Why the new Punjab government shouldn’t waste energy fighting the colonial past

Voters elect new governments with the hope of change. Delivering change is hard work. Improving education, health delivery, job availability, etc means putting hands to the grindstone and even then delivering improvements takes time. So new governments have gotten fond of the business of new names, which is a change they can sort of deliver overnight. Aurangzeb Road has become APJ Abdul Kalam Road in the capital. Mamata Banerjee wants to transform West Bengal into Bengal. Manohar Lal Khattar has turned Gurgaon into Gurugram. And now there are reports that Punjab, where Congress has grandly returned to power after a decade, is drafting a bill to rename British-era landmarks to celebrate Sikh rulers instead.

But reeling off factoids on India’s share of world GDP plummeting during colonial rule doesn’t really explain why the country hasn’t regained glorious heights in seven decades of independence, even as other victims of imperialism like China have barrelled ahead. Damningly, Indian workforce share in manufacturing has stayed around the same levels as seen when the Raj wound down. Obsessing over the past is not a very helpful guide to the future.

So it’s welcome that Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh seems to have ruled out a Spain-like historical memory law to “erase all remnants of cruel and humiliating British colonial rule”, adding that as a historian himself he does not believe in wiping out history but in learning from it. Actually all political parties would do well to leave history more to the historians, and focus on their own areas of expertise, which are policy making and governance. It’s not like there’s not plenty of room for improvement in these current affairs.
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Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/hope-looks-ahead-why-the-new-punjab-government-shouldnt-waste-energy-fighting-the-colonial-past/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

The Indian Express

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal raised a point about the 12 famous Rajya Sabha MPs who almost never grace the house with their presence. These include Sachin Tendulkar, actors Rekha and Rupa Ganguly, and Mary Kom. “If they have no interest they should resign, others will come,” said Agarwal, to the Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien. (The Indian Express, March 31). This issue has been reported several times, notably four months ago, when only 23 MPs showed up on a working day when a minimum of 25 out of 245 members are required to start proceedings.

It is worth noting that besides the immense prestige of being a Member of Parliament in the world’s largest democracy, these nominated candidates are very generously compensated. They get housing in central Delhi, 34 single air journeys for free anywhere within India, access to clubs, cars and medical allowances, not counting far more undefined areas of benefit, like proximity to some of the most powerful individuals in India. This is by virtue of being exceptional stars in their own chosen fields. The Rajya Sabha MP status for people in the arts is seen as a retirement reward after a distinguished career. Even if they don’t have the wherewithal to change legislation and remain mute spectators during proceedings, it’s not too much to expect them to show up occasionally in Parliament.

After all, could it happen that Tendulkar wouldn’t have gone to a stadium if he was scheduled to play cricket? According to reports, actor Mithun Chakraborty has attended Parliament for three days in two years. If a commitment has been made, disregarding it so completely is patently disrespectful to the House. Somewhere, it sends the message that celebrity is such an important idea, maybe even more so than running the nation.

Celebrities occupying different rungs on the scale of idolatry — the Twitter world, or Big Boss, TV and movie stars, or dotcom millionaires — are without a doubt the biggest influencers for young Indians. The professional making it to the business pages of newspapers has far greater capital among the youth than what a politician or religious leader can muster up. One may wonder if a PR-contrived lifestyle, conveying the right amount of melodrama via Instagram and Facebook justifies such adulation, but contemporary celebs receive a far more flattering reception than their counterparts holding government office. But the movie star MPs in any case fill our magazines and news feed for their wardrobes and their colourful personas. Let the hallowed halls of Parliament be reserved for people who are 100 per cent committed to treating politics like the serious business it is.

In the West, the stars who are in a position to make a real difference to public opinion take their roles seriously and are able to affect change. Leonardo DiCaprio brought the focus to climate change while Bono drew attention to famine in Africa. When Shah Rukh Khan says that the show Koffee with Karan has become boring because people are scared to say anything controversial since the atmosphere in India has changed, it should lead to a more thoughtful debate. These successful, alternate voices, hopefully immune to the murkier issues that arise with power are more important than ever, when political parties seem so radical and polarised. In these times, just to question the hand that feeds you is a big responsibility.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/celebrity-absence-parliament-rajya-sabha-4596860/

Ecuador decides its future, and maybe Assange’s, in runoff

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Ecuador votes today in a presidential runoff to turn the page on a decade under radical economist Rafael Correa and decide whether the country will follow Latin America’s recent shift to the right. The election could also decide the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at the country’s London embassy since 2012.

Correa presided over an economic boom that has recently gone bust in the South American oil producer. With voters torn between continuity and change, the race remains too close to call.

The runoff pits the socialist president’s designated heir, Lenin Moreno, against conservative ex-banker Guillermo Lasso. Lasso finished second in the first-round vote last month, with 28 per cent to Moreno’s 39 per cent. But polls give him a slight edge heading into the runoff, with between 52.1 per cent and 57.6 per cent of the vote.

The race is also a barometer of the political climate in Latin America, where more than a decade of leftist dominance has been waning.

Argentina, Brazil and Peru have all shifted to the right in recent months, as the region has sunk into recession and leftist leaders have been tarnished by a string of corruption scandals.

Boosted by high prices for its oil exports, Ecuador registered solid economic growth of 4.4 per cent per year on average during the first eight years of Correa’s presidency, before tipping into recession in mid-2015.

Correa won loyal fans among the poor with generous social benefits that helped reduce the poverty rate from 36.7 per cent to 23.3 per cent in this country of 16 million people.

But he has also faced accusations of corruption and squandering the windfall of the oil boom. Political analyst Napoleon Saltos of the Central University of Ecuador said the election would be played out between “the vote against the government and the fear among certain parts of the population that they will lose what they gained over the past 10 years.”

Lasso, 61, appears to have gained the edge by uniting the opposition vote behind his promises to end tax-and-spend policies and create a million jobs.

But Moreno, 64, has sought to co-opt the buzzword of “change” for himself. “We’re heading for a change, yes, but a positive change, not a negative change, a change toward the past,” he told AFP on Wednesday.

In another of the race’s hot debates, Lasso has threatened to revoke the political asylum Ecuador has granted its most famous guest, Assange. Correa, an outspoken critic of the United States, let Assange stay at the embassy to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden over a rape allegation.

The 45-year-old Australian, who denies the accusation, says he fears Sweden would send him to the United States to face trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/ecuador-decides-its-future-and-maybe-assanges-in-runoff-4595965/

Government plans to change security marks of banknotes every 3-4 years

(Representational Image) (Representational Image)

To check counterfeiting, the government plans to change security features of higher denomination banknotes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 every 3-4 years in accordance with global standards. The move comes in the wake of recovery of a large amount of fake Indian currency notes in last four months after demonetisation. The issue was discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting on Thursday attended by senior officials of the ministries of Finance and Home, including Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.

Advocating the move, Home Ministry officials said most of the developed countries change security features of their currency notes every 3-4 years and therefore, it is absolutely necessary for India to follow this policy. The change in design of Indian currency notes of higher denominations was long due. Till its demonetisation, there had been no major change in the Rs 1,000 note since its introduction in 2000. Changes in the old Rs 500 note, which was launched in 1987, were carried out more than a decade ago.

The newly introduced notes had no additional security features and were similar to those in the old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, officials said. A close look by the investigators on some of the recently seized fake notes found that at least 11 of the 17 security features in the new Rs 2,000 notes had been replicated.

These included the transparent area, watermark, Ashoka Pillar emblem, the letters ‘Rs 2000’ on the left, the guarantee clause with the Reserve Bank of India Governor’s signature and the denomination number in Devanagari on the front, officials said.

Besides, the motif of ‘Chandrayaan’, the ‘Swachh Bharat’ logo and the year of printing had been copied on the reverse side. Although the print and paper quality of the seized counterfeits was poor, they resembled genuine notes. The officials said the change of security features of currency notes in every 3-4 years will lead to curbing of counterfeiting to a great extent.

Those who were arrested recently along with fake notes with face value of Rs 2,000 have told investigators that the notes were printed in Pakistan with the help of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and had been smuggled into the country through Bangladesh, the officials claimed.

A study conducted by the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, in 2016 pegged the value of fake Indian currency notes in circulation at Rs 400 crore.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/government-plans-to-change-security-marks-of-banknotes-every-3-4-years-4596022/

Ruben Loftus-Cheek open to positional change at Chelsea

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season. (Source: Reuters) Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season. (Source: Reuters)

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is open to playing in different positions in order to force his way into contention for a starting spot with the Premier League leaders.

The England under-21 international has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season, compared to 17 last year, as manager Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system and the club’s lack of European fixtures have reduced his playing opportunities.

“I’m always learning and I’m open to playing different positions,” the 21-year-old told The Times. “That can only be good for my development.”

Loftus-Cheek played two games for the under-21 side last week, scoring a brace in a 4-0 win over Denmark on Monday.

“I think I have to be on it, when you don’t play much and you get a chance to play,” he said. “I train hard and I train to the best of my abilities so when these opportunities do come, you’re hungry from the first whistle.”

Chelsea, who hold a comfortable 10-point cushion over the chasing pack, host 16th-placed Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/ruben-loftus-cheek-open-to-positional-change-at-chelsea-4592766/

7 Simple Ways To Motivate People And Inspire Change No Matter What Life Throws Your Way

Sometimes you’ve got to carry the ‘baton’ of change and pass it on. You’ve got to touch people’s lives, inspire them and make a change. Without thinking what’s in store for you, you have to selflessly lift people and show them how they can bring a change in the world.

Here are some life situations and how your suggestions can help people to do better in life.

1. If someone is concerned about the plight of dogs

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You can help your friends who want to help dogs and lessen the atrocities faced by them, by introducing them to animal welfare organisation. Accompany them to be volunteers to rescue dogs who are injured in accidents. Help them open a dog rescue organisation of their own, and organise meals for the street dogs.

2. If someone went through a breakup and wants to get over it

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You can’t do much here, but you can listen. Listen to what they are saying and don’t judge them for being vulnerable. Suggest a vacation where you and that person would enjoy the cool and calm of the Mother Nature as she has the power to heal the fiercest of wounds. Be with them when they’re feeling low and insist on being with them when they feel like crying it over alcohol. Stop them from texting and show that there’s a whole new life waiting for them to start afresh.

3. If someone is trying to lose weight

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The least you can do is not tempt them by eating cake or sweets in front of them. The best you can do is go with them for morning walks and keep a check on their diet. Don’t be too pushy and let them workout at their pace. Introduce them to healthy eating and keep sharing weight loss success stories with them.

4. If someone is studying hard for exams

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Do not disturb them with time-consuming talks, texts or forwards. Cut off all kinds of text/WhatsApp conversations with them. Take their revisions or see if they need your help for answers or for a steaming cup of coffee to stay awake. Tell them to give their best and to not think about the results.

5. If someone is being sexually harassed at the workplace

Ann E. Cascanett

This one is sensitive. You have to handle it with great care and secrecy as the person would like you to do so. Tell them to be a whistleblower as they would set up a fine example for others to follow. Be it investigation or the mere thought of reporting it to the HR, stand firmly by them while doing so.

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6. If someone is working on a startup

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Here the best is by offering them monetary help to run their new business. Your friend would always remember this gesture as people remember the help offered when they need it. Keep inspiring them by sharing motivating start-up stories and tell them to not give up on their dreams.

7. If someone is trying to be a nice person

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Help them by concentrating on their niceness and help them to bring out the best. Tell them to forget their past and focus on the good they can do by being charming. Appreciate the good they do to people.

To inspire people, you’ve got to have a big, warm heart. How do you plan to motivate people to make a change? Let us know in the comments section…

Also read: 5 Non-IITians Who Went On To Make It Big In Life And Left Us Inspired
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://www.indiatimes.com/culture/who-we-are/7-simple-ways-to-motivate-people-and-inspire-change-no-matter-what-life-throws-your-way-274016.html

Picking up a clean habit

By Parameswaran Iyer

Halfway into the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), grassroots leaders like sarpanches, especially women, are playing an increasingly pivotal role in accelerating progress. Since the launch of the programme in October 2014, sanitation coverage in India has gone up from 42% to 62%, the number of people defecating in the open in rural India has come down from about 550 million to about 350 million, with 175,000 villages, 120 districts and three states becoming open defecation-free (ODF). SBA is now well on track to achieve an ODF India by October 2, 2019.

Unlike earlier sanitation programmes, SBA is not a toilet construction programme but a behaviour change mass movement. It is relatively easy to build a road, bridge or an airport. But trying to change human behaviour is complex. The sheer scale of the operation makes it a gargantuan task. While mass-media campaigns are useful, the real key to bringing about behaviour change on the ground is to have grassroots-level trained and incentivised motivators using interpersonal communication with villages and households to ‘trigger’ demand for toilets and cleanliness.

States and districts across the country are rapidly increasing the number of motivators. But this has to be accelerated further. The plan is to have over 500,000 ‘boots on the ground’, on an average, one per village across the nation. In addition to making the SBA a people’s movement, it is also critical to demystify toilet technology and practices.

The most ‘appropriate’ technology for rural areas, in terms of cost, sustainability and reuse, is the twin-pit model. While this model is the predominant one in rural India, and is effective in most contexts, more efforts and marketing are needed to persuade rural households to adopt it.

Emptying one (while it is closed) of the two toilet pits by the householder himself is also a simple, safe and environmentally friendly task, with the organic compost generated ideal for agricultural purposes. The more frequently senior officials and public personalities empty toilet pits themselves as examples to others, the more rural households will be persuaded to do it themselves and the faster will be the adoption of the twin-pit technology.

Beyond behaviour change and appropriate technology practices, it is also crucial that swachhta, or cleanliness, becomes ‘everyone’s business’. To this end, all sectors, including the private sector, are increasingly getting involved to mainstream sanitation into their core work. The private sector is stepping up to the plate. One example of whichis the Tata Trusts volunteering to recruit and finance 600 young professionals, one for each district in India, to support collectors in accelerating SBA.

In the public sector, in addition to organising ‘Swachhata Pakhwara’ (cleanliness fortnight), each central ministry has prepared a Swachhata Action Plan (SAP), including a budget line, which will integrate sanitation in their main line of business. An estimatedRs 5,000 crore have been earmarked for Swachhata-related activities by all ministries in 2017-18.

Cleaning up of iconic places, such as the Golden Temple in Punjab and Tirupati Temple in Tamil Nadu, and bringing them to international standards of public hygiene and of the gram panchayats along the Ganga are other examples of Swachhata being mainstreamed in other sectors and spaces.

Finally, one of the most crucial elements of the SBA is the verification and sustaining of results. This is especially important for the programme’s credibility. Currently, a multi-tier process is being followed with district-level, statelevel and national-level third-party verification being carried out. These efforts will need to be strengthened and mainstreamed in the days ahead.

In addition, the sustaining of ODF is also crucial since its achievement is not conceived of as a one-off exercise, unlike earlier government programmes. Achieving ODF status is one thing, but sustaining it through creation of local mechanisms and incentives is another. A sustainability protocol has been developed by the ministry of drinking water and sanitation together with the states, and this needs to be effectively implemented. The ministry too has a robust management information system, which tracks progress down to the individual household level.

At the halfway mark, the SBA is making good progress, but the teams, both at the Centre and in states, are conscious that there is a long and challenging road ahead. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the near-unanimous support of political leaders across states, civil servants and, most importantly, the leadership of grassroots-level leaders like sarpanches, especially women, there is now a quiet confidence across the country that the Jan Andolan will succeed.

(From “Income Inequality, Robots and a Path to a Fairer Society”)
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-commentary/swachh-bharat-picking-up-a-clean-habit/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

ECB begins formal process of altering constitution for new T20 tournament

NEW T20 TOURNAMENT

ECB begins formal process of altering constitution for new T20 tournament

Rob Johnston • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 12:01 AM

“Our members have seen the evidence for why the new T20 proposal is the right way to reach new audiences, create new fans and fuel the future of the game,” Graves said. © Getty

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has begun the process of changing its Articles of Association on Tuesday (March 28), to allow for the introduction of a new T20 competition. The decision to change the constitution was ratified with the unanimous support of the ECB’s board and was described as a “watershed” moment for the game by the ECB chairman Colin Graves.

The ECB’s current constitution requires all 18 first class counties to be included in any competition sanctioned by the governing body. With the introduction of the new eight-team tournament, this requires changing, although the changes will make clear this applies only to the new competition and does not affect the other county competitions.

The ECB’s 41 members – the 18 first class counties, 21 non-first class counties, the MCC and the Minor Counties Association – will now have 28 days to agree to the changes. A three-quarters majority, or 31 votes, is required to enact the change and it is understood that this should be a formality. The 21 non-first class counties, led by Devon, will be voting for the measure.

“The ECB board today gave their unanimous support to trigger a formal process to change the game’s Articles of Association and allow a new T20 competition,” said Graves.

“Our members have seen the evidence for why the new T20 proposal is the right way to reach new audiences, create new fans and fuel the future of the game.

“Together, we can now take a huge opportunity to not only create a deeper engagement with those who currently follow cricket but to attract a whole new audience and ensure the sustainability of our game. This is a watershed moment for us all to make the whole game stronger.”

The ECB also announced a review of their Articles of Association more generally, covering financial regulations and expected to take six to nine months, as well as a governance review, led by deputy chairman of ECB Ian Lovett, which will include looking at the board structure and composition of ECB committees.

Also announced was a change to the Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the ECB planning to sign MoUs with a single entity in each county rather than separate ones, as now, between first class counties, the county boards, the premier leagues and the minor counties.

“Two years ago, on becoming Chairman of the ECB, I promised members open discussion, transparency and accountability with my main objective of attracting more revenue into the game to be passed onto its stakeholders,” said Graves.

“The Articles and Governance reviews I am announcing today are very much part of delivering this vision. Good governance is critical to effective decision-making, minimising risk and protecting reputation – it’s essential for the future success of cricket.”

© Cricbuzz

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Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

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Bill Nye On Trump’s Climate Orders

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Bill Nye the Science Guy joins Lawrence to react to Trump’s rollback of Obama climate change rules, Spicer’s non-answer about whether the president still believes climate change is a hoax, and the Trump budget’s proposed cuts to U.S. science agencies

The Last Word with Lawrence O’ Donnell More

The Last Word with Lawrence O’ Donnell

Lawrence O’Donnell brings his extraordinary background in politics and entertainment to “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” airing weeknights on MSNBC. Drawing upon his experience as a former chief of staff on the Senate Finance Committee and as an Emmy-winning executive producer and writer of “The West Wing,” O’Donnell gives the last word and rewrites the most compelling stories of the day.
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Source: https://news.yahoo.com/news/bill-nye-trumps-climate-orders-195243336.html?.tsrc=jtc_news_index

Portugal airport to be named after Cristiano Ronaldo near his hometown

The name change attracted a lot of attention locally, with many politicians opposing it. (Source: Reuters) The name change attracted a lot of attention locally, with many politicians opposing it. (Source: Reuters)

Welcome to Cristiano Ronaldo Airport.

That will be the message awaiting passengers in the Madeira Islands from Wednesday, when the local airport will be renamed after the local star by the regional government.

Ronaldo is expected to attend a ceremony at the airport outside his hometown of Funchal on Wednesday, a day after his Portugal side plays Sweden in the city in a friendly.

The name change attracted a lot of attention locally, with many politicians opposing it.

Portugal’s squad landed on Monday at the airport displaying the trophy it won at the 2016 European Championship in France.

Funchal also has a Ronaldo statue and a museum about the player, as well a hotel complex named after him.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/portugal-airport-to-be-named-after-cristiano-ronaldo-near-his-hometown-4589528/