A 70-year-old man was allegedly stoned to death by some monkeys in a village here, putting the police in a fix as the deceased’s family wants an FIR to be registered against them. The incident took place on October 17 in Tikri village of the district. Circle officer Ramala Rajiv Pratap Singh told PTI that the deceased was sleeping near a pile of bricks when some monkeys jumped on the bricks. The pile of bricks collapsed and fell on Dharampal, leaving him injured. He was taken to hospital where he succumbed. Giving a different narrative, Krishnapal Singh, the brother of the deceased, in his complaint has said that Dharampal was collecting woods for a havan when he was attacked by the monkeys. Bricks were thrown at his head and chest, and he succumbed to injuries at the hospital.“We have submitted a written complaint against the monkeys, but the police is terming it as an accident,” he said. He said they will now meet senior officials and request them to initiate action in this regard.
A man faked his death allegedly for making insurance claim, but ran out of luck as the police nabbed him on suspicion that he had killed a labourer and burnt his body in his car. Aakash, a resident of Chandigarh, was arrested on Tuesday from Palwal Railway Station in a joint operation of the Sirmour Police and the Government Railway Police, Haryana, Sirmaur Superintendent of Police Rohit Malpani said Wednesday. Prima facie, Aakash and his family wanted to grab the huge life insurance money, the value of which will be estimated after further investigation and interrogation of the accused, the SP said. He said Aakash’s nephew Ravi Kumar (29) was also involved in planning and executing the alleged crime and he was arrested on Monday from Himachal Pradesh’s Nahan.The accused will be produced in a court to seek his remand for interrogation, police said.
A group of environmental activists of Odisha’s Berhampur are engaged in retrieving national flags made of paper and plastic that have been thrown all around the city after the Republic Day celebrations.They are members of Berhampur Sabuja Bahini. “We were hurt to see our national flag thrown in garbage dumps, drains and on the roadside,” said BSB president Sibaram Panigrahy. “Many people buy paper and polythene flags to express nationalistic fervour on Republic Day. However, after a few hours, they have no hesitation in disposing of these flags in a derogatory manner,” said BSB member P. Aravind Kumar.In its bid to create awareness among the people to respect the Tricolour, the BSB started its drive to salvage the discarded flags on January 27. During the drive, which continued on Monday, the activists told the residents that the national flag is like a picture of deities and it should not be disposed of unceremoniously. The Tricolours salvaged by this group are being cleaned up and stored. “We will reuse them in future events,” said BSB secretary M. Dilip Kumar. The members of the group said they were happy to see that the use of polythene flags had gone down drastically in Berhampur in comparison to the Independence Day celebrations last year.
Six persons were injured when a Rajasthan Roadways bus, in which they were travelling, plunged into a drain near Chaksu on National Highway-12, about 40 km from here, early morning on February 5. The accident took place at a bridge near the Sheetla dam in Chaksu town.The bus was pulled out of the drain with the help of a crane, while the passengers were rescued through boats. Three of those injured were referred to Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital in Jaipur for treatment.The civil defence and police teams were pressed into service for the rescue operation, while the local villagers rushed to pull the passengers out of water. The bus with about 30 passengers was travelling from Jaipur to Kota.According to the initial reports, the driver lost control when the bus was crossing the bridge. The bus fell into the drain after breaking the railing of the bridge.
The current vaccine for whooping cough, or pertussis, may keep you or your baby healthy, but it may not stop either of you from spreading the disease, a new animal study suggests. Baboons can harbor and spread the disease even after receiving the vaccine, researchers have found. The study adds to growing evidence that the acellular pertussis vaccines, in which only parts of the pertussis bacterium are injected into the bloodstream to elicit a protective immune response, are not as good at controlling the disease as older, whole-cell vaccines were. However, a vaccine manufacturer argues that it’s too early to conclude that a similar effect occurs in humans.Pertussis starts out like a normal cough but causes severe coughing fits and can be lethal to infants. By the time of diagnosis, it is often untreatable with antibiotics. Historically associated with the slums of pre-World War II Europe and America, the disease has made a powerful resurgence in recent years. The United States alone experienced about 50,000 cases of pertussis last year, with 18 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase could be due in part to more sensitive tools to diagnose pertussis that were widely introduced in 2010, or to pockets of children whose parents oppose vaccination. However, previous research also indicated that immunity in people vaccinated with the acellular vaccines, introduced in the 1990s, is less long-lasting than in users of the older, whole-cell vaccine.The current study goes a step further and suggests that people who get the newer vaccine may still become infected and spread the germ. Tod Merkel, a microbiologist, and colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration in Bethesda, Maryland, examined response to the acellular vaccine in infant baboons, an animal that responds to the bacterium responsible for pertussis similarly to people. The researchers infected four groups of baboons , each group containing three or four babies, by anesthetizing the animals and dripping a pertussis-containing solution into their noses. One group had already received the standard three doses of the acellular vaccine; a second received the whole-cell vaccine. Members of the third group had previously had whooping cough. Those in the fourth group had not had the disease and received no vaccine before being exposed.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(*)As expected, the unvaccinated baboons developed severe whooping cough, while the baboons that had been sick previously remained well, the research team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Both groups of vaccinated animals also remained healthy. However, the germ persisted an average of 35 days in the throats of baboons vaccinated with the acellular shot, though it grew less thickly than it did in the throats of the sick, unvaccinated animals. Baboons vaccinated with the whole-cell shot harbored the germ for 18 days, and it did not grow at all in animals that previously had recovered from pertussis.In another experiment, two baboons that had received acellular vaccines were exposed to whooping cough germs and then each was put in a cage 2 days later with previously unexposed baboons. In both cases, the vaccinated animals transmitted the germ to their cage mates, who developed pertussis. Follow-up studies showed that animals vaccinated with the acellular shots did not generate sufficient numbers of a particular variety of white blood cell to fight the pertussis infection as well as those receiving the older vaccine.The researchers conclude that a new vaccine may be needed to provide so-called herd immunity, the ability of a community to stop an infection from spreading, and protect vulnerable babies from pertussis. “There’s a difference between protecting individuals from illness and bringing down the incidence of pertussis in the population,” Merkel says. “To do both we may need a different vaccine.”Sanofi Pasteur of Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, which makes one of the two acellular pertussis vaccines used in the United States, issued a statement cautioning that the study was not designed to evaluate the extent to which vaccination reduced transmission. “It cannot be said with certainty that these findings are directly applicable to humans,” the company said it its statement.But other scientists applauded the work. “This is a very strong paper, even though it is a small sample,” says James Cherry, a vaccinologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. Cherry argues that the efficacy of the acellular vaccines in trials held in Europe and Africa in the 1990s appeared high because case definitions did not count people with mild infections. The acellular vaccine was introduced because of public concerns and lawsuits arising from the whole-cell vaccine, which sometimes caused high fever and even seizures.As for the claim that the new result may not be applicable to people, Merkel notes that, for ethical reasons, it may be difficult to duplicate the study in humans, as that would require purposefully exposing experimental subjects to a 3-month bout of pertussis.
China’s antigraft campaign has ensnared a leading animal cloning researcher, according to Chinese news reports. The well-respected financial news magazine Caijing says that Li Ning, an animal breeding specialist at China Agricultural University (CAU), is under investigation for allegedly transferring research funds to companies in which he holds majority shares; he has not been seen in public since early July, the report says.When Chinese President Xi Jinping launched an anticorruption campaign at the end of 2012, he vowed to catch both “tigers and flies,” meaning officials at all strata of the nation’s leadership. The biggest catch so far is China’s former internal security czar Zhou Yongkang. Li, who was elected to the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2007 at age 45, is the first academician targeted in the campaign.Li is a principal investigator on 18 major research projects in China, including the country’s well-funded transgenic project, according to CAU’s website. He is the director of CAU’s national key lab for agricultural biotechnology and leads teams in big animal cloning, stem cell research, and genetic engineering. Li’s bio also boasts of being a partner in the PigBioDiv2 project, a European Union–China collaboration under the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme that aimed to assess diversity of pig breeds. According to Leif Andersson, an animal geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden, Li provided tissue samples of Chinese domestic pigs to the project, which ended several years ago.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(*)Using transgenic technology to breed new varieties of crops and livestock is among more than a dozen major projects in China’s 2006 to 2020 science and technology plan. The transgenic project was launched in 2008, with a planned investment of 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion at 2008 exchange rates, or $3.25 billion at today’s exchange rate). Critics say the transgenic project has concentrated too much funding in too few hands with little accountability and few significant results.According to the Caijing report, Li has access to tens of millions of dollars of research funds. He has also registered several biotech companies over the years, in which he holds controlling shares and serves as company director or manager. He allegedly transferred research funds into some of the companies, the report says. Li could not be reached for comment, and CAU has not commented on the investigation.China’s anticorruption campaign had been cleaning house in academia long before Li’s detention. So far, leaders at 18 universities have been caught up in the sweep, according to various news reports. Last year, Chen Yingxu, a prominent water researcher, was charged with embezzlement. Earlier this year, Shen Weichen, the newly appointed party chief of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST)—counterpart to AAAS (publisher of ScienceInsider) in China—was detained by the party’s disciplinary body, though his case was not related to his work at CAST. Anticorruption inspection teams have also been sent to major research universities such as Fudan University in Shanghai and the Ministry of Science and Technology. And two cases of alleged bribery by university officials were made public yesterday as well.No official announcement has been made about Li’s case. It could become a test case for the revised bylaws of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, which list corruption as one of the grounds for stripping away the honorary title of academician.
If you find yourself looking around the table over the holiday and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m related to these people,” just be glad you’re not a mongoose. If you were, you might be thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve mated with all of these people.” For the cat-sized mammals, native to central and east Africa, it’s safer to have sex with a close relative than risk death by venturing out into the world to find a mate, according to a study published online today in Biology Letters. Newly formed mongoose groups have a mortality rate three times higher than that of established ones, and mongooses that encroach on neighboring groups are often met with violence. Perhaps consequently, an analysis of 14 packs of mongooses in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park finds that inbreeding is the norm: 63.6% of the pups were conceived between two members of the same natal group, the social group into which an individual is born. Twenty-seven percent of offspring were conceived by mothers that bred within their natal group and were related to their mates by a coefficient of relationship of 0.25 or higher—the equivalent genetic similarity between half siblings or a grandparent/grandchild. Additionally, 7.5% of pups were conceived by parents related by 0.5 or more—full siblings or a parent/child. Father/daughter incest occurred eight times during the study, but interestingly, mother/son breeding was not observed—perhaps due to the fact that males take longer to reach sexual maturity and their mothers are dead by the time they’re ready to mate. Researchers speculate that, at least for mongooses, the genetic problems caused by inbreeding are perceived to be less dangerous than leaving the pack in search of new mates.
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Vodka Pani Puri! Yes, this unlikely pairing has debuted in New York, symbolic of the new India being introduced to the American public. Forget Kiplingesque elephants, huge ornate wooden doors and bronze murals that have represented generic Indian décor in the hospitality industry until now. Dancing apsaras, many, many sitars and kama sutra touches have been the shorthand for an American stereotype of India. Today’s America is being curried by contemporary India – edgy, idiosyncratic and hip. A new breed of hybrid entrepreneurs, many born in this country but still connected to India by invisible bonds, are setting their mark on the entertainment and dining-out scene. Some are reinterpreting India for the mainstream while others are exploring and invading the mainstream scene itself, from Atlanta to Arkansas to Texas – be it with Italian or Mediterranean cuisine, franchising popular dining concepts and sometimes creating their own, bringing their financial smarts and technical savvy to new ventures. Many of these second generation Indians grew up in two parallel worlds, living in America, but traveling back to the homeland so often that they are in tune with the happening India of today.Hemant Phul of New York is one such entrepreneur. He came to the United States as a teen with his parents, but visited India frequently and later married a woman from Bombay.“My wife Bhavna likes to party and we found out that there is a lack of decent places for Indians to party,” he says. “This whole party scene, which was in Bombay, was missing for a lot of the Indians over here.” So he decided to open up Earth NYC, a Bombay style lounge in Manhattan, and tapped his friend, fashion designer Manish Malhotra to design the space.“What we were trying to do was replicate Bombay nightlife in New York,” he recalls. “I really partied hard in Bombay. Everyone living there, at that age, wants to go out and party.” Payal Saha’s Kati Roll co. dishes out succulent soft parathas with egg, chicken tikka, beef tikka, achari paneer or aloo masala.On opening night, New York’s Bombay crowd turned out in full force. He says: “They party hard – and even in the blizzard we had a full house till 4 a.m. That’s the Bombay crowd! There’s 12 or 14 inches of snow outside – and they’re out partying.”Indian Americans, partying and in type of lounge? Phul says, “I think so. Everything Indian here is so kitsch. It is so India in your face. You open up an Indian restaurant – there are thals on the wall, there are palatial doors or ornate objects everywhere. You know, that’s not India.“The real Bombay scene is not like that; it’s very different. The perception of India should change in the minds of the westerners. We can be hip and cool also. The Americans are getting quite sophisticated. It doesn’t have to be snake charmers all the time.”While Earth NYC is a place to gather, a watering hole, it also offers Bombay-centric snacks. “Indian food has become a destination thing where you might try it once a month but not on an everyday basis. That’s not what people do in Bombay. There are light foods available so I’ve brought in the street foods of Bombay. That’s what I’m serving till 4 in the morning, whether it’s vada pao, masala pao, whether it’s frankies, chicken lollipops, Manchurian – anything you can imagine on the streets of Bombay. If it’s not on the streets, it won’t be on the menu.” Tinku Saini of Clay Oven: Our goal was to bring Indian food out of the main strip mall and into the mainstream without sacrificing authenticity.How about Vodka Pani Puri? Now that’s not served on the streets of Bombay, is it? Not losing his cool, Phul retorts, “Vodka isn’t – pani puri is. That’s our twist to it! A lot of people ask me so what Indian cocktails are you making. I tell them there are no Indian cocktails. We don’t put rose water in our martinis, we don’t put mangoes in our martinis. A martini is a martini is a martini, no matter where you go!”As a teenager, Phul’s first job was packing meat in New York’s meat packing district, after which he worked in Indian restaurants as busboy, waiter and then manager. So he’s soiled his hands? “Yes, absolutely. I’ve done dishes, I’ve done all that good stuff.”Although he went into IT and worked as the chief technology officer in advertising, the restaurant business was always on his mind. He says, “Once you know it you always yearn to go back because you know exactly what’s involved and there’s a lot of energy.”While Phul’s NYC Earth is the new kid on the block, young Indian Americans have been trying to bring the India they know to the cities they now inhabit. A few years back Payal Saha introduced the well loved street food, kati rolls, to Manhattan.The Kati Roll Co. is small, crowded and the waiting line stretches down to the sidewalk. Yet, with its orange exposed brick walls, Bollywood film posters and friends clustered around copper tables, it’s a happy, energetic place. After all, this is where you get a taste of a unique Indian street food right in the middle of New York. Situated in the frenetic West Village, the tiny spot is surrounded by countless other eateries with idiosyncratic names and food offerings.There is non-stop traffic on this street and the people who head up the stairs to this little restaurant come for its single item – kati rolls, succulent soft parathas, stuffed with unda (egg), chicken tikka, beef tikka, achari paneer or aloo masala. Nandini Mukherjee of Indian Bread company: “We wanted a fast-casual Indian cafe that reflects the mindset of the global Indian who enjoys parathas as much as paninis”Saha’s inspiration came from eating kati rolls during her childhood in Calcutta, where they are the most celebrated street food. The Kati Roll Company is doing so well that Saha is opening a second one in the diamond district. This year she’s also ventured into fine dining with Babu, a restaurant devoted completely to Calcutta food .“I don’t even have one thing on the menu which is not from Calcutta. It’s a very mixed menu to hreflect the city’s multicultural makeup,” she says. “Thus you have traditional Bangla food, Indian Chinese (the country’s oldest Chinatown is in Calcutta) – there’s also club food or continental food – known as Anglo-Indian food because of the British influence. Then there are also dishes particular to Calcutta’s Muslim population, such as a biryani with potatoes, and chicken Rezala, which has a yogurt base.”If you walk into this new restaurant you’ll be hard pressed to say it’s Indian. The décor is simple with some colonial influences, but nothing overtly Indian about it. Her frequent visits to Calcutta have kept her on top of the dining habits in her hometown and people’s changing lifestyles: “There’s lots of changes domestically. Earlier there were very few restaurants for Bangla food, but now people are eating out more and there are at least four good restaurants all serving the traditional dishes.”Most of her clients are drawn from the mainstream and Saha is trying some innovative marketing. For the past few weeks she’s listed no prices on the menu and patrons are invited to pay whatever they think the meal is worth. She introduced the concept so diners would not have to pay for the birth pangs or staff errors, but surprisingly, most people have been paying about what she thinks would have been her real price. At Ron Parikh’s Genghis Grill, guests select their own meats, vegetables and sauces and these are prepared on a hot grill by chefs who create some high drama as they prepare the meals.Bringing the home cuisine to America but from a new perspective has also been the motivation of Sunitha Ramaiah’s Bombay Talkie. Ramaiah, a lawyer turned restaurateur, admits that she had a vision of a modern take on an Indian teashop for a very, very long time and what made her choose the present time was her involvement in the venture capital industry. She recalls a report that American and international venture capital companies abroad were investing in companies in India so that they could create franchises all over the world.“So my thinking was, instead of getting a franchise from India, why not create my own franchise here?” says Ramaiah. “We do not have prepackaged goods for standardized recipes, so I thought why not have fresh, healthy foods and create my own business?”In its hip New York incarnation, Bombay Talkie is more of a teahouse than a tea-stall, and it is located in a two-story 18th century building in Chelsea, the happening downtown area with galleries, nightclubs and stylish shopping. Ramaiah decided to keep the design clean and starkly modern, hiring noted architect Thomas Juul-Hansen, who has designed restaurants like 66 and all of David Yurman’s fashionable retail stores.She wanted to invoke the spirit of the Indian dhaba or tea-stall and commissioned J.P. Krishna, India’s leading billboard artist, to paint six huge canvases inspired by Bollywood posters, such as Zeenat Aman in Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram and Rekha in Umrao Jaan.Ramaiah got the pros in the business involved: Jehangir Mehta was consulting chef and Didier Virot of Aix restaurant created the wine list. Executive chef Subu Mukherjee and executive sous chef, Gabriel D’Costa offer a mix of street foods, roadside offerings and curbside treats.The menu is a blend of simple, yet eclectic authentic Indian street foods as well as soups and salads and brunch dishes that are India-inspired. In the street bites, there are dosas, papdi chat, kathi rolls and that all time rest stop favorite, Kolivada Macchi, crispy red snapper with shoestring potatoes. You can also find teas, sandwiches and light snacks in a section titled The Return of the Raj. Ron Parikh of Genghis GrillThe dinner menu has roadside favorites like Chicken Chettinad, (Sauteed chicken in red chilies and cardamom), Chicken Dhaniwal Korma (Ginger, poppy and melon seed chicken in a cilantro cream sauce), Nargisi Kofta (Scotch eggs enveloped in lamb with a rose water cashew sauce) and Nilgiri Coconut Kebabs (Lamb meatballs in a South Indian sauce of coconut and mustard seeds.)Tea is understandably the raison d’etre for a tea shop and Ramaiah has brought in the flavors of India – Nilgiri tea, Darjeeling tea and Assam green tea, as well as South Indian Filter Kofi and Cardamom Coffee. Desserts are definitely very New York with a touch of India, and include Mariebelle Cardamom Ganache – dark chocolate terrine infused with a pot of dark chocolate sauce and garnished with pistachio. Now how many dhabas would serve you that?There are also some fun drinks which you won’t find in a tea-stall in Ooty – cocktails named after popular Bollywood movies! So you could try Ankur – The Seedling – fresh pomegranate seeds and juice, premium tequila, Rose’s lime cordial and Cointreau. And if you’re suffering from unrequited love, try Umrao Jaan, composed of Bombay Gin, limejuice and saffron syrup – guaranteed to drown out your sorrows.An eclectic mix of cultures, Bombay Talkie doesn’t hit you over the head with carved elephants and ornate doors. While black and white Hindi film classics from the 50’s and 60’s play on the large flat TV, global music has been incorporated into the tracks by Grammy award winning producer Andres Levin of Fun Machine for ambiance.The young servers at the 65-seat restaurant are also quite international, dressed in hip tunics and pants designed by Sorelle Firenze. When it came to designing the menus, Ramaiah turned to another very New York influence, Vogue design director Anna Penford, who also designed the logo for Bombay Talkie.The end result is very much a blend of Ramaiah’s childhood in Ooty, her growing up in this country and her American education. She says, “There’s a different kind of energy. It’s not as if you’re taking India and transplanting it here. It’s kind of translated for the people here. I guess that’s partly because we’ve spent so much of our lives in America that it’s sort of natural because we grew up on two different continents and two different countries.”Ramaiah has kept her prices down. She says, “I worked in a law firm. I had many friends who worked in banking and other professions. And nobody at the end of the day wanted to go home and cook. So we went out and we ate out all the time. The problem was that nobody wanted to pay like $50 per person every day on a meal.”She said she wanted to create a space where people would come over and over again because they liked the food and it was affordable: “It suits the American market, because people do love to eat out in New York, especially young people, and why should they have to pay a fortune to do so?”Her goal is to make Bombay Talkie a viable franchise. She says: “My job has always been to grow this business, to get into the pre-packaged market, all sorts of things. Whether I succeed or not, that’s up to God, but these are my plans.” Hemant Phul with Manish Malhotra at NYC Earth’s opening: “What we were trying to do was replicate Bombay nightlife in New York”If Ramaiah gave up the world of law for that of chai, Nandini Mukherjee, a Calcuttan, left architecture and design to bake bread! “I come from a family where cooking was considered on par with any other art form,” she says. “My year at Parsons was spent experiencing and exploring the fascinating New York City budget gourmet scene.”She says that while she enjoyed great meals from all over the globe in New York City, the Indian food was disappointing: “The choice was between two day old mass-manufactured curry at prices that you could afford or formal, sit-down wonderful meals that you’d have to spend days saving for. It was during those days that an idea called Indian Bread Co started taking shape. I dreamt of a fast-casual Indian café serving fresh, flavorful, hassle-free Indian food.”She started the Indian Bread Company in 2003 with her partner Rupali Sethi, whom she had met at New York’s Parsons School of Design. The New York Times commented: “You probably could not find a naanwich or a naanini on the streets of Delhi, but you can in Greenwich Village, now that Indian Bread Co. is making creative use of naan, the traditional Indian flatbread … stuffed parathas are like quesadilla and the kati roll is essentially a wrap, but a delicious one.”Asked as to how her establishment is different from those owned by first generation Indian Americans, Mukherjee says, “Though India has a wide variety of distinctive breads, in most Indian restaurants Indian breads are relegated to being add-ons to the main meal. The idea was to give Indian breads the center stage – our take on the bread café culture that we see around us. We wanted a fast-casual Indian café that hreflects the mindset of the global Indian who enjoys parathas as much as paninis.” While the naan and the paratha in all their avatars are kings at Indian Bread Co., there are also sides like chick pea chaat and yellow dal soup. The restaurant is very much a part of the neighborhood and Mukherjee is constantly adding new items. She is looking to grow the company either as a private company or through partners. She says, “There’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I have a vision and every single day is a step toward realizing it. Ideally, I’d like to see Indian street food included in the mainstream American fast-casual sector.”The franchise golden egg seems to be on the mind of many entrepreneurs. While many of their parents started out and built their fortunes with Burger Kings and Dunkin Donuts and Blimpies, the younger generation is going for trendier ones, those popular with the younger set – or are going even one step further and inventing their own concepts.The San Francisco Bread Company, for instance, didn’t originate in California, but in Little Rock, Arkansas. This café where breads and pastries are baked fresh every day wasn’t the invention of a California Girl or a swinging surfer, but that of Kalpesh and Ketal Makan, whose parents hail from the villages of Sisodra and Sevni in Gujarat.Kalpesh was in the real estate business and Ketal in information technology. She recalls, “When the IT sector plummeted, I decided I wanted to open a business of my own. We were weighing our options on existing franchises and when we found out the start-up cost and all the stipulations, we decided to venture out on our own. Little Rock does not have a bakery/café/coffee house concept that is tied into one restaurant. We named it San Francisco because the trolley tracks were being laid directly in front of the store. Going forward, we had the vision of franchising and the name ‘San Francisco’ had more of a jingle than ‘Little Rock.’”Both of them had grown up in the hotel business and were always the franchisee, never the franchiser. Says Ketal: “We wanted to drive the car from a franchiser’s aspect. It was tough in the beginning; we didn’t have anyone giving us a how-to book on the business.” Their first store was near a busy convention center and the Makans believe it served as a great trial and error store, with input from a wide variety of people.They now have a couple of locations and have streamlined the concept. “Our first store was financed by the bank and my husband’s parents helped us out as well,” says Ketal. “I get an average of 2-3 emails a week on enquiries about franchising. I have done zero marketing.”She says that almost two out of every three start-up restaurants fail in the first year and their challenge has been to beat those statistics. The Makans currently have four locations, and five more are scheduled to open by December 2005. Ketal recently spoke at the Leuva Patidar Convention and shared her story with young entrepreneurs. So the next time you want Marinated Chicken Basil Panini or a Honey Pecan Turkey Wrap, the place to go is San Francisco Bread Company – you may even end up getting a franchise!A group of young people in Texas have also created their own interpretation of Indian food in The Clay Pit. Tinku Saini, 34, is the oldest in the team which includes his wife Rajina Pradhan and his two cousins Amnik and Jasdeep Saini, who are in their 20’s.When Tinku and his sisters were growing up, the family owned an Indian grocery store in St. Louis where they also sold snacks and sweets. It was while working here that the siblings got a firsthand look at how happy food made people. After working as a journalist and then as an editor at the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, Tinku switched course, becoming manager at a hip new restaurant Chutney’s in Seattle. That was the inspiration for the cousins to open The Clay Pit in Austin, Texas, where Amik lived.After opening Clay Pit in Austin in 1988, they opened a second location in Dallas. So how is The Clay Pit different from the scores of Indian restaurants already on the scene? Tinku says that much of the Clay Pit concept is modeled on Chutney’s in Seattle.The concept is contemporary Indian cuisine, which Saini defines as traditional and innovative menu items served in a sophisticated, fun ambiance with friendly service and great bar offerings from martinis to mixed drinks, like Mango Pina Colada to over 80 wines hand-picked to complement the cuisine.Asked if, as second generation Indian Americans, they brought something different to the equation, Saini said: “The culture of our workplace is not that of a typical Indian restaurant, where the owners treat their employees as nothing more than that. We like to say that people work with us, not for us. That is true for chefs, waitstaff, dishwashers, everyone.”He adds, “Our goal was to bring Indian food out of the strip mall and into the mainstream without sacrificing authenticity. We wanted to create restaurants that were on par with the great restaurants of other cuisines from the standpoint of service, ambiance, bar offerings, and food quality and presentation.”All the partners feel uniquely positioned to do this because of their Indian American background: “We grew up going to nice American, Italian, Mexican, Chinese restaurants and our expectations of service and ambiance and what a great restaurant is supposed to be came from those experiences. When we ate Indian food, we did so mostly at home and did not go out to Indian restaurants.”He points out that Indian restaurants until very recently have been strip-mall establishments that do not compare to restaurants of other cuisines: “Even if the food was good, there is no ambiance and service. Many of the waiters don’t even speak English and can’t possibly explain the huge array of menu items to non-Indian clientele.”Bon Appetit magazine listed Clay Pit in their Best Ethnic Restaurants in 2002, along with big names like Tabla in New York.An important ingredient of their success was that all the owners worked in key areas of the restaurant: front of house managers, cooks, bartenders, and waiters. “Only in this way were we able to stay on top of quality control as our restaurant business grew exponentially over the years.”What was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome? Saini says, “Breaking through the stereotypes of Indian cuisine and Indian restaurants. Many people still think of Indian food as spicy or unhealthy or too exotic for the mainstream. They also do not think of Indian restaurants as having the same class as fine restaurants in other cuisines.”While many Indian entrepreneurs have tried to break that old mold and present Indian cuisine in a fresh, new way, others have adopted non-Indian cuisines into their repertoire. In fact, some young entrepreneurs ate out so much and liked what they ate – they decided to become franchisees of their favorite eateries.Al Bhakta, Ron Parikh, Jay Patel and Nik Bhakta all went to college together in the mid-90’s, in the Dallas area. They’d often eat out and their haunt was the Genghis Grill, a lively Asian stir-fry restaurant.The friends had formed the Chalak Group of Companies, focusing on restaurant investment, and started out by investing in pool halls and game rooms. When Genghis Grill offered franchises, the partners opened their first one. And when the original owners decided to sell the franchise, the Chalak Group acquired the entire chain – there are currently 10 locations in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan and Tennessee, of which three are operated by the Chalak Group.Ask Ron Parikh, chief marketing officer of the group, what attracted them to Genghis Grill and the answer is simple: “Concept, concept, concept! It is fun and lively and easy to operate from a business owner’s standpoint.” Guests select their own meats, vegetables and sauces and these are prepared on a hot grill by chefs who create some high drama as they prepare the meals. San Fransisco Bread Co’s Kalpesh Makan: ” “San Fransisco” had more of a jingle than “Little Rock””Although the partners started out by taking a small business loan for their first restaurant, the franchise entity – Genghis Grill Franchise Concepts, LP – is totally debt-free. The restaurants thrive in many different markets and there are plans to add ten more in the next two years.The fun concept is very much what the partners are all into – Dan Bhakta and Chet Bhakta are cousins of Al and Nik, and all are in their 20’s. Says Parikh, “Our parents all originate from the state of Gujarat. We are obviously desis at heart!”Ask him what’s been the most fun part of operating the franchises, and Parikh says, “Doing it together! We have a one for all, all for one mentality which is why we have been so successful to date.” With their education and different interests, they bring different strengths to the business.As more and more young entrepreneurs come of age, they are juxtaposing the foods they grew up in India with the foods they picked up in America – in its schools, workplace and malls. The resulting hybrids are bound to be intriguing, spicy and sometimes plain delicious.As Nandini Mukherjee of Indian Bread Co. says, “Given the important role food plays in our day to day lives, as well as our festivals, most Indians are passionate about food. Being involved in a field related to your passion is a dream harbored by every human being.“As more people of our generation are able to achieve a certain level in their traditionally chosen careers, they have the confidence and means to pursue their dreams.”And if your dream is to feed naanwich or kati roll or even Asian stir-fry to America, go for it! After all, the way to a nation’s heart is through its stomach. Related Items
With at least 13 Indians heading global corporations in the West, Time magazine recently described CEOs as India’s leading “export” and even suggested that the subcontinent could well be “the ideal training ground for global bosses.” For the record, it is reckoned that the total size of businesses managed by just 10 Indian-origin CEOs globally exceeded the total exports from India, which stood at $300 billion last year.Okay, cut to the marquee-blazing star-cast, the Boardroom Badshah’s residing in the highest stratosphere of the corporate peak that lesser mortals can only dream of. The elite, blue-chip dazzlers of the exclusive India Club: Shantanu Narayan of Adobe, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Prem Watsa of Fairfax financial, Anshu Jain of Deutsche, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Ivan Menezies of Diageo, Rakesh Kapoor of Reckitt Benckiser, Piyush Gupta of DBS Group Holdings, Sanjay Mehrotra of Sandisk, Rajeev Vasudeva of professional services firm Egon Zehnder and the latest Rajiv Suri of Nokia.Microsoft’s Satya NadellaWow! But what ignites this phenomenon and drives this startling hit-parade? Ask any group of business people about what makes iconic, effective leaders, and the answers are diverse. Leaders set strategy. They motivate. They create vision and mission. They build culture. Blah, blah, blah.To the next question, what should leaders really do, the answer, invariably is … get good results. How? This chilling mystery has spawned tons of leadership experts who have made an entire cottage industry of this challenging and indefinable calling mandated to translate objectives — strategic, financial, organizational — into reality. Regarding the Indian managers, observers believe it could well have been the hunger for a better lifestyle that their country could not offer; a blend of untapped talent looking desperately for the right opportunities and trigger to fire; the perfect setting of the ideal inspirational and motivational environment that is a conduit and catalyst to live the impossible dream. The brain drain was bound to happen due to the inadequate professional opportunities provided at home for driven, gifted and ambitious young corporate professionals, determined to push the envelope in their leap to the future.What is the secret behind this India-centric leadership burst in the West? At a simplistic level, the best selling author Chetan Bhagat, in his blockbuster book Five Point Someone (later made into a monster Bollywood superhit 3 Idiots) offers three simple rules to lead a sane and contented life: Whatever the hassle, problem or roadblock in life, always remember to comfort yourself by saying “Aal iz well!” Two, chase excellence, not money and success will follow. Three, life is not about going crazy hounding marks or grades. It is about pursuing your dreams.Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi.To some extent India’s head honchos may have just tuned in when Bhagat was doing his number. A 2004 study suggests that Indian corporate chiefs are partial to participative management and building meaningful relationships with their subordinates. Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi said, “You need to look at the employee and say I value you as a person and not just treat you as employee no. 4,567!”Another study found Indian managers, compared to their US counterparts, more humble. Yet another study indicated that Indian managers were future-oriented focusing on long-term strategies, something solidly backed by their stars. Narayan of Adobe is reported to have once famously said, “If you can connect all the dots between what you see today and where you want to go, then it’s not ambitious or aspirational enough.” Nadella of Microsoft quoted Oscar Wilde, “We need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable!”Finally, the perseverance factor is also just another major attribute to powering Indians on top of the West. Learning the ropes, going through the paces with utmost seriousness, diligence and discipline, without attitude or tantrums and moving up slowly, but steadily, in the corporate hierarchy, while demonstrating both loyalty and acumen all along, are qualities that have obviously paid off. Nooyi, Jain, Menezes, Narayan and Nadella have all done time and served their organization with dedication, commitment and unmatched loyalty. They didn’t happen overnight!So, at the end of the day, it has to boil down to: Empathy, inclusiveness, humility and patience re-enforced by daring to dream, the hunger to achieve and finally, the confidence & ability to succeed. Related Items
In India, more than 150,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents. That’s about 400 fatalities a day and far higher than developed auto markets like the U.S., which in 2016 logged about 40,000.Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is attempting to curb the carnage on Indian roads caused by everything from speeding two-wheelers to cars not equipped with air bags. A bill introduced in August 2016 — proposing harsher penalties for traffic offenses and requiring that automakers add safety features — has passed the lower house of parliament and is expected to go through the upper house in 2018.The wide-ranging changes are likely to boost manufacturing costs for domestic and foreign carmakers in India. The South Asian country will be the world’s third-largest car market after China and the U.S. by 2020, according to researcher IHS Automotive. The World Health Organization estimates that traffic crashes cost most countries about 3 percent of their gross domestic product.The U.K.-based non-profit Global NCAP, which studies the quality of vehicles, has over the years assigned a zero star rating to many small vehicles sold in India — an assessment that there could be life threatening injuries in a crash at 40 miles per hour. Past efforts in India to boost road safety haven’t taken off, and the success of this one will depend on how strictly it is implemented.India “has delayed 20 years in making safety features mandatory,” said Dinesh Mohan, a professor at Noida-based Shiv Nadar University. Globally, manufacturers haven’t usually added such safety elements “until and unless they were forced to do so by mandatory government regulations,” he said.A spokeswoman at India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways declined to give a timing for the new law.Indian consumers are famously price sensitive when it comes to car purchases. Low-cost and no-frills compact cars have long been sold by companies like Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki India, a unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp., Renault and Hyundai.These budget vehicles are usually priced below 400,000 rupees ($6,300), and the new law is likely to require that their manufacturers add a string of features like airbags, audio speed warnings and anti-lock braking systems.Costs for Indian automakers will shoot up by 7 or 8 percent after the passage of the new law and will be felt across the small car segment, said Deepesh Rathore, London-based director at consultancy Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.Ashwin Patil, an analyst with brokerage LKP Shares and Securities, predicts a short-term impact to the earnings of automakers from the new act and said it could be a death knell for ultra-low-priced cars in India as their cost could go up by as much as 100,000 rupees.Manufacturers sometimes offer “all safety features for the models that are sold in the international markets where they have to satisfy mandatory safety standards, while they offer minimum features for Indian models,” said Mohan.In 2015, Renault sold its Kwid in India without a frontal airbag or anti-lock braking system, earning the model a zero rating from Global NCAP at the time. The following year, it got one star for adult occupant protection after some safety features, including an airbag for the driver, were added. The brand in Latin America earned a higher three-star rating last year.Maruti Suzuki’s popular Alto car and the Tata Nano, which was launched as the world’s cheapest car, are among those that have received a zero rating from the group. The Global NCAP tests are not mandatory for vehicles to be sold in India. All the models meet local safety standards, which are presently far more lenient than global ones. Tata Motors, Renault and Hyundai didn’t respond to requests for comment.CV Raman, head of research and development at Maruti Suzuki, said car makers are investing in facilities, testing and equipment to build advanced safety features into vehicles, ahead of the deadlines set by the government. For each model, Maruti has test crashed 35 to 40 cars to ensure they meet the advanced standards, he said.About 75 to 80 percent of Maruti Suzuki’s cars will become compliant with Indian safety norms about a year before they are mandatory, the company said in a statement.Some companies like Toyota and Volkswagen haven’t made a distinction between their Indian and export versions, and have already exceeded Indian safety norms. Rajan Wadhera, president at the automotive sector of India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, said his company offers the same safety features on both domestic and export models.In the Indian market, affordability and popularity have the greatest influence on car purchases, Wadhera said. “Finally, it should be noted that it’s the customer’s choice that drives volumes than anything else.”The bill is expected to require the additional safety features on cars to be manufactured from July 1. Indian road ministry data show that 83 percent of road accident fatalities were in the age group of 18 to 60 years, or mostly the working age population.The new law will have higher penalties for offenses like drunken driving. Causes of the deaths on India’s roads range from human error to potholed streets and manufacturing defects in vehicles. Speeding caused almost 67 percent of road accidents.© 2018 Bloomberg Related Items
The body of an Indian American young man, Neil Patel, has been identified in South Macon, Georgia, and it will be treated as a homicide. Patel had been missing since Dec. 19 and the body was found two days later, but the police had not been able to identify it.The body of the 21-year-old was found behind a recreation center at Bloomfield Park in Bibb County with multiple gunshot wounds, according to 41 NBC. Authorities at the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death as a homicide, the 30th one in Bibb County in 2017.Authorities had interviewed families of those who looked similar and were reported missing. Patel’s family was in New Jersey.Patel was wearing black shorts, a blue shirt and black Converse sneakers and had hair dyed red when the body was found.His neighbors said they heard gunshots a few nights before his body was found, according to the Telegraph.“Everybody loves him here. I miss him a lot he was my roommate. He was the only person I could talk to about anything,” Patel’s former roommate Ashwani Gill said. Gill said that he met Patel on Dec. 18 before leaving for work.Patel was scheduled to go to New Jersey on Dec. 19 for the holidays. However, when Gill returned Patel was not at the house. Gill thought something was wrong when he saw that Patel’s wallet and ID were at the apartment but Xbox One and TV were missing.“All the doors inside were open, lights were on. He wasn’t there so first I thought maybe he left because he was about to leave for Christmas to New Jersey,” he told 41 NBC.His body was found two days after Patel’s friends and family filed a missing report. Patel’s friends Deion Lowe and Gill said that it was possible that Patel got mixed with the wrong crowd.There has been an increase in homicide cases in Bibb County. Patel’s death was the 30th one in 2017, up from 20 in 2016.“If we ever need prayer, we need it now,” Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said while talking to the media. “This is 30. And this is Macon, you know. This ain’t Cobb County, Fulton County, DeKalb.” He added: “God help us.” Related ItemsGeorgiaIndian American
Downplaying the desertion of three MLAs and dozens of councillors from three municipalities in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress leadership on Tuesday described it as a “temporary phase in politics”. Trinamool leaders addressed a press conference in Kolkata.Among the MLAs who joined the BJP on Tuesday were BJP leader Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu, Roy elected from Bijpur on Trinamool ticket; Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya from Bishnupur, who won the polls in 2016 on Congress ticket and later switched sides to Trinamool; and Debendra Roy, an MLA of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from Hemtabad. All MLAs are from south Bengal.In the Kancharapra, Halishar and Naihati municipalities in North 24 Paraganas district in south Bengal, where BJP leader Mukul Roy grew up and started his political career, the BJP is now in the driver’s seat.Meanwhile, a number of councillors in the Bhatpara municipality joined the BJP, making the balance tilt in favour of the saffron party. Arjun Singh, the Trinamool leader who joined the BJP shortly before the Lok Sabha election, orchestrated the desertion in Bhatpara, where he was the municipal chairperson till recently. Elections to the civic bodies in the State are scheduled for 2020, a year before the State goes to the polls. “This is no crisis at all. I refuse to call it a crisis when some opportunists have switched sides. We are keeping an eye on the situation,” Tapas Roy, Trinamool leader and chief whip in the Assembly, said. Trinamool leaders, including former Minister Madan Mitra and North 24 Parganas district party president Jyotipriya Mullick, attended the press conference and said a number of party offices of the district have been occupied by the BJP. “People of West Bengal are firmly with Mamata Banerjee. Today, only 2 of our 221 MLAs went to the BJP. One of them is the son [of Mukul Roy], a step in the right direction for BJP to encourage dynastic politics,” a tweet from the official Twitter handle of the Trinamool said. Meanwhile, stray incidents of post-poll violence were reported in the State. At Canning in State’s South 24 Paraganas district, a Trinamool activist was attacked allegedly by BJP workers. State Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was heckled by BJP supporters in Cooch Behar. A few days ago, Forest Minister Bijoy Krishna Barman’s vehicle was attacked in north Bengal.
The Assam government is set to release 335 people who have spent more than three years in detention centres after being declared foreigners. This follows the May 10 order of the Supreme Court to conditionally release such people lodged across six central jails – also serving as detention centres – and the Centre’s message on July 23 that the Foreigners’ (Tribunal) Order of 1964 need not be amended to proceed.Replying on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to a question in the 126-member Assembly on Monday, Assam Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said 1,145 people declared foreigners by 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals across the State were lodged in the detention centres till July 9 this year.