Heat-shield mechanism, stringent security checks and expert craftsmanship? With summer fast approaching, Hema Vijay goes around the city to put together fascinating nuggets about the Baya weavers who get ready for the nesting season with their signature gourd-shaped hanging nests
In an increasingly tech-driven and impersonal world, Sudha Umashanker discovers Dr. Rita Charon, whose Narrative Medicine programme trains doctors to spend time listening and empathising with their patients as they share their stories
Malaysia today launched a terror probe into the mysterious disappearance of a plane with 239 people aboard after it emerged that two passengers boarded the flight with stolen passports, even as a massive multinational search mission continued for the second day without any success.Preliminary investigation indicated that the Boeing 777-200 flight of Malaysia Airlines that went missing yesterday over the South China Sea en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur may have turned back. The plane had 227 passengers aboard, including five Indians and one Indian- origin Canadian, and 12 crew members.Planes and ships from six countries today resumed the hunt for the MH370 flight that suddenly disappeared from the radar one hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur Airport on Friday midnight.The discovery that two passengers were carrying stolen passports raised the unsettling possibility of foul play.We are not ruling out anything, the chief executive of Malaysia Airlines Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in Kuala Lumpur on being asked whether terror angle was being probed.On two impostors who boarded the flight using passports lost by an Italian and an Austrian, Malaysian Defence Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said authorities would screen the entire manifest of the flight.The minister confirmed the FBI has dispatched its officers to Malaysia. At the same time our own intelligence has been activated, and of course, the counter-terrorism units... from all the relevant countries have been informed, he said.Hussein also did not rule out the possibility of a hijack.Meanwhile, Interpol today said at least two passports recorded as lost or stolen in its database were used by the passengers. International police agency said it was examining additional suspect passports.Officials from Malaysias Department of Civil Aviation today said they have dispatched three jets to join the massive search and were working with a US company that specialises in disaster recovery to locate the aircraft.They said the search effort continued overnight to locate the missing plane. But the mission made little progress as they have not traced any wreckage or debris afloat.The search and rescue teams are still unable to detect the whereabouts of the missing aircraft en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines said in a statement.The airline is continuously working with the authorities in providing assistance. In fearing for the worst, a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, United States, will be assisting Malaysia Airlines in this crucial time.A command centre would be set up either in Kota Baru, in Kelantan state or in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, as soon as it could establish the location of the missing aircraft, it added.Malaysian authorities are also looking into the possibility of an air turn back that could have been undertaken by the missing plane, a senior minister said today.In an air turn back, a plane returns to its airport of origin as a result of a malfunction or suspected malfunction of any item on the aircraft.
A Supreme Court ruling overturning a Delhi High Court order decriminalising gay sex may have aggrieved members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, but the rainbow youth brigade looks forward to the April-May general elections, hoping young guns at the centre will bring about a positive change in law.As more and more youngsters of alternative sexuality come out of the closet - firm estimates of the LGBT population do not exist since there has never been a census based on sexual preferences but varied estimates put the figure at 10 percent of Indias population of 1.2 billion - they expect the educated leaders of their generation to be in sync with the times and sentiments, and, walk the talk.The Supreme Court last December upheld the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, ruling that consensual gay sex between adults is illegal. Topping this up, in January the apex court dismissed a plea of the central government, NGO Naz Foundation and others for reviewing its overarching verdict.The aftermath saw the Congress party criticising the verdict. However, members and activists rue the lack of any substantial action thereafter.I hope the next government does something positive for the community. The present government failed to tackle it. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi slammed the ruling, but nothing was done, Kanch Mehta, a lesbian working in Pune, told IANS, asserting her wish to vote for change.The BJP is completely silent and there isnt much to expect from anyone else... the next government at the centre should do something substantial. I am hoping the new leaders are sympathetic and can act, she added.Rohan Noronha, a gay freelancer, echoed Mehta.We live in a hypocritical society. Politicians came forward with support in the aftermath of the ruling, but later they turned their backs on us. I want to see more of the so-called foreign educated, youth leaders in the next government. I hope they can infuse fresh thought on the subject, Noronha told IANS, admitting he wont vote because of technical errors in his voters I-card that labels him a female.Transgender (TG) fashion designer Debi Debnath raised another burning topic: Though the Aadhaar card has options for TG, the voters card has just two - male and female.I am undecided about voting though I have got my I-card a few days back. Since I am not a biological female, I am included as a male. Its very confusing. After my doctors give the go-ahead, I will be a female and then I will have to change my details, Debnath told IANS. We are the youth and we do contribute to society. Something must be worked out by the next government to ease our voting process, he said.Souvik, a queer citizen of Kolkata, professed faith in the voting process. Boycotting elections is not an option for him.Voting is part of a democratic process and personally I am not in favour of boycotting the elections. I hope the next government soon starts the process of change...they must first file a curative petition (in the Supreme Court). The Congress didnt have the time to do anything, he said.Social activist Saswati Ghosh pointed out another way for disillusioned voters from the LGBT community.They should use the NOTA (none of the above) option to show that the community is not receiving any political coverage, she said.For gender-sexuality activist Pawan Dhall, the fact remains that no one in the political circles bothered about LGBT rights until the Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377.No one bothered about it until the ruling. We will support any party which comes out with a specific plan...any party that has a comprehensive view of social marginalisation including the LGBT community...but a party that doesnt speak about womens issues, we will not accept that either, said Dhall, a founder-member of the voluntary organisation Varta that promotes gender and sexual education in Kolkata.Even in West Bengal, where the community is the most visible, the ruling Trinamool Congress has failed to take cognizance of the matter, he said.Compared to states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu where the governments have set up welfare boards for hijras and TGs, Bengal hasnt done anything concrete. Also there is a lack of proactive dialogue between the politicians and the LGBT networks, Dhall said.Meenakshi Sanyal, managing trustee of Sappho For Equality - one of the primary NGOs supporting the LGBT community in eastern India - felt its time for a serious dialogue with government officials.The state government has neither done anything positive, nor has it done anything negative. It has, however, not stopped LGBT members from studying in government colleges; so thats a good sign. We can have across-the-table talks. As for voting, we will vote as citizens and humans, Sanyal told IANS.
To check spying activities, Barmer district authorities have directed telephone booth operators near the Indo-Pak border to keep record of international calls and callers.District Collector Bhanu Prakash Yeturu has also extended the ban on use of Pakistani SIM in Barmer in view of national security.These orders have been issued with a view to keeping a check on spying activities in Barmer district, Yeturu told PTI today.Any violation of the directives will invite legal action, the District Collector said.The use of Pakistani SIM is banned in the district and an order in this regard is renewed after two months, he said.The telephone operators near the border area have been asked to maintain a record of international calls made from their booths, the DC said.Signals emanating from Pakistan-based telecom companies usually get detected up to 3-4 km inside the India territory, officials said.
Congress today scotched speculation that senior leader and Defence Minister A K Antony might contest from a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala.Antony himself has asked me to make it clear to the media that he would not be contesting the Lok Sabha polls. He wants this to be conveyed to you since speculation is rife in a section of media that he might enter the fray this time, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran said.He was briefing mediapersons after a meeting of the partys state election committee here.Antony is now a member of the Rajya Sabha.Sudheeran said the list of party candidates for the Lok Sabha polls would be finalised next week and get the endorsement of central election committee by March 13.He wanted party functionaries and the media to refrain from speculating on the matter till the list is finalised.Sudheeran also said AICC had directed the state unit to take stringent action against leaders and office-bearers making open statements detrimental to the interests of the party.