Enforcing a ban will not end the menace of stubble burning, say researchers

first_imgOnly educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year in Punjab, says a team of Swiss and Indian researchers who interviewed 600 farmers over two years. Burning stubble, the rice chaff left over after harvesting, is linked to winter air-pollution in the State as well as down-wind DelhiAccording to the team, the government’s efforts — earmarking funds for specialised farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the state-led ban on the practice — are unlikely to solve the problem.Farmer cooperative groups — a key link between government and farmers — ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers, say key authors associated with the study. Watch | Farmers continue to burn stubble despite ban Cheap solution“The main message is that farmers are not to blame (for the pollution crisis),” says Max Friedrich, a post-doctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). “There are deeper causes beyond economic incentives or awareness about the health consequences of burning at play.”On average, about 20 million tonnes of straw are generated in Punjab, and they barely have two to three weeks to dispose them of and prepare the fields for the next crop. Hence the popularity of deploying stubble-burning as a quick and cheap solution.For about a decade now, the Delhi and the Centre have held this practice responsible for the abysmal air quality in the capital in winter.In 2013, the National Green Tribunal issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh asking them to ban such stubble burning. The environment ministers of these States as well as top officials at the Centre declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble, which has been estimated to contribute anywhere from 7% to 78% of the particulate matter-emission load in Delhi during winter.The Centre has spent about ₹600 crore in subsidising farm equipment via village cooperatives to enable farmers to access them and avoid stubble burning. In 2018, Punjab had disbursed about 8,000 farm implements to individual farmers and set up 4,795 custom hiring centres, from where such machinery could be leased. The cost of hiring these machines was about ₹5,000 an acre, as The Hindu has previously reported.Mixed resultsHowever, the success of these efforts has been mixed, even though stubble-fires in 2018 were fewer than in 2017 and 2016, according to satellite maps by independent researchers.In their interviews, the researchers found that farmers who had bigger landholdings were more likely to burn straw; those who used combine harvesters (for cutting the straw) as opposed to manual labourers were more likely to engage in burning; and those who burnt or didn’t burn were equally aware of the steps and procedures required to abstain from burning, said Dr. Friedrich. On average, the input costs of farmers who burned straw were about ₹40,000 per acre and those who didn’t about ₹25,000 per acre but the incomes of those who burned and those who didn’t were closer — about ₹60,000 and ₹50,000 respectively.“There needs to be greater participation by village cooperatives in being able to impose social norms that would dissuade burners,” said Banalata Sen, an independent public health professional, associated with the study, coordinated by Ranas Mosler (affiliated to Eawag), the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), Hyderabad and Kethi Virasat Mission (KVM), Jaitu, India.center_img Farmers continue to burn stubble despite banVolume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:1501:15  last_img read more

BC Operators asked to bid on northern intercity bus routes

first_imgVICTORIA, B.C. – The Province of British Columbia, with support from the Federal Government, will be taking steps to ensure that people who live and work in Northern B.C. continue to have access to inter-city bus services.As directed by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, B.C. Transit is conducting a competitive process to extend northern inter-city bus services through to March 31, 2021.According to the Government, the request for proposal aims to select one or more qualified transportation providers to operate on the four routes currently serviced by B.C. Bus North. The Province says the RFP will remain open on BCBid until August 22, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time.Respondents are asked to state conditions that would lead to the inter-city transportation service to operate without government subsidies.All inquiries from interested parties are to be directed to B.C. Transit as outlined in the RFP.For more information, you can visit the BCBid website.last_img read more

Jabra launches new soft neckband earbuds in India

first_imgNew Delhi: Denmark-based Jabra, a subsidiary of GN Netcom that makes in-ear and on-ear audio wearables, on Thursday launched its Evolve 65e soft neckband earbuds in India with up to 13 hours of battery life for Rs 20,320 (excluding GST). The Jabra Evolve 65e features Skype for business certification that ensures users enjoy crystal-clear call and music quality. The earbuds also support eight hours of talk time. “Enterprises are constantly seeking new ways to enable their employees to be productive wherever they are, making UC one of the most important mobile technologies today. But if mobile workers are to use professional headsets, they will expect the same wearing-styles and form-factors, great comfort and range of features that they get from their consumer devices,” Holger Reisinger, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Jabra, said in a statement. The device would be available starting May at authorised Jabra channel partners and resellers. The Jabra Evolve 65e sports Skype for Business and UC-certification, courtesy its four-microphone system. With two in the microphone box capturing voice and one in each earbud, the device uses DSP algorithm to find the optimum voice-to-noise ratio for clarity.last_img read more

NATO Commends “Excellent” Partnership With Morocco

first_imgBrussels-   Spokesman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Oana Lungescu, commended the “excellent” partnership existing between Morocco and the Organization.Speaking to Moroccan reporters who visited on Monday Nato offices in Brussels, Lungescu highlighted Morocco’s leading role in establishing peace in Bosnia and Kosovo, stressing that Morocco is “a strategic partner which takes initiatives and provides particular contribution to NATO”.The same opinion was shared by NATO assistant secretary for political affairs and security policy Thrasyvoulous Terry Stamatopoulos who underlined that cooperation with Morocco is conducted in a pragmatic and open framework that promotes dialog as a means to establish peace and stability.last_img read more

Statkeepers Call the Shots But They Cant Agree on Them

In the third minute of added extra time in Tuesday’s Belgium-U.S. World Cup match, Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne took a pass in the box, dribbled to his right and hooked the ball into the left side of the net. Finally, after 31 shots, the Belgians had broken through. Or … wait. Was it 32 shots?It depends on which Twitter account you follow. ESPN’s Stats & Information Group tweeted that Belgium had scored on its 31st shot of the day. OptaJoe, the U.K. Twitter account of the soccer stats company Opta, said it was the 32nd.At the World Cup, shots are in the eye of the beholder. At least three major soccer stats companies are logging every match, and they have yet to all agree on each team’s number of shots and shots on goal. For every one of the 58 games so far, the companies can’t quite get their stories straight. Sometimes their counts have differed by as much as two or three.Even small discrepancies like these have repercussions beyond mere trivia. Advanced analyses of the sport, such as my colleague Benjamin Morris’s magnum opus on Lionel Messi this week, rely on match loggers for shot counts and characteristics. Some teams base tactics and personnel decisions partly on stats. And the disputes are proxy battles for soccer’s more philosophical debates: If a shot is deflected in a forest of defenders, was it on target?According to World Cup organizer FIFA, it was; but according to Opta and Prozone, two of the companies that employ analysts to log every match of the tournament and provide data for media coverage, it wasn’t. That disagreement is responsible for the bulk of the numbers mismatch. Through the round of 16, FIFA’s official match stats — which are being collected by the Italian company Deltatre — included 68 percent more shots on target than Prozone’s, and 74 percent more than Opta’s.1I used Opta data compiled by TruMedia Networks, which provides stats for ESPN. Prozone emailed me their match reports and other data, which — along with match statistics posted on FIFA.com — allowed me to compile shots and shots on goal for every match so far during the World Cup. Remove blocked shots, though, and the discrepancies drop to 4 percent and 8 percent, respectively.And what about a ball crossed in the box near the goalie — does it count as a shot or a cross? In the 120th minute of the Belgium-U.S. match, DeAndre Yedlin kicked the ball well wide of goal as the U.S. hunted desperately for an equalizer. Was he trying to score, or just to cross the ball? FIFA thinks the latter, but Opta thinks the former. Short of interviewing every player immediately after every subjective touch, the statkeepers are left to guess at the intent, divining purpose in actions that may have been performed instinctively, rather than with premeditation.With 58 of the tournament’s 64 matches in the books through Friday, there have been 116 opportunities to compare the three data providers on a team’s shooting profile in a match. There have been just 14 times, or fewer than one out of eight, that all three organizations counted the same number of shots and shots on goal for a team in a match — and none for both teams in the same match.The counts appear to reflect genuine disagreement over tricky cases — touches that look like passes to some but shots to others, say. Or, a shot that hits the post or crossbar and goes out. Typically these don’t qualify as shots on target, but they can if they are deflected onto the woodwork by the goalkeeper, who then gets credit for a save. If they are blocked onto the woodwork by a player other than the goalkeeper, that’s a block. The stats, then, pivot on an arbitrary criterion: Was the player who deflected the ball a goalkeeper or did he happen to play another position?My analysis showed that, overall, the companies weren’t consistently stingy or generous in their statkeeping. No provider consistently tallied many more shots or shots on goals than another. The major philosophical divide was over (unblocked) shots on goal: Deltatre sees more than Prozone, which sees more than Opta. But that amounted to only about one additional shot on target counted in every three matches.The disputes have touched every team, to similar degrees, but teams with less active offenses tend to have higher differences among statkeepers because one uncounted shot matters more in their overall percentages. These include the U.S., England and Cameroon. Analysts attempting to study whether Cameroon threw its matches, as Der Spiegel has reported, might get subtly different results depending on which set of stats they consult. So might England manager Roy Hodgson and U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann as they assess how to improve their teams.Discrepancies between data providers don’t stop at shot counts. Most soccer events are subjective. Someone must decide, was that a tackle? Was that shot weak? Was that attack a dangerous one? Possession stats also differ by provider, as Slate noted last week.Shooting stats have particular relevance for one form of analysis that tries to divine a team’s true skill by gauging whether or not they’re getting lucky. It’s a technique that’s based on the theory that generating chances is the part that teams can control — converting them is based more on luck (unless you’re named Lionel Messi). Teams that convert and save a high percentage of their chances are due for a regression in their results. Change the underlying data, and any conclusions about which teams are good and which are just lucky could shift.When I spoke with Garth Lagerwey, general manager of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, in a telephone interview last week, he said data discrepancies are a prevalent problem in soccer stats at all levels, not just a World Cup anomaly. When I contacted the companies, they declined to comment or didn’t respond to a question about why their numbers differ. In other contexts, they tout the training they provide to match analysts; the consistent guidelines they enforce across analysts, competitions and time; and the oversight of experienced checkers. Some shots just might not look like shots to everyone.Other sports’ stats also require subjective judgment: errors in baseball; assists in basketball. But in baseball and basketball, the official scorer’s decision is what goes into the record book and, generally, what fuels advanced statistical analysis. In soccer, with different leagues and competitions worldwide at varying levels of stats sophistication, third parties with standardized methods report alternative numbers to the official ones. Opta and Prozone are scoring every match alongside the official scorers and releasing their numbers in real time to media organizations — hence the potential for conflicting tweets like those about Tuesday’s Belgium-U.S. match.2ESPN Stats & Info typically uses FIFA for shot counts, and Opta stats — via TruMedia — for everything else.“Shots should not be that subjective, let alone shots on goal,” Lagerwey said. On the other hand, “A lot of companies use human beings to code this stuff. It’s easy to understand how you’re going to have an error rate.” read more

Ronaldos move to Juventus is to keep him motivated – Kaka

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo’s shock move to Juventus has left many people baffled, in light of everything he has achieved at Real Madrid, but Kaka believes the success he has enjoyed over the years is what has prompted him to make the brave move away in order to remain motivatedThe five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be unveiled as a Juventus player later today following a glorious nine-year spell at Real, that had seen him win four Champions League titles and score 450 goals in just 438 games.Leaving one’s comfort zone for the unknown is something that many people choose to avoid in their lifetimes.But for someone like Ronaldo, who constantly looks for ways to better himself, it is just another way of pursuing their ultimate goal of becoming the best of all time.And Kaka has backed the Portuguese star and feels that now is the right time for Ronaldo to try something new at this stage of his career.“I think Cristiano is a very experienced player now, 33 years old so he knows and understands the situation very well,” said the Brazilian, according to Goal.“This decision to move from Madrid to Juventus, it’s a very conscious decision. He knows [it’s] time to move.“[He’s probably thinking] I achieved everything I could with Real Madrid and now it’s time to do something different to keep motivated.Franck Ribery, FiorentinaFiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.“That’s what moved him to accept the offer from Juve to change from Real Madrid to the Italian team.”While spending €112m for a 33-year-old seems rather risky, Kaka feels that it is a good investment for Juventus.When asked if the Serie A giants will be getting one of football’s greatest-ever plays, he replied: “I think so. Ronaldo, with his numbers, says that.“Everybody who had the privilege to watch him play… in my case, I had the privilege of training with him every day for four years.“I saw how professional he is, how strong he is, how motivated he is, how strong in his mind he is, and [can] see that he still wants to get to a different level.“I think Ronaldo will be remembered as one of the best players in the world.”Ronaldo has arrived for his medical at Juventus and will be holding his first press conference, since the announcement last week, later today.last_img read more

Sarri unconcerned by Chelsea defeat

first_imgChelsea manager Maurizio Sarri dismissed the significance of their defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night due to the fact that their rivals were better prepared for the encounterThe Blues had a promising start at Dublin with Antonio Rudiger giving the club a sixth-minute lead over their London rivals when his header found the back of the net.But, following Alvaro Morata’s penalty-miss, Chelsea’s early dominance began to gradually decline with Arsenal grabbing a very late equaliser through Alexandre Lacazette in the third-minute of injury time to force a penalty shoot-out.After the first 11 penalties were all taken perfectly, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s miss proved to be decisive with Arsenal leaving Ireland with a 6-5 win.However, due to Chelsea’s late start in their pre-season preparations, Sarri was still “really happy” with his new side.“We had our first training on 16 July,” he told the club website.Maurizio Sarri, JuventusMaurizio Sarri satisfied despite Juventus’ draw at Fiorentina Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Maurizio Sarri was satisfied with Juventus’ performance on Saturday afternoon after finishing a tough game at Fiorentina 0-0.“We were late compared to Arsenal’s physical condition. We did very well in the first half. We made a mistake in the last minute, but I’m really happy with the performance.”As for Morata’s penalty-miss, Sarri suggested that the birth of his twins on Saturday might have had an impact.“I don’t know if he is not confident. Maybe he was tired. The last three days for him were very intense, so maybe this match he was a bit tired. I am not worried about Morata,” he said.Next up for Chelsea is the Community Shield against Manchester City on Sunday.“The starting XI today is very near to the starting XI in the Community Shield,” added Sarri.last_img read more

Luka Modric launches a scathing attack on Simeone

first_imgReal Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has responded to the criticisms of Atletico Madrid’s manager Diego Simeone on him and his teammates.In the midfielder’s first interview since winning the Ballon d’Or earlier this month, the 33-year-old spoke of the manager’s disparaging comments about the award and Madrid.“I understand why Simeone has defended his own players,” Modric told Croatian outlet Sportske Novosti, as cited by Football Espana.“I understand why he believes Griezmann was the best but in doing so he feels the need to disparage Real Madrid and the players here.Luka Modric, Real MadridReal Madrid suffer a Luka Modric injury blow Andrew Smyth – September 12, 2019 Real Madrid have announced that Luka Modric has suffered an adductor injury, which could rule him out of some key fixtures.“There are suggestions that there is something else behind why Madrid players win these trophies, and that is not the case.“I have a lot of respect for Atletico and Simeone, their players and their fans – they are a great club and whey they defeat us, I acknowledge it and congratulate them.“But we have been hugely successful too, we have beaten them in two finals and it is not fair to say these achievements are due to favoritism.”last_img read more

Zidane is the best man for Manchester United job – Saha

first_imgFormer Manchester United striker Louis Saha believes Zinedine Zidane is the right manager to lead Manchester United to glory after Jose Mourinho was sacked.The former French International says Zidane who led Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles before leaving will bring a new dimension to the team.In an interview with Omnisport via FourFourTwo, Saha backed former France team-mate Zidane to succeed at Old Trafford. .“For me, I am a supporter of Zidane in relation to the man,” Saha said. “He was an exceptional player, the coach, there is no equivalent.“In communication he has made a lot of progress. When I hear him talking, it’s incredible.Dani Ceballos, the most underrated Spanish player today Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 13, 2019 We’ve been looking for the next great Spanish player and we had him under our noses all along, meet underrated Dani Ceballos.Even though you’ve…“He breathes football, he is a passionate person, who has all the qualities to be respected. He knows how to balance attack and defence.“At Real Madrid, he had three offensive monsters, and he has to make the link with the defence. It’s huge.“For me it’s the best choice for United. I think he will have the support of the supporters, the staff, the president because he deserves it. And we’re going to give him time.”Zidane is no manager of any club at the moment and could take the job if both parties agree.last_img read more

Many in Bahamas Public Sector going home near broke

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppNassau, Bahamas – November 28, 2017 – Civil Servants wants government to relax its policy on how much of their salary can be assigned to lending institutions; it is currently set at 75% and Marlon Johnson, at the Ministry of Finance says the measure is in place so that government workers do not increasingly become the working poor.Johnson told media he is inundated with requests waive the 25% and that a recent memorandum to Permanent Secretaries of the various ministries was designed to reinforce the policy and to state that it would only be bypassed for medical emergencies.  Johnson said when the measure was established, some government workers were taking home less than $50 a month.The acting Financial Secretary says this is a problem, “Many Bahamians have fallen into the so-called ‘debt trap’, where the ‘take home’ portion of their salaries is minimal because so much has already been committed to salary deductions that service loan payments to banks and other lenders.This leaves them unable to afford basic, every day necessities essential for living, such as food and water, and the payment of utility bills”  The 75 per cent ‘limit’, “means that at a minimum your non-committed salary should be at least 25 per cent of your gross earnings”, had been in place for “at least 20 years” across successive administrations. Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more

DavisMonthan AFB to Partner with Local Universities

first_imgLeaders from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Tucson-area organizations held a signing ceremony Monday for new initiatives covering partnerships with local universities and municipalities.The collaborations will benefit the installation by stretching its dollars and allowing it to leverage the know-how of its host community, said Col. James Meger, commander of the 355th Fighter Wing.“This is really important, because it’s the integration of the partnership of the community and the military installation,” Meger said.Two of the initiatives are with the University of Arizona, reported Air Force Times. Under one, linguists at Davis-Monthan will mentor the university’s foreign language students during special events. The other, which also involves Pima Community College, will provide students with on-base internships.A third effort will establish an emergency response communication partnership. Officials also created a steering committee to consider new initiatives under the Air Force Community Partnership program.“It’s really about growing our relationships and protecting the base,” said Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson. “If D-M goes away, a good piece of our economy goes away,” she said.Installation and community officials initially proposed about 40 partnerships, but many were shelved due to security or financial factors, according to the story. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Delta Plan gateway to widen ties on maritime dev Dutch envoy

first_imgDutch ambassador to Bangladesh Harry Verweij interacts with diplomatic reporters at ‘DCAB Talk’ in Dhaka on Sunday, 5 May 2019. Photo UNBThe Netherlands has said the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 will be one of the important gateways to galvanise their efforts in broadening the scope of bilateral cooperation in areas like maritime development and inland water transport, reports UNB.”Bangladeshi and the Dutch are longtime friends. We’ve a lot in common. The most prominent similarity is that we’re low-lying nations where big rivers end in the sea. We’re Delta nations,” Dutch ambassador to Bangladesh Harry Verweij told diplomatic correspondents at ‘DCAB Talk’ in Dhaka on Sunday.He said the Netherlands private sector hopefully can play a role in these areas and Dutch companies are currently engaged in port development in Chittagong and Payra.At the same time, the ambassador said, the Netherlands supports capacity development and knowledge generation for maritime development.Verweij said their experience has led to a fundamental Dutch commitment to Bangladesh on its long-term vision for development –the Delta Plan. “It’s close to both of our hearts and minds.”The cooperation on the implementation of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 is not just a potentiality for a distant future but a reality at this very moment, he said.At present, Dutch and Bangladeshi teams are working together making coordinated implementation of the plan possible.”We’re providing know-how through our specialised government agencies, our knowledge institutes and our private sectors,” said the Dutch ambassador.Terming Bangladesh a vibrant country with the positive economic development and impressive growth figures, the envoy said within the context of their relationship and the newly formulated strategy, the key word is transition.Bangladesh and the Netherlands are enjoying 46 years of bilateral relations.As Bangladesh has become a middle-income country, and will graduate out of the group of the least developed countries, Verweij said the Netherlands are transitioning policies towards Bangladesh.”No longer will the main focus be on development cooperation and a donor-recipient relationship only. We see Bangladesh as an equal partner,” he said.In this regard, the ambassador said, their focus will be on aid to trade, and Bangladesh’s upward growth fits in with their role.He said the Netherlands will pay more attention to identifying and integrating alternative and innovative forms of funding.”Our ambition is to be seen as a partner for finding multidisciplinary solutions that build a better future for all, thereby increasing trade and foreign investment,” he said.The ambassador said Bangladesh is a country with a young population and fertile ground of young entrepreneurs.”Indeed, the strength of the country lies in younger generation and we should all tap in. A positive image should be the key message. This is a country with opportunities,” he added.Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) arranged the event at the auditorium of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). DCAB president Raheed Ejaz and general secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke on the occasion.last_img read more

Revealing the charm of Cham

first_imgIndira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)  is hosting an International Conference on Cham Art Heritage of Vietnam. The Cham people are the inhabitants of mountainous region of Central-South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The Cham civilization has been focus of studies and conferences in the field of history, language, religion, culture, art and architecture. However, its inner connections and its external relations have so far not been studied in depth.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The two-day international conference will comprises of academic sessions and cultural programmes on both the days and Odishi dance recital by Madhavi Mudgal and disciples on its closing day. The event will be inaugurated on 25 April at IGNCA. The conference will be carried out in six sessions and one sub-session.The proposed panels of the conference are: Polynesian, Indian and Indigenous context of Cham art, interface of art and ecology in Cham art, connections of Cham art with Indian and South East Asian art styles, Cham architecture and its connection with India and South East Asia, Chams musical instruments in the wider context of Indian and South East Asian traditions, many research on Champa based on epigraphy and recent field work including Bhasa and Sahitya sastriya study of the inscriptions of Champa. The various sessions will be chaired by eminents like- Satya Vrat Shastri, Anton O. Zakharov, Phan Thi Thu Hien, Ganga Nath Jha, Philippe Delanghe, Himansu Prabha Ray, Zsuzsanna Renner, Claude Jacques and Lokesh Chandra.last_img read more

Students stranded train services affected due to Adivasi agitation

first_imgKolkata: Train services in South Eastern Railway’s (SER) Kharagpur division were affected from Monday morning due to a blockade put up by an umbrella organisation of the Adivasis, who demands official recognition of their language.Around 72 students accompanied by 12 teachers of Ballygunge Siksha Sadan are reportedly stuck since afternoon while on their way to the city. The group had gone on an educational tour. Railway Recruitment Board Examination has also been cancelled. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeA spokesperson of SER said members of Bharat Jakat Majhi Marwa squatted on tracks at several stations such as Balichak, Nekusini, Salboni, Chattna and Khamasuli affecting train movement. A number of mail, express and local trains were detained at various stations of Kharagpur-Howrah, Kharagpur-Tatanagar, Kharagpur-Bhadrak and Kharagpur-Adra sections. A good number of trains were cancelled due to the agitation that included Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express, Howrah-Mumbai CSMT Duranto Express, Howrah-Yesvantpur AC Express, Shalimar- LTT Express, Santragachi-Puducherry Special, Santragachi-Chennai Central Antyodaya Express, Howrah-Puri Sri Jaganath Express, Shalimar-Bhanjpur Express. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedThe agitators also blocked roads at different places of Salboni, Khemasuli, Nekusini and Khirpai in West Midnapore district, said Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria. It may be mentioned that all the cancelled trains were scheduled on Monday. Three of the express trains were short terminated. The Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express was terminated at Mecheda. Titlagarh-Howrah Ispat Express was short-terminated at Tatanagar and ran from Tatanagar to Titlagarh. The Howrah-Puri Dhauli Express was short-terminated at Belda and further service to Puri was cancelled. The Santragachi-Anand Vihar Express was short-terminated at Uluberia, according to a release by SER. “Arrangements for drinking water and food have been made at major stations for the stranded passengers,” a senior SER official said. The Adivasis during their agitation also caused road blockade on National Highways in the state leading to disruption of traffic movement. Traffic movement in districts like Jhargram, East Burdwan, Purulia, Birbhum, Hooghly, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, East Midnapore and West Midnapore bore the brunt of the agitation. However, the police removed the squatters within a few hours. Demanding fulfilment of their nine-point charter of demands, including the propagation and promotion of Olchik script of Santhali language in various schools and colleges of the town, members of Bharat Jakat Majhi Pragana Mahal (BJMPM), the largest outfit of tribals had carried out the protests.last_img read more

In search of Love

first_imgEveryone seeks love, but barely recognise what love is or the countless ways it can thrive. True love involves all beautiful virtues of friendship and is like magic. Love can transform one’s life and fill it with sweetness and grace. But sadly, the artist says that we hardly step into our inner world to enjoy that depth of love, it is the language that every heart speaks and understands, which cannot be expressed in words.“I have tried to express the feeling of love through my paintings. I have created a mystery in each of my artwork for the viewers to unfold in their own way. Love has motivated me to express my dreams and thoughts into action in the form of my exquisite paintings,” said the artist.“Mystery of Love” resolves around the notion of mystic womanhood which is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description. The paintings represent the understanding of love from a feminine point of view and has some amounts of surrealism to them. One may explore the “Mystery of Love” through this personal portrayal of the most sought after word in the globe.last_img read more

Couple on empowerment mission

first_imgSulochana Chaudhary, a mother of three successful daughters, was watching TV with keen interest as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the audience while launching the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaign in Jhunjhunu on March 8. But long before the girl child became a campaign slogan for the current Prime Minister, Sulochana went against all odds to educate her children and inculcate a strong sense of values in them – in a Marwari society which looked down upon a woman giving birth to multiple daughters. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf”The entire Churu society to which we belonged had something bad to say to me when I delivered my third daughter. Their frequent taunts, soon after the delivery, left me and my husband tormented and pained. But I took my daughter in my lap, kissed her and told her, ‘You are going to be my third son. I will give you the best so that you too can serve the nation following in the footsteps of Indira Gandhi and Mother Teresa’,” said Sulochana.As the girls grew up, she took them frequently to visit the village. “I wanted them to know that this was the real India and they had to help the poor here. So they grew up with a vision and mission of improving the socio-economic standards in rural India,” she said, adding that “we also gave them wings to fly abroad and spread their horizons… to do their best”. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThey were never made to feel that they were weaker or inferior in any way to the boys.Sulochana’s husband N.K. Chaudhary said, “I knew I had three daughters, but I decided they will build my future and realise my dreams. Although society left no stone unturned to make me feel unlucky for having three daughters, my best English friend, Ilay Cooper, who has written many books on the Shekhawati region, inspired me with his positive thoughts.”He made the Chaudharys realise why it was important to treat their girls at par with boys – and that often women were more efficient and capable than men. “I decided to give the best education to my daughters. As they grew up, I decided to send them to the US so that they could bring best practices to my business,” Chaudhary said.The girls joined the family business, Jaipur Rugs, after finishing their education, with Archana Chaudhary heading the operations in the United States and Asha Chaudhary becoming the CEO. Kavita Chaudhury became head of the design department. “They took the business to heights which I might not have been able to do alone,” says the trio’s father.Kavita is extending the business by engaging rural artisans and allowing them to transfer their thoughts and ideas into rug designs which are making waves across the globe. Recently, one of their weavers, Vimladevi from Aaspura village, was taken to Germany to receive the prestigious German Design Award she had won. “We want to create more such Vimlas in India,” says N.K. Chaudhary.He says they are always trying to boost the confidence of their grassroots weavers. “We want more daughters to become empowered, to stand on their own. We are employing more women and setting up doorstep opportunities for them so that they can recreate the magic of success at different levels,” he added.Kavita says there was a lot of pressure from their Marwari relatives on her parents to treat their girls in accordance with traditional societal norms – where girls were hidden within the confines of four walls at home and limited to kitchen-related work.”However, my parents trusted Cooper and, since early childhood, provided us with the best education and nurtured our personal interests, including sending us abroad.” All this despite their limited resources.Asked if her parents motivated the sisters to pursue their dreams, Kavita said it was not really that. “As children, we did not know what it meant to have dreams that could be fulfilled. They simply created a nurturing space for us to grow and experience life. They motivated us to learn the things we loved to do. And they greatly trusted us,” she said.The Chaudhary family business is now working with the most modern versions of enterprise resource planning, the design studio has been computerised and the products are being counted among the best, inviting global awards.N.K. Chaudhary believes strongly in the concept of women empowerment. Nature, he says, gave sufficient time to man to prove himself and contribute to the society. “But now it is women who are scripting success stories in each field with their untiring efforts.”last_img read more

Celebrating a rich musical legacy

first_imgA cultural evening titled- Guru Bhola Nath Music Utsav – was hosted by BNP Foundation and Gurbani Education to celebrate ‘guru-shishya parampara’ in the loving memory of the legendary Bansuri Guru Pandit Bhola Nath Prasanna.In the presence of eminent people and critics from the art and culture fraternity like Kathak maestro Shovana Narayana, Guru Jaspal Singh of Gurubani Education, the evening witnessed the mesmerising performance by Guru Bhola Nath’s son and disciple – Pandit Ajay Prasanna. A three-time Grammy nominee, Pandit Ajay Prasanna was accompanied by Shubh Maharaj on tabla. Also, Padma Bhushan Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was accompanied by Salil Bhatt on Satvik Veena among others. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe evening was graced by Padma Vibhushan Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia – Guru Bhola Nath’s senior-most disciple and Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. The surprise element of the festival was the rare flute ensemble performance by my students from Guru Bhola Nath Gurukul. Talking about the Utsav, Pandit Ajay Prasanna said, “The utsav celebrated rich legacies of music. It brought forth the traditional music of the Banaras gharana which is known for its rich repertoire and raga renditions where I performed traditional Indian classical flute music that I’ve learned from my father and the great Guru. My performance was a humble attempt to transport the audience to the mystical and cultural city of Banaras.” “The utsav saw an ideal conclusion with Padma Bhushan Pandit Vishwa Mohan stellar ‘mohan veena’ performance. With the blessings of my Guru, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj, I am grateful to the audience of Delhi for being a part of this one of its kinds Indian classical music treat.”last_img read more

KMC to scrap building plans of insecure structures

first_imgKolkata: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will cancel the building plans of old insecure structures, if their owners do not pull them down and begin construction of new ones within one year.The decision has been taken after it was found that many owners of old insecure houses, who have obtained permission from the civic authorities to pull down the old structures and construct new ones, are sitting on the projects. Two years ago, the state government had decided that the owners of old insecure structures will be allowed to construct new buildings if they agree to rehabilitate their tenants. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataIn such cases, the owners would be entitled to get additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR). A Bill in this regard was passed unanimously in the Assembly. The decision was taken after it was found that many owners had failed to maintain the old insecure structures because of litigation issues with the tenants. There are over 2,000 old insecure structures in the city. The KMC had inspected the structures and declared them as insecure and dangerous. But despite the warning of the civic authorities, the tenants continue to refuse to vacate them. In 2017-18, around 20 people had died after portions of old and dilapidated structures fell on them. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateAccording to the new rule, the owners and tenants will have to apply jointly to the KMC for construction of the new building after pulling down the existing one. The tenants will be rehabilitated properly. However, it has often been found that on getting the sanctioned building plan, the owners along with the builders try to influence the tenants to vacate the area. This gives rise to differences between the owners and the tenants. To stop this malpractice, the civic authorities have decided to scrap the building plan if no construction is carried out at the site. Senior civic officials said the owners of many old and dilapidated structures have applied to KMC for development of their properties. In the meetings of the Municipal Building Committee (MBC), the applications are processed and clearances are being given on a war footing. The civic authorities have also launched a massive campaign, asking the owners of buildings that are more than 50 years old to examine the health of the structures by empanelled structural engineers. The civic officials feel that old insecure structures, where the owners cannot be traced, are the most problematic of the lot.last_img read more

Rep Sheppard celebrates reading with local elementary students

first_img05Mar Rep. Sheppard celebrates reading with local elementary students Categories: Sheppard News Lawmaker visits local schools in March to encourage readingState Rep. Jason Sheppard is visiting local elementary classrooms and reading to hundreds of area students during March is Reading Month to foster a love of reading in the 56th District.“One of my favorite books is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, a story about giving of yourself to make someone else’s life just a little bit better,” said Rep. Sheppard, R-Temperance. “It’s a great lesson for people of all ages, and I try to keep that selflessness in mind every day in Lansing as I represent our community.”The southeast Michigan representative has already read to students at New Bedford Academy, and will be reading to many more classrooms at Monroe Road, Jackman Road and Douglas Road elementary schools. Administrators and educators interested in scheduling a time for Rep. Sheppard to read are encouraged to contact his office.“Visiting Michigan students and encouraging them to engage with books will prepare them for successful futures,” Rep. Sheppard said. “As we all know, reading is fundamental to a child’s long-term success, so I also encourage adults to read daily to the children in their lives.”Rep. Sheppard’s office can be reached by phone at 517-373-2617 or via email at JasonSheppard@house.mi.gov.last_img read more

Naturalresourcebased industries are very capital

first_imgNatural-resource-based industries are very capital intensive, and hence extremely cyclical. It is not unreasonable to say that as a natural-resource investor, you are either contrarian or you will be a victim. These markets are risky and volatile! Why cyclicality? Let’s talk about cyclicality first. Some of the cyclicality of these industries is a function of their being extraordinarily capital intensive. This lengthens the companies’ response times to market cycles. Strengthening copper prices, for example, do not immediately result in increased copper production in many market cycles, because the production cycle requires new deposits to be discovered, financed, and constructed—a process that can consume a decade. Price declines—even declines below the industry’s total production costs—do not immediately cause massive production cuts. The “sunk capital” involved in discovery and construction of mining projects and attendant infrastructure (such as smelters, railways, and ports) causes the industry to produce down to, and sometimes below, their cash costs of production. Producers often engage in a “last man standing” contest, to drive others to mothball productive assets, citing the high cost of shutdown and restart. They fail to mention their conflicts of interest as managers, whose compensation is linked to running operational mines. Interest-rate cycles can raise or lower the cost and availability of capital, and the accompanying business cycles certainly influence demand. Given the “trapped” nature of the industry’s productive assets, local political and fiscal cycles can also influence outcomes in natural-resource investments. Today, I believe that we are still in a resource “supercycle,” a long-term period of increasing commodity prices in both nominal and real terms. The market conditions of the past two years have made many observers doubt this assertion. But I believe the current cyclical decline is a normal and healthy part of the ongoing secular bull market. Has this happened in the past? The most striking analogy to the current situation occurred in the epic gold bull market in the 1970s. Many of you will recall that in that bull market, gold prices advanced from US$35 per ounce to $850 per ounce over the course of a decade. Fewer of you will recall that in the middle of that bull market, in 1975 and 1976, a cyclical decline saw the price of gold decline by 50%, from about $200 per ounce down to about $100 per ounce. It then rebounded over the next six years to $850 per ounce. Investors who lacked the conviction to maintain their positions missed an 850% move over six short years. The current gold bull market, since its inception in 2000, has experienced eight declines of 10% or greater, and three declines—including the present one—of more than 20%. This volatility need not threaten the investor who has the intellectual and financial resources to exploit it. The natural-resources bull market lives… The supercycle is a direct result of several factors. The most important of these is, ironically, the deep resource bear markets which lasted for almost two decades, commencing in 1982. This period critically constrained investment in a capital-intensive industry where assets are depleted over time. Productive capacity declined in every category; very little exploration took place; few new mines or oilfields replenished reserves; infrastructure and processing assets deteriorated. Critical human-resource capabilities suffered as well; as workers retired or got laid off, replacements were neither trained nor hired. National oil companies (NOCs) exacerbated this decline in many nations by milking their oil and gas industries to subsidize domestic spending programs for political gain. This was done at the expense of sustaining capital investments. The worst examples are Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Indonesia, and Iran. I believe 25% of world export crude capacity may be at risk from failure of NOCs to maintain and expand their productive assets. Demands for social contributions in the form of taxes, royalties, carried equity interests, social or infrastructure contributions, and the like have increased. Voters are not concerned that producers need real returns to recover from two decades of underinvestment or to fund capital investments to offset depletion. Today this is actively constraining investment, and hence supply. Poor people getting richer… The supercycle is also driven by globalization and the social and political liberalization of emerging and frontier markets. As people become freer, they tend to become richer. As poor countries become less poor, their purchases tend to be very commodity-centric, especially compared to Western consumers. For the 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the economic pyramid, the goods that provide the most utility are material goods and consumables, rather than the information services or “high value-added” goods. A poor or very poor household is likely to increase its aggregate calorie consumption—both by eating more food and more energy-dense food like meat. They will likely consume more electrical power and motor fuel and upgrade their home from adobe or thatch to higher-quality building materials. As people’s incomes increase in developing and frontier markets, the goods they buy are commodity-intensive, which drives up demand per capita. And we are talking billions of “capitas.” Rising incomes and savings among certain cultures in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia—places with a strong cultural affinity for bullion—have increased the demand for gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion. Bullion has been a store of value in these regions for generations, and rising incomes have generated physical bullion demand that has surprised many Western-centric analysts. Competitive devaluation The third important driver in this cycle has been the depreciation of currencies and the impact that has had on nominal pricing for resources and precious metals. Most developed economies have consumed and borrowed at worrying levels. The United States federal government has on-balance-sheet liabilities of over $16 trillion, and off-balance-sheet liabilities estimated at around $70 trillion. These numbers do not include state and local government liabilities, nor the likely liabilities from underfunded private pensions. Not to mention increased costs associated with more comprehensive health care and an aging population! Many analysts are even more concerned about the debts and liabilities of other developed economies—Europe and Japan. In both places, debt-to-GDP ratios are greater than in the US. Europe and Japan are financing themselves through a combination of artificially low interest rates and more borrowing and money printing. This drives down the value of their currencies, helping their exports. But which nations’ leaders will stand firm and allow their export industries to wither as their domestic producers suffer from cheap competing foreign goods? If Japan’s Abe is successful at increasing his country’s exports at the expense of its competitors like Taiwan, Korea, or China, then his policies could lead to competitive devaluation. And how will the European community react, for that matter? Loss of purchasing power in fiat currencies increases the nominal pricing of commodities and drives demand for bullion as a preferred savings vehicle. The factors that have driven this resource supercycle have not changed. Demand is increasing. Supplies are constrained. Currencies are weakening. Thus I believe we remain in a secular bull market for natural resources and precious metals. With that in mind, I would call the current market for bullion and resource equities a sale. Where to invest? Let’s talk about a type of company most of us follow: mineral exploration companies, or “juniors.” We often confuse the minerals exploration business with an asset-based business. I would argue that is a mistake. Entities that explore for minerals are actually more similar to “the research and development” space of the mining industry. They are knowledge-based businesses. When I was in university, I learned that one in 3,000 “mineralized anomalies” (exploration targets) ended up becoming a mine. I doubt those odds have improved much in 40 years. So investors take a 1-in-3,000 chance in order to receive a 10-to-1 return. These are not good odds. But understanding the industry improves them substantially. Exploration companies are similar to outsourcing companies. Major mining companies today conduct relatively little exploration. Their competitive advantage lies in scale, financial stability, and engineering and construction expertise. Similar to how big companies in other sectors outsource certain tasks to smaller, more specialized shops, the big miners let the juniors take on exploration risk and reward the successful ones via acquisitions. Major companies are punished rather than rewarded for exploration activities in the short term. Majors therefore tend to focus on the acquisition of successful juniors as a growth strategy. Today, the junior model is broken. Many public exploration companies spend a majority of their capital on general and administrative expenses, including fundraising. Overlay a hefty administrative load on an activity with a slim probability of success, and these challenges become even more severe. One response from the exploration and financial community has been to put less emphasis on exploration success and focus instead on “market success.” In this model, rather than “turning rocks into money,” the process becomes “turning rocks into paper, and paper into money.” One manifestation of that is the juniors’ habit of recycling exploration targets that have failed repeatedly in the past but can be counted on to yield decent confirmation holes, and the tendency to acquire hyper-marginal deposits and promote the value of resources underground without mentioning the cost of actually extracting them. The industry has been quite successful, during bull markets, at causing “sophisticated” investors to focus on exciting but meaningless criteria. Being successful in natural-resource investing requires you to make choices. If your broker convinces you to buy the sector as a whole, they will have lived up to their moniker—you will become “broker” and “broker.” We have already said that exploration is a knowledge-based business. The truth is that a small number of people involved in the sector generate the overwhelming majority of the successes. This realization is key to improving our odds of success. “Pareto’s law” is the social scientists’ term for the so-called “80-20 rule,” which holds that 80% of the work is accomplished by 20% of the participants. A substantial body of evidence exists that it is roughly true across a variety of disciplines. In a large enough sample, this remains true within that top 20%—meaning 20% of the top 20%, or 4% of the population, contributes in excess of 60% of the utility. The key as investors is to judge management teams by their past success. I believe this is usually much more relevant than their current exploration project. It is important as well that their past successes are directly relevant to the task at hand. A mining entrepreneur might have past success operating a gold mine in French-speaking Quebec. Very impressive, except that this same promoter now proposes to explore for copper, in young volcanic rocks, in Peru! In my experience, more than half of the management teams you interview will have no history of success that shows that they are apt at executing their current project. Management must be able to identify the most important unanswered question that can make or break the project. They must be able to say how that question or thesis was identified, explain the process by which the question will be answered, the time required to answer the question, how much money it will take. They also need to know how to recognize when they have answered the question. Many of the management teams you interview will be unable to address this sequence of questions, and therefore will have a very difficult time adding value. The resource sector is capital intensive and highly cyclical, and we expect that the current pullback is a cyclical decline from an overheated bull market. The fundamental reasons to own natural resource and precious metals have not changed. Warren Buffett says, “Be brave when others are afraid, be afraid when others are brave.” We are still “gold bugs.” And even “gold bulls.” Subscribe to Sprott’s Thoughts for free insights and opinion from Rick Rule, Eric Sprott, John Embry, and others from across the Sprott organization. Click here to subscribe. Rick Rule is the chairman and founder of Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd., a full-service brokerage firm located in Carlsbad, CA. He has dedicated his entire adult life to different aspects of natural-resource investing and has a worldwide network of contacts in the natural-resource and finance worlds. As chairman of Sprott US Holdings Inc., the parent company of Sprott Global, he leads a team of earth science and finance professionals who are experienced with resource investment management. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and is interviewed for numerous radio, television, print, and online media outlets concerning natural-resource investment and industry topics. He and his team have long experience in many resource sectors including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining, and water. Sprott US Holdings is active in securities brokerage, segregated account money management, and investment partnership management involving both equity and debt instruments across the entire spectrum of the natural-resource industry.last_img read more