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Corona crisis can be a blessing in disguise to attract FDI leaving China: Nitin Gadkari

The Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises speaks exclusively to The Daily Guardian on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and reviving Indian economy

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Nitin Gadkari
Corona crisis can be a blessing in disguise to attract FDI leaving China: Nitin Gadkari

Everyone in India is waiting for the government’s decision on the lockdown, either lifting it or extending it. A: At this moment, we are fighting against the coronavirus and it is not only corona we are fighting, but on the economic front also. We will definitely win this battle and what I suggest should be done at this moment is to use masks, sanitisers and maintain distance and hygiene in the industry is also very important. As you asked about whether the lockdown will be lifted or it will be extended, we have given our reports to honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister will officially announce it.

Q: Before talking to us, you have spoken to various transport ministers and chief ministers of different states.

A: Yes, I did speak to the chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and transport ministers of various states for four hours and discussed about the supply chain which was paralysed due to the lockdown. I told them we have opened our highways and we will ensure that supply chains should not get disturbed or hamper goods transport. After the clear indications from the Home Ministry and their guidelines, with the starting of National Highway operations, it will allow the opening of dhabas, export import activity and this can’t be stopped for long. National Highway work has also started and migrant labourers will start getting employment. They would be in a situation to earn money. We should look at the current crisis as a blessing in disguise as many Japanese companies are coming out of China and we will try to attract them through FDI in India. It’s not only Japan which wants to come out of China, it’s many other nations who really want to move out of China and have shown their interest in investing in India and the technological joint venture with India. We have an aim in sight to increase our exports and reduce the imports as economy grows and the dream of $5 trillion economy and Rs 1 lakh crore infrastructure.

Q: Every citizen feels China should be taught a lesson due to the origin of the virus from there. Some have suggested boycott of Chinese products. What is your opinion?

A: This is a very sensitive matter. I don’t want to jump into this controversy. America has already made its intention very clear but what we feel is that new technology, skill innovation, entrepreneurship and science is required. Our aim is to attract FDI. We are here with the mindset of giving them a red-carpet welcome and not only this, all facilities, no red tape, corruption-free transparency and time-bound execution of their needs will be done on priority. Working on this, it will help industry to grow, MSME to grow, it will help getting FDI and it will lead to result-oriented work and infrastructure in the country and increase of exports will help India grow and develop after this current crisis. On China, I don’t want to jump into this controversy neither do I want to make any comment but we are focusing on developing our economy.

Q: Maharashtra, your home state, has not been able to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

A: I spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the chief secretary. I am constantly in touch with them. The worrisome situation is in Mumbai and Pune which is really alarming and I don’t want to make any politics or make any political comment but I can say that we all are together. Being together, I have spoken to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and  Nationalist Congress Party president  Sharad Pawar. We talked on bout how to fight unitedly and control and win over this corona crisis and all seem to be very sensitive in controlling this. We can do politics after we defeat corona, it is too early to talk about any politics in Maharashtra and we are all united.

Q: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Modi have very clearly said corona should not be given a communal colour.

A: I am here to state that that nobody is being targeted on their caste or creed. If you are talking about the Tablighi Jamaat, I must tell you that there is a misunderstanding which has been created. The misunderstanding is that fruit-sellers are mainly Muslim, so people have fear in their mind that if they buy fruits or vegetables from them, they will get corona. Our government is trying to have confidence-building measures among all. Let me tell you that we are not here to tolerate anyone creating a ruckus out of this fear of any particular community being targeted and that no one should be given stepmotherly treatment.

Q: The exodus of migrant labour is turning to be the main concern all over the country.

A: Yes, you are right. Migration is on the rise since people do not have employment. There are several problems but I have a question. If they go back home, what employment will they get? My suggestion is that to stop community transmission through people travelling from one place to another, it is better that they stay where they are. They should be provided employment and food and shelter. They called me as well to return home and the government is working towards it.

Q: Different governments are planning to get back labourers and citizens from their states.

A: I disagree with the decisions by the respective states. I wish to alert them that this is a sensitive matter and it is not a good time for anyone to travel. People should be where they are and it will raise new questions. I would suggest and request industries to meet the basic needs of migrant labour, otherwise it might give birth to several new problems. Do I respect the decisions of the respective chief ministers? We should look at America, Spain, France, Germany and Italy who did not shut their international boundaries and their death toll. Look at India’s decision and the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and his decision and the number of corona deaths in India. It is up to the chief ministers to look into data but I will still appeal them to rethink.

Q: Due to corona, your own department and ministry of MSME, which is the spine of industrial growth, seems to have broken down completely.

A: MSME contributes 29% of the industrial and economic growth in the country. It creates 11 million jobs. We have started restructuring and we are happy the RBI has taken few steps to revive it. We have given many sops. I am constantly in touch with the finance minister, the PM and the Government of India is with industry. But let me tell you one thing, there is a loss and fall in revenue. Though Government of India is also facing the problem, state governments do not have funds to disburse salary. There is a challenge for banking system as well. We have to protect all and we have to survive and move ahead with little support but we need the support of all as well.

Q: Due to the corona crisis, aviation, hospitality and travel industry have completely collapsed. Do you think the Rs 12,000 crore package for aviation industry will suffice?

A: You’re right. Many sections in many areas of industry, and, especially, aviation, are in crisis. We know their problems and the Government of India will not allow this sector to die. The PM and the Government of India have taken note of it and I promise you that we stand with them and we will not let them sink.

Q: What would you like to say on the attacks on sadhus? Two sadhus and their driver were killed in Maharashtra’s Palghar and two sadhus in Bulandshahr.

A: This is really unfortunate at this point of time or any time. Innocent people and sadhus are being targeted and killed. I shall request the respective state governments to take stern action against the guilty so that the people should fear the law. They cannot allow anyone to escape and strict action as per the law needs to be taken. Our government is not going to tolerate this.

Q: When the first lockdown started, you promised citizens that no toll will be operational until it ends.

A: See, let me tell you, we have to regularise everything. As it is, 65 to 70% of National Highways are now operational and we will have to compensate the private toll operator. It is on build-and-operate basis, if we are giving the best facility which is being used by motorists. Then, I think they need to pay and I request the people that it is a hard and trying time. They should help and cooperate with the authorities.

Q: In Delhi alone, 24,000 challans have been sent to people engaged in emergency duties like doctors, mediapersons and others. Do you think it is appropriate at a time of emergency like this when doctors are rushing to the hospital to save lives?

A: See, I must tell you that anyone breaking the law will not be tolerated. I request all that violating traffic rules will definitely result in challans. There is no point saying I am a doctor, engineer, politician or journalist, no concession will be given to anyone. So kindly make a note and follow traffic rules.

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The pandemic damaged cricket quite a bit but thanks to the IPL we are again watching some excellent game: Dave Cameron, former president of the West Indies Cricket Board

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Dave Cameron

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list, Dave Cameron, former president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) shares with us many insights about his journey, crickets and of course what the sports during pandemic means.

Cameron talks about the assessment of the damage that cricket had to endure because of this pandemic as well as addressed how after six months the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) is a huge plus for cricket lovers. “It’s been tremendous and enormous but interestingly, cricket has weathered better than some other sports. Cricket has been damaged quite a bit but thank God for the IPL we are watching some excellent cricket. And I think it’s excellent because you have the best players in the world to play again” said the former WICB prez.

Cameron mentioned that though he expects to see India and Pakistan find a way to have Pakistani players playing the IPL because they are some of the best in the world.  “Cricket has been damaged but England was able to play the National series, New Zealand will too shortly but West Indies haven’t started any since the start of the pandemic so that is damaging their finances and I suspect the same for South Africa and some of the smaller countries.”

Talking about the status quo that cricket has been accustomed to in the last few decades and the kinds of changes, Cameron said, “ What cricket needs more than it is for the governing body to be the governing body and set rules and create opportunities for private investments. IPL is the brainchild of the BCCI and really flourishing because all the private attendees came and found that they can attract because of the resources. They attract the best cricketers around the world.”

Sharing his mantra and proposition Cameron would do if take on the mantle of ICC president, “Cricket must be going quicker around the world and the big countries develop cricket alongside the smaller countries and be able to have their players coaches and make the biggest leagues around the world pretty much. That’s how we’re going to grow. We need to get the United States on board and those who are huge markets and again and on board with private investors.”

Talking about the crucial notion that most of the money that comes into cricket is only from a few countries Cameron addressed that West Indies hasn’t gotten a single dollar for the particular tournaments mentioned and his plan to change that, he said “Well, I don’t think things can change overnight, it will continue to come from the big countries from the big economies. For example, Europe, you know, can contribute to our coffers. The United States is a massive contributor to those tournaments. I’m not advocating, but I believe these other tournaments in Europe are never going to smaller countries. The west is producing the kind of income simply because of the size of their economy. We should be able to see cricket, and not be paying massive retainers or international players. But I don’t. So it is something that the board needs to sit down. It’s not something I can walk in there and get done overnight. Discussions should grow to this point”

Responding to how he would tackle allegations about Test cricket being sacrificed at the altar of T2. “That is not anybody’s doing. It’s Generation Z who don’t want to take five days to consume the game but it is what the demand has been. And as a result, T20s has flourished. Now again, I believe there are certain countries’ geographies and they should just continue to play tests. England, Australia, India, Bangladesh can play and West Indies too can play. But a test match in the West Indies is a dead robot. There are not enough revenues, advertising sponsorships behind it to make this” said Cameroon.

On a concluding note, Cameron talks about West Indian cricket planning to foresee the revival as everybody wants to see the resurgence of the great 70s and 80s when it comes to the West Indies team. “ To be frank we continue to see great players now playing. This year, Andre Russell was a T20 Player of the Year. But for the West Indies is itself to be the world no 1 it’s going to require resources. I believe if we change the format as I’m suggesting and teams such as West Indies have a chance of winning the World Cup if we can put together the right mindset that says squat but conquering the world 25 years ago, I don’t just I don’t see it happening. However, if we don’t change the economics in world cricket, West Indies cricket will roll by the wayside. They have made some steps towards achieving some kind of unison in the region and I want the government to come forward and give the necessary resources otherwise they’re not going to survive.”

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During the pandemic there is rising consciousness towards one’s health and immunity which wasn’t seen earlier: Sushil Khaitan, CEO & Director, Purenutrition.in

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Sushil Khaitan

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list, Sushil Khaitan, CEO & Director, Purenutrition.in shares with us his experiences and insights in wellness and health as well as working as a seasoned entrepreneur in the manufacturing and marketing industry for over 30 years.

Known for his penchant for health and wellness, Khaitan talks about his popular nutraceutical brand, Pure Nutrition which focuses on the belief that good health and optimal wellness is everyone’s right. “Because of the pesticides and different types of chemicals being used for rapid growth for both vegetables, the nutrients of the product go down. So in order to replenish the ideal human body, we come up with these nutrition supplements” said Khaitan.

Sharing with us the basic mantra of nutraceutical, Khaitan explains, “These supplements are made with very high power bioavailable plant-based extract, which is done by an extraction process, wherein the ingredients are magnified with a very high level. So the bioavailability and the efficacy of the human body tend to work very high once we start consuming these supplements, and that replenishes those nutrient deficiencies. It is not medicine.”

Khaitan addresses the major issue of people’s perception about supplements, “First of all doctors do not really prescribe nutraceuticals, because they have been taught pharma and they are who pledges to do. So then they always get into medicines. But during the last three to five years, doctors across the world have realised that it is because of the nutrition efficiencies that the body’s resistant power to fight diseases has gone down, so they are also now realising the importance of nutraceutical. And I was surprised that many of the doctors in India now have started prescribing that people should also take supplements.”

Speaking on the importance of how during the pandemic people’s perceptions are changing towards food and immunity and for good reason. Khaitan said “People are scared with the looming fear of catching the virus and the second issue is coming about immunity. That word has been banging so much it has gone up in nominal search worldwide. They’re now even realizing the importance of immunity to fight the virus.”

Sharing with us how Pure Nutrition differentiates from other brands and USP for this brand in particular, Khaitan explains “We are natural and all our formulations are plant-based including multi-ingredients formulations. Along with that, we follow the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) at the highest level. Hence it increases the efficacy and efficiency of the product.” “Considering we follow multi-ingredient formulations where we add, close to seven to eight, or minimum ten sometimes in each formulation. It is a mixture of Ayurveda, herbs and vitamins which increases the bioavailability and efficacy in the body” added Khaitan.

Talking about the clienteles his brand has received during the pandemic and the return rate of clients, Khaitan elaborated “50% is a repeat customer online, and that we have been following it for the last since the company was formed in 2016. We have seen that customers who are loyal to our brand and have enjoyed the benefits of our products have never left us. Their world of mouth around India and also with families and friends, relatives, give a lot of impetus to our optics in terms of the repeated customers are concerned.

Secondly, during this particular situation we have people coming in both online and offline especially the younger generation, the millennials as well as Gen Z have started becoming very conscious as to what they eat, how they exercise and how they live their life, what type of supplement they should take.”

On a concluding note, Khaitan stresses the particular old saying Health is wealth and tells us about the rising consciousness towards one’s health. “Suddenly we have seen a big change in the last six months which wasn’t so earlier especially in youngsters and people leading sedentary lifestyles.”

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IIT-KHARAGPUR’S ‘COVIRAP’ TEST MACHINE GETS ICMR CERTIFICATION

The Covid testing device can deliver results within an hour at the cost of Rs 500.

Preeti Sompura

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‘COVIRAP,’ the diagnostic machine developed by IIT Kharagpur researchers, has been successfully validated for its efficacy in Covid-19 detection by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Various commercial units have already approached the institute for technology licensing to enable a rapid reach of this innovation to the common people.

After rigorous testing with patient samples by an authorised ICMR laboratory, adhering to their strict guidelines, ICMR has now granted certification for this Covid-19 Diagnostic Test. This test has been designed to be fairly easy to conduct and affordable as well and can produce results within one hour.

This new testing method implements a highly reliable & accurate molecular diagnostic procedure, conducted in an ultra-low-cost portable device unit and costs only around Rs 500 per test.

The test results are rendered via a custom-made mobile application for dissemination without requiring manual interpretation.

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Flood-affected families in Hyderabad get Rs 10,000 state assistance

Lokeswara Rao

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Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) has announced that his government will provide financial assistance of Rs 10,000 each to 3-4 lakh families affected by heavy rains and floods in and around Hyderabad.

The minister for municipal administration and urban development, K.T Rama Rao, visited various inundated colonies in the GHMC limits and handed over Rs 10,000 each to the flood-affected residents.

The minister visited MS Maqta and Raj Nagar in Khairatabad, MJ Colony in Shaikpet, Nadeem Colony in Tolichowki, Ayyappa Colony in Nagole, and Lingojiguda in L.B Nagar. 

Speaking at Ayyappa Colony, he said the government is handing over Rs 10,000 to provide temporary relief to the families. 

Officials will soon inspect the damaged houses and submit a report to the government. The government will provide more financial support to the families whose houses were partially/fully damaged, he added. 

He assured the people that the government will come up with permanent solutions to avoid flood-like situations in the city.

Earlier, the minister had held a review meeting with Hyderabad MLAs and MLCs at Pragathi Bhavan. He had instructed the public representatives to stay on the ground for the next 10 days and assist those who need help.

KTR appreciated the MLAs and MLCs decision to donate their two-month salaries to the CM’s Relief Fund and appealed to all elected public representatives, residential welfare associations, and NGOs to come together and support the government’s relief measures.

The minister also asked the MLAs to ensure that financial assistance reached all the affected families in their respective areas. He directed them to visit relief camps and inspect the measures and facilities being provided there.

On the other hand, TRS leaders who are facing the backlash of the public as Uppal TRS MLA Bethi Subhash Reddy tasted a bitter experience during his visit while the locals abused and threatened him not to come back. Even KTR faced the same situation but the timely intervention of police stopped the public anger. 

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TELUGU THEATRES WON’T HAVE A FESTIVE SEASON THIS YEAR

Lokeswara Rao

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Movies for this Dussehra seem to be a distant dream for Telugu people since several top producers and distributors of Tollywood met in Hyderabad about the reopening of theatres and screening of films. However, they got no clarity after the meeting.

The Andhra Pradesh government has already granted permission to reopen the theatres in the state but the Telangana government is yet to grant permissions.

A crucial meeting between Tollywood celebrities and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is planned to take place but has been pushed off because of the ongoing Hyderabad rains.

As per the latest update, theatres across Telugu states will not reopen in November. Most of them rejected the proposal of reopening the theatres as there is not enough content and encouraging conditions.

The meeting concluded after most of the producers suggested 4 December as the ideal date to screen films.

If theatres don’t reopen in Telangana, these would remain shut in Andhra too as it is not possible to release films in a single state with 50% occupancy. Clarity on the reopening of theatres will be attained after the government of Telangana grants permissions. A few crucial meetings are planned in the first week of November to take the final call on the issue.

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HAASAN’S MAHABHARATA REMARK IRKS AIADMK

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AIADMK minister D. Jayakumar has accused actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan of appeasing Hindus over his remarks about the Mahabharata in a Tamil reality TV show ‘Bigg Boss’. Kamal Haasan has recently spoken about the Mahabharata in the show with the reference to the novel written by his friend. Jayamohan.

Kamal Haasan said, “Don’t think why he is speaking about Mahabharata, it is simply not about mystical stories or stories about Gods. It is about the history of our ancestors and information about the culture of the people.”

On reacting to a specific question on Kamal Haasan’s remarks on the Mahabharata and calling it the history of ancestors, Jayakumar called it Hindu appeasement ahead of the 2021 elections. “Kamal is suddenly speaking about Mahabharata only to secure votes of one community ahead of elections,” he said, adding: “No one can understand what Kamal says as he keeps changing his stand.”

Political analysts say that the remarks made by Kamal Haasan should be just seen as stage speech and observe that the actor has always been critical against these beliefs and observed that it is the same Kamal Haasan who said: “saffron is not my colour.”

During the Makkal Nidhi Maiam’s executive council meeting, Kamal Haasan was given all the powers to decide whether to face the election alone or join hands with the like-minded parties.

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