Discarding disability from the mind
Proving that diplomacy is a profession where intellectual vision counts for more than conventional sight, India has for the first time appointed someone who is 100% blind to the elite Indian Foreign Service. The newly-minted diplomat, 25-year-old N.L. Beno Zephine from Chennai, is a postgraduate in English from Madras University. She looks forward to her new career, which will give her the opportunity to do what she likes best – to “talk.” She credits her success to Job Access With Speech (JAWS), a software that allows the visually challenged to read from a computer screen, to the Tamil and English books that were scanned for her, to her mother for reading the newspapers aloud, and the various institutes and schools where she studied.
Hurriyat seminar barred, speakers arrested
The Hurriyat Conference had convened a seminar on the Union government’s “anti-minority” approach at chairman SAS Geelani’s Hyderpora residence in Srinagar and invited several prominent speakers from across India to attend. But the seminar never saw daylight, as roads to the venue were blocked by a heavy contingent of police, Sikh leaders who had come from Punjab to attend the seminar were arrested, and city hotels raided. Several Hurriyat leaders were also put under house detention. The Hurriyat termed the police action an act of “state terrorism,” condemning Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s slogan of the “battle of ideas” as hollow.
UN warns of worst refugee crisis since WWII
The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) has warned the world regarding the increasing number of refugees, due to escalated conflicts in Syria, Congo and Mali. The Commission said that the world is seeing its worst refugee crisis in many years, with as many as 45 million people displaced. These include 15 million refugees, almost one million asylum seekers and over 28 million internally displaced persons. Globally, 7.6 million new people fled their homes last year. Afghanistan remains the largest source of refugees in the world, a position it has held for 32 year. Alarmingly, 42 per cent of all refugees are minors under the age of 18, the UNHCR said.
… Meanwhile, 4300 Afghan, Pak refugees are now Indians
In ts first year, the NDA govt has granted Indian citizenship to 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan, four times the 1,023 granted by the UPA-II government across its five year term. This rapid increase could be in keeping with the BJP election manifesto promise of promoting India as a ‘natural home’ for Hindus fleeing persecution in any part of the world. Ever since the Modi government took charge, several thousand long term visas have also been issued to refugees in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Hungriest India loses 40,000 tonnes of grain in two years
A recent UN annual hunger report may have estimated that the highest number of hungry people in the world are from India but that hasn’t stopped the country from literally throwing food down the drain. The Food Corporation of India response to an RTI application filed by TOI regarding damaged foodgrain this year has revealed that the damaged quantity rose threefold in five years — from 6,346 tonnes in 2010-11 to 18,847.22 tonnes in 2014-15. There has been a drastic jump particularly in the last two years when the country lost more than 40,000 tonnes. In 2014-15, Odisha followed by J & K topped the list, both of which were subjected to severe natural disasters, Cyclone Phailin and floods respectively. However, according to experts, the figures are also an indication of poor storage facilities, pilferage and transit loss.
No sinecure for tardy judge?
The government is all set to turn down the Chief Justice of India’s recommendation to appoint Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra as head of the appellate tribunal under the Smuggling Activities and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act. Justice Mishra, when she was a judge of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, had a reputation of being a ‘latecomer’. She has become an example the government is using in its case for the National Judicial Appointments Committee. The government had argued that the Collegium system had appointed Justice Mishra in spite of her reputation as a person who was never punctual. Her name is all set to be rejected, and the government will ask the CJI for a new candidate.
‘Without war, the Army’s importance has diminished’
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said the fact that India has been at peace for so many years has resulted in reduced respect for the Army and its personnel. Parrikar said that this is indicated by the fact that Chief Ministers do not respond appropriately to him when contacted about defence matters. “I have written to many Chief Ministers [over defence matters]. Some have acted on it and at many places, it [the response] has ended. The primary reason for this is that we have not been to war for 40-50 years. I don’t mean to say that we should go to war. I mean to say that without war, the Army’s importance has diminished,” he said, speaking at a conference on border safety in Jaipur. Parrikar said that a country cannot progress without respecting its Army, and also stated that recent incidents may help in changing this outlook, clearly pointing towards the much publicised ‘surgical strike’ in Myanmar carried out by the Army.
8. India diabetes rates spiked since 1990
India has seen a massive 123 per cent increase in cases of diabetes since 1990, a recent study has shown. The increase has placed diabetes as one of the major reasons for various disorders in both men and women. The highest increase was in Type-2 diabetes, which is usually related to obesity. Comparatively, the disease has increased by 45 per cent worldwide in the same period. While diabetes did not feature in the list of top 10 diseases in India in 1990, a list dominated by depression disorder, iron deficiency anaemia, lower back pain and migraine, it was 8th on the list in 2013.
Tbilisi floods drive zoo animals into streets
Floods in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi have resulted in the death of around 12 people, and have seen the escape of several animals from the city zoo, including lions tigers, bears and wolves. The authorities have advised residents to stay indoors after the exodus from the zoo. A hippopotamus that had also escaped has now been tranquilized. The floods have left thousand of people homeless. Several zoo animals have died.
Jurassic World shattering box office records
While most analysts had predicted a good opening for Jurassic World, a sequel to the ‘Jurassic’ movies that has released 14 years after the last one, not many expected that it would break box office records on its first day. The film became the highest global opener, taking in a record $ 511.8 million in its first days, and is now also the second highest domestic opener in the United States grossing $ 204.6 million, behind Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron which made $ 207.4 million.
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