Rajasthan appoints panel on 7th Pay Commission

first_imgThe Rajasthan government has appointed a three-member committee, headed by former Chief Secretary D.C. Samant, to study and implement the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission for employees in the State.Financial burdenThe committee, which will have two retired Rajasthan Accounts Service officers as its members, has been asked to make an estimate of financial burden on the exchequer and recommend new pay scales for the government employees. It will submit its report to the State government in three months.According to official sources, another mandate of the committee is to make suggestions for revising and fixing various allowances payable with different salary slabs. Besides Mr. Samant, the panel’s members are D.K. Mittal and M.P. Dixit.The State government had announced establishment of the committee in the last year’s Budget. Since the process for giving pay hike to the government employees has begun, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje may announce implementation of the Pay Commission’s recommendations in her upcoming Budget speech during the ongoing State Assembly session.7 lakh employeesThere are over seven lakh government employees in the State, including those in the Panchayati Raj and local self-government institutions and the urban local bodies. Besides, the number of pensioners exceeds three lakh.The financial burden on the exchequer will be of the order of ₹10,000 crore if all recommendations are enforced.Though the State government had given its consent to the Centre for giving the Seventh Pay Commission’s benefit to the officers of all India services in August last year, the recommendations are yet to be implemented for them for want of a final decision in respect of State employees.Reacting to the decision, the Rajya Karmachari Samyukta Mahasangh said the State government was trying to mislead the employees by appointing a new committee. Mahasangh general secretary Tej Singh Rathore said the new pay structure should be introduced with retrospective effect.last_img read more

‘Gau rakshaks’ create mayhem at Bhubaneswar railway station

first_imgA group of self-proclaimed ‘gau rakshaks’ created mayhem at the Bhubaneswar railway station on Wednesday, attacking two persons who were legally transporting 20 milch cows. No arrests have been made so far.The attack took place around 9.30 a.m. when a Noida-based dairy farm was transporting 20 milch cows from Salem in Tamil Nadu to Meghalaya in two parcel vans of the Kochuveli-Guwahati Express. The dairy employees had all the legal documents with them.When the train arrived in Bhubaneshwar, more than 25 cow vigilantes barged into the station and caught hold of two persons belonging to dairy and beat them up.The miscreants, who claimed to be members of the Bajrang Dal, even tied up the two employees. It is alleged that nobody from the security establishments tried to detain the attackers even though they gave interviews to local television channels, bragging about their deed.The train was detained for two hours and the two men were rescued by RPF personnel nearly an hour after the attack.Soubhagya Kumar Swain, inspector-in-charge of GRP, Bhubaneswar, said: “There were only four to five security personnel and they could not control the mob.”Later, the station superintendent lodged a complaint with GRP stating 25 unknown persons carried out the attack. “We have no idea of the attackers. We are examining CCTV footage to identify them,” said Mr. Swain.last_img read more

Former BJD MLA Panigrahi joins BJP

first_imgFormer Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Ashok Kumar Panigrahi formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party at a public meeting in Bargarh district here on Monday.Mr. Panigrahi, who was elected to the State Assembly in 2000 on a BJD ticket, had been suspended from the party after he contested the 2014 elections as an independent candidate from the Bijepur Assembly constituency, leading to the defeat of BJD’s official candidate Prasanna Acharya.He is likely to be the BJP’s nominee in the upcoming by-poll for the Bijepur seat.The by-poll has been necessitated following the death of sitting Congress legislator Subal Sahu in August.Entry opposedMr. Panigrahi was welcomed into the saffron party’s fold by several senior leaders of the party, including Union Ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, and BJP’s Odisha in-charge Arun Singh and State BJP president Basant Panda.President of BJP’s Bargarh district unit Narayan Sahu, who has opposed Mr. Panigrahi’s entry into their party, was absent at the meeting.Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that Mr. Panigrahi’s joining the BJP will have no impact on the BJD’s electoral prospects in Bijepur. The CM has already announced that he will personally campaign for Ritarani Sahu, widow of Subal Sahu, who recently joined the BJD along with her son and a large number of Congress workers.While addressing the gathering on the occasion of ‘Misran Parv’ (joining celebration), Union Tribal Affairs Minister Oram accused the BJD and Mr. Patnaik of luring Sahu’s family members with the aim to capture the Bijepur assembly segment. (With PTI inputs)last_img read more

Bengal BJP president’s vehicle attacked

first_imgAt least seven persons were injured in an attack on West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh’s vehicle in Purba Medinipur district on Monday. Mr. Ghosh alleged that supporters of the Trinamool Congress were behind the attack. “Since the Trinamool Congress is unable to tackle us politically, they are targeting us with brute force,” said Mr. Ghosh. The BJP leader was visiting the district to attend a BJP meeting. He was shown black fags and stones were thrown at his car, damaging its windows. The attack was carried out near Contai bus stand. Some media persons who reached the spot to report the violence were also injured. Several motorbikes, which were part of Mr. Ghosh’s cavalcade, were also attacked. TMC leader and MP from the district Dibyendu Adhikari denied any involvement of the State’s ruling party in the violence. “The clash was a result of factionalism in the BJP. The party members are fighting over the post of district office-bearers,” he said.last_img read more

4 hurt in minor blast in Guwahati; ULFA claims responsibility

first_imgThe outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) detonated a low-intensity bomb in Guwahati on Saturday to make an ‘explosive statement’ against the Centre’s bid to pass the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.Four people, including a woman, were injured in the blast ahead of the five-day Durga Puja festival from Monday and the first ODI cricket match between India and West Indies scheduled on October 21.The police downplayed the blast on the Brahmaputra riverbank along the city’s arterial Mahatma Gandhi Road close to Fancy Bazaar, a Durga Puja shopping destination. They said there was no evidence that a bomb caused the blast that damaged some vehicles and injured the four people riding them.Assam’s Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) Pallab Bhattacharya had a week ago warned of a bid by Islamist organisations such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen to strike during the festive season. The theory gained currency after the arrest of eight alleged members of the group from Assam and Meghalaya during the last fortnight.Message for DelhiBut the ULFA-I claimed responsibility soon after the blast. “Our members carried out the explosion to protest the occupational Indian government’s attempt to settle Bengali immigrants in Assam through the Citizenship Bill. The attack is also against the conspiracy to derail the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” the extremist outfit’s military chief Paresh Baruah said in a statement from somewhere on the Myanmar-China border.He warned of more such strikes, some of higher intensity, in the days to come.Kuladhar Saikia, the State’s Director General of Police, said an investigation would confirm if the extremists had indeed triggered the blast. “We are trying to find out the nature of the explosives, and since the rebels have owned up, whether they triggered it themselves or outsourced the job to others,” he said.The police have not ruled out an “opportunistic claim” by the ULFA-I. But the blast has happened when organisations batting for indigenous communities and settlers perceived as ‘outsiders’ have taken an opposing stand on the Citizenship Bill that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.Many Assamese organisations fear that Citizenship Bill if passed, would legalise the stay of ‘Hindu Bangladeshis’ in Assam and turn them into a minority. The fear that the bill would be passed during the winter session of the Parliament became stronger after the State BJP endorsed the bill at its State executive meeting in Majuli on Thursday.Bengali conclaveA coordination body of 27 Bengali organisations has, meanwhile, decided to organise a conclave in Guwahati on November 17.“The conclave is not about confrontation but about exploring ways to remove the wedge that some forces have driven between the Assamese and Bengali communities. We are the Bengalis of Assam, unlike Bengalis elsewhere, but we could not speak out that we are part and parcel of the greater Assamese society,” BJP legislator Shiladitya Dev said.He is the coordinator of Citizens’ Rights Protection Forum-Assam, which is organising the conclave.“Assamese is not just a language but an identity. Through the conclave, we want to give the message for a joint fight against external aggressors towards securing the future of Assam,” Mr Dev said. EOMA blast in the Sukleswar Ghat area here on Saturday left four persons injured. The banned militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Independent has claimed responsibility saying the blast was in protest against the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia said, “An explosive device caused the blast” at around 11.45 a.m. at a construction material dump site near a footpath in the Pan Bazar area. The four passers-by, including a woman, suffered minor wounds and were being provided medical care at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Civil Hospital, he said.“There are many types of explosive devices…some have switches. Only after investigation, it will be known if any militant outfit was involved in the explosion,” Mr Saikia told reporters.ULFA (Independent) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah later called up local TV channels claiming that the blast was carried out by the outfit protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and NRC updation exercise. He alleged that the NRC will be used to settle non-Assamese people in the state.The DGP said security has already been stepped up for the on-going the festival season.‘Not a bomb’Earlier, DCP Ranjan Bhuyan said, “We don’t suspect it to be a bomb explosion as there were no splinters found and the injuries were caused by stones hitting the victims…We don’t suspect it to be a sabotage or terrorist activity from the nature of the blast. It happened in a dump of sand kept for roadside drain construction. It may have had an unexploded shell which went off,” he said.“A forensic team is investigating the impact of the blast and assessing whether it was an explosive device or anything else that caused it,” Education Minister and Guwahati MLA Siddhartha Bhattacharya said.On being told that Paresh Baruah had claimed responsibility, Mr. Bhattacharya said the outlawed organisation should first apologise to the people for the act.last_img read more

2018 was a landmark year for BJP, women in Northeast

first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party expanded its footprint across the Northeast in 2018 by forming coalition governments in Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. But a regional party, Mizo National Front, struck the final blow in Mizoram to make the region “Congress-free”.The year was also the best and the worst for women in the Northeast. Assam’s sprinter Hima Das made history for Indian athletics by striking gold in the 400m at the World U-20 Athletics championship in Finland and Manipur pugilist M.C. Mary Kom created a world record at 35 by winning her sixth gold at the World Women Boxing championship. Assam’s Rima Das became a household name when her low-budget film Village Rockstars got the best national film award and was nominated as India’s entry for the Oscars in the best foreign films category.On the flip side, Meghalaya-based activists Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma battled for life after members of alleged coal mafia assaulted them for following and documenting illegally stacked coal and coal-laden trucks. The assault on them and a mishap in an illegal mine at Ksan in the State’s East Jaintia Hills district a month later put the spotlight on an unholy nexus that encourages coal mine owners – many of them lawmakers – flout an April 2014 ban by NGT on ‘rat-hole’ mining with impunity.At least 13 miners – survivors of the mishap caused by flooding of the 350ft deep mine claimed there are 17 – trapped are feared dead. A renewed effort to rescue them or recover their bodies resumed on Sunday after initial attempts failed.NRC, Citizenship BillThe issue that hogged the headlines was that of exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the Narendra Modi government’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to legitimise the stay of non-Muslims who migrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 2014 due to alleged religious persecution.The defining moment of the NRC exercise began past the midnight of December 31, 2017, with the publication of the first draft that accommodated 1.39 crore out of the 3.29 crore applicants. The complete draft was released on July 31 with the names of 40.07 lakh people left out of the list. The claims and objections round for the excluded to be back on the list by producing relevant proof of citizenship ends on December 31. This round had begun on September 25.The crowning glory for Assam was the appointment of Ranjan Gogoi, the man at the helm of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC, as the first Chief Justice of the apex court from the Northeast.The BJP, which began its ‘saffron surge’ in the region by winning the Assam elections in 2016, formed the government in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in 2017. In March, it swept the Left Front out of Tripura, ended Congress rule in Meghalaya with the help of regional allies, and chose a new regional partner to continue the NDA reign in Nagaland.But the BJP’s gamble on ethnic minorities did not quite come off in Mizoram. The MNF – a member of the BJP-helmed North East Democratic Alliance – ended the 10-year rule of the Congress to return to power.The BJP in Assam saved the blues for the party in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to win 41% seats in the panchayat polls. This indicated that the anger in Assam against the Citizenship Bill did not have much impact on the rural electorate.But the Bill was seen as one of the reasons of the perceived resurgence of extremist groups such as the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent. Security forces blamed the outfit for killing five Hindu Bengalis, seen as beneficiaries of the Bill, in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district. Connectivity and wildlifeConnectivity in the Northeast came a long way with a slew of highway and railway projects having been sanctioned, undertaken or completed. The highlight was the inauguration of the 4.94 km Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail and road span, across the Brahmaputra river and the construction of the piers of the world’s tallest railway bridge on the Jiribam-Imphal railway line under way.The year also saw hurdles such as land acquisition being removed for Hollongi, the first major civilian airport project in Arunachal Pradesh whose foundation stone is expected to be laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2019.Inland water connectivity too received a boost with two barges carrying 1,233 tonnes of bagged fly ash from Bihar reaching Guwahati’s Pandu port in less than a month to rekindle hope for a transport system that had virtually ended with Partition in 1947. The Centre also signed a protocol with Bangladesh, which will allow Indian ships to access Mongla and Chittagong ports in the neighbouring country.But the expansion of railway and road network has been at a cost – shrinking of space for wildlife leading to train-hits and forcing elephants to seek non-traditional corridors. The resultant man-elephant conflicts have claimed the lives of 67 elephants and 75 humans. The year ended for Assam recording more human deaths due to conflict with animals than natural disasters. Data with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said floods and landslides killed 53 people in 2018.last_img read more

Anti-dam monk opts out of poll contest for ‘greater green cause’

first_imgLama Lobsang Gyatso, a Buddhist monk and a crusader against mega dams, has opted out of the Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh for a “greater green cause”.The Janata Dal (Secular) had given the 39-year-old monk a ticket after he had decided to challenge Chief Minister Pema Khandu in Mukto, one of the three Assembly constituencies in Tawang district.Mr. Khandu is the BJP candidate from Mukto. His brothers — Jambey Tashi and Tsering Tashi — also are party candidates for the other two seats in the district.“Saving the fragile Eastern Himalayan ecology matters more than contesting. I do not want the votes of people against big hydropower projects to be split since an environment protection forum is backing the Congress candidate,” Mr. Gyatso said.The ‘Save Mon Region Federation’, of which Mr. Gyatso was a leader, has declared support to Mukto Congress candidate Thupten Khunpen.The monk, who was an administrator at the landmark Tawang Monastery, felt that it would be better not to affect the chances of Mr. Khunpen, a former abbot of a minor monastery in the district, in the bid to defeat Mr. Khandu, an advocate of hydroelectric projects.Mr. Gyatso left the monastery after falling out with a former abbot who allegedly gave sanction to a number of mega hydroelectric projects. During opposition to two proposed mega dams in Tawang district, Mr. Gyatso was arrested on April 28, 2016. On May 2 that year, the police fired at protesters who were demanding his release, killing two monks.One of Mr. Khandu’s pursuits is harnessing the “huge hydroelectric potential” of Arunachal Pradesh. “Getting clearance for the projects is a major hindrance. The issue must be discussed,” he had told industry captains last year.His father and former Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had scripted the State’s hydropower policy in 2007, which entailed charging upfront money from dam developers per megawatt of installed capacity. Between 2007 and 2015, the State government signed agreements with public sector and private players for 142 hydropower projects ranging in capacity from 4.5 MW to 4,000 MW.This policy was in line with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s plan to add 50,000 MW of hydropower in India by 2017. Arunachal Pradesh accounted for most of the projects envisaged.last_img read more

Gambler’s fallacy trips up goalies

first_imgYou see it happen in all the major soccer tournaments: As a penalty shot is being taken, the goalkeeper leaps in one direction and the striker deftly kicks the ball into the opposite corner. Such fruitless dives are inevitable because the goalie has no time to see which way the kick is going—he has to start the dive before then if he is to have any chance of saving it. The best strategy would be to choose randomly, but, according to researchers in the United Kingdom, goalkeepers aren’t very good at that. Instead, they fall victim to a misjudgment called the gambler’s fallacy. Strikers taking penalties should take note, the researchers say, because they could score more goals against goalies that make this mistake.Penalty kicks, as the name implies, are normally a punishment for a serious infringement of the rules, such as a deliberate foul on an attacking player in the goal area. The ball is placed on a spot 11 meters from the goal. A player from the team that was fouled runs up and has a free shot at goal. In knockout tournaments, such as the World Cup, if the score is tied at the end of a match, the winner may be decided by a penalty shootout. The two teams take turns shooting at goal—using a different player for each kick—and the winner is the side with the highest score after five shots each. (If they’re still tied, they keep shooting.) Previous studies on penalty kicks have indicated that goalkeepers must make up their minds which way to move before they see the ball fly off the kicker’s foot, either by watching the body movements of the kicker to anticipate his kick or simply by committing to one direction or the other. Cognitive neuroscientist Patrick Haggard of University College London says that because a kicker may try to disguise his true intentions, by and large the goalkeeper’s decision is a simple guess. Game theory—a branch of mathematics that deals with competitive systems such as sport, economics, and ecology—says the best strategy is to decide randomly, as any regularity could be exploited by the kicker.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Haggard and his Ph.D. student Erman Misirlisoy looked at keepers’ dive patterns in all 37 penalty shootouts in World Cup and European Cup matches between 1976 and 2012. They noticed that, after a ball had been aimed to one side, keepers were more likely to dive the other way for the next ball, and the odds increased if a second or third ball had gone to the same side. For example, after three balls had been directed to one side, goalkeepers directed more than 70% of their dives for the fourth ball the opposite way, the team reports online today in Current Biology. This is a classic statistical error called the gambler’s fallacy. If two outcomes are equally likely, a long run of one outcome makes people instinctively expect the other in the next trial.If kickers anticipated this behavior, they could score more penalties, Haggard says. But they don’t seem to do so. When the researchers looked at patterns in the directions of the incoming shots, they appeared entirely random. One reason for this, they suggest, may be that in a penalty shootout successive kicks are taken by different players, but the same goalkeeper faces them all. So perhaps players, waiting for their turn at the penalty spot, should take note of which way their teammates shoot before them.Haggard says that the gambler’s fallacy may have a role in other contests on and off the sports field, such as in business decisions, but the penalty shootout is an unusually pure example of where “the gambler’s fallacy is one of the few things that could allow one side to have an advantage over the other.”Sports psychologist Michael Bar-Eli of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, in Israel, who was not involved in the research, describes the paper as “very interesting” but says that, if a kicker does his job properly, there is little a goalkeeper can do anyway. In two studies, one by his own group, not one penalty kicked into the upper third of the goal was saved. “Everybody talks about ‘a game’ in a game-theoretical sense, which is going on between the shooter and the goalkeeper,” he explains. “But the shooter can take the goalkeeper out of the game by shooting to the two upper corners. There, the chances of goalkeepers are literally 0%—they are simply unable to reach the ball.”last_img read more

See glass half empty? Your diet may be in trouble

first_imgAre you a glass half full or a glass half empty person? When it comes to dieting, your answer could change how many calories you drink, according to a study published this month in PLOS ONE. Food psychologists have previously found that people drink less and feel more satisfied when they use a tall, skinny glass rather than a short, wide one, because the human brain perceives height more readily than width. Now, researchers suggest a more nuanced reality: The difference also has to do with where you focus your attention when you pour that drink. When the scientists asked people to pour an amount of lemonade that they deemed equivalent to a shot into a glass, the participants poured less into a skinny glass and more into a wide one of the same volume, as expected. But when the team asked the participants to leave a fixed amount of space at the top of the glass, the participants poured more lemonade into the skinny glass, because the same visual bias tricked them to overestimate the amount of space left unfilled in the skinny glass. So if you are on diet, remember to view the glass half full when you use a slender glass.last_img read more

Good grades for U.K. university research

first_imgLONDON—The anticipation is over. Scientists and higher education officials in the United Kingdom are now poring over the findings of an influential evaluation of university research released here today. The periodic and typically controversial report, now called the Research Excellence Framework (REF), highlights overall improvement in research quality across the United Kingdom. The government funding councils that ran the massive review evaluated individual research departments, but didn’t rank them or the universities. As usual, though, others quickly crunched the numbers and officials started bragging. University College London (UCL) was first to trumpet its ranking, claiming the top slot that had in the previous evaluation gone to the Institute of Cancer Research and before that to the University of Cambridge. Cardiff University boasted of its “meteoric rise” in the rankings. Meanwhile, the Russell Group, a consortium of UCL, Cardiff, and 22 other large universities, said the REF’s results justified concentrating limited funds into the best performing institutions. “The volume of world-leading research in Russell Group universities is more than double that in other universities,” said Wendy Piatt, the group’s director general in a statement.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Universities care not just about the prestige, but also about the money involved. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and three similar councils provide unrestricted grants to universities. The individual department scores, which for the first time include a measure of societal impact, will influence the annual distribution of the £2 billion in government funding. “The REF2014 is hugely significant, more so than any league table or university ranking,” said Michael Arthur, UCL’s president and provost, in a statement. But the universities won’t learn exactly how the United Kingdom will use the information to parcel out funds until early next year.The detailed peer review of 154 universities in the United Kingdom shows overall improvements in research since the previous assessment in 2008. Twenty-two percent of submitted research was given four stars, the highest rank and considered “world-leading,” compared with 14% in 2008. Half of the research won three stars, rising from 37% in 2008. David Sweeney of HEFCE attributed the improvement to overall increased funding of research at universities.Others have speculated that universities learned how to more intelligently pitch their research to the REF, for example by being more selective in the researchers whose work they submitted to the panels. “With the investment that universities are making in REF staff, you’d expect them to do a better job,” says Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, a nonprofit in London that advocates for research. “It’s a very competitive environment.”The evaluation is enormous. Over this year, more than 1100 experts evaluated the work of more than 52,000 academics, examining 191,150 papers or other research products. In addition, universities submitted nearly 7000 case studies demonstrating the societal impact of their research. Universities were also scored for their “research environment,” including strategy, facilities, and professional development. “This is the largest research assessment exercise in the world,” Sweeney noted with obvious pride.Yet the process has been controversial. An initial plan to give major weight to citations, grant income, and other quantitative metrics was scaled back, delaying the assessment. Others have criticized the peer-review process as too cursory and vulnerable to the intrigues of academic politics. Janet Finch, a sociologist at the University of Manchester who chaired one of four supervisory panels, defended the REF as rigorous, fair, and transparent: “The level of confidence that I have in these results is very high,” she said at the press conference.Another complaint is the amount of time involved. “Given the monetary and human resource costs of the exercise, we simply cannot afford not to ask how well the whole system works,” wrote Nicholas Stern, president of the British Academy and Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society in Times Higher Education last week. HEFCE expects to release a report in March about the administrative burden that REF places on universities. It has also commissioned an independent review of its methods, which should be completed in the spring.last_img read more

Do big carnivores practice birth control?

first_imgThe grizzled wolf stalks from her rival’s den, her mouth caked with blood of the pups she has just killed. It’s a brutal form of birth control, but only the pack leader is allowed to keep her young. For her, this is a selfish strategy—only her pups will carry on the future of the pack. But it may also help the group keep its own numbers in check and avoid outstripping its resources. A new survey of mammalian carnivores worldwide proposes that many large predators have the ability to limit their own numbers. The results, though preliminary, could help explain how top predators keep the food chains beneath them in balance.Researchers often assume that predator numbers grow and shrink based on their food supply, says evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh of the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the new study. But several recent examples, including an analysis of the resurgent wolves of Yellowstone National Park, revealed that some large predators keep their own numbers in check. The new paper is the first to bring all the evidence together, Van Valkenburgh says, and presents a “convincing correlation.”Hunting and habitat loss are killing off big carnivores around the world, just as ecologists are discovering how important they are for keeping ecosystems in balance. Mountain lions sustain woodlands by hunting deer that would otherwise graze the landscape bare. Coyotes protect scrub-dwelling birds by keeping raccoons and foxes in line. Where top carnivores disappear, these smaller predators often explode in numbers, with potentially disastrous consequences for small birds and mammals.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Ecologist Arian Wallach of Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia, was searching for dingo tracks in the Australian outback when she began to wonder why dingoes and foxes have such different ecological impacts in Australia. “They’re cousins,” she says, but invasive foxes have expanded out of control and are blamed for wiping out many native marsupials, whereas social dingo packs are stable and help keep fox and kangaroo numbers in check. She wondered whether something about pack structure could explain the different roles played by small and large carnivores worldwide.Wallach and colleagues gathered research on the life cycles of more than a hundred species of mammalian carnivores—from polar bears and panthers to skunks and stoats—and documented examples of large predators that apparently regulate their own numbers. Among the 73 best understood species they also tested how traits like parental investment, birth rate, and the number of females with young vary with body size. They found a size threshold at about 15 kilograms. Most smaller predators breed rapidly and have many offspring, whereas most larger species invest more time in each cub or pup. About half of large carnivores further regulate their numbers by only letting certain group members breed. Among wolves and hyenas, for instance, dominant females kill the pups of social subordinates. In many of these species, the whole group then raises the dominant animal’s pups communally.It’s not news to wildlife ecologists that large carnivores give birth and mature at a leisurely pace or that they live complex social lives. But the pattern suggests that these natural population controls could be a defining feature of top predators, the authors argue online this month in Oikos. The hypothesis could have big consequences for conservation. Hunting and habitat loss now threaten 87% of large carnivores worldwide, the authors write, and conservationists should do more than keep track of population sizes. “Their ecology and their well-being ­[and] everything about them has to do with their social structure,” Wallach says. “And all we’re doing is counting them.”Leading wildlife ecologists applaud the study for putting forward a surprising hypothesis and bringing together so much evidence from around the world. But they also caution that the jury is still out on the paper’s conclusions. “They’ve taken a step in the right direction,” says John Gittleman of the University of Georgia, Athens, who calls the new findings “very valuable.” However, he points out that the authors don’t actually test whether social factors or more traditional resource limits keep predator numbers stable over time. Van Valkenburgh also expresses concern that human persecution and fragmented habitats have disrupted carnivores’ social groups around the world. To find out what keeps populations constant, the researchers should study stable social groups over many years, she says. But to do that, they’d need a time machine.last_img read more

Indian Ink

first_imgThey report from the battlefields of Iraq, from earthquake-shattered Kashmir, from tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka. They pontificate on how to win the war on terror or where the almighty dollar is headed. Sometimes, they simply tell you how to design the perfect room or buy the best cigar. When Fareed Zakaria, of Foreign Exchange and Newsweek International, talks, people listen. They are South Asian journalists – and they are everywhere! Right from the ramparts of Newsweek International to the heart of The New York Times to the financial maze of The Wall Street Journal, South Asian byline are bursting forth.A decade ago, South Asian bylines were typically found only on business reports. But now they are appearing on a wide range of stories – breaking news from war-torn areas, opinion pieces in the world’s leading newspapers, lifestyle features in hip, trendy magazines and grassroots stories in local papers in small towns all over the United States.South Asian journalists report with some frequency in publications as diverse as The Atlantic Monthly, Village Voice, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Black Book, Gourmet and The Los Angeles Times. South Asians are also storming into broadcast media from CNN to ABC to Fox News, as well as new media and blogs.Indian Ink is writing overtime – and here are a few of the big names.Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, which boasts a worldwide readership of 25 million, has an uncanny ability to spot political and economic trends. When Zakaria talks, people listen. His views on terrorism, national security and the global economy are encapsulated in his columns in Newsweek and, often, The Washington Post.You can hardly zap talk shows on TV without seeing Zakaria on one of them. And now he has his own program on television, Foreign Exchange, a weekly series on international affairs, as well as a best seller, The Future of Freedom.His award-winning cover stories in Newsweek have included “Why America Scares the World,” “How to Win the Peace” and “Why They Hate Us,” so one can understand why the Boston Globe said these “ought to be mandatory reading in every home in America.” CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: “There’s a cultural understanding that, being of South Asian descent, I innately have with people from other parts of the world that I think is very beneficial in my reporting.”A familiar face for television viewers is that of CNN superstar, the very affable Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He’s probably the most famous South Asian journalist in America, today. You see him in action in Iraq, in Kuwait and in tsunami-hit Sri Lanka. You see him take unpalatable truths about health and fitness and make them easy for millions of viewers to swallow. He is perhaps every Indian parent’s dream – a high profile celebrity who’s also a doctor!Sometimes, his two professions collide, as when Gupta was reporting live from smoldering Iraq, and people with gunshot wounds to the head were brought into the area. “I was a journalist but I was also the only neurosurgeon who was in the field with this particular unit,” he recalls. “So at the same time I was reporting the story, reporting how war takes place and the injured are cared for, I was asked to basically take off my journalist hat and put on my surgeon’s cap for surgery.” And he did, in the middle of the desert, as the bullets flew. Little wonder then, that’s he got legions of fans.Peter K. Bhatia, executive editor of the Portland-based The Oregonian, has been eyewitness to the slow rise of South Asian journalists. He’s the past president of ASNE, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the largest organization of editors of daily newspapers in the United States. On Bhatia’s watch, The Oregonian won Pulitzers for public service and for feature writing, and he’s also been an editor on three Pulitzer-winning projects.“It is exciting and wonderful to see the surge in South Asian bylines,” says Bhatia when asked about the sudden prominence of South Asians in the media business. “I think it is generational as much as anything. Second- and third-generation South Asians in this country are moving into fields other than those their parents pursued. Journalism has been one of the beneficiaries, especially in the last decade or so.” Oregonian’s Peter Bhatia: “Being South Asian is an asset for sure, but being a good journalist is even more important.” Indeed, when South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) was formed in New York in 1994, it had just 18 members; today it boasts over 630 members, including 170 students, with chapters in several cities. Sreenath Sreenivasan, who co-founded the organization and is professor of New Media and dean of students at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, estimates there are over 1,000 South Asian journalists in mainstream outlets. Earlier they all seemed to be concentrated in finance or business publications, but now they are spread across a wide array of media.“The stereotype of the South Asian who knows math, helped them break into business journalism, but also, if you look at the past decade, that was where the jobs were,” says Sreenivasan. “So as South Asians got into the media that’s where they found jobs. Now it’s also a question of the sheer numbers. There are so many more that they are finding their way to more unusual forms of media.”South Asians have spread to alternative and progressive media, as well the conservative press. Ramesh Ponnuru, a leading conservative voice, is senior editor at the prominent conservative journal, National Review.South Asians journalists are also aspiring to senior overseas postings. Somini Sengupta is currently New Delhi bureau chief of The New York Times. “The big mainstream newspapers have always considered New Delhi bureau chief position as one of the top jobs in American journalism and several New York Times senior editors were former India bureau chiefs,” points out Sreenivasan. “If you were posted as the New Delhi bureau chief for The Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Wall Street Journal, it was a very senior position and you were considered a rising star within the company.”The posting is considered a tough one, because it encompasses so many cultures and countries and has now added importance with South Asia’s new prominence, particularly India’s rise. Indians were never offered the job earlier, simply because so few of them were in journalism. Somini Sengupta is currently New Delhi bureau chief of The New York Times. Perhaps the first Indian to head an Indian bureau was Manjeet Kripalani, who left a successful New York based career with Forbes and Fortune magazines to return to India to head up BusinessWeek’s India bureau which was a historic move for magazines generally, but a great breakthrough for South Asian journalists.Shashank Bengali was recently appointed Nairobi bureau chief at Knight Ridder; a previous Nairobi bureau chief, Sudarshan Raghavan, was also South Asian. Rajiv Chandrasekaran served as The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Iraq.The Dow Jones company, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, has been especially receptive to South Asian journalists; currently almost two dozen work at the company.“Wall Street Journal has been at the cutting edge of diversity hiring and is open to hiring minorities on merit,” says Sreenivasan. “Some of the most prominent bylines through the 90’s were, and are, South Asian. You see them moving up the ranks. You could not pick up the Journal without seeing a desi byline almost every day.”These include Anita Raghavan who covers stocks; Amal Naj who is a manufacturing reporter, Raju Narisetti, formerly a tech correspondent and now head of Wall Street Journal Europe; Geeta Anand, a health and science reporter who shared a staff Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories about scandals in corporate America; Nikhil Deogun, deputy Washington bureau chief at the Journal; Krishnan M. Anantharaman, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition, the Journal’s monthly educational publication for high-school students; and Tunku Varadarajan, editor of its editorial page. Perhaps the first Indian to head an Indian bureau was Manjeet Kripalani, who left a successful New York based career with Forbes and Fortune magazines to return to India to head up BusinessWeek’s India bureau. Sreenivasan comments, “There’s been more cricket in the Wall Street Journal since Tunku arrived than ever before, and that’s because Tunku’s a cricket fanatic. That’s a sign of the desi touch.”The New York Times also has several South Asian journalists on its staff, besides Sengupta, such as Vikas Bajaj, Neela Banerjee and Shaila Dewan. At Newsweek, Nisid Hajari is managing editor. Time magazine’s World editor Romesh Ratnesar has covered more than 20 cover stories on everything from the hunt for Osama bin Laden to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other Time reporters include Ratu Kamlani, Unmesh Kher and Jyoti Thottam.At The Washington Post, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, is now assistant managing editor. The paper’s other South Asian journalists include Shankar Vedantam and Mitra Kalita, an education reporter, with a special interest in immigration, race and youth culture. Sudarshan Raghavan, who was Knight Ridder’s bureau chief in Nairobi, is also now at Post.Think of any major media outlet and you are more than likely to discover a South Asian byline: Chitra Raghavan is a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report, covering the justice Department and the law beat; Ritu Sehgal, formerly an assistant managing editor at The Miami Herald, is now at Detroit News; Deepti Hajela is at the Associated Press. Rummana Hussain is a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. Minal Harjratwala is editor of “Perspective,” the Sunday viewpoints and ideas section of the San Jose Mercury News. Sreenath Sreenivasan: “In 19 states the largest Asian population is South Asian, not East Asian, including New Jersey, Illinois, and Texas. So if you’re an American editor, you want to have South Asians in your newsrooms.” Sridhar Pappu, a popular columnist with The New York Observer, is now staff writer with Sports Illustrated; Jaikumar Vijayan, one of the senior-most South Asian technology journalists, is currently senior editor at ComputerWorld; Sanjay Bhatt is medical reporter for The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fl.South Asians are appearing in truly offbeat places: Shandana Durrani is senior editor at Cigar Aficionado, a men’s lifestyle publication. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Durrani grew up in Detroit, Mich. She started out as an editorial assistant at Racquet magazine and wrote for Glamour, Wine Spectator and now edits sparkling copy about celebrities and their favorite cigars!Zahid Sardar, a San Francisco-based writer, editor, and designer, specializes in interiors, architecture and design. He is also the architecture and design editor of the San Francisco Examiner Sunday Magazine.How much does ethnicity play a part in the hiring in the newsrooms? Is being South Asian an asset or a hindrance in today’s world? Says Oregonian’s Bhatia, “Ethnicity does play a role. Most newsrooms strive to have a diverse group of reporters and editors, so they can be in touch with as many possible perspectives from their community. Being South Asian is an asset for sure, but being a good journalist is even more important.”Publications have realized the economic sense of hreflecting the lives of their readership in their editorial content. Says Sreenivasan, “In 19 states the largest Asian population is South Asian, not East Asian, including New Jersey, Illinois, and Texas. So if you’re an American editor, you want to have South Asians in your newsrooms.”This is especially true for local television. Asha Blake, who served as anchor at ABC, is presently at Denver’s WB2; Karim Hajee is reporter at New York 1; Uma Pemmaraju who won Emmys for spot reporting is at Fox; Sukanya Krishnan is on New York’s WB11; and Gurvir Dhindsa is on Channel 5 in Washington. Mitra Kalita is education reporter at the Washington Post. CNN is probably the broadcast equivalent of The Wall Street Journal with its sterling group of South Asian journalists both in the United States and around the world. One of its top executives, Rena Golden, senior vice president of CNN International, is of Indian origin. In this role, she oversees the editorial production and day-to-day operations of CNN International, which encompasses five English-language CNN networks that reach an audience of more than 176 million television households worldwide in more than 200 countriesBesides Sanjay Gupta, the South Asian journalists at CNN include Satinder Bindra, who was New Delhi bureau chief and is currently senior international correspondent; Zain Verjee, an anchor for CNN International (CNNI) based in Atlanta, and now being increasingly showcased on domestic CNN; Aneesh Raman is CNN’s correspondent in the Baghdad bureau; Mallika Kapur is a reporter and producer for CNN in London; Sumi Das is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource in Washington, D.C. She files feature stories and breaking news reports as well as provides custom live reports for 800 CNN Newsource affiliates.Yes, be it print or broadcast, South Asian journalists are certainly coming into their own. But it’s not been a smooth yellow brick road on which they’ve merrily danced to the Emerald City. Hari Sreenivasan of ABC News, one of the few Indians on a national network, recalls the lonely road and the hard climb up, because until a decade ago there were few South Asians in broadcast journalism.He says, “There wasn’t a South Asian journalists association nor South Asian faces on the screen to be able to say, ‘Hey, that’s a viable career alternative besides medicine, engineering and banking.’ Other communities of color had very difficult fights for us to be able to get here.” Satinder Bindra, who was New Delhi bureau chief and is currently senior international correspondent at CNN. In fact when he started out a decade ago in Raleigh, N.C., at WNCN, an affiliate of ABC, he found being a person of color in the South was disconcerting, to say the least. He recalls an assignment to interview a chicken farmer, and scheduled the meeting on the phone. It should have been a breeze.As they neared the farm, his photographer, who was black, cautioned him to verify if the farmer was willing to be interviewed. Says Sreenivasan, “I walk up this long driveway past his fence and I see this guy sitting on his swing and he’s kind of swaying back and forth on the swing. I think there’s a broom next to him, but it’s not. It’s a shotgun and he basically picks it up and puts it over his lap and he’s just looking at me.”Nothing could convince him that Sreenivasan was the reporter he had agreed to be interviewed by. He kept asking, “What are you doing on my land?” all the while handling the shotgun.“At that time I had to negotiate. I was an hour and a half away from base and had to get back with a script and I had to convince him that it was better for us to talk on the plight of the chicken farmer with the local law impacting him than it was for him to harbor these feelings. We ended up negotiating and my photographer and I stood on one side of the fence and he stood on his land, on his side of the fence and we conducted the interview and then got out of there.”Says Sreenivasan, “What’s the point of being so frustrated and flustered or so angry that you walk away? At that point it’s completely not useful. All I know is I was more scared of my news director that day than this guy with a shotgun! He wanted his story told and I wanted to tell it so we had that in common, so let’s figure it out.”In the South, he often encountered white sheriffs who would chat with NBC and CBS affiliates, but just wouldn’t give the time of day to him, the ABC affiliate: “I’d be asking the questions and he’d still be answering to them, without looking at me. Hopefully it’s different now, ten years later, and I have respect for the area and the people there.”South Asians bring unique strengths to the job and Sanjay Gupta has often found his Indian origin frequently an advantage: “There’s a cultural understanding that, being of South Asian descent, I innately have with people from other parts of the world that I think is very beneficial in my reporting,” he says. “When I travel, it’s much easier for me in some ways to acclimatize to different cultures, to gain the trust of people upon whom I’m going to be reporting. When I am in Sri Lanka, Iraq or Kuwait, even though I don’t speak the language, people look at me and see I’m Indian and they are somewhat more comfortable.” CNN’s Mallika Kapur. Journalism also encompasses the fascinating, and to many, bewildering world of new media. One of the major South Asian names in that field is that of Srinija Srinivasan, vice-president and editor-in-chief of Yahoo and employee number 5 at Yahoo. Jai Singh is editor in chief of CNET News.com; Om Malik runs gigaom.com and is one of the leading bloggers about technology and Sandeep Junnarkar, visiting Weil Professor at Indiana University, who teaches web journalism, reporting and writing, is a regular contributor to The New York Times. Says Sreenath Sreenivasan, “Young people are getting into technology. They understand you’ve got to deal with the converged reality. If you don’t, you get left behind.”Journalism is still not every immigrant family’s cup of tea. Sreenivasan points out, “I’ve met so many people who were journalists back in India or had dreams of being journalists, but they came here and took other career paths, because that’s where there were jobs and where they were accepted. Journalism is a leap of faith for South Asian families. Allowing their children to become journalists is far from acceptable for everyone.”The media industry is also reeling economically. Several major newspapers from The New York Times to Los Angeles Times to The Chicago Tribune are all cutting jobs, and most newspapers are losing circulation. The media are losing ground to the Internet daily. But says Peter Bhatia: ” The prophets of doom are overreaching in my opinion. Yes, our industry is under siege in a way we haven’t seen before. But if we’re smart, embrace the new technology and embrace the change required to succeed in the Internet era we will be fine. That has never been more true amid the noise of the Internet. Whether we continue to publish on paper, and I think we will for a long time, or on the Internet, or using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, journalists will have an important role in our society.” Hari Sreenivasan: “I walk up this long driveway past his fence and I see this guy sitting on his swing and he’s kind of swaying back and forth on the swing. I think there’s a broom next to him, but it’s not. It’s a shotgun and he basically picks it up and puts it over his lap and he’s just looking at me.”Adds Sreenivasan: “What happens to us as a community is in part dictated by media perceptions of us and media influence. So we need people at the highest level as Rena Golden but also at the entry level. Aditya Raval, a junior producer at ABC, after 9/11 was able to send a camera crew to a vigil held by the Sikh community. I believe he helped save lives because it forced the media to say what was happening with the hate crimes after 9/11 need to be stopped – and that was partly because he sent a camera crew that day.” Running on EmptyThe surge in South Asian journalists is a great departure from as recently as a decade ago, and most surely from the 1930’s when a young Indian by the name of Gobind Bihari Lal decided to enter journalism. Lal is credited with popularizing science writing and served as president of the National Association of Science Writers. Lal, the first South Asian journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize, died in 1982 at the age of 92, still science editor emeritus of Hearst Newspapers.South Asian bylines were rarity the American media until relatively recently. In the 1970s Pranay Gupte reported for The New York Times and went on to become a foreign correspondent in Africa. He is presently a business columnist at The New York Sun.Another early byline was that of Subrata Chakravarty, who joined Forbes in 1972, rising through the ranks to assistant managing editor, responsible not only for coordinating coverage of large corporations and writing, but also for mentoring young writers over his 25 year tenure. Chakravarty wrote the first article about India’s economic hreforms in a major American publication, titled “Getting the Elephant to Dance,” long before it became trendy to write about India. Currently he’s editor of Top Worldwide at Bloomberg News. Another early starter Ron Patel, who died in 2000, served as editor of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. Rena Golden, senior vice president of CNN International, oversees the editorial production and day-to-day operations of CNN International, which encompasses five English-language CNN networks that reach an audience of more than 176 million television households worldwide in more than 200 countries  They were the early pioneers, lonely voices out there for many years by themselves, flying solo, carrying their unwieldy Indian names with them like a talisman. Vibhuti Patel, presently letters editor at Newsweek International, started out at the organization in the 1970’s. With a strong sense of self, she wore a sari to work in that all-American institution and still does, only occasionally swapping it for a salwar kameez.Jai Singh, who now runs one of the most important technology websites, CNET News.com, was another of the early pioneers. Last year he won the prestigious National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online. He recalls, as a student, sitting in the journalism department working late at night. He was almost evicted by the security guard, who had never seen an Indian in journalism school and thought he had sneaked in from the engineering department! BUT YOU SPEAK SUCH GOOD ENGLISH! Raju Narisetti heads the Wall Street Journal Europe but when he first came to the United States as a student he had just his Indian clips. Here in his own words he talks about the experiences of trying to break into mainstream journalism.“Like most Indian journalists working for American media companies, I came to the U.S. to get a degree in journalism. In my case it was an MA in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington. Indiana had a peculiar rule that foreign students couldn’t work off-campus so the biggest hurdle in many ways was trying to make your small tuition waiver/stipend money stretch. I remember getting an A for writing a paper about craving for pizza, but not having enough money to eat it regularly!But when it came to work, I found few obstacles in the sense that people were at least willing to talk to me. I landed a Wall Street Journal interview based on my clips from India and then landed the interview because the editor there found some of my work for The Economic Times (where I had worked in India) interesting. The clips could get you an interview for an internship, but all your previous experience was pretty much discounted by hiring editors and you had to show and prove that you could work in an American journalism environment.I remember getting asked to write a short feature on CPR for dogs for a slot called the “Orphan” at the Journal and the shock on the editor’s face when at the end of the day I turned in a story. He seemed stunned that I could finish it off in a day. But it is also a good feeling when you can shock or surprise someone in that way! I haven’t encountered many hurdles in all my years at U.S.newspapers other than some bureaucratic problems: we had to ask Senator John Glenn to intervene when a local Department of Energy nuclear facility wouldn’t allow me to enter for a story because I was an Indian citizen and India hadn’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty!But I often got complimented, even at companies such as IBM, by executives who were there to be interviewed by me for a Journal article, about “how good my English was.” Depending on what mood I was in, I would reply by either giving them a bit of Indian history, about the British Raj, etc., or say something snooty like “Yes, I did pass my grammar test before joining WSJ.” Asked if his Indian heritage has been a help or hindrance on the job, Narisetti says it has been neither. “On some occasions it is a topic of conversation, an ice breaker if you will. But when you are an American citizen of Indian origin working for an English newspaper in Belgium, the conversations about heritage and backgrounds get quite complicated and fun. Some 15 years after leaving India, I have very fond memories, some very strong personal links and a sense of pride about India, some of which shows up to work with me on some days, but for most days I am just another journalist in an industry that is going through great change.”SADDAM’S BEEN CAPTURED! HOW DO YOU TELL ASIA ABOUT IT?Nisid Hajari, Managing Editor, Newsweek International takes us behind the scenes in one of the world’s most respected publications.Q: What have been the special challenges – and adventures – of being managing editor of Newsweek International?A: This is one of the best jobs in international journalism, if I can be so immodest. Not only do I get to work with one of the smartest foreign policy minds in the country (fellow South Asian and my boss, Fareed Zakaria), but also we have at our disposal an incredibly talented network of experienced foreign correspondents who are both expert in, and thoroughly engaged with, some of the most rapidly changing parts of the world.It’s an education every week, especially since the proliferation of news outlets means that we have to concentrate more and more on the big ideas behind the news. But at the same time some of the most exciting moments naturally have to do with breaking news events – like the time we got a call at 4 am on Sunday, after putting the issue to bed the night before, that Saddam Hussein had been captured with a dozen people. We managed to completely replace our cover package by a little after noon and given that our Asian plants had already started to gear up, I finally got to say ‘Stop the presses!’ and mean it. Q: About a decade ago, South Asians were not prominent in the media business. When and why do think this transformation occurred?A: I don’t think I could put a specific date to it. I think it’s been more an evolutionary process. As the population of second and third generation South Asian Americans has grown, the number of them branching out into fields other than medicine and engineering, to take 2 stereotypes, has also naturally grown. Perhaps they’ve been inspired by the proliferation of South Asian novelists to take up writing, or perhaps they’re simply looking to pursue a different path. But their rising numbers are simply part of the natural diversification of any immigrant community, a sign of how South Asians are increasingly interwoven into the fabric of American society.Q: You’ve had a career across Asia. What special skills are needed in our changing world? What would you tell young South Asians considering a career in journalism? A: I think a healthy curiosity about the world outside our borders is key for anyone, especially someone interested in journalism. It’s a cliché, but figuring out how people are going to use the web to consume their news is only going to become more and more important. The entire industry is going through a wrenching shift right now, and those who are going to adapt better are likely to be younger folks who are comfortable with disseminating and consuming information across different mediums.As for what I’d say to those young journalists-just do it. This might not be the most lucrative field in the world, but it is one of the most interesting. Sumi Das, is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource in Washington, D.C. She files feature stories and breaking news reports as well as provides custom live reports for 800 CNN Newsource affiliates. Q: How much does ethnicity play a part in the hiring in American newsrooms? Is being South Asian an asset or a hindrance in today’s world?A: The best newsrooms always look to increase the diversity of their staffs, especially those whose audiences are themselves ethnically diverse. I wouldn’t say it’s the key factor, but is or should be an important consideration when looking at young journalists. Being South Asian is generally an asset, I’d say, given the increasing interest in different cultures and in that part of the world more specifically. Though it might not always feel that way when passing through airport security.Up From Footnote“You’re Indian? Really? What tribe are you from?” These are the kinds of questions you get when you are a reporter with a name like “Jyoti” in Jacksonville, Fl. I had gone there for my first job in journalism after college, and I was often the first person from India many people I interviewed had ever met.That feeling of being a stranger in my own country – I was born in India but have grown up in the U.S. – has gradually faded. In some ways, I can thank journalism for that. When you write for a newspaper or a magazine, you are automatically part of the public conversation. It’s your reporting that tells people how their taxes are being spent, your words that describe the feelings of a murder victim’s family, and your analysis that will inform how they vote.For second-generation Indian Americans who rarely see their voices or images represented in public life, that is an incredibly powerful thing, and it’s a big part of the reason why I’ve stayed in journalism despite all its challenges and flaws.Jyoti ThottamStaff Writer, Time Magazine Related Itemslast_img read more

The Indians Are Coming

first_imgIndia is the second largest foreign direct investor in London after the United States.The foreign direct investment agency, Think London reported that India accounts for 16 percent of the total foreign investment in the city, compared to 31 percent by the United States. They are trailed by France with 12 percent and China with 6 percent. Michael Charlton, Think London’s chief executive, isn’t surprised by London’s appeal to Indians, “London does not have the same resonance in China, Russia or Brazil as it does in India.”Total foreign investment in the British capital rose to $104 billion from $76 billion two years ago. Related Itemslast_img read more

What’s Behind The Potentially Catastrophic Fight At India’s Central Bank

first_imgCentral banks are usually pretty boring places, home to technocrats who keep watch on inflation and exchange rates and pride themselves on avoiding public controversy.So it came as a shock when the deputy governor of India’s central bank gave a speech in October warning that the institution’s independence was being undermined in “potentially catastrophic” ways.And that was just the beginning: This week the governor of India’s central bank, Urjit Patel, abruptly stepped down, the first such resignation in nearly 30 years.What is going on here?The drama unfolding at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is best understood as a battle between central bankers and political leaders over the future course of India’s economy.The stakes could not be higher. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a tough re–election battle in national elections next year and wants the central bank to ease restrictions on lending to give the economy a boost.The RBI, too, wants the economy to grow as fast as possible, but not if it means that banks are rushing to make dodgy loans or investors are creating a bubble in financial assets.The tensions between the government, which wants an economic boost right away, and the central bank, which is guarding against long-term crises, have increased dramatically in recent months.According to media reports, the government threatened to invoke a never-before-used legal provision to get the RBI to do its bidding. For instance, it wanted the regulator to relax constraints on troubled public-sector banks so they can lend more freely. The government is also reportedly seeking to change the way the RBI board works, transforming it from an advisory body to one with actual operational oversight.All of these moves run counter to the tradition of allowing the RBI to function with a wide degree of independence. And they have intensified a chorus of criticism from Modi’s opponents who say that his government is undermining the country’s institutions for political ends.A certain amount of tension between the central bank and the political leadership is expected in any country (in the United States, President Donald Trump has departed from the norm with his sharp public criticism of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell). But experts say that what is happening now is unprecedented for India.“A public spat like this is something that we’ve never seen,” said Jahangir Aziz, head of emerging market economics at JPMorgan Chase. Even when there were differences between the RBI and the Finance Ministry, Aziz said, neither side aired them publicly.Exactly what triggered the surprise resignation of the RBI governor on Dec. 10 is the subject of fevered speculation. Patel issued a brief 88-word statement saying he had decided to step down for “personal reasons.” He thanked his colleagues but pointedly said nothing about the government that appointed him.Patel is an esteemed economist with degrees from Yale, Oxford and the London School of Economics who started a three-year term at the helm of the RBI in September 2016. Two months later, he had the thankless task of implementing the Modi government’s decision to invalidate most of the country’s bank notes. The move was aimed at tackling corruption but led to cash shortages and job losses.Raghuram Rajan, Patel’s predecessor as RBI governor, sounded a clear warning after the resignation. Such a move is “an act of protest,” Rajan told an Indian newspaper. “It is saying that the person cannot stay on given the kinds of policies that are being thrust upon them.” The government named a senior bureaucrat, Shaktikanta Das, as the new governor on Dec. 11.“We’ve seen this movie before in so many emerging economies,” said Vivek Dehejia, an economist and fellow at the IDFC Institute in Mumbai. “There’s a central bank that’s trying to run a tight ship to keep things in check” and a government facing a re-election battle that wants to “turn the spigots in every possible sense.”The Modi government may succeed in its push to make the RBI a more pliable institution, Dehejia said, but the costs might be high. “There could be short-term political gain for the government, but the long-term damage to the economy and its already weak institutions is going to be incalculable.”(c) 2018, The Washington Post Related Itemslast_img read more

How Pak Blocked UK’s Efforts to Nab Indian Diplomat’s Killers

first_imgThe murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre by three suspects from Kashmir Liberation Army (KLA) had caused sensation in India, which involved public cry for hanging of Azad Kashmir extremist Maqbool Butt in revenge.Mhatre, 48, posted in Birmingham for about 18 months, was kidnapped on February 3. His body was found with two shots in the head in Leicestershire two days later. KLA had kidnapped Mhatre to demand the release of Maqbool Butt hijacker of Indian Airlines to Lahore in 1976 and seven Kashmiris who were involved in the 1983 violence of one day cricket match in Srinagar played against West Indies.  Maqbool Butt was in Tihar jail then, awaiting his death sentence for murder, arson and anti-national activities. With the shockwaves Mhatre’s murder made in India, Maqbool Butt walked to the gallows on February 11.According to locations provided by West Midlands police, the three suspects had fled to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. At that time, Pakistan government’s reaction was subdued. Statements from politicians had shown keenness in not adding to Indo-Pak tensions.Now, newly declassified files reveal, according to a Hindustan Times report, that Pakistan denied their presence repeatedly and cited difficulties in tracing them to UK authorities. What the Declassified Files SayThe documents say that in August 1984, UK had requested the Pakistan government to initiate extradition proceedings against the three. The Pakistan government agreed “should it be established that the accused are in Pakistan.”The documents further say that British ambassador Richard Fyjis-Walker wrote to the foreign office on January 17, 1985:“(Pakistan’s additional foreign secretary for European affairs) Dr Haider told me today that President Zia has accepted the MFA’s recommendation that extradition proceedings should be started. However, the first step was to establish whether the three men are in Pakistan. This involved police action which was being initiated. Only if it is established that the men were in the country could the lengthy extradition process start. I am not sure how seriously the Pakistanis will try to find and apprehend the men.”On March 4, 1985, after over a year of the murder, Fyjis-Walker wrote in a dispatch to London: “Dr Haider, on knowing that I was about to raise the subject, rehearsed me to the difficulties the Pakistan authorities were having in finding the men.The government did not know if they were in Pakistan at all. The indications we had given the government of the whereabouts of the men might or might not be the result of disinformation. I again offered our help in tracing the men, saying that we would indeed be grateful for confirmation of whether or not the information we had passed on to the Pakistan government about the whereabouts of the men turned out to be true or false. It was presumably very easy to check whether they had been at the addresses we had provided…we shall need to keep up the pressure on the Pakistanis.”The envoy’s dispatch on March 12, 1985 said: “I repeated our offer of a visit by the West Midlands police. She (Dr Haider) said Pakistan authorities were aware of this…I am not sure when I shall hear anything more or how satisfactory it will be.”Letter to Margaret ThatcherAccording to a “tele-letter” to London by official SG Falconer on May 30, 1985, had said: “He (MFA official Shafkat Saeed) repeated that the problem was that the three suspects were in Kashmir, which legally is not part of Pakistan. Negotiations were proceeding with the Kashmir government and we could be assured that if the Pakistani authorities could lay their hands legally on the three suspects, they would immediately be arrested and arrangements made for their return to the UK. He implied clearly, however, that this was a big ‘if’.”The declassified files include letter to then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by Avinash Mhatre, the brother of diplomat and her response. There were also references to some unreleased documents with some parts redacted. Related ItemsBritainDeclassified documentsIndian DiplomatKashmiri extremistsLittle IndiaMaqbool ButtNewsRavindra Mhatre Murderlast_img read more

Indian Student Shot At in Chicago Parking Lot

first_imgAn Indian man was shot at in Chicago in the United States by an unidentified assailant after an argument in a parking lot. Mohammad Akbar, a 30-year-old student hailing from Hyderabad, was shot in his right cheek on Dec. 6.Akbar’s condition is said to be serious and his father has sought help from Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to travel to the United States on an emergency visa, the Hindustan Times reported. Akbar was living in Chicago for the past three years. He was attacked at the Albany Park neighborhood, which is around 4 km from his Whipple Street apartment.Akbar was pursuing a postgraduate degree in computer systems networking and telecommunications from DeVry University in Chicago. He is now undergoing treatment at Illinois Masonic Medical Center for a bullet wound.His elder brothers, Shafi and Ashraf, told the media that his jaw needed two surgeries. “We are yet to know more. We have applied for an emergency visa to go to the US,” Shafi said, reported HT.“We are in a state of shock. My father has gone into depression after the incident,” said Ashraf, the Times of India reported. “He spoke to me two days before the incident and inquired about our well-being. We are at a loss to understand who would have targeted my brother and why. We are also unsure about how many bullet injuries he suffered,” added Ashraf.Akbar’s friends told the family that a man fired at him after an argument. After hearing the gunshot, residents and passersby rushed to help Akbar and took him to a hospital.The Chicago police said that they are not treating the attack as an incident of hate crime. No arrests have been made yet.Concerns about the rise in the number of attacks on Indians and Americans of Indian descent who are sometimes mistaken for West Asians have been growing in the country. In 2016, 307 cases of hate crimes were recorded against Muslims, a group that has been targeted by President Donald Trump in his policies and speeches. According to recent reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number shot up from 257 in 2015 and 154 in 2014.In November this year, Akash Talati, an Indian club owner, was shot dead in an exchange of fire between the assailant and the security guard of the club in North Carolina. Earlier this year, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer from Hyderabad, was shot dead in Kansas by a man yelling “get out of my country.” Earlier this month, Adam Purinton, accused for the hate crime, pleaded not guilty and his next hearing is scheduled on May 8. Related ItemsChicagoIndian Americanlast_img read more

Man Jailed for Arson Attacks on Sikh Temple and Church in Edinburgh

first_imgA man who started fires at a gurudwara and a Methodist church in Edinburgh within minutes of each other has been jailed for four years.On Aug. 28, the entrances of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Leith city, Edinburgh  and Leith Methodist Church were set on fire. He was arrested the next day by Edinburgh Police on charges of arson.According to a report in the Independent, Paul Johnson, 49, reportedly told the police that he has “issues” with God and religion. He told the officers that he wanted to watch these buildings burn down.He pleaded guilty of two charges of willful fire-raising aggravated by religious prejudice in Edinburgh High Court in October, reported the Guardian.Johnson was sentenced to a jail term of four years by the High Court last week. While awarding him a jail term, Judge Lord Boyd described his actions as “reckless and wicked.”The judge also said that it appears that Johnson had “a ‘grudge’ against the religion or religious authorities in general, rather than a prejudice against one particular group,” the report added.According to a Guardian report, advocate depute Alan Cameron told the court, “The accused was asked as to his motivation for the fires and stated that he was looking to make a political statement, but would not provide further details.”“When asked whether this was religiously motivated he stated that he has no issue with any particular religion but his issues are with religion and God in general,” Cameron said.In the early hours of Aug.28, a man was heading to gurdwara to offer his prayers and saw one side of the door on fire. He immediately raised an alarm for the man sleeping inside in family quarters. Soon after the fire service was informed who brought the fire under control.A few hours later, a caretaker at Leith Methodist Church also smelled petrol and burning but ignored as there was no sign of damage caused by fire. But when he heard about the incident at Sikh Temple, he informed the police, which found through CCTV footage that attacker had also come to set the church on fire. Related Itemslast_img read more

Saradha case: CBI summons police officers

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation has summoned West Bengal Police officers Arnab Ghosh and Dilip Hazra for questioning on Wednesday in connection with the Saradha chit fund case. Both the officers have been asked to appear before the probe team at its Kolkata office. They were part of the Special Investigation Team of the State police that initially pursued the Saradha case. The CBI had also summoned senior IPS officer and former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. However, on Monday, he sent a letter to the agency seeking extra time.The agency is yet to take a call on summoning Mr. Kumar again for questioning. The Supreme Court had earlier this month withdrawn the protection granted to him against any coercive action by the CBI, which has accused him of tampering with evidence.last_img read more