Maoists in Chhattisgarh have released CoBRA jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas after keeping him in their custody for five days. He had been kidnapped during the Bijapur attack on 3 April.
In the Maoist ambush on Saturday, 22 security personnel, including seven CRPF commandos of the CoBRA unit, lost their lives and 31 were injured. The encounter had broken out between security forces and Naxals along Chhattisgarh’s Sukma-Bijapur border after a party of jawans were ambushed by the Naxals near Jonnaguda village. Manhas had gonemissing after that gun battle.
Three days later, on 6 April, the Maoists said that the jawan was in their custody and issued a press note asking the government to name interlocutors for his release. In the note, Vikalp, spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DSZC) of the banned CPI (Maoists), wrote, “The government must declare the names of interlocutors. After that, we will release the policeman in our custody. Till then, he will be safe under our security.”
A day later, on Wednesday, the Maoists released a picture of Manhas, in which he was seen sitting on a plastic mat under a temporary shelter, possibly at a Maoist camp On Thursday, a group of local journalists and community leaders went to retrieve Manhas. The group included a journalist from India News, K. Shankar, who shed further light on the chain of events leading up to his release.
“We were in constant communication with the Maoists so we could gauge the condition of the jawan and the situation overall,” said Shankar. “I also got news of him to his family. There are certain things you do as a human being, not just a journalist,” he shared.
Shankar also said that despite the press note issued by the Maoists, Manhas was released unconditionally. He explained that as a move made by the Maoists to gain the villagers’ favour.
“The jawan was released in front of hundreds of villagers from twenty villages in the region after four locals and a group of journalists in Bastar went to hold talks and get Manhas,” said Shankar.
After he was released, Manhas got a ride on Shankar’s bike from the jungle to the Basaguda police station. Manhas was captured by the camera smiling in relief as he thanked India News for the efforts made.
“We have brought him back safely. He will undergo a medical examination by a doctor here,” said Bijapur Superintendent of Police Kamlochan Kashyap after Manhas returned.
Back at his home, his wife, Meenu, informed the press that he is in good health. “Today is the happiest day of my life. I always remained hopeful of his return. I am very thankful to the government,” she told press agency ANI.
Manhas, a constable in the elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit of the CRPF, is a resident of Jammu. On Sunday, after he was declared missing, a senior CRPF officer had met his family and assured his relatives that the government was trying its best to get him back.
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, an MP from Udhampur, also expressed his happiness over his release. “A huge relief for the family as well as the entire Jammu region. Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah,” he said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, in the 6 April press note, the DSZC had also released names of four Maoists who died in the operation and claimed that the Maoists had managed to procure 14 weapons, more than 2,000 bullets, besides other items.
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TRUST THE PROCESS, BIG THINGS WILL AUTOMATICALLY HAPPEN: PRATIK GAURI
In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, spoke about the 5th industrial revolution and much more.
Business is a cocktail of vision, belief, and execution. A balanced mixture of these three ingredients churns out a perfect blend of a successful business. Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, who is also known as the pioneer of the 5th industrial revolution, shared his insights on business leadership with NewsX India A-List.
Speaking about the 5th industrial revolution, Pratik said, “The 5th industrial revolution is all about using the advancements of the 4th industrial revolution such as Artificial Intelligence, 3-D printing, IoT for the betterment of humanity. The 5th industrial revolution is all about working at the intersection of purpose and profit. It means that, even as a fortune 500 company, if you have a purpose, you can maximise profit. If the company is consumer-centric, it gives the company a purpose and subsequently increased profits. Through this revolution, we also aim at using the language of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 global goals, in our process. The 5th Industrial Revolution agenda is to shift from a for-profit paradigm to a for-benefit paradigm.”
Pratik wears multiple hats, including that of an entrepreneur and an investor, to achieve his goal. Talking about how he is using it to achieve his vision, he said, “I have founded more than eight companies and have invested in many. I also indulge in public speaking and motivate people from the age of 19 to 30 years to take the initial steps for becoming an entrepreneur in the space of the for-benefit paradigm. At 5th Element Group, we are creating what we call Omni-win solutions. We bring four sectors—Fortune 500 companies, the government, ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices, and social entrepreneurs – that helps us create these Omni-win solutions.”
The model uses the resources of a Fortune 500 company to bring the vision to life, the government’s backing to achieve a national scale, using the social entrepreneurs to get intel on the impact scale, and the high net-worth individual for the capital. This model helps in creating omni-win solutions (everybody wins). Pratik gave the example of such a model in progress. He told NewsX, “Mission Paani by Harpic is one such project. We brought the fortune 500 company Reckitt Benckiser, and not-for-profit organisation ‘Water for People’ as execution partners and together took them to World Economic Forum. This initiative will impact millions of people in India by giving them access to clean drinking water, starting from Maharashtra.”
Covid-19 impacted businesses, both big and small, in one way or the other. However, the situation was different for Pratik. “On the personal side, Covid impacted everybody adversely. Although, it has also been a blessing in disguise for the professional work. What I have been trying to promote for decades has amplified due to the pandemic. This is because the consumer has now started believing in the power of health, power of consumer-centric, purpose-driven brands, and they realize that purpose is more important than profit,” he expressed. Talking about the three aspects of capital—Financial, Relational, and Human—Pratik further explained how his capital and his message had found a wider reach than before.
Pratik’s latest project that he is particularly proud of is a charitable sweepstakes platform called ‘Win Together’. It involves micro-donors by allowing them to become a part of these solutions, and the incentives like getting a chance to win a Tesla Cyber truck are given to people. Such projects will impact consumers through SDGs on a big scale in the coming years. Wrapping up the talk with few golden tips for budding entrepreneurs, Pratik said, “One big piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to trust the process and never lose hope. If you trust the process, big things will happen; it takes time. It is also essential to believe in yourself as much as possible, as people will not believe you until you believe in yourself.”
VIBE JUST ATTRACTED THE TRIBE: MANASI SCOTT ON HER LATEST SONG ‘KITTHE CHALI’
In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, actor-singer Manasi Scott spoke about her latest music video ‘Kitthe Chali’ as well as some of her upcoming projects.
Manasi Scott is a well-known singer and actor. She is one of the most loved voices on fashion show ramps. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, she spoke to us about her recent award-winning performance in the ‘Kitthe Chali’ music video.
Talking about how the origin of the idea of her recent hit song ‘Kitthe Chali’ and the kind of response it’s generating, Manasi said, “Being half Sardarani Punjabi is like 1st nature to me. Every day I used to get up, put on makeup and do a show on Insta live. It was heart-warming for a number of people who connected. At that time, ‘twisted bass’ sent me the basic skeleton of the song. I was sitting, applying lipstick and listening to the track when the idea clicked about ‘Kitthe Chali Kudiye’. It formed the basis of the song. It started there and when lockdown opened, Gaurav came home to hear it and said keep it, this is the way he wanted the song to be. I felt this is amazing. So the idea is our frustration in lockdown.”
Sharing her upcoming projects, she said, “I think besides the birth of this beautiful song, it was like a vocal master class for me. There’s a lot more coming out with 9XM and many others and hopefully an international project as well.” Moreover, she beautifully hummed few lines of ‘Kitthe Chali’ for the audience.
On being asked about her transition from software engineer to a popular singer and actor, Manasi shared, “I have to thank 9XM and SpotlampE. They made me remember all this from the past because it’s been so long in the business that you don’t think about it. I am not only a software engineer graduate but I topped. I have a 70% scholarship to a very elite engineering school in America. My dad has this dream of being a drummer and I was there on every stage singing and winning, though I never learned singing. Born to two super achievers, engineering was the way to go. My father asked me not to waste my life and go into the arts. I think he’s the only father in the country that pusher his daughter from engineering to arts. I owe this transition to my dad, the fashion industry, and people who believed in me.”
On being given the option to choose one between singing and acting, she said, “For me, my first love is musical theatre. It’s about getting a chance to do it right the first time and not getting a chance to do it again with 2nd take. I have done a lot of amateur theatre in the early years. For me it’s about performance—singing, dancing and acting all together. Just to see that joy, connect, and unite with the audience for those few minutes of performance means everything to me.”
Talking about the music video of ‘Kitthe Chali’, Manasi gave full credit to the choreographer-director of the video and her friend for all the looks. She believes, “the good look and idea of the presentation is half the battle won because by that time you have already believed in the song. Music video success was a result of the collective hardworking of a lot of people. I think people just came out of lockdown and the vibe just attracted the tribe.” She wrapped her interview on a very positive note. “I hope the rest of the world moves forward in the same way. I think this video has come to life, whichever way it goes, it’s going to be a hit because of people and their energy, kindness and connectivity.”
For me it’s about performance—singing, dancing and acting all together. Just to see that joy, connect, and unite with the audience for those few minutes of performance means everything to me.
THE ART OF KEEPING IT SHORT BUT NOT SIMPLE
An anthology of short stories enables a writer to develop multiple germs of thought into distinct stories, each of which has a compactly expressed theme. A short story can be more impactful than a novel since all its concentrated elements—plot, characters, ambience, pacing and resolution—amalgamate to convey a singular idea or emotion such as humour, mystery, moral truth or an emotional conflict while incorporating profundity, innovation and complexity despite the conciseness of form.
Whereas a novel can dawdle into multiple scenarios and time spans, a short story delves into a single scenario, dilemma or conflict that is resolved or finally brought to a climax within 1000 to 5000 words. Here are some tips to write expressive short stories.
• Describe the details of a central setting so as to make it vivid, relatable and interesting. For example, in my anthology The Jamun Tree and Other Stories, the scene of the story ‘Inheritance’ is clearly set as a lawyer’s chamber where the lawyer conveys the contents of the late matriarch’s will to her family:
The bespectacled senior lawyer, Kishen Khanna, seated on one side of an expansive desk, watched the Dewan family stream into his wood-panelled office with ergonomic office chairs and shelves stacked with law books and case files.
The events of ‘Holiday Luncheon’ take place aboard a cruise liner sailing from Singapore to Port Klang in Malaysia, and the scene is clearly delineated at the outset.
‘What a lovely cruise liner!’ remarked Disha, as they boarded the liner and saw a gigantic artificial tree decorated with brightly coloured tinsel, silver balls, red stockings and other Christmas decorations in the centre of the circular carpeted Reception room with doors leading to different arenas: recreational facilities, cabins, suites, multi-cuisine dining options, a duty-free shopping zone and a walk-around promenade deck.
• Develop an original story in which the plot structure does or does not follow the classic linear sequence of the beginning, the middle and the ending. For example, you can plunge straight into the middle of the story and then rewind into a flashback. The story ‘The Jamun Tree’ begins with the comments of some onlookers about the luxurious Jamun tree in the courtyard of a vintage bungalow and then covers the past 45 years in the lives of the Jamun Tree and the family inhabiting the bungalow.
• Focus on one or maximum two main characters and add complexity by describing their unexpressed feelings and desires instead of making them simply good or bad characters. Describe their physical and mental attributes, contradictory emotions and past history so that the characters seem realistic and well-rounded.
Do not reveal everything about the character at once but gradually throughout the story to keep the readers hooked on to the revelations. For example, the story ‘The Discovery’ reveals new facts about the narrator’s psychological state of mind as her thrilling story proceeds until the last crucial exposition that turns her tale on its head; and in the story ‘Crackdown’, the true mental state of the protagonist is revealed at the conclusion, much to the readers’ surprise.
• Develop the characters and ambience through brief sensory details instead of detailed explanations. For example, in the story ‘Art of Living’, the description of Manya when she meets her friend in the café conveys her anguished frame of mind:
As she gave me a quick hug and sat opposite me, I saw a careworn and grief-stricken lady with wild darting eyes and shabby untended hair and clothes. Most of all, I noticed the dazed and faraway look in her eyes—probably due to medication for depression, which, Rajiv had told me, she had been prescribed.
• Use dialogue to reveal character and propel plot tension. The dialogue must enable the reader to infer the character’s personality and state of mind. Provide enough description of the speaker’s actions, tone and attitude to enable inference but avoid over-detailing.
In these words of Manya from ‘Art of Living’, one can feel her grief:
‘It was a blue polka-dotted dress with red satin ribbons, so pretty! She looked like a doll in it. But, after the accident, there were red streaks all over her and the dress…so awful…’ Manya burst into tears and took a paper napkin from the holder to dry her tears. ‘Now, she is gone and we are all here …eating … sleeping …working. Only she is gone.’
• Write the short story in First Person or Third Person. In the former, the narrator can be the main character or someone observing him or her. In the latter, there is an omniscient narrator who is aware of all that is happening with the characters.
Ensure clarity of perspective and an undercurrent to the narration so that the reader can see beyond what is stated to interpret the narrator’s follies, illusions and subjectivity. Build up contrasting versions of the truth to intrigue readers as in this first-person narrative from ‘The Discovery’:
‘Deepak alleged that I had shown criminal negligence in abandoning my father in his frailty to the care of my sister-in-law, Seema, a working professional. Of course, I had done nothing of the sort and had been literally driven out of my mind by Sahil and Seema’s persecution, which started as soon as my father fell ill.’
• Prune all words extraneous to the central theme. Every sentence must be there for a purpose. This will keep the story moving forward and retain the reader’s interest.
• Build up to a riveting climax or anti-climax. Try to include a twist at the end of the tale so that the reader stumbles on something unexpected but avoid clichéd endings. Provide a resolution to the conflict so that there is a change in the protagonist’s perception or attitude. The ending must satisfy the reader and not leave them with the feeling that the story ended too soon or left loose threads unresolved.
Perhaps you may love the process of writing short stories so much as to agree with Annie Proulx’s statement, ‘I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.’
Richa Gupta is the author of ‘The Jamun Tree and Other Stories’.
YOUNG CHILDREN’S DIETS SHOW NO IMPROVEMENT IN LAST DECADE, GET MUCH WORSEN UNDER COVID-19: UNICEF
In an analysis of 91 countries including India, the report finds that only half of children aged 6-23 months are being fed the minimum recommended number of meals a day, while just a third consume the minimum number of food groups they need to thrive. Further analysis of 50 countries with available trend data reveals these poor feeding patterns have persisted throughout the last decade. Children under the age of 2 are not getting the food or nutrients they need to thrive and grow well, leading to irreversible developmental harm, as per a new report released by UNICEF on Thursday.
Fed to Fail: The crisis of children’s diets in early life —released ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit this week—warns that rising poverty, inequality, conflict, climate-related disasters, and health emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are contributing to an ongoing nutrition crisis among the world’s youngest that has shown little sign of improvement in the last ten years. “The report’s findings are clear: when the stakes are highest, millions of young children are being fed to fail. Poor nutritional intake in the first two years of life can irreversibly harm children’s rapidly growing bodies and brains, impacting their schooling, job prospects and futures. While we have known this for years, there has been little progress on providing them right kind of nutritious and safe foods. The ongoing Covid-19 disruptions could make the situation much worse,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
According to the report, children aged 6-23 months living in rural areas or from poorer households are more likely to be fed poor diets compared to their urban or wealthier peers. In 2020, for example, the proportion of children fed the minimum number of recommended food groups was twice as high in urban areas (39%) than in rural areas (23). The report notes that progress is possible with investment. In South Asia (19%), less than one in four young children are being fed a minimally diverse diet. Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, said, “The fallout from Covid-19 has compounded the nutrition-related challenges. The key indicator for development and improve data quality for better policy and programme decisions. Regular reviews of nutrition supported by robust data systems, like HMIS, POSHAN Tracker and NFHS that track changes in coverage, continuity, intensity and quality of interventions is a must to help identify areas where urgent actions are needed.”
OLYMPIANS FELICITATED AT KIIT, 2 STADIUMS TO BE NAMED AFTER PRAMOD, DUTEE
In a spirit of repeat curiosity, the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) Deemed to be University has unrolled the red carpets for Olympians. KIIT has remained a crucible of sports enthusiasm and in this endeavour, there has been a mushroom eruption of sports talents in the last few years. The initiative at this front got a kick start from 2005 and then after there has been no looking back.
Flattening Curves: Surpassing all odds, the talents from the KIIT have left footprints in Tokyo Olympics recently, adding an extra feather, in the recently concluded Tokyo Paraolympios, Pramod Bhagat, who has been associated with KIIT for long, has won Gold Medal in Badminton. He has also won Gold Medal in World Badminton Championship and many other medals for the state and country. He frequently practised for his games in KIIT Indoor Stadium. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Dr Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS felicitated him in the presence of senior officials of KIIT & KISS. KIIT also honoured him with a Cash Prize of Rs 5,00,000.
Milestones Set: KIIT has decided to name the Indoor Stadium at Campus -12 (where he practised his game) as ‘Pramod Bhagat Indoor Stadium’. Besides, Pramod will be honoured with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from KIIT or KISS Deemed to be University.
Dutee Chand of KIIT School of Law has been on the Olympics tracks for two successive terms including the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics-2021. She has also bagged two Silver medals in Asiad, and become the first woman in the country to win the Gold Medal in the World University Games representing this university.
KIIT has decided to name the Synthetic Athletic Stadium of KIIT after Dutee as ‘Dutee Chand Stadium’. Dutee’s name is also considered for honouring with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from KIIT or KISS Deemed to be University next year. KIIT is the first university in India to name its two stadiums after Olympians.
Two stadiums of KIIT will be named after these two Olympians in December 2021, informed Dr Samanta. He hailed CM Naveen Patnaik, who has been tirelessly promoting sports and sports persons for last so many years. He has especially promoted Dutee and Promod.
Another World Champion Rakhal Sethy was also provided with a check worth Rs 2.7 lakh for a wheelchair to participate in Fencing Para World Cup in November.
Mukul Roy did not appear at the hearing, TMC gave a letter, Suvendu calls it ‘tool’
Mukul Roy did not attend the hearing on the allegation of defection. TMC Chief Whip Nirmal Ghosh wrote a letter to Speaker Biman Banerjee stating the reason for his non-attendance at the hearing. Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari called the letter a “big tool” in support of their allegations. The speaker had a hearing on Mukul’s anti-defection case on Thursday. Kalyani BJP MLA Ambika Roy and her lawyers, including the Opposition Leader, reached the Speaker’s house at around 1 pm. The hearing lasted for half an hour. Suvendu can know about Mukul’s position during the hearing. In Mukul’s absence, the speaker fixed 12 November for the next hearing.
As per a letter from the TMC Chief Whip addressed to the Speaker, Mukul could not attend the hearing due to illness. He is currently undergoing treatment. Thus, his presence in the meeting on 23 September was not possible. The BJP sees the letter of the TMC chief whip on behalf of BJP MLA Mukul from Krishnanagar North as a big tool in their application for dismissal of the MLA post. Suvendu said, “Mukulbabu has given proof that he has become a member of the TMC. Instead of his reply, Nirmal, the Chief Whip of the ruling party, sent a letter to the speaker. He said Mukul was not coming to the hearing due to illness.”
“First of all, Nirmal gave this letter,” he said. So it is clear that Mukul is now a member of the TMC. As a result, anti-secession laws need to be implemented now. Second, even if Mukul could not come himself, he could clarify his political position with a letter. Thirdly, the letter from the TMC Chief Whip did not provide any information about Mukul’s health. BJP will not wait too long for the speaker’s decision, he said. The court ruled in an anti-defection case in the Manipur assembly that the speaker of the assembly concerned would have to take a decision within three months. BJP wants to wait for a certain period for every defecting MLA. If the speaker does not take a decision within the stipulated time, Gerua Shibir will approach the court. Suvendu said they could approach the court next Monday over Mukul’s resignation.
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