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Indian Literary Uproar – 41 Writers Return Indian Award, Cite Climate of Intolerance

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India Literary Uproar_AP

India’s literary community is disgusted. Dozens of writers say every day brings more evidence of intolerance and bigotry going mainstream — a man lynched allegedly for eating beef, an atheist critic of Hindu idol worship gunned down — all met by a deafening silence from the government.

As of Wednesday, 41 novelists, essayists, playwrights and poets had returned the awards they received from India’s prestigious literary academy to protest what they call a growing climate of intolerance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The writers are also angry that India’s Sahitya Akademi, or National Academy of Letters, has said little about the murder of the well-known rationalist Malleshappa Kalburgi, an award-winning Kannada-language writer, gunned down in August for his writings against superstition and false beliefs.

The government has dismissed the writers’ protests, questioning their motives and accusing them of being politically motivated.

“If they say they are unable to write, let them stop writing,” culture minister Mahesh Sharma told reporters.

The writers say they cannot remain mute spectators to numerous incidents of communal violence, attacks on intellectuals and increasing curbs on free speech.

“It’s become a question of an individual’s right to speak, to think, to write, to eat, to dress, to debate,” said Maya Krishna Rao, a playwright and theater actress, who returned her award to the academy this week.

When Modi won a landslide victory in May 2014, many voiced fears of right-wing Hindu nationalism leading to communal violence and religious intolerance. Modi, who had spent years dodging allegations of failing to stop riots in Gujarat state in which around 1,000 Muslims died, assured the nation that he was prime minister for all and would work for everyone.

But the last year has seen a rising crescendo of violence by Hindu fringe groups, trying to force a regressive Hindu nationalism on all, causing fear among India’s minority communities. State governments ruled by the BJP have cracked down on cow slaughter, and even buffalo meat, a key source of protein for poor Muslims and lower caste Hindus, has become scarce. The ban on cow slaughter has given rise to Hindu vigilante groups and mob violence has risen. Last month a Muslim man was lynched in northern India over false rumors that his family had eaten beef for dinner.

On Wednesday, in response to persistent demands that the prime minister break his silence on the lynching, Modi said the mob killing was ” sad and undesirable,” but added that his government could not be blamed as the local administration was responsible for the state.

Last week, well-known writer Nayantara Sahgal returned her academy award, triggering the return of awards by other writers. Sahgal, a niece of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, is known as a fiercely independent political writer who had crossed swords with her cousin and another former prime minister, Indira Gandhi, when she imposed a state of emergency in India in the mid-70s.

Referring to recent violence by Hindu groups, Sahgal said in an interview to The Indian Express newspaper that there was “an attempt to blow up the idea of India and to put in its place a kind of travesty of Hinduism, a kind of monoculture, which has nothing to do with Hinduism.”

Sahgal’s views are echoed across the literary spectrum.

Ghulam Nabi Khayal, a Kashmiri language writer, said earlier governments would try to restore peace in situations of communal conflict.

“But that’s no more the case with the rise of Hindu rightwing BJP,” Khayal said in Srinagar. “For the past one year, the Indian state has become suffocating and extremely intolerant.”
The government was “now brazenly and institutionally backing this communal hatred,” he said, justifying his decision to return his award.

It wasn’t the first time that Hindu conservatives silenced an author or forced a book to be withdrawn.
In January, novelist Perumal Murugan went into hiding and said he had quit writing after his latest book sparked virulent protests.

Hindu nationalists organized weeks of demonstrations demanding that Murugan delete portions of the Tamil-language book because they found them offensive. Instead, the writer stopped writing altogether, his voice muted by the angry protests.

Last year, Penguin India decided to destroy all copies of historian Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism after an outcry. In 2011, the state of Gujarat banned Joseph Lelyveld’s biography on pacifist freedom fighter Mohandas K. Gandhi, after reviews suggested Gandhi had a homosexual relationship.

Writers who voiced support for Sahgal and other authors are facing the wrath of Hindu hard-liners on social media as well.

Internationally renowned novelist Salman Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai, said he had received nearly 10,000 hate messages after he came out in support of the writers. Rushdie said the government’s silence was allowing a new “degree of thuggish violence” in India.

BJP has often tried to distance itself from extremist fringe Hindu groups, but the failure to crack down has emboldened them.

“The prime minister remains silent about this reign of terror. We must assume he dare not alienate evil-doers who support his ideology,” Sahgal said in a letter to the academy while returning her award.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal’s Schools, Colleges to Re-Open for Regular Classes in Feb, DDU Shimla to be Notified Non-COVID Hospital

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Schools re-opens in Himachal Pradesh pradesh

Shimla-Schools in Himachal Pradesh would open for regular classes from February 1, 2021, the State Government decided in a meeting of Cabinet held on Friday.  

All the teachers of summer closing government schools have been asked to attend the schools from 27th of this month. The students of classes 5 and 8 to 12 of summer closing schools would be allowed to attend regular classes from 1st February 2021 by strictly following laid down SOPs. The school management would have to ensure strict use of face masks, social distancing and use of sanitisers in the school premises.

In winter closing schools of Himachal, the students of classes 5 and 8 to 12 would be allowed to attend regular classes after winter vacations with effect from 15th February 2021. Online system for education under Har Ghar Pathshala would continue. The similar system can be adopted by the private schools in the State, the Cabinet suggested.  

 Similarly, ITIs and Polytechnic and Engineering colleges would also be opened from 1st February 2021.  

All the government colleges would be opened for regular classes from 8th February 2021 after winter vacations.

There were reports that the government has also decided to allow gathering of more than 50 people.

It also decided to notify Zonal Hospital Dharamshala and DDU Hospital Shimla as Non-Covid Hospitals.

Further, State Government has constructed four Make Shift Hospitals at IGMC Shimla, CH Nalagarh, RPGMC, Tanda and Medical College, Ner Chowk. Now, the Cabinet said that due to reduction in Covid-19 active cases, the Cabinet decided to use the Make-Shift Hospital at:

  1. IGMC as Medicine Intensive Care Unit
  2. Make-Shift Hospital at RPGMC Tanda as Communicable Diseases/ Infectious Diseases Ward,
  3. Make-Shift Hospital at CH Nalagarh as Trauma Care Centre
  4. Make-Shift Hospital at SLBSGMC Mandi at Ner Chowk as Super Specialty Ward.

The Cabinet gave a mining lease on 599.1935 hectares of area for extraction of limestones and mining minerals for cement plant in villages Kamandal, Kumarla, Gitrata and Aara of Chopal Tehsil in Shimla district for three years to RCCPL Private Ltd., Navi Mumbai.

The Cabinet decided to set up Women Help Desks in District Police Offices and Police Thanas in the State. It also gave its nod to purchase 136 scooty/scooter alongwith 272 helmets and 136 Desktop Computer for the Women Help Desks in Police Department. 

Further, six posts of different categories for newly created Civil Courts at Jhandutta in Bilaspur district and Jaisinghpur in Kangra district would be created and filled, the Cabinet decided.

 

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Environment

The GHNP and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary Ranked as Best Managed Protected Areas of India

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MEE Rank himachal pradesh GHNP

Shimla-The Great Himalayan National Park and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) have been ranked as the best managed protected areas in India. Sainj WLS has also been placed among the top five Sanctuaries.

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, on January 11 released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Country. At present, India has a network of 903 Protected Areas in the country covering about 5% of the total geographic area of the country. The purpose of it was to assess the efficacy of Protected Areas, evaluation of management effectiveness.

The evaluation process was executed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, in which  nation-wide 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, including 13 protected areas of Himachal Pradesh, were assessed through a team of evaluators. The score is given for various parameters including staff position, provision of financial resources, degree of protection, peoples’ participation and awareness of the communities towards the conservation values. Against a national average of 62 percent GHNP and Tirthan WLS scored a high of 84.17 percent while Sainj recorded 82.5 percent.

Currently, Himachal Pradesh has a network of 5 National Parks, 28 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 3 Conservation Reserves covering 8391.42 km2 which is 15 percent of the total geographical area of the state.

Top five and bottom five scored NP&WLS

Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India 2

Source: MEE Evaluation Report

According to this Evaluation three of the top five best managed Protected Areas in the country are from Himachal Pradesh. However, the Evaluation also mentioned weaknesses in management in these National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. (Scroll down for details info)

Top two highest and lowest scored NP&WLS in five regions

Managemaent Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

Source: MEE Evaluation Report

What is Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)?

Protected area (PA) management effectiveness evaluation (MEE) is defined as the assessment of how well NP&WLS are being managed—primarily, whether they are protecting their values and achieving the goals and objectives agreed upon.

The term ‘management effectiveness’ reflects three main themes of PA management -design issues relating to both individual sites and PA systems, the adequacy and appropriateness of management systems and processes, and delivery of the objectives of NP&WLS, including conservation of values.

 Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Areas (PAs) has emerged as a key tool for PA managers and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.

MEE is a very important document that provides valuable guidance on various aspects of wildlife and protected area expand MEE of Marine Protected Areas. A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has been also jointly prepared by WII and MoEF&CC.

In recent years there has been a general concern amongst PA professionals and the public that many NP&WLS are failing to achieve their objectives and, in some cases, are actually losing the values for which they were established (Hockings et al. 2008).

As a result, improving the effectiveness of PA management has become a priority throughout the conservation community. Protected areas that are effectively managed generally lead to improved biodiversity outcomes.

However, only 20% (21,743 NP&WLS) of the total coverage of protected areas reported in the WDPA has been assessed for management effectiveness according to the Global Database on Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (UNEP-WCMC, IUCN and NGS 2018). The result indicated that only 17.5% of the countries have achieved the 60% score of management effectiveness (Coad et al. 2015).

Further, Javadekar also announced that from this year onwards 10 best National Parks, 5 coastal and Marine parks and top five Zoos in the country will be ranked and awarded every year.

Management Strengths and Weaknesses of National Parks and Wild Life Sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh

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Campus Watch

Proposed HPBOSE Date-Sheets for 8th, 10th, 12th Exams 2021 Issued, Objections Invited till Feb 10

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HPBOSE Exam Datesheet 2021

Shimla-Date-sheets for Class 10, 12, and 8 yearly examinations for the 2020-21 session have been released by the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education yesterday. These schedules would apply to both regular and State Open School (SOS) students. 

These are proposed date-sheets, which have been uploaded on the official HPBOSE website and objections have been invited from teachers, students, and parents. Objections can be mailed on [email protected] till 10 February 2021.

According to the proposed HPBOSE date-sheets, examinations for 10th class would be held from May 5 to May 20, 2021. For 12th class, exams would be held from May 4 to May 29. Exams for 8th class would be held from May 5 to May 19. While timings for class 10th and 8th would be 8:45 to 12 PM, class 12th exams would be conducted from 1:45 PM to 5 PM.

The Board has already decided that yearly examinations of HPBOSE for Class 10th and 12th for the session 2020-21 would not be conducted online. The decision was taken considering the fact that several regions of the state do not have Internet connectivity due to which students face difficulties.

HPBOSE Class 12 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 10 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 8 Date-Sheet 2021

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