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The Subcontinental Menu

Our very own PoK in Uttar Pradesh; How is Karnataka keeping its cop fit? Get all the juicy gossip from the neighbourhood...

The Subcontinental Menu
Illustration by Sajith Kumar
The Subcontinental Menu

Cops Shed Flab To Get Choice Posting

Police personnel across states are hardly known for physical fitness. But there is a novel incentive for them to shed their extra kilos in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka. Police superintendent K. Annamalai has promised that any policeman who loses in excess of 5 kg will get a posting to the police station of his choice. Enthused, altogether 34 constables, head constables and ASIs came forward to avail of the offer. Six months later, 16 of them pulled off the feat; some of them went on to shed more than ten kg by running, jogging, swimming and cycling every day. The average reduction of weight, according to a highly impressed SP, is seven kg. Constable Shivanna, in fact, was lighter by 14 kg and was among those who have been given a choice posting at Kudremukh. There were, however, some who failed to meet the target and wanted another opportunity.

The Baby Boomers Of Pakistan

China and India may be the two most populous nations in the world but some Pakistanis appear to be doing their best to help their nation catch up! Gulzar Khan, a Pathan who has sired 36 children through different wives, believes that Islam prohibits family plann­ing. “God has created the entire universe...so why should I stop the natural process of a baby’s birth?” he asks. His brother Mastan, who has three wives, is already a proud dad of 22. “God has promised that he will provide food and resources but people have weak faith,” he says. Meanwhile, Jan Mohammed, who has 38 children, once called upon the state to provide for his family. His mission? To take a fourth wife so that he could fulfil his dream of having 100 children.

UP Has PoK Of Its Own In Kanpur

Angry over the flagrant lack of development, residents of a village in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh have named their village ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)’. They replaced the name of their village from all com­mercial establishments with ‘PoK’ in a bid to highlight their plight. Simranpur, with a population of 800, has negligible health and educational facilities and gets electricity rarely. Claiming that nothing has improved even after the change of regime, villagers said that the new name would at least get highlighted in the media. They are also miffed that the face of the adjoining village of Daulatpur has changed in recent times, thanks to some development initiatives by the local administration and leaders. “This is the only way to break the status quo,” a villager says.

Bangla Exports Under EU Scanner

The European Union has enforced new security screening on imports from Bangladesh, which means all shipments, by air or by sea, will now be checked by bomb-detecting sniffer dogs and devices. But it may well be disastrous for the poor country, which just does not have such facilities and will have to route all its cargo through a third country which has them. In 2015-’16, the country’s garment export industry had exported goods worth $17.15 billion to EU, 60 per cent of the industry’s total exports. In recent times, Bangladesh has been receiving objections over the quality of its fruits and vegetables that are exported to EU. It has now come up with a self-imposed ban on vegetable export to the EU market to avert any possible ban.

Not Much Monkey Business

Some time back, Nepal’s Supreme Court had issued an order that could have had an effect on the lives of around 600 monkeys dwelling around the Pashupatinath temple area in Kathmandu. The apex court had asked the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust to act on the perceived havoc caused by the monkeys in the area which receives a huge footfall of devotees and tourists alike. To the relief of the urban apes, a behavioural study conducted by the trust has cleared them of all char­ges. The study stated that the monkeys of Pashupati neither cause havoc nor harm the visitors. The Supreme Court has been duly informed about the findings of the study and now discussions are being held on how to manage the monkeys better.

Bangladeshi Diplomat Accused Of Mistreating Domestic Help

A posting in the West is considered a prized assignment for South Asian diplomats. But they are being marred with charges of ill-treatment of their domestic hands. Bangladesh’s deputy consul-general in New York, Mohammed Shahedul Islam is now facing charges for forcing his servant to work long hours at his house without pay. He has been asked to surrender his passport and asked to pay $ 25,000 in cash for bail. He denies the charges.

Selfies, A Lankan Obsession

Railway authorities in Sri Lanka have lau­­nched a crackdown on selfie-takers after three persons were killed, including a 12-year-old boy who was dec­­apitated while clicking themselves on the tracks in Colombo. Some time ago, another man had died while trying to take a selfie with his newlywed wife. Alarmed over the 28 deaths caused by cellphones in similar mishaps this year, the railways have decided to deploy security personnel to arrest those walking on tracks or taking selfies in front of moving trains. Incidentally, the victims are often tourists from other parts of the country, who come to the seaside capital on holiday and want to take selfies with the Indian Ocean in the background. Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989 and has seen an explosion in smartphone use in recent years.

Pakistan In A Fix

The decision of Pakistan to join the Islamic Military Alliance was never an easy one. The Saudi-led initiative, which brought around 50 Muslim majority countries in the alliance ostensibly, to fight terrorism in West Asia, was always a controversial move. Soon, it was clear to most participants that they were brought together to fight Iran, and not so much terrorism or outfits like the Islamic State.

For a country like Pakistan, it was a double whammy. Not only was it part of the IMA, its military chief was no other than Gen Raheel Sharif. The civilian government in Islamabad took a long time to give the former army chief the clearance to take up his new assignment to head the IMA. But, in the end, Islamabad realised it cannot antagonise the Saudi leadership, which was keen to bring in Raheel Sharif. But now, Pakistan’s political leadership seems to be having second thoughts on whether or not it should withdraw.

As if the growing Saudi-Iran tensions were not bad enough for Pakistan, now it has been in an even bigger quandary following the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members decision to cut off all diplomatic ties with Qatar. Pakistan enjoys good relations with the GCC as well as Qatar. It wants to ensure that sooner rather than later, the growing rift is resolved and Qatar is yet again brought back in the GCC fold.

Foreign news reports that Pakistan will send troops to Qatar created alarm. Sharif and Gen Bajwa rushed to both Saudi Arabia and Qatar to explain.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with his army chief, Gen Qamar Bajwa recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia to hold talks with the leadership in the two countries in an attempt to find an amicable way out of the present impasse.

What started worrying the Islamabad leadership was the circulation of reports in a section of the foreign media over the past few days that suggested that Pakistan was sending its troops to Qatar. Turkey, which is a close ally of Qatar, has already deployed troops in the country, following the Gulf countries’ decision to boycott Qatar. Therefore, the possibility of Pakistan doing the same predictably raised serious concerns in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The alacrity shown by Sharif and his army chief in visiting Qatar and Saudi Arabia to clarify Islamabad’s stand and its commitment to remain neutral therefore, was necessary under the circumstances.

But sections in Pakistan feel that unless it withdraws from the IMA, there will always be people who will question its neutrality. This opinion is likely to get stronger in the coming days if the Qatar-GCC rift widens further.

Illustrations by Sajith Kumar


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