War on momos: Will you say ‘goodbye momos?’

After beef, Indian politician attacked on momos because Momos have been found to be the root cause of several life-threatening diseases, including cancer of the intestine.

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In India, Momos have become the street delicacy King, served with spicy red chutney and thick creamy delectable mayonnaise. There is no denying the fact that these Tibetan dumplings are the most cherished street snack across northern and eastern India.

In Delhi, the momos makers start their preparation with fine chopped vegetables, shredded chicken and sliced paneer pieces. Chanakyapuri, Lajpat Nagar, Majnu Ka Tila and Chirag Dilli Village are amongst the well-known places in the city and emerging as a ‘momo hub’ for their customers. Earnings of thousands of natives’ depend on making and selling of their daily plates of momos. “I daily put up my stall around 6pm, whatever I earned from this small business, it helps me to send some to my family living in Manipur but the fear of MCD workers who take away our stalls keep frightening us,” Said Ram Kesari, 32, who has been selling momos for years in Paharganj.

He further said, last month while frying momos, a scooter hit my stall and the hot burning oil on gas felt over my body due to which my lower body got scalded, therefore risk of life is also involved.

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But the recent announcement by the BJP MLC in Jammu and Kashmir Ramesh Arora, seems to creating a hole in the pockets of several momos sellers like Ram Kesari. According to Arora, momo is a Chinese food, posing dangerous health implications for its consumers and so far, it has negatively influenced our Indian food culture.

While speaking to media, he said, “Makers use an extensive amount of tastemaker ingredient called monosodium glutamate, commonly known as ajinomoto, which is added while stuffing momos. This ingredient makes consumers addictive and it has been researched and found out that these dumplings are more dangerous than alcohol and drugs.

On June 4, Arora and his supporters even organised a seminar attended by officials from the Food and Drug Control Department, doctors, district administration officials, academicians, businessmen, etc., along with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, all of whom, who he claims, agreed that momo are indeed dangerous for consumption. The other important factor is, we cannot be 100% sure about the hygiene with which the food is prepared by the vendors. Mostly the vegetables and chicken used for making momos are stale and not washed properly.

He also said that even the ‘desi namak’ couldn’t be a substitute of ajinomoto. Even doctors and dieticians believe that food items which are deep-fried made from bleached maida are not good for health; they can be had in moderate measures of around once a week.

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In a study, it was also found that these bleaching chemicals cause a lot of harm to the pancreas, hampering the insulin-production capability of the organ. In a laboratory testing, bleaching agents were able to cause diabetes in the rodents.

Arora’s reasoning against momo is also hygiene. “The refined flour used in making the foods is unhygienic and that it is just steamed makes it difficult to be digested. There have been several cases when doctors have had to operate upon youths for 25-30 times to cure an intestinal problem,” he said. “Our food culture did not just develop overnight. It takes hundreds of years to develop a food culture and these Chinese foods have been trying to destroy that from the past 30 years or so,” the BJP legislator said.

According to his surveys and experiments, Chinese foods aggravate mild headaches to migraines, results in intestinal colitis in which the lining of the large intestine and the rectum gets inflamed. He is happy that the sale of momo has now gone down by 30-35 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir and inspite of momos people are now selling nutri-kulchas.

Dieticians are now considering Indian chaat as a healthy option because it has protein, curd and fruits.

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An upsetting fact was revealed by a study conducted by Institute of Hotel Management Catering and Nutrition, Pusa. It showed that most of the Delhi street food, particularly, samosas, golgappas, burgers and momos contain ‘faecal matter’ and  these bacteria are responsible for causing diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, typhoid and severe food poisoning.

So, it’s not right to say that only ‘Chinese food’ is bad for health because many Indian delicacies starting from samosa to bhature have affected human health negatively, if they are eaten regularly.

Ban on momo is not justified because eating fast food once in a while doesn’t have bad impact on health. But if your momos consumption exceeds thrice a week, that too without exercising for an hour then it must have turned disastrous for your health.

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And yes!, if you’re a lover of momos, then the best option is to find a fine restaurant which serves good quality food and if not then you better prepare them at home without using ajinomoto.

 

Rape crimes turning into ‘norm’ in India

Sexual violence game is being played both indoor and outdoor.

Every day women from all walks of life are being assaulted, molested, and violated. The streets, public transport, public spaces in particular have become the territory of the hunters. A woman has to face an unspoken war on the streets to avoid an argument when some man deliberately touches or gazed her ghastly.

Brutal memories of Nirbhaya gang rape case that shook the entire nation are still fresh in our minds. We thought such heinous crime will definitely teach a lesson to many and bring about efficient laws to ensure women safety. Such shameless act against women continued even after the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 – which redefined rape and made punishments more stringent but it shows how weak policing and investigation are negating the intentions of legal provisions. And since then the status of rape cases in India never declined even it is growing with pace.

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In January 238 cases of molestation and 140 cases of rape cases were registered by the Delhi Police. In these cases many remain unsolved due to non-identification of the accused person or insufficient evidences against the accused.

The recent horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Haryana’s Rohtak remind us that women are still not safe on the roads and legislation alone cannot handle sex crimes. In this case, the victim head was smashed atrociously on the wall and her face was destroyed with bricks to prevent identification.

In another incident, a 26-year-old was gang-raped in a moving car in Gurugram and abandoned in a semi-conscious state near her house.

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This is not an end, just a few days back again the humanity was brutally murdered when three men allegedly gang-raped a woman who was travelling with her nine-month baby. According to the police reports, she was going to her parents’ home after a fight with her husband around midnight on May 29 when she took the auto, in which the three men were already sitting. These men started harassing her as soon as she sat in the vehicle. When her baby daughter started crying, they threw her out. In the morning, the victim searched for her baby and took her to the hospital where a doctor confirmed that her baby daughter succumbed to major injuries. As she wasn’t in her senses despite that she rushed to another hospital in the wake to save her child, the victim then boarded Delhi Metro with a tiny corpse in her arms.

Not only on streets, roads or highways women aren’t even safe in their houses as they are raped and maimed by own family members. Last month a-10-year old girl was found pregnant after being continuously raped by her stepfather in Haryana. The girl pregnancy was confirmed by the doctors and the doctor reported that accused father had threatened her and has repeatedly assaulted her. The girl was admitted into the hospital in a critical condition. In another case a 44-year-old school owner was arrested for sexually abusing his own daughter for the last 7 years in Ghazibad. The man had also filmed the acts where he used to force himself upon her and beat the daughter if she resisted him. The mother of the girl is also known to have been complicit with her husband in the crime.

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There are several pending cases where victim didn’t get any Justice, the abduction and gang rape of a woman from north-eastern India in a moving car is one such incident where cops have failed to trace the perpetrators even in 2-3 months.

In India rape is an evil disease which has no boundaries. There is no differentiation of age in the eyes of tormentors, whether a victim is a 6-month-old baby or a-80-year lady. The survivors of such heinous crimes are then left to be humiliated throughout their life. Some of the victims even spend their whole life on ventilators.

Rape is deemed as a crime to show supremacy which is inflicted by a husband on the wife to teach her a lesson or just to release his frustration or by a one sided lover/jerk who will not take a ‘no.’ (Recently seen in Pinki Devi case in Gurugram)

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In Modern era, India is developing towards progress as an emerging power, Indian space agency ISRO’s – the mammoth GSLV MK III launched a successful mission in the space but despite of all this void success, the honour and dignity of Indian women still linger at stake. If we as the nation constantly fail to fathom the gravity of the situation then more ‘Nirbhayas’ will keep taking birth in the society.

#Saynotobrutalcrimes     #Respectwomenfreedom     #Letherlive

 

NDTV raid: an assault on media freedom?

Let’s not drown out the voices of protests.

Since the BJP came into power it seems, NDTV is being targeted again and again in the name of constitutional law. On Monday, Centeral Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the premises of NDTV founder, Prannoy Roy and his wife, Radhika Roy as they were suspected of causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI, a private bank.

NDTV was targeted because being the India’s one of the most trusted and the oldest channel, it has refused to follow the trend lines, when almost every channel to be on safer side has quietly readjusted their ideologies and journalistic charters. We all know that the channel’s financial shakiness has been one of the worst kept secrets in the media world. As there are no rules and laws meant to immune news organizations in our country, it is asserted that in Roys case, “the law is paving its own way.”

The two intense questions surfacing here are; can we trust CBI? And if not then, was it just a planned game to blemish NDTV’s image? Because ICICI has lodged no such complaint and NDTV, in its refutation to the CBI FIR, has released a letter from ICICI saying all its dues were fully paid to the bank. The question that then arises is why the CBI is so interested in a deal between a private firm (NDTV) and a private bank (ICICI), especially at a time when about Rs 10 lakh crore of debt remains unsettled to public sector banks from a dozen large corporate groups who have worked the system for years and postponed loan repayments. Something is clearly fishy here as the manner, circumstances and justification for the CBI raid was done beg more questions than it answers.

NDTV had also said in its official statement that the “CBI FIR is based on a shoddy complaint by a former disgruntled consultant…who has been making false allegations and filing court cases all these years but no court has accepted his petition”.

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NDTV has claimed that on the part of India’s investigative agency, it was an extraordinary exercise of threatening and harassing the firm, to which Indian audience will definitely considered as rising of ‘Inspector Raj.’

While going through this case, Arnab Goswami’s phrase pondered into my mind, “the nation wants to know.” The only dissimilarity here is, the nation already knows that any private news channel generally cannot cater CBI attention just for being in a dispute with a private bank due to heavy debts.

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When we talked about freedom of press, we welcome the contrasting views and criticism from the fourth pillar of Indian democracy. In any country diverse opinions must be encouraged because if each and every citizen will follow the ladder blindly then we might fall harder and ended up with some kind of despotic rule in our country which we had seen during the British Raj. But today the message which is being sent to the media fraternity is that “if you can drown out the voice of protest then you can resist for longer and if not, then survive at your own cost.

In India, most of the common citizens are always at asymmetrical disadvantage while dealing with law and enforcement. We stumble on a situation where we have less evidence to fight for an innocent person who is found guilty by the law. Therefore, there is always a need for reliable and strong Judiciary to assure credible and independent investigation in any matter.

Nowadays we judge news channel from what they serve, while watching news it is easy to judge that one particular channel is funded by which political party. This shows that hypocrisy of media continuously manufacturing puppets for politicians and these puppets are being played in their hands and gradually leading towards ‘Dark Age.’

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The raid confers a message to the rest of the media to stand together against such evident assaults on press freedom. In this era of selling and buying news, the Editor’s Guild of India raised some hopes when it expressed deep concern over the CBI raids as it has condemned any attempt to stifle the media and has sought due process of law to make sure that there is no intrusion in the free functioning of the media.

Calf born with human-like face in UP, hailed as avatar of Lord Vishnu!

The calf was born in an animal shelter in UP’s Muzaffarnagar, but died within an hour.

In between the controversy over beef ban and cow slaughter, a strange video of a baby cow that was born with human-like face has received much attention on social media sites. A calf was born on 1 June, in the village of Pachenda, Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh with the eyes, nose and ears that resemble that of a human, while the lower part of its body had features of a cow.

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Unfortunately, this newborn calf died shortly after the birth and later the villagers kept calf’s carcass in a glass case for display as locals came to receive her blessings. The worshipping of cow is quite common in India but worshipping a dead calf to whom locals have hailed as an incarnation of Hindu god Lord Vishnu- Gokaran, is something extremely unusual. It is believed that ‘Gokaran’ is supposed to be born as a rescuer when the amount of sinners and sin increase on the earth.

The deformed calf was kept in a glass display, showered with flowers and garland around its neck. In India as cow is considered sacred, the locals are comparing the calf with a similar character mentioned in the Bhagavata Puran, a hindu religious text. After its cremation, the villagers are now also planning to build a temple to pay reverence to the dead calf.

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Raja Bhaiya Mishra, 55, the manager of the cow shelter, reported to media, ‘It’s a miracle that the calf was born in this shelter. Thousands of people have been here to see it. We will be cremating him in three days, and a temple will be built for him. This avatar has most definitely created a devotion feeling amongst the people.’

According to Daily Mail, the mother of dead calf was rescued six months ago from a butcher and was given the shelter before she felt pregnant.

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However, animal health experts have a different view on its birth. Dr Ajay Deshmukh, senior veterinary doctor, at Wildlife SOS, in India, said: ‘This is a case of an anatomical anomaly. If a gene didn’t develop properly or there was a fault, it causes multiple structural deformities, and such anomalies happen. It has got only scientific reasons and explanations, there’s no superstition here.’

So, the creature was not a miracle, but rather a victim of birth defects.

Puppetry arises from history’s shadows

The tradition of shadow puppet theatre in India is very old but thrives only in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Each state has upheld its uniqueness through particular design, style, colour-scheme and manipulation techniques.

I found the Srirama Institute of Shadow Theatre, which is one of the few groups in the State, trying to revive the age-old art form in the state. The institute is located in Angul and it is the brain child of master-mind artistes, theatre personalities and researchers. Dr. Gouranga Charan Dash, 60, a practitioner of the art form is a leading member of the group who is trying to bring change in the society by staging diverse acts and plays. The most famous traditional puppetry shows staged by this institute are Sitathaba or The Quest of sita and Ravana Chaya.

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Dash has also established Anand Ashram with the hope to set up a sanctum for admirers, practitioner of folk art. It has a good library for cultural studies and an integral education school. Anand Ashram welcomes all those who wish to share their expertise or contribute in the advancement of theory.

Dash has been staging puppetry shows at educational institutions across the country, village carnivals and star hostels with the aim of keeping the art form alive. Dash, phd in theatre arts said that “I am attempting to use the art form as a catalyst for social change. So, instead of just narrating tales of Lord Rama, I try to highlight contemporary issues. However, I still prefer to call it Ravana Chhaya, even though the ethos has changed.”

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However, Dash, instead of the usual tales of Ram generally writes his own script on contemporary issues. The artistes here also incorporate patta chitra instead of continuing with traditional style of making puppets. Patta chittra is a modern technique used to design the puppets which adds new dimension to the traditional style.

This institute is nurturing new talent who could continue to carry the legacy of the art form in the state. “Apart from training youngsters, we facilitate research in the field,” said Dash.

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Some of the popular contemporary production of the institute includes Bapu-Katha, visit of the legend, Madahanadi katha, Chandalika and Vande Maatram. One thing that makes this group unique from others is, just 10 members here, stages more than 30 shows in a year reaching out to people in rural villages, urban elites, market places and cultural festivals. A visit to his institute and knowing about the talent of these artists was one of the long last memories, I’ll cherish for a lifetime.

 

Age-old inhuman traditions vs. Modern medicine

Branding is an inhuman traditional practice most commonly employed to treat various disorders in children in certain community in India. Superstitions and blind beliefs related to branding of children to cure them of common ailments continue to make a mockery of the State Government’s effort to check the traditional practice. Incidents of children being branded by traditional healers are not new to Odisha.

These cases are common in the tribal-dominated district of Nabarangpur, Koraput and Rayagada where at least 15 cases have been reported this year.

The 16-month-old baby must have shrieked in pain when a local healer pressed a red-hot iron on his stomach 20 times. But such howls normally fall to deaf ears in Odisha’s impoverished interior districts, where traditional practices continue to hold sway despite complaints that they’re outdated and cruel. This infant’s grandmother wanted to cure him of a nagging bowel disorder but the child who was battling for his life died in the Nabrangpur district hospital. He is one of at least 40 babies who have been branded in a similar fashion in the past six months. 20 of them have been reported from south Odisha’s Nabrangpur district alone.

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The practice isn’t limited to infants only. Last December, a pregnant woman in Malkangiri was branded after she complained of abdominal pains. The healer even put bricks on her stomach, worsening her condition.

For decades, a governmental hands-off policy and crumbling public health infrastructure ensured traditional healers thrived in a state. “For a tribe, culture and social traditions are more important than modern medicine. It will not be easy to drive out superstition,” said KK Basa, an anthropologist with the Utkal University in Bhubaneswar in an interview to a newspaper.

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In Dhenkanal, in a slum near Shankarpur market, a woman named Padma Devi said that her husband had applied poisonous cashew sap on his 8-month-old son’s body to cure ailment. Subsequently he died in Bhubaneshwar hospital. In the same week her cousin-brother’s two-month-old child branded by a “desari” in the name of treatment died in the same hospital.

Despite the present laws, which ensure punishment for these desari’s under the 341 and 326 acts of IPC for allegedly branding the children, it appears to fail at stopping such evil practices and ostensive mentality of people. The local media reports and fresh cases of branding every year compel authorities to make noise about banning these heinous practices, but nothing appears to make an impact.

Say no to child branding!

The scenic beauty of Seven Sages: Saptasajya

Saptasajya, one of the major tourist attractions spot is located 12 km away to the South of Dhenkanal town, Odisha. From Dhenkanal it hardly takes 25 minutes to reach this place. This is known as the first eco-tourist spot in Dhenkanal district. The place is ideal for picnic and recreation. A small spring flowing close by enhances the beauty of the place of and it is very well famous for Saptarisi (seven sages) and Raghunath. This is believed that the great ‘Pandavas’ spent some days of their incognito life in these hills.

The name Saptasajya is derived from the conglomeration of seven hills with rich vegetation. Saptsajya also means Bhagwan Bhisnu’s bed. The entire hill range is spread over an area of 2096.75 hectare. There are many streams that pass through Saptasajya and the place is home to a wide range of flora and fauna.

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After trekking up for 20 mins you come across the temple and hardly one or two shops which may help you to relinquish your hunger and will provide great taste to your taste buds with varieties of pakodas, vadas and aloo chop. On reaching 400 metres above while passing through lush green forests and bushes of wild flowers, one can sense the beauty of this place with chirping of several birds like Cuckoo and Mynah and in case you are lucky enough then your eyes will get a glimpse of peacock dancing.

“A fully air-conditioned guest house is developed with all modern amenities that include a kitchen and a spacious compound. Electricity and water is available for tourists,” Rabindra Sahu said.

Beenu Pattnaik, a local villager said the scenic tourist attracts less number of tourists from across the country even after it is developed as an eco-tourism hotspot. Only this Raghunath temple which was built in honour of Lord Rama, Laxaman and Sita by Rani Ratnaprava Devi of Dhenkanal attracts large crowd every year on Rama Navami day in the month of March-April.

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The biodiversity is further enhanced with a medicinal garden that has a variety of herbal plants. People throng the hilly site for recreation and to enjoy the cool breeze, green lustrous forest cover, running streams and to sight wild animals and birds. There are also shrines of Lord Shiva, Hanuman and Navagraha that are situated on the hill range at an elevation of 300 metres.

Happy Reading!