Bird flu pours new misery on Dutch poultry farmers

This file photo taken on January 6, 2017 shows a duck farmer driving birds out of an enclosure as he prepares to slaughter a portion of his 32,000 ducks, in Belloc-Saint-Clamens, southwestern France during the first wave of a mass bird slaughter after the detection of bird flu. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2017

Bird flu pours new misery on Dutch poultry farmers

THE HAGUE: Dutch poultry farmers, already left reeling by a contaminated egg scandal, were in a new flap Friday over an outbreak of bird flu with thousands of hens to be destroyed.
“An outbreak of a variant of H5 bird flu has been detected in a poultry farm in Zeeland province,” Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said.
All 42,000 egg-laying hens in the southern Netherlands farm will have to be culled “to stop the disease spreading” in accordance with European regulations, he added in a statement.
“A mild pathogenic variant of H5 can mutuate into a very contagious and deadly strain for chickens, therefore in all such cases the animals have to be put down.”
The ministry also ordered an immediate ban on the transportation of poultry, eggs, meat and manure within a one kilometer (half mile) zone around the farm located in the village of Sint Philipsland, although there are no other poultry farms in the area.
It is a new blow for the Dutch poultry industry which since August has been at the center of a tainted egg scandal that spread across several European countries and even as far as Hong Kong.
Millions of eggs were dumped, and some 3.2 million chickens were killed after the banned insecticide fipronil was found to have been used in poultry farms to combat lice, but had made its way into eggs.
Some 267 Dutch poultry farms are still closed, awaiting the all-clear from health officials to resume production.


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 24 January 2020

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”