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Odisha ZP election rules challenged

first_imgThe Orissa High Court on Friday took up a petition filed by a BJP Zilla Parishad member challenging the State government’s recent amendment to the Odisha Zilla Parishad Election Rules of 1994. A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Vineet Saran, however, after preliminary hearings adjourned the matter. Itwill be heard again on March 15. Advocate-General S. P. Mishra opposed the petition saying the amendment was made to ensure transparency and prevent cross-voting in the elections for the posts of presidents and vice-presidents of Zilla Parishads.Sukhlal Munda, an elected ZP member of Sundargarh, had approached the High Court challenging the Wednesday’s amendment brought in by the Panchati Raj Department stating that amendments cannot be made midway when the process of elections had already begun.New clauseThe new clause, which has been incorporated in the Rules, provides for appointment of agents by every political party and the election officer will allow the authorised agents to verify the vote cast by the elected member of their respective parties as is being done during Rajya Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party had earlier alleged that the amendment was brought in a hurry as the ruling BJD was apprehensive that its elected Zilla Parishad members may not vote for the party nominees for the posts of presidents and vice-presidents of the district councils.last_img read more

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Drugs worth ₹23 lakh seized in Goa; three arrested

first_imgPanaji: The Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) of Goa police on Friday arrested the suppliers and seized drugs and psychotropic substances worth nearly ₹23,26,000.Three persons have been arrested, and three separate cases under NDPS Act have been registered against them, Superintendent of Police, Crime Umesh Gaonkar told The Hindu on Friday. All the three have been remanded to police custody till Monday by a local court.The ANC received information on March 21 that narcotic drugs were being supplied in Anjuna, North Goa, by one Yusuf Bashir Mohammad from Chennai. He was found to be an alleged user and peddler of drugs. The police reportedly seized 75 gms of Methamphetamine and 10 LSD cubes weighing 40 gms from him.Subsequent interrogation of the accused led to the arrest of David Johnson, a British national residing in Anjuna. The police allegedly found 17 gms of MDMA and 32 Ecstasy tablets weighing 13 gms in his possession.“He is identified as the alleged main supplier of these drugs,” Mr. Gaonkar said. An offence under section 22(C) and 29 of the NDPS Act, 1985 has been registered against Johnson.After interrogating the two arrested persons, police came across another link, one Ganesh Dhonguram Pondir from Himachal Pradesh, who was arrested from Arambol beach in North Goa, after police seized 1,350 kgs of Charas (hashish), worth around ₹5.40 lakh, from him. The police have charged Pondir as the main source of supply of charas to drug peddlers. An offence was registered on March 22 against him, under section 20(b)(ii)(C) of NDPS Act.Following Johnson’s interrogation, police obtained some details, based on which it raided his rental house in Anjuna and allegedly seized 20 gms of MDMA, 40 gms of DMT, and 30gms of LSD liquid, all approximately worth ₹12 lakh. Separate offences against him have been registered under section 22 (C) of NDPS Act.Mr. Gaonkar said during these raids, a unique method came to light — that of lacing sugar cubes with LSD liquid. This trend had allegedly been adopted by Johnson. The police official said Johnson, who arrived in Goa from U.K. some time back, was allegedly the source of these drugs. He suspected to have brought a consignment of sugar cube laced LSD liquid, ecstasy tablets and MDMA with him from U.K.last_img read more

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Demonetised notes worth ₹3 crore seized in Pune

first_imgThe city police have detained five men, including a municipal councillor from Ahmednagar district, for allegedly carrying demonetised notes to the tune of nearly ₹ 3 crore.A team from the Khadak police nabbed the accused from Pune’s Raviwar Peth area late Thursday and seized over 48,000 demonetised currency notes in denominations of ₹ 1,000 and ₹500.The face value of the seized notes is around ₹2.99 crore, said senior police inspector Rajendra Mokashi, in charge of Khadak police station.Those detained include Gajendra Abhang (48), a member of the Sangamner municipal council in Ahmednagar, along with Vijay Shinde (38), Aditya Ghavan (25), Navnath Bhandagale (28) – all from Pune – and Suraj Jagtap (40) of Satara district. They have been booked under relevant sections of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017.“Acting on a tip-off, we caught the five men when they attempted to exchange the demonetized currency notes. Further investigations are on,” said Mr. Mokashi.last_img read more

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74.1% voter turnout in J&K’s Panchayat elections

first_imgThe first phase of panchayat election in Jammu & Kashmir on Saturday recorded a 74.1% voter turnout, with the Kashmir Valley clocking 62.1%, a quantum jump from the civic election percentage of 35.1 just 30 days ago.According to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra, the border district of Kupwara in the Valley witnessed the highest polling at 71.9%, while Ganderbal in central Kashmir registered the lowest 11.9%.“At least 5,585 candidates were in the fray for 420 sarpanch and 1,845 panch seats in Phase I,” Mr. Kabra said.Unlike the civic body polls, the panchayat elections are being contested on a non-party basis, opening a window for both regional parties — the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party — to have proxy candidates.But the National Conference’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani reiterated that his party “will stay way from the panchayat polls, too, but contest Assembly polls”.No violenceThe police said there were no reports of any militant violence or protests during the polling in Kashmir.In Srinagar, where one block was up for polls, 21.8% of the electorate cast their ballot.According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 85 sarpanchs and 1,676 panchs have already been elected unopposed in Phase I.The areas close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Baramulla and Kupwara showed more enthusiasm for voting. In Uri of Baramulla, Roshi Begum (100), wife of Mohammad Gazi, came out to vote with her family.last_img read more

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Vande Mataram to be a wider exercise

first_imgThe Congress government in Madhya Pradesh led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath is bringing back the singing of Vande Mataram at the State Secretariat in a new form. Its non-recital on the first working day of the month at SardarVallabhbhai Patel Park near Mantralaya earlier this week had snowballed into a political controversy in the State with the main Opposition party, the BJP, targeting the government over it. The government’s General Administration Department used to organise the programme for government employees on the first working day of every month. Under the new system, the singing of Vande Mataram will be a wider exercise involving the active participation of the general public and a police band playing the tune, said an official here on Thursday. The national anthem will also be sung apart from the national song.Showpiece eventThe police band will start at 10.45 a.m. from the Shaurya Smarak to Vallabh Bhavan playing different patriotic songs, with people in tow. Once they reach Vallabh Bhavan (Secretariat), the national anthem and national song will be sung, the official said. The aim is to make the programme one of Bhopal’s showpiece events, the official said.The new programme will be organised on first working day of every month at the Secretariat and at the divisional headquarters across the State. Members of the State Council of Ministers will take part in it turn-wise.The group recitation of Vande Matram for the government employees was introduced by the BJP government led by the then Chief Minister Babulal Gaur in 2005. His successor, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had continued the practice.last_img read more

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After U.P., NGT lens on Bihar hospitals

first_imgThe National Green Tribunal on Thursday directed the Bihar government to submit within two weeks the total number of hospitals and medical health care centres which generate biomedical waste. A Bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore also directed the principal secretary of health to remain present before it on February 25. The green panel passed the order after noting that despite its January 10 order to submit the total number of government and private hospitals, the State government only filed an incomplete affidavit which is “abstract” in nature. “The order clearly speaks that the details which are being sought from State of Bihar, since the year 2017, should be complete and authentic in all respect to be submitted through an affidavit. But the needful has not been done as per the direction. “Therefore, last opportunity is granted to Principal Secretary (Health), State of Bihar, to comply with the order dated January 10, 2019 in letter and spirit, within two weeks from today,” the Bench said. NGO petition The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life seeking execution of October 24, 2017 order of the NGT which had directed the State government to prepare a complete inventory of the units generating biomedical waste. “The Central Pollution Control Board shall ensure execution of this order. The State of Bihar and the Bihar Pollution Control Board shall file compliance report within three months,” the NGT had said in its order.last_img read more

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Embattled Psychologist Addresses New Challenge

first_imgAMSTERDAM—Facing accusations of misconduct, social psychologist Jens Förster has written another long open letter to defend himself, this time against fresh questions raised last week in a story in Science. In the statement, posted on his own website today, Förster says Science has misunderstood an e-mail conversation with a research assistant and suggests some people may be trumping up accusations against him for monetary gain.At issue are three papers published in 2009, 2011, and 2012. In a previous response to questions that an anonymous critic has raised about the studies, Förster asserted that these studies took place in Germany between 1999 and 2008, most of them at Jacobs University Bremen. But e-mails exchanged in 2009 between him and Pieter Verhoeven, a former University of Amsterdam (UvA) research assistant, cast doubt on that timeline. In the e-mails, obtained by Science, Verhoeven and Förster appear to be discussing how to set up some of the studies.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In one exchange, Förster initially proposed telling subjects that a fake poem used as a stimulus in one experiment was “Malaysian.” Verhoeven responded that this would not be credible and added: “I think it’ll work when we use a Eastern European language, like telling that it’s a Moldovian poem.” The 2011 paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, indeed describes the use of “an alleged Moldavian poem.”Förster, who recently resigned from UvA, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the Science story. But in his new defense, he says that his accusers err in concluding from the e-mails that he had not previously done the experiments. He says he had already called the nonsense poem “Moldavian” when he did the work in Germany, well before the e-mail exchange. After he came to Amsterdam in 2007, he wanted to do “similar studies at UvA that included both replications and extensions.” But he felt that Moldavian might be associated with negative stereotypes in the Netherlands and that Malaysian might be “both more neutral and more believable.” However, “after discussions with the research assistant I decided to take again Moldavian, among others because the poem sounded also to Dutch students more East European than Malaysian, and students considered Moldavians a rather neutral group.””I wonder why people publish doubts about my studies that are so obviously unwarranted and that do certainly harm my reputation,” Förster continues. Some of the allegations may stem from a lack of expertise, he concludes, but “please also note that for some people my case could be profitable.”Based on a statistical analysis of Förster’s data, the Dutch National Board for Research Integrity has concluded that the 2012 paper, which was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, can only be the result of data manipulation and constitutes a violation of academic integrity. It has not publicly addressed the other two papers, and UvA says it doesn’t intend to investigate them further. Förster was supposed to start a new professorship at Ruhr University Bochum this month with a €5 million grant from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; that position has been shelved while the university and the foundation look into the allegations.last_img read more

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Spain needs ‘major cultural change’ to do better in science, international panel says

first_imgBARCELONA, SPAIN—More cash and many profound structural changes—that, according to a panel of European experts, is what Spain’s national science and innovation system needs to become more competitive.A full report will be issued later, but on Thursday, the group released a six-page document containing its key messages. It says the Spanish government should raise its contribution to science and innovation to 0.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and argues for the creation of a national funding agency that gives out merit-based grants, more autonomy for the universities, and a major overhaul of Spain’s national research centers. Above all, what is needed is a stronger culture of evaluation and accountability, even if it means increasing inequality between universities, the document says.The report was put together at the request of the Spanish government by a peer-review panel of the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC), chaired by Luke Georghiou, vice president for research and innovation at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The report acknowledges “islands of excellence” in Spain, in particular a fleet of recently created research institutes that enjoy greater autonomy. But it deplores the “low” performance of the Spanish science system as a whole. The system’s main ills, it says, are fragmented governance, insufficient mobility of people and knowledge across institutions, a lack of effective science policies and research performance evaluations, and the private sector’s meager R&D contribution.At the top of the panel’s recommendations is to increase public spending for research to 0.7% of GDP over the next 3 years; now, according to a recent report from the Foundation for Technological Innovation, it stands at 0.61%, compared with 0.72% on average in the European Union and 0.97% in Germany. But the increase must come with a sustainable 10-year national spending strategy, so that institutes can plan their activities ahead; the institutions in turn must see the increase as an incentive to meet predetermined targets and implement structural changes.”The most pressing problem,” according to the group, is the human resources pipeline. Due to a near-total freeze on hiring, staff members at Spain’s research institutions are aging. To give young talent a career path, Spain could provide incentives for the retirement of senior researchers and introduce the tenure-track positions that were promised in the 2011 science law and again in the 2013 to 2020 science strategy. (Amid Spain’s economic crisis, they never materialized.) The report also calls for a “radical change” in the civil service to foster staff mobility, reward excellence, and promote the best researchers to leadership positions quickly.The panel says there is “an urgent need” to create a national research agency that distributes competitive grants and fellowships based on independent and international peer review—another unfulfilled government promise. National research organizations should be reorganized by merging some of them with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and some CSIC institutes should be relocated to universities, the panel says. Research institutions and universities should have more autonomy and become more accountable. The panel suggests that Spain initiates such “a major cultural change” by allocating 10% of its national funding on the basis of institutional assessments through international peer review.“Some hard choices may be needed here,” the panel acknowledges, “including a review of international commitments … and accepting that funding may concentrate in the best performing institutions.” The former would likely raise eyebrows elsewhere in Europe, where Spain has repeatedly gotten in trouble for not paying what it had pledged for international projects. Tying core funding to institutional performance would also likely be met with resistance.Spanish science secretary of state Carmen Vela welcomed the recommendations, Europa Press reported on Thursday. Raising public spending to 0.7% of GDP is “ambitious but reasonable,” she said. When it asked ERAC for the review, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, which oversees science, pledged to incorporate the recommendations in the government’s 2015 reforms. But on Thursday, Vela revealed little in the way of concrete new measures.Spanish scientists are skeptical that true change will come. “The suggested reforms require stable investment and political will, and both are lacking,” writes astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martín of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “Many of the recommendations in this report were already made by the science community in an open letter that ended up taped to the closed gates of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness,” says Moro-Martín, who recently returned to the United States after spending several years in the grassroots movement to improve Spanish science. Moro-Martín, who would like to see even more sweeping changes herself, notes that all parties in the Spanish Congress of Deputies signed an agreement in December to implement several of the panel’s prescriptions—except the ruling Partido Popular.“The good news for the Spanish government is that even in a crisis context, these reforms can be done,” writes Joan Guinovart, the director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, in an e-mail. “No more words are needed, now … is the time to apply the recommendations.”last_img read more

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New ITER boss promises to streamline management and repair ties with the U.S.

first_imgYesterday, the ITER fusion project announced that Bernard Bigot, chair of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, has been appointed its third director-general. Bigot, 64, is trained in physics and chemistry and has held senior positions in government, industry, and academia.When he takes over from Osamu Motojima sometime next year, Bigot will find an organization under enormous pressure. Construction of the giant tokamak reactor is in full swing at the site in Cadarache, France, and components are being churned out by factories of all the ITER partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. But the cost of construction has ballooned and will likely go much higher than the current official estimate of €13 billion, while the scheduled completion date has slipped repeatedly. To compound its troubles, earlier this year a management review blasted the project’s leadership, management, and governance.Earlier today, Bigot spoke briefly with ScienceInsider between meetings. His comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Q: ITER has made significant progress in recent years but has also drawn heavy criticism. What do you see as your biggest challenge as director-general?A: At the ITER council meeting this week we saw lots of progress on the site and at the different fabrication sites worldwide, it was quite impressive. A large number of different components are soon arriving and being assembled.My most important challenge as director-general will be the management. ITER has a central organization and seven domestic agencies but they are working too much on their own. As I told the ITER council, my role has to be seen as the director-general of the global project—the ITER Organization and the domestic agencies—and we must proceed as a single project. That is my main challenge and, I believe, it is a feeling shared by the council. It will require a real change in how we work. But in my current role I have worked for a long time with all the countries involved in ITER and we have a trust relationship, which may help.Q: A major criticism of this year’s review was that the management of the ITER Organization is complicated and top-heavy. How will you address that?A: We have to streamline the management structure. Everyone involved in the project should be the best professional in the right place. Professional capability is key and everyone should work as teammates with no consideration of nationality. We are now in the construction phase and it will be very challenging. We are past the early stages of design and procurement and need now to gather the best professionals for construction and act as a real team.Q: Few now believe that the official construction schedule is feasible. How will you get ITER back on track?A: It is another of the main challenges to come up with a definitive, robust schedule that is fully agreed upon by all the parties. The construction needs careful planning and it’s clear that the time marked down for the first plasma, 2020, will not be fulfilled. But how much longer will it take? It is what we have to elaborate in the very next months: to have a final robust planning. We have to be realistic.ITER is a new organization. It is not like CERN—this year celebrating its 60th anniversary—which is settled and stable and operates smoothly. When ITER began it had to start both a new organization and a new project, which makes things more difficult.Q: ITER has many detractors in the United States who are concerned about its rising cost and sliding schedule. How will you repair ITER’s relationship with the United States?A: I expect that when I take up this position next year, I will go to the United States to meet with the main leaders and explain to them our action plan. All of the ITER members, not only the U.S., are concerned about the delivery of the project. The only way to repair those relationships is to rebuild trust, based on a clear action plan. I hope and expect that this will improve matters rapidly.last_img read more

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Researchers applaud U.S.-Cuba accord

first_imgA new era in U.S.-Cuba relations could be a boon for scientific cooperation between the two nations. The diplomatic breakthrough between the Cold War foes, announced separately today by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, is expected to immediately loosen restrictions on U.S. and Cuban scientists getting together for joint research. It may also pave the way for U.S. organizations to sponsor workshops and meetings in Cuba and to export state-of-the-art instruments to Cuba, activities now essentially prohibited under U.S. law.“This is huge news for science,” says David E. Guggenheim, president of Ocean Doctor, a nonprofit that has sponsored marine research with Cuba. “These policy changes will go a long way to ensure a more robust science relationship,” said Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, in a statement.  (AAAS publishes ScienceInsider and has been working in recent years to promote science diplomacy with Cuba.) The new Obama administration policy, Leshner says, should boost collaboration on such topics as the spread of emerging pathogens like the chikungunya virus and atmospheric research on hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.The United States has imposed a web of sanctions, including a trade embargo, on Cuba for more than half a century. The U.S. Treasury Department prohibits most expenditures by U.S. citizens in Cuba, including tourism. In 2009, however, the agency relaxed its regulations to allow U.S. scientists to conduct research visits to Cuba under a general license. That rule is unchanged.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But the watershed agreement should still dissolve obstacles to collaboration, predicts Abel Valdivia, a Cuba-born marine ecologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The “huge difference,” he says, will be on the Cuban side, which has been very slow to process licenses for scientific ventures. Valdivia thinks pressure from the United States may incentivize Cuba to speed up the permitting process.More payoffs may come down the road. As part of a raft of U.S. measures, the Obama administration is initiating a review that could remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. That could remove a major impediment to research: the need for an export license to bring scientific equipment to Cuba. And AAAS and other groups are seeking guidance from the U.S. government on whether U.S. organizations will be allowed to organize workshops and meetings in Cuba.Scientists are already celebrating.  “It’s such an emotional day,” says Guggenheim, who has made 81 trips to Cuba. “I was actually just out marching in the street with Cuban students celebrating all of this.”Obama’s plans are likely to face stiff bipartisan opposition in Congress. “Congress must see a greater political opening in Cuba before lifting the embargo,” said Representative Eliot Engel (D–NY), the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement.  “This Congress is not going to lift the embargo,” vowed Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL), the incoming head of the Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a press conference. On Twitter, Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC), who will lead an appropriations panel overseeing foreign affairs funding, wrote that he would “do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba.” In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) said that “relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom.”White House officials, however, have suggested that some actions could be taken without congressional approval.With reporting by David Malakoff.last_img read more

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India Raises Concerns With Canada on Visas For Company Transfers

first_imgIndia has raised concerns over the changes made by Canada in its Temporary Foreign Workers Programme, making it difficult for domestic companies to send employees to their Canadian units on short-term visas, impacting services trade. Related Itemslast_img

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ACT Government Knew About Impending Student Crisis in April

first_imgHundreds of international students in Canberra held a protest demonstration on Friday against a policy reversal by the ACT Government that has now rendered them ineligible for state nomination of their permanent residency application.Read it at SBS Related Itemslast_img

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March of Hindi in the US of A

first_imgLanguages once confined largely to India and surrounding countries have started spreading around the world including the United States of America, along with their speakers. People from India have steadily migrated to the United States in the past half a century in search of economic opportunities, and in so doing carried Indian languages with them.Read it at National Herald Related Itemslast_img

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$328 Billion Piggy Bank

first_imgRemember the time you sent $100 to your favorite niece in Germany, or $800 to your sick mother in India, or the $1,500 to your son for his exchange program in Paris? The money you sent is part of the mega business of remittances, which in 2008 totaled $328 billion worldwide. The bulk of these remittances are transferred by foreign workers to family members for household expenses in their home countries. Remittances are the second largest financial inflow to many developing nations after trade and are bigger than even international aid or total foreign direct investment in India. For countries like Tajikstan, Tonga and Moldova, remittances constitute between a third to a half of their gross domestic product. They help fuel social and economic growth in many countries. Most often expatriates use money transfer organizations (MTOs), such as Western Union or MoneyGram, to send much-needed money to struggling family members back home.  The 25 million non resident Indians are among the largest migrant communities in the world. Not surprisingly, India is the world’s largest recipient of remittances, accounting for almost one in six dollars remitted worldwide. The $52 billion remitted by overseas Indians to India in 2008 constituted nearly 4.2 percent of India’s gross domestic product. Despite the recession, which analysts’ project could see remittances decline by 6.1 percent in 2009, the World Bank estimates that India received close to $49 billion in remittances last year.One of the reasons behind the massive surge of remittances to India is the burgeoning Indian workforce in the Gulf countries. In addition, technical and professional Indians in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia have become investment savvy and are investing in Indian real estate and the stock market to take advantage of the drop in prices and interest rates. Following the crackdown on informal money transfer services after 9/11, Indians are forced to turn to formal money transfer services and banks, instead of the informal exchanges of friends and unlicensed cash agents, whose transactions are not recorded in World Bank data. As a result of growing competition in this sector, transaction costs for formal money transfers have dropped markedly in recent years. The depreciation of the Indian Rupee by almost 25 percent against the U.S. dollar during the last three quarters of 2008 also led to a surge in remittances. The burdensome process of wire transfers and international money orders has been replaced by a plethora of choices in recent years. Today one can use the internet and electronic fund transfers (EFTs) to send money to anyone anywhere from home using a bank account, credit or debit card or PayPal. Firewalls, background checks on employees and encryption of personal information make these transactions safe. Money transfer options include MTOs, such as Western Union and MoneyGram, and banks, such as ICICI, CitiBank, State Bank of India, Wells Fargo andHDFC. Xoom and Remit2India offer internet focused services. Soon one may be able to transfer money using cell phones. Sujit Kumar Varma, CEO, State Bank of India, New York, says, “The bulk of the inward remittances are sent by individuals for the purpose of savings (as interest rates are higher in India), family maintenance and the purchase of real estate.” SBI is one of the largest retail bank players in the Indian market and handles the largest volume of remittances within the banking sector. SBI only handles remittances from its own customers or those registered with the bank, but the average size of remittances handled by banks tend to be substantially higher than those handled by MTOs, such as Western Union. SBI’s U.S. branches handled $450 million in individual remittances in 2008 and approximately $320 million in 2009 to India. The volume of remittances has slowed in the last two years, according to Varma, because of the downturn in the economy. “In the latter part of 2009, the decline in volumes can also be attributed to the appreciation of the Indian rupee against the U.S. dollar, which resulted in people postponing their non essential remittances.” While India is the largest recipient of remittances, the United States is the leading source of remittances. An estimated $47 billion in remittances were sent from America in 2008, according to the World Bank. This is more than twice that of any other nation except Russia ($26 billion).Nearly half of U.S. remittances ($25 billion) went to Mexico alone. According to Reserve Bank of India data (see sidebar), nearly 29 percent of remittances to India come from North America and 31 percent from the Middle East in 2009. This is a marked reversal from 2007, when the proportion of remittances to India from North America was greater than that from the Gulf. Thus, the recession marked a shift in the geographic distribution of remittances.  Remittances to India remained surprisingly resilient during the global recession. A Reserve Bank of India report in April 2010 reported that “inward remittances in India have not been impacted significantly by the global economic crisis.” In fact, notwithstanding the fiscal crisis in Dubai, where the construction sector was hit hard, with devastating impact on migrant workers, especially from Kerala, remittances were hardly dented. Many immigrants cut their own expenditures, by sharing accommodation, for instance, so they could continue to send money home. Western Union, the world’s largest money-transfer company, continued to experience robust growth in the India sector. Arti Kumar Caprihan, Vice President of Product Management, U.S. Outbound to Europe, Middle East and South Asia, for Western Union, says the primary reason clients remit money is to support family, living expenses, gifts for birthdays or weddings, education and to buy properties. “India grew 11 percent in revenues and 22 percent in transactions in 2009. In the Europe, Middle East, South Asia and Africa region, we saw a decline in revenue, but a 10 percent growth in transactions in 2009 compared to 2008. However, in the last quarter of 2009 it saw an increase of 6 percent in revenues and 8 percent in transactions. Business is healthy and has been increasing,” says Caprihan. The rally is fuelled by remittances to rural areas in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which contribute 60 percent of Western Union’s India business. Western Union has aggressively courted South Asian consumers in the U.S. market for years. “We are part of the Indian community and are experts in multi-cultural marketing,” says Caprihan. The most active regions in India for Western Union are Punjab, Gujarat and South India. In the United States, its largest NRI customer base comes from California, New York and New Jersey.Transaction costs and exchange rates influence the costs of money transfer services (see sidebar), but the ubiquity of agent locations give MTOs like Western Union and MoneyGram a decided edge. Western Union, once best known for telegrams, is now the world’s largest money transfer service with over $5 billion in annual revenues. It has 410,000 agent locations and centers in 200 countries, including 46,000 in the United States. In India, the company boasts over 50,000 agent locations and partners with 14,000 bank branches of the State Bank of India, Bank of India and HDFC as well as 8,500 postal service locations. MoneyGram, which is almost a fifth of Western Union’s size, claims 190,000 locations worldwide, nearly 22,000 of them in India. MTOs have the advantage of offering money transfer services all over the world. By contrast, ICICI Bank presently allows remittances only to recipients in India. Likewise, the internet money transfer service Xoom allows transfers to only India in South Asia. But banks have the advantage of being the only ones allowed to transfer outbound money from India. Remittance costs, which include a base fee as well as foreign exchange rate margins, are typically lower with banks than with money transfer services, but banks reserve the services for their own or registered customers. MTOs are far more covenient to use and speedier in remitting the money (see sidebar).The Indian money transfer market is highly fragmented with independent online companies, large retail banks and money transfer services like Western Union and MoneyGram. Reserve Bank of India data indicates that the market share of remittance volume is 55-60 percent with banks, 35 percent with MTOs and 5-10 percent with online providers. The MTO space is dominated by two main players — Western Union and MoneyGram — and a clutch of regional players who are prominent in certain money transfer corridors. Nearly 60 percent of India’s population does not have bank accounts, which gives companies like Western Union and MoneyGram a significant advantage. Western Union caters to nearly 6.6 million customers in India and 60 percent of its business in India comes from the rural sector. India and China combined represented nearly 7 percent of Western Union’s 2009 revenues. Globally, Western Union had a market share of about 16.9 percent in 2008 compared to 3.9 percent for MoneyGram.  Because banks handle larger ticket remittances, they have a larger share of the remittance market by volume, even though MTOs have a larger proportion of transactions. According to Ecommerce Journal, ICICI’s Money2India has a 20 percent market share of the bank remittance market in India, behind State Bank of India, which is estimated to control a 24 percent share. According to SBI’s Varma: “Agencies like Western Union and MoneyGram handle remittances on cash-to cash basis i.e. outside the banking channels. Such channels are popular for sending small value remittances. SBI does not handle remittances on cash basis and all our remittances are on account of our registered users and account holders. Hence, we strictly follow ‘Know your customer’ (KYC) guidelines.”Although the remittance sector has proven surprisingly resilient in the face of the global recession, it continues to be beset by grave risks on multiple fronts. There is still uncertainty about the economic health of countries around the globe and the hiring of immigrants has declined in North America, Europe and the Gulf. In the United States, for instance, thenumber of H1B visa applicants in 2009 fell to 46,700 against a 65,000 quota. By contrast, in 2007 and 2008 the quota was exhausted within days of opening. A growing protectionist environment in the United States is likely to result in thefurther tightening of immigration laws. Many Indians have already returned to India as the Indian economy offers them stronger prospects than the U.S. In addition, exchange rates, which proved advantageous for expat Indians at the start of the economic crisis, are turning as the dollar and the Euro are hammered. Finally, new technology could displace traditional money transfer companies and disrupt the industry as a whole.  Top 10 Recepients of Migrant Remittances 2009 (Billion Dollars)  Top 10 Recepients of Migrant Remittances 2009 (Percentage of GDP)  Related Itemslast_img read more

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Sikh Man Allegedly Attacked in Hate Crime Incident in U.S.

first_imgA 50-year-old Sikh man was allegedly assaulted by two white men in a racist attack in California last week. He was hit in the head with a rod several times while his attackers uttered racial slurs, saying “You are not welcome here,” and “Go back to your country,” reports said. The Sikh man’s truck was also spray-painted with the words, “Go back to ur country” alongside a Celtic cross, the Modesto Bee reported. The details of the incident were shared on the social media by an acquaintance of the victim. “Beaten with a rod on his head and they also threw dirt in his eyes…Fortunately he is okay physically due to his turban protecting his head…,” the Facebook post said. The incident, which took place at the intersection of Keyes and Foote Roads, is being investigated by the police as a “hate crime,” the report added. “This is a random despicable criminal act against a member of the Sikh community,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson was quoted as saying in the report. Sheriff Sgt. Tom Letras also denounced the incident as “a heinous crime” and said that they are “aggressively investigating it,” the report added. The sheriff’s report disclosed that the alleged incident took place when the Sikh man was putting up signs for local candidates, when the two white men, wearing black hoodies, came and assaulted him multiple times with a rod. The victim was in need of immediate medical attention and received treatment for bruises and cuts. He did not suffer any major head injury because of the turban he was wearing, according to the Facebook post. The name and identity of the Sikh man have not been revealed.Racial attacks on Sikhs remain a recurring crime in the United States, and incidents of racial crime have reportedly increased since Donald Trump assumed presidency. In March 2018, a Sikh man was called a “terrorist” by Steven Laverty, a New Jersey resident who was later charged with fourth degree bias intimidation, harassment for striking or offensive touching, and harassment for communication in a manner to cause alarm to the victim. Laverty had allegedly called the Sikh man a “Muslim,” and told him to go back to his country. In another incident that took place in March, a man in Louisiana was arrested for driving his car into a Sikh-owned convenience store. The Sikh mayor of Hoboken City, New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla, also acknowledged earlier this year that he and his family received death threats in the run-up to the election to the post. Ahead of the mayoral election in  November last year, racist fliers were also distributed against him in the city. Related ItemsCaliforniahate crimelast_img read more

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Kashmiri Muslims want Pandits to come back: Mirwaiz

first_imgHurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday held a dialogue with a group of visiting Pandits and discussed the process to start their return and re-assimilation in the Valley. “I assured the visiting Pandits that all Kashmiri Muslims want them to come back and live together as before. Kashmir belongs to them as much as it does to those who did not leave,” said the Mirwaiz.The delegation of Pandits was led by Satish Kumar and Nathil Razdan. Hundreds of migrant Pandits are in the Valley in connection with Mela Kheer Bhawani, which concluded on Monday.The Mirwaiz said he would help in “building a consensus among all the segments of people and will try to bring others on board too”. “We have decided to stay in touch and work on the idea to concretise it further,” he said.The Pandits expressed their desire “to live in all-community colonies and opposed segregated enclosures”.“Land prices are much high than before and individual plots and homes may not be affordable. Each district of the Valley should allocate land for affordable flats. Members of other communities can also buy flats there. We do not want segregation but want to live together,” the delegation told the Mirwaiz.Hundreds of Pandit families migrated in the face of raging militancy in the 1990s. While many set up houses in Jammu, hundreds of families are still living in different parts of the country.last_img read more

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