Tuesday October 17, 2017

Kalari : A Unique Traditional Cheese of Jammu and Kashmir

Kalari cheese is a lesser known cheese in the world. It is produced in Jammu and is described to be as delicious as the mozzarella.

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Packaged Kalari Cheese. Image Source : himalayancheese.com
  • Jammu produces an indigenous type of cheese called Kalari
  • The raw material for Kalari is the milk that is mainly obtained from the Gujjars
  • Kalari is often described to be as delicious as the world renowned mozzarella cheese

Jammu is known all over the world because of the Vaishno Devi Temple. But what remains a mystery is how people are still not aware of the beautiful cuisine of Jammu. Not only cuisine, Jammu excels in dairy products due the vast expanse of pasture lands it has. In fact, Kalari cheese, an indigenous type of cheese made in Jammu is one of the delicacies of Jammu.

In olden days, it used to be made from raw milk fat. There used to be a vigorous process of preparing the cheese. It is so delicious that it is often termed as the mozzarella cheese of Jammu. Cheese markets and producers are widely familiar with this brand of Indian cheese.

The famous Kalari Kulcha. Image Source : traveltriangle.com
The famous Kalari Kulcha. Image Source : traveltriangle.com

The betterindia.com article said, in Jammu, kalari is used to make snacks as well. Fried in the fat, it is garnished with spices and served hot. While the exterior has a crunch taste, inside it is soft and gooey. The Kalari Kulcha is a street snack which is highly in demand in Jammu.

The traditional Gujjar people. Image Source : justconservation.org
The traditional Gujjar people. Image Source : justconservation.org

Today, the milk is still available in Jammu owing to the great number of nomadic farmers who have cattle and whose livelihoods depend on upon cattle dairy. In Kashmir, there is a place called Pahalgam which is the home to a small Himalayan Cheese factory. There, every possible kind of Kalari and Gouda cheese are found. The founder, Chris Zandee and his manager help the Gujjars or the nomadic cattle raisers to increase the milk production, mentioned the betterindia.com report.

So, next time you are in Jammu and Kashmir, do not forget to try out this exotic Indian cheese!

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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Srinagar: Restrictions on Muharram Processions to Avoid Separatist Violence

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Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests.
Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests. ians

Srinagar, Sep 29: Authorities imposed restrictions on Muharram processions in parts of Srinagar on Friday, to prevent any violence in the valley. Starting from the Guru Bazar locality, the Shia procession would end at the Dalgate area.

After separatist violence started in Kashmir, authorities have not allowed the procession since 1990.

Police and paramilitary, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in full riot gear were deployed in the suspected areas to put restrictions on Muharram processions.The pedestrian and vehicular movement was also suspended.

Life in other areas of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley, however, remained normal. (IANS)

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69 Years a Slave? Balochistan’s Struggle for Freedom : A Detailed Report

Baloch nationalists assert that theirs is a freedom struggle; they were occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and have been fighting since to free themselves.

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Balochistan
Baloch people address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Wikimedia
  • Even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, Balochistan refuses to associate itself as a part of the country
  • Pakistan’s military occupation of Balochistan began in 1948 before which the province had existed as an independent state
  • The insurgency in Balochistan traces its roots in ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion

Balochistan, August 31, 2017 : Located in the South West of Pakistan, the Balochistan province of Pakistan constitutes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s territory. However, even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, the people of the province refuse to associate themselves with Pakistan or its framework of a nation state. They believe they have been Balochis for over three thousand years, who have now been invaded.

“It is freedom struggle,” believes activist Naela Quadri Baloch like many other Baloch nationalists. According to her, Balochistan had been occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and “ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves”, she believes.

In 2016 during an interview with The Times of India, the women’s leader and activist Naela Quadri Baloch had asserted that Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiris but specifically in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its desire to control the Indus river system. Similarly, it is also not interested in the Balochis, but the land of the state for its strategic location and mineral reserves.

Baloch nationalists assert that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on loans from the IMF, World Bank and the Western countries that are allegedly taken on the pretext of Balochistan’s rich mineral resources. They further claim that Pakistan’s strategic importance is also due to Balochistan coast. Pakistan would not be able to survive, which is why it does not want Balochistan to emerge as an independent state.

Balochistan
Balochistan comprises of about 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory. Wikimedia

While the world views it as an insurgency movement, Balochis address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

They maintain that Balochistan was never a part of India or Pakistan and it had always been an independent country.

Balochistan At The Time Of Partition

Balochistan comprises of four erstwhile princely states – Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran, that had been unified by Naseer Khan, the Khan of Kalat.

During the British rule, the province was divided into British Balochistan (25 per cent) and Native Balochistan, occupying 75 per cent of the total territory with people pledging adherence to Naseer Khan.

Immediately following partition and the creation of Pakistan, Khan’s descendant, Mir Ahmed Yaar Khan was faced with three options – independence, or accession to either India or Pakistan. He decided upon independence, following which a communiqué was released on August 11, 1947 giving independent sovereign status to Kalat.

However, by October 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat did not agree to the accession which was followed by a standstill between the two leaders upon the status of present-day Balochistan.

Becoming A Part Of Pakistan

By April 1948, the Pakistan army moved into the province and captured Kalat. The Khans’ attempts of an armed campaign against the Pakistan army went futile and the province was merged with Pakistan by June 1948.

At the center of Balochistan’s forced accession was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had previously been hired by the Khans for his legal services to negotiate Kalat’s independent status with the Britishers.

Before partition, Jinnah had successfully mooted an ‘Independent Status’ of Kalat for which he was graciously awarded with gold. But, Balochistan breathed as a free country only from August 1947 to March 1948, after which Jinnah breached trust and betrayed the Khan, forcing the Pakistani invasion and eventual accession of Kalat.

ALSO READ Violence surges yet again in Balochistan

Surprisingly, during the struggle and annexation of present-day Balochistan, the Indian Congressmen, Mahatma Gandhi or the then-Governor General Lord Mountbatten made no attempts to hinder in the remonstration. This indifference can be attributed to the Indian leaders’ failure to realize the strategic implication of a sovereign Balochistan at the time.

A Growing Ethnic Nationalism

Following the formation of Pakistan, distorted power relations existed among different Muslim ethnicities. Additionally, unchallenged power was exercised by Punjabis who comprised of about 56 per cent population of the state.

In 1954, the One Unit scheme was launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four existing provinces of West Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkawa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab) to form a homogeneous, united political entity in an attempt to,

  • Forge national unity on basis of Islam and geography
  • Reduce gross expenditure
  • Help eliminate ethnic prejudices.

The move triggered violence throughout the country and especially in Balochistan, wherein this was interpreted as a strategy to establish Punjabi domination.

Balochistan rose against the move, which came to an end in 1970 with the overthrow of the One Unit scheme.

However, following the rebellion, a strong sense of nationalism, propounding larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan broke a full-fledged insurgency from 1973 to 1977; over 80,000 personnel were deployed to quell the rebellion.    

Armed struggle to achieve separation from Pakistan lasted throughout the 1970s, in which 3,300 army personnel and 5,300 Balochis were killed. However, the Pakistani government successfully compressed the movement.

Economic Alienation

Baloch nationalists have repeatedly argued that they are yet to receive any benefit from the development projects that have been initiated by the government in Balochistan.

  1. Reportedly, the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan caters to most urban households in the country. Despite producing about 45 per cent of gas for Pakistan, the province gets to consume a mere 17 per cent. Additionally, the Balochis get a nominal amount of Pakistani Rupees 6 for a 24-hour supply.
  2. The Pakistani government, in collaboration with China, initiated the development of the Gwadar port in the province, with an aim to better trade ties with Asia, Europe, and US. However, a large number of Punjabis and non-Baloch people were hired for the project, leaving an increasing population of Baloch engineers and technicians unemployed.
  3. Balochistan has one of the world’s richest reserves of copper and gold. However, as much as 16 kgs of gold is seized everyday by the Chinese under an arrangement with the government, which robs the Balochis of major economic benefits.
  4. Despite being one of the country’s key providing areas,
    • 80 per cent population of Balochistan continue to live in the absence of safe drinking water
    • 80 per cent people do not have access to electricity
    • 70 per cent children have never been to school
    • 63 per cent of Balochis live below the poverty line

While ethnic nationalist interests continue to worry Balochistan, a primary demand has also been about better control over the economic resources of the region.

However, the Pakistani government blames the nationalist struggle in the region for impeding the developmental process.

Political Subjugation By Islamabad

Balochistan makes up nearly 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory but the Balochs comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, making them a minority in Pakistan.

Their representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan is also negligible (17 out of 342) which reveals that the Balochis have lost their say in policy formulations and are forced to adhere to laws that have been put in place for them by power honchos sitting in Islamabad.

Additionally, the Pakistan government centered in Islamabad has eradicated most of the Baloch activists and nationalists, calling them ‘foreign agents against the state’. This can be supplemented with the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was an ex chief minister of Balochistan.

ALSO READ Akbar Bugti: Remembering the Balochistan Hero on his 11th Martyrdom Anniversary

Pakistan And Its inherent Demand of Balochistan

Ever since the creation of Pakistan, it has been evident that the Pakistan government is more concerned with occupying the physical territory of Balochistan, with meager interest in its indigenous population.

The Pakistan army, on command of the government has employed every possible armory against its own people of Balochistan, in an attempt to contain the province within its seizure. Furthermore, army cantonments have been established at Dera, Gwadar, Bugti and Kohlu to gauge activity and movement of the Baloch people.

Additionally, despite occupying 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory, the budget allocated to Balochistan is minuscule in comparison to its vast landmass.

In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf had striked a deal with China over the Gwadar port development as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch people condemned the allocation of land to the rich businessmen of Punjab and Karachi and further lamented the unemployment stemming from the project. The move also instigated further violence in the region.

Balochistan
Gwadar port in Balochistan. Wikimedia

As of now, according to report, all 22 districts of Balochistan continue to suffer at the hands of the enduring insurgency with the tally of displaced people now crossing over 2 lacs.

In more recent times, the Pakistan army took aid of suicide bombers to tackle the ongoing insurgency. On August 8, 2017, as many as 54 lawyers became victims of a suicide attack, which is being touted as a State-funded action as the group included several Baloch activists who had been vocal about Pakistan army’s interference in state affairs.

ALSO READ Balochistan Suicide Bombing: Provincial Government Falsely blames India for the Attack

According to a report published in Dawn,prince of the now redundant Kalat state, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch who is now the  Baloch Rabita Ittefaq Tehreek chief,  had said that Balochis are not looking to wage wars. Until now, Balochis have not once attacked Pakistan, but only defended themselves.

He said the objective of their protests has been to draw the government’s attention. However, regretfully, no one is paying any heed to their cries.

Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar had rightly quoted in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly that the “ethnic difference remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics.”

The Balochistan insurgency thus, traces its roots in a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion. This animosity among the country will continue unless Pakistan accepts its non-Muslim history.


 

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6 Reasons Why Green Tea Should Be a Part of Your Everyday Life:What Makes It So Healthy?

You must have been advised to quit eating fast food, and soda beverages. Here we provide you with reasons that will convince you to switch from high caffeinated beverages to green tea for a healthier lifestyle!

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Green tea is the second most consumed beverage.
Green tea is believed to have therapeutic intervention to cure a variety of diseases. Pixabay
  • Green tea is a healthier option in comparison to fizzy and caffeinated drinks
  • Green Tea is known to relieve stress and solve several health problems
  • Researchers claim it can help alleviate insulin resistance, cognitive impairment, and fight allergies 

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: Coffee and black tea have long featured as preferred beverage options for a lot of people. However, rising awareness about the need to improve lifestyles has led to increased consumption of healthier alternatives such as green tea. The antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties of green tea address several health issues – ranging from bad breath to blood pressure. There are many health & skin benefits of green tea, let’s tal about it.

In fact, given our sedentary lifestyle and increased intake of fast foods, green tea is today more important than ever. A recent study published online in The FASEB Journal suggests that green tea could help alleviate insulin resistance and cognitive impairment induced by high-fat and high-fructose diets. Some studies also suggest that it can help fight off allergies.

Here are some additional benefits of green tea:

  • Curbs cholesterol: A high level of cholesterol in the body can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Green tea contains catechins that are known to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body which causes plaque in the arteries, leading to a blockage. This is one of the best benefits of green tea
  • Promotes healthier skin: Green tea is known for its rich content of antioxidants and anti-aging elements. These can help delay signs of skin aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Regular consumption of green tea flushes out unwanted toxins from the body, thereby helping you have healthy skin. one of the skin benefits of green tea.
  • Relieves physical and mental fatigue: According to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 450 million people suffer from stress worldwide. Green tea contains polyphenols that help reduce stress, boost energy and improve mental focus. The various antioxidants that are present in green tea also have a calming effect on the mind and body, which helps in creating a positive mood.
  • Builds immunity: Green tea contains compounds such as polyphenol and flavonoids which boost your immune system. These phytoconstituents act as antimicrobial agents, thereby helping the body fight against infection as well. Moreover, the antioxidants in green tea strengthen and protect the immune system against compounds known as free radicals, which are known to harm living cells and tissues.

ALSO READ: Now You can Fight Memory Loss With Green Tea, Says New Research

  • Helps in removal of phlegm: Green tea contains polyphenols which have potent anti-bacterial properties that fight against infections and reduce the formation of phlegm. For best results, prepare some green tea and add a little honey to it before drinking it.
  • Helps detox your body: Detoxing one’s body helps improve metabolism. Green tea refreshes, hydrates and cleanses the body of unhealthy toxins. The catechins in green tea improve the fat metabolism and reduce toxic effects on the liver. It reduces pressure on the liver, which is the body’s major detoxing organ. Moreover, it also detoxifies and purifies the whole body because of its rich antioxidant properties.

So now that you are aware of the all vital benefits of green tea, it is time to switch from high caffeinated beverages to green tea for a healthier lifestyle. (IANS)

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