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By Nithin Sridhar
“sham no astu dvipade, sham chatushpade” meaning “let the two-legged (humans) and the four legged (animals) attain welfare” says one of the famous mantras used in Hinduism.
India and Hinduism have always recognized animals as an inseparable part of their ecology and ecosystem and hence not only worshiped various animals but also prayed for their welfare. Many animals were brought into our festivals where they played an important role. Many animals are considered highly sacred and as an embodiment of God. In the case of elephants, they are considered as a representation of Lord Ganesha.
The manufactured discourse around temple elephantsOn 15-August, Daily Mail published a story by Liz Jones that made shocking claims about the condition of temple elephants. The story begins dramatically “They seem like statues, or stuffed exhibits in a museum – 57 of them, studded around a patch of scrubby forest.” Then it moves on to reveal how Nandan, a 43-year old tusker, has been chained to the same spot for 20-years; how Padmanabhan’s leg was deliberately broken 15-years ago; and how Devi, a female elephant, has been chained to the same spot for 35 years and has never ever moved even a single inch.
Of course these tales are horrible, but thankfully it turns out that they may have been “manufactured”. On 18-August, Prem Panicker, of Peepli.org published an article where he clearly established how many of the heart-wrenching facts narrated in the Daily Mail story were nothing more than a figment of imagination of the author.
This is what Prem Panicker writes: “As a Keralite, and a Hindu who has visited the temple on a few occasions, my reaction to this article would be bewildered amusement.
“But as a journalist and editor, my reaction is far more visceral. I have many problems with this piece – beginning with the fictions, the distortions and the exaggerations. Only some of them are cataloged above; all of them are examples of journalism so shockingly inept that they can be disproved given a functioning internet connection and a few minutes of time.
“Then there is the overt racism embedded in declarations of the order of ‘The mahout, a vicious- faced little thug.’”
This is not to suggest that there are no issues with the upkeep of the temple elephants, only that the discourse depicted in the Daily Mail story not only did great disservice to the issue of status of temple elephants by opting for distortion and exaggeration instead of ground facts, but also it comes across as a deliberate hit-job trying to associate India and Hinduism with animal cruelty.
For example, in the Daily Mail article, the author states: “We discuss whether condemning the way the animals are kept will be perceived as attacking Hinduism (as so many people have told me since I arrived in Kerala, I will be insulting traditions going back thousands of years).”
So, a subtle suggestion is introduced in the discourse about how criticism of elephants may be perceived as criticism of Hinduism. But, in reality the author also appears to be doing the same thing. No body perceived various study and reports by experts regarding the issue of condition of temple elephants as a criticism of Hinduism. On the other hand, the author of Daily Mail story appears to be using distortions and fabrication of facts regarding temple elephants to make veiled commentary about India, Hinduism and Hindu practices. The question is, if there are no hidden agendas, why opt for distortion and fabrication?
Prem Panicker rightly sums up: “Such distortions and untruths harm the very cause the reporter purports to espouse, because they dent the credibility of not just the particular story, but of any reporter or activist raising this issue now and in the future.”
The real issue surrounding temple elephants
The most important issue with respect to temple elephants is the fact that elephants by nature are independent and like to roam freely. They need large space to live and move. But, in temples there is a great restriction on their movements due to reduced availability of space compared to wilderness. Elephants are often chained due to this reason as well. Another issue is that of availability of clean water in sufficient amount. Also, the work schedule may be too hectic and the living shelters may not be up to the mark. Temple elephants often suffer from isolation as well. The extreme methods used in taming of elephants is a grave issue.
Traditionally, mahouts are usually classified into Reghawan, Yukthiman, and Balwan. Reghavan controls the elephant using love and care and develops a bond with his elephant. The Yukthiman uses wit and intelligence to outsmart the elephants and hence tame them. The Balwan uses forceful means to achieve the same.
The temple authorities, as well as the government, must make sure that only the first and second types of mahouts are employed in the handling of elephants. Secondly, various modern equipment and techniques can be combined with traditional methods of taming elephants so that the activity of taming and transporting of elephants are done as smoothly and peacefully as possible. Utmost care must be taken to not handle elephants violently.
Further, the living conditions and the infrastructure provided for the elephants including, food, water, shelter etc. must be conductive to the health and happiness of the elephants. Their working conditions must be improved and they must be allowed to rest more and work less.
The 2009 report “Captive Elephants of Temples of India” written by Surendra Varma and others observers that, if the temples were to cater to the welfare of elephants, there are only two ways. The first way, the report says is to put a complete end to the practice. This is what is being demanded by the Bangalore-based Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which has filed the PIL in the Supreme Court for banning the use of elephants in religious functions and processions. But, there are some serious issues with this argument.If a ban is demanded on keeping the elephants captive in temples, then such a ban must be demanded about any kind of captivity of animals. That would mean shutting down of not only various zoos across the country, but also prohibiting the practice of having pets at home. After all, if captivity itself is the issue and not the living conditions, then even a dog or a cat or even a cow are all in captivity in one way or the other. But, most people will definitely disagree with this suggestion.
Therefore, it is not proper to target a ban on captive elephants in the temples. If such a ban must be enforced, it must be equally enforced across the country on all kinds of animal captivity, including captivity of animals for scientific research. As such a blanket ban is not practical, it is better to improve the living conditions of the temple elephants. This is the second way suggested in the Surendra Varma and other’s report. It suggests that the owners of elephants must be mandated to provide natural conditions for the living of elephants like large space with sufficient vegetation, presence of companions and keeping at least 2-3 elephants together. The report further suggests following measures to be stipulated for temples that own an elephant:
1. The work load on the elephants should not be too much. The work schedule of the elephants should not be packed with as many festivals as possible in order to generate higher income. This can be achieved by charging higher fee per festival but limiting the number of festivals that elephants attend.
2. Another aspect of work is that the elephants should be provided natural transit living conditions in between periods of work. This implies not only restricted duration of work for the elephants but also taking care of all its needs during working hours.
3. Temples within a region could think of setting up a common facility capable of holding elephants belonging to different owners. This can be done independently or in association with the forest department. This will ensure presence of companions for the elephants and provide socializing opportunities.
4. Feeding the elephant needs to be managed scientifically, that is, not only the nutrient needs of the elephant but also psychological stimulation can be an objective while feeding the elephant; cultivation of fodder crops by temples can be practiced.
5. Formulation of policies/ monitoring/ providing recommendations on the captive situation for temple elephants needs to be streamlined to a single person or group of persons.
6. Establishment of mobile veterinary units to provide health care for temple elephants.
7. Motivational measures to be implemented for boosting morale of mahouts and schemes to improve their welfare.
8. General public must be allowed to view elephants at a distance and not allowed to touch or abuse elephants during parades, festivals, transportation, or rest.
When seen in the backdrop of the recommendations of the Surendra Varma report, the Supreme Court’s directive in the PIL by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre is a very positive step.
The SC has ordered a head-count and registration of all captive elephants present in Kerala. It has asked the concerned authorities to issue “declaration of ownership” to the elephant owners. This will help in pinning responsibility for the health, safety and security of the elephants on the owners of the elephants and on the organizers of the festivals.
Cruelty towards animals is a ground reality. It is not just limited to treatment of elephants at few temples. When chickens or cows are slaughtered for food, even that is cruelty. When animals are hunted for their horns or fur; that is also cruelty. To use this issue of cruelty towards animals to create a negative discourse about India and Hinduism will serve no useful purpose. It will instead do a great damage to the genuine issue of animal welfare.
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are up to 50 per cent more likely to self-harm later in life, suggested a study that adds to evidence of link between air pollution and mental health problems. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England and Aarhus University examined 1.4million kids under 10 in Denmark and found that those exposed to a high level of nitrogen dioxide were more likely to self harm in adulthood than their peers, the Daily Mail reported.
And people in the same age group exposed to above average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were 48 per cent more likely to subsequently self-harm, revealed the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by cars, while PM2.5 is mainly emitted by burning diesel and petrol, which is most commonly used for shipping and heating. These two pollutants are among those most commonly linked with causing harm to physical health, such as heart and lung diseases, by getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok, a research fellow at Manchester University was quoted as saying. "Although air pollution is widespread, it is a modifiable risk factor and we therefore hope our study findings will inform policymakers who are devising strategies to combat this problem," Mok added.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok | Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
While the researchers have not explained the mechanism for how these pollutants can cause mental health problems, they say high pollution levels could trigger inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health conditions, the report said. Childhood is a 'sensitive time for brain development', so youngsters may be 'particularly susceptible' to negative effects from toxic particles in the air, they added.
Further, the team found that some 32,984 people (2.3 per cent) harmed themselves in the study period, with cases higher among women, those whose parents had mental illness and individuals from poorer families. Exposure to an average of 19 microgram/m3 or more of particulate matter each day was associated with a 48 per cent higher chance of self-harming later in life, compared to children exposed to an average of 13 microgram/m3 per day or less. And for every 5 microgram/m3 increase in exposure above 19 microgram/m3, the risk of self harm rose by 42 per cent. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pollution, kids, exposure, pollution, self-harm, development
By- Tejas Maheta
When attempting to summarise the current performance and future portents for the South Asia economy, it's arguable that most of the region's nations are doing relatively well.
Malaysia offers a relevant case in point, as despite combatting Covid-19 whilst also dealing with a global oil price crash and political instability, the nation is poised to record economic growth of 0.5% by the end of 2020.
Sure, this is noticeably down on the initial 2002 forecast of 4.8% growth, but it needs to be considered against the backdrop of an unprecedented combination of socio-economic and geopolitical challenges.
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Similar trends have been reported in Vietnam and Hong Kong, the former of which has recorded no coronavirus deaths at all and remains one of the few nations on course to achieve economic growth this year. But which nations are really leading the recovery in this region, and what should we expect going forward?
Surviving Covid - Currencies and Stimulus Packages
Of course, one thing that unites these nations is the proactive rollout of generous stimulus and quantitative easing packages, with Malaysia having provided an RM295 billion injection into the economy.
Of this, an estimated 15% (approximately RM45 billion) is a direct fiscal injection in the government, with the remaining capital introduced in the form of slashing base interest rates and managing inflation.
Hong Kong has also introduced several rounds of quantitative easing measures since February, with April's iteration providing an HKD120 billion relief package and taking the total government stimulus investment to HKD290 (which equates to 9.5% of Hong Kong's gross domestic product).
In the case of both Malaysia and Hong Kong, these measures have also helped to boost the value of domestic currencies. The Hong Kong dollar rose for the fifth consecutive day last week, for example, while the HK Monetary Authority sold a further HK£3.72 billion of local currency and continued to boost their capital inflows as a result.
The Malaysian Ringgit has also performed relatively well against major currencies of late, although it faces additional challenges in the form of the recent global oil price decline.
So, although crude oil prices have recently rebounded slightly, Malaysia's currency value has been impacted by rising capital outflows and forced to trade within an increasingly narrowing range.
Common Ringgit notes Image source: wikimedia commons
A Look Ahead - What Can we Expect?
Asia was the region first affected by Covid-19, and therefore it stands to reason that its nations should have commenced their recovery quicker than those in Europe and the US.
Interestingly, the shoots of recovery may be green in more ways than one, with the Export-Import Bank of Korea leading the return of Asian green bonds in the primary financial market.
Also Read: Zimbabwe Ends Its Interim Currency
Of course, the idea of sustainable finance and investment has been a hot-button topic in Asia for a while now, while we've also seen a significant increase in demand for Green, Social and Sustainability (GSS) bonds in recent times.
This followed the introduction of a 700 million Euro green bond and Korea's pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (following hot on the footsteps of the UK).
With these points in mind, there's clearly the potential for Asia to build on its relative strength and initial Covid-19 recovery by investing in sustainable assets and building a considerably greener future.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains commercial links)
How Can A Person Create His Cryptocurrency, And What Are The Benefits Of Creating His Cryptocurrency?
By- Jean Nichols
Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency, and many people have been inspired by bitcoin, and they started to create their cryptocurrency. Even many people are creating their cryptocurrency. Daily there is a new cryptocurrency that is created daily. In this further, we will discuss the factors required to make our cryptocurrencies are.
What are the benefits of cryptocurrency?
There are many benefits of investing in cryptocurrency on https://bitcoin-loophole.live/ . Because of this reason; there are many people who have shifted from the share market to cryptocurrency for investment purposes and for earning huge profits.
●The primary advantage of cryptocurrency is that the market of cryptocurrency is very volatile and rises and falls very quickly. So just by getting the knowledge, one can very quickly invest in cryptocurrencies.
●The second main advantage of investing in bitcoin is that it is a universal currency. One can easily invest in cryptocurrencies and use Them in any part of the world.
●This is a universal currency, so it is straightforward to make international transactions through it. International transactions take very little time on this platform.
There are some of the other primary advantages too, like less time-consuming, low transaction charges, etc.
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A chart depicting crypsocurrency rates and prices Image source: wikimedia commons
Are factors necessary for creating your own cryptocurrency?
While creating your own cryptocurrency, there are some factors that need to be taken care of before starting work on them.
●The major thing which is required in this is that we require a professional coder who has essential experience. He can help us create our own cryptocurrency by doing satisfactory coding.
●Another thing we need is the blockchain. In the case of the blockchain, we can create our own blockchain, which would cost very high and which would be very time consuming; instead of that, we can use the blockchain of some other cryptocurrency. Now there comes the difference, if we are creating our own blockchain, then it will be known as the coin, and if we are using the blockchain of some other crypto, then it will be known as a token.
●Another major thing required for creating our own cryptocurrency is that we need full-time customer care support, which can handle customers easily.
●Another thing is that we require a proper payment gateway so that we can make the money transfers very conveniently.
●The last factor which controls all the above factors is that we need a considerable investment amount and along with that the investors.
What are the advantages of new cryptocurrency?
There are many advantages of creating own cryptocurrencies:
●The owner of the cryptocurrency can hold a large proportion of the bitcoin on his own, and when the prices of the crypto rise, then he can easily sell the crypto in proportions and can live a luxurious life.
●The prices of the new cryptocurrencies rise; there are no chances of falling down of the bitcoin prices as the new crypto price rises continually as anyone invests in it.
Bitcoin is well on its way to replacing or globalising currency Image source: wikimedia commons
As with the time, a new cryptocurrency should give some benefits to the users:
●It should provide fewer transaction charges as much as possible; this is also the main thing that matters in cryptocurrency.
●The payment gateway should be the best, and there should not be the payments on hold in it; the user hates these types of things.
●Customer service should be the best one and deal with the customers in the best way possible. Because polite customer service can impress the customer and he will recommend others to invest in the cryptocurrency.
Here we have discussed the factors which are very necessary for a new cryptocurrency. There are benefits both to the users as well as to the people who are investing in cryptocurrency. The owner of the cryptocurrency will earn money by keeping the central part of the holdings and sales in it in the future.
The users can earn profits by investing in it initially and sell it in early times as there will be the price of the crypto in the skies. So, this was all about creating your own cryptocurrency; the only problem which arises is that there comes the problem of the funds' collection.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains some commercial links)