Steppe Eagle: Endangered Bird

Steppe Eagle is also known as Aquila nipalensis in the scientific language is a scavenger. This species breeds east in European Russia from across Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. Birds winter mainly in south and south-east Asia.

The bird is placed in the Red List by IUCN in the endangered category. There are many reasons attributed to the decline in population to such an extent. Some are like loss of habitat and exposure to radioactive radiations in its basic habitat.

Bird winters in South and South East Asia. It has suffered in Pakistan and India due to the presence of a drug Declofenac in the carrion of the dead animals which these birds feed on. This drug is used extensively in the treatment of cattle in these countries.

Thus these birds suffer both at the original residence as well as their temporary stay in Asia.

I chanced upon a ditch amidst the bushes where the carrion are being dumped. One can observe the eagles flying over the area. Earlier there were mostly Egyptian Vultures but now a group of these Steppe Eagles have landed here.

 

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WHY US AND OTHER WESTERN POWERS RESENT NUCLEAR TESTS BY NORTH KOREA?

Western powers have monopolized the nuclear power and weapons. Russia and US hold 92% of the resources. Treaties like CTBT discriminate against the rest of the countries who want to use nuclear resources even for peaceful purposes. India has not signed this treaty. Supply of nuclear materials is controlled by Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) which is largely controlled by US and Russia and puts discriminatory conditions on developing nations.This is why they are bitterly opposing nuclear tests by North Korea who is not toeing to their line.
Here are statistics

No. of nuclear tests:

US: 1030

USSR Russia: 715

France: 210

UK: 45

China: 45

North Korea: 6

India: 3

Pakistan: 2

Nuclear Inventory

Russia: 7000

US: 6800

France: 300

China: 270

UK: 215

Pakistan: 125

India: 115

Israel: 80

Bully Dog aka Bully Kutta

Bully dog or Bully Kutta (dog) is the native of Sindh and adjoining areas of Pakistani Punjab. These are very strong dogs and are being used for helping in hunting. When adult, standing at about 3 feet in height and weighing about 65 to 80 kilograms, it must be very imposing and fearful.
But at the same time, it is very protective about the owners especially the children. It has to be given proper training from the very beginning and then it becomes very useful to its owners.
Being the giant dog, this is meant for those who are experienced in keeping the dogs. Novices cannot handle it.
Due to its macho image, affluent Punjabis in the adjoining areas like Bathinda, Ferozepur and other bordering districts of Indian Punjab as well Sri Ganganagar district dominated by Punjabi farmers compete to acquire this dog. It comes with a whopping price tag between 1 lakh to 4 lakh in indian rupees. Although some enterprising breeders have begun to breed them in Punjab itself but the demand is for the original stuff from Pakistan.
Every affluent Punjabi wants to have it in his backyard.
Bully dog in the context of Pakistan gives the first impression of term being used for an ISI fellow being. These dogs were popularised by the British who used them for hunting.
Frankly, I have not seen this dog myself. Recently there was an article on this subject in the newspaper and for the sake of curiosity took a look at the results of google searches. Here is one picture.

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A visit to Wagah Border

Thanks to television and internet reaching out to nooks and corners of India most Indians know about the foot stamping ceremony also called “beating the retreat” conducted by members of Indian and Pakistan armed forces at border post in the Wagah village. Everyone want to visit the place because a picture is formed in their minds about the soldiers in the most aggressive moods.
The village was divided between India and Pakistan during the bloody partition of India with Eastern part of it going to India and western part to the Pakistan. The place is about 22 kilometres from Lahore and about 32 kilometres from Amritsar. The border post is on the Grand Trunk Road constructed at the time of Sher Shah Suri’s regime and many subsequent rulers. It runs from Peshawar to Kolkata covering almost whole of Northern India.
So every visitor to Golden temple makes it a point to visit the border and witness the ceremony. Even as you come out of the temple, cab drivers almost mob you for going there.
I also visited the place sometimes back along with my wife and our friend and his wife. After visiting the golden temple, we made the programme to visit the place. Ceremony takes place in the evening for about an hour. Even on the days when it is not holiday, there is a big crowd.
We hired a taxi which was arranged by the hotel where we were lodged. Amritsar is a city which is very ancient with narrow lanes which are brimming with crowds and vehicles of all kinds. It is miracle of drivers how they navigate through lanes. Much time is wasted in the city.
Drivers are generally very clever type. Although money was paid for air conditioning, he would not switch it on unless you press him. As the vehicle neared Wagah, it was almost traffic jammed. There were trucks which were taking goods from India to Pakistan which were waiting endlessly for clearance blocking one side of the road entirely.
We reached about one and half hour before the gate will open forgoing inside. Already there were crowds in the queues. There were separate lines for men and women. It is an open area with no shelter from sun and rain. There are boys selling water bottles and pouches pestering the crowds no ends. Small kids are a harassed lot from heat and thirst. Wait seems endless. Meanwhile we saw many people coming up to the closed main gate presenting recommendation letters or passes and entering the gate without any time limit.
At last, the gate opened for ladies first and almost 20 minutes later for men after all women had crossed. You have to walk another kilometres to reach the action theatre. People who are shouting patriotic slogans race pushing one another to reach the place so that they get a seat to sit. The seats are like stadium rows with men and women in separated areas. People seems hysterical and hoarse. It is overcrowded. The songs blare from both indian and Pakistan side outdoing each other. School children do the dancing and run with the flag. When the ceremony begins, soldiers from two countries charge at one another, throwing one leg in the air so high that their legs form almost 180 degrees angle. They stare at each other. The gates are slammed mercilessly while opening and closing. As this happens, people sitting away stand up and cheer their soldiers making it impossible for the elderly people to watch by sitting. If all sit again it is possible you will lose your sitting place to someone.
This was so much that I was waiting for it to be over. When it was over, you will find yourself floating with crowds as now everyone is in great hurry to go out and return to the city. People are spilled on every inch of space. There are two three shops including the one run by the army selling tea and water bottles and snacks.
On a summer evening you are exhausted to walk another kilometre to the main gate. The driver was waiting although I suspected that he might have deserted us. But it was not over. Because there was a big traffic snarl and a good half an hour spent to cross the area and come on the main road. There was evening crowds as we neared the hotel. At last, we reached the hotel fully exhausted.

Dr.Salam and Heer: Jhang Connection

Doctor Abdus Salam was awarded Nobel prize in physics in 1979 jointly with Glashow and Steven Weinberg. After Einstein, theoretical physicists all over the world are trying to unify all the physical forces like electricity, magnetism and forces residing inside a nucleus and gravity. They have succeeded in unifying all except gravity which is defying all the efforts. Just as in Hinduism we believe that God is one but it’s manifestation are many. They also got the Nobel in this area of research.

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He was born on 29 January 1926 in Santok Das in the Sahiwal District but grew up in Jhang at his grand parents place. Did the mention of the name ring bells in your heart. Yes it is the same place where Heer of Heer Ranjha immortal love belonged to.

The whole family was in the education. His father was an education officer in Punjab. The family had converted to Islam. They belonged to Ahmediyya sect which was declared by Zia-ul Haq as non Muslim.

When he was taken to be admitted into school, teachers found him fit for fourth class. At age 14, Salam scored the highest marks ever recorded for the matriculation examination at the Punjab University. He won a full scholarship to the Government College University of Lahore, Punjab State.
His father wanted him to join indian Civil Services. He could not because of his poor eyesight which was a mandatory requirement.
He won scholarship from Cambridge university and completed his BA degree with honours in Mathematics and Physics in 1949. Although he received offer to do research there but he returned to Jhang.
He taught is Pakistan both mathematics and physics.
He started teaching at the Imperial College, London which he accepted. The 30-year-old, youngest ever assistant professor of Imperial College, London, was a Pakistani now.
He was brought back by zayin Khan and made the scientific advisor. He drafted the scientific policy of Pakistan. Founded Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission of Pakistan. Although he was once a non entity in Pakistan due to his being from Ahmediyya sect, his heart was always in Pakistan and he arranged for scholarships, which helped hundreds of Pakistani scientists’ to educate themselves abroad. His contributions are innumerable.
Although, he was highly respected scientist abroad he was an outsider for Pakistan. All efforts were made by the future administrators who buckled under religion to ease out his memory from Pakistan.He was offered the nationality of all those countries whose asylum seekers, today, lead the criticism on his faith.
After he had received the Nobel Prize, he chose to visit Lahore, In a public gathering, someone commented that Jhang was initially famous for Heer and now will be famed for Abdus Salam’s Nobel Prize. He remarked that there are hundreds of Nobel Laureates but only one Heer.

Quissa Puran Bhagat

History of the undivided Punjab and adjoining areas on its western front is replete with stories of valour and love. This area acted like a conduit for those from the west who wanted to enter India. From the times immemorial, streams of people crossed into India in search of its rich resources. Some solely entered through this corridor for the purpose of looting and taking with the exploits back. Others like Aryans and Mughals came here and settled here permanently. Aryans are said to be the cattle raring people who were constantly on the move in search of green pastures for their livestock. First Mughal emperor Babur came this side because he was forced to by his cousins who had fully controlled the Western areas and did not allow Babur to get any hold there. He headed east and as luck would have it, he easily won Afghanistan. As he had heard about Hindustan, he drove down into plains of Punjab and adjoining areas. Even when he established himself in India, he longed to go to his native place as he found the weather here too hot. It was Akbar who however firmly established the Mughal rule in India.
Due to the continuous movement of the people including aggressors and traders, the cultures of many places diffused into culture of this area. Many forms of literature also entered this area. One such was Quissa or the oral story telling. The stories were of the religious type initially but took into their fold the folklore and other social forms. So quissa telling became very popular in the Punjab and many famous quissa are popular and people knew heard them again and again. For example, there were lovers tales like Mirza Sahiban, Sassi Punnu on one hand and religious stories on the other hand.
One such Quissa is named Quissa Puran Bhagat. Story is set in the Sialkot which is now in Pakistan. There a king ruled in older times and his name was Salwaan. He had two wives. First one was Ichhran and younger one was Loona. Loona belonged to Chamba and there was large difference of age between the king and her age. In fact, she was the age of his children. As she was the daughter of a very poor low caste man, there was no question of the poor man resisting the marriage although Loona was not inclined. But those were the olden days. She is said to be very beautiful. King was guest of Chamba Royality and saw her in fair and was mesmerised and wanted to make her the queen.
The king was blessed with a son from first wife. He was christened as Puran. Astrologers advised the king to keep the child away from the palace till he attains the age of twelve. So he was established outside with king providing all the facilities there.
After twelve years, he returned as a very handsome boy. He went to her mothers palace. As they days passed, he went to meet the second wife of the king as was the custom in those days. Upon seeing the handsome boy, Loona was bewitched and fell in love with him. But the boy resisted her advances and told her that she is like her mother being the wife of his father. He left the palace after extricating himself. But Loona was heart broken and out of jealously she planned revenge.
She called for the king and with tears told that Puran had tried to rape her. King without seeing the truth, ordered the limbs of Puran to be amputated and he be thrown into a well. Now here is the folklore part. Puran remained alive in the well for many years reciting the name of Gods. Once a wandering religious man called Guru Gorakhnath, a Jogi in local language happened to pass by the well and heard Puran’s voice from the well. With the help of his disciples he took him out and made him hid disciple and showered many spiritual powers on him. Thus Puran became a Bhagat-a religious person. He established him near the well. People began to flock to him for blessings.
In the meanwhile through these years, Loona did not get any children. She was very unhappy. She and the king decided to seek the blessings of Bhagat. Puran Bhagat blessed her with a son. But as the king and queen did not recognise him, he asked Loona that she might have done some terrible deed in the past due to which she had not got any children. She told the truth before the king and Puran revealed that he was the victim.
King was very repentant and beseeched the Bhagat to come home and take over the reins of Kingdom but he refused and told them that the child to be born shall be the next king.
The well in which he was thrown still exists. People even now come to seek blessings for having sons from all over Pakistan. It is called “Puran de Khuee” meaning the well of Puran.
The story has been told and retold for years. The famous Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar, rewrote the epic by giving it a different interpretation. He says that what was the fault of Loona in desiring for Puran who was almost only slightly younger than her. Her only fault was to be born into a poor family which could not resist the king’s demands. Her parents thought it to be an honour that they have established relations with the mightiest person. But nobody saw into the heart of young Loona. She hardly knew Puran who as per the social norms of the time considered her his mother. She did not saw it that way. She surrendered to her suppressed feelings. Shiv’s argument is that the women was like slave and had no say in any matter. He attempted to bring the women at par with the men.

Custodian of the Past

One is surprised and awestruck at the single minded passion of the person. His name is Narinderpal Singh Panesar. He is 43 years old businessman and belongs to Ludhiana district in Punjab. He has the mind boggling collection of antiques which include rare coins, antique cameras, international currency notes and other materials. These are mostly related to Sikh history but in addition to all sorts of antiques. He has collected these in 30 years. He wishes to set up Sikh museum which shall have no parallel.

His collection includes 55000 coins which belong to ancient, medieval, British India, Sikh misls of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Patiala, Nabha, Jind and Malerkotla.

He has rare stamps. Oldest stamp is of golden temple which was released in 1935 on the silver jubilee ceremony of George V. Also stamp issued by Pakistan in 2008 on martyrdom day of Sikh Guru Arjan Dev. Many stamps have gold, silver, silk, Khadi, tin, chocolate and Swarovski on them. Some are perfumed and embroidered.

Manuscrpits are from Gurumukhi, Sanskrit, Persian Arabic or Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. There is Adhyatam Prakash Granth  dating back to 1668 AD. Also there are paintings belonging to Mughal, Sikh, Pahari, Kishangarh and East India Company.

There was the news that due to financial problems in setting up the Museum, he has decided to sell the antiques which are non-Sikh category with heavy heart. He is disappointed over the attitude of Government and SGPC.

Here are some of the sample photos taken from the article in Times of India.

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