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NewsX was recently joined by Vineet Nayar, Founder and Chairman of Sampark Foundation and former CEO of HCL Technologies, for an exclusive conversation as a part of its special series NewsX India A-List wherein he spoke about his foundation and education system in India.

Talking about Sampark Foundation, Nayar said, “It is a very interesting story. I was CEO and Vice-Chairman of HCL Technologies and I had just written a book called ‘Employees First, Customer Second’, which sold very well, and New York Times had just done an article on the book. So, I was feeling very good, my head was about ten times larger than what you see today. I did a mistake by walking up to my mother, who was a school teacher and told her, ‘Look, how proud you should be of your son and aren’t you lucky that this son was born to you’. She being a school teacher, took out a copy, tore it in half and wrote one word on it, put it in a used envelope, sealed it and said, ‘When you are flying international, read it on the flight’. I was going to New York that night, and I opened the envelope on the flight, which had one word written on it. The word was ‘Enough’. So, I landed in New York, called up my mother and asked her, ‘What does this word ‘enough’ mean?’ She said, ‘If you don’t understand it, you will understand it on your way back’, and I did. There comes a time in life when you have achieved the financial security you need and the level of recognition for professional work you need. That’s the time you need to say- ‘Enough’ and quit those two goals and dedicate yourself to try and bring about a change in the country so that you can give back. I strongly believe the reason for your success is because your family and the country as a family made you successful. Therefore, one-third of your life you should dedicate in making sure that those people who made you successful are better off than they were without you and that is how Sampark Foundation really began.”

Speaking about the goal of the foundation, he said, “Since my mother was a teacher and my wife Anukhma is also a special education teacher we started the Sampark Foundation and had committed a large sum of funds from our family to invest in the field of education. When we saw the field of education, we realised that there are about 15 crore children in our government system. Almost 50% of them in Grade 5, cannot read Grade 2 texts or solve basic mathematical problems. So, the learning outcome in our schooling system was very large and it was alarming that 37% of the children enrolled in government schools were getting out of schools by Grade 5. Therefore, they were going to the labour pool. So, I, my wife, and my mother decided that we are going to spend all our might, design thinking, creative thinking, and resources to try and see if we can help the government in solving this problem to a certain extent. Thus, we chose education. The second decision we had to take was—do we want to do it on a small or large scale. India is a very large country and therefore, it was important for us to attempt a change at a very large scale. There were some good experiments happening at small scales so we decided to experiment at a large scale. So today, we have one crore children in our program in 84,000 schools in six states. The learning outcome improvement is about 34% year on year. All this has been possible as we used design thinking, and innovation to try and break the shackles of learning outcomes.”

When asked about the biggest problem in the Indian education system and how Sampark Foundation is working towards overcoming them, Nayar said, “the biggest problem in education has to do with a poor learning outcome, the fact that especially in rural areas, resources, quality of teaching and teachers is poor and thus, neither the teacher nor the children are interested. Therefore, the learning outcome continues to go down. The amount of resources required to bring about a change is very large. Additionally, we suddenly had a massive setback due to Covid. When the children are sitting at home, when they get detached from education even for one year, they lose interest in education. Once they lose interest in it then even those children who were self-driven will not be able to come back. So Sampark Foundation used design thinking extensively to find out how we can make education exciting. We were inspired by Bollywood, and especially with Vidya Balan’s voice in ‘Munnabhai M.B.B.S.’, when she says, ‘Good morning Mumbai’. So, we said, how can we bring the song and dance of Bollywood and equivalent voice of Vidya Balan into the classroom, using a rechargeable audio device and teach Math and English with song, dance, and fun, ignite the classroom and make learning exciting or fun-based. Can we surround that innovation with other teaching and learning innovation? So, going to school is all about fun. We did that and rolled it out to one crore children and it was successful and then came Covid. With Covid, it became important for us to do two things. Firstly, to be in touch with the teachers to make sure that they are interested in education. We launched an app called ‘Sampark Smartshala’ where there are almost 20 lakh views on a monthly basis. Secondly, we encouraged the teachers to use loudspeakers in the villages, marriage halls, mandirs, mosques, and use ‘Sampark TV’ and the audio device to keep on teaching the children while they are sitting at home so that the interest in learning continues. So, our focus is to drive cutting edge design thinking, try and solve the unsolvable problem in a very frugal way. All interaction in Sampark Foundation costs less than 1$ per child.”

He also talked about the National Education Policy (NEP), and how it can help transform education for better in India. “I think there are three key positives of the NEP. The first aspect, they have emphasised that we need to move away from rote learning to applied learning which the focus of Sampark Foundation. That is the reason we use teaching-learning materials, and an audio device with ‘Sampark Tv’ to try and teach in a different way to the students and our science program is all about applied learning. Therefore, teachers and students are applying their learning. The second aspect, I think very few people realise that teaching in a rural school is very difficult as you have these multigrade classrooms. On one side you have a child that cannot count till 99 and on the other side a child who needs to learn division. Now, how you handle a class which needs multiple learnings simultaneously, is very critical. The first step to do that is an assessment. The teacher having the visibility to who knows what and that is the second thing which NEP focuses on, to digitalise learning so that the teacher has availability and can understand on a real-time basis, who knows what. The third aspect is leveraging technology and how can you leverage it to reach more and more people. The only caveat I have is that people make a mistake by saying technology is computing or the internet. I would say that an audio device is also technology. So, in India, if we have to reach all those 15 crore children, we have to be frugal in our approach. Therefore, we have to reapply our minds in terms of what is technology. I believe that NEP is a step in the right direction and we are completely aligned with it.”

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

Asha Parekh to become 52nd recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award




The 68th national film awards will be presented on September 30 in accordance with the more than 60-year-old tradition by President Droupadi Murmu and Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, two years after the Covid-19 outbreak put the coveted event on hold.

As the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2020, veteran actress Asha Parekh becomes the 52nd recipient of the honour. The previous Dadasaheb Phalke award was given to the star of southern cinema Rajinikanth.

“Honoured to announce that the Dadasaheb Phalke selection jury has decided to recognise and award Asha Parekh ji for her exemplary lifetime contribution to Indian cinema,” Thakur said.

Industry icons Asha Bhosle, Hema Malini, Udit Narayan, Poonam Dhillon, and TS Nagabharana are members of the Dadasaheb Phalke committee.

She worked in more than 95 films and was the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification from 1998-2001,” Thakur added. Parekh was also conferred with Padma Shri in 1992.

The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), which was founded in 1954, is now in charge of organising the awards, which fall under the purview of the I&B ministry, for the first time.

The government consolidated four film organisations in March of this year, giving the NFDC full authority over all matters relating to the production of documentaries and short films, the management of film festivals, and the preservation of films.

In keeping with tradition, Hon’ble President Draupadi Murmu will be conferring the National Film awards this year,” NFDC MD Ravinder Bhakar said. “It is an honour for the winners and I congratulate them.”

Eminent leaders and figures from the film industry make up the national awards jury, which is chaired by Vipul Shah and includes Dharam Gulati, Sreelekha Mukherjee, GS Bhaskar, S Thangadurai, Sanjeev Rattan, Karthik Raja, VN Aditya, Viji Thampi, Thangadura, and Nishigandha as members.

The ceremony is taking place four years after President Ram Nath Kovind only delivered 11 of the 137 awards, breaking with convention, which saw more than 50 award recipients skip the 65th National Film Awards ceremony in protest.

The remaining prizes were given out by former information and communication minister Smriti Irani and minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore.

In 2018, 70 award recipients had expressed their intention to boycott the event in an open letter to protest the cancellation of the award presentation. However, a number of the letter’s signatories, including the singer KJ Yesudas and the filmmaker Prasad Oak, later turned up. The honorees clarified in their letter that their action was not a “boycott,” but rather a demonstration of their displeasure with the President’s choice.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court live-streaming hearings for first time today




The Supreme Court went live for the first time on Tuesday when the cases’ hearings, which were planned to be livestreamed during the day, could be viewed online. One of the three cases slated for live streaming was from Maharashtra and pitted Team Uddhav Thackeray against Team Eknath Shinde over a dispute over the Shiv Sena’s symbol, with the Election Commission already involved. This was the second live hearing where the attorney, Kapil Sibal, could be seen arguing.

Live broadcasting was recommended by the Supreme Court around four years ago.

The former chief justice of India, Dipak Misra, had passed the landmark ruling on September 27 on the live telecast of important proceedings, saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Following discussion on the issue by the whole top court on September 20, it was decided to begin live-streaming constitutional bench hearings this week. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit presided over the whole court meeting, and all the judges agreed that constitutional matters should be the first to be streamed live on a regular basis.

A bold plan to integrate the use of information and technology with India’s judiciary, the e-courts project’s third phase included the proposal to have an exclusive platform for live-streaming Supreme Court sessions.

The high courts in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna, and Madhya Pradesh are some of the high courts that broadcast hearings live as well.

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As raids continue, over 50 PFI members arrested in Karnataka




19 held for vandalizing properties during PFI protest

Law enforcement agencies conducted raids in various areas of Karnataka against members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), during which several of the group’s leaders were taken into custody.

Around 50 people are reportedly in jail as a result of raids that were conducted in Shivamogga, Chitradurga, Mangaluru, Hassan, Bidar, Chikkaballapura, Raichur, and other locations.

“The BJP government is doing this and creating an atmosphere of terror. The NIA has carried out so many raids but has not gotten any proof. We are not anti-nationals. We are protesting legally and won’t tolerate them taking away our leaders in the dead of the night. If they don’t release them, we will have to continue our protests. We are not going to get scared of the police and NIA and will legally continue our protests,” said one member of the PFI from Raichur.

Following days of coordinated arrests by the NIA across multiple states, which resulted in the imprisonment of almost 50 notable leaders, there has been a new round of raids.

Six persons were arrested in the Kolar district.

There are now two individuals in custody in Chamarajanagar.

District 11 PFI and SDPI members were arrested in Dakshina Kannada, while 20 PFI members were detained in Shivamogga.

In the Bagalkot district, seven PFI and SDPI members have been jailed and will remain there till October 3.

Two PFI leaders were arrested in Raichur, and one of them has been remanded in custody.

“The BJP has been a failure in India and Karnataka. Since they have nothing to do in front of the people, they are attempting these things,” PFI member added.

PFI members and supporter are protesting against the crackdown across the state.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) led multi-agency raids on the offices of the organisation and people connected to it on Thursday as part of a nationwide crackdown across 10 states for allegedly supporting terrorist activities, leading to the detention or arrest of numerous Popular Front of India (PFI) activists.

Raids were carried out simultaneously in Mysuru, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, Kalaburagi, Davanagere, Raichur, and Koppal during the crackdown in Karnataka.

Azeez Abdul Shukur Honnavar from Sirsi, Ejaj Ali, the district president of the PFI in Kalaburagi, Shahid Khan, the president of the SDPI in Shivamogga, Maulana Mohammad Kaleemulla, the former president of Mysuru, Imamuddin from Davanagere, and Abu Tahir from Harihara town have all been arrested by police, according to officials.

The following day, Bengaluru cops arrested 14 persons. The majority of those arrested were PFI members.

Police commissioner CH Pratap Reddy, said the suspects were picked up for questioning in connection with a suo motu case registered at the city’s KG Halli police station.

These 14 individuals had remanded in police custody by a Bengaluru court until October 3.

Prominent religious figures and human rights activists in the nation asked that all of the leaders of the Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India who have been illegally arrested by the NIA be unconditionally and promptly released.

“The raids and arrests are ill motivated and an attempt to silence the dissenting voices against fascism,” read a joint statement by people include Dr. Suresh Khairnar, convenor of All India Secular Forum, Syed Sarwar Chisthy, Gaddi Nashin Khadim of Dargah Ajmer Sharrif , and Rajratna Ambedkar, president of the Buddhist Society of India.

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Indian rupee gains 37 paise against the US dollar, reaching 81.30




The rupee rose 37 paise to 81.30 against the US dollar in early trade on Tuesday, as the US currency fell from its highs.

The domestic unit opened at 81.45 against the dollar on the interbank foreign exchange, then fell to 81.30, a 37-paise gain from its previous close.

The rupee fell 58 paise against the dollar on Monday, reaching an all-time low of 81.67.

According to Sriram Iyer, Senior Research Analyst at Reliance Securities, the rupee strengthened against the dollar as the greenback took a breather.

Experts predict that the focus will now shift to the RBI’s meeting this week, with its decision due on Friday.

“Most Asian and emerging market peers have started mixed, but a positive start in the equity futures could aid sentiments. The dollar index was marginally weaker, while the Euro, Sterling and the Yen strengthened against the greenback in this Tuesday morning trade,” Iyer said.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which measures the strength of the US currency against a basket of six currencies, dropped 0.36 percent to 113.69.

Brent crude futures rose 0.57 percent to USD 84.54 per barrel, the global oil benchmark.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was trading 176.91 points, or 0.31 percent, higher at 57,322.13, while the broader NSE Nifty was up 55.95 points, or 0.33 percent, at 17,072.25.

According to exchange data, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers in the capital markets on Monday, offloading shares worth 5,101.30 crore.

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India reports 3,230 new COVID-19 infections in last 24 hours, active caseload at 42,358



According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday, India logged 3,230 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,45,75,473, while the active cases declined to 42,358.The data updated at 8 am stated that the death toll climbed to 5,28,562 with 32 fatalities which includes 22 deaths reconciled by Kerala.The ministry said, the active cases comprise 0.10 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate increased to 98.72 per cent.A decline of 1,057 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.As per the data, the country crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23 last year. It crossed the four-crore mark on January 25 this year.

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