Mevani demands probe into bandh violence in Rajasthan

first_imgDalit leader and Independent MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani on Monday demanded a high-level probe into the violence witnessed during and after the bandh on April 2 in Rajasthan called by Dalit groups in protest against the dilution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Mr. Mevani visited Alwar and Sikar districts to meet the victims of violence.Mr. Mevani addressed a “Jan Samvad” (public dialogue) programme at Mazdoor Kisan Bhavan – the CPI(M) State headquarters – along with a battery of social activists. He accused the police of registering false cases against Dalits after the April 2 bandh and alleged that the BJP government was suppressing the Dalit community.The activist-turned-politician said he would visit all districts of Rajasthan, even though the State government was trying to stop him from conducting rallies. “I will meet at least one lakh Dalits and ask them to take a vow not to support BJP in the coming Assembly elections,” he said.Fact-finding teamAt the invitation of Dalit Adivasi Daman Pratirodh Manch, Mr. Mewani went with a fact-finding team to Khairthal in Alwar district and Neem Ka Thana in Sikar district on Sunday. He also met the family of Pawan Kumar, who was killed in police firing during the bandh, at Jhaldi village near Alwar. The local authorities had imposed prohibitory orders at these place ahead of Mr. Mevani’s visit.Among others, social activist and Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy also addressed the Jan Samvad programme. Mr. Mevani will go to Ladnu in Nagaur district on Tuesday.last_img read more

BJP is now a two-men show: Shatrughan Sinha

first_imgThe BJP MP from Bihar, Shatrughan Sinha, on Sunday said if speaking the truth amounts to rebellion then he was a rebel. However, he ruled out leaving the party, saying he did not join the BJP to quit.“If to call a spade a spade is rebellion then, yes, I am a rebel,” said Mr. Shatrughan here, while interacting with journalists. Former BJP leader and Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, who had recently launched Rashtra Manch (National Forum), was also present at the interaction.Mr. Shatrughan said the BJP was not the same party he had joined years ago. “The BJP today has become a ‘two-men show’… today’s BJP is of “Modi”, internal democracy in the party has finished,” he said, adding that his decision to back the Rashtra Manch should not be seen as anti-party activity as through this he was working in the national interest and not against the party.“While I’ll not leave the party, yet I’ll not challenge the wisdom of my party (BJP) if they oust me,” he added.Mr. Yashwant Sinha said members of the Rashtra Manch have been travelling across the country to meet people and the feedback reveals that it would be an uphill task for the BJP to win the general elections due in 2019.“During the past four years, the government at the Centre has worked towards undermining democratic institutions instead of fulfilling its promises. Democracy is in danger and like-minded people need to join hands to save it,” he said, cautioning that once the democratic institutions are trampled upon, it takes a long time to restore them.Mr. Sinha said issues surrounding youth, farmers, economy, foreign policy etc. are witnessing certain kind of trends, which are not healthy for the nation in the long run.“With the Opposition parties coming together and unitedly fighting against the BJP, I am sure winning general elections due in 2019 for the BJP would be an uphill task,” he said.last_img read more

Estranged partners target each other

first_imgA day after parting ways, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP raised their pitch to safeguard their core constituencies with an eye on the election.PDP MLC Mohammad Khurshid Alam likened the BJP’s pull-out to the August 9, 1953 toppling of the popular government headed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.“History is repeating itself in the State and the last time a similar incident was witnessed on August 9, 1953 when a people’s government was toppled by New Delhi. Let those who are holding confabulations against the special status of the State become aware that the PDP isn’t going to succumb to any pressure and it will keep fighting for people, their dignity and honour with strong will and courage,” Mr. Alam said.He said the reasons that the BJP gave for pulling out “are worth to hail and the party feels proud of such reasons”. “The reasons are demands made by Mehbooba Mufti for talks with Pakistan and separatists, withdrawal of the cases against the stone throwers, implementation of the ceasefire on ground and measures to be taken for successful dialogue and reconciliation,” he said.The BJP celebrated the end of the PDP-BJP rule. “There will be a renewed focus to deal with terrorists and maintain law and order in Kashmir. There will be no cease but fire now onwards, very intense fire. The Amarnath yatra will be held will necessary arrangements,” said jubilant BJP state president Ravinder Raina in Jammu.He said the BJP was worried about the “shaky security scenario”.last_img read more

Uttar Pradesh Police admit youth was lynched

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday admitted that a youth in Bareilly district was lynched to death by a mob after they suspected that he wast trying to steal their buffaloes, hours after they had claimed that he died due to a drug overdose. The youth had recently returned from Dubai, where he had worked in an embroidery unit.The police was forced to backtrack on their version after the post-mortem report contradicted their claim and revealed that the youth had died of internal injuries. The youth, identified as Shahrukh Khan, died on Wednesday morning after he was allegedly thrashed by a mob in Bholapur Hindoliya village in Cantonment area of Bareilly. According to the police, Shahrukh along with three friends had gone to the village early on Wednesday, with the intention of stealing buffaloes. “They were running away with the buffaloes when the villagers chased them. While three persons managed to escape, the fourth (Shahrukh) was caught by the villagers, who handed him over to the dial 100 police services,”said Abhinandan, SP city Bareilly. The youth was allegedly thrashed by the villagers following which the police took him to the district hospital where he succumbed the next morning. Initially, the officer had claimed that the youth, who he said was a “habitual drug” abuser, had died due to an overdose. Based on the panchayatnama report, Mr. Abhinandan had said that Shahrukh did not have external injuries on his body and as per doctors he “had consumed something due to which he died.” However, the autopsy report contradicted the police claim and revealed that Shahrukh had received serious injuries to his kidneys and liver, and did not show an overdose of substance. Mr. Abhinandan confirmed to The Hindu that Shahrukh had died due to the mob lynching. “The post-mortem showed that he had some internal injuries because of which he died. The injuries were suffered due to the assault,” Mr. Abhinandan said.Shahrukh’s brother Firoz Khan, however, dismissed the police allegation that his brother had gone to the village to steal buffaloes. He alleged that the three youths he was with took him to the village and fed him some tablets.last_img read more

BJP is a party of sycophants: Yashwant Sinha

first_imgStating that ‘Modi magic’ was on the wane, former Union Minister and ex-BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said the electorate had expressed their ire and frustration. Mr. Sinha, one of the bitter critics of the Narendra Modi regime, lauded Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s conduct and democratic style of functioning which enabled his party to come back in the Assembly polls.Commenting that Mr. Gandhi knew how to move with everyone, he said: “The BJP says it does not have an alternative for Mr. Modi, but the country will chose its alternative soon …The BJP will now have to think ten times before denigrating Rahul Gandhi as ‘pappu’,” Mr. Sinha said while delivering a lecture at the Pune Patrakar Sangh. He said soon after the results, he had received phone calls from several BJP leaders from Jharkhand, who were secretly happy at their own party’s defeat.Saying that everybody in the BJP was frightened of Mr. Modi, he added that nobody within the party had raised a voice against him [Mr. Modi] and party president Amit Shah despite the party’s spectacular defeat in the key states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.“For the last four-and-a-half years, Narendra Modi has been deified by sycophants in the party who think he can do no wrong…Modi thinks he can play God and can bypass the council of ministers. But this defeat will put a check on his arrogance,” Mr. Sinha said, stating that it appeared all administrative activities and policy decisions emanated from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).The veteran politician, who held the Finance and External Affairs portfolios under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (1998-2004), hit out at Mr. Modi’s ‘dictatorship’ and said the BJP’s losses had taken the wind out of its sails.Hitting out at Mr. Modi’s highly authoritarian manner of functioning, Mr. Sinha said that due procedures had been bypassed in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal with the Defence Ministry left in the dark.“The entire nation is being run only by two persons, Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah [BJP president]. The council of ministers is never taken into confidence while implementing any important policy decision,” he said.Observing that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was reduced to being a ‘Twitter Minister’, Mr. Sinha said: “When I was External Affairs Minister under Mr. Vajpayee, he always used to consult me and take me along during his foreign visits. But that portfolio today is sadly reduced to being a political sinecure as Mr. Modi does not bother to consult the External Affairs Minister.”Similarly, he observed that the Finance Ministry was all but ignored in the momentous decision on demonetisation.“Demonetisation has achieved nothing except wiping out the livelihood of crores of small traders and bringing about widespread unemployment,” he said.Mr. Sinha further commented that nobody in the BJP would get a get a shot at leading the party as long as Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah were in control. “There does not seem to be any likelihood of someone else like Nitin Gadkari leading the party as long as Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah are driving the BJP,” he said.last_img read more

Maharashtra industries’ body to hit the streets against high power bills

first_imgDemanding a rollback of the hike in power tariff for industrial use, the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (MACCIA), the apex industries’ body in the State, has called on its representatives across the State to protest in front of the respective district collector’s office on February 12.Santosh Mandlecha, the president of MACCIA, said on Wednesday, “We demand that the hike in power tariff announced for industries from September 2018 should be cancelled and electricity rates for industrial use should be kept constant till March 2020 as per the decision of November 2016.” Mr. Mandlecha said the government would have to pay ₹3,400 crore to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited to compensate for the change in tariff for the period from September 2018 to March 2020.According to industry representatives, even though the power tariff announced by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission is 3% to 6%, the lack of a power factor incentive and a penalty applied has caused electricity bills of industrial units to go up by 20% to 25%.According to Pratap Hogade, president, Maharashtra Electricity Consumer Organisation, the increase in power tariff is directly affecting the industrial and economic growth of the State. “Ideally, the rise in electricity use from 2011-12 to present should have been 40%, but it stands at around only 10%. This also reflects that industrial growth hasn’t been very encouraging,” Mr. Hogade said.The MACCIA representatives from across the State will meet district-wise MLAs, MPs and other elected representatives to submit the memorandum of demands. A detailed letter will be sent to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Energy Minister Chandrashekar Bawankule. “We will burn copies of the power bills in front of the collector’s office on February 12,” Mr. Mandlecha said.last_img read more

NCP wants Sharad Pawar to contest from Madha

first_imgA day after he hosted opposition leaders at his house in Delhi, leaders of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday unanimously insisted that party president Sharad Pawar contest the Lok Sabha elections from Madha. Mr. Pawar has earlier represented the seat in 2009. “We all have asked Sharad Pawarji to contest from Madha Lok Sabha seat. We have not only requested, but insisted that he listen to us. We are sure that he will accept our demand. We are not making any official announcement as of now, but will do so soon, when he asks us to,” said former Union minister and senior NCP leader Praful Patel after the party’s meeting to finalise candidates. Madha is held by NCP’s Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil. According to party insiders, Mr. Pawar, known for his cordial relations across parties, could turn out be the ‘gathering point’ for all in case no party reaches the majority mark. The party is thinking that his entry to Parliament in 2019 should be through Lok Sabha ensuring his absolute control over the proceedings in a post-poll scenario. Mr Patel said Mr. Pawar received feedback on his candidature from all party leaders at the meeting that he should contest the Lok Sabha polls. “This is not going to be an ordinary poll. The number does count and in addition his candidature from Madha will surely impact neighbouring Lok Sabha constituencies as well,” said party spokesperson Nawab Malik. Former deputy Chief Minister and Mr Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar said that while he has not announced his decision yet, he is sure that NCP chief will be contesting the Lok Sabha poll. “He said that he respects the opinion of all of us, but final decision is yet to be taken,” said Mr Pawar. Mr. Pawar’s possible candidature from Madha raises the allegation of dynastic politics against the NCP. His daughter Supriya Sule currently represents Baramati Lok Sabha seat and will be the candidate for 2019 polls as well. Ajit Pawar’s son Parth Pawar is said to be interested in contesting from Maval seat. Ajit Pawar represents Baramati assembly constituency, while Rohit Pawar — one of the grandsons of Sharad Pawar — is also said to be interested in contesting the 2019 assembly polls. Meanwhile, NCP leaders in their meeting on Thursday cleared the alliance with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). The development takes place after Ajit Pawar’s meeting with him on Wednesday. “I informed the party about our meeting. We are positive about taking MNS along and have agreed for it. We will be talking to Congress over the matter and soon a decision would be reached,” he said.last_img read more

NHRC Special Rapporteur to probe farmer deaths

first_imgThe National Human Rights Commission has directed its East Zone Special Rapporteur to conduct a detail enquiry into incidents of farmers taking their own lives in Odisha.Retired IPS officer B.B. Mishra, Special Rapporteur for West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has been asked to submit a report by next month. Rights activist Pradip Pradhan had filed a complaint alleging that 30 debt-ridden farmers in 12 districts of Odisha had taken their lives in 2015 due to crop failure. He said that a civil society group had visited the victims’ families to investigate the deaths and their socio-economic condition. They had also met a cross-section of people, including government officials.last_img

Family cries foul as inmate dies in custody in Kota

first_imgAn ailing jail inmate died in police custody at a hospital in Rajasthan’s Kota town on Friday night after the police guards accompanying him allegedly assaulted him. Two of the policemen were shunted out after the family members of the deceased protested outside the mortuaryMohammed Ramzan, 60, a resident of Baran district’s Mangrol, was serving a sentence in the district jail He was shifted to the New Medical College Hospital in Kota for treatment, when he complained of pain.A video that surfaced before Mr. Ramzan’s death, shows him telling that three police guards had beaten him with metal pipes, corroborating his family’s version of him being tortured to death.Ramzan was admitted to Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital in Jaipur from April 21 to 25 for treatment when his condition deteriorated. The family, which met him once in Jaipur, was informed that the patient had been transferred back to Kota, where he died in the prisoners ward at the New Medical College Hospital.Video evidence He said – in the video recorded by a family member during his treatment in Jaipur – the guards were inebriated and would thrash him when he cried in pain.The family members alleged the jail authorities did not give proper medical treatment to Ramzan when he fell sick. The deceased also faced communal slur, according to the family.Police assure inquiryAfter the family members, accompanied by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) members staged a protest and refused to accept the body, Kota Superintendent of Police Deepak Bhargava assured them of an inquiry by the Judicial Magistrate. The post-mortem was conducted by a medical board and the body handed over to the family.The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has shot off a petition to the National Human Rights Commission demanding registration of an FIR against the police guards allegedly involved in custodial violence that led to Ramzan’s death. It also sought an inquiry by the hospital into violence in the prisoners’ ward and payment of compensation to the deceased’s family.‘Communally targeted violence’ allegedPUCL-Rajasthan president Kavita Srivastava said the “communally targeted violence” by the authorities amounted to violation of human rights of persons of minority communities lodged in various correctional institutions across the country.last_img read more

‘Our alliance is one of ideas’

first_imgBahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati on Friday termed the BSP-Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance a combine of ideas.“Unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party, this alliance is one of ideas and it will not sit silent till it uproots the Yogi Adityanath government along with the Narendra Modi government,” the BSP chief said, addressing rallies for the candidates of the alliance in Mirzapur and Chandauli.“The sad faces of the BJP leaders after the completion of six phases of polling indicate that they know it’s time for the Modi government to go. Their bad days will start from May 23. After that, preparations for Adityanath to return to his mutt will start,” she said.Seeing the party’s sorry state of affairs in the polls, the BJP and its supporters tried to create misunderstanding between the BSP and the SP but they failed, said Ms. Mayawati.“This alliance has been formed after due consideration and will last long,” she asserted.Ms. Mayawati exhorted the electorate to ensure BJP State unit president Mahendra Nath Pandey, in the fray for the Chandauli seat, loses his deposit. She said the amount of work the BSP and the SP have done for the sisters and daughters of the State had not been done by any other party.She said when in power her government had taken steps to connect Maoist-hit areas with development works.“Instead of killing Maoists, we extended employment and food. We gave employment to the poor people of Sonebhadra (a Maoist-hit area) and later the SP government did a lot of work in this direction,” she said.Praise for AkhileshStating that SP president Akhilesh Yadav had put in a lot of effort to ensure BSP candidates fared well in the polls, Ms. Mayawati said it was the BSP’s moral responsibility to ensure the victory of the SP candidate from Chandauli.Mr. Yadav, in his address, said the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ had wiped off the BJP in the six phases of polling because of which their leaders were having sleepless nights.“As May 23 is nearing, their (BJP) fear is rising,” he said.last_img read more

Babies Are Born With Some Math Skills

first_imgIf a 6-month-old can distinguish between 20 dots and 10 dots, she’s more likely to be a good at math in preschool. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that part of our proficiency at addition and subtraction may simply be something we’re born with.Researchers have long wondered where our math skills come from. Are they innate, or should we credit studying and good teachers—or some combination of the two? “Math ability is a very complex concept, and there are a lot of actors that play into it,” says Ariel Starr, a graduate student in psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.One of those actors appears to be the approximate number system, or the intuitive capacity to discern between groups of objects of varying magnitudes. We share this talent with numerous other animals, including rats, monkeys, birds, and fish. Some of those animals, for example, can match the number of sounds they hear to the number of objects they see, while others can watch handlers place different numbers of food items into buckets, and then choose the bucket with the most food. For ancient humans, this skill would have been an asset, Starr explains, by helping a group of humans determine if predators outnumbered them, for example.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(*)Researchers suspect that this intuitive number sense may play into humanity’s unique ability to use symbols to do math. While both a monkey and a human can look at photos of 20 and 30 dots and then choose a photo of 50 dots to represent that total value, only a human can add the symbolic Arabic numerals for 20 and 30 together to get 50.Past studies have investigated intuitive number sense in humans ranging in age from preschoolers to college students. Some researchers asked those study participants to take math tests and judge approximate numbers on the spot, while others compared a participant’s current intuitive number sense to their past standardized math test scores. Those people who are best at math, researchers found, also tend to be good at approximating numbers. But these tests presented a chicken-or-egg situation: Does excelling at math sharpen a person’s ability to approximate numbers, or are people who are good at approximating numbers most likely to go on to excel at math?Now, a new study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences clarifies the direction of that relationship. The study confirms that a child’s ability to approximate numbers seems to act as a foundation for developing math skills later in life.To get around some of the caveats with earlier work, the researchers turned to infants who had not yet learned to talk or manipulate numbers. Starting with babies “is really critical because a lot of math-related education happens informally through parents, society, and in preschool,” says Michele Mazzocco, a professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who was not involved in the study. In other words, infants provide a relatively clean slate for judging how intuitive number sense later relates to math abilities. “This is a very important contribution,” she says.Starr and her colleagues recruited 48 6-month-old infants to briefly join them in the lab. The researchers showed the babies opposing images of two sets of dots that flashed before them on a screen. One side of the screen always contained 10 dots, which were arranged in various patterns. The other side alternated between 10 and 20 dots, also arranged in various patterns. The team tracked the infants’ gaze—a common method for judging infant cognition—to see which set of dots they preferred to watch. Babies prefer to look at new things to old things, so the pattern of dots that flashed between arrays of 10 and 20 should appear more interesting to infants because the dots were changing not just in position, but in number. Both screens changed dot position simultaneously, so in theory, the flashing pattern changes were equally distracting. If an infant indicated that she picked up on the difference in dot numbers by preferentially staring at the 10- and 20-dot side of the screen, the researchers concluded that her intuitive number sense was at work.To see how, if at all, the infants’ intuitive number sense related to their math ability later in life, 3 years later, the researchers invited those same babies to return to the lab. The team asked the children to complete a set of standardized tests that measure math ability, intuitive number sense, understanding of number words, and general intelligence. The researchers tested whether children knew what Arabic numerals meant, for example, and asked them to solve word problems such as, “If Johnnie has one cookie and them his mom gives him three more cookies, how many cookies does he have?” They also asked the children to complete visual arithmetic problems, such as showing them an image of two tokens, replacing that image with another depicting three tokens and then asking them how many tokens exist in total. To account for differences in general intelligence, the kids completed standardized verbal and nonverbal tests such as tasks that required them to fill-in-the-blanks for missing words in sentences and choose between images of objects missing from photos.Children who performed in the top 50% of the math achievement test had a significantly higher intuitive number sense in infancy than those who performed in the bottom 50%, the authors found. This relationship held true even when the researchers controlled for general intelligence. However, although differences between the children’s scores were large and the relationship between intuitive ability and math ability was significant, it did not explain all of the statistical model’s variation. “It’s not like 90% of children’s scores were explained by infant scores,” says Elizabeth Brannon, a cognitive scientist at Duke University and senior author of the paper. This is not surprising, she says, because prior research indicates that “there are tons and tons of things that influence how well someone does at math later on.”Starr agrees. It’s likely that intuitive number sense plays a role in a person’s math abilities later in life, she adds, but other things—experience, education, motivation, and more—also significantly shape a person’s math achievements. In other words, Starr says, “if you hand me a baby, I can’t look at how long it looks at some dots and predict its SAT scores in high school.”The study “beautifully” establishes the link between approximate number systems and formal math, say Darko Odic, a fifth year graduate student in the psychological and brain science department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who has authored numerous scientific papers about young children and math and was not involved in the research. Now, he says, researchers need to figure out the basis of that relationship, including what drives it biologically and whether we can use it to help children better learn math.The team plans to tackle that latter question in future experiments. Now, it is adapting activities such as arithmetic dot-tracking and comparison, shown to improve intuitive number in college-age students, for younger students at the preschool and even infant level. “Designing intervention strategies for infants is trickier,” Starr says, “but hypothetically speaking, in theory some of the ways we work with preschool children could be scaled down to infancy.”last_img read more

Hairy Scary: U.S. Energy Secretary’s Halloween Homage

first_imgU.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is traveling in Asia, so he’ll miss tonight’s annual American rite of Halloween trick-or-treating. But the theoretical physicist’s Facebook page isn’t letting the day go unnoticed. It now features a profile picture of a pumpkin decorated with Moniz’s curly locks, which have drawn extensive attention since President Barack Obama selected him to run the Department of Energy (DOE). The Daily Beast even made a video: Twitter Loves Ernest Moniz’s Hair.The pumpkin was carved by a member of DOE’s digital media team, according to a spokesperson. They also carved these DOE-themed pumpkins and offered stencils and a video on how to carve your own energy-themed jack-o’-lantern. (The Moniz-o’-lantern, ScienceInsider is told, was not carved on government time.)Happy Halloween!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(*)For more Halloween-themed science news, join us at 3 p.m. EDT today for a live chat on the neuroscience of fear.last_img read more

Can You Name That Smell?

first_imgAsk a group of people to describe the color of a sheet of paper, a cloud, or a glass of milk, and chances are they’ll all say “white.” But ask the same group to describe the smell of cinnamon, and you’ll likely get a potpourri of answers, ranging from “spicy” to “smoky” to “sweet,” and sometimes all three. When it comes to naming smells, humans struggle to find concise, universal terms. Indeed, scientists have long thought the ability was out of our reach. But a new study indicates that the inhabitants of a remote peninsula in Southeast Asia can depict smells as easily as the rest of us pick colors.The study concerns the Jahai, nomadic hunter-gatherers who live in the mountain rainforests along the border between Malaysia and Thailand. Smell is very important to this society. Odors are often evoked in illness, or medicine, for example, and it is one of the few cultures to have words devoted exclusively to smells. “For example, the term pʔus (pronounced ‘pa-oos’) describes the smell of old huts, day-old food, and cabbage,” says Asifa Majid, a psychologist at the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. This suggests, she says, that the Jahai can isolate basic smell properties, much like we can isolate the color white from milk.To find out if the Jahai are better at naming smells than the rest of us, Majid and colleagues asked native Jahai speakers and native English speakers to describe 12 different odors: cinnamon, turpentine, lemon, smoke, chocolate, rose, paint thinner, banana, pineapple, gasoline, soap, and onion. The Jahai easily and consistently named the odors, whereas English speakers struggled, the team reports in the February issue of Cognition.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(*)For example, all Jahai speakers tested agreed that the smell of cinnamon should be described as cŋəs, pronounced “cheng-us,” the same word they use for the smells of garlic, onion, coffee, chocolate, or coconut. This suggests that Jahai are able to identify common odor properties in all of these foods, suggesting a special perception ability compared with other cultures.In contrast, Majid says, “English descriptions for odors were five times longer and nearly every participant came up with a completely different name. There is little consensus on how to describe smells, and people often give many conflicting and contradictory descriptions.” What’s more, she notes, when English speakers described smells, they often used the source of the smell in their description; a lemon, for example, smelled “lemony.” The Jahai, meanwhile, had their own unique words for the smells.The disparity may be due to importance of odors in the daily life of the Jahai, says Douglas Medin, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and an expert in cognition and learning in indigenous cultures. In a dense rainforest, trunks can look the same, for example, so it is not always possible to identify a tree just by its looks, says Medin, who was not involved in the work. In addition, after a heavy rain, smells become more evident and you can easily identify a pile of monkey scat, decomposing leaves, or flowers nearby, if you learn to identify the smells. Alternatively, having an agreed-upon way to describe a smell that could attract a tiger might save your life.It’s also possible that the Jahai are built differently than the rest of us. The genes that code for the olfactory receptors in our noses exhibit a great deal of variation not only between different human populations but also between people. So it may be that the Jahai have evolved more of these receptors or a greater diversity of them than everyone else, much like the Tsimane tribe from the Bolivian rainforest were shown to be more sensitive to smells than were Germans.“We won’t be able to answer these questions until comparable studies are carried out on lots of other human cultures,” says Nicholas Evans, a psychologist and biologist specializing on the diversity of linguistic structures at Australian National University in Canberra. “But this study has broken open the seal on the perfume bottle.”last_img read more

How Earth Became a Jigsaw Puzzle

first_imgPlate tectonics—the worldwide face-lift that continually, but slowly, reshapes the surface of Earth—is apparently unique to our planet; at the very least, it occurs nowhere else in the solar system. This process is responsible for volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountain building, and possibly for helping harbor early life on Earth.  Yet there is much we still don’t know about what drives it and when it began. Now, a new study may help resolve one question: when and how Earth’s rigid outer shell, or lithosphere, first divided into plates and their global dance began.Evidence of Earth’s earliest geologic history is scant, thanks to the constant recycling of our planet’s surface. But geologists do have a few clues. One line of evidence comes from hardy crystals called zircons, found primarily in granite—the formation of granite requires subduction, the sinking of a lithospheric slab into the mantle where it partially melts to produce so-called granitic magma. Based on the very existence of ancient zircons, some geologists surmise that subduction occurred, at least intermittently, sometime around 4 billion years ago. Other evidence to bolster this claim includes rock sequences from the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The trench, formed where the Pacific Plate is sinking into the mantle, contains 4.4-billion-year-old lavas that may have resulted from the earliest subduction zone on Earth. But a wealth of other geochemical and geologic data—from rock assemblages within ancient continental crust to studies of varying chemical contents of granitic rocks—suggest that plate tectonics really went global about 2.7 billion to 3 billion years ago. By then, the lithosphere, rather than forming a solid shell around the planet, had divided into dozens of thick plates. Driven by circulation in the underlying mantle, the plates slid past each other, pulled apart, or collided. The jigsaw didn’t fit quite the way it does now, but the pieces were already moving around.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(*)This discrepancy has produced some heated debate, but there’s a way to reconcile the two dates, says David Bercovici, a geophysicist at Yale University. The billion-year time lag between the earliest, “proto-subduction” and the full onset of plate tectonics can be explained by the slow, painstaking development of weak zones within the plates, he proposes. The deformation produced by the rocks bending and shearing as the slab sinks into the mantle “leaves behind a scar, a weak spot.” Over time, the zones weakened again and again, until, like a runner’s overstressed ankle, they broke.To better understand the development of these weak zones and how they lead to plate boundaries, Bercovici and geophysicist Yanick Ricard of the University of Lyon in France investigated what kind of damage happens to lithospheric rocks under intense deformation. Earth’s upper mantle, which makes up much of the lithosphere, is a relatively simple mix, consisting primarily of two rock types, olivine and pyroxene. Smaller crystals of rock are more vulnerable to deformation, and the shear stress placed on the rocks during the bending and twisting of subduction tends to metamorphose the rocks and reduce the crystal sizes, increasing their vulnerability. Although the heat of the upper mantle might help the olivine or pyroxene crystals within the rocks grow larger again, or “heal,” the two rock types are competing for space: Each is actually inhibited in its growth by the other’s presence. And once the crystals are damaged enough and small enough, Bercovici and Ricard reported online yesterday in Nature, that ancient inheritance of weakness becomes a plate boundary.This process not only explains how Earth’s plate boundaries could lie apparently dormant for a while but still evolve, but it also highlights why plate tectonics wouldn’t occur even on Earth’s so-called twin planet, Venus, which is of similar size and mass. The surface of Venus is more than 400°C hotter than the surface of Earth—and at those extreme temperatures, the rock crystals can grow more quickly, healing themselves so that the boundaries never form.Lithospheric weak zones with tiny grains have long been suspected to be important to facilitating plate tectonics—but this study explains for the first time how they form, and how “the lithosphere can ‘remember’ these zones of weakness for a geologically long time,” says geophysicist Paul Tackley of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Regardless of when plate tectonics began, he adds, this grain-size-reduction mechanism could have been very important for causing weak zones in the lithosphere at all times in Earth’s history.But whether this really reconciles the different proposed dates for the onset of plate tectonics is less clear, Tackley says. The researchers’ model of early Earth is extremely simplified, he adds: Temperatures in Earth’s interior were much hotter billions of years ago and the planet was geologically more “active,” with more volcanism at the surface and more churning in the mantle. So, rather than a uniform layer that grew weak zones over time, the lithosphere “was always heterogeneous, with weaker and stronger parts.”last_img read more

Video: Most tree ants can swim for their lives

first_imgWhen an ant tumbles into a river, will it sink or swim? It depends on the species, according to a new study. To learn about how swimming evolved in the insects, scientists dropped 35 types of tropical forest ants into water. Certain ones, like the Odontomachus bauri seen above, took to the liquid like an Olympian. In all, more than half of the tested species could swim. Some, like Gigantiops destructor, reached top speeds of 16 centimeters per second, whereas others lagged behind—but still made it to shore—at a snail’s pace of 1 centimeter per second. Those that weren’t able to keep afloat were more likely to be better gliders, meaning that if they were falling, they might be able to maneuver to a safe landing zone. With so many different kinds of tree- dwelling ants demonstrating the ability to paddle, the researchers think that the skill evolved independently among various groups in response to the danger of toppling off foliage. (Other ants build rafts on the backs of their young.) The study, published today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, suggests that for ants that can’t glide, learning to swim was essential to increase survival chances.(Video credit: Stephen P. Yanoviak)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(*)last_img read more

Human language may have evolved to help our ancestors make tools

first_imgIf there’s one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it’s our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools—a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage.Researchers have long debated when humans starting talking to each other. Estimates range wildly, from as late as 50,000 years ago to as early as the beginning of the human genus more than 2 million years ago. But words leave no traces in the archaeological record. So researchers have used proxy indicators for symbolic abilities, such as early art or sophisticated toolmaking skills. Yet these indirect approaches have failed to resolve arguments about language origins.Now, a team led by Thomas Morgan, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has attacked the problem in a very different way. Rather than considering toolmaking as a proxy for language ability, he and his colleagues explored the way that language may help modern humans learn to make such tools. The researchers recruited 184 students from the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, where some members of the team were based, and organized them into five groups. The first person in each group was taught by archaeologists how to make artifacts called Oldowan tools, which include fairly simple stone flakes that were manufactured by early humans beginning about 2.5 million years ago. This technology, named after the famous Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania where archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the implements in the 1930s, consists of hitting a stone “core” with a stone “hammer” in such a way that a flake sharp enough to butcher an animal is struck off. Producing a useful flake requires hitting the core at just the right place and angle.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(*)The students in each of the five groups learned to produce Oldowan flakes in different ways. Subjects in the first group were presented with a core, hammer, and some examples of finished flakes and told to just get on with it by themselves. In the next group, a second student learned how to make the tools by simply watching the first subject and trying to duplicate what he or she did with no interaction at all between them; in the third group, subjects actively showed each other what they were doing but without gesturing; in the fourth group, gesturing and pointing were allowed but no talking; and in the fifth group, the “teacher” was permitted to talk to the “learner” and say whatever was necessary.In each group, the learner became the teacher in the next round. In this fashion, the research team created five different “chains of transmission” of Oldowan toolmakers, which produced a total of more than 6000 flakes. The results of the experiment, reported online today in Nature Communications, were striking. As might be expected, subjects sitting alone and attempting to “reverse engineer” Oldowan flakes simply by looking at cores, hammers, and examples of the flakes had only limited success. But performance improved very little among students who just watched others make the tools. Only the groups in which gestural or verbal teaching was allowed performed significantly above the reverse engineering baseline on several indicators of toolmaking skill, such as the total number of  flakes produced that were long enough and sharp enough to be viable and the proportion of hits that resulted in a viable flake. For example, gestural teaching doubled and verbal teaching quadrupled the likelihood that a single strike would result in a viable flake, the team found.The researchers conclude that the successful spread of even the earliest known toolmaking technology, more than 2 million years ago, would have required the capacity for teaching, and probably also the beginnings of spoken language—what the researchers call protolanguage. (Many researchers think that gestural communication was the prelude to spoken language, which might explain its effectiveness in these experiments.) “The ability to rapidly share the skill to make Oldowan tools would have brought fitness benefits” to early humans, Morgan says, such as greater efficiency in butchering animals; and then Darwinian natural selection would have acted to gradually improve primitive language abilities, eventually leading from protolanguage to the full-blown, semantically complex languages we speak today.“This is an exciting paper,” says Thomas Suddendorf, a psychologist at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, in Australia, because it “nicely demonstrates the transmission power of teaching and symbols … in a context that was critical in human evolution.” And Dietrich Stout, an archaeologist at Emory University in Atlanta, comments that “a major strength of the paper is that it adopts an experimental approach to questions that have otherwise largely been addressed through intuition or common sense.”Although Suddendorf finds the team’s interpretations “sensible” and “plausible,” he cautions that the experimental results cannot be considered direct proof for the theory behind them. For one thing, Suddendorf says, the subjects “already have language and have grown up with language,” and so it would be expected that they would learn more effectively when they could talk to each other, which may not have been true for our earliest ancestors.Ceri Shipton, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, agrees. “This article perhaps overreaches in its interpretations,” he says, because the subjects have grown up with language but “they have not grown up with stone tools” as early humans did. Another weakness of the study, Stout adds, is that the subjects were given only 5 minutes to learn the toolmaking techniques, and then no more than 25 minutes to produce Oldowan flakes. Had they been given more time, Stout suggests, the additional practice might have erased “any detectable difference in the transmission conditions.”last_img read more

Indians Arrested For Illegally Entering U.S. Nearly Triples

first_imgThe number of Indians arrested for illegally entering the United States has nearly tripled so far in 2018, making them one of the largest groups of illegal aliens apprehended, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said on Friday.Paying smuggling rings between $25,000-$50,000 (19,176.2 – 38,352.4 pounds) per person, a growing number of Indians are illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and claiming asylum for persecution, CBP spokesman Salvador Zamora said.Read it at Reuters Related Itemslast_img

Nursing Success

first_imgIt is perhaps the most unusual immigration story out of India: thousands and thousands of females – married or single – migrating alone to America, braving a new country, loneliness and a challenging new job without the support of family or friends. Often the primary breadwinner of the family, they start out on a new continent, put down roots and then begin sending for family members. Mandeep Dewal: “For a woman and a mother, nursing is a very flexible job: you can work three different shifts and three days versus five daysWith their qualifications they secure green cards not only for their spouses and children, but over time for siblings and parents as well, opening the door of possibilities for the entire extended family, and sometimes end up making a six figure salary themselves.All with a nursing certificate, their open sesame to America.Indian nurses are the largest block of international nurses after Filipinos in the United States. A 2000 survey found that Indians constitute 10 percent of all foreign nurses in the United States, but that number declined to just 1.3% in a 2004 survey. But the nurse migration from India has picked up steam. In 2006, 4,395 Indian nurses sat for the NCLEX nursing exam, a number that has almost doubled in two years.In the past, the immigration process for Indian nurses was cumbersome, as they had to pass their licensing exam in the United States before they could seek jobs. But now the National Council of State Board of Nursing has established five centers in Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi – more than any other country in the world. It is testimony to where the profession is headed for the new crop of nurses in the years ahead.The Indian nurses have come to the rescue of the American medical system weighted by an acute shortage of nurses and in the process they have built success and prosperity for their families as well. While nurses are now drawn from all parts of India, Malayalee nurses form by far the single largest contingent, making it the largest mass migration from Kerala to America.Aney Paul is one of these Malayalee nurses from Kerala. Nothing much ever happened in her hometown and dreams remained idle dreams there. Paul left India 25 years ago with a nursing degree and today she has a beautiful home in Westchester County in New York, her husband works with the city and their three children have succeeded beyond any dreams dreamt in her home town. Her daughter has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, another graduated from New York University and her son is pursuing pre-med at the State University of New York, Albany. Paul herself has a master’s in nursing and public health and is just taking the exam for nurse practitioner, which can lead to a paycheck of over $100,000. Ann Varghese:Nursing here and in India is totally different. I’m sure it’s changed there too now, but in those days there was a big difference in the relationships between the nurse and the patients and how you interact, and the educational process here you really educate the patient before you do anything for them, which we were very unaccustomed to in India.” A typical rags to riches American success story you say? Well, this one has the twist of woman power, of a wife and mother who takes destiny into her own hands and makes the family’s future.Laban Pattanaik, co-director of RN India Inc., a nurse recruiting agency based on the West coast, estimates that there will be a major upsurge in Indian nurses migrating to the United States next year, because of the enormous increase in the number of candidates taking exams in India.RN India was started in 2003 in California and is one of several agencies bringing Indian nurses into the country. The organization has sponsored 150 nurses and plans on bringing 300-350 next year, as there was an immigration backlog of about six months. Says Pattanaik, “It is growing tremendously and we now have offices in Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana and Pune.”Most nurses come under the employment based third preference green card – EB3 visa – but because of the severe shortage of nurses, the US government has carved out a special category Schedule A, which exempts nurses and physical therapists from the labor certification process, enabling them to get their immigrant visa and green cards approved within 7 or 8 months, not just for themselves, but for their spouses and children as well.Nursing, once regarded as a lowly profession in India, has gained cache and “nurse brides” are much in demand on matrimonial sites, such as Tamilmatrimony.com. A nursing degree is now a ticket out of the country, a door through which an entire family can get a green card to America and a readymade lifestyle – no waiting required.With the aging of the population and an acute shortage of nurses in the United States, the demand is only destined to grow. The expected shortage of nurses in the next decade is estimated at between half million to a million, according to several studies. According to Pattanaik, in 2005 the quota was raised for India, China and the Philippines and Congress allocated a special category for nurses and physical therapists.He says, “There has been lot of active lobbying happening with the American Hospital Association, immigration attorneys and groups like ourselves. There is a huge lobbying effort to exempt nurses, physical therapists and other Schedule A workers from any numerical limitation, so there’s a high degree of confidence that this will happen over the course of the next six months.” The human resources director from Good Samaritan Hospital Los Angeles meets with candidates and RN India’s principal’s Lalit and Laban Pattanaik in KochiLittle wonder then that scores of nursing schools are mushrooming across India, and nursing has become a very lucrative career. Sara Gabriel, based in Chicago, is the president of the National Association of Indian Nurses in America (NAINA). She says that even males are trying to get into the nursing field and in Kerala, nursing is the next most popular profession after medicine.But why India and why Kerala?India of course has a large migrant community and its strength in numbers, job applicants and English speaking ability has made people its largest export. For several decades now, since the 1950s and 1960s nursing was a popular woman’s profession in Kerala, more than any other state. It is the most literate and largely English speaking state with a large population of Christians who have familiarity with service oriented professions.“Teaching and nursing for the women was the model followed in Kerala, because of the missionary activity and Christianity,” says Aney Paul, who heads the New York chapter of Indian Nurses Association and is a nurse in Nyack in Westchester: “These professions were deemed to be quite noble where the nurses are taking care of the community.” Ravindra Dhillon: I consider it a very good profession. You have job stability, you are serving people and you get satisfaction in your job that you did something good.” Yet this was not always the attitude with many families in Kerala. Ammal Bernard, who hails from the small village of Kottayam in Kerala and now lives in Miami, Fl., recalls that she was the first woman to go into nursing in her family and her village and was almost treated as if she was committing a crime!“I was practically driven out of my home. They threatened me that if I go into nursing they wouldn’t take me back. That time it was very, very hard for a girl to leave her home to take a job to go to the city or out of country.”Since childhood she had been an avid reader and a book she read on Florence Nightingale convinced her that she would like to do that kind of work. Finally her brother, who was in the air force and stationed in Jodhpur, supported her decision and arranged for her to join a nursing school there. After completing her training she became a nurse in India. Then a friend from her neighborhood who had migrated to the US helped her to apply for a position in New York.With a sponsorship and job offer in hand, she landed in 1971 at Montfiore Medical Center, a huge city hospital in the hurly-burly of the Bronx, a continent and light years away from sleepy Kottayam. At that time there were few Malayalees, she recalls. She was picked up at JFK by two nurses – a Malayalee and a Tamilian – and deposited in an apartment. The two then left for their night shift duties at the hospital, and Barnard spent her first night alone in a new, alien place. She says, “It was a scary feeling. Everything was new to me. But it was also exciting and I survived.”Bernard worked at Montfiore for over 11 years and fell into the rhythm of things. Nursing, the career her family and village had disapproved of, not only brought her to Americ,a but even found her a suitable husband – a Malayalee from Canada, in an arranged match through friends.The perception of nursing has totally transformed in India. Ammal Barnard: Everybody says it’s all because of me. I was focusing hundred percent on the family and I did it all for the family and I achieved that part very well. Even the people in my village are happy with what I did.” “Now I believe after medicine, in the health care field, nursing is the second best profession they are looking for, especially in Kerala,” says Sara Gabriel. “There are non-Christians also going in for nursing. Right now what I’m hearing is that in Kerala people from all walks of life, rich people, male nurses, they are all in queue and they cannot get into nursing school. It’s very difficult to get in, even though there are many more schools.”She adds, “There is a lot of job security in nursing and overseas nurses have helped the economy in Kerala in a big way by their remittances home. Besides Kerala, there are other states in the same path where lots of people are going for nursing.”Says Pattanaik: “We’ve had nurses whose mothers were nurses and their grandmothers were nurses and lots of those people have gone to the Gulf or to the UK and now that this US opportunity has opened, it is the ultimate destination for nurses. I think the Malayalees have been used to the migration pattern of going to another country to really leverage the skills set and experience that they have as nurses.”The financial rewards are substantial: In India annual salaries for nurses range from Rs. $1,500 to $3,000, but in the U.S. salaries average $57,000, varying on geography and hospital. Says Patanaik, “Typically what’s happening for many of our nurses is that $60,000 salary is basically equating to working 3 days a week; They have 12 hour shifts but most of them are so used to working longer hours than that that they are putting in one or two extra shifts a week and then typically the salaries are going up to $70,000-75,000, because they are paid overtime wages in many cases.” Sara Gabriel: a lot of nurses who came alone, leaving their families and children had to sacrifice their personal lives to make a living in the 70’s.As the numbers of Indian nurses has exploded in the country, many associations of Indian nurses have formed with the ones in New Jersey, Houston, Dallas and Miami functioning for over a decade now. This year all of them came together under one umbrella, the National Association of Indian Nurses of America (NAINA).Some of the nurses who joined 30 years ago have seen a sea change in their profession both in India and in America. In India many of them did not even learn typing and here everything in the hospital system is computerized from electronic monitoring of patients to ordering charts. So for many it was a new learning experience.The respect nurses receive in the US adds to its allure of Indians. Aney Paul recalls that in India nurses were treated like the handmaidens of the doctors, doing everything for them, from pulling a chair for them. She says, “Here the doctors are the captains of the ship and are responsible for the welfare of the patient, but they are team leaders and every other member in the team is equally important. Nurses are one of the most important key members in the hospital setting.“They have much higher respect in this society. If you are educated, qualified and capable, you are billed as a peer among the senior team members and when the young people see this they also want to go into nursing, just like they go into medical school or pharmacy school. It’s a big plus.”Today, Indian nurses are everywhere, from small towns to big cities, in nursing homes, private offices and big county hospitals. Ann Varghese, who works at a major city hospital in Dallas, came from the town of Patthanamthitta in Kerala. “Right out of school, I became a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for over 30-35 years and in those days it was not a popular profession. Actually my older sister went into nursing first and she kind of inspired me.” Preparing for the nursing exam in IndiaShe followed her sister and sister-in-law, both nurses, who were already in the US and worked in the Tolstoy Nursing Home in Rockland County, NY for four and a half years. Today she works at the Parkland Hospital System in Dallas – a large state and teaching hospital, which has over 1,700 nurses, several hundred of whom are Indian.Did she have to make any adjustments in her career? She says, “Yes, I did. Nursing here and in India is totally different. I’m sure it’s changed there too now, but in those days there was a big difference in the relationships between the nurse and the patients and how you interact, and the educational process here you really educate the patient before you do anything for them, which we were very unaccustomed to in India.”She recalls it was a bigger adjustment for her husband who had earlier worked in the Middle East. They moved to Dallas so he could get an appropriate job and took shifts so one parent could always be with the children. Would her life have been very different if the family had never immigrated? Varghese feels that nursing is a lucrative profession even in India, but the US offers so much more for the future of their children, since education and jobs are harder to find in India.Sara Gabriel, who came in 1973, started out on regular work visa with her husband. A graduate of Christian Medical College in Vellore,Tamil Nadu, she studied for her masters in nursing from Layola College, Chicago. Starting out as a staff nurse, she has worked in administration and education. She is currently a nurse administrator at John Stroger Hospital in Chicago, a big city hospital, and has worked at six different area hospitals.“I did not go through the struggles many nurses went through, because my husband was already here and working,” she says. “But a lot of nurses who came alone, leaving their families and children had to sacrifice their personal lives to make a living in the 70’s. They had to pass the exams here and also send money to support their families back home. There are a lot of stories like that.“In a lot of families the first daughter went to nursing school and came over here, and slowly brought the siblings here and settled down in good places and sent money back to their parents.”By contrast the nurses coming now through the recruiting agencies take their exams and English proficiency tests in India and come on a contract with a hospital. After working the required years, they are free to go wherever they like.Not surprisingly nursing is developing appeal in all parts of India.“There’s no question about it, that’s why we’ve opened up offices in Punjab because the people there have a lot of relatives in the UK and Canada or the US and they see that nursing is an opportunity to come to the West,” says Pattanaik. “It’s an excellent profession, but it’s also a green card opportunity so people are seeing this as a viable way to make a life for themselves and their families.”Ravindra Dhillon is a Punjabi who has been in nursing for many years and has practiced in hospitals not only in India and the US. but also in Iran and Libya. Dhillon, who currently is a nurse educator in the VA Hospital in St. Albans, Queens, in New York, says: “In India itself a lot of North Indian women are opting to go in for nursing. The trends are changing in India too and it’s not only the women from the South who are going in for nursing. I consider it a very good profession. You have job stability, you are serving people and you get satisfaction in your job that you did something good.” Her story is also about the difficulties and adjustments nurses have to make. In India she was director of nursing at Luthra Heart Institute, but in the US she had to start from the bottom rung as a licensed practical nurse gradually rising to registered nurse, and then obtaining advanced nurising degrees. The struggle was worth it. Today as a nurse educator with the federal government she makes a salary of $100,000 and has tremendous satisfaction in her challenging job.Now second generation Indian Americans are also seeing it as a very viable job. Mandeep Dewal, who came to the US at age 11 and is a niece of Dhillon, has embraced the career. She has a number of nurses in her family and went into nursing after high school. Her first job as an RN was at Northshore Hospital in Long Island, NY.“For a woman and a mother, nursing is a very flexible job: you can work three different shifts and three days versus five days,” says Dewal, who works in the Little Neck Nursing Home in Queens. “If you ask me, I’d recommend this to any woman who has kids at home. I’m home four days with my child, and I’m working three days, but it’s considered a full time job because I’m doing 12 hour shifts.” New Indian nurses at their orientation at the Good Samaritan Hospital, Los AngelesNursing even offers opportunities to work largely from home, such as hospice nursing for terminally ill patients, where the nurse monitors their needs largely with phone communications and some visits.The job does carry a lot of responsibility and is stressful. Says Deval, “The nursing homes are a little bit laid back, compared to the hospitals, but the responsibility is the same. It’s just a fast track and the slow track but you’re still responsible.”Varghese has worked in big hospitals and shares her insights of places which readers only get to see when they are sick or on ‘ER’ on television. She says, “It’s a wonderful experience. I’ve spent 25 years there and worked five or six years in every area. Every day is a learning process. Right now I’m working in the outpatient clinic and that’s a totally different experience than bedside nursing, which I did for 15 years. And I enjoyed that too a lot, because every time you help a person you feel you gave something and that’s a good feeling.”She cautions, “It’s not an easy job and nursing is not for everybody. You have to have that feeling within you, that compassion, the caring attitude has to be there in order for you to be a nurse and enjoy it. Yes there are financial rewards, but if that’s the only reason you’re going into it, then you are not going to enjoy nursing.”Says Varghese: “You’re dealing with all kinds of people, some are very appreciative, some can be very demanding and also there are those who don’t really know how to interact with people. You have to handle difficult situations.”So what makes it all worthwhile? She says, “I’ve had cancer patients that I used to give chemotherapy to and I remember a young cop who used to come for therapy. He seemed to be at the bottom of his life, but gradually after courses of chemotherapy he gradually was doing very well, becoming free of cancer – and walking out of there, hugging us all. Those kind of memories stick.”The Indian nurses are now seeking to organize to promote their welfare by helping them tap opportunities for internships, financial fellowships for studies and grants for research.Some of the stories of the nurses start in Indian villages, towns and cities and end in America with a most Bollywood-like happy ending. Take the case of Ammal Bernard, who is joint secretary of NAINA and a well-established nurse in Miami who has headed the association of nurses there for many years. She is a nurse at the Coral Reef Nursing and Rehab Center and has been a mentor to many nurses from India.She’s also the woman whose family in Kerala had almost disowned her when she first decided to become a nurse and set out for America.She ended up transforming the lives of all her family members and their unborn children. After she came to the US she got her three brothers and three sisters and even her father American citizenship. They all had success in America. Today she has 17 nephews and nieces, all of them doctors, nurses or engineers and one of them is a Ph.D in pharmacy.It all started with the seed of her becoming a nurse and setting out for America.So she made her family’s fortune? She smiles and says with satisfaction, “Yes I did. That is why all my family members come together in Miami whenever they get time – we are very attached and family people. Everybody says it’s all because of me. I was focusing hundred percent on the family and I did it all for the family and I achieved that part very well. Even the people in my village are happy with what I did.”Her story is multiplied many times over as thousands of Indian nurses migrate all over the world and create their own stories of service and success.   THE NUMBERS3 million licensed registered nurses in USA in March 2004.  $ 57,784  Average Earning 5.7% Men  88.4% White 4.6% Black  3.3% Asian 1.8% Hispanic 3.5% Foreign educated 50% Phillipines 20% Canada 8.4% United Kingdom 2.3% Nigeria 1.5% Ireland 1.3% India 1.2% HongKong 1.1% Jamaica 1% Israel 1% South KoreaNURSES DISTRIBUTION  56% Hospitals 15% Community and public health 12% Ambulatory care 6% Nursing HomesCANDIDATES TAKING REGISTERED NURSE EXAM (2006)  133,187 (82.4%) US Educated 43,830 (47.7%) Foreign EducatedFigures in parenthesis are pass ratesTOP FIVE COUNTRIES OF TEST TAKERS (2006)  151,71 Phillipines 4,395 India 2,145 South Korea 943 Canada 537 Cuba Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian IT Industry Hits The Reset Button

first_imgMany executives in the Indian information technology (IT) industry are accustomed to living out of a suitcase, but suitcases were particularly in evidence at this year’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) India Leadership Forum held in Mumbai in mid-February. On the third and final day, participants arrived packed and ready to leave for the airport once the formal program was over, forgoing the usually well-attended evening parties in order to save on one night’s hotel stay. Delegates at the forum numbered close to 1,000 this year versus 1,500 last year, and top-level sponsors dropped from seven to four. There are reasons for the lack of festivity and the falling numbers. In early February, NASSCOM lowered its projections for export revenues in India’s IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) sector for the fiscal year ending March 2009. The target originally had been set at US$50 billion with a growth rate of 21% to 24%. Now, NASSCOM is projecting US$47 billion at a growth rate of 16% to 17%.“We entered 2008 with uncertain headwinds and high volatility,” says the recent NASSCOM report. “The first half of 2008-09 had 24% growth, on track with the industry forecast. (But) the second half was impacted by the worldwide economic downturn. The additional challenges were cross-currency fluctuation, terror attacks, corporate governance, the U.S. elections and protectionist sentiments.”A closer look at the customer profile of the Indian IT sector shows why the industry is hurting. The U.S. accounts for 60% of the market and the UK another 18.5%. The current global financial problems began in the U.S., and it has been among the hardest hit countries so far. Analyzing the numbers along another parameter — the verticals — shows that the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry accounts for 41% of the business. The percentage has actually gone up marginally since 2003-04. And this sector is at the epicenter of the crisis.During the NASSCOM forum, participants agreed that it was time for some belt-tightening and soul-searching. According to many, the long-term future still seems bright. But opinion was divided on the prognosis for the next few years. The “glass-is-half-empty” school of thought felt that business would dry up as IT budgets in the West were cut. Add to this the protectionist undercurrent of the new rules concerning H-1B visas that are part of the recently passed U.S. stimulus package, and the future looks distinctly gloomy, they said.The new regulations on H-1B visas are still shrouded in a certain amount of confusion. The stimulus package that U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law on Feb. 17 says that all companies and banks that receive federal funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will be considered “H-1B dependent” — a category that so far included only businesses where more than 15% of the workforce were such visa holders. (H-1B visas apply to non-immigrant workers with specialized skills.) Companies within this category have to attest that they have made “good faith” attempts to recruit equivalent U.S. workers before hiring H-1B visa holders, that they haven’t displaced any U.S. workers, and that they are paying the prevailing U.S. wages to any H-1B hires. While this has led some right-wing activists in India to threaten boycotting a range of American products, the “glass-is-half-full” proponents at the forum suggested that one should not make too much of U.S. politicians playing to a domestic gallery on H-1B visas. “There won’t be any immediate impact,” said NASSCOM chairman Ganesh Natarajan. First, existing H-1B visa holders in the U.S. who want to renew their visas don’t seem to come under the purview of the new rules. Second, it is unclear if the law affects Indian IT companies working on projects for federally bailed-out U.S. companies. NASSCOM believes the rules apply only to direct employment by U.S. companies. According to BusinessWeek, quoting data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), for fiscal year 2008 (ended September 20), the top four firms on the H-1B employment list were Infosys (4,559 visas), Wipro (2,678), Satyam (1,917) and Tata Consultancy Services (1,539). The top U.S. company on the list — which is not in line for government assistance — was Microsoft (1,018).False Analogies?“Perhaps now is the mother of all recessions,” Infosys chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy said at the forum. On a more positive note, he added: “But we have seen such times earlier, like the recession in 1989-1993, or the tech bubble bursting in 1999-2002. This is also a time when best-quality leadership is called for. We also have to tell our youngsters not to lose heart.”John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, was singularly upbeat. He predicted a timeframe for the global crisis to start easing — the end of 2009. He also identified the countries where the recovery would start — India and Germany. “One economy that I’d bet on right now is India,” he said.“Indian companies are making a false analogy to the 2001 crisis and the tech bubble (bursting) and have assumed a ‘we have seen it before’ attitude,” noted Harvard Business School professor Pankaj Ghemawat told the business daily Mint. “I think this crisis is different, and ‘mother of all crises’ is not even beginning to describe it. I’ve seen nothing like this before, and there is still a lot of uncertainty about when things will begin to get better.”Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO S. Ramadorai agreed that “it’s a challenging environment” and companies must speed up their learning process and become more nimble. Nandan Nilekani, co-chairman of Infosys, added that the crisis would likely weed out weaker firms. The industry had been used to 30% growth and allowed inefficiencies to creep into the system, he said. Jim Champy, chairman of U.S.-based IT solutions firm Perot Systems, said that the crisis should be viewed as a learning process. “It’s a period of long-term restructuring, and for the IT industry it is a big opportunity to use technology and innovations. During the slowdown, the changes in business models will help to restructure and consolidate the business for the next three to four years. Those companies that are able to change their business models will survive the tough times and have a bright future.”“We feel that this is a time of learning and optimization for the industry. We would urge our member companies to see this as a silver lining,” said Som Mittal, president of NASSCOM. “India offers the best solution to manage resources and IT budgets and improve competitiveness, even in today’s difficult environment.”Considering ConsolidationAnother undercurrent is the scope for industry consolidation. There is near unanimity that the big players will thrive. The boutique firms (specializing in niche technology areas) would also cope with the downturn. But the mid-tier companies would have to redefine themselves. In any mature industry, a spate of mergers & acquisitions (M&A) would have happened by now. But IT is a first-generation sector; most of the original company founders are still at the helm, and they are not about to let go easily.“This is a good time to go in for M&A,” Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, said. “Values are very low.” Ramadorai of TCS offered a different opinion: From his perspective, organic growth was best. But Chambers of Cisco countered that in challenging times, collaboration and partnerships become more important. Incidentally, apart from the NASSCOM forum, Chambers was in India to announce a strategic alliance with TCS to build next-generation data centers.Entrepreneurs may be wary of collaborations and M&A. But business groups that have IT companies in their fold recognize the need for scaling up. This explains why the beleaguered Satyam — whose financial position and liabilities are still unknown — is a hot property. Engineering giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has picked up a 12% stake in the company through market purchases. The idea is to merge it with L&T Infotech. At one point, the Mahindras were also looking at Satyam for a possible merger with group company Tech Mahindra. In fact, there are seven suitors for Satyam currently, according to the company’s new government-appointed board.Other companies hit by the downturn are also rumored to be up for grabs. Even as the NASSCOM forum was taking place, the shares of mid-tier company Hexaware rose 73% in one day. Founder and executive chairman Atul Nishar dismissed rumors that the company is looking to be sold. “We are committed to Hexaware,” he said. As with Hexaware, shares of many IT companies have turned volatile. The consensus at NASSCOM 2009 was that some degree of consolidation is inevitable.Harvard professor Ghemawat brought Satyam to center stage. “For many U.S. companies, the Satyam episode is not a one-off,” he said. The scandal affects the entire sector. In this context, he praised NASSCOM’s setting up of a corporate governance and ethics committee under Narayana Murthy of Infosys. But he warned against overdoing it: If you are too open, you hand a competitive advantage to rivals, he said. Indian IT companies must avoid what he called a “collective striptease.”NASSCOM, meanwhile, is not participating in any such over-exposure; it plans to be more conservative about revealing its projections and data. “The uncertain economic environment will prevail in 2009,” the February NASSCOM report says. “World growth is projected to fall 0.5%, the lowest for 60 years, and recover to 3% in 2010. In that context, NASSCOM has taken a two-year view (instead of yearly targets) to factor in the volatile environment, and estimates the Indian IT industry to grow at 15% (compounded annual growth rate) to achieve exports revenues of US$60 billion to US$62 billion by financial year 2010-11.”Said NASSCOM’s Mittal: “Recession is a time when expectations are reset.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian American Doctor Convicted for Healthcare Fraud in California

first_imgAn Indian American woman doctor from Saratoga, California, was convicted on multiple charges of healthcare fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for Northern California.The jury found Vilasini Ganesh, the 47-year-old head of the Campbell Medical Group, guilty of five counts of health care fraud and five counts of making false statements relating to claims fraudulently submitted to health care benefit programs. Ganesh and her business partner Gregory Belcher illicitly billed patients and insurance companies for underperformed services, exaggerated treatments or for patients they did not see.The duo used their practice “to unlawfully enrich themselves,” according to an statement by the department. They were said to have diverted proceeds from the fraud for their personal use.When patients or the healthcare benefit program representatives wanted to see the documentation or additional information to substantiate the claims that were being submitted at her direction and on her behalf, Ganesh either directed her office staff to have no further discussions with anyone about the claims or to simply resubmit the false information.According to patients’ reviews on Yelp.com, her office would repeatedly send bills to them that either the insurance would have covered or for services that they did not seek.Belcher, another Campbell Medical Group partner and doctor, was convicted of one count of making false statements relating to health care matters, the U.S. attorney’s office said on Dec. 15. The duo was acquitted of conspiracy and money laundering counts, and Belcher was also acquitted of four other health care fraud counts and one other count of making a false statement relating to a health care benefit program.Ganesh submitted false and fraudulent claims to several health care benefit programs for services that she knew were not properly payable, by including claims for days when the patient had not been seen by the provider, and claims that the patients had been seen by another physician provider who was no longer affiliated with her practice.The defendants also maintained multiple bank accounts through which they are said to have attempted to conceal the nature and source of the illegally obtained funds which resulted from their scheme to defraud people.Ganesh is out on a $350,000 bond. The case is a result of a two-year long investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Related ItemsFraudIndian Americanlast_img read more