Sunday, August 12, 2012
Self Motivation is the Key to Development for the Northeast People in India Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar What is the criterion for success? Is it just access to infinite opportunities? Definitely not! Getting a chance to showcase one’s skill or talent does not guarantee success. One has to have the right attitude and confidence in oneself to achieve success in life. This is exactly what the northeast people need to learn. Once they do so, they can be at par with the rest of the country. It is true that the northeast region is not as developed as the rest of India. There is a lot that needs to be done and it would require a considerable amount of time and investment before the northeast states can be counted as one of the developed regions of India. However, that does not, in any way, imply that the people belonging to those regions are not capable of competing with others. What is needed is a change in attitude and this can be brought about by self-motivation. Decoding Self-motivation: What is motivation? It is a positive feeling that inspires us to perform a particular action by giving our best in it. Motivation can be given by others. The most common example is that of teachers and parents motivating us to study hard in order to get good results so that we can be successful in life. Self-motivation is when you, and not anyone else, inspire yourself to put your best foot forward into something and always have a positive approach towards life and its hurdles. Self-motivation is extremely important for success. When a problem arises or one is faced with a difficult challenge in life, the first reaction for most people is always to give up or feel helpless and pessimistic. There is nothing wrong in feeling so. However, if this negative feeling lingers and is not overcome, it can turn out to be an impediment on the way to success. For this reason, it is imperative to change this negative feeling into a positive one with the help of self-motivation. How Can Northeast People Self-Motivate Themselves: The first thing that northeast people need to do in order to be at the same pedestal as others is to give up any feeling of inferiority. Just because a region is not that developed, it does not mean its inhabitants are inferior to that of others. It is not possible for any country to have uniformly developed states. Some pockets will be highly developed while others will be short of it. This is the first lesson that northeast people ought to learn in order to get over any inferiority complex. This is because such feelings often act as a hindrance in development and advancement. You feel under-confident and afraid to face the world. You are unable to communicate properly because the feeling of being inferior to others is always at the back of your mind. Therefore, the first step towards self-motivation is eliminating all thoughts of inferiority and inadequacy. Secondly, they have to have a positive outlook and approach. They have to instill a never-say-die attitude in themselves so that they do not shy away from challenges and make the most of every opportunity they get. Originating from an under-developed region, they might have limited opportunities and exposure. However, that should not be a reason for giving up and feeling neglected and victimized. Instead, they have to utilize these limited prospects and climb the ladder of success in life. Nothing can be achieved by complaining and playing the blame game. It can only increase frustration and disappointment. The northeast people have to understand this simple truth and embrace everything with a smile in order to emerge triumphant in the end. Thirdly, the northeast people ought to learn the art of moving on. It is true that there have been quite a few cases of northeast students having to endure discriminatory attitudes and behaviors from others in the recent past. Many politicians and ministers have also accepted this fact, the latest being union minister Agatha Sangma who proclaimed in the wake of the sad demise of Dana Sangma belonging to Amity University that cases of discrimination against northeast people are quite common in Delhi and such other metropolis. However, this should not be interpreted as the norm simply because it is not. Such cases can be best described as aberrations. The northeast people need to understand this and not get bogged down by all this. It is often seen that the greatest impediment to self-motivation is some of our own pre-conceived notions and beliefs. We are so deeply influenced by them that they govern our decisions. However, what is needed is an objective evaluation or analysis of the situation keeping aside certain prejudices and biases. Once we do that, we can come out of these false and harmful notions and be suitably self-motivated to take on the world. In the case of the northeast people, the few cases of discrimination and violence often act as the barrier to self-motivation. Such incidents prompt them to believe that they too will be treated like that if they go out of their state. Thus the best option is to stay within the comfort zone and give up those dreams and aspirations. However, they need to realize such stray cases should not be considered as the yardstick for judging the kind of behavior shown to them when they step out of their states. Also, running from a problem doesn’t really solve it. You need to confront it head on to contest and eliminate it altogether. This is exactly how the attitude of the northeasterners should be which can only come from self-motivation. The northeast folk can get self-motivated by looking at the eminent personalities from their states who have managed to make a mark in the field of politics, sports, art, science etc. One prominent example is that of Purno Agitak Sangma who is in the running for this year’s presidential election to be held on 19th July. They can get inspired from their achievements and try to move the legacy forward by breaking new grounds and accomplishing several feats. Thus it can be said the self-motivation is integral to the success and mainstream acceptance of northeast people.
The Total Absence of the Dowry Menace in Northeast India Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar India has been plagued with the menace of dowry since time immemorial. What is most disturbing is that even after so much effort and attempt to create awareness against it we have not been able to eradicate this evil from our society. It is still rampant all over India and we keep hearing about dowry deaths every now and then from newspapers, television channels and other media of communication. However, this dismal picture is in stark contrast to the one prevalent in Northeast India. Quite surprisingly, the concept of dowry is virtually absent in this part of the country thereby setting an example for the rest to follow. Northeast India has never been counted as one of the most developed regions of the country. Rather, it has always been accused of lagging behind especially in terms of improvement and development. However, the northeast region has clearly left everyone behind in this one aspect. At a time when cases of dowry tortures and murders are a common reality all over India, the northeast is the sole region which is devoid of this malady. This is quite inspirational and motivating. How Does the Dowry System Work in the Northeast states: The northeast people are anyways known to be very hospitable and gentle. Their tenderness and amiability are also reflected in the total absence of social and cultural evils like sati, dowry, caste conflicts and communal riots in their region. The custom that is followed in the northeast states such as Assam is very different from what is the norm elsewhere. Here, it is the groom’s parents that send bridal dress, cosmetics and ornaments to the bride on the occasion of marriage. Now compare this with the custom prevalent in other states. There, not only do the bride’s parents have to arrange for everything from bridal costume to jewellery with their own money but also make sure they are of a certain standard in order to maintain status symbol and prevent their daughter from being harassed by her new in-laws. The best thing about northeast marriages is that the bride’s father is completely free to give his daughter what he wants. That means if a family is not financially capable of gifting anything to their daughter at the time of marriage it is perfectly acceptable. There won’t be any criticism or backlash because of it. In the northeast, the wedding reception is arranged separately by both sides at their own cost. What is more, at times, one side also provides financial assistance to the other as a show of oneness. However, unlike the rest of India, such monetary help is not one-sided and only given by the bride’s side. There are ample cases when the groom’s family helps with the wedding expenses of the bride’s happily and willingly. The northeast people have a completely new approach towards dowry. They equate it with bribe which is given when the bride is inferior to the groom. Thus if a father gives dowry for her daughter, it implies that he is accepting the fact that her daughter is indeed inferior to the boy. Now, it is a given that no father would accept such a condescending fact. This attitude has been highly instrumental in keeping the evil custom of dowry away from the land of the northeast. One of the prominent reasons for the lack of dowry demands in states like Meghalaya, Assam and Manipur is that women there enjoy much less gender discrimination and greater mobility. Brides’ parents are not forced to give costly gifts at the time of marriage. Moreover, they do not view marriage as an occasion to display one’s superiority and affluence. Naturally, dowry and other such evils take a backseat. A closer look at the innumerable cases of dowry death and harassment reported in newspapers and the like will reveal the fact that not one of them is from the northeast region. This is because they do not allow any kind of exchange of gifts from the beginning in a solemn affair like marriage. This eliminates any room for further demands and expectations and that is why cases of violence and torture do not take place in the northeast states. If the rest of India can follow this custom, the country can become a good place to live in especially for new bridegrooms and their families.
Ray of Hope for Northeast and Tribal Population with Purno Sangma’s Expected Presidential Win Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar With the presidential election for the post of India’s 13th president getting nearer, there has been a renewed interest for tribal groups and northeast regions of the country. The obvious reason for that is the nomination of Purno Sangma for this year’s presidential contest the result of which is set to be announced on July 22. Belonging to the tribal community, his candidature has fuelled a lot of expectations and the trade is abuzz with conjectures that India is going to get its first tribal president in the form of Sangma. He, on his part, has already ascribed his nomination to be a triumph of tribal unity. What is remarkable is that Sangma has been getting a lot of support and approval from different political parties and leaders. For instance, Salkam Murmu, former Mayurbanjh MP and Jharkhand Disom Party member, has appealed to the political parties to extend their support to Sangma so that he is able to don the mantle of India’s first tribal president. According to him, most parties speak a lot about doing something productive for the uplift of the tribal population. Now, they have got an opportunity to do their bit by helping elect a person who can stand up for the cause of the tribal population and their development. Murmu himself is one such man who, along with his party members, has been pursuing the cause of the development of tribal sect in the northeast for many years now. Sangma also has the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in his support which is in favor of a tribal president winning the election this time around. Ramesh Hansda, the district committee president of East Singhbhum JMM, has clearly said that a resolution will be passed by his committee which will then be sent to the central committee of the party for the purpose of endorsing the selection of a tribal president this time around in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Though he has maintained that their support is not restricted only to Sangma but any tribal candidate, it is likely to benefit Purno significantly since he is the only tribal leader in the running this time around. The nomination of Sangma for the post of India’s 13th President has raked up the issue of the rights of the Scheduled Tribe community once again. This is evident from the comments made by Surya Singh Besra, the president of Jharkhand People’s Party and former MLA that the ST community which comprises of around nine to ten percent of the country’s total population ought to be represented in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He has clearly said that at a time when so much effort is being made to assimilate tribal and northeastern people into the mainstream, it is but likely to have a tribal candidate in the celebrated Rashtrapati Bhavan. The same thought has been echoed by C R Majhi, the president of All India Jharkhand Party (AIJP). He has stated that the hundred million tribal population of India has the constitutional power to seek the post of the President and therefore it is but natural for one of them to be elected so. Thus it can be seen that Sangma has a lot of support going for him which can help him ace the election and go on to become India’s first tribal president. He is also leaving no stone unturned to make sure victory is his. Campaigning has already started and Sangma recently joined a group of dancers belonging to the tribal community who were performing at the Constitution Club and happily played drums with them. It was a happy moment and along with sharing their enthusiasm, he also did his bit to promote his candidature. With Pranab Mukherjee as his rival candidate in the presidential election, competition is stiff and therefore such promotional activities are necessary to ensure victory in the elections. How Can Sangma’s Presidential Win Benefit the Northeast States and the Tribal Population: There is little doubt about the fact that the northeast region of our country is seriously lagging behind in practically all respects when compared to the rest of India. improved in spite of several promises and directives. The condition of the tribal population is worse with no means of development available for them with the help of which they can look forward to a better and more respectable life. In such a scenario, the news of a tribal leader being selected for presidential candidature has given a new ray of hope to people belonging to the northeast and the tribal population. P.A. Sangma is originally from Meghalaya and is a tribal of the ‘Garo’ variety. Naturally, his candidature has aroused a lot of interest amongst the tribal group. They feel that his win can work wonders for their future and help them be at par with the rest of the world. Such expectations are quite natural because he himself has attributed his nomination to the victory of the tribes and thus it is surmised that if he comes in power, he will work towards improving the overall condition of the northeastern states and living condition of the tribal population and make them a part of the mainstream. It is not that efforts have not been made earlier to better the position of the tribes in the northeast region and make the states more developed. But those have been sporadic which haven’t really made a significant impact. It is expected that with Sangma’s win, proper development will be facilitated which will bring the northeastern states on a common platform with the other popular states of India. The vast cultural and racial difference of the northeast people from the rest of the country can be said to be the most prominent reason for their alienation and lack of development. Of late, there have been some cases of suicide of northeast students whose main cause can be attributed to a discriminatory attitude meted out to them because of their different and alien cultural background. Case in point is the recent suicide of Dana Silva Sangma who had apparently taken her life because of the public humiliation suffered by her owing to cheating charges in examination. In fact, Mukul Sangma, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, had personally commented on this incident saying that he has come across many cases where northeast students had to face humiliation on account of their ethnicity and culture. (Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org www.conantinstitute.org.in) if Sangma becomes the new president, it can be expected that the situation will become better for northeast students along with the tribal population of that region. It is assumed that he will help breed familiarity with the culture and traditions of the northeast for the rest of India so that the tribal folk as well as the northeast people do not have to face discriminatory or resentful attitude from others. We have had many instances in the past when a political leader after getting elected has done admirable work for his hometown and his people. The same is expected of Sangma and it remains to be seen whether he lives up to the expectations built around him if he wins the election that is.
Depression and Suicidal Problem among Students of Northeast Depression and Suicidal Tendencies: A Rising Problem Amongst NE Students Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar The recent suicide of Dana Silva Sangma has turned the spotlight once again on the sensitive and controversial issue of discrimination and racial targeting of north east students in India. Dana Sangma who originated from Meghalaya was pursing her MBA from Amity University in Gurgaon. She took the drastic step of committing suicide after being debarred from giving her examination on account of cheating. The college authorities maintained that they had caught her using a mobile while giving her exam because of which she was stopped from continuing her examination. However, according to Sangma’s friends, the invigilator who was in charge of the examination on that particular day had verbally abused and insulted her in front of all the students present there. This prompted her to take such an extreme step of hanging herself from the ceiling fan of her hostel room. This unfortunate incident has raked up the old issue of northeast students being discriminated against on grounds of race and caste and this time, it seems to be in no mood of dying down. The northeast population has even gone to the extent of saying that had the girl been from any other part of India, institutional reaction would have been much quicker thus pointing to the fact that there is indeed an indifference when it comes to taking action against discriminatory behavior towards northeast students. If that is thought to be true even partially, it points to an obvious blotch in the integrity and unity of the nation. It is okay to be proud of one’s culture and to celebrate it with gusto. However, such celebration should not come at the cost of other people’s emotions and sentiments. One should not be demeaned to highlight the other. But that is exactly what is happening because of which suicide cases of northeast students are on the rise. In fact, Mukul Sangma who is Meghalaya’s Chief Minister and is also the uncle of Dana said that she is not the first or only one to face such behavior. Many youths and students belonging to Northeast have, on several occasions, confessed to him that discrimination has been faced by them in the NCR region as well as the capital. Elaborating on the issue, he also added that Dana was made to fill up a form or questionnaire by the university officials after she was allegedly caught cheating while giving her exam. She had clearly stated in the questionnaire that she had not copied. In fact, she had studied satisfactorily for the exam and had no chance of failing. Mukul Sangma’s views once again corroborate the fact that a discriminatory attitude continues to exist for northeast people which often drives them to the path of suicide. This is indeed lamentable and disheartening. Reason behind the Increasing Suicidal Tendencies of Northeast Students: Alienation is known to trigger suicidal thoughts significantly and prejudiced opinion and a racist attitude does just that for northeast students. It alienates them to such an extent that they become compelled to end their lives than face the humiliation repeatedly. The racist attitude that prevails among the rest of India against southeast people is manifested in a number of ways ranging from rude comments and stares to facile judgments and stereotyping. Misconceptions have a very important role to play in this regard. There are certain myths that surround the lifestyle and ethics of people hailing from the northeast. In most cases, they are not very flattering and the students have to bear the brunt of them. They are constantly humiliated on account of such unfounded and baseless views and this hurts their self-esteem and morale significantly. When faced for a considerable period of time, it usually invites suicidal thoughts which ultimately find fruition when the next instance of humiliation or victimization happens. Women are at greater risk of such prejudices because along with facing emotional trauma, they also become victims of sexual harassment. There are ample examples of incidents in the last few years that demonstrate this fact clearly. The worst part is that their hometowns do not offer much scope in terms of education and employment. The ‘seven sisters’ of northeast India that include Meghalaya, Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh are not very developed in terms of infrastructure and facilities because of which northeast residents are compelled to move out and shift base to more developed cities and states. Being at a tender age and lacking the physical presence of their families around them, they often succumb to these prejudiced incidents and situations. All these play an instrumental rule in increasing suicidal tendencies amongst southeast students. Other Factors at Play: However, it won’t be right to attribute prejudiced opinions and discriminatory attitudes against northeast students to be the only reason for their rising suicidal tendencies. There are other factors at play too one of which is the usual poor performance in examinations. This is one problem that plagues the whole teenage generation of India and the northeast students are no different. Just a few months back, a 19-year-old northeast student hailing from Assam and studying at Delhi University took his life by hanging himself. The student Samiran Saikia was only in his first year and was a botany student at Hindu College. Though the police did not find any suicide note, it was suggested by his fellow lodgers that he was very depressed for the past few days because of his poor performance in exams. It was thus understood that he committed suicide owing to this. This throws light on another pressing problem that contributes to the act of committing suicide significantly. Parents often have high expectations from their children and when they cannot live up to it or feel that they are not competent enough, decide to end their lives thereby saving embarrassment for their family. At times, students also set higher goals for themselves which, when not met, ends in disappointment ultimately leading to suicide. For northeast students, the situation is a bit more problematic since they also have other issues to take care of among which one is resentment from fellow students. Hope for a Better Future: As discussed earlier, the prejudiced behavior meted out to northeast students arises from ignorance about the problems faced by the youth coming from such regions. These include inadequate health care facilities and employment opportunities and limited higher education provisions. This can be overcome by strengthening the bond between northeast people and the rest of the country. This is only possible if orientation courses are developed for all students which encompass comprehensive information about such regions and their people, the problems and situations of different states and so on. As for tackling violence against northeast students which often compel them to resort to suicide, a special cell has been formed by the central government known as ‘Connect Cell’. A joint secretary level officer would head this cell and tackle all issues of discrimination against people coming from the northeast region. Along with it, an interactive website has also been developed especially for them so that they can address their grievances and complaints and are not forced to take the dreaded step of committing suicide. It is hoped that with the application of these measures, this menace of suicide can be curbed if not stopped altogether. 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London Olympic and India’s Expectation Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar India Expected to Shine Brightly In the 2012 London Olympics - The wait is finally over and the countdown has begun for this year’s Summer Olympics to be held from 27th July to 12th August in London. There is a strong buzz surrounding the event and curiosity and interest are ripe on the part of the Indian viewers. The Indian sportspersons participating in the event are naturally all geared up for the occasion and are ready to give it their best shot. Expectations are riding high especially since India has had a good run in the past couple of years in the Olympics. Even a decade back, the scenario was starkly different. Olympic was mostly about ensuring participation for the Indian athletes at the last hour without much hope for winning a medal or two. Getting entry into the event was enough. However, the 2008 Beijing Olympics changed the scene completely. It was the year Abhinav Bindra brought home our 1st individual gold medal along with boxer Vijender and wrestler Sushil Kumar each securing a bronze medal. This marked India’s emergence in the Olympic scene and there has been no looking back since. The 2010 Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games have also been witness to some spectacular performances from our athletes so that expectations have suitably built up around them for the forthcoming London Olympics. The Indian government is not far behind too in expressing its enthusiasm over the grand event. It has already planned to allot around 2500 million in preparation for the games with 200 million scheduled only for foreign coaches to train our fellow athletes. Thus the government too is leaving no stone unturned to secure a good position for Indian athletes at the occasion. There is enough reason to feel gung-ho about the fast-approaching London Olympics because India has earned qualification in a wide range of disciplines. Naturally, it is expected that we will break even in a good number of categories. To begin with, a significant number of shooters and pugilists have ensured their place in the event. Again, many field and track athletes are in the race for bagging a handful of medals. The same picture is evident in other categories too. Indian athletes are also a part of other disciplines like archery, swimming, badminton, table tennis, tennis, rowing, weightlifting and so on. In wrestling, there is a female participant this time named Geeta along with the usual male contenders. Again, the Indian men’s hockey team is in the running. Athletes to watch out for in the London Olympics 2012 - Though India is competing in a plethora of categories, there are some players on whom everyone has pinned their hopes on. The top 5 players expected to make India proud in the London Olympics this year include: Saina Nehwal: This 22-year old ace badminton player has innumerable gold medals to her credit which make her one of the top contenders and India’s hope for this year’s Summer Olympics. The fact that she ranks as the 5th best badminton player in the whole world at present speaks a lot about her craft and performance. Nehwal came into the global limelight in 2006 when she won the prestigious Philippines Open, a first for India. The fact that she had gone as the 84th seed into the tournament made her achievement all the more inspiring and remarkable. Much was written about her and she was heralded as the talent to watch out for. She proved that her success was not a flash in the pan by following it up with a bronze win in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. However, her best was yet to come. It was in the 2008 Beijing Olympics that she shone the brightest. She became the 1st woman from India to secure a position in the singles quarterfinal of the Olympics. Next year i.e. in 2009, she won the Indonesian Open where again she became the 1st Indian to achieve a Super Series tournament win. Naturally, she is touted as one of the strongest bets for the London Olympics. She is expected to create magic this year too and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what she’ll do this time round. Sushil Kumar: This lad from southwest New Delhi hit it big time when he won a gold medal more than a decade ago in 1998 at the World Cadet Games held in Moscow. It was soon followed by a gold win at the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in 2000. His magic moment came with his bronze win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics which made him the 2nd Indian wrestler to win a medal in the Olympic. He was bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the highest sporting honor in our country, for his spectacular performance in the Beijing Olympic. On a lighter note, the 2010 Commonwealth Games participants voted him the most popular athlete. He also appeared earlier this year on the popular television adventure reality show, MTV Roadies where he was seen teaching a thing or two about wrestling to the hapless contestants. Now, it remains to be seen how he fares in the upcoming London Olympics. Vijender Singh: This ace boxer’s first brush with the boxing ring happened when he was all of 11 years. He was noticed by the popular Indian boxer Jagdish Singh when he was practicing his art at a local club in his small village. The former boxer gave him encouragement to pursue his passion and take it up as a full-time profession. What is more, he also agreed to be his mentor and thus began Vijender Singh’s journey. Singh excelled at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by being the 1st Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal. He won a bronze medal which was followed by another win at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championship held in Milan. Because of this, the AIBA International Boxing Association gave him the tag of the best middleweight boxer in the world. Naturally, everyone has high hopes from him in the London Olympics 2012. Gagan Narang: This shooter has as many as 13 gold medals to his credit. He first emerged on the scene during his first gold medal win at a tournament held in Hyderabad in the year 2003. The journey has been continuing since and with repeated success. His performance has been particularly exemplary in the last two Commonwealth Games editions where he bagged four gold medals. He is also known for setting a world record at the 2008 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup held in Bangkok by scoring a staggering 703.5 points at the 10 meter air rifle shoot. Quite obviously, there is a lot to look forward to from this Hyderabad-based shooter in the London Olympics 2012. Krishna Poonia: She will be showing her mettle in the event of discuss throw. Her sports career started in the year 2006 at the Doha Asian Games where she bagged the bronze medal and the next step was obviously the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her biggest achievement till date remains her gold medal win at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi where she cleared a distance of 61.5m with her discus. Being the 1st Indian woman to secure gold in this sport at any key important sporting event, there is immense buzz about her with regard to the impending London Olympics. (Feedback – firstname.lastname@example.org www.conantinstitute.org.in)
India Awaits Its Thirteen President; Renewed Hope for NE Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar Republic of India got its first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 26th January, 1950. Thereafter, India has got eleven more presidents with the thirteenth president to be elected on 22nd July, 2012. Though the next president would be thirteenth in sequence, the election is 14th serially. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president was elected for two terms in 1950 and in 1957. Presidents of India Decoded Chronologically (1) Dr. Rajendra Prasad (from 26th January 1950 to 13th May, 1962) – Dr. Prasad enjoys the distinction of being the first President of independent India. He was elected so on 26th January 1950. He is also credited with being the longest serving Indian President till date. Born on 3rd December, 1884 in Siwan, Bihar, Dr. Prasad completed his M.A. in Economics from Calcutta University, in 1907 and became an English professor in Bhumihar Brahman College in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. He joined Indian National Congress in 1911 and became its President in 1934 and later in 1939 and 1947. (2) Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (from 13th May 1962 to 13th May 1967) – Dr. Radhakrishnan was elected India’s second President in 1962 and was in office till 1967. He received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 1954 and was later awarded Order of Merit in 1963. Born on 5th September, 1888 in Thiruttani in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Radhakrishnan grew up to be an eminent scholar, teacher and philosopher. His accomplishment as a teacher is most noteworthy because of which his birthday, which is on 5th September, is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in our country. (3) Zakir Hussain (from13th May 1967 to 3rd May 1969) – Zakir Hussain, the 3rd President of Republic of India expired while in term and was unable to complete five years of his tenure as President. He was born in Hyderabad in 1897 on 8th February. He was the first Muslim President to be elected as President and was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1963. (4) Varahagiri Venkata Giri (from 24th August 1969 to 24th August 1974) – V.V. Giri was the first person to serve as acting President and President of Republic of India. After Zakir Hussain’s untimely demise V.V. Giri was the acting President of India from May 1969 to July 1969. He was an exceptional orator and a writer. ‘Labour Problems in Indian History’ and ‘Industrial Relations’ are two of his popular books. He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1975. (5) Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (from 24th August 1974 to 11th February 1977) – Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed is the second Indian President after Zakir Hussain to have expired before the end of term in office. Born on 13th May, 1905 in Delhi F.A. Ahmed grew up to be a lawyer and then a notable politician. After independence F.A.Ahmed had become Advocate General of Assam. As President of India he declared ‘emergency’ in 1975 after meeting with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. As President of India his visit to Sudan in 1975 was noteworthy with the entire populace of the city welcoming him. (6) Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (from 25th July 1977 to 25th July 1982) – N.S. Reddy was the youngest President to be elected for India. Born on 13th May, 1913, his entry into politics happened in 1931 when he joined the Indian Independence Movement. He was Andhra Pradesh’s first Chief Minister and also the only parliamentary member from the Janata Party to be elected from his state. (7) Giani Zail Singh (from 25th July 1982 to 25th July 1987) – Giani Zail Singh, the seventh President of India, was born on 5th May, 1916 in Sandhwan in Faridkot. From 1947 to 1971 Zail Singh was engaged in state politics of Punjab. During his term as President, Operation Blue Star was undertaken to flush out terrorists from Amritsar Golden Temple complex. (8) Ramaswamy Venkatraman (from 25th July 1987 to 25th July 1992) – Ramaswamy Venkatraman was born in Rajamadam under Madras Residency on 4th December, 1910. After doing his post graduate in Economics and qualifying in law he began his career as a lawyer. Before becoming the eighth Indian President, Venkatraman served as a Finance Minister, Minister of Defence, and Home Minister. He also served as the Vice President of India from 1982 to 1987. (9) Shankar Dayal Sharma (from 25th July 1992 to 25th July 1997) – S.D. Sharma was born on 19th August, 1918 in Bhopal. After completing his formal studies, S.D. Sharma completed Doctorate in Law from Fitzwilliam College. Before becoming President of India he was Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Governor of Punjab, Administrator of Chandigarh, and governor of Maharashtra. He also served as Vice President from 1987 to 1982. As President of India, S.D. Sharma followed Parliamentary norms strictly and also broke down an unruly Rajya Sabha. (10) K. R. Narayanan (from 25th July 1997 to 25th July 2002) – Born on 27th October, 1920 in Perumthanam in Travancore, K.R. Narayanan grew up to be an accomplished academician and respected diplomat. He was a post graduate in English from University in Kerala and later became a journalist in pre-independent India. During his tenure as President, India celebrated 50 years or Golden Jubilee of independence. (11) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (from 25th July 2002 to 25th July 2007) - A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born in Rameswaram on 15th October, 1931. He grew up to be an outstanding scientist and academician. After completing his studies from Madras Institute of Technology in aerospace engineering A.P.J. Abdul Kalam joined DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). For his contribution in developing the ballistic missile and his research in rocket technology, he is fondly referred to as the ‘missile man of India’. (12) Pratibha Patil (from 25th July 2007 till date) – Born in Jalgaon in Bombay Presidency, on 19th December, 1934 Pratibha Patil studied Masters in Political Science and Economics from Jalgaon Moolji Jaitha College. She also graduated in Law from Bombay Government Law College. Pratibha Patil is the first lady President of Republic of India. Who’s Pitted Against Whom For the 13th Indian President Candidature? The election for the 13th President of Republic of India is scheduled on 22nd July, 2012. Though a number of names were floating around, the final showdown is going to be between Pranab Mukherjee and P.A. Sangma. Pranab Mukherjee – Pranab Mukherjee, the current Finance Minister in Dr. Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, is considered to be the top candidate for this year’s Presidential election. Known for his encyclopaedic mind, he is touted to have an edge over his contender owing to his immense support and fan following both within and outside his party. P.A. Sangma – P.A. Sangma, the former Speaker of Lok Sabha and a current member of Meghalaya Assembly, is the other candidate to contest for the 2012 Presidential post. He is being backed by NDA and it is assumed that his ‘tribal card’ might work wonders for him. North East India Have A Lot to Look Forward to From This Year’s To-Be-President - By and large North East India is among the most neglected regions of India. Despite being producers and suppliers of petroleum, natural gas, tea, coal, bamboo, and fruits, there is enough scope of improvement for this part of India. As both Pranab Mukherjee and P.A. Sangma are from East India, there is optimism among people in this region that either’s election could bring about significant economic development. (feedback:email@example.com - www.conantinstitute.org.in)
Cleaner Guwahati with a more efficient Waste Management Program 1. Guwahti and efficient Waste Management Athiqul H Laskar Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, is the gateway to North East India. Situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra and surrounded by hills, this city is a fantastic combination of nature, religion, culture and history. Inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people this city is buoyant with activity from early morning till late in the evening. Be it a political turmoil, a commercial negotiation, or a cultural extravaganza, Guwahati is always in the news. With so much activity throughout the year, the pressure is bound to tell on the environment of this city and its cleanliness. On a more pragmatic level this pressure of population on this city has become an area of concern not only for local civic authorities and state government, but for Central Government as well. Accumulation of waste and its disposal is a major worry for authorities in Guwahati. The only way to tackle this situation is through a concerted and dedicated effort involving government departments, environment protection bodies, NGOs, and local residents. The Facts: City of Guwahati with more than 820,000 inhabitants generates more than 300 metric tonnes of MSW (municipal solid waste) collected over a road stretch of nearly 640 kilometres. GMC (Guwahati Municipal Corporation) in an effort to collect, transport, and dispose this MSW from Guwahati city and its periphery is in the process of appointing a suitable developer or operator for establishing an environmentally sustainable and viable waste management system. With a view to improve solid waste management, GMC has got an approval for a grant amount of approximately Rs.3517 lakhs under JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) scheme. This is a national scheme promoted by Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. For effectuating this project IDCAL (Infrastructure Development Corporation of Assam Limited) has been appointed project management consultant by GMC. IDCAL incidentally is a joint venture between GMDA (Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority) and IL&FS, a leading company engaged in infrastructure development in India. Municipal Solid Waste Management as Existing: Existing solid waste management in Guwahati is by and large unorganized. Indiscriminate dumping of wastes, clogging of sewerages, and silting of Bharalu River are major worries of GMC. Bharalu operates as the biggest sewerage canal of this city and carries waste to River Brahmaputra. Silting of this river leads to major drainage problem for the entire city particularly during the rainy season. Low lying areas near Bhangagarh and Rajgarh get flooded after heavy showers. Haphazard dumping of solid waste is a major reason for clogging of drains in this city. Though efforts are on to motivate residents to adopt healthier dumping habits, there has not been much success. Through awareness messages in public media and press, Guwahati Municipality is making every effort to improve waste management system of this city. Appointment of IDCAL by GMC is a positive step towards more efficient MSW management for the city of Guwahati. The Process Involved in Municipal Solid Waste Management: MSW management involves collection, transportation, storage, processing and disposal of solid wastes for Guwahati city. An estimated 350 tonnes of solid waste would be processed per day as per this project. Waste processing, an integral part of this scheme involves compost formation and RDF (refuse derived oil) from solid waste. The RDF thus produced would be used for power generation at Boragaon on PPP (public private partnership) basis. Waste collection includes street sweeping, cleaning of sewerages, and door-to-door collection of solid wastes. This waste is accumulated in secondary collection units and subsequently transported to project sites. Solid Waste Management in United States: Solid waste management techniques in United States are among the best globally. In the US civic bodies work in methodical manners to keep their environment clean and protected. A tidy and pollution free environment is the basic step to good health of citizens. Reduction and elimination of waste, cleaning up of surroundings, protection from hazardous waste, and conservation of energy and nature through recycling processes are the main concerns of waste management in US. MSW management is a process where civic bodies, environment protection groups, industries, and even general citizens work hand and hand for establishing an atmosphere of cleanliness and safety. Management of waste is not limited to any particular group but is a concerted effort that involves schools, offices, institutes and even homes. Your home is the nearest place from where solid waste management could be initiated. Compost could be made in home from your solid non hazardous wastes and used as plant feeds. Your garden is the perfect place for waste management. Using of compost, choosing the correct mower for your lawn are positive steps towards better management of household wasters. Hazardous waste, however, is to be treated with caution. They should be disposed in specially marked containers and kept aside away from the reach of kids and pets. They should only be disposed by hazardous material removal agencies. Your office is another place where you could employ waste management techniques. Recycling of office paper, beverage containers, and newspapers are such processes. For conservation of resources it is always advisable to use two sided printed materials, recycled printer cartridges, and recycled products. While buying electronic items it is desirable to enter into a leasing plan where terms of recycling and reuse are mentioned categorically. Unused food items and leftovers are ideally donated to food banks or the homeless. Setting up a community program is an encouraging step towards creating a more concerned and knowledgeable neighbourhood. Such action groups are actually very helpful is making a community aware of the benefits of proper MSW management techniques. Working up plans and implementing them is a positive way in creating an environment friendly community. If required, instructions are to be enforced to maintain a clean and healthy surrounding. Of all these waste management techniques, if only a small part could be implemented in Guwahati, the entire city would become a much better place to stay. Probable Solutions that Might make Guwahati a much better city to live: The greatest advantage of Guwahati is its marvellous landscape consisting of River Brahmaputra and several hills. A focussed effort towards solid waste management and protection of environment from all sections of the local populace could make Guwahati a greener and fresher city. Keeping roads garbage free is a positive step towards making this city tidier and healthier. Householders should refrain from throwing garbage as per their convenience. There should be a specific time for throwing garbage out. If possible, local civic authorities should ensure collection of garbage from every house at this specified time. There are many cities in India where this method of garbage collection is followed with success. Penalties might also be imposed on violation of such regulations. Rampant throwing or dumping of wastes would also prevent clogging of sewerages and drains. Regulated collection of garbage on all days would also put less pressure on River Bharalu and hence make it more efficient in keeping Guwahati well-drained. Increased awareness, care for your city and a concern for your neighbours are three basic pre-requisites of making Guwahati a more enjoyable city to reside. (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in).
Behavioral Changes of Students in higher educational institutions: Issues and Trends Given the fact that the system of imparting knowledge as well as the operational norms in higher educational institutes have gone through tremendous change over the past few decades, it is only natural that the students will respond to this by showing changes in their behavior and attitude towards the entire system. The term “massification” of education has become synonymous with the modern educational scenario, what with all the emphasis on production of knowledge rather than on the creation of knowledge, and the shortage of adequately qualified teaching staff. As the students leave the protected cocoon of their schools and step into the complex world of ultra-modernized colleges and/or universities, they come face to face with a great many technological, circumstantial, situational and environmental realities. The biggest threat at this point is perhaps the one that lurks in the vicinity but does not present itself clearly enough – an internal struggle with the value systems and ideologies, which they have absorbed during their basic stages of formal education and training in school. They become aware of the requirement to unlearn the characteristics of the behavior that they had picked up earlier, in order to, as they say, ‘go with the flow’. At this stage the students stand vulnerable to negative behavioral patterns as they may fail to differentiate or draw the line at the right place or time. Moreover, the demands of the contemporary campus life may also drain them out, physically as well as emotionally. Participating in extracurricular activities is no longer a matter of choice and relaxation for the adolescent students. It has rather become an accomplice to the entire system that urges the students to keep competing in order to get recognized by the authorities. At this point, counseling by the parents and teachers play a significant role in guiding them through. In this light, a few important issues and trends related to the behavioral changes of students in the higher educational institutes have been discussed in the following sections. CONTEMPORARY SCENARIO IN HIGHER EDUCATION As against the age old value systems followed by the universities since they came into existence, today is more about private good than public good – as a direct result of massification of education. While a handpicked few higher education institutes strive to remain the “conscience of the society”, most, or rather the maximum has kneeled to the demand of time and given way to a less than prepared and an inadequate teaching system. According to recent studies, the average qualification of the professors has gone down from what it was a few decades back. Privatization of the academics has become a common phenomenon as the states declare themselves incapable of meeting the demands for higher educational courses or professional courses. As a result students no longer look up to the teachers as their authority. For them the managers and bureaucrats are better positioned to look into their matters. All these factors contribute to what a recently published report on the higher education trends points out – the “academic revolution”. Though these aspects have been explored before but in light of the topic at hand, which is the affect of the trends on the behavioral changes of the students, they gain a greater importance. Another significant development in the higher educational institutes is the increased access to information and communication services. While the argument continues on the limits to the access of such devices, the influence seems to engrave itself deeper by broadening their horizons and at the same time, exposing them to the dangers of isolated existence, thereby giving rise to multiple physiological issues. IMPACT OF GLOBALIZATION OF BEHAVIORAL CHANGES OF STUDENTS The biggest impact of globalization on the students is perhaps, the requirements and at times, demands, of studying in a culturally diverse campus environment. While they have been brought up with certain social values and cultural norms aligning to a particular social strata or cast, their higher educational pursuits bring them to an entirely new world. They suddenly face issues such as religious and cultural tolerance and try to learn the ways to adopt an open mind in order to take in all that is happening new around them. What this means is that the adolescent students can no longer relate to the known behavioral patterns and they consequently enter the troubled waters territory. At this point they need to get trained on various aspects of living and studying in culturally diverse environments. Another face of globalization is the increase in mobility of international students, which, according to recent studies, is reflective of a ‘South-North Phenomenon’. There is a need for international standards and a common procedure to compare, which is in its nascent stage of development. Then there is the issue of the comparability of the international qualifications, which is not yet fully resolved. These grey areas continue to exist and result in becoming detrimental to the confidence level of the international students who are unsure of the value of their degrees. CLASS MANAGEMENT IN THE CHANGED CONTEXT OF ROLE OF TEACHERS If there ever was a time when the teachers need to don on the role of a true friend, philosopher and guide, then it is now. Though the changes have been gradual in their stages of development the situation remains new for the students, as every year a different batch of students take admission to these higher educational institutes after clearing their school level examinations. So, the role of the teachers has gained immense importance, as the torch bearers of a new age educational system with the responsibility of managing the classroom in innovative and participative ways so as to encourage positive behavioral characteristics. Teachers are now less of an instructor and more of a guide. ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY AND LIBRARY SERVICE IN SHAPING THE BEHAVIORAL CHANGES OF STUDENTS IN THE HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS The issue of access to information and communication services and the limitations that needs to be imposed on the same, has been a matter of debate over the years, with no tangible results seen yet. The pattern of behavior demonstrated by the students while searching for information has undergone massive change from the time modern technological search tools have been made accessible to these students. They have become aware of the possibilities that are open in front of them in terms of searching for a wide range of information and also the scope that they have to check the reliability of the information. Recent studies have also hinted at the aspect of the increased information literacy and this is a direct result of the liberty that the students have to use technologically aided communication devices such as internet capable phones, which have a number of advantageous features capable of being used for a number of purposes. The information seeking behavior of the students, their research patterns and their usage of information can also be studied by from their utilization of the library and research facilities offered in the higher educational institutes. In such cases, it has been observed that the students with their first language as English are better equipped to use the library services than the others. ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS THE BEHAVIORAL CHANGES OF STUDENTS The administration has an important role to play in instigating as well as warding off the negative behavior patterns of the students who enroll for courses in higher educational institutes. While in some cases it has been seen that the students often show some disruptive behaviors that can only be dealt with the help of professional guidance, in others instances of provocative remarks, stiffening rules and regulations and absence of proper counseling channels have also led to development of unwanted behavior patterns. However, the silver lining on the cloud is the role of teachers. The line demarcating the teacher from the student is no longer as thick as it used to be earlier. They are both the educators and counselors, with an open minded attitude that strives for tolerance towards change – change in the levels of understanding, change in the behaviors and reactions of the students and change in the socio-cultural contexts. A proper analysis of the behavioral change along with the possible resolutions to neutralize the negative behavioral changes has proven to be immensely relevant in cementing the desired behavior. PARENTS AND THE BEHAVIORAL CHANGES OF STUDENTS It is a well known and accepted fact that if the bonding between the students and their families or parents is on the correct lines then it becomes easier to bring about positive behavioral changes in the adolescent students. In the presence of appropriate communication and open minded interaction between the both the parties the chances of encouraging the students to get rid of their negative behavioral patterns are higher than what could have been otherwise. CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT - EMPHASIS ON EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES A healthy campus environment paves a path for an emotionally strong and capable adolescent who can be a leader of the future. It has been observed that students who regularly take part in extracurricular activities also show better overall development in terms of academic results, health and mental stamina to deal with tougher situations. NEED FOR COUNSELING In conclusion, it must be pointed out that counseling plays an important role in encouraging and cementing positive behavior patterns in the students belonging to higher educational institutes. Teachers have an extremely pertinent role to play in the entire scenario as they are in the situation to offer first hand counseling and advice to the students who need it. Considering the fact that the students spend most of their time in the educational institutes, parents have a lesser role to play, though not less important. In case of residential international students this is even more applicable. (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in.). Reference Resources: 1. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20090705083940943 2. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001831/183168e.pdf 3. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1099079877269/547664-109907995 4. 6815/Higher_ed_relevance_in_21st_century_En98.pdf 5. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1326011&http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t& 6. rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CHQQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpapers.ssrn.com%2Fsol3%2FDe 7. very.cfm%2FSSRN_ID1326011_code1109552.pdf%3Fabstractid%3D1326011%26mirid%3D1&ei=Gu_OT5arD4PI 8. rQeEpemADA&usg=AFQjCNHL0xikpYiPtWM4miwvga6hFwmWig 9. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-924/basic.htm 10. http://education.byu.edu/news/2010/04/12/change-student-behavior-by-changing-teacher-behavior/ 11. http://www.facultyfocus.com/topic/articles/trends-in-higher-education/ 12. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/6-top-tech-trends-on-the-horizon-for-education/29581? 13. sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en 14. http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/StudentInformation 15. Literacyinth/225860 16. http://184.108.40.206/~scienceed/p493/evalbehr.html 17. http://aplus.arizona.edu/faqs.html 18. http://www.impacteen.org/generalarea_PDFs/parent_powell042303.pdf 19. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=407334 20. http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume44/HigherEducationandthe 21. AcademicL/174200 22. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/december00/hughes/12hughes.html 23. http://crl.acrl.org/content/58/4/348.full.pdf 24. http://informationr.net/ir/11-4/paper272.html 25. http://www.naspa.org/membership/mem/pubs/ebooks/HealthyCampus.pdf 26. http://www.academicjournals.org/err/PDF/Pdf2006/Sep/Chepchieng%20et%20al.pdf 27. http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2009/2009wilsonn.pdf 28. http://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/2710/etd-tamu-2004B-SPSY-lewis.pdf 29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556986/ 30. http://www.cavalierdaily.com/2011/03/31/student-need-for-counseling-rises/ 31. http://www.behavioradvisor.com/CCBDMission.html
Water hurdles for Guwahati’s urban conglomerate Dr.Athiqul H Laskar Guwahati may be the gateway to the North-East of India and could have been slated as one of the fastest growing cities in India, but the fact that the biggest city of Assam is facing serious water and drainage problems just cannot be ruled out. Researchers and urban planners have cited the improper drainage system of the city as the main cause for the widespread water logging problems, regular occurrence of flash floods and inadequate drinking water facilities for the residents in the city. Although state and central government projects are being implemented one after the other in the city, they do not seem to be springing up instant results and thus the fate of the people in different parts of the city still hangs in perpetual balance. Flash floods and lake encroachment: Guwahati is an urban area that is supplemented by three natural drainage systems and yet the condition of the underground drainage system in the city continues in the very same pathetic state. Baralu River, Mora River and Bahini River are three rivers that are well connected to the feeder drains of the city. But with each passing day, the natural banks and slopes are being encroached upon and thus offering little or no navigation space for the proper outlet of the drainage flowing from the city. There are many construction projects like building of bridges being carried out without the proper approval of competent authorities. Due to these man-made projects, the course of the river has been altered to a certain extent. As far as the underground water is concerned, in the monsoon season, the water from the flash floods flow into the Sola Beel, regarded as a prime wetland situated within the city perimeters. But trouble started brewing when the people residing on the banks of the lake were issued valid documents. Soon encroachment started and there was more and more filling of the lake body as the importance of Sola Beel as an important storm water reservoir was soon forgotten. Today, even in the occurrence of a small downpour, the large land areas get inundated very fast, thus leading to continued urban area degradation. Inadequate drinking water facilities: Guwahati has always been a city, from time immemorial, stuck with topological constraints and giant loopholes in the urban town planning structure. There are still many areas in the city that have not been reached by the piped water supplied by the corporation. Those depending on alternative sources of water such as bore wells and ring wells have also been affected adversely due to the depletion of the level of ground water. In the dry summer months such as April and May, the issue of inadequate drinking water gets even more heightened. The setback to the people of Guwahati is worse when compared to bigger cities like Mumbai which shared similar drinking water problems. But in Mumbai, there were rapid developments and the installation of pipes of diameter 12 feet cleared problems to a great extent. But no such steps are being taken in Guwahati where tube wells are forced to be dug deeper than 50 feet to get a glimpse of the ground water. While metropolitan cities like Delhi and Kolkata have the system of man-holes in the middle of the road, such a system has not been envisaged in the town planning charts of Guwahati. The predicament grows even deeper when there are infectious and viral diseases being reported to be spreading from one household to the other through these water mediums. Considerable light also needs to be shed on the plight of the city in the times of natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. While other cities have adequate disaster management facilities and contingency teams, such high-tech services continue to elude the North Eastern city. These issues continue to rock the boat and there is an urgent need for the implementation of potential packages with sustainable solutions. Air pollution, mosquito breeding and rain water harvesting: In the monsoon months, breeding of mosquito in water resources is a general sight that people of Guwahati have learned to adjust with. The accumulation of garbage by the city dwellers and the improper disposal of domestic waste by the Municipal authorities have been cited as strong causes for the widespread mosquito breeding lairs in several parts of the city. This further leads to the spread of infectious diseases like Malaria and Jaundice. While developed countries like USA have learned to use mosquito repellents and public mosquito air sprays, such systems have not been brought into effect in Guwahati. The increasing number of vehicles on roads has contributed to the air pollution factor in the city as well leading to respiratory ailments among city dwellers. As for rain harvesting methods in Guwahati, there are plans to allocate funds to develop projects that could pave the way for the efficient storage and utilization of rain water that could solve the drinking water problems of the city. In conclusion, it is important for the government authorities in Guwahati to take note of the fact that disturbing and causing harm to nature is not going to open up new avenues for man to start developmental projects. Right from the division of the state of Assam into smaller states like Meghalaya, there was no responsibility on the part of the government to show sincerity in keeping a planned record of the changes that are to be carried out. Today, the people as well as the authorities are forced to endure the repercussions such as the impact of deforestation, soil erosion and widespread grazing of animals on wide grasslands. With more and more trees being uprooted with each passing day, the soil seems to be losing control and thus eroding away, proving to be detrimental to the inner layers of the ground. Therefore, one does not need to be surprised if there are regular recurrences of large scale earthquakes especially in a city like Guwahati that falls under the seismic zones and regions that are prone to the occurrence of natural disturbances. Former President and Visionary Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam recently remarked that River Brahmaputra should be a part of the National Water Grid and stores immense potential for the people of Guwahati. He added that the river needs to be turned into a vibrant waterway. It is highly pertinent to take stock of these wise words as they contain the seeds for an ambitious and aspiring project, which if turned into reality could solve all the major water issues that Guwahati has faced for the last 3-4 decades. States like Gujarat have been able to swim the tide of water related problems and provide excellent resources for Ahmedabad even in spite of the city being far away from the main river. With the help of a proper plan and network, they were able to solve the drinking issues of Ahmadabad’s city dwellers. The same project could be replicated in Guwahati and will certainly spring up new wonders on its way. With the arrival of the monsoon season in the offing, there are indeed fresh troubles brewing for the city people when it comes to flash floods and water logging. Authorities need to take quick and fast decisions on pending developmental projects or otherwise that day is not far when all these efforts would prove to be futile for the people of Guwahati. (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in.).
Can Obama Do It Again In 2012 Election Dr.Athiqul H. Laskar It is pretty obvious that Barrack Obama is slated to win in 2012 simply, because of Paul, Gingrich, Santorum, Perry and Romney. These candidates are no match for Obama and each one of them has some issue or the other that would surely not escape the attention of or impress the intelligent American public. Everyone’s hoping for GOP’s sake that this is not the final list of candidates and that someone would emerge ultimately as the dark horse and give Obama a run for his money. The public is not too happy with the rash comments made by Ron Paul on a FOX News debate a year before whereby, he announced that cocaine, marijuana, heroine, gay marriages and prostitution should be given legal status and recognition. The public however, is still having reservations on these issues so his straight forward comment has not gone down too well with the public. The common man in America would wish for discrimination against the Muslims and he does not support or even approve of homosexual marriages. Gingrich was favored over Herman Cain as Herman had some infidelity issues. Funnily enough, it makes us wonder why Gingrich got GOP support, when he is the man known for multiple infidelities in his past. He has a colorful past and has been married thrice till date. His first wife was his high school teacher. Post his first marriage, he was having an affair with his future second wife for quite sometime. He even seemed to have recklessly commented that his first wife was not young enough or for that matter, pretty enough to be a President’s wife and that she also, had cancer. Post his second marriage he went on to have an affair with a woman twenty three years younger to him. While investigating the perjury case against the then President, Bill Clinton, Gingrich himself was involved in extra-marital affair. He then got into wedlock with his much younger partner. You can definitely rest assured that the sensitive and intelligent American public cannot put their trust in a man, who is not faithful to the one, closest to his soul. Though Rick Santorum seemed to be the ideal candidate who had the potential to upset Obama, his problematic name did it. He was the man with the correct credentials; a 53 year old lawyer had been in high posts within the US Senate and the House of Representatives. In the year 2003 he had supported a bill that advocated that sodomy should be made illegal. He is accused of comparing homosexuality to adultery, bigamy and incest. A gay activist was infuriated over this and he went on to redefine the meaning of Santorum in his website. You could Google it and you would find the meaning, as the first and third result. Nobody would like to have a President with such a name. Again Mit Romney is a bad choice as he is a Mormon. The American public would be discouraged from voting for Mormons, who are said to believe, that Satan and Jesus are brothers and also, that women are supposed to be perpetually pregnant and that, any man can become God as God is actually, an exalted man. Americans are Jesus loving Christians obviously they would stay away from Romney, on religious grounds. None of these candidates are so-called bad politicians or bad Americans, but definitely they are not good enough to stand in opposition to Barrack Obama, who has a great personality, a clean character, a good marriage and a strong base of support. Though Barrack Obama has not really delivered as per expectations during his first term and some of his election promises still remain unfulfilled, he may not also win with the same margin, but no other chosen Republican candidate can hope to achieve the winning majority. Everyone is wondering if Barrack Obama will get another term as President. During his last term as the President Americans have witnessed rise in unemployment, faltering economy, ever rising gas prices and colossal accruing government debt. The American public in general is not too pleased with his performance, but he enjoys the support of the liberal media and he has the Wall Street campaign contributions in his bag. Though Obama enjoys the confidence of those in seats of power, some believe that the state is degenerating under his leadership. He is accused of taking half-hearted steps during the financial crisis and absolutely no concrete efforts were made to trace the perpetrators or sources of the fraud. Quantitative easing, bailouts were used to create a make believe world that would assure the common American that the recovery process was on. In reality however, destruction of the housing market, dollar, jobs and the economy in general continued. Terrorist threats are perpetuated due to irrational torture, indefinite detentions, body scanners, protest crackdowns and oppression and tyranny in this land known to uphold liberty and freedom. Barrack Obama had made several promises and interestingly, PolitiFact, a website that won the Pulitzer Prize, is said to have kept a record of each one of those commitments and their progress during the first year of the President in office. This website carried out a detailed research and found out, while going through speeches, debate transcripts and campaign documents, that Obama had made 500 promises. Further research revealed that he had fulfilled 91 promises, 31 promises were compromised on, 87 of them were stalled and 14 were broken. Rest of the promises were placed ‘in the works’’. On joining office Obama fulfilled his first promise and signed an executive order preventing lobbyists from participating in the administration of the government. Even political appointees were required to wait for a couple of years after quitting the administration before they could lobby. Obama also laid down rules whereby lobbyists were not allowed to serve on official commissions and boards. Obama summoned congressional leaders belonging to both the parties regularly for sessions and fruitful discussions and interactions on issues of foreign policy Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iraq and Sudan. Obama withdrew several special-interest tax loopholes and ambiguities in the existing oil and gas industry. He thus fulfilled promises that he had made at the time when these companies were acquiring massive profits from rising fuel prices. Obama also made an announcement in February that all combat forces would be withdrawn from Iraq within August 2010 and the rest of the troops still remaining, by the end of the year 2011. Obama’s much-publicized promise to “end the custom of writing legislation always behind closed doors” was badly challenged during his first year. He could not introduce any changes in the existing congressional rules. Though some committees held official meetings in public, major issues like the budget, Recovery Act, and even health-care reform were dealt with in private among top Democratic leaders and often in the absence of Republicans. Obama could not keep his promise of providing $1,000 worth emergency energy rebate. He could not take active steps to get labor more organized as per his promise. From India’s point of view though Obama has supported India’s aspirations of acquiring permanent membership in the UN Security Council, Obama’s declaration that there would be a drastic reduction in outsourcing may adversely affect the interest of Indian IT students. This would definitely imply a dip in employment opportunities in US or for that matter online job for Indians. So let’s keep our fingers crossed. (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in.). Who’s Next in US – Obama or..? Dr Athiqul H. Laskar It is pretty obvious that Barrack Obama is slated to win in 2012 simply because of Paul, Gingrich, Santorum, Perry and Romney. These candidates are no match for Obama and each one of them has some issue or the other that would surely not escape the attention of or impress the intelligent American public. Everyone is hoping for GOP’s sake that this is not the final list of candidates and that someone would emerge ultimately as the dark horse and give Obama a run for his money. The public is not too happy with the rash comments made by Ron Paul on a FOX News debate a year before, whereby he announced that cocaine, marijuana, heroine, gay marriages and prostitution should be given legal status and recognition. The public, however, is still having reservations on these issues — so his straight forward comment has not gone down too well with the public. The common man in America would wish for discrimination against Muslims and he does not support or even approve of homosexual marriages. Gingrich was favoured over Herman Cain as Herman had some infidelity issues. Funnily enough, it makes us wonder why Gingrich got GOP support, when he is the man known for multiple infidelities in his past. He has a colourful past and has been married thrice till date. His first wife was his high school teacher. Post his first marriage, he was having an affair with his future second wife for quite some time. He even seemed to have recklessly commented that his first wife was not young enough or, for that matter, pretty enough to be a President’s wife and that she also had cancer. Post his second marriage, he went on to have an affair with a woman 23 years younger to him. While investigating the perjury case against the then President, Bill Clinton, Gingrich himself was involved in extra-marital affair. He then got into wedlock with his much younger partner. You can definitely rest assured that the sensitive and intelligent American public cannot put their trust in a man who is not faithful to the one closest to his soul. Though Rick Santorum seemed to be the ideal candidate who had the potential to upset Obama, his problematic name did it. He was the man with the correct credentials; a 53-year-old lawyer had been in high posts within the US Senate and the House of Representatives. In the year 2003 he had supported a bill that advocated that sodomy should be made illegal. He is accused of comparing homosexuality to adultery, bigamy and incest. A gay activist was infuriated over this and he went on to redefine the meaning of Santorum on his website. You could Google it and you would find the meaning, as the first and third result. Nobody would like to have a President with such a name. Again Mit Romney is a bad choice as he is a Mormon. The American public would be discouraged from voting for Mormons, who are said to believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers and also that women are supposed to be perpetually pregnant and that any man can become God as God is actually an exalted man. Americans are Jesus-loving Christians; obviously they would stay away from Romney on religious grounds. None of these candidates are so-called bad politicians or bad Americans, but definitely they are not good enough to stand in opposition to Barack Obama, who has a great personality, a clean character, a good marriage and a strong base of support. Though Barack Obama has not really delivered as per expectations during his first term and some of his election promises still remain unfulfilled, he may not also win with the same margin, but no other chosen Republican candidate can hope to achieve the winning majority. Everyone is wondering if Barack Obama will get another term as President. During his last term as the President, Americans have witnessed rise in unemployment, faltering economy, ever-rising gas prices and colossal accruing government debt. The American public in general is not too pleased with his performance, but he enjoys the support of the liberal media and he has the Wall Street campaign contributions in his bag. Though Obama enjoys the confidence of those in seats of power, some believe that the state is degenerating under his leadership. He is accused of taking half-hearted steps during the financial crisis, and absolutely no concrete efforts were made to trace the perpetrators or sources of the fraud. Quantitative easing and bailouts were used to create a make-believe world that would assure the common American that the recovery process was on. In reality, however, destruction of the housing market, dollar, jobs and the economy in general continued. Terrorist threats are perpetuated due to irrational torture, indefinite detentions, body scanners, protest crackdowns and oppression and tyranny in this land known to uphold liberty and freedom. Barack Obama had made several promises and interestingly, PolitiFact, a website that won the Pulitzer Prize, is said to have kept a record of each one of those commitments and their progress during the first year of the President in office. This website carried out a detailed research and found out, while going through speeches, debate transcripts and campaign documents, that Obama had made 500 promises. Further research revealed that he had fulfilled 91 promises, 31 promises were compromised on, 87 of them were stalled and 14 were broken. Rest of the promises were placed ‘in the works’’. On joining office Obama fulfilled his first promise and signed an executive order preventing lobbyists from participating in the administration of the government. Even political appointees were required to wait for a couple of years after quitting the administration before they could lobby. Obama also laid down rules whereby lobbyists were not allowed to serve on official commissions and boards. Obama summoned congressional leaders belonging to both the parties regularly for sessions and fruitful discussions and interactions on issues of foreign policy, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iraq and Sudan. Obama withdrew several special-interest tax loopholes and ambiguities in the existing oil and gas industry. He thus fulfilled promises that he had made at the time when these companies were acquiring massive profits from rising fuel prices. Obama also made an announcement in February that all combat forces would be withdrawn from Iraq within August 2010 and the rest of the troops, still remaining, by the end of the year 2011. Obama’s much-publicized promise to “end the custom of writing legislation always behind closed doors” was badly challenged during his first year. He could not introduce any changes in the existing congressional rules. Though some committees held official meetings in public, major issues like the budget, Recovery Act, and even health-care reform were dealt with in private among top Democratic leaders and often in the absence of Republicans. Obama could not keep his promise of providing $1,000 worth emergency energy rebate. He could not take active steps to get labour more organized as per his promise. From India’s point of view, though Obama has supported India’s aspirations of acquiring permanent membership in the UN Security Council, his declaration that there would be a drastic reduction in outsourcing may adversely affect the interest of Indian IT students. This would definitely imply a dip in employment opportunities in the US or, for that matter, online jobs for Indians. So let us keep our fingers crossed. (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in.).
Dr.Athiqul H.Laskar Earthquakes have been a frequent phenomenon in the Northeast, in the past. The Northeastern states are not only known for their enthralling scenic beauty or a typical close proximity between them, but also, for their susceptibility to high intensity earthquakes. This region has been subjected to 18 major earthquakes (M>7) in the past hundred years or so. One notable earthquake that brought about widespread damage and destruction hit Shillong in 1897. It had a magnitude of 8.7. There were 1542 casualties. All concrete constructions were totally shattered. Several vents and fissures developed and there were some secondary after-effects including rotation of pillars, sinking of houses, rising of river height and crushing of soils. Mandalgiri, Chidrang and Samin faults plus the Bordwar fracture are the ground ruptures that resulted because of this earthquake. Another major earthquake of the region was the Cachar Earthquake that occurred on 10th January in the year 1869. Several concrete structures and buildings located at Imphal, Nowgang and Silchar were completely destroyed and there were four casualties in Imphal. Fissures developed in surma, Barak and Manipur Valleys. It had a magnitude of 7.8 and focus was 50km deep. A devastating earthquake to rock the Northeast region was the Dhubri Earthquake that occurred in 1930 with a magnitude of 7.1. It brought about widespread devastation across western Assam, northern Bengal and northern Bangladesh. Most of the buildings developed cracks and some of them collapsed partially. Many injuries were reported. The Assam Earthquake that occurred in the year 1950 brought about widespread destruction in the entire region of Upper Assam and Mishmi Hills and Abor Hills of Arunachal Pradesh. It had a focal depth of 29 km. 1520 people were reported to be dead and almost half the wildlife was killed. Several buildings, roads, bridges and railway tracks were damaged. Ground cracks and fissures developed and there were flash floods and landslides. The Cachar Earthquake that was recorded in1984 had a magnitude of 5.8 and a focal depth of 33 km. There were about 20 casualties. Buildings, bridges and roads were damaged. Cracks and fissures appeared. Earthquakes are caused by the movements that occur along the faults, resulting from tectonic and geological processes. The high intensity of seismic activity in the Northeast region of India is owing to the collision of tectonic plates along Eurasian plate and Indian plate in the north and movements in the tectonic plates along Indo-Myanmar range in the east. The Northeastern region has been divided into five distinct seismic-tectonic zones. This division depends on distribution of epicenters, geotectonic features and fault plane solutions. The identified earthquake-prone zones in the North-East lie in the Eastern Himalayas, the subduction zone in the Indo-Myanmar region, the Syntaxis zone in the Himalayan and Burmese arcs, Fold belt of Bengal, Mizoram and Tripura as well as plate boundary zone of the Assam Valley and Shillong Plateau zone. The seismicity in the Eastern Himalayas is because of the tectonic collision between the Eurasian plate and the Indian plate. Seismicity is said to be sparse in this zone and only two earthquakes of reasonable intensity has so far been recorded in this zone. The subduction zone in the Indo-Myanmar region seems elongated and it takes the shape of crescent. This is an active seismic zone and it has witnessed as many as ten earthquakes of major intensity during the last one hundred years. Syntaxis Zone is supposed to be definitely more active than the Himalayan Collision Zone and has experienced the Great Assam Earthquake that took place in the year 1950 (M=8.7) and is believed to be caused by strike slip movement all along Po Chu fault. It is a known fact that seismicity in this zone is basically because of tectonic collision between Eurasian Plate and Indian Plate. There is major seismic activity in the Shillong Plateau and it has experienced the devastating Shillong Earthquake in the year 1897. The Assam Valley however, has witnessed less seismic activity in the past, but the well known Assam Gap (the area that lies in between the syntaxis and the plateau) may be hit by large earthquakes in future. There is past evidence of low seismic activity in the Bengal basin whereas the Tripura folded belt experiences quite moderate activity. Northeast is vulnerable to seismic activity not only because it is in the earthquake prone belt but also because of other factors. It has undergone remarkable rise in population density and also, there has been an incredible increase in the developmental programs. There has been an overpowering growth of unplanned and thoughtless urban centers during the past two decades. This definitely has intensified the vulnerability to earthquakes. The high vulnerability to earthquakes in the North East necessitates that all new buildings, amenities, assets and public infra-structure developing in this region will definitely have to strictly adhere to the provisions listed by the National Building Code of the year 2005, safety codes and other earthquake-related codes. The officials in charge of examining building plans and those that are authorized to grant building permissions must have a thorough knowledge of the existing codes and standards that need to be strictly followed, while constructing structures in extremely high risk zones. Bank loans for the construction of buildings should be granted only when a compliance certificate is issued by a competent authority. A structural engineer should approve of the design and make sure that all required earthquake-resistant features have been complied with. Quite a few existing buildings may have been built by masons and private builders who could be lacking in necessary technical expertise and skills required to build earthquake-resistant buildings. It is quite natural that inadequate attention was given to the structural safety and security of the buildings to resist the high or extremely high intensity earthquakes. The district administration needs to identify public assets and lifeline infrastructure and assess the structural safety of the structures by hiring well qualified and expert technical personnel. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has suggested the selective retrofitting of some selected district hospitals in the North Eastern states as well as some selected schools from certain chosen districts located in the seismic zones IV and V in the North Eastern states. Predicting earthquakes is not an easy task and involves taking into consideration factors like place, time and magnitudes of the earthquakes that would occur in future. Some of the basic tenets of earthquake prediction are: • Earthquakes of lower intensity are more frequent than major earthquakes. • The areas previously hit by earthquakes are more likely to be affected again. • Earthquakes of high intensity are usually followed by aftershocks and insignificant earthquakes. • The future earthquakes may have same magnitude as that of the previous earthquakes. • Tectonic history, geological data and the incidence of an earthquake are all co-related. Though based on these principles precise prediction of earthquakes is not possible there have been attempts of earthquake prediction in the Northeast. Prominent researchers like Weiss and Khattri are expecting a significant earthquake in the Assam Gap. While Guha and Bhattacharyya believe that the Cachar Earthquake that occurred during the year 1984 marks the beginning of an active period from seismological point of view. Most studies carried out by researchers have suggested that there is a likelihood of a major earthquake in the Northeast in future (Feedback: www.conantinstitute.org.in.).