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Puducherry's Segway-Police or the coffee-scented stamps- get all the juicy news from the neighbourhood...

The Subcontinental Menu
The Subcontinental Menu

Wheels Speed Up Police Patrol

The police do get tired doing patrol duty, especially if they have to keep walking for hours to enforce law and order. But the Puducherry police have something to cheer about. The top brass has provided them self-balancing, two-wheeled electric scooters for patrolling along the seaside promenade. A large number of people throng the promenade, especially during holidays, making it difficult for police personnel to keep a watch on the teeming crowds on the scenic beach road. Now, the cops have four brand new scooters to drive from one end of the promenade to another. This has made their life easier, though they are still facing teething problems. At the inaugural ceremony, two women constables collided with each other while trying their hands at their prized, new contraptions.

A Coffee-Scented Stamp Keeps Philately Alive

Letter writing (in hard copies, to be succinct!) may have gone out of vogue but there has been no dearth of people queuing up before post offices to buy stamps. A coffee-scented stamp printed by the India Security Press in Nashik has gone out of stock from most post offices across India. The unique stamp, priced at Rs 100, is being sold through 81 philatelic bureaus, but most have put up ‘out-of-stock’ boards at sale counters. Many philatelists have retur­ned empty handed, unable to get hold of the ‘collector’s item’. In Uttar Pradesh, brisk sales were reported not only from big cities but also from smaller centres like Jaunpur, Mirzapur, Pratapgarh and Sultanpur. The demand for the stamp has, of course, nothing to do with a ren­­ewed interest in writing letters and posting them to dear ones in an envelope, the way it was done in the good, old days.

Taking Stock Of A Long-Drawn Case

Controversial stock broker Harshad Mehta may have died long back, but the 1992 stock market scam masterminded by him keeps hitting headlines, as the process of recovery of losses from his family continues even after 25 years. The court-appo­inted custodian has so far dis­bursed more than Rs 6,000 crore to banks and the income tax department by disposing of the assets of the late Mehta, his family and associates. Recently, it cleared an amount of Rs 614 crore to be disbursed to banks. The custodian is said to have identified additional assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore to be auctioned. The total properties and shares to be attached in the case are worth over Rs 8,000 crore.

Brazilian Bands Denied Permission To Perform In Dhaka

In what seems like a typical case of bureaucratese, nine Brazilian members of death metal bands Krisiun and Nervochaos were prevented from performing in Dhaka last week. Though the visiting musicians had prior permission to perform in Bangladesh, on arrival at the Dhaka airport from Indonesia they were told that they cannot participate in the concert. Local organisers claim they had prior permissions from all the relevant departments and ministries, including the special branch of the police, for the concert. Yet the band members were initially detained at the airport and after several hours allowed to go to their hotel, but prevented from performing in the city. What went wrong was not clear even after days, though the only reason cited for denying them a chance to perform was that they had arrived in the city on tourist visas.

Charity Begins In Large Hearts

You don’t have to have a bank balance of Warren Buffet to do charity. All you need is a large heart—the quality a farmer from Vasai in Maharashtra has. Kashinath Patil has dona­ted two bui­­ldings worth Rs 32 crore to the Sri Saibaba Sansthan Trust in Shirdi to help it run an academy to train poor tribal and rural youths for the civil services examinations. The 9,700 sqm buildings are located at Rahata, near Shirdi. The academy hopes to groom youths from the tribal belt of north Maharashtra for the IAS and other central services. A Saibaba devotee, Patil has also been running “Sai Shelers” along Mumbai-Shirdi route to offer acc­ommodation and other facilities to pilgrims on foot.

Price Of A Brand Ambassador

Film stars don’t come cheap, especia­lly one who has Hollywood swooning. If Assam chose Priyanka Chopra as brand ambassador of its tourism department, it had a perfectly good reason to do so—her massive fame. But it could have done better by fixing her remuneration on an annual basis. As the Assam assembly was informed, Priyanka’s single visit to the state in her official capacity cost Rs 2.37 crore. Since she has been app­o­inted for two years, the state exchequer will have to fork out more for the rest of her visits. But then, a global brand costs plenty.

Lanka-China Cartoon Diplomacy

Cartoon films seem to be gaining new uses. Sri Lanka and China, who are to celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties, have decided to celebrate it with a cartoon—Lanka Kumaru ( the Lankan Prince). The film, to be made by the Beijing Kaku Media affiliated to the Beijing Television Company, was recently introduced at a function in the Chinese capital. The 30-episode serial is based on the true story of a Lankan prince’s visit to ancient China. To be finished in six months, it’s likely to get worldwide coverage— Beijing TV boasts of over 900 million viewers around the globe.

A Bhutto’s Raised Voice

Fasting during the month of Ramzan is a tradition that most pious Muslims around the world follow zealously. But this has not stopped the debate on the special conditions that also allow people to eat or drink during this holy phase of abstinence.

However, in many countries, especially in South Asia, those in authority are becoming more rigid in making allowances to people during this crucial period. A clear example of this is the legislation passed recently by Pakistan, called the Ehteram-i-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill that prohibits eating and drinking in public during the month of Ramzan.

Now, the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs in Pakistan’s parliament has not only unanimou­sly approved the Bill, but has hailed it for the provision to punish hotel owners violating the law with fines that can range from Rs 500 to Rs 25,000 and also lead to a three-month prison term.

While the issue may have gone unnoticed in political circles in Pakistan, the daughter of slain Pak­istani leader Benazir Bhutto, Bakhtawar, has expressed outrage over the legislation and its provision. “People are going to die from heat stroke and dehydration with this ridiculous law,” the eldest daughter of the former prime minister said in a tweet. “This is not only outrageous but also not in accordance with Islam.”

Bakhtawar’s Twitter protests against the harsh Ramzan laws got a tepid response on social media. This made her moderate her stand later.

Additionally, the bill also imp­oses a fine of Rs 500 and a prison sentence of up to three months for people seen smoking or eating in public during the holy month. “Not everyone in Pakistan will be fasting...Children in school, the elderly, and people with medical issues...Should we arrest them for drinking water?” she highlighted in her tweet.

But after seeing the mixed reaction to her comments in social media, Bakhtawar decided to moderate her stand while retweeting to point out that “we are more than capable of resisting temptation and keeping our fasts”.

The 1981 Ordinance that makes it illegal for Muslims to eat or drink in public during Ramazan went through some changes when the heatstroke crisis in Karachi some years back forced some clerics to advise people that they should stop fasting if their health was at risk.

However, Bakhtawar’s comments have got many people interested in the direction her future career might take. Though she has been known as an education enthusiast so far, the 27-year-old had not shown much interest in politics. But is that about to change now?

Illustrations by Sajith Kumar


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