way. Wars are won on the moral plane, not on the battlefield.

As the UN resolution on decolonization noted in 1960, ‘The process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible.’ You can have the best guns, but you can’t destroy the human longing for freedom.

Strikingly, it does not occur to the liberals either. During his speech to Congress, Trump singled out Carryn Owens, the widow of US Navy Special Operator Ryan Owens, who died in Trump’s Yemen raid in the village of Yakla. After the speech, Van Jones, CNN analyst and a former Special Advisor to Barack Obama, said, ‘That was one of the most extraordinary moments in American politics. Period.’ There was no room for Jones to mention the illegitimacy of the US role in Yemen. The US provides arms to the Saudis who are bombing one side of the conflict in Yemen. The Saudis are also effectively using al-Qaeda fighters in parts of Yemen as their ground forces. At the same time as the US is indirectly supporting al-Qaeda via Saudi Arabia, it conducts a raid into a village in late January and massacres dozens of civilians (for more context, see my column from February 8).

Yemen’s foreign minister – Abdul Malik al-Mekhlafi – of the Saudi (and US) backed Yemeni government condemned the US attack on Yakla as ‘extrajudicial killings.’ There was no mention by establishment liberals such as Van Jones of the illegal nature of the raid. Nor did he demand a ‘Benghazi-scale’ investigation of the Yakla raid. Nor did he condemn the way Trump used the death of Ryan Owen to bolster his desire to increase military spending. None of that was on offer. Establishment liberals are as complicit as the Trump administration in such atrocities as the killing of civilians and the inhumane expenditure on military hardware rather than social goods.

The ‘military industrial complex’ has metastasized into each section of the US government, into each Congressional district. It is like Stage 4 cancer – rigid to the bones of American institutions. The obscenity of it cannot be questioned because of the fog of patriotism. To be a patriot is measured not based on your commitment to end hunger and illiteracy amongst your people. Rather it is measured based on your commitment to give your people a gun in their hands and to make sure your military is funded beyond imagination. Countries are hollowed out by such poor distribution of their resources and by imperial wars that can never be won.

(Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.)

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/10059/Trump-and-His-Killing-Machine

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Karnataka Govt. Scraps Bengaluru Steel Flyover Project after Hard-Fought Campaign By Citizens #Goodnews

NEWS

Thanks To A Long,

The Logical Indian

March 2nd, 2017

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News Source: thenewsminute, yourstory

The Karnataka government has scrapped the controversial Bengaluru steel flyover project.

Briefing reporters, Bengaluru development minister KJ George said, “We have cancelled the project as we have been forced to prove our sincerity. There are corruption charges being levelled against us when not a single rupee has been taken as kickback by us … We do not want to take the blame for something that we have not done, so we are dropping the project. The steel bridge project had become a pain point for us as the media has been speaking on a daily-basis about corruption in it.”


Background

There was a lot of hue and cry over the Karnataka government’s decision to build a steel flyover in Bangalore, covering a distance of 6.72 km to ease the commute from the city to the international airport.

The decision drew the ire of environmentalists, technocrats, and citizens who organised large protests against the project which was slated to cost a staggering Rs. 1,800 crore and result in the cutting down of 812 trees.


What was the flyover about?

The Rs. 1,791 crore project by the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) was a six-lane steel flyover from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal. It was to ease traffic pressure to the International Airport at Devanahalli. The proposed project, the BDA said, would be completed in 24 months and be open by 2018. It was estimated that as many as 2.68 lakh vehicles would have use the flyover every day on completion.


The problem

During the construction of this flyover, around 812 trees would have been chopped down. It was also estimated that the expenses of the flyover would increase because of maintaining the steel.

Flyovers have only limited success in ensuring smooth flow of traffic. The flyovers just shift a jam from one place to another. The traffic will increase in the coming years, and the steel flyover will also get clogged.

The only solution to the city’s traffic burden is to promote mass transportation such as monorail, light rail transit, commuter rail system and the metro, which cost less and have a higher carrying capacity of passengers per hour per direction.


The protests

The project saw strong protests from the older residents of the Bangalore. The basis of these protest was that the project would significantly reduce the green cover of the city and would encourage more private cars to ply in the city instead of people preferring to take public vehicles.

Citizens started online petitions to garner the support. Historian Ramachandra Guha, actor Prakash Belawadi, entrepreneurs Priya Chetty Rajagopal and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and many other public personalities had voiced strong protests. The protesters used #SteelFlyoverBeda to voice their protest. They also took the signatures of people on the ground.

https://thelogicalindian.com/news/thanks-to-a-long-hard-fought-campaign-by-citizens-karnataka-govt-scraps-bengaluru-steel-flyover-project/

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Censor Board blocks Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes because it ‘glorifies homosexuality’ #WTFnews

Censor Board blocks Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes because it ‘glorifies homosexuality’

Weeks after the Censor Board made headlines for blocking filmmaker Prakash Jha’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, director Jayan Cherian’s Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes has been denied certification by the Central Board of Film Certification which said that the movie is “glorifying the subject of gay and homosexual relationships.”

The director shared the letter in which the second revising committee from the CBFC said that they have unanimously decided not to certify the film as “the religion of ‘Hindu’ is portrayed in a derogatory manner.”

“It is official, Mr Pahalaj Nihalani put the final nail in my coffin!” Jayan Cherian posted on Twitter.

Ka Bodyscapes chronicles the story of three young people in Calicut: Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player, and their friend Sia and their struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian city. It stars Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi.

The CBFC, last month, had refused to issue a certificate to Lipstick Under My Burkha citing the most absurd reason as it claimed that the film is ‘lady oriented.’ The letter, which CBFC had issued in support of its statement, read:  “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines (sic).”

The Censor Board’s decision to deny a certificate to Lipstick Under My Burkha was severely panned by celebrities, including Farhan Akhtar and Kabir Khan, as well as board member Ashoke Pandit, who condemned the move as an “act of arrogance by chief Pahlaj Nihalani.”

http://www.timesnow.tv/entertainment/article/censor-board-blocks-malayalam-film-ka-bodyscapes-because-it-%E2%80%98glorifies-homosexuality/

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Indian traders boycott Coca-Cola for ‘straining water resources’

Campaigners in drought-hit Tamil Nadu say it is unsustainable to use 400 litres of water to make a 1 litre fizzy drink

A drinks delivery driver in the suburbs of New Delhi.
Water usage by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in India was highlighted after low rainfall in the last monsoon. Photograph: Tengku Bahar/AFP/Getty Images

More than a million traders in India are boycotting fizzy drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi after claims from from two Indian trade associations that foreign firms are exploiting the country’s water resources.

Traders in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which has a population bigger than the UK, will replace big brands with locally produced soft drinks.

“These foreign companies are using up scarce water resources of the state,” said K Mohan, secretary of the Vanigar Sangam, one of the associations supporting the boycott.

Concerns about excessive water usage by companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were heightened after low rainfall during the last monsoon.

In January, Tamil Nadu’s interim chief minister O Panneerselvam declared the state “drought-hit” and asked the central government for funds to help farmers.

Vikram Raja, president of the Vanigar Sangam trade association, said: “[Foreign companies] are exploiting the state’s water bodies to manufacture aerated drinks while farmers were facing severe drought.”

A 2016 protest in Bangalore about the diversion of water to drought-hit Tamil Nadu.
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A 2016 protest in Bangalore about the diversion of water to drought-hit Tamil Nadu. Photograph: Jagadeesh Nv/EPA

Amit Srivastava, director at the NGO India Resource Centre, estimates that it takes 1.9 litres of water to make one small bottle of Coca-Cola. He says demand for sugar from fizzy drinks companies is also hugely problematic in India. “Sugarcane is a water-guzzling crop. It is the wrong crop for India,” he said.

“According to our research Coca-Cola is the number one buyer of sugarcane in India and Pepsi is number three. If you take into account the water used for sugarcane, then we’re using 400 litres of water to make a bottle of Cola.”

The Indian Beverage Association (IBA), which represents many soft drinks manufacturers, said it was disappointed with the boycott.

“Coca-Cola and PepsiCo India together provide direct employment to 2,000 families in Tamil Nadu and more than 5,000 families indirectly … IBA hopes that good sense will prevail and that consumers will continue to have the right to exercise their choice in Tamil Nadu,” it said.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola have not directly commented on the ban.

The anti-fizzy drinks movement in Tamil Nadu gathered momentum in January, during protests against the supreme court’s decision to banjallikattu, an Indian version of bullfighting.

The protests offered many citizens the opportunity to air their grievances publicly, and galvanised the fizzy drinks boycotts after farmers complained big companies were using up precious resources in the water-stressed state.

Raja said demand for fizzy drinks had dropped significantly since January, and many traders who were not part of his trade association had voluntarily stopped stocking foreign brands.

The boycotts may only be the beginning of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s woes as they try to expand in India. The Indian government has dropped hints that it may introduce a “sin tax” on sugary drinks, which could further hit growth figures.

“It is extremely unfair on the part of certain individuals and organisations to propagate misinformation,” said Arvind Varma, secretary general of the IBA. “These actions are detrimental to the image of the country and to the long-term interests of the Indian economy.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/01/indian-traders-boycott-coca-cola-for-straining-water-resources

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Reliance Jio selling user data to ad networks abroad

VARUN AGGARWAL

Hacktivist group claims 2 apps sending info to Mad-Me network; RJio denies allegations

Reliance Jio could be making money by selling user call data to targeted ad networks in the US and Singapore without informing users, if claims by hacktivist group Anonymous are to be believed.

When contacted by BusinessLine, the group, which claims to hack companies and governments to expose them as a way of activism and goes by the Twitter handle AnonIndia (@redteamin), said two Jio apps, including My Jio and Jio Dialer, are sending user information to an ad network called Mad-Me.

“The website RJio is sending it to claims to be a platform for targeted advertising,” the Anonymous told BusinessLine in a written response.

Anonymous has also shared a detailed blog explaining how anyone could test what data Jio is sharing with international servers and recreate the hack themselves. Responding to the allegations made by the hacker group, Reliance Jio Infocomm spokesperson said: “Jio takes its customers’ security and privacy very seriously. In keeping with its highest standards of governance, Jio does not share its customers’ data with any other entity.

“Any information captured by Jio is only for internal analysis to deliver better quality of service and recommend offerings from Jio’s product portfolio.”

Earlier too

About a year ago, the same Anonymous group claimed that RJio chat app Jio chat was sending user data to a Chinese IP without even encrypting it, which meant that apart from your information being leaked to the Chinese, anyone could snoop into your conversation and know exactly what you’re chatting about or sharing with friends.

The app itself was coded in Chinese, which led to suspicion that the app was indeed developed by the Chinese as well. Jio had dismissed these allegations.

Anonymous acknowledged that the Jio app was now relatively more secure than it was last year.

“At least this time the traffic is going on https (encrypted), last time they did not even bother to encrypt it,” the group said.

The hacktivist collective said they tested apps from all other operators as well but only My Jio app and Jio Dialer were found to be sharing information with an ad network outside the country.

When asked why did the group choose to hack into Jio again this time, it said: “What drives us is to expose the wrongdoings of these companies…. last year also when they tried to violate the principles of nn (net neutrality)… we taught them a lesson.”

The group has in the past attacked websites of various individuals and government agencies, including TRAI and BSNL. The group had also undertaken activities to protest against Section 66A of the Information Technology Act and in support of network neutrality.

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/reliance-jio-selling-user-data-to-ad-networks-abroad-says-anonymous/article9147032.ece

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What was Umar Khalid going to speak at the Ramjas College ?

The tribal versus development

Chhattisgarh’s adivasis are seen as the main obstacle to huge private profits

Whenever those who call themselves the vikas purush of our times talk of development, destruction awaits the adivasi communities of our country. If someone has paid with their blood, their lives, every time a big development project has been undertaken, it is the adivasis of India. As per a 2004 report of the ministry of tribal affairs, adivasis constitute only eight per cent of the entire population — however, when it comes to the population displaced by development projects, their numbers rise to 55 per cent.

We should not mistakenly trace the ongoing conflict in adivasi areas as caused by a lack of development. Rather, it is the very model of development being followed by those ruling our country that has precipitated and aggravated this conflict — a model of development where sensex and GDP figures matter, but not basic indicators like health, schools, rates of mortality, etc.

Our diverse adivasi communities — the Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, Hos, Mundas, Oraons, Koyas and many others — are the damned people of our country, subjected to, as B.D. Sharma put it, an unbroken history of broken promises. Their villages might not have a single school or hospital, but their biggest tragedy is what lies beneath their feet: Like vultures, the mining mafia has been eyeing the mineral resources of central and eastern India for the trillions of dollars it might get them. It is the adivasis who are standing between these companies and their profits. Therefore, this war.

In fact, the story could be taken as far back as the early 19th century when the British first tried to enter these areas. But the adivasis could never be completely subdued. They revolted several times, forcing the British to retreat. Legislations like the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act (of 1908) after the rebellion led by the legendary Birsa Munda can be cited as examples of when the adivasis compelled even the British to recognise their rights. The present government, which is amending this legislation to make the process of land acquisition easier, it could be said, has even trumped the British in this regard.

The militarisation of the adivasi hinterland and development projects go hand in hand. The previous prime minister’s infamous statement in 2005 that Naxalism is the “biggest internal security threat” coincided with over 350 Memorandums of Understanding being signed with big corporations. The notorious Salwa Judum, funded by several corporations, was also formed the same year, on June 5, the death anniversary of Sangh ideologue Guru Golwalkar. Maybe, as a reminder of the deadly cocktail of Hindutva and development, the Chhattisgarh government reportedly signed a mining deal with a huge steel company the same day.

The horrors of Judum are well recognised now, even by the Supreme Court. But beyond horrific atrocities, the Judum served a larger agenda. By razing over 644 villages and forcing more than three lakh villagers to migrate out of the region, it simply tried to remove the obstruction that lay between the companies and the resources they were eyeing.

This task continues to be performed today by newer vigilante gangs and paramilitary forces swarming the forests since 2009. The Modi government has fortified this region further reportedly by sending 14 additional battalions of paramilitary forces: Bastar in Chhattisgarh is one of the most militarised regions in the country. The last two years have seen an intensification of the assault on adivasi lives and livelihoods — the NHRC has attested to mass rapes and fake encounters allegedly by security forces. But we’re told only the Maoists believe power flows from a gun.

Right now, building roads constitutes a major focus of what the government calls bringing development to these regions. But here, even roads are not neutral development projects. When tribal villages undergo a road survey, adivasi communities become very apprehensive. For roads bring with them companies, which bring with them troops, and all of it leaves a bloody trail behind.

In devastated landscapes of hollowed-out earth and red rivers, this war has only got gorier. Yet, it makes no headlines. For adivasis are dispensible, nowhere people fighting for survival. Far from being the cure, this model of development is itself the problem.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/chhattisgarh-tirbals-development-big-companies-profits-umar-khalid-research-paper-ramjas-college-4551609/

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India – Need internet to buy PDS rations? Go climb a tree #WTFnews

Geetha Sunil Pillai| TNN |

  • Government’s move to digitalise the Public Distribution System has added to the misery of residents
  • Ration dealers have to climb on trees to find internet connectivity to use their PoS machines

(TOI photo)(TOI photo)

UDAIPUR: Buying rations in Kotra, a backward settlement around 125km from Udaipur, now requires a vital skill: tree-climbing.

At many centres here, it is a common sight to see men and women perched on tree branches, waiting for hours for their turn to get their fingerprints and biometrics verified by the PoS (point of sale)+ machines. That done, they climb down and walk back miles to the ration shops where they get in another queue to collect the provisions they have bought.

Instead of making life easier, the government’s move to digitalise+ the Public Distribution System has added to the misery of residents of several backward areas, especially Kotra. There are 76 ration centres here of which 13 have very poor connectivity.

At these places, ration dealers have to climb on trees to find internet connectivityto use their PoS machines. People living in small settlements like Merpur, Chibarwadi, Malwiya Khakariya, Peepla, Bhuridebar, Beran, Palcha, Umariya, Samoli have to wait daily for hours to get their biometric verification to purchase ration items like sugar, kerosene.

“The only ration shop is many miles from our home but the ration dealer camps on a hilltop which is even far away. Sometimes, it takes 4-5 hours to find even a thin trace of internet network and only then the machine works. The earlier system was better,” said Bhola Gameti, a resident.

Many houses do not have an electricity connection. There are no roads or proper health facilities. “How unwise is this of the government to implement the PoS system before ensuring proper infrastructure?” said a school teacher.

“Difficult terrain and scattered patterns of settlement, coupled with poor development status makes it difficult to deliver services and hence dozens of villages in Kotra lacks proper communication and internet facilities,” claimed a government officer.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/need-internet-to-buy-pds-rations-go-climb-a-tree/articleshow/57437975.cms

With bureaucrats looking upon Kotra as a punishment posting, delivery of services has taken a severe hit here. While the younger men migrate to surrounding areas to earn a livelihood, those left behind are the elderly, women and children.

The block is largely inhabited by two tribes — Garasiyas and Gameti — constituting 85% of the population. Most families live in scattered hutments, often on hilly areas and engage in agriculture, collection of forest produce and wage labour.

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Air India makes 80-year-old Cancer patient wait for three hours at Mumbai airport

TNN |

KOLKATA: An 80-year-old cancer survivor, who is paralysed hip downwards, was left unattended for three hours at Mumbai airport on her way from London to Kolkata as Air India ground staff passed the buck between themselves till her family members in Kolkata contacted senior officials in the airline.

Thereafter, things moved swiftly as an airline staff escorted the passenger travelling alone on the trip to Kolkata, checked her into a hotel and then put her on a flight later in the day. She finally reached Kolkata 14 hours after she was due to arrive.

Mohini Chandiramani landed in Mumbai at 4am en route to Kolkata on fligth AI 130 on Wednesday morning. She had a connecting AI flight to Kolkata at 6.10am but missed it after a delay at the Customs. She was then told that she would be put on the 8pm evening flight before the airline staff disappeared. With her London phone connection not in service, she sat helplessly till she managed to draw the attention of a passenger of another flight passing by and used his phone to call her realtives in Kolkata and inform them of the situation.

According to her nephew Kushal Sengupta, the airline domestic manager and international manager tried to shirk responsibility, each pointing to the other. “The airline’s domestic manager at Mumbai airport refused help and in fact asked us to tell my aunt to come to his desk to report despite us telling him repeatedly that she is immobile and has no phone on her to even inform us of her whereabouts,” he said.

According to Chandiramani, she was initially told that she had to wait in the terminal for the evening flight after the airline was unable to put her on a Jet Airways flight to Kolkata.

 

Sengupta alleged that till he contacted an airline senior official at 9.15am, she was left to languish in the terminal. “No one even had the courtesy to ask her if she needed help or offer her a phone to call us. A wheel-chair bound passenger is usually speedily cleared but in this case, she was delayed so much that they could not wheel into the flight to Kolkata on time,” he said.

 

The airline has denied allegations of negligence, pointing out that it had gone out of the way to accommodate the passenger. “Since we have an agreement with Jet Airways, we can endorse a passenger on that airline. But there was no seat on the Jet flight. Usually, accommodation is provided only when a passenger has a night-long layover due to the airline’s problem. In this case, she missed the flight due to delay caused by the Customs. However, considering her age and condition, we made an exception. She was personally attended by senior officials and accommodated in a hotel near the airport,” an AI spokesperson said.

 

He further said the airline was trying to arrange things for the passenger all through and had even managed to retrieve her walker that had been checked into the Kolkata-bound flight so that she could be at ease. Chandiramani was finally put on the 8pm flight and she reached Kolkata at 11.15pm. “Whatever has happened is unfortunate. But AI did its best to help her,” the official added.

Differently-abled woman crawls on being denied wheelchair by Air India

Eralier, disbility rights actiovust anita ghai last year was  provided with wheel chair by Air India ., alleging that she had to “crawl on the airport tarmac because the staff could not arrange for one”.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/elderly-city-bound-cancer-survivor-stranded-at-mumbai-airport-for-3-hrs/articleshow/57436603.cms

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Not Pakistan, But War Killed Gurmehar Kaur’s Father

A 20-year-old Delhi girl’s extremely wise statement that, s
being viewed as anti-national. This young girl, Gurmehar Kaur, is being chastised by pseudo-nationalists and false patriots; this is terribly sad. Rather than learn from her and mull over her sage words on the utter futility of war, the whole country is condemning her. Why?
Gurmehar Kaur is right. It’s war, not Pakistan that killed her father who was a Captain in the Indian Army when the Kargil war broke out in the year 1999.Remember the sagacious words of the US General Douglas MacArthur, the most decorated soldier in modern times and a key figure in the Pacific during the Second World War: “There’s no enemy country . I’ll shake hands with the `enemy’ soldier when there’s no war and vice versa but both will try to kill each other during the war.“British Field Marshal Montgomery echoed the same sentiment, “All nations are friends. War turns them into enemies.“ Ashoka the Great, after seeing the unprecedented bloodshed in the battle of Kalinga, exclaimed, “Why did I kill so many innocent soldiers? Were they my enemies? The main enemy was the battle.“ The Pali concept of the Buddha, `Yuddham Parabhootam’, is that the very idea of war must be defeated, and not the enemies, because there is no enemy the biggest enemy . War itself is The ill-timed and ill-inter-preted nationalistic fervour has germinated the seed of the “other country“ being our enemy . India and Pakistan are surviving on this perpetual strife and idea of enmity . We all seem to be hell bent on the perpetuation of this face-off, all this bad blood. French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte wrote to the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, “Admiral, whether you defeat me or I defeat you, nothing will happen.But one thing will remain forever intact: Not the countries France or Great Britain, but the battle that had its last laugh.“

Yes, a battle or war has the last laugh. War is death’s dance macabre. We all must get rid of the apparitions of war from our consciousness and stop blaming the other country for killing. A country doesn’t kill. War does.

Stop encouraging and nurturing such ill-conceived ideas and learn from this young girl. The anti-war poet Wilfred Owen aptly said, “War goes beyond country Killing is its foremost duty .“ First of all, the whole world must think seriously about disarmament and stop spending trillions of money on weapons of mass destruction. Why are we letting ourselves become victims to the machinations of those who thrive on keeping conflicts alive, like say, for instance, the military-industrial complex? They don’t want peace; they want us to wage war so that they can sell more.Theirs is not to agonise over who might be using the weapons and against whom.

If war is what kills people, not country A or B or C, we need to rise above geography and history; we need to come together, and work together to break free of boundaries both physical and mental.

We’re still not evolved and are enamoured by our troglodyte past when we’d kill each other at the drop of a hat. War is a scar on the escutcheon of mankind. It’s an anathema we need to get rid of.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?EID=31804&dt=20170302

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