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By Harshmeet Singh
When Anna Hazare sat on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in 2011, millions across the nation took to the streets. While his strike ended after 12 days, only a few realized that somewhere in the north-eastern state of Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila, “the world’s longest hunger striker” had completed close to 11 years without eating or drinking.
Over the past decade or so, Irom Sharmila has been in news several times, mostly due to her frequent arrests on the grounds of “attempted suicide” and her release on the orders of the court.
What is she fighting against?
On 2nd November 2000, soldiers from Assam Rifles allegedly shot dead 10 civilians waiting at the bus stand in Malom, Manipur. At the heart of episode was AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) which gave special powers to the Indian Armed Forced in the ‘disturbed areas’ of the country. Sharmila took this as an atrocity on the north east people and began her hunger strike, demanding complete revocation of AFSPA.
Within 3 days of her hunger strike, Sharmila was arrested on the charges of ‘attempted suicide’ and sent to judicial custody by the court. 14 years hence, she still remains in judicial custody and lives at Imphal’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital where she is forcibly nose-fed.
AFSPA and its implications
‘Malom killings’ was just one of the many infamous incidents covered under the blanket of AFSPA. While the law and order condition in Manipur still remains edgy to say the least, the debates over the effectiveness of AFSPA and its aim of restoring peace in disturbed areas still remains questionable.
The recent killing of 2 Kashmiri youth in Budgam was another blatant abuse of AFSPA. “We take responsibility for the death of the two boys in Kashmir. We admit that a mistake was made. There was some information about a white car with terrorists. Obviously, the identity was mistaken in this case,” was all that the Army had to say.
There is no denying that the Indian Army needs all the powers for fighting against the deadly militants. But at the same time, the fact remains that unchecked powers can corrupt even the most pious ones.
Before the national elections of 2014, she was offered a ticket from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Congress but she denied the offers saying that “Though I support AAP, I rejected the offer as I’m just a protester not a politician. If I am allowed to vote, I will cast my vote in favour of the AAP which I am confident will restore the rule of democracy”.
She was denied the right to vote after she had expressed her desire to cast a vote in 2014. “I never voted as I had lost faith in democracy, but the rise of the new anti-corruption party, Aam Aadmi Party, changed my thinking,” she said. The response from the Election Commission read, “Under Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a person confined in jail cannot vote.”
International reactions on Sharmila
Sharmila has been declared as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ by the Amnesty International, implying that she “is being held solely for a peaceful expression of her beliefs”. The Asian Human Rights Commission gave her a lifetime achievement award in the year 2010. One of the polls voted her as the ‘top woman icon of India’ on International Women’s Day 2014.
The lady recently announced that she won’t accept any further awards since her aim is to see ASFPA getting repealed completely and not collecting awards.
Her legal battle
Sharmila’s legal battle against the authorities still remains. She currently faces the charge of ‘attempt to suicide’, which she vehemently opposes. Against the one year maximum imprisonment, if the charges are proven, she has spent more than 6 years in imprisonment. If she pleads guilty, the case would be closed and she would be relieved since has already spent her ‘sentence’ in the prison. But for Irom Sharmila, compromising was never an option.
The lady has not seen her mother ever since she began her fast as she fears that the emotional outburst would break her down. “The day AFSPA is repealed I will eat rice from my mother’s hand,” says the Iron Lady of Manipur.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)