Tag Archive | India

Unsolved Secrets of Indian Stepwells*

Unsolved Secrets of Indian Stepwells*

Historic structures such as temples, mosques and palaces are scattered over a vast territory of India. Often lose their original relics of ancient infrastructure, called “step-wells» (stepwells). Once upon a time, these underground structures were estimated in thousands.

Initially, these wells were dug in the ground – so people could easily access to the water. Over time, the stepped wells have become increasingly complex in geometry, and from the modest holes turned into hard engraved wells in step Hindu temples with ornamental columns, and ladders shrines.

These old wells or ponds, water in which was located at a depth of more than thirty steps down, often arranged multistoried with water wheel in order to lift the water to the first or second floor. They are most common in the western part of India and other more arid regions of South Asia, extending to Pakistan.

Construction of ancient wells at that time was of primarily utilitarian value – storage in the reservoirs of ground water in case of drought. Subsequently, they generously included architectural ornaments because the main guardians of the water were women, who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well. Careful and sacred attitude to wells ensure their preservation for centuries.

Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman first described this architectural marvel. She devoted most of the last five years of traveling in India to find and photograph as many wells as possible. After 2015, she resumed the trip to India to find an additional 60 wells, bringing the photos of more than 200 wells, which she personally visited, described and photographed.

After centuries of neglect, some ancient wells are in a dangerous state or disappeared altogether, while others are carefully maintained by local authorities or living near communities that recognize their value and have a good will and finances, to restore them.

In an effort to preserve this wonderful heritage of India, Victoria Lautman made a visual tour of 75 of the most unique and interesting holes in a new book called “The Vanishing Indian Wells (The Vanishing Stepwells of India). The book includes not only original photos of objects, but also the experience of the author of each of them, including the exact coordinates of the location of the wells.

It is hoped that sooner or later a renewed interest to the ancient Indian wells will appear, as well as there is funding for their recovery.

Sources*

Related Topics:

Saving the Lost City of Mohenjo Daro*

Between the Builder and the Architect: Frederick II, and the Castel Del Monte

The Crumbling Ancient Texts That May Hold Life-Saving Cures*

The People and the Crystal Cave

Olmecs: The People behind the Long Count were not Mayans*

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Taxi Service Started By Women, for Women, Launches in India*

Taxi Service Started By Women, for Women, Launches in India*

By Amanda Froelich

 

Did you know? Every day in India, approximately 93 women are raped, according to 2014 statistics. To cut down on the amount of violence and harassment toward females, which are still perceived to be the “lesser sex” by many, a new auto-rickshaw service has been launched which is being hailed as a groundbreaking achievement.

The Times of India reports that Pink Auto Service is owned and operated by women, and only serves other females. Founded by the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), the service seeks to ensure women of any age have safe access to transportation. An additional benefit is guaranteed employment with the company. At present, the Pink Auto Service employs 15 women, and 70 more are in training.

Said Gayatri Jariwala, SMC assistant commissioner: “We have a batch of 70 women and 15 are ready to begin work. They have licenses and we also helped them to get work from schools in the area. We have concentrated on girls schools and girl students for women drivers.”

“We everyday read about harassment of women commuters in different cities. This is why we thought of this service which not only provides employment to women but ensures safe travel for female passengers,” Jariwala added.

It is estimated that every month, the 15 employed women will each be able to earn at least 18,000 Rupees ($278.54 USD) — a decent income for most Indian residents.

Pink Auto Service was initiated by Chief minister Vijay Rupani at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Community Hall in Surat over the weekend. In the future, SMC intends on starting a Pink Van Service to employ even more females.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Top Court Upholds Death Sentences for 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Convicts*

Rape in India Gains Its Rightful Status*

Child Rapist Tied Up and Beaten To Death by Women in India*

Sex Trafficking Victim Receives Compensation from Indian Gov’t*

Rape, Jews, and Bollywood*

The Protocols of Zion

Why ‘More Than a Million Traders’ Are Boycotting Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India*

Why ‘More Than a Million Traders’ Are Boycotting Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India*

By Carey Wedler

Trade organizations in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu are boycotting Coca-Cola and Pepsi amid concerns the two companies are using excessive amounts of water to produce their products. The Guardian reports that “[m]ore than a million traders in India” are now boycotting the drinks.

“These foreign companies are using up scarce water resources of the state,” said K Mohan, secretary of the Vanigar Sangam, one of the associations supporting the boycott, the Guardian reported. These concerns are particularly relevant amid low rainfall rates during the region’s last monsoon. In January “the state’s interim chief minister O Panneerselvam declared the state ‘drought-hit’ and asked the central government for funds to help farmers.”

As the English-language Indian outlet, Daily News and Analysis, reported, “The state has been facing its worst-ever drought in recent decades with over 200 farmers reportedly committing suicide due to multiple crop failure.”

Vikrama Raja, president of Vanigar Sangam, echoed a similar sentiment, singling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for their role in the dilemma.

[Foreign companies] are exploiting the state’s water bodies to manufacture aerated drinks while farmers were facing severe drought,” he said.

Amit Srivastava, director of the India Resource Center, a non-government organization, further elaborated on these concerns. According to the Guardian, the India Resource Center “estimates that it takes 1.9 litres of water to make one small bottle of Coca-Cola.”

Srivastava “says demand for sugar from fizzy drinks companies is also hugely problematic in India.”

Sugarcane is a water-guzzling crop. It is the wrong crop for India,” he said, adding that

“According to our research Coca-Cola is the number one buyer of sugarcane in India and Pepsi is number three. If you take into account the water used for sugarcane, then we’re using 400 litres of water to make a bottle of Cola.”

Additionally, Vikrama Raja expressed disapproval not only of the environmental impacts of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, but also its health effects.

[Soft drinks] cause more harm than good to the body. Only recently, one of the brands had admitted to the fact that it was not suitable for children and that it contained certain harmful chemicals,” he reportedly said.

According to the Business Standard, “A M Vikrama Raja, president, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangham and Tamil Nadu Traders Federation said all retailers and shopkeepers in the state have begun to boycott Pepsi and Coca-Cola, though

 “many of the restaurants and super markets are continuing to sell and they have sought time.” Some retailers have vowed to ignore the boycott and continue selling the products.

Nevertheless, if the boycott is successful, it stands to funnel revenue to local soft drink companies.

“We are expecting a 100 percent increase in our sales if the boycott is implemented,” said S. Karthigaikani, General Manager of the 118-year-old Sri Mappillai Vinayagar Soda Company,” Daily News and Analysis reported.

Currently, as Quartz points out:

Foreign companies such as PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Company, together, account for nearly 90% of the Rs1,400-crore beverage market in the state. Such diktats, if followed by the retailers, could severely affect the two cola majors which have five bottling plants in the state.

The Indian Beverage Association, which represents both Pepsi and Coca-Cola, unsurprisingly expressed disappointment with the boycott.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo India together provide direct employment to 2,000 families in Tamil Nadu and more than 5,000 families indirectly … IBA hopes that good sense will prevail and that consumers will continue to have the right to exercise their choice in Tamil Nadu,” they said.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are not the only companies to receive pushback over their water usage and the health risks their products present. Nestle, for example, has been under fire for its bottling of public water resources in drought-stricken California, as well as unsavory ingredients in some of its products in India. As trade organizations and local governments push back against these practices around the world, it’s doubtful the tug-of-war over resources and commercial access will cease anytime soon.

Source*

Related Topics:

Pepsi by Law Can Keep Adding Carcinogens to Your Soda*

Coca-Cola Forced to Shut Bottling Plant in India*

Rainforest Activists Win against One of Pepsi’s Closest Business Partners*

PepsiCo’s Naked Juice Laced with Synthetic and GMO Ingredients

Coca-Cola and Cocaine is Old Business*

Occupy World: Coca-Cola Forced to Abandon $25mn Project in India*

Who is backing who: US Coca-Cola (Monsanto) boycott Glasgow for Supporting Gaza*

Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee Caught Selling Drinks Infected With Faecal Bacteria*

Child Rapist Tied Up and Beaten To Death by Women in India*

Child Rapist Tied Up and Beaten To Death by Women in India*

A man accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old girl in a village in India has reportedly been beaten to death.

Video of a group of Indian women beating a child rapist with sticks has gone viral.

Showing absolutely no regard for the country’s criminal justice system – an example of justice delayed, justice denied – a group of mothers tied the rapist’s hands behind his back, dragged him across the ground with a long rope, and used long sticks to hit him and seek instant justice for raping and killing an eight-year-old girl near the city of Dumka in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

The man, identified as 30-year-old Mithun Hansda, didn’t fight the whipping even as dozens of women and children looked on as the group of women took turns to thrash him. Hansda died on the spot.

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Top Court Upholds Death Sentences for 2012 Delhi Gang Rape Convicts*

Rape in India Gains Its Rightful Status*

Sex Trafficking Victim Receives Compensation from Indian Gov’t*

10-Year-Old Schoolgirl Set on Fire, Thrown into Dry Well for Fighting Off Gang Rape

Rape, Jews, and Bollywood*

Swedish Music Festival Forced to Cancel as Rape Epidemic Beyond Control*

 

 

I’m a Pakistani Hindu. So what Business do I have Missing Eid?

I’m a Pakistani Hindu. So what Business do I have Missing Eid?

By Nisha Pinjani

Last summer during Ramadhan, I shared the Shan Masala Eid commercial like Pakistanis all over the world. The ad showed two brothers spending the occasion away from home. For the purposes of the advert, a simple plate of Sindhi biryani was the balm to their feeling of homesickness.

This year, I found myself in the characters’ shoes.

Away from Pakistan for my graduate studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, I was scrolling through Facebook when I found the usual Eid-related posts flooding my timeline.

Unending stories about tailors and broken promises, event pages for chand raat meet­-ups, and the perpetual confusion on whether the next day would be Eid or another Roza (followed promptly by jokes at the Ruet­-i-­Hilal committee’s expense).

Soon enough, WhatsApp groups were abuzz with ‘Chand Mubarak’ wishes. While my friends in Karachi made plans to grab chai on the eve before Eid, I was literally stuck on an island. Sitting alone in my dorm room, I couldn’t help but feel blue — I missed home, my friends and my family.

I found myself thinking back to the Shan commercial. But while the ad’s protagonist and I were experiencing similar homesickness, we were quite dissimilar. He was a Muslim man from Pakistan; I am Pakistani Hindu woman.

What business do I have missing Eid?

Growing up as a Hindu in an Islamic republic is full of contradictions. My mother is often hesitant and wary of my Muslim friends. A bit strange, considering she is more than happy if I invite them to our home.

Perhaps this perplexing attitude is passed down through generations. As a young girl I loved listening to my grandfather’s partition stories. He would tell us incidents where Muslims went door-to-door killing any Hindu in sight (I’m sure Muslims grow up with similar stories of cold-blooded Hindus).

But then, he would also talk about his Muslim neighbours. The ones who protected our family, who made a human chain around our house when the riots broke out.

The obvious takeaway here was that good and bad people exist everywhere. But my grandfather’s stories carried an underlying warning: you can get close to Muslims, but remember that you are not one of them (and they know it too).

Following this tradition of mixed messages, every Ramadhan, many Hindus living in Pakistan fast. My mother herself happily sets an alarm to wake my sister up for sehri. She prepares an elaborate sehri, and reminiscent of the Thadri festival — where Hindus fast — her fried lolis make an appearance at the table.

No one else in my house wakes up with them, but we make it a point to join in for Iftar, and jokingly try to convince my sister that eating five minutes before the adhan is acceptable.

And then comes Eid. At least in Pakistan, Eid and Diwali have much in common. Both are marked by an abundance of mithai. It is customary to wear new clothes if one can afford them, and like Eidi on Eid, it is traditional to give presents on Diwali too. Every year, my family welcomes our friends over for Diwali, and come Eid, we visit our Muslim friends’ houses.

Yet, each time a story breaks of another Hindu girl being kidnapped and forcefully converted, my interactions with male Muslim friends start causing my mother distress. “Be careful around Muslim boys,” she warns me. It is frustrating, but I can see where she is coming from.

When I heard news of the Hindu reporter in Karachi who was forced to drink from a separate glass, my blood boiled. Sitting thousands of miles away, I was instantly transported back to my childhood when something similar happened to me (and I am sure, many religious minorities like me): a classmate had refused to share utensils with me because I was Hindu.

Children’s acts are a reflection of what they are taught at home. Many years later, seeing this news was a bitter reminder that even among supposedly educated, well-knowing adults, prejudice is alive and well.

The white in the flag

I have long known that despite having the same nationality, my Muslim friends back home and I are different in many ways.

During Pakistan Studies classes in school, teachers would make irresponsible claims about how Hindus were single-handedly responsible for the loss of Muslim lives. Reduced to a ‘cow-worshipper’ during the lectures, I would suddenly be othered, excluded, bullied.

As I grew up, my ‘otherness’ interestingly became exotic. The same identity I had been bullied over now became my ticket to being a ‘cool kid’— since I had access to all the firecrackers (thank you, Diwali), and invitations to holi parties.

As we grew up underneath the layers of systemically taught hate, my Muslim friends and I began to find common ground, and developed a better understanding of each other. I would sneak them into our temples so they could get a glimpse of my world, and accompany them to Mughal­ era mosques to get a sense of theirs.

I still come across a simpleton or two who wants me to prove my Pakistani-ness. Every time Pakistan plays a cricket match against India, there is always that one guy who wants to know, “How come you’re not supporting the Indian team instead?”

Thankfully, more often than not, my friends take over the task of shutting such bigotry down.

I keep thinking back to my family enjoying their long Eid break in Pakistan. We are a huge family, and most of my cousins are older, working people. On Diwali (a working day for most Pakistani Hindus until recently) we are usually only able to manage a dinner, however, the longer Eid holidays are quality family time for us.

During Eid, we get together at a farmhouse or the beach. We laze around playing cards, barbecuing, and catching up on gossip. Eid mornings mean waking up to seviyan and other breakfast treats, with my uncles over, watching the news and discussing the current state of affairs in Karachi.

Away from home, I find myself missing it all. Whether it is the memory of spending time with my family by the waves; or the calming sound of the adhan; or Eid plans with my friends to get mehendi.

Home, after all, is home, no matter how dysfunctional.

And so, on the first day of Eid in Hawaii, not unlike the characters in the Shan Masala advert, I picked up a packet of seviyan from a desi store here. I looked up the recipe online, managing to burn half the packet, and cursed myself for never waking up early with my mother to help out.

But my friends came over and made custard and fruit salad. I ended up spending the day recreating what Eid has always been about for me back home in Pakistan: good company, laughter, and a satisfied stomach. It was heartening watching my American friends try seviyan for the first time, while assuring them that the delicacy is indeed supposed to look semi-charred.

Source*

Related Topics:

Muslims Across the World Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

U.S.-led Coalition Killed Nearly 500 Civilians in Syria during Ramadhan*

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

Eid Mubarak- final Ramadan Reflection 2011

Demonetisation 2.0: Indian Businesses Brace for Biggest-ever Tax Reform*

Demonetisation 2.0: Indian Businesses Brace for Biggest-ever Tax Reform*

Businessman Pankaj Jain is so worried about the impending launch of a new sales tax in India that he is thinking of shutting down his tiny textile factory for a month to give himself time to adjust.

Jain is one of millions of small business owners who face wrenching change from India’s biggest tax reform since independence that will unify the country’s $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion people into a common market.

But he is simply not ready for a regime that from July 1 will for the first time tax the bed linen his 10 workers make, and require him to file his taxes every month online.

On the desk in his tiny office in Meerut, two hours drive northeast of New Delhi, lay two calculators. Turning to open a metal cabinet, he pulled out a hand-written ledger to show how he keeps his books.

“We will have to hire an accountant – and get a computer,” the thickset 52-year-old told Reuters, as a dozen ancient power looms clattered away in the ramshackle workshop next door.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says that by replacing several federal and state taxes, the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) will make life simpler for business.

To drive home the point, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has appeared in a promotional video in which he weaves a cat’s cradle between the fingers of his hands – symbolising India’s thicket of old taxes.

With a flourish, the tangle is gone and Bachchan proclaims: “One nation, one tax, one market!”

Not so simple

By tearing down barriers between India’s 29 states, the GST should deliver efficiency gains to larger businesses. HSBC estimates the reform could add 0.4% to economic growth.

Yet at the local chapter of the Indian Industries Association, which groups 6,500 smaller enterprises nationwide, the talk is about how to cope in the aftermath of the GST rollout.

“In the initial months, there may be utter confusion,” said chairman Ashok Malhotra, who runs one firm that manufactures voltage stabilisers and a second that makes timing equipment for boxing contests.

A big concern is the Indian GST’s sheer complexity – with rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, and myriad exceptions, it contrasts with simpler, flatter and broader sales taxes in other countries.

The official schedule of GST rates runs to 213 pages and has undergone repeated last-minute changes. “Rubber goods are taxed at 12%; sporting goods at 18%.

I make rubber sporting goods so what tax am I supposed to pay?” asks Anurag Agarwal, the local IIA secretary.

Grace period?

The top government official responsible for coordinating the GST rollout rebuts complaints from bosses that the tax is too complex, adding that the IT back-end that will drive it – crunching up to 5 billion invoices a month – is robust.

“It is a technological marvel, as well as a fiscal marvel,” Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told Reuters in an interview.

The government will, however, allow firms to file simplified returns for July and August.

From September they must file a total of 37 online returns annually – three each month and one at the year’s end – for each state they operate in.

One particular concern is how a new feature of the GST, the input tax credit, will work. This allows a company to claim refunds on its inputs and means it should only pay tax on the value it adds.

The structure will encourage companies to buy from suppliers that are GST-compliant, so that tax credits can flow down a supply chain.

That spells bad news for small firms hesitating to shift into the formal economy.

The government estimates smaller companies account for 45% of manufacturing and employ more than 117 million people.

Adhia played down the risk of job losses, however, saying this would be offset by new service sector jobs.

Demonetisation 2.0

The prospect of disruption is drawing comparisons with Modi’s decision last November to scrap high-value bank notes that made up 86% of the cash in circulation, in a bid to purge illicit “black money” from the system.

The note ban caused severe disruption to India’s cash-driven economy and slammed the brakes on growth, which slowed to a two-year low in the quarter to March.

“It could throw the business out of gear – it can affect your volumes by at least 30%,” said the head of one large cement company in the Delhi region.

Back in Meerut, Pankaj Jain worries that hiring an accountant and charging 5% GST on his bedsheets could eat up to two-thirds of his annual profits of 400,000-500,000 rupees ($6,210-$7,760).

“I know my costs will go up, but I don’t know about my income,” he said.

“I might even have to shut up shop completely and go into trading.”

Source*

Related Topics:

The New Imperial Roman Empire*

In the Move towards a Cashless Society India’s GDP Growth Slumps*

IMF Issue Working Paper on Eliminating Cash*

Congress Want to make it Illegal to Hold cash, Bitcoin, or Other Assets outside of a Bank*

E.U. Picks Up Speed in the War on Cash*

E.U. Desperate to Raises Taxes Starts Cashless Society Project November 2017*

How Greece Became a Guinea Pig for a Cashless and Controlled Society*

 

Indian State Will Pay Farmers to go 100% Organic and GMO-Free*

Indian State Will Pay Farmers to go 100% Organic and GMO-Free*

Just over two years ago, in September 2014, the Indian Government launched their revolutionary  Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (National Agriculture Development Program) as a way to encourage organic farming, and decrease dependence on chemical agents.

In January 2015, the state of Sikkim was declared as the country’s first 100 percent organic state.

Sikkim produces 800,000 tons of organic produce that’s free of harmful pesticides, chemical fertilizers and toxic GMOs — accounting for roughly 65% of India’s total organic produce yields.

The western Indian state of Rajasthan launched plans for dedicating thousands of hectares of land for the farming of organic pulses just a few months later.

Their effort seeks to combat the rampant protein malnutrition, and the unsustainable practice of chemical fertilizer-based farming.

Another western Indian state now also seeks to join in. Goa has also recently announced that they will be looking to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and is also seeking to go 100 percent organic.

The State Department of Agriculture has launched a state sector plan titled, “Assistance for use of organic inputs by the farmer.”

Ulhas Pai Kakode, Director of Agriculture, commented:

“This is the first step we have taken in the direction of organic farming in the state.

“Hopefully, more and more farmers should adopt the practice of organic farming after availing this scheme.”

Under this new plan, farmers can receive significant assistance from the government when it comes to obtaining organic agricultural inputs, such as organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides.

Up to 50% of the tab will picked up by the state government, but there will be some limitations.

AnonHQ explains that these benefits will be limited to 10,000 Indian Rupees (INR) per hectare with a maximum of up to two hectares, or INR 20,000 per beneficiary for all categories of farmers on the use of organic inputs.

Farmers with plots as small as 0.1 hectare will be considered eligible for the program — which will also help to keep the tradition of small-scale ingidenous farming alive and well.

Organic farming is nothing new; it’s a tradition that has sadly been overtaken by overzealous corporations.

In India, organic farming has been practiced since ancient times and once ensured quality food for consumers.

The recent resurgence of organic farming in India, however, is largely due to the increasing demand for organic products in Western nations.

The organic food and fibre market is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, with some estimates suggesting that the market is expanding by up to 25 to 30 percent.

A study by ASSOCHAM, which stands for The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, suggests that the organic food market in India will reach $1.36 billion by the year 2020.

The study also suggested that organic farming efforts short focus largely on pulses and grains.

The exponential growth of the organic market has even led food manufacturers in the United States to pay their farmers to make the switch to organic practices.

In the U.S. alone, sales in organic marketplace expanded by about 11%— reaching a whopping $43.3 billion last year — equalling about four times the growth in sales of food products, overall.

Organic farming in India is also expected to continue to grow, especially as the government continues to financially support organic farming endeavors.

Increased awareness and availability of organic foods has also greatly contributed to the success of organic food.

Additionally, the rise in health consciousness and healthier lifestyle changes have also played a significant role in the growth and demand of organic foods.

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Organic Rice Revolution Proves GMOs Are Unnecessary*

Monsanto Has Lost $11 Million As Indian Cotton Farmers Begin To Use Indigenous Seed*

Virtually Indestructible Rogue GMO Grass Threatens Environment, Wildlife and Industry*

GMO Golden Rice Shows Stunted and Abnormal Growth with Reduced Grain Yield*

Iraq’s Agricultural Industry was Pillaged, Its Farmers Devastated, But It’s Still Free of GMO Seeds*

Largest-Ever GMO Crops Study Shows Massive Environmental Damage in U.S.*