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Lucknow: The image of the Chambal ravines in Uttar Pradesh, so far portrayed the world over as the backyard of horse-mounted and gun-wielding dacoits, is set to turn a new leaf this December as the the rat-a-tat of bullets, as seen in many Bollywood flicks is set to be replaced by the soothing chirps of birds of various hues.
This, as the ravines are set to be host to over 75 domestic and international wildlife experts, photographers and eminent bird watchers between December 4-6 at the country’s first Bird Festival. Sources told IANS that the event of this magnitude has never been held in India before and has been conceived on the lines of the British Bird Fair held in England every year in the third week of August.
Organizers say that from now on, this event would be an annual affair and after the inaugural edition at the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, would next year be hosted in the Terai region, which is rich in bio-diversity with Katrania Ghat, Dudhwa National Park and other wetlands and water bodies that are home to hundreds of bird species.
Ram Pratap Singh, a member of the Uttar Pradesh tourism and wildlife boards, said that the state was home to more than 500 species of birds – almost half the country’s total – and hence was ideal for hosting such an event.
“The idea behind the event is two pronged – first is to sensitize people of the rich bio-diversity in the state and second to popularize bird watching tourism which has picked up in a big way across the globe,” Ram Pratap Singh told IANS.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has confirmed his participation in the high-profile event, which he will inaugurate and release a book, “Birds of UP”, principal secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal told IANS, adding that the chief minister had also asked his department, along with the forest department, to extensively publicize the do so that people are bonded to wildlife.
Other than the experts, around 100 schoolchildren from nearby institutions in Agra, Etawah, Firozabad, Mainpuri and Shikohabad would attend the event every day and take part in debates, art competitions and other event-related activities.
“The idea is to expose young minds to wildlife conservation and inculcate love and passion for bird watching,” an organizer informed.
The experts, among them Tim Inskipp, Carol Inskipp, Pamela Rasmussen, Tim Appleton, Per Alstrom, Bano Haralu, Paul Donald, Gopi Sundar, Jackie Garner and Pete Marshall, would stay at the National Chambal Sanctuary in specially pitched tents for three days.
“This is a large enterprise and has received an overwhelming response from wildlife enthusiasts,” Nikhil Devasar, an advisor to the event, told IANS, adding that air tickets for experts from across the globe have been booked.
There will be talks by prominent ornithologist from around the globe. Workshops by professional photographers and art shows by renowned artists, as also a bird ringing station.
Early mornings would be for birdwatching in the nearby forest or boat safaris on the Chambal river followed by talks and workshops during the day.
It has also been proposed that as the event kick-starts, district magistrates and district forest officers (DFOs) across the state hold bird-watching camps at which footffalls of 15,000 to 20,000 are expected.
“The idea is to spread the goodwill and interest for bird watching,” Ram Pratap Singh mused.
Happy bird watching!
(Mohit Dubey, IANS)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
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As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.