A panel under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has cleared a key stretch of a major ‘coastal road’ project in Mumbai that will reportedly significantly de-congest the city’s traffic. The go-ahead was given by the Expert Appraisal Committee for Coastal Regulation Zone.The proposed 35 km coastal road has been divided into two parts, a northern and southern stretch. The latter will connect the Princess Street Flyover to the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. It, however, requires reclaiming about 90 hectares of land from the sea and, therefore, as per environment regulations, needs to be cleared by a central authority.On March 17, the Central expert appraisal committee, headed by Deepak Apte of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), had said the project could go ahead provided the coastal road was toll free, did not affect tidal behaviour, that the reclaimed land would not be used to build houses and offices, any resulting open spaces would be free of encroachment, fishermen would be resettled in the area if they were affected, and a dedicated bus lane would be created.The minutes of the meeting were made public on Friday.30-km projectThe Coastal Road-Mumbai (South) will have bridges over the sea, tunnels (two tubes, each of about 3.452 km in length) and elevated roads, and will be a 9.98 km-stretch that will cost ₹5,303 crore. The 30-km project is cumulatively expected to cost ₹12,000 crore.According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the proposed southern stretch of the coastal road will reduce commuting time by around 70%, slash fuel consumption by 34% and cut carbon footprint by about 1,826 tonnes of CO2 per annum.Though the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party government has claimed that the project would be ready by 2019, The Hindu reported last month that the much-delayed project was likely to move again following Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s visit to Union Environment Minister Anil Dave.In January 2016, the BMC presented the application for CRZ clearance to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) with an estimated cost of ₹14,153 crore for an approximate length of 33.77 km. By the time MCZMA recommended the proposal, the total length was reduced to 30.07 km. In its recommendation to the MoEFCC, the MCZMA has put forward 28 specific conditions. It has specifically asked the BMC to take high court permission before clearing mangroves, if any.Impact on fisherfolkIt has also observed that the coastal road will have an impact on the nearby habitats of traditional coastal communities. It has asked the civic body to ensure navigational channels are not blocked in koliwada (fishing village) areas and that fishing activity is not hampered.
A German national was allegedly beaten by a railway contractor at the Robertsganj railway station in the district, police said on SundayThe incident comes days after a Swiss couple were attacked near the railway station at Agra’s Fatehpur Sikri.Holger Ereek was allegedly beaten by railway contractor Aman Kumar on Saturday after which the station master informed the police. Circle officer Vivekanand Tiwari said that the accused has been arrested.However, the railway contractor alleged that when he greeted Ereek by saying “welcome to India”, he hit him. The victim refused to talk to the media.Not the first incidentOn October 22, the Swiss couple from Lausanne in Switzerland, Quentin Jeremy Clerc (24) and his girlfriend Marie Droz (24), was chased and attacked with stones and sticks by a group of five youths in Fatehpur Sikri, triggering widespread outrage.The couple was quoted as saying in a media report that they were strolling near the station at Fatehpur Sikri after a day in Agra when a group of youths started following them and later attacked.The couple said as they lay on the ground bloodied and bruised, bystanders began taking videos of them on their mobile phones, the report said. All the accused were arrested and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had sought a report from the UP government on the attack.Union Minister of State for Tourism K.J Alphons had written to State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saying the incident could have a negative impact on the image of the country.UP Director General of Police Sulkhan Singh had issued a list of guidelines, including deployment of policemen in plain clothes, more patrolling and installation of CCTV cameras, to prevent such incidents.The couple were also offered a free stay in 5-star hotel in the national capital as a “token of concern” by Mr. Alphons.
Millions of people in Assam on Sunday lived through the “the stroke of midnight”, to use Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s immortal words, as the Assam government published the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State. While the document is meant to establish the credentials of a bona fide citizen, there are several questions surrounding the NRC. Here is a brief list of FAQs on the NRC.Why was it necessary to bring out an NRC in Assam?The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).However, successive State governments failed to achieve much progress in detecting and deporting foreigners as set out in the Assam Accord. In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India.Though the Gogoi government had started the NRC update as a pilot project in some districts, it was stopped after violence broke out in some parts of the State.In July 2009, Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, petitioned the Supreme Court for identification of Bangladeshi foreigners in the State and deletion of their names from the voters’ list.What will happen to those persons who don’t find their names in the draft register published on Monday?The list published on Monday is the first draft of the updated NRC. Another list is expected by February-end or early March, with more names and details.However, if a citizen’s name is missing, he or she can file an objection and request that the name be included after submitting the requisite documents to the NRC centre or online on the website www.nrcassam. nic.inIs there a possibility of violence in the State if a large number of people don’t find their names in the register?The Assam government did fear violence and hence requisitioned over 20,000 paramilitary personnel and requested the Army to be on standby to deal with any law-and-order issue.However, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said people, irrespective of their caste or religion, had taken part in the process and expressed confidence that the NRC update will not result in violence.The security challenge, however, will emerge only when the process of updating the NRC gets completed and a large number of people are left out.Is the NRC a court-mandated exercise?Yes, the publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017 was ordered by the Supreme Court.The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting Bangladeshis.Should persons of Assam living in other parts of the country also have their names in the register?NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be distinguished from a foreigner.If a person from Assam is living or working in another part of the country, it is advisable to get oneself registered and establish one’s legacy as an “inhabitant” of Assam.
The growth of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the Left Front and the Congress continues unabated in West Bengal. While TMC’s seat share went up to 66% in the 2018 Bengal panchayat elections from 52% in 2013, the BJP’s share grew by 17% at the Gram Panchayat (GP) level in the three-tier rural polls. The seat share at the GP level provides a very clear picture of the political scene in rural Bengal where 74% of the State’s electorate reside. A similar trend was noticed in nearly all the recent elections and by-polls.The saffron party got a little over 1% seats in 2013 at the GP level. In this week’s panchayat elections, the BJP bagged more than 18% seats in an election process marred by violence. Even after the Opposition could not field a candidate in about one-third of the seats, the BJP’s vote share increased significantly. On the other hand, the Left Front’s seat share dropped noticeably.The Left Front got marginally over 32% seats in the panchayat polls of 2013 at the GP level, which was nearly a 20% drop from that in 2008. In 2018, the seat share has reached its nadir. The Left Front got 5% seats, according to the data released by the State Election Commission [SEC] on Friday night. The Congress’s seat share has come down to 3% from 11%.Infact, the seat share of the Independent candidates was more than the Left Front or the Congress at the GP level. The reason, as it appeared on Friday, is that the Independent candidates, who belong to the one or the other factions of the ruling party in most of the cases, have won in many seats defeating the “official” TMC candidate. Realising that many of the Independent candidates are affiliated to the TMC, party chief Mamata Banerjee indicated on Thursday that they will eventually be brought back to the party fold. However, Independent candidates defeating the Left and the Congress has been described as “a unique development” in Bengal politics.While BJP got 12% and 3.5% seats at the Panchayat Samity (PS) and Zilla Parishad (ZP) level respectively, the Left Front got 2% and less than 1% at the PS and ZP levels. The Congress, too, has nearly been decimated at PS and ZP level.
Shujaat case suspect a tough nut to crack PDP and BJP: A Bollywood style break-up, says Omar Abdullah Several separatist leaders in Kashmir, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik, were detained on Thursday to prevent their Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) from holding a protest march and observing a general strike against the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari The detentions come amid concerns in several quarters that the Union government was preparing the State administration to carry out an aggressive crackdown in the Valley.Also Read One must not form the government just to wield power: Ambika Soni While Mr. Malik was detained from his Maisuma residence after the Fajr prayers and taken to a police station, Mr. Geelani, the Mirwaiz and Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai were put under house arrest.Political vendetta, says the Mirwaiz“This is nothing but political vendetta. The Hurriyat strongly protests the re-starting of cordon and search operations,” said the Mirwaiz.Governor N.N. Vohra called a meeting of the leaders of all political parties, including the State units of the national parties, on Friday evening “to discuss the situation in the State.”BJP national vice president Avinash Rai Khanna called on Mr. Vohra and discussed “steps required for promoting the welfare of the people in all the three regions.”Also Read “We have a seen a significant change in the local responses. We have had families celebrating killed militants, including a mother firing in the air to celebrate her son’s death. To me the mood is quite like that of the early 90s,” warned a veteran Kashmir observer within the system. He pointed out that for each local youth killed more would join the militant ranks.‘131 militants are locals’“We are no more dealing with anonymous foreign terrorists. We are dealing with local boys,” he said. Of the 144 active militants in South Kashmir, 131 are locals, according to official data. Only 13 are foreigners. And between January 1 and May 31, almost 90 locals have taken up arms.Several sources in the security establishment say they are expecting a massive jump in violence. “Unless the Centre changes the present tactics, the Valley will go up in flames,” a recently retired intelligence officer said. Many political appointees in the previous PDP-BJP dispensation, including Advocate General Jehangeer Ganai, resigned from their posts on Thursday.A day after the Central government appointed two key officials involved in anti-naxal operations — Chhattisgarh Additional Chief Secretary (Home) BVR Subrahmanyam and retired IPS officer K. Vijay Kumar who was until recently adviser in the Home Ministry — Mr. Vohra said his priority would be to restore peace and tranquillity on the streets of Kashmir, admitting that the youth of Kashmir are annoyed.However, many within the security establishment believe that the new appointments to steer the Governor’s rule are clear indications of a tougher, more security-oriented approach. They warn that the present localised militancy could produce an unexpected backlash.Also Read
Two persons died, while two others were injured after a few youths opened fired at the staff in a garment shop in a mall in Varanasi over a dispute on Wednesday, police said.The incident took place at the JHV shopping mall in the high-security Cantonment area of the Uttar Pradesh city. The suspects, alleged to be students of the Kashi Vidyapeeth University, have been identified. The three suspects entered the branded apparel store and one of them, identified as Alok Upadhyay, inquired about a salesman named Prashant. The suspect then got involved in a brawl with the other staff but was soon overpowered. A country-made pistol he was carrying was also snatched away, said a witness. Vivek Tripathi, UP police spokesperson, said after finding their friend overpowered, the other two youths tried to rescue him and fired shots at the salesmen and in the air.Two persons, Gopi Kanaujia and Sunil Kumar, died of bullet injuries, while Vishal Singh and Chandan Sharma, were admitted to hospital and are said to be stable, police said.”They also fired shots indiscriminately in the mall, after exiting the store,” said one of the witnesses. While initially police was told that the firing was triggered by a dispute over discount, a police statement in the evening hinted at a personal enmity.As per the police, the main accused Alok Upadhyay had a dispute with one of the salesmen Prashant over his friendship with a female staff at the store. The witness also said that the accused had once already assaulted the salesman outside the mall.Inspector General, Varanasi, Vijay Singh Meena, said the CCTV footage of the mall was being examined. The police is investigating how the three suspects managed to bring in weapons into the mall as frisking is done at the entry.
The Calangute police in North coastal Goa on Tuesday arrested a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan, Rajvir Prabhudayal Singh, for outraging the modesty of a woman.Jivba Dalvi, Police Inspector-in-charge of Calangute police station, said that a complaint was received from a lady from Mumbai who was sea-bathing along with her husband and kids at Calangute beach on Tuesday at around 4 p.m. Mr. Singh, who was also sea-bathing nearby, approached the lady, allegedly touched her inappropriately and abused her with vulgar words, thereby outraging her modesty.Further, when the lady’s husband questioned the accused, Mr. Singh assaulted him with fist blows.The police registered an offence Under Section 354-A, 323 of the Indian Penal Code and during the investigation the accused was arrested.During the investigation, it was revealed that the accused, 43, from Dhimwali in Rajasthan, is posted as a Hawaldar in the CRPF and is currently deployed at Recruit Training Centre in Madhya Pradesh, police said.
Bollywood actor Sunny Leone could be working as a junior engineer for the Bihar government.If the list of candidates who had applied for about 200 posts, uploaded on the website of the Public Health Engineering Departments website, is to be believed the name of the Canadian-born film actor figures as the top ranker with 98.50 points.Bollywood actor Sunny Leone has topped the merit list released by the Bihar Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) for the post of junior engineers with 98.50 points. The actress said in her tweet that she was glad that the “other” her has scored so well.Earlier between January 15-31’ 2019 the Bihar PHED had invited online application for the post of 214 junior engineers (civil) based on marks of their diploma in engineering. As many as 17, 911 candidates applied for exam and out of them 642 were short listed for the next round of scrutiny. Sunny Leone with 98.50 points — 73.50 points on her academic record and 25 points on her experience — topped the list released on Tuesday at phed.bih.nic.in, official website of the PHED. Her father’s name is registered as Leona Leona. The other candidate named, “bvcxzbnnb” with his father’s name as “mggvghhnnnn” with 92.89 points have come on third rank in the list. He comes from the Extremely Backward Class (EBC) category while, Sunny Leone is registered in General category.The Bollywood actor, meanwhile, tweeted to say she was glad that the “Other” her has scored so well. “Hahaha, I’m so glad that the OTHER me has scored so well !!!!!lol…”, tweeted Sunny Leone.But, the PHED official Ashok Kumar told journalists that “someone must have done a mischief and we’ll find it out in scrutiny of the list”. “It’s a provisional list based on the online data received by the candidates…no data has been entered by the department…we’ll scrutiny the list and find out the mischief”, he said. The PHED minister Vinod Narayan Jha too said that it was not the result but a provisional list. “When we’ll ask the candidate to come with their documents to prove their authenticity such mischief will be rectified”, he said. Meanwhile, the department has given a window to candidates to correct the information given in their application till February 24, 2019.
Two cousins are fighting it out as the candidates of rivals Congress and BJP on Rajasthan’s Bikaner Lok Sabha seat. Both the candidates have served the government as civil servants in the past, while the elder one is at present a Union Minister. The younger cousin has made a debut in politics after taking voluntary retirement from the Indian Police Service.Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal is contesting as the BJP candidate for the third time, while his cousin Madan Gopal Meghwal is a Congress candidate for the first time. Mr. Arjun Ram had entered politics in 2009 after resigning from the Indian Administrative Service and won the Bikaner Lok Sabha seat.Mr. Madan Gopal, who left IPS before the 2018 Assembly election and unsuccessfully tried for a Congress ticket from Bikaner’s Khajuwala seat, has received support from an unexpected quarter in the Lok Sabha poll. Veteran Rajput leader of the BJP, Devi Singh Bhati, who has quit the party in protest against the ticket being given to Mr. Arjun Ram, has extended his support to the Congress.BJP State president Madan Lal Saini accepted Mr. Bhati’s resignation on Friday. Mr. Bhati, a seven-time MLA from Kolayat, had alleged that Mr. Arjun Ram’s political activities had harmed the party and led to its defeat in the Assembly election.While Mr. Madan Gopal affirms that he respects Mr. Arjun Ram as his elder cousin despite differences in their political ideologies, Mr. Bhati’s supporters have disrupted the latter’s public meetings several times during the ongoing election campaign. On Thursday, Mr. Bhati’s supporters showed black flags and raised slogans at a meeting, after which they reportedly clashed with the BJP workers in Bikaner city.The Bikaner seat has been a stronghold of the BJP since 2004, when film actor Dharmendra won it on the party’s ticket. It was reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the 2009 delimitation exercise, after which the caste equations changed and the Dalits and the OBCs shifted towards the Congress.The upper castes, which are in a sizeable number in the constituency, are reportedly unhappy with Mr. Arjun Ram following his support to the April 2, 2018, agitation of Dalits against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Mr. Arjun Ram was accused of inciting violence in Bikaner district during the protest.
Monogamy May Have Evolved to Prevent InfanticideHuman males and females have a strong tendency to live together in monogamous pairs, albeit for highly varied periods of time and degrees of fidelity. Just how such behavior arose has been the topic of much debate among researchers. A new study comes to a startling conclusion: Among primates, including perhaps humans, monogamy evolved because it protected infants from being killed by rival males.Obama’s Nominee for NSF Director Explains Why She Said YesSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)President Barack Obama this week nominated France Córdova, a 65-year-old astrophysicist, to become the second woman, and first Latina, to lead the $7 billion National Science Foundation. In an exclusive interview with ScienceInsider, she’s refreshingly candid about why she decided to add another chapter to her illustrious career as an academic scientist, university administrator, and public servant.Déjà Vu: Second Probe Finds Problems With Hypertension Drug TrialsClaims made for the beneficial effects of a leading hypertension drug continue to unravel. A second medical school in Japan has found data manipulation and an undisclosed conflict of interest in a paper resulting from a large clinical trial of valsartan, which was originally approved in Japan for the treatment of high blood pressure in 2000. However, an investigative committee later found that a substantial amount of data from postmarketing clinical trials did not match patient records, indicating deliberate manipulation.Waking Up Tired? Blame ElectricityOur internal clocks are drifting out of sync, and indoor lighting may be to blame. A new study suggests that just a few days in the great outdoors puts us back in tune with the solar cycle, and reconnecting with the sun could make us less drowsy.’Llullaillaco Maiden’ May Have Been Drugged Before SacrificedMore than 500 years ago, three children climbed Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina and never came down, the probable victims of human sacrifice. Since their well-preserved mummies were discovered in 1999, scientists have studied them in hopes of reconstructing the last months of their lives. New evidence shows that all three regularly ingested coca and alcohol and suggests that the drugs might have played a more-than-ceremonial role in their deaths.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—The Australian agency tasked with managing the Great Barrier Reef has authorized what amounts to an experiment opposed by many scientists: how the iconic ecosystem will respond to mountains of sludge dumped into the waters between the reef and the Australian mainland. On Friday, the federal Marine Park Authority paved the way for development of one of the world’s largest coal ports by approving the dumping of up to 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoils inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site.The decision is “unscientific” and “shortsighted,” fumes Matt Landos, a fisheries veterinarian at the University of Sydney. He and other critics contend that the dumping will harm the sensitive ecosystem by smothering corals and seagrasses and exposing marine mammals and other organisms to toxic substances. It may also extract a political cost as well: The decision increases the likelihood that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will list the reef as “in danger” in May ahead of its upcoming meeting in Doha in June, Landos says. The listing would not trigger sanctions, he says, but it would be an embarrassment for Australia.Last month, federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt signed off on the venture, in which North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp. (NQBP) would dredge at Abbot Point—located near Bowen, Queensland, midway along the reef—and dump the spoils 25 kilometers offshore, inside the marine park. Critics had hoped the Marine Park Authority would take a dimmer view. They were wrong. “I was devastated,” says Selina Ward, a coral reef biologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Hoping to persuade the authority to reconsider, Ward initiated a group letter outlining what she and others say are the plan’s scientific flaws. Signed by roughly 240 Australian scientists, the letter asserts that the best available science—including a recent report commissioned by the Marine Park Authority in which modeling showed that sediment could spread up to 80 kilometers from the dump site—makes it “very clear” that the dredging will harm the Great Barrier Reef. As a worrying precedent, they point to Gladstone Harbor, at the southern end of the reef. Dredging south of the harbor in 2010 and 2011 released copper, zinc, and arsenic into the water column; the deaths of dolphins, dugongs, turtles, and seagrasses were directly linked to heavy metal toxicity, Landos says.Environmental scientist Jon Brodie of James Cook University in Townsville says the authority should consider mandating construction of a protective dyke at the dredging site for storage of dredge spoils. In a press statement on Friday, Bruce Elliot, the Marine Park Authority’s biodiversity manager, said that the authority acknowledges the concerns of scientists and would support an alternative option should NQBP propose one.
It may be an awkward question, but male St. Andrew’s Cross spiders (Argiope keyserlingi) need to know how many partners their potential mate has already had sex with. Females have two vaginalike receptacles, placed side by side, in which males deposit sperm using two penislike palps. To prevent others from copulating with a former love, males will break off a palp after copulation and permanently seal the female’s genital orifice. When a male loses a palp, he can have sex again only if his last sex organ aligns with a partner’s unfilled genital opening—a left-sided phallus couples with a left-sided “vagina,” for example. If a male (smaller spider shown above) approaches an incompatible female or one that’s been plugged twice, he not only wastes time, but he also runs the risk of being cannibalized by a pregnant and hungry lady spider. But males aren’t clueless to a beloved’s former promiscuity, according to a report published this week in Behavioral Ecology. A suitor was placed on a wooden peg linked by silk strands to the webs of two prospective paramours. Males used pheromones on the silk to detect how many previous partners the females had, and chose those with only one former lover 75% to 90% of the time over females that had mated twice. When deciding between two females that had mated once, however, males couldn’t distinguish which genital opening was available based on pheromones alone, meaning their “spidey sense” had its limits. In a third experiment, virgin males with two palps were presented with a virgin female, but interestingly, they never mated twice, opting to save a palp for a future mistress. These findings suggest that A. keyserlingi males have adapted to be polyamorous, the researchers say, unlike other Argiope species, which tend toward monogamy.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
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The Indian government has decided to waive emergency certificate fee for Indian amnesty-seekers till October 31. In a press release issued on Friday, the government of India announced that the Dh60 fee for issuance of emergency certificate (outpass) and Dh9 service fee will not be charged during the three-month amnesty announced by the UAE Government.Read it at Gulf News Related Items
The promise of dual citizenship was nothing short of calculated political deception by the Indian government. Overseas Indians who have been anxiously awaiting the introduction of dual citizenship relax. You have been had.After tantalizing Indians in the diaspora for two years with its much-ballyhooed promise of dual citizenship, the Indian government has finally adopted rules governing what is now described as “overseas Indian citizenship,” which explicitly rule out the original promise of both dual nationality and dual citizenship.Just so there is no mistaking of the new rules, applicants will not even get a passport. What they will receive – get this – is a certificate, and not a particularly attractive one at that.As presently formulated, overseas Indian citizenship is nothing but a glorified PIO Card scheme, which was introduced to an resounding thud a few years earlier. In one important respect, overseas Indian Citizenship offers less than even the PIO Card, which was modeled after the U.S. Green Card. The Indian Embassy explains the distinction, “The essential difference between PIO Card and Registration Certificate is that while a PIO Card can also be used as a travel document, the Registration Certificate cannot be so used.”After tantalizing Indians in the diaspora for two years with its much-ballyhooed promise of dual citizenship, the Indian government has finally adopted rules governing what is now described as “overseas Indian citizenship,” which explicitly rule out the original promise of both dual nationality and dual citizenship. The certificate is likely to meet the same dismal fate as the PIO Card, which had but a handful of takers from among the 22 million overseas Indians worldwide.The Indian government has provided no explanation why dual citizenship, one of the central recommendations of the LM Singhvi Committee on the Indian Diaspora, was quietly abandoned. As recently as a week before the announcement of the rules on the overseas Indian citizenship certificate, several Indian leaders, including Jagdish Tytler, minister of state for Overseas Indian Affairs, as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were touting dual citizenship among overseas Indian communities in Europe and America. Citizenship rules are ultimately within the province of the home ministry, which is headed by Shivraj V. Patil. Clearly both Tytler and Singh were blindsided by the new home ministry policy.Overseas Indians might not have been as disappointed had they not been strung along these past two years into the delusion that dual citizenship was at hand. The promise was made with much fanfare at the first Pravasi Divas by then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in January 2003 and reaffirmed at the second Pravasi Divas in January 2004, soon after parliament passed revisions to the citizenship act.It is now clear that the earlier promises were nothing short of calculated political deception, which is what makes it particularly hard to take. The government’s embarassment at its failure to deliver on its most visible promise to the Diaspora is reflected in the secrecy under which the rules were adopted. There were no blaring headlines, just quiet communiques to Indian embassies worldwide. And no government official seemed prepared to step forward to respond to Little India’s inquiries on the new rules.The overseas Indian community is faced with two options. We should weigh a legal challenge to the current policy requiring us to surrender our Indian citizenship when we acquire foreign citizenship. A plausible legal case can be developed that the Indian government cannot strip an Indian citizen of his citizenship under either the Indian constitution or the revised Citizenship Act.The second option is political. Overseas Indians attending the Pravasi Bhartitya Divas in Mumbai in January 2005 should plan a dharna when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Abdul Kalam make their appearance at the event. We may not succeed in securing dual citizenship, but we can at least demonstrate that the uniquely Indian political tactic finessed by the most famous of all overseas Indians, Mahatma Gandhi, still flows in our veins. Related Items
In the Kingdom of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai may be King and Queen and Amitabh Bachchan the Maha-Emperor, but in reality where does the power really lie? Who calls the shots, who is the real life-blood of that unreal temple of Bollywood?You may be surprised to learn it’s you, me and the chap searching for samosas at the concession stand and yes, also that entire family (father, mother and two kids) who have journeyed on their Bajaj scooter in Lucknow or their dust gold Toyota van in Edison, N.J., or San Jose, Calif., to catch the latest Hrithik Roshan starrer.In fact, there are millions and millions of Bollywood Bhakts or devotees, spread all over the world from India to Pakistan to Russia to the United States. If Bollywood were an organized religion, the Bollywood Bhakts would make it the most revered church in history with their total, undying devotion.Vinay Srivastava, who has taught film studies at the State University of San Francisco, aptly compared this fervent devotion to the Bhakti Movement, albeit tongue in cheek: “We have this tradition of hero worship and it continues to this day. We used to have this in Hollywood too in the 30’s and 40’s, but it declined in the 50’s. In India it persists and we do worship special characters.“Even in politics, one family ruled for a long time, not because of any special characteristics, but because we love to give divine status to one important person. The same hero worship is transferred to film heroes and heroines.” Aishwrya Rai in concert Film critic Maithili Rao also describes this phenomenon in her book, Bollywood: “Film stars have been the unifying icons in a country starved of role models, particularly in the post-independent days of cynical disillusionment.”Thus you have Amitabh Bachchan turned into a virtual god by legions of passionate fans. When the superstar was injured on the film sets of ‘Coolie’ in 1982, India’s collective heart missed a beat. Hundreds of thousands of fans mobbed the Breach Candy Hospital, some offering their blood, others their prayers. Even the prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, came to the star’s bedside. Amitabh’s critical condition had some distraught fans trying to commit suicide while one enterprising fan actually ran backwards for 550 kms in a novel form of penance to appease the Gods.Surely the award for most devoted Bollywood Bhakt has to go to A.B.Kamat, the general secretary of the Amitabh Bachchan Fan Association in Calcutta, who has ambitions of building an Amitabh Temple and held huge pujas as part of an 11 day Amitabh Mahotsav in 2001. He was quoted in the media at the time, “The traditional Hindu way of worship began around 8:30 a.m. First Lord Ganesh (the elephant god) was worshipped, then Lord Narayan and finally god Amitabh Bachchan.” The magnum-opus Mughal-e-Azam , which chronicled the ultimate romance between a prince and a courtesan and the clash of love and duty has been re-released in color.Media reports noted that six Hindu priests conducted the ceremony, chanting from scriptures before a huge garlanded photograph of a young Amitabh at the ABFA Club in the Dum Dum neighborhood. Photographs of the Hindu gods Ganesh and Narayan were part of the pantheon along with those of the film god, and a sculptor had been commissioned to build a 12-foot plaster of paris bust of the superstar for the ceremony. Plans were afoot to build an Amitabh Temple where an idol of the super star would be installed and religious hymns would be substituted with the chanting of dialogues from his famous movies.Now, if this isn’t bhakti, what is?The devotion comes in many forms and Amitabh’s recent visit to New York for a retrospective of his films had the entire South Asian community a-buzz. While he is hardly known to mainstream Americans, the 1,100 seat Alice Tully Hall was quickly sold out at $60 a pop, for a “darshan” of the star. The films were sparsely attended by the South Asian community, after all, they had probably seen them so many times they could recite them backwards. But they certainly turned out in full force for this live viewing, setting off on a teerth yatra or pilgrimage from all over the tri-state area, with grandparents, parents, children and even babies in tow.And being in that huge hall with Amitabh enthroned on the stage was no less than being at a religious revival. The first time he opened his mouth to greet the audience in his rich baritone, the crowd went wild. Clips of his films were met with howls, whistles and claps. Although cameras were banned in the auditorium, hundreds of flashes went off from digital cameras and camera cell phones. Scene from latest Amitabh Bachchan thriller Waqt No rules could come between Amitabh and his devotees. And the babies seemed to bowl their appreciation too.During Q&A, people in the crowd threw etiquette to the wind and shouted out questions simultaneously, bubbling over, asking if they could come up to shake his hand, yelling in unison, “We love you!”And this was a group of well-heeled, savvy, upscale, even suburban Indians. It was obvious that although Amitabh had never set eyes on them, he was a part of their family, a part of their lives. They jostled him with verbal embraces and exclamations of love that comes from the intimate familiarity one would have for a dearly loved family member. Decorous Alice Tully Hall had probably never seen such an exuberant outpouring.The Hindi film aesthetic connects villages and big cities, rural communities and sophisticated urbanites and in fact has been doing so for over 100 years, long before it got nicknamed Bollywood. The Indian frenzy for films and stars has been captured in Jonathan Torgovnik’s splendid book of images, Bollywood Dreams, which reveals the hold cinema has on the masses – right from the larger-than-life hoardings of Bollywood films that tower over mortals, almost like gigantic statues of Gods in ancient Egypt, to the lines of ordinary people waiting to buy a ticket for a cinematic entrée into a dream world. Film producers embraced diasporic fans by integrating them into Bollywood in film stories such as the highly popular Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge..Nasreen Munni Kabir, the UK based film expert, explored the Bollywood bhakti phenomenon in her essay in Torgovnik’s book. She says the early theatrical forms, such as Ram Leela and Ras Leela, the exploits of the gods, had a great impact on the evolution of Indian cinema. Early films from 1913 onwards were shown in villages and small towns in tents, close to the temple, and were visited right after prayers. “Such devotion can still be seen in the hero worship accorded to Bollywood stars. People want to act, talk and look like their idols. Barbers down the decades have been asked to give their customers an Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar or Shahrukh Khan cut and tailors have been told to copy the clothes of the beautiful Madhubala or Aishwarya Rai.”Stars may be ordinary mortals in real life, but the giant screens give them a larger than life persona and Bollywood cinema is an intriguing canvas with its potent mix of music, stars, drama, dance, lavish costumes and sets. Kabir says Hindi films take on the grand themes – redemption, survival against the odds, the importance of honor and self-respect, and the mission to uphold religious and moral values, something which Hollywood does only rarely now.“Not so in India, where film directors routinely tackle the big questions head on, even when making a formulaic run-of-the-mill entertainer. It is this particular kind of story-telling that has offered people of Indian origin their most beloved form of popular entertainment.”Little wonder then that these films hit home with viewers at multiple levels and they associate so strongly with the stars that make it all come alive. So it’s not just Amitabh or Shahrukh or Aishwarya, but practically every star has a huge fan following and everyone from the rag picker on the streets to the suave college girl is excited to see a movie star in the flesh. Scene from Devdas “The word ‘fan’ comes from fanatic,” points out Madhulika Khandelwal, director of the Asia Center at Queens College. “Idol is a term routinely used for film stars in India. There has been a worshipping tradition in India of leaders and of turning them into demi gods – and this is not just in Hinduism, it’s almost the national culture.The stars become leaders, where they are presenting our own lives and views on a big scale. So by seeing Amitabh Bachchan our own identity becomes bigger; our own life could be mundane but by being in touch with these stars and films somehow it’s all on a much bigger scale.”It is this devotion that has made Bollywood the success story that it is. The Bhakts go to see favorite movies again and again. Take the magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam, which chronicled the ultimate romance between a prince and a courtesan and the clash of love and duty. When it was released in 1960, it became the biggest money-grosser, opening in 150 theaters. It ran uninterrupted for three solid years at the Maratha Mandir Theater in Bombay – yes, the name of the theater was just a coincidence, but it could have been a temple for all the devotion shown! Mumtaz Hussain, a filmmaker from Pakistan who lives in Manhattan, has seen the film no fewer than 34 times and can rattle off dialogues, songs and trivia. While Mughal-e-Azam did very well the first time, the new colorized restored version of the film is drawing a cult following too. The box office collection in India was $6 million with just 180 prints, as compared to the biggest grosser of the year, the hot new Bollywood film Veer Zaara, which did $10 million with 550 prints.The film ‘Sholay’ is perhaps the most popular film of all time, breaking all records, running for five years in a theater in Bombay. When fans connect with a film, they return to it time and again, so popular films routinely celebrate silver jubilees and golden jubilees.With Indians moving out into the Diaspora, the audiences have multiplied tremendously with generations born on foreign soil being introduced to the power of Indian cinema. There are devoted fans from South Africa to Dubai to the UK and Indian films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham are top grossers abroad, because of the vast South Asian fan base. Scene from Dhoom.Indeed, while children of the Diaspora may not know the language or may be reluctant to embrace all aspects of their Indian culture, Bollywood is something parents and children often can agree on. Many children get their first exposure to Indian music, dance and values – albeit a Bollywood version – through cinema, since most immigrant parents wean their newborns on Bollywood videos along with the baby food. One can discover 7 year old Indian girls saying with utmost gravity, “I’ve been a fan of Amitabh Bachchan since I was 2 or 3 years old.”Says Khandelwal, “There’s a special experience in watching a film together with other people who understand. There’s a cultural language that we all share. I think it’s very much a part of ethnic identity. It’s very hard to first transmit and then to preserve certain traditions and cultural practices, and films are somewhat an easier medium to do that.“These films are not just films and these stars are not actors and actresses. They really come out of the screen and become a part of people’s lives. For Indians, especially who are living away from home, Bollywood has a much larger role, almost integral to the life away from home, and that’s a kind of connection.”Cinema for immigrants is about community, of social interactions at theaters, of being with like-minded people who speak the same cultural language. For the young, stars become trendsetters in fashion and style. The latest filmi music is mandatory at weddings and wedding style is inspired by that seen in the movies. Just recently at a huge Indian wedding in Miami, the entire decor was inspired by the lush sets of the film Devdas. Scene from LagaanIndeed, stars assume larger than life, leadership roles. The India Day Parades in California or New York do not have a national leader or politician as the grand marshal – it’s always a movie star, who draws huge crowds. Says Khandelwal, “They become almost symbolic not only of the national identity of India, but also a cultural identity of India.”Busy professionals seem to melt at the sight of a movie star. When Amitabh Bachchan was at a press conference at the Lincoln Center on a week day morning, an entire contingent of fans turned up bearing a huge silver trophy for him. Dr. Akshay Dave, a physician in New Jersey, is an active member of this online fan club, which was started by Fatima Mohammad of South Africa and has 500 members in several countries. The fans meet online to discuss the superstar’s movies.Asked how a busy physician connected with being a fan, Dave fluttered about the Bachchan charisma, “I’ve always been fascinated by movies, even before I went to medical school. I always wanted to do something with movies, but I went into medicine so I couldn’t accomplish my other dream.” Manisha Koirala.India may be a land of engineers and doctors and IT professionals, but at heart Indians are all Bollywood Bhakts. Many would have liked to be a part of the Indian cinema, which they grew up on and around which their teen years revolved. The passion for cinema remains, no matter where they go or the professions they pursue.Whether it is a huge national conference of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) or Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA), one of the chief guests is bound to be a star, such as Madhuri Dixit or Hema Malini. At a conference of Indian psychiatrists, Khandelwal was taken aback observing a psychiatrist in the audience ask about the psychological meaning behind a song from the popular Dev Anand movie Guide, “Tu Jahega Kaha, musafir, jahega.” (Where are you going, traveler?) The audience did not find it odd , however, and the panelist responded seriously to the question.Another time, Khandelwal attended a conference on the city of Bombay, where an anthropologist presented an entire paper on Dev Anand’s films in Bombay! Bollywood is certainly getting a lot of respect, and the films are not just being seen, they are being analyzed in academia!During the last few years with the advent of the world wide web, the influence of Bollywood has multiplied many times over, creating a virtual community, an entire online nation of Bollywood Bhakts united by the miracle of the Internet and email. Perhaps more than any other community, people of Indian origin have the most computer geeks and IT professionals. Scene from Mughal-e-Azam This band of Bollywood fans is adept at using technology. In a recent BBC online poll, Amitabh Bachchan was voted Star of the Millennium, beating out legends like Marlon Brando, Sir Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Sir Alec Guinness. For Bollywood fans, clicking that mouse was almost their religious duty!The Internet is currently abuzz over the reigning Queen of Bollywood, the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai. Fans have created no less than17,000 websites in her honor. She receives a mind-boggling 5000-10,000 emails dailyfrom around the world. Since it’s not possible to reply to all of them, she selects them at randoms for response.Bollywood Bhakts have set up a thriving community on the web – it’s like a huge colorful souk, a bustling bazaar where you can go from link to link, from Shahrukh to Salman to Preity to Rani – each star has its ardent devotees. While some sites are hi-tech marvels, others are pure labors of love of individuals.Aishwarya appearing on Oprah? Amitabh on Charlie Rose? The news goes out lightening fast through the tom-tom drums of email and thousands of Bollywood fans tune in to watch their heroes in action. The Internet has a thriving culture of countless sites for Bollywood news, movies, stars and fan clubs. There are Bollywood meet-groups from London to Vancouver to Houston to Bombay, in which online fans actually get together to view Bollywood movies. There’s a meet-up group even in Paris! Rani Mukherjee.Click around and you come to bollywhat.com, a fun site for the clueless Bollywood fan who doesn’t know Hindi or Indian culture. It answers such weighty questions as “Why don’t the characters kiss already?” “What does it mean to wear red stuff in the part of your hair?” and “What does it mean to touch someone’s feet?” It also provides detailed synopses, vocabulary lists and transliterated and translated lyrics for films, making it easier for non-Hindi speaking fans to understand the mysteries of Bollywood.Bollywood Bhakts are a quirky lot who transform their obsessions into their life work: there’s a site hosted by Uday Mahadeo Talwalkar, who has made the world’s biggest typewritten portrait (21.4 feet by 13.3 feet) of Lata Mangeshkar. He used 364 A-4 size sheets of paper and took approximately 236 hours over five years to create his masterpiece.For Bollywood Bhakts, stars are as important as food, air and water. One fan wrote in an essay on the web, “1942 is an important year in Indian history. Not only because it marks the Quit India Movement, but also because the film industry’s biggest blockbuster Amitabh Bachchan was born.”Nor are they averse to risking life and limb for their tinsel gods. In Bombay: Maximum City, Suketu Mehta relates the story of two Pakistani boys who were caught by Indian soldiers as they illegally crossed the border in Kashmir: “It turned out that they hadn’t crossed to join the jihad: they had braved death at the border in order to see their idol in the flesh. They had planned to travel to Bombay to see Shahrukh Khan.” Scene from SarfaroshWith the new interest in India around the world, Bollywood fans are riding high with each new victory of their stars, be it Lagaan’s Oscar nomination, Aishwarya’s appearance on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world or Amitabh Bachchan’s appointment as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. Now Hindi movies often show in mainstream theaters in Manhattan and reviews appear with frequency in major media from The New York Times to The Village Voice. Each becomes a matter of pride for the Bhakts, a validation of what they knew all along – that Bollywood is the best. Film producers have also embraced the diasporic fans by making them a part of Bollywood stories in films such as the hugely popular Dil Wale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which showed that you can live outside India, and yet always be an Indian and carry on Indian values. The recent ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ focused on NRIs in New York and further incorporated the lives of immigrants into Bollywood, making overseas fans feel even more connected.Bollywood has had its share of detractors who deride it as lowbrow and over simplistic, but the fact remains that it’s got hooks, which nothing can match. Even in today’s day and age, Bollywood films are often a morality play – such as the recent Bagabaan, which touched upon the very real issues of ageism and the problems faced by seniors.These ugly truths are usually swept under the rug, but when Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini talk, everyone listens.Indian cinema is also a great unifier, a Utopia where class, color, status and religion don’t matter, and this appeals to the innate love of fairness that most people harbor and admire. Shahrukh Khan can play a Hindu and Preity Zinta a Muslim, and no one blinks an eye. The best talents of all religions and regions come together as one to create Hindi cinema, and that perhaps is one of the strongest virtues of Bollywood. As Maithili Rao says, “The Hindi film is the all-India film: this is a truism. It is a cementing secular force that heals and binds a contentious, clamorous people.” Bollywood has its high-brow fans too, authors such as Salman Rushdie to Shashi Tharoor to Suketu Mehta. All of them grew up watching Bollywood films and the color and surrealism of Hindi cinema finds its way into their writing. Hollywood directors from Ismail Merchant to Mira Nair to Gurinder Chadha have also been impacted by Bollywood. And now a whole generation of young Indian American actors, producers and directors are starting out in their careers, carrying the magic of Bollywood cinema in their sub-conscious.Bollywood is all encompassing. As Khandelwal says, “This is who we are, this is part of our culture. Whether we like it or not, it looks like Bollywood has hit the mark really in terms of how cultural identity will be defined. It’s about easy doses, it’s about relaxing and enjoying our culture.”Bollywood fans have spawned entire industries, from DVDs and music CDs, live Bollywood shows to movies inspired fashions. Bollywood music plays in clubs and Bollywood dance has become popular as a fitness routine. And now with the new and improved, technically superior Bollywood films, a whole new fan base is being created worldwide, from Latin America to China. Russians have been avid fans since the days of Raj Kapoor but now we even have Vietnamese grocery stores in the Mid-West stocking Bollywood videos!Even mainstream Americans are no longer immune to Bollywood’s siren call. At the recent Amitabh Bachchan retrospective, a caucasian couple admitted that whenever they put on a Bollywood video at home, even their little dog starts dancing! Another woman came out of the theater, exhausted, but jubilant, “It’s like going to the opera!”Rochelle Goldman of Brooklyn, who recently visited India and attended some movies there, needed her Bollywood fix. She heard the world’s most famous film star was coming to town and decided to pop in for a Bachchan film at the retrospective and was completely hooked. She was sitting through movie after movie – and on one day she saw three movies back to back. She said, “I’m just emotionally drained! You can’t take your eyes off him when he’s on the screen.”Evelyn Alter of Manhatan once wandered accidentally into a showing of Devdas at a multiplex where she had gone to see a Hollywood movie. She was so intrigued by the costumes, music and dance, that she decided to see the movie from start to finish. She too is addicted now and heads to every new Bollywood film that opens. She sat through several of Amitabh Bachchan movies and cooed, “I’ve just become a complete, total fan.”Looks like a whole new contingent of Bollywood Bhakts is being recruited! But then, who is not a Bollywood fan? When Amitabh Bachchan was asked whom he looked up to, in essence who was Amitabh Bachchan’s Amitabh Bachchan, he promptly replied, “Mr. Dilip Kumar.” Looks like even God is a Bollywood fan. scene from Veer ZaaraEven seasoned journalists turn to jelly when it comes to movie stars. At the recent one-on-one interview session with the Big B, scribes towed along a massive Bachchan biography for autographs by the star while others posed for pictures with him.And who can blame them? Meeting Amitabh Bachchan and not taking a picture with him would be like passing up a memory snap by the Taj Mahal.Taking the Bhakti analogy a step further, fans give the dakshana or offering in the form of the price of the movie ticket as they step into the darkened auditorium to sit in union, in silence to meditate on the utterances and exploits of their mighty cinematic gods. The problems of the real world are forgotten as they concentrate on the one truth, the one reality of the celluloid world. That’s as close to a religious experience as one gets! Related Items
A 162-member Mizoram family may be the largest living under one roof.The family in Baktawng, a village near Aktawng, is headed by Ziona, 66, who has 38 wives and 94 children, according to a report by PTI.One of Ziona’s wives said that dinner meals require almost 80 lbs of pork and 110 lbs of rice.The family is part of the Chana sect, which has 3,000 members, all of who live in the area. Related Items
The Australian police, which is investigating the murder of Toyah Cordingley on a beach in north Queensland, has identified a male Indian nurse as the most probable suspect in her murder.According to a report in The Australian news portal, the Indian nurse was last seen with scratch marks and fled overseas after the attack. Other media reports said the suspect fled to his hometown in India leaving his family behind.According to the portal, the suspect, Rajwinder Singh, is a Queensland Health-registered nurse working at Innisfail hospital, south of Cairns. He booked a flight to India on the night of the murder and then left the next day.The 24-year-old Cordingley, a pharmacy worker, was brutally attacked while walking her dog in broad daylight on Wangetti Beach, 40km north of Cairns, on Sunday, Oct. 21.Her body was found in sand dunes by her father the next morning, prompting an outpouring of grief and anger by the public and a mounting campaign by residents to help find her killer, the portal reported.The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, where Singh worked, confirmed that the nurse left work shortly after Toyah’s murder and was no longer an employee.“As it is under police investigation we are not making comment at this time,” the portal quoted a health service spokesman as saying.According to the Sunday Mail newspaper, the police questioned the hospital about the nurse’s behavior, movements, and work history.Singh first came under suspicion when the local police triangulated Toyah’s mobile phone and identified his car in CCTV and dash camera footage. According to Seven News, Singh was driving his car erratically in the Cairns area on the night of the murder.Police last month released CCTV footage of 68 vehicles they wanted to identify as part of the probe, the Australian wrote.Queensland police and the Australian Federal Police are working with Interpol and authorities in India, the portal wrote adding that Australia has an extradition agreement with India. Related Items