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On 2nd of December, India observes 'National Pollution Control Day' in remembrance of the people who lost their lives in the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The incident which affected over half a million people, occurred during the night of 2nd and 3rd December 1984. The leakage of gas from the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal is considered as one of the worst industrial disasters in the world. Around half a million people were exposed to the highly toxic Methyl Isocyanate gas which resulted in some losing their lives immediately, while others suffered major injuries. The cause behind the disaster is still under debate. According to the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), it happened due to an act of sabotage.
Apart from the tragedy that happened. The day is, also, a symbol of the deteriorating state of environment. It is the need of the hour to curb and take necessary steps in order to survive. Human foot-print is turning out to be nothing but negative on the planet earth. The pollution from any human activity is not only adversely affecting the planet but no stringent measures are in place to curb the damage caused.
“Environmental pollution is a result of human activity and the development that occurs when physical, biological and chemical agents are released to the environment in such quantities that the pollution adversely affects human health and damages the environment.” The major kinds of pollution are water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution and noise pollution.
Water Pollution – Harmful chemical waste is released from factories into water bodies or rivers, which then flow and end up in seas and oceans. A lot of plastic and other waste also, end up in rivers because of littering. These affect the marine ecosystem. Fishes or other marine animals may eat and choke on them or not be able to digest them.
Fishes swimming in polluted water | Unsplash
Soil or Land Pollution – This kind of pollution is partially linked to water pollution. When the polluted water from water bodies seep into the surrounding land, it gets polluted. Littering is a major cause of soil pollution. The chemical pesticides used in agriculture at times become pollutants.
Air Pollution – Toxic fumes and harmful gases that are emitted from factories and automobiles contribute greatly to this type of pollution. The presence of chemical constituents in high amount in the air is bad for the human body. It can cause lung cancer, heart diseases, respiratory disease and neonatal disorders.
Also Read : Poor air quality in Delhi
Huge amount of polluted gases being released into the environment from a factory | Unsplash
Noise Pollution – Speakers or sound systems blaring over the decibel limit contribute to this kind of pollution. Loud noises from firecrackers are also a part of this. These affect the ability to hear, not just of humans but also other animals.
There are a lot of things that we can do to lessen the amount of pollution caused. The following are a few of them:
- Stop littering
- Use trashcans to throw away garbage
- If possible, the trash should be separated into recyclable and non-recyclable and treated accordingly
- Not waste electricity, turn off appliances and lights when not in use
- Switch to other forms of renewable energies, like the solar energy
- Use lesser amount of plastic and try to recycle whatever is absolutely necessary
- The cars should be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they do not release toxic fumes
- If possible, carpool or even better, use the public transport
- Using paper bags
- Using rechargeable batteries
Recently, a lot of brands and products are trying to be more considerate towards the environment. A particular skincare brand has started selling their products in paper tubes instead of plastic ones. Some companies are selling one-time use pens without the plastic body, the refills are instead wrapped in paper.
We have to follow the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle in order to cut down on the amount of waste that we generate.
(Keywords : Pollution, Prevention, India, Chemicals, Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Soil Pollution, Noise Pollution, Reuse, Recycle, Climate)
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Kolkata, the city of Joy, loves celebrating all the different kinds of festivities. No matter what religious or cultural group one may belong to, Christmas is also not left out. Park Street, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Bow Barracks are the main places to visit during this festival. The festivities last for a few days, starting from the Christmas eve till the 2nd of the January.
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St. Paul’s Cathedral is the place where people gather to listen to the midnight mass. Located on the Cathedral Road, it has other heritage monuments like the Victoria Memorial in the near vicinity. The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1839, and the building was completed in 1847. It is said to be the largest church in Kolkata and the first Anglican cathedral in Asia. On the Christmas eve, people go there, wait for midnight mass and also, sing Christmas Carols.
Also Read : Christmas baking starts now
St. Paul's Cathedral in Kolkata | Wikipedia
People flock to Park Street to see the lighting arrangements and Christmas decorations. Many hawkers and vendors are present there to sell toys, balloons and other objects. Some come with their family, some with their friends and they all walk through the streets viewing the decorations, taking pictures, eating food and buying things.
People walking through the carnival at Park Street | Wikipedia
Throughout the city, there is a massive sale of cakes, not the usual birthday cakes but fruit cake, plum cakes, walnut cakes etc. Not just cake shops, but even grocery stores can be seen selling cakes, such is the craze. Earlier very few brands use to make and sell cakes, but now, owing to the huge demand, numerous new brands have come up with their own line of various cakes.
‘Nahoum and Sons’ have massive queues outside their shop during the Christmas and New Year time, as people gather there to buy them. They are one of the best in the business. This nearly 120-year-old Jewish bakery is located in New Market and they also sell a lot of other old-school treats which are gradually becoming obsolete.
The other bakery which is very famous for its cake is the Saldanha Bakery. They operate out of their house. Mona Saldanha, took over her husband’s family business in the 1960s, revamped it and since then they never had to look back. The cheese puff, walnut cake and coconut macaroon sold there are very popular.
The Flurys shop at Park Street is probably their busiest outlet during the Christmas season. They also sell a huge variety of cakes and other goodies.
The best thing about Kolkata is that you can see people from different religions and different walks of lives celebrating the festival in whatever way they can. Everyone gets to have their own share of happiness.
The footfall at the carnival and the number of people out in the streets during the festivities was lesser last year, owing to the pandemic.
(Keywords : Christmas, Carnival, Kolkata, December, Winter, Choir, Cathedral, Church, Cake)
By Sudeshna Paul
The cover photo of the recent edition of the ‘Voice of Hind’ magazine had a semi-demolished statue of a Hindu deity. It looked like the 123 feet tall Lord Shiva idol at a temple in Murudeshwara, Karnataka. The temple is a very well-known place and is a major pilgrimage destination. It attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year.
The Murudeshwar Temple is located in a town with the same name, in Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Murudeshwar is another name for Lord Shiva. Located on top of the Kanduka hill, the temple is surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides. Beside the temple, there is a 123 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva. It the 2nd tallest statue of this particular deity, all across the world. Maha Shivratri is celebrated with great galore at this temple. The construction of this temple was funded by businessman and philanthropist Rama Nagappa Shetty.
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The ‘Voice of Hind’ magazine is known to be the mouthpiece of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. The image of the deity was digitally vandalized and the ISIS flag can be seen on top of the be-headed structure. It was captioned "It is Time to Break the False Gods". This had led to a big stir as it raises questions about the security of the lives and property of the people living in India. How good is our security system? Will the Government be able to protect the Temple and the statue from any kind of man-made destruction?
This incident has made the Karnataka Government increase the security around the temple premises.
Also Read : Muslims preserve Hindu temple in Kashmir
According to media outlets, this magazine " is a joint venture by the pro-ISIS media outlet Al-Qitaal Media Center and Junudul Khilafah al-Hind, can be defined as an India-centric online propaganda magazine. Launched in February 2020, it has been a regular menace, with a strong and obvious hatred for India. It canonizes the jihad terrorists of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K, or ISKP) and has made a saint of Pakistani national Huzaifa-al-Bakistani, who was a key recruiter for the Islamic State and was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan in 2019. “
Earlier this year, 3 men had been arrested from Kashmir as they were supposedly linked to a conspiracy regarding recruiting Indian muslim youths for Jihad, and were motivating them to join the ISIS. A few people, who have been suspected of translating the text of the magazine into local regional languages have also been arrested.
Statue of Lord Shiva beside the Murudeshwara temple.
Ever in earlier issues, this particular magazine had spoken about attacking India and taking revenge upon the people, hindus in particular.
According to India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) this "radical Islamic magazine is compiled by fresh graduates and translators operating from a “call centre-type setup” in Pakistan’s Karachi and Islamabad. Handlers responsible for collating the content for the ISIS mouthpiece are based in Afghanistan and India; some content creators have been recruited from Bangladesh and the Maldives as well. However, the editing of the articles, the designing of the pages, and the publishing of the final material all take place in the Pakistan-based facility only. “
I feel that the government should definitely ramp up the security of the temple and the surrounding area, as the threat has come from an enemy outside the country. But people should not use this as a reason to spread communal hatred and conflicts. Religion is a very sensitive issue and people should refrain from spreading hatred.
India being a secular country does not try to focus on any one religion in particular. The Indian Constitution grants all its citizens the Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28) as a Fundamental Right. It means that there is no official State religion, and that the state is required to treat all religions equally, impartially and neutrally. But this magazine seems to be trying to rattle India’s cohesiveness and promote religious fanaticism, which should never happen.Keywords : Hindu temples, magazine, cover, Hindu, India, god, religion, muslim, fanaticism, secular, freedom.
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By Sudeshna Paul
Swami Vivekananda belonged to an upper middle-class Bengali family in Calcutta. He was born in 1863 and was known as Narendranath Datta. Maharaj Ajit Singh of Khetri had given him the name 'Vivekananda' before he left for America to speak about Hindu spirituality.
He had become one of the chief disciples of Ramkrishna and tried to reform the society and make it a better place. Swamiji had also been a part of the Brahmo Samaj and tried to put an end to child marriage and also spread literacy.
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Along with a few other people, he tried to promote the Vedanta philosophy in the western world, mainly America and Great Britain. There were numerous places where he spoke to people through major conferences, the one at Chicago becoming the most important one. On the 11th of September 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered his iconic speech at the first World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Through his speech, he tried to introduce Americans to Hinduism. His speech is as follows,
" Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world, I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
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My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal. "
Vivekananda on the platform at the Parliament of Religions, September 1893Wikipedia
After his speech, he had been questioned about why India was being ruled by another country which is much smaller in size and follows a totally different religion, if the religious belief of the former happens to be so strong. How could the religion in question be a better way of living life when the people themselves were in servitude? This question had been asked by a missionary supporter, who was in favour of Indians being converted to Christianity. According to the person, people following Hinduism should be made to follow Christianity as the latter one is the correct one. The Hindus should be converted to Christians.
Swamiji responded to it by saying that the terrible condition of the people was not because of the religion that they followed but because of the ignorance and misconceptions that were present. He said that there needs to be an awakening which needs to come from one's within and only then they can lead a better life. People need to realise their true potential and work on it. He hoped that one day, the world would realise the actual potential of a person following the Hindu religion as a superior way of leading life. Also added that he would himself try to ensure that this movement towards betterment takes place.
Keywords : Swami Vivekananda, Chicago, religion, Hinduism, speech, query.
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