The Most Literate Village Of Asia Is From Uttar Pradesh

Dhorra Mafi village in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district has the distinction of being the most literate village, not only in India, but the whole of Asia.

With a literacy rate of 75 percent, the place entered the ‘Limca Book of Records’ in 2002 and now it is going through the registration phase to enter the ‘Guinness World Records’. With a radius of approximately 3 kilometres, the village lie in close proximity to Aligarh Muslim University. The place has a population of 20,000 and in spite of being self-sufficient with all necessary amenities, the village has not yet been included as a part of Aligarh city. A proposal has, however, been forwarded for consideration.

An estimated 44,000 homes will have to be built every day to meet PM Modi’s target of providing a home to all urban poor by 2022

6 hurdles to building 44,000 homes a day

 

Less than seven years are left for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Housing for All scheme aimed at providing a home to all the urban poor by 2022—especially as

cities grow and migrants flow in from distressed rural areas.

This means an estimated 44,000 homes will have to be built every day or 16 million every year.

India Spend has identified six hurdles that the government must reckon with as it attempts to meet this target:

1. Cities are growing: Two Indian metros, Delhi and Mumbai were among the ten largest urban agglomerations in the world, as on 2014, while another, Kolkata is set to be among

the world’s top fifteen by 2030, according to the UN. There were 0.9 million homeless people in urban India as per the Census data of 2011, in addition to a slum population of

roughly 65 million. More than 90% of the ensuing housing shortage is constituted by what are called economically-weaker sections and low-income groups, according to

government data.

2. A migrant-flood is coming: People from India’s distressed rural areas, home to 833 million people, according to data released by the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC)

survey released earlier this month, are likely to flood into cities and towns in growing numbers as agricultural growth rates flounder. About 670 million people in rural areas live

on less than Rs 33 a day, as India Spend reported. India’s urban population is estimated to reach 600 million by 2031, up from about 380 million in 2011. Migrants make up a

sizeable chunk of India’s urban population, last estimated at 35 per cent by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2007-08.

3. Indian slum populations are high: About 17 per cent of urban India–or about 65 million people–today live in slums. While these data are reflected in the Census, on a globally

comparable index, the proportion of urban population living in slums in India is high, as the chart below indicates.

4. Land will be hard to find: An estimated 2 lakh hectares of land will be required to build homes for the poor and plug housing shortages. To deal with the land shortage, some experts have called for vertical expansion by way of floor space index (FSI) relaxations. Mumbai has effected some FSI reform recently. However, most Indian cities are densely populated, with densities running into tens of thousands per square kilometre.

5. Maintaining standards will be a challenge: The sub-components of the Housing-For-All scheme include new units; credit-linked subsidies; beneficiary-led upgradation/construction; and upgrading/redevelopment of slum households. In the rush to build, the quality of construction will be a challenge. As the chart below shows, a third of existing housing units in India are already of a poor standard. This, of course, is not unlike several other emerging economies.

6. Breaking out of the regulatory maze: Among the most difficult challenges of Modi’s housing scheme would be the regulatory maze that enmeshes the construction-approval process in India, which the World Bank ranks as among the worst globally (see chart below). In India the approval process between land acquisition and commencement of construction can take as long as two years, real-estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle estimates.
Ease Of Getting Construction Permits Globally
Country                        Rank
South Africa                   32
Japan                              83
Bangladesh                    144
Russian Federation      156
Brazil                              174
China                              179
India                               184

Source: Ease of Doing Business, 2014 from World Bank

India’s 30 million year long ‘isolation’ was not so isolated, finds new study

Throwing fresh light on how India gradually drifted away from Africa and Madagascar and collided with the Eurasian plate, scientists now report India was by no means as isolated as we thought during its journey.

It was common belief among researchers that before it collided with the Eurasian plate, India was largely isolated for at least 30 million years during its migration.

The research was done by German, Polish and Indian scientists, with the Indian contribution coming from Hukam Singh, a scientists at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences, Lucknow. The study is published in the peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE.
The insects, called ‘biting midges’ were less than a millimeter long and were fossilized in amber, a tree resin. They were discovered in the Cambay basin near Surat in Gujarat. Their age has been estimated at 54 million years ago, a time when the Indian plate should have been isolated and surrounded by oceans.
India harbours many unique species of flora and fauna that only occur in this form on the subcontinent. The prerequisite for such a unique development of species is that no exchange takes place with other regions. For a long time, scientists assumed that India was isolated in this way due to continental drift. The supercontinent Gondwana, which included South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Madagascar and India, broke up over the course of geological history. What is now India also began moving towards the north east around 130 million years ago. It was common belief among researchers that, before it collided with the Eurasian plate, India was largely isolated for at least 30 million years during its migration. “Certain midges that occurred in India at this time display great similarity to examples of a similar age from Europe and Asia,” says lead author Frauke Stebner from the working group of Prof. Jes Rust at the Steinmann Institute at the University of Bonn.

 The scientist from the University of Bonn mined for amber in seams of coal near Surat. Small midges, among other things, were encased in tree resin 54 million years ago and preserved as fossils. Their descendants can still be found today in Germany in meadows and forests – where the little beasts attack you in swarms and suck your blood.
 The paleontologists investigated a total of 38 biting midges encased in amber and compared them with examples of a similar age from Europe and China. It has been possible to assign a total of 34 of these insect fossils to genera that are already known. “There was significant conformity with biting midges in amber from the Baltic and Fushun in north-east China,” reports Stebner.
 How the insects were able to spread between drifting India and Eurasia has not yet been clarified fully. Stebner assumes that a chain of islands that existed at that time between India, Europe and Asia could have helped the biting midges to spread. As if from stepping stone to stepping stone, the insects could have gradually moved forward along the islands. “Some of the biting midges found in Indian amber were presumably not especially good long-distance flyers,” smiles the paleontologist from the University of Bonn. It was therefore probably not so easy to reach the subcontinent or move from there during the migration of India

NIO discovers world’s first ancient settlement destroyed by tsunami

Marine archaeologists on Monday claimed to have discovered the world’s first ancient urban settlement, which could have been destroyed by a tsunami.dholavira map

Addressing a press conference here, National Institute of Oceanography Director S.W.A. Naqvi said that the archaeological site of Dholavira in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, which was a well-planned urban settlement then, was destroyed by a tsunami around 3,450 years ago.

“This is the oldest site known to the world which we believe was hit by a tsunami,” he said.

Dholavira is a site of an ancient metropolitan town of the Harappan period and was known as the largest port-town of the Harappans which flourished around 5,000 years ago, until the tsunami destroyed it 3,450 years ago.

Dholavira, the second largest Harappan site located within the present borders of India, comprises three parts including a castle, the middle town and the lower town. A

“A unique feature of Dholavira is the presence of a 14-18 meters thick wall, apparently built as a protective measure against tsunamis,” said Rajiv Nigam, a lead scientist at the NIO.

Oldest human bone discovered in Tabuk

RIYADH: A joint research team comprising Saudi archaeologists and experts from Oxford University discovered the oldest human bone during an excavation at Tayma in Tabuk, a large oasis in the Nafud Desert with a long history of settlement.Tabuk
The bone found is the middle part of the middle finger of a human being who lived 90,000 years ago, the oldest human trace found to date in the Arabian Peninsula, an official from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) said. The announcement about the finding was recently made by SCTNH President Prince Sultan bin Salman during a speech at the Académie des Beaux-Arts (French Academy of Fine Arts), Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, reported.
According to the SCTNH, this archaeological finding is an important phase in research and excavation being carried out by the authorities with the help of the joint team that comprises experts from Oxford University, King Saud University, King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Geological Survey, University of Hail and Saudi Aramco.
It is indeed an important achievement for the Saudi researchers and also an important outcome of Prince Sultan’s support and care for the archaeological sector in the Kingdom, the SCTNH said.
The project is part of the Green Arabia Project, which is a Saudi-British unddertaking for survey and excavation to implement environmental and archaeological studies of many historical sites in the Kingdom.
The project is being carried out by the SCTNH and the University of Oxford and its implementation will take five years (2012-2017) with the objective to study the likelihoods of expansion or extinction of humans and animals and their adaptation to living conditions. This joint project has led to many other significant discoveries of animals and mammal fossils in the Saudi deserts including a giant 300,000-year-old elephant tusk belonging to an extinct species of elephant from the Nafud Desert suggesting a greener, wetter Arabian desert in the past. An elephant’s carpal bone, located five meters from the pieces of tusk, was also discovered from the same sand layer at the excavation site in the Nafud Desert.

A new study indicates that the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization is around 8,000 years old and predates Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian by thousands of years.

A new study indicates that the Indus Valley civilization predates the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization.

Indus-Valley-Civilization-1024x640Based on a new study, researchers have come to the conclusion that the ancient Indus Valley civilization –best known for their well-planed cities—is around 8000 years old predating Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian civilizations

The Indus Valley Civilization has already been considered by researchers as one of the oldest civilizations on the planet, but it turns out they date further back then scientists previously believed.

While many people around the globe consider the Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian civilization as one of the most complex civilization to have developed in the distant past, the truth is that the Indus Valley Civilization might predate them by some 2,500 years.

But not only does the new study reveal fascinating details about this ancient civilization, but it also sheds light on why the flourishing ancient civilization eventually collapsed.

In order to come to this conclusion, researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, and IIT Kharagpur gathered a number of pottery fragments and animal bones from Bhirrana in the north of the country and submitted the items to carbon dating.

Mohenjo-daro

Researchers also used ‘optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) method’ to see whether or not climate change could be responsible for the eventual fall of the Indus Valley civilization.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal.

While there are still a number of tests required, the new study clearly indicates that the Indus Valley civilization predates the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization, which were also considered extremely sophisticated architects and engineers.

i_boat

Researchers believed that civilization spread across parts f modern-day Pakistan and northwestern India during the Peak of the Bronze age when a staggering five million people inhabited one million square miles along ancient citadels erected at the basin of the Indus River.

Thanks to the number of artifacts and pottery fragments recovered from several ancient sites, researchers found out that ancient people were extremely skilled craftsmen and metallurgists with advanced knowledge of metallurgy that allowed them to work copper, bronze, lead and tin with ease. Thousands of years ago, people mastered brick-backing techniques which allowed them to control the supply and drainage of water.indus-boat-tablet_0

‘Our study pushes back the antiquity to as old as 8th millennium before present and will have major implications on the evolution of human settlements in Indian sub-continent,’ said Anindya Sarkar, a professor at the department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur, in an interview with International Business Times.

Further evidence discovered at ancient sites such as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro prove that ancient people were adept town planners, engineers, and farmers.

Interestingly, Mohenjo-Daro was one of the most important cities of South Asia and the Indus Civilization together with Harappa, which was one of the first and most important ancient settlements of the world.

According to some researchers, densely populated Mohenjo-Daro was destroyed nearly instantly over 2000 years ago by a huge explosion which, according to ancient alien theorists and other researchers, was caused by the detonation of a nuclear bomb. It is estimated that at its peak, Mohenjo-Daro was inhabited by 40,00 inhabitants even though some scholars have come up with a much larger number saying that it was inhabited by over 100,000 inhabitants in the past.

well

The Collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization

In the past, researchers thought that one of the main factors that lead to the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization was climate change and the eventual decrease in water levels of the Indus River. However, this might not have been the cause after all.

‘Our study suggests that the climate was probably not the cause of Harappan decline,’ researchers wrote.

While there is evidence of different weather patterns in the distant past, there is evidence at Bhirrana, which suggests that people continued to survive despite changing weather patterns.

 

‘Increasing evidence suggests that these people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy,’ added researchers in their study.

What probably caused the demise of ancient metropolises was the change in crops harvested by people thousands of years ago. Deurbanization of major ancient sites were caused due to the lack of large food storage facilities. People decided to swap to personal storage spaces

which allowed families to be taken care of.

‘Because these later crops generally have much lower yield, the organized large storage system of mature Harappan period was abandoned giving rise to smaller more individual household based crop processing and storage system and could act as a catalyst for the de-urbanisation of the Harappan civilization rather than an abrupt collapse,’ the team concluded.

The acquisition is symbolic of the rise of Dalits and the fall of Muslims in India. That’s how Sadia Dehlvi, the writer who was born in the Shama Ghar in 1957, describes it.

Shama Ghar  – Sardar Patel Marg a street occupied by the Delhi’s powerful elite Now owned by Mayawati of BSP. Shama Ghar — named after the Urdu magazine Shama that its previous owners published — that occupied the corner spot on the famed road.

sardar_patel_marg

Outside, in his little paan and bidi shop, Mohammed Sultan recalls the transformation. Running the shop from the same spot for 25 years, he has seen it all — celebrities like Meena Kumari, Nargis and other Bollywood actors who filtered in and out of the famous landmark building that was also once referred to as Delhi’s Taj Mahal, the numerous mushaira sessions and parties in those days, and then the packing and moving, the demolition, and the trumpet of the elephant. Sultan lived in the help’s quarters those days. “It was a beautiful white house. It was painful for the family to sell it. I have never seen any of the members come back again,” he said.

The acquisition is symbolic of the rise of Dalits and the fall of Muslims in India. That’s how Sadia Dehlvi, the writer who was born in the Shama Ghar in 1957, describes it.

Her father Yusuf Dehlvi owned the house, but had to sell it to the BSP around 2002 after he fell on hard times and the Urdu film magazine, Shama, brought out by Shama Publishing House, was no longer a profitable venture. The glorious tradition of a house that was a culture hub ended in 1987 when there was a rift in the family and its fortunes took a beating. It’s a hard subject for her to revisit. She hasn’t even crossed the street since the house was sold.

“Life has to go on. Nobody in the family wants to talk about it. I will say one thing. The house has been lucky for Mayawati,” said Dehlvi. “You have to respect her as a woman who came from nowhere. It is a symbol of social mobility.” “Dalits have done better. They have moved one notch up,” she said.

There are rumours that the house was sold for Rs 22 crore. While Dehlvi said she could not confirm the figure as she wasn’t part of the negotiations, she added it was sold for “very little.” “Mayawati has struck gold with it,” Dehlvi said.

 

 

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Plans for a corridor stretching from the Chinese border to Pakistan’s deep water ports on the Arabian Sea date back to the 1950s, and motivated construction of the Karakoram Highway beginning in 1959. Chinese interest in Pakistan’s deep-water harbour at Gwadar had been rekindled by 2000, and in 2002 China began construction at Gwadar port which was completed in 2006. Expansion of Gwadar Port then ceased thereafter owing to political instability in Pakistan following the fall of General Pervez Musharraf.A-rock-near-Pishkun-Balochistan

The current form of the project was first proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Nawaz Sharif on 22 May 2013 in Islamabad, resulting in the establishment of The Pak-China Economic Corridor Secretariat on 27 August 2013.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion which is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China. The corridor is considered to be an extension of China’s ambitious proposed 21st century Silk Road initiative, and is considered central to China Pakistan relations.IMG_0176

While economic opportunities and development will largely benefit Pakistan, CPEC’s importance to China’s geopolitical and economic goals is reflected by the inclusion of the project as part of China’s 13th five-year development plan. Should all the planned projects be implemented, the value of those projects would be equal to all foreign direct investment in Pakistan since 1970,  and would be equivalent to 17% of Pakistan’s 2015 gross domestic product. Pakistan estimates the corridor project will create some 700,000 direct jobs between 2015–2030 and add up to 2.5 percentage points to the country’s growth rate.

Infrastructure projects under the aegis of CPEC will span the length and breadth of Pakistan, and will eventually link the Pakistani city of Gwadar in southwestern to China’s northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang via a vast network of highways and railways.  Proposed infrastructure projects are worth approximately $11 billion, and will be financed by heavily-subsidized concessionary loans at an interest rate of 1.6% that will be dispersed to the Government of Pakistan by the Exim Bank of China, China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.Makran-Coastal-Highway-Project

As part of infrastructure projects worth approximately $11 billion, an 1,100 kilometre long motorway will be constructed between the cities of Karachi and Lahore, while the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded to allow for train travel at up to 160 kilometres per hour by December 2019. Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar. A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil will also be laid as part of the project, including a $2.5 billion pipeline between Gwadar and Nawabshah to transport gas from Iran.

Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure will be constructed by private consortia to help alleviate Pakistan’s chronic energy shortages, which regularly amount to over 4,500MW, and have shed an estimated 2-2.5% off Pakistan’s annual GDP. With approximately $33 billion expected to be invested in energy sector projects, power generation assumes an important role in the CPEC project. Over 10,400MW of energy generating capacity is to be developed between 2018 and 2020 as part of the corridor’s fast-tracked “Early Harvest” projects. Projects in Gwadar Port and City.Golden Ark Highway

Gwadar Port has been partially operational since 2007.
Gwadar forms the crux of the CPEC project, as it is envisaged to be the link between China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project, and its Maritime Silk Road project. In total, more than $1 billion worth of projects are to be developed around the port of Gwadar by December 2017.

Project financing

Loans to the Pakistani Government

Approximately $11 billion worth of infrastructure projects being developed by the Pakistani government will be financed by concessionary loans, with interest rates of 1.6%, after Pakistan successfully lobbied the Chinese government to reduce interest rates from an initial 3%.The loans are subsidised by the government of China, and are to be dispersed by the Exim Bank of China and the China Development Bank. For comparison, loans for previous Pakistani infrastructure projects financed by the World Bank carried an interest rate between 5% and 8.5%, while interest rates on market loans approach 12%.

The loan money would be used to finance projects which are planned and executed by the Pakistani government. Portions of the approximately $6.6 billion Karachi–Lahore Motorway are already under construction. The $2.5 billion phase which will connect the city of Multan to the city of Sukkur over a distance of 387 kilometres has also been approved, with 90% of costs to be financed by the Chinese government at 1.6% interest rates, while the remaining 10% is to be financed by the Public Sector Development Programme of the Pakistani government.

The 487 kilometre portion of the Northern Alignment between Burhan and Raikot will be reconstructed at a cost of $920 million, and will be financed by the China Development Bank.

The long-planned 27.1 km long $1.6 billion Orange Line of the Lahore Metro is regarded as a commercial project project, and does not qualify for the Exim Bank’s 1.6% interest rate. It will instead by financed at a 2.4% interest rate after China agreed to reduce interest rates from an originally planned rate of 3.4%.

The $44 million Cross Border Optic Fiber Project, a 1,300 km long fibre optic wire connecting Pakistan and China, will be constructed using concessionary loans at an interest rate of 2%, rather than the 1.6% rate applied to other projects.

Special interest-free loans for Gwadar

The government of China in August 2015 announced that concessionary loans for several projects in Gwadar totalling $757 million would be converted 0% interest loans. The projects which are now to financed by the 0% interest loans include: the construction of the $140 million Eastbay Expressway project, installation of breakwaters in Gwadar which will cost $130 million, a $360 million coal power plant in Gwadar, a $27 million project to dredge berths in Gwadar harbour, and a $100 million 300-bed hospital in Gwadar. Pakistan will only repay the principle on these loans.

In September 2015, the government of China also announced that the $230 million Gwadar International Airport project would no longer be financed by loans, but would instead be constructed by grants which the government of Pakistan will not be required to repay.

Loans to private consortia

$15.5 billion worth of energy projects are to be constructed by joint Chinese-Pakistani firms, rather than by the governments of either China or Pakistan. The Exim Bank of China will finance those investments at 5–6% interest rates, while the government of Pakistan will be contractually obliged to purchase electricity from those firms at pre-negotiated rates.

As an example, the 1,223MW Balloki Power Plant does not fall under the concessionary loan rate of 1.6%, as the project is not being developed by the Pakistani government. Instead, it is considered to be a private sector investment as its construction will be undertaken by a consortium of Harbin Electric and Habib Rafiq Limited after they successfully bid against international competitors. Chinese state-owned banks will provide loans to the consortium that are subsidised by the Chinese government. In the case of the Balloki Power Plant, state-owned banks will finance the project at an interest rate of 5%, while the Pakistani government will purchase electricity at the lowest bid rate of 7.973 cents per unit.

Asian Development Bank assistance

While the E-35 expressway is considered to be a crucial part of the route between Gwadar and China, the E35 will not be financed by CPEC funds. The project will instead be financed by the Asian Development Bank.

The N70 project is not officially a part of CPEC but will connect the CPEC’s Western Alignment to the Karachi-Lahore Motorway at Multan. The project will be financed as part of a $195 million package by the Asian Development Bank announced in May 2015 to upgrade the N70 National Highway and N50 National Highway. In January 2016, The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development announced a $72.4 million grant to Pakistan for roadway improvements in the province of Balochistan, thereby reducing the total Asian Development Bank loan from $195 million to $122.6 million.

The M-4 Motorway between Faisalabad and Multan is not to be financed by the Chinese government as part of CPEC, but will instead be the first infrastructure project partially financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and will be co-financed along with the Asian Development Bank for a total of approximately $275 million. Portions of the project will also be funded by a $90.7 million grant announced in October 2015 by the government of the United Kingdom towards the construction of the Gojra-Shorkot section of the M4 Motorway project.

 

Controversy over finances

In addition to the aforementioned issues, some sources have inappropriately suggested that the interest rate for CPEC related loans would be high, with one Indian source suggesting that Pakistan had unwittingly accepted loans that would “be offered at very high rates of interest,” although the actual interest rates were negotiated prior to acceptance, and for most projects will be 1.6% Several articles in Pakistan have criticised the project’s finances as being shrouded in mystery, while one article suggested that “there is far too much secrecy and far too little transparency.” The Private Power and Infrastructure Board has also been accused of irregularities in the approval process for coal power plants and the tariffs at which Pakistan is contractually obliged to purchase electricity from those plants, with special concern regarding potential irregularities in the tariff approved for the 300MW coal power plant to be built in Pind Dadan Khan by China Machinery Engineering Corporation.

Geopolitical impact

CPEC is considered economically vital to Pakistan in helping it drive economic growth. China has expressed concern that some separatist groups in Xinjiang may be collaborating with insurgents in Pakistan, and has expressed a desire to strengthen security ties.6086978

Opposition from Baloch nationalists

Baloch nationalists have expressed opposition to the project, stating that any large-scale development in the province would eventually lead to local residents “losing control” over natural resources. Other Baloch nationalists view it as a “conspiracy” that would stimulate migration of people from other provinces and make the Baloch a minority in the province.

Former Chief Minister of Balochistan province, Akhtar Mengal, suggested at a political rally in November 2015, that execution of CPEC projects would eventually result in ethnic Baloch being denied entry into the city, though no statements have been made in either Pakistan or China that would suggest such an outcome. He did, however, clarify that he would not oppose development projects in the province that he believed would uplift the plight of local residents. Shortly thereafter, the Pakistani government announced its intention to establish a training institute named Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar which is to be completed by March 2016 at the cost of 943 million rupees to impart skills to local residents to train them to operate machinery at the port.

Indian objections to CPEC

The Government of India, which shares tense relations with Pakistan, regards portions of the CPEC project negatively as they pass through disputed territory which is claimed by India. Former Indian ambassador, Phunchok Stobdan, alleged that China and Pakistan intended to develop the corridor not just for its economic benefits, but also is motivated by the “strategic intent of besieging India,” though he also stated that India can do little to scuttle CPEC, and that avoiding China’s One Road One Belt project altogether would be to the detriment of India.

During the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in 2015, the Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj reportedly told Chinese Premier Xi Jinping that projects passing through Gilgit-Baltistan are “unacceptable” as they require road construction in territory India regards as its own. India’s Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also confirmed that the issue had been raised with the Chinese government on the trip.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs in May 2015 also summoned the Chinese envoy in New Delhi to lodge India’s opposition to the project. The Chinese Premier dismissed the concerns, describing CPEC as a “commercial project” that would not target any third party.

In March 2016, Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in reference to China’s ambitions One Road One Belt project and CPEC, stated that India’s vision of Asian connectivity was that of a consultative process rather than that of “unilateral decisions,” and that they should not “add to regional tensions.”

Despite objections, segments of the Indian public, as exemplified by former Indian Ambassador Melkulangara Bhadrakumar, regard the project as in India’s interest vis-a-vis Central Asia, and warn that India might “lose heavily” were India to remain opposed and isolated from the project.

In March 2016, Pakistan announced that it had arrested a suspected spy from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, Kulbhushan Yadav, who Pakistan accused of entering Pakistan from Iran specifically to destabilise regions in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province to hinder implementation of CPEC projects.

Evidence Noah’s Flood Happened, Says Robert Ballard

The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood is one of the most famous from the Bible, and now an acclaimed underwater archaeologist thinks he has found proof that the biblical flood was actually based on real events.

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News, Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, talked about his findings. His team is probing the depths of the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey in search of traces of an ancient civilization hidden underwater since the time of Noah.

Ballard’s track record for finding the impossible is well known. In 1985, using a robotic submersible equipped with remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew hunted down the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

Now Ballard is using even more advanced robotic technology to travel farther back in time. He is on a marine archeological mission that might support the story of Noah. He said some 12,000 years ago, much of the world was covered in ice.

According to a controversial theory proposed by two Columbia University scientists, there really was one in the Black Sea region. They believe that the now-salty Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland, until it was flooded by an enormous wall of water from the rising Mediterranean Sea. The force of the water was two hundred times that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away everything in its path.

Fascinated by the idea, Ballard and his team decided to investigate.

“We went in there to look for the flood,” he said. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.”

Four hundred feet below the surface, they unearthed an ancient shoreline, proof to Ballard that a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, Ballard said he believes they have established a timeline for that catastrophic event, which he estimates happened around 5,000 BC. Some experts believe this was around the time when Noah’s flood could have occurred.

Back in the Black Sea, Ballard said he is aware that not everyone agrees with his conclusions about the time and size of the flood, but he’s confident he’s on the path to finding something from the biblical period.

“We started finding structures that looked like they were man-made structures,” Ballard said. “That’s where we are focusing our attention right now.”

At first Ballard’s team found piles of ancient pottery, but then they made an even more important discovery. Last year, Ballard discovered a vessel and one of its crew members in the Black Sea.

“That is a perfectly preserved ancient shipwreck in all its wood, looks like a lumber yard,” he said. “But if you look closely, you will see the femur bone and actually a molar.”

The shipwreck was in surprisingly good condition, preserved because the Black Sea has almost no oxygen in it, which slows down the process of decay, but it does not date back as far as the story of Noah.

“The oldest shipwreck that we have discovered so far of that area is around 500 BC, classical period,” Ballard said. “But the question is you just keep searching. It’s a matter of statistics.”

Still, Ballard said the find gives him hope that he will discover something older “because there, in fact, the deep sea is the largest museum on Earth,” he said.

Ballard does not think he will ever find Noah’s Ark, but he does think he may find evidence of a people whose entire world was washed away about 7,000 years ago. He and his team said they plan to return to Turkey next summer.

“It’s foolish to think you will ever find a ship,” Ballard said, referring to the Ark. “But can you find people who were living? Can you find their villages that are underwater now? And the answer is yes.”

Our Idea of India

We the students of History, in strong terms condemn the authoritarian abuse of the basic human rights and civil liberties that is being carried out in the name of nationalism. As students of History we hold the idea of critical spirit in high esteem and refrain from categorizing the dynamic ideas of nation, nationalism and patriotism in narrow criteria limited by the understanding and the benefit of one section of the population. We enquire into the possibilities of understanding a single concept through various diverse aspects and in the process we, more often than not, contradict ourselves and when we do, we don’t stop, we work towards a solution, this ‘working towards a solution in our opinion reflects the idea that we call India.

A political miracle, India, for us is reflected in dialectic interaction of various strands of thought. It is this privilege of being able to disagree with the powerful is what is under threat due to authoritarian acts of arresting a student leader, stifling critical voices and maiming our beloved democracy. Self-criticism is one of the major elements that push the human race forward and it is this right that is being denied to us. We condemn this act and we struggle towards a society where self-criticism and debate is appreciated and upheld. We work towards what Constitution of India has promised to us. For us the Indian Nation is manifestation of dialogue and debate on every aspect, it is only through this spirit of dialogue and debate that a diverse country like India has come into being and has survived. We uphold the idea of India, We struggle for its survival. It is the Rule of Law based on Justice that we struggle for not Rule of Fear.

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