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#Stop Antiquities Theft: If Israel can do, so can India

Apart from drugs and guns, theft of antiquities is the third most profitable business.

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Artifacts at The National Museum in New Delhi. Image source: Wikipedia

To stop the blight of antiquities theft in Israel, Antiquities Authority has made a new rule for the antiquities dealers. The registered dealers need to register their artifacts in a digital database so that theft of antiquities can be avoided in Israel.

The new rule has come into effect from March 28, 2016, but many dealers have pleaded the High Court of Justice to stop the regulation as they fear, many will drop out of the business. But, for other antiquities dealers this is a good way to close the loopholes.

In India, the scenario is different. To counter illicit trading, government can start with, simple things, such as an integrated database of existing and stolen artifacts hardly exist. Providing sufficient information regarding theft cases has been a struggle. For instance, a question was raised in Parliament in 2010 about the number of antiquities stolen; the government provided a list of 13 thefts that occurred between 2007 and 2010. The list did not include that of Subhash Kapoor, an international antiquities dealer currently in prison for his alleged involvement in the theft of 18 idols from Tamil Nadu. The number of thefts reported also appears too few to be true, reported The Hindu.

The rule started in Israel is quite organized as it legally binds the antiquities dealers so that any sort of crimes can be avoided. The dealer must photograph, register and detail all items in their storerooms and upload them to the IAA’s network. All purchases and sales done are to be placed through the registry for approval by the IAA. Once these procedures are taken care of, an object is digitally transferred from a dealer’s inventory to the buyer’s. As a result, black marketing of antiquities can be countered and checked from time to time.

Related article: Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland made artifacts from imported material, says a study

Head of the IAA’s Robbery Prevention Division, Amir Ganor said, there were 57 licensed antiquities dealers who registered their inventories to the system in the end of 2015. 15 other dealers have started early 2016 but there are quite a few who refused to abide by the rule.

Looted art. Image source: Wikipedia
Looted art (Nazi storage of looted objects). Image source: Wikipedia

The problem is “Looters illegally excavated items, which enter well-organized networks of trade allowing them to be laundered along the way, only to be sold to unsuspecting tourists and collectors with a clean bill of sale in a state-sanctioned shop,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ll stop their operations, but we’ll work to carry out enforcement operations against them,” Ganor added firmly.

In March, the IAA called on Israelis to volunteer a few hours a month to help protect Israel’s 30,000 archaeological sites from looters and vandals. In the month and a half since the initiative was made public, over 180 people have registered, Ganor said. “If we can manage to harness the public to be our eyes in the field, we could better protect antiquities sites,” he added.

On the other hand, the poor documentation and research of existing and stolen artifacts, outdated laws, and incompetent investigative agencies are responsible for deplorable India’s past in preserving its antiquities.

The international black market for antiquities has drawn worldwide attention in recent years, in part because the Islamic State finances some of its operations by selling plundered artifacts from Iraq and Syria.

Apart from drugs and guns, theft of antiquities is the third most profitable business. Germany is interested in adopting a system similar to the IAA’s as part of a broader international effort to quash illegal antiquities sales. Only time will tell whether the archaeologically rich India can do the same and counter illicit trading. (inputs from timesofisrael.com)

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80% Cases of COVID-19 in India Exhibit Nil or Mild Symptoms: Health Minister

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says that nearly 80% of COVID cases in India are asymptomatic

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Harsh-Vardhan Symptoms
Health MinisterHarsh Vardhan said that almost 80% COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. Wikimedia Commons

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said almost 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in India are asymptomatic or at best with very mild symptoms, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

In an exclusive interview to IANS, the Health Minister said, “Even today, in almost 80 per cent of the cases of COVID-19, which are being reported in India, the patients tend to exhibit either nil or mild symptoms. These patients are mostly contacts of confirmed cases. Interestingly, had it not been for our contact tracing efforts, and if left to their own in isolation, these patients may not have even remembered or reported their infection.”

Harsh Vardhan, who has recently been elected the chief of WHO’s Executive Board, was answering a query on whether asymptomatic patients who are potential virus carriers and who can take the virus deeper into rural India are causing worry to the government.

He said, “I am aware about WHO’s mention of some laboratory-confirmed cases that are truly asymptomatic. It is equally true, that as on date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission.”

However, he added that recently, more symptoms like headache, muscle pain, pink eye, loss of smell, or loss of taste, intense chills, rigors and sore throat have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States. “It will require more studies before these symptoms are finally included in our list in India,” he quipped.

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Recently, more symptoms like headache have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms. Pixabay

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He added that the new symptoms were very subjective and vague which might go unnoticed, might not be remembered by the patient and, thus, might even go unreported. “Moreover, if for a moment we talk of testing such asymptotic patients, identification of all these asymptomatic cases will require repeated testing of 1.3 billion population which is a resource expensive exercise for any country and is neither possible nor recommended,” the Health Minister said.

He emphasized on priority-based and targeted testing and said that it will be helpful in detecting more cases of COVID-19 and curbing the disease. “With our efforts at sustained and quality assured scaling up of the testing facilities, I am sure, we shall be better placed for maximum case detection,” he concluded. (IANS)

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Delhi Govt Issues Advisory for Spraying Pesticides to Deal With Locust Attack

Delhi government will also run awareness programmes regarding the same threat

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The threat of locusts is increasing in North India. Pixabay

To deal with the attack of locusts in the national capital, the Delhi government has issued an advisory for spraying pesticides, Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday.

Rai said in view of the increasing threat of locusts in north India, the Agriculture Department of the Delhi government will run awareness programmes to make the people and farmers of Delhi aware of this new threat.

“Also, the Delhi Government has issued advisory on spraying pesticides and its quantity,” Rai tweeted.

The circular was issued in order to prevent a probable attack in Delhi by a swarm of locusts, which are reportedly present in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“All concerned authorities are hereby advised to take preventive measures to control and eradicate the locusts to avoid devastating effect on standing agricultural and horticultural crops, vegetation, plants, gardens, orchard etc. in Delhi,” the circular said.

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“Also, the Delhi Government has issued advisory on spraying pesticides and its quantity,” Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai tweeted. Wikimedia Commons

It directed that awareness programmes be organised for the public and farmers to prevent and control any such invasion by locusts in Delhi.

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“As the swarm usually fly in day time, and rest during night time therefore the locusts should not be allowed to rest especially during night,” it said.

The circular added that the authorities may carry out spraying of insecticides or pesticides during the night.

The chemicals suggested for spraying were Malathion 50% EC; Malathion 25% WP; Chlorpyrifos 20 % EC; and Chlorpyrifos 50 % EC. (IANS)

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Haryana Govt Imposes Fine for Spitting in Public and Not Wearing Mask

A fine of Rs. 500 will be imposed on anyone seen breaking the norms

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"Now there is provision of imposing fine for spitting and not wearing mask in public places," Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij told the media. Wikimedia Commons

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said the state had made a provision of imposing a fine of Rs 500 each on people for not wearing masks and spitting in public places as per Latest news on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Now there is provision of imposing fine for spitting and not wearing mask in public places,” he told the media.

He said it was the priority of the government to contain the virus. For this, the rules have been framed and a notification would be issued on Wednesday itself.

Vij, who also holds a health portfolio, said state four districts — Gurugram, Sonepat, Faridabad and Jhahhar — located in the NCR have been worst-affected districts.

In Gurugram and Faridabad, 33 and 22 new cases, respectively, were reported on Tuesday.

He said in the state the virus doubling rate is 19 days, recovery rate is 66 per cent and the testing rate is 4,000 per million.

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Anyone seen without a mask will be fined in Haryana. Pixabay

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“If we leave four districts located in the NCR and the cases related to the Tablighi Jamaat, Haryana will be the number one state in the country to contain the virus,” he said, adding, “still we are in a better position”.

The minister said 12 positive cases relating to frontline policemen were reported from Jhajjar on Tuesday.

He said he issued directions to provide and make it mandatory for the policemen on duty to don gloves, masks and other safety gear. (IANS)