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Bus runs over two, set on fire

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KOLKATA: A four-year-old and his grandmother became the latest victims of road rage in Madhyamgram on Wednesday . The duo was crushed to death by a private bus while it was trying to overtake another. A mob set the killer bus on fire after the accident.

According to witnesses, the errant driver started driving while the victims were still trying to board it.They fell off and came under the wheel.

Angry locals also put up a road block on Badu Road for over two hours to protest against the accident demanding immediate arrest of the driver. A large contingent of police rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control. Two fire engines were also pressed into service to douse the flames.

No one has been arrested in this connection yet.

Police said the accident happened around 10am in Digberia when Jahanara Bibi, her daughter Taklima Khatun and grandson Raja Hossain, residents of Tentultala, were boarding the Shyamazar-Kharibari bus.

“The elderly woman and her grandson were still on the footboard when the bus suddenly accelerated.She lost her footing and fell along with the boy . The driver kept moving ignoring the alarm raised by bystanders,” said Subrata Sashmal, a local.

Locals rushed the duo to Madhyangram Gramin Hospital, where they were declared brought dead.

A mob chased the bus for over half a kilometer, after which the driver, helper and the conductor managed to flee.

Agitators initially refused to allow the cops to take the victims’ bodies for postmortem. They were also trying to prevent the fire brigade officials from dousing the flames.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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Jamiat leaders eye poll alliance with Mamata

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KOLKATA: Those who clashed with police at Red Road and forced President Pranab Mukherjee to change his route a year ago will be marching to Sahid Minar on Thursday . But this time they will have CM Mamata Banerjee on dais as chief guest.

Mamata is likely to join midway through the event where Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind leaders Qari Usman, Siddiqullah Chowdhury and Deoband University VC are among the speakers. They want to come closer to Mamata against the “growing intolerance” in the country .

Jamiat leaders seized the opportunity to invite Mamata after months of backroom parleys beginning with Chowdhury calling on the CM a few months ago. He had dropped hints of an alliance with Trinamool in the coming assembly polls. Mamata also wanted to build bridges with Chowdhury because she can checkmate some smaller outfits planning to cash in on the disenchantment among a section of Muslims. Trinamool is also in touch with Abdur Rezzak Molla’s Nyay Bichar Party though he is yet to seal the deal.

Opposition parties are, however. yet to begin the exercise. A section of Congress and Left leaders are keen to come together against Trinamool, but some Congressmen would like seat adjustments with Trinamool, instead of going with the Left.PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury refuses to commit anything, saying: “People may choose to back the strongest Opposition candidate if they want. Parties have nothing to say . People resorted to such tactical voting earlier and may even do so this time.There has been no progress on alliance.”

Left parties, on the hand, do not see beyond the Left bloc for the moment. CPM leaders are busy activating cadres at the grassroots realizing that no party will join hands unless the Left has the potential of winning a sizeable number of seats. Senior CPM leaders have chosen to take to the streets while individual Left leaders are reaching out to social programmes by Muslim organisations.

Trinamool is much ahead when it comes to backroom parleys, led by Abhishek Banerjee, Firhad Hakim and Sultan Ahmed. The focus is to offset anti-incumbency and narrow down the scope for the proposed Nationalist Trinamul Congress to gain friends. Trinamool insiders fear that such a combination might emerge as a spoilsport in certain assembly constituencies, capitalising on the internal feud within Trinamool. Chowdhury could be a good add-on to the Trinamool votebank.

Traffic trouble

Motorists should avoid Jawaharlal Nehru Road, SN Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani and Central Avenue after noon on Thursday.Many schools in these areas have decided to give off early.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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'Research can stem exodus'

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KOLKATA: A leading mathematician who did his schooling in Kolkata, PhD from University of California, Berkeley in the US and taught at the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University in Howrah’s Belur before recently moving to Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) says that it is a mistaken cultural stereotype to think that students in south India are better at mathematics than those in Bengal.

“In the National Board of Higher Mathematics PhD admission test, 50% students who win the fellowship are from the eastern zone, mostly Bengal.This has been so for the past decade or more. It is true that earlier, a large chunk of students came from Tamil Nadu but that is true no longer,” said Swami Vidyanathananda, also known as Mahan Maharaj, a professor at the School of Mathematics at TIFR, who was awarded the Infosys Prize 2015 for Mathematical Sciences. He was also awarded the prestigious Shan ti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Mathematical Sciences in 2011.

According to him, the rea sons for revival of mathema tics in the country are varied First, India’s participation and good showing at the Math Olympiad has created excite ment about the subject among students. Secondly , students have been fortunate to get good math teachers at various insti tutes, such as Indian Statistica Institute, Chennai Mathemati cal Institute and IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kanpur.

“It is curious that a dispro portionately large number of these students hailed original ly from Bengal, though a sub stantial number pursue their careers outside Bengal. Bu states, such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, have been the focus of the IT boom and have witnessed a decline in the number of students pursuing research in mathematics,” the professor said. The abundance of private engineering and medical colleges in these parts has contributed to this, he said. “The colleges (engineering and medical) attract students in large numbers, leading to decline in students who take up fundamental science in general and mathematics in particular.”

French Jesuit Father Charles Racine reached India in 1937 as a missionary after having taken his doctorate in mathematics in 1934 under Elie Cartan and inspired many students at St Joseph’s College in Trichy and then Loyola College, Chennai. A promoter of modern mathematics, many students of Fr Racine, such as M S Raghunathan and C S Sheshadri, became famous mathematicians. After spending the initial years in Chennai, they moved to TIFR. Prof Seshadri returned in the 1980s to set up CMI that has evolved into a new institute of excellence. But West Bengal did not have as many engineering and medical colleges in the 1990s.

“Bengal is one of the few states where students continued to pursue fundamental science and have always been strong in theoretical physics.That trend started rubbing off on mathematics. After all, theoretical physics and mathematics are closely aligned. The reason is partly cultural. People in the state have always been interested in theory ,” said Mahan Maharaj.

Emphasizing the importance of quality teachers in producing mathematicians, the professor said students benefit when a teacher encourages them to explore beyond books.”The language of mathematics is one of reason. But the poem it constructs is something more–it holds the body of mathematics together cogently and in a unified way ,” he said.

He added it was only teachers actively engaged in research who can communicate this excitement of the subject.”It is a pity that this research orientation is now largely confined to the institutes in the country , while universities largely focus on teaching. This has led to university syllabi becoming dated. A more balanced approach, with more students getting trained, could be developed if there was greater focus on innovative thinking and research at the university level.The onus is on us teachers to ensure this comes through,” Mahan Maharaj concluded.

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Source: TOI-Kol

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