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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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ICDMA FOUNDER TO INTRODUCE AI PLATFORM FOR IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING DIGITAL RISKS

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ICDMA is a provider of IT services such as Cyber Forensics, IT Audit, IT Risk Evaluation, and Digital Security. In recent years, it has become a tried-and-true standard for businesses looking to defend their brands, enterprises, and reputations from crippling cyber attacks. They develop and deploy information security platforms and services, both standard and personalised, to protect, evaluate, and respond to cyber threats such as security breaches that occur in your systems and networks. The services they provide include Application and Web Development, Graphic Design, Security Audits, Cyber Security Services, Vulnerability Assessments, Fraud Risk Management, and IT Consultancy.

In addition, the firm achieved awards for being the best Cyber Forensics firm preventing businesses from external threats. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business, or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible and practical solutions to protect you.

Being a cyber security expert and analyst, Dheeraj Kumar has years of experience and stays up-to-date with the current crimes and security trends. He believes that like many other professions, this is a never-ending learning field. They monitor your networks and then analyse them to find common threat patterns or trends. Further, they design software that suits the needs of the problem at hand and ensures that these measures are maintained properly. If, in any case, they encounter a new problem, they utilise their years of experience and knowledge to produce a unique solution.

Witnessing the increased cyber threats, Cybersecurity analyst Dheeraj advises people to use the Internet wisely and productively. Dheeraj is currently working on an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core. Dheeraj’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks.

A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible solutions.

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EXPO 2020 A GLOBAL PLATFORM TO HIGHLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS OF SPACE SECTOR: EMM PROJECT MANAGER

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The six-month Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial window for the participating countries to present their accomplishments across different sectors, and the space sector is one of them. The event will shed light on the development of this sector around the world, emphasising its importance for humans in particular and the planet in general.

Expo 2020 has devoted a full week to space, from 17 to 23 October, during which a dialogue session will be held with Emirati astronauts along with entertainment, art and science activities. Also, information related to space sciences will be disseminated among other related space activities. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said, “This year, the UAE has achieved milestone accomplishments in the space sector by its arrival to Mars, and before that, it had played a key role in stimulating this sector besides the science and technology sectors.”

On the role of Expo 2020 Dubai as a prominent global platform to highlight the country’s achievements in the national space sector, Al Sharaf pointed out that Expo is not only a global event to showcase the cultures of other countries, but rather a platform for presenting scientific, technical and cultural achievements around the world.

He added that one of the reasons for the quick establishment of the space sector in the country “is because this sector depends on international cooperation, and the UAE did not consider its space programme as a race with other countries, but viewed it as an opportunity to cooperate with different nations, which contributed to activating the role of the sector and speeding its development, thus placing the UAE at the forefront of countries in this sector.”

Regarding the most nationally prominent projects in the space sector during the current period, Sharaf said, “The space sector is going through a very important and sensitive stage today, as the UAE has previously invested through the ‘Hope Probe’ project and other related projects to attract knowledge to the country from abroad and build on the capabilities of Emirati youth through knowledge transfer programmes.”

“Today, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the upcoming mission, which is a new space programme to explore planet Venus and seven other [asteroids] in the solar system, the focus will be on transferring knowledge from the UAE space sector to the private sector to create a stimulating environment and support the science and technology sector in the country, and at the same time serve the UAE’s economy is facing various challenges, including water resources and food resources, among others,” he added.

When asked regarding the sector’s participation in the Space Week at Expo 2020, Sharaf said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the various specialised authorities have a great role in Expo. As for Space Week, there are various participations, including lectures, seminars, or receiving various delegations to discuss cooperation in the space sector.

“This is a great opportunity for countries to work together, and we, as the Emirati space sector, have decided to take advantage of this opportunity at Expo to build and strengthen these relations, and it will be the beginning of greater cooperation and ambitious projects across the world and the region.”

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IIT KANPUR STUDY EXPLAINS THE SUCCESS OF COVID-19 CONTROL MODEL OF UTTAR PRADESH

The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.

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The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the health system across India. Most states struggled to prevent the surge in cases and ensure adequate supply as the virus created a situation of upheaval. However, a recent study led by Padma Shri Awardee Prof. Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur elaborates that with careful planning, multiple strategies and close monitoring Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 response model turned out to be more effective in comparison with many other states.

TABLE 1: NTPR DURING THE SECOND WAVE

Source: IIT Kanpur studyGraph 1: Source: Prowess monthly employment database

The data points out that the daily case count was brought down to just 1,497 on 31 May after the peak of 38,000 was recorded on 24 April. It can be noted that the reduction in numbers happened quite fast in the state as compared with many other ones, for example, Maharashtra and Kerala, which supports the study’s arguments.

Beginning with the foremost concern of reducing the spread, the UP model followed the Test, Trace, Treat, Tackle (TTTT) approach. Under the strategy, the TTTT teams were instated in rural UP to conduct door to door testing, enabling early detection and ensuring isolation and treatment. These TTTT teams covered around 97,941 villages. Niti Aayog and WHO also lauded the efforts of the state in conducting a mammoth house-to-house testing and tracing drive, supported by micro-planning and concurrent follow-ups. As highlighted by the IIT-Kanpur study, other measures of the state involved capacity building through intensive training on all major aspects of Covid-19, provision of infrastructures like ICU beds, ventilators, and creation of safety nets and incentives via state and central funding schemes (PMJJBY, PMSBY, AKBY, etc.).

While preventing the surge in cases was one aspect of the model, the government also managed the high demand crisis of oxygen resounding throughout the nation then. To tackle the surge in demand the government set up an oxygen monitoring system to track oxygen tankers and rolled out a stringent oxygen audit which saved around 30 MT of oxygen per day. Also, the state’s strategy to airlift empty tankers with the help of IAF lessened the turnaround time saving 10 hours. Apart from ensuring these, the model also addressed the concerns regarding the livelihood of the people. With the commitment to save the lives and livelihoods of people, the UP government did not resort to strict lockdowns and opted for partial curfews to break the Covid-19 chain. And, adapting to the situation of the pandemic, the government supplied policies for ease of mobility (separate buses and trains for migrant workers), employability (DBT 1000 to migrants) and sustenance (cash transfers to marginalised sections). The study also states that such measures helped in keeping the unemployment rate below the national average as depicted in the graph below.

Formulated on the four essential pillars of protection of livelihood, optimisation of economy, facilitation of healthcare services and restriction of virus spread, it has been pointed through the study that the UP Covid-19 model has created a benchmark. The study then draws a comparison among the states based on the Normalised Test Positivity Rate (NTPR) which is the ratio of Test Positivity Ratio and percentage of active cases. It shows that the strategy of the UP model was to aggressively change the pandemic which helped in the control.

Furthermore, the study also found that the timing of the containment measures was near-optimal, which in any other situation could have caused a peak of more than 70,000 daily cases as shown in the graph below.

Nonetheless, the second wave has dealt a heavy blow to not just India’s but globally existing health infrastructure, unveiling a systemic failure that led many to conclude that no model or strategy is perfect. This points towards a large scope of improvement for all state administrations and governing bodies.

The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.

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58 abstracts pertain to research in Covid-19 at PGIMER

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Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research has been included for the showcase for the 8TH Annual Research Day at the institute.

“With 576 abstracts received, the highest so far, there has been an overwhelming response for the 8th Annual Research Day of PGIMER which is being celebrated on 22nd October. Another first this year is the compilation of H index from all the departments, which measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications. Basically, through this, the intent is to monitor our strengths as well as our areas of improvement in the domain of research in the institute,” stated Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER while briefing at the curtain-raiser organised for the upcoming Annual Research Day here at PGIMER today.

“With the two more categories added this year from NIPS and NINE in the earlier categories of medical, and surgical and para clinical, 47 awards will be given to the best entries including all categories,” shared Gupta.

Detailing about the mandate of the Annual Research Day, the dean (Research) further shared, “The end objective of any research is to bring in more and more innovation and translate them into excellent clinical services for the masses. With the remarkable research contributions by the participants, we are hopeful of further upskilling our clinical services, thereby, helping our patients.”

Another senior faculty present included Prof. Vishali Gupta, Deptt. of Ophthalmology, Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences, Dr Arnav Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC and Prof. Ramandeep Singh, Deptt. of Ophthalmology.

Citing personalised medicine as the future, Prof. Vishali Gupta from Deptt. of Ophthalmology, PGIMER called the event a landmark opportunity for collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge among the luminaries within the institute.

While giving her perspective on Annual Research Day Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences shared, “The Research Day connotes the need for teamwork, mentorship and synergy among various departments and institutes.

Dr Arnab Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC, who has been closely involved in putting together the Annual Research Day stated, “Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in PGIMER has been included for the showcase.”

“Annual Research Day instils a sense of competition among the young fellow doctors and makes them more aspirational by raising the bar for them’, said Prof. Ramandeep from Deptt. of Ophthalmology.

Briefing further, Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER informed, “The Annual Research Day will have the august presence of two eminent medical scientists of the country, Prof. Y.K. Chawla, former Director and Prof. Digambar Behera, former Dean (Research) of PGIMER as Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively.”

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PM Modi showers praise on Haryana CM Khattar

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JHAJJAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely inaugurated the newly constructed Infosys Foundation Vishram Sadan in the National Cancer Institute campus located in the Badsha area of Jhajjar district.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated Vishram Sadan at Badsa NIC, Jhajjar to the nation, through video conferencing.

Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal, Health Minister Anil Vij, BJP State President Omprakash Dhankhar, and MP from Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, Dr Arvind Sharma were present in the inauguration ceremony at Badsa NCI campus.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy joined the video conference. During the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praise on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

“Haryana has got the most honest Chief Minister in the last five decades. I have been with Manoharlalji for a long time but after becoming the Chief Minister, his talent has shone even more,” Prime Minister Modi said.

“The Central government on several counts has learnt from the methods of the Haryana government. I congratulate Manoharlalji for his successful efforts,” added the Prime Minister.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria was also present at the opening ceremony.

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PUNJAB CM URGES POLICE TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE, TRANSPARENT POLICING ACROSS THE STATE

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Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday asked the Police force to ensure effective, efficient and transparent policing across the state to instil confidence of the general public in the law and order machinery.

Prioritising the challenges being faced by the state, Channi asked the entire police force right from top brass to the bottom to work in unison to eradicate corruption, break the drug supply chain, illicit liquor trade and curb the sand mafia with heavy hand. The Chief Minister categorically said that the police should develop a system to identify the drug peddlers/smugglers who were supplying drugs to our youth so as to fell prey to this menace.

Chairing the first meeting after assuming the charge as Chief Minister here at CMO this evening, Channi asked the officers to discharge their duties with utmost dedication; honesty and professional commitment so that the people should feel the difference and a message to this effect must go down the line.

Showing grave concern over the adulteration of food products like milk, cheese and other dairy products, the Chief Minister asked the police department to launch a vigorous campaign in tandem with the health department to crack down on such unscrupulous elements, who were playing havoc with the health of the people. He also asked the ACS Home to rope in the vigilance teams to trap these adulterators indulging in such inhuman practices.

The Chief Minister further said that all the officers who have been recently posted on new assignments strictly on their merit and track record should now perform their duties diligently to effectively deliver the goods in terms of reposing the trust of common man in the policing. Channi categorically said that none of any person without any fault should be implicated in false cases or harassed unnecessarily by keeping them under illegal custody.

The Chief Minister also asked the SSPs to issue detailed directions to all the DSPs and SHOs to ensure that the petty shopkeepers especially the vendors should not be fleeced by taking money from them in lieu of allowing them to put stalls for selling crackers and other items during the coming Diwali. He also asked the police to firmly deal with those anti-social elements indulging in the malpractices of betting/gambling and be given the exemplary punishment as deterrents for others without showing any laxity. He however said the patrolling especially at night during the festival season should be intensified to avoid any untoward incident.

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