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Patna,A drought-like situation in Bihar is a serious issue for millions of farmers, but not for the politicians, including the main contenders in the electoral stakes — Janata Dal-United (JDU), Rashtriya Janada Dal (RJD), Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA).
For them a ‘swabhiman’ (self-respect) and ‘parivartan’ (change) are more important slogans than poor rainfall. That farmers are suffering from a 31 percent deficient monsoons, leading to a drought-like situation in the state, has had no impoact on the political discourse.
Ahead of state assembly polls in October-November, political leaders and their supporters have not shown any sympathy for the plight of the poorest of poor farmers even as the political temperature starts heating up.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the star campaigner of NDA, addressed two public meetings in Muzaffarpur on July 25 and Gaya on August 9 but he did not mention anything on the near-drought situation in Bihar. His main plank was urging people to bring about a change in the state by questioning the “political DNA” of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Neither BJP president Amit Shah, who launched ‘parivartan raths’ nor the several union ministers, including those from Bihar, who launched parivartan yatra from four places expressed their concerns on the farmers’ woes.
The allies of BJP like Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party or the Hindustan Awami Morcha have also been silent on the issue.
Nitish Kumar and his new ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, have raised the decibel on pride of bihar by vehemently objecting to Modi’s remark on DNA of Nitish Kumar as being an “insult to Bihar.”
Nitish Kumar’s JD-U has launched a shabd-wapsi (take back your word) campaign to collect signatures and samples of 50 lakh people in Bihar to send them to Modi for a DNA test as a protest. Lalu has been showing more concern for caste census data to be made public.
In a ritualistic way, the state government has announced an increase in diesel subsidy for farmers directing the energy department to provide six to eight hours of uninterrupted power in rural areas.
A K. Sen, an official with the meteorological department in Patna said the situation in the state was “alarming” due to a deficient rainfall.”At present,overall rainfall deficit in Bihar is 31 percent. But the situation is alarming in 26 of 38 districts of the state where the deficit is more than 50 percent, Sen told IANS.
According to officials records,nearly two-thirds of Bihar’s population of 10.5 crore are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Nearly two-thirds of agricultural activities in the state are dependent on rain.
Poor rainfall till date has affected paddy sowing and plantation, triggering fears of another drought, an official of the state disaster management department, who did not want to be named, said.
Reports received here say that unlike in the past, there is no water for irrigation in the canals. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river through canals.
Even the water table in parts of central and south Bihar has gone down to alarming levels due to a poor monsoon.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority said Tuesday that a diver swimming in the Mediterranean Sea has recovered a large sword that experts believe to be about 900 years old, dating back to the Crusades.
The antiquities authority's Director of Marine Archaeology, Kobi Sharvit, said the amateur diver was swimming about 150 meters offshore near the Israeli port of Haifa a few days ago when he spotted the sword lying on the ocean floor, four to five meters below the surface.
Sharvit said the diver recovered the sword and immediately took it to the antiquities authority. Sharvit said the sword -- encrusted with marine organisms when discovered –is the most complete and well preserved he has seen in 31 years. He described the sword as large, heavy and made of iron.
He added that the one-meter-long blade, hilt and handle were distinctive and highly noticeable after undercurrents apparently shifted sands that had concealed it.
Sharvit said because the sword was found in a cove, not far from the Crusader castle of Atlit on the northern coast of Israel, it is being assumed the sword belonged to a solder in the Crusades.
The Crusades were a series of medieval European Christian-led military expeditions to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.
Sharvit said that from an historical perspective, the handle of the sword may be the most important part of the weapon as that is where decorations, and perhaps, even names or initials are often found that will help identify the sword.
He said once it cleaned, examined, and restored, the antiquities authority will put the sword on display. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Crusader sword, Israel, Antiquity, Castle of Atlit
Facebook must pay a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million in back pay to eligible victims who say the company discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreign ones, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The discrimination took place from at least January 1, 2018, until at least September 18, 2019.
The Justice Department said Facebook "routinely refused" to recruit or consider U.S. workers, including U.S. citizens and nationals, asylees, refugees and lawful permanent residents, in favor of temporary visa holders. Facebook also helped the visa holders get their green cards, which allowed them to work permanently
In a separate settlement, the company also agreed to train its employees in anti-discrimination rules and conduct wider searches to fill jobs.
The fines and back pay are the largest civil awards ever given by the DOJ's civil rights division in its 35-year history.
"Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation's civil rights laws," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in a telephone conference.
"While we strongly believe we met the federal government's standards in our permanent labor certification [PERM] practices, we've reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program, which is an important part of our overall immigration program," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Facebook, Employment, Justice Dept., Recruitment
Tomatoes are a staple in the Indian diet, be it a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian dish. It has to be a part of each meal in some form. As puree, paste, flavour, or diced into the dal. This tangy, sweet, and juicy ingredient was not always Indian. In fact, it did not even grow in India until the British sanctioned it. It is a product of colonization and has come a long way to become part of our everyday meals.
Originally, the tomato was considered poison. Its actual native is debatable. Some say it is European while others argue that is came from indigenous parts of Spain and Portugal. Either way, it is a plant species that is associated with the legendary Nightshade. It looks very similar to this poisonous plant that tomatoes were not even harvested for a long time, for fear of picking Nightshade instead. It was believed that Nightshade caused the blood to turn to acid and that tomatoes had the same property. Later research proved that the plant itself may be poisonous but the fruit is not.
The fruit if the woody nightshade plant Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Tomato is considered a fruit instead of a vegetable because it is cooked. But this theory has an interesting tale behind it. in the United States, in 1887, a tax was levied on the transport of vegetables, but not on fruits. By then, tomatoes had become a huge part of the American diet and traders could not afford to pay the ten percent duty. So, they began to call the large loads they transported fruits, just to avoid the tax due. In time, this is how the tomato came to be regarded. Some scientists went even further and stated that it is a berry. Botanists claim that since it is a part that grows from the flower's ovary and contains seeds, it is a fruit and not a vegetable. But this is a debate that will never end.
Incorporating tomatoes into the Indian diet must have happened so long ago that people do not remember a time without tomatoes, considering how it is the fundamental ingredient of most cuisines. The tomato has a name in every language as well, so the trading between nations, the voyages that brought them to India, and the decoding of the fruit-vegetable must have taken place far earlier than our ancestors remember. Or, perhaps we liked it so much that we decided to use it everywhere and make it our own. Nonetheless, it has been a delightful addition.
Keywords: Tomato, Fruit, Vegetable, Nightshade, Voyage, Staple