Hans Blix calls on scientists to develop thorium nuclear fuel

first_img(Phys.org) —Call it the great thorium divide: Thorium supporters and thorium critics do not agree over claims that thorium is an alternative nuclear fuel that could ensure a better future for the planet. Nonetheless, interest continues in thorium as a safer and abundant alternative to uranium. On the side of thorium, the latest call for action has come from Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector and former Swedish foreign minister. Urging nuclear scientists to develop thorium as a new fuel, Blix also called on the nuclear industry to start powering reactors with thorium instead of uranium. Blix said that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium and it is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons. UK stays cautious over thorium as nuclear fuel More information: www.world-nuclear-news.org/enf … _begins_2106131.html Thorium-232 crystal, prepared by the van Arkel (chemical vapour transport) process. Credit: The Actinide Group, Institute for Transuranium Elements (via Wikipedia) This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Hans Blix calls on scientists to develop thorium nuclear fuel (2013, October 31) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-10-hans-blix-scientists-thorium-nuclear.html © 2013 Phys.org Explore further He believes efforts in turn should be made to develop thorium, as the world looks for future energy supplies. “I’m a lawyer not a scientist,” Blix told the BBC News. He acknowledged there are many obstacles ahead in turning to thorium, but development efforts should be made.Thorium is a radioactive element and there are thorium reserves in countries around the world. Scientists promoting thorium as an alternative nuclear fuel argue that is a safer, more economical way of generating nuclear power than uranium. It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons. To be sure, abundance has been a strong argument among supporters. Thorium is believed to be three times more plentiful than uranium. Oystein Asphjell, chief executive of Thor Energy, told BBC News: “There is lots of thorium in the world, very well distributed all over the globe.” As for nuclear waste, he said “we do not generate long lived waste.”As the BBC News report explained, when a uranium reactor overheats and the fuel rods can’t contain the chain reaction, as happened at Fukushima, the crisis continues. This bears contrast to the case of thorium where, if something happened to a thorium reactor, technicians could switch off the stimulus which comes from uranium or plutonium in a small feeder plant. The thorium reaction would shut itself off without any human intervention. A number of countries have explored thorium as an alternative fuel. Led by Norwegian company Thor Energy, thorium is being tested at a site in Halden, Norway. Nonetheless, critics warn that, if supporters say it is high time to turn to thorium, they say this is a poor time. Their concern is that developing new reactors could drain funds best applied elsewhere. Nils Bohmer, a nuclear physicist with Norwegian environmental NGO, Bellona, said thorium development was a distraction from the need to cut emissions immediately to stave off climate change. He called the advantages of thorium “purely theoretical,” according to the BBC.last_img read more

Researchers uncover evidence of people predating Amazonian rainforest

first_img More information: Environmental impact of geometric earthwork construction in pre-Columbian Amazonia, John Francis Carson, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1321770111AbstractThere is considerable controversy over whether pre-Columbian (pre-A.D. 1492) Amazonia was largely “pristine” and sparsely populated by slash-and-burn agriculturists, or instead a densely populated, domesticated landscape, heavily altered by extensive deforestation and anthropogenic burning. The discovery of hundreds of large geometric earthworks beneath intact rainforest across southern Amazonia challenges its status as a pristine landscape, and has been assumed to indicate extensive pre-Columbian deforestation by large populations. We tested these assumptions using coupled local- and regional-scale paleoecological records to reconstruct land use on an earthwork site in northeast Bolivia within the context of regional, climate-driven biome changes. This approach revealed evidence for an alternative scenario of Amazonian land use, which did not necessitate labor-intensive rainforest clearance for earthwork construction. Instead, we show that the inhabitants exploited a naturally open savanna landscape that they maintained around their settlement despite the climatically driven rainforest expansion that began ∼2,000 y ago across the region. Earthwork construction and agriculture on terra firme landscapes currently occupied by the seasonal rainforests of southern Amazonia may therefore not have necessitated large-scale deforestation using stone tools. This finding implies far less labor—and potentially lower population density—than previously supposed. Our findings demonstrate that current debates over the magnitude and nature of pre-Columbian Amazonian land use, and its impact on global biogeochemical cycling, are potentially flawed because they do not consider this land use in the context of climate-driven forest–savanna biome shifts through the mid-to-late Holocene.Press release © 2014 Phys.org Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Phys.org) —A team of researchers with members from the U.K., Germany and Bolivia has found evidence that suggests that parts of Bolivia now covered with rainforest were drier and more savanna-like just 2000 to 3000 years ago, a time when people were already living in the area. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how they took sediment core samples from lakes and noted large ditches dug by people that lived in the area during a time before the rainforests—their findings suggest such people adapted to the wetter climate over time, rather than moved into it and started cutting down trees, as has been suggested by other research. DNA study on mummies suggests climate instability drove ancient Peruvians to migrate Explore further Cutting of trees in the area recently revealed ditches dug by people thousands of years ago—each about a kilometer long and three meters deep by four meters wide. No one knows yet why the ditches were dug, or what purpose they served. But in this new effort, the researchers took core samples from sediments that had formed over thousands of years in nearby lakes. In examining the samples, the researchers were surprised to find grass pollen of the type typically found in the savanna, such as in Africa. The core samples also showed that people in the area were planting maize during the same time period.The discovery of the ditches and pollen in the core samples suggests that people were living in the area and farming, prior to the changeover to rain forest. As the rainforest took hold, due to an increasingly wetter climate (possibly due, the researchers suggest to a slight change in Earth’s orbit), the people living in the area likely adapted by preventing trees from growing in farm areas or cutting new areas to increase yields. These findings suggest that early people living in what is now northeastern Boliva, were neither hunter-gathers nor tree cutting settlers hacking out a living. Instead, it appears that they were simply farmers both before and during the onset of the rainforest.The researchers also noted that the core samples showed that rain forest plants became dominant in one area as recently as 500 years ago, possibly due to the disappearance of the people that lived there dying from diseases brought by European settlers. Citation: Researchers uncover evidence of people predating Amazonian rainforest (2014, July 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-07-uncover-evidence-people-predating-amazonian.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Researchers begin unraveling the signaling mechanism of a devastating crop parasite

first_img(Phys.org)—In sub-Saharan Africa, few agricultural parasites are as devastating to a wide variety of crops as Striga hermonthica, commonly known as witchweed. It chokes out such staple crops as sorghum, millet and rice, which show symptoms similar to those of drought or soil nutrient deficiency. Fluorescent turn-on probe identifies the ‘wake-up protein’ in witchweed seeds Citation: Researchers begin unraveling the signaling mechanism of a devastating crop parasite (2015, September 7) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-unraveling-mechanism-devastating-crop-parasite.html Striga infests crops by absorbing nutrients and water from their roots. Credit: ITbM, Nagoya University The seed of striga and fluorescence turn-on probe for analyzing the germination of striga. Credit: Shinya Hagihara, ITbM, Nagoya University Striga seeds are treated with Yoshimulactone, which show similar bioactivity to strigolactone. Credit: ITbM, Nagoya University One of the reasons Striga is so hard to control is that its symptoms do not become apparent until the parasite actually emerges from the plants, by which point it is too late to save the crop. Thus, it constitutes a major threat to African food security, and has led to the loss of an estimated U.S. $10 billion in production every single year. Establishing the regulatory dynamics of the parasite are thus of singular importance to researchers hoping to control or eradicate it.Though the mechanisms of Striga propagation are still unclear, plant hormones called strigolactones, which are produced by the host plants, are known to stimulate the germination of striga. About 17 known strigolactones have been isolated, all unique to different plant species, and the striga parasite recognizes its host plants by sensing the composition of their strigolactones. In plants, strigolactones function as both plant hormones and as signals for communicating with microbes. Researchers have previously identified a group of proteins in crop plants as presumptive receptors for strigolactones, but the receptor in the Striga parasite remains unidentified. Reporting in the journal Science, an international group of researchers has developed a fluorescence probe called Yoshimulactone Green (YLG), which activates strigolactone signaling and illuminates the signal perception activity of strigolactone receptors. The researchers hoped that it would elucidate the mechanisms of striga germination and eventually point toward a means of controlling infection and propagation.The current study reports the development of the small-molecule probe designed to illuminate the function of strigolactone receptors. The researchers looked at the hydrolizing action of a known receptor called AtD14 and applied it to the development of YLG, a fluorogenic agonist for receptors of similar type. YLG was designed to be recognized by strigolactone receptors, and the resulting hydrolizing reaction leads to the generation of fluorescent products. Thus, the probe provides visual markers for strigolactone receptivity. Explore furthercenter_img The authors report that in vivo, YLG successfully stimulates Striga germination, and 97 percent of the germinating seeds emitted fluorescence. “Thus, YLG functions as a flurogenic agonist in Striga, which cleaves the ligand as it is perceived,” they write. They subsequently searched a public database of Striga RNA sequences and identified 12 genes as candidate receptors related to the ArD14 receptor upon which they based the YLG probe. More information: “Probing strigolactone receptors in Striga hermonthica with fluorescence.” Science 21 August 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6250 pp. 864-868 DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3831ABSTRACTElucidating the signaling mechanism of strigolactones has been the key to controlling the devastating problem caused by the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. To overcome the genetic intractability that has previously interfered with identification of the strigolactone receptor, we developed a fluorescence turn-on probe, Yoshimulactone Green (YLG), which activates strigolactone signaling and illuminates signal perception by the strigolactone receptors. Here we describe how strigolactones bind to and act via ShHTLs, the diverged family of α/β hydrolase-fold proteins in Striga. Live imaging using YLGs revealed that a dynamic wavelike propagation of strigolactone perception wakes up Striga seeds. We conclude that ShHTLs function as the strigolactone receptors mediating seed germination in Striga. Our findings enable access to strigolactone receptors and observation of the regulatory dynamics for strigolactone signal transduction in Striga. © 2015 Phys.org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Science By evaluating the relevance of hydrolysis in Striga evolution, they determined that 10 genes in the YLG-illuminated hydrolysis trait coincided with Striga characteristics, implicating them in seed germination. Of this subgroup, two showed “indiscriminately high affinity to all of the strigolactones tested.” The authors write, “Thus, from a few promiscuous receptors, multiple specialized receptors seem to have evolved to detect structurally diverse strigolactones more efficiently. This would have led to each different strigolactone being perceived by a different combination of receptors.”last_img read more

Freestanding anode for use in helping microbial fuel cells convert waste to

first_img More information: S. Zhao et al. Three-dimensional graphene/Pt nanoparticle composites as freestanding anode for enhancing performance of microbial fuel cells, Science Advances (2015). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500372 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Science Advances © 2015 Phys.org Microbes strip power from poo Citation: Freestanding anode for use in helping microbial fuel cells convert waste to electricity (2015, November 16) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-freestanding-anode-microbial-fuel-cells.html Play The real application of the MFCs for running a timer. Credit: Science Advances (2015). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500372 center_img PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen SEM images of GA/Pt incubation with S. oneidensis MR-1: (A) top view, (B) and (C) magnified cross-section view of different parts of GA/Pt incubation with S. oneidensis MR-1. Credit: Science Advances (2015). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500372 Explore further (Phys.org)—A team of researchers from several institutions in China has developed a freestanding anode that can be used to transfer electrolytes from bacteria in wastewater to a microbial fuel cell. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes how they built their probe, its efficiency and their plans for improving their design. Treating human waste is an energy intensive process, with some estimates suggesting it accounts for 3 to 5 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. Frustratingly, scientists have not been able to find a way to use the waste to create the electricity to treat it, in a way that is efficient enough to make it worthwhile—much of the current technology centers around fermentation and burning the methane that results, but such process are not yet efficient enough to warrant use in actual wastewater treatment facilities. Another approach is to create sewage based fuel cells which would work by pulling bacterial electrolytes off the waste and using it to create electricity—that is the approach taken by the team in China.The new anode is based on a 3D graphene aerogel decorated with platinum nanoparticles—the team describes it as a “macroporous structure that is favorable for microorganism immobilization and efficient electrolyte transport.” In the lab it looks somewhat like a lump of pumice, the porous surface offers more surface area. The team tested the probe first with water infested with Shewanella oneidensis bacteria, noting how the bacteria became lodged in the pores of the anode. They further tested it with a microbial fuel cell and wastewater samples taken from an actual wastewater treatment facility, and proved the probe worked as designed by using the resultant energy claimed from the sewage to power a small digital kitchen timer.The research group acknowledges that their process is still not efficient enough for practical use, but suggests their probe is a demonstration of what could become a real application. Additional hurdles to overcome will include replacing the platinum with something much less expensive, and finding a way to make the probe durable enough to last for years immersed in raw sewage.last_img read more

Harmony and symphony

first_imgMusic created magic at the hallowed walls of Purana Qila when several rock bands from SAARC region performed at eighth edition of South Asian Bands Festival which was held from 7 – 9 November. The three-day music festival was presented by Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Seher. The Festival featured 14 popular rock bands from eight countries which are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Observer country – France and host India. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’‘Music has no boundaries, with the same ideology this festival brings together Asian countries. It also provides a rare opportunity for the Indian audience to enjoy and appreciate the music created across the subcontinent’, said Sanjeev Bhargava, Festival Director, South Asian Bands Festival.  ‘Started in 2007, the festival has become one of Delhi’s most eagerly awaited cultural extravaganzas and year after year people of all ages look forward to the best bands from the South Asian region to be showcased at the festival. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixComing together of some of the most talented musicians on one platform at the magnificent Purana Qila is the best and truest representation of regional integration through Culture,’ he added. This platform brings together the finest acts from the SAARC countries.  This year the festival featured performance by Alobo Naga and The Band (ANB) from Dimapur, Nagaland formed in 2010, they won the Best Indian Act at a European music awards ceremony in 2012. Pakistani singing sensation Zebunissa Bangash popularly known as Zeb, who recently made her foray into Bollywood with her hit tracks in films like Madras Café and Highway.  Known for her Coke Studio fame, Zeb mesmerised the audience through her rich and textured soundscapes and melodies yet again. The festival also featured a band from France – Success as a Guest Country Band, which is also the Observer to SAARC. The electro-rock band from France consists of vocalist YannChéhu, guitarists Julien Richer, Dan Voisin on the Electronic keyboard and drummer Joel Daventry, are known for their unique style of contemporary rock performance combined with traditional heavy metal, rock n’ roll and electro rock. Apart from them, the audience was enthralled by the electronic-rock band Pentagram from Mumbai amongst others.last_img read more

True grit from the heart of Jakarta

first_imgJalanan will go down in Asian cinema history as the first feature-length documentary film from Indonesia to have had a substantial cinema run. It has also won a number of awards, including the prestigious Best Documentary prize at Busan, Korea in 2013. Filmed over five years, the film follows the travails of three street musicians eking out a living in Jakarta.A year after Jalanan’s release, its lead characters, Boni, Titi and Ho are still being invited to talk shows or to star in small roles on TV and perform to sold-out audiences. As a tribute to the extraordinary popularity of this documentary film about three marginalised residents of Jakarta, Governor Basuki Tjahja Purnama (also known as Ahok) organised a screening for his staff in May earlier this year. “Guess what: ‘Jalanan’ screening moves Ahok to tears” headlined the Jakarta Post the next day. I finally caught the film at a screening at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), held in the Balinese town that the film’s Canadian director Daniel Ziv now calls home. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceJalanan started slow; I felt eased into the characters’ backgrounds via the TV documentary convention of parallel mini-biographies: the glib, devilish Javanese-Rastafarian Ho; the mellifluous Titi, tough, tender and full of familial piety; talented Boni with the sad childhood and ridiculously boyish face. Soon these three musicians began to sing their cracked hearts out, circulating through the city with vigour and indefatigable faith that lay within them. But while their talent, attitude and trendy fashion sense transformed them into cool cats for a little while, deeper questions began to surface. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeLike many perhaps, I was moved by the fragility of their individual lives. I found myself thinking ‘What makes you pick up that guitar everyday and make your way through the grime and gore of the streets and travel hundreds of miles on sweaty buses – just to keep on playing for a few coins? Why aren’t you giving up? How can you be so talented and yet live under a bridge? Why do you let your husband smack you around? Why are you invisible to the metropolitan system whose streets you pound?’ One doesn’t have to read biographies of the famous to find lessons about human tenacity. As this film reminds us well, this quality is evident in the lives of millions of people who end up in the crevices and fault-lines of society. For me, the film intensified when Ho got picked up for busking and ended up in a holding cell. I have no idea how the director managed it, but somehow we too were locked up in the cell with Ho. Ever been inside a prison cell with a bunch of people arrested for the most inane of misdemeanours? A little girl can’t poo, women sleep on concrete floors, cockroaches scurry and Ho croons on, spontaneously manufacturing ballads, lifting spirits and hopefully embarrassing the hell out of anyone in the government who saw this film. Here, the documentary morphs from gritty street-ethnography into socio-realist opera – a moving paean to harassment of common people.The movie isn’t the same after this point. This isn’t a tender, intimate account of buskers anymore; much larger issues are at stake. We suddenly see our lead characters as civilians riding the omnibus of a careening democracy, teetering on the edge of abandonment, only to stay afloat through their own resilience.Which Jakarta do you live in? The film asks this question of its local viewers. Is it the city where Ho has furtive, illicit sex in a shack next to a main road, where dismal urban planning leads to Boni’s makeshift home under the overpass to be constantly flooded; where Titi has to abandon her children and look for work to send her father a few dollars to help with hospital bills? The film does not sentimentalise the issues at hand. Rather than evoke pity, it drives home that any notion that the poor deserve their plight is a capitalist confection. These guys hold on to their dignity with admirable grit and a tenacity that would embarrass anyone confident about their next meal.The characters, however, manage to marinate their lives with love, humour and satire. Ho rhymes ‘reformation’ with ‘masturbation’ and pontificates on whether his country loves him back. Boni observes, as he uses the toilet in a luxury mall, that while the shits of all classes mix, people just can’t do the same.Titi visits her family back in her village in a lovely sequence that provides a breather from the urban squalor. It reminds us of the importance of familial connections, even in the lives of people who appear to be complete drifters. Her parents are gentle country folk who still can’t fathom why their daughter sings on buses. They admit to once having secretly sold her guitar for a paltry Rp1,500. When her father, looking frail in a white starched shirt, starts singing Japanese war songs, we know his end is near.The buskers don’t just busk on. The movie works because they formulate concrete plans, and the director, via his extensive filmic coverage—given definite shape through deft editing by Ernest Weiss-Hariyanto—makes us privy to their individual journeys towards achieving their goals. When Ho splurges several days of his income to surround his love-interest with plates of Padang food, we want him to get the girl but can’t help wondering about his ability to be responsible for a widow with three children. Later, when he tenderly cradles her eight-month old baby in his arms, I am gobsmacked by the transformation. Titi’s husband leaves her. Blinking her tears and indignity away, she studies for the equivalent of a school certificate to try for a better life. Boni doggedly refurbishes his ever-flooding subterranean accommodation despite constant threats of demolition.At the film’s end, Titi gets her school diploma and makes a heroic speech honouring her recently deceased father. Boni seems unfazed that his life could be uprooted with the single check mark of an urban development officer, or the next floods. Ho marries his sweetheart, looking ridiculously formal in a clean, pressed shirt. The audience cheers amidst sniffles.In under two hours, the lead characters of Jalanan have toiled insufferably for their money but have also dreamt, shagged, divorced, wooed, buried a parent, finished school, rebuilt a home, lectured us in economics and regaled us with great humour and of course, awesome music.Has life been a little trying lately?The author is a filmmaker. This review has earlier appeared in INSIDE INDONESIAlast_img read more

Baltimore braces for massive protests over Grays death

first_imgThousands of people were set to hit the Baltimore streets in fresh large-scale demonstrations on Sunday, a day after six police officers were charged over the death of an African-American man in their custody.As many as 10,000 people were set to turn out for a massive rally in the riot-scarred city, CBS Baltimore reported, in what could be the biggest show of people power yet in nearly a week of demonstrations that threaten to spread across the United States. Also Read – Pro-Govt supporters rally as Hong Kong’s divisions deepenThe Maryland National Guard said on Twitter it had nearly 3,000 soldiers and airmen ready to help “keep the peace” in the city.Police made at least 15 arrests when some protesters defied a 10:00 pm curfew Friday, underlining the anger that persists on the street despite the shock announcement that the six officers — three of them black — would face a range of charges, including second-degree murder and manslaughter, over Freddie Gray’s April 19 death. Also Read – Pak Army ‘fully prepared’ to face any challenge: Army spokesmanThe 25-year-old Gray’s death at the hands of police has reignited simmering resentment in the United States over law enforcement tactics, particularly in their dealings with the black community.Demonstrations have erupted daily in Baltimore this week, while there have been rallies in many other major American cities, including New York, Philadelphia and the capital Washington, in echoes of the protests that broke out across the United States last year over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.last_img read more

Queen voted greatest monarch in new UK poll

first_imgAs she prepares to mark a major milestone as Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has also been voted one of the greatest monarch the country has ever had.A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times has given her a resounding lead of 27 per cent, more than the combined score of Elizabeth I on 13 per cent and great great grandmother Victoria on 12 per cent. Also Read – Nine hurt in accident at fireworks show in French resortThe 89-year-old Queen made her annual appearance at the Braemar games in the Highlands yesterday, marking a tradition established by Queen Victoria in 1848.On Wednesday she is expected to make a rare public speech when she will overtake Victoria’s record of 63 years and 216 days on the throne.The Queen has given no indication that she would abdicate in the event of ill health, yet 50 per cent of her subjects believe she should retire if she becomes too ill regularly to carry out royal duties or appear in public. Also Read – Pakistan Army ‘fully prepared’ to face any challenge: Army spokesmanThe newspaper’s poll shows a drop since January, from 46 per cent to 38 per cent, in those who believe she should stay on the throne in such circumstances, even if it becomes necessary for other members of the royal family to carry out some of her official duties. Most of those with an opinion are also prepared to entrust her son Charles, the Prince of Wales, with the role of Prince Regent, with 43 per cent in favour and 33 per cent against.last_img read more

Assamese natl arrested with 1000 YABA pills

first_imgKolkata: The Kolkata Police on Saturday arrested an Assamese national from the city on charges of drug smuggling.Around 1000 YABA (methamphetamine) tablets have been seized from Muhibur Rahman (46), who is a resident of Nagaon district in Assam. It was learnt from sources that Rahman has been arrested from Beniapukur. According to the preliminary investigation, police suspect that he might have brought the narcotic substance to the city with an intention to sell them here at a higher price. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeIt is also suspected that the accused might have brought the drugs from Manipur. Police are probing the entire modus operandi. Cops also suspect that the drugs were meant for various night clubs in the city. An officer of the city police said the accused had been staying at a hotel on Tiljala Road since he came to the city. YABA is a recreational drug brought from North-eastern states and also from Myanmar and is generally used by party-goers. Each YABA tablet costs Rs 150 and total cost of the tablets seized from the accused is Rs 1.5 lakh, the office said. Police suspect that the accused might be a part of a smuggling gang that has been operating from the state. Probe is on.last_img read more

Whose history is it anyway Padmaavat taints Khilji

first_imgHe gnaws the meat off the bone, bares his hairy chest, has long unruly locks and laughs like a hyena. History doesn’t quite remember Alauddin Khilji like this, but that is the image Sanjay Leela Bhansali seeks to portray of the Khilji dynasty king in his film Padmaavat. The king is depicted almost like a barbarian in the film, which was released recently, after months of strife in court, on the streets and at the Censor Board.While members of some Rajput groups are still violently opposing the film’s release, a section of historians states that the filmmaker misses the mark, not in portraying Padmavati, a role played by Deepika Padukone, but in painting the Sultan as a barbarian. Bhansali’s Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh, has kohl-rimmed hungry eyes, a scarred face, a gym-toned body, wears furs when he is not bare-chested and rips meat off the bone with his teeth. Historian Rana Safvi believes that Khilji was anything but savage. It was under his rule the Delhi Sultanate heavily drew from Persia, one of the oldest and most sophisticated civilisations of all time, she said. “The rulers followed the exact code of conduct and etiquette as in Persia. It would have been very formal the eating, dining and sartorial choices,” said Safvi.The film, according to Bhansali, is based on the 16th century-epic poem Padmavat written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi two centuries after Khilji s death.”It cannot be ignored that the epic ‘Padmavat’ was penned centuries after Khilji’s attack. Jayasi wrote it in Awadhi, not any Rajasthani dialect. He belonged to a different region, pointed out Arunima Gopinath, associate professor of Women’s Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.The poet Amir Khusro, who flourished during the Khilji rule, gave a detailed account of the king’s conquests as well as his reign in the 13th century. The poet did not project him as a barbarian ruler either.Safvi added that the barbarism the film depicts in Khilji is to only show him as a villain and Shahid Kapoor’s Ratan Singh as a sophisticated rival.”Khilji was aware he was cruel but he was not the kind to be running after women and then conquering kingdoms. He was only interested in expansions and conquests,” she said.Alauddin was a “cruel imperialist” and a good military strategist who wanted to crush Mongol invaders, she held.”He was trying to strike terror into the hearts of others. He wasn’t religious either. He perhaps may have been the only king who didn’t go to read prayers at Friday congregations,” she pointed out.A section of academics believes the depiction of Khilji is only the latest move in a larger movement in parts of the country to distort history.Akbar has been branded a foreigner defeated in battle and efforts are on to erase Aurangzeb’s name if not from history, at least from road signs.There is a clear pattern to colour Islamic rulers as villains with no reference to any facts based on authentic sources of information, said Heeram Chaturvedi, head of department of history at Allahabad University.Last year, three senior ministers of the Rajasthan government backed a proposal to show in history textbooks taught at the university level that Maharana Pratap won the Battle of Haldighati against Akbar.”History cannot be rewritten in any way, which is what they are doing,” Chaturvedi said.He recalled how historian Gopinath Sharma, known for his research on Mewar kings and Mughal emperors, was abused and manhandled at a seminar in Jodhpur for writing that the Battle of Haldighati was indecisive, though Akbar had an upper hand”.Safvi is of the opinion that the Haldighati battle may have been inconclusive, but to make an individual as brave as Rana Pratap a victor through the backdoor did disservice to his memory.”I don’t think any brave warrior wants to be handed out a consolation prize. It would be unethical and one would probably not feel honoured to take the prize they didn’t deserve,” she added.Attempts are also being made to drop the words The Great, often suffixed to Akbar’s name. The author of the Hindi novel ‘Akbar’, Shazi Zaman, said the adjective could be used by anybody, as long as it could be rationalised.I think that everyone is entitled to deem a person great, provided you can rationally back it with credible historical records. But greatness is not a rolling trophy that can be taken from one and given to another,” he added.The film tells the story of Alauddin Khilji’s attack on a kingdom after he was smitten by the beauty of its queen, Padmavati. Hindu groups and a Rajput caste organisation allege that the movie includes a romantic scene between Muslim king and the Hindu queen.last_img read more