Monthly Archives

April 2019

Health, Woman

Manipur Girl Quits Singapore Job, Brews Up Herb Tea to Empower Local Ladies!

It is around 8 am and 45-year-old Pratima is excited to begin her day. Her daily sojourn through Imphal’s Ima Keithal market or Mother’s market is a sensory onslaught of brightly coloured textiles in myriad shades, the array of spices tempering the air, and stalls bursting with fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Pratima loves the all-women market but what she loves more is the cafe-cum-store where she works, hardly a kilometre from the 500-year-old market.

Pratima is one of the nine homemakers-turned-employees working at ‘Dweller Teas,’ a startup in Manipur’s capital city.

Warming up to the topic of the many benefits of the fruit, Pratima says, “Every time I drink a citrusy flavoured tisane of this fruit, I go on a nostalgic trip that reminds me of the time I spent with my grandmother.”

Founded by Elizabeth Yamben, a native of Imphal, the startup uses indigenous herbs and fruits to make organic and healthy tea infusions.

What’s more? The startup is empowering homemakers and female farmers.

The seed of the startup was sown during Elizabeth’s stint in London as a financial analyst. Though the 29-year-old was grateful for her new life in the bustling city, she felt restless, as if something remained to be done.

“I moved out of Imphal at the age of 12 in pursuit of quality education, and a thriving future. I moved to London right after I completed my education. I always wanted to do something of my own, but had very little expertise in terms of starting a business,” Elizabeth tells TBI.

Elizabeth Yamben quit her job in Singapore and moved to India to add value to indegenous resources

Soon, she took a transfer to Singapore. Once she thought she had saved up enough, she was ready to trade a cushy job, a fat salary and a secure life with a path less travelled—one fraught with risks, uncertainty and financial instability.

As anticipated, quitting her job without any concrete professional plans did not go well with her parents. “I may not have been confident about my future then, but I was sure I wanted to make a difference in my community.”

After landing in India, Elizabeth’s first step was to study and identify the local strengths of Manipur, “Football and tea are two strong points of my State. The choice was obvious,” she chuckles.

Besides, Elizabeth’s priceless memories with her grandmother revolved around herbs and its secret recipes, “I grew up in a household where traditional herbs and medicines were used every time someone would fall sick. I remember my grandmother soaking the herbs or plants overnight and making concoctions that would eliminate all our ailments.”

Even today many Indian households depend on homemade cures. So, I fused traditions and a product that is available in abundance, she adds.

With her savings Elizabeth launched ‘Dweller Teas’ in 2017.

She hired around nine women homemakers and three men. The objective of hiring women was to give a tender touch to the products. She saw how passionate the elders in her family were about using indigenous fruits and herbs.

Dweller Teas team enjoying the natural tea

The gamble worked, and today, each of its tea products is packed with the nutrients that the herbal mixtures offer along with loads of love and care from all the women involved in their manufacture.

I convert our indigenous herbs and fruits into infusions. I make them just like how I would, for my three children, says Indu, one of the employers at the cafe.

Interestingly, the growers of fruits and herbs that Elizabeth works with are all women.

There are two ways in which Elizabeth procures the harvest. She approaches the women farmers and provides them with seeds depending on the demand. Once the product is ready, she purchases it from them, thus giving them an extra source of income.

She has also collaborated with local women vendors who sell the herbs in the local markets. This way Elizabeth has also been instrumental in reducing wastage.

Giving an example, she says, “One day I was strolling in the market and came across this lady who was worried about selling her Indian olives. She told me about how the olives get wasted almost every day because there are very few takers. So, I buy her produce from her thus reducing the wastage.”

Lemongrass is another plant that is cultivated in abundance. Here too, Elizabeth helps out the farmers as she buys lemongrass for the aromatic tea she prepares with them.

There are several blends of herbs, fruits and vegetables that Elizabeth and her team use to make the tea. All of the varieties have a unique USP of their own.

For instance, their famous blend is Nong-mang-Kha or Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis plant. The antibacterial properties of the plant can cure a cold, cough and fever.

Dweller Teas uses natural herbs like Nong-mang-Kha that have antibacterial properties.

“It is a sacred plant of Manipur. It’s commonly planted for house fencing, food, medicine and to protect from the evil spirit psychologically. Surprisingly, it tastes smooth with the warmth of ginger,’ says Elizabeth.

Giving a thumbs up to Nong-mang-Kha, Joyraj, one of Dweller’s customers says, “This tea is magic! Though it is bitter, it has rich medicinal value, and the aroma of the tea is a huge relief.”

Meanwhile, red-coloured and caffeine free fruity roselle tea tastes like cranberry and contains hints of citrus olive. It is rich in vitamin C, and is traditionally consumed to improve metabolism.

As she is sourcing her raw materials from nature, she makes sure she gives back in kind and thus all the packaging at Dweller Teas is biodegradable. At the store, the tea is sold in banana leaves and paper boxes.

Dweller Teas practices eco-friendly packaging

Up until recently, all the Dweller’s products were sold offline at their store. Last year, Elizabeth ventured into the online platform. Her products are now sold pan India. She plans to open five such cafe-cum-stores in Imphal by the end of this year.

From overcoming financial loses to creating her little niche, there were a lot of ups and downs in Elizabeth’s two-year-old journey. However, she remained undeterred in her mission of uplifting the locals, dwellers, homemakers and herbs.

Pratima, who has studied till class eight, had never imagined her life would take a turn making her financially independent, “I enjoy my work, and it has given me the hope for a better future. I see myself growing here; it is like carving a new path that never existed before.”

Gopi Karelia

Earthquake

Apart from rise of Himalayas, what happened when Indian plate collided with Eurasian plate in pre-historic era

When the researchers assembled their unprecedented geologic record of ocean nitrogen, they found that in the 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, the 15N-to-14N ratio was high, suggesting that ocean oxygen levels were low.

When the landmass that is now the Indian subcontinent slammed into Asia about 50 million years ago, the oxygen in the world’s oceans increased, altering the conditions for life, scientists say. The collision was already known to have changed the configuration of the continents, the landscape, global climate and more.

“These results are different from anything people have previously seen,” said Emma Kast, a graduate student at Princeton University in the US. Kast used microscopic seashells to create a record of ocean nitrogen over a period from 70 million years ago — shortly before the extinction of the dinosaurs — until 30 million years ago.

This record is an enormous contribution to the field of global climate studies, said John Higgins, an associate professor at Princeton. In addition to being the most abundant gas in the atmosphere, nitrogen is key to all life on Earth. Every organism on Earth requires “fixed” nitrogen — sometimes called “biologically available nitrogen.”

Himalayas, Indian plate, Eurasian plate, pre-historic era, science news

When the researchers assembled their unprecedented geologic record of ocean nitrogen, they found that in the 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, the 15N-to-14N ratio was high, suggesting that ocean oxygen levels were low. (Science Daily)

Nitrogen has two stable isotopes, 15N and 14N. In oxygen-poor waters, decomposition uses up “fixed” nitrogen. This occurs with a slight preference for the lighter nitrogen isotope, 14N, so the ocean’s 15N-to-14N ratio reflects its oxygen levels. That ratio is incorporated into tiny sea creatures called foraminifera during their lives, and then preserved in their shells when they die. By analysing their fossils researchers were able to reconstruct the 15N-to-14N ratio of the ancient ocean, and therefore identify past changes in oxygen levels.

Oxygen controls the distribution of marine organisms, with oxygen-poor waters being bad for most ocean life. Many past climate warming events caused decreases in ocean oxygen that limited the habitats of sea creatures, from microscopic plankton to the fish and whales that feed on them. Scientists trying to predict the impact of current and future global warming have warned that low levels of ocean oxygen could decimate marine ecosystems, including important fish populations.

When the researchers assembled their unprecedented geologic record of ocean nitrogen, they found that in the 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, the 15N-to-14N ratio was high, suggesting that ocean oxygen levels were low. They first thought that the warm climate of the time was responsible, as oxygen is less soluble in warmer water.”Contrary to our first expectations, the global climate was not the primary cause of this change in ocean oxygen and nitrogen cycling,” Kast said. The collision of India with Asia closed off an ancient sea called the Tethys, disturbing the continental shelves and their connections with the open ocean.

by PTI

Animals, Sc. & Environment, Wildlife

For the first time, a rare rhino was born by artificial insemination at the Miami zoo

For the first time a rare rhino was born thanks to artificial insemination. The Indian rhino mother Akuti gave birth to a healthy young rhino at the Miami Zoo last Tuesday. It is the first Indian rhino born by artificial insemination.

The little rhino, whose gender is still unknown, was born at half past twelve in the afternoon and is the first little one of Akuti, a seven-year-old single-horned Indian rhino. The father is Suru, an eighteen-year-old Indian rhino. Both mother and baby are doing well. Both still have to be examined by a veterinary team which is only done when the staff consider it safe to separate the little one from his very protective mother for a few minutes, according to a spokesperson for the zoo.

No natural fertilization

Akuti (meaning “princess” in Hindi) did not get pregnant, despite several attempts at natural fertilization. That is why a team of experts was brought to the Miami zoo that started the artificial insemination process in January last year.

As soon as it became clear that Akuti was indeed pregnant, the rhino was trained to accept ultrasound. In this way the employees could keep a close eye on the growth and birth of the young.

Indian rhinos are on average between 15 and 16 months pregnant and the mothers can give birth to a calf once every two or three years. Akuti and her baby cannot yet be seen in public at the zoo, that only happens when the two are used to each other.

© Zoo Miami/Ron Magill

The Indian rhino is very popular among poachers because of its horn. There are approximately 3500 Indian rhinos in the world, according to the International Rhino Foundation. The Miami zoo is therefore very happy with the birth of the baby rhino: “This very rare birth is not only significant for Zoo Miami, it is incredibly important to the international efforts to maintain a healthy population under human care of this highly vulnerable species throughout the world.”

It is not the first time that an endangered species is artificially fertilized. Earlier, an elephant, a crocodile and a giant panda became pregnant via this route.

Election, Politics

Elections 2019: BJP Could Lose 40 Seats in Uttar Pradesh

Deepankar Basu and Debarshi Das——-

The BJP’s spectacular victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections relied on stunning victories in the ten states of the Hindi heartland – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The BJP won 190 of the 225 Lok Sabha seats in these states, virtually ensuring the success of its bid for power at the Centre.

Its fortunes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections rest crucially on its performance in these states, but more so in Uttar Pradesh. This is not only because it provides the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha, but also because of its oversize impact on the rest of the Hindi heartland.

This article attempts to predict the BJP’s performance in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections using past voting trends – both from the assembly election in 2017 and the previous Lok Sabha elections. Our interest in this exercise is motivated primarily from understanding the possible impact of the electoral alliance between the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). This alliance has been formed with an explicit anti-BJP focus and is, by all accounts, likely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This article attempts to quantify the impact.

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav. Credit: PTI

Methodology

To predict the electoral outcome in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in UP, we used the actual voting pattern in the 2017 assembly elections and in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. We used the Election Commission’s voting data and supplemented it with data from the website pollniti.com.

We started by identifying the parliamentary constituency to which each assembly constituency belonged. Then we computed the total number of votes that each of the major political parties received at the parliamentary constituency – the BJP, BSP, INC, RLD and SP. We arrived at this number by adding up the votes that each party won in the assembly constituencies that make up a parliamentary constituency.

Dividing the number of votes of each party by the total number of votes cast in the parliamentary constituency – itself the sum of total votes cast in each of the assembly constituencies that make up the parliamentary constituency – gave us the vote share of each party at the parliamentary constituency level.

We used this number to predict the vote share for each party at the parliamentary constituency level in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. We added up the vote shares of SP, BSP and RLD to arrive at their predicted combined vote share. Finally, we declared the party or alliance with the maximum vote share as the winner.

The second method was more straightforward. We used the parliamentary constituency-level vote share of each party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the predicted value of vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, just like in the first method, we added up the vote shares of SP, BSP and RLD to arrive at the predicted vote share of the combine. Once again, we declared the party or alliance with the maximum vote share in a parliamentary constituency as the winner of that seat. The results of our prediction exercise are summarised in the table.

Table 1: Outcomes in Lok Sabha Elections in Uttar Pradesh
Actual Outcome in 2014Predicted outcome in 2019
Basis of Prediction: 2017 Assembly ElectionsBasis of Prediction: 2014 Parliamentary Elections
Vote Share (%)
BJP42.339.542.3
BSP19.622.219.6
INC7.56.27.5
SP22.221.922.2
SP-BSP-RLD45.942.5
Seats
BJP712730
BSP0
INC206
SP5
SP-BSP-RLD5344

Results

What do the results show and how does the BJP’s performance compare to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls? Its vote share will not change significantly. The first method shows that the BJP’s vote share will drop from 42.3% in 2014 to 39.5%. The second method keeps the BJP’s vote share unchanged.

But the number of seats that the BJP can win will be impacted significantly. Using the first method that relies on the 2017 assembly election patterns, its seats will drop from 71 to 27 in 2019, a deficit of 44.

If we use the second method that relies on the 2014 parliamentary election patterns, the BJP’s seats will drop from 71 to 30 in 2019, a deficit of 41. Both methods point in the same direction: a massive decline in the number of seats that the BJP can win. Whether the party will be able to make up the 40-plus seat deficit in UP from other states is a critical question. The party swept most of the north and west India in 2014. This means that there is likely to be deficits from those parts of India as well. East and South India do not hold promises of significant increment either. All in all, the significant seat deficit in UP might mean serious trouble for the BJP’s ambition to form the next Central government.

The reasons for this significant change in the BJP’s electoral fortunes between 2014 and 2019 is almost wholly governed by the logic of electoral arithmetic. The SP and BSP have had significant electoral presence in UP for the past several decades. The BJP has been able to gain electoral victories primarily because of triangular or quadrilateral contests. The RLD’s presence is limited to western UP, but it wields sufficient electoral prowess to deal a strong blow to the BJP.

In the current conjuncture, neither the SP nor BSP, and least of all RLD, has the electoral heft to defeat the BJP on its own. This is evident from the vote share data of the previous two elections. But it is interesting that the BJP has not been able to erode their vote shares significantly. For instance, between 2014 and 2017, both the SP and BSP increased their vote shares. Moreover, taken together, these two parties have consistently maintained a vote share that is close to or larger than what the BJP managed to get in 2014 – its most stunning performance so far.

Thus, the SP-BSP alliance will be able to significantly reduce the seats won by the BJP, unless there is a drastic change in voting patterns. The Congress may go without any seats if the prediction from the first method comes true. This is not surprising. The combined might of three parties can obliterate small parties in the first-past-the-post system.

Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi. Credit: PTI

The Congress may go without any seats if the prediction from the first method comes true. Credit: PTI

Caveats and conclusion

Using the past to predict the future is always a risky venture, especially so in the case of electoral outcomes. After all, the situation in the economy and polity change between elections. Political parties intervene to shape the outcomes in their favour.

Hence, it is possible that the voting patterns in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and in the 2017 assembly elections are poor predictors of the voting pattern for the current elections. If that is the case, then the predictions of this article would be incorrect. But there are reasons, both electoral and political, to believe that the patterns are more durable.

Let us start with the electoral reasons. First, the Mahagathbandhan parties may not transfer votes to each other. After all, the BSP and SP has had an acrimonious relation till very recently. Their voters rely on caste loyalties, which are not readily mutable. While this remains a valid concern about our methodology and predictions, it is also important to note that the alliance has had quite a few successful dry runs – in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana.

The recent joint rally of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav bolsters the chances of a successful replication of those experiments at the state level. Second, Muslim and secular votes which were with other parties (the Congress, for example) may shift towards the Mahagathbandhan once it emerges as the only serious contender against the BJP. While the first factor would improve the BJP’s performance, the second would undermine it, and it is possible that these contradictory tendencies will balance each other out.

Turning to political reasons, we should note that the BJP came to power in 2014 because it could project an image of a party that would address the economic problems of the vast majority – the rising unemployment of the youth, the distress in the agricultural sector, the precarious lives of the informal sector workers. This the BJP could do easily by drawing attention to and contrasting itself with the “corrupt, and ineffectual Congress”.

But now the same problems plague the BJP. The promise of generating jobs remains unfulfilled. The deepening distress in the agricultural sector has hardly been addressed – other than by window dressing measures. On top of that were the misadventures of demonetisation and the hurriedly implemented GST, both of which inflicted enormous costs on the ordinary citizen.

The BJP did well in the 2017 UP vidhan sabha elections because demonetisation was successfully marketed as a pious nationalistic act. The fragmented state of the opposition also helped. But reality soon caught up. In 2018, vidhan sabha results in Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh signaled the shifting mood of the electorate.

Nothing has changed significantly since the 2018 vidhan sabha elections for the unemployed youth, the distressed farmers, the precarious workers – other than BJP’s recent, frantic efforts to divert attention from these economic issues by stirring nationalist frenzy and religious bigotry.

Hence, it seems likely that the logic of electoral arithmetic that favours the SP-BSP-RLD alliance will be bolstered by these enduring failures of the BJP to hand it a crushing defeat on its own turf.

Deepankar Basu is associate professor in the Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Debarshi Das is associate professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati.

Weather

Cyclone Fani: Depression over Bay of Bengal intensifies into cyclonic storm

Cyclone Fani is very likely to reach near the coasts of north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh by the evening of April 30.

A deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal developed into cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ on Saturday, and is expected to further intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm”, as per India Meteorological Department’s latest update at 3.02 a.m. on Sunday.

According to the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Cyclone Fani is very likely to reach near the coasts of north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh by the evening of April 30.

Cyclone Fani currently lays over east Equatorial Indian Ocean (EIO) and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal.

“According to our assessment, as of today, it will reach near the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu but it is unlikely that will make a landfall. It may recurve before reaching the coast. We are monitoring its path,” Mritunjay Mohapatra, Additional Director General of the IMD, said in Delhi.

Mohapatra also heads the Cyclone Warning Division.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

CS ‘FANI’ over SE BoB lay centred at 2330 hrs IST of 27th April, 2019 about 1110 km SE of Chennai . It is very likely to intensify into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during next 12 hours. It is very likely to move northwestwards till 30th & thereafter recurve northeastwards gradually.

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S. Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre in Chennai, said ‘Fani’ was likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours.

The storm has been named ‘Fani,’ as suggested by Bangladesh, he said.

Heavy falls at isolated places are very likely over Kerala on April 29 and 30.

Light to moderate rainfall is expected at a few places over north coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh on April 30 and May 1.

The sea along the coasts of Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is likely to be “very rough” from April 28, the IMD said.

It has advised fishermen along the coasts of Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry not to venture into the seas.

The Southern peninsula division comprising all five States of the South India and the Union Territory of Puducherry, Goa and coastal Maharashtra recorded a deficiency of 31%, the IMD said. File

The Southern peninsula division comprising all five States of the South India and the Union Territory of Puducherry, Goa and coastal Maharashtra recorded a deficiency of 31%, the IMD said. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

East and northeast India division recorded 23% deficiency.

Pre-monsoon rainfall from March to April, a phenomenon critical to agriculture in some parts of the country, has recorded 27% deficiency, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The IMD recorded 43.3 millimetres of rainfall across the country from March 1 to April 24 as against the normal precipitation of 59.6 millimetres. This was 27% less of the Long Period Average (LPA).

The highest deficiency of 38% was recorded in the northwest India division of the IMD, which comprises States of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh.

This was followed by the Southern peninsula division comprising all five States of the South India and the Union Territory of Puducherry, Goa and coastal Maharashtra, where the deficiency recorded was 31%, the IMD said.

East and northeast India division recorded 23% deficiency.

The Central India division is the only one to have recorded more 5% rainfall than the normal.

Pre-monsoon showers, thunderstorms and lightning have killed more than 50 people in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan this month.

Several parts of India receive pre-monsoon rainfall which is critical for those regions. The phenomenon, which is usually from March to May end, is vital as it helps in bringing the temperatures down.

The situation also appears to be grim as large parts of the country have been witnessing heating and there has not been any major relief since April 17, said Mahesh Palawat, vice-president (Meteorology and Climate Change), Skymet.

One of the reasons for a pre-monsoon rainfall is excessive heating from March to June which several parts of the country witness. The moisture from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal aids in creation of thunderstorms, Mritunjay Mohapatra, Additional Director General of the IMD said.

“Pre-monsoon rainfall is important for horticulture crops in some parts of the country. In States like Odisha, ploughing is done in the pre-monsoon season,” he said.

Laxman Singh Rathore, former Director General of the IMD, said in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats, pre-monsoon rainfall is critical for plantation of crops.

There will be “moisture stress” in case of a deficit, he said.

Crops like sugarcane and cotton, planted in central India, survive on irrigation, but also require supplement of pre-monsoon rains, Mr. Rathore added.

“In the forested regions of Himalayas, pre-monsoon rainfall is necessary for plantations like apple. Due to moisture, pre-monsoon rainfall also helps in minimising the occurrence of forest fires,” he said.

___________________________

Hottest weather yet this season to challenge records in southeastern US early this week

Volume 0% How to keep your child safe on a playground during a heat wave


The southeastern United States will get an early taste of summer as heat and humidity build throughout the region early this week.

While the calendar is nearing May, it will feel like it has jumped to June from portions of the Deep South to the Tennessee River Valley and lower mid-Atlantic.

Some residents may be turning on the air conditioning sooner than they would like and precautions will need to be taken by anyone laboring outside during the hottest time of the day (afternoon hours).

A building area of high pressure out of the Gulf of Mexico will pump in warmth and humidity as April comes to a close, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

High temperatures will surge well into the middle to upper 80s F and may touch the 90-degree-Fahrenheit mark in some areas. Such levels are 10-15 degrees above normal for this time of year.

early week outlook


Temperatures will hit their highest mark yet this year in some areas.

An uptick in humidity and sunshine will bump AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures several degrees higher, making it vital for anyone outside to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses, hats and sunscreen will also be necessities as the temperature climbs. Doing any type of outdoor exercising or work during the early morning and evening hours can lessen the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Never leave a child or pet in a locked vehicle even with the windows cracked as the temperature can climb to lethal levels in minutes, even during the springtime.

Avoid playgrounds directly in the sun during the afternoon hours when the equipment can be hot enough to cause serious burns.

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The heat will first crank up across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina on Monday before it expands into North Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Montgomery, Alabama, and Augusta, Georgia, will near their 2017 daily record highs of 90 and 91 respectively on Monday.

Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta and Athens, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; and Roanoke and Charlottesville, Virginia, will follow suit on Tuesday with each city challenging its respective record high for the date.

Southeast warm new


The summerlike conditions will provide great baseball weather for the Atlanta Braves four-game series with the San Diego Padres beginning on Monday evening and may help boost fly balls out of SunTrust Park for home runs.

The heat is likely to persist into Wednesday and perhaps even Thursday along the southern Atlantic Seaboard.

“With a shift of the overall storm track to the north, the South will dry out for the remainder of the month,” Pastelok said.

Mainly dry weather could continue into the first couple days of May.

Storminess will instead focus across the central and southern Plains, where there will be an enhanced risk of flooding as a system brings repeated downpours.

The broad area of high pressure should slow the progression of rain from this system toward the Southeastern states, according to Pastelok.

The stretch of dry weather will be good news for communities that continue to clean up after a slew of severe weather events in recent weeks.

Environment, Weather

A RAINY WEEK KICK STARTS IN NORTHEAST WITH MEGHALAYA, ASSAM AND TRIPURA RECEIVING LIGHT RAINS

Northeast India was not receiving any weather activity since the last few days but as predicted by Skymet, scattered rains have commenced over many parts of northeastern states yesterday onward. Many Northeast states including that of Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura are reporting light to moderate rainfall activity.

The weather activity will increase in intensity now with several areas of Northeast India observing decent spell of rain. Initially the intensity will be more in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Nagaland. Thereafter, it will spread to other parts as well. Intermittent activities will continue with light to moderate spell in the region. Isolated heavy rain may also be observed during this period.

At present, a Cyclonic Circulation is over Assam and its adjoining area. And an Anti-Cyclone has once again formed over North Bay of Bengal which will help in moisture incursion to Northeast India. Due to the combined effect of these weather systems and increased moisture from the Bay of Bengal, we expect these pre-Monsoon activities to continue over the northeast region for at least next 5 to 6 days.

A Cyclone is also forming over the Bay of Bengal which is likely to move along the eastern coast and in process give more rains to the northeastern part of the country.

Image Credits – MyIndianStay

Source: Skymet Weather

Environment, Nature

Students urged for active role in nature conservation

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“The idea behind celebration of World Earth Day was to create awareness about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. However, that idea remained confined to a handful of population around the globe. As a result of which an average of 60% of the population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have dwindled in between the celebration of the first World Earth Day in 1970 to 2014,” said Mubina Akhtar, noted journalist and wildlife activist, while speaking on this year’s World Earth Day theme “Protecting the Species” at the NKC Auditorium, University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya, organized by Earth Science Department.  “An incalculable number of species have disappeared forever, and a large number are threatened with extinction. In Assam, 14 species–comprising seven plant and seven animal species–have now become threatened that includes the siya nahar, lady’s slipper orchid, Cycas and animal species like Assamese day geck, tokay gecko, black soft-shelled turtle etc.  In almost all cases, the threats to wildlife can be traced to human activities. Habitat destruction is the main cause for wildlife extinction in India” she said and added “When the natural habitat of animals is destroyed, it leads to a decline in their primary food supply. With loss of breeding and nesting grounds, their numbers get drastically reduced. In the case of plants, if their natural habitat is destroyed, then their survival is at risk.” 

“We depend on various plant and animal species for livelihood support but unsustainable use has led to rapid decline in those species. We tend to forget that ‘each species is unique and has been created as a consequence of evolutionary process. Therefore every species has a natural right to exist.’

Akhtar appealed to the students for a more active and defined role in creating awareness for preservation of natural ecosystems as she released the 6th edition of the Department’s Wall Magazine dedicated to this year’s World Earth Day theme “Protecting the Species” on the occasion. 

The programme started with welcome speech by Dr. E. Al Huda Head of the Department of Earth Science. 

The Vice Chancellor, USTM, DR. P.K. Goswami in his speech also referred to human interventions that led to imbalances in nature and the urgency need to preserving the same. Dr. R.K. Sharma, Adviser to USTM detailed on the history of events that led to the celebration of World Earth Day.

Earlier, Nitu T. Upadhya, Assistant Professor, felicitated the guests. Dr. Lalit Saikia, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Science offered the vote of thanks.

International

BRI summit: China removes map showing all of J&K, Arunachal as part of India

ith the second edition of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Summit underway in Beijing, China has removed a map from the BRI website that depicted entire Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

After reports emerged of the map “misrepresenting” China’s stated position on Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Arunachal Pradesh, the map now does not show up on the website.

The map had also portrayed India as part of the BRI project whereas New Delhi has been opposed to the idea of joining this initiative since it has projects such as CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) which fall in PoK and violate India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

India had boycotted the first summit held in 2017 and despite Beijing’s efforts for India to at least represent itself at the forum, New Delhi decided to sit out.

China had recently destroyed thousands of maps which showed Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

China considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of their territory and refers to it as “Southern Tibet”.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, or BRFIC was held on May 14–15, 2017 in Beijing, and drew 29 foreign heads of state and government and representatives from more than 130 countries and 70 international organizations

The purpose of the forum is described by Wang Xiaotao, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, in an interview with Xinhua as building “a more open and efficient international cooperation platform; a closer, stronger partnership network; and to push for a more just, reasonable and balanced international governance system.”[3]Western media coverage portrays the forum in a similar way with CNN referring to the event under the headline “China’s new world order” and the Los Angeles Times running the article “Globalization 2.0: How China’s two-day summit aims to shape a new world order”.

There will be an opening ceremony and high level meetings including a plenary session and six parallel panel discussions during the first day.[3] A round table summit will be held on the second day, chaired by President Xi Jinping with the participation of all attending heads of state and government and heads of the UN, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.[3] At the conclusion of the round-table summit, the body will issue a document agreeing to goals and principles for the initiative.

The forum will be a platform for working out action plans for implementation of the initiative in the areas of infrastructure, energy and resources, production capacity, trade and investment and identification of major projects.[3] It is also intended to be an opportunity for the signing of cooperation agreements with countries and international organizations in the areas of financial cooperation mechanism; a cooperation platform for science, technology and environmental protection; and enhanced exchanges and training of talent and financing agreements for backing projects.

Environment, Society

Tawang crowned as the cleanest district in Northeast India

There is one more reason to stay in love with the Northeast India, for Tawang has been named as the cleanest districts in the region. The finding owes it origin to a survey conducted by Swachh Survekshan Gramin. The said survey also included a total of 698 districts across the country, and was conducted at the behest of the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

The crowing of Tawang as the cleanest district in the Northeast India has brought more glory to the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The uninitiated should know that the state is rid of tobacco for 35 years now, and has also been active at waste management. It also participated in the Himalayan Cleanup drive, and sticks to allowing only biodegradable bags. Reportedly, the drive comprised of ridding 89 cities of single-use plastic in a span of just one day!

Tawang crowned as the cleanest district in Northeast India

Credit: Getty ImagesPlastic waste has been hailed as one of the most destructive elements for the environment and, of course, the biggest hindrance while taking constructive steps, Arunachal Pradesh is on the right course. It has set an example for the rest of the country and its sister states in the Northeast, including AssamManipurMeghalaya, Mizoram, NagalandSikkim, and Tripura. 

The other northeastern states also have been quite active in turning clean as well as green; Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong was also labelled as the cleanest village in Asia. Sikkim, though not being a part of the Seven States, is the first fully organic state in the country. Clearly, the rest of the country has a lot to learn. 

Tawang crowned as the cleanest district in Northeast India

UN

This 7-year-old girl from Manipur will represent India at a UN conclave on disaster management

A Class II student, Licypriya is currently working as a Child Disaster Risks Reduction Advocate in International Youth Committee (IYC).

On the disaster management issue, she said,

“I get scared when I see on television people suffering and dying because of earthquakes, floods, and tsunami. I cry when I see children losing their parents or people becoming homeless due to dangers of disasters. I urge everyone to join their hands, minds, and passions to create a better world for all of us,” reports Indian Women Blog.

United Nations, disaster management
Licypriya is currently working as a Child Disaster Risks Reduction Advocate in International Youth Committee (Image: NewsD)

The session will be attended by governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the United Nations, and other international organisations. Groups such as the National Societies of Red Cross, and the Red Crescent Organisation will also be present at the event.

However, this isn’t the first time Licypriya has been invited to participate in an international event. In 2018, she was invited to the 2018 Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risks Reduction in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which was held from July 3 to 7.

All of seven, Licipriya has been to eight countries, where she represented India at various levels. (Source: https://yourstory.com)