There was a burst of crackers downstairs, and thinking they were gunshots I ran to the window. It was my rich neighbbour letting lose fireworks round his fancy Mercedes, “What’s the occasion?” I asked.

“I’m taking out the car today!” he said gleefully, sitting behind his smartly dressed chauffer.

“I thought you use it everyday?” I asked.

“Not since the petrol hike!” he said sadly, “But today our beloved government reduced the price by two rupees, fifty paise! Come down, come down, I am distributing peddas and we will have a grand party in the evening!”

I went down, and saw him putting the wheels back in his car, “You took off the tires?” I asked surprised.

“After the petrol hike, didn’t want to be tempted!” he said, pulling out a gold-leaf handkerchief and wiping a dribble of sweat that ran down his chin. “So, I started taking a bus and going to work!”

“Bus!” I shouted, “You took a bus, like an ordinary man?”

“Why not?” he asked, “If others are suffering, why shouldn’t I suffer with them?”

“It must have been a harrowing experience!” I said, “All the people crowding round you, sweaty and..”

“There were no people!” said my rich neighbor, “Except the driver and myself. There it is! That’s the bus I bought for myself, when the petrol hike took place, I enjoyed being one with my countrymen!”

“It looks fully airconditioned!” I said.

“It’s got it’s own toilet, dressing room, and even a conference room!” said my neighbor sincerely, “And let me tell you I used it throughout the petrol hike!”

“What happened to your driver throughout the time you stopped using your Mercedes?” I asked.

“Poor fellow!” said my neighbor.

“Why what happened?” I asked curious.

“He had to stay home all day, and listen to his wife and children, so we gave him double pay for the sacrifice! He’s the one who brought the fireworks. He’s so happy to be back! In fact he wants to write a letter to the government!”

“About his family?” I asked.

“No, no, thanking the government for the two rupees fifty paisa decrease! He says its like a new lease to his life to be back on the road!”

I watched as the double decker bus was reversed back into its garage, as the driver put his car in gear to drive his master around, and then watched as the mechanic put the last of the tires back and my neighbor sat regal in his gleaming Mercedes, then turning towards Delhi I thanked the government for giving relief to so many in the nation with their two rupees fifty paisa decrease in price..! 

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*Deepika Sharma, Madhuri Ramesh and ShimulBijoor

Dakshin Foundation, Bengaluru

*Corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The ambitious tourism plans and top-down approach of the government to make the Andaman and Nicobar Islands a global destination is side-lining locals.

Global performance of the tourism sector

Over the years, the tourism sector has made its presence felt in the global economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council's (WTCC) 2017 report, in the past year this sector’s contribution to the global economy was higher than that of others such as manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. The WTTC report also predicts that India will be one of the countries in which the tourism sector grows the fastest. Similarly, the United Nations' World Tourism Barometer Report has listed India as seventh amongst the nations with the highest GDP contributions from the tourism sector.  According to the Indian Ministry of Finance,foreign exchange earnings from tourism contributed revenue of almost Rs 200 crores in the last year alone.  Therefore, it came as no surprise when the Finance Minister announced a 21% hike in the funds allocated to the Ministry of Tourism in this year's national budget while emphasising a holistic approach to the development of this sector. Overall, tourism has the potential to be a powerful driver of economic development in the country.

In the spotlight

At present, the archipelago of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) is one of the main regions targeted for intensive tourism development by the central government. Although far away from India's mainland, ANI is well-known for its picture-perfect beaches, rich biodiversity on land and water, and its position in Indian history as a penal colony that housed many significant members of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. International agencies have also played a major role in putting the islands on the tourist map:for example, in 1999 the Royal Greenwich Observatory at London announced that the millennium’s first sunrise would be visible in Katchal, which is part of the Nicobar group. This attracted a lot of media attention andthe government relaxed restrictions to promote this event, although almost all of the Nicobars is a designated tribal reserve.  Similarly, in 2004, the Time magazine declared Radhanagar beach in Havelock Island to be Asia’s most beautiful one andtill date, this remains Havelock’s claim to fame. However, the 2004 tsunami caused a steep decline in tourist numbers. To woo domestic tourists back, the central government initiated various schemes, the main one being the Leave Travel Concession offered to its Grade A and B employees who want to visit ANI.

Now the archipelago is once again in the spotlight because the central government think-tank, the NITI Aayog, haspushed for further relaxation ofrules and regulations to boost the number of foreign tourists and make the islands a favoured destination, comparable to places such as Maldives and Mauritius. There has been a correspondingincrease in heavy financial investment in tourism here. For example, in 2016, under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, the Ministry of Tourism invested about Rs 42 crores to create a coastal circuit between Long, Smith and Ross, Havelock, Baratang islands and Port Blair.  Further, the Sagarmala project of the Ministry of Shipping proposes to invest around Rs 590 crores in Havelock and Neil Islands, as well as in Port Blair. Now management plans drawn up by the Forest Department are also required to have a section on eco-tourism in the protected areas of ANI.

Ground realities

In spite of the central government’s strong support of tourism development, progress on the ground has been very slow and locals have mixed opinions on the subject.In Smith and Ross Islands, the NITI Aayog is promoting construction of a luxury resort and camping site as a part of its holistic tourism development project. These are twin islands connected by a sandbar.A large portion of Smith Island is a reserved forest and a part of it is occupied by refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the Ranchis, a mixed adivasi group from the Chotanagpur region of Bihar. Both communities were settled here in the late 1940s-50s. Ross Island, on the other hand, is uninhabited and was made a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1987.  The lack of basic facilities such as schools, healthcare, drinking water and transportation has forced many families to move out from Smith Island to villages near Diglipur.  Moreover, one can reach these islands only by ferries but these are extremely limited:there is one boat which leaves Smith Island early in the morning and it returns from Diglipur in the afternoon. Moreover, the ferries cannot operate during rough weather, due to safety concerns, butthere are speedboats for tourists that are run by private operators. However,these charge up to Rs 3,500 for a ride and are therefore too expensive for the locals to use.

In the wake of the NITI Aayog's announcements, it is believed thatrealtors from the mainland have begun to purchase large tracts in Smith Island andgovernment officials claim that many of the smaller players are also trying to develop beach resorts in neighbouring areas. Besides, Smith and RossIslands also harbourmarine turtles,which are a protected species under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 - this is why one has to get a permit from the Forest Department to visit these islands and visitors are allowed to stay there only till 2 pm. Earlier though, these places were freely accessible to local people. Dinesh (name changed), a school teacher in Diglipur recalled how he and his friends would often celebrate festivals at the lighthouse in Ross Island. But, now they have stopped visiting such places because of the difficulty in getting permits andthey are also reluctant to pay what they consider a high entry fee. However, for the Forest Department, such fees are required to fund the management of protected areas.

Similar stories abound at Rani Jhansi Marine National Park (RJMNP), which is now a popular dive site for tourists. Earlier, it was a significant fishing ground for islanders butaccording to a member of the fishing union in Havelock, the Forest Department began regular patrolling about six years ago and it imposes fines on fishermen if they are seen within the park(althoughtourists can go scuba diving in the same areas). Such unequal access is the result of poor policies because the draft management plan for RJMNP for instance, proposes dividing the waters into different zones to meet a range of requirements:  a protection zone to conserve biodiversity, a tourism zone for boat operations and recreational activities, and a multiple-use zone for other (unspecified) activities. However, the requirements of local fishers have not been considered. Instead, like the larger NITI Aayog vision, the management plan also intends to bring economic development to the local population by focussing on tourism alone.

Residents of both these sites emphasized that there were no public consultations before key decisions were made, such as restriction of fisheries and imposition of fines - they had no opportunity to share their opinions and concerns.  Moreover, asa recent article pointed out,although the government has promised better infrastructure in the islands for many years now, ithas failed to provide basic facilities such as safe transportation by sea, for the islanders. This raises major questions about the latest promise of ‘holistic development by tourism’.

On the other hand, the focus on tourism has provided fringe benefits to some islanders especially those running supporting services and small businesses (such as hotels, and transport services like autos, taxis and boat operations). Several resort owners and dive operators said they preferred to employ only islanders as they are more reliable and likely to stay on for a long period.  Some are even willing to provide training to interested candidates. Take the case of Sarita (name changed), for example - she shifted along with her husband from Wandoor to Havelock because he first found a job in one of the hotels. Sarita did not want to stay alone at home all day so she approached one of the resorts on the island and underwent a training course, after which she found employment in their spa. However, a member of the Havelock Gram Sabha remarked that while tourism-related jobs offer higher pay, they have also resulted in the shortage of labour for other projects at Havelock, such as construction work and garbage collection.

Sustainability of tourism sector

The tourism sector in ANI has expanded greatly over the years but so far, the way these projects have been planned and implemented hasresulted in side-lining the welfare of most locals as well as their rights over resources. This is often justified as an effort to create space for the development of tourism and conservation but the momentum of such projectscan be sustained only with the participation of the islanders. Moreover, given the high rate of literacy here (over 80% according to the last census), there is enormous scope for capacity building and work participation.

Consider an example from another developing country - in Thailand, Mae Kampong village is a popular tourist destination that is co-managed by the community and multiple agencies. In a study published in 2015, researchers listed some of the factors that had contributed to this successful working model. They found that community members have a cooperative that raises funds through tourism and invests it in the development, social welfare and conservation of forests in the village.The government and NGOs also contribute to these funds. The village head oversees expenditures and acts as a bridge between the community members and other institutions, whilethe latter are responsible for building up the skills of the community. In addition, the latter also help in promoting tourism at national and international scales.Similar long-term planning, with the combined efforts of local communities,government agencies and NGOs in ANI, can ensure thattourism brings in some measure of genuine development for the islanders.

Date: September 26, 2018

1.Opportunity to Pursue Graduation, MBA from Estonia with Study Estonia(India) Merit Scholarship

Estonia based Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (EUAS) is looking forward to applications from students who are interested in pursuing Undergraduation Degree in Software Development and Entrepreneurship and Creativity and Business Innovation and Postgraduation with MBA in International Business and Administration, for its February 2019 intake.

Last date to submit the application form is November 30, 2018. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, candidates need to fulfil the mandated requirements:

Eligibility

The scholarship consists of two undergraduate program i.e. Software Development and Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Business Innovation and an MBA program. The eligibility criteria for both are as follows:

For undergraduate programs:

               The applicant must be below 25 years of age and have scored minimum 50% in class 12.

               English proficiency certificate of FCE, CAE, IELTS with 5.5 or above, or TOEFL with 69 or above is required.

For MBA program:

               The applicant must have first or second division in graduation with age not more than 35 years.

               Must have IELTS score of 6.0 or above as English language proficiency proof.

Scholarship Reward

               Tuition fee waiver of up to 100%.

               Six months of extended stay in Estonia after the course completion for the job search purpose and securing temporary residence work permit.

               Possibility of earning an average monthly salary of EUR 1146 after course completion.

               Low average cost of living.

How to Apply

Interested candidate can make an online application.

Other Important Details

Students need to submit the below mentioned documents:

               Educational certificates (Mark sheets from previous academic year with over 50% in each subject).

               Certificates for the proficiency of the English language (IELTS 5.5 and above).

               Motivation letter or essay.

               Copy of the passport.

Click Here to Know More

http://www.b4s.in/AC/SEM2

https://www.buddy4study.com/scholarship/study-estonia-merit-scholarship-for-february-2019

Courtesy: www.buddy4study.com / Call: 08448709545, 08527484563

 

2. Doodle yourTalent and Win up to Five Lakh with Doodle4Google Contest

Like every year, Google is inviting students from school, who have creative niche for doodle making. The invitation is madeto showcase their imagination online with Doodle4Google contest,on the theme ‘What Inspires Me?’ Students are required to create a story or a thought, which inspires them, by using any material from crayon to clay.

Last date to submit the application form is October 06, 2018. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, candidates need to fulfil the mandated requirements:

Eligibility

               The contest is open to students of class 1 to 10, parents or guardians can also participate on behalf of their offspring.

               Permission from parents and/or guardians and/or school teachers is mandatory for the applicants.

               Participation of previous years’ national winners and group winners are welcomed, but they will not be considered for the National Winner’s prize.

Scholarship Reward

               The national winner’s doodle will get displayed on www.google.co.in. He or she will be receiving a college scholarship of INR 5, 00,000, technology package of INR 2, 00,000 for his or her school, certificate or trophy of achievement and a trip to Google India and Googley Swag office.

               Four group winners will get their doodles displayed on the Doodle4Google gallery. In addition to this, trophy or medal of recognition, certificate of achievement and a trip to the office of Google India and Googley Swag.

               Twenty national finalists will be getting their doodles featured on Doodle4Google gallery, along with the certificate of achievement and Googley Swag.

How to Apply

Interested candidates can apply online or send their doodle via post to:

Doodle for Google 2018, Google India Private Limited, Signature Tower 2, Tower B, Delhi - Jaipur Expressway, Sector 15 - Part 2, Gurugram, Haryana, 122001.

Other Important Details

               The contestants will be judged on the base of artistic merit, creativity and theme communication.

               The submitted doodle will be judged in different class group categories i.e. Class 1 to 2, 3 to 4, 5 to 6, 7 to 8 and 9 to 10.

Click Here to Know More

http://www.b4s.in/AC/DG7

https://www.buddy4study.com/scholarship/doodle-4-google-2018 

Courtesy: www.buddy4study.com / Call: 08448709545, 08527484563

Today, the activist label is beginning to have a bad meaning, which inspired me to write about this suburb somewhere in Mumbai, where locals get up early so they can take a walk in the park. Some walk to lower their blood sugar, some their blood pressure, some because their spouses have told them they’ve put on weight, and some to stare and gaze at others who have come to stare and gaze at them.

But, all enjoy their walk, especially the little climb, when their path goes up a bit and causes their hearts to flutter and their breaths to shorten, which they know is good for their health!

All went well, till the monsoons came. For with the rains, at one particular spot, actually, the best spot in the park, earthworms tried to crawl across the path the people walked on, and it was no nice sight to see them lying all over, squashed, sometimes half dead,oftimes dead, their attempts to get to the other side, foiled by a cruel boot or callous shoe.

The walkers complained. They grumbled. They discussed, why the mali did not clean the place. The mali said it was not his job, and nothing was done and everyday dozens of poor little worms were killed.

One day, a walker decided to do something. He broke a small branch from a tree nearby and before the others walked, he swept the little fellows out of the way for a few days.

The earthworms looked at him with appreciative eyes. The people with mixed feelings.

“It is my job,” cried the mali, “is he trying to get me unemployed?”

“He cut a piece off a tree,” said the watchman sternly, “Cutting trees is illegal!”

“We are going to arrest him!” said the chairman of the park, “We have reason to believe, he did this exercise to overthrow our committee, and later hit me with the branch he cut!”

The police came at dawn and arrested the man, and took him away, but some good people in the park, who had been happy they were not stamping on the earthworms anymore, and were happy the earthworms were being saved went to court and got the man out, “But let him stay at home, till the police prove he was trying to usurp the committee and injure the chairman!” said the court.

And in the park, snakes, and other dreaded creatures laughed as they continued biting the people, and killing the earthworms, but the chairman of the park when showed the bites and injuries, said, “It doesn’t matter, we have caught the main culprit!”

And the snakes and other harmful creatures continue their evil, as the worms get trampled again, and as the poor man, now called an activist, sits at home awaitinghisjudgement..!

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Was reading news of the latest rape, yes, it’s becoming an everyday experience, sadly, and read that the police station sent the victim away, saying it did not come within their area! And this I heard is quite often the case, that even with draconian laws being passed, that after most cases of rape, assaults, kidnapping, or any crime, what one hears so often is the police station refusing to register a complaint because it is not in their area!I imagined a scene where this happens!

“Police! Police! Quick, run after the thief. I was assaulted and robbed!”

“Where were you assaulted?” asks the inspector smiling.

“I was walking from Colaba to VT Station, when this roguestabbed me!”

“Constable, bring the map of our area!”

“Inspector! Put some men on the job, they have stolen my wallet and mobile phone and I am bleeding!”

“First we will see whose area it is!Now tell us again, you were in which road?”

“I was walking from Colabato..”

“No, no, which road?”

“The road that connects those two places!”

“Just have a look at this map, where were you?”

“Here!”

“Oh!”

“Oh?” asks the victim, “What does oh mean?”

“That is our area!”

“Sir,” interrupts a constable, “Ask him which side of the road he was on!”

“Ah, very good constable, very good! Which side of the road where you on sir?”

“On the left side!”

“Thank god, the left side, comes under the Fort Police station, not us!Constable, you will be recommended for promotion!”

“But aren’t you going to send some men after the scoundrel who attacked me?”

“We are very sorry!” says the inspector, beaming, “Thank you very much for walking on the wrong side of the road!”

“Wrong side?”

“Yes sir, that is not within our jurisdiction. Please go to Fort police station, in case you walk on the right side next time, come directly to us!”

This is no joke, but a fact. I envision the day, when larger than the name board, policestations have outside, they will have large maps stating, “Do Not Enter If You Were Not Assaulted, Raped or Murdered Here!”

This is not just in police stations, even on trains!

“Keep an eye on the stations, as we pass them!” says the grandmother to her grandchild.

“Why grandma?”

“Because if dacoits come and rob us, it is important to know where it took place, for the police to give chase!”

“Also, don’t forget,” says a dacoit entering their compartment, “that it is only the final blow when we finish you off, that police consider the area where a case should be registered!”

“So, what are you waiting for?” whispers the grandmother, looking fearfully at the country pistol.

“This is not a friendlyarea,” says the dacoit looking out of the train window, “The next one is friendlier to us..!” 

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