13 July 2011Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, speaking during the unveiling of the Mandela Legacy Canvas at Cape Town’s City Hall on Tuesday, praised his fellow Nobel Peace laureate and wished him a happy birthday in advance.Tutu said South Africa was where it was today because of Nelson Mandela, who championed reconciliation.Mandela, also fondly known by his clan name Madiba, turns 93 on Monday, 18 July.“Madiba, thank you for being who you are,” Tutu said in Tuesday, reminding the nation that though there were still problems to be solved, “we have touched greatness.”“Let’s make this country one we are proud of … he (Madiba) said that we can reach for the sky, the sky is the limit, especially for the young people.”Mandela Legacy CanvasTutu, alongside Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, was addressing journalists during the unveiling of the Mandela Legacy Canvas.The canvas project was initiated during last year’s Fifa World Cup and featured the handprints of 67 celebrities, in line with Madiba’s call for everyone to contribute at least 67 minutes on International Mandela Day to help the needy.The unique artwork consists of handprints stitched together in the shape and colours of the South African flag. The canvas is edged with Madiba’s slogan of “Love, Hope, Peace and Unity” in colourful beads sewn on by crafters from Khayelitsha township.Nelson Mandela BoulevardDe Lille said that on Friday, in honour of Madiba, Eastern Boulevard in the city centre would be renamed the Nelson Mandela Boulevard.The renaming event is set to be marked with a sit-down dinner and stage production to celebrate the life and times of Madiba, and a charity auction as well as a mayoral announcement in commemoration of the former president.The mayor said that the 67 minutes of charity work, as desired by Madiba, should become part of the nation’s culture. She said that Madiba “gave us the instruction not to forget the poor … His wish is that the 67 minutes should become part of our culture.”Once the canvas was auctioned, De Lille said that the proceeds would go towards the Mandela Children’s Foundation and the Mandela Foundation as well as other charities.This year, the mayor will spend her 67 minutes at a home of the disabled in Gugulethu township.Tutu said people should spend the 67 minutes by doing “what God moves you to do.” That, he said, could mean “giving a smile to someone, or wiping a tear, or giving away R1 million!”Source: BuaNews
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Although many people have argued that rising carbon dioxide levels would benefit crop production, a recent model of the effects of increased CO2 shows that it’s not that simple and that elevated levels could have a much less positive effect on plant photosynthesis than previously predicted.Purdue University researchers tested the effects of increased CO2 and warmer temperatures on plant water use. Although increased carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures generally improve photosynthesis, in these experiments the researchers found that pores on plant leaves, known as the stomata, were predicted to narrow in these conditions, reducing the amount of moisture plants release into the air.Although this change may mean some plants are more efficient in their water use in some arid regions, overall this change in plant physiology will have its own climate effects, resulting in less rainfall in some regions, damaging plants and crop yields, said Qianlai Zhuang, professor of earth and atmospheric science.“This study reveals that while increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide can directly strengthen plant uptake of CO2, it can also reduce plant transpiration, influence global precipitation patterns, and increase warming locally,” he said.The research was published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Zhuang’s graduate student Zhu is the lead author on the paper.Lisa Welp, assistant professor of biogeochemistry in Purdue’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and a co-author on the paper, says that in many terrestrial ecosystems, precipitation is from water recycled to the atmosphere by plants upwind, affecting both precipitation and temperatures.“The role that terrestrial vegetation plays in rainfall recycling on land is often simplified or overlooked, but it’s a key player in determining regional precipitation patterns and, therefore, productivity in water-limited ecosystems,” Welp said. “If some plants reduce their transfer of water to the atmosphere by reducing transpiration rates, this results in regional declines in precipitation. It also results in local heating because evaporating water from plant leaves acts like an air conditioner, keeping surface temperatures cooler.”Overall, the effect is strong enough that there is no net increase in global agricultural production, Zhuang said. In fact, as carbon dioxide increases globally, the modeling showed that plant life in most regions of the world suffers considerably due to rising temperatures and decreased precipitation.“You cannot look at just one effect in isolation, such as photosynthesis, and make a determination of how it will affect global crop production,” Zhuang said. “There are both direct and indirect effects, and both should be considered.”Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Age, which began in the late 1700s, to the current level above 400 parts per million.Zhuang and graduate student Peng Zhu devised six model experiments using historic climate data from 1850 to 2011. They found that although a few areas would see improved plant growth — including parts of Canada, most of Madagascar, and the southern tip of India — other regions on the planet would suffer.“This study indicates that the net CO2 fertilization effect will be overestimated unless vegetation-climate feedback effects are taken into account,” Zhu said.This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (award number 1028291) and NASA (award NNX14AD91G).
Generous tax credits helped the oil industryThe tax credit covers a number of renewable energy investments, including not only photovoltaics, but wind, solar hot water, ground-source heat pumps, and fuel cells. For solar-electric systems put into service after 2008, there are no maximums on the size of the systems that qualify.The tax credit has helped the solar industry grow from $800 million a year to $15 billion a year since it first took effect in 2006, Resch said, with more solar equipment installed in the U.S. in the last two years than in the previous 38 years combined.Resch said that the average annual subsidy for the oil and gas industry has been $4.8 billion, compared to the $370 million for all renewable technologies. “I ask again,” he said, “How is this fair?”“Today, I’m going to make you a promise,” he continued. “As sure as World War I started in 1914, if the Koch Brothers and their allies come after solar, 2014 will be the beginning of World War III. It’s not going to be easy. And, yes, we will be fighting an uphill battle every step of the way.”Although the tax credit has only been on the books since 2006, he said, it has helped drive down the cost of rooftop PV installations by more than half and reduce the cost of utility-scale projects by 70 percent. Annual solar installations in 2014 will be 70 times higher than they were in 2006, he said.“The best is yet to come if we just stick together and work together to keep the ITC in place,” he said. The president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is promising to fight for the continuation of a 30 percent federal income tax credit (ITC) for solar equipment beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of 2016.Speaking to the opening session of the Solar Power International trade show in Las Vegas on October 20, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said the SEIA would lead the “Extend the ITC” campaign to keep the tax credit at its current level.He said the campaign would gear up in 2015 when a new Congress is sworn in, and told attendees that their livelihoods depend on the outcome.A single utility-scale wind turbine was installed in the U.S. in the first half of 2013, he said, because of a panic over the Production Tax Credit that helped build that industry. Thirty thousand jobs in the industry disappeared.“Don’t kid yourselves,” he said in the text of his remarks. “It can happen to solar, too. This isn’t the time to roll the dice on your future. You need to get into the game.” “No clear consensus” among lawmakersThe solar industry’s future may hinge on the success of the campaign. But, writes Thomas Jensen at Greentech Media, there is no consensus among legislators that it should be retained, while the investment community has its own qualms.Jensen, the managing principal and director of finance and capital markets at City Power Development Group, argues that institutional investors have been slow to embrace renewable energy tax credits, in part because they don’t have the long track records of other tax credit programs.More important, he said, big investors “don’t like orphaned asset classes, and they don’t like orphaned vendors. In other words, they’re not in the business of making one-off investments in one-off asset classes that are soon to go away with one-off, one-time vendors that may not be in business in two more years.”The “panicky claims” by the solar industry that it won’t be able to survive without the tax credit is actually a hindrance, not a help.“So with the solar industry caught in a Catch-22 partly of its own making,” he writes, “it appears the only solar developers likely to garner the attention of institutional investors during the final two years of the subsidy will be the ones able to make compelling arguments that they will survive the subsidy’s elimination and remain able to asset-manage these long-term investments.”
Badal Das is paying for his illiteracy and a possible clerical error made five decades ago. He hails from Kinna Khal, a village of mostly Scheduled Caste Bengali Hindus located 500 metres east of the India-Bangladesh border. Since 2016, when the Foreigners Tribunal (FT) 4, one of 100 across Assam, in Silchar first summoned him, Das has spent more than ₹50,000 on policemen, lawyers and middlemen who had promised to settle his case quickly.Silchar, the headquarters of Cachar district in southern Assam’s Barak Valley, is 40 km from Kinna Khal. Despite all the ‘speed money’, the FT fixed the first hearing of his case only in March this year. But luck was not on his side. Two days before his scheduled hearing, lawyers in Silchar began a four-month boycott of the FT over a fee dispute. On June 6, Das was declared a foreigner.Villagers pooled funds to help Das, 53, who barely earns ₹4,000 a month selling fish, file a case against the declaration. FT4 has called him again on July 27. “All I want is two square meals a day for my family of three. I am not sure what will happen to me a few days from now. I have nowhere else to go,” he says. The D-voter targetKinna Khal falls under the Katigorah police station, about 12 km away. Within the station complex is a weather-beaten cottage that houses the Border Police unit where sub-inspector A.H. Laskar heads a three-man team.Assam is the only State to have something like the Assam Police Border Organisation, or Border Police, dedicated to curbing illegal migration. Set up in June 1962, it was initially a wing of the police’s Special Branch, under the Prevention of Infiltration of Pakistanis Act, 1964. In 1974, it became an independent branch headed by an additional director general of police (ADGP).“Come after July 15 when the case is registered (in the FT),” Laskar tells Farman Ali and his wife Majlufah from Siddipur, on the outskirts of Katigorah. Their names are in the new list of 1,440 D-voters under the Katigorah police station. In Assam, a D-voter is a ‘doubtful voter’, disenfranchised by the government on account of his or her alleged lack of valid citizenship credentials.“My family of five are in the NRC first draft. We have no idea why our daughter [Majlufah] has been marked a D-voter,” says 72-year-old Haji Sofiullah of Teentikri village. He is convinced that the government machinery is targeting Bengali Muslims. As an example, he cites the case of Suleiman Ahmed in the adjoining district of Karimganj. FT4 in Karimganj had declared Ahmed an Indian in a 2017 case, but he has been declared a ‘foreigner’ in a new case.Laskar, one of the 3,153 retired soldiers drafted into the Border Police under a Central government scheme, says he feels the pain of the people who have been served notices. “But I have a job to do. I have to submit a report within three days of receiving instructions,” he says.The 1,440 D-voters are scattered among the 199 villages under the Katigorah police station, with the farthest being Natanpur, on the Bangladesh border 32 km away.“At least 500 D-voters are in Kinna Khal and adjoining villages. We are easy targets for a police force that has been given a monthly target to produce D-voters,” says Shanku Chandra, a businessman-activist who has taken up 50 cases of poor D-voters and declared ‘foreigners’ in his village.A senior Border Police officer admits that the district police chiefs are under pressure to deliver but claims there were no specific targets in terms of generating D-voter cases. “Call it pressure or over-enthusiasm, most people targeted as suspected foreigners turn out to be Indian citizens,” says Aminul Islam of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a political party that has been helping the “victims of the system”.Islam says that the harassment of Bengali-speaking people — be it Hindus or Muslims — has increased ever since the Supreme Court in 2005 scrapped the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983. As per this law, when it came to branding someone as a ‘foreigner’ or ‘illegal migrant’, the burden of proof was on the state. The Supreme Court brought back the British-era Foreigners Act of 1946, which shifted the burden of proof (that they are not foreigners) back on the individuals under suspicion.Non-Bengali Muslims too have carried the Bangladeshi tag. The Election Commission had allegedly, without investigation, marked Kismat Ali, 41, a D-voter in 2006, the year he cast his vote for the first time. He was served a notice, but when he failed to turn up for the hearing he was declared a ‘foreigner’ in an ex parte judgment. On August 12, 2015, he was sent to a detention camp in western Assam’s Goalpara, about 260 km from his home in Udalguri district. Kismat was freed on October 30, 2017, after having spent more than two years in Goalpara’s district jail, which doubles up as a detention centre for D-voters and declared foreigners. His freedom came only after he took his battle all the way to the Supreme Court.Ali’s father, Mukhtar, is originally from Uttar Pradesh’s Chhatia village. He had come to Assam in 1956 as a truck driver. But this information did not suffice for Ali’s older brother Yusuf, who has also been served a notice branding him a suspected foreigner. Sheikh Asghar, a 48-year-old carpenter from West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas, has a similar story. He was sent to the Goalpara detention camp in July 2017. His wife Shahnaz Begum, their 13-year-old son, and nephew Zishan have made up their minds to go back home as soon as he is released. “Uncle’s problem is that his father’s name is Sheikh Moral in some documents and Mohammed Jarif in some others. We don’t understand how we are ‘suspected foreigners’ when we have no property in Assam and don’t intend to stay here forever,” Zishan says.The system has also not spared some indigenous people, allegedly marked because of surnames common with Bengalis. One such is Anna Bala Roy, a Koch-Rajbongshi of Bongaigaon district, who was declared a ‘foreigner’ but was released after she submitted proof of her Indian citizenship. Her case came to the notice of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), which had spearheaded the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985. “We will provide legal help to D-voters who can prove that they are Indian citizens by submitting any of the 14 documents accepted as valid,” AASU president Dipanka Nath says.The agitation, fuelled by the paranoia that the khilonjia (indigenous) would be overrun by Bangladeshis, ended with the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection, deletion (from voters’ list) and deportation of illegal immigrants. But it bred xenophobia and an ethnicity-based nationalism that presented the bohiragata (outsider/non-indigenous) as the root of all evil. Victimised by clerical errorDas’ problems began soon after the Assam government launched the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The NRC was first prepared in 1951 using the particulars of everyone enumerated in the Census that year. Das used his father’s legacy data code, 310-4006-8764, to submit his papers. Specific to Assam, legacy data is an NRC applicant’s family link with names in official documents up to the 1971 voters’ list. But he ran into trouble because his father’s name read ‘Nokesh Chandra Das’ instead of ‘Nokesh Ram Das’ as was written in the refugee registration certificate of September 17, 1954. He had not realised that ‘Ram’ had become ‘Chandra’ in earlier voters’ lists when he enrolled as a voter in 1989 as ‘son of Nokesh Ram Das’.Also Read Most of the nearly 10,000 residents of Kinna Khal and the adjoining Narapati Colony, Subodhnagar, Chandinagar Part 4, and Salimabad belong to the fishing community. These villages are in low-lying areas locally known as ‘haor’. They remain flooded for eight months a year, as the Surma river beyond the Bangladeshi border tends to overflow.None of the 3,500 people living in Kinna Khal made it to the first NRC draft list of 19 million names (32.9 million had applied) published on December 31, 2017. They fear that they may be excluded from the second and final draft too, which is scheduled to be published on July 30. But why such a fear?“Ours is a flood-prone area and many documents have been destroyed by water. They (the NRC Seva Kendra or the NSK) have found fault with every single document we have submitted, be it the refugee registration card, the voters’ ID or the ration card. It is as if they have already decided that we are foreigners. This is our reward for living so close to the border,” says Kamal Krishna Das, who retired as a school teacher 15 years ago. He is in trouble for using his mother’s legacy data, which apparently did not match his credentials.A clerical error has also made 36-year-old Rasendra Namashudra’s life difficult. His wife Lakhi Mandal’s voter ID not only has her name printed as ‘Lakri’ but states her husband’s name as Bajendra Mandal. In the case of Bamacharan Das, 53, who runs a small pharmacy in Kinna Khal, the error is even more baffling. “A few letters here and there are understandable. But a very special system must have changed my name to an alien-sounding ‘Lakakagap Banre N’ in the voter ID,” he says.The NRC cowsEvery family in Kinna Khal has spent ₹10,000-12,000 to get their names in the NRC. The expenses pertain to a range of bureaucratic hurdles, from submission of documents to the family tree verification process. Some like Sanchita, wife of trader Manmatha Das, have spent much more. Sanchita had to travel to an NSK in Dibrugarh, about 650 km away. Similarly, fisherman Nikunja Das had to travel to the Mayong NSK in central Assam’s Morigaon district, 350 km away, because a person not related to him had used his father’s legacy code.Among the first to travel beyond Barak Valley for family tree verification was Upen Das, 55, of Motinagar, a village near Silchar. The marginal farmer was summoned to an NSK in Hojai, 260 km away, a couple of months ago. “A man in Hojai was found to have used Upen’s legacy code fraudulently. But Upen was called at a very short notice. He sold his prized possession, a cow, cheaply to fund his trip to Hojai, where he hoped to prove that he belonged to the genuine family,” says Aurobinda Roy of the Silchar-based NGO, Unconditional Citizenship Demand Forum.At least 40 others who were summoned to NSKs outside the Barak Valley sold their cows at less than half the going rate of ₹35,000-40,000 in order to fund their trip. “Cattle sold off cheap in a hurry have come to be known as ‘NRC cows’. The exercise to weed foreigners out has thus devalued the otherwise revered cow,” Roy says.But the fishing villages of ‘haor’ have no cows to sell. A few have sold their only asset and means of livelihood, their boat, while others have been supplying fish free to the people from whom they have borrowed money. Villagers at a National Register of Citizens verification centre in Morigaon district of Assam. Preparing for the worstZishan says he changed his lawyer when he discovered that the man had been fleecing his uncle. “The police and the lawyers make the most of the poor people’s ignorance. People are served notices arbitrarily and are made to run from pillar to post. If this is not harassment, how do you explain the fact that more than 90% of the cases involving D-voters and foreigners are dismissed?” says Kamal Chakraborty of Unconditional Citizenship Demand Committee.He cites the example of Geeta Namasudra, 65, of South Shingari village in Karimganj district. She was sent to a detention camp on August 2, 2015 even though she had the 1966 legacy data of her father. She was granted bail in 2017, but her family could not manage the two sureties of ₹20,000 each that were needed. Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, a local Congress MLA, has promised to get her out on bail.“The problem lies in the so-called investigation by the Election Commission and the Border Police. Its purpose is only to pander to the prejudices of the Assamese majority and the government, who believe that there are millions of Bangladeshis in Assam. Hence, if they don’t find Bangladeshis, they accuse Indian citizens of being Bangladeshis, grossly violating their citizenship rights and making a mockery of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” says Aman Wadud, who takes up cases of suspected foreigners pro bono.ADGP (Border) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta denies that genuine citizens are being harassed. “Action is taken according to inputs gathered from various sources. But our force takes care that no genuine Indian citizens are harassed,” he says.NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela says there will be three categories of people after the final NRC draft is published: those with their names in the list, people put on hold due to doubts about their status, and the excluded. “But people will get an opportunity to prove their citizenship through claims and objections,” he says.The fear that genuine Indian citizens could get left out was sparked by Hajela’s submission before the Supreme Court on July 2, which stated that about 1.5 lakh people named in the first NRC draft would be left out of the final draft because of family tree test failure, suspicious certificates obtained by married women from gram panchayats, and data entry errors.“The NRC is a pre-planned exercise to exclude the names of non-Assamese, particularly the Bengalis of Barak Valley. We fear the creation of a stateless people, who will then be exploited, as India has no treaty with any other country for their deportation,” says Sadhan Purkayastha of Citizens’ Rights Protection Coordination Committee.“The Brahmaputra Valley has always viewed Barak Valley as a cancer, and the rift between the two has only widened over the NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which, if passed, will grant citizenship to Bengali Hindus excluded by the NRC. So it is better to cut the cancer away and make Barak a separate State,” says Pradip Dutta Roy, founder-president of the All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students Association. In May, he had written to Chief Justice Dipak Misra about a possible conflict of interest involving Justice Ranjan Gogoi, a “resident and voter in Assam” who “is monitoring the NRC process”.Others, though, give the benefit of doubt to the NRC machinery and see how things pan out. “There could be some problems with people who cannot prove their citizenship, but the government has laws to protect the rights of everyone, even those who have sought asylum for persecution in their countries,” says Cachar deputy commissioner S. Lakshmanan.The government is also aware of the cost on declared foreigners. It spends ₹13 lakh per month on 885 inmates — 265 Hindus and 618 Muslims — locked up in six detention camps.“The NRC will impact many lives, particularly poor, illiterate Bengali people who had citizenship documents but did not know their worth or could not preserve them. Our central leadership will find a way out,” says Amarchand Jain, Katigorah’s BJP legislator.The ‘haor’ residents, though, are angry with the Bharatiya Janata Party for ‘false promises’ that Bengali Hindus would be protected. “We voted for them for nothing. The Congress at least did not needle us,” says Shyamalkanti Deb, a teacher. There are nearly an equal number of Bengali Hindus and Muslims in the Barak Valley, comprising Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.“The Muslims in Barak Valley are older settlers than the Hindus, many of whom came only during and after 1971. Many Muslims from here had actually gone over to what was then East Pakistan. The BJP’s pro-Hindu politics is behind the push for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. But for the Assamese nationalism that drives politics in the Brahmaputra Valley, Bengali Hindus and Muslims are the same — both are unwanted. That is why we are trying to set aside religious differences for a united stand against the disenfranchisement of Bengalis, which is what NRC is all about,” says Hilaluddin Laskar, a professor of philosophy in Hailakandi.Meanwhile, for people like Jitendra Deb, 60, a farmer in Kinna Khal, all that matters is his daily bread. “Our people came from barely a kilometre in that direction during Partition,” he says, pointing to the Sylhet district of Bangladesh 500 metres away. “They came here to escape conflict and persecution. We would rather die than be forced to go back there.” A paper trail that leads nowhere | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar. Suhagi Mandal spends sleepless nights in Morigaon district, Assam, as her family’s names are yet to appear in the National Register of Citizens (NRC). | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar
Many of the more dramatic changes we have seen in India in the last 35 years came after the liberalising reforms of the early 1990s, which affected everything from the TV we watch to the shoes we buy. But the changes are far from being wholesale ones or even entirely predictable.,Many of the more dramatic changes we have seen in India in the last 35 years came after the liberalising reforms of the early 1990s, which affected everything from the TV we watch to the shoes we buy. But the changes are far from being wholesale ones or even entirely predictable. Instead, they offer up more arenas in which to debate who we are, what we want and the kind of society we want to live in.We build malls and sometimes visit themFor a time, the Citi Centre mall was just a 15-minute walk from my flat in Mylapore, Chennai. On my way, I would pass old temples, a huge garbage dump and an open-air fish market. I would drink coconut water on the way, saving myself from an expensive carbonated drink once inside. The mall itself-an ugly, faux renaissance construction-towered above this varied landscape and sported a gigantic metal generator to one side. Most people came to the mall in cars or on motorbikes and the roads around it were always jammed. I’m one of those who don’t like malls. But I did like the air-conditioning from April to July and going from one shop to the next without being sideswiped by a motorcycle or lashed by the sun.The rise of the consumer citizenGone are the days of relatives bringing mixies, jeans and lipsticks from abroad. Everything is available here now and there are thousands of billboards to remind you of just what you should aspire to have. On one hand, there is a greater openness to the outside world and more awareness of that world by the common woman and man. On the other, the divides between the “haves” and “have-nots” look more severe and callous. We are told the good life will trickle down, yet, looking around even so-called middle class areas, while professional salaries and purchasing power have risen, the lifestyles continue to be subsidised by the low-wage labour of the service class.advertisementThe way we move aroundCheaper domestic flights have intensified social and business networks as north, south, east, and west are within a few hours of each other. On the road, we are moving faster and in bigger vehicles. But we’re doing so on the same narrow, pot-holed roads as before. So we topple over each other, get stuck in smoke-filled jams, and in our haste, crush into one another, making Indian roads the deadliest in the world. Meanwhile, on the Delhi Metro, one mid-20s commuter told me that now she takes the Metro to work instead of the bus, cutting her commute time to half. Coining a new phrase and sensibility, she called her new way of getting around, “Delhi up-down”.We are being watchedOn the same Metro platform, CCTV cameras watch commuters’ every move, or so they say. At airports, movie theatres, central markets and elsewhere, we are searched. The management of these new technologies has created new industries of surveillance and is directed by a new techno-managerial class. Individuals in this class who are corruption-free are held up as beacons of hope, yet corrupt practices are still the rule rather than the exception.We are on the world stage of literatureLate JNU English professor Meenakshi Mukherjee was ambivalent about the success and hype of Indian English fiction. With a hint of lament, she would speak of her students who all wanted to be the next Arundhati Roy. Novels have become a way to judge a nation’s cultural worth, and hence they are political and cultural emblems, which is why we debate every shortlist, prize and prize refusal, though only when an Indian author is involved.There is more English that is less EnglishLast year while teaching at IIT-Madras, two things became clear to me. One, all of my students were very smart and second, each had a different command over the English language. One of them explained it this way: In school, English was taught to them as a “subject” but never as a “language”. As English has gone from being a colonial language to a global one, more Indians speak it; lower-class and lower-caste Indians rightly demand it, but the question of how and if it will be meaningfully incorporated into the education of Indians remains unclear.We walk and talk and message and blogEnglish has enabled some Indians to gain jobs in it and at call centres, but much more significantly, cellphones and the Internet have enabled Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam and many more languages to flourish in new ways and move across borders like never before. In an average day, we speak at least three languages to different people for different things, often picking words from different languages to produce a melange that says it just right. The genius of Indian life surely resides in the multilingual reality of the day-to-day.advertisementWhat we eat has changed, and so have weFor 30 years, a great-uncle of mine owned two restaurants near his house in Nainital and took great pride in the fact that he never ate at either of them. We are known for being particular about our food. Yet, many have relaxed these restrictions and mark status in other ways. We eat and drink more kinds of things more quickly in more places than ever. But are we satisfied? Now, the middle classes are succumbing to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity, while the rural and urban poor are stuck with an extremely high rate of childhood malnutrition and stunted growth.We like to think we have replaced caste with classIt’s true that we look (and in some ways are) more alike as we sit side-by-side, from north to south, in salwar-kameez or pair of jeans, yet the vast majority of our marriage arrangements are still airtight, and who sits in an office and who in a slum still has everything to do with your father’s name. The post-Mandal Commission era didn’t bring back caste divisions; it just showed they never went away.How we say, “I love you”When it had been decided, in 1961, that my parents would marry, they went on a few outings to Connaught Place. Soon anonymous notes were slipped under the door of my father’s relative’s house, saying their behaviour was not setting a good example. Many years later, on a cool February evening, I was walking near the Delhi University campus with a female friend when three boys on a motorcycle stopped to grab at us. When we complained to a guard standing at a nearby college gate, he explained, “But madam, it is Valentine’s Day.” Earlier in the day, Hindutva activists had overturned chairs at the local Nirula’s to scare away couples and made a mess of an Archie’s card shop in Kamla Nagar market. The style of love is changing, but it still poses a problem.Rashmi Sadana is the writer’s book English Heart, Hindi Heartland: the Political Life of Literature in India is forthcoming from the University of California Press
(Phys.org) — Despite having a reputation for valuing intellectual prowess over physical abilities, scientists are nonetheless just as competitive as anyone else. Evidence of it exists in various fields of science as suggested by the assorted prizes that are awarded for those who achieve firsts in their particular realm of research. Also always popular are virtual contests to see who can create the smallest thing, or the largest, on in the case of aerographite, the lightest. This latest champion has been produced by a team of researchers at the University of Kiel in Germany. It’s based on carbon nanotubes and is being heralded as the lightest solid ever created. Overview of different Aerographite morphologies by controlled derivations of synthesis. Image from Adv. Mater., 24: 3486-3490. Citation: New carbon nanotube struructure aerographite is lightest material champ (2012, July 13) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-07-carbon-nanotube-struructure-aerographite-lightest.html Previous champions, aerogel, and then metallic microlattice were praised in their day for not just being the lightest stuff around, but for being strong for its size as well. Aerographite beats them both in both categories. Not only is it less dense (0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter compared to 0.9) but it’s stronger too, able to support over 40,000 times its own weight. And since it’s actually mostly air (99.99%) it can be crumpled down to almost nothing if need be because it will spring back to its originally shape without prodding. Because the new champion is four times lighter than the previous champ, researchers will be busy looking for applications for it. The current hope is that because it’s a good conductor of electricity, it can be used as an electrode in new kinds of batteries or perhaps in supercapacitors.The researchers created the new material by implementing a new kind of single-step CVD synthesis process based on freely adjustable networks using zinc oxide as a template, which in essence means, they found a new way to make the graphite grow in ways that develop into very thin strand hollow carbon nanotube structures that hold together to form a new kind of material.Interestingly, the team says that if enough of the material were made to allow it to be seen by the naked eye, which they say they can do, it would appear as a black clump of sponge-like material. They also note that they didn’t start out trying to invent a new material but found it came naturally as part of their research into three-dimensionally cross-linked carbon structures. Explore further More information: Mecklenburg, M., Schuchardt, A., Mishra, Y. K., Kaps, S., Adelung, R., Lotnyk, A., Kienle, L. and Schulte, K. (2012), Aerographite: Ultra Lightweight, Flexible Nanowall, Carbon Microtube Material with Outstanding Mechanical Performance. Adv. Mater., 24: 3486–3490. doi: 10.1002/adma.201200491AbstractAn ultra lightweight carbon microtube material called Aerographite is synthesized by a novel single-step chemical vapor deposition synthesis based on ZnO networks, which is presently the lightest known material with a density smaller than μg/cm3. Despite its low density, the hierarchical design leads to remarkable mechanical, electrical, and optical properties. The first experiments with Aerographite electrodes confirm its applicability. U.S. team creates diamond aerogel in lab by emulating Mother Nature © 2012 Phys.org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.