Puducherry weavers in dire-straits

Barely surviving: Most of the looms at Pontex have fiallen into disuse because of maintenance issues and shortage of raw material.   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

/Picture from THE HINDU

A traditional skill and source of income for large number of people is on the verge of extinction, the craft can be traced back to the French colonial period. The weavers are dwindling in all the weavers cooperatives. The reason is shortage of yarn and rapid fall in production. According to a report in The Hindu, ” Puducherry weavers in a web of poverty,” S. Prasad, April 16 2017, handloom had been the largest employer after agriculture.

There were 10,000 weavers registered with 13 primary weavers cooperative societies of Pontex. “Pontex was started in 1957 to ensure continuous employment for weavers in the city by arranging regular supply of yarn.” The fabric from the registered primary weavers was supplied to Pontex under various schemes of the government under the Department of Welfare and Adi Dravidar Welfare, the report says.

Similarly, the Pondicherry Cooperative Handloom Export Development Project, popularly known as Ponfab, was established in the 1980s to cater to the overseas markets. THE HINDU

These major handloom weavers bodies are in deep financial crisis. The Hindu report quotes a CPI (M) secretary, R. Rangrajan, “An artificial shortage of looms and other requirements has been created in Pontex landing the weavers in poverty. As against 10,000 weavers at its peak, the cooperative now has only 1,000 workers. Most weavers have left the avocation for good because of lack of proper wages.”

Weavers complain about a lack of proper administration and planning. Even when there are 100 looms, only 40 are functioning because of shortage of yarn. In fact the newspaper quotes a weaver as saying that when one part is available then something else is missing.

“When there is work, we get a maximum of ₹150 a day.

“The supply of yarn is erratic and we get work only for four months in a year. We received our wages last on March 21. We have borrowed money from private lenders to meet the family’s daily expenses,” say P. Muthu and his wife M. Selvarani of Bahour. THE HINDU


US air strike in Syria rattles “The Hermit Kingdom”

Pyongyang has reacted sharply to US attack on Syria and said that North Korea will respond in kind if there is any nuclear strike. It was the occasion of the birth anniversary of the founder of North Korea, which is celebrated as the New Year. The county’s military hardware was on display that included goose stepping soldiers.

“We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks,” Choe Ryong Hae said in a speech at a ceremony before a large military parade started, which was broadcast live by the North’s Korean Central TV.


Trump deployed the US Navy in the Korean Peninsula as experts warn that North Korea was preparing for another nuclear test. Tensions have been rising recently. North Korea has been developing muscle as it has acquired more sophisticated weaponry.

Trump’s recent attacks in Syria and Afghanistan has raised fears of an imminent attack on Pyongyang. And any such air strike on North Korea would have devastating effect on the regime, as it would be seen as gutless. However, the defense experts believe that the reclusive nation is still years away from developing an ICBM. However, there are fears that an all out war with North Korea would have serious implications in the region as Japan, Philippines and South Korea would be directly affected.


First community radio still enthralls listeners

Leading lights H. Narsamma and N. Narsamma who run the community radio station at Machnoor Village in Sangareddy district of Telangana / Picture from The Hindu

Sangam Radio went on air in 2008, since then it continues to broadcast in Telugu and reaches out to 150 villages. The Deccan Development Society established an FM broadcasting station with help of UNESCO.  The NGO  (DDS) had to wait for nine years before it received the green signal from the government. The transmission radius is 30 km. Two Dalit women are the broadcasters – Hyderabad Narsamma and Nalugindla Narasamma, they are educated up to X standard.

There are eight reporters who have not completed their tenth class. Broadcast includes farming news and tips on various things pertinent to the local lifestyle.

“We relax and listen to the radio while preparing dinner. We hear our language in our way of speaking. It makes me feel like one of our neighbors is talking to us about different things,” says Nagamani who, like her mother M. Ratnamma, prefers to listen to the radio than sit in front of the TV. THE HINDU

Songs played by the community radio depend upon the season, reports The Hindu. Over the years the radio station has collected over 2500 songs. The best thing is that the Telugu broadcast is peppered with local slang and colloquialisms. This makes the broadcast seem like the women are listening to their neighbors.

What the giant state broadcasters could not do, this small radio service has shown to be possible with the minimum infrastructure and outlay.


South Sudan: 2000 flee to Uganda everyday

Refugees cross a rudimentary bridge as they make their way into Uganda

Escaping to safety takes several days of trekking through the bush /From BBC

The Ugandan refugee camp at Bidi Bidi is the largest in the world. That refugee camp is reported to be full now. Over one and a half million South Sudanese have fled the war in their country. 800,000 of them have sought refuge in Uganda. Uganda has received them with warmth, However there are strains showing.

A woman fleeing South Sudan said that she had seen people being hacked to death with machetes, France24 tv reported in an extensive report. The troops are reported to have opened fire on those fleeing. Children too had been attacked according to BBC. BBC reports that UN peacekeepers have been prevented from entering  into the town of Pajok twice. Several thousands have fled to neighboring Uganda from this town.

For three years South Sudan has tumbled deeper into self-inflicted chaos, and it now finds itself on the brink of something even more terrifying.

United Nations officials rarely use the words “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing,” but they now say potentially both could envelop the world’s youngest country. BBC

Violence flared in Juba in July and spread to the more peaceful parts of South Sudan. Since then 340 thousand have fled to neighboring Uganda. A small wooden bridge separates them from certain death and safety. Those fleeing the violence speak of people being “cut up with knives,” stories of rape, and loot.

The civil war began as a dispute between the Dinka President Salva Kiir, and former Vice-President Riek Machar who is Nuer. BBC


China warns India over Dalai visit

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DALAI LAMA / Picture via Google


China warned India on serious consequences of inviting Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh which it considers as part of Southern Tibet. This is the second warning from China. It said that it would lead to “serious damage to relations.” India’s border with China, 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control has been the bone of contention.

While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet,  India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war. INDIA TODAY

China has often made known its displeasure whenever world leaders propose to meet the Dalai. Dalai Lama has health issues, he had to be hospitalized, have raised concerns among his flock. He has made statements about his mortality, as The Hindu reports the Dalai has said that he might be last of the line of Dalai.

“But he has also said: “If I die in exile, and if the Tibetan people wish to continue the institution of the Dalai Lama, my reincarnation will not be born under Chinese control … That reincarnation … will be outside, in the free world. This I can say with absolute certainty.” These remarks make it clear that while the Tibetan Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation belongs to the mystical-religious realm and asks a lot from 21st century believers, the Dalai Lama’s approach even to rebirth is decidedly ideological-political.” THE HINDU

The Dalai is the most recognized face in the world. He has been in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh since 1960. He along with his entourage have created a “Little Lhasa.” He has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has traveled to many countries of the world. He has been hosted by heads of state and government, and is a thorn on the side of China which has shown its annoyance towards nations who show bonhomie in welcoming him and treating him like a world leader. He has kept the Tibet question alive and fervently wishes for an independent Tibet. He views it as a issue which is very much in the arena of Indo-China relations.

Nations across the world do not want to upset China and view Tibet as an autonomous territory within China. China’s growing influence in the world and its economic, military pre-eminence in the region has pushed the issue of Free Tibet almost out of the agenda.


From the newspapers this week

Mohammed Yasin

Mohammed Yasin said all the meat in his store, including a sample of buffalo meat, was taken away / Picture from BBC

The global press is amused about the UP ant-Romeo police. The Straits Times, Singapore carries a story about the squad. The headline goes, “‘Ant-Romeo squad’ gets busy in Uttar Pradesh.” It goes on to say that hundreds of police squads have been deployed targeting young men loitering around women’s colleges, schools and public spaces.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the state had the highest number of crimes against women in 2015 with 35,527 cases, including 3,025 rape cases.

Yet the action, among the first taken by Mr Adityanath, a hardline Hindu politician, has been criticized for moral policing. THE STRAITS TIMES

It said that one newspaper had estimated that 1000 persons had been arrested. In the CMs own constituency in Gorakhpur 50 arrests were made. The newspaper quoted The sunday Times as saying that the young men were let go after few hours of detention. They men had told their parents that they are going to attend tuition classes whereas they were upon another “errand.”

Closure of abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh has led to fears about ‘meat crack down’ in the state. This story appearing in the BBC says that this was the first act of the newly appointed chief Minister. People allege that many that were selling only mutton were also targeted. A very large number of abattoirs downed their shutters in protest. There is despondency over how they would feed their families.


Donald’s care flops


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Image The New Yorker via Google

The Republicans were unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that was the signature legislation of the Obama administration. The Guardian reports that Sean Spicer had insisted that the vote would go ahead at 3:30 pm ET.  “Has the team put everything out there, have we left everything on the field? Absolutely,” he told reporters at his daily briefing. “But at the end of the day this isn’t a dictatorship and we’ve got to expect members to ultimately vote how they will according to what they think guardian.co.uk.”

When the deadline approached, Donald Trump said that the “vote should be pulled,” The Guardian reports that the House Republicans had withdrawn the health Bill as “they were short of votes.” This is the biggest blow to Trump and his administration and it comes on top of the travel ban fiasco.

Many moderates in swing districts were wary of supporting the legislation, which included major cuts to Medicaid and was estimated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to lead to 24 million fewer Americans having health insurance over the next 10 years. THE GUARDIAN

Conservatives had objected to the legislation on the grounds that it kept too much of the “architecture of Obamacare.” This despite the removal of the federal mandate to provide essential health benefits: maternity care, mental health care, etc. The corner stone of Trumps election campaign had been repeal of Obamacare. He had described it as a disaster, and had vowed to replace it with something “terrific.”

Even when it was clear that there weren’t enough votes White House had insisted that the vote would go through at 3:30 pm ET. Some in the Republican Party blame the lack of cohesion, as the GOP caucus did not spend, “a whole lot of time talking.” about a unified vision on the health care legislation. A member of the Freedom Caucus pointed finger at White House staffers.

There are reports that Mr. Paul Ryan the Republican House speaker had rushed to warn Mr. Trump to pull the bill as there weren’t enough votes.