India Celebrates Children’s Day 2013


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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I wish all children in India “A Happy Children’s Day!”

In 1925, The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 as International Children’s Day and then established universally in 1954. Now, many countries around the world, celebrate Children’s Day, but on different days each year.

Universal Children’s Day

A major global variant of Children’s Day is the Universal Children’s Day celebrated on November 20 every year.

The United Nations General Assembly recommended this day in 1954 to urge all its member countries to institute a day, with the aim to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children, and to initiate action to help and promote the welfare of children globally as outlined in the Charter.

On November 20, 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and on November 20, 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

India celebrates Children’s Day on November 14

Children’s Day (ISource: ndianEagle.com)

Children’s Day (Source: IndianEagle.com)

Today, November 14, India celebrates Children’s Day. On this day, India remembers and honours the country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The children of India fondly called him “Chacha Nehru” (Hindi: चाचा नेहरू)) or Uncle Nehru.

Nehru consistently emphasized the importance of showering love and affection on children. He saw in them the future of India.

On Children’s Day, the Kids in India engage themselves in the fun and frolic. Various educational, cultural, social, institutions organize functions and conduct competitions for children all over the country. The State and the Central governments organize film festivals in many parts of the country to showcase Children’s films.

In many schools, the children themselves arrange the cultural activities on this day. Teachers also get involved; in many schools, they sing and dance for their students.

First Day Covers for commemorating Children's Day 2012 in India

First Day Cover for commemorating Children’s Day 2012 in India

Every year, India Post issues special stamps of paintings  by children and First Day Covers for commemorating Children’s Day in India. Here are the commemorative stamps issued from year 2006 to 2012. Please note that these images of the postage stamps are not to scale.

Children's Day November 14, 2012- Rs 5

Children’s Day 2012

Children's Day November 14, 2011 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2011

Children's Day November 14, 2011 - Rs 20

Children’s Day 2011

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day Nov 14, 2010

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day 2009

Children’s Day 2009

Children's Day 2009

Children’s Day 2009

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

Children's Day 2006

Children’s Day 2006

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

 

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Deepavali: The Festival of Lights


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Glow of joy! Women lighting traditional lamps on the eve of Deepavali (Photo:  K.C. Sowmish)

Glow of joy! Women lighting traditional lamps on the eve of Deepavali (Photo: K.C. Sowmish)

India, being a culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals. States and regions have their own local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics.

To the Hindus, Deepavali (also known as Diwali, Dīvali, Dīpāwali, Dipabali, etc.,), is one of their most sacred festivals. The name “Diwali” or “Dīvali” is a contraction of “Deepavali”. I will use the longer word “Deepavali” in this article.

Deepavali is a “festival of lights,” symbolizing the victory of righteousness over spiritual darkness. All over the world, the Hindus celebrate Deepavali jubilantly with their families in their homes, performing traditional spiritual activities. In India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, people belonging to other religions too join the Hindus in the celebrations.

Goddess Lakshmi is the most significant deity during Deepavali Puja. Several other gods and goddesses are also worshipped. Various religious rituals are followed during the five-day festivities.

Deepavali is celebrated as a five-day festivity that starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of Ashwin and ends on Bhau-Beej, celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. However, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Deepavali festivity begins one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi, and is a six-day festivity.

The month of Ashvin begins with the Sun’s exit from Virgo in the solar religious calendar. In the Sanskrit language ‘Ashvin’ means light. It is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar.

In many cultures, people use the lunisolar calendar where the date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.

In the Tamil sidereal solar calendar, used by Tamils all over the world, Ashvin is known as Aipassi (ஐப்பசி). In the Bengali sidereal solar calendar, officially used by the Bengali people in West Bengal and Bangladesh, it is the sixth month and is called Ashbin (আশ্বিন).

The Five/Six Days of Deepavali

Deepavali celebrations is a five-day festivity spread over from Dhanteras to Bhau-Beej. In some places like Maharashtra and Gujarat the celebrations begin with Govatsa Dwadashi. All the days except Deepavali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:

Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

In Sanskrit, Go means cow and vatsa means calf, Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped.

King Prithu chasing Prithvi.

King Prithu chasing Prithvi.

According to Hindu mythology, Prithu was a king, from whom the earth received her name Prithvi. The epic Mahabharata and the Hindu text Vishnu Purana describe him as a part Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.

Prithu was the son of King Vena, a tyrant. Due to the lawless rule of Vena, an appalling famine engulfed the earth making it barren. King Prithu went after Prithvi, the earth goddess, who fled from him transforming herself into a cow. After being caught, Prithvi agreed to yield her milk as the world’s grain and vegetation that brought prosperity to the world once again.

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Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanteras or Dhanwantari Trayodashi (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

In Sanskrit, Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month Ashvin, and usually eighteen days after Dussehra.

Dhanventari,  physician of the  devas, and god of  Ayurvedic Medicine.

Dhanventari, physician of the Devas, and god of Ayurvedic Medicine.

According to Hindu mythology, Dhanvantari is an Avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of the gods devas, and is the god of Ayurvedic medicine. He is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, holding medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amrita in another.

In the myth of the Samudra or Sagar manthan (Churning of the Ocean of Milk), Dhanavantari emerged bearing the pot of nectar after the Devas (demi gods) and Asssuras (demons) churned the ‘Ocean of Milk’ using the Mount Mandarachala, also known as Mount Meru, as the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of serpents, as the rope.

The Hindus pray to Lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for good health for themselves and others, especially on Dhanteras, his Jayanti (Birth Anniversary), along with Goddess Lakshmi, the provider of prosperity and well-being.

Lakshmi and Kuberan

Lakshmi and Kuberan (Source: amritsartemples.in)

Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshiped on this day by the Hindus. Dhanteras is very significant among business communities since it is customary to buy precious metals on this day.

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Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

Chaturdashi is the 14th day (Tithi) of the waxing phase or waning phase of the moon.

This day signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, because on this day the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. . This day is also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas or Choti Diwali.

In one source in Hindu mythology, Narakasura is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhūmī-Devī (Earth) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) Avatar. In other sources, he is said to the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. It was foretold that he would be destroyed by a later incarnation of Vishnu. So, his mother, the earth, sought a boon from her consort Vishnu for a long life for her son, and that he should be all powerful. Vishnu out of love for Bhūmī-Devī granted these boons.

Narakasura, knowing himself to be unrivalled in prowess became evil, and subdued all the kingdoms on earth and brought them under his control. Next, he set his eyes on Swargaloka (the heavens), the abode of the devas. Unable to withstand the powers of Narakasura, the mighty Indra, the lord of the devas, fled from Swargaloka. Narakasura became the overlord of both the heavens and earth. Intoxicated by power, he stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess, and usurped some of her territory, while also kidnapping 16,000 women.

The devas, led by Indra appealed to Vishnu, asking him to deliver them from Narakasura. Vishnu promised them that he would help them when he would be incarnated as Krishna.

Narakasura was allowed to enjoy a long reign because of the boon granted by Vishnu.

When Vishnu incarnated as Krishna, he married Satyabhama, an Avatar of Bhūmī-Devī. Aditi, being a relative of Krishna’s wife approached her for help. On learning about Narakasura’s ill treatment of women and his behaviour with Aditi, Satyabhama was enraged. Shr approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura.

As promised to the Devas and Aditi, Vishnu in his Krishna avatar, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama, attacked the great fortress of Narakasura. The battle was fierce. Narakasura unleashed all his army on Krishna. However, Krishna slew them all. He also killed Mura, Narakasura’s general. Thus, Krishna is called ‘Murāri ‘(the enemy of Mura).

Krishna and Narakasura

Krishna hurling the Sudarshana Chakra.

The desperate Narakasura launched his great weapon, sataghini, a thunderbolt, and then his trident on Krishna, but these weapons did not harm Krishna. Eventually, Krishna beheaded Narakasura with his Sudarshana Chakra, a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges.

Before dying, Narakasura requested a boon that his death anniversary should be celebrated by all people on earth. This day is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’.

In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities.

On this day, the Hindus, all over the world, wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. In Tamilnadu, after the bath, a home-made medicine known as “Deepavali Lehiyam” is consumed, which is supposed to aid to overcome digestive problems that may ensue due to feasting that occurs later in the day. They light small lamps around their homes and draw elaborate kolams or rangolis in front of their houses. They perform a special pooja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, for liberating the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. The Hindus believe that bathing before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky, is equal to taking a bath in the holy river Ganges. After the pooja, the devotees burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As a day of rejoicing, housewives prepare elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet with family and friends.

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Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

Amavasya, the new moon day, is the most significant day among the five days Deepavali festivities and the ceremonies followed on that day are known as Lakshmi Puja, Lakshmi-Ganesh Puja and Deepavali Puja. The Hindus worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings also known as the banisher of obstacles.

Deeyas

Deeyas (little clay pots) are lit in the homes and streets to welcome prosperity and well-being.

On this day, ink bottle, pens and new account books are worshipped. Ink bottle and pen, are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Maha Kali. New account books are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Saraswati.

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Govardhan Pooja and Bali Pratipada (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika):

In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan pooja, also called Annakoot.

Krishna holding Govardhan Hill to save his people.

Krishna holding Govardhan Hill to save his people.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna taught people to worship Govardhan, the supreme controller of nature, a manifestation of himself and to stop worshiping Lord Indra, the Lord of Swargaloga and also the god of Rains. Indra was furious and directed his wrath on the people by raining on them. Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods.

For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolising the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna.

In the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Govardhan pooja is performed with great zeal and enthusiasm.

In Haryana Govardhan Puja forms an important part of the celebrations of Diwali. There is a tradition of building hillocks with cow dung, to symbolize the Govardhan hill. After making such hillocks, devotees worship them after decorating them with flowers. They move in a circle round the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.

In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, this day is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu, in his dwarf form Vamana, over the demon-king Bali.

In Maharashtra, it is called Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. In Gujarat, it is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar.

Yama Dwitiya or Bhau-Beej (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika):

On this day, siblings meet to express love and affection for each other. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters.

Bhau-Beej - Sibling meeting each other on this day.

Bhau-Beej – Siblings meeting each other on this day.

This tradition is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami (the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called ‘Yama Dwitiya’.

Bandi Chhor Divas (Diwali), the Sikh celebration of the sixth Nanak Guru Har Gobind’s return from detention in the Gwalior Fort, coincides with Diwali. This coincidence has resulted in celebrating the day among many Sikhs and Hindus.

Many Buddhists in India celebrated the anniversary of Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism around the time of Diwali.

Jains celebrate the anniversary of Mahavira’s (or Lord Mahavir) attainment of nirvana on October 15, 527 BC. Many Jains celebrate the Festival of Lights in his honor.

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August 23: The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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Slavery

The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed annually on August 23rd. The Day commemorates the uprising that took place on August 22-23, 1791, when slaves in Saint Domingue, today Haiti, launched an insurrection which ultimately led to the Haitian revolution.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General, in a message to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition said: ““We must teach the names of the heroes of this story, because they are the heroes of all humankind.”

This year is particularly important with many key anniversaries, including:

  • 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti;
  • 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope;
  • 170 years ago, the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed.

Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.

Year 2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared on January 1, 1863: all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.

The Dutch Slave trade in Coromandel coast, India

Many would be surprised to know that the Dutch were precursors of slave trade in India.

Pulicat (Pazhaverkadu) is a historic seashore town in Thiruvallur District, of Tamil Nadu, India. It is about 60 km north of Chennai and 3 km from Elavur, on the barrier island of Sriharikota, which separates Pulicat Lake from the Bay of Bengal.

In 1502, the Portuguese established a trading post in Pulicat with the help of the Vijayanagar rulers. They built a fort there and held this fort until their defeat by the Dutch in 1609.

By 1612, the Dutch established themselves in Pulicat to the north. Till 1690 Pulicat remained the capital of Dutch Coromandel.

The slave trade is one of the oldest trades in the world. Slaves and textiles were the most profitable merchandise exported by the Dutch at Pulicat to their Indian Ocean trade headquarters at Batavia (Jakarta), in exchange for spices such as mace and nutmeg.

Between 1621 and 1665, the Dutch deployed 131 slave ships from Pulicat, to transport 38,441 Indians captured on the Coromandel coast, and sold as slaves to the Dutch plantations in Batavia and to work as domestic helps for the Dutch masters. Those in the age group of 8 to 20 were preferred as slaves for export.

To learn more about the slave trade on the Coromondel coast, I recommend you to read a very informative article titled “Baggage that weighs heavily on the mind” written by P. J. Sanjeeva Raj and published in The Hindu.

Comet Hale-Bopp: The Most Widely Observed Comet of the 20th Century


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Image of comet Hale-BoppC/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), taken on 1997 April 04. The field shown is about 6.5° x 6.5°. At full resolution, the stars in the image appear slightly elongated, as the camera tracked the comet during the exposure. (Photo: E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes-Kepler-Observatory, Linz, Austria)

Image of comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1), taken on 1997 April 04. The field shown is about 6.5° x 6.5°. At full resolution, the stars in the image appear slightly elongated, as the camera tracked the comet during the exposure. (Photo: E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes-Kepler-Observatory, Linz, Austria)

On July 23, 1995, two independent observers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp in the United States discovered the comet Hale-Bopp. This comet formally designated C/1995 O1 was perhaps the most widely observed comet of the 20th century, the third largest comet in the last 500 years, and one of the brightest seen for many decades. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months. The previous record holder, the Great Comet of 1811, officially designated C/1811 F1, was visible to the naked eye for around 260 days.

Dr. Alan Hale

Dr. Alan Hale

Astronomer Alan Hale was born in 1958 in Tachikawa, Japan, when his father was serving in the United States Air Force. Four months later his father got transferred to Holloman Air Force Base outside Alamogordo, New Mexico. Hale served in the United States Navy from 1976 to 1983. In 1980, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Next, he joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and worked as an engineering contractor for the Deep Space Network until 1986. As a contractor, he worked in several projects involving spacecraft, including Voyager 2. After Voyager’s encounter with Uranus, he left JPL. He attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. In 1992, he earned his Ph.D. in astronomy.

Hale had spent hundreds of hours searching for comets without success. On July 23, 1995, while tracking known comets from his driveway in New Mexico he chanced on the comet co-named after him just after midnight. The comet with an apparent magnitude of 10.5 was near the globular cluster M70 in the constellation of Sagittarius. He checked and confirmed that there was no other deep-sky object near M70. Next, he consulted a directory of known comets and established that none of them was in that area of the sky he had observed. He then found the object moving relative to the background stars.

As a trained astronomer who had seen about 200 comets, Hale to register his finding sent an email to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the clearing house for astronomical discoveries operating under the auspices of Commission 6 of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). A few hours later his effort was rewarded. His new comet was officially designated C/1995 O1. His name would also be attached.

But Alan Hale was not the only observer that night.

That very night, about 400 miles (644 kilometers) away, Thomas Bopp was observing star clusters and galaxies through telescopes with friends in the desert outside Phoenix, Arizona.

Thomas Bopp in 1997 (Photo: Ron Baalke)

Thomas Bopp in 1997 (Photo: Ron Baalke)

Amateur astronomer Thomas J. Bopp was born in 1949 in Denver, Colorado. Later he relocated with his family to Youngstown, Ohio, where he graduated from Chaney High School in 1967. He attended Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, and has lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1980. He is a Life member of the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society (MVAS).

Bopp was a manager at a construction materials factory. He did not own a telescope. He too noticed some fuzzy object near M70 in the constellation of Sagittarius and pointed it out to his friend Jim Steven who owned the 70 inches telescope of Dubsoniano design he was using.

Bopp had never come across a comet. Jim looked at Bopp and said, “Tom, I think you have a comet.”

He knew he had to contact the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams in Cambridge, but he did not have the address with him. So, he drove back home to get it.

In the wee hours he managed to send a Western Union telegram to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams in Cambridge where its arrival was greeted with bemusement. Brian Marsden, the leading voice on a committee that has the last say laughed. “Nobody sends telegrams anymore,” he commented. “I mean, by the time that telegram got here, Alan Hale had already e-mailed us three times with updated coördinates.”

However, the following morning, the comet was confirmed as a new entity and designated as C/1995 O1. The discovery was announced in International Astronomical Union circular 6187.

Sometimes weird things happened with when major comets appeared. According to a  report, 39 members of a California cult claimed they were departing on a spaceship that was trailing comet Hale-Bopp and ate their last meal before ritually committing mass suicide. For Thomas Bopp, the comet portended a loss. As comet Hale-Bopp reached its most spectacular point in the sky, his brother and sister-in-law who had been out photographing the comet were killed in a late night car crash. “This has been the best week of my life. And, the worst,” he lamented.

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A Near-earth Object, Asteroid 1998 QE2, Is Now Hurtling Towards Earth


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Asteroid 1998 QE2 - 1

A near-earth object labeled Asteroid 1998 QE2, is now hurtling towards earth.

The asteroid about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size in length has the physical mass to potentially knockout life on Earth. However, we are safe as it is just flying by.

The orbit of asteroid 1998 QE2

On May 31, 2013, at 20:59 UTC (1:59 p.m. Pacific / 4:59 p.m. Eastern) this asteroid will pass within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) of Earth – about 15 times the distance to the Moon. While this may seem a great distance for the layman, in astronomical terms it is a mere stone’s throw away. This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico, discovered this asteroid on August 19, 1998. It is officially known as Asteroid 1998 QE2. It is not named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, or after that 12-decked, transatlantic-crossing flagship for the Cunard Line. The name was assigned by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. This institute assigns each newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code showing the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month.

Though this asteroid is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) or larger radar telescopes at their disposal.

Radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said: “Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features … Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”

Asteroid 1998 QE2

Asteroids come in various sizes and shapes: dog bones, bowling pins, spheroids, diamonds, muffins, potatoes, etc. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are planning an extensive campaign of observations. The two telescopes with complementary imaging capabilities will enable astronomers to study 1998 QE2 and what it looks like during its brief flyby.

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What exactly is the millennium?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“But of that day and hour no one knows,
neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father alone.”

(Matthew 24:36)

The Millenium

The accepted definition of a millennium, a period of 1,000 years, did not originate from nature or from any practical calendar.

Unlike the primary cycles of days, lunations and years, it does not correspond to any factual astronomical cycles, or the practical needs of humanity, but to social factors, the peculiarities of Christianity. In fact, the issue of the millennium reflects a Christian-centric view.

Outside the Christian world the year 2000 will actually be the year 5760 according to the Jewish calendar, 5119 in the current Maya great cycle, 5100 years elapsed in Kali Yuga according to the Hindus, 2544 according to Buddhism and 1420 according to the Moslem calendar.

The arbitrary construction of the millennium is the domain of eschatology – a part of theology, physics, philosophy, and futurology concerned with the final events of history, the ultimate destiny of humanity – commonly called the “end of the world” or “end time”.

During the period of the great Roman empire, Jesus and his initial followers fully expected the fulfilment of the apocalypse and the inception of the millennium in their lifetime. It was no Utopian dream relegated to some future unspecified time at the time of Roman oppression, social turmoil and ideological uncertainty.

Millennial thinking is deeply embedded in the apocalyptic writings of the Bible. In traditional Christianity, “the millennium” means the future reign of Jesus lasting one thousand years, following a last battle between Christ and Satan. Satan loses, and is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and Jesus wins, overseeing a Last Judgement of all the dead. Modern traditions of Christian eschatology use the term “Rapture” in two senses; as a general synonym for the final resurrection, and in the view of pre-tribulationists, where a group of people would be left behind on earth after the events mentioned in Matthew about “The Coming of the Son of Man”:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

During Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica along with Silvanus and Timothy, a doubt arose among the Thessalonians about the fate of those Christians who would die before the return of Christ. Would they miss the glorious events of Christ’s second coming and the resurrection? Paul assuaged their fears. He assured them that God would save those who had already died, as well as those still living with these words:

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

After the crucifixion of Jesus, and even now, countless groups and people have compared the events of their time to Bible prophecies, and concluded that Jesus would
be returning soon. Some even set a date for the Rapture and led their followers into the deserts, to the mountains, and into the wilderness, to await the phenomenon.

Though the consummation of the second coming and the expected biblical millennium failed to materialise over the generations, and even after every one of those predictions turned out wrong, steadfast Christians still make modern-day predictions that Jesus will be returning soon and postpone the date of the expected apocalypse they ardently believe in.

However, most mainstream Bible scholars, do not think current world affairs evidence the imminent return of Christ. Even so, we still do come across Christian groups who believe in the Rapture as the centerpiece of the second coming of Jesus – a glorious, dramatic event with Jesus appearing and literally taking the believers physically along with him up into the sky.

In recent years, the Rapture and the second coming of Christ have spawned a lucrative industry. Besides the many books written on this subject, there are thousands of self-styled television evangelists with websites, radio stations, lecture series, audio recordings, videotapes and other Paraphernalia. Many of these accouterments feature imaginative and vivid embellishments of the Bible prophecies, and usually classified properly as fiction, and not as Bible prophecy.

Among these Christians, there are several theories about the timing of the Rapture. Thus the apocalyptic millennium has transformed itself into a calendrical measurement.

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News: Woman found alive 17 days after collapse of garment factory building


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Reshma found alive in ruins 17 days after collapse of garment factory building

Reshma found alive in ruins 17 days after collapse of garment factory building

On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory building in Savar 15 miles (24 Km) to the northwest of Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh, collapsed with hundreds of garment workers employed in factories that supplied high-street shops in the west, trapped inside.

Before the fatal accident, workers had repeatedly complained that the building was cracking open, but the management simply ignored their complaints. Sol Rana, the owner of the building was arrested.

On Friday morning (May 10), officials said about 2,500 people were injured in the accident and 2,437 people were rescued. A total of 1,021 bodies have been recovered
from the debris and almost 650 identified so far and handed over to the families of the deceased. Many people are still missing.

A few hours after officials had announced the death toll as 1021, the recovery teams who had long given up any hope of finding any more survivors were shocked to hear at 15:15 local time (10:15 GMT), the voice of a woman calling for help from the debris of the second floor of the Rana Plaza. Immediately rescue workers were ordered to stop clearing the site.

The Bangladesh army has confirmed the news, naming the rescued woman as Reshma. The woman was taken to hospital and did not seem to have any significant injuries.

 

 

Koodankulam: A Court in the Supreme Contempt of its People


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P K Sundaram

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By P. K. Sundaram

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The Supreme Court’s verdict on Koodankulam rests on three hugely contested premises: the judges’ belief in the necessity of the nuclear energy for India’s progress, their faith in the country’s nuclear establishment to perform its role, and the judges’ notion of the larger public interest and the apprehensions of small sections which should make way for the country’s progress. Not only have the judges given judicial sanctity to these contestable propositions, but have also completely overlooked the Koodankulam-specific brazen violations of the government’s own norms, raised by the petitioners.

Broken justice

The Supreme Court’s judgement on Koodankulam would go in India’s history in line with the Narmada Dam verdict and other judicial pronouncement reflecting the inability of our post-independence democratic institutions to overcome the narrowly defined confines of ‘larger public interest’, ‘development/growth’ and ‘national conscience’.

Whose interests are larger?

While the petition filed by the Chennai-based environmentalist group Poovulagin Nanbargal presented specific concerns of safety hazards and violations of the government’s own norms in implementing the project, India’s growth and the assumed indispensability of nuclear energy for it is a recurring rationale in the Supreme Court’s final verdict. The judges have gone beyond the scope of the prayer and have extolled nuclear energy as essential for India’s growth, terming the ‘fears’ of people as misplaced. The judgement goes on to prescribe that ‘minor inconveniences’ must be tolerated in the larger interest of the nation.

People’s Movement is Emotional fear, Nuclear Establishment has the Expertise

The second paragraph of the judgement itself calls the people’s massive agitation in Koodankulam an “emotional reaction” to the setting up of the reactor. It almost mocks the people’s concern saying the “fears and unrest” might not have been thought of by Enrico Fermi who set up the first nuclear power plant. Since then, the judgement says, people have reacted emotionally when every new reactor is commissioned. The judgement goes on to add that the people’s concern was mooted even the constituent assembly when the Constitution was being drafted. Does this imply that nuclear energy in India should be regarded a fait accompli?

The judgement accepts the establishment’s narrative on nuclear energy in India unquestioningly.

  • The judgement extols the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) as the repository of final authority on everything nuclear and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) as a competent regulator, glossing over its dependence on the AEC for funds and human resources and its being obliged to report to the AEC whose activities it is essentially mandated to regulate.
  • The verdict also reposes complete faith in the national policy on nuclear energy and the existing framework to control and regulate all radioactivity-related activities in India.
  • Under the title ‘National Policy’ (page 9) the judges narrate the evolution of India’s 20 nuclear power stations built over last four decades producing 4780 MWs today with a rare clinical coldness, without questioning the nuclear establishment’s claims and its performances in the same period, while under the same title on page 10, it mentions that renewable sources provide “small share” of our total electricity – 15%, which is actually 6 times more than the share of nuclear energy. 
  • In its overview of the global status of nuclear energy, the rapid downward trend of the industry post-Fukushima doesn’t find a mention – France produces 74.6%, US has 104 reactors, world had 439 reactors in 2007 producing 13-14% of total energy. The reality is, nuclear power produced just 11% in In 2011 and thedownward trend is expected to continue due to larger number of reactors ageing and lesser numbers being built today.
  • It doesn’t even question the NPCIL’s claims of producing 20,000 MW by the year 2020 and 63,000 MW by 2030.
  • Transgressing the scope of the petition, the judges have mentioned that “one of the reasons for preferring nuclear energy as an alternative source of energy is that it is a clean, safe, reliable and competitive energy source which can replace a significance of the fossil fuel like coal, oil, gas etc.” The judges have not bothered to see that each of these adjectives have been questioned and have led to review of national policies, including in France where a national energy transformation law is underway.

As the questions raised in the petition involved technical problems plaguing the Koodankulam project, the Court consulted the government’s experts – officials from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Unfortunately, no independent institutionalised expertise on nuclear issues exists in India outside the confines of the Department of Atomic Energy.  This led to a situation in which the Judges have no option than to believe the same official experts against whose refusal to acknowledge the risks was the petition filed. While this made the entire proceeding lop-sided in the first place, there was still scope for the judges to look into the glaring violations and specific risks in Koodakulam which do not fall strictly under nuclear expert issues.

The crucial issues of supply of sub-standard equipments by ZiO-Podolsk, violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone stipulations and Environmental Impact Assessment norms, lack of clarity on the crucial issue of spent fuel storage, non-compliance with proper mock evacuation drill required by the AERB norms, much larger population in the vicinity than stipulated etc. have either been glossed over or have been legalized post-facto.

Court validating a political deal?

The judgement mentions India’s civil nuclear agreement with the US in 2005 and then with France and UK in 2008 and 2010, and explains them as the govt’s effort give effect to the “National Policy for development” for which “India has entered into various bilateral treaties and arrangements with countries which have considerable expertise and experience”. It is a well known fact that the nuclear deal came from the US side and the energy justification was a later concoction to justify it. The integrated energy policy of 2006 came one year after the Indo-US nuclear deal. In fact, it was the nuclear establishment in India which was the first one to get surprised with the news of Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005. The deal was essentially about the US manoeuvring internationals institutions norms of the  NSG and the IAEA to legitimise India’s nuclear weapons and ensure its entry into global international commerce. India’s compulsory purchase of the French, American and Russian reactors was a price it paid to achieve this. Former AEC Chairman Anil kakodkar himself has admitted in the past that importing foreign reactors, with an embarrassingly low liability cap,  had to do with accommodating these countries’ interests.

 Nuclear Energy and National Policy

After enthusiastically elaborating India’s national policy on nuclear energy, the judges say, “it is not for Courts to determine whether a particular policy or a particular decision taken in fulfilment of a policy, is fair” (page 13). Precisely. The petition before the court nowhere sought to discuss the rationale or desirability of the nuclear policy, if at all India has one. The petition raised concrete questions about safety norms and their violations. Then why the judges have went on to declare nuclear energy is green, clean and essential for India’s development? The judges quote an old case in Lodon to undermine that its “only duty is to expand the language of the Act in accordance with the settled rules of construction”, and hence “we cannot sit in judgment over the decision…for setting up of KKNPP in Kudankulam in view of the Indo-Russia agreement”. Fine, but what about ensuring that the inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia is made public and the liability provisions within it be made compliant to the law of the land?

After the aforementioned introductory part, the SC verdict has two parts – the first deals with safety and security of NPP, International COnventiions and Treaties, KKNPP Project, NSF and its management and transportation, DGR, Civil Liabilities, DMA, CSA and other related issues. Part II deals with environmental issues, CRZ, desalination plant, impact of radiation on eco-system, expert opinions, etc.

In part I, the verdict seeks to find out whether the project has adequate safety measures. In doing so, it starts with elaborating the Safety Codes of the AERB (in 12 full pages), without questioning its institutional autonomy or making mention of the CAG’s report on the AERB in which it strips down the myth of AERB’s independence and its efficacy. Details of India’s international obligations and its adherence with IAEA safety norms, based on the AERB’s submission, take several pages more.

IAEA’s 2008 report emphasizing tripling of electricity supply by 2050 is highlighted by the judges. The IAEA’s contested claim of nuclear energy being a low-carbon electricity is adopted unquestioningly.

The verdict reposes its complete faith in “the safety and security code of practices laid down by the AERB, the IAEA and its supports so as to allay the fears expressed from various quarters on the safety and security of KKNPP”

The judges mention PUCL vs Union of India and others case of 2004, where the court upheld that the AEC deals with a sensitive subject. The veil of secrecy remains intact in 2013 even if the civilian and military nuclear facilities are separated as per the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Safety Issues:

Reading the Supreme Court verdict’s sections on Koodankulam’s safety is not much different than reading AERB’s or NPCIL’s stated policies on nuclear safety. Elaborate claims of safety standards and practices, but very little about whether these guidelines sufficiently address the specific questions raised by the protests, even less on how efficient and democratic these procedures are.

In the section under part-II titled “KKNPP  Project” the judges have looked into site selection procedures and site-specific vulnerabilities of Koodankulam. The judges come out convinced that Koodankulam is totally safe for the reactor project – having absolutely no potential of earthquake, Tsunami or other geological disturbances. The evidences presented by the petitioners about the area being geologically unstable and having a history of earthquakes, volcanism and karst have gone completely unheard.

Much attention has been given to the questions of safely storing Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) and finding a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for KKNPP. These are generic issues plaguing nuclear reactors everywhere and globally the nuclear industry has been struggling to find the answers for several decades. Not surprisingly, there are ready-made and extremely tentative solutions: the NPCIL has agreed to find a repository to store nuclear waste and has given details of its long-term pursuits in this direction, and it has assured the court to safely story the SNF. The AERB’s code of “Management of Radioactive Waste” has been discussed at length, to be found sufficient to address the problem. Typically, Indian nuclear establishment does not acknowledge nuclear waste as waste, because it claims it will reprocess most of it for the second phase of its 3-phase  nuclear programme, to which even the judges have shown admiration. Lost of course is the fact that reprocessing leads to more harmful and long-term wastes and India’s phased nuclear program has been too far from becoming a reality. The judges note : “the experts feel that setting up of a DGR is not much of a technological challenge…but more of a socio-political issue”. The massive  disapproval of proposed waste repositories in the US and elsewhere was based on independent expert opinion is lost again. The verdict mentions a proposed DGR in the abandoned Kolar mines of Karnataka. Of course on this and other several important issues, the NPCIL retracting publicly from its position taken in affidavits filed in the SC had its own trail over last 6 months.

The judges have noted that the Koodankulam reactor has its Spent Fuel Pool inside the primary containment, with a capacity to store fuel equivalent to 7 years of full power operation of  the reactor. That the presence of SFP close to the reactor core complicated the accident in Fukushima and is a concern even today in Japan finds no mention, of course.

Fukushima never happened !

While the judges mention the post-Fukushima safety review ordered by the Prime Minister, they have failed to take into account the critiques of the whole process and the serious risks of relying on such an internal safety review without any independent supervision or assessment. On the 17 Koodankulam-specific recommendations, the court is assured by the AERB that the NPCIL will implement them satisfactorily. In the subsequent paragraphs, the verdict rhymes the nuclear establishment’s lullaby on radiation: We are exposed to radiation in our daily lives, cosmic radiation, radiation from earth’s crust, air travel, X0ray, CT-Scan, angiography, angioplasty etc etc.

In the section titled ‘Response to People’s Resistance’, the Supreme Court gives a sanitized, government version of the dialogue with people. It makes no mention of the fact that the 15-member expert committee appointed by the government did not even bother to meet the protesting people in Idinthakarai, declined from sharing essential safety-related documents with people and completely failed to address the questions raised by the movement. While this sham of a dialogue was on, the state government kept on piling false police charges, the local congress goons kept beating the protesters, the local media kept provoking against the movement leaders and none other than the PM indulged in maligning the people’s genuine struggle. The judgement quotes the government experts group’s conclusion at length and feels satisfied. It also takes no notice that the fact that the Ex-AEC Chief’s appointment as the head of expert committee constituted by the Tamil Nadu State Government subsequently reflected a seriosu conflict of interests.

Under the heading ‘Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage’, the judges in principle agree to the importance of strict liability in nuclear sector, but fail to address the Koodankulam-specific problem of opacity on liability issue. The Russian officials have been claiming they have an exemption from liability under the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA)

Discussion on Disaster Management Plan (DMP), the SC verdict elaborates about the guidelines of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on radiological emergencies and has pressed for better coordination between the NDMA, the DAE, and the state administration to ensure swift evacuation and management in case of a disaster. Much emphasis has been given on the need to spread awareness among the people about nuclear accidents, however, the brazen violation and bluffing by the NPCIL on disaster management receives no attention.

Although the Supreme Court quotes AERB’s norms on population near a reactor sites and specifically mentions that no public habitation should be there within 1.5 km radius of the reactor, it has failed to take into account the Tsunami Colony in Koodankulam where more than 2500 people reside at a distance of just 700- metres from the reactor. Also, the judges have held that the emergency preparedness plan (EPP) for KKNPP is adequate for around 24000 people in the 5 km radius called ‘sterilised zone’ while the norms stipulate not more than 20000 people. The catch here is, the even the 24000 figure used by the SC is taken from 2001 census, not the 2011 census!

The judges admit the importance of the mock-drills and off-site emergency exercises, but strangely caution that ‘such mock-drills are conducted to educate the public not to scare them away, but make them understand that the project is part of the national policy, participatory in nature, and hence we cannot remain as a nuclear-isolated nation’. This would only ensure that the nuclear establishment remains insulated from public scrutiny. The judges’ faith in the affidavit filed by the district administration on off-site emergency exercises flies in the face of reality.

In the last paragraphs of part-I, the Supreme Court judges have iterated their faith in NPCIL’s promise to fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CSR) – millions of rupees allotted for building schools, hospitals, roads and so on. From Tarapur to Rawatbhata to nearby Kalpakkam, local people have seen the realities of such promises.

The second part of the verdict, focused on environmental impacts, again starts with the need to look at environmental issues in the perspective of indispensability of nuclear power in the ‘national policy’ – nuclear energy has a unique position in the emerging economics in India, it is a viable source of energy and it is necessary to increase country’s economic growth !

The judgement in this part dwells elaborately upon the arguments presented by the both sides, but only to concur with the government that Koodankulam project does not violate environmental impact assessment guidelines as the project was notified in 1988, prior to enactment of EIA requirements in 1994! The flimsy affidavits filed by the NPCIL and the MoEF have found better audience with the Supreme Court judges. The court has elaborated upon the rather general and very lenient attempt of taking of environmental impacts in Koodankulam as per a letter written by the then Prime Minister, quotes the 1989 memorandum of the MoEF, the 1989 stipulations by the AERB for clearance, and finally with the MoEF’s letter dated 6 September 2001 in which it legalised the violations in the wake of 377.30 crores already spent on the project, feels confident that the environmental impacts have been taken care of and no violation of EIA stipulations have happened. In case of Coastal Regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance, it again validates the 1994 exemption given to the Koodankulam project.

The EIA reports for the proposed 4 other reactors in Koodankulam have used the EIA studies for Koodankulam 1 and 2 as base-line, which were prepared without a public hearing. Supreme Courts doesn’t find it worthy of objection.

Modifying the initial plan to take water from two nearby dams, construction of a desalination plant was started in 2006 in Koodankuiam. The petitioners had pointed out that the desalination unit would have its own hazardous environmental impacts and will also add to the overall pollution and hence had demanded a fresh EIA clearance. The court has said that desalination units are not listed under the 1994 EIA stipulations, so absence of such an EIA in Koodankulam is not a violation. Of course, the cumulative impacts also do not need any re-assessment then!

Similarly, the Supreme Court has brushed aside significant objections on CRZ clearance and post-factto legalization by TNPCB of the increased temperature of affluent water in Koodankulam. Under the heading ‘Sustainable Development and Impact on the Eco-System’, the verdict quotes elaborately from the Rolay Commission on Environment Pollution (UK, 1971), Stockholm Conference (1972), UNGA’s World Charter for Nature (1982), Rio Summit (1992), the UN MIllenium Declaration of 2000, UN Conference on Sustainable Development (June 2012) and so on, but only to conclude that “we have already found on facts that the KKNPP has been set up and is made functional on the touchstone of sustainable development and its impact on ecology has been taken care of following all national and international environmental principles” !

Larger Public Interests

Then the judges take it upon themselves to decide whether the claims of “smaller violations” of nearby population’s right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution should take precedence over production of energy, which is “of extreme importance for the economic growth of our country..to alleviate poverty, generate employment etc.” The judgement looks into various earlier cases of objections to ‘development’ projects on environmental and right to life grounds, and concludes that a balance between “economic scientific benefits” and “minor radiological detriments” has to be found. The pre-conceived notions of ‘development’ take over the judicial rigour and objectivity and in their hurry, the judges have done a grammatical faux pas: “Larger public interest of the community should give way to individual apprehension of violation of human rights and right to life guaranteed under Article 21″! We can over look the grammatical blunder of our judges, but what about terming the massive protests by thousands of people in Koodankulam, run for over 25 years in a thoroughly peaceful manner, as ‘individual apprehension’? Who is the ‘larger community’? Do the interests of the farmers, fishermen and poor people of India do not form the ‘larger public interest’?

The judges have gone ahead to claim that apprehensions of far reaching consequences of radioactive effects has “no basis”! The say: “Nobody on the earth can predict what would happen in future and to a larger extent we have to leave it to the destiny….Apprehension is something we anticipate with anxiety or fear, a fearful anticipation, which may vary from person to person.” The Court goes by the “expert opinions” of MoEF, EAC, TNPCB, Report of IOM, Report of Engineers India Limited, NEERI’s EIA etc and concludes that all expert bodies are unanimous that in their opinion KKNPP has fully satisfied all safety norms.

Justice Dipak Misra in his prologue emphasizes the need to “march ahead with life allaying all apprehensions with a scientific mindset accepting the nature’s unpredictability to survive on the planet earth on the bedrock of the doctrine – survival of the fittest”. He again goes on to describe how elaborate the DAE’s guidelines on nuclear safety are, and concludes that ‘all possible measures have been taken to avoid any kind of calamity’. He goes on to quote extensively from the IAEA’s 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent FUel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management 1997, to which India is not even a signatory, to appreciate the “world wide concern for public safety”. He again quotes in extenso from the AERB’s post-Fukushima Safety Review of KKNPP. However, an unquestioned faith in the nuclear establishment about adequacy of these recommendations and the establishment’s sincerity to implement leads to plain judicial reassurances.

Justice Misra looks into proportionality of safety vis-a-vis the necessity of nuclear energy development. While accepting the need for ensuring safety for present and future generations, he holds that ‘generation of nuclear energy is a necessity in a progressive modern state’ and ‘promotion of development and protection of the environment have to be harmonized’. Besides other cases, Justice Misra cites the Narmada case and quotes that “In a democracy, welfare of the people at large, and not merely of a small section of the society, has tobe the concern of a responsible Government.”

In the final judicial directions, the judges have asked the NPCIL to file a report before the Supreme Court before the final commissioning, certifying that each and every aspect of safety including environmental impacts, have been taken care of. For the periodical safety maintenance and reviews, safety of the spent nuclear fuel during transport, radioactive discharge to the atmosphere, compliance with the 17 post-Fukushima recommendations, and adherence to the NDMA guidelines, the court has directed the NPCIL, AERB, MoEF, TNPCB and other concerned bodies ensure strict compliance, but has essentially reposed faith in their efficacy and sincerity. The Supreme Court has ordered that a Deep Geological Repository should be set up at the earliest so that SNF can be transported from the nuclear plant to the DGR.

Withdraw Criminal Cases Against Protesters: The Supreme Court has directed to withdraw al criminal cases filed against the agitators in Koodankulam and to restore normalcy and peace.

The Supreme Court’s verdict rests on three major premises: the judges’ belief in the necessity of the nuclear energy for India’s progress, their faith in the country’s nuclear establishment to perform this role, and the judges’ notion of the larger public interest and the apprehensions of small sections which should make way for the country’s progress. All three of these are immensely contested propositions. But not only have the judges given judicial sanctity to these contestable claims, but have also completely overlooked the Koodankulam-specific brazen violations of the government’s own norms, raised by the petitioners.

In retrospect, the struggling people of India would find approaching to the Supreme Court in such matters pointless, and counter-productive, as the courts themselves are part of the system which has failed to address the widening gap between the aspirations and lives of the deprived masses and the mainstream notions of ‘larger public interest’. Prayers before the judiciary on such matters ends up legitimising the same ‘experts’ and disastrous notions of progress that the people have been fighting against.

DOCUMENTS:

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Re-posted from DiaNuke.org

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And the band played Waltzing Matilda


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Judith Baxter

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By Judith Baxter

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Remember Anzac

April 25th is a solemn day of remembrance here in NZ and in Australia.  It marks the sacrifices made by members of ANZAC (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)  when they joined  to fight alongside Britain in the first World War.

ANZAC day Dawn Service, State war memorial, Kings Park Western Australia (2009) - Photograph by Gnangarra...commons.wikimedia.org

ANZAC day Dawn Service, State war memorial, Kings Park Western Australia (2009). (Photograph by Gnangarra…commons.wikimedia.org)

Young men flocked to join up having no earthly idea of what they were getting themselves into, but filled with a fervour “For King and Country.”

Photograph of painting: "Anzac, the landing 1915 by George Lambert (1873-1930), 1920–22. The painting depicts the Australian soldiers of the covering force (3rd Infantry Brigade) climbing the seaward slope of Plugge's Plateau which overlooks the northern end of  Anzac Cove. The view is to the north, towards the main range. The yellow pinnacle is "The Sphinx" and beyond is Walker's Ridge which leads to Russell's Top. The white bag that each soldier is carrying contains two days of rations which were issued specially for the landing.

Photograph of painting: “Anzac, the landing 1915 by George Lambert (1873-1930), 1920–22. The painting depicts the Australian soldiers of the covering force (3rd Infantry Brigade) climbing the seaward slope of Plugge’s Plateau which overlooks the northern end of Anzac Cove. The view is to the north, towards the main range. The yellow pinnacle is “The Sphinx” and beyond is Walker’s Ridge which leads to Russell’s Top. The white bag that each soldier is carrying contains two days of rations which were issued specially for the landing.

The first deployment of the ANZACS  was at the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli.  The information the command  received about the terrain and an under estimation of the Turkish forces led to a disaster.  Nine months later the Allies withdrew leaving behind 46,000 dead.

“They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them.”
From Ode of Remembrance, taken from Laurence Binyon’s
For the Fallen” first published in 1914.

This day is also commemorated in Turkey at Gallipoli where the cove has been renamed ANZAC Cove.  Many ex-servicemen and their families travel to Turkey each year.

And Waltzing Matilda?  This was the song played as the troops sailed out from Sydney, Australia at the start of that fateful enterprise.  Click here to hear John Williams singing “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”.

I have written in more detail on this day both in 2011 and 2012.  It is a sad commentary on the people of the world that even after this “War to End All Wars” we still send our young men and women out to be slaughtered by ‘the enemy’.

Last post being sounded at North Beach, Gallipoli. Photo Mike Bowers, Sydney Morning Herald

Last post being sounded at North Beach, Gallipoli. (Photo Mike Bowers, Sydney Morning Herald)

And now there are no more survivors from Gallipoli.
RIP all the fallen and

Alec Campbell
Last Gallipoli survivor from Australia
(died May 2002 aged 103)

Alfred Douglas Dibley
Last Gallipoli survivor from New Zealand
(died 18 December 1997 aged 101)

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Re-posted from I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

Iran: 2013 Sistan and Baluchestan Earthquake (Magnitude 7.5). Reverberations in New Dehli, India


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Yesterday, April 16, 2013, at 15:14 p.m. IRDT (UTC+4:30), an earthquake struck the mountainous region between the cities of Khash and Saravan in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran, 83 km east of Khash, close to the border with Pakistan. It lasted about 25 seconds. The Iranian Seismological Center listed the earthquake as 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Pakistanis evacuating nearby buildings following tremors in Karachi on April 16, 2013. (Photo: ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistanis evacuating nearby buildings following tremors in Karachi on April 16, 2013. (Photo: ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The quake was felt throughout much of eastern Iran and southern Pakistan, and as far away as Riyadh, Manama, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, some areas in the neighboring state of Pakistan, and in New Delhi, India. The tremors destroyed many buildings in Iran. People evacuated buildings in far away places such as Delhi, India, and on the Arabian Peninsula. Pakistani news channels showed buildings shaking in the southern city of Karachi. People in panic evacuated their offices and homes.

This earthquake closely follows the 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the southwest coast of Iran near the port city of city of Bushehr on April 9, 2013. Saravan is about 600 miles from Bushehr, on the south-eastern border of Iran near Pakistan.

Overview map of the Arabian tectonic plate boundaries with the Eurasian, African and Indian plates (U.S. Geological Survey)

Overview map of the Arabian tectonic plate boundaries with the Eurasian, African and Indian plates (U.S. Geological Survey)

Iran is well-known for its long history of disastrous earthquake activities. Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, crossed by several major fault lines that cover almost 90% of the country. The Iranian plateau is subject to most types of tectonic activity, including active folding, faulting and volcanic eruptions. Hence, earthquakes in Iran occur often and are destructive.

Yesterday’s earthquake was probably the strongest earthquake in Iran within the last 40 years, and possibly the strongest in the last half-century, equal in magnitude to the one that shook Tabas in 1978 killing 15,000.

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