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Is this size for a 4 wheel vehicle number plate acceptable ?

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Shimla Police doesn’t reply, so it’s in vain to post it on it’s FB wall to ask them this. Anyone tell me about this. There this stylo kind of guy, who run his car around Boileauganj, Summerhill, Chaura Maidan etc., cut the size of number plate of his car to this. I guess, under traffic laws there must be some directions about the visibility of the number plate.

Opinion

Drugs and Himachal : Recent Trends and the Counterstrategy

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By – Neha Tanwar, Research scholar, Department of Public Policy, Law and Governance, Central University of Rajasthan, Ajmer

Drugs have become a reason to worry for all of us considering its rampant rise all over the world and in our country, but one province which is at the centre of all this in the recent months is the Western Himalayan province of Himachal Pradesh which is not only becoming a national and international destination for drug peddlers but also is emerging as India’s Drug abuse hot spot which is invariably affecting the youth of the province in a huge way.

Drug Abuse in Himachal Pradesh

Drug abuse is the illicit, non-medical use of several substances which includes alcohol, heroin, cocaine, opium, marijuana. The main causes of such abuse are peer pressure, society negligence, mental stigma, and curiosity. The Constitution of India in this concern directs the state to secure the health for each individual and guides to preclude the utilization of drugs which are harmful to health. It was a direct result of this promise that the NDPS Act, 1985 was passed, yet drug abuse has been rampant in the country and Himachal Pradesh is emerging as the new hotspot in this concern, as considerable drug addiction among especially the youth of the province has been noticed at a high rate and the situation is very alarming.

In fact, it is estimated according to a recent report that close to 3.2 per cent of the population of Himachal Pradesh use Charas and Ganja — derivatives of cannabis — which is much above the national average. But the more dangerous trend in the recent months have been the shift of the population to chemical drugs, according to a latest report concerning the 1,170 patients (drug users) lodged in 27 de-addiction centers of the state, the count of addicts of Chitta (also called Diacetylmorphine, a semi-synthetic adulterated form of heroin) has surpassed that of cannabis (Charas) and other hard drugs as 34.61 per cent of the drug addicts in the centers are Chitta consumers. Another major cause for concern according to the same report is that the highest number of addicts are in the age group of 15-30 years which is scary.

Drug Trafficking in Himachal Pradesh

Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. Himachal Pradesh strangely due to its land location and borders with Punjab, Ladakh and J & K has become a market for the drug supplying networks from the Golden Crescent, a space which allegedly produces massive quantities of heroin which is sent to India via Pakistan. On the other hand, due to the province being a tourist hotspot the drug supplying networks from the Golden Triangle, Israel and Africa have also become active. All these interests of drug networks started building at a massive scale during in the early 2000s when large scale production of illicit opium and cannabis resin or hashish was reported in Himachal Pradesh especially in the districts of Kullu, Mandi and Kinnaur. Poor law and order situation during that time needs to be blamed for that and probably the careless attitude during that time by the people in charge has led to the current turmoil in the state, as drug peddlers from Himachal Pradesh have increased a lot in number and are not only involved in drug trafficking locally, but also to other parts of the country which have in many ways tarnished the image of the peace loving Western Himalayan people.

Many cases in the recent months guide us in this direction, one being the case involving the arrest of a hotelier from Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism squad (ATS), in a covert operation, for allegedly supplying charas to Mumbai, Pune, and other parts of the state for several years. Further, the arrest of a 38-year-old African national from lvory Coast residing in Delhi by the Himachal Pradesh police, on the basis of clues provided by two youths earlier arrested in connection with drug peddling at Bhuntar (Kullu) also showcases how Himachal is becoming an international destination for drug suppliers, the police had seized  6.297 kg of heroin and 362 grams of ganja estimated to be around Rs 25 crore from the house of the individual. These cases have invariably showcased how important a market Himachal Pradesh is becoming for drug traffickers and peddlers both nationally and internationally. The HP police had registered close to 1342 cases in 2018 concerning drugs and had recovered 8.50 kg of heroin, 327 kg charas and 17.05 opium along with other narcotics substances. The cases rose by 7.2 percent in 2019 when the registered cases were 1439. Also, according to latest figures over 6,000 NDPS related cases are still pending in numerous courts of the province.  Not only that, in Una district alone which borders Punjab 300 people have been arrested in the last 3 years concerning drug related cases. The district is quickly emerging as a drug capital of the state and many allege that influential individuals have a major hand to play in that.

Counterstrategy

Drug Abuse can be dealt with by counselling. “At the national level, an expected 4.6 lakh children and 18 lakh adults need support for their inhalant use (unsafe use/dependence).” Counselling is the best instrument to rehabilitate drug abusers and plays a crucial role in rehabilitating them. It includes supporting individuals to roll out required improvements in perspective, feeling, and carrying on and is an objective-based shared cycle, including a non-critical, sensitive counsellor. It is known as the best way to reduce the dependency on drugs and leads to the building up of confidence in the counselee. 35million people are estimated to suffer from drug abuse disorders and who require treatment services according to a 2018 UNODC report. There are several types of evidence-based behavioral therapies used against drug abuse like Cognitive behavioral therapy, Dialectic behavioral therapy, Motivational enhancement therapy and Solution focus therapy which have helped a lot of individuals. But in Himachal Pradesh such therapy centers seem to be missing and many changes are required in the de addiction centers of the state.

On the policy end though, many anti-drug regulations have been proposed by United Nations and other international bodies like the UN drugs conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988, UN Political declaration and Plan of action on drugs, 2009, UN Office of Drug and Crime, International Standards on Drug use Prevention, UNODC, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, resolutions, and SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, but no such regulation has also been effectively implemented in the country. On the provincial level, the Himachal Pradesh government had decided in late December last year to frame an integrated Drug Prevention Policy including Drug Prevention, Treatment, Management and Rehabilitation Programme for better coordination between the police, media and the Nasha Nivaran Board. Also, numerous awareness missions and a special task force has been setup by them in this regard but noting considerable has happened in that connection.  Efforts have also been made from within the community, like the recent example set by the Mahajarna panchayat of Baijnath, Kangra District (HP) where the newly formed panchayat in its general house announced to impose heavy fine on the persons found involved in drug trafficking, illegal sale of liquor and other illegal activities. Mahajarna is the first panchayat of Kangra district, which has come out against drug trafficking openly. The panchayat proposed to slap a penalty of Rs 10,000 on violators. Besides, the panchayat will also debar them from taking the benefits of government schemes like subsidized ration, financial assistance for the construction of house under the PM Awas Yojna, grants for marriages, free LPG stoves and cylinders, etc. But only time will tell how things work out on the ground.

Concerning drug trafficking in the state the need of the hour on the administrative end is to specifically focus on a combined drug policy for the entire northern border region in which Himachal Pradesh needs to work closely with its neighboring Western Himalayan UT’s of J&K and Ladakh as well as Punjab. In such instance pre-engagement policies are necessary for preventing and mulling drug crime in Himachal. Another significant aspect for preventive methods is to engage in a dialogue through a post-engagement policy analysis, which leads to formulating strategies for overall drug control. Further, a fresh and strict Pan-South Asian drug policy is also required which will largely help Himachal Pradesh and the Far-North region of India to work with the neighboring regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan on this issue, which can lead to prosperity in the province and the entire region. But this can only happen when peace exists in South Asia especially between India and Pakistan. Till then all we can do is hope that things will change for the betterment of the people of Himachal Pradesh and especially its young population.

Image Credit: Palash Kapoor

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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Opinion

The Western Himalayan Kinnaura Tribe – Composition, Customs and Social Transformation

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By- Dr. Devender Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Centre of Excellence Government College Sanjauli, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh).

The focus of this piece is on the Western Himalayan Kinnaura tribe, majorly concerning their composition, customs and social transformation. Their ethnic-religious and socio-linguistic composition has been discussed as well as birth, death and marriage related customs of the tribe have been elaborated. Also, a brief evaluation concerning their recent social transformation has been done and issues related to the modernization and developmental drives furthered by the mainland has been highlighted. Lastly, a discussion has been laid concerning how all this directly or indirectly impacts the socio-cultural compactness of this tribe in many ways.

Ethnic-Religious Composition

The major tribes of Himachal Pradesh include Kinnaura, Lahaula, Gaddi and Gujjar. These groups were included in the schedule of the tribes at different point of time and under different presidential orders. These tribes as well as other related minor tribes fall in the scheduled list under the Fifth schedule of the Indian constitution. Sticking to the Kinnauras they are considered active, generous, frank, peace loving and hospitable people who are the inhabitants of the border district of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. Since time immemorial this area has been outward looking and has economic, social, and cultural ties with other parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and even Western Tibet (specifically its Ngari Prefecture). They belong to the Mongoloid race but have been considerably intermingled with the Indo-Aryans and are strongly marked with features of the Tartar physiognomy. The people of Upper Kinnaur are of a fair complexion and have small oblong eyes. Then, Central Kinnaur is inhabited by a slightly fair muscular race of mixed origin known as Kunets. In Lower Kinnaur the people vary in color and are mostly dark brown or yellowish white.

Co-existence of Unorthodox Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism defines the religious space of Kinnaur. While, Lower and Central Kinnaur have large influences of Hinduism which in many ways is very separate from the mainland Hinduism practiced in specifically the Hindi Belt states, as mainly deity worship is followed. On the other hand, in Upper Kinnaur Buddhism is what is dominant. But overall an amalgamated culture exists in the area where the tribal people mostly live-in peace and harmony.

 Socio-Linguistic Composition

The Buddhists who are majorly in Upper Kinnaur do not follow the caste system, but the caste system is followed by the Hindus which are mostly in Lower Kinnaur and in some areas of Central Kinnaur. The Hindus divide themselves into the Khasia or Khasas and Berus. The Khasas are treated as upper caste and includes Rajputs or Kanets and has been at the highest rung of the social ladder for generations. Meanwhile, the Berus are treated as lower castes and includes Chamangs, Domangs, Ores and Kolis. The Chamangs were traditionally shoemakers and weavers, the Domangs were blacksmiths as well as gold and silversmiths, and the Ores were carpenters.

Concerning the linguistic composition of the Kinnauras they basically speak the Kinnauri language which is part of the Tibeto-Kinnauri language family which includes languages spoken in neighboring Lahaul as well as Western Tibet, Ladakh and even Baltistan. Mainly Kinnauri/ Hamskad or Milchan is the most spoken linguistic dialect and is majorly spoken in Lower Kinnaur. According to some experts, this linguistic dialect shows close affinities to Mundari (spoken in Chota Nagpur), as they believe long back an amalgamation in this area had taken place between the Munda aboriginal tribes and a Tibetan tribe. Then, the Chitkuli dialect is mostly spoken by people living on the Indo-China border in the Baspa Valley, the Jangshung dialect is spoken mostly in the Morang tehsil and the Sumcho, Sunnam and Chhoyuli dialect is spoken in the Poh administrative division. Bhoti Kinnauri is spoken in border areas with Lahaul-Spiti, and Pahari Kinnauri which has some similarity with the Western Pahari languages is spoken by mainly the scheduled caste groups of Nichar, Kalpa, and Sangla tehsils in Kinnaur.

Birth, Death and Marriage Related Customs

After the birth of a child in the Kinnaura tribe, the naming ceremony is performed by a Buddhist Lama (For Hindus also in majority cases, as due to absence of Brahmins in Kinnaur the Lamas are given that status). In most areas when the child is of one or two years his head is shaved and this ceremony is called karachogmig. An auspicious date is taken from the Lama for removing the child’s hair, during that time the Lama also performs the ceremony of hom after which a feast is held and khura, luchi and chhoma is cooked and distributed.

Concerning death, again the Lamas are consulted, and advice is taken from them concerning the method to be followed for the disposal of the dead. There are three methods prevalent among Kinnauras for the disposal of the dead i.e., Dubant (drowning), Phukant (burning), Bhakhant, (eating by vultures and birds). However due to rapidly increasing contact with the mainland, they are abandoning these old customs concerning death and are mostly burning the dead bodies. The elder son or the nearest relatives lit a person’s funeral pyre and then the ashes are collected and thrown in the river Sutlej or taken to either Rewalsar in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh or to Mansarowar in Western Tibet. On the thirteenth day a ceremony locally called damkochung which literally means the good and bad has been performed. A feast is then offered to relatives and friends and after that the family leads a normal life. After one year of the death a ceremony called ukhyang or phulech something like an annual shradh is performed by especially the Hindus. At that time, the Lama receives food and clothes in the name of deceased and a goat dressed in a dead man’s clothes is sacrificed and eaten by the members of his kindred. This finally ends the period of mourning.

Though variations in the performance of the custom of birth and death exist from village to village both in Hindus and Buddhists but this description is widely applicable. In relation to marriage there are four recognized forms of marriage through which Kinnauras marry namely the janetang or janckang (arranged marriage), the dam tangshisor or jushis (love marriage), the daroshor dab-dab or kuchis (marriage by capture), and har (enticing away some one’s wife). But in the modern times arranged and love marriages are the most common. Marriage alliances in the especially the Buddhists does not concern caste but in the Hindus caste and gotra system is followed like elsewhere in India. The marriage ceremony is done again by the Lamas by chanting certain Hymns. Shockingly, polyandrous marriages are also still happening in the Kinnaura tribe and in some places several brothers share one wife. The eldest brother marries, and his wife becomes the common wife to the rest of the brothers. The male children of a polyandrous marriage inherit the property jointly and it remains intact from generation to generation.

Social transformation of the Kinnaura Tribe

Currently, since the last few decades the Kinnaura tribe is in the phase of transition. Kinnaur had old trade relations with the Western Tibet which was primarily based on trade of woolen cloths but since the late 1960’s there has been a change in their economic activities especially after the Indo-Sino war which led to the establishment of more connectivity with mainland India. A significant change which has been noted since then is the transformation of the tribe from a pastoral community to an agricultural community. Also, the tourism and hospitality sector has been on the rise and such an economic transformation combined with education and awareness related efforts of the governments as well as NGOs has further propelled socio-cultural transformation in the region and a lot of progress has taken place. Polyandry and Polygamy marriage practices are on the decline and the proportion of social and economic progression is on the rise amongst especially the youth, housing and sanitation conditions have also improved considerably. The tribal people who earlier shied away from outsiders have now become more sociable and confident and are more receptive to new ideas and technological innovations. Electrification and internet connectivity has also added to the economic potential and prosperity of the tribal area.

On the flip side, with this transformation new classes have emerged in the region which have created further differentiation in the peasantry. A new rich class who entered economic activities like tourism, hydal projects, government services, and cash crops have come up, while to serve them a new local workforce has also emerged which is creating more class divide within the tribe. Simultaneously, the caste-based discrimination in especially Central and Lower Kinnaur has still not gone away and progressive modernization has not arrived even after more connectivity. Allegedly, according to some locals many ultra-left organizations are running ideological agendas using discrimination on caste and class-based lines to create cades which according to them invariably is worsening the situation more. On the flipside, again allegedly according to many local’s mainland Hinduism’s sanskritization element is creeping in through ultra-right organizations, who are trying hard to influence the unorthodox deity-based Hinduism practiced in Kinnaur and are imposing Vaishnavism based practices which according to them is creating more divide between the Hindus and Buddhists and are hampering the harmonious religious and cultural linkages prevalent in the tribal region for centuries. All this may further lead to more divisions in the Kinnaura tribe, majority of whom till now believe that the tribe comes first for them over religion or any ideological inclination.

Equally, more developmental projects have led to increased governmental interference creating more ecological damage in the region. Especially hydro-power projects in the name of development, are spelling doom in the tribal area and ruining the environmental balance. Those opposing these projects argue that a mere visit by tourists or a heavy influx of vehicles can damage the fragile ecology of the area and that the building up of massive hydropower projects will simply ruin the beautiful environment of the area forever. A recent study conducted by Indian Council of Forestry Research and many other organizations found out that out of the 38 hydro projects taken for study in Satluj basin of Kinnaur district, 20 have threatened the faunal species. Out of 368 bird species recorded, 51 are broad endemics distributed in South Asian mainland. Also, these projects are causing climate change in the region which is affecting the agricultural sector in a massive way.

Therefore, the ongoing social transformation of the Kinnauri tribe has many pro’s and con’s, on the one hand more connectivity has opened additional avenues for the tribal people by connecting them to the outer world. But on the other hand, the same has created serious problems for the tribal people and their area which may have a lot of consequences in the long run.

Image Credit: Palash Kapoor

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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News

Himachal: COVID-19 Claims 13 Lives as State Reports Over 900 Cases in 24 Hours

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report april 14

Shimla- COVID-19 claimed 13 more lives in Himachal Pradesh as the state recorded 925 new cases in 24 hours. According to the latest update released by the State health department, Kangra district reported the highest 178 cases, followed by Solan (143), Mandi (114), and Shimla (104). 

As a matter of concern, 48 students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya School, Sarol, in Chamba district also tested positive, creating a stir in the region. Samples of the staff were also taken following it. The school was declared as a containment zone. 

Find more district-wise details of daily cases below:

Himachal Pradesh Daily covid-19 deaths apri 14, 2021

Kangra district also reported the highest six COVID-19 deaths, followed by Shimla (3), Mandi (2), and Una (2). The deceased were aged between 42 – 84 years and included eight females and five males. Find the details of the deceased below:

Himachal Pradesh daily covid-19 cases on april 14, 2021

The case and death tallies in the state have now jumped to 72,319 and 1135 respectively.

While speaking to the media today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur admitted that the surge in cases is rising across the nation, but maintained that there were no plans to impose a lockdown in the state so far.  

The state government, however, today decided to postpone the ongoing examinations for undergraduate classes and 10 and 12 classes of the HP Board of School Education.

 

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