Mumbai terror attack survivor to be flag bearer at London 2012 Olympics

A British Asian man who narrowly escaped death and feared he may never walk again after being shot at in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has been selected as a flag bearer at the London 2012 Olympics. Chartered surveyor Harnish Patel was fired at by gunmen while dining at Leopold Cafe on that horrific night of 2008 when Pakistani terrorists besieged the city. With bullet wounds to his legs and chest and in chronic pain, Patel was operated on at a Mumbai hospital before being airlifted back to the UK.

Patel, a British Asian of East African Indian heritage who lives in Hampshire, will now be one of 176 members of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) to raise flags at the Team Welcome and Victory ceremonies of the London 2012 Games this summer.

Patel joined HMS King Alfred, Portsmouth as a British Royal Navy Reservist 18 months ago. The Reservists are a part-time force deployed with the British Royal Navy in times of humanitarian crisis or conflict. They wear the same uniform and do much of the same training as the Regulars.

"I guess part of the reason I was selected was because of my recovery and how I have managed to pick things back up again and move on following the Mumbai attacks, " he explains.

As he lay in the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, doctors could not give him any indication of how well he would recover and whether he would walk again. But through "sheer grit, determination and focus, " once back in England, he went from a walking frame to crutches, to swimming on crutches. Three months after he came off his crutches, he took part in a five mile race, followed by a duathlon. He then ran in various long-distance races in the UK culminating in his first marathon, the London Marathon in April 2010, which he finished in three hours 10 minutes, one of the best in his age group. Patel says: "After being stitched back together, I had two options, pick myself up or roll over - the latter was not an option. "

"I guess being chosen as a flag bearer is also connected to my long-distance running and my charity work, as I raised £2, 000 (Rs 1. 6 lakh ) for the British Red Cross in the 2010 London Marathon, " the 32-year-old adds.

He says he is "pretty chuffed" that he has been selected. "It's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's a real privilege, " he explains. "I'm really proud to be able to represent the Royal Navy and to be involved in the Olympics. I hope that other people will draw inspiration from my story and experiences. It would be particularly special for me to raise a flag at the Paralympic to see how other people have come through adversity and coped with their different life conditions, " he adds. As for whether he would like to one day compete in the Olympics, Patel, who is currently training for the 2012 London Marathon in April, chuckles: "I think I would have to crank up my training a bit more. I don't think I'm Olympic standard. " There will be 805 victory medal ceremonies at the Olympics. Patel is part of one of eight Royal Navy teams who will raise the flags at these ceremonies dressed in ceremonial day uniforms. Patel will be among the servicemen and women raising flags during the The Team Welcome ceremonies as well. "The flag-raising duties at Olympic and Paralympic Games are seen as an honour but we are in fact honoured to have these inspirational men and women be part of London 2012, " says Sebastian Coe, chairman of the Games' organising committee.

NIT Silchar to launch solar power plant


KARIMGANJ: To promote alternative and renewable energy, National Institute of Technology, Silchar will operationalize its ownsolar power plant on Saturday.
The plant will have an initial capacity of 10 MW and the plan is to ramp it up to 100 MW in future, director of NIT, Silchar, N V Deshpande said. NIT Silchar will be the second such institute to have its own power plant after NIT Pune.
"The core message is that with the success stories of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in this important sector of energy, other states should follow the example," Deshpande said.

School dropout rate remain high in Assam: CAG report

GUWAHATI: For long, militant outfits recruited cadres from among the large number of school dropouts in the state. Militancy may have been contained to a large extent now, but theComptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit has shown that the number of school dropouts remains high despite the national policy to guarantee universal elementary education to children between six and fourteen years. 

The CAG report revealed that 78 schools in the state have teachers on roll but no students. In 18 of these schools with no students, there are 33 teachers while the education department has no information about the remaining 60 schools. "The authorities have not ascertained the reasons for not having any students in these schools," the report said. 

The CAG stated that the target for achieving the goal of universal elementary education was 2005, but "even at the end of March 2011, 1.25 lakh out of 58.86 lakh children remained uneducated in Assam". "The target of universal retention by 2010 was also not achieved due to the dropout rate of 8.3% in lower primary schools and 15.2% in upper primary schools as of March, 2011," the CAG stated. 

"Despite incurring an expenditure of Rs 12,631.47 crore (department of elementary education Rs 9,851.50 crore and Sarba Siksha Abhiyan Mission, Assam Rs 2,779.97 crore) during 2006-2011 on elementary education, there was a declining trend in enrollment and high dropout rate of students in the state," the CAG report that was tabled in the house on Friday stated. 

The CAG report pointed out that the poor performance of the education department was due to inadequate infrastructural facilities in schools, shortage of new schools as per norms, inadequacy in training of teachers, poor management of mid-day meal scheme, absence of effective mechanism of tracking and enrollment of out-of-school children, uneven deployment of teachers, high pupil teacher ratio and irregular supply of free text books. 

The CAG observed that the education department was yet to convert 33.26% (13,616) school building into pucca structures while 8.69% (3,557) schools were not provided with drinking water facility and 40.18% (16,449) schools had no girl's toilet. "About 90.60% (37,086) schools were not supplied with electricity and 18.26% (7474) lower primary schools have one teacher to teach five classes in a single room," the report said.

AIUDF boycotts Assam Assembly over Speaker’s remarks


Guwahati: Enraged by some ‘unparliamentary’ remarks of the Speaker in Assam Assembly on Tuesday, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the main opposition party, first walked out of the house and then announced to boycott the session until the Speaker expunged the ‘unparliamentary’ remarks from the records of the proceeding. Along with AIUDF, Members of BJP and AGP also walked out of the house.
AIUDF had raised the issue of erosion and discrimination in compensation to the victims and sought reply from the Congress government. Unsatisfied with the reply from Irrigation Minister Ardhendu Kumey Dey, members of AIDUF stormed the well of the house shouting slogans. At this the Speaker made some remarks, which Sirajuddin Ajmal, opposition leader and floor leader of AIUDF, said are highly objectionable and they must be withdrawn.
Talking to TCN over phone, Sirajuddin Ajmal said: There is clear discrimination in compensation amount given to victims of erosion in Upper Assam and Lower Assam. While each affected family of Upper Assam gets Rs 25,000 and half bigha agricultural land while victims of the same tragedy in Lower Assam (which is dominated by Muslims) get Rs 5,000 and two bundles of tins. We raised this issue of blatant discrimination in the house. We asked the government to first accept it and remove the discrimination and second come up with time-bound solution to the erosion. But the government did not give any satisfactory reply and then we started speaking against the government. At this time the Speaker Pranab Gogoi used some unpleasant words against us.
Ajmal said that he has decided that his party MLAs will boycott the session until the remarks are not withdrawn. “We will not attend the assembly until the remarks are expunged from the records of the house proceedings,” said Ajmal, brother of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, MP and chief of AIUDF.
He said till evening he has not got any call from the Speaker’s office to resolve the issue.

United People's Front to support anti-dam agitation


GUWAHATI:(GMA) The ongoing anti-mega dam campaign in the state is set to get more support from Wednesday onwards with the newly-formed political party, the United People's Front (UPF), announcing that it will join the anti-big dam lobby.
UPF, which decided not to resort to any roadblocking programmes, is going to sit for a 30-hour fast starting Wednesday. The fasting demonstration will start at Dighalipukhuri.
"As announced, we have decided to join the anti-dam campaign and our first protest demonstration is going to be launched on Wednesday. Participants and party members from across the state are going to join in the hunger strike," saidparty chief Holiram Terang, in a press conference here. Along with Akhil, there are other parties that are blocking the roads in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur. But we have not decided to join them there. We will sit here and protest. Dispur should do a rethink on the mega-dam construction issue. We are going to take up more programmes to rock the capital here," added Terang.
UPF was formed by some veteran politicians of the state and claimed to fill the vacuum of a third front in the state.

Google inc: Include Assamese as an optional language in Google products


Why This Is Important
Assamese ( Ôxômiya) (IPA: [ɔxɔmija]) is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language. It is used mainly in the state of Assam in North-East India. It is the official language of Assam. It is also spoken in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeast Indian states. It is spoken by over 20 million people and has 16.8 million native speakers (http://www.lisindia.net/Assamese/Assa_demo.html) . Assamese as a spoken, written, and literary language has a rich history. However, that richness for various reasons is not well represented on the Internet. There is a general tendency to assume that Assamese language is a subset of the Bengali language,which is 100% wrong.
We, hereby request Google to include Assamese as optional language in it's products and to develop automatic translation toolkit for Assamese language.

Assam Rifles organises medical camp in Manipur


Imphal (Manipur): A team of medical officers and paramedical staff of 24 Assam Rifles organised a medical camp here on Sunday.
Specialist doctors in the field of pediatrics, medicine, surgery and dentistry examined more than 200 patients and distributed free of cost medicines to the locals.
Villagers thronged the medical camp and were elated to get free check up by specialized army doctors.
"The medical camp has benefited us a lot. We got free medical check up and we are getting medicines as well. I have eyes problem, so I came here for eye treatment and other problems due to climate change. I got spectacles here. I hope to be better after taking their medicines," said a local, Henminthang Haokip.

Crimes against women on the rise in Assam


Guwahati : Despite the Assam and central governments investing huge amounts of money for the modernization of the state police forces, the crime rate, particularly crimes against women, has been on the rise in Assam.
A total of 7,164 rape cases were registered in various police stations in Assam during the last five years - between January 2006 and December 2011. According to official records, a total of 11,553 women were kidnapped during this period in the state.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain gave the shocking details in the state assembly Monday on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is also in-charge of the state home department.
"The state police have arrested 5,663 criminals during the period regarding the rape cases while a total of 7,021 criminals have been nabbed regarding the women abduction cases," said the minister.

Assam police on high alert on Ulfa raising day


GUWAHATI, A high alert has been sounded in Assam in view of the banned Ulfa's foundation day on April 7.
"A high alert has been sounded to thwart possible attacks by the Ulfa in the run up to the foundation day", the police said here today.
Security has been tightened throughout the state, particulary vulnerable Ulfa-dominated areas of upper Assam and lower Assam's Dhubri district and entry and exit points of important towns have been sealed, they said.

Anna Hazare back at his favourite fast venue, blasts Govt over whistleblowers


New Delhi, 26 March

Social activist and Gandhian Anna Hazare on Sunday returned to his favourite mode of protest -- hunger strike -- in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar after his flop show in Mumbai three months ago, this time protesting against the "deaf and dumb" government which is "not doing anything" to protect whistleblowers fighting corruption.
Hazare, after his usual visit to Rajghat before any such protest in Delhi, came to the capital's dharna hotspot Jantar Mantar at around 11 AM to loud cheers from tricolour-wielding anti-corruption supporters and chants of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.
His day-long fast was to demand justice for slain IPS officer Narendra Kumar and a strong law to protect whistleblowers.
Family members of some of the whistleblowers who were killed while fighting corruption, including that of IPS officer Narendra Kumar murdered allegedly by mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh, were also present.