Nine months after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Ram Mandir in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the bhoomi pujan for the temple took place on 5 August in Ayodhya. The grand ceremony, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying down a 40 kg silver brick and performing prayers at the site, was telecast live and watched by over 160 million viewers. The construction of the temple is expected to be completed in 2023.
The United Kingdom left the European Union and entered an 11-month transition period in January 2020. The British exit—or Brexit—was a result of a 2016 referendum in which a majority of 52% decided to leave the EU. At the end of the transition period, the UK and EU have finalised a trade deal. Major changes will take effect starting 1 January 2021, including the end of the free movement of people and restrictions on British businesses trading with the EU.
The biggest game changer in 2020 was undoubtedly the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has officially spread to every continent now after cases were reported in Antarctica. As per the WHO, there have been close to 80 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 so far, including over 1.74 million deaths. Some countries including the US have started their vaccination programs. India is also set to roll-out a mass immunisation programme.
Communal riots broke out in Northeast Delhi in February in the wake of the anti-CAA protests happening in the city. More than 53 people died and 200 others were injured after warring mobs burnt down shops and houses and vandalised places of worship. The riots lasted for about a week. Delhi Police filed a chargesheet on 16 September, naming 15 people, including student leader and activist Umar Khalid, for taking part in a larger ‘conspiracy’ which led to the riots in the national capital.
The Union Cabinet approved a new National Education Policy (NEP), which is expected to bring significant changes to the school and higher education system in India upon its implementation. Some salient features of the NEP 2020 include proposals for primary education in the students’ mother tongue or local language, restructuring syllabi and exams, a push towards vocational education and teachers’ training, creating new institutions like the HECI and National Research Foundation, reintroducing the four-year undergraduate program with multiple exit options and opening up entry to foreign universities.
The contentious farm laws passed by Parliament and signed by the President in September have led to big protests on the Delhi borders. While the laws are supposedly meant to reform India’s agricultural sector by allowing farmers greater control and freedom in selling their produce, protesting farmer unions have claimed it to be a ploy to open up the market to private players and demanded a complete rollback. The main issues include a legal guarantee for MSP and a sound redressal mechanism for farmer disputes. The protests are still going on in the absence of a clear resolution.
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement gained massive momentum after a video of 46-year-old George Floyd dying in Minneapolis police custody went viral. The video which showed Floyd dying after a white police officer kneeled on his back to restrain him despite Floyd gasping for breath caused great outrage in several parts of the world and on social media. According to a survey, over 20 million people participated in public demonstrations in the US alone. The protests which began as an opposition to police violence targeting black populations have led to debates worldwide on matters of systemic racism and discrimination.
In a major win for the #MeToo movement, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty in a trial and sentenced to 23 years in jail. His fall from grace began in October 2017, after dozens of women started to come forward with allegations against him of sexual misconduct and rape. Weinstein was convicted on two counts, a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in a statement, “We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years.”
The iconic and versatileactor died at the age of 53 on 29 April after being admitted to the ICU with a colon infection. He had fought with cancer for two years before that. The actor, who made his debut with Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay, is best known for his work in films like Maqbool, Paan Singh Tomar and The Lunchbox. He was also a part of big Hollywood projects like Slumdog Millionaire, Jurassic World and Life of Pi. He is survived by his wife, Sutapa Sikdar, and two sons.
The Democratic nominee in the 2020 US presidential polls, Joe Biden, was elected as the 46th President of the United States. Biden beat Donald Trump after a dramatic counting period, at the end of hich the Democrats comfortably crossed the 270-mark for the Electoral College votes. The 78-year-old Biden is now expected to tackle the Covid-19 crisis in the US along with rising racial tensions and issues of economic disparity.
The appointment of Kamala Harris as the Vice President of the United States was a historic occasion, as she became the first Indian-American, the first Black person and the first woman to assume the post. Daughter of a Jamaican-born father and Indian immigrant mother, Harris previously served as California’s first woman of colour to be elected attorney general and San Francisco’s first female district attorney previously. Harris’ husband also made history as the first Jewish person to be the spouse of a US President or VP.
A violent clash between the Indian and Chinese forces took place on 15 June, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers. The clash happened in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh. The People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Foreign Ministry have issued statements claiming that the valley belongs to China and falls on “the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control”. India has called the claims “exaggerated and untenable”. The skirmishes began after China objected to the construction of roads by India in the Galwan Valley.
The height of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, now measures 8,848.86 metres—an increase of 0.86 metres. The revision was done and announced jointly by Nepal and China, who had not agreed on the peak’s height previously. The measurement, which is believed to be the most accurate yet, was carried out using new technology and trigonometry, and took into account the height of the snow on the summit. The earlier height had been determined by the Survey of India in 1954, a year after Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary scaled Mt Everest.
Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the seventh time in twenty years at the end of the Assembly election. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) beat the Mahagathbandhan in a neck-to-neck battle by bagging 125 out of 243 seats and winning an absolute majority in the state, even as RJD emerged as the single largest party. Political analysts have attributed NDA’s return to power in the state and BJP outperforming Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) to the charisma of Narendra Modi who led large rallies before the polls. The Bihar election was also the biggest in India since the Covid pandemic began.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games which were set to begin in July in Tokyo have been postponed due to Covid-19. The games are now expected to open on 23 July 2021. This marks the first time in the history of the famed international multi-sport event—which takes place every four years—that the games have been temporarily postponed for reasons other than war. In a meeting between International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, it was agreed that the Olympic flame would remain in Japan and the event will keep the name ‘Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020’.
Former President and Bharat Ratna awardee Pranab Mukherjee passed away at the age of 84 on 31 August. He had tested positive for Covid-19 and had been in a coma after undergoing brain surgery earlier that month. The veteran Congress leader had served as the 13th President between 2012 and 2017, besides holding the posts of Minister for Commerce, Defence, External Affairs, and Finance at various points in his long career. An outpouring of condolence messages followed news of his death, with PM Modi remembering him as “a scholar par excellence, a towering statesman”.
LGBTQ rights were recognised in more places across the globe as countries struck down oppressive and discriminatory laws against same-sex couples and queer and trans-individuals. Same-sex marriages were legalised in Costa Rica and Northern Ireland. Fostering of children by same-sex couples was legalised by Croatia’s top court, while the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that denying same-sex couples access to surrogacy is unconstitutional. Several countries, including Germany, Albania, and multiple states in Mexico and the US banned conversion therapy. Meanwhile, the President of Gabon signed a law decriminalising same-sex sexual activity and Sudan lifted the death penalty for homosexuality.
After a long battle with cancer, Bollywood star Rishi Kapoor passed away in September. The actor had spent much of the last year being treated in New York. Grandson of Prithviraj Kapoor, son of Raj Kapoor, and father of Ranbir Kapoor, Rishi began his career as a child actor in Shree 420. Kapoor was the most popular for his roles as a romantic hero. Some of his best known films include Amar Akbar Anthony, Karz and Bobby. His next project was supposed to be an adaptation of The Intern with Deepika Padukone.
SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT
In an ugly sequence of events, the tragic death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput spiralled into a complex case, which went on to involve the CBI, political parties and the Narcotics Control Bureau. His death, allegedly by suicide, first erupted into social media debates on nepotism in the film industry, before assuming greater proportions as rumours of it being a murder did the rounds. This was followed by a tussle between the Mumbai Police and Bihar Police and a parallel investigation by the Narcotics Control Bureau and Enforcement Directorate, directed particularly at Sushant’s girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty.
Citing concerns for security and privacy of Indian citizens, the Union government banned over 200 Chinese apps, including the hugely popular video-sharing platform, TikTok. The Ministry of Electronics and Technology stated that the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. The ban came weeks after the border dispute with China flared up and resulted in the violence in Galwan Valley. Other big names on the lists of banned apps included PUBG, UC Browser, WeChat and CamScanner. Several Indian alternatives to TikTok have spawned since the ban.
In a rather bizarre episode, the discovery of a metal ‘monolith’ in the Utah desert in the US garnered international attention and sparked rumours of alien visitations. Others likened it to an art installation by anonymous artists like Banksy. While the metal structure is currently in the custody of the Bureau of Land Management after much drama over it being stolen by four men, its origins still remain unknown. Interestingly, in the wake of the Utah incident, several other ‘monoliths’ have appeared across the world.
The Taal Volcano in the Philippines erupted after lying dormant for 43 years. The volcano began to spew gases, ash and lava on 12 January, following which the lush landscape was covered by grey ash. Situated in the Batangas province, which was among the most seriously affected areas, the volcano is the second-most active in the Philippines. The eruption caused widespread damage to local residents and farmers due to the volcanic debris and created a tsunami scare in the islands.
The state has been in news for all the wrong reasons, whether its political violence in the state or the wreckage caused by the super cyclone Amphan in May, causing widespread damage and flooding, especially in the low-lying Sunderbans delta. Amphan, in fact, was the first super cyclone to have formed in the Bay of Bengal since 1999 and the fourth super cyclone to hit West Bengal. The impacts of the cyclone were also felt in Odisha, Bangladesh, southern India, and Sri Lanka.
X Æ A-XII
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Canadian musician Grimes welcomed a baby boy in May and sent social media into a tizzy after they named him X Æ A-12. Pronounced “X Ash A Twelve”, the name, according to Grimes, refers to “X” as the “unknowable variable,” “Æ” as the “elven spelling” of artificial intelligence and/or love, and “A-12”, which is apparently the couple’s favourite aircraft. A later update on the musician’s Instagram informed that the name had been tweaked to X Æ A-Xii, probably to comply with the permits of their home state California.
YEMENI CIVIL WAR
Violence escalated in the ongoing civil war in Yemen, which has led to the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. To add to the hardship, 2020 brought Covid-19, a fuel crisis, torrential rains and locust infestations to the region, worsening the conditions of disease, hunger and poverty. The war, which began in 2015, has claimed the lives of about 233,000 people so far, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Children are among the worst-hit in the conflict.
As classes, work meetings, theatre and even weddings moved online during the global lockdown, videoconferencing became the norm. Despite better-known video-chat services like Skype and Google Meet, Zoom emerged as the top competitor in 2020. Its ease of access, room for more participants and customised backgrounds made it an almost ‘overnight success’. By April, Zoom’s daily participants had shot to 300 million.
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FORMER PM MANMOHAN SINGH DOING BETTER THAN YESTERDAY: CONG
Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha on Friday said that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is doing fine and is better than yesterday. Taking to Twitter, Jha urged all to respect the privacy of the former Prime Minister. “This is to inform that Dr Manmohan Singh ji is doing fine. He is better than yesterday. Let’s all wish him a speedy recovery. Any unfounded speculation is unnecessary and in bad taste. Also, request all to respect the Former PM’s privacy. Thank you! #HappyDussehra2021,” tweeted the Congress spokesperson.
Earlier, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), informed that Singh is stable and recovering.
Dr Singh, who was admitted to AIIMS on Wednesday, is under the observation of doctors. The eighty-nine-year-old Congress leader had complained of weakness and is stable and under the observation of doctors, hospital sources said.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya visited the hospital to meet him.
HERE RESOLUTION WAS TAKEN THAT NO ONE CAN KEEP INDIA AS SLAVE: SHAH VISITS CELLULAR
During his visit to the iconic Cellular Jail in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands where Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was imprisoned, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday lauded the valour of Veer Savarkar as a ‘freedom fighter’ and said this was the place where a resolution was taken that “no one can keep Mother India as a slave”. The union minister also extended his greetings on the occasion of Dussehra. Speaking at the iconic Cellular Jail in Port Blair, Shah said, “Today is Vijayadashami. We celebrate the day of Vijayadashami as a symbol of the victory of good over evil all over India. This pilgrimage site of freedom is also a symbol of the victory of good over evil, it was here that a resolution was taken that no one can keep Mother India as a slave.”
“Savarkar turned Cellular Jail into a ‘teerthsthan’ (shrine). He gave message to world that you may mete out as much torture as you want but can’t block his rights- ‘making my country independent is my birthright’, Savarkar accomplished this here,” said Shah.
He further said, “Today, I paid tributes to the respected, well-known freedom fighter of India, Veer Savarkar ji. It gave me a sense of pride as I visited this place. Under his preachings, guidance, the Modi government has completed seven years in power and our governance model is appreciated across the world.”
“Today for the second time I have got a chance to visit the ‘teerthsthan’ (shrine) of freedom fighters.”
Om Birla dials JEE Advance topper, congratulates him on his success
Lok Sabha Speaker and Member of Parliament from Kota, Om Birla on Friday dialled the IIT Advanced topper, Mridul Agarwal and congratulated him on his success, according to the Office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Mridul hails from Jaipur and had prepared for the examination from a coaching institute of Kota.
Taking to Twitter, the LS Speaker said, “Congratulations Mridul Agrawal, son of Rajasthan on securing the first rank in the IIT-JEE (Adv) exam. This success is the result of his tireless hard work, prayers of parents and dedication of teachers. With this result, the coaching institutes of Kota Parliamentary Constituency once again proved their superiority, congratulations!”
Interacting with the JEE topper, Birla asked him about his future plans, to which Agrawal revealed that he aspires to do BTech from IIT Mumbai and wants to be a participant in the “Navanirman” of India.
The topper also said that he wants to study abroad and return to India to develop the technology sector of the country.
Earlier, the National Testing Agency (NTA) announced results where Mridul of IIT Delhi scored top rank by obtaining 348 marks out of 360 while Kavya Chopra of IIT Delhi zone has topped in the female category with a common rank list (CRL) 98. She obtained 286 marks out of 360.
The NTA released the JEE results on the official website. A total number of 1,41,699 candidates appeared in both papers 1 and 2 in JEE (Advanced) 2021 and 41,862 candidates qualified JEE (Advanced) 2021.
In an effort to support the student community, the National Testing Agency (NTA) had organised the JEE (Main) 2021 in four sessions.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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