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Vol : 05 : #60 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

China has deployed me to crush

Baloch movement : Pak general

New Delhi : Major General Ayman

Bilal of the Pakistan Army has confessed

to China's role and support in

his deployment in Balochistan,

Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Sun has

reported. "China has deployed me here

to crush the Baloch movement and has

given me a six-month task," Maj Gen

Bilal said.

"If the threat of FATF is averted, we

will go inside Iran and take action.

Iran is the biggest enemy of Pakistan

which has a direct hand in the instability

of Balochistan," said new IG FC

South Balochistan, Major General

Bilal at a special 'jirga' (meeting) at FC

headquarters in Turbat with few notables

including local agents of FC and

intelligence agencies.

As per the report, Major General

Bilal stationed in Ketch District has

openly admitted to China's role in his

deployment and assistance and other

important matters.

In this special 'jirga' session of FC,

Raheema Jalal, sister of Federal

Minister for Defence Production

Zubeida Jalal, Sardar Aziz, head of

state formed death squad from

Pedarak, Yasir Bahram, head of state

death squad Nagor Dasht, Hasil

Kolwahi and heads of armed groups

who are working on state parole from

Tump, Mand, Buleda, Zamuran, Dasht

Singhu border turns impregnable

fortress after FRESH CLASH

New Delhi : The Singhu

border in Delhi, one of the

major sites of the ongoing

farmers' agitation, resembled

an impregnable fortress on

Sunday with a massive presence

of security personnel.

The heavy security deployment

has come in the backdrop

of violent clashes between

locals and protesting farmers

on Friday in which several people,

including a police officer,

were left injured.

Even as the farmers are

camping along the borders of

Delhi -- at Singhu, Tikri and

Ghazipur, demanding repeal of

the Centre's newly-passed farm

laws for over two months, the

scenario has changed drastically

in the last few days.

After Friday's violence, several

restrictive measures have

been introduced. The general

public is no more allowed to

come close to the protest sites.

The vehicles are being

diverted by the police around 1-

2 kms from the protest site at

Singhu border. Earlier, the

diversion happened about 400

metres from the protest site.

Delhi Police, along with

and Hoshap were also present.

Maj Gen Bilal, while admitting in

the 'jirga', said with concern that he

had been posted by China in

Balochistan based on his 30 years of

service experience at a hefty salary

paramilitary forces and ITBP

personnel have been deployed

at the border exit point.

Besides, people can now move

towards Haryana from Delhi

only through the routes designated

by the police.

Identity is being checked at

around 10 places on the border

areas, apart from routine questioning

by the police at the barricaded

points. Drones have

also been pressed into service

in the area and at the same time,

videography is also being done

by the police. The overall situation

on Singhu border has

changed after the January 26

violence during the farmers'

tractor rally, and more so after

the clash on Friday, and the

blast near the Israeli Embassy.

Now police are maintaining a

strict vigil. Also, internet services

have been temporarily

snapped along the border areas

as a preventive measure against

rumours and misinformation.

Gurugram :

Haryana Bharatiya

Kisan Union (BKU)

chief Gurnam Singh

Chaduni on Sunday

visited the Gurugram's

protest site to extend

his support to the ongoing

farmers' agitation.

Addressing the protesters,

Chaduni said:

"Today the power is

vested in the capitalists

and so the new legislations

are being made to benefit

them." The BKU leader added

that the Centre has passed an

agri business law and not of

farming. "The central government

has no right to make farm

laws. The farmer's agitation

will not end till the three new

agriculture laws are repealed.

These farm legislations will

only benefit the capitalists,"

Chaduni said. Referring to the

Republic Day violence at the

and had only six months on the task to

"crush" the Baloch national struggle.

He said that he has extensive experience

of working in Balochistan for

the last 30 years and has worked in

Quetta, Sibi, Kolwah, Dera Bugti and

Red Fort during the farmers'

tractor parade in the national

capital, he alleged that the

insult to the tricolour on

January 26 was a government

sponsored incident.

"The Republic Day violence

was a conspiracy hatched by

the government to disrupt the

farmer's agitation, but despite

their effort the ploy was failed."

"At the Delhi borders it was

the government who had

Awaran.

"China has paid me a salary and a

large sum of money and officially

posted me here for their regional interests

and to thwart Iran's conspiracies

against CPEC, as it is a kind of investment

in regional interests," he said, as

per the report.

Bilal said that the end of the Baloch

movement and the success of CPEC is

very important for Pakistan and China.

"We have a good amount of money for

this task, so let us know how much

you need because we can't wait any

longer for Iran to create unrest in

Balochistan, conspire against CPEC

and stab us in the stomach in the name

of friendship," he is reported to have

said. Bilal further said that Iran is the

biggest enemy of Pakistan now. "The

threat of FATF is averted today, tomorrow

we will go inside Iran and teach

the Baloch separatists a lesson that

their future generations will remember.

At the moment we have the option

to take action within 25 kilometres of

the Iranian border and we will use this

option on time," he said.

Centre's new laws will only

benefit capitalists : Chaduni

launched a massive

crackdown on the agitating

farmers to disperse

them from the

sites. Capitalists will

gain from these new

farm laws, on the contrary,

the locals will

starve."

Gurugram Samyukt

Kisan Morcha (SKM)

president Chaudhary

Santokh Singh, while

addressing the protesting

farmers said that the government

wants to wriggle out of

crisis using various tactics.

He said that braving the biting

cold conditions, several

other workers from multiple

organisations have been in a

sit-in protest to lend their support

to the agitating farmers.

"SKM's aid to the farmers

will continue till the new farm

laws are repealed," Singh

added.


2

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

R-DAY VIOLENCE : 38 CASES,

84 arrests so far, raids in Jalandhar

New Delhi : After the violence that

broke out during the farmers' tractor

rally in the national capital on January

26, the Delhi Police have arrested 84

persons in various cases of rioting and

causing damage to public property,

besides registering 38 cases at different

police stations.

Multiple raids are being conducted

by the Delhi Police at various places in

Punjab and Haryana. On Saturday, the

Delhi Police conducted raids at different

places in Jalandhar in connection

with the vandalism at the Red Fort on

Republic Day.

Acting upon the information that

two persons -- Jugraj Singh and

Navpreet Singh of Tarn Taran -- had

hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag from the

ramparts of the Red Fort on January

26, the Delhi Police raided the Basti

Bawa Khel area of Jalandhar.

The police are also probing the role

of foreign organisations and individuals

in the violence that broke out in the

national capital on Republic Day, thus

widening the ambit of the probe.

After slapping sections of rioting,

criminal conspiracy and attempt to

murder on the rioters, the Delhi Police

have pressed more serious charges

such as the Unwlawful Activities

(Prevention) Act on the protesters

found involved in the violent protests.

Meanwhile, the Crime Branch of

the Delhi Police has reached out to the

people seeking evidence in the form of

mobile/video footage or recording

statements regarding the January 26

violence.

The police have also appealed to

the media to provide the investigating

agency the footages captured during

the violent protests on January 26.

At least nine farmer leaders have

been sent notices by the Crime Branch

in connection with the violence to join

investigation.

Japan's PM holds 1st phone

conversation with Biden

Tokyo : Japanese Prime

Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke

with new US President Joe

Biden over the phone on

Thursday, which was their first

conversation since the American

leader was inaugurated on

January 20.

In the talks that lasted about

30 minutes, the two leaders

affirmed the importance of

Japan-US alliance and discussed

the situation of North Korea as

well as Covid-19 response and

climate change, among other

issues, according to the Japanese

Foreign Ministry. During the

conversation, Suga welcomed

Biden's decisions to return to the

2015 Paris Agreement on curbing

carbon emissions and not to

withdraw from the World Health

Organization, Xinhua news

agency reported The Ministry

confirmed that Biden also invited

the Prime Minister to take

part in a summit on climate

change slated for April 22.

After the talks, Suga told

reporters: "I would like to deepen

my personal relationship with

President Biden and work to

strengthen the Japan-US

alliance." The Japanese leader

also said that he hopes to visit

the US as soon as possible amid

the challenges of containing the

Covid-19 pandemic.

The other foreign leaders

Biden spoke to following his

inauguration were the Prime

Ministers of Canada and the UK,

Justin Trudeau and Boris

Johnson, respectively.

Nepali climbers reach Kathmandu

after scaling K2 for 1st time

Kathmandu : A team of 10

Nepali climbers who recently

became the first to scale K2, the

second highest peak of the

world, during the winter season,

received a hero's welcome when

they arrived in Kathmandu on

Tuesday.

A total of 48 mountaineers

including five women reached

the mountain's base camp to

kick off the expedition on

December 29, 2020, out of

which five were injured and

many others returned due to

tough weather at the peak. The

team reached the summit on

January 16. Hundreds of people

gathered at the Tribhuvan

International Airport to cheer the

team and to celebrate their success,

reports The Himalayan

Times. After they reached the

capital city, the 10-member team

were felicitated at a function at

the Nepal Tourism Board at

Bhrikutimandap.

They were accompanied by a

motorcycle rally, according to

The Kathmandu Post newspaper.

The 8,611 metres-high K2 is

located on the China�Pakistan

border between in the Gilgit-

Baltistan region of northern

Pakistan, and Dafdar Township

in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous

County of Xinjiang, China.

It is the highest point of the

Karakoram mountain range and

the highest point in both

Pakistan and Xinjiang.

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

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No mandatory institutional quarantine

for UK travellers : Delhi govt

New Delhi : Travellers coming

from the UK to the national

capital will not have to undergo a

seven-day institutional and

seven-day home quarantine.

An official order on January

29 released by Delhi Chief

Secretary Vijay Dev said,"The

situation has now been reviewed

and considering low positivity

rate of UK returnees, it has been

decided that the additional measure

of compulsory institutional

quarantine of travellers testing

negative may not be furthermore

and the Delhi government may

align with Standard Operating

Procedure (SOP) issued by the

Government of India from timeto-time

in this regard."

The Chief Secretary has

directed the authorities to ensure

strict compliance of the SOP

issued by the Union Ministry of

Health and Family Welfare.

On January 8, the Delhi government

had ordered mandatory

institutional quarantine for

United Kingdom travellers for a

period of seven days in view of

the new variant of Covid-19

detected in the UK.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind

Kejriwal had said on January 8,

"To protect Delhiites from exposure

to the virus from the UK, the

Delhi government has taken

important decisions. Travellers

coming from UK will have to

mandatorily undergo a self-paid

Reverse transcription polymerase

chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on

arrival at the airport. All those

arriving from UK who test positive

will be isolated at an isolation

facility. Negative ones will

be taken to a quarantine facility

for seven days, followed by

seven days of home quarantine."

On December 23, the Central

government suspended flights

from the UK with all passengers

coming from there having to be

tested on arrival at airports.

* The Asian Independent and people associated with it are not responsible for any claims made by the advertisers and do not endorse in any products or services advertised. Please visit www.theasianindependent.com/tc for more information.


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ASIA

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

3

What do you know of grace of

national flag? Amarinder asks BJP

Chandigarh : Terming the

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader

Tarun Chugh's remarks on his 'army

background' as reprehensible, Punjab

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on

Saturday quipped, "what does the BJP

or its leadership know of army honour

or the grace of the national flag, in

which the bodies of "our Punjabi

brothers come wrapped from the borders

every second day?"

"We in Punjab know the pain of

seeing the bodies of our sons and

brothers, wrapped in the national flag,

come home every second day," he

said, adding that the BJP clearly has

no empathy or sensitivity towards the

soldiers losing their lives to protect

India's honour and integrity."

Neither Chugh nor his party could

relate to the anguish of those very soldiers

on seeing their farmer fathers

and brothers being beaten up and teargassed

while fighting for their rights,

said the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister slammed

Chugh for deliberately spreading lies

on an issue relating to the honour of

the brave Indian soldiers fighting for

the safety and security of the nation at

the borders. Lambasting the BJP

national general secretary for his

remarks on 'Republic Day grace', he

said the BJP, which had

systematically ripped

the constitutional fabric

apart over the past six

years and most notably

over the draconian farm

laws, had lost all moral

and ethical right to talk

of the honour of

Republic Day.

"What was wrong in

my statement that

maligning the farmers

(for the Red Fort violence)

could cause the

morale of the armed

forces, 20 per cent of

whom are from Punjab,

to go down? How does

that amount to insulting

the Republic Day grace

and my own Army

background?" asked an

angry Amarinder Singh,

hitting out at Chugh for

misleading the people

with baseless allegations.

"What happened

to the grace of the

Republic Day when the Central government,

which the BJP leads, trampled

over the federal and constitutional

rights of the states to unilaterally

bring in the farm ordinances without

consulting anyone?

"Where is the grace in letting the

poor farmers, who are feeding you

along with the billion plus people of

India every day, shiver

in the cold on the roads,

with many of them

dying out there?,"

Amarinder Singh asked.

Reacting to Chugh's

accusations that he had

backed those who had

insulted the Tricolour at

the Red Fort, Amarinder

Singh pointed out that

far from supporting anyone

involved in the Red

Fort violence in any

way, "I was among the

first to outright condemn

the violence and the dishonour

to the symbol of

independent India."

Saying, however, that

he did not believe it was

the farmers who created

trouble, the Chief

Minister pointed out that

it was miscreants,

including the BJP's own

supporters, who were

seen creating trouble at

the historic Red Fort in

the national capital on Republic Day.

He reiterated his demand for a

thorough probe into the incident to

expose the conspiracy and unveil the

role, if any, of any political party or

any third country.

Terming Chugh's unfounded allegations

as a clear attempt to cover up

his own party's role in the incident and

also in the subsequent developments,

including Friday's attack on farmers

protesting peacefully at the Singhu

border, the Chief Minister said the

BJP, in its desperation to divert public

attention from the genuine plight and

struggle of the farmers, was resorting

to all kinds of theatrics and lies.

The Chief Minister also came

down heavily on the BJP leader over

his remarks on the law and order situation

in the state. For months, the

farmers agitated peacefully in Punjab,

where some of them are even now sitting

in protest without any trouble, he

pointed out, adding that the BJP wanted

to see trouble in the state with an

eye on next year's Assembly elections.

"Why else would they try to underplay

the growing Pakistan and China

threats, and the increasing number of

incidents of weapons being smuggled

into Punjab through drones," he

asked, warning the ruling party

against compromising the nation's

safety and security for its own petty

political gains.

Tamil Nadu: four men thrash

18-year-old youth, urinate on him

after he objected to casteist slurs

In a deplorable incident reported from Tamil Nadu’s

Pudukkottai district, an 18-year-old boy belonging to the Dalit

community was allegedly beaten up by four men and urinated on

after he objected to one of them hurling casteist slurs at him.

As per the police, the teenager and some of his relatives were

fishing in a pond last Sunday. One of the accused, identified as

Pradeep, who is a native of Thanikondan village, got into a heated

argument with the teenager over some issue. During the argument,

Pradeep used casteist remarks and thrashed the teenager when he

objected. Subsequently, Pradeep, along with his three friends,

allegedly abducted the Dalit teen in a car. They took him to an isolated

area, where they allegedly beat him and urinated on him. The

teenager in some way broke free and saved his life. Following that,

the teen was admitted in a government hospital for treatment and

police were alerted, according to a report by The Times of India.

On the basis of the complaint registered by the victim, police

filed a case against Pradeep and his three friends on Thursday. All

of them have been booked under sections 365 (abduction), 342

(wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 294 (b)

(obscene act to insult), and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the

Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes

and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act,

2005. Further investigations into the matter are going on.

Courtesy : Catch News

International Pali Foundation is going to organize

National conference on PALI LANGUAGE

Dear Dhamma Friends

Jay Bhim, Namo Buddhay

This is matter of great pleasure that our

International Pali Foundation is going to

organize National conference on Pali language

with objectives to promote Our Pali

language among Native Indians who were

the Ancient Rulers of India as Buddhist

Nagvanshi Indus Indigenous People. The

Pali language was developed by our ancestors

Naga race peoples and directly

evolved from the language of Indus

Civilization. Pali is oldest language of

world and mother of most of Native

Indians language. It is well established historical

fact that the Pali is witnessed of our

cultural, religious, socio-economic and

educational and literary rise and downfalls.

Buddhism played role for establishing

world ancient founder of Indus civilization

and Buddhism Dhamma and evolved

Buddhist theocracy with the Pali language

during Golden Times then Pali was

enjoyed the status of status of Lingua franca

and National language of ancient India.

Pali also had given the path of Nibban to

the humanity, cultural empowerment and

Peace, Happiness and Prosperity to world

with the Buddha Vachans

Our Saviour Bodhisattva Dr Babasaheb

Ambedkar had dedicated his life for

Revival of Pali language in India and also

contributed very classical work

Dictionary of Pali and WSBA Vol No.16 is

dedicated to Babasaheb. The dream of

Babasaheb ie Make Buddhist India- MBI

can’t we achieved without Pali and real

history of India and history of our can’t

rewrite without knowledge of Pali.

Because Pali is hub of Wisdom, source of

inspiration for Intellectuals and vehicle of

cultural empowerment. The promotional

efforts had done by our Ambedkarite

Buddhist Intellectuals and Pali scholars in

past since T.W. Ryhse David, Ayothi

Thus, Babasaheb and our thousands

unsung heroes devoted their lives. Despite

these all merits the Pali is not achieved the

place that is deserve for Pali. Even though

our Cultural language Pali is not included

in the 8th Schedule of Indian Constitution

and not given status of classical language

after long legal fight and mass based agitation.

We should polarize all the pro- Pali

individuals, organizations and scholars for

promotion of Pali language among the

Native Indians. Therefore, Our

International Pali Foundation has taken initiative

to organize First National

Conference on theme entitled “Revival of

Pali language in India: Problems and

Perspectives ” with objectives to develop

roadmap and strategies for promotion of

Pali language at Sanchi Vidisha, Madhaya

Pradesh during April 3-4, 2021.

International Pali Foundation need your

support and cooperation for successful

organizing the conference. Kindly send

your views, opinions, suggestions and also

fulfil extend your financial support to

meet out the expenses. We inviting the

quality research and review papers for the

presentational sessions of the conference.

We also need concept notes from the scholars

of Pali for the theme of conference for

preparing the vision document.

Kindly share your views via email by 15

Feb 2021. drrahulvsingh@gmail.com

Regards with Metta

Dr. Rahul Singh

Organizing Secretary

Conference RPLI


4

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 ASIA

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COVID vaccines may

exacerbate inequalities

in distribution: WHO

Geneva : Tedros

underway in all countries,"

Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

Tedros said.

Director-General of the

He further called on

World Health Organization

(WHO), has said that vaccines

are now giving a window

of opportunity to bring

people in countries that

are now rolling out vaccines

to use their voice to

advocate for their government

the Covid-19 pandemic

to share doses.

under control, but they may

Healthcare workers

also exacerbate the inequalities

in distribution across the

globe.

Speaking at a press briefing

here on Friday, Tedros

urged the world not to

squander another window of

have been on the frontlines

of the pandemic and

paid an extremely high

price in this pandemic.

"Now it's time to show

our love and appreciation

for health workers by

opportunity to curb the pandemic,

reports Xinhua news and self-defeating. "When a workers are vaccinated," he

making sure all health

agency. "A year ago, I said the village is on fire, it makes no said.

world had a 'window of opportunity'

to prevent widespread ple to hoard all the extinguish-

come as the total number of

sense for a small group of peo-

The WHO chief's remarks

transmission of this new virus." ers to defend their own houses,"

Tedros said.

topped 102 million, while the

global coronavirus cases has

The WHO chief was referring

to a time when there were Since vaccines are a limited deaths have surged to more

fewer than 100 Covid-19 cases resource, the WHO has repeatedly

called for their effective the Johns Hopkins University.

than 2.20 million, according to

and no deaths outside China.

"This week, we reached 100 and fair use, according to the In its latest update on

million reported cases. More Director-General.

Saturday morning, the

cases have been reported in the "That's why I have challenged

government and indus-

Science and Engineering

University's Center for Systems

past two weeks than during the

first six months of the pandemic.

"Vaccine nationalism might ensure that in the first 100 days caseload and death toll stood at

try leaders to work together to revealed that the current global

serve short-term political goals. of 2021, vaccination of health 102,007,480 and 2,204,494,

But it's ultimately short-sighted workers and older people is respectively.

China shut down 18,489 illegal websites in 2020

Beijing : China's central

bank has issued a commemorative

coin to celebrate the

Chinese zodiac Year of the Ox,

which will begin from

February 12. The round, copper-alloy

coin is 27 mm in

diameter and has a face value

of 10 yuan ($1.55), Xinhua

news agency quoted the

People's Bank of China as saying

in a statement on Friday.

The front side of the coin

shows its face value and the

year of issuance, while the

reverse side features an ox raising

its head.

The central bank will issue a

total of 150 million such coins.

The Year of the Ox is the second

zodiac sign in the Chinese

zodiac cycle.

It will last until January 31,

2022. The Chinese Zodiac is

represented by 12 animals to

Beijing : China shut down 18,489 illegal

websites in 2020, and issued warning notices to

4,551 others, the Cyberspace Administration of

China (CAC) revealed on Saturday. Some of the

websites were shut down for promoting online

games or dating information in the guise of

online courses, while others were punished for

spreading illegal material including pornographic

and violent content, Xinhua news agency

quoted the CAC as saying.

Cyberspace administration departments in

2020 also launched a series of campaigns to

purge cyberspace of platforms promoting illegal

activities, exerting a negative influence on society

and containing information harmful to juveniles.

The CAC continues to direct provinciallevel

cyberspace administration departments in

dealing with illegal websites and online platforms

and intensifying law enforcement in this

regard.

China issues commemorative

coin for Year of the Ox

record the years and reflect

people's attributes. The animals

are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon,

snake, horse, sheep, monkey,

rooster, dog and pig.

Pakistan not bound by treaty

prohibiting nuclear weapons

Islamabad : In a sensational

observation which will have far

reaching ramifications particularly

in the highly volatile

nuclear armed South Asian

neighbourhood, Pakistan has

said that it does not consider

itself bound to any obligation

preserved under the Treaty on

the Prohibition of Nuclear

Weapons as it was not part of

its negotiations.

During a weekly press briefing,

the Foreign Office

spokesperson said that "none of

the nuclear-armed states,

including Pakistan took part in

the negotiations of the Treaty

which failed to take on board

the legitimate interests of all

the stakeholders".

"Many non-nuclear armed

states have also refrained from

becoming parties to the treaty,"

he said.

Pakistan has maintained that

the UN General Assembly had

agreed by consensus, during its

first special session focused on

nuclear disarmament in 1978,

that disarmament measures will

be adopted, keeping in mind

the right of each state to security.

"The UNGA, at its first special

session devoted to nuclear

disarmament in 1978, had

agreed by consensus that the

adoption of disarmament measures,

the right of each state to

security should be kept in

mind, and at each stage of the

disarmament process, the

objective would be undiminished

security for all states at

the lowest possible level of

armament and military forces,"

the Foreign Office said in a

statement. "Pakistan believes

that this cardinal objective can

only be achieved as a cooperative

and universally agreed

undertaking, through a consensus-based

process involving all

the relevant stakeholders,

which results in equal and

diminished security for all

states."

Pakistan has highlighted and

urged that "it is indispensable

for any initiative on nuclear

disarmament to take into

account the vital security considerations

of each and every

state", adding that the current

treaty does not contribute to

progress or development of

customary international law.

"Pakistan stresses that this

Treaty neither forms a part of,

nor contributes to the development

of customary international

law in any manner," the

Foreign Office statement

added.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

Canada suspends flights to the Caribbean, Mexico

Ottawa : Canadian Prime Minister

Justin Trudeau announced new measures

against curbing the spread of

Covid-19, including the suspension of

flights from the country to the

Caribbean and Mexico until April.

"With the challenges we currently

face with Covid-19, both here at home

and abroad, we all agree that now is

just not the time to be flying," Xinhua

news agency quoted Trudeau as saying

at a press conference here on

Friday.

"By putting in place these tough

measures now, we can look forward to

a better time," he added.

The Prime Minister said the country

main airlines, including flag carrier

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and

Air Transat, will cancel their services

to all Caribbean destinations and

Mexico, starting from Sunday until

April 30.

Trudeau also outlined a new

mandatory Covid-19 testing requirement

at Canadian airports for inbound

travellers. They are obliged to quarantine

for three days at a designated

hotel on their own expense, which he

said is "expected to be more than

C$2,000". "Those with negative test

results will then be able to quarantine

at home under significantly increased

surveillance and enforcement,"

Trudeau said. "Those with positive

tests will be immediately required to

Russian frigate conducts drills after

US destroyers enter Black Sea

Moscow : Russian frigate Admiral Makarov conducted air

defence and combat drills in the Black Sea after two US warships

entered the territorial waters, the Defence Ministry said.

On Friday, the frigate's air defence crew practiced detecting air

targets and using electronic warfare equipment, Xinhua news

agency quoted the Ministry as saying in a statement.

The sailors stepped up preparedness by getting weapons ready

and working out response during a sea battle with a simulated

enemy. The servicemen also carried out damage control exercises.

Next, the frigate will conduct joint drills with coastal missile

troops of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Russian naval forces are

now tracking US destroyer Porter, which entered the Black Sea on

Thursday. Another US destroyer, Donald Cook, sailed into the

Black Sea on January 23.

quarantine in designated government

facilities to make sure they're not carrying

variants of potential concern."

Trudeau also stressed that nonessential

travellers will have to show a

negative test at land borders too.

"We will also, in the coming weeks,

be requiring non-essential travellers to

show a negative test before entry at the

land border with the US, and we are

working to stand up additional testing

requirements for land travel."

The new measures are designed to

discourage Canadians from taking

non-essential trips outside of the country

as many Canadians reportedly

have been escaping the chilly winter

with vacations to sunny destinations in

the Caribbean and Mexico.

Canada has had a ban on nonessential

travel into the country by

anyone who isn't a citizen or permanent

resident since last March.

More than 6.3 million people who

have reportedly entered Canada since

last March were not required to quarantine.

The Trudeau government

began beefing up anti-Covid-19 measures

earlier this month, requiring proof

of a negative test, taken within 72

hours of departure time, before anyone

is allowed to board a flight to Canada.

So far, Canada has reported a

cumulative total of 769,408 coronavirus

cases, with 19,775 deaths and

694,201 recoveries.

Mexican economy faces worst

setback since the 1930s

Mexico City : Mexico's

economy contracted 8.3 per

cent in 2020 year-on-year,

marking its worst setback since

the 1930s largely due to the

coronavirus pandemic and the

related lockdowns, according

to preliminary estimates published

by the National Institute

of Statistics and Geography

(INEGI).

In the fourth quarter of 2020,

Mexico's gross domestic product

(GDP) fell 4.5 per cent

year-on-year, a more moderate

contraction than the 18.7 per

cent decline in the second quarter

of last year and the 8.6 per

cent decline in the third quarter,

when the pandemic impacted

productive activities, according

to the INEGI report published

on Friday.

In 2019, Mexico's GDP fell

0.1 per cent, accumulating two

Putin signs bill to extend

nuke treaty with US

Moscow : Russian President

Vladimir Putin on Friday

signed a bill into law ratifying a

five-year extension of the New

Strategic Arms Reduction

Treaty (New START) with the

US, one of the last major arms

reduction treaties signed since

the end of the Cold War. The

validity period of the New

START will be extended by

five years to February 5, 2026,

Xinhua news agency quoted

the Kremlin as saying in a

statement issued on Friday.

On Tuesday, Moscow and

Washington exchanged notes

on extending the key arms control

pact.

Presidents Vladimir Putin of

Russia and Joe Biden of the US

welcomed the move in a telephone

call. The same day, Putin

submitted a bill on the extension

in the State Duma (the

lower house of parliament).

On Wednesday, the Russian

Parliament approved it.

The extension of the treaty

meets Russia's national interests,

makes it possible to preserve

the transparency and predictability

of Moscow-

Washington strategic relations,

helps to maintain strategic stability

in the world, positively

affects the international situation,

and contributes to the

nuclear disarmament process,

the Kremlin said.

In response to the development,

a US State Department

representative told Russia's

TASS News Agency said:

"There are still steps that

should be finalized. But we are

optimistic that the extension,

which obviously meets our

national security interests, will

be finalized before expiration

on February 5."

In 2010, Russia and the US

signed the New START, which

stipulates limits to the numbers

of deployed nuclear warheads

and strategic delivery systems

by both.

The last remaining nuclear

arms control treaty in force

between the two nuclear superpowers

was about to expire on

February 5 before they agreed

to preserve it.

The administration of former

President Donald Trump

tried to conclude a shorter

extension of the treaty last year

after rounds of negotiation with

Russia, but the two sides failed

to finalise a formal agreement.

years of contraction, reports

Xinhua news agency.

Mexican industrial activity

in 2020 plummeted by 10 per

cent annually, while the services

sector saw a 7.7 per cent

drop. The two sectors contribute

the most to the GDP.

The agricultural sector,

which makes a minimal contribution

to GDP, grew by 2 per

cent last year, according to

INEGI's preliminary estimate.

Seasonally adjusted figures

5

show Mexico's GDP dropped

8.5 per cent in 2020, but

expanded 3.1 per cent in the

fourth quarter of last year compared

to the previous quarter.

Productive activity practically

came to a standstill in the

first half of 2020, after the first

Covid-19 case was detected in

February.

Mexico relies heavily on the

economy in the US, its northern

neighbour and main trading

partner, whose economy contracted

3.5 per cent in 2020, the

biggest annual decline since

1946.

With 155,145 Covid-19

fatalities, Mexico currently

accounts for the third highest

death toll in the world after the

US and Brazil.

The country has registered a

total of 1,825,519 confirmed

cases.

Taiwan bans eating on

public transportation

Taipei : Passengers aboard trains, buses and ships across

Taiwan will be banned from eating and drinking from February 1

amid a resurgence of Covid-19, the Transport Department said.

Eating and drinking will also be prohibited on planes, except on

international and cross-Strait flights, Xinhua news agency quoted

the Department as saying in a statement issued on Friday.

Airports, railway stations, harbours, highway service areas and

tourist sites will double the frequency of disinfection from

February 8 to 16, the prime season for homecoming during the

Spring Festival, the statement said.

Gathering events at railway station halls will be suspended during

this period. The total number of Covid-19 cases in Taiwan has

risen to 899, with four new imported cases from the Philippines

and South Africa, according to the local epidemic monitoring

agency. Till now, seven people have died due to the disease, while

there were 813 recoveries and 79 hospitalisations.


6 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Japan's unemployment rate

rises for 1st time in 11 yrs

Tokyo : The availability of jobs in Japan

in 2020 marked the sharpest fall in 45 years,

while the country's unemployment rate

increased for the first time in 11 years, in the

wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the government

said in a report on Friday.

According to the Ministry of Health,

Labour and Welfare, the job availability ratio

fell 0.42 point to 1.18, equating to there

being 118 job openings for every 100 people

seeking work, reports Xinhua news agency.

The figure marked the fastest slide since a

0.59 point drop was booked in 1975, with the

figure marking the lowest level since 2014,

the Ministry said. Separately, the jobless rate

in 2020 stood at 2.8 per cent, rising 0.4 per

cent from the previous year, to book the first

increase since 2009, the Ministry of Internal

Affairs and Communications said.

The statistics bureau also said the number

of unemployed people in 2020 increased by

290,000 to 1.91 million people, another 11-

year high, while the number of employed

people dropped by 480,000 to 66.76 million,

marking the first decline in eight years.

The number of employees furloughed

surged by 800,000 to 2.56 million, owing to

the virus' spread. The figure marked the

highest level since comparable data became

available in 1968, the Ministry's data

showed. For the month of December, the

unemployment rate stood at 2.9 per cent,

while the job availability ratio came in at

1.06, with both figures remaining unchanged

from the previous month, the latest data

revealed. "The data showed a continued significant

impact from the coronavirus pandemic

on the labor market. We will closely

monitor developments," Ryota Takeda,

Minister of Internal Affairs and

Communications, said.

Pak to get help from China in

improving agriculture sector: Imran

Islamabad : Pakistan Prime

Minister Imran Khan said that the

country is expected to get help from

China in its efforts to improve the

agriculture sector under the framework

of the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Pakistani government is collaborating

with China in learning

agricultural techniques under CPEC

to enhance yield of crops, modernisation

of irrigation system and

value addition, Xinhua news

agency quoted Khan as saying at an

event on Friday.

"The production of crops and

dairy products in China is far more

than that of Pakistan due to their advanced

research and technology," the Prime Minister

said. He added that his government is taking

revolutionary steps to uplift agro-based

industries of the country to ensure

sustainable development and prosperity,

and China is willing to help

Pakistan in this regard.

Agriculture is the backbone of

the Pakistani economy, and cooperation

with China could turn a

new page in agricultural modernization

and will be a destiny

changer for the people of Pakistan,

he said.

On Tuesday, China and

Pakistan launched an online platform

to collect and display information

and achievements of agricultural

and industrial cooperation

between the two countries, aiming

at enhancing bilateral cooperation under

CPEC in the two sectors.

Pakistan to renovate holy

sites of minorities

Lahore : The Pakistan government has decided to renovate several

holy sites belonging to minorities across the country, in a bid to

further strengthen its case of providing safety and security to the

minorities living in the country. As per details, several gurdwaras and

temples will undergo renovation across Pakistan. According to statistics,

the total number of Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples in

Pakistan are 1,830. However, only 31 temples and gurdwaras are

operational. Official sources say that the meager number of operational

temples and gurdwaras has prompted the government to take

action and renovate the minority holy sites. The Evacuee Trust

Property Board (ETPB), provincial governments along with the Sikh

and Hindu community members will be part of the overall renovation

process, which is likely to be completed this year.

In Punjab province, a Sikh mansion in Rawalpindi will be

restored, while renovation in at least two churches and seven Hindu

temples is in progress in Lahore. Moreover, the construction of the

Hindu temple in the capital Islamabad, is also likely to be completed

in 2021. "Karsewa of Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore has been going

on for many years. But the Indian members of the Karsewa

Committee had to return home as their visas expired and it could not

be renewed because of the pandemic. So this work was stalled and

will be resumed soon," Sardar Ameer Sindh, Secretary General of

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), said.

"Similarly, the restoration work at the Gurdwara Bali La, Nankani

Sahib and Gurdwara Tanbo Sahib will also be completed soon," he

added. The ETPB has maintained that gurdwaras and Hindu temples

across Pakistan will be renovated and restored, and will be made

open to the communities in the coming days.

"A major temple and gurdwara are activated every year", said

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, head of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

"Apart from the ETBP, the provincial governments are also playing

their part in the restoration of the ancient historical temples and

gurdwaras," he added. Pakistan has been criticiSed for mistreating its

minorities with demands of giving them easy access and open freedom

to their religious sites. The country has maintained that it is

ensuring complete protection of minorities and is taking steps

towards provision of access to their relative religious sites. Recently,

Pakistan and India shared cross-accusations over the treatment of

minorities in each other's countries, with India questioning of the

recent mob attack on a Hindu shrine in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa's Karak

district. Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that his government is

working towards ensuring freedom for minorities. However, the

ongoing cases of forced conversions, kidnapping and targeted attacks

continue to defy the premier's claims.

Japan Governors discuss extending emergency period

Tokyo : The Governors of the

Japanese capital Tokyo and its three

neighbouring prefectures met during

which they discussed a possible

extension of the incumbent state of

emergency due to an unabated

increase in new Covid-19 cases. On

Friday Tokyo, the hardest-hit by

pandemic among Japan's 47 prefectures,

reported 868 new Covid-19

cases, bringing the city's total infection

tally to 98,439, reports Xinhua

news agency. The number of

patients designated as being in a

"serious condition" stood at 147,

three less than the previous day,

local health officials said. In the

wake of the medical system becoming

increasing strained and growing

numbers of infected patients being

unable to secure beds in hospitals,

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said"

"We need to take strict precautions,

as the number of people testing positive

remains high." Kanagawa

Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said that the

medical care system in the prefecture

"remains extremely strained".

The Governors' concerns have

been echoed by medical experts

who have pointed out that the virus

situation in Tokyo in particular

remains extremely severe, despite

recent daily cases showing a slight

decline.

Despite the recent dip, experts

who advise the metropolitan government

on its coronavirus response

decided on Thursday to maintain the

alert for both the infection situation

in the capital and its medical system

at the highest level on its four tier

scale.

According to the panel of

experts, the seven-day average of

new cases in Tokyo as of

Wednesday dropped to 1,015, compared

with 1,471 for the previous

week, and 1,699 for the week before

that.

They warned, however, that the

average still remained high and was

at about the same level as January 6,

which was two days before the state

of emergency came into effect for

Tokyo and the three neighbouring

prefectures. In addition, the experts

highlighted the fact that the average

is about three times higher than the

peak reached in the second wave of

infections that hit last summer.

As the nation continues to grapple

to contain the spread of the

virus, the European Union opted to

remove Japan from its list of countries

from which travellers can visit

the bloc without Covid-19-related

restrictions such as self-quarantining

or mandatory PCR tests.

Japan has so far reported a total

of 384,670 coronavirus cases, while

the death toll stood at 5,611.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Three, including manager, held

for Rs 1 crore bank fraud

Bengaluru : Three persons, including a branch manager

working with a

nationalised bank,

have been arrested by

the Bengaluru Police

for defrauding the

bank of Rs 1 crore.

Branch Manager

Arun fell in a 'money

doubling trap' laid by

two racketeers

Imtiyaz and

Basavaraj, who persuaded him to withdraw Rs 1 crore original

currency notes from the bank and said they could be replaced

with fake currency notes.

According to the police, the accused were identified as Arun

(the bank manager), and Imtiyaz and Basavaraj (both of whom

worked as bank loan agents).

The police said Arun came in contact with Imtiyaz, who

reportedly persuaded him to play a 'big game' to become rich

instantaneously. "As per this conversation, Arun fell into the trap

and withdrew Rs 1 crore from his bank branch and handed it

over to the bank agent duo," the police added.

The police said when the two did not return after taking the

money and due to shortage of cash by the end of banking hours,

Arun realised that he had been duped. He then hatched another

conspiracy by telling his superiors that while carrying Rs 1 crore

in cash, he was robbed by a gang. "However, his superiors smelt

a rat and the bank immediately filed a complaint and hinted that

their manager could be involved in the robbery.

Based on this, we started questioning him about his call

records and other technical data that forced him to 'speak the

truth' and he confessed that he had fallen into the "money doubling"

trap," the police said. As part of their investigation, the

police asked Arun to accompany them to show the place where

he was robbed of the money. When they reached the spot they

found that despite being an isolated place, a few shops and

apartments nearby had installed CCTV cameras which Arun was

unaware of. "There was no evidence of robbery on that stretch.

Besides Arun's mobile location showed that at that time he was

in the branch and he was frenetically calling someone. Initially

he said that he had left his mobile in the bank himself," the

police added. The police has registered a case and is investigating

the matter further.

New Delhi : The Centre on

Saturday said that the outbreak

of bird flu in poultry birds has

been confirmed in 10 states,

while 13 states have reported

the disease in crows, migratory

and wild birds.

Kerala, Haryana, Madhya

Pradesh, Maharashtra,

Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand,

Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab

and Jammu & Kashmir have

confirmed the outbreak of the

ASIA

New Delhi : A day after a clash broke

out between protesting farmers and local

residents at Singhu border, which resulted

in injuries to a senior police official and

seven farmers, the Aam Aadmi Party

(AAP) on Saturday said that farmers acted

in self-defence. Coming out in support of

farmers, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj

said the attack on Alipur SHO Pradeep

Paliwal was unfortunate and protesters

might have attacked police officials in selfdefence.

At a press conference on Saturday,

AAP national spokesperson Saurabh

Bharadwaj said, "Farmers were surrounded

by goons and they were attacked. Those

who attacked farmers were not locals but

BJP's party workers and they acted on

behalf of their leaders." He alleged that on

Bird flu outbreak in

poultry confirmed in

10 states : Govt Guwahati

Friday, BJP workers in the garb of local

residents attacked farmers at Singhu and

Tikri borders and the internet services were

deliberately shut down to hide the truth of

the assault on protesting farmers.

"The BJP is calling these farmers terrorists.

The farmers have been camping for

more than two months on the borders

behind barricades. Just before January 26,

the BJP set up new camps outside the barricades.

The police allowed these people to

set up their camps and these were run by

BJP agent Deep Sidhu. We have videos

where BJP MP Sunny Deol claims Sidhu is

like his own brother," added Bharadwaj .

Bharadwaj also alleged that despite

heavy Delhi Police and Central forces personnel

deployment, locals entered the

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

AAP blames BJP for 'attack'

on farmers at Singhu border

avian influenza in poultry

birds, where as Madhya

Pradesh,

Haryana,

Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh,

Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat,

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand,

Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu &

Kashmir, Punjab and Bihar

have reported the bird flu in

crows, migratory and wild

birds. In J&K's Udhampur, the

outbreak of the avian influenza

has been confirmed in a domestic

fowl. Besides, Himachal's

Hamirpur district confirmed

the bird flu in crows and in

Bihar's West Champaran district

the disease was found in a

peacock, said Department of

Animal Husbandry & Dairying

(DAHD) in a statement.

Control and Containment

Operations (Cleaning and

Disinfection) are going on in

the affected epicentres of

Haryana, Maharashtra,

Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Uttar

Pradesh, the statement added.

Surveillance work is underway

at places which have confirmed

positive results in

species of birds excluding

poultry. Compensation is being

paid to farmers whose poultry

birds, eggs and poultry feed are

culled or disposed of by the

state as per the action plan.

The DAHD is being reported

by all the states everyday

about the control measures

adopted on the revised action

plan for prevention, control and

containment of the bird flu.

: All India

Congress Committee (AICC)

spokesperson Gourav Vallabh

on Saturday slammed the

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

government for been incapable,

incompetent and indifferent

towards the plight of the

Assamese people as he said that

the state government used communal

divide as a tool to

polarise the voters in the state.

Vallabh said the BJP leaders

have, over the last few weeks,

resorted to lies and deceit to

whitewash their actions of misgovernance

and paint a fair picture

of their inactions.

"The BJP has been working

overtime to destroy the social

fabric of Assam, which is a

land of Srimanta Sankardeva

who propagated an inclusive

society," the Congress leader

told the media. The Congress

spokesperson said that out of

36 states and Union Territories

combined, Assam ranked 20th

in the Business Reform Action

Plan Results 2019 indicating no

concrete reforms initiated by

the Assam's BJP government.

"It took two years for the

BJP government at the Centre

to come up with a shoddy

North East Industrial

Development Scheme that

doesn't even propose an exclusive

industrial policy for the

northeast." Vallabh accompanied

by Lok Sabha member

from Assam Abdul Khaleque

and Assam Congress Media

Department chief Bobbeeta

Sharma, said that as per CMIE

(Centre for Monitoring Indian

Economy) data, the unemployment

rate in Assam in

December 2020 was 7.6 per

cent, higher than the national

unemployment rate of 6.5 per

cent. He said, "Against the

promise of nine new medical

colleges, one high-tech 500-

7

protest site and assaulted farmers.

Bharadwaj said, "It was done in a very

planned way as BJP goons kept stones in

two trucks near the venue. They attacked

farmers in the presence of the police."

Following the stone-pelting incident

between farmers and local residents, the

police had to fire tear gas shells and resorted

to baton charge to bring the situation

under control. A large group of men claiming

to be local residents hurled stones at

each other at the Singhu border, one of the

main protest sites against farm laws.

The police, so far, claimed to have

arrested 44 people including the man who

attacked SHO Alipur in the violence that

broke out on Friday afternoon at Singhu

border.

BJP in ASSAM used

communal divide to

polarise voters: Congress

bed hospital in every district,

the BJP government has

deceived the Assamese people

with a foundation laying ceremony

happening a month

before the elections."

Reports of renowned and

credible bodies suggest that

there is a 50 per cent shortage

of community health centres in

Assam. Shortage of trained

medical manpower and poor

state of healthcare facilities

indicates complete neglect in

the last five years. In the education

front, the Congress leader

said that the BJP government

not only failed to deliver on its

promise of setting up 30 ITIs

and an IIM, it has led the state

into a decline. "NITI Aayog has

recently released the India

Innovation Index-2020. Out of

27 states and nine Union

Territories, Assam is ranked

29th. This speaks of the state's

overall pathetic performance in

education - especially higher

education and research - science

and technology sector,

industrial and employment sector,"

Vallabh added.


8 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Human chains formed in Bihar

to show support to farmers

Patna : Showing solidarity with the agitating farmers, the

Opposition parties in Bihar anchored by Rashtriya Janata Dal

(RJD) leader Tejashwi

Yadav formed a human

chain across the state on

Saturday on the occasion of

the death anniversary of

Father of the Nation,

Mahatma Gandhi.

Tejashwi Yadav said the

human chain is a symbolic

protest against the Centre's

newly passed three farm

laws that have met with

stiff resistance from the

farmers who have been

protesting on the borders of

Delhi for over two months,

seeking repeal of the laws. The leaders of the

'Mahagathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) said the human chain was

also formed at many places in all the 38 districts of Bihar.

Tejashwi, along with senior party leaders Jagadanand Singh,

Shyam Rajak, Alok Mehta and others formed the human chain

at Budha Smriti Park near Patna Junction for half-an-hour.

"We are protesting in solidarity with the farmers of the country.

It will continue in Bihar till the Centre rolls back the three

contentious farm laws," Tejashwi said.

"We do not understand why the Centre is forcibly imposing

the laws if the farmers don't want these three bills. This is unacceptable.

The Nitish Kumar government had abolished the

APMC Act in Bihar way back in 2006. As a result, the farmers

have become labourers and now they have been virtually

reduced to beggars, in the absence of market committees and

Mandis. The situation is such that farmers are selling their crops

way below the MSP," he said. "The Narendra Modi government

claims that these bills will double the income of farmers. We

believe that this is not going to happen. The laws are like a

labyrinth to trap farmers and grab their land, and they were formulated

to benefit the corporate houses," the former Bihar

deputy chief minister said.

Following the announcement of the human chain by the RJD,

the supporters of other parties like the CPI, CPI-M, CPI (ML)

and the Congress also participated in it.

In Patna, the human chain was formed in Patna junction, and

passed through Dak Bungalow Chowk, Gandhi Maidan, Gol

Ghar, and other areas for a distance of one km.

2 held in Gurugram for

robbing people posing

as police officers

Gurugram : The Crime Branch unit of Gurugram Police has

arrested two wanted criminals, who robbed people at gun point

while posing as police officers, the police said on Saturday. The

Haryana government had fixed a bounty of Rs 5,000 each on

their arrest. With the arrest of the duo, the police claimed to have

solved four cases of loot and snatching which the accused had

committed in Gurugram and Rajasthan.

The arrested culprits have been identified as Vinod from

Jhajjar and Naveen from Gurugram district.

The arrested duo was nabbed by the Crime Branch unit led by

sub-inspector Dalpat Singh from the Basai Road after a tip-off.

"During interrogation, the accused revealed that they used to

stop vehicles claiming to be policemen and then on the pretext

of searching the vehicles, they robbed people of their belongings

on gun point," said Preet Pal Sangwan, ACP (crime).

The accused had also robbed Rajsthan-based farmers on the

Delhi-Jaipur Expressway on December 5, 2020, the police said.

NSUI launches 'Rozgar do ya

degree wapas lo' campaign

New Delhi : The National Students

Union of India (NSUI) on Saturday

launched the 'Naukri Do Ya Degree Wapas

Lo' (Give employment or take back

degrees) campaign against the Central government.

The campaign was launched by

NSUI national president Neeraj Kundan at

the Congress headquarters here.

Addressing the media, Kundan said that

the main motive behind NSUI's campaign

is to point out the reality to a government

that has no interest in giving jobs to the

youth.

He said, "We would be collecting five

lakh degrees of unemployed students. By

this, abundant evidence will be provided to

the government which will bring out the

reality of the central government for hiding

the actual data of unemployed people from

the youth of this country."

NSUI General Secretary Nagesh

Kariyappa also said that youth empowerment

and employment-generation should

be the foremost duty of government.

"Considering the facts, a big challenge

in India is the absence of decent work in

the organised sector for the generation of

youth. As whatever the government is presenting

in front of the public is not the

truth, there is an indispensable need to look

New Delhi : The Delhi Police have

turned the Singhu border, where scores of

farmers are protesting against the three

contentious farm laws for over two months

now, into an island.

The protest site has been barricaded and

blocked for entry and exit from all the

sides. The 2 km road which starts at a U-

turn for the Singhu border and leads to the

protest site is barred from the entry of any

vehicle other than those belonging to the

security personnel. One has to cover the

distance on foot to reach the protest site.

The whole road is flooded with personnel

of Delhi Police and the Rapid Action

Force, geared with anti-riot equipment in

anticipation of any fresh spurt of violence.

One has to cross as many as eight security

checkpoints created on the road to

reach the protest site. Each point is guarded

by more than 50 security personnel.

At every point, the personnel would ask

the purpose of visit and proof of identity

before allowing people to go to the next

check-post where the entire process will be

repeated. The police officials said that

heavy security was deployed after

Republic Day incident when a group of

farmers went rogue and clashed with the

police at many points in Delhi.

The last checkpoint was swarmed by

media professionals. After inquiring, it

became clear that the police have not

allowed the press to go inside the protest

site. "We have been ordered to not let anyone

enter from here," a police officer said.

However, he did not tell who had issued

the order.

Even after repeated attempts and

requests, several heated arguments ensued

between the media and the police, but the

officials stuck to their stand and the journalists

were told to turn back.

into the fallen characteristics of youth

employment," he said.

"The most shocking part is that the

unemployment rate in the country is at the

highest in 45 years," Kariyappa added.

The NSUI also highlighted that in 2014,

the BJP had promised to generate more

than two crore employment opportunities

Fortunately, this reporter found a way to

the inside of the protest site.

The scenes at the site were quite but

tensed. Suspicion for unknown faces was

visible at the faces of the farmers camping

in their trolleys on the Singhu border,

which has been home to them for more

than 60 days now.

However, they said that their spirits are

still high. "No doubt the unfortunate incidents

of violence have impacted the farmers'

morale, but to boost that, our brothers

are coming from Punjab and Haryana,"

said Nakhdeep Bhindra, a young farmer

from Punjab. Meanwhile, apprehensive

gaze of the farmers followed this reporter

wherever he went. Many declined the

request to speak while a few agreed with

scepticism. Interestingly, every conversation

with the farmers were video recorded

by them. "While everything is routinely

normal here, we have become extra cautious

after Friday's violence," said

Sukhdeep Singh, a protester. On Friday,

violence erupted at the Singhu protest site

after over 500 persons claiming to be locals

pelted a farmers' camp with stones, leading

every year and now, this sums up to 12

crores and failed to provide the same.

"They betrayed the youth of the nation.

According to the report of the National

Sample Survey Office, the rate of unemployment

rose to 6.1 per cent in 2017-18,

which was 2.2 per cent in 2011-12," the

NSUI chief added.

Tension, apprehension loom over

Singhu following violence

to a clash between them and the agitating

farmers.

Many farmers were found discontent

with the coverage of the events that unfolded

on Friday and on January 26. They

alleged that the media has been showing

only one side of the violence. "Even our

people were injured in the violence on

Republic Day and on Friday. But all the

sympathy was directed towards the police,"

said Manu Chautala, a farmer from

Haryana. The farmers are also wary of the

coverage by specific media groups which

is continuously portraying the protest in a

bad light. "Are you Godi media," asked

every person this reporter tried to speak to.

Some even attempted to Google the

name and organisation of this reporter but

the mobile showed no internet connectivity

as net services have been temporarily suspended

till January 31 in the area after

orders from the Union Home Ministry.

"The mainstream media has been calling

us traitors, terrorists and Khalistanis.

Which terrorist protests peacefully," asked

Joginder Bhatti, an elderly protester from

Punjab.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 9

Dalai Lama and gender reform: Malati Rao's 'The Geshema

Is Born' vividly documents a historic turnaround

New Delhi : What makes the 14th

Dalia Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, the Tibetan

Buddhists spiritual leader, stand apart

from other temporal heads, is his firm

commitment to reforms and accepting

change as part of organic development

of religion. This is vividly evident in the

Public Service Broadcasting Trusts onehour

documentary "The Geshema Is

Born". Directed by Malati Rao, it traces

how Tibetan Buddhist nuns who have

sought equality for centuries, had their

longstanding aspiration being fulfilled

when they were conferred the highest

monastic degree, the Geshema, in 2016

bythe Dalai Lama at Drepung

monastery, Mundgod.

Welcoming the historic conferment,

the Tibetan political leader, Lobsang

Sangay had said: "We owe His Holiness

Dalai Lama a debt of gratitude."

The event is singularly significant.

Nuns were encouraged to pray and

chant and there are examples of 'arahants'

(monks who have achieved

enlightenment and passes to Nirvana at

death) among them attaining liberation

being in the female form. "Yet, education

and the centres of learning like the

Nalanda were only open to monks." In

1979, when the Dalai Lama escaped to

India in 1979, a large number of monks

and nuns followed him. One of the first

decisions taken by the Tibetan government

in exile when it came into existence

was to set up centres of learning.

"Preservation of their unique culture

was critical to the exiled community,"

says Rao.

Making a bold move then, the Dalai

Lama recommended that nuns receive

education as well, a change which was

hard for a society whose very existence

was endangered. "His holiness had the

fortitude to see how important it was to

bring gender parity," observes Rao.

Change is hard to come by and definitely

takes time. Gender parity in different

faiths in India, too took years of

struggle and now the can country boast

Dalit family attacked,

Ambedkar statue

DESECRATED in UP

Ballia (Uttar Pradesh) : A Dalit family was allegedly attacked

and a statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar damaged in the Nagra area of

Ballia district.

Suresh Ram filed a complaint with the police alleging that he

and his family were attacked by four people, belonging to an upper

caste, when they were sitting around a bonfire on Wednesday night.

The attackers also damaged the statue installed at Ambedkar

Park. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sanjay Yadav said

that three persons were injured in the incident, which took place in

the Kanwar village.

The motive behind the attack is not yet known.

Senior officials rushed to the spot soon after the incident and an

FIR has been lodged against four persons.

Two of the accused, identified as Manoj Singh and Ram Pravesh

Singh, have been arrested, he said.

of women Hindu and Christian priests

and Muslim imam. Rao feels, women

outnumber men when it comes to seeking

spirituality in their lives. "I think it's

valuable for religious institutions to

acknowledge this. Including women

and giving them equal status is not only

just but also a step to keep themselves

relevant to those who are searching for

answers. Every religion today is exploring

its efficacy in the modern society."

Praising the Buddhist nuns' perseverance,

Rao says, though the Tibetan

Nuns Project was put into motion

almost 25 years back, "the nuns of three

generations have stood on each other's

shoulders to sustain the ideals of transformation

and an end to suffering".

The film brings to fore the opposition

to this historic move. While Karma

Gelek Yuthok, the Minister for Religion

and Culture, Central Tibetan

Administration in Exile remarks that

Vinaya tradition forbids nuns, Geshe

Rinchin Ngudup, a teacher feels that

monks have better memory and debating

skills. "The fact that it took as long

as it did clearly indicate that change was

Budget Session begins with Prez

address, Oppn creates ruckus

New Delhi : The Budget

Session commenced on

Friday with President Ram

Nath Kovind's address to the

joint sitting of Parliament

amid 18 opposition parties

boycotting the event and

Congress member Ravneet

Singh raising slogans against

the government on farmers'

issue. Following tradition,

the President began Budget

Session 2021 with his

address at 11 a.m. at the

Central Hall of Parliament highlighting the

government's plan, policy and vision for

the next financial year as well as the steps

taken during pandemic. The President condemned

the farmers' violent march on

Republic Day and their attempt to dishonour

the dignity of the Red Fort where

Prime Minister unfurls Tricolour on

Independence Day every year.

Vice President M.Venkaiah Naidu also

spoke on the event addressing the joint sitting

of Parliament. Earlier, Prime Minister

Narendra Modi addressed the media, saying

"This Budget is a golden opportunity to

fulfill dreams of freedom fighters".

The two Houses later met separately for

the tabling of the President's Address. The

Economic Survey was also tabled in both

Houses during the 30-minute sitting after

paying obituary references. Both, the

President's address as well as the

Economic Survey was tabled first in the

Lok Sabha amid sloganeering by opposition

parties against the three farm laws.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla later

adjourned the House till Monday -- the day

when the Union Budget will be presented

by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The session is being held in two parts

this year due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The first part of the

Budget Session is scheduled

to conclude on February 15

while the second part will

commence on March 8 and is

expected to end on April 8.

Given the Covid-19 outbreak,

Parliament will sit in

two shifts. The morning session

is dedicated to the Rajya

Sabha while the Lok Sabha

will sit in the evening.

The Rajya Sabha will sit

from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while

the Lok Sabha will sit from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Zero Hour and Question Hour will also be

held. All Covid protocols will be followed

during this session on the same lines as the

Monsoon Session last year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

will present the Union Budget at 11 a.m. on

February 1. The Lok Sabha shall hold 12

sittings and during the second phase of the

session, there will be 21 sittings of the

House. Question Hour, Zero Hour will also

be held during this session. The Bahujan

Samaj Party and the Aam Aadmi party also

joined the 16 opposition parties, who boycotted

the President's Address over the

manner in which the three farm laws were

passed. This is the second time in a row

when the opposition stayed away from the

Presidential Address. Last year, the opposition

parties, barring the Bahujan Samaj

Party, had staged their own programme in

front of the Ambedkar statue, reading from

the constitution and preamble in support of

those opposing the citizenship law.

This year, the opposition parties, who

are divided and fighting each other in the

states, made a joint statement in solidarity

with the farmers protesting against the controversial

new agricultural laws and other

issues to boycott the Presidential address.

not easy," avers Rao. Elucidating she

explains, that in the origin stories,

Buddha's aunt Mahaprajapati asked him

if she and other women could join the

Sangha. He is said to have refused thrice

before finally relenting. "This has been

the main thrust of why women are second

class citizens. This along with the

fact that the Bhikshuni order cannot be

traced to Tibet hence the women's lineage

is broken." There were fears that

Buddhism will not survive beyond 500

years once women were included; that it

was against Buddha's wishes; and that

nuns cannot have the same discipline as

the monks in the keeping the vows.

Do the misgivings still continue? "I

think the fact that all the top leadership

was present at the podium when the

Geshemas got their degrees shows that

there is now an agreement about the

way forward." It is noteworthy that the

nuns do not view gender equality as a

mere civil or human right or the conferment

of Geshema degree a tremendous

achievement. They perceive it as a

means to achieve spiritual salvation,

nirvana. "The nuns are here to seek

freedom from suffering. The Geshema

degree is a triumph of them overcoming

their fears and disappointments and

paving the way to their future."

Rao does well to capture the scenic

beauty of the locales where the film was

shot making the viewing a pleasant

experience!

BJD demands

Women's Reservation

Bill be passed in this

Budget session

New Delhi : Biju Janata Dal has demanded

that the Womens

Reservation Bill be

passed in the

Budget Session of

Parliament.

This was

demanded by Pinaki

Misra, BJD

Parliamentary Party

leader in Lok Sabha

in the All Party

meeting held at

New Delhi on

Saturday for the

Budget Session of

Parliament

On behalf of the Biju Janata Dal, senior Lok

Sabha MP Pinaki Misra stated that Odisha Chief

Minister and BJD President Naveen Patnaik has

specifically requested the Union Government to

have the Women's Reservation Bill passed in this

Budget session. Misra said Biju Janata Dal gave

7 out of 21 MP tickets to women in 2019 Lok

Sabha elections, being the only political party to

have done so. Five of the BJD women MPs won

and so did 2 BJP MPs.

"Therefore, Naveen Patnaik is happy that

Odisha is the only state in the country to have

1/3rd women MPs in Lok Sabha," he added.

Misra added that both BJP and Congress has

publicly backed this Women's Reservation Bill

along with a number of political parties (YSR

Congress and TRS today openly backed CM of

Odisha's demand for passage of Women's

Reservation Bill), therefore it should be no problem

to pass this in Lok Sabha.

"Rajya Sabha has already passed it almost 10

years back. Therefore, Naveen Patnaik ji feels

that the time has come when the Lok Sabha must

pass it," Misra added.


10 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Karnataka: Two manual scavengers

choke to DEATH in a MANHOLE

The third worker, who survived is now battling for his life in the hospital, In a shocking incident, two manual scavengers

choked to death in a manhole at Kailas Nagar of Kalaburagi in Karnataka. The deceased were brothers, and another

sanitation worker who has been admitted to a hospital is their relative, reported Deccan Herald.

The deceased brothers have

been identified as Lal Ahmed (30)

and Rasheed Ahmed (25), residents

of Azadpur Road of the City

who were working as labourers

with Karnataka Urban Water

Supply and Drainage Board

(KUWSDB). The incident is said

to have taken place as the manhole

is about 18-feet deep. Ahmed Sab,

the father of the deceased is also a

KUWSDB civic worker.

An eye witness told Deccan

Herald, “The trio workers entered

the manhole to remove a clog on

Thursday afternoon. They collapsed

due to the lack of oxygen

and didn’t respond to the people’s

screaming who were standing near

the manhole. Sensing trouble, fire

and emergency services persons

were called. An earth mover dug

around the manhole and the trio

workers who slipped into unconsciousness

were retrieved. They

were immediately admitted to the

GIMS. Two were declared brought

dead”.

In her statement, the

Kalaburagi Mahanagara Palike

Commissioner Snehal Sudhakar Lokhande said the

mishap occurred in a under construction Under

Ground Drainage (UGD) but not in the manhole.

Their death led to subsequent protests by locals

outside the hospital.

The KUWSDB has been informed about the

incident and it will soon announce compensation

for the families. Media also reported that the corporation

will first conduct an inquiry into the incident

and stern action will be taken against the officials

if found guilty.

Although the Prohibition of Employment as

Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act,

2013 recognises that manual scavenging is a

‘dehumanising’ practice which arises from continued

existence of unsanitary latrines and a ‘highly

iniquitous caste system’, very little has been done

to rectify the illegal practice.

The National Safai Karamchari Commission

had revealed that from 2010 to March 2020, 631

sewer and septic tank cleaners had lost their lives

and the highest number of deaths was reported in

2019 at a whopping 115.

On 19 November, last year, the Government of

India undertook some key measures to amend the

manual scavenging laws, making the cleaning of

septic tanks and sewers mechanised, replacing the

word ‘manhole’ with ‘machine hole’ and setting up

a dedicated national helpline to register complaints

and provide solutions on desludging and overflow.

The Government had announced that their aim

is to eliminate manual scavenging across the country

by August 2021. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri,

Minister of State, Independent Charge, Ministry of

Housing and Urban Affairs ensured that no person

needs to enter a sewer or septic tank, “unless

SP to take out 'cycle yatra' in support of Azam Khan

Lucknow : Samajwadi Party

President Akhilesh Yadav would soon

launch a 'cycle yatra' across Uttar

Pradesh in support of Rampur MP Azam

Khan's Mohammad Ali Jauhar

University. Akhilesh would lead the

cycle yatra from the front and create

awareness about the university. The SP

President alleged that Jauhar University

is being targeted as Uttar Pradesh Chief

Minister Yogi Adityanath does not want

young people to get educated.

"Everyone knows the truth why Azam

Khan is in jail. It is nothing but political

vendetta. Our party and its leaders are

standing with Azam Khan and Jauhar

University. Our MLAs, MLCs and MPs

are continuously raising their voices

inside the Parliament, Assembly and

Councils and working hard to protect

this institution," Akhilesh told the media.

The SP chief said,"We believe in the

judicial system and the university will

get justice. The entire administrative

machinery from Lekhpal to the District

Magistrate are in the hands of the UP

government. Therefore, it is a legal battle

and we will hopefully get justice."

Recently, Akhilesh had visited Azam

Khan's residence in Rampur and met his

wife and SP MLA Tanzeen Fatima, who

was recently released from jail.

absolutely unavoidable in the interest of greater

public hygiene.”

A petition filed by All India Council of Trade

Unions (AICTU) and High Court Legal Services

Committee before the Karnataka High Court

prayed to discontinue the practice of allowing/forcing

sanitary workers to physically enter manholes,

sewer lines, septic tanks etc. and to direct the State

and Union Government to give a report on the

action taken by them for removal of the inhuman

practice and the implementation of the provisions

of the Act. The petition also concerned itself with

the incident of three manual scavengers who died

due to suffocation, while cleaning a pit in an apartment

complex at Bengaluru.

The court had strictly observed that, “We have

found that there is hardly any implementation of

the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and

the Rules in the State of Karnataka…The preamble

of the Constitution shows that the Constitution

seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There

can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most

inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights

guaranteed under Article 21.”

The Division Bench had issued a slew of directions

to the State Government and also the Union

for appropriate records and surveys in the same

regard. The matter will be taken up on February 2,

2021.

Courtesy : Sabrang

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

DEMAGOGY

ASIA

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

Varavara Rao bail:

11

Today is Gandhi’s martyrdom day.

He was killed by a fanatic who

claimed to be a Hindu and felt that

Gandhi was working against the

interest of Hindus. A fake narrative

has been built since then. It was sad

to see Gandhi’s statue being desecrated

at some places in Italy as well

as in United States. I don’t think that

serve any purpose. Gandhi was a

political leader who played a big role

in bringing anti colonial forces

together in India and led India’s freedom

movement. We may disagree

with Gandhi’s views on caste system

as well as religion but we can not

ignore his pivotal role in our freedom

movement. We have a right to reject

his theories on caste and untouchability.

We can also reject his socio

economic model but let us not take

away his role as a leader who brought

together people from diverse communities

and faiths.

The government of India ‘condemned’

the desecration of Gandhi’s

statue in the US. It is strange to see

this government so ‘active’ to protect

Gandhi’s ‘honour’ in

the US and Italy but

failed to do so in

India. After Modi

assumed power, he

converted Gandhi

into a #swachchbharaticon

and completely

ignored his

other work. The murder

of Gandhi was a

brahmin called

Nathuram Godse and

his lunatic followers

are celebrating

Gandhi’s killing. Can

you imagine a twitter

hate campaign in the

United States. Twitter and face book

show spine to block president Trump

in the US for his tweets which they

claim were unsubstantiated but twitter

and Facebook have shown no

responsibility and accountability that

way in India where the goons continue

to use social media to intimidate

the opponents with active support

from the ruling party. The collapse of

institutions have ensured that those

who fight for their rights are treated

as criminals and face numerous cases

filed against them while the goons

sponsored by the ruling regime

become the ‘rastrabhakts’ and supported

by the police. The JNU,

AMU, Jamia, Rohit Vemula case,

Delhi riots are example how police is

behaving as the militia of the ruling

party which will have a devastating

impact on our democracy and institutional

impartiality.

It is not unsurprising to see the

hate campaign against Gandhi on

twitter and Facebook without any

action being taken against them.

After all, the leader who termed

Gandhi as ‘chaturbania’ is the second

most powerful person at the moment.

Gandhi was not killed by a

Muslim. He was not killed by a Dalit

or Adivasi. In fact, Dr Baba Saheb

Ambedkar saved his life by signing

the Poona pact but none claimed that

they saved Gandhi. So, the thing is

that the Hindutva leaders who hated

Gandhi want to use Gandhi by chanting

his name but at the same point of

time allow their chelas to carry out

hate campaign against him. This is

hypocritic that those who benefited

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

from Gandhiism are crying against

him.

Today, when Indian government

was condemning vandalism against

Gandhi statue in US, the same government

did not act or did not ask any

of the social media heads to take

action against those celebrating

Gandhi’s murder. Nobody can beat

Indian political leadership at the

moment on the issue of double speak.

Condemn what happened outside

India but allow your chelas to abuse.

Demagogy at best in India.

Bom HC questions if keeping

him in custody will be

detrimental to his HEALTH

The Court said it has to strike a balance between law and humanity, The bail hearing of

Varavara Rao based on his health condition, continued on January 28, whereby, the

court assessed the medical report submitted by Nanavati Hospital. The bench of Justices

SS Shinde and Manish Pitale questioned the quality of life of Dr. Rao at the age of 82.

The court stated that it has to consider law and humanity and strike a balance.

ASG Anil Singh contended that the

medical report states he’s on medication

so he is stable.

“The fact that he is 82, suffers from

cerebral atrophy… We are examining if

we can we take this a step further to ask

what is the quality of life of a person

aged 82? Can continued incarceration be

detrimental to the health of an undertrial.”

Justice Pitale said, as per LiveLaw.

Singh submitted that old age cannot

be used as a ground for bail, especially

when Rao’s condition is stable, since

there were many prisoners of his age,

currently in jail.

When Singh contended that it was a

matter of national security, the bench

questioned what was the state’s apprehension

against Dr. Rao. The court also

brought to the notice of the NIA and the

state that it is their duty to take his health

into consideration, “If something happens

to him, it is a matter of concern,”

said Justice Shinde. The court also

warned the state to not consider issues

involving fundamental rights to be

adversarial litigations and to instead consider

it as the duty of the state.

According to NIA, the court will have

to give a finding that the State is incapable

of taking care of the undertrial only

then the medical bail can be granted.

The court suggested imposing certain

strict bail conditions upon Dr Rao, to

which Singh responded that instead the

court may impose conditions on the state

on how Rao should be kept in his prison.

The court then adjourned the case to

February 3 and cautioned that the

Bench’s comments were only for purpose

of discussion during this proceeding.

The court’s concern about his health

is warranted, as recently, a UAPA

accused, Kanchan Nanaware, lodged in

Yerawada jail, succumbed to a prolonged

heart ailment, even as her bail hearing

was pending before the Bombay High

Court. Her bail was rejected by Pune

Sessions Court

Courtesy : Sabrang

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

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12 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Shaan to unveil his

Punjabi track soon

Mumbai : Singer Shaan on Sunday shared a glimpse of his

upcoming Punjabi track, Yakeen, which he says is close to his

heart. The singer, who has given many hit Bollywood songs like

"Chand sifarish", "Bum bum bole" and "Main aisa kyon hoon",

has been focusing on his independent music lately. Now, he is

looking forward to the release of "Yakeen", which is slated to

drop on February 5.

Apart from singing, Shaan has also composed the Punjabi

track, and believes that it carries an important message of belief

in oneself and belief in the good.

"'Yakeen' is a track that is close to my heart. Songs that carry

a message along with them are always special and we have tried

to do just that with this one. Belief in love, belief in oneself, and

the belief that things will get better, are things that form the crux

of 'Yakeen'," said the singer.

"Yakeen" music video features Punjabi actors Pihu Sharma

and Jimmy Sharma.

The "Tanha dil" hitmaker took to Instagram to share the

motion poster of the song. "Holding on with faith that some day

everything will be alright #Yakeen releasing on 5th February

exclusively on my YouTube channel!," Shaan captioned it.

Ghazipur : Two days

after his Shiromani Akali

Dal (SAD) appealed to

party workers to reach

dharna sites on Delhi

borders to support farmers,

its President Sukhbir

Singh Badal on Sunday

"honoured" farmer leader

Rakesh Tikait.

Tikait was presented a

'siropa' or Sikh ceremonial

sash as well as 'amrit'

or nectar from the holy

pond around Harmandar

Sahib in Amritsar in

Punjab and assured of total support

of the Akalis to ensure the

success of the agitation.

The SAD had pulled out of

the ruling NDA over the contentious

farm laws last year.

Sukhbir, who met Tikait in

front of a huge gathering here

on the Delhi-UP border, said

the farmer leader had done the

farming community proud by

following in the footsteps of his

late father Mahinder Singh

Tikait, who was a towering

farmer leader of his time.

He also recalled the joint

battles Tikait senior and SAD

patron Parkash Singh Badal

had fought for the welfare of

the peasantry.

The SAD on Friday called

upon its party workers to rush

to three dharna sites on Delhi-

Haryana and Delhi-UP borders

in larger numbers to boost the

farmers' agitation.

Tikait, while speaking highly

about the SAD patron's contribution

towards the farmers

Over 100 persons missing since

Jan 26 tractor rally: Farmers' body

Delhi : More than 100 persons

have been reported missing

since the tractor rally taken

out in Delhi on the Republic

Day, the Sanyukt Kisan

Morcha said on Sunday while

expressing deep concern over

the issue. "We are now trying to

compile information about

these missing persons, after

which the issue will be taken

with authorities. A committee

has been constituted which

includes Prem Singh Bhangu,

Rajinder Singh Deep Singh

Wala, Avtar Singh, Kiranjit

Singh Sekhon and Baljit

Singh," the leaders of the conglomeration

of more than 40

farmers' unions said at a press

conference at Singhu on the

Delhi-Haryana border.

The Morcha also issued a

number to gather information

about the missing persons, on

which the caller can register the

full name, address, phone number

and any other contact number

and since when the person

is missing. The Morcha also

condemned the arrest of freelance

journalist Mandeep Punia

SUKHBIR honours Tikait at

Ghazipur, extends total support

cause, told the SAD President

that he would visit Badal village

to meet the five-time Chief

Minister, who is father of

Sukhbir, and take his blessings.

Tikait presented SAD chief a

sword as a mark of honour.

The SAD President also met

families of farmers or persons

"missing" since January 26,

besides farmers whose relatives

have been incarcerated for supporting

the protest.

Sukhbir Badal assured the

families that the SAD would

take up the cases and ensure

appropriate legal remedies

were made available to them.

He also requested Delhi

SAD unit President Harmit

Singh Kalka to establish a control

room in Delhi to ensure

aggrieved families were given

instant assistance as and when

required.

Sukhbir Badal said the

DSGMC would contest all such

cases free of cost even as he

assured the families that a committee

of lawyers had

been established in

Chandigarh and

across all districts in

Punjab to ensure a

coordinated effort in

this direction.

He also released a

helpline number for

Delhi - 9310510640 -

- which will complement

the three

helpline numbers

released in

Chandigarh on

Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion,

the SAD chief requested all

political parties to leave aside

petty differences and unite for

the greater cause of the peasantry.

He said it was now clear that

the farmers of Punjab,

Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar

Pradesh, besides those from

other parts of the country, had

formed a united front.

"We must strengthen this

front further to ensure the

Kisan Andolan is a resounding

success."

Prior to Sukhbir Badal's

arrival, Bhartiya Kisan Union

leader Tikait announced that no

politician will be handed over

microphone to speak on the

main stage, claiming that he

has received a notice for allowing

political leaders to address

protesters in the last few days.

Prominent Punjabi singers

Harsh Cheema and Karvinder

Garwal also joined the protest

to lend their support.

and detention and subsequent

release of another scribbler as

well as the "government's

attack on farmers' agitation by

suspending Internet services at

various protest sites".

"The Modi government does

not want the real facts to reach

the farmers and the general

Vietnam Prez

re-elected as

communist

party chief

Hanoi : The 13th

Communist Party of Vietnam

Central Committee (CPVCC)

on Sunday re-elected incumbent

President Nguyen Phu

Trong as the its general secretary

for a third term.

The election took place at

the first meeting of the newlyelected

13th CPVCC on

Sunday morning during the

ongoing 13th CPV National

Congress scheduled to run

through February 1, Xinhua

news agency.

The CPVCC's politburo,

secretariat, inspection commission

and head of the inspection

commission were also elected

at the meeting.

A total of 1,587 delegates

representing over 5.1 million

CPV members are attending the

congress which kicked off on

January 25.

A press release made public

earlier on Saturday read that the

congress had agreed on adjusting

the agenda of the political

event, which will now conclude

on February 1, one day earlier

than in the original program.

public, nor their peaceful conduct

reach the world. The government

wants to spread its lies

about the farmers."

The front leaders also questioned

the siege of protest sites

to prevent or dissuade the common

people and media from

reaching the Singhu border and

other dharna sites.

"Despite several attempts to

foment violence by the police

and the government, farmers

are still debating three agricultural

laws and MSPs. We want

to make it clear to all aware citizens

that our Delhi front is safe

and peaceful."

Army rescues 5 persons

from snow-bound Sikkim

Guwahati : The Army rescued five persons, including three

truck drivers and their co-passengers, from the snow-bound

north Sikkim, officials said on Sunday.

Defence spokesman Lt Col P Khongsai said that soldiers carried

out night evacuation of the five persons stuck in heavy snow

in a remote area between Samdong and Lachen in north Sikkim

between 9 pm and 11 pm on Friday night.

According to the Army official, these people were returning

from Samdong (Sikkim) to Siliguri (West Bengal), but were

stuck due to more than two feet of snow, which made driving

extremely dangerous.

All five evacuees were taken to an Army post where they

were provided medicine, food and warm clothing for night stay

at the camp," he said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

HEALTH

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

13

‘Brain training’ may help treat PTSD

The study found that the severity of PTSD symptoms decreased in

participants randomized to receive neurofeedback treatment.

Toronto : Brain training may be an

effective treatment for individuals with

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),

researchers say.

The study, published in the journal

Neurolmage: Clinical, indicates that

neurofeedback, also called ‘brain training,’—consists

of exercises where individuals

regulate their own brain activity—was

effective in reducing symptoms

of PTSD.

“Brain connectivity involves different

parts of the brain communicating

with each other and helps to regulate

states of consciousness, thought, mood

and emotion,” said researcher Ruth

Lanius from the Western University in

Canada.

“Individuals with PTSD tend to have

disrupted patterns of brain connectivity,

but our research suggests they can exercise

their brains to restore patterns to a

healthy balance,” Lanius added.

Neurofeedback uses a system called

a neurofeedback loop in which a person’s

brain activity is measured through

sensors placed on the scalp and displayed

back to them using a computer

interface. This allows the individual to

complete exercises and visually see the

results.

For the study, the team tested neurofeedback

with a total of 72 participants,

including 36 participants with PTSD

and 36 healthy control participants.

Of those with PTSD, 18 were randomized

to participate in neurofeedback

treatment while the other 18 acted as a

comparison group. The study found that

the severity of PTSD symptoms

decreased in participants randomized to

receive neurofeedback treatment.

After treatment, 61.1 per cent of participants

no longer met the definition for

PTSD. This remission rate is comparable

to gold standard therapies like trauma-focused

psychotherapy.

The research team also used functional

magnetic resonance imaging

(fMRI) to capture brain scans of participants

both before and after participation

in the trial.

They found that individuals with

PTSD experienced positive changes in

brain connectivity in the salience network

and the default mode network following

neurofeedback treatment.

“Neurofeedback could offer an

accessible and effective treatment

option for individuals with PTSD. The

treatment is easily scalable for implementation

in rural areas and even at

home,” the researchers said.

How childhood TRAUMA is

linked to multiple sclerosis

The researchers found that childhood stress in the mice

triggered a prolonged release of norepinephrine

NEW YORK : Childhood

trauma could affect the trajectory

of multiple sclerosis development

and response to treatment

in adulthood, a new study suggests.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive

autoimmune disease in

which the body attacks and strips

away the protective coating

around neurons, resulting in a

wide range of neurological

symptoms.

In a mice-based study,

researchers found that mice that

had experienced stress when

young were more likely to develop

the autoimmune disorder and

less likely to respond to a common

treatment. “Mice that had

early-life trauma were more susceptible

to experimental autoimmune

encephalomyelitis (EAE)

disease development and suffered

prolonged motor paralysis

with severe neuronal damage in

the central nervous system,

which we found was caused by a

heightened immune response,”

said researcher Yee Ming Khaw

from the University of Illinois at

Urbana-Champaign in the US.

In the study, published in the

journal Nature Communications,

the team studied a mouse model

of multiple sclerosis.

The mice were genetically

susceptible to experimental

autoimmune encephalomyelitis,

the model most widely used for

studying MS. The researchers

watched the development and

progression of EAE in mice that

had been briefly separated from

their mother and given a saline

injection while young and compared

it with mice that had not

experienced the same stress.

The researchers traced the

EAE triggers to the immune system—in

particular, a receptor on

immune cells that binds to the

stress hormone norepinephrine.

The researchers found that

childhood stress in the mice triggered

a prolonged release of norepinephrine.

The receptor was

activated for long periods of

time, which led the cells to

decrease its expression—leaving

the immune system less

equipped to respond to the stress

and inflammation of EAE.

Importantly, mice that developed

EAE after stress in their

childhoods did not respond to

treatment with interferon beta,

one of the initial therapies most

widely prescribed to individuals

with multiple sclerosis.

SII plans to

launch Covovax

by June

Covid-19 vaccine with Novavax has

shown excellent efficacy results, says

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla

Pune : In what could be a mega boost to the ongoing Covid-19

vaccination drive in India, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has

announced its plan to launch its new vaccine, Covovax, by June

this year. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Saturday that its partnership

for a Covid-19 vaccine with Novavax has shown excellent

efficacy results. "We have applied for starting trials in India. Hope

to launch Covocax by June 2021," Poonawalla said in a tweet.

The new vaccine shall be launched under the brand name of

Covovax, which SII is manufacturing in partnership with Novovax.

The Pune-based global vaccine giant has sought permission from

the DCGI to start domestic trials of the new product.

The development comes close on the heels of US-based biotechnology

company Novavax announcing that its vaccine is 89.3 per

cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in a trial conducted in the

UK. The study assessed the efficacy of the vaccine—NVX-

CoV2373—during a period with high transmission and with a new

UK variant strain of the virus emerging and circulating widely.

"NVX-CoV2373 has the potential to play an important role in

solving this global public health crisis. We look forward to continuing

to work with our partners, collaborators, investigators and

regulators around the world to make the vaccine available as quickly

as possible," Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive

Officer, Novavax, said in a statement on Friday.

Last year, Novavax had announced its tie up with SII to produce

2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine.


14 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 HEALTH

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Covid-19 takes a toll on physicians’

happiness, SAYS REPORT

Female physicians, those in critical care and infectious disease reporting highest rates of burnout

New Delhi : The Covid-19 pandemic

has severely affected the mental and

emotional well-being of doctors, with

female physicians and those in critical

care and infectious disease reporting

among the highest rates of burnout during

the pandemic, according to findings

from a new report.

The ‘Death by 1,000 Cuts:

Medscape National Physician Burnout

and Suicide Report 2021’ shows that

although burnout rates were stable from

the previous year’s report, at 42 per

cent overall, the level in women

increased from 48 per cent to 51 per

cent during the pandemic, while

burnout in male physicians overall

remained unchanged from 2019.

“Many women physicians are in

families with children at home. It’s

already known that women assume

more responsibilities in the home than

do men. The pressures have increased

during Covid-19: having to be their

child’s teacher during homeschooling;

no childcare; and the grandparents can’t

babysit. Those all bring enormous pressure

and burdens. In addition, all doctors

and nurses are worried about bringing

the virus home to their families,”

says US-based psychiatrist Carol

Bernstein in the report.

Burnout and the stress of the pandemic

(personal risk, social distancing,

financial uncertainty) appeared to

diminish physicians’ overall work-life

happiness, with only 49 per cent reporting

they were happy in 2020 versus 69

per cent pre-pandemic.

More than one-third reported feeling

unhappy last year, compared with 19

per cent in 2019. Shortage of personal

protective equipment (PPE), difficult

conditions, long hours, grief over losing

patients, and watching patients’ families

suffer added a layer of extreme

stress and exhaustion for many frontline

workers, suggests the report.

Nearly three-quarters of millennial

physicians (25-39) and GenXrs (40-54)

and two-thirds of boomers (55-73) said

burnout has had a negative effect on

their personal relationships, says the

report based on responses from over

12,000 physicians. Burnout is described

as long-term, unresolved, job-related

stress leading to exhaustion, cynicism,

detachment from job responsibilities,

and lacking a sense of personal accomplishment.

Of the 20 per cent of physicians

who said they were depressed,

one in five reported clinical depression,

and more than two-thirds said they felt

down (colloquial depression) during

2020. Of those reporting depression, 13

per cent said they experienced suicidal

thoughts, and 1 per cent attempted suicide.

“More than one-third of all physicians

who report depression say it leads

them to be more easily exasperated

with patients, 24 per cent are less careful

when taking patient notes and 15 per

cent said depression results in them

making errors they would otherwise not

make,” says the Medscape report.

1 in 3 adults anxious,

depressed due to

PANDEMIC : Study

Frequent cannabis use

may decline IQ among

YOUNG PEOPLE

Study also confirmed that longer media exposure was

associated with higher odds of anxiety, depression

Singapore : One in

every three adults, particularly

women,

younger adults and

those of lower socioeconomic

status, are experiencing

psychological

distress related to

Covid-19, a new study

suggests.

The study, published

in the journal PLOS

ONE, indicates that

women are more likely

to experience psychological

distress than

men is consistent with other

global studies that have shown

that anxiety and depression are

more common in women.

“The lower social status of

women and less preferential

access to healthcare compared to

men could potentially be responsible

for the exaggerated adverse

psychosocial impact on

women,” according to the

researchers, including Tazeen

Jafar from the Duke-NUS in

Singapore.

For the study, the team performed

a meta-analysis of 68

studies conducted during the

pandemic, encompassing

2,88,830 participants from 19

countries, to assess risk factors

associated with anxiety and

depression among the general

population.

They found that, among the

people most affected by Covid-

19-related anxiety or depression,

women, younger adults, individuals

of lower socioeconomic status,

those living in rural areas

and those at high risk of Covid-

19 infection were more likely to

experience psychological distress.

Younger adults, aged 35 and

under, were more likely to experience

psychological distress

than those over the age of 35.

Although the reasons

for this are

unclear, previous

studies have suggested

that it might be due

to younger people’s

greater access to

Covid-19 information

through the media.

This current study

also confirmed that

longer media exposure

was associated

with higher odds of

anxiety and depression,

the researchers

said.

Other factors associated with

psychological distress included

living in rural areas; lower education,

lower income or unemployment;

and being at high risk

of Covid-19 infection. However,

having stronger family and

social support and using positive

coping strategies were shown to

reduce the risk of psychological

distress.

“Understanding these factors

is crucial for designing preventive

programmes and mental

health resource planning during

the rapidly evolving Covid-19

outbreak,” Jafar said.

London : Adolescents who

frequently use cannabis may

experience a decline in

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) over

time, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the

journal Psychological Medicine,

revealed that there were declines

of approximately 2 IQ points

over time in those who use

cannabis frequently compared to

those who didn’t use cannabis.

Further analysis suggested

that this decline in IQ points was

primarily related to the reduction

in verbal IQ. “Cannabis use during

youth is of great concern as

the developing brain may be particularly

susceptible to harm during

this period,” said researcher

Emmet Power from the Royal

College of Surgeons in Ireland

(RCSI).

“The findings of this study

help us to further understand this

important public health issue,”

Power added. For the study, the

team involved a systematic

review and statistical analysis on

seven longitudinal studies

involving 808 young people who

used cannabis at least weekly for

a minimum of 6 months and

5308 young people who did not

use cannabis.

To be included in the analysis

each study had to have a baseline

IQ score before starting cannabis

use and another IQ score at follow-up.

The young people were

followed up until age 18 on average

although one study followed

the young people until age 38.

“Previous research tells us

that young people who use

cannabis frequently have worse

outcomes in life than their peers

and are at increased risk for serious

mental illnesses like schizophrenia,”

said researcher Mary

Cannon, Professor at RCSI.

“Loss of IQ points early in

life could have significant

effects on performance in school

and college and later employment

prospects,” Cannon added.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

15

12 killed in blasts across Afghanistan

Kabul : At least 12 people were

killed in blasts across Afghanistan,

officials have confirmed.

In a deadly car bomb which hit a

military base in Shirzad district,

Nangarhar province on Saturday

morning, eight soldiers were killed,

the provincial government confirmed

in a statement.

The Taliban outfit has claimed

responsibility for the attack in a statement

sent to media hours after the

blast, Xinhua news agency.

The armed group's spokesman

Zabihullah Mujahid said "50 security

personnel were killed and injured in a

suicide vehicle bomb" that targeted a

military base.

But his claims of the casualties are

yet to be verified.

Later, a magnetic bomb struck a

police van in Kabul's Pol-e-Company

area in Police District 5, injuring one

civilian, police said.

Hours later, another blast struck a

car in Salim Carawan area of Police

District 4 of Kabul city, killing one

person and injuring three others,

Issuing visas to enter Russia to be resumed

New Delhi (Samaj Weekly)-

According to decision of the

Russian COVID-19 Emergency

Response Centre dated January

16, 2021, the Russian

Government issued a directive ?

136-r on January 25, 2021,

allowing to restore international

air traffic on a reciprocal basis

with a number of foreign states,

including India (flights between

Moscow and New Delhi are

police spokesman Ferdaus Faramarz

said. Similarly, a roadside bomb struck

a rickshaw in Panjway district,

Kandahar province,, killing three

Gandhinagar :

Terming the ongoing

farmers' protests against

the three farm laws

brought in by the BJP-led

NDA government, as the

biggest ever agitation and

a direct fight of farmers

against the corporates,

noted agricultural journalist

P. Sainath has said that

the government is afraid of

the wide support the farmers

are receiving from all

sections of society.

Sainath, the 2007

Ramon Magsaysay Award

winner, asked for a special

Parliament session to be

held for the agrarian crisis

and the farmers' welfare

and requested that district

committees be formed to

put forth this demand.

The noted journalist,

who has authored the book, 'Everybody

Loves a Good Drought' asked the people to

take a stand on the farmers' issue as ultimately

the farmers were fighting for the

public. He was speaking at an event organised

by an Ahmedabad-based people's collective

and Gujarat Khedut Samaj on

Saturday. The event was held in context of

the new farm laws.

"I ask, which side of the border would

have Mahatma Gandhi stood, which side of

the border do we stand? Is it on the side of

expected to be operated twice a

week). In this regard, issuing of

visas of all categories (including

student visa) to enter Russia via

air checkpoints is resumed for

the Indian citizens, as well as for

persons who have a residence

permit. Please, note that issuance

of e-visa is temporarily suspended

until an appropriate directive

of the Russian Government. We

would like to emphasize the

civilians including a child, provincial

police spokesman Jamal Barikzai confirmed.

Violent incidents mostly in the

shape of target killing has been on rise

Govt afraid of public support

for farmers : Sainath

need to obtain in addition to the

standard packet of the required

documents (list of them is posted

on the Embassy’s website –

http://bit.ly/VisaRussia, and

website of the Russian Visa

Centres in India –

https://russiavisacentre.com/en)

a valid medical

document confirming negative

results of the laboratory

PCR test for COVID-19.

the government that is favouring

the corporates or the side where

around 200 farmers are martyred

for a cause which affected us all?"

asked Sainath. "The people should

right now decide, do we want corporate-driven

agriculture or agriculture

driven by the farmers? This

is an inescapable question posed to

us right now," he said.

"People from all sections of

society are extending their support

to the farmer's cause and to the agitation

on the Delhi borders and that

is what the government is extremely

afraid of," said Sainath.

"In my entire journalistic career,

I have never seen such a large

protest and of such a huge magnitude

at Delhi borders as a peopledriven,

peaceful agitation is being

held," he said.

When asked what would happen

if the new farm laws are implemented,

Sainath said, "It will

destroy the Public Distribution System

(PDS) within 3 to 4 years. The first 2 to 3

years it will all be good, but thereafter, the

corporates would be deciding. The government

would be forced to procure from the

corporates."

over the past couple of months amid

the tough and slow peace dialogue

between negotiating teams of the

Afghan government and Taliban group

in Doha.

The second round of intra-Afghan

talks after more than three weeks of

break resumed on January 6 without

significant progress.

According to local media reports,

no official dialogue has been held

between the two sides over the past 10

days. Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of

the High Council for National

Reconciliation, said last week that he

had instructed the government negotiating

team to focus on ceasefire and

violence reduction to make the talks

succeed. However, the Taliban has

demanded the resignation of the

Afghan president from power as precondition

for ceasefire and making

peace. A member of Taliban negotiating

team Sher Mohammad Abas

Stanikzai, according to media reports,

has said that the armed group was

ready "to make peace if Ashraf Ghani

resigns" from power.

President Ghani has rejected the

demand, saying that he is not the

obstacle to peace rather he is a champion

for peace in Afghanistan.

If peaceful protesting

farmers abused, it'll

make movement

stronger: British MP

Chandigarh : A day after violence by a group of miscreants

at Singhu on

Delhi-Haryana

border, British

Labour Party

MP Tanmanjeet

Singh Dhesi on

Saturday

warned that "if

people in

power abuse

peaceful protesters,

it'll

merely make

their movement

stronger".

"Shocked to

see mobs and

police trying to

intimidate and

clear Delhi farmers' protest, after stopping their water, electricity

and Internet," Dhesi tweeted.

He added, "Violence can't be condoned, but if people in

power abuse peaceful protesters, it'll merely make their movement

stronger." Earlier, Punjab-origin politician Dhesi had sent

a letter, signed by over 100 MPs and Lords, to UK Prime

Minister Boris Johnson on the ongoing farmers' protests, asking

him to raise this matter with his Indian counterpart Narendra

Modi when they next liaise.

After a clash broke out between protesting farmers and residents

of nearby villages at Singhu border on Friday afternoon,

the area in the vicinity was turned into a police cantonment as

extra police force were immediately deployed to control the situation.

Following the stone-pelting incident, Delhi Police barricaded

the area and barred entry towards the protest site. However,

scores of people claiming to be local residents, most of them

holding lathis (sticks) were still present there and they were seen

shouting slogans against protesting farmers.

Many of them who claimed to be the residents of the nearby

village spoke to IANS and alleged that the farmers had insulted

the national flag during tractor rally on January 26 and their constant

presence in the area for over two months has caused trouble

for the locals.


16 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

From paediatrician to history-sheeter

-- the journey of Kafeel Khan

Washington : Pramila Jayapal,

the first Indian-American woman to

serve in the US House of

Representatives, has sought a larger

Covid-19 relief package with full

access to immigrants and path to

citizenship for essential workers,

the media reported.

Addressing an event last week,

Jayapal, the Chair of the

Congressional Progressive Caucus,

said that President Joe Biden has

done "really well" on progressive

priorities, but his proposed $1.9

trillion relief package should be

between $3 and $4 trillion to meet

Americans' needs, The American

Bazaar reported on Saturday.

Biden's $1.9 trillion 'American

Rescue Plan' package includes over

$400 billion to combat the pandemic

directly such as more funding for

testing and vaccine distribution;

roughly $1 trillion in direct relief to

households; and over $400 billion

for hard-hit small businesses and

communities.

Despite enthusiasm from the

Democrats, the nearly $2 trillion

price tag has drawn backlash from

some Republican senators, who

have aimed to hold down the overall

cost of the economic relief,

especially after the $900 billion bill

approved in December 2020.

"This is not a normal time. We're

trying to act like it's normal," The

American Bazaar quoted Jayapal

was as saying at the event.

"I have only limited tolerance

for a Republican Party that wrings

its hands and talks about unity and

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) : It

has taken just three and a half years for

this paediatrician to turn into a historysheeter.

A suspended paediatrician, seeking

his reinstatement at the BRD Medical

College, Dr Kafeel Khan has now

been declared a history-sheeter which

will ensure that he remains under

police surveillance.

In a video message on Saturday,

Khan said, "The situation in UP is

such that no surveillance is being done

on criminals and a history sheet is

being opened against those, including

me, who are innocent." Khan alleged

that this was "state-sponsored victimization."

According to circle officer,

Gorakhpur, Virendra Pratap Singh,

Khan's history-sheet has been opened

at Rajghat police station. As per

Rajghat police station record, the history

sheet number is 50-A with five

cases against Khan, including three in

Gorakhpur and one each in Delhi and

Aligarh. Khan said, "Give me two

security guards who will keep surveillance

on me round-the-clock so that I

can be saved from getting framed in

false cases. Since I have been freed

from (jail under) the NSA (National

Security Act), I am regularly writing

to them (government) every month to

return me my job so that I can serve

children and the country as a doctor."

Khan, it may be recalled, was

arrested along with other doctors and

staff members, after several children

died due to lack of oxygen at the BRD

Medical College and Hospital in

August 2017. However, he was later

cleared of all charges in a departmental

inquiry.

But after getting bail in April 2018,

Dr Khan was again arrested in

September that year for allegedly creating

nuisance at the district hospital

in Bahraich.

His family claimed he had gone

there after receiving information that

children had died due to an unknown

disease while hospital authorities

alleged that he was questioning families

of patients without permission.

Jayapal seeks larger

relief package with full

access to immigrants

moving forward. We had an insurrection

where their leader of their

party incited that insurrection and

many of them continue to support

him.

"We feel very good about where

he's (Biden) started. He's gone a far

way from when he started his campaign

to where he is as President.

"I do think he understands the

crises and the fact that this is a history-making

time and a legacymaking

time for him, and frankly

for our country," the Indian-

American Congresswoman added.

Jayapal further said that she

pushing Biden to cancel student

loan debt, a move she said the

President is trying to determine

whether he has the power to make.

Days after he received bail, he was

again arrested, along with his brother

Adeel, by the Gorakhpur police for

allegedly opening a bank account

using fake documents. The brothers

later got bail. In January 29 last year,

Khan was arrested from the Mumbai

airport for allegedly making a

provocative speech at the Aligarh

Muslim University in December 2019

during a students' protest against the

citizenship law.

A case was filed on various

charges, including promoting enmity

between two groups, and Dr Khan was

lodged in Mathura jail. The Aligarh

district administration invoked the

NSA against him on February 13.

Months later, the Allahabad High

Court set him free in a verdict on

September 1, 2020, calling his detention

"not sustainable in the eye of

law". The court said the invocation of

NSA was based on a "selective reading

and selective mention of few

phrases from the speech ignoring its

true intent".

However, the UP government

moved a special leave petition in the

Supreme Court, challenging the judgment

but a bench led by Chief Justice

S.A. Bobde refused to interfere, saying

that "it seems to be a good order".

The doctor, along with his family,

has shifted to Jaipur in Rajasthan soon

after his release. His two brothers -

Adeel Ahmed and Kashif Jameel -

have also left Gorakhpur along with

their families and shifted to Jaipur.

His brother, Adeel Ahmad, said,

"We were forced to leave Gorakhpur

because the scenario was getting

worse day-by-day.

My brother Kashif Jameel was

attacked and suffered bullet injuries.

Police were framing false cases

against me and younger brother

Kafeel. When Kafeel came out of jail,

we got information that police were

planning to invoke another case

against him. We all then decided to

leave UP at the earliest. We are staying

in a rented accommodation, while surviving

on savings and selling our

lands."

Adeel further said, "There are four

cases pending against Kafeel. Two

other cases, one each in Gorakhpur

and Delhi, have been disposed of

because of false allegations."

76% students forced to watch

tobacco advertisements

New Delhi : Despite the ban on

advertising of tobacco products in our

country, 76 per cent of school-college

students are forced to watch advertisements

of tobacco companies. Also, to

entice the teenagers, these companies

showcase their products specially

country, she said that it has been found

that 75.9 per cent of such shops near

schools and colleges have not only

advertised tobacco products but also

they are showcased in a place where

they have high visibility. Similarly,

72.32 per cent of these shops display

posed several amendments in this

regard. They would help in curbing consumption

of tobacco by the youth.

Youth leader and Maharashtra BJP

spokesperson Shweta Shalini said that

every day five and a half thousand

teenagers in the country are getting

between toffee-chocolate, etc. Experts tobacco products near candies and addicted to tobacco products.

caution that it increases the risk of sweets to lure children.

Amendment of the COTPA Act is very

addiction in adolescents.

Famous cancer specialist and important to end the conspiracies targeting

Addressing a webinar on 'Tobacco

Freegen: Challenges and Way Ahead'

Dr. Uma Kumar, Professor at AIIMS

and head of the Department of

Rheumatology, said that tobacco companies

that make products like cigarettes

and gutka are specifically targeting

teenagers.

Citing the latest survey 'Big Tobacco

Tiny Target' conducted in 25 cities of the

Regional Director, HCG Hospital,

Bangalore, Dr. Vishal Rao, said that the

chances of addiction in adolescence are

high. So these companies are specifically

targeting them.

BJP leader and senior advocate of

Supreme Court Aman Sinha said that

the Central Government has made a

great effort to remove the deficiencies in

the Tobacco Control Laws and have pro-

these youth. This webinar was

organised by SpeakIn.

According to a study conducted by

the Ministry of Health, 14.6 per cent of

adolescents between the ages of 13 and

15 in India use some form of tobacco.

The ministry has made the draft amendments

to the COTPA laws public recently

and has sought feedback from the

people.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

17

ON THE INAUGURATION DAY

VOICED FOR UNITY

Inauguration of the President of

America Honourable Mr. Biden and the

Vice President Madam Kamala Harris

was performed in the White House

Washington, on the 20th January 2021

and was watched by millions all around

the world.

A new chapter has been added in the

history of America by madam Kamala

Harris by becoming the first Indian-

American lady to become the Vice

President of America. She is also the

first woman ever sworn in this position.

She has proved to this world that in

America, opportunities are equal for all

regardless of colour, race or belief.

India needs to learn from this that

their idea to spread Hindutva needs to

be dropped because it spreads hatred

and classifies humans through the castes

and the varnas. It also promotes segregation.

Following a few days of uproar the

dust in America has finally settled. Now

a lot of Americans have started to

understand that Mr Trump to maintain

his ruling was inciting his supporters.

Many Americans now hold of view that

he wanted to establish divide and rule in

America. Mr Modi is trying to do the

same in India. His Government is establishing

division through introduction of

the marriage Acts. These acts are being

introduced to stop inter caste marriages

taking place.

Baba Sahib Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar

and Savita Ji (his second spouse) ended

this taboo by their marriage in 1948 but

after eight years, their happy marriage

ended in the year 1956 through demise

of Dr Ambedkar.

She was not just an ordinary person.

She was a medical officer and also was

an activist. Their love blossomed and

they both decided to get married.

By marrying Dr Ambedkar, Savita Ji

broke all the caste barriers to show that

all the mankind are same. None is better

that the other by birth. To consider that

one is better than other through birth is

a false assumption. Savita Ji and Dr

Ambedkar Sahib opened the door to

inter caste marriages.

Unfortunately, Mr Modi and his

associates, now to establish Hindu

supremacy in India are finding ways to

bring an end to the inter caste marriages.

Sati in the olden times was introduced

to maintain Brahmin code of

purity and superiority by birth. Upon

demise of her husband the widow had to

offer herself to Agni. This was done to

stop her mingling with the Adhivasi (the

natives of India).

If Kamala Harris was in India, it is

quite likely that she may not have been

able to marry someone of her own

choice because a lot of opposition

would have arose against her.

The present Government is introducing

very inhumane marriage acts. They

are passing ordinances that one can only

marry in his own caste. If

someone wants to marry

from another caste then he

will have to submit a written

application to the authorities

to seek permission.

Whatever decision they

make will be bounding? If

they disapprove then the

marriage will not go forward.

What is India heading

to? The choices and the

Democratic rights of the

people are being stolen. The

trust of the people towards

the Indian Judiciary has been damaged.

The citizens of India do not know

– M. Teji

who to turn to. The policing practises

are corrupt. The evidences of the murders

through rape are being destroyed

by burning their bodies in the open

fields in the middle of the

night in presence of the

police.

Education in India since

sometime is being privatised

to stop the poor reaching the

Universities because friendships

develop in the

Universities and end as couples.

The marriages between

the higher castes and the

lower castes are indeed a big

worry for the Dharma Gurus

because it affects their claim

of being superior to all by birth.

The RSS has always been against the

inter caste marriages. The BJP is offshoot

of the RSS and now has majority

in the Government and are passing laws

those will eventually bring the majority

below the poverty line.

The three farm laws in question have

been introduced with this in mind that

eventually their land will fall into the

grab of the corporations and they will

drop below the poverty line.

The farmers have sussed out the

strategy behind this so to protect their

livelihood and the future of their coming

generations are protesting in millions

on the borders of India. They have

come from all the states of India.

For sixty days, the farmer which

includes children from six to seniors

aged ninety have slept in the tractors,

the trolleys and in the tents in icy cold

weather. Over a hundred people have

passed away but still Mr Modi is failing

to give any attention.

Honourable Mr Biden and Madam

Kamala Harris are both very considerate

persons who wholly support humanitarian

grounds. They are quite aware of the

protests going on in Delhi and many are

looking forward to see whether they can

help in any manner to ease the sufferings

endured by the farmers.

The Indian organisations in America,

England and Europe should raise a joint

voice in support of the farmers and the

muzdhurs who are been down looked by

the Indian Government.

Dr Ambedkar Sahib with a painful

heart has stated that an uneducated

higher caste TANGA WALA thinks he

is better than a Barrister because in his

heart he believes that he is superior to

all by birth.He down looks on the rest

and Mr Modi is doing the same on the

protestors protesting for their livelihood.

He has shown of no mercy for

them.

Jai Bharat, Jai Bhim

Gold demand drops to 11-year-low in 2020 on weak Q4

New Delhi : Global demand for gold

plummeted 14 per cent in 2020 to an 11-

year low of 3,759.6 tonne, showed the

the World Gold Council's latest 'Gold

Demand Trends' report.

It was the first time since 2009 that

gold demand plunged below the 4,000

tonne mark.

The decline in annual demand is

largely attributed to the 28 per cent

year-on-year (YoY) fall to 783.4 tonne

in the fourth quarter of 2020, making it

the weakest quarter since the midst of

the global financial crisis in Q2, 2008.

Gold jewellery demand in Q4 fell 13

per cent Y-o-Y to 515.9 tonne, resulting

in a full-year total of 1,411.6 tonne, 34

per cent lower than in 2019 and a new

annual low for WGC's data series, said

its statement.

While demand improved steadily

from the severely depleted numbers in

Q2, the coronavirus continued to impact

consumer behaviour, it added.

On the other hand, increased uncertainty

and policy response to the pandemic

supported annual investment

demand, which increased 40 per cent Y-

o-Y to a new high of

1,773.2 tonne.

"Most of the

growth came in the

form of gold-backed

ETFs (gold ETFs)

but was aided by bar

and coin demand

growth in H2. In

addition, evidence

suggests that overthe-counter

(OTC)

activity was also

robust throughout

the year," said the

World Gold

Council's statement.

However, in Q4

there was a notable

decline in investment

demand for gold ETFs with outflows

at 130 tonne.

Total annual gold supply also took a

hit and was 4 per cent lower y-o-y

(4,633 tonne), the largest annual fall

since 2013. The drop can be largely

explained by coronavirus-related disruption

to mine production, offset by a

marginal 1 per cent increase in recycling

to 1,297.4 tonne for 2020, as per

the WGC. Inflows into global gold

ETFs reached an annual record of 877.1

tonne, valued at $47.9 billion. An 11-

month consecutive run of positive

inflows starting in December 2019

came to a halt in November when a

recovery in sentiment

and gold price drop

led to 130 tonne of

outflows in Q4.

The US dollar

gold price returned

25 per cent in 2020

supported by investor

demand. After reaching

a record high in

August across most

currencies, the

LBMA Gold Price

PM dropped back to

$1,762.55/oz at the

end of November,

before recovering to

close the year at

$1,887.6/oz.

Demand for gold

bars and coins grew 10 per cent in Q4.

A recovery in China and India in the

second half of 2020 added to continued

strength in Western markets to lift annual

demand to 896.1 tonne, up 3 per cent.

Further, 2020 marked a record low of

1,411.6 tonne for gold jewellery

demand. Despite a quarterly recovery in

Q4, demand was unable to overcome

the continued challenges presented by

COVID-19.

Gold buying by central banks slowed

sharply in 2020, 59 per cent lower at

273 tonne. Louise Street, Senior

Markets Analyst, Research at the World

Gold Council, commented: "The impact

of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt

across the gold market throughout 2020,

and Q4 was no different. Consumers

around the world remained at the mercy

of lockdowns, economic weakness and

high gold prices, resulting in a new

annual low in jewellery demand.

"Nevertheless, despite outflows in

Q4, gold-backed ETFs saw record

annual inflows due to low interest rates

and high levels of uncertainty, highlighting

gold's role as a safe haven

asset," she said.

Adding that bar and coin demand

also saw a strong recovery in the second

half of the year, indicating stability in

the retail investor sentiments, Louise

said: "Overall, we believe the effects of

the pandemic are likely to reverberate

into Q1 2021, and possibly beyond."


18 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Netaji’s India was socialists, secular and inclusive

Netaji Subhash Bose would have

been truly proud of India and its military

might,’ said Narendra Modi in a

programme organised to commemorate

his 125th birth anniversary which actually

falls next year, 2022 but then the

current regime is ‘expert’ in political

profit and loss. Leaders become greater

or lesser with the purpose of his ‘public

image value’. Anyway, it is ironic that

Hindu rights are trying to grab the legacy

of Subhash Chandra Bose which he

despised and his Azad Hind Fauz and its

composition reflect how he was proud

of India’s multi cultural, multi ethnic

heritage.

The one person who was glorified up

to the hill without reading and understanding

his work and ideas has been

Subhash Chandra Bose. This is the best

way by the Brahmanical elite to make

mystery of every icon and cleverly side

step their ideas. They did it with Dr

Ambedkar and then Bhagat Singh but

somehow failed because the ideological

legacy of both of them has been very

powerful and fascinating to ignore.

Secondly, it was not the government but

people who got those ideas published.

In relation to Subhash Chandra Bose,

there is an irony and perhaps the historians

felt a bit shy of his association with

the fascists in Germany and Japan. After

the defeat of these powers in the second

world war, it would have been difficult

for any leader having any association

with them. The legacy of Fascist power

in Germany remains in the minds of the

people and the ugly head of them continues

to haunt Europe and America.

There is no doubt that Subhash

Chandra Bose’s efforts to mobilise support

from Germany and Japan that time

was purely on the basis of liberating

India as he felt strongly about the

British exploitation in India. His differences

with Congress leadership or even

the communist leader M N Roy became

evident when he opposed their support

for the war efforts against Fascists as he

felt these parties and leaders were compromising.

His book ‘ The Indian

Struggle 1920-1934 is a great representation

of his ideas about India. He asked

Savarkar and Jinnah to leave their association

and praise with the British and

join hand with him but both declined.

Even when Netaji took support from

the Japanese to get India liberated and

to counter British power, it is important

to understand his idea about India and a

party which will think new about India

will have legitimacy. He felt that

Congress has not spoken about the honourable

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

release of

those Indians

who have

been incarcerating in the jail for their

act of ‘militancy’. Among them, he

mention the heroic of the Garhwalis (

the legends of Garhwal Rifles) who did

not fire upon their own fellow countrymen

simply because they happen to be

Muslims. It is strange that Congress

leadership including Gandhi did nothing

on this front.

But the most interesting part of

Subhash Babu’s idea of India is that ‘ all

privileges, distinctions and vested interests

will have to be abolished to bring

social, economic and political equality.

He further emphasise, free India will not

be a land of capitalists, landlords, and

castes. Free India will be social, economic

and political democracy. He also

speaks about depressed classes and their

representation.

Todays rulers must read Subhash

Chandra Bose through is ideological

view point and not to worship his military

uniform. The problem with them is

that they are dead against socialism and

equality and worship ‘weaponisation’

and ‘militarism’. How would Subhash

Chandra Bose proud when people are

being divided and segmented further ?

How would he see a community being

targeted just

because of its

identity ? How

would he be

proud to see

farmers committing

suicide and being termed as anti

national ? Azad Hind Radio reflected

India’s diversity as it used to broadcast

its messages in Hindi, English, Bangla,

Telugu, Tamil and Pashto. Will the

rulers of today stop imposing Hindi and

respect diversity of languages in India.

It is amusing to see Hindutva grabbing

Subhash Chandra Bose in Bengal

while completely ignoring Shyama

Prasad Mukherjee. Let the BJP seek

vote in the name of Shyama Prasad

Mukherjee in Bengal and find out how

much support will they get. It is important

because Netaji is icon of inclusive

India and you cant use him for your

divisive ideas and actions. His ‘ Jai

Hind’ was the salutation of an ideal

modern India which consist of all communities,

Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs,

Christians and many more. Those who

speak about unilateralism and older

thoughts cant really claim the legacy of

the man who was completely modern

and felt India will only be strengthened

by encouraging scientific thinking, fair

representation of all including peasants,

depressed classes, trade unions etc and

of course intellectual discourse.

It is time to study and disseminate

the ideological legacy of Subhash

Chandra Bose to common people to

understand what kind of India he wanted

and only then the attempt to capture

the legacy by those who were opposed

to his ideas wont be able to do so.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

The Sikh brotherhood does deserve

a lot of credit. They have done the

unthinkable. Where the leaders have

failed to unite the people they have

started the movement that has united

the Kisaan and the Muzdhur Unions on

one platform.

Mr Modi has an agenda to establish

Hindu Rashtra all over India. The laws

he is pushing through the Parliament

are making pathway for it.

He wants to bring the people

throughout India below the poverty line

so it will weaken their moral to stop

them raising any resistance towards

introduction of the Hindutva.

Without any warning he has

changed the currency notes. Normally

the Kisaans and the Muzdhurs do not

have bank accounts because they do not

have enough cash that necessitate banking.

Through this change of currency

notes, millions of people have suffered.

The idea again behind this was to stop

them using any savings they have in

their possession. The purpose behind

this was to weaken their status so it

would stop them from putting obstacles

in the path of Hindu Rashtra.

Mr Modi has also authorised Anti-

National ruling. Under this ruling the

activists fighting for the rights of the

lower castes are being jailed as Anti-

Nationals. Whoever raises a voice for

his/her Constitutional right is classed as

an Anti-National.

Who are anti-Nationals?

(a) Is it people who are fighting

for their Constitutional rights or

(b) The people who are through

terror in the name of Dharma are

enforcing Hindutva.

The answer would be (b).

Mr Modi so far has had his own way.

His confidence has reached a point

where he has started to feel that he can

pass the laws to his own liking.

He declared lock down and put

THE SIKH GAIN

WORLDWIDE

RESPECT

restrictions for all to remain indoors. the protest to Delhi.

January and in the evening

During this period he introduced three On the way

gave new road plans to be

farm laws without any consultation and Harianna also

followed. Tractor marches

proper debate in the Parliament. He joined in the

started from four borders and

was confident that because of the lock protest. Harianna

all had different maps to follow.

down there would be no opposition. Police on Mr.

From Singu border the

He was wrong because the Kisaans

in Punjab came out on the roads in

protest of these three farm laws because

Modi's instructions

tried to stop the

protest but failed.

march started in two parts,

one went for the Ring Road

and the other followed the

they could see that they were to benefit On the 26th

instructions as per map. The

Ambani and Adani Corporations. They November 2020

ones who followed the Ring

could also see that their lands will be they reached Delhi

Road ended in Red Fort.

taken over by the corporations and their and since the

Here they hailed the Kisaan

livelihood is going to be effected.

In explanation, Mr Modi came on

protest has been

ongoing on its borders.

and the Guru Govind Singh

Ji's flag.

They have done this to ful-

the TV and assured them that they were

for their benefit and put the blame on Following

– M. Teji

fil the tradition of the Sikhs

the other parties for fuelling the situation.

eleven meetings

who have fought wars to free

The Kisaans weren't convinced by with the

Delhi. They have already

his explanation so from the roads, they

took their protest on to the railway

tracks and the trains came to a halt. For

two months they protested on the railway

tracks but Mr Modi ignored their

request to repeal the three farm laws.

Having realised that Mr Modi was

failing to respond, they decided to take

Government no conclusion was reached

so a tractor march on the Republican

Day (26 January 2021) was planned to

take place on the Ring Road of Delhi.

Thousands of tractors from all over

India had come to Delhi and participated

in this tractor march. The police

objected to Ring Road so on the 25th

hailed Guru Govind Singh Ji's flag in

Red Fort for 19 times and have done

this time again because they are fighting

the war against the Government to

save the livelihood of the Kisaans and

Muzdur population.

The Kisaan and Muzdhur protest has

had worldwide recognition. The Vice

President of America Madam Kamala

Harris has also shown of her concern

for the protest because in the conditions

the protestors are living on the borders

of Delhi. America, UK, Australia and

Europe have also expressed of their

concern.

For this tractor march Mr. Modi and

his Government is responsible. Over

150 deaths have resulted because of the

three bias farm laws but they have

failed to show any sympathy.

This tractor march will be remembered

as an historical event of the year

2021.

The Democracy in India is in danger

because the Indian Constitution is being

targeted to be replaced by Manusmirity.

Mr Modi is purposely ignoring the

request for repeal of the three farm

Laws because he has an agenda to

establish Hindutva.

He wants to bring ruling of the four

Varnas. (Brahmin, Kshatariya, Vaish

and Shudra). Brahmins are going to be

the religious gurus. Kshatariya is going

to be the Army, the Navy and the Air

Force. Vaisha are going to be the

Corporations and Shudra are going to

be the labouring force and they will be

depended on above three.

To maintain the system of the Four

Varnas, the Shudra need to be kept

below the poverty line and this is the

reason why Mr Modi is resilient to

repeal these three farm laws. The

Muzdhur, the Kisaan and all the other

labouring communities according to

him fall in the Sudra category.

India does not need return of the

Varna system. Prime Minister Late Lal

Bhadur Shasteri Ji stated that the

Kisaan and the Jawaans protecting the

borders are the backbone of India and

should be honoured the respect they

deserve. He is even today honoured by

millions as the best Prime Minister of

India.

Jai Bharat.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

19

Savita Ambedkar, a ‘social worker

in her own right’ who kept

BR AMBEDKAR’S legacy alive

Savita Ambedkar, the wife of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, was a close witness

to his contributions in framing the Indian Constitution.

BY PIA KRISHNANKUTTY

New Delhi: Savita Bhimrao

Ambedkar, also known as ‘Mai’ or

‘Maisaheb’, was a medical practitioner

and the second wife of Dr Bhimrao

Ramji Ambedkar, one of India’s most

powerful social reformers and father of

the Indian Constitution.

Savita was a close witness to his contributions

in framing the Constitution.

She was also present during his induction

into Buddhism at Deekshabhoomi

in Nagpur. In an unpublished preface to

his last book The Buddha and His

Dhamma, Ambedkar credited Savita

and his personal doctor, Dr Malvankar,

for nursing him back to health during

the five years while he was writing the

book.

Savita was, however, blamed for

Ambedkar’s death in December 1956.

There were conspiracy theories that she

had poisoned Ambedkar with a glass of

buttermilk or suffocated him with a pillow,

said archivist Vijay Surwade, who

has dedicated his life to collecting memorabillia

concerning Ambedkar.

The rumours even prompted the government

to launch an inquiry into

Ambedkar’s death but the probe ruled

out any foul play.

Many have also doubted her commitment

to the Dalit-Buddhist movement

because of her Brahmin roots, despite

her converting to Buddhism along with

Ambedkar. A researcher and an

Ambedkarite, Sadanand Fulzele, has

said, “The people of Maharashtra had

many misgivings about her, and think

that she gave Babasaheb a slow poison.

Once, (Ramdas) Athawale tried to bring

her to the dais at a party event, but the

people did not accept her.”

Fulzele added that those who took an

extreme stance on Savita’s role were

seen as more legitimate at the time,

while those taking a more neutral view

were believed as betraying the cause.

Savita died on 29 May 2003 at the

J.J. Hospital in Mumbai after a prolonged

illness. She was 94-year-old at

the time of her death. Prime Minister

Atal Bihari Vajpayee had expressed

grief over her death, and called her

Ambedkar’s “principal source of inspiration”

and “a great social worker, in her

own right”. On her 112nd birth anniversary

Wednesday, ThePrint takes a look

at the woman who stood behind

Ambedkar and the many ways in which

she helped preserve his legacy.

Early life, letters to Ambedkar &

marriage

Born on 27 January 1909, Savita

hailed from Dorla village in Ratnagiri

district of Maharashtra. Her maiden

name was Sharda Kabir, which she later

changed to Savita Ambedkar. Savita’s

father was a registrar of the Indian

Medical Council.

She completed her early education in

Pune and obtained her MBBS degree

from Grant Medical College, Mumbai

in 1937. After briefly working as a chief

medical officer at a hospital in Gujarat,

she came to Mumbai where she met

Ambedkar, who was suffering from diabetes

and blood pressure at the time.

The two exchanged around 40-50 letters

for a year after that. Ambedkar

would pen letters that were 18-25

pages-long, said Surwade. In one of the

letters to Savita in February 1948,

Ambedkar had discussed the blurring of

his private and public life. “You have

not cared to inquire into my past,” he

wrote. “But it will be available to you at

any time in the pages of many Marathi

magazines.” The two married on 15

April 1948 in New Delhi, 13 years after

the death of Amebdkar’s first wife,

Ramabai.

Keeping Ambedkar’s legacy alive

After Ambedkar’s death, Savita

spoke at many conferences and public

events concerning the Dalit-Buddhist

movement and contributed to the cause,

Surwade said. She also introduced figures

like former Union minister Chinta

Mohan, who often speaks out against

caste discrimination and the importance

of upholding Ambedkar’s legacy, to politics.

Savita was instrumental in setting

up the Symbiosis Society’s Dr

Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum and

Memorial in Pune that was inaugurated

in 1996. In 1982, 26 years after

Ambedkar’s death, she began donating

many of his belongings for the construction

of a museum by the Symbiosis

Society. Today, the museum preserves

and displays many of the social

reformer’s books and manuscripts, his

violin, silver-framed spectacles, the

Bharat Ratna medal and more. Until

2001, Savita visited the museum every

year on Ambedkar’s birth and death

anniversaries, said the director of the

memorial. It was also her and other

extended members of his family who

granted permission to the government

for publication of Ambedkar’s complete

writings. Savita was consulted during

the making of a feature film on

Ambedkar’s life that was directed by

Jabbar Patel and released in 2000. Actor

Mrinal Dev-Kulkarni, best known for

her role in the popular TV serial Son

Pari, played the role of Savita.

Courtesy : The Print

UK unveils cash boost

scheme to help businesses

London : The UK government

has unveiled a 1,000-

pound ($1,374) cash boost

scheme to help businesses with

the cost of providing a traineeship

aimed at helping young

people with jobs.

"The new scheme will support

young people to gain the

skills and experience they need

from the very start, helping them

to get a job, an apprenticeship, or

pursue further study," a joint

statement issued on Wednesday

by the Department for Education

and the Treasury said.

The funding is expected to be

available until July 31 this year,

Xinhua news agency reported.

Businesses providing new

traineeship opportunities will

receive the 1,000 pounds bonus

for every trainee they take on

with up to a maximum of 10

trainees, said the document.

The announcement came as

the UK's unemployment rate

estimate for people aged 16

years and over surged to 5 per

cent for the period between

September to November 2020,

the Office for National Statistics

(ONS) said on Tuesday.

An estimated 1.72 million

people were unemployed in the

three months, 418,000 more than

a year earlier and 202,000 more

than the previous quarter, as the

country's labour market continued

to be hit significantly by the

Covid-19 pandemic.

"The annual increase was the

largest since October to

December 2009, with unemployment

reaching its highest level

since July to September 2015,"

said the ONS.

England is currently under the

third national lockdown since

the outbreak of the pandemic in

the country.

Similar restriction measures

are also in place in Scotland,

Wales and Northern Ireland.


20 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Attempt to vilify the farmers Protests will not

create a healthy atmosphere for negotiations

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

The tractor rally on Republic Day in

Delhi allegedly turned violent at several

places as the protesters clashed with the

police and tried to remove the barricade

but these incidents could be termed as

stray as given the nature of it things

could have gone out of control.

Ofcourse, the attempt to run through a

tractor trolley in and around ITO and

then hoisting the flag at the Red Fort,

could have been avoided but then any

movement which ignited people, fill

them with the feeling of an uncaring and

irresponsible state.

The problem is not about supporting

or condoning the violence of either

farmers or police. That India is deeply

divided on caste and religious line is a

fact today. A few days back when the

US President Joe Bidan’s Presidential

office was inaugurated, each speaker

emphasised about building up bridges

and working to bring people together. In

India, the ruling party, its leaders, ministers

continue to spew venom and

speak in a language of ‘we versus

them’. Sadly, it reflects their strategy to

allow the movement to be prolonged

and then create differences among them

and use them for political and corporate

profit.

In fact, a few days back, I was asked

about the farmers' protests by a friend

and I sincerely informed him that if it is

prolonged then I fear, it could be used

by BJP because longer a protest, bigger

the changes of its getting derailed from

the original motives. Also, RSS and BJP

has used the contradictions to suit their

political interest hence the decision of

Kisan March with tractor on Republic

Day was great to ignite the spirit of the

people but had risk of getting out of

hand if not properly managed. It is

important for all of us to understand that

a movement or protest which is prolonged

might go out of hand of the

political leaders and therefore they have

bigger responsibility when giving such

a call.

There are many who are using these

platforms to strengthen their ‘political

clout’ and looking for some ‘miracle’ to

happen that ‘establishes’ them on the

‘national scene’. In the social media

digital age, protests are fast becoming

‘event managements’ led by powerful

groups. It may look beautiful in the age

of ‘fake narrative’ created by diverse

pro and anti-groups but anything which

is a ‘platform’ fast brings diverse groups

into it. The fight for the rights of the

farmers and agricultural workers is too

big an issue to be handled by one or two

organisations. And therefore, it should

have been there in the minds of the

organisers when they gave a call for the

tractor march in Delhi that some people

might hijack the protest and defame the

entire protest which has been peaceful

so far.

It is also surprising that Delhi, UP

and Haryana police did not have a proper

coordination. When you start lathicharging

tractors and stopping people

once it has been allowed, the result will

be chaos and anarchy. Police need proper

training, persuasion skills with mass

movements. You can't criminalise a

protest through such a beastly attitude.

Most of the time violence happens when

a situation comes where physical power

becomes more important and negotiations

fail. Why should people be disallowed

to participate in a rally? Why

can’t our republic day and other national

events become people’s festivals like

the religious festivals we celebrate so

powerfully?

The biggest villain in this entire exercise

is our ruling party and its public

relations media who have been trying to

find ways and means to demean these

protests. ‘ No protest should turn violent’,

we must not allow violence, many

‘moaned’ , it is a ‘threat to democracy’

suggesting many, it is terrorism said

those who demolished Babari masjid

and celebrated it. Let us see this dubious

role of the Brahmanical media in India

related to ‘movements.

The first big political unrest happened

in 1989 related to acceptance of

Mandal Commission Report and the

entire media was up in arms against V P

Singh. So much so that even the ‘secular’

patrakars abused VP in the worst

ever language. One of the most honest

and efficient political leaders of our

time was made a brutal politician. Even

today, the Savarna journalists, activists

abuse him the most. The media supported

the savarana students' protest against

Mandal and showed ‘police brutalities.

In October 1990, the same media supported

the Ram mandir campaign

launched by BJP and RSS and several

Sangh karyakarta termed as ‘karsevaks’

were killed in police firing. The BJP and

Sangh made them ‘shaheeds’ and spoke

loudly against police violence.

After that the first major crisis

against the government came in the

form of Anna Movement which was

wholeheartedly supported by the savarna

media. Many thought that all decisions

should be taken at Ram Leela

Ground and Kejriwal was looking to be

the ‘prime minister’ of the country.

Immediately after Anna, we had the

Nirbhaya case when police barricading

was broken and Delhi saw ‘revolution’.

It made and unmade many new netas.

We all know that Anna and Nirbhaya

narrative helped the BJP and RSS in not

only dislodging congress but vilifying

the Gandhi family permanently. After

Modi assumed power we saw many

protest movements such students

against Rohit Vemula’s institutional

murder, JNU students movement, farmers

movement and anti CAA-NRC

protests. All these protests had been

massive and spontaneous but shamefully,

our media anchors made every effort

to discredit them. They stood with the

power, the

mighty state and

its brutal police

force. During

the Mandal period,

Newstrack

of India today showed visuals of police

beating students and carrying the dead

body of a person in an undignified way

and helped create a false narrative

against V P Singh, despite the fact when

he appealed to students to stop protesting.

Contrary to this, Narendra Modi

has never bothered to speak about the

issues to farmers. He does not speak and

his party people, rather than taking

things seriously, launch offensive, term

farmers as terrorists.

As I said, no movement can be

peaceful if a solution does not come.

Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra

Bose differed with Congress and

Gandhi because they felt that Gandhi as

well as the party were compromising

with the British and did not utter a word

about Chandra Singh Garhwali and his

brave soldiers of Garhwal Rifles who

refused to fire on their own countrymen.

That was unprecedented. During the

emergency JP called the police and military

not to obey the orders of the government

How can that JP whose political

chelas are in power ignore that factor.

Violence of a movement should be

seen in its size and not because it happened.

Whatever happened at many

places in Delhi was a serious breach of

trust but for that you can't blame the

entire movement because no one party

can claim to lead it. The commonality

between the aggressive and not so

aggressive groups are the farm laws. If

the government really wants people to

despise violence, then it is time for our

political leaders to encourage and support

leaders who are democratic and

support negotiations but when the government

itself fails in conveying the

message that it wants to resolve the

issue, then anxiety creates anarchy.

Violence is not merely what you witnessed

in the streets but also that which

is being unleashed institutionally and

verbally. We can not ignore the violent

messages and abusive language at our

TV channels, social media and by the

political class. We can and should not

condone the police brutalities. At the

end brutalities and violence do not take

us to any logical conclusion. It only

spread hatred and divisions. The people

who have been violent and resorted to

police brutalities against democratic

protests are today giving us sermons on

democracy and non violence.

Non Violence does not come from

sermons and lectures. No society will

remain non violence if its institutions

are collapsing and where people feel

justice is not coming. The institutions of

democracy have to show their autonomy

and deep respect for democratic

republican values. Democracy is not

merely people and public gatherings or

right to abuse. Democracy is the autonomy

of our institutions and how the

check and balances work to strengthen

people’s rights. Democracy and nonviolence

will never be our stronger

points when we have a corrupt and

thuggish media attempting to manipulate

the information and vilifying the

opponents of the ruling party. Each of

our institutions, political parties, judiciary,

media and political Executive have

actually failed in performing their duty

in protecting people’s rights. Selective

outrage has become a hallmark of our

‘democracy’. Our heart beats for those

who spread hatred and they get defended

through the court of law in the name

of freedom of expression but the same

can not happen with a cartoonist who is

arrested for an act he would have done

though did not do. It can only happen in

theocratic countries where you can

arrest anyone, make any case and punish

him. No democracy will flourish in

such a degrading situation.

It is good that the Samykta Kisan

Sangharsh Samiti has dissociated with

the Delhi violence and condemned it

unequivocally. Good that the people

have returned. Once the temperature

cools down, the government must start

negotiations. The protest is against three

laws which are unjust and the government

should not hide behind the January

26th violence. The resolution to the

issues will only come through constructive

negotiations. Any further delay in it

will ultimately hurt the interest of India.

It is time, the government must not

allow vilification of farmers on TV

channels. Violence happens in movement

when there is oppression and as

most of the farmers organisations have

already condemned it, time is to come

back to the negotiating table and the

best way could be to repeal the laws and

show that the power really cares for

Indian farmers.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

21

SCHOOLS in England won't

reopen till March: UK PM

London : UK Prime Minister Boris

Johnson has said that schools in

England will not reopen after the halfterm

break next month, but there is hope

that they can resume from early March.

While addressing lawmakers in the

House of Commons (lower house of

Parliament) on Wednesday, he acknowledged

parents' frustration with school

closure and hopes to begin reopening

England's schools from March 8,

reports Xinhua news agency.

A firm decision would be taken in the

week of February 22, after the spring

half-term, which is the date the government

had originally hoped schools

would reopen, he added.

The March 8 date was based on the

thinking that if the National Health

Service (NHS) is successful in vaccinating

the four most vulnerable groups by

mid-February, he noted, adding that

there was no enough data yet to decide

when to end the current lockdown.

His government hopes other lockdown

restrictions could begin to be

gradually eased at some point after

schools reopen, but pupils returning to

class would be the "first sign of normality",

the Prime Minister added.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main

opposition Labour Party, called on the

Johnson-led government to "use the

window" of the February half-term to

vaccinate all teachers and support staff.

Johnson said teachers in the top nine

priority groups would be vaccinated as a

"matter of priority".

More than 6.8 million people in

Britain have received their first dose of

a coronavirus vaccine, the latest official

figures showed. The UK is on track to

deliver a first dose to 15 million of the

most vulnerable by mid-February and to

offer all adults their first dose by

autumn, according to vaccine minister

Nadhim Zahawi. England is currently

under the third national lockdown since

the outbreak of the pandemic in the

country. Similar restriction measures

are also in place in Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland.

As of Thursday morning, the country's

coronavirus caseload and death toll

stood at 3,725,637 and 102,085, respectively.

UK records another 25,308

coronavirus cases, 1,725 deaths

DELHI POLICE

issues lookout circular

against farmer leaders

New Delhi : The Delhi

Police have issued a lookout circular

against the farmer leaders

named in FIRs in connection

with the violence that broke out

during the Republic Day tractor

rally. The police said the

process of surrender of their

passports will also be initiated

to ensure they do not leave the

country. A total of 37 farmer

leaders, including Rakesh

Tikait, Darshan Pal, Gurnam

Singh Chanduni, Rajinder

Singh, Balbir Singh Rajewal,

Boota Singh Burj Gil, Yogendra

Yadav, Medha Patkar, Avik

Saha and Joginder Singh

Ugraha have been named in the

FIRs for breach of NOC (no

objection certificate) issued

regarding the farmers' tractor

rally by the police.

The case against the farmers

has been registered under various

sections of the Indian Penal

Code, including 147, 148 (related

to rioting), 120B (criminal

conspiracy) and 307 (attempt to

murder).

According to the official figures,

394 policemen were

injured in the violence. Most of

them are hospitalised while

some are in the ICU. More than

25 criminal cases have been

registered, 19 people have been

arrested and as many as 50 protesters

are detained.

are analysing the video

footage available to identify the

violent protesters who damaged

the public property and attacked

the police personnel on January

26.

London : Another 25,308

people in Britain have tested

positive for Covid-19, bringing

the total number of coronavirus

cases in the country to

37,15,054, according to official

figures released on Wednesday.

The country also reported

another 1,725 coronavirus-related

deaths. The total number of

coronavirus deaths in Britain

now stands at 101,887, the data

showed.

The latest data were revealed

one day after Britain passed the

grim landmark of 1,00,000 coronavirus

deaths. These figures

only include the number of

deaths of people who had had a

positive test result for Covid-19

and died within 28 days of the

first positive test, the Xinhua

news agency reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, British

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

said he and the government take

"full responsibility" for the tragic

numbers.

Johnson told lawmakers in

the British Parliament that the

government will reflect on the

decisions taken, but he did not

think it is the right time now as

Britain remains in the middle of

the pandemic.

The government needs to

focus on keeping the virus under

control and continuing the

fastest vaccine rollout in Europe,

he said.

More than 7.1 million people

in Britain have received their

first dose of a coronavirus vaccine,

according to latest official

figures.

England is currently under the

third national lockdown since

the outbreak of the pandemic in

the country. Similar restriction

measures are also in place in

Scotland, Wales and Northern

Ireland. To bring life back to

normal, countries such as

Britain, China, Germany, Russia

and the United States have been

racing against time to roll out

coronavirus vaccines.


22 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

In Solidarity with the Farmers Movement

We call out the State Conspiracy Against the People of India, We Condemn

the Governments Attempts to Criminalize Legitimate Protest

Today at the Press Club in Delhi a

group of senior academics, activists

and lawyers, stood in support of the

on-going farmers movement, to

strongly condemn the government s

attempt to criminalize and break a

legitimate people s movement.

Despite the clear, unequivocal condemnation

by farmers leaders, of any

violence on January 26, the government

has activated the criminal justice

machinery to lodge FIRs against them

under a range of criminal laws,

including shockingly an anti-terror

law, the UAPA. This is now becoming

a familiar playbook of the ruling

establishment, last seen in the winter

of 2019, when the equal citizenship

movement against the CAA-NRC,

and its young leadership, was similarly

vilified, terrorized, charged under

UAPA, and arrested. The speakers

demanded an unconditional withdrawal

of these motivated FIRs

against the leadership of the farmers

movement, calling it a brazen misuse

of the police and the law to silence

people s legitimate democratic

expression.

The fake State narrative of the

farmers movement as a violent conspiracy

against India, is an exact

copy-paste of the narrative we saw

last year around the anti-CAA movement,

once again being spun to try

and tar and supress the democratic

Mission 2022, U.P.

Bahujan Samaj Party or

Aazad Samaj Party

Uttar Pradesh elections will be held in 2022.

After facing several defeats will Bahujan Politics change its

course or keep going

downhill ? After Aazad

Samaj Party and its

leader, Advocate Chandra

Shekhar s announcement

of fighting elections, this

question has resurfaced.

To make the Bahujan

Samaj ruler of the country,

Babasaheb Ambedkar

formed RPI, which unfortunately failed after him. Second major

attempt was made by Saheb Kanshi Ram on 14th April, 1984

through BSP. After he passed away, it met the same fate as RPI.

Now, Advocate Chandra Shekhar is on a new endeavour with ASP.

After RPI and BSP will ASP provide alternative to Bahujan

Politics ?

There are different views on this.

According to some, ASP s decision to fight elections will further

split Bahujan Samaj, which is already divided between SP-

BSP in Uttar Pradesh.

Advocate Chandra Shekhar is accused of being in a haste. Some

suggest, that he should stick to social movements and leave the

arena of politics to BSP.

His struggle for Bahujan Samaj is getting recognition. Will it

get converted to votes, people are apprehensive.

But if ASP doesn t fight elections, will BSP be able to stop

RSS-BJP in U.P ?

In 2017, when BSP fought alone; RSS-BJP swept the U.P elections.

BSP won only 19 out of 403 MLAs.

In 2019, it allied with Samajwadi Party but they still won 62 out

of 80 MPs. So, whether BSP fights 2022 elections alone or in

alliance; won t be able to stop RSS-BJP.

In all this political upheaval, the majority Bahujan Samaj with

85% population is pushed to the margins; while the minority

Savarn Samaj(Brahmin, Baniya, Thakur) with only 15% population

has seized power. According to some, the sudden rise of RSS-

BJP is not due to the failure of Bahujan parties and leaders but

hacking of EVM machines. But the real reason for RSS-BJP s success

is its grassroot leaders; while almost all opposition parties are

caught in nepotism. Their Prince-Princess have become a laughing

stock against RSS-BJP cadres. Whether elections are held in States

or at the Centre today are fought more on the image of leaders

than parties. The more powerful and charismatic leader any community

has, the more chances it has of forming government.

In these circumstances, will Bahujan Samaj head towards

establishing a new political outfit through ASP and Advocate

Chandra Shekhar ? Only 2022 election results can answer this.

For now Bahujan Politics, which is caught in a dilemma for

sometime, seems to be making an effort to finally come out of it.

– Satvinder Manakh

Attempt to vilify and intimidate the

farmers movement will fail. The modus

operandi of those guiding the north block is

amply known to all who have followed

their actions since 2002. First try to intimidate

a protest followed by efforts to prolong

it deliberately, then create disturbance

among them by infiltrating anti social elements

in these movements. The shameless

loudspeakers will then build up a national

anti national narrative seeking strong

action against the anti national . The party

goons will then be sent as locals to raise

slogans against the movement. The media

will be in full swing to cater the demand

for action. Police and paramilitary will be

mobilised and then when the movement is

discredited than intimidate leaders and

brutally suppress the movement.

If you see the administrative efforts by

bringing thousands of police to the protest

sites and look out notices against the

farmer leaders and vilifying them as criminals,

it is the same chronology that we saw

in Shaheen Bagh which was one of the

finest forms of protests that democratic

India saw in recent years. These protests

are definitely event managements too yet

they come through new ideas. Of course, a

prolonged protest help the government to

create divisions and then act once violence

happen.

In democracy, the ruling party has to

show its willingness to understand what the

people want and not work day and night to

vilify them just to please the few cronies

who might be funding them.

In the last few years we are witnessing

this trend of criminalising activists and

demonising them. The victims are being

victimised. FIRs in most of the cases are

filed against everyone making work of

police more difficult as they look like

sarkari Babus then managing the law and

order. Law has become new tactics in the

hands of those who never cared for it when

they were in the opposition or when Babari

Masjid was demolished.

I have seen those period of Mahendra

Singh Tikait in the Western Uttar Pradesh,

his first protest at Shamli in the early 1980s

when the sarkari officials would not go to

collect Bijali bills from the farmers. The

movement established Mahendra Singh

Tikait and slowly diluted the leadership of

voices of our people. Violent mobs are

being deliberately incited, to target

individual farmers leaders and at

protest sites. Again, a page from the

familiar playbook of last year.

The speakers drew attention to the

section of a subservient media that is,

once again, pushing these lies.

Several speakers spoke of the completely

peaceful nature of large sections

of the farmers rally on January

26th, where with pride and the tricolour

aloft their thousands of tractors,

farmers made their way into the

capital city of their republic. This

vision of a people s democracy on display

was entirely obliterated by the

mainstream media, and only the discordant

violence by some, was made

the dominant story. Any individual

striking even a marginally different

note to the dominant state-sponsored

narrative, is now been targeted.

Speakers expressed alarm at how senior

journalists and public figures, have

been charged with sedition among

other criminal sections of the IPC,

simply for a tweet, that was retracted.

The Press conference was

addressed by Senior Advocate

Prashant Bhushan, Secretary of the

Gandhi Peace Foundation - Kumar

Prashant , Activist Shabnam Hashmi,

Economist Atul Sood, Scientist and

Co-Convener of the Nation For

Farmers Dinesh Abrol. The speakers

the Chaudhuary Charan Singh family.

Political parties play these games deliberately

to weaken the established opponents.

Congress did it during the Anna movement

as many of them felt that it will help them

but it boomeranged. Now, Uttar Pradesh

saw the same.

Rakesh Tikait is at the moment, the

biggest leaders of the farmers movement

here and efforts to intimidate him through

criminal actions only backfired as farmers

from all the western Uttar Pradesh districts

started moving towards Ghazipur border as

per newspaper reports. Now, reports are

coming that excessive police presence is

removed as Rakesh Tikait has called to

strengthen the cause of the farmers. It is

heartening to see that farmers have realised

the sinister game plan to break their movement

and malign it.

During emergency time people use to

call Akashwani and Doordarshan as dirty

trick department but today the loudspeakers

in the media houses have played worst

than what we saw during the emergency.

All of them, funded by the cronies, in the

heart of their heart wanted that government

show strong will to crush the movements.

They were doing every bit to delegitimise

the movement as all through the years

appealed to all Indians to organize day

long fast, All Religion Prayer

Meetings, in their respective towns and

cities, at 5. 17 pm or protest on January

30, on the occasion of Shaheed Diwas,

the day Gandhiji was assassinated, in

solidarity with the farmers movement.

In Delhi the prayer meeting will be

held at the Gandhi Peace Foundation,

near ITO. On Behalf Of Concerned

Citizens of Delhi.

In solidarity

Sanjeev Kumar

Secretary

Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar

Manch (DASAM)

Convener National Alliance of

People s Movements (NAPM)

Understand the chronology

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

accept the Ram Temple movement, they

opposed every movement by people and

build narrative to criminalise the opponents

of the Sarkar.

As I said, in democracy, we do not speak

of victory or loss but our common goal,

shared heritage. Farm leaders have shown

great strength and called out for action

against those who instigated violence and

went through a different rout but in the

garb of that you can not blame the entire

movement which has remained absolutely

peaceful so far. Those who unleashed violence

should be booked but that does not

mean that the demands of the farmers are

wrong.

Indian agriculture need serious

thoughts. We need laws which can be helpful

to farmers and not to the cronies who

want to control the entire sector. The government

need to consult all particularly the

farmers as well as farm workers. We

demand land reforms so that landless people

can get land and engage in family farming

as the UN has declared the entire

decade that of family farming. We do not

seem to have an agenda for the same. It is

time the government show its magnanimity,

repeal the laws and sit with all the stakeholders

to draft a new law which help all.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Most Indians facing difficulty

in managing their expenses

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021

23

Over 72% say inflation

has been unchecked

since Modi became PM

New Delhi : A majority of Indians are finding it difficult to

manage their expenses, showed an IANS-CVoter pre-budget

survey. Around 65.8 per cent respondents in the survey said that

current expenses have become difficult to manage, while 30 per

cent people said that although expenses have gone up, they are

in manageable limits.

A miniscule 2.1 per cent of the respondents said that their

expenses have gone down in the past one year and another 2.1

per cent could not respond on the matter.

The survey also showed that with a massive impact of the

pandemic on businesses and people's earnings, purchasing

power of most Indians weakened in the past one year.

Along with the impact on the earnings of the common man,

what also affected the people are the high commodity prices,

including that of food.

For most of 2020, inflation remained at elevated levels, on the

back of high food and fuel prices.

It is because of inflationary concerns that the Reserve Bank

of India (RBI) too has kept the lending rates intact after sharp

cuts during the initial phase of the pandemic.

The survey also showed that over 70 per cent people felt the

adverse impact of high commodity prices in the past one year.

The sample size of the poll is 4,000 plus and the fieldwork for

the survey was done in third-fourth week of January 2021. The

theme of the survey is "Expectations from the Union Budget".

Police probe blaze in England

London : Police in the UK have launched an investigation

into a fire which broke out at a barracks in Kent, southeastern

England, where the government is holding hundreds of asylum

seekers, according to a media report.

Asylum seekers have been temporarily moved from the barracks

following the blaze on Friday afternoon, which was also

recently the site of a major outbreak of coronavirus, Xinhua

news agency quoted the Evening Standard newspaper as saying

in a report on Saturday.

Video footage from the scene at the barracks showed heavy

smoke and flames on Friday afternoon amid the sound of

alarms, said the newspaper.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has issued a statement to slam the

"appalling" damage.

According to the police, there have been no reported injuries

and enquiries remain ongoing to determine the cause of the fire

and establish whether any offences have been committed.

There have been reports of suicide attempts at the barracks

and more than 18,000 people signed a petition to shut the site

down amid concerns over conditions inside, said the newspaper.

The military site has been used to house about 400 asylum

seekers since September last year, despite concerns over conditions.

Fears for their welfare escalated this week after 120 people

are believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, said the

newspaper.

New Delhi : Almost three-fourths feel

that after Narendra Modi became Prime

Minister, inflation has been unchecked and

prices have gone up, as per the IANS-

CVoter Budget Tracker.

This is the highest percentage in PM

Modi's tenure, at 72.1, who feel this way

compared to a low of 17.1 per cent in 2015.

In 2020, only 10.8 per cent of the

respondents said that prices have gone

down while 12.8 per cent said nothing has

changed.

The Modi government in 2020 is getting

the worst score on the economic front since

2014. As many as 46.4 per cent said that

under Prime Minister Modi and Finance

Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the performance

of the Central government on the economic

front so far has been worse than

expected. A lesser number of 31.7 per cent

said the performance is better than expected.

This is worst score for any government

since 2010 except in 2013 when

Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister.

On the adverse impact of inflation in the

last one year, 38.2 per cent said there has

been too much impact while 34.3 per cent

said there has been a little bit impact.

Almost half the respondents said that

the quality of life has deteriorated in the

last one year. As much as 48.4 per cent said

that the overall quality of life of the 'Aam

Aadmi' or the common man has deteriorated

in the last one year while 28.8 per cent

said it has improved and 21.3 per cent said

it has remained the same.

However, there is optimism for the coming

year as 37.4 per cent respondents in the

London : Some restrictions

will have to remain in place in

the UK until the Covid-19 pandemic

is over globally, a British

health expert has warned.

"We're still going to be living

in some form of restrictions,

travel restrictions, border

controls, even when we're vaccinated,

until it's over round the

world," Xinhua news agency

quoted Clare Wenham, assistant

professor of global health

policy at the London School of

Economics and Political

Science, as saying to Sky News

on Saturday.

Wenham said even once the

whole British population had

been vaccinated, the UK would

still have to face threats posed

by resistant coronavirus variants

being brought in from outside.

"This pandemic isn't

going to be over until it's over

globally," Wenham was quoted

by Sky News as saying.

The UK is stepping up its

efforts to speed up the vaccine

rollout to bring the pandemic

survey believe that in the next one year, the

quality of life of a common man will

improve. However, 25.8 per cent still feel

that quality of life will deteriorate while

21.7 per cent say it will remain the same.

More than half said that at least Rs

20,000 per month is required for average

quality of life for a family of four while

23.6 per cent said the figure is higher at Rs

30,000 per month. A smaller percentage

said higher figures going as high as more

than Rs 1 lakh. To a question on whether

this much income should be made tax free,

as many as 81.4 per cent said yes.

There are obvious challenges on the

household front as a majority are complaining

that income has either stagnated or

under control.

More than 7.8 million people

in the country have received

their first dose of a coronavirus

vaccine, according to the latest

official figures. It aims to deliver

a first dose to 15 million of

the most vulnerable by mid-

February and to offer all adults

their first dose by autumn.

"There's a real imperative to

make sure that everybody

round the world has at least

minimum levels of vaccines at

the same time," Wenham told

Sky News.

"If we want to return to

global systems of trade and

travel we need to make sure

that the vulnerable globally are

vaccinated," she added.

England is currently under the

third national lockdown since

the outbreak of the pandemic in

gone down while expenditure has gone up.

The hardship can be gauged by the fact that

43.7 per cent said that while income has

remained the same, expenditure has gone

up while another 28.7 per cent said that

income has gone down in the last one year

while expenditure has gone up. Almost

two thirds or 65.8 per cent said that expenses

are becoming difficult to manage compared

to last year while 30 per cent said

expenses have gone up but are still manageable.

The sample size of the poll is 4,000 plus

and the fieldwork for the survey was done

in third-fourth week of January 2021. The

theme of the survey is "Expectations from

the Union Budget".

'Some restrictions to remain in UK

until pandemic is over globally'

the country.

Similar restriction measures

are also in place in Scotland,

Wales and Northern Ireland.

As of Sunday morning, the

overall number of coronavirus

cases in the UK has increased

to 3,806,993, the fourth highest

infection tally in the world. The

country's death toll currently

stands at 105,777, the fifth

highest in the world.


24 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK to impose mandatory hotel quarantine

on arrivals from 'red list' nations

London : UK Prime Minister Boris

Johnson has confirmed that the country

will impose mandatory hotel quarantine

for arrivals returning from "red list"

nations in an effort to preventing new

coronavirus variants from spreading.

Travelers who return from "red list"

countries will be placed in quarantine

in government-designated accommodation

such as hotels for 10 days, Xinhua

news agency quoted Johnson as saying

while addressing lawmakers on

Wednesday during the Prime Minister's

Questions in the House of Commons.

It is understood that travellers will

have to pay to isolate in a monitored

hotel, with coronavirus testing carried

out during their stay.

In a statement released later in the

day, the government announced further

action for outbound and inbound passengers

to minimise travel across international

borders and reduce the risk of

Covid-19 transmission.

For those wishing to travel out of the

UK, the reason for travel will be

checked. Anyone who does not have a

valid reason for travel will be directed

to return home and may face a fine,

according to the statement.

There will be an increased police

presence at ports and airports, fining

those in breach of the stay at home regulations.

The statement confirmed that

those arriving from countries where

Britain has imposed international travel

bans and who cannot be refused entry

will be required to isolate in hotels for

10 days without exception and more

details will be provided in due course.

The UK has banned all travel from

22 countries where there is a risk of

known variants including South Africa,

Portugal and South American nations.

Regarding the decision, Home

Secretary Priti Patel said: "There are

still too many people coming in and out

of our country each day. The rules are

clear -- people should be staying at

home unless they have a valid reason to

leave. Going on holiday is not a valid

reason. "As we have done throughout

this global health emergency, we will

continue to take all steps necessary to

protect the public and help prevent the

spread of the virus."

The Prime Minister in his address

also said that he and the government

take "full responsibility" after the coronavirus-related

deaths passed the

100,000 milestone on Tuesday.

"I mourn every death in this pandemic

and we share the grief of all

those who have been bereaved. I and

the government take full responsibility

Indian startups want to hire TikTok

employees affected by job cuts

New Delhi : With TikTok

announcing the decision to

scale down the size of its workforce

constituting over 2,000

employees in the country,

Indian short video platforms

like Bolo Indya and Chingari

have expressed willingness to

hire some of the affected

employees.

TikTok said it decided to

downsize the workforce in India

as it has not received a clear

direction from the government

on how and when its apps could be reinstated.

Some reports pegged the number

of employees who will be affected by

the decision at around 1,800, although

there is no official confirmation from

the ByteDance-owned platform yet.

Bolo Indya said it is looking to ramp up

its team by recruiting people from the

talent pool hit by the Chinese apps ban

in India including Bytedance platforms

like TikTok and Helo.

"It is unfortunate to see Indian talent

in a fix as a result of Chinese app ban in

India. Indians working in these companies

are highly talented, enthusiastic,

committed, and passionate to create a

positive impact," Varun Saxena, CEO

and Founder Bolo Indya, said in a statement.

"We look forward to onboard

quite a few of them where there is a

strong cultural fit as well and have them

as part of our journey to empower content

creators to transform social capital

to financial independence, and at the

same time ensure a high user delight in

consuming content on the platform."

The company had already confirmed

last week that it is in advanced talks to

raise fresh funding which shall be

utilised to ramp up the team by close to

100 per cent.

The hiring would be across domains

including business development, user

engagement, product management,

community management, content

strategy, content moderation functions,

Bolo Indya said. Besides this,

the company is also looking at filling

various Vice President and

Assistant Vice President level positions

to expand its leadership team.

Launched in May 2019, Bolo Indya

claims to have over 68 lakh monthly

active users.

Another homegrown short video

platform Chingari also said that it

will hire some of the potential talent

affected by job cuts.

"Indians are capable of doing wonders.

And our priority right now is

Indian market and in near future we will

expand our footprints," said Aditya

Kothari, Co-founder and chief strategist,

Chingari.

"The lay off is unfortunate. None of

the companies or founder wish so for his

or her employee. We will hire some of

the potential talent," he said. TikTok

featured among the 59 Chinese apps that

the government has decided to ban permanently.

The development came several

months after the government had first

banned Chinese apps temporarily last

June.

for all the actions we have taken to fight

this pandemic."

Johnson said that the government

will reflect on the decisions taken, but

he did not think it is the right time now

as Britain remains in the middle of the

pandemic.

The government needs to focus on

keeping the virus under control and

continuing the fastest vaccine rollout in

Europe, he said.

More than 7.1 million people in

New Delhi : A group of journalists

and others rallied outside the Delhi

Police Headquarters on the Jai Singh

Road here on Sunday to protest

against the arrest of freelance journalist

Mandeep Punia.

Police on Saturday arrested Punia

after alleging that he had misbehaved

with a station house officer (SHO) at

the Singhu border. Police said that he

was moving through roadblocks and

barricades when the alleged incident

took place. Calling it an 'attack on

journalism', the protesters working for

different media organsitations carried

posters and placards to show support

Britain have received their first dose of

a coronavirus vaccine, according to latest

official figures.

Asked about the government's "legacy

of poor decisions", Johnson said that

it followed scientific advice and did

everything it could to minimise suffering.

There were "no easy solutions" but

Britain could be proud of its efforts to

distribute the vaccine, he said. Calum

Semple, who sits at the government's

Scientific Advisory Group for

Emergencies, told the BBC that he

would not surprised to see more deaths

before the pandemic is brought under

control. "The deaths on the way up are

likely to be mirrored by the number of

deaths on the way down in this wave."

Talking about the high mortality, he

said that the country had experienced

some "bad luck" with the emergence of

a new, more transmissible variant,

while the country had also suffered

from "decades of underinvestment" in

the National Health Service (NHS).

The UK is the first European nation

and the fifth country in the world to

pass the grim landmark of 100,000

deaths, following the US, Brazil, India

and Mexico.

As of Thursday morning, the country's

coronavirus caseload and death

toll stood at 3,725,637 and 102,085,

respectively. England is currently under

the third national lockdown since the

outbreak of the pandemic in the country.

Similar restriction measures are

also in place in Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland.

Journalists stage protest

outside PHQ against

freelancer's ARREST

to the journalist.

Traffic movement was briefly

closed on Jai Singh Marg and Bangla

Sahib lane due to the demonstration.

"Punia has been booked under

Sections 186 of the IPC (obstructing

public servant in discharge of public

functions) and 353 (assault or criminal

force to deter public servant from

discharge of his duty). A case has been

registered at Alipur police station,"

Said a senior police officer.

Another journalist, Dharmender

Singh, was also picked up but later

allowed to go after he showed his

press ID, police said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 25

With elections in the offing, voters’ confidence in the electoral

process needs to be secured; EVM voting should abide by democracy

principles: Citizens’Commission on Elections (CCE)

In a healthy democracy, citizens are expected

to take an active interest in the process and conduct

of elections. The Election Commission of

India (ECI), set up under Article 324 of the

Constitution of India, has often worked in close

collaboration with independent organisations

dedicated to the strengthening of democracy.

Such bodies of citizens have provided valuable

feedback to the Commission and have flagged

issues of concern or alarm.

It is regrettable, therefore, that the ECI’s conduct

of the parliamentary elections of 2019

invited serious controversy and its very fairness

came to be questioned by several organisations

on very valid grounds. The Association for

Democratic Reforms, the Constitutional

Conduct Group (CCG) of former civil servants,

the Forum for Electoral Integrity, the Delhi

Science Forum, the Aman Biradari Trust, People

First and the Centre for Financial Accountability

were among several groups which were compelled

to draw public attention to the lack of

integrity of EVM voting and the ECI’s departure

from neutrality. Many political parties, mainstream

and digital media houses and civil society

groups also voiced serious apprehensions at

the manner in which the ‘model code of conduct’

was being violated by the ruling party

without adequate retribution from the ECI. On

the contrary, the ECI chose to respond to such

justified criticism with an alarming silence or by

aggressively defending its record, even when

patent infirmities were specifically pointed out

by several former civil servants who had themselves

conducted/supervised elections. Since it

was clear that the ECI was unwilling to introspect

on its failures, M.G.Devasahayam, IAS

(Retd), a distinguished retired civil servant and

an active member of several civil society

groups, took the initiative to consult other independent

civil society groups and apolitical platforms

which had

also expressed apprehensions over the ECI’s

stances. In 2019 and 2020, seminars and wideranging

public discussions were held on the

issue. One of the unanimous suggestions that

emanated from this process was the need to constitute

a body of eminent and experienced persons

with domain knowledge to delve into critical

aspects related to elections in India. The

Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) was

thus constituted, with the mandate to draw upon

expert advice where necessary and come up with

appropriate suggestions to ensure that elections

in the country are conducted with fairness and

integrity. The CCE was set up on March 5, 2020,

and comprised the following:

1. Mr. Justice Madan Lokur, former Supreme

Court Judge, Chair

2. Mr. Wajahat Habibullah IAS (Retd),

Former CIC, Vice-Chair, [CCG]

3. Mr. Justice Hari Paranthaman, former

Madras High Court Judge

4. Prof. Arun Kumar, Eminent Economist

5. Dr. John Dayal, Civil Society Activist

New Delhi : Over 70 per cent

people have felt the impact of

high commodity prices in the

past one year, according to an

IANS-CVoter pre-budget survey.

The survey showed that

38.2 per cent of respondents said

that their quality of life has been

"too much" adversely affected

due to inflation in the past one

year, and 34.9 per cent said that

the there was "little bit" of

impact. However, 26.7 per cent

6. Ms. Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist

7. Dr. Subhashis Banerjee, Professor,

Computer Science, IIT, Delhi

8. Member-Convener, Mr. Sundar Burra IAS

(Retd), [CCG]

M.G. Devasahayam [People-First and CCG]

functioned as the Coordinator of the

Commission.. The CCE went into specific areas

concerning elections. The findings of its first

sectoral report, which is being shared with the

public today, deals with the ‘infallibility’ or ‘vulnerability’

of Electronic Voting Machines

(EVMs) and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper

Audit Trail). The study was mentored by Dr

Sanjiva Prasad, Professor of Computer Science

and Engineering, IIT Delhi. The report is placed

on the web as www.reclaimtherepublic.co/report

and a summary is attached. CCE’s expert group

reviewed the functioning of EVMs primarily on

the touchstone of whether and how far their use

complied with important ‘democracy principles’

detailed in the enclosed summary. In short, it

insists on absolute transparency in facilitating

the voters’ right to choose a candidate of their

choice and in ensuring that this is faithfully

reflected in the votes stored and counted. without

the slightest deviation whatsoever.

Democracy principles also mandate that the voting

procedure is easily understandable and verifiable

by the voter and open to audit without

complications even when relevant technology is

utilised. There should be absolutely no scope for

error or misrepresentation of the elector’s

choice. The group has relied on depositions and

expert opinions of several national and international

experts and was informed of the reasons

why even the most advanced countries of the

world have preferred not to use EVMs during

polls. Among the domain knowledge holders

who submitted

depositions before this CCE group were

Poorvi L. Vora and Bhagirath Narahari of

George Washington University, USA; Alok

Choudhary of Northwestern University, USA;

Bappa Sinha of Free Software Movement of

India (FSMI); Subodh Sharma of Computer

Science and Engineering and of the School of

Public Policy, IIT, Delhi; S Prasanna, Advocate,

Delhi; Venkatesh Nayak, RTI activist; KV

Subrahmanyam, Professor, Computer Science,

Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chenna;

Poonam Agarwal, media-person; Anupam Saraf,

Professor and Future Designer; and MG

Devasahayam, activist and retired civil servant.

The Commission was also privileged to receive

the testimonies of some of the best international

experts in the field, including Ronald L. Rivest

of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Cambridge, USA; Alex Halderman of the

University of Michigan, USA; Douglas W. Jones

of the University of Iowa, USA,; Nasir Memon

of New York University, USA; Philip B. Stark of

the University of California, Berkeley; and

Vanessa Teague, Associate Professor, School of

Computing and Information Systems,

people did not feel any impact of

high inflation at all.

For most of 2020, inflation

remained at elevated levels, on

the back of high food and fuel

prices. It is because of inflationary

concerns that the Reserve

Bank of India (RBI) too has kept

the lending rates intact after

sharp cuts during the initial

phase of the pandemic.

However, both retail and

wholesale inflation eased

December. Retail inflation

declined to 4.59 per cent in

December 2020 compared with

6.93 per cent in November last,

according to government data.

The data released by the

Ministry of Statistics and

Programme Implementation

showed that the easing of the

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

came on the back of a decline in

food prices. The Consumer

Food Price Index (CFPI) for last

University of Melbourne, Cybersecurity,

Australia. In section 1.1, the report has examined

technical details and the engineering design

of the current EVMs as also the stage-by-stage

processes they undergo during elections. In section

1.2, the report has analysed the concerns

that have been articulated by concerned citizens

of errors or intentional tampering for political

gains in utilising EVMs. In the next section, no.

2, issues relating to the trustworthiness of the

custody chain and post-election are all examined.

The report has devoted considerable time

and expertise in scrutinising the technical architecture

of EVMs and the accompanying

VVPATs. It noted that ECI does not appear to

safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel

attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices

through electromagnetic and other methods.

Even the ‘software guard extensions’ of sophisticated

Intel processors have proved vulnerable

to such interference and tampering. These are

important concerns because just a few EVMs

can swing election results for a constituency.

That the processor chip in the EVM is only onetime

programmable is also in doubt. In fact, the

latest EVMs use the MK61FX512VMD12

microcontroller supplied by an US based multinational,

which has a programmable flash memory.

Further examination is possible only when

ECI makes the EVM design and prototype available

for a public technical audit. It noted that

none of ECI’s experts have credentials in computer

security and the ECI, by reposing trust in

many other external entities and organisations,

may have inadvertently lent itself to a system

that lacks complete security. After tracking the

various stages of the EVM’s movement within

the election setup — before and during polls,

subsequent storage, counting and declaration of

results — the report opines that there are certain

intervals during which the machines could be

accessed without authority or could be tampered

with. The findings reveal that there is, indeed, no

guarantee that the voter’s choice has been

reflected with total fidelity in all cases. Domain

experts therefore submit that immediate steps

need to be taken to rectify the ECI’s current procedures,

irrespective of the scale and extent of

possible error or manipulation. Besides, domain

experts have clearly stated that the present ‘quality

assurance’ and testing strategies of the ECI

certainly do not rule out scope for mischief or

the manoeuvring of results. The VVPAT (Voter

Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) system was introduced

later to ensure that voters were able to see

and check physically the paper slips that

emanated from the EVMs and the printers

attached to them. The Supreme Court had

ordered introduction of VVPAT as an additional

stage to

assure voters about the complete fidelity of

their votes but the current procedure of voting

does not seem to be in sync with this objective

and leaves gaps that could be exploited. This

month came in at 3.41 per cent,

down from 9.50 per cent in

November 2020.

Wholesale inflation for

December also declined to 1.22

per cent due to lower food inflation.

The sample size of the poll

is 4,000 plus and the fieldwork

for the survey was done in thirdfourth

week of January 2021.

The theme of the survey is

"Expectations from the Union

Budget".

paper trail has, for instance, been rendered ineffective

as the ‘marked slips’ pop up for too brief

a time for the voter to verify her/his vote before

it moves away to its sealed box. The ECI is

reluctant to cross check the tally of counting

VVPAT paper-slips with electronic results on the

grounds that it entails unnecessary consumption

of time, even though the total time taken now is

considerably less than the time spent in counting

paper ballots in the earlier system. Although

VVPAT voting slips are required to be retained

for a full year after the polls, in the 2019

instance the ECI destroyed these slips prematurely

leading to grave apprehensions about the

electoral process. Rules regarding the mandatory

recount of EVM results and the compulsory

counting of VVPAT paper slips need to be

scrupulously followed. The time required for all

this should not be regarded as an impediment to

the electoral process. Key concerns and suggestions

from the domain experts of the CCE are:

(1) End-to-end verifiability: Pre-determined and

pre-set test patterns are known to be inadequate

for verification of the integrity of an EVM. The

present EVM system is not verifiable and is

therefore unfit for democratic elections. To

ensure independence between software and

hardware, end-to-end verifiable systems with

provable guarantees of correctness must be

introduced and the ECI must declare its publicly-verifiable

guarantees against spurious vote

injections. (2) If the correctness of an EVM cannot

be established then it is practically impossible

to predict whether an EVM can be hacked or

not. In particular, that an EVM has not yet been

detected to have been hacked provides no guarantee

whatsoever that it cannot be

hacked. Thus, elections must be conducted

assuming that EVMs may possibly be tampered

with. (3) There must be a post-election audit of

the EVM counts against manual counting of the

VVPAT slips. In fact, it may be sufficient to

tamper only a few EVMs to swing an election if

a contest is close. Thus, in practice, it may be

necessary to test more EVMs than even what the

civil society and political party’s demand (30%

and 50% respectively) to ensure verification and

reliable ascertainment of results. (4) There

must be a stringent audit of the electronic vote

count before the results are

declared. The audit should not be based on ad

hoc methods but by counting a statistically significant

sample of the VVPAT slips according to

rigorous and well-established statistical audit

techniques. The audit may in some cases --

depending on the margin of victory -- require a

full manual counting of VVPAT slips.

The Citizens’ Commission on Elections urges

every citizen to regard the exercise of their franchise

as an act of great responsibility which furthers

the democratic ethos of the country. It is to

achieve this intent that this Report is being

placed before the public at a crucially important

moment before five important state elections are

to take place.

Inflation affected life of most Indians in 2020


26 01-02-2021 to 15-02-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Cinema halls allowed to operate

at 100% capacity from Feb 1

Purchasing power of most

Indians weakened in 2020

New Delhi : After almost 10

months of complete ban on

opening of cinema halls amid

Covid-19 pandemic, the central

government on Sunday allowed

these to be operated at 100%

capacity from February 1,

except in containment zones,

while adhering to health safety

protocols.

It however directed for staggered

show timings for multiple

screens to avoid crowding.

Union Information and

Broadcasting Minister Prakash

Javadekar made the announcement

earlier in the day while

releasing a fresh Standard

Operating Procedure (SOP) on

preventive measures to contain

spread of Covid-19 for cinema

halls and theatres. As per the new SOPs,

Javadekar, however, said that sanitisation

and Covid protocols will have to be

adhered to but people can buy food from

the stalls inside the theatres. The Minister

added that the restrictions put in place due

to Covid are on the verge of ending. "Good

news for cinema lovers. Today, issued the

revised SOP for the film exhibition, 100%

occupancy will be allowed in theatres from

February 1, but all Ministry of Health and

Family Welfare (MoHF) Covid-19 guidelines

will have to be followed," Javadekar

said.

The SOP comes in the backdrop of the

Ministry of Home Affairs' January 27 order

to permit the opening of cinema halls and

theatres.

At the onset, the SOP states that no exhibition

of film shall be allowed in containment

zones and that states and UTs may

consider proposing additional measures as

per their field assessment.

The SOP clarifies that all Covid-related

safety measures must be adhered to inside

the premises. The general guidelines specify

that respiratory etiquette must be followed,

including usage of face masks, adequate

social distance of at least six feet outside

auditoriums, common areas and waiting

areas at all times, no spitting, and use

of Aarogaya Setu app to be encouraged.

4-member family needs

up to Rs 20K income for

average quality of life

New Delhi : Over a

majority, or 51.5 per cent,

feel that an income of up to

Rs 20,000 per month is

required by a family of four

for an average quality of

life, as per an IANS-CVoter

pre-budget survey.

A total of 23.6 per cent

respondents said that an

income of Rs 20,000-

30,000 per month is

required for an average

quality of life, while another

10 per cent feel that Rs

30,000-40,000 is required.

Another 8.6 per cent people

felt the need of up to Rs

50,000-1,00,000 per month

for a family of four people. According to the

survey, 81.4 per cent feel that the income

required to live an average quality of life

should be tax free, while 12.7 per cent of the

respondents feel that it should be taxed.

There are several expectations of the common

man in terms of income tax slabs and

relaxations from the Budget to be presented

in the Parliament on Monday.

The pandemic has severely impacted the

economy and economist have recommended

that the government should come up with

measures to put in more money in the hands

of the people to boost demand and support

the economy. The Economic Survey for

2020-21 tabled in the parliament on Friday

also has fully backed the government's

expansionary policies, suggesting that this is

required even in the future in order to sustain

the recovery in aggregate demand.

The suggestion indicates that the path to

fiscal consolidation will be long drawn and

the government may continue to stretch its

budget further to enlarge spending aimed at

generating demand in the economy that

holds the key to put the economy back on

the growth path.

The sample size of the poll is 4,000 plus

and the fieldwork for the survey was done in

third-fourth week of January 2021. The

theme of the survey is "Expectations from

the Union Budget".

Thermal screening

of visitors would be

carried out at entry and

exit points in a staggered,

row-wise manner

will be done to

avoid crowding.

Sufficient interval

between successive

screenings on a single

screen as well as on

various screens in a

multiplex shall be provided

to ensure rowwise,

staggered entry

and exit of the audience.

The SOP promotes

use of contactless digital

transactions for

payments for tickets,

food, and beverages etc. Sufficient number

of box office counters shall be opened and

purchase of tickets at the box office shall

be open throughout the day and advance

booking allowed to avoid crowding at the

sale counters.

Stressing on the sanitisation of the entire

premises, the SOP calls frequent sanitization

of the entire premises, common facilities,

and all points which come into human

contact like handles, and railings.

The SOP has laid down specific measures

for creation of public awareness

against Covid by display of dos and don'ts

throughout the premises by way of

announcements, standees and posters.

New Delhi : With a massive impact of the coronavirus pandemic

on businesses and people's earnings, purchasing power of

most Indians weakened in the past one year.

An IANS-CVoter pre-budget survey showed that 43.7 per cent

respondents said that their income remained the same while

expenses went up, while the income of 28.7 per cent respondents

fell same but their expenditure rose.

Around 11.5 per cent said that both their income and expenditure

increased last year.

For a minute 3.1 per cent respondents, their income increased,

and the expenditure went down or remained the same.

Income of the common man, both salaried and non-salaried

category, was severely impacted last year due to the pandemic.

Loss of livelihood and shutting down of businesses was widespread.

Several companies and establishments across sectors

took to salary cuts and retrenchments owing the pandemic and

eventual lockdowns. The government is expected to come up

with steps to support the common man along with measures to

cushion businesses. Inflation remained a major concern last year

for the common man, as the survey over 70 per cent people felt

the impact of high commodity prices in the past one year.

The survey showed, around 38.2 per cent said that their quality

of life has been "too much" adversely affected due to inflation

in the past one year, and 34.9 per cent said that the there was "little

bit" impact. The sample size of the poll is 4,000 plus and the

fieldwork for the survey was done in third-fourth week of

January 2021. The theme of the survey is "Expectations from the

Union Budget".

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