Tea to be national drink
The country is to declare tea as its national drink to celebrate the life of a pioneering tea-planter who was hanged by British colonial rulers for taking part in the rebellion of 1857. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday announced the decision while on a visit to Assam, the tea-producing northeastern state that borders on Bhutan and Bangladesh. Assam was the home state of Maniram Dewan, who is celebrated for introducing commercial tea production to the region and for his role in a plot to throw the British out of Assam during the 1857 mutiny. The uprising, which is often called the Sepoy Mutiny, started in Meerut, a city close to New Delhi, and spread across the north before being brutally crushed by British forces with many Indian soldiers and civilians killed. “The drink would be accorded national drink status by April 17 next year to coincide with the 212th birth anniversary of first Assamese tea-planter and Sepoy Mutiny leader Maniram Dewan,” Ahluwalia said. He added that tea should also be celebrated as “half of the tea industry labor comprises women and is the largest employer in the organized sector.”
Mayor torches factory
A mayor in the north has been arrested on suspicion of ordering the torching of a factory that made gelatin capsules illegally from industrial waste. State broadcaster CCTV said yesterday that Song Jiangxin had been found to have made a telephone call ordering that the factory in Hebei Province be set ablaze and all records destroyed. Song’s brother owns the factory. The scandal is the latest to rock the country’s pharmaceutical industry, which sufferers from abundant fakery and substandard ingredients. Another 23 people in the east have also been arrested on suspicion of using the Hebei factory’s capsules, which contain dangerous levels of the chemical chromium.
French official kidnapped
A French official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was kidnapped by armed men on Saturday while traveling from the north to the Red Sea port city of Hudaida, the ICRC said. Dibeh Fakhr, an ICRC spokeswoman in Sana’a, said the man who works in the northern city of Saada was kidnapped late on Saturday about 30km from Hudaida. “He was with two Yemeni drivers who the kidnappers released shortly afterward,” Fakhr said. “Until now we have no contact with the kidnappers or our employee.” It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the kidnapping, but seizing foreigners or Yemenis is common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, and most hostages are freed unharmed.
A South Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) athlete member and lawmaker-elect has reportedly quit his political party over plagiarism allegations. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that Moon Dae-sung, a gold medalist in taekwondo, left the ruling conservative party on Friday after his university said much of his doctoral thesis plagiarized another person’s work. The 36-year-old Moon was quoted as saying he was sorry for “causing trouble.” He won his first parliamentary seat in recent elections. Moon is not the only IOC member to come under fire for alleged academic cheating. Pal Schmitt resigned as Hungarian president during a plagiarism scandal earlier this month.