Archive for May, 2010

Got an Issue With Indian Post? Tweet About it!

May 31, 2010

indian post might be heard

That’s right. If you are amongst the millions of people who still use the services of the Indian Postal service, this news might just interest you.

India’s Postal Service now has its own Twitter handle now! This makes it the first Government of India enterprise to arrive on the popular social networking platform.

The Twitter account will be used to post updates about various news concerning postal services – apart from addressing grievances of consumers.

Before we move further here’s the link to the profile page @PostOfficeIndia. The profile was set up quite a while ago – three months back to be precise.

However, it is now that it has gathered momentum. The account, even within the short span of its existence has managed to solve many a consumers grievances – highlighting the fact that social networks could be effective costumer service medium as well.

The Twitter account is also helpful for users who want to have queries regarding what and how they can send stuff. The only problem with the account seems to be this: As of now, there is only one guy who seems to be in charge of the account. We wonder who that geek at the post office would be!

[ via Techtree ]


Highway to Nowhere

May 31, 2010

By Sonia Wahengbam

MAO_GATE_firing The blockade by Naga groups of National Highway 39 to Manipur has sent the prices of essential commodities skyrocketing and started a thriving black market in the state, where you can get petrol for Rs 150 a litre and a gas cylinder for Rs 2,000. Sonia Wahengbam writes on life in times of an economic blockade

These days in Imphal, television dealers have come up with a new offer. Buy a TV set and get a Tata Sky connection or 10 litres of petrol free. With petrol selling for Rs 150 per litre in Manipur and still hard to get, free petrol certainly seems a more tempting offer than satellite TV connection.

It’s been 50 days since National Highway 39 —Manipur’s lifeline where on an average day 300 trucks ply, carrying essential commodities to the state — has remained blocked. When the blockade was first enforced on April 11, many in the state simply shrugged. Bandhs and blockades are routine in Manipur and follow a predictable pattern. They go on for a few days, or a couple of weeks — the exception was the 52-day blockade in 2005 — before an agreement is hammered out and then it’s back to normal. But this time the days have stretched to over a month. It’s hard to shrug now.

What’s surprising is that there have hardly been any protests over the issue. Have Manipuris become so docile that we have forgotten how to protest, or have we become so much of an ‘I-me-myself’ society that we really don’t care about our neighbours as long as we are protected? Or are some of us too rich to bother about skyrocketing prices and scarcity of essential items? Perhaps, as long as our mini-godowns at home remain stocked, we think we’re going to be fine.

But it’s time to worry. Everywhere you go in Manipur, the talk veers towards the economic blockade. And everybody is busy looking for black marketers. Instead of thinking of a solution to end the impasse, a common query is, ‘Where can I find good quality petrol and diesel?’

And even though the price of a bag of cement has nearly doubled from Rs 350 to Rs 600, construction in the state is on in full swing.

The prices are showing no signs of dipping. A cylinder of gas is now costlier by about Rs 1,600 and lighter by about 10 kg. The fare for public transport has increased from Rs 5 to Rs 10. Any vegetable you buy, even if it’s grown in Manipur, comes with the economic blockade price tag.

For the past few months, the government employees in the Manipur have been protesting over the issue of Sixth Pay Commission arrears in the state. But the prices we are paying for essential items are what we should be paying after the Tenth Pay Commission!

Says Th Manglem, a state government employee, “The blockade has hit me and my family badly. We haven’t got our salary for the past two months because of the Sixth Pay Commission impasse and now this blockade. It’s a double blow.”

EVERY year, the NH-39 to Manipur is blocked at least a couple of times, mostly by Naga groups who live primarily in the hill areas in the state, areas they want integrated into what they call Nagalim or Greater Nagaland. The Thuingaleng Muivah-led Nationalist Socialist Council has been spearheading the demand for Nagalim, comprising Nagaland and the Naga-dominated areas of neighbouring Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a study conducted by the state government, Manipur suffered an accumulated loss of Rs 1,320 crore due to bandhs and blockades between 2004-05 and 2006-07. The state witnessed 110 bandhs and 234 economic blockades during the period — 20 days of bandhs and 60 days of economic blockades in 2004-05, which rose to 48 days and 97 days in 2005-06 and 42 days and 77 days in 2006-07. The study also says the per capita income of the state decreased by 6.10 per cent in 2004-05, 11.79 per cent in 2005-06 and 9.93 per cent in 2006-07.

“In the first few days of any blockade, the economic loss is not much—maybe a crore or so as there are items in stock, but if it carries on, then there is cumulative impact on the economic condition and by the 45th-50th day, the damage is around Rs 15-20 crore. If we talk in terms of growth rate, there is a slowdown of 1.5-2 per cent,” says Prof Amar Yumnam, Department of Economics, Manipur University.

The economic blockade this time has been called by the All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur, opposing the state government’s decision to hold elections to the district councils in the state’s hill districts. It intensified after Manipur refused to let Muivah visit his village in the state’s Ukhrul district on May 4, and the Naga Students’ Federation declared they would not allow any vehicle from Manipur to enter Nagaland.

Every day, we open the newspaper eagerly to see if any goods trucks have started coming in. Every day we are disappointed. But then we think, there’s always tomorrow.

And that fortunate tomorrow came on May 22, when 97 of the 306 trucks stranded after the blockade reached Imphal through an alternative route, National Highway 53, which connects Imphal with Jiribam in Assam. This route is not safe either and the Nagas have called for a blockade of it too. Apart from that, it’s not in great shape.

The remaining trucks reached the following day, getting with them eatables, petrol, diesel and LPG. The trucks were accompanied by State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Y Erabot and a handful of his security personnel. Erabot and his team were assisted by troops of the Assam Rifles, CRPF and BSF. The supplies arrived. The chaos in distribution followed.

After the state government announced it would ration sale of petrol, the queues of vehicles at petrol pumps grew so long that some of them lasted for two days. At all hours, the queues were at least three to four kilometres long.

And there are a lot of people out on the roads at night, outside petrol stations, sleeping inside their cars so as to keep their place in the queue. It must be a bit disconcerting, after getting one’s ration of 10 litres of petrol after such a long wait, to wake up the next day to headlines such as, “After 48 hours in queue, consumers end up buying blue petrol”—the blue referring to adulteration with kerosene oil. There are, of course, ways of beating the queue. Rows of vendors are still selling petrol in mineral water bottles outside pumps for Rs 150-170 per litre.

Says 52-year-old Ibeyaima, a petrol vendor, “Our business comes up only when there is a blockade. When I get news that there is going to be a blockade, I go out and buy as much petrol as I can with whatever little money I have so that I can sell it later at a higher price. The petrol I am selling is what I had stocked before the blockade started. I have made a good profit, but then all this money goes into buying rice and other household items, whose prices have shot up as well. So, it is more of a give and take. If I don’t do this, my family of seven won’t be able to survive in this condition.”

With fuel being scarce, many schools and tuition centres have called pre-summer breaks. Says Sangeeta, a class IX student, “Last year, schools were closed after protests over an encounter death broke out and now this blockade. We are missing out on a lot of classes.”

The worst affected has been healthcare, with many operations being cancelled, life-saving drugs unavailable, and oxygen cylinders out of stock in the hospitals.

The crisis may not be killing us yet, but it’s killing us off in bits. Manipur seems almost like a war zone, minus the sound of bomb blasts and bullets. And yet, when we think things can’t get any worse, it seems they can. After the blockade, there’s now the threat of counter-blockade. The people from the Imphal Valley have declared that since it’s the Nagas who enforced the blockade, sections of the hills of Manipur, where the Nagas live, will not get any supply from the valley.

Of the nine districts in Manipur, the Naga-inhabited districts are Senapati, Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong. Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Thoubal are dominated by Meitei and Manipuri Muslims and the Kukis inhabit the district of Churachandpur.

There are also reports that Manipuris living in Assam are planning to block the land route to Nagaland. The fire that began in Manipur now threatens to spread in the region.

The crisis grows bigger, but there’s no solution in sight. So, we move on, everyone looking out for themselves, willing to pay extraordinary prices for ordinary stuff. Earning in rupees and paying in pounds and doing what we do best: making the best of a bad situation.

Sonia Wahengbam, a former Express journalist, teaches in the Department of Mass Communication at Manipur University

Chakmas of Three Arunachal Villages Out of Census 2010

May 31, 2010

full-india-census Itanagar, May 31 : As country debates the inclusion of caste in the Census India 2011, about 450 families comprising of 2000 people belonging to the tribal Chakma community from three villages under Diyun Circle in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh are likely to be left out from the ongoing first phase of House-listing and Housing Census for Census India 2011.

The three Chakma inhabitated villages in question are Modakha Nala, Sukha Nala and Shillongpahar under Diyun Circle in Changlang district of the state. These villages are reportedly not covered in the ongoing census work following a direction from the Extra-Assistant Commissioner (EAC) of Diyun Circle who is also the Census Charge Officer (CCO).

The Census Charge Officer of Diyun Circle has directed the supervisors and enumerators not to cover the three villages of Modakha Nala, Sukha Nala and Shillongpahar in the ongoing census.

The said direction of the CCO has come to light after the residents of Shillongpahar approached the CCO on May 9, 2010 as no enumerator visited their village for data collection. The villagers submitted a written complaint to the CCO for inclusion in the ongoing census. Instead of hearing their grievances the CCO informed the villagers that they will not be included in the ongoing census work. Interestingly, the same direction was written by hand on the complaint by the CCO. The CCO’s direction on the complaint which is available with this writer read as under:

“Under no circumstances people residing in RF/ARF area shall be included in the ongoing Census work. Enumerators have already been briefed about the matter”.

The villagers informed this writer that they have been residing in these three villages since 1966. They further stated that their villages had previously been covered for the House-to-House Child Census under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (Order No.ED.SSA/DEV-1/2006-07 dated 6.12.2006, C.R.C. Coordinator, Diyun Circle) and the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairperson, District Health Society, Changlang district appointed Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) under the National Rural Health Mission, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Order No.CMD/RCH/ASHA/07/-08/29/2 dated 10.9.2007) from these villages.

The direction of the CCO is not in line with the guidelines issued by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. In its Circular vide No. 9/31/2010-CD(CEN) dated March 3, 2010 (CENSUS OF INDIA 2011 – CIRCULAR No. 16), the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India directed all the census officials in the country to prepare a comprehensive list of villages, towns and sub-districts which should include inhabited as well as uninhabited villages as well as forest settlements, unauthorized colonies, etc. Further, the circular directs the Principal Census Officer to ensure that all habitations have been included without any omission.

The Census in the country is carried out under the provision of the Census Act and Census Rules and the amendments thereafter. The duties of the Census Officers have been identified under Rule 5 of the Census Rules 1990 of the Census Act 1948. There are penalties for failure to carry out the duties under the provisions of the Census Act under the Section 11.

The duties assigned to the Census Charge Officer, among others, include to “ensure full coverage, accuracy and timelines in taking census. ”

The Chakmas, who are already very poor, of these three villages are worried that if they are not included in the ongoing census they will be further deprive of accessing benefits under various welfare and development projects of the government. Any omission in population can be rectified only after 10 years and hence it is important to net the entire population without any omission.

The first phase of House-listing and Housing Census for Census of India 2011 which started on April 15, 2010 in Arunachal Pradesh ends on May 31, 2010. The Census of India 2011 is very important as for the first time National Population Register (NPR) will be prepared. Based on the NPR data, a Unique Identity (UID) Number will be issued to each citizen which will be useful for accessing benefits under various welfare and development projects of the government.

[via Merinews ]

‘Lookout Notice’ Against Publisher Over Jesus Image

May 31, 2010

smoking-jesus Shillong, May 31 : A ‘lookout notice’ has been issued against the owner of a publishing house that printed a blasphemous image of Jesus Christ in a school textbook, the Meghalaya government said Monday.

Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh told the state assembly that the notice was issued after the government declared Indra Mohan Jha an absconder.

The owner has been on the run since the Shillong bench of the Gauhati High Court terminated his interim bail March 15 and directed him to surrender to the authorities.

Lyngdoh said that the government had registered a criminal case against the publisher.

The objectionable pictures of Jesus Christ were found in the cursive writing exercise copies at a private school in Shillong and was brought to the notice of the church in February.

The New Delhi-based Skyline Publication had produced books meant for Class 1 students.

The controversial picture created a furore in Meghalaya. Several Church organizations and NGOs denounced the publisher.

Dyson Fan Set To Make a Cool Fortune

May 31, 2010

New Dyson bladeless fan set to make a cool fortune in summer as sales increase by 300%

By Lucy Ballinger

He made his fortune from a machine that sucks air in.

But, with a swift change of direction and the first heatwave of the year, Sir James Dyson has a new money spinner – an invention that blows air out.

There was a 300 per cent increase in sales of his ‘fan without blades’, the Dyson Air Multiplier, last weekend.

Dyson Air Multiplier

Cash multiplier: The new Dyson Air Multiplier, a clever gadget that provides a stream of cool air without the finger-catching blades, is proving to be a big hit

Providing a ‘smooth, cooling breeze’, apparently from thin air, the device was launched in Australia in October.

It is now available on high streets here in time for what is predicted to be a barbecue summer.

Not that booming sales are anything new for the Dyson technology empire. It more than doubled earnings last year, according to figures released yesterday.

Dyson reported operating profits of £190million in 2009, up from £90million in 2008. Sales were 23 per cent higher, and have already been boosted in the first three months of this year thanks to the launch of handheld vacuums.

Dyson Air Multiplier

The science bit: Sir James Dyson said he came up with the idea while developing his Air Blade hand dryer, a similarly revolutionary – and cool – device

The bladeless fan appears likely to follow suit. But how does it differ from conventional fans?

Instead of using rotors to chop the air, which causes an uneven airflow and buffeting, the DAM blows out cooling air as a constant smooth stream.

And with the absence of blades, you can safely put your hand through it.

Air is sucked in through the base by a 40 watt electric motor, and then pushed out at high speed through a lip which runs around the inside of its circular head.

As this is forced out, other air is drawn into the airflow, resulting in the epulsion of 405 litres every second.

The fan also has a dimmer-type switch, which means the powerful current can be easily controlled.

Without blades, curious children will not catch their hands in it, and the simple design makes it easy to clean.

The DAM – marketed as a desktop fan – rotates 90 degrees on its base, and can also be tilted to direct the flow of air.

It costs £199 and comes in two sizes and a range of metallic colours.

Sir James said: ‘I’ve always been disappointed by fans. Their spinning blades chop up the airflow, causing annoying buffeting. And children always want to poke their fingers through the grille.

‘So we’ve developed a new type of fan that doesn’t use blades.’

He came up with the idea while developing his Air Blade hand dryer – which forces air through a tiny slit to ‘brush’ water from wet hands – and noticing it draws in air from its immediate surroundings.

The 62-year-old, estimated to be worth around £500million, became one of Britain’s best-known inventors after the success of his bagless vacuum cleaner.

Dyson employs 2,500 people worldwide and is increasing its UK workforce to 1,600, with laboratories in Wiltshire specialising in microbiology, as well as fluid, electrical, thermal, acoustic and software engineering.

[ via Dailymail ]

Kelly Brook Promotes New Toning Trainers

May 31, 2010

By Sarah Bull

She has never been shy about showing off her figure.

So when the opportunity arose for Kelly Brook to promote Reebok’s new EasyTone trainers, she had no problem stripping to her underwear in a rather gratuitous way of showing off the toning footwear.

Whether it’s cooking in a pair of black and white striped knickers and cropped T-shirt, or doing the hoovering in a yellow vest top and lime green pair, Kelly shows whatever you are doing, you can wear EasyTones while doing it.

Kelly Brook

Mind the oven! Kelly Brook promotes Reebok’s EasyTone trainers by posing in a black and white pair of knickers

She said: ‘EasyTones are brilliant, it’s like having a little gym built into your trainers. I wear them all the time especially if I don’t have time to get to the gym and then at least I know I’m doing something for my body.

‘They make your legs feel toned and bum feel pert, they are like magic shoes! I’ve been wearing them to tone up for the summer and have really seen a difference, which is why I didn’t mind getting my hotpants on for the video.

‘I had so much fun re-creating the advert – hula-hooping, trampolining, dancing around in my EasyTones. My dog Rocky even got a guest appearance in the last shot!’

Kelly BrooK

Clean freak: Kelly makes sure her ‘flat’ is spotless as she does the hoovering in a skimpy underwear set

kelly Brook

Glowing: The model looks stunning in the Reebok advert – showing off her famous figure and sparkling smile

Kelly, 30, isn’t the only celebrity fan of the revolutionary new trainers – Helena Christensen, Kim Kardashian, Whitney Port, Miranda Kerr and Bar Refaeli have all spoken about how impressed they are by the fitness shoes.

Kelly, who is currently in Los Angeles with boyfriend Danny Cipriani, has always spoken freely about her weight, and says it’s sometimes a struggle to maintain her slimline shape.

She said recently: ‘I enjoy healthy food and it makes me feel good. But it’s definitely not a crazy diet, I’m not going to deny myself desserts.

Kelly BrookKelly Brook

Fashion icon: Kelly has been wearing flirty outfits during her time in Los Angeles with Danny Cipriani

‘I always try to have three meals a day and don’t snack on bad stuff. I like to make soups, which are healthy, filling and don’t make you feel bloated. I also love making healthy fish or vegetarian dishes.’

Kelly is also the face and body of lingerie brand Ultimo, and has been showing off her amazing figure in a series of flirty outfits while in LA.

After wearing a tight heart-print dress earlier this week, Kelly stepped out in a flowery playsuit to make the most of the LA sun.

[ via  Dailymail ]

72-hr Bandh Paralyses Normal Life in Upper Assam

May 31, 2010

assam bandh Guwahati, May 31 : Normal life was paralyzed today in six districts of Upper Assam following a 72-hour bandh called by the All Tai Ahom Students’ Union, officials said.

The bandh, which began at 5 am today, has been called in protest against inclusion of Ahom-dominated areas in tribal council areas of different communities like Deori, Thengal Kachari and Sonowal Kacharis, where council polls are scheduled on June six.

The affected districts are Jorhat, Sibsagar, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Lakhimpur.
All educational institutions, financial services and private offices remained closed while attendance in government offices was thin.

Road traffic was disrupted due to blockades at different places on NH-37, though rail traffic was not affected as trains were running as per schedule.

Operations at the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited were also affected as employees were unable to reach the plants in different places of upper Assam.

Poetry Finds an English Voice in Northeast India

May 31, 2010

poetry Agartala, May 31 : The trouble-torn Northeast’s image as an insurgency-ridden killing field seems to have undergone a makeover with the publication of an English translation of the region’s poetic impulses penned in diverse languages.

English teachers of the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, Robin S. Ngangom and Kynpham S. Nongkynrih, have edited the 325-page volume published recently by Penguin India.

Dancing Earth, an anthology of poetry of the Northeast, is a treasure of poetic creativity of the region.

Though the volume contains lyrical poems authored by indigenous poets of the eight northeastern states, poetry of Tripura, Assam and Manipur figure in it prominently.

Chandra Kanta Murasingh said poems penned by nine poets of Tripura, including himself, had appeared in the volume.

Besides him, the other poets from Tripura are Kalyan Brata Chakraborty, Nanda Kumar Debbarma, Swapan Sengupta, Shefali Debbarma, Niranjan Chakma Yogmaya Chakma, Ganghini Sorokkhaibam and Sudhanwa Tripura.

“The Northeast’s cultural and linguistic diversity find expression even in poetry composed in Tripura as the nine poets, including I, composed our poems in indigenous Kokborok, Chakma, Bengali and Manipuri languages that have been translated into English for publication in the volume,” Chandra Kanta said, adding Oxford University Press had earlier published a translated version of a collection of poems of the region.

For Chandra Kanta, inclusion of the English version of poems in Kokborok — Tripura’s indigenous language — is another feather in his cap.

As a poet, Chandra Kanta received his first institutional recognition in 1996 when he was conferred Sahitya Akademi’s Bhasa Samman Award meant for poets and authors in non-scheduled languages.

The Akademi had also published the English translation of his Kokborok Loka Sangeet and Kabita in 2007 and Tales and Tunes of Tripura in 2009.

“In these volumes, English translations of my Kokborok poems, indigenous folk songs, ballads, proverbs were published and these portray a concrete picture of Tripura’s multifaceted indigenous culture,” Chandra Kanta said.

He hoped that publication of Kokborok poems in the Penguin India volume would serve the cause of Tripura’s indigenous language.

Jorhat Hosts Voice of Northeast 2010 Audition

May 31, 2010

0 Jorhat (Assam), May 31 : The third audition of the “VOICE OF NORTH EAST, 2010” was held at Pitambar Deva Goswami Auditorium here on May 29 and 30.

The Jorhat audition was organized by SMILE, a socio-cultural organization, based in Silchar and supported by PHENIX a cultural organization from Jorhat.

Hundreds of enthusiastic contestant from Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya turned up for the fifth phase of the 2010 auditions held at Jorhat.

After two sessions of auditions – an Acappella round and another round of singing with an instrumental accompaniment, and after a lot of scrutiny and criticism from the judges, six contestants finally made it through to the screening round, scheduled to be held in the month of July.

The judges for the auditions were Tsali Sangtam (Naga Idol 2007 contestant), Yutsung and Asem Jamir.

The auditions did go on successfully, with friends and relatives of the contestants turning up to witness the auditions and give moral support.

A strong eleven member Hunting Boots Inc team, the organizer of the Naga Idol 5.10, arrived Tuensang on May 24 evening.

However, the bumpy road, pot holes and the tiring journey to Tuensang was forgotten by the visiting team on seeing the district partners – Tuensang Town Chang Students’ Union – who made all arrangements for the comfortable stay of the visitors.

The contestants from Tuensang who made it to the screening round of Naga Idol 5.10 are A Choba Chang, David Ben, Chongshenmongba C. Chang, Yopichem and Mary.

For the convenience of all, the audition for the contestants from Kiphire was held at Tuensang, where the lone contestant from Kiphire, Thsaropi, made it to the screening round.

The next auditions will be held at Japfu Hotel, Kohima on May 29, which will be held for aspiring contestants from Phek and Kohima districts.

With five contestants from Tuensang and one from Kiphire, the number of contestants making it to the Naga Idol 5.10 screening round has now gone up to twenty-five.

Are You Quitting Facebook Today?

May 31, 2010


New Delhi, May 31 : The D-day is finally here. Notwithstanding the frantic proclamations made last week by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to reassure its users of their data privacy, thousands of disappointed users are set to bid adieu to the site on May 31.

A website called Quit Facebook Day had set the last day of May as the day when everyone keen to leave the social network should finally take the plunge and hit the Delete key.

According to reports, over 25,000 people of the over 450 million Facebook members have already registered as “Committed Facebook Quitters” via the Quit Facebook Today website.

Over the past few weeks, the world’s most popular social networking site has been facing severe criticism globally over privacy loopholes.

The popular Internet social hangout has been accused for exposing users’ information without their knowledge thanks to a confusing system for setting privacy safeguards.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of the site, admitted that it had made mistakes in its privacy policies.

The company promised that it would roll out changes over the coming weeks that would give users more powerful tools to prevent personal information from being accessed by others.

Zuckerberg said that the company would introduce simpler privacy settings as well as a way to block all third-party services.