The Hustler’s Playbook: Hustlers Don’t Retreat

first_imgHustlers don’t retreat. They don’t surrender to resistance. And they don’t give up.Hustlers don’t surrender to setbacks, missteps, or failures. Failures are merely events; they don’t define a person. They are learning experiences to be used as feedback on future efforts.You know those mistakes you’ve made? You know those times things didn’t work out the way you wanted them to? That’s feedback. It’s not failure.Hustlers change their approach. When something isn’t working, the hustler changes their strategy, changes their tactics, or changes direction. They might take a more indirect path, but they move forward, always chasing what it is that they really want. Instead of retreating and accepting something less, they use their resourcefulness to find another way.You know you sometimes feel stuck? You know how you want to seek the comfort of giving up and accepting the consolation prize that is certainty? That is the sign that it’s time to change your approach.Hustlers push through the resistance. Sometimes the resistance to achieving your goal is so great, you want to go backwards. But a hustler is comfortable being uncomfortable, even when it sometimes makes other people uncomfortable. The last bit of resistance is always the most difficult to break through. Like when you are trying to do ten reps of the heaviest weight you can handle. All of the growth comes on the eleventh rep.Hustlers have mental toughness. They have the intestinal fortitude to keep going when others give up, give in, and go home. They are driven, and the force that drives them doesn’t allow them to retreat.Are you going backwards when you should be going forward?last_img read more

What You Must Do To Win

first_img Get the Free eBook! Learn how to sell without a sales manager. Download my free eBook! You need to make sales. You need help now. We’ve got you covered. This eBook will help you Seize Your Sales Destiny, with or without a manager. Download Now Desire to Win: You aren’t going to win if you can live with a loss. You are not going to win if there isn’t something burning inside you. The burning desire is the starting point of winning. You have to want it like you want your next breath. You have to feel it, like a hunger, an unquenchable, insatiable need, one that isn’t easily going to be assuaged.One or Both Opponents: You are also facing one or more opponents. You are facing a competitor who is trying to beat you, or you are meeting your most challenging competition, yourself. Much of the time, you are facing both opponents. If you are fueled by a burning desire to win, first you have to beat your apathy, your complacency, and your desire to seek comfort. Only then are you going to do the work necessary to win over your rival. Of the two, your opponent is the lesser threat.Preparation: Winners prepare. They train. They rehearse. They practice. They plan. The do the work necessary to put them in a position to win. The winner’s willingness to work harder than most anyone else creates an asymmetric advantage, a strategic mismatch, as well as a difference in skill. Winners commit to the process.Avoiding Unforced Errors: Winning requires avoiding losing because of unforced errors, those mistakes that could have been prevented or avoided. One of the most important ways to ensure you win is not to beat yourself.Firing Every Weapon: Losing is often the result of half-hearted attempts and half-measures. It is the result of holding back something that would tilt the playing field steeply in your direction. Winning may take everything you have in your arsenal. You may have deploy more of your weapons to win, but when it is the difference between winning and losing, you cannot eliminate using whatever resources are necessary to win.Exploiting Opportunities: One way to lose is to miss opportunities. You miss opportunities when you are so focused on what you’re trying to do that you don’t pay attention to the game. You win when you look for opportunities that provide you with a chance to create an advantage. You win when you recognize opportunities and are prepared to take advantage of them.Leaving It All on the Field: Some give up too soon. Some quit on themselves. Some are easily discouraged, and they lose heart. Winning tough contests requires you play with everything you’ve got, leaving everything on the field.last_img read more

BJP playing jingoistic games in J&K: Congress

first_imgThe Congress on Monday asked Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to explain what he meant when he said he had found a “permanent solution” for Kashmir. “Anyone with a nodding acquaintance with history knows what a ‘permanent/ final solution’ means,” said party spokesperson Manish Tewari. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, he said, was giving interviews “passionately advocating engagement with the Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan, saying it was part of the Agenda of Alliance it had signed with the BJP” (the PDP is a coalition partner with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir) while the BJP was “playing its own jingoistic game”. Mr. Tewari said his party wanted to know why Ms. Mufti didn’t quit the government, given the “ideological dissonance” between the two parties. “The Centre must first talk to its own Chief Minister,” he emphasised. Ominous toneFrom former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s promise of finding a solution within the framework of “insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and jamhooriyat” to talk of the ominous sounding ‘permanent solution’, the BJP had come a long way, Mr. Tewari said, adding that the Modi government must realise the “extreme damage” it was causing in the process. “This is a time to attempt to win hearts and minds,” the Congress spokesperson said, referring to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Kashmir valley. “When the Home Minister makes a statement, it is taken seriously. If he uses a phrase like ‘permanent solution’, he needs to explain it as the phraseology is disturbing… How can something that is pushing Kashmir to the edge help,” he asked.last_img read more

Kashmir set to receive hundreds of Pandits

first_imgKashmir is all set to receive hundreds of migrant Kashmiri Pandits on the occasion of Mela Khir Bhawani, an annual festival, in Ganderbal district in north Kashmir on Friday.Raising slogans Mata Kheer Bhawani Ki Jai, nearly 500 Pandits on 15 buses started their journey from Jammu to Tulmul on Thursday morning.Traditionally, the Pandits perform special prayers on the occasion of the annual holy day of ‘Jyeshtha Ashtami’ at Khir Bhawani temple at Tulmul, 20 kilometre from Srinagar. However, it became a low-key affair after a sizeable population of Pandits left the valley during the tumultuous period of raging militancy in 1989.The festival has also become an occasion of bonhomie between the communities as many Muslims set up flower and food stalls outside the temple for puja.J&K government spokesman Naeem Akhtar, whoo took stock of the arrangement being made at the Kheer Bhawani Shrine, said, “I appeal to the Pandits to visit the shrine en masse to revive the age old brotherhood. Local Muslims too are waiting to welcome their brothers. People need not pay any heed to rumours.”last_img read more

Denied an ambulance, Baghpat farmer carries daughter’s body on motorcycle

first_imgA farmer from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh was forced to carry the body of his daughter on a motorcycle after the district hospital did not provide him with ambulance, on Tuesday.Iqbal, a resident of Gauripur Jawahar Nagar in Baghpat, brought his nine-year-old daughter Reshma to the hospital on Tuesday morning after she had high fever. She died soon after the same day.“Reshma died because she could not get good medical care in time. With her body in my arms, I spent hours in the hospital requesting the staff to provide me with an ambulance. But no one heard my pleas. I waited for a long time in the hope that I would get an ambulance. But nothing happened,” Iqbal told the media.“As I did not get an ambulance, my folks got a motorcycle and we took Reshma’s dead body home,” he added.The chief medical officer of Baghpat Dr. Sushma Chandra defended the government hospital staff,saying no one was at fault. She told the media that Reshma’s family took her body out of their own will.The district magistrate (DM) of Baghpat Bhawani Singh Khangarot has ordered a probe into the issue. He said he would be able to comment only after he got the probe report.A Cabinet Minister in the Animal Husbandry department in the Yogi Adityanath government, S.P. Singh Baghel, who was in Baghpat on Wednesday, was furious after coming to know about the incident.“Even if an ambulance was not available in the hospital, the authorities should have hired a private vehicle and arranged a dignified journey for the girl’s body. This is completely unacceptable. I have asked the DM to quickly probe the issue and take action against the hospital staff  responsible for this,” Mr. Baghel told The Hindu. The incident comes two weeks after a man in Kaushambi district was forced to carry the body of his niece on a bicycle for about 10 km after he was allegedly denied an ambulance by a government hospital. Last week, a pregnant woman in her labour pain was denied ambulance by the district women’s hospital of Saharanpur.last_img read more

Army foils infiltration bid, kills two ultras in Kashmir

first_imgThe Army on Saturday morning said it killed two unidentified infiltrators along the Line of control (LoC) in Machil sector of Kupwara.The soldiers manning the fence at Goutum Post near LoC had intercepted a group of militants. “After being challenged the militants opened fire triggering an encounter,” the army said. Two infiltrators were killed, said the army spokesman. The operation is on, he added.Ceasefire violationsMeanwhile, violation of ceasefire agreement by Pakistani troops continued for the second night in Jammu. A BSF spokesman said during the intervening night Pakistan troops resorted to firing with small and heavy weapons at Sai, Treva and Jabowal forward posts in Arnia Sector in Jammu.“Indian forces retaliated. The firing stopped on Saturday morning. No loss of life reported,” said the spokesman.However, some livestock were killed or Injured. “Two houses were damaged,’ said the spokesman. A BSF personnel was killed in ceasefire violation on Friday night in Jammu. Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Monday allowed the NIA to conduct custodial interrogation of two men, including a freelance photo-journalist, for three more days in alleged case of stone-throwing in Kashmir Valley and mobilising support against security personnel via the social media.last_img read more

Ashok Khemka among 13 IAS officers transferred in Haryana

first_imgSenior bureaucrat in Haryana Ashok Khemka has been transferred yet again. He is among the 13 IAS officers transferred by the government.Mr. Khemka, who came to the limelight after he cancelled the mutation of a land deal between Robert Vadra’s company and developer DLF, has been transferred and posted as Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs.He has been transferred in less than three months after he was appointed as Principal Secretary of Haryana Social Justice and Empowerment Department.Soon after the transfer order, Mr. Khemka, who has seen as many as 45 transfers in his 23-year career, said on Twitter on Sunday,”So much work planned. News of another transfer. Crash landing again. Vested interests win. Déjà vu. But this is temporary. Will continue with renewed vigour and energy.”last_img read more

25 IAS officers transferred in Maharashtra

first_imgIn what could be a precursor to another major bureaucratic shuffle later this month, the Maharashtra government on Monday transferred 25 IAS officers, including controversial Panvel commissioner Sudhakar Shinde. The BJP-led Panvel City Municipal Corporation (PCMC) had moved a no-confidence motion against Mr. Shinde, who was facing pressure over transfer of the newly developed City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) nodes to the PCMC. The motion against the PCMC commissioner was rejected by the government this month. The timing of Mr. Shinde’s transfer indicates that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is buckling under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Prashant Thakur after he transferred Mr. Shinde as the CEO of the Mahatma Jotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. Meanwhile, the Opposition slammed the government for “frequent” transfers, while senior officials said they were “surprised” at the pace with which the government has been conducting transfers. “Frequent transfer are a trademark of the Fadnavis government. The officers are not even allowed to complete their tenure of minimum two years. We condemn government’s efforts to make bureaucrats puppets,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant. More transfers likelySources in the government said with the Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick due to retire in April end, another round of transfers could be expected. Mr. Mullick is likely to take over as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). Contenders for the chief secretary’s post include additional chief secretaries D.K. Jain, Medha Gadgil and Sudhir Shrivastava. Among others transferred today are S.R. Jondhale who replaces Sampada Mehta as Collector, Mumbai City District. Naval Kishor Ram will be the new district collector of Pune replacing Saurav Rao who has been transferred as Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation. The Commissioner of Nagpur Municipal Corporation Ashwin Mudgal will be district collector of Nagpur, Mr. Fadnavis’s home district. Lakshmi Narayan Mishra will be the new district collector of Washim district. Rahul Dwivedi has been shifted to Ahmednagar as collector. S.L. Mali will be the new Commissioner of Nanded Municipal Corporation and M.G. Adrad the new Commissioner of Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation.Shekhar Channe will be the new Maharashtra Transport Commissioner.last_img read more

In Kasauli, slain town and country planner Shail Bala’s colleagues still in shock

first_imgThe family of Shail Bala, who was allegedly killed at Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh while supervising the demolition of unauthorised constructions, says she “paid the price for her honesty.” Her colleagues are still in shock and continue the drive amid demands for better security. The incident has again spotlighted the non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions. “I am yet to recover from the shock of losing a colleague. Not just me but the entire staff members are in a state of fear. We are continuing the drive, but everyone is a little cautious now,” says Leela Shyam, a town planner with the Department of Town and Country Planning, Solan. “We have urged the administration to provide protection at our offices at Kasauli and Solan; otherwise, it will be difficult for us to do our duty…,” Mrs. Shyam says, pointing out that the drive has gathered pace. “We are trying to ensure that the Supreme Court’s order is implemented. Demolition is under way at all 13 sites. While government workers are at it at many sites, a few hoteliers have engaged their own workers to demolish illegal constructions.”An employee at the sub-divisional town planning office at Kasauli, who was part of Shail Bala’s team, said the killing instilled a sense of fear in employees. “I was in the team that harrowing day [May 1]. Vijay Singh, son of owner of the Narayani Guesthouse, was upset, but no one expected something of this magnitude would happen. I was carrying some documents with me and was far from Shail Bala when she headed to the guesthouse. The next thing I remember was watching her in a pool of blood. He [Vijay Singh] even pointed the gun at me, but ran away and disappeared in the forest,” he says. “ One police constable has been deputed to out office after the incident, and we are hopeful of better security.” Shail Bala’s octogenarian father J.D. Sharma says: “My daughter has paid the price for being an honest officer. She stood up to the powerful lobby of builders.” Her brother Madan Kant, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Mandi, says: “A day before the drive started, I spoke to her on the phone. She told me that the people she is dealing with were very aggressive.” “It is also a matter of probe that how these illegal constructions have been allowed over the years. Action should be taken against those guilty of promoting illegal constructions.” Mr. Kant reckons that the incident could have been prevented, had the administration taken precautionary measures. Sahil Bala’s son Piyush, a government medical officer, has expressed a similar view. Social activists in the hill town argue that the incident has again brought to the fore the non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions, which have grown under the successive governments in the State.“The incident has raised the larger question of non-implementation of laws to check unauthorised constructions over the years in and around Kasauli,” says Rajeev Kaundal, an RTI activist.last_img read more

Spiritual leader Dada J. P. Vaswani passes away at 99

first_imgNoted spiritual leader and educationist Dada J.P. Vaswani — the moral force behind the Sadhu Vaswani Mission and a tireless promoter of vegetarianism and animal rights — passed away Thursday morning aged 99, days short of his centenary.Sources at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission said, the spiritual leader has been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in the city for the past a few days and was discharged on Wednesday. However, Dada Vaswani died in the mission premises on Thursday morning.Born Jashan Pahlajrai Vaswani on August 2, 1918 in the city of Hyderabad in Sindh province (present-day Pakistan), he was a brilliant student in his youth. His M.Sc. thesis examined by Nobel Laureate, Dr. C.V Raman.Acclaimed as a humanitarian and non-sectarian leader, he later gave up a promising academic career to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Sadhu T.L Vaswani — the legendary educationist who started the Mira Movement.In order to propagate Sadhu Vaswani’s ideas and vision, he edited three monthly journals – the Excelsior (which became a popular journal), the India Digest and the East and West series.He also served as one of the earliest Principals of the St. Mira’s College for Girls. On the death of Sadhu Vaswani in 1966, Dada J. P. Vaswani succeeded him as the head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission.Regarded as a philosopher and a modern-day saint by the Sindhi diaspora, Dada Vaswani was a familiar face on a number of spiritual television channels.Inspiring oratorAn inspiring orator who often exchanged ideas with world spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama, Dada Vaswani’s addresses and lectures were marked by his witty parables and aphorisms that advocated practical routes to happiness in a materialistic world.He was also a prolific author, composing several hundred books on spirituality and communal harmony which have seen translations in a number of world languages including French, Spanish, German, Mandarin and Arabic.In May this year, President Ram Nath Kovind, along with a host of dignitaries include veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, had inaugurated the Sadhu Vaswani International School which is to come up in the city’s Pradhikaran area.“He [Dada J.P. Vaswani] has dedicated every moment to the cause of humanity. He has been an ambassador of Indian tradition and culture on countless platforms, within the country and abroad, including at the United Nations,” the President had said, speaking on the occasion.In August last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had wished the spiritual leader on his 99th birthday via a video conference.A recipient of the U Thant Peace Award in April 1998, for his dedicated service to the cause of world peace, he spoke from a number of global podiums including the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, the Global Forum of Spiritual Leaders and Parliamentarians at Kyoto, the U.N. and the British House of Commons in London.His mortal remains have been kept at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission for people to pay their last respects.last_img read more

NC, PDP irked at Governor’s remarks

first_imgJammu and Kashmir’s main regional parties — National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — seethed on Monday at Governor Satya Pal Malik’s remarks about their respective leaders and corruption in the State. Mr. Malik, in an interview, said that NC vice-president Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, both former Chief Ministers of the State, “agree privately that civilians should not pelt stones or rush to encounter sites but don’t say so publicly”.‘Owes me explanation’ “How does the Governor Malik know what I think about anything? Is he quoting a conversation I’ve had with him privately? Are my calls being monitored? Is my office or residence bugged? He owes me, if not Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba, an explanation,” Mr. Abdullah reacted on Twitter.“Let me say this publicly so that Governor Sahib is under no confusion — civilians should not throw stones & should not rush to encounter sites. I’m not saying this publicly for the first time and it won’t be the last time I’m saying this,” Mr. Abdullah added. On Mr. Malik’s statement that stone-pelters should be dealt severely under the law, Mr. Abdullah said, “We can’t treat stone-throwers as terrorists and randomly keep shooting them… Right now I’m curious to know how Governor Malik sahib knows what I think privately.”‘Defaming Kashmiris’Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar also questioned the Governor’s recent remarks on rampant corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.“The Governor’s frequent remarks end up defaming Kashmiris and vital institutions of the State and for him every Kashmiri is a thief. It is very unfortunate that he is grudging the people of Kashmir even for having a house. Going by his (Mr. Malik’s statements), it comes out that anybody who is owning a big or a small house in Kashmir has to be dishonest,” said Mr. Akhtar. He added that rather than making such sweeping statements about the entire people of Kashmir, there should be a list of such suspects, action is initiated against them, inquiry is held and those people are made to face the law.In another development, J&K Bank and the State Public Service Commission have denied allegations of corruption in the recruitments which the Governor had flagged.last_img read more

Goa govt. yet again seeks time to file affidavit on Parrikar’s health

first_imgThe Bombay High Court bench in Goa has directed the State Chief Secretary to file an affidavit on the health of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday, after the State government yet again sought more time to reply.The matter will come up for hearing next on December 11.The direction by Justice R.M. Borde was on a petition by Trajano D’Mello, who said the condition of the ailing Chief Minister was adversely affecting the State’s administration. Advocate Rohit Braz, counsel for Mr. D’Mello, told presspersons on Thursday that this was the third adjournment in the case on the State government’s request. “The matter was first fixed for November 26, the State government asked for time to file its reply. Matter was, thereafter, fixed for December 4 and again the State government asked for time to reply. Now we brought to the notice of the Court that there have already been two adjournments. Today [Thursday] is the third time they are asking for an adjournment. The Court has directed them to file their reply by tomorrow, that is December 7, and the matter is coming up on December 11. They are required to give us a copy of the reply by tomorrow,” said Mr. Braz. “If they don’t file a reply, I will be satisfied personally that they have nothing to say to my petition and they admit to its contents.” Mr. Parrikar is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer and has not attended any official meeting or function outside his private residence for more than a month now. Mr. D’Mello, in his petition filed earlier this month, requested that the court direct State Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma to have the Chief Minister’s health evaluated by a panel of doctors and release the medical report in the public domain. Mr. Parrikar has not been seen in public ever since he returned from New Delhi’s All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and was taken directly to his private residence near here in an ambulance. The Opposition has been demanding his resignation. Some coalition allies too have demanded that he hand over charge to one of his senior Ministers.The Congress has already launched a State-wide campaign called “Jana Akrosh” to “invite public attention to the collapse of the administration due the Chief Minister’s ill-health.”last_img read more

Another olive ridley nesting site soon

first_imgThe Odisha forest department is all set to add another olive ridley mass nesting site to its wildlife map.It has started preparing the beach at the Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district to lure the endangered turtles to come over for mass nesting next year.Around 3-km stretch of the beach from Sunapur to Anantpur at Bahuda rookery is being developed as a possible olive ridley mass nesting site. The Bahuda rookery is located around 20 km to the south of Rushikulya rookery coast, a major mass nesting site of olive ridleys on the Indian coastline.Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer Ashis Behera said the Bahuda rookery coast has been cleaned up once already and it will be thoroughly cleaned up again before the start of the mass nesting season in February. “The forest department has decided to fence off around 2-km stretch of the beach near Bahuda river mouth to protect the turtles during the nesting season,” the DFO said.Encouraging signsThis year, a few hundred olive ridleys had nested at Bahuda river mouth in February. This encouraged the forest department to develop it as a second mass nesting site for the turtles on the Ganjam coast. At present, mating olive ridleys are being sighted near the Bahuda rookery. It is being hoped that the turtles will find the beach conducive and their mass nesting number at Bahuda will increase in 2019.Marine fishermen in the area have been requested to refrain from using gill nets during fishing as that can kill the turtles. Fishermen near Rushikulya rookery do not use such nets. With the support of local residents, efforts are being made to reduce polythene pollution caused by tourists and picnickers at Bahuda river mouth to keep the sand clean for mass nesting.Local fishermen say around two decades ago thousands of olive ridleys used to nest at Bahuda coast, which for some reason diminished with time.last_img read more

Sambhaji Brigade objects to Padma Vibhushan awarded to Purandare

first_imgThe pro-Maratha Sambhaji Brigade has taken objection to the Centre’s announcement to honour right-wing history scholar Babasaheb Purandare with the Padma Vibhushan.The Brigade, along with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad, has strongly condemned the Narendra Modi government, alleging that the 96-year-old had falsified the history of the Maratha King Shivaji with mala fide intent.They said the work of Mr. Purandare, who is called Shiv Sahir (Shivaji’s poet), are often given a casteist and communal spin. He intentionally distorted facts about Shivaji’s life by glorying the achievements of his Brahmin guardian and mentor Dadaji Konddev and insinuating that Shivaji, his mother Jijabai and Konddev were of the same lineage. The outfit has consistently demanded the deletion of the allegedly defamatory paragraphs from Raja Shivchhatrapati, Mr. Purandare’s popular two-part magnum opus on Shivaji.“The only reason Mr. Purandare has been given the Padma Vibhushan is because he is a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hack and a champion of the Brahmin supremacist cause… It is shocking that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given this honour to a person who has repeatedly defamed Shivaji and Jijabai,” said Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade.Saying the Bharat Ratna and the Padma awards had been “utterly devalued”, Mr. Shinde said that the outfit will soon launch a statewide agitation if the award conferred on Mr. Purandare was not immediately revoked.“Going by the list of awardees, it is evident that those who have done the RSS’ bidding have been rewarded by the Sangh’s political arm, the BJP. We will be holding Shiv Samnan Jaagar Parishads at the taluk and district-level to expose Mr. Purandare,” Mr. Shinde said.Meanwhile, Mr. Awhad said that the BJP had deliberately rubbed salt on the wounds of Shivaji’s ardent followers “[We] will set Maharashtra on fire…this honour given to a falsifier is a shameful blot on the history of Shivaji’s life,” he tweeted on Friday.In August 2015, Brigade activists had vehemently opposed the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government’s decision to honour Mr. Purandare with the prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan award. Members had even pelted stones and damaged the office of Minister Ram Shinde in Ahmednagar district.The Sambhaji Brigade was in the political limelight in 2004 after it vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune in protest against American scholar James Laine’s book on Shivaji titled Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India (2003).last_img read more

Amarinder’s only aim is to put me behind bars, says Badal

first_imgWith the Lok Sabha polls round the corner, the politics surrounding the Bargari sacrilege episode of 2015 is gaining traction in Punjab with the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal getting ready to corner each other on the politically sensitive issue.A day after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hinted that a “high-profile” person may soon face action in the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing incidents, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday said the sole purpose of setting up the Special Investigation Team and the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission by the Congress government was “drama”.“Capt. Amarinder’s only aim is to put me behind bars. I am ready to offer myself for arrest any day, any time and anywhere Capt. Amarinder wants me to, so that the energies of the government machinery are not frittered away and the State can move on with the job of normal governance,” he said.Mr. Badal said Capt. Amarinder and his senior political colleagues have abandoned even the need to pretend to respect the law of the land and have been openly declaring the outcome of the probe even before SIT completes its investigation.“It was the same with the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission probe in which the Chief Minister declared me guilty even before setting up the Commission. He has now gone to the extent of declaring on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha that his vendetta will reach the ‘highest level’. Everyone knows what he means by ‘the highest level’. So why waste the State’s time on hypocrisy? I offer myself for arrest so that the State’s energies are not put to destructive waste any longer,” Mr. Badal told reporters here.‘Available for arrest’“I rang up the Director General of Police today and conveyed to him that I was available in Chandigarh for arrest and could wait if they needed time. Otherwise, I am available for arrest whenever, wherever,” said Mr. Badal.last_img read more

Indian ecologists decry decision on biodiversity hot spot

first_imgBANGALORE, INDIA—A long-running battle over conservation and development in India has taken a new turn. India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests disclosed on 27 August that it had shelved a report calling for aggressive measures to preserve the ecology of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a large swath of southwestern India that’s home to at least 500 endemic species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Instead, the government has adopted another set of recommendations that some ecologists say will do too little to safeguard the region’s biodiversity.Biodiversity in the Western Ghats has been under siege for decades. A 1997 study in Current Science found that the region lost about 40% of its forest cover between 1927 and 1990 to agricultural fields, coffee and tea plantations, and hydroelectric reservoirs. Habitat fragmentation has put endemic birds such as the Nilgiri wood pigeon and white-bellied shortwing and mammals such as the Nilgiri tahr, Malabar civet, and lion-tailed macaque on endangered lists.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 2010, the Indian government tasked a committee led by ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who founded the Centre for Ecological Sciences at Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science and served on the Scientific Advisory Council to the prime minister, to draft recommendations on how to conserve the Western Ghats. In their 2011 report, Gadgil’s team proposed that 164,280 square kilometers of the Ghats be declared as eco-sensitive, which meant, among other measures, phasing out mines, dams, polluting industries, single-crop plantations of introduced species such as eucalyptus for timber, genetically modified crops, and synthetic pesticides. This meant that mining would be banned in major iron-exporting regions such as the villages of the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, while hydropower projects such as the Athirappilly dam on the south Indian river Chalakudy would not get the go-ahead.Those sweeping recommendations did not sit well with the state governments whose territories include portions of the Western Ghats. To placate them, the Indian government commissioned another report by a group led by space scientist Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, who was then a member of India’s Planning Commission, a government body that formulates 5-year plans. The Kasturirangan Committee report, delivered to the government in 2013, whittled the eco-sensitive zone to 60,000 square km, reasoning that the remaining areas are cultural landscapes with human settlements that are already too large to be disrupted. These cultural landscapes would have fewer regulations and would include the mining districts in Maharashtra and Goa, and the Athirappilly hydropower site.Ecologists slammed the Kasturirangan report. In an open letter to Kasturirangan last year, Gadgil pointed out that several cultural landscapes, such as tea estates, harbor large numbers of endangered species such as the lion-tailed macaques and therefore need an eco-sensitive status. And having a small protected region inside a large cultural landscape, he wrote, is like trying to “maintain oases of diversity in a desert of ecological devastation.”  Other ecologists have complained that the Kasturirangan report omitted important wildlife corridors connecting eco-sensitive areas in order to protect migration routes of animals such as the Asian elephant. Sindhudurg, for example, lies along one such migratory corridor between the forests of Maharashtra and a tiger reserve in Karnataka.  But the Kasturirangan report authors respond that the Gadgil report is too sweeping and impossible to implement. “We believe you cannot turn back the clock on places where there are a large number of people settlements,” says Sunita Narain, who heads the Delhi-based environmental advocacy group, Centre for Science and Environment. And putting a moratorium on mining Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, where the livelihoods of people depend heavily on mining, or banning monoculture coffee plantations simply wouldn’t have worked, she says. “You can’t keep an indefinite moratorium on anything. You can only set conditions on how to go about development. That is what we have done in our report.”The battle hasn’t come to an end yet, however. The Goa Foundation, an environmental organization, has said that it will contest the government’s decision to reject the Gadgil report before the National Green Tribunal, a special body for resolving environmental disputes in India. If it doesn’t get a favorable ruling, the organization says, it will move to the Supreme Court.See here for more on conservation science.last_img read more

Coffee genome sequenced, caffeine genes abound

first_imgThe coffee genome has finally been sequenced, and it’s revealing some insights into how one of the world’s favorite drinks got its buzz. Compared with other plant genomes such as grape’s, the coffee genome has expanded the family of genes that include those that code for enzymes involved in caffeine production, researchers report online today in Science. There are 23 new genes found only in coffee, the group finds. These genes are different from the caffeine-related genes in chocolate, indicating that the ability to produce caffeine evolved at least twice. This isn’t just the first published coffee genome; it’s also the first in its 11,000 or so species family, which includes milkweeds, periwinkles, and the species that supplies quinine. Although the genomes of many groups have undergone duplications thought to make possible their diversification into different shapes and sizes, the researchers found no such expansion in the coffee group. Instead they suggest that the duplication of individual genes, including the caffeine ones, spurred innovations.last_img read more

Electric eels zap other fish via ‘remote control’

first_imgElectric eels produce the most powerful shocks of any fish. They can zap prey with up to 600 volts of electricity, enough to hurt even a human. But the serpentlike fish have an even more amazing trick up their sleeve, new research reveals. The eels can shock their prey from meters away, making them twitch to reveal their hiding spot and providing the eel with an easy snack.“It’s really a beautiful piece of work,” says biologist Jason Gallant of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who studies the evolution of electric fish but was not involved in the new research. “These findings were a total surprise to me.”To conduct the new study, Kenneth Catania, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, recorded electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) attacks on smaller fish, such as koi, in a large tank with a high-speed video camera, capturing 1000 frames per second. At the same time, he recorded the pulses emitted by the eel and the muscle contractions of the fish. When an eel senses the movements of a nearby fish, he showed, the eel releases a high-voltage volley of electric pulses that not only shock the fish as it’s trying to swim by, but also cause a massive, involuntary contraction of the animal’s muscles, freezing it in place. If Catania injected the fish with a drug that blocks communication between nerves and muscles, however, its muscles weren’t frozen. That experiment showed that the eel’s shock immobilizes its prey’s muscles by stimulating the fish’s motor neurons. It’s the first time a fish’s electricity has been shown to have such a specific biological effect in prey. “The eel is a swimming Taser,” Catania says. “The mechanism is the same.”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 that wasn’t all Catania found. He also noticed that when a hunting eel is pursuing a fish that suddenly stops moving, the eel produces a different pattern of discharges: two or three isolated pulses of high-voltage electricity. Catania recreated that situation in the lab by placing a paralyzed fish below a barrier in the eel’s tank. He showed that these electrical doublets and triplets make a fish twitch, giving away its location to the eel, which can then go into attack mode a mere 20 milliseconds later. In the study, published online today in Science, fish were only about 15 centimeters away from the eel, but it’s likely that the eel could induce movement in potential prey from farther away. “Each pulse of the eel caused a single muscle contraction in the fish in a 1-to-1 ratio,” he says. “It’s working like a remote control.”“It’s a fascinating example of evolution in action,” Gallant says. “The eel isn’t just applying a voltage to the water and hoping everything dies. It’s a very specific behavior that’s obviously been acted on by selection to be refined.”The ability to produce electricity may have first been selected for in electric eels, in fact, because it allowed the animals to reveal the location of prey, Catania hypothesizes. “Now that we know what the mechanism of the eel’s attack is, it’s definitely easier to ponder how it evolved.”last_img read more

Bat-filled tree may have been ground zero for the Ebola epidemic

first_imgThe source of the ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have been a hollow tree where children played—and bats roosted. In a visit to Meliandou, the Guinean village where the outbreak apparently started, researchers learned of the tree and linked it to one of the outbreak’s first victims. But, in a frustrating twist, the tree had burned to a stump just before they arrived, thwarting their search for evidence that might confirm the scenario.A year ago, a toddler in Meliandou died of a mysterious disease; soon, his sister, mother, and  grandmother were infected as well. As far as epidemiologists can tell, the family members were the first people to die in West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, which according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization has now sickened more than 20,000 people and killed at least 7842. But how the toddler caught the virus has been a puzzle. Before the current outbreak, there was only a single known human case of Ebola in West Africa. Human Ebola outbreaks elsewhere have been linked to outbreaks in wildlife—including duikers (small antelope), gorillas, and chimpanzees—or traced to hunters who butchered animals found dead in the forest. No one knows which animals provide the natural reservoir for Ebola, but bats are leading suspects. Several types of bats can survive experimental infection with the virus, and researchers have found Ebola virus RNA in at least three species of fruit bats. That made the animals—commonly hunted and eaten in Guinea—a top contender as the source of the outbreak.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(*)Soon after the outbreak was identified as Ebola in March 2014, wildlife epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin went to southeastern Guinea to look for signs of an outbreak in wildlife. Leendertz, with three more German veterinarians and eight Guinean biosurvey experts from the nonprofit Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, spent 4 weeks in the region, capturing bats from four sites and surveying two protected forest areas.The researchers found no evidence that wild animals were dying of Ebola, they report in a paper published online today in EMBO Molecular Medicine. The populations of chimpanzees, duikers, and other large mammals were at about the same levels they had been in the previous surveys in the region, conducted in 2010 and 2011—“good news for conservation,” Leendertz says. They also found no direct evidence of Ebola virus infections in any of the 169 bats (from at least 13 species) that they captured and tested. But their visit to Meliandou yielded intriguing clues.There, they found a large tree stump near a well-traveled path to a small river where villagers washed their clothes. The hollow tree was only 50 meters from the house where the toddler lived; children used to play in it, residents told the researchers. But on 24 March, the tree had burned, Leendertz says—and all that was left were the stump, fallen branches, and ashes. (It’s not clear whether someone set it on fire deliberately because of the Ebola outbreak. “There are different stories about why it burned,”Leendertz says.)When the tree started burning, there was a “rain of bats,” villagers told Leendertz—a small, smelly species with a long tail locally called lolibelo and sometimes “mice that can fly.” In the ash surrounding the tree, the researchers found DNA fragments that match the Angolan free-tailed bat Mops condylurus, an insect-eating species that is widespread across Central and West Africa and that fits the villagers’ description. Other studies have found that the species can survive experimental infections with Ebola.The toddler could have picked up the virus while playing in the tree, Leendertz says; he might have caught and played with an infected bat or ingested a small quantity of infected bat droppings. “There must have been thousands of bats in there. That is more exposure than you can get by hunting individual bats,” Leendertz notes. He’s disappointed, but not particularly surprised, that they found no infected bats in their samples. “The virus must be extremely rare” in bat populations, he says. Because bats are hunted so much, if the Ebola virus were widespread, “we’d see infections all the time.”Peter Walsh of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who studies Ebola in wildlife in Central Africa, says the evidence linking the outbreak to the bat tree is frustratingly indirect. “It is suggestive, but it certainly doesn’t rise to a ‘smoking gun’ level,” he says. The wildlife surveys were too small to convincingly rule out an outbreak in wild animals, he adds.Leendertz agrees, but notes that there is little intact forest around Meliandou, which would limit contact with wildlife. And the fact that children and women, rather than hunters, were the first people known to be infected also suggests that eating bush meat or contact with forest-dwelling animals is relatively unlikely to have sparked this outbreak. He and his colleagues are continuing to sample bats and other wildlife in the region—most recently from Ivory Coast, close to the Guinean border. In Guinea, he says, surveys aren’t possible at the moment. With the Ebola epidemic still raging there, “people are very suspicious,” he says—especially of anyone who wants to capture bats.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicinehave made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

The Onion Sutra

first_imgIt is the one ingredient that no self-respecting desi cook would want to be without. Whether you are making a Mughali feast or a frugal meal, onions are absolutely crucial.Onion shortages are known to have brought down governments in India. The rising prices of onions resulted in an electoral debacle for the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party in Rajasthan and Delhi in 1998. Last October as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh faced off with the Left Front over the U.S. India Nuclear Deal, a run on onion prices is among the factors that dissuaded him from calling a snap election. The portal Commodity Online noted, “Your daily staple of onions is putting the ruling Congress government virtually in tears these days.”A newspaper pointed out: “India consumes on an average 40 lakh tons of onion a year and the projected imports of around 13,000 tons, of which 3,000 tons has been sought by Delhi, would meet only a day’s demand.” Nor were massive imports from Iran the answer, because, according to shopkeepers, people wanted their pungent red Indian onions and not the little bland white ones available from Iran, Oman and Dubai.“Every time, the price of onions goes high, Delhi comes to a standstill because onions, potatoes and tomatoes are the backbone of Indian cooking,” says the noted chef Suvir Saran of Devi restaurant in New York and author of American Masala.Indians are passionate about their onions. But this tuber is rarely a star performer. It’s almost always a character artiste and sometimes just an extra, but it is the ingredient which gives the dish its punch, its pizzazz (any wonder it’s called piaz in Hindi!). Onions are the food equivalent of a feisty, over-the-top Amjad Khan in Sholay – essential to the action, but no hero like Amitabh Bachchan or Dharmendra!Be it a Mutton Biryani or Achari Aloo, onions are in the background, making the dish what it is. Occasionally, onions play a lead role, such as in onion bhajjias, in which the succulent, tangy sliced onions dipped in a batter of gram flour are deep fried into crisp fritters, to savor with mint chutney. More often than not, though, onions are invisible artistes – you don’t see them, but know the show holds up because of them.After all, what would bhel puri be without onions? Chole Bhature without rings of raw onion? Or Potato Rawa Dosa with the onions missing? Take away the onions from these delicacies, and it’s like a technicolor world has suddenly been washed out and turned black and white.Onions often are the Rodney Dangerfield – I don’t get no respect – of Indian cooking, but try imagining some of your favorite dishes without onions and you realize you’ve long taken this pungent vegetable for granted. The onion is known by many names in India – ulli in Oriya, villi Telegu, erangayam in Tamil, eerulli in Malayalam, neerulli in Kanad, kanda in Marathi, dungli and kando in Gujarati and piaz in Hindi.According to Suraj Bhan Dahiya of Agriculture Journal, it is one of the oldest vegetables in India and is cultivated throughout the country. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh are the main onion-producing states with Nasik, the biggest onion market in the country generally controlling onion prices and supply.According to Dahiya, Indian onions run the gamut of colors and taste and varieties, including red, white and yellow globe, white Patna, large red, Patna red, Nasik red, Yagiri or Bellary red and Dhulia. The more exotic varieties are white Portugal, silver skin, Australian brown sweet Spanish, red Italian, California early red, yellow Bermuda, Ebenezer and mountain danvers. Dahiya says: “The white skinned varieties are mild and good flavored as compared with the red varieties that are relatively more pungent, but keep better owing to the presence of catrechol and protocatechic acid in the skin.”Mad as Indians are over onions, the country that boasts the highest per capita consumption of onions, surprisingly, is not India. That honor goes to Libya, which consumes 66.8 pounds of onions per person each year. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), India is the world’s second largest producer of onions (China is first), followed by the United States, Turkey and Pakistan. Fresh onions are exported from India to many countries, including Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE, Sri Lanka and Bahrain.In Egypt, onions can be traced back to 3500 B.C. and were so valued that they were buried along with the Pharaohs. In the Middle Ages in Europe onions were a staple for rich and poor, and were regarded as a cure for headaches and hair loss – and get this, they were also used in lieu of wedding gifts and rent! Hmmm, imagine if you could pay for that Manhattan studio apartment’s rent in onions?Indians have a love-hate relationship with onions. Some communities can’t do without onions and others won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang noted in his visits to India between 629 and 645 AD: “Onions and garlic are little known and few people eat them; if anyone uses them for food, they are expelled beyond the walls of the town.”T. Achaya in Indian Food: A Historical Companion notes that onions were not mentioned in Vedic literature till 2nd century B.C. and then as despised foods that were forbidden to those seeking an austere life. Ayurveda regards onions as rajasic and tamasic, leading to passion and ignorance, and not suitable for those trying to meditate and lead a pure life. Onions are also thought to be an aphrodisiac and so not suitable for those seeking spirituality.Many Vaishnavas, Buddhists and Jains steer away from onions while Punjabis, Sindhis and Delhiwallahs have an absolute passion for them. This infatuation can be credited to the rich cuisine of the Mughals, which used onions in many meat dishes and biryanis. One celebrated dish in which onions are key players is Do Piazza (twice fried onions), which has several chicken, mutton and vegetable varieties.“In this dish, it’s all about the onions,” says Saran. “My mother used to make this dish with matar and onions. It’s the most beautiful green pea curry that you can have. It’s all about the sweetness of the onion and the peas, and the acid and the sourness that comes from the tomatoes.”Punjabis use onions as a thickener, as the savory flavor. They contrast a dish’s sweetness by browning the onions, explains Saran. Non-Punjabis often use hing (asofotedia) to get the onion-garlic flavor of North Indian Punjabi curries. Indian dishes use poppy seeds, sesame seeds and ground spices to thicken the sauce base to emulate the effect of onions.Onions are certainly king in Punjabi and Sindhi cuisine. The kebabs and curries of North India and the onion laden mutton and chicken sail dishes of the Sindhis are legendary. The community can’t get enough of onions and even vegetarian dishes, like Sindhi sai bhaji (spinach and vegetable stew) or sail mani (rotis cooked in a mint sauce) use an ample supply of onions.Saran himself is a lover of onions: “To me there’s nothing more beautiful than crispy, cold crunchy red onions with some fresh lime and cayenne. It’s the most beautiful condiment, especially when served with chole bhature.” He points out that since Indian cuisine doesn’t have lettuce based salads, radish, tomatoes and cucumbers, along with crisp onion rings, serve as the ingredients of Indian salads to accompany spicy Indian meals.Asked if onions were commonly cooked in his Brahmin household, which often spurn the vegetable, Saran says, “Absolutely. We make sauces with onions and tomatoes – dum ka masala – but only in certain styles of cooking. Not every dish on the table has to have onions. We always knew the dishes with the onions were more flavorful and more fancy dishes and the simple dishes were made without onions. Still in a home where onions are used, the majority of the food is cooked without onions – that’s the paradox.”While onions are a mainstay in meat dishes, some vegetarian dishes are also greatly enhanced by onions. Saran recalls his mother’s rajma (kidney beans) with the onions bhunoed (sauted) very dark and enriched with tomatoes. Another royal dish, made by his Brahmin cook, Panditji, was called khilwan urad ki daal. It was cooked like a pullao, so each grain of the daal is separate and perfectly cooked, almost like rice itself.“It’s yellow with the addition of turmeric, but it’s sprinkled with deep fried, caramelized onions and to this day, it’s my favorite lentil ever,” recalls Saran. “When my father and I wanted the one dish which made us both smile, we’d ask my grandmother to tell Panditji to make this. It is phenomenal and even in America when I make it in my cooking class, my students just melt and have a breakdown because of that lentil dish!” Happily for Indian Americans, America has a healthy supply of onions available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, and dehydrated forms. Onions come in three colors – yellow, red, and white. Approximately 87 percent of the crop is devoted to yellow onion production, with about 8 percent red onions and 5 percent white onions.Indian Americans are possibly the only community to buy their red onions in 10-lbs sacs and Indian grocery stores probably the only supermarkets to sell them in such large quantities. For the busy onion-addicts there are also bags of deep fried dehydrated onions from India and Pakistan: throw in a spoonful with tomatoes into a pot simmering on the stove and you instantly have thick onion gravy.According to the National Onion Association, yellow onions are full-flavored and are a reliable standby for cooking almost anything. Red onions, with their wonderful color, are a good choice for fresh uses or in grilling and char-broiling. White onions are the traditional onions used in classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed.The good news is that not only do onions taste great, but are actually good for you. In India as early as the sixth century B.C., the medical treatise Charaka-Sanhita noted that the onion was good for digestion, the heart, eyes and joints.The National Onion Association ticks of the many health benefits of onions: Onions are rich in powerful sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects. They are rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, as well as vitamin C. Onions are supposed to be effective against the common cold, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. They do contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant components, such as quercetin.Indians love their onion chutney, murabas, kachumbar and pickled onions. In fact, in the famous Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi all the rich kebabs and tandoori foods are served with wonderful, tangy pink onions and the tradition continues in Indian restaurants worldwide.From the dishes of royals to those of the poor in small villages, the onion adds shine to the food. When villagers have nothing else, they fall back on an onion and a roti. Says Saran, “It’s called Mukhewali piaz – they punch and crack the onion with their fist as the oils and juices ooze out; they will take haree mirchi or green chili and a roti with it – and that’s their meal.” The hathwali roti is shaped by hand rather than a rolling pin. It is thick and filling and eaten with a red onion, punched and succulent, it has all the drama of a great meal.Onions may make you weep, but as addicts will agree, they are worth the tears. DR. ONIONOnions contain quercetin, a flavonoid (an antioxidant compound) that delays or slows the oxidative damage to cells and tissues in the body. Studies suggest that quercetin helps to eliminate free radicals in the body, inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation, to protect and regenerate vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant) and to inactivate the harmful effects of chelate metal ions. Several studies suggest that quercetin is beneficial against many diseases and disorders including cataracts, cardiovascular disease as well as cancer of the breast, colon, ovarian, gastric, lung and bladder. Major dietary sources of quercetin include tea, onions and apples. Recent studies at Wageningen Agricultural University, in the Netherlands, showed that the absorption of quercetin from onions is twice that from tea and more than three times that from apples. In addition to quercetin, onions contain the phytochemicals known as disulfides, trisulfides, cepaene, and vinyl dithiins. These compounds have a variety of health-functional properties, including anticancer and antimicrobial activities.Onions are also a source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and folic acid. They also contain calcium, iron and high levels of proteinOther studies have shown that consumption of onions may be beneficial for reduced risk of certain diseases. Consumption of onions may prevent gastric ulcers by scavenging free radicals and by preventing growth of the ulcer-forming microorganism, Heliobacter Pylori. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that the more pungent onions exhibit strong anti-platelet activity. Platelet aggregation is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.A study in progress at the University of Wisconsin is examining other health benefits of onions. “We are beginning to investigate and, in some cases, confirm the potency of the onion as a blood thinner and platelet inhibitor. Onions may be among the vegetables that will be prized not only for their addition to our cuisine, but for their value-added health characteristics,” according to Irwin Goldman, associate professor of horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison.A recent study at the University of Bern in Switzerland found that consumption of 1 gm of dry onion per day over four weeks increased bone mineral content in rats by over 17% and mineral density by over 13% compared to animals fed a control diet. This data suggests onion consumption has the potential to decrease the incidences of osteoporosis. –National Onion AssociationONIONS – EAT IT OR WEAR IT!Indian folk remedies swear by the onion for sharpening memory, curing colds and clearing phlegm, not to mention strengthening the nerves. Eat it or drink its juice and now you can wear it for curing everything from earache to warts and muscle pain.Onion compressions are an age-old cure and used frequently in India for external problems. It seems they are popular in the west too. Lauren Feder, MD writes in Natural Baby and Childcare: “For colds, an onion pouch in a child’s room can help with congestion. Using a cloth or sock, make an onion pouch, securely tied. Place near the child on the nightstand, by the bed, or above the crib, and leave it overnight. You can also use sliced onions: simply place one to two slices on a plate by the bed.”ONION MYTHSTo cure baldness, rub your head with onions. The onion juice is supposed to cause hair to grow “thick as thistles.” You may have to sleep alone, but at least you’ll have hair!To keep your automobile windshield from frosting at night, slice an onion and rub the windshield with it. The juice will keep it frost-free!To select your husband-to-be from among suitors, write the name of each suitor on an onion and place it in a cool dark storeroom. The first onion that sprouts is the man you should marry!Before you grab a bag of onions and to test these handy tips, we have to hasten to add that these are myths -not facts – compiled by Linda Stradley, author of What’s Cooking America. But one thing is no myth – onions are at the heart of Indian cuisine.  Related Itemslast_img read more