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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ghising in hills return bid? .. Bimal Gurung to announce further agitational programme in Darjeeling .. Prajwal -A Kalimpong writer

Mohan Prasad, SNS, KURSEONG, 27 NOV: After staying away for over two and a half years, the GNLF president, Mr Subash Ghisingh is likely to make a comeback of sorts to the Darjeeling Hills again tomorrow.
Mr Ghisingh, a close confidant of his says, is visiting Kurseong for a day tomorrow. The purpose of the trip, ostensibly, is to pray at the temple at Rohini near Kurseong town, but observers see in it a bid to test the waters for a possible permanent return to the Hills.
Mr Ghisingh left the Hills following a tumultuous public reaction to the murder of Pramila Sharma, a GJMM women wing activist on 25 July 2008. The GJMM had alleged that the GNLF Darjeeling branch chief, Mr Deepak Gurung shot her dead when the GJMM-affiliated Nari Morcha activists demonstrated in front of his home in Darjeeling. Mr Gurung is now in jail, awaiting trial.
Presumably to avoid further bloodshed, Mr Ghisingh left the Hills the next day. He stayed for a couple of months at a state government guest house in Siliguri.  Mr Ghisingh attempted to go back in August 2008 when his wife, Dhanmaya Ghisingh, died. But GJMM agitators blocked his way near Rohini. He had to come back to Siliguri and his wife was cremated there.  For the past two-and-a-half years he has been leading a sequestered life at a rented residence in Jalpaiguri.
According to Kurseong-based GNLF leaders, the object of his trip tomorrow is to test the situation in the hills with the GJMM having been weakened considerably following the assassination of AIGL leader Madan Tamang on 21 May this year. Currently, the GJMM is grappling with discontent both within and without in the wake of the leadership's climb-down on the statehood demand in favour of an interim council. “There is a possibility that he would come back to Darjeeling permanently if his arrival in Kurseong does not evoke hostile reactions like before,” said a GNLF leader. For tomorrow, however, he will be returning to Jalpaiguri after performing puja at the Rohini temple.

Bimal Gurung to announce further agitational programme in Darjeeling
KalimNews: Bimal Gurung President of GJMM will announce the programme for early settlement of GRA implementation. He will also announce an alternative agitational plan unless the tripartite talks for signing a MOU between the center, state and GJMM is arranged within the second week of December. A maha julus is organised on 28 November in Darjeeling motor stand where Gurung will address his party cadres.
Sources said that the Bidhan Sabha election of the state may be preponed and held in April- May. 
It is also understood that the agitational programme started from 14 November by GJMM ends today as such further programme for keeping the tempo of the demand for inclusion of Dooars and Terai will be contnued till the second week of December.
Jumbo killed one
KalimNews: In an attack by a herd of elephant one person died in Chalsa Tea Estate. Chaitu Baraik (51) of Kheldhura line of Chalsa TE under Matelli police station  died in an attck in the morning of 27 November.  

Prajwal Parajuly: The next big thing in short fiction

Sradda Thapa, My an avid reader of non-English writers who write in the English language, I’m convinced that it’s just a matter of months before the name of this 26-year-old Prajwal Parajuly will be on the tip of tongues around the world.
In fact, I daresay his name will be dropped in the same sentence as that of Prabal Gurung and Tshering Lama – as young folks who have achieved something spectacular, something unique to that of most Nepali aspirations, but something that can be appreciated by Nepalis and non-Nepalis alike.
From forcing The New York Times copy chief to acknowledge a grammatical error that passed the eyes of most readers to causing more than half a dozen literary agents at the London Book Fair – some as far as South Africa – to go on a scramble to sign him to getting accepted into Oxford University’s highly selective Master of Studies in Creative Writing, Parajuly has done it all.
Of course, those of us from or in the homeland will enjoy claiming him as one of ours, and how could we refrain? This Nepali-speaking Indian from Sikkim, with a father from Kalimpong and a mother from Nepal, has written a collection of short stories, chosen a literary agent – by no means an ordinary feat for a short story collection – and is currently picking out a publisher. The author of the tentatively titled Himalayan Sunset may still be toying with the title of his book and, yes, he’s young, but the sensitivity and experience emanating from his stories remind us of seasoned writers like Arundhati Roy and Chinua Achebe.
This will be the first time an author will have written a work of fiction in English combining both stories of Nepalis and Nepali-speaking Indians. However, even if the characters are Nepalis or Nepali-speaking Indians, the stories of traveling across oceans, migrating to new continents and searching for one’s identity will resonate with citizens around the world. After all, it’s not just middle-class girls from Kathmandu waiting for the arrival of their Green Cards, or young boys from Kalimpong delivering Chicken Tikka to tenants of apartments in Manhattan. Such tales of travel, tribulations and temptations surpass national boundaries and identities, yet they are some things citizens across the world can relate to.
Susan Yearwood, Prajwal’s UK-based literary agent, describes his writing as having a “strong authorial voice that is educated yet not stilted” and adds that he reminds her of “Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, who are world renowned for writing about people in countries we hardly hear about unless there is some kind of conflict going on.”

Yearwood is right. Nepal is experiencing a turbulent transition period and Nepali-speaking Indians are fighting for the declaration of Gorkhaland. But like the works of Lahiri and Adichie, Prajwal’s work will resonate with readers from across nations.
Parajuly has come a long way, from being the youngest columnist at The Himalayan Times, all at the age 17, to working as the editor-in-chief of the award-winning magazine, Detours: An Explorer’s Guide to the Midwest. Early last year, he quit his enviable position as advertising executive of The Village Voice, America’s flagship alternative weekly, and gave up a life of celeb-studded and red-carpet events to hit the dusty backroads of eastern Nepal and Northeast India.
Here’s an exclusive with our very own Prajwal Parajuly:
Prajwal, when you wrote this book, you quit your job at The Village Voice. What compelled you to leave a high-paying jet-lifestyle career in NYC to travel to eastern Nepal, India and Bhutan?
I was in Jackson Heights, Queens, in early September two years ago, at the much loved Himalayan Yak Restaurant. Imagine my shock and confusion when I picked a Nepali paper and took more time than I ever had to read a paragraph. It had been close to ten years since I last thought of the three different types of “Sas” (the letter). I was forgetting my own language. It was a sad feeling – this realization that Nepali was gradually slithering into the background of my life. Couple that with not having written anything creatively for a long time, and you knew a book recipe had to be brewing in there somewhere (smiles).
The situation at the home front was a huge motivator, too. The Prashant Tamang [Indian Idol] victory had given the Gorkhaland movement a new impetus, and the Bhutanese refugee situation continued to nag me. There were so many stories out there that needed to be told that the world was unaware of. That’s where the serious idea to work on a book took birth. It took a few more weeks to incubate. My advertising executive job at The Village Voice was good, the money was decent, and the lifestyle it guaranteed was difficult to separate myself from. But making money and rubbing shoulders with folks whose names you enjoy dropping get old, as does steering away from having a conscience. And just like that, much to the chagrin of my parents, I quit. It was the best decision of my life, one that I haven’t regretted even in dreadful times like three weeks of perseverance yielding barely a hundred words of usable writing.
You are an English-trained student but a Nepali-speaking individual. Is this your only reason for choosing to write a story that’s distinctively “Nepali” in the English language? Or were you interested in catering to an English-speaking Nepali or altogether foreign audience?
I write in English because it’s a language I’m comfortable with. I like to believe that my written Nepali isn’t too shoddy, either, and am considering, with the help of family members, translating my work into Nepali.
When I wrote my book, I didn’t have a reader in mind. I wrote the book for myself, to unleash all these stories that had been marinating inside me for sometime. The first draft of the book received interest from several Indian publishing houses and foreign literary agents, and I’ve signed with Susan Yearwood at the Susan Yearwood Literary Agency to represent my book for a variety of reasons. Because she’s primarily based in the U.K., the book might first be published there. It’ll come to South Asia soon after that.
Your childhood and hometown seem to have greatly influenced the contents of your writing – of course, writers are to write what they know best – but why did you choose identities and the Bhutanese experience of it being wrapped in?
I write about what’s happening around me, what’s happening to people I know. I’ve had an inchoate sense of what was happening in Bhutan, what problems third-country settlement brings with it. I’ve spent time in the refugee camps of Khudanabari in Nepal, and among refugees in Denver, USA, and also with Bhutanese people, to understand an issue that has often vilified Bhutan. What’s strange is that there’s been no real solution to the refugee problem at all – and that’s pretty sad. Even if they do resettle down in Bhutan, two decades of their lives have been lost to doing nothing. It’s a heart-wrenching situation.
I’ve seen the way some people in these parts of the world have treated Muslims, so one of my stories deals with a Muslim Panwallah who’s done no wrong but still has to bear the brunt of being a minority. My stories are definitely loaded with such socio-political undertones. I try exploring caste/class/religion and identity dynamics while keeping the stories fresh and vibrant.
Stories of Bhutanese refugee aside, how much of reality do you incorporate into this collection? Are your characters, for instance, inspired or imagined?

Fiction in so many ways is inspired by reality. Most of my characters are people who’ve evolved from my own imagination, though. I concoct a character, create his or her Facebook page, decide what he or she likes, what his or her tastes in music, reading, hobbies are like. Often, I mix and match various people’s characteristics to come up with what I hope are believable and intriguing characters.
The issues are very real – like the doctoring of H1B visas in America and the plight of DV Lottery winners – but the people are often my own creation. A few similarities here and there are purely coincidental.
Your stories are works of fiction, but the settings are so real – from issues related to the plight of Nepali workers in the US to ethnic tensions in Gorkhaland and Nepal, to refugees being resettled. How did you arrive at these contexts and reconcile such backdrops with your stories?
As I said before, the issues described in the book are very real. Again, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll say it’s easy to write about these issues when they are happening near you. I’ve noticed, for instance, in many Nepali-speaking – I use the term because it’s more inclusive, it includes Nepali-speaking Indians, too – households that a distance creeps in the relationship of fathers and daughters after the daughters reach puberty. To capture that in a story was the most natural thing to do.
I heard so many stories of rapes and molestations in the refugee camps of Khudanabari. If we think that domestic violence doesn’t exist in our society, we probably have been living on another planet. I’ve tried incorporating various aspects of what I see around me. Better still, I’ve tried incorporating into my stories various aspects of lives sometimes concealed.
Your characters are Nepalis and the setting relate to that of Nepalis – whether they are children of Gurkha soldiers living in Kathmandu, students in the Northeast hills, or servants in New York City. How do you think non-Nepalis will be able to grasp and appreciate the Nepalipan of such stories?
Because irrespective of what language the characters speak, what class or caste they belong to, where in northeast India or Nepal they are from, at the end of the day, my characters aren’t very different from other people. They struggle with love, hatred, jealousy and temptation, ambition and relationships like everyone else in the world. We also, like any other race, have our idiosyncrasies, our quirks, no doubt, but non-Nepali-speaking readers should be able to identify with universal emotions. Quirks like our not being able to roll our tongues when we pronounce words like “ship,” “international” and “shop” for them to be “sip”, “internasanal” and “sop” which should delight a reader not familiar with Nepalipan. The way we chew our khaini is another one. Nepali-speaking people in foreign lands craving momos is another.
Not being able to sleep because you are desperate for momos may be quintessentially Nepali, Nepali-speaking or Tibetan, but having a hankering for foods from your homeland is a universal thing. How could non-Nepali readers not be able to grasp that?
In recent years, we in South Asia have seen a bourgeoning of Nepali writers in the English language who write for the English-speaking South Asians, but also for the wider English speaking audience. Are there other language groups you hope to attract and translate the book into? If so, which ones and why?
I went into writing this book with a closed mind. I wrote it to satisfy myself, to fulfill an important dream. As the work progressed, I became relatively more open-minded. If the book attracts readers from all over the world, then so be it. In fact, there’s nothing like it (Smiles). To be honest, it might be too early at this publishing stage to consider translations, although I’ll be lying if I said if I didn’t think of Hindi and Nepali translations.
Are you familiar with books published by Nepali and Indian writers in the English language?
I recently read a book called “New Nepal, New Voices,” and I loved Sushma Joshi’s writing in it. Joshi’s was an amazing food-focused story. It was so well done. I thought Peter J. Karthak’s story was good, too. Among Indian authors, I think Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth are brilliant. I’ve just begun reading Rohinton Mistry. He does such a great job of writing about a closeted world.
You’re currently pursuing a Masters at Oxford. How has your undergraduate education, work experience and writing helped, or hindered, the learning process at the institute?
The program is a Master of Studies in Creative Writing. I’ve just started it and it’s fabulous. I have excellent, award-winning writers for tutors and a group of likeminded individuals for fellow students. My cohorts are so talented and helpful! The kind of productivity being in such a company engenders is amazing. It’s so invigorating. You’re constantly writing, constantly thinking, and constantly being creative. Since starting school here, I’ve devoted more than a dozen back-to-back sixteen-hour days to editing sessions and writing a ninth story (Himalayan Sunset consists of nine stories. The book is 70,000-words-long). My agent, editor and I are finally satisfied with the script.
Any advice to new – not just young! – writers who’re interested in writing works of fiction, short stories, novels?
Writing is hard. You need dedication – a lot of it. Often, you’ll sit in front of the computer for days, frustrated out of your mind because you haven’t been able to capture a father-daughter relationship effectively enough. However, if it’s what you really want to do, do it NOW because you’ll probably never do it if that sense of urgency is just not there. People have often asked me how I intend to monetize writing. My answer: I don’t care if I don’t make a penny out of it. I’ll be quick to admit that I’m not one of those people who think money is unimportant. It’s very important to me, but I don’t write to make money. I write because I’ll go crazy if I don’t. I can always make money from other avenues – real estate, business, investments, etc. – and if it comes out of writing, sure, I’ll take it.
Finally, any other works we can watch out for?
I’ll start a novel now, an idea that makes my agent happy. I have a faint idea of what it’ll be about, but that’s all you’ll get from me now (smiles). It should be done by the end of 2012.

(Compiled and Published by J.N. Manokaran  ( on behalf of Glocal Resources Development Associates)

I           India
1.     Death penalty should be given in dowry death: SC: The Supreme Court today said that death sentence should be awarded in dowry death and bride burning cases as they fall under the "rarest of rarest" category while observing the Indian society has become totally sick and commercial. A bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra in an order said time has come to stamp out the evil of bride killing cases with an iron hand so that it acts as a deterrent. However, the apex court took strong exception to the manner in which the victim was strangulated and burnt to death which, it said, revealed the growing commercialisation and scant respect for women in the country. "The hallmark of a healthy society is the respect it shows to women. Indian society has become a sick society. This is evident from the large number of cases coming up in this court (and also in almost all courts in the country) in which young women are being killed by their husbands or by their in-laws by pouring kerosene on them and setting them on fire or by hanging/strangulating them. "What is the level of civilisation of a society in which a large number of women are treated in this horrendeous and barbaric manner? What has our society become. This is illustrated by this case," the bench said. The apex court said that crimes against women are not ordinary crimes committed in a fit of anger or for property. "They are social crimes. They disrupt the entire social fabric. Hence, they call for harsh punishment. Unfortunately, what is happening in our society is that out of lust for money, people are often demanding dowry and after extracting such money they kill the wife and marry again and then again they commit the murder of their wife for the same purpose. "This is because of total commercialisation of our society, and lust for money which induces people to commit murder of the wife. The time has come when we have to stamp out this evil from our society with an iron hand," the bench said while dismissing the appeal. ( on 29 October 2010)
2.     70% girls in Hindi belt marry before 18: NCW: The National Commission for Women said it was "alarming" that around 70 per cent of girls are below 18 at the time of their marriage in Hindi-speaking states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar. Furnishing details, NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said 73 per cent girls under 18 marry in Madhya Pradesh followed by Rajasthan 68 per cent, Bihar 67 per cent and Uttar Pradesh 64 per cent. She described the incidence as alarming and said that in Andhra Pradesh too 71 per cent girls tied the knot while still below 18. She said it was found that even in two districts in Kerala there was child marriage despite education being "quite good" in the state. ( accessed on 30 October 2010)
3.     '86% of all medical trips are made by rural Indians': Indians made 126 million domestic trips for medical purposes, spending over Rs 23,000 crore on such trips, over the span of one year (2008-09) alone. That, incidentally, is about 30% more than the Union health budget for the same year. While most international medical tourists to India make the journey because it offers massive cost savings, domestic medical tourism is largely driven by poor health infrastructure in rural areas and small towns. That's clear from the fact that 86% of all trips taken for medical purposes are by rural Indians and the poorest spend much more proportionally on medical tourism than the rich. The data is part of the National Sample Survey Organisation's (NSSO) 65th round on tourism, which estimates the number and purpose of trips taken by persons in its representative sample of seven lakh people, as well as their expenditure on such trips. The survey defines a ''trip'' as the movement for a period of not more than six months by one or more household members travelling to a place outside their usual environment and return to their usual place of residence for purposes other than migration or employment and which is outside their regular routine of life. The data shows that trips for health and medical purposes form 7% of all overnight trips for the rural population and about 3.5% for the urban population. While ''social'' purposes were the main reason for travel for both rural and urban residents, ''holidaying and leisure'' accounted for even less than medical travel — 2% and 5% for rural and urban India respectively. Similarly, 17% of same-day trips in rural India and 8% in urban India were for health reasons. While calculating the expenditure on a trip, the NSSO includes all goods and services bought or consumed by the traveller. The high cost of healthcare is borne out by the fact that trips for health and medical purposes were four times as expensive as the average trip for both rural and urban populations. Medical trips were much more expensive for the family than even shopping trips. (Rukmini Shrinivasan, accessed on 11 November 2010)
4.    Breaking News:
MTC identifies bus routes prone to sexual harassment: The Chennai police have joined hands with MTC to crack down on footboard romeos' and other tormentors of women. MTC has identified a list of seven bus routes, where trouble-makers are on the prowl. The routes identified are 33 (MKB Nagar to High Court), 45B (Anna Square to Guindy Industrial Estate), 47 (Adyar to Villivakkam) , 47 A (Besant Nagar to ICF), 29 C (Perambur to Besant Nagar), 27 D (Foreshore Estate to Villivakkam) and 27 H (Avadi to Triplicane). Since such incidents happen in crowded buses, many women said that plying more buses on the identified routes would help. The police will deploy more personnel at bus stops on these routes, including personnel in plainclothes. According to the crime records bureau, 42 cases of harassment of women have been booked this year till October. A majority of such incidents happens on buses or at bus stops. MTC officials said that tormentors of women were not always men, but often teenagers too. (Vivek Narayanan. accessed on 11 November 2010)
5.   Access to education is difficult for Indian kidsDespite the Right to Education Act, access to education is an everyday struggle for many Indian kids because of challenges like inaccessibility to schools and unavailability of teachers. According to a child rights group, CRY, there are 17,282 eligible habitations which don't have a primary school within a one kilometre radius. Uttar Pradesh leads the pack with 7,568 school-less habitations. In addition to that, there are 26,513 habitations which don't have an upper primary school within a three km radius. According to CRY, more than 80 lakh children in the age group of six to 14 are out of school. ( accessed on 14 November 2010)
6.    Gujarat tops in pace of urbanization: The latest National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report, 'Migration in India', has found Gujarat to have the highest rate of urbanisation among all other states in the country. Based on a survey carried out by NSSO across India in 2007 and 2008, the report significantly suggests that fast pace of urbanisation in Gujarat is mainly due to intra-state migration with large sections of rural people migrating to urban areas within the state instead of going out. The report has found that 6.5% of all urban households in Gujarat are of migrants from within the state, which is the highest in the country. This is followed by Kerala (6.4%) and others. Maharashtra is on the lower side at 2.9%. Again, 90.6% of Gujarat's rural migrants refuse to go outside the state, finding the state a better place to live in, which is the main reason for the rapid pace of urbanisation. Of these, 60.7% go to another district and 29.8% shift to another place in the same district. ( accessed on 14 November 2010)
7.    Urban kids unhealthy; addicted to TV, internet: A recent independent study covering over 4000 children across 15 cities suggests that one in every three children below 10 years of age is either underweight or overweight. Children today don't play outside and 80 per cent of them talk about their playtime as their play station or computer time. Children aged 5 to 10 were assessed on co-ordination, flexibility and agility. While many of them can score a perfect 90 in Maths and Science, at least one-third couldn't easily sit and stretch, swing and jump or even throw. The verdict is clear: unhealthy kids grow up to unhealthy adults. It's a combination of not having enough time to play and enough space to play. There is parental lack of attention, lack of willingness and lack of role-models. (Deepa Balakrishnan,  accessed on 14 November 2010)
8.    There are more than 16,000 illegal dangerous properties in Delhi, as per MCD records: There are more than 16,000 illegal properties in Delhi that came to Municipal Corporation of Delhi's notice during the period between 2003 and 2010. However, sources point out that the actual number could be more than 2,00,000. "Those who are influential and are in the business of construction, escape the law by influencing the officials with the help of their money and political connections. The building department officials are bribed in crores and illegal constructions go on with impunity," they said. A recent building collapse killed over 66 people and injured many.  ( accessed on 17 November 2010)
9.   Unemployment rate at 9.4 pc in 2009-10 fiscal: Survey:  According to the first national-level household survey conducted by the Labour Bureau under the Labour and Employment Ministry, out of 1,000 employed people, 455 were working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors during the period. This was followed by 89 people employed in the manufacturing sector, 88 in the wholesale and retail trade, 84 people in community services and 75 in construction sector. The survey was conducted with a view to study the overall employment-unemployment situation in 300 districts of 28 states and Union Territories except the North Eastern states, a government statement said. It said in the rural sector, the unemployment rate was estimated at 10.1 per cent while in urban areas, it stood at 7.3 per cent of the total labour force. It also revealed that out of 1,000 people employed, 439 were self-employed. Among the self-employed persons, majority were employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries (572 out of 1000) followed by 135 people in the wholesale and retail trade. The total worker-population ratio was estimated at 325 people per 1,000 people. A total of 45,859 households were covered during the survey, out of which 24,653 were in rural areas and 21,206 in urban areas. ( accessed on 14 November 2010)
10.    City of dreams? Over 8m slumdwellers in Mumbai by 2011: The country's financial capital Mumbai will have around 8.68 million people living in slums by next year, notwithstanding the high growth economy and focus on " inclusiveness". Mumbai is followed by Delhi with 3.16 million people estimated to be living in slums by 2011, compared to 2.3 million in 2001, according to a new methodology adopted by an expert panel appointed by the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry. Though Mumbai's slum population was 6.5 million in the 2001 census, the panel's methodology estimated it at 6.8 million. The expert committee, set up to estimate "reliable" urban slum population, said the country's slum population had grown by 17.8 million people in the last decade. The committee, headed by Pranab Sen, principal adviser to the Planning Commission and former chief statistician, projected the slum population in 2011 at 93.06 million, up from 75.26 million in 2001 as per the new methodology. The 2001 census figures pegged the slum population at 52.40 million. Among metros, Kolkata will have around 1.78 million people living in slums by 2011 as against 1.57 million in 2001, followed by Chennai with 1.02 million as against 0.86 million. Among states, Maharashtra tops the chart with around 18.15 million living in slums in 2011, followed by UP (10.87 million), TN (8.60 million), West Bengal (8.50 million) and Andhra Pradesh (8.10 million). According to the committee's estimates, Maharashtra's slum population in 2001 was 14.30 million, followed by UP (8.50 million), West Bengal (7.50 million), Tamil Nadu (7.30 million) and Andhra Pradesh (7.20 million), while 2001 census figures showed that 11.20 million of the total slum population of the country was in Maharashtra followed by Andhra Pradesh (5.20 million), UP (4.40 million) and West Bengal (4.10 million). The committee recommended adopting a normative definition based on appropriate indicators and checklists for the purpose of identification of slum areas and enumeration of population of area with 20-25 households, having slum-like characteristics in an enumeration block in census 2011. All clusters of 20-25 or more households having no roof or non-concrete roof, and no facility of drinking water, toilets or drainage will be considered as slums. (Mahendra Kumar Singh, accessed on 15 November 2010). 
11.    88% women subjected to sexual harassment at workplace in IT sector: survey: The “Workplace Sexual Harassment Survey,'' carried out by the Centre for Transforming India, a non-profit organisation in the Information Technology and BPO/KPO industries has brought out some startling revelations:  about the status of implementation of policies to prevent such harassment. has claimed that nearly 88 per cent of the female workforce in Indian Information Technology and business process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing (BPO/KPO) companies reported having suffered some form of workplace sexual harassment during the course of their work. Close to 50 per cent women had been subjected to abusive language, physical contact or been sought sexual favours. As many as 47 per cent employees did not know where to report, while 91 per cent did not report for fear of being victimised. The survey covering 600 female employees working in IT and BPO industries across all the major IT destinations of India revealed that there exists poor awareness levels among female employees on the issue and a majority of female employees continued with their ordeal due to fear of professional victimisation. Another major finding was that more than 82 per cent of the incidents which could be classified as sexual incidents occurred outside the boundaries of the office and in nearly 72 per cent of the incidents the perpetrator was a superior. Workplace sexual harassment has been emerging as a critical challenge for female employees working across industries, especially in the service sector. While the manufacturing industry is largely regulated in terms of its working environment, there exists little or no framework for reference of the service industry. Furthermore, the service industry faces a challenge of working 24x7 which entails working at odd hours for the female employees and also other professional and personal challenges. It was observed that 60 per cent of the respondents were not aware of the workplace sexual harassment policies of their organisations. Around 10 per cent were only partially aware. This was a hurdle in getting redressal. Of all the respondents, 77 per cent stated that the details of sexual harassment policies were not part of their hiring process, while only 7 per cent stated that they could recollect some discussion about the topic either during their hiring process or later. (Aarti Dhar, accessed on 15 November 2010)
12.    Black money trail: 'India drained of Rs 20 lakh crore during 1948-2008': In a season of swindles, kickbacks and scams, here is some more on the mother of them all. Black money — the popular moniker given to the billions seeded by dirty deals and whisked away abroad from the taxman's prying eyes — has received much attention in recent years. A new study by an international watchdog on the illicit flight of money from the country, perhaps the first ever attempt at shedding light on a subject steeped in secrecy, concludes that India has been drained of $462 billion (Rs 20,556,848,000,000 or over Rs 20 lakh crore) between 1948 and 2008. The amount is nearly 40% of India's gross domestic product, and nearly 12 times the size of the estimated loss to the government because of the 2G spectrum scam. The study has been authored by Dev Kar, a lead economist with the US-based Global Financial Integrity, a non-profit research body that has long crusaded against illegal capital flight. Mr Kar, a former senior economist with the International Monetary Fund, says illicit financial flows out of India have grown at 11.5% a year, debunking a popular notion that economic reforms that began nearly two decades ago had tempered the creation and stashing away of black money overseas. If capital outflows were a child of the independence era, the problem came of age in the years after the reforms kicked in. Nearly 50% of the total illegal outflows occurred since 1991. Around a third of the money exited the country between 2000 and 2008. "It shows that reforms seem to have accelerated the transfer of black money abroad," says Mr Kar, whose study titled.  'The Drivers and Dynamics of Illicit Financial Flows from India: 1948-2008' sifts through piles of data on the issue over a period of 61 years. An overhaul in the global financial system is central to a lasting solution. New tax havens will spring forth when pressure mounts on existing ones. That is not to say there are only a few tax havens out there. Indeed, at least 91 such hotspots flourish across the globe. Asian countries, particularly ThailandSingaporeHong Kong and Macau, too are emerging as new destinations for parking illicit funds. Besides Switzerland and Mauritius, Indian money is also said to end up in Seychelles and Macau. Due to the illicit nature of these deposits, pinpointing the journey's end of the bulk of India's black money is tenuous at best. There is lack of statistics and data; If these indicators were counted, India's total illicit outflows would well be half a trillion dollars. (Binoy Prabhakar, accessed on 18 November 2010)
13.    A Wake-up Call:  United Nations Development Programme (INDP) finds India having abysmal record in human development parameters.  India is ranked 119.  Norway is number one, while the fourth place goes to US.  Russia is in 68; Brazil in 73 while China is in 98.  Gross National Income per capita is USD 3337 for India while it is 58810 for Norway; 47084 for US; 15258 for Russia; 10607 for Brazil and 7258 for China.  In the case of education, the mean years of schooling is 12.6 for Norway; 12.4 for US; 8.8 for Russia; 7.2 for Brazil; 7.5 for China and 4.4 for India.  1.3% of Russia; 8.5 of Brazil; 12.5% of China and 55.4% of India’s population are considered poor.  Life expectancy at birth:  Norway 81; US 79.6; china 73.5; Brazil 72.9; 67.2 Russia and 64.4 India.  Expenditure on health per capita in USD:  Norway 4763; US 7285; Russia 797; Brazil 837; China 233 and India 109.  (Business Today 28 November 2010, p. 30-31.)
14.    Drug peddlers prey on students, as cops look the other way: Beneath the yuppie neighbourhoods and suburban collegian havens, simmers a Bandra that is quickly becoming a major hub for drug traffickers. An undercover investigation carried out by MiD DAY reveals a drug clientele of mostly students from nearby colleges who are served by about two dozen peddlers in the area. It also revealed that the police are helpless to stop these dealers because of their backing by local politicians. The sting carried out by this reporter points to how drugs are being sold in the narrow lanes of Patel Nagri, barely 100 metres from Bandra (West) railway station. The dealer under investigation was offering hashish (charas) and brown sugar at Rs 60 for a packet of 2 gms. The business runs like a chain. The location of den is publicised by word of mouth. Insiders informed that some of the dealers enjoy the protection of local politicians.
A tukdi or pack weighs around 2 grams and consists of the drug wrapped and stapled in a very small polythene bag. The consignment is usually stacked in container full of grains. By conservative estimates each dealer is able to sell around 2,000 packets per day. The business starts at 5 am in the morning and extends till well past midnight. In an another case, a cobbler outside a local college is also known to sell tukdis. He sells around 500 tukdis a day. (Sayed Roshan, accessed on 20 December 2010.)
15.    84% of Chennai kids are on online social networking: 84% of Chennai's children with access to computers are on those sites. Surprisingly, this is a rung above Bangalore (83%), though Delhi and Mumbai leads with 86% of their children on social networking sites. These are some of the findigs of a survey conducted by Tata Consultancy Service on 10,000 children in the age group of 12- 18 in 11 cities across India. Chennai equalled the national average of 65% when it comes to chatting online. Chatting is followed by sports or games (55%) and reading or studying (38%). Many also use it for listening to music (27%), watching TV (31%) and movies (8%). Experts in different fields see both good news and bad news in the findings. The bad news is that several children are on social networking sites below the legally permissible age. Many sites allow children only above the age of 14 to register, but often kids fake their age to gain access. Some teachers feel that children who spend much of their time online find it hard to concentrate in class and their chat lingo affecting their English. ( accessed on 21 November 2010)
16.    Watching pornography at private residence no offence, Bombay high court holds
The court quashed the  criminal case under section 292 (public exhibition of obscene material) of Indian Penal Code against 28 men and 11 women, some of them customs officials. There was no "public exhibition" as specified in the IPC, Justice VK Tahilramani held.Police had filed the criminal cases under the petitioners after busting a "rave party" at Taj Cottage, Prichly Hill, Lonavala on August 26, 2008.Police alleged that men were intoxicated, were throwing money at dancing women, and watching a porn film.But high court upheld the contention that the film was being watched at a private residence, and the Cottage was not a hotel or a lodge, so it could not be termed as a "public place". Justice Tahilramani said it was not even the prosecution's case that anyone from the public could walk into it at any point. "Hence, it cannot be said that there was any public exhibition of obscene films in the bungalow," she said, quashing proceeding under section 292. ( accessed on 25 November 2010
17.    Preparatory course readies Christian couples for marriage: With marriages today falling apart because of trivial issues, the Catholic Church has become more careful on making the couples do a marriage preparatory course before the couple enters into the holy sacrament of matrimony. The couple is asked to do this course at least six months prior to their marriage and the documentation work of their marriage cannot go ahead until they have completed this course. A few of the topics that are spoken about at the preparatory course include marriage being a sacrament, handling differences and conflicts, how to handle finances, intimacy and first pregnancy, abortion and marriage procedures and the documentation work that goes in it. Snehalaya Family Service Center, Mahim is the place where all young couples, who intend to get married, have to go in order to register for the course. But in order to make life easy of the couples, the same course has been started in Navi Mumbai. The resource people who conduct the marriage preparatory course are first trained well by the priests at Snehalaya. Aspects such as bringing up children according to the Christian values and natural family planning are also touched upon. We have seen cases where couples have delayed their marriages after doing the course, because they realised that they were not ready for this holy sacrament yet. (Richa Pinto, accessed on 27 November 2010)
18.    TN women lose battle of bulge: Tamil Nadu is witnessing a growing problem among women. After Punjab and Kerala, Tamil Nadu is the state with the maximum number of obese women in the country. With 20.9% of the women in the age group of 15-49 having a body mass index which is above normal, the state is way ahead of the national average of 12.6. The National Family Health Survey, 2009 shows that though Tamil Nadu is one of the states with the least number of malnourished women, it also has also a large number of obese women. Endocrinologists and dieticians blame this on the sudden change in lifestyle, generally sedentary habits of women and their genetic make up. Women in Tamil Nadu have been upwardly mobile and lot of them now go out to work. Though this is a very positive trend, women nowadays find no time to cook nutritious meals at home. This results in their having more junk food at erratic times. Long working hours add to the problem. The decreased physical activity of women who do not find time to exercise between their hectic official schedules. Women in south India are genetically inclined to put on weight. Habits like squatting and sitting on the floor makes them more vulnerable to degenerative osteoarthritis. As a race we are a more academic and sedentary population and not a warrior raceDieticians feel that increase in intake of carbohydrates and decrease in intake of vegetables, fruits and proteins are the main reasons for women putting on weight.States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala are moving away from traditional diets.Vegetables, fruits and proteins like various pulses and dals are very important parts of our diet because vegetables regulate blood pressure and cholestrol, prevent certain cancers and are a rich source of vital vitamins and minerals which help bodily functions. While most families in the state eat only 250-300 grams of vegetables a day, the prescribed intake is 600-800 grams of intake for a family of four. ( on 27 November 2010)
II Indian Diaspora
Indian-American Nikki Haley creates history, wins South Carolina governorshipIndian-American Nikki Haley created history today by becoming the first woman governor of South Carolina, with her Republican party trouncing the Democratic party of US President Barack Obama in the nationwide mid-term elections. Born to Sikh parents who migrated from Punjab, Haley created history by becoming the first woman to occupy the governor's mansion of South Carolina.She is only the second India-American to be a Governor of a US State after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; and also the first Indian-American woman governor. ( accessed on 3 November 2010)
III  Global
1.     Hu Jintao pips Obama to become most powerful person: Forbes:Chinese President Hu Jintao has been named the most powerful person in the world by Forbes, ahead of US President Barack Obama who is ranked second among 68 people "who matter," a list that also includes Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Gandhi ranks 9th on the Forbes 2010 list of the 'World's Most Powerful People.' Singh comes in at number 18. India's business tycoons Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tataand head of ArcelorMittal, Lakshmi Mittal also make the list. Of the 6.8 billion people on the planet, Forbes' list comprises "the 68 who matter." The heads of state, major religious figures, entrepreneurs and outlaws on the second annual list were chosen "because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will." Jintao, 67, occupies the top slot for being the "paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet" and one who "exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of world's population." Forbes said unlike his Western counterparts, Hu, head of the world's largest army in size, can "divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts." His country, which refuses to "kowtow" to US pressure to change its exchange-rate regime, recently surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy both in absolute and purchasing power terms. China is also poised to overtake the US as the world's largest economy in 25 years. "Creditor nation oversees world's largest reserves at 2.65 trillion dollars - 1.5 trillion dollars of which is in US dollar holdings," Forbes said. His handpicked successor, Xi Jinping, is set to assume the presidency in 2012. Forbes said the second most powerful person in the world is Obama. The 49-year old first African-American President of the US can however "take comfort" in the fact that he remains commander-in-chief of the world's largest, deadliest military, leader of world's largest - in spending - and most dynamic economy and holds the unofficial title of "Leader of the Free World," Forbes said. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was not featured in Forbes' recent list of the world's most powerful women, is named the 9th most powerful person in the world. The 63-year old leader was recently elected to record fourth term as head of India's ruling Congress Party, "cementing status as true heiress to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty." Forbes said despite her Italian birth, foreign religion and political reluctance, "Gandhi wields unequalled influence over 1.2 billion Indians." Crediting her for "handpicking brainy Sikh economist Manmohan Singh as prime minister," Forbes said Gandhi remains the real power behind the nuclear-tipped throne and is grooming 40-year-old son Rahul for prime minister role. Singh, "universally praised as India's best prime minister since Nehru," ranks 18th on the list. Forbes said the soft-spoken Oxford-trained economist is "ideally trained to lead the world's fourth-largest economy in terms of purchasing power into next decade." Credited with transforming India's quasi-socialist economy into the world's second-fastest growing, 78-year old Singh is now enjoying fruits of the free-market policies he implemented as India's finance minister in early 1990s. "The World Bankforecasts India's GDP will surge 7.6% in 2010, another 8% in 2011; not far behind its 9% forecast for China. Speaking of: Slow and steady will win the race." Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud is ranked third, followed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (4), Pope Benedict XVI (5), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (6), UK Prime Minister David Cameron (7), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (8) and spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (39). Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the "quiet army chief now Pakistan's de facto leader," ranks 29th. Forbes said 58-year old Kayani took lead on flood crisis, "controls Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency and recently demanded President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani dismiss corrupt members of their bloated 60-member cabinet." His term was extended three years in July. On the 31st spot is North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Even though his health appears to be fading, 68-year old Kim remains in firm control of "renegade nuclear power and its 22.7 million impoverished people." He keeps the world on edge with eccentric antics. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, is now the Hermit Kingdom's heir apparent. ( accessed on 4 November 2010).
2.     India to receive $55 billion remittances in 2010: Indian expatriates are expected to remit about $55 billion into the country this year as the number of emigrants from the nation is likely to clock 11.4 million, a new World Bank report said. India is likely to stay as the top receiver of remittances in 2010, as inflows of $51 billion to China keeps it a place down, with Mexico at third spot, expecting $22.6 billion from its overseas population. The World Bank in its 'Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011' report said worldwide inflows are expected to reach $440 billion by the year end, with remittances to developing nations are likely to reach a record $325 billion from the 2009 figure of $307 billion. The top remitting countries in 2009 were United States ($48.3 billion),Saudi Arabia ($26 billion) and Switzerland ($19.6 billion). Remittances remained a resilient of external financing during the recent global financial crisis and were steady despite the pangs of financial reconstruction in the developed world, the report said. As high-income countries remain the main source of remittance flows, migration to the developed economies grouping saw an increase. India ranks second in the top three emigration countries with 11.4 million of its population chose overseas destinations. Mexico tops the chart with 11.9 million figure and Russia getting third position having 11.1 million people working in other countries. India-UAE is among the top 10 migration corridors with 2.2 million migrants. Mexico-US is expected to be the largest migration corridor in the world, followed by Russia-Ukraine, Ukraine-Russia and Bangladesh-India. World Bank said majority of expatriates in the Gulf hail from India, Pakistan, Sri LankaEgyptPhilippinesBangladeshYemenIran andSudan. According to the Factbook 2011, the top migrant destination country remains the United States that kept 42.8 million immigrants, followed by Russia (12.3 million), Germany (10.8 million, Saudi Arabia (7.3 million), Canada (7.2 million), United Kingdom (7.0 million), Spain (6.9 million), France (6.7 million), Australia (5.5 million), India (5.4 million), Ukraine (5.3 million), Italy (4.5 million) and Pakistan (4.2 million). ( accessed on 14 November 2010)
3.     Facebook to launch email service: Social networking website Facebook is likely to offer email services to its 500 million users to compete with Gmail and Yahoo Mail, making it the largest such service provider on the planet. TechCrunch, a leading Silicon Valley technology blog, has reported that the social network plans to announce a web-based email service — complete with addresses — at an event in San Francisco. The blog said that Facebook's planned email service was part of a secret project known as ‘Project Titan,' which is “unofficially referred to internally as its ‘Gmail killer.'” Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are already scrambling to retool their email services to build them more around people's social connections. Facebook would have a tremendous advantage because it owns a vast trove of data about people's relationships and would find it easier to graft email onto its existing social services, such as photo-sharing. The launch of the new service will be made official on Monday, along with a likely announcement of a strategic alliance with Microsoft to incorporate the functionality of Facebook in Office applications. The new Facebook email will fully integrate the social network, using the working model of the network of friends. If it is announced, a Facebook email service would allow its more than 500 million members to communicate with anyone inside or outside the walls of the social network. If they use it, Facebook would leapfrog the 361 million global users of Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo Mail's 273 million, and Gmail's 193 million.  ( accessed on 15 November 2010)

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