In a major decision that may have far reaching political and social implications, the West Bengal government has made Bengali compulsory in all schools, including private English medium schools of the State.The announcement was made by Education Minister Partha Chatterjee late on Monday evening at a hurriedly called press conference.”From now on, it will be compulsory for students to learn Bengali in schools. English medium schools will have to make Bengali an optional subject from Class I so that the students can study it either as a second or third language,” Mr. Chatterjee said.The Minister made it clear that even English medium schools affiliated to boards other than the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education will have to make provisions for teaching Bengali as a second or third language.Even though there are provisions for teaching language in schools, it was not mandatory that Bengali would be one of three languages for students.Other than Bengali, English and Hindi there are provisions for opting for Urdu, Gurumukhi, Nepali and Ol-chiki among other languages as the medium of instruction in schools of the State.The decision by the Mamata Banerjee government comes after a similar decision was taken by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)- led government in Kerala.In April last, the Kerala government promulgated an ordinance making the teaching of Malayalam compulsory in all schools of the State.During the Left Front regime, the West Bengal government abolished English in the primary sections of State run schools in 1984 only to bring it back in a phased manner – English returned to Class V in 1992, Class III in 1998 and finally in 2003, it was decided that the subject will be taught from Class I onwards.
The cyber cell of the Pune police have arrested a 30-year-old man for creating a fake Facebook account of Maharashtra minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Girish Bapat. The miscreant, identified as Hrushikesh Nalawade, hails from Junnar Taluk and was arrested on Thursday night.According to the police, Nalawade had used some photos from the Minister’s official account to give his fake profile a veneer of authenticity. He then used it to upload lewd and inappropriate pictures, said the cyber police.A complaint was lodged in this regard at the city’s Bund Garden police station by Mr. Bapat’s media manager, Sunil Mane who was alerted about the account last month itself.The police have registered a case under section 500 of the Indian Penal code (IPC) and Information Technology Act Section 66(C). Besides acting as Pune’s Guardian Minister, Mr. Bapat handles multiple portfolios in the State Cabinet including Food and Civil Supplies and Parliamentary Affairs. read more
The 17-year-old daughter of a debt-ridden farmer committed suicide by consuming poison in Pathri taluk of Parbhani district in Marathwada on Tuesday.According to the district police, Sarika Jhute, a Class XII student at a college in Beed district, ended her life as she could not see her father, Suresh Jhute, weighed down by the debt he owes to Maharashtra Grameen Bank and other local district banks.The police said they have recovered a suicide note in which Jhute says she did not want to see her father end his life like his debt-ridden brother, Chandikadas Jhute, who died after consuming poison on August 3.The note reads, “Dear father, I have seen your brother take his life after the rains failed and the crops dried up. I have seen you struggle to repay the enormous debt. The loans taken during my sister’s wedding [in 2016] only aggravated your responsibility. I cannot bear to see you in constant tension. I do not want the fate of my uncle to befall you and hence I am ending my life.”Parbhani and seven other districts in Marathwada region are facing 60% deficient monsoon in August. The districts have recorded an average of 75 mm of rain against the 202 mm received in July. The poor rains have caused farmers to panic as the benefits of the government’s loan waiver scheme have not yet reached many of them. read more
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Sunday claimed that the Left Front would win the Tripura Assembly polls, due in early 2018, and the northeastern State would be able to stop the BJP’s winning streak.“Seeing such a mammoth gathering and jubilation of people, I am certain the eighth Left Front government would be formed in Tripura after the polls,” Mr. Yechury told a Left Front rally here.Alleging that the BJP won the Gujarat polls by “dividing” people and formed the government in Manipur and Goa by “resorting to unlawful means”, he hoped that Tripura would be able to stop the saffron party’s election winning streak. The BJP fought intensely with the Congress party in Gujarat, winning it for the sixth straight time. It also wrested power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh. In Goa and Manipur, which voted in hung assemblies, the BJP came from behind to form the government in the two states.“If Lav and Kush in the Ramayana could stop the horse of victory of Rama, the Left Front can stop the victory trail of (Narendra) Modi in Tripura,” Mr. Yechury said.“The sun rises in Tripura before Delhi and the rays of the sun falls in Tripura first. The Left Front would form the government and show an orientation of alternative,” he said. The CPI(M) general secretary alleged that the BJP was a party which “indulges in communalism” and rules the country by “dividing people”.It was trying to forge an alliance with “communal forces” like the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, he claimed. Claiming that the BJP has taken the country backwards, he said it “gave us many promises, but did not implement them.” “It is a government of jumla or empty promises and people now do not believe in their promises,” Mr. Yechury said. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, too, alleged that the BJP was trying to forge an alliance with the IPFT, which, he said, was a “mask” of the underground insurgents who intend to “disrupt peace and tranquillity” in the northeastern state.“We have to resist the conspiracy of breaking peace and disrupt communal harmony in the state because peace is the first precondition for development.“Despite many hurdles, we will try to form a government of alternative principle and alternative development model,” Mr. Sarkar said. read more
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, under observation at the VVIP ward of the state-run Goa Medical College (GMC) hospital since Sunday evening, has shown improvement in his health, said a senior official of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on Tuesday. He said Mr. Parrikar may be discharged on Wednesday morning. Mr. Parrikar was admitted to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai on February 15 and was being treated for “mild pancreatitis”, the CMO had said earlier.
Three AIIMS doctors, two of them women, passed away on Sunday and four others were injured in an accident on the Yamuna Expressway near here, police said.A team of seven doctors from AIIMS were travelling to Agra from Delhi in an SUV which rammed into a canter around 2.30 a.m., they said. While three doctors died on the spot, the four others were rushed to a private hospital here. They were then referred to the AIIMS trauma centre, SP (Rural) Aditya Kumar Shukla said.The speeding SUV rammed the canter and partially entered into it, he said, adding three of them succumbed to injuries on the accident spot, while four injured doctors were rushed to a nearby private hospital for first aid.The deceased have been identified as doctors Dr. Yashprit (25) and Dr. Hembala (about 25), and Dr. Harshad (35) .According to Mr. Shukla, Dr. Jitendra, Dr. Mahesh, Dr. Abhinav and Dr. Catherine were later rushed to the AIIMS. The SP said immediate help was provided as the information reached the police through the emergency number, 100.The canter driver abandoned his vehicle and fled, the police officer said. read more
Two days before campaigning was to end for the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypoll, the Congress and the NCP workers were a dejected lot. The NCP workers were complaining about the lack of resources and the Congress workers were unhappy with the “half-hearted efforts” of the local NCP leaders. Meanwhile, the BJP was upbeat as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari were leading their campaign.Such was the BJP’s enthusiasm that it organised a meeting in Amgoan town of Gondia district, which falls under the neighbouring Gadchiroli Lok Sabha constituency. The BJP had 70 vehicles at its disposal while the Congress-NCP combine had just one.The BJP campaign targeted NCP candidate Madhukar Kukade and labelled him an “old, low-profile, dummy, scapegoat, temporary candidate”. There were also rumours of senior NCP leader Praful Patel reaching an “understanding” with the BJP, which Mr. Patel later denied.While Mr. Kukade was from the Kunbi community, the BJP fielded former MLA Hemant Patle, who belonged to the Powar community. A senior Congress leader from Kunbi community at a meeting in Gondia said, “They are calling Madhubhau [Madhukar Kukade] a weak candidate. Are we weak? Do we not have the power to get our own man elected? Let’s come together and show the BJP what we are capable of.” This speech charged the Kunbi community, the largest in the constituency with over four lakh votes.Congress’s Maharashtra unit vice-president Nana Patole, a member of the Kunbi community whose resignation had necessitated the bypoll, roped in fellow community members — Congress MLA from Nagpur district Sunil Kedar and senior Congress councillor from Nagpur Praful Gudadhe — for the campaign. While Mr. Patole looked after Lakhandur-Sakoli area, Mr. Kedar camped in Gondia. Mr. Gudadhe headed the campaign in Bhandara.Meanwhile, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar came to the constituency in the last leg of the campaign and arranged “resources” for the NCP and the Congress workers. By 1 p.m. on voting day, large-scale complaints of EVM malfunctioning were reported and created a negative atmosphere against the BJP.Mr. Kukade, 67, a former MLA from Tumsar assembly segment in Bhandara district, was with the BJP until 2014. He is known as “108 Ambulance” in his area for reaching anywhere within minutes after being called and being simple, down to earth and accessible.A local NCP leader said, “Due to murmurs of an understanding between Bhayaji [Praful Patel] and the BJP, Madhubhau secured the public’s sympathy. His clean and soft image also contributed to his success.” The BJP was also banking on caste equations in the constituency. The saffron party’s election managers remained assured of support from the Powar community, which has the support of around 2.50 lakh voters in the constituency.The BJP also hoped that the Teli community, with a strength of around two lakh votes, would support it. Maharashtra Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, a Teli, also campaigned in the constituency to consolidate the Teli votes.The saffron party also hoped that the presence of Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasang candidate would divide the Congress-NCP’s secular votes. The large crowd at Mr. Ambedkar’s rallies and the absence of the Shiv Sena from the poll battle increased the BJP’s confidence.With vast resources and administrative machinery at their disposal, the BJP leaders were confident of their victory in the constituency. In the last election, the BJP had won by around 1.50 lakh votes. However, the low turnout at around 53% on polling day only added to the BJP’s woes.‘Negative sentiment’Reports of EVM snags, the clean image of Mr. Kukade and the consolidation of Kunbi votes spoiled the BJP’s chances. A BJP leader from Gondia said, “The anger among farmers and rising prices of petrol and diesel created a negative sentiment against the BJP. That’s why the Teli community, which usually don’t go along with Kunbis, voted against us.” Mr. Patle, the losing candidate, said, “The Bahujan Samaj Party was not contesting this time which is why there was no division of votes. Heatwave resulted in low turnout and it was the BJP versus all fight. That is why we lost.” The results showed that Mr. Kukade secured a lead in rural parts and trailed slightly in two urban assembly segments. A visibly surprised Congress leader Praful Gudadhe termed the BJP’s defeat as the mandate of the common man.Mr. Gudadhe said, “Although we were working for the NCP candidate, the BJP was defeated in this election by the public. The common people of Bhandara-Gondia fought against an arrogant BJP and showed them that arrogance has no place in the people’s court.” read more
The historic feat of an 18-year-old sprinter has fuelled hopes for the future of athletics in India. But it means much more in her birthplace, Dhing, that has been running from an “ominous” present after losing the race to save its golden past. On Friday night, Hima Das became the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal at a global meet: the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championship 2018 at Tampere.The Hindu Editorial on Hima Das’ gold medalFor Dhing, constricted by a land-eating Brahmaputra and an influx of migrants, it was the dawn of a new day. Hima has been at the forefront of a movement against illegal influx. The town and five of the last Assamese villages on its eastern edge had basked in a different sun — one with the cultural and literary glow — 55 years ago when Ratnakanta Barkakati became the 30th president of the 101-year-old Assam Sahitya Sabha, a moulder of opinions. One of those five villages is Kandhulimari, where Hima was born on the banks of the Leteri (dirty) channel of the Brahmaputra.“Dhing has produced the likes of dramatist Basanta Kumar Saikia, actor Debananda Goswami and writer Anamika Bora. Yesteryear’s table tennis star Monalisa Baruah Mehta has her roots here. But Hima’s performance has given the place a new lease of life almost six decades after Barkakati lit up the place culturally,” Biman Hazarika, an archaeologist, told The Hindu.Also read: All you need to know about Hima DasDhing, which sits off Assam’s axis of development along a national highway 30 km south, is at the centre of the State map. The place was the epicentre of a British-era movement considered the precursor to the BJP’s 2016 Assembly poll campaign — save jaati-maati-bheti (race, land, and homestead). Cultural activist Mahendranath M. Dekaphukan launched Khangrakkhini Andolan, a movement to save Assamese identity, when the British began settling Muslims from present-day Bangladesh along the banks of the Brahmaputra in 1936.Centurion Rajanikanta Bora of Auni-Ati village, adjoining Kandhulimari, said there were only seven houses of migrants during Quit India in 1942. “Today, we are surrounded by migrants, both Muslims and Bengali Hindus, who tend not to interact with us,” he says.Many Assamese families sold off their fields and homes because of migrant pressure and became urban migrants themselves.“It breaks my heart whenever I visit Dhing, our ancestral town. It is a living example of how in one generation, one has to live as a minority in one’s own place. Dhing now has over 90% Muslims of East Bengal, East Pakistan and Bangladesh origin,” says Upamanyu Hazarika of Prabrajan Virodhi Mancha, or anti-infiltration forum.Writing on the wallThe last Assamese who won the Dhing Assembly constituency were Motiram Bora and Beliram Das (jointly) in 1951. The locals saw the signs when the pro-minority All India United Democratic Front won the seat in 2006 and retained it in the next two elections. In between, Dhing had become a byword for conflict. During the language riots of the early 1960s, houses of many Bengali Hindus were burnt. And in the 1970s, the United Liberation Front of Asom’s Luitporiya (the Brahmaputra riverbank) wing was formed here to ‘liberate Assam from occupiers’. Most of the cadre were from the indigenous villages around Hima’s.Also Read “Our first mission was against the migrant people of Radha-Ati, who were into armed robbery. Things changed after gunfights in 1983,” says Dipak Bora, coordinator of the Luitporiya wing.Radha-Ati, just over a kilometre from Kandhulimari, used to be called Assam’s Chambal.Ashafuddin, resident of the nearby Muslim village Khoirabari, trashes the influx theory. “It is wrong to call us Bangladeshis. We seem to be expanding because the Brahmaputra has taken away much of our land, forcing us to huddle in smaller spaces,” he says.The Brahmaputra that used to be miles away is now flowing 3 km north of Hima’s village.According to Tajmul Hassan, a sports secretary of AASU, Hima, as lifetime sports secretary of AASU’s Dhing unit, has locally been at the forefront of a renewed movement against illegal influx. She has also been vocal against Delhi’s bid to push the “non-secular” Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 that seeks to grant quick citizenship to non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, he said.Social changeBut some 190 families of Kandhulimari and adjoining villages know her more as an activist against social ills. In 2016, she led a group of women in dismantling an illegal liquor outlet at Auni-Ati. The outlet’s operator retaliated, filing a case against her father Ranjit Das, 52, and two others.“The last hearing was on June 27. But I don’t mind appearing in court [at the district headquarters, Nagaon, 26 km away] for a daughter who has put me on top of the world,” says Mr. Das, a farmer who co-owns 45 ‘bighas’ [a land measure] of paddy field with three brothers.“I had often protested her father letting her do whatever she wanted. I was protective, especially when she raced against a Sumo during her school days and won,” says Jonali Das, Hima’s mother.It so happened that the driver of a passenger vehicle ignored her, while giving the other children of her school, 2 km away, a lift. She was so angry that she challenged the driver and beat the vehicle to her home. “I scolded and beat her, but her father took it lightly. I now know why,” Ms. Das says.Hima’s uncle Sonaram Das, a retired employee of the Public Health Department, and aunt Puspalata Das, a retired teacher, also doted on her. They noted her flair for sports and entrusted her with Samsul Haque, an instructor at the local Navodaya Vidyalaya. Mr. Haque weaned her off football when she turned nine.“We used to chase her away whenever she would grab the ball and play. But she was so fast that we could never catch her. We were very patriarchal, admonishing her for doing what girls are not supposed to; but in hindsight, we might have encouraged her to run,” says Ratul Bora, a local youth.She practised running at the local field, a grazing ground, 50 metres from the house of their 17-member joint family. She practised before dawn when villagers would let their cattle loose, and after dusk when they would take them back home.“She is a raw talent with energy and positive attitude that is contagious. She does not care about who her opponents are. She is just focussed on outrunning others,” says Nipon Das, her Guwahati-based coach for the last two years.Bhogeswar Baruah, Assam’s first athlete to win an international gold medal (the 800-metre race in the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games), had once lamented that he might not live to see “another Bhogeswar”. “I was wrong. We have someone better,” he says. AFI tweet to Hima Das provokes backlash read more
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that the members of a Trinamool Congress delegation visiting Assam were manhandled at the Silchar airport. She said the Centre had imposed a “super emergency” in country.Hours later, as reports of an FIR being lodged against the delegation came in, Ms. Banerjee said lodging an FIR is not an one-sided process.“They have lodged many FIRs against us. They have also arrested my Minister … I am anyway here in Bengal, what they would do to me by registering cases in Assam. But they should remember that the process cannot be one sided. As you sow, so shall you reap,” she told presspersons.Trinamool MP Derek O’ Brien said: “The delegation did not go there to break the law. They are lawmakers, not lawbreakers. When they were told that Section 144 of the Cr. PC was invoked, they agreed to split into pairs to meet the aggrieved. But that too was not allowed. Super emergency is on.”The party alleged that the police misbehaved with the delegation. “The senior-most member of our delegation, Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, has a pacemaker. The police beat him up and they roughed up our women MPs too,” Mr. O’Brien said.The Trinamool raised the issue in the Lok Sabha too. “This is a breach of privilege, and we will move a motion against the Assam government, which is interfering with the free movement of people,” party member Saugata Roy said.Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, MP who was part of the delegation, said: “As soon as we landed, we were surrounded by hundreds of policemen and were illegally confined to the airport.”(With inputs from the Kolkata bureau) read more
A major fire was averted on a train at the Berhampur junction in Odisha on Thursday owing to timely action by railway staff. Officials said a jawan of the Railway Protection Force found smoke billowing from the S-3 coach of the Villupuram-Kharagpur Express as it entered the station around 10.35 a.m. Bhimsen Mohanty alerted officials, and the coach was immediately evacuated. An inspection revealed that a faulty battery had resulted in the fire. It was removed and the train was allowed to leave after a check.
When suspected militants barged into the homes of three special police officers in Shopian in south Kashmir early on Friday morning, the unarmed men were caught unawares — one was having a bath, another had just returned from offering morning prayers and the third was waiting for his mother to give him rotis for breakfast.A steady stream of mourners gathers at the modest house in Batagund of one of the victims, Kulwant Singh. His mother, Pushpa Devi, is inconsolable.“I was making rotis when a number of gunmen barged in, looking for my son, who was inside the bedroom. He was waiting for me to cook breakfast,” she recalled.Kulwant’s wife and father Dhoop Singh were away in Jammu when the incident took place. The SPO leaves behind a daughter and a son.“They [gunmen] promised to release him soon. Why did they kill? What was his sin,” Ms. Pushpa Devi asked.Nisar Ahmad Dhobi, also a father of two from Kapren in Shopian, had just finished his morning prayers when the militants entered his house.“As soon as he returned to his bedroom, the gunmen barged in. They asked him to accompany him. They swore by their guns to release him soon. They said he would quit the police force on camera and return home,” said Dhobi’s nephew, who last saw him at the gates of his house when the militants warned him not to step out.“What sin had he committed? Like other policemen, he was ready to quit the police force. Yet, they killed them,” said a relative.The gunmen came knocking at the bathroom for policeman Firdous Kuchay, son of Abdul Gani, also from Batagund. read more
A students’ organisation has advocated statehood for southern Assam’s Barak Valley because of a “sharp division” between linguistic groups created by the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.Barak Valley comprising three districts – Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj – is Bengali-dominated. “Organisations such as All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and the pro-talks United Liberation Front of Asom are making lives of Bengalis hell over the Citizenship Bill and NRC. It would be better if Barak Valley breaks away from Assam,” Pradip Dutta Roy, advocate and founder-president of All Cachar Karimganj Hailakandi Students’ Association, said in southern Assam’s Silchar on Tuesday.He also said that Assam beyond Barak Valley should be divided into three parts — Bodoland, NC Hills-Karbi Anglong and Kamatapur — to ensure peace.“We don’t want to hurt the Assamese people. They can live in peace all alone,” Mr Dutta Roy said, lamenting that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s dream of unity between the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys “will remain a dream”.Reacting to the push for Barak Valley’s statehood, AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said a few people have been driven by a divisive agenda to derail the NRC process and create differences between the Assamese and Bengali people.“Neither the NRC nor the Citizenship Bill is against the Bengali people. We have a cut-off date (March 24, 1971 as per the Assam Accord of 1985) for deciding who’s a foreigner and it is not based on language or religion or anything else,” he told The Hindu.“Our opposition to the Citizenship Bill is the bid to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis. And there are several communities other than Bengali among the Hindus from Bangladesh,” Mr Gogoi said. read more
As the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections draw closer in Odisha, the fate of four prominent politicians of the State — Baijayant Panda, Srikant Jena, Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray — continues to hang in the balance. Their being not affiliated to any political party at present gives rise to speculation in the Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies where they contested in 2014. Questions such as will they join any party, or contest the upcoming elections as independents, or maybe not enter the fray at all continue to be raised in public sphere.Mr. Panda, who quit the ruling BJD in May last year — four months after he was suspended from the primary membership of the party for “anti-party” activities — continues to visit Kendrapara from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 and 2014 elections.Criticism continuesAlthough Mr. Panda continues to be critical of the State government on social media, he has not been able to make up his mind about joining any other party till date. No one knows whether he will join the BJP or the Congress or contest from Kendrapara or any other constituency as an independent candidate with the support of either of the two national parties.Political analysts are keeping their fingers crossed when it comes to predicting the next move of former Union Minister Srikant Jena. He has been critical of both the BJD and the Congress since he was expelled from the latter on January 19 on charges of anti-party activities.Similar confusion persists about the political future of former Minister Bijoy Mohapatra and former Rourkela legislator Dilip Ray. Both of them quit the BJP on November 29 last year after they were sidelined by the party. “We can’t be treated as furniture in the party while the rootless talk big and project a larger-than-life image,” they had said in their joint letter to BJP’s national president Amit Shah.Speculation is rife that both Mr. Mohapatra and Mr. Ray, who played a key role in the formation of the BJD in 1997, may join the ruling party. But there is little sign of their making a return to the party so far.Since hectic lobbying has already begun in the BJD, the Congress and the BJP by those aspiring for Lok Sabha and Assembly tickets, the fate of these four leaders may be decided when the nomination paper filing process begins. read more
Poor King Richard III suffered from roundworms. Titi monkeys have sophisticated ways to alert each other about predators. And a video game could help protect the aging brain. Science’s News Staff Writer Erik Stokstad chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.Listen to the full Science podcast.Read the transcript.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Hear more podcasts. read more
In the 1860s, a British naturalist named Henry Walter Bates noticed a curious behavior in the animal kingdom: harmless insects mimicking the look of toxic ones. They do it, he later reasoned, to avoid being eaten by predators. His contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace added a new twist: In one species of widespread butterfly—the Common Mormon swallowtail—only certain females are mimics. Now, researchers have solved the mystery of how these special females are able to pull off their lifesaving disguise. Mimicry requires that one species copy another in exacting detail; otherwise a predator won’t be fooled. Male and nonmimicking female Common Mormons (Papilio polytes) have black wings with just a faint yellow band on the lower hindwing. But the female mimics have intricate white shading on their upper forewing that outlines the wing veins and patches of reddish orange and white on the hindwing. They also have a “tail” at the bottom of the wing. The pattern imitates that of the Common Rose butterfly (Pachliopta aristolochiae), which tastes bad to birds.For the past 150 years, however, one mystery has stumped biologists: Why aren’t there any incomplete mimics? Scientists assumed that multiple genes are responsible for these complex colors and markings. So during reproduction, some versions of the mimic-inducing genes should get mixed up with genes that confer the typical look of Common Mormons and lead to an in-between wing pattern. 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But “until now, we’ve had very little knowledge of how these mimicry supergenes work,” says James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who was not involved with the work.Encouraged by advances in genetic tools for tracking down genes, Marcus Kronforst, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, and his colleagues bred nine families of Common Mormon butterflies, crossing the offspring with the parents to narrow down the genetic basis for the wing pattern to five genes. One in particular, called doublesex, looked promising. In fruit flies and other organisms, this gene helps determine the sex of the developing embryo. Because mimicry in Common Mormons is limited to one sex, Kronforst decided to take a closer look at this gene.To their surprise, the researchers found that the complex mimicry employed by female Common Mormons is due to this single gene, doublesex, they report online today in Nature. The team compared doublesex’s sequence and activity in mimics and nonmimics. There were almost 1000 differences in the sequence, and in the mimics, the gene was more active.Still, even single genes can create a variety of colors and patterns in different individuals by swapping their components with the matching gene on another chromosome during reproduction. But Kronforst’s team speculates that this doesn’t happen with doublesex because it is inverted relative to the other genes, including its matching gene. That prevents mixing and matching of its DNA and explains why there are no halfway mimics. Females that inherit the flipped version of doublesex are mimics, whereas females that get the regular version of the gene are not.”It’s extraordinary that a [gene] as important as doublesex is tweaked to do all this other stuff on color pattern and morphology as well,” Mallet says. “The work extends our view of what a supergene is,” adds Mathieu Joron, an evolutionary biologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, who was not involved with the work. As originally envisioned, supergenes contain multiple genes. “However, this study shows that those multiple elements can be distinct parts of the same gene,” he says. “The study is remarkable.”Scientists disagree about how common supergenes are. “It is not likely that lots of supergenes exist,” says Deborah Charlesworth, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. But already researchers know that supergenes underlie mimicry in other butterflies. “They independently evolved a remarkably similar solution in response to pressures for precise mimicry in very different contexts,” Joron says. And there are examples of supergenes in plants, snails, and fire ants for complex traits other than mimicry. As the list grows, Joron says, “it’s of importance to understand how they are functioning.” read more
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Can you tell me why you felt the need to do a re-edit of Kites? Kites is not a typical Bollywood movie in my opinion. They shot it in United States. It was a western type of Indian movie. They didn’t go as far as they could. Culturally they just didn’t do things differently. I didn’t change the story. I didn’t change the integrity of the film. I changed the music. The music I thought was excellent, but it didn’t translate.Another thing that is different is that Indian movies don’t have as much sound as ours. I don’t know if you have noticed that. They don’t use as many sound effects. I made it feel like a big action love story with sound design that is more American style and I changed the voices of the actors.This to me is intriguing. There is somewhere at the back of your mind an idea that there is something uniquely American or uniquely Hollywood in a film. Brett Ratner Hollywood, I wouldn’t say American. I think it’s an opportunity the same way there is the movie Slumdog Millionaire shot in India and I don’t know how it worked in India, but it worked very well in America and internationally it worked very well. I think I have done the opposite. I have taken an Indian movie and I have made it a little more Hollywood for American audiences. What I would like to do is take an Indian movie and incorporate American stars into an Indian movie from the beginning.I am intrigued by the fact that we translate film from one culture to another instead of asking the audience to adapt to another culture.The problem is this film in particular is just a love story, not necessarily about the Indian culture. What I am saying is culturally there are some things that just don’t translate. It’s something that you can’t explain. My movie Rush Hour, for instance, if you show it in Japan they laugh at everything that they didn’t laugh at in America — you understand? I show the movie in Italy. They don’t laugh at all. You show in France they laugh only at the silly things. It’s hard to explain how audiences are going to react. I am talking of the specific things that happen in Indian movies that you cannot do in American movies. You can’t all of a sudden break into a dance. You can’t break into a dance in a movie if it is not a musical. Is the editing any different in your version of Kites?I cut the movie from 2 hrs 20 minutes to 90 minutes. The story is the same. Kites exists as it is. The Indian version has not been changed. In fact they liked some of the stuff I did so much that they changed some of the Indian version. But I didn’t do it. They did it. They just copied what I did, because the director liked it so much. If you give the same footage to 10 different directors they are going to make 10 different movies. The thing is that I kept the integrity and I respected the film that they made. If I didn’t like the original Kites I wouldn’t have done this. But I liked it so much that I thought that it was important to respect what they did. When they saw my version of the movie they were jumping up with excitement. Do you think this is a trend that it is something people would want to do in the future? RUSH HOURIt depends. I see the way the business is changing. There are big theater chains that are screening just Indian movies. Reliance is opening theaters in the United States. So I think the globalization of films is in full effect right now and I think what is going to happen is not necessarily what they did with my Jackie Chan movie or with the Indian movie. What they are going to do is to introduce Indian actors to our culture, to Hollywood. You are going to see some Indian actors in Hollywood movies. I think you are going to see some American actors in Indian movies. So it is going to open the doors for a lot for the globalization of films. Hollywood movies are the only movies that work in every country of the world. Why are American movies popular? Is it because of the some sort of “universal language” they develop?It’s the language and also the way we make our movies. Kites is probably the biggest budget Indian movie. We make our movies with $200 million plus. The spectacle of American movie is what fascinates everyone. I am sure when Star Wars came out, there was nothing like that in any other country of the world. It brought American Hollywood cinema to the world. It’s just that we make very impressive films.Is it possible that we would lose the uniqueness of films and they would all look alike everywhere in the world?Never. I think local movies will always be there. What is fascinating is that local movies in countries are starting to work more in the United States. That’s what is exciting. 3 Idiots got $7 million in the U. S. That is huge. That is the future. That is so exciting because of the open mindedness in the business. Local filmmakers never dreamed that this movie would be a success in the United States.Organically what is going to happen is that if you look in the Jackie Chan movies before Rush Hour, those movies didn’t make more than $5 million at the box office in the United States. Then I put him in Rush Hour, which is an American movie but that has Chinese culture in it, and it makes $250 million worldwide. So there is no doubt in my mind that you can take an Indian star and an American star and put them in a movie together and shoot in India or shoot in America or shoot anywhere in the world and it can be a huge international hit and that is where it is going in the future. Look at the pattern of what happened with Jackie Chan. He never had a movie gross more than $30 million in the United States. We made $30 million in the first weekend. So why was that? Because his Chinese movies were being seen on a circuit in the United States. It was cult following, but it opened the doors for much bigger opportunities. Related Items read more