Politicking: The controversial Rafale Deal

India and France

India and France relationship has been there from the colonial era with France maintaining a colonial presence in the subcontinent with Puducherry being one of its major strongholds.

Indo- Franc strategic partnership took shape in 1998 in the areas that include defense, counter-terrorism, nuclear energy and space. 

France’s constant support for India regarding its permanent membership of the UNSC is a foolproof demonstration of the strong chemistry. The fact that France was the only supporter of India’s nuclear tests at Pokhran

France has been a major supplier of defense armaments to India as we fall way below satisfactory thresholds of defense production.

French made Mirage 2000 were used extensively in the Kargil war of 1999 for laser bombing the Pakistani forces. 

The biggest and the most important deal that India ever made with France is the deal of Purchasing 36 Rafale jets keeping in mind the urgent need of upgrading India attack power in order maintain equilibrium with growing China and check its military dominance over the Asian subcontinent.

Dassault Rafale

Dassault Rafale literally meaning “Gust of Wind ” or ” Burst of Fire ” in a more military sense is a twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft designed and built by French company Dassault Aviation. 

Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale surpasses the capabilities of most of the existing fleet. With its “omnirole” capabilities, it is the perfect beast to carry out air-to-ground and air-to-air and deep strike missions as well as air support for troops on the ground. 

Of a moderate size , yet extremely powerful, super agile and very discrete, it is perfect for the Indian armada.The Rafale was selected for the Indian Airforce in 2012 being the lowest bidder.

Initial purchase

Initially, it was decided for 126 Rafale fighter jets, of 18 to be delivered in proper flyaway conditions and the rest of 108 to be manufactured in India at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The deal was initially estimated to be worth $10.2 billion (Rs 54,000 crore).

The controversy

Recent public debates have created worst situations for deal to happen, with the opposition continuously discrediting the deal and calling it a worst possible scam, with the prime minister being publicly blamed. This has become somewhat of INC’s only agenda for the upcoming general elections.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has attacked prime minister Narendra Modi for alleged ” corruption in the Rafale deal “, saying NDA government has agreed to pay ₹1,600 crore an aircraft against the ₹540 crore in the now-abrogated deal with Dassault. 

 

The whole issue has become multi-dimensional. Even Anil Ambani has not remained untouched by the charges that everything was done in order to favor this particular businessman and clear his debts of Rs. 45,000 crore debt.  

Though such allegations have been denied by him stating that all the jets will be produced in France itself and no single component will be manufactured by Reliance.

 

 

The government’s stance is clear on this issue that the new deal is the best possible and the jets have been acquired at a cheaper rate compared to what the UPA had arrived at. Whatever be the political benefits or losses of this debate, arguments devoid of merit have spoiled the Nation’s image as Nation must debate while staying with decency and facts. Accountability to the Nation must be the priority, on which no one compromises should be considered.

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Travel & Explore 2 : 5 Unexplored Places to Visit in India

We suppose there is still some gas left in your tank, and it’s difficult to put a leash on your wanderlust and if you still can’t get enough out of the places mentioned in the previous list, then here we are back again with another set 6 of unexplored places to visit in India

Prepare yourselves……

1. Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro Valley

Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh is located in the Lower Subansiri District of the Apatani Plateau. The region is rich in rice fields and it is surrounded by mountains that are full of pine trees in great numbers. 

One of the most important characteristics of Ziro valley is its cool summers and cool winters. Besides lush bamboo forests and picturesque trails lined with tall blue & green pines is the Talley Wildlife Sanctuary’ which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the town, which serves home to the elusive clouded leopards and provides for an enthralling time to all the wildlife enthusiasts.

Dolo Mando is a hillock that is situated on the western side of Ziro on the Daporijo Road.

The place is ideal for trekking with the rewards of spectacular views. One has to trek to this place to get the amazing view of the town of Hapoli and parts of Old Ziro.

Trekking is the only way to reach the hillock of Dolo Mando. The month of spring season i.e., February to April are ideal to visit. The sky remains clear, and hence one can get spectacular views of the valley.

Ziro Music Festival

Every September, since 2011, a sundry mix of music enthusiasts have been thronging the remote valley of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh along with the Apatani tribesmen to produce an extended weekend that showcases the best of independent music in India.

 Ziro Festival of Music, is, undoubtedly one of the most sought after outdoor music festivals in India.

Every year the festival is held at Ziro, a town in Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh of North East India in the month of September.

From Tetseo Sisters to Rewben Mashangva, Thermal & a Quarter to Boomerang, Dualist Inquiry to Nicholson,  festival witnessed 35 acts by national and international bands and artists. This year the festival is sxheduled to be held between 27th September to 30th september 2018. 

How to Reach Ziro Valley:

The nearest airport from Ziro is at Jorhat, Assam which is 98 kms away. Another airport is at Lilabari, which is at a distance of 123 kms from Ziro.

The nearest railway stations from Ziro are at Naharalagun (100 kms) and North Lakhimpur (117 kms)

One can also take a night bus from Guwahati to Ziro.

2. Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh

Often referred to as ‘mini-Switzerland of India’, Khajjiar is a small town near Dalhousie which provides tourists a unique combination of forests, lakes and pastures.

The mesmerising beauty of this place has greatly influenced and inspired many kingdoms throughout the years, including the Rajputs and Mughals.

Located at an altitude of 6,500 feet, the natural beauty and picturesque landscape of this place are bound to leave an everlasting impression on a tourist. Khajjiar is known for its nine-hole golf-course which is nestled in the midst of lush greenery and a breathtaking landscape.

Khajjiar is a small plateau which also has a small lake which is one of the most favored tourist spots in this town. Khajjiar is surrounded by green meadows and dense forests and it is also known for its beautiful temples.

This region also attracts adventure seekers and has a lot of options in adventure sports like paragliding, horse riding, zorbing, trekking etc.

Khajjiar is a must visit place for everyone coming to Dalhousie and its nearby regions. However, the way to Khajjiar can be closed sometimes during winters because of heavy snowfall.

Khajjar Lake

How to reach Khajjiar:

The nearest railway station is in Pathankot and then a taxi can get you to Khajjiar. Alternatively, you can reach to Chamba or Dalhousie by bus and then take a cab from there.

3. Parule and Bhogwe, Maharashtra

The Konkani settlement of Parule was once Parulya gramam, built around a Surya temple where the rays of the setting sun touched the idol before disappearing over the horizon. 

The temple’s renovation may have eclipsed this phenomenon, but the magic of the region is intact. Stay with the Samants at Maachli while enjoying life on a farm milk a cow, get a fish spa treatment in a natural stream, go on a plantation walk and learn how to use a laath (the traditional method of drawing water for irrigation) as you relish delicious Malvani cuisine.

Go on a morning nature trail to a shepherd’s temple or a longer sunset trek to the beach. Nearby, Bhogwe, lying in the shadow of Tarkarli, has remained unnoticed by travellers. 

But the rustic eco cottages made of bamboo, cane and thatch offer stunning coastal views and an enriching experience. Visit a devrai (sacred grove) or cashew-processing units, go bird-watching in serene mangroves in country crafts, and enjoy sunsets at Kille Nivti fort before taking a boat ride to Golden Rocks.

Bhogwe beach is amongst the prettiest and most secluded beaches in Konkan. Located on the Sagari Mahamarg connecting Malvan to Vengurla Bhogwe has Nivati as its neighbour.

Bhogwe beach is the unending stretch of beach to the north of Nivati fort. The beach is scattered with rocks and if you plan to take a dip take a close look before you venture into the sea to avoid any injury.

Places of stay:

Bhogwe and Vengurla are set on southern edge of Konkan bordering Goa is home to simple seaside hotels overlooking Arabian Sea offering excellent views and attracting local getaway seekers from Goa, Kolhapur and Belgaum.

4. Halebidu, Karnataka

Halebiduis located in Hassan district in Karnataka is surely on the unexplored places in India to Visit. Ketumalla, the chief of staff of Hoysala Kingdom, built this temple during 1121 A.D and attributed to his king, Vishnuvardhana and queen, Shantala Devi.

Even then it is learnt that it took 105 years to complete. If one stands on the platform of the temple and sees around he will see the hills opposite and two big bulls facing the temple and Ganeshafigure on the south.

It is believed that Queen Shantala Devi, was an epitome of beauty and fashion, she was also a great Bharatnatyam dancer and musician. Sculptors were inspired by this and the Shilabalikas, the dancing figures, are models of Queen Shantala Devi and her courtisans.

History of Hoysalas mentions Shantala Devi had great influence in the adminstration and religious reforms during Vishnuvardhana reign. She was follower of Jainism and the King follower of Sri Vaishnaism and was influenced by Saint Ramanuja Charya.

Monolithic soapstone or Chloritic Schist was used for the construction of these temples.The God on the northern side temple is called as Shanthaleshwara and that on southern side is called as Hoysaleshwara.

The walls of the temple are covered with an endless depictions from Hindu mythology, animals, birds and Shilabalikas. Yet no two postures of the sculptures are similar.

How to Reach Halebidu:

Halebidu is well connected by road and rail to Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore. Regular buses ply from Hassan. 

  • Route: NH4 to Nelamangala; NH-48 to Hassan via Kunigal,Yediyur and Channarayapatna.
  • Nearest Railway: Hassan
  • Nearest Airport: BIA, Bangalore

5. Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu

Dhanushkodi, located in the Rameshwaram district of Tamil Nadu, is the place where the wonders of nature and man become one.

A place shrouded in mystery, this is a place that’s easy to miss by the regular tourist. Not only because it’s not really a part of the tourist map, but also because this place is hard to reach.

Nonetheless, Dhanushkodi is a place an exploring traveller would love to visit and know more about. For reaching this place one needs to cross over to the Pamban Island from the mainland. 

The best way to do this is by train, through the famous Pamban Bridge.

It’s here that the journey to Dhanushkodi begins through several fishing villages, accompanied by the mesmerising views of the Palk Strait on both sides.

The Palk Strait is the one that stretches between India and Sri Lanka.

After a rather bumpy ride, which is only possible on 4×4 vehicles, thanks to some large sandy stretches on the way, the ‘ghost town’ of Dhanushkodi will welcome you. 

A long time ago, especially during the British Raj, Dhanushkodi was a small yet prosperous town.

 It had everything you expect a town full of residents to have–railway station, a church, a temple, a post office, and houses, among other things.

This mysterious town makes at number 5 in this list of unexplored places to visit in India.

How to Reach :

Dhanushkodi does not have a train station, and the nearest station is Rameswaram, at a distance of 21 kms from Dhanushkodi.

After reaching Rameshwaram one can easily take readily available cab service.

 

Did we miss anything. Let us know in the comment section below.

Also check out our previous list of unexplored places in India to visit by clicking on the button below.

 

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Travel & Explore : 5 Unexplored Places in India

After quilting you with a list of unusually attractive and extravagant places from around the world. We now take our safari wagon to our homeland India. This article enlists some of the unexplored places of India, one must visit. So pack you bags, tighten your seatbelts, and brace yourselves for the ultimate thrill ride. 

1. Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

Living-Roots-Bridge-Mawlynnong

Mawlynnong is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of the Meghalaya state in North East India. It is famous for its cleanliness and natural attraction. 

The scenic bliss of the town is refreshing for your senses. There are waterfalls to visit, caves to explore and most importantly walk on the Living Roots Bridge. Created out of the roots of the trees, the bridges are truly a wonder. Don’t’ stop at just this town, backpack throughout Meghalaya.

Mawlynnong has been awarded as the cleanest village in Asia in 2003. The eco-friendly village community will give you some amazing lessons on life.

How to Reach:

Mawlynnong, located about 90 km from Shillong and 92 kms from Cherrapunjee can be reached by road. 

The nearest airport is Shillong.

From Shillong airport you can take a taxi till Khasi Hills Sumo stand at Bara Bazaar market. From here shared sumo run till Mawlynnong.

Mawlynnong can also be visited as part of package tours along with other destinations of the North East.

You can visit it as a day’s trip from either Shillong or Cherrapunjee or you can opt to stay there.

 

2. Hemis, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

From the serene north-east, let’s move a little up north to the place for adventure lover.

One of the less talked about places in Ladakh, Hemis is a beautiful place surrounded by snow capped ranges all around. Pay a visit to the Hemis Gompa

The Hemis National Park, the home to the snow leopard is thrilling. Carry your camera, if luck favors you can capture a click. Hemis makes you forget buzzing cities.

In Addition to the national park, one the most eloquent tourist attraction of Hemis is it’s Monastery.   

Hemis Monastery is the most popular monastery and tourist attraction in Ladakh. Situated some 45 kms from Leh City, Hemis is tucked on a mountain on the west bank of the serene River Indus.

The monastery belongs to Dugpa Kargyutpa order or Red Sect of Buddhism and is said to be enriched with a large number of Thangkas or paintings, which are exhibited during the one of the famous festivals in Ladakh, Hemis Festival. 

How to reach:

You can fly Indian Airlines from Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar or Chandigarh to Leh, the base station to reach Hemis.

Once at Leh, the park can be reached via road through a rented conveyance or bus, which plies daily from Leh to Hemis.

3. Champaner : Pavagadh, Gujarat

Do you remember that village from the movie Lagaan, know for the indentured peasants and draught. Well this place has got the same name, and somewhat different history.

The film originally was short in Bhuj. Whereas on the other hand, Champaner has had more of a historical appeal to it. Nestled in the Pavagadh hills, this one of the interesting unexplored places of India. Here you can actually imagine the olden days.

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a delight of Hindu and Islamic styles of designs which date from the 8th to 16th century. The ruins include agricultural buildings, mosques, and a fortress. 

This site was once an important religious shrine and point of pilgrimage. Despite its ruinous condition today, it is as special as it is intriguing. In the year 2004, this place got inscribed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

There are palaces, entrance gates and arches, mosques, tombs and temples, residential complexes, agricultural structures and water installations such as stepwells and tanks, dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The Kalika Mata Temple, located on top of the 800 metres (2,600 ft) high Pavagadh Hill, is an important Hindu shrine in the region, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year.

How to Reach Cahmpaner:

The nearest international airport is in Ahmedabad, about 145 km away. From airport; taxis, buses and private vehicles take about one hour to reach the city of Champaner.

Champaner has its own railway station. However Vadodara is the main railway junction, located at a distance of 53 km.

4. Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

The sheer serenity in the visuals representing the beauty of this place in two different seasons says everything for Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

Hidden in the high altitudes of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti is one of the unexplored places places you must visit once in a lifetime.

Located at an altitude of 14,931 ft, it has a challenging personality. If you are seeking adventure, solace or to escape the cities, then Spiti is where you should be.

The stark mountains have spots of green which are dotted with ancient monasteries. Trekking, camping, mountain biking and other adventures add to the thrill. Spend time in the villages of Ki, Kibber, Kaza, etc. Take a bike trip from Manali to Spiti for a memorable holiday.

How to reach : 

If you are anywhere near Delhi or Haryana then you can take a Volvo run by HRTC or HPTDC to Manali from Delhi and then HRTC buses ply buses on Kullu – Manali – Rohtang Pass – Kunzum Pass – Kaza route.

There are two HRTC buses which runs between Manali and Kaza every morning, as soon as road to Spiti Valley via Manali get open in the season, mostly in mid-June.

5. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Valley of Flowers National Park is  located in West Himalaya, in the state of Uttarakhand and is known for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and the variety of flora.

This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, red fox,and blue sheep. Birds found in the park include Himalayan monal pheasant and other high altitude birds. 

At 3352 to 3658 meters above sea level, the gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east. 

Together, they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 km2 and it is about 8 km long and 2 km wide. Nanda Devi National Park Reserve is in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful unexplored places of India one can visit in the country. The entire valley is titled an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can reach the valley only after trekking. Once you have seen the breathtaking beauty you will not find it hard to imagine heaven.

How to reach Valley of Flowers:

The closest you can get to The Valley of Flowers by road is Govind Ghat. This requires around an 11 hour drive to Joshimath from Dehradun, then another one hour to Gobindghat.

From Gobindghat it is a 13-kilometer (8.1 miles) trek along a steep, narrow, but well defined mountain trail to base camp at Ghangaria.

You can find places to stay at affordable rates.

Do you agree with our list. Let us know by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.

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UGC under THREAT?

The archaic institution of University Grant Commission (UGC), is going to be dissolved and be replaced by Higher Education Commission for India (HECI). Before you take sides, you should know these facts and answer the question yourself.

Q. What is UGC?
A. Well, for starters UGC is a statutory body, which determines and maintains the standards of higher education. It also recognises universities and allocates funds to them.

Q. How old is it, and how is being ancient a plus point for UGC?


A. The roots of UGC can be traced back to the 1940’s. The UGC as we know it now came into existence in 1956. You see it has years of experience on its sleeves, thereby making it an institution with a lot of Intel in its area of expertise. The UGC has seen a rapid expansion of universities in the last sixty years. Also it has shown a commendable performance by allocating proper funds, subsidising education and making it available for one and all. In true sense it has promoted, right to education for each and every citizen of democratic India.

Q. What is HECI?


A. According to a draft prepared by MHRD, the proposed HECI would focus solely on academic matters and monetary grants would be the purview of the ministry.


“Less government and more governance, separation of grant functions, end of inspection raj, focus on academic quality, powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and to order the closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions are some of the highlights of the new act,” the draft says.


Now, let me take you on a word by word tour of the above-stated lines from the draft.
The government and governance go hand in hand you can’t use one term and not think about the other subconsciously. These two words are like the words rose and red. When you think about roses you think about the color red, for sure we have varied colors of roses but subconsciously we think red. Similarly, when you say government, you remember that its major task is governance. Thus there is no point in stating less of this or more of that, as they are complementary terms.


Moving on to the next term separation of Grant Functions, let me get this one straight the bodies inspecting the institutions will be different from the bodies allocating funds to them?
Ok, so how is it even justified to have different bodies for doing a task, which is part and partial of each other? The body that inspects a particular institution, shall allocate funds to them because they know the areas wherein the institution lacks the necessary resources, required for its development.

Instead of repealing UGC, the present ruling government could have thought about bringing reforms. UGC knows the ins and outs of the higher education system, thus it is not viable to dissolve it, reforming it seems a better option.
Inspection Raj- So, this term brings light to the fact that, inspection on the part of UGC was faulty.

Ok if it was faulty then why abolish it, reforms and proper check for sure would have fixed it. Then again what guarantee can they provide for HECI not indulging into this so-called Inspection Raj? Greed is a basic human trait that, even the best of us harbor. How can anyone validate that this commission will not redo the same mistakes?
“…. focus on academic quality, powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and to order the closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions” all of this mind my words, I repeat all of these could have been resolved my fellow citizen, just by bringing about the necessary reforms in UGC.


It feels like the government wants to commercialize the whole education process by sabotaging the fund allocation part. YES the HECI is a marvelous step in various ways, but in layman terms, it is UGC plus the reforms minus the fund allocating part.

What is more outrageous is the fact that the new universities being allocated by HECI can’t have distant learning courses, but the old ones already in this field can continue with their distant learning courses. Makes no sense to me again, they are just curbing the right to equal opportunity(in terms of education) for the people from rural and suburban India.


Also at many places unreasonable favor has been given to a Government Deemed University over a Private Deemed University like number/restriction on off-campuses, which are purely academic matters and which should be judged on level grounds.

What is the government trying to propose?


Commercialization, unequal opportunities, unreasonable favours and expensive higher education.
Haven’t we all learned that old is gold and experience makes us wiser. So why are these two points being side lined when it comes to something as crucial and detrimental as higher education.

Two major questions that remains unanswered:
Q. Why can’t the UGC be reformed?
Q. Why have a different funding body, that too under the government, where everything is politicised be it death, rape or birth of a person?

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Travel&Explore : 5 Unexplored destinations for you

       “Look deep into the nature and you will                       understand everything better”

                                                                                                                                  – Albert Einstein 
 

Rightly so!!. And it is perhaps because of his deep insights of nature, the inquisitiveness regarding natural happenings, and the urge to understand mother nature,  Einstein and many others like him saw and comprehended the world like nobody else could ever do.

Most of the scientific discoveries which paved the way for a better and comfortable life in this 21st century were inspired by natural phenomenon. 

Many of the greats from yesteryears have quiet adamantly agreed upon the fact that spending ample time in nature’s lap transforms you fundamentally. 

By taking a break from your daily life, unplugging from the pulls and pushes of technology and engaging in new activities in new places, you have an easier opportunity to release unwanted habits. 

Exploring new places reinforces your willingness to broaden your horizons, to get unstuck and to move in new directions.

So here we are with the list of 5 Unexplored Places, you would really love to explore at least once in your lifetime. 

The Benagil Sea Cave (Portugal)

About Benagil Sea Caves:

Praia de Benagil is a beach in the Algarve near Lagoa. It is located in the small village of Benagil, which is situated between Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra.(Portugal)

The local economy of Benagil was centered around fishing up until the second half of the 20th century, after which it focused more on tourism.

The nearest beaches are Praia da Marinha on the east and Praia do Carvalho on the west. The beach is highly rated at no. 2 on TripAdvisor.

Praia de Benagil is a small beach, between impressive gold-coloured cliffs. The cliffs also protect the beach from winds. The sun can however be quite strong on this beach, so make sure to bring your own parasol. 

One can hike on top of the cliffs on this beach. This will give you a great view of the beach and its surroundings. Make sure you do not go too close to the edge. 

On the right of the beach here is a hill, with a small plateau from where you can take a dive in the water. This is sure to give you a rush of adrenaline.

How to Reach : 

Air tickets are available from Delhi to Lagoa ranging between ₹25,000 – ₹30,000.

After deboarding in Lagoa(Portugal) , You can enter the following address in your GPS to get to the beach: CM1154, 8400 Lagoa, Portugal. Access to the beach is via a steep road. Be careful that there is limited parking space, which usually is taken quickly in the summer. If you want to increase your chance of parking, make sure you come early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

This godly sea-beach of Portugal makes at number 1 in this list of 10 Unexplored Places for you.

Lake Baikal, Siberia

About The Pearl of Siberia:

Lake Baikal is the deepest, oldest and largest freshwater lake by volume, containing one fifth of the world’s fresh water.

The 25-million old lake has a maximum depth of 1,642 meters and is a living museum as it is a habitat for nearly 1,700 animal and plant species, out of which two thirds are endemic. 

It is one of the clearest lakes in the world, the biggest lake in Asia and 7th biggest lake in the world by surface area. Its 23,615 cubic kilometers of fresh water surpasses the volume of all American Great Lakes combined.

It should come as no surprise that it’s regarded as one of the most important natural treasures of the world, with places like the Himalayas, the Alps, the Andes, the Amazon, the Nile, etc.

Lake Baikal is a continental rift lake, similar in this regard to Lake Tanganyika, both lakes featuring long crescent shapes.

The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, and is home to Buryat tribes on its East side.

The lake’s incredible transparency is an important factor that contributes to the wildlife’s amazing diversity. The lake is one of the clearest in the world, with water transparency reaching 40 meters (131 ft). 

The presence of light to this depth enhances photosynthesis and plant life.

The lake is frozen from January until May, and there’s an interesting aspect here too: due to the enormous heat reserve accumulated by the lake and its slow release into the atmosphere, the biggest amount of evaporation happens between October and December, not in July and August.

In June, there’s practically no evaporation effect. This delay is caused by the big temperature difference between the warmer water and cooler air in autumn and early winter.

The lake begins to  freezes at the start of January, even though temperatures drop below freezing starting with November or sometimes earlier. However, the lake is covered in ice even in May, which is a lot considering the lake’s altitude.

How to Reach This Lake:

There are regular flights between the major Russian cities (such as Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok, etc.) and Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude, which are located within a close reach to Baikal lake (Irkutsk: 65 km, Ulan-Ude: 250 km).

Normally, a one-way flight Moscow – Irkutsk would cost you about ₹4000-8000, a return flight is twice more expensive.

Baikal Lake is situated along the Trans-Siberian route, so if you take that route, you’ve got to take a detour at The Baikal. There is no excuse if you don’t, because traveling 5000 km with a train and bypassing this Unexplored Place would be something you’d regret for the rest of your life!

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

About:

Established in 1952, Fiordland National Park is now over 1.2 million hectares in size, and encompasses mountain, lake, fiord and rainforest environments. The National Park is administered by the Department of Conservation.

Fiordland was also the final refuge for the world’s only flightless parrot the Kakapo.

Two-thirds of Fiordland National Park are covered by virgin beech and pod carp forest. A 500 kilometre network of walking tracks allows visitors to explore the primeval world of mountain peaks, alpine lakes and moss-carpeted valleys.

The place was awarded with the title Te Wahipounamu – ‘the place of greenstone‘, after the area’s most treasured mineral resource.

The National Park was enlisted  as a United Nations World Heritage site in the year 1990. 

Three of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks‘ can be found in Fiordland National Park.

The most famous (and consequently most popular) is the Milford Track, which takes five days to complete. The Kepler Track is a circular route that can be walked in four days and the Routeburn, which crosses into Mount Aspiring National Park, generally takes three days.

How to reach:

While visiting Fiordland National park can be a costly and exhausting affair, but there is no stopping for those who are willing. On average it takes near about 52 hours flight from Mumbai to Queenstown. Which costs about $2000.

The Department of Conservation provides more than 50 hikers’ huts in the park

‘Great Walks’ huts are found on the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn tracks, and these provide a higher-than-usual level of comfort. 

More basic huts are available on the other tracks – in most you will find sleeping platforms with mattresses, toilet facilities and a water supply.

Son Doong Caves, Vietnam

About:

Remember that Norn Cave from the movie Age of ultron, Where Thor and Dr. Selvig go together to figure out the mysteries behind the 6 infinity stones. Well a visit to Son Doong Caves would give you a reminiscence of the same.

Son Doong Caves are considered as the world’s largest cave that contains its own river and even a jungle.

At more than 5.5 miles long, it’s cavernous enough to house a skyscraper! The first expedition set off to explore this underground world in 2009 before being stymied by a 200-foot-tall wall of calcite inside.

Much of the surrounding network of over 150 caves near the Laos border remains unsurveyed. 

How to reach:

To reach Hang Son Doong, adventurers must first pass through the Ban Doong ethnic minority village. 

The only village located inside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, less than 40 people makes up the population of Ban Doong.

Munnar

Munnar rises as three mountain streams merge  – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. 

Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji.

This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2018. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.

Let us now explore some of the options in and around Munnar that would provide travellers ample opportunities to enjoy the captivating hill station of Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park

One of the main attractions near Munnar is the Eravikulam National Park. This park is famous for its endangered inhabitant – the Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over an area of 97 sq. km., this park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds.

Anamudi Peak

Located inside the Eravikulam National Park is the Anamudi Peak. 

This is the highest peak in South India, standing at a height of over 2700 m. Treks to the peak are allowed with permission from the Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.

Top Station

Top Station, which is about 32 km from Munnar is at a height of 1700 m above sea level. 

It is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road. Travellers to Munnar make it a point to visit Top Station to enjoy the panoramic view it offers of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

Tea Museum

Munnar has a legacy of its own when it comes to the origins and evolution of tea plantations.

Taking account of this legacy and to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects of the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala’s high ranges, a museum exclusively for tea was opened some years ago by Tata Tea in Munnar. 

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Aluva about 108 km and Angamali, about 109 km

Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, via Aluva – Munnar Rd, about 108 km

Currently the state of Kerala is facing its worst natural calamity ever. If you seek to help and support the victims to make sure that the state of Kerala regains its old glory. Click on the link below.  

Kerala floods : An overview

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Top 10 adventure sports in India

With the rate of development going in India, leisure sports are also experiencing a boom utilizing the adventure filled terrain of the country. The mountains, beaches, oceans and deserts, all provide great opportunity for adventure sports.

1. River Rafting

River Rafting is one of the most popular adventure sports in India. It is a fun filled activity that is perfect for injecting some adventure into your monotonous lives. This activity lets you experience nature at its peek and plunge into the awesomeness of life.

Destinations:  Zanskar, Manali, Rishikesh, Coorg and Brahmaputra.

Cost : INR 3,500- 4,000 per head

 

2. Paragliding

Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. It is a free-flying foot launched aircraft wherein a pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing. Its shape is formed by its suspension lines and the pressure of the air entering vents in the front of the wing. It is most popular recreational sport that is performed aerially. 

Destination: Ladakh, Kamshet, Darjeeling, Solang, Billing and South Anjuna in Goa.

Cost: INR 2,500 onwards

3. Cycle Trekking

Mountain ranges of India are the perfect spot of this adventure sport. Kerala also serves ell for the purpose.One can ride individually or in groups to rejuvenate their senses.

Destination: Himalayas, mountain ranges of Kerala.

4. Hot Air Ballooning

One of the best things for those who don’t have money to burn, Hot Air Ballooning is the activity of flying hot air balloons. It is the best to way to feast upon the bird eye view of the place. It also allows people to explore the unknown and breathtaking places in India.

Destinations: Jaipur, Pushkar and Ranthambore National Park.

Cost: INR 15,000 onwards

5. Scuba Diving

Enough with land and air. Experience the depths of the ocean through scuba diving. It is a very complex sport that requires a good amount of knowledge before you actually enter into it. There are several obvious and hidden dangers that accompany a scuba diving mission. It is a great sport and pastime for professionals and novices alike. Indian water bodies offer great underwater experience. 

Destinations:  Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Barracuda, Islands of Netrani and Goa.

Cost: INR 4,000 onwards.

6. Sky Diving

Ever imagined how the eagle views the world. You can too though for a short period of time. Dhana in Madhya Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka, Deesa in Gujarat and Aamby Valley in Maharashtra are some of the popular Indian places for Sky Diving. 

Cost: INR 20,000 onwards

7. Waterfall Rappelling

One of the most wonderful creations of nature is the waterfalls. It attracts hundreds of people towards its beauty and offers a chance to explore them a little further and deeper. The best and the most adventurous way of doing it is via trying water rappelling. It is an adrenaline pumping adventure on the waterfall down the rock and facing the extreme water torrent yourself.

Destinations: Coorg in Karnataka and Vihigaon in Maharashtra offer a wonderful experience of Waterfall Rappelling in India.

Cost: INR 3,000 onwards

8. Snorkeling

Snorkeling is considered one of the safest ways of exploring life beneath the waters. It is also a popular activity and a unique way of exploring underwater life. This is done from the surface of the water and usually requires equipments such as diving mask, fins and a breathing tube. India is blessed with amazing group of islands that allows the unique experience of snorkeling.

Destinations: Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Lakshadweep are the popular snorkeling destinations in India.

Costs: INR 4,000 onwards

9. Bungee Jumping

This sport has become very common these days. Bungee Jumping is an exciting and thrilling water sport that is a must for all ages, but before you go on an adventure. It is an ill-advised sport for the faint hearted. You might be surprised that though a lot of people take the initiative to try it out, but most back off just before the jump. First a long, extremely strong & stretchy cord is tied around the jumper’s ankle, which leaps off of the jumping point.
Destinations: Rishikesh, Goa, Delhi and Bengaluru are the popular Bungee Jumping destinations in India.

Costs: INR 3,500 onwards

10. Skiing

It is one of the recreational activities that has been and still is popular with active people. It is the best way to get acquainted with the snow clad hills of the Himalayas.

Destinations: Gulmarg in Kashmir and Manali in Himachal Pradesh offer astonishing activity that takes place.

Costs: INR 2,000 onwards

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Kerala floods : An overview

Kerala witnessed havoc in the form of floods that are said to be worse in a century.It rained continuously for five days that ravaged several parts of Kerala. More than 800 million people have been displaced with death tolls rising up to at least 370 and infrastructure losses pegged at almost $3 billion. Effected areas include Kannur, Kozhikode , Malappuram, Kochi.

Damage

Keeping in view the extend of damage done, the Union home ministry declared it as a calamity of severe nature of all practical purposes. Deaths, diseases and snake bites are being reported along with landslides. Declaring it as a calamity of severe nature will help in collecting more funds for relief operations.It is estimated that one-third of the roads have been damaged with losses to prominent airports as well.

Relief and rehabilitation

Relief and operations are on the way by the army and the NDRF teams.Relief materials including provisions, water and fuel have started arriving from different parts of the country.Maharashtra alone has sent 20 tonnes of supplies and a team of 100 doctors. A massive air relief and rescue operation is under process code-named “Operation Karuna” that drops necessities and lifts up people in distress. Fishermen from across Kerala have also come together to aid the relief effort.Prime Minister Modi announced a relief of 500 crores to the rescue operation after arriving Kerala on friday. The government has pledged $71m for flood victims. 

 

Film stars , politicians and bureaucrats from all over the nation and contributing according to theirs capabilities. Facebook, twitters and other social media are playing their part in creating awareness and inducing the act of donation into the minds of common people as well. 

This is how you can help

The CM’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF)

Online: https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/

CMDRF Account details:

Name of the donee: Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund

Account Number: 67319948232

Bank: State Bank of India

Branch: City Branch, Thiruvananthapuram

IFSC: SBIN0070028

PAN: AAAGD0584M

Account type: Savings

SWIFT Code: SBININBBT08

All contributions to the fund are 100% tax exempt.

You can also contribute through the PayTM app. Online crowdfunding website Milaap has also set up a page for contribution . Click Here

 

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MBA and more and…… Facts and trivia uncovered

MBA and facts and more.......

MBA , an acronym for Master of Business Administration. A career that gives your economic ambitions wings. Providing your leadership qualities and management skills a real boost . But is MBA really worth spending on? The most common exams for taking admission to the best MBA institutes of our country are, CAT, IIFT, XAT, TISS, MAHCET, MAT, NMAT, CMAT and SNAP. To name a few.

If money, a better financial life, a better prospect of promotion, leadership and management provides you the vibes then you’re in luck. The next few lines are going to change your life forever.

  We’ll be looking at certain myths and important facts regarding CAT, as this is the most commonly taken           MBA entrance in our country.

 

 

CAT, Common Admission Test

CAT is the most famous MBA entrance exam. Taken by at least one and a half lakh candidates every year. Preparation takes at least 3 months, provided you’re basics are clear.

The exam has 3 sections. The most important fact is that you cannot switch between sections. The three sections are Verbal Ability, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation and Quantitative Aptitude.You get an hour to complete each section. Without completing Verbal you cannot shift to Data Interpretation. That’s the biggest catch in the exam.

Now, comes the trickiest part, the admission procedure. People having work experience are preferred even if your percentile is quite high it’s no guarantee of a call. So most of the students drop out get a job and get back to MBA in a couple of years time. There’s point for academic diversity, i.e. if you are an engineer, you are last in the queue to get a seat. The MBA colleges do this to increase the diversity of their respective campuses.Lastly there’s Gender diversity as well, women and trans are given a higher preference that mere male candidates.

 

The main reason for people not opting for MBA is the hefty fees it takes to get your dream college. Indian Institute of Managements are having an average fees of 15 lakhs for 2 years. The highest galloping to a mammoth 22 lakhs. Now that’s really costly.

The various parts on which you can specialize are, marketing, finance, operations, human resources  etc. The most useful thing which a better college provides are connections and a very well maintained alumni structure.They definitely help you in the longer run.

We’ll be talking in depth about the colleges and preparation methodologies in the upcoming blogs, so stay tuned.

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Economy: Dollar vs Rupee

The Indian rupee, with the growing heft of the U.S. dollar and its struggle with the high international crude oil prices, is currently in not a very good state. In June, rupee lost almost 8% since january 1 and is the worst performing currency in ASIA this year. The upcoming financial year 2019 may turn out to the harbinger of trouble as the demand of dollars may increase due to India’s  current account deficit may rise to 2.5% of GDP.

Dollar is to blame

The rupee ended past the 70- mark against the U.S. dollar for the first time on August 16 amid the ongoing Turkish lira crisis that has put European markets on alerts, after U.S. imposed sanctions against the country. Though it is being said the the rupee is performing well against other emerging markets Russia, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey. The rupee however has been on a downtrend and experts are blaming the strengthening of the dollar.

Impact on Economy

The country’s imports will become more expensive and exports cheaper as it takes more rupee to pay for same quantity of import and fewer dollars for a buyer to pay for the same quantity of exports.

Costlier inputs and increase in prices of finished goods have a positive impact on GDP but the consequent decrease in demand will nullify this.

Impact on daily life

Prices of goods and services will increase along with petrol prices and trips abroad as well. On the other hand, more firangi tourists may be visible because their currency buys more here. Export oriented industries may boom as well

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POLI-TICKLING : Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The nation mourns passing away of a true statesman, a moderator, a visionary, a former prime minister, and most important of all a poet at heart. Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A lot has already been said about the magnitude of his political stature, and the respect he commanded not just amongst his fellow partisans but also amongst those who opposed him. So we are here to enlighten you about some of the unknown yet interesting facts about the who embraced life and death like a champion.

3 Times "The Charmer" : Prime Minister

Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s political career spans over 4 decades, which includes his 10 elections to the lower house and twice as a member of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). He served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh until 2009 when he retired from active politics due to health concerns.

During his tenure as a parliamentarian, he received many appraisals and accolades. One of the lesser known incidents from his political career was that in  his maiden Lok Sabha speech in 1957, Vajpayee earned the laurels of senior parliamentary leaders including then PM Jawaharlal Nehru who said, “One day this young man will become the Prime Minister of India.” 

He is the only prime minister who served the nation on 3 separate terms.  first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999 and finally a full five-year term from 1999 to 2004. He was the first non-congress Prime Minister to serve the full five-year term.

He was also the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

Vajpayee : The Young Freedom Fighter

As youngsters Vajpayee is that he and his his elder brother Prem participated in the Quit India Movement and were even incarcerated for 23 days. They were released after submitting a written undertaking, stating that they would not participate in the anti-British struggle, a promise that the brothers kept.

Though his participation in the Quit India Movement is highly debated in journalism circles, but no body denies the fact that as teenager Vajpayee showed showed ruthlessness and imbibed total servitude towards his motherland.

An extensively researched report was prepared by Frontline reporters Manini Chatterjee and V.K.Ramchandran on Vajpayee’s involvement in the Quit India Movement.

Vajpayee's tryst with journalism

The world knows Vajpayee as a Statesman and pragmatistorator and poet, a man of peace and conviction, a towering nationalist who softened the discourse  of his party’s politics with sophisticated inclusiveness, earning him the title of “ajaat shatru” or the man with no enemies. 

Little did anyone knew that he was an eminent journalist as well. As a prolific writer, he worked for newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun. His stint at journalism landed him in the role of The Pracharak with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh better know as RSS. 

In 1939 Babasaheb Apte inspired him to join RSS in 1939. He attended the Officers Training Camp of the RSS during 1940–44 and became a “full-time worker” in 1947.

Vajpayee : An inclusive leader

Vajpayee’s leadership exemplified democracy, and statesmanship. Discourse, debate, and exchanging ideas and views were the foundation stones on which his political ideology was based on. His belief in his co-workers and his letting the critics speak up, were some of his traits which tempted not just his followers but those who colluded against him. 

While at the helm of BJP and even when he was a Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee not only nurtured the BJP as a national party but also rose above the caste, community and party affiliations to emerge as one of the tallest leaders of the country.

His popularity among Muslims was a bonus for the party. A large number of Muslim men and burqa-clad women could be seen voluntarily taking part in his nomination processions.

His close aide, an old friend and senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon, who succeeded him in Lucknow as MP, remembers him as “a fighter to the core and a great visionary who had a ‘never say die approach’ to life”.

Vajpayee's Love for Sports

“Khel bhi jeetiye, dil bhi jeetiye”, the late leader had told Captain Sourav Ganguly and his team on the eve of a cricket series to be played on Pakistan soil after 19 years.

India went on to win both – the Test series (2-1) and the ODI series (3-2). They also won hearts. Several cricketers from that lot have time and again spoken about the love and warmth they received from the Pakistani people on that tour, including the stories of free food, gifts galore and a lot more.

The Indian team, led by Ganguly, was travelling to Pakistan after 19 years and reportedly around 20,000 visas were granted for fans to witness India play in Pakistan. The side was star-studded — Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan among others.

The then Indian team manager Dr Ratnakar Shetty had then cited what happened when the Indian team met then Prime Minister Vajpayee.

“Vajpayee met the players for an hour before the team left (for Pakistan). He said that your motto on this tour has to be “khel bhee jitiye, dil bhee jitiye (win matches and also win hearts).”

The Indo-Pak series happened under great criticism and opposition from the leaders within NDA govt. Yet it was Vajpayee’s valiant efforts that made things possible.

Kargil and India's Nuclear Empowerment

India won the Kargil war in 1999 and Vajpayee was hailed for his successful handling of the situation. In June 1999, Pakistan’s hostilities in Kargil pushed both countries to the brink of a full-scale war.

 The Kargil victory cemented Vajpayee’s reputation as a strong leader. Vajpayee never hod his bitterness whenever Kargil was mentioned, but he tried to build peace with Pakistan again by holding a historic summit in Agra with then leader of Pakistan, Parvez Musharraf in 2001. The summit, however, failed.

During his second term as Prime Minister, Vajpayee ordered nuclear tests in May 1998, barely a month after the government came into power, He authorised a series of 5 nuclear test in the Pokhran district of Rajasthan. These tests were regarded as a national milestone. 

The tests were a strategic masterstroke to blunt Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions while at the same time announcing a moratorium on future testing.

 

Vajpayee : India's Mascot

Vajpayee, in his role as foreign minister and prime minister, visited the UN headquarters to deliver speeches to the UNGA on seven occasions from 1977 to 2003.

Known for his great oratory skills, Vajpayee first addressed the UNGA’s 32nd session in 1977 as the foreign minister under the Janata Party government headed by then prime minister Morarji Desai.

I am a newcomer to the United Nations, but India is not, having been associated actively with the Organisation from its very inception. 

“As one who has been a parliamentarian in my own country for two decades and more, I feel a special sense of exhilaration in attending this assembly of nations for the first time,” Vajpayee said in the historic address.

It was the first time that an Indian leader had delivered the speech in Hindi at the UNGA as other Indian leaders had opted to speak in English, the dominant language at the forum.

It is said that Vajpayee, who was also fluent in English, was the force behind uplifting Hindi to the international platform by using the language at the UN each time de delivered a speech.

He touched the subject of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that the India “stands firmly for peace, non-alignment and friendship with all countries.

” “The vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum – the world is one family – is an old one.

We in India have all along believed in the concept of the world as one family,” Vajpayee said.

In his speech, he said that India looks forward to consolidating the process of normalisation of relations with Pakistan, not only to ensure durable peace, but to promote beneficial bilateral co-operation.

In 1978, Vajpayee again visited the UNGA as the foreign minister and raised the issue of nuclear disarmament.

“There is no let-up in the arms race either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Disarmament is still a distant goal; and the probability of a nuclear war looms over us like a menacing shadow.

“India believes that partial measures such as the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons comprising the nuclear ‘have-nots’ are not likely to generate any genuine feeling of security unless there is, at the same time, significant progress towards nuclear disarmament,” he said.

In 1998, Vajpayee returned to deliver a speech at the UNGA as prime minister and met then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif in New York.

“India has demonstrated that democracy can take root in a developing country.

“I am confident that the Indian experience will prove that democracy can also provide the basis for stable, long-term economic growth in developing societies.

That is the path that the people of India have chosen, and I stand before the Assembly today as the symbol of this new resurgent,” he said.

In 2000, Vajpayee went to the UNGA to address the Millennium Summit of the UN.

He spoke about terrorism, the danger of a nuclear war and India’s nuclear programmes.

“The danger of nuclear war remains a serious threat to global peace and security in the new era whose arrival is marked by this Summit.

“India was forced to develop these weapons in 1998 because the principal nuclear-weapon States refused to accept the almost-universal demand for disarmament.

Moreover, the spread of nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood made us especially vulnerable,” Vajpayee said.

 

Vajpayee also infused warmth into India-Russia ties, launching with President Vladimir Putin in 2000 the Indo-Russia annual summit which would be held alternatively in the two countries.

 India also opened a new chapter in ties with Iran under Vajpayee’s leadership and then President Khatami visited Delhi as chief guest on the occasion of Republic Day. 

As PM, Vajpayee also visited Vietnam and Indonesia and signed trade and commercial agreements. In June 2000, the first India-EU summit took place in Lisbon. 

As an Opposition leader too Vajpayee displayed statesmanship and supported Congress governments in critical times, including in 1971 when the country went to war with Pakistan under the leadership of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 

 

 

 

Of all the sayings that were written or recited by him, the one which describes this man of the millennium per say  should be………….

                                                                                                        – Atal Bihari Vajpayee

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