NAGPUR: Nagpur, with its mix of infrastructure and culture, has the potential to become the centre of development of the country, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday. The President, who was on a day-long tour of Nagpur on Friday, visited Deekshabhoomi, where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with lakhs of his followers in 1956. Mr. Kovind also inaugurated the Suresh Bhat Natya Sabhagrah and a vipassana meditation centre at the Dragon Palace Temple complex in Kamptee area on the outskirts of Nagpur. This was his first visit to Maharashtra after assuming the office of President. “Maharashtra is the karmabhoomi of many revolutionaries, social reformers, and saints. The list of great social and political leaders produced by the State is a long one. Maharashtra was one of the main centres of the freedom struggle. Many important chapters of the freedom movement, including the Quit India movement of 1942, were written in Maharashtra. Mahatma Gandhi regarded Gopal Krishna Gokhale as his guru, and made Wardha his workplace,” Mr. Kovind said at the inauguration of the Suresh Bhat Natya Sabhagrah. He added, “Maharashtra is not only a hub of industry and business of the country, but that of its culture and art as well. Mumbai is described as the economic capital of India. By linking its heritage of education and culture with trade and technology, Maharashtra is giving strength to the entire country in the 21st century. In the quest for development and economic change, we have to take care to keep our cultural moorings intact. In this context, Maharashtra is setting an example for the nation.” He appreciated “the rapid development of modern infrastructure in Nagpur”. “The Zero Mile Nagpur, traditionally regarded the geographical centre of the country, has the potential to become the centre of development of India as well,” the President said. Earlier, at the inauguration of the vipassana centre, Mr. Kovind called vipassana an effective way to cleanse our mind and body. He said the ideals of Buddhist philosophy were reflected in the Constitution.
HOME, SWEET HOME: Western Ghat grasslands are tahr’s natural habitatAmidst news of spiralling conservation crises, the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a species of mountain goats, is today the bearer of good news. Found along the 400-km range of the southern end of the Western Ghats in Kerala and the grasslands of,HOME, SWEET HOME: Western Ghat grasslands are tahr’s natural habitatAmidst news of spiralling conservation crises, the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a species of mountain goats, is today the bearer of good news. Found along the 400-km range of the southern end of the Western Ghats in Kerala and the grasslands of Tamil Nadu, tahr numbers now touch 2,000. This is a significant improvement from a low of 1,200-the tahr count in early 1970s. It has taken 30 years and a unique participatory management conservation programme in the 97-sq-km Eravikulam National Park (ENP) near Munnar, Kerala to push numbers up from 500 to 800 in this single park.In a first of its kind public-private cooperation in wildlife conservation, the watershed programme was run by the High Range Wildlife and Environment Preservation Association (HRWEPA), made up mostly of nature buffs from the Tata Tea plantations that dominate the Kannan Devan Hills (KDH), and the Forest Department of Kerala. Under the programme, tea planters informally doubled as wildlife wardens keeping extra vigil even as concepts like nature education and participatory management of wildlife gained currency amongst the local people.”Conservation of the tahr must include the ecosystems and the protection of its habitats as also participation from local people,” says Mohan Alembath, president, Nilgiri Tahr Trust, Kochi. Alembath is a former wildlife warden of Kerala who oversaw conservation measures launched at the ENP. This private-public partnership is a dramatic turnaround from the days when shooting the tahrs was a favoured sport among planters and hunters. At that time, the planting of eucalyptus on the grasslands too had adversely affected the tahr as it led to the erosion of its habitat.advertisementA key group involved in the conservation programme were the Muthuvans group of tribals, the original inhabitants of Munnar. Some of them are enlisted as watchers by the state forest department. “People’s participation in environmental preservation and their interest in the tahr have contributed significantly to its conservation,” says M.K.Prasad, environmental activist of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.When the Kerela Goverment declared the ENP as a protected sanctuary in 1972, it set in motion a chain of events that have led to healthier tahr numbers today. The expanse of the tea gardens in the region have inadvertently aided the conservation effort. The agro-ecological system, where tea was the prime produce with a large expanse of interspersed wilderness, provided ample space for the tahr and other fauna.”Conservation of the tahr must include the ecosystems and the protection of its habitats.”MOHAN ALEMBATH, PRESIDENT, NILGIRI TAHR TRUST, KOCHI The tahr is among the few species of mountain goats that have adapted to a cold and wet tropical environment of the kind that is confined to an area not bigger than 5 per cent of the Western Ghats. The tahr prefers a habitat that is predominantly of grasslands adequately sheltered by rocky cliffs, enjoys a short dry season and receives over 1,500 mm of rainfall a year. Such a unique tropical habitat is restricted to just seven of the high altitude landscapes (1,200 m to 2,600 m above sea level) in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, particularly the one found in the southern Western Ghats between the Nilgiri Hills and Kanyakumari Hills.Yet, in spite of the increase in numbers, the tahr still faces many threats to its survival: habitat destruction, competition and disease transmission from domestic livestock and poaching for meat or commercial products. In order to protect the species, experts believe other issues too need attention. Some of these include institutionalisation of the management system, increasing the size of the tropical grassland ecosystem and developing the landscape approach as also the preparation of a comprehensive ecosystem plan still needs to be put in place.Experts on the tahr and other hoofed grazers, who had gathered for the fourth World Congress of Mountain Ungulates at Munnar, have recommended the extension of the ENP to the ecological boundary of the Nilgiri tahr population. This is easier said than done. It will mean establishing protected corridors in the Western Ghats and ensure that forest tourism and other activities respect conservation measures. There is also a plan to extend the ENP by 30 sq km and reintroduce the tahr in some areas from where it had disappeared. Further, a protocol for monitoring the tahr population and its habitat has to be developed to evaluate the economic impact of tourism and put in place a preventive action plan against accidents such as an outbreak of fire in the ENP.Call of the WildThe Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiritragus hylocrius or goat antelope to biologists, is red-listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A full grown male stands 100 cm tall at the shoulder and weighs about 100 kg. Females are slightly smaller in size and weight. Both sexes have curved horns, which are larger in the males, reaching up to 40 cm for males and 30 cm for females. Grey in colour, the animal is paler on the under-surface. Older males are known as saddlebacks due to the whitish hair that develop on the rump in the shape of a saddle as they age. The Nilgiri tahr live in herds ranging from six to 104 animals, with average group sizes of nine for all-female groups and 27 for mixed herds. Nearly half the population is in the Eravikulam National Park near Munnar. There is also the fear that any disease of epidemic proportions could wipe out the animal. That is why experts are against the tahr tracts being opened for tourists except the Rajamalai fringe of the ENP where visitors are taken up the slopes in the park’s vans. The tahr in this area of the park is not alarmed by the presence of human beings, which is also a grim pointer of its vulnerability to hunting and poaching. Also, the staff strength of the national park is very poor considering its remoteness and rugged terrain. “Protected areas have become the only beacons of hope for the long-term survival of the Niligiri tahr as with all wild animals of Asia,” says M.K. Ranjitsinh of the Wildlife Trust of India.A DNA profile of the tahr and a stock-taking of its scattered population outside the ENP is critical to guard against what Alembath calls “genetic erosion”. In order to obtain DNA samples of the tahr, researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have begun non-invasive sampling by collecting the tahr’s dung from locations across the Western Ghats.advertisementThe state governments too have begun to show greater interest. R.J. Ranjit Daniels, director, Care Earth, Chennai, points out that Kerala has set up the Nilgiri Tahr Trust and Tamil Nadu has put the animal on the cover of a book on the state’s biodiversity suggesting that the tahr occupies a significant position in the state’s wildlife conservation plan.However, the pioneers in protecting the tahr, Tata Tea and HRWEPA favour conservation through better management of the flora and fauna. “The tahr has contributed to tourism and generating funds for management through regulated eco-tourism is the only way,” says T. Damu, vice-president, Taj Group of Hotels. They are keen to promote private ownership and management of the tahr tracts and going by their track record in this project, few would bet against their success.
Rahul Dravid continues to be at the receiving end of controvesial decisions by the umpires on the current England tour as he was ruled out caught behind on Saturday, despite ‘Hot Spot’ not detecting an edge off his bat. For the third time in this tour that Dravid has fallen to a debatable decision as he was given out twice in the preceding Test series in controversial fashion. However, snicko-meter, which is not part of the UDRS, later suggested that there was a contact between the ball and the bat. Saturday’s decision yet again brought technological shortcomings to the fore under the UDRS system. England paceman Stuart Broad appealed for a catch behind the wicket off his own bowling in the fourth ball of the 18th over but umpire Billy Doctrove ruled not out.Broad opted for a review straight away.Third umpire Marais Erasmus from South Africa took help of ‘Hot Spot’ but even after several replays, the edge could not be established, though a sound was definitely detected.However, much to the astonishment of the fans and the batsman, Erasmus ruled Dravid out. In the third Test, Dravid was ruled caught behind off James Anderson in India’s second innings when his bat actually had hit the shoelace and he hadn’t edged the ball. Then in the fourth Test, he was given out caught behind in India’s second innings. Dravid was ruled not out by the umpire but given out for 13 after referral by England though the snicko-meter apparently showed that there was no contact between the ball and the bat before it landed into home side wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s gloves. Debates and discussions have already started on the decision. Cricketer Aakash Chopra tweeted, “The most reliable tool for DRS is proving the least trustworthy. But I’m more baffled by the quality of umpiring.” “How can d third umpire overturn the on-field umpire’s decision without conclusive evidence to suggest d opposite,” he added.advertisement
HALIFAX – Dalhousie University says its search for a new senior administrator will be restricted to “racially visible” and Indigenous candidates, part of its efforts to increase underrepresented groups on the Halifax campus.In a memo to the university community, provost and vice-president academic Carolyn Watters said the prerequisite is in line with the principles of Dalhousie’s employment equity policy.“We have embarked on the process of selecting a new vice-provost student affairs,” she stated in the memo last month, adding that the search “will be restricted to racially visible persons and Aboriginal Peoples at this time.”Jasmine Walsh, Dalhousie’s assistant vice-president of human resources, said Tuesday Dalhousie has been “deliberate and proactive” in its recruitment so students will be able to see themselves reflected throughout the university’s ranks.“This is a position where we’re looking across our senior admin ranks at Dalhousie, we note that there are representation gaps for racialized and Indigenous People, and so the decision was made to try and target our recruitment efforts to find qualified candidates who will help to increase our representation in the senior ranks,” Walsh said.The search comes after incumbent Arig al Shaibah announced she would be leaving the university at the end of March after less than two years in the role. She became the public face of the university’s high-profile decision to consider disciplinary action against student leader Masuma Khan who criticized “white fragility.”The recruitment process for her successor raises questions about whether such restrictions could be a form of either tokenism or discrimination.Walsh dismissed any suggestion that the recruitment is a symbolic gesture to give the appearance of racial equality in the university workforce.“If this were the only thing that we were doing, that would be a different conversation. But it’s part of a broader context,” she said. “We’ve been working hard for the past several years in relation to diversity and inclusiveness on campus.”As for the suggestion that limiting the competition somehow constitutes “reverse racism,” Walsh said the university is taking a “fair approach” to recruitment.“What we’re ultimately striving for is fairness in our recruitment processes” she said, explaining that university’s goal is to align Dalhousie’s workforce with the general labour market.The latest Statistics Canada census figures show that visible minorities make up just over 21 per cent of the country’s total employed workforce.A Dalhousie report from 2016 found the percentage of racially visible employees at the university was about 11 per cent.The numbers were lower among high ranking university officials, with only 4.7 per cent of senior academic management and 2.8 per cent of senior staff management identifying as racially visible.The Masuma Khan dispute sparked debate about free speech, inclusion and equity on campus and eventually led al Shaibah to acknowledge that the university’s code of conduct may not place two core institutional values — freedom of speech and the prevention of demeaning and intimidating behaviour — in sufficient and proper context.Al Shaibah, who has accepted a position at McMaster University as the inaugural associate vice-president, equity and inclusion, declined an interview request Tuesday.
Home interior design marketplace Livspace has raised Rs. 100 crore in its third round of fund-raising led by Bessemer Venture Partners, Jungle Ventures and Helion. It will be utilised to expand the company’s operational footprint across metro cities and set up new design studios.Livspace had launched the home design automation platform a few weeks ago.The funds will be used to increase Livspace’s presence in Noida, Gurgaon and Mumbai this year and next year it plans to expand to Pune and Hyderabad, the company said in its statement on Monday. It will also create offline experience centres using technology tools based on augmented reality and virtual reality.Using design, data science technology and catalogues, Livspace creates looks and thousands of pictures that are optimised for every home. It helps owners visualise their homes before making any on-line purchase.”We want to create a truly innovative technology company out of India, with large scale revenue, and a commercially profitable footprint,” Anuj Srivastava, co-founder of Livspace said.”By combining the principles of platform, technology and design, we have built Livspace into a technology-driven, consumer internet company that continues to make explosive growth across all business metrics,” he added.In the next one year, Livspace aims to scale up customer experience and make it possible for anyone to have a home in less than 12 weeks and modular installations in less than eight weeks, the statement added.The company competes with other online design and furniture brands such as HomeLane, UrbanLadder and Housify.Livspace has managed to raise $27.6 million since beginning operations two years ago. The firm has made three acquisitions such as DezignUp, Dwll.in and YoFloor. It was founded by former Google and Myntra executives. The firm is based out of Bengaluru.
Photo via Twitter Justin Trudeau @JustinTrudeauJapanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin TrudeauIn a major breakthrough, trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached a deal Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that was in doubt after President Donald Trump abandoned it.A statement issued in the early hours Saturday said an accord was reached on “core elements” of the 11-member pact. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the 11 nations said in a statement.It said that the ministers maintained “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.”In January, Trump pulled out of the deal that was championed by his predecessor Barack Obama. Leaders of the 11 countries remaining in the TPP had been due to meet and endorse a deal worked out in last-minute talks overnight.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier Friday that the 11 leaders had to postpone their meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam. Abe spoke after meeting with Canadian Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau, who had said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the U.S., the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.The U.S. president told an APEC business conference that “we are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.” He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to U.S. involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.The Chinese president drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific. China is not part of the TPP.APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments would eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. It’s unclear what the exact sticking points were, but officials have alluded to differences over the unequal impact more open trade has had on workers and concerns over automation in manufacturing that could leave many millions in a wide array of industries with no work to do.As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam. Share
Kolkata: In a major stride towards safety on city roads, the traffic department of Kolkata Police has already struck off five private buses that have been identified as unfit to ply. The step is a part of Kolkata Police’s recent drive to hunt down old and ill-maintained vehicles in the city that pose life risk to the passengers riding on them.”We have made a list of some of the extremely poorly maintained vehicles and the maximum of them are buses. We have submitted the list to the state Transport department urging them to take necessary steps to make them fit to ply on city roads. They have assured us of action,” said Sumit Kumar, Deputy Commissioner (Traffic). According to a senior official, the officials are checking all parameters that includes visual condition of the body of the vehicle, condition of tyres, passenger boarding steps, handles, rear view mirrors and the ‘braking system.’
Kolkata: In a breakthrough, Bidhannagar police have busted afake job racket and arrested four persons for their alleged involvement in this. Acting on a tip-off, the team of Bidhannagar police raided a guest house in New Town and arrested the youths. The police said that the four accused forged police recruitment certificates and Bengal Central School Service Commissions Certificates, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education Certificates, West Bengal Board of Primary Education Certificates, and Indira Gandhi Open University Certificates. A huge number of stamps and some laptops, printers, holograms were also seized from their possessions. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseDuring interrogation the accused told the police that they used to forge certificates and documents to not only earn money from the candidates but also assured them of providing jobs. The accused have been identified as Gopal Paramanik from Howrah, Avijit Chetri from Hooghly and Shantosh Sharma from Howrah and Tanmay Mahato, who is a resident of Regent Park area. Police have started suo motu complaint in New Town police station. It may be recalled that a complaint was lodged with Cyber Crime Police Station of Bidhannagar Police almost a year ago alleging that fake websites of government organisations have been created to cheat job aspirants. A senior official of the West Bengal Central School Service Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataCommission had lodged a complaint after coming across fake job portals. In a similar complaint, an official of the Group D Recruitment Board that houses its office at the Utility Building at New Town stated that some fake websites were created. Police however took immediate steps and initiated a probe in this connection and came to know after preliminary investigation that the fake websites were created with an intention to cheat youths after assuring them help to get government jobs.
Register Now » Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 4 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals April 29, 2015 Companies lose $18 billion in sales every year from customers who abandon their online shopping carts. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone, 79 percent of mobile phone shoppers ditched their carts, leaving a cringeworthy amount of money on the table. While shopping-cart abandonment strikes both large and small companies, it’s a much bigger concern for startups.Related: The Key to Converting Online Sales Leads: SpeedA quarter of online customers abandon their shopping carts because of complicated website navigation, and 21 percent ditch their transactions due to long checkout processes. Large retailers likely have the funds to address these problems. Startups, in contrast, often have limited resources, alongside their lower revenues. As more customers abandon their purchases, the lost sales create an unfortunate snowball effect: The rich get richer, and startups stagnate.But fear not: Applying these five simple, low-cost strategies will increase conversions and lower your number of abandoned carts: 1. Poll before you build.The best strategy for preventing shopping-cart abandonment appears early in the app-planning process. Before you build, research your customers to determine how they’d expect your app to work. Mock up the screens to put them in front of your customers before you build them. Knowing your customers and creating a user-friendly experience based on their expectations will undoubtedly increase sales.Continue communicating with your customers throughout the building process. Have them test your app’s features, and record their feedback. You’ll learn what’s most important to them — whether that means speed, efficiency, simplicity, security or all of the above.2. Simplify the checkout process.Avoid turning users off with complicated checkout systems. Some businesses make the mistake of asking customers for so much information that they decide to buy their goods elsewhere. Your customer should know how much work is left to complete his or her order. A clean interface with a short pathway to purchase will keep customers from getting frustrated.One simple way to cut the length of the checkout form is to allow a customer’s ZIP code to autopopulate his town and state. You can even automatically migrate the sign-up information you collected into the checkout form. That way, the fields are already filled out; the buyer just needs to confirm them.Related: How to Make Your First Ecommerce Sale (Infographic)3. Add security measures.A quick and easy transaction means nothing if it isn’t secure. Identity theft is a growing concern — more than 12 million Americans fall victim to it every year — and consumers are more cautious than ever. In fact, 17 percent of mobile shoppers abandon their shopping carts due to security worries.A good way to combat this is by using verification products and services that verify every transaction through a third party. These security measures ensure that all user information is encrypted and kept safe. Make sure your customers know that you encrypt their information. Customers who are nervous will look for security measures, and they’ll be less likely to ditch their purchases if they believe their concerns have been addressed.4. Send gentle reminders.One of the advantages of an app is that you can send push notifications to your customers. Use this feature to remind them that they have items in their cart, but be wary of antagonizing them. Program the app to send alerts only to users who selected high-value items or spent several minutes browsing before filling their carts.Push notifications can also be useful for providing purchase confirmations and tracking updates and informing customers of special offers.5. Encourage sales with discounts.Offer incentives to customers for making purchases through your app. Although discounts carry an initial cost, they can effectively grow your user base, boost customer satisfaction and jump-start your revenue if utilized correctly. Food delivery startup Caviar did just that by waiving its delivery fees for first-time customers. The company also offers a $20 credit to users who share the app and get friends to make purchases.These are five easy and inexpensive ways to improve your mobile experience and turn those abandoned shopping carts into sales. Listen to your customers from the get-go, and make sure they feel safe — soon, they’ll be clicking the “buy” button. Related: 4 Strategies to Stop Shopping Cart Abandonment on Mobile