“Climate-friendly” menu at CoP28 environmental meet in Abu Dhabi
By Mayank Chhaya –
Perhaps a bit gimmicky but CoP28 will offer what it calls “the first 1.5° C-aligned menu” as part of its objective of making the conference carbon-neutral.
CoP28 or the Conference of Parties is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations as the world work towards limiting the global temperature rise caused by human-made climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial levels.
The conference starting in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 30 through Dec 12 has an ambitious agenda like all previous CoPs. To make a point about its earnestness, the organizers have said, “More than 90 food and beverage outlets will showcase a diverse range of cuisines, including a unique 100 percent vegan food truck park and Alkebulan, the world’s first African dining hall.”
Some 250,000 meals are estimated to be served every day of the 12-day event.
“To ensure menus are climate-conscious and sustainable, COP28 mandates caterers to minimize waste, use sustainable packaging, provide training, and recycle where possible. COP28 is working with Expo City Dubai, Dubai World Trade Centre and Erth to ensure food and beverage vendors are supported as much as possible in achieving the challenging Sustainable Catering Strategy,” according to an official release.
It said the COP28 Catering Team has been working with Nutritics to support vendors by providing access to its platform to enable vendors to calculate the carbon and water intensity of menu items. “Caterers have been asked to ensure that at least 50 percent of food served falls within sustainable limits for carbon and water intensity, as well as aligning with UAE guidelines on macronutrients. By providing carbon-conscious choices and supporting information, delegates will be able make informed eating choices at COP28,” it said.
Global food diets, especially meat-based foods, have been a subject of the debate over sustainability of agriculture on a planet heating rapidly because of rising carbon emissions.
“The intention is to showcase how climate-friendly food can be tasty, nutritious and affordable,” the release said, adding, “A 1.5°C-aligned menu enables delegates to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, while remaining within the individual “budget” for the carbon of 2.3k CO2e per day.”
It is a measure of how climate change consciousness has entered across sectors that even software companies such as Nutritics have come up. Nutritics enables caterers to track the carbon and water intensity taken to produce a menu item, while also calculating the nutritional content of the item.
Over the years there has been a growing realization among environmentalists, environmental activists and bodies such as CoP that there is no single solution to the climate crises which have the potential to cause increasingly unmanageable natural catastrophes. They will require a combination of solutions. To that end “climate-friendly” food is a new initiative.
Towards a Brighter Tomorrow: India’s G20 Presidency and the Dawn of a New Multilateralism
By Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi-
Today marks 365 days since India assumed the G20 Presidency. It is a moment to reflect, recommit, and rejuvenate the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future.’
As we undertook this responsibility last year, the global landscape grappled with multifaceted challenges: recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, looming climate threats, financial instability, and debt distress in developing nations, all amid declining multilateralism. In the midst of conflicts and competition, development cooperation suffered, impeding progress.
Assuming the G20 Chair, India sought to offer the world an alternative to status quo, a shift from a GDP-centric to human-centric progress. India aimed to remind the world of what unites us, rather than what divides us. Finally, the global conversation had to evolve – the interests of the few had to give way to the aspirations of the many. This required a fundamental reform of multilateralism as we knew it.
Inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive—these four words defined our approach as G20 president, and the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration (NDLD), unanimously adopted by all G20 members, is testimony to our commitment to deliver on these principles.
Inclusivity has been at the heart of our presidency. The inclusion of the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the G20 integrated 55 African nations into the forum, expanding it to encompass 80% of the global population. This proactive stance has fostered a more comprehensive dialogue on global challenges and opportunities.
The first-of-its-kind ‘Voice of the Global South Summit,’ convened by India in two editions, heralded a new dawn of multilateralism. India mainstreamed the Global South’s concerns in international discourse and has ushered in an era where developing countries take their rightful place in shaping the global narrative.
Inclusivity also infused India’s domestic approach to G20, making it a People’s Presidency that befits the world’s largest democracy. Through “Jan Bhagidari” (people’s participation) events, G20 reached 1.4 billion citizens, involving all states and Union Territories (UTs) as partners. And on substantive elements, India ensured that international attention was directed to broader developmental aims, aligning with G20’s mandate.
At the critical midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, India delivered the G20 2023 Action Plan to Accelerate Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking a cross-cutting, action-oriented approach to interconnected issues, including health, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability.
A key area driving this progress is robust Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI). Here, India was decisive in its recommendations, having witnessed the revolutionary impact of digital innovations like Aadhaar, UPI, and Digilocker first-hand. Through G20, we successfully completed the Digital Public Infrastructure Repository, a significant stride in global technological collaboration. This repository, featuring over 50 DPIs from 16 countries, will help the Global South build, adopt, and scale DPI to unlock the power of inclusive growth.
For our One Earth, we introduced ambitious and inclusive aims to create urgent, lasting, and equitable change. The Declaration’s ‘Green Development Pact’ addresses the challenges of choosing between combating hunger and protecting the planet, by outlining a comprehensive roadmap where employment and ecosystems are complimentary, consumption is climate-conscious, and production is planet-friendly. In tandem, the G20 Declaration calls for an ambitious tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Coupled with the establishment of the Global Biofuels Alliance and a concerted push for Green Hydrogen, the G20’s ambitions to build a cleaner, greener world is undeniable. This has always been India’s ethos, and through Lifestyles for Sustainable Development (LiFE), the world can benefit from our age-old sustainable traditions.
Further, the Declaration underscores our commitment to climate justice and equity, urging substantial financial and technological support from the Global North. For the first time, there was a recognition of the quantum jump needed in the magnitude of development financing, moving from billions to trillions of dollars. G20 acknowledged that developing countries require $5.9 trillion to fulfill their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2030.
Given the monumental resources required, G20 emphasized the importance of better, larger, and more effective Multilateral Development Banks. Concurrently, India is taking a leading role in UN reforms, especially in the restructuring of principal organs like the UN Security Council, that will ensure a more equitable global order.
Gender equality took center stage in the Declaration, culminating in the formation of a dedicated Working Group on the Empowerment of Women next year. India’s Women’s Reservation Bill 2023, reserving one-third of India’s Parliament and state legislative assembly seats for women epitomizes our commitment to women-led development.
The New Delhi Declaration embodies a renewed spirit of collaboration across these key priorities, focusing on policy coherence, reliable trade, and ambitious climate action. It is a matter of pride that during our Presidency, G20 achieved 87 outcomes and 118 adopted documents, a marked rise from the past.
During our G20 Presidency, India led deliberations on geopolitical issues and their impact on economic growth and development. Terrorism and the senseless killing of civilians is unacceptable, and we must address it with a policy of zero-tolerance. We must embody humanitarianism over hostility and reiterate that this is not an era of war.
I am delighted that during our Presidency India achieved the extraordinary: it revitalized multilateralism, amplified the voice of the Global South, championed development, and fought for the empowerment of women, everywhere.
As we hand over the G20 Presidency to Brazil, we do so with the conviction that our collective steps for people, planet, peace, and prosperity, will resonate for years to come.
US charges Indian national with alleged foiled plot to kill a Khalistani separatist leader in New York
INDICA NEWS BUREAU-
The United States Justice Department has filed an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate a US based leader of the Sikh Separatist Movement and a citizen in New York.
The US Justice Department has claimed that an Indian government employee (named CC-1), who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination, which was foiled by U.S. authorities, according to prosecutors.
Gupta is currently in custody and has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Czech authorities had arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.
In its indictment the US Justice department has claimed that, earlier this year, an Indian government employee working together with others, including Gupta, directed a plot to assassinate on a political activist who is a U.S. citizen of Indian origin residing in New York City.
It is claimed that Gupta, is an associate of CC-1, and has described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1.
The indictment claims CC -1 directed the assassination plot from India.
On the matter, the Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen is quoted as saying “The dedicated law enforcement agents and prosecutors in this case foiled and exposed a dangerous plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. The Department of Justice will be relentless in using the full reach of our authorities to pursue accountability for lethal plotting emanating from overseas.”
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said: “When a foreign government employee allegedly committed the brazen act of recruiting an international narcotics trafficker to murder a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, DEA was there to stop the plot.” The Justice Department claimed that in or about May 2023, CC-1 recruited Gupta to orchestrate the assassination of the activist in the United States.
At CC-1’s direction, Gupta contacted an individual whom he believed to be a criminal associate, but who was in fact a confidential source working with the DEA. The source it is alleged introduced Gupta to a purported hitman, who was a DEA undercover officer. The purported hitman was offered USD 100,000 to murder the Separatist leader, the Justice Department claims.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The indictment follows recent sharing of information by the US on a nexus between organised criminals, gun runners and terrorists. India has since formed a high-level inquiry committee to address the security concerns highlighted by the US government, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.
The MEA said that India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on our national security interests as well, and relevant departments were already examining the issue.
The MEA further added that in this context, on November 18, the Government of India constituted a high-level enquiry committee to investigate all the relevant aspects of the matter.
Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones says her kids grew up watching Shah Rukh Khan movies
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones expressed her love for Indian movies and shared that her children grew up watching films like Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Om Shanti Om’. Talking to the media at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, she said, “I love the country and the people so very much. My children grew up watching ‘Om Shanti Om’.”
Jones said that there are a number of great movies that she watched so far and she also said that one of her favourite films is ‘The Lunchbox’.
“There are so many great movies that I have been able to watch. A movie that I love is ‘The Lunchbox’. It was one of my favourite movies and it still is one of my favourite movies of all time. It touched me, it was so well acted, so well directed,” she added.
She has garnered numerous awards for her versatility, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Tony Award. Zeta-Jones received critical acclaim for her performances as a vengeful pregnant woman in Traffic (2000) and a murderous singer in the musical Chicago (2002), for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
She starred in the black comedy ‘Intolerable Cruelty’, the heist film ‘Ocean’s Twelve’, the comedy ‘The Terminal’, and the romantic comedy ‘No Reservations’.
From Jan 2024, 20k H-1B holders can renew their visas in US
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
In a move likely to benefit Indian professionals, 20,000 H1B specialty occupation workers will be able to renew their visas in the US beginning from January next year, according to State Department officials. This development comes months after the White House announced a pilot program for domestic renewal of certain categories of H-1B visas during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June this year.
The visa renewal pilot program is one of multiple measures the State Department is looking to add or continue with the aim of driving down wait times for travel to the US, Bloomberg Law reported, citing officials.
It would allow H-1B holders to renew their visas by mailing them to the State Department rather than travel outside the US and face uncertain wait times to secure an appointment at a US consular office before returning.
“We really need to get proof of concept that it works before we can extend it to a larger group,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Julie Stufft told reporters on Monday.
“This is a huge change for folks who live here and previously would have had to leave the US,” she added.
Due to heavy visa backlogs, some H-1B workers have pursued workarounds such as traveling to nearby countries with fewer backlogs to secure appointments.
According to Stufft, the domestic renewal option would help consular offices in those countries as well as India.
The average wait time to secure a visa appointment for travel to the US fell to 130 days last year, a drop of 70 days from fiscal year 2022. The State Department considers acceptable wait times to be closer to 90 days.
2022 car crash victim sues Indian American mayor of Edison, NJ
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
A woman has filed a lawsuit against a township in New Jersey and its Indian American mayor for a 2022 car crash that left her with “severe, serious and permanent injuries”. Edison Mayor Sam Joshi, who was traveling eastbound in a township vehicle, struck Sobia Qaiser as she was moving south on Talmadge Road on December 9, 2022, the lawsuit claimed.
Qaiser alleged that Joshi was “negligent and careless” and the Township should not have entrusted the vehicle to Joshi, news platform Patch.com reported on Monday.
Qaiser said she suffered “severe, serious and permanent injuries” due to the crash, and is seeking damages, interest, cost of the lawsuit, a trial by jury, and any insurance agreements or policies that may be liable.
“She was caused to incur medical expenses and will, in the future be caused to incur medical expenses; she has been and will in the future be disabled and prevented from attending to her necessary affairs and business,” the lawsuit said.
A spokesperson for the Township told Patch that Mayor Joshi “publicly disclosed” that he had been in a minor car accident immediately after it occurred last year.
“He used it as a teachable moment to encourage residents to drive safely during the busy holiday season,” the spokesperson added.
He said that the Township attorneys are reviewing the lawsuit and will “respond appropriately in order to reach an outcome that is fair and equitable to all parties and protects Edison taxpayers”.
Elected as the Township’s first Indian-American Mayor, Joshi hails from Gujarat and was born and raised in Edison.
He was elected as an at-large councilmember at 27-years-old, making him the youngest elected official in Edison’s history.
Since joining the Edison Township Council in 2017, Joshi has worked to keep taxes low, help women and minority owned businesses get on their feet, and promoted green energy throughout the township, according to his website profile.
Indian Overseas Congress, USA Chapter announces key appointments
To create momentum for the upcoming general election in India next year, the Indian Overseas Congress, United States of America (IOCUSA) appointed Shanmugavel Sankaran, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur as the General Secretary (West Coast) during a gala function organized by to welcome Rajya Sabha MP Deependra Singh Hooda held in Los Angeles.
Sankaran was appointed and handed over the responsibilities as General Secretary (West Coast) by Sam Pitroda, Global Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress along with IOC USA President, Mohinder Singh Gilzian and IOC West Coast Working President Davinderpal Singh (Saab Bhullar).
Sankaran, founder and CEO of FixNix Inc, said, “Congress is not only fighting its decade-long enemy who’s championing fascism, it’s trying to reinvigorate itself. Let’s help the party see religion, caste, and Hinduism with a new lens to be relevant for the future of India. The next five months are not do or die for the Congress party alone, it’s an important turning juncture for the country we all love, its democracy we championed for 137 years. Let’s give our beloved Abhayamudra (the palm symbol) and heart for the country, and party to get Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister.”
Sankaran joined the Congress this June, when Rahul Gandhi visited the US, he told indica. “I have a lot of respect for this man, he walked 4000 kilometers [the Bharat Jodo Yatra] to unite India.”
He hails from Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu. and started his professional life as a journalist with Vikatan, a leading Tamil magazine under their elite Student Press correspondent program in 2000. After working for over 10 years in leadership roles at Microsoft and IBM, Sankaran started FixNix in 2012 to democratize governance, risk and compliance through the SaaS model. He has received over 30 plus international awards including a Gartner mention.
He plans to mobilize the West Coast Indian diaspora. “Under the leadership of Sam Pitroda, I look forward to working and spreading the message to support Congress, spread Mohabbat ki Dukan (The Outlet of Love), and stop hatred.”
On June 1, Sankaran hosted Gandhi at Plug and Play for a fireside chat where the latter spoke on Artificial Intelligence.
Newly appointed West Coast Chairman Harmesh Kumar, and West Coast Vice President Ravi Gulia were also onboarded. in another meet and greet in Sunnyvale on Nov. 25 event to strengthen West Coast operations of Indian Overseas Congress. Baldev Randhawa, Vice President, IOC USA; Gurinderpal Singh, Gen Secy IOC, USA; Gurpreet Singh Sabi, Chairman Haryana chapter; Sophia Sharma, Gen Secy IOC, USA & Harbachan Singh, Secretary General, IOC, USA were also present during the occasion.
IOC is a non-profit that acts as a soundboard to champion democracy and other causes related to India in America & other foreign countries where the Indian diaspora is present, also contributes to the democratic ideas of Indian National Congress.
Dr Harmesh Kumar joined the party because, he said, “it stands for the masses and supports their causes. Congress is the only party that talks about the welfare of the masses. The US government seems to do the opposite, that is why a CEO in America makes $14,000 an hour and an auto worker makes $32-$34 an hour. And, even for that measly pay, they need to strike. The same thing is happening in India. There is such a huge divide between the rich and the poor since the last nine years of BJP rule. That’s why I’m supporting Congress,” Kumar told indica.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to rescued Uttarakhand tunnel workers
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the workers who were pulled out from Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel after a marathon 17-day rescue operation and enquired about their health and well-being. Uttarakhand is an Indian Himalayan state in north India. The Prime Minister on late Tuesday evening spoke to the rescued construction workers over the phone and encouraged them, officials said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Modi spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and received information about the requisite arrangements for all construction workers after they were evacuated out of the tunnel.
The Prime Minister also lauded the spirit of the team associated with this rescue operation, calling the safe evacuation of all 41 labourers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel of Uttarakhand and the success of the rescue operation as an emotional moment for the people of the country.
Praising the people involved with the rescue operation, Modi said, “Their bravery and determination have given new life to our worker brothers. Everyone involved in this mission has set an amazing example of humanity and teamwork.”
The Prime Minister wrote on X, “The success of the rescue operation of our worker brothers in Uttarkashi is going to make everyone emotional. I want to say to the comrades (workers) who were trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience will inspire everyone. I wish you all well and good health. It is a matter of great satisfaction that after a long wait, these friends of ours will now meet their loved ones. The patience and courage that all these families have shown in this challenging time cannot be appreciated enough.”
Dhami told the Prime Minister that after being evacuated from the tunnel, all the workers have been taken directly to the hospital at Chinyalisaur where their necessary health check-ups etc. will be done. The family members of the rescued workers have also been taken to Chinyalisaur from where the state government will make complete arrangements to drop them to their house as per their convenience.
The Uttarakhand Chief Minister said that this rescue operation has been successful only due to the efficient guidance of Prime Minister Modi, adding that with the coordination of all the agencies of the Central and the state government, they have been successful in evacuating 41 workers safely.
Indian student, 23, arrested in New Jersey for killing uncle, grandparents
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
A 23-year-old Indian student from Gujarat, Om Brahmbhatt, was arrested in New Jersey’s Middlesex County on Monday on murder charges after he allegedly shot dead three members of his family: grandfather Dilipkumar Brahmbhatt (72), grandmother Bindu Brahmabhatt (72), and uncle Yashkumar Brahmbhatt (38).
According to the local police, the shooting allegedly took place on Monday at a condo complex on Coppola Drive, South Plainfield at around 9 am EST. The police did not reveal any motive for the killings until Tuesday night.
A news report in New York Daily News suggested that the suspect, a student from Gujarat in western India, called 911 himself following the shooting, and told the police, “It might be me.”
A press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office said, “Dilipkumar and Bindu Brahmbhatt sustained gunshot wounds and were pronounced deceased at the scene. Yashkumar Brahmbhatt sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.
“An investigation led by Detective Thomas Rutter of the South Plainfield Police Department and Detective Javier Morillo of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined early on that there was no threat to the public and this was not a random act of violence. The perpetrator Om Brahmbhatt, 23, of South Plainfield, resided with the victims and was found at the residence when authorities arrived at the scene.
“The investigation led to Om Brahmbhatt being arrested without incident today, November 27, 2023, and charged with three counts of first-degree Murder and three counts of second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose. He is currently being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center pending the results of a Pre-Trial detention hearing.”
According to Pix11, a local news site, “Another neighbor, Jayesh Karia, said the couple in their 70s and their adult son had just allowed Om to move in. He said the 23-year-old was a relative who was attending school and needed a place to stay.”
US Embassy in India breaks record, issues over 140,000 student visas
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The US Embassy and its consulates in India have issued an all-time record of over 140,000 student visas between October 2022 and September 2023. “Our embassy and consulates in India issued an all-time record of more than 140,000 student visas,” the US State Department announced on Tuesday. “From October 2022 through September 2023 (the 2023 federal fiscal year), the Department of State issued a near-record level of nonimmigrant visas of more than 10 million globally.”
Half of the US embassies and consulates adjudicated more nonimmigrant visas than ever before. Additionally, the US embassy issued nearly eight million visitor visas for business and tourism, more than in any fiscal year since 2015, the statement said.
Moreover, the US embassy and consulates issued more than 600,000 student visas, the highest in any year since Fiscal Year 2017.
The statement said that these achievements were possible because of innovative solutions, such as expanding interview waiver authorities that allow frequent travellers who meet strict national security standards to renew their visas without having to visit an embassy or consulate.
“Looking to the future, we are exploring new technologies to assess opportunities to streamline operations, such as the option of domestic renewal in select visa categories,” it added.
Last month, the US Mission to India reached and surpassed the goal to process one million non-immigrant visa applications in 2023.
The US Embassy and Consulates in India said in a statement that last year over 1.2 million Indians visited the US, making it one of the most robust travel relationships in the world.
“Indians now represent over 10 per cent of all visa applicants worldwide, including 20 per cent of all student visa applicants and 65 per cent of all H&L-category (employment) visa applicants. The United States welcomes this growth,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti visited the US mission in the national capital to oversee the “unprecedented demand” for US visitor visas among the Indians. The US Embassy said that Garcetti was the special guest helping the extra visa applicants on ‘Super Saturday’.
India-US Climate Partnership- Reading the Tea Leaves Again
Let me begin by saying that this was never a partnership of equals. Take a look at these overlaid images shown below. For starters, look at the chart. It is based on over 270 years of data summarized by the Global Carbon Project. Over 1.4 billion humans in the subcontinent, 18% of the global population, have only accounted for 3% of the cumulative carbon emissions produced from fossil fuels and industry since 1750.
What about China? Fair question- very popular with most elected officials and many climate experts in the US, just before they ask “What about India?”. The other 18% of humanity in China account for 14% of cumulative global emissions today. Keep in mind that this was after wages rose in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan- leading the US, EU, and Japan to move many of their carbon-intensive operations to China, to increase profits and shareholder value for their corporations. Before China “opened up” at the end of 1978, it accounted for less than 4% of cumulative global emissions.
Now look at the map under the chart. It depicts the share of any country’s population that experienced extreme temperatures strongly affected by climate change for at least 100 days. This map was created by Axios to illustrate the disproportionate impacts today. It is based on analysis of the past year’s data by Climate Central, using a peer-reviewed metric- Climate Shift Index (CSI). Look at countries where 30% to >80% of the population experienced a CSI of over 3. Most of them, like India, had little or nothing to do with causing the climate change problem.
While it is obvious who is left holding the bag today, who has been rocking the boat all along? The US, EU, and UK collectively represent 11% of humanity today, owning 45% of cumulative emissions to date, even after offshoring most heavy manufacturing to China. Before that, they accounted for 69% of cumulative emissions through 1978. Also, 200+ years of European colonialism robbed Indians of the wealth that could have helped them face and mitigate these impacts. Europe and its derivative beneficiaries of this loot [the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand] are not contributing what they should to solve the problem today. They have been happy to blame India and China, while falling short on promises to help. We will continue to see more climate impacts in India and will continue to hear more excuses at COP28, much like we did at COP26. No climate equity here.
When it comes to building a power grid of the future, India could leapfrog to the latest in power electronics, like it did in telecommunications with mobile phones. But companies that lead in technologies like HVDC are still too busy making money off of their archaic AC technologies in India to bother. It is like the days when US beverage companies sent their hand-me-down bottling lines to Asia and Africa! While many major manufacturers of AC to DC converters are in China, there is no major HVDC player in the US.
The solutions are not always technical- they can be innovative business models. Community Solar is the fastest-growing segment of the US solar power industry that decoupled home ownership from participation in renewable energy’s financial benefits. India is a nation with low rates of home ownership and a lot of multi-family urban housing- not roof-rich. And a weak grid is more compatible with distributed generation than it is with centralized large utility generation.
India is not China, which has almost six times its GDP and less people today. The India-China relationship is not like the equal-footing competitive US-China relationship. India and China are neighbors who have had shared history and culture for millennia. China leads the world in technology and manufacturing India needs for its clean energy future. India should get past the xenophobia (Sinophobia) prevalent in the US and in India and import these solutions. The US and Europe should fulfill promises made to fund climate solutions India wants to implement. Not to benefit their own economies, but because they caused the problem in the first place.
41 tunnel workers evacuated in Uttarakhand after being trapped for 17 days
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
The 41 workers who were trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand for 17 days were finally rescued late on Tuesday evening, November 28. The workers got trapped when a section of the tunnel caved in on Diwali, November 12. The debris fell in a 60-meter stretch of the Silkyara side of the under-construction tunnel.
The initial health check-up of the workers was carried out at the temporary medical camp that had been set up inside the tunnel structure. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami was at the mishap site to greet the rescued tunnel workers.
A team of 12 rat-hole mining experts spearheaded the rescue operation’s crucial final phase. The rat-hole mining workers worked to clear the last 12-meter stretch of debris at the horizontal excavation. They cleared the obstruction from the collapsed portion of the under-construction tunnel on Uttarakhand’s Char Dham route after the huge auger machine that had been deployed for the rescue operation got stuck in the rubble at around 47 meters.
“I removed the last rock and then I could see them. They hugged us and thanked us for taking us out. We worked continuously in the last 24 hours. I can’t express my happiness, I did it for my country. The respect they (trapped workers) have given us, I can’t forget my whole life,” said Munna Qureshi, a rat miner from Delhi, who was the first one to reach the other side of the collapsed portion of the tunnel.
The workers were evacuated by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel through pipes inserted through the debris. The final two meters of debris were drilled by manual horizontal drilling by ‘rat miners’. The pipes were then pushed into the passage cleared by the miners.
The rescue teams began moving inside the tunnel and the ambulances were brought to the spot at 7 p.m. and within the next 30 minutes, the first worker was brought out of the tunnel. In a little over an hour, all 41 men were evacuated safely.
An upbeat mood prevailed outside the tunnel since the morning as family members of the workers had gathered outside the tunnel when the rescue teams announced that the rat-hole miners, in coordination with the Army, manually dug through 57 meters of debris horizontally. To celebrate the safe evacuation of the workers, locals distributed sweets outside Silkyara tunnel.
“I am completely relieved and happy as 41 trapped laborers in the Silkyara Tunnel Collapse have been successfully rescued. This was a well-coordinated effort by multiple agencies, marking one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years. Various departments and agencies complemented each other despite facing numerous challenges. Tireless and sincere efforts by everyone, coupled with prayers from all, have made this operation possible. The dedicated endeavors of the rescue teams have yielded favorable results,” said transport minister Nitin Gadkari on social media platform X.
India cooperating with US as Pannun information legally tenable, Ottawa yet to share evidence: Indian Envoy to Canada
India’s High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma said that the Indian government is cooperating with an American investigation into an alleged thwarted assassination attempt of Sikhs For Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and not Canada’s probe into the June killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia’s Surrey due to a disparity between the information both nations shared in their investigation.
Speaking to CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, Sanjay Kumar Verma said that his understanding is that US authorities have shared more specific information regarding the investigation with India than Canada has and that, he stressed, is likely the differentiating factor in the level of India’s cooperation in both cases.
Recently, the UK-based Financial Times published a report claiming that the US thwarted a plan to allegedly assassinate India-designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.
According to the Financial Times which quoted people familiar with the matter, the US had informed India of concerns regarding the alleged plot to kill Pannun.
Earlier in September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made allegations regarding India’s involvement in Nijjar’s killing. India has rejected the allegations and called them “absurd” and politically motivated.”
Verma said India was “absolutely” and “decidedly” not involved in the homicide, terming it a “motivated and absurd allegation.” The allegations caused diplomatic tensions between the two nations.
The Indian envoy stated that ties between India and the US are not under his purview. However, his understanding is that Indian authorities are cooperating in the American investigation as they have been presented with “inputs which are legally presentable.”
“One is that the investigation in the case of the US, as far as I know and understand, because again, I don’t oversee India-US relations is at a much advanced stage. And therefore, I presume that there would be better information shared within India,” he told CTV News.
Speaking about Canada’s inputs related to Nijjar’s killing, he said that Indian authorities will not be able to respond on the case as conversations could have some facts of the case. However, allegations and facts do not make it specific and relevant.
Asked whether Canada’s national security advisor shared inputs related to allegations related to Nijjar’s killing, he said, “Until the time it is not specific or relevant to the case, we will not be able to respond to it. There could be a lot of conversation. Conversations could have allegations, conversations could have some facts of the case, but allegations and facts do not make it specific and relevant.”
“So we need to have those facts. And we are always ready to do that. If you look at the most recent incident to where there are some allegations put out in one of the newspapers against India, the US did provide us inputs. And we have already started following up on that,” he told CTV News.
Verma stressed that conversations between India and Canada did take place during Canada’s National Security Adviser’s visit to India. However, he added that India needed specific information to seek permission from legal authorities to conduct an investigation.
Asked whether Canada’s National Security Advisor did not share any specific allegation, Sanjay Kumar Verma said, “So conversations took place. But we needed something specific and relevant to go back to our legal authorities to seek permission to do investigation that we would have wanted to do. So until the time that those kinds of inputs are not there, in a country of rule of law, it will not be possible for us to move forward on the investigations.”
Revealing details regarding the inputs shared by US with India, Verma said that these inputs are regarding a nexus between gangsters, drug peddlers, terrorists and gun runners in the US and there are beliefs that there are some Indian connections with it, which he stressed were not government of India connections, CTV News reported.
“Those inputs are a nexus between gangsters, drug peddlers, terrorists, and gun runners in the U.S., and there is a belief that some of the Indian connections — now when I say Indian connections, I don’t mean the government of India connections, there is 1.4 billion people, so some of the Indian connections are there — they are ready to investigate. Because we have got inputs, which are legally presentable,” Verma told CTV News.
On November 22, Ministry of External Affairs said that the US side shared some inputs pertaining to the nexus between organized criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others during the course of recent discussions on India-US security cooperation and issues in the context are already being examined by relevant departments.
Responding to media queries on reports of discussions between India and the US on security matters, the MEA said India takes such inputs seriously since it impinges on its own security interests as well. He said the inputs are the cause of concern for both countries and necessary follow-up action is being taken.
Congress will set up an NRI Affairs Ministry, says MP Deependra Singh Hooda at Silicon Valley
Congress MP Deependra Singh Hooda (above center) promised to set up an NRI Affairs Ministry in Haryana if Congress comes to power in the state and criticized the BJP-led Central government blaming it for failing on all fronts. Hooda spoke at an event in Silicon Valley organized to celebrate the San Francisco chapter of the Indian Overseas Congress on November 25.
“Haryana population is fast increasing in the diaspora of the US and Canada,” Hooda said. “We will set up an NRI affairs ministry in Haryana after we come to power.”
Hooda exuded confidence as he ventured to forecast the poll results for assembly elections in several states of India. “Congress will win in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Rajasthan. In Haryana also we will win. BJP has sullied India’s politics.”
Hooda said that the partisan approach of the Narendra Modi-led government has hit Haryana the worst. “Armed forces recruitment from Haryana fallen drastically from 5500 to 900. Farmers are being pushed to the edge. They have protested in Delhi but the government remains unmoved and unsympathetic. Haryana has recorded the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Our youths are depressed and turning to drugs. Sports too suffered injustice during the BJP rule. Earlier this year, female athletes accused a BJP MP of sexual harassment and have been demanding justice. People of Haryana are selling their properties and are migrating by any means, legally or illegally, to the US and other foreign destinations,” he added.
“It is time to end this era of misrule in Haryana, we will win in the 2024 assembly elections. But this can only be possible when the diaspora plays an important part.”
On the Indian diaspora in the US, he said: “Today our country has established its identity as a leader in the IT sector, but the foundation was laid during the tenure of late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Due to the revolution that started then, many of you have reached Silicon Valley and become brand ambassadors. One of them is Sam Pitroda. Even at the age of 82 he is still a huge source of inspiration and has been leading the Indian Overseas Congress to new fronts with a lot of enthusiasm.”
Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, told indica, “We are here to celebrate the San Francisco chapter of IOC. This is part of a series of five events we had planned in the New York, New Jersey, Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The idea is to really energize the Indian community to really think through what kind of a nation India ought to be.”
Pitroda said, “Democracy is at stake in many parts of the world. It is at stake in India mainly because institutions have been captured, civilian society has been undermined, and scientific, logical, and rational mindsets have been eroded. You cannot have a normal conversation with people without getting into religion, hate, or into conversations that divide people.”
On the all-party alliance, INDIA, Pitroda said: “It’s an alliance that believes in an India rooted in diversity, inclusion, and secularism. They are all from different parties, and there are bound to be some differences, which is healthy. We don’t want a dictatorial idea of India. We want healthy conversation and I’m all for disagreement.”
Mohinder Singh Gilzian, president Indian Overseas Congress USA, who flew with his team to Silicon Valley told indica, “We are planning to mobilize all over the US. The idea is to urge Indian Americans to help INDIA and Rahul Gandhi. We have a leadership of major parties and we are like a family.”
Gilzian , who joined as Congress IOCUSA president in 2018, told indica, “During the June 4, mega program held in New York attended by Rahul Gandhi, over 4,500 people attended. They came by themselves. We want our old India back.
“When I became IOCUSA president in 2018, we had only 100 members now we have 2000 members. Every week we host meetings in adifferent city and reach out mainly to green card holders. Our goal is to reach 10,000 before election. There is a small membership fee, $20 for two years, and we tell people to join if you like Congress ideology and so what I see people who are neutral are coming to us,” Gilzian said and added they are not BJP followers but 25 to 30 percent who were neutral are coming and want to see change, not people selling nafrat ki dukan, we have mohabbat ki dukan.
Apple iPhone maker Foxconn to invest $1.54 billion in India
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn plans to invest $1.54 billion in India, as the country doubles down on local manufacturing. In a stock exchange filing, Foxconn said that the investment will help it fulfil “operational needs.” The company, however, did not provide further details. Foxconn is the main assembler of Apple iPhones and both companies are keen to move away from China and create alternative supply chains.
Foxconn already has an iPhone factory in Tamil Nadu, which employs 40,000 people and has signed an agreement to invest ₹1,600 crore in a new electronics components unit in the state that will create 6,000 jobs.
The company has also announced that it will be investing an additional ₹3,300 crore in its manufacturing facility in Telangana. This will take the total investment of the company in the state to more than ₹4,550 crore.
In September, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government was “fully committed” to support Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn’s ambitious plans to double its manufacturing capacity in the country.
“Fully committed to support and facilitate,” Vaishnaw said on X in response to Foxconn India representative V Lee’s LinkedIn post to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 73rd birthday in which he said the company was “aiming for another doubling of employment, FDI (foreign direct investment), and business size in India” by this time next year.
Foxconn chairman Young Liu had visited India recently to attend the ‘SemiconIndia 2023’ event hosted for global semiconductor companies that was inaugurated by PM Modi in Gandhinagar.
Speaking at the event, the Foxconn chairman said, “I can feel the determination of the Indian government. I am very optimistic about where it’s headed.”
How Indian American Tej Gundavelli’s Touch-A-Life is changing communities, one nonprofit at a time
Earlier this month, Touch-A-Life Foundation (TAL), an Indian American-led nonprofit established to help homeless students, celebrated World Kindness Day to promote kindness to “build a better, brighter tomorrow” in Fremont, California. TAL, active in the US and India, says it leverages digital technologies like blockchain, AI, social media, and mobile applications to do good and help people who require assistance.
Tej Gundavelli, TAL’s founder & CEO, and a senior software engineer at Sunrun, a home solar panel and battery storage company, spoke to indica about the organization’s mission to transform lives by connecting “those in need, with those willing to give”.
“TAL organizes this event every year to bring nonprofit organizations together to raise awareness within the community, to encourage people to either donate in kind or in time and get involved in being able to get involved with kindness and be able to make the community a better place,” Gundavelli told indica.
TAL was set up in 2014. It first verifies nonprofits for legitimacy, and then offers services to them to connect them with donors. “We also facilitate payments so that people can donate money to organizations in the US and India,” Gundavelli said.
It has other umbrella organizations as well. TAL Hospital, for instance, does pro bono medical work through AI, where people can learn immediately about various medicine-related information, and be able to treat themselves pro bono using large language models (LLMs) trained on medical data.
“We are trying to make this a global organization. Any nonprofit can become our member, there’s no membership fee, they just need to add themselves to the TAL platform, and anyone on the TAL donor network can donate,” Gundavelli said.
He added, “Through the Talgiving app, you can donate to any of the listed organizations. We launched an app because there were different nonprofits that needed help. In 2020, we really doubled down on that investment,” Gundavelli added.
After graduating from UC, Berkeley, Gundavelli put his computer science and software engineering knowledge to good use. “I figured that the best way to use this knowledge is to build an app that facilitates community organizations. We have been able to convince many, but we’re always looking to broaden our audience.”
At TAL, Gundavelli said, the inevitable transition to AI has begun. “We want to see how AI can make it easier to find nonprofits and how we can help them. These services and tools are pro bono for the verified nonprofits.”
He said, “They can use technologies provided by us free. They don’t have to hire engineers or consultancy firms. These services will help them reach their donors and strengthen their network. We hope people are inspired to join the TAL platform, listen to TAL Radio, and use all of the TAL products so that they can channel their time and money to help the community.”
TAL Radio has 1.6 million listeners. Through this medium, organizations can raise awareness and connect with volunteers and donors. “Then there’s TAL Transformers where we involve the youth. They learn social entrepreneurship through our boot camps. We encourage them to start their own nonprofit,” Gundavelli said.
The ‘mission of kindness’ idea came to Gundavelli when he was in school. “At the East Side Union High School District [San Jose, California] there were 63 homeless students. I wanted to explore ways to help the community. By 2019, there were 300 homeless high school students in East Side Union High School District, and now there are about 1200.”
Social workers track either students without a home or those that lack a stable home and are moved from shelter to shelter. Students who have lost their parents due to health-related issues, and students who lost their houses in accidents fall under this category. “This number is growing due to the homelessness crisis in the Bay Area. We want to make it easier for such districts to be able to raise donations.”
TAL has helped schools for the blind in India, as also other local organizations in the US. “It makes a lot of sense for us to tap into the Indian American community because we have so many smart engineers. If we create a way for them to channel their will to help the community, then I think we have achieved our objective.”
Fasting for 14 hours improves mood, sleep, hunger: Research
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Eating within a 10-hour window provides favourable health advantages in terms of mood, energy, and hunger, according to new findings from the largest UK community research study of its kind. The trial’s findings were presented at the European Nutrition Conference by researchers from King’s College London.
Intermittent fasting (IF), or limiting your meal consumption to a specific time frame, is a popular weight loss method. With a ten-hour window, you limit your daily eating schedule to 10 hours and fast for the remaining 14 hours. For example, if you consume your first mouthful at 9 a.m., you must finish by 7 p.m.
Those who were consistent with their eating window had greater benefits than those who varied their eating window day to day.
Despite the fact that certain intermittent fasting advocates frequently promote restrictive eating windows as short as six hours, data presented in the abstract suggest that eating within a less restrictive window of ten hours has beneficial health effects such as changes in mood, energy, and appetite.
Dr Sarah Berry from King’s College London and chief scientist at ZOE said, “This is the largest study outside of a tightly controlled clinic to show that intermittent fasting can improve your health in a real-world setting. What’s really exciting is that the findings show that you don’t have to be very restrictive to see positive results. A ten-hour eating window, which was manageable for most people, improved mood, energy levels and hunger. We found for the first time that those who practised time-restricted eating, but were not consistent day to day, did not have the same positive health effects as those who were dedicated every day. “
More than 37,500 people on the ZOE Health app completed the core intervention period of three weeks. Participants were asked to eat as normal for the first week and then a ten-hour eating window for two weeks.
More than 36,200 participants opted for additional weeks and 27,371 users were classified as highly engaged. Highly engaged participants were 78 per cent female, with a mean age of 60 and a BMI of 25.6.
Participants with a longer eating window before the intervention saw an even greater benefit to their health. Kate Bermingham PhD, from King’s College London and ZOE, said: “This study adds to the growing body of evidence showing the importance of how you eat. The health impact of food is not just what you eat but the time at which you choose to consume your meals, and eating window is an important dietary behaviour that can be beneficial for health. Findings show that we don’t need to be eating all the time. Many people will feel satiated and even lose weight if they restrict their food to a ten-hour window.”
NASA administrator Bill Nelson lands in India to strengthen ISRO relationship
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson touched down in India on Tuesday, expressing his enthusiasm for a week of meetings and events aimed at strengthening the partnership between NASA and ISRO. He emphasized that India is a leader in space and is looking forward to a productive visit. “Touchdown in India! Ready to embark on a week of engaging meetings and events to grow @NASA’s partnership with @isro. India is a leader in space and we’re looking forward to a productive visit,” Nelson said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
He will also be visiting the UAE for a series of meetings with key government officials.
Nelson, a career politician and administrator, represented Florida for 18 years in the United States Senate and 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served on key committees, including as ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairman of the Subcommittees on Science and Space in both the Senate and the House.
Nelson will meet with space officials in both countries to deepen bilateral cooperation across a broad range of innovation and research-related areas, especially in human exploration and Earth science, the American space agency NASA said in a release.
Nelson’s visit to India will fulfil a commitment as part of the US and India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology initiated by President Joe Biden.
In the India leg, Nelson will visit several locations, including the Bengaluru-based facilities where the NISAR spacecraft, a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and its Indian counterpart ISRO, is undergoing testing and integration for launch in 2024. NISAR is short for NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar.
It is an equal collaboration between NASA and ISRO and marks the first time the two agencies have cooperated on hardware development for an Earth-observing mission.
While in the UAE, Nelson will also participate in the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It will be the first time a NASA administrator has attended the conference.
Also, during the visit, students in each country will have the opportunity to meet with Nelson to discuss science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and their roles as members of the Artemis Generation.
V P Singh: A crafty politician and an inscrutable man
By Mayank Chhaya –
Today happens to be the 15th death anniversary of former Indian Prime Minister Vishwanatah Pratap Singh.
As it frequently happens with journalists, my posting in New Delhi in 1989 as the South Asia chief correspondent of India Abroad (now defunct) and the India Abroad News Service (now IANS) coincided with the very low and the very high of Singh’s controversial political career. I interacted with him practically on a daily basis toward the end of 1989 during his lowest period.
In August, 1989, the Arab Times newspaper carried a story that alleged that Singh’s son Ajeya Singh, had opened a bank account in First Trust Corporation Bank in St. Kitts and deposited $21 million in it. Singh was alleged to be the beneficiary of that account. The timing of the story was curious because Singh had in January, 1987 left as the country’s finance minister under then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and had built himself up as a formidable political rival to the latter by the time the general elections were becoming due in 1989.
The sobriquet “Mr. Clean”, once reserved for Gandhi, had been shifted to Singh following the allegations of Gandhi’s involvement in a bribery scandal over the purchase of Bofors guns for the Indian army. I vividly remember how Singh was being projected with an aura of injured innocence and as someone of impeccable personal integrity. I mention this because that may have significantly triggered the St. Kitts allegations in order to stop him in his tracks. In the Delhi of those days there were whispers about how the St. Kitts story was created and planted courtesy of several shady players in cahoots with some Congress Party functionaries. Aiding the fabricated charge was a section of the pliable media that went along with this story.
It fell to the IANS and India Abroad and their gutsy New York-based owner, the late Gopal Raju to report the story from all angles, including sending a reporter, Lynn Hudson, to the Caribbean Island to investigate. Lynn, who was a man (I mention it for a reason that will become clear soon), produced an excellent series of investigative stories from St. Kitts that eventually nailed the lie. But in the run-up to that there were several anxious weeks for V P Singh.
Soon after the IANS began the series, Singh realized that there was at least one independent media outlet that had bothered to not only send a reporter to St. Kitts but offer a credible perspective about it. That is when he began to call the IANS office in New Delhi. Since part of my job was to edit IANS wire every morning, including Lynn’s stories, I was the one who began answering Singh’s practically daily calls. It was clear that Singh apprehended that the St. Kitts story, even if fabricated, had the potential to end his political career. That too at a time when he had begun to see himself as India’s next prime minister to succeed his onetime boss, Rajiv Gandhi, laid low by the Bofors allegations.
Singh’s call would generally start with, “Hanji Chhaya sahab, aaj subah kya khabar hai? (Mr. Chhaya, what is the news this morning?)” He was, of course, referring to Lynn’s reports. More often than not those stories did not require Singh’s inputs because they were from St. Kitts and I would tell him as much. “The rest you can read in tomorrow’s newspapers because I am not going to tell you the content of the story,” I would tell Singh, a position he always respected.
There were occasions when we needed his quote or two which I would take when he called in the morning. Towards the end of the alleged scandal’s reporting, as it exposed the lie that it was, Singh was quite overcome with emotions. In one of his last calls to me he said, “Mr. Chhaya, I am so grateful to the IANS and Mr. Hudson and you for taking the trouble to find out the real story.”
I said, “Mr. Singh, we would have nailed you without any compunctions if there was even the slightest truth to it. I want you to know that. We were just being a professional news outfit. We have no agenda whatsoever other than seeking the truth.”
“And that is what I respect the most,” he said.
During those days, some members the pliable media that aided the circulation of that bogus story used to say a nasty thing or two about the IANS. One particularly juicy comment came at the Press Information Bureau where a staffer from one of those pliable newspapers said to me, “So is Lynn a sexy American blonde tanning on the white sands of the Caribbean?” Amused, I replied, “I am sure some tanning is involved but you should know that Lynn is a middle-aged bearded New Yorker. He is a man.”
Singh’s calls would have been sometime in September or October if memory serves. Barely two months later, Singh went on to become India’s prime minister and, quite remarkably albeit in keeping with his crafty nature, never seriously interacted with me or my colleague Tarun Basu, the founder-editor of the IANS.
He had that personality trait where it was all transactional and utilitarian. Sometime in 1990, I traveled with him on his first official visit to the Maldives as part of the media team. Not once did he choose to show even the slightest familiarity towards me.
To think that the man called me almost every day for nearly two months. It is just as well because as a journalist I never seek friendship with politicians.
indica Weekly Window for South Asian Diaspora November 27 2023
Amaterasu: the new mysterious high-energy particle and its yet unknown origin
By Mayank Chhaya –
A single, anonymous particle travels extragalactic distances to somehow end up on Earth, gets named out of human sentimentalism and becomes an important discovery that might yet rewrite at least part of particle physics, if not physics itself.
That is the story of Amaterasu, a rare and extremely high-energy particle that fell to Earth on May 27, 2021, and is only not getting peer respectability via the publication of a paper about it in the journal Science. Particle physicists are mystified by Amaterasu. What is causing them to scratch their heads is that the particle, named the sun goddess in Japanese mythology, is coming from an apparently empty region of space.
It is one of the highest-energy cosmic rays ever detected.
“What the heck is going on?” has been the reaction of Professor John Matthews of the University of Utah, one of the co-authors of the paper and a co-spokesperson of Telescope Array.
“What we are talking about here is an extremely energetic particle. It has about as much energy as a fast-pitch baseball or if you held a lead brick, not a ceramic brick, and dropped it down on your toe, you will feel that. That’s a huge amount of energy,” Professor Matthews told Indica News.
The energy he is talking about is 224 exa-electron volts (EeV) that Amaterasu had. One EeV is 10 raised to the 18 electron volts. Compared that with the “Oh My God!” particle, detected in October 1991 by the Fly’s Eye camera in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah with 320 EeV. Matthews said the difference between the two is not huge but significant.
Perhaps the most mystifying aspect of Amaterasu is that physicists do not know where it came from.
“You trace its trajectory to its source and there’s nothing high energy enough to have produced it. That’s the mystery of this – what the heck is going on?” Matthews said.
Not being an astrophysical object or even a product of any immediately recognizable cosmic event, the singular particle has caused a lot of buzz within the scientific community with some saying it has the potential to significantly alter particle physics and hence physics itself.
Asked whether he thought Amaterasu had the potential to alter physics, he said, “We have 30 of these particles above 10 the 20th. If we expand by a factor of four and we collect four or five times this much data if we find those sources, in which case we can study those sources and that will be interesting. Or if we don’t find sources and they are still coming from random places in the sky then now you have got a big mystery. We’ve got to solve that mystery.”
He said, “Is it the decay of dark matter or other remnants out there that we don’t understand or are we somehow sneaking around the microwave background or what? So, I think there is high potential here for something new and exciting to come out once we get a little more data.”
The hunt for cosmic rays has been by telescope Array has been going on since 2008 and the discovery of Amaterasu is expected to heighten interest in this particular realm of particle physics.
Incidentally, the grand shrine of Ise in Honshu, Japan, which is home to Amaterasu, was likely first constructed about 2400 years ago. The shrine is at the heart of Japanese culture.
[Photo credit: http://www.telescopearray.org]
Climate change events may soon start affecting your brain functioning: Study
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Increasing extreme weather and climate change events, such as heatwaves, droughts, and hurricanes, and associated forest fires and floods caused by global warming may impact our brain function in the future, finds an alarming study. In the new study, published in Nature Climate Change, teams from the universities of Geneva, New York, Chicago, Washington, Stanford, Exeter in the UK and the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, said that climate change events may change brain structure, function, and overall health, while calling for more research to evaluate how this may explain changes in well-being and behavior.
The paper also explores the role that neuroscience can play in influencing the way we think about climate change, our judgments and how we respond.
“We’ve long known that factors in our environment can lead to changes in the brain. Yet we’re only just beginning to look at how climate change, the greatest global threat of our time, might change our brains,” said lead author Dr Kimberly C. Doell from the University of Vienna in Austria.
“Given the increasingly frequent extreme weather events we’re already experiencing, alongside factors such as air pollution, the way we access nature and the stress and anxiety people experience around climate change, it’s crucial that we understand the impact this could all have on our brains. Only then can we start to find ways to mitigate these changes,” she added.
Since the 1940s, scientists have known from mouse studies that changing environmental factors can profoundly change the development and plasticity of the brain.
This effect has also been seen in humans in research looking at the effects of growing up in poverty, which found disturbances to brain systems, including lack of cognitive stimulation, exposure to toxins, poor nutrition, and heightened childhood stress.
While not entirely surprising, the new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, highlights the profound impact that one’s environment can have on their brain.
“Both brain function and climate change are highly complex areas. We need to start seeing them as interlinked, and to take action to protect our brains against the future realities of climate change, and start using our brains better to cope with what is already happening and prevent the worst-case scenarios,” said Dr Mathew White, of the Universities of Exeter and Vienna.
Justice Markandey Katju: On Indian’s Constitution Day
By Justice Markandey Katju–
(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)
November 26 is India’s Constitution Day, and on Sunday, it was celebrated by the Supreme Court at a function at which the President of India, Draupadi Murmu was the chief guest, and where several dignitaries like the Chief Justice of India and other Supreme Court Judges, the Union Law Minister, the Attorney General of India, etc, were present.
The speakers waxed eloquent about the greatness of the Indian Constitution, what it has done for the Indian people, etc.
The truth is different. The Indian Constitution, promulgated in 1950, has been flagrantly flouted and torn to shreds, rendered it a scarecrow, hollow and empty, and now only acting as an instrument to deceive the people.
Consider this: 1. The Constitution ‘guaranteed’ equality among the people vide Articles 14 to 18, which were proclaimed as fundamental rights. Also, Article 38(2) stated, “The state shall strive to minimise inequalities in income”. Article 39(c) stated that the state shall direct its policy to ensure that there is no concentration of wealth.
What is the reality today? It is reported that just 10 Indians own wealth equal to the wealth of the bottom 50% of the 1.4 billion abysmally poor Indian people. Also, minorities, Dalits, etc, are often treated shabbily and atrocities committed on them.
So much for equality!
2. Article 21 ‘guaranteed’ liberty. But sedition and preventive detention laws make a mockery of it, as exemplified by several concocted and fabricated cases often instituted against people who speak or write against the government, and they have to spend long periods in jail. Even a satirical tweet can result in deprivation of liberty, as illustrated by the case of Abhijit Iyer Mitra, whose bail plea was rejected by the the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, head of the much flaunted ‘custodians of the rights of the people’ with the flippant remark “You are safest in jail”.
Although in Romesh Thapar vs State of Madras, a judgment given by the Supreme Court a few months after the promulgation of the Constitution in 1950, it was held that in a democracy people had the right to criticise the government, the truth is that today it is often dangerous to do so in India.
So much for liberty!
3. Article 25 ‘guarantees’ freedom of religion. But that did not prevent lynching of Muslims by gau rakshaks, or assaulting them them for not saying ‘Jai Shri Ram’, arresting and imprisoning Muslims on false charges, vandalism against churches in Delhi, or persecution of Christians in Odisha.
So much for our secularism!
4. Article 39(f) directs the state to ensure that children develop in a healthy manner, and Article 47 directs it to raise the level of nutrition. Yet, over 76 years after Independence, every second child in India is malnourished, many being wasted or stunted. We have the distinction of having over one-third of the world’s malnourished children. In this respect, we are worse than sub-Saharan African countries which have historically faced such trauma.
With skyrocketing prices of food, how can poor people, who constitute 75% or more of our population, get proper nutrition? Fifty-three percent of our women are anaemic.
5. Article 39A states that the state shall justice. But with 50 million pending cases, and cases often taking decades to decide, where is justice?
6. Article 41 states: “The state shall make effective provision for securing the right to work and education, and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age and sickness.” But our state is in the hands of our crooked netas who are only interested in power and pelf, and care two hoots for this provision (probably very few would even know of its existence).
The Prime Minister, in his 2014 election campaign, promised creation of 20 million jobs annually if BJP came to power. But it is estimated demonetization alone destroyed 20 million jobs, and unemployment is mounting to record highs in India.
As for good education, it is available only to a few in India, and most schools are in an abysmal condition.
The same can be said of the state of public health in India, in spite of Article 47. For the rich and mighty, there are state-of-the-art hospitals, but as regards the masses they are too poor to go there, and they have often to go to quacks.
7. Article 43 states that the state shall endeavor to secure a living wage to workers, industrial or agricultural. But with the massive level of unemployment in India, and the contract system largely replacing security in employment, a worker dare not ask a wage higher than whatever pittance he gets, lest he lose his job. And as for agriculture, this provision is a cruel joke on the over 400,000 farmers who committed suicide in India.
8. Article 48A directs the state to protect and improve the environment, but the pollution levels in most Indian cities (even the capital Delhi) have reached record heights, and our rivers are badly polluted.
9. The Constitution set up the system of parliamentary democracy in India, on the Westminster model, but it largely runs in India on the basis of caste and religious vote banks. Casteism and communalism are feudal forces which have to be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them.
10. Article 19(1) of the Constitution grants freedom of speech to all citizens, but what use is this freedom to a person who is poor, hungry, or unemployed.
So what is there to celebrate about? Cheerharan (disrobing) has been done to our Constitution. Constitution Day is just a gimmick and a mockery.
Indian American White House aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy proposes Republican debates on Twitter to boost viewership
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Indian American Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy has questioned the current format of GOP debates and has proposed the Republican National Committee hold debates on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), New York Post reported. His remarks come after the audience declined across the previous three showdowns so far.
The Indian American entrepreneur has even proposed journalist Tucker Carlson to moderate the GOP debates.
“This January GOP debate should be held on X, not on cable TV, moderated by Tucker [Carlson], who might just ask questions that primary voters actually care about,” Ramaswamy said in a statement to The Post on Friday.
“The RNC says they want to reach younger voters and new audiences? Well that’s how you do it,” the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur added.
The first Republican primary debate, hosted by Fox News Channel was held on August 23 in Milwaukee, and averaged 12.8 million viewers.
The second debate, held September 27 in Simi Valley, California and hosted by the Fox Business Network, got 9.5 million viewers, while the third debate, hosted by NBC News on November 8, in Miami, received an average of 7.51 million viewers.
Earlier, during the third debate in Miami, Ramaswamy had again raised this issue and argued that Carlson, Joe Rogan and Elon Musk should moderate the debates to attract “ten times the viewership.”
The Ramaswamy campaign has previously called on the Republican National Committee to alter its debate guidelines to feature a single moderator who “is able to enforce debate rules” and to raise the unique donor threshold from 70,000 to 1,00,000 to weed out lower-performing candidates.
Ramaswamy has also gone head-to-head with RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, calling on her to resign following a series of poor Republican election performances.
Meanwhile, the fourth debate will be held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on December 6. The event will be hosted and broadcast by NewsNation and will be moderated by former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas and The Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson, New York Post reported.
After Senator Tim Scott backed out; Ramaswamy, former Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley could all qualify for the Alabama debate.
However, former President Donald Trump, who has missed all the debates so far is unlikely to attend this one too.
Future debate dates and locations have yet to be announced, but Republicans are expected to hold at least one additional debate before the Iowa caucus on January 15 and New Hampshire primary on January 23, according to the New York Post.
Indian American community bids farewell to outgoing New York Consul General Randhir Jaiswal
Reena Bhardwaj (ANI)–
In an atmosphere full of enthusiasm and unity, the Indian American community of the New York Metropolitan Area hosted a farewell reception for India’s current consul general in New York, Randhir Jaiswal, who is proceeding for his next assignment as the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry.
Prominent members of JAIPUR FOOT USA-BRAHUD SENIORS and Rajasthan Association North America (RANA) held a reception earlier this week at the Indian consulate in New York that contained a mix of goodbye and congratulatory messages for the envoy.
Speaking at the occasion, Jaiswal congratulated the Indian American community for its outstanding success in many areas and praised their contributions in various fields and in strengthening the Indo-US relationship.
He spoke about the need to involve Indian American youths in strengthening bilateral ties. “Each one of you is a success story and you are the actual ambassador,” he said.
Jaiswal was appointed to his current position as consul general in New York in July 2020 and was praised by the diaspora members for being actively involved in the repatriation of Indian Americans during COVID-19 pandemic and how the diplomat exports and the mission adjusted to the unprecedented global health crisis.
Jaiswal, an officer of the 1998 batch of the Indian Foreign Service, will succeed the current spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi.
Jaiswal has served in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at India’s permanent mission to the UN in New York.
At the event, Prem Bhandari of Jaipur Foot USA and a leading Indian American voice highlighted the envoy’s efforts to improve the consular service provided by the mission to resolve various problems faced by the community on passport, visa and OCI cards.
“Under the leadership of Jaiswal, the consulate in New York undertook several digital initiatives to serve the people better.”
It launched a mobile app, bringing all the visa/OCI services in the comfort of phone for people. It has unique Chat Bot called Bharati which provides curated answers to frequently asked queries for the ease of applicants.
Consul General Jaiswal also launched Pramit 2.0, which has a feature to provide an update on the application’s status to the applicant. These initiatives have been well received and applauded by the community at large,” Bhandari added.
Members of the community praised the outgoing CG Jaiswal, terming him as an official who has been absolutely committed to and completely focused on the job.
“Since there is no rest for the best, he leaves as the next spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs. And it gives us all immense pride to have known CG so well over the years. And we all look forward to seeing him in this prominent position,” Bhandari told ANI.
Bhandari highlighted the relationship Jaiswal has had with the community in New York over the years and urged the top Indian diplomat to be the voice and help raise the concerns of many Indian Americans and other people of Indian origin around the world.
The members of the diaspora stressed on how land grabbing still remains a key problem for expats around the world and how they often end up in a vortex of bitter family feuds and legal disputes. The cumbersome legal process in India that can take years, and the logistics of travelling home to attend court proceedings only make matters worse.
“Although land disputes are a state subject in India, in one of the highest offices in New Delhi, we feel like we have a ‘voice’ of our own who can rake up our issue,” Bhandari concluded.
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