India Tales: How a hand pump came to symbolise corruption in Chhattisgarh
This 10 ft high hand pump at Thakur Deva in Chhattisgarh's Mungeli is a monument to corruption plaguing this country's rural hinterland.
For those old enough to remember, it's not unlike the bull that was paraded at Delhi's Boat Club nearly three decades ago to highlight rampant corruption.A tag on the bull's ear had been repeatedly removed to siphon off insurance money; a part of the ear chopped off each time the tag was removed. The bull had even been declared dead several times in government records.
"This hand pump is so high that a person has to climb on the shoulders of another one to draw water. It has hardly been used by anyone in the village," says a resident of Thakur Deva. "Not only the rules, even common sense was thrown to the wind when it was installed by corrupt officials and contractors. Neither was the land dug up to the necessary depth, nor was a cement base laid to make it useful. Moreover, it was installed near a ravine so that hardly anyone can reach it to fetch water."
The villagers say they took help from activists to highlight this absurdity on social media when the district authorities failed to listen to them. It was only after various online posts equated the height of the pump with the corruption plaguing the state that the babus woke up," said an activist who was part of the effort. "When the administration was ridiculed on social media, a team from the PHE department visited the village. Now, work has started to fix the pump." A government official, meanwhile, said the contractor responsible for installing the pump would be "held accountable".
Depicting Rani Padmini as the beloved of Alauddin Khilji landed Rajasthan Tourism in trouble last week. After the tweet was posted, Mewar Kshyatriya Mahasabha and Johar Smriti Sansthan Chittorgarh, threatened to take to the streets if it wasn't removed immediately.
They alleged that the tweet "was a wrong depiction of history" as Padmini had "laid down her life with hundreds of other ladies to save the pride and honour of Mewar from the aggressors".
The controversial tweet was posted from the handle @my_rajasthan, which is run by Rajasthan Tourism. It contained a picture of Padmini's palace with the caption: "Alauddin Khilji saw his beloved's reflection here and was so mesmerized by it that he led his forces to abduct her."
Tej Pal Singh Shaktawat, the secretary of Mewar Kshyatriya Mahasabha, alleged that depicting Padmini as the beloved of Alauddin Khilji was "an attempt to distort history and is an insult to our community". "On one hand, the state government is trying to rectify mistakes in history textbooks and on the other, its own department is creating confusion and distorting history."
"The brave ladies of Mewar performed jauhar thrice to save the pride and honour of Mewar and never compromised. The name of Mewar is famous throughout the world for this reason," Shaktawat said.
The legislator Suresh Dhakar said he had "no knowledge about Padmini being projected as the beloved of Alauddin Khilji. If it has been done, it's wrong and unfortunate. We will inquire about it, oppose it and talk to the chief minister to get the post removed."
Congress leader CP Joshi has written to Tourism Minister Krishnendra Kaur Deepa, complaining about "this wrong depiction of history" and urging that the "mistake should be rectified immediately".
The tweet was eventually deleted, and the issue was resolved.
India will soon get its first meteorological lab equipped with state of the art digital barometers.
The first digital barometer in fact has already been installed in the lab at Chikani in Alwar district, Rajasthan. "This will enable us to immediately measure atmospheric pressure. So far, we have been using mercury-based analogue barometers," said Rajesh Bharadwaj, director of Laxmi Devi Institute of Engineering and Technology, which houses the lab. "In the second stage, instruments to measure temperature, humidity, and wind direction and speed, as well as a rain gauge will be installed."
The lab will help predict weather conditions and natural calamities more accurately, and will provide important data for research work, Bharadwaj added.
Lending his support to the campaign for cow protection, Jainual Abedin, Diwan of Dargah Sharief, Ajmer,has demanded that the cow be declared India's national animal. "The cow is a symbol of the Hindu faith. Muslims should, therefore, set an example by contributing to the protection of the cow," he said.
"I am witnessing the turmoil being raised over beef and cow slaughter, which is creating bad blood between Hindus and Muslims. If these two communities start fearing each other, then the country is heading towards disaster."
"Cow slaughter should be banned and strict punishment should be imposed as is the case if somebody's kills deer or peacock. The cow must be declared the national animal so that no one dares even raise an evil eye towards it. If somebody engages in beef trade or brings it from outside the country, heavy fines should be imposed immediately."