Manipur drug-makers prove elusive for police

first_imgIn the second week of March, M. Pradip, Superintendent of Police of Thoubal district, Manipur, got an SMS on his mobile phone, tipping him off about a drug trafficker at Moijing village in the district. The man was allegedly manufacturing opium and heroin in an improvised mobile unit. The informer had switched off his phone when Mr. Pradip rang back, but the information appeared authentic.A raid was immediately ordered. But the intelligence network of the drug traffickers, it turned out, was efficient too. They had time to flee, taking the drugs with them. The only things they could not cart away were sackfuls of opium, manufacturing equipment, utensils and chemicals such as ammonium chloride and lime.“The lone person around was an aged and sick woman, who appeared disoriented,” Mr. Pradip told The Hindu.It was the same story in subsequent raids as well. The villagers do not welcome police and security personnel in their areas. There have been instances when they destroyed Army jeeps or viciously attacked police personnel who went in search of drug pushers and other criminals.Golden triangleManipur, which is contiguous with Myanmar and falls in the golden triangle, is a fertile ground for poppy cultivation. Farmers grow them in vast areas of the valley and the hills.The occasional destruction of the verdant poppy plants has not impacted the thriving business. “The poppy-growing season does not clash with paddy crop. And the income from poppy is huge,” an anti-narcotics official say. “Anti-narcotics officials can do little, because the department is understaffed and officials have to work by the book. They cannot destroy the vast cultivations.”Women bring in the stuff in sacks of vegetables, charcoal and other items. They sell the poppy fruits in the villages in Thoubal district.EC warningAhead of the March elections in Manipur, the Election Commission of India had informed the government about the presence of mobile drug laboratories producing opium, brown sugar and heroin. But the kingpins, who allegedly get huge funding from drug barons across the country, are still at large.Most of the villagers resent raids and see them as an anti-Muslim move. But officials suspect that some protesters backing stone-throwing and firings may actually be beneficiaries of the drug cartel. The possibility of moles in the force is not ruled out since drug traffickers always seem to be many steps ahead of the police.Opium, brown sugar and heroin are smuggled out to many States. As thousands of vehicles ply daily along the highways passing through Manipur, it is easy to transport drug packets without being noticed.Informed circles say the local drug production in Manipur has not affected drug smuggling from across the border. Huge quantities of prescription drugs are smuggled out for drug production. Some years ago, the police nabbed members of a gang engaged in such drug smuggling. The last catch was worth over ₹30 crore in the local market. One ranking Army officer and the son of a prominent politician were among those arrested. Huge consignments of prescription drugs were sent through post offices, air cargoes and private couriers. Despite many seizures, no significant arrests were made.The police are now trying to create awareness among the villagers. Mr. Pradip says that the grim reality has sunk in.Anti-narcotics officials feel that drug smugglers have found their movement restricted after the Assam Rifles manning the 358 km long Manipur-Myanmar border stepped up vigilance against militants.last_img read more

Civilian killed in Kashmir’s Shopian district

first_imgSuspected militants killed a civilian in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday, second such killing in the past 24 hours. Preliminary reports suggest that militants alighted at Shopian’s Pinjora area and fired upon advocate Imtiyaz Ahmad Khan. He succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.Khan, who was a public prosecutor, contested assembly polls in 2014 and is considered close to National Conference.On Saturday, Bashir Ahmad Dar, considered close to ruling Peoples Democratic Party, was shot dead in Pulwama district.last_img

Mehbooba rules out third party mediation on Kashmir

first_imgChief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday ruled out any third party mediation on Kashmir issue.Reacting to former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah’s demand for a third party intervention, Ms. Mufti said, “There can be no place for a third party intervention in Jammu and Kashmir.”Mr. Abdullah on Friday sought the help of the U.S. and China “to mediate over the Kashmir issue”.“Let America and China mind their own business. Look at the places America has interfered in, be it Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq. While China has its own problems to deal with in Tibet. We have the Lahore Declaration and the Shimla Agreement with us,” Ms. Mufti said.last_img

Major, sepoy killed in Kashmir

first_imgIn two encounters, two soldiers, including a Major, and two militants were killed in south Kashmir on Thursday.Three soldiers received bullet injuries during an anti-militancy operation launched at Imam Sahab, Shopian around 2:30 a.m. “There was specific inputs about the presence of militants in Matribugh, Zoipora village. As security forces zeroed in, the militants hiding there opened fire, injuring two security personnel,” said a police official.The injured soldiers, Major Kamlash Pandey and Sepoys Tanjin Chhutin and Kripal Singh, were shifted to the Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar for treatment. “However, two soldiers, including the Major, died of their injuries. The condition of another injured is stated to be critical,” said the police official.Sources said around three militants managed to escape from the encounter site in the cover of darkness.In a statement issued in Srinagar, Hizb-ul-Mujahudeen claimed the responsibility for the Shopian attack. “Field operational commander congratulates the militants and announced cash reward for them,” it said.In the adjacent Kulgam district, the police said, security forces killed two militants in Gopalpora, Damhal-Hanjipora. Two AK-47 rifles were recovered from them. “One of the militants was involved in the killing of five policemen and bank guards at Pambay, Kulgam,” said the police. Initial reports suggest the militants could be Aqib and Suhail, both locals.The authorities have suspended the mobile Internet service in south Kashmir.last_img read more

13 railway employees of Khatauli station terminated for Utkal Express derailment

first_imgThe Railway administration on Wednesday terminated the services of 13 railway employees of the Khatauli station for the derailment of Utkal Express on August 19. More than 24 people were killed and 154 injured during the derailment which happened when Utkal Express was allowed to cross the track even when the track was being repaired. The local track men and railway engineers allowed repair work without taking the prior permission of senior officials. Superintendent of Khatauli railway station Rajendra Singh told The Hindu that the tracks were being repaired without informing senior officials. Those who were removed include 11 trackmen, 1 junior engineer and 1 hammer man. They were found to have committed “serious lapse during duty.” Neeraj Sharma, the chief spokesperson of the Northern Railway told The Hindu, “In connection with Khatauli train accident, 13 Railway employee including 11 trackmen, 1 Junior engineer, 1 hammer man, have been removed from service by Railway administration. They were involved in serious lapse during duty.”The termination of services of employees comes in a series of major reshuffle in the administrative set up of the railways following the derailment.last_img read more

No place for gods at Nashik Municipal Corporation

first_imgWith slackers in the Nashik Municipal Corporation feeling the heat of the newly appointed commissioner Tukaram Mundhe’s functioning methods, the IAS officer on Tuesday issued yet another directive prohibiting display of images of gods and religious figures at work tables and stations of the employees.Mr. Mundhe has ordered work places and desks across departments in the NMC to be cleared of religious imagery.Government orderThe Commissioner was acting on a government order which dissuades government employees from adorning offices with such pictures or performing rituals.According to sources, the clearing has already begun in right earnest. In another move literally aimed at dusting off bureaucratic spider webs, the Commissioner has ordered that the NMC premises be cleaned every Saturday and Sunday, and dust from files to be swept away.Transferred nearly a dozen times in his 13-year tenure as IAS officer, Mr. Mundhe is a darling of the vernacular press, which minutely tracks his actions and pronouncements.One of his first acts on taking charge of the NMC on February 9 was to send the chief of the Nashik Fire Brigade home after he failed to appear in ‘proper uniform’.Imposing strict sartorial discipline, Mr. Mundhe has also warned all NMC employees to follow a formal dress code during work hours and that wearing casuals and sport shoes would not be tolerated.Determined to make his staff look crisp and sharp, Mr. Mundhe, while outlining his vision to transform Nashik into an ideal city on the cleanliness, environment and civic amenities fronts, has ordered that employees adhere to punctuality.His no-nonsense style of functioning has found himself perpetually at daggers drawn with politicos and contractors, while earning plaudits and cheers from citizens.His previous posting as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) lasted barely 10 months, with the city’s corporators resenting Mr. Mundhe’s efforts to revive the moribund PMPML as “overbearing”.In a bid to make the organization [PMPML] efficient, Mr. Mundhe had sacked nearly 160 contract drivers for poor attendance records – a move that drew the ire of populist politicians.last_img read more

Parrikar expected to hold Cabinet meeting on June 15

first_imgGoa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who is expected to return from the U.S. late on June 14 has summoned a Cabinet meeting on Friday.This was disclosed by a Cabinet Minister in the BJP-led coalition government on Wednesday requesting anonymity. The Minister said that they have been informed by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on Wednesday that he would like to meet the Council of Ministers on Friday and requested them to remain in Goa.“The venue for the meeting with the Chief Minister has not been confirmed yet. But we have been informed by the CMO about the proposed meeting,” the Minister said. Mr. Parrikar (62) has been undergoing treatment in a New York hospital for more than three months. He was shifted to the U.S. in March this year, for specialised treatment.last_img

Parrikar to stay as Goa Chief Minister: Amit Shah

first_imgGoa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will continue in his post, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said on September 23, as he announced that a reshuffle of the State’s Ministers would soon take place.The BJP chief said so in a tweet following a discussion with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s core group team from Goa.“It has been decided during a discussion with the Goa BJP core team that Manohar Parrikar will continue to lead the Goa government. There will soon be a reshuffle of Ministers and their portfolios,” he said.Mr. Parrikar’s poor health has sparked speculation over his continuation as the Chief Minister of Goa, and Mr. Shah had recently sent a central party leaders team to the coastal State to speak to allies and take stock of the political situation.The opposition Congress, which is the single-largest party in the State, has also staked a claim to form government. The BJP has asserted that its government continues to have the support of a majority of MLAs.Mr. Parrikar is at present admitted at the AIIMS and undergoing treatment for a pancreas-related ailment.last_img read more

Arrest Milind Ekbote ahead of Bhima-Koregaon anniversary celebrations, says Bhim Army

first_imgBhim Army, on Sunday, hit out at Milind Ekbote, demanding that the right-wing leader be detained ahead of the 201st anniversary celebrations of the 1818 Koregaon-Bhima battle on January 1 to prevent him from aggravating social tensions.Milind Ekbote, prime accused in orchestrating the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, had earlier written to the Bhima-Koregaon inquiry panel urging them to deny permission to Bhim Army’s rally in Pune on December 30.“Who is Ekbote, who is named in an FIR as the chief instigator of the Bhima-Koregaon riots and is out on bail, to deny us permission? He has always disturbed the peace in the past with his inflammatory remarks. We urge the Pune police not to give importance to his affidavit and place him under house arrest till the January 1 ceremony passes off peacefully,” said Datta Pol, the outfit’s Pune district president, speaking to The Hindu on Sunday.The Dalit outfit is planning to hold a ‘Bhima-Koregaon Sangharsh Mahasabha’ at the city’s SSPMS grounds on December 30. Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ is expected to speak at the event.Mr. Azad, who is scheduled to reach Maharashtra on December 28, will be speaking in Mumbai, Latur and Amravati as well.Threat to public peace and order, says EkboteEarlier this week, appearing before the two-member Bhima-Koregaon inquiry commission, Mr. Ekbote submitted that the Bhim Army’s proposed rally constituted a “new threat” to public peace and order.Mr. Ekbote claimed that a rally held last year had “provoked” people and “promoted hatred and social division”.“The Jaysthambha [victory pillar at Bhima-Koregaon] is not only being treated as a religious place for worship, but a false historical narrative is being constructed by the political leaders from the Dalit community,” Mr. Ekbote said in his plea.Mr. Ekbote, who heads ‘Samasta Hindu Aghadi’, had vehemently opposed the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ held last year on December 31, a day before the clashes erupted at the village of Bhima-Koregaon.Police permissionSlamming Mr. Ekbote, Mr. Pol denigrated his claims as “ridiculous”, commenting that the Bhima-Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) was not a ‘religious place of worship’ and used to be frequented by members from the Dalit community even before Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s visit there in 1927.Mr. Pol further said that the process of getting police permission to hold the rally was on and that a few formalities needed to be completed.“The Bund Garden police, under whose jurisdiction our proposed event falls, has asked us to submit documents pertaining to the arrangements at the venue. We are in the process of submitting the same,” he informed.Meanwhile, the Ramdas Athawale-led RPI (A) has urged the administration to deny permission to rallies being held within 500 metres of the victory pillar in a bid to maintain order during the celebrations.“We further appeal to individuals and parties to desist from spreading misinformation through social media and posters or uttering provocative speeches and statements calculated to cause discord between castes or communities,” said RPI (A) leader Ashok Kamble.While lakhs of Dalits converged on the victory pillar (Ranstambh or Jayastambh) each year to pay their respects, the celebrations this year were marred by riots that left one person dead besides aggravating social tensions across Maharashtra.Since then, there have been two investigations into the affair. The Pune Rural police has lodged an FIR against right-wing Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide ‘Guruji’ and Milind Ekbote, naming them as the orchestrators of the violence.The Pune City police have conducted multi-city crackdowns across the country and have arrested ten noted intellectuals and activists including advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, poet P. Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj among others for their alleged links with Maoist outfits and for their roles in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ and the subsequent Bhima-Koregaon clashes.last_img read more

Will fight for Punjab’s autonomy within the Union: PDA

first_imgWith a focus on Punjab-centric issues, the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) is all set to take on mainstream parties as it aims to fight for a “genuine federal system” with more powers and autonomy to the States.PDA – the coalition of Bahujan Samaj Party, Punjabi Ekta Party, Lok Insaaf Party, Nawan Punjab Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) and Marxist Communist Party of India (U) have announced a common minimum programme (CMP) for the 2019 Parliamentary polls as the alliance prepares to contest all the 13 Lok Sabha seats, which go for polls on May 19.“The alliance has been forged to liberate Punjab from the clutches of traditional parties such as the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal SAD, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), etc., that have ruined the State in turns for the past many decades. We aspire for a federal and democratic India as an alternative to the conventional political parties monopolising the power and resources of Punjab,” Dharamvira Gandhi, the suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Member of Parliament from Patiala, who has recently floated Nawan Punjab Party, told The Hindu.“We want autonomy to States within the Indian Union. The entire resources and wealth generation is within the States. Yet they are beggars and the Centre is in a stronger position. This needs to be changed,” said Mr. Gandhi.Unkept promisesHitting out at the successive governments in Punjab, Mr. Gandhi said in Punjab – farmers, labourers, dalits or small business persons – all are suffering due to the indifferent attitude and wrong policies of the State as well as the Centre.“The youth is shattered by unemployment and is running abroad or taking recourse to drugs. Promises by the ruling Congress of waiving of farmers’ loans, jobs for each family and the oath of eliminating drugs in four weeks have all evaporated,” said Mr. Gandhi.Pointing out that PDA stands committed on issue-based, clean and accountable politics, Mr. Gandhi said through its CMP, the PDA would fight for the long- pending demands of Punjab – be it the river waters issue, territorial disputes, rightful claim to the capital city of Chandigarh – and a true federal system with more powers and autonomy to the states.“We will also fight for complete waiving of farmers’/agricultural workers’ loans and getting the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission implemented,” said Mr. Gandhi.‘Addicts as patients’He added to tackle the drugs menace, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act needs to be tweaked. “Thousands of drug addicts are in jails while the big-fish, who control the drug trade are wandering free because they enjoy political patronage. The alliance demands to treat addicts as patients and extend them free treatment, and deal firmly with the drug mafia,” he said.last_img read more

Patnaik taunts BJP over lack of CM face

first_imgOdisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik on Saturday criticised the BJP for failing to name a chief ministerial candidate for the ongoing Assembly election in the State.“Who is the BJP’s second engine in Odisha,” asked Mr. Patnaik, in an apparent response to the appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others to the people to vote for the BJP and a “double-engine governmen” in the State and the Centre for development of Odisha.“The people of Odisha want to know who the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate is. Where is his constituency? Is the BJP scared to announce its CM candidate,” asked Mr. Patnaik during a rally at Daspalla under Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat.Countering top BJP leaders who have been campaigning in the State, Mr. Patnaik criticised them for visiting the State only during elections. “The leaders from Delhi come during elections. They will not been seen after the polls. I have always remained with you,” Mr. Patnaik told the crowd.The BJD president also accused the BJP leaders for not visiting Odisha during Phailin and Hudhud cyclones and floods. He said that help from the Centre came during Titli cyclone, but it reached Andhra Pradesh.Mr. Patnaik, who undertook a roadshow covering Kandhamal and Aska Lok Sabha constituencies during the day, addressed two public meetings. Both constituencies and the Assembly segments under them are going to the polls on April 18.last_img read more

Five M.P. cops suspended for death of Dalit man

first_imgFive police personnel have been suspended in connection with the death a 22-year-old Dalit man who was a suspect in a theft case, a senior Madhya Pradesh police officer said on Wednesday. Family members of the deceased Sanju Tipaniya have alleged that he died due to thrashing by the police personnel at Gandhi Nagar police station. West Superintendent of Police Suraj Verma said that Tipaniya was brought to the police station on Tuesday in connection with a theft case. Explaining the sequence of events, he said Tipaniya felt uneasy during questioning, following which a doctor was summoned. “The doctor detected low blood pressure as the cause for Tipaniya losing his consciousness,” he said. The SP added that Tipaniya was then taken to a nearby hospital and later to the State-run Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital, but he could not be saved. He said Gandhi Nagar police station in-charge Neeta Deyarwal and four constables have been suspended. Meanwhile, family members of the deceased staged a protest demanding that a case of murder be registered against the policemen. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered.last_img read more

Which Parent Do Fungi Take After?

first_imgSexual reproduction ensures genetic diversity: A mother and father who aren’t related each contribute half of their DNA, which is scrambled together to provide the instructions for forming a new individual. This stirring of the genetic pot allows the offspring to be unique while preventing any harmful mutations in the parents’ genes from accumulating. But a new study finds that a deadly species of fungi has found a way to produce diverse offspring from identical parents, perhaps allowing this pathogen to become drug resistant.  “The finding turns our view of the function of sex by 180 degrees,” says microbial geneticist Joseph Heitman of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “These fungi use sexual reproduction not just to mix up already existing genetic diversity, but to actually produce it from scratch.”The fungus in question, Cryptococcus neoformans, infects people with weakened immune systems and is notoriously difficult to treat, causing about 600,000 deaths worldwide every year, including about one-third of AIDS-related deaths. The fungus’s ability to become drug resistant has long been a puzzle due to a lack of variation among individual cells. C. neoformans exists in two distinct “mating types,” analogous to the sexes in animals. But the vast majority of the cells found in nature are of only one mating type. In previous research, Heitman and colleagues showed that “unisexual” mating within one type does occur and that the parents in this type of reproduction commonly have exactly the same genetic makeup. Because the fungus can also reproduce asexually, by producing an outgrowth that separates into a new individual, “the key question raised was, why have sex if there was no preexisting genetic diversity to mix up in the offspring?” Heitman says.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(*)Research from other labs provided some clues. Sexual reproduction can result in a condition called aneuploidy, in which the offspring have extra copies of certain chromosomes. Aneuploidy has traditionally been considered harmful. In humans, disorders like Down syndrome and some cancers result from extra copies of chromosomes. But Judith Berman, a yeast geneticist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, has shown that in another species, Candida albicans, some cells with extra chromosomes are more resistant to drugs.  Although aneuploidy does not bring in new genetic sequences, it does make possible another kind of genetic diversity—in which the extra genes produce extra proteins, resulting in an organism that differs from its parents. In the new study, published yesterday in PLOS Biology, Heitman and colleagues set out to explore whether genetically identical, unisexually reproducing C. neoformans cells were using aneuploidy to generate offspring that differed from themselves. The investigators started by allowing C. neoformans cells to reproduce asexually or unisexually. As expected, the offspring of the former method were identical to the parents.  But about 7% of the offspring produced by unisexual reproduction responded differently than their parents to temperature and drug treatment; they also had other quirks, such as increased production of the pigment melanin, a known virulence factor. Two-thirds of these unconventional cells contained an extra chromosome. Cells carrying an additional copy of either chromosome 9 or 10 became drug resistant, living longer than their parents when treated with the antifungal drug fluconazole. Offspring with extra copies of chromosome 9 or 13 proved as virulent as their parents when injected into mice.Overall, duplications of chromosomes led to changes that were detrimental under some conditions (the presence of a drug) or neutral under others (higher or lower temperatures).Although the study doesn’t point to immediate treatment possibilities, Heitman says that many researchers are studying the mechanisms that allow cells to tolerate the many extra proteins produced by the additional genes, which might reveal a weakness to target. The fact that genetic diversity produced from scratch through unusual types of sexual reproduction can lead to antifungal drug resistance suggests that this process may occur in other fungal infections, Heitman believes. The mechanism may also underlie infections caused by some parasites, including Giardia, which causes intestinal illness, and Leishmania, which causes skin sores, organ damage, and anemia, he says.Berman agrees that the possibility that aneuploidy can confer benefits “isn’t what the textbooks say is supposed to happen. If it’s a mechanism of drug resistance we need to take that into account.” For example, Berman says, future treatments might combine antifungal drugs with compounds still to be developed that can hinder the formation of aneuploid cells.last_img read more

Spiders Spin Sonically Tuned Webs

first_imgDespite their bulging eyes, spiders rely almost exclusively on web vibrations to sense the world around them. By feel alone, they can determine the type of prey tangled in their webs and assess a prospective mate’s intentions. With sound such an integral spidey sense, researchers wondered if spiders evolved to spin silks that optimally transmit informative vibrations. To test the acoustic properties of spider silk, the team shot bullets at orb weaver spider webs and captured the resulting vibrations using high-speed cameras and lasers. The silk scaffolding of spider webs can carry the largest range of sound wave speeds of any known material, the researchers report online this week in Advanced Materials. The team proposes that spiders tune the tension in their webs like a guitar string by plucking the silk strands and listening to the resulting echoes, creating clearer vibrational signals from captured prey. The sound science behind spider silks could inspire new lightweight sensors.The study URL was not available at press time. On Friday, you should be able to find the paper here.last_img read more

Congress moves to protect Pentagon’s basic research spending at universities

first_imgThe Air Force’s basic research spending would fall 10% to $474.5 million; the request called for a 13% cut. Proposed cuts to basic research conducted by universities for the U.S. military would be erased under budget legislation approved yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives. But the Pentagon’s overall basic research accounts would still shrink by about 3%, or $60 million, to $2.1 billion in 2015 under a defense authorization bill approved Thursday on a 300 to 119 vote. That cut is smaller than the 7% cut proposed by the White House earlier this year.Lawmakers reversed proposed cuts to Pentagon programs that fund basic research at universities, however, bumping up those programs by 6% or more. The reversal comes as a relief to many in academia, which has become increasingly reliant on Pentagon research funding. About one-half of the Pentagon’s basic research spending, or $1 billion annually, is distributed to university researchers. And certain fields, including engineering, computer science, math, and physics, receive up to one-half of their research dollars from the Department of Defense (DOD). Military research officials had estimated that the proposed cuts would mean about 1500 fewer grants to academic institutions.Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate had expressed concerns about that outcome, and earlier this week they acted in the massive defense authorization bill. It details how DOD should spend some $585 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, which began 1 October. Although the bill does not actually appropriate the funding—that is done in separate legislation—it typically dictates appropriations levels.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(*)Overall, the Pentagon’s core basic research accounts would fall to $2.108 billion, 3% below the 2014 level and 4% above the president’s request. Within that total:The Army’s basic research account—known as the 6.1 budget line in Washington parlance—would grow 2% to $444.2 million; the White House had proposed a 3% reduction. DOD-wide basic research would grow 1% to $592.5 million; the White House had requested a 4% cut.Programs dedicated to university research saw gains. The Air Force’s academic programs will grow to $89.8 million in 2015 from $79.4 million, a 13% jump. The Navy’s jump to $133.9 million from $112.8 million (plus 19%), and the Air Force’s to $147.1 million from $138.3 million (a 6% bump).The authorization bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to approve it. Congress is expected to complete work on a 2015 spending bill later this month.*Correction, 5 December, 6:38 p.m.: As a result of a spreadsheet error, this article incorrectly reported an increase in the Pentagon’s basic research budget for 2015. In fact, overall spending on basic research would fall by 3%. We regret the error.center_img The Navy’s 6.1 account would fall 4% to $596.3 million; the request called for a 7% cut.last_img read more

UK’s New Rules Make it Tough to Hire Indians

first_imgThe UK on Tuesday unveiled plans to further its crackdown on immigration through “work and study routes” from non-EU nations, in a move that is expected to make it difficult for British firms to hire professionals from countries like India. Related Itemslast_img

Hundreds of UAE Jobs on Offer For Indian Amnesty-seekers

first_imgSeveral hundreds of UAE jobs are on offer for Indian amnesty-seekers, who regularise their visa status, said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri on Wednesday.“We have sensed that a lot of people seem to be more inclined to find alternate jobs once they regularis their visa status. We proactively reached out to some of the large Indian companies and organisations.Read it at Khaleej Times Related Itemslast_img

Bollywood Graduates

first_img“The motion picture, with its fantastic synthesis of Hollywood, Indian folk performance traditions, music, mythology, and linguistic variety, has become a major visual cultural tradition, no less important than the murals of Ajanta, Padmanabhapuram, or the sculptural friezes of Sanchi, Konarak or Mahabalipuram.”– Ram Rahman, artist and curator. Bollywood Dreams Exhibit by Jonathan Torgovnik.What! Bollywood – a national monument and a pillar of the cultural heritage of India? Incredible, but true. From the “wah-wahs!” of the pan-bidi char anna class, our beloved, but much maligned, Hindi cinema has gone on to being feted around the world and included in Oscar talk. Once derided for its “masala” flicks, Bollywood is now being spotlighted in the bastions of high culture – the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and on television channels like the Sundance Network, PBS and Turner Classic Movies.And yes, serious academics in the ivory towers of elite educational institutions are actually dissecting Bollywood, pondering the effects of this powerful medium on humanity! After all, Bollywood has affected just about everybody from Salman Rushdie to Mira Nair to Russian taxi drivers to Mumbai street urchins! Who knows, if William Shakespeare had been around, the bard too might have been inspired by the reel tamasha of Bollywood!Bollywood is certainly getting respect – it’s even entered the Oxford dictionary as a brand new word in the English language! Certainly it’s being pondered in academia by a host of scholars as shorthand for something much more complex and momentous than a mere song and dance routine.While Bollywood has become a staple in cinema study courses, it is also of great interest to sociologists and anthropologists. At Stanford, its possible to take a course: Bollywood and Beyond: South Asian Histories and Cultures through Popular Film. As the syllabus states, Indian cinema has been an important site for the articulation of ideas about nation, class, caste, gender and sexuality, community, and diaspora. The class addresses such deep questions ‘as how do Indian films represent, and reconstitute, “national culture” for audiences in India and the diaspora? What is the role of cinema in the formation of class, gender, and religious identities? What can Bollywood depictions of romance teach us about the complex relationships between desire, pleasure, and politics?’ And you thought Bollywood was just about Karishma and Shahrukh romancing in the rain! Farmer’s Home by Samar Singh Jodha at the Heat exhibit.Yes, scholars certainly have psychoanalyzed Bollywood thoroughly. Thomas Waugh at Concordia University speaks about “Queer Bollywood? Patterns of Sexual Subversion in Recent Indian Cinema.” And a history course has this offering: “From ‘Mutiny’ to ‘Bollywood’: Cultures of Rule and Resistance, 1857-1954” which also explore how nationhood and partition are shown in cinema.“Bollywood/Hollywood: Queer Representation and the Perils of Translation” is the subject of a talk by Gayatri Gopinath, a professor of women and gender studies at the University of California, Davis. And at the London School of Economics and Political Science, there have been readings analyzing cinema as a metaphor for Indian society and politics and scholars there have mulled over this hefty topic: “Bollywood, Globalization and Indian Cultural Representation.” Rather than just plain zany fun, Bollywood seems to be turning into fodder for a Byzantine of academic research!After all, Rushdie’s erudite Satanic Verses has Bollywood tinsel sprinkled through it, and Amitabh Bachchan and other celebrities find their way into it. It’s been pointed out that in true Rushdie fashion he makes a kitchri out of Bollywood gossip and events and makes it uniquely his own. In fact, his writing is almost cinematic, over the top like a Bollywood film, as he swallows whole events, regurgitates them into something quite different, and has great fun doing it.Shashi Tharoor’s novel Show Business is also a salaam to the color and cacophony of the Bombay film industry (and Amitabh Bachchan) with as many layerings and colors as India itself. The film with its insightful look into the film industry and its tongue-in-cheek take on films of the 70’s was made into a film titled Bollywood.Bollywood, a term alien to mainstream America only a few years ago, is popping up in media ranging from Salon to Washington Post, and Bollywood influences can be seen on everything from couture fashion to art to literature to music, breaking the barriers between high art and low art. Bollywood posters became a medium of self-expression for Annu Palakunnathu Mathew.While ardent Hindi film fans cherish the golden era of Indian cinema and revere such names as V.Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor, much of Bollywood’s recent fame in the west has to do with the success of films like Lagaan, Monsoon Wedding and Bend it Like Beckham.Even though Mira Nair and Gurinder Chadha are hardly card-carrying Bollywood-wallahs, they were certainly influenced by the films they grew up on. Monsoon Wedding is the ultimate tribute to Bollywood, capturing the color and vitality of the high drama of life, love and marriage in India. There was a time when Hindi films were scorned as third-rate masala films, but over the last decade Bollywood has got legitimized in the eyes of the Western world – and even in the eyes of a certain kind of Indian who looked down on these films. Fresh from its debut in the Albert and Victoria Museum in London and at Selfridges in London, the Bollywood tamashas have caught the eye of America as well.Last year’s big Bollywood promotion at London’s Selfridges store demonstrated its attraction for Britons of every hue, who lined up to see this magic world. Nitin Desai, the celebrated set designer of Bollywood whose credits include Salaam Bombay, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan, and who outdid himself with the opulent sets of Devdas, was asked to change the Selfridges emporium into colorful, ornate India.At Selfridges, Dimple Kapadia’s home was recreated for visitors to admire and emulate, and a posse of Indian couture designers interpreted Bollywood style for Londoners. Indeed, the interesting thing is that noted society designers all have one foot in Bollywood, designing for the stars.And Bollywood-style make-believe does not stop with a store makeover; the wealthy and the famous want to bring that magic into their homes too. When there was a double wedding in the Shah family in Antwerp, diamond mogul Vijay Shah flew in Nitin Desai to create a $28 million Bollywood fantasy. Sanjay Dutt in dau by D Ravinder Reddy from the Heat exhibit. As fashion designers create the wardrobes for films as well as for domestic consumers and for trade promotions abroad, the lines are getting blurred. To further confuse things, supermodels like Bipasha Basu, Madhu Sapre, Katrina Kaif, Dino Morea and John Abraham have all become movie stars so the big screen is turning into a perpetual fashion ramp.Back in the 50’s and 60’s clothes in cinema were often nondescript or tacky. The actress Sadhana changed that with her stylish outfits in Mere Mehboob, but it is only in recent years that it’s become a real pleasure to watch our now sleek and toned heroes and heroines traipsing over hill and dale in color-coordinated designer wear. Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla are noted for designing for Bombay’s stars as well as for Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith who flaunted these fashions on Oscar nights. Then you have Raghvendra Rathore, a prince of Jodhpur, who’s studied at the Parsons School of Design and worked with Donna Karan, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta, and now has his own label.There’s Rohit Bal, who’s designed for Bollywood stars as well as Uma Thurman, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. Manish Malhotra, perhaps the most famous name in Bollywood, is fashion guru to the stars, actually re-designing the images of leading stars. Rina Dhaka with her penchant for young, western style fashion has introduced sheer trousers, crochet, and stretch jersey – the body enhancing fabrics that you see on Bollywood’s leading ladies.Neeta Lulla is a noted designer who creates fashions for Bollywood movies as well as society brides, so that the line between Bollywood and the fashion world continue to blur. Rocky S. is another designer who creates fashions for stars and socialites alike, and the masses can even buy his fashions in his stores in Mumbai.Bollywood fashions are no longer regarded as gaudy or unstylish, because there’s top talent working behind the scenes. Young Indians can relate to these clothes because designers are increasingly including stylish western wear into the star wardrobe.Interestingly enough, the well-known cosmetics firm of M.A.C has also jumped into the Bollywood fray, having designed the make-up for the stars in Lagaan. East and West seem to mingle freely as Ayurveda becomes a part of skin care. Christy Turlington, Ayla Hussain and Cavan Mahoney are the women behind Sundari, a skin regimen that was showcased in London’s Bollywood promotion.Indian contemporary artists, starting with M.F. Husain, are also increasingly bringing the color and immediacy of Bollywood into their art, as are writers and photographers. Indeed, Husain has always brought the vibrancy of cinema into his work. It is interesting to note that this icon of contemporary art started out in his career as an unknown street artist painting the huge hoardings of Indian superstars! Bollywood Satirized by Annu Palakunnathu Mathew.Husain was besotted with Madhuri Dixit, seeing her films scores of times and eventually made Gaj Gamini starring her, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. Yet even though he made a mainstream film using the conventions of popular cinema, he transcends the differences between high and low art. As artist and curator Ram Rahman points out, “He’s totally subverted the medium, he doesn’t do a regular Bollywood film but a Husain film, a totally personal film, but using this giant canvas, this new medium – and he gets away with it.” Husain’s next great passion has been Tabu and he’s made Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities revolving around her.A recent photography show at New York’s Bose Pacia Modern Gallery further emphasized Bollywood’s influence on contemporary art. Heat was curated by Rahman and was a group show of photography, video and painting showcasing work by nine artists.“The relationship of the ‘dream world’ of cinema and television and the ‘real world’ of survival, struggle and politics has occupied cultural and social theorists for years,” says Rahman. ” Not surprisingly, it is the visual artist who has come up with the richest engagement with the ‘picture’ on the screen and on the box, and its vibrant place in our mental and physical space.”You certainly get dramatic results when news photographer D. Ravinder Reddy decided to shoot the color stills for Ram Gopal Verma’s Daud. Explains Rahman, “They are the new Erotic Myths, the new Khajuraho icons for a modern, secular, (egalitarian?) culture. The visual esthetic of these pictures has an erotic heat and color which come from the ‘over the top’ intensity of the South Indian film world for which Reddy has worked in Hyderabad.”There also seems to be a marriage between the Hindi film industry and the South film industry with talents moving freely between the two. After all, even A.R. Rahman is a gift to Bollywood from the South. “That’s why I don’t like the word Bollywood, I find it very limiting,” says Rahman. He includes the television scene also because it’s become a major area where new talent, new acting and new stories are being explored. A lot of people are working in all three, and so there’s a lot of infusion from the South and the small screen. Bollywood Dreams Exhibit by Jonathan Torgovnik.Philip DiCorcia, noted American photographer, whose work is also shown in Heat was influenced by progressive film directors working in Bombay in the 80’s. Says Rahman, “The chaotic and bizarre environment of the biggest film industry in the world provided an ideal foil for his keenly honed eye for that moment of inexplicable mystery and some wordless revelation of an unfolding story which permeate his images.”Then you have Bangalore-based artist Pushpamala whose work also echoes the influences of the silver screen, using cinema as both inspiration and subject. In this series, “Navarasa,” she does sophisticated interpretation of the “nine moods” of performance. Donning masquerades, she plays the stereotypical women seen on the Indian screen in the 40’s and 50’s: siren, wife, mother, widow, the abandoned woman. She has collaborated for these highly stylized pictures with the legendary studio photographer J.H. Thakker who had shot images of movie icons in the glory days in the very same studio.Sukanya Rahman uses Bollywood images to make a larger statement about women’s varied roles in the Indian state of mind. Sultry sirens, goddesses and Nargis as Mother India all merge together in her playful yet ironic settings. Another artist who is very influenced by Bollywood is Sheba Chhachhi who’s done a whole installation in memory of Meena Kumari, using broken mirrors, images and Urdu poetry to create a tribute to woman and star.Through the lens of photographer Samar Jodha, the ubiquitous television set becomes almost a holy emblem in the homes of the middle-class, for as Rahman points out, “The electronic image joins the pantheons of the gods, religious and political icons and decorative knick-knacks, becoming a house-hold shrine spewing out both fantasy, ads for the globalized ideal life, myth, and multi-channeled news of politics, as important a part of everyday life in the subcontinent as religion.” The “idiot box” has thus turned into a powerful and respected icon of modern India. Subodh Gupta’s “Let me Make My Damn Art” from the Heat exhibit.Artist Subodh Gupta whose work hreflects on social and political violence, brought disparate high and low worlds together when he acted as a small-time hoodlum in the film Haasil and then painted a billboard style image of himself toting a gun, saying “Let me make my damn art.’ Always fascinated by Bollywood, he recently made “Irresistible Attack,” a video about the Iraq invasion, almost like a B-grade movie.Ram Rahman’s own work has always told the story of India through the painted billboards that dominate both Bollywood and politics. He sees the importance of these posters, a dying art: ” It’s something which is fast disappearing, as everything becomes mechanized and digital, so in another five years this whole visual culture will be gone. I can see it going before my eyes.”A telling portrait is of a poster of the film Bhagat Singh. As he explains, ” It’s an iconic picture of Bhagat Singh with the hat and mustache, but the face is of Bollywood star Bobby Deol and this gives it layers of meaning. I love that notion of how cinema plays with history.”Artists, of course, derive inspiration from all that is around them, and Bollywood certainly permeates the very air you breathe in India. Younger artists are even less restricted about this whole notion of high art and low art and they are much freer in the mediums that they use, so that some of the most exciting artwork coming out of India is this merge of high and low art.The visual power and memory of Indian cinema affects even those Indian artists who have moved to other shores, and they use its color and vitality to make political and social statements.U.S. based Annu Palakunnathu Mathew was born in England and later moved to India where she lived till she was 28. She recalls, “I did see a fair amount of Hindi movies, but was always struck at the disparity between the fantasy and idealism of the movies with the reality of life in India.”Bollywood posters became a medium for self-expression in her show “Bollywood Satirized.” The posters are inspired by Matthew’s own experiences as a woman growing up in India – issues of Dowry in the Syrian Christian community, arranged marriages and the double standards in society.Wanting to tackle women’s issues, she found that she could do this most effectively in the language of gaudy, exaggerated and over the top Bollywood posters. She says, “The Bollywood posters hreflect the melodrama of Indian life and are also very much part of the popular culture. I decided to use them as they allow me to further exaggerate the stereotype, allowing me to use humor to make my message more palatable.” Abbass Studio, Delhi, by Ram Rahman from the Heat exhibit.U.S. based Shashwati Talukdar is a young filmmaker whose offbeat films get their fuel from Bollywood. Eunuch Alley is a Bollywood-Noir about a journalist who encounters notorious criminal Charles Sobraj, sundry gangsters, and eunuchs, and is currently showing on television. Although the film is set in India, it was actually shot in Philadelphia, and Talukdar makes full use of song and dance numbers and Bollywoodian flashbacks.Indeed, Bollywood’s vibrant colors are making it to the most unexpected locales. Last year the V & A Museum in London showcased 70 posters from Bollywood films and even flew in the artists who paint these. Classics like Mother India, Awara and Bombay have been shown in cities around the world.This July Sundance Channel showed Bollywood Boulevard, a series of three offbeat offerings – M.F Husain’s Gajgamini, Agni Varsha, which is retelling of an episode from the Mahabharata with popular Hindi film stars, and Bollywood Bound, a fascinating documentary about Indo-Canadian youth trying to break into Bombay cinema.These three very different films show the diverse talent and types of movies that all fall under the mantle of “Bollywood.” In an increasingly globalized environment, subtitles are considered fact of life, as we vicariously peep into each other’s cultures, sometimes stunned at the universality of love and the spirit to survive.Hindi cinema continues to garner new fans as the increasing number of books on Bollywood in the West testifies. One of the most recent is Bollywood Dreams, a wonderful book of images of the Bombay film industry by Israeli photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik.“My idea was to bring this phenomenon to people who don’t know anything about Bollywood, to show the world what an amazing, beautiful medium it is in India,” he says. “I wanted to go beyond the kitsch and really show the different elements cinema represents in India. I think you can learn a lot about Indian culture through cinema.”Star power is certainly getting respect as Coke and Pepsi and a host of multinationals deluge Bollywood stars with lucrative endorsement deals. And so strong is the magic of Bollywood, it even sells food! Asha Bhonsle owns Asha’s, a restaurant in Wafi City in Dubai that is doing very well, as well as a line of Indian spices. Kerala superstar Mohanlal also has a line of spices and restaurants there. Can we expect to see Amitabh’s next?Bollywood also continues to affect the young of the Diaspora, many of them the movers and shakers of tomorrow – providing a line of communication and connection with their homeland. Indian cinema is no longer just three hankie melodramas nostalgically watched by their parents on video.The films, being made by many vibrant new directors, producers and actors, are a diverse lot, encompassing the good, the bad and the ugly, but also the extremely good.Increasingly these films are about the schizophrenic worlds that contemporary young Indians live in, the worlds of airplanes, blended cultures and the east-west embrace.The new Bollywood stars are role models for them, strong, independent and bold. Their fashion styles are something they can emulate rather than scorn and the hi-tech wizadry and production values of these films are comparable to or even better than Hollywood movies. After all, even Hollywood film-makers like Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge are drawing inspiration from brash, color-saturated Bollywood.So dim the lights, bring out the popcorn and watch Bollywood-ji put on its biggest show yet!   Related Itemslast_img read more

Who’s Out Of Status?

first_imgFor the past several months, tensions have been simmering between the Indian community and police in Edison, N.J., home to one of the highest concentrations of Indians in any township in the United States. Nearly 20 percent of Edison residents are Indian; Middlesex County, where it is located, has the distinction of having the highest proportion of Indians in any county in the country.Tensions flared over the July 4 arrest of a 30-year-old resident Rajnikant Parikh during an illegal fireworks display. Parikh alleges he was roughed up by a police officer, who, in turn, cited him for resisting arrest, inciting a riot and assault. We will likely never know what actually transpired during that incident. However, an internal police investigation cleared the police officer. Unfortunately, the unwillingness of City Hall to undertake an impartial investigation by an external agency and the subsequent downgrading of the charges against Parikh to disorderly conduct undermines the credibility of their “internal” inquiry.For most immigrants, what is even more disturbing occurred one month later when federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Parikh into custody as he marched outside the municipal building with a “Racism Must End in Edison” poster at a public rally called on his behalf to protest police brutality. Although both the Edison mayor and police chief deny they had prior knowledge of Parikh’s arrest, critics charge that some police officers connived with ICE to have him arrested at the rally in an attempt to intimidate and harass him because of his public advocacy. Immigration officials have confirmed that they coordinated their efforts with local police.Any role by Edison police in orchestrating Parikh’s arrest has to be independently investigated and publicly disclosed. If police officials conspired with ICE to avenge Parikh’s criticism of them, it is a gross abuse of their power to scare not just Parikh, but any immigrant who has the temerity to exercise free speech rights in the country. The public has a right to expect that police officers will not abuse their position to persecute and terrorize them.During the past few months, there have been tense standoffs between Indian and non-Indian residents. In one particularly notorious incident, opponents taunted Indians at a public rally as “cockroaches” and “animals.”At press time, almost two months since his second arrest, Parikh remains in immigration custody pending a deportation hearing. Although married to a U.S. citizen, Parikh is reportedly in previous violation of immigration laws and possibly under an existing deportation order.However, Parikh’s immigration status is entirely irrelevant to any police abuse. Edison, like most municipalities, operates under an unwritten code barring officials from sharing information on an individual’s immigration status with federal officials. In several regions, such as New York City and San Francisco, for example, law codifies the prohibition.The Parikh incident demonstrates the need for just such a policy. Anything less invites abuse: whenever their primary case is weak or to cover up their own abuses, local officials would turn to federal immigration agents to exact vengeance against immigrant critics.Parikh’s affairs – both the charges of disorderly conduct, as well as his immigration status – should, and no doubt will, be resolved by the judicial process. But there needs to be public accountability if local and police officials in Edison abused their position to violate the civil rights of a vociferous critic to discredit and intimidate him.ICE officers also need to explain and halt their Gestapo-style storm trooper tactics of arresting Parikh at a public rally one month after the widely publicized incident, when the arrest could as easily have been affected by them weeks earlier instead of at a public forum, especially one in which serious First Amendment rights are implicated.Parikh may well prove to be out of status. But so too may ICE and Edison police officials. Parikh’s penalty is deportation from the United States. The punishment for the local and federal officials found to have abused their trust to violate his civil rights ought to be expulsion from their official positions.   Related Itemslast_img read more