01-04-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 05 : #64 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

Centre announces public holiday on April 14 to mark

Dr BR Ambedkar’s 130th birth anniversary

Mumbai: The Centre has

announced a public holiday

on April 14 to mark the 130th

birth anniversary of Dr BR

Ambedkar. The Ministry of

Personnel, Public Grievances

and Pensions declared in a

notification today that April

14 will be a public holiday for

all central government

offices, including industrial

establishments.

“It has been decided to

declare Wednesday, 14th

April 2021 as a public holiday

on account of the birthday

of Dr BR Ambedkar, for

all Central Government

Offices, including Industrial

Establishments throughout

1.1mn Britons reported having

long COVID symptoms

London : About 1.1 million

Britons have reported having

long Covid symptoms, figures

from the UK's Office for

National Statistics (ONS)

revealed. Of the 1.1 million

people from private households,

674,000 were thought

to have symptoms that

affected their daily life, with

196,000 estimated to have

their ability to undertake

everyday tasks limited a lot,

Xinhua news agency quoted

the ONS as saying on

Thursday. The ONS survey

asked people if they had such

symptoms as fatigue, muscle

pain, and difficulty concentrating

over a four-week period

ending March 6. The latest

data include those who were

India by invoking the powers

under Section 25 of

Negotiable Instruments Act,

1881,” read the Centre’s notification.

Bhimrao Ramji

Ambedkar, fondly called

Babasaheb Ambedkar by his

followers, was born on April

14. He was British India’s

Minister of Labour in

Viceroy’s Executive Council,

a member of the Constituent

Drafting committee, independent

India’s first Minister

of Law and Justice, and considered

the chief architect of

the Constitution of India.

He was an Indian jurist,

economist, politician and

social reformer, who inspired

the Dalit Buddhist movement

and campaigned against

social discrimination towards

the untouchables (Dalits).

Babasaheb Ambedkar died on

December 6, 1956. He was

awarded India’s highest civilian

honour — the Bharat

Ratna — in 1990.

Courtesy : Bangalore Mirror

Indian engineering student gets 25 international research offers

New Delhi : The Covid pandemic

has affected education all over the

globe, but in midst of all this disruption,

an Indian mechanical engineering

student has drawn over two dozen

research offers in both sciences and

mathematics from top institutions in

the US, the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

This is apart from the offers from

leading Indian institutions, with many

of which he has already collaborated

on several key projects.

It is a rarity for students to receive

research offers in both sciences and

mathematics, but Abhishek Agrahari,

21, is one of the ones to qualify in this

regard.

The offers for research in maths

itself for third-year Mechanical

Engineering student at TIET, Patiala,

self-reported, rather than clinically

diagnosed.

Ben Humberstone, head of

Health and Life Events at the

ONS, told Sky News that the

agency was "surprised" by the

numbers, adding that "this isn't

like other diseases".

"Two thirds of those with

self-reported long Covid told

us it's limiting their day-to-day

span five prestigious institutes across

four continents.

These include the Australian

activities so they're not able to

do the things they would've

been able to do before,"

Humberstone said.

"And when you think this is

most prevalent in people of

working ages, that's going to

have a real impact on the

world of work, childcare and

things day to day we take for

granted." The UK's overall

coronavirus caseload and

death toll stood at 4,364,541

and 127,006, respectively.

While the country's caseload

is the sixth highest in the

world, the death toll is the fifth

largest. Nearly 31 million people

have been given the first

jab of the coronavirus vaccine

so far in the UK, according to

the official figures.

National University, the University of

Miami, the Budapest University of

Technology and Economics, the

Centre's letter on human trafficking aimed

at defaming farmers: Akali Dal

Chandigarh : The

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on

Friday termed a Union Home

Ministry missive to the Punjab

government on the "enormous"

issue of human trafficking and

bonded labour practices being

followed in the border belt a

"ridiculous assumption aimed

purely at defaming the farmers

of the state".

In a statement here, former

MP Prem Singh Chandumajra

said the letter from the Home

Ministry itself was self-contradictory.

He said on the one

hand, the letter was claiming

that 58 persons had been apprehended

by the Border Security

Force (BSF) and that they

seemed to be mentally challenged,

while on the other, it

was being claimed that "human

trafficking syndicates" were

luring such persons to areas in

Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur

and Abohar with the promise of

good salaries but that they were

exploited and forced to work as

bonded labouers.

"Can both these things happen

simultaneously?" he asked,

adding that the Home Ministry

should not make "illogical connections".

Chandumajra said in

a statement that such letters

Chinese University of Hong Kong and

University of Ferrara (Italy).

Abhishek has already worked with

the Defence Research and

Development Organisation (DRDO)

on gas turbine engines; with IIT,

Bombay on fluid structure interaction;

and with IIT, Kanpur on fluid dynamics,

and currently has offers from IIT,

Kharagpur; IIT, Indore; and IIT,

Madras too.

He also aspires to win the Nobel

Prize (in the sciences) and the Fields

Medal - often termed the Nobel for

mathematicians.

Even amid the Covid pandemic and

subsequent lockdown, Abhishek has

bagged multiple international research

internship offers from University of

Oxford; Pennsylvania State

University; University of Illinois, US;

from the Home Ministry would

also send a wrong signal across

the country and would create an

"atmosphere of confrontation".

He said the fact of the matter

was that there was not one FIR

of any person being forced to

work as a bonded labourer in

any of the areas mentioned in

the letter. "In fact, the opposite

is true. Farmers of Punjab pay

labourers in advance for their

services and that it why lakhs

of migrant workers come to

Punjab every year for planting

of the paddy crop." He said the

report should be immediately

withdrawn and the real reason

why some mentally challenged

people found their way to the

border areas which were at the

end of the railway lines should

be examined.

the Technical University of Munich

(Germany); Tel Aviv University,

Israel; Beijing Computational

Sciences Research Center, China;

Shanghai Jia Tong University, China;

Gyeongsang National University,

South Korea; University of Adelaide,

Australian School of Petroleum;

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid,

Heriot-watt Univeristy, Edinburgh;

Lithuanian Energy Institute; and Iscte-

Instituto Universitario de Lisboa,

Lisbon. About his area of interest,

Abhishek said that he would like to do

extensive research in the fields of fluid

mechanics, especially fluid structure

interaction theory, plasma physics,

water wave mechanics, kinetic theory,

kinetic equations and models like

Boltzmann equation and fluid kinetic

models.


2

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Cong eyes Brahmin votes in UP

after Punjab forms Brahmin Board

New Delhi : After the Punjab government

set up a board for the welfare of

Brahmins in the state, the Congress in

Uttar Pradesh is trying to capitalize on it.

The Congress Brahmin leaders are elated

with the move as they believe it might earn

them a political dividend in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress leader and West Bengal In-

Charge Jitin Prasada, who is spearheading

a Brahmin movement under the Brahmin

Chetna Parishad in UP, has written to

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder

Singh thanking him for looking after the

welfare of the community. He said that "the

community is happy and will be indebted

towards the Punjab Chief Minister."

The Punjab government on March 23

constituted the board with the term of two

years to identify the needs and the problems

of the community.

But the Congress in UP has other goals

to attract Brahmins towards the party as

party leaders said that they are miffed with

the BJP and the Congress is the party

which cares for Brahmins.

Prasada said, "It was during the

Congress regime in 1989 that the state had

the Chief Minister from the community.

Since then, all the parties were given

opportunity to form the government but

nobody made Brahmin the Chief Minister."

The Brahmins prior to the emergence of

the BJP had been voting for the Congress

but with the rise of Hindutva, they have

largely moved to the saffron fold except in

2007 when it voted for the BSP as its leader

Satish Chandra Mishra was able to unite

the community with the Dalits and catapulted

the party to power. But the BSP

could not maintain its hold on Brahmins

and they slipped into the hands of the BJP.

But the BJP is more interested in an

umbrella Hindutva vote bank rather than

appeasing a particular community, said an

analyst. The Congress which ruled the state

till 1989 had Brahmins, Dalits and

Muslims as its core voters, who have

moved in three directions leaving the party

in single digit in the Assembly.

Since 1989 when the Congress had its

last government and the last Brahmin Chief

Minister in N.D. Tiwari, the BJP has held

the state many times, while the BSP and

the SP also formed the government but no

Brahmin could reach the top post.

Maruti Suzuki exports 20L vehicles since 1986-87

New Delhi : Automobile Maruti

Suzuki India on Saturday said it has

accomplished two million (20 lakh)

vehicle exports. Accordingly, Maruti

Suzuki commenced export of vehicles

in FY1986-87.

The company's first large consignment

of 500 cars was shipped to

Hungary in September 1987.

In FY2012-13, the Company

achieved the milestone of one-million

exports.

"In the first million, more than 50

per cent of exports were undertaken to

developed markets in Europe," the company

said in a statement. According to the

statement, Maruti Suzuki achieved the subsequent

million in over eight years with

special focus on emerging markets in Latin

America, Africa and Asia regions.

"With concerted efforts, the

Company has been able to gain sizeable

share in markets like Chile,

Indonesia, South Africa and Sri

Lanka. Models such as Alto, Baleno,

Dzire and Swift have emerged as

popular choices in these markets."

Currently, we export 14 models,

nearly 150 variants, to over 100

countries.

In January this year, the Company

started production and export of

Suzuki's celebrated compact offroader

Jimny from India.

"With India as a production base for

Jimny, Suzuki aims to leverage Maruti

Suzuki's global production stature."

Asteroid impact in Antarctica from

430,000 years ago discovered

London : A research team of international space scientists

has found new evidence

of an asteroid

impact in Antarctica

430,000 years ago.

Extra-terrestrial particles

recovered on

the summit of

Walnumfjellet (WN)

within the Sor

Rondane Mountains,

Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica, indicate an unusual touchdown

event where a jet of melted and vaporised meteoritic material

resulting from the atmospheric entry of an asteroid at least

100 metres in size reached the surface at high velocity, said the

study. This type of explosion caused by a single-asteroid impact

is described as intermediate, as it is larger than an airburst, but

smaller than an impact cratering event.

The chondritic bulk major, trace element chemistry and high

nickel content of the debris demonstrate the extra-terrestrial

nature of the recovered particles, said the study published in the

journal Science Advances. Their unique oxygen isotopic signatures

indicate that they interacted with oxygen derived from the

Antarctic ice sheet during their formation in the impact plume.

The findings indicate an impact much more hazardous that the

Tunguska and Chelyabinsk events over Russia in 1908 and 2013,

respectively. This research guides an important discovery for the

geological record where evidence of such events in scarce.

This is primarily due to the difficult in identifying and characterising

impact particles.

The study highlights the importance of reassessing the threat

of medium-sized asteroids, as it likely that similar touchdown

events will produce similar particles.

Such an event would be entirely destructive over a large area,

corresponding to the area of interaction between the hot jet and

the ground. "To complete Earth's asteroid impact record, we recommend

that future studies should focus on the identification of

similar events on different targets, such as rocky or shallow

oceanic basements, as the Antarctic ice sheet only covers nine

per cent of Earth's land surface," said Matthias van Ginneken

from the University of Kent in Britain.

"Our research may also prove useful for the identification of

these events in deep sea sediment cores and, if plume expansion

reaches landmasses, the sedimentary record."

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

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TN students through sand

art urge people to vote

Chennai : Students of

Velammal Vidyalaya

(Annexure), Sr. Secondary

School here through their sand

art have urged voters to exercise

their democratic right on

April 6. Elections for Tamil

Nadu Assembly are slated for

April 6. The students of

Velammal Vidyalaya created a

huge sand sculpture at the

Marina Beach here on Friday

that aimed to woo voters to

exercise their democratic right

to vote. The sand art was

unveiled by G. Prakash, IAS,

Commissioner, Chennai Corporation, (District

Election Officer), who applauded the spirit of the

students' mammoth sand art. The sand art

expressed the notion 'Your vote! Your Voice!' with

a spectacular image depicting a voter's finger that

symbolised the action needed by every voter.

2 held in nun's harassment

case in UP's Jhansi

Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh) : The Jhansi police have arrested two

youths for allegedly harassing nuns and making them get off the

train on allegations of forcing religious conversions.

The incident took place two weeks ago and the youths were

arrested late on Thursday evening.

They have been identified as Anchal Arjaria, president, Rashtra

Bhakt Sangathan and Purgesh Amaria, Secretary, Hindu Jagran

Manch. According to the Jhansi police spokesman, punitive action

is being taken against the people involved in misbehaviour

towards the nuns and adolescent girls in the Utkal Express on

March 19. Arjaria and Amaria were also planning a protest, accusing

police of lack of action against the nuns.

It may be recalled that two nuns, Livia Thomas and Hemlata

along with two girls, Shweta and Bitrang, were travelling to

Rourkela from Delhi. An ABVP leader Ajay Shankar Tiwari was

also travelling in the next compartment. Seeing the nuns and the

two girls, he informed Jhansi GRP about suspicion of religious

conversion. On reaching Jhansi all the four were deboarded and

interrogated on the basis of Tiwari's complaint for around three

hours. The complaint was found baseless and all four were later

allowed to leave. The incident led to national outrage and Union

Home Minister Amit Shah promised action in the matter.

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ASIA

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

3

Rakesh Tikait's convoy attacked in Rajasthan

Jaipur, April 2 (IANS) Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait's convoy

was allegedly attacked in Alwar on Friday. He alleged that the BJP

men were behind the attack.

Tikait, on his Twitter handle, shared the video of his car whose

window glass was smashed and accused the BJP of the attack.

He said, "Attacked by BJP's goons in Rajasthan's Alwar district's

Tataarpur square at Bansur Road. Pics of murder of democracy."

His supporters called for a jam to protest against the incident

and hence a huge police force was deputed in the area.

As per the officials, Tikait was on his way to Banasur road

when his convoy was

attacked by a few people

who pelted stones on his

car. The men used rods

too. However, Tikait was

safe and did not get any

injury. Eventually Tikait

was shifted in another car

and the police arrested two

people as suspects.

Further investigations

are on, police officials

said.

NASA delays first flight

of Mars HELICOPTER

Washington : NASA is targeting now April 11 for the

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make the historic first attempt at

powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. The

decision to push back the date of the launch from April 8 to April

11 was announced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

in Pasadena, California, on Thursday.

"Come fly with us. #MarsHelicopter is preparing to do something

that's never

been done: controlled,

powered

flight on another

planet. Takeoff is

now slated for no

earlier than April

11, with data arriving

on Earth on

April 12," NASA

JPL tweeted.

Ingenuity flew

to Mars while being attached to the belly of NASA's

Perseverance rover, which made a February 18 touch down on

the Red Planet. Once deployed, Ingenuity will have 30 Martian

days, or sols, (31 Earth days) to conduct its test flight campaign.

"When NASA's Sojourner rover landed on Mars in 1997, it

proved that roving the Red Planet was possible and completely

redefined our approach to how we explore Mars. Similarly, we

want to learn about the potential Ingenuity has for the future of

science research," Lori Glaze, Director of the Planetary Science

Division at NASA Headquarters, had said in a statement. "Aptly

named, Ingenuity is a technology demonstration that aims to be

the first powered flight on another world and, if successful, could

further expand our horizons and broaden the scope of what is

possible with Mars exploration."

Flying in a controlled manner on Mars is far more difficult

than flying on Earth. The Red Planet has significant gravity

(about one-third that of Earth's), but its atmosphere is just 1 per

cent as dense as Earth's at the surface.

During Martian daytime, the planet's surface receives only

about half the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth during

its daytime, and nighttime temperatures can drop as low as minus

90 degrees Celsius, which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical

components.

To fit within the available accommodations provided by the

Perseverance rover, the Ingenuity helicopter must be small.

To fly in the Mars environment, it must be lightweight. To survive

the frigid Martian nights, it must have enough energy to

power internal heaters.

The system -- from the performance of its rotors in rarified air

to its solar panels, electrical heaters, and other components -- has

been tested and retested in the vacuum chambers and test labs of

NASA's JPL in Southern California.

"Every step we have taken since this journey began six years

ago has been uncharted territory in the history of aircraft," said

Bob Balaram, Mars Helicopter Chief Engineer at JPL.

"And while getting deployed to the surface will be a big challenge,

surviving that first night on Mars alone, without the rover

protecting it and keeping it powered, will be an even bigger one."

Trinamool panel meets EC over 'EVM

glitches, violence by BJP workers'

Kolkata : A Trinamool Congress delegation

led by former Union Finance

Minister Yashwant Sinha met Election

Commission officials here on Friday and

requested them to address the electronic

voting machine (EVM) glitches issue and

alleged violence by BJP workers during

polling in Nandigram.

The delegation of the Trinamool

Congress leader, which included MP Derek

O'Brien, met the CEO of the Election

Commission in West Bengal and also submitted

a two-page memorandum.

Speaking to mediapersons, Sinha said,

"We have requested the Election

Commission to address the EVM issue and

violence by BJP workers." He said that it is

the responsibility of the Election

Commission to ensure free and fair polls.

Sinha said that despite their tactics, West

Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool

Congress leader Mamata Banerjee will win

from Nandigram and the party will secure

victory in the first two phases.

The Trinamool Congress in its memorandum

said: "We are constrained to write

to the poll panel expressing our disapproval

of the manner in which elections

were conducted during phase one and

phase two of the 60 assembly constituencies."

The memorandum said that democracy

is an essential feature of the

Constitution and as such unassailable. "The

EC was formed and is under a duty to

ensure that the democratic setup is upheld

by ensuring that the right to vote and the

right to participate in the democratic

process is duly preserved," it said. The

Trinamool COngress in its memorandum

raised the issue of the alleged rampant violence

by members of the BJP and also the

dereliction of duties by the Central Armed

Police Force (CAPF) and acting on the

instructions of Union Home Minister Amit

Shah. On Thursday during voting for the

second phase, Banerjee camped at a

polling station in Nandigram for several

hours and alleged that voters were being

stopped from exercising their franchise.

The Trinamool Congress in its memorandum

said, "CAPF, under instructions of

Home Minister, has acted in a complete

departure from its duty to act impartially,

by being a mute spectator to continual violence

perpetrated by the BJP and intimidation

of electors voting for the Trinamool

Congress." The party also asked the election

watchdog to pass appropriate directions

to the CAPF to "maintain the sanctity

of elections" and "act in a non-partisan

manner".

It said: "Ensure that CAPF personnel

against whom complaints have been filed

during Phases 1 and 2 are not deployed for

any election-related activity in the upcoming

phases."

India overtakes US in daily Covid cases

New Delhi : India has overtaken the US

to become the country with second-highest

daily Covid-19 cases in the world. Brazil

leads the chart with 91,097 cases recorded

in the last 24 hours.

India recorded 81,466 new Coronavirus

cases in the last 24 hours. About 77,718

new cases were reported in the US on April

1. India has been witnessing a spike in

cases since the last three weeks.

India recorded its first Coronavirus case

on January 30 last year and since then, a

total of 1,23,03,131 people have been

infected. In the US, the first case was found

on January 22 and has now surged to

30,538,427, respectively.

However, in terms of daily numbers,

India is the third worst-hit country after the

US and Brazil. Within the country,

Maharashtra is the worst-hit state. If the

total deaths are considered, India is at the

fourth position after the US, Brazil and

Mexico. About 469 deaths were reported in

the last 24 hours, taking the total toll to

1,62,927.

Six states account for 83.16 per cent of

the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum

casualties (249) and Punjab followed

with 58 daily deaths. Maharashtra has

reported the highest daily new cases at

43,183. It is followed by Chhattisgarh with

4,617 while Karnataka reported 4,234 new

cases. India's total active caseload has

reached 6,14,696. It now comprises 5 per

cent of the country's total positive cases.

Five states -- Maharashtra, Karnataka,

Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Punjab -- cumulatively

account for 77.91 per cent of the

total active cases in the country.

Maharashtra alone accounts for nearly 60

per cent (59.84 per cent) of the total active

caseload of the country. India's cumulative

recoveries stand at 1,15,25,039 today. The

national Recovery Rate is 93.68 per cent. A

total of 50,356 recoveries were registered

in the last 24 hours.

Recently, NITI Aayog member V.K.

Paul said that the current situation of the

surge in coronavirus cases in the country is

going from "bad to worse" and the trends

show that the virus is still very active.


4

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Assam EVM row: Presiding officer

suspended; repoll ordered

Guwahati : The Election Commission

on Friday ordered repoll at a polling station

in Southern Assam after the electronic voting

machine (EVM) was found in a BJP

candidate wife's vehicle on Thursday

evening.

The EC said in a statement that the presiding

officer and three other officials have

been placed under suspension and a repoll

has been ordered at the Indira M.V. School

polling station under Ratabari Assembly

constituency in the state.

"Although the seals of the EVM were

found intact, it has nevertheless been

decided to do a repoll at the Indira M.V.

School polling station as added precaution,"

the statement said.

The Commission also sought a report

from the Special Observer about the incident.

The statement said that after the officials

car carrying the polled EVM machine to

Karimganj was broken down they boarded

a passing private car which was subsequently

surrounded by a mob of about 50

people that started pelting stones at them.

The mob at the Kanaishil (under

Karimganj district) alleged that the EVM

was being taken to be tampered with. The

private car was owned by the wife of BJP

candidate of the neighbouring Patharkandi

constituency Krishnendu Paul.

The statement added that due to the

heavy rains on Thursday night and the

roads being muddy, the official car of the

polling personnel broke down and then

they boarded a private vehicle along with

Dalit man brutally beaten

for inter-caste affair

Lakhimpur Kheri (UP) :

In a shocking incident, a Dalit

man was beaten and brutalised,

allegedly by the family of an

upper caste girl with whom he

was in a relationship.

The man, who had a rod

inserted into his rectum, is now

battling for life in the district

hospital. According to reports,

the victim, Harendra Kumar,

22, was brutally beaten up in

his private parts and a rod

allegedly inserted into his rectum

by his attackers who hurled

caste abuses at him.

The incident took place in

the wee hours of Thursday in

Tikunia town in Lakhimpur

their polled EVM and other materials without

checking the ownership of the vehicle.

Immediately after receiving information

about the incident, the District Election

Officer of Karimganj along with the district

Superintendent of Police (SP) rushed

to the spot and reached there at 10.20 p.m.

on Thursday night.During the course of the

stone pelting, Karimganj SP Mayank

Kumar sustained minor injuries on his collarbone

and blank firing had to be resorted

to disperse the mob.

The first polling officer, who was found

missing in the commotion, was rescued

early on Friday morning from a nearby

area. About the incident Congress General

Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a

Kheri district.

According to his cousin

Anuj "Harendra has been

preparing for competitive

exams and wakes up at 3 am.

On the day of the incident, he

woke up early and went to an

orchard where the girl's father,

Brahmdeen and his three sons -

Raju, Bharat and Gajraj- caught

him, abused him for being from

a lower caste. They beat him up

with an iron rod, baton and

belts and inserted an iron rod

into his rectum and repeatedly

hit him in the private parts with

the rod."

The SHO of Tikunia police

station Gyan Singh said, "After

initial investigation,

we came to know

the victim is

involved with the

girl and was trying

to meet her when he

was caught and

assaulted. We will

record Harendra's

statement when his

c o n d i t i o n

improves."

Brahmdeen,

Raju, Bharat and

Gajraj, meanwhile,

have been booked

under the SC/ST

Act, and for voluntarily

causing hurt

and intentional insult.

Three of them have been

arrested but Gajraj is absconding.

Lakhimpur Kheri SSP

Vijay Dhull said, "A section for

heinous crime will be added

after the supplementary medical

examination."

Emergency medical officer

of the district hospital, Satish

Kumar, said, "The victim has

injuries on almost all parts of

the body, including his private

parts. He has been beaten up

with batons and with bare

hands. The injuries to his face

and trachea were life-threatening,

but he has started responding

to treatment."

tweet said : "Every time there is an election

video of private vehicles caught transporting

EVMs show up... Unsurprisingly they

have the following things in common: 1.

The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates

or their associates. ...."

Over 77 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters

exercised their franchise in the second

phase of polling in Assam on Thursday in

the 39 constituencies. Of the three-phase

elections to the 126-member Assam

Assembly, the third and final phase of

polling will be held in 40 seats on April 6.

Nearly 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters

cast their votes on March 27 in the first

phase of polling in 47 constituencies. The

results will be declared on May 2.

Pakistan launches drone

patrolling on highways

Islamabad : Pakistan launched drone patrolling on highways

and motorways to prevent violations of traffic rules on the main

arteries of the country, according to an official statement.

The monitoring system at the highways and motorways were

also upgraded with body-worn cameras, national highways and

motorway police vehicle tracking system and public service vehicles

management system, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement

as saying on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, the country's Federal

Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain

said that the upgrade of the system will help motorway and highway

police to control traffic accidents and save lives through the

use of modern technologies on the roads.

Briefing the officials and attendees, Inspector General of

National Highways and Motorways Police Syed Kaleem Imam

termed the development a key achievement in the department's

vision to secure the roads.

"The main purpose of using drone technology is to prevent violations

of traffic laws on motorways and highways, as well as to

ensure the immediate assistance of distressed people," and effectively

monitoring of traffic flow and dangerous points on highways.

The official added that the body-worn cameras will help improve

the performance of police staff besides enabling the management to

have audio and video evidence of any accident, live recording of

traffic management, modern policing on motorways and highways

as well as increasing public confidence.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

5

Ancient Indian churches inspire

an Easter SUNDAY getaway

New Delhi : Easter which falls on

the first Sunday of April every year is

generally celebrated with midnight

mass, family get-togethers, large

lunches accompanied with an indulgence

in timely sweets, including

marzipan and easter egg chocolates.

With new lockdowns being

announced on a daily basis across

India, it may be difficult to celebrate

Easter the traditional way this year,

but to keep the celebrations alive,

Booking.com has curated a list of

some of India's ancient churches and

cathedrals that are perfect for an

Easter-inspired getaway as and when

it's safe to do so.

Thiruvithamcode Arappally,

Kanyakumari

Currently known as St. Mary's

Orthodox Church, Thiruvithamcode

Arappally is known to be India's oldest

church. It is claimed to have been

built in 57 A.D. by Thomas, one of

Jesus' 12 apostles. It was called

Thomaiyar Kovil by the then Chera

king Udayancheral. Located in

Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu,

this church is surrounded by beautiful

coconut groves and a lotus pond.

Despite its age, the church built from

quarry stone is very well kept and captivates

the viewer with its granite pillars

that make up the door frame and

lamps, tiled roof and latticed wooden

foyer. An orthodox church with a rustic

vibe is perfect for your next #wanderlust

post.

Vallarpadam Church, Kochi

Vallarpadam Church was built by

the Portuguese missionaries who came

to India to spread the word of God. It

is believed to be one of the earliest

European churches built in India. The

church was hit by a major flood in

1676, but was rebuilt on the land provided

by the government. Pope John

Paul II designated the church as a

Basilica in 2004. The locals are a big

patron of Mother Mary, or

Vallarpadathamma as they call her;

and the Basilica is considered to be the

National Shrine of Our Lady. The

Basilica holds an annual feast every

24th of September. So make a mental

note of this and consider capturing the

festivities for your next blog.

St. Paul's Church, Diu

Diu's one and only church, St. Paul

is a large structure compared to most

churches, with rich wood carvings,

unique spiral scrolls dating back to the

Corinthians and shell-like motifs that

adorn the walls. The Church follows a

Baroque-style architecture and the

main altar has 101 burning candles

offered to Our Lady. The Church

is a major tribute to the Jesuits

who came to India and have established

churches and schools across

the country. When it is safe to do

so, one must go to this church to

experience its grandeur and aesthetics.

San Thome Church, Chennai

Another renowned Basilica,

San Thome Church is among one

of the three across the globe that

hosts the tombs of one of Christ's

original disciples.

The interiors are rustic and

stepping in is almost like taking a

step back in time and entering a

different century. What is even

more interesting is that the church

is also partly a museum that showcases

some of the souvenirs that

have been preserved over

time. Remember to carry a

camera along with you to

capture moments from the

past.

All Saints Cathedral,

Prayagraj

Patthar Girja also known

as All Saints Cathedral, an

Anglican Christian Church

constructed in 1871, and it

is a must see if you have

been on the lookout for

Gothic-inspired churches.

Walking through the main

entrance, the carved glass

panels allow natural light in

that reflects across the

room. The main altar is

made of marble from the

colonial era. If you look

around the church, you will

find plaques of British

nationals who were martyred at the

time. Vlogging a walkthrough of this

church should be added to your to do

list!

Medak Cathedral, Medak,

Telangana

While its name may be simple,

Medak Cathedral is one of the largest

Diocese churches in Asia and amazingly,

the second largest Cathedral in

the world following the Vatican, being

200 ft long and 100 ft wide. The interiors

are very vibrant and decorated

with six different colours of imported

mosaic tiles.

The stained-glass windows are

another highlight of the church. They

depict the ways of the cross from the

Ascension till the Crucifixion. If you

have been looking for scenic lightthrough-the

glass photographs, Medak

Cathedral is one of the best locations

to capture this.


6 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

London policeman found guilty for

links with neo-Nazi terror group

London : A London Metropolitan

Police officer has been found guilty

after acting as a recruiter for a banned

neo-Nazi terrorist group, local media

reported.

Benjamin Hannam, 22, is the first

police officer in Britain to be convicted

of involvement in far-right terrorism,

Xinhua news agency.

Hannam was arrested in March last

year before being found guilty by the

Central Criminal Court of England and

Wales in London, known as the Old

Bailey, for being a member of National

Action, a proscribed terrorist organization,

along with two counts of possessing

documents useful for terrorism and

for fraud. He was released on conditional

bail ahead of sentencing on April 23.

"Obviously there will be some concern

that somebody who was a member

of a group like National Action was able

to become a member of Metropolitan

Police Service but once we had identified

that fact we acted very swiftly,"

Commander Richard Smith, head of the

Counter-Terrorism Command of the

Scotland Yard (metonym for the headquarters

of the Met Police), told Sky

News on Thursday.

"Clearly having a mindset of that

type is completely incompatible with

being a police officer," Smith said.

"We are highly concerned that we

have a serving police officer who has

previously been a member of a proscribed

organisation such as National

Action and we have followed every line

of inquiry as you would expect us to do

so." After Hannam's arrest, police found

an image on his iPhone showing him in

police uniform, with a Hitler-style mustache

superimposed on his face and a

Nazi badge on his lapel.

He was also found to have downloaded

a copy of the "manifesto" of the

right-wing extremist Anders Breivik,

who murdered more than 70 people,

mostly children, in bomb and gun

attacks in Norway in 2011.

The document included bomb-making

instructions and "exhaustive justifications

for his mass-casualty attacks",

according to prosecutors.

Hannam joined the Metropolitan

Police, the police service for the Greater

London area, in March 2018.

B'desh bans air travellers

from Europe, 12 other nations

Dhaka : Bangladesh has

imposed a temporary ban on

travellers from Europe and

12 other countries after

reporting a surge in coronavirus

infections.

The two-week ban will

come into effect on Saturday

and last until April 18, dpa

news agency reported on

Friday citing a statement

from the Civil Aviation

Authority of Bangladesh

(CAAB) as saying.

CAAB said air passengers

from the UK, where infection

rates are generally lower than

on mainland Europe, would

still be allowed to enter the

country.

Along with European

nations, Argentina, Bahrain,

Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Kuwait,

Lebanon, Peru, Qatar, South

Africa, Turkey, and Uruguay are

also among the banned nations.

Airlines operating scheduled

passenger flights from all those

countries will be allowed to

carry only transit passengers.

Passengers from other countries

must still adhere to a 14-

day home quarantine.

Bangladesh has so far reported

611,295 coronavirus cases,

with 9,046 deaths since the

South Asian country registered

the first cases in March 2020.

With many flouting the current

health guidelines, the government

on Tuesday issued a

new set of rules, including the

mandatory use of face masks

and limiting passengers on local

transport.

The country reported a single-day

record number of infections,

5,358, on Wednesday.

FARMERS declare FCI

Bachao Divas on April 5

Farmers call on the general

public and peasants to surround

local FCI offices across India

and protest the indirect attempts

to privatise the food provision

system.

Amid Holi celebrations,

farmer organisation Samyukt

Kisan Morcha (SKM) also

announced an upcoming event

on April 5, 2021. The event “FCI

Bachao Divas” aims to protest

the government’s attempts to do

away with Minimum Support

Price (MSP) and Public

Distribution System (PDS).

In recent days, farmers have

repeatedly raised concerns about

several ‘government attempts’ to

end MSP and PDS mechanisms

indirectly. Around March 20,

leaders had condemned the Food

Corporation of India’s (FCI) proposals

to introduce new quality

specifications and procurement

norms and submitted memorandums

to local authorities regarding

the same. “For the last several

years, the FCI budget has been

reduced. Recently, the FCI also

changed the rules for the procurement

system of crops,” said

the SKM. To condemn these

moves, leaders decided during a

general meeting to gherao (surround

in protest) all FCI offices

in the country from 11 AM to 5

PM. “We appeal to the farmers

and the general people that it is a

matter of future for both food

growers and food eaters, so take

part in large numbers in the April

5 protest,” said the SKM.

This is the first farmers’ event

announced by peasants for April

amidst ensuing summer heat and

rising coronavirus cases.

Courtesy : Sabrang

Antarctic glacier may cross tipping point, raise sea level

London : Pine Island Glacier -

- a region of fast-flowing ice

draining in West Antarctica --

may cross tipping points, which

can lead to future global sea-level

rise, researchers have found.

Pine Island Glacier is losing

more ice than any other glacier in

Antarctica and has been a cause

of concern. Along with neighbouring

Thwaites glacier, the

region is responsible for about 10

per cent of the ongoing increase

in global sea level.

The study, published in the

journal The Cryosphere, showed

that an increase of 1.2 Celsius in

ocean temperatures can lead to an

irreversible retreat causing total

collapse of the West Antarctic Ice

Sheet.

Further, it can also raise global

sea level by over three metres,

said researchers from the

Northumbria University in the

UK.

The long-term warming and

shoaling trends in Circumpolar

Deep Water, in combination with

changing wind patterns in the

Amundsen Sea, can expose Pine

Island Glacier's ice shelf to

warmer waters for longer periods

of time, making temperature

changes of this magnitude

increasingly likely, the

researchers noted.

The researchers found that the

critical glacier has at least three

distinct tipping points.

The first and second tipping

events are relatively small but

require a large reversal in ocean

conditions for recovery.

But, the third and final tipping

point is crossed with an increase

in sub-shelf melt rates equivalent

to a 1.2 degree Celsius increase in

ocean temperatures, leading to a

complete collapse.

"The potential for this region

to cross a tipping point has been

raised in the past, but our study is

the first to confirm that Pine

Island Glacier does indeed cross

these critical thresholds," said

lead author Sebastian Rosier from

Northumbria's Department of

Geography and Environmental

Sciences.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

7

In a first, US does not describe

Tibet as 'inalienable part of China'

Dharamsala : In a first, a US State

Department report does not describe

Tibet as an "inalienable part of China".

Reacting to the crucial development,

the Central Tibetan Administration

(CTA), headquartered in this northern

India hill station, on Thursday said this

year's report marks a victory for

Tibetans, for the report's Tibet section

does not describe Tibet as an "inalienable

part of China", a departure from

past reports.

This symbolic yet important gesture

has been repeatedly campaigned by the

CTA, and this change is welcomed by

the Office of Tibet-DC, it said.

The US State Department published

its annual "Country Reports on Human

Rights Practices" report.

Organised by the Bureau of

Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour,

this year's report includes over 50,000

words detailing the US's assessment of

the deteriorating human rights in China.

Reminiscent of past briefings, by the

CTA and others, the report details the

ongoing human rights issues in Tibet,

such as torture, arbitrary detentions,

corruption of the judiciary and elections,

lack of freedom of association,

assembly, movement, religion, censorship,

forced sterilisation, and violence

against indigenous peoples.

The forced disappearance of Gedhun

Choekyi Nyima (11th Panchen Lama),

Derung Tsering Dhundrup (a Tibetan

scholar), and Gen Sonam (a senior manager

of the Potala Palace) was highlighted,

according to the CTA.

The Tibet section also mentions the

Chinese Communist Party's forced

labour programme for approximately

500,000 rural Tibetans, which was

noted last September.

In the China section, the report

affirms the Trump Administration's

assertion that the Chinese Communist

Party is conducting "genocide and

crimes against humanity occurred during

the year against the predominantly

Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and

religious minority groups in Xinjiang".

"These crimes were continuing and

include the arbitrary imprisonment or

other severe deprivation of physical liberty

of more than one million civilians;

forced sterilisation, coerced abortions

and freedom of movement."

The Biden Administration's report

highlights the concerning mass surveillance

of Tibetans, Uyghurs, dissidents,

and religiously affiliated peoples by

China's Ministry of Public Security.

The China section details how the

Chinese government installed surveillance

cameras in monasteries in the

Tibetan Autonomous Region and

Tibetan areas, which would allow the

Chinese government to cut communication

systems during "major security

incidents", The report cites Human

Right Watch's findings that the Ministry

of Public Security has been partnering

with technology companies to create

"mass automated voice recognition and

monitoring system" that were created to

help the Chinese government more easily

understand Tibetan and Uyghur languages.

Fingerprints and DNA profiles and

other biometric data were also being

stored by the Ministry of Public

Security, this practice is implemented

for all Uyghurs applying for passports.

The report addresses the racist discriminatory

practices that deprive

Tibetans, Mongolians, Uyghurs, and

other ethnic minority groups of their fair

right to language, education, and jobs.

The report details how the Han

Chinese benefit from these racist policies,

"government development programmes

and job provisions disrupted

traditional living patterns of minority

groups and in some cases included the

forced relocation of persons and the

forced settlement of nomads".

Han Chinese benefited disproportionately

from government programmes

and economic growth in minority areas.

As part of its emphasis on building a

'harmonious society' and maintaining

social stability, the government downplayed

racism and institutional discrimination

against minorities and cracked

down on peaceful expressions of ethnic

culture and religion.

The State Department report mentions

how Chinese officials restrict

NGOs that provide assistance to

Tibetans as well.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai

Lama has lived in India since fleeing his

homeland in 1959.

The Tibetan exile administration is

based in Dharamsala, Himachal

Pradesh.

Punjab CM launches free travel facility for women

Chandigarh :Taking another major

step towards women empowerment,

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder

Singh on Thursday virtually launched

a free travel facility for women in government

buses running within the state.

"With this, we have fulfilled another

poll manifesto promise," said the Chief

Minister, adding that after the recordmaking

85 per cent promises implemented,

his government was now

moving forward towards the realisation

of all 100 per cent of the commitments.

Pointing out that other parties were

promising free travel for women now

in states going to polls, he said that

while everyone talks about women

empowerment, his government had

taken several concrete measures to

achieve it.

In fact, while the promise of his

government was to reduce ticket price

for women by 50 per cent, it had gone

ahead to make it totally free, he said,

urging private bus operators to also

understand their social responsibility

and reduce tariff. Under the free travel

scheme, which will benefit over 1.31

crore women and girls across the state,

all women, irrespective of their financial

status, will be able to travel free of

cost in all non-AC buses, intra-state,

just by showing Aadhaar or voter card

or some other valid identity card.

Expressing concern over crimes

against women, the Chief Minister said

his government was committed to their

safety, and the Transport Department

was installing GPS systems in all government

and private buses, to enable

easy tracking of the vehicle, in addition

to panic button for emergency use.

The process was nearly complete

for government buses, and the private

operators had been asked to complete

it by August 31, he said.

He lauded the Transport

Department for the innovative initiatives

towards women safety.

Amarinder Singh further

announced 25 more bus stations to

be built in the state to improve

road connectivity.

The free travel scheme, said the

Chief Minister, will be a boost to

the realisation of his government's

vision for inclusive growth and

development of women and girls,

who have already been provided

50 per cent reservation in

Panchayati Raj and Local Body

institutions in the state, along with

33 per cent reservation in government

jobs. In line with this commitment,

33,000 women will get

jobs this year in the state, the

Chief Minister pointed out, adding

that a large number of girl students

had also been provided smartphones

to help them study during

the pandemic.

During the virtual launch, connected

live to 30,000 people across

1,036 locations, Surinder Kaur, travelling

from Bagapurana to Jalandhar to

fetch her medicines, said she was

pleasantly surprised this morning to

discover about the scheme on boarding

a bus. The scheme will be very helpful

to women from the poor families. One

Naina said the move would make it

much easier for her now to travel to

meet her family and friends without

worrying about the expenses. Another

woman commuter dubbed it a great

decision for the empowerment of

women.

Transport Minister Razia Sultana

said her department would continue to

work towards women safety in both

public and private transport, while

Social Security, Women and Child

Development Minister Aruna

Chaudhary termed the scheme yet

another key initiative by the Amarinder

government for the welfare and development

of women. Calling it a true

women's day gift, Punjab Congress

president Sunil Jakhar contrasted the

state government's mindset with that in

Uttar Pradesh and some other states,

which were becoming notorious for

crime against women. Punjab Youth

Congress chief Barinder Dhillon lauded

the move, which he said reflected

the women empowerment ethos of the

state government, which also has its

first woman Chief Secretary now. He

also mooted free travel for students, to

and fro to their educational institutes,

to promote education.


8 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Why Holi & politics are

losing colour in UP

Lucknow : Holi, in Lucknow, has

lost much of its vibrancy and colour --

and it is not corona alone that is to

blame. The changing political scenario,

hardening of lines in various political

parties and increasing acrimony

between leaders has robbed the festival

of its festivity.

With Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath

away in Gorakhpur, his official residence

at 5 Kalidas Marg, on Monday,

wore a desolate look.

Barring a few security personnel

strolling around aimlessly and some

peering into their mobile phones, there

was almost no activity in the high-security

zone. Yogi Adityanath, since he

took over in 2017, has chosen to spend

all major festivals in his hometown,

Gorakhpur.

Before him, Samajwadi Party chief

Akhilesh Yadav had also preferred to

spend festivals in his native village

Sefai, instead of Lucknow.

He left for Sefai on Sunday to celebrate

Holi with his extended family.

The chief minister's residence in

Lucknow, once upon a time, used to be

the epicenter of all celebrations, particularly

Holi. Former chief ministers,

including Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna,

Veer Bahadur Singh, Narain Dutt Tiwari

and even Rajnath Singh, kept an open

house on Holi. Bureaucrats, party workers,

leaders and journalists were

allowed free access into the chief minister's

residence. Colour flew into the air

and snacks were served to all and

sundry. Earlier, during such celebrations,

even opposition leaders were seen

visiting the chief minister's residence to

exchange greetings. "Those were the

days when the chief minister welcomed

everyone with open arms. There were

no security checks and everyone was

treated with respect. In the present

times, it is almost unthinkable that politicians would host such events," said senior journalist Pradeep Kapoor. The trend stopped when Mayawati

became the chief minister in 1995.

Firstly, she did not believe in celebrating

festivals that were 'Manuwadi'

and she was also paranoid about her

security. "It has never been the same

after that. Whether it was Mulayam

Singh or Akhilesh Yadav and now Yogi

Adityanath -- they all stay away on festivals

like Holi and their celebrations

have become event-managed by the

government," said another journalist

who did not wish to be named.

On Monday, while the chief minister

was away in Gorakhpur, almost all his

ministers also went to their respective

constituencies and Lucknow-the seat of

power-remained colourless.

The BJP office had few familiar

faces around but all senior leaders were

missing in action. The Samajwadi Party

also wore a desolate look since Akhilesh

and Mulayam were away in Sefai.

The gates of the BSP office, like

every other day, remained firmly locked

and there were no signs of any celebrations

here. The scene at the Congress

party office also reflected the mood in

the party that is presently locked in bitter

infighting. Party workers, in the past,

used to play Holi in the party office and

mingled happily with each other. There

was no such scene this year.

Political analysts feel that this also

reflects in the new political system that

is developing without any link between

the leaders and workers. "The bonhomie

that leaders shared with workers --

many of whom were known by names

to their leaders -- has gone missing. The

affectionate bond has snapped and political

parties are now functioning like

corporate houses. This may work for

some time but in the long run, it will

hamper the growth of political parties,"

said Dr S.K. Dikshit, a retired professor

of political science.

Gujarat Assembly passes 'LOVE JIHAD' Bill

Gandhinagar : The Gujarat

Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill to

amend the 'Dharma Swatantrya'

(Freedom of Religion) Act, 2003 which

aims to combat forceful religious conversions,

better known as 'Love Jihad',

on the concluding day of the Budget

session.

However, the opposition Congress

questioned its intentions and dubbed

the bill as a tool to attain political

mileage and create religious divide.

Tabled by the ruling BJP, the amendment

seeks to prohibit and punish religious

conversion promising better

lifestyle, divine blessings and impersonation

on the pretext of marriage.

The Bill was tabled in the state

Assembly by Legislative Affairs

Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja. The

Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003

sought to deal with religious conversion

through allurement, force or by misrepresentation

or by any other fraudulent

means. However, the state government

felt that there were episodes of religious

conversion promising better lifestyle,

divine blessings and impersonation.

"The state government feels that there

is an emerging trend where women are

lured to marriage for the purpose of

religious conversion," cited the BJP

government as the reason to bring in

this amendment.

While speaking on the Bill,

Pradeepsinh Jadeja quoted facts and

figures and data related to many states

like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha,

Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, but the

minister did not disclose any figures

regarding incidents of such kind of

marriages and forceful religious conversions

in Gujarat.

"By bringing in this new amendment

Bill, the state government is admitting

that the 2003 'Dharma Swatantrya'

(Freedom of Religion) Act has proven

meaningless and even after 17 years of

framing that law, you (BJP) have to

bring this Bill. There is not a single

mention of 'Love Jihad' in this Bill,"

said Leader of Opposition Paresh

Dhanani. "IPC Sections 406, 417 and

419 are already in effect which address

these issues intended to be covered by

this new Bill. Despite such clauses, the

Gujarat government could not curb

such crimes in the state, which is an

indirect admission by the Home

Minister," added Dhanani.

"Don't politicise this issue of religion.

We once again say that hang those

who are fraudulently marrying.

Attempts should be made to bring

together all religions and not create a

divide," said Gyasuddin Sheikh, the

Congress MLA from Dariyapur.

"We have not said that the victims

belong to any specific religion anywhere

in the Bill.

It is our responsibility to safeguard

the interests of the daughters of the

state, but the opposition Congress has

made this issue as an issue of life and

death. I guarantee that anybody in the

state will endorse this Bill," said

Deputy CM Nitin Patel.

According to the provisions of the

Bill, whoever is found to be carrying

out such religious conversion by marriage,

or getting a person married or by

aiding a person to get married shall be

punished with imprisonment of not less

than three years and up to five years

and will also be liable to pay a fine of

Rs 2 lakh.

If the marriage is in respect of a

minor, a woman or a person from SC or

ST community, the punishment shall be

of imprisonment of a minimum of four

years to a maximum of seven years and

fine of Rs 3 lakh.

Further, any such marriage carried

out for the purpose of unlawful conversion

by the person of one religion with

the person of another religion, either by

converting himself or herself before or

after marriage, shall be declared void

by the family court or any other similar

court.

The provisions of the proposed

amendment further states that if any

institution or organisation is found to be

in charge of or responsible for such

marriage, it shall be punished with

imprisonment of minimum three years

and up to 10 years and a fine of up to Rs

5 lakh.

Moreover, the provisions say that the

burden to prove that a religious conversion

was not affected through misrepresentation,

force, undue influence, coercion,

allurement or any other fraudulent

means shall lie on the accused and his

or her facilitators.

The offence of such religious conversion

through marriage shall be considered

cognisable and non-bailable

and shall be investigated by an official

above the rank of a Deputy

Superintendent of Police (DSP).


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 9

The unfolding tragedy of Tibet

Tibet, famously called the roof of the

world; a state in the Himalayas neighboured

by India and China has for long

been in a state of tussle with Beijing.

China lays the claim over the entire

Tibet and calls it its own territory; however,

Tibet has always strived for an

independent existence. This is among

the many conflicts currently brewing in

south Asia, probably the worse as far as

the power imbalance is concerned. The

water tower of Asia has for long witnessed

the cold and dark nights under

the communist regime of China. The

process of democratization is merely a

ghost only if that ghost exists. This

makes it imperative for the powers

across the globe to play their role in fostering

a dialogue between Beijing and

Tibet, and only recently we have seen

some improvement on that front and

some progress will hopefully be on its

way.

Tibetan people have struggled under

the mighty and brutal fist of Beijing and

since the independence of China we

have been demanding our separate

homeland. The division of Tibet into

smaller units and segregating them from

the mainland Tibet is a typical example

of engineering. Tibet as known today is

only a fraction of the historical mainland

of Tibet. The Chinese have created

a facade by giving the autonomous

region of Tibet, which is what is left of

Tibet after its repeated geographical

divisions, an autonomy nonexistent in

practice. People in Tibet demand the

unification of all the parts which were

historically part of Tibet, and post that

want a complete political, economic and

religious freedom. People in Tibet have

tried to resist the imperialistic control of

the communist China in Tibet and have

always raised their demand for independent

Tibet. The inspiration to the

people of Tibet comes mainly from

outer Mongolia and Bhutan, both countries

are doing quite well in managing

their affairs and their foreign policy.

The other countries in the region enjoy

the power over their own destiny while

in case of Tibet, the destiny of people is

being meddled with and is mostly in the

hands of Han Chinese, who have never

been sympathetic to the people of Tibet.

The gross human violations in Tibet is

not a new story and is not hidden from

anyone despite the media ban and propagandistic

approach adopted by Chinese

government to have the control of one's

destiny is the luxury Tibetans don't have.

Young People are abducted from the tribal

regions of Tibet and the same are

inducted in PLA (People's Liberation

Army), who are then sent to various

regions of mainland China wherein they

go through the process of political reengineering;

approximately half a million

people have already been inducted

in PLA from Tibet tribal regions and

same are being engineered to serve the

agenda of communist China. One of the

major internationally recognized

research organizations has stated the

conditions being equally worse as that in

Syria. The excruciating pain shivers the

spine when one sees that people are not

even allowed to decide on the number of

children they can have. The free and fair

process of governance in Tibet is just a

mirage and the reality, just the opposite.

The dilapidated condition of Tibetans is

mostly being ignored and not reported,

however, the reports which come out as

Tibetans flee from Tibet in search of a

peaceful asylum are very disturbing. The

missing list of people from Lhasa and

adjoining areas is growing and no political

rival is left unmonitored. The

accounts of the torture being administered

to politically active workers in

Tibet has seen no parallel. The fear of

losing identity is among the worst fears

any community can encounter. The cultural

identity and the religious identity of

the people of Tibet is among the worst

hit. Tibet and China are culturally

diverse and have very little to nothing in

common. The Chinese, however, are trying

to impose their culture in Tibet which

would subsequently mean the lost

Tibetan culture. The freedom of religious

expression is even more hit. The interference

in the elections for Dalai Lama by

China is not only protested against, but

the proxy Dalai Lama which has been

put in place in Tibet is not even revered

by the people of Tibet. Tibetans have a

strong notion of being separated from

their religion and fears of Chinese

Buddhism taking over Tibetan Buddhism

under the protection of communist

China. This is one of the grave situations

as far as the freedom to profess and practice

of religion is concerned.

The world needs to come together to

solve this issue of gross human rights

violation among other conflicts.

The US, UK and India have been

actively involved in resolving the long

pending issue of Tibetans. The US and

allied parties have actively participated

in resolving the issues around the globe

and the same needs to be done in case of

Tibet. The democratic powers across the

globe should come forth to rescue Tibet

from this situation. The Bills must be

passed in their respective Parliaments to

put pressure on Chinese government to

secure rights for Tibetan people. After

the US under the Trump regime passed

the Bill of Tibet Act, the Biden-led government

should smear ahead the campaign

while including Tibet in their

main agenda. Given China's increasing

assault on Tibetan human rights, the US

has a larger role to play. They must

appoint and empower an individual

coordinator committed to the plight of

Tibet. White House must step in to curb

China's role in picking up Next Dalai

Lama. The world powers should come

ahead and declare the situation as genocide

of human rights seeking UN intervention.

If the Biden administration

chooses to lead it, this might result in

exerting control over a situation where

China is attempting to assimilate the

culture and persecuting the religion.

Tibetans are peace and progress-loving

people, however, that has to come

along with meaningful freedom. We

also urge the people across the globe to

help us raise the issue of Tibet before

the world community and be part of

securing a meaningful solution.

By Lobsang Sangay & Karma

Choeying

(Lobsang Sangay Sikyong -

President of the Tibetan-government-inexile,

called Central Tibetan

Administration. Co-author is Karma

Choeying, CTA official Spokesperson.

Views are personal)

Farmers to block KMP e-way

on April 10, hold march to

PARLIAMENT in May

New Delhi : In a move to

boost the ongoing protest against

the new agricultural laws, the

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM)

has announced that farmers will

block the Kundli-Manesar-

Palwal (KMP) expressway on

April 10 for 24 hours and also

hold a march to Parliament in

May. Unveiling its plan for the

next two months, the SKM, an

umbrella body of 32 farmer

groups, said that it will organise

the 'FCI (Food Corporation of

India) Bachao Diwas' on April 5

that will be marked by the

'gherao of FCI offices across the

country'. The foot march will be

joined not just by farmers, but

also by women, unemployed

individuals and labourers who

have been supporting the protest,

the SKM has said.

It further said that the farmers

will celebrate the Baisakhi festival

at the Delhi borders on April

13, and on the next day, which is

the birth anniversary of Bhim

Rao Ambedkar, Samvidan

Bachao Divas (Save

Constitution Day) will be

observed.

Thousands of farmers have

been camping at the Delhi's borders

since November last year,

seeking a repeal of the new farm

laws.

ADB approves $300mn

loan to build hydropower

plant in PAKISTAN

Manila : The

Philippines-based Asian

Development Bank

(ADB) announced on

Tuesday that it has

approved a $300 million

loan to finance the construction

of a 300-

megawatt hydropower

plant that will boost clean

energy in Pakistan and

improve its energy security.

The ADB said the

plant will add 1,143

gigawatt-hours of clean energy

annually to Pakistan's energy

mix, enhancing its reliability

and sustainability, reports

Xinhua news agency.

It said the plant, which will

incorporate seismic strengthening

and climate-proofing measures,

will be built on the

Kunhar river near Balakot city

in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

province and commissioned by

2027.

ADB Principal Energy

Specialist Adnan Tareen said in

a statement that the "climateresilient

hydropower plant will

boost the country's clean energy

generation while effectively

utilizing its vast water

resources". Pakistan is rich in

hydropower resources, but

only around 16 per cent of

its identified hydropower

potential has been harnessed,

according to the

ADB.

The country's power sector

relies on imported fuelbased

power generation and

is burdened with a stressed

transmission and distribution

network.

The ADB said the

Balakot Hydropower Plant

will also generate economic

activity and improve local

communities' skills.

During construction, the

ADB said the project will create

more than 1,200 jobs, about

40 per cent of which will be

sourced locally, and provide

livelihood skills development

for women.


10 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Foreign tourists

to Indonesia

drop by 86.9%

Jakarta : The number of foreign tourists visiting

Indonesia was recorded at 117,000 in February 2021,

an 86.59 per cent drop compared to the same month

last year, a top official announced here on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the number of foreigners travelling to

Indonesia in February 2021 decreased by 14.74 per

cent compared to that in January 2021, the official of

the Central Agency of Statistics told reporters.

Cumulatively in the January-February 2021 period,

the number of foreign tourist arrivals reached 254,230,

or decreased by 88.25 per cent, compared to that in the

same period in 2020 which amounted to 2.16 million

visits. The number of foreigners entering the archipelagic

country by air in February 2021 dropped by 98.74

per cent compared to that in the same month last year.

"Almost all airports in the country underwent

decreases in the number of foreign holiday makers,

except Sam Ratulangi airport in North Sulawesi

province that recorded an increase by 10.67 per cent,"

Setianto said. According to him, the lowest decline was

recorded at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Banten province

with a percentage of 95.50 per cent.

Indonesia closed its borders last year to prevent the

spread of the coronavirus.

Exceptions were granted to those who had special

permission from Indonesian ministries or institutions.

Authorities are considering to allow tourism to

restart in the resort island of Bali from July onwards.

Myanmar's ousted democratic

leaders rescind Constitution

Nay Pyi Taw : Ousted democratic

leaders of Myanmar have said that they

were rescinding the country's 2008 constitution,

which gave significant power to the

armed forces. The Committee

Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw

(CRPH), or Parliament, on Wednesday

announced the Constitution would be

invalid from March 31, reports dpa news

agency. It is however unclear whether this

move will have any consequences on the

ground due to the February 1 military

takeover of the country. CRPH is an underground

cabinet founded by members of the

National League for Democracy (NLD), the

party of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu

Kyi. The constitution brought an end to almost

50 years of military dictatorship, but it still

gave the army automatically 25 per cent of

parliamentary seats and several important

ministries. It was introduced by the military

and changes to it are not possible without the

consent of the armed forces. Due to a constitutional

clause, Suu Kyi was never able to

become President, but as de facto leader she

led the country as State Counsellor.

On Thursday, many people in Myanmar

Astronomers detect X-rays

from Uranus for 1st time

celebrated the CRPH announcement, with

protesters burning the Constitution on the

street. "We must win and the junta must fail.

They have pay for what they have done to

civilians," Kyi Min, an entrepreneur, told dpa

in Yangon. After Suu Kyi's NLD won a clear

majority in elections last November, the military

staged the coup, arguing the election had

been rigged. Suu Kyi was arrested and has

since then been under house arrest. The military

has violently cracked down on the ensuing

protests. According to the Assistance

Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a

non-profit, at least 536 people have been

killed by military forces since the coup.

Washington : In a finding

that may help scientists learn

more about Uranus, astronomers

have detected X-rays from this

enigmatic ice giant planet in our

solar system, for the first time.

Uranus is the seventh planet

from the Sun and has two sets of

rings around its equator.

The planet, which has four

times the diameter of Earth,

rotates on its side, making it different

from all other planets in the

solar system.

Since Voyager 2 was the only

spacecraft to ever fly by Uranus,

astronomers currently rely on telescopes

much closer to Earth, like

Chandra and the Hubble Space

Telescope, to learn about this distant

and cold planet that is made

up almost entirely of hydrogen

and helium.

In the new study published in

the Journal of Geophysical

Research, researchers used

Chandra observations taken in

Uranus in 2002 and then again in

2017.

They saw a clear detection of

X-rays from the first observation,

just analysed recently, and a possible

flare of X-rays in those

obtained fifteen years later.

But what could cause Uranus

to emit X-rays? The answer:

mainly the Sun.

Astronomers have observed

that both Jupiter and Saturn scatter

X-ray light given off by the

Sun, similar to how Earth's

atmosphere scatters the Sun's

light.

While the authors of the new

Uranus study initially expected

that most of the X-rays detected

would also be from scattering,

there are tantalising hints that at

least one other source of X-rays is

present.

If further observations confirm

this, it could have intriguing

implications for understanding

Uranus. One possibility is that the

rings of Uranus are producing X-

rays themselves, which is the case

for Saturn's rings. Uranus is surrounded

by charged particles such

as electrons and protons in its

nearby space environment. If

these energetic particles collide

with the rings, they could cause

the rings to glow in X-rays.

Another possibility is that at

least some of the X-rays come

from auroras on Uranus, a phenomenon

that has previously been

observed on this planet at other

wavelengths.

The authors of the study

include William Dunn from

University College London in

Britain and Jan-Uwe Ness from

University of Marseille, France,

among others.

'Inoculating kids next big

ethical debate for UK govt'

London : For

the UK government,

vaccination

of children will

be the "next big

ethical debate" as

the country seeks

to recover from

the Covid-19

pandemic, local

media reported.

The government

is currently carrying

out a review on the ethical dilemmas around vaccine

passports and overseas travel, Xinhua news agency quoted a

Sky News report as saying on Wednesday.

The latest development came as US drug company Pfizer

announced that trails of its vaccine show 100 per cent efficacy

and a strong immune response on 12 to 15-year-olds.

It is understood that children are less likely to be seriously

ill with or die of coronavirus, but they can easily spread

the disease to adults.

Pfizer has said it will ask for emergency US and European

authorization for younger age groups.

It remains unclear what will happen in the UK as the current

vaccines are authorised only for adults. Nearly 31 million

people have been given the first jab of the coronavirus

vaccine, according to the official figures.

Russia passes

bill allowing

Putin to run for

two more terms

Moscow : Russia's upper house of parliament,

the Federation Council, has

passed a bill enabling incumbent

President Vladimir Putin to run for two

more terms starting 2024.

The bill was approved by the lower

house of parliament, the State Duma, a

week ago. Putin is expected to sign it into

law soon, Xinhua news agency reported.

The draft law on elections was made in

pursuance of constitutional amendments

adopted in a nationwide referendum in

July 2020. One of the 206 constitutional

amendments stipulates that the limit of

two presidential terms applies to the

incumbent head of state, but without taking

into account his previous terms.

In light of the amendment, the bill,

cleared by the upper house on Wednesday,

grants Putin the possibility of starting his

presidency from scratch in 2024 and holding

the office for two more terms until

2036.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

14K accused in violent

Bangladesh protests

ASIA

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

11

Dhaka : Around 14,000 people have

been accused in numerous cases filed

over the violent protests in Bangladesh

organised by the Hefazat-e-Islam militant

group since March 26 against

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's

visit to Dhaka.

A total of 14 people, 10 in

Brahmanbaria and four in Chittagong,

were killed in the ensuing violence

when the militants staged attacks on

police, government and law enforcement

personnel officials.

For the carnage in Brahmanbaria,

over 8,000 people have been accused in

seven cases and 14 suspects were arrested

so far, the police confirmed on

Wednesday.

At least 3,000 unnamed Hefazat

members were accused for their

involvement in the pre-planned vandalism,

arson attacks and massacre in

Chittagong and Munshiganj.

On March 26, when Modi arrived in

Dhaka, a group of Hefazat militants

attacked devotees outside the Baitul

Mukarram National Mosque in the capital

city. The same day, the militant outfit

called for a day-long strike across the

country on March 28 and announced a

country-wide protest on March 27 for

the deaths of its members during clashes

in different districts.

In the pre-planned massacre, there

was also significant damage and looting

at the Anandamoyi Kali temple, the

biggest temple of Asia.

Besides, private property, vehicles of

police and fire service, cultural establishments

and government properties

and all the documents of land office of

Hathajari and Brahmmanbaria were set

ablaze. No policemen or Fire Service

officials was present for 3 days in

Brahmmanbaria.

Regarding the fact that none of the

top members of Hefazat and Jamaat-e-

Islami, another banned group, were

included in the cases filed, IGP Benazir

Ahmed, said: "But if they are found

involved after the investigation, legal

action will be taken against them for

sure, action will be taken against the

instigators. The attacks stained the golden

jubilee of Bangladesh's

Independence." Abdul Hamid, known

as "Madhupur Pir" of Heazat's central

committee who attacked the police on

March 28 in Munshiganj district's

Sirajdikhan upazila, was not made

named as an accused.

He is also the superintendent of

Madhupur Qowmi Madrasa, deemed as

a "breeding ground" of militants.

Mohammad Mahfuz Afzal,

Additional Superintendent of Police

(administration and crime), said"

"Police did not make Madhupur Pir an

accused as he was not involved in the

attack on police during the strike."

Mohammad Kamruzzaman, inspector

(investigation) of Sirajdikhan police

station, said eight persons were arrested

in connection with the case.

"Among the 15 accused, Mohammad

Obaidullah Kashemi, 40, president of

Hefazat, Sirahdikhan unit and Abdullah,

35, were made accused," he mentioned.

SM Rashidul Haque, superintendent

of Chittagong District Police told IANS

that, they filed four cases with Hathazari

Police Station over the attacks on

policemen, vandalism at stations, and

other charges. Officials of the Assistant

Commissioner (AC Land) office in

Hathazari upazila also filed two cases

over vandalism at their office and setting

one a vehicle on fire.

Rezaul Karim, officer-in-charge of

Patiya Police Station, said they filed a

case accusing at least 700 unidentified

people under the Anti-Terrorism Act

with the police station.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

BUDDHIST INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Mob : 07411 251 804, 07847 307 059


12 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Britons urged to obey coronavirus

restrictions amid warm weather

London : British health authorities

on Wednesday warned that Britons

should obey the Covid-19 restriction

rules and remain cautious over coronavirus

in order to check the spread of

the virus as people gathered outdoors to

enjoy the sunshine.

"We need to obey the rules as they

are," Sian Griffiths, a senior public

health official, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"If we want to control the spread of the

virus, it’s much better to be seeing people

outside... But we also need to be

keeping our distance from each other,"

Xinhua news agency reported. His comment

came as thousands gathered in

parks and beaches as the temperature in

Britain soared this week, prompting

concerns of possible breaches of Covid-

19 restrictions.

The mercury peaked at 24.5 degrees

Celsius at Kew Gardens in west London

on Tuesday, with St James’s Park in the

center of the British capital also hitting

highs of 24.3 degrees Celsius.

The figure is only slightly below

Britain’s hottest ever March temperature

of 25.6 degrees Celsius, recorded in

1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire in

eastern England. Crowds of sun-seekers

flocked to parks and beaches to enjoy

the warm weather on Tuesday, 48 hours

after restrictions were eased. "When I

see the pictures I do get anxious," said

Griffiths. "If we’re not in a household

bubble we need to be two meters apart

Cong MLA tears copy of ’Love

Jihad’ Bill in Gujarat Assembly

Gandhinagar : Sparks flew

in the Gujarat Assembly on the

concluding day of the Budget

session on Thursday with

Congress legislator Imran

Khedawala tearing a copy of the

Bill proposed to amend the

’Dharma Swatantrya’ (Freedom

of Religion) Act, 2003 aimed to

combat forceful religious conversions,

better known as ’Love

Jihad’, that was tabled in the

House by the ruling Bharatiya

Janata Party (BJP). While speaking

on the provisions of the

amendment Bill, Khedawala

said, "Home Minister

Pradeepsinh Jadeja has only

mentioned that the daughters of

the Hindu community are targeted

by men from a specific community.

Daughters, be it from

any religious community, will

always be our daughters. I too

have over hundred testimonies

of Muslim girls marrying into

other religion. I am deeply hurt

by the words of the minister."

On hearing this, the Speaker

of the House, Rajendra Trivedi,

interrupted the Congress legislator

but Khedawala stuck to his

words.

"Nobody can force anybody

and I don’t think those pictures look like

that’s happening." British Health

Secretary Matt Hancock also issued a

to marry into a specific religion

and in no religion it is written to

forcibly convert anyone to

accept that. In this Bill, only one

community is specifically targeted

with words like ’Jihadi’. I

opposite this Bill and I’m tearing

down its copy," Khedawala said

as tore the copy of the Bill which

he had in his hand.

The gesture was followed by

an uproar from the BJP members

in the House. The proposed

amendment seeks to prohibit and

punish religious conversions

promising better lifestyle, divine

blessings and impersonation.

56 CBI officers get commendation

certificates on 59th foundation day

New Delhi : At least 56 officers

of the Central Bureau of

Investigation (CBI) were on

Thursday awarded with the

Director CBI’s Commendation

Certificate and cash rewards of

up to Rs 10,000 on the occasion

of the agency’’s 59th Foundation

Day, officials said.

CBI spokesperson R.C. Joshi

said in a statement that 14 investigating

officers, six prosecuting

officers, two technical officers

and other officials engaged in

various assignments were

awarded on the 59th Foundation

Day. Joshi said that CBI Director

in-charge Praveen Sinha, in a

virtual address, greeted his colleagues

on the special day.

Sinha, while addressing the

agency officials, said that the

CBI’s credibility is exemplified

from the fact that constitutional

courts and state governments

have been referring a large number

of matters to the agency.

warning Tuesday night. "Let’s enjoy the

sun but let’s do it safely. We have come

so far, don’t blow it now," he said on

He said the CBI has today

become a premier national

investigating agency having

many specialised units suc as

cyber crime, anti-human trafficking,

sports integrity unit,

cyber and hi-tech crime investigation

and training (CHCIT)

centre, online child sexual abuse

and

exploitation

prevention/investigation unit,

Interpol coordination unit for

acting as nodal agency for all

Indian LEAs with Interpol, special

crime zone to investigate

offences referred to it by constitutional

courts or state governments,

besides anti-corruption,

economic offences, bank frauds,

narcotics, wildlife etc. He said,

"The credibility of CBI is exemplified

from the fact that constitutional

courts and state governments

have been referring large

number of matters to the CBI.

"The CBI is growing in strength

and competence and adapting to

Twitter. Another 4,040 people in Britain

have tested positive for Covid-19,

bringing the total number of coronavirus

cases in the country to 4,341,736,

according to official figures released on

Tuesday.

The country also reported another 56

coronavirus-related deaths. The total

number of coronavirus-related deaths in

Britain stood at 126,670. These figures

only include the deaths of people who

died within 28 days of their first positive

test. From Monday, two households

or groups of up to six were allowed to

meet outside, including in private gardens,

and outdoor team sports are

reopening. From April 12, non-essential

retail, as well as restaurants and pubs, if

serving people outdoors, will be

allowed to reopen in England.

On February 22, British Prime

Minister Boris Johnson announced his

roadmap exiting the lockdown, the third

of its kind since the start of the pandemic

in the country. The four-step plan is

expected to see all legal restrictions in

England being removed by mid-June.

Experts have warned that Britain is

"still not out of the woods" amid concerns

over new variants and the third

wave of the pandemic in the European

continent.

new challenges in investigation,"

Sinha said.

He also lauded the work

undertaken by the CBI staff during

the Covid-19 pandemic by

continuing investigation as

before despite a large number of

personnel getting affected and a

few of them succumbing to the

virus.

Sinha added that CBI has

recently brought out the updated

Crime Manual-2020 after 15

years. The previous Crime

Manual was published in 2005,

thereafter significant developments

took place that necessitated

the bringing out of a new edition

of the manual. An exercise

was also undertaken to update

the circulars and in this process

more than 40 circulars/office

memorandums were updated.

Additional Directors Ajay

Bhatnagar and D.C. Jain also

greeted the officers and staff on

the occasion.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

HEALTH

'1st vax dose cuts infection

risk by 62% in England'

The study tracked more than 10,400 care home residents in England

London : major study of care home residents

in England has found that their risk of

infection with coronavirus fell by 62 per cent

five weeks after they received their first vaccine

dose.

The study, funded by the UK Department

Diabetes drug may be new

weapon against HIV

New York : A team of researchers has discovered an important

vulnerability of the AIDScausing

retrovirus HIV, and

has shown in preclinical

experiments that a widely

used diabetes drug, metformin,

seems able to exploit

this vulnerability.

The findings, published in

the journal Nature

Immunology, suggests that

HIV (human immunodeficiency

virus), when it infects

immune cells called CD4 T

cells, helps fuel its own replication by boosting a key process in

the cells' production of chemical energy.

They also found that the diabetes drug metformin inhibits the

same process and thereby suppresses HIV replication in these

cells, in both cell-culture and mouse experiments.

"These findings suggest that metformin and other drugs that

reduce T cell metabolism might be useful as adjunct therapies for

treating HIV," said researcher Haitao Guo University of North

Carolina. About 38 million people around the world are living

with HIV infection, according to the World Health Organization's

most recent estimates.

Doctors currently treat these infections with combinations of

antiretroviral drugs to suppress HIV replication. However, many

patients despite this treatment show signs of residual viral replication

and immune impairment.

Even patients who respond well to antiretroviral drugs must

take them indefinitely, since HIV inscribes itself into the DNA of

some infected cells, and the drugs cannot clear this viral genetic

"reservoir." Moreover, the toxicity of anti-HIV drugs means that

many patients can take them only intermittently. Thus, despite

progress, there is still much room for improvement in HIV treatment.

For the study, the team analyzed CD4-cell gene expression

data from a study of HIV-infected people and found that the geneexpression

patterns most closely related to poor outcomes among

these patients involved an energy-production process called oxidative

phosphorylation. They then found that drugs and other chemical

compounds that inhibit oxidative phosphorylation in CD4

cells can inhibit HIV's ability to replicate in these cells.

The team confirmed with further experiments in primary

human CD4 cells, and in mice with human CD4 cells, that metformin

suppresses HIV replication in these cells.

of Health and Social Care, tracked more than

10,400 care home residents in England with

an average age of 86 between December

2020 and March this year, comparing the

number of infections occurring in vaccinated

and unvaccinated groups, Xinhua news

New York : Pregnant women who consumed

caffeine as little as half a cup of

coffee a day on an average had slightly

smaller babies than pregnant women who

did not consume caffeinated beverages, a

new study revealed.

The study found corresponding reductions

in size and lean body mass for

infants whose mothers consumed below

the 200 milligrams of caffeine per day—

about two cups of coffee—believed to

increase risks to the fetus.

Smaller birth size can place infants at

higher risk of obesity, heart disease and

diabetes later in life. "Until we learn

more, our results suggest it might be prudent

to limit or forego caffeine-containing

beverages during pregnancy," said

researcher Katherine L. Grantz from the

NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National

Institute of Child Health and Human

Development.

For the study, published in the JAMA

Network Open, A the team analyzed data

on more than 2,000 racially and ethnically

diverse women at 12 clinical sites who

were enrolled from 8 to 13 weeks of pregnancy.

From weeks 10 to 13 of pregnancy,

the women provided a blood sample that was

later analyzed for caffeine and paraxanthine,

a compound produced when caffeine is broken

down in the body.

Compared to infants born to women with

now or minimal blood levels of caffeine,

infants born to women who had the highest

blood levels of caffeine at enrollment were

an average of 84 grams lighter at birth (about

agency quoted the Guardian newspaper as

saying on Monday.

The research, which has not yet been

peer-reviewed, found that both vaccines

Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech

reduced the risk of infection by about 56 per

cent at 28-34 days after the first dose, and 62

per cent at 35-48 days.

The study is considered important as it

also looks into how the vaccines can reduce

asymptomatic cases, which play a crucial

role in the spread of the virus.

"It's helpful to look at people who don't

have symptoms because what you want to do

is reduce the total number of people who've

been infected," Laura Shallcross from the

University College London, an author of the

analysis, said.

The UK has so far reported 4,351,668

coronavirus cases and 126,857 deaths.

More than 30.4 million people have been

given the first jab of a coronavirus vaccine,

according to the latest official figures.

The government said the country is "on

course" to meet its target of offering a first

dose to the top nine priority groups, including

the over-50s, by April 15 and all adults

by the end of July.

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

13

Experimental hearing implant

succeeds in registering brainwaves

Brussels : Researchers have succeeded for the first time in

measuring brainwaves directly

via a cochlear implant,

which indicate in an objective

way how good or bad a person's

hearing is. A cochlear

implant enables people with

severe hearing loss to hear

again. An audiologist adjusts

the device based on the user's

input, but this is not always

easy, according to the

researchers, including Ben

Somers from Katholieke

Universiteit (KU) Leuven in

Belgium.

"We used an experimental implant that works exactly the same

way as a normal implant, but with easier access to the electronics,"

said Somers. "A cochlear implant contains electrodes that stimulate

the auditory nerve. This is how sound signals are transmitted to the

brain. In our research, we have succeeded in using these implanted

electrodes to record the brainwaves that arise in response to sound,"

Somers added. The study, published in the journal Scientific

Reports, indicates that the findings are important for the further

development of smart hearing aids.

According to the researchers, children who are born deaf or elderly

people with dementia have more difficulty in assessing and

communicating how well they hear the sounds, which may result in

an implant that is not optimally tuned to their situation.

A possible solution is to adjust the implant based on brain waves,

which contain information about how the person processes the

sounds that they hear, the researchers said. This kind of objective

measurement can be made with an electroencephalogram (EEG),

whereby electrodes are placed on the head. However, it would be

more efficient if the implant itself could record the brainwaves to

measure hearing quality, they added.

Caffeine intake during pregnancy

linked to smaller BABIES

Smaller birth size can place infants at higher risk of

obesity, heart disease and diabetes later in life

three ounces), were 0.44 centimeters shorter

(about .17 inches), and had head circumferences

0.28 centimeters smaller (about 0.11

inches).

Based on the women's own estimates of

the beverages they drank, women who consumed

about 50 milligrams of caffeine a day

(equivalent to a half cup of coffee) had

infants 66 grams (about 2.3 ounces) lighter

than infants born to non-caffeine consumers.

Similarly, infants born to the caffeine consumers

also had thigh circumferences 0.32

centimeters smaller (about 0.13 inches).

The researchers noted that caffeine is

believed to cause blood vessels in the uterus

and placenta to constrict, which could reduce

the blood supply to the fetus and inhibit

growth. Similarly, researchers believe caffeine

could potentially disrupt fetal stress

hormones, putting infants at risk for rapid

weight gain after birth and for later life obesity,

heart disease and diabetes.


14 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 HEALTH

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

WHO report says animals

likely source of COVID

The findings offer little new insight into how the virus began to spread

around the globe, WHO report says animals likely source of COVID

Beijing : A joint WHO-China study

on the origins of COVID-19 says that

transmission of the virus from bats to

humans through another animal is the

most likely scenario and that a lab leak

is “extremely unlikely,” according to a

draft copy obtained by The Associated

Press.

The findings offer little new insight

into how the virus began to spread

around the globe and many questions

remain unanswered, though that was as

expected. But the report did provide

more detail on the reasoning behind the

researchers’ conclusions. The team proposed

further research in every area

except the lab leak hypothesis.

The report’s release has been repeatedly

delayed, raising questions about

whether the Chinese side was trying to

skew the conclusions to prevent blame

for the pandemic falling on China. A

World Health Organisation official said

late last week that he expected it would

be ready for release “in the next few

days”.

The AP received a copy on Monday

from a Geneva-based diplomat from a

WHO-member country. It wasn’t clear

whether the report might still be

changed prior to release, though the

diplomat said it was the final version. A

second diplomat confirmed getting the

report too. Both refused to be identified

because they were not authorised to

release it ahead of publication. The

WHO did not immediately respond to

emails and phone calls seeking comment.

The researchers listed four scenarios

in order of likelihood for the emergence

of the coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2.

Topping the list was transmission from

bats through another animal, which they

said was likely to very likely. They evaluated

direct spread from bats to humans

as likely, and said that spread through

“cold-chain” food products was possible

but not likely.

Bats are known to carry coronaviruses

and, in fact, the closest relative of the

virus that causes COVID-19 has been

found in bats. However, the report says

that “the evolutionary distance between

these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is

estimated to be several decades, suggesting

a missing link.” It said highly

similar viruses have been found in pangolins,

which are another kind of mammal,

but also noted that mink and cats

are susceptible to the COVID-19 virus,

suggesting they could be carriers, too.

The report is based largely on a visit

by a WHO team of international experts

to Wuhan, the Chinese city where

COVID-19 was first detected, from

mid-January to mid-February.

Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO expert

who led the Wuhan mission, said Friday

that the report had been finalized and

was being fact-checked and translated.

“I expect that in the next few days,

that whole process will be completed

and we will be able to release it publicly,”

he said.

The draft report is inconclusive on

whether the outbreak started at a Wuhan

seafood market that had one of the earliest

clusters of cases in December

2019. The discovery of other cases

before the Huanan market outbreak suggests

it may have started elsewhere. But

the report notes there could have been

milder cases that went undetected and

that could be a link between the market

and earlier cases. “No firm conclusion

therefore about the role of the Huanan

market in the origin of the outbreak, or

how the infection was introduced into

the market, can currently be drawn,” the

report said.

The market was an early suspect

because some stalls sold a range of animals

— and some wondered if they had

brought the new virus to Wuhan. The

report noted that a range of animal products

— including everything from bamboo

rats to deer, often frozen — were

sold at the market, as were live crocodiles.

As the pandemic spread globally,

China found samples of the virus on the

packaging of frozen food coming into

the country and, in some cases, have

tracked localised outbreaks to them.

The report said that the cold chain, as

it is known, can be a driver of long-distance

virus spread but was sceptical it

could have triggered the outbreak. The

report says the risk is lower than

through human-to-human respiratory

infection, and most experts agree.

“While there is some evidence for

possible reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2

through handling of imported contaminated

frozen products in China since the

initial pandemic wave, this would be

extraordinary in 2019 where the virus

was not widely circulating,” the study

said. The report cited several reasons for

all but dismissing the possibility the

virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, a

speculative theory that was suggested

and promoted by former US President

Donald Trump among others.

It said such laboratory accidents are

rare and the labs in Wuhan working on

coronaviruses and vaccines are wellmanaged.

It also noted that there is no

record of viruses closely related to

SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before

December 2019 and that the risk of

accidentally growing the virus was

extremely low.

Why cold induces tooth pain and hypersensitivity

New York : Ever thought why

cold induces tooth pain and hypersensitivity?

Researchers have

uncovered odontoblasts, the cells

that form a tooth's dentin, have a

newly discovered function -- sensing

cold -- which can trigger pain in

teeth.

However, the researchers,

including Jochen Lennerz from

Massachusetts General Hospital,

have also found a way to block the

pathway to cold-sensitive teeth.

"We found that odontoblasts,

which support the shape of the

tooth, are also responsible for sensing

cold," said Lennerz. Teeth that

hurt from exposure to cold can

occur for many reasons. Many people

have experienced intense pain

from cold when they have a hole in

a tooth from an untreated cavity.

For the study, the team conducted

experiments on mice whose

molars were drilled under anesthesia.

Mice with dental injuries manifest

pain with their behaviour; they

drink up to 300 per cent more sugar

water than their litter mates without

dental injuries, for example.

In previous research, the team of

investigators had discovered

TRCP5, a protein encoded by the

TRCP5 gene that is expressed in

nerves in many parts of the body.

Their earlier discovery allowed the

researchers to zero in on TRCP5 as

a mediator of pain from cold.

By studying genetically altered

mice that did not have the TRCP5

gene, the researchers found that the

mice with injured teeth did not manifest

the increased drinking behaviour

and behaved like mice without

dental injuries.

The research team also identified

a pharmacological target for minimising

tooth sensitivity to cold. For

centuries, oil of cloves has been

used as a remedy for tooth pain. The

active agent in oil of cloves is

eugenol, which happens to block

TRCP5.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

HEALTH

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

15

Did COVID-19 stress, uncertainty

stall anti-smoking push?

The programs help with devising a plan and often provide free nicotine gums and patches

Washington : A year after COVID-

19 upended life for millions of

Americans, there are troubling signs

that the coronavirus may have also

slowed progress against another deadly

health threat: smoking.

Fewer smokers called quit-smoking

hotlines last year and some smoked

more, contributing to an unusual bump

in cigarette sales — all in the middle of

the stress, anxiety and uncertainty from

the pandemic.

“It's hard for folks to quit using

tobacco in the best of times, so what

happens when life is suddenly turned

upside down?” said Jen Cash, who oversees

Minnesota's anti-tobacco programs.

Researchers are already concerned

about COVID-19's impact on

cancer screenings and opioid overdoses

as many Americans were cut off from

routine care and examinations. But

services to help smokers quit—delivered

via phone and online—would seem

well-positioned to withstand the disruptions

of the pandemic.

The programs help with devising a

plan and often provide free nicotine

gums and patches.

Yet, calls to states routed through a

national hotline fell 27 per cent last year

to about 500,000 — the biggest drop in

a decade, according to the North

American Quitline Consortium.

In a recent report, the coalition of

anti-smoking counsellors cited the pandemic

and the drop in public awareness

messaging.

"It's really disturbing to see that the

quit line calls have gone down so much

because they're exactly what I hoped

would be going up,” said Dr. Nancy

Rigotti of Harvard Medical School, who

was not involved in the report.

In a separate survey of 1,000 adult

smokers, Rigotti and her colleagues

found about a third reported smoking

more during the first six months of the

pandemic.

Alli Comstock of Los Angeles had

New York : As the emergence of

new Covid-19 variants from different

parts of the world complicates the fight

against the pandemic, there appears to

be some silver lining now. This is

because an expert has found that the different

strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus

responsible for the disease, do not

appear to be highly variable.

Writing an opinion piece in the magazine

'Scientific American', evolutionary

microbiologist, Vaughn Cooper, said

that the evidence suggests that SARS-

CoV-2 variants that have emerged so far

share similar combinations of mutations.

This suggests that the fight against

Covid-19 might not be as difficult as it

was thought at the time when new variants

started emerging, triggering fears

been smoke-free for seven years when

she lost her child care job last March

because of the pandemic. Facing her

first long-term stretch of unemployment,

she started smoking again, out of

a combination of boredom and anxiety.

“It just felt like something else to do

and it made me feel calmer,” said

Comstock, 32, adding that she knows

cigarettes, which contain the stimulant

nicotine, don't help relieve anxiety.

Comstock eventually quit again after

months of feeling like “we were in a

time when it didn't matter.” “In

November, I realized it did matter and

that I was a smoker, and I didn't want to

be that,” she said.

Research has linked other traumatic

events to relapses among ex-smokers,

including after the 9/11 attacks. The

Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention says it's too early to gauge

the pandemic's impact on smoking

rates. In a statement, the CDC noted that

although cigarette sales spiked around

the first lockdowns last March, they

have since fallen back to earlier levels.

That suggests the rise was mainly smokers

stocking up on cigarettes.

The US smoking rate has held steady

at around 14 per cent in recent years

after a decades-long decline from over

40 per cent in the 1960s.

Smoking, which can cause cancer,

strokes and heart attacks, is blamed for

about 480,000 annual deaths.

Because smoking overlaps with

many other forms of addiction, the data

on quit attempts is being closely

watched by doctors who treat people

who abuse drugs and alcohol, many of

whom also suffer from depression and

anxiety. Dr. Brian Hurley of Los

Angeles County's health department

says those with addictions are less likely

to recover if they continue to smoke.

Last year's drop in hotline calls suggests

“a maelstrom of worse outcomes" said

that the vaccines developed to protect

against the disease might not work

against some variants.

Some feared that achieving herd

immunity against the virus that has disrupted

lives and caused deaths of more

than 2.7 million people worldwide

would be quite hard if more infectious

and lethal variants keep emerging.

Studying how SARS-CoV-2 is

evolving, Cooper, who is a professor at

the University of Pittsburgh School of

Medicine in the US, said that it can now

be speculated that the virus is beginning

to run out of new and major adaptations.

However, he warned that the chances

of mutations occurring are more when

there are more infections. So the fight

against Covid-19 needs to focus on

curbing new infections. "It's also critical that we make significant investments in building an early-warning system to

Hurley, a board member of the

American Society of Addiction

Medicine. Quitting, though, is notoriously

difficult with just 7 per cent succeeding,

according to CDC figures.

Many smokers are referred to quitsmoking

hotlines at their annual checkup.

Those appointments largely stopped

last spring along with most other nonessential

care.

Still, last year's data on quit-smoking

calls includes glints of positive news.

Smokers who called Minnesota's hotline

reported smoking more, but also

said they were more motivated to quit

because of COVID-19.

That mirrored national data showing

smokers are aware that smoking can

make them more vulnerable to serious

illness from a coronavirus infection.

Experts seeking to explain last year's

trends also point to a drop in anti-smoking

advertising campaigns from public

health departments. In many cases,

those promotions were replaced by messages

about masking, social distancing

and hand-washing.

The CDC recently resumed its

national “Tips from Smokers” advertising

campaign and is conducting its

annual surveys of tobacco use among

adults and teenagers, the definitive

snapshot of US smoking and vaping.

Prior to the virus outbreak, much of the

focus was on the alarming rise in electronic

cigarette use among high schoolers

and middle schoolers. Survey data

conducted before classrooms closed

showed teen vaping was already falling

compared to 2019, following new

flavour bans and raising the legal age to

buy them. With teenagers unable to

attend school or regularly socialize with

their friends, researchers speculate the

pandemic may have further slowed the

social spread of vaping.

“I have a feeling it may have had a

positive effect on teen vaping, but a

negative effect for adult smoking,” said

Rigotti.

Covid-19 strains don't appear to be highly variable : Expert

Fight against Covid-19 might not be as difficult as it was thought at the time when new variants started emerging

detect new SARS-CoV-2 variants as

well as many other emerging pathogens,

both known and yet to be discovered,"

Cooper wrote in the article published in

'Scientific American' last week.

The Union Health Ministry in India

last week said that a total of 771 variants

of concerns (VOCs) and a new

double mutant variant of Covid-19 had

been detected in a total of 10,787 positive

samples shared by the states and

union territories.

It now appears that a mutation in the

double mutant variant seems to be similar

to a mutation found in the B.1.351

(South Africa) and P.1 (Brazil) variants,

the BBC reported citing Jeremy Kamil,

a virologist at Louisiana State

University Health Sciences Center

Shreveport in the US.


16 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

This Kashmiri digs everyday in search

of his soldier son's last remains

Srinagar : That all the four kidnappers

and killers of his son have been killed by

the security forces is little consolation for

56-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Wagay, who

is still digging up mother earth just to find

the last resting place of his son, Shakir

Manzoor. Shakir was a soldier of the

Territorial Army, who belonged to the

Harmain village of Shopian district. He

had been travelling in his car to join duty

when four militants kidnapped him on

August 2, 2020.

The kidnappers showed one courtesy,

they allowed Shakir to speak to his family

one last time, before snuffing the life out of

him. Shakir told his family not to disclose

'the phone call' to the army since he was

with some of his 'friends' who would not

harm him. The last message of Shakir to

his family was obviously tutored.

In less than 24 hours, Shakir's burnt car

and blood stained clothes were found in the

nearby Kulgam district. The killers had

denied the soldier even a decent burial!

They had killed him and thrown his

body somewhere it could not be found.

However, his father believes that he is

somewhere amid the valley -- 6-feet below.

Wagay has been digging all over the

place to find his son's body for the last

eight months. He carries a shovel and a

spade everywhere. Sympathetic fellow villagers

accompany the father with shovels

and spades to help find his son's grave.

"I hope to find his body one day. My

niece saw Shakir in her dream. She told me

he had communicated to her that his body

had been buried near the place his blood

stained clothes were found.

"I have tried there as well," the father

tells his unending tragedy even after all his

tears have dried up. Police cannot declare

Shakir dead unless his body is found.

"For us, legally, he is missing. Although

we are personally convinced that he is not

alive," said a police officer.

Bodies of militants killed in encounters

with the security forces have been denied

to the families since the spread of the pandemic.

Other reasons are to prevent funeral

processions that are often seen as recruiting

exercises for the militants.

Through fiery speeches, militant commanders

have been stirring passions at

these funerals to lure the local youth.

The killers of Shakir did not return his

body to keep the wounds of his father and

family festering forever.

Kashmir has become a killing field

where the killers follow no rules.

The blood soaked, listless eyes of

Shakir's father did not move his son's

killers when they were alive. After their

death, they can tell no secrets.

Goa's heritage basilica goes in for repairs,

thanks to a 1950s Portuguese folly

Panaji : Former Portuguese

Prime Minister Antonio de

Oliveira Salazar's penchant for

aggresively pushing nationalistic

ideology, especially in the

colonies, isn't really paying off

in the long run for the state's

most important Catholic place

of worship: the Basilica of Bom

Jesus. The 17th century church,

which is a part of the Old Goa

Church complex, once the seat

of Portuguese power in South

Asia, is crumbling thanks to an

almost 'Tughlaq-like' decision

taken in nationalist bombast by

the Portuguese dictator in the

early 1950s.

The decision involved

'restoring' heritage structures

across Portugal and its colonies

and to remould them superficially

as ancient monuments

representing the Iberian

nation's past glory.

Master Portuguese restorer

Baltazar da Silva Castro, who

was assigned the mission to

'restore' the Basilica in the

1950s, directed his workers to

chip away at the plaster of the

massive heritage structure in

order to make it appear ancient.

"...a new cross was built on

the back of the basilica; the

major change in the religious

complex was the removal of the

lime plaster from the exterior

facades of the basilica, leaving

the stone (laterite) exposed to

weathering effects and, at the

same time, drastically changing

its image," says Joaquim

Rodrigues dos Santos, a

Portuguese scholar in his

research paper 'On The Trail of

Baltazar Castro, A Portuguese

Restorer in India'.

The basilica incidentally

hosts the mortal relics of 16th

century Spanish saint St.

Francis Xavier, who is also

considered the patron saint of

Goa. Seventy years later, the

recklessness of Castro's

restoration strategy, has proved

to be a bane for the Catholic

clergy serving at the Church

complex, who believe the

Basilica walls may be close to

caving in and urgently need

repairs as well as a coat of plaster

from the outside. Some of

the stones embedded in the

outer wall seem to crumble at

mere touch, says Fr. Patricio

Fernandes, the Basilica's

Rector.

"If you visit the Basilica and

take a close look at the structure

now, the stone has been

irreversibly damaged by weathering,

in some places there is a

loss of detail and ornamentation

or it has been badly disfigured,"

Fernandes said.

Castro's superficial intervention

of doing away with outer

layers of plaster on heritage

sites, may have worked in

Portugal, but in tropical Goa,

the lashing monsoons and

harsh summer weather appear

to have taken a toll on the laterite

stones, which the walls of

the Basilica are made of.

"Due to its exposed laterite

exterior and other factors like

the rapid urbanisation of Old

Goa and the unseasonal rain

that Goa is experiencing all

through the year the walls of

the Basilica remain wet. The

laterite stone gets saturated so

much so that the water even

starts dripping through the

inside walls. This was something

that never happened in

the past," the Rector claims.

Limestone plaster is the

immediate remedy for the

fatigued walls of the heritage

Church, Fernandes said. "That

is what global restoration

experts have advised us to do

for now," he said.

51 killed in Taiwan

train derailment

Taipei : At least 51 people were killed in a deadly train derailment

in Taiwan's in Hualien county on Friday, officials said,

adding 72 passengers were still trapped.

At 9.28 a.m. (local time), the Taiwan Railways Administration

(TRA) No. 408 Taroko train en route from Shulin, New Taipei,

to Taitung, suddenly derailed as it entered the Daqingshui tunnel,

reports Taiwan News.

The train comprised eight carriages and had more than 350

passengers on board.

The accident took place on the first day of a four-day break for

Taiwan's annual tomb-sweeping tradition.

According to the National Fire Agency, 51 people were killed

and at least 66 were injured and are being treated in hospital.

According to a preliminary investigation, workers at a nearby

tunnel project parked the vehicle at the top of a slope without fastening

the handbrake.

As the train passed, the vehicle rolled down the slope and hit

the eighth and last carriage, Taiwan News reported.

Prosecutors have reportedly questioned the person in charge

of the tunnel project to find out why the vehicle had not been

parked properly.

Premier Su Tseng-chang expressed his apologies to the passengers

and sent his condolences to the victims' families, dpa

news agency reported.

"I want to express my deep sympathies to the victims' families

and to the passengers who were injured," Su told a news conference

in Taipei, adding that he regretted the incident.

He said he would immediately leave Taipei for Hualien.

President Tsai Ing-wen has instructed the authorities to continue

their rescue activities and to comprehensively investigate

the cause of the accident.

The last major train crash in Taiwan was in October 2018,

when 18 people died.

'Godzilla vs Kong' highest-grossing

foreign film in India post pandemic

New Delhi : "Godzilla vs Kong", which released on March

24, has become the

highest-grossing foreign

film post the pandemic

in India, in a week.

The film has collected

a total of $25.2 million

in regional revenues

in Southeast Asia, on its

opening weekend, with

US$4.9 million

(Rs.35.97 crore) in India

alone. This makes it the

second-biggest film in

India in a week, in the

Covid era.

The film also opened

on more screens nationwide

(1770) than any

other film since the start

of the pandemic last

year, and its day one net

collections were Rs 6.4 crore.

"We are absolutely delighted with the opening numbers and

the overwhelming response to the film. This proves that movies

like 'Godzilla vs Kong are best enjoyed by audiences in the

biggest cinema screen possible!" Denzil Dias (VP and MD,

Warner Bros. Pictures, India) had said in a statement after day

one. In China, where the film opened on March 26, it did $70.3

million business from 42,000 screens, with an 82 per cent share

of the box office. In the US, "Godzilla vs Kong" opens in cinemas

and debuts on HBO Max on March 31.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

17

Is Secularism a threat to

Traditions of India?

India got independence from British

colonial rule on 15th August 1947 after

a long struggle which was inclusive and

had plural dimensions. Foundation of

Indian Constitution is Liberty, Equality,

Fraternity and Justice. The values of

secularism are deeply ingrained all

through and particularly in Articles 14,

19, 22, and 25. It gives us freedom of

religion, to practice, preach and propagate

the same.

Not all Indians were for such plural

values which respect diversity. The

communal streams immediately

attacked the constitution saying it does

not reflect the glorious contribution of

Indian past, the values given in holy

tomes like Manu Smriti. Communal

stream was critical of Constitution and

did not accept the tricolor as our national

flag. Nearly seven decades down the

line those opposing Indian Constitution

and its values are rearing their heads

from last few decades. There are top

leaders like the Prime minster Narendra

Modi who on one side claim to be

Hindu nationalists and on the other

level for electoral purpose claim that

“We are secular not because the word

was added in our Constitution.

Secularism is in our blood. We believe

in Sarva Pantha Sambhava.”

There is yet another types of leaders

like Yogi Adityanath, the Chief

Minister of UP who detest this ideology

out and out. Recently he stated that secularism

was the “biggest threat” to the

traditions of India getting recognition

on the global stage.” At an earlier occasion

he had stated that “The word "secular"

is "the biggest lie", and suggested

that the people who propagated it

should apologize to the nation, a reference

to the Congress party.”

Adityanath who has taken the oath

on Indian Constitution has no qualms in

denigrating one of its core values. He

himself is the Mahant (Chief Priest) of

Gorakhnath Math. He is saffron clad

like few others in his party.

Let us see how secularism is a threat

to traditions of India. India is inherently

plural with rich diversity in religious

traditions, languages, ethnicities, food

habits, dressing pattern, ways of worship

etc. In a way the Hindu religion, in

whose pretext he is taking secularism to

the task itself is so diverse; from the

Brahmanical traditions of hierarchy to

the Bhakti tradition talking of equality;

there is a wide range. Has this diversity

hampered the path to recognition of

India on the global stage?

The rich contributions of India are

recognized all over the World. The contributions

of philosophers like Buddha

are appreciated in large parts of the

World, more particularly South East

Asia. During freedom movement

Mahatma Gandhi rose like a colossus

and based on Indian tradition he propagated

non Violence and Satyagriha

(invocation to truth). These were the

contribution which inspired many a

'Venom' a mythological fantasy

mystery set in current times

New Delhi : Is the

Mahabharat an epic or is it history?

Is Ashwathama, one of the

seven 'Chiranjeevis' or immortals,

a figment of past imagination

or does he really continue to

wander the Earth to this day?

Could he really be seeking

revenge on Krishna, and be willing

to curse all of humanity with

a deadly plague?

After writing a bestselling

thriller, "The Emperor's Riddles"

and the biography of Sridevi,

Satyarth Nayak is back with

"Venom" (Amaryllis), a mythological

fantasy-mystery set in

current times.

What begins as an investigation

by police officer Parag Suri

and author Om Patnaik into

attacks on the Who's Who of the

country quickly turns into a

mind-boggling unveiling of an

ancient cursed being who is hungry

to execute his evil plan of

retribution. What dark secrets lie

hidden behind the masks of normalcy?

How will the paranormal

puzzle that is terrifying the city

be decoded? What is the role of a

seven-year-old autistic girl

amidst this bewildering struggle?

Why do her drawings symbolise

the country's matinee idol,

Ashwin Tomar? What dark

secrets lie hidden in the heart of

Tomar's secretary, Yeva?

And, what horror has taken

birth in the mind of an ancient

being that could forever annihilate

mankind?

The writing is simple yet

bold. The narrator suggests that

Ashwathama is a bloody-thirsty

revenge-seeker and a murderer.

The story brings in personalities

from the cricketing, media and

business world while borrowing

from numerous interesting

myths and stories from folklore.

Ram Puniyani

great leaders in the World including

Martin Luther King (Jr) and Nelson

Mandela who followed his path to take

their goals towards fruition. Indian philosophy

influenced the global thinking

in multiple ways.

Even global culture is diverse and

learns from each other, the astronomical

and mathematical contributions

from India made their place in the global

knowledge systems. Further the First

Prime minster of India, Jawaharlal

Nehru, gave the unique concept of ‘non

alignment’, which was picked up by

large sections of the World and many

nations joined this unique movement at

This highly-engrossing tale is

for those who love mythology

and thrillers.

Satyarth Nayak is an author

and screenwriter based in

Mumbai. His debut novel, "The

Emperor's Riddles", released in

2014 and became a bestselling

thriller, earning comparisons

with Dan Brown. Nayak has also

scripted Sony's epic show

"Porus", touted as India's biggest

historical TV series.

Nayak's short stories have

won the British Council award

and appeared in an anthology

curated by Sudha Murthy, titled

"Something Happened On The

Way To Heaven". Named one of

the Top 50 authors to follow on

social media, Nayak is currently

scripting a web-series for

Amazon.

New Delhi : As the

world moves on after

expressing outrage, what

happens to the rape victims

who are left to fend for

themselves in an apathetic

society and a nonchalant

judicial system?

In "After I Was Raped"

(Pan MacMillan), we meet

five individuals: a fouryear-old

girl, two Dalit

women, an eight-month-old

infant and a young professional.

Through extensive

interviews with them and

their families and communities

at large, author Urmi

Bhattacheryya reveals the

stories of these victims of

sexual violence, as they

recount how their lives and

relationships have changed

in the aftermath of assault.

Shamed, ostracized and

weighed down by guilt and

depression, they continue to

brave the most challenging

realities. This book picks up

where most news reports about

survivors leave off - it enters

bedrooms and courtrooms, and

the peak of its success.

Contrary to what Adityanath is stating;

it is precisely due to the secular

path which we followed that we could

achieve miraculous progress in first 5-6

decades of our republic in the areas of

industrialization, education, irrigation,

atomic and space research among others.

As such we seem to have stagnated

during last cople of decades as the path

of secularism has been denigrated and

mocked at. Lately the communal party

is gloating that in last elections no body

dared to utter this word!

There is also criticism that the introduction

of this word in 1976 during

emergency was uncalled for and so

should be done away with. As such the

whole constitution is seeped with the

values of secularism. While at one level

secularism says that state has no religion,

Indian model of secularism

respects all religions without being

guided by it. Secularism is unique in

another way that it respects those communities

which are in minority and provides

for affirmative, protective clauses

for them. These are currently is being

labeled as ‘appeasement of minorities’

and is being made a rallying point for

electoral mobilization of majority community.

While Adityanath is lamenting

against secular plural diverse values

and propagates for Hindu Nation, the

ideology of the ruling party, he is not

alone in that. At the moment multiple

articulations are being put forward. One

picks up the threads of their lives

today, years after their rape, and

in the midst of their continuing

wait for justice.

Anant Kumar Hegde the Union minster

bluntly stated that BJP is in power as it

wants to change the constitution. One

earlier Sarsanghchalak K. Sudarshan

also put is forward by saying that

Indian Constitution is based on Western

values and so not suitable for our country.

We should bring a Constitution

based on Indian Holy books!

Religious nationalists all over the

world abhor the secular-plural values

they limit their power to impose their

own values on society, to create a value

system of hierarchy, the overt expression

of which comes in the books like

Manusmriti. The pre modern structural

hierarchies of class, caste and gender

are their ideal, be it the Talibans,

Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt based

communal organization) or those

indulging in politics in the name of

Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

The plight of Pakistan, where communal

forces had been dominant, is

there for all of us to see. Neither it

could remain united as Islamic nation

nor could it make headways in areas of

science, education, health and industrialization.

The communal mindset needs

to be overcome to focus on the progress

of society in the areas of education,

health, employment and nutrition rather

than celebrating religious festivals at

the expense of the state or taking up

issues related to temple-mosque and put

to margins the issues of marginalized

sections of society.

A powerful, compassionate, timely

account of rape victims

At a time when only highprofile,

sensationalised cases

of sexual violence provoke a

public reaction and many stories

go unheard,

Bhattacheryya's sensitive portrayal

of the lives of these little-known

victims raises difficult

but important questions

about our convenient collective

amnesia - and their struggles

for justice and dignity.

Bhattacheryya is an independent

journalist based in

New Delhi. She worked as

Gender Editor at The Quint,

reporting - almost exclusively

- on women and children who

have been victims of sexual

violence. She currently writes

for national and international

media, including Boston

Globe, Globe and Mail,

Caravan and Women's Media

Center, on issues of sexual

assault, women's health and

culture.

In 2020, Bhattacheryya

won the UNFPA Laadli

Award for Gender Sensitivity for

her reporting on child sexual

abuse.


18 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

US-Russia relations

at lowest level: FM

Moscow : Russian Foreign

Minister Sergei Lavrov said that

Moscow-Washington ties were at

comments that Russia

will "pay a price" for its

alleged interference in

their lowest point due to

the 2020 American election.

increased confrontation, and he

hopes that "common sense and

Washington is

prudence" will eventually prevail.

In the US' policy towards

Russia, there is increased pressure

in all fields and tougher

rhetoric is nothing new, Xinhua

destroying the foundations

of Russia-US interactions

as the incumbent

administration has continued

to "unwind the

sanctions spiral under

news agency quoted Lavrov as

false pretexts", he told

saying in an interview with a local TV program

on Thursday.

Lavrov's remarks came a day after Washington will not change its stance sub-

in the UN charter.

lawmakers. The diplomat believes that

He stressed that there is few chance for Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly stantially and the "systemic containment"

serious dialogue between Russia and the Antonov told a joint meeting of the of Russia will remain a priority.

US, if Washington continues to blame Federation Council, upper house of A US intelligence report released on

Moscow for the consequences of its own Parliament, that bilateral ties were in the March 21 day directly accused Russian

reckless policy.

midst of a deep crisis, which has grown President Vladimir Putin of ordering a

According to the Ministert, Western partly due to the reluctance of the wide-ranging influence operation to interfere

in the election, intending to hurt

countries feel "a threat to their dominance" American President Joe Biden's administration

to solve problems with Moscow. Biden's campaign. In the ABC News inter-

and are therefore inventing new rules on

which they think the world order should be Antonov returned to Moscow on March view, Biden also agreed with the interviewer's

claim that Putin was "a based, ones that contradict those outlined 22 after he was recalled following Biden's

killer".

Pak oppn announces anti-govt rallies after Eid

Islamabad : The opposition Pakistan

Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has

announced fresh anti-government protest

rallies after Eid-ul-Fitr, it was reported on

Friday. A senior PML-N leader said the

announcement was made after an over

three-hour long virtual meeting was held in

Islamabad on Thursday, which was

presided over by PML-N supremo and former

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reports

The Express Tribune.

"On the instructions Sharif, it has been

decided that the PML-N will start a fresh

round of protest rallies after Eidul Fitr," the

leader said, adding that the same would be

communicated to the 11-party opposition

alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement

(PDM) in its next meeting.

He said the party hopes and expects that

all PDM constituent parties would join the

PML-N in its movement.

However, he said it has been decided

that the party, with or without the PDM

parties, would continue with its plan.

RJD urges Piyush Goyal

to save jobs of IRCTC

hospitality supervisors

New Delhi : Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) member Manoj

Kumar Jha on Friday wrote to Union Railway Minister Piyush

Goyal over the removal of IRCTC's hospitality supervisors amid

the Covid-19 pandemic and appealed to him to save jobs of

those engaged by the Indian Railways' catering arm.

"I am writing to you on behalf of hundreds of contractual hospitality

supervisors of the IRCTC, who are working with the

organisation," Jha said in a letter to Goyal.

The RJD leader said he wants to bring into the notice of the

Railway Minister that these supervisors had been hired by the

IRCTC on April 23, 2019 for the supervision of catering services,

quality inspection in trains as well as into the catering units

of Indian Railways premises.

Jha said that the contractual workers gave their best to the

railways even during the pandemic as they were actively

engaged in the management and supervision of food delivery

services in the Shramik Special trains run by railways to transport

the stranded migrant workers, students, tourists and pilgrims

across the country.

"But to our utter shock, I am informed by these employees

from various locations that they have been categorically told by

the IRCTC authorities to search for new jobs adding further that

after 20 days they would not be part of the service anymore. The

feeble argument from the IRCTC is that they were hired on a

two-year contract which is ending now," the RJD member wrote

in his letter. He also pointed out that all these hospitality supervisors

are trained hoteliers and many even have professional

hospitality degrees and also highlighted that the hotel industry is

among the worst affected during the Covid-19 crisis.

"Therefore it is unimaginable that they would be employed

by the hotel industry amid an unprecedented crisis".

Jha added: "I remember during the course of an intervention

by me in the Budget session of Parliament, you had emphatically

assured that nobody shall be terminated from the job."

OPPO now manufactures 1 smartphone in 3 seconds in India

New Delhi : Smartphone brand

OPPO on Friday said it is now manufacturing

one smartphone every three

seconds at its 110-acre facility in

Noida.

The company said that to ensure

seamless supply chain, the factory

stocks materials for over 1.2 million

phones at any given point.

"With growing popularity of OPPO

smartphones, we will be further building

up on our manufacturing capabilities

to meet the rising demand. Agility,

innovativeness and creativity will be

the key to success for OPPO India,"

said Elvis Zhou, President, OPPO

India.

With over 10,000-strong workforce,

the factory produces more than

60 lakh phones a month during peak

seasons.

The facility is divided into four sections

including assembly, SMT

(Surface Mount Technology), storage

and supply warehouse.

The super-machines at the SMT

section can hold 37,000 micro components

per hour, adding on to the production

efficiency.

"No matter how complex a PCB is,

through the advanced technology the

team can complete one Printed Circuit

Board Assembly or PCBA in 6.25 seconds,"

the company said.

The manufacturing unit has 52

rows with 37 assembly stations and 20

test stations and can dispatch hundreds

of micro-parts for 200 smartphones in

under 10 minutes. "The integration of

high-end technology and human

workforce with high level of expertise,

creative and cognitive skills is

enabling us to produce the most loved

OPPO smartphones," Zhou said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

19

Akhand Bharat or Union

of South Asian States

India s partition was one of the fication (with Bharat) only and all their

major tragedies of South Asian region. problems will get resolved, he said.

The causes for this are to be seen in the He, however, said the reunification

triangle formed by British Policy of should be done through Hindu dharma.

Divide and rule, Hindu Communalism As such RSS holds that its idea of

believing in Primacy of Hindu nation Akhand Bharat includes not only

and Muslim Communalism demanding Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also

formation of Pakistan. The falsehood of Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and

theory of religion as the basis of Tibet. It terms the combined region as a

Nation state was demonstrated by the Rashtra (Nation) based on Hindu

breakaway of East Pakistan from cultural similarities.

Pakistan leading to formation of At yet at another level Tripura s Chief

Bangladesh. Majority of Hindus and Minster Biplab Dev told a party meeting

Muslims stood rock solid against this at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan, during

theory of religion as the basis of nation his visit to Tripura, that BJP wanted to

state . Just two representative names establish the party and form governments

in neighbouring countries after

should suffice Maulana Abul Kalam

Azad and Mohandas Karamchand winning all states in India.

Gandhi.

This is in a way fall back on the ideology

of Hindu communalism that this Ram Puniyani

Hindu communalism held that this is

a Hindu nation. Since partition many whole region was a Hindu nation from

Hindu communalists have been holding times immemorial. The reference to

that the breakaways from United India, Hindu Dharma as the basis of unification

shows their real colours. They

Pakistan and Bangla Desh, in particular

should be brought back to Indian fold.

This concept is being called as Akhand

Bharat (Unbroken India) based on

Hindu Dharma . This was articulated

in the speech of RSS Sarsanghachalak,

Mohan Bhagwat, he stated there is a

need to become united again, not

through force, but by Hindu Dharma

. He has also stated, They (separated

countries) did all they could, but did not

find any remedy. And remedy is reuni-

hold that Dharma can t be translated as

religion. They state that Dharma is different

from religion. What is Dharma, it

is religiously ordained duties. It does

include words like Khstriya dharma,

Stree dharma etc. hinting to the caste

and gender roles as assigned by tradition.

It is true that Hinduism is different

from other religions but it a religion all

the same. It has deities (Brahma,

Vishnu Mahesh), it has rituals, it has

holy books, clergy and holy places. In

practice we have seen that most of the

campaigns launched by Hindu nationalists

have been around places of worship

(Ram Temple), holy symbols (Cow)

and Hindu identity related issues like

love jihad and what have you.

There are also claims that Hindutva

is a way of life. That way all religions

also have a way of life. Here the confusion

between Hindutva and Hinduism

needs to be understood. Hindutva is a

politics while Hinduism is a religion

with multiple tendencies within itself.

The concept of Akhand bharat

sounds hegemonic as its base is projected

to be Hindu dharma. We know the

effort to base on the politics around religion

that India got partitioned. Today

different countries which are aimed to

be brought in Akhand Bharat have different

religions. Will they accept Hindu

Dharma as the basis of uniting with

India? India itself in theory is a secular

state, Hindu dharma is not its base. The

present articulations of Bhagwat and

company sound more like being expansionist

rather than collaborative.

The other pattern which human society

has seen definitely needs to be emulated.

The attempt to have global bodies

trying to establish peace and sorting out

problems between different nations like

United Nations, European Union and

SAARC are the one s based on collaboration

and are most welcome. The concept

here is to respect the sovereignty of

others and deal with them on equal

basis. European Union saw a great collaboration

between European countries.

Closer home, the SAARC experiment

was also a great initiative to bring

the neighbours together in collaboration

in areas of trade, commerce, education

and health. None of these moves

kept religion as its base and so could

take some baby steps in bringing in

peace and enhancements of economic

and social progress. Unfortunately

most of these initiatives are comparatively

weak in current times. But one

thing which human society can learn

from these experiments is that when the

issues are taken up on concrete grounds

of material cooperation, countries can

come together and have more amicable

relations.

The other method is to claim that

those territories belonged to us either

due to racial similarities or because of

our religion. This path had disastrous

effects on geo political scene.

The claim that those countries which

separated are in distress is a lopsided

statement. We know that at many places

like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the

imperialist policies of control over oil

wealth wrecked havoc there. It was not

due to religion. The other country

which separated, Bangala Desh, is currently

progressing better; leaving India

behind in many development indices.

In South Asian region, the countries

named as part of Akhand Bharat can

definitely form a stronger federation on

the basis of equality and mutual respect

for each other s sovereignty. Mutual

respect for each other s traditions and

cultures has to be the basis. This can

pave the way for better economic and

political atmosphere. To say that these

countries should come back and

become part of India sounds hegemonic.

To make Hindu dharma as the basis

of this unification is domineering. What

is needed is to strengthen democratic

ethos within the country, to treat neighbours

as friends and to sort out problems

by peaceful negotiations. The

need for collaboration, cooperation in

field of commerce, trade, education and

health cannot be overemphasized. That

is the crux and core of the association

with neighbouring countries, and the

union of these countries on these lines

will definitely enhance the prosperity

and peace in the region.

Modi Government is under fire for

several misdoings. Farmers Agitation

has enlarged its base to pan India

against BJP especially in four states ie,

West Bengal, Assam, Tamilnadu and

Kerala and Pondicherry (UT). Farmers

have also announced Bharat Bandh

call on March 26. They are mobilizing

the public support in their favour in a

big way. They have given open call to

voters of all the constituencies going to

poll to ensure BJP s defeat, come what

may. But tactically they have not clearly

given their mind in favour of any

regional party. But cards are crystal

clear. Bank and LIC Employees are on

roads against privatisation of public sector

financial institutions which were

nationalised long back by Mrs India

Gandhi. Corona Vaccination efficacy is

yet not clear in public mind. There is

spurt in virus cases in several states

including Punjab. But Modi -Shah duo

is all set for assembly elections at fixed

schedule despite alarming pandemic

statistics. Their slogan, dwaayee bhi,

sakhtaayee bhi strictness along with

medicine is fairly viral on, Godi

media (Biased)TV channels.

Keeping its track for side lining constitutional

obligations as a democratically

( nay EVM) elected Government,

it has initiated an unprecedented move

to introduce in Lok Sabha(lower

House)through Minister of state G

Kishan Reddy, amendments to the

Government of National Capital

Territory of Delhi Act 1991. First

amendment in Section 21 clearly seeks

the expression Government to be read

as Lieutenant Governor in laws passed

by the Legislative Assembly. Opinion of

Now Governors will

Rule in India – BJP’s

desperate move

the L-G has to be invariably sought for

any executive orders for even routine

matters of governance. Second amendment

is proposed in Section 24,which

deals with according assent to the Bills

passed by the Legislative Assembly.

Consequently the Lieutenant Governor

will neither sign any Bill nor will pass

on to President any matter hitherto

being sent as per rules contained in the

above said Act.

This dubious move by Narendra

Modi Government raises many eyebrows.

Worst-hit will be Aam Aadmi

Party s Delhi Government headed by

Arvind Kejriwal for the time being. In

sharp criticism to the Bill, It s Deputy

CM ,Manish Sisodia has deplored this

move as Unconstitutional and

Undemocratic. Whereas Chief Minister

has declared it as a desperate act of the

Centre to find a Back-door entry to

curtail the powers of the elected government.

It is also against the judgement of

the Supreme Court Constitution Bench

given clearly in 2018. This development

has several side effects on the ongoing

R. K. SINGH

Bureau Chief (India)

+91-8283830599

elections too. BJP wants to send strong

signals to the people of its vast majority

in Lok Sabha on the one hand and

imminent dangers to the governments

lead by opposition parties on the other

hand. It seems that the doubts raised

about the political pressure on Judiciary

by the political forces are justified.

Many eminent jurists, constitutional

experts and political analysts have given

vent to their opinion on this issue. They

refer the case of Jammu and Kashmir

scenario also. Governor is the custodian

of constitutional values enshrined to

ensure the working of state government

towards welfare state. He can put forth

his opinion on various matters but he is

definitely bound to give assent to the

laws or bills passed by the elected government

in the Assembly House.

Unfortunately barring a few, majority

of the Governors act as representatives

of Home Minister. He is more concerned

and answerable to the dictater of

Central Government. It reminds the

people of the Resident Agent s role in

the Durbar of Maharajas under British

Rule before independence. Few months

back, Punjab Governor did not send the

file regarding Farming Bills duly passed

by the Legislative Assembly by majority

vote. No doubt the situation in Delhi

is a little different than other full fledged

state but undermining the role of elected

government is definitely a ploy showing

political ego of the leaders at helm of

affairs which can set wrong precedent.

Governors have played their role of

framing BJP governments even if elections

did not provide majority to the

party. Horse trading was in vogue in the

very knowledge of Governor. Few

reports are also to show that the office

of Governor is the hub of implementing

RSS agenda of One Nation, One

Religion in the states. No comments

from the worthy Prime Minister on such

issues, no press conferences, only

Mann ki baat , more involvement in

state elections speak about his hidden

agenda. Only bending and not mending

policy speaks of dictatorial democracy,

a new polity never seen before.

So all the democratic forces, political

parties, conscience keepers of the nation

should join their hands together to raise

strong voice against this unconstitutional,

biased, and politically motivated

move so that lofty principles of secularism,

freedom from poverty, reducing

economic gaps, justice for all and freedom

of speech etc are preserved in the

biggest democracy on this planet.

Winning majority seats in

Parliamentary Election does not mean

usurping power to crush the dissident

voice which is the most beautiful characteristic

of a vibrant democracy. World

too is watching all developments with

all eagerness on day to day basis.


20 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

On the Execution of Bhagat Singh,

Periyar, March 29, 1931

"The aim of life is no more to control the mind, but to develop it harmoniously: not to achieve salvation here after, but

to make the best use of life here below; and not to realise truth, beauty and good only in contemplation, but also in the

actual experience of daily life: social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of

democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity – of opportunity in the

social, political and individual life."

[The following is the editorial Periyar E.V. Ramasami wrote in his

Tamil Weekly Kudi Arasu dated 29th March 1931. Translation by

Aasaan.

The editorial highlights the point that Bhagat Singh’s outspoken progressive

views and supreme sacrifice have disabused the minds of the

people and made them realise the retrograde nature of the ideals and

methods of Mahatma Gandhi.]

Periyar’s Editorial dated 29th March, 1931:

There is no one who has not condoled the death of Mr. Bhagat Singh

by hanging. There is none who has not condemned the government for

hanging him. Besides, we now see several people known as patriots and

national heroes scolding Mr. Gandhi for the happening of this event.

While this happens in one place, let us see what the same group of

people do in another place. They congratulate Lord Irwin, the Vice-roy.

They praise Mr. Gandhi for coming to an agreement with him. They are

not only satisfied that the agreement has been reached without laying

down the condition of not to hang Bhagat Singh, but also consider the

signing of such an agreement as a great victory and celebrate the same.

In addition, Mr. Gandhi says that Lord Irwin is a Mahatma (great soul),

and has ordered the common people of the country to address the Viceroy

the same way. Lord Irwin publicises Mr. Gandhi among divinity. The

same people who have been hailing Mr. Gandhi as a great leader are now

shouting ‘down with Gandhi’ and ‘down with congress.’ They show

black flags wherever he goes, and disturb the meetings he addresses.

These things have become common.

When we witness these things we are at a loss to find out either the

opinion of the public or the principle they entertain regarding political

affairs. We also doubt if they really adhere to any principle.

Whatever be the position of the public, even when Gandhi started the

agitation of Salt Satyagraha, we explained elaborately that it would not

only be of no use to the people, but also hostile to the progress of the

country and to the liberation of the suffering class.

Even Gandhi has said clearly and openly admitting that the reason for

starting the agitation had been to spoil and undo the work done by persons

like Bhagat Singh.

To supplement (these things), the real socialists among the neighbours

have been proclaiming loudly: "Mr. Gandhi bas betrayed the poor. He

does these things to eradicate the socialist principles. Down with Gandhi,

down with Congress." But our known national heroes and patriots never

cared for these reactions. They did not realise the pros and cons of anything.

Like those who fall into the well holding the lamp, like those who

clash against the rock accepting the challenge, they were blindly and

wildly enthusiastic (about the Salt Agitation). They went to prison and

returned ‘triumphantly’. They accepted the honour connected with it. And

now after finding Bhagat Singh hanged, they also shout, ‘Down with

Gandhi’, ‘Down with Congress’. We do not understand what benefit will

ensue due to such behaviour.

As far as we are concerned, let us tell the truth: There are idiots and

fools in this land. They do not think of the pros and cons of a course of

action, but selfishly seek their own honour. Had Bhagat Singh lived long,

he would have to suffer of such people. Instead, it is good that Bhagat

Singh is dead and has found ‘peace’. I am sad that I cannot get such a

great rare chance (paeru).

The issue is whether a man has done his duty or not. The issue is not

whether the action has borne fruit. Yet we agree that we should do our

duty, taking into account the time and place. We are sure that time, place

and the general trend are not hostile to the principle upheld by Bhagat

Singh. Though it occurs to our mind that he has erred a little in choosing

the means to translate his principle into practice, we will never at any time

be emboldened to say that his principle is a flawed one. It alone will make

peace prevail in this world. If Bhagat Singh had came to the firm and sincere

conclusion that all his principles were correct, and that the methods

he had used were the just ones, then he should have definitely conducted

himself only in the way he had done. If he

had not so conducted himself, we could not

say he was an honest person. So we now say

that he is a true man. It is our strong view that

only Bhagat Singh’s principle is needed to

India. As far as we know, Bhagat Singh’s

principle represented socialism and communism.

As an evidence in this view, we find the

following lines in the letter he wrote to the

governor of the province of the Punjab:

"Till Communist Party comes to power

and people live without unequal status, our Periyar

struggle will continue: It cannot be brought to

an end by killing us: it will continue openly and secretly:"

Further, we think that Bhagat Singh had no faith in god and in divine

dispensation, but was a man of self-confidence. Holding such views is

not a crime under any law. Even if it is considered to be against any law,

no one need to be afraid of it because, we are sure, that following those

principles (that Bhagat Singh upheld) will not do any harm or cause any

loss to the public. If by chance any harm or loss takes place, it will be

unintentional. We endeavour to put the principle into practice wholeheartedly,

without entertaining personal hatred towards individuals or

towards communities or towards the people of any other land. We do our

work without causing injury to any person, but we are ready to undergo

extreme suffering for the cause we espouse. So we need not worry about

or be afraid of anything.

The same philosophy that underlies our endeavour to eradicate

untouchability also forms the basis of the efforts to remove poverty. To

abolish untouchability we have to abolish the principle of upper and

lower castes. In the same manner, to remove poverty we have to do away

with the principle of capitalists and wage-earners. So socialism and communism

are nothing but getting rid of these concepts and systems. These

are the principles Bhagat Singh stood for. It is no wonder that those who

consider them just and necessary call for the downfall of Gandhi and

Congress. What is very strange is that those who advocate these principles

hail Gandhi and Congress.

The day when Gandhi said that god alone guides him, that

Varnashrama Dharma is a superior system fit to govern the affairs of the

world, and that everything happens according to god’s will, we came to

the conclusion that there is no difference between Gandhism and

Brahmanism. We also concluded that unless the Congress Party that subscribes

to such philosophy and principle is abolished, it will not be good

to the country. But now this fact has been found out at least by some of

the people. They have gained the wisdom and courage to call for the

downfall of Gandhism. This is a great victory to our cause. If Bhagat

Singh had not died by being hanged, there would not have been any

chance for this victory to take place in such a popular manner. We even

venture to say that Gandhism would have gained more ground if Bhagat

Singh had not been hanged.

Bhagat Singh had not fallen sick, suffered and died as it normally

happens with people. He gave his life for the noble cause of showing to

India, nay to the world, the path of real equality and peace. He has

reached a great height, a feat never achieved normally by any one else.

We applaud and sing of his martyrdom from the depth of our heart. At

the same time, we request those in our government to find out and hang

four true persons like Bhagat Singh in each of the provinces.

59% EMPLOYERS in India not in

favour of remote working : Report

New Delhi : With the pandemic disrupting

the work-from-office culture, a

new survey on Thursday revealed that

59 per cent employers in India are not in

favour of remote working.

According to a survey conducted by

job site Indeed, 67 per cent large and 70

per cent mid-size Indian firms as

opposed to their global counterparts (60

per cent large and 34 per cent mid-size)

are not in favour of a post-pandemic,

remote working set-up.

Even digitally agile startups indicated

they will revert to an in-office model

post the pandemic with 90 per cent saying

they would not like to continue

remote working once a solution for the

pandemic was in place. "Remote work

has served as an equalizer, pushing

companies to reimagine and reorganize

their work models, encouraging workers

to adapt to new concepts of flexibility

and productivity," Sashi Kumar,

Managing Director, Indeed India, said

in a statement.More than 45 per cent

employees also said reverse migration is

temporary and 50 per cent employees

said they were willing to shift back to a

metro from their native place if the job

demands it.

They attributed a future return to

aspects like availability of work from

home (WFH) options (29 per cent) and

bringing the pandemic under control (24

per cent), with only 9 per cent saying

they will stay on in their native places

permanently. According to the survey,

that included 1200 employees and 600

employers, only 32 per cent said they

are willing to take any form of pay cut

even if it means finding a job in their

native place. The willingness to take a

pay cut in order to work from their

hometowns decreases with hierarchy --

88 per cent senior-level employees say

they were unwilling to take a pay cut

and 50 per cent say they would shift

back to a metro if their job demands it.

The pandemic has hit boomers harder

than millennials in terms of job

prospects and nearly twice as many

boomers (44 per cent) than millennials

(25 per cent) say it will be difficult to

find a job in their native place.

Also, 61 per cent boomers are

unwilling to take a pay cut to work from

their hometowns.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

21

In the recently released report,

Freedom House downgraded India

from free to partly free due to the

atmosphere of intolerance, treatment

of journalists, protestors and religious

minorities. The events of 19th March

at Jhansi station more than reflect this

fact. On 19th March two nuns belonging

to Sacred Heart congregation,

who were travelling from Delhi to

Odisha with two postulants, were

forced to de-board the train. Some

Bajrang Dal/ABVP types alleged that

the nuns, who were in their usual cassette,

were taking the girls for conversion.

These vigilantes asked for

Identity cards and religion of the

teenager postulants and the circulating

video shows they were aggressive

in their tone all through.

The postulants said that they are

Christians and intend to become nuns.

The police was brought in and four of

these women were taken away by

police, were forced to leave the train.

They were permitted to travel again

the next day after the intervention

from Bishops House. The frightening

incident where the women had to face

the male vigilantes and the male

police personnel has sent the shock

wave around. A statement was issued

by Kerala Catholic Bishops

Conference (KBC) stated that nuns

were taken to the custody without any

reason and humiliated. The KBC also

demanded suitable action against

those who harassed the women. As

the nuns are from Kerala, Kerala

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote

to the Home minster Amit Shah

demanding intervention from him.

Shah, who is incidentally facing elections

in Kerala, has promised to look

into the matter.

The ABVP/Bajrang Dal activists

were quoting the UP anti conversion

New Delhi : She believes that

we take more photographs now as

we can, and what we believe to be

acceptable content is changing --

therefore a need to adapt. Also in

our over-communicated world,

people are constantly trying to

imitate each other. "But it’s important

to understand that you can

never do what someone else does

and someone else cannot do what

you do as long as you are honest in

your work. Coming to this realisation

is very liberating," photographer

Rema Chaudhary tells IANS.

Getting set for her second exhibition

’Alone, Together’ at Method

Artspace in Mumbai (April 4-

April 15), which is a visual narrative

by this self-proclaimed

recluse of her experience when the

world went into a complete lockdown,

she expresses her craving

for human connection during this

time which compelled her to connect with

her ex and eventually transformed into a

series of 300 screen-shots based on their dayto-day

lives in isolation.

Adding that there has been a strong

change in her perspective from her first exhibition

’The Lightness of being’, Chaudhary,

who has worked with clients including Gucci

and Verve says, "Before that exhibition, my

work only existed in the digital realm. After

the exhibition and later, a workshop on bookmaking,

the way I looked at it changed. The

act of taking the photograph used to be the

Taking a photograph is a starting point

now, not final product: Rema Chaudhary

final product for me, but now it’s become a

starting point. I experimented with making

my own paper, different printing and binding

techniques and made tons of zines during the

lockdown using my old work as the raw

material. It’s a delight to see your work take

different forms. I think ’The Lightness of

Being’ was representative of my style but

probably didn’t reveal much about who I am

as opposed to ’Alone, Together’, where I

might be giving away too much."

While she smiles that there was no ’re-discovery’

when she and her ex shared each others’

screen shots, Chaudhary admits that initially

she did not imagine that they

(screen-shots) would ultimately

cumulate into an exhibition. She

recalls, "There was comfort of

familiarity. But to answer your

question no, not for the first few

months. Archiving images and

screen-shots is almost an everyday

event for most people now. We do

it because we think something is

cool or for other reasons we possibly

can’t even articulate. At first,

we’d just share screen-shots we

liked with each other. A few

months down the line when I

realised we were building an

archive of sorts, I asked him to

share them all with me. Collecting

them into folders and printing tiny

versions of them, I put them up on

my wall. As I was sequencing

them, the narrative revealed itself

and I decided to put them in a

book."

This former stock broker, who couldn’t

see herself hedging stocks and dealing with

numbers for the rest of her life says that photography

was always something that interested

her, so she decided to go study it in the

US. Talk to Chaudhary, who now plans to

work on more books about her popular

Instagram handle where one notices solitary

women amidst nature, and she elaborates,

"My need to connect with nature makes its

way into my photographs. They represent

what I might consider the perfect place to be

or the perfect state of mind to be."

FREEDOM of Religion and

Christian Minorities in India

law and intimidating the women. The

activists indulging in such action has

been increasing during last few years.

The sense of impunity is seeping in

deep into these groups as they have

seen that those indulging in such

crimes are not only treated with kid

gloves but often catch the eye of top

leaders and are duly rewarded. While

this incident has come to light; many

priests have been facing similar problems

ministerial team with Murli Manohar

Joshi, George Fernandez and Navin

Patnaik. The team opined that the

killings were part of the International

conspiracy to destabilize the NDA

Government. At the same time Advani

appointed Wadhava Commission to

investigate the incident. Wadhava

Commission concluded that Bajrang

Dal Activist Dara Sing, who was also

participating in other Vanavasi Kalyan

from quite sometime.

Ashram, Vishwa Hindu Parishad type

Persecution Relief report (2019)

activities, was the culprit and that

points out The frequency of attacks

on Christian s gatherings is escalating

to heights especially during when

Sunday morning Worship service and

there is no statistical increase in the

number of Christians in the area

where Pastor Stains was working.

Later we witnessed the regular

house prayer meetings. Pastors and

occurrence of anti Christian violence

congregation members are beaten, Ram Puniyani in Adivasi areas of Dangs (Gujarat),

sometimes so badly that they break

Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) and Orissa.

their legs, vandalize the churches and

the Hindu fundamentalists make

reports to the police that these

Christians are converting the people

to Christ. Hundreds of Christians are

being imprisoned on false charges of

converting Hindus to Christianity.

The Freedom House report mentions

the attacks on Muslims prominently

as the attacks on Muslims are

very glaring while those on Christians

are generally sub-radar and reported

less often. The very nature of anti-

Christian violence in India beginning

in the decades of 1990s has been a bit

different. The first major act of anti

Christian violence was the brutal

burning of Pastor Graham Stewart

Stains in 1999. Bajrang Dal s Dara

Singh (Rajendra Pal) who is currently

in jail was the one who mobilized

people on the pretext that Pastor

Stains is a threat to Hinduism as he is

converting the people on the pretext

of treating Leprosy patients.

That time it was NDA government

led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Lal

Krishna Advani as Home minister.

Initially Advani stated that it can t be

a work of Bajrang Dal worker as he

knows them too well. The incident

was so horrific that the President of

India K.R. Narayanan lamented that

the Killings belong to World s inventory

of Black deeds Shaken by this

the NDA Government sent a top level

Every year around Christmas time the

anti Christian violence used to take

place and the peak of this was the

August 2008 Kandhamal Violence in

which nearly hundred Christian lost

their lives, hundreds of Churches

were damaged or burnt and thousands

of Christians were displaced. National

People s Tribunal headed by retired

Chief Justice of Delhi High Court

Justice A.P. Shah opined that What

happened in Kandhamal was a national

shame, a complete defacement of

humanity, ...Survivors continue to be

intimidated, denied protection and

access to justice .

The anti Christian violence has

been preceded by a ceaseless propaganda

that Christian Missionaries are

getting huge foreign funding, and is

doing the conversion work through

fraud and allurement. All Christian

denominations don t operate on the

similar ground. There may be few

who proclaim conversion to be their

goal, but majority of the denominations

are not out for canvassing for

conversion or allurement. Indian

Christianity is very old. One version

telling us its beginning from AD 52,

when St. Thomas arrived on Malabar

Coast and set up churches. Since then

many a missions are working in

remote areas and also cities. Their primary

work being in the sectors of

health and education. Incidentally

many leading lights of Hindu nationalists

like Advani and Jaitley have

been products of Christian mission

schools.

The major reason for this propaganda

is to pose obstacle to the activities

of missionaries in Adivasi areas

in particular, where these activities are

giving succor to the sick on one hand

and empowering Adivasis through the

work of education on the other. From

the decades of 1980s the

VHP/Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram has

been focusing on the Adivasi belt

where Swamis belonging to these

organizations have been active,

Aseemanand in Dangs, Gujarat,

Laxmananand in Orissa, followers of

Asaram Bapu in Jhabua, MP.

In these areas Shabri and Hanuman

are also being promoted as icons of

Adivasis and religiosity is being promoted

along with anti-Christian propaganda.

It is this propaganda which

forms the root of violence and it is the

electoral power at Center from last

few years which encourages the vigilantes

to do such acts as witnessed in

Jhansi.

Salman Khan invests in shortform

video app Chingari

New Delhi :

Bollywood superstar

Salman Khan has

invested in homegrown

short-form

video app Chingari,

the company

announced on Friday.

With Salman as

global brand ambassador

and investor,

Chingari said it is

looking to augment

its position as the

market leader. The

company, however,

did not disclose the

funding amount from

Salman.

The news came as

Bengaluru-based

telecommunication firm OnMobile led a $13 million (nearly Rs 95

crore) funding round in Chingari on Thursday.

"It is our pleasure to have Salman on-board as one of our global

brand ambassador and investor. We are confident that our association

will power Chingari to scale greater heights in the near

future," said Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO, Chingari.

The app currently has more than 56 million users in India.

"I like how Chingari has shaped up in such a short span of time,

a platform for millions from rural to urban to showcase their

unique talents and be seen by another million’s in no time," said

Salman. Chingari allows its users to download and upload videos,

chat with friends, interact with new people, share content, browse

through feed, and much more.

The platform is available in more than 12 vernacular languages

along with English and Spanish.

"Chingari has always focused on empowering the content creators

and builds on its strategy to continuously bring exciting content

for all users with more relevant and robust features," said

Deepak Salvi, Co-Founder and COO, Chingari.


22 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

No Bharat Ratna for Dr. Ram

Manohar Lohia, Please!!

Twenty third March is the birth

anniversary of Dr. Ram Manohar

Lohia. In the events organized to mark

this occasion demands are often made

to the government for posthumous conferment

of India’s highest civilian honour

i.e. Bharat Ratna on Dr. Lohia. I

anticipate that this year would be no

different. In a brief commentary I

authored in May 2018 a reference was

made in it about this trend when Bihar

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar placed

this demand before President Ram Nath

Kovind in a program in which the

President delivered Lohia memorial

lecture in a private university. Only

three comrades Raj kishore (late),

Qurban Ali and Pushkaraj affirmed my

opinion expressed in that comment: it

would be an injustice to Lohia and his

legacy if the government/ruling class

would confer Bharat Ratna on Lohia. In

the present comment written on Lohia’s

111th Jayanti, I would like to submit the

following reasons in support of my

opinion.

First: Lohia was a strong advocate of

rights and civil liberties and he considered

civil liberties/rights as the foundation

for fostering and strengthening

democracy in the country and the

world. He had this belief about civil liberties/rights

from the very beginning of

his political life. At the same time, the

issue of civil liberties/rights for him

was not merely theoretical; much of his

political activism was spent in holding/joining

protest movements related

to civil and democratic rights/demands

of common people, and in going to jail.

Lohia was the more incarcerated in

independent India in comparison to

subjugated India. It was but natural that

the colonial government would make

false accusations on a freedom conscious

person like Lohia and torture

him to the maximum extent in jails, but

even the top leaders of the government

of independent India, police and courts

showed no restraint in making false,

baseless allegations/cases and displaying

indecent behaviour against Lohia.

He was arrested more than 25 times,

including the freedom movement, the

Goa Liberation Movement, the

Democratic Movement of Nepal. In

1964, during his visit to America, he

was arrested by the police for protesting

against racial discrimination at public

places. Prof. Chandan Gowda has given

a sincere analysis of the incident in his

comment ‘An Episode in Civil

Disobedience’ (Bangalore Mirror, 11

April 2016). For Lohia, the meaning of

freedom of the individual was not limited

to the personal freedom of any

leader or activist. His goal was to make

the value of individual freedom meaningful

at the level of the whole of

humanity. He considered freedom from

colonial slavery as the democratic right

of every Indian. Lohia was lodged in

Lahore Fort Jail after his arrest during

the Quit India Movement. The British

government allowed him to be released

on parole to attend the funeral of his

father. He did not accept release on

parole because as an Indian and a

human being he considered his arrest

and punishment unjustifiable. His

father’s funeral took place in his

absence. Lohia was the only child of his

parents.

Lohia wrote a pamphlet titled ‘The

Concept of Civil Liberties’ for the

Indian Civil Liberties Union (ICLU),

established by the Congress in 1936,

headed by Rabindranath Tagore and

acting president Sarojini Naidu. Dr.

Kamal Nayan Choubey has delineated

the content of this important pamphlet

in his article ‘Nagrik Swatantrta, Rajya-

Daman Aur Dr. Lohia’(‘Yuva Samvad’,

Lohia Visheshank, March 2011).

However, after independence, the

Congress itself was not committed to

the expectations and pledges mentioned

in that pamphlet. Lohia was adamant

during Gandhi’s struggle for independence

and in independent India to

Gandhi’s designated non-violent practice

(civil disobedience) and accepted it

as the greatest revolution of human civilization

ever. Only during Quit India

Movement or August Revolution he

(along with Jayaprakash Narayan)

make little improvisation to this policy.

It was not Lohia’s way to become

democratic by keeping the option of

violence in reserve. He also accepted no

alternative to transparency in a peaceful

resistance. His idea of socialist revolution

and the way of struggle in that

direction had been moulded into the

blast furnace of democracy. Therefore,

Lohia believed that if the struggle for

civil liberties/rights is an art of

strengthening the spirit and institutions

of democracy, then it is an essential

condition to have faith in the democratic

setup. Because the socio-political

activists who struggle on this way keep

connected to the life of the people,

which is the touch-stone of democracy.

Lohia was against the dictatorship

imposed on the people, and also against

the indirect dictatorship in the name of

the people.

Lohia was not opposed to the revolutionary

movement in the freedom

struggle of India, because the revolutionaries

believed the same path right

and were ready to sacrifice their lives

for it. But Lohia was not an advocate of

‘veers’ like VD Savarkar, whose character

was a set of cowardice, treachery,

and conspiracy. In the face of oppression

or temptation of power, who would

grovel like sheep hidden in the skin of a

lion. March 23 is Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom

day. That is why Lohia did not

formally celebrate his birthday. His

decision not to celebrate the birthday

signifies deep respect for the revolutionary

stream.

It is a distinct feature of Lohia that

he was equally supportive of the freedom

of the individual along with constitutional

civil liberties.

Lohia did not accept suppression

of individual

freedom – whether the

freedom of the individual

was constrained

under the feudal structure

or under any modern

ideology/system. He

believed that human

mind is always on the

path of quest. Therefore,

no ideology/party can be

perfect. He was against

stagnation/indisposition,

gang-captivity and surveillance based

on ideologies and political parties. He

has included the value of individual

freedom in his concept of “Sapta-

Kranti”.

In his contemplations Lohia made a

special emphasis on the freedom of

women in all aspects. In the concept of

“Sapta-Kranti”, he has put the goal of

gender equality at the top. In this way,

Lohia envisaged and advocated for a

modern nation-state and democratic

socialist system which provide an

opportunity for the entire potential of

men and women, in both human and

civil forms, to flourish. The concept of

– Prem Singh

“Chaukhambha Raj” (four pillar state)

propagated by him also contained the

idea of freedom of diverse

locations/identities vis-a-vis centralist

hegemony. From the time of independence

there were some British laws and

some new laws that violate civil liberties/rights.

Since the introduction of the

New Economic Policies in 1991, the

enactment and use of such laws in the

country has increased rapidly. During

the tenure of the current Modi government,

not only has there been an

unprecedented boom in the enactment/amendment

and use of laws that

violate civil liberties/rights, it seems

that the government has launched a

campaign taking repressive actions

against the organizations/peoples struggling

for or under civil liberties/rights.

It has become a common practice to

arrest people and file sedition cases

against them. The data of the National

Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show

that after 2014, sedition cases against

citizens and organizations have

increased significantly. Of greatest concern

is that the high-ranking political

leadership is directly involved in suppression

of democratic resistance.

For a person like Lohia, who had

demanded the resignation of his party’s

government in Kerala over an incident

of firing on protesters in 1954 (see my

article ‘India Towards a Police State’,

countercurrents.org, 7 August 2020) the

demand for the Bharat-Ratna from the

current government; Or the government’s

decision to confer the highest

civilian award to him would be a blatant

contempt to Lohia’s entire political

thoughts and deeds.

Second: It is an era of corporate politics.

This politics, from running a political

party to contesting elections,

thrives on the donations given by super

rich class of businessmen – Dhanna

Seths. Even the need to submit the

accounts of donations has

been legally abolished.

Everyone knows that this

wealth of donations comes

from the immense profits

that business houses have

made from the purchase of

n a t i o n a l

assets/resources/public

sector undertakings sold

by the governments at

throwaway prices, and

from the government policies

that serve their profitmaking

interests. The

charisma of corporate politics is worth

noting that even the Prime Minister of

the country feels pomp in the companionship

of cronies and in using facilities

offered by them. The government advocates

the private sector openly in

Parliament at the expense of the public

sector, and is trying hard to make the

private sector as strong as possible at

the earliest.

Lohia could not have imagined this

form the politics would take in independent

India. He did not have a bank

account. His party did not take money

from foreign governments/institutions

in the name of socialist revolution or

movements. Lohia propounded the new

idea of socialism vis-a-vis capitalism

and communism. The present political

setup has taken a plunge into corporate

capitalism. Needless to say, that the

Bharat Ratna to such a leader will be a

huge dishonour and injustice.

Actually, there is no justification for

giving Lohia the Bharat Ratna by any

government other than the present one.

If we have a look at the contemporary

scenario of the resistance demonstrations

all over India, we can find the

images of certain icons such as Gandhi,

Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar etc. placed at

the venues or carried by the protesters.

But we never find an image of Lohia

among these diverse icons. In this context

I would like to mention one

episode. I went to Thiruvananthapuram

to attend national convention of

Socialist Party (India) in November

2016. I reached Cochin after the convention

and saw hoardings of multicoloured

pictures of many famous and

not-so-famous national-international

leaders/thinkers all around. These were

put as an advertisement for an upcoming

event of Democratic Youth

Federation of India (DYFI). There was

hardly any leader or thinker left in that

colourful fair filled with expensive pictures.

I travelled to Alappuzha and

looked at all those pictures carefully.

Two prominent leaders of freedom

movement were missing – Acharya

Narendra Dev and Lohia. One can also

notice that Lohia does not find any

mention in the speeches/slogans at the

resistance venues/marches.

This trend shows that the civil society

activists/political parties/organizations

that hold the resistance demonstrations

for civil liberties/rights do not

consider Lohia’s ideas and perspective

on the subject to be relevant. It is not

that they reject Lohias ‘over revolutionary’

ways. The ruling class wants to

oust him from the network of power,

whether it is knowledge or politics, reason

being that the ruling class neither

want to wage a decisive war against

feudalism-Brahminism, nor against

capitalism.

A pertinent question can also be

asked while summing up this discussion.

Will an appropriate/deserving

government ever be possible which

could give Bharat Ratna to Lohia? That

is, a government which would accept

Lohia’s views and perspective about

civil liberties/rights at least to a large

extent. Lohia’s own Socialist Party

merged with the Janata Party in 1977

after four decades of upheavals. In

2011, the half-hearted attempt to reinstate

the Socialist Party in Hyderabad

had not been much successful. By that

time, corporate politics had not only put

its feet firmly in the public life of India,

it had also sharpened its teeth into the

entire polity. Most socialists had

become part of corporate politics by

then. In view of all this, it can be safely

said that Lohia is an unfit icon for the

Bharat Ratna in any government, not

just the existing one.

(Author teaches Hindi in Delhi

University)


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

23

Be critical and self-introspecting for

progress of Ambedkarite movement

Jai Bhim, Jai Bheem, Jay Bhim, Bhim Salam, Neela Zindabad, Ek Number, Babasaheb Zindabad, Neel

Salaam, We are because he was etc are the comments one would observe in an online social media post,

on or about Ambedkar, with lot of likes and comment when posted by a noted person with following.

Ambedkarites have become excessively

emotional about Ambedkar, a

demi-God now, and are unable to handle

criticism, critique, false news, partial

information with facts, truth and in parliamentary

language. They mostly

counter with a slogan or a war cry. One

of the root cause for this is their reading

and learning is limited, it is limited to

few books about Ambedkar and rarely

they have read what is written by

Ambedkar, rarer is that they don’t venture

to read other schools of thoughts

like Nehru. They have fallen into a trap

to be Anti-Hindu, Anti-BJP but not pro

to logics, truth, facts etc which are the

foundation of Ambedkar’s writing. This

has stagnated them up to 1956, as post-

1956 Ambedkar’s view on issues will be

unavailable, hence these followers are

unable to comprehend and reply.

Try asking them, if what would

Ambedkar’s views be on Liberation –

globalisation and privatisation, his

views on Demonetisation, his views on

formation and relationship with

Bangladesh, (he had contested from a

seat which later became part of East

Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh). The

events that happened post-Ambedkar,

we need to have Amedbakritie ideological

answers, but with limited reading

learning knowledge this falls short and

followers end up in slogans and war cry.

They also limit themselves to emotional

content. It is tough to find his followers

commenting on contemporary politics,

international relationships, economics

etc with Ambedkarite perspective, a

sound logical argument. So-called

Mainstream media has already limited

their invite to the followers to few dates

in the calendar and when an

atrocity/incident happens. Social media

gives space, which can be pushed to further

the agenda, but the followers are

falling short, to build a narrative, to

argue, to flood the internet with ideology

and are leaving a vacuum for future

generations.

Social media for many followers

seems limited to Facebook, which

rarely lets a post go beyond a circle of

people and thrives on emotions more

than intellect. Twitter and Quora are

places where followers seem to be missing.

The reach and quality of content on

these platforms is different from

Facebook. Quora answers and Twitter

are filled with saffron brigade often

with false n half information gathering

huge outreach thus influencing the discourse

of the nation. It is here the social

media war is actually fought and the

warriors are missing, the ones who are

present have only weapons like a war

cry and slogans.

Through the journey of being part of

a book book “Contesting

Marginalisations: Conversations on

Ambedkarism and Social Justice” along

with Mr V B Rawat, I had an opportunity

to meet and shoot some of the interviewees.

It was a direct learning experience,

followed by off the record conversations.

I could sense the disconnect the

followers had with reality and truth. I

have also live witnessed speeches of

good Ambedkarite orators at various

instances and find them filled with rhetoric

content often repeated, repacked

and localised to the audience. They

offered nothing new or intellect. Post the

speech ask any attendee about the content,

the answer would be, the speech

was good, excellent. They have forgotten

the content, lost in that oratory skill

and style. The interviews Rawat conducts

are not limited to ‘branded’

Ambedkarites but also people who are in

the line of thought of the philosophy and

are taking it ahead. A lot of intellectual

wealth has been unearthed through this,

and has time and again shocked me.

Bagwan Das, had an opportunity to

meet Babasaheb in person before his

conversion to Buddhism, and also asked

him “I come from Himachal Pradesh.

We have a Buddhist community there

and we know. I as a member of the

untouchable community, know, that I

cannot enter a Buddhist Vihara…”

Ambedkar took his time to reply, and it

was simple “it won’t happen now”. In

another interview, we come across

details Savita Ambedkar (Sharda

Kabir), the most neglected ‘Ambedkar’

by the followers of Ambedkar. I keep

wondering, how people who talk of

equality, not give equal space to Savita

Ambedkar? Her photos are missing, no

songs are written on her, her birth or

death anniversary is neglected, whereas

Ramabai gets the whole space to herself.

Why are these followers being partial

while talking of equality and women

empowerment, education, against discrimination?

Are these followers being

casteist while demanding the

Annihilation of caste?

Surwade gave us amazing insights on

the relationship of Savita and

Babasaheb Ambedkar, while we all

respect Ramabai for her role, we have

collectively denied Savita her right.

When asked about the controversies and

narratives built over Babasaheb’s death

and role of Savita in his death, his concluding

remarks were “…We were ultimately

deceiving Babasaheb. We are

Vivek Sakpal

trying to tell as if Dr Ambedkar was

fool. They had a love affair for over a

year. She was Babasaheb’s love…”

I discovered Basasaheb had set up a

tobacco trading company, also a stock

trading/brokering firm, he was one of

the richest lawyers in that era, his clientele

were high profile individuals, could

be understood with the property he

earned and later donated to the trust. He

had the finest collection of pens which

could cost in lakhs today. I tried to discover

the person behind the philosophy,

and it constantly hits me when followers

depict him in different shade. All I can

do is beg them to read, read Ambedkar

and beyond. A lot is also said about

Jawaharlal Nehru by these followers,

and it pains to read the comments on

one of Babasahebs good friend. Very

few have written on their bonding and

friendship, their post parliament talks in

either’s residence over tea. Both were

Barrister and hence their intellect had a

different layer of bonding. I am yet to

discover Ambedkar’s relationship with

Jinnah, if you are aware of it do enlighten

me.

While many followers of Ambedkar

comment and brand Anand Patwardhan

with different labels, it was surprising

for me to read Patwardhan elaborating

“…it is true that in the decade of the

1930’s Dr. Ambedkar spent several

months living, writing and studying at

our family farm home in Ahmednagar,

but this again is a chapter of history that

has been irretrievably lost.”

In another interview, M C Raj, I got

to know about Proportional

Representation, Ambedkar’s view post-

Independence on Separate Electorates

or Poona Pact, and the Schedule Caste

federation had passed a resolution on

21st August, 1955 at 4 p. m. at Jairaj

House, Colaba, Bombay.

Resolution No. 6: This meeting of

the Working Committee is of the opinion

that the provision for the reservation

of seats for the Scheduled Castes in

Parliament, in State Assemblies, in

Municipalities and District and Local

Boards be done away with immediately

even before the next election”. Moved

by: Shri A. G. Pawar and Seconded by:

Shri A. Ratnam. This resolution was

carried unanimously.

I had the privilege to spend a couple

of days of my childhood at Jairaj House,

a place where Babasaheb lived as a

Member of Parliament, he didn’t prefer

his residence Rajgruha in Dadar

towards the end days. The reason for

this that I received was off the record

conversation, but to summarise it I

would say, Babasaheb was a man of

principles and values and somewhere he

was hurt inside.

While a lot has to be read and discovered,

followers should not limit

themselves to slogans and few words,

often repeated. Its time they evolve to

the year they are in. During my travels

across India, I noticed that non-

Maharashtra followers of Ambedkar,

look upon the Marathi to show them the

path. It could be due to historical reasons

of Phule Shahu and Ambedkar

belonging to Maharashtra, but also

because they have not been exposed

enough to Bhima Bhoi, Periyaar, Bhagat

Singh, Birsa Munda and numerous others

who are now confined to the followers’

constructs.

The Maharashtrian followers are

unaware of this expectation, from them,

from across India and now many are

busy finding replacement logics in

Buddhism. If 786 is considered holy in

Islam, they say let’s have 358 as a holy

number in Buddhism… explained with

logic, trishalan/tripitak, five noble truths

and eightfold path. Some have tried to

counter Babasaheb’s conversion with

installing Ganpati in their

homes/cars/doors etc and going further

to observe fasting, have satyanarayan

puja etc. They are free to reconvert to

Hindu fold and enjoy the benefits of a

caste society, but then they should stop

pretending to be Buddhists during a

marriage ceremony and death.

Very soon, April will begin, and we

will have social media flooded with

Ambedkar’s quotes, images and glorification.

The movement has come to a

standstill, these acts of celebration or

observance of Babasaheb’s birthday

seem a ritual. No new idea is brought in,

no strategy is built, no resolution is

passed. With economic prosperity, the

mode and methods of celebration have

upgraded, leaving the intellectual vacuum

as it was.

A simple question ponders over my

mind. If Ambedkar was alive today,

how would he react to these

actions/comments/posts.

(vivek.sakpal@gmail.com)


24 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Democracy in India:

SOME REFLECTIONS

A simple definition of democracy

goes as, “Democracy is a form of government

in which the rulers are elected

by the people.” Baba Saheb Dr. B.R.

Ambedkar, a dynamic thinker, a speaker,

a critic, an activists participated in

the debates of the Indian Parliamentary

system with keen interests and reached

at a conclusion that the democracy is

the only form of government through

which basic social, economic and political

changes could be brought without

bloodshed. Dr. Ambedkar, who was

posthumously awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’,

was the chief architect of Indian constitution

and was the founding father of

Parliamentary democracy. At the same

time, Dr. Ambedkar was a great believer

of the ideals of Liberty, Equality &

Fraternity which he borrowed from his

Guru- the Great Gautama Buddha.

In my opinion, democracy is simply

not all about holding fair & free elections.

It is beyond these limits.

Democracy means representation of all

sections of the society. Democracy

means distribution of equal wealth &

prosperity of the nation among all sections

of the society. Democracy means

to tolerate all forms of religious freedom.

Democracy means equal opportunity

for men & women. Democracy

means equal opportunity for education

for all. Democracy means complete

respect for Art & Culture of different

religious societies.

India is the largest democracy in the

world. History always judges a ruler on

the basis of his or her accomplishments.

In a democracy like India, the citizens

have the opportunity to fix a responsibility

on the rulers because in a monarchy

or country under the dictator, the

citizens do not have the same opportunity

to register their grievances by

organizing street demonstrations. The

magnificence of democratic system is

that we have a system of checks & balances.

It is, therefore, it is essential to

examine the similarities & differences

between the so –called democratic

Indira Gandhi & Narendra Modi as a

ruler of India.

As everyone knows about the days

of infamous national emergency (1975)

which was declared by Late (Mrs.)

Indira Gandhi, Former Prime Minister

of India. She jailed the tallest political

leaders and stifled their voice. In June

1975, Article 352 was invoked on

grounds of internal disturbance by her.

Fundamental rights were suspended.

There is no doubt it was an era of brutality

& coercion. Indira Gandhi misused

government machinery to suppress

dissent of any kind against her

government. She also misused

Maintenance of Internal Security Act

(MISA). Many journalists were

detained and heavily punished without

trial. Despite all this, Indira Gandhi &

Congress party took care of the marginalized

sections of the society and several

welfare programmes such as ‘Garibi

Hatao(Removal of poverty) were

launched to lift them from deep poverty,

Art & culture flourished during the

congress regime. India was realistically

a secular country. There was less communal

dispute between Hindus &

Muslims. Banks were nationalized by

Indira Gandhi giving more employment

opportunities to the marginalized sections

of the society in government

Ministries & Departments. The

Commission for Scheduled

Castes(SCs) and Scheduled Tribes

(STs) used to submit report to the

President of India to discuss in the

Parliament. The Congress party or its

allies did not burn the constitution ever.

Gandhi clan began national movements

in removing the curse of Untouchability

& succeeded moderately in achieving

the goal.

The Narendra Modi as the current

Prime Minister of India keeps a company

with the capitalists like Donald

Trump of USA, Vladimir Putin of

Russia, Mohammed Bin Salman of

Saudi Arabia who displays opulence of

wealth. They are narcissists and

Narendra Modi is also on the same

page. All these powerful & rich leaders

are known for bullying the marginalized

sections of the society, subjugation of

women, and murder of political opponents,

investigative journalists so & so

on. In their respective countries, social

mobility declined, income inequality

widened and the people are grossly disempowered,

human capital decapitated

by their respective regimes. There is a

famous proverb that goes as birds of a

feather flock together. The Modi`s

Government has been promoting capitalism

in India since he captured political

power in 2014 and brutalized the

political opponents. Abraham Lincoln,

16th President of the United States of

America (1861-1865) famously said,

‘Government of the people, by the people,

for the people.’ But today in a democratic

country like India the Modi government

is of the capitalists, by the capitalists,

for the capitalists. The Modi is

starving the populace to fund the corporates.

The Modi government has all the

characteristics of capitalism. Hitler`s

fascist ideology is openly & shamefacedly

being practiced to suppress all

-Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD

kinds of political opposition & to

destroy the fighting capacity of the

enemy. Under the Modi rule, democracy

has turned into ‘chumocracy’.

The Modi including the RSS, a right

wing, politically & economically powerful

Hindu organization in India, have

succeeded in dismantling democracy in

India on two accounts. Firstly, it has

destroyed secularism; consequently, the

social & religious gaps between two

major competing communities i.,e

Hindus & Muslims have widened

abysmally with no hope for communal

fellowship. Secondly, the Modi government

and its allies have no respect for

the constitution of India. One example

in this regard would be suffice to quote

when Prakash Singh Badal- patriarch of

Shriomani Akali Dal(SAD) in Punjab

shamefacedly burnt the copies of the

Constitution of India. Despite this, the

BJP shook hands with the SAD and

ruled Punjab. It shows that the Modi

and its allies have no respect for the

constitution of India. The Indian judiciary

is submissive to the BJP & is further

made vulnerable & weak beyond

redemptions by the current establishment

by patronizing a Hindu class.

On economic front, Banks are either

merged or privatized. Public Sector

Units (PSUs) are being sold at a throwaway

price. On social front, since 2014,

the Commission for Scheduled Castes

(SCs) & Scheduled Tribes (STs) has not

submitted a single report to the President

of India for discussion. Reservation

meant for the upliftment of the social &

economically marginalized Dalits for

which Dr. Ambedkar fought at the risk

of his life, has been attacked several

times by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

who said that the economic background

and not the religion of the person should

be the criteria to provide reservation

(India Today 24 April, 2010).

The Modi government has been misusing

National Security Act.(NSA) to

suppress & bully the political opponents.

The passage of Prohibition of

Unlawful Religious Conversion

Ordinance and its implementation by

the majority of the BJP-ruled states

shows that democracy in India is just

for namesake. If any one dares to write

against the Modi government or the

RSS he or she is branded as anti-national.

The RSS fascists workers do not

allow Art & Culture to flourish because

they want only Hindu Gods &

Goddesses should be worshipped. They

want that that everyone in this country

should preach & propagate degenerating

Brahmanism The Modi and RSS

have no space for secularism. They

have one lethal agenda to saffronize the

country. The nonsense thing is that the

scurrilous, vindictive, hateful, angry &

invective workers of Bajrang Dal,

Vishva Hindu Parishad, Hindu Sena,

Bhartiya Gua Raksha Dal, morally

depraved, loathsome, sociopathic &

rotten, are willing to say anything

derogatory against anyone who is atheist,

liberal, & scientific in outlook. The

Narendra Modi and RSS did not launch

ever a movement neither at the State or

national level against the curse of

Untouchability.

The point I am trying to make it here

is that the basic difference between

Indira Gandhi & Narendra Modi is that

the former pruned the fundamental

rights as elaborated by Dr. Ambedkar in

the constitution of India and the latter

annihilated the social, political & economic

rights of the people and made the

majority of the working middle class

Eunuch. Under the Congress Party

there was social, economic, political &

religious stability in the country. Under

the BJP rule the country is economically,

socially, politically & religiously

unstable & vulnerable. I am of the opinion

that instability of any kind is worse

than the complaisant stability.

The elected representatives feel

proud in amassing ill-gotten fortunes

with impunity. Under Modi rule, the

Indian politics became noticeably

extreme. The BJP is making strenuous

efforts to idealize and impose one party

rule by discrediting the leaders of

regional, smaller parties. The federal

structure cannot run efficiently until the

rights of the minorities are protected.

Incendiary rhetoric is reinforcing.

Today democratic elections in India are

under seize because the BJP controls

electoral commission and the procurement

of election technology.

Democracy is ultimately based on trust

and the Modi government has singlehandedly

compromised our faith in our

system of governance. Under BJP ideology

democracy has no future at all.

Despite all this, I still subscribe to

the political philosophy of Dr. B. R.

Ambedkar who passionately believed

that democracy is the best form of government.

I end this article by leaving a

question: ‘Under what kind of democracy

are we living? Dalits, Muslims,

Christians, Sikhs & Buddhists should

ponder over it and seek answer before

further colossal damage is caused.

Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD in Sociology

from the Centre for the study of the

Social System, School of Social

Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru

University, New Delhi.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021

25

The return of caste to Bengal

Issues specifically related to SC-OBC communities are featuring again in electoral

politics in the state, with implications for both BJP and Trinamool.

It was in the early colonial period that caste had entered the modern arena of organised politics in Bengal. The new political elite, the bhadralok — who mostly

belonged to the three upper castes of Brahmin, Kayastha and Baidya — demanded democratic reforms, but fiercely guarded their own privileged position by denying the

middle and lower ranking castes their fair share of power. The latter from the early 20th century began to organise themselves into exclusive caste associations. Among

them were several Dalit castes, such as the Namasudras in eastern Bengal and the Rajbansis in the north. These movements worked for their self-improvement and stayed

away from Congress politics. In 1937 a Dalit-Muslim alliance in the legislative assembly effectively blocked the Congress from assuming power.

Written by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

But the situation changed with the

onset of Partition politics which divided

the autonomous Scheduled Caste

movement. While a section of the

Dalits under the leadership of

Namasudra leader Jogendra Nath

Mandal joined Dr Ambedkar’s All

India Scheduled Caste Federation and

opposed Partition, another large segment

under the leadership of P R

Thakur, also a Namasudra, supported

the Hindu Mahasabha-Congress instigated

campaign to divide Bengal and

create West Bengal as a Hindu majority

state within India.

Partition did not help the Bengali

Scheduled Castes. While the Rajbansi

territory was divided down the middle,

the entire Namasudra habitat went to

East Pakistan. But they did not

migrate immediately, as they lacked

financial and social capital to do so.

The situation changed after the riots of

1950, which triggered a mass exodus

of Dalit peasants from East to West

Bengal. Unfortunately, on arrival in

India these Dalit refugees did not get a

fair deal from the Indian state. They

were first put in refugee camps and

then dispersed to Andaman Island and

Dandakaranya for resettlement. Those

who did not go to camps settled in the

border districts of North 24-Parganas

and Nadia. In post-Partition West

Bengal, the main attention of Dalit

leaders like Mandal and Thakur therefore

focused more on the rehabilitation

issue; refugee agitations displaced

caste movements from West Bengal’s

public space.

But caste did not disappear, as Dalit

empowerment remained a far cry. P R

Thakur became disillusioned with the

Congress and decided to reinvigorate

the Matua movement. It was an anti-

Brahmanical heterodox religious sect

for the Dalits, started by his great

grandfather and grandfather —

Harichand and Guruchand Thakur. By

the 1990s the Namasudras regrouped

themselves under its banner and were

in a better position to negotiate with

the mainstream political parties.

In the 2011 assembly election, the

Matua support went to Trinamool

Congress (TMC), as Mamata

Banerjee, unlike her communist

adversaries, had no qualms in becoming

a member of the Matua

Mahasangha and touching the feet of

Venue in Spain can now host

ODI & T20I CRICKET

Almeria : The Desert

Springs Cricket Ground, part of

a luxury resort located in the

Andalusia region of Spain, has

been awarded venue accreditation

from the International

Cricket Council (ICC) to host

official One Day International

(ODI) and T20 International

(T20I) matches. The venue

opened in 2018 with an eighteen-wicket

square and has a

marquee pavilion apart from

the usual requirements at cricket

ground like sightscreens,

scoreboard and associated

facilities, according to a report

in Cricket World. It is open all

Boro ma or Binapani Debi, the widow

of P R Thakur and the then head of the

sect, in an open public meeting. But

although she promised them many

things, being primarily a state power,

she could not offer any real help to

address their major grievance against

the Citizenship Amendment Act of

2003, passed by the previous NDA

government, announcing March 1971

as the cut-off date of arrival for granting

citizenship to the refugees.

Historically, Dalit support for

mainstream political parties in Bengal

had always been strategic, rather than

unconditional. Since 2009, the Matuas

have been articulating their grievances

against the citizenship act, as Dalit

refugees faced continuous harassment,

some of them even facing prosecution.

While the TMC-led state government

could not offer them any reprieve in

year round. "In recent years,

Cricket España and Desert

Springs Resort have worked

closely together to develop and

grow the game domestically in

Spain, and on the international

stage. Everything a cricket

team requires is provided for at

Desert Springs world-class

facilities," said John Howden,

the chief executive officer and

general secretary of Cricket

Espana, the governing body of

cricket in Spain. There are no

ICC accredited venues in

Europe other than those in

England, Ireland which are the

Test nations as well as in

Scotland and Holland, who

have ODI and T20I status. This

is likely to boost cricket in

Spain as well as in neighbouring

nations like Portugal.

such matters, BJP offered them CAA

2019 as a final solution for their citizenship-related

woes. Hence, from the

2019 parliamentary election, Matua

support began to shift to the BJP. In

the current election, also, the citizenship

issue is expected to influence outcomes

in about 30 seats. Due to memories

of post-Partition violence, Dalit-

Muslim relations are already at a low

point in these border districts.

But there is another issue. The

Matua Mahasangha is actually an

oppositional religious movement that

is against Brahmin domination and

Vedic Hinduism. So, one would suspect

that they would find it difficult to

support Hindutva ideology. But not all

of them position themselves firmly

within a Matua-Hindu binary in everyday

life. And Modi’s symbolic gesture

to visit Orakandi in Bangladesh, the

birthplace of Guruchand Thakur, may

appeal to the emotions of Matua

pracharaks and gosains with grassroots

level networks, tilting the balance

for BJP.

But my colleagues on the field also

tell me that the Matuas are no longer a

united house. The Thakur family

which leads this movement is divided.

There are now many Ambedkarites in

the community. Many of them know

that the proposed CAA-NRC regime

is unlikely to ease their problems. A

radical Dalit literary movement has

emerged in recent years and it certainly

has a following among the educated

Dalit refugees. But their votes will

New Delhi : Former world

champion Mirabai Chanu will

lead the Indian challenge in

women's 49kg category at the

upcoming Asian Weightlifting

Championships to be held at

Tashkent in Uzbekistan from

April 16 to 25.

The competition, an

Olympic qualifier, is expected

to attract top weightlifters from

across the Asian continent.

While 26-year-old Mirabai

is the star attraction in the

women's category, the 18-yearold

Jeremy Lalrinnuga is the

best bet in men's section. He

will compete in the 67kg.

The competition was postponed

in 2020 due to the global

pandemic and was rescheduled

for 2021.

It's mandatory for all competitors

to have RT PCR Covid-

19 negative reports issued no

later than 72 hours before

arrival. According to Asian

possibly be split between TMC and

the Left-Congress alliance.

The other issue is the extension of

the OBC list, ostensibly to rope in the

Mahishyas and a few other Hindu

castes. A

section of the Chasi

Kaibarttas chose to call themselves

Mahishyas and got that nomenclature

recognised in the 1911 census. It was a

heterogeneous group, consisting of

landed magnates and small farmers in

Medinipur as well as industrial entrepreneurs

and working classes in

Howrah. A politically powerful

upwardly mobile elite were opposed

to being labelled as “depressed classes”

because of the social stigma

attached to it.

Even today the group is divided on

the OBC issue, although it is likely

that the lower middle classes among

them see the advantages of reservation.

Since both TMC and BJP have

offered to include them in the OBC

list, their entry is almost guaranteed,

and therefore it is unlikely to affect

their voting behaviour. The Mahishyas

or any other OBC in West Bengal have

never voted as a united vote bank, and

today the Mahishyas are an even more

diverse group.

It is however interesting to notice

that issues specifically related to SC-

OBC communities are featuring again

in electoral politics. Caste, politicians

realise, has not disappeared from

Bengal. How is it going to impact

election results, only time will tell.

Courtesy: TIE

Chanu to lead Indian challenge

at ASIAN WEIGHTLIFTING

Weightlifting Federation

(AWF), the report should be

furnished on arrival at the

Tashkent airport.


26 01-04-2021 to 15-04-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

SWR ferries 64 truck chasis

in single rake to Haryana

Bengaluru : The South Western Railway (SWR) ferried 64

truck chasis of Ashok Leyland in a single rake to Ballabgarh in

Haryana from Hosur in Tamil Nadu, said an official on Friday.

"We used a special type of rake for loading automobiles to

transport the 64 truck chasis," said the zonal official here.

The shipment was handled by IVC Logistics Ltd in partnership

with Leyland and the Bengaluru division of the zonal railway.

"We are in the process of transporting automobiles through

trains in addition to raw materials and essential commodities

across the country," said the official.

The division shipped 175 tractors from Doddaballapur station

near Bengaluru to Phuleria in Rajasthan a year ago.

"We have operated 182 rakes in fiscal 2020-21, carrying tractors

and tillers from Doddaballapur, passenger cars from

Penukonda in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state, 2-wheelers

from Malur in Kolar district and light commercial vehicles from

Hosur across the border," recalled the official.

The zonal railway plans to carry more automobiles on rakes,

giving an alternative transport mode to their makers, who have

been using road-bound cargo for ferrying their vehicles across the

country. "Recent policies such as of two points unloading of NMG

(newly modified goods) rakes and exemption of terminal charges

have enabled us to transport all types of vehicles," added the official.

Guwahati : In a unique initiative,

as many as 32,000 saplings were planted

within a record 32 minutes at a

reserved forest in western Assam on

Friday as part of the theme 'Grow with

Democracy'.

Election Commission officials said

that Bongaigaon district has created a

national record

by planting

32,000 saplings

of various treee

in the Kakoijana

Reserved Forest

under the special

initiative of

District Election

Officer M.S.

Lakshmi Priya

within a record

time of 32 minutes.

"The adjudicator from India

Book of Records, Jitendra Jain, who

was present during the event, certified

the 'all India record of maximum

saplings planted at a single site for

voter awareness'," a senior EC official

said.

He said that the initiative was

undertaken as a part of the Systematic

Voters Education and Electoral

Participation (SVEEP) programme for

awareness generation among the voters

for maximum participation in the

ongoing Assembly elections in the

state.

With the spirit and the theme 'Grow

with Democracy', more than 1,500 voters

participated in the plantation drive

Myanmar's military

shuts down broadband

Internet service

32K saplings planted in 32

mins in Assam to promote

'Grow with Democracy'

to create awareness for greater electoral

participation. The official said :

"This record breaking plantation drive

was undertaken synchronising with the

serial number of Bongaigaon

Assembly constituency -- 32-

Bongaigaon."

State SVEEP icons, actor Kopil

Bora, singer

Anindita Paul and

para-cyclist

Rakesh Banik,

along with

Deputy Chief

Electoral Officer

Dimple Baruah

also attended the

event and motivated

everyone to

vote with the

same enthusiasm

in the upcoming third and final phase

of polling scheduled on April 6.

The indigenous species of saplings

planted include fruit bearing trees like

Amlakhi, Bohera, Jam, Gamari, Koroi,

Silikha, Bhatghila, Khasia Badam,

Poma, Modhuriam, Leteku, Kothal,

Arjun, Urium, Ajar, Bokul, Debdaru,

Ashok, Moz, Amora, Koros, Kanchan,

Jalpai, Teteli, Ponial and Sotiona,

which are also a source of food for the

Golden Langur, the official election

mascot of Bongaigaon district. The

Kakoijana Reserved Forest is also a

natural habitat for the Golden Langur,

an endangered primate species found

in some parts of western Assam and

the foothills of Bhutan.

Rajniesh Duggal to play a

Dalit in ‘Bagawat’ who fights

for equality and freedom

Rajniesh Duggal will be seen playing a Dalit

fighting for equality, freedom and basic rights in

the upcoming movie ‘Bagawat’

Rajniesh Duggal will be seen playing a Dalit

fighting for equality, freedom and basic rights in

the upcoming movie Bagawat. The film is based on

the teachings of Dr BR Ambedkar who fought for

the rights of every person in the country irrespective

of caste, colour or religion and laid the foundation

of the Constitution of India.

The film is a sequel to ‘Shudra’ which was

released in 2012 and was critically acclaimed. The

film is written and directed by Sanjiv Jaiswal and

is produced by Rudraksh productions which has

produced films such as Fareb, Anwar, Shudra and

Pranaam. ‘Bagawat’ has been shot extensively in

the kukrali forests and the outskirts of Lucknow.

Elaborating upon his role, Rajniesh said, “It’s an

extremely sensitive topic. The discrimination is

widespread in our country even though we choose

to turn a blind eye to it most of the times. The

Dalits have been suppressed for generations and

centuries. My character is a Dalit man who is fighting

for the basic rights of his community. I can’t

tell too much about the character. It’s an important

film. We have had such films in recent times which

highlight the plight of the community and this has

to change.” It appears to be a hard hitting film and

hopefully something which will bring a change,

however small it may be in the mental set up of our

society.

Courtesy : NH

Nay Pyi Taw : Myanmar's military

regime has shut down broadband Internet

service as protests over the coup continue in

the country, according to a report from The

Washington Post.

NetBlocks, an advocacy group that tracks

internet disruptions and shutdowns, has also

confirmed the restrictions, The Verge reported.

"Confirmed: Internet has been cut in

#Myanmar from 1 am Thursday local time,

the 46th consecutive night of militaryimposed

shutdowns," NetBlocks said in a

tweet. The move comes two months after the

military seized control of the South Asian

nation following escalated tensions between

the government and the army that erupted

after civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's

National League for

Democracy party won a

clear majority in the

November 2020 elections.

"Fixed wireless will not be

turned on in morning.

Confirmed. No

Ananda/MMNet/

Ooreddoo/etc. With

mobile data already off,

only fixed-line will

remain. Order is temporary

but open-ended.

Everyone should be making

whatever plans are

possible," Free Expression

Myanmar, a campaign by

a group of human rights defenders said in a

tweet on Thursday.

Suu Kyi was arrested following the coup

and has since then been imprisoned.

The military has violently cracked down

on the ensuing protests.

According to the Assistance Association

for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit,

at least 543 people have been killed by military

forces since the coup.

The victims include more than 40 children,

according to the NGO Save the

Children.

Peaceful protests continue in cities

throughout the country including in the

regions of Mandalay, Magway, Bago and

Sagaing and Kayah state.

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