GET WIRED 17/8: Kerala Drug Use, Hindutva Group Aims to Stop Conversions, Auto Demand May Be Rising and More

Closed bars in Kerala (Photo Sean Ellis)

Closed bars in Kerala (Photo Sean Ellis)

Spike in drug abuse in Kerala due to closing of bars

Use of narcotic and psychotropic substances has reportedly risen in Kerala after the shutting down of 712 bars in the state in April this year.  “I won’t say the new liquor policy was counter- productive. But, liquor consumption has become a habit for a section of people and it is not easy to wean them away from that addiction without a sustained awareness drive,’’ says Kerala excise minister K Babu. Psychotropic substances and chemicals like whitener, cough syrup and bicycle tube solutions as drugs were on the rise among youngsters according to Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala. In 2008, Kerala police registered 508 drug cases. The number remained below 1,000 for the next five years.

RSS affiliate says it will stop conversion by 2020

The Dharm Jagran Samanway Samiti, an affiliate of the RSS, has declared its intentions to stop all religious conversions by 2020 and continue with its controversial ghar wapsi (reconversion) programme in its bid to increase the country’s Hindu population by the next census in 2021. Sources said that this target was given to all DJRS state chiefs at a meeting in Mumbai from August 7 to 9. The meeting saw a PowerPoint presentation comparing the growth rates of Hindus with that of Christians and Muslims. They also elaborated that there attention will be focused on the reconversion of Christians, as that is more achievable than reconversion in Muslim dominated areas.

FTII list was chopped and changed

An list of potential appointments for office bearers on the Film and Television Institute of India society was given by former director D J Narain and submitted to the I&B ministry but was allegedly altered and names on the list were replaced. The original names on the list included stalwarts like Resul Pookutty, AR Rahman, Naseerudin Shah and Javed Akhtar but these were allegedly replaced with Anagha Ghaisas, Narendra Pathak, Rahul Solapurkar and Shailesh Gupta. These names were not on the original list of recommended society members according to information acquired by The Indian Express under the RTI act. The files related to the appointments also show that the FTII director and I&B officials revised the list twice between December 2014 and May 2015, to include the names of Gajendra Chauhan and the others, as the ministry kept asking for “more names”. The reports also indicate that the original list contained the name of Jahnu Barua figured under the “Running for President” while Gajendra Chouhan was on the “society members” list. Gajendra Chouhan was made President on the 9th of June, which led to the student protest that has gone on for nearly two and a half months. Some existing appointees like Barua, Santosh Sivan and Pallavi Joshi have resigned to express their solidarity towards the student protest.

India’s bid for Iran project meets roadblock

The Chahbahar project in Iran will no longer be given to an Indian company, after Iranian authorities told a visiting shipping ministry delegation that the contract has been offered to a local company. The agreement was reached three months ago when Nitin Gadkari visited Teheran, but the project has now been delayed. In response to India’s protests regarding the matter, Iranian Ports and Maritime Organisation have stated that the contract with the Iranian company Aria Badaneer was signed in March, before the Indian MoU was signed. Sources suggest that Javed Zarif Iran’s Foreign Minister downplayed the matter as a local problem in a conversation with Nitin Gadkari during his visit last Friday. India could still play a role by passing on the investment amount of $85 million to the Iranian company, which will execute the works, reports have said.

Rapid Survey  reveals troubling statistics on Delhi’s children

The Rapid Survey on Children conducted by the UNICEF and the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has revealed that 43% children in the Capital suffer fromstunted growth, 18 per cent are wasted (rapid loss of fat and muscle weight loss), and 23 per cent are underweight in the age group of 0-59 months. The survey was conducted in 2013-14 covering over one-lakh households. The indicators determining these stats focus on the well being of children below six years and their mothers covering aspects of child development, maternal care, and school/college attendance among persons aged 5-24 years. The survey has disturbing data for the twin states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well. A high 35.4 per cent of children below five years of age were found to be stunted in the two states.

Rail Link in Sikkim faces further delay

A 52.7km rail link between Sevoke in West Bengal and Rangpo in Sikkim was to be ready by December 2015, but is now stuck in a procedural tangle. The Rs.3,380-crore project will take up around 86 hectares of forest land. The project needs clearance from the Union environment ministry. Under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the project needs to be cleared by local gram sabhas as well. The Kurseong and Kalimpong divisions of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council however, do not have panchayats. This project is of specific strategic relevance as Sikkim shares its border with China. The foundation stone was laid in 2009 by former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Car Buying May Be Improving

The Sales graphs of India’s top automobile manufacturers Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai seem to suggest consumer demand is improving. The double-digit growth rates achieved by these companies in monthly sales might suggests that car buyers are returning to showrooms. However, on a sequential (month-on-month) basis, volumes remained stagnant in the April-June period. In July there was a slight rise, driven by two new launches – Honda Jazz and Hyundai Creta. “The previous central government had lowered excise duty on passenger vehicles to four to six per cent, valid up to June 2014. “Since the concession was not withdrawn, both wholesale and retail numbers for July last year were low,” Maruti Suzuki Executive Director R S Kalsi said. Hyundai’s sales, the second-largest player in the passenger vehicle industry (17% market share), grew in July from 25 per cent to 36,500 units. The company’s sales had last year declined from 33,514 units in June to 29,274 in July.

UN’s unpaid internship programs accused of being only for ‘elite’

The UN’s unpaid internship was criticized this week due to reports that a 22-year-old intern from New Zealand was living in a tent in Geneva because he couldn’t afford to pay rent. Critics of the program say that by not paying or at least reimbursing the interns, the program is sending a message that their internships are restricted to people in developed countries from a particular socio-economic background. Interviews with current interns indicate that a three-month internship in New York or Geneva could easily cost more than $5,000 in expenses. Wealthy countries like Germany, which offer funding for potential interns, are already overrepresented in the UN’s intern program. The Geneva Interns Association demanded information regarding the nationality of the interns that had take up the internship earlier. From the 247 interns based at its offices in the Swiss city since 2014, nationality information was given for 196 of them. Of those who provide their nationality, 147 were from developed countries. Only 53 were from developing or the least developed countries (LDCs), where the WHO does most of its work.



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