“I never thought
that my small
make such a
day. The jungle
is my home now. The
recognition and awards
that I have received are
my wealth and make
me the happiest man
in the world. I aim to
fill up the region with
greenery till my last
— Padma Shri Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng (left)
T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
MCI (P) 043/09/2017
delivered to your doorstep. Call 6319-1800 or e-mail
Tribal farmer in Assam turns barren river island
into a lush green forest after years of toil
REPORT ON PAGES 12 & 13
Nirbhay subsonic cruise
missile test-fire a success
INDIA successfully test-fired its
indigenous long-range subsonic
cruise missile Nirbhay (above),
after numerous failures since
The missile, which can be
deployed from multiple platforms,
was test-fired from the Integrated
Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha.
According to a report by the
Times of India, the development
is significant because the armed
forces have been demanding
nuclear land-attack cruise missiles,
with ranges over 1,000km and
versatile enough to be fired from
land, air and sea. An official
statement said the Nirbhay missile
cruised for 50 minutes, achieving
the range of 647km.
Kerala launches Ayurveda
A NEW tourism initiative, Ayur-
Bodha, which combines tourism
and learning about Ayurveda for
Kerala visitors has been launched.
They will stay in a resort for 15
days and learn basic home rem-
edies and diet regimes, Ayurvedic
practices for the rejuvenation of
body and soul, secrets of pressure
points, and the history and use of
medicinal plants, among others.
They will also receive a certifi-
cate after gaining the knowledge.
Haryana to set up a medical
college in every district
THE Haryana government is
working to set up a medical col-
lege in every district of the state,
announced its Chief Minister
Manohar Lal Khattar. Haryana has
a total of 22 districts.
He said the state needs more
doctors so that proper medical
care can reach more people, espe-
cially in the rural areas. He added
that the introduction of medical
colleges in every district will help
meet the requirement of doctors
in the state.
Mumbai to get rooftop cafes,
MUMBAI’S civic body, the Bri-
hanmumbai Municipal Corpora-
tion, has allowed the operation of
restaurants, bars and cafes on the
rooftops of buildings.
Hotel and Restaurant Associa-
tion of Western India president
Dilip Datwani said sky bars and
rooftop cafes are “an emerging
trend around the world” and
Mumbai had lacked a policy on it.
He lauded the decision saying it
would unlock the huge potential
that terraces offer by allowing
them to be operated as leisure or
Army to get Indian Mudhol
THE Indian Army, which has been
using foreign canine breeds such
as the German Shepherd, Lab-
rador and Great Swiss Mountain
dog, is now training an Indian
breed — the Mudhol hound — for
induction by the end of the year.
A report by the Times of India
said that six hounds have almost
completed intensive training at the
Army’s Remount and Veterinary
Corps centre in Meerut.
The dogs will be posted in
Jammu and Kashmir.
Cybercrime insurance policy
now available for individuals
PEOPLE can now purchase insur-
ance against cybercrime, includ-
ing loss of funds to online fraud,
identity theft, cyber stalking and
extortion, phishing and malware
Even though customised cyber
liability insurance for businesses
has been around for a long time,
they could not be bought by
The Cyber Safe policy by Bajaj
Allianz General Insurance can be
bought for a sum insured ranging
from Rs1 lakh to Rs1 crore. The
premium depends on the hours
the individual spends online.
Stamps to honour India’s
THE Indian Postal department has
released 24 stamps showcasing
dishes from various states, in a bid
to honour different cuisines across
Dishes such as briyani, idli,
thosai, pongal, vada pao, modak,
sarson ka saag and golgappa have
their own stamps.
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi released the commemora-
tive stamps at the inauguration
ceremony of the World Food India
2017 at the Vigyan Bhawan con-
vention centre in Delhi.
Agra police to learn foreign
APART from English, policemen
in Agra will have to learn Ger-
man, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean,
Portuguese, Japanese, French and
Russian to better address the
needs of foreign tourists.
The basic course will be car-
ried out in collaboration with
Agra University’s department of
Agra police has proposed to set
up two tourism police stations at
Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri with
69 men each, along with four po-
lice outposts with 16 men each to
cover 230 monuments in the city.
Every cop posted at these stations
and outposts are required to learn
at least one foreign language.
Belgium royal couple’s visit to
BELGIUM’S King Philippe and
Queen Mathilde are on a state
visit to India until Nov 11.
They are seen (below) posing for
photographers when they visited
the Taj Mahal in Agra on Nov 6.
During their time in India, they
met with Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and held talks in
Delhi to strengthen bilateral ties.
Wecloming the royal couple, Mr
Modi tweeted that he “looked
forward to diversifying bilateral
India is Belgium’s second largest
export destination and third largest
trade partner outside the Europe-
Foggy morning... Delhi wakes up to a heavy smog.
Chief Minister describes city as ‘gas
chamber’; Bharti Airtel threatens to stop
sponsoring popular half marathon
EAR after year as the tem-
perature comes down, In-
dia’s capital city gets cloaked
in a shroud that it can do without.
The air quality index hits alarming
levels during this period and the
usual blame game on the cause of
On Nov 7, the US embassy web-
site said levels of the fine pollut-
ants known as PM2.5 that are most
harmful to health reached 703 –
well more than double the thresh-
old of 300 which authorities class
A day later, Delhi shut all pri-
mary schools as pollution levels hit
nearly 30 times the World Health
Organization safe level, prompt-
ing doctors in the Indian capital to
warn of a public health emergency.
“The moment I stepped out of
my home I started coughing and
there was a burning sensation in
my eyes,” Mr Naresh Yadav, a bank
employee, told AFP as he walked
to work in central Delhi.
“The government can’t solve this
problem alone; people need to pitch
in and help the government to pro-
tect the environment.”
What causes the air quality to
deteriorate and envelop the city in
Delhi’s air quality typically wors-
ens ahead of the onset of winter
as cooler air traps pollutants near
the ground, preventing them from
dispersing into the atmosphere, a
phenomenon known as inversion.
Firecrackers added to the toxic
mix created by pollution from die-
sel engines, coal-fired power plants
and industrial emissions.
The problem is further exac-
erbated by the burning of crop
stubble by farmers after the har-
vest in north India, a practice that
remains commonplace despite an
official ban. India’s Central Pollu-
tion Control Board said high levels
of moisture in the air and a lack of
wind meant emissions had become
trapped in the environment.
“Total calm conditions, marked
by the complete absence of wind,
has led to the situation,” Mr Dipan-
kar Saha, a senior executive with
the board, told the Press Trust of
“The moisture has trapped emis-
sions from ground-level sources.”
“Delhi has become a gas cham-
ber. Every year this happens during
this part of year. We have to find a
solution to crop burning in adjoin-
ing states,” tweeted the Delhi chief
minister Arvind Kejriwal on Nov 7.
The Indian Medical Association
has called for the cancellation of
the Delhi Half Marathon to be held
on Nov 19.
Telco Bharti Airtel, which has
sponsored the race for the past
nine years, said it may have to re-
think whether to continue support-
ing the event if the issue of pollu-
tion is not addressed urgently.
Strong will... Pradipkumar Singh (above, second
from left) taking part in an awareness-building
drive in Imphal, Manipur, with other activists to
mark World Aids Day. (Left) He won Mr Manipur,
Mr India and other bodybuilding competitions and
is an inspiration to many.
Manipur man rewrites
destiny by becoming
E STAYED home, not seeing daylight
for almost three years.
But today, fighting what appeared
to be insurmountable odds, K. Pradipkumar
Singh overcame social stigma and discrimi-
nation to “show the world what an HIV-pos-
itive person can do in life”.
Lured into the world of drugs and intoxi-
cation during his youth, like many others
in Manipur, Pradipkumar came to know in
2000 that he was infected with the virus.
Born in a village 3km from Imphal, the
state capital, he was not the only one facing
this scourge as HIV and acquired immune
deficiency syndrome (Aids) had emerged
as a serious public health challenge in the
state, which at one time accounted for nearly
8 per cent of India’s HIV-positive cases de-
spite having only 0.2 per cent of the coun-
try’s population, according to the Manipur
State Aids Control Society.
Often called a slow poison, once diag-
nosed with it, an afflicted person could be
condemned to a debilitating and tortured
death, devoid even of the clinical and social
support that other sick people have.
But instead of just accepting his fate, he
gathered courage, challenged prevailing so-
cial norms and turned his weakness into the
“positive” life that he is leading now.
With sheer determination, he started a ca-
reer in bodybuilding and went on to win Mr
Manipur, Mr India and Mr South Asia titles
— apart from clinching a bronze medal in
the Mr World contest.
Having lived with HIV for close to two de-
cades now, Pradipkumar, 46, actively cam-
paigns for awareness of HIV and Aids.
While he does not participate in profes-
sional competitions any more, he works as a
physical trainer at the Department of Youth
Affairs and Sports of the Manipur govern-
ment and plans to open an academy for
“There is so much talent in the northeast
and so much craze for bodybuilding, but all
goes to waste. Neither the state government
nor the sports academy shows any interest
in promoting the sport,” he said.
It was not smooth sailing for him in the
beginning. The initial years after being diag-
nosed with HIV were some of the toughest.
“I became physically weak. (But) it was
more of a psychological attack. The worst
was seeing my closest friends drift away
from me. People would ridicule and mock
me, passers-by would address me as ‘that
HIV man’,” he recalled.
Shunned by doctors
Not just society, the hospital staff and doc-
tors also mistreated him.
“They made me feel like an ‘untouchable’.
At the hospital, I was allotted a corner bed
with no mattress or bed sheet. No physician
or paramedic would visit me throughout the
day,” he recalled.
“There was a time when I thought of end-
ing my life, it was my family’s unconditional
love that kept me alive. Today, I am here,
only because of my family,” Pradipkumar
His sister-in-law Bhanu Devi, to whom he
owes a great deal for standing firmly by his
side, said it was an extremely rough period
when they received the news.
“That time, not many people were aware
of HIV. It was sad to see even some relatives
keeping a distance from us. The only aim for
us at that time was to save Pradip at any cost.
We tried to divert his attention to something
that made him laugh or happy,” she said.
Pradipkumar decided to pursue body-
building as a career. When he couldn’t find
experts to help him, he began to learn by
reading books and following the instructions
in them — “those pages became my men-
“The drugs to resist HIV are strong; they
made me weak. Gradually, I started tak-
ing care of my health; I began following a
proper diet, took nutritious food and turned
completely against any sort of intoxication.
All I wanted was to show the world what an
HIV-positive person can do,” Pradipkumar
He still continues to focus on his body and
is an inspiration to many.
“Although I am not perceived as an in-
spiration the way other athletes are, it feels
good to have achieved many things after
such a period of struggle.”
Unlike many others who don’t come out
in public due to the social stigma attached to
the ailment, Pradipkumar didn’t hesitate to
disclose his identity or to openly talk about
his health condition.
“Why should I be ashamed of being HIV
“HIV does not kill people, it is society that
kills HIV-positive people. My fight is not just
with the virus but also with the mindset of
people,” he told IANS.
Even though he has succeeded in achieving
what he wanted, what hurts him most is not
receiving any recognition from the National
Aids Control Organisation (Naco).
“Naco never recognised me; I got no help
from them. HIV treatment is extremely cost-
ly. Who will remember someone who comes
from a tiny state such as Manipur? Had I
been living in a metropolitan city, people
would have surely remembered me,” he said.
While India had 2.1 million people living
with HIV at the end of last year, the third
highest in the world after South Africa and
Nigeria, new HIV infections have fallen from
150,000 in 2005 to 80,000, data from the
UNAIDS Ending Aids report 2017 showed.
As per the latest India HIV Estimations
2015 report, Manipur has the highest esti-
mated adult (15 to 49 years) HIV prevalence
of 1.15 per cent as against the national figure
of 0.26 per cent.
Indo-Asian News Service
|Singapore Press Holdings|
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