Tuesday, 6 December 2016

We’re from one African migration

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

Scientists from Harvard Medical School and the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, along with researchers across the globe, working on ‘The Simons Genome Diversity Project’ have found that all humans have evolved from a single population in Africa.

This social group of humans had migrated in a single exodus to different countries one lakh years ago. The initial fossil study by archaeologists that stated that social life existed only 50,000 years ago has now been corrected by genetic studies.

CCMB scientist Kumaraswamy Thangaraj, considered to be the country’s top population geneticist, and Prof. Lalji Singh were part of the team that sequenced 300 genomes from 142 ethnic populations including the Andamans and a few samples from South India.

CCMB provided genome data
HMS researchers found that the ancestors of modern humans began to differentiate about two lakh years ago, long before the migrating out of Africa. Science journal Nature published the findings online recently, it will come into print next week.

When contacted, Dr Thangaraj said, “We have contributed to the study through the Andamanic genome sequencing which we have been working on. Similarly, several scientists from many countries worked on it and the study is a combination of all this. Throughout the world 300 individual genomes were studied to arrive at a conclusion that humans started out of Africa 100,000 years ago. More details will be revealed in the print.”

New York-based Simon Foundation has announced on its website that the Genome Diversity Project reveals faster accumulation of mutations in non-Africans.

“Analysing genomes from 300 individuals from 142 populations, an international team of scientists has produced an unprecedentedly high-resolution picture of human diversity. With the data, the scientists identified previously unknown features of human genome variation including a difference in the rate at which non-Africans and Africans have accumulated mutations,” stated the foundation on its website.

Mr David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, led the project. Mr Swapan Mallick, bio-informatic systems director in the Reich Labs, was first author of the study.

According to scientists, the idea that one or a few genetic changes had caused great changes in human behaviour as per archaeological records around 50,000 years ago was not consistent with their data.

The rapid transformations in the behavior of modern humans were probably driven by cultural innovations or exposure to new environments.

Daily Mail UK, quoting the HMS researchers, stated that scientists inferred that the population ancestral to all present-day humans began to develop substructure at least 200,000 years ago.

Ancestral findings
All populations of modern humans found outside of Africa stem from a single ancestral African population.

Evolution of tool-making, hunting, ornamentation and other cultural activities were probably not driven by changes to a single neuronal gene or even a handful of them.


By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

Kollur, known as the diamond belt of Andhra Pradesh, has been submerged by the backwaters of the Pulichintala project.

Locals were evacuated after the backwaters submerged many of the villages in both states. “All fields around Kollur have been submerged for the first time. The village, which is at an elevated level, is yet to go under water. Several villages on either side in Guntur and Nalgonda districts are submerged," said Mr G Prasad, assistant engineer, Dr K.L. Rao Sagar, Pulichintala project.

Pulichintala and Gollapalli villages were also submerged. Till recently diamond miners from other states including Gujarat had camped at Kollur.

A total of 26,521 acres including 12,554 in Guntur and 13,966 in Nalgonda have been submerged by the backwaters; the land has been acquired by the respective governments.

According to Ms Pushpa Sambi Reddy, an expert on the history of diamond mining in these parts, 38 diamond mines existed in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.

Twenty world famous diamonds were mined from the Kollur-Paritala zone of Guntur and Krishna districts in Andhra Pradesh (popularly called Golconda diamonds). Most of these mines were active till 1830 but were gradually abandoned

Monday, 5 December 2016

5 Hyderabadi wanted suspects hiding in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

Five Hyderabadi terror suspects against whom Interpol red corner notices are pending and are wanted by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a terror conspiracy case linked to Bengaluru are suspected to be hiding in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and actively involved in reviving the terror networks. They are also wanted in other terror cases in Hyderabad and Gujarat.

The NIA charge-sheets states that the conspiracy case investigation revealed that the network of terrorists is based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Their associates in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra hatched a plan to kill prominent right wing politicians, police officers and journalists in Bengaluru, Hubli, Hyderabad and Nanded.

Magsaysay winner Bezwada Wilson smashed manual scavenging

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

National Convener of Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), Mr Bezwada Wilson, conferred the Ramon Magsaysay award on Wednesday for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity,” worked extensively in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to eradicate manual scavenging. Thanks to SKA’s efforts many people were liberated from the banned task of cleaning dry latrines by carrying night soil away.

Speaking to this newspaper Mr Wilson credited the award to the “thousands of women who courageously threw their basket of caste slavery." “The credit and honour exclusively goes to these women and then to the team of the committee of Safai Karmachari Andolan. I am just an instrument,” he said. The Safai Karmchari Andolan was started in 1995 by the children of those engaged in manual scavenging and spread to over 25 states. Mr Wilson took up the Bhim Yatra in AP and Karnataka with the slogan ‘Leave the Broom, Take the Pen’ and youth of the community got inspired by this.

Regarding the situation of manual scavenging in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Mr Wilson said “We have demolished several dry latrines. The government also took a stand. However in Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur districts dry latrines still exist and the community is still working as manual scavengers. Dry latrines exist in Telangana, too, but less in number. In both the states the problem of manual cleaning of sewer lines and septic tanks is severe and need to be addressed to. Last year we launched a movement with karyakarthas in AP and Telangana. In six months we are expecting some results. There were several deaths during the manual cleaning of sceptic tanks, reported in AP and Telangana, where we have fought for compensation.”

Mr Wilson hails from the same community and witnessed his parents and grandparents having to do manual scavenging. The Ramon Magsaysay citation for Mr Wilson reads: “Fifty years old, Bezwada Wilson has spent 32 years on his crusade, leading not only with a sense of moral outrage but also with remarkable skills in mass organising, and working within India’s complex legal system. SKA has grown into a network of 7,000 members in 500 districts across the country. Of the estimated 600,000 scavengers in India, SKA has liberated around 300,000. While Bezwada has placed at the core of his work the dalits’ self-emancipation, he stresses that manual scavenging is not a sectarian problem.”

Mr Wilson was born in Kolar, Karnataka. His grandparents lived in Hyderabad. His surname comes from Vijayawada, which is known as Bezawada. He did his schooling in Kuppam of Chittoor district. Mr Wilson said his forefathers lived in Nellore and Prakasam districts and migrated to Karnataka. “I was born in Kolar and did my primary schooling there. From Class 5 to 10, I studied in Kuppam and shifted to Hyderabad,” he said. In Hyderabad, he completed his graduation in political science, public administration and sociology through correspondence from the Dr B R Ambedkar Open University.

Mr Wilson worked with retired IAS official, the late S.R. Sankaran, till 2010.  Sankaran was known for his work for the uplift of the downtrodden. “I first met S.R. Sankaran in 1992 after his retirement. I requested him to be president of the Safai Karmachari Andolan. He said he would be with us. Till his last breath he was part of the andolan,” he said. National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights General Secretary, Paul Diwakar, who is part of the team at Safia Karmachari Andolan and worked with Mr Wilson said, “This is really a great recognition for the work done by Wilson. After so many years the issue has been recognised by the broader society. Right from his school days he was involved in this movement. In 1988 we had initiated this movement and he led it wonderfully.”

Mr Diwakar said “The highlight of the movement is that he bought all community leaders on one platform where they turned into defenders of the human rights of their people, challenging the system. Their parents migrated to Kolar to find employment but they are forced to do the same task in Karnataka too.” Mr Wilson was one of two Indians, the other being Carnatic singer T.M. Krishna, 40, of Tamil Nadu, chosen for the award for “showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society itself.”

Bhatkal man funded city ISIS cell

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

The National Investigation Agency’s chargesheet filed on Monday against three ISIS operatives from Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Maharashtra has revealed that the Hyderabad module of the ISIS was funded by Adnan Hassan, a native of Bhatkal in Karnataka.

The NIA stated in the chargesheet that money had been sent from the United Arab Emirates to India, Tunisia and the Philippines. Hassan funded Hyderabadi youth who tried to flee India to Syria.

The three accused, who were arrested in early 2016 were identified as Sheik Azhar Ul Islam, 24, from Ganderbal in Jammu and Kashmir, Adnan Hassan, 36, from Bhatkal in Karnataka and Mohammed Farhan Shaik, 25, from Mubra in Maharashtra.

They were arrested by the NIA for their involvement in promoting ISIS ideology, inciting others to become members of the ISIS and indulging in terrorist and antinational activities using social media communication apps.