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‘Covid-19 situation will improve after September’

‘It is unlikely that we get a vaccine in the next two months. Right now, everyone is confused,’ says astrologer Dr Aashish Shah.

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Astrologer Dr Aashish Shah makes some interesting predictions about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Renowned astrologer Dr Aashish Shah recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. Dr Shah also works as an Energy and Vastu consultant.

 Speaking on the importance of astrology in the time of Covid-19, he explained how astrologers had actually known of such a pandemic beforehand. “In astrology, there was a lot of talk that there could be a major disease like this coming soon, and that no one would be able to find a cure.” On the issue of the vaccine, he said, “It’s highly unlikely for the next two months that we get a vaccine. Right now, everyone’s really confused.”

Energy management is Dr Shah’s specialty. He feels that negative energy is “running rampant’ through our society at the present moment. “There are two types of energy — positive and negative. When you go into a mandir, the kind of energy you feel there, that’s positive. But these days, especially due to the pandemic, there’s a lot of negative energy going around.”

Dr Shah’s advice is to change our thought processes and our thinking in order to better manage our energy. “Our thinking really impacts our energy greatly. Whatever you think, that eventually manifests itself in the universe. If we throw a ball up, it comes back. If we think positive, then that positivity will come back to us. We need to look at on the bright side of our current condition; did we ever think we’d be able to do all of our work from home? Did we ever think we’d be having this much free time to spend with our loved ones? Life has its ups and downs, and we need to realise that.”

 During these uncertain times, people are swamped by multiple fears and Dr Shah feels he’s able to provide them with some reassurance. “I try to assuage people’s fears, and tell them look these days will pass, but you need to just focus on yourself right now. Don’t waste the time you’ve got right now, go and seek out and experience divine energy.”

He says it’s not the time for astrology per se; instead, it’s a time to spread a positive message. “These last 3 months, I haven’t done too much astrology, but what I’ve tried to do is provide people with a positive assurance that it will get better.”

Looking ahead towards the future, Dr Shah predicts that there will be an improvement in the fight against Covid-19, after September. “It’s still not over though, there are still a whole lot of cases in India and all across the world. However, if you look at it on a percentage basis, you’ll see that it’s actually not that many. So yes, we have to be careful, and we have to protect ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we keep living in fear of this.”

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Bengal BJP urges Mamata to withdraw statewide lockdown on 5 August

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) West Bengal unit has appealed to the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government to withdraw the statewide lockdown on 5 August, the day on which the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ for the proposed Ram temple is scheduled in Ayodhya.

 “Earlier also the dates were changed four times. There is no harm if it is changed once more. It’s a historic occasion and a proud day for all of us. We have urged the West Bengal government to reconsider and withdraw its decision of enforcing a lockdown on August,” said BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh.

He said the people of Bengal are already saddened by the pandemic and the state government should not increase their burden any further.

“The state government should not create an environment in which people can’t celebrate the occasion of Bhoomi Pujan,” Ghosh said.

Earlier, the state government had declared a statewide lockdown on seven non-consecutive days in August. The first lockdown of the month is slated to be enforced on Wednesday (August 5).

The state BJP also urged people to play conch shells and ring bells to celebrate the occasion on August 5. In the evening, it requested people to light up earthen lamps or diyas at every home to mark the celebration.

 With IANS inputs

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Congress’ family-oriented politics not in sync with new India’s ethos

Several leaders have left the Congress in recent times due to the party’s inherent feudal set up where a family holds the key to all big decisions.

Vishwas Pathak

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The blind followers of the Congress have left no stone unturned to accuse the BJP of political engineering in different states to grab power. However, the fact of the matter is that these very same Congress workers turn oblivious to the humiliation being dished out to their meritorious loyalists. The reason for senior Congress leaders leaving the party happens primarily due to the unjustified feudal pattern of politics where the epicentre of decisions will always be marked by autocracy under the garb of democracy.

In addition to the autocratic pattern of functioning, the traits of insecurity amidst the Gandhi-Vadra leadership of the Congress from those who are better suited for the posts further enervates the situation.

The evidence of the Gandhi-Vadra insecurity can be found in their choice of leaders to lead the state of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. While Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot were much suited candidates for the office of chief minister of the respective states politically, but the Congress high command, to avoid comparison with the Gandhi scion, conveniently chose senior leadership for the job.

Sachin Pilot who has created nothing less but a major political turmoil in Rajasthan with his actions has sent out a strong message to the entire country that the people with merits shall hardly ever receive the political blessings from 10, Janpath. While the internal Congress modus-operandi now more or less stands exposed with such incidents from across the country, another reason why leaders with caliber and political acumen are leaving the Congress is the strong, decisive and influential leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the current times, whosoever plunges into politics, they are professionals who could have excelled in any given profession, however, chose to work for the betterment of society. The consequence of this is that the stakes for such leaders are very high. Such intellectual cadres who operate purely on merit get frustrated when they are compelled to work under leaders who have the identity of indecisiveness, incompetency along with a severe lack of political will. The end result being, these cadres finally change their status of being ‘right person in the wrong party’ to becoming ‘right person in the right party’.

One can easily differentiate the Congress from the BJP from the simple fact that even a person with elementary knowledge of Indian politics can tell who would lead the grand old party, while even the tallest of the leaders in the BJP cannot claim to know knowledge about the next party president.

 Even in Maharashtra, prior to the 2019 elections, one of the well-known political faces of the Congress, Vikhe Patil, had joined the BJP. Likewise, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Narayan Rane was also inducted into the BJP. Not only are the people of this nation but even the leaders within the Congress not interested in the feudal set up of politics at a time when a viable democratic alternative is available.

Hence, the false narrative which has been created by the Congress that the BJP is involved in political engineering is completely wrong. Followed by the exit of Sachin Pilot from the Congress, rumours have been doing rounds that Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh could be replicated in Maharashtra as well.

In Maharashtra, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s foundation was based on an unnatural understanding driven by political opportunism. While the public mandate was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, the people’s trust was breached when the Shiv Sena joied hands with the Congress and the NCP to grab power in the state.

Therefore, considering the nature of the MVA alliance, the current state government in Maharashtra will fall on to their own as the rifts between these parties have already started to come out in the open. It is no longer in the concealed space that the MVA government is run by an extra-constitutional power — NCP supreme Sharad Pawar. And when governments are run by an extraconstitutional power, they are likely to fall sooner or later under the weight of their own opportunistic politics.

Hence, to make a comment that the case of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will also happen in Maharashtra where the BJP will engineer the same is wrong. The nation rejected the Congress’ ideology long back in 2014 and 2019. Now their style of politics is rejected even by their own party loyalists. It’s obvious the Congress’ family-oriented politics is not in sync with new India and its aspirations.

 The author is media head and spokesperson of Maharashtra BJP.

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Blending the best of global education

Is this the watershed moment in Indian education history? A peep into the education system the world over will help throw better light on the new National Education Policy.

Subramanian Krishnamoorthy

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Education is a national building tool that is historically linked to the progress of all nations. With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality, a significant gender gap and an urgent need to boost inclusive growth in many countries, India has no time to lose in providing the best education possible for all students. The announcements made in NEP-2020 are a signal to the world that India is setting the stage for conquering 2020-2030. NEP-2020 is a harbinger of hope, progress and a potluck of great practices from across the globe.

National Research Foundation

The race to the top of the world often begins with the prowess of research and intellectual property that it holds in the form of patents and innovations. NRF that will be set up through an Act of Parliament to fund, mentor, incentivise and build capacity for quality research across the country in all disciplines will allow India to compete with the US and China. The amount of wealth and opportunities R&D can create is humongous and let me take you through some numbers. Between September 2018 and August 2019 Stanford received $49.3 million in gross royalty revenue from 875 technologies for subjects as varied as antibody therapies, data analytics, digital music, recombinant DNA, etc. Forty-nine of the inventions generated $100,000 or more in royalties and five inventions generated $1 million or more. The race for research and patents was dominated by the US and Japan until 2000 and in the last decade, China has upped its ante and is among the top three in the world. NEP’s clear vision to promote research will yield dividends in the long run when we will start seeing India in an annual report published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation alongside or ahead of China.

Teacher Education

 Schools with outstanding performance are schools where teachers learn — not only students.

Though Finland is often quoted as an exemplar model of education, The Finnish story was the result of a long, slow and steady process, not the result of a single policy, programme or administration. Most observers have come to believe that, if there is a key to the success of the Finnish system, it is the quality of their teachers which is an outcome of restructuring teacher education, with the responsibility for teacher training moving to Finland’s universities.

Similarly, NEP aims to ensure that teachers are given the highest quality training in content, pedagogy and practice by moving the teacher education system into multidisciplinary colleges and universities. NEP brings focus on universal high-quality teacher education, typically one to four years in duration, featuring extensive clinical training as well as coursework. Apart from mentoring for all beginners, a reduced teaching load and shared planning time would add impetus to the initiative.

Curriculum Revamp: Integration

The boldest of the decisions in NEP come in the curriculum. Kudos to the new Ministry of Education for breaking the barrier of subjects and giving birth to an integrated curriculum that will allow children to pursue learning holistically without the restrictions often imposed by subject boundaries. The important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking, citizenship, character development and communication transcend the disciplines. Thus, it makes sense that curriculum integration offers an effective way to teach and maintain these 21stcentury capabilities and possibly boost academic achievement. The US has successfully demonstrated the working of STEM where science, technology, engineering and mathematics were integrated. The evolution of STEAM from STEM to include arts is remarkable and NEP has a similar vision.

Reduction of syllabus

 The proposed reduction in the syllabus could be a double-edged sword and we have a lesson to learn from the yutori (relaxation) education reform of Japan. The yutori education policy is a set of school reforms that were aimed at depressurising school life which had been gradually introduced since the late 1970s and faded out in the 2000s. It is primarily known for large cutbacks in subject contents and school hours. The yutori reforms did not lessen the pressure on students to do well in school nor did they reduce the competition in the educational race significantly. Instead, new demands were created over the last two decades, which are likely to be filled by the Japanese juku-industry (Local tutoring/coaching). There are many other interesting developments including support for gifted students, mental and physical health and well-being of all students, books with local content and multilingualism that are commendable.

 The need to draw parallels between the proposed educational reforms and developments across the globe arose as we are witnessing a new India emerging in the world map which is happy to share the gift of yoga and willing to imbibe the best practices from everywhere. Rising India gives equal importance to its roots as much as it does to its wings. This new India and the people driving such policies are making unprecedented efforts to give birth to a pulsating and dynamic country. An India that aims to be among the top three economies in the world and that dares to make bold decisions to get there. Will the NEP act as the compass while India sets its sail to conquer the world? Only time will tell.

The author is a well-known educationist and CEO of Meccademia Education Group with its presence in UAE, Netherlands and US.

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India doing 5 lakh Covid-19 tests daily: Harsh Vardhan

In the last 24 hours, a record 52,123 coronavirus cases were reported in the country, taking the total tally to 15,83,792.

Aishvarya Jain

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India reported over 50,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time since the pandemic broke out. This is the biggest one-day spike in cases so far. In the last 24 hours, 52,123 Covid-19 cases were reported, taking the total tally to 15,83,792, while 775 have died in the last 24 hours which took the total tally of fatalities to 34,968. The total number of people who have recovered is 10,20,582 and the recovery rate is 64.43%, while the positivity rate is 11.67%. Union minister Harsh Vardhan said, “India is currently conducting around five lakh Covid-19 tests every day and the plan is to double the number in the next one-two months.”

Maharashtra reported 266 deaths and 11,147 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases have now reached 4,11,798 including 2,48,615 recovered cases and 1,48,150 active cases.

Delhi reported 1,093 new Covid-19 positive cases, while 1091 patients got recovered and 29 people died due to deadly virus in the last 24 hours. The total cases rose to 1,34,403 including 1,19,724 recovered so far. In the national capital, 3,936 have so far scumbled to death due to coronavirus.

Karnataka reported 6,128 new Covid-19 cases and 83 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases in the state stands at 1,18,632 including 69,700 active cases and 2,230 deaths.

Tamil Nadu reported 5,864 new cases and 97 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 2,39,978 cases and 3,838 deaths till date. 5,295 patients were discharged today. The state has 57,962 cases still active.

Andhra Pradesh reported highest single-day spike of 10,167 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total cases in the state to 1,30,557, including 1,281 deaths and 60,024 cases of discharge. Haryana reported 623 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of cases in the state to 34,254. There are 6,497 active cases while death toll stands at 417.

Gujarat reported yet another highest single-day spike of 1,159 Covid-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours. The state’s tally rose to 60,285, including 13,793 active cases; 44,074 patients have been discharged from different hospitals across the state. The death toll stands at 2,418 in the state so far.

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3 Assam Rifles soldiers killed near India-Myanmar border

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Three Assam Rifles personnel were killed and five injured in an ambush near India-Myanmar border at Chandel area in Manipur on Wednesday night. A senior government officer said that a group of 15 soldiers were returning from an area dominance patrol at Khongtal in Chandel area when an improvised explosive device exploded. Thereafter they came under heavy fire from the members of an insurgent group.

“On 29 July, 2020, an area domination patrol in Khongtal, Chandel dist, Manipur. At 18:45 hrs the patrol party got ambushed on their way back,” said a senior government officer.

The incident happened about three kilometers from the India-Myanmar border. They were returning to their post after three days of operation along the international border. The deceased have been identified as Havildar Pranay Kalita, Rifleman Y.M. Konyak and Rifleman Ratan Salim. The five jawans who sustained “minor injuries” have been shifted to the military hospital. The government has stated that no insurgent group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

 “The local administration and intelligence agencies are working to identify the insurgent group which carried out the attack on the patrolling party,” said a senior government officer.

Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force under Union Home Ministry, comprises of Indian Army soldiers and officers and their own cadre officials and officers.

On June 23, a report published by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) stated that Indian insurgents from the country’s north eastern states, who have been sheltered for years in Myanmar, present security challenges for India.

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J&K govt says claims of Soz detention false, SC closes case

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday closed the habeas corpus petition filed by senior Congress leader and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz’s wife challenging his detention order. The Jammu & Kashmir administration informed the apex court that Soz was not placed under detention.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah disposed the plea stating that the counter affidavit filed by the Jammu & Kashmir administration said that there was no restriction on Soz’s movements.

“The averments in the present petition, in respect to house arrest/detention of Prof Saifuddin Soz are false, frivolous and baseless, as he has not been detained at all, let alone under the provisions of Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, as alleged in the petition under reply,” said the J&K administration.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Soz, argued on the contradictory stand of the government. Singhvi insisted that one fine day in August, the government put him under detention, and in the counter affidavit said he is not under detention.

Justice Mishra replied that the affidavit stated that he had travelled outside of J&K. Singhvi contended that his client was not well, and he had only travelled for medical reasons. “It is submitted that the petitioner has attempted to mislead this court by placing unsubstantiated and wrong facts of his alleged detention before this court… it is respectfully submitted that no restriction whatsoever has ever been imposed on the movement of Prof Soz, who is a categorised protectee,” said the counter affidavit.

The bench said in view of the reply filed, the plea is disposed of. “We will not entertain it any further,” said the top court.

With IANS inputs

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