Monthly Archives: January 2014

Questions about Muslims

Nathan Lean: Answering Dave Agema’s questions about Muslims

 

7:29 PM, January 28, 2014   |  
 
David Agema

 
Dave Agema is a Michigan representative to the Republican National Committee. He has come under fire for making anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks.
 
Nathan Lean

 

It has been said that ignorance and prejudice go hand in hand. If anyone can prove that statement true, it’s Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema.

Following a litany of inflammatory questions about the contributions of American Muslims, some lawmakers have amped up calls for his resignation. While publicly renouncing his bigoted views is important, it is also necessary to reject them because they are riddled with falsehoods.

On Facebook last month, Agema shared a widely circulated blog that highlighted the charity work of the Catholic church before asking a series of mocking questions about Muslims. Some included: Have you ever been to a Muslim hospital? Have you heard of a Muslim orchestra? A Muslim marching band? Have you witnessed a Muslim charity? Can you show me one Muslim signature on the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or Bill of Rights? Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?

The questions were intended to be rhetorical, with an implicit answer of “no” resounding after each one. Muslims, Agema believed, had not done any of these things. But a closer examination of history proves that Muslims have done many of them. They are an important and integral part of America’s national fabric and contribute in many meaningful ways to its success and growth.

■ American Muslims have a substantial presence in the health care industry. The Islamic Medical Association of North America, one of many such organizations, estimatesthat there are more than 20,000 Muslim physicians in the United States. Similarly, an analysis of statistics provided by the American Medical Association indicates that 10% of all American physicians are Muslims. While no Islamic hospitals exist in the United States, per se, several Muslim-based health clinics do. And let’s not forget that the hospital itself is not an American invention — it’s an Egyptian one. For that matter, the father of modern surgery wasn’t an American Protestant pioneer, either, but a 10th-Century Muslim physician from Spain, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi.

■ Criticism over the absence of Muslim orchestras in the United States rings hollow, as well. Few orchestras are comprised exclusively of members from one particular faith, and many are organized along ethnic or other lines. The National Arab and New York Arabic Orchestras are two examples of groups whose members include numerous Muslims. Similarly, marching bands are obviously affiliated with high schools or universities, not mosques or churches, and surely Muslim students make up these musical groups, which, as it turns out, trace their roots back to the military bands of the Muslim Ottoman empire. The violin, too, finds its origins within the 10th-Century bowing instruments of Islamic civilization.

■ Muslim charity groups in the United States are too numerous to catalog, though the Bay Area Islamic Networks Group, the UMMA Clinic in Los Angeles, the Chicago-based Inner-City Muslim Action Network and Dearborn’s ACCESS are examples of groups that provide crucial services and empower the underprivileged. In 2013, the Muslim charity Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) was rated among the top 10 charities in the United States.

■ Agema is correct, however, to point out that there are no Muslim signatures on the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights. That’s because the first major wave of Muslim immigration to the U.S. occurred in the mid-to-late 19th Century — nearly 100 years after those documents were written. But the beauty of America is that the rights enshrined in our founding documents protect everyone, regardless of their time of arrival or their religious identity.

■ It’s also the case that Muslim Americans designed the Sears (now Willis) and Hancock towers in Chicago, developed the chemotherapy mechanism that treats brain tumors and revolutionized this country’s original art form: jazz. They also contribute through their service as educators, lawmakers and soldiers and are on the front lines ofcampaigns to end some of today’s most egregious civil rights abuses.

Alas, there is great irony in Agema’s Facebook post, which leads to one simple question: Would he and his GOP ilk see an increase in Muslim hospitals, orchestras, charities and marching bands as a welcomed sign of the rich and diverse social fabric of America, or would they decry it an alarming indication of some grand Islamic conspiracy to take over the United States?

Nathan Lean is a researcher at Georgetown University and the author of three books about the Middle East and Islam, including the award-winning “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.” His newest volume, “The Changing Middle East,” is scheduled for publication this fall.

Wishlist for AAP government

TOI wishlist for AAP government

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TOI wishlist for AAP government
The issues of water and power are still on the agenda of the AAP government is proof of how even basic necessities remain to be fulfilled.
 
Administering a teeming metropolis like Delhi, which merges seamlessly with areas in other states, can be a difficult job in the best of times. That water and power are still on the agenda of the government is proof of how even basic necessities remain to be fulfilled. Similarly, fighting corruption won’t be struck off the agenda anytime soon. All the noise over these issues can relegate other pressing problems to the background and make them grow and become unmanageable in the long run. TOI enlists for the fledgling AAP government 20 ways in which it can make the capital of India a better place.

DISMANTLE THE BRT CORRIDOR 

The Congress government pitched it as the answer to Delhi’s increasing vehicular population, but the BRT project ended up as the pet peeve of many people. In the run-up to the assembly elections, Sheila Dikshit acknowledged BRT is a failure and promised to scrap it if her party was elected again. AAP, in turn, promised a review of the corridor, with transport minister Saurabh Bhardwaj saying on record that it would be scrapped. A month on, the AAP government seems strangely quiet over the BRT issue. Bhardwaj says “legal” options are being looked into. Transport department officials say the file is stuck at the minister’s office, with no direction forthcoming. Ironically, all that the government needs to do is submit a review petition in the high court, withdrawing its earlier arguments for keeping the corridor.

CONNECTIVITY WITHIN NCR 

Last year, the Delhi government came out with a scheme to grant permits to autorickshaws for running between Delhi and the adjoining NCR towns. The scheme, however, went into cold storage as the matter went to court. Now, the transport department is hoping to revive it. Transport minister Saurabh Bhardwaj, sources say, has cleared the file for around 3,000 permits being issued individually to autos that will run in the NCR. However, with a large number of commuters travelling between Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Delhi daily, this number of autorickshaws will not be enough. The Delhi government needs to take this up immediately, especially as Delhi Metro’s expansion in Phase-III will still take another two years to become functional while the increasing movement of people between Delhi and the NCR is increasing road traffic.

MORE BUSES NEEDED, GET THEM FAST 

Within hours of taking over, the Arvind Kejriwal government moved out the transport commissioner as well as the CMD of DTC. Days later, the transport commissioner was moved again. Yet, when it comes to files on pending projects, the government has been strangely inactive. There’s no response from vendors on DTC’s efforts to get more buses. Cluster buses have not increased beyond 1,000 when there should have been more than 4,000 by now. The only meeting with DIMTS—the agency handling cluster buses—has been on improving the running of BRT. If low-floor buses are a problem, can the minister look at standard buses as an alternative? Former DMRC head E Sreedharan backed this idea, so do many officials in DTC, which is planning to run a pilot project for smaller buses in some areas of Delhi.

INTEGRATED SCHEDULE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT 

This project has been pending since 2010—a passenger information system at bus stops and important intersection points that gives the schedule of buses on that route, and their frequency. To make the project effective, the Delhi government even commissioned a route rationalisation study by DIMTS. The study, which took over a year to finish for reasons unknown, is gathering dust. Route rationalisation remains on paper, with DTC continuing with its old route system and discontinuing a handful of routes as it disagrees with the findings of the study. Meanwhile, the passenger information system is yet to be installed at bus stops as DTC’s internal staff is highly sceptical of the GPS equipment installed in its buses. Integration of DTC and cluster bus routes with Delhi Metro routes is pending, with an integrated schedule looking like a pipe-dream at the moment.

UNTYING THE RTR KNOT 

There is an urgent need for a flyover-andunderpass to run parallel to the existing half-flyover at Munirka. The current infrastructure has led to a traffic bottleneck and a resultant mess on the Outer Ring Road leading from Panchsheel Park to the IGI Airport. While the cabinet has cleared the project, the public works department is waiting for Delhi Metro to submit an estimate for the work that it will undertake on the land that overlaps with its project. Subsequently, a project consultant will have to be appointed and it would need the government’s active participation to push this much-needed flyover. Among other similar half flyovers in the city, the one at Savitri Cinema also needs to be considered for expansion.

MODEL ROADS 

There are stretches after stretches in Delhi that are relaid every year, some perhaps more often. Despite that, each rainy spell pours misery upon motorists as these roads crumble with the first drop of rain. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is just the right person to ensure that the roads in Delhi become durable. He, in his early days as an RTI activist, had campaigned against bad roads and now that he is in a position to deliver, he should move on this. First, he must ensure good quality material is used for road construction so that Delhi’s roads last for some years, at least. Second, he must crack down on officials who sanction frequent relaying of loads without any reason.

MORE COLLEGES 

Delhi has not got a new college in 16 years while the number of students has increased manifold. From time to time, BJP, Congress, and now AAP, have struck a populist chord by promising to reserve seats for students from Delhi schools in the 28 DU colleges fully or partly funded by the Delhi government. This measure may reap a political bounty but it does not address the root of the problem. Reserving seats will not increase the size of the pie, rather deprive some underprivileged residents from areas bordering Delhi. Moreover, reserving seats for Delhi students can never be a solution as 2.65 lakh students graduate from Delhi schools and reservation in DU will benefit a maximum of 12,000 to 15,000. The funding to these colleges should not be the basis for imposing reservation as most of the money goes into paying salaries of teachers who live or work in Delhi.

BUSES, AUTOS TO CONNECT METRO 

Delhi Metro will run a 400km route in the NCR when its third phase is complete. Yet, last-mile connectivity remains a mirage. Even as more stations are built, getting to them from homes, offices and markets is a challenge. Metro has been claiming that it will get 300 more buses for last-mile connectivity as part of the JNNURM scheme but it is yet to acquire these. DTC, which was initially supposed to provide the service, says it doesn’t have enough buses for its own routes. Metro wants DTC to run the service as road transport is not its core competence. The AAP government proclaimed its authority over Metro during the CM’s recent dharna when it ordered reopening of some stations, but so far it has not taken up the responsibility of improving last-mile connectivity.

WASTEFUL ROAD WORK 

Much like roads, dividers and kerbs are demolished and rebuilt round the year in Delhi, and this must be the biggest moneyspinning enterprise in full view of people. Arvind Kejriwal has himself commented on this often. He should now ensure that this practice is stopped since it leads to a massive wastage of funds and also puts the public to great inconvenience. Besides carrying out a detailed investigation of such practices, residents can be involved in ensuring that public money is not wasted by posting project details online and at the work site. There should be standards for dividers and kerbs to ensure that whimsical changes are not made to existing civic infrastructure.

STREETLIGHTS 

Long stretches with not a working streetlight can be found anywhere in the capital, from Nelson Mandela Marg in south Delhi to NH 24 in the east. Even though the cover of darkness is known to aid criminals, the city does not have a system to fix accountability for streetlights that don’t work. Their maintenance suffers as road owning agencies like PWD and MCD, and the discoms are caught in a tussle. The discoms are responsible for providing power while the road agencies maintain the lights. But the two sides are often at loggerheads over maintenance and charges. Experts say some accountability has to be fixed in areas where streetlights do not work, to address the issue of street crime. Whether discoms or the road agencies, somebody must pay a price every time a road remains dark at night.

WOMEN’S LOOS 

Of the city’s 4,000-odd public toilets, less than 350 are for women. While it talked of making Delhi a world-class city, the Sheila Dikshit government never focused on such mundane matters. BJP, which controls all three municipal corporations, has also not done anything beyond allocating Rs 3 crore for women’s toilets in its annual budgets. While it looked for newer technologies like waterless urinals—700 were constructed throughout Delhi—for men, it hasn’t even maintained the existing toilets for women. AAP, which had promised to address this problem last year, before the assembly elections, now has an opportunity to get the city women on its side by immediately starting work on this project. What a woman chief minister and three women mayors—the first lot of mayors after MCD’s trifurcationcouldn’t do, the Aam Aadmi Party should consider doing for the aam aurat.

REIN IN AUTOS 

Auto drivers stood behind AAP before the elections and on December 28 demanded their pound of flesh in the form of demands, including suspension of the traffic police’s enforcement powers. They want the transport department to take over the role but its 120 enforcement personnel are inadequate for the purpose. AAP must realize that while these drivers are its vote bank, they cannot be a law unto themselves. Recently, drivers of autos and Gramin Sewa vehicles opposed joining a behaviour training programme. The unchecked growth of e-rickshaws is another problem. Clearly defined rules on routes, jurisdiction and fares are the need of the hour.

E-GOVERNANCE 

E-governance was a flagship project of the Congress government and it tom-tommed many a scheme, IT-based systems and inhouse monitoring systems as its achievements. The challenge before the Arvind Kejriwal government is to bring the common man closer to the departments and services by adding web-links and simplifying the process of accessing and submitting forms and documents online to departments. The new government has, since stepping into office, announced helplines for complaints against corrupt officials, problems in nursery admission and another one is being readied for redressing grievances. The chief minister has promised an accessible online redress system but before that it is essential to make many more processes to apply for services such as ration cards and government certificates web-based to root out touts and facilitate the interface between people and the government.

GPS IN BUSES & AUTOS 

DTC equipped all its buses with GPS in 2010 to ensure adherence to schedules. But autos that have been ordered several times to install GPS devices have largely avoided doing so on the plea of high cost. While many vehicles now have GPS on board, the monitoring is dismal. DTC claims DIMTS, which monitors the buses, does not send daily reports and real-time monitoring has flopped. Also, as the GPS data is not shared with police, the exercise is redundant. The government must realize that GPS without enforcement and strict monitoring is useless. Paying DIMTS crores for monitoring without using that information is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

ENTERTAINMENT 

Delhi , for all its heritage and cultural vibrance, has not become the toast of impresarios. When the private organizers of international-scale events look for a venue in India, Delhi is not first on their list. For this, the city’s entertainment tax regime is to blame. Also, to improve leisure facilities for Delhiites, the city’s nightlife needs attention. If night bazars at heritage locations can give the city that additional appeal for tourists, relaxation of bar timings in restaurants must also be considered. At present, Delhi’s bar closing time for regular licence holders is 1am. For five-star hotels prepared to pay double the fee, the 24×7 licence is available. As far as entertainment tax is concerned, for all ticketed events at venues, including hotels, restaurants, clubs, halls, auditoriums and stadiums, the patron or proprietor has to pay entertainment tax at the rate of 15% on the admission price of each ticket. On cinema tickets, the tax rate is 20%. Experts say lowering tax rates will make the city a more attractive leisure and entertainment destination.

BRIDGES ACROSS THE YAMUNA 

Delhi at present has eight bridges spanning the Yamuna. Road and traffic experts say that by 2021, there should be at least another 12—a few exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians, to divide the traffic load. There are three projects in progress at present including Phase-III of the Barapullah elevated road. The project is at the final step of technical clearance after which it will go to the government for sanction. Consultants to study the feasibility of two more bridges upstream of Wazirabad are being appointed. These bridges will help traffic moving from north to east Delhi avoid the highly crowded Mukarba Chowk. However, the PWD department will have to push these projects to ensure that there is no breakdown of infrastructure in the interim.

LEAKING PIPELINES 

Delhi loses around 30% of its water supply through leaking pipelines. The Delhi Jal Board has appointed several consultants in the past to stop the wastage but that has done nothing to conserve water in a city which is unable to fulfill the requirements of a large section of society. Many pipelines are older than 30 years and DJB is in the process of changing some of them. However, the board’s record in such projects is not good and there is no telling whether the work will get over on time and how effective it will be. The sewage master plan is also being worked out but the larger concern is its implementation. Arvind Kejriwal, as an IITian, can get all technical help he needs to move in these areas.

GOVT HOSPITALS 

They have good doctors but are let down by the lack of facilities and an unfriendly work culture. Successive governments have promised to address problems ranging from patients sharing beds to the absence of superspecialized capabilities, such as organ transplantation, but the ground situation has not changed. To start with, the AAP government can make two super-specialty hospitals built in 2009 in Tahirpur, east Delhi and Janakpuri, west Delhi functional. Vacant positions should be filled and diagnostic services improved. Before roping in the private sector, the cost implications must be considered. The government’s order for prescribing generic medicines is populist, instead it needs to focus on ensuring drug delivery.

HARVEST RAINWATER 

Delhi made it compulsory for all new buildings more than 100sqm in area to have rainwater harvesting features. However, the plan has failed. Not only do the old buildings get away, extremely poor implementation, monitoring and maintenance have resulted in no improvement in ground water levels. For a city that it extremely short on the natural resource, rainwater harvesting is one of the most crucial steps that can be taken to ensure that ground water levels rise. Hence, it should be made compulsory for all buildings. For this, the government needs to show its will, as has already happened in cities like Chennai. Strict enforcement and penalties on government officials who clear projects without rainwater harvesting structures and the owners of such buildings are necessary. The government can think of providing incentives for rainwater harvesting through subsidies in water bills.

TIME-BOUND SERVICES 

In September 2011, the Congress government promised to end red-tapism by making departments fix time frames for delivering services to the public. Deviations from the committed time frame were monitored through a computerized internal management system. People were empowered under the law to complain and the officers at fault were penalized by deducting a fixed amount from their salary. Since then, the pendency of applications has declined in many departments. Although 116 services are covered under the system, some remain prone to delays. No applicant has sought compensation although lakhs have become eligible for it over the two-and-a-half years. That’s because people were neither made aware nor encouraged to demand compensation. Meanwhile, the violators are not penalized internally. The new government says it is reviewing the law and plans to bring timebound delivery under the purview of the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill. The people of Delhi are desperate for speedy service delivery minus the touts and bribes.

 

TOI wishlist for AAP government

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TOI enlists for the fledgling AAP government 20 ways in which it can make the capital of India a better place. (TOI photo)
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Misleading Of Democratic India (MODI) through Social Media

Misleading Of Democratic India (MODI) through Social Media

 

By Dileep Senapathy

 

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Social media are playing an important new role in Indian democracy. A social media campaign by the Electoral Commission drew record levels of voter registration and turnout in elections held in four Indian states, including the capital, New Delhi, in November and December. Political parties are also embracing social media to reach voters, including instant messaging. Social media are credited with helping the new party win a surprise victory in Delhi against the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP has been the first national political party to have embraced technology to reach out to voters, with a Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel, mobile app and live streaming over the internet. Its controversial leader Narendra Modi –- who some believe could become India’s next prime minister -– has over 3,229,955 followers. However studies show Congress party and its leaders as having a wider reach through social media.

With social media as an established campaign platform for Loksabha election 2014, Election Commission should define and explain the rules of the same regarding the creation of virtual images of leaders and their party. The Electoral Commission of India has asked social media providers to monitor their sites for fraud in the run-up to the general elections in April this year. That would be helpful. But Indian voters must also demand that their government bring transparency and accountability to electronic surveillance.Meanwhile, the Indian government has used the 2008 Information Technology (Amendment) Act to increase monitoring and censorship of social media.Last year, the government rolled out a Central Monitoring System with vast powers to monitor citizens’ communications. Human Rights Watch called the new system “chilling” in its scope. According to Freedom House, India had the steepest decline in Internet freedom of any country in the year ending in April 2013.Several online tools like Twitter audit (www.twitteraudit.com), fake follower check of people (http://fakers.statuspeople.com) revealed BJP Prime Ministerial candidate to have lot of fake followers.

Social media can also be subject to significant abuse.Among Indian politicians, Modi appears to be the leading politician on virtual media.He has been accused of boosting his apparent popularity on social media with legions of followers who don’t exist and of using social media to smear their opponents.Investigative websiteshave uncovered shocking facts that about two dozen little known IT companies are misusing social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to artificially boost politician’s popularity and malign their rivals, with many firms claiming to be working for BJP and Narendra Modi. These companies hack into the IP addresses of others to provide fake fan following and posting defamatory content. They run this “shady” online reputation management business offering clients fake fan-following on Facebook and Twitter and do negative publicity against a political leader or a party, or a corporate house, at the behest of their opposite camp, all for money. Narendra Modi’s name is alleged to have been revealed by many such IT companies as their #1 client.

They would post negative content online from countries like the US or Korea, to avoid detection of its source, use assembled computers for negative campaign and destroy them after the project is over and use proxy codes in a way that their locations change every hour, making detection difficult. These teams make negative content against oppositional leaders and party, positive content for Modi, for creating communal profiles, for creating funny caricatures, fake profiles, drafting etc. Some companies across India and abroad from specific regions are doing this type of works and get earned. The people engaged in the teams are professionals and trained. They are very crazed and not feared. They are doing it cleverly and common people are watching regularly. They know it well in social media there is no limit to spread world.

You can check these facts without any online tool by applying logical and analytical sense. The actual fact behind these huge numbers of followers can be realized if you are online savvy. Modi has been alleged to be involved in activities to create fake followers and at the same time buy real followers with money and other remunerations. The inactive followers of Narendra Modi are computer generated bots. Fake followers can be bought based on the geographic area and interest.

Indian National Congress has always been dependent on voluntary activists all over the country. These activists have been the true strength of the party and they are the followers of the party in all kinds of social media. These followers are worthy because they are quantitative and qualitative. History has always proved that movements with real people involved in it have been victorious.

 

dileep.senapathy@gmail.com

 

Israeli Apartheid Week 2014

Israeli Apartheid Week 2014


2014 video coming soon!

*Announcing 10th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week – Feb-March 2014*

 
“We can not fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.” – Edward Said
 
Tenth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week – #apartheidweek
UK and US: February 24-March 2
Europe: March 1-8
South Africa: March 10-16
Brazil: March 24-28
Palestine, Arab world and Asia: TBA
 
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Reflecting the global grassroots rejection of Israel’s military and political aggression, IAW was held in more than 200 locations in 2012 and more than 150 cities in 2013.
 
IAW is an annual international series of events including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, film screenings, multimedia displays and boycott of Israel actions held in cities and on university campuses across the globe. 
 
If you would like to organize and be part of Israeli Apartheid Week on your campus or in your city please get in touch with us at iawinfo@apartheidweek.org. Also find us on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Being part of Israeli Apartheid Week is easy – here are five things you can do:
 
1. Organize a film screening
Consider hosting a film. For more info or for suggestions contact us at iawinfo@apartheidweek.org
 
2. Arrange a lecture, workshop, rally or protest
There are many speakers ranging from academics, politicians, trade unionists and cultural activists that we can suggest for you to host. Be in touch with us and we can put you in contact.
 
3. Organize a BDS action
Organize with others a practical boycott of Israel action or have a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) motion tabled at your relevant student council, trade union branch or municipality. If you are already working on a BDS campaign, Israeli Apartheid Week can be a great opportunity to build that campaign and bring it to a wider audience. 
 
4. Join us online – #apartheidweek
Help us spread the word online about Israeli Apartheid Week. Follow Israeli Apartheid Week on Twitter and Facebook, including using the hashtag #apartheidweek.
 
5. Be creative
Be creative! Draw attention to Israeli apartheid by erecting a mock Israeli Apartheid Wall or Checkpoint, organising a flash mob or creative demonstration or by holding a concert or poetry reading. 

 

AAP Goverment’s First month in Office

One month in office, TOI takes stock of

 

AAP govt’s promise

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One month in office, TOI takes stock of AAP govt's promises and delivery
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal
 
TOI takes stock of what the AAP government has done over a month and finds some initiatives faltering and a few hitting the target. But a month is too short to measure success or failure

REVIEW 

Anti-graft helpline 

Launched on January 8, the helpline aimed at “empowering every citizen of the city” by allowing them to conduct sting operations on bribe-seeking officials has received about one lakh calls in 20 days. Official sources said 50% of these calls had been attended but only 1,200 complaints were found to be serious enough to pursue. Ironically, the number of arrests made as a result of the sting operations remains at three and does not support the figures given by the chief minister’s office. Government sources say this low rate of arrests has prompted chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to seek removal of five senior officers of the Anti-Corruption Branch. “With a new team joining, we are confident that the arrest rate will go up,” said a senior officer.

Power 

Within hours of coming to power, the government announced a Rs 220-crore subsidy to slash tariff by 50% for consumption up to 400 units. Next came the announcement of a CAG audit of discoms, forcing the Reliance and Tata Power utilities to move court. The case delayed the audit but it is expected to start soon now. This was followed by a new meter testing drive and a helpline for those who suffer unscheduled outages for hours. AAP tried to waive the “inflated” bills of people who had not paid up since its pre-poll bijli andolan but had to step back under criticism.

Hospitals 

The government has decided to make prescription of generic drugs compulsory in state-run hospitals but no step has been taken to ensure the availability of generic drugs in stores. Health minister Satyendra Jain has visited more than 25 hospitals in a month and admits there are many problems. He has invited suggestions on his email ID aapdelhihealth@gmail.com. Officials said more than 2,000 mails have been received and the suggestions range from starting evening OPDs to super-specialty services like heart surgeries and transplants in state-run hospitals.

Education 

Instead of lending private schools a sympathetic ear and overturning the new nursery guidelines, education minister Manish Sisodia has given parents a helpline for complaints and boards with grievance-redress information at schools. Volunteers have checked schools and have been randomly checking with parents who call up the helpline. They have also “inspected” government schools for availability of “facilities”. Sisodia has made ways for including common people in college governing bodies, but has drawn flak for trying to reserve seats for Delhiites in DU colleges.

Transport 

The government still hasn’t engaged gears as far as transport is concerned. The only decision taken so far is to go to the Supreme Court for 50,000 more auto permits. CNG price hike, BRT, digitized transport database, GPS in public service vehicles, buses for the DTC as well as cluster buses, more personnel in the enforcement wing: these issues still await a decision. One step that the government took—to take away prosecution powers against autorickshaws and taxis from Delhi traffi c policewas aborted at the last moment. The policy on e-rickshaws has apparently been cleared but is yet to be implemented.

Jan Lokpal Bill 

Even before the election results were out, Arvind Kejriwal promised to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill on December 28, 2013. A month later, his government says the draft bill is in its final stage and will be put up for discussion before the cabinet on January 28. The bill is likely to be passed in Ramlila Maidan before mid-February, say sources. The government has said it will call a special assembly session after the cabinet clears the bill that will be on the lines of Uttarakhand’s repealed Lokayukta Act and will cover the chief minister, the cabinet and all government servants, including IAS and IPS officers. The judiciary, however, will not be covered.

Women’s security 

The CM’s dharna outside Rail Bhavan was purportedly due to police inaction in cases of crime against women. Women and child development minister Rakhi Birla has been making surprise checks late in the night since she took charge but the promise of raising a commando force to provide security to anyone in distress—with special focus on women—is far from reality. Arvind Kejriwal announced the formation of ‘Mahila Suraksha Dal’ employing former army personnel and martial arts trainers. But no training has started so far and women are still as insecure and vulnerable as they were before AAP came to power.

Water 

Within a week of taking oath, the CM implemented a scheme to provide up to 20kl of free water to each family. Simultaneously, he dealt a blow to heavy users of water, increasing their tariff by 10% and stipulating that they would be charged even for the fi rst 20kl on exceeding the free limit. The sop will not benefi t the lakhs of consumers who do not have metered connections. The CM is working to rein in corruption in Delhi Jal Board. He has made the water tanker service more effi cient, taken over unauthorized tube well connections, and is going over files pertaining to meters and the public-private partnership projects that are allegedly steeped in corrupt practices.

Janta darbar 

Less than two weeks into office, the CM called a “Janta Durbar” to hear people’s grievances, on January 11. A plan was made for the CM and his ministers to meet people by turns throughout the week. But the first durbar on the road outside the secretariat was a fiasco that nearly resulted in a stampede. The CM fled to the safety of the secretariat while his ministers scrambled in the midst of the crowd. Many people went back unheard, and those who stayed saw the CM promise a better arrangement next time from the secretariat roof-top. There was no next time, though.

Night shelters 

Taking strong objection to the large number of homeless in Delhi and making it a priority issue, Kejriwal on January 1 issued directions to all SDMs to carry out night vigils to identify sites for new shelters within four days. The SDMs reported finding 4,000 men, women and children sleeping in the open, largely in 212 clusters. The CM ordered replacement of all tents with porta cabins and more such shelters, but the minister in-charge struggled to cut the red tape and set up tents under flyovers and shelter people in unusable buses. The Delhi Urban Shelter Board added 25 porta cabins to its 175 shelters. Another 34 porta cabins relocated from schools are expected to be ready by January 28.

APMC reform 

Taking a strong stand against the alleged corruption in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), the new labour minister, Girish Soni, has removed the chairman and the vice-chairman of the organization. The decision was taken after the minister reportedly received complaints of mismanagement and corruption against the senior APMC officials from mandi traders. The charges included taking bribes, siphoning off funds, not paying minimum wages to guards, poor sanitation, theft, bungling in licences, etc. Soni will set up an enquiry against both officials and order an audit of APMC for the past three years.

Environment 

Environmentalists have applauded the government’s decision to move the Millennium Bus Depot from the Yamuna bank. Made as a temporary structure during Commonwealth Games in 2010, it continues to encroach upon the river bank. On January 15, the government decided to submit an affidavit to the high court declaring its intention to shift the depot. Kejriwal’s declaration that protection of Delhi’s natural resources is crucial has also won him supporters among activists.

VAT 

The Aam Aadmi Party manifesto talks of simplifying the valueadded tax (VAT) system. Soon after becoming chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal extended the date for filling up two categories of VAT forms for traders till January 31. “The traders came to me to tell that the last date was December 31 but since the forms were very complicated they were unable to meet the deadline. Hence the date has been extended and the department has been directed to simplify the form,” Kejriwal said. On January 27, the CM held a comprehensive review of VAT and discussed with officials ways to simplify the process and the very system of taxation. These complexities and multiple clearances are said to enable the manipulation of norms and corruption.

FAULT LINES 

Anarchy 

It was presumed that on becoming chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal would let go of his activist past and move on to a political life. However, the CM shocked not just Delhi but people around the world when he decided to sit on dharna with all his ministers outside the high-security Rail Bhavan to demand action against five police personnel, and Delhi government’s control over the city’s police. Described variously as an anarchist and a reactionary, Kejriwal held the city to ransom with his protest and has given people the power to carry out sting operations against government officials. His critics say that there are procedures within a democratic system which he as CM can use, and it is highly embarrassing for a CM to sit in protest in his own city. A debate is on.

Internal strife 

Days into governance, the Aam Aadmi Party had to deal with its first dissident. Vinod Kumar Binny, MLA from Laxmi Nagar and a former Congress corporator, not only sulked on two occasions on being denied what he wanted but also publicly called Kejriwal a liar. Binny attempted to wash AAP’s dirty linen in public, accusing Kejriwal of running a one-man show, ignoring workers, carrying on a farce of democracy by deciding in advance candidates for the assembly elections and lying to the electorate. Kejriwal said Binny first wanted a ministerial post and then a Lok Sabha ticket, and sulked when he was denied both. Binny has now managed to gather many disgruntled volunteers and is actively campaigning against the chief minister.

Violence 

Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, already under massive criticism for the form of protest adopted by the elected head of the city, took a turn for the worse when scores of its supporters broke down barricades at Rafi Marg to join the CM on his dharna outside Rail Bhavan. In the lathicharge that followed, about 30 persons were injured, and AAP promptly blamed home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for the violence. Some people also had to be hospitalized. At another barricade, some protesters threw stones and rocks at the police force, injuring at least two. On the other hand, police had strict instructions to not use force on the protesters and they stood ignoring barbs and slogans directed at them. This was a first for AAP.

Tension with police 

Arvind Kejriwal’s first month in office has been marked by attacks on Delhi Police and the Centre, which looks after law and order in the capital. The CM and his cabinet squatted outside Rail Bhavan when prevented from marching up to the home ministry demanding the suspension of three SHOs. The home ministry’s stand that an inquiry will decide the fate of cops accused of inaction during a midnight raid in Khirki Village, a bride burning case and the gang rape of a Danish woman enraged Kejriwal. An embarrassing faceoff between the CM and the Centre followed. Rain spoiled Kejriwal’s plan to protest till his demands were met. He accepted a face-saver from the Centre which sent two cops on leave. He, however, embarrassed police by talking about corruption in the force during his R-Day speech.

Attack on media 

The media has been under the direct attack of the AAP government. Its ministers have suddenly become mediashy and the chief minister himself has alleged that the negative coverage of his party is because of a nexus between rival parties and media houses. He said this even in his official Republic Day speech, slipping in a kind word or two as a concession to journalists. After his dharna at Rail Bhavan, Kejriwal had given vent to similar feelings about media coverage. His law minister, Somnath Bharti, sharpened the attack on the media by asking a reporter how much BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had paid her to unrelentingly seek an answer to a question.

SYMBOLISM

Right from the time the new government took oath, it has banked on symbolism to prop its image as different from the rest. TOI takes a look at these sidelights of AAP’s politics

Mufflers and topis 

An AAP cap on the head and a muffler tightly wrapped around his neck, covering his ears: that’s the popular image of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The cap created quite a stir when he attended the fi rst session of Delhi assembly wearing it. While some in the opposition mocked him, BJP actually accused him of breaking the assembly code of conduct. Kejriwal, however, stuck to his ground and the issue dissipated, but it built his popular image. The muffler, in particular, became a talking point after the CM started wearing it wherever he went—the secretariat, a TV studio or the dharna. When he attended President Pranab Mukherjee’s Republic Day party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday, he got a muffl er as gift. Now, Kejriwal’s cabinet colleague Somnath Bharti has started wearing a muffl er too, but it is yet to prove lucky for him

Ramlila Maidan 

This venue had become synonymous with agitation, but AAP now wants it to symbolize the party and its different style of governance. The cabinet took oath there, and the CM now wants the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed at a special session of the assembly inside it. Kejriwal has drawn critics’ ire for this, as they feel the assembly is a goodenough and constitutional venue for passing laws

Friendly neighbourhood ministers 

Most AAP MLAs and ministers have tried to project themselves as accessible to the common man and tried hard to sell the idea that they are one of them. They have done so by not taking the VIP way and using public conveyance like buses, autos and the Metro to go to work. Of course, this has had a flip side to it: when all MLAs went for the swearing-in ceremony, all Metro stations where they got in and out were clogged due to security restrictions, and commuters were greatly inconvenienced. The CM himself has been staying in his Kaushambi society flat, where people have started complaining of being under nonstop media and police glare. But the CM and his cabinet colleagues maintain that they frequently interact with people on the streets (most of which is in full media glare) and know what they want, even though rivals say they indulge in publicity stunts

WagonR that is CM’S AAPmobile 

Kejriwal’s personal car, a blue WagonR, has hogged the limelight as much as its owner. When the CM sat on dharna outside Rail Bhavan, his car was with him. He slept on the road next to the car; and when it rained on Day 2, he and his cabinet hopped into the car to take cover. Media watchers have called it the ‘AAPmobile’ after Batman’s car, but some market-watchers think this is a good publicity boost for this Maruti Suzuki brand that might go off production in a few years

Aam aadmi cuts ribbon 

When the CM was invited to inaugurate a revamped hospital run by the NDMC, he turned down the offer and suggested that a rickshawpuller be allowed to do the honours. Kejriwal saw it through and a 60-year-old rickshawpuller, Vijay Baba, inaugurated the hospital on Saturday with the CM by his side. Many wondered if such a gimmick was necessary, but AAP maintains the aam aadmi needs to know that it’s he who calls the shots now.

A long-lasting battery that runs on sugar!

A long-lasting battery that runs on sugar!

Times of India |2 days ago |Posted By: SAMEER BHATI

 

Scientists have developed a new biodegradable battery that runs on sugar and can work for long hours without charging.
 
In as soon as three years, the new battery could be running some of the cell phones, tablets, video games, and the myriad other electronic gadgets that require power, researchers said.
 
The battery developed by a Virginia Tech research team has an unmatched energy density, a development that could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable.
 
While other sugar batteries have been developed, this one has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refuelled, YH Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, said.
 
“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature. So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery,” Zhang said.
 
The development could help keep hundreds of thousands of tonnes of batteries from ending up in landfills, researchers said.
 
Zhang and his colleagues constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell.
 
Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.
 
Like all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel –in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch — with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.
 
“We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade,” Zhang said. 
 
Different from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy storage density. The enzymes and fuels used to build the device are biodegradable. 
 
The battery is also refillable and sugar can be added to it much like filling a printer cartridge with ink. 
 
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

 

Flowers cover Nazi swastikas after mosque attack

Flowers on the Stockholm mosque Monday morning. Photo: Islamiska förbundet

Flowers cover swastikas after mosque attack

 

Published: 07 Jan 2014 15:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Jan 2014 15:38 GMT+01:00

Several swastikas scrawled on the facade of the Stockholm mosque were covered by flowers on Monday, leading the Islamic Association’s chairman to hope “the quiet majority” is finally speaking up.

Last Thursday morning, members of the Stockholm Muslim congregation arrived at the mosque on Södermalm to find the doors were covered in Nazi graffiti. By Monday morning, however, a much more positive display had taken their place: bouquets of pink and white flowers were taped over the black swastikas, and a note of solidarity was tied to the door.

“For every hate crime there is a flower,” the sign read. “An attack on you is an attack on Sweden! We stand together!”

Flowers were also placed outside the mosque in Fittja, which had its windows smashed and pig feet tossed in back in November, as well as a Hagsätra church which had also been vandalized with swastikas last Friday.

“I thought society was moving the wrong direction. But now my view changed 180 degrees,” Omar Mustafa, chairman of the Swedish Islamic Association, told The Local. “Members of the congregation arrived for the morning prayer at 7am and called me saying there were flowers on the mosque. They sent me a picture and I felt strength and encouragement in a whole new way.”

The mosque in central Stockholm, which opened its doors in 2000, is no stranger to vandalism, receiving threats and falling prey to hate crimes each month. But Wednesday’s attack was unusual in its magnitude and directness.

“We’re used to receiving hateful emails and letters, so they’re not abnormal. But they also don’t feel so real,” Mustafa mused. “But I’ve never seen something like this before, right on the front door. It was a very strong message of hate.” 

IN PICTURES: Swedish neo-Nazis attack families peacefully protesting racism

The mosque had been vandalized before, but not with swastikas, representatives said. The attack followed close on the heels of a neo-Nazi attack in the suburb of Kärrtorp, which was later met by a display of solidarity when more than 16,000 Swedes gathered to peacefully demonstrate against racism.

 
 

Mustafa said he hopes such actions against racism will encourage others to speak up.

“We know that a majority of people in Sweden are against hate and racism. But the majority is also very quiet. What was surprising this time was that the majority actually acted, in solidarity, support, and love,” Mustafa said. 

In 2013, around 300 hate crimes against Muslims were reported in Sweden, and such incidents are on the rise according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet). Innumerable crimes also go unreported due to fears that media exposure will increase hate crimes. And Mustafa fears things may get worse before they get better, especially with Swedish elections coming up this fall.

“Hate is becoming more and more open, and 2013 was a very difficult year,” he said. “There were a lot of debates about racism, and many were very negative. I am very afraid that racist parties and movements will win more seats and become a bigger part of decision-making, as we’ve seen in Denmark and Norway. But I hope this kind of action helps more and more people take action.”

Mustafa and others posted images of the flowers on social media sites, which spread like wildfire and garnered attention and support in Sweden as well as abroad. 

“When you get this kind of support in flowers or social media, you suddenly feel that you are not alone,” Mustafa told The Local. “It’s proof that society is not racist on the whole. I don’t think that the flowers will knock out racism, but it is a strong message. And I think more and more people are lifting their voices against racism and taking action, and I think more and more will.”

Solveig Rundquist

More than 40 Muslims were killed when a Buddhist mob armed with knives and machetes attacked a village, officials say.

 

UN: Dozens killed in Myanmar village

 
 
 

More than 40 Muslims were killed when a Buddhist mob armed with knives and machetes attacked a village, officials say.

 
Last updated: 23 Jan 2014 20:40
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The UN has called Myanmar’s 1 million Rohingya one of the most persecuted minorities in the world [Reuters]

The United Nations says over 40 Muslims were killed when a Buddhist mob stormed a village in an isolated corner of western Myanmar last week, hunting down residents with knives and machetes, the UN said. .

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said on Thursday she had received credible information that eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine on January 9, followed by a clash in the same village the following week that the UN believes killed at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children, bringing the total to at least 48.

“I deplore the loss of life in Du Chee Yar Tan and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice,” she said.

The second clash, on January 13, followed the reported kidnapping and killing of a police sergeant by Rohingya residents, according to witnesses and rights groups. 

There needs to be accountability for this wave of horrific violence … but mass arrests of Muslim men and boys are not the way.

Matthew Smith, Executive Director, Fortify Right

 

Myanmar’s government has denied reports of a massacre. Presidential spokesman, Ye Htut, said on Thursday that he “strongly objects” to the UN claims, calling them “totally wrong.”

The incident in Du Char Yar Tan, a village in Northern Rakhine state, appears to be the deadliest in a year, and would bring the total number killed nationwide in sectarian violence to more than 280, most of them Muslims.

Another 250,000 people have fled their homes. Northern Rakhine is home to 80 percent of the country’s 1 million Muslim Rohingya population, and is off-limits to foreign journalists. Access for humanitarian aid workers is severely restricted. 

An independent Thailand-based rights group, Fortify Rights, also said on Thursday that more than 40 were killed.

Government denials

Security forces surrounded Du Char Yar Tan on January 14 after Rohingya Muslim residents allegedly abducted and killed a police sergeant, according to residents who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.

Worried about retaliatory attacks, most of the men fled, and soldiers and police did nothing to stop a Buddhist mob that entered the village with knives and guns, attacking women, children and others left behind, they said. 

The Myanmar government has repeatedly denied that any violence took place in the area, apart from the death of the police sergeant and an alleged attack by Rohingya Muslims on police.

There are around 1 million Rohingya in Myanmar. The UN has called them one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. 

 
 

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton

 Looks Like an Ocean of Stars

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars nature Maldives light beach

While vacationing on the Maldives Islands, Taiwanese photographer Will Ho stumbled onto an incredible stretch of beach covered in millions of bioluminescent phytoplankton. These tiny organisms glow similarly to fireflies and tend to emit light when stressed, such as when waves crash or when they are otherwise agitated. While the phenomenon and its chemical mechanisms have been known for some time, biologists have only recently began to understand the reasons behind it. You can see a few more of Ho’s photographs over on Flickr.

Emirati woman Improves PowerPoint and Gets invited to WhiteHouse

Emirati woman renovates PowerPoint

Fatima Al Zaabi received an invitation to the White House and was also approached by Google and Microsoft to sell her product

    • By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Senior Reporter
    • Published: 18:14 January 19, 2014
    • Gulf News

     

    • Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News
    • Emrati engineer Fatima Jasem Al Zaabi, Has received an invitation to dinner at the White House from US President Barack Obama. The invitation is in recognaition of her innovative use of Microsoft Power Point for creating archtectural design for villas seen in the picture are she is with her Book at Gulf News office in Dubai during the interview.

    Dubai: Emirati innovator Fatima Jasem Al Zaabi, 31, has received an invitation to dinner at the White House from US President Barack Obama, in recognition for her innovative use of Microsoft PowerPoint for creating architectural designs for homes.

    Fatima, who currently lives with her family in Abu Dhabi, has always had an eye for technology and although her last qualification is her high school diploma, she has been self-taught on everything she needs to know about computer programs and technology.

    Gulf News spoke to with Fatima ahead of her Washington trip, which will take place in the coming months, and discussed her achievements, her motivation, and her future plans.

    Why did you decide to renovate PowerPoint, and how long did it take you?

    Fatima: I first took up an engineering course at Al Khawarizmi International College in Al Ain because I wanted to become a civil engineer. But when I started using the software application Auto Cad, which is a specialised program that enables users to draw villas in 2D or 3D designs, I found it very difficult to use. After a year, I decided to drop the course and took up the challenge of finding an easier alternative so that everybody could have the tools to draw their ideal home, without having to enrol in a professional course. It took me six years to install new options on the tool bar, and to come up with ways on how to change the regular elements of Power Point so that users can draw their own shadows and dimensions, and give it a 3D effect.

    What were some of the challenges you faced while redesigning PowerPoint?

    It was a struggle because I was not sure exactly which tools I needed to incorporate, and I had to structure it in a way that children and adults who are not specialised in computer programs could both use. It took a lot of trial and error but over the years, each version was better than the last. At the time, one of my sisters wanted to design a new home for herself, so I was testing the new tools out and looking at whether the requirements needed to design a home were met.

    Once you finished your project, was it easy to gain recognition and market it?

    When I finished working on my project, I published the first edition of my book on my own expense, which thoroughly discusses how PowerPoint was improvised and the new tools that I incorporated into it. I approached a number of establishments but they did not take my work seriously, as they presumed that it already existed in Microsoft’s latest version of Power Point. I then went to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and through their guidance, encouraged me to take my work further. Before I knew it, I received a Microsoft certificate of appreciation and an invitation to the White House for dinner. I have also recently been approached by Microsoft and Google who are interested in buying my program.

    Do you have an agenda during your visit at the White House?

    When I go to the US, I want to project the image of women in the Arab world. There is a preconception of what veiled women can do, and in the West, they think that our capabilities are limited. I made a personal decision about five years ago to veil my face, and I want to show everybody that it has not limited me in any shape or form. One of my favourite hobbies is playing basketball and I am now captain of the women’s basketball team at the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. I want to show the rest of the world how empowered women in the UAE are, and that since the country was founded, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had made it a mission to eradicate women’s illiteracy and empower women.

    Have you always had a penchant for technology?

    Since I was a child, I was fascinated on fixing things and even though nobody taught me how, I would open up the broken electronics we had at home and find a way to repair it. My brothers also turned to me to fix their computers, and if I ever came about a problem I did not know how to overcome, I would read and teach myself.

    Your plans?

    For the time being, I want to focus on writing nasheed and working on my job at the Royal Group, which was launched by Shaikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. So far, I have written 30 nasheed poems and plan to write more. Any free time I have is dedicated to the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, where I advise young women on starting up their business and the means on how to get investors and to market it.

    Calculus Invented in Kerala 250 years before Newton: study

    Calculus created in India 250 years before Newton: study

      Researchers in England may have finally settled the centuries-old debate over who gets credit for the creation of calculus.



    Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Manchester)

    For years, English scientist Isaac Newton and German philosopher  Gottfried Leibniz both claimed credit for inventing the mathematical  system sometime around the end of the seventeenth century.
    Now, a team from the universities of Manchester and Exeter says it  knows where the true credit lies — and it’s with someone else  completely.
    The “Kerala school,” a little-known group of scholars and  mathematicians in fourteenth century India, identified the “infinite  series” — one of the basic components of calculus — around 1350.
    Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, a member of the research team, says  the findings should not diminish Newton or Leibniz, but rather exalt the  non-European thinkers whose contributions are often ignored.
    “The beginnings of modern mathsis usually seen as a European  achievement but the discoveries in medieval India between the fourteenth  and sixteenth centuries have been ignored or forgotten,” he said. “The  brilliance of Newton’s work at the end of the seventeenth century stands  undiminished — especially when it came to the algorithms of calculus.
    “But other names from the Kerala School, notably Madhava and  Nilakantha, should stand shoulder to shoulder with him as they  discovered the other great component of calculus — infinite series.”
    He argues that imperialist attitudes are to blame for suppressing the true story behind the discovery of calculus.
    “There were many reasons why the contribution of the Kerala school  has not been acknowledged,” he said. “A prime reason is neglect of  scientific ideas emanating from the Non-European world, a legacy of  European colonialism and beyond.”
    However, he concedes there are other factors also in play.
    “There is also little knowledge of the medieval form of the local  language of Kerala, Malayalam, in which some of most seminal texts, such  as the Yuktibhasa, from much of the documentation of this remarkable mathematics is written,” he admits.
    Joseph made the discovery while conducting research for the as-yet unpublished third edition of his best-selling book The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European Roots of Mathematics.

    Surprising facts about India

    India is the only country in the world which has both tigers and lions in the wild. 


    India has classified dolphins as “non-human persons” (due to the animal, er, the non-human’s near human intelligence) and has ordered their release from captivity. 


    Despite having a majority of Hindus, India has more mosques than any other nation in the world. 

    India has the world’s largest school in terms of pupils, the City Montessori School, which has nearly 45 thousand pupils.

    Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun before any other astronomer. He said that the earth took 365.258756484 days.



    Varanasi is Asia’s oldest continuously inhabited city.



    Only Africa is ahead of India in terms of linguistic, genetic and cultural diversity. And Africa is a continent.


    India was the first country in the world to produce steel.


    The first reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Gujarat by, no, not Narendra Modi, but by the Saka king Rudradaman I.

    Rabindranath Tagore has written the national anthems of India andBangladesh (Jan Gana Man and Amar Sonar Bangla).


    Veterinary science was developed in India. 

    Indian Railways employs over 1 million people. That’s more than the entire population of many nations. 


    The world’s largest film studio is Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. 


    Indians developed the largest measure of time, known as kalpa, which is nearly 25 billion years. 

    Cricket may be a religion now, but India has won 6 gold medals in field hockeyback to back at the Olympics and a total of 8 golds. Talk about domination. A nation losing 5-0 to India was considered brilliant.


    India is one of the few places which has fused religion and science. In Hindusim, there is a God of engineers and architects, Vishwakarma. In India, whenever a section of a bridge or building is completed, He is worshipped.


    India has 3 biodiversity hotspots, no other country, or even continent exceptBrazil and Indonesia have more than 2.


    India’s economic rise since the 90’s has been meteoric. India’s share of World GDP was earlier 33%, and then fell to 3% during the British Raj.


    India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailandand Indonesia.


    The India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final match in Mohali drew 150 million viewers worldwide.


    Once a person becomes a Hindu Sadhu, he becomes legally dead and can therefore, can ride trains for free.

    Dead Man Walking

    Cotton was domesticated in India.


    India in Chinese is pronounced as Yindu (“印度”).

    The Grand Anicut Dam of the state of Tamil Nadu was built over 2000 years ago and is still standing.


    In Madhya Pradeshpolicemen are given a rise in their salaries if they grow a moustache.

    The policemen in the above picture are not from M.P.

    India has a better voter turnout than the United States of America.


    In Rajasthan, the body hair of a camel is often cut or trimmed in festivals ormelas (fairs) to give them an attractive look.


    Some may have a misconception that huge dinosaurs never roamed India butBruhathkayosaurus, according to some, was the largest dinosaur that ever lived. Its remains were found near Trichy, in Tamil Nadu. Its name is derived from bruhath, meaning huge in Sanskrit, and kay, meaning body. 



    India has the world’s second largest stadium by seating capacity, the Salt Lake Stadium. (The largest is said to be one in North Korea, its my personal opinion but I don’t think that their regime’s figures can be trusted.)



    The Koh-i-Noor Diamond is a famous diamond which was mined in India and is currently a part of the British Imperial Crown, but what many don’t know is thatThe Hope Diamond, which has been touted as the world’s most famous diamond was also mined in India.


    All the ten stores or outlets which sold the most amount of pizzas, are in India. 




    George Orwell, the writer of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm was born in Motihari, in the Indian state of Bihar.

     

    Captain Nemo (Prince Dakkar), the famous character of Twenty ThousandLeagues Under The Sea, is the son of the Hindu Raja of Bundelkhand.

    His famous ship, The Nautilus (See the Shiv Linga on the top).

    V.K. Krishna Menon was once described as India’s second most powerful man, second only to the Prime Minister. He was a seasoned diplomat. in 1957, Mr. Menon delivered an eight hour speech defending India’s stance on Kashmir at the United Nations. This is the longest speech ever in the UN



    Such is the size of Mumbai, that if the Pakistani administration ever had the suicidal thought of nuking South Bombay with their biggest bomb, the immediate damage would not be felt in the suburbs (although radiation would still do a lot of damage).



    The Mahabharata is the world’s longest epic. Its length is ten times more than that of the Illiad and the Odyssey combined and is much longer than any other religious text or epic. 


    The world’s first recorded manhunt was launched for a pirate, Henry Every, after he destroyed a Mughal ship, the Ganj-i-Sawai, by the British East India Company after they were defeated and imprisoned by the Mughal Emperor Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Mohammed Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was the world’s richest and most powerful ruler while he lived. This holds true for nearly all of India’s emperors.

    BJP pays APCO to spread Disinformation

    Anonymous’s answer to:

    Looking at the comments posted on various articles of popular news websites such as Firstpost, Times of India etc., these BJP supporters go too far just to make a point. They are willing to fight with you for as long as you want them to without even making sense most of the time. I will request somebody having some knowledge about this to explain the nitty-gritty of this matter. Thank you!
    2k

     

     

    Anonymous

    Votes by Gaurav Raj AnandKarthik Pattabiraman, Anonymous, Anonymous, and 2080 more.
     

    Indeed, some of them are paid. 

    Mr Narendra Modi, using taxpayer money, employs a company named APCO overtly for managing the Vibrant Gujarat campaign. See:

    1. Mechanics of Narendra Modi’s PR agency : APCO Worldwide – Orchestrating our Future,
    2. The Modi Machine: Makeover gurus (Edit: fixed broken link).


    APCO has been employed by dictators and lobbyists previously. As discussed in the article 2., it is unclear whether APCO officials double up as Modi’s spokespersons, or perform other functions as well, but it is plausible that APCO has been a key contributor to Modi’s propaganda. To be fair, APCO has denied working for Vibrant Gujarat campaign now, and for Modi at any time: Apco Worldwide denies working for Narendra Modi

    Personally, my experience with commenting on various news sites in India has been interesting in one aspect: while on Firstpost (FP) almost all comments are pro-Modi, in general views are much more diverse on other news sites. Why is this so? There is no rational explanation, other than the possibility that FP’s comment section is rigged either with or without co-operation of moderators there. This issue has been researched in depth by fellow commentators; see: Trollfest. I have personally experienced the official FPEditors handle make one-line, slanderous, anti-anti-Modi comments on more than one occasions. Does FP also employ APCO (or some other pro-Modi PR firm) for “moderation”?

    Use of PR firms would have been acceptable to an extent if there were transparency in BJP’s funding. However, since about 80% of BJP’s funds come from “unknown sources”, what corporate deals are baked behind the scenes is totally unclear. The problem of “paid news” is connected; under our laws, “paid news” is a minor offence and our toothless election commission cannot take strong action against paid news. Read more about paid news here: The Shocking Reality About Paid News And How The Media Is Silently Letting It Run [Part 2] | Youth Ki Awaaz.  

    In short, paid news and Crony capitalism are made for each other. The following steps are involved:

    1. Corporates fund politicians.
    2. Politicians fund media with corporate money.
    3. Paid media help client politicians get elected.
    4. Elected politicians favor corporates that funded them (2G, coalgate, etc.).
    5. Go to 1.


    Some people have the view that all parties have PR firms that act similarly. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most parties have an IT Cell. However, a few parties support RTI for political parties and transparency of funding; BJP is not one of them. Some parties do not take funds from corporates but only from individuals, thus they are less vulnerable to fall prey to crony capitalism; they do not spend more than the expense limits defined by EC; is BJP one of them? No, even their own MPs say so (refer: the Youth ki Awaz article above). 

    Living under decades of mis-rule, such people do not find anything wrong with paid campaigners. How about paid audience? Or, even if they find paid campaigners or paid audience wrong, they have the false belief that every party is doing it! 

    “Paid news” is the biggest problem facing humanity and such statements claiming “everyone is doing it” is a thorough travesty to those who have taken the courageous, right path.


    More references:



    Here are a few FAKE pics prepared by BJP fans or workers. Whether these are paid workers or not is anyone’s guess, but BJP would do best to take steps to reign in on them, including the FB/Twitter accounts that post them. 











    Here are some “sponsored links”:

    More coming soon …

     
    Upvote • 77+ Comments • Updated Mon Jan 13 2014
     
    Anonymous
     
     

    Kazakh Professor Solves Another Millennium Prize Problem

    Academician from Astana solves one of most difficult math problems of millennium

     ASTANA. January 10, 2014, 16:33 (10:33 GMT). BNews.kz Photo resource enu.kz

     

    Academician from Astana Mukhtarbai Otelbayev has solved one of seven most difficult mathematical millennium problems, the press service of the Eurasian National University reports.Mukhtarbay Otelbaev, Prof. Dr., Academician of the NAS of the RK, Director of the Eurasian Mathematical Institute of L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, completed and published paper “Existence of a strong solution of the Navier-Stokes equations” in the press.

    The importance of the publication is that this problem is included in the 7 most complex mathematical problems, which are called “millennium problems”. Note that for the solution of each of these problems Clay Mathematics Institute in early 2000 announced a prize of $ 1 million. Currently, only one of the seven Millennium problems (Poincaré conjecture) is solved. The Fields Prize for her decision was awarded to G.Perelman.

    Full Article of Muhtarbay Otelbaev was published in “Mathematical Journal” (2013, v.13 , № 4 (50)) http://www.math.kz/index.php/ru/513.

    To recall that the area of Muhtarbay Otelbaev’s scientific interests included spectral theory of operators, theory of operators’ contraction and expansion, investment theory of functional spaces, approximation theory, computational mathematics, inverse problems.

    Mukhtarbay Otelbaev is the winner of the title “Man of Science of the Year” in contest “Altyn Adam” (“Man of the Year in Kazakhstan ” in the category “Science”) 2002; in 2002-2003, 2004 – 2005 is the Winner of the state scientific grant for scientists and experts who have made outstanding contributions to the development of science and technology, winner of the Economic Cooperation Organization in the “Science and Technology“, 2004, winner of the MES grant of the RK “Best university teacher”, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic Kazakhstan in the field of science and technology.

    ASTANA. January 10, 2014, 16:33 (10:33 GMT). BNews.kz  Open the news


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    Mexican-American Discovers Truth of Islam

        Mexican-American Discovers Truth of Islam

    After months of study and research, I could not deny the Truth anymore

     

    By Ali Mexici

     
    Saturday, 04 January 2014 00:00

    After going to a mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my shahadah

    My name is Ali. I’m a 29 year old Mexican American, or as some would say, a Chicano.

    I think my story will in sha’ Allah (God willing) help people understand Islam and why it attracted me.

    Many people have a wrong perception about Islam and Muslims. What little they know is usually from Movies and Television, which is almost all the time false.

    My life before was bad – I had no direction. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out in the streets with my friends “partying,” getting high, drinking and selling marijuana.

    Most of my friends were gang members (I myself was never in a gang). I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers, so it was not a problem. I slowly began to use harder drugs. I had dreams but they seemed too far away for me to make them a reality. The more I became depressed, the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.

    One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana. I was eager to sample and buy some, so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment where there were a couple of people inside. We sat around and talked for a while and “sampled” the weed. My friend and I bought some and were getting ready to leave when my friend told me that one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.

    We left for the guy’s apartment, and when we got there, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it, saying that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book. It was the Quran.

    I had never in my life heard of the Quran. I began to briefly read some pages. While I was reading Quran, I knew that what I was reading was true. It was like a slap in the face – a wake up call. The Quran is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.

    The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion. I used to laugh at people who went to church, and sometimes I said that there was no God, although deep down I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Quran. I began to read it and study it. I learned about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon him).

    The Quran stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son: This was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the Trinity. The Quran describes the birth of Jesus and his mission. There is also a Chapter called Mary which tells her story as well.

    As a child I always went to church. My mother was a Seventh-Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15. The rest of my family is Catholic. I always wondered why we were Seventh-Day Adventists and the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic church for weddings and quencenira’s (sweet 16 celebration).

    Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind. The Quran tells the stories of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) in a clear and understandable manner. I did months of research on Islam, and I bought a Holy Quran at a bookstore and studied about World History and Islam’s contributions to Medicine and Science.

    I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for about 800 years, and that when the Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian King and Queen (Ferdinand and Isabel), the Christian Spaniards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic. History and my Islamic roots were all becoming clear to me.

    Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God.

    After months of study and research, I could not deny the Truth anymore. I had put it off too long, but was still living the same life as before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up.

    One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the Truth. I found out that there was a Mosque by my house so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their services.

    I saw that people from all races and colors attended the Mosque. I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the adhan (call for prayer). When I heard it, my eyes filled up with tears – it sounded so beautiful. It was all so strange at first, but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a Religion, but a way of life.

    After going to a mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my shahadah (declaration of faith). I told the Khateeb (person giving the lecture) that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday, in front of the community, I said my shahadah, first in Arabic then in English: I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger.

    When I finished, a Brother shouted, “Takbir!” and the entire congregation said, “Allahu akbar!” (God is great!) a few times. Then all the Brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs in one day. I will never forget that day, it was great. I have been Muslim since 1997. I feel at peace with myself and clear in my religion. Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I received my G.E.D. and now work in the computer field.

    I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage) to the Holy city of Makkah. It was an experience of a lifetime: about 3 million people from every race and color in one place worshiping one God. Truly amazing! Alhamdulillah (all thanks be to God) in December of 2002, I got married in Morocco to a very good Muslim woman.

    I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story in sha’ Allah will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the Light of Islam.

    SMART HEARING AID

    SMART HEARING AID     

    DEVRISHI KHANNA AND ROHIT MODI

     


    Normally, hearing aid circuits consume battery power continuously once they are switched on. The circuit given here saves battery power by switching on the sound amplifier section only when sound is detected. The sensitivity of the detection section and the ‘on’ time duration of the sound amplifier circuit can be set by the user. Also the circuit uses only a single condenser mic for sound detection and amplification.

    As is clear from the above, this hearing aid consists of a condenser microphone, earphone, and sound detection and amplification sections. The sound detection section employs a quad op-amp IC LM324 (IC1(A)) and a timer NE555 (IC2). The sound signal received at the mic is pre-amplified by transistor BC549 (T1). The voltage at its collector is fed to the inverting terminal (pin 2) of op-amp IC1(A), which is used as a comparator. The reference voltage (Vref) at the non-inverting terminal (pin 3) of IC1(A) is set using preset VR1. The preset is also used to control the sensitivity of the sound signals received by the circuit. The output from pin 1 of IC1(A) is fed to the trigger input (pin 2) of timer NE555, which is configured in monostable mode.

    When sufficient sound signal strength is detected at the base of transistor T1, the pulsating voltage at its collector exceeds the reference voltage at pin 3. As a result, output pin 1 of IC1(A) goes low. The low output from IC1(A) triggers the NE555 timer and its output goes high for a preset duration. R4 and C2 are the timing components for setting the time duration. The high output of the timer is directly used as the power source for the sound amplifier section.

    The sound amplifier section is built around transistors T2 through T5. The last amplifier stage T5 (pnp transistor BC558) drives the earphone. The sound signal received from the mic is fed to the non-inverting pin of the second op-amp of IC1(B) which is wired in unity follower configuration. The unity follower mode resolves the problem of impedance mismatch which would have occured if the output of the mic is fed directly to amplifier stage. The output from pin 7 of IC1(B) is fed to the base of transistor T2. The weak signal received at transistor stage T2 is further amplified by transistors T3, T4 and T5. An earphone to listen to the sound is connected between the collector of T5 and ground. It is recommended to use a mono earphone with volume control attached. 

    With 9V DC supply, when sound is detected through the mic, the amplifier section is automatically triggered and the current consumption of the circuit is about 96 mA. When the amplifier circuit is ‘off,’ the circuit draws a current of about 6 mA only, thus saving considerable amount of battery power

     

     

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