Witch craft- a myth or an outcome of poverty

by Bidhata Rai

Goma Devi Khatri, 75, lives in Bijulikot in Ramechhap district in Nepal. Her husband married a second wife, Methimaya 22 years ago but she continued living with the family as an outcast.

Since then, her life has been miserable. Her family who accuses her of practising witchcraft batters her almost every now and then.

She said her husband Jagat Bahadur Khatri, his second wife and father-in-law Pahalman beat her up and called her a witch.

“My husband, after his second marriage, along with others of the family, have been torturing me, calling me a witch for the past 22 years,” said Goma according to the Himalayan Times.

Two decades of agony

Witch has become a connotation of an old unwanted woman in Nepal where the tradition dates back to many years. Lack of education and poor financial condition continue to give continuity to this age-old tradition.

According to the victim, she was usually beaten thrice every month.

The latest beating, however, rendered her unconscious and she sustained injuries to her head and back.

After years of being mistreated by the family she could no longer bear the agony and filed an appeal in the District Administration Office (DAO) of Ramechhap seeking justice.

She reached the DAO without eating anything for two days for lack of money.

“They entered my room and took away goods and edibles though I have been living separately for over two decades,” she said.

Her husband and his second wife attempted to make her eat human faeces calling her a witch lamented Goma. She says the neighbours have followed suit and everyone in the village thinks she’s witch.

“I had to spend several nights in the forest in the past as Jagat and Methimaya forced me to leave the house,” said Goma.

Burden or witch

Jagat Bahadur Khatri has to look after the entire family and Goma became a burden soon after his second marriage.

His once wife became a witch or rather a burden for him and his family.

At 75 Goma braved the society and is seeking justice.

“We will probe into the incident and take necessary action,” said Chief District Officer Jitendra Bahadur Bhandari.

The trial continues.

Tesco to ban shoppers below 25 from buying alcohol

By Bidhata Rai

It’s always good having an identity card with you as things might turn nasty anytime and anywhere. Don’t forget to leave home without it, especially if you are heading towards supermarket outlets for a bottle or two of wine or whisky.

Tesco decides to impose a ban on the under 25s from purchasing alcohol starting May. A number of stores already challenge shoppers who look under 25, including ASDA and Morrisons.

Marks & Spencer will apply the checks from April 12 according to Mail Online.

This is a step taken in the aftermath of a landmark prosecution under new laws designed to stop the sale of alcohol to children and tame violence and vandalism.

Tesco is the first supermarket to be brought to books for selling alcohol to children under new laws.

Fine

Tesco was fined £600 and ordered to pay £250 costs after the Blackpool store admitted it has sold alcohol to children in no more that three occasions.

Following this, Tesco announced that it will impose a “challenge 25” policy nationally putting a ban on under 25s from purchasing alcohol from any of its stores.

Having been the first supermarket to be prosecuted under the Violent Crime Reduction Act, staff of Britain’s biggest supermarket store, Tesco will put tougher checks on under aged shoppers.

Tesco has 360 stores with 24 hours licenses and another 325 which can sell alcohol through day until midnight.

Binge drinkers

Britain’s teenagers are among the worst binge drinkers in the world. According to the BBC, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs found that 61% if the teenagers drink in excess.

“Increasing the cost of alcohol is something being considered by the UK government. There is very significant evidence that suggests if you increase the price of alcohol consumptions will go down in the general population, and that will impact on young people,” says Thea Ozenturk, head of the Manx alcohol advisory service to the BBC. 

Sainsbury’s continues to beat recession

 by Bidhata Rai

Sainsbury’s continues to out perform its bigger rival Tesco despite the economic downturn. The third largest supermarket group saw the biggest quarterly sales rise for two and half years.

Sales went up by 6.2 percent, excluding fuel in the 11 weeks to 21 March up from 4.5 in the previous quarter.

Campaigns like the “Switch and Save”, “feed your family for a fiver” have managed to attract low budget customers to buy its “basics” range as well as cheaper cuts of meat and comfort foods.

Reports suggest that its “basics” tomatoes, peppers, bananas, strawberries, butter, beef mince; chicken and salmon fillets are the items most sold.

Sales of the “basics” items rose more than 60 percent.

 “We are perceived to be more expensive than we are. We think customers shopping around are beginning to see the reality of our prices,” says Justin King, the chief executive according to the Scotsman.

Guardian reports that it said its participation in the Comic Relief charity day on 13 March had also boosted turnover.

Strategy in the card

Sainsbury’s is preparing a strategy to stretch the supermarket chain by a further 10 in Scotland in 2009-10. Scotland currently has 22 in the north of the border. It recently bought 5 supermarkets from the Co-op in Scotland. It plans to open up stores in Nairn, Armadale, Crieff and Irvine.

“This would create 200 new management and store jobs in Scotland,” said a spokesman to the Scotsman.

Despite managing to beat the recession, Mr. King told the BBC that the economic environment remained “particularly challenging”.

“We expect the current economic environment to remain challenging but our focus on delivering universal appeal through great products at fair prices means we are well positioned to continue our good progress,” said King to Guardian.

Sainsbury’s has 509 supermarket, 276 smaller convenience store outlets and employs 150,000 people.

The shares edged down 1p, to 329.75p today.

 

 

Meet your match online-Spend Less

by Bidhata Rai

Online Dating (match.com)The free dating business is doing well in the recession unlike many other businesses, especially internet dating.

Dating can be expensive and time consuming too but dating online is comparatively much cheaper or rather free in many instances.

“Dating has cost me a lot over the past couple of years and now I want to meet my match without spending much. Recently I have tried visiting a few free online dating sites and I find it interesting,” said Nishal Rana, 29, as I interviewed him.

There are scores of free Internet dating options and the number of people visiting these websites has gone up in the current economic downturn.

Dating services can cost lots of money, but finding a mate online can be free. You might have to spend a few pounds but you definitely spend less.

Revolution

“Online dating is revolutionising the way people meet each other and switching the computer on could be the first step to success,” says Jess Ross, editor of which.co.uk according to the Telegraph.

Match.com and Dating Direct were the most commonly used sites.

Usage of complimentary dating sites has gone up over 58 percent since November 2008 when people started to feel the effects of the credit crunch.

BBC reports that UK-based Internet dating agencies now have an estimated six million subscribers.

“During bad economic times, people generally like to reprioritize their goals and, as a result, relationships move up on their list,” said Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating to which.co.uk.

“The trend makes sense,” he added.

Free Dating Sites

Plentyoffish.com is one of the biggest free dating sites, recently hitting a million users in one day.

See our list for more dating sites and you could be on your way to a love match. All you need to do is sit in front of your computer and surf.

China- The Growth Engine of the World?

By Bidhata Rai

The Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that China’s export-driven economy could still target 8% economic growth in 2009 despite the global meltdown.

“We are fully confident that we will overcome difficulties and challenges, and we have the conditions and ability to do so,” said Wen according to BBC.

In his report on Thursday, BBC’s business editor Robert Peston said that unlike most other countries’ economies, China’s economy is still increasing though not like the way it used to.

It is one of the 5 biggest economies in the world that has managed to avoid recession and is free from debts. However, public sector borrowing could increase to a record 1 billion pound which is 3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

South China is the epicentre for low cost factories where 20 million rural migrants have lost their jobs in recent months.

Those still in service are being paid much less than the minimum wage. Fearing facing social unrest, the Chinese government has promised to create 9 million jobs to cater to its millions of population in rural areas.

Recession in China

After 31 years of rapid economic growth, the global downturn is taking its toll on China curtailing it slowing from boom to a possible bust.

As the economic recession is tightening its belt on global economy, the United States and Europe is feeling the crunch to the maximum.

Consumer demand has plummeted in these economies and it is having a rippling effect on many of Asia’s export-dependent economies which have been hit especially hard by the worldwide financial meltdown.

The US Federal Reserve has said that the economic activity “deteriorated further” in February, citing weak consumer spending, tight credit and decreased factory output.

This has put China and other Asian economies in jeopardy. The GDP growth rate has slipped in almost all Asian countries.

The US economy shrank by 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and some analysts say that the figure could be even worse in the first quarter of this year.

Investment cuts

According to a data released on Thursday, companies in China are massively cutting investment to cope with the exports plunge. In January alone, export went down by more than 45 percent and industrial output slashed by a record 10 percent.

Asian stocks gained for a second day on Thursday after China’s Premier Wen Jiabao said the country’s economic target for this year is within reach.

But, BBC reports that Asian stocks fell today (Friday) following disappointment that China did not unveil new stimulus measures and fears that General Motors might not survive.

Japan’s Nikkei index dropped 3.5%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.3%.

South Korea’s Kopsi index recovered from falling as much as 2% during the day to close down only 0.3%.

The Sensex in Mumbai also recovered from a 1.8% early drop to trade up 0.3%.

The world is turning towards China for economic support. If the growth engine of the world can come back to life again by increasing its GDP, then there are hopes that it could lead the way to global economic recovery. 

 

 

Rental Market Thrives Well in Downturn

by Bidhata Rai

A subdivision of development onlookers seem to take an odd sort of glee whenever the market falters.

Cash strapped consumers seek for cost-effective substitutes for high street spending and are turning towards the rental market.

A new generation of rental companies is emerging in the downtown to take advantage of the government backed bank loans. The economic gloom has paradoxically contributed to the glory of the rental markets.

“We are going into the recession with quite a wide choice of value retailers, but when it comes to more expensive products, perhaps we are thinking more about renting,” said Maureen Hinton of Verdict Research, according to the Financial Times.

“It a great idea to be able to rent things for as long as I want and then to get another after I’ve had enough of it. You can’t do that with something you buy,” says Zina Gurung, 56.

Internet sites boost demand

The internet has made life cheerful by making renting just about everything from televisions to furniture and jewellery much easier.

Not just stationary commodities, but you can also rent pets through the internet. Erento, an online renting marketplace for niche lending services, which offers from holiday homes to cameras made a profit of 92 percent in January alone.

“The credit crisis is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Erento,” said Clinton Patterson, its director of international operation reports FT.

All this leads us to contemplate that people prioritise cash and veer towards more rentals as times get tougher.

A market research group, GfK has recorded a leap in rented television in the total TV market from 2 per cent in 2004-05 to 9 per cent in 2008.

Zilok, a French site, launched in UK in 2007, plans to accelerate its international expansion in response to the opportunities flourishing during the economic downtown. Zilok does for rentals what Ebay does for person-to-person selling.

Growing profits

Handbag Hire HQ (online handbag rental business), DIY products (dealing with construction equipments), Hire station (rents tools to businesses and consumers), Brighthouse (rents household goods), and car clubs all saw a huge growth in their profits in the current economic gloom.

Games consoles, party dresses and baby equipment are the most popular items rented.

While other sectors deteriorate in market value, rental business continues to thrive well during the recession.

Even if rental rates slip amid increased competition, the growing population will make the community as a whole stronger.

Free food for body and spirit at Jalaram Temple

by Bidhata Rai

The Jalaram Jupdi Virpur Temple in Stains Road at Hounslow West offers free meals to both devotees and non-believers everyday.

“The free meals have whetted my appetite for the religion and I visit the temple almost everyday”, says 43 year old Sangita Basnet, who’s a regular at the temple.

Ashok Bhatt, 50, the priest at the temple told me that the place becomes crowded from 1 to 2:30 pm when free meals are distributed.

The temple was first established in 1990 at Norwood Green School under Shree Jalaram Seva Trust. It started the trend 9 years ago and has seen the number of devotees increase since then. The free meals have become the temple’s trademark.

What’s the key ingredient in the successful running of the site, which offers free lunches to the community? Is it the spiritual devotion or is it the free meals?

Many of the people I spoke to admitted that they go to the temple for the dual purpose.

Other activities

The members of the temple celebrate each festival enthusiastically.

Every Hindu festival is marked with “bhajans” or Hindu traditional songs during which time devotees throng the temple. No one who enters the temple leaves without having a free meal.

From strip club to sacred place

“The building used to be an extension of a pub, where strippers performed. It’s a lot more respectable now”, said Mr. Mahendra Gokani, chairman of the temple’s Trust.

The different usage of the space has given the site a religious fervour. Where people visited the place for alcohol and other entertainment purposes before, they now come for food and prayer.

According to Gokani, devotees hand in around £30,000 annually to the Trust which manages the site.

“Our service is the same but devotees make less offerings now than before,” said Gokani.