Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh was heckled and his supporters were assaulted by a group of locals in the Darjeeling hills on Thursday.Mr. Ghosh, who is on a two-day visit to Darjeeling, was addressing a meeting in an auditorium when some locals started protesting and disrupting his speech. The State BJP chief came out of the auditorium with his supporters but the locals followed them.Cap knocked off Mr. Ghosh and his supporters were chased and those trying to protect him were pushed and shoved, and a few were severely beaten up. In one video footage of the attack, the Gorkha cap worn by Mr. Ghosh is seen being knocked off by a local with an umbrella.Mr. Ghosh alleged that supporters of rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Binoy Tamang were behind the attack. He alleged that the police did not provide any protection and he along with his supporters had to walk all the way to the Darjeeling police station to take refuge and lodge a complaint. Stand on Gorkhaland Over the past two days, the State BJP chief has faced several rounds of protests by locals. Though GJM president Bimal Gurung has asked people to welcome the BJP delegation, Mr. Ghosh was repeatedly asked by locals to clear his party’s stand on the issue of Gorkhaland.A strike over the demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland, which continued for 100 days, was lifted on September 27. Mr. Ghosh is one of the first leaders from the plains to visit the hills after withdrawal of the strike.
The lawyers of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar have received a certified copy of the Allahabad High Court order acquitting the dentist couple in the murder case of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj.Since courts in Ghaziabad observe a holiday on second Saturdays, it will be provided to a special CBI court in the city on Monday. The court will then issue an order to the Dasna prison authorities to release the couple, one of the Talwars’ lawyers said.The order’s copy was received late Friday evening.“We have received a certified copy of the order of the Allahabad High Court. It is expected that they (Rajesh and Nupur) will walk out of the jail on Monday,” Vandana Talwar, Aarushi’s aunt, said. The Talwars were imprisoned in 2013.
Nine newborn babies have died at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital on Saturday, prompting the State authorities to order a probe in to the matter as the issue has been seized by the opposition ahead of the Assembly polls. Since Thursday, at least 18 newborn babies have died at the hospital. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani held a meeting with the officials of State health department and hospital administration to discuss the matter and asked them to take all measures. “We have ordered an inquiry in the matter and formed a committee to look into the matter,” Gujarat health commissioner Jayanti Ravi said. According to the hospital administration, of the total 18 deaths reported in the last three days, nine took place on Saturday out of which five were referred to from smaller places. “Five babies were of extremely low weight,” a senior doctor from the hospital said, defending the hospital management. According to him, five babies referred to Civil Hospital from distant places were already in critical conditions and suffered from life-threatening conditions such as extremely low birth weight around 1.1 kg, which is less than the normal birth weight of 2.5 kg, hyaline membrane disease, early onset septicaemia and disseminated intravascular coagulation. “This is the pathetic conditions of health facilities in Gujarat’s largest hospital,” Congress spokesman Manish Doshi said, blaming the State health authorities for negligence. On Sunday, Congress party workers held protests march at the hospital. “The government is responsible for deaths of babies so we want the government to pay compensation to the families,” Congress leader Alpesh Thakor said.
Two days after gunning down most-wanted gangster Vicky Gounder, the Punjab police on Sunday claimed to have nabbed two more gangsters, who were providing financial support and shelter to Gounder. “Love and Amritpal Singh have been arrested from near a gurdwara at Jhabal in Tarn Taran district,” Senior Superintendent of Police Darshan Singh Mann said over phone. Love is the brother of dreaded criminal Gurpreet Singh, alias Gopi Kaura, who was associated with Vicky Gounder’s gang, the SSP said, adding that Amritpal was a proclaimed offender. “Both of them were providing financial support and hideout to Gounder,” Mr. Mann said.Encounter in Rajasthan Notably, the Punjab police gunned down two gangsters — Vicky Gounder and his associate Prema Lahoria — in an encounter in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan on Friday.Another person, who sustained bullet injuries, died later. The operation was conducted by the Punjab police’s special wing — Organised Crime Control Unit.A headache Gounder was had become a headache for the police after he and five other prisoners escaped from the high-security Nabha Jail in November 2016. Since then, Gounder was successful in dodging the police on several occasions. The Punjab police had said on Sunday that it would shift its focus to other dreaded criminals and gangsters in the state, including Harry Chattha, Gopi Ghanshyampuria, Gopi Kaura and Jaipal, who were accused in several cases of murder and extortion. Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Suresh Arora had said as many as 17 A-category (dreaded criminals) and 21 B-category gangsters were believed to be active in Punjab as of January 2017.
The Congress on Wednesday demanded immediate dismissal of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, calling his government “Ravan raj”, after an 18-year-old was allegedly gang-raped and her father was found dead in police custody in Unnao district.“There is no justice for women under Modi government’s watch, be it Unnao or Kathua [J&K], both States ruled by the BJP. Hapless victims are crying for justice. The government remains the benefactor and protector of those who are guilty, ” said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala In Kathua, an eight-year girl was repeatedly raped and murdered. “The Unnao incident is particularly shameful,” he said. “The BJP government has the audacity to file a report that there was no rape and it was a family feud. Ravan raj prevails under the watch of Yogi Adityanath,” he added.On BJP’s fast Reacting to the day-long fast by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leaders in protest against the impasse in Parliament, the Congress said the BJP itself was responsible for the disruptions. He said that sensing an impending defeat, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet went on a fast.
Six persons, including one woman, have been killed by marauding elephants in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district since April 10. Among them is a 70-year-old attacked on Saturday morning, when she had gone out to answer nature’s call, in the Kaurianpal village of the Sadar range. Sources said that affected villagers in the interior pockets are turning restless as human casualties rise. “The Sadar range of Dhenkanal district is now the most elephant conflict-prone area in the State, probably in the country. This area is home to over 25 elephants, with another group of over 40 elephants coming in intermittently from adjoining ranges,” said Biswajit Mohanty, an environmentalist.There were 10 elephant-human encounters in which four persons were killed and eight were injured in April 2017 in this range. “Elephants are disturbed due to obstructions such as the Rengali irrigation canal network, the National Highway… and the frequent movement of trucks in and out of industries and quarries. No sincere effort is being taken by the State Forest Department to inform people about the movement of elephants in advance,” alleged Mr. Mohanty.According to Ranjit Patnaik, a wildlife researcher, in 2017, the human-elephant encounters in Odisha touched a record high of 120, and 85 people were killed by elephants.“As far as the Dhenkanal district is concerned, 53 elephants have died in the past four years while 61 persons have been killed by jumbos. Human-elephant encounters are increasing sharply in the district,” said Mr. Patnaik.
Three civilians were injured in security forces’ firing on Saturday night in south Kashmir’s Pulwama when a patrol came under heavy stone pelting.A police official said the incident took place when the patrol party of 55 Rashtriya Rifles was hit by stones in Pulwama’s Karimabad.“The patrol party fired a few rounds to disperse the stone pelters. Three miscreants were injured and were shifted to hospital for treatment,” said the spokesman.The condition of all the injured is stated to be stable, said the police.Meanwhile, a doctor was arrested after weapons and ammumition was recovered from his car during checking. The car was stopped at Mir Bazaar in Anantnag. “During the search one 9mm pistol with one magazine and one AK 47 with two magazines were recovered from the vehicle,” said the police.The driver of the vehicle has been taken into custody. The police have started an investigation into the matter.Two militants travelling in the car were believed to have fled from the spot.
Unidentified persons lobbed a molotov cocktail at a BJP office here partially damaging it, a police officer said on Monday. No casualty was reported in the explosion. An investigation has been initiated, said East Khasi Hills SP Davis N.R. Marak.“Unidentified men attacked the front portion of the office partially damaging it. The incident was reported around midnight,” BJP state president Shibun Lyngdoh said. The office does not have CCTVs installed and hence it is up to the police to identity the assailants, he said. Meanwhile, the Meghalaya unit of the BJP has condemned the attack and requested the police to tighten security in all its offices across the State.“The State unit of the BJP has strongly condemned the act of arson in its State headquarters at Bivar Road,” BJP Minister A.L. Hek said in a statement. An FIR was lodged and copies of it were also sent to the Chief Minister and Home Minister requesting stern action against those involved, he said.
A mummy that’s spent the last 110 years in two museums in Munich, Germany, and which was long presumed to have local origins, may actually be a young South American woman who was ritually murdered hundreds of years ago. The remains first appeared in the collection of the Anatomical Institute of Ludwig Maximilian University in 1904—mysteriously, with no specimen number assigned to it and no information about its origins. Researchers had long thought that the dark-skinned mummy (image), which lost its legs and suffered other damage in an air raid during World War II, was a body pulled from one of the bogs nearby, naturally preserved by the acidic, low-oxygen environment there. But the mummy’s plaited braids didn’t match the hairstyle typically seen on Europe’s ancient bog bodies, so researchers—including some at the specimen’s current home, the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection—took a closer look. Carbon dating revealed that the 20- to 25-year-old female had died sometime between 1451 and 1642 C.E. Analyses of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in her tissues suggest that she had lived near the Pacific coast in southern Peru or northern Chile and had eaten a diet rich in corn and seafood, the researchers report today in PLOS ONE. Other evidence the young woman wasn’t European include a triangular “Inca bone” in her skull (seen in about 8% of modern-day South Americans but not in people of European descent) and signs that she had suffered Chagas’ disease (a parasitic infection widespread in modern-day Central and South America but not in ancient or modern-day Europe). CT scans revealed extensive damage to the bones of her face, suggesting that the she had been repeatedly struck there with a blunt object, possibly as part of a ritual murder. Previous studies of other mummies from the region suggest that the ritual murder of young women and female infants was a common practice during that era.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(*)
When it comes to the sweet stuff, science often turns sour. Almost every study that has linked sugar to problems such as tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, or even childhood violence has come under heavy fire. Nonetheless, the World Health Organization released draft guidelines earlier this year that halved the recommended maximum sugar intake.Now, new research is suggesting that synthetic sweeteners like saccharin might not be a great alternative. They could have a negative effect on gut microbes and thus lead to a higher risk of diabetes, researchers say. But other scientists say the results fly in the face of previous research and may be wrong. “It would be unfortunate if this data were to influence public policy,” says endocrinologist Stephen O’Rahilly, who heads the metabolic research laboratories at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.Scientists are only beginning to understand what role the billions of microbial cells colonizing the human gut play in diet and disease. Some microbial boarders are known to be crucial in breaking down nutrients in our diet. Studies have also shown that overweight people tend to have different bacteria in their intestines than slim people, but it is not clear what exactly the link is and whether the bacteria somehow cause obesity or diabetes.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(*)Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, started by feeding mice with water that contained either sugar or one of three noncaloric sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. After 11 weeks, the mice fed with artificial sweeteners showed an unusually high spike in blood glucose levels when given a glucose meal, a condition called glucose intolerance that is seen as an early stage in the development of diabetes. But when the mice were given antibiotics for 4 weeks, glucose intolerance didn’t occur, indicating that gut microbes may play a role.The researchers also found that certain types of gut microbes were more common in mice fed saccharin. By transferring the intestinal bacteria from these mice to germ-free mice, the researchers also transferred their glucose intolerance. They even took gut bacteria from healthy mice, cultured them in the laboratory with saccharin, and then transferred them into germ-free mice and showed that these mice, too, developed glucose intolerance. Molecules produced by some of the bacteria may increase glucose production in the body and push blood glucose levels out of balance, the researchers suggest.To confirm that their findings are relevant to humans as well, the researchers followed seven individuals given a high dose of saccharin—5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, the Food and Drug Administration’s maximum acceptable daily intake—on 6 consecutive days. Four of these individuals also began showing signs of glucose intolerance, the researchers report online today in Nature, suggesting that artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact [diabetes] epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”It’s “really fascinating work,” writes Peter Turnbaugh, a microbiologist at Harvard University, in an e-mail. “There have been some hints in the literature that sweeteners may alter the gut microbiota, but this is by far the most in-depth analysis I’ve seen to date.” Still, he adds, “there’s a lot more basic biology that will need to be worked out to fully appreciate the mechanisms that cause sweeteners to alter gut microbial community composition and function, and how in turn this shapes host metabolism.”Michael Blaut, a microbiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam, Germany, says the mouse data are “believable and remarkable,” but says he has a hard time imagining a mechanism that would account for three compounds as chemically different as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose leading to the same changes in the gut microbiome.Others, however, are much more critical. “On this evidence, I’d agree that lab mice shouldn’t have lots of sweeteners in their drinking water,” writes Catherine Collins, a dietitian at St. George’s Hospital in London, in a statement distributed by the Science Media Centre. Lab mice get a much lower part of their calories from carbohydrates than humans do, she points out. “Our naturally higher carbohydrate intake has generated bowel bacteria happily digesting whatever we swallow, and their symbiotic relationship with our bowel cells and beyond is testimony to this.”The data on humans, from just seven people, of which four show an effect, are far from convincing, O’Rahilly says. “If this had been sent to a clinical research journal there would have been a lot of questions.” Previous research also seems to point in a different direction. A large epidemiological study involving tens of thousands of people published last year found a connection between sugar-sweetened beverages and diabetes, but not between artificially sweetened soft drinks and diabetes.”We are the first to admit that the human arm in the study has only preliminary results on a small subset of individuals,” says computational biologist Eran Segal, one of the study authors. But some studies in the past also found an association between artificial sweeteners and risk of diabetes, he says. “The lack of conclusive data and a mechanism in such an important subject was at the basis of us looking into this subject.”One possible explanation for the discrepancy with large-scale epidemiological studies is that the new study centers on saccharin, a sweetener not used in any of the major soft drinks. In early studies, the researchers also tested aspartame—by far the most widely used soft drink sweetener—but the observed effect was smaller, and they dropped it. “The authors are confounding their conclusions by addressing all these noncaloric artificial sweeteners together,” says Brian Ratcliffe, a nutrition researcher at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, U.K. That’s why the title of the paper, “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota,” is misleading, he says. “I cannot believe the journal allowed that title.” Still, he says, the data “certainly does suggest that there is something more that needs to be explored about saccharin.”In the meantime, the study shouldn’t keep people from lowering their sugar intake by choosing artificially sweetened beverages, says Jim Mann, a researcher at the University of Otago, Dunedin, in New Zealand. “We have always known that artificial sweeteners don’t help everybody lose weight, but they are certainly helpful for some people,” he says. And Mann has another tip: “Water is a very useful way of quenching thirst.”
When it comes to assessing the value of federally funded social science research, one congressman’s meat is apparently another’s poison.In March 2013, social psychologist Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, Columbus, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ panel that funds the National Science Foundation (NSF). Bushman had co-chaired an NSF workshop on the causes of youth violence convened in the wake of the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. And Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA), who leads the spending panel and who asked NSF to hold the workshop, was eager to hear Bushman summarize its findings and discuss this pressing social problem.Last week, a second congressional panel also singled out Bushman’s work. But instead of making Bushman the star witness at a hearing, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the chair of the House science committee, subjected him to ridicule. To be precise, Smith put a 2010 NSF grant to Bushman for research on self-control of aggression on a list of 11 NSF awards that Smith regards as a waste of taxpayer dollars. The new cohort of grants, going back as far as 5 years, join 47 others that the science committee has flagged in a running dispute with NSF over how it manages its $7-billion-a-year budget.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(*)The fight has rekindled the age-old question of how to assess the value of basic research. Most scientists say that peer review—using experts in a particular field—offers the best way to judge both the scientific merit and the societal value of a piece of fundamental research. And they object when politicians substitute their own judgment. But Smith says he’s simply doing his job, questioning research that seems to him silly, obvious, or of low priority to society.How Smith compiles his hit list is a burning question for NSF watchers. Smith has offered no detailed explanation. But in Bushman’s case, there is some pretty strong circumstantial evidence of how it came to Smith’s attention. An October report by retiring Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK), called Wastebook 2014, included Bushman’s $331,000 NSF grant on factors that lead to aggression and how to control those feelings. Within days the Republican National Committee had named the grant one of the “Five Most Absurd Spending Items” in Coburn’s compendium of “wasteful” federal projects, which include the International Space Station and administrative leave for federal employees.Conservative bloggers have attacked Bushman’s previous research on how biblical passages can make people behave more aggressively after reading stories of “God-sanctioned violence.” And Bushman himself faced some pointed questions about that research from some members of the House spending panel during his 2013 appearance, although he says Wolf “was very supportive.”Bushman wasn’t aware that his grant was on Smith’s latest list, he told ScienceInsider. But he’s not surprised. He sees himself as a “myth buster,” and his website describes how he’s overturned some conventional wisdom, including the claims that “violent media have a trivial effect on aggression, venting anger reduces aggression, violent people suffer from low self-esteem, violence and sex sell products, [and] warning labels reduce audience size.”Researchers have an obligation to question such “common sense” beliefs, Bushman argues. “We can’t rely on common sense because it’s not the same for everybody, it can be contradictory—‘birds of a feather flock together, but opposites attract,’ for instance—and it can lead us astray. Common sense is not the acid test; that’s what research is for.”Bushman says he stands by his research. And community leaders offended by Smith’s criticism of another NSF grant are also fighting back. On 21 October, Smith joined a chorus of conservative bloggers and Republican legislators in attacking a $920,000 grant to Indiana University to study the dissemination of information on Twitter. But this week several computer science organizations wrote to Smith defending the so-called Truthy project.“We are dismayed by recent characterizations and misplaced criticisms” of the research, they said in a 4 November letter to the chair and the panel’s top Democrat, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX). Understanding how social networks operate is a valid research topic and can also help law enforcement officials and the U.S. military do their jobs, the letter points out.Smith said last month that the committee was “investigating” the grant. But it did not appear on the 29 October request list that contained Bushman’s grant. A committee representative told ScienceInsider on Wednesday that “we’re collecting information preparatory to submitting a separate request to NSF about the Truthy project.” With that in mind, the computing groups offered Smith their assistance as “subject-matter experts to help guide your investigation.”(Click here for an updated spreadsheet of all NSF grants requested by Smith.)*Update, 10 November, 3:17 p.m.: Today the House science committee asked the National Science Foundation for all information relating to a grant awarded in 2011 to Indiana University researchers. In a letter to NSF Director France Córdova, the committee’s chair, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), says the so-called Truthy project “was intended to create standards for online political discussion” and that researchers have “proudly described how the web service targeted conservative social media messages.” The researchers say that critics have repeatedly misrepresented the project, that their work is not political, and that it does not restrict free speech.Also today, the Association of American Universities (AAU) blasted the science committee’s tactics. A statement by the group’s board of directors says the ongoing review of some 60 grants “is having a destructive effect on NSF and on the merit review process that is designed to fund the best research and to remove those decisions from the political process.” If the committee persists, says the AAU board, its members “owe it to the American public to say clearly what they are doing: substituting their judgment for the expertise of scientists on the vital question of what research the United States should support.”
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Rich Chinese and Russians have been among the top buyers of foreign citizenship in recent years, but ever since billionaire jeweller Mehul ChoksiNSE 0.00 % bought citizenship in Antigua, in November 2017, interest among wealthy Indians in schemes that offer citizenship or residence rights in return for investment has soared. Read it at Economic Times Related Items
Thousands of worshippers from across the Middle East and beyond will turn out in celebration as the foundations are laid for the UAE’s first traditional Hindu stone temple.The foundation stones ceremony for the shrine in Abu Dhabi will take place on April 20, launching the countdown to the start of work on the 10.9-hectare site this year.Read it at The National Related Items
In 2005, immigrant entrepreneurs launched 52% of all startups in Silicon Valley. But today, the number has dropped to 44%, and America is not only losing the opportunity to create new jobs but also losing its competitive edge, argues Vivek Wadhwa in his short, passionately argued book, The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent. Unlike during the 1980s, when skilled immigrants could get green cards (that let them become permanent residents of the U.S.) in as little as 18 months, today it can take as long as 17 years. Failure to fix this problem, says Wadhwa, is killing American innovation and entrepreneurship.I wonder if you could tell our audience about your own immigrant experience and the role it played in shaping your research and your book.I was in New York in the 1960s as a child, and being in America is quite an experience. I left [the U.S.] in the late sixties, but I’d always wanted to come back. The first chance I got was in 1980, when my father got transferred to the consulate in New York City. I joined Xerox, and within a year and a half of coming here, I was able to get a green card. In my mind, the day I got my green card, I became an American. I started thinking like an American, behaving like an American, working like an American. There was no other country for me in the world. It was that easy.A decade after coming here, I ended up founding my first company. The company grew to the point where it employed 1,000 people. We took it public, and it was a wonderful success. Then I started another company, which employed almost 250 people. I was able to do all this because it was so easy to become an American in the 1980s if you had the right skills. You can’t do that anymore, and that is a problem.Now I teach at Duke, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and so on, and I hear the same horror stories from my students over and over again — that they want to stay [in America], but they can’t get a visa. Then others start talking about the fact that their friends have gone home, and that they’re doing really well back home. And they say, “We’d like to stay here to get a couple of years of experience.” They apply for jobs, but companies won’t hire them because they need H1B visas, and there aren’t H1B visas, or the companies don’t want to go through the negativity of being associated with H1B visas. It is lose-lose for the students and the companies. The result is that skilled people are leaving America in droves. If I had come here now, I would have been stuck in immigration limbo, like my students are. I would never have started a company. I would never have contributed to American competitiveness. I would never have been able to do anything with this great country if I was coming here today. That’s what the book is all about.So why do you think the experience of skilled immigrants today is so different than yours was?Because when I applied for my green card, there was no backlog, there was no delay in visa processing. I simply had to go through the labor certification process, which showed that I wasn’t taking away the job of an American, and then immediately I got my green card. The whole process was as easy as could be. Today, the problem is that, first of all, there are no H1B visas for people to come here and work for American companies. And then, once you start the process for a green card, there are no green cards available. The line for green cards is so long that if you’re Indian or Chinese, it takes decades.What happens now is that you decide that you want to become a permanent resident, and your company files for you, and it takes five years, ten years, 15 years, sometimes 17 or 20 years while you’re just stuck in limbo, waiting for that green card. The problem is that, once you have started the process of a green card and you’ve done the labor certification, which means that you’ve now proven that you’re not taking away the job of an American, you’re stuck in that same job. You can’t change jobs. In those five, 10 or 15 years, you can’t go from being a program analyst to being a project manager. You can’t go from being a writer to an editor. You can’t change jobs; you’re stuck in the same grunt job that you had when you started the process, so people waste their lives in the same tedious jobs that they had before.One of the things you point out in your book is that skilled immigrants play a huge role in the U.S. economy. I wonder if you could please outline their contributions to job growth and intellectual capital formation.After I became an academic, one of the first research projects I did was to document the contribution of skilled immigrants. I had a hunch that there were many other people like me who were making a big contribution to U.S. competitiveness. The first thing I did was to look at all the research that had been done on the subject. I learned that AnnaLee Saxenian, who was then the dean of the School of Information at Berkeley, had documented that in the 1980s, a quarter of all the startups in Silicon Valley were founded by Indian and Chinese immigrants. It was amazing research. I contacted her, and I said, “Professor Saxenian, what’s the latest on this?” She said that her research was now a decade old and no one had updated it. Her belief was that the numbers had increased dramatically. A lot of anecdotal evidence indicated that immigrant entrepreneurship had increased quite significantly, but there was no up-to-date research. I said, “Would you like to work with me on this research?” And she said, “Absolutely, I’d love to work with you on it.” Then we spent several months revising her work — we used the same methodology, the same data sets, and updated the research.We were both shocked at what we found — the trend that had started in Silicon Valley had become a nationwide phenomenon. From 1995 to 2005, a quarter of all the startups in America were founded by immigrants, by people like me…. And the proportion [in] Silicon Valley had increased to 52%. We also found that during the days of the greatest economic growth in recent U.S. history, the tech boom, 52% of the startups in America, the most innovative land in the world, were founded by immigrants. Fifty-two percent — that was just mind-blowing.Why and how did the immigrant startup machine begin to stall? What were the main reasons?Here’s what happened after we published our research. The research made headline news — it was featured everywhere. And then I started getting e-mails from all over the world. Now I’d become a guru on immigration. People started writing to me to tell me their problems. Even my students started talking to me about their problems. And I started to realize that there’s something wrong here, and that the new crop of immigrants is not able to do what I was able to do, which means join the workforce, become an American and become an entrepreneur when the time was right. They couldn’t do what I had been able to do. So I went back to Anna and I said, “Anna, what do you know about the backlog of immigrants?” And she didn’t know anything, so we teamed up with a professor from New York University, Guillermina Jasso, and we decided to now look into what had happened since the late 1990s, and [with] the backlog. Jasso was an ex-commissioner for the immigration department, and she tried getting data on the backlog. She couldn’t get it, so we decided to create our own methodology for estimating the backlog of immigrants waiting for green cards.Again, we were stunned at what we learned — that there were one million skilled immigrants and their families waiting for green cards. As of October 26, I believe, in 2006, there were a million skilled immigrants in America waiting for a green card who were stuck in limbo. Everyone was talking about unskilled immigrants, the undocumented or illegal workers, as some segments of America call them. There was a lot of talk about the illegals, but no one was talking about the legal skilled immigrants who were stuck waiting for green cards. I looked at the data, interviewed many people, and I predicted that there would be a massive reverse brain drain of talent. We titled the paper, “Intellectual Property, the Immigration Backlog, and a Reverse Brain Drain.” The title “reverse brain drain” created a lot of controversy. My co-authors felt uncomfortable with it because it was such a radical title to use in an academic paper. But they knew there was a problem, so they agreed to leave it the way it was.When we published that paper, it created a major controversy because other academics started scorning the concept of a reverse brain drain. In emails I received and discussions in academic groups, people said, “This is ridiculous. The U.S. has never had a brain drain. Brain drain is a European phenomenon. It’s an Indian phenomenon. It’s a Chinese phenomenon. It’s not an American thing. We don’t have brain drain in America.” Everyone laughed at it when that paper first came out. Today, no one doubts it. Almost every major publication has written about it. The Indian press, the Chinese press, the Brazilian press, everyone is talking about the reverse brain drain. It’s widely established that what we predicted is happening, that there’s a massive reverse brain drain of talent right now from the U.S. to other countries.I wonder if you could speak a little bit about what you think is driving the reverse brain drain and some of the forces that make it hard for skilled immigrants to stay on in America.Well, the first reason is that they can’t get visas. It’s that simple. When they apply for jobs, no one will hire them because there are no H1B visas available [for] many years. And then employers worry about all the paperwork and the political backlash. It’s very hard to get a job if you’re a foreign graduate of an American university. That’s number one. Number two, their friends who went back home are doing really well back there. They hear stories about going back and getting almost American salaries. Even if you don’t get American salaries, and you get a half or a third of what you make over here, you can have a very good lifestyle on that income in New Delhi or Bangalore or Pune or Shanghai. So they hear stories about how their friends have gone back and are doing very well.And then the overall mindset has changed. When our generation came over here, it used to be that we came with one-way tickets. Our families back home expected they would never see us again. You may have heard one of the most popular songs in India was “Chitthi ayee hai” [A letter from the homeland] — most of the older Indian immigrants will relate to that. You heard all these sad stories about Indians who left the country and never came back and never saw their parents and their friends back home again. That used to be the norm. Now it isn’t. Now everyone talks to everyone back home; they realize how good things are over there, that you can have very good lifestyles in India and China and Brazil and so on. So the mindset has completely changed. You no longer have to stay in America to be successful.You referred to the first reason as being the visa system, the H1B system. Could you, from your perspective, explain what’s wrong with it? And how can it be fixed?The simple problem is that there aren’t enough visas. It’s that simple. There aren’t enough green cards available for the hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for them. If we address that one situation, we’ll fix 80% of the problem. You’ll still have the problem of opportunity back home. But think of it this way — if you graduate from Duke or Wharton, and you join a top American company, you may think this is just temporary, and you tell your friends you’ll come back in two or three years. But then you end up falling in love with America.You’re doing well in your career. Why would you leave your job and go back to India when you’re doing very well over here? That is how two or three years become four or five years. In the meantime, if you’re a woman, you find a really nice looking guy, and you end up getting married. It happens the same way with the guys. You end up becoming an American and you never go back. So the reality is, if we just fix that one issue about the numbers of visas, the problem would likely fix itself. It’s that simple.What are the main barriers to that problem getting fixed?Politics, politics, politics. Before the election, we heard both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the debates talking about the importance of skilled immigrants. They agree on it. But they won’t pass legislation that fixes the problem. There was a STEM jobs act that was led by the Republicans a couple of months ago, which was defeated because the Democrats felt slighted that the Republicans didn’t talk to them properly to get their approval. And then the Republicans wanted to take the diversity visas away. It’s also the petty politics that get in the way. The Republicans don’t want to give the Democrats a victory. The Democrats don’t want to give the Republicans a victory. So like spoiled brats, like spoiled teenagers, these politicians are fighting one another. In the meantime, America bleeds. America bleeds competitiveness because our leaders are acting like juveniles.There are other places in the world, like Chile, for example, that are actively trying to recruit global talent. Do you think these efforts are succeeding? What do you think the U.S. should do?You only have to go to Santiago to see the beehive of activity. Santiago is now associated with entrepreneurship. You go there to the Startup Chile offices, and you see dozens, you see actually hundreds of startups over there. You see the same type of activity you see in Silicon Valley — optimism, energy, excitement, innovation. They abound in Santiago because of America’s stupid policies. Now I have to do full disclosure over here. I helped design the Startup Chile Program, because Chile was looking for a way of boosting innovation.I said, “Look, the easiest way of fixing your problem of not having enough entrepreneurship and innovation in Chile is to take advantage of America’s stupidity. America is chasing away these skilled immigrants. Bring them here to Santiago and watch the magic that happens.”Startup Chile is a huge success right now because Chile took a chance. They offered these entrepreneurs $40,000 to come there and just live for six months. The result is that they have a booming entrepreneurial ecosystem. America doesn’t have to bribe people. People want to come here anyway. People will give America money to come here. In fact, they’ll bring their life savings with them when they come here. They’ll bring tens of thousands of dollars of savings with them. And then they’ll get their friends back home and all of the world to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their startups … in America. We have it made right now, except we are being stupid.You offer seven fixes to help reverse the immigrant exodus. Could you take us through them?I’m going to simplify them a little bit. First, we need to increase the number of visas. That is the biggest hit over here. We need to have a startup visa, which means that [for] anyone in the world who wants to start a company over here, if they come here and the company employs X number of Americans over Y number of years, they become eligible for a green card. And then we need to fix the problems of the visas themselves. These H1B visas I talked about, they tie the worker to the employer. So it really is indentured servitude that the anti-immigrant groups rally against. These visas are defective. Right now, the employee should not be tied to the company. What should happen is that, if a company wants to sponsor a skilled worker, fine. The worker is tied to the company for one year or two years. But after that, they’re free to go to any employer that offers them a good salary. If we fix that visa, it would fix the imbalance, and it would fix the motivation of companies to take advantage of workers who are stuck in limbo.And then there’s another problem with the H1B visa — that the spouses of the visa holders can’t work. Right now, women in Saudi Arabia have sometimes more rights than the spouses of H1B workers. It is really sad that in some states, they can’t get drivers’ licenses, which means they can’t drive, they can’t open bank accounts. Is this America? I mean this is ridiculous. These are some basic defects with the visas themselves. And then there aren’t enough visas available. Fix those, and you fix America. You fix America’s competitiveness. Related Items
A federal jury in California has sided with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and rejected former employees claim that the IT services major discriminated against non-Americans in its hiring practices.According to a report in Bloomberg, a federal jury in Oakland, California rejected claims by four former employees of the IT major, in a case that was among the first to go to trial in the U.S.Other Indian IT companies like HCL Technologies, Infosys and Wipro too are facing similar charges of being biased toward South Asian employees, financial news portal Moneycontrol.com said.“We have always maintained, the claims made in this case were baseless and we are gratified that the jury agreed. The success of TCS rests on the talents, expertise and deep industry knowledge of our employees, who help our customers in their growth and transformation journeys. So the decisions we make about the hiring and retention of employees are based purely on their capabilities and fit in serving our customers’ business needs,” a TCS spokesperson said on Thursday, as reported in the portal.According to a Bloomberg report, TCS cited statistical evidence that the odds of claims made by the defendants were one in a billion, during the trial.The Mumbai-headquartered company, which is India’s largest IT services company, said that since 2011, the company fired 12.6 percent of its non-South Asian workers in the U.S., compared with less than 1 percent of its South Asian employees, Bloomberg reported.President Donald Trump’s policies to promote and protect local talent have led to increased scrutiny of technology professionals as the country tries to curb overall immigration, Moneycontrol.com said on its website.Over the last two years, the U.S. has been trying to tweak the H-1B work visa program, the most sought after visa by Indian IT companies and professionals, to ensure jobs go to local hires.However, most large IT services firms have been trying to reduce their dependence on these visas, and have upped hiring in the U.S., the portal said. Related Items
Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is popularly known as the “Missile Man of India” for his contributions to the development of “Agni” and “Prithvi” strategic ballistic missiles and he was a major force behind the country’s Pokharan II nuclear tests. The youngest child of a Muslim boatman and best selling author of eight books, including his autobiography, Wings of Fire, Kalam is renowned for his simple, almost austere lifestyle. Pres. Kalam sat down for an interview with Little India during a recent visit to the University of Washington’s South Asian Center in Seattle.Q: Dr. Kalam, you say the nation comes before the individual. What is your take on American business owners who have outsourced the jobs of their countrymen? A: Every nation has to follow a certain policy: Commercial, trade, various other types of policies. The phenomenon of globalization is going on. If you consider the law of development, there are two types of nations. One category holds the developed nations, numbering less than 10, and the second category holds the hundreds of developing nations. Developed nations produce and market products in their own country and throughout the world. Only then can they survive as developed nations. Developing nations want to become developed nations. So, they have to produce products and competitively market them globally. So what is the commonality in the picture? Competitiveness! That is a key concept. Cost, quality, marketing — all make up factors of competitiveness. So, all nations have to work competitively, all nations have to depend on each other, work together. There’s nothing wrong in it.Q: How do you envision the epic communal divide between Muslims and Hindus bridged in India?A: Let me tell you a story. The Europeans fought with each other for hundreds of years. They even created two world wars. But today, we see that these same 23 nations have created the European Union. There are rich, not so rich, and poor nations in the EU, and all of them are working towards making Europeans live prosperous, happy lives. So, in India also such changes will happen, in fact throughout the whole world — the earlier the better. To give another example, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., during the Cold War, generated 10,000 nuclear warheads. Today they are friends. They are saying they are working for world peace, they say they will bring down the number of nuclear warheads. So, historically, this cycle has to come to India too. Good things will happen.Q: You’ve been called the “Missile Man of India” and the “People’s President.” Is there an incongruity between your desire to empower the world with peace and making India a nuclear power?A: I am innocent to the whole affair! I did not call myself these names! (laughs). When a nation is surrounded by weaponized nations, she has to equip herself. That’s what India has done. To make the nation peaceful and prosperous, we need minimum security. That’s what we have done.Q: What was your immediate reaction when “Agni” and “Prithvi” missiles were successful?A: I was right there and witnessed the whole thing. Courage is key. My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.Q: And who taught you this message?A: Myself. I had to learn this myself. Literature also influenced me deeply. In India, we have a famous book called, Thirukkul, written 2,200 years back. I’ll quote a couplet: “If your thoughts are high, definitely you’re going to work for your aim, definitely you will succeed. But conversely, if you don’t have an aim, don’t have high thoughts, how can you aim at success?” My second favorite book is Light From Many Lamps, by (Lillian Eichler) Watson. And the third book that I love is Empire of the Mind. These three books have made my life.Q: How did you feel when you realized that you didn’t have to support your family with your newspaper route anymore? President Abdul Kalam shares a joke with anti apartheid icon Nelson Mandela during a visit to Johannesburg in 2004. A: I was the youngest member of my family, a student when World War II broke out. We were under the British rule at that time and the country was going through some tough times. But after the war ended, I didn’t have to sell newspapers anymore and life returned to normal again.Q: How come you’re such a transparently sincere person?A: See, I firmly believe that the nation has to be bigger than the individual and the individual has to work for the nation. If you’re working for yourself, you’ll not be transparent. But once you put the nation above you, you become transparent. Related Items
A dozen pilgrims were injured on Saturday after two buses which were on the way to a base camp for the Amarnath Yatra rammed into each other in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district. The incident took place at Turki-Tashlow near Wanpoh on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in the afternoon, said a police official . The driver of one of the buses lost control of the vehicle due to brake failure and rammed into the other which was stationary. The buses were headed to the Baltal base camp in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Twelve pilgrims, all hailing from Rajasthan, were injured in the accident, the official added.
An initiative taken in Rajasthan to organise ‘Baal Sabha’ (children’s assembly) of government schools at public places in villages was praised at a workshop of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi over the weekend. These events have helped reduce dropout rate of school students.Deputy Director, Rajasthan Council of School Education, Manaram Jakhar, who represented the State in the capacity-building workshop, said the ‘Baal Sabhas’ had led to an effective participation of local communities in the management of schools and helped bring qualitative improvement in academic standards. He said four lakh new enrolments in government schools had been recorded in the new academic session.An 18-minute documentary on ‘Baal Sabha’, highlighting the creativity of students and participation of village elders for raising academic standards, was screened at the workshop. The education department has made distinguished villagers members of the school management committees.Mr. Jakhar said the participation of parents, village elders and elected representatives had made the ‘Baal Sabha’ events interactive. The results of examinations and important decisions are announced in ‘Baal Sabhas’ and the information about various initiatives, such as Rajiv Gandhi career portal launched recently, is provided on the occasion.