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Dog days no more: Saket strays find mother figure in rag-picker

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By Muhammed Zulqarnain Zulfi 

New Delhi: Adjacent to the PVR Anupam miltiplex in south Delhi’s Saket neighbourhood stands a tin shack on wooden slabs and decorated with a few torn rugs. In and around this shanty, stray dogs can be seen walking around like disciples of a holy saint.

The shanty belongs to Pratima Devi, who looks older than her 61 years. She has lived here for more than three decades and is a ragpicker. Better known as Amma in the neighbourhood, she earns only to look after hundreds of dogs in the locality.

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“I look after over 400 dogs – about 200 around my home. Others are scattered in the courtyard of the PVR complex up to J-block (a little over half a kilometre away). My dogs never bite. They have been sterilised and vaccinated by the MCD (civic body),” Pratima told IANS.

She nurses the injured dogs and feeds them from a civic van in the evenings – the fare includes milk, stew and mutton. Pratima has earned quite a reputation in the locality today and many neighbours make a contribution toward feeding the dogs.

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“I was married at the age of seven to a man who was more than 10 years older than me. My husband often came home drunk and used to beat me. My mother and I have suffered at the hands of our in-laws,” recounted Pratima, who came to Delhi in the early 1980s from Nandigram in West Bengal.

At the age of 14 she bore her first child who came to Delhi to work as a five-year-old. Pratima had already parted ways with her husband and was working as a domestic in Kolkata. She decided to move to Delhi to be with her older son. She has two more children.

Amma said she has worked as a domestic in model-turned-actor Rahul Dev’s home. “He was very fond of my paranthas,” she said, adding the actor still comes to visit her. She later ran a tea-stall near PVR for more than 25 years. But popularity came at a price.

“A neighbour who owned a departmental store conspired with two policemen and burnt down my tea-stall along with my house. I was injured and many of my dogs were also burnt. They spared no one,” she recalled, while showing burn marks on her feet.

Pratima has now bought a house in Sangam Vihar, some five km away, where her children live today, but she refuses to go as her adopted children – the dogs – are not welcome there.

“My children do not want me to stay with them because of the dogs. And I cannot leave them. Who will take care of the dogs if I leave them,” she asked.

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Mental health professionals, however, have a different take on the issue. They feel that dogs sometimes fill emotional gaps in people’s lives, but add that when socialisation is exclusively limited to pets, there were possibly underlying issues.

“It’s like dogs domesticated humans and vice the versa. Most people feel comfortable with animals. Nothing wrong with it, but confining oneself to animals definitely is (not good),” Suyesha Singh Rathore, a counselling psychologist, told IANS.

“During social anxiety, an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations, humans often avoid the social interaction for relaxation but unknowingly tend to behave differently. Some prefer talking to walls while others to birds, plants and sometime animals. The most common state is ‘parler a chien’ (talking to dogs) as social adaptations of dogs and humans are similar enough. The dogs can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa,” Rathore added.

“Fear of being closely watched, judged and criticised by others may lead to anxiety and self-consciousness,” she pointed out.

However, there are several reports, including one cited by New York Times, that speaks of nor just the benefits of cuddling a pooch, but also explains the science behind the compelling draw of “puppy eyes” that your pet may subject you to. The feeling of wellness you get while playing with your pet may be rooted in your brain chemistry. And it works both ways.

“The look of love can also be in the dog’s eyes. Dogs who trained a long gaze on their owners had elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment, similar to the feel-good feedback that bolsters bonding between parent and child.” (IANS)

(Muhammad Zulqarnain Zulfi can be contacted at Amohammad.z@ians.inAand Bhavana Akella can be contacted at bhavana.a@ians.in)

 

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Hormone Oxytocin In Dogs, Is Responsible for Sensitivity which Makes them Man’s Best Friend

Dog-Human relation as we know is far different from other animals, A new study speaks what's the reason behind their friendly and loving nature toward humans.

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Dog's hormone oxytocin sensitivity study. Pixabay

London, September 20, 2017: Ever wondered why some dogs are so friendly with their owners? It’s because of an association with genetic variations in sensitivity for the hormone Oxytocin, reveals a new study.

Since their domestication from their wild ancestor the wolf to the pets we have today, dogs have developed a unique ability to work together with humans.

One aspect of this is their willingness to “ask for help” when faced with a problem that seems to be too difficult.

However, there are large differences in the willingness to ask for help and to collaborate with humans, between breeds and between dogs of the same breed, according to the researchers.

This ability is associated with variations in sensitivity for the hormone oxytocin — known to play a role in social relationships between individuals.

The effect of oxytocin depends on the function of the structure that it binds to, the receptor, in the cell, the researchers said.

“Oxytocin is extremely important in the social interactions between people. And we also have similar variations in genes in this hormone system,” said Per Jensen, Professor at the Linkoping University, Sweden.

“Studying dog behaviour can help us understand ourselves, and may in the long term contribute to knowledge about various disturbances in social functioning,” Jensen added.

ALSO READ: Dogs can recognize human emotions: Research

For the study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, the team examined 60 golden retrievers whose levels of oxytocin in the blood was increased by spraying the hormone into their nose.

The results showed that some dogs with a particular genetic variant are more sensitive to the hormone oxytocin, making them more likely to seek help from their owners.

These results help us understand how dogs have changed during the process of domestication.

Analysing DNA from 21 wolves, the researchers found the same genetic variation among them.

This suggests that the genetic variation was already present when domestication of the dogs started 15,000 years ago.

(IANS)

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World Food India 2017: Netherlands to Participate as the ‘Focus Country’

To promote the grand event, Harsimrat Kaur Badal was in the Netherlands

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World Food India 2017. Facebook
  • The World Food India 2017 is to be organized in Delhi from the 3rd to 5th November
  • Netherlands has recently announced itself participating as the ‘focus country.’ 
  • India and Netherland have good bilateral ties, and this is another significant step forward

August 26, 2017: The World Food India 2017 will be organized from 3rd to 5th November in New Delhi. On Wednesday, Netherlands declared that it wishes to participate as a ‘focus country.’

Martijn van Dam, Netherlands’ Minister of Agriculture, expressed the decision of Netherlands to be the ‘Focus Country’ at the 2017 World Food India to the Minister of Food Processing Harsimran Kaur Badal.

Also Read: Dorset Indian Mela: Indian food festival on August 26 in the UK to Showcase different varieties of Cuisine and Culture

A business, as well as official delegation, will be sent by Netherlands for the event organized in the capital of India.

To promote the grand event, Harsimrat Kaur Badal was in the Hague, Netherlands.

The objective of the World Food India 2017 is to explain the policy environment of India to the global food industry. It further seeks to establish India as a major player in the global industry and provide investment platforms.

Netherlands, being the ‘focus country’ at the event, will get to showcase its expertise and knowledge about the food processing sector. This will include seminars through the country.

Harsimrat Kau badal speaking to ANI, stated, “World Food India welcomes The Netherlands as Focus Country and hopes that participation from The Netherlands will help businesses from both sides to leverage each other’s strengths for mutual benefit.” She also highlighted that good bilateral relationship exists between India and Netherlands and this is another step forward.

Netherlands has invested close to US $6 billion into India in the last couple of years. India is also doing good business with over 200 companies from Netherlands. However, there is still so much more potential of development.


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US President Donald Trump’s Tough Stand Against Pakistan and more Highlights from his Speech

Donald Trump on wanting cooperation from India for reconstruction of Afghanistan

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US President Donald Trump during speech
US President Donald Trump during speech. Wikimedia
  • We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America
  • The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw
  • We have been paying Pakistan  billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting

Virginia, USA, August 23, 2017: US President Donald Trump in his speech at Arlington, Virginia on August 21, 2017, divulged details on his new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. He made it clear in his speech that American troops will continue to fight the war between US and Afghanistan, the longest war in US history which has been continuing for 17 years.

Trump made it a point to announce that he’s not just rearranging the Afghanistan policy. He also spoke against Pakistan and criticized them for harboring the terrorists and said that the US would want India’s help and contribution to restore the stability of Afghanistan.

Trump said, “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.”

Trump listed out the factors that would lead to a change in Afghanistan and South Asia policy in the coming years:

  • Donald Trump criticized Barack Obama
    Trump, many times during his presidential campaign has criticized former US President Barack Obama “for announcing a date by which American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan.” He said that it allowed Taliban and others like them to reassemble and lay waiting for them to do so.
  • The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw. Though it seems like a wise decision, it also means that the US troops are likely to be in Afghanistan for few more years, by taking into consideration how long this war has continued. The US President stressed upon, “A shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.”

ALSO READ: US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

  • Trump talked of a successful outcome

America will focus on their interests first, Donald Trump said, “The integration of all instruments of American power – diplomatic, economic, and military – toward a successful outcome.”  Trump said that America has spent a lot of time, money and soldier’s lives to try and rebuild countries in its own image. He expressed that a future political solution in Afghanistan might even include the Taliban, but it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take that decision. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said.

  • On Pakistan

Trump said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat.” Trump made some strong remarks about Pakistan, a country that has apparently been an American ally for decades, but was also often accused of taking funds from USA and using them to “take part in an arms race with India”, instead of using that money to fight the terror organizations which were often nurtured by them. Trump said, “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”

  • On wanting cooperation from India

Donald Trump then talked about India and said: “Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India – the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States.  We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.  We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”

Trump called for India’s helping hand- He wants India to play a much larger role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, particularly in the areas like development and economic assistance. This came as positive news to New Delhi, and the Ministry of External Affairs was ready to welcome the statement with open arms. The spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs said “We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists. India shares these concerns and objectives.”

ALSO READ: US President Donald Trump Needs to Do Better than Tweeting, to Deal with North Korea

But Donald Trump’s framing of the issue has a problem in it – this seems transactional (like a business deal) and the narrative put forward by the US President saying that Afghan reconstruction is mainly an American effort only. Trump said, “But India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States,” he said this as if he wants to say that this should be the reason due to which New Delhi should do what Washington asks from it. Though India’s trade relations with the US shouldn’t be the reason for which India would take a bigger role in Afghanistan reconstruction. Instead, it is because of India’s personal interests in wanting to see Afghanistan as a stable, peaceful and terror-free region which leads it to move in the direction of forming a partnership with Kabul. Journalist Bobby Ghosh said, “One of the strengths of India’s involvement in Afghanistan is that it is seen unambiguously as Indian involvement.”

The real hindrance to a much larger involvement of India in Afghanistan is the danger of Pakistan taking revenge and they have been more than willing to use their weapons of terror against India in the past. This is where Trump’s strict stand on Pakistan is welcome and much needed.hat we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.

What we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.


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