News Wrap


The Bengal Government’s report on sharing the waters of the Teesta river, indicates that the river has only a sixteenth of the water that is needed for agriculture by Indian and Bangladeshi farmers, on either side of the border, during the dry season, which stretches from February to May, every year. Teesta originates in Sikkim, from Khangse and Zem glaciers, is joined by Rangeet at Teesta Bazar in Darjeeling, and enters Bangladesh at Mekhligunj in Cooch Behar, to join Brahmaputra. Eight dams in Sikkim use up 60% of Teesta waters, leaving only 40% for North Bengal. While water in Teesta in February-May is 100 cumec, water needed by Bengal and Bangladesh is 1600 cumec. The farm land fed by Teesta in Bengal is 9.2 lac hectare, and the farm land fed by Teesta in Bangladesh is 6.8 lac hectare. The land irrigated by Teesta in Bengal from February to May is 52,000 hectare. There are 54 rivers, other than Teesta, that flow to Bangladesh through Bengal.

As per official figures, India is the world’s largest milk producer, with 17% of global output in 2010-11. But this figure is suspicious, as all the cattle going for illegal slaughter now are milking cows, and this figure runs into lacs. District vets are never involved in any head count. There is no methodology till date, by which a head count can be done. India is the largest exporter of beef in the world. Half of India is drinking reconstiuted dried milk, falsely labelled fresh. The 37 pure cattle breeds in India, are on the verge of extinction. The looming milk crisis has been caused by the disappearance of India’s ‘desi’ cows. The indiscriminated cross breeding of Indian cattle with foreign breeds like Jersey and Holstein-Friesen has rendered 80% of Indian cattle in the non-descript category. In the next ten years, the projected demand for milk in India will touch 180 million ton. If India cannot keep pace, it will have to start importing milk, leading to much higher consumer prices. Artificial insemination has led to one bull inseminating thousands of cows. In India, it is the male calves that fill most of the trucks, going illegally for slaughter. Reportedly, India has about 3600 legal slaughter houses and 50,000 illegal ones, many of which slaughter cows.

Video Footage in J & K
The 09 April 2017 Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election clocked a mere 7% turnout. Budgam accounted for the deaths of seven of the eight protesters, during the poll day violence. A video surfaced a day after the polling, showing some CRPF personnel walking down a street, while being heckled, kicked and punched by local youths. There was no retaliation by the security personnel, who quietly walked to their camp, as they were under instructions to not open fire. The CRPF had strongly protested with the Jammu and Kashmir police, as its personnel and polling staff had abandoned the polling station early. After receiving a complaint from the CRPF, five persons were arrested, and a hunt was on for others, seen in the video shot in Budgam district. An FIR has also been lodged after a video surfaced in which an ITBP man was seen shooting right in the head of a stone-pelting protester, outside a polling station in the same area. A third video, shows a youth, Farooq Ahmad Dar, aged 26, an embroidery artist, tied up and plunked atop a spare tyre mounted in front of an army jeep, being driven around as a ‘‘human shield’’ on polling day. The tactic was apparently devised to warn residents, stone throwers and rampaging protesters.

Animal sacrifice
The age-old practice of ‘animal sacrifice’ will be back in practice in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, after a three-year gap. Earlier, the Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2014 had imposed a ban on ‘animal sacrifice’ at religious places and congregations. The Supreme Court Interim Order of 10 April 2017, observes that animal sacrifice for religious deities shall be done in an area [enclosure] set up in accordance with the law, by the Municipal Authority, in consultation with the Animal Welfare Board of India. The people in the hill state have deep faith on deities, and the practice of animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice would now be carried out in Kullu Dusshera festival this year in Lanka Bekar area, in Kullu. With the earlier High Court ban, symbolic sacrifices like coconuts had substituted animal like buffalo, male sheep, fish, crab or chicken, as offering to appear gods and goddesses, at the culmination of the week long Dussehra festivities. Animal sacrifice involved in thousands of animals being sacrificed every year, in the name of worship.

Erdogan’s Powers
In a referendum to grant new powers to Turkey’s President Erdogan, with about 99% of ballot counted, ‘Yes’ was on about 51.3% and ‘No’ on about 48.7%. Erdogan supporters claim replacing the parliamentary system with an executive presidency, would modernise Turkey. The two main opposition parties are challenging the results. The role of the Prime Minister, presently Binali Yildirim, would be abolished, and executive powers would be transferred to Erdogan. The President would also be able to appoint judges, pass deerees, and have greater influence over the civil service. USA and France too have an executive presidency. The outcome remains too close to call, despite the clear advantage in resources and airtime enjoyed by the AK Party’s ‘Yes’ campaign. Opposition parties complained of a number of irregularities in the voting, including an electoral board decision to accept as valid ballots, that did not bear the official stamp. The ‘Yes’ vote could also see Erdogan remain in office until 2029. The state of emergency decrees in Turkey, have allowed Erdogan to jail more than 40,000 people accused of plotting a failed coup, fire or suspend more than 140,000 people additionally, shut down about 1500 civil groups, arrest at least 120 journalists and close more than 150 news media outlets. Access to Wikipedia is blocked.

Vol. 50, No.5, Aug 6 - 12, 2017