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The net zero challenge
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Alice Rivlin, vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board in the 1990s, aptly remarked that the “job of a central bank is to worry”. The RBI’s Currency and Finance Report for 2022-23 — “Towards a greener cleaner India” — is proof that the central bank is on the job. It is a timely update to its previous reports that had left many wondering what will be its response to climate change. The report covers an expansive set of issues, and conveys the central bank’s future course of action.India is committed to achieving net zero status by 2070 at CoP26. The road to net zero will not be smooth, as is reflected in the report. The RBI provides a much-desired framework of thinking about the trade-offs between growth, inflation and efforts to transition to a net zero economy. There is a tension between India’s ambition to achieve advanced economy status by 2047 and lowering its emissions. An annual GDP growth rate of 9.6 per cent would raise net GHG emissions by 10.5 times of levels in 2021-22.In a scenario where India seeks to achieve dual objectives of net zero by 2070 and advanced economy status, it would have to increase the share of green energy in primary energy consumption to 82 per cent by 2070 and reduce emission intensity by 5.4 per cent annually. The report’s finding that nationally determined contribution will set back economic output by as much as 9 per cent by 2049 is a wake-up call. Only a more ambitious action of achieving net zero by 2050 would limit the losses from extreme weather events and decarbonisation to 3 per cent by 2049. The question for policy is how can India scale its ambition given the constraints set by investment costs.The report also weighs on the inflationary impact of the status quo against the alternative of achieving net zero by 2050. The latter will raise prices over the next three years but will subdue persistent inflationary effects over the long term. The empirics, therefore, make it clear that transitioning to net zero by 2050 may be a better option globally.Once the shift is set in motion, the productive life of existing fossil fuel-based assets will be shortened thus exposing the banking sector (through loans) to these assets. Such risks are more pronounced for public-sector banks. However, the financial risks are not just limited to conventional energy, non-conventional energy registered an increase in share of industry bad loans. With an annual estimated investment cost of 5-6 per cent of GDP, associated risks to the financial system are also anticipated by the report. At the same time, there are risks to assets, and therefore to the banking system, from the growing incidence of extreme weather events. RBI’s assessment is that a one-period climate shock can reduce output by 1 per cent up to five quarters. This in turn will reduce incomes and consumption.The important question then is what are the policy alternatives to address these risks. Interestingly, the report lays significant emphasis on the role of fiscal policy. It makes a case for fiscal intervention in the form of a carbon tax or an emission trading system. It finds that a carbon tax of $25 per tonne and $50 per tonne of Co2 under different scenarios can be effective, alongside other policy interventions.The importance of a carbon tax is indisputable, especially given the G7’s commitment to trade based tax measures. However, its distributional consequences are not addressed at all. It remains unclear from the analysis the level of carbon tax most compatible with different growth outcomes. It is also unclear which tax redistribution mechanisms can mitigate the distributional consequences.The report sets the tone for monetary policy in the coming years. But it also lays out policy questions that remain widely unaddressed — the need for a taxonomy and sectoral pathways aligned with net zero. While it does mention the role of shifts in production to less energy intensive sectors — fisheries, textiles, land transport and services — there is no roadmap for these sectors that have long confronted legacy issues. As the RBI takes on the responsibility of managing risks, fiscal policy and regulatory measures are also needed to meet the challenges.The writer is associate professor, NIPFP

The net zero challenge
Why 'revolutionary' communist PM Prachanda went to temples in India
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

On the evening of May 31, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (“Prachanda”) raised his hands in welcome and signalled Manjeev Singh Puri, asking the former Indian Ambassador to Nepal to approach him at a reception held in his honour at the country’s embassy in New Delhi. “I have not forgotten… you asked me several times when will I wear Daura-Suruwal. Look, I have done it.”Prime Minister Dahal donned Nepal’s official and traditional dress for the first time during a trip abroad. Dahal and his party – the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) – have consciously avoided wearing traditional attire to maintain the radical and revolutionary image. That image was sacrificed on his trip to India.On the third day of his trip, Dahal not only visited Indore but he did an elaborate puja at the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. He offered the deity a 108-rudraksha bead thread, clad in distinctly religious attire. Dahal was a “revolutionary” whose insurgency saw many incidents of temples being vandalised and those observing rituals (even death rituals) being killed. He has still avoided visiting any temple, including the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal. His religiosity in India, then, may well be taken as a tactical transformation to address the Modi factor – a factor which may be crucial to his political success and survival. Many, then, believe that he has not “transformed” – he has simply been tamed by hostile circumstances and politics. His visit to India five months after he assumed office as PM for the third time was for political management.Just an hour before his departure, he managed to get President Ram Chandra Poudel to approve the Citizenship Bill that erstwhile President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had declined. Dahal bypassed parliament by getting the cabinet to go for a shortcut. The cabinet to pass sought the President’s approval bypassing the parliament. This was done to mollify New Delhi.India has still not welcomed Nepal’s constitution, promulgated in 2015. Dahal and K P Oli (who was then waiting to take over as PM) turned down India’s suggestion to delay the promulgation till the demands of some Tarai-based parties, which included the citizenship issue was sorted out. The result was a 134-day-long economic blockade, which led to a sweeping anti-India sentiment in Nepal. Modi also lost a lot of his considerable popularity in the country.The Citizenship Bill, among other things, provides instant citizenship with all the political and property rights to foreign women married to Nepali men. While the Bill does not address many of the more radical demands, like citizenship to men married to Nepali women, Dahal’s pushing it through likely earns him some trustworthiness in the eyes of the Indian establishment. It can be interpreted as a realisation on his part that not listening to India earlier was a mistake.Dahal had his own reasons to stoop, hoping he will ultimately conquer. Sixteen years ago, the decade-long insurgency – which led to 17,000 deaths – ended in a peace accord following a deal that India brokered between the Maoists and Nepal’s pro-democracy parties. Modi, who came to power in Delhi eight years after the deal, hailed the accord in his first address from the ramparts of the Red Fort as a “triumph of the ballot over bullet”. But now, at 71, Dahal faces the prospects of that triumph being bungled. Not only his detractors, but ex-guerrillas and political allies want the gross human rights violations probed and the guilty punished, as pledged in the peace accord signed in November 2006.Dahal has been trying hard to grant general amnesty to the guilty but as the accord was witnessed by the international community, including the UN, his best option was to reach out to India to bail him out and, if necessary, intercede with Western countries.Indian authorities appear convinced that the Maoist leader’s offer to side with India in containing China in Nepal, and even to put Chinese investments at bay, is genuine. Delhi seems to believe that Dahal continuing as PM would be in India’s interest. Amazingly, he also reportedly assured the BJP that he was no less Hindu than the former King Gyanendra Shah, whose efforts at making a political comeback are getting a huge public response in Nepal. His visit to Mahakaleshwar was evidence of that.For now, Dahal got what he wanted from Delhi. The two sides signed deals to have Indian Public Sector Undertakings — National Hydro-Power Corporation and Satluj Jal Nigam — to develop the 679 MW Lower Arun and 480 MW Phukot (Karnali) — with India promising to enhance multifold the current purchase level (400 MW) of Nepal-generated power. Delhi asserted that no power generated by Nepal companies with Chinese investment will be purchased. This is a clear message that Chinese investment in all major sectors will be discouraged.Dahal did not quite raise the border dispute – this would have spoilt the positive atmosphere he was trying to create. But this is likely to be seen as a “surrender”, and create a backlash at home. His Delhi visit will be debated, polarising people and parties in Nepal. And that will cost Prachanda the image his “revolutionary past” bestowed on him. In that avatar, the problems with an “expansionist India” used to be a political and diplomatic mantra.The writer is a senior journalist based in Kathmandu

Why 'revolutionary' communist PM Prachanda went to temples in India
'PM Modi's car crashing as he looks in rear-view mirror': Rahul Gandhi in US
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night (GMT) and alleged that the BJP and RSS are “incapable of looking at the future” and can only talk about the past.Addressing a gathering of the Indian diaspora in the Javits Centre in New York, Gandhi said, “He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is trying to drive the car…the Indian car and he looks in the rear-view mirror. Then he does not understand why this car is crashing, not moving forward. And it’s the same idea with the BJP, with the RSS. All of them. You listen to the ministers, you listen to the Prime Minister. You will never find them talking about the future. They only talk about the past”.Gandhi asserted that the BJP and RSS speak only about the past and always “blame somebody else for the past”. In India, there is a fight going on back between two ideologies — one represented by the Congress and the other by the BJP and the RSS, the former MP said.“The simplest way to describe this fight is that on one side you have Mahatma Gandhi and on the other side, Nathuram Godse,” he said.On the Odisha train accident, which claimed 275 lives and left over 1,000 injured, Gandhi said that during the Congress tenure, if train mishaps happened, ministers used to take responsibilities for their actions and “we accepted our mistakes”.“I remember a train accident when the Congress was in power. The Congress did not get up and say ‘now it is the fault of the British that the train has crashed’. The Congress minister said ‘it’s my responsibility and I’m resigning’. So this is the problem we have back home, we make excuses and we are not accepting the reality we are faced with,” Gandhi said.A one-minute silence was also observed to pay respect to the people who died in the accident.During his 40-minute long speech, Gandhi also praised the Indian-American community for the way they have lived in the US. “All the giants that have emerged from India, you can see that there were certain qualities that all of them possessed. Firstly, they searched for, represented and fought for the truth. Secondly, all these people were humble, and there was no arrogance in them. That is how Indians have worked in the US, and that’s why Indians are successful here. I respect and honour you for that.”Gandhi is on a six-day, three-city tour to the United States. He has visited California, the Bay area, Washington and New York to interact with the Indian communities, think tanks and the press.Earlier last week, Gandhi also said the RSS and the BJP are controlling all the instruments of politics in India. Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul said, “I think if you sat Modi ji down next to god, Modi ji would start explaining to god how the universe works. And god would get confused that what have I created.”— With PTI inputs

'PM Modi's car crashing as he looks in rear-view mirror': Rahul Gandhi in US
Amit Shah meets team of wrestlers, they ask for early chargesheet
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

DAYS AFTER they threatened to throw their medals into the Ganga, and the night before their five-day deadline for action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh expired, a delegation of the protesting wrestlers met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his official residence in the Capital late Saturday.The meeting, which is learnt to have lasted for over two hours and ended after midnight, was attended by Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik along with several coaches. “We had a meeting with the Home Minister. I can’t comment further,” Bajrang told The Indian Express.Bajrang and Sakshi, along with World Championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, have been at the forefront of the protests against Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment by seven female wrestlers, including a minor.The Delhi Police registered two FIRs against Singh on April 28 that, as reported by The Indian Express Friday, have at least two instances of demanding “sexual favours” in lieu of professional assistance; close to 15 incidents of sexual harassment that include 10 episodes of inappropriate touching, molestation that includes running hands over breasts, touching the navel; several instances of intimidation including stalking.The Indian Express also reported that one Olympian, a Commonwealth gold medallist, an international referee and a state-level coach are learnt to have corroborated the allegations of at least three female wrestlers, and are among the 125 potential witnesses across four states whose statements have been recorded by Delhi Police.The status of the investigation into these allegations against Singh was the key issue raised by the wrestlers at their meeting with Shah, The Indian Express has learnt. The wrestlers underlined their demand for a strong chargesheet to be filed quickly. The Home Minister is learnt to have said that the due process needs to be followed.Earlier, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur too had urged the wrestlers to “fully cooperate with a fair investigation” and let “the law take its own course”.The last high-level meeting between the protesting wrestlers and government representatives was held on May 27, on the eve of the new Parliament’s inauguration. As the talks were inconclusive, the wrestlers, along with their supporters, went ahead with their plans to march to the new Parliament. They were stopped on the way, manhandled and detained by the Delhi Police. The police also filed an FIR against them under multiple sections, including rioting.In response to the treatment meted out to them, which was condemned by international sports bodies and athletes in India, the wrestlers decided to “immerse” their medals in the Ganga last Tuesday. They went to Haridwar but did a rethink at the last minute, after a phone call from a BJP leader who asked for some time, and pressure from their families.Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait, who also reached Haridwar, asked the wrestlers to defer their decision by five days. On June 2, after Singh was forced to postpone his rally in Ayodhya, Tikait said at a khap panchayat that the government should be given “7 to 10 days” to take action against Singh.

Amit Shah meets team of wrestlers, they ask for early chargesheet
One guard 'missing' after Bihar bridge demolition, says circle officer
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

After a 200-metre stretch of an under-construction bridge over the Ganga in Bihar collapsed Sunday, authorities on Monday said that one person working as a guard at the site has been reported missing.“He was a guard with the SP Singla Company. We have been searching for him since yesterday night. SDRF and NDRF teams are also engaged in the search operation. We have not been able to trace the body. We are making efforts to to recover the body at the earliest,” Parbatta Circle Officer Chandan Kumar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.#WATCH | The bridge that collapsed yesterday had collapsed last year also. I have instructed officials to take strict action. It is not being constructed correctly that’s why it is collapsing again & again. The department will look into it & action will be taken: Bihar CM Nitish… pic.twitter.com/Y8m5Zo5Kka— ANI (@ANI) June 5, 2023Circle Officer Kumar added that the missing person’s bike is still parked near the pillar where it was yesterday.Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Monday said that the said bridge had collapsed last year as well. “I have instructed officials to take strict action. It is not being constructed correctly that’s why it is collapsing again and again. The department will look into it and action will be taken,” he told reporters.The Bihar government on Sunday clarified that the Aguwani-Sultanganj bridge in Bhagalpur had been demolished intentionally, and that no casualties had occurred due to its razing. “It was decided that we must not take any chance and wait for a final report. So we went ahead with pulling down parts of the bridge. It was a part of such a preventive exercise,” Additional Chief Secretary of Road Construction Department, Pratyay Amrit, had said in a press conference with Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav.The 3.1-kilometre-long bridge, built by SP Singla Constructions Private Limited at a cost of Rs 1,710 crore, had also collapsed on April 30 last year, raising concerns over its construction.(With inputs from PTI, ANI)

One guard 'missing' after Bihar bridge demolition, says circle officer
Rs 2,000 notes withdrawal: What’s in store for banks, depositors?
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Over a week after banks started exchanging or depositing Rs 2,000 notes on May 23, over Rs 80,000 crore is estimated to have reached the banking system despite the different rules being adopted by banks for the exercise.While almost the entire Rs 3.6 crore worth of Rs 2,000 notes is expected to come into the banking system as another four months remain for the deadline to exchange or deposit of these notes, the surplus cash accruing to the banks is expected to bring down deposit rates as witnessed during the 2016 demonetisation.What’s the impact on currency in circulation so far?According to RBI data, currency in circulation (CIC) has fallen by Rs 36,492 crore to Rs 34.41 lakh crore during the week ended May 26. The RBI asked banks to exchange or deposit Rs 2,000 notes from May 23. CIC is expected to decline further in the coming weeks. Currency in circulation refers to cash or currency available with the public that is physically used to conduct transactions between consumers and businesses.How do banks view this?State Bank of India Chairman Dinesh Khara says Rs 14,000 crore has been deposited in accounts and Rs 3000 crore has been exchanged. Bank of India has received Rs 3,100 crore worth Rs 2,000 notes. Overall, banks are estimated to have received over Rs 80,000 crore worth of Rs 2,000 notes after the RBI announced the withdrawal of these notes from circulation, according to a banking source.With another four months to go for the deadline of September 30 for exchanging notes, banks expect almost the entire amount to come back into the banking system. “We believe that the almost the entire amount of Rs 3.6 lakh crore will come back (Rs 3 lakh crore excluding the amount in currency chests) to the banking system,” says Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, State Bank of India.What’s the impact on liquidity, deposits?Withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes could see an infusion of Rs 1-1.8 lakh crore of liquidity over the June-September period, according to a Care Ratings report. Comfortable liquidity conditions could ease short-term rates going ahead, it said.According to SBI, there will be a favourable impact on liquidity, bank deposits and interest rates. Decoding exchange-deposit dynamics, we understand, banks will already be holding some of these notes in their currency chests, thus the impact on deposits will be limited.Assuming that 10-15 per cent of the total Rs 2000 notes are in currency chests, then of the remaining Rs 3 lakh crore, Rs 2-2.1 lakh crore would be spent by the consumers (either direct purchase or by exchanging it with smaller denominations notes), approximately Rs one lakh crore is destined deposits in banks, SBI says. However, going by the trend so far, deposits are likely to be higher than Rs one lakh crore estimated by the banks earlier.“The withdrawal of Rs. 2,000 banknotes is likely to boost short-term liquidity in the banking sector thereby reducing the pressure on deposit rates. The banks may use incremental deposits to increase credit growth. This is likely to reduce the pressure on net interest margins,” said a Care Ratings report.What’s the impact on bond yield?The transitory change in the liquidity would lead to decline in yields, more at the shorter end of the curve. “We understand there should be fall of 25-30 bps (basis points) in money market rates due to incremental deposits flow. This should lead to short end forward points collapsing which the RBI may use to square off its existing short end positions,” SBI said.The yield on 10-year benchmark government bonds has fallen below 7 per cent level to 6.98 per cent on Wednesday. Various factors like comfortable liquidity, rise in deposits and fall in yields and inflation are likely to prompt the RBI to keep the policy interest rates unchanged in the June policy review.The 47 basis points decline in 10-year bond yields this year is an indicator that the interest rates have peaked and is set to decline if inflation also remains low. After the demonetisation in 2016, deposit rates subsequently declined. In short, savers and pensioners should not expect more hike in deposit rates.Will cash with public surge?After the government announced withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8, 2016, cash with public started surging and it’s now at a new high. With cash remaining the preferred mode of payment, currency with public for the fortnight ended May 19, 2023 stood at a record high of Rs 33.71 lakh crore — up 270 per cent from Rs 9.11 lakh crore recorded on November 25, 2016, two weeks after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn from the system.According to the latest RBI data, cash with the public jumped by 87.6 per cent, or Rs 15.74 lakh crore, from Rs 17.97 lakh crore on November 4, 2016, days before the demonetisation was announced. The year-on-year rise in cash with the public was Rs 253,435 crore as on May 19, 2023.After Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn from the system in November 2016, currency with the public, which stood at Rs 17.97 lakh crore on November 4, 2016, declined to Rs 7.8 lakh crore in January 2017 soon after demonetisation. However, analysts don’t expect a big surge in cash with public following the withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes.

Rs 2,000 notes withdrawal: What’s in store for banks, depositors?
In Manipur relief camps, some dream of home, others seek a fresh startPremium Story
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

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.

In Manipur relief camps, some dream of home, others seek a fresh startPremium Story
  • IISc, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia top universities in India: NIRF Ranking 2023 (university category)
  • The Indian Express

    Top Universities in India 2023: The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings 2023 released today. This time, too, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru has topped the university rankings followed by JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia. IISc Bangalore has been adjudged at the number two position in the overall category.In 2022 too, IISc Bengaluru topped the university rankings with a score of 83.57, followed by Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (68.47 score) and Jamia Millia Islamia ( 65.91 score) at the second and third spot respectively.Last year, Jamia Millia Islamia improved its rankings dramatically as it jumped from rank 6 in 2021 to rank 3 in 2022 by replacing Banaras Hindu University which slipped to rank 6 in 2022.Last year, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham ranked fifth with a score of 63.40, followed by BHU, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal at the seventh spot with a score of 62.84.In 2021, Calcutta University was ranked fourth, which slumped to rank 8 in 2022 rankings. Vellore Institute of Technology and the University of Hyderabad ranked ninth and tenth in last year’s rankings.

  • IIT-Madras, IISc top educational institutes in the country: NIRF Rankings 2023 (overall category)
  • The Indian Express

    NIRF Overall Ranking List 2023: The Ministry of Education today announced the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking for the year 2023. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras is the best educational institute under the overall category this year followed by IISc Bangalore and IIT-Delhi.“Dr Radhakrishnan committee was set up by the Education Ministry to look into assessment accreditation parameters. Data for all educational institutions will be available at fingertips. One nation one data underway,” says Anil Sahasrabuddhe.“We started NIRF with four categories. The aim was to improve the quality of higher education and help students make decisions. With the 8th edition, we now have 12 categories including 8 subject-specific rankings,” says Anil Kumar Nassa, member secretary of NBA (which prepares NIRF), at the event marking the release of NIRF rankings this morningThis year, NIRF has added one new discipline namely, Agriculture and Allied Sectors. Also, architecture discipline has been renamed as Architecture and Planning.Last year, there were only four categories– Overall, Colleges, Universities and Research Institutions and seven subject domains– Engineering, Management, Pharmacy, Law, Medical, Architecture and Dental.In NIRF 2022 rankings, IISc Bangalore ranked first amongst all institutions under research and universities category, it ranked second in the overall ranking. IIT Madras secured the first position in the overall ranking category.Meanwhile, IIM Ahmedabad was the top ranked management college. Last year, around 670 institutions participated in the rankings out of which 387 had no research publications.

Gufi Paintal, Shakuni Mama of BR Chopra's Mahabharat, passes away at 79
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Actor Gufi Paintal, best known for playing the role of Shakuni Mama in BR Chopra’s TV show Mahabharat (1980), passed away in Mumbai on Monday due to age related health issues. He was 79.The actor’s family said in a statement, “With profound grief we announce the sad demise of our father Mr Gufi Paintal (Shakuni Mama). He passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family.”Gufi’s nephew Hiten Paintal told indianexpress.com, “He passed away today around 9 am. He had a heart failure. He was 79 years old.”Gufi Paintal had been unwell for a long time and was admitted to the hospital on May 31 after his health condition worsened.Besides being an actor, Gufi also directed a few TV shows and a movie titled Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. With BR Films, he also worked as an associate director, casting director and production designer.The actor was the brother of popular comedian Paintal, who starred in films like Satte Pe Satta, Rafoo Chakkar, Parichay and others.Some of Gufi’s acting credits include films Dillagi (1978), Des Pardes (1978), Daava (1997), and Samrat & Co (2014). He essayed the role of Akshay Kumar’s maternal uncle in the 1994 movie Suhaag. Besides Mahabharat, he also starred in TV shows like Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap, Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein, Karmaphal Daata Shani and Karn Sangini.  A post shared by Gufi Paintal (@gufi.paintal)Gufi Paintal was last seen in the TV show Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki.

Gufi Paintal, Shakuni Mama of BR Chopra's Mahabharat, passes away at 79
  • Gufi Paintal, Shakuni Mama of BR Chopra’s Mahabharat, passes away at 79
  • The Indian Express

    Actor Gufi Paintal, best known for playing the role of Shakuni Mama in BR Chopra’s TV show Mahabharat (1980), passed away in Mumbai on Monday due to age related health issues. He was 79.The actor’s family said in a statement, “With profound grief we announce the sad demise of our father Mr Gufi Paintal (Shakuni Mama). He passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family.”Gufi’s nephew Hiten Paintal told indianexpress.com, “He passed away today around 9 am. He had a heart failure. He was 79 years old.”Gufi Paintal had been unwell for a long time and was admitted to the hospital on May 31 after his health condition worsened.Besides being an actor, Gufi also directed a few TV shows and a movie titled Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. With BR Films, he also worked as an associate director, casting director and production designer.The actor was the brother of popular comedian Paintal, who starred in films like Satte Pe Satta, Rafoo Chakkar, Parichay and others.Some of Gufi’s acting credits include films Dillagi (1978), Des Pardes (1978), Daava (1997), and Samrat & Co (2014). He essayed the role of Akshay Kumar’s maternal uncle in the 1994 movie Suhaag. Besides Mahabharat, he also starred in TV shows like Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap, Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein, Karmaphal Daata Shani and Karn Sangini.  A post shared by Gufi Paintal (@gufi.paintal)Gufi Paintal was last seen in the TV show Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki.

K Annamalai: 'PM, senior leadership don't believe in one country, one language'Premium Story
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Arun Janardhanan: There was a story that when you decided to resign as an IPS officer, the original plan was to join Rajinikanth’s party, which was to launch in 2019-20. Because Rajnikanth cancelled the plan, you joined the BJP. Is that true?I did not resign to join any political party. I was very allergic to politicians. Being a cop for nine-and-a-half years, I was at the other end of the political spectrum. Joining politics immediately after quitting is something I was not very comfortable with, but I wanted to go back to my grassroots. In the spirit of service, I started a foundation called We The Leaders Foundation. The idea of joining the BJP came after I met some leaders and they convinced me that the foundation can have a life of its own, but through politics I can achieve certain goals and objectives very fast, especially for Tamil Nadu.I have met Rajinikanth sir a couple of times and he’s a great person but I never met him to join his party. Our conversation was about issues of common interest and even now we maintain a good friendship.Arun Janardhanan: When you look at yourself as an ex-IPS officer, how does your past influence your present?After losing my first assembly election in Aravakurichi, I spoke to a lot of people and asked them what I did wrong? Many felt that my journey as a police officer, who directly entered politics, was an impediment. People don’t want the same force of a policeman in politics because you’re always ramrod straight. Politics is much deeper. They also want to test whether you will stay in politics for five-10-15 years, or is it a passing thought for you. Even now, if anybody wants to criticise me, they say, ‘Oh, he’s behaving like a policeman… for Annamalai there’s always black and white’. On the positive side, being in the police for about nine-and-a-half years has given me a good insight into human behaviour.I would like to be in Tamil Nadu. I don’t personally want to contest the Lok Sabha elections because I don’t want to be a leader in Tamil Nadu who will go to Delhi and then come backArun Janardhanan: When we look at Tamil Nadu, the BJP is seen as a North Indian party, an upper caste party. In Tamil Nadu, there is Dravidianism, Tamil nationalism, too. How do you plan to make the BJP popular in Tamil Nadu?In Tamil Nadu, the national party always had a role to play. When Modiji was coming to power for the first time as the PM in 2014, we got 19 per cent votes. DMK was as low as 23 per cent. In Tamil Nadu, a national party should have a face, as people here look for a face. It’s a very peculiar political model because people want to travel with the leader for a long time. We have to create leaders in Tamil Nadu who stick with people for 20-30 years. After some time, if the party gives me some other assignment, I would like to be in Tamil Nadu. I personally don’t want to contest the Lok Sabha elections because I don’t want to be a leader in Tamil Nadu who will go to Delhi and then come back.Liz Mathew: The BJP’s disappointing Karnataka election results were attributed to excessive Delhi influence in campaigning. What was the reason for the debacle? Was it the local or national leadership that worked on the party’s election strategies?Karnataka’s political landscape is intricate. In 2013, BJP faced challenges due to Yediyurappa’s separate party, KJP (Karnataka Janata Paksha), and vote cutters like JD(S), resulting in Congress taking power. In 2018, despite Congress leading by 2.5 per cent in vote share, BJP outperformed in 24 seats, marking a shift.Each of the six regions of Karnataka has a distinct voting pattern. In south Karnataka, with 64 seats from Mysore to Ramanagara, JD(S) is a key player. BJP’s influence is growing in north Karnataka, and they dominated central Karnataka in 2018. Bellary, a strong area for BJP in the past two elections, saw a downturn this time. Coastal Karnataka usually favours the BJP, but the recent election was tougher.Any government that releases the caste census will be in trouble. In a democracy like ours, with so many caste and social groups, nobody is going to agree with the numbersA surprise was JD(S)’s unexpected five per cent vote share drop, despite an aggressive campaign. BJP’s vote share in south Karnataka increased from 16 per cent in 2018 to 23 per cent, but Congress came out victorious, gaining 18-20 seats in the region. Despite the increase in ST reservation from three per cent to seven per cent, BJP underperformed in Bellary, calling for introspection. In Bangalore, BJP saw an improvement, winning 17 seats compared to 11 in 2018.Overall, the BJP remains unperturbed after the Karnataka elections, as its vote share held steady. While Congress retained its candidates, BJP took risks, including a generational shift with Yediyurappa not contesting. The continuous change of three chief ministers in five years — HD Kumaraswamy, BS Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai — also unsettled the administration. Furthermore, ex-Congress members contested under BJP, adding to the dynamism. Yet, the BJP is optimistic about sweeping the 2024 Parliament election.I can tell you, 100 per cent, that the Delhi leadership never drove this election. The election was completely driven by the local leadership. Modiji attended more rallies because the local leadership wanted him to attend more rallies. The programme was made by them — the election co-convener Shobha Karandlaje, state President Nalin Kumar Kateel, the former CM Yediyurappa, the then CM Basavaraj Bommai. The “Ee baari nirdhara, bahumatada BJP” (This time, BJP majority government) slogan was made by the local leadership. People want Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath to come for campaigning. We acted as a facilitator: Dharmendra Pradhan as election in-charge, Mansukh Mandaviya and myself.Liz Mathew: Were the leaders united? Was the decision on a generational shift taken on time? How will you address these issues?There were issues but whenever you make a shift, it is always an issue. You have seen Jagadish Shettar. The party has collective wisdom. The senior five-six leaders of Karnataka felt a generational change was needed. The way the BJP works for me, as a karyakarta, is that after a certain point of time they believe that you are not fighting elections but you’re important to the party — we will take care of you. The party will not reject any single person. I can give severalexamples from Tamil Nadu of people sitting in different positions, and for many of them it was a surprise. I have taken the resignation letters of two BJP karyakartas from Tamil Nadu who have become governors. In case of Jagadish Shettar also, the party didn’t sideline him. Seniors have to make way, but in some places they have to still be there. For instance, in Chitradurga we have a 74-year-old fighting the election on a BJP ticket because the next level of leadership is developing. Each seat will go through a different module. No two individuals can be equated. In the case of Laxman Savadiji, he was given a seat to contest but not the seat he wanted. He was also assured of something else once the government comes to power. These are all micro issues.Liz Mathew: Given BJP’s limited success in Tamil Nadu, have you felt frustrated or considered quitting due to its slow progress?I have no intention of quitting; I never publicly declared such a thing. A party’s growth depends on its members’ election competency. I was pleased when, in the recent urban local body elections, around 5,900 BJP candidates stood independently across all bodies. Many were successful, others weren’t, but now they are effectively working on the ground. Constant alliances can weaken a party’s ability to contest elections independently and fearlessly.Each state’s political environment varies, and what transpires in Tamil Nadu affects Delhi, considering its 39 Lok Sabha MPs. While BJP’s independent fight might be beneficial for us, it may not be advantageous for the overall Delhi numbers due to vote division.To establish roots in Tamil Nadu, BJP needs the ethos of a regional party. Consider DMK or AIADMK; they always prioritise Tamil Nadu. Since the inception of BJP state leadership, we resolved to champion Tamil Nadu’s cause, even if it occasionally inconveniences the party. For instance, when Karnataka, governed by the BJP, planned to build the Mekedatu dam, Tamil Nadu BJP observed a one-day fast in Thanjavur to express local sentiments. National leadership can then address these concerns.Modiji gave Tamilians a great honour by placing our Sengol sceptre, symbolising Chola power transfer, in the new Parliament, continually reminding the Speaker of its significance.P Vaidyanathan Iyer: What were the BJP’s apprehensions about the recent labour law amendments in Tamil Nadu, given that similar changes were made nationally?BJP is in support of bringing in a new labour code that is realistic and (in line) with the market sentiment, new era of technology. We had a problem with the way it was communicated by the Tamil Nadu government. It seemed they were trying to squeeze the workers’ rights by trying to put them in a room. Second, we asked for certain safety mechanisms, a welfare board to take care of it. Even if there was a labour union, we wanted them to go one level up in terms of setting a proper communication channel which was not addressed in the Tamil Nadu order. We are there for increased working hours, flexible working hours, but with certain conditions that make sure that everybody is heard. We are not blanketly opposing anything, like other parties. In the new era, a lot of changes have to come, but I feel the central government order was more practical and communicative.P Vaidyanathan Iyer: What is the local BJP’s position on Tamil Nadu’s decision to stick with the New Pension System?The local BJP strongly supports the New Pension System over reverting to the old model, citing concerns over escalating government expenses. I was one of the earliest people who entered the New Pension Scheme and the model is fairly good. I found it beneficial, offering flexibility in investment choices. It’s crucial to communicate to Civil servants that they can influence where their pension contributions are invested.P Vaidyanathan Iyer: Regarding the temple management dispute in Tamil Nadu between BJP-RSS, spiritual leaders and the government, what’s your stance?The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (TN HR&CE) faced initial opposition in the 1950s,assuaged by promises of undisturbed temple rituals, operations and properties. However, the Act’s execution is criticised today. Many temples lack Arukala puja and are deteriorating due to discord among stakeholders. Also, administrative costs exceed the stipulated 12 per cent of hundi collections, misappropriating funds meant for temple activities.The opposition to the current management is both ideological and administrative, with poor coordination adversely impacting temple operations.The BJP believes the TN HR&CE has outlived its usefulness and supports a new management method.For example, in the Kalikambal temple, trustees are publicly elected by the community. We propose a model where the temple community elects a board supervised by a reputable private individual. An overarching government authority should intervene only when norms are violated. This approach ensures community involvement while maintaining regulatory oversight.SHYAMLAL YADAV: Tamil Nadu has played a key role in the social justice movement and some parties in the state are demanding a nationwide caste census. In Karnataka, one reason for the BJP’s defeat is that the Congress very aggressively demanded a caste census. Shouldn’t there be a caste census?When there was the Congress government in Karnataka and Siddaramaiahji was the Chief Minister, from 2013-18, they conducted a caste census. That report never saw the light of the day. In several judgments, especially when the issues of caste and reservation came up, the Supreme Court has demanded for an empirical proof for giving data. The Karnataka Congress demanding for a caste census is like a kettle calling the pot black. They themselves are not releasing what they did. Any government that releases the caste census will be in trouble. In a democracy like ours, with so many caste and social groups, nobody is going to agree with the numbers. Let all the political parties fall in line. I’m not saying it won’t happen, it has to happen. But how it has to happen, what methodology, let us defer it to the wisdom of the senior political leadership.AMRITH LAL: How does BJP’s one India, one language and, to some extent, one faith agenda, work with the very strong regional linguistic nationalism of Tamil Nadu? Also, as early as 1982-1983 Hindu Munnani won a seat on its own in Padmanabhapuram, an assembly constituency. What is it that prevented the BJP from growing into a party that can win at least one seat in Tamil Nadu on its own?Our PM and the senior leadership, none of them believes in one country, one language. The new National Education Policy very clearly laid down the mandate saying it is not going to work.Let us have three languages. One is your mother tongue, one is English, one could be a regional language of your choice.You are right about the seat in Padmanabhapuram, Kanyakumari. Tomorrow if the BJP is standing alone, if it is a three-way division in Tamil Nadu, BJP will start with 40 seats. It is my strong answer to you as BJP State President. In 2016 we stood alone, but unfortunately there were some issues like lack of leadership, somebody went out, somebody came in, but post the assembly elections we are in a very good position in Kanyakumari, which you will also see in Lok Sabha.

K Annamalai: 'PM, senior leadership don't believe in one country, one language'Premium Story
IndiGo closing towards record deal to buy 500 jets from Airbus: report
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

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.

IndiGo closing towards record deal to buy 500 jets from Airbus: report
Oppn’s June 12 meet deferred to ensure Kharge, Rahul Gandhi attendance
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

The first joint meeting of the Opposition parties scheduled for June 12 in Patna has been postponed after the Congress signalled its inability to send its top leaders to the conclave because of their prior commitments.The Congress wanted the meeting to take place after June 20 so that both party president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on a tour of the United States, could attend it, but the Janata Dal (United) went ahead and announced the June 12 rally after holding consultations with some Opposition parties for whom this date was said to be “convenient”.Sources said the June 12 schedule was also not convenient for the DMK as well as the CPI(M). With the JD(U) unilaterally announcing the date, the Congress had indicated that Kharge may not attend the meeting and could send instead one of the party’s Chief Ministers to the Patna meet.Rahul, sources said, will return to India on June 18. A meeting of the anti-BJP parties to chalk out the strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections without the top Congress leadership in attendance would have been bad optics.Sources said the JD(U) has now conveyed to the Opposition leaders that the conclave can now be held after June 20, preferably on June 23.Earlier, the Congress made it clear that the party will participate in the June 12 meeting but was yet to decide the level of its representation.Although the Congress still believes that it should be “rightfully” at the centre of the Opposition unity project given its status as the largest among the non-BJP parties, the party had let Bihar CM and JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar do the groundwork for the meeting given that some of the Opposition parties are not keen to accept the primacy of the grand old party.Many of the Opposition parties are keen that they come together and field one joint candidate against the BJP in majority of the Lok Sabha seats in the 2024 polls. But the exercise is fraught with challenges.In fact, Rahul recently admitted that the discussions regarding Opposition unity would be a “complicated” affair. “The discussions are complicated because there are spaces where we are also competing with the Opposition. So a little bit of give and take is required, but I am confident that it will happen,” he said during one of his events in the US.

Oppn’s June 12 meet deferred to ensure Kharge, Rahul Gandhi attendance
Hansal Mehta says 'no pressure' to cast big star: 'Not denying value of a star, but…’
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta chases stories, not stars. The director, whose Scoop is garnering acclaim, says he was under no pressure to get a star on-board his recently released Netflix series.Inspired by Jigna Vora’s biographical book Behind The Bars In Byculla: My Days in Prison, Scoop is created by Hansal Mehta and Thappad co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo. The series is headlined by Karishma Tanna, starring as Jagruti Pathak, an ambitious crime journalist, who becomes a murder suspect.In an interview with indianexpress.com, when asked if there was a pressure to get a star on board for Scoop, especially because Mehta was coming off a highly successful series like Scam: 1992, the filmmaker said he had no such pressure to mount his latest original.“I don’t think we fought about the choice. Karishma or Harman. We spoke about it and (it happened). There was no pressure as such. One of the reasons why Scam worked was because we took an actor nobody knew. So the character became bigger than the person playing it. I am not denying the value of a star, but in certain stories, the character becomes the star.“Karishma was striking. In her audition, there was this hustle. She had a very arresting presence, she looked wonderful on-screen. There was something about her, there was a hunger. So, somehow Jagruti’s hunger and Karishma’s hunger juxtaposed. I saw that. It has always been an instinctive thing. I enjoy casting as much as I enjoy shooting,” he added. A post shared by Pratham Mehta (@pratham94)In an earlier interview with indianexpress.com, Karishma Tanna had opened up about resonating with her character’s ambition as she felt she was going through “hunger” to prove herself as an actor and hustling for it.“I will do everything I can… Being in the industry for so long and still being relevant is a big thing. I didn’t realise until Scoop’s writer Mrunmayee Lagoo noted. I continuously hustled my way. There are ups and downs in every actor’s life, but I have tried to be relevant in the industry. That, ‘Hey, I am here! I still have not got what I deserve,'” Tanna had said.

Hansal Mehta says 'no pressure' to cast big star: 'Not denying value of a star, but…’
Junglemahal faultlines flare as Kudmis up the ante in ST status stirPremium Story
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

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.”

Junglemahal faultlines flare as Kudmis up the ante in ST status stirPremium Story
Plane over Washington causes military jet to scramble; sonic boom heard
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

A wayward and unresponsive business plane that flew over the nation’s capital Sunday afternoon caused the military to scramble a fighter jet before the plane crashed in Virginia, officials said. The fighter jet caused a loud sonic boom that was heard across the capital region.The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cessna Citation took off from Elizabethtown, Tennessee, on Sunday and was headed for Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. Inexplicably, the plane turned around over New York’s Long Island and flew a straight path down over DC before it crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Virginia, around 3.30 pm.DC Boom heard in parts of Maryland & Virginia.Around 3pm ET, today, a Private Cessna Jet reportedly was supposed to land k Long Island, New York, turned around and headed back to Washington DC, flight paths show.Citation 560 Encore is registered to an owner in Hollywood,… pic.twitter.com/ZDkia4cOXK— UltraMJTruth (@MJTruthUltra) June 4, 2023It was not immediately clear why the plane was nonresponsive, why it crashed or how many people were on board.A US official confirmed to The Associated Press that the military jet had scrambled to respond to the small plane, which later crashed. The official was not authorised to publicly discuss details of the military operation and spoke on condition of anonymity.Flight tracking sites showed the jet suffered a rapid spiralling descent, dropping at one point at a rate of more than 30,000 feet per minute before crashing in the St. Mary’s Wilderness.The flight path of the Cessna jet which crashed into the mountains in Virginia earlier today after entering restricted airspace over Washington D.C. and being pursued by F16 Fighter Jets.The privately owned plane, which was registered in Elizabethton, Tennessee dropped 28,864… https://t.co/vWR1WgTKeZ pic.twitter.com/7dLTjteak4— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) June 4, 2023The North American Aerospace Defense Command later said in a statement that the F-16 was authorised to travel at supersonic speeds, which caused a sonic boom.“During this event, the NORAD aircraft also used flares — which may have been visible to the public — in an attempt to draw attention from the pilot,” the statement said. “Flares are employed with highest regard for safety of the intercepted aircraft and people on the ground. Flares burn out quickly and completely and there is no danger to the people on the ground when dispensed.”Virginia State Police said officers were notified of the potential crash shortly before 4 pm. Police were still working to find the plane on Sunday evening but hadn’t been able to locate the crash site, police spokesperson Corinne Geller said.The plane that crashed was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. John Rumpel, who runs the company, told The New York Times that his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter, her nanny and the pilot were aboard the plane. They were returning to their home in East Hampton, on Long Island, after visiting his house in North Carolina, he said.🚨#WATCH: As a dc resident captured the Sonic boom on a home security camera📌#Washington | #DCEarlier this evening, incredible video was captured on a home security camera showing a loud sonic boom which was caused by fighter jets that quickly took off to intercept an… pic.twitter.com/NYyRpcQPoy— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) June 4, 2023A woman who identified herself as Barbara Rumpel, who is listed as the president of the company in Melbourne, Florida, said she had no comment Sunday when reached by The Associated Press.US President Joe Biden was playing golf at Joint Base Andrews around the time the fighter jet took off. Anthony Guglielmi, spokesperson for the US Secret Service, said the incident had no impact on the president’s movements Sunday. Biden was playing golf at the Maryland military base with his brother in the afternoon.A White House official said: “The President was briefed on the incident. The sound resulting from the authorised DOD aircraft was faint at JBA.” The Pentagon and the DC Air National Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

Plane over Washington causes military jet to scramble; sonic boom heard
Mumbai attacks, US extradition, Pune terror trail -- & a hotel bill of Rs 1,240
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Terror operative David Coleman Headley alias Dawood Gilani is back in the news. A US court has approved India’s request for extradition of his close aide Tahawwur Rana, the Pakistan-born Canadian who was convicted for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.Rana and Headley were arrested in the US in October 2009. Rana was convicted in Chicago in 2011 of providing material support to terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the 26/11 attacks. And Headley, a US citizen born to an American mother and a Pakistani father, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his involvement in the 26/11 attacks.Headley’s role, however, was not just limited to the Mumbai attacks. There is a Pune trail, too, that goes via the Indian Army’s Southern Command, Jewish Chabad House and the popular German Bakery.According to Pune police records, Headley visited Pune twice — in July 2008 and March 2009. Deposing before a special court in Mumbai through video conferencing in February 2016, he claimed that he had surveyed the headquarters of the Southern Command of the Indian Army in March 2009. This operation, he said, was conducted on instructions from a man he identified as Major Iqbal of Pakistan’s ISI. The mission, he said, was to try and recruit sources for classified information. In addition, Headley said he had also conducted recces of Chabad Houses in Pune, Goa and Pushkar in Rajasthan in the ten days he was in India.But that’s not all.Pune Police suspect that during his visit, Headley visited the Railway Locomotive Diesel Shed at the Ghorpadi crossing, which is near the upscale Koregaon Park locality. He also visited the Osho Ashram in Koregaon Park, records show.Intelligence agencies suspect that Headley’s aim was to conduct a survey around Chabad House in Koregaon Park. It is believed he even visited Chabad House posing as a Jewish American. Incidentally, a book titled “How to Pray Like Jew” was recovered from Headley after he was arrested in the US in 2009.There are more details available in records that map Headley’s Pune sojourn.For instance, The Indian Express was the first to report that Headley stayed in Room No. 202 of Hotel Surya Villa in Koregaon Park, a few metres away from Chabad House, in March 2009.According to the “C-form”, which is mandatory for foreigners staying at a hotel in India, Headley checked in at 6.15 am on March 16, 2009, and checked out at 8 am a day later. He had a multiple entry Indian visa issued from Chicago on July 18, 2007, which was valid up to July 17, 2012. On the form, he wrote “180 days” to a query on his duration of stay, and listed the purpose of visit as “tourist”. Strangely, the main register at the hotel carried his purpose of visit as “business”.The hotel’s records also show that Headley stayed in a single occupancy non-AC room with a tariff of Rs 1,200. His total bill at the time of check-out was Rs 1,240. Sources said Headley also filmed a video of German Bakery as it was a popular spot in Pune for Indian and foreign visitors, and had no police security outside.Headley (aged around 63 now), however, was arrested in the US months before the German Bakery blast was executed in February 2010, which killed 17 people. He was not named as an accused in the case.How the German Bakery case was crackedIn September 2010, the Maharashtra ATS arrested Himayat Baig, alleged LeT commander, in this German Bakery case. According to ATS, the blast was the handiwork of LeT and Indian Mujahideen (IM) members. The ATS alleged that Baig was trained in Colombo in March 2008 by LeT operative Fayaz Kagzi and Abu Jundal, both from Beed in Maharashtra and wanted in the Aurangabad RDX seizure case. Baig was accused of executing the German Bakery blast with IM operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Mohsin Choudhary.Abu Jundal was deported from Saudi Arabia to India on June 25, 2012. And, Baig was awarded the death penalty by a Pune court on April 18, 2013 — it was later commuted to life sentence by the Bombay High Court. On August 29, 2013, Yasin Bhatkal was arrested on the India-Nepal border. The trial against him in the bakery case is still on before a special court in Pune.

Mumbai attacks, US extradition, Pune terror trail -- & a hotel bill of Rs 1,240
How having tea with biscuits ups your blood sugar levels, leads to weight gain
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

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.

How having tea with biscuits ups your blood sugar levels, leads to weight gain
BJP, Shiv Sena to jointly contest all future elections in state, including Lok Sabha: CM Eknath Shinde
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced Monday that the Shiv Sena and BJP have decided to jointly contest all elections including the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections, state Assembly and local body polls. This was decided during a meeting between Shinde, Deputy CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, and Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.In a tweet, Shinde said, “It was also decided in this meeting that Shiv Sena and BJP will jointly contest all upcoming elections in the state (including elections to Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, local bodies)”.काल, रविवारी रात्री मी आणि उपमुख्यमंत्री @Dev_Fadnavis यांनी दिल्लीत केंद्रीय गृह आणि सहकार मंत्री @AmitShah यांची भेट घेतली.कृषि, सहकार विभागाशी संबंधित विविध बाबींवर आम्ही चर्चा केली. राज्यात शेतकरी, महिला सक्षमीकरण अशा विविध क्षेत्रात गतीने कामे सुरू असून अनेक रखडलेले… pic.twitter.com/MdLoqiPoy2— Eknath Shinde – एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) June 5, 2023Shinde said that the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance for Maharashtra’s development is “strong”. “In the future, we will contest elections together and win with a majority to make Maharashtra the number one state in the country in all fields, to continue the race of development,” he added.Several issues of the state including agriculture and cooperation were discussed during the meeting with Shah. Shinde said that pending projects in the state have been streamlined now and they are on way to completion.“We have always received guidance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for various projects. We met Shah to discuss issues related to the cooperation sector,” the chief minister said.The visit comes ahead of the completion of one year of Shinde-Fadnavis led government in the state.

BJP, Shiv Sena to jointly contest all future elections in state, including Lok Sabha: CM Eknath Shinde
Anand Mahindra thinks this ‘foldable’ house can offer ‘speed in providing shelter’
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

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”.

Anand Mahindra thinks this ‘foldable’ house can offer ‘speed in providing shelter’
Power of AI: Chef shares image of Mona Lisa enjoying Indian food
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Artificial intelligence-backed software like DALL-E and Midjourney have enabled people to create hyperrealistic but highly imaginative photos within minutes. Now Indian chef and restaurateur Vikas Khanna has jumped on the AI bandwagon.On Saturday, Khanna shared an AI-made image that shows Mona Lisa being seated at a table laden with food. While sharing this image, Khanna wrote, “Ok I did this with AI. Mona Lisa enjoying Indian Food. 😜”.Ok I did this with AI. Mona Lisa enjoying Indian Food. 😜 pic.twitter.com/sCCUZT5K9Z— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) June 3, 2023Commenting on it, a Twitter user wrote, “Indian food is so delicious, I am sure even Monalisa must have liked it. 😊❤️”. Another person wrote, “Looks like Monalisa enjoying the Last supper🤔🤔”. A person observed, “No Samosa, Jalebi ? Disappointed :(( lol”.Mona Lisa has long been a subject of people’s creative projects. In September last year, ReshaWeaves, a fabric company that deals with natural fibre products, shared their online campaign that put Mona Lisa in various Indian weaves. The well-edited and creative campaign presented Mona Lisa with the local names in accordance with the regional handloom saree.The campaign named ‘Mona in Six Yards Across India’, shows Mona Lisa in various avatars such as Maharani Lisa from Rajasthan, Lisa Mol from Kerala, Lisa Tai from Maharashtra, Lisa Devi from Bihar, and Lisa Mami from Tamil Nadu, amongst many others. In one post, they show Mona Lisa’s South Delhi version christened “Lisa Mausi” who is seen in her posh glory with a designer bag, an iPhone, and sunglasses.

Power of AI: Chef shares image of Mona Lisa enjoying Indian food
Plastic recycling is failing – here’s how the world must respond
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Recycling was once considered the obvious solution to the excessive amount of new (or virgin) plastic produced each year. This is no longer realistic. Global recycling capacity simply cannot keep up with the taking, making and wasting of natural resources.Growing mountains of plastic waste are accumulating in the poorest countries as affluent nations such as the UK ship their recycling overseas. But some nations are importing far more plastic waste than they can possibly recycle.The recycling process itself also creates problems. A new report by Greenpeace and the International Pollutants Elimination Network has revealed how plastics which are made with or come into contact with toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants, can contaminate the recycling process by spreading these toxins through subsequent batches of plastic waste.Another recent study showed that recycling facilities can release hundreds of tonnes of microplastics into the environment each year.Only 6-9 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been sent for recycling. Although plastic and other waste is collected for recycling in most countries, the amount of material that is remade into the same or similar products (what is called closed-loop recycling) is extremely low.Only 2 per cent of plastic waste is recycled in a closed loop and not turned into something of lower quality, which is called downcycling.Recycling can not fully replace virgin material as it can only be recycled twice before losing necessary properties, and so most recycling results in a downgraded material that cannot be used for the same purpose.A more sustainable approach would prioritise preventing plastic waste by taking action at earlier stages of a plastic product’s lifecycle: reducing how much plastic is ultimately made, reusing what exists and replacing plastic with alternative materials where appropriate.ReduceManufacturers must stop making so much unnecessary plastic to reduce the amount entering the economy. There is no case for making plastics that are impossible to collect, reuse or recycle, or are toxic. Yet they are abundant: think multi-layered sachets, thin films and wrappers. These should be phased out as a priority.Global caps on plastic production could restrict its use to reusable products and packaging, reducing the pressure on recycling systems.You can refuse single-use packaging when shopping if alternatives are available and affordable. Choose loose vegetables, or products wrapped in packaging that can be refilled.ReuseUsing the plastic you already have for as long as possible reduces the amount of new products and packaging that need to be made and how much waste is ultimately sent for recycling.Roughly 250 billion single-use coffee cups are used worldwide every year – a figure that could be slashed by governments setting national mandates for reusable cups and bottles.This might involve shops, cafés and other venues providing reusable packaging for any products they sell and ensuring each one is used, tracked, washed, returned and replenished for the next consumer cycle.SubstituteMetals, glass, or paper can be used instead of plastic, but there is no universal sustainable alternative. The most appropriate material depends on the item’s use.The environmental consequences of any material should be rigorously assessed across its entire life cycle – from production to use and disposal – to ensure it does more good than harm. And such assessments must consider all social, environmental and economic costs.The true cost of making, distributing and disposing of plastic is estimated to be more than ten times greater than what the customer pays for the product.Including the hidden costs of environmental damage and human misery arising from pollution in the price of virgin plastic, by taxing manufacturers or retailers for instance, could boost the economic case for alternatives.Recycling can still be useful Not all plastics can be reused, especially medical devices. When all alternatives have been exhausted, recycling keeps material in the economy and temporarily delays the need for more virgin plastic.But the existence of recycling shouldn’t justify making more plastic.Recycling must not pollute. Manufacturers should only make plastics which can be recycled via methods proven to be safe and clean, and ban toxic additives.Simple labelling can help consumers make informed decisions about how, where and what to either reuse or recycle, which would help prevent recycling loads becoming contaminated with non-recyclable waste and toxins.Plastics sent for recycling should be treated in the most socially and environmentally responsible way.High-income countries which export waste to poorer countries for cheap recycling do so without guarantees that infrastructure exists to manage this waste where it ends up.The result is waste leaking into the environment, and toxic plastic blocking drainage channels and causing floods. Some of this is burned outdoors, which comes with its own risks to health and the environment. Banning or restricting exports would help.Precarious workers in the informal waste sector collect, sort and sell recyclable materials and carry out 60 per cent of global recycling.Waste reclaimers endure poor health and low pay but their extensive knowledge is invaluable and must be acknowledged. Policies to protect their rights and improve their livelihoods are needed.Countries meeting in Paris for the second of five rounds of negotiations for an international treaty to end plastic pollution will discuss all areas of the plastic lifecycle – from the extraction of material to manufacturing, use and disposal.Banning unnecessary plastics, toxic additives and waste exports should be high on the agenda, along with schemes to encourage reuse and repair.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

Plastic recycling is failing – here’s how the world must respond
Ground-level ozone highest in New Delhi and South Delhi areas from March to May: CSE
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

Parts of New Delhi and South Delhi were worst affected this summer by ground-level ozone pollution, an important pollutant in the summer months, according to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).CSE’s analysis was based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data on ozone levels from 58 stations across Delhi-NCR. Of these stations, Nehru Nagar in South Delhi was found to be the most “chronically affected,” having exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 100 µg/m3 for eight hours, on 75 days from March to May this summer. This was followed by the station at Sri Aurobindo Marg, which exceeded the standard on 65 days, and the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range and Mandir Marg which exceeded the standard on 60 days each.Ozone is produced when oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide, from vehicular emissions and those from industries and power plants, react in the presence of sunlight. With sunlight being key to the formation of ozone, it is found to have a wider spatial spread in hot and sunny weather conditions, particularly in April and May, according to the analysis.Fewer instances of heatwaves in Delhi-NCR this summer have meant that the geographical spread of ground-level ozone pollution has been the lowest in March and April this year when compared to data over the past five years, from 2019 onwards. An “average of around 10 stations have exceeded the standard daily this summer, which is 33 percent lower” compared to previous summers from 2019 onwards, according to the analysis. However, ozone levels exceeded the eight-hour standard for longer this summer—an average of 4.9 hours this summer, having increased from 4.6 hours last summer, and decreased from 5.1 hours in the summer of 2021.High ozone levels can aggravate respiratory issues like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With ozone being a highly reactive gas, it can also inflame the airways and make the lungs susceptible to infection, the analysis mentioned. The impact of ozone on health means that the National Ambient Air Quality Standard has been set for hourly and eight-hourly exposures to ozone, in contrast to standards for pollutants like particulate matter, where standards are set for daily and annual average exposures.The analysis noted that ground-level ozone remains a problem at night as well. “Ground-level ozone should ideally become negligible in the night air but Delhi-NCR has been witnessing a rare phenomenon where ozone levels remain elevated hours after sunset. This was found to be very widespread during the lockdowns of the 2020 summer and it continues to linger this summer as well. This May night-time ozone was noted on 28 days with 3 stations on average reporting it every night,” it explained.Similarly, cold and foggy conditions in the winter can inhibit the formation of ground-level ozone, but ozone levels were found to exceed the standard at multiple stations on 26 days in January this year, according to the analysis, making it a problem that persists all year round.In 2022, ozone levels exceeded the standard on 334 days, while this was 312 days in 2021, 304 days in 2020 and 286 days in 2019.

Ground-level ozone highest in New Delhi and South Delhi areas from March to May: CSE
Miscreants attack Punjab minister Balkar Singh’s pilot vehicle in Jalandhar, detained
The Indian Express | 13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am
The Indian Express
13 hours ago | 05-06-2023 | 11:45 am

The pilot vehicle escorting the newly appointed Punjab Cabinet minister Balkar Singh was allegedly attacked by three or four youths in Jalandhar around 1 am Monday. The incident occurred near Ravidas Chowk when the minister was going towards his residence in Mann Nagar, close to Wadala Chowk.According to police sources, the attackers came in a black luxury car without a registration number. The minister’s pilot vehicle tried to overtake the black car but its driver stopped it in the middle of the road. Three or four youths came out of the car, quarrelled with the minister’s gunmen, who asked the youths to give way for the pilot vehicle to pass, and manhandled them, said police sources.They also allegedly manhandled a policeman on duty near Ravidas Chowk and pelted bricks on the pilot vehicle. The minister came out of his vehicle and pacified the youths who were under the influence of liquor, said the police.Even after the minister went to his residence, the youths followed him and quarrelled with his gunmen outside the building, the police added.The minister then called the police and Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Police-2 (Jalandhar), Aditya, reached the spot, detained the youths and took their vehicle into custody.Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal said the police were investigating the matter and would register a case.

Miscreants attack Punjab minister Balkar Singh’s pilot vehicle in Jalandhar, detained