Former Sikkim CM Nar Bahadur Bhandari passes away

first_imgNar Bahadur Bhandari, one of the longest-serving chief ministers of Sikkim, died on Sunday, State government sources said.Mr. Bhandari, a three-term former Chief Minister, was 77. He is survived by his wife Dil Kumari Bhandari, a former MP, two daughters and a son. He breathed his last at a Delhi hospital this afternoon.Born in 1940 at Malbasey in West Sikkim, Mr. Bhandari was a teacher in a government school before he joined active politics. He became the Chief Minister of Sikkim for the first time in 1979 on a Janata Parishad ticket and then again in 1984 and 1989 on a Sikkim Sangram Parishad ticket. The founder of the SSP, Mr. Bhandari remained its President till his death.Known as a pragmatic and resilient leader, Mr. Bhandari was the second Chief Minister after L.D. Kazi to hold the reins of the fledgling state which officially became a part of the Indian Union in 1975. He was also a former president of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee.“I am extremely sad and shocked to know about the untimely demise of Shri Nar Bahadur Bhandari. With his passing away, Sikkim has lost a worthy son of the soil whose contribution to the state and its people are unparalleld.” Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said.last_img read more

Odisha rights panel facing a human crisis

first_imgThe Odisha Human Rights Commission has no human face to represent it now.The rights watchdog, which was till recently functioning with a single member — acting chairperson B.K. Mishra — has no representative left now with his term coming to an end.The OHRC should have one chairperson, who should be a retired High Court judge, and two other members, who should be chosen on the basis of their experience in administrative and legal fields.Justice Mishra, who was elevated as acting chairperson, had been adjudicating matters single-handedly ever since former Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik resigned from its membership on April 28, 2015. Prior to that, the post meant for the second member had been lying vacant. Justice Mishra’s term ended on August 15.Unprecedented situation“This has created an unprecedented situation. People who want to fight for their rights have nowhere to go. We have long been warning the government that the situation will come to such a pass that the OHRC will be bereft of any member,” said Biswapriya Kanungo, a human rights lawyer.For the past three years, Justice Mishra was struggling to clear the backlog as the number of cases being filed annually had touched an average 5,000 and he had to handle more than dozen cases every day.According to Mr. Kanungo, the OHRC had not been taking human rights violation cases suo motu since there was only one functional member in the commission. “After the term of Justice Mishra came to an end, the OHRC has become defunct. The sooner the government fills up the three posts, the better it will be for the commission to address complaints related to rights violation.”“The situation has become worse. In the last couple of years, there have been more than 10 major custodial torture cases. Of those, four ended in deaths of the victims. About 30% to 40% of total cases filed in the OHRC are related to police atrocities. In the absence of members in the commission, people face hopeless situation,” said Mr. Kanungo. At present, more than 11,000 cases are pending with the OHRC, while all urgent matters relating broader State issues cannot be heard.last_img read more

Protesting lawyers up the ante in Odisha

first_imgEven after the arrest of two persons, including a policeman, for their alleged involvement in an assault on an advocate last month, the protesting lawyers of the city have refused to call off their strike and, in fact, have threatened to intensify their agitation.Lawyers across the State are protesting since August 29 demanding the arrest of the policemen who allegedly assaulted the advocate in Cuttack on August 28.For the second day on Wednesday, all government offices located on the periphery of the High Court premises here were closed as the agitating lawyers picketed in front of them, restraining the employees from entering their offices. The general public too had a horrendous experience as the lawyers blocked the roads leading to banks and treasury of the locality.“Our indefinite boycott of courts and picketing in front of the government offices shall continue till Friday [September 28] when we will decide our next course of action,” said Orissa High Court Bar Association president Srikant Naik on Wednesday. Police requestThe Odisha Havildar, Constable and Sepoys Confederation, the largest police body of the State, on Wednesday reacted for the first time ever since the lawyer and police face-off started last month. The executive members of the confederation urged the protesting lawyers not to aggravate the matter further and refrain from their demand of arrests of the policemen. “We remained calm all these days as we belong to a disciplined organisation. But if the lawyers continue to build unnecessary pressure on the State government for the arrests of policemen, the confederation will come forward to give necessary protection to our innocent colleagues. If required, we may also go on strike,” said confederation president Santosh Satpathy.last_img read more

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra arrested in Odisha for tweet

first_imgDelhi-based defence analyst and journalist Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, who had courted controversy over his remarks on the Sun Temple in Konark,  was arrested in Bhubaneswar in another case on Tuesday.Mr. Iyer-Mitra’s counsel Nikhil Mehra told The Hindu over phone that the journalist was arrested in a case that related to a conversation on Twitter involving several people about the origin of Rasagola and Odisha more than a year ago.Mr. Iyer-Mitra was arrested by the Saheed Nagar police after he was questioned in connection with the case registered on September 20 under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 294, 295A and 500, and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.Earlier, the Saheed Nagar police questioned of Mr. Iyer-Mitra hours after he appeared before a Odisha Assembly House Committee headed by Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra. Five other legislators – Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo, Debiprasad Mishra, Pramila Mallick, Arun Kumar Sahoo and Sanjay Kumar Das Burma – who are members of the Committee were also present.The House Committee had summoned Mr. Iyer-Mitra for breach of privilege for allegedly making  derogatory remarks against the State legislators in social media in the wake of the controversy over his video post against the backdrop of the Konark temple. He later apologised for his remarks in an email to the Speaker of the State Assembly.Mr. Mishra said the defence analyst will appear before the Committee again on November 2 as proceedings against him remained inconclusive.The case against Mr. Iyer-Mitra in connection with his video post in which he allegedly made offensive remarks on the architecture of the Sun temple has been registered at Konark.Mr. Iyer-Mitra was earlier arrested by Odisha police in Delhi, but a court there had denied permission to police to bring him on transit remand. Instead, the court had granted Mr. Iyer-Mitra limited bail and asked him to join the investigation. Subsequently, he denied regular bail by the Supreme Court.last_img read more

NIH officials cleared of interfering in oversight of preemie study

first_imgA federal watchdog office has dismissed allegations that last year National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials improperly interfered with another federal office’s oversight of the ethics of a controversial NIH-funded study involving premature infants.At issue is the $20 million, 23-institution SUPPORT (Surfactant, Positive Pressure, and Oxygenation Randomized Trial) study, which from 2005 to 2009 studied the levels of oxygen that premature infants should receive. In early 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) found that parents of the 1316 babies in the study had not been adequately informed of risks and sent a letter imposing sanctions to the University of Alabama, Birmingham, which led the study. NIH officials publicly defended SUPPORT, which they noted used oxygen levels within the standard of care.Then in May, a public advocacy group, Public Citizen, released a flood of e-mails exchanged among NIH, HHS, and OHRP officials in which NIH recommended revisions to a second OHRP letter to the university. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) and Public Citizen asked the HHS inspector general (IG) to investigate whether NIH had improperly intervened in OHRP’s deliberations.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(*)In a six-page report dated 15 September, the HHS IG found that NIH officials did encourage OHRP to reverse its decision and offered input for the follow-up letter. But its e-mails “contained no directive or order” that OHRP take a specific position. And OHRP ultimately took a different stance from NIH, the report notes. “Our research disclosed no law, regulation, or written policy that prohibits or restricts the kind of consultation that occurred here or would make such consultations improper,” the report concludes.NIH’s interactions with OHRP were acceptable because OHRP sits within HHS and no law bars HHS officials from consulting with each other, the IG report finds. It adds that if Congress wants to make OHRP independent, it could do so, as it has for some other offices.The Chronicle of Higher Education first reported on the IG report and a second, related report released this week finding that OHRP followed correct procedures when it looked into Public Citizen’s original 2011 complaint about SUPPORT. Public Citizen’s Michael Carome told the Chronicle that the audit is “a complete whitewash.”OHRP is working on new rules for human subjects’ protections for studies involving the standard of care and should be releasing them for comment in the coming weeks or months, the Chronicle reports.last_img read more

European genetic identity may stretch back 36,000 years

first_img A reconstruction of Kostenki 14. Willerslev extracted 13 samples of DNA from the arm bone, and his graduate student Andaine Seguin-Orlando and other lab members sequenced the ancient genome to a final coverage of 2.42x, which is relatively low and means that on average each nucleotide site was read 2.4 times. From the sequence data, they found gene variants indicating that the man had dark skin and eyes. He also had about 1% more Neandertal DNA than do Europeans and Asians today, confirming what another, even older human from Siberia had shown—that humans and Neandertals mixed early, before 45,000 years ago, perhaps in the Middle East.The man from Kostenki shared close ancestry with hunter-gatherers in Europe—as well as with the early farmers, suggesting that his ancestors interbred with members of the same Middle Eastern population who later turned into farmers and came to Europe themselves. Finally, he also carried the signature of the shadowy western Asians, including a boy who lived 24,000 years ago at Mal’ta in central Siberia. If that finding holds up, the mysterious DNA from western Eurasia must be very ancient, and not solely from a wave of nomads that entered Europe 5000 years ago or so, as proposed by researchers in September.Willerslev says the data suggest the following scenario: After modern humans spread out of Africa about 60,000 years ago, they encountered Neandertals and interbred with them, perhaps in the Middle East. Then while one branch headed east toward Melanesia and Australia, another branch of this founder population (sometimes called “basal Eurasians”) spread north and west into Europe and central Asia. “There was a really large met-population that probably stretched all the way from the Middle East into Europe and into Eurasia,” Willerslev says. These people interbred at the edges of their separate populations, keeping the entire complex network interconnected—and so giving the ancient Kostenki man genes from three different groups. “In principle, you just have sex with your neighbor and they have it with their next neighbor—you don’t need to have these armies of people moving around to spread the genes.”Later, this large population was pushed back toward Europe as later waves of settlers, such as the ancestors of the Han Chinese, moved into eastern Asia. The Kostenki man does not share DNA with eastern Asians, who gave rise to Paleoindians in the Americas.Other researchers say that this new genome is important because “it is the first paper to document some degree of continuity among the first people to get to Europe and the people living there today,” says population geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, one of the authors on the triple migration model. It also is “a striking finding that the Kostenki 14 genome already has the three major European components present that we detect in modern Europeans,” says Johannes Krause of the University of Tübingen in Germany.But even if the man from Kostenki in Russia had all these elements 36,000 years ago, that doesn’t mean that other Europeans did, Reich says. His team’s DNA data and models suggest that Europeans in the west and north did not pick up DNA from the steppes until much later. He and Krause also think that Willerslev’s study needs to be confirmed with higher resolution sequencing to rule out contamination, and to have more population genetics modeling explain the distribution of these genetic types. The bottom line, researchers agree, is that European origins are “seem to be much more complex than most people thought,” Willerslev says. Kostenki XIV (Markina Gora), reconstructed by M. M. Gerasimov center_img Europeans carry a motley mix of genes from at least three ancient sources: indigenous hunter-gatherers within Europe, people from the Middle East, and northwest Asians from near the Great Steppe of eastern Europe and central Asia. One high-profile recent study suggested that each genetic component entered Europe by way of a separate migration and that they only came together in most Europeans in the past 5000 years. Now ancient DNA from the fossilized skeleton of a short, dark-skinned, dark-eyed man who lived at least 36,000 years ago along the Middle Don River in Russia presents a different view: This young man had DNA from all three of those migratory groups and so was already “pure European,” says evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen, who led the analysis.In challenging the multiple migration model, the new genome data, published online today in Science, suggest that Europeans today are the descendants of a very old, interconnected population of hunter-gatherers that had already spread throughout Europe and much of central and western Asia by 36,000 years ago. “What is surprising is this guy represents one of the earliest Europeans, but at the same time he basically contains all the genetic components that you find in contemporary Europeans—at 37,000 years ago,” Willerslev says.The origins of Europeans used to seem straightforward: The first modern humans moved into Europe 42,000 to 45,000 years ago, perhaps occasionally meeting the Neandertals whose ancestors had inhabited Europe for at least 400,000 years. Then, starting 10,000 years ago, farmers came from the Middle East and spread rapidly throughout Europe. As researchers recently sequenced the genomes of more than a dozen ancient members of our species, Homo sapiens, in Europe and Asia in rapid succession, they added a third genetic component: a “ghost” lineage of nomads who blew into northeast Europe from the steppes of western Asia 4000 to 5000 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(*) To explore European ancestry further, Willerslev’s team extracted DNA from the ulna, or lower arm bone, of a skeleton of a young man discovered in 1954 at Kostenki 14, one of more than 20 archaeological sites at Kostenki-Borshchevo. This area in southwest Russia was a crossroads at the boundary of eastern Europe and western Asia and was famous for its carved Venus figures of women. Using radiocarbon dating, the man, also known as the Markina Gora, was recently dated to 36,200 to 38,700 years old, making it the second oldest modern human whose whole genome has been sequenced.last_img read more

Why do these fake eyes scare off predators?

first_imgEyelike spots on butterflies and caterpillars scare off songbirds and other predators, yet scientists don’t know exactly why they work. Do they startle potential attackers simply because they’re conspicuous, or do they mimic the eyes of a creature the songbirds truly fear? In a new study researchers lured great tits (Parus major) to a particular spot on the floor of their cage with a dead mealworm. When the bird swooped down upon its prey, the team flashed one of five images on a computer monitor lying directly beneath the worm: an owl (a tit predator) with open eyes, an owl with its eyes closed, a butterfly with prominent owl-like eyespots on its wings, a butterfly with eyespots whose colors had been reversed, or a butterfly whose eyespots had been digitally removed. About 68% of the birds shown the image with the eye-mimicking spots either flew away or showed signs of being startled such as chirping a warning call, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. That’s on par with the 57% showing the same reactions to the owl with open eyes, the team notes. But only 33% reacted similarly to the image that sported color—reversed eyespots—a difference that suggests it’s not the boldness of the image that’s startling the birds, it’s the mimicry of eye coloration in a predator the bird is likely familiar with. An even smaller percentage of the birds were startled by the butterfly with no eyespots. Interestingly, the image of the owl with no eyes seemed to spark more curiosity than fear among the would-be predators, triggering them to investigate the image more closely.last_img read more

Upstarts Are Swiping Business From Visa and Mastercard in India

first_imgGlobal card companies like Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are losing market share to upstarts in the world’s most innovative payments market: India.Transactions through India’s homegrown Unified Payments Interface — which allows mobile apps run by retailers, airlines and other firms to take payment directly from bank accounts — reached almost half the value of debit and credit cards swiped at stores last month, central bank data show.Read it at Bloomberg Related Itemslast_img

Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Halts Open Offer For India’s Fortis After Court Ruling

first_imgMalaysia’s IHH Healthcare Bhd said here on Monday its open offer to buy an additional 26 percent stake in India’s Fortis Healthcare Ltd will not proceed as per the timeline following a court ruling.Cash-strapped Fortis accepted IHH’S investment offer in July after an extended bidding war for control of the company which operates about 30 private hospitals in India.Read it at Reuters Related Itemslast_img

Indian Man’s Australian Citizenship Cancelled Over Identity Fraud

first_imgAn Indian man has been stripped of his Australian citizenship after the Department of Home Affairs discovered he had committed identity fraud to obtain an Indian passport that was used to travel to Australia in 2003, to obtain a partner visa and subsequently for his Australian citizenship in 2007.Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton personally decided to revoke Mr Singh’s* Australian citizenship in June last year after the department’s “forensic analysis” detected the fraud.Read it at SBS Related Itemslast_img read more

Temporary Workers Face Wage Theft, Poor Working Conditions in Australia: Survey

first_imgWage theft is a rampant issue in Australia, a survey conducted on the working conditions among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants in the country, showed. Almost 30 per cent of international students and backpackers earn $12 per hour or less, which is about half the minimum wage for a casual employee, according to the findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey released on Nov. 21.“The backpackers and international students who are temporary migrants were underpaid across many industries, but the most common was the food services, especially those who serve in the food and vegetable picking businesses. At least one out of five Americans, Indians, British, Chinese and Brazilian earned half the minimum wage. Workers from Asian countries, including China, Taiwan and Vietnam, are paid lower wage rates than those hailing from North America, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The underpayment was a common factor among international students and backpackers of all major nationalities,” said the report.Temporary migrant workers represent more than 10 per cent of the Australian labor market and the survey paints a grim picture of the working conditions of the migrant workers who come to Australia in search of a better future. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney, who surveyed 4,322 temporary migrants from 107 countries, including 15 per cent from China, eight per cent from South Korea, and five per cent from India.The survey found that not only are these employees workers underpaid, the conditions that they work in also tantamount to criminal forced labor. These workers are required to pay cash back to their employers as soon as they receive their wages, their passports are confiscated by their employers, and they are sometimes required to pay a deposit for their job. As many as 44 per cent of overseas workers are paid in cash, and the proportion is two in three for waiters, kitchen-hands and food servers. Half of them never or rarely receive a payslip.“At least three quarters of the backpackers and international students were aware of the fact that they were being underpaid and their wages were even lower than the minimum wages,” the report added.The reason why most of these workers continue to do such jobs is because they usually believe that everyone else who has the same visa as them is also being underpaid or earning less than the minimum wage. They also fear a backlash if they complain about the conditions that they are forced to work in and put up with it.Some workers have even called it modern form of slavery and add that they are grossly underpaid. “I think my first job, I got $AUS10 (£5.70) for two or three hours’ work. When I went picking strawberries, I think I averaged $AUS60 (£34.30)-a-day before tax for eight hours of hard work under the sun,” Laurent Van Eesbeeck, a Belgian backpacker who worked on a farm, told the Telegraph. Related ItemsAustraliaEmploymentHuman Rightslast_img read more

Uttar Pradesh adds 17 OBC groups to Scheduled Castes list

first_imgThe Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has included 17 communities belonging to the Other Backward Classes in the Scheduled Castes list. A decision to this effect was taken late Friday night and authorities have been directed to issue certificate to families belonging to these 17 castes.The additions are — Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur.This move is seen as an attempt by the Adityanath government to provide these socially and economically backward classes with the benefits of reservation after removing legal irritants that have stalled the issue in the past. The move will leave greater space in the OBC quota for the remaining OBC caste groups.15-year-old demandThis is also the fulfilment of a 15-year-old demand by these 17 caste groups.Coming before the by-elections to 12 Assembly seats in the State, the move is likely to benefit the BJP and further erode the vote base of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.This, incidentally, is the third time that the State government will be making an attempt on the issue. Previously, both, the SP and BSP governments had attempted to include these groups in the SC category but failed to do so due to legal intervention.The first attempt was made by the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime when it brought a resolution in 2004. The then SP government amended the U.P. Public Services Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 OBC communities in the SC category. Since the power to declare any caste as SC rests with the Centre, the then State government’s decision, taken without the Centre’s consent, proved futile.The Allahabad High Court later quashed the decision declaring the move unconstitutional and void.Another attempt was made in 2012 when Akhilesh Yadav came to power and a high-level committee, headed by the then Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani, sought details from the Department of Social Welfare in this regard. The circular from the Chief Secretary on March 28, 2012, spoke about the government’s priorities, including the inclusion of as many as 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category. The matter, however, was rejected by the Centre.The BSP, however, vehemently opposed the idea and demanded increase in SC quota from the present quantum in the changed scenario. It also termed the move as a “conspiracy to dilute the reservation quota for Dalits”.last_img read more

2 Gujarat Congress MLAs resign from Assembly, likely to join BJP

first_imgGujarat Congress legislators Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala resigned from the Legislative Assembly on Friday, after voting in the bypolls for two Rajya Sabha seats. The two have voted against Congress candidates.“The Congress observer tried to create a lot of issues over my vote, so you can understand for whom did I vote,” Mr. Thakor told media persons after casting his vote. He added that he has resigned as legislator and will now contest the by-election from his Assembly constituency Radhanpur in north Gujarat. His close aide and legislator Dhaval Zala has also cross-voted and subsequently resigned from the Assembly. According to sources, both are likely to join the BJP soon and will contest the by-elections from their respective Assembly seats. The by-election is being held as the two Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, who were elected to the Lok Sabha, resigned.Besides Mr. Thakor and Mr. Zala, the BJP has also got additional votes of lone NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja and two Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) legislators, Chhotubhai Vasava and his son Mahesh Vasava.last_img read more