01-03-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 05 : #62 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

Farmers announce series of

Mahapanchayats in March

New Delhi : Farmers protesting

against the three Central farm laws

have announced a series of

Mahapanchayats in March as the

stalemate between the farmers and the

government continues over the withdrawal

of the laws.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)

has released the list of

Mahapanchayats to be held from

February 28 to March 22 in various

parts of the country.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait will be

attending all the ’Mahapanchayats’

starting from February 28 at

Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

In March, Mahapanchayats will be

organised in Rudrapur in Uttarakhand

on March 1, in Jhunjhunu district in

Rajasthan on March 2, in Nagaur on

March 3, in Etawah on March 5 and in

Telangana on March 6. After this,

Tikait will be attending a programme

at Ghazipur on March 7 and the reach

Sheopur in Madhya Pradesh on March

8.

On March 10, a Mahapanchayat

will organised in Ballia in UP while in

Jodhpur on March 12, in Rewa (MP)

on March 14 and three

Mahapanchayats in Karnataka on

March 20, 21 and 22.

The farmers have announced the

series of Mahapanchayats with an aim

to intensify their agitation against the

contentious farm laws.

The 11 rounds of talks between the

farmers and the government have been

inconclusive as the farmers are

adamant on their demand of withdrawal

of the laws.

When asked that if the farmers will

not hold the discussion then how will

this stalemate end and the public will

continue to face the problems because

of the protest, Tikait said, "We are

ready for the discussion. We have even

sent messages regarding our issues but

the government has not replied to

them. This protest is for everyone."

Apart from the BKU, several parties

are also organising their

Mahapanchayats to show solidarity

with the farmers’ protest.

India reports highest new

daily Covid cases of Feb

New Delhi : Fresh Covid-19

cases are showing a worrying

upward trend over the past one

week, with the country reporting

single-day rise of 16,752

cases in the last 24 hours taking

the overall tally to 1,10,96,731

on Sunday, Union Health

Ministry said.

The rise is the highest in this

month.The positivity rate has

been rising gradually, which is

now at 1.48 per cent. As per the

Ministry’s data, there are

1,64,511 active cases at present

after 11,718 patients were discharged

in a day.

Meanwhile, 113 more deaths

were recorded in the last 24

hours, taking the overall toll to

1,57,051, the Ministry of

Health and Family Welfare

said. The experts have

expressed a number of possibilities

which could be owed to

the stride ranging from lax attitude

of people towards following

Covid protocols to likeability

of "mutations and new

strains" causing the surge, as

has been studied by the laboratories

involved in Covid detection

across the country.

Last week, officials said that

the average daily new infections

for the last 15 days were

oscillating between 9,000 to

12,000 while the deaths were

between 78 to 120.

On February 9, India had

reported 9,110 new cases, the

lowest this year so far. Last

year, the lowest 9,633 cases

were recorded on June 3.

Till now, 1,07,75,169 persons

have been discharged so

far. The recovery rate has

reduced to 97.10 per cent, a

change of 0.4 per cent in the

last two days. Meanwhile, the

fatality rate remains 1.42 per

cent. On Friday, around 90 per

cent of the new cases came

from six states -- Maharashtra,

Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab,

Karnataka and Gujarat, while

six states accounted for 84.62

per cent of the new deaths

included Maharashtra, Kerala,

Punjab, Tamil Nadu,

Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.

See Page 25

Global Covid-19 cases top

113 million: Johns Hopkins

Washington : The total number of global Covid-19 cases has

topped 113 million, while the deaths have surged to more than

2.52 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University. In its

latest update on Sunday morning, the University’s Center for

Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current

global caseload and death toll stood at 113,749,295 and

2,524,159 respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number

of cases and deaths at 28,554,177 and 511,994 respectively,

according to the CSSE. India comes in second place in terms of

cases at 11,079,979.

See Page 25


2

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK reports big rise in mental health

issues amid Covid lockdown

London : Mental health issues

have grown drastically amid the coronavirus

lockdown in Britain, local

media reported on Saturday.

"What we perceive as straightforward

symptoms, even something like

a sore throat, even those calls are coming

through with mental health

issues," Ruth Lander, a member of the

training team for the non-emergency

111 service in North Wales, said.

"It has definitely increased the

mental health aspects to the calls we

get -- they may be elderly and struggling

with loneliness or a young mum

who has lost her support network and

is struggling," Lander said. "People

are anxious and they are scared, and

that's the benefit of this service

because we can explain and help those

patients," Lander added.

According to Jason Killens, the

chief executive of the Welsh

Ambulance Service, even with

increased public awareness of mental

health support, the full effects of lockdown

are only just emerging, the

Xinhua news agency reported.

"We expect these problems to

increase and for them to become even

more complex as people suffer different

stresses in their lives across our

communities," Killens said.

"Everyone has been touched by the

pandemic in some way -- many people

have lost their jobs, of course, and that

creates anxiety and mental health

problems too," he said.

"There is increasing recognition

over recent years that mental health

needs parity with physical health in

terms of how we provide services and

care for patients," he said.

"We have got a small number of

mental health clinicians within our

service and we expect to expand that

this year... we realise there is more that

we can do and that we can do better,"

Petrol, diesel prices unchanged across metros

New Delhi : Fuel prices,

which have been soaring to

unprecedented levels in the

country of late, remained

unchanged on Sunday.

In the national capital, petrol

was priced at Rs 91.17 per litre,

same as on Saturday.

Similarly, in Mumbai,

Chennai and Kolkata, the fuel

was sold for Rs 97.57, Rs 93.11

and Rs 91.35 a litre respectively.

Oil marketing companies

pressed the pause button after

raising the pump price of petrol

and diesel by 24 paise and 15

paise per litre on Saturday.

In line with petrol, diesel

prices also were unchanged on

Sunday at Rs 81.47, Rs 88.60,

Rs 86.45 and Rs 84.35 per litre,

respectively in Delhi, Mumbai,

Chennai and Kolkata.

Petrol and diesel prices have

been rising continuously since

February 9. The increase in the

previous weeks has taken

petrol to cross historic high levels

of Rs 100 a litre in several

cities across the country.

Premium petrol crossed Rs

100 per litre mark in several

he added.

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. Another 8,523 people

in Britain have tested positive for

Covid-19, bringing the total number of

coronavirus cases in the country to

4,163,085, according to official figures

released Friday.

The country also reported another

345 coronavirus-related deaths. The

total number of coronavirus-related

deaths in Britain now stands at

122,415. These figures only include

the deaths of people who died within

28 days of their first positive test.

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.

cities of Rajasthan,

Madhya Pradesh and

Maharashtra a few days

back.

Since fuel prices are

benchmarked to a 15-day

rolling average of global

refined products' prices

and dollar exchange rate,

pump prices can be

expected to remain northbound

over the next few

days even if crude price stabilises.

Oil companies executives

said that petrol and diesel

prices may increase further in

coming days as retail prices

may have to be balanced in line

with global developments to

prevent OMCs from making

losses on sale of auto fuels.

Delhi advocate held for Rs 50 cr fraud

New Delhi : The officers of

Central Goods and Services

Tax (CGST) Commissionerate

of Delhi East arrested an advocate,

Vishal, who is practicing

law at Karkardooma Court in

the national capital for frauds

regarding input tax credit (ITC)

worth around Rs 50 crore.

A Finance Ministry statement

said that Vishal started

this GST fraud by creation of a

fictitious firm in his own name

which he got registered at his

residence.

Subsequently, he arranged

various KYCs of different persons

to create multiple fictitious

firms having no business

activity and created solely for

the purpose of passing on fake

Input Tax Credit and defrauding

the government exchequer,

it said.

Multiple KYCs and cheques

were found during the search of

his residence. He used to pass

on fake Input Tax Credit to his

clients in exchange for a commission

of 2 per cent of the

invoice amount.

The total fake Input Tax

Credit passed on quantified so

far is Rs 50.03 crore, which is

expected to increase as the

investigation progresses, said

the official statement.

The advocate masterminded

a deep-rooted criminal conspiracy

to defraud the government,

it noted.

Vishal has been arrested

under Section 69(1) of the

CGST Act, 2017 and produced

before the Duty Magistrate on

Saturday. He has been remanded

to judicial custody of 14

days till March 13, 2021.

Further investigation in the

case is in process.

As per the ministry, since the

inception of GST Central Tax,

Delhi Zone has made 27 arrests

in various cases involving GST

evasion amounting of more

than Rs 4,019.95 crore.

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Vast cracks free huge iceberg in Antarctica

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

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London : Almost a decade after scientists

at British Antarctic Survey

(BAS) first detected growth of vast

cracks, a huge iceberg, more than 20

times the size of Manhattan, in

Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf has now

broken off.

The first indication that a calving

event was imminent came in November

2020 when a new chasm -- called North

Rift -- headed towards another large

chasm near the Stancomb-Wills Glacier

Tongue 35 kms away, BAS said in a

statement on Friday.

North Rift is the third major crack

through the ice shelf to become active in

the last decade.

During January, this rift pushed

northeast at up to 1 km per day, cutting

through the 150-metre-thick floating ice

shelf.

The iceberg was formed when the

crack widened several hundred metres

in a few hours on Friday, releasing it

from the rest of floating ice shelf.

"Our teams at BAS have been prepared

for the calving of an iceberg from

Brunt Ice Shelf for years," said

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director

of British Antarctic Survey.

"We monitor the ice shelf daily using

an automated network of high-precision

GPS instruments that surround the station,

these measure how the ice shelf is

deforming and moving. We also use

satellite images from ESA (European

Space Agency), NASA and the German

satellite TerraSAR-X."

The Brunt Ice Shelf is the location of

British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) Halley

Research Station.

BAS glaciologists, who have been

expecting a big calving event for at least

a decade, say that the research station is

unlikely to be affected by the current

calving.

The glaciological structure of this

vast floating ice shelf is complex, and

the impact of "calving" events is unpredictable.

* 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

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

3

UP: BHIM ARMY inches

closer to SP-RLD alliance

Lucknow : The ongoing farmers'

agitation and the changing political

scenario in western Uttar Pradesh are

now throwing up new political combinations,

ahead of the 2022 Assembly

election.

The Samajwadi Party and the

Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in the

region is likely to be joined by the

emerging Bhim Army's political wing

- Azad Samaj Party.

According to highly placed

sources, channels of communication

have been opened between Samajwadi

Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bhim

Army chief Chandra Shekhar.

"The two leaders have spoken to

each other thrice and if all goes well,

west UP may see a SP-RLD-Bhim

Army combine in the 2022 Assembly

elections," said a source.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,

SP-RLD alliance was joined by

Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Chandra Shekhar, when asked,

evaded all questions about the possible

alliance but said that all parties

must come together to defeat the BJP

which has caused irreparable damage

to the state and its people, particularly

weaker sections.

A senior Bhim Army functionary,

meanwhile, said that in the present situation

in western UP, the SP-RLD-

Bhim Army alliance could prove to be

a winning combination.

"The best thing is that Bhim Army

and RLD are not in the race for the

chief minister's post. Alliances break

only when there are more than one

claimants for the top post," he said.

Chandra Shekhar told reporters that

his first priority was to contest the

upcoming panchayat elections under

his own banner.

"We will build up our organisation

till the booth level in the panchayat

elections and then decide our future

course of action," he said.

Political analysts feel that the SP-

RLD-Bhim Army combine could

bring Muslims, Jats and Dalits on a

single platform and this could upset

the BJP's apple cart in region.

For the Samajwadi Party, this could

be the much-needed shot in the arm.

Akhilesh has also been looking for

a formidable ally for the Assembly

polls after the BSP walked out on him

last year and Bhim Army fits the bill.

The icing on the cake, meanwhile,

is the sudden resurgence of the

Rashtriya Lok Dal which has been catapulted

to the political centre stage in

western UP during the farmers' agitation.

Any alliance which has RLD in

it, is bound to start with a major

advantage.

I-T raid on Chennaibased

tiles maker

New Delhi : The Income

Tax Department conducted

income introduced

by the group as

searches on a business group

share premium

engaged in tiles and sanitary

ware maker based out of

through shell companies,"

it said.

Chennai, resulting in the detection

Total undis-

of undisclosed income

closed income

worth Rs 220 crore.

detected so far

A Finance Ministry statement,

comes to Rs 220

which did not disclose

crore, it said,

the name of the group, said that

adding that cash of

the search was conducted at 11

around Rs 8.30

premises, and surveys were

done in nine premises of the

group in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat

secret office and the software

maintained in the cloud, it said.

"It was found that the transactions

crore was also found and

seized. Search action was still

on and investigations were in

and Kolkata on Friday,

to the extent of 50 per progress. The official statement

February 26.

cent were out of books. said that the Income Tax

In the course of the search, Considering the previous Department remained committed

unaccounted sale and purchase turnover, the suppression of

to track the generation of

of tiles were detected and income may be in the range of unaccounted cash and its

details of unaccounted transactions

were unearthed in the

Rs 120 crore. This is in addition

to Rs 100 crore of undisclosed

movement in Tami Nadu and

Puducherry.

FPIs invest Rs 25,787 Cr

in Indian equities in Feb

New Delhi : As the Indian

equities continued to scale new

highs post the Union Budget

for FY22, the net foreign portfolio

investments (FPI) into the

Indian equities in February was

Rs 25,787 crore.

The total net FPIs in 2020

now stand at Rs 45,260 crore,

as per NSDL data.

Foreign investments have

continued to flow in post the

Union Budget which

announced further liberalisation

measures including privatisation

of banks and also did

not come up with a new tax

levy.

So far, in the financial year

2021-22, net FPIs into equities

stood at Rs 2.63 lakh crore, the

highest ever FPI inflow into the

country. Further, the net foreign

institutional investment (FII)

during the month was Rs

42,044.46 crore.

The rising foreign investments

have also led to the

strengthening of the Indian

rupee. However, the recent

bond yield surge both in the US

and the domestic market have

caused a frenzy in among the

investors leading to bear run in

the stock markets.

TN Guv gives nod to Vanniyar reservation Bill

Chennai : Tamil Nadu Governor

Banwarilal Purohit has accorded his

assent to a Bill to provide 10.5 per

cent internal quota to the Vanniyakula

Kshatriya community within the reservation

for Most Backward Classes

(MBC) and Denotified Communities

(DC).

The Governor on Friday gave his

assent to Tamil Nadu Special

Reservation of Seats in Educational

Institutions and of Appointments of

Posts in Services under the State within

the Reservation for the MBC and

DC, Act, 2021. The notification was

published in the Gazette of the State

government the same day.

The law has created two more

groups one covering 25 MBCs and 68

DCs and another covering the remaining

22 MBCs.

The law provides internal reservation

for three categories - 10.5 per cent

quota for MBC (Vanniyakula

Kshatriyas), 7 per cent for DC and the

MBC communities having similarity

with DC and 2.5 per cent

the other MBC not included in

the above category.

Vanniyakula Kshatriya

includes Vanniyar, Vanniya,

Vannia Gounder, Gounder, Palli,

Agnikula Kshatriya and

Padayachi.

The law permits the government

to appoint an officer not

below the rank of district backward

class officer to be the competent

authority for carrying out

the provisions and the rules made

in respect of private educational

institutions.

The law was made on the recommendation

of the chairman of

the TN Backward Classes commission

on the demand made by various

communities to provide internal

quota. The State Assembly had passed

the Bill on half-an-hour before the

Election Commission announced the

date of Assembly poll for the state and

the model code of conduct came into

effect on Friday.

"There had been consistent representations

from the Most Backward

Class of Vanniakula Kshatriya for providing

separate reservation for them in

admission to such educational institutions

and in appointments or posts in

the services under the State as they

could not compete with the other

castes and communities included in

the list of Most Backward Classes and

Denotified Communities so as to get

their due and legitimate share of such

reservation benefits. The Chairman of

the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes

Commission examined the demand

made by various communities to provide

for internal reservation within

Most Backward Classes and

Denotified Communities for various

categories and recommended to the

Government that internal reservation

may be given for three categories,

namely, Most Backward Classes (V) -

10.5 per cent, Most Backward Classes

and Denotified Communities - 7 per

cent and Most Backward Classes - 2.5

per cent," states the Bill

Exclusive quota for Vanniyars has

been the consistent demand of the

PMK, a key ally of the ruling

AIADMK. The party had held a series

of protests since December to press for

its demand. Meanwhile, the AIADMK

on Saturday, struck poll deal with

PMK, offering it 23 Assembly seats.

Elections for 234-member Tamil Nadu

Assembly are scheduled to be held in

a single phase on April 6.


4

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

On the trail of 12 Indian fugitives

who fled to LONDON

New Delhi : At a time

when a British court has

ordered the extradition of diamantaire

Nirav Modi to India

to stand trial in a Rs 13,500

crore bank fraud after dismissing

arguments of his

"mental health concerns,"

saying they are not unusual in

a man in his circumstances,

while that of billionaire Vijay

Mallya, also accused of financial

crimes, hangs in the balance,

a new book delves into

12 extraordinary cases over

seven decades that have seen London

emerge as a safe haven for those who want

to escape the law in India and unravels the

legal quagmire that has caused much

debate in Her Majesty's courts - and consternation

in New Delhi's corridors of

power. In 'Escaped: True Stories of Indian

Fugitives in London' (Penguin), Danish

Khan and Ruhi Khan, through eyewitness

accounts and archival records, delve into

these 12 cases to decode why London is an

irresistible siren for Indian fugitives.

More than throwing the spotlight on the

ultra-luxe worlds of Modi and Mallya, the

book also uncovers the complex ownership

of their UK assets and brings to life the

intense courtroom battles involving them.

The book also chronicles the saga of

cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, now dispatched

to India, and that of music director

Nadeem Saifi, charged with the murder of

music baron Gulshan Kumar. Saifi had fled

Most Indian firms still short on

displaying 'digital empathy'

New Delhi : As more and

more Indians adopt digital way

of life most organisations are

still a long way from authentically

displaying "digital empathy"

and deliver better customer

experiences, a new

report has stressed.

Just over a third (37 per

cent) of Indian executives have

significant insights into customer

mindset. "Drivers of purchase,

friction points and attribution

of how marketing

actions relate to customer

behaviour fare only marginally

better," according to Adobe's

'2021 Digital Trends Report'.

Interestingly, Indian executives

are most likely to agree to

having significant insight into

drivers of loyalty (46 per cent),

to the UK in 2001 but the London High

Court rejected the Indian government's

request for his extradition on the ground

that there was no prima facie case against

him. The request met a similar fate in the

House of Lords while a sessions court in

Mumbai exonerated him after a key prosecution

witness turned hostile. Saifi chose

not to return to India and eventually

acquired British citizenship.

The book explores how drug lord Iqbal

Mirchi and terror accused Hanif Patel

evaded extradition, and investigates the

loopholes that saved convicted paedophile

Raymond Varley and NRI parents Arti Dhir

and Kaval Kaval Raijada, accused of murdering

their adopted child. Then, the book

reveals the inside story of how Lt

Commander Ravi Shankaran (retd), the

alleged spy in what is known as the Navy

War Room Leak Case, was set free.

On the plus side, the book takes a trip

journeys of new customers (44

per cent) and attribution of how

marketing actions relate to customer

behaviour (40 per cent).

"Truly committing to customer

experience as a growth

lever will mean going beyond

response and conversion rates,

and instead digging into the

motivations, frustrations and

thinking of customers

throughout the customer journey",

said Nitin Singhal,

Head, Digital Experience

Business, Adobe India. Even

as things start to normalise in

2021, there is a continual need

for organisations to move

away from siloed work cultures

and tide over the market

pressures through rapid innovation

and product pivots.

According to the

research, executives in

India (34 per cent) reported

their organisations as

dynamic, collaborative

and flexible amid the

market changes, where

they work environments

were restricted by traditional

hierarchies.

Nearly 71 per cent of

executives surveyed in

India agreed to their customers

benefiting from

great digital experiences.

"There's no doubt that

business agility and digital

maturity will continue to be

a differentiator for businesses,

even as we move towards a

post-Covid economy," Singhal

said.

The research also found that

26 per cent of those surveyed in

India are using a cloud-based

platform along with other marketing

data management systems,

confirming a hybrid

approach being adopted by

many organisations.

"With accelerated digital

adoption brought on by the

pandemic, new technologies

and effective data management

tools are necessary for delivering

enhanced customer experiences,"

said Dharmarajan K,

Chief Product and Customer

Experience Officer, Tata CLiQ.

through history as it

recounts how a newly

independent India

managed to bring

back two powerful

industrialists, Dharma

Jayanti Teja, and

Mubarak Ali Ahmed,

who were involved in

financial crimes.

Danish Khan is a

journalist and historian

living in London.

He has been covering

the UK and Europe for

Times Now, ET Now and Mumbai Mirror

for a decade. Prior to that, he worked as a

journalist in Mumbai. Danish was awarded

the Martin Senior scholarship and the

Amersi Foundation scholarship at the

University of Oxford, where he is also

involved in the Global History of

Capitalism Project. He has taught history at

the University of Oxford and Stanford

University.

Ruhi Khan is a London-based independent

journalist. She has written on extradition

cases for the Wire. She has worked

with NDTV and Mumbai Mirror in India

and been a curator at Twitter UK. Ruhi was

a Jefferson Fellow at the East West Center,

US, and a recipient of the Mary Morgan

Hewitt Award for Women in Journalism.

She is an Economic and Social Research

Council (ESRC) scholar at the London

School of Economics and Political Science

and also edits the Media@LSE Blog.

'UK supports Afghan's

fight against Taliban'

London : British Prime

Minister Boris Johnson held a

telephonic conversation with

the Afghan President Ashraf

Ghani during which the former

reiterated his country's continued

support to the latter's fight

against the Taliban, according

to a statement by the British

government.

"Johnson on Friday reiterated

the UK's longstanding support

for the Afghan government's

fight against the Taliban

as part of the NATO coalition,"

said the statement.

"They agreed on the importance

of making progress in

peace talks to secure a sovereign,

democratic and united

Afghanistan and to preserve the

gains made by civil society and

women and girls," the statement

added.

The Presidential Palace said

in a statement that Ghani and

Johnson discussed the bilateral

ties and the Afghan peace

process, Tolo news reported.

The British Prime Minister

assured President Ghani of his

country's continued support to

the Afghan peace process,

strengthened regional diplomacy,

and UK's support to Afghan

forces, the Palace said.

The statement further said

that both of them also discussed

the global efforts to tackle the

pandemic and the roll out of

vaccines in Afghanistan and the

UK.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

5

Afghanistan marks National

Day of Armed Forces

London : British Queen

Elizabeth II on Friday urged those

who are hesitant to take the coronavirus

vaccine jab to "think about

other people".

The Queen, 94, who had the jab

in January, made the remarks during

a video call with health leaders

delivering the coronavirus vaccine

across Britain, the Xinhua news

agency reported.

"Once you've had the vaccine you

have a feeling of, you know, you're

protected, which is, I think, very

important," she said.

"As far as I could make out it was

quite harmless. It was very quick,

and I've had lots of letters from people

who have been very surprised by

how easy it was to get the vaccine.

And the jab -- it didn't hurt at all,"

she added.

The Queen's remarks came after

research showed that certain communities

in Britain, especially some

black and ethnic minority groups,

Kabul : Afghanistan on Saturday

marked the National Day of Armed Forces

as the security forces continued fighting a

Taliban-led insurgency, the state-run TV

channel reported.

"The National Day of Armed Forces is

the greatest day, it is the greatest honor for

people of Afghanistan and the state government

to celebrate this great day,"

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf

Ghani told a ceremony held at country's

Defence Ministry and broadcasted live in

Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA).

"Your morale is unique. You are the real

guardians of Afghanistan's Constitution

and you are the guardians of this land, the

British Queen urges

vaccine doubters to

think about others

reportedly remain hesitant to take

the vaccine.

"I think the other thing is, that it is

obviously difficult for people if

they've never had a vaccine... But

they ought to think about other people

rather than themselves," she said.

Another 9,985 people in Britain

have tested positive for Covid-19,

bringing the total number of coronavirus

cases in the country to

4,154,562, according to official figures

released Thursday.

The country also reported another

323 coronavirus-related deaths. The

total number of coronavirus-related

deaths in Britain stood at 122,070.

These figures only include the

deaths of people who died within 28

days of their first positive test.

The latest figures were revealed

as more than 18.6 million people in

Britain have been given the first jab

of the coronavirus vaccine.

England is currently under the

third national lockdown since outbreak

of the pandemic in the country.

Similar restriction measures are

also in place in Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland.

On Monday, British Prime

Minister Boris Johnson announced

his long-anticipated "roadmap" exiting

the lockdown.

Schools in England will reopen

from March 8 as first part of the

four-step plan, which Johnson said

was designed to be "cautious but

irreversible". Johnson said he is

"very optimistic" that all coronavirus

restrictions in England will be

removed by June 21. 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.

great nation of Afghanistan stands behind

you," Ghani said.

Earlier in the day, Ghani laid a wreath at

a minaret inside the ministry's compound

after inspecting guards of honour to pay

tribute to security forces who have sacrificed

their lives for peace and security,

Xinhua reported.

The Afghan National Defence and

Security Forces (ANDSF) has been continuing

cleanup operations across

Afghanistan in recent months as daily violence

and clashes remain in the country.

The ANDSF remains in control of most

of the Afghanistan's population centres and

all the 34 provincial capitals, but the

Taliban insurgents control large portions of

rural areas, staging coordinated large-scale

attacks against Afghan cities and districts

from time to time.

Eligible military officers and soldiers

received awards and medals from the

President and other high-ranking officials

during the ceremony.

Singapore's manufacturing output

surges 8.6% on year in Jan

Singapore : The Singapore Economic Development Board

(EDB) announced on Friday that the country's manufacturing output

increased 8.6 per cent year on year in January 2021, compared

to the 16.2 per cent increase last December.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, the output grew 12.1 per

cent year on year in January, the Xinhua news reported.

As for the performance of different clusters, the electronics

cluster's output grew 19.8 per cent year on year in January, while

the biomedical manufacturing cluster saw its output fall 8.6 per

cent, the chemicals cluster's output grew 9 per cent, the precision

engineering cluster's output grew 15.3 per cent, the transport engineering

cluster's output decreased 19 per cent, and the general

manufacturing cluster's output expanded 3.3 per cent.

'The Code Breaker'

is an uplifting tale

in TRYING TIMES

New Delhi : In these days of the

digital coding will be joined

coronavirus pandemic, Walter

by those who study genetic

Isaacson, the bestselling author of

"Leonardo da Vinci" and "Steve

Jobs", returns with "The Code

Breaker" (Simon & Schuster), a

gripping account of how Nobel

Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and

code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking

powers to make

us less susceptible to viruses?

What a wonderful boon that

would be! And what about preventing

her colleagues launched a revolution

depression?

that will allow us to cure diseases,

fend off viruses, and have

healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in

sixth grade, she came home one

day to find that her dad had left a

paperback titled "The Double

Helix" on her bed. She put it aside,

Hmmm�Should we allow

parents, if they can afford it, to

enhance the height or muscles

or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover

CRISPR, Doudna became a

leader in wrestling with these

moral issues and, with her collaborator

thinking it was one of those detective

Emmanuelle

tales she loved. When she read

it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered

she was right, in a way. As she

sped through the pages, she

became enthralled by the intense

drama behind the competition to

discover the code of life. Even

though her high school counsellor

told her girls didn't become scientists,

she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand

how nature works and to turn

discoveries into inventions, she

would help to make what the

book's author, James Watson, told her

was the most important biological

advance since his co-discovery of the

structure of DNA. She and her collaborators

turned a curiosity of nature into

an invention that will transform the

human race: an easy-to-use tool that can

edit DNA. Known as CRISPR (clustered

world of medical miracles and moral

questions.

The development of CRISPR and the

race to create vaccines for coronavirus

will hasten our transition to the next

great innovation revolution. The past

half-century has been a digital age,

based on the microchip, computer, and

Charpentier, won the Nobel

Prize in 2020. Her story is a

thrilling detective tale that

involves the most profound

wonders of nature, from the

origins of life to the future of

our species.

New Scientist has described

the book as "a gripping tale,

showing how our new ability

to hack evolution will soon

start throwing us curveballs."

Walter Isaacson, a professor

of history at Tulane University

in New Orleans, has been CEO of the

Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor

of Time. He other books include

"The Innovators" "Einstein: His Life

and Universe", "Benjamin Franklin: An

American Life", and "Kissinger: A

Biography", and the co-author of "The

Wise Men: Six Friends and the World

regularly interspaced short palin-

internet. Now we are entering a life-sci-

They Made". Visit him at

dromic repeats), it opened a brave new ence revolution. Children who study Isaacson.Tulane.edu.


6 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

RSS has destroyed institutions

and FREE PRESS : Rahul

Chennai : Congress leader and former

AICC president Rahul Gandhi has

charged that the Rashtriya

Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) has

destroyed the free press and institutions

in the country in a systematic manner

over the past six years. He was addressing

a meeting of advocates at VO

Chidambaram college hall, Tuticorn, on

Saturday.

He said the nation is held together by

institutions including elected institutions

like Lok Sabha,Vidhan Sabhas and

Panchayats and institutions like the

judiciary and a supporting free press.

Pointing out that all these institutions

and a free press hold the nation together,

Rahul Gandhi stated that democracy

in India is dead. He went on to say that

democracy does not die in a day but in a

systematic manner and alleged that the

RSS was instrumental in destroying the

democracy of the country.

Gandhi, who is an MP from Wayanad

constituency in Kerala, said that the

RSS combined with capitalists has

destroyed the balance of the country. He

also charged that when the institutional

balance of the country is lost, states

don't have equal say.

Attacking Prime Minister Narendra

Modi directly, he said "The question is

not that the PM is useful or useless but

to whom is he useful? It's like Hum Do

Hamare Do".

On the Citizenship Amendment Act

(CAA), the Congress leader said that it

is discriminatory and added that the

farm laws passed by the parliament, are

against the poor farmers of the country.

Rahul Gandhi also said that the people

cannot rely on the institutions to

protect democracy and added that people's

power is the only power that can

protect democracy and democratic institutions.

The Congress leader is on a threeday

visit to Tamil Nadu where assembly

elections are being held on April 6,

along with Puducherry and Kerala. He

had visited Puducherry before embarking

on the Tamil Nadu visit. It may be

noted that the Congress party has been

staking claim to contest in 45 assembly

seats in the DMK-led alliance but the

DMK has been sticking to its stand of

allowing only 22 assembly seats to the

grand old party.

Former Kerala Chief Minister

Oommen Chandy was deputed by the

Congress high command to have a one

to one meeting with DMK supremo MK

Stalin but a consensus was elusive even

in that meeting.

Youth Cong protests fuel price hike outside Smriti Irani's residence

New Delhi : The Indian

Youth Congress on Saturday

organised a protest against rising

inflation, petrol, diesel and gas

cylinder prices outside the residence

of Union Minister for

Women and Child Development,

Smriti Irani, in New Delhi.

Hundreds of Congress workers

gathered and shouted slogans

against the Central government.

Srinivas B.V., National

President of the Indian Youth

Congress, said, "When the

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

was in opposition, Smriti Irani

was seen on the streets protesting

Rs 5 hike in petrol, diesel

and LPG prices but today when

there is inflation all over the

country, she is silent that is why

today the Youth Congress has

tried to awaken her from slumber."

"Petrol has crossed Rs 100,

diesel has crossed Rs 90 in many

parts of the country, and the

prices of gas cylinders are

increasing day-by-day, the

shameful thing is that despite

such open loot, the BJP government

is blaming the Congress

and trying to run away from the

issue."

According to the Indian

Youth Congress, farmers, youth,

labourers, traders and women

are feeling the pinch due to inflation,

but it is having no impact

on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak

Sangh (RSS) and the BJP. The

anti-people and anti-national

face of the RSS and BJP has

emerged in front of the country.

Commenting on the recent

statement of Union Petroleum

Minister Dharmendra Pradhan,

attributing the petrol and diesel

price hike to the cold weather,

Srinivas called it an absurd statement

and demanded his resignation

from the ministerial position.

He also urged the Central

government to reduce the prices

of petrol, diesel and cooking gas

with immediate effect.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

7

Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi, they would

have both garnered the Simla spirit

into action.

As a close relation of the Bhutto

family, Ambassador Wajid Shamsul

Hassan, writes a much-awaited book

aptly titled "Life with the Bhuttos."

In 1997, Hasan underwent various

legal battles and period of third-degree

torture due to his long association with

the Bhutto family. Always an unapologetic

proponent of democracy and freedom

of media, Hasan was a close aide

of PM Benazir Bhutto during her term.

The book will cover the real-life

experiences of Hassan and attempt to

disprove and correct some of the

"truths" about the Bhutto family.

Ambassador Wajid Shamsul

Hassan is the former High

Commissioner of Pakistan to UK. He

was the longest-serving Pakistani

High Commissioner to UK. Along

with being a diplomat, he is also a

political activist and a veteran journalist.

Ambassador Wajid Shamsul

Hassan was long associated with the

Bhutto family. He has spent many

years with martyred PM Mohtarma

Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari and PM

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Hassan was tortured

and prosecuted for many years

by anti-Bhutto elements in Pakistan,

particularly Senator Saifur Rehman to

turn against the Bhutto family and testify

against Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

A man of many talents, he was also

a special advisor to Benazir Bhutto.

The book "Life with the Bhuttos" covers

his extensive history with the

Bhutto family. He is a beacon of

morality and a source of emulation

among the young journalists now facing

Gestapo-like victimisation by the

Both Bhutto Sahib and Benazir were

firm believers that Kashmir can't be

left in the hands of the GENERALS

New Delhi : Bhutto Sahib and

Benazir Bhutto were both firm believers

that intricate issues such as

Kashmir cannot be left in the hands of

generals, says Ambassador Shamsul

Hassan in his book, "Life with the

Bhuttos."

Hassan says Bhutto often quoted

famous French statesman Georges

Clemenceau that war is too important

to be left to the generals.

"Bhutto Sahib had a foresight at

some time Benazir Bhutto would be

the one who would have to preside

over the affairs of the Pakistani state",

he adds.

"However, I can share with you that

her late father martyred Zulfikar Ali

Bhutto, described as an icon of a

statesman by Dr. Henry Kissinger in

the century, selected Bibi to be his

political heir when he had seen blossom

in her a leader beyond ordinary

comprehensions. He did not take her

to Simla to see the picturesque Hill

Station that had served as Raj's summer

capital in India but he wanted her

to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

with whom later she would have to

sort out relations with India including

settling the Kashmir issue," he adds.

Hassan adds that had Benazir

Bhutto been alive along with Indira

current Pakistani regime.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q Wajid Sahab you have written

a book which everyone would like to

read. Tell us about this book.

A Thank you for your questions

about my book covering a period of

over 50 years-- My life with the

Bhuttos. I have not minced any words

in expressing myself candidly as much

as possible, in answering you.

Q I'm going to ask a straight

question: anything you wanted to

write in this book but decided not to

write?

A Indeed, I have not avoided writing

anything since the book has come

at a time when I have entered my 80th

year and I am racing against time. If I

were to avoid anything it would be no

use to posterity. It will go down wastefully

in my chest. Rest assured that I

have neither avoided writing anything

nor have I kept any secrets. However,

one word I am fully aware of the

predicaments faced by former DG ISI

General Asad Durrani who has written

three professional books in collaboration

with former Indian RAW chief

Dulat. Durrani is being unnecessarily

put to hassle by his former colleagues

out of sheer jealousy. Ultimately, I am

sure his critics will have the flak on

their faces. My response to your

'straight question' about not writing

anything that I wanted to write is settled.

Everything is here for you and

your readers to discern.

Q I know this fact from almost

twenty years about your proximity

to Benazir and even Bilawal also

said this: She trusted you always.

Tell us about your relationship with

Benazir?

A What a question! Indeed, you

have asked me to put together millions

of words, articles and hours spent

together with our "Beloved Bibi" from

1972 until her assassination in 2007.

Indeed, a Himalayan task.

However, I can share with you that

her late father martyred Zulfikar Ali

Bhutto, described as an icon of a

statesman by Dr. Henry Kissinger in

the century, selected Bibi to be his

political heir when he had seen blossom

in her a leader beyond ordinary

comprehensions. He did not take her

to Simla to see the picturesque Hill

Station that had served as Raj's summer

capital in India but he wanted her

to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

with whom later she would have to

sort out relations with India including

settling the Kashmir issue.

Bhutto Sahib and Benazir Bhutto

both were firm believers that intricate

issues such as Kashmir cannot be left

in the hands of the generals. He often

quoted famous French statesman

Georges Clemenceau that "war is too

important to be left to the generals".

Bhutto Sahib had a foresight at some

time Benazir Bhutto would be the one

who would have to preside over the

affairs of the Pakistani state.

Q Do you think Benazir would

have solved the Kashmir problem?

A. My answer to your question is

positive. Had she been alive along

with Mrs. Indira Gandhi or Rajiv

Gandhi they would have both garnered

the Simla spirit into action. I

remember Bhutto Sahib's historic

meeting with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in

his farewell call on her at Simla when

the talks between the two negotiating

teams had collapsed and we were told

to pack up to leave for home the next

morning.

Bhutto Sahib clicked with Mrs.

Gandhi in his farewell call, what

would remain forever a landmark

development between the two countries.

Later in Pakistan when I asked

him what transpired between him and

Indiraji in the farewell. "I sincerely

collected all my wits and beseeched

Mrs. Gandhi that, that perhaps it was

the last opportunity for the two nations

to bury the hatchet permanently and

bury the acrimonies of the past. I sincerely

meant what I had told her,

touched the bottom core of her heart

against the wishes of her advisers like

Haskars who had stuck to hawkish

postures throughout the negotiations.

We were confident that the new foundation

of Indo-Pakistan relations on a

sound footing of the sincerity of our

purpose would turn the historic tide

for the good of the people of the two

countries."

Q How do you see the future of

the Indo-Pakistan relationship?

Today there is complete silence from

both ends.

A I am a born optimist. Indeed, I

have also been very eto some extent --

close to the leadership of Pakistan.

However, there has always been a difference

of opinion in my thinking and

their thinking. I have been a devoted

follower of the Bhuttos, notwithstanding

the rhetoric of the 1000-year war e

I have heard it from both the Bhuttos

about their sincerity for peace in the

region, greater co-operation, economic

understanding, and assisting each

other in alleviation of the economic

and poverty-related sufferings of their

people.

Q You have been very close to the

top leadership of Pakistan. Tell us

frankly in a single word whether so

much army interference is helping

Pakistan or has damaged the very

basic fabric of democracy?

A. My being close to the top leadership

of Pakistan would not mean that

they would do whatever I would tell

them to. My answer to you in a single

word is ---that army's interference in

politics has been on account of the

demographic composition of the partition

and the failure of political leadership

after the demise of Jinnah Sahib

and the assassination of Prime

Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to reassert

itself as the sole arbiter of civilian

power. Praetorian Establishment plus

the civil, judicial bureaucracy as

established and later recognised as

power troika monopolising West

Pakistani Punjabi feudal class backed

by Jamaat-e-Islami and Ahraris---all

combined damaged the very basic fabric

of democracy in Pakistan.

Q How do you see the Bajwa-

Imran combo? Bajwa is talking positively

here and there. But nothing

deliverable. Do you think he can be

instrumental in regional peace?

A I can only give you an answer.

General Bajwa, I will give him the

benefit of doubt. I have not known

him much but whatever his famous

Bajwa Doctrine is e it did cause a lot

of ripples and inspired food for

thought among various circles including

the military.


8 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Mayawati pays tribute to

Sant Ravidas, asks govt to

follow in his footsteps

'BRAZIL LOGS 13.5%

unemployment in 2020'

Rio de Janeiro : Brazil recorded 13.5 per cent unemployment

in 2020, equivalent to 13.4 million people and the highest level

since 2012, the state-run Brazilian Institute of Geography and

Statistics (IBGE) reported.

Unemployment in the South American country grew 6.7 per

cent, or 840,000 people, last year compared to 2019, when the

indicator was 11.9 per cent, according to the IBGE.

During the quarter ending in December 2020, unemployment

was 13.9 per cent, down from 14.6 per cent in the previous quarter,

but higher than 11 per cent for the same period in 2019,

Xinhua reported.

The annual average of the employed population in 2020 was the

lowest since 2012 at 86.1 million, as well as 7.9 per cent lower

compared to the 2019 average.

The IBGE also reported that the average informal employment

rate went down from 41.1 per cent in 2019 to 38.7 per cent in

2020. In terms of income, Brazil averaged 2,543 reais (about

$462) last year, 4.7 per cent higher than the previous year.

Brazil's unemployment rose in 2020 as a result of efforts to contain

the Covid-19 pandemic such as quarantine measures and the

closing of businesses. However, unemployment declined in the

last months of 2020, coinciding with a slight recovery in economic

activities, although this did not prevent it from closing at the

highest level in eight years.

Shivaji, Sambhaji

helped retain Hindu

culture in Goa: CM

Panaji : Maratha king Chattraparti Shivaji and his son

Sambhaji helped preserve Hindu culture and swadharma, Chief

Minister Pramod Sawant said at a Marathi day function held in

Sanquelim in North Goa district.

Sawant also said that Goa and Maharashtra had rich relations

over centuries adding that freedom fighters from Maharashtra contributed

to the struggle in Goa to overthrow Portuguese colonial

rule.

"Goa has had links with Maharashtra from the time of Shivaji

Maharaj. He preserved religious and Hindu culture in Goa in his

time. It was during his reign and that of Sambhaji that the indigenous

religious practices were retained," Sawant said.

Shivaji's reign in the 1600s coincided with early Portuguese

rule in Goa, when forced religious conversion to Christianity was

rampant.

"Even in the Goa freedom struggle, Maharashtra has a big contribution.

We are celebrating 60 years of freedom. Freedom fighters

came from all over India, especially from the Goa Maharashtra

border," he also said, adding that as many as 20 freedom fighters

from Maharashtra were shot by the Portuguese soldiers for participation

in the freedom struggle in Goa.

Lucknow : Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)

National President Mayawati on Saturday

paid tribute to Sant Ravidas and greeted the

people of Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of

Sant Ravidas Jayanti. She also appealed to

the Central government to provide relief to

the common man by controlling inflation.

The BSP supremo on Saturday said in a

statement, "My heartiest congratulations

and best wishes to millions of followers of

revered Sant Ravidas living in the country

and the world on the birth anniversary of

Guru Ravidas ji who gave the immortal

message of peace."

She said nearly 130 crore people in the

country, barring a few, are suffering from

the coronavirus pandemic, poverty and

unemployment and are in dire need of support

from the Central government.

Mayawati said it is the ultimate 'dharma'

of the Central and state governments to

control the prices of essential commodities

like petrol, diesel and LPG etc. to prevent

inflation so that the common man can get

immediate relief. This would also be a

befitting tribute to the great saint Guru

Ravidas ji.

Mayawati said that before the formation

of the BSP, the Congress, BJP and other

Chandigarh : Haryana Chief Minister

Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday

launched four welfare schemes at a statelevel

programme organised here to mark

the 644th birth anniversary of Guru

Ravidas.

The district-level virtual programmes

were also organised in all 22 districts.

Khattar launched Mukhyamantri

Antyodaya Parivar Utthan Yojana under

which selection of one lakh poor families

residing in the state who are having lowest

family income would be done through

Parivar Pehchan Patra portal.

So far 65 lakh families have been identified,

he said.

"Every possible effort will be made to

increase the family income of such families'

to at least Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 per

month. For this, the government will

emphasise on the skill development,

besides providing employment opportunities

and financial assistance," he said.

On the occasion the Chief Minister

announced to increase a financial assistance

under the Dr B.R. Ambedkar Awas

Navinikarn Yojna to Rs 80,000 from Rs

50,000 for the repair of houses belonging

to the Scheduled Caste families living

below poverty line (BPL).

He also announced that the BPL families

belonging to any category will be able

to avail the benefits of Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Awas Navinikarn Yojna.

Earlier, this scheme was limited to the

BPL families belonging to the Scheduled

Caste. He said from April 1 the annual

income slab of the BPL families would be

parties always ignored the great saints,

gurus and extraordinary men born in the

Dalit, tribals and Other Backward classes

(OBC) community in the country. This fact

is not hidden from anyone. But now to further

their political agendas, these parties

are seen indulging in different kind of

political theatrics such as celebrating the

icons of the marginalised sections on their

birthdays, etc and also visit their sites.

The BSP supremo said Sant Ravidas

HARYANA CM launches

four schemes to mark

Guru Ravidas anniversary

increased from Rs 1.20 lakh to Rs 1.80

lakh.

Also the legal aid given to the

Scheduled Caste has been increased to Rs

21,000 from Rs 11, 000.

Khattar said in a bid to spread the message

of social harmony, brotherhood, and

removing the evils of casteism, a sum of

Rs 11 crore has been allocated under the

Sant Mahapurush Vichar Samman and

Prasaar Yojana.

Under this scheme, a financial assistance

from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh will be

provided to the social and religious organisations

for holding programmes on the

birth anniversaries of the saint at the block

and gram levels.

spent his whole life in an effort to teach

man to be a good human being. When the

BSP government was formed four times in

Uttar Pradesh, a lot of effort was put in to

make Guru Ravidas ji's dream come true.

Public interest and welfare works were

undertaken in his honour which is not hidden

from anyone. It would be appropriate

if the Central and state governments do

good deeds for society and the country by

following in the revered saint's path.

Pak's PPP leader

claims her house

attacked by goons

Karachi : Pakistan People's Party (PPP)

l e a d e r

Palwasha

Khan on

Saturday said

that her house

was attacked

by five

"goons", as she

feels threatened

by her

move to contest

the Senate

poll. Taking to

Twitter, the

PPP leader

said that she is

"being persecuted for speaking her mind

and for being a woman".

"This is too small a tactic to scare me out

of the fight, I won't give up Inshallah," she

tweeted.

Sharing much details of the Friday night

attack, Palwasha claimed that her Gulistane-Jauhar

house attackers also threatened

her family members with dire consequences,

Geo tv reported. According to the

PPP leader, the attackers had told her family

members to bring her out of the house.

Following the incident, she had filed a

complaint with the police and also

informed Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali

Shah.

Palwasha is currently serving as the

Deputy Information Secretary of the PPP.

She has been nominated as the PPP's

candidate for the upcoming Senate election

alongside other women leaders from the

party, which include Khairunisa Mughal

and Rukhsana Shah.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 9

Why CHILDREN go

missing in Delhi?

New Delhi : Tracing missing children is

one of the prominent challenges before the

Delhi. In recent times, the police have paid

special attention to trace missing children

with the Commissioner announcing out-ofturn

promotion to policemen who trace and

recover missing children.

But why do children in various age groups

under 18 years of age go missing?

A careful analysis of the above question

has led to the discovery of a few important

reasons why children go missing in the capital.

One of the prominent reasons includes

'losing way' that means many children go

missing after they lose their way back home.

In the recent past, many children were

reunited with their parents after they lost

way, and were found stranded at locations

either near their house or at a distant place in

the city.

The second most important factor is 'academic

pressure'. Many children are unable to

cope up with the academic pressure in

schools and run away from their house.

Sometimes, the strict nature of the parents

regarding their annual performance at school

makes them vulnerable to run away.

The third reason is 'getting scolded by

parents'. This again is a major factor as many

children leave home after they do something

for which they think they would be taken to

task by their parents. Unable to cope, they

leave home. 'Elopement' is another major

cause for the children in their late teens but

below 18 years to go missing. Many children

were traced by the police after they eloped

for a wide variety of reasons including marriage.

The fifth reason is children running

away on their own. This also has multiple

factors associated with it depending upon the

state of mind of the child and his or her capability

of dealing with the given circumstances.

Family circumstances form another

big reaons for children to go missing from

their homes.

A careful study of missing children in various

age groups has revealed that a total of

328 children under the age of 8 years went

missing in 2020 which included 186 male

children and 142 females. However, a total

of 226 were traced by Delhi police.

Under the age of 8 years to 12 years, a

total of 385 children went missing in 2020

which included 249 males and 136 females.

The police managed to trace 308 children in

this category. Now upto 12 years to 18 years,

a total of 3,584 children went missing in

2020 out of which 737 were males and 2,847

were females. In this category, a total of

2,723 children were traced by Delhi Police.

In order to motivate the police personnel

to trace or recover the children, who have

gone missing from their home, S.N.

Shrivastava, Delhi Police Commissioner has

issued an incentive scheme on 5th August

2020 to the effect that "Any Constable or

Head Constable who recovers 50 or more

missing children below the age of 14 years

(15 children out of them of the age group less

than 8 years) within a period of 12 calendar

months will be considered for the grant of

out of turn promotion".

Further, those who trace more than 15

children in the same period shall be given

'Asadharan Karya Puraskar'. This order has

brought a sea change in tracing or recovery

of missing children and more and more children

have been traced since August' 2020.

"Two including one woman personnel

were granted out of turn promotion and

seven have been awarded 'Asadharan Karya

Puraskar' in this scheme. A total of 2,027

children were traced after August 6, 2020

whereas 1,968 children were reported missing

during the same period. Recovery percentage

soared to 103 per cent," said a senior

police officer.The officer also added that

4,052 children were traced during 2020

includes 895 children of previous years and

outside Delhi.

NIA names 4 in

Delhi-Jharkhand human

trafficking charge sheet

Ranchi : The National

Investigation Agency (NIA) on

Saturday filed its first supplementary

charge sheet against

four people for running a human

trafficking racket from

Jharkhand to Delhi and neighbouring

states.

The gang used to traffic vulnerable

poor boy and girls from

Jharkhand on the pretext of providing

them jobs in Delhi and

neighbouring states.

The case pertains to human

trafficking in the guise of running

placement agencies. It was

initially registered in Jharkhand's

Khunti district on July 19, 2019

in which 37-year-old kingpin of

the gang, Panna Lal Mahto, was

arrested. Mahato was running a

human trafficking network in

Jharkhand and Delhi.

The NIA took over the case

on June 13 last year.

During investigations, it was

revealed that Panna Lal, along

with his wife Sunita, was operating

a human trafficking network

in the guise of six placement

agencies in Delhi. Sunita is still

absconding. The agency said that

the victims were exploited and

were never paid the promised

remunerations.

Two other accused, Gopal

Oraon and Shiv Shankar Ganjhu,

were arrested during investigations.

They were close associates

of Panna and were actively

involved in trafficking vulnerable

persons from Jharkhand.

Investigation has also

revealed that both were owners

of three placement agencies in

Delhi, involved in human trafficking

racket.

In order to unveil the racket,

twenty-two victims have been

identified, rescued and examined

till now,

the NIA said while presenting

the charge sheet in a special

court here against four people--

Mahato, Sunita, Oraon and

Ganjhu. The accused has been

charged with criminal conspiracy,

Inter-State Migrant Workmen

(Regulation of Employment and

Conditions of Service) Act, 1979

and Section 79 of the Juvenile

Justice (Care and Protection)

Act, 2015 and other various sections

under Indian Penal Code.

2.67 crore voters

in KERALA

Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Chief

Electoral Officer Tikka Ram Meena on

Saturday said Kerala has 2,67,31,509

voters which include 1,37,79,263

women, 1,29,52,025 men and 221 transgender

voters. Kerala will go to the polls

on April 6 to elect 140 legislators for

which votes will

be counted on

May 2.

The polling

time would be

from 7 a.m to 7

p.m., with the last

hour kept for

Covid positive

voters. The rules

now allow for

voters aged over

80 to avail the

postal voting

facility and in the state as there are

6,21,401 voters in this category, while

there are 90,709 non-resident Indian voters.

In the 2016 Assembly polls, 21,498

polling booths were there, but this time

due to the Covid pandemic the number of

polling booths has been increased to

40,771. Meena however pointed out that

the polling time in certain Naxal-affected

areas would end at 6 p.m. "There are 549

critical location

polling booths and

433 come under

the vulnerable category

and all these

booths will have

central security

cover. Webcasting

would be there in

50 per cent of

polling booths,"

said Meena.

He pointed out

that they he has

asked for 150 companies of central

forces, of which 30 have already arrived

in the state.

China's standing committee

session opens Saturday

Beijing : China's top legislature on

Saturday opened the 26th Standing

Committee session of the 13th NPC, which

is slated for March 5.

It is a step towards preparation of the

upcoming fourth annual session, Xinhua

reported. According to the proposed agenda,

lawmakers will review the work report of the

NPC Standing Committee at the two-day

standing committee session. The work report

will be submitted to the annual Assembly of

the legislature in March for deliberation.

Lawmakers will review the draft agenda

for the NPC annual session, the draft name

list of the session's presidium and Secretary-

General and the draft name list of members

invited to sit in on the annual session as the

non-voting participants.

They will also deliberate a draft law on

stamp duty, a law-enforcement report of the

State Council, a Supreme People's Court

report on its pilot reform project, a deputy

qualification report and personnel-related

bills.


10 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Bollywood still links women's

beauty to fair skin, reveals AI

New York : For Bollywood, beautiful

women have fair skin, according

to an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-

based computer analysis which

reveals that conception of beauty has

remained consistent through the

years in the film industry centred in

Mumbai. The automated computer

analysis was led by Indian-origin

researchers at Carnegie Mellon

University (CMU) in the US.

The research revealed that babies

whose births were depicted in

Bollywood films from the 1950s and

60s were more often than not boys; in

today's films, boy and girl newborns

are about evenly split.

In the 50s and 60s, dowries were

socially acceptable; today, not so

much.

The researchers, led by Kunal

Khadilkar and Ashiqur

KhudaBukhsh of CMU's Language

Technologies Institute (LTI), gathered

100 Bollywood movies from

each of the past seven decades along

with 100 of the top-grossing

Hollywood moves from the same

periods. They then used statistical

language models to analyse subtitles

of those 1,400 films for gender and

social biases, looking for such factors

as what words are closely associated

with each other. "Most cultural studies

of movies might consider five or

10 movies," said Khadilkar, a master's

student in LTI. "Our method can

look at 2,000 movies in a matter of

days." For instance, the researchers

assessed beauty conventions in

movies by using a so-called cloze

test. Essentially, it's a fill-in-theblank

exercise: "A beautiful woman

should have BLANK skin."

A language model normally would

predict "soft" as the answer, the

researchers noted. But when the

model was trained with the

Bollywood subtitles, the consistent

prediction became "fair".

The same thing happened when

Hollywood subtitles were used,

though the bias was less pronounced,

said the study.

To assess the prevalence of male

characters, the researchers used a

metric called Male Pronoun Ratio

(MPR), which compares the occurrence

of male pronouns such as "he"

and "him" with the total occurrences

of male and female pronouns.

From 1950 through today, the

MPR for Bollywood and Hollywood

movies ranged from roughly 60 to 65

MPR.

Looking at words associated with

dowry over the years, the researchers

found such words as "loan," "debt"

and "jewelry" in Bollywood films of

the 50s, which suggested compliance.

By the 1970s, other words,

such as "consent" and "responsibility,"

began to appear. Finally, in the

2000s, the words most closely associated

with dowry -- including "trouble,"

"divorce" and "refused" -- indicate

noncompliance or its consequences.

"All of these things we kind

of knew," said KhudaBukhsh, an LTI

project scientist, "but now we have

numbers to quantify them. And we

can also see the progress over the last

70 years as these biases have been

reduced." The findings were presented

at the Association for the

Advancement of Artificial

Intelligence virtual conference earlier

this month.

The Girl On The Train: Derailed drama

Don't sit on the edge of your seat

as you watch this, you might just fall

Shekhar moots divorce.

Broken emotionally and psychologically,

The Girl On The Train, sadly, is

crushed by weak screen-writing

off dozing.

Mira stops practising law (Ribhu Dasgupta and Viddesh

They needn't worry about comparisons,

there's scope for none. Ribhu

Dasgupta's Bollywoodised rehash

although she continues 'going to

work'. During her daily trips by train

she sees the old house she once

Malandkar), even in its early portions.

For that reason, despite its polished

(oops, adaptation) of Paula Hawkins'

shared with Shekhar, now occupied

look (Tribhuvan Babu

bestseller of the same name is too

by a happy couple, Nusrat (Aditi Rao Sadineni's cinematography deserves

lazy to recreate the slow-burn shock

Hydari) and Anand (Shamaun mention), the film fails to hold attention.

value of the novel and banks on a tangle

of too many inconsequential

twists.

Ahmed). Mira finds the resonance of

a perfect marriage in Nusrat's life as

she watches her from the window of

Sluggish editing (Sangeeth

Varghese) and a couple of unnecessary

songs (music is Sunny and Inder

Hawkins' written work, an

her train every day. One day, she sees Bawra, and Vipin Patwa) fitted into

intensely psychological piece, was

always a challenge to recreate on

screen. A lot of the 'action' in the

book is actually internalised and it

unfolds as thought process of the protagonist.

You realised this aspect

even while watching the Hollywood

adaptation of 2016, starring Emily

Blunt. However, Blunt did a great job

conveying pain through silences,

bringing alive emptiness in her gaze.

Parineeti Chopra on the other

hand goes over the top trying to

underline the fact that the protagonist,

introduced here as Mira Kapoor,

is in pain. She shrieks and screams a

lot, frowns and glares, and acts as if

her character was on substance (okay,

she is an alcoholic for most parts).

A brief prelude tells us why Mira

ends up this way after we see her start

off as an alpha woman in London --

successful lawyer at work, and happily

married at home. She has a doting

husband, Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary),

and they are expecting their first

child.

The picture of bliss is shattered

when she suffers a miscarriage after

an accident. The doctor says the accident

has caused anterograde amnesia,

Mira becomes an alcoholic and

Nusrat in an intimate pose on the balcony,

with a man who clearly isn't her

husband.

The first of the film's major twists

comes early on, when Nusrat goes

missing and is subsequently found

dead in Greenwich forest. A turbaned

female officer, simply presented as

Inspector Kaur (Kirti Kulhari), investigates

the case, and circumstantial

evidence seems to point at Mira.

All of that is actually the build-up,

meant to gradually engage the viewer

before the mystery unravels. In most

potboiler thrillers, the build-up at

least is absorbing -- if anything, for

the intrigue it is supposed to raise.

the narrative don't help much.

Among the few things that might

stay on in your mind is Aditi Rao

Hydari's act as Nusrat, in a brief but

impactful portrayal. Most of the cast

is strictly average, almost unsure

about how to deal with the half-baked

characters they get to play out.

Strictly by Bollywood standards

of thrillers, and if you haven't seen

the Hollywood film or read the novel,

this Hindi remake could seem unusual.

But those who have an idea of the

original, might just be disappointed.

The girl, her train, and the whole

jingbang that goes with it, never quite

manage to get on track.

China's R&D

spending to hit

$372B in 2020

Beijing : China's spending on research and

development (R&D) has seen rapid growth during

the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).

Its total expenditure on R&D in 2020 is projected

to reach 2.4 trillion yuan (about $372 billion),

announced Minister of Science and

Technology, Wang Zhigang. China's spending on

basic research in 2020 has nearly doubled that of

2015 and will likely exceed 150 billion yuan in

2020.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-

2020), spending on basic research achieved an

overall growth rate of 16.9 percent, Wang said.

The contribution rate of scientific and technological

progress is projected to reach 60 percent in

2020, and the proportion of the scientifically literate

Chinese population has surpassed 10 percent,

reports Xinhua news agency.

China's ranking in the Global Innovation Index,

released by the World Intellectual Property

Organisation, went from 29th in 2015 to 14th in

2020, Wang added.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

11

21% Indians to take Covid

vax at pvt HOSPITALS

Kapu reservation leaders

summoned for burning train

Amaravati : Kapu reservation movement leader Mudragada Padmanabham

and 41 others were served summons by the Railway Court for their alleged role

in the burning of a train five years ago in East Godavari district of Andhra

Pradesh. On January 31, 2016, a large meeting was convened at Tuni in East

Godavari district as part of the Kapu community's fight for reservation.

On that fateful day, Ratnachal Express was set on fire, allegedly by the agitators,

prompting the Railway Police to file cases on Padmanabham and 41 others

under Sections 146, 147, 153 and 174 under the relevant Railway rules.

All the accused persons are required to appear on March 3 in the Vijayawada

Railway Court. Along with Padmanabham, Manchala Sai Sudhakar Naidu is also

one of the summoned persons.

Padmanabam has been fighting for the cause of Kapu reservation dedicatedly

since a long time and had questioned former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam

Party (TDP) supremo N Chandrababu Naidu for not keeping his 2014 election

promise of providing reservation for the community.

New Delhi : As the next phase of the

Covid vaccination drive is slated to

commence in two days, 21 per cent of

Indians are likely to take their vaccines

on payment basis at private hospitals, a

survey has revealed. In the upcoming

round, citizens above 60 years of age,

and people above 45 years of age with

co-morbidities will be eligible for the

vaccination. Meanwhile, the cumulative

number of coronavirus vaccine doses

administered to healthcare and frontline

workers has crossed 1.42 crore in the

country.

The government has decided to allow

close to 24,000 private hospitals across

the country to start inoculation of

Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in the

next round of vaccination programme

come March 1. It is likely to be priced at

Rs 250 per dose. Government hospitals

will continue the vaccination at no cost

to citizens. Taking cognisance of recent

development of permitting private hospitals

to vaccinate senior citizens aged

over 60 and those with co-morbidities

aged over 45, 'LocalCircles' conducted a

survey to understand the percentage of

people that would prefer getting the

vaccine at a private hospital on payment

basis and what is the maximum price

citizens are willing to pay.

The survey, which received more

that 16,000 responses from people

located in 266 districts of India, showed

that 21 per cent Indians are likely to

take their vaccine on payment basis at a

private hospital.

The majority of 35 per cent of citizens

said they "will be taking the vaccine

at a government centre", while 21

per cent said they "will be taking it

through a private hospital". There were

also 27 per cent of citizens who said

they "will take it but are not sure how".

Further breaking down the poll, it

has been learnt that 5 per cent of citizens

"have already taken the vaccine",

while 6 per cent of citizens said "can't

say", and another 6 per cent said they

"do not have any member of the family

who meets the above criteria".

It is noteworthy that another 27 per

cent citizens plan to take the vaccine but

are currently unsure about whether they

will go to a private hospital or a government

centre. This indicates that if the

private hospital vaccination drive takes

off, many more could opt for it given a

better experience.

About 75 per cent of outpatient care

in India and 55 per cent of inpatient care

in India is provided by the private

healthcare sector. Though the vaccine at

a government centre will be free, there

is a general preference for private

healthcare in India.

The surveyor next tried to understand

the tentative perception as to how much

are people willing to pay for two doses

if any of their family members are eligible

for the vaccine in this next phase. In

response, 17 per cent said "up to Rs

200", 22 per cent said "up to Rs 300", 24

per cent said "up to Rs 600", 16 per cent

said "up to Rs 1,000", and 6 per cent

said "above Rs 1,000", while 15 per cent

couldn't say. The findings of the poll

suggests that 63 per cent of those planning

to take the COVID-19 vaccine in

the next phase at a private hospital will

not pay more than Rs 600 in total

charges for two doses.

This indicates that the government

must make all attempts to ensure that

the private hospitals get the vaccine at

the lowest cost possible so they can

deliver within this budget specified by

the majority of citizens.

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channel 772.

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12 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Miffed Adhir pauses his speech

as Siddiqui arrives at rally

Kolkata : The Brigade rally jointly

held by the CPI-M-led Left front,

Congress and the Pirzada Abbas

Siddiqui-led Indian Secular Front

(ISF) was organised on Sunday to display

the strength of a political alternative

to the people in West Bengal

ahead of the high-octane Assembly

elections.

The mega political show was organised

at a time when the Left front and

the Congress have already finalised on

a seat-sharing agreement. Talks

between the Left and ISF have also

been sealed as both the parties have

agreed upon 30 seats for the newlyfloated

political outfit.

But the trouble remained over seatsharing

between the Congress and the

ISF, as the negotiations between two

parties are still underway.

On Sunday, the Congress-ISF disagreement

came out in the open when

Siddiqui arrived at the Brigade rally

and walked up on the dais. Senior

Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was

addressing the crowed at the time. As

people started raising 'Bhaijaan' slogans

to welcome the ISF chief,

Chowdhury had to stop his speech

abruptly and tried to get back to his

seat. Everyone on the podium stood up

to welcome Siddiqui and they

exchanged greetings with the ISF

chief, but Chowdhury was not seen

doing the same.

Left front chairman Biman Bose,

CPI-M leaders Md Salim and

Suryakanta Mishra came to the scene

to convince the Congress parliamentary

leader to cool down and not to end

his speech, but Chowdhury was seen

nodded his head constantly. He even

put on the mask that he was wearing.

Siddiqui then whispered something to

the ears of Chowdhury and finally

Biman Bose came and took him to the

front row of the stage to deliver his

remaining speech.

"This alliance is not based on any

religious ground. We want a secular

democratic front to be established in

Bengal. We want to defeat the communal

forces. There will be a fight. We are

looking at a rainbow of change,"

Chowdhury said.

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram

Yechuri also said that the people of

Bengal want a secular, democratic

political alternative. "We want a people's

government in West Bengal. We

don't want any divide on the basis of

religious affiliations," he said.

It was the first time that the CPI-M

led Left front and the Congress jointly

organised a rally at Kolkata's iconic

Brigade parade ground.

Thousands of Left and Congress

supporters from various districts came

to attend the rally. Camps were opened

at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations.

Both the parties took out numerous

processions and ran extensive

campaigns on social media, asking

people to attend the political programme.

But the three-party electoral coalition

missed its poster boy and former

West Bengal Chief Minister

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the rally,

as he failed to be a part of the meeting

this time owing to poor health. The

Left leadership in Bengal wanted

Bhattacharjee to be present at the mega

show. But at the last hour, the ex-CM

sent a written communication to the

party saying he won't be to able to

make it to the rally because of his ailing

health. Wishing the mega political

show luck, he further said that mentally

he would remain at the Brigade

rally, but his physical condition would

not permit him to attend it.

Senior Congress leader and

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh

Baghel was also present at the rally.

The Left-Congress and ISF coalition

launched its poll campaign from

the mega show in order to mark the

beginning of their canvassing for the

forthcoming Assembly elections.

'Addressing sugarcane farmers' concern to help party'

New Delhi : The Western UP BJP leaders feel

addressing the concerns of sugarcane farmers will

help the party to win back their confidence as the

anger of sugarcane farmers is resonating across the

area along with the ongoing agitation against the

three Central farm laws at Delhi borders.

A BJP leader said that a delegation of party leaders

including Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan, MPs

Raj Kumar Chahar, Satypal Singh and Bhola Singh

and others met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi

Adityanath over the issues related to sugarcane farmers

including the State Advised Price (SAP).

"The leaders met the Chief Minister and explained

the issues affecting the farmers. At the same time,

they also said that the SAP has not been increased for

the past few years is a matter of serious concern,"

said a senior BJP leader. "Farmers in Western UP, a

Jat dominated area, are angry with the state government

for not increasing the SAP for sugarcane for the

past few years," said another BJP leader. On

February 14, the Uttar Pradesh government had

cleared a proposal to maintain the status quo on SAP

for 2020-21.

"There is strong resentment among farmers over

the government decision over SAP," BJP leaders

feel. As per the local reports received by the BJP

leaders, farmers from a few districts such as

Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat in the Western UP

have been supporting the farmers agitation led by

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.

Pandemic affected

tourists' behaviour

: Study

London : The pandemic has

affected tourists' attitudes and behaviours

in unforeseen ways, often subconsciously,

said a new study.

The study, published in the journal

Annals of Tourism Research,

indicated that post-pandemic tourism

could curb our motivation for new

adventures.

"We found that a Covid-19 threat

also made people overestimate the

crowdedness of public spaces and

feeling uncomfortable in crowded

places like restaurants or shopping

malls," said researcher Florian Kock

from Copenhagen Business School.

"Understanding the long-term

psychological impact of the pandemic

will be a crucial success factor for

businesses during and long after the

Covid-19 era," Kock added.

For the study, the team implemented

two survey-based studies at

the start of the pandemic with 960

travellers to understand the deeprooted

changes of travel attitude and

behaviour, gathering empirical

insights.

They found that feeling vulnerable

to Covid-19 activates a so-called

'behavioural immune system' that in

turn makes people engage in various

behaviours that helped our ancestors

survive when facing a disease.

In the first study, the authors

measured the degree to which individuals

perceive a higher infection

risk of Covid-19.

They found that those who fear

Covid-19 are more prone to being

nationalistic and xenophobic, meaning

that they favour those who are

like themselves and avoid foreigners.

In the second study, they found

that those tourists who perceive

Covid-19 as a big threat, subconsciously

engage in behaviours in

order to lower their travel-related

risk perceptions.

As such, tourists found strategies

to mitigate the travel risk by, for

example, travelling in groups, buying

travel insurance, and visiting the

places they had visited before, thereby

increasing destination loyalty.

Two manual scavengers die in Chennai,

death toll at six for this month alone!

City police say the private

contractor has been arrested

under sections of IPC and the

Prohibition of Employment

as Manual Scavengers and

their Rehabilitation Act

Two people died of asphyxiation

on February 26, 2021

while cleaning a sewage tank in

Chennai, reported The Hindu.

This brings the total death toll

due to manual scavenging to

six in just this month in Tamil

Nadu.

According to local police,

the sewage was pumped to a

tank at the MES Army office in

the Tamil Nadu Secretariat

complex on Flag Staff Road.

The cleaning contract was

given to a private contractor

from Srital Systems in

Madhavaram, who was booked

under the Prohibition of

Employment as Manual

Scavengers and their

Rehabilitation Act and for

causing death by negligence.

The accused engaged five

men from Sathya Nagar all of

whom entered the tank for

cleaning. However, around 11

AM, 35-year-old K. Santhosh

collapsed inside the tank. His

colleague, 40-year-old K. Raja

tried to rescue him but also fell

unconscious. They were

declared dead due to asphyxiation

at the Rajiv Gandhi

Government General Hospital.

Other workers, Venkatesh,

Panneerselvam and

Manivannan, managed to get

out of the tank alive.

Earlier, on February 14,

three persons died in

Kancheepuram district

due to the same reason,

followed by yet

another death of a

worker cleaning

sewage from a 30-feet

deep well in Chennai

on February 17,

reported NewsClick.

As per central government

records,

Tamil Nadu ranks second

in terms of number

of people dying

because of manual

scavenging. The

Union government

data states that 43 people

died due to manual scavenging

in the last five years.

However, NGO Safai

Karamchari Andolan (SKA)

stated that on-ground reports

show that the fatality number is

69 deaths. This means that as

per SKA data, Tamil Nadu

ranks number one in the list of

manual scavenging deaths followed

by Uttar Pradesh that

records 55 deaths in the NGO’s

report.

Accordingly, the SKA website

states that in Tamil Nadu,

as many as 2,03,134 people are

engaged in cleaning dry

latrines, 334 people are

engaged in sewage cleaning

while 73 deaths have been

reported.

Courtesy : Sabrang


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

13

Google AI helping India

boost maternal health

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS)

Researchers from Google Research and

IIT Madras have designed an AI technology

that could provide an indication

of women who are at risk of dropping

out from the health information programme.

The technology has helped non-profit

organisation ARMMAN to personalise

interventions and retain women in

the health programmes, improving

maternal health outcomes.

Test results demonstrated that use of

AI technology was able to bring down

the risk of drop-offs by up to 32 per cent

for women at high risk of dropping out,

Google has announced.

ARMMAN runs mMitra, a free

mobile voice call service that sends

timely and targeted preventive care

information to expectant and new mothers.

"Adherence to such public health

programs is a big challenge but timely

intervention to retain people is beneficial

to improve maternal health outcomes,"

Google said.

The team is currently working

towards scaling this to more than

300,000 women in mMitra.

"We are excited to continue to support

ARMMAN as the project team

increases the reach of this technology to

over one million mothers and children

New York : Researchers have

shown that a combination of

deep brain stimulation (DBS)

and exercise has potential benefits

for treating ataxia.

Ataxia is a rare genetic neurodegenerative

disease characterized

by progressive irreversible

problems with movement.

Working with a mouse

model of the human condition,

the researchers discovered that

combining DBS targeted to the

cerebellum, a major motor center

in the brain, and exercise rescued

limb coordination and stepping.

"People with ataxia usually

have progressive problems with

in 2021," the tech giant said in a statement

on Saturday.

To support ARMMAN's growing

efforts, Google.org has committed

another $530,000 to scale the use of AI

'Brain stimulation & exercise can

restore movement in ataxia'

movement, including impaired

balance and coordination that

affect the person's ability to

walk, talk and use fine motor

skills," said researcher Lauren

Miterko from the Baylor College

of Medicine in the US.

"There are limited treatment

options for this condition, and

patients typically survive 15 to

20 years after symptoms first

appear," the researcher added.

In addition, the study, published

in the journal Nature

Communications, showed that

stimulating mice with earlystage

ataxia showed the most

dramatic improvements.

DBS currently is used to

relieve motor dysfunction in

Parkinson's disease and other

movement conditions, but its

value in treating ataxia has not

been extensively explored.

For the study, the researchers

worked with Car8, a mouse

model of hereditary ataxia to

investigate whether adjusting the

parameters of DBS and the stimulation

target location would

help increase the treatment's efficacy

for the condition.

"We first targeted the cerebellum,

because it's a primary

motor center in the brain and this

target location for DBS has seen

encouraging success for treating

motor problems that are associated

with other conditions, such

as a stroke," Miterko said.

"We systematically targeted

the cerebellum with different

frequencies of DBS and determined

whether there was an

optimal frequency that would

boost the efficacy of the treatment.

When we used a particular

frequency, 13 Hz, that was when

motor function improved in our

Car8 mice," the researcher

added.

New York : Researchers have

discovered a slimy strategy used

by bacteria to defeat antibiotics

and other drugs used to combat

infections afflicting people with

cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening

disease that causes persistent

lung infections

and limits a person's

ability to

breathe over time.

A common

strain of bacteria,

Pseudomonas

aeruginosa, often

thrives in the lungs

of people with cystic

fibrosis, as well

as in wounds from

burns or diabetic

ulcers.

Once a P. aeruginosa infection

is established, it can be

incredibly difficult to cure,

despite repeated courses of

antibiotics, said the researchers,

including Laura Jennings, from

the University of Montana.

The research, published in the

for social good to reach underserved

women and children.

Google AI is helping Indian nonprofits

and universities solve big challenges

in the field of public health, conservation,

agriculture and education.

The company announced Google

Research India, an AI Lab in Bengaluru,

in 2019.

In 2020, Google announced AI for

journal Cell Reports, showed

that the stubborn germs living in

the lungs of cystic fibrosis

patients create a self-produced

carbohydrate slime.

And this slime makes the bacteria

more resistant to the antibiotics

prescribed by doctors, as

well as drugs that reduce the

thickness of mucus.

"We found the first direct evidence

that these carbohydrates

are produced at the sites of infection.

We showed that one of the

carbohydrates, called Pel, sticks

to extracellular DNA, which is

Social Good would support six projects

from NGOs and academic collaborations

to utilise the application of AI to

assist underserved communities that

have not traditionally benefited from the

prowess of AI.

With technical and scientific contributions

from Google Research and

Singapore Management University,

Wildlife Conservation Trust designed

AI models that help predict humanwildlife

conflict in Bramhapuri forest

division in Tadoba, Maharashtra.

These novel AI techniques provide

over 80 per cent accuracy in predicting

human-wildlife conflict in the

Bramhapuri forest division in the test

results.

This work is currently being fieldtested

in Chandrapur district, Madhya

Pradesh, to ensure safe deployment,

Google said.

In yet another example of AI, Google

said that creation tools in low-resource

languages suffer from very low accuracy,

adding barriers to content creation.

The team at AI4Bharat and IIT

Madras, with support from Google, has

developed state-of-the-art Natural

Language Understanding tools to develop

open-language models for two lowresource

languages (Konkani, Maithal),

making story-reading easier for more

than 70,000 children.

How bacteria defeat

cystic fibrosis drugs

abundant in the thick mucus

secretions prominent in cystic

fibrosis lungs," Jennings said.

"This interaction makes a

slimy protective layer around the

bacteria, making them harder to

kill. As such, it reduces the

pathogen's susceptibility to

antibiotics and drugs

aimed at reducing the

thickness of airway

mucus by digesting

DNA," she added.

The researcher

said the work supports

a hypothesis

that it's the carbohydrates

that group, or

aggregate, the bacteria

in cystic fibrosis

lungs.

The research also

suggests that the carbohydrate

Pel likely diminishes the efficacy

of the most commonly used

therapeutics for cystic fibrosis,

which are inhaled antibiotics and

a drug that breaks down the

thickness of the airway mucus,

making it easier to cough up.


14 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

New Dehi : A pain in the neck

happens to be the fourth leading cause

of disability globally, lagging behind

ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular

disease, and lower respiratory

infection. Neck pain can interfere

with daily life, including the ability to

feel productive, sleep, and enjoy time

with family. It is a common occurrence

among the working population

usually engaged in tech jobs or desk

jobs.

Srikanth H.S, Sr. Naturopath,

Jindal Naturecure Institute, points out

that there are several factors that can

result in neck pain like stress, poor

posture, obesity, muscle inflammation,

arthritis, and injuries.

"The best way to deal with neck

pain is to minimise it in the first place.

Naturopathy offers safe and effective

alternatives to deal with neck pain

without falling prey to the side-effects

of pharmaceutical drugs. Blending in

the goodness of natural therapies like

yoga, massage, herbs, and acupuncture,

along with lifestyle modifications,

naturopathy can bring huge

relief from neck pain," he says.

Risks of Neck Pain

The expert says:"The common

causes of neck pain are muscle strain

and nerve compression. However, the

symptoms alone cannot indicate

which one of these is occurring.

Muscle strain usually results from

poor posture, repeated lifting, sleep,

stress, or anxiety. Nerve compression

can occur when a disc in the spine

slips out of its position and pinches or

presses the nerves, or when the tissues

in the neck get inflamed or swollen

causing the nerves in the area to get

squeezed. Whatever the cause, ongoing

chronic neck pain shouldn't be

neglected as it can lead to a lifetime of

disability or even permanent damage."

He suggests naturopathy ways to

treat neck pain:

The risks of a pain

in the neck and

how to manage it

Yoga

The ancient art of yoga has been

demonstrated to help people with

chronic pain including neck pain.

Studies have shown that yoga asanas

help to reduce pain perception,

improves mobility, and decrease

inflammation. Even 15 to 20 minutes

of yoga exercises a day can relax the

body, stretch the muscles, increase

blood circulation, and minimise the

chances of neck pain. Some of the

common yoga asanas which can be

practiced for neck pain are

Marjariasana (Cat Pose), Bitilasana

(Cow Pose), Balasana (Child's Pose),

Natarajasana (Reclining Twist Pose),

Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall

Pose), and Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Massage

Several studies have pointed out that

massage therapy can offer relief from

neck pain and improve range of motion

when performed by qualified professionals.

Massage therapy usually

involves the use of the hands to manipulate

soft tissues, like the tendons and

muscles, increase blood circulation,

and reduce muscle tension. It helps to

ease up the sore, numb and stiff muscles

in the spinal area and neck region.

Herbs

Herbal treatments have been used

for ages to treat pains of different

sorts. Herbal remedies can be sipped

like tea, infused in the bathwater, used

as an oil, or inhaled as aromatherapy.

Devil's Claw is a popular herb that can

substantially reduce neck pain and

even improve physical functioning in

osteoarthritis patients. Other than that,

Lavender, Kudzu, and St. John's Wort

are some of the most popular herbs

that help relieve neck pain and lower

back pain. For maximum effects,

these herbs should be taken under the

guidance of expert professionals.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a thousand of years

old technique that involves pricks in

the skin with needles at specific points

on the body. The frequency and duration

of acupuncture sessions may

depend on how long the neck pain has

already lasted, and also severity of the

symptoms. Some studies have

revealed that acupuncture can stimulate

biochemical changes both locally

(where the needles are placed) and in

the central nervous system. These biochemical

changes may help to bring

pain relief and other beneficial effects

in some cases.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications play a significant

role in the management of

neck aches and stiffness. Practicing

good posture while at work or home

should be a key priority for those suffering

from neck pain. Getting good

sleep and maintaining the spine in a

comfortable position throughout the

night, regular neck exercises, and taking

breaks in between work and

stretching are some of the ways to

reduce strain on the neck and keep it

relaxed.

Genes that ups obesity

risk but protect identified

London : Researchers have

identified a range of genes that

are linked to both elevated levels

of body fat, as well as offering

protection from some of

the negative health impacts of

obesity.

According to the

researchers, people living with

obesity tend to have unhealthy

glucose and lipid levels in their

blood, as well as high blood

pressure. As a result, they are

more at risk of cardiovascular

and metabolic diseases.

But researchers have

observed that up to 45 per cent

of people living with obesity

have healthy blood pressure

and glucose and lipid levels,

and therefore may not be at

high risk of disease.

"The identified genes seem

to benefit our health by helping to maintain a

healthy fat tissue," said researcher Tuomas

Kilpelainen from the University of

Copenhagen.

"Some of the genes may offer targets for

the development of new therapies that lower

the risk of diabetes and heart disease by

improving the health of our fat tissue,"

Kilpelainen added.

For the study, published in the journal

Nature Metabolism, the team analyzed data

from hundreds of thousands people who had

been assessed for their body fat and disease

risk markers.A They identified 62 sections of

the genome that were significantly

associated with both

high levels of body fat and

lower risk of cardiometabolic

diseases.

Further analyses showed

that the genes had a range of

functions in the body, including

the regulation and development

of fat cells, distribution

of body fat, as well as

energy regulation and inflammation.

The researchers then carried

out the computational

analyses that identified the

genes.

"We used a data-driven

approach in this study, which

led us to find new genes associated

with fat tissue health,

instead of the known obesity

genes associated with central

nervous system, which control satiety and

are typically linked to unhealthy obesity," the

researchers said.

The researchers conclude that obesity is a

complex disease but not every individual

with excess body weight is equally at risk of

developing cardiometabolic diseases.

S.KOREA reports 356 new

Covid cases, 89,676 in total

Seoul : South Korea reported 356 more cases of Covid-19 as of

midnight Saturday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number

of infections to 89,676.

The daily caseload was down from 415 in the previous day, but it

hovered above 100 since November 8 owing to small cluster infections

in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as

imported cases, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Of the new cases, 117 were Seoul residents and 139 were people

residing in Gyeonggi province.

Twenty-two cases were imported from overseas, lifting the combined

figure to 7,046. Eight more deaths were confirmed, leaving the

death toll at 1,603. The total fatality rate stood at 1.79 per cent.

A total of 364 more patients were discharged from quarantine after

making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 80,697.

The total recovery rate was 89.99 per cent.

The country tested more than 6.64 million people, among whom

6,486,441 tested negative for the virus and 72,889 are being checked.

Since the mass vaccination campaign was launched on February

26, the country administered the first shots of Covid-19 vaccines to a

total of 20,322 people.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Caste

The Supreme Court has issued

notice to the government on a petition

seeking caste-based census in 2021.

The plea filed by one G Mallesh

Yadav has sought directions to be

issued to the Ministry of Home

Affairs, Department of Social Justice

and Empowerment, and the National

Commission of Backward Classes

(NCBC) for conducting a caste-wise

census for backward classes in 2021.

As per LiveLaw, the petitioner has

argued that the caste-wise census of

backward classes has an imperative

role in implementing reservations

regarding education, employment sectors,

panchayat raj elections and

municipal elections and lack of such

census creates problems in deciding

the percentage of reservations for

backward classes proportionate to

their population. The plea states that a

proforma of 2021 population census

has columns for Scheduled castes and

Scheduled Tribes but not for OBCs.

The plea refers to the Rohini

Commission of 2017, which was set

up to make recommendations for the

benefit of marginalised communities

in the existing OBCs but the

Commission has sought extension

nine times until now.

The caste census debate

The last caste-based census was

held in 1931, and discontinued after

independence. But a need for caste

census was felt against and in 1961 a

caste survey was conducted only

including SC and STs, excluding the

OBCs. In 2011 the Manmohan Singh

government included caste in the census

but the report has been withheld

ever since. The Rohini Commission

has proposed to divide the 27% reservation

for the castes on the Central list

into four sub-categories.

Justice Vangala Eswaraiah, Former

NCBC chairman whose tenure ended

in 2016, has said that if the government

wants to sub-categorise the

OBCs in order to give them justice, it

MP: Over 5 kg opium in

chocolate wrappers recovered

Betul (Madhya Pradesh) : Acting on a tip-off, the police here

seized 5.6 kg of opium worth Rs 2 crore, which was being smuggled

in chocolate wrappers.

According to the police, an informer reported that opium

wrapped in chocolate wrappers was being transported from Multai

to Parsodi Road in a white-colour Innova car.

During the police raid led by Additional Superintendent of

Police, Shraddha Joshi, and Police Sub-Divisional Officer, Nitesh

Patel, they searched the car and recovered a huge amount of narcotic

substance wrapped in chocolate wrappers hidden under the

car seat. Nearly 3 kg of opium was recovered from the car. A person

identified as Mugsingh Rajpurohit and the car driver Suresh

Pawar were arrested.

According to Superintendent of Police (SP), Simala Prasad,

search operations were conducted at the confectionery shop and

godown of the prime accused Rajpurohit.

As much as 2.6 kg of opium and empty wrappers of chocolates

were recovered from the godown of the main accused taking the

total recovery to 5.6 kg. The price of the drugs seized is estimated

to be nearly Rs two crore in the international market.

NEWS

SC issues notice in plea

seeking caste-based

census in 2021

The last caste-based census was held in 1931, and the

reservations for OBCs was decided on the data.

should either publicise the data of

Socio Economic and Caste Census

(SECC)-2011 or it should conduct a

caste census. He terms the sub-categorisation,

proposed by the Rohini

Commission as “un-scientific, atrocious

and illegal”, Indian Express

reported.

In December 2020, Tamil Nadu

government appointed a Commission

headed by former High Court judge A

Kulasekaran to go into the modalities

PSLV C-51 launch:

Telugu states' CMs

hail ISRO

Hyderabad : Telangana Chief Minister K.

Chandrasekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh

counterpart Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on

Sunday congratulated Indian Space Research

Organization (ISRO) for successful launch of

PSLV-C51.

Chandrasekhar Rao said that with the

launch of PSLV-C5 the first dedicated commercial

satellite, ISRO has proved to be one of

the world's leading space research organisation.

The Telangana CM also said that many

countries have chosen ISRO for their technical

needs and has once again brought a reputation

to our country. He congratulated the scientists,

engineers, other technical staff and employees

of the ISRO for achieving success.

Jagan Mohan Reddy also congratulated

ISRO scientists for the successful launch of

PSLV- C 51. He wished the ISRO team success

in all future endeavours.

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

15

on the gathering of quantifiable data

for a caste census.

Karnataka had conducted a Social

and Education Survey in 2015 when

Siddaramaiah was the Chief Minister

but that report has also not been publicly

released. As per a Deccan Herald

report, the survey, which was partially

leaked, but never officially released,

reveals that SC/STs, Muslims and

Kurubas now constitute close to 50%

of the population and outnumber

Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who have

dominated the political scene in the

state by the virtue of their perceived

numbers. Recently, some BJP members

in the state put pressure on the

government to immediately release

the survey report. “Powerful uppercaste

communities carry out rallies

demanding fulfilment of their

demands. But some backward communities

do not even know how many

of them live in the State and where. I

demand that the government release

the report and come clean with its

stand on the issue,” KP Nanjundi said.

Sociologist Satish Deshpande in an

interview with IndiaSpend with was

reported by Scroll Has emphasised the

importance of caste-based census,

“For example, [data about] the OBC

category does not tell us about the

population of the various, different

castes that constitute this category in

different regions/states. If we had this

data, then meaningful aggregates

could be put together in a region-specific

manner, leading to more useful

information. This is far more valuable

than very large aggregations such as

“OBC” that conceal many differences

within a cluster without the opportunity

to disaggregate.”

A Hindustan Times report favouring

caste-based census has justified

the need for the same stating that only

about 100 affluent communities

among the more than 2,633 OBCs

have gained most from the 27% OBC

reservation. The reservation was

implemented on the basis of the 1931

caste census, which found 52% of

Indians were OBC and the government

adopted the Mandal Commission

recommendation to provide the 27%

reservation, the report states.

Courtesy : Sabrang

Education must evolve,

says Sheikh Hasina

Dhaka : Bangladesh Prime Minister

Sheikh Hasina has called for greater

emphasis on science and technology, and

technical education to ensure employment

opportunities for the people in keeping

with the requirements of the modern

age. Hasina said this while speaking at

the inaugural event for the distribution of

stipends, tuition fees, admission assistance

and financial

grants among

poor and meritorious

students

under the Prime

Minister's

Education

Assistance Trust

via video conference

on Sunday,

bdnews24 reported.

She said the

government is setting up various universities

in the country with the aim of providing

the necessary tools to succeed in

the modern workplace.

"We have established the Maritime

University, the Civil Aviation and

Aerospace University. In other words, we

are looking at the subjects and the kind of

education that is very important in different

parts of Bangladesh and setting universities

accordingly. We are doing this so

that everyone can receive a proper education."

Education in science and technology

alongside technical training is crucial as it

improves job prospects, according to the

Awami League chief.

"It's relevant both at home and abroad.

And it's necessary in our country in light

of the 100 economic

zones that we are

creating. There will

be domestic and

foreign investment.

It will take a lot of

people with technical

expertise there.

Therefore, we want

to create a skilled

workforce."

"If we create

skilled manpower,

they will be able to make a huge contribution

to our economic development.

Therefore, we are taking various measures

to that end." The Prime Minister also

highlighted the steps taken by her father

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to

modernise and develop the education system

of the country while outlining the

various initiatives taken in this regard by

her Awami League government.


16 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

FALSELY implicated, as I was successful in

generating support for farmers: Nodeep Kaur

The 24-year-old Dalit activist’s bail plea accuses Haryana police of severely beating her up, denied medical

examination, in violation of section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, bail hearing in HC today

Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur, who

fights for the rights of labourers and was

actively supporting the ongoing farmers

agitation, has in her bail plea before the

Punjab and Haryana High Court

claimed that she was “severely beaten

up at a police station after her arrest by

the Sonipat police last month.”

According to a report in the Telegraph,

Kaur, has also claimed on record that

her “medical examination was not conducted

in violation of section 54 of the

Criminal Procedure Code.”

She remains lodged in Haryana’s

Karnal jail. The Punjab and Haryana

High Court adjourned her bail hearing

and posted the matter for February 26.

The bail plea was filed through her

counsels Arshdeep Singh Cheema and

Harinder Deep Singh Bains, where

Kaur has stated that she was “falsely

arraigned as accused in an FIR lodged

under various sections, including 307

(attempt to murder) of the IPC” adding

that she was “targeted and falsely implicated”

in the case as she was successful

in generating massive support for the

ongoing farmer movement against the

Centre’s three new farm laws.

On Monday February 15, Justice

Arun Kumar Tyagi of the Punjab and

Haryana High Court took suo motu cognisance

of the alleged ‘illegal confinement’

of the 24-year-old labour activist

Nodeep Kaur. Kaur, who has been

lodged in Karnal Jail since her arrest on

January 12, 2021, by the Haryana

Police, was granted bail by a sessions

court in Sonepat that day. However, the

24-year-old Dalit labour rights activist

of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan

(MAS) remains behind bars for now.

This bail was granted in connection

with a case registered against her in

January. This is the second of three

cases in which she has been granted

bail.

The bail plea (that was taken up on

February 24 for hearing but got

adjourned to February 26) states that on

January 12, the petitioner and MAS

members marched towards a factory

demanding payment of pending wages

of some workers.

The Telegraph reported that the HC

was informed that “they were manhandled

by a group formed by the Kundli

Industrial Area, an association of industrial

owners. In the meantime, a team

from Kundli police station led by the

station house officer reached there and

immediately on their arrival, they

grabbed the petitioner by her hair and

dragged to the side, according to the

plea. This angered the protesters and the

situation became worse when the police

resorted to lathi charge on peaceful protesters.

A scuffle ensued and the petitioner

tried to pacify the situation but to

no avail… The petitioner alone was

caught and arrested by police officials.

She was beaten, tortured and suffered

multiple injuries.”

Kaur was then taken to the police station

allegedly in the absence of any

woman police official and was beaten

up by police officials, she was arrested

in Haryana’s Sonipat on January 12.

According to the Telegraph, the Sonepat

police officials have alleged that “a

police team was attacked with sticks

when they reached the site and some

policemen sustained injuries in the incident.”

Jail authorities have not allowed

Nodeep’s family to meet her. “I have

only met her once, the day she was sent

to jail. I was not allowed to meet her,”

her sister Rajveer Kaur told

SabrangIndia. The jail authorities had

told her that as Covid protocols were in

place family meetings were not allowed

anymore. “I managed to speak to her

whenever she was allowed a short

phone call, every 4-5 days, today

(Friday February 12,),” said Rajveer.

Important aspects of Nodeep’s arrest

may be read here.

CJP has moved an online petition to

highlight how the young activist was

allegedly assaulted in Karnal jail. The

petition demands her immediate release

and dropping of all trumped up charges

against her. Further, CJP also urged

those who sign the petition, to write to

the Karnal jail authorities and protest

the atrocities against the Dalit, trade

union activist. The petition has since

been shared by actor Sushant Singh and

child rights activist Harish Iyer. Those

who want to sign the petition may click

here.

Nodeep’s sister Rajveer, who is

fighting to get justice along with a team

of lawyers, had raised the pertinent

question in an exclusive interview to

SabrangIndia in January: Why was

Dalit labour rights activist, Nodeep

Kaur, arrested from Singhu Border? It is

yet to be answered by the Haryana government

and Haryana Police.

Courtesy : Sabrang

INDIA, PAK agree for strict

observance of all LoC agreements

New Delhi : India and Pakistan

reviewed the situation along the Line of

Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir,

and agreed for strict observance of all

agreements, and understandings, Indian

Army said on Thursday.

A joint statement was issued in New

Delhi and Islamabad. It stated that the

Director Generals of Military

Operations of India and Pakistan held

discussions over the established mechanism

of hotline contact.

"The two sides reviewed the situation

along the Line of Control and all

other sectors in a free, frank and cordial

atmosphere," the statement said.

It further pointed out that in the interest

of achieving mutually beneficial and

sustainable peace along the borders, the

two DGMOs agreed to address each

other's core issues and concerns which

have the propensity to disturb peace and

lead to violence.

Both sides agreed for strict observance

of all agreements, understandings

and cease firing along the LoC and all

other sectors with effect from midnight

February 24 and February 25, 2021.

"Both sides reiterated that existing

mechanisms of hotline contact and border

flag meetings will be utilised to

resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding,"

the statement said.

On Wednesday, Indian Army Chief

General M.M. Naravane, while speaking

at a webinar organised by the

Vivekananda International Foundation,

said that there is definitely a great

improvement in the internal security situation

in Jammu and Kashmir. He, however,

stated that Pakistan-promoted terror

still remains a threat.

Indian Army

Chief said that

Pakistan is committed

to the strategy

of supporting

terrorism in all its

forms as terrorist

launchpads continue

to be operated

and terrorists continue

to be there on

the other side of

the LoC looking

for an opportunity to cross over.

General Naravane expressed confidence

that with continued engagement

with Pakistan, there could be some sort

of an understanding because unsettled

borders and violence on the borders

help no one.

"We always want peace and tranquility

in our border areas, whether it be the

western front or the northern front and

the Line of Actual Control. Or whether

it is on the Indo-Myanmar border, we

are always looking for peace and tranquility

and our role is to ensure that so

as the rest of the nation can develop," he

said. Talking about terrorism, General

Naravane said the winter months are

always a little bit of a lull period when

the passes are closed and snowfall is

heavy. He said with the waning of winter,

as the passes open and the onset of

summer, the army is always prepared

for a fresh influx from across the border.

"But having said all that, there is definitely

a great improvement in the internal

security situation in the union territory

of Jammu and Kashmir. When I say

that, I don't say that just based on the

emotion but on various parameters you

can judge the figures," General

Naravane said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

17

My piece in Madras Courier- Golwalkar

being honoured by Culture Minstry

Golwalkar and the

Present Ruling

Dispensation

During the struggle for India’s independence

while the majority of Hindus,

Muslims and people of all religions followed

the path of Mahatma Gandhi,

secular democratic nationalism, there

were few whose origins were in the ideology

of the declining sections of

‘Landlord-clergy’ alliance.

They not only opposed the freedom

movement but also played a supporting

role to British policy of ‘Divide and

Rule’, which led to partition of the

country. They believed nationalism

based on religion’s identity. While one

such stream Muslim nationalism’s dominant

elements went to Pakistan, the

Hindu nationalist stream gradually

became more powerful in India and

today it rules the roost. Not only its

progeny BJP is the ruling dispensation,

other organizations floated by it are

effectively propagating its sectarian

nationalism.

As the matters stand the ruling party,

though it swears by the Constitution

which is secular, plural and wants a federal

structure, its politics is leading the

country in a direction as outlined by the

agenda of RSS. This dichotomy

between a secular plural constitution

and RSS agenda of Hindu nationalism

does come to one’s notice times and

over again. On 19th February this year

(2021) a tweet from Ministry of culture

paid respect to the major ideologue of

RSS, M.S. Golwalkar, “Remembering a

great thinker, scholar, and remarkable

leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth

anniversary. His thoughts will remain a

source of inspiration & continue to

guide generations. @prahladspatel

@secycultureGOI @PMOIndia

@PIBCulture @pspoffice,” The leaders

of ruling party did not oppose it as most

of them have been trained in the ideological

contributions of Golwalkar.

He was at the helm of affairs of RSS

from 1940 to 1973 and outlined its ideology

in two books, ‘We or Our

Nationhood defined’ (We) (1940) and

‘Bunch of thoughts’ (1966). His ideology

is totally opposite to the values of

freedom movement. Freedom movement

and the parallel process of India in

the making of India were based on

diversity of religions. Muslims were

equal contributors to the anti British

struggle. In contrast Golwalkar puts forward

the ideal of Nazi Germany and its

treatment of Jews as something to be

emulated. In ‘We’ he went on to write

“… Germany shocked the world by her

purging the country of the Semitic

races, the Jews. National pride at its

highest has been manifested here…a

good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn

and profit by." (We…, 1938, p.37) and

further "… non-Hindu people in

Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu

culture and language, must learn to

respect and revere Hindu religion, must

entertain no idea but the glorification of

Hindu nation i.e. they must not only

give up their attitude of intolerance and

ingratitude towards this land and its age

long traditions, but must also cultivate

the positive attitude of love and devotion

instead; in one word, they must

cease to be foreigners or may stay in the

country wholly subordinated to the

Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving

no privileges, for less any preferential

treatment, not even the citizen's

rights." (Ibid p.52).

Same thing was worded in cleverer

form in ‘Bunch…’ “It would be suicidal

to delude ourselves into believing that

Maruti Suzuki exports

20L vehicles since 1986-87

New Delhi : Automobile Maruti

Suzuki India on Saturday said it has

accomplished two million (20 lakh)

vehicle exports.

Accordingly, Maruti Suzuki commenced

export of vehicles in FY1986-

87. The company's first large consignment

of 500 cars was shipped to

Hungary in September 1987.

In FY2012-13, the Company

achieved the milestone of one-million

exports. "In the first million, more

than 50 per cent of exports were

undertaken to developed markets in

Europe," the company said in a statement.

According to the statement, Maruti

Suzuki achieved the subsequent million

in over eight years with special

focus on emerging markets in Latin

America, Africa and Asia regions.

"With concerted efforts, the

Company has been able to gain sizeable

share in markets like Chile,

Indonesia, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Models such as Alto, Baleno, Dzire

and Swift have emerged as popular

choices in these markets."

Currently, we export 14 models,

nearly 150 variants, to over 100 countries.

In January this year,

the Company started production

and export of

Suzuki's celebrated compact

off-roader Jimny

from India.

"With India as a production

base for Jimny,

Suzuki aims to leverage

Maruti Suzuki's global

production stature."

Ram Puniyani

they have turned patriot overnight after

the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary,

Muslim menace has increased a

hundredfold by the creation of Pakistan,

which has become a springboard for all

their future aggressive designs on our

country." (Bunch of Thoughts,

Bangalore, 1996, p. 177-78)

While freedom movement was anti

British, RSS totally kept aloof from

freedom movement, its justification was

that “"The theories of territorial nationalism

and of common danger, which

formed the basis of our concept of

nation, had deprived us of the positive

and inspiring content of our real Hindu

Nationhood and made many of the 'freedom

movements' virtually anti-British

movements. Anti Britishism was equated

with patriotism and nationalism. This

reactionary view has had disastrous

effects upon the entire course of freedom

movement…" (Bunch of thoughts,

1996, p.138). In tune with this he dissuaded

those who wanted to join the

Quit India movement and instructed the

organization to continue its regular

work and not to do anything which will

put British into discomfort.

2 arrested for plotting to

assassinate activist Sushil Pandit

New Delhi : In a major development, the Delhi Police on

Saturday arrested two

persons for allegedly

conspiring to assassinate

Kashmiri activist

Sushil Pandit.

According to the

Delhi Police,

Sukhwinder (25) and

Lakhan (21) were

caught by the RK

Puram Police after they received intelligence inputs that the

two were planning the assassination.

The staff of RK Puram police station arrested

Sukhwinder, 25 and Lakhan, 21, both acquaintances from

Punjab who were sent to Delhi on the instructions of one

Prince alias Tuti.

"During interrogation, it came out that Prince is facing a

murder trial in Faridkot Punjab and is a childhood friend of

Lakhan. The duo was offered Rs 10 lakh to assassinate

human rights activist and CEO of Hive Communication

India Sushil Pandit. They were provided with 4 pistols and

4 cartridges and a mobile phone containing a photo of Sushil

Pandit," said DCP South West, Ingit Pratap Singh.

A case has been registered under sections of Arms Act,

120 B, 115 at RK Puram police station.

"Considering the seriousness of the case and the possibility

of foreign involvement, the case is now transferred to the

special Cell," the officer added.

Indian as a nation in the making was

a process in which abolition of birth

based hierarchy of caste and gender was

integral to the process. Golwalkar was

totally supporting the caste, Varna system

stating that it has worked so well

for our community. In Bunch of

thoughts he says, ““Castes there were in

those ancient times too, continuing for

thousands of years of our glorious

national life. There is nowhere any

instance of its having hampered the

progress or disrupted the unity of society.

It, in fact, served as a great bond of

social cohesion.” On similar lines he

praised Lord Manu as the greatest ever

Law giver of society, contrary to this it

was Ambedkar who burnt Manu Smriti

to posit his ideology of ‘Annihilation of

caste’.

Another social transformation which

came up during freedom movement was

the participation of women in the anticolonial

movement, in taking up modern

education as the baby steps towards

gender equality. Golwalkar, as the ideologue

trying to bring forth the social

relationships of bygone era, the subjugation

of women, upholds the same in

‘Bunch of thoughts’ in the context of

affirmative action for women. States he

“There is now a clamour for ‘equality

for women’ and their ‘emancipation

from man’s domination’! Reservation of

seats in various positions of power is

being claimed on the basis of their separate

sex, thus adding one more ‘ism’—

‘sexism!’ — to the array of casteism,

communalism, linguism, etc.”

His ideology led him to the opposition

to federal structure of the country,

which took in to consideration the deepening

of democratic process and also

respecting the local diversities. In contrast

to the federal structure outlined in

our Constitution he advocated single

state of a unitary type. What we are witnessing

currently, the concentration of

power in the hands of center and emergences

of a supreme leader indicates to

the actualization of what he advocated.

There is an attempt to disown his

book ‘We…” as its formulations are

very blunt and go against the electoral

interests of ruling party. One can just

say that one of the earlier

Sarsanghchalak of RSS, Rajendra

Singh, in an affidavit indicted that it is

this book which outlines the ideology of

RSS, “"With a view to give a scientific

base to propagate the idea-India being

historically from time immemorial a

Hindu nation-the late Shri M.S.

Golwalkar had written a book entitled

'We or Our Nationhood defined', which

was published in 1938." (Quoted in

Islam, Undoing India: The RSS way)

What a sorry plight for our secular

democracy that the prophet of sectarian

nationalism; one supporting caste system;

upholding secondary position of

women; regarding Muslims and

Christians as foreigners is being upheld

by the ruling dispensation. The best

reply to this tweet was again from a

tweet by the previous Secretary of same

ministry. Former culture Secretary

Jawhar Sircar responded: “As former

culture secretary, I hang my head in

shame to see RSS chief Golwalkar

being falsely praised by

@MinOfCultureGoI. Golwalkar & RSS

opposed Gandhi’s Freedom Struggle. In

his Bunch of Thoughts, Golwalkar

opposed India’s tricolour too. Sardar

Patel jailed him, banned the RSS.”

We need to strive to uphold the values

of Indian Constitution if we want

progress in the direction envisaged by

those who strove and contributed to the

process of “India as the Nation in the

making”.

'One District One Focus

Product' list finalized

New Delhi : The Ministry of Agriculture and

Farmers' Welfare along with the Ministry of Food

Processing Industries has finalized products from agricultural,

horticultural, animal, poultry, milk, fisheries,

aquaculture and marine sectors for the 'One District One

Focus Product' (ODOFP) covering 728 districts across

the country. After taking a thorough feedback from the

states, Union Territories and Indian Council of

Agricultural Research (ICAR) the list of products was

finalized. Products would be promoted in convergence

with the central government's schemes and its aim

would be to increase the income of farmers.

The products would be supported under the Ministry

of Food Processing's PM-FME scheme which provides

incentives to promoters and micro-enterprises. The

Ministry of Agriculture would support ODOFP through

schemes like Mission for Integrated Development of

Horticulture (MIDH), National Food Security Mission

(NFSM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and

Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).


18 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Will the two Union Ministers condemn

Patanjali after WHO rejected its claim on

Coronil being approved for Covid 19?

When a facebook notification came

on my computer related to inaugural of

Patanjali’s Coronil in the presence of

two central Ministers, I was surprised

because last year, when Ramdev

claimed that his company has been able

to find a medication for ‘ Covid 19’ after

much ‘research’ and ‘testing’ on the

patients but later Ministry of Ayush in

the month of June 21, declined to give

him permission to claim it a vaccine for

Corona.

According to a report published in

the Hindu, Ramdev says that the daily

demand for Coronil is 10 lakh packs a

day but Patanjali is unable to fulfil that

as it can only supply one lakh packs a

day. Now the question is how can such

a product be allowed to be sold in the

market ?

We all know that Ramdev is using

religion and yoga to promote the dubious

business and this government has

been more than happy to promote him.

Basically, they compliment each other.

While one can ignore the other things

related to Patanjali which makes tall

claim but it is criminal to ignore, promote

or encourage senseless or fake

claims related to cure of Corona when

scientists world over are grappling with

it and when the world is fighting against

one of the most lethal diseases which

threatened our humanity.

The shameless and thuggish way that

he claimed in the presence of two ministers

that Coronil has got approval and

clearance from the World Health

Organisation shocked me. I felt that this

government might have used its influence

on WHO and probably that is why

these Ministers are here. It was shocking

to hear and what was a blunder was

the presence of the Health Minister who

did not utter a word that Coronil is not a

treatment or medication to cure Covid

19. Ramdev claiming things in the presence

of two ministers and their approval

to what he said suggested that politicians

are ready to lose international

credibility for the sake of domestic constituencies.

The two ministers Nitin Gadkari and

Harsh Vardhan became party to a fraud

by Patanjali which shamelessly dragged

the name of World Health

Organisations. Ramdev and his company

have flouted rules and regulations

without any fear as they know that the

ruling party is more than happy to promote

and encourage him. He is the best

example of how crony capitalism functions

and what is the outcome when

capitalism and religion mix together.

The Hindutva propaganda media was

more than eager to jump on the fallacy

of Ramdev Covid vaccination claim.

These rogues actually are endangering

Beijing's new economic

forms robust in 2020

Beijing : Beijing's new economic forms have displayed robust

performance in

2020 despite

the Covid-19

epidemic, official

figures

showed. The

added value of

the Chinese

capital's new

economic

forms stood at

about 1.37 trillion

yuan

(around $211

billion), accounting for 37.8 per cent of Beijing's gross domestic

product last year, according to Beijing's municipal bureau of statistics.

Among the city's large-scale industries, high-tech manufacturing

and strategic emerging industries saw their added values

increase 9.5 per cent and 9.2 per cent year on year, respectively,

Xinhua reported. Smartphones, industrial robots, and integrated

circuits all saw rising production.

High-tech services and information technology services recorded

rapid growth. The performance of new consumption forms such

as online consumption was also stellar.

the lives of millions of people by actively

participating in #fakenews. For their

fake nationalism they are ready to use

the fakenews without ever checking its

credentials. Unfortunately, when the

Union Health Minister participates in it

then it is seriously the issue of propriety

and ethics. Both the Ministers must

explain what prompted them to go to

participate in the programme launched

by Ramdev and why they allowed themselves

to be used by him.

Ramdev’s fake claims have been

rejected by the World Health

Organisation. It is surprising for all as

why should WHO give authorisation or

certification but WHO today has

become what NASA used to be once

upon a time. We must not ignore that

once a boy from Balia was congratulated

in the UP Assembly in the year 2005

Birmingham, (Asian Independent)-

Liam Byrne MP, Labour candidate for

Mayor of the West Midlands, is to visit the

main site of the planned Commonwealth

Games at Perry Barr, Birmingham on

Monday 1 March 2021 at 1.45 pm. He will

be hosted by the Leader of Birmingham

City Council Ian Ward.

“These games will offer a fantastic

opportunity to showcase our region to over

1.5 billion people”, said Liam Byrne, “This

is a once in a lifetime chance to tell our

story. And the story we should tell is of the

place that led the industrial revolution –

now leading the Green Industrial

Revolution.

“That’s why I’m writing to the Games

Organising Committee today to ask them

to pull out every stop to deliver the first

ever zero carbon games, built with the

technology and ingenuity here on our

doorstep in the West Midland,” Liam

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Byrne announced.

“From massive use of electric vehicles

to planting thousands more trees, we’ve

for topping ‘ International scientist

Discovery’ conducted by NASA which

later found out to be fake news. It is

important to know how and why these

fake news look ‘real’ and the answer lies

in our ‘attempt’ to look the ‘best’ and

‘most outstanding’. I know we all love

to be famed people, achievable and

omnipresent and omnipotent yet there

are realities whether we really deserve it

without working harder.

It is good that the World Health

Organisation issued a clarification that

it has not given any certification to

Patanjali research. Actually, all the TV

channels who have been imposing the

thuggish Patanjali on us need to explain

their conduct. The shouting brigade of

Sharmas, Chaudhries, Chaurasias,

Dubeys, Tripathis, Devgans must be

asked to explain their shameless behavior

and being party to defame our country

and dupe the people for buying a

fake vaccine.

Indian Medical Association has

sought clarification from Union Health

Minister Dr Harshvardhan. IMA is

rightly shocked and we are happy that it

showed some spine at the moment when

the Minister who himself is a well

known doctor is seen in promoting a

product which is neither certified nor

scientific. IMA said : “Being the Health

Minister of the country, how justified is

it to release such falsely fabricated

unscientific products to people of the

whole country…can you clarify the

time frame, timeline for the so-called

clinical trial of this said anti-corona

product?”

“The country needs an explanation

from the minister. The Indian Medical

Association will also write to National

Medical Commission seeking suo moto

explanation for his blatant disrespect to

the code of conduct of Medical Council

of India,” the IMA said.

We demand a ban on Patanjali products

for persistently spreading fake and

malicious propaganda regarding its

product and violating all the business

and medical ethics. The government

must investigate the Patanjali products

as well as its commercial practices to

find whether or not they violate norms

and ethics ? The two ministers M/s

Nitin Gadakari and Dr Harshvardhan

must explain their presence at the ceremony

and should completely dissociate

themselves with such unethical behaviour.

Let us see whether the two ministers

have the courage and conviction 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

Liam Byrne to call for zero carbon

COMMONWEALTH Games

got the chance to send a message to the

world, that this is a place, a region of

industrial revolutionaries, determined to be

the first net zero carbon in Britain.

“This week’s budget is a big chance to

back our ambitions with huge investment

in green infrastructure like the mission critical

“gigafactory” in Coventry, which will

transform our motor industry for the 21st

century.

“Combined with the planned Festival

UK 2022 we could create a space to showcase

our commitment to becoming the

green workshop of the world, able to create

investment, jobs and a future for our young

people.

“As West Midlands Mayor I will work

closely with local authority leaders across

the region, businesses, trades unions, educationalists

to create events which will

rival the impact of the 1851 Great

Exhibition”, added Liam Byrne.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

19

Uttarakhand’s historic decision

for women’s empowerment

Uttarakhand has become the first

state in India to have given women

right over ancestral property. This is a

landmark initiative taken by the state

government and must be complimented

for it. According to government’s

own assessment, over thirty five lakh

women are going to be benefitted from

this.

At the time, when women’s rights

groups are asking for being provided

status of ‘Kisan’ in rest of India and the

fact that women do not own property,

particularly agricultural land, she cant

get any loan even if she does more than

80% work on farming. Even the Kisan

andolan have not been very supportive

to this as they fear that the agricultural

land would be divided which reduces

its bargain power.

That is why farming communities

and families tend to be in the ‘joint

family’ system which is often regressive

for women. Most of the time,

farmer leadership had been opposed to

radical land reforms for the fear of land

getting fragmented but the biggest fear

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

is of women’s ‘autonomy’. Most of the

time, this question is asked if a woman

get divorced then what will happen to

land. All these kind of issues come up

for discussion.

According to Hindustan Times

report, ” “Under the ordinance, the

daughters will have ownership rights

on the land owned by her father.

Similarly, a wife will also be the joint

owner of the land of her husband’. The

state government is going to change

Zamindari Abolition and Land

Reforms Act of Uttarakhand.

The ordinance that Uttarakhand

government has brought to give property

rights to women have the following:

a. The names of all the married

women will be added as co-owner in

the ancestral property of her husband.

It is important that women never had

K'taka Law Commission

chief calls for technology

UPGRADATION

Bengaluru : Karnataka Law

Commission chairman S. R. Bannurmath

on Saturday appealed to the Karnataka

government to improve the technical services

in the legal infrastructure like providing

internet, computers and updated software

to allow High Court judges, advocate

generals and other legal officers to discharge

their duties properly.

Speaking after the launch of Karnataka

dispute resolution policy and coffee table

book on Karnataka Advocate generals and

their contributions here,

Bannurmath who was

former Kerala High

Court chief justice

asked, "How can anyone

function without interruption?

Take my own

case, whenever I come

to my office (Karnataka

Law Commission) at

Vidhana Soudha, either

the internet is not working,

or the server is not

working or even worse

the computer is not

working. Under such

circumstances how can

even anyone discharge

their duties?"

He added that the same is the case with

the Advocate General's office and High

Court judges too. "There are 20 lakh cases

pending in the High Court of Karnataka

and 15.2 lakh cases in subordinate courts.

One of the main reasons for such high pendency

of cases is lack of communication

between law officers in higher courts with

law officers of lower courts," he explained.

Citing his own experience, Bannurmath

pointed out that when he was serving state

prosecutor in Kalaburagi, one district law

officers had not filed appeal against murder

accused, who was acquitted for over 600

days only because he had not got any

'instructions' from Advocate General's

office. "Advocate General's office must

regularly monitor such things. For this the

government needs to provide them with

adequate infrastructure," he said.

According to him, of the 20 lakh cases,

4.42 lakh cases are related directly to the

state government itself.

"Of the 4.42 lakh cases,

3.20 lakh cases are filed

against the government

while in the remaining

1.2 lakh cases the government

has filed cases.

The government needs to

augment the infrastructure

in courts and legal

officers offices," he

argued.

He quickly added that

high number of pendency

was not just the phenomenon

of Karnataka alone

this is a country wide

phenomenon.

The former Chief

Justice also observed that the rise in the

number of cases against governments in

courts is a direct result of rise in activism.

"The activism has not only succeeded in

creating awareness of one's rights as a

result of this many approach courts against

governments. Most of the time, it gives

relief in crucial issues, but in some cases

this has also turned out to be impediment in

implementing several initiatives," he said.

rights of hereditary property as in the

joint family system the lineage was

always protected through male progeny.

That way, this is a great beginning.

b. According to the ordinance, in

case a woman files for divorce from

her husband then she wont be a coowner

of the property or land but if the

husband give her divorce and unable to

pay her maintenance allowance then

she would still remain the co-owner of

the property.

c. If the

woman is

childless and

her husband

is ‘missing’

for over

seven years then she can be made a coowner

in the property of her father.

Though the government also

amended the law for the purpose of

Varanasi, (Asian independent)

Congress General

Secretary Priyanka Gandhi

Vadra on Saturday attended the

644th birth anniversary celebration

of Sant Shiromani Shri

Guru Ravidas ji Maharaj at

Seer Govardhanpur of the

Ravidas temple in Varanasi.

Priyanka also sought blessings

of Sant Niranjan Das and

enquired about his well-being.

She had last visted the temple

in 2020.

The Congress General

lease and sale of land in the Tarai or

plain regions of Uttarakhand but the

decision to give ownership rights to

woman will have far reaching impact.

Uttarakhand is a state where women

have traditionally played powerful role

in protecting resources. At many

places, more than 90% of work related

to agriculture or maintenance of livestock

is managed by women. The hill

regions of the state have broadly a better

male female ratio and women have

lead historic social movements such as

Chipko to protect their forests and biodiversity.

It is also a reality that due to

heavy migration, many of the villages

in the hills are left with no people.

There are lack of basic amenities. Most

of the villages are actually managed by

women but unfortunately despite 90%

of work on land they dont have any

access to banks or market. They don’t

get any loan as they are not the owner.

This bill therefore is a historic one and

will definitely helpful to more than 3.8

million women in the state.

Land and property ownership to

Secretary’s visit witnessed a

massive crowd as she reached

here at around 11 a.m. and

offered her prayers at the Sant

Ravidas temple to mark the celebration

of the Jayanti.

Priyanka was accompanied

by Uttar Pradesh Congress

President Ajay Kumar Lallu,

former MLA Ajay Rai,

Varanasi Metropolitan president

Raghavendra Choubey,

Manindra Mishra, Gaurav

Kapoor, Naveen Mishra and

other Congress leaders.

women is a great move towards

democratisation of our social system.

Fortunately, Uttarakhand does have

that culture where women are centre of

our universe and hence these laws will

help strengthen women’s agency and

autonomy over her resources. We are

sure, they will not only be able to protect

their land and resources but it is a

great news for agriculture sector also.

Uttarakhand’s hill regions don’t have

big land holdings and that is one reason

why the system is more democratic and

women play bigger roles in our lives.

We wish to congratulate the state

government in this regard. Whatever be

the political differences if any law that is

helpful to the 50% of our population and

give them their legitimate rights need to

be supported and complimented.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He

blogs at

www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter

@freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

Priyanka visits Ravidas

temple in VARANASI


20 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

BUDGET (2021-22) FOR DALITS

: A PRETENTIOUS FARCE

The present Indian India’s population still lives

helping the educational

Government claims to work for

all classes and peoples (Sabka

Saath).Its leadership firmly

believes in the merits of a fullfledged

capitalist economy and

makes all out efforts to facilitate

below poverty line. Highest

proportion of the poor is found

among the Scheduled Caste

(SC) and Scheduled Tribes

(ST) communities. Central

Government has been making

advancement of a section of

SCs. But in the last few years

the Government has been

unwilling to meet the increasing

demand for this scholarship

from SC students and therefore

maximal profit for budgetary outlays for various

large numbers of them had to

investors, industry and businesses.

Apparently for this reason,

all the schemes and programmes

being introduced by

the present Government for the

development of all sections or

classes of people (Sabka Vikas)

basically employ capitalist

market economy instruments,

such as provision of bank loans

and credits and various insurance

social security and economic

development schemes for these

communities. In this year’s

budget, there is a clear signal of

the Government’s resolve to

reduce and ultimately withdraw

social security schemes for SCs

and STs. This is openly stated

while introducing in the Budget

a new scheme for SCs, namely,

Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati

drop out mid way through their

studies. The outlay provided in

this year’s budget for this

scholarship (Rs 3415.62 crores)

is less than in the last year (Rs

3815.87 crores) and is grossly

inadequate to meet the educational

aspirations of large numbers

of SC students. This

scholarship, along with reservation

for SCs, is a commit-

schemes. Finance Abhyuday Yojana (PM AJAY)

ment made to Dr Ambedkar by

Minister in her Budget speech

has talked about larger credit

for farmers even while continuing

the adamancy with regard

to the controversial farm laws

which favour corporatization of

agriculture against which the

which purportedly is said to

“drastically reduce poverty

rates of the SC communities”

by implementing projects related

to income generation by

maximizing the employment

potential through skill development,

the then national leadership in

the Pune Pact 1930, which

helped Gandhiji to end his fast

in Yeravda Jail, in lieu of Dr

Ambedkar’s agreement to withdraw

his demand for separate

electorates for SCs. Therefore,

“thereby reducing

the responsibility for this schol-

farmers are agitating for long.

The Government has introduced

Fasal Bheema Yojana lation on the various social afford. Rs 125 crores allocated poisonous gases in sewers, the (Central) Government, but

dependency of the target popu-

by them which they cannot scavengers from exposure to arship is with the national

and a number of other insurance

programmes. The intro-

While the logic and stated pur-

has been reduced to Rs 50 sincere in their rehabilitation are made to incur part of the

assistance programmes.” for it in the Budget of 2020-21 Government needs to be more presently State Governments

duction of these capitalist market

instruments are being there is ample reason for the SC 2020-21 and this year’s budget tion of cleaning of sewers and There are some smaller

pose is clear and agreeable, crores in the Revised Budget and introduction of mechaniza-

funds for this scholarship.

accompanied by withdrawal of communities to doubt the sincerity

of purpose of such Similarly, the Government has Atmanirbharat Bharat without and OBCs like National

provides only Rs 100 crores. drains. Can we really create an Central scholarships for SCs

various kinds of subsidies and

other social sector service programmes.

Subsidies for the dis-

effective implementation. for the three finance develop-

from such inhuman conditions? Top Class education for SCs,

schemes and prospect for their drastically reduced the outlay liberating this section of people Fellowship for SCs and OBCs,

advantaged social classes and Suspicion arises from the ment corporations created to Most Dalits are economically

very weak to enter into entre-

students, National Overseas

Free Coaching for SC and OBC

groups are being limited to fact that the Government has help the economic advancement

of SCs, Safai Karmachari preneurial activities requiring Scholarship for SCs and OBCs.

interest subsidies on loans. This given short shrift to similar

helps capitalist investors in different

sectors (rural agriculture, schemes for SCs which it intro-

the last year’s Rs 420 crores to Educational level among them these “Central Scholarships”

economic development communities and OBCs from much capital investment. The outlay of Rs 545 crores for

housing etc) by creating duced earlier. An example is only Rs 250

is only gradually provided in last year’s Budget

demand for loan money from the scheme of Venture Capital Crores this year. M. K. Shaji improving. This has been reduced to Rs 315

the unaffordable classes of people,

a large number of whom 2014-15 with a budgetary out-

Self-employ-

+91 98109 85088 been facilitated Estimates. This shows insincer-

Fund for SCs introduced in The outlay for

improvement has crores in the Revised

will end up in indebtedness. In lay of Rs 200 crores to promote ment scheme

mainly by provision

of various scholarships. outlay. This insincerity towards

ity of intention of the original

essence the new capitalist entrepreneurship among SCs. for Rehabilitation Manual

avatar of the old traditional The Government has not been Scavengers was Rs 125 crores Worryingly, the present the weak and disadvantaged

money-lending (bania) economy

is being erected. there was nil utilization of this has been reduced to Rs 50 withdrawing the provision of fact that for the two pro-

able to utilize this fund and in Budget Estimates 2020-21 Government is on a course of sections is also seen from the

Government is also withdrawing

from social security servic-

SC people are not able to bene-

Estimates, and allocation for Post-Matric Scholarship for Beggars and of Transgender

fund in 2017-18. Apparently, crores in the Revised scholarships for SCs and STs. grammes of Rehabilitation of

es meant for the socially disadvantaged

and the poor. conditionality that 25 to 50% of In the context of the frequent Ambedkar from pre- in the last year’s Budget has not

fit from this fund because of the this year is only Rs 100 Crores. SCs, introduced by Dr Persons Rs 110 crores allocated

About 27.5 percent of the project cost has to be borne reports of deaths of manual Independence time has been been spent as seen from “Nil”

Guwahati : Just a month ahead of

the Assam Assembly polls, in a significant

political development on

Saturday, ruling Bharatiya Janata

Party's (BJP) estranged ally Bodoland

People's Front (BPF) has announced

to snap ties with the party and has

joined Congress led grand alliance to

fight the assembly polls.

BPF President Hagrama Mohilary

in a tweet on Saturday night said: "To

work for Peace, Unity and

Development the Bodoland People's

Front (BPF) has decided to join hands

with

MAHAJATH

(Mahagathbandhan) in the forthcoming

Assam Assembly Election. We

shall no longer maintain friendship or

alliance with BJP."

The ruling BJP in

Assam has an

alliance with the

BPF and the party

still has three ministers

in the Chief

Minister Sarbananda

Sonowal-led government.

The BJP, after the

Bodoland Territorial

Council polls in

early December last

year, had forged an

alliance with new

ally United People's

Party Liberal (UPPL) after discarding

incumbent partner BPF.

Meanwhile, the Congress-led sixparty

"Mahagathbandhan" has been

urging all the anti-BJP parties to join

the coalition to "oust the BJP from the

amounts shown in the Revised

Budget Estimates. Besides,

this year’s Budget has entirely

dropped the schemes like SC

Boys and Girls Hostels for

which Rs 30 crores was allocated

last year, and “Pre-Matric

Scholarship for Children of

those Engaged in Unclean

Occupations and Prone to

Heath Hazards” for which Rs

25 crores was allocated last

year.

The diversion of all governmental

functions towards capitalistic

interests is clearly seen

from the conversion of the

scheme of “National Overseas

Scholarship Scheme for OBCs”

into “Interest Subsidy on

Overseas Studies of OBCs”. In

similar fashion, the general and

consistent hostility and anathema

towards NGOs shown by

the present Government can

also be seen in respect of NGOs

working for SCs. There is no

outlay provided in this year’s

Budget for the earlier four

schemes of assistance to

Voluntary Organizations working

for SCs, OBCs, the aged,

and for social defence services.

For Dalits, who are still

mostly agricultural labourers

and others who are engaged in

the hardest and undignified

labour works, the dawn is still

dark. For them, the Budget

2021-22 is an uninspiring fare.

Government needs to introduce

real empowerment measures

like distribution of cultivable

lands to landless rural SC families

and other special measures

as envisaged in the original

concept of Special Component

Plan for Scheduled Castes

(SCP) to instill faith in them.

Otherwise the quoting of the

beautiful verse of Rabindranath

Tagore by the Finance Minister

in her Budget speech — Faith

is the bird that feels the light

and sings when the dawn is still

dark – would appear a pretentious

farce.

BJP ally in Assam snap ties, joins 'Mahagathbandhan'

power in the ensuing elections".

The Congress had earlier

formed the Mahagathbandhan

with three Left parties -- CPI-

M, CPI and CPI-ML -- as well

as the All India United

Democratic Front (AIUDF)

and the Anchalik Gana Morcha,

two regional parties having a

political base among the

Muslims and indigenous people,

respectively.

The Congress and the

AIUDF had fought separately

in 2016, and managed 26 and

13 seats, respectively.

The BJP has decided to fight the

polls in western Assam's tribal dominated

Bodoland area in alliance with

new ally UPPL besides Asom Gana

Parishad. In 2006 and 2011, the BPF

was part of the Congress led government

in Assam, but before Lok Sabha

polls in 2014, the party broken ties

with Congress. BPF leaders claim that

its support ensured that the BJP won

as many as 27 assembly seats in 2016

polls. The BPF has won all the 12

seats of Bodoland areas in 2016.

Another regional alliance comprising

Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP),

Raijor Dal and few other local parties

formed a third front to take on both the

BJP and Congress led alliance. The

elections to the 126-member Assam

Assembly will be held in three phases

on March 27, April 1 and April 6.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

KTR reiterates claim of

1,32,899 jobs in six years

Hyderabad : Telangana’s Industry and

Information Technology Minister K.T. Rama

Rao on Thursday reiterated his claim that the

state government filled 1,32,899 posts in various

departments during the last six years.

With the opposition parties disputing his

claim, the minister released the number of

vacancies filled in each department.

The claims and counter claims come in

view of the elections to two graduates’ constituencies

of the Telangana Legislative

Council scheduled on March 14.

In an open letter, the minister alleged that

the opposition parties were resorting to false

propaganda to confuse people. especially

youth

"The Congress and the BJP are concealing

the truth and deliberately spreading false

information about job recruitment in

Telangana since the TRS government came

to power," said Rama Rao, who is also the

Working President of Telangana Rashtra

Samithi (TRS).

He also reiterated that if anyone has any

doubts about our government’s commitment

to job recruitment, they can approach respective

departments and clarify.

KTR, as the minister is popularly known,

said it was sad that even a senior politician

like Jana Reddy tend to spread lies, and challenged

him to provide details of jobs filled

during the 10-year rule of his Congress

party.

He said to curtail false information spread

by senior leaders like Jana Reddy and opposition

parties in front of the media, he is providing

complete details of 1,32,899 lakh job

vacancies that the TRS government has filled

since 2014. "I am presenting all these details

with the sole intention of giving clarity and

providing the right information to the people

of Telangana, especially the youth, who are

being confused and misled by the opposition’s

baseless accusations."

He said the Telangana State Public

Service Commission recruited 30,594

employees while the Telangana State Level

Police Recruitment Board filled 31,972

vacancies.

The Telangana State Residential

Education Institutes Recruitment Board

filled 3,623 posts, the Professor Jayashankar

Telangana State Agricultural University 179

posts, the Acharya Konda Laxman Bapuji

Telangana State Horticulture University 80,

the Director Minorities Welfare 66, Junior

Panchayat Secretaries 9,355, the Ayush

Department 171, TS-GENCO 856, TS-

NPDCL 164, TS-SPDCL 201, TS-

TRANSCO 206, TSRTC 4,768, while the

Singareni Collieries Company Ltd filled

12,500 posts.

KTR said 22,637 employees of the

Electricity Department were regularized.

Hyderabad Water Board filled 807 vacancies,

Telangana State Cooperative Apex

Bank 243 and DCCBs filled 1,571 vacancies.

Filling up of another 6,258 posts is in final

stage.

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 21

JD(U)-RJD rift widens

ahead of Bengal polls

Patna : Differences have emerged between the Rashtriya

Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar ahead of the

Assembly elections in West Bengal beginning March 27.

Elections for the West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight

phases, up from seven last time, Chief Election Commissioner

Sunil Arora said while announcing the poll schedule on Friday.

JD(U) leader and Bengal in-charge Ghulam Rasool Balyawi

lashed out at RJD after it claimed that the JD(U)’s Bengal wing

will soon merge with the party.

Balyawi said: "Jiske ghar shishe ke hote hai woh dusro par

patthar nahi fekte (People living in glasshouses shouldn’t throw

stones at others."

The JD(U) leader further said that the RJD should keep its own

house intact.

His reaction came after Bhai Virendra of the RJD and another

leader of the party claimed that the entire JD(U) unit in West

Bengal will merge with the RJD before the Assembly polls.

Virendra said that prominent JD(U) leaders are likely to meet

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav soon.

Meanwhile, senior RJD leaders -- Abdul Bari Siddiqui and

Shyam Rajak -- are campaigning in West Bengal.

"We do not believe in breaking parties. But anyone is welcome

to join our party," Balyawi said.

Spurious liquor kills 4 in

Bihar, 2 lose eyesight

Delhi riots: HC to hear

pleas on March 26

New Delhi : The Delhi High

Court on Thursday listed for

March 26 a batch of petitions

related to last year’s violence in

the national capital. Communal

clashes broke out in north-east

Delhi in February last year following

clashes between the anti-

CAA supporters and protesters,

which left at least 53 people

dead and around 200 injured.

A Division Bench headed by

Chief Justice D.N. Patel

adjourned the matter and listed it

for March 26.

One of the petitions sought

direction to constitute a Special

Investigation Team (SIT). It further

sought registration of FIR

against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul

Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,

Manish Sisodia, Amanatullah

Khan, Waris Pathan, Akbaruddin

Owaisi and Mehmood Pracha for

alleged hate speeches.

Another petition by Jamiat

Ulama-I-Hind sought to set up a

special investigative team under

either a retired High Court or

Supreme Court Judge.

2nd shipment of Chinese

Sinovac vax arrive in Mexico

Mexico City : The second

shipment of Covid-19 vaccines

from Chinese company

Sinovac has arrived in Mexico

City. Mexican Foreign Minister

Marcelo Ebrard and Chinese

Ambassador to Mexico Zhu

Qingqiao welcomed the vaccines

at the airport on Saturday,

Xinhua news agency reported.

The first shipment of Covid-

19 vaccines from Sinovac

arrived in Mexico City on

February 20.

Mexican health authorities

on February 22 began to vaccinate

older adults with the

Chinese vaccines. Mexico has

been carrying out a vaccination

campaign in stages since

December last year.

Patna : Four persons have

died while two others have lost

their eyesights after consuming

suspected poisonous liquor in

Bihar’s Rohtas district in the last

10 days.

One of the victims, however,

claimed that he had consumed

liquor in the neighbouring

Varanasi which led to his loss of

vision.

Three of the deceased persons

have been identified as Sudama

Ram, Dipak Singh and Satyadev

Singh, while the identity of the

fourth person is yet to be ascertained.

The two persons who

have lost their eyesights have

been identified as Surendra Pal

and Vijay Singh.

"I consumed liquor on

February 15 in Varanasi and

became ill four days later. Now I

have lost my visibility,"

Surendra Pal said.

Local villagers, however, said

that Pal had consumed liquor in

the village and he is changing his

statement fearing the local

police, as he doesn’t want to face

legal action.

Radhika Raman Dubey, an

elderly villager of Kargahar,

said: "Country-made liquor is

available at every village in the

jurisdiction of Kargahar police

station, especially in its western

parts. The police have no control

over this. People openly prepare

country-made liquor and sell it

to the villagers. Dipak Singh and

Satyadev Singh, both natives of

adjoining Bahuara village, lost

their lives after consuming

liquor in the last two days."

"My brother Sudama Ram

had consumed liquor six days

ago. He died two days back after

abdominal pain. We had taken

him to the hospital, but the doctors

couldn’t save his life," said

Jagdish Ram, Sudama Ram’s

brother. When contacted,

Sushant Kumar, the SHO of

Karahgar police station, said:

"We are recording the statements

of the family members of the

victims. All of them belong to

different villages. The reason of

deaths will be ascertained after

the viscera reports come out."

Earlier, five persons had died

after consuming suspected poisonous

liquor in Dargah village

under the Katra police station in

Muzaffarpur on February 18,

while two persons had died in

Majholia village in Gopalganj

district on February 15.


22 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Youth Akali Dal to 'gherao' Delhi Police

Chandigarh : The Youth

Akali Dal will 'gherao' Delhi

Police personnel for singling out

Punjabi youths for arrest by

allegedly registering "false

cases" against them in connection

with the January 26 violence

in the national capital.

After a meeting, Youth Akali

Dal President Parambans Singh

Romana said the wing had

received reports of Punjabi

youths being unfairly targeted

for punishment by Delhi Police

and the central government.

"We have decided to stand by

our youths. Our rank and file

will rush to support any youth

who is unfairly targeted by Delhi

Police. I request all affected families

to seek the support of the

Youth Akali Dal in this connection.

We will not allow any discrimination

against our youths at

any cost."

Romana also expressed shock

at the manner in which the

Congress government in Punjab

had abrogated its duty towards

its citizens and allowed a free

hand to the central government

to arrest its youths in Punjab.

"It is now clear that Chief

Minister Amarinder Singh is

playing a fixed match in league

with the central government.

That is why he has not directed

Punjab Police to ensure Punjabi

youths are not subject to discrimination

in any manner whatsoever."

"Delhi Police cannot make

any arrests in Punjab without

taking Punjab Police into confidence.

If Delhi Police is acting

on its own then its officials

should be booked for indulging

in illegal practices," he said.

He also announced the Akali

Dal youth wing would hold rallies

in all constituencies in the

state starting from March 15. He

said the wing would organise a

rally on March 23 at

Hussainiwala to mark the martyrdom

day of Bhagat Singh.

Myanmar envoy to UN sacked

after anti-army speech

Nay Pyi Taw : Myanmar's military

rulers said they have fired the country's

ambassador to the UN, a day after he called

for help to remove the army from power.

In an emotional speech, Kyaw Moe Tun

said no-one should co-operate with the military

until it handed back power to the

democratically elected government, the

BBC reported. Security forces intensified a

crackdown on anti-coup protesters on

Saturday. Local media say dozens were

arrested, and that a woman was shot in the

city of Monwya. Her condition is not clear.

The country has been rocked by protests

since top government leaders, including

Aung San Suu Kyi, were overthrown and

detained after the army took power on

February 1.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly

on Friday, Kyaw Moe Tun urged the international

community to use "any means

necessary to take action" against the military

to help "restore the democracy", saying

he was representing Suu Kyi's ousted

government. "We need further strongest

possible action from the international community

to immediately end the military

coup, to stop oppressing the innocent people,

to return the state power to the people

and to restore the democracy," he said.

The speech was met with applause and

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the new US

envoy to the body, was among those praising

his remarks as "courageous".

In a further show of defiance, Kyaw

Moe Tun held up three fingers, a gesture

against authoritarian rule that has been

adopted by anti-coup protesters in the

country.

Myanmar's state television announced

his removal on Saturday, saying he had

"betrayed the country and spoken for an

unofficial organization which doesn't represent

the country and had abused the

power and responsibilities of an ambassador".

Further protests were held in several

cities with water cannon reportedly

deployed and journalists among dozens

detained. In the main city of Yangon,

crowds of protesters were advanced upon

by police firing tear gas.

LJP post-poll meeting held in Patna

Patna : After its dismal performance

in the Bihar Assembly polls, the

first major meeting of the Lok

Janshakti Party (LJP) was held at the

party's head office in Patna on Sunday.

The meeting was headed by LJP

chief Chirag Paswan. The party invited

all important leaders to analyse the

defeat in the recent Assembly polls.

Besides, leaders are also accessing the

situation after several members left

the party and joined JD-U. Ex-LJP

MLC Nutan Singh recently joined the BJP.

LJP contested 143 seats in Bihar and

managed to win just one seat. Moreover,

the only MLA Raj Kumar Singh and MP

Chandan Singh met with Chief Minister

Nitish Kumar on February 15.

These two leaders however claim that it

was a courtesy meeting with Nitish as he is

heading NDA in Bihar. The statements of

these two leaders are different from the

party line and stand of Chirag Paswan

against Nitish Kumar.

Chirag Paswan is extremely critical of

the Bihar CM while the meeting of these

two leaders had given an impression that

there is a possibility of them joining the

JD-U.

Chirag Paswan is facing the challenge

of keeping his flock together in Bihar. He

is facing the heat after Nutan Singh

joined BJP.

LJP is not the part of NDA in Bihar,

still Paswan advocates the ideology of the

saffron party and backs Prime Minister

Narendra Modi. He has donated Rs 1.11

lakh for construction of Ram temple in

Ayodhya.

Eye on 2022 polls,

Kejriwal woos Jats in UP

New Delhi : In view of the Assembly elections in Uttar

Pradesh slated for next year, AAP national convenor Arvind

Kejriwal on Sunday tried to woo the 'Jat' community in the western

part of the state while addressing a Kisan Mahapanchayat in

Meerut.

The AAP's Mahapanchayat came months after the party had

announced to contest the UP Assembly polls next year.

Kejriwal's address focused mainly on the ongoing farmers'

protest against the three Central farm laws. The AAP convenor

reiterated his party's slogan calling the three farm laws as "death

warrants" for the protesting farmers.

In a gesture of his party's support, the Delhi Chief Minister

had torn the farm laws' documents in the Assembly in December

last year, terming the laws as "death warrants".

Amid slogans of 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' and 'Kisan Eklta

Jindabad', Kejriwal said that the protesting farmers have faced

atrocities which were not meted out even during the British rule.

He also accused the BJP of making false cases against protesters.

"Our farmers can be anything but traitors. But the BJP has

called them terrorists and Khalistanis," Kejriwal said.

Through his speech, he also tried to woo the villagers in the

western part of UP reiterating his own line - 'at present, one son

of a farmer is at the border and another at Delhi's border'.

He also accused the BJP of orchestrating the Republic Day

violence at the Red Fort and extended his support to the protesters,

claiming that AAP has provided civic and WiFi facilities at

the protest sites in Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders, where

scores of farmers have been sitting on protest for nearly 100

days.

"The Centre is behind the Red Fort violence and not the farmers.

It misguided the farmers who did not know Delhi roads.

More than 250 farmers have died in these three months, but the

Centre has done nothing about it," Kejriwal said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

23

Maha minister quits over

TikTok star’s death

Mumbai : Amid mounting

pressure and fierce attacks

from the opposition Bharatiya

Janata Party, Shive Sena leader

and Maharashtra Forest

Minister Sanjay Rathod -

whose name cropped up in the

death of TikTok star Pooja

Chavan - resigned on Sunday.

Rathod met Chief Minister

Uddhav Thackeray and tendered

his resignation on the eve

of the Budget session of the

Maharashtra legislature starting

Monday.

A prominent leader of the

Banjara community, Rathod

(49), accompanied by his wife

Shital, met Thackeray at the

latter’s official residence and

discussed the issue for around

30 minutes before handing his

resignation to the CM.

The Chief Minister also

refused to consider pleas from

the ’mahants’ of the Banjara

community even as the probe

report into the social media

star’s death is awaited.

Toughening BJP’s stance,

Leader of Opposition Devendra

Fadnavis threatened to withdraw

the BJP legislators from

the joint select committee of

the Shakti Bill, which is being

brought on the lines of the

New Delhi : The encouraging results in

the recent civic polls in Gujarat has boosted

the confidence of Delhi’s ruling Aam

Aadmi Party (AAP) which is now eyeing

forthcoming Assembly elections in several

states and Union territories.

Delhi Health Minister and senior AAP

leader Satyendar Jain spoke to IANS and

said that people are impressed by the Delhi

model of development that AAP has

designed here and want the party to replicate

the same in other states as well.

Brimming with confidence after emerging

as a key opposition party in Surat’s

municipal corporation election, Jain also

said that people are calling for AAP to govern

their states like it did Delhi.

"People are impressed by the Delhi

model. They want us to implement this

Disha Act proposing crucial

changes to the existing laws on

violence against women and

children.

"Sanjay Rathod resigned...

However, it does not imply that

he is innocent," said Pravin

Darekar, the Leader of

Opposition in the Maharashtra

Council. Both the leaders have

demanded that an FIR should

be lodged against Rathod in the

Chavan case, though the exminister

has consistently

denied all the allegations levelled

against him.

Rathod’s name cropped up

after the death of Chavan (22)

in Pune on February 7.

"The opposition is playing

dirty politics on this matter...

The truth will emerge in the

'People want AAP to

replicate Delhi model

in their STATES'

model in their states

as well," he said.

"They (people)

have seen our commitment

towards the

development while

they are also watching

commitment of

other two parties

(Congress and BJP),

that is towards politics

only," Jain added.

The Aam Aadmi

Party has penetrated

into the stronghold of BJP. The AAP

bagged 27 seats in the polls of Surat

Municipal Corporation (SMC) while the

BJP retained power by winning 93 seats.

The Congress failed to win even a single

seat there. Boosted by the performance in

SMC, AAP has now set its eyes on the

2022 Gujarat Assembly polls. Besides, the

party has started its preparations afresh in

the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat

and Goa, also.

Party workers said that a strategy has

been devised to promote the Delhi model

of the AAP government from door to door.

According to the party, it would be contesting

the next Assembly elections in four

states -- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand,

Punjab and Goa. The party has appointed

in-charges in 65 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

probe. They threatened not to

allow the Legislature Session

and disrupt the proceedings,"

Rathod said after quitting.

Chavan hailed from the

Banjara community and was a

native of Parli-Vaijanath in

Beed district.

Her family wrote to the CM

decrying the moves to politicise

her death, and killing her

multiple times after she died.

They also dismissed the

moves to link the minister with

her and said they had never

sought Rathod’s resignation,

but had full faith in the ongoing

police probe.

Chavan died after falling

from the balcony of an apartment

in Pune’s Hadapsar area.

The police have registered an

accidental death report (ADR)

and are probing the matter.

After Chavan’s death,

Fadnavis had shot off a letter to

DGP Hemant Nagrale along

with 12 audio clips vis-a-vis the

incident, demanding an investigation.

Though Thackeray had

assured a probe, Rathod continued

as a minister and staged a

massive show of strength at the

Poharadevi temple in Washim

district last week

Educational

institutions to

open in B’desh

from March 30

Dhaka : The Bangladeshi government

has announced reopening of all the schools

and colleges in the country from March 30.

The country’s Education Minister Dipu

Moni made the announcement after a highlevel

meeting on Saturday night. The minister

said school and college students will

attend classes in person initially.

Students of junior classes will resume

their academic activates in phases later,

she added.

Last week Moni announced that universities

will reopen on May 24, the Xinhua

news reported.

The closure of educational institutions

nationwide ordered by the government

started on March 17 last year as part of the

country’s efforts to halt the spread of the

Covid-19 epidemic.

The closure has been extended repeatedly

and the latest extension was from

February 14 to 28 in a bid to contain the

spread of the virus in the current cold

weather.

Biden urges Senate to

quickly pass $1.9trn

relief package

Washington : US President Joe Biden has urged the Senate to

quickly pass the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which was

approved by the House on Saturday.

"Now the bill moves to the United States Senate where I hope

it will receive quick action... we have no time to waste," Biden

said at the White House on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"If we act now -- decisively, quickly, and boldly -- we can

finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy

moving again," he said.

"And the people of this country have suffered far too much for

too long. We need to relieve that suffering," said the president.

"And it’s time to act." US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said

on Saturday on the Twitter that as an economist and an American,

she applauds "the House’s favourable vote on the American

Rescue Plan." "There’s a broad consensus among economists:

People need more help putting food on the table and keeping a

roof over their head until the virus is under control. This plan does

that," she said. The rescue plan contains direct payments of $1400

per person for working families, which is on top of the $600 check

in the $900 billion relief package approved in December.

It would also boost federal unemployment benefits to $400 dollars

per week and extend the measure through the end of

September. The House-approved bill also includes a provision to

raise the federal minimum wage to $15, which would face tough

tests in the 50-50 split Senate, where parliamentarians have ruled

that the wage increase violates the budget reconciliation process

and cannot be included.

The Senate is set to tackle the bill next week. Senate

Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday blasted

Democrats over the House passage of the relief package, calling it

a "deliberately partisan process". "House Democrats snapped that

bipartisan streak. They jammed through a bill that even liberal

economists and editorial boards say is not well targeted to this

stage of the fight," McConnell said.

Chinese partners uphold Covid-19 vaccine

supply commitments: Azerbaijan

Baku : Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev praised Chinese

partners on Friday for upholding their Covid-19 vaccine supply

commitments, as he expressed concern over what he believes is an

apparent disparity in global vaccine distribution.

"Despite all the statements about solidarity and combined

efforts against the coronavirus, in practice, we see that the picture

is completely contrary. For example, some countries buy vaccines

three or four times more than they need ... This means that someone

(else) would not (be able to) receive the jab," he told a video

press conference.

Azerbaijan joined COVAX, a multinational vaccine-sharing

initiative backed by the World Health Organization, at the very

beginning when it was launched, Aliyev said.

Noting that "Chinese partners have remained true to their commitments,"

the president said his country has yet to get any of the

other vaccines it needs to receive, the Xinhua news agency reported.

He said that Azerbaijan has yet to receive AstraZeneca-Oxford,

Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines under the initiative.

"And we are not even told when we will get it," he added.

Mass vaccination against Covid-19 in Azerbaijan kicked off

January with the use of the CoronaVac jab developed by Chinese

pharmaceutical firm Sinovac.

Ibrahim Mammadov, a spokesman for the Cabinet of Ministers,

said earlier this week that more than 207,000 Azerbaijani citizens

had received their first dose, while more than 35,000 people had

been inoculated with a second dose.


24 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

PSLV rocket puts Brazil, US &

Indian satellites into orbit

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) :

India on Sunday morning successfully

placed into orbit 19 satellites including

Brazil's earth observation satellite

Amazonia-1-the primary passenger-in

a text book style. The multiple satellite

launch space mission that lasted just

under two hours was one of the

longest for PSLV.

Congratulating Team ISRO for the

successful mission K. Sivan,

Chairman, Indian Space Research

Organisation (ISRO) said, "The five

Indian satellites are the result of the

reform measures announced by the

government earlier."

Looking forward, Sivan said,

"Team ISRO's hands are full as there

will be 14 space missions during 2021

that includes six satellite missions,

seven launch missions and one

unmanned mission -- part of India's

human space mission Gaganyaan -- by

the end of this year."

At 10.24 a.m. on a bright Sunday

morning the 44.4 metre tall PSLV-C51

rocket blasted off from the first launch

pad here laden with 14 foreign and

five Indian satellites slowly rose-up

towards the skies with thick orange

flame at its tail.

The rocket slowly gained speed as

it went up while emitting a rolling

thunder sound.

Seventeen minutes into its flight the

rocket first slung its primary passenger,

the Brazil's Amazonia-1 into its

intended Sun Synchronous Orbit

(SSO).

Amazonia-1 is the optical earth

observation satellite of National

Institute for Space Research (INPE).

This satellite would further

strengthen the existing structure by

providing remote sensing data to users

for monitoring deforestation in the

Amazon region and analysis of diversified

agriculture across the Brazilian

territory, ISRO said.

India's first space mission for 2021

is one of the longest for a PSLV rocket.

It took about 1 hour and 55 minutes

to complete the mission.

With this successful mission India

has slung a total of 342 foreign satellites

into orbit, all for a fee.

The rocketing is a fully commercial

one of NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL).

The 18 co-passenger satellites

include four from India's IN-SPACe

(three UNITYsats from consortium of

three Indian academic institutes

(Jeppiaar Institute of Technology,

Sriperumbudur, G.H.Raisoni College

of Engineering, Nagpur and Sri

Shakthi Institute of Engineering and

Technology, Coimbatore) and Satish

Dhawan Sat from Space Kidz India)

with an engraved picture of Prime

Chipko attracted worldwide attention owing to

its non-violent techniques: Ramchandra Guha

New Delhi : The ongoing Jaipur

Literature Festival (JFF) hosted a session

on Shekhar Pathak's new book 'Chipko - A

People's History' that maps the journey of

the people of Uttarakhand and a century of

peaceful agitations to fight for the survival

of their habitat and existence.

Ramchandra Guha, historian, and author

of the book, Shekhar Pathak and Manisha

Chaudhry were in conversation with writer

and journalist Mukul Sharma.

The session focused on recent natural

disasters in Uttarakhand, including the

floods in Nanda Devi Sanctuary in

February 2021, tying it back to issues like

deforestation and urbanisation that have

been rampant over the last few years.

Shekhar Pathak, spoke about the continued

indifference from state and industry

towards the clear and present danger. The

panelists talked about the difficulties faced

by villagers and local residents whose

livelihood and homes are in the areas that

are frequently in the front line of rapacious

deforestation, damming of rivers and cutting

into mountains for roads.

Guha, praising Pathak's work, said,

"Pathak focuses on the ordinary, often

unlettered, men, women and children who

shaped the forest rights struggle."

Calling the century-long history of

andolans in Uttarakhand "a panoply of agitations",

Guha talked of the 1940's Salt

Satyagraha in the hills to support the

national Salt Satyagraha led by Gandhi, the

Statehood movement for Uttarakhand and

many more. "In India, the modern environmental

movement was inaugurated by a

grassroots struggle, the Chipko Andolan, in

1973. Chipko attracted worldwide attention

because of its innovatively non-violent

techniques led by Gandhians, because

many of the participants were women, and

because it took place in the Himalaya, a

place of deep symbolic and spiritual significance,"

Guha said.

Manisha Chaudhry, spoke about her

translating this work, and how it helped her

reconnect to Uttarakhand where she had

spent her growing years. She spoke particularly

about Pathak's foregrounding the

contribution of women which was so

important, especially with her own engagement

with feminism.

(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at

sukant.d@ians.in)

Minister Narendra Modi as well as

Bhagavad Gita in a flash.

The remaining 14 satellites are

Sindhu Netra, an Indian technology

demonstration satellite from Defence

Research Development Organisation's

(DRDO) research centre Imarat,

Hyderabad to identify suspicious ships

and 13 satellites from the US viz.,

SAI-1 NanoConnect-2, a technology

demonstration satellite and 12

SpaceBees satellites for two-way

satellite communications and data

relay.

For the third time ISRO used the

PSLV rocket's DL variant that had two

strap-on booster motors.

In normal configuration the PSLV

is a four stage/engine expendable

rocket powered by solid and liquid

fuels alternatively. Six booster motors

were also strapped on to the first stage

to give higher thrust during the initial

flight moments.

But the PSLV rocket that flew on

Sunday was the DL variant having

only two strap-booster motors.

This rocket variant was used the

first time to put the Microsat R satellite

into orbit on January 24, 2019.

The Indian space agency has PSLV

variants with two and four strap-on

motors, larger PSLV-XL and the Core

Alone variant without any strap-on

motors.

The choice of the rocket to be used

for a mission depends on the weight of

the satellite and the orbit where the

satellite has to be orbited.

Be that as it may, the PSLV-C51

mission is one of longest one for ISRO

as the satellites were placed in different

altitudes.

During its flight, the rocket's fourth

stage engine was cut off and restarted

a couple of times, the first one was at

16 minutes into its flight.

Just over one hour into its flight the

rocket's engine was restarted for about

nine seconds and was shut down

again. After 1 hour, 49 minutes and 52

seconds the rocket's engine was

reignited for eight seconds after which

the 18 piggy back satellites were ejected

into their intended orbit.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can

be contacted at

v.jagannathan@ians.in)

Huawei aims to make

electric cars later this year

Beijing, Feb 28 (IANS) Chinese tech giant Huawei is planning

to make electric cars under its own brand, and some models may

even be launched before the end of this year.

According to GSMArena, Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer

business group, who was in charge of the company's amazing

rise in the smartphone world, is said to shift his focus to EVs,

which will target the mass-market segment.

Huawei is in talks with state-owned Changan Automobile and

other automakers to use their car plants to make its electric vehicles

(EVs), according to two of the people familiar with the matter.

See Page 25


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021

25

India must play pro-active

role on Indus Waters Treaty

New Delhi : The Indus

Waters Treaty (IWT) brokered

between India and Pakistan by

the World Bank in 1960 has

weathered three wars in 1965,

1971 and 1999 -- as also the

September 2016 attack by four

heavily armed terrorists that

resulted in the death of 19 soldiers

and the four attackers and

was "the deadliest attack on

security forces in Kashmir in

two decades".

The IWT will continue to

"chug along" and the "best

option for India, which the current

government is following

after mulling the option of

abrogation, is to optimise/maximise

the provisions of the

Treaty," Uttam Kumar Sinha,

one of India's leading commentators

on trans-boundary water

issues, told IANS in an interview

on his new book," Indus

Basin Uninterrupted -- A

History of Territory & Politics

from Alexander to Nehru"

(Penguin Vintage).

"There is no advantage for

India to abrogate the Treaty.

Water will continue to flow

irrespective unless structures

are constructed on the rivers

that store the water and that

will take several decades," he

adds.

"Technically, the IWT has

no exit clause, so there is no

question of 'renegotiations'.

However, Article XII (3) and

(4) of the Treaty provide for

modification of treaty provisions

BUT through a "duly ratified

treaty" which will replace

the present one with the condition

that cannot be abrogated

unilaterally.

"Politically this is difficult to

achieve. Pakistan knows very

well that the Treaty of 1960 is

as good as it can get and any

�modified' treaty will only

harm its interest. It will continue

to make noises (both domestically

and internationally)

about India's hegemonic

motives to keep the anti-India

feeling alive," Sinha maintains,

adding that the Treaty and its

provisions "not only gives

Pakistan the water it requires

but on account of being a lower

riparian vis-a-vis India, it

builds a global sympathy as a

victim of India's hydro-aggression".

At the same time, India

needs to take corrective measures,

he said.

"On the eastern rivers much

of the waters in non-monsoon

period (about 0.58 MAF) flow

freely into Pakistan. This has to

Chinese mainland reports 6

new imported Covid cases

Beijing : The Chinese mainland

reported six new imported Covid-

19 cases on Saturday, bringing the

total number of imported cases to

4,990, the National Health

Commission said in its daily report

om Sunday.

Of the new imported cases, two

each were reported in Fujian and

Yunnan, and one each in Tianjin

and Guangdong, Xinhua news

agency reported citing the Health Commission.

Among all the imported cases, 4,828 had been discharged from hospitals

after recovery while 162 remained hospitalised, the commission said.

No deaths had been reported among the imported cases.

be arrested and for that the

three projects Ujh (storage of

0.82 MAF) and Shahpurkandi

Dam (0.012 MAF) and second

Ravi Vyas Link Project have

been put into fast track.

"On the western rivers the

'permissible storage capacity'

as per the Treaty provisions has

not been paid serious attention

in India. This again has to be

seriously corrected," Sinha

writes.

Noting that the current government

"has put many projects

on the Chenab river like the

Bursar and Gypsa on fast

track," he contends that "many

more projects would be

required to fulfil the provision

of 2.7 MAF of storage water on

the western rivers".

"But most importantly, India

has to build widespread awareness

about Pakistan's strategy

to stall or delay multi-purpose

projects among the people of

Jammu and Kashmir and harness

the displeasure of the local

political leadership about the

provisions of IWT. At the end

of the day water is equally

about perception," Sinha

explains.

The framers of the Treaty

had foreseen that differences

and disputes will emerge, he

says, adding that "the beauty of

the Treaty lies in the

'Settlement mechanism' within

the Treaty (vide Article IX and

attendant Annexures F and G)

in three different ways."

"Resolution of any differences

through (i) mutual consultations

in the Permanent

Indus Water Commission

established under the Treaty;

(ii) through a Neutral Expert

acceptable to both or appointed

by the World Bank in case of

disagreement, and (iii) resolution

of any 'dispute' by a Court

of Arbitration," Sinha writes,

accusing Pakistan of using

"these provisions on numerous

occasions to obstruct many

projects being planned by

India, well within the treaty

provisions".

Beginning with "Ageing of

India's History, the 353-page

book, in five parts, with an easy

narration and rich archival

material, brings alive a meandering

5,000-year journey of

peace, conflict and commerce

on the Indus basin, exploring

"Diplomacy and Commerce on

the Indus", "Colonisation,

Canals and Contestation",

"Partition of Land and Rivers"

and finally, "The Making of the

Indus Waters Treaty".

Continue Page 24

Huawei aims to make electric...

Huawei is also in discussions with Beijing-backed

BAIC Group's BluePark New Energy Technology to

manufacture its EVs.

In addition, another Chinese tech company

Xiaomi is also planning to build its own car and is

considering it as a strategic decision, but specific

details and the path it aims to take are yet to be determined.

As far as project leadership is concerned,

Xiaomi's current CEO, Lei Jun, will be directly heading

it. Back in 2013, Lei Jun had visited the US twice

to meet with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and now it seems

that its interest on the field has grown.

The Indian market has also seen a demand for

smart vehicles, and auto companies like Tata,

Mahindra and others are offering their electric vehicles.

Along the way, from

Alexander's campaign to

Mohammad-bin-Qasim crossing

the Indus and laying the

foundation of Muslim rule in

India; from the foreign invades

and their 'loot and scoot' to the

Mughal rulers' perspective on

hydrology and water use; from

the British 'great game' on the

Indus basin to the bitter and

bloody Partition; and finally, as

a historical pause, the signing

of the IWT, this book is a spectrum

of spectacular events,

turning points, and of personalities

and characters and their

actions that were full of marvel.

As the author notes in the

Preface, "it is a frightening

acknowledgement that the

Indus basin, with its richness

and impetuosity, can be so allpervasive,

defining history,

ordering territories, attracting

invaders and in many senses,

determining the way of life and

the politics around it. Much, of

course is known of this vast

basin, yet much is unknown . It

is time, perhaps, as we mark

sixty years of the Indus Water

Treaty, 'to talk of many things'

Continue Page 1

as the Walrus said to the

Carptner in Lewis Carrol's

"Through a Looking Glass'"

and this the book does in abundant

measure. After a brief stint

in the print media and doctoral

degree from Jawaharlal Nehru

University, he joined the

Institute of Defence Studies

and Analyses (now renamed

the Manohar Parrikar-IDSA)

where he heads the non-territorial

security centre and is the

Managing Editor of "Strategic

Analysis" the institute's flagship

journal.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be

reached

at

vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

India reports highest new daily Covid...

The Ministry also informed that 7,95,723 samples were tested

on Saturday. The cumulative tests done by Indian Council of

Medical Research (ICMR) so far stands at 21,62,31,106.

So far, 1,43,01,266 doses of corona vaccine have been administered

in the country since the drive began on January 16 after

approval for 'Covishield' and 'Covaxin'.

As per the Union Health Ministry, India has become the fastest

nation in terms of the vaccine doses administered, even though

many countries had launched their vaccination campaigns much

earlier. The third phase of vaccination against Covid-19 pandemic

will begin from March 1 and will cover 27 crore of people above

60 and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities at 10,000

government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. While

people will be vaccinated free of cost at government hospitals,

those taking the shots at private hospitals will have to pay.

Continue Page 1

Global Covid-19 cases top 113 million...

The other countries with more than a million confirmed coronavirus

cases are Brazil (10,517,232), Russia (4,187,166), the UK

(4,182,772), France (3,747,263), Spain (3,188,553), Italy

(2,907,825), Turkey (2,693,164), Germany (2,444,177), Colombia

(2,248,135), Argentina (2,104,197), Mexico (2,076,882), Poland

(1,696,885), Iran (1,623,159), South Africa (1,512,225), Ukraine

(1,389,570), Indonesia (1,329,074), Peru (1,316,363), Czech

Republic (1,227,595) and The Netherlands (1,098,875), the CSSE

figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of

Covid-19 fatalities at 254,221, followed by Mexico 184,474 on the

third place and India 156,938 on the fourth.

Meanwhile, the nations with a death toll above 20,000 are the

UK (122,939), Italy (97,507), France (85,741), Russia (84,330),

Germany (70,019), Spain (69,142), Iran (59,980), Colombia

(59,660), Argentina (51,946), South Africa (49,941), Peru

(46,094), Poland (43,656), Indonesia (35,981), Turkey (28,503),

Ukraine (27,306), Belgium (22,052), Canada (21,961), Chile

(20,476), Romania (20,287) and Czech Republic (20,194).


26 01-03-2021 to 15-03-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Bengal polls: Left, Cong

joint rally at Kolkata

Kolkata : For the first time, the

CPM-led Left Front and the Congress

are going to hold a joint rally at

Kolkata's Brigade Parade ground on

Sunday, in a bid to display the strength

of the Third Front ahead of the highvoltage

West Bengal Assembly polls.

Hooghly's Pirzada Abbas Siddiquiled

Indian Secular Front (ISF) will

also take part in the mega rally.

Thousands of Left and Congress

supporters from various West Bengal

districts started pouring into Kolkata

by trains and busses since Saturday

night. Camps were opened at Howrah

and Sealdah railway station - two

major railheads in eastern India. Both

the parties took out numerous processions,

ran extensive campaigns on

social media asking people to attend

the rally.

But the three-party electoral coalition

will miss its poster boy and former

West Bengal Chief Minister

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the rally

as he won't be able to attend the meeting

this time owing to poor health. The

Left leadership in Bengal wanted

Bhattacharjee to be present at the

mega show and requested the former

CPI-M politburo member.

But at the last moment, the ex-CM

sent a written communication to the

party saying he won't be to able to

Why some Covid strains are

more infectious than others

make it. CPM general secretary

Sitaram Yechuri, state secretary

Sujyakanta Mishra, Left Front chairman

Biman Bose, Congress state president

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, ISF's

Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui and other

leaders will be present at the programme.

Congress leader and

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh

Baghel will be there at the rally too,

sources said.

The Left-Congress and ISF coalition

will launch the poll campaign

from the mammoth rally in order to

mark the beginning of their canvassing

for the forthcoming Assembly

election. Left front chairman Biman

Bose went to the parade ground on

Saturday afternoon to take a stock of

the preparations. He said: "This will

be one of the biggest brigade meetings

ever. As far as the estimates we are

getting, the entire brigade ground is

going to be chockablock."

The Left Front and the Congress

have already finalised a seat-sharing

agreement. Talks between the Left and

ISF have also been sealed as both the

parties have agreed upon 30 seats for

the newly-floated political outfit.

Sources, however, said that the seatsharing

negotiation between the

Congress and the ISF is still underway.

"The coalition is to offer an alternative

to the anti-people and communal

politics of the Trinamool Congress

and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),"

said senior Congress leader Pradip

Bhattacharya.

New York : A team of researchers has

discovered one reason that likely makes

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-

19, so much more infectious than SARS-

CoV-1, which caused the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The coronaviruses that cause SARS

and Covid-19 have spike proteins that move

into 'active' and 'inactive' positions, and the

study indicates how those molecular movements

may make the Covid-19 virus more

infectious compared to the SARS virus,

according to researchers, including one of

Indian-origin named Vivek Govind Kumar.

"We discovered in these simulations that

SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 have completely

different ways of changing their

shape, and on different time scales," said

researcher Mahmoud Moradi from the

University of Arkansas.

"SARS-CoV-1 moves faster, it activates

and deactivates, which doesn't give it as

much time to stick to the human cell because

it's not as stable. SARS-CoV-2, on the other

hand, is stable and ready to attack," he

added. The researchers explained that the

first step in coronavirus infection is for the

virus to enter cells. For this entry, the spike

proteins on the outside of the SARS-CoV

virus must reposition.

Scientists know the position of the "inactive"

and "active" states of the spike proteins

of both the SARS-CoV-1 and -2 viruses, but

the team wanted to study how the spikes

moved from one position to another and the

dynamics of those movements.

For the study, presented at the 65th

Annual Biophysical Society Meeting, the

team turned to molecular simulations.

The other implication for their research is

"we could design therapeutics that alter the

dynamics and make the inactive state more

stable, thereby promoting the deactivation of

SARS-CoV-2. That is a strategy that hasn't

yet been adopted," Moradi explained.

It is valuable to be able to do these kinds

of simulations, Moradi said, in the event a

new coronavirus emerges, or SARS-CoV-2

mutates so that they can predict if the new

virus or variant could be higher in transmissibility

and infection.

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