Rahul, Yechury demand action on Chandigarh stalking case Opposition protestOpposition parties held protests across the State, seeking the resignation of Mr. Barala.Ashok Tanwar, president of the Congress State unit, who led a protest in Faridabad on Sunday, said an impartial and fair investigation was not possible with Mr. Barala leading the ruling BJP in the State.Mr. Tanwar demanded that he resign on “moral grounds”.He said the BJP had coined the slogan Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, but the entire State machinery was involved in protecting the son of the ruling party leader.Lighter sectionsMr. Tanwar alleged that lighter sections of the Indian Penal Code were invoked in the first information report, and the accused was let off on bail, showing political interference in the investigation.Leader of the Opposition in the Haryana Assembly Abhay Chautala tweeted that the BJP should immediately remove its State president if the party had any self-respect left.Complainant’s standThe complainant told The Hindu over the phone that the Chandigarh police was helpful from the time she made a call to the police control room till she lodged a formal complaint.“The police literally saved my life. The police reached exactly when one of the boys tried to open the door of my car. I do not know what might have happened had the police not reached in time,” she said.She said that she told the police exactly what had happened and could not comment on the sections invoked by the police.“It is their internal matter,” the woman, a disc jockey, said. She did not know the boys prior to the incident.On social mediaHer father said in a Facebook post: “As a father of two daughters, I feel compelled to take this matter to its logical conclusion. The goons must be punished and the law must take its course … I feel if people with some privileges like us cannot stand up to such criminals, nobody in India can. More important, I will be failing in my duty as a father to my daughter if I did not stand with her completely in this matter.”Deputy Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar, who is the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of East Chandigarh, said the police were seeking legal opinion to ascertain if more relevant sections could be invoked in the case. A day after Vikas, son of Subhash Barala, president of the BJP’s Haryana State unit, was arrested, along with his friend Ashish, on the charge of stalking a woman, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday defended his party colleague.“This matter does not concern Subhash Barala, but pertains to an individual. So the action should be initiated against the individual concerned,” Mr. Khattar told presspersons in Hisar.He said he had full faith in the police and the judiciary, and hoped that the Chandigarh Police would carry out a proper investigation.In a press statement, Rajiv Jain, who heads the media department of the BJP in the State, said allegations of political pressure in the case were “baseless” and “without facts”.Also Read
Sangh Parivar activists, including those of the BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the ABVP, tried to assault an inter-religious couple in Hapur on Saturday. They arrived outside the house in Devlok Colony where Vidya Shrivastava and Shoaib Alam lived and created a ruckus, while accusing Alam of manipulating Vidya into marriage. The mob started raising slogans. Vidya and Alam, both residents of Sitamarhi in Bihar, fell in love but their families opposed their relationship. They got married in court early this year and were living in Hapur where Alam has been running a computer training institute. The couple called the police to rescue them from the “harassment” of the Hindutva workers. When the police tried to take the couple out of the house, the Hindutva activists grappled with them trying to snatch Alam from their custody. The police resorted to a lathi charge.Deputy Superintendent of Police Pawan Kumar Baliyan told The Hindu: “While Vidya’s relatives alleged that Alam had lured her and manipulated her into marriage, she told the police that they had married in court and she was living with Alam willingly.” “Vidya’s relatives did not even file a report that she was missing or had been kidnapped,” Mr. Baliyan said. Vijay Pal, MLA, told the media that the girl’s parents reached Hapur and contacted VHP workers, after which they had gone to “rescue” the girl. He alleged that many Hindutva workers were injured in the lathicharge, which SP Hemant Kutiyal denied.
The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a Manipur student activist’s plea challenging his arrest and transit remand in New Delhi in a sedition case lodged against him for making remarks over the Citizenship Bill on social media.Justice Sunil Gaur dismissed activist Veewon Thokchom’s plea who was arrested by Manipur police in Delhi on February 15.The court had earlier reserved order on the plea.Mr. Thokchom had filed the petition through his brother seeking quashing of the transit remand claiming it to be defective.His counsel had argued that the transit remand order suffered from non-application of mind.Counsel for Manipur police had contended that misleading facts were being placed before the court by the activist’s lawyer and he would be taken to Manipur to be produced before the concerned court on February 19.The High Court had earlier in the day, transferred the petition to another Bench for hearing it today itself due to some technical issues.Mr. Thokchom’s counsel had claimed that the 23-year-old youth’s arrest was illegal and after going through the FIR, no criminal offence was being made out.He was arrested and charged with sedition for a Facebook post critical of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The petition has made state of Manipur and Delhi Police as parties.If convicted, the offence of sedition could entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The Haryana government on Sunday issued transfer and posting orders for nine IAS officers with immediate effect, including 1991-batch senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka. Ashok Khemka, principal secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Department has been posted as principal secretary of Science and Technology Department, where he had been posted earlier as well.Vadra land dealThe 1991-batch IAS officer had first been mentioned by the media in 2012 when he had cancelled the mutation of a land deal between Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality and major real estate developer DLF. The IAS officer, who was posted for nearly 15 months in the Sports and Youth Affairs Department, headed by Minister Anil Vij, has been transferred over 45 times in his career so far. The other IAS officers transferred include Amit Jha, additional chief secretary of Medical Education and Research, advisor to Haryana Saraswati Heritage Board and additional chief secretary of Science and Technology Department. He has been posted as additional chief secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Department and advisor to Haryana Saraswati Heritage Board, an official release said here. Siddhi Nath Roy, additional chief secretary of Forests and Wildlife Department, has been given additional charge of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department as Additional Chief Secretary. Rajeev Arora, chief resident commissioner of Haryana Bhawan, New Delhi and additional chief secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, has been given additional charge of Medical Education and Research Department. Apoorva Kumar Singh, principal secretary of Town and Country Planning and Urban Estates Department, has been given additional charge of Faridabad Metropolitan Development Authority as its chief executive officer.
A female Maoist was killed in an exchange of fire between the rebels and security personnel inside Sirla forest near Tumudibandh in Odisha’s Kandhamal district on Wednesday.Four guns, three grenades, one landmine and other items were seized from the encounter spot. According to Odisha Police’s Additional Director General (Operations) R.P. Koche, acting on a tip-off about a secret Maoist camp operating in the area, Special Operations Group personnel and District Voluntary Force started a joint operation in the region on Wednesday morning. The Maoists fired at the security personnel, following which they retaliated. In the exchange of fire a female Maoist was killed and others fled taking advantage of the hilly terrain.The identity of the dead Maoist has not been ascertained yet. The post-mortem of the body would be conducted at Baliguda sub-divisional hospital. Combing operation has been stepped up in the area to track down the rebels who escaped from the spot.
Former BJP leaders Ghanshyam Tiwari, Surendra Goyal and Janardan Singh Gehlot joined the Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi at an event of party workers here on Tuesday. Twelve Independent MLAs were also inducted into the Congress as associate members after they agreed to support the ruling party in the Rajasthan Assembly.Mr. Tiwari, a six-time BJP MLA and considered a hardliner, had rebelled against the then Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and floated the Bharat Vahini Party ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections. Mr. Goyal, a Minister in the previous Vasundhara Raje government, had resigned from the BJP after being denied ticket from Jaitaran constituency in the Assembly polls.Mr. Gehlot, who was originally in the Congress, had resigned and joined the BJP in 2008 when he was denied party ticket from Karauli constituency. Jaipur Zila Pramukh Moolchand Meena and Jaipur Mayor Vishnu Lata also joined the Congress at the meeting of booth-level party workers, who were identified and trained for the Lok Sabha election campaign.Welcoming the leaders into the party fold, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said nobody could have imagined that a BJP stalwart like Mr. Tiwari could join the Congress. “Mr. Tiwari has spent 50 years in Jan Sangh, RSS and BJP. One can understand the disquiet he must have felt in the Sangh Parivar, which has posed an existential threat to the country,” he said.Mr. Tiwari, who had contested and lost from Jaipur’s Sanganer seat in the Assembly election, said he had felt that it was important to join Congress “at this juncture for the protection of democratic values”.BSP leader Dungar Ram Gedar joined the Congress as a full-fledged member. The 12 MLAs who were given associate membership of the party are Suresh Tak, Baljeet Yadav, Kanti Prasad, Ramila Khadia, Rajkumar Gaur, Laxman Meena, Babulal Nagar, Alok Beniwal, Khushveer Singh, Ramkesh Meena, Mahadev Singh Khandela and Sanyam Lodha.
It seems straightforward: Iron-rich dust floating on the wind falls into the sea, where it nourishes organisms that suck carbon dioxide from the air. Over time, so much of this greenhouse gas disappears from the atmosphere that the planet begins to cool. Scientists have proposed that such a process contributed to past ice ages, but they haven’t had strong evidence—until now.“This is a really good paper, a big step forward in the field,” says Edward Boyle, a marine geochemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The research doesn’t directly measure the amount of dissolved iron in the waters due to dust in previous eras, Boyle says, but “they provide a much better case for what [nitrogen levels] have done in the past”—information that can reveal the ebb and flow of ancient life.The notion that iron-rich dust could boost the growth of microorganisms that pull carbon dioxide from the air took hold in the late 1980s. During ice ages, when sea levels are low and broad areas of now-submerged coastal shallows are exposed, sediments rich in iron and other nutrients would dry out, the thinking went. Then, strong winds would loft that fine-grained, dehydrated dust and carry it far offshore, where it would nourish carbon dioxide–sucking phytoplankton at the base of the ocean’s food chain. Previous analyses of sediments that accumulated on sea floors during past millennia suggest that increases in iron-rich dust falling into surface waters boost biological productivity there, but those studies provide only a correlation in timing, says Alfredo Martínez-García, a paleoclimatologist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.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(*)Now, Martínez-García and his colleagues have developed a new way to probe past seafloor sediments. In core samples of bottom mud, they looked at the organic material bound to the carbonate skeletons of one particular species of the free-floating microorganisms called foraminifera. (That particular species is relatively large and easy to identify, so its remains are simple to separate from those of other “forams.”) The researchers were particularly interested in nitrogen, which the microorganisms would have consumed as nitrate dissolved in seawater. The heavier the overall ratio of nitrogen isotopes in a sample, the more the surface waters above that site would have been thriving with life, the new technique suggests. Carbon dating provided an age for each sediment sample.Applying the new method, the researchers looked at a more-than-5-meter-long sediment core, representing about 160,000 years of accumulation, drilled from the deep sea floor off the southwestern coast of South Africa. Prevailing winds would have carried dust there from the eastern coast of South America when sea levels were low during ice ages, and from Patagonian deserts during interglacial periods, Martínez-García says. So, he notes, sediment accumulation at this site should provide a good test of the iron fertilization hypothesis.Results show strong links among the amount of dust deposited in the region, biological productivity at the sea surface, and the amount of dissolved nitrate consumed by the forams, the researchers report online today in Science. Those relationships were true during the peaks of the last two ice ages, as well as during centuries-long spates of colder-than-normal climate at other times in the past 160,000 years, Martínez-García says.The biochemical fingerprint that the team has identified explains only about half of the carbon dioxide variation that occurred between past glacial and interglacial periods, says Andrew Watson, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. So, although iron fertilization may be a major factor influencing Earth’s climate, it doesn’t fully explain the coming and going of ice ages. Nevertheless, he notes, “this is the nicest data that I’ve seen yet.”And although past field studies have shown that artificially seeding the seas with iron has boosted biological productivity in the ocean, debate still rages about whether the carbon pulled from the atmosphere ends up locked away in seafloor sediments for the long term—a goal for efforts intended to geoengineer the climate by removing atmospheric CO2. Indeed, some research suggests that creatures higher in the ocean’s food web, taking advantage of the increased food supply, respond with a population boom of their own and quickly return the carbon dioxide to the ecosystem in the normal course of breathing.
Bruce Aylward is used to mobilizing armies of health workers. An assistant director-general at the World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of polio and emergencies, he leads the massive global effort to eradicate the poliovirus. But Aylward says he has never encountered a challenge as great as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has infected more than 4000 people and killed more than 2000. Margaret Chan, who heads WHO, asked Aylward to help with the response in August; since then, he has been running operations and helped draw up WHO’s Ebola Response Roadmap, released on 28 August. He spoke with Science on 4 September. (This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.)Q: Margaret Chan has said that all organizations involved in the outbreak, including WHO, underestimated its complexity and magnitude. How did this happen?A: I didn’t live through it all, but as I’ve gone back and asked what was happening, clearly these guys [in the response effort] have been flat-out on this for 6 months. And they’ve put 450 people in the field. Those are unheard-of numbers in responding to Ebola. But the virus got ahead of them.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(*)Could the response have been scaled up faster? Maybe they were off by 2 weeks at one point here or there. As Margaret says, you’re always a couple of weeks behind this virus, and there are so many reasons why. It’s a dangerous pathogen. Foreign medical teams and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] are used to dealing with trauma and primary health care; they’re not trained to deal with pathogens.Q: I’ve heard there are tensions between WHO and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the organization that has treated more patients than any other. They have criticized WHO for being too slow and doing too little.A: Probably at local levels there’s some tension in some places, but certainly not here, in Geneva at senior levels. There’s a great respect for the organization. MSF is great at two things: They’re fantastic at their field operations and at telling the rest of us how bad we are at them. Sure, people are going to go out and say, “Oh, that’s unfair.” You have to have a tough skin. You’re in the World Health Organization; you’re dealing with a major international threat, and our job is to be accountable. And if MSF feels that this is public accountability, it’s their right.Q: Why is stopping this outbreak so hard compared with controlling polio?A: The polio program is really tough because of the level of programmatic perfection you need. You have to get to every single kid with vaccine over a huge geography and in very challenging environments. But even if you don’t, you still have a level of control over the virus. Now, when I look at Ebola, you need a whole other level of perfection.You have to do perfect contact tracing, because one contact can blow open a whole new chain of transmission. You have to get your burials perfectly safe. You have to get your laboratory testing right. There isn’t a lot of capacity in the world on that. You have to get your social messages right. You have to be perfectly safe and protect health care workers. And you have to do all this in incredibly weak environments, in three countries that are near the bottom of the development index, and also deal with the embers that land in Nigeria or in Senegal. Wow, that is really tough.Q: Do you think it’s still possible to contain the outbreak with the standard procedures—isolating patients, tracing contacts, burying the dead safely?A: Absolutely. But with an important difference. What’s happened is you’ve got a caseload that far exceeds the capacity of the standard Ebola strategies to manage them, so you have to innovate on these strategies. Each infected person is having a heap of contacts because they’re basically being left in their communities for long periods of time. What you’ve got to do is first of all cut down the outward spread from every patient, which means you’ve got to get many new Ebola treatment centers up. And you’ve got to adapt your strategies in a way that communities can play a much bigger role and help them scale up their own Ebola community care units. This is absolutely critical and must be done in September.Will it be done? Well, that’s going to depend on whether the international community will put the money on the table, help the people get in, and understand the conditions they need to operate.Q: WHO’s Ebola road map calls for the epidemic to be ended in 6 to 9 months. Isn’t that overly optimistic?A: I don’t know, because no one’s ever had to do something on this scale before. What I do know is if this road map is not implemented, you’re not going to stop it in 6 to 9 months. In 1 month you need at least 10 new facilities operational with additional bed capacity and teams on the ground, and money so that people doing this stuff are getting paid, and a way to evacuate the responders that get into medical trouble there. You have to start implementing the road map today.But the usual relief organizations aren’t lining up to do it. These aren’t bad people and these aren’t cowards. These are people who go into the most dangerous operating environments—wars and natural disasters. But they don’t normally deal with hazardous pathogens.Q: So you need more people and you need more money, but it’s simply not coming?A: Not yet, but I’m optimistic. I think it’s taking the world time to grapple with this. It is so new, and it plays to people’s deepest fears and their greatest uncertainties. People will learn MSF is going to stay on the ground there. And then one or two NGOs are going to go in and run a facility, and they’re going to do fine. And then it’s going to escalate. The world doesn’t want to be beaten by a pathogen. But the question is: Are they going to do it fast enough?Q: So who are the players that you hope will come to build and run treatment centers?A: A lot of foreign medical teams are linked to governments, and some affected countries have deep relationships: the U.S. with Liberia; the U.K. with Sierra Leone; France with Guinea. Now those countries are very keen to look at what they can do and how to do it, but they are having trouble mobilizing. They might be able to put up a field hospital, but can they staff it? Because a field hospital that’s not staffed is just one more building, that’s not an Ebola treatment center.Q: Two vaccine candidates are soon going to be tested in phase I studies and may be deployed later this year. How important do you think they and candidate drugs will be for ending the epidemic?A: You want to have as many tools as possible to help drive down that reproductive number to where you can manage it with traditional strategies. You want to do both things in parallel and go flat-out. The vaccines and new therapies would be hugely helpful—they would help get responders in and keep the responders that are there healthy. That may give us an edge to shut this thing down more quickly. But if we say we need these drugs and vaccines, then you’re setting yourself up for defeat because you might not get them. And then you also have the risk of people saying: “There’s going to be a vaccine or med, let’s wait,” and then an awful lot of people are going to die. I’m not going to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting to find out, and neither is my organization.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.
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Once small farmers in the villages of Gujarat, they now harvest diamonds. And what a bumper crop it is!Almost 80 percent of the world’s polished diamonds pass through the hands of Indian merchants, some of whom are among the biggest players in the multibillion-dollar diamond business. These merchants of dreams create the sparkling diamond rings, solitaire earrings and wedding bands that initiate couples into wedded bliss; they are the ones who craft the jeweled baubles that celebrate every joyous occasion.For Indian diamond merchants, many of whom are the descendents of farmers from Palanpur and Kathiawar in Gujarat, the whole world has become their beat. The diamond-paved city of Antwerp is a second home to them, as is the bustling diamond district of New York. Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Russia, Sri Lanka and Canada are all extensions of their factories and workplaces and their glittering crafts are found in retail emporia around the world.Today, India’s total export of gem and jewelry to the United States alone stands at $6.2 billion, and Indian goods account for over two-thirds of the total volume of retail jewelry sold in the United States. In fact, the Indian company Rosy Blue is one of the largest customers for rough diamonds from the diamond giant De Beers, which controls 60 percent of the world’s supply. At least six Indian companies make up the top ten De Beers clients. Rajshekhar Parikh of Renaissance Gems: “When we came, we used to sell to Jewish wholesalers. Then we started selling to retailers and went into jewelry manufacturing.”Other major companies that have a presence on several continents apart from Rosy Blue, are Eurostar, Emby International, Vijay Diamonds, Disons Gems, Paras Diamonds, and Shivani Gems. The Lakhi Group, another major player in the industry, entered the media limelight when Dilip Kumar Lakhi became the highest individual taxpayer in India in 2003.The Lakhi family, probably the only Sindhi family among the big players, started out modestly in Jaipur as traders in precious stones and then moved into manufacturing. Today the five brothers have expanded the family business to several companies, and Prakash Lakhi heads Vishinda in New York. The Lakhi Group is one of the largest exporter of diamonds from India and has perhaps the world’s largest diamond polishing factory in Surat, with over 6,000 workers under one roof.Nor are Indian diamond merchants, a low profile crowd if ever there was one, blowing their own trumpet. The Wall Street Journal did it for them recently, noting that in Antwerp, the Indians’ share of the $26 billion-a-year diamond revenues had risen to roughly 65 percent from about 25 percent just 20 years ago. The Jewish share had fallen to 25 percent from 70 percent.Idex, the magazine of the International Diamond Exchange, published from Israel, also recently ran an article titled “India’s Dazzling Secrets.”While estimating that India produces 50 percent of the world’s polished diamond consumption by value and 80 percent by weight, the article notes that the Indian industry alone imported some 129.3 million carats of rough diamonds last year: “India has become financially probably the strongest manufacturing sector and its largest companies are among the fastest growing conglomerates in the world.” Basant Johari: “We grew up seeing diamonds and emeralds right from birth.”Indians, of course, have a very old connection with diamonds. In fact, the Museum of Natural History in New York showcased a landmark exhibition of diamonds recently, noting that the first diamonds were mined in India. The earliest known hreference to diamonds is in a Sanskrit manuscript, the Arthasastra by Kautiliya, a minister to Chandragupta of the Mauryan dynasty.Diamonds were discovered in India in the 4th century BC and except for a minor supply of diamonds in Borneo, India was the world’s only source until the 1730s. The diamond mines of Golconda were legendary, but gradually rich deposits were discovered in many other countries. Today the Majhgawan pipe near Panna is India’s only diamond producing source, and now the hot spots for mining have shifted to Australia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Canada.Ever the innovators, Indians have taken on a new role: banking on skilled hands and eyes and enterprise, they have become the most prolific diamond polishers in the world!“The largest exporter of polished diamonds is India and Israel is second,” says Basant Johari, the president of Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association in New York. “India exports by value about 50 percent of the world’s production, and by quantity over 80 percent in carats. If you look at the number of stones, India produces ten stones out of every 11 stones.” Apart from the skill, Johari explains, there is a very big difference in the price structure of labor in India, as compared to Israel or the United States.In India, the rough diamonds come from either De Beers or traders who buy in the open market in Antwerp, and to a certain extent even from New York and other places in the world, including the Argyle Mines in Australia. So, not surprisingly, Indians have become entrenched in Antwerp, which is the hub of the diamond trade with four diamond exchanges. Prakash Lakhi of Vishinda in New York. The Lakhi group is one of the largest exporters of diamonds from India.Dilip Mehta, who is based in Antwerp, is one of the biggest players. He is the CEO of Rosy Blue, a global company that had net sales of $1.25 billion last year, with offices or factories in 14 locations employing15,000 people worldwide. It is the biggest exporter of polished diamonds from India, but its dealings have spread across continents.When this writer conducted a long interview with Mehta in Antwerp via his cell phone on a Sunday, he constantly and politely terminated other calls, but he did attend to one pressing matter. It was the demands of his little granddaughter, insisting he untie a balloon. The lines from Europe to America crackled, as things came to a halt while he patiently attended to this important task.And that somehow sums up one of the big hidden strengths of India’s diamond merchants: their strong family ties. Whether in manufacturing, buying or selling, Indian diamond merchants have a strong family support system and many willing hands.In fact, the majority of the businesses are family-owned, and certain names like Mehta, Shah, Jhaveri and Patel dominate in the diamond industry. Many of them hail from Palanpur, a small town in Gujarat, and Palanpuris initially controlled the diamond trade in India. In the late 70s and early 80s, they accounted for 85-90 percent of the Indian trade. Indians are a sizable presence on New York’s diamond district, which stretches between 5th and 6th Avenue on 47th Street.They are still the main component of the diamond industry, especially in buying and selling, but lately, Kathiawaris, hailing from Saurashtra in Gujarat, have become active in the actual cutting and polishing of diamonds, already accounting for about 30-40 percent of the Indian industry. “We grew up seeing diamonds and emeralds right from birth,” says Johari, who came to New York in the 1980s. “My father, grandfather, great grandfather were all in the same business. In India, people work also at home, so it’s like a 24-hour job.” Johari, who is a Vaishnav from Benares, recalls that his family used to do business with the royals, who sometimes bought, but mostly sold jewels, as their financial status dictated.Jivraj Bhai Surani, founder of JB Diamonds Group, is one of the prominent Kathiawari diamond dealers. The business started back in 1963, with the family actually doing the polishing. Surani, who is a past president of the Surat Diamond Association and co-convener of the Gujarat Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion, lives in Surat, but for him, as for most of the diamond merchants, New York is just a flight away.Surani’s brothers are in Antwerp and Hong Kong, and his son heads the New York office. The JB Diamond Group has factories in India, China, Thailand and Hong Kong. Says Surani, “I have three boys all in the business, but years ago my family were farmers in Bhavnagar.”As the families have spread out from India, Antwerp has become a major base: in the 70s there were just about 15 Indian families, today there are 300 families. Last year, international media attention was fixated on an Indian wedding in Antwerp. “Even by the standards of lavish Indian marriage ceremonies, the weekend double wedding of Vishal and Priya Shah, son and daughter of Vijay Shah, one of the biggest diamond dealers in the world, has set a new benchmark for opulence and innovation,” gushed The London Telegraph. “For a few days Antwerp, the world’s diamond trading center, has became a Bollywood fantasy at an estimated cost of £10 million ($18 million).”Weddings are, of course, a sacred cow in the Indian ethos where no expense is spared, but generally diamond merchants have kept a very low profile even as they’ve become a major force in the industry. Simple lifestyles, family togetherness and a vegetarian diet are their credo. Currently, Indian-origin companies control 55-60 percent of the Antwerp trade, but not all of the polishing is done in India. Indian merchants are diversifying their operations to far-flung places in South East Asia, Russia and Armenia, thus expanding their base, as the diamond industry seeks out low cost areas for manufacturing.“Indians had the flexibility and the ability, and because of their geographic situation and big families, they could put people all around the world. Their business grew much more as compared to the other communities,” says Mehta. How well do the Indians interact with the Jewish merchants in Antwerp? Says Mehta, “The diamond community is made up of all cultures; you have the Jewish community, the local Flemish people and quite a few Lebanese and the Armenians. Then you have the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. The industry really is a melting pot of various cultures so it works very well. They all have common interests – to grow the business and prosper.”This commonality of business interests has motivated the two communities – who are both very strong on family values, hard work and religion – to learn to co-exist in the business. Jewish and Indian business organizations often honor each other’s community leaders or invite them to sit on their boards of directors. Indian merchants often donate to Jewish causes, and after the Gujarat quake took place, Jewish dealers also chipped in.According to the Wall Street Journal, the polishing costs in India are 80 percent lower than in Antwerp, and until recently the Jewish merchants polished and cut the diamonds locally. Indians also had another point in their favor, for as the Journal notes, they “also proved canny at polishing and cutting the lower-quality rough diamonds that Jewish traders typically overlooked, squeezing higher profit margins than thei Jewish competitors and pumping the profits back into their businesses.” The Journal noted: “While the Jews try to stem their decline, the Indians are demanding that their influence in the Antwerp diamond world mirror their economic might. They want better representation on Antwerp’s High Diamond Council, the powerful body that regulates the city’s diamond industry.”Amal Jhaveri, a past president of IDCA and president of sales and marketing at Sugem in New York, says: “We are competitors, but we are all working together in many different ways. We are all born businessmen, so we’re going to do business; but there is enough place in this business for everyone.”When the IDCA was formed 17 years ago, there were just 65 member companies, but today it has over 300 member companies that participate in shows in New York, Las Vegas, Tuscan (Arizona) and Orlando.As Indians have streamed into the diamond business, they have become a sizable presence on 47th street, the nerve center of New York’s bustling diamond district, stretching between 5th and 6th Avenues. In recent years, as more players have entered, the district has spilled into neighboring streets and avenues too. Amidst the hustle and bustle of retail jewelry shops on the street level and in the vaulted offices above them, are probably an ocean of diamonds.Security has been beefed up dramatically in these buildings, especially after 9/11, but tenants can remember bygone times, when there were muggings and break-ins. Traveling salesmen, laden with gems, still have the occasional hold-up in Atlanta or Puerto Rico, but the business has become fortified. Jewelers rarely carry the gems on their person, sending them ahead by special couriers who cater to the diamond trade. “There have been a lot of changes. The business has changed step by step, quite dramatically,” says Rajshekhar Parikh of Renaissance Gems, who came to the United States in 1975. “Each year it has continuously changed, the way things are done. When we came, we used to sell to the Jewish wholesalers. Then we started selling to retailers and went into jewelry manufacturing. There has been a shift and the dominance of the trade has become much larger.”Sometimes, outside factors help too. Parikh explains that since the U.S. Government eliminated duty on Indian jewelry, the industry has expanded. “It’s a combination of many things which are giving a push to this business.” Indian diamond merchants are trading in everything from large stones to colored stones, from semi-precious to smaller goods; they are even doing the actual setting and manufacturing here for clients, and have even branched out into gold for the U.S. consumer.Over time, Indians are becoming more market savvy and catering to the demands of the American consumer. Says Johari, who heads Dow Gems, which specializes in loose diamonds: “All the items are geared to the American market and if you go to major stores like JC Penneys, Macy’s, Sears or Walmarts, or retail jewelry chains like Zales, K Jewelers or Litmans, most of the jewelry you see is through India.”In fact, even if the merchandise is actually from China or Bangkok, most is being supplied through India and the diamonds are passing through Indian hands. Johari’s jewelry division, Kuber Inc., for instance, is manufacturing the bulk of its merchandise right here while some of it is done in Bangkok, China and India.It may sound intriguing to hear that jewelry manufacturing is actually being done in the United States, but as Johari explains, “Anything which is labor-intensive will go out, because labor is cheap overseas, but other items are finished here. Americans, Armenians, even Indians are running contracting factories with Chinese, Indian, and Spanish workmen who do the setting and finishing right here.”Of the entire American consumer market, the bridal business is the biggest and includes wedding bands, engagement rings as well as jewelry for anniversaries. Larger stones of a carat to three carat still come largely from Israel and Antwerp, and the proportion of Indians selling such stones, though growing, is still small.To the uninitiated eye, the grading of diamonds can be bewildering, but there is a fine science to it as the stones are calibrated for cut, clarity and color. If you have a diamond certified from the Gemological Institute of America, and take the stone back to them five years later for re-evaluation, chances are you will get the exact same report.Interestingly enough, India itself is becoming a lucrative market for the sale of big diamonds and diamond jewelry, earlier reserved just for the wealthy. Explains Johari, “In India the middleclass has been growing and there has been a shift away from gold jewelry so the market for diamonds has grown.”So what is the secret of the Indian success in the global marketplace? Says Amal Jhaveri: “They are business oriented from birth. It’s in their blood. The reason for their success is that they change according to the times. Where the wind is blowing, they blend. We are very low-profile people – in any community, anywhere we blend.” Rosy Blue is a blueprint for how a business can grow from modest beginnings. This family business started in the 1960s in India and branched out to Antwerp in the 1970s. The brothers then started expanding their manufacturing to Sri Lanka, with local partners. Today they have factories in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Armenia, Israel, and Sri Lanka.They have a manufacturing base of various products and distribution is well established with operations that are over 25 years old. Explains Mehta, “These are very mature operations focusing on local competition, rather than just worrying about being better than your fellow Indians. That policy has helped us very well so that one thinks global and acts local.”Rather than just relying on family, the company has encouraged outside talent. “We started making that change in the late 70s because one realizes that you cannot always produce capable children. We’ve been very lucky so far; sometimes it actually makes sense to have professionals as they bring new insights. Today all our operations are very competitive in their own areas and their own regions.”Many Indian companies have started doing the same to keep pace with a sophisticated market. Indians, ever the explorers, are also trying out many new possibilities, landing up in Russia, South Africa, Botswana and the Congo to set up factories. Entrepreneurs are setting up contacts with African governments. An Indian has even set up a factory in Yakutia in Siberia!Dilip Mehta believes there is a need for all this activity since the stockpiles of rough diamonds have diminished considerably with all the mining companies, including De Beers. “Everybody has working stocks and that’s created a lot of anxiety amongst the diamond people in the world, and all of them are trying to secure supplies from wherever they can. They are looking for all the opportunities of business.”Rosy Blue, for instance, has opened cutting factories in Canada in Yellowknife, which is also a source for rough diamonds. Says Mehta, “So it’s all about people moving to where there are business opportunities and if it ties into the supply situation then it works very well. This is what Indians have been able to do due to their flexibility and large families. They’ve been able to adapt and so naturally their business has been increasing.”Indians have also been moving on to new pastures, to bigger diamonds. Earlier they were mainly dealing with lower qualities, but are now producing predominately middle quality diamonds, sizes up to 2 carats. About five or six cutters in India are also producing larger, high quality diamonds. Indians in the industry are agile in adapting to the times. “People have moved on and the interesting thing is that we’re talking about people like us who had just a high school education and no formal training,” says Dilip Mehta.“And now how things have evolved! We trained ourselves over a period of time and now with the younger generation, more focused and more educated, coming in, it’s making a difference big time. Indians are doing just about everything and they are in the true sense business houses now.” Related Items
Remember Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Khosla ka Ghosla, Aamir, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Dev D, Mithya and Bheja Fry? Wasn’t it just the other day that these films were hymned and celebrated by critics, industry-wallahs, trade and the audience alike, and termed as the “New Parallel Cinema” of the new-age? Remember how the intelligentsia — the educated, discriminating, middle-class — lapped them up and eagerly looked forward to more? Even the likes of Mr. & Mrs. Iyer, 15 Park Avenue and Gandhi, My Father were celebrated by the discerning and went heavy-duty on the word-of-mouth track.So, what happened? It is reported that over a 100 small films, censor-approved and ready, are rotting in the cans with no takers! One major player in this category confessed he had six unsold movies on hand. So is this genre, which had spawned sub-brands, such as UTV’s Spotboy, PNC’s Guerilla, Mukta Arts Malpix, Sanjay Gupta’s White Feather Films Arthouse, and Balaji’s Alt Entertainment, on the verge of a fade-out?Tough call, but insiders point to Dibakar Banerjee’s (whose earlier Khosla and Oye Lucky were thumping successes) latest Love, Sex Aur Dhoka as the first deadly thud that started it all. After the initial hullabaloo — shot in high definition, devoid of stars, original concept — the Ekta Kapoor product designed to zonk the multiplex audience with a cathartic, never-before-experience, mysteriously zoomed out and landed in a DVD avatar in shelves across the globe within two weeks of release.Wassup? Saas Bahu Aur SensexDepends on who who’s telling. The UTV honchos, perhaps the biggest backers of this genre, admit it was no easy task getting films like A Wednesday, Aamir, Mumbai Meri Jaan or Sajjanpur off the block. “Solid investments, both monetary and marketing focus had to be called upon. No regrets. We went into these projects with our eyes open and remain proud of our association with these excellent products,” says Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures. However, when recession struck, marketing budgets for these small films took a big hit making their entry non-viable. Kapur is quick to explode a popular myth of small films being risk-free, commercially. He insists that the exact opposite is true, “If they don’t hit the bull’s eye, you could end up losing your total investment.”Adds a trade analyst, that while tons of money were indeed lost on multi-starrer bombs such as Drona, Chandni Chowk to China, Luck, Kidnap, Kambaqt Ishq and now the latest Kites and Raavan, people will still happily stand in line to see their favorite stars in big glossy movies rather than glamor-free, star-less fare like Saas Bahu aur Sensex, Dasvidanya, Aamras, Ugly aur Pagli, or Raat Gayi Baat Gayi. The other reason, say insiders, was the greed of the quick-buck, on-the-make financiers of these movies. Witnessing the success of small films, a quick appreciation on investment, and the viability of cashing in on numbers (six small films as opposed to one risky monster-budget, mega-starrer?) quantity preceded quality, leading to shoddy, even badly-made films with little style and less substance. Naturally, they had to be peeled off the ceiling!Finally, there is the terrifying logic articulated by a hot-shot producer: “Most small films are on DTH (Direct to Home) within days of their release. When viewers go to multiplexes and are offered a choice between SRK, Aamir and Akshay with Kareena, Kat and Priyanka and Vinay Pathak and Rajat Kapoor with Neha Dhupia and Neetu Chandra, having to shell out the same big bucks, any prizes for guessing which side is going to win, hands down?”So, at the end of the day, what gives? For one, substance and content remain key for small films to make big waves. Two, big ideas rather than big bucks, both in content and marketing focus in terms of bold, unique, unusual, or unconventional innovation have to be dreamed up and creatively leveraged. Finally — and this might be critical — can’t ticket prices for small films be rationalized to make them more realistic in confrontation with mega-crore glossies? As a perceptive Bollywood producer explained, it is the multiplexes, originally created to promote small films, that pose the biggest roadblocks to small films. Can or will that happen?This demand, from saner voices within the industry for alternative, smaller auditoriums for small films has been voiced for the last five decades. Only P.C. Sorcar or Houdini can help otherwise. Related Items
The Indian government has selected The Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) Trust to run the country’s first Non Resident Indian University in Bangalore. The proposed university will start functioning from the 2009-10 academic year with its student body evenly split between overseas Indians and resident Indians.The trust currently runs nearly 20 educational institutes, including Manipal University and Kasturba Medical College. Related Items
What is believed to be only one of two recordings of English speeches delivered by Mahatma Gandhi has surfaced in Washington, D.C.The recording of Gandhi’s speech to a group of Asian leaders in New Delhi by journalist Alfred Wagg had been preserved by John Cosgrove, a former president of the National Press Club.Gandhi is reported to have been recorded just twice speaking in English, once in 1930 and the second time in April 1947, nine months before his death on Jan 30, 1948. In the speech, Gandhi says:“If you really want to see India at its best, you have to find it in the Bhangi cottage, in a humble Bhangi home…. “What I want you to understand – if you can – that the message of the East, the message of Asia, is not to be learned through European spectacles, through Western spectacles, not by imitating the tension of the West, the gunpowder of the West, the atom bomb of the West. If you want to give a message again to the West, it must be a message of love; it must be a message of truth…”Gandhi rebukes his audience as they cheer him: “Please, please, please. That will interfere with my speech and that will interfere with your understanding also. I want to capture your hearts, and don’t want to receive your claps. Let your hearts clap in unison with what I am saying, and I think I shall have finished my work.” Related Items
Satyam, the disgraced Indian outsourcing giant, has re-branded itself as Mahindra Satyam following its acquisition by Tech Mahindra. New CEO C.P. Gurnani said: “Mahindra Satyam has four immediate priorities: to strengthen corporate governance, enhance customer delight, regain market share, and build the brand.’’ Related Items