The Indian Express | 5 months ago | 03-01-2023 | 05:40 am
A DAY after a 21-year-old student of Aliah University died after he was allegedly run over by a car in front of the campus at New Town here on Sunday, several students organised a protest rally from the campus to Biswa Bangla gate on Monday, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.One person was detained and the car involved in the alleged incident had been seized, police said. They identified the victim as Sakil Ahmed. The man, who was detained on Monday was driving the car. It was later taken to a service centre from where it was traced, police claimed.“The car belongs to a company linked to Sanmarg, a Hindi daily newspaper,” said DCP (New Town) Praween Prakash. TMC MLA and former Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Gupta is the managing director and chief group editor of Sanmarg.No arrests have been made yet. Local residents alleged that the police were trying to shield “influential” people in the case.Sakil, an undergraduate student, was about to cross a service road after coming out of the hostel premises when he was knocked down by the vehicle, a police officer said.Sakil lay on the road for around 10 minutes after the accident around 5 pm and was taken to a hospital in a police vehicle, where doctors declared him dead on arrival, the officer added. Infuriated over the accident, around 30 students of the university assembled at the spot and blocked one flank of the service road connecting New Town and Chinar Park, demanding immediate installation of traffic signals and deployment of traffic constables in the area.The incident has also triggered a political blame game. While the opposition has raised questions over “delayed action” by the police, the ruling TMC said action would be taken against anyone found to be involved.One of the students who took part in the protest march said on Monday, “The police said they would arrest the culprit within 24 hours. We organised a protest to put pressure on the police. They are saying someone has been detained. If the actual person behind the incident isn’t arrested, we will launch a bigger protest within 24 hours.”In a statement issued on Monday, Sanmarg authorities said, “According to police reports, a car involved in an accident has some connection to us. While we are cooperating with the police, we would like to furnish a few facts. We regularly hire drivers temporarily when our regular drivers are absent. These drivers are available locally. While we ascertain details, a car belonging to an associate did suffer extensive damage and was driven by one such driver. We are trying to locate the driver or his details and shall hand over the same to police the moment they come into our possession. We are pained and shocked at the loss ofthe young life and pray for his family.”“When something happens unintentionally in Asansol, the police summon BJP leaders, send them notices and arrest them. But when TMC leaders are involved, no probe is conducted. The car belongs to Sanmarg, which means MLA Vivek Gupta… That means TMC. The police will soon issue a statement distorting facts,” claimed Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari.“It is an extremely unfortunate incident. Police will probe the case fairly and will ensure that the culprits are punished. But let me remind the opposition of an incident where a Union Minister’s son was linked to the killing of farmers during a protest in Uttar Pradesh,” said TMC MP Santanu Sen.Senior CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty expressed his support to the students’ protest.“The incident is very unfortunate. Students have reasons to protest. Will the TMC now take responsibility for this incident or is a student’s life not that important for them,” he said.State Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim appealed to people to “have faith in the police.”“The police are investigating and will arrest those responsible. I appeal to the students…Have patience. Let the police take action as per the law. Let the police work and have faith,” he said.— with PTI inputs
With just the clothes on their backs, M Joy Singh and his family of five fled their home in the hill district of Kangpokpi and arrived at a relief camp in Imphal West’s Lamboi Khongnakhong on May 7. They have been there ever since and see little hope of returning anytime soon, even as the violence that started on May 3 continues across the state.They are among the thousands of families currently in relief camps across the state, many of whom have been living as refugees within their own state for close to a month now.As of June 2, there were 37,450 people living in relief camps across 13 districts. And with the continuing incidents of shooting and arson, particularly in the areas at the border of valley and hill districts, this number is rising by the day.The relief camp in which M Joy Singh and his family are being housed is located in a government school. Set up by local residents from a group called Indigenous Development Mission, it is much smaller than many other camps — housing 67 people from 22 families, most from Kangpokpi district and a few from Churachandpur district. Because the school campus is small, organisers say they are already running over capacity and have not taken in any new people since May 24.“The provisions for the camp are mostly being donated by different NGOs and clubs. They have been asking us about our needs and contributing. We have also been receiving some basic provisions from the government’s side,” said S Milan Singh, one of the organisers. Since May 12, they have received 18 bags of rice, three bags of dal, a few bags of salt, potatoes and onions, three tins of cooking oil and 22,000 litres of water from the district administration.In Churachandpur, Kennedy, part of the Kuki Khanglai Lompi group which runs 50 relief camps in the district, said meeting basic needs is a daily challenge amid the swelling numbers and soaring heat. On Saturday evening itself, more than 100 people arrived at the camps from Moljol village. Currently, he said, there are more than 6,500 people living in these camps, set up in schools, churches and community halls. Another 2,000 people are living in relatives’ homes but depend upon the group for food rations.“Different stakeholders are providing us with supplies. There are other civil society organisations, the church, private organizations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the district administration… Right now, providing medicines to the people is a big challenge for us, especially since a lot of people are getting sick because of the heat,” he said. More than anything, however, it is the future that worries him.“We can’t just keep feeding them every day. Ultimately, people will need their own livelihood again,” he said.Back in Imphal, M Joy Singh — who was a teacher in a private school — said that for him, rehabilitation would ideally mean returning to Kangpokpi with protection so that he can restart his life there. “I have lived all my life there. My parents and grandparents have been cremated there. I don’t want to lose the place where I was brought up, but I fear it may take more than one or two years to return,” he said.At another relief camp in Imphal, M Baby, whose home was in Churachandpur town and who has been in the camp since May 10, said that her family would prefer a fresh start in the valley.“We came with nothing but our clothes. But there is nothing to go back to, everything is destroyed,” she said.According to the Deputy Collector of one of the districts concerned, there are primarily two sets of people in relief camps with differing long-term needs. People who have moved to the relief camps from border areas of the same districts, and those who have come from other districts dominated by people from another community.“Those from fringe villages will probably eventually go back. It is more challenging for the other displaced group. Until the question of where they will be resettlement is tackled, we want to at least find a better place for them to live where they can have some privacy and live as family units instead of all together, which is something we are working towards,” said the official.Among the inmates of the Lamboi relief camp are 14 children. While schools across the state have been shut since the start of the violence and will continue to remain closed till at least June 15, a small respite for the children is that some volunteer teachers have been visiting the camp for the past two weeks to conduct some informal classes for a few hours for them.
Airbus is closing towards a potentially record deal to sell 500 narrow-body A320-family jets to India’s largest carrier IndiGo, industry sources said on Sunday.The European planemaker has emerged as front-runner for an order eclipsing Air India’s historic provisional purchase of 470 jets in February, the sources said on the sidelines of an airline industry meeting in Istanbul.Such a deal would be worth some $50 billion at the most recently published Airbus list prices, but would typically be worth less than half this after widespread airline industry discounts for bulk deals, according to aircraft analysts.Airbus and Boeing are also still competing in separate talks to sell 25 A330neo or Boeing 787 wide-body jets to the same airline, the industry sources said.IndiGo Chief Executive Pieter Elbers, attending the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Istanbul, declined to comment on commercial matters.Airbus and Boeing also declined to comment.Reuters first reported in March that IndiGo, which has a 56% share of the domestic Indian market, was in talks with both Airbus and Boeing for the order, which if confirmed would be the largest by a single airline ranked by the number of units.IndiGo is already one of Airbus’s largest customers and has so far ordered a total of 830 Airbus A320-family jets of which nearly 500 are still to be delivered.Airbus and Boeing have been racking up billions of dollars of new orders stretching beyond 2030 as airlines lock in supplies ahead of looming shortages.Turkish Airlines had taken the spotlight before the IATA meeting with a surprise announcement that it could order 600 jets, but delegates said there were few signs of an immediate deal.TRAVEL REBOUNDIndian carriers now have the second-largest order book, with over 6% share of the industry backlog, behind only the United States, according to a June 1 report by Barclays.But some analysts have expressed concern that airlines could be over-ordering jets in pursuit of the same passengers.Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr told reporters on Sunday there was globally more supply than demand, however.The drive by IndiGo comes as the world’s third-largest aviation market is seeing a strong rebound in travel post-COVID, with passenger numbers surging despite high fares.IndiGo aims to double its capacity by the end of the decade and expand its network, especially in international markets.The airline has a codeshare partnership with seven carriers including Turkish Airlines, American Airlines and KLM.The alliance with Turkish Airlines has seen IndiGo make a major push into Europe, a favourite holiday destination among Indians, with the budget carrier now offering flights to 33 European airports.In a departure from its single-aisle strategy, IndiGo earlier this year began international operations to Istanbul with a Boeing 777, its first wide-body aircraft, taken from codeshare partner Turkish Airlines, which provides the pilots.Taking on the two widebodies is a stop-gap arrangement for IndiGo which needs the capacity until it takes delivery of the longer-range Airbus A321XLR planes in 2025-ish timeframe, Elbers told Reuters in an interview in March.
Standing in front of her mud house in Khemasuli village in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district, 26-year-old Madhuri Mahato points to a scrawl on its outer wall alongside a picture of a girl with a bow and arrow, which read: “Party r Prachar Likhte Dibak Nai (We will not allow graffiti by any party).” A similar line is written across the mud wall of her neighbour’s home: “Hamder Kath Hamder Thak, Voter Prachar Bandho Thak (Let our wall be ours, let the campaign for votes stop).”In several villages in Paschim Medinipur and neighbouring Jhargram district, such messages have recently come up on the houses of Kudmis (Mahatos), forbidding political parties from using their walls for their campaigns. Not only this, several Kudmi leaders and workers of both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Opposition parties such as the BJP, CPI(M) and Congress, including panchayat members, have started quitting their parties or posts to join the community’s agitation demanding the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status and inclusion of their Kudmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.This strategy of the Kudmi community is designed to put pressure on the political parties ahead of the panchayat elections, which are expected to be held in the coming months, and the Lok Sabha polls slated for next year.The Kudmi community, which is currently listed in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, plays a significant role in every election in the tribal-dominated Junglemahal districts of Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia. In the 2018 panchayat elections, the BJP had captured power in 100 panchayats and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections won five out of the six parliamentary seats in the region dominated by Kudmis and tribals. But the BJP suffered a setback in the 2021 Assembly polls with the party winning only 16 of the 40 seats with the TMC establishing its upper hand in the region.The current escalation in Kudmis’ movement comes after months of their protests failed to yield any concession from either the BJP-led Centre or the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.In September last year, Kudmis staged a railway blockade at the Kustaur and Khemasuli stations in Purulia and Paschim Medinipur districts over their demand but lifted it after five days.They were back to squatting on the rail tracks at Kustaur and Khemsauli in April this year, even as they also partially blocked the national highway connecting Kolkata and Mumbai. Their protest lasted five days, ending again without any concrete government assurance about their demand.This time, however, the TMC government took note of the eruption of the Kudmi stir and on May 17 three representatives of the community met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah. At the meeting, the CM told the Kudmi leaders that her government would draft a proposal to grant ST status to the community and send it to the Centre. According to a senior official present at the meeting, it was also decided that a Kudmi Development Board would be set up for the welfare of the community.Nine days later, the apparent progress made at the meeting evaporated as the convoy of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, the CM’s nephew, was pelted with stones after it left Jhargram town following a roadshow. State minister Birbaha Hansda was injured in the attack. Since then, 10 Kudmi protesters have been arrested, including their leader Rajesh Mahato.The Kudmi community has alleged that it is a conspiracy to derail their movement and have demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident. But they are refusing to back down. “Most of the houses in my village have such writings on their walls. We will not allow any political activity in our village. Our walls cannot be used for political graffiti or campaigns, whichever party it may be,” says Madhuri.Not far from Madhuri’s home lives Sandip Mahato, the 33-year-old resident of Kantasol village, who was once a TMC booth president. “I was with TMC for many years, even during the Left rule. But I left the party on April 11. My samaj comes first. I am part of the agitation now. Neither the TMC nor any other party did anything for my samaj. This is our fight for Jati Satta (community identity),” says Sandip.Standing beside him at a sweet shop is Badal Chandra Mahato, 35, who was earlier the panchayat pradhan and the BJP’s area chairman. “I too left the BJP on April 11,” he says. Like them, Khodumeer village resident Pabitra Kumar Mahato, 47, who was earlier with the CPI(M), and former Congress worker Santanu Mahato, 47, have also given up their party affiliations to join the community’s agitation.“Samaj andolan (community movement) is going on. How can I turn my back on it? ST reservation is our right,” says Pabitra. Santanu says he was part of the rail blockade in Khemsauli. “When my children grow up they will ask me what I did for them. What will I say? Therefore, I am part of the movement,” he says.Kudmis’ mega Jhargram rallyWith no intention of backing down, Kudmis are now preparing to hold a mega rally in Jhargram on June 6 and are mobilising their community members in villages for their campaign. “It will not be easy for the state government, TMC or any other party to ignore us. On June 6, our leaders will show us the roadmap for attaining ST status,” says Adivasi Kudmi Samaj’s Paschim Medinipur district president Kamalesh Mahato.As he speaks with The Indian Express, standing by the road near Saotaldihi village in Jhargram’s Lodhasuli area, hundreds of Kudmis carrying the community’s traditional yellow flags and wearing yellow scarves are engaged in their outreach to villagers, with more than 100 motorbikes and two cars with loudspeakers being deployed for their campaign.Paschim Banga Kudmi Samaj leader Sandip Mahato, 47, says the community has adopted a “Ghagor Ghera (encircle from all sides)” strategy of confronting senior political leaders visiting the Junglemahal belts.Kudmis claim that during the British colonial rule they were considered a primitive tribe like Mundas, Oraons, and Santhals. But when the ST list was prepared after 1950, they lost out on the ST status and put in the OBC category.But the Kudmi agitation and the attack on Abhishek’s convoy have not gone down well with tribal groups and seem to have resulted in social fissures in the region. The United Adivasi Forum, a platform of 18 tribal organisations, has called a bandh on June 8. The tribal group Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal’s leader Dilip Mandi says, “We are against ST status for Kudmis since they have been an empowered community from before Independence. They have land, education and money. They have always been associated with upper-caste people. Meanwhile, Santhali and Adivasi communities are extremely backward. If Kudmis get ST status, they will grab all the reservation benefits and the Adivasi communities will be further deprived.”Kamalesh Mahato denies Kudmis’ involvement in the attack on Abhishek’s convoy, pointing out that they have called for a CBI probe into the incident. Asked about the tribals’ opposition to his community’s demand, he says, “We have lived side by side for hundreds of years. It is also a part of a conspiracy to provoke them against us. Some of their leaders who live in cities are provoking the tribals and trying to create division and tension between us.”
Most Indians have a fondness for starting their day with a steaming cup of tea accompanied by a couple of biscuits. It has been ingrained in our minds from childhood that consuming tea on an empty stomach can lead to acidity, so it is essential to have a few biscuits with our tea. However, this habit doesn’t end there. Throughout the day, every time we sip on a cup of tea or coffee, biscuits are the go-to accompaniment that we rarely miss. Have you ever taken the time to calculate the number of biscuits you consume in a day? Moreover, have you ever looked into the ingredient list of these biscuits?Biscuits, unfortunately, can be quite calorie-heavy and are high in hydrogenated fats. On average, a plain Marie biscuit contains around 40 calories. However, cream-filled or freshly baked varieties can contain as much as 100 to 150 calories per biscuit. Additionally, it’s rare for anyone to stop at just one biscuit. Most biscuits are made with refined flour, commonly known as maida, which gets absorbed quickly by the body and can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.Furthermore, biscuits are often loaded with chemicals such as emulsifiers, preservatives and colouring agents, which are added to increase their shelf life. Excessive amounts of salt and sugar are also commonly found in biscuits. High sodium consumption also ends in water retention resulting in bloating, puffiness and weight advantage. As a result, individuals who are hypertensive, diabetic, or overweight should avoid consuming biscuits. It is important to be cautious of sugar-free biscuits as well, as they often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which can affect metabolism and disrupt the gut microbiome. In addition, dipping sweet biscuits in tea or coffee can increase blood sugar levels.Even when a biscuit packet claims to be whole-wheat, fibre-rich, or oatmeal-based, the proportion of these healthier ingredients is usually minimal, ranging from 5 to 10 per cent. The primary ingredient remains the unhealthy refined flour. This deceptive marketing can lead consumers to believe they are making a healthier choice when, in reality, they are not.Some estimates say that even taking four digestive biscuits is equal to nearly a bag of potato chips! That’s bothersome for the heart health of people with high blood pressure, who eat these biscuits mistaking them to be a healthier option.Next time you reach for a biscuit, it’s worth considering the potential consequences. There are better alternatives available, such as consuming nuts like almonds, makhana (fox nuts), or roasted bhuna chana (roasted gram). These options not only provide a delicious taste but also offer essential nutrition. Nuts are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthier choice compared to biscuits.While the nostalgia and convenience of biscuits with tea are deeply rooted in Indian culture, it’s crucial to prioritise our health and make mindful choices. By replacing biscuits with healthier options like nuts, we can satisfy our taste buds while providing our bodies with the nutrition they need. So, the next time you’re tempted to reach for a biscuit, think twice and consider the alternatives that offer both taste and nourishment.As they cater to pleasure-seeking areas in the brain, consuming biscuits becomes an addiction much like cocaine and morphine. That’s the reason why you don’t stop at one.
The housing crisis is one of the most common problems plaguing countries across the increasingly urbanised world. New technologies like 3D printing are seen as a potential solution to provide affordable and secure housing.On Friday, business tycoon Anand Mahindra shared a video that showed the installation of a ‘foldable’ house made by Boxabl, an American housing construction company based in Las Vegas.Mahindra wrote, “I find these inventions fascinating. Yes, they’re usually cost-ineffective in India. But the need for speed in providing shelter (not just post natural disasters but also for accelerating economic growth) is so critical in a developing economy that we should explore how to ‘indianize’ these ideas & do them less expensively. Can @life_spaces look into this @amitsinha73?”.I find these inventions fascinating. Yes, they’re usually cost-ineffective in India. But the need for speed in providing shelter (not just post natural disasters but also for accelerating economic growth) is so critical in a developing economy that we should explore how to… https://t.co/kgNMW85gKa— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) June 2, 2023While many people agreed with Mahindra, others pointed out that the house shown in the video might not answer India’s housing crisis, especially in urban areas. Echoing this view, a Twitter user wrote, “Given India’s large population it need multistoried housing, space should be created artificially. India is an unique country with its population and needs a specific solution. Other countries model could not be copied”.Boxabl is known for its 400 square feet house which can be installed on any surface using connector plates within one day. The house can be shipped and hauled using an SUV or a pickup truck. Currently, this house is priced at $49,500 (approximately Rs 40,00,000).As per Boxabl’s website, these homes are resistant to bugs, mould, water, fire, and hurricane-level winds. The company got much attention in June 2021, after billionaire Elon Musk insinuated he lives in a Boxabl house when he tweeted that he lives in a “$50k house in Boca Chica”.