Sunday December 17, 2017

Jajmau: This is India’s 2700-year-old city which is still evolving

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By Rituparna Chakrobarty

India is one of the places in the world were history and the present overlap. There are many cities in India whose past goes back millenniums into history. One such place is Jajmau.

An ancient village, established around 2700 years ago on the banks of river Ganga, it is now a suburban part of Kanpur. Jajmau is a treasure trove for historians who can find traces of history from the era of Mauryas, Kushanas and Guptas.

Importance of Jajmau in History

Jajmau is believed to be a kingdom of Emperor Yayati. Puranas and Khands have references of Kanpur Jajmau at various instances. According to Hindu mythology, Yayati was the ancestor of Pandavas.

According to Uttar Pradesh State Archaeological Department, the excavation carried out at the Jajmau mound also yielded the remains of Mauryan dynasty like ivory seals with Vasalas inscribed in Brahmi, human figurines, animal figurines, bangles, mud bowls, terracotta statues and many other things. The artifacts have been kept in the museum for their protection and maintenance. Several copper coins from the era of 1500-1600 AD were also discovered from the excavation of the  mound.

The first excavation was done under the supervision of Madan Mohan Nagar, ex-director of Uttar Pradesh State Archaeological Department.

Ram Vinay an official of Uttar Pradesh State Archaeological Department told NewsGram, that the excavation of Jajmau not only showed the remains of Mauryan period(600BC), but also Singha period 1st Century AD, Kushana period 2nd century AD, Gupta dynasty 5-7 century AD followed by medieval
period.

In 2006, during the widening of national highway, the second excavation was done and Ram Vinay was the supervisor at that time, a salvage operation was started to document and study the archaeological
remains embedded within a portion of the mound.

During further excavations, Black and Red ware pottery was found along with a hoard of 700 silver punch-marked coins bearing images of Sun, Crescents and trees on them. Also found were terracotta wares and mud and baked bricks from Mauryan and pre-Mauryan dynasties. Charcoal finds which have been radio carbon date back to 1300-1200BC.

Some ruins have been left undisturbed to illustrate construction and layout. The gaps between the houses imply a drainage system whilst there is evidence of proper water supply to the houses. Artifacts recovered from the site are housed in Kanpur Sangrahalaya Museum.

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Jajmau: on religious ground

Situated in Jajmau is the temples of  Siddhanath and Siddha devi, that reason why it was earlier known as Siddhapuri. Besides, there is also a mausoleum of Makhdoom Shah Ala-ul-Haq. Makhdoom Shah was renowned Sufi saint, who believed in the idea of secularism and preached it all his life. In the year, 1358, Feroz Shah Tuglaq built the tomb of Makhdoom Shah Ala-ul-Haq. In 1679 AD a mosque was also built by Kulich Khan.

Jajmau today

In  the present Jajmau is one of the largest hubs of leather industries, and generates Rs.15000 crores of revenue every year. It also accounts for 30% of Indian leather export. No wonder Jajmau is widely known as ‘Leather Cluster of Kanpur’.

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10 Ayurvedic Herbs That Are A Boon to Mankind| Newsgram

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Ayurvedic herbs
Shatavari. Wikimedia

Oct 08, 2017: The supreme tradition of Ayurveda has been considered as universal and eternal. Ayurvedic herbs have been in use since the ancient times. This statement of Charaka sage (one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda in ancient India) is completely true – Life is the combination of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayurveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and world beyond. The effect of this is that even today Ayurvedic method has settled in our hearts in some form.

We hear in our everyday life that we are told to take celery when there is abdominal pain or gas. When there is cold and cough, it is said that do not drink cold water, take ginger, basil, black pepper tea. All this is part of Ayurveda directed by the elderly. After all, that time is returning now when not only the leaders of the country but people of the whole world have not only accepted Ayurvedic medicine and its authenticity but also have adopted.

Here is a list of 10 Indian Ayurvedic Herbs:

Gritkumari (Aloe Vera)

Gritkumari/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

This strange looking plant or ayurvedic herb has no end to its beneficial properties. Gritkumari or Aloe Vera helps in diabetes, uterine disease, stomach upset, joint pain, skin malfunction, acne, wrinkles, facial scars, dark circles of eyes, torn ankles. 

Shatavari (Asparagus)

Shatavari
Shatavari/Ayurvedic Herbs. Pixabay

Shatavari is called Asparagus in English and its botanical. It is a medicinal plant (one of the indian ayurvedic herbs known as “reproductive tonic”) found in India, which is used in the treatment of countless diseases. Shatavari is sometimes also translated as “she who possesses 100 husbands.” The plant is known to enhance the fertility of both male and female. It promotes lactation in women.

Bhringraj (False Daisy)

Bhringraj/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Bhringraj is considered a herb for longevity and rejuvenation. It works wonders for hair and cirrhosis. It also rejuvenates memory, teeth, bones, vision, and hearing. This plant is native to India and Southwest America.

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

Ashwagandha plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng has been very important in ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda. It is a herb that has been used for many centuries. In an effort to stay away from many types of infection, it has also been used by native Americans and Africans. This herb originated in India and it grows best in dry areas. Ashwagandha is very beneficial for those who are always feeling lazy. Laziness ends with its consumption.

Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia)

Giloy/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Giloy is known as the ‘root of immortality’. Giloy has been called Amrita due to its richness. Giloy enhances the body’s immune system and eliminates blood loss in the body. Giloy’s intake is also very beneficial in jaundice. 

Methi (Fenugreek)

Methi/Ayurvedic Herbs. Wikimedia

Fenugreek is a very famous herb and due to its unparalleled medicinal properties, it is also used in Ayurveda very popularly. Fenugreek is also found in high quantities of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. Apart from this, it also contains Vitamin B 6. Effective antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and antiviral properties are found in fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds are used for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. The seeds of fenugreek are known for a sharp flavor and fragrance.

Tulsi (Basil)

Tulsi plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

Basil not only holds religious significance but also has many health benefits. Many scientific researches confirm the properties present in Tulsi. In India, the medicinal properties of Tulsi are highly valued. Chewing leaves of Tulsi with ginger gives relief from a cough and cold. Boil the basil with tea leaves and remove a sore throat.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Bhrami/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

In addition to the intelligence, memory, Brahmi is used for many health problems. This medicine has great importance in Ayurveda. Brahmi is green and white. All parts of the Brahmi plant are useful. As far as possible, Brahmi should be used freshly. The effect of Brahmi is mainly on the mind. It is a tonic for the brain and also gives peace to it. If there is a decrease in the efficiency of the person after the strenuous work, then the use of Brahmin has a great advantage.

Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

Arjuna plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

It is a medicinal tree and is found supreme among the medicines used in cardiovascular diseases in Ayurveda. Arjun tree is being used in Ayurveda for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases since ancient times.

Tagar (Valeriana wallichii)

Tagar plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

Tagar plant is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine system for sleeping disorders. It is also known as Indian Valerian. It is used in Ayurveda, for treating brain-related disorders such as insomnia, hysteria, nervous unrest, and emotional troubles. 

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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New test by NASA Scientists to detect signs of Life on Exoplanets

The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components

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Aerial View of NASA. Wikimedia
U.S.A, Jan 30, 2017: NASA scientists have developed a new chemical assay that could aid the search for life on exoplanets by identifying the presence of amino acids, the compounds that make up proteins and are the building blocks of life.

The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components.

It was designed by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the US specifically to analyse for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth.

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The method is 10,000 times more sensitive than current methods employed by spacecraft like NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, according to researchers.

 

One of the key advantages of the new way of using capillary electrophoresis is that the process is relatively simple and easy to automate for liquid samples expected on ocean world missions.

 

It involves combining a liquid sample with a liquid reagent, followed by chemical analysis under conditions determined by the team.

 

By shining a laser across the mixture – a process known as laser-induced fluorescence detection – specific molecules can be observed moving at different speeds. They get separated based on how quickly they respond to electric fields.

 

While capillary electrophoresis has been around since the early 1980s, this is the first time it has been tailored specifically to detect extraterrestrial life on an ocean world, said Jessica Creamer, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL.

 

“Our method improves on previous attempts by increasing the number of amino acids that can be detected in a single run,” Creamer said.

 

“Additionally, it allows us to detect these amino acids at very low concentrations, even in highly salty samples, with a very simple ‘mix and analyse’ process,” she said.

 

The researchers used the technique to analyse amino acids present in the salt-rich waters of Mono Lake in California.

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The lake’s exceptionally high alkaline content makes it a challenging habitat for life, and an excellent stand-in for salty waters believed to be on Mars, or the ocean worlds of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa.

 

The researchers were able to simultaneously analyse 17 different amino acids, which they are calling “the Signature 17 standard.” These amino acids were chosen for study because they are the most commonly found on Earth or elsewhere.

 

“Using our method, we are able to tell the difference between amino acids that come from non-living sources like meteorites versus amino acids that come from living organisms,” said the project’s principal investigator, Peter Willis of JPL.

 

The study was published in the journal Analytical Chemistry. (IANS)

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Biologists unlock 51.7 million year old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory

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Primula allionii. Wikimedia.

December 6, 2016: A 51.7 million-year-old genetic secret to Charles Darwin’s theory proposed more than 150 years ago has been unlocked by scientists. The genes responsible for the reproductive traits in the Primula flower have been recognized by researchers.

Darwin suggested that certain plant species having two distinct forms of flowers, with the male and female reproductive parts of different lengths evolved in a way to perform out-crossing by insect pollinators.

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Darwin’s pioneering insight into the importance of the forms of flower called ‘pins’ and ‘thrums’ conceived the term ‘heterostyly’ and succeeding research added up to formulate the modern genetic theory.

The particular part of the species’ genetic code which defined them was identified by scientists at University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK. It was the result of an event which occurred more than 51 million years ago.

According to PTI, Professor Philip Gilmartin from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences said, “To identify the genes which control the biology noted by Darwin is an exciting moment. Many studies have been done over the past decades to explore the genetic basis of this phenomenon but now we have pinpointed the supergene directly responsible, the S locus”.

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Congregations of closely linked genes inherited as a unit together and allow the control of complex microbiology are called supergenes. The researchers worked in association with Earlham Institute in the UK to plot the Primula’s genes and sequence its genome to find the gene cluster responsible for the different flower morphs.

Gilmartin tells, “Understanding of the genetics which underpin flower development and reproduction of a species broadens our knowledge about the entire system of pollination, which underpins biodiversity and food security”.

He also said that with challenges like climatic changes and its effects on plant life and their insect pollinators, it is imperative for us to understand the mechanisms for pollination and how the species react.

Amidst the search for the controlling gene responsible for heterostyly, the researchers dated the initial mutation to 51.7 million years ago.

On finding the S locus, the researchers realized that the gene was a close relative to another one identified six years ago which is responsible for controlling the petals’ identity on a Primula flower.

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At some point, the duplication of the gene occurred and the gene entered itself in the S locus and mutated to take control over the positioning of the anther in the flower. The Nature Plants journal published the study.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram with PTI inputs. Twitter:@Shivam_Thaker.