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135 saints from 35 religious bodies invited for 5 August ‘bhoomi pujan’ in Ayodhya

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Champat Rai, general secretary of the Ram Mandir Tirtha Kshetra Trust addressed a press conference on Monday to give information on the Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan ceremony. The bhoomi pujan, which is going to take place on 5 August, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be accompanied by four more people on stage — Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. The first invite was sent to Iqbal Ansari who was one of the Muslim litigants in the Ayodhya case.

 Keeping in mind safety precautions due to Covid-19, except Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, no state/ UT heads have been invited for the ceremony. BJP veterans L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kalyan Singh, who played a crucial role in the temple movement, are unlikely to be physically present in the ceremony in the temple town. However, as per the highly-placed trust sources, both BJP veterans would join the ceremony through video conferencing. There are chances of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attending the event.

 Extensive security measures have been deployed to ensure hassle free and peaceful completion of the ceremony, Rai said. He mentioned that mobile phones will not be allowed at the venue and attendees will not be allowed to carry bags. “Each invitee has been provided with invitation card that bears a code. This code will ensure that one invitee gets entry only once,” Champat Rai said.

Any invitee, who leaves the bhoomi pujan venue for whatever reason, will not be allowed to re-enter. Rai mentioned that 135 saints of 35 religious organisations, out of the total 175 eminent guests, have been invited to attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Ram Mandir. The Mahant of Janaki Mandir in Nepal has also been invited.

 It is mandatory for the invitees to arrive at the venue two hours prior to the arrival of PM Narendra Modi. Champat Rai, speaking of clothing that will adorn Ram Lalla, said that the deity will be dressed in green-coloured clothes as the colour signifies prosperity. Water from more than 100 rivers and soil from more than 1,500 holy places in the country have been brought by devotees for the bhoomi pujan ceremony.

“Many people have arrived, including VHP leader Dinesh Chand, mahants from “akhadas” in Haridwar. All invitees will be here by Tuesday evening. RSS’ Mohan Bhagwat and Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, among many others, are expected to come,” Champat Rai said.

“Some people are so perturbed by the PM that they see him in their dreams and lose sleep over him. They are linking Lord Ram’s green clothes to the PM. It is unfathomable if they were influenced by green clothes or fear of the PM. It is not a matter pertaining to PMO, CM or the Trust. The priest (Acharya Satyendra Das, Chief Priest of the makeshift temple) has been deciding the colour of clothes as per the day. It is fixed. He does not make changes under anyone’s influence. For Monday, it would be white clothes, for Tuesday it would be red clothes and for Wednesday, it would be green clothes. We have also kept an option of yellow and saffron clothes,” Rai said.

Although the foundation stone-laying ceremony will be held on 5 August, the actual sequence started 108 days ago on 18 April 2020 in which Vedpath, Purusha Sukta, daily Srisukta, Aghoramantra, Vastu, planets, Nakshatra Shanti lessons and Vishwa Sahastra name, Shri Ram Sahastra name, Shri Havan and Rudrabhishek were also performed with Hanumat Sahastra, Durga Saptasati chants.

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“Don’t compete but change the rules”: Maneck Malhotra, Director, Choco Swiss

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Maneck Malhotra

Recently, Maneck Malhotra, the director of Choco Swiss, a designer chocolate giant in India, sat with NewsX for an exclusive interview. He shares with us his mantra of “Don’t compete but change the rules” as he talks about how he beats the competition in the Chocolate sector in India.

Maneck spoke with us about the journey he’s been on to get to this point, and the role his father, who founded the company had played. “I think my father was very ahead of his time. He was a Chartered Accountant in the UK, but then we came back to India so that the kids could have an Indian upbringing. We were the first ones to import equipment to design soft-centred chocolate. In India, most people just relate chocolate to bars, but we went beyond that.”

He also feels like the market has grown and matured a lot since his father founded the company, and that those changes will aid Choco Swiss’ success. “You know, in my father’s day, you didn’t have all these different airlines to transport chocolate in, there was just one, you didn’t have refrigerated truck either. There have been a lot of changes since my father’s day, and you know I think we’ve waited 30 years to be in a place where the market is well-placed for us, and I think we’re there now.”

We asked Maneck about the challenges he faced upon taking over the company from his father, and what competition is like, in India’s chocolate market. “Look I think, for the longest time, India was completely dominated by Cadbury, Nestle, Amul, etc. People just associated chocolate with those brands, and with those types of chocolates, so one of the major challenged for us was to get people to accept that chocolate with a gifting sentiment, could also be chocolate with a daily consumption use. For the longest time, my father based his sales strategy on gift packs, which created a mindset that we tried to change in our customers.”

Talking about the pandemic, and the challenges it created for Choco Swiss and the industry, Maneck was brutally honest. “I’ll be honest, it was quite difficult for us. We’re a good that is not a daily consumable good we’re based on lifestyle aspects, which the pandemic shut down. We’ve been increasing our digital presence because obviously customers can’t go to physical stores to buy our products anymore. We really had to take a step back, introspect and think about our digital strategy, and I think now that we’ve done that, we’ve come out stronger on the other end of it.”

He spoke about some of the new initiatives that Choco Swiss has been taking, with regards to their product line, but simultaneously, emphasized that value that they place on sticking to their roots. “Over 70% of our sales come from our basic classics, those have not changed in 30 years. We believe in sticking to our roots, but obviously, we do understand, that we need to keep innovating and keep offering the customer something new. With that in mind, we’re trying to enter into energy bars, we’re also going to be releasing some very quirky and unique and progressive blends soon in the future.”

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‘AI and blockchain data will revolutionize the world’, says Mayur Ramgir, an international award-winning innovator, founder of Zonopact, an incubator for young talent

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Mayur Ramgir

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list, an author, serial entrepreneur, film director and philanthropist, Mayur Rangir takes us through embracing technology for the better and how students and working professionals can have a better future in the tech world.

Mayur is the fellow of ‘The World Technology Network” and winner of the ” Pride of the Nation” award 2018. The JAVA expert shared his perspective on how technology is helping us survive this unprecedented time where businesses are suffering and people are losing jobs.

He said that this surely is a difficult time, not only for individuals but also businesses are struggling with it. They have the fear of uncertainty.’Even India’s GDP is hampered and GST collections are not enough’, he added. He mentioned that things are moving towards a new era, businesses are learning new ways of dealing with the situation.’6 months back companies were not ok with employees working from home, but now they have adapted with the change and have realised that the productivity of employees can go up with a little freedom’, the techie continued.

He feels that technology is going to go to the next level when hospitals will be automated and even workplaces will be completely touchless.

According to Mayur, technology is much more than just a cell phone and smart TVs. He says that with researches going on for implementing AI into our daily lives, AI and blockchain big data will revolutionise the world. They will mostly rule the next decade. Hence, changing tech in India in the coming years. He also asks students to look into courses where they can build their skill sets in this emerging world of technology.

He speaks about some new forward-thinking institutions like the London School of Emerging Technology and WilyNXT. The whole curriculum of these institutions is based on taking up real problems from industries and upcoming startups and make their students work on it. Working professionals can opt for professional certification in which they don’t have to quit their jobs and can go to London for a few weeks to do the course.

Lastly, the tech expert has a few suggestions for the students in this arena. He finds technology to be a funny area because one has to prepare themselves all the time with new technologies coming into the market every now and then. He urges the students to keep training themselves accordingly.’Early-career employees should think about upscaling their skills by joining professional courses offered by various institutions ’, he added. By following this, these employees will be ready for the jobs coming in the next generation.

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Hiren Gada, CEO of Shemaroo Entertainment discusses the changing nature of streaming services, digital content due to pandemic

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Hiren Gada

Mr Hiren Gada, CEO of Shemaroo Entertainment in a recent interview with NewsX discussed the changing nature of streaming services and digital content due to the pandemic.

Due to the closure of the movie theatres during the lockdown, it’s been an almost impossible feat to try and release new movies. Luckily for us, Shemaroo has come up with a solution. They have started a kind of pay-per-view model ShermarooMe to “open the window of monetisation and release of the film”.

ShemarooMe is a one-stop destination for authentic Indian content, starting from regional movied to Bollywood movies. The platform grew out of a necessity to “unlock the film’s journey and give the audience an opportunity to see fresh content”, Mr Gada said. “It’s a transaction product where you can buy a ticket and redeem it on a movie. You can then watch the movie for a period of three days as many times as you’d like”, he added. “It gives the audience the closest possible experience of a movie theatre as you buy a ticket from BookMyShow and then watch it.”

The place where it differs is that there is no limit on the number of people who can watch the movie and it’s wildly more economic. “We saw a huge surge in home entertainment consumption and so we launched a Hindi general entertainment channel in May which was put together during the lockdown.”, he stated. He went on to commend the team’s effort and grit, even during the trying times of the pandemic. Moreover, this channel was made free-to-air so that people wouldn’t have to pay for it.

Shemaroo Entertainment also worked with more than 30 temples to stream their artis live on their channels. They made this service completely free for their audience as well. “The idea here was to incentivise the people to ‘Stay at Home and Pray at Home’ and this really resonated with our audience”

Touching upon the future of regional digital content Mr Gada said, “ The audience prefer local and regional content and there has been a surge of original regional content. It’s an indication of a change in mass consumption. However, I am positive there is no replacement of the experience that a theatre provides”, said Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment.

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YSRCP demands restoration of MPLADS, favours salary cut

Lokeswara Rao

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The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) is the fourth largest political party in India in terms of its strength in Parliament. On Friday, Parliament passed a Bill to reduce one year’s salaries of MPs by 30 percent to meet the exigencies arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with voice vote. The YSRCP fully supported the Bill but demanded the restoration of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund since it was used for the development and for the betterment of the people.

The YSRCP MPs said charity must begin at home and they wanted to set an example by sacrificing their salaries. They also said if the MPLADS fund is restored, it can be used for fighting Covid-19 in the constituencies.

Leading the party in Delhi, party’s general secretary and MP Vijay Sai Reddy said, “I support this Bill of cutting salaries but I request to restore the MPLADS fund. That is very important for the development of the constituency. Cutting across the parties, all MPs want the MPLADS to be restored. For the members who disrupt the house proceedings, their salaries should be cut in proportion, irrespective of their party. There should not be any distinction between treasury benches or opposition. Even the imposition of penalty can be considered on such members. The MPs are also with the people of India in the fight against the pandemic.”

Asking the public representatives to set an example during a pandemic, Reddy further said, “The political leaders also send a message to people with their salary cut. There is a salary cut of 20 percent. The public representatives in Singapore sacrifice one-month salary and I appreciate the private companies for higher-level salary cuts so that the junior employees get their salaries without any cut. The public representatives lead the example by their own salary cut.”

However, this didn’t stop the political turmoil as for the second consecutive day, YSRCP MPs staged protests at Gandhi statue and Vijay Chowk and demanded a CBI probe into the Amaravati land scam and the AP FibreNet scam. They raised slogans to highlight the issues.

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BJP takes on Jagan govt over ‘temple attacks’ in Andhra

Lokeswara Rao

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Politics has further heated up over a spike in attacks on places of Hindu religion in Andhra Pradesh. Slamming Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy over growing incidents of such attacks, the BJP on Friday, under the call of “Chalo Amalapuram” to save Hindu temples, staged a march which was foiled by the Andhra Police by imposing Section 144.

As a result, several BJP leaders including state unit chief Somu Veerraju were placed under house detention. Amalapuram is a big town in East Godavari where the incident of burning of the iconic chariot took place a few days ago. Several BJP workers were supposed to participate in “Chalo Amalapuram” to protest against the “torching” of the celestial chariot.

The saffron party has, however, alleged that incidents of attack on temples belonging to Hindu religion have gone up ever since the Jagan government took over the charge in Andhra Pradesh. The BJP also alleged that such happenings cannot take place without the support of the ruling party.

Senior leaders including Purandeswari and BJP vice President Vishnu Vardhan Reddy were arrested before they marched towards Amalapuram. This resulted in a political storm followed by tension in the state with BJP launching massive verbal attacks on the AP government and the ruling party YSRCP.

Earlier, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Eluru Range), K.V. Mohan Rao said, “Section 144 has been imposed across the Amalapuram Revenue Division in view of COVID19.” He said no permission has been granted to “Chalo Amalapuram” march in view of the pandemic.

Police took Vishnuvardhan Reddy into custody and put him in the police car roaming all day. Somu Veerraju lashed out at the AP government for what he called illegally filing cases against BJP leaders.

Veerraju said, “The state government has not taken the attacks on temples seriously. It files cases against devotees who go to temples. It should change its stand or we will intensify our protests. The government is provoking and threatening us.”

Amalapuram Chamber of Commerce also called for a shutdown and supported the ongoing protests against the Antarvedi incident. Most of the business establishments were shut in Amalapuram. Large number of policemen were deployed in Amalapuram and parts of East Godavari districts to prevent any untoward incidents.

BJP national spokesman and MP G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and another MP C.M. Ramesh urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the Centre’s intervention to improve law and order situation in Andhra.

Deploring the attacks on the temple, Rao said that the AP government did not act properly in these cases. Rao said, “Andhra Pradesh government is acting against Hindu activists in a revengeful manner.”

He mentioned in the letter to the Centre that 18 attacks have taken place on Hindu temples in a year.

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103-year-old Hyderabad man beats Covid-19 successfully

Lokeswara Rao

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A 103-year-old Hyderabad resident, Paruchuri Ramaswamy, has entered the ranks of the oldest survivors of Covid-19 in the country. Ramaswamy had been admitted to the Telangana institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) after contracting the infection on 27 August.

The centenarian, who has a history of anaemia, was admitted to TiMS in Gachibowli, after which he was transferred to gandhi hospital when his condition deteriorated. However, following treatment, he recovered fully and has now returned in a healthy state. Doctors at the government hospital say that they are extremely pleased with the development.

Ramaswamy was one among the 27 people at C R Foundation’s home for the aged who tested positive for the virus. 17 residents, six staff members and four helpers from the institution had been infected with Covid-19. Ramaswamy’s daughter, Jamuna, who had been staying with her father, had also tested positive for the virus. all the infected individuals showed successful recoveries except for two residents who succumbed to the disease.

Ramaswamy had not been sure if he would recover and had reportedly told his daughter, “I might not come back. Take care of yourself.” Given the high risks associated with Covid-19 for the elderly, Ramaswamy’s recovery is being compared to a miracle and has put him in the category of old people in india who have beaten the infection. With this, he has also overtaken the 94-year-old who had been the oldest Covid survivor in Telangana so far after being treated successfully at Gandhi hospital in July.

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