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Covid-19 protocols not followed in Maharashtra, 2 other states: Centre

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Amid the massive surge in Covid-19 infections in the country, the Centre on Sunday wrote to Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab over reports submitted by Central health teams regarding Covid-19 testing and containment operations, hospital infrastructure and vaccination to contain the virus spread.

In the letters addressed to the three states, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that a brief summary of key performance indicators related to testing, hospital infrastructure and vaccination, as reported by the health teams, has been shared and asked state or district administrations to take appropriate corrective measures.

30 Central teams were deployed to the worst-affected districts in Maharashtra. After feedback from them, Bhushan pointed out that containment operations were suboptimal in Satara, Sangli and Aurangabad, with less than satisfactory perimeter control and a lack of active surveillance for influenza-like illness (lLl) cases.

“Efforts at surveillance and contact tracing were

found to be sub-optimal in Buldhana, Satara, Aurangabad and Nanded, mostly due to limited manpower engaged in this task. The team from Bhandara has reported that most cases are being reported from outside of containment zones. This requires increasing the areas of containment zones or notifying new containment zones,” the health secretary stated.

Feedback on the testing capacity in Satara, Bhandara, Palghar, Amrawati, Jalna and Latur districts is that it is already overwhelmed, resulting in delay in reporting of test results. The Central teams from Nanded and Buldana have reported a very skewed RT-PCR/RAT ratio. Community resistance to Covid-19 testing has also been reported from Bhandara district, Bhushan observed.

“ln Bhandara and Satara, a large percentage of Covid-19 patients are under home isolation, which requires rigorous follow up to minimize mortality. Such follow up is not happening presently. It was also observed that delayed reporting by patients to definitive treatment centres in Satara district is leading to a large number of deaths within the first 72 hours of hospital admission,” the letter further noted.

The Central team also highlighted that occupancy rates of available hospital beds are very high in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nandurbar.

“Team to Aurangabad reported dependency of the district on neighbouring districts for management of critical patients and critical care infrastructure upgradation thereon. Medical oxygen supply was found to be an issue in Bhandara, Palghar, Osmanabad and Pune. Malfunctioning ventilators have been reported by teams from Satara and Latur. Hospital-level and district-level oxygen planning must start without any delay, as per the guidance issued by this Ministry,” the letter added.

An acute shortage of healthcare workforce has also been reported by the teams from Aurangabad, Nandurbar, Yawatmal, Satara, Palghar, Jalgoan and Jalna. The rostering of healthcare workers and hiring of contractual health workers need to be expedited as well. The letter also noted that data management in Satara and Ahmednagar is facing issues due to a shortage of manpower.

“Adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour was found to be lacking by almost all Central teams that visited the districts. This would require greater enforcement effort,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, in the letter to the Government of Chhattisgarh, Rajesh Bhushan noted that containment zones are not strictly observed and RT-PCR tests are also decreasing.

“The team from Raipur, Jashpur has reported a lack of perimeter control in containment zones. There appears to be no restriction on movement of people inside containment zones too. Hence, containment zone including micro containment zones need to be strictly implemented,” the letter said,

“Contact tracing efforts need to be reinforced in Korba. Resistance (even attacks on healthcare workers) to containment activities and testing was reported by the team from Dhaneli Village, Raipur. This needs to be addressed on an urgent basis,” Bhushan added.

Highlighting the low testing rate in the districts of Chattisgarh, the letter further read, “A lack/shortage of RT-PCR testing facilities in Korba, Durg, Balod districts is leading to increased testing turnaround time. Similarly, limited RT-PCR testing capacity was alsoreported from Balod. State may facilitate RT-PCR testing by exploring the use of mobile testing labs.”

According to feedback received from the Central teams, patient referral in Durg is being hampered by the unavailability of an adequate number of ambulances and it needs to be strengthened without any delay.

Bhushan also noted that hospital bed occupancy rates are high in Balod, Raipur, Durg and Mahasamund. “The district administration needs to ramp up hospital infrastructure and other logistical requirements to meet any demand arising due to surge in cases. Similarly, shortage ofRemdesivir, Low Molecular Weight Heparin needs urgent attention in Korba,” Union Health Secretary added.

The feedback also highlighted limited availability of oxygen and oxygen wastage in Raipur. “District-level and hospital-level oxygen planning must start in all districts, as per the formal guidance of this Ministry,” the letter suggested.

Further, a shortage in workforce was reported in Durg, Jashpur and Rajnandangaon. The letter advised that rostering for healthcare workers and contractual appointments be explored in Chhattisgarh too.

Bhushan also said that there is a need for refresher training of surveillance teams and vaccinators in Balod and Korba, respectively.

“The teams have also reported non-adherence to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour by the public. Overcrowding and no physical distancing was observed in the vaccination centre visited by the team in Rajnandangaon. There is a need for enhancing IEC activity efforts in Durg district and strengthening enforcement effort across all districts,” observed the letter.

The Health Ministry deployed Central teams to 11 of the most-affected districts in Chhattisgarh. They were tasked to work along with District Health Authorities on Covid-19 preparedness and response, with a focus on testing, contact tracing and containment operations, Covid-appropriate behaviour and its enforcement, hospital infrastructure and the availability of logistics, and vaccinations.

Finally, in Punjab, the Ministry noted that there is a need to enhance focus on contact tracing in Patiala and Ludhiana. Contact tracing and surveillance in SAS Nagar are being hampered due to shortage of manpower and additional workforce must be deployed, Bhushan said in his letter to the Punjab health secretary.

Feedback from the northern state showed that there is no dedicated Covid hospital in SAS Nagar and Rupnagar, and patients are being referred to neighbouring districts or Chandigarh. Low rates of testing were reported from Patiala and the unavailability of RT-PCR testing labs in Rupnagar. These need to be addressed, said the letter from the Centre.

Hospital bed occupancy rates in some districts are high and arrangements must be made by authorities to deal with the surge in cases, the letter suggested. The Central teams also reported issues with the procurement of ventilators in SBS Nagar and less than optimum use of ventilators in Rupnagar due to a workforce shortage. A shortage in workforce was reported in Patiala and SAS Nagar. The Centre’s letter said that contractual hiring of health workers can address the problem.

Further, it said that Patiala and Ludhiana have reported a slow pace of vaccination among people above 45 years with co-morbidities and those above 60 years.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been actively engaging with states in coordinating and collaborating preparedness and response to Covid-19, said all the letters, adding that the Centre has taken note of issues related to vaccine availability in the states, and required action to augment supplies will be taken based on available stock.

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I always go to a place, soak in the vibe, and then think about what I can create: Nidhi Khurana

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Nidhi Khurana is a travel content creator who loves exploring offbeat places. Her content inspires young women to take the road less travelled when it comes to recreational travel. We hosted Nidhi for a frank interview for our latest series, NewsX Influencer A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

We first asked Nidhi to describe her experience with being a travel content creator, to which she told us, “To be very honest, people think that travelling and content creation is an easy job and it is enjoyable, which it is at times, but when it becomes your job, it gets tedious. You are caught up in so many things that you actually forget to enjoy the place.” Summing up her experiences, she said, “So this is what happens with me. I love what I do, I love travelling, but at times I miss out on experiencing things because I’m busy recording them for my audience.” 

Nidhi believes that spontaneity is what keeps her going. She said, “I’m the kind of person who is very spontaneous about things. I do not preplan my shoots. I always go to a place, soak in the vibe, and then think about what I can create for this beautiful place, for my audience.” She also spoke about the technical side of content creation, “When it comes to shooting, editing, it is a whole lot of process, to be very honest. It, at times, takes a toll on you but I believe if you love something, if you’re passionate about something, you just do it.” 

We were then curious to know Nidhi’s views about the struggles that women often go through while travelling solo. Nidhi shared with us, “So, travelling as a woman comes with pros, as well as cons. Pros in the way that at times if there is a long queue and most of the people in the queue are males, and if they see you standing there, they, out of generosity, would let you cut to the beginning of the queue.” She then lists some tips for women travelling alone. “I have been travelling since two years ago but I have not really come across anything that would make me feel unsafe and the key point here would be you choosing the right place and the right moment. It’s on us how we keep ourselves safe because we cannot guess what the other person has in their mind,” said Nidhi. She also advised women to properly research their place of stay and carry pepper spray, among other things. 

For our next question, we asked Nidhi about her best travel experience, to which she narrated about her trip to Goa that she had to, unfortunately, cut short. “That was a very beautiful experience for me in the sense that I got to discover myself. I have been to Goa many times, but this time I had thought that I’ll be exploring the unexplored Goa – the Goa that is beyond beaches,” she said. Narrating the experience further, Nidhi said, “So, I went for forest hikes and I, literally, saw one of the most offbeat beaches in Goa. So this was one of my best travel experiences to date because I was able to rediscover myself as a person, myself as a creator.”

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ART EXHIBITION UNRAVELS DICHOTOMY, MULTIPLICITY OF URBAN LANDSCAPE

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On a busy Saturday evening at the Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi, amidst the intellectual conversations, the setting sun and the aroma of filter coffee in the air, stood a shiny white exhibition room, with huge pieces of monochromatic art hung at the walls and people silently observing them, then murmuring something and then looking again.

A new art exhibition titled ‘Layered Dichotomy’ by Delhi-based artist Shruti Binay is being presented in this room at the Triveni Gallery, Mandi House, from November 21 to 30. Shruti, a young, budding artist, through this exhibition of paintings, drawings and mixed media works, attempts to “embrace life’s multiplicity”.

Talking about what inspired this collection, Shruti told ANI, “I am fascinated with the things around me. I stay in Gurgaon, so, for me, buildings, metro bridges, structures, architecture have always fascinated me. I have simplified those structures into lines and forms. I find the urban landscape interesting because I think I see life in it. You see the fabric in some of these paintings, that gives a different kind of life to the piece. In all my paintings you will see something moving, the sense of life is there in most of them.”

She added, “I have tried to include human forms as well because that is the best way to express myself, by connecting with my own self. Most of the paintings have been liked by people and I see the ones with human forms are being liked the most, as people most easily can connect to them.”

In the exhibition the theme of the collection revolves around dichotomy, and it could be seen and reflected in varied ways from one piece to another.

“I like to play with the medium, so in my paintings, you would see different layers created, with different kinds of textures such as paper, fabric, I’ve used tea bags and paper pulp, old paper. There’s a plane surface, and then there is a textured surface as well. Somewhere there is strength and somewhere it’s all worn out. Mostly they are monochromatic, with a wash-off look…but then some colours like blues, greens, reds stand out in other places. That’s the dichotomy I’ve tried to present,” she explained.

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URANUS COLLECTS OVER 2.5 TONS OF USED COOKING OIL TO TURN IT INTO BIODIESEL

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Providing a commercially viable solution to the food industry to dispose of its used cooking oils (UCO), Uranus Oil Corp, a Chennai-based startup in renewable energy and waste management solutions, collects UCO for a price and supplies them to manufacture biodiesel, a cleaner and greener form of diesel.

Uranus has recently set a record by collecting over 2.5 tonnes of UCO in a month from restaurants, hostels, canteens and other similar sources in and around Chennai. UCO poses a threat to human health, when consumed, and to the environment, when dumped untreated. Hence, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and Biodiesel Association of India, have recently launched the Repurpose UCO (RUCO) program, to prevent UCO from getting into the food supply chain or the environment, and to use it for producing biofuel.

Uranus is an authorised UCO aggregator, enrolled in the RUCO program. The company distributes ‘RUCO cans’ to hotels, hostels, canteens, and other such outlets to collect the UCO, and supplies the collected oil to Pan Oleo Energy Limited (formerly, DCI Limited), a large-scale biodiesel manufacturer and renewable energy company in Tamil Nadu, which converts UCO into biodiesel, a cleaner and greener form of diesel.

Uranus is scaling up its operations rapidly in order to collect about 15 tonnes of UCO per day by the end of 2022.

In his comments, Mr. Vasanth JB, Co-founder of Uranus Oil Corp, said, “Edible oils are the primary source of unsaturated fats and vitamin E in human diets. They are used in frying, baking, and other types of cooking and food preparations in restaurants, fast foods and households. However, when cooking oils are reheated again and again, they release toxic substances. These oils also increase free radicals in the body which in turn cause inflammation and various chronic diseases. If there is no alternative to collect UCO, they could find their way to smaller restaurants, dhabas, and street vendors or be discarded in an environmentally hazardous manner. Our model offers a commercially appealing and effective solution in this space.”

UCO is a key ingredient in making biofuel, specifically biodiesel which can be used as an alternative to conventional petrodiesel.

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Tiktok rival Lomotif launches in India

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With Tiktok’s ban in India, the country continues to witness a rise in content creators, who continue to experiment with short video formats, and apps that become a voice for them to showcase their talent, we have yet another popular US-based app: ‘Lomotif’ joins the bandwagon.

Featuring the currently popular short video format, the app has entered the Indian market at just about the right time with the space constantly evolving. Founded by Singapore-based Paul Yang in 2014, and acquired by ZASH Global Media and Entertainment, the app gives access to a global audience, and its patent technology allows users to immerse themselves in a super-engaging reel format of content. At the same time, with a comprehensive platform such as ‘Lomotif’, competitors should be alert because they are here to stand out.

Since TikTok was banned, the country has seen several local apps emerge and try to stir creators into telling their stories. LOMOTIF, firstly, does not just want the users to create their stories, but do so uniquely and in a way that will make their audience ‘move’ by just being themselves.

Secondly, they want the creators to create and foster global partnerships and that itself makes them a winner. So, with pre-build editing and mixing available and constant endeavors by the app creators to localize content for the Indian audience, we sure have a winner materialising.

‘We were very excited with the initial response to the beta testing of our app in India, which led to launching the app in India with the support from Socialkyte, our strategic partner. The content creation market is ever-growing and LOMOTIF will emerge as a platform where we can see a spirit of collaboration, build a community of creators who want to showcase their realness via their content and a source of entertainment for the viewers. I thoroughly enjoyed the launch and the response was overwhelming.’ says Ted Farnsworth, Chairman & Co-Founder of ZASH Global Media and Entertainment.

Gurjot Batra, Co-founder of Socialkyte says “We always believed Lomotif would be a huge success in India and to see our initial response from the Indian market even exceeded our expectations.”

Vidur Mahajan & Bharat Agarwal, co-founders of Socialkyte added, “We believe collaborations are the new economy and are very excited to bring the Lomotif platform to our creators. The app’s advanced editing tools will truly help them explore their talents”

Interestingly, with a soft launch, they have already kickstarted and initiated a dance-off challenge with none other than the Dance King himself i.e. Remo D’souza. They also had several exciting challenges executed like a #DanceRemix with Shakti Mohan spearheading the same. Several artists have already started using the app to launch their music videos.

On a side note, Socialkyte will enable access to their network of 100,000 influencers collaborating and growing together. They have a specialised dashboard with advanced filters that enables brands to find the right creators for their campaigns. With these common goals and interests, this partnership is bound to be a successful one. Taking all of this into consideration, it’s evident that their vision is simple: to get creators to create diversified and unique content to grow exponentially.

The launch this weekend was spearheaded with Ted Farnsworth, highlighting the app features alongwith popular actors like Asim Riaz, Ravi Kishen, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Adaa Khan, Vikkas Manaktala, YouTuber Anushka Sen and singer Tulsi Kumar. The launch also saw singers Shirley Sethia and Guru Randhawa rocking the stage with their performances.

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OUR USP IS TIMELESSNESS: ROHINI SINGH GUPTA, CO-FOUNDER, JUST CHIFFONS

In an exclusive interview with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Rohini Singh Gupta opened up about her brand Just Chiffons, the USP of her company and much more.

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Rohini Singh Gupta, Co-founder, Just Chiffons, recently joined NewsX for an interview as a part of NewsX India A-list. In the exclusive interview, she opened up about her brand Just Chiffons, the USP of her company and much more. Excerpts:

Speaking about her brand Just Chiffons, Rohini said, “Just Chiffons was started by my mother. She wanted to look for nice chiffons for herself in Indore. She could not find it in the market and so she thought she might as well design herself and started making a few. The relatives started coming in and said, ‘it looks so nice, give it to us,’ and that is how we traditionally started. Slowly and steadily, it has become a name in Indore and in India as well. “

Talking about her journey with the brand and how did she come on board, she reminisced, “I would accompany her in her errands the market and sit with her, the workers and just listen and observe. I also studied BSc so it was very different but I always have an interest in being with my mother all the time, when back home in Indore. I had that interest and slowly when I moved back to Indore after my studies, I started taking an even deeper interest. It came naturally sitting with her and talking about sarees and the colours, the designs. It came very naturally.”

When asked about the USP of Just Chiffons, “Basically, I feel our USP is timelessness. The chiffons are so versatile, yet classic. They can be worn over the period of time. It can be passed through generations. They are very elegant.”

Giving us an insight into the first exhibition of Just Chiffons and response over the years, she said “Over the years, initially people said, ‘oh this is back in fashion.’ We have actually revived it again and now they feel okay, it looks really nice. Another point is our price point. They are not that expensive and cost about 8 to 25 thousand, which is very much viable with everybody. The response has been really good. Since we have also launched our website last year and because of our Instagram and social media, it just come up. Slowly and steadily, we are gaining followers and are getting a lot of queries.”

Talking about the impact of Covid on Just Chiffons, she said, “Covid was obviously a shock for us. The first month, everything was cancelled. We didn’t know what to do but we have to look for the benefit of our artisans and our workers.”

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HUNAR HAAT CREATED NEWER OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARTISANS AND CRAFTSMEN: MUKHTAR NAQVI

With 300 stalls, this is the largest participation by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs in the India International Trade Fair this year.

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Union Minister for Minority Affairs and Deputy Leader, Rajya Sabha, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, while speaking at the conclusion of the annual Hunar Haat event, said that the event had generated crores of rupees for artisans and craftsmen who were engaged in making indigenous products.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi at the event

Over 550 artisans and craftsmen from more than 30 States & UTs participated in the 33rd Hunar Haat

Crowd around the stalls of artisans and craftsmen at the event

Over 550 artisans and craftsmen from more than 30 States/UTs participated in the 33rd “Hunar Haat”, organised at India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan from 14 to 27 November.

While talking to reporters on the conclusion of Hunar Haat, Naqvi said that while people purchased indigenous exquisite handmade products worth crores of rupees, the artisans and craftsmen have also received orders worth crores of rupees from national as well as international buyers.

“Hunar Haat” was also awarded the prestigious IITF2021 Silver Medal for strengthening its commitment to “Vocal for Local” and its strong presence at Trade Fair.

According to Naqvi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “mantra” of “Vocal for Local” and “Swadeshi to Swavlamban” have encouraged and promoted India’s traditional and ancestral legacy of handloom-handicraft.

With 300 stalls, this was the largest participation by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs in the India International Trade Fair this year. Canara Bank had set up a stall in the “Hunar Haat” to provide easy loans to artisans and craftsmen for employment and self-employment.

Renowned artists such as Annu Kapoor, Vinod Rathore, Sudesh Bhosale, Roop Kumar Rathore and Sonali Rathore, Suresh Wadekar and Padma Wadekar, Amit Kumar, Mohit Khanna, Prem Bhatia, Osman Mir, Rekha Raaj, Vivek Mishra, Ankita Pathak, Priya Mallick, Bhupendra Singh Bhuppi, Mirza Sisters, Posh James and others made memorable spectacular performances every evening at “Hunar Haat”.

The minister said that Hunar Haat’s virtual and online platform, and GeM portal, have opened enormous opportunities for economic empowerment of artisans and craftsmen. More than 7 lakh artisans, craftsmen and people associated with them have been provided employment and employment opportunities through “Hunar Haat” in the last about 6 years.

The next “Hunar Haat” will be organised at Surat from11 to 20 December; JLN Stadium, New Delhi from 22 December 2021 to 2 January 2022. “Hunar Haats” will also be organised in Mysuru, Guwahati, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Patna, Puducherry, Mumbai, Jammu, Chennai, Chandigarh, Agra, Prayagraj, Goa, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Kota, Sikkim, Srinagar, Leh, Shillong, Ranchi, Agartala and other places in the coming days.

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