Indian airport protesters block woman activist’s plan to enter hill temple

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Trupthi Desai (R), Indian radical Hindu gender equality activist stands with her colleagues as they are prevented to go out while a crowd of protestors shout slogans at Kochi International Airport on November 16, 2018. (AFP)
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Hindu activists protest as activist Trupthi Desai (unseen) arrives at Cochin International Airport on November 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2018

Indian airport protesters block woman activist’s plan to enter hill temple

  • Thousands of demonstrators have protested against the Supreme Court’s decision, and conservative Hindu groups prevented about a dozen young women from entering the temple last month
  • “Desai has come as an activist. She has come to create trouble at Sabarimala. We will not allow this,” said 55-year-old Rajeswari Amma, a worshipper of the Sabarimala

KOCHI/NEW DELHI: Thousands of protesters blocked all the exits at a southern Indian airport for more than 14 hours on Friday, stopping a rights activist from heading to a Hindu temple to defy a centuries-old ban on most women entering.
Campaigner Trupti Desai said she had decided to retreat for now to avoid a confrontation, but promised to return to Kerala unannounced in her next attempt.
Widespread protests broke out in the state after India’s top court ordered authorities in September to lift a ban on women or girls aged between 10 and 50 from entering the temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year.
Conservative Hindu groups say the restriction is meant to bar girls and women who might be menstruating, which they say would defile the temple’s inner shrine.
Desai arrived with a group of women at Kerala’s biggest and busiest airport in the city of Kochi, at 4.30 a.m. (2230 GMT Thursday) and said she planned make the 155km (100-mile) journey to the Sabarimala hill temple and enter it on Saturday.
But protesters massed around the exits and police advised her group not to try to get through because of safety concerns.
“We are returning not because we are afraid, but because the police advised us that the situation could spiral into a deeper law and order situation. We do not want to create that,” Desai told reporters.
“We booked taxis three or four times, but drivers said they were threatened their vehicles would be vandalized if they offer us a ride,” she said.

“RIGHT TO PRAY“
Hotels had also been reluctant to offer rooms because they feared they would be attacked, she added. “This kind of bullying and hooliganism are unacceptable,” Desai told Reuters.
Desai has led a successful campaign to give women the right to enter the inner sanctums of three temples in the western state of Maharashtra under the slogan “Right to Pray.”
“Desai has come as an activist. She has come to create trouble at Sabarimala. We will not allow this,” said 55-year-old Rajeswari Amma, a worshipper of the Sabarimala deity from Aluva, about 12km (7.5 miles) from the airport.
Thousands of demonstrators have protested against the Supreme Court’s decision, and conservative Hindu groups prevented about a dozen young women from entering the temple last month.
The court has set Jan. 22 to hear nearly 50 petitions seeking reimposition of the ban. Until then, its earlier ruling allowing women entry stays in force, it said.
As a result, the state government, run by the Communist Party of India, and legally bound to follow the court, finds itself at loggerheads with devotees and opposition parties who want the ban to continue until the court review.
The temple administration plans to file a petition with the top court requesting more time to implement its order, Travancore Devaswom Board president A. Padmakumar told reporters.
The hillside temple, nestled in a forest in the Western Ghats mountain range, reopened at 5 p.m. (1130 GMT) on Friday and will remain open for more than two months, with a three-day break in December. (Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Martin Howell and Andrew Heavens)


Malaysian fish farm aims to dip into $1.64bn global caviar market

Updated 7 min 2 sec ago

Malaysian fish farm aims to dip into $1.64bn global caviar market

  • Owners of luxury T’lur Caviar brand ‘accidentally’ stumbled upon prized delicacy
  • alaysia does not have a proper winter, sturgeon can be harvested there 50 percent faster than globally

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian fish farming business is hoping to dip into the multibillion-dollar global market for caviar after accidentally stumbling into producing the gourmet delicacy.

When Taiwanese entrepreneur Chien Wei Ho, one of the owners of the T’lur Caviar brand, first started harvesting sturgeon in Malaysia, he never expected to end up in the lucrative caviar trade.

Wei Ho and his group of Malaysian sturgeon farmers were based in a country not best-suited for harvesting caviar, mainly due to a lack of technological support and unfavorable weather conditions.

It was only after 10 years of sturgeon farming that the business partners “accidentally” discovered the “gold mine” after one of the fish had to be euthanized. When they cut it open, its egg sack was full of caviar.

“He (Wei Ho) was taken aback. For many years he had been told the fish could not have caviars,” Shaun Kenneth Simon, T’lur’s chief marketing officer told Arab News.

A company director came up with the idea to “market the caviars instead of just selling fish,” and before long they were swimming against the tide cultivating the prized delicacy for Malaysian clients.

“What we are doing here is very different from other countries. We discovered the caviars by chance,” said Simon.

He said that 12 years ago, Wei Ho – who also owns several resorts in Taiwan – was cultivating fish and flower farms and was well-known for growing beautiful orchids. “Rearing sturgeon was just a hobby for him.”

However, when a typhoon struck Taiwan and destroyed all his farms, Wei Ho decided to look for a safer place to operate from.

“Through his friends, he came to Tanjung Malim, in Perak, where he decided to dabble in the sturgeon farm business in Malaysia,” Simon said.

Malaysia was the obvious choice, he added, especially since it was rarely impacted by natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.

Nevertheless, big challenges were in store for Wei Ho. Experts, including a German aquaculture specialist, warned that the fish would probably not live past three years old, let alone lay eggs.

“Malaysia has a warm tropical climate and without any expensive, climate-controlled machinery to keep the water cool, many advised Wei Ho that the fish would not survive,” Simon added.

To overcome the hurdle, Wei Ho used local aquaculture techniques to acclimatize the sturgeon to Malaysia’s climate. “Basically, we taught the fish how to survive in Malaysia’s temperature.”

The process worked, but Wei Ho had only planned to rear and sell the fish, not harvest caviar.

Sturgeon have a lucrative market potential because they are high in collagen and rich in omega oils. Because Malaysia does not have a proper winter, sturgeon can be harvested there 50 percent faster than anywhere else in the world.

Seven species are reared on the farm, but the ones used for caviar are Siberian and Amur.

The brand name T’lur also came about by chance. “Because international brands have cool names, we thought ‘why not call it telur?’ which means eggs in Malay language. And because we were all Malaysians, we put an apostrophe in the word to make it sound French,” Simon said.

Currently, T’lur caviar is marketed only in Malaysia despite growing demand from neighboring countries, but the company is planning to go global. Most of its customers are chefs from fine-dining city restaurants.

“We are bringing something new to Malaysia, which is not really known for producing luxury products. We are learning to refine this further to bring it to a higher standard,” he added.

Caviar is a high-end luxury delicacy that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per kilogram. One of the most expensive in the luxury market is beluga caviar, mainly found in the world’s largest salt-water lake, the Caspian Sea.

With an insatiable appetite for fish eggs from several countries around the world, the market for the product is expected to be worth $1.64 billion (SR6.11 billion) by 2025, according to a survey conducted by Adroit Market Research.

The study revealed that greater access to international cuisine, along with stronger purchasing powers, had seen demand soar.