Navy going the Swadeshi way
Slowly but steadily Indian Navy is also following the way of Swadeshi. Realising the importance of self-reliance, now the Navy is setting up a Directorate of Indigenisation to promote indigenious ship-building and self-reliance in other critical areas which in turn would save the Navy from the problems of overcharging and long waiting periods. Disclosing this at a recent function the Naval Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash said the Directorate would be headed by an officer of the rank of Captain or Commodore and the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) would aid in this process and even provide its manpower to Navy. Stressing the importance of indigenisation, the Naval chief said due to dependence on imports either we end up paying too much, or we have to wait for too long a period, or we receive material of questionable quality. He further commented that to achieve the target of total self-reliance in defence the government has to make it its goal. Until then it would remain just a distant dream.
Global drug use rises
Global drug use has risen by some eight per cent in the past year, with cannabis leading the way, and synthetic narcotics such as amphetamines and ecstasy declining, according to the latest report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). About 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 or five per cent of the world'spopulation have used drugs over the last 12 months. That represents an increase from the previous year by 15 million people, says the UNODC'sWorld Drug Report 2005. The report, also notes a global increase in cannabis use, and says that the $320 billion global retail market for illicit drugs is larger than the gross domestic products of 90 per cent of the world'scountries. Marijuana and hashish remain the most popular street drugs. Almost 161 million people had used cannabis at least once, up from about 150 million a year earlier. The use of cannabis is likely to grow in the coming years, said the report. However, the use of amphetamines and ecstasy dropped, mainly in the United States and South-East Asia. The report says the main ?problem drugs? globally, for which people are seeking help at treatment centres, are cocaine and opiates, such as heroin. The situation in Afghanistan will determine the size and development of the world'smain opiate markets. The report notes that Afghanistan'sopium harvest is still finding its way to consumer markets in Europe and other regions and purity levels are on the rise.
Hindu manuscripts on world register
Twenty-nine documentary collections in 24 countries have been inscribed on UNESCO'sMemory of the World Register. These additions bring to 120 the total number of inscriptions on the Register to date. They include, for the first time, collections from Albania, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Cuba, Italy, Lebanon, Namibia, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the US. From India, the collection includes the Saiva manuscripts of Pondicherry. This collection of 11,000 palm-leaf and paper manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tamil and Manipravalam focuses mainly on the religion and worship of the Hindu God Shiva. It includes the largest collection in the world of manuscripts of texts of the Saiva Siddhanta, a religious tradition, which spread across the Indian subcontinent and beyond, as far as Cambodia in the East. The Pondicherry manuscripts, dating from the 6th century A.D. to the start of the colonial period, are kept at the French Institute of Pondicherry.
Move to document rare manuscripts
This week you can get a chance to see 125 odd young graduates in the role of surveyors from the National Mission for Manuscripts knocking from door-to-door hunting for rare manuscripts in the capital city. The Mission is also providing conservation kits to manuscript repositories and private collectors in Delhi. The surveyors would also visit Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. This is the first government effort to approach private collectors. Before this, the Mission had focussed on institutions only. The surveyors will not ask people to turn in their valuable manuscripts but will help them restore those age-old cultural heritage and document their existence. Individual collectors can keep these manuscripts with them even after they have been conserved. The surveyors will also record details of the manuscripts they find according to the standard format for the Mission'snational database?the National Catalogue of Manuscripts. This database would be made available on the Internet for scholars, researchers and other interested individuals. National Mission for Manuscripts has restored about 80,000 manuscripts collected from around 12 institutions in the capital, including the National Museum and the National Archives. India has an estimated five million rare manuscripts which is the largest repository of such documents in the world. But the sad aspect is that most of this invaluable wealth is undocumented and ill-preserved. The survey is being organised in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA). In 2003, at the time of NDA government, the Ministry of Culture had launched National Mission for Manuscripts for a period of five years. So far, it has succeeded in conserving more than 1.25 lakh manuscripts all over the country.