HC stays Odisha’s IOCL tax recovery notice

first_imgThe Orissa High Court on Thursday ordered to “keep in abeyance” a demand notice of VAT recovery issued by the Odisha government in February this year asking Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to deposit a tax of ₹1485.98 crore for the sale of finished products from its Paradip Refinery project, which was commissioned in November 2015. A Division Bench comprising Justices Indrajit Mahanti and Biswajit Mohanty while adjudicating over a petition filed by IOCL also ordered the high-level working group, formed under the chairmanship of Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, to look into the concerns of raised by the government of Odisha and the IOCL within two months. Odisha after unilaterally striking down a vital clause from the 2004-MoU signed with the IOCL had withdrawn the mutually-agreed tax incentive to IOCL and placed the tax recovery notice on the corporation. The clause related to grant of interest free loan to Odisha equivalent to the tax payable to the State on the finished products of the refinery during its first 11 years of commercial production.last_img read more

Drunk man survives after biting and killing venomous snake

first_imgA heavily drunk man bit a snake at his farm here and killed the reptile. Doctors who treated the man said the snake was a venomous one and he was lucky to have survived.The incident happened on Friday at Pacher village in Sabalpur tehsil, some 40 kilometres from here, they added.Doctor Raghvendra Yadav of the district hospital told PTI that Jalim Singh Kushwaha (34), who was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state, was discharged on Saturday after treatment.Villagers said that Mr. Kushwaha saw a black-coloured snake at his farm and, in his stupor, bit the snake. It died a little while later, they added.He lost consciousnessDr. Yadav added that Mr. Kushwaha might have panicked and lost consciousness after he realised that he had bit a snake.“It was venomous and if it had retaliated or if any portion of its venom had entered his bloodtsream, it could have been fatal for Kushwaha,” Dr. Yadav said.last_img read more

Warli artist Padmashree Jivya Soma Mashe dies

first_imgPalghar: Noted artist Jivya Soma Mashe, who popularised the Warli tribal art form, died here after a prolonged illness, an official said on Tuesday. He was 84. Mashe died at his home in Dahanu taluka late last night, according to an official in the Palghar district administration.He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2011 for his contribution towards Warli painting. He had got the National Award for the Tribal Art in 1976. He is survived by two sons, also Warli artists, and a daughter. He was accorded a state funeral.Mashe was known for his creative reinvention of an art form that was disappearing.He significantly contributed to the culture and development of the Warlis, a tribe living predominantly in the mountainous and coastal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. His paintings brought alive glimpses of the tribal vision of nature and culture in equilibrium, and for highlighting the contemporary relevance of local forms of knowledge. Through his works, the Warli art form emerged from its cocooned world to draw global fame and attention. Mashe received international recognition for his work and participated in several exhibitions and festivals across the world.last_img read more

What is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016?

first_imgIn recent weeks, Assam has seen many protests over the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.The Bill has been termed “Anti-Assam” by BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad, and similarly criticised by other regional parties.And, earlier this month, when the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Bill visited Assam and Meghalaya to hear from the locals, it did so amid protest voices which said the move would make Assam a “dumping ground for Hindu Bangladeshis”.What does the Bill aim for?With The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the government plans to change the definition of illegal migrants. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction. However, the Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas who also face persecution in Pakistan.The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.When did this idea gain stream?The BJP had promised to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in the neighbouring countries during the 2014 General Election. In the party’s election manifesto, the BJP had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them.Who are illegal immigrants?According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, an illegal immigrant is one who enters India without a valid passport or with forged documents. Or, a person who stays beyond the visa permit.Why and who all are opposing the Bill in Assam?BJP’s coalition partner Assam Gana Parishad has threatened to cut ties with the party if the Bill is passed. It considers the Bill to work against the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people of the State. NGOs such as The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and students’ organisation All Assam Students’ Union also have come forward opposing the Bill.All Opposition parties, including the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front, have opposed the idea of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion. It is also argued that the Bill, if made into an Act, will nullify the updated National Registration of Citizenship (NRC). The process of updating the NRC is currently underway in Assam.What is NRC?The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is meant to identify a bona fide citizen. In other words, by the order of the Supreme Court of India, NRC is being currently updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals who might have entered the State illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971. The date was decided in the 1985 Assam Accord, which was signed between the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the AASU. The NRC was first published after the 1951 Census in the independent India when parts of Assam went to the East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.The first draft of the updated list was concluded by December 31, 2017. The second draft is yet to be released.How will the Bill affect the updated NRC list?While Bill is designed to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees persecuted in neighbouring countries, NRC does not distinguish migrants on the basis of religion. It will consider deporting anyone who has entered the State illegally post-March 24, 1971, irrespective of their religion. Currently there are six detention camps for illegal migrants in Assam but it’s still not clear how long the people will be detained in these camps. The process of deportation or duration of detention is not clear as it has not been stated by the government. But if the Bill becomes an Act, the non-Muslims need not go through any such process, meaning this will be clearly discriminating against Muslims identified as undocumented immigrants.Other than Assam, what are the States likely to be affected?States sharing borders with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are likely to be affected.The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, an ally of the BJP, has opposed the Bill. Calling the bill “dangerous,” the Meghalaya government said that they don’t agree with the idea of non-Muslims acquiring citizenship after six years of living in the country.What’s the status of the Bill now?The Bill after been discussed in the Lok Sabha, was referred to a joint select committee in August 2016. The members of the Parliamentary Committee visited Barak Valley, the Bengali-majority area of Assam, and Meghalaya to discuss it with various organisations. They reportedly spoke to about 200 organisations.last_img read more

Missing BJP supporter found dead in Purulia

first_imgWithin two weeks of the panchayat elections, post-poll violence started afresh in the State’s Jangalmahal region with the murder of an 18-year-old BJP supporter in Purulia district.The body of BJP supporter Trilochan Mahato, who had gone missing on Tuesday evening, was found hanging from a tree in the Balarampur area of the district with a note that he has been punished for being associated with the BJP. A similar statement was scribbled on the T-shirt he was wearing.Family members of the deceased said he went missing from the local market. His brother said that Mahato had called saying that he had been abducted after which the line went dead.“We are surprised and heartbroken at the brutal murder of Trilochan Mahato and condemn it. We demand a thorough investigation,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said, accusing the supporters of the ruling TMC of being behind the act.Trinamool Congress Minister and local MLA Shantiram Mahato said the allegations are baseless. “I feel the incident is the result of a rivalry between BJP factions,” he said.Purulia SP Joy Biswas said that a murder case has been filed and preliminary investigations suggest there was “some personal enmity or grudge”. In the nearby district of Jhargram late on Tuesday evening, miscreants allegedly attacked the BJP office in ward number 14. Party spokesman Sayantan Basu said State general secretary Subrata Chaterjee and others were inside the party office when it was attacked. A number of vehicles were vandalised and a few party supporters sustained injuries, he said. Later a large contingent of police arrived to bring the situation under control.The BJP has done well in Jhargram and Purulia districts in the recently-held panachayat polls winning 40% and 33% seats respectively.last_img read more

‘Sacrilege report in next session’

first_imgPunjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said that the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report on the sacrilege cases in the State will be tabled in the next session of the Assembly and legal action will be taken against all those found guilty by it.Capt. Amarinder said that the government had so far received the first part of the report, which was under legal scrutiny. He said the remaining parts are expected soon and once received, the complete report would be tabled, along with the action taken report, in the ensuing session of the Vidhan Sabha, according to an official statement.The Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission had submitted the first part of his report, pertaining to Bargari sacrilege incident and the Behbal Kalan firing incident, along with some other important cases, to the Chief Minister on June 30.SAD panel reportThe commission was set up in April 2017 by the Chief Minister to investigate the various incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts, after rejecting as “inconclusive” the findings of the Zora Singh Commission set up by the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government.last_img read more

Cong. leaders up the ante in Haryana, hold rallies

first_imgWith an eye on the Assembly elections next year in Haryana, the leaders of the faction-ridden Congress are busy holding rallies. On Sunday former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda launched the sixth phase of his ‘Jan Kranti Yatra’ from Pehowa in Kurukshtra, while senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed a ‘Badlaav rally’ at Samalkha in Panipat. Hitting out at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr. Hooda said that the BJP government was so baffled with the public support to his ‘Jan Kranti Yatras’ that they had started lodging false and fabricated cases against him. “These tactics of lodging false cases will not deter me from raising issues of the people of Haryana. The government wants to silence my voice by lodging fabricated cases against me, but I will keep raising issues with all my might,” said Mr. Hooda.“BJP has promised ‘achche din’ for the people of Haryana but they have become a nightmare for the people. The people will vote decisively against the BJP and teach them a lesson they will not forget. They will never again dare to seek votes by making false promises,” he said.In Panipat’s Samlakha, Randeep Singh Surjewala attacked the BJP government at the Centre, saying that the poor would not pardon the Modi government as it was being run like a profiteering company rather than an elected government. “Common man is being fleeced to fill up the coffers of the government,” he said at the ‘Badlav rally’.Terming the BJP governments both in the State and at the Centre anti-farmer, Mr. Surjewala said that the BJP has betrayed farmers by not honouring its pre-poll promises of providing 50% on their farm production costs for their produces. Stressing for farmers’ loan waiver, Mr. Surjewala asked the logic for writing off huge amount of loans for a few select industrialists, but not being bothered about the distressed farmers. “The BJP government imposed huge taxes on farmers, thereby increasing farm costs. Fertilisers, pesticides and farm implements earlier attracted 0% tax in most States but under the GST, the BJP government has imposed huge taxes,” he alleged.last_img read more

HC awards ₹90 lakh compensation to minor rape victim, parents

first_imgThe Punjab and Haryana High Court has awarded a compensation of ₹90 lakh to a minor rape victim and her parents in Punjab’s Faridkot.The court in its order on August 31 had directed the Faridkot Collector to attach the agricultural as well as urban properties of both Nishan Singh, who is serving life imprisonment for rape, and his mother Navjot Kaur, and proceed to recover from sale proceeds thereof the amount of compensation.Faridkot Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Parashar on Wednesday told The Hindu: “We will follow the order of High Court in true letter and spirit. We will initiate necessary action and comply with the order without any delay.” The Bench of Justice A.B. Chaudhari and Justice Inderjit Singh, while pronouncing the order, had observed: “We are aghast to see how a middle class family of the complainant with two daughters was torn into due to rich landholder Nishan Singh and his mother’s rowdy and cruel conduct.”In September 2012, Nishan Singh along with his companions had barged into the house of the 15-year-old victim armed with pistol and iron rods. They dragged the victim’s father and assaulted him with rods causing several injuries. The victim was abducted and her sister and mother were also beaten. The victim was rescued from Goa a month later.The court in its order said Nishan Singh and Navjot Kaur shall pay the total compensation of ₹90 lakh, of which ₹50 lakh should be paid to the victim and ₹20 lakh each to her parents.last_img read more

Maharashtra cautions U.P. on labour

first_imgThe Maharashtra government has urged its counterpart in Uttar Pradesh to keep a check on influx of labour with criminal background into the State. Maharashtra has about 4-5 lakh mathadi (head loaders) organised under 34 welfare boards, which have lately pointed to workers from U.P. with a criminal background, senior officials said. Workers from Bihar and U.P. had come under attack in Mumbai following clashes between workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Samajwadi Party at Dadar in 2008. The issue of labourers with a criminal background has become the subject of a debate in Maharashtra. Industries, Energy and Labour department. Separately, the workers’ unions too have been conducting drives to check criminal background of the workers. A recent letter sent by the State labour department to the Superintendent of Police, Jaunpur district, U.P., has mentioned four workers against who Mathadi Board of Maharashtra has pointed to registered criminal cases in U.P.. The department has urged U.P. Government and Jaunpur SP to conduct an enquiry and take action. “A complaint was brought to our notice that four Mathadi workers on Mathadi Board of Maharashtra have registered criminal cases against them. We have requested action against them and asked the U.P. police to investigate,” said Shrikant Pulkundwar, Deputy Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. A factual report has been asked to be submitted to the Government of Maharashtra as early as possible, officials said. “A general advisory has also been sent to them,” said an official of the state Government. The migrant workers usually work as labour, loading unloading stacking, carrying, weighing goods in hundreds of vegetable and agricultural committees across the State. The work and workers are governed by the Maharashtra Mathadi Hamal and other Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Act, 1969. Apart from monthly wages from the board along with social security like PF, gratuity, medical benefits, bonus, and leave wages, the workers in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, and Pune are allowed houses under a special housing scheme.Mathadi leader and leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Shashikant Shinde said a drive is being undertaken to check the criminal background of the workers in general and is not region-specific so far. “Earlier, there was case of a migrant worker who had a criminal background and it was brought to our notice. A general drive is conducted by Mathadi unions to check workers’ background,” said Mr. Shinde.last_img read more

Maharashtra armed with triple-drug therapy to fight elephantiasis

first_imgMaharashtra is all set to roll out the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended triple-drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis to speed up elimination of the disease. A pilot project was rolled out in Nagpur on Sunday. While Nagpur is one of the six high-prevalence areas, the therapy may be rolled out in other areas in future.Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease. According to the WHO, infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. The infection is usually acquired in childhood, causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.Dr. Mahendra Jagtap, the State’s entomologist, said the prevalence is down to six districts, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Nagpur, Bhandara, and Thane, from 17 a few years earlier. “We inaugurated the initiative on Friday. The three-drug combination will make a lot of difference,” said Dr. Jagtap. Marathi actor Swapnil Joshi will be the brand ambassador for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis.The State currently has a two-drug regimen consisting of diethylcarbamazine citrate and albendazole. The drugs are distributed in endemic areas through a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) exercise,which is carried out once a year. In the triple-drug regimen, one more drug called ivermectin will be added.During the MDA in Nagpur on Sunday, people were administered the three-drug combination while other areas got the two drugs. “We managed to cover nearly 85% population in the endemic areas. If people have these drugs, the disease can be prevented,” said Dr. Japtap. However, he said, it is a challenge to convince people to take them because very few understand the concept of prevention. Everyone in the community except for pregnant women, children below one year and chronically ill patients were given the drugs.Experts say the MDAs are better for prevention as those living in filariasis-endemic areas may be carrying the infection without symptoms. The drugs, which are safe to be taken for a non-infected person as well, kill the microfilariae (minute larvae) and clear intestinal worms if any. “We are trying to create as much awareness as possible,” said Dr. Japtap.last_img read more

Two ex-dons wait for Cong. ticket in Bihar

first_imgWith the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the suspense over the candidature of two don-turned-politicians in Bihar — Anant Singh and Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav — from the Congress party continues.Both the leaders recently claimed that they would contest the general election from Munger and Madhepura constituencies respectively, on Congress tickets. The State unit of the Congress, however, has expressed “ignorance” about any such development.Mega roadshowMr. Anant Singh, 51, a three-time MLA from Mokama constituency against whom 16 criminal cases are pending, had organised a mega roadshow on January 18 from Barh to Munger, where he reached in a cavalcade of over 500 cars and SUVs, and declared that he would contest the parliamentary polls from Munger on a Congress ticket. The former don is also known as “Chhote Sarkar” in his area of influence between Barh and Munger.He won the Assembly elections in 2005 and 2010 on Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) ticket, but quit the party when it joined hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2014. He won the 2015 Assembly election as an Independent candidate despite being in jail in connection with an abduction-murder case. He is currently out on bail.“Yes, I have had talks with the Congress leaders in Delhi and I will contest the poll on a Congress ticket. Even if I am denied the ticket, options to contest as an Independent candidate are open for me,” he said during the roadshow. The posters and billboards adorning the 130-km-long route of his roadshow carried photographs of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, imprisoned RJD chief Lalu Prasad and other grand alliance leaders.Missing from the posters was the photograph of the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and Mr. Lalu Prasad’s younger son, Tejashwi Yadav, who had earlier ruled out Mr. Anant Singh’s entry into the RJD. “We cannot have bad elements like Anant Singh in our party,” he had said.Speaking to The Hindu, senior State Congress leader and party’s Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Singh said: “If an MLA or MP wants to come to the Congress accepting the party’s ideology and principles and has faith in the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, we will welcome him.” When asked about Mr. Anant Singh’s criminal profile, he said: “Why raise finger at the Congress when Anant Singh has twice been elected on JD(U) ticket and his brother has long been an RJD leader?”State Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha and party spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra claimed to be unaware about any such development. “It may be going on at the level of the central party leadership,” Mr. Mishra told The Hindu.RJD’s oppositionRumours are also rife about expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav, who is named in 24 criminal cases, contesting the upcoming LS polls as a Congress candidate from Madhepura seat. His wife Ranjeet Ranjan is a Congress MP from neighbouring Supaul constituency. Mr.Pappu Yadav had recently said that he was in touch with central Congress leadership in Delhi. However, sources said, the biggest obstacle in his entry into the Congress is its alliance partner RJD. “Lalu Prasad and his family members don’t want Pappu Yadav in the grand alliance,” a source said.last_img read more

ScienceShot: More Olives in a Warming World

first_imgOlive growers might be some of the few farmers to see increased yields and profits in a warmer world, a new study suggests. Using a regional climate model, researchers looked at how a rise in global average temperature of 1.8°C (the temperature change expected between the 1960s and the 2040s) might affect the growth of olive trees (Olea europaea) and the olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), one of the crop’s major pests. In the Mediterranean Basin, where 97% of the world’s olive crop is grown (much of it to produce olive oil), expected climate change will cause yields across the region to grow by 4.1% and net profits to grow by 9.6%, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the region’s olive crop will improve overall, some areas will see profits (expressed in euros per hectare on this map) drop substantially, the researchers estimate. In North Africa, where yields are now low, estimated profits will rise more than 41%, but in the Middle East, along the eastern portions of the Mediterranean, profits will decline an average of 7.2%. How increased warmth affects the olive fruit fly will have the biggest effect on profits, the team notes: Because the olive tree withstands heat better than its major pest does, some areas now infested with the olive fruit fly will become unsuitable for the insect in coming years.See more ScienceShots.(Linked map credit: Luigi Ponti)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Data check: Toward a more user-friendly census

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C.—Jo Runjajic’s job at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is to improve the country’s next census in 2016. For any country, a better head count would result in better data for the public institutions, private businesses, and researchers that rely on the information. But those improvements won’t happen, she believes, until governments abandon their traditional way of thinking about how to collect data and adapt to today’s digital realities.“We need to think first about the respondents, rather than what is easiest for us,” said Runjajic, assistant director of census operations at ABS, in a talk here at a recent international conference on census methods sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. agency is hoping to use digital platforms in 2020 to collect the data and also reduce the number of fieldworkers needed to track down those who fail to fill out the census questionnaire the first time around. But Runjajic thinks that governments around the world will need to become more agile and tech-savvy if they hope to lower costs and achieve a more accurate census.In a follow-up conversation after returning to Canberra, Runjajic explained what she meant. The biggest expense in conducting a census is tracking down those who have ignored the government’s first invitation to fill out a census questionnaire. So increasing the pool of self-responders can save a ton of money.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)One obvious way to reach people, she says, is through the Internet. Many countries have added an online option to their periodic census in hopes of both saving paper and reducing the number of fieldworkers needed to track down the laggards. But deciding to go digital is only the first step, she says. Census officials also have to think about what people expect—and how they behave—when they go online.For example, as part of the 2006 and 2001 Australian censuses, ABS gave out a website address and “told people to use their personal computers to find us,” she says. “But we learned that people don’t want to go to a URL. Instead, they would type in search terms on Google,” she says.Unfortunately, many of those search terms took people to the wrong site. “They might find a site for people complaining about the census” or something else, Runjajic says. The lesson: “We need to figure out how they are likely to be communicating in the future, and tailor our approach to those habits.”Using that information is also critical in any attempt to preregister people for an upcoming census. Signing up lots of people in advance would greatly reduce the amount of time and money needed to build the master list of bona fide addresses needed to conduct a census. (A census is actually a survey of households, each attached to a particular address or location. But a significant percentage of those addresses turn out to be bogus, vacant, or places of business rather than dwellings.)Runjajic leads an informal group of census officials from six English-speaking countries—Canada, the United States, England, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia—who have identified preregistration as one especially promising approach to improving their next headcount. At the conference, Runjajic demonstrated an ABS pilot project that features an augmented reality app called viewa and a government-issued postcard. Scanning the postcard with a smart phone or tablet takes people to the ABS website, where they can register for the 2016 census and learn more about the agency.Extensive preregistration would give ABS a huge leg up on preparing its master address lists for 2016, she says. “In the past, we’d mail out material with information on how to find us,” she says. “That required a lot of paper, and also made us dependent on the postal service, which is not always reliable.” People also liked the idea of registering online and avoiding a knock on the door, she says.The app created an unexpected problem, however: In an online world that fosters a sense of immediacy, people didn’t want to wait until 2016 to fill out the census. “ ‘Why can’t I do it right now?’ ” Runjajic recalls a typical reaction. “They want their online interactions to be more convenient, and we were telling them that they had to wait until 2016. That didn’t make any sense to them.”ABS officials are hoping that preregistration will help them verify 80% of the addresses in their master list before launching the 2016 census. That will allow them to use e-mail to invite people to fill out the census rather than having to send out an army of enumerators to drop off the material. The agency hopes that and other changes will reduce per-household costs from $13 in 2011 to $9 in 2016.Preregistration for the census is one element in a broader campaign to encourage Australians to use one website, myGov, for all their government interactions, including voting and paying their taxes. But for that campaign to succeed, she says, “the public needs to trust the government, and the government needs to trust the people.” Only then, she says, can the government devise and implement a system that residents will find seamless and satisfying.Although nobody can be certain how people’s online behavior will evolve over time, Runjajic thinks that governments can do a much better job of identifying trends and using them to improve services. “It’s not really about predicting the future,” she says. “It’s more a question of observing what’s already starting to happen. Because what the early adapters are doing today will eventually become mainstream. And that’s where we need to be.”last_img read more

HCL 5th Among Top 10 Tech Firms That Received H1-B Certifications In US

first_imgAt a time when the US move to limit H1-B visas has left major tech companies perturbed as it will seriously affect their ability to get and retain talented staff, Indian company HCL has secured 5,085 foreign labour certification for the H-1B work visas. Read it at Economic Times Related Itemslast_img

No Competition Here

first_imgChina and India are Asian neighbors, rivals and emerging powers. When it comes to organizing major international sporting events, though, there is no comparison.While China announced itself as a global leader with the spectacular and grandiose Beijing Olympics in 2008, India endured international embarrassment with the chaotic, last-minute preparations for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.India’s predicament illustrates how high China set the bar and how major sports extravaganzas can make or break a country’s image and reputation. It also serves as a cautionary tale for taking big events to countries that may not yet be ready to meet the huge organizational challenge. “Both China and India cried (out) for international recognition and respect,” said Xu Gouqi, a professor at the University of Hong Kong and author of Olympic Dreams: China and Sports. “Both tried to use sports events as coming-out parties. Both approached the sports events as political tools.“But economically and socially, India was at a disadvantage compared to Beijing’s games.”The push to take the biggest sports events to new countries and territories — not just the usual powerful, developed nations — has been growing in recent years. It’s no coincidence that China hosted the Summer Olympics, or that South Africa just hosted the World Cup in Africa for the first time, or that Brazil will welcome both events in 2014 and 2016.“It’s really important that countries which have not traditionally staged major sporting events should be encouraged to do so, and you have to recognize that there are going to be challenges if you want to truly globalize sport,” said Sebastian Coe, the former middle-distance running great who heads the organizing committee for the 2012 London Olympics.Indeed, some countries are better cut out for the task than others.China used the Olympics as a global platform to introduce itself as a rising, modern power — and largely succeeded in dazzling the world. Chinese leaders spared no expense, spending a staggering $40 billion — much of it on new infrastructure, subways and ultramodern venues such as the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube — to create the largest, costliest games in Olympic history. Despite controversies over human rights and press freedom, the games were widely hailed as superbly organized.The result was an immense boost of national pride for China’s 1.3 billion citizens, as the country basked in a new image internationally. Transforming itself from poverty to relative prosperity within three decades, China was finally able to showcase its achievements before a televised audience of billions.“The regime’s political legitimacy seemed to be boosted substantially with the games and China as a nation won a substantial level of recognition, respect and even admiration from the rest of the world,” Xu said. “In short, the world was shocked and awed by the Beijing Games.”At the heart of China’s success was the reality that Beijing Games were a state-run national priority with unlimited financial resources and workers. At one point, the Chinese were so far ahead in building the venues that the IOC asked them to slow down.Contrast that with the situation in populous, poor and democratic India, where preparations for the Commonwealth Games — an Olympic-style event featuring around 7,000 athletes from more than 70 countries and territories — went down to the wire ahead of the opening ceremony.The games teetered on the verge of cancellation when officials complained the athletes’ village was filthy and uninhabitable, a footbridge leading to the main stadium collapsed and part of the roof at the weightlifting venue fell in. Several high-profile athletes pulled out due to health and safety concerns.A colorful opening ceremony featuring gigantic drums, classical singers and dancers and a Bollywood theme song lifted some of the gloom, but problems persisted on the first day of competition. There were paltry crowds at most events, the weigh-in scales at boxing gave faulty readings and worries over dengue fever escalated after a 30-year-old Indian lawn bowls team official was admitted to a hospital over the weekend with the mosquito-borne disease.The messy buildup and rocky start have underlined the risks of organizing such events in developing countries.International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said that even with the push to make sports accessible to everyone on the planet, his first concern is finding suitable conditions for athletes.“The main purpose and overriding purpose of the Olympic Games is to offer the athletes a good experience,” Rogge told The Associated Press. “We go for quality first. If quality means you have to go to a more developed country, let it be so. Under no circumstances would I agree to go to a country at the expense of the welfare of the athletes.”India’s organizational problems have been blamed on several factors, including corruption, mismanagement and shoddy construction. The chaos dealt a blow to the country’s plans of bidding for the 2020 Olympics. Senior Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said India’s Olympic hopes had been put back “by at least a decade,” while Rogge urged patience.“We had doomsday scenarios in Athens (for the 2004 Summer Games), and these were absolutely very good games,” he said. “The Greeks were able to pull out a very good effort. They were very, very good games at the last moment.”The contrast between Beijing and New Delhi can also be traced to the sharply different sporting cultures in the two countries. China has become a global sports power, topping the gold medal tally in Beijing with 51 and winning 100 total medals — the result of a highly organized state program to select and train athletes and target medals. India has won only 7 Olympic medals ever, including its first individual gold in Beijing in shooting.Cricket is the national sport in India but does not feature in the Commonwealth Games or Olympics. Support for the home team and medal-winning performances by its athletes are considered crucial to an event’s success. That was underlined by the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where Canada led the gold medal count as Canadian fans brought a carnival atmosphere to the streets.London Olympic organizers say they hope to replicate Vancouver’s party mood in 2012, but are quick to stress they are not trying to outdo Beijing. Those games, Coe repeatedly points out, were held on a grander scale than any other.“We will never see a games like Beijing again,” Coe said earlier this year. “That’s not typical of the way games are going to be delivered.” — AP   Related Itemslast_img read more