Eggs Of The Rising Sun
Made in Japan—and shipped over to meet the nutritional requirements of some of India’s top badminton hopefuls. Are we talking about some groundbreaking new supplement, you ask? To an extent. Pullela Gopichand Academy has determined that eggs from Telangana aren’t good enough for its players, and has therefore contracted with Ise Foods, Japan, to supply “premium eggs” until the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Antibiotics abuse in Indian poultry farms is a serious concern, with research from the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, Washington, as well as the University of Hyderabad, having found that this leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Ise Foods, on the other hand, has practices in place to prevent such abuse, and also puts a number of nutritional supplements in its eggs, which should help give the players an edge.
Amid The Man-Groves
The Sundarbans are the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site twice over. And now their whole history could be rewritten, with evidence of human habitation dating back 1,000-1,200 years coming to light in the forest’s Bangladeshi portion. The remains of buildings, some contemporaneous with the Pala Empire, have revealed the existence of a settled population that produced salt and possibly exported it to East Asia and Europe, although the settlements periodically collapsed due to invasion. This is all due to chance discoveries by independent researcher Ism Azam, who was exploring remote regions to do a headcount of the tiger population. Azam came across the remnants of man-made structures in 2015, and went on to find pottery, ceramics and utensils, before contacting archaeologists just last month.
Such Gaurav, So Buff
The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB), based in Hisar, Haryana, has ample reason to be proud. With a mandate to conserve “superior animals of all buffalo breeds”, they’ve successfully cloned an Assamese buffalo calf for the first time. The head of the cloning team, P.S. Yadav, was quoted as saying, “We used unique methods and produced this clone calf, Sach-Gaurav, on December 22, 2017, through a normal delivery.” Born weighing 54.2 kg to a Murrah buffalo in a field located 100 km from the laboratory, Sach-Gaurav is a male—the second cloned male to be produced by CIRB after Hisar-Gaurav, born in December 2015—and the first Assamese. The older male has already enjoyed a great deal of success, with ten of the institute’s females currently pregnant with his semen.
Legally Wedded Bliss
Pakistan’s Provincial Assembly of the Punjab has passed a law specifically regulating Sikh marriages, replacing the Anand Marriage Act 1909, which was passed by the Imperial Legislative Council but which did not include any provision for registration. Introduced in the legislature by its only Sikh member, Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, the Bill was passed unanimously as the Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2017. Sikh marriages were previously registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, which reportedly caused problems when Sikhs moved abroad, but now they will have a dedicated registry. The move has energised an ongoing push for similar laws in other provinces, especially Sindh, home to a large proportion of the country’s Sikh population.
Long-Form Retirement Age
Born on five different days, Gopal Parajuli was, until recently, Nepal’s chief justice. Confused? So was Kantipur, one of the country’s leading dailies, which published articles asserting that he’d given five dates of birth on official documents, only to be charged with contempt of court. The matter did not end there; it snowballed until Parajuli’s colleagues pressured him to resign, and nine judges refused to serve on their allotted benches. Finally, the Judicial Council determined that he should have retired seven months ago when he reached the age of 65—and made the decision shortly before Parajuli swore in the country’s president, Bidya Bhandari, for a second term.
Republic Strikes A Princely Note
The Singapore Mint is bringing out a series of banknotes in a somewhat belated celebration of the birth of the two-year-old crown prince of Bhutan. A million notes with a face value of Ngultrum 100 (about Rs 100) will be available worldwide, with a limited number going on sale in the city-state itself for S$25 each (about Rs 1,237). The Singapore Mint is the appointed marketing agent for Bhutan’s Royal Monetary Authority, and was commissioned to produce similar commemorative notes for the king’s coronation in 2008 and for his 2011 wedding.
Try For Foreign Aid
International rugby probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name ‘Rajapaksa’. All three sons of the former Sri Lankan president are competitive players, with the eldest, Namal, having been captain of the national rugby union side. Now an MP, Namal has offered to help out a girls’ rugby team in Kashmir. When he saw a report on the team by World is One News, he tweeted his support: “Breaking social boundaries to pursue their passion for #rugby.” J&K’s governing People’s Democratic Party responded with an appreciative tweet, and now Namal is planning a visit in May with the Sri Lankan coaches to conduct training sessions.
China’s growing economic clout in Pakistan seems to be a deterrent to potential western investors.
Pakistan’s FDI for the year 2017-18 is expected to show an increase of about 60 per cent, according to a report by the country’s Board of Investment. Much of this is due to the huge investment that China has made.
Chinese companies are building roads, power stations and a deep-water port in Pakistan. As part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing has invested more than $50 billion in the country. The report says that Chinese investment has helped to spur Pakistan’s economic growth to more than five per cent, its highest in a decade.
But this has also increased Beijing’s influence at a time when Islamabad’s relations with its traditional ally, the United States, are fraying over Pakistan’s handling of militants and the conflict in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, The News International reported another, tangible impact: western investors are being put off.
Pakistan’s state minister for promotion of foreign investment, Naeem Zamindar, said some western investors seemed reticent because of an incorrect perception that Chinese firms would enjoy “exclusive advantages” and concessions that wouldn’t allow for an even playing field.
“A perception was created that the Chinese are taking over. The fact of the matter is that this is not true,” he told a news agency.
He said that Pakistan’s government was very clear about the matter, as it wants investors “of all hues”—American, English and Japanese—to help build the country’s economy.
Some Chinese firms have had soft loans due to Beijing’s funding conditions, contributing to investors’ perception of unequal treatment.
Zamindar explained that some Chinese companies building power stations had obtained soft loans, but that was because the money was provided by Beijing, which made such terms a condition of its financing projects that were part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a key leg of the Belt and Road infrastructure network.
However, he pointed out that for the second phase of the CPEC, in which a series of special economic zones (SEZs) will be set up to boost Pakistan’s industries, Chinese companies will not receive preferential treatment.
“That is completely non-discriminatory,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s Special Economic Zones Act stipulates that no country or company will get preferential treatment.
“The (SEZ) concessions are published and are on the website, open to all.”
Whether this allays investors’ fears remains to be seen.
Illustrations by Sajith Kumar