Tripura BJP president Biplab Deb and thousands of party supporters courted arrest on Saturday while demanding for a CBI probe into the murder of a tribal leader in Dhalai district. Chan Mohan Tripura, an elected member of the Village Committee, a substitute of Gram Panchayat in tribal autonomous district council areas, was mowed down near his home in Ganddachara sub-division early last month.A few BJP supporters were injured in the scuffle with security forces in some places. The law disobedience agitation was organised in 62 places across Tripura’s eight districts.“Over 50,000 people courted arrest. We are overwhelmed by the support of people,” Mr. Deb said.He refused to accept the police report into the death of Chan Mohan, claiming the latter was killed by an unstable man. The police have maintained to have solved the case by arresting the accused.“We don’t trust the police working under the Left government. The murder was a fallout of a political conspiracy hatched by the CPI(M)”, Mr. Deb claimed.The ruling CPI(M) party condemned the stir and blamed the BJP for creating tension in the State.
The flood situation in Tripura improved on Saturday after the incessant rain abated. As many as 9,000 people, rendered homeless in the flash floods in the State, are housed in relief camps, said officials of the disaster management authority.The Opposition BJP alleged that the flood-hit were not provided adequate food and drinking water. “They are almost starving and government is reluctant to check their needs,” party’s State president Biplab Kumar Deb told newsmen. He said lack of proper provision to pump out stagnant water and unplanned sewerage systems were responsible for the floods in Agartala city. Brahmaputra in spateFloods in Assam claimed five lives on Saturday, taking the flood toll this year to 89. Nearly 11 lakh people across 19 districts have been affected. As many as 1,752 villages are under water and crops in over one lakh hectares has been damaged, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said.Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at Nimatighat in Jorhat, Dibrugarh town, Tezpur in Sonitpur and Dhubri town.Three dead in BengalFloods in north Bengal has not only affected the lives of lakhs of civilians but also the personnel of the Border Security Force.The Punarbhaba river, which runs parallel to the international border, has breached its banks resulting in knee-deep to waist-deep water in some areas in Malda district. Senior BSF officials said its personnel were guarding the posts in waist-deep water in two battalion areas. In Cooch Behar district alone, about 1.86 lakh people have been affected and about 500 flood relief centres have been set up. In Darjeeling district, two deaths have been reported. One woman was swept away in Sukhiapokhri, while another casualty was reported in a building collapse in Darjeeling. Several tea gardens of north Bengal are also under water.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that by not coming out with its manifesto for poll-bound Gujarat, it has shown “unbelievable disrespect” to the people of the State.Polling for 89 Assembly constituencies in Phase I of the election will be held on December 9. The second phase of voting will be held on December 14.“The BJP has shown unbelievable disrespect towards the people of Gujarat. Campaign is over and still no mention of a manifesto for the people, no vision and no ideas presented for Gujarat’s future,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter.The Congress released its manifesto for the election last Monday. Mr. Gandhi also questioned Mr. Modi on the ₹55,000 crore meant for tribal welfare. In his tenth question in the series ahead of the polls in the State, Mr. Gandhi targeted the Prime Minister on the plight of tribals in the State. He has been using the tagline ‘22 saal ka hisab, Gujarat maange jawab’ (Gujarat demands answers for 22 years of BJP rule) for his offensive.“Migration has broken the tribal society. Modiji, where have the ₹55,000 crore of the ‘Vanbandhu scheme’ gone?” Mr. Gandhi asked.He alleged on Twitter, “Snatched tribals land, did not give them rights over the jungle and lakhs of land ownership contracts have been held up. Neither did schools function nor did they get a hospital, neither house for the landless nor employment for the youth.”
A Mumbai-based elderly couple have made a heart-wrenching plea to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking permission for active euthanasia or “assisted suicide” as they feel they are of no use to society or themselves.Narayan Lavate (88) and his wife Iravati (78), who have no children and say their siblings are also no more, are of the view that keeping them alive against their wishes is a “waste of the country’s scarce resources as well as theirs”.The couple, residing at Charni Road in South Mumbai, has sought the President’s intervention as they feel it is unfair to compel them to wait to die till they are afflicted by any serious ailment, and to make theirs as an exceptional case of “active euthanasia”.“The President has the powers for showing mercy to those on death row. We are serving a life imprisonment and the President can show us mercy by allowing us to end our lives,” Mr. Lavate, who retired from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) in 1989, told PTI.He said if he and his wife, a retired school principal, decided to commit suicide by jumping from a terrace or hanging themselves, there was no guarantee they would die.“In Switzerland, there is an organisation called Dignitas for those who wish to end their lives. Qualified doctors who assist them in the process are not charged for abetment to suicide. We became members of the organisation but cannot go there since I don’t have a passport,” Mr. Lavate said. “Our aim of writing to the President is to make us an exceptional case for active euthanasia.”In his petition dated December 21, 2017, Mr. Lavate said he and his wife were in a reasonably good health and not suffering from any serious ailment.“We have already committed to donate our bodies after death and whatever little wealth we have, to the State treasury,” he said.
A lower committee of the Uttarakhand Madrassa Education Board (UMEB) has given its nod to a proposal seeking inclusion of Sanskrit and Computer Science as optional subjects in madrasas all over the State from the next academic session, UMEB Deputy Registrar Akhlaq Ahmad told PTI.At present, they offer Maths, Science, Ayush and Social Science as optional subjects.The proposal will now be moved to the upper committee for approval, he said.The Madrasa Welfare Society of Uttarakhand had recently approached the State government to include Sanskrit as one of the subjects.
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants beheaded a civilian in Bandipora’s Hajin, the police said on Friday.The headless body of Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, 25, a resident of Hajin, “was found at an orchard in Bonmohalla in Hajin” in the morning. On Wednesday night, Mr. Bhat was abducted by LeT militants, who left his father injured with firearm and knife injuries.“A local militant Muhammad Saleem Parrey is believed to have played a major role in the killing,” the police said.This is the second such civilian killing in a week by the LeT militants. The body of Muntazir Ahmed, who was abducted on April 3, was recovered in an orchard a day later, said the police. Last year, a similar case of slitting of throat by the militants surfaced in Hajin.Mehbooba condemnsChief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has condemned the beheading. “The inhuman way in which the youth was done to death is against the social ethos and cultural value system of the State,” said Ms. Mufti.Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah criticised the silence of spearatist leaders over the incident. “Any shutdown call or call for “peaceful protests” for Manzoor Ahmed who’s decapitated body was found. No? I’m not surprised,” he said.Militant killedThe police said one militant was killed in Pulwama’s Kgan when a patrol of the security forces came under fire. The security forces also arrested a foreign militant in Kupwara.“A joint operation was launched in Juggiyal, Turshan Mohalla, Hyhama and one militant hiding in the area was held,” said the police.
The Assam unit of Jamiat Ulama has criticised Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for indicating Arabic is redundant for madrasas in the State.In a discussion on education in the Assembly last week, Mr. Sarma questioned the need for madrasas in Assam to teach Arabic.“Is Assamese taught in Saudi Arabia that we should teach Arabic in Assam? It should be quid pro quo,” he said.This angered some Congress and All India United Democratic Front legislators. “Why then should we learn English when Assamese is not taught in England?” asked Rockybul Hussain of the Congress.Abdul Khaleque, another Congress MLA, said learning Arabic helped many youth of Assam get jobs in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries where the language was spoken and understood.“Why do you get provoked when I speak of Arabic. Are you citizens of Arabia? I am batting for modernising madrasas where mathematics, science and English are taught as well as Islamic texts, but in Assamese,” Mr. Sarma countered.On Sunday, the Jamiat said Mr. Sarma’s comment on Arabic was uncalled for. “Arabic is not only a religious language. It is an international language recognised by the United Nations, and is used in 54 countries,” said Maulana Fazlul Karim Qasimi, secretary of the Jamiat’s State unit.Mr. Qasimi pointed out Arabic was not for Muslims only. “Eight Hindu boys secured letter marks [80% or more] in Arabic from Shilaguri High Madrasa in Sipajhar ]north-central Assam],” he said.Mr. Sarma justified his view by saying Arabic as well as Sanskrit has no takers in institutes of higher education. “We pay ₹1.5 lakh as salary for each Arabic and Sanskrit teacher in colleges, though there aren’t the minimum 10 students per teacher,” he said.Stirs rowMr. Sarma had last year stirred a controversy by saying the State government would disband madrasa and Sanskrit boards and ‘mainstream’ them. He had earlier asked madrasas across the State to stop remaining shut on Fridays and shift their weekly off day uniformly with other educational institutions to Sunday.Assam had set up the Madrasa Education Board in 1934 with nine schools under it. After Independence, it was renamed as State Madrasa Education Board that now controls more than 700 madrasas.
Mumbai: The Congress on Monday announced that it will be contesting the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll, while the party leader and former MP Nana Patole may be given a chance from Bhandara-Gondia. This Lok Sabha seat was with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as per the seat-sharing formula between both parties. Maharashtra unit chief of the Congress Ashok Chavan said, “We will be contesting the Palghar seat and the decision on the candidate will be taken within a week. This seat is important for the party, and we will ensure that we win.” Meanwhile, Mr. Patole, former BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondia who is now with the Congress, said on Monday said that a decision on fielding him will be taken by top leadership. Sources within the Congress told The Hindu their options were limited. “Mr. Patole or NCP’s Praful Patel are the only options available with us for this by-poll. Traditionally the seat has been with the NCP and in case of exchange, top leaders of both the parties will have to reach to an agreement,” said a Congress leader. In an interview to a news channel, Mr. Patel said he would contest the 2019 general election from Bhandara-Gondia. “The decision on who will contest the bypoll will be taken in two-three days,” he said, adding there are no differences between him and Mr. Patole. When asked, Mr. Chavan said that in case Mr. Patole wants to contest the poll, the Congress president will take a final call. The BJP too is yet to announce it’s candidate though party sources said Tribal Affairs Minister Vishnu Savara could be fielded. MLA Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) which had won the seat in 2009 and was runner-up in 2014 too has chosen to keep its cards close to its chest. On Sunday, local leaders of Shiv Sena had held a meeting with party president Uddhav Thackeray demanding that the party should give a candidate as well. Mr Thackeray is to announce the decision this week.
The Jharkhand High Court on Friday quashed the contempt notice issued against Congress leader Manish Tiwari and Rahstriya Janata Dal leaders Shivanand Tiwari, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Tejaswi Yadav, by special CBI court in Ranchi hearing fodder scam case, RC 64A/96 pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of ₹84.53 lakh from the Deoghar treasury.RJD chief Lalu Prasad and others were convicted in the case while former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra was acquitted. Lalu Prasad was awarded 3.5 years jail and imposed a fine of ₹10 lakhs.The special CBI court of Justice Shiv Pal Singh, who had convicted Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam case on December 23 last year, had issued the contempt of court notice to Manish Tiwari and three other RJD leaders for making “adverse remarks on the judgment”.While issuing notices to them on January 3 the CBI court said that they have intentionally, by contemptuous and scandalous words, tended to lower down authority with their comments on the judgment of the court. The court asked them to submit their replies by January 23.Challenging this notice, Mr. Tiwari had earlier contended in the Jharkhand HC that the notice issued to him “fails to specify any scandalous instances, and was therefore issued in a mechanical manner”. The High Court had put a stay on the notice seeking reply from the CBI and the state government.On Friday, the Jharkhand High Court quashed the contempt notice issued to Manish Tiwari and others as they contended that the CBI judge do not have power to punish for contempt as such power can only be exercised by the High Courts and the Supreme Courts.
Nagpur: Former Maharashtra Congress president and cabinet minister Ranjeet Deshmukh on Tuesday withdrew a complaint of mental harassment filed on May 5 against his younger son Amol. Mr. Deshmukh, 62, is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and has been inactive in politics for over a decade now. He had accused his younger son of forcibly encroaching on the second and third floor of his bungalow in Civil Lines area.Amol Deshmukh is the national coordinator of the Congress party’s research department.The former Maharashtra Agriculture minister also accused his son of breaking locks of his rooms and forcibly occupying the space in his house.Though Mr. Deshmukh was not available for comments, Amol told reporters that it was a “small family matter” which had been sorted out amicably.“There are some elements who try to benefit from such feuds within prominent political families. This was a somewhat same incident. My father has withdrawn his complaint and the matter is closed now,” Amol Deshmukh told reporters.One of the most prominent political families of Vidarbha, the Deshmukh family has, for the last few months, been witnessing internal feuds related to its commercial establishments.Mr. Deshmukh’s elder son Ashish is a BJP MLA from Katol. Amol contested the 2014 elections from Ramtek Assembly seat on NCP ticket but lost to the BJP’s Mallikarjun Reddy.A few months back, the family-run hospitals in Nagpur were served notices for irregularities after Ashish revolted against the Chief Minister and demanded his resignation.
Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Tuesday asked the Assam Police Border Organisation to ensure all watch posts are functional by July 31 and give him an action taken report. The APBO was established in 1974 under the Prevention of Infiltration of Foreigners scheme. Cases are taken up by 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals across Assam based on reports made by the border police. A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said the Governor took “serious note” of reports about 39 out of 159 watch posts being non-functional and called the Additional DGP (Border) to look into the matter.
The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura on Wednesday lashed out at its coalition partner BJP for adopting violent means to prevent its candidates from filing nominations for the three-tier panchayat by-elections in the State. The party also issued a fresh threat that it was not eschewing its demand for a separate tribal State and announced to strive hard to achieve ‘Twipraland’.“We are very much surprised over violent incidents committed with the sole intention of preventing our candidates from submitting nomination papers. We request the State Election Commission to reschedule election in areas where the poll process was disturbed,” IPFT assistant general secretary and party spokesperson Mangal Debbarma told reporters after a meeting of the coordination committee comprising the IPFT and its front organisations. The meeting passed a resolution to appeal to the BJP for a discussion on all outstanding issues for the smooth functioning of the coalition government in the State.Statewide movement The party announced that it would coordinate with allied groups to launch a State-wide movement to press the demand for ‘Twipraland’. “The nature of the movement will be decided shortly by the coordination committee,” Mr. Debbarma added.The BJP deplored the statements of the IPFT and blamed it for the violence across the State. It said that several BJP leaders, including a party MLA, his spouse, and supporters, were injured in the incidents, which call for intervention of the security forces.The IPFT and the BJP had tied up for the Assembly elections in the State to rout the CPI(M)-led Left Front. However, they are fighting separately in the panchayat bypolls.In a related development, the CPI(M) continued its protest over pre-poll violence in the State. The party leaders and cadres staged a protest outside the office of the State Election Commission on Wednesday. The three-tier panchayat by-elections in Tripura will be held on September 30.
Assam’s Hailakandi district administration will serve a notice on a missionary school for seeking a declaration from parents or guardians that the school would not be responsible for any side effects resulting from measles-rubella vaccine.Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan said this amounted to creating panic about MR vaccination.Directing Inspector of Schools Rajiv Kumar Jha to serve the notice on the school authorities, the Deputy Commissioner said framing of own set of rules in contravention to the government and WHO guidelines will unnecessarily scare away the parents from vaccinating their children thus putting their lives in peril. Vaccination in the school is scheduled on October 4
In an all-out attack on Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav, independent MP Pappu Yadav, who is angling for two seats in the RJD-Congress mahagathbandhan in Bihar for the upcoming general election, said that a person who has never gone through the rough and tumble of politics should not be allowed to dictate terms.“Will a person who has been parachuted to the top post, who has never seen a street fight, who does not know geography or social sciences dictate on who should get how many seats,”Mr. Pappu Yadav told The Hindu.Amid reports that Mr. Pappu Yadav may join the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the RJD has made its reservations amply clear.Mr. Pappu Yadav was expelled from the RJD in 2015. He claimed that he was thrown out of the party to clear the path for Mr. Tejashwi Yadav’s elevation to the top post. Mr. PappuYadav’s wife Ranjeet Ranjan is a Congress MP from Supaul constituency.“I am ready to fight [in the Lok Sabha polls] all by myself on five seats in the State. But today is not the time for ego. I spoke to [Congress president] Rahul Gandhi and made my position clear that I need two seats —Madhepura and Purnea. He has assured me of his support,” Mr.Pappu Yadav said.Criticising Mr. Tejashwi Yadav’s recent tour to Lucknow to support the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party alliance and later joining the Opposition rally organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, he said that the RJD leader can’t be the kingmaker. “One day he is clicked touching Mayawati’s feet, the next day he is supporting prime ministerial ambitions of Mamata Banerjee. Who is he to play the kingmaker,” Mr. Pappu Yadav asked.He also slammed Mr. Tejashwi Yadav’s recent statement that the Congress should show generosity and leave more seats for regional players. “The Congress has helped his party and family every time. And now he seeks to show the Congress its place. If he is so confident then why doesn’t the RJD fight on its own,” he asked.He made it clear that his alliance will be with the Congress and not the RJD and even if the grand alliance fails to make space for him, he will contest from Madhepura and Purnea. “My politics is dictated by the people and not by any party,” he added.More troubleHis assertion spells more trouble for the mahagathbandhan in Bihar where around half-a-dozen parties are already seeking their share in the 40 Lok Sabha seats. The RJD does not want to spare more than 12 seats for the allies.
A fire accident at the head office of Yavatmal District Central Cooperative Bank Limited (YDCCB) gutted the documents, computers and furniture at around 2 a.m. on Thursday, a bank officer said. The fire broke out on the first floor of the main building of the bank and the watchman on duty, who noticed the flames, immediately contacted the fire brigade and senior bank officials. More than 40 computers, old documents and furniture were gutted and process is on to ascertain the exact damage, YDCCB chief officer Aravind Deshpande said.Two sections – agriculture and banking – suffered most of the damage, Mr. Deshpande said, adding documents dating back to more than 10 years ago were gutted. Fire tenders reached the spot and doused the flames, he said. Mr. Deshpande claimed a short-circuit caused the blaze. However, this could not be verified from the fire brigade officials. “Our data centre is safe and hence the functioning of the bank won’t be affected,” Mr. Deshpande said, adding data from YDCCB’s branches can be brought together to reconstruct the documents lost in the inferno. “Banking operations were carried out today as usual on the ground floor which was unaffected,” Mr. Deshpande added.
The Supreme Court’s June decision banning certain kinds of human gene patents is making waves again this week, threatening to submerge diagnostic tests in legal wrangling. On Wednesday, a U.S. district court in San Francisco invalidated a patent on a new, blood-based prenatal test for Down syndrome. The reason, according to the judge, is that the patent poses a “risk of preempting [other uses of] the natural phenomenon” that the test focuses on—fetal DNA that can be isolated from the mother’s blood.Judge Susan Illston wrote in her opinion that she invalidated the patent, held by the San Diego, California-based company Sequenom, based on several recent rulings, including the Supreme Court’s decision denying patent claims on BRCA genes used in cancer risk testing. She also cited an earlier court decision denying a patent for a blood test because it lacked inventiveness, offered by Prometheus Laboratories Inc. of San Diego, that measures risks linked to exposure to a therapeutic drug.This week’s decision affects a test for Down syndrome patented and marketed in 2011 by Sequenom. The test works in a novel way, by isolating fetal DNA from the mother’s bloodstream rather than by the older and riskier method of taking tissue from the womb (as in amniocentesis, for example). Another part of the novelty is the test’s efficiency: It uses the father’s DNA to cue a search for fetal DNA in circulation, then examines the isolated DNA for Down syndrome’s anomalies. Although Sequenom’s patent on the test (U.S. patent 6,258,540) claims a method of testing and not a natural product, Illston still ruled that it could lock up a “natural phenomenon.”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(*)If this decision stands, “I don’t see how you can maintain a genetic diagnostic claim anymore,” says Christopher Holman, a molecular biologist and professor of law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He finds two aspects of the decision striking: Its demand for greater inventiveness in the claimed method of testing, and its finding that Sequenom’s patent could preempt nature. Holman thinks some of the reasoning is “strange.” He points out that Sequenom had argued in court that other companies could continue to do fetal blood tests so long as they used a different method—and that there are other methods that could be used. But the judge didn’t buy this, Holman says: She ruled that other methods are not commercially viable, and for that reason, Sequenom’s claims were preemptive.One of those cheering the judge’s ruling is Ariosa Diagnostics of San Jose, California. This company, one of several rivals in this field, was the first to enter the legal battle in 2011: It wanted to offer a fetal DNA test of its own and took Sequenom to court to prevent Sequenom from getting the first jump with a patent infringement lawsuit. Sequenom countersued. Two other diagnostic companies joined the fray. This week’s decision is the outcome of that legal brawl. Yesterday, Ariosa issued a press release claiming it had won a “complete victory.”Sequenom, meanwhile, has served notice that it “vigorously disagrees” with the decision and intends to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., which specializes in patent disputes.
India officially will not treat cryptocurrencies as legal tender and will try to stop their use in payments, according to a Bloomberg report. This isn’t unexpected, given how the country sent tens of thousands of tax notices out after realizing virtual currencies are making $315 million worth of trade per month. While India has finally come out against cryptocurrencies, after repeated warnings that they were “Ponzi schemes,” the government will continue exploring the blockchain’s potential for the future digital economy.Read it at Engadget Related Items
The US could soon experience a shrinking talent pool in Computer Science and Engineering fields, with studies on international student enrollment showing a sharp decline in Indian graduate-students applying for courses there.Enrollment of Indian students in these courses dropped 21 percent, or 18,590 students, between 2016 and 2017, according to a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) citing analysis of data from the US Department of Homeland Security.Read it at Study International Related Items
In the recent Bollywood hit Swades, Shah Rukh Khan’s character, Mohan Bhargava, plans a visit to India to reconnect with his roots and search for his childhood caretaker, whom he misses dearly. Upon arrival, he discovers that she has moved into the country’s deep, rural hinterland and he embarks on a journey to locate her. He eventually does and spends the rest of his trip with her and the fellow villagers in a fictional town, deep in central-India. His quickie, two-week trip extends far longer and transforms into an intimate journey of discovery about himself and the people of his homeland.Kaushal Mehta : “I was taken aback by the extent of poverty.” It is an emotionally wrenching plot that tugs at the hearts of 20 million overseas Indians worldwide. The stupendous success of the movie in overseas Indian markets demonstrates that it touched a raw emotional nerve. But how removed from real life is the fictional Mohan? Little India explored the experience of three young, diverse NRIs – Kaushal Mehta, Venu Kohli, and Meeta Patel – on their first visit to the homeland.In the film, Mohan’s return journey was delayed because of the obligations of his job at NASA. NRIs can relate to those logistical concerns. Canadian-born Kohli, a newly minted college graduate, had never traveled to India because of pressing academic obligations: “I’ve actually wanting to go for a long time. This was the first opportunity that I had due to the fact that I was done school and had no other pending commitments at the time.”Mehta, 26, a recent biochemistry graduate from University of California, San Diego: “My family was in Kenya, my dad’s relatives were all in Kenya. In fact, my dad has only been to India once as a kid when he was 7. My mom’s side had come here to the states years ago. We did not have much family in India that was close. Therefore, we never went there. While, I consider myself pretty cultured for having not gone to India before, I wanted to see what it was like. I just felt I had to visit my roots. “He went with three other friends (who had been to India before) and his brother. His trip was laced with nervous excitement and childlike curiosity. “Since it was my first time, I wanted to go everywhere. I wasn’t sure where to stay since we had no family, so we just ended up staying in hotels. We booked all the nice ones and went to Delhi, Kerala, Bangalore, Mumbai, Goa and then, finally Gujarat. We did the whole tourist thing. I speak Gujrati and Hindi fluently since Kenya is kind of like ‘mini-India.’ I also learnt Hindi from friends and movies living in America and it proved to be very helpful there.”It is no surprise that mainstream Bollywood movies serve as cultural ambassadors to most NRIs abroad. But Swades is the rare Bollywood film rooted in the rural countryside of India, without the usual “fluff” of escapist India cinema of India. In the movie, Mohan visits a remote village to collect rent from a poor tenant. The experience leaves him depressed, tired, confused, and guilt-ridden because of the poverty he witnesses along the way.For the first time, he comprehends that while he had been living in a bubble of material comfort in the United States, many poor Indians were living contently even in poverty, which all the more ironical considering that a sense of contentment eluded him.Shah Rukh Khan in Swadesh.Mehta experienced a similar epiphany: “I didn’t like the fact that the value for life was not there. People were hungry, lots of beggars, and so on. I had heard that, but seeing it was a whole new story. I was also shocked by the class difference; one minute we were at the 5-star Taj Hotel, where you couldn’t tell that you were in India, and a block away, you could see people sleeping on the streets. I felt the rich had it really good and the poor had it just as bad. I still made every effort to talk to everyone there and ended up talking to all the cab drivers. They hardly made anything, but were happy. I had received so many warnings from people saying that to be careful, they’ll rip you off, or don’t leave your bags unattended, people will steal your money, among other horrible things. I didn’t find any of that to be true. On the contrary, I found people to be very helpful and very nice.”But the poverty was jarring. Says Kohli: “I was really taken back by the extent of poverty…. I wasn’t expecting to see so many homeless people everywhere I went. It was especially hard seeing the young children. All this was hard to adjust too at first”Like Mehta, Kohli carried with her a brewing curiosity, longing to travel all over India, and tried to cram as much as she could in her four week visit. “I spent a few days in Mumbai as well as Pune. I also stayed in New Delhi for two weeks and traveled to Jalandar and Amritsar. I went with my mom; all of her family, except for an uncle in California, resides in India. So we went to visit my family. I especially wanted to see my grandmother (my mom’s mother).”Before going, however, Kohli made sure she was abreast on the latest Indian trends and the general atmosphere using the latest Bollywood blockbuster as her guides. Did these images present themselves accurately as reference points? Kohli felt so. “I was actually quite surprised to see how alike the ‘India’ I knew from Hindi movies was to the ‘real’ thing, like the bazaars, taxi’s, rickshaws, and corruption. I was quite taken by the corruption that takes place in India and what having money really means. This meant how easy it is to buy your way through many situations. The amount of pollution, too, was shocking. I never expected it to be that bad!”Kohli’s laundry lists of annoyances were on a more micro-level, and, as she learned, a part of Indian culture that is unlikely change anytime soon. She was especially turned off by the lecherous looks of men, perennial traffic jams, constantly being called “madam,” overbearing and pesky annoying “tour guides” at every tourist attraction.Venu Kohli: “I was actually surprised to see how alike the ‘India’ I knew from Hindi movies was to the ‘real’ thing.” Nevertheless, she concedes her undeniable attraction with the culture and way of life: “There where many things I just loved. The food, the shopping, and, most importantly, seeing family that I’d never met before. I loved the scenery, most of the time. And even the weather, although it got unbearably hot at times. I enjoyed watching TV there, especially the Hindi dramas. In fact there was never “nothing to watch’” there! I enjoyed visiting places I had only seen on TV and in pictures, such as the Taj Mahal and The Golden Temple. I also enjoyed seeing where my parents grew up and learning a bit more about them.”It took some time for 26-year-old Patel to develop appreciation for the strange homeland of his forebears. He first had to come to terms with the pervasive poverty everywhere, which was a particularly painful ordeal to deal with because it was her first impression of the country. “It was the one thing that really upset me. As we left the airport and found our family the first thing I noticed was the distinguished smell and the heat. Then a little girl, no older then 5, and her younger brother, who was probably about 3, were both holding hands and they approached me. The little girl asked me for money, and before I could say anything the family that picked us up, made them leave us alone. It took me completely off guard, even though I knew before I came to India that it was a place with a lot of poverty. Sadly, seeing children beg for money during my trip became a very frequent sight.”Patel said she too had never traveled to India before because scholastic obligations. Her exposure to the homeland in adulthood, she says, developed in her an appreciation at her fortune at having the many opportunities she has had being born in America, which many of the India children will not – a conclusion that left Mohan eternally conflicted.As the trip progressed, Patel took mental notes of things that took her time to adjust, like the animals outside the door in the villages where she stayed, free-roaming elephants on the roads, and the howling wild dogs that would fight at night.Then there was the pervasive corruption and unpredictable electricity outages. “The police there are really corrupt. My aunt and I got pulled over, because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and he asked her from Rs 500. She bargained her way down to Rs 50 and then he let us go. And the power outages there was really annoying; electricity went out every 30 minutes!”Electricity played a big part of symbolism in Swades. For a westerner used to a near-flawless electric supply, even 30 minutes without electricity is a blunt reminder that India is indeed a different country. In the film, Mohan uses his cinematic liberties to build a mini-power plant for his adopted village.In “filmi” fashion, he infuses western solutions for a perennial Indian problem.In real life, that was not a option for the NRI travelers. Over time, like the locals, they adjusted the “fact of life” and did their best to cope in the searing heat.And they discovered an eye-opening and life changing experience. Patel rode in rickshaws, scooters, and trains. “It’s all really a different type of experience. There are no car seats, no traffic control, everyone piles up in one rickshaw,” Patel chuckles.She also visited the village her dad grew up in and the little house he lived in with 7 siblings. “I met relatives that I had not ever seen. It was really neat to see were my dad grew up with my uncles and aunts and the places that he had seen as a child. I met many of my dad’s oldest friends and college friends.”Don’t get any of them started on the food. Says Patel: “Before I left I was given specific instructions by my dad and fiancé not to eat off any of the food cart vendors and stalls in India on the street because, if I did, I’d get really sick. All this advice went out the door, because one day when me, my mom, my cousin and uncle went to a street were they had about 15 -20 carts of all this amazing food. I had to try it out! I ate samoas, bhel puri, dosas, and lots of other things. This became a regular thing and everyone was amazed that I did not get sick once. Something about the food there was just different. It was probably some of the best food I had ever eaten.”Mehta’s visit coincided with Holi, which proved a real-life Bollywood-sized event.“I was lucky enough to be there during Holi festival. It was the first time that I felt like I was reliving an event that I had only seen in Hindi movies.” The night before they started Holi with poojas, then the next day, the color-wars began. “It was amazing. We were all dressed in old clothing, mostly white, and then went from house to house coloring each other. It was so much fun. I was drenched in all kinds of colors to the point that my mom did not even recognize me. I think Holi is one of my most memorable times in India.”Shopping, however, wasn’t quite as glamorous. Patel, a self-confessed shop-a-holic, says she had never experienced the sheer brute force of Indian merchants and she wasn’t impressed by their antics. “Going there I was so thrilled to shop and buy all these different things and once I got there I just did not want to deal with the people at the shops. Going store to store seeing saris and outfits that I would never wear wore my patience out.“The people in the stores would show me things that were covered in embroidery or colors that I would not be caught dead in. The same things were shown over and over again and all the same comments, like, ‘sista’ this is newest style or new fashion or new color!’ After being at a store for an hour, they would finally bring out clothing that was little more to my taste. The prices were ridiculous in many of the places and a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was obvious that they knew we were from America. So they would double or triple the prices. I got really tired of the storeowners trying to push saris on me!”Does she see herself paying a return visit then? “Yes, of course. I plan to go back next year to India for my cousins wedding. And, I plan stay as long as I can. Just no shopping!” she vows.Mehta and Kohli are similarly hooked. The visit did little to satiate their curiosity, rather fanned it.In Swades, the simple act of returning to America, getting “back to normal” is not that simple for Mohan – not after his searing experience leads him to the conclusion that he is more Indian than American, symbolized in the movie’s signature song, “Yeh Jo Desh Hai Tera.”The experiences of Mehta, Kohli, and Patel, not being quite as dramatic as Mohan’s, do not lead them quite as far. But they are all mesmerized by India’s uncommon charm and recognize it as a part of their identity. With Mohan, they too can hum: Yeh jo desh hai tera, swades hai tera / tujhe hai pukara/ ye woh bandhan hai jo tooth nahin sakta (this country of yours is your motherland / and is calling out to you / this is a bond which can never break). Related Items