A taste of Italy up in Shimla hills

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The Himachal Pradesh capital is now offering a platter of authentic taste of Italy — an Italian thin crust, hand-rolled wood-fired pizzas laced with an assortment of organic herbs grown in its kitchen garden.

The pizza will also have Italian tomatoes or pomodoros imported from Italy. Even the cheese is being imported from Italy.

“We are different from others as our thin crust pizza base is one of its kind as it is smoked in the mango wood oven. Others have electrical ovens which don’t give it a smoky flavour,” Meet Singh Malhotra, The Oberoi Group’s Clarkes Hotel’s kitchen executive, told IANS.

“Even its base is hand rolled and for health conscious guests we offer organic whole-wheat pizzas too,” he said.

Herbs like basil, wild rocket and arugula used in the pizza are specially grown by the hotel in its kitchen garden without using pesticides or fertiliser.

Malhotra said the condiments with a pizza are olive oil which is flavoured with thyme, a herb, and balsamic vinegar.

“We use only the finest ingredients, besides traditional recipe and methods, to give typical Italian flavour,” Clarkes’ general manager D.P. Bhatia told IANS.

He said Clarkes has also introduced a new menu which includes Chinese, Mexican, Italian and homemade pastas, besides traditional Himachali cuisines.

He said traditional Himachali food like khoru, patore, babroo, chaa ghosht and murgh anardana, which have been long forgotten, are popular among the guests.

In February this year, The Oberoi Group of hotels in Shimla and in Delhi introduced Himachali cuisine, which is not only offered in traditional style but also cooked by chefs trained by the “botis” or hereditary cooks in copper vessels.

Bhatia said Clarkes would soon add a street food menu.

It will include foods like keema samosa, patile wale matar kulcha, kachaudi with aloo ki sabzi and bichoo ki chat or stinging nettle chat.

The stinging nettle is commonly grown in the wild in the hills and is known to have medicinal values, said Malhotra.

To catch up the pizzeria fever, Clarkes offers unlimited pizza at Rs.550 per person with a complimentary drink from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Delayed results: B Pharm students miss transfer deadline, may not get into colleges of preference

The delay in declaration of results at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) has affected scores of second-year pharmacy students, who may lose out on the chance to get admission into colleges of their choice. According to students, the results of the first-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (B Pharm) courses were released on July 26. The Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) allows first-year students to switch colleges in the second year, as transfer cases.

However, B Pharm students who had received their first-year results on July 26, said when they approached other colleges for transfers, they were turned away and told that they have “missed the deadline”. “There has been a delay in declaration of results at the university’s end, but we have to suffer. The result was apparently sent to our college late in the evening on July 25. Since the office had closed, we got it the next day. But when my friends and I approached a college to get admission, we were told that the deadline for taking transfer admissions was only till July 27, and now we are not eligible. We don’t understand how can they expect us to finish all the procedure in just one day?” asked a college student at Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Another student, who was aspiring to get admission at Indira College of Pharmacy, said he had even visited the DTE offices in Pune and Mumbai with his queries, but to no avail. “We were told that the admission calendar is set by the DTE several months in advance. Now, it is the turn of students under the Centralised Admission Process (CAP) to get admissions,” he added.

Many principals, meanwhile, said they have been inundated with students’ queries over the last few days.

“We have received many queries from students. Actually, the students got only one day for transfer, which has led to this confusion. It’s unfortunate. But second year admissions also take place through CAP. Students under CAP get direct admission in the second year after having passed a diploma in pharmacy. Their registrations are done, so it would be unfair to them as well,” said Dr Ashwini Madgudkar, principal, AISSMS College of Pharmacy.

Principals of pharmacy colleges said this year the delay in declaration of results has been rather long. “The exams got over in the last week of May. Generally, the results come by the end of June or first week of July. However, this year, the results are over three weeks late. But this problem is not restricted to Pune, many universities across the state are facing the same issues,” said P D Chaudhari, principal, Modern College of Pharmacy.

DTE officials also expressed inability to help the transfer students at this point of time. “The schedule was decided much in advance, accordingly the list of vacancies was declared. Student registrations were taken for direct admissions through CAP under second year. The deadline for transfer admissions is over. Now, after the CAP process is over, if seats are left over, those will be allotted to transfer cases,” said Dayanand Meshram, joint director of technical education, Maharashtra.

 

Delhi government cuts funding of 28 Delhi University colleges

Manish Sisodia, Delhi govt, AAP

The Delhi government today ordered a freeze on funding of 28 Delhi University colleges which are either fully or partially funded by it following the varsity’s failure to appoint governing bodies since months.

As first reported by The Indian Express on July 20, even after 11 communications in the past 11 months yielded no result, the Delhi government has directed that “all funds” to 28 government-funded colleges in Delhi University be stopped by August 1 unless the university constitutes governing bodies before that.

Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia, while describing the delay as a “farcical” and “deliberate”. In a series of tweets, he said, “Hv ordered Fin Dept to stop funding for all Delhi gov funded 28 DU colleges, as DU not willing to hv governing bodies for last 10 months,” Sisodia said in a series of
tweets.

“I cannot allow unchecked corruption and irregularities to be sustained on Delhi govt funds in the name of education,” he added.

Earlier, the Delhi government had alleged that the varsity’s administration is under pressure from the Central government and therefore deliberately not constituting governing bodies of 28 colleges. While 12 of them are fully funded, the government provides 5 per cent grant to 16 others. The remaining 95 per cent is given by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Delhi University Registrar Tarun Das, who is authorised to speak to media, remained unavailable for his comments on the issue.

NCERT: No increase in price of books

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The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on Tuesday clarifies that it is not planning to increase the price of the books. “Certain speculative reports about price hike of NCERT books are likely to be exploited by some elements for hoarding and profiteering by creating an artificial shortage of books. No such increase an s likely,” NCERT Director Hrushikesh Senapati said in statement.

The statement comes at a time when it was some media reports said that the council is planning to increase price of its books which raised concerns among various quarters. “All NCERT books are available at its portal for downloading free of cost,” he added.

As per the Economic Times, NCERT textbooks price was last revised in 2012 with the cost of some of them going up by up to 50 per cent. The hike was big as NCERT had revised the prices after 13 years and the printing charges had gone up manifold.

Recently, the secretary to the Union School Education and Literacy Ministry Anil Swarup said NCERT books will be made available to students of all public and private schools. However, choice should be available and option should be given to the school students.

He also said that CBSE has 20,000 schools and 13 crore books are consumed (used) by students. But while the maximum price of a NCERT book is Rs 50, that of a non-NCERT book goes upto Rs 300.

Now, medical college aspirants complain of confusion and chaos

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MEDICAL COLLEGE aspirants, who got their admissions confirmed in a deemed college before the joint merit list for government and private colleges was declared on Monday, will not be able to switch to a government or private college despite their name appearing on the list. The last date for confirming or cancelling admissions to deemed colleges was July 30, two days before the joint merit list was declared. So, applicants who now have the option to move to a college with a lower fee will not be able to avail of the option.

“My daughter was offered admission at MGM college and had to confirm her seat by July 30. The list came out today and she has been offered admission in a college with lower fees. Despite the offer, she is unable to switch. This is injustice,” said Pranay Kapadia, the father of a medical aspirant.

Delays over releasing medical college cut-off lists have left many students in the lurch. The issue started with the postponement of some colleges’ cut-off lists from the original deadline of July 25. While the deemed colleges released their lists as planned, the merit list for private and government colleges was delayed owing to court cases over the domicile criteria. Thereafter, private unaided colleges refused to admit students until their fee was restructured, causing further delay. Finally, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) released a combined list on Tuesday with 6,000 names on it.

Mahesh Choudhari, another parent, said, “We do not know where my child is getting admission even though the list has been released. There is too much confusion. Getting all documents ready by August 5 is stressful.”

“There are a few names missing from the paramedical colleges. Parents and students are unsure of their admission status because not all the lists have been released. Under the uncertainty surrounding admissions, many have taken seats in deemed colleges as a safe bet,” said Sudha Shenoy, a parent activist working towards streamlining the admission process.

DMER director Pravin Shingare, however, said that several applicants had got a better option than the previous list declared last week. “In the last list, of the 2,450 names on the list, 2,100 had got their first preferences. They need not change,” said Shingare, adding that those already admitted to deemed colleges will not be allowed to reconsider.

Manish Sisodia calls for CAG audit of 28 colleges: Cannot turn a blind eye to malpractices

Manish Sisodia, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Ramjas School, Ramjas School Principal, Delhi News, Indian Express, Indian Express News

“The government cannot turn a blind eye to… malpractices and irregularities potentially taking place in the 28 Delhi University colleges funded by it”, said Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia in a letter to Shashi Kant Sharma, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, while requesting a “comprehensive audit of these colleges”.

In the letter, Sisodia requested that the audit look at “all expenditure made by these colleges in the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18”, “procedure of regular and ad-hoc appointments” and “regulatory and administrative action taken by DU (with respect to) these 28 colleges”. The letter added that the “audit is essential to ensure that there has been no misuse of public money”.

On Monday, the government had directed that all funds to the 28 government-funded colleges in DU be stopped, after the university failed to appoint governing bodies to these colleges despite 11 communications in the past 11 months.

In his letter, Sisodia wrote, “The oversight and monitoring of the procedures and expenditures in these colleges is done by the governing bodies. The term of the governing bodies ended in October last year. Since then, DU has been delaying the formation of these bodies, despite repeated correspondence.”

He added, “I have regularly been getting representations regarding corruption and irregularities in these colleges; including a letter from Udit Raj (MP, northwest Delhi) with details of irregularities in the appointment procedures in one these colleges…” Raj’s letter was also shared by Sisodia on social media outlets.

Dean of Colleges, Devesh Sinha, said, “I have not seen the letter demanding an audit, but any funding agency has the right to conduct audits. Even the Centre asks for such audits.”

The government’s order is already creating a flutter in the university, with the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) writing to Sisodia as well as Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi.

In the letter to Sisodia, DUTA president Nandita Narain said, “DU has no right to delay the process or continue functioning with truncated governing bodies. We cannot accept such a harsh decision which penalises teachers and students for no fault of theirs.” DUTA has also appealed to Tyagi to urgently constitute the governing bodies.

Parents, beware. 3 hours of TV daily may up risk of diabetes in your kids

Being glued to television or video games for more than three hours a day may put your children at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Parents, take note! Being glued to television or video games for more than three hours a day may put your children at increased risk of developing diabetes, a study warns. Researchers found that both adiposity, which describes total body fat, and insulin resistance, which occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin, were affected by longer hours of watching television and using computers.

“Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls, from an early age,” said Claire Nightingale, research fellow at St George’s, University of London in the UK.

Researchers based their findings on a sample of nearly 4,500 nine to 10-year-old pupils from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester. The children were assessed for a series of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood fats, insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure and body fat.

Around a third of the children spent less than an hour of screen time a day, but 28% of the children said they clocked up one to two hours; 13% said their tally was two to three hours; and 18% said they spent more than three hours looking at screens every day.

The study noted that there was a trend between levels of screen time and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite. (Shutterstock )

Trends emerged between screen time and ponderal index – an indicator of weight in relation to height, and skinfolds thickness and fat mass index – indicators of total body fat. Researchers found that these levels were all higher in children reporting more than three hours of daily screen time than in those who said they spent an hour or less on it.

The team also noted that there was a strong trend between levels of screen time and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, and insulin resistance. The trends remained significant even after taking account of potentially influential factors, including physical activity levels, researchers said.

CBSE UGC NET 2017: Students oppose suspension of entrance test for college teachers

Students have opposed the Central Board of Scondary Education’s (CBSE’s) decision to skip University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for the first half of the year.

Students have opposed the Central Board of Scondary Education’s (CBSE’s) decision to skip University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for the first half of the year.

The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) asking CBSE to take back its decision to suspend the tests. It also wants the government to conduct one more session in 2017 for students who are crossing the age limit.

Those who aspire to be assistant professor or work as junior research fellow (JRF) in colleges and universities across the country are required to clear UGC-NET. The test is usually held twice every year – around months of June and December.

In a July 11 notification, CBSE announced that the next UGC-NET exam will be held on November 5. The announcement came as a shock to teaching and research aspirants across the country who were anxiously waiting for the summer session of the test.

SIO said that suspension will further accentuate shortage of qualified teachers in degree colleges. “Shortage of faculty has been a big hurdle in ensuring quality education. Thousands of teaching positions are vacant in the universities across the country. In such a circumstance, suspending UGC NET may lead to annoyance among student community, and a loss to the intellectual community of India,” said Syed Azharuddin, national secretary, SIO.

The CBSE had approached the ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),expressing its inability to conduct the UGC NET exam due to capacity crunch as it was overburdened with other tests such as the JEE (for admission to undergraduate engineering courses) and the NEET (for admission to under-graduate medical courses).

The student body also argued that suspension of UGC-NET stands in contrast to UGC’s intention to make NET or State Eligibility Test (SET) mandatory for pursuing PhD. It also said that the decision undermines union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, who in a recently concluded parliamentary session, had announced that majority of vacancies in Universities would be filled up this year.

IGNOU extends last date of admission to BA, MA, diploma courses to August 18

IGNOU said on Monday it has extended the last date for admission to the July 2017 session to masters and bachelor’s degree, diploma and PG diploma programmes.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) said on Monday it has extended the last date for admission to the July 2017 session to masters and bachelor’s degree, diploma and PG diploma programmes, including the semester-based programmes, to August 18.

Registrar in-charge of student registration division Prof Sri Latha said the admission forms can be filled online at onlineadmission.ignou.ac.in/admission

“Due to heavy traffic on the online admission server, the system response is slow. As a result, many applicants willing to apply for admission are unable to apply,” VP Rupam, head of e-support, said.

Admissions to the certificate programmes that are offered through the common prospectus by the distance learning national university for the July 2017 session ended on Monday.

The last date for BCom (A and F) and MCom (F and T), BCom (CA and A) and MCom (BP and CG), BCom (F and CA) and MCom (MA and FS) programmes is also August 18 and the procedure for their admission is offline.

IGNOU offers these programmes in collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accounts of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, and Institute of Cost Accountants of India.

The desi version of a healthy soup

Kanji or kanji water made of different rice varieties offers not just nutrition but also a lot of comfort

Now that the rains are making their reluctant appearance, I long for kanji (rice gruel). It evokes memories of our annual childhood holiday in a small village on the banks of the Periyar river in Kerala. We were 18 grandchildren and, almost every year, at least a dozen would gather to spend time with our grandparents. So kanji for dinner was the only feasible option.

At 7.30 pm, we would line up on a mat on the floor. The steel plates and spoons fashioned out of jackfruit leaves would be laid out. We were served two ladles of hot red rice kanji, a blob of coconut chutney and green gram poriyal on a small strip of banana leaf set beside the plate. While the jar of salt mixed with water went around, we would try to get a bite of each other’s pappadam. After dinner, my aunt would pour water into the leftover kanji, if any, and keep it in an earthen pot. This, along with some pickle or leftover gravy stored in a kalchatti, was next morning’s breakfast for the adults.

My aunt reminisced, “The kanji would be of Chitteni, Onattan,Vatton, Navara or Erumakkari red rice — grown, parboiled and milled, bran mostly intact . Everything, except the pappadam made by a neighbouring family, was cultivated and processed by us. I don’t think many farmers grow these paddy varieties now.”

The preferred mid-morning drink/meal was kanji water flavoured with a little salt and pickle. Before pressure cooking came into vogue, rice was cooked in an open vessel with lots of water, which was then drained into another vessel and kept aside. Passers-by would ask for kanji water if they stopped for a drink .

Kanji made with different varieties of rice tastes different. Red rice kanji is arguably the best. But I have recently fallen love with kanji made with Ilupai poo samba (a white rice) and semi-polished karuppu kavuni black rice (almost purple in colour and rich in taste). We use coconut chutney, roasted gram chutney, tuvar chutney, ridge gourd thuvaiyal or any of the numerous chutneys that are an integral part of the South Indian cuisine. Kanjis can also be flavoured with steamed greens like moringa leaves and curry leaves or cooked along with green gram. Kanji is usually made of broken rice, as it gets cooked faster.

Three years ago, when we were visiting organic seed saver paddy farmers in Karnataka we stayed with Nandish, an innovative rice farmer. We had a wonderful surprise in the morning: a small bowl of leftover rice was mixed with buttermilk and chopped onions and accompanied by another bowl of sprouted groundnuts, green gram and Bengal gram. Nandish said, “The only thing better than this is the water in which the rice was soaked. This is the best source of Vitamin B12 for vegetarians.”

Red rice kanji and kanji water are used extensively in Ayurveda as part of the diet and during treatment. According to Ayurveda practitioners, kanji cures fatigue, removes toxins, stimulates the appetite and helps facilitate bowel movements. In Kerala, medicinal kanjis, prepared using medicinal rices like Navara, Raktasali and herbs, are consumed during Aadi (Karkidakam).

I see adoption of kanji and kanji water as a way to rediscover our own version of healthy soups instead of chasing artificially flavoured soups. Why don’t we introduce it to our children on a rainy evening in a soup bowl, with some roasted pappadam crisps or and green gram on the side? They may actually surprise us and enjoy it.

Right in many ways

It is a convenience food

It is delicious and wholesome

It is easy to cook

It is a great one-pot meal

It is local and seasonal