21ST CENTURY CHINA: GROWING POWER OF THE GROWLING DRAGON - The Daily Guardian
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21ST CENTURY CHINA: GROWING POWER OF THE GROWLING DRAGON

Vinai Saxena

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President Xi Jinping’s China is displaying superpower ambitions. China is determined to secure that position – beg, borrow, steal, coerce or kill. And one very clever and completely conceited programme is establishing China Standards 2035. In a world of high technology, every newer invention or application needs to be set into an international standard, with which the manufacturing of components and processes need to be matched. This area is still emerging and China is dominating every activity of developing a global standard. The Chinese vision is to establish around the world ‘China Standards 2035’, thereby the entire production process of technology applications will be governed by Chinese dictats. And the patents and intellectual rights will be garnered and state-owned by China, thereby controlling the world of technology on the planet to the last inch.  

CHINESE FOOTPRINTS IN UN AND INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY 

China’s membership at the five-member Security Council is a historic fortune that China has used extremely well. Not just that, through CIDCO, hegemonistic power display, behind curtain diplomacy and gradual occupation of almost every trade, technology, the economic and political arena in the world, China has commanded enough influence already to polarise global diplomacy towards its gain. It has taken over several international organisations, including the prize catch of the United Nations. When China curtailed political freedoms in Hong Kong last year, two rival declarations circulated at the UN Human Rights Council. One, drafted by Cuba and commending Beijing’s move, won the backing of 53 nations. Another, issued by the U.K. expressing concern, secured just 27 supporters. That demonstrated Chinese power at the UN. Last summer, China won a seat on UN Human Rights Panel with help from countries it has supported. In the thick of the Pandemic last year, Trump’s USA left WHO. That became a strategic gift in disguise to China and it filled the vacuum created at WHO. US left UNESCO on the issue of Palestine and China rushed to fill in the gap created. Out of 15 specialised UN agencies, China already leads four including International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). After taking over the leadership of ITU, China patronised the fight of Huawei Technologies with the USA and has now pushed forward a case for establishing a new internet protocol that allows more surveillance and censorship. No other nation in the world heads more than one UN agency, while China heads four. With its growing power and grip over nations, China has risen to a power pedestal of warning nations to tow its line. Recently, it threatened Bangladesh with dire consequences if it joined the Quad consisting of the USA, Japan, Australia and India.  

CHINA TAKES OVER MINES ACROSS THE WORLD

One of the major resources on which the human race subsists and sustains is mineral wealth. Mineral deposits are a strategic instrument of trade and development. By the end of 2018, China had already taken over vital mines in over 36 countries of the world for all kinds of mineral extraction including gold, uranium and lithium, which are strategic in commerce, military power and technology. China invests anywhere between 15 to 25 billion US$ annually on mine acquisition around the world.

DRAGON SPIT IS AN INVISIBLE VOLCANO

While all above are seemingly legitimate colonisation of the world, so that China can realise its ambitious plan of becoming the world’s greatest and undisputed power by 2049, China does not leave any stone unturned in destroying the progress of nations that look like hurdles in its path to progress. China has been brazenly involved in and suspected to be involved in several global extremities and disastrous events that undermine the progress of nations and paves way for Chinese hegemonistic ambitions.  

THE MOST FAMOUS PANDEMIC IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND 

It is already well established that the Covid-19 virus was manufactured in a laboratory in China and was let loose on the world, wherein over a year now, more than 3.3 million people have lost lives and a much larger number of families have descended into untold misery. If we look at the list of death by countries, we will see that over half a million died in the USA, the biggest trade and military rival of China. Brazil and India, which are the two major members of the BRIC countries that together could make a formidable power of challenge to China have collectively recorded over another half a million deaths. Western European countries that are allies of the USA and are power partners in the UN, NATO and dominate the world of commerce and military under the patronaging partnership of the USA, have collectively seen another half a million deaths. A laboratory manufactured agent of death has been unleashed into countries that are the major threat and hurdle in the marathon 100 year run of China to reach the coveted podium as the world’s largest superpower. In about a year, not just death, the health and hygiene framework and the economic fabric of these countries have been damaged to such an extent that the recovery could take years. On top of that, these nations, mostly democratic, have now acquired people’s ire due to unquantifiable suffering, and very stable political governance systems have been shaken to the core. This kind of warfare has never been witnessed before in human history.

From the same list of countries, one may observe that countries in the neighbourhood of these strategic nations have not been so much affected by the Chinese virus at all. Is it a coincidence or a conspiracy that nations like Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, most of which have societies that are closely linked to India’s in trade, cultural exchange, familial relations, and interaction through our perforated border do not have the viral infection anywhere near to the proportion in India? Is it a coincidence or conspiracy that a similar disparity in the viral spread happens across Europe and only NATO countries get severely affected and not the eastern nations on that continent? Why and how is that a Chinese virus affects only countries that may have a capacity to successfully control the hegemonistic ambitions and not the countries that secure aid and assistance from China and remain subservient to the growing power of the dragon? This is only possible with the help of a laboratory-generated virus and not through an organism spun out of organic evolution. For this very reason, India should never accept the vaccine, medicines or any material of mass consumption originating from China, because we could just become sitting ducks for a conspiracy that is deep and wide and is brought out through a careful fusion of science, technology and hegemonistic strategy.

SUSPICION OF THE DRAGON FOOTPRINT

We are living in times when completely unthinkable and what we thought impossible have begun to happen. This month, a rocket launched by China fell back into sea and space agencies have wondered what might have fallen from it into the Indian Ocean. We all remember not many years ago, across the world, unsolicited packets of seeds arrived at people’s doors from China and agriculture experts warned people not to sow them, for they might be seeds that will destroy the native species and obliterate our food security. Australia is in the eye of the storm of the dragon because of its developmental position in the southeast and scientists wonder if there is any Chinese connection to the devastating wildfire of last year that burned for weeks on end. For scientists, the devastating glacier burst in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, which lies in Chinese proximity, is also an unusual and rare occurrence in the peak winter months when the Himalayan glaciers remain in the deep-frozen state. Technology companies in Silicon Valley are increasingly being established and led by people of Chinese origin, which might help China in global surveillance and information collection. Zoom, the video conferencing facility, has been blamed on that count and nations have suspected that information from secretive and strategic video conferences may have already reached Chinese information archives.

FIRE OF THE DRAGON AND THE WITHERING SUSTAINABILITY OF INDIA

A recent publication of NITI Aayog has elaborately traced the character of India’s rural economy and put into perspective the importance of rural sustainability of the nation. Although India is in a transitionary state of economic resurgence, 68.8% of the nation’s population and 72.4 % of the nation’s workforce are from rural areas. Nearly half of India’s National Domestic Product (NDP) is still rural. While 96% of agricultural employment is rural, 48.6% of non-agricultural employment too is rural. Because of this, the sustainable development of India depends predominantly on rural industriousness, productivity, dynamics and livelihood quality. The efforts of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) are intricately linked to this horizon of rural sustainable development of India through nearly 100 different kinds of rural industrial entrepreneurship and handholding activities. KVIC has been sustaining a major part of village industries in India through over 40 Offices spread across the nation, around 5,000 aligned institutions, 23 Departmental Sales Outlets and around 8035 Khadi sales outlets /Khadi Bhavans run by Khadi Institutions. The direct beneficiaries organised through this mechanism exceed 15 million people, while indirect beneficiaries run into several additional millions. If you put together the direct, indirect associated and familial beneficiaries of this carefully hand raised and sustained sector, it could well over be a billion people in the lifeline of village industries sustainable development programmes.  

China understands the socio-economic and socio-political power of this community and its influence on the mainstream life of our nation. And it engages itself in a calculated and consistent manner in which this delicate balance could be obliterated so that the nation can be hollowed from within.

In taking some examples of this phenomenon, the Agarbatti (Incense stick) industry stands out. Out of the half a million metric ton agarbatti requirement and production in India annually, over 80% raw material came from China and Vietnam. 

Even the national flag of India that is only made with Khadi cotton or silk fabric was not spared by the Chinese invasion. Counterfeit national flags made of plastic and other artificial material from China flooded Indian markets forcing the current government to place the National Flag under the prohibited category of import in October 2019.  

Similarly, the traditional Indian Silk Industry, the heritage art of clay pottery, handmade paper, leather industry were driven to the verge of extinction. Imagine, the idols of Indian deities were made in China and worshipped in Indian households. Toys, honey, minerals, and dozens of other natural resources based village industries have been rendered unproductive due to Chinese economic aggression of pushing through our market a subsidised and quality compromised product till recently until the present government made corrections by imposing higher import duty and import restrictions on such Chinese products. It will, however, take years for the Indian village industries to recuperate from the Chinese intrusion and be self-reliant in all respects.  

One can imagine the invasion of the dragon. The fire is not in the borders that guard the nation. The fire is burning the nation to its core and is devouring the integrity, national character and our very ways of existence. And we have unconsciously allowed that.

AN ATTACK OF SOCIO-CULTURAL CHARACTER & HERITAGE

Besides trade, a number of these developments are an attack on the socio-cultural character and heritage. Offering silk Angavastram (stole) to guests in North-Eastern states and Leh Laddakh is an old tradition. Making Angavastram in these states was part of the village industry which was providing jobs to thousands of local artisans, mostly women. China has captured this heritage art too by flooding cheap artificial silk stoles. Not just here alone, the heritage headgear Keffiyeh of Babylonian/Mesopotamian origin Palestine which the Arab civilisation guarded as its heritage symbol is now made in China and Keffiyeh factories have systematically closed shop in the Arab world. Travel anywhere in the world and buy a memento or a curio of memorabilia of your visit to the Statue of Liberty or Fountain of Trevi or Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal or Burj Khalifa, the probability is that it is made in China and the enchanting global diversity is engulfed by the dragon fire of hegemonistic monopoly.

A DRAGON THAT IS ENORMOUSLY INTELLIGENT AND EQUALLY EVIL

If a nation has to survive and protect itself into the future from the aggressive invasion of China through seen and unseen belly fire of the dragon, it has to think of all scenarios that until now may never have been imagined. Can some seeds destroy our crop, biodiversity and food security? Can something dropped from the air can contaminate our rains and water bodies and multiply there to cover us in risk over time? Can some material that arrives from China remain dormant for a while and gradually uncoil like a serpent and slither around in effect? Can a vaccine imported from China have an ingredient that could bring out a larger demon into our lungs or heart than the coronavirus? I know we are thinking of the evil, but as the old adage goes, forewarned is forearmed.  

The dragon is an embodiment of determination and mind application. If a lab-made virus can be selectively unleashed to destroy the potential competitors in progress, there is a devilish finesse in the application of scientific imagination. It should not be beyond imagination now to believe that the dragon could use the elements of nature to its advantage. The jet streams in the air, the ocean currents, tectonic dynamics, raging forces of climate change, monsoon system or El Nino – nothing is beyond a determined dragon. This may sound being paranoid. A non-democratic and stable autocracy of a bunch of leaders that believe in ruthless communism powers the engine of action. And the dragon is never short of belly fire. Therefore, the future is uncertain. The dragon that hovers over us from the sky spewing fire in every breath uses methods that are visible, invisible, and unpredictable. 

The dragon is ruthless and uncompassionate. It has one singular purpose in its mind, which is to acquire the crown of world emperorship by 2049, no matter what it takes. Its power is so unchallenged and determination so unwavering that we do not know if the air that we breathe and the rains that fall from the sky are as pure and natural as they have been before.  

India as a nation needs to remain integrated, united and resolute in thwarting the advance of the dragon. Because the dragon sleeps at a breathing distance from us. And we are perceived to be a potential power that can slay the dragon. We need a vision that will not be blinded by fire or darkness. 

The writer is Chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Government of India, New Delhi.

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I BROUGHT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF FITNESS CULTURE: DR MICKEY MEHTA

In an exclusive interview with NewsX India A-List, Dr Mickey Mehta spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching, and much more.

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Dr Mickey Mehta, Author & Health Guru, recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive interview, the author spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching and much more.

Speaking about his journey till now, he said “Many years back, I would say, when I actually started in the industry, as a career, that was the year 1980, so 1980-81. That was the time that coaches and fitness trainers had no respect, and there was not any formal training or qualifications available. People would say, ‘Kya karega jake, kya uthayega?’. I would say people had very scant respect for fitness trainers and they were called bodybuilders. We were put in the category of pehlwan, pehawani. I brought the whole concept of this culture—fitness culture, wellness culture, physical culture, and culturing the body. While you culture the body, culturing of the mind comes along. It translates into culturing your emotions, your psychology, and your spirit as well. So, anything to do with exercise, anything to do with training your body, shaping your body, culturing the body, translates into awareness because you become aware of more physical parts moving. You become aware of better by-product of circulation because if you circulate well, you don’t know how many liters of blood you have pumped inside because there is a feel-good factor.”

“It is about awareness that you have heart and you have lungs. Your heart beats for good things, for creativity, for sympathy, compassion and glow. When you do a lot of exercises, vanity comes to form because there is a glow because you are circulating. There is oxygen, so radiance, vibrance, so these are the by-products of fitness and physical culture. Mindlessness is not a negative connotation here. Mindlessness is when your mind is not you are and when the mind is, you are not, so you as a spirit are absent in the presence of mind and when you as a spirit are completely present in duality, the mind is absent. Mind is a negative phenomenon because the mind only lives and comes alive, either in the past or in the future. The mind is always wandering in the past. So, fears of the past keep haunting you, the anxiety of the future keeps you occupied,” he added

When asked about the plethora of people he has trained in the past and his experience of the same, he responded, “I think I had a short time of month and a half with Aamir Khan. While he was shooting for ‘Talaash’ and was also preparing for ‘Dhoom 3’. That short span with him was very interesting. My training with Lara Dutta also was very interesting. My training with Yukta Mukhi was very meaningful. With Priyanka Chopra, she was only 15 when I touched her, so not have memories with her but I am extremely proud of who she is today. They are the people who are very desiring and these are the people who are sincere as well. They were very disciplined. I remember Aamir used to call me at 3 AM in the night. The very first day, it was a 5:35 reporting and I thought that I would go there and he would then wake up. To my surprise, he was already up and about. These are very focused people, which is why they are successful, which is why they are leaders.”

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Mental health is not just about anxiety and stress: Divija Bhasin, mental health therapist

Mental & Emotional Health Therapist Divija Bhasin opened up to NewsX Influencer A-List about being a therapist in the digital age and responsibilities that come with being an influencer.

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Divija Bhasin, Mental & Emotional Health Therapist, recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special series NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive interview, Divija opened up about being a mental and emotional health therapist in the digital age.

Talking about the kind of content she puts out on the Internet, Divija shared, “I make all kinds of things. I don’t just put out psychology or mental health stuff. I put that stuff along with other random or relatable funny stuff, even things that are indirectly related to mental health. Mental health is not just anxiety and stress, it is way more than that. It is also about our family systems and our education and even abuse. I try to make it a little simpler, relatable, and put it out there based on trends. It is like entertainment and education together. “

When asked did therapy come into her life first or being an influencer come first, she responded, “I have always wanted to be a therapist. I have been studying psychology since class 11th. I started out on TikTok last year. I used to make random videos on TikTok, sometimes psychology-related videos. I was just doing it for fun because of the lockdown but then I started gaining a lot of followers. I was like I like it and I am not that bad at it. After it got banned, I switched to Instagram and that’s when I started putting out more serious stuff. I realised that the audience on Instagram likes that and they also appreciate it more. I tried it on TikTok but it didn’t work out that well. Here, my audience likes both. That’s why I put both. I became a therapist after I started making videos not because I wasn’t going to be but because I am still doing my second master’s. While making these videos, I started working with another clinical psychologist. Under her guidance, I took sessions and now since I have some experience, I do private practice.”

When prodded further if these two worlds collide, she added, “Not particularly. It feels like my audience and clients are able to differentiate. They don’t try to talk to me and I make my boundaries clear. In the first session, I send them a formal email, stating that I will not be able to interact with you outside the session, just to maintain boundaries. They all respect that. I haven’t had experiences where my clients would try to become friends with me or something like that on social media. They follow me and like my videos but that’s it.”

Speaking about responsibilities that come with being an influencer, considering the fact that with being a mental health professional, the responsibility is twofold, Divija expressed, “I do have to be extra careful compared to other influencers because I feel like people are looking up to me to give the right information. Every time I put out anything serious, I make sure to read a lot about it, including research papers, not just random things on the Internet, so that it is properly verified and also in case someone questions me and thinks that I am just giving my opinion.”

Mental health is not just anxiety and stress, it is way more than that. It is also about our family systems and our education and even abuse. I try to make it a little simpler, relatable, and put it out there based on trends. It is like entertainment and education together.

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HAPPY POTTER

NAMRATA KUMAR

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The colour green is deemed to be therapeutic and soothing to the eyes. A person with a green thumb is someone who looks after their plants with a passion. Researchers recommend consuming green vegetables and to spend time in green environments whenever one can.

Nurturing plants and even crooning to them is believed to accelerate their growth. It is an opportunity for budding singers to practice their vocal cords for audiences or lack thereof. Humour aside, spending time with our green friends is cheaper than therapy.

People addicted to wanderlust in the current Covid-19 scenario have limited turf to wander on. With the work-from-home culture, many want to create inspiring and cosy nooks to work in while the wanderlust seekers take it a notch up by setting up a tropical vibe at home.

One can go to town making different and imaginative arrangements with plants and pots. As a result of which India-made garden accessories are en vogue.

The pandemic has brought many close(r) to mother nature. The lessons mothers teach us the hard way!

Zoom into the Tier one cities, The Humans of Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore also have different motives in keeping plants in close proximity to them. These cities with Air Quality Indexes that make one cringe have people stressing over not having clean air.

There is a gamut of indoor plants that can diminish pollutants from the air. There is no limit to how creatively these things of joy can be placed. A few popular plants are Areca Palm, Snake Plant, Aloe Vera plant, Spider plant, and Money plant. Plants lend a feel-good vibe to an abode cutting down on toxins in the air rendering them the most cost-effective air purifiers.

Areca palms make aesthetic plants that need moist soil and some sunlight indoors.

Snake plants are the least demanding ones requiring water once a month.

Aloe Vera is a multi-utility plant. Not only does it alleviate the impurities in the air but the gel found inside the plant has therapeutic properties. It maintains its stature without a constant supply of H-2-O.

A home decor aficionado’s dream plant: the Money plant. This decorative plant is easy to look after with a few sprays of water once a week. It winds around the shape of what adjoins it (only if that happened with real money).

There is an array of made-in-India pots to choose from. They are made from myriad materials such as terracotta, brass, glazed ceramic and handmade crochet.

A playful homegrown brand, The Wishing Chair (inset) doles out some charming little hand-painted pots. These bump up the cuteness quotient of any corner. Glazed pot with floral and chevron motifs is their signature style.

For a formal look, plant takers can head over to Mora Taara for their gold-finish and textured planters. Whether you are placing your stack on your workstation or on the floor of a living room these gilded numbers add a luxe feel.

Elementary, a Jaipur brand has a variety of earthy pots. These are minimalist with their geometric lines and are available with subtle tones. They are great extensions to a contemporary style.

The June Shop, a quirky Kolkata-based shop has some game-changing planters too. Their hanging crochet planters are truly special. These babies are suitable for any space ranging from a cosy family room to a covered outdoor patio.

Whatever the time, it is always ripe to nurture what is natural. Plant some seeds of time to potter around. It is sure to do you good. Happy Pottering!

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I TRIED TO CREATE A CONVERSATION AROUND SEXUALITY: LEEZA MANGALDAS

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, Leeza Mangaldas opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media, and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

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Leeza Mangaldas, Sex Positive Content Creator recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Leeza opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

When asked about the content that she is creating on Instagram, Leeza said, “I tried to create a conversation around sexuality, sexual health, gender, the body, identity. My hope is that this can help normalise these conversations because sex remains so stigmatised for discussion. Most young people don’t receive information. It is a normal part of life. It’s something we deserve, that is, accurate judgement about sex. The fact that most people have a smartphone now, the internet allows us to access the stuff from the comfort of our homes and privacy from our headphones and phone. It’s really lensed. I also think that young people use social media so much, people don’t put their phones down. They take it even in the bathroom. So, if you want to connect to young people, social media seems like a great way to do it, but it’s so important to me to have the conversation. A typical attitude to sex education is like let’s teach people how not to have negative experiences. ‘Ok, so it’s very don’t do this, don’t do that, and kind of fear-based approach. If you have sex, you will get pregnant. If you have sex, you will get an STD. Oh, it’s really bad that if you have sex, you will be punished as if you have done something wrong or evil,’ This kind of messaging is there. Any official messaging intended is laced with judgement and punishment. All of this type of language, absence base, fear-based or even when it is well-meaning it’s like not to get an STD or not to get pregnant. Nobody is focusing on pleasure. Nobody knows how we can have the best experience, it’s just talking about how we cannot have a bad experience. I wanted that shift where we talk about sex and its normal, important and wonderful thing, rather than a scary bad thing.”

Talking about the topics she has been addressing via her videos, she said, “I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image. Like questions around penis size, questions around boobs size, questions around why is the skin of the vagina is darker than the rest of the body or lots of questions around first sexual experience. I have created a lot of content types trying to provide help with full information on what you should know before you have sex. Consent is a subject that is important to me, talking also about stuff like arousals, desires, and being in contact with your own body and pleasure and understanding that you can communicate better because I think communication is central to sexual experiences.”

Speaking about where she draws a line between helping younger people to get relevant information about sex and drawing a line with what is the legal age to have sex, she said, “The age of consent varies from country to country and changed over time and it’s a really tricky area without easy answers in terms of age of consent of what is legal to begin having sex. In India, it is 18 but there was a time when it was something around 12 here. Child marriage is a part of how things operated in your grandparents’ generations. In other countries, it’s 16 and in some countries, it’s still even younger than that. So, how old is appropriate or not appropriate 16, 17, 18, 20. This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer and it’s not up to me to decide. I’m also a citizen abiding by the laws, so of course, I maintain the age of consent. In India, it is 18 but I think the information, the education is something that has to start earlier and have to start when the child is learning the first word or when he learns the body parts. For example, you are teaching him this is your eyes, your nose, you are teaching them the words to think and why is it that we never teach them the correct names of the vagina, instead we say some other name like shame shame. You’re getting it, in such an age, this is shameful. So, of course, you should be appropriate but not for a one-time conversation, which you have with a young person. These are opportunities to normalise education around sexuality, body, sexual health, all through childhood because it’s usually the age 6 or seven somebody will ask mom, where do babies come from how would I get here or if you are expecting another sibling like how would it get in your stomach? Are you going to tell them that a bird dropped it or you found it in the dustbin? Why lie to the child? After there are picture books that simplify an explanation or consumptions and pregnancy, seeing things. When your adult teaches a child to get on her first periods, don’t you think they owe an explanation?”

I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image.

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Huge social media following comes with a certain responsibility: Rasika Shekar

Singer and Flautist Rasika Shekar, in an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, speaks about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media.

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Rasika Shekar, Singer and Flautist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the candid chat, Rasika opened up about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media. Read excerpts:

Speaking about her journey, Rasika shared, “My flute journey started when I was 13. I started learning Carnatic classical music, then I came down to India to study Hindustani music. I was born in Dubai, grew up in the US, so music brought me to India. I have been exploring a lot more genres when I’ve been living here. I have been lucky to work on some Bollywood films, working on a couple of background scores. I have also sung for a couple of movies, as a playback singer and it has been extremely exciting. I am very fortunate that I am able to do so.”

Revealing that one song that she liked the most and has stayed with her, Rasika said, “I would say, the second song called Hulla Re, from a movie called ‘2 States’. I loved doing that song because it is a very upbeat, fun song and I got to do it with Shankar ji and Siddharth Mahadevan. It was super fun. I also got to sing the part that was in Tamil, which is my mother tongue, so it was a brilliant experience.”

Talking about her huge following on social media and the responsibility that comes with it, she stated, “I feel very fortunate to have that because we are able to interact with people that are from so many different parts of the world, so many different parts of the country. Technology enables us to do that, which probably I never expected or anticipated to be able to. I think that comes with a certain responsibility, at least I like to see it that way because it pushes me to be able to learn more and make sure that I am putting out quality work and I love that part. At the same time, because I am connecting with a very different audience, I feel like it pushes my musical boundaries and ideas as well. It is a really nice give and takes kind of a scenario, so it is very encouraging and I love it.”

When asked what she considers as her main responsibility when you say that you feel responsible for the people that are looking up to you, she responded, “At the fundamental, I would say that for me, it is to put out the most honest music. That’s my first thing. If I look at something like promoting it, it would be a different thing. If the promotion happens as the side effect of what I do, that’s great. When I am putting out music, I make sure that it is the most honest music that I put out. Secondly, I am always making sure that I am continuously learning and evolving as a musician so that I can create something different. Every time I can create something that is of top quality, to the best of my ability and at the same time, I am able to interact and collaborate with different musicians so that we can bring people something new, something fresh. To top it all off, at the end of the day, if I can bring a smile to someone’s face through my music, I consider myself really blessed.”

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I WANT TO SEE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF INDIANS SELF-EMPLOYED: VEERANDER CHOWDARY

Digital marketer and an entrepreneur Veerander Chowdary spoke to NewsX India A-List about how the Covid-19 pandemic made him feel the need for educating people about self-employment so that they can ride the waves of such uncertain times with ease.

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Veerander Chowdary is a skilful digital marketer and an entrepreneur. But now, he has set on a mission to train people and make them self-dependent for employment. We hosted Veerander for our series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Describing his journey, Veerander said, “When we come to our journey, it’s quite interesting. So I’ll tell you why we started this. Before the first lockdown, there were so many people who were working, but after the lockdown, 7.3 million jobs vanished and people were in a situation where they couldn’t even fulfil their basic needs. That’s where I recognised why I can train people on how to become self-employed.” This led Veerander to start his own training course ‘BBA Mastery’. Chowdary claims that the course has trained 5,500 people so far and 40% of his trainees have succeeded in building self-employment opportunities for themselves. The digital marketer also said, “I have seen many digital marketing institutes, across India, which charge to the range of ₹75k to ₹1L.” He further added, “People from various backgrounds are investing in them and coming out without any practical knowledge. So that’s where I recognised why there is no need to spend such amounts on digital marketing courses when one can get the knowledge, for free, on YouTube.”

We asked Veerander what he feels sets his brand apart from his competitors, to which he replied, “Online course completion rate is very less because people don’t show any interest in completing the course. My competitors are training people using pre-recorded classes, but I give my students live classes every Saturday.” Veerander told us that he has spent the last 68 Saturdays giving live classes to his students. Moreover, he said that his course comes with lifetime access and at a reasonable price of ₹5,000, which he says makes his course stand out from what his competitors have to offer.

Speaking about the challenges in this endeavour, Veerander said, “The biggest challenge that I’m facing is the low course completion percentage. Out of 100 people registered for my course, only 20-25 people complete it.” He said his focus right now is on improving the overall content and adding value to the course so that more trainees complete it.

Our next question to Veerander was about the achievements in his mentoring journey. “Till now, I have a community of 2,76,000 students who are currently enrolled in my individual courses, out of which, 5,500 students are the paid students,” said Veerander. He continued, “When it comes to how many people manage to become self-employed, as I said, 5,500 people are learning through the courses and 40% of them are successful entrepreneurs right now where they are earning a minimum of ₹1L per month.”

For our final question, we asked Veerendar about his plans for the future. “I want to see a maximum number of Indians self-employed. Recently, we started our own edtech startup called Self Employment. We have launched the Android and iOS versions, as well, to give more learning flexibility to our students,” was his answer. Veerander concluded the response by expressing his desire to train at least 1 lakh people and make them self-dependent for employment.

Before finishing the interview, Veerander shared a few words of wisdom for the youth of the country and said, “Think creatively. Whatever field you are in right now, you need to stand out and you need to be creative. If you are the same as everyone, you will not get any recognition.” He also appealed to the youngsters to be of value to the people around them.

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