Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
A helper of moving bus climbs to the sleeper section and frightens and then gags the woman on the compartment to rape her ! A minor blind girl was raped brutally on the outskirts of her house and then killed. While another woman gang raped in front of her husband who was tied and beaten inside the hospital premise!
Seem like plots airlifted from some daily soaps! No, these are incidents of violence on women those have hit Odisha in the past couple of months. And as investigations continue and arrests made allegations and counter allegations continue to fly high on the media rendering one to think whether the statistics being thrown on your face about the rising rape cases in the state, are merely numbers or it is just the play of media that seeks to enthuse the audience with potpourri of facts spiced up with right doses of emotions or is there something that is slipping out of our hands and disturbing the cultural fabric of our society.( As if rape is a term and action completely alien to the god fearing people of Odisha)
While on the wake of the infamous Delhi rape case, culture was taken as pretext and observations made by the RSS chief duly endorsed later on by the Puri Sankracharya that “rapes happen in India and not in Bharat” shook the entire nation and drew acidic remarks from many quarters in the society, it is also a just pretext to do a proper evaluation of the rising number of rapes with context to the geographical /cultural background!
In a report released by Dr. Mrinal Satish of the Delhi’s National Law University, it has been demonstrated that rape is a crime that does not identify contours or cultures. It is predominantly an instinct that is devoid of any such reasoning. Based on his conclusion from data collected from high courts and supreme court on the number of rape cases, covering a period of 25 years from 1983 to 2009, one can safely assume that to say “rapes do not happen in Bharat” is completely nonsensical.
The distinction between “Bharat” and “India” being that of culture ( as accentuated by the revered Sankracharya) and nothing better epitomizes the culture of the country than that of the rural population. So it comes to a cropper as one scuttles through the pages of the report. It cites that over 80% of rape cases in the High Courts and close to 75% of rape cases in the Supreme Court came from rural areas. Close to 75% of gang rape cases in HCs and 63% of gang rape cases in the SC came from rural areas. Over 65% of cases involving the rape of a child (less than 12 years old) came from rural areas. On average, 75% of all rape cases in higher courts that had led to at least one conviction came from rural areas”.
Well, the study is clearly an eye opener to the fact that nothing called culture or dominion comes to fore while a girl is being raped. It is simply a clear case of physical violation by a person of sick mentality. It exists because of a patriarchal, misogynistic mentality that condones it, whether tacitly or explicitly, and because of widespread lawlessness that encourages it.
In order to completely stop the rising incidence of violation on woman, a two pronged strategy needs to be adopted. First a gradual social change through education and a rapid reform in law.
Students need to be educated starting at the school level, about respect for women, for personal spaces and for the rule of law. Showing children early on that people of other gender are equal, needs to become the central point to our education system. Girl child should be taught that they are equal, and they are more likely to be treated that way. Self defence classes should be introduced in the school level itself . Similarly the boy child should be conditioned to respect his female counterparts. They should be taught that girls are equal. Boys should also be given empathy training to show them what it’s like to be a girl. Courses on anger management may be introduced.
We need to introspect, all of us, on how we contribute to the objectification of women, from the popular culture we consume to the way we bring up our children — from where it’s a slippery slope to a twisted and unjust understanding of sexual assault in legal terms.
In terms of the law, we urgently need a more comprehensive and inclusive definition of sexual violence, critical amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure that will reduce the time taken for trials, fast track courts for sexual assault cases, harsher punishments and a serious programme of police reform and sensitization. More importantly, we need a police that is more sympathetic to the female victims of violence. All of these are doable, and all are equally crucial — not just for better implementation but also to signal the seriousness with which such crimes will be viewed.
Steep fall in child sex ratio and population in the age group of 0-6 age group has become the major cause of concern of government of odisha. The current sex ratio which by any figure is simply anti girl-child stands at 950 girls for every 1000 boys. The data itself is a pointer to a steep decline from 1991 when the sex ratio stood at 967 girls for every 1000 boys.
Though compared to other states, Odisha has better sex ratio, it is a trend that is disturbing and points to a number of facts. First, It indicates that an increasing number of people in the state are resorting to female foeticide, thus preventing the birth of girl-children. This point is substantiated by figures from Nayagarh district which recorded the lowest sex ratio in Odisha i.e. 857 girls for 1000 boys. The district in fact was in storm eye in 2006 when several dead foetus were found here in 2006.
Second the trends indicate that there has been no substantial change in the attitude of the people even after government’s efforts to educate the people on the importance of the girl child. Economic support extended by sons to parents in their old age, the prevalence of the dowry system and increasing instances of violence against women are some of the common reasons that lead to reluctance of people to bear daughters.
On the back drop of such attitude among the people , the availability of the advanced technology for sex determination has only led to rising vulnerability of new born female child. Interior areas of the state which are bereft of such facilities have shown healthier sex ratio. Nabarangpur, for example that is considered among one of the not so advanced districts of the state and is primarily dominated by the tribal , has shown the healthiest sex ratio of 999 in rural areas and 971 in urban areas.
The above argument is further justified if one considers the dwindling sex ratio in city areas which have better access to medical facilities. The fall in child sex ratio in fact was higher in urban areas and it rose from 933 to 913, when compared to rural areas where it fell by nine points from 955 to 946.
The 2011 Census results for Orissa, released by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday, shows that the child population in the 0-6 age-group has declined by 85,616 and now stands at over 52.73 lakh. While the child population increased in urban areas by 84,872, it fell in rural areas by 1, 70,488. Child sex ratio has decreased in 26 out of 30 districts in the state since 2001. In 19 districts of the state, the ratio is less than 950. The state average has declined from 953 in 2001 to 934 in 2011.
The statistics are a sort of warning bell for the government. The government should now take concrete steps to improve the sex ratio of the state.
If the topic of the article didn’t enthuse you and you are still thinking what’s so weird about this, well then be ready for the weirdest answer! Well the sea comes invited!
In the Gadkujang Panchayat of Jagatsinghpur district, people are slowly getting used to the Sea water invading far into their hinterlands destroying crops and gobbling up villages after villages. But it was not like this forever!
It started happening ever since the Odisha state government decided to allocate lands from this panchayat for the proposed Posco Steel plant. What happened next was unmindful and indiscriminate felling of trees by the IDCO (Infrastructure Development Corporation) . As a repercussion, it is now for the villagers to bear the brunt of nature’s fury. It has become a regular phenomenon now for sea water to enter to the villages each month on the occasion of new moon and full moon day.
An estimate says that nearly 80,000 trees were felled last year only in this region , thus stripping the entire coastline with valuable forest resources. The trees were instrumental in acting a s a natural barriers for the marauding tidal waves earlier. Tidal waves from the mouth of river Jatadhara have now started entering into the areas where once the forest used to act as a natural barrier.
The marauding tidal waves have been destroying farmlands and inundating the villages for some time now. It is estimated that more than 400 acres of paddy and vegetable crops get damaged every time the sea water gets into the Panchayat. The life of more than 1500 villages who inhabit the region have turned topsy-turvy.
The villagers who now insist that IDCO which now holds the land before finally handing it over to the POSCO steel company in due course of time, should take to the task of afforesting the entire region. To make up for the lost of forest cover, thousand of acres of plantation is needed now and the company should be made responsible to undertake the afforest ration activities.
In a way, the example of the Gadkujang Panchayat is an eye opener for the state government. If its is the role of the government to step up investments and industrial activities, it has got a responsibility towards the environment too.
No travel or tourism website features it. No popular history book mentions. Little wonder than that hardly any media reported the crumbling of the sanctum Santorum that houses it!
Well, Baba Bhusandeswar, which is largest Shiva Lingam in Asia and is being worshiped in a remote village in Bhogarai block of Balasore district for years amidst thickets of dense jungle is a popular deity in Balasore and bordering areas of Jharakhand and West Bengal. Ensconced on the banks of Subaranarekha river in Kumbhirgadi Village, the 12 ft long Shiva Lingam has been associated with miraculous healing powers as well as mythological anecdotes that date back to the Ramayana.
Carved out of black granite, only half of the 12-foot lingam is visible. The rest of it has remained buried for years. It has a diameter of 12 feet and has three parts. It has a square base of four feet. The middle portion is octagonal and is about 12 feet in diameter and about four feet in height.
Another uniqueness of the Lingam is that it is slightly tilted towards it’s right. Attempts to correct this deviation in the structure by the devotees have not paid any results. Latest record suggests that a businessman from Jaleswar, Mr. Sukhal Jayram had tried to use a crane to pull the Lingam out of the earth in order to install it properly. He too failed in his endeavors. Ever since the tilted Lingam does not bother its devotee anymore. People flock to this temple during Shivaratri, Bisuva Sankranti and Chadak Jatra and it is heavily crowded in these auspicious days
Despite all its specialty and uniqueness, Baba Bhusaneswar has been neglected by the administrators till long. It was not until 1984 that a temple structure was built around the Lingam. Till then it was a thatched house that sheltered the Lord! And in a mockery of sorts, a portion of the temple roof collapsed just a couple of days back. Though no damage has been done to the Lingam, devotees are now afraid of approaching the Lingam and offer prayers. Even the priest s, afraid of entering the temple have started offering Puja in a nearby Rest shed.
And though officials of the government have already paid visits to the temple and taken stock of the situation, the crumbling temple has become topic of hot debate among political parties. It’s a real shame that a monument of such importance has been neglected so far and so long and instead of taking corrective measures, all that we are up to is bickering and mudslinging! Somebody rightly said – it can happen only in Odisha!
Two compact size solar powered cars have been designed by the students of the Orissa Engineering College for use in airports, railways, malls and zoo for in-house activities. Coming just on the heels of the “water run bike “ developed by the young Shakti Mishra, the innovations by young students go on to suggest the growing might of Odisha in research and Development activities.
The solar powered cars have been designed, fabricated and assembled by the Mechanical Engineering Department of Orissa Engineering College, Bhubaneswar and were inaugurated by principal of the college Prof. (Dr.) T. C. Panda
The Solar cars developed by the 3rd and 4th semester students under the guidance of senior faculties of the college cost around Rs 70,000.. The solar cars were constructed using in-house facilities of the Department Workshop of the college. The manufacturing costs of these cars were borne completely by the college authorities.
The cars score highly when compared to other cars that run on petrol or diesel. The cars are eco-friendly, compact and offer smart solution for in-house facilities. The students and the college authorities claim that the extensive use of the cars will go a long way in checking environmental pollution !
Encouraged by the success, Prof. Pankaj Charan Jena, the man behind the project says that the college would take a step further and develop solar vehicles for its versatile use of the technology in water locomotives and other fields.
Noted sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik who hails from Puri and has won many laurels for the country in sand sculpting has been adjudged the winner of “Moscow choice prize” in Russia, for sand sculpting. The 12 feet creation of Hindu elephant god Ganesha, that the master sculptor sculpted on sand was intended top deliver the message of world peace.
The world sand art championship 2013 was held at Moscow’s Kolomenskoe Museum Reserve from April 22-28. The prize distribution ceremony was held Sunday evening. While the “Moscow choice prize” went to Pattnaik, a Ukrainian artist bagged the “sculptor choice prize” and the “people’s choice prize” went to a Russian.
The lone participant from India,the 36 year old competed with artists from 10 different countries. A popular figure in odisha, Sudarshan Patnaik has been into sand sculpting since the tender age of seven! He has won many national and international awards for his creative designs and has recorded his name in the World records for sculpting the tallest Santa Claus and most Santa Claus image built on sand.
Pattnaik, whose name is synonymous with sand sculpting in the country has so far participated in more than 50 international sand sculpture championships across the world and won many awards for the country. In June 2012, he has won first prize in International Sand Sculpture Championship . His His sand sculpture on Black Taj Mahal earned him accolades all over the world. He runs the Sand Sculpting Institute in Puri, now a days to impart practical teaching on sand sculpting to people and hopes to get some government aid to popularize this form of art in the country!
“The government of India is not lending adequate support to sand art. Now that I have won the prize I do hope that government will do something for this art”, he said after winning the prize. Hope the government is listening!
There has been an unusual spurt in the number of colleges that provide education and training to students in various streams of engineering like Mechanical,civil and Electrical Engineering in Odisha. An estimation states that there were over 107 engineering colleges in odisha by the year 2011. These college train around 43,000 students annually into different streams of engineering.
However there have been ominous trends on display since the last year . The overall admission capacity into the engineering colleges in Odisha has fallen sharply. The year 2012 saw a total of 26,947 seats in engineering colleges remaining vacant in Odisha even after two phases of counseling !
While 23 colleges could attract less than 50 students, the number of admissions in five colleges of the state were single digit figures. One private engineering college found no student at all this time. All the data go on to paint a bleak future for the engineering colleges in Odisha!
While the private colleges are perishing for want of students, the government is facing flak from all sides for still being busy in giving nods to open fresh engineering colleges in the state. It is being alleged that that while granting sanctions to open new colleges in the State of Odisha, neither the Centre nor the State Governments have taken care of supporting such colleges.
When the State Government and the Central Governments have a say in opening a new college, Granting affiliation, curbing the fee hike, increasing the seats or de-affiliating a college, is it not equally responsible for the losses incurred by the colleges due to its faulty or wrong acts ? Is it not the duty of the Government to guide and support these new colleges in introducing with the Industry and the market?
The Government needs to have a mechanism to link the new colleges( heavily loaded with bank loans) with the Industry. Most of the colleges get self sufficient by the time 4 to 5 batches of students pass out. But in the infancy stage the government has a binding role in helping them as the government makes mileage out of the students passing out of the colleges.
Even now on an average one in five job seekers in India does not have any Technical Expertise/ diploma or a degree. So it can be safely assumed that the number of seats available in the engineering colleges has not outnumbered the demand. As such the government needs to review its policy and take steps for proper nursing of the private engineering colleges so that they don’t face the threat of closing shutters even before they start operations!
Upon reminiscence, on its foundation day, the spectacular journey of a historical city that became the capital city of odisha in 1948 to a throbbing new world teeming with extensive infrastructure and modern amenities in 2013 seem , seem nonplussing.
In many terms the transition of this small city that was adorned by relics of history that displayed a rare mosaic of cultural creativity and was canopied with copious covers of green into a hub of services and education industry of east is no mean achievement.
Although its presence is rooted deeply in the history of the state and it has been a center of activity since the mighty emperor Kharavela established his capital in Sishupalgarh , it was only in 1948 that after careful considerations, that this sleepy town was chosen as the spot to become the administrative capital of Orissa. Long before Pandit Jawhar Lal Nehru inaugurated it as the capital of the state On April 13th 1948, the place was well known as the Temple city boasting of more than 1000 temples that were as old as 7th century!
The master plan of Bhubaneswar was prepared by the internationally acclaimed architect and urban planner, Otto H Koenigsberger in 1948 for a population of 40,000 over an area of 16.48 km2 with a density of 10 to 12 families per acre. The innovative master plan of the city with modernist buildings, land-use patterns, provisions for education, recreation, medical and social services created a landmark in the history of town planning in India. Bhubaneswar was after all the second city in the country and only after Chandigarh to be developed on a master plan!
The City saw a greater change in the late 1980’s when light industries and manufacturing activities were added into the ambit of the original master plan that envisaged it primarily for administrative activities. This led to influx of working population into the “sleepy town” and for the first time showed the seeds of expansion. Three decades later, today the government with its intention of projecting Bhubneswar as the Prime destination of Education in the eastern India, the city has taken quantum leaps not only geographically but demographically too. The city which is growing towards north, northwest and southwest direction along the main transport routes and has already taken areas like Chandaka, Jatani,Uttara, Patia and Hansapal into its sway is today one of the fastest growing cities in India!
Agricultural and vacant land that once donned the outskirts of the city has been now replaced with high rise buildings. There are engineering collges and other educational institutes that are coming up there! The city boasts of more than 40 engineering colleges and three medical colleges. Top institutes like that of IIT, BITS and AIIMS have already started operating in the city.
This has brought in structural changes in the demography of the city too. Today students and younger working professionals coming out of the state are becoming majority. Service sector industries like the Software sector and ITES industries have started operations in the city in scores! Similarly infrastructure companies that have their eyes on the future too are now very active in the city. In fact the city has become the cynosure of all infrastructure activities and boasts of some big players like DLF, Tata and Vipul. These companies are redefining the future of the city by creating residential and commercial complexes in the city! On a nutshell, Bhubaneswar the city is going through a transition that is simply unprecedented!
And nothing defines this transition more than the cultural conversion that we are experiencing today! The youth of today in the city is more aggressive and extrovert than he ever was! While hindi and English are slowly replacing Oriya as the mode of communication, the shopping habits of the residents have undergone sea change with the advent of mall culture. Similarly concepts of eat – outs and night parties have become popular too!
While all these changes might not be welcome, but transition is just a way of life and one need to accept the fact that Bhubaneswar is well on the path to compete with other cities on scales of infrastructure, development and economic success. It might not be too far off when we actually see Bhubaneswar as the best city in the country!
It was on the year 1936 on the first day of April that Orissa rediscovered itself on the cultural and geographical maps of the country by becoming the first state in India to be constituted on the basis of language. Ever since the occasion is being celebrated in odisha as the Utkal Diwas.
What preceded this was a five decade long intense struggle for recognition. A state that once stamped its authority on the cultural landscape of the country with its own uniqueness was dissected and divided by a colonial authority with such alacrity that its self-belief and pride was mauled beyond repair. This is the reason why We Oriyas still run such a bad self esteem and lack of pride that today’s generation is loathsome of anything that owes its origin to the Oriya culture.
Well, it’s really sad twist of fate but it’s true! The language itself, which is a mirror to our glory is now under serious threat. Great sacrifices, vision and struggle that marked the endeavor of our leaders in the late nineteenth century stemmed from their ardent love of the language. However this is precisely what is lacking in today’s generation.
Odisha has, of late seen a major influx of non-residents owing to rapid industrialization and expanding commerce. This has no doubt helped in rising economic activities and rising prosperity of the state. However this has also has a telling effect on the culture of the state. In any given circumstance, the influx of outsiders leads to a mix in culture which leads to diversity. Unfortunately, because of the low self-esteem of Oriyas, things have not turned out the way they should have. Instead of influencing other cultures and introducing them to our heritage, Oriyas were prompt to give up their traditions and adopt alien customs with an eagerness that has been difficult to understand.
As a result of this Oriya festivals started losing out their charms to the younger generation. While Odisha has its own set of festivals that accentuate its identity, like the Raja festival, Prathamastami and Sabitri Brat, we end up celebrating Holi, Diwali and Karva Chauth with unprecedented zing. Festivals like the “ Kanwariyas” which were completely unheard of in the state till a decade are being celebrated with a craze that seems alien to our culture while we are forgetting the importance of celebrating our own festivals. Ask any growing teenager from odisha about “Prathamastami” and he would stare blankly.
Oriya weddings similarly been transmogrified way beyond recognition. For any Oriya native, it is getting increasingly difficult to identify between oriya marriages and North Indian marriages. Concepts like “Sangeet”, which are in no way connected to Oriya marriages, are now a part of every wedding ceremony in the state. If this was not enough, getting a non-Oriya bride is considered an honor by many young Oriya boys. This is nothing but a reflection of the inherent inferiority complex that lies in the heart of modern Oriyas, a complete reverse of leaders of the past.
The young generation truly is so much engrossed with anything that is non-oriya that you find Hindi taking over as the medium of communication among youngsters. While learning Hindi or English is essential in today’s world, pushing our own mother tongue to oblivion is something that is abominable. The same has not been the case with other languages like Tamil, Kannda and Telugu. People of these states someway stay connected to their culture and gloss over their past. The same is missing with us in Odisha.
It is a issue that is grave and can assume monstrous proportions, if not attended to! The state was formed 75 years back and yet the language is not secure. Oriya has received patronage neither at the official level nor among the common people. Celebrating Utkal Diwas is nothing but a ritual for us today but the fervor that is shown during the celebration of English New Year or Valentine’s day is completely missing.
A state that owes its birth to it’s language is getting increasingly unfaithful to its creator and is on the process of losing its own identity! And if something drastic is not done now, there will be nothing that can be done tomorrow!
It is a scene very common in odisha. Most of the time you barge on to somebody unknown in the street or encounter the teen age working in a hotel or driving a auto-rickshaw, or even the familiar looking Security guard at the entrance of the building, you are greeted with deep sunken lips simmered red and corroded teeth that look equally resplendent as if carefully painted in crimson! And you know, it’s the same thing at work everywhere.
The omnipresent gutka has more people under its sway in Odisha than anything else. This preparation of betel nuts and tobacco that is sold in small sachets is responsible for more than just plastering your lips and tooth red. It is in fact responsible for more oral cancers in Odisha than any other form of tobacco consumption. In an annual health survey, it was stated that odisha ranked highest among all the states in the country in terms of gutka chewers. And what is worse is the fact that a majority of the users fall in the age group of 15-31 in the state.
Low in cost and easily available, the gutka is sought by children and teenagers in impoverished neighborhoods. More often than not, the children come under its bad effect simply by picking the habit from their seniors. The practice of chewing gutkas is in fact commonly prevalent among women who work as daily wage earners in construction sites and elsewhere. The effect that it has on them on later parts of their life is really ominous. A mild stimulant, the guka tells upon the reproductive health of women and the addicts run the risk of giving birth to underweight infants. For somebody who is in the habit of chewing more than 10 packets of gutka a day, a period of five years is enough to acquire precancerous conditions like malignancy of lips, mouth or tongue.
The state government thus took the right step towards promotion of public health by banning the sale of the “silent killer in sachet” on the inaugural day of the year 2013. This had a telling effect on the availability of the gutkas in the shop. However traders have taken to innovative routes and back door practices to continue with their business. Koraput district in odisha and Jeypore town in particular used to be the hub of manufacturing and distribution of the local made gutkas. This small town also acted as the place of delivery of the consignment that came from neighboring states. The products then got distributed to other parts of the district and state. However fearing police action, the traders have shifted their region of action to Semliguda now, a small town 40 km away from Jeypore.
Shopkeepers are also reaping gold by selling these products stealthily. A sachet of gutka priced at Re 1 earlier is now being sold at Rs 5. Habitual chewers shell out this amount without much fuss knowing that it is not easily available now. While some shopkeepers are reluctant to sell gutkas to strangers, other make sure that it’s for your own consumption before they take the thing out of their coffer. And then there are shopkeepers who in clear defiance of the enforced rule, still sell gutka uninhibited. Regions like Khandagiri and Pahal in Bhubaneswar still have shop that display garlands of the gutkas to attract chewers.
While frequent police raids are being conducted to curb the sale of the tobacco item, anti-tobacco activists argue that unless the ban order is strictly implemented, the prohibition on gutkha will hold no meaning.
However what is needed is a massive awareness program and educational campaigns to inform the people about the ill effects of the silent killer. Otherwise they would simply keep on switching from one form of tobacco habits to other!