Even as India reported fewer than 30,000 daily Covid-19 cases for the first time in 132 days, a new study published in The Lancet has rekindled apprehensions over the efficacy of Covid vaccines. According to the study, the total antibody levels start to wane six weeks after complete immunisation with Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, and can reduce by more than 50% over 10 weeks.
The researchers from the University College London (UCL) in the UK noted that if the antibody levels carry on dropping at this rate, there are concerns that the protective effects of the vaccines may also begin to wear off, particularly against new variants. However, they said, how soon that might happen cannot be predicted yet.
Antibody levels are substantially higher following two doses of the Pfizer vaccine than after two shots of the AstraZeneca preventive, known as Covishield in India, the UCL Virus Watch study added. Interestingly, antibody levels were also much higher in vaccinated people than those with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. The findings based on data from over 600 people aged 18 and above were consistent across all groups of people regardless of age, chronic illnesses or sex, according to the researchers.
The authors highlight that although the clinical implications of waning antibody levels are not yet clear, some decline was expected and current research shows that vaccines remain effective against severe health complications. The researchers underlined that different people will have different levels of immunity depending on the virus neutralising ability of their antibodies as well as their T-cell responses.
Meanwhile, for the first time in 132 days, India reported fewer than 30,000 daily cases. As per the data shared by the Union Health Ministry, 29,689 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours while the death toll climbed to 4,21,382 with 415 daily fatalities. The latest dip in new cases took India›s active caseload less than 4,00,000 after 124 days, which now is at 3,98,100.
Active cases constitute 1.27% of total cases. The Weekly Positivity Rate remains below 5%, currently at 2.33%, while the daily positivity rate at 1.73%, remains below 5%, the data further read. As per the data, India’s Cumulative Covid Vaccination Coverage surpassed 44.58 crore (44,58,39,699), as per the 7 pm provisional report on Tuesday. More than 36.87 lakh (36,87,239) vaccine doses were administered yesterday.
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Everything X everywhere: The new BMW X3 launched in India
The new BMW X3 has been launched in India today. The successful Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), BMW X3 is now sportier and more modern with its comprehensive refreshed look, premium interior with new equipment features and updated infotainment.
Available in locally produced two petrol variants, the new BMW X3 is now available at BMW dealerships from today onwards. The diesel variant will be launched later. Vikram Pawah, President, BMW Group India said, “The new evolved third generation BMW X3 is here to continue the model’s trailblazing success in the premium mid-size SAV segment. Refreshed design and driving performance make BMW X3 a luxurious and practical car that is agile on and off-road. You will experience the unbeatable thrill and joy of a distinctive combination of powerful drive, sporty dynamics and comfort. With its independence and individuality, the new X3 packs in unlimited action and is meant for everything x everywhere.”
The new BMW X3 is available in two petrol variants at an attractive introductory price (ex-showroom) as follows-
BMW X3 xDrive30i SportX Plus : INR 59,90,000
BMW X3 xDrive30i M Sport : INR 65,90,000
*Price prevailing at the time of invoicing will be applicable. Ex-showroom prices inclusive of GST (incl. compensation cess) as applicable but excludes Road Tax, Tax Collected at Source (TCS), RTO statutory taxes/fees, other local tax cess levies and insurance. Price and options are subject to change without prior notice.
For further information, please contact the local authorised BMW Dealer. The new BMW X3 is available in the following metallic paintworks: Mineral White, Phytonic Blue, Brooklyn Grey, Sophisto Grey, Black Sapphire and Carbon Black. The new BMW X3 features Sensatec Perforated Upholstery as standard with the following combinations – Canberra Beige and Cognac.
The new BMW X3 emphasis on classic X-elements as standard. It has a more modern look with a more powerful presence, plenty of space and driving dynamics. SportX Plus variant ensures a greater focus on sportiness and “X-ness”. The M Sport variant is enriched with high quality X elements.
BMW Service Inclusive and BMW Service Inclusive Plus are optionally available with the BMW X3. These service packages cover Condition Based Service (CBS) and maintenance work with a choice of plans from 3 yrs. / 40,000 kms to 10 yrs. / 2,00,000 kms and start at an attractive pricing of INR 1.53 per km.
The BMW X3 also comes with optional BMW Repair Inclusive that extends warranty benefits from third year of operation to maximum sixth year, after the completion of the standard two-year warranty period. Together, these packages provide complete peace of mind and freedom to enjoy unlimited driving pleasure.
BMW India Financial Services offers an attractive BMW 360@ financial plan with ‘drive away monthly price’ of INR 79,999/-, assured buyback of up to 60% and flexible end of term options. Customized financial solutions can be further designed as per individual requirements.
The new BMW X3.
The design of the new BMW X3 makes a sportier orientation. With the redesigned BMW kidney grille, flatter headlights and the new front apron, the new BMW X3 flaunts a refreshed design appearance. More strikingly shaped and larger BMW kidney grille now comprising of a single-piece frame.
The front feature adaptive LED headlights with Matrix function. A black border gives the full LED rear lights a more precise appearance, while the narrower light graphic now includes a three-dimensionally modelled pincer contour and horizontal turn signals integrated in filigree style.
The new, flush-fitting free-form tailpipe trims are larger and sportier, conveying a more powerful presence. In the M Sport package, front apron features larger air inlets finished in high-gloss black and air curtains. The sportier rear bumper includes a diffuser finished in Dark Shadow. The M Sport trim includes the new 19-inch Y-Spoke 887M alloy wheels. However, 20-inch M alloy wheels are also available as an early bird offer.
The interior boasts an exceptional level of comfort and functionality in an extremely modern ambience. Exclusive functions such as Multi-function Sport Steering Wheel, electrical seat adjustment with memory function, exterior mirror package add to the comfort. Driver and front passenger enjoy the superior sporty flair of a premium SAV. M Sport has an exclusive set interior package like Sport seats, Sensatec perforated upholstery, M leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons, M interior trim adding the performance-oriented ambience. Panoramic glass roof and Welcome Light Carpet are few among the long list of features that create the perfect ambience.
New electroplated trim elements on the air vents add a touch of elegance while emphasising the horizontal lines in the interior. Ambient Lighting with six dimmable designs creates an atmosphere for every mood. Features such as electroplated controls and 3-zone automatic climate control with extended options add to the overall luxurious feel. The boot has a capacity of 550 litres and can be expanded further to 1600 litres by folding down the 40/20/40 split rear seat backrest.
Thanks to the unrivalled BMW Twin Power Turbo technology, the petrol engine melds maximum power with exemplary efficiency and offers spontaneous responsiveness even at low engine speeds. The two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of the BMW X3 xDrive30i produces an output of 185 kW / 252 hp and a maximum torque of 350 Nm at 1,450 – 4,800 rpm. The car accelerates from 0 -100 km/hr in just 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 235 km/h.
The eight-speed automatic Steptronic sport transmission performs smooth, almost imperceptible gearshifts. At any time, in any gear, the transmission collaborates perfectly with the engine, enabling it to develop its full power and efficiency.
Adaptive Suspension with its individual electronically controlled dampers adapts to both road conditions & individual driving style thereby offering exceptional precision and improves the drive and handling dynamics. For even greater driving pleasure, it is available with steering wheel paddle shifters, cruise control with braking function and Automatic differential brakes (ADB) with electronic differential locks as standard. The BMW Performance Control system increases the stability of the car by targeted braking of the wheels.
BMW xDrive, an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, monitors the driving situation constantly and is quick to respond. Electronically controlled ‘Automatic Differential Brakes/Locks’ (ADB-X), extended ‘Dynamic Traction Control’ (DTC), Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control help to conquer every terrain.
A host of BMW Connected Drive technologies continues to break the innovation barrier in automotive industry – BMW Gesture Control and Wireless Apple CarPlay® / Android Auto. The modern cockpit concept BMW Live Cockpit Professional running on latest BMW Operating System 7.0 includes 3D Navigation, with a high-resolution 12.3” screen instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a control display.
The spread of driver assistance systems is more extensive than ever. Parking Assistant Plus with 360 camera makes parking in tight spots easier by taking over acceleration, braking as well as steering. The car features a 464W Harman Kardon Surround Sound system 16 speaker with individually adjustable equalizing.
BMW Efficient Dynamics include features such as 8-speed Steptronic Automatic Transmission, Auto Start-Stop, Brake-Energy Regeneration, Electronic Power Steering, 50:50 Weight Distribution, Driving Experience Control switch with different driving modes such as COMFORT/ECO PRO/SPORT/SPORT+ and many other innovative technologies.
BMW Safety technologies includes six airbags, Attentiveness Assistance, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Cornering Brake Control (CBC), electric parking brake with auto hold, side-impact protection, electronic vehicle immobilizer and crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting and integrated emergency spare wheel under the load floor.
NO BOOK EVER SAID THAT THE SECRET TO A HAPPY LIFE IS SUCCESS: SAMIR SONI
Actor Samir Soni recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, the actor shared insights about his book “The diary of an introvert”. Read excerpts:
We started the interview by asking him about the idea behind his book. Samir replied, “This book contains my actual diary entries. This book was more of a process of discovering myself starting from 10 years back. During this time, I learned why I was the way I was. Writing it down was just my way to get my stuff out of my system. Recently when we were hit by the pandemic and people were depressed and anxious, I was approached for a book. I told them that I have something written which is very relevant today and they absolutely loved it.”
“There are various passages in the book where I am going back to childhood telling stories and in between is the actual process of going through self-discovery. I experienced something first hand, wrote it down and allowed others to judge”, he added.
When asked about how he dealt with being an introvert in this line of work, Samir revealed, “The first step was to discover the issue and then I discovered that I was a classic introvert and that there is nothing wrong with being that way. In front of the media, you have to be a certain way. Nobody shows their pain and struggles because the audience does not want that. I didn’t let people beat me up for who I was and my friends have now accepted me for who I am.”
Further sharing about the reactions he received from the audience on this book, the actor said that the most common reaction he got was people saying that is so much like them. “Over the years, my fans have a pretty decent idea of who I am and the most common thing is that they love it. The aspect of relativity is very much there. Everyone is projecting what they aspire to be, and you might not be that person. Therefore, in my book, I am not trying to be aspirational. No book ever said that the secret to a happy life is fame, money, and success. Everyone’s definition of success is different and everyone has a different journey. ”
Lastly, Samir shared whom he was addressing in his diaries that he wrote 10 years back. “ I was going through personal and professional phases in my life where I wasn’t feeling good about myself and unlike other times when you distract yourself, I decided to stay silent. I did not read books or watch TV as much as I possibly could and my only outlet was writing. As I started to write it took me to all kinds of places in life.”
THE DEBATE: CAN CHROS BECOME CEOS?
For years, the position of the CEO, which is arguably the most important and coveted position in an organisation, has gone to professionals from business roles such as Sales & Marketing, or operations. Depending on the Industry, Manufacturing and heavy Engineering Industries have looked at professionals from operations, Financial sectors have looked at Finance professionals, FMCG and FMCD industries have looked at Sales and Marketing incumbents, and so on.
There was no precedence of a CHRO taking the helm till December 2021, when not one but two examples came our way. Leena Nair, CHRO Unilever, was appointed as CEO of Chanel and Alka Mittal, HR director ONGC was appointed as Chairman & MD, ONGC.
And when they did, there was quite a furore and debate on the social media. From, are HR professionals really ready to take on the role of a CEO, do they understand customer, consumer, market, business imperatives and what not?
This entire debate begs the question- when will we stop looking at ‘labels’ and start looking at the ‘individual’ and what the individual brings to the table, in terms of skills, competencies, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and the ability to do the job at hand? Is stereotyping by profession yet another stereotype we have to live with? Yet another glass ceiling? Will those in so called ‘support functions’ have to reconcile with the fact that their growth will stop at ‘head of function’ of director of function’?
Let us take a broad overview of why this stereotype came into being and how it is fast changing in the present day.
WHY THE STEREOTYPE?
Human resources is an ‘arterial’ function for any organization. Human resources function manages one of the most critical assets an organisation has- It’s people.
An organisation can have the best product or service, state of the art machinery or technology, but the people who sell those products and services, use those machines and technology need to be attracted, recruited, retained, engaged, rewarded, motivated and made productive through the right culture, structures, policies and processes, which is the essential job of the HR function. This is how HR is operating today. Hand in hand with business, helping businesses evolve with the times, being a Strategic HR business Partner.
However, traditionally, the evolution of the HR function has seen several stages. From being a ‘personnel department’ which was essentially responsible for employee documentation, timekeeping and payroll, to being an HR operations function- essentially taking care of day to day HR operations, to being Business partner, to now being a strategic HR business partner.
Despite this evolution, the traditional understanding of HR seems to have stuck and as essential as the role of an HR function is, it is often treated as a relatively lesser significant role in many organizations. It is visible in the fact that you would find the HR head in many companies at a junior grade than other functions. Many emerging and growing organisations often do not even appoint a full time HR resource until they start seeing glaring problems in culture, discipline, processes.
Some businesses are of the opinion that since HR is not directly engaged in the business expansion, or is not a ‘revenue generation function’ or involved in other relevant operations such as finance or supply chain, a CHRO might not be able to do justice to these functions as a CEO. However, the truth could not be farther than this.
Some reasons why people working in the field of HR can make remarkable leaders are listed as follows-
Strong grip on workforce landscape- The primary role of a figure of authority is to ensure a seamless working environment. This includes ensuring that the employees are happy and satisfied with their work and treatment. It goes without saying that few people can perform this function as well as an experienced HR professional. HRs, having dealt exclusively with people and their behaviour for years, have a knack for understanding and forecasting employees’ reactions to potential decisions. They can deploy their expertise in human behaviour to maximise positive outcomes of business decisions as well as ensure a harmonious work environment which is key to success in any organization.
Presence of mind and quick decision-making- As part of their role, CHROs deal with ambiguity, unpredictability and volatility. Human behaviour is one of the most unpredictable matter that one can deal with. Since a CHRO is mainly responsible for dealing with Human Resources, he/she has ample experience in dealing with unpredictability and ambiguity in the most optimum way possible, being prepared with contingency plans and managing multiple stakeholders. They understand the value of a presence of mind and quick decision-making with respect to the changing environment.
A skill like this is of extreme importance in a person in the position of a CEO. This is because managing business environment also requires quick decision making, contingency planning, being comfortable with ambiguity, stakeholder management and most importantly being able to read and deal with human behaviour.
Holistic view of the organisation- Being a Strategic HR Business Partner, a CHRO partners with every function in the organisation, helps them structure for optimal productivity, helps them build capability within or acquire the right capability, streamline processes and policies, reward, recognise, incentivise people, help with talent assessment, appraisals and promotions. This requires them to understand the nitty grittiest of business, business processes, success imperatives. Unlike other functions, who only have view of their own functions, HR, by virtue of their role need to a have full view of the whole organisation, making CHROs uniquely poised to take on the CEO’s mantle.
The debate of whether or not a CHRO is a good choice for a CEO has now come to the fore and hopefully will be quelled as more and more organisations begin to see merit in the choice. The reason behind the debate primarily comes from the fact that a CHRO is responsible for overseeing the Human Resource function which is labelled as a ‘support function’ and does not directly contribute to the business and its growth. However, this notion stands nullified, and could not be further from the truth.
The Author is Founder and Managing Partner, Marching Sheep
US WILL RESPOND IF RUSSIAN MILITARY FORCES MOVE ACROSS UKRAINIAN BORDER: JEN PSAKI
Amid the brewing tensions over Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border, white house press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: if any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”
Russia has put more than 100,000 troops and war-making machinery on Ukraine’s borders. Which has sent alarms through the west – and apprehensions that Moscow is ready to invade Ukraine. But Russian commanders have said, they have no plans to invade.
The EU had earlier warned the Kremlin of “extreme consequences” if it takes any military action in neighboring Ukraine.
In the fray, Sweden has found itself threatened and has moved hundreds of its troops over the weekend to reinforce its borders and deny any fallout from the strategically important Gotland island – which lies in the Baltic Sea. Denmark has also strengthened its presence in the region a week back.
The rising tensions in the region have again re-ignited the debate in both Sweden and Finland as to whether they should now join Nato.
“If they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the force they’ve massed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia,” Biden told reporters.
“The cost of going into Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life, for the Russians… it’s going to be heavy,” he told reporters.
Despite the massive build-up of troops on the borders, Moscow has denied that it’s planning a military invasion. But it has issued Nato with a list of security demands blaming the alliance for “undermining regional security”, as NATO has regularly tried to make the former soviet members a part of the alliance which continues to infuriate Russia.
According to the reports, The Biden administration is weighing new options, to make the Putin administration rethink its invasion. The US wants to provide more arms to Ukraine that will help it resist Russian occupation, and also raise the costs for Russian President Vladimir Putin in case he decides to invade the country.
HARYANA GETS NEW 198 AMBULANCES, 47 MOBILE MEDICAL UNITS
In a bid to strengthen health services in the state, Haryana gets 198 Patient Transport Ambulances (PTAs) and 47 The Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) in its fleet. Besides this, soon a mapping will be conducted with regard to health infrastructure so that all the health services can be made available to the people as per the requirement. Flagging off these PTA and MMU and Anil Vij, the Health Minister Anil Vij that the present government is steadfast to provide better health facilities to the people of the State and in this episode mapping will be done regarding the infrastructure of health services.
He further said that in order to ensure that health services are provided to the people of the State as per the norms, all the private hospitals are now National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH)-accredited. Moreover, more than 350 hospitals in the State are presently NABH-accredited. Likewise, the work of standardization of government hospitals has also been done and till now more than 80 CHCs, PHCs and district hospitals are National Quality Assurance Standard (NQAS) accredited.
It is pertinent to mention that 28 personnel of our Health Department have sacrificed their lives during the Corona period in last two years and in their remembrance, a Wall of Memory has been built at the Headquarters. Besides this, a Wall of Memory has also been built in the area/district where such COVID warriors where they last posted. Besides, now-a-days about 9,000 COVID cases are being reported every day, out of which more than 5,000 cases are reported from districts having proximity with Delhi – Gurugram, Faridabad and Sonipat.
Haryana is the first state in the country where RTPCR labs have been set up in all districts except Jhajjar and soon RTPCR lab will be established in Jhajjar as well. Apart from this, Genome Sequencing Lab has been set up in Rohtak and now Genome Sequencing Lab will be set up at one or two other places also.
Haryana makes social media use mandatory for all departments
The Haryana government has come up with new directions making the use of social media mandatory for all government departments in the state. The government has issued a letter on 20 January 2022, stating that it has been desired by the state Chief Minister that all departments must create their social media accounts on social media platforms namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Koo for dissemination of the information regarding schemes, programs and achievements of the government, and the to tackle the fake news and misinformation about the government.
The letter further states that, it is hereby requested that all the Heads of the Departments, Boards and Corporations shall appoint Nodal Officer for handling these social media accounts and can be contacted by the Digital Media Section of the Public Relations Department of the Haryana government.
It is also mentioned in the letter that it shall be the sole responsibility of the Head of the Department, Boards and Corporations and the Nodal Officer to take timely and effective action regarding clarification or condemnation etc. of the fake reports and news. Besides, each aforesaid wing will have to share proper details of the concerned Nodal Officer along with his posting and the Department or Board or Corporation.
The details of the Nodal Officer and social media platforms shall be supplied on E-mail id firstname.lastname@example.org . The information includes the name of the concerned department and Nodal officer along with his designation, details of social media accounts, E-mail ID and contact number. Further the letter revealed that the Chief Minister Manohar Lal shall review the progress in this regard shortly.
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