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Wake up India!

India needs more protests. It needs you.

Wake up! (Photo by Reiner Knudsen on Unsplash) Pilgrims died in Amarnath because of terrorists, a 16-year old Muslim youth was beaten to death on a train, with the attackers using his religion as an excuse, but West Bengal is witnessing its second communal riot in an year, however after protesting for over 40 days earlier this year, Tamil Nadu farmers will return to Delhi to renew their protests due to the inaction of the state government, and also, soldiers of both India and China are engaged in a face-off over a border dispute, while our Indian women's football team has not played a friendly match since 2013, a show of the AIFF's ignorance, at the same time in Nagaland- Stop. Breathe. Isn't there just too much news in the world? We are not even talking of the world actually; there are situations in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, USA...but the prospect of understanding our nation and its on-going developments is itself a daunting task. Why are we talking all this? Things have changed in our world. Remember when Facebook used to allow you to change your DP color to the flag of a terror-struck nation? These were mostly European nations; so people asked 'what about the Middle East? What about the African countries?' So, FB stopped giving that option. Closer back home, when people protested against an issue, someone or the other would sit in a TV studio and smirk 'Now they are angry, but what about when THAT OTHER issue took place?' At some point, certain people started demanding of Pakistani actors to post on social media, expressing their anguish / anger / solidarity with respect to attacks involving Muslim terrorists in India. Otherwise, you know, they're anti-national and should leave our country. Moving on from the logic of that, we still have our essential question: if there is so much news about so much important happening (for now, in our nation), how do we sort out the 'worthy enough to protest' ones? On what basis? And hey, why is it my duty (a working / studying middle-class girl / guy) to be aware of everything wrong in the country? How many issues should I go out and protest against? I have my work / my studies / my fiance / my dog. Why should I bother? The brief answer is: you should. The long-form answer is: Everyone and everything starts somewhere. And the more you ignore it...today, our media is drawing attention to everything wrong in our nation, because God bless the Fourth Estate (including the consistently-outraged Arnab Goswami), the competition between them for the next big story is massive. But it can only draw attention; we are the ones who have to focus our attention and do something about it (and we have to account for the very real possibility of the media being biased). We have scheming (against each other) ministers and burdened judges, but even they leap into action when the people demand it of them; remember Nirbhaya, and the speed with which the new laws were drafted and the case was held? Who owns our news? Additionally, we do not have other independent bodies for holding governments accountable to the public; we have a sort of Night's Watch (our judiciary), but no great big wall to keep the threats out. There is no Lokpal, and Lokayukta, at least none with any teeth whatsoever. There is just...us. There is truth behind the saying of 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty'; we have to keep watch, to alert others when we see something wrong, and to make others do the same. Maybe this is not our job; maybe an institution will be able to do it best. But till then, we are the ones who have to do this job. And as with any job, we have to look at everything that matters. Because everything, every little place, every small news, matters. And if you choose to ignore it today, you will be the one crying tomorrow. Originally published on my blog



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The Disappearing Rudrasagar Lake

The Neermahal Palace on the Rudrasagar Lake (By Chandrakant Sarkar via Wikipedia.com) Courtesy a fun election campaign, followed by some people gently pushing over certain statues, Tripura is known to many these days. Away from it all though, away from the poll promises, away from the rallies, and away from the post-election irrelevance, there are some issues in the state which could actually use some attention. The disappearing Rudrasagar Lake, for one. The King & His Palace Before its accession to India, Tripura was ruled as a kingdom. The last king of this state (the one who stepped down, and let his kingdom peacefully become a part of India), Maharaja Bir Bikram, was involved in many projects, and has even been said to be responsible for the start of modern infrastructure in the state. Among one of this was the Neermahal Palace, located in the waters of the Rudrasagar Lake, built in 1930. A palace on the waters of a lake. Though the official Tripura tourism site says the Maharaja built “his summer residence being inspired by Mughal style of architecture”, the more obvious inspirations seem to be Udaipur’s Jag Niwas (built in the late 18th century) & Jaipur’s Jal Mahal (also from the same time period). Anyways… The palace has been embroiled in an ownership dispute, with both the former royal family & the state claiming rights over it. Finally, in 2015, ownership of the palace shifted to the erstwhile royal family - the irony being that in 2013, the state government had announced its plans to restore both the palace & lake. As early as 2007, Down To Earth had called for urgent action to restore the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, citing threats from: Heavy siltation Pollution by brick kilns in the vicinity Massive population growth around the lake Use of large amounts of lake water for agriculture As of 2018, we are still waiting for a change. 1995   Rudrasagar Lake (1995) Satellite: Landsat 5 Date: 21 Jan 1995 Image Identifier: LT51370441995021ISP00 This is the lake, with the band combination selected as NDWI. Please note: this band has been reported to OVERESTIMATE the extent of water bodies. Why did we choose this over the band we took for Kodikal? There seemed to be some problem with the Index Stack band in this area. In any case, all images are purely for demonstrative purposes.   2011   Rudrasagar Lake (2011) Satellite: Landsat 5. Date: 26 Jan 2011 Image Identifier: LT51360442011026BKT00 16 years later, the lake seems to have shrunken badly. The same satellite, and the same combination.   2013   Rudrasagr Lake (2013) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 17 Dec 2013 Image Identifier:LC81360442013351LGN00 The Landsat 5 went out of service in June 2013. From this image from another satellite, we see that the lake is still shrinking, especially in the north. Also note: the government announced that it would start restoration in 2013.   2018   Rudrasagar Lake (29 Jan 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 29 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: LC08_L1TP_136044_20180129_20180207_01_T1 Still shrinking. Restoration either didn’t happen or did not work. Just to be sure, let’s check with another satellite?   Rudrasagar Lake (22 Jan 2018) Satellite: Sentinel 2 Date: 22 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: S2B_tile_20180122_46QCM_0 Doesn't completely match with the image above, though they are  separated by a duration of 7 days. One last look?   Rudrasagar Lake (Feb 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 21 Feb 2018 Oh.   Incidentally, the lake is also recognized as a Ramsar wetland site, under the Ramsar Convention; it is an international recognition, which is a pretty much big deal. Let's hope someone saves the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, before its too late. All images sourced from the open-access online tool EOS Landviewer. You can also look at the similar story of an unnamed stream in Kodikal, Karnataka.


How Kodikal Lost A Stream & Gained A Drain

Heading south to Mangalore, the last village you see before entering the city is Kodikal. It may even be wrong to call it a village now; apartment blocks, a brand new engineering college, and constant construction activity have made it more urban than rural. You can almost watch it transform into one of the much-wanted suburbs of the main city, like the way it happened in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore. Sadly, it is copying even the worse trends too. The Stream The Gurupura river flows down to Mangalore from the north, meeting the Netravati just before they empty out into the Arabian Sea. In its final stretch, as the Gurupura enters Mangalore, it meets a roughly 3 km long unnamed stream, in the vicinity of Kodikal. There is nothing special about the steam; it is one of the many streams draining out into the Gurupura river over its more than 40 km long stretch (after the confluence near). It is however, the stream that we are going to talk about. This stream that flows along the northern end of Kodikal, is itself formed by two sources, one from the north and the other from the east, as you can see below. Kodikal on Map So what’s the problem? It is disappearing. The Shrinking The EOS Landviewer (https://eos.com/landviewer/) is an online resource; just make an account on it, and you can access satellite images from as far back as 1984. We looked for Kodikal on the map, and pulled up an image from 1990. Then we applied the band combination of ‘Index Stack’; band combinations are used for highlighting specific features or phenomena of the landscape. Think of it like a image filter for a map. Why this specific filter/band combination then? This is the Index Stack Description (from the website) ‘vegetation displays here as green, water as purple, snow/ice as magneta, and soil, rocks, and barren land as blue. Clouds also appear as a mixture of purple & magneta, so in this case the indices alone are not sufficient for differentiating clouds from water and snow/ice.’ This is on 17 December 1990: Kodikal (17 December 1990) The satellite used here is Landsat 5 (belongs to the US; the initials are LT5). This is on 5 January 1992; pink is water, so notice the stream, and also keep an eye on the one to the north. Kodikal (5 January 1992) Now look at this from 11 January 2015. Kodikal (11 January 2015) The northern end of the stream is gone, as is the tributary in the north. Keep in mind: this is the same zoom level (300 m), the same weather conditions (December, January). The satellite however is different. So let’s reconfirm. This is 22 January 2018, from a different satellite. Kodikal (22 January 2018) The higher level of detail shows that the stream is highly blocked up in the north (as any local can guarantee, garbage is also thrown in the stream). But the above still stands; the tributary has disappeared, and the stream has shrunk. But why did this happen? The Present Google Earth combined a number of satellite images, the world over, to prepare Google Timelapse. This is the link. Go here, search Kodikal and zoom to the max. As you can see, this is a record of satellite images from 1984 to 2016, just like the ones we use in our GPS. Now, watch it on slow speed, and take a look at the north end of the stream. From 1999 to 2002, the upper part of the stream is clearly visible. In 2000, the first clearing of land, as the land becomes brown, happens on the north bank. On the southern bank, the clearing begins in 2007, expands in 2008, and becomes a bit bigger in 2015. Till 2010, part of the stream is still visible; it disappears in 2011. You can see the shrinking at the turn in 2013. What happened here? The AJ College happened here, among other things. The Problem As everyone in Kodikal knows, as early as 15 years ago, the place where the college stood was filled with water. Farming was the main occupation here, so the place was either that or marshland. My mother, who grew up here, says that in monsoon the entire area would flood up, as far away as 300m away from the stream, where the Nagabrahma Chawadi temple stands. It was only in the last 15 years, that the entire area was filled up. In fact, when the college construction began, trucks and trucks filled with sand had to choke up the naturally wet land. Some people joked that they were building a beach. It is about time we stop laughing now. This is present day Kodikal. Present Day Kodikal (Google Maps) If an area floods when it is just open fields, what happens when you put brick and sand and concrete over the fields? Where does the water go? Many houses here still depend on the ground water through wells for drinking water; how is the water supposed to seep down into the soil now? With the college, and the hostels, and still some open land waiting for buyers, where does all their water demand come from? The Future Mangalore is on its way to becoming a ‘smart city’ courtesy the Central Government’s pan-India plan. But what is the meaning of it becoming a smart city? More Ideal parlors, better roads, higher land prices? Or does it involve something more? Delhi is reeling under some of the worst air pollution in the world; the entire developing belt of North India is at threat from its own air. Bangalore has almost finished off its own water. Mumbai keeps drowning annually. Oh, and NASA predicted that the top two cities at risk from rising sea levels include Mumbai & Mangalore, with both the cities seeing levels rise by as much as 15 cms from the present height by the next 100 years. If Mangalore cannot learn from these cities/prepare for these eventualities, then what is the point of it being a city? If it cannot save its own stream, its own water, how will it protect its people?


Is It Getting Better To Be Gay In India?

The laws aren't there, neither are people's mindsets. So, why am I optimistic about the G in LGBT? Or is it just better to be gay in India?

Better Being Gay In India? (Photo by Gustavo Gouvêa on Unsplash) So much happening this year, and it’s just 13 days into the new year; which means you won’t be surprised if I tell you that it is getting better to be gay in India. Wait. WHAT? Sure, the recent SC statement about a relook into its judgment on Section 377 is a welcome decision. But on another, a more personal level, I have reason to believe the above statement. Why? One of the things I had been doing in the past months was work at a startup/marketing agency/application development venture. My task, as the new intern, was to prepare content for a brand-new video channel. The topic? Why, any informative & interesting topic would do! As you can imagine, that was a massive canvas to begin with. Everyone contributed their best-of lists, in-controversy issues, the likes. The aim was to make a video which would organically get views and viewers; since no one had any idea on how that would happen, every topic was taken and made a video on. It was like throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. Subsequently, we fell on hard times; a new YouTube channel was obviously going to struggle getting viewers, but a channel which had no idea on what it specialized in?  40 videos later, as even our best & most research-demanding videos failed to break the triple digit mark, everyone lost hope of the channel project amounting to anything. End of Act 1. A couple of months later, we found something weird. Somehow, one of our videos had started pulling in viewers, that too not just from India, even Pakistan & Saudi Arabia. It had been picking up pace, from 100 to 200 to 500.. It was about famous Indian personalities who were openly gay.     Which was funny, because an earlier video we had made on famous Indian transgenders failed to have any sort of meaningful relationship with the views counter. Now, we just watched its counterpart rise. The real improvement was yet to come though. As it became the 1st video from our channel to cross the 1k mark, a week after this miraculous rise (which was relayed across our office), a guy (the youngest one in our office) mixed up gay with transgender. The others made fun of him, and told him what was the difference between the two terms. Alright, maybe they did not use the best available terms, but they did make the difference clear. Maybe they still will be unable to look at an openly queer person without any bias. But they do know that sexual orientation has no impact on talent, or recognition or (the most important for a normal Indian) monetary success. On a somber note, another thing which justifies why its better to be gay in India was the lack of visibility & information on Indian lesbians and both male/female bisexual individuals, something we looked for when looking for lesbian or bisexual Indians. In essence, there were no best-of or top-5 lists of lesbian Indians. They apparently never left the closet. On The Other Side Of The Rainbow To sum up, if any individual from the LGBT community is reading this, to you I have just one appeal. Step up & talk. Why? In the past year, as I had been looking for internships, mostly unsuccessfully, one place where I managed to work was at Queer Support India. Though I went there with the best of intentions, the problem faced there was unique; after a certain point, you can keep writing for the LGBT audience only if you are in the shoes of (or familiar with) the actual queer community. As a straight guy (who by accidents of both chance and choice had been unable to fraternize with the LGBT community), I ran out of stories to tell, or experiences to share. Because they aren’t mine, they are yours to share & tell. That’s like the difference between a cheerleader (me) and the players (you). Eventually, you are the one who has to go out to play. Here’s to a more hopeful 2018!  


India’s Chakma & Hajong Refugees

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that's not much of a change from the last 50 years.

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that is not much of a change from the past 50 years. It is to the Northeast's credit that this mind-boggling mosaic of different people and different cultures has remained together; of course, the stitching done in keeping all these pieces together has occassionaly been very messy. But as part of the inherently diverse quilt called India, they make our country much more beautiful. It is only proper then that India itself should be held guilty for refusing to give prominence (at least in the mainstream news) to this part of the country. So, How Did The Chakma and Hajong Communities Become News-Worthy?   The Kaptai Dam (By Govt. Official - Kaptai Power Plant Archive, CC BY 2.5) It was only in the month of September 2017, in the midst of all the fire and fury over the Rohingya refugees, that the Centre announced its decision to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. This decision, mysteriously, came almost 2 years after the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to do the above 'within 3 months'. But, wait: who are they? Originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, the Chakmas (majority Buddhists) and Hajongs (majority Hindus) have been documented to face two major threats in the 1960s. One, the religious persecution they faced in the Muslim-majority then-East Pakistan, and two, the submerging of their land by the construction of the Kaptai Dam. Thus, beginning in the 1960s, they left for India. India, as the India Express goes on to summarize, gave them land, shelter, followed by a declaration of granting citizenship. Back in 1972, you may note. What is the big deal now then? Arunachal Protests   The Hajong People (By Diarchy Hajong- under CC 4.0 - via Wikipedia) Arunachal Pradesh is making a demand which may sound strange; make the refugees and their children the citizens of India, but do not allow them the pre-requisites for being a full-fledged Arunachal resident. Whoa. If you visit Arunachal today, you will be asked for an Inner Line Permit, a documentation required for every Indian who is not from Arunachal to enter the state. In that respect, this is a quote from an unnamed minister, said on September 13. "The Chakma and Hajong refugees will not be entitled to the rights enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, including land ownership. But they might be given inner line permits required for 'foreigners' in the state to travel and work," Predictably, the refugees have protested. An open letter addressed to our Home Minister had this to say: the Chakmas and Hajongs lost their value and identity as citizens and were stripped of all rights  by the Arunachal government one by one –  employment banned in 1980, trade licenses revoked, issuance of ration card stopped in 1991 and order of appointment of the post of Gaon Burah or to the Panchayat revoked in 1994, on the mere suspicion that we were foreigners or refugees But the opposition from the natives has been so vociferous that the state's very own Kiran Rijiju-who declared on September 13 that 'Supreme Court order has to be honoured'-said on September 19 that the Centre would appeal the earlier order. Two years later, you may note. Apart from the protests and counter-protests, the situation has not improved even now; October witnessed protests over Chakma applicants sitting for the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission exam. Tribe Against Tribe? The truth is, this is just one of the various faultlines in the state, and in the Northeast. In Arunachal, the state government has decided to adopt a Central rehabilitation policy for Tibetan refugees, but this has also faced opposition from the state's residents. Meanwhile in Mizoram, Chakmas have been protesting against discrimination faced by them in the state. In response, some have pointed out the Chakma Autonomous District Council in the state, telling them to be grateful. We have already talked about the fights between the Meiteis and the Nagas and the Kukis in Manipur, cheered on by political leaders, and about how Nagaland has not held elections for city corporations since 2004, just because it does not want to give women representation. The Lack Of Jobs   Chakma (By TawsifSalam-under CC 3.0-via Wkipedia.com) The people who drafted our Constitution cannot be praised enough; these extremely foresighted representatives provided protection where they felt it necessary. Note the genius of terming Article 370 as a Temporary Provision, but not giving the final date. The Northeastern states are also protected by their own laws, be it regarding visitors under the Inner Line Permit or security under the Scheduled Tribes status. The problem is that, we have not been talking about the future of these for a long time. Like reservation, we have allowed a system - set up to help the people - to become something very different from what it was originally. It has been close to 70 years since some of India's best sat down and began the ardous task of making one Constitution for the country. In regard to the Northeast, isn't it about time that there is at least an dialogue with all the stakeholders? Understand what the people there want from the government, and how the government can help them? Fix some new goalposts, and update the rights as per the times? Economically, the Northeast is not really in the pink of health either. Even the achievements are tinged with the whiff of the state's failures. Neighbouring Manipur sent 8 footballers to the Under-17 Indian World Cup squad, out of a total of 21 players. How so many? Renedy Singh, a local and a former India captain, explains: "Getting a government job is a far cry for the common people but they have a second option to get jobs either in government or private sectors through excellence in sports." For Arunachal Pradesh, unemployment is a genuine issue. An editorial by retired Indian Air Force Group Captain Mohonto Panging, says the same. Even the Arunachal Pradesh Governor has also talked about the same. So when we come to government data, the inferences are troubling. The NSSO conducts a five-year survey, on data including the rate of unemployment. As per the 2011-12 report (which is the most recent), the unemployment rate has been rising since 2004 in both rural and urban areas of Arunachal. In fact, if we check for urban areas, the only states with higher unemployment rates than Arunachal are Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram. Apart from better-off Meghalaya (2.8) & Sikkim (2.3), the entire Northeast is here. Let's hope someone wakes up before it is too late for the Northeast.  


About GM Crops

What are GM crops? And why is Arnab not talking about it?

Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash (College students today, are arguably best poised to innovate and bring a change. Courtesy a simple net connection, a helping of curiosity and a large amount of zeal, they can keep pace with all the recent advancements while taking their first steps in their respective fields. So, in this assuredly irregular part of Snaptimes, we will help you know about Biotechnology, through the printing press of a college periodical, the Ribose Times. So, shall we?) It is a mark of our country's progress that in present times, there is no dearth of commentaries on shayaris, or about a bombing in Russia, or even on how to travel safely in Italy. We can afford to do this, taking for granted the food that turns up on our table. A phenomenon which is rather mystifying, for while we all aren't looking, the people whom we voted for are on the verge of changing the very nature of the food we eat. First, some background. GM crops are agricultural plants where the DNA is modified through genetic engineering. The objective is to introduce new characteristic(s) to the plant species, ones which do not occur naturally. They have their benefits and their drawbacks, and are already here. In fact, they may even be in your food! According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a lobby for biotech crops, cottonseed oil makes up 13.7 per cent of edible oil in India. But about 90 per cent of the cotton grown in the country is genetically modified Bt cotton. So can we then, let the consumer choose? If we tell them, that this is the GM crop-derived one, and this is the organic crop-derived one, now you choose, will that be practical? That, is the debate on GMO labelling. Is it good, or is it even practical? GMO labelling will ease the concerns of consumers by letting them know where their food really comes from. This transparency can only help restore confidence of the consumers in the food industry. BUT It would require large scale separation of food products. The food distribution system is not equipped to handle two different categories of food, which have to be handled and supplied separately. Meanwhile, the biggest producer of GM crops, Monsanto, went ahead and merged with Bayer, the chemicals giant. Basically, this created a behemoth which will produce both GM crops AND the pesticides for these crops. That's not all: People are worried that less competition will shrink up innovation because of which no new and improved crops would be introduced into the market. Many are even fretting that these giants will now hold power to manipulate the government for their own profit ignoring the requirements of the farmers. In India, the stakeholders believe that these mergers will narrow down choices for farmers. Bayer and Monsanto will become the major players in the seed sector and will contribute their share in maize, cotton, paddy, vegetables and agrochemicals. What now? Our government is thinking about allowing growth of GM mustard, something which would officially make us all consumers of GM foods. But away from how much of it sounds right or wrong, how many of us know the actual science behind it? How many studies done on its consumption - done by a neutral third party - are accessible? And can we not, at the least, have a say in what we eat?


Mr. Modi, What Do You Think About The Rohingyas?

You know those Rohingyas dying near our borders? By landmines planted by their own country's army? What do you think, Mr. PM?

Photo by Danny Postma on Unsplash Since 2015, a word has popped up again and again. In India, among the many headlines in the newspaper, and the bold announcements in the channel tickers, it appeared; occupying the  paradox of being a distant reality, and still a very present one. But all of us, had to face that word, again and again. Refugee. What the world also realized was that these people were not one uniform block; no, they were people from Syria, from Afghanistan, from Ukraine, from Nigeria. If there was something they shared, it was the fate of having to leave their own people and land behind. Of course, ensconced in our own little pocket universes, we hardly have time to understand the little details present in our very own lives, let alone people in far-off Europe. Because, if you just look up, you will understand that these details owe their existence to people who came from beyond our borders. The 80,000 Tibetans who fled from the Chinese in 1959, brought momos with them. The Zoroastrians from Iran gave India JRD Tata, and the eponymous corporate behemoth. The more than 10,000 Afghans who fled from the war there, are now self-sufficient enough that they can give a taste of their cuisine through restaurants and fair stalls. Close to 2 crore Bangladeshi immigrants and 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils also live in our country, not liked but tolerated (in the case of the Tamils: "even the third generation after being educated are working as daily wage labourers"). So, what have the 40, 000 Rohingyas done that they stand to get deported? Let's assume-dispassionately, if you may-that this is just some routine policy decision. That the Cabinet sat and said 'if we look at this from the legal perspective...', and decided to announce deporting them. Then, you see this.   A roadside billboard in Jammu bears a warning to refugees from a Hindu nationalist group. Rohingya people, of whom there are roughly 5,500 in the north Indian city, are urged to leave. Photograph: Mir Imran (Above image & caption taken from The Guardian) (A passing observation: how shaky is your faith if the presence of some recent migrants can threaten its existence?) Then, you-the normal Indian-realize that there is an amendment being proposed to the Citizenship Act. As of now, the Citizenship Act 1955 denies citizenship to all illegal migrants; the 2016 Amendment proposes allowing Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan to become citizens after living in India for 6 years. Spot the odd religion out.   For years, we tut-tutted at the West for failing to understand that all Muslims weren't terrorists. Now? Now, our Home Ministry thinks it fit to say to issue an advisory , saying:   illegal migrants are more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organizations. Infiltration from Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory specially in the recent years besides being burden on the limited resources of the country...   And if there's any confusion that who the notice is intended for, as the government is rumored to say that it applies to all illegal migrants, banish those doubts.   Detection & deportation of such illegal migrants from Rakhine state, also known as Rohingyas, is a continuous process.   Apparently, Hindu migrants just consume air and thrive. What is more galling is our government calling this 'infiltration'. The UN has acknowledged the risk of ethnic cleansing. An authoritative news agency, Reuters, calls it an exodus. Calls have been made for taking back the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But India...   By English: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Flickr) , via Wikimedia Commons  Did the Rohingyas just start migrating this year? In 2009, the Coast Guard discovered 98 refugees, from an original number of more than 300, stranded on a boat near the Andamans. They were living in camps in Bangladesh, and had turned towards Thailand in the hope of a better future. Instead, Thai soldiers themselves sent these boats and refugees back. Police found 90 Rohingya refugees, starved and dehydrated in one of the islands of Andaman & Nicobar, in February 2011. In May 2012, the Indian government issued 3-year visas to the refugees. This too, came after sustained protests in the capital. Sounding eerily similar to what would happen in some years in the Mediterranean, two boats, carrying 135 and 110 Rohingya passengers, sank in the span of two weeks in November 2012. In 2013, Antonio Guterres, the then-UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) said: It is important that the problems of citizenship are solved (referring to Myanmar) and the countries of the region follow the example of India that has opened its borders to the Rohingyas and granted them the same status as it has to the other refugees. (Note: Antonio Guterres is the present Secretary-General of the UN. He is also the one who commented about the risk of ethnic cleansing above.) What are they fleeing from, you ask. I can tell you about the requirement for the state's approval for your marriage if you're a Rohingya Muslim. About the denial of citizenship to them. About how back in 2009, the residents there refused to acknowledge the existence of the Rohingyas to a journalist. Or about the country's first Census in 2014, which refused to include the Rohingyas. But it would be better if you watch the below video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqMSfT9eI6o The above video is from 2014. 3 years ago, and this was their condition. In fact, set aside their condition. Just listen to what the Buddhist monks are saying; what they only prove is that the quality of being pig-headed and supporting violence truly transcends the barriers of religion. The world's media is looking at Myanmar now, and the country is going to be the proverbial deer in the front of their cameras. Landmines are being placed near the border, entire villages are being set on fire, and their biggest leader refuses to acknowledge this crisis and instead terms it as fake news. As the wannabe elder brother, what indeed does India have to say for itself? What does the leader of this democracy have to say?


Under-17, but Above Expectations?

India's Under-17 team is ready to play. But what can we realistically expect from them and what happens in their future?

“It was deserving, India are a team who will compete and make their country proud, you can tell there is a lot of work from Luis and what he has achieved with their players,” Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Claudio Bravo (Manchester City) are some of the players in the Chile senior squad. And their Under-17 coach is impressed with our players, after a 1-1 draw against the Chile Under-17 squad. Did the sun just wink at us from behind the clouds? Some of the Under-17 players   Football in India, is going through a period of flux. While the ideal dream of having an amazing national team and a television-friendly national league is becoming a reality, the ISL and the Indian team's ranking are not exactly perfect. Plus, if out of more than 211 nations, we are the only country to have two national leagues, with special permission from FIFA to boot, well...you decide what that means. Our point being, change is happening in Indian football, maybe for the bad, maybe for the good. Nicolai Adam had worked with the Azerbaijan team, guiding them from the Under-16 to the Under-19 level, a spell which was recognized as a very successful one. Of course, when he was appointed as coach of the-then Under-15 Indian team on April 1, 2015, there were high hopes. On February 7, 2017, he was sacked. By March, when Luis Norton de Matos was selected as the replacement, it was hard to be bullish about what the team would achieve in the to-be-held-in-a-matter-of-months World Cup. After all, they had even played in a number of tournaments beforehand, with the results being: Lost all matches in the BRICS Cup Last out of 16 teams in the Granatkin Tournament in Russia One draw, and two losses in the group stage of the Under-16 AFC Championship. Back to what we started with, there seems to be hope, even after all of it seemed like going to the ground. When are we playing? All matches are to be played in Delhi, which happened courtesy AIFF requesting for it. That aside, India's other group mates are: USA (October 6), Colombia (October 9) and Ghana (October 12). None of the above are pushovers. Fingers crossed, though. What happens after the tournament? The jury is out on whether a strong showing at the Under-17 stage is any indicator of the same squad's strength at the senior level. While is there enough evidence for not taking the results seriously, there are also gems unearthed at this level. What both sides can agree on though, is the invaluable experience & buzz created around the sport. Especially for India. In 2010, there was a sudden wish of sending an Indian team to the 2018 World Cup. With this in mind, the AIFF came up with an idea: the Indian Under-19 team would play against the top clubs of the country in the national league (the I-League), while being relegation-proof. The squad would consist of only Indian players, and that too, changed after every year. An year later, the team even secured sponsorship, and became the Palian Arrows. The players did play well; though they kept changing coaches, their performances were appreciated, especially in the 2012-13 season. It also helped that the overall performances of the Indian youth teams was also on an upswing. Of course, it is Indian football. In 2013, the team was disbanded, the money being the problem. Reportedly, the players were not being paid too. But the officials were just as funny, including the voracious consumer-of-his-own-words Praful Patel. For example: In 2011, “I’ve been impressed with the residential wing, the kitchen, the swimming pool and the gymnasium and the training grounds,” Mr. Patel added . In 2013, “Moreover, the infrastructure at Pailan in the outskirts of the city is in a bad shape. We have no option but to pull the team out,” asserted an AIFF official . In the span of 2 years, the infrastructure went from impressive to bad shape. Right. Back to the present, the same Arrows idea is being proposed, with participation in future tournaments, across age groups, being laid out. Will it stumble on the altar of money again? Let's see.


A Sales Pitch for LinkedIn

What to DO and what not to DO on LinkedIn. From someone who knows.

Miss Anonymous has some advice for students. Listen up, all you placement seekers! Being a new entrant into the corporate world, I have been struggling and dealing with a lot of new contacts and people. Socializing! That is the way I meet new people, right? So...Facebook, Twitter, Instagram??  Ugh…actually no. Its LinkedIn!  Coming from school, I did have a LinkedIn profile, but never really bothered to update it.  Turns out, I should have.  Sitting for placements/internships, along with your CV, your LinkedIn profile is evaluated as well. So basically, LinkedIn is the corporate world’s Facebook.  In an induction, we were told about ‘the importance of LinkedIn’ and how it helps you fetch good opportunities and business. 80% B2B leads are generated from LinkedIn.  That raises a question: what are the DOs and DON'Ts for LinkedIn?   1. It's LinkedIn, not Facebook!  LinkedIn  Despite of both being socializing platforms (and blue in colour), there is a marked difference in how you present yourself on LinkedIn, when compared to Facebook. Don’t even think of posting your family outing pictures, or of updating statuses like 'Good Morning'.    2. Importance of a good Profile Picture.    Harvey Specter NO DOGS! NO POUTS! NO GLARES! You need to look presentable. A decent picture with sophisticated clothing, and a clear view of your face. It should represent your personality and give your contacts a good idea of how you look (purpose of a picture: p). Remember, neat and tidy wins the race.    3. Be careful of what you like and share!  Watch what you share.     Your interests on LinkedIn are reflected by what you like and share. All your contacts can see what you liked/shared, as it is displayed in their news feed. No business colleague of yours wants to know if you follow ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or not.   4. No Stalking.  Don't stalk.   Indians have great potential in stalking others. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) makes us check out our peer’s profile every now and then. But hey! Don’t do that with LinkedIn.  The site has a tab where you can see the people who viewed your profile.  So in case you want to check out your ex’s profile, don’t use LinkedIn. 5. The curious case of InMail and Connect.  InMail Most of the hotshots of the industry have opted for a premium account, with which comes a service called InMail. This enables only selective people (the ones with a premium account too), to connect with this person. Result? More business oriented connections and communications. Not everyone is able to reach out to you. So in case you wish to speak with such a person, you need to shed some dollars. More like a professional’s DND. 6. Follow the correct people.    Follow the right people The more closely you screen and select your connections, the more relevant opportunities you get for business. It’s useless connecting to your aunts and uncles on LinkedIn. So click that ‘send to all’ invite wisely. 7. Experience matters!    How To Present Your Experience Work on your LinkedIn experience closely. Only update the relevant experience and participation details. Try categorizing them as: team work, organizing, research, the likes. That way, it looks more organized and clean. Experience should also, preferably, be chronologically arranged. 8. Bio-logic    Bio Matters. The importance of adding your accurate position and skills in your bio reflects on your visibility during employer searches. People search for business and employees online. With your correct skill set and position, you appear in the top searches, thus increasing your chances of getting hired/getting business.    These are the 8 golden rules you must keep in mind while building and maintaining your LinkedIn profile.   Recruitment season has started. Be well prepared for the rat race. All The Best!


Consigli di viaggio per people traveling to Italy

Tips on traveling solo in Italy

Italy is a beautiful country full of wonderful people who go an extra step to help you. It is important to respect their traditions and culture when traveling. Here are some simple tips can help you during your travels in Italy immensely: Safety First: Whether you are in Italy or anywhere else, nothing is important than safety. I recommend keeping an eye on your luggage everywhere you go in Italy especially in the bigger cities. There are several notorious thefts in Italian towns and it is always essential to be aware. Keep a copy of your passport always with you and just to be cautious when in a crowded area. It is best to display confidence in the way you walk and talk. Learn a Few Words of Italian: Italy is a country proud of its heritage and its language. You will always hear Italian first before English. It would be wise to know basic words of the language for a seamless travel experience. Words such as "Dove" which means where, "Salve" which is a formal way of saying hello or "Grazie" which means Thank You go a long way and will make a local smile. A small dictionary is also an asset to those who travel to Italy. Respect the Culture: Respecting the culture of the country you are traveling to is very vital. Just as we in India open our shoes before heading to the temple, in Italy, churches expect us to be appropriately dressed when visiting inside. Tank tops, short skirts and cheap clothing is frowned upon. So always carry a scarf and try to wear half/full sleeves when you are visiting a church. Also, if you want to blend in the crowds in Italy, understand that it is a stylish country and gives a lot of importance to dressing well. In case you don’t want to be stared at for poor dressing, by all means give an extra thought to how you look. All these tips can help make your Italian travels hassle free and great. Hope these help!


5 Typically Indian Short Films!

Some of the most interesting short films made in India, now showing on your nearest smartphone!

Miss Anonymous returns, with short films! Bollywood has come a long way from item songs and senseless cinema. Where on one side, Indian films are being appreciated globally, short feature films (or just short films) are not far behind either. The talent pool within the county is endless, and a good number of their examples can be seen and appreciated on YouTube, where you can find a huge collection of good-quality short films for free!  Here is a list of 5 short films which capture a wide range of emotions, have brilliant acting, and most of all, intrigue us with their stories.  So…sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy! 1. JAI MATA DI  A production presented by Terribly Tiny Tales, this short film features our very own Supriya Pilgaonkar! Released on the special occasion of Mother’s Day, the film is set in Mumbai and shows a couple searching for a home in the most crowded city in the world. Being an unmarried couple, no one is ready to rent them out a place. Tired with the hypocrisy, they call their mother, who ensures the landlord and helps them find an apartment. The question is, how does the couple have the same mother? Visit the link below to find out! Watch HERE Jai Mata Di   2. KHAMOSHIYAN  Khamoshiyan-presented by Royal Stag Large Short Films-is a film for dog lovers! The film has no dialogues but a lot of emotions, as it shows the loyalty and love of a dog for his master! Beautiful cinematography and acting bring alive the story of how a dog saves the life of his master by bringing her back from suicide; however, the act is misinterpreted and the dog is shot by the girl’s neighbours.  Follow the link to see what happens next.  Watch HERE Khamoshiyan   3. ABNORMAL  A modern take on LGBT issues, the film shows a young girl who is exploring her sexuality; her best friend Dev is in love with her, but she doesn’t feel the same way. She learns that instead, she likes Dev’s sister. Trusting her best friend, she reveals the same to her, who in turn leaks it out in the school.  At this point, the girl starts believing that she is ABNORMAL, and secludes herself. However, she comes out of this enforced seclusion with the help of someone. Who was that? Check out the link below to find out. Watch HERE Abnormal   4. PEANUT BUTTER  Peanut Butter is a short film produced by Playground Digital Cinema and directed by Manu Chobe. It involves Priya Mathur (Gauhar Khan), finding herself at a crucial phase in her life where she deals with the dilemma of choosing between her sudden pregnancy and her career.  Priya, a career oriented woman, gets pregnant with her boyfriend, but wants to go for an abortion. As she leaves her home, she meets a teenage stranger, Rohan, who surprisingly knows everything about her. He makes her understand the consequences of aborting her child and thus, completely changes her perception. A beautiful day spent together gives her the courage and hope to be a single mother and raise her kid. At the end, Priya finds out who Rohan really is and then, is even more determined to have a kid. Click the below to find out who Rohan actually is. Watch HERE Peanut Butter   5. CHUTNEY  This Chutney is a bit sweet and a lot spicy! Presented by Royal Stag Barrel, this short film features Tisca Chopra (Rani) in a never seen before avatar! Set in Model Town, the story begins with Sangeeta, who is Rani’s neighbour, visiting her to get the recipe of Rani’s famous Chutney. Meanwhile, Rani herself is aware about the fact that Sangeeta is going around with Rani’s husband. Making conversation, Rani narrates an incident to Sangeeta which revolves around Bhola who is a loyal and trustworthy cook hired by Virji (Rani’s husband). Suddenly, their idle talk takes an unconventional turn, leaving Sangeeta flabbergasted. Follow the link below to find out what Rani told Sangeeta, and how Bhola found himself buried in the ground! Watch HERE Chutney      


The Forgotten Women Relay Team

Can a nation forget an entire gold-winning relay team? Apparently, yes.

Mary D'Souza (Image from Sportskeeda.com) Amidst all the celebrations on the eve of India turning 70, all of us were given a refresher on our bright and accomplished history in pretty much everything. Sports was also not spared, as grainy photos and reams of text told us about all our accomplishments. Then, I discovered the story of Stephanie D'Souza and her relay team. Milkha Singh won the gold in 100 metres and 200 metres in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games; Farhan Akhtar and you know what happened next. What you don't know is that at the same place, another member of team India, Stephanie D'Souza, won silver in the women's 200m. Wikipedia says she held the national records in 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Now, let me tell you something else. Stephanie D'Souza was ALSO part of the Indian hockey team in one of the first hockey tournaments for women-the 1953 International Federation of Women's Hockey Association Tournament in Folkestone, England-and also captained the side in 1961. An Olympian (she participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) who played for India in two sports, and the whole wide net does not have a single picture of her. Now, let's flashback to the Asian Games before this one; the 1954 Manila Asian Games saw India's 100m relay team take gold. The women's team, that is. The team members were Stephanie D'Souza, Mary D'Souza, Violet Peters and Christine Brown.  Among the four, the latter two don't even have Wikipedia profiles; Mary D'Souza, incidentally, is also the first women Olympian from our country (1952 Helsinki), and was ALSO a part of the track team and the hockey team. Of her achievements: Mary’s most remarkable victory came at the inaugural Asian Games held in New Delhi where she became the first double medal winning athlete from India. She bagged a silver in 4x100m relay and bronze in 200m Mary went on to hold the national record for 100m, 200m and 800m hurdles until 1957. (includes her interview as well, and the above image) After years of being ignored by the officials and the ministers, in 2013, she was awarded the Dhyan Chand Award, an award presented to a sportsperson for her/his lifetime achievements. The Goa state government, meanwhile, is yet to recognize or reward her. Violet Peters To put the above into perspective, Lavy Pinto-the first Indian to win an 100 metres gold in the first Asiad in 1951-his winning moment, as well as his face itself can be found by just searching for his name. Lavy Pinto (Image From Livemint) We cannot change the records of the past. Yes, winners in women's sports used to find less of the limelight than their male counterparts. But we can at least take the effort of finding more about these forgotten people. We Indians deserve to know them. Every girl who dreams of running, deserves to know them. Let's remember them again.  


Game of Thrones is Live In Nagaland!

Zeliang replaced Rio. But Liezietsu replaced Zeliang. Now Zeliang is back, with the help of...Rio?

Welcome to Kohima. Prepare to lose your mind. (By Jackpluto (Own work) via Wikimedia) CommonsYou won't believe what is happening in Nagaland. Once upon a time, in a beautiful land called Nagaland, there was a ruler (CM) called Neiphiu Rio. After winning the mandate of the common people 3 times in a row, he wished to make his voice heard across the country, and thus fought for (and won) the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state. Into the empty seat of the ruler, came T R Zeliang. For 2 years, he ruled. Then, one day, the people of Nagaland rose against him (actually, some people were against the municipal elections being held, because it had reservations for women, while some were allegedly instigated), and he became...not-a-ruler. For the third time in 3 years, another ruler came. This time, the ruler was Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was on the verge of stepping away from politics, but was brought back. A period of peace and quiet beckoned.Alas. It was not to be. Mr. Zeliang wished to take back his seat, and become the ruler again. Dr. Liezietsu refused. There were elements of a perfect mystery: unchecked rumor-mongering, people disappearing inside forests, and press conferences. But no. There was even more to come. If you have been reading, the last thing we told you was about the Governor asking Mr. Liezietsu to prove his majority on or before July 15. The Chief Minister went to the High Court (the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court), and got a stay order on the Governor's order till July 17. On July 18. the Court dismissed both, the CM's petition as well as its order, and left it to the Governor to decide. Decide he did, and fast: within hours, the Governor called an emergency special session, which was to held the next day, on July 19 at 9:30 am. Also, on the 18th: Mr Zeliang received support from the BJP, which partners the Naga People's Front in the government. Four BJP legislators and Nagaland BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu went with letters of support to the governor. Also, on the 18th, the NPF decided to sever ties with the BJP. On the eve of the trust vote, Mr. Liezietsu, and his supporters did not turn up. Again, just as quickly, the Governor swore in Mr. Zeliang as the Chief Minister, at 3 pm of the same day, asking him to prove his majority by July 22. That majority was proved on July 21; out of the 59 legislators from the strength of 60 (Dr. Liezietsu's son had vacated his seat for his father to contest), 47 voted for Mr. Zeliang (36 from the NPF, 4 from the BJP, and 7 Independents), and 11 for Dr. Liezietsu ( 10 from the NPF and 1 Independent). One day before this, on the 20th, in an interview: Liezietsu said, “A whip has been issued to all NPF legislators in the Assembly to vote against the motion moved by Zeliang” Some hours ago, two things happened: Mr. Zeliang appointed another minister to his cabinet, taking the total to 11 (9 from the NPF , and 2 from the BJP). The second thing was NPF declaring that it will go to the High Court, asking for disqualification of all the 36 rebel NPF MLAs. As of today, of these 36, the NPF has suspended 11 and expelled 20. And, no, we have not forgotten Mr. Rio either. When Mr. Zeliang's cabinet was ready, then: Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio was also present at the swearing-in ceremony. There also seems to be some confusion: there is a party called the 'NPF Legislature Party' which supports Mr. Zeliang, but according to the Mint article we cited earlier, isn't a registered party. Then there is the question of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland; in the Mint article, the same NPF MLA who spoke about going to court against the rebel MLAs, also calls the BJP as an 'alliance partner'. But here, the NPF had broken ties with the BJP. So, what is happening? One school of thought links the Governor (a former BJP secretary) with helping to bring the BJP in control of the state. While another says that the BJP was a player in this, not the game-master. Mr. Liezietsu puts the blame on the Governor. However, we do have one question now to replace the one that is no longer valid. So, our questions for Nagaland are: Why doesn't Nagaland have its own Governor? Since January, Mr. P B Acharya has occupied the office of  the Governor, for both Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Six months later, why is it still the same? There have been no muncipal elections conducted in Nagaland since 2004. How will the cities and towns develop? If the above people are fighting so hard to stay in power, what is the reason? Is it to fight against ‘nepotism’? We all know better. So, a better question: just how much money and power is there in the CM’s chair? How much corruption? And if you haven’t noticed, women in Nagaland are not exactly on par with men. Or have not occupied even one seat in the Assembly, since its formation in 1964 till 2017. The only state in India to have that record. We will be waiting for answers. Or Godot. Same thing now. UPDATE: There are apparently two factions of the NPF now: the NPF Central (under Dr. Liezietsu), and the NPF Legislature Party (under Chief Minister Zeliang). Apparently, Mr. Neiphiu Rio was appointed ‘interim president’ of the NPF in a banquet hall. Of course, as a result, he has gotten himself suspended by the NPF again. Almost an exact year ago, he had been suspended, with the suspension revoked on July 13 of this year. So…bye, again!



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The Disappearing Rudrasagar Lake

The Neermahal Palace on the Rudrasagar Lake (By Chandrakant Sarkar via Wikipedia.com) Courtesy a fun election campaign, followed by some people gently pushing over certain statues, Tripura is known to many these days. Away from it all though, away from the poll promises, away from the rallies, and away from the post-election irrelevance, there are some issues in the state which could actually use some attention. The disappearing Rudrasagar Lake, for one. The King & His Palace Before its accession to India, Tripura was ruled as a kingdom. The last king of this state (the one who stepped down, and let his kingdom peacefully become a part of India), Maharaja Bir Bikram, was involved in many projects, and has even been said to be responsible for the start of modern infrastructure in the state. Among one of this was the Neermahal Palace, located in the waters of the Rudrasagar Lake, built in 1930. A palace on the waters of a lake. Though the official Tripura tourism site says the Maharaja built “his summer residence being inspired by Mughal style of architecture”, the more obvious inspirations seem to be Udaipur’s Jag Niwas (built in the late 18th century) & Jaipur’s Jal Mahal (also from the same time period). Anyways… The palace has been embroiled in an ownership dispute, with both the former royal family & the state claiming rights over it. Finally, in 2015, ownership of the palace shifted to the erstwhile royal family - the irony being that in 2013, the state government had announced its plans to restore both the palace & lake. As early as 2007, Down To Earth had called for urgent action to restore the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, citing threats from: Heavy siltation Pollution by brick kilns in the vicinity Massive population growth around the lake Use of large amounts of lake water for agriculture As of 2018, we are still waiting for a change. 1995   Rudrasagar Lake (1995) Satellite: Landsat 5 Date: 21 Jan 1995 Image Identifier: LT51370441995021ISP00 This is the lake, with the band combination selected as NDWI. Please note: this band has been reported to OVERESTIMATE the extent of water bodies. Why did we choose this over the band we took for Kodikal? There seemed to be some problem with the Index Stack band in this area. In any case, all images are purely for demonstrative purposes.   2011   Rudrasagar Lake (2011) Satellite: Landsat 5. Date: 26 Jan 2011 Image Identifier: LT51360442011026BKT00 16 years later, the lake seems to have shrunken badly. The same satellite, and the same combination.   2013   Rudrasagr Lake (2013) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 17 Dec 2013 Image Identifier:LC81360442013351LGN00 The Landsat 5 went out of service in June 2013. From this image from another satellite, we see that the lake is still shrinking, especially in the north. Also note: the government announced that it would start restoration in 2013.   2018   Rudrasagar Lake (29 Jan 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 29 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: LC08_L1TP_136044_20180129_20180207_01_T1 Still shrinking. Restoration either didn’t happen or did not work. Just to be sure, let’s check with another satellite?   Rudrasagar Lake (22 Jan 2018) Satellite: Sentinel 2 Date: 22 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: S2B_tile_20180122_46QCM_0 Doesn't completely match with the image above, though they are  separated by a duration of 7 days. One last look?   Rudrasagar Lake (Feb 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 21 Feb 2018 Oh.   Incidentally, the lake is also recognized as a Ramsar wetland site, under the Ramsar Convention; it is an international recognition, which is a pretty much big deal. Let's hope someone saves the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, before its too late. All images sourced from the open-access online tool EOS Landviewer. You can also look at the similar story of an unnamed stream in Kodikal, Karnataka.


How Kodikal Lost A Stream & Gained A Drain

Heading south to Mangalore, the last village you see before entering the city is Kodikal. It may even be wrong to call it a village now; apartment blocks, a brand new engineering college, and constant construction activity have made it more urban than rural. You can almost watch it transform into one of the much-wanted suburbs of the main city, like the way it happened in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore. Sadly, it is copying even the worse trends too. The Stream The Gurupura river flows down to Mangalore from the north, meeting the Netravati just before they empty out into the Arabian Sea. In its final stretch, as the Gurupura enters Mangalore, it meets a roughly 3 km long unnamed stream, in the vicinity of Kodikal. There is nothing special about the steam; it is one of the many streams draining out into the Gurupura river over its more than 40 km long stretch (after the confluence near). It is however, the stream that we are going to talk about. This stream that flows along the northern end of Kodikal, is itself formed by two sources, one from the north and the other from the east, as you can see below. Kodikal on Map So what’s the problem? It is disappearing. The Shrinking The EOS Landviewer (https://eos.com/landviewer/) is an online resource; just make an account on it, and you can access satellite images from as far back as 1984. We looked for Kodikal on the map, and pulled up an image from 1990. Then we applied the band combination of ‘Index Stack’; band combinations are used for highlighting specific features or phenomena of the landscape. Think of it like a image filter for a map. Why this specific filter/band combination then? This is the Index Stack Description (from the website) ‘vegetation displays here as green, water as purple, snow/ice as magneta, and soil, rocks, and barren land as blue. Clouds also appear as a mixture of purple & magneta, so in this case the indices alone are not sufficient for differentiating clouds from water and snow/ice.’ This is on 17 December 1990: Kodikal (17 December 1990) The satellite used here is Landsat 5 (belongs to the US; the initials are LT5). This is on 5 January 1992; pink is water, so notice the stream, and also keep an eye on the one to the north. Kodikal (5 January 1992) Now look at this from 11 January 2015. Kodikal (11 January 2015) The northern end of the stream is gone, as is the tributary in the north. Keep in mind: this is the same zoom level (300 m), the same weather conditions (December, January). The satellite however is different. So let’s reconfirm. This is 22 January 2018, from a different satellite. Kodikal (22 January 2018) The higher level of detail shows that the stream is highly blocked up in the north (as any local can guarantee, garbage is also thrown in the stream). But the above still stands; the tributary has disappeared, and the stream has shrunk. But why did this happen? The Present Google Earth combined a number of satellite images, the world over, to prepare Google Timelapse. This is the link. Go here, search Kodikal and zoom to the max. As you can see, this is a record of satellite images from 1984 to 2016, just like the ones we use in our GPS. Now, watch it on slow speed, and take a look at the north end of the stream. From 1999 to 2002, the upper part of the stream is clearly visible. In 2000, the first clearing of land, as the land becomes brown, happens on the north bank. On the southern bank, the clearing begins in 2007, expands in 2008, and becomes a bit bigger in 2015. Till 2010, part of the stream is still visible; it disappears in 2011. You can see the shrinking at the turn in 2013. What happened here? The AJ College happened here, among other things. The Problem As everyone in Kodikal knows, as early as 15 years ago, the place where the college stood was filled with water. Farming was the main occupation here, so the place was either that or marshland. My mother, who grew up here, says that in monsoon the entire area would flood up, as far away as 300m away from the stream, where the Nagabrahma Chawadi temple stands. It was only in the last 15 years, that the entire area was filled up. In fact, when the college construction began, trucks and trucks filled with sand had to choke up the naturally wet land. Some people joked that they were building a beach. It is about time we stop laughing now. This is present day Kodikal. Present Day Kodikal (Google Maps) If an area floods when it is just open fields, what happens when you put brick and sand and concrete over the fields? Where does the water go? Many houses here still depend on the ground water through wells for drinking water; how is the water supposed to seep down into the soil now? With the college, and the hostels, and still some open land waiting for buyers, where does all their water demand come from? The Future Mangalore is on its way to becoming a ‘smart city’ courtesy the Central Government’s pan-India plan. But what is the meaning of it becoming a smart city? More Ideal parlors, better roads, higher land prices? Or does it involve something more? Delhi is reeling under some of the worst air pollution in the world; the entire developing belt of North India is at threat from its own air. Bangalore has almost finished off its own water. Mumbai keeps drowning annually. Oh, and NASA predicted that the top two cities at risk from rising sea levels include Mumbai & Mangalore, with both the cities seeing levels rise by as much as 15 cms from the present height by the next 100 years. If Mangalore cannot learn from these cities/prepare for these eventualities, then what is the point of it being a city? If it cannot save its own stream, its own water, how will it protect its people?


Is It Getting Better To Be Gay In India?

The laws aren't there, neither are people's mindsets. So, why am I optimistic about the G in LGBT? Or is it just better to be gay in India?

Better Being Gay In India? (Photo by Gustavo Gouvêa on Unsplash) So much happening this year, and it’s just 13 days into the new year; which means you won’t be surprised if I tell you that it is getting better to be gay in India. Wait. WHAT? Sure, the recent SC statement about a relook into its judgment on Section 377 is a welcome decision. But on another, a more personal level, I have reason to believe the above statement. Why? One of the things I had been doing in the past months was work at a startup/marketing agency/application development venture. My task, as the new intern, was to prepare content for a brand-new video channel. The topic? Why, any informative & interesting topic would do! As you can imagine, that was a massive canvas to begin with. Everyone contributed their best-of lists, in-controversy issues, the likes. The aim was to make a video which would organically get views and viewers; since no one had any idea on how that would happen, every topic was taken and made a video on. It was like throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. Subsequently, we fell on hard times; a new YouTube channel was obviously going to struggle getting viewers, but a channel which had no idea on what it specialized in?  40 videos later, as even our best & most research-demanding videos failed to break the triple digit mark, everyone lost hope of the channel project amounting to anything. End of Act 1. A couple of months later, we found something weird. Somehow, one of our videos had started pulling in viewers, that too not just from India, even Pakistan & Saudi Arabia. It had been picking up pace, from 100 to 200 to 500.. It was about famous Indian personalities who were openly gay.     Which was funny, because an earlier video we had made on famous Indian transgenders failed to have any sort of meaningful relationship with the views counter. Now, we just watched its counterpart rise. The real improvement was yet to come though. As it became the 1st video from our channel to cross the 1k mark, a week after this miraculous rise (which was relayed across our office), a guy (the youngest one in our office) mixed up gay with transgender. The others made fun of him, and told him what was the difference between the two terms. Alright, maybe they did not use the best available terms, but they did make the difference clear. Maybe they still will be unable to look at an openly queer person without any bias. But they do know that sexual orientation has no impact on talent, or recognition or (the most important for a normal Indian) monetary success. On a somber note, another thing which justifies why its better to be gay in India was the lack of visibility & information on Indian lesbians and both male/female bisexual individuals, something we looked for when looking for lesbian or bisexual Indians. In essence, there were no best-of or top-5 lists of lesbian Indians. They apparently never left the closet. On The Other Side Of The Rainbow To sum up, if any individual from the LGBT community is reading this, to you I have just one appeal. Step up & talk. Why? In the past year, as I had been looking for internships, mostly unsuccessfully, one place where I managed to work was at Queer Support India. Though I went there with the best of intentions, the problem faced there was unique; after a certain point, you can keep writing for the LGBT audience only if you are in the shoes of (or familiar with) the actual queer community. As a straight guy (who by accidents of both chance and choice had been unable to fraternize with the LGBT community), I ran out of stories to tell, or experiences to share. Because they aren’t mine, they are yours to share & tell. That’s like the difference between a cheerleader (me) and the players (you). Eventually, you are the one who has to go out to play. Here’s to a more hopeful 2018!  


India’s Chakma & Hajong Refugees

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that's not much of a change from the last 50 years.

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that is not much of a change from the past 50 years. It is to the Northeast's credit that this mind-boggling mosaic of different people and different cultures has remained together; of course, the stitching done in keeping all these pieces together has occassionaly been very messy. But as part of the inherently diverse quilt called India, they make our country much more beautiful. It is only proper then that India itself should be held guilty for refusing to give prominence (at least in the mainstream news) to this part of the country. So, How Did The Chakma and Hajong Communities Become News-Worthy?   The Kaptai Dam (By Govt. Official - Kaptai Power Plant Archive, CC BY 2.5) It was only in the month of September 2017, in the midst of all the fire and fury over the Rohingya refugees, that the Centre announced its decision to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. This decision, mysteriously, came almost 2 years after the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to do the above 'within 3 months'. But, wait: who are they? Originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, the Chakmas (majority Buddhists) and Hajongs (majority Hindus) have been documented to face two major threats in the 1960s. One, the religious persecution they faced in the Muslim-majority then-East Pakistan, and two, the submerging of their land by the construction of the Kaptai Dam. Thus, beginning in the 1960s, they left for India. India, as the India Express goes on to summarize, gave them land, shelter, followed by a declaration of granting citizenship. Back in 1972, you may note. What is the big deal now then? Arunachal Protests   The Hajong People (By Diarchy Hajong- under CC 4.0 - via Wikipedia) Arunachal Pradesh is making a demand which may sound strange; make the refugees and their children the citizens of India, but do not allow them the pre-requisites for being a full-fledged Arunachal resident. Whoa. If you visit Arunachal today, you will be asked for an Inner Line Permit, a documentation required for every Indian who is not from Arunachal to enter the state. In that respect, this is a quote from an unnamed minister, said on September 13. "The Chakma and Hajong refugees will not be entitled to the rights enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, including land ownership. But they might be given inner line permits required for 'foreigners' in the state to travel and work," Predictably, the refugees have protested. An open letter addressed to our Home Minister had this to say: the Chakmas and Hajongs lost their value and identity as citizens and were stripped of all rights  by the Arunachal government one by one –  employment banned in 1980, trade licenses revoked, issuance of ration card stopped in 1991 and order of appointment of the post of Gaon Burah or to the Panchayat revoked in 1994, on the mere suspicion that we were foreigners or refugees But the opposition from the natives has been so vociferous that the state's very own Kiran Rijiju-who declared on September 13 that 'Supreme Court order has to be honoured'-said on September 19 that the Centre would appeal the earlier order. Two years later, you may note. Apart from the protests and counter-protests, the situation has not improved even now; October witnessed protests over Chakma applicants sitting for the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission exam. Tribe Against Tribe? The truth is, this is just one of the various faultlines in the state, and in the Northeast. In Arunachal, the state government has decided to adopt a Central rehabilitation policy for Tibetan refugees, but this has also faced opposition from the state's residents. Meanwhile in Mizoram, Chakmas have been protesting against discrimination faced by them in the state. In response, some have pointed out the Chakma Autonomous District Council in the state, telling them to be grateful. We have already talked about the fights between the Meiteis and the Nagas and the Kukis in Manipur, cheered on by political leaders, and about how Nagaland has not held elections for city corporations since 2004, just because it does not want to give women representation. The Lack Of Jobs   Chakma (By TawsifSalam-under CC 3.0-via Wkipedia.com) The people who drafted our Constitution cannot be praised enough; these extremely foresighted representatives provided protection where they felt it necessary. Note the genius of terming Article 370 as a Temporary Provision, but not giving the final date. The Northeastern states are also protected by their own laws, be it regarding visitors under the Inner Line Permit or security under the Scheduled Tribes status. The problem is that, we have not been talking about the future of these for a long time. Like reservation, we have allowed a system - set up to help the people - to become something very different from what it was originally. It has been close to 70 years since some of India's best sat down and began the ardous task of making one Constitution for the country. In regard to the Northeast, isn't it about time that there is at least an dialogue with all the stakeholders? Understand what the people there want from the government, and how the government can help them? Fix some new goalposts, and update the rights as per the times? Economically, the Northeast is not really in the pink of health either. Even the achievements are tinged with the whiff of the state's failures. Neighbouring Manipur sent 8 footballers to the Under-17 Indian World Cup squad, out of a total of 21 players. How so many? Renedy Singh, a local and a former India captain, explains: "Getting a government job is a far cry for the common people but they have a second option to get jobs either in government or private sectors through excellence in sports." For Arunachal Pradesh, unemployment is a genuine issue. An editorial by retired Indian Air Force Group Captain Mohonto Panging, says the same. Even the Arunachal Pradesh Governor has also talked about the same. So when we come to government data, the inferences are troubling. The NSSO conducts a five-year survey, on data including the rate of unemployment. As per the 2011-12 report (which is the most recent), the unemployment rate has been rising since 2004 in both rural and urban areas of Arunachal. In fact, if we check for urban areas, the only states with higher unemployment rates than Arunachal are Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram. Apart from better-off Meghalaya (2.8) & Sikkim (2.3), the entire Northeast is here. Let's hope someone wakes up before it is too late for the Northeast.  


About GM Crops

What are GM crops? And why is Arnab not talking about it?

Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash (College students today, are arguably best poised to innovate and bring a change. Courtesy a simple net connection, a helping of curiosity and a large amount of zeal, they can keep pace with all the recent advancements while taking their first steps in their respective fields. So, in this assuredly irregular part of Snaptimes, we will help you know about Biotechnology, through the printing press of a college periodical, the Ribose Times. So, shall we?) It is a mark of our country's progress that in present times, there is no dearth of commentaries on shayaris, or about a bombing in Russia, or even on how to travel safely in Italy. We can afford to do this, taking for granted the food that turns up on our table. A phenomenon which is rather mystifying, for while we all aren't looking, the people whom we voted for are on the verge of changing the very nature of the food we eat. First, some background. GM crops are agricultural plants where the DNA is modified through genetic engineering. The objective is to introduce new characteristic(s) to the plant species, ones which do not occur naturally. They have their benefits and their drawbacks, and are already here. In fact, they may even be in your food! According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a lobby for biotech crops, cottonseed oil makes up 13.7 per cent of edible oil in India. But about 90 per cent of the cotton grown in the country is genetically modified Bt cotton. So can we then, let the consumer choose? If we tell them, that this is the GM crop-derived one, and this is the organic crop-derived one, now you choose, will that be practical? That, is the debate on GMO labelling. Is it good, or is it even practical? GMO labelling will ease the concerns of consumers by letting them know where their food really comes from. This transparency can only help restore confidence of the consumers in the food industry. BUT It would require large scale separation of food products. The food distribution system is not equipped to handle two different categories of food, which have to be handled and supplied separately. Meanwhile, the biggest producer of GM crops, Monsanto, went ahead and merged with Bayer, the chemicals giant. Basically, this created a behemoth which will produce both GM crops AND the pesticides for these crops. That's not all: People are worried that less competition will shrink up innovation because of which no new and improved crops would be introduced into the market. Many are even fretting that these giants will now hold power to manipulate the government for their own profit ignoring the requirements of the farmers. In India, the stakeholders believe that these mergers will narrow down choices for farmers. Bayer and Monsanto will become the major players in the seed sector and will contribute their share in maize, cotton, paddy, vegetables and agrochemicals. What now? Our government is thinking about allowing growth of GM mustard, something which would officially make us all consumers of GM foods. But away from how much of it sounds right or wrong, how many of us know the actual science behind it? How many studies done on its consumption - done by a neutral third party - are accessible? And can we not, at the least, have a say in what we eat?


Mr. Modi, What Do You Think About The Rohingyas?

You know those Rohingyas dying near our borders? By landmines planted by their own country's army? What do you think, Mr. PM?

Photo by Danny Postma on Unsplash Since 2015, a word has popped up again and again. In India, among the many headlines in the newspaper, and the bold announcements in the channel tickers, it appeared; occupying the  paradox of being a distant reality, and still a very present one. But all of us, had to face that word, again and again. Refugee. What the world also realized was that these people were not one uniform block; no, they were people from Syria, from Afghanistan, from Ukraine, from Nigeria. If there was something they shared, it was the fate of having to leave their own people and land behind. Of course, ensconced in our own little pocket universes, we hardly have time to understand the little details present in our very own lives, let alone people in far-off Europe. Because, if you just look up, you will understand that these details owe their existence to people who came from beyond our borders. The 80,000 Tibetans who fled from the Chinese in 1959, brought momos with them. The Zoroastrians from Iran gave India JRD Tata, and the eponymous corporate behemoth. The more than 10,000 Afghans who fled from the war there, are now self-sufficient enough that they can give a taste of their cuisine through restaurants and fair stalls. Close to 2 crore Bangladeshi immigrants and 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils also live in our country, not liked but tolerated (in the case of the Tamils: "even the third generation after being educated are working as daily wage labourers"). So, what have the 40, 000 Rohingyas done that they stand to get deported? Let's assume-dispassionately, if you may-that this is just some routine policy decision. That the Cabinet sat and said 'if we look at this from the legal perspective...', and decided to announce deporting them. Then, you see this.   A roadside billboard in Jammu bears a warning to refugees from a Hindu nationalist group. Rohingya people, of whom there are roughly 5,500 in the north Indian city, are urged to leave. Photograph: Mir Imran (Above image & caption taken from The Guardian) (A passing observation: how shaky is your faith if the presence of some recent migrants can threaten its existence?) Then, you-the normal Indian-realize that there is an amendment being proposed to the Citizenship Act. As of now, the Citizenship Act 1955 denies citizenship to all illegal migrants; the 2016 Amendment proposes allowing Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan to become citizens after living in India for 6 years. Spot the odd religion out.   For years, we tut-tutted at the West for failing to understand that all Muslims weren't terrorists. Now? Now, our Home Ministry thinks it fit to say to issue an advisory , saying:   illegal migrants are more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organizations. Infiltration from Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory specially in the recent years besides being burden on the limited resources of the country...   And if there's any confusion that who the notice is intended for, as the government is rumored to say that it applies to all illegal migrants, banish those doubts.   Detection & deportation of such illegal migrants from Rakhine state, also known as Rohingyas, is a continuous process.   Apparently, Hindu migrants just consume air and thrive. What is more galling is our government calling this 'infiltration'. The UN has acknowledged the risk of ethnic cleansing. An authoritative news agency, Reuters, calls it an exodus. Calls have been made for taking back the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But India...   By English: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Flickr) , via Wikimedia Commons  Did the Rohingyas just start migrating this year? In 2009, the Coast Guard discovered 98 refugees, from an original number of more than 300, stranded on a boat near the Andamans. They were living in camps in Bangladesh, and had turned towards Thailand in the hope of a better future. Instead, Thai soldiers themselves sent these boats and refugees back. Police found 90 Rohingya refugees, starved and dehydrated in one of the islands of Andaman & Nicobar, in February 2011. In May 2012, the Indian government issued 3-year visas to the refugees. This too, came after sustained protests in the capital. Sounding eerily similar to what would happen in some years in the Mediterranean, two boats, carrying 135 and 110 Rohingya passengers, sank in the span of two weeks in November 2012. In 2013, Antonio Guterres, the then-UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) said: It is important that the problems of citizenship are solved (referring to Myanmar) and the countries of the region follow the example of India that has opened its borders to the Rohingyas and granted them the same status as it has to the other refugees. (Note: Antonio Guterres is the present Secretary-General of the UN. He is also the one who commented about the risk of ethnic cleansing above.) What are they fleeing from, you ask. I can tell you about the requirement for the state's approval for your marriage if you're a Rohingya Muslim. About the denial of citizenship to them. About how back in 2009, the residents there refused to acknowledge the existence of the Rohingyas to a journalist. Or about the country's first Census in 2014, which refused to include the Rohingyas. But it would be better if you watch the below video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqMSfT9eI6o The above video is from 2014. 3 years ago, and this was their condition. In fact, set aside their condition. Just listen to what the Buddhist monks are saying; what they only prove is that the quality of being pig-headed and supporting violence truly transcends the barriers of religion. The world's media is looking at Myanmar now, and the country is going to be the proverbial deer in the front of their cameras. Landmines are being placed near the border, entire villages are being set on fire, and their biggest leader refuses to acknowledge this crisis and instead terms it as fake news. As the wannabe elder brother, what indeed does India have to say for itself? What does the leader of this democracy have to say?


Under-17, but Above Expectations?

India's Under-17 team is ready to play. But what can we realistically expect from them and what happens in their future?

“It was deserving, India are a team who will compete and make their country proud, you can tell there is a lot of work from Luis and what he has achieved with their players,” Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Claudio Bravo (Manchester City) are some of the players in the Chile senior squad. And their Under-17 coach is impressed with our players, after a 1-1 draw against the Chile Under-17 squad. Did the sun just wink at us from behind the clouds? Some of the Under-17 players   Football in India, is going through a period of flux. While the ideal dream of having an amazing national team and a television-friendly national league is becoming a reality, the ISL and the Indian team's ranking are not exactly perfect. Plus, if out of more than 211 nations, we are the only country to have two national leagues, with special permission from FIFA to boot, well...you decide what that means. Our point being, change is happening in Indian football, maybe for the bad, maybe for the good. Nicolai Adam had worked with the Azerbaijan team, guiding them from the Under-16 to the Under-19 level, a spell which was recognized as a very successful one. Of course, when he was appointed as coach of the-then Under-15 Indian team on April 1, 2015, there were high hopes. On February 7, 2017, he was sacked. By March, when Luis Norton de Matos was selected as the replacement, it was hard to be bullish about what the team would achieve in the to-be-held-in-a-matter-of-months World Cup. After all, they had even played in a number of tournaments beforehand, with the results being: Lost all matches in the BRICS Cup Last out of 16 teams in the Granatkin Tournament in Russia One draw, and two losses in the group stage of the Under-16 AFC Championship. Back to what we started with, there seems to be hope, even after all of it seemed like going to the ground. When are we playing? All matches are to be played in Delhi, which happened courtesy AIFF requesting for it. That aside, India's other group mates are: USA (October 6), Colombia (October 9) and Ghana (October 12). None of the above are pushovers. Fingers crossed, though. What happens after the tournament? The jury is out on whether a strong showing at the Under-17 stage is any indicator of the same squad's strength at the senior level. While is there enough evidence for not taking the results seriously, there are also gems unearthed at this level. What both sides can agree on though, is the invaluable experience & buzz created around the sport. Especially for India. In 2010, there was a sudden wish of sending an Indian team to the 2018 World Cup. With this in mind, the AIFF came up with an idea: the Indian Under-19 team would play against the top clubs of the country in the national league (the I-League), while being relegation-proof. The squad would consist of only Indian players, and that too, changed after every year. An year later, the team even secured sponsorship, and became the Palian Arrows. The players did play well; though they kept changing coaches, their performances were appreciated, especially in the 2012-13 season. It also helped that the overall performances of the Indian youth teams was also on an upswing. Of course, it is Indian football. In 2013, the team was disbanded, the money being the problem. Reportedly, the players were not being paid too. But the officials were just as funny, including the voracious consumer-of-his-own-words Praful Patel. For example: In 2011, “I’ve been impressed with the residential wing, the kitchen, the swimming pool and the gymnasium and the training grounds,” Mr. Patel added . In 2013, “Moreover, the infrastructure at Pailan in the outskirts of the city is in a bad shape. We have no option but to pull the team out,” asserted an AIFF official . In the span of 2 years, the infrastructure went from impressive to bad shape. Right. Back to the present, the same Arrows idea is being proposed, with participation in future tournaments, across age groups, being laid out. Will it stumble on the altar of money again? Let's see.


A Sales Pitch for LinkedIn

What to DO and what not to DO on LinkedIn. From someone who knows.

Miss Anonymous has some advice for students. Listen up, all you placement seekers! Being a new entrant into the corporate world, I have been struggling and dealing with a lot of new contacts and people. Socializing! That is the way I meet new people, right? So...Facebook, Twitter, Instagram??  Ugh…actually no. Its LinkedIn!  Coming from school, I did have a LinkedIn profile, but never really bothered to update it.  Turns out, I should have.  Sitting for placements/internships, along with your CV, your LinkedIn profile is evaluated as well. So basically, LinkedIn is the corporate world’s Facebook.  In an induction, we were told about ‘the importance of LinkedIn’ and how it helps you fetch good opportunities and business. 80% B2B leads are generated from LinkedIn.  That raises a question: what are the DOs and DON'Ts for LinkedIn?   1. It's LinkedIn, not Facebook!  LinkedIn  Despite of both being socializing platforms (and blue in colour), there is a marked difference in how you present yourself on LinkedIn, when compared to Facebook. Don’t even think of posting your family outing pictures, or of updating statuses like 'Good Morning'.    2. Importance of a good Profile Picture.    Harvey Specter NO DOGS! NO POUTS! NO GLARES! You need to look presentable. A decent picture with sophisticated clothing, and a clear view of your face. It should represent your personality and give your contacts a good idea of how you look (purpose of a picture: p). Remember, neat and tidy wins the race.    3. Be careful of what you like and share!  Watch what you share.     Your interests on LinkedIn are reflected by what you like and share. All your contacts can see what you liked/shared, as it is displayed in their news feed. No business colleague of yours wants to know if you follow ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or not.   4. No Stalking.  Don't stalk.   Indians have great potential in stalking others. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) makes us check out our peer’s profile every now and then. But hey! Don’t do that with LinkedIn.  The site has a tab where you can see the people who viewed your profile.  So in case you want to check out your ex’s profile, don’t use LinkedIn. 5. The curious case of InMail and Connect.  InMail Most of the hotshots of the industry have opted for a premium account, with which comes a service called InMail. This enables only selective people (the ones with a premium account too), to connect with this person. Result? More business oriented connections and communications. Not everyone is able to reach out to you. So in case you wish to speak with such a person, you need to shed some dollars. More like a professional’s DND. 6. Follow the correct people.    Follow the right people The more closely you screen and select your connections, the more relevant opportunities you get for business. It’s useless connecting to your aunts and uncles on LinkedIn. So click that ‘send to all’ invite wisely. 7. Experience matters!    How To Present Your Experience Work on your LinkedIn experience closely. Only update the relevant experience and participation details. Try categorizing them as: team work, organizing, research, the likes. That way, it looks more organized and clean. Experience should also, preferably, be chronologically arranged. 8. Bio-logic    Bio Matters. The importance of adding your accurate position and skills in your bio reflects on your visibility during employer searches. People search for business and employees online. With your correct skill set and position, you appear in the top searches, thus increasing your chances of getting hired/getting business.    These are the 8 golden rules you must keep in mind while building and maintaining your LinkedIn profile.   Recruitment season has started. Be well prepared for the rat race. All The Best!


Consigli di viaggio per people traveling to Italy

Tips on traveling solo in Italy

Italy is a beautiful country full of wonderful people who go an extra step to help you. It is important to respect their traditions and culture when traveling. Here are some simple tips can help you during your travels in Italy immensely: Safety First: Whether you are in Italy or anywhere else, nothing is important than safety. I recommend keeping an eye on your luggage everywhere you go in Italy especially in the bigger cities. There are several notorious thefts in Italian towns and it is always essential to be aware. Keep a copy of your passport always with you and just to be cautious when in a crowded area. It is best to display confidence in the way you walk and talk. Learn a Few Words of Italian: Italy is a country proud of its heritage and its language. You will always hear Italian first before English. It would be wise to know basic words of the language for a seamless travel experience. Words such as "Dove" which means where, "Salve" which is a formal way of saying hello or "Grazie" which means Thank You go a long way and will make a local smile. A small dictionary is also an asset to those who travel to Italy. Respect the Culture: Respecting the culture of the country you are traveling to is very vital. Just as we in India open our shoes before heading to the temple, in Italy, churches expect us to be appropriately dressed when visiting inside. Tank tops, short skirts and cheap clothing is frowned upon. So always carry a scarf and try to wear half/full sleeves when you are visiting a church. Also, if you want to blend in the crowds in Italy, understand that it is a stylish country and gives a lot of importance to dressing well. In case you don’t want to be stared at for poor dressing, by all means give an extra thought to how you look. All these tips can help make your Italian travels hassle free and great. Hope these help!


5 Typically Indian Short Films!

Some of the most interesting short films made in India, now showing on your nearest smartphone!

Miss Anonymous returns, with short films! Bollywood has come a long way from item songs and senseless cinema. Where on one side, Indian films are being appreciated globally, short feature films (or just short films) are not far behind either. The talent pool within the county is endless, and a good number of their examples can be seen and appreciated on YouTube, where you can find a huge collection of good-quality short films for free!  Here is a list of 5 short films which capture a wide range of emotions, have brilliant acting, and most of all, intrigue us with their stories.  So…sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy! 1. JAI MATA DI  A production presented by Terribly Tiny Tales, this short film features our very own Supriya Pilgaonkar! Released on the special occasion of Mother’s Day, the film is set in Mumbai and shows a couple searching for a home in the most crowded city in the world. Being an unmarried couple, no one is ready to rent them out a place. Tired with the hypocrisy, they call their mother, who ensures the landlord and helps them find an apartment. The question is, how does the couple have the same mother? Visit the link below to find out! Watch HERE Jai Mata Di   2. KHAMOSHIYAN  Khamoshiyan-presented by Royal Stag Large Short Films-is a film for dog lovers! The film has no dialogues but a lot of emotions, as it shows the loyalty and love of a dog for his master! Beautiful cinematography and acting bring alive the story of how a dog saves the life of his master by bringing her back from suicide; however, the act is misinterpreted and the dog is shot by the girl’s neighbours.  Follow the link to see what happens next.  Watch HERE Khamoshiyan   3. ABNORMAL  A modern take on LGBT issues, the film shows a young girl who is exploring her sexuality; her best friend Dev is in love with her, but she doesn’t feel the same way. She learns that instead, she likes Dev’s sister. Trusting her best friend, she reveals the same to her, who in turn leaks it out in the school.  At this point, the girl starts believing that she is ABNORMAL, and secludes herself. However, she comes out of this enforced seclusion with the help of someone. Who was that? Check out the link below to find out. Watch HERE Abnormal   4. PEANUT BUTTER  Peanut Butter is a short film produced by Playground Digital Cinema and directed by Manu Chobe. It involves Priya Mathur (Gauhar Khan), finding herself at a crucial phase in her life where she deals with the dilemma of choosing between her sudden pregnancy and her career.  Priya, a career oriented woman, gets pregnant with her boyfriend, but wants to go for an abortion. As she leaves her home, she meets a teenage stranger, Rohan, who surprisingly knows everything about her. He makes her understand the consequences of aborting her child and thus, completely changes her perception. A beautiful day spent together gives her the courage and hope to be a single mother and raise her kid. At the end, Priya finds out who Rohan really is and then, is even more determined to have a kid. Click the below to find out who Rohan actually is. Watch HERE Peanut Butter   5. CHUTNEY  This Chutney is a bit sweet and a lot spicy! Presented by Royal Stag Barrel, this short film features Tisca Chopra (Rani) in a never seen before avatar! Set in Model Town, the story begins with Sangeeta, who is Rani’s neighbour, visiting her to get the recipe of Rani’s famous Chutney. Meanwhile, Rani herself is aware about the fact that Sangeeta is going around with Rani’s husband. Making conversation, Rani narrates an incident to Sangeeta which revolves around Bhola who is a loyal and trustworthy cook hired by Virji (Rani’s husband). Suddenly, their idle talk takes an unconventional turn, leaving Sangeeta flabbergasted. Follow the link below to find out what Rani told Sangeeta, and how Bhola found himself buried in the ground! Watch HERE Chutney      


The Forgotten Women Relay Team

Can a nation forget an entire gold-winning relay team? Apparently, yes.

Mary D'Souza (Image from Sportskeeda.com) Amidst all the celebrations on the eve of India turning 70, all of us were given a refresher on our bright and accomplished history in pretty much everything. Sports was also not spared, as grainy photos and reams of text told us about all our accomplishments. Then, I discovered the story of Stephanie D'Souza and her relay team. Milkha Singh won the gold in 100 metres and 200 metres in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games; Farhan Akhtar and you know what happened next. What you don't know is that at the same place, another member of team India, Stephanie D'Souza, won silver in the women's 200m. Wikipedia says she held the national records in 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Now, let me tell you something else. Stephanie D'Souza was ALSO part of the Indian hockey team in one of the first hockey tournaments for women-the 1953 International Federation of Women's Hockey Association Tournament in Folkestone, England-and also captained the side in 1961. An Olympian (she participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) who played for India in two sports, and the whole wide net does not have a single picture of her. Now, let's flashback to the Asian Games before this one; the 1954 Manila Asian Games saw India's 100m relay team take gold. The women's team, that is. The team members were Stephanie D'Souza, Mary D'Souza, Violet Peters and Christine Brown.  Among the four, the latter two don't even have Wikipedia profiles; Mary D'Souza, incidentally, is also the first women Olympian from our country (1952 Helsinki), and was ALSO a part of the track team and the hockey team. Of her achievements: Mary’s most remarkable victory came at the inaugural Asian Games held in New Delhi where she became the first double medal winning athlete from India. She bagged a silver in 4x100m relay and bronze in 200m Mary went on to hold the national record for 100m, 200m and 800m hurdles until 1957. (includes her interview as well, and the above image) After years of being ignored by the officials and the ministers, in 2013, she was awarded the Dhyan Chand Award, an award presented to a sportsperson for her/his lifetime achievements. The Goa state government, meanwhile, is yet to recognize or reward her. Violet Peters To put the above into perspective, Lavy Pinto-the first Indian to win an 100 metres gold in the first Asiad in 1951-his winning moment, as well as his face itself can be found by just searching for his name. Lavy Pinto (Image From Livemint) We cannot change the records of the past. Yes, winners in women's sports used to find less of the limelight than their male counterparts. But we can at least take the effort of finding more about these forgotten people. We Indians deserve to know them. Every girl who dreams of running, deserves to know them. Let's remember them again.  


Game of Thrones is Live In Nagaland!

Zeliang replaced Rio. But Liezietsu replaced Zeliang. Now Zeliang is back, with the help of...Rio?

Welcome to Kohima. Prepare to lose your mind. (By Jackpluto (Own work) via Wikimedia) CommonsYou won't believe what is happening in Nagaland. Once upon a time, in a beautiful land called Nagaland, there was a ruler (CM) called Neiphiu Rio. After winning the mandate of the common people 3 times in a row, he wished to make his voice heard across the country, and thus fought for (and won) the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state. Into the empty seat of the ruler, came T R Zeliang. For 2 years, he ruled. Then, one day, the people of Nagaland rose against him (actually, some people were against the municipal elections being held, because it had reservations for women, while some were allegedly instigated), and he became...not-a-ruler. For the third time in 3 years, another ruler came. This time, the ruler was Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was on the verge of stepping away from politics, but was brought back. A period of peace and quiet beckoned.Alas. It was not to be. Mr. Zeliang wished to take back his seat, and become the ruler again. Dr. Liezietsu refused. There were elements of a perfect mystery: unchecked rumor-mongering, people disappearing inside forests, and press conferences. But no. There was even more to come. If you have been reading, the last thing we told you was about the Governor asking Mr. Liezietsu to prove his majority on or before July 15. The Chief Minister went to the High Court (the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court), and got a stay order on the Governor's order till July 17. On July 18. the Court dismissed both, the CM's petition as well as its order, and left it to the Governor to decide. Decide he did, and fast: within hours, the Governor called an emergency special session, which was to held the next day, on July 19 at 9:30 am. Also, on the 18th: Mr Zeliang received support from the BJP, which partners the Naga People's Front in the government. Four BJP legislators and Nagaland BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu went with letters of support to the governor. Also, on the 18th, the NPF decided to sever ties with the BJP. On the eve of the trust vote, Mr. Liezietsu, and his supporters did not turn up. Again, just as quickly, the Governor swore in Mr. Zeliang as the Chief Minister, at 3 pm of the same day, asking him to prove his majority by July 22. That majority was proved on July 21; out of the 59 legislators from the strength of 60 (Dr. Liezietsu's son had vacated his seat for his father to contest), 47 voted for Mr. Zeliang (36 from the NPF, 4 from the BJP, and 7 Independents), and 11 for Dr. Liezietsu ( 10 from the NPF and 1 Independent). One day before this, on the 20th, in an interview: Liezietsu said, “A whip has been issued to all NPF legislators in the Assembly to vote against the motion moved by Zeliang” Some hours ago, two things happened: Mr. Zeliang appointed another minister to his cabinet, taking the total to 11 (9 from the NPF , and 2 from the BJP). The second thing was NPF declaring that it will go to the High Court, asking for disqualification of all the 36 rebel NPF MLAs. As of today, of these 36, the NPF has suspended 11 and expelled 20. And, no, we have not forgotten Mr. Rio either. When Mr. Zeliang's cabinet was ready, then: Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio was also present at the swearing-in ceremony. There also seems to be some confusion: there is a party called the 'NPF Legislature Party' which supports Mr. Zeliang, but according to the Mint article we cited earlier, isn't a registered party. Then there is the question of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland; in the Mint article, the same NPF MLA who spoke about going to court against the rebel MLAs, also calls the BJP as an 'alliance partner'. But here, the NPF had broken ties with the BJP. So, what is happening? One school of thought links the Governor (a former BJP secretary) with helping to bring the BJP in control of the state. While another says that the BJP was a player in this, not the game-master. Mr. Liezietsu puts the blame on the Governor. However, we do have one question now to replace the one that is no longer valid. So, our questions for Nagaland are: Why doesn't Nagaland have its own Governor? Since January, Mr. P B Acharya has occupied the office of  the Governor, for both Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Six months later, why is it still the same? There have been no muncipal elections conducted in Nagaland since 2004. How will the cities and towns develop? If the above people are fighting so hard to stay in power, what is the reason? Is it to fight against ‘nepotism’? We all know better. So, a better question: just how much money and power is there in the CM’s chair? How much corruption? And if you haven’t noticed, women in Nagaland are not exactly on par with men. Or have not occupied even one seat in the Assembly, since its formation in 1964 till 2017. The only state in India to have that record. We will be waiting for answers. Or Godot. Same thing now. UPDATE: There are apparently two factions of the NPF now: the NPF Central (under Dr. Liezietsu), and the NPF Legislature Party (under Chief Minister Zeliang). Apparently, Mr. Neiphiu Rio was appointed ‘interim president’ of the NPF in a banquet hall. Of course, as a result, he has gotten himself suspended by the NPF again. Almost an exact year ago, he had been suspended, with the suspension revoked on July 13 of this year. So…bye, again!



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The Disappearing Rudrasagar Lake

The Neermahal Palace on the Rudrasagar Lake (By Chandrakant Sarkar via Wikipedia.com) Courtesy a fun election campaign, followed by some people gently pushing over certain statues, Tripura is known to many these days. Away from it all though, away from the poll promises, away from the rallies, and away from the post-election irrelevance, there are some issues in the state which could actually use some attention. The disappearing Rudrasagar Lake, for one. The King & His Palace Before its accession to India, Tripura was ruled as a kingdom. The last king of this state (the one who stepped down, and let his kingdom peacefully become a part of India), Maharaja Bir Bikram, was involved in many projects, and has even been said to be responsible for the start of modern infrastructure in the state. Among one of this was the Neermahal Palace, located in the waters of the Rudrasagar Lake, built in 1930. A palace on the waters of a lake. Though the official Tripura tourism site says the Maharaja built “his summer residence being inspired by Mughal style of architecture”, the more obvious inspirations seem to be Udaipur’s Jag Niwas (built in the late 18th century) & Jaipur’s Jal Mahal (also from the same time period). Anyways… The palace has been embroiled in an ownership dispute, with both the former royal family & the state claiming rights over it. Finally, in 2015, ownership of the palace shifted to the erstwhile royal family - the irony being that in 2013, the state government had announced its plans to restore both the palace & lake. As early as 2007, Down To Earth had called for urgent action to restore the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, citing threats from: Heavy siltation Pollution by brick kilns in the vicinity Massive population growth around the lake Use of large amounts of lake water for agriculture As of 2018, we are still waiting for a change. 1995   Rudrasagar Lake (1995) Satellite: Landsat 5 Date: 21 Jan 1995 Image Identifier: LT51370441995021ISP00 This is the lake, with the band combination selected as NDWI. Please note: this band has been reported to OVERESTIMATE the extent of water bodies. Why did we choose this over the band we took for Kodikal? There seemed to be some problem with the Index Stack band in this area. In any case, all images are purely for demonstrative purposes.   2011   Rudrasagar Lake (2011) Satellite: Landsat 5. Date: 26 Jan 2011 Image Identifier: LT51360442011026BKT00 16 years later, the lake seems to have shrunken badly. The same satellite, and the same combination.   2013   Rudrasagr Lake (2013) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 17 Dec 2013 Image Identifier:LC81360442013351LGN00 The Landsat 5 went out of service in June 2013. From this image from another satellite, we see that the lake is still shrinking, especially in the north. Also note: the government announced that it would start restoration in 2013.   2018   Rudrasagar Lake (29 Jan 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 29 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: LC08_L1TP_136044_20180129_20180207_01_T1 Still shrinking. Restoration either didn’t happen or did not work. Just to be sure, let’s check with another satellite?   Rudrasagar Lake (22 Jan 2018) Satellite: Sentinel 2 Date: 22 Jan 2018 Image Identifier: S2B_tile_20180122_46QCM_0 Doesn't completely match with the image above, though they are  separated by a duration of 7 days. One last look?   Rudrasagar Lake (Feb 2018) Satellite: Landsat 8 Date: 21 Feb 2018 Oh.   Incidentally, the lake is also recognized as a Ramsar wetland site, under the Ramsar Convention; it is an international recognition, which is a pretty much big deal. Let's hope someone saves the disappearing Rudrasagar lake, before its too late. All images sourced from the open-access online tool EOS Landviewer. You can also look at the similar story of an unnamed stream in Kodikal, Karnataka.


How Kodikal Lost A Stream & Gained A Drain

Heading south to Mangalore, the last village you see before entering the city is Kodikal. It may even be wrong to call it a village now; apartment blocks, a brand new engineering college, and constant construction activity have made it more urban than rural. You can almost watch it transform into one of the much-wanted suburbs of the main city, like the way it happened in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore. Sadly, it is copying even the worse trends too. The Stream The Gurupura river flows down to Mangalore from the north, meeting the Netravati just before they empty out into the Arabian Sea. In its final stretch, as the Gurupura enters Mangalore, it meets a roughly 3 km long unnamed stream, in the vicinity of Kodikal. There is nothing special about the steam; it is one of the many streams draining out into the Gurupura river over its more than 40 km long stretch (after the confluence near). It is however, the stream that we are going to talk about. This stream that flows along the northern end of Kodikal, is itself formed by two sources, one from the north and the other from the east, as you can see below. Kodikal on Map So what’s the problem? It is disappearing. The Shrinking The EOS Landviewer (https://eos.com/landviewer/) is an online resource; just make an account on it, and you can access satellite images from as far back as 1984. We looked for Kodikal on the map, and pulled up an image from 1990. Then we applied the band combination of ‘Index Stack’; band combinations are used for highlighting specific features or phenomena of the landscape. Think of it like a image filter for a map. Why this specific filter/band combination then? This is the Index Stack Description (from the website) ‘vegetation displays here as green, water as purple, snow/ice as magneta, and soil, rocks, and barren land as blue. Clouds also appear as a mixture of purple & magneta, so in this case the indices alone are not sufficient for differentiating clouds from water and snow/ice.’ This is on 17 December 1990: Kodikal (17 December 1990) The satellite used here is Landsat 5 (belongs to the US; the initials are LT5). This is on 5 January 1992; pink is water, so notice the stream, and also keep an eye on the one to the north. Kodikal (5 January 1992) Now look at this from 11 January 2015. Kodikal (11 January 2015) The northern end of the stream is gone, as is the tributary in the north. Keep in mind: this is the same zoom level (300 m), the same weather conditions (December, January). The satellite however is different. So let’s reconfirm. This is 22 January 2018, from a different satellite. Kodikal (22 January 2018) The higher level of detail shows that the stream is highly blocked up in the north (as any local can guarantee, garbage is also thrown in the stream). But the above still stands; the tributary has disappeared, and the stream has shrunk. But why did this happen? The Present Google Earth combined a number of satellite images, the world over, to prepare Google Timelapse. This is the link. Go here, search Kodikal and zoom to the max. As you can see, this is a record of satellite images from 1984 to 2016, just like the ones we use in our GPS. Now, watch it on slow speed, and take a look at the north end of the stream. From 1999 to 2002, the upper part of the stream is clearly visible. In 2000, the first clearing of land, as the land becomes brown, happens on the north bank. On the southern bank, the clearing begins in 2007, expands in 2008, and becomes a bit bigger in 2015. Till 2010, part of the stream is still visible; it disappears in 2011. You can see the shrinking at the turn in 2013. What happened here? The AJ College happened here, among other things. The Problem As everyone in Kodikal knows, as early as 15 years ago, the place where the college stood was filled with water. Farming was the main occupation here, so the place was either that or marshland. My mother, who grew up here, says that in monsoon the entire area would flood up, as far away as 300m away from the stream, where the Nagabrahma Chawadi temple stands. It was only in the last 15 years, that the entire area was filled up. In fact, when the college construction began, trucks and trucks filled with sand had to choke up the naturally wet land. Some people joked that they were building a beach. It is about time we stop laughing now. This is present day Kodikal. Present Day Kodikal (Google Maps) If an area floods when it is just open fields, what happens when you put brick and sand and concrete over the fields? Where does the water go? Many houses here still depend on the ground water through wells for drinking water; how is the water supposed to seep down into the soil now? With the college, and the hostels, and still some open land waiting for buyers, where does all their water demand come from? The Future Mangalore is on its way to becoming a ‘smart city’ courtesy the Central Government’s pan-India plan. But what is the meaning of it becoming a smart city? More Ideal parlors, better roads, higher land prices? Or does it involve something more? Delhi is reeling under some of the worst air pollution in the world; the entire developing belt of North India is at threat from its own air. Bangalore has almost finished off its own water. Mumbai keeps drowning annually. Oh, and NASA predicted that the top two cities at risk from rising sea levels include Mumbai & Mangalore, with both the cities seeing levels rise by as much as 15 cms from the present height by the next 100 years. If Mangalore cannot learn from these cities/prepare for these eventualities, then what is the point of it being a city? If it cannot save its own stream, its own water, how will it protect its people?


Is It Getting Better To Be Gay In India?

The laws aren't there, neither are people's mindsets. So, why am I optimistic about the G in LGBT? Or is it just better to be gay in India?

Better Being Gay In India? (Photo by Gustavo Gouvêa on Unsplash) So much happening this year, and it’s just 13 days into the new year; which means you won’t be surprised if I tell you that it is getting better to be gay in India. Wait. WHAT? Sure, the recent SC statement about a relook into its judgment on Section 377 is a welcome decision. But on another, a more personal level, I have reason to believe the above statement. Why? One of the things I had been doing in the past months was work at a startup/marketing agency/application development venture. My task, as the new intern, was to prepare content for a brand-new video channel. The topic? Why, any informative & interesting topic would do! As you can imagine, that was a massive canvas to begin with. Everyone contributed their best-of lists, in-controversy issues, the likes. The aim was to make a video which would organically get views and viewers; since no one had any idea on how that would happen, every topic was taken and made a video on. It was like throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. Subsequently, we fell on hard times; a new YouTube channel was obviously going to struggle getting viewers, but a channel which had no idea on what it specialized in?  40 videos later, as even our best & most research-demanding videos failed to break the triple digit mark, everyone lost hope of the channel project amounting to anything. End of Act 1. A couple of months later, we found something weird. Somehow, one of our videos had started pulling in viewers, that too not just from India, even Pakistan & Saudi Arabia. It had been picking up pace, from 100 to 200 to 500.. It was about famous Indian personalities who were openly gay.     Which was funny, because an earlier video we had made on famous Indian transgenders failed to have any sort of meaningful relationship with the views counter. Now, we just watched its counterpart rise. The real improvement was yet to come though. As it became the 1st video from our channel to cross the 1k mark, a week after this miraculous rise (which was relayed across our office), a guy (the youngest one in our office) mixed up gay with transgender. The others made fun of him, and told him what was the difference between the two terms. Alright, maybe they did not use the best available terms, but they did make the difference clear. Maybe they still will be unable to look at an openly queer person without any bias. But they do know that sexual orientation has no impact on talent, or recognition or (the most important for a normal Indian) monetary success. On a somber note, another thing which justifies why its better to be gay in India was the lack of visibility & information on Indian lesbians and both male/female bisexual individuals, something we looked for when looking for lesbian or bisexual Indians. In essence, there were no best-of or top-5 lists of lesbian Indians. They apparently never left the closet. On The Other Side Of The Rainbow To sum up, if any individual from the LGBT community is reading this, to you I have just one appeal. Step up & talk. Why? In the past year, as I had been looking for internships, mostly unsuccessfully, one place where I managed to work was at Queer Support India. Though I went there with the best of intentions, the problem faced there was unique; after a certain point, you can keep writing for the LGBT audience only if you are in the shoes of (or familiar with) the actual queer community. As a straight guy (who by accidents of both chance and choice had been unable to fraternize with the LGBT community), I ran out of stories to tell, or experiences to share. Because they aren’t mine, they are yours to share & tell. That’s like the difference between a cheerleader (me) and the players (you). Eventually, you are the one who has to go out to play. Here’s to a more hopeful 2018!  


India’s Chakma & Hajong Refugees

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that's not much of a change from the last 50 years.

No one is talking about the Chakma and the Hajong refugees. But come to think of it, that is not much of a change from the past 50 years. It is to the Northeast's credit that this mind-boggling mosaic of different people and different cultures has remained together; of course, the stitching done in keeping all these pieces together has occassionaly been very messy. But as part of the inherently diverse quilt called India, they make our country much more beautiful. It is only proper then that India itself should be held guilty for refusing to give prominence (at least in the mainstream news) to this part of the country. So, How Did The Chakma and Hajong Communities Become News-Worthy?   The Kaptai Dam (By Govt. Official - Kaptai Power Plant Archive, CC BY 2.5) It was only in the month of September 2017, in the midst of all the fire and fury over the Rohingya refugees, that the Centre announced its decision to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. This decision, mysteriously, came almost 2 years after the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to do the above 'within 3 months'. But, wait: who are they? Originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, the Chakmas (majority Buddhists) and Hajongs (majority Hindus) have been documented to face two major threats in the 1960s. One, the religious persecution they faced in the Muslim-majority then-East Pakistan, and two, the submerging of their land by the construction of the Kaptai Dam. Thus, beginning in the 1960s, they left for India. India, as the India Express goes on to summarize, gave them land, shelter, followed by a declaration of granting citizenship. Back in 1972, you may note. What is the big deal now then? Arunachal Protests   The Hajong People (By Diarchy Hajong- under CC 4.0 - via Wikipedia) Arunachal Pradesh is making a demand which may sound strange; make the refugees and their children the citizens of India, but do not allow them the pre-requisites for being a full-fledged Arunachal resident. Whoa. If you visit Arunachal today, you will be asked for an Inner Line Permit, a documentation required for every Indian who is not from Arunachal to enter the state. In that respect, this is a quote from an unnamed minister, said on September 13. "The Chakma and Hajong refugees will not be entitled to the rights enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, including land ownership. But they might be given inner line permits required for 'foreigners' in the state to travel and work," Predictably, the refugees have protested. An open letter addressed to our Home Minister had this to say: the Chakmas and Hajongs lost their value and identity as citizens and were stripped of all rights  by the Arunachal government one by one –  employment banned in 1980, trade licenses revoked, issuance of ration card stopped in 1991 and order of appointment of the post of Gaon Burah or to the Panchayat revoked in 1994, on the mere suspicion that we were foreigners or refugees But the opposition from the natives has been so vociferous that the state's very own Kiran Rijiju-who declared on September 13 that 'Supreme Court order has to be honoured'-said on September 19 that the Centre would appeal the earlier order. Two years later, you may note. Apart from the protests and counter-protests, the situation has not improved even now; October witnessed protests over Chakma applicants sitting for the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission exam. Tribe Against Tribe? The truth is, this is just one of the various faultlines in the state, and in the Northeast. In Arunachal, the state government has decided to adopt a Central rehabilitation policy for Tibetan refugees, but this has also faced opposition from the state's residents. Meanwhile in Mizoram, Chakmas have been protesting against discrimination faced by them in the state. In response, some have pointed out the Chakma Autonomous District Council in the state, telling them to be grateful. We have already talked about the fights between the Meiteis and the Nagas and the Kukis in Manipur, cheered on by political leaders, and about how Nagaland has not held elections for city corporations since 2004, just because it does not want to give women representation. The Lack Of Jobs   Chakma (By TawsifSalam-under CC 3.0-via Wkipedia.com) The people who drafted our Constitution cannot be praised enough; these extremely foresighted representatives provided protection where they felt it necessary. Note the genius of terming Article 370 as a Temporary Provision, but not giving the final date. The Northeastern states are also protected by their own laws, be it regarding visitors under the Inner Line Permit or security under the Scheduled Tribes status. The problem is that, we have not been talking about the future of these for a long time. Like reservation, we have allowed a system - set up to help the people - to become something very different from what it was originally. It has been close to 70 years since some of India's best sat down and began the ardous task of making one Constitution for the country. In regard to the Northeast, isn't it about time that there is at least an dialogue with all the stakeholders? Understand what the people there want from the government, and how the government can help them? Fix some new goalposts, and update the rights as per the times? Economically, the Northeast is not really in the pink of health either. Even the achievements are tinged with the whiff of the state's failures. Neighbouring Manipur sent 8 footballers to the Under-17 Indian World Cup squad, out of a total of 21 players. How so many? Renedy Singh, a local and a former India captain, explains: "Getting a government job is a far cry for the common people but they have a second option to get jobs either in government or private sectors through excellence in sports." For Arunachal Pradesh, unemployment is a genuine issue. An editorial by retired Indian Air Force Group Captain Mohonto Panging, says the same. Even the Arunachal Pradesh Governor has also talked about the same. So when we come to government data, the inferences are troubling. The NSSO conducts a five-year survey, on data including the rate of unemployment. As per the 2011-12 report (which is the most recent), the unemployment rate has been rising since 2004 in both rural and urban areas of Arunachal. In fact, if we check for urban areas, the only states with higher unemployment rates than Arunachal are Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram. Apart from better-off Meghalaya (2.8) & Sikkim (2.3), the entire Northeast is here. Let's hope someone wakes up before it is too late for the Northeast.  


About GM Crops

What are GM crops? And why is Arnab not talking about it?

Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash (College students today, are arguably best poised to innovate and bring a change. Courtesy a simple net connection, a helping of curiosity and a large amount of zeal, they can keep pace with all the recent advancements while taking their first steps in their respective fields. So, in this assuredly irregular part of Snaptimes, we will help you know about Biotechnology, through the printing press of a college periodical, the Ribose Times. So, shall we?) It is a mark of our country's progress that in present times, there is no dearth of commentaries on shayaris, or about a bombing in Russia, or even on how to travel safely in Italy. We can afford to do this, taking for granted the food that turns up on our table. A phenomenon which is rather mystifying, for while we all aren't looking, the people whom we voted for are on the verge of changing the very nature of the food we eat. First, some background. GM crops are agricultural plants where the DNA is modified through genetic engineering. The objective is to introduce new characteristic(s) to the plant species, ones which do not occur naturally. They have their benefits and their drawbacks, and are already here. In fact, they may even be in your food! According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a lobby for biotech crops, cottonseed oil makes up 13.7 per cent of edible oil in India. But about 90 per cent of the cotton grown in the country is genetically modified Bt cotton. So can we then, let the consumer choose? If we tell them, that this is the GM crop-derived one, and this is the organic crop-derived one, now you choose, will that be practical? That, is the debate on GMO labelling. Is it good, or is it even practical? GMO labelling will ease the concerns of consumers by letting them know where their food really comes from. This transparency can only help restore confidence of the consumers in the food industry. BUT It would require large scale separation of food products. The food distribution system is not equipped to handle two different categories of food, which have to be handled and supplied separately. Meanwhile, the biggest producer of GM crops, Monsanto, went ahead and merged with Bayer, the chemicals giant. Basically, this created a behemoth which will produce both GM crops AND the pesticides for these crops. That's not all: People are worried that less competition will shrink up innovation because of which no new and improved crops would be introduced into the market. Many are even fretting that these giants will now hold power to manipulate the government for their own profit ignoring the requirements of the farmers. In India, the stakeholders believe that these mergers will narrow down choices for farmers. Bayer and Monsanto will become the major players in the seed sector and will contribute their share in maize, cotton, paddy, vegetables and agrochemicals. What now? Our government is thinking about allowing growth of GM mustard, something which would officially make us all consumers of GM foods. But away from how much of it sounds right or wrong, how many of us know the actual science behind it? How many studies done on its consumption - done by a neutral third party - are accessible? And can we not, at the least, have a say in what we eat?


Mr. Modi, What Do You Think About The Rohingyas?

You know those Rohingyas dying near our borders? By landmines planted by their own country's army? What do you think, Mr. PM?

Photo by Danny Postma on Unsplash Since 2015, a word has popped up again and again. In India, among the many headlines in the newspaper, and the bold announcements in the channel tickers, it appeared; occupying the  paradox of being a distant reality, and still a very present one. But all of us, had to face that word, again and again. Refugee. What the world also realized was that these people were not one uniform block; no, they were people from Syria, from Afghanistan, from Ukraine, from Nigeria. If there was something they shared, it was the fate of having to leave their own people and land behind. Of course, ensconced in our own little pocket universes, we hardly have time to understand the little details present in our very own lives, let alone people in far-off Europe. Because, if you just look up, you will understand that these details owe their existence to people who came from beyond our borders. The 80,000 Tibetans who fled from the Chinese in 1959, brought momos with them. The Zoroastrians from Iran gave India JRD Tata, and the eponymous corporate behemoth. The more than 10,000 Afghans who fled from the war there, are now self-sufficient enough that they can give a taste of their cuisine through restaurants and fair stalls. Close to 2 crore Bangladeshi immigrants and 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils also live in our country, not liked but tolerated (in the case of the Tamils: "even the third generation after being educated are working as daily wage labourers"). So, what have the 40, 000 Rohingyas done that they stand to get deported? Let's assume-dispassionately, if you may-that this is just some routine policy decision. That the Cabinet sat and said 'if we look at this from the legal perspective...', and decided to announce deporting them. Then, you see this.   A roadside billboard in Jammu bears a warning to refugees from a Hindu nationalist group. Rohingya people, of whom there are roughly 5,500 in the north Indian city, are urged to leave. Photograph: Mir Imran (Above image & caption taken from The Guardian) (A passing observation: how shaky is your faith if the presence of some recent migrants can threaten its existence?) Then, you-the normal Indian-realize that there is an amendment being proposed to the Citizenship Act. As of now, the Citizenship Act 1955 denies citizenship to all illegal migrants; the 2016 Amendment proposes allowing Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan to become citizens after living in India for 6 years. Spot the odd religion out.   For years, we tut-tutted at the West for failing to understand that all Muslims weren't terrorists. Now? Now, our Home Ministry thinks it fit to say to issue an advisory , saying:   illegal migrants are more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organizations. Infiltration from Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory specially in the recent years besides being burden on the limited resources of the country...   And if there's any confusion that who the notice is intended for, as the government is rumored to say that it applies to all illegal migrants, banish those doubts.   Detection & deportation of such illegal migrants from Rakhine state, also known as Rohingyas, is a continuous process.   Apparently, Hindu migrants just consume air and thrive. What is more galling is our government calling this 'infiltration'. The UN has acknowledged the risk of ethnic cleansing. An authoritative news agency, Reuters, calls it an exodus. Calls have been made for taking back the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But India...   By English: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Flickr) , via Wikimedia Commons  Did the Rohingyas just start migrating this year? In 2009, the Coast Guard discovered 98 refugees, from an original number of more than 300, stranded on a boat near the Andamans. They were living in camps in Bangladesh, and had turned towards Thailand in the hope of a better future. Instead, Thai soldiers themselves sent these boats and refugees back. Police found 90 Rohingya refugees, starved and dehydrated in one of the islands of Andaman & Nicobar, in February 2011. In May 2012, the Indian government issued 3-year visas to the refugees. This too, came after sustained protests in the capital. Sounding eerily similar to what would happen in some years in the Mediterranean, two boats, carrying 135 and 110 Rohingya passengers, sank in the span of two weeks in November 2012. In 2013, Antonio Guterres, the then-UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) said: It is important that the problems of citizenship are solved (referring to Myanmar) and the countries of the region follow the example of India that has opened its borders to the Rohingyas and granted them the same status as it has to the other refugees. (Note: Antonio Guterres is the present Secretary-General of the UN. He is also the one who commented about the risk of ethnic cleansing above.) What are they fleeing from, you ask. I can tell you about the requirement for the state's approval for your marriage if you're a Rohingya Muslim. About the denial of citizenship to them. About how back in 2009, the residents there refused to acknowledge the existence of the Rohingyas to a journalist. Or about the country's first Census in 2014, which refused to include the Rohingyas. But it would be better if you watch the below video.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqMSfT9eI6o The above video is from 2014. 3 years ago, and this was their condition. In fact, set aside their condition. Just listen to what the Buddhist monks are saying; what they only prove is that the quality of being pig-headed and supporting violence truly transcends the barriers of religion. The world's media is looking at Myanmar now, and the country is going to be the proverbial deer in the front of their cameras. Landmines are being placed near the border, entire villages are being set on fire, and their biggest leader refuses to acknowledge this crisis and instead terms it as fake news. As the wannabe elder brother, what indeed does India have to say for itself? What does the leader of this democracy have to say?


Under-17, but Above Expectations?

India's Under-17 team is ready to play. But what can we realistically expect from them and what happens in their future?

“It was deserving, India are a team who will compete and make their country proud, you can tell there is a lot of work from Luis and what he has achieved with their players,” Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Claudio Bravo (Manchester City) are some of the players in the Chile senior squad. And their Under-17 coach is impressed with our players, after a 1-1 draw against the Chile Under-17 squad. Did the sun just wink at us from behind the clouds? Some of the Under-17 players   Football in India, is going through a period of flux. While the ideal dream of having an amazing national team and a television-friendly national league is becoming a reality, the ISL and the Indian team's ranking are not exactly perfect. Plus, if out of more than 211 nations, we are the only country to have two national leagues, with special permission from FIFA to boot, well...you decide what that means. Our point being, change is happening in Indian football, maybe for the bad, maybe for the good. Nicolai Adam had worked with the Azerbaijan team, guiding them from the Under-16 to the Under-19 level, a spell which was recognized as a very successful one. Of course, when he was appointed as coach of the-then Under-15 Indian team on April 1, 2015, there were high hopes. On February 7, 2017, he was sacked. By March, when Luis Norton de Matos was selected as the replacement, it was hard to be bullish about what the team would achieve in the to-be-held-in-a-matter-of-months World Cup. After all, they had even played in a number of tournaments beforehand, with the results being: Lost all matches in the BRICS Cup Last out of 16 teams in the Granatkin Tournament in Russia One draw, and two losses in the group stage of the Under-16 AFC Championship. Back to what we started with, there seems to be hope, even after all of it seemed like going to the ground. When are we playing? All matches are to be played in Delhi, which happened courtesy AIFF requesting for it. That aside, India's other group mates are: USA (October 6), Colombia (October 9) and Ghana (October 12). None of the above are pushovers. Fingers crossed, though. What happens after the tournament? The jury is out on whether a strong showing at the Under-17 stage is any indicator of the same squad's strength at the senior level. While is there enough evidence for not taking the results seriously, there are also gems unearthed at this level. What both sides can agree on though, is the invaluable experience & buzz created around the sport. Especially for India. In 2010, there was a sudden wish of sending an Indian team to the 2018 World Cup. With this in mind, the AIFF came up with an idea: the Indian Under-19 team would play against the top clubs of the country in the national league (the I-League), while being relegation-proof. The squad would consist of only Indian players, and that too, changed after every year. An year later, the team even secured sponsorship, and became the Palian Arrows. The players did play well; though they kept changing coaches, their performances were appreciated, especially in the 2012-13 season. It also helped that the overall performances of the Indian youth teams was also on an upswing. Of course, it is Indian football. In 2013, the team was disbanded, the money being the problem. Reportedly, the players were not being paid too. But the officials were just as funny, including the voracious consumer-of-his-own-words Praful Patel. For example: In 2011, “I’ve been impressed with the residential wing, the kitchen, the swimming pool and the gymnasium and the training grounds,” Mr. Patel added . In 2013, “Moreover, the infrastructure at Pailan in the outskirts of the city is in a bad shape. We have no option but to pull the team out,” asserted an AIFF official . In the span of 2 years, the infrastructure went from impressive to bad shape. Right. Back to the present, the same Arrows idea is being proposed, with participation in future tournaments, across age groups, being laid out. Will it stumble on the altar of money again? Let's see.


A Sales Pitch for LinkedIn

What to DO and what not to DO on LinkedIn. From someone who knows.

Miss Anonymous has some advice for students. Listen up, all you placement seekers! Being a new entrant into the corporate world, I have been struggling and dealing with a lot of new contacts and people. Socializing! That is the way I meet new people, right? So...Facebook, Twitter, Instagram??  Ugh…actually no. Its LinkedIn!  Coming from school, I did have a LinkedIn profile, but never really bothered to update it.  Turns out, I should have.  Sitting for placements/internships, along with your CV, your LinkedIn profile is evaluated as well. So basically, LinkedIn is the corporate world’s Facebook.  In an induction, we were told about ‘the importance of LinkedIn’ and how it helps you fetch good opportunities and business. 80% B2B leads are generated from LinkedIn.  That raises a question: what are the DOs and DON'Ts for LinkedIn?   1. It's LinkedIn, not Facebook!  LinkedIn  Despite of both being socializing platforms (and blue in colour), there is a marked difference in how you present yourself on LinkedIn, when compared to Facebook. Don’t even think of posting your family outing pictures, or of updating statuses like 'Good Morning'.    2. Importance of a good Profile Picture.    Harvey Specter NO DOGS! NO POUTS! NO GLARES! You need to look presentable. A decent picture with sophisticated clothing, and a clear view of your face. It should represent your personality and give your contacts a good idea of how you look (purpose of a picture: p). Remember, neat and tidy wins the race.    3. Be careful of what you like and share!  Watch what you share.     Your interests on LinkedIn are reflected by what you like and share. All your contacts can see what you liked/shared, as it is displayed in their news feed. No business colleague of yours wants to know if you follow ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or not.   4. No Stalking.  Don't stalk.   Indians have great potential in stalking others. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) makes us check out our peer’s profile every now and then. But hey! Don’t do that with LinkedIn.  The site has a tab where you can see the people who viewed your profile.  So in case you want to check out your ex’s profile, don’t use LinkedIn. 5. The curious case of InMail and Connect.  InMail Most of the hotshots of the industry have opted for a premium account, with which comes a service called InMail. This enables only selective people (the ones with a premium account too), to connect with this person. Result? More business oriented connections and communications. Not everyone is able to reach out to you. So in case you wish to speak with such a person, you need to shed some dollars. More like a professional’s DND. 6. Follow the correct people.    Follow the right people The more closely you screen and select your connections, the more relevant opportunities you get for business. It’s useless connecting to your aunts and uncles on LinkedIn. So click that ‘send to all’ invite wisely. 7. Experience matters!    How To Present Your Experience Work on your LinkedIn experience closely. Only update the relevant experience and participation details. Try categorizing them as: team work, organizing, research, the likes. That way, it looks more organized and clean. Experience should also, preferably, be chronologically arranged. 8. Bio-logic    Bio Matters. The importance of adding your accurate position and skills in your bio reflects on your visibility during employer searches. People search for business and employees online. With your correct skill set and position, you appear in the top searches, thus increasing your chances of getting hired/getting business.    These are the 8 golden rules you must keep in mind while building and maintaining your LinkedIn profile.   Recruitment season has started. Be well prepared for the rat race. All The Best!


Consigli di viaggio per people traveling to Italy

Tips on traveling solo in Italy

Italy is a beautiful country full of wonderful people who go an extra step to help you. It is important to respect their traditions and culture when traveling. Here are some simple tips can help you during your travels in Italy immensely: Safety First: Whether you are in Italy or anywhere else, nothing is important than safety. I recommend keeping an eye on your luggage everywhere you go in Italy especially in the bigger cities. There are several notorious thefts in Italian towns and it is always essential to be aware. Keep a copy of your passport always with you and just to be cautious when in a crowded area. It is best to display confidence in the way you walk and talk. Learn a Few Words of Italian: Italy is a country proud of its heritage and its language. You will always hear Italian first before English. It would be wise to know basic words of the language for a seamless travel experience. Words such as "Dove" which means where, "Salve" which is a formal way of saying hello or "Grazie" which means Thank You go a long way and will make a local smile. A small dictionary is also an asset to those who travel to Italy. Respect the Culture: Respecting the culture of the country you are traveling to is very vital. Just as we in India open our shoes before heading to the temple, in Italy, churches expect us to be appropriately dressed when visiting inside. Tank tops, short skirts and cheap clothing is frowned upon. So always carry a scarf and try to wear half/full sleeves when you are visiting a church. Also, if you want to blend in the crowds in Italy, understand that it is a stylish country and gives a lot of importance to dressing well. In case you don’t want to be stared at for poor dressing, by all means give an extra thought to how you look. All these tips can help make your Italian travels hassle free and great. Hope these help!


5 Typically Indian Short Films!

Some of the most interesting short films made in India, now showing on your nearest smartphone!

Miss Anonymous returns, with short films! Bollywood has come a long way from item songs and senseless cinema. Where on one side, Indian films are being appreciated globally, short feature films (or just short films) are not far behind either. The talent pool within the county is endless, and a good number of their examples can be seen and appreciated on YouTube, where you can find a huge collection of good-quality short films for free!  Here is a list of 5 short films which capture a wide range of emotions, have brilliant acting, and most of all, intrigue us with their stories.  So…sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy! 1. JAI MATA DI  A production presented by Terribly Tiny Tales, this short film features our very own Supriya Pilgaonkar! Released on the special occasion of Mother’s Day, the film is set in Mumbai and shows a couple searching for a home in the most crowded city in the world. Being an unmarried couple, no one is ready to rent them out a place. Tired with the hypocrisy, they call their mother, who ensures the landlord and helps them find an apartment. The question is, how does the couple have the same mother? Visit the link below to find out! Watch HERE Jai Mata Di   2. KHAMOSHIYAN  Khamoshiyan-presented by Royal Stag Large Short Films-is a film for dog lovers! The film has no dialogues but a lot of emotions, as it shows the loyalty and love of a dog for his master! Beautiful cinematography and acting bring alive the story of how a dog saves the life of his master by bringing her back from suicide; however, the act is misinterpreted and the dog is shot by the girl’s neighbours.  Follow the link to see what happens next.  Watch HERE Khamoshiyan   3. ABNORMAL  A modern take on LGBT issues, the film shows a young girl who is exploring her sexuality; her best friend Dev is in love with her, but she doesn’t feel the same way. She learns that instead, she likes Dev’s sister. Trusting her best friend, she reveals the same to her, who in turn leaks it out in the school.  At this point, the girl starts believing that she is ABNORMAL, and secludes herself. However, she comes out of this enforced seclusion with the help of someone. Who was that? Check out the link below to find out. Watch HERE Abnormal   4. PEANUT BUTTER  Peanut Butter is a short film produced by Playground Digital Cinema and directed by Manu Chobe. It involves Priya Mathur (Gauhar Khan), finding herself at a crucial phase in her life where she deals with the dilemma of choosing between her sudden pregnancy and her career.  Priya, a career oriented woman, gets pregnant with her boyfriend, but wants to go for an abortion. As she leaves her home, she meets a teenage stranger, Rohan, who surprisingly knows everything about her. He makes her understand the consequences of aborting her child and thus, completely changes her perception. A beautiful day spent together gives her the courage and hope to be a single mother and raise her kid. At the end, Priya finds out who Rohan really is and then, is even more determined to have a kid. Click the below to find out who Rohan actually is. Watch HERE Peanut Butter   5. CHUTNEY  This Chutney is a bit sweet and a lot spicy! Presented by Royal Stag Barrel, this short film features Tisca Chopra (Rani) in a never seen before avatar! Set in Model Town, the story begins with Sangeeta, who is Rani’s neighbour, visiting her to get the recipe of Rani’s famous Chutney. Meanwhile, Rani herself is aware about the fact that Sangeeta is going around with Rani’s husband. Making conversation, Rani narrates an incident to Sangeeta which revolves around Bhola who is a loyal and trustworthy cook hired by Virji (Rani’s husband). Suddenly, their idle talk takes an unconventional turn, leaving Sangeeta flabbergasted. Follow the link below to find out what Rani told Sangeeta, and how Bhola found himself buried in the ground! Watch HERE Chutney      


The Forgotten Women Relay Team

Can a nation forget an entire gold-winning relay team? Apparently, yes.

Mary D'Souza (Image from Sportskeeda.com) Amidst all the celebrations on the eve of India turning 70, all of us were given a refresher on our bright and accomplished history in pretty much everything. Sports was also not spared, as grainy photos and reams of text told us about all our accomplishments. Then, I discovered the story of Stephanie D'Souza and her relay team. Milkha Singh won the gold in 100 metres and 200 metres in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games; Farhan Akhtar and you know what happened next. What you don't know is that at the same place, another member of team India, Stephanie D'Souza, won silver in the women's 200m. Wikipedia says she held the national records in 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Now, let me tell you something else. Stephanie D'Souza was ALSO part of the Indian hockey team in one of the first hockey tournaments for women-the 1953 International Federation of Women's Hockey Association Tournament in Folkestone, England-and also captained the side in 1961. An Olympian (she participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) who played for India in two sports, and the whole wide net does not have a single picture of her. Now, let's flashback to the Asian Games before this one; the 1954 Manila Asian Games saw India's 100m relay team take gold. The women's team, that is. The team members were Stephanie D'Souza, Mary D'Souza, Violet Peters and Christine Brown.  Among the four, the latter two don't even have Wikipedia profiles; Mary D'Souza, incidentally, is also the first women Olympian from our country (1952 Helsinki), and was ALSO a part of the track team and the hockey team. Of her achievements: Mary’s most remarkable victory came at the inaugural Asian Games held in New Delhi where she became the first double medal winning athlete from India. She bagged a silver in 4x100m relay and bronze in 200m Mary went on to hold the national record for 100m, 200m and 800m hurdles until 1957. (includes her interview as well, and the above image) After years of being ignored by the officials and the ministers, in 2013, she was awarded the Dhyan Chand Award, an award presented to a sportsperson for her/his lifetime achievements. The Goa state government, meanwhile, is yet to recognize or reward her. Violet Peters To put the above into perspective, Lavy Pinto-the first Indian to win an 100 metres gold in the first Asiad in 1951-his winning moment, as well as his face itself can be found by just searching for his name. Lavy Pinto (Image From Livemint) We cannot change the records of the past. Yes, winners in women's sports used to find less of the limelight than their male counterparts. But we can at least take the effort of finding more about these forgotten people. We Indians deserve to know them. Every girl who dreams of running, deserves to know them. Let's remember them again.  


Game of Thrones is Live In Nagaland!

Zeliang replaced Rio. But Liezietsu replaced Zeliang. Now Zeliang is back, with the help of...Rio?

Welcome to Kohima. Prepare to lose your mind. (By Jackpluto (Own work) via Wikimedia) CommonsYou won't believe what is happening in Nagaland. Once upon a time, in a beautiful land called Nagaland, there was a ruler (CM) called Neiphiu Rio. After winning the mandate of the common people 3 times in a row, he wished to make his voice heard across the country, and thus fought for (and won) the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state. Into the empty seat of the ruler, came T R Zeliang. For 2 years, he ruled. Then, one day, the people of Nagaland rose against him (actually, some people were against the municipal elections being held, because it had reservations for women, while some were allegedly instigated), and he became...not-a-ruler. For the third time in 3 years, another ruler came. This time, the ruler was Dr. Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was on the verge of stepping away from politics, but was brought back. A period of peace and quiet beckoned.Alas. It was not to be. Mr. Zeliang wished to take back his seat, and become the ruler again. Dr. Liezietsu refused. There were elements of a perfect mystery: unchecked rumor-mongering, people disappearing inside forests, and press conferences. But no. There was even more to come. If you have been reading, the last thing we told you was about the Governor asking Mr. Liezietsu to prove his majority on or before July 15. The Chief Minister went to the High Court (the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court), and got a stay order on the Governor's order till July 17. On July 18. the Court dismissed both, the CM's petition as well as its order, and left it to the Governor to decide. Decide he did, and fast: within hours, the Governor called an emergency special session, which was to held the next day, on July 19 at 9:30 am. Also, on the 18th: Mr Zeliang received support from the BJP, which partners the Naga People's Front in the government. Four BJP legislators and Nagaland BJP president Visasolie Lhoungu went with letters of support to the governor. Also, on the 18th, the NPF decided to sever ties with the BJP. On the eve of the trust vote, Mr. Liezietsu, and his supporters did not turn up. Again, just as quickly, the Governor swore in Mr. Zeliang as the Chief Minister, at 3 pm of the same day, asking him to prove his majority by July 22. That majority was proved on July 21; out of the 59 legislators from the strength of 60 (Dr. Liezietsu's son had vacated his seat for his father to contest), 47 voted for Mr. Zeliang (36 from the NPF, 4 from the BJP, and 7 Independents), and 11 for Dr. Liezietsu ( 10 from the NPF and 1 Independent). One day before this, on the 20th, in an interview: Liezietsu said, “A whip has been issued to all NPF legislators in the Assembly to vote against the motion moved by Zeliang” Some hours ago, two things happened: Mr. Zeliang appointed another minister to his cabinet, taking the total to 11 (9 from the NPF , and 2 from the BJP). The second thing was NPF declaring that it will go to the High Court, asking for disqualification of all the 36 rebel NPF MLAs. As of today, of these 36, the NPF has suspended 11 and expelled 20. And, no, we have not forgotten Mr. Rio either. When Mr. Zeliang's cabinet was ready, then: Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio was also present at the swearing-in ceremony. There also seems to be some confusion: there is a party called the 'NPF Legislature Party' which supports Mr. Zeliang, but according to the Mint article we cited earlier, isn't a registered party. Then there is the question of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland; in the Mint article, the same NPF MLA who spoke about going to court against the rebel MLAs, also calls the BJP as an 'alliance partner'. But here, the NPF had broken ties with the BJP. So, what is happening? One school of thought links the Governor (a former BJP secretary) with helping to bring the BJP in control of the state. While another says that the BJP was a player in this, not the game-master. Mr. Liezietsu puts the blame on the Governor. However, we do have one question now to replace the one that is no longer valid. So, our questions for Nagaland are: Why doesn't Nagaland have its own Governor? Since January, Mr. P B Acharya has occupied the office of  the Governor, for both Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Six months later, why is it still the same? There have been no muncipal elections conducted in Nagaland since 2004. How will the cities and towns develop? If the above people are fighting so hard to stay in power, what is the reason? Is it to fight against ‘nepotism’? We all know better. So, a better question: just how much money and power is there in the CM’s chair? How much corruption? And if you haven’t noticed, women in Nagaland are not exactly on par with men. Or have not occupied even one seat in the Assembly, since its formation in 1964 till 2017. The only state in India to have that record. We will be waiting for answers. Or Godot. Same thing now. UPDATE: There are apparently two factions of the NPF now: the NPF Central (under Dr. Liezietsu), and the NPF Legislature Party (under Chief Minister Zeliang). Apparently, Mr. Neiphiu Rio was appointed ‘interim president’ of the NPF in a banquet hall. Of course, as a result, he has gotten himself suspended by the NPF again. Almost an exact year ago, he had been suspended, with the suspension revoked on July 13 of this year. So…bye, again!



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