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Bhubaneswar: Despite crores of rupees being claimed to have been spent by the Odisha government over the last few decades for the socio-economic uplift of the endangered Bonda tribe, one of India’s most primitive tribal groups, tangible development still eludes them.
Known for their unique culture and traditions, the tribals, divided into two groups -Lower Bonda and Upper Bonda – are till today found semi-nude and perched upon hilly terrain in remote pockets of southern Odisha’s Malkangiri district bordering Andhra Pradesh.
Even though the 2011 census has put their population at about 12,000 from 2,565 in the 1941 census, they still reside in 30 villages in the hilly areas spread over 130 sq km of forests and nearly 4,000 ft above the sea level in Khairput Block of Malkangiri. They numbered 9,378 in the 2001 census.
They have their own ‘Remo’ language – sans a script – which belongs to the Mundari group of languages, while researchers believe them to be members of the Austro-Asiatic language family.
While modern civilization has not changed the Bondas very much, they have comparatively preserved themselves unaffected by the march of civilization and still maintain their primitive social customs and traditions.
With superstitions reigning supreme, unique practices of middle-aged women marrying teenagers, half their age, are still prevalent among the communities, said an official.
However, despite several attempts by the Bonda Development Agency (BDA) – set up by the Odisha government for their development in 1977 – they are yet to be part of the mainstream even as some have accepted the changing systems in society and taking access to education.
“The plans and schemes being implemented by the government should be people-friendly and cater to the exact needs of the local people. The administration should take the tribes into confidence instead of drawing up plans in the (state) capital,” Dambaru Sisa, the first legislator from the Bonda tribe, told IANS.
He said the officials at the helm of uplifting the socio-economic condition of the tribe should concentrate on sustainable livelihood and better connectivity in the area.
The state government however claimed that it is taking adequate steps to bring them into mainstream while preserving their very own tradition and culture.
“They would gradually change and be part of society. They have their own tradition and culture and we have to look their comfort. It would take time,” SC/ST development secretary Surendra Kumar told IANS.
He said the government has recently decided to spend nearly Rs 800 crore to secure improved livelihood, food and nutrition security for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).
The programme, to be implemented in the next five years in all 17 micro-project areas located in 12 tribal-dominated districts of the state, would enable improved livelihood, food and nutrition security for 32,091 PVTG households, 13,965 STs, 5,486 SCs and 10,814 other category people living in 542 villages.
The Bonda tribes are getting assistance under Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub Plan (TSP).
They have received Rs 162.58 lakh in 2010-11 under the plan, Rs 146.16 lakh in 2011-12 and Rs 281.65 lakh in 2012-13, said a report of the SC/ST development department.
Similarly, they received Rs 171.04 lakh in 2013-14 and Rs 195.43 lakh in 2014-15. In the current financial year, the tribes received Rs 177.94 lakh, the report added.
According to government sources, 13 PVTGs out of 75 such identified in India live in Odisha. They mostly live in 542 habitations spread across 20 blocks of 12 districts. These tribes are Boihor, Mankidia, Hill Khadia, Juanga, Lodha, Paudibhuyan, Soura, Kutia Kondha, Dongaria Kondha, Lanjia Soura, Bonda, Diyadi and Chuktia Bhunjia.
(Chinmaya Dehuri, IANS)
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