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Congress’ Hardik move may backfire in Gujarat

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Once the face of Patidar reservation movement in Gujarat, Hardik Patel, who joined the Congress just before 2019 national elections, has now been appointed the acting president of the party. The important and interesting point is that it seems he has been elevated to this position keeping in mind the upcoming by-elections (October-November) for eight Assembly seats in the state. The Congress believes that his appointment will help the party get Patidar votes in the state. Many consider this a masterstroke, but the real question here is whether this move will benefit the party in Gujarat or not. Will Hardik be able to attract the Patidars and the youth? To analyse this one needs to understand the impact on electoral politics of the community and history of association of Patidar with Congress in the state.

 The Patidar community has a dominant role in politics of Gujarat. This becomes clear If one analyses the influence of the Patidars on the Assembly seats in three out of four regions of the state; there are total of 54 seats in the Saurashtra-Kutch region in which the Patidars are dominant in 22 seats; out of a total of 68 seats in Central Gujarat they are dominant in 15; and, in North Gujarat they decide the electoral outcome of 12 out of 32 seats.

Gujarat has a total of 26 Lok Sabha constituencies. Of these 26 seats, the Patidars play a decisive role in around 12 seats. There percentage of votes in these 12 seats is as follows: Ahmedabad East 14.5%, Amreli 16.41%, Gandhinagar 17.40%, Anand 15.26%, Kheda 11.33%, Bharuch 17.75%, Mehsana 29.93%, Navsari 23.3%, Surendranagar 20.22%, Surat 24.70%, Valsad 28.5%, and Vadodara 11.1%.  

Why will the Congress’ Hardik move actually backfire? The answer to this question lies in the fact that the Patidars suffered lot of hardships in the early 1980s under the Congress rule in the state. To curtail the dominance of the Patidar community in electoral politics of state, the Congress under leadership of Madhava Singh Solanki adopted the “KHAM” principle to unite other castes against the Patidars. Acronym KHAM stood for “K” meaning Kshatriya, “H” meaning Harijan, “A” meaning Adivasi (tribals) and “M” meaning Muslim. This led to fierce confrontation between the Patidars and other communities, especially Thakors. Riots erupted in several villages, in which many lives were lost. The Solanki government gave the police orders to curb the agitation at any cost. The police opened fire, which is said to have killed at least 100 people. It was widely believed then that the Solanki government was strict on the Patidars and soft on other castes. There were also incidents of looting and assault in several Patidar homes.

The wedge got further widened when before the state Assembly elections of 1985 Solanki, realising the anger among the Patidars for him and his government, following the Bakshi Commission report, which actually recommended 18% reservation for the economically and socially backward castes in the state, increased the reservation to 28% without any demand from any community to garner the support of OBCs for state elections to be held in March-April 1985. This decision was opposed by the non-reserved castes of the state, including the Patidars. However, Solanki won 149 seats out of 182 seats in the Assembly elections, which is the record till date in Gujarat. The Congress won the elections but lost the Patidars forever. After this, Patidars never supported the Congress and the party was wiped out in Gujarat.

No doubt, when Hardik Patel started the Patidar reservation movement and emerged as the face Patidar movement in the state, it was the BJP’s turn to face the electoral heat as a result the BJP bore the brunt in the civic elections. At one time, it seemed the Patidar society was willing to follow Hardik Patel whole-heartedly and make a new beginning under his leadership. But the moment Hardik joined the Congress, the Patidars started getting away from him; this was evident during the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections.

In 2019, the Congress nominated Patidar candidates in eight seats namely Rajkot, Porbandar, Vadodara, Ahmedabad East, Amreli, Mehsana, Surat and Bhavnagar and BJP gave them tickets from Porbandar, Anand, Mehsana, Rajkot, Amreli and Ahmedabad East. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, all the BJP’s Patidar candidates won and all the Congress’ Patidar candidates lost the elections!

 In Saurashtra region, the BJP did suffer to an extent, but the overwhelming majority of the Patidar community remained with the party. The Congress was completely wiped out in four important cities of the state. The villages of Gujarat were affected to some extent, but by and large the Patidar society, which had been with the BJP for years, stood with the party. Thus seen over all, neither the Congress nor Hardik’s influence in the Patidar areas was visible. Out of 26 seats in the state, the Congress could not win a single seat.

 By making Hardik acting president, the Congress seems to have not learnt the lessons from the 2019 election defeat. Due to Hardik’s alleviation not only the Patidar leaders of the party but also some other senior Congress leaders feel that years of their hard work and loyalty have gone waste. Had the Congress analysed the results of the 2017 Assembly elections and the 2019 national elections well, it would have understood that with Hardik at the helm of affairs neither will party be able to garner support of the Patidars nor will the senior Congress leaders support the move. All this will become clear when the state will go for bypolls for eight Assembly seats in October-November this year.

The writer is former editor of Gujarat’s oldest (156-yearold) vernacular newspaper, ‘Gujaratmitra’.

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REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS

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The National Flag is hoisted above the Clock Tower (Ghanta Ghar) on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day, at Lal Chowk, in Srinagar on Wednesday. ANIIndian Air Force’s Rafale aircraft leading MIG-27, MIG-29 and Sukhoi aircraft in a fly-past above Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIPresident Ram Nath Kovind presents the Ashoka Chakra (Posthumous) to Babu Ram, Assistant Sub-Inspector of J&K Police. The award was received by his wife Reema Rani and son Manik Sharma, at the 73rd Republic Day Celebrations, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIA dance performance going on during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in front of Vidhan Sabha, in Lucknow on Wednesday. ANIArtists take a selfie after the conclusion of the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in Jammu on Wednesday. ANIThe Arunachal Pradesh tableau, based on the theme “Anglo-Abor (Adi) Wars” on the Rajpath during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIIndian Army’s Akash missiles on display during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIBorder Security Force (BSF) women Dare Devils perform a stunt during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath, in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANIParamilitary personnel march during 73rd Republic Day celebrations, in Leh, Ladakh on Wednesday. ANICentral Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel celebrate after winning the first prize for march past at the 73rd Republic Day function, in Patna on Wednesday. ANI

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ITA Awards 2021 will be held in March this year: Anu Ranjan

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into her association with ITA.

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As the countdown for ITA Awards 2021 begins, Producer Anu Ranjan joined NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into ITA, her association with ITA and the preparations for this year’s ceremony, especially amid a Covid scare.

Speaking about her association with ITA 2021 and what has the journey been like, Anu Ranjan said, “This is our 21st year. I started it and I have been there since its inception. It is just that because of what has happened the previous year, we have been running a few months late.

Talking about the inception of ITA awards, she shared, “It was an idea told to me by my friends while we were walking on the beach. They were saying that there are no TV awards and that was in 2000. I used to live in America and I moved to India after I got married. The Emmy’s was something that we had always seen so I said ‘Okay, let me try doing it’. It just so happened that TV started at the same time. All the KBCs and K Series etc all started and ITA was launched the same year.

When asked what has changed in the past 2 years considering the Covid-19 outbreak and the protocols that have been put in place, Anu Ranjan responded, “Last to last year, it was fab. There were 10-15 thousand people. We had it in Indore. It was perfect. Last year, we had to have it a studio. What we did was instead of having a 3-hour live show; we kind of extended it over 2 days. We did one act and let them all go. We had 10 awards with just 30 people and then continued.

On recognising actors who have amazed the audiences in the OTT space in ITA Awards 2021 nominations, she said, “This year, we have got OTT at par with TV. So far, TV was 80% chunk and OTT was 20%. Now, what has happened is that it has become 60-40. TV is still a little heavier. There is a lot happening here and the good thing is that all the artists, more or less, the same. Whether you are doing television, films or web, it is the same people and they are very widely recognised and accepted by all. That has made a very big difference. We started OTT 3 years ago and that time we had 14 show entries. This year, it goes into 100+. Every single network, all 8-10 of the platforms, all actively participating in the ITA awards.”

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Amity Mumbai IT students win Hacktoberfest 2021

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Six students of Amity University, Mumbai won Hacktoberfest 2021 challenge. Atherva Patil, MD Asshar, Ameya Gawade, Devarsh Bela, Kaustubh Kadu, Yash Sharma, all students of Amity Institute of Information Technology have participated and won the prizes. The Hacktoberfest 2021 Challenge was organised by Digital Ocean, Appwriter, Intel Devmesh and deep source to promote the open source software. Participating in Hacktoberfest leads to personal growth, professional opportunities, and community building. It begins with meaningful and quality contributions to open-source software.

 On these achievements of students, Prof. A W Santhosh kumar, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Amity University Mumbai, said that, “The success of the IT Students in Hacktoberfest 2021 competition, is right step to enhance the IT Skills of the students. This participation is not only promoting the open source but also encouraging to the students to contribute into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The young generation students have wisely selected for the Plantation of the trees, which shows their awareness towards the environment.”

Faculty mentor and Head of the Institution, Dr. Manoj Devare said that, “To have used Innovative Teaching and learning pedagogy of Indirect Gamification to involve the students in the learning of the advanced IT Tools of DevOps. This year, six students have shown their skills in the Hacktoberfest 2021. The competition›s mix of UG and PG students has created a healthy environment. It was interesting to see how the students were helping each other succeed in submitting the PRs. Students have learned from their peers and understanding the Distributed Version Controlling System, forking the repositories, and using Git and GitHub tools made them more confident to make them Industry-ready.”

The GitHub and Git Version Controlling System are important tools for the Team of programmers working on the IT Projects. GitHub is the popular tool among the programming community to submit their daily contributions into the Project Repositories. Similarly, the open-source community is involved in pushing and pulling the program code into the public and private repositories. The Automation of the software development processes in the Development and Operations (DevOps) smoothly handover the completed software modules from the Developer to the Operations Team. In Continuation to this, the Participation of the IT Students in the Hactoberfest 2021 makes them Industry ready, and also contributing into the Sustainability. Participants in Hacktoberfest came from all over the world and represent thousands of unique skills sets in programming and Software project management.

The students have won prizes for the T-Shirts, Stickers, and selected tree plantation to reduce carbon footprints contributing sustainable environment.

All six winners are pursuing their BCA, BSC-IT and MCA programs from Amity Institute of Information Technology. Yash Sharma, student of BCA second year and one of the winner of competition said that, “I have completed Hacktoberfest›21; indeed, it was a great month-long journey got to collaborate on new ideas, projects, and tech stacks, around the world. The best part was its learning curve, networking, adding value, and building this open-source community more strongly. I have made successful contributions to frameworks like React Native, Angular, Python, etc. also was part of an organization like Appwrite.”

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BUDDHADEB’S PADMA REJECTION BECOMES A HOT POLITICAL DEBATE

Arup Kali

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As the list of Padma awardees came out on Tuesday, one of the surprise names among the list of Padma Bhushan winners was former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. However, the veteran communist leader has refused to accept the award. Bhattacharya said he was not aware that he has been named for the Padma Bhushan and that he would reject it if it was true.

“I don’t know anything about a Padma Bhushan award. No one told me anything about it. If they have given me a Padma Bhushan award. I am rejecting it,” he said in a statement.

The news of the former Chief Minister’s Padma-rejection is making rounds in the political circles. The Left camp claims that it is a political stunt of the Center. The Trinamool, on the other hand, claims that the addition of left-wingers is clear in paying homage to Buddhababu. The saffron camp (BJP) has not stopped with this. BJP state president Sukanta Majumder claims that the rejection of Buddhadeb Babu’s award is being politicized.

In the words of the BJP state president, “Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is the former chief minister of the state. Keeping in mind his social and administrative contribution, the central government felt that he should be honoured with the Padma Bhushan. There is no need for politics to reject the award. It’s unwanted.”

On the other hand, Dilip Ghosh commented, “Buddhababu’s rejection of the award is his personal matter. However, the CPM has never maintained that tradition. The communists have always insulted the culture of the country. So not taking the award is also a sign of that insult. ”

The CPM’s rejection of Buddhababu’s award was reported on social media.

CPM’s Facebook handle states, “The CPI(M)’s policy is consistent in rejecting such awards from the state. Our work is for the people, not for rewards.” Everyone mentions another former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Bharat Ratna was rejected by Jyoti Basu. Buddhababur refused to walk that path.

On the other hand Trinamool mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ demands recognition of Buddhababu, recognition of crushing of land movement in general.

The Left is saying that the government which is depriving the people of their democratic rights, will not accept the reward given by that government.

On the other hand, according to the Trinamool Congress, this award has once again exposed the BJP’s secret collusion with the Left.

After the award was announced on Tuesday, Kunal Ghosh made the same demand on behalf of the Trinamool. And on Wednesday, it was said in ‘Jago Bangla’ that the BJP actually said ‘vote of thanks’ to the CPM voters out of respect for Buddhababu.

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Speaker-Governor clash takes a new turn in Bengal

On Wednesday, the Speaker of Bengal Assembly said that if the governor expressed his desire to visit the assembly, then the Assembly authorities would look into the reasons for his coming.

Arup Kali

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On Wednesday, the Speaker of West Bengal assembly Biman Banerjee said that if the West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expresses his desire to come to the assembly in the future, he would be welcomed. And that is why analysts think that the state-governor conflict in West Bengal has taken a new turn.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Red Road, in Kolkata on Wednesday. ANI

The speaker however, said that if the governor himself expressed his desire to come to the assembly, then the assembly authorities would look into the reasons for his coming. Earlier the speaker had said that the governor could no longer come to the assembly on his own.

The argument being made by the assembly authorities is that the manner in which the governor attacked the speaker on January 25 when he came to lay a wreath at the statue of BR Ambedkar is unprecedented. The speaker claimed that the governor’s behavior was totally disrespectful. The speaker remarked that the role played by Jagdeep Dhankhar in the assembly did not suit him, at least as the governor.

Incidentally, standing next to the Speaker on January 25, the Governor remarked that the Legislative Assembly was not abiding by the Constitution.

The Speaker said, “The previous Governor has inaugurated many programs in Bengal. Even then there was press, there was media. He went to the press corner and talked to everyone. But none of them behaved like that. He wanted to come to the assembly himself. We have brought him with dignity. But we did not understand, he will use this platform to make a political statement.”

“I have asked for a CD of his speech. After seeing that, I will decide what to do next. ” The speaker added.

“Let me be clear, if Dhankhar wants to come, he has to provide a reason behind his visit to the assembly. He has some constitutional obligations, for which he has to come there. We have nothing to say. But if he wants to come to the assembly voluntarily, we want to know why he wants to come. ”

Incidentally, the governors have repeatedly clashed with the state administration in the past. Such as Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was the Governor of Bengal from 2004 to 2009. Or even earlier, Governor Dharambir dismissed the United Front government led by veteran Congress leader Ajay Mukherjee.

But this clash between the Governor and the Speaker is unprecedented. Analysts believe that this instance of attacking the authorities or the speaker while standing in the assembly has not been seen in Bengal before.

In this context, BJP leader Agnimitra Paul said, “The speaker’s statement is very sad. Which is unfortunate enough for this state to have a constitution. The Speaker does not have the power to control the motion of the Governor or to prevent the arrival of the Governor in the Legislative Assembly. It should be understood that the Speaker runs the Vidhan Sabha, it is not his house. “

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ANTIBODIES FROM OMICRON EFFECTIVE AGAINST ALL VARIANTS: ICMR

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The latest study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows that antibodies generated by Omicron, a COVID-19 strain, are not only effective against it but also other variants of concern (VOCs) including Delta.

“The individuals infected with Omicron have significant immune response which could neutralize not only the Omicron but also the other VOCs including most prevalent Delta variant,” a study by ICMR has revealed. “This suggests that the immune response induced by the Omicron could effectively neutralize the Delta variant making the re-infection with Delta less likely, thereby displacing the Delta as dominant strain. This emphasizes the need for the Omicron specific vaccine strategy,” it further said.

In this study, the ICMR has analysed the IgG and neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against B.1, Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron variants with the sera of individuals infected with the Omicron variant (B.1.1529 and BA.1) as currently India is facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICMR has said that within a short span of time, the variant has shown high transmissibility and capability of evading the immune response generated against natural infection and vaccination. The immune escape potential of Omicron is a serious concern and further needs to be explored.

The study, where antibodies response was assessed in those who are infected by Omicron, is pre-print. And not peer reviewed.

Although COVID-19 cases are showing a downward trend in the big cities, the ICU admissions and deaths are being driven by patients with comorbidities, people who are immunocompromised, and the aged.

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital said, “It is comorbidity which is causing ICU admissions. Even before COVID-19, people with comorbidities, extreme age require ICU admission quite a few times with any of the infections. Rather than Omicron causing ICU admissions, it is the comorbidities, because superimposed infection which happens to be Omicron is causing the ICU admission.”

“When numbers are high, deaths actually follow them. Cases have started coming down in metropolitan cities but people actually die a couple of weeks down the line. They become more serious and come up with more complications and start dying. Thus, the discrepancy occurs that when peak has already been seen and cases are reducing each day (especially in Mumbai and Delhi) the deaths have slightly risen and this what happens epidemiologically,” Dr Chatterjee said.

MARKET NOD

The regular market approval from Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to COVID-19 vaccine Covishield and Covaxin is expected soon, but only after price is fixed, official sources said on Wednesday.

Recently, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), DCGI, Drug regulators and senior officials of the Union Health Ministry conducted a meeting regarding fixing the prices of Covishield and Covaxin, but no final decision has been taken yet.

It is expected that the price of a vaccine will be fixed below Rs 275 per dose and additional service charges of 150 to make both the vaccines affordable for all.

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