No one should have problem saying Vande Mataram: Maha minister

first_imgMaharashtra Public Works Minister and BJP leader Chandrakant Patil on Saturday said those who want to live in the country must say Vande Mataram and Bharat Maata Ki Jai.Mr. Patil was speaking to reporters after visiting the famous Saibaba temple here.“Vande Mataram means saluting the soil of this country. I don’t know what problem they have saying Vande Mataram,” he said.“If you want to live in this country, you must say Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” he said.“Everybody living in this country has the right to worship as per his religion. But one must be loyal to the country and its soil too. Vande Mataram doesn’t mean hailing (particular) god. Just as one also reveres one’s parents besides Allah, one can also revere the motherland,” Patil said.Following the Madras High Court ruling making singing of Vande Mataram compulsory in schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu, BJP MLA Raj Purohit demanded its implementation in Maharashtra.Waris Pathan, MLA of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) from Mumbai, and the Samajwadi Party’s Maharashtra unit president and MLA Abu Asim Azmi opposed the demand.last_img read more

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Teer, Meghalaya’s odds-on favourite

first_imgMeghalaya is home to skilled archers, mainly from the Khasi tribe. And they use the bow and arrow in a gambling game called Teer. The game is part of the State’s culture and tradition, and the only wager to get government sanction. The popular pastime takes place not in casinos but on archery grounds.On all days barring Sunday, 50 archers from far-flung areas assemble around a cylindrical target made of bamboo thatch. For three minutes, each of them shoots 30 arrows at the target. The fusillade is thrilling to watch. The arrows that hit the target are counted, and the last two digits of that total are proclaimed as that day’s number. Meghalaya has over 5,000 Teer bookies, excluding those who operate along the Assam border. Shillong alone has 600 betting counters. Online gambling has a small presence. Seeing the potential for revenue, the State government increased the betting tax from 40% to 50% recently.last_img read more

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Sharad Yadav, Anwar’s response sought on plea for scrapping their Rajya Sabha membership

first_imgThe Rajya Sabha secretariat has asked JD(U) rebel MPs Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar to respond within a week to a petition by the Nitish Kumar-led party that they be disqualified from the Upper House for their “anti-party” activities.After Mr Sharad Yadav opposed party president Nitish Kumar’s decision to ally with the BJP and attended an opposition rally in Patna, the JD(U) first removed him as the party leader in the Rajya Sabha. After that, it urged Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to disqualify him and fellow rebel, Mr Ansari.Pointing to a past  precedent, JD(U) general secretary Sanjay Jha cited the example of Jai Narain Prasad Nishad, a BJP MP who had move towards the RJD.“We have given documentary and other evidence of both the leaders’ anti-party activities,”he said, adding, “That they have defied the party leadership and gone to the Election Commission seeking its symbol, is also anti-party activity.”Recently touring Bihar, Mr Sharad Yadav said he is still part of the grand alliance, which includes the RJD and the Congress, and had accused Mr Kumar of going against the party’s resolution by allying with the BJP.Claiming to represent the real JD(U), his faction has  also approached the EC, seeking its symbol.last_img read more

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Three-month jail term for escapee KLF chief

first_imgKhalistani Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, who escaped the Nabha jail in Punjab in 2016, has been awarded three-month imprisonment by a Delhi court for assaulting public servants and attempting to fire at police officers to prevent his rearrest. Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma sent him to jail for three months, a term he has already undergone, after Mintoo pleaded guilty and sought leniency from the court. He has been behind bars since November 2016. The 51-year-old Mintoo had fled the Punjab jail with five other inmates on November 28, 2016 but was nabbed from the Nizamuddin Railway Station here a day later. The prosecution said when Mintoo found himself surrounded by the police, he took out a pistol and tried to fire at them but was apprehended. After completion of investigation, a charge sheet was filed against under Sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Arms Act. Mintoo had moved an application pleading guilty of the offences and sought leniency from the court, contending he remained in custody for the last 15 months and was a heart patient.last_img read more

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Now, a donkey gets the hall ticket for a J&K exam

first_imgTwo years after a cow was issued an admit card to write an examination in Jammu and Kashmir, a hall ticket has been issued to a donkey to sit for a recruitment test for naib tehsildars.A prankster seems to have got an admit card issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board in the name of Kachur Khar (brown donkey) for the test scheduled for Sunday.‘Waste of resources’A photograph of the card, with the animal’s photograph on it, was circulated on Twitter and Facebook.Calls to Board officials were not answered.One Twitter user lamented the waste of resources. “It is ridiculous to get a system-generated card in the name of donkey and then make it a news. It only shows how much extra time we have for wastage. Grow up,” the user wrote.A Facebook user lashed out at the Board. “This application form could have been deleted or cancelled easily by SSB officials from the system because the issue was already highlighted in 2015,” he said.In 2015, the Board of Professional Entrance Examinations issued an admit card to a cow for an examination.last_img read more

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Hardik Patel gets political visitors

first_imgA Trinamool Congress delegation called on Gujarat Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel on Sunday to extend support on the second day of Mr. Patel’s indefinite fast. Former Railway Minister and Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi, representatives of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and leader of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) Jitan Ram Manjhi called on Mr. Patel at his residence near Ahmedabad, the venue of the fast, to extend their support.Over 500 women from across the State called on him to tie rakhis on Sunday, on the occasion of Rakshabandhan. Mr. Patel claimed that the police had prevented hundreds of women coming from Saurashtra and north Gujarat to extend their support to the fight for quota and farmers’ issues from participating.He is holding an indefinite fast to press for the demand of a quota for the Patidar community, and also to seek farm debt waiver in the State. Shiv Sena delegationSources said delegations from the Shiv Sena and other political parties are likely to visit him in the coming days. The Opposition Congress in Gujarat is already supporting Mr. Patel’s demands. RJD leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav and others are also likely to visit.Bharat Bhushan Mandal, an RJD representative, said, “Hardik is emerging as a national leader.”Mr. Patel’s supporters sang bhajans and observed a symbolic fast in his support at the venue. The State government has directed that Mr. Patel should undergo a medical check-up every day while on his fast. Doctors on Sunday advised Mr. Patel to take liquids.The Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader began the fast at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the presence of his supporters and several Congress MLAs.(With inputs from PTI)last_img read more

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Ahmedabad doctor performs telerobotic surgery on patient 32 km away

first_imgIn a path breaking development on Wednesday, leading Ahmedabad-based cardiologist Tejas Patel performed the world’s first in-human telerobotic coronary intervention on a patient nearly 32 km away.Dr. Patel, sitting in Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, controlled the robots that performed the telestenting surgery on a patient lying in the operation theatre at Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad. The middle aged woman suffered a heart attack some days ago. She had agreed to volunteer for the procedure.The Apex Heart Institute set up by Dr. Patel, a Padma Shri awardee, is the first facility outside the U.S. to introduce robotic procedures for heart-related surgeries. Dr. Patel used CorPath GRX, a vascular robotic system developed by the U.S.-based Corindus. CorPath GRX’s robotic stenting is said to provide accuracy of sub-1 mm, against a surgeon’s 5-10 mm.The surgery was watched by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and priests of the Akshardham Temple. Its success is expected to pave the way for large-scale, long-distance telerobotic platforms across the globe.“It is a landmark event for interventional medicine. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the number one cause of death worldwide… nearly 18 million a year,” Dr. Patel told media persons after the surgery. He said application of telerobotics in India had the potential to impact a significant number of lives by providing access to care that may not otherwise have been possible. Moreover, the platform had the potential to improve patient access to both elective and emergency percutaneous coronary interventions in rural and under-served populations and reduce treatment time for procedures such as STEMI.The robotic system comprises three parts — a cath lab-integrated robotic arm, a cockpit from where the cardiologist commands the robot using a joystick, and a replaceable cassette that carries the clinical materials for each individual case requirement.last_img read more

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At House Science Panel Hearing, Sarcasm Rules

first_imgIt was supposed to be a chance for legislators to discuss the Obama administration’s 2015 federal budget with presidential science adviser John Holdren.But sarcasm and political trash-talking overrode serious debate at Wednesday’s hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Even in a Congress noted for its polarization and lack of comity, members of the panel seemed more interested in name-calling than numbers. As a result, the 2-hour hearing was more evidence of how entrenched and extreme views are dramatically remaking what was once one of the most rational forums in Congress for discussing science policy.Several members, for example, appeared to be trying to mock rather than engage Holdren on climate change. “I may want to get your cellphone number, Dr. Holdren,” said Representative Randy Weber (R–TX), “because, if we go through another few cycles of global warming and cooling, I may need to ask you when I should buy my long coat on sale.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Weber, a freshman from the Galveston area, began his interrogation by asking Holdren whether “when you guys do your research, you start with a scientific postulate or theory and work forward from that? Is that right?” Holdren gamely played along, explaining that “it depends on the type of science, but the notion of posing a hypothesis and then trying to determine whether it is right is one of the tried and true approaches in science, yes.”But Weber’s question was really just a setup for his concluding statement. “I just don’t know how you all prove those theories going back 50 or 100,000 or even millions of years,” Weber said.Holdren had a longer—but not necessarily more substantive—exchange with Representative Bill Posey (R–FL), now in his third term representing a district that includes the state’s space coast. “I’ve never heard anyone say that we don’t have climate change,” Posey asserted. “We have had climate change since the Earth was formed, whenever you believe that was, and we will have it until the Earth implodes, whenever that is. The question is, how much of it is due to human behavior?”Holdren offered his view that “the climate change we are experiencing now for the last several decades … is largely due to human activity. We are superimposing on slow natural climate change a faster rate of human-driven climate change.” Holdren also noted that “the natural changes that are under way would, if they were the only influences, actually be cooling the planet. We would be in a long-term cooling trend. Instead, we are in a warming trend, which suggests that human activity is overwhelmingly responsible.”But that explanation didn’t deflect Posey from making his broader point—that there’s nothing unusual about the current climate and that the past holds few lessons for the present. And he also did it with a nod to history.“I remember in the ’70s, that [cooling] was the threat, the fear,” Posey recalled. Then he pivoted. “I’ve read that during the period of the dinosaurs, that the Earth’s temperature was 30° warmer. Does that seem fathomable to you?”One freshman on the Democratic side couldn’t resist adding his own brand of insults, aimed not at the witness but at his Republican colleagues. “I have to say that, frankly, Dr. Holdren, at this point you should be prepared to address whether the Earth is round or flat, or whether indeed gravity is happening. You just never know what could fly at you,” said Representative Eric Swalwell (D–CA), whose northern California district includes two Energy Department national laboratories. His scorn also took him far afield from the subject of the hearing.“And I have to say that, with 97% of scientists stating that climate change is manmade, I’m encouraged to see that some of my colleagues from across the aisle have given voice to the minority 3%,” Swalwell continued, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “This is encouraging for the other minorities that my colleagues across the aisle have not helped out, including immigrants waiting for comprehensive immigration reform, women who have not received equal pay for equal work, and those who are affected by changes in the Voting Rights Act.”It would be nice to report that cooler heads prevailed. The committee chair, Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), did extend Holdren the type of respect that was once a given on the committee. But the veteran legislator also spent more time airing a list of grievances against the administration—notably involving environmental regulations and the security of the administration’s website to sign up for Obamacare—than engaging in a substantive discussion of where the U.S. research enterprise is headed.Smith also took some digs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in his long-running battle with the agency over grants that he and other Republicans feel are frivolous and wasteful. After reading a list of such grants, including what he described as a $20,000 study “of the causes of stress in Bolivia,” he quipped, “Well, what causes a lot of the stress [for this committee] is studying the causes of stress in Bolivia.” After a brusque exchange with Holdren over whether NSF has done enough to explain the grants to the public, Smith cut off Holdren with the comment, “we’ll have to agree to disagree.”It should be noted that some of the rancor that legislators showed was the old-fashioned kind, of raging against policies that they simply don’t like. Grilling Holdren on why the administration has proposed mothballing an infrared telescope flown aboard a Boeing 747 because of high operating costs, Representative Chris Collins (R–NY) repeatedly interrupted Holdren’s attempt to explain. And then the freshman legislator from New York’s Finger Lakes region blew up.“Is it or is it not a priority? … Please answer the question,” Collins pressed, giving Holdren limited chance to reply. “So it’s not a priority,” Collins finally concluded the one-sided debate.The rancor marking the science panel debate came in marked contrast to another, largely bipartisan, hearing held the next day by an appropriations subpanel examining the NSF budget. That hearing, for example, ended with a request from its chair, Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA), for additional materials that will help him argue for a larger NSF budget when the spending bill goes to the House floor.The science panel’s deep divide, however, comes as little surprise to some political scientists. In a legislative body with record levels of polarization, the science committee is even more polarized along partisan lines than the House as a whole. Those calculations were done late last year at ScienceInsider’s request by political scientist Christopher Hare of the University of Georgia, Athens. He is one of the researchers associated with Voteview.com, which uses a model called DW-NOMINATE to measure legislators’ liberal-conservative positions.Hare found that while the science panel’s Democrats generally reflected the political leanings of the Democratic minority in the House, its Republican members were, on average, more conservative than House Republicans as a whole. The science panel’s polarization “is quite impressive,” Hare wrote in an e-mail, given the House’s already high level of divisiveness.last_img read more

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Genetic study reveals surprising ancestry of many Americans

first_imgIn the United States, almost no one can trace their ancestry back to just one place. And for many, the past may hold some surprises, according to a new study. Researchers have found that a significant percentage of African-Americans, European Americans, and Latinos carry ancestry from outside their self-identified ethnicity. The average African-American genome, for example, is nearly a quarter European, and almost 4% of European Americans carry African ancestry.Until recently, “human population geneticists have tended to ignore the U.S.,” says Joanna Mountain, a geneticist and senior director of research at 23andMe, a company in Mountain View, California, that offers genetic testing. With its long history of migrations from around the world, she says, the country was “considered to be kind of messy in terms of genetics.” But Mountain and her colleagues thought they might have a fighting chance of deciphering Americans’ complex genetic ancestry. Their secret weapon? 23andMe’s huge database of genetic information.When a person signs up for a 23andMe genetic analysis, they can choose whether to make their data (with any identifying information removed) available for research. At the time when Mountain’s team compiled the database for their study, 23andMe had 500,000 customers, and about 80% of them had given their permission for their information to be used in that way. (Today, the company has about 800,000 customers.) That makes the data set used for the study “an order of magnitude bigger” than those usually used to examine population mixing, says Katarzyna Bryc, a population geneticist at 23andMe and lead author of the new paper.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The team started by looking at the average genetic ancestry of the three largest groups in the United States: European Americans, African-Americans, and Latinos. Those categories are based on how 23andMe customers defined themselves. But as you might expect in a country where different groups of people have been meeting and mixing for hundreds of years, the genetic lines between the groups are quite blurred.“You see all of those different ancestries in each of these groups,” Bryc explains. The average African-American genome, for example, is 73.2% African, 24% European, and 0.8% Native American, the team reports online today in The American Journal of Human Genetics. Latinos, meanwhile, carry an average of 18% Native American ancestry, 65.1% European ancestry (mostly from the Iberian Peninsula), and 6.2% African ancestry.The new study adds an unprecedented level of detail to patterns that had been noticed in previous, more general studies. For example, the 23andMe data reveals that the proportion of different ancestries, even within one self-identified ethnic group, vary significantly by state. Latinos with the highest proportion of African ancestry (about 20%) are from Louisiana, followed by states such as Georgia, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania. In Tennessee and Kentucky, Latinos tend to have high proportions of European ancestry. And in the Southwest, where states share a border with Mexico, Latinos tend to have higher proportions of Native American ancestry.At least 3.5% of European Americans carry African ancestry, though the averages vary significantly by state. In South Carolina and Louisiana, about 12% of European Americans have at least 1% African ancestry. In Louisiana, too, about 8% of European Americans carry at least 1% Native American ancestry.In many states, the history of the region is written in the genomes of its current residents. Louisiana, for example, was a trading hub where different populations met and mingled. But sometimes the stories are even more specific. Oklahoma is the state where the most African-Americans have significant Native American ancestry, Bryc notes. That contact can be traced back to the Trail of Tears, when thousands of Native Americans were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma, which was also home to a significant number of black slaves. “You can really see historical events and historical migrations in the genetics,” Bryc says. “We weren’t actually expecting to be able to see that as clearly as we do.”Another way that history shows up in contemporary genomes is in what researchers call a sex bias. By looking at the kinds of DNA that are passed down only by mothers, they can calculate how many of a person’s ancestors from each population were male and female. In all three populations, they found the same signal: European ancestors tended to be male, while African and Native American ancestors tended to be female. That imbalance reflects the fact that for much of U.S. history, European men were the most aggressive colonizers, Mountain says. This mixing seems to have started almost immediately after the first European colonizers and African slaves arrived in North America. “It suggests that really early U.S. history may have been a time of a lot of mixture,” Bryc says.The fact that so many people in the United States carry a mix of different ancestries could have important medical implications. Today, doctors often assume that certain genetic variants are associated only with particular populations—think about sickle cell anemia in African-Americans, for example. But a person’s self-identified ethnicity—or the ethnicity her doctor assumes she is—doesn’t “necessarily correspond to [her] underlying genetics,” Bryc says. In a mixed population like the United States, it’s perfectly possible that a European American could carry the sickle cell variant that’s more common in African-Americans. In order for personalized medicine to live up to its potential, she says, doctors need to “consider the person” and her or his ancestry in all its complexity, rather than just falling back on reductive census categories.The new study is “a beautiful piece of work,” says Andrés Moreno-Estrada, a population geneticist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who has studied genetic diversity in Mexico and wasn’t involved with the new research. “The U.S. has a very particular genetic imprint compared to the rest of the Americas.” The 23andMe study “is one of steps forward in asserting that it’s possible to disentangle that complex scenario.”last_img read more

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At literary conference, NRIs condemn move to ban Indian officials from gurdwaras in US, Canada

first_imgA two-day international conference on ‘Immigrant Literature’ kicked off at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College in Ludhiana Tuesday with an aim to promote literary works of Punjabis settled abroad. At the conference, the NRI community strongly condemned the ‘ban’ imposed on Indian officials and diplomats by some gurdwaras in US and Canada, and also said that sacred gurdwaras should be kept out of politics. They added that Indian government officials too should refrain from using them as platform to promote government policies.However, they maintained that no one can be stopped from entering a gurdwara which is against principles of Sikhism. They further expressed that despite various campaigns to make Sikh turban acceptable, racism and discrimination was still deep-rooted in those countries.Read it at Indian Express Related Itemslast_img read more

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Sex Before Viagra

first_imgOne of the greatest fallacies Indians live with is that they have greater expertise or consciousness in the areas of sexuality and erotica. The myth is almost as dangerous as believing that there is anything fundamentally “Indian” in any context. Much of what we believe in the areas of sexuality and erotica is based on a mythology that very few of us practice or know about. Most of that mythology comes from the inheritance we claim over the Kamasutra, the great and perhaps the only text on sexuality at the heart of religious-cultural heritage in the world, let alone in India.Our ownership of that text is legendary. It is a claim often dropped over cold samosas and masala tea at parties. With non-Indians present, the references get richer and the pseudo-knowledge even thicker. Very few Indians have actually read the text, which is boringly pedantic and — shockingly to many — did not contain pictures in the original. In fact, the most popular edition was translated by one Sir Richard Burton in 1883. And yet, walk into a bookstore or a tourist shop targeting gullible commodity-seekers, and you will find richly illustrated texts with pictures of cavorting men and women, meant to drive your imagination wild and your reverence of all things Indian, even wilder. It needn’t be mentioned that the Kamasutra has made it possible to get closer to women or to claim a mystery in that valuable area of inter-personal relations only to be led to an abyss, where experience has no relationship to the text.Since we own the heritage by default, we like to think we live by it. It explains away quite a few things about our culture. The exploding population that underscores our sexual productivity, the overwhelming ooze of sexuality in gigantic billboards of “Bollywood” movies, and of course, the films themselves, which, let us admit, have provided quite a large population around the world a dependable outlet for understanding and vicariously enjoying their lust. There are easy justifications on why we are so wild in the area of representation, because we own the authoritative text on it like no one else does. It allows the West to intensify its stereotypes that there is something inexplicably mysterious and wild about Eastern cultures. It deepens our self-image that what others say about us must be true and separates further our real life and our delusions about ourselves. It is not just the Kamasutra, of course. We also invoke the great temple sculptures that live alongside the pious images of gods and deities. The explicit sexuality of some of these images is startling and prods us to probe and understand the complex heritage we inherit. Instead, all that gels together is one giant gestalt about how rich our religious heritage is on things sexual and erotic.There is no doubt about the richness of these sites, sculptures and temples. We dwelt on them in the pages of Little India earlier (June 2008). But a myopic focus on that alone allows us to gloss over how our heritage has become an excuse for the oppressive practices in our culture to date. There is still no place for women to express their sexuality on their own terms. We turn a blind eye on the polymorphous sexuality between sexes (as much as across) expressed in this heritage. We continue to mete out deferential treatment to relations among men and among women. And above all, we continue to believe that sexuality is a realm of its own.The lesson taught by the quasi-religious texts was that all life, not just sexuality, was to be lived as a rigorous commitment to sincere and intense practice. The dedication to the principles of yoga that the Kamasutra and other texts invoked was connected to similar approaches to economics, to duties in family life, and to other areas, which allowed us to define life amongst other living creatures. Indeed, early on the Kamasutra itself admonishes: “Man, the period of whose life is one hundred years, should practice Dharma, Artha and Kama at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonize together and not clash in any way. He should acquire learning in his childhood, in his youth and middle age he should attend to Artha and Kama, and in his old age he should perform Dharma, and thus seek to gain Moksha, i.e. release from further transmigration.” Indeed, for all its focus on sexuality, the Kamasutra cautions, “When all the three, viz. Dharma, Artha and Kama, come together, the former is better than the one which follows it, i.e. Dharma is better than Artha, and Artha is better than Kama.”We have conveniently figured out that sexuality is an independent sphere; it works by itself, confined to relations that are for pleasures defined by the dominant and, of course, confined to bed. We have bought the image that others sold to us only to delude ourselves by believing that we are richer by what we own, not by what we practice. This separation between what traditions tell us and what we practice is not unique to Indian culture alone, of course. All religions are rife with the rift — a pretense that what is written somewhere makes them superior. This blinds them to the hypocrisies of religions and their mythologies.Indians are very conservative when it comes to the practice of sexuality in public life. Kissing is still a prize accomplishment on the silver screen and sexuality is still constructed figuratively, only to hint at what is happening. Our clothing, influenced by traditions that are hardly indigenous, barely speaks of gender equality or convenience that is fair to women in particular. Indian men, presumably influenced by their heritage of erotica and sexuality, are still abusing women in social and inter-personal relations.As Western modernism arrived in India in tidal waves in the past century and as we intensified our marriage to relatively unbridled consumer capitalism, we have completely lost our bearings on things we inherited and possibly once practiced. Our sexual mores are now dictated by what we look up and aspire to in the West. Our cities and communities are now impressions of the Western lifestyle, unique in an anthropological sense, but poor in every other. We may even win the race to out-imitate those who provide us with this new image. We may become a global power in consumer-strength. What we cannot do easily is to bridge the gap between what we think and what we practice. What the West has done to the Kamasutra is pornographic.And yet, there are two qualities that could make us distinct. First, our history is a great testimony to the flexibility, malleability and diversity of our culture. We have taken blows from the outside and from within; we have made our enemies our neighbors and we have managed to stake out a place where ferment can lead to a richer peace. It is possible then to own the heritage of sexuality and erotica in practice and in principle, understand the shortcomings of these texts as those written with specific interests and practice them in our social relations. Much of consumer culture and new technologies can be rendered useful in broadening what we are. There is a place in consumer culture to resist the temptations of being sold out and to fashion thought that is independent.To be an Indian is to live with contradictions. The wide rift between the ownership of traditions we invoke and what we live with, the broad divide between our voluptuous exhibitions of sexuality and our puritanical attitudes are just new manifestations of our conceptions of ourselves over the ages. The tension between the contradictions is rendered productive by thinking more about them, as the economist Amartya Sen and others have pointed out. There never was any vitality to Indian sexuality except for the high rates of procreation and the widening gulf in our social relations, especially in our treatment of women. It is best to learn a lesson from all of this and focus on what our conceptions do to us instead of dreaming about the ideals they conjure for us.The distinctions between sexuality, erotica and pornographic have become too slippery for public discourse. But there are some broad, though basic, assumptions to be kept in mind. What we understand to be pornography, lurid and wanton expressions of sexual acts or hints of sexual acts, is a diversion from the more subterranean notion of pornography.Everything that is objectified for the pleasure of the subject, the viewer, at the expense of the object is pornographic. Thus, a tourist who comes to India, even if it is Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, or an ordinary tourist who stays in posh hotels and runs around with cameras to take pictures home, is objectifying all that he encounters. Colonialism is a form of pornography, where the aggressors pillaged the land without regard to the inhabitant lives or their values. What the West has done to the Kamasutra is pornographic. The West invented technologies and ways of thinking that are pornographic, where the viewer captures what he sees for his pleasure alone. Photography, cinema and the National Geographic (for example) are instruments of deepening that pornographic attitude. We extend this to women and other objects of desire in our public life and view them in a pornographic sense. It matters very little what perception those who are objectified have of this, any more than what we think about prisoners who might be happy about their prisons. Sexuality has a broader meaning well beyond the act of sex and certainly beyond the codes that we have established as accepted in our social frame. It is a term that normalizes our relations. While we placed homosexuality in the midst of our social practices in various parts of Indian life, we have denigrated it as unacceptable sexuality. It makes our stomachs turn to think of men and women having sexual relations among themselves, while men are allowed and encouraged to lust after women and women are contained in their expressions of sexual desire. Heterosexual lust is considered “natural” and acceptable while sexual relations among the same sexes, which were practiced in our past, are tainted. Sexuality is as much about language as it is about representation of relations. What we call sexual and what we accept as “normal” are such because of the power that accompanies them. Let us remember that only certain kind of sexuality sells and we do a lot of it, pushing everything else under the carpet.Conceptions of erotica are even more complex. While a case has been made, and rightfully so, that various aspects of Indian culture have articulated what erotic relations are like, it is still a challenge to decipher exactly what that means. One wishes it was as legalistic or pedestrian as saying that “one knows it, when one sees it.” Complete and full sensory engagement with that which is our perceptual world, within and beyond our sensory experiences, even in the realm of imagination makes a claim to be erotic. Declaring a pornographic act as erotic doesn’t make it so, since it is surrounded by practices that defeat that intent. Erotica is a goal to be achieved, something that the Kamasutra and other yogic texts remind us. That is the reason; we aim to reach that goal through art, through expressions of faith toward elemental spirits (sometimes embodied in gods). Dance has erotic elements because it shows a path toward reaching the erotic. The same goes with sculpture, architecture, clothing and other expressions of culture.Anything that involves training and using senses requires slowing down time. Indian arts have had a meditative and cultivated character. Sensory and sensual involvements have always demanded, especially since the corruption of modernism, servitude of time, not its domination. Since life has to be adaptable to its changing conditions, the lesson that our cultures offer have to do with a way of life, not the specifics of activities.There are no quick remedies for sexuality or erotica. They are not in the plastic surgery offices or in the illustrated editions of the Kamasutra; they are not in the oozing partial nudity of Bollywood or provocations of bodily exhibitions; they are not in the mythologies that we hold dear either. Learning takes its own course as it confronts the complexity of life; which is why it did not come readily available in pill form. That is perhaps the reason we did not think of the Viagra in the first place. Related Itemslast_img read more

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Nagaland police told to stock rations

first_imgThe Nagaland government on Thursday directed all unit commanders of its police force to stock rations and fuel for at least two months in view of the “fluid situation” in the State.This is believed to be in reference to the possible breakdown of 22 years of talks between the Centre and the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) over the issue of ‘Naga national flag’ and ‘Naga Yezhabo (constitution)’.The instruction from the State’s Inspector-General of Police (Armed and Indian Reserve Battalions) to the commandants of the Nagaland Armed Police and IR Battalions was issued three days after the State government cancelled the leave of all administrative and police personnel.On October 21, Chief Secretary Temjen Toy also warned government employees of “disciplinary action” if they criticise the polices and actions of the government in the press, social media or public meetings.“All unit comdrs are hereby directed to keep atleast two months stock of rations/pol in view of the fluid situation in the State. Confirm a/taken (sic),” the wireless transmission message to the unit heads read.Nagaland-based dailies on Friday said the series of messages to the police and government officials have triggered panic buying among a section of the people fearing a “Kashmir-like total shutdown” in case the Naga talks fail.last_img read more

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In Madhya Pradesh, officials use social media for speedy disposal of cases

first_imgEven before the order copy from Bhopal reached his college in Rewa by post, Ramavatar held the marksheet gleefully, thanks to WhatsApp. The Madhya Pradesh Information Commission, on his appeal, had ordered that the marksheet be released. He just had to carry the printout of the order copy to the college, received on the mobile application. “This is a way to ensure speedy disposal of cases,” said Rahul Singh, Information Commissioner. “Applicants come to us harassed. And hearing takes months, even years. If we follow the same bureaucratic methods, and not adapt to technology, the harassment will continue.”Mandatory conditionWith the mandatory condition to provide information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, within 30 days often flouted, aggrieved appellants are left to grapple with long-drawn-out hearings, fiendish paperwork and delayed communication. To expedite proceedings, the Commission is admitting complaints, disposing of cases on Twitter too, and serving notices on government officials through WhatsApp. “The Act doesn’t rule out the use of technology for conducting hearings. As a result, videoconferencing has become a norm. Similarly, we are leveraging the social media and telephone to speedily dispose of cases,” said Mr. Singh. More than 7,000 cases dating as far back as 2012 were pending before the Commission.However, the social media wasn’t an alternative to postal correspondence, he cautioned. “That takes weeks, allowing some officials to mislead or discourage applicants. Even so, the original order is sent by post. But at least the possession of their copies by us can set the ball rolling,” said Mr. Singh.last_img read more

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