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LAKSHADWEEP NEEDS PROGRESS, NOT PROTEST

The agitation, currently being waged in the name of ecology, seems politically and communally motivated.

Utpal Kumar

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Change is always opposed. By those who are uncertain about the changes. But more often by those with vested interests. The reaction of the first set of people is spontaneous and can be dealt with much easily by proper dissemination of information. The problem is with the second set of people. For, they know what is right and yet they take a certain stand based on their petty interests.

One finds both sets of people in Lakshadweep, a group of 36 islands off the south-west coast of India, currently simmering with tension over new rules and proposals being introduced by new Administrator Praful K. Patel. On the face of it, the new rules seem perfectly fine as they are aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of residents along with promoting the islands as a tourist destination at par with the Maldives. At a cursory look, equally convincing seem to be the arguments of those opposing the move, who fervently say that, with the new rules in place, the people of the archipelago may, in the short term, face safety and well-being issues, while in the long term, end up being the first internally displaced climate refugees in India.

The devil lies in the details, however. And when one looks at the details closely, one finds that the agitation, currently being waged in the name of ecology, seems politically and communally motivated. For instance, one of the primary reasons for protests is Patel’s decision to ban beef. An innate liberal in an individual would say why dictate food habits, even when the decision is in sync with the Constitution’s Directive Principles and cow protection laws are in place in most states, but how can anyone talking in terms of environment and ecology defend the move? Forget the moralistic stand against slaughtering around 80 billion animals every year for food, the fact that should bother every environment-conscious person is how our obsession with meat is literally drying up the planet. As former JNU professor Amita Singh recently wrote in an article in The Daily Guardian, “To produce one kg of wheat 1,500 litres of water are consumed, while it takes ten times more to produce the same amount of beef. For making 20-30 chapatis or a kilogramme of rice only 2,497 litres or less of water is used but for producing the same amount of beef 15,415 litres and for chicken meat 4,500 litres of water is used. One hamburger alone sucks 212 litres of water and by that standard an average American who consumes around 280 lbs of meat in a year may require 232,000 litres of water per year just to eat a hamburger.”

Now if you are an environmentalist or a climate change warrior, you would be in the forefront to end this business, especially of the beef kind! Provided your arguments are as skewed as those of Greta Thunberg, who makes a career out of global warming and climate change, but supports farm union leaders mostly hailing from two-and-a-half states against the government trying to reform the farm practices in the country, which among other things would have discouraged farmers from stubble burning and also dissuaded them from cultivating water-intensive crops in a dry state like Punjab. One suspects the protest in Lakshadweep is also orchestrated by those who believe that by following the beef ban, they might lose their very identity!

Another point of contention is the decision to allow those with two kids to be eligible to run for public offices in Lakshadweep. Ideally, the decision should be welcomed, given the fact that nothing is pushing the planet as much on the verge of extinction as population explosion. And Lakshadweep won’t be the first place in the country to introduce such a policy. What further makes the protest hollow is that the new rules won’t be applicable with retrospective effect. It is clarified by the UT Administration in this context that when this Panchayat Act is notified, its provisions will only apply to the parents of infants born after the due date of notification.

Not many outsiders, seeking the new Administrator’s head for “ecologically endangering” the already sensitive archipelago, know that electricity for Lakshadweep is produced from diesel generators. This is having a very adverse impact on the environment there. To save the natural environment and to promote green and clean energy, the government has started the process of privatisation for the production of electricity.

As for the issue of safety and well-being of the locals, not very long ago, 300 kg heroin worth Rs 3,000 crore, along with five AK-47 rifles and 1,000 live rounds, were confiscated in Lakshadweep. Many cases of illegal smuggling of marijuana and liquor and POCSO have also been reported there. Given this background, it’s understandable why the introduction of the draft Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Prevention or the Goonda Act is being opposed so fervently. Who will gain out of it? For those trying to peddle the argument that the crime rate on the island has been negligible, the fact is that between 2017 and 2019, Lakshadweep, with the population of 66,000 people, is placed second after Manipur in the rate of crime against the state, the National Crime Records Bureau figures show. Now that’s an area of concern given its strategic location, especially with China and Pakistan already on the hunt.

Other arguments, like those of Malayalam filmmaker Aisha Sultana saying that Covid-19 was being used as a “bio-weapon” against the people of Lakshadweep, for which a case of sedition has been slapped against her, are not even worth considering, given that such an outrageous claim came at a time when the Centre was helping setup two oxygen plants at Agatti and Kavaratti.

However, it is a wrong question to ask: Why are we trying to change Lakshadweep? The question should be: Why did we take so long to bring these changes? In the early 1980s, the Maldives was one of the world’s 20 poorest countries. Within three decades, it not just pushed itself in the middle-income country, but also showed massive improvements in healthcare and education sectors, with a life expectancy of 74.8 and a literacy rate 98.4%.

Lakshadweep, in contrast, remained stuck in a time warp. An archipelago of 36 islands, of which 11 are inhabited with approximately 70,000 people, it has a low per capita income and high unemployment level of 13 per cent, as per the data provided by the UT Administration. Even after seven decades of Independence, net connectivity is in an elementary stage in Lakshadweep, especially at a time when the world is taking a giant online leap forward. So, what should we do? Should we leave these people behind in the name of ecology, while the rest of us in the mainland have all the fun? Isn’t it an elitist mentality on our part as we are continuously exploiting the planet for our whims and fancies but keeping these people in the dark ages in the name of ecology?

As the saying goes, life finds a way, so will these people in the archipelago, even if we close all doors of development. If we don’t give them education and jobs, they will find it through others, directly or indirectly working for those inimical to India’s interests, more so when China and Pakistan are overactive in these waters!

Therefore, when the Prime Minister awards a submarine optical fibre cable project of Rs 1,072 crore, expected to complete by 2023-24, it should be welcomed, for it will help create new opportunities for locals in the field of education, employment and business. When the UT Administration is developing three water villa projects in Minicoy, Kadmat and Suheli in collaboration with NITI Aayog, on the lines of Maldives, it should be hailed, for it will help generate jobs.

Better connectivity has an important role in promotion of tourism and regional development. Until now, only low-capacity aircraft (such as ATR aircraft) were able to land at the Agatti airport, due to which national and international tourists would come in small numbers. The UT Administration has started the process of expansion of the Agatti airstrip in collaboration with the Centre. This will enable big aircraft such as Boeing and Airbus to land there, thus facilitating connectivity and tourism.

Similarly, the islands have great potential in the coconut and fishing sectors. There are around 10.5 lakh coconut trees on the island and about 10.5 crore coconuts are produced annually in the Union Territory. Likewise, Tuna fish are found in abundance in the sea there. Approximately 25,000 metric tons of fish are caught every year, of which 92% are Tuna fish. But due to lack of proper arrangement of ice and fish processing, fishermen do not get fair prices for their catch.

It is no one’s contention that the ecology of the islands must be compromised, but one must realise that this can’t be an excuse to deprive the people of their right to life with basic facilities. As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, madhyam marg (middle path) is the way out. For, during the pandemic, with the disappearance of travellers, and flights and cruise ships on hold, carbon emissions have seen a record drop and wildlife a new leash of life. But, on the flip side, there has a rise in cases of poaching and illegal fishing, especially in developing nations. After all, drying up of money in the tourism sector has badly hit the people with interest in saving the wildlife!

One can take a cue from neighbouring Thailand, a tourist haven which was badly affected by Covid-19. During the pandemic, Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, saw hawksbill turtles take over beaches that in 2018 hosted nearly three million tourists—several environmentalists had in the past written obituaries about turtles ever coming back there! In addition to the sea turtles, elephants, leaf monkeys and dugongs too made a comeback in unlikely places in Thailand. Taking note of this development, the Thai government has decided to shut national parks in stages each year, from two to four months, to help “nature can rehabilitate itself”.

Lakshadweep must follow the middle path of sustainable development. This will be a win-win scenario for everyone. Except those who have vested interests in manufacturing dissent!

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The filched Indian Gems

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Koh-i-Noor

 

Over time, theft of Indian antiquities and diamonds has robbed India of its demarcation as the “Golden Bird,” or Sone Ki Chidiya. Many ancient artefacts vanished when India was still a colony. Here are some of the listed items:

Kohi-i-noor

The renowned Mughal Peacock Throne of Allaudin Khalji was the owner of the Koh-i-Noor. Diamond experts from all around the world refer to it as the “Mountain of Light.” Following the establishment of the East India Company by the British in India in 1849, it was given to Queen Victoria. It is currently kept in the Tower of London’s Jewel House.

 The Ring of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British in a fight in 1799, and after his death, the colonisers took his sword and ring. The ring, which Vijay Mallya had spent a lot of money on, was sold at auction by the British in 2014 for £145,000, while the sword was given back to India.

 The wine cup of Shah Jahan

Colonel Charles Seton Guthrie stole the wine cup that belonged to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the early 19th century and sent it to Britain. The wine cup was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1962, where it is currently displayed.

The Peacock Throne

A well-known peacock throne has also been taken.  According to legend, it served as the sear of the Mughal emperors who conquered North India. This throne was previously located in Delhi’s Red Fort. Shah Jahan, an emperor in the 17th century, constructed this throne specifically for him. This throne was removed by the Persian King Nader Shah in the year 1739.

 The marble idol of Sarswati

The goddess’s marble statue was inscribed in the year 1034 AD. This was the most priceless statue in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhojshala Temple. The statue was eventually misplaced, and in 1886 it was mysteriously discovered in the British Museum.

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The battle without the gun

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5th generation warfare

The 5th Generation Warfare is a covert attempt to paralyse a nation and a battle not on the ground but of strategies to discredit and stymie its growth.The well-described Sun Tzu Strategy is unquestionably proving to be a great approach to debilitate the growth of any country, which lists down five agendas, i.e.,win all without fighting; avoid strength, attack weakness; deception and foreknowledge; speed and preparation; shape your opponent; and character-based leadership.

Daniel Abbot defines the 5th Generation Warfare as the war of “information and perception”  which calls for tactics like social engineering, misinformation and cyber attacks, artificial intelligence and autonomous robots.

The tactic of psychological manipulation in order to decay the intellect, breach privacy, or fleece the people of a country is what can be called social engineering. In recent times, there have been instances where foreign powers have adopted certain methodologies, including baiting, scareware, pretexting, phishing, and spear phishing, to rob the nation.

Deliberately spreading deceptive and misleading information in order to  influence actions and the entire persona in long run is  a commendable tactic to vanquish the enemy nation. Be it fuelling political agenda or be it triggering extremism, misinformation has a vital role to play.

We need to outsmart the strives of the foreign nations to uproot the culture of our country with subtle poisoning of technology along with Cyber attacks and look beyond petty affairs to see the wider picture.

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Indian Embassy in Madagascar decks up with tricolour lights

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As India is celebrating Independence Day on Monday, the Indian Embassy building in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo was seen in the Indian tricolour lights. Meanwhile, Town Hall in Antananarivo also lit up in tricolour on the eve of the 76th anniversary of Independence Day of India.

To commemorate the spirit of Independence, the Embassy of India will organise a flag hoisting ceremony on Monday at the Embassy residence Villa Tanana Finaritra, Analamahintsy, Ivandry. “All members of the Indian community and friends of India are invited to join the celebrations,” the Indian Embassy tweeted.

India and Madagascar share a strong relationship. India is a key trade partner of Madagascar with bilateral trade reaching about 400 million USD in 2020-21.

The ties between the two Indian Ocean neighbours are growing in all spheres. The two countries share healthy and strong ties which are on an upswing and several MoUs in key areas such as health, education, culture, information, and travel have been signed between the two countries.

Meanwhile, in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the Indian national flag does not contain only three colours in it but is a reflection of the pride of our past, our commitment to the present, and our dreams of the future.

Addressing a tiranga rally in Surat via video conferencing, PM Modi recalled that in a few days’ time, India is completing 75 years of its independence and said that all of us are preparing for this historic Independence Day as the Tricolour is hoisted on every corner of the country.

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Celebrating India’s achievements at 75

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Statue of Unity

As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, India has channeled her civilizational strengths and cultural diversity into a brand new shared future, and opportunities for achievement, progress, and prosperity for its billion-plus citizens. Here is a list of what we have achieved since 15 August 1947.

Indian Premier League (IPL)

Indian Premier League (IPL) is an Indian professional T20 cricket league established in 2008. Lalit Modi proposed the idea of IPL and superheaded the IPL effort. It was founded by the Board of Control of Cricket in India in 2007. It is usually held between March and May of every year. In a high-profile ceremony in New Delhi, the first season was slated in 2008. The first season of IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals, captained by Shane Warne. To date, there have been fifteen seasons of the IPL tournament. Moreover, there are 10 teams they are; Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders, Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams representing different Indian cities compete against each other. IPL is the most-attended cricket league in the world which revolutionized the game.

Success of Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has become the best-performing real-time ecosystem in the world with nearly 6 billion transactions a month. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India’s digital economy could create $1 trillion in economic value in 2025. Earlier on 11 April 2016, NPCI conducted a pilot launch with 21 member banks by Dr. Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, RBI at Mumbai. On 25 August 2016 onwards Banks started to upload their UPI-enabled Apps on the Google Play store. These are the top seven UPI apps used in India; Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, BHIM App, Amazon Pay, BHIMSBI Pay, and MobiKwik. Meanwhile, from 21 banks in April 2016, the total number of banks linked to the UPI platform as of Feb 2022 is 304.

Vaccination Drive of India

The ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive in India rolled out the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive. The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India was started on 16 January 2021 across 3006 vaccine centers in all its states and union territories. The vaccination drive in India has been initiated with two types of vaccines: Covishield and Covaxin, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. On the first day itself, 1,65,714 people were vaccinated and were administered to a sanitation worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. As of now, 2,08,25,13,831 vaccines have been administrated to the people. Earlier, on 30 January 2020, India reported its first case of COVID-19 in Kerala.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. The Mangalyaan was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh. For the launch Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 was used. Mangalyaan was the world’s cheapest mission to the red planet which cost just Rs 447.39 crore. “Unlike the Mars mission, which was a one-time project when cleared, the GSAT program envisages launching several more satellites. Therefore, the money saved from its launch is with Isro to be used for future satellites,” a senior official said. The spacecraft instruments which were used are Mars Color Camera, Lyman Alpha Photometer, Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer, and Methane Sensors for Mars.

Statue of Unity

The Statue of Unity is the World’s Tallest Monument and is the most prolific creator in recent times. The Statue of Unity is dedicated to one of India’s founding fathers, and the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with a height of 182 meters. It has been created as a tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’. The Statue of Unity is divided into 5 zones out of which 3 are accessible to the general public. It can accommodate 200 visitors at a time and location at a height of 153 meters. It is located at Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Kevadia, Gujarat.

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The battle of freedom

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S C bose

In the path of achieving freedom, there have been several instances that let us hold our heads high. Every day had been a battle to expel the anarchist Britishers. Here is a list of the days that helped make August 15, 1947, happen.

Swadeshi Movement

The British Viceroy, Lord Curzon, with the aim of weakening the unity and curbing the Nationalist movement, devised a scheme to separate Bengal and reorganise the territorial distributions dividing the Hindus and Muslims in 1905. The “Boycott” resolution was adopted at a conference held at the Calcutta Town Hall on August 7, 1905, thus establishing the Swadeshi movement and bringing its previously fragmented leadership under one leadership. A hartal and a day of sorrow were called in Calcutta on October 16, 1905, the day the division came into effect. People observed a fast, and the kitchen hearth was left unlit. Hindus and Muslims tie Rakhis to each other to symbolise unity. It was successful and the partition had to be annulled.

Azad Hind Bharat

On December 30, 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose hoisted the Indian flag at the Gymkhana ground in Port Blair and declared the island to be independent when the entire nation was clutched under British rule. He further renamed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as Shaheed and Swaraj to mark the establishment of the Azad Hind Government, which also had its own currency and stamps. Upon raising the Azad Hind flag, Bose, the leader of the Azad Hind Provisional Government, also kept his word that the Indian National Army would be standing on Indian land by the end of 1943.

Champaran Satyagrah

The peasants in the Champaran district of Bihar were made to endure unimaginable hardships when Europeans compelled them to plant indigo, a blue dye. They weren’t paid enough for the indigo, and they couldn’t cultivate the food they needed. Tired of the agony, the peasants turned to Gandhi. As Gandhi’s first Satyagraha movement in India, the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 is regarded as a pivotal uprising in the history of the Indian Independence Movement.

Civil Disobedience movement

Civil disobedience, also known as passive resistance, is the act of refusing to comply with the requests or orders of a government or occupying power without using force or other aggressive forms of resistance. Its typical goal is to pressure the government or occupying power into making concessions. On April 6, 1930, M.K. Gandhi started the Civil Disobedience Movement by breaking the government’s salt law by picking up a handful of salt after finishing the illustrious “Dandi March” from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi. He served as the movement’s inspiration and helped to mobilise the population in the liberation battle. Due to the disregard for the salt law, the Civil Disobedience Movement expanded across the nation.

Quit India Movement

August Kranti or the August Movement are other names for the Quit India movement. Mahatma Gandhi began the “do or die” Bharat Chhodo Andolan, often known as the Quit India movement, on August 8, 1942. All of the Congress Working Committee members began to be arrested on August 9 as soon as the movement began. While being placed under house imprisonment, Mahatma Gandhi was brought to Ahmednagar Fort. Approximately 940 persons lost their lives as a result of the British’s harshness during this nonviolent campaign. There were also 1630 injuries. More than 60 000 activists were detained at the same time. However, this movement brought the nation together.

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‘We Women Want’: Fitness on agenda

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Clinical nutritionist Dr Ishi Khosla, Fitness Expert Vesna Jacob and Dr Rita Punhani IVF Specialist of Indira IVF appeared on ‘We Women Want’ to discuss fitness tips and bust some diet myths.

The panel stressed that it is important to monitor what you eat but also the timing of the meal. Diet such as intermittent fasting and Ketos were discussed with their pros and cons. An important point was also made regarding fitness that its best to exercise when you can even if its for ten minutes and not wait for the half hour – forty minute slot for a warm up. For as Vesna Jacob said our body is primed to be active, the primitive man did not see a tiger and then say wait let me first warm up before I defend myself. Dr Punhani pointed out how a good diet is essential for a woman’s health in various stages of her life from maturity to motherhood to menopause while Dr Khosla talked of the importance of gut health. The show was moderated by Priya Sahgal, Senior Executive Editor ITV Network.

Catch fresh episodes of ‘We Women Want’ every Saturday at 7:30 PM on NewsX. The program will also streamed live on major OTT platforms- Dailyhunt, Zee5, MX Player, ShemarooMe, Watcho, Mzaalo, Jio TV, Tata Play and PayTm livestreams.

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