Friday, September 19, 2014
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When a flood is not a flood: Why Kashmir is not Uttarakhand
By Ajaz Ashraf
The flooding in Kashmir may or may not have been the worst in India's history, but it is arguably the most political of them all. Never before have the floods inspired people to read into them multiple, often contradictory, meanings. From the ideas of nation and loyalty to the role of the army in relief operations, to the insistence in some quarters that Kashmiris must express gratitude for soldiers who saved their lives, there is hardly an idea which hasn't acquired a political charge because of the floods. To fathom why the floods in Kashmir have become intensely political, it is pertinent to ask the question: What are the similarities between the natural calamity in Kashmir and the destructive flooding in Uttarakhand last year? Both these had a degree of unprecedented benumbing fero...
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An Assam's tea gardens mothers' club fights alcoholism
By Azera Parveen Rahman
In the 'labour lines' of Behali tea garden in lower Assam's Sonitpur district, merriment begins as soon as the sun goes down. There is not much by way of entertainment here so 'making merry' essentially means indulging the free-flowing, locally-brewed alcohol. Alcoholism is a truth almost every tea tribe family in Assam is familiar with and yet is unable to escape from its pitfalls. Having borne and seen enough, the womenfolk in these gardens are finally taking matters into their own hands and under the aegis of Mothers' Club, attempting to, and succeeding in detoxifying their lives. The tea tribe community of Assam comprises mostly migrants hailing from Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. Their forefathers were brought to the state to work in the tea plantations by the Br...
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Combination of man's greed and climate change could be behind Kashmir disaster
By Marianne de Nazareth
Walls of swirling brown water, homes and buildings on the banks of the Jhelum being washed away like little match boxes, shades of the Kedarnath tragedy was the thought that crossed one's mind watching TV footage of the Kashmir tragedy. The recent disaster in Kashmir Valley is being increasingly looked at as having been compounded by man, aggravated by reckless "developmental" activities with no regard for nature conservation. On the same lines, the very same lines as Kedarnath. As Jammu and Kashmir continues to reel under its worst floods in 60 years, which have stranded over 6 lakh people and killed about 200, the attention is slowly veering towards the reasons and causes behind this unprecedented natural disaster. An analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests tha...
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Kashmir floods highlight the cost of careless urban planning
By Alan Mwendwa
Junaid Rashid finally got his father on the phone today. For the past six days, he had no idea if his family in Srinagar city was safe. Rashid's family and an estimated 600,000 others have been stranded in flooded Kashmir region for the past week. "In my 30 years, I haven't seen a flood like this," says Rashid, a doctor based in Delhi. An estimated 200 people have lost their lives on the Indian side of the contested border (another 250 or more are estimated to have died on the Pakistani side). As rescue operations continue, the number is only going up. How can there have been so many fatalities in a region long known to be flood-prone? It happened because of a combination of urban policy and program failures, says Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers ...
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Communal propaganda has no place in this country
By Humra Quraishi
Finally, the people of this country have woken up! The by -poll results are enough to show that we as an electorate have matured and can see, rather foresee, the dangers of communal politics. We don't want to be divided and ruined by communally charged politicians. We want to exist in peace and earn our daily bread without the politicians grabbing those morsels. Enough of hate politics! Enough of communal propaganda! Enough of poisonous unleash! It's a combination of all this that has ruined thousands of families, killed hundreds and uprooted innocents from their very roots, from their ancestral lands. Focusing on Uttar Pradesh alone - for no other reason except that it has become the focus of today's political scenario and also because it is the new 'political laboratory' of the like...
Kashmir Times News Report
As Floodwaters recede in Kashmir valley, anger grows
By Julie McCarthy
The magnitude of the flooding in Kashmir is still unfolding. As scale of the impact becomes clear, the disaster is igniting an angry mood. The ordeal is stirring the political cauldron of the disputed Himalayan region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan. Parts of the main city Srinagar, population 1 million, remain submerged in water, and residents are missing. Chaotic relief operations, meanwhile, have stoked public anger. At a traffic-choked crossing Saturday, men and women clambered inside a local government relief truck to pick the contents clean. As they hauled off hefty sacks of rice, Kashmiri police looked down from a parapet, chatting and snapping photographs on their smartphones of the scene that had quickly devolved into chaos. An officer of the Kashmir police force li...
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Turmoil in Arab World
India needs to tread carefully
By Ashok B Sharma
The unfolding situation in West Asia and North Africa has not only put Indian diplomacy to test but is also likely to pose a challenge to the country's security concerns and economic interests given the region has brought both local and external powers in the play. Further, the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias has aggravated the situation by questioning the Sykes-Picot boundaries between the nation States. Importantly, the setting up of the Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is an indication that the knotty problem may not be resolved in the immediate future. Adding to India's security concerns is the Sunni terrorist organisation, Al Qaeda forming a new arm for the Indian sub-Continent. Remember, the region, long known as a playground for external powers...
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Kashmir floods and disaster management
By Adfar Shah
The devastating floods in India's Jammu and Kashmir State following the Uttrakhand tragedy last year expose our response and preparedness for disasters both at the state and the national level. Unprecedented rainfall in the State has destroyed houses and submerged vital highways and lanes. A calamity of such a magnitude taking hundreds of lives and destroying property worth billions does not come as a shock as the State of Jammu and Kashmir has already been put in the category of disaster prone zone/seismic zone by experts. But unfortunately our acts of disaster management are itself disastrous. We as state administration think of and ask for boats and other life saving gear only at the time of crisis, failing to learn from the past. We forgot the recent devastating flash floods in Karg...
Kashmir Times News Report
Flooding in Kashmir is a wake up call
By Kimberly Curtis
South Asia is no stranger to horrible flooding, but the worst rains in 50 years have deluged parts of India and Pakistan, leading to dramatic rescues and heightened tensions as people question the role of government in averting such disasters and assisting those effected most. And the location of this flood-disputed Kasmhir-is making the response to this calamity all the more complicated. One of the most militarized regions in the world, recent fighting between India and Pakistan threatened the ceasefire reached in 2003 and the flooding is doing little to ease anxiety over the possibility of renewed conflict. The militarized nature of the region is also undermining rescue efforts, as India and Pakistan exchange words of encouragement but do little to assist one another. Even as the two g...
Kashmir Times News Report
Sailab Nama : An insider's view of the flood in Kashmir from the outside
By Gowhar Fazili
The floods in Kashmir can provide an outsider a momentary glimpse into the reality of Kashmir behind the corporate media propaganda smokescreen that is fumbling at the moment and like Truman Show (1998) exposing bits of the backstage. At the moment there are three key actors in Kashmir. There are the floods, the state and the people. Each one is on its own. One limb of the state-the state government was the first to crumble before the approaching waters. The other limb-the mammoth military apparatus that has already inundated Kashmir since several decades, took two days to wake up to the crisis and when it finally did, its priority was to fish out the rich Indian tourists and the people close to the establishment out of the state. In the initial days, local people had to risk their own ...
Kashmir Times News Report
Floods : May you wash away the prejudices
By B L Saraf
The humongous floods have inundated the state of Jammu & Kashmir in general and the Valley in particular; bringing heaps of misery, of varied kinds, to the helpless residents. The destruction caused by the floods in Kashmir is a tragedy of a great magnitude. The devastation brought about is unbelievable and, in most cases, immeasurable . Hundreds of precious lives have perished in the fury - a loss which can never be recompensed. It is a human problem. The state government is missing from the scene. The Indian Army has made a commendable effort in saving precious lives and providing much needed succour to the needy. Soldiers are working day and night. Situation is, indeed, disastrous. But, as said, every disaster throws up an opportunity. The job done by the arm...
Kashmir Times News Report
Kashmir Floods
People come to their own rescue
By Basharat Ali
Kashmir is witnessing the worst floods in its living memory. Even as the rains have stopped two days back people are still stranded. Entire areas in the summer capital Srinagar and district Islamabad are submerged and the surface water is not receding as it should, normally. A flood of this magnitude was predicted in 2010. Flood Control department in Kashmir had sought immediate assistance from the government for necessary infrastructure. 22000 crore project was formulated to put the infrastructure on place but successive governments slept over the issue. Apart from such neglect, many other factors are responsible for the present humanitarian crisis, mainly the unmindful construction of railways and highways. Such constructions have caused huge depressions, turning Srinagar city into ...
Kashmir Times News Report
National Education Policy
No place for pride and prejudice
By Dr S Saraswathi
It is reported that the Government is formulating a new National Education Policy (NEP) to meet the challenges posed by lack of quality, research, and innovations in Indian educational institutions. An education commission is to be set up to draft this policy. Twenty years have elapsed since modifications were made in the NEP (1986) in 1992. At the outset, a neutral observer may be tempted to voice a note of caution against introducing anything that can be interpreted as politicization of education, which is common evil across the world. Education had been used in all ages as an instrument of political power to promote ideas of the ruling elite. In India, we are used to perceive politics in anything and everything. A democratic government believing in good governance and embarking...
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Scottish Referendum
By Gwynne Dyer
If the Scots vote "yes" to independence on September 18, as one opinion poll now suggests they will, three things are likely to happen in the following week. First, David Cameron may cease to be the leader of the Conservative Party and the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He would be removed by his own Conservative members of parliament, who would hold him responsible for allowing the break-up of a very successful union that has lasted 307 years. Secondly, the British pound would start to fall against other currencies, not because Scottish independence would necessarily be an economic disaster for the rest of the United Kingdom, but because the markets hate uncertainly. To prevent a serious decline of the pound, the British government would have to act on its pre-referendum warni...
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What Gujarat does today : Vibrant Gujarat - No place for Muslims?
By Subhash Gatade
Hotelier Mustafa Patel from Gujarat- owner of Jyoti Hotel - is a very sad these days. His famous hotel- which used to lie on Viramgam highway, merely ninety minute drive from Ahmedabad, is now closed. Anyone who has travelled on that road would vouch about its quality preparations, all the employees who worked with him are in search of another job. Undoubtedly, for Mr. Mustafa it was a very painful decision to close it, but there was no other option. It is being alleged that he was receiving threats from anti-social elements - many of whom had covert links with the ruling dispensation in the state- and despite court orders police refused to provide him protection. The only option for him was to get ready to face bullets or concede to their demand. He preferred the latter option, perhaps...
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Gemstone Mountain
In a remote Cambodian province, children as young as seven risk their lives mining for a shiny blue rock
By Jennifer Meszaros
Hundreds of miles from the karaoke bars of Phnom Penh and the famous ruins of Angkor Wat lies Ratanakiri: a remote northeastern Cambodian province of lush tropical forests and abundant wildlife that once served as a base for the notorious Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot. Only a few diehard travelers venture to this mountainous terrain near the border with Laos and Vietnam, which is a bumpy 560-mile overland ride from Phnom Penh. And when they do they are often enticed into buying blue zircon - an increasingly rare, semi-precious gemstone. The blue zircon found in the Ratanakiri's Bokeo district is said to be the finest in the world. But few visitors realize that this gemstone is mined at great risk by impoverished locals, including children as young as seven. The Khmer name of the province l...
Kashmir Times News Report
Political situation in Jammu
By Jagdish Jamwal
There is utter confusion in the rural areas of Jammu region, perhaps of India, after Modi has come to power in the country as the Prime Minister of the country. Earlier a majority of the people were neither rightist nor leftist, but they were in a way Centre of the political spectrum and one would even say that their views were more the same as Jawaharlal Nehru expected them to have; one can easily call that as somewhat Left of Centre. That does not mean all the people had the same way of looking at things political, but the majority of the people held that way of looking at political situations. Thus in any gathering, you found a majority of the people looked at things the way a person holding Left of Centre views would look at them. In contrast, before independence, the people of Jamm...
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