DakshinaChitra – More than a Museum

Just beside exciting MGM Dizzee Wolrd on the ECR Road, there lies even more enthralling DakshinaChitra museum. It is a heritage site which preserves and protects South Indian culture. Both the Visual arts and performing arts are vividly exhibited in the 10 Acre sprawling area. The uniqueness of this museum lies in the way arts and artefacts are being exhibited. The culture of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka are depicted in the houses built by the organization. Each house was bought from a specific district which was the epicentre of a particular culture. They were then dismantled and then rebuilt at the museum.

The museum was conceptualized by Madras Craft Foundation, an NGO working to protect and preserve Indian culture. Later, with the grace of different organizations, the museum is still lively. Not only it depicts a wide range of arts, the museum also acts as a platform for many villagers to showcase their talent and sell their arts/artefacts. It gives the opportunity for the customers to buy genuine products directly from the artists. The performances such as traditional puppet show and dance shows from various states entertain the viewers. Also, a small glimpse of traditional games such as spin tops, break pots and board games evoke the nostalgia of childhood memories.

A major portion of the museum is allotted to the home state i.e., Tamil Nadu. The culture is highlighted in various houses. An Agraharam Brahmin house, the Ambur Art Gallery, weaver’s house from Kanchipuram Dist., and an agriculturist’s house from Thanjavur Dist are perfectly replicated. The Kalamkari art is also exhibited along with the process of weaving the Kalamkari saris. All the arts highlight the diversity of the rich heritage around us. For Kerala, the museum replicated Hindu and Syrian Christian houses. The way in which the people of Kerala adopts to the hot and humid climate can be understood through the houses built in the museum. Karnataka’s culture is exhibited through traders and weavers house from Chikmagalur and Bagalkot’s Districts respectively. For Andhra Pradesh, a typical Reddy’s house is portrayed.

DakshinChitra is around 36kms from Koyambedu Bus stand and can be easily reached by car or bus as it is on East Coast Road (ECR). Few kinds of traditional foods are available inside the museum and it also has got a family restaurant. It would atleast take half a day to cover the whole place. The museum is a must watch place for people interested in culture. It also provides a chance to create awareness on the forgotten culture to the younger generation.

Myanmar crisis: What changed Indian stand from 1971 to 2017

During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, around 1 crore refugees migrated from Bangladesh to India. The then Indira Gandhi government supported their movement for an Independent nation and waged a war against Pakistan. We won the war and the East Pakistan transformed into today’s Bangladesh. But, what changed India’s stand from 1971 to 2017? India went against the whole world in supporting the Myanmar government to curtail the activities of Rohingyas. India opposed a Bali Declaration which “called upon all the parties to show respect to Rohingyas in the Rakhine state regardless of their faith and ethnicity.” India supported the cause of Bengali Hindus but opposed the aspirations of Rohingya Muslims to form their own nation.

According to Al-Jazeera, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They are concentrated in eastern part of Myanmar and their population is around 10-12 lakhs. There exists a long battle between minority Buddhists in Rakhine state and the Rohingyas. Religious tensions have been recently increased which led to incessant influx migrants into Bangladesh territory. According to UN report, around 3 lakh Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape the atrocities committed by the Myanmar’s government. The irony is that Myanmar is a Buddhist dominated country and led by a Noble Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. The government is in a constant war with Arankan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – an armed rebellion group which represents the minority Rohingyas. But, the Myanmar’s government is going beyond their call of duty in restricting the flow of immigrants. According to Amnesty International, the government is implanting landmines across the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to restrict the migration. This is an outright Human Rights Violation.

India is unconditionally supporting the Myanmar’s government. Indeed, the long held Indian stance and strong ties between the governments is compelling the Modi government to support Nay Pyi Taw. India is also aware of the strengthening relationship between China and Myanmar. India can be easily replaced with China in case we do not support the Myanmar’s government. Supporting Rohingyas will also mean that India is in principle open to the concept of forming new nations. This stance would contradict India’s stand on the demand for separate Kashmir and North Eastern states. Also, supporting ARSA would mean that India is encouraging terrorism in the foreign lands. So, India had no other choice but to support Myanmar’s government. But, India could have extended categorical support instead of unconditional. Gandhi used to say that a person has to be separated from her work to maintain cordial relationship. To foster a relationship, unjustified actions ought to be highlighted and criticised.

Though the governments may give umpteen number of reasons, the underlying reason is only political and religious. BJP is predominantly projected as Hindu nationalist party. Supporting a Muslim cause may risk the ire of its supporters. This phenomenon is also evident with the support of Israeli government. Israel is a Jewish dominated country and opposes Muslim organisations mostly due to Palestine issue. So, there is no wonder that the Israel is funding Myanmar’s Junta (army). In 1971, we supported Bengali Hindus but in 2017, we are averse to the subjugation of minority Muslims. India had a great history of supporting world causes bereft of our self-interest. Taking forward this unhindered legacy, we should atleast oppose the blatant subjugation of innocent Rohingyas.

Hear the Whimper of our Rivers

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As it’s always said, “The progress of rivers to the ocean is not as rapid as that of man to error”. Rivers have seen huge depletion from the past one century.

“Bindhya Himācala Yamunā Gaṅgā Ucchalajaladhitaraṅga” a country proud of its rivers and their heritage, a country which is both divided and united by rivers, a country whose origins were on the banks of a river called Indus, India. Rivers have changed the life of people. As they changed their course, so did the civilizations.

Rivers are no longer seen as abundant natural resources. They are private properties, sources for authority and possessions of states. All the rivers in India either flow into Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal and there are some rivers which flow into Inner parts of India. With seven major rivers (Indus, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Krishna and Mahanadi) and their tributaries Indian River system is a host to one of the most fertile lands in the world.

We need not list down the factors that cause the depletion of rivers. We have heard enough about polluting the rivers, global warming, filling the river area with landfills and what not. To just understand few facts here, in the 70 years of Indian freedom the depletion of rivers has successfully been 70%. The per capita availability of water now is 1588m^3 which was as high as 5200m^3 in 1951 with year on year depletion rate at 8%. Where are we leading this to? A seasonal river flow or extinction of rivers? The most sacred river for Indians, the Ganga is listed amongst one of the most endangered rivers in the world.

Greatest civilizations like Harappa and Mohenjodaro vanished as the course of rivers along which they developed has changed. India owns only 4% of the total water available in the world and this is not just for drinking purpose, it also has to be used for agriculture, industrial purposes and household needs.

The only answer for all these problems is clearly known, taught, forced to follow and even told as tales. It’s the “trees”. It is high time to say an answer to people who say “As there is no water there are no trees in our region” it’s time to answer them telling “As there are no trees in your region there is no water”. Save trees need not necessarily mean planting trees. Understanding which products are made of trees and finding a renewable alternative for the same or conservative usage of those products can also make you a part of the mission to save the world for your children and their children.

In support of “Rally for Rivers – Lifelines of India” a campaign by Isha foundation headed by Sadhguru has come up with a plan to rejuvenation of the Indian rivers. “Everyone who consumes water must rally for Rivers” is a call given by Sadhguru. Even if you can’t make some time for this campaign any smallest act to save water and trees will together change the conditions of life for our future generations.

Article Written by Bommineni Jyothirmaie Reddy

The Hegemony of Feminism

Feminism as an idea has emerged through the ages. Started as a campaign to assert the basic Rights of women, the idea of feminism has been exploited by a few. Christine de Pizan was considered as the first writer ‘to take up her pen to defend her sex’ in 15th Century. Later, the first wave of feminism began in late 19th century to assert political rights (Right to vote and Representation). Adding on to this, the second wave of feminism began in late 20th century to assert sexuality, workplace and reproductive rights. The demands are evolving with the time and it is beneficial for the society. All these reasonable demands can be genuinely addressed with political will, but in the name of dignity, there are few under carpet demands which ought to be blatantly opposed.

A World Bank study in 2001 found that for every one standard deviation increase in female representation in Parliament, there would be 20% reduction in corruption. But a recent study points out that the impact of gender on depends on the societal norms. If the corruption is widely accepted in a society, then women tend to be as corrupt as men. Those women who successfully climbed the ladder by asserting their rights are not averse to the greed of money. It will definitely not hold to everyone. But, while demanding for their rights and dignity, are women forgetting the cost of assertion? Is it resulting in selfish feminism?

Few women emphasize their rights only when they need it. This irony can sometimes be observed around us. It is always an issue if someone asks dowry to marry ‘her’. But when it comes to her brother, he should be ‘well paid’ as he is the sole breadwinner. It is completely fine if her father accepts a bribe to buy her a new iPad. But, it is a big issue when a Chandigarh police officer accepts the bribe and refuses to file a FIR. She also demands a better earning husband though she has access to similar resources. Only when a husband earns more than her, he deserves the respect. Sometimes, even the concern for her security is being viewed as imposition of patriarchal norms by her parents.

The demand for 33% women reservation in legislature, entry of women into temples, stringent norms against marital rapes are all valid. From abolishing Sati to passing a strong Nirbhaya Act, Indian feminism has pocketed many successes. However, different levels of intervention are needed for different geographies, religions and castes across India. Sex ratio is skewed in Haryana where the sex selective abortions are rampant. So, government duty is to fight against female foeticide in these parts of the states. In rural areas, the patriarchal norms are still rampant. Here, the cultural intervention by NGOs is necessary. Muslim women face even more subjugation. Thankfully, Supreme Court abolished Triple Talaq and provide them a hope in Indian Legal system.

A wide range of disparities in Indian society is the dilemma for most of the feminists. As women gain more power and respect in the society, they should not forget the fact that their fight is for EQUALITY and not for HEGEMONY.

Let’s get ready to embrace new norms !!

Three recent complimentary Supreme Court (SC) judgements have broadened the liberal nature of Indian society. Judgments on Triple Talaq, Right to Privacy and Section 377 sent very strong messages to the government and the society at large.

Triple Talaq was declared unconstitutional as it is not a Fundamental Right under Indian Constitution. Article 25 specifies that every citizen has the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of Religion. But, Triple Talaq invalidates the marriage without any reconciliation between the spouses. Supreme Court highlighted the patriarchal nature of the practice and now empowers women to have a fair divorce. The baton is now passed on to the Parliament for the appropriate legislature.

In another judgement, SC declared Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right. The judgement is based on the premise that the privacy is the inherent and natural right of every human being. SC has just made it explicit by recognizing it as Fundamental Right. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees Protection of life and Personal Liberty. Right to privacy is now a part of it. Article 21 has been evolved with the changing patterns of the society and the addition of Right to Privacy is a mere affirmation to liberal values. For example, Right to go abroad and Right against public hanging, Right against delayed execution have been recognized as part of Fundamental Right under Article 21. SC also validated the use of Aadhar for purposes other than Welfare activities. Thus, providing respite to the government.

In line with these decisions, Section 377, which criminalizes the homosexuality, was struck down by SC. By saying that the law affected a Minuscule population, SC had done a grave mistake of going against the basic principle of Democracy. Now that it has corrected its mistake, the insensitive law is buried passing on smiles to LGBT community. Though the population of LGBT community is unknown, going with US numbers, it might be around 10% of total population. As a collective society, we should try to accommodate these minorities. Further, the constitution just recognises linguistic and religious minorities. It’s time to recognize the minorities based on sexuality.

Above judgements have socio economic and political repercussions. The government may have to invest heavily in infrastructure for securing the digital data collected. The litigation costs for the government may also go high in case it has to go against big corporate giants (Google, Facebook). They are alleged to have collected a large amount of inappropriate data for their business needs. Abolition of Triple Talaq strengthens government resolution to push for Uniform Civil Code. Political leverage can be garnered among the Hindus by BJP. And the economic consequences of recognizing Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right is still unknown. Also, as a society, we need to broaden our thoughts, open our hearts, extend our hands and pull the LGBT community on board to integrate the nation.

Food wastage – A leading cause of poverty

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It’s said that there is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than in a poor man’s plate. In a world covered with 31% forest area, 13.5% of the population suffer undernourishment. Almost one third of the food produced around the world is never consumed.

The Global Report on Food Crisis, 2017 compiles the food insecurity around the world every year. This year four countries – South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, North East Nigeria are identified as possible countries to be affected by famine. If you had ever heard of a country called Yemen, it has 27.58 million population with 14.1 million people suffering from the food crisis which is as high as 50%.

A country might go into a food crisis due to different reasons. It might be due to armed conflicts (Yemen- 3.2M/14.1M) or natural disasters. Food insecurity is generally measured on a scale of < 0.5->2.0. Most of the African countries fall into this bracket along with countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Afghanistan and Burma. The situation in Africa is further worsened by the superstitious beliefs like accusing the children of witch craft and deserting them away from the normal society.

Each year approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is getting wasted in the world accounting to $990 billion dollars each year. On a happy note, the wastage per capita in South Asian countries is approximately 6-11Kgs when compared to 95-115Kgs in Europe and North America. This scarcity is resulting in one person’s death in every 3.6 seconds out of which 75% are children. To give a frame of reference, in Europe an average person wastes 375 boxes of meals per year. This is throwing a meal box every day.
Though Indian Food Security Law covers 67% of the population, the right to highly subsidised food grains, 25% of the world’s hungry poor still stay in India. Laws has been made to spend Rs.125000 Cr. each year for the supply of 62 million tonnes of basic grains. Yet, the time it will take and the funds required to change the current situation in India is still unpredictable. India has already seen 10 greatest famines in the history including the Bengal famine of 1943.

Food production also requires water. So, in a way, we waste water as well by wasting food. This water can serve all the world needs. To talk business, the production cost, manufacturing/processing cost, packaging cost, logistics cost and marketing cost everything goes waste. The major items that account into food wastage every year are the fruits and vegetables. So, what exactly can be done about this problem?

Here are some possible ways to avoid food wastage

  • Make better purchasing decisions – More conscious you are about your meal requirements, less tendency to buy excess grocery and lesser the wastage of food.
  • Recycling of food – Most of the famous food outlets now adopt food recycling techniques. Compact food recyclers are available for household usage
  • Serve smaller portions – In restaurants and at home, serve smaller portions which can reduce food wastage as you can always serve second time. Try to pack the leftover food at restaurants and donate to hungry on roads.
  • Better production and storage techniques – Higher yield and longer storage facilities can increase food production and time of consumption of the food.
  • Discounted price for unsellable but edible fruits or vegetables in super market. It is seen that fruits and vegetables of irregular shapes are not sold. These can be either sold at lower prices or donated to the needy.

In the history, Norman Borlaug, father of green revolution has saved 1 billion people from starvation by inventing modernised and advanced techniques to develop high yield variety of grains and fertilizers. M.S. Swaminathan played a crucial role in India by adopting the same and further developing High Yield Varieties of seeds. Verghese Kurien’s white revolution idea of Operation flood – world’s largest dairy development program also helped address the food crisis in the past.
If one cautious step of yours towards the food can save one life, it is definitely more sacred than any offering to god. As it is always said, helping hands are better than praying lips. It’s not the prayers that we need for those people its self-realization and awareness creation. There is enough food in this world. It just has to be utilised or served well.

Article Originally Written by Bommineni Jyothirmaie Reddy

Slowdown in economy is acceptable but not a death of single child

Heart thumping rhetoric by the government in guaranteeing the improvement in the standard of living is far from belief. The prospects of the GDP growth rate is at a lower end of expectation, the markets are saturated, and Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is declining. External factors can be blamed for all these developments. But, what about the disturbing death of 70 children at the Gorakhpur hospital. The inquiry report submitted by the District Magistrate blamed the Oxygen cylinder supplier and two doctors for the cause of death. However, the interim report submitted by the Magistrate stated that the deaths are due to uncontrolled events. It also shamelessly said that the deaths in 2017 are comparatively less than the previous year. And that there is some improvement in facilities provided.

According to a PwC report, India is set to reach the world’s third largest economy by 2030. The basic assumption in concluding this outcome is the strength of Indian youth. But, if we lose potential scientists, entrepreneurs and potential politicians at this pace, will we be able to achieve our aspirations? Just because the Oxygen cylinders are not provided by the supplier on time, we cannot afford to lose a life. The reasons like these are not acceptable from a place which acts as a referral Hospital to all the nearby villages. We are already losing two children per every hour. The Under-five mortality rate in India is 43 i.e., the probability that a child born in a specified year will die within 5 years of age is 43 per 1000 live births. A shocking figure to hear even after the celebration of 71st Independence Day

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution directs the government to strive for the childhood care. But, only 2.5% of India’s GDP is allocated to the health sector. It is grossly negligible. To put things in perspective, Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has diverted 13% of the funds to loan waiver schemes which are supposed to be allocated for Development. UP is the hub of communalism and it has developed the latest fad of protecting cows while their children are unable to walk out of hospitals in which they were born. The newly formed government should focus on strengthening the relationship of Mother and her child rather than separating people in ‘relationship.’ Only when the state resolves to focus on critical issues, the country will be prosperity.

India also has the credit of not achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to Child mortality rate. Here, the mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. We couldn’t reduce the mortality rate by two thirds by 2015 from 1990 levels. May be our beloved politicians neglected those little children as they do not possess voting rights. We need to take lessons from countries like Nigeria which was able to substantially control its Infant Mortality Rate through effective immunization. Here, we are unable to avoid Japanese Encephalitis, which is another cause of death in Gorakhpur. With one hand, we are bargaining for UN Permanent membership and with the other hand, we are killing our own children without supplying Oxygen cylinders. What an irony!!

Road Accidents in India – Reasons beyond comprehension

“Accidents, and particularly street and highway accidents, do not happen, they are caused” – Ernest Greenwood

Some people say that even your death should be an inspiration for others to live. Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak sacrificed their lives for the country. Soldiers across the borders leave their lives for protecting their mother country. But, there are around 6 lakh Indians who lose their life every year just because of over speeding. We, as a country, effectively fought against extreme famines in 1940s and 1970s. Successfully tackled Pakistan’s aggression and China’s rage. But, we are unable to address the domestic issue which is taking away thousands of lives every year.

‘Road Accidents in India-2015’ is the only publicly available latest government report. According to it, for every hour there are about 57 accidents leading to atleast 17 deaths. The number already sounds humongous, but a study conducted by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi inferred that the number of deaths would have been underestimated by a factor of 4. Which means that there are around 68 deaths per hour in our country. Out of which 77.7% are attributed to the negligence of driving/driver’s mistake. Since, government doesn’t like to blame itself for road accidents, let us bring down that number to 60%. So, around 40 people choose to die per hour in India. This figure is startling. Out of these, 61% are due to “Exceeding the lawful speed.” So, around 46% of the accidents happen just because we choose to drive with high speed. So, around 6 lakh people die every year just because they want to drive fast. Out of which majority are in the age group of 15 to 35.

There are many reasons for speeding on roads. It might be a mere thrill or it can even be an impending emergency. Whatever be the reason, nothing is more important than life. So, what we can do is to be aware of these accidents and to protect ourselves from road accidents. Analysis of available data on accidents may help us with the same:

  • Two wheelers accounted for most number of accidents (31.5%). Given a choice, a four wheeler would be a good option.
  • ‘Fault of other drivers’ and ‘bad weather conditions’ are next big reasons for cause of deaths. So, leave that Ego aside at least when you are driving.
  • Deaths due to overloaded vehicles are increasing year on year. Think twice before getting into that over-crowded share auto.
  • Junctions around the traffic signals account for the most number of deaths. So, just be aware before hitting the breaks.
  • Tamil Nadu accounts for highest number of road accidents. So, doing MBA here might have increased the probability of getting into an accident.
  • March and May account for the highest number of accidents all through the decades. Maybe there is some relation between Sun and accidents.
  • Time slot between 15:00 to 21:00 accounts for the most number of deaths.
  • Knowing this at the back of your mind may make you more cautious while driving at these hours.

Rahu or Kethu doesn’t stop you from getting into accidents. Only science will help. Probability of getting into an accident can be drastically reduced by being aware of the past incidents.

Have a safe journey!!

The Siliguri Corridor and the North-Eastern States

All you need to know about the strategic importance of North-East India

The Northeast India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. It accounts for 7.9% of total geographical area of the country and 3.77% of total population of India. It is one of the most bio diverse regions in the world with a forest cover of over 65%. However, the region accounts a little over 2.5% of India’s GDP. The Brahmaputra River makes it one of the most fertile lands and gives the country access to resources like uranium, coal, hydro-power, forests, oil and gas.

Northeast India is important in terms of the nation’s defence architecture. It is the gateway for India to the Southeast Asia and beyond. However, over the past few decades, several issues have boiled up in the region and threatens the national security of the country.

Let’s have a look in detail about the issues in Northeast.

The North-east states are connected with the rest of India via the “Siliguri Corridor” also known as the “chicken’s neck” – a narrow strip of land that is less than 27 km (17 mi) wide at its narrowest point. The region is bordered by Nepal from the North-West and Bangladesh from South and South-East and extends from the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Terai areas of West Bengal towards the North East. The region is heavily guarded by the Indian Army, BSF, Assam Rifles & West Bengal police due to its strategic importance – it is the hub of the rail and road network connecting the North East.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the Chinese made advanced into the Indian Territory and the unpreparedness of the Indian army was blamed on for the failure. But India learnt some major lessons after the war and it has enhanced the Indian army’s capabilities and preparedness in the region. The 1967 Nathu La conflict and the strategic outmaneuvering along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh in 1987 are examples of Indian Army’s befitting reply to the Chinese.

In 1991, India initiated the “Look East policy”, an effort to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia. This was to counterweight the strategic influence of the Chinese in the region. In 2014, PM Narendra Modi announced ‘Act East’ policy, an upgraded version of the ‘Look East’ policy. It will serve as a platform for deepening and strengthening the relationship with ASEAN and the East Asian economies.

Some analysts say that the reason behind the current Doklam plateau standoff between India and China is because of the strategic vulnerabilities of the Siliguri Corridor. By constructing a road in the Doklam region, the aim of the Chinese is to shift the tri-junction to Gamochen (currently at Doka La). If the Chinese extended their reach to Doklam Plateau, they would be easily able to cut of North East from the rest of India by attacking this region.

India will be in the same state of that of Pakistan in 1971. China has the ability to delink the North-East from the rest of India, just like how India help to create the sovereign independent nation-state of Bangladesh by delinking the former East Pakistan from West Pakistan.

The bigger question is whether the North East problem only a geographical issue ? Unfortunately, it’s not. There are historical reasons – most of the traditional tribes are largely of Tibeto-Burman/Mongoloid stock and closer to Southeast Asia than to South Asia. They are ethnically, linguistically and culturally very distinct from the other states of India.

The Naga insurgence known as the mother of the Northeast insurgencies, is one of the oldest unresolved armed conflicts in the world. It started in 1952, and the government sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act). It was the first time since independence that Indian Army was deployed to manage an internal conflict. However, the issues still remain unresolved.

In 1963, India granted statehood to the Naga people but the demand for independence has not vanished. Several conflicts and talks have taken place to resolve it. On 10th June 2015, India conducted surgical strikes against terrorist camps along the Indo-Myanmar international border in response to the attack on the Indian Army on 4th June 2015.

Arunachal Pradesh has been the hotbed of conflict between India and China. The Chinese claims the region and they had occupied the region in 1962 during the war. However, they withdrew from the region due to the lack of incentive and international pressure. In 2017, China had renamed six places in Arunachal Pradesh in an apparent retaliation against the Dalai Lama visit to the region.

Assam is another state that has witnessed conflicts. Illegal migrants from Bangladesh, drug smuggling and other criminal activities has led to many riots and conflicts in the region. Insurgency fuelled by demands of the Khasi, Synteng and Garo people for an independent state affects Meghalaya.

Another major issue is the “Gorkhaland issue” that has been brewing for few decades. The Gorkhaland Movement is focused in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal and demands the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland due to differences in ethnicity, culture and language. Gorkhaland is a strategic location due to the “Siliguri Corridor”. In 2017, the West Bengal government tried to crackdown protests conducted by pro-Gorkhaland supporters and it eventually lead to unrest in the region.

The unavailability of skilled labour and the lack of infrastructure in the NE region poses a further problem. In fact, there are also demands that a separate time zone be created for the North East. The Government has a huge work to be done in terms of resolving the complex issues. The present government is coming up with hydro-electricity and infrastructure project to improve development in the region. On 29th May 2017, the government inaugurated India’s longest 9.15-km river bridge connecting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh near the China border. The bridge can bear the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank and will provide a road-link to various strategic locations in the region and make civil and military movement easier.

India will have to continue to monitor the region for conflicts and try to resolve issues through dialogue and talks. India will have to protect the strategic Siliguri Corridor and monitor the Chinese influence and presence in the region. The Indian Air Force must be prepared for any attack or operation in the region (The IAF was not deployed in 1962 war). India must take steps to ensure Bhutan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutrality.

Do pen down your thoughts in the comment box below

Hacking into the Indian Flight Booking

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Flights are often the most expensive part of travel and most of us want to travel at the lowest cost as well as avail maximum service. People often are confused by the promotions provided by airlines and travel agents. This guide will provide you how you can book the cheapest flight in India:

Compare the prices: This might be the very straightforward thing that everyone does. There are popular flight compare websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, and Momondo that helps you compare the best prices. But here is the catch. They compare only popular flight ticketing platform. There may be other flight booking platform like Akbar travels that provide cheaper air tickets than Yatra.com, MakeMyTrip & Cleartrip etc. I would recommend you to try out Akbar travel and compare the fare of a flight with other popular platforms. You might be in for a surprise.

Find out the actual Price: Often, when you book tickets, the money that you end up paying would be higher than the actual fare. This is because of the taxes and value added services you choose while booking. While booking ensure that you choose the right options. Certain airlines provide student discount and you can avail extra baggage allowances without paying anything extra. Similarly, families and friends can also avail discounts. Ensure that you choose the right options before making the payment.

Some payment options would also charge you a convenience fee. Hence, ensure that you choose the right payment option. Use a proxy account to transfer the money to avail a cashback. You might be able to offset any extra charges.

Plan your booking: One of the fundas of flight booking – Book early. If you are booking atleast 8 weeks before your date of travel, you are sure to get the lowest fare. Mid-week is the best day of the week to purchase flight tickets. You will also find the cheapest fares on Wednesday. Or get ready to take the red-eye flight – flight departing late at night and arriving early the next morning.

You can also use a VPN to fake your location. Prices vary according to the IP Address location. But make sure that it’s not a “resident”-only fare. You may also have to pay in local currency.

Use the incognito mode. Why? Because travel events use your computer’s cookies to determine what kind of flight you’re interested in booking. Once they know what you’re looking for, they’ll raise prices accordingly. To prevent this from happening, you can either clear your browser cache or just open an incognito tab before starting the booking process.

Enrol for Frequent Flier Program: People often don’t know that most of the airlines in India offer a free membership to their Frequent Flier Program. Even though you are not a frequent flier, it is good to enrol with the membership program. People often forget to redeem miles. You will also be able to avail extra value added services in future when you travel.

You must also check with your bank to avail benefits while booking. Some credit card providers offer you cashback, discount or even free access to airport lounge.

Do you have any pro-tips for getting cheap airfare? Share them with us in the comments!