Interim budget addresses concerns of the middle class
The interim budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, outlines several measures aimed at supporting the middle class in India. One of the key provisions is the introduction of a new housing scheme designed to assist deserving sections of the middle class in purchasing or constructing their own homes. This initiative is expected to provide substantial impetus to the housing sector and rejuvenate the mid-segment and affordable housing markets. Furthermore, the budget maintains the existing direct tax rates, ensuring continuity for middle-class taxpayers and allowing them to pursue their tax planning strategies without significant changes. This decision provides stability and predictability for middle-class taxpayers in managing their tax liabilities. These specific provisions in the 2024 budget demonstrate the government's commitment to addressing the needs of the middle class, particularly in the areas of homeownership and tax planning. The initiatives outlined in the budget are poised to have a positive impact on the lives of middle-class citizens and contribute to their financial well-being.
Cotton University, Guwahati
Snow leopard count
The presence of the elusive and enigmatic snow leopard is a vital indicator of the Himalayan ecosystem, especially the region's rivers. The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SLPAI), under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLESP), has put the number of snow leopards in India at 718. The study, which covered 1,20,000 km of the trans-Himalayan region, has recommended the setting up of a dedicated snow leopard cell at the Wildlife Institute of India. Appropriate, considering India's 5 percent share of the global snow leopard population. One of the most lovely big cats, snow leopards are seen predominantly in six Himalayan states: Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Their anatomy is perfect for high altitude because they possess a large nasal cavity and an abundant number of red blood cells (RBC) that help them breathe oxygen well, unlike other animals. The large and thick fur, along with the long and girthy tail, helps the snow leopard wrap itself up in the biting cold of the Himalayas.
No wonder; it is a 12-country-range animal. Sadly, habitat loss, poaching for its skull, climate and infrastructural change, and man-animal conflict have reduced the snow leopard population. Among these, the last mentioned factor is avoidable since the big cat's favourite feast, the white sheep (argalis), is the livestock of the locals.
Dr. Ganapathi Bhat
Quality over quantity
During our student days, we were taught by our teachers that quantity and quality are poles apart. Under no circumstances should quality be compromised with quantity. This very teaching does not seem to be applicable and is followed by ACA, as shown by the recent results of the state cricket team in the ongoing Ranji Trophy championship. Very often, we see reports about many domestic tournaments held across the state under the aegis of ACA, the parent body of state cricket, where VIPs are seen in the prize distribution ceremony. In the meantime, Assam is blessed with an international-standard cricket stadium in Barsapara, which has already staged some ODI and T20 matches successfully due to the ACA's efforts. But sadly, the state has not been able to produce a national cricketer. Frankly speaking, ACA cannot take any credit for Riyan Parag’s success, as it was entirely due to his family’s efforts, which made Riyan a prominent national-level player, though he has not yet been able to find a place on the national team. The very same can be said about AATA, which is compromising quality with quantity by holding many tournaments across the state without any players at the national level. It seems both ACA and AATA officials are having a carnival time by holding many tournaments without any scheme or supervision. Merely appointing a national or international-level coach will or has not served any purpose. Bidyut Goswami and Susan Das Chowdhury were national champions through their own efforts.
We are watching.
Dr. Ashim Chowdhury,
Integrated traffic management system
The Integrated Traffic Management System (ITMS) in Guwahati was introduced two years ago to streamline traffic flow. The recent hiccups in the system's performance, especially in crucial areas like Paltan Bazar, have given rise to chaotic traffic situations, causing inconvenience to residents and commuters alike.
The reported failures of the ITMS at the tri-junction in Paltan Bazar, where the system at times doesn't function properly, have resulted in vehicular chaos and congestion. It is disheartening to learn that, despite the introduction of additional features such as the automatic number plate detection system (ANPR) and red light violation detection (RLVD), these functions have not been fully implemented, as drivers continue to break traffic signals with impunity.
Furthermore, the revelation that out of the 10 additional speed violation detection systems (SVDS) planned for installation in various parts of the city, only two are currently functional raises serious questions about the efficiency and reliability of the ITMS. It is essential that such technological solutions are not only implemented comprehensively but also maintained and monitored effectively to ensure their continued functionality.
The official information indicating that 60% of the work has been completed and that there are 30 junctions where ITMS works seamlessly is overshadowed by the fact that installation is yet to start in some areas due to pending approvals from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and public works department (PWD). Additionally, the damage to multiple traffic poles due to vehicular accidents underscores the need for a robust maintenance plan to address unforeseen challenges.
Reports of the system being manually managed during VVIP movements further emphasize the limitations of the current ITMS in adapting to real-time traffic scenarios.
Adding to the complexity is the revelation that the tender for Guwahati's ITMS project has been awarded to Technosys Security System Private Limited for a term of five years. However, the lack of maintenance activities and the non-transfer of the project to Guwahati Smart City Limited (GSCL) have raised doubts about the project's completion and effectiveness. In light of these issues, I urge the authorities concerned to address the challenges faced by Guwahati's ITMS promptly. A reliable and efficient traffic management system is crucial for the well-being and convenience of the city's residents, and swift action is needed to ensure the system's proper functioning, completion, and effective maintenance.
Ideal gift for students
One has to think twice before giving a good gift to a student. Giving a book to a student is undoubtedly praiseworthy work. But selecting a good book from a bookstall or market is difficult. The purpose of giving a book is fulfilled when a good book is handed over to a student and read by him. Students are generally fond of books. They get inspired by reading about being successful in life. Good books work as a source of inspiration and a mentor to them. Two such Assamese books are 'Moro Eta Xapon Ase' by Dr. Rubul Maut and 'Bakul Phular Dore' by Dr. Mrinal Kalita. Both books have hit the market and received admiration from the readers. These two popular books have encouraged a number of students to study hard and pursue their dreams in life. Both books carry stories of struggle in the educational journey and success at last. These types of books can be said to be ideal gifts for students.
Kulendra Nath Deka,