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Human Rights

Noam Chomsky shows solidarity with NE’s indigenous people over CAA

Noam Chomsky shows solidarity with NE’s indigenous people over CAA. Along with Noam Chomsky, James Scott and Survival International also extended support to the concerns of Northeast people over Citizenship (Amendment) Act, informs Richard Kamei, He is a PhD candidate at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

The passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) encountered vehement protests from Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and other Northeast Indian states. Despite opposition at Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the President of India gave his assent to it and CAB became an Act — Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). This spiralled into a spontaneous protest across the country with violent incidents against students and protesters starting off at Assam, Shillong (Meghalaya), Jamia Millia Islamia and other parts of New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states. Internet ban was implemented in various places including Assam, Tripura, then in Meghalaya, and later in parts of Uttar Pradesh.

CAA goes against the values of secularism, equality and democracy, and rights of indigenous people. CAA aims to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the basis of religion, excluding Muslims.

In the case of Northeast India, the opposition is on the grounds that foreigners irrespective of their religions must not be settled in Northeast region. They fear that it might further change the demography of the region and challenge its diverse ethnicities and identities, culture, custom, and the question of lands. Assam began the protest early on in the year 2016, it then spread to neighbouring states of Northeast India. The region was simmered with intense protests in early 2019; facing the heat, Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) lapsed in Parliament early last year.

Professor Noam Chomsky, American linguist, historian and political activist condemning  CAA
Professor Noam Chomsky, American linguist, historian and political activist condemning CAA

However, the BJP promised to reintroduce CAB through its election manifesto. They campaigned in Northeast with the help of local ruling class by assuring people that they will not be affected and their concerns will be taken care of. They went on to win majority of the seats in Northeast region. As promised, CAB got introduced and passed in both Houses of Parliament and became an Act with the assent of the President.

To facilitate its passage, Inner Line Permit (ILP) was re-introduced in Manipur, and in Dimapur district of Nagaland. The Centre also assured that areas covered by Sixth Schedule will not come under CAA. The assurances and exemptions for Northeast states still leave out major parts of Assam and Tripura where people anticipate that they will be affected by CAA. It is on these that all the Northeast states continue to protest against CAA as they see it to be going against the rights and interests of indigenous people. Professor Noam Chomsky and few other prominent figures were being reached out through an email at this Richard Kamei’s personal capacity. They were informed of the situations of indigenous people of Northeast India and sought their solidarity and support for indigenous people of Northeast India who have been opposing CAB and later CAA through protest, since 2016. A brief history of colonial and settler colonialism in Northeast and CAA implications was written on informing the personalities. The Northeastern part of India is a land of indigenous people numbering hundreds of tribes with their distinct languages, cultures and customs, and identity. The British colonial time is marked with the introduction of settler colonialism into the Northeast region changing its demography, the state of Tripura, for instance, is tremendously affected by it. Tripura, a tribal state, experienced a reduction of tribal population from 87.07% in the year 1881 to 31.78 % of its total population in the year 2011 as per Population history of Tripura recorded in tripura.org.in website. The existence of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in large parts of northeast was also being pointed out, in the time when Article 14 of Indian Constitution gained prominence in the minds of people.

American political scientist Professor James Scott showing full solidarity with the people of Northeast India
American political scientist Professor James Scott showing full solidarity with the people of Northeast India

They were being informed that these bases made indigenous people in northeast India despite having protective mechanisms like Inner Line Permit (ILP) and autonomous units, fear about losing their identity, culture, and custom, and lands with another wave of settler colonialism through CAA by settling foreigners in the lands of Indigenous peoples. The protest in Assam witnessed the death of five persons, several injured, detained and arrested, and internet blockade for close to 10 days.

Prof Chomsky took time to read and responded within two days. He shared the message to remind indigenous people of Northeast, and people in general opposing CAA, that his support and solidarity is with them: “I have been following these shocking and dangerous developments with deep concern. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act poses intolerable threats to indigenous people, along with many others, and should be strongly condemned by international opinion, which should also support the resistance to the attacks on secular democracy and fundamental human rights being carried out by the Modi administration.”

Survival International is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples
Survival International is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples

Professor Scott and Survival International, a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples, also extended their support and solidarity for the indigenous people of Northeast. They were also being informed about the pending Naga peace talks where the search for its solution continues.

Indigenous people and their struggles more often than not find themselves in a different direction which resides outside of political correctness on the basis of ideological spectrum. Turning towards themselves and devising at their own volition in protecting, preserving and practicing their cultures and customs, traditions and importance of land, has been a marker of indigenous people. The Inner Line Regulation of 1873, as explained by AS Shimray in his book, Let Freedom Ring: The Story of Naga Nationalism, is rooted in the backdrop of flourishing tea plantation where the planters intruded into the lands of the Nagas by trespassing the borders. Land remains inseparable from the identity of indigenous people.

These features encompassing them become more important for assertion as per their past experiences of colonialism and racism, and the vulnerability and threat they face today from the same oppressive forces. It will be unwise to superimpose “borderless imagination” into indigenous people for they are yet to be on equal footing with people from mainstream societies.

On the question of immigrants, the state has a big role to address it in humane ways by prioritising indigenous peoples rights and ensuring at the same time that foreigners/persecuted minorities from neighbouring country get a fair support to lead a dignified life by settling them in other parts of the country which does not come under tribal lands. Last but not the least, taking into accounts of solidarity message from prominent figures like Chomsky and his ilk is not about seeking validation. For indigenous people where survival is their immediate concern, ‘visibility’ is important to carry forward their cause and struggle. It is in this that voice of renowned figure is important to ‘amplify’ tribal peoples’ voices and their struggles.(Richard Kamei can be reached at jenpuna@gmail.com. )

News, Society

Nirbhaya case: Court issues fresh death warrants against 4 convicts

New Delhi: 

Fresh death warrants were issued this evening for the four men convicted of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi in 2012. The four will now be executed at 6 am on February 1, Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora said today, while also turning down a plea by Mukesh Singh, one of the convicts, to postpone the execution. The warrants were issued mere hours after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected a mercy plea filed by the same convict.

The new death warrants are dated to exactly 14 days from today, in accordance with a law that states convicts to be executed must have a reprieve from the time their mercy plea is turned down.

Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail on January 22, the same trial court judge had declared last week, signing a death warrant more than seven years after the young girl was gang-raped on a moving bus, tortured and killed.

However, on Thursday, five days before the scheduled execution, Tihar officials asked for a new date, saying the executions could not take place till after all mercy pleas were settled.

Mukesh Singh had filed his mercy petition on Tuesday, directly after the Supreme Court dismissed a curative petition – the last legal appeal – moved by him and Vinay Sharma.

The petition had been forwarded to the President via the Home Ministry late Thursday night and was rejected this afternoon. Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, had made a public appeal to the President to summarily reject the petition.

Earlier today Asha Devi also made a public appeal to politicians to not seek “political gains” over her daughter’s death. Her comments came amid a war of words between the AAP – which rules Delhi – and the BJP – in power at the centre – over delays in the execution.

The three other convicts have yet to file their respective mercy petitions, which they may do at any time prior to their execution. Each time such a petition is filed and rejected, that 14-day period must be observed, thereby potentially prolonging the execution.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus before being dumped on a road in south Delhi. The woman, who came to be known as “Nirbhaya”, died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.

Six men were arrested for the horrifying assault. A fifth accused – Ram Singh – allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail during the trial and the sixth man, a few months short of 18 at the time of the incident, was released after three years in a reform facility.

Environment

Asia’s Great Rivers: Climate Crisis, Pollution Put Billions of Lives at Risk

Some of the world’s largest rivers, such as Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, begin in Asia, and their health is inextricably linked to that of the continent.

Hong Kong: The year is 2100. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region — the world’s “Third Pole” — are vanishing as the planet warms, the ice that once fed the great rivers of Asia is all but lost, and with it much of the water needed to nurture and grow a continent.

Further stressed by extreme heatwaves, erratic monsoons, and pollution, the waterways are in crisis and the lives of hundreds of millions hang in the balance. Access to clean water, now more precious than oil, is a preserve of the rich and has become a resource so valuable that people — and nations — are willing to fight for it.

This apocalyptic vision is the continent’s future if nothing is done to limit global warming, scientists and environmentalists warn.

“If urgent climate action is not taken rapidly, starting today, and current emission trends continue unabated, it is starting to look conceivable that this will entail grave threats to all of humanity as we know it,” says David Molden, director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

The 2015 Paris agreement saw nations commit to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as a way of curbing the worst impacts of global warming.

A lower cap of 1.5C was set, only as a goal for nations to work towards. But this year’s Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) Assessment Report says unless it is met — two-thirds of the region’s glaciers will be lost by the end of the century.

Running from Afghanistan to Myanmar, the HKH region takes in the Tibetan Plateau, and the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram mountain ranges.

Functioning as a vast water tower, some of the world’s largest and most important rivers, including the Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, begin here.

Its health is inextricably linked to that of the continent: Some 1.65 billion people directly rely on these waters — for their lives and livelihoods.

But tens of millions more rely on the agriculture, hydropower, and industries the rivers fuel.

“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” ICIMOD’s Philippus Wester explains, adding that alongside glacier melt, there will be increased risk of floods, droughts, landslides and avalanches.

But many in Asia are already living this dystopian future.

In the southern Indian city of Chennai, 2019 brought a drought so severe reservoirs ran dry. Residents were forced to queue for water from government tanks or pay black-market prices. In some cases, desperation led to violence.

Northern India was lashed by flooding as the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers burst their banks, with more than 100 reported dead and many more displaced. In Pakistan, thousands of glacial lakes have formed, with its mountain people facing the threat of at least 30 bursting.

In parts of China, villagers must choose between paying a premium for bottles or risking their health with the potentially contaminated stream or river water.

More than half the world’s population lives in Asia, but there is less fresh water available per person there than on any continent, according to the UN, often leaving the most vulnerable at risk.

“Climate change is rapidly diminishing our access to clean water, which will have a devastating impact on human health, access to food, and sanitation, radically reshaping communities and cities,” Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, tells AFP.

“As always, the poorest people are and will be the most affected.”

Asia’s rivers feed the continent’s breadbaskets and rice bowls — the Indus, Yangtze, and Yellow basins rely heavily on meltwater to irrigate agriculture that helps sustain not only those that live there, but national economies too.

Any change — either the initial surge of meltwater — or the later drastic decline in river flow could cause catastrophic food shortages, with Molden warning the worst-case scenario, if nothing is done to combat global warming, would be “starvation and conflict”.

Despite proclamations that we are in “the Asian Century”, there are fears lack of proper planning for the coming water crisis may stifle the economic dreams of a rapidly growing region.

Debra Tan, director of the NGO China Water Risk, adds: “Asia faces a triple threat in terms of water because 1) some parts — including China and India — have very limited water resources to develop, 2)climate change exacerbates scarcity, and 3) our cities and populations are clustered along vulnerable rivers.” Every key industry on the continent — from electronics and automobiles to clothing and agriculture — requires water but few use the resource judiciously.

Irrigation methods are often inefficient and crops grown can be water-intensive, while many industries still discharge untreated water in the rivers with few facilities for recycling.

Tan insists: “If the risks are not managed well, they will not only have detrimental consequences to billions of livelihoods but also to trillions of dollars of economic growth.”

Mass migration away from most affected areas will put intense pressure on other towns and cities.

This may exacerbate tensions in a conflict-prone area — both within and between countries, Wester says.

In a 2008 report, Goldman Sachs hailed water as the “the petroleum for the next century”, underlining fears its scarcity will lead to unrest.

Politics

Over 32,000 refugees identified in 21 districts for CAA: UP minister

In the first list, over 32,000 refugees have been identified in 21 districts of the state and the exercise is going on in the entire state as per the information I have from the state Home Department, Shrikant Sharma said.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UP govt has started process of identifying refugees for CAA
  • Over 32,000 refugees identified in 21 out of 75 UP districts
  • The exercise is going on in the entire state, a UP min said

The state government has started the process to identify refugees for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, said UP minister Shrikant Sharma here on Monday.

“The notification for the CAA (by the Centre) has been issued and all-district magistrates in UP have been asked to collect data,” Sharma told PTI.

In the first list, over 32,000 refugees have been identified in 21 districts of the state and the exercise is going on in the entire state as per the information I have from the state Home Department, Shrikant Sharma added.

There are 75 districts in the state.

When asked about the countries they belong to, Sharma said, “They are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

The districts from where the first list has arrived included Saharanpur, Gorakhpur, Aligarh, Rampur, Pratapgarh, Pilibhit, Lucknow, Varanasi, Bahraich, Lakhimpur, Rampur, Meerut, Agra.

Sources said Pilibhit has the maximum number of refugees. However, the exact number is yet to be disclosed by the state government.

“The exercise is going on and as the data comes, we will update figures,” Sharma said.

An NGO, Nagrik Adhikar Manch, has also prepared a 116-page report, “Uttar Pradesh Mein Aaye Pakistan, Afghanistan Evam Bangladesh ke Sharnarthiyon ki Aapbeeti (Unke Utpeedan ki Kahani)” and sent it to the state and the Centre.

The state government has not confirmed whether it was taking the report into account or not.

“We have got the report of the Nagrik Adhikar Manch,” a senior Home Department official said, who refused to elaborate.

The Centre last week had issued a gazette notification announcing that the CAA has come into effect from January 10, 2020.

The Act grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central government hereby appoints the 10th day of January 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” the notification said.

The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11.

According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

There have been widespread protests against the Act in different parts of the country.

In Uttar Pradesh, at least 19 persons were killed in anti-CAA protests.

Indigenous no-state people

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA

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Bengaluru: 

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, violates constitutional provisions. “The CAA law that has been passed in my judgment should be turned down by the Supreme Court on the grounds of it being unconstitutional because you cannot have certain types of fundamental human rights linking citizenship with religious differences,” Mr Sen told reporters at the Infosys Science Foundation’s Infosys Prize 2019 in Bengaluru.

The Nobel laureate said what really should matter for deciding citizenship is the place a person was born, and where the person has lived.

“My reading of the (amended) law is that it violates the provision of the Constitution,” he said, adding that citizenship on the basis of religion had been a matter of discussion in the constituent assembly where it was decided that “using religion for the purpose of discrimination of this kind will not be acceptable.”

Mr Sen, however, agreed that a Hindu who is persecuted in a country outside India deserves sympathy and his or her case must be taken into account.

“It (consideration for citizenship) has to be independent of religion but take cognisance of the sufferings and other issues into account,” Mr Sen said.

On the mob attack at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Mr Sen noted the university administration could not stop outsiders from coming to the campus to lead the attack.

“The communication between the university administration and the police got delayed due to which ill treatment of students went on without being prevented by the law enforcement agencies,” he added.

International

Iran’s retaliation is more conventional than expected

Iran struck back at the United States early Wednesday for the killing of a top Iranian general last week, firing a series of surface-to-surface missiles at an Iraqi air base housing US troops and warning the United States and its allies in the region not to retaliate.

The Pentagon confirmed the strike at Ain Assad as well as another at a separate base housing US troops.

“At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

A man holds a picture of late Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani as people celebrate in the street after Iran launched missiles at U.S.-led forces in Iraq, in Tehran on Wednesday.

After a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week, America braced itself for the unexpected: The Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory warning that Iran may launch cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. New York’s governor deployed the National Guard to New York City’s major airports.

Those precautions are wise and understandable. But Iran’s missile attacks on bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday shows that the regime’s retaliation may be more conventional than expected.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has used terrorist groups as proxies to strike at civilians and embassies, attempting to obscure their own responsibility for these attacks.

Now the Iranian regime is signaling a new approach.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told his advisers last week that its response should be a “direct and proportional attack on American interests,” according to the New York Times, and that it should be “openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves.”

That said, there is good reason to doubt that Iran’s response will be limited to this attack. Iran has fought its wars through proxies since the 1990s. This was Soleimani’s legacy. From 2003 until his death last week, he built up militias in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, waging an imperial war in the shadows on Iran’s behalf throughout the Middle East.

Some analysts acknowledge that Iran’s military has the capability to do a lot of damage, particularly to U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But it “is not going to be able to out-escalate the United States,” says Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Khamenei understands this, he says, and he may be attempting to convey strength at a moment when the regime has been weakened.

Another possibility is that the U.S. drone strike demolished the strategy of plausible deniability that Iran has relied on for so long. It’s not just that Iran’s generals could no longer count on being spared the fate of the terrorists they cultivated and sponsored. The strike signaled a new U.S. strategy that imposes grave costs for Iran’s broader proxy war.

The regime will almost certainly still depend on its terrorist proxies. But Iran’s missile strike shows that it is prepared to engage in direct military attacks to take revenge for Soleimani. The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism will also rely on conventional warfare

Bloomberg

Politics

India campus attack: police fail to make arrests but charge injured student

JNU students gathered near the Main gate during a protest demonstration against the attacks in New Delhi on Monday

Student leader beaten with iron bar during attack charged with two offences for prior incident

Police in Delhi have faced criticism for failing to arrest any members of a violent mob that stormed the campus of the Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the Indian capital, while at the same time charging a student leader beaten over the head with a metal bar with two offences.

Police have been accused of failing to intervene when about 50 masked men went on the rampage on Sunday evening, attacking students and academic staff, and vandalising buildings and property. More than 30 people were injured.

Aishe Ghosh – the leader of protests at the university in Delhi – needed about 16 stitches for a deep gash in her head. On Monday she said she only survived by falling down and playing dead, adding that she felt as if she was being “lynched”.

“They first vandalised a car parked nearby before besieging us. My sister managed to escape, but my friend and I were caught by the mob. They first struck me on my head with a rod before kicking and thrashing me.

“I screamed at them that they couldn’t do that, but they didn’t stop,” she said. Ghosh and other students have called on the university’s vice-chancellor, Jagadish Kumar, to resign over the incident.

Delhi police have yet to identify or detain any assailants. They say they are currently examining video clips and WhatsApp chats.

Meanwhile, they have charged Ghosh, and several other students, with attacking security guards during a prior incident on Saturday. They are accused of vandalising a server room and of destroying fibre-optic cables.

Aishe Ghosh

“They damaged servers and made it dysfunctional. They also damaged fibre-optic power supplies and broke the biometric systems inside the room,” said the police complaint.

Police failing to act in India is nothing new. But their apparent failure to defend the students comes amid major nationwide protests against a new citizenship bill that critics say is anti-Muslim. At least 23 people have been killed. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets.

Narendra Modi’s rightwing Hindu nationalist government introduced the law last month. Students have largely led demonstrations against the bill with JNU – long associated with leftwing politics – at the forefront of anti-government activity.

While the political blame game between the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and its rivals continues, JNU students who witnessed the violence say they can identify many of the assailants, despite the masked faces, as members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP.

The contrast between the police alacrity in charging Ghosh and their seeming inaction over the mob has come in for criticism. “How dare she stop a nationalist iron rod with her head?” asked the poet Javed Akhtar mockingly on Twitter.

The political analyst Arati Jerath called the violence “an unprecedented rampage by a mob at a university in the heart of the capital” and said someone had to be held accountable.

“It’s been a total dereliction of duty by the police. To charge Ghosh is laughable. But the JNU administration is equally responsible. The vice-chancellor, the proctor, they were all missing. It shows the institutional breakdown at JNU,” she said.

Delhi police are examining a claim by an unknown Hindu fringe group, the Hindu Raksha Dal, that it carried out the attack. “JNU is a hotbed of anti-national activities. We can’t tolerate this. We take full responsibility of the attack … and would like to say that they were our workers,” its leader, Pinky Chaudhary, told the ANI news agency.

BJP critics suggest the claim could be an attempt to deflect blame from the BJP’s student wing, in order to exonerate the governing party and its supporters.

Ten trade unions have called for a general strike on Wednesday to protest against what they called the government’s “anti-people” policies. They said they expected 250 million Indians to participate.

As condemnation of the attacks spread, more than 1,000 people held a vigil on Monday in Mumbai. Other demonstrations were held in Bengaluru, Kolkata and other major cities.

Modi’s BJP denied claims by the opposition Congress party that it was responsible, and in turn blamed left-leaning student groups which dominate the university’s politics.

The government has promised an investigation, while the home minister, Amit Shah – a close Modi aide – told university administrators and police to maintain order at the campus, which has been tense since protests in November over fee increases.

Environment

Bhutan: Development threatens takin habitats

Bhutan takin is found between 1,200 meters and 5,374 meters in northern Bhutan. Human-induced changes are threatening the habitats of Bhutan takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei).

By Choki Wangmo / Kuensel via Asia News Network: 

Linear infrastructure such as expansion of road and transmission lines and improper land-use planning were found to hinder wildlife movement and disturb prime habitats of the species, according to the first national report on takin by the forest department.

The infrastructure developments, if unchecked, could cause unforeseeable risks due to penetration into the takin habitats.

The Bhutan takin is one of four subspecies of takin and is endemic to Bhutan. It is a large bovid ungulate found along the warm broadleaved forest through the alpine region between the altitudinal range of 1,200 meters in warm broadleaved forest to 5,374 meters in northern Bhutan.

The animals mostly inhabit Jigme Dorji National Park and Wangchuck Centennial National Park although they are found also in Paro, Thimphu, and Wangdue forest divisions.

The report stated that winter habitats of takin were highly vulnerable to anthropogenic pressure due to its closer proximity to human settlements. “Building roads closer to or within the takin habitats will not only alter the animal behaviour but will also fragment the habitats.”

To deter negative impact within the habitats, the study recommended the government focus on maintaining the existing farm roads rather than building new roads. “If new construction is required, it should be cost-effective and environmentally less damaging.”

The current method of “cut-fill” construction involves high cost and is not environmentally friendly. Experts documented the indirect impact of such developments on wildlife — physical barriers for movement and dispersal, displacement and change in habits, among others.

Takin prefer continuous gentle terrain and an undisturbed habitat for foraging, finding mates and long-term sustenance. For that, low-altitude forested habitat outside protected areas should be incorporated into takin management plans and should be protected as takin habitats, according to the report.

Further to that, takin inhabit remote areas away from high-density human settlements, which increases the poaching risk. It was observed that Bhutan takin were susceptible to snaring, illegal trapping and disturbance from feral dogs.

Bhutan takin migrate from alpine valleys to lower forests in autumn and return to the summer habitats in early spring. The species has been reported from Xizang in China and Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh in India. Its population is estimated between 500-700 individuals.

The Takin is found in steep forests extending to the timberline and mountain valleys in the Eastern Himalayas and adjoining mountain ranges of Bhutan, India, Myanmar and China.

The Bhutan takin was declared the national animal of Bhutan in 1985 and is strictly protected under the Schedule I of the Forests and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995. The takin is categorised as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List

Adventure

Nepali climbers scale Mt Aconcagua promoting Visit Nepal 2020

KATHMANDU: At least four Nepali climbers have successfully scaled the highest peak in South America expressing their commitment to make the ‘Visit Nepal-2020’ campaign a success.

“We reached the summit of Mount Aconcagua on January 4 carrying a banner of Visit Nepal-2020,” Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, team leader of the Seven Summit Expedition, told media.

 

Along with Tashi Lakpa, Karma Tenzing Sherpa, Halung Dorchi Sherpa, and Satish Man Pati stood atop the 6,962-metre peak where over 50 world climbers joined the team to promote the ‘Visit Nepal-2020’ campaign.

“This is the first time the world climbers joined Nepali team to celebrate Christmas, New Year and the Nepal’s national tourism campaign on the summit of the highest peak out of Asia,” Tashi Lakpa, who holds a world record of the youngest person to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, shared. “We have also urged the world climbers to return to Nepal in 2020.”

With the successful ascent of Mount Aconcagua, Tashi Lakpa, on his mission to scale all seven highest peaks in all seven continents, completed his fifth mountain this winter. He has to climb two more peaks – Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Mount Carstenz pyramid in Australia – to achieve the feat. The Managing Director of Seven Summit Treks has already climbed Mt Everest, Denali, Elbrus and Kilimanjaro.

International

Plant species named after Arunachal journalist Taro Chatung

Researchers at the Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) in Arunachal Pradesh have named a new plant species found only in a small area in the Upper Siang district, after Taro Chatung, a popular and pioneering journalist from the north-eastern state who died in last October.

The new species, which belongs to the Gesneriaceae family — flowering plants that consist of about 152 genera and over 3,500 species — has been named Lysionotus chatungii after Chatung.

Details of the species were published this week in the taxonomic journal Pleione, brought out by the East Himalayan Society for Spermatophyte Taxonomy.

“It was a new year gift for our dear friend. Chatung was the most popular journalist and one of the pioneers of electronic media in Arunachal Pradesh. That’s why we decided to name it after him as a tribute to his memory,” said Dr Hui Tag, head of RGU’s botany department.

Chatung, who was suffering from cancer, died on October 26, 2019 at the Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences in Itanagar. He left his state civil service job in 1988 to pursue journalism.

Chatung’s show “News and Views”, which aired on Doordarshan, was one of the most-viewed television news programmes in the state. He was also a founding member and former president of the Arunachal Press Club and the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists.

Momang Taram, a research scholar at the university’s botany department, found the new species, a small climbing herbaceous plant, at Geku in Upper Siang district of the state last April.

The plant found growing on rocks and tree trunks has been stated to be endemic to the district. Less 100 plants of the kind were found spread over a three-square-km area.

As per IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List Category and Criteria, due to is the extent of occurrence (found only in an area less than 10 sq km), Lysionotus Chatungii should be listed as critically endangered.

“The plant is available only in this particular area in Arunachal Pradesh. We wanted to dedicate the plant to the journalist community in the north-east by naming it after Chatung,” Taram said. (HT)