August 08, 2020
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The Subcontinental Menu

In The Subcontinental Menu this week, read about Assam’s state health department which released a list of promotions featuring name of a registrar who had died and at why few contractual employees at Tirupti temple decided to smuggle out laddus.

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The Subcontinental Menu
The Subcontinental Menu

Late Promotion

He must be pleased, wherever he is. Dr Dhrubajyoti Das, a registrar at the anaesthesia department of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital (FAAMC), Barpeta, Assam, was promoted to assistant professor on a massive list of promotions released by Assam’s state health department recently. Great news? Perhaps not for Dr Das, who reportedly passed away two years ago. The list also features the names of a few doctors who had resigned from service. It’s proving to be a bit of an embarrassment for the government in the wake of a similar fiasco that took place in Bihar this June—and it has raised questions about the procedure, as promotions are usually cleared by a committee to which the princi­pals of the medical colleges are invited. Did the principal of FAAMC not attend the meeting, or neglect to point out that Dr Das was no more? No one knows!

Fully Unfurnished

Defenestration is when you throw someone out of a window—but what do you call it when someone has made off with all the windows? And the doors? Such dramatic events take us to Sri Lanka’s southern Province, where a married couple had taken a lease on premises and started a shoe business. This failed to make a profit, and the couple informed the Colombo-based property owner that they were closing shop. As the lease wasn’t up, the couple at first tried asking the owner for a partial refund; that turned out to be a little unrealistic. So instead, they requested a month’s time to vacate the premises, to which he readily agreed. He decided to inspect the place before the grace period was up, and found, to his horror, that the couple had already vamoosed, shoes, windows, doors and all!

Virtual Identity Crisis

Country, state, music com­­pany, person; we are all entities online. On YouTube, two of these entities are com­peting for the spot of ‘most pop­ular channel’—Swedish vlo­gger Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie and Indian music company T-Series. PewDiePie has held the coveted top spot on YouTube since 2013, but T is threatening a takeover. Bangladesh comes into the picture as a case of mistaken identity. In an effort to save the ‘indie’ Pew from a corporate takeover, fans from all over chipped in to help, including some Bangladeshi hipsters. Pew was very, very grateful: “Thank you, we have people working from the inside…I’ve never been more proud of Indian bros,” he said, thinking Bangladesh was a place in India. This rubbed some Bangla fans the wrong way, while some were more forgiving.

Ocean’s Seventeen

They came together to execute a devious master plan, and they seemed to have pulled it off—but it wasn’t the perfect crime. Not quite. During the Navaratri Brahmotsavam at Tirupati temple last month, on the day of Garuda Seva, devotees thronged the galleries. And so, the authorities decided to have the prasadam—laddus—handed out by a number of contract employees for the task. But a few of the latter hatched a nefarious plot to smuggle out laddus and sell them on the black market, using duplication and double entry to confuse the system. A probe found that 26,000 laddus were thus unaccounted for. There were 108 (such an auspicious number) of counter boys, but the authorities have identified 17 arch-conspirators who they planned to dismiss from service.

Sand Landing Saves The Day

A Pakistan International Airlines aircraft in the middle of what looks like the desert. No, thankfully, this isn’t the scene from a hijack. The passengers look ruffled and agitated in the video doing the rounds on social media, but all reached home safe, according to rep­orts. The desert landscape is on account of an arid field just near the runway at the Panjgur airport in Balochistan province. The plane made a landing at its scheduled time of 8:30 am on November 10, but one of its tyres burst, after which the pilot reporte­dly lost control and the aircraft came to a halt only when it hit soft ground.

Fish Out Of Water

It’s a snake; no, it’s an amphibian; no, it’s a fish. To be specific, it’s a swamp eel the colour of blood. Amphibian biologist Rachunliu G. Kamei was prospecting for caecilians, a kind of legless amphibian, in a Meghalaya rain­forest near the Khasi Hills when she espied the sightless, serpentine creature wriggling into the moist soil. Swamp eels had not been spotted in the Northeast. Somewhat oddly for fish, these creatures breathe through the mouth and skin rather than gills. The new species is christened Monopterus rongsaw—‘rongsaw’ being the Khasi word for ‘red’.

This Is Lucknow Calling

It’s not quite the classic cross-border propaganda broadcast, but the Samajwadi Party is collaborating with Nepal FM to put out promotional programmes targeted at voters in parts of UP loca­ted near the border with the Himalayan country—inc­luding Yogi Adityanath’s very own Gorakhpur, and districts such as Maharajganj and Siddharthnagar. The campaign focuses on the achievements of the SP government headed by Akhilesh Yadav, which administered the state until last year. The highlight? An hour of songs, broadcast from 9 pm to 10 pm, lauding Akhilesh’s deve­lopment initiatives, with many crooned by none other than SP cultural cell general secretary Dharmendra Singh Solanki.

The Nuke Scare Game

Frustrated at India’s “obstinacy” of not entering into a dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, some leaders of the country are talking of the likelihood of another “devastating war” between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. The president of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or what in Pakistan is called ‘Azad Kashmir’, Sardar Masood Khan, argued that there was no military solution to the Kashmir issue and it had to be resolved peacefully through a dialogue between the two countries. But he warned that if no serious move is made towards the talks table, there could be another war.

Pakistan has often fallen back on talking about the possibility of an India-Pakistan war deteriorating to a nuclear conflagration on the unresolved Kashmir issue. Much of this warning is usually given to convince a western audience or to those countries outside South Asia.

PoK president Sardar Masood Khan first paid lip service to ‘dialogue’ to resolve the Kashmir issue, but then raised the spectre of war.

Khan was speaking to participants of the 48th Pakistan Navy Staff course at Aiwan-­­e-Saddar on Tuesday. The delegation comprised 14 faculty members of the Navy War College and 92 course participants, including twenty officers from friendly countries.

Khan claimed that Pakistan seeks peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue but blamed India for being adamant and “its attempt to settle it by suppressing the voice of Kashmiris through military might”.

Khan, according to reports in Dawn, went on to talk about how the two countries have fought two wars over Kashmir. He warned that Indian obstinacy on the issue could bring the hostile neighbours to the brink of another devastating war. “It is high time for the United Nations Secretary Council to take a step forward and appoint a special representative to explore a viable solution to the conflict and ensure peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Seeking outside mediation to bring the two sides to res­ume their dialogue, Khan reiterated, “The United Nations and world powers need to intervene in setting a stage for the resolution of Kashmir before the two nuclear-armed states indulge in a full-fledged war, which will be a monumental disaster that will engulf not only the region but other parts of the world.”

He said that the recent report of the United Nations’ Commission for Human Rights on Kashmir, followed by a similar report compiled by All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group, shows that the world now realises the gravity of the unresolved Kashmir dispute.

Illustrations by Saahil

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