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To celebrate Diversity, Centre is hunting for Curators to design India’s First Museum on Indian Diaspora at Chanakyapuri in Delhi

India’s annual jamboree has been selected as the ideal occasion for the announcement of the museum for the diaspora

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A museum will come up in Chanakyapuri to ceebrate Indian diaspora
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrating Indian diversity via museum. VOA

New Delhi, Dec 31, 2016: Over the years many communities have made India their homeland. To celebrate this diversity the Narendra Modi government is hunting for curators to design and build India’s first museum on the Indian diaspora.

Successive Indian governments have faced huge criticisms from section of diaspora that New Delhi hasn’t appreciated enough their efforts in spreading India’s soft power globally, senior officials told The Telegraph. This museum is an effort to subvert this criticism.

The trials and suffering that generations of Indian emigrants weathered before achieving success in their respective countries will be displayed in here- and even their efforts in keeping alive for centuries, India’s cultural traditions and languages in foreign lands.

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India’s annual jamboree has been selected as the ideal occasion for the announcement of the museum for the diaspora, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, in Bangalore on January 9.

Indian diaspora is the second largest with 27 million, while China is having around 50 million-strong oversees population. This estimate was last updated by the government earlier this year. The Mexican diaspora – around 14 million, mostly in the US – ranks third in size.

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In an era where political leaders on extreme Right are stocking the rising anti-immigrant sentiments in US and Europe. The plan to honor and celebrate the Indian diaspora comes in with a new vigor.

“The museum shall showcase the historical evolution of the diaspora in various parts of the world,” a note on the museum initiative prepared by the ministry of external affairs said. “The museum shall also symbolize various achievements of the diaspora based on their aspirations while maintaining their cultural identity and civilizational ethos in and around the world.”

A newly constructed four-storey building in Chanakyapuri, considered as the capital’s diplomatic enclave is selected as the location for the museum. It will be called Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra. The Kendra was built as a complex of conference halls, restaurants, a banquet hall, lounges and a library. It was formally declared open earlier this year – its construction had started in 2011 under the then Manmohan Singh government.

The museum would be on the first floor of the building, in a wide and open area, with space dedicated to permanent exhibits and to temporary exhibitions. Mahatma Gandhi’s journey as an Indian who lived for years abroad will feature prominently in the museum – as will a depiction of the history of migration of Indians over the past two centuries.

According to the officials the museum will also have a more contemporary edge. It will capture the achievements of persons of Indian origin across the world and the experiences of the Indian diaspora in different countries – including those like Fiji and Uganda from where they once had to flee.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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Sambhar Lake Becomes Death Bed for Large Number of Birds

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication

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Sambhar Lake
After witnessing drought for many years, this year the Sambhar Lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity. Pixabay

A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. The result came a few days back: thousands of birds were seen floating dead in the lake and their carcasses scattered on the edge of the 12 km catchment area.

The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds.

Harsh Vardhan, a renowned environmentalist, told IANS that no forest department official has ever been appointed to look after the lake. The lake comes under the Hindustan Salt Limited, a public limited enterprise formed in the post independence era to manufacture salt. Its job is to manufacture salt. So who should look after the lake; this has never been decided, he said.

The lake has not been handed to the forest department, and the area, where birds come, is no one’s land. Sambhar lake may be a part of the Hindustan Salt Ltd, but the company has nothing to do with the birds, he says.

The chief wildlife warden Arindam Tomar has maintained silence over the issue.

Even, Principal secretary, forest and environment Shreya Guha has washed her hands off the issue. All that she did was to a give statement that the Jaipur and Nagaur District Collectors have been asked to remove the bodies. She added that 4,800 birds have been dead till date, which is disputed by experts like Harsh Vardhan, who say that counting is not easy in the vast area.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday held a meeting on the issue.

Sambhar Lake
A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar Lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. Pixabay

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan questioned the presence of several private salt miners and entrepreneurs, who have set shops in and around the lake. “They dig tube wells which suck water from the land making it parched. The remaining water gets evaporated leaving crystal of salts which are packed and sold in gunny bags,” he said.

Lack of water and drought has haunted Sambhar lake for years. State government has been spending huge money to woo tourists through activities like mobiking, balloning, race, Bollywood shoots, etc. A resort on the rim of the lake showcases salt manufacturing for the tourists. Crores of Rupees have been spent on the upkeep of the narrow gauge train and watch stations, but birds and conversation issues were always overlooked.

As Sambhar lake went dry, concentration of salt deposits came up within it. The water from surrounding rivers, meant to flow into the lake, was diverted by the miners.

After witnessing drought for many years, this year the lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity.

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication, Vardhan said.

It seems birds which came in high numbers due to high water quantity this season died due to hypernectermia after consuming their feed which is the planktons, the microrganisms found in water.

Sambhar Lake
The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake i.e Sambhar Lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds. Wikimedia Commons

The only step that has ever been taken by any government in the state was in 1981 when it was decided to designate the site as wetland and was renamed as the Ramsar site.

According to an estimate, around 60,000 birds visited the lake in a year which has come down to less than 20,000.

Vardhan says that if the lake remains with the Hindustan Salt Limited, which has been a loss making unit since years or if it is handed over to the private operators, who do excessive mining of water, then the lake and the birds are sure to die.

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Experts like him want the lake to be handed over to the forest department which can develop it as a wetland. (IANS)