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Pakistan and India Revive Talks on Indian Hydropower Plants after a gap of 2 Years

Pakistan believes the planned Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar power generation facilities violate the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, or IWT, and could disrupt water flow into Pakistan

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Labors walk on a bridge near the new 450-megawatt hydropower project located at Baglihar Dam on the Chenab river which flows from Indian Kashmir into Pakistan, Oct. 10, 2008. VOA

Pakistan and India, after a gap of nearly two years, have revived talks on a World Bank-mediated treaty that regulates sharing of the Indus river and its tributaries between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The two-day meeting of the Indus Water Commission began Monday in Islamabad and officials said the discussions focused on designs of three controversial hydropower projects India plans to build on the Chenab River.

Pakistan believes the planned Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar power generation facilities violate the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, or IWT, and could disrupt water flow into Pakistan.

Eighty percent of Pakistan’s agricultural land is irrigated, and this irrigation depends on rivers flowing into the country from India.

Ducks gather on the dry portion of Ravi river in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Under the Indus Water Treaty, India has exclusive rights to three Indus basin rivers, including the Ravi, which has virtually disappeared on the Pakistani side. VOA

India’s participation in talks welcomed

Pakistani Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif welcomed the Indian decision to attend the talks and said he hoped the meeting would help resolve bilateral issues under the IWT framework. He said that settling disputes under the historic treaty would serve interests of both India and Pakistan.

The minister said that flood data supplied by India and tour programs of inspection, as well as meetings by Pakistan and India to the sites of interest in the Indus Basin, are also on the agenda of the talks.

The last meeting of the commission took place in May 2015, but a spike in political and military tensions prevented the two sides from holding the usually-annual meeting in 2016.

Last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to revoke the 57-year-old Indus Water Treaty. The bilateral treaty assigns the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers to India, and the Chenab, Jehlum, and Sindh rivers to Pakistan.

Modi suggested that the sharing of water resources could be conditional on Pakistan preventing militants from undertaking cross-border terrorist attacks in India and divided Kashmir.

Islamabad, which denies Indian terror charges, condemned Modi’s statement and warned such a move would be viewed as an act of war.

Very little water flows in the Ravi River in Lahore, Pakistan, Dec. 14, 2016. Under the Indus Water Treaty, India has exclusive rights to three Indus basin rivers, VOA

Pakistan’s objections ignored

New Delhi also recently intensified work on proposed power station projects on rivers in Kashmir flowing into Pakistan, ignoring objections from Islamabad and warnings these projects will deprive the country of its due share of water.

While India has resumed talks with Pakistan on water-related issues, it has refused to resume a wide-ranging bilateral dialogue aimed at normalizing political ties and finding solutions to outstanding disputes, including Kashmir. New Delhi continues to cite Islamabad’s lack of action against anti-Indian militants.

The two countries have been locked in military skirmishes across the Kashmir border in recent months, raising fears of another war between India and Pakistan. (VOA)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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