Three bodies of soldiers trapped in an avalanche in Kargil’s Batalik Sector were recovered on Friday, an Army spokesman told The Hindu.Unprecedented snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir triggered multiple avalanches in the Ladakh region. Five soldiers were trapped under snow when an Army post was hit in the Batalik sector and two were rescued.
A minor girl was kidnapped and raped by an unidentified man in Chandigarh on Tuesday when she was on her way to school to celebrate Independence Day.The victim, a Class VIII student of the government senior secondary school here was raped allegedly by a middle-aged man at the children’s traffic park, situated in the heart of the city, while she was going to her school enroute the park.The police said a case of rape and kidnapping has been registered following a complaint by the victim that she was sexually assaulted by a man, who fled the spot after committing the crime.Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Eish Singhal said the ”incident” took place at around 8:15 in the morning on Tuesday. “The girl was going to school and entered the park (children’s traffic park) from the back gate. An FIR has been registered under section 363, 376 of the Indian Penal Code, besides relevant sections of Protection Of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act,” he said. “We have rounded up few suspect and investigation is underway. The girl is stable, though she has been traumatised by the incident,” said Mr. Singhal.Police said the girl narrated the incident to her family, following which police was informed. The accused had dragged her into the ”nullah” (seasonal watercourse) that flows through the park, and sexually assaulted her, said Police sources.The police later took the victim to the government hospital in Sector 16 for a medical examination, which confirmed sexual assault.Replying to query that the victim was raped on a knife point, Mr. Singhal said ”it’s being investigated”.
Nagpur: One alleged member of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) was killed in an encounter with the police in Gadchiroli district of eastern Maharashtra on Sunday.“A team of Gadchiroli police was carrying out an anti-Maoist operation in Jaragudem area bordering Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on Sunday. At around 10.30 a.m., the Maoists opened indiscriminate fire on this police team. The retaliatory firing killed one Maoist while others managed to escape taking advantage of the thick forest,” according to a press release issued by the police. The body of the deceased Maoist was recovered during the post-encounter search. One 12-bore rifle was also recovered from the spot.In a separate incident, another encounter took place between the Maoists and the police in Jheliya forest under Katejhari police station limits of Gadchiroli.“The Maoists fired at a police team at around 10 a.m. The police team retaliated the fire forcing the rebels to flee from the spot. The police managed to recover detonators and other material from the spot of the encounter,” the Gadchiroli police said.
Buoyed by the Opposition’s grand success in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Sunday said it would contest the May 28 Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll with the “full support” of like-minded, non-BJP parties. “We have decided to field Tabassum Begum from the Kairana parliamentary constituency,” Uttar Pradesh RLD chief Masood Ahmad said. “We expect the full support of like-minded, non-BJP parties, especially the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), besides the Congress. Tabassum Begum joined the RLD on Sunday and hopefully, she will emerge as the joint opposition candidate,” he said. A former BSP MP from Kairana, Tabassum (47), who had later joined the SP, is a popular face in the Jat-dominated constituency in western Uttar Pradesh, about 100 km from New Delhi.Exuding confidence that the Ajit Singh-led party will win the crucial bypoll, Mr. Ahmad said: “The process of forming a coalition (against the BJP) has started and soon, there will be a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance).” ‘Opposition unity’ He also said the RLD will support the SP candidate for the Noorpur Assembly by-election, to be held simultaneously with the Kairana bypoll, heralding the process of opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The Kairana bypoll was necessitated following the death of its sitting BJP MP, Hukum Singh. Similarly, the Noorpur Assembly seat fell vacant after the death of sitting BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan in a road accident. Commenting on the development, State BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said: “The confusion arising out of such political manipulations will lead to the opposition’s defeat and the BJP will emerge victorious with the people’s support.” Extra efforts The BJP will put in extra efforts to retain both the seats to send a message to its cadre, the voters as well as the opposition parties that its drubbing in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls was a closed chapter now and that the saffron party’s vote-bank was still intact in western U.P., a party insider said. On the other hand, the opposition parties — the SP, the RLD and the Congress — are viewing the bypolls as another opportunity to convey the message to the voters that the saffron fortress can be breached if the opposition is united.
Athletics coach Nipon Das, who guided 400m star Hima Das to the first gold medal for an Indian in an international track event, has been accused of sexual assault by an athlete who trained under him in Guwahati.The athlete said Mr. Das sexually assaulted her at Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati during her training session and that she could not take it any more, after he allegedly grabbed her in a washroom, on May 18. The athlete’s family filed a complaint against Mr. Das at the Basistha police station on June 22. The police arrested Mr. Das, who got bail the next day. They said the case was under investigation.
At least one policeman sustained injuries after a low intensity blast was reported at the Maqsudan Police Station in Jalandhar late on Friday evening.Police sources said that the reason behind the blast was not yet clear. Jalandhar’s Commissioner of Police Jalandhar Praveen Sinha and Punjab DGP Suresh Arora, who was in the city have reached the spot to take stock of the situation.The injured policeman was rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Ritu Bordoloi of Namrup never thought she would create history. On Tuesday, she became India’s first owner and user of a cooking stove fuelled by methanol.The homemaker, 50, was aware that she had added a chapter to an area that has had many industrial firsts in India as well as Asia. Namrup, in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh district, is not far from where the commercial journey of the team began, the first oil well was struck, and the first refinery was set up.Ms. Bordoloi was one of 500 people who were handed over a stove with two 1.2-litre canisters of methanol on Friday, as part of a pilot project by the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL), India’s first public sector producer of methanol and formalin from natural gas as feedstock.The project has been promoted by NITI Aayog.“APL has taken a huge step towards reducing India’s oil imports and tap into pollution-free methanol as fuel for cooking and transportation. It is apt that the project has begun with cooking fuel that mostly impacts women in India,” V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, said before handing over the first few methanol stoves.Can replace LPGDr. Saraswat said methanol is the future of fuel in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keen on reducing oil imports that set the country back by $86 billion every year. “We are looking at conversion of coal, petroleum and natural gas to methanol so that LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) consumption is reduced,” he said.About 80% of LPG consumed in India is imported, Dr. Saraswat said.According to alternative fuel expert Prashanth Guru Srinivas, APL’s experience in producing methanol for 30 years gave NITI Ayog the confidence to go ahead with the cooking fuel project.“There are 5.5 lakh people in Africa and 8 million in China who use methanol as cooking fuel. But India is the first country where the focus is on replacing LPG. This is why much of the world is looking at how our cooking fuel project is working out,” he said.About 5% of 70 million metric tonnes of methanol used in China is for cooking, and the resultant market turnover there is $2 billion now, Mr. Srinivas said. “Methanol can be a major market in India, besides helping us reduce oil imports by 20%,” he added.In terms of heat value, a 14 kg LPG cylinder is equivalent to about 20 kg of methanol. But methanol works out 30% cheaper, and the saving on an equivalent quantity of LPG is expected to be up to ₹350.Target NortheastAPL Chairman Jagadish Bhuyan said the company would become the largest producer of methanol in the country by 2019-end after it expands its capacity from 100 MMT to 600 MMT. The expansion project is worth ₹1,337 crore.“After expansion, our target is to feed methanol to the Northeast and then to the rest of India,” Mr. Bhuyan said.APL Managing Director Ratul Bordoloi said the company is now planning to produce methanol from biomass, municipal waste and flare gas from refineries and oil wells. “Methanol is not only a clean fuel, it is light and can be easily carried to hilly areas,” he said.
Two IAS officers of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre have sought action against protesters who prevented government servants from attending the Republic Day celebrations in Mizoram’s capital Aizawl on Saturday.The officers, currently posted in Mizoram, are Krishna Mohan Uppu, Director of Transport and Additional Chief Electoral Officer, and Bhupesh Chaudhary, Registrar of Cooperative Societies.In his letter to six officers in the Union Home Ministry and the Mizoram government, including the Chief Secretary, Mr. Uppu said he was pained at being prevented from participating in the celebrations.The Joint NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella organisation of five civil society and students’ groups, had boycotted the R-Day functions throughout Mizoram as a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to grant citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims who have come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 31, 2014. The boycott saw Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan address a near-empty ground.Mr. Uppu said he had reached the venue, Aizawl’s Assam Rifles ground, an hour before the start of the function with his fellow officers. “To our utter surprise, the representatives of the NGO had been standing guard along with the police personnel on duty at the entrance of the venue and prevented us from entering the venue,” said the 2009 batch IAS officer.Sensing there could be a “law and order situation” if they kept arguing with the protesters and “since the police personnel on duty were not discharging their duty”, Mr. Uppu said they had to leave with a heavy heart and feeling insulted after waiting about an hour.He sought a thorough investigation into the whole episode and “action against all concerned”.Mr. Chaudhary, in his letter to the Chief Secretary and other officers, said what had happened in Mizoram was “unthinkable in a free country”. The protesters, he said, not only prevented them from entering the R-Day venue but also ordered them to return to their official quarters “before any untoward incident happens”.A 2014 batch officer, Mr. Chaudhury wrote: “When we tried to reason with them, we were told that the government of Mizoram has reached an agreement with the NGOs where it was decided that only secretaries to the government of Mizoram and above will be allowed to attend the Republic Day function.”Like Mr. Uppu, he alleged that none of the duty magistrates and police personnel were willing to take any action against the members of the NGO. He too sought strictest possible action against all involved for publicly boycotting the R-Day celebrations.
Molten rock spewing forth in volcanic eruptions may have risen dozens of kilometers through Earth’s crust in a few months rather than over millennia, a new study suggests. When researchers looked at crystals of the mineral olivine (inset) extracted from lavas erupted from Costa Rica’s Irazú volcano during a 2-year eruption that began in 1963, they found that about 15% contained thin layers with higher-than-normal concentrations of nickel, an element found more commonly in Earth’s mantle than in the overlying crust. The chemical composition of each successive layer represents the environmental conditions that the growing olivine crystals experienced as they rose toward Earth’s surface, and the fact that nickel hadn’t diffused evenly throughout the mineral indicates that crystal-filled magma had risen from the mantle in a short period of time. Indeed, the scientists estimate that those layered crystals had risen through the estimated 35 kilometers of crust below Irazú volcano in as little as 4 months, they report online today in Nature. On average, though, magma migrated upward at about 80 meters per day, or more than 3 meters per hour, the team notes. It’s also in the same range of speeds seen beneath other peaks where networks of seismic instruments have detected deep earthquakes associated with the rapid movement of magma. But alas, deep quakes beneath a volcano may not serve as an infallible sign of an impending blowout (as seen in Italy’s Stromboli volcano, main image), the scientists say: Some peaks with deep quakes didn’t end up erupting, and many that did erupt didn’t show seismic signs of deep magma movement. For now, the signals that betray when and whether a peak will erupt remain elusive.
X-rays of a specific wavelength emanating from the hearts of nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters could be signs of particles of dark matter decaying in space, two independent teams of astronomers report. If that interpretation is correct, then dark matter could consist of strange particles called sterile neutrinos that weigh about 1/100 as much as an electron. However, some other researches are skeptical.For decades, astronomers and astrophysicists have thought that some sort of mysterious dark matter must provide the gravity that keeps individual galaxies from falling apart. In fact, the current standard model of cosmology indicates that a typical galaxy forms within a vast clump, or halo, of dark matter whose gravity keeps the stars from flying out into space. However, scientists do not know what dark matter is, as they have never detected it by any means other than sensing its gravity.Now, two teams report possible signs of dark matter particles revealing themselves in another way—by very, very slowly decaying into normal photons. Both groups relied on data from one of the most successful space observatories, the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton), which launched in December 1999 and is still taking data. Esra Bulbul, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues discovered x-rays of a specific energy—3.5 kiloelectron volts (keV)—shining from 73 galaxy clusters, including the Perseus cluster. The Harvard group also used data from NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory launched by NASA in July 1999, as it reports in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Working independently, Alexey Boyarsky, a theoretical physicist at the Leiden Observatory of Leiden University in the Netherlands, and colleagues focused on the Andromeda galaxy and on the Perseus galaxy cluster, where they found such x-rays as well, as they report in a paper submitted to Physical Review Letters.X-rays of that energy do not correspond to any known x-ray “line” that could come from the ordinary excitation of atoms, the researchers say. “We could not match it with anything that would come from a thermal plasma,” says Maxim Markevitch of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a member of Bulbul’s group.Those unexplained x-rays could come from dark matter particles. In the 1990s, some theorists speculated that dark matter could consist of some kind “sterile neutrino,” a particle akin to the three types of neutrino that can be generated in the collisions of ordinary particles. (The sterile neutrino would be sterile because it could not be produced that way, but only when an ordinary neutrino morphs into a sterile one.) According to theorists, this sterile neutrino would have a mass in the keV range and would decay into an x-ray photon in the keV range and a normal neutrino. So the espied x-rays would have to emanate from sterile neutrinos weighing about 7 keV. Researchers had looked for radiation from galaxies before, but “its detection became only possible because the XMM had accumulated sufficient exposure time,” Boyarsky explains.One object both groups looked at is the Perseus cluster. The Leiden group focused on the outside, and the Harvard group focused on the center. The fact that the results were in accordance was encouraging. “The decay rates of the sterile neutrinos are consistent, and that was a striking finding, because … we were using completely different data sets,” Markevitch says. Both research groups, however, stress that it is too early to conclude that what they have seen is a glimpse of dark matter. One reason for caution is the low energy resolution of the XMM and Chandra detectors, which are charge-coupled devices (CCDs) a bit like the ones in digital cameras. “Because this line is so faint, and with this resolution the line is broadened so much that it appears like a 1% bump above the continuum,” Markevitch says. “We will have to wait for confirmation from other satellites,” he says.Kevork Abazajian, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the work, says the results are important. “I think it is a ‘smoking gun,’ but it has to be confirmed; at this point it cannot be explained by an astrophysical process,” Abazajian says.But not everyone is so sanguine. “Is this signal due to exotic physics like dark matter or conventional physics like astrophysical sources? It is too soon to tell,” says John Beacom, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, Columbus. Beacom also notes that many theorists favor schemes in which dark matter consists of much heavier weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. If evidence of WIMPs were to be found, it would weaken the case for keV-scale sterile neutrinos, he says. Ultimately, the result may be tested by a new satellite. The Astro-H mission, a project by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will be equipped with calorimeters with 20 times better energy resolution than CCDs. With its superior resolution, it should be able to tell an astrophysical source from a dark matter signal, Boyarsky says. Astro-H should launch in 2015.
This story ran on 1 April 2014 and is an April Fools’ joke. Enjoy!WASHINGTON, D.C.—Cosmologists sifting data from a landmark gravitational wave study have reconstructed a snapshot of our universe in the moments preceding the big bang. The controversial view has posed a fresh enigma—and ignited a firestorm of controversy.“It’s not every day that you wake up and find out what happened before the big bang,” says John Blutarsky, a cosmologist at Jersey University in Hoboken. Yet some physicists are skeptical. “It’s one thing to talk about concrete concepts, such as dimensions too small to be detected and atomic-scale black holes,” says Barbara Jansen, a string theorist at Idaho State University in Pocatello. “But to speculate about a time before time? Get real.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The latest findings build on a study of the big bang’s afterglow, the cosmic microwave background. Last month, cosmologists working with the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, or BICEP, telescope announced that they had spotted traces of gravitational waves rippling through the infant universe in the first sliver of a second after the big bang. The faint pinwheel-like swirls, called B modes, indicated that particles called inflatons propelled a rapid inflation of the early universe.The new work comes from the Tachyonic Retrospective Inferences of Cosmologically Extrapolated Preconditions, or TRICEP, imager. The team managed to discern even fainter swirls, called AF modes: traces of deflatons (pronounced DEF-luh-tons) that brought the previous incarnation of our universe crashing down. “Just imagine a helium balloon shrinking over time as the gas escapes,” says TRICEP spokesman Doug Neidermeyer, a cosmologist at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. “Now imagine a universe-sized helium balloon deflating in a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a quadrillionth of a second. Not so easy to imagine, is it?”By all accounts, the TRICEP team scored a technological coup. The AF modes are 1/200 as strong as the B modes BICEP spotted. To detect them, the 127-member TRICEP team used a telescope outfitted with a revolutionary $11 million detector knitted out of individual superconducting carbon nanotubes, paid for in part by Google and the Roman Catholic Church. As hard as it was building the telescope, hauling it to its perch on Cerro Lolita in Chile was harder, researchers say. “Word got round to the llama owners we hired that the detector involved nanotechnology and they refused to touch it,” says Eric “Otter” Stratton, a graduate student at Western South Dakota State University in East Borealis. In the end, he and a dozen other students pulled the 1.2-tonne device up the 2112-meter peak on a sledge. It was worth it, Stratton says: “My Ph.D. adviser promised to shave a year off my dissertation.”Scientists are sparring over the findings. “This signal is nothing but a simple manifestation of my model of fractal, self-similar spacetime,” claims Vernon Wormer, a cosmologist vaguely associated with the University of Connecticut, Storrs. However, Mandy Pepperidge, a physicist at University College London who is not part of the TRICEP collaboration, says that the evidence for AF modes is indisputable. “Look,” she says, “you believed me about that God particle thing, right?”One obvious implication of the new work is that deflatons are antiparticles of inflatons. “The logical assumption,” Neidermeyer says, “is that the universe that existed before ours was exactly the same as ours. Except that it was made of antimatter.” However, he goes a step further than many of his colleagues, arguing that the previous universe was filled with antimatter-based doppelgängers of every living being of our present universe. “If you are a nice person,” Neidermeyer explains, “it would mean your doppelgänger was quite nasty, or even wicked. And vice versa. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that if you are short, then your doppelgänger was tall. Or that Einstein’s doppelgänger was the anti-village idiot. It’s a spiritual thing.” That conclusion is inescapable, he says, given the constraints of the standard model of particle physics.Theologians have already begun adapting the new view of the pre-universe to biblical scholarship. “Precreation is totally compatible with creationism,” says Kent Dorfman, a self-professed intelligent designer in private practice in Halifax, Canada. “What this means for procreation is less clear.”In a curious twist, TRICEP’s finding was anticipated decades ago. “Everything they’ve reported and concluded is consistent with the contents of a dream that Albert Einstein had in the early morning hours of 1 April, 1938, in which he envisioned the demise of our universe as expressed in Dedekind-infinite sets,” says Blutarsky, a member of the BICEP team who minored in science history as an undergraduate at Faber College.However, the BICEP and TRICEP teams are sparring over the quantum implications of inflaton-deflaton duality. Neidermeyer’s team has discovered that inflatons, now hurtling into the void at the boundary of our present universe, “eventually run out of gas and change flavor to deflatons.” Precision measurements of AF waves suggest that once 36.34% of inflatons have converted to deflatons, the remaining inflatons will change flavor and the universe will implode in the next big bang. “Spooky action at one helluva distance,” Neidermeyer says. His team has estimated, based on the measurable slowing of the expansion of our universe, that 36.32% of inflatons have already changed flavor. That doesn’t mean the world is ending tomorrow, he says. There are so many extant inflatons that it will take years to reach the 36.34% tipping point. “The next big bang will occur at 7:06 UTC on Thursday, 1 April, 2038,” he says. “Don’t worry though. It will happen so fast, we won’t feel a thing.”“That’s such bullshit,” Blutarsky says. As elegant as it would have been for the next big bang to occur exactly 100 years after Einstein’s dream, he says, the BICEP team has come to a radically different conclusion. “We found that that the inflaton-deflaton phase change occurs at 36.36%,” he says. In their scenario, the universe will end at 13:06 UTC on Friday, 13 May, 2039. “A less satisfying result,” Blutarsky says. “April Fool’s Day is always preferable to Friday the 13th. But that’s science.”Later this year, the teams will join forces and deploy a balloon-borne telescope, called the QUAntitatively Deeper Research Into Compressed Exouniversal Phases, or QUADRICEP, experiment, to try to settle the question. Hot on their heels is a rival team in Beijing, which raised $2.3 billion earlier today for a space mission that they say could scoop QUADRICEP: Beyond Everything Now Considered about How Physical Reality Exists in the preSent and paSt (BENCH PRESS). Mobilization of the People’s Liberation Army, says a BENCH PRESS representative, will enable the team to launch their experiment next week, if not earlier.
It’s Already on File: How Administrative Records Can Help Assess Mobility Last summer, some 30 experts gathered at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to discuss whether the government should design and carry out the first survey in 40 years of social mobility in the United States. The researchers agreed that it was important to document the massive changes that had taken place in the U.S. economy since the last similar study in 1973. And nobody knew better the potential value of such surveys than Robert Hauser, the man who convened the 1-day meeting.Now head of the National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, Hauser had teamed up 4 decades ago with a colleague at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, David Featherman, to ask about 33,500 adult men what type of work they and their fathers had done. They were replicating a first-ever survey of U.S. economic mobility done in 1962, using a larger and more diverse sample to get a glimpse into how economic mobility had changed after the social upheavals of the 1960s. Both surveys, called the Occupational Changes in a Generation (OCG), had added income-related questions to an ongoing government survey of households that provides monthly unemployment figures.The results were both expected and eye-opening. The 1962 survey “found substantial upward mobility,” according to a 1977 description of the research in a university newsletter, and that schooling was the dominant factor in determining their career path. At the same time, it noted, “self-employed professionals, proprietors, and farmers” were much more likely to have had fathers in the same professions than did peers holding lower level white collar and blue-collar jobs.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But these findings held only for whites. Young African-American males tended to hold low-status jobs even if their fathers were white-collar workers, and regardless of how far they had gone in school. The study showed “substantial evidence of cumulative discrimination against blacks” that was not affected by education or background.The 1973 follow-up survey found that mobility patterns had begun to converge for blacks and whites. Education appeared to play a bigger role than before in determining the type of job held by African-American men compared with their white counterparts. But ironically, there was also “increased inequality of opportunity” within the African-American population, as they were now much more likely than a decade ago to hold jobs similar to their father’s occupation.For all their insights, however, the OCG surveys came with some important caveats. Jobs represent only one dimension of social mobility, for instance, and each study was a one-shot affair, capturing subjects at a particular moment in time. The surveys also excluded women.Researchers have been able to commandeer a different, and ongoing, U.S. survey to fill in some of those gaps. In 1968, the government decided to monitor the impact of various programs that were part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Although trimmed and revised over the years, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) remains one of the best ongoing collection of longitudinal data on various socioeconomic and health trends.The most recent PSID analysis, done in 2012 by a consortium of researchers who are part of the Pew Economic Mobility Project, found that college graduates are five times more likely to move from the bottom rungs to the middle of the economic ladder than those without degrees. Whites are twice as likely as blacks to make such a move. And overall, some 43% of children from families in the lower rungs remain there as adults.But the picture that PSID paints of social mobility is still very blurry and incomplete. Its sample is skewed toward the low-income households originally targeted by the antipoverty programs, and the size of that core sample was cut by two-thirds in 1996 after budget cuts to the federal agencies that fund the University of Michigan to carry out the survey.There are other government-funded surveys that have also contributed to our knowledge of social mobility. Since 1984, the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation has gathered data on how government programs affect income and wealth. And the General Social Survey (GSS), funded since 1972 by the National Science Foundation and conducted by the University of Chicago, measures intergenerational educational and occupational mobility among small samples. But GSS doesn’t track income mobility.So where do things stand? Participants at the National Academy’s workshop discussed several options for gathering better data, but all had serious flaws. A start-from-scratch survey would allow researchers to cover the most bases, everyone agreed, but the chances of persuading Congress to pay for a survey large enough to provide meaningful results are almost nil. Piggybacking onto an existing vehicle, like the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, would lower the cost significantly, but its scope would have to be severely limited.Many experts believe the most promising approach may be making greater use of administrative records, the massive volume of information that government agencies already collect for other purposes. The cost would be minimal. However, that approach will once more require researchers to be creative about piecing together data from many sources to create a complete picture of U.S. social mobility.See also:The science of inequality How Two Economists Got Direct Access to IRS Tax Records The IGE: Anatomy of a Mobility Score
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The envoy said this while fielding questions from reporters during the series of ongoing cultural events to mark the 60 years of India- Nigeria bilateral relations at the Indian High Commission in Abuja. The events were spiced up by the Haryana cultural dance troupe from northern India sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to foster and strengthen cultural relations and understanding between India and Nigeria.Read it at Business Day Related Items
I look forward to each issue of Little India given the wide array of issues this fine publication delves into each month.I read with interest the article “The Moral Quandary” in the May 2006 issue that many Indians and Indian Americans face in the United States. The article states that Western vegetarian culture is primarily based on health benefits of the diet, as opposed to moral and spiritual basis of Hindu vegetarian culture.While this is partly true, the rising vegetarian movement in this country is also rooted in a firm belief in the evils of American slaughterhouses with their overcrowded conditions, inhumane breeding practices and use of antibiotics and hormones to more “efficiently” slaughter innocent animals. Furthermore, American vegetarians also protest against the environmental impact of the meat industry, with its water pollution, deforestation for grazing land, and using large volumes of grains, which could feed many more humans than the meat it generates. The moral and health issues go hand in hand with the vegetarian movements here in the United States and worldwide.My other “beef” with this article is the implication that to be a successful Hindu in America we must compromise our beliefs. I myself am a physician and soldier in the U.S. Army and have maintained my Hindu beliefs even in austere conditions. Contrary to some in the Indian American community who feel embarrassed by some aspects of their culture, I have found that my colleagues on the whole respect my beliefs and even take interest in them. The greatest aspect of this country is the ability to be your own person and practice your own beliefs.Although Hindus, and all of humanity, have the right to adhere to any moral standard to which they subscribe, a Hindu should not assume that there is any difference between eating meat, cooking meat, or selling meat. According to Hindu shastras, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam, cooking and selling meat incur equivalent or even greater negative karma as eating meat (Canto 5, Ch. 26, Text 13). The Indian community in America has been blessed with many talents and good fortune. There is no reason for us to adulterate our beliefs. Here in Washington D.C., and many other cities in the United States, there are many successful vegan restaurants, including a few that are Indian owned, that are blossoming both from a moral and financial standpoint. We should not look for the easy road as it is littered with many dangerous pitfalls.Pramvir Singh Verma, M.D., Washington, D.C.The articles “Dreaming of Gucci” and “The Moral Quandary” (May 2006) are two sides of a coin. We hear about Indians moving back home, the blooming job market, the foreign boutiques, middle class growth and improvement of the quality of life in India. On the other hand we read about corruption, poverty, population explosion, etc. Every Indian struggles with this debate. We’re hard working and believe that success comes to those who work hard and aspire for a better life. Now the definition of success is changing, because living aboard in itself is not success.Vivek Dixit, Houston, TX The article “The Moral Quandary” (May 2006) made me heartsick. Your article made it sound like once an Indian national sets foot on American soil, he’s lost. I came away with the impression that purity of mind and actions is utterly impossible.Sure, sin is big business in the land of the free and home of the brave. Eating and selling meat, distributing liquor, cigarettes, lottery tickets, dirty magazines and sex aids – these are not requirements for citizenship. It seemed as if the people interviewed were full of excuses for having strayed from their upbringing. If people want to make their fortunes taking part in these dirty activities, they are free to do so, but do not blame the West for abandoning your moral principles in pursuit the almighty dollar. They should admit that they brought this love for money and moral turpitude with them.I have always envied Asians for having grown up in very ancient and rich cultures. Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims all have moral principles I look up to. The moral ideals expounded in of each of these faiths makes the planet a much better place. How can anyone just give up their belief system and surrender to the sinful ways of the West?How does compromising one’s core values help change things? The freedom found in the United States of America and Canada is a wonderful thing. Anyone who comes here can partake of that freedom, but why misuse it? Even if your family back home cannot see the evil you commit here, there are still sinful reactions tied to this evil. This great experiment in liberty needs people of high moral fiber; we already have enough of the other kind. If an individual wants to change and improve things, the best thing they can do is to live up to the ideals found in their own faith. If everyone did that, our problems would diminish.I am disappointed that those I have looked up to have surrendered their moral values, eating a sacred cow, or pork and other unclean animals. I have been a vegetarian since 1975 and have taken a lot of teasing from my workmates for it and experienced a lot of ridicule from my family and friends for this “weird” flesh free lifestyle, but I will not compromise my moral values “thou shall not kill.” Even if everyone in the world around me eats meat, I will not. I say, make the world a better place by living up to your moral standards.William Mills, Athens, GAI just read the “No Roof, No Roots, No Rights” article (April 2006) in your magazine. I think you can easily help resolve this problem.These men are willing to work. Train them for two weeks to be long distance truck drivers. Make them owner operators. The trucks are equipped with cabins superior to their existing living conditions and they can net over $50,000 per year if they are willing to work reasonably hard. Investors (minimal is required) can net over 20 percent annually without unreasonable risk. This opportunity exists because Americans are unwilling to do the job and the demand is huge. It may sound complex, but it in fact it is very easy and be put together in less than 30 days. It’s that simpleJustus Eapen, Via eMailTell these guys (“No Roof, No Roots, No Rights”) to go to a hardware store and buy a rat trap and get rid of the vermin. Stop complaining. You are in the best country of the world and lucky to be here. Make the most of it. The government is not going to rescue you. Get a life.G.K. Pandey, Via eMailI like your Star Gazing and Chandni Chowk sections. The magazine is well edited, printed and presented with good articles that I am interested in reading. I suggest you add a horoscope column in the magazine.Abraham, New York, NY“The Colors of Desi” by Lavina Melwani was great. It eased my heart to read the stories of those who shared thoughts on the issue. It’s not about marrying someone for their complexion, race, ethnicity, or their status. It is about marrying someone that from inside you know is right. This is all it comes down to – if it feels right.Some of us in North America grew up amongst ordinary folks, and have become accustomed to the “North American” lifestyle. Why after so much time experiencing their culture and accepting it resoundingly should someone go back to their former culture? Adopting new lifestyles and morphing into the new cultures is the way things will go for the future.There have been many changes in the last several decades and surely there will be many more ahead. Can we in the South Asian diaspora accept these changes? These will remain the questions and will always haunt those who haven’t confronted them head on!Anonymous, Via eMailThe article “The Microsoft Millionaires” (April 2006) is definitely inspirational. Thanks for enlightening us.J Mahadevan, Via eMailI am a regular reader of your magazine. You are doing a wonderful job reaching Indians and making them feel at home.Vimala Varanasa, Via eMailI love reading your magazine. It is very informational and entertaining. It is so well written and interesting that I look forward to each issue.Divya Narvekar, Via eMailOur school family loves your magazine every month in our library, where the children are 7th and 8th graders.B.N. Williams, Franklin Middle School Somerset, NJ I commend you on the recent upgrades to your magazine. For the most part these have been improvements. I am writing to express my disappointment, however, with an article in the May 2006 issue on the dominatrix. More than anything it devalued the entire issue. If your point was to further humiliate these individuals, surely it could have been done in another way and taken up less room. Certainly there were more newsworthy events in the world that were more deserving of the space.Amy Yeasayer, Via eMailI want to thank you for your article, “The Problem of Legal Immigration” (June 2006). You should also stress the difficulties of obtaining tourist visas to this country. As it stands, fewer than 29% of Indian applicants receive tourist visas to America and many are denied without proper reason or investigation.The visa law states: “All non-immigrant visa applicants are viewed as seeking to immigrate and need to prove to the consular officer otherwise.” So, one is guilty until proven innocent. To counter such an assumption, I believe you should allow ample time during the interview process to review documents and base a decision on individual merit. How can a proper decision be made after a 30 second interview at the embassy? As an American engaged to an Indian living in Delhi, I personally understand these visa challenges. My fiancé has still not been able to visit me in America for reasons known only to the consular officer.Fortunately, as I am a US citizen, his permanent visa should be approved quickly and without penalty. However, I feel for people like Kshitij and Shweta Bedi who are not as lucky. Four years! For a country that promises the dream of family, freedom and opportunity, perhaps we should walk the walk and not just talk the talk.Allison Hanken, Via eMailWhile I agree that India has made rapid progress in the fields of information technology and science (“Dreaming of Gucci,” May 2006), but what about the welfare of the poor and the less fortunate, specially in villages, where they don’t even have water, electricity, healthcare or educational facilities. Nearly half the people living in villages are deprived of the basic necessities of life. Most survive on under Rs 60 a day. It should shame us that 59 years after Independence we cannot even provide for the basic needs of the poor. The gap between the rich and poor is widening and there is a culture of corruption and fraud in governmental agencies and the judicial system. We need earnest reforms for real progress.Ramesh Chellani, Fremont, Calif.The article “What is Indian Supposed to Mean Anyway (April 2006), is well written, but the next phase is to understand how we stop attaching labels to ourselves or to others. This can only be done by inquiring about our true and real identity/nature and understanding that the physical body is not who we are. Our existence is not limited to just one body and its relations.Dipal Patel, Via emailThe article “What is Indian Supposed to Mean Anyway” (April 2006), is great. I am Indian, but was raised by Americans. My kids are Jamaican and Indian. It is so true that human beings are one, whatever their race. I really enjoy your articles and the magazine is great.Bindu Derksen, Via emailToday I celebrate my 64th birthday, grateful for my lengthening age after 20 years of diabetes. I thank you for continuing to feed my reading passion.Yaqoob Bawla, Long Island, NY Related Items
The Congress should allow its leadership to grow naturally in a democratic process and it would lose its relevance if it continued to depend only on Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, said Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP vice-president, here on Sunday.The comment came a day after the Congress Working Committee chose Ms. Gandhi as interim president of the grand old party.At a press conference, he said the people had rejected dynasty and caste politics in the last Lok Sabha elections.“The family-led and caste-based parties had miserably lost their elections. Take the example of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or appeasement politics in West Bengal, people have rejected dynastic, caste and secular politics everywhere and opted for development,” said Mr. Chouhan.Learn a lesson “We were hoping that the Congress would learn a lesson following the terrible loss, but I am surprised that the CWC had passed a resolution that either Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi should lead the party,” he said.“The BJP has set an example. We do not do our politics around family or dynasty. Leadership comes naturally through ranks. Right from the inception of the Jan Sangh, be it Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Narendra Modi or Amit Shah, none of them belonged to a political family,” said the BJP leader.“The Congress is, however, unwilling to learn lesson. The party has become leaderless.,” said Mr. Chouhan.
A club in southern Assam’s Hailakandi town is promoting biodegradable flags that grow into plants.These handmade cotton flags are embedded with seeds of marigold.“After use, a flag should be planted with respect and some soil and water poured on it. The flag will germinate into a plant in two-three days’ time,” said Shankar Choudhury of Inner Wheel Club.The club’s president Kabita Das said the initiative was undertaken to discourage the use of plastic flags on Independence Day as well as Republic Day. “Such flags are discarded to snowball into an ecological problem. We are promoting the seed-embedded cotton flags toward making the country plastic pollution-free,” she said.
A man on Tuesday sought police protection for performing the last rites of his parents, who were lynched by fellow villagers in connection with an alleged witch-hunt incident in Odisha’s Balangir district.Chintamani Bariha, 55, and his wife Rukmuni Bariha, 50, were beaten to death in Chitakamal village on Monday. The police had recovered their bodies packed in sacks from a hill, about 3 km from the village.The villagers had accused the couple of practising black magic after they discovered flower, vermilion and other worship items near a burial place where 18-month-old infant was buried.The bodies of the couple are lying in a hospital.
Sited in the heart of old Pune, the prestigious Kasba Peth Assembly seat a BJP stronghold for three decades, will witness a tussle between two Pune civic body stalwarts — the mayor Mukta Tilak, (BJP-Sena candidate) and Arvind Shinde of the Congress.The constituency, which comprises a significant part of Peshwa-era Pune with its rickety wadas, was until recently senior BJP leader Girish Bapat’s virtual fiefdom with him winning the seat in consecutive elections since 1995 before vacating it to contest – and win – the Pune Lok Sabha seat in the general elections this year.The city, with its legendary Ganesha mandals, also forms the heart of Pune’s old trading community with a significant proportion of small traders from the Gujarati and Jain communities.The Congress has been able to wrest the Kasba Assembly seat only twice from the BJP since 1980 — in 1985 and in the 1991 by-election.The problem of crumbling old wadas (traditional dwellings) and their long-pending redevelopment, traffic congestion in the narrow, bustling lanes and lack of potable water in several places are among the key issues in this segment. While the situation has remained unchanged, two fresh candidates from the major contenders have raised hopes that some of the burning civic problems may be redressed. “The BJP won the Pune Municipal Corporation polls by a thumping majority. Yet, the problems of Kasba Peth, including that of water have not only persisted but have multiplied,” alleged Mr. Shinde, a three-time corporator who was one of the frontrunners for the candidacy of the Pune Lok Sabha constituency.He faces an extremely tough competitor in Ms. Tilak — a scion of the Bal Gangadhar Tilak family — who is also Mayor of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).A veteran party hand, Ms. Tilak has a strong base in the Old Pune area, having been the BJP’s leader in the PMC since 2009.“This constituency which also includes Narayan Peth and Sadashiv Peth has veered towards the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP as it has been the hotbed of Hindu nationalism,” says city-based political analyst Rajendra Pandharpure. He observes that the BJP has always had firm adherents in this part of the city through its network of educational institutes and other think tanks like the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabhodini that propagates the Sangh’s ideology.“The Brahmin voters here have always sided with the BJP. This is an area whose political clime has been charged with its strongly religious fervour favouring radical Hindutva outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). In contrast, the Congress and the NCP party structures here have remained weak,” says Mr. Pandharpure.However, he also said that things could change this time around owing to new areas being added after the delimitation of 2008.Observers say that while the dice may be loaded in Ms. Tilak’s favour, the BJP campaign machinery will be heavily engaged in the Kothrud Assembly seat, where BJP State chief Chandrakant Patil faces a prestige battle.While the BJP had been winning the past elections owing to a divided opposition, observers point out that this time the saffron alliance faces a possible vote fragmentation due to the intense disaffection prevailing among the Shiv Sena in Pune.“Moreover, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have come together in the battle for the Kasba segment. This is bound to favour Mr. Shinde,” opined Mr. Pandharpure.The city’s Sena leaders are disappointed by the fact that their bigger ally has not left even a single seat (out of the eight Assembly seats) for them in the city — the birthplace of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.Sena leader and former corporator Vishal Dhanawade, has already filed his nomination to contest as an Independent.“The Sena’s membership has increased drastically since 2009. The BJP’s decision of not letting us contest on even a single seat is unjust. I am confident of support from my followers,” said Mr. Dhanawade.