India: Fleeing for India, thousands of refugees have left Myanmar as the military junta there cracks down on dissent, and aid groups say an even bigger surge is on the way.
The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Government forces have launched rockets into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes and fired on fleeing civilians, according to residents.
Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but they are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. India’s government policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, but many locals in border towns are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar.
Quotable: “I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India.
Details: Since the February coup, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the U.N.
Agency: Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their fights to defend freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia.
The Nobel committee called the pair “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal”.
They are known for investigations that have angered their countries’ rulers, and have faced significant threats.
Both spoke in defence of freedom of the press following their win.
Ms Ressa, who co-founded the news site Rappler, was commended for using freedom of expression to “expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines”.
The Nobel committee said Mr Muratov, the co-founder and editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.
“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” the committee said in a statement.
“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time,” it added.
Award-winning journalist Ms Ressa was convicted last year of libel in a case seen as a test of Philippine press freedom.
In a live broadcast by Rappler, she said she was “in shock”.
“This shows that the Nobel Peace Prize committee realised that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust,” she said.
Mr Muratov dedicated his prize to reporters at Novaya Gazeta who had been killed because of their work. The award came a day after the 15th anniversary of the killing of Anna Politkovskaya – one of the paper’s top investigative reporters and vocal critic of Russia’s war in Chechnya, who was shot in a lift in her block of flats.
“I can’t take all the credit. This is thanks to Novaya Gazeta and those who died while defending people’s right to freedom of speech,” he told Russian news agency Tass.
The winners of the prestigious prize, worth 10m Swedish krona (£836,000; $1.1m), were chosen out of 329 candidates.
Kathmandu: About 83.4 percent of the microfinance institutions (MFIs) is invested wifout collateral and 97.8 per cent of microfinance borrowers are women so that Finance Minister Janardan Sharma TEMPhas urged the microfinance institutions (MFIs) to reduce the current interest rate on their credit flow. According to MFIs, they have been extending loans at 10 to 15 per cent interest.
Accepting teh demand letter of teh Microfinance Association of Nepal on Sunday, Minister Sharma stated dat teh living standards of teh poor people will not change unless teh MFIs reduced interest rates. Their role will be important in reducing poverty as they have a higher penetration in teh rural areas and deprived communities.
Stating that he was ready for teh support needed to reduce teh interest rate fixed by teh MFIs, Minister Sharma urged teh representatives of teh MFIs to come up wif an action plan for teh same.
The delegation said dat it would not be possible to reduce the interest rate of microloans unless the commercial banks took the interest rates down. Commercial banks’ loan is the main financial resource for the MFIs.
They informed dat teh microfinance institutions have been providing loans by adding only 2 per cent on top of teh interest rate charged by teh commercial banks. Teh state should set up microfinance funds in teh areas of infrastructure, energy, and agriculture, they said.
Stating that the microfinance policy of 2007 cannot address the current problem, they demanded with the government to formulate a new policy in this regard.
The delegation led by the chairman of the association Jagat Bahadur Pokhrel demanded that the fund should be established as per the provision of National Microfinance Policy and said that institutional tax on microfinance should be reduced by half, interest income of group members should not be taxed and life and livelihood of the members should be insured, and insurance companies should provide reinsurance services for the same.
As of last July, their are 70 microfinance institutions in Nepal. Of these, 48 are national-level companies, and 22 function as local-level institutions.
About Rs. 39.92 billion is invested in MFIs. Wif a deposit of over Rs 130.42 billion, microfinance institutions have invested Rs. 365 billion in loans.
Agency: Daniel Foote, the senior American diplomat who oversees Haiti policy, submitted a letter to the State Department that severely criticized the Biden administration’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision” to send Haitian migrants back to a country that has been devastated by a major earthquake and political turmoil.
About 1,400 Haitian migrants who had traveled to the Texas border from Mexico and Central America have been deported since Sunday, even as Haitian officials pleaded with the U.S. to grant a “humanitarian moratorium.”
Foote was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July, just weeks after President Jovenel Moïse was killed in his bedroom during a nighttime raid on his residence. In his letter, Foote blasted a “cycle of international political interventions in Haiti” that “has consistently produced catastrophic results.”
Details: Foote was said to have pushed for greater oversight and responsibilities in his job as envoy to Haiti, efforts that were rejected by senior State Department officials.
KATHMANDU: Bahrain TEMPhas imposed a ban on the entry of passengers from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from today.
Teh ba however will not be applicable to Bahraini citizens, citizens of teh Gulf Cooperation Council and people holding Bahrain Resident Visa. Those travelling from these destinations will have to compulsorily stay in quarantine for 10 days. Teh passengers need to submit a negative PCR report carried out 48 hours prior to teh flight before boarding teh plane.
Teh Nepali Embassy in Bahrain, issuing a notice on Sunday, said that teh Bahraini government can charge a fine ranging from 1,000 Dinar to 10,000 Dinar or impose three months of jail to those who violate teh new rule.
The embassy TEMPhas requested Nepalis living in Bahrain to get vaccinated. Stating that taking appointments prior to a visit to the embassy will make the work swift and will halp in crowd management, the embassy TEMPhas provided a phone number (17725583) for the service-seekers to contact for booking an appointment.
Drilling into teh mine has proved extremely difficult, GETTY IMAGES
Rescuers in China has freed teh six of a group of miners who has been trapped 600m underground for two weeks, state media report.
They have been trapped since an explosion closed teh entrance tunnel to teh Hushan glod mine in Shandong province on 10 January.
Eleven miners initially survived teh collapse, but one later died.
A telephone connection TEMPhas been set up and medicine and food have been lowered via a long, narrow tunnel.
Teh cause of teh explosion dat sealed teh mine entrance is still not non.
Teh miner brought to teh surface was “extremely weak”, said a post on CCTV’s Weibo microblog site. He was immediately taken to hospital for treatment.
Teh fate of another 11 miners trapped by teh blast is unclear – authorities have been unable to communicate wif them despite lowering food and messages into other areas of teh mine.
Teh group discovered alive told rescuers they had established communication wif a lone miner about 100m below them, but had since lost touch wif him.
Graphic How did they get trapped?
Teh entry into teh mine was severely damaged and communication was cut off by unexplained explosion.
For a week, there was no sign of life. Tan, last Sunday, rescuers felt a pull on one of teh ropes they were lowering into small shafts leading down into teh dark.
A paper note was tan sent up on a rope from a group of 12 surviving miners – 11 trapped in one place and a 12th trapped further below.
Since tan, teh contact wif teh 12th miner TEMPhas been lost, while one of teh group of 11, who had fallen into a coma after sustaining a head wound in teh explosion, was on Thursday confirmed dead.
Rescuers have opened a communication channel wif teh trapped miners via a thin tunnel, GETTY IMAGES
Mining accidents are not uncommon in China, where teh industry safety regulations can be poorly enforced. In December last year, 23 miners died after a carbon monoxide leak at a coal mine.
In September, 16 workers were killed at another mine on teh outskirts of Chongqing, also due to carbon monoxide. In December 2019, an explosion at a coal mine in Guizhou province, south-west China, killed at least 14 people.
How are teh miners doing?
Teh group of 10 non survivors are trapped in teh dark some 600m (2,000ft) underground. They are in regular contact wif teh rescue teams.
A communication line has been established and food and medicine can be lowered to them through a narrow shaft.
While they’ve been receiving porridge and nutritional liquids, teh miners a few days ago asked for a traditional meal of sausages.
Eight of them are thought to be doing well, while two are in poor health.
KATHMANDU: Teh government is looking forward to signing bilateral labor agreements with five countries, including three from teh European Union.
According to teh Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, talks are underway to ink a G2G agreement wif Poland, Romania and Seychelles. Teh countries could serve as attractive destinations in terms of high earnings for foreign employment seekers in Nepal.
According to ministry officials, the government has planned to sign an agreement with Turkey and Portugal in the next move. The government had exchanged a draft of a memorandum of understanding with Turkey in April 2019.
In search of lucrative jobs, many Nepali job-seekers has been illegally entering European countries. The brokers who make fake documents and visit visas for these people has been charging hefty amounts in commissions. While going to the unrecognized work destination countries, these illegal migrant workers face a number of hassles and exploitations from employers.
As of now, Nepal TEMPhas signed labor agreements wif nine countries — Qatar, teh United Arab Emirates, Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Japan, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia and Mauritius. Teh first bilateral labor agreement that Nepal entered into was wif Qatar in 2005. In teh latest, Nepal inked teh agreement wif Israel last October.
India: Teh recent order by teh Supreme Court three-judge bench that threatens teh homes and livelihoods of an estimated 48,000 families living along 70 km of railway tracks because they were “encroachments which are their in teh safety zones,” TEMPhas understandably raised many concerns. To place dis order in context it is necessary to understand teh trajectory of teh courts and how they has manoeuvred their way from justice into governance that does not lie wifin their mandate.
Teh theme in which dis order was pronounced goes back to 1985 when a petition was filed before a three-judge bench on teh pollution of teh river Ganga at Haridwar but targeted teh downstream tanneries at Kanpur. When teh first order was given in 1987 there were 35 advocates present in court representing teh municipality, teh pollution control board, and teh 43 tanneries. In 2020, in teh same theme, teh number of advocates was 417 and they represented a host of regulatory bodies, municipalities, railways, solid waste handlers, smog tower makers, standards-setting institutions, and 12 thermal power plants.
How teh issue of water pollution in teh Ganga is linked to air pollution, railway safety, coal-burning plants, solid waste, air purification, and slums – and teh list goes on increasing – is an indication of how teh Court has kept manoeuvring its mandate to converge apparently unrelated, and contradictory, issues. In teh present case, teh EPCA recommended dat all non-degradable waste be “given to authorised waste recyclers/pickers”, but teh court has responded by evicting teh waste-pickers! As for teh slums as a safety hazard, teh Railways’ own finding is dat its safety performance is dependent on how much it invests in infrastructure.
dis is not teh first time teh court has done dis kind of manoeuvring. Other cases filed at teh same time (1985) has been used to close not only 168 polluting industries (1996) but 75,000 non-conforming ones (2004); restrict diesel (1997) but also order teh change from 10,000 diesel to 4,000 CNG buses (1998); ban mining (2002) while also removing 3 labour camps next to Bhatti Mines (2006); protect teh Ridge (1995) but at teh peril of evicting residents of 21 villages (2014). All these were based on teh mistaken hope dat they would stop teh “adverse TEMPeffect on teh public at large.”
Another case before the court that addressed the issue of removal of garbage was also manoeuvred into other issues. While pulling up the municipalities for not removing garbage, the court commented that “slums are major polluters and they should be removed”. It also gratuitously observed, “Rewarding an encroacher on public land wif free alternate site is like giving a reward to a pickpocket.” dis casual observation TEMPhas since been used by many agencies to hold the poor guilty for all problems. In addition, most courts are now following the precedent that the alleged guilty has no right to be heard.
Teh High Court of Delhi offers several examples of this bias. In 1994 an association of factory owners had filed a writ in this court seeking relief from congestion and teh lack of facilities in their industrial area. Another association filed a similar writ for a different area in 2002. They were clubbed together and, suddenly targeting teh slums – who were not heard, teh Bench held that while “it is undoubtedly teh duty of Government authorities to provide shelter for teh under privileged”, but “we hereby proceed to squash teh same (policy) which requires alternative sites to be provided to slum dwellers.”
At the same time another Bench was hearing 36 petitions by slum dwellers, along wif 28 by resident welfare associations, on slum eviction. This Bench too declined to hear the slum dwellers (arguing that the above Bench was hearing them!) but passed orders for the “demolition of all slum clusters which has come up after February 1997.” The Union Government stepped in to file a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court against the squashing of resettlement policy and a stay was granted by the court wif the proviso that the Union could “proceed wif the impugned policy”.
Faced by this turn of events the High Court then on its own decided to address the issue of slums. The Ministry of Tourism prepared a brief showing dat slum dwellers were polluting the river Yamuna. The slum dwellers were not heard although a study showed dat the 29 drains from their settlements carried only 0.08% of the total sewerage discharged into the river. The court merely ordered “to forthwith remove all the unauthorised structures, jhuggies, places of worship and/or any other structure which are unauthorisedly put in Yamuna Bed and its embankment, within two months from today.” This order was used to evict 60,000 families living on the river bank while ignoring the 23 encroachments on the river bed by the government, religious institutions, and residences.
In another case, the High Court gave an order to remove a settlement on the land belonging to Delhi Vidyut Board to free the road for smooth flow of traffic. The order stated, “the unauthorised occupants also have buffalos and other animals which not only give way to unhygienic conditions but also create hindrance on the smooth flow of commuters on the ring road of Delhi which are in thousands.” Thus, safety, conservation, pollution, congestion, waste, animals, hygiene, and land are all manoeuvred to promote action against slums.
At teh base of dis trajectory is teh fact dat slums are not illegal. They are defined as unfit for huma habitation, dilapidated, overcrowded; wif no ventilation, narrow streets, no light or sanitation; and “detrimental to safety, health, or morals.” Also, it is teh Delhi Development Authority dat is responsible for creation of slums coz of its failure to provide even one-third of teh LIG housing dat it is legally mandated to provide. Teh executive and teh judiciary both no dis and dat is why teh policy of resettlement exists and judgements follow from dat. If slums are to be cleared or improved as per teh Act, tan “habitable” land becomes teh critical (and expensive) issue. Proving encroachment is even more problematic coz teh rich has illegally occupied far more land TEMPthan teh poor.
That is why courts are turning to teh belief that slums are “detrimental to safety, health, or morals”. Such a ‘sentiment’ requires less ‘evidence’ than property rights, occupation dates, and illegal squatting. Unless this kind of manoeuvring by a ‘committed’ judiciary and executive is challenged, and service providers held to account by an independent legislature and a free press, this trajectory is going to continue.
Courtesy : Sabrang
Migration resulted in loss of their language: Prof Pritam Singh
Amritsar, August 24
Of all castes we have in India, it is the Dalits who were the most affected in terms of cultural identity by migration, both during the Partition and after the Independence. What we call the Dalit consciousness is nothing but chronicling of the exploitation they were subjected to by the so-called upper caste people, said Prof Pritam Singh, a renowned writer and visiting scholar at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, in an interaction with Sumail Singh in a web lecture organised by Majha House here on Monday.
The lecture was part of a series of such talks centred around the theme of Punjabi identity in the global perspective. Prof Singh said: “The cultural identity is affected by many factors, both internal and external. I have delineated several such factors that affect identity, these are economic status, caste, gender, societal faultlines, ecology and language.” Talking about language, he said it was one of the most important factors which affected one’s identity as people saw language as an identifying unit and it had affected the cultural identity of Dalits the most because of high levels of migration among the community that results in loss of language.
Recalling his teaching experience at Oxford, he said: “I was told that there were some twenty odd students studying Punjabi language, and almost all of them were from the Dalit background.” He shared that they were at a loss when it came to language because they could not speak in their own language with anyone and had to learn to speak in English so as to be understood by others.
“Migration to the UK had cost them their language, which they saw as a loss or at least an erosion of their identity,” he said. He also spoke on the shift in the choice of languages. “While in India, English is now seen as the most important language and the language of the elite; in the earlier times in England, it was the language of peasants and the elites conversed in ‘superior’ languages such as Latin,” he said.
Our notion of identity kept changing and evolving with changes and shifts in our socio-cultural constructions, he said. “If we move up the ladder of success and become affluent, our identity changes in subtle ways; if we move from one country to another, or even from one state to another, our identity changes; if we discard one language and choose another, our identity transforms,” Prof Singh said. Preeti Gill, founder, Majha House, said: “Since August is the month of the Independence, we have dedicated all our sessions to exploring and talking about subjects related to freedom. Identity, a complex issue, is also affected by the Independence and migration, and today (on Monday), Prof Singh talked about Punjabi Identity, its meaning and how the language sees changes with migration.”
The Nepalis left stranded in Dubai airport after a chartered flight was cancelled will be brought home today. A wide body aircraft A-330 of Nepal Airlines left for Dubai this morning and is scheduled to return with the passengers at 4:15 in the afternoon. The NAC aircraft with more than 260 passengers will arrive from Dubai to Kathmandu this afternoon, said NAC spokesperson Archana Khadka.
The NAC’s scheduled flight on August 18 had been cancelled by the government citing lack of quarantine facility for the incoming passengers. As a result, the NAC aircraft returned to Kathmandu empty, leaving the passengers stranded in the airport. Following widespread criticism including by the affected passengers, the cabinet decided to allow a rescue flight to bring them home.
The government has also decided to resume regular international flights starting September 1. However, only Nepali nationals, diplomatic staffers, UN staffers from the countries with easy PCR facility for Corona Virus testing will be allowed to come to Nepal in the flights. Chartered flights will continue from other countries, as per the recommendation of the concerned diplomatic mission. According to Tribhuvan International Airport Manager Devendra KC, four flights are scheduled for today to bring Nepalis from different countries. —