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Panchayat polls: A setback likely for BJD

first_imgAt the end of the fifth and last phase of panchayat polls on Tuesday, it became clear that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal has lost its supremacy in rural Odisha, suffering a severe jolt in the western region.In its fourth consecutive term in power, the BJD has for the first time faced serious challenge not from the Congress but from its one-time ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The shock to the ruling party has come while it was trying to strengthen its position by celebrating the birth centenary of late Biju Patnaik after whom the party has been named.Before enforcement of the model code of conduct, Mr. Patnaik had visited almost all the districts, announcing new schemes and laying foundation stones for new projects in an attempt to beat anti-incumbency. A number people from rival parties as well as popular actors were inducted into the BJD to exhibit the party’s growing popularity in the run-up to the polls.The ruling BJD had also tried to whip up popular sentiments by raising the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh by organising protests and Jal Satyagraha.Although the results of the rural polls have not been formally announced, going by reports reaching the Capital city, it appears that the BJD had lost ground in over 100 Zilla Parishad constituencies. Top BJD leaders too have failed to prevent the BJP from winning in their strongholds. It seems that Mr. Patnaik’s pre-poll announcements and public mobilisation on the Mahanadi issue had had little impact on voters. The BJP, on the other hand, achieved spectacular success by intensifying its campaign when the BJD was bugged by anti-incumbency, and the Congress, the main opposition in State Assembly, remained a divided house.The saffron party is likely to cross the 300 mark by increasing its strength from a measly 36 of the total 851 Zilla Parishad seats in the last panchayat polls in 2012.The BJP has not only achieved substantial electoral gains in the western region of the State by defeating both the BJD and the Congress nominees, it has also been able to make inroads into the coastal region where the BJD was strong all these years.The BJD, which won 651 seats in 2012, is set to get restricted to 400-odd seats with the Congress suffering a major setback. The party, which has been pushed to the third position by the BJP, is set to win 50-odd seats this time as against 128 five years ago. Though the trend was not clear in all 30 districts, the BJD is likely to form Zilla Parishad in at least 14 districts, the BJP in eight and the Congress in two districts as happened in 2012. The BJP had not been able to form council in any district last time.The interior districts where the BJP performed unexpectedly well this time include Kalahandi, Balangir, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Malkangiri and Mayurbhanj. The party had strong presence in these areas during its nine-year-long partnership in the State government from 2000 to 2009.Voter turnout The final results will be declared by the State Election Commission on February 25. The initial outcome, however, have left the BJD shocked, the BJP euphoric and the Congress depressed. All these parties have already started contemplating about adopting new strategy to regain lost ground and consolidate their position in future polls. The highest voter turnout of 77% was recorded in the last phase of the polls on Tuesday, surpassing the turnout in the previous four phases. Giving details of the fifth phase polling held in 150 Zilla Parishad seats spread over 26 of the total 30 districts, the Election Commission said Subarnapur district recorded the highest turnout at 88% and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s home district Ganjam saw the lowest at 67%.The results of the elections for the posts of sarpanches and ward members, and results for panchayat samity members and Zilla Parishad members will be announced on February 23 and 25 respectively by the Block Development Officers-cum-Election Officers.last_img read more

Fifth body, a civilian, found near Shopian shootout site

first_imgFifth body of a civilian was found near the shootout site in Shopian on Monday morning, as the authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in Shopian, Pulwama and Srinagar as a precautionary measure. “Another body has been found at a distance from the Sunday evening incident at Pahnoo Shopian,” said a Srinagar-based police spokesman.The police identified the deceased as Gowhar Ahmed Lone of Chitragam in Shopian. Lone, who was pursuing M.P.Ed at Nagpur University in Maharashtra, had four bullets on his body. The police said it has “initiated an investigation” into the incident.A total of five people, including a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant and four civilians, has been killed amid conflicting versions. The Army said a patrol came under fire around 8 p.m. and in the “retaliatory fire one militant and four of his accomplices in a car were killed.”The Army described the deceased as “over ground workers” of militants. However, the locals and the victim families claimed none of the “civilians” had any association with militants and were killed in “a cold blooded murder”.Shopian has remained tense this year as five civilians were killed in two separate firing incidents on January 10 and January 27. In both the incidents, locals accused the security forces of “indiscriminate fire”. The Army faces an FIR in the January 27 incident.Meanwhile, authorities imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar, Pulwama and Shopian. Internet services have been barred in parts of south Kashmir as sporadic protests broke out there.All train services have been suspended. Kashmir University has cancelled all examinations. The exams of prestigious Kashmir Administrative Services were also postponed. Separatists have called for a shutdown against the incident.last_img read more

Managing midlife transitions

first_imgWe’re all familiar with the stereotype of the 50-year-old man who exchanges his car for a flashier model, or trades his wife in for a younger model, starts covering his baldness and wearing younger clothes or chucks in his job to go off and travel the world. Less dramatic but disruptive nonetheless, mid-lifers may resort to drinking more alcohol than before, feeling depressed and blaming themselves for their failures, or putting excess pressure (possibly psychologically damaging) on their children to excel in academics or areas such as sports and arts.Many of us spend our 40s and 50s, even after having found our place in the world, re-evaluating our lives, searching impatiently for undefined goals, driven by a deep sense of remorse for unachieved dreams or a desire to relive feelings of youthfulness. An earlier generation of psychologists attributed it to the feelings that many individuals approaching the middle age of their lives experience, faced with the sense of the passage of their youth and the nearness of their old age and impending death. The Germans have a word for it: Torschlusspanik: the fear of doors closing. Normal transitions during this period of life, such as the death of parents, the realisation of being stuck in an unsatisfying career, the onset of menopause or children leaving home often trigger off strong feelings of dissatisfaction, self-doubt and depression in some individuals.It is popularly called midlife crisis. As a result, they may experience a powerful desire to make significant changes in core aspects of their lives: career, marriage, romantic relationships, big-budget expenditures, or physical appearance.advertisementBut a midlife crisis is not inevitable and may be less common than once believed. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that older people in their mid-to-late 50s are generally happier, and experience less stress and worry than young adults in their 20s. Though the traditional view about ageing is that the functions of the body and brain inexorably decline. However, recent discoveries in neuroscience show that the ageing brain is more flexible and adaptable than we previously thought. Throughout life, our brains encode thoughts and memories by forming new connections among the nerve bodies (neurons).With age, the neurons themselves lose some processing speed, but with the acquired learning of a lifetime, they become ever more richly intertwined, reflecting deeper knowledge and better judgment. The brain also becomes less rigidly bifurcated. Functionally two separate structures, the right brain and the left brain, are linked by fibres called the corpus callosum; the left specialises in speech, language and logical reasoning, while the right handles more intuitive tasks, such as face recognition and the reading of emotional cues. Unlike young adults, who handle most tasks on one side of the brain or the other, older ones tend to use both hemispheres. Besides keeping them sharp, this neural integration makes it easier for healthy mid-lifers to reconcile their thoughts with their feelings. As our ageing brains grow wiser and more flexible, they also tend toward greater equanimity. But one can’t sit back and expect wisdom and contentment to flow automatically. Research has identified several types of activities, which if practised regularly, help boost the powers of the ageing brain.Achieve mastery. Mastery over a skill or job is the most important factor deciding a person’s self-efficacy, especially in today’s world. Success experiences raise one’s sense of self-efficacy, failure lowers it. Practise mastering a skill, doing something or striving to do something at its highest level. People who enjoy a sense of control and mastery stay healthier than those who don’t. The possibilities are unlimited, ranging from learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, to taking up painting or embroidery.Exercise physically. Regular physical exercise leads to increased blood flow to the brain, the production of endorphins, better filtration of waste products from the brain and increased brain-oxygen levels and is consistently linked to increased well-being.Establish strong social networks. People who sustain rich and extended social relationships during the second half of life have been shown to enjoy significantly lower blood pressure, lower risk of stroke and brain damage. Social relationships also reduce stress, anxiety and depression.Fulfil your need for generativity. During middle age, the primary developmental task is one of contributing to society and helping to guide future generations. This leads to a sense of generativity-a sense of productivity and accomplishment. In contrast, a person who is self-centred and unable or unwilling to help society move forward develops a feeling of stagnation.advertisementlast_img read more

European roundup: Napoli crumble after Paulo Dybala turns up the heat

first_imgSerie A The Observer Roma Blaise Matuidi: ‘When you’re a football fan, and you love others, you can’t accept racism’ Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Bundesliga Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 16th goal of the La Liga season, and 300th in the league for Real Madrid. Photograph: Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0, Luis Muriel and Franco Vázquez getting the goals, and Girona ran out 2-0 winners at Villarreal, with Cristhian Stuani and Anthony Lozano striking either side of half-time to take the newly promoted side to seventh.In France, PSG made light work of their first league encounter since Neymar’s season-ending injury, winning 2-0 at Troyes to restore their 14-point lead at the top of Ligue 1. The visitors broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart when Ángel Di María raced on to Julian Draxler’s through-ball and finished low into the bottom corner. Troyes then wasted two rare forays forward before Dani Alves’ brilliant pass released Christopher Nkunku, who dispatched the ball into the bottom corner. Timothy Weah, the 18-year-old son of the former Liberia striker George, came off the bench to make his debut.In Germany, Borussia Dortmund passed up the chance to regain second place, needing a 38th-minute equaliser from Marco Reus to salvage a point at RB Leipzig in Saturday’s late kick-off. The Germany forward superbly rounded Peter Gulacsi and scored to cancel out Jean-Kévin Augustin’s 29th-minute opener. Earlier, a last-gasp goal from Paulo Dybala sunk Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. Juve enjoyed the best chances, with Mario Mandzukic and Sami Khedira going close. But the game was set to end in stalemate until the final minute of stoppage-time, when Dybala danced his way into the box to hold off a challenge and hook the ball high beyond Thomas Strakosha.Elsewhere in Italy, Alberto Grassi’s 48th-minute strike was enough to see off Bologna and lift Spal out of the relegation zone.In La Liga, Real Madrid beat Getafe 3-1, Gareth Bale lashing in the opener from inside the area at a sparsely populated Bernabéu, before Cristiano Ronaldo stretched his side’s advantage after a through-ball from Karim Benzema. The Portuguese hit his 16th league goal of the season when he headed in a cross from Marcelo shortly after Francisco Portillo had pulled one back from the spot. Napoli Roma blew open the Serie A title race by beating the league leaders, Napoli, 4-2 on their own turf, hours after Juventus had overcome Lazio in dramatic fashion. The results leave Napoli a point clear of second-placed Juventus, who have a game in hand.Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a sixth-minute lead but Cengiz Ünder equalised a minute later with a deflected effort before Edin Dzeko nodded Roma ahead. The Bosnian netted a second with a superb left-foot curler, and Diego Perotti slammed home a loose ball six minutes later. Dries Mertens’s stoppage-time strike was a mere consolation. Topics Juventus European club football Read morecenter_img La Liga Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Reuse this content Patrick Cutrone keeps Milan on the move as Gattuso conquers Rome Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on Twitter news Pinterest Read more That result meant that Schalke, who had seen off Hertha Berlin earlier in the day through Marko Pjaca’s goal, held on to second spot. The winger turned home a low cross in the 37th minute to seal a 1-0 win that took his side ahead of Dortmund and kept them a point clear of Eintracht Frankfurt, who beat Hannover by the same scoreline thanks to Danny da Costa’s strike.Wolfsburg slipped closer to the relegation zone after losing 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen. A penalty from Lucas Alario and a fine strike from Julian Brandt gave the visitors a two-goal lead, before Admir Mehmedi replied for Wolfsburg with 11 minutes remaining. Elsewhere Hoffenheim kept up their chase of a Europa League place with a 2-0 win at Augsburg, the goals coming from a pair of former Premier League attackers in Andrej Kramaric and Serge Gnabry, while Hamburg – the only founder members of the Bundesliga never to be relegated but now in severe danger – drew 0-0 at home with 10-man Mainz, who remain a place above their hosts in 16th. While Bayern Munich have the title as good as won, the race for the top four looks set to go down to the wire, with just four points separating Schalke in second and Leipzig in sixth. Facebook Share via Emaillast_img read more