“We proved that we are still people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges,” these were the words of former US President Barack Obama who took the challenges head-on and managed to steer his country through the crisis resulting from economic asphyxiation. “Yes, We Can” call that Obama transformed the recession-hit USA into a nation that regained its past flourishing economic glory.
That is exactly how India needs to overcome the present challenges in economic, health, and other related key sectors, in the wake of the Covid-induced pandemic. “Yes, We Will” should be the guiding slogan for India amid the current crisis. Even though the Covid-driven crisis is assuming complicated proportions, India can and will overcome it. If Obama demonstrated that ‘success comes in cans, not in can’ts’, India can show “where there is a will, there’s a way.” India will use the present crisis as an opportunity to gain new heights on the horizon of development and growth.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose “Yes We Will”approach fetched the country many laurels so far, is capable of rising to the occasion. There is no denying that so far his tenure is marked with so many achievements, however, there are challenges galore, with a strong negative perception also. What PM Modi has to do is to first break this negative perception and then use the crisis to consolidate everything that would go into the creation of a “New India” which he dreamt of and spoke a lot about.
Several hurdles to growth objectives have to be removed if PM Modi has to fulfil his vow to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024. Strong leadership with massive willpower and positivity can lead to meaningful steps towards that goal. The only collective voice of “Yes We Will” from a 1.3 billion-strong nation can crush the crisis. When Obama took reins of America, the gloomy wind of economic recession coupled with negativity was sweeping across the country. Similarly, an atmosphere of despondency was prevailing in India when Narendra Modi formed the government in 2014. His dream and vision of “New India” did cut ice with the people. There have been several innovative and outstanding decisions and subsequent successful implementation on social and economic governance issues over the last seven years. Obama indeed converted the crisis into a much-needed opportunity to transform the US and handled the serious economic challenges, which cost millions of Americans their homes and jobs. The economic stimulus package announced by him helped the US tide over the crisis. One may recall that PM Modi had given the call to convert the Covid-induced crisis into an opportunity during the first wave of the pandemic.
Challenges could be the game-changer if tackled with determination, vision, and a positive attitude. The sectors which merit immediate and much-focused attention are related to what affects the lives of the masses. Strengthening the areas of governance will be a major weapon. With a performer government in place, as suggested by the track record so far, goals could be achievable. Economy, vaccination, health, education, unemployment, and negative perception are areas where the government faces major challenges that need to be taken care of on a priority basis to take the country out of its current situation. The economic slowdown turned into a contraction due to the pandemic. The deadly second wave caught the country off guard. Unfortunately, a pandemic does not come with a playbook, and India, like many other nations, has been learning and framing the rules as it progresses through this pandemic. The ongoing economic reforms in various sectors, including banking and agriculture, have faced a slow-down. There are reports about how the rural economy has suffered. Job losses on a massive scale have also been reported. The lockdown shut several businesses and threw people out of their jobs, pandemic and consequent lockdown have made the unemployment situation worse. As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), in May, the rural unemployment rate in rural areas and cities reached 13.5% 17.4%, respectively. The national unemployment rate climbed to a new high of 14.7%. Certainly, the government will have to address this.
Now the question is what the government can do. What has been noticed in the past was PM Modi’s immense focus on microeconomics and this should be given fresh impetus. The bold push for encouraging market forces should be given, in view of the agrarian economy having been struck significantly by the pandemic. Empowering grassroots institutions could be effective. What is being suggested by many economic experts is the need to promote MSME down to rural areas to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. It is good that the government has made free ration available to the poor and those who lost jobs. The financial-economic package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is the beginning of the long therapy that is needed for economic recovery. But many such financial vaccines are needed to bring India to the high table among world economic powerhouses. Another crucial step would be expediting and increasing loan disbursals under Mudra Yojana to help people set up their work and start-up to address unemployment. Under Mudra Yojana, Rs 29 crore loan sanctions, and Rs 15 lakh crore disbursals happened. This will also be of immense help in addressing the economic challenges.
Doubling the income of farmers will be of great help in improving the rural economy. It is a good move that PM Modi recently released over Rs 20,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme. Since agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy, the government will have to focus on measures leading to an increase in agricultural production.
Rural infrastructure development is also one of the major components of what forms the very basis of improving the economy of the villages. Hence, there is a need to give a fresh fillip to the mission of electrifying all villages and homes, proper sanitation coverage to every village and tap connection to every single home in the city and village.
Education sector reform can also be a game-changer. Skill development, research, and innovation in science and technology are the three components to create a self-reliant India. It is a positive development that as part of reform in the education sector, the government’s focus is on connecting youth with education, knowledge, and skill to build Atmanirbhar Bharat.
How the health sector left a lot to be desired down to state levels also came to the fore during the second wave of Covid-19. That shifts the spotlight on health infrastructure in rural areas which needs to be further developed. Several hospital projects approved by the government for various districts and blocks should be completed soon. While discussing health sector enhancement, what is worth mentioning is affordable health care to the poor. Ayushman Bharat, also known as Modicare, helped the poor to some extent. But its reach to the people living in remotest areas should be ensured. It reminds one of Obamacare which was launched in 2010 to provide healthcare to those who can’t afford it. The objective of both is the same. Loopholes in the implementation of Modicare down to small rural pockets need to be plugged. The government is also reported to have stressed the need to make its coverage more extensive.
Covid vaccination is an area where the focus should be greater. The manufacturing of vaccines has grown tremendously but vaccination hesitancy has to be dealt with. A majority of the population needs to be vaccinated at the earliest. The government claims that everyone will be vaccinated by December. But for this to happen, uninterrupted vaccination supply needs to be ensured. In what has come as a significant development underscoring the “Yes We Will” attitude, India has overtaken the US in the total number of Covid-19 vaccines administered so far with over 32.8 crore doses till 28 June 2021, while the US has logged 32.3 crore doses. What is more remarkable is that India began its vaccination drive on 16 January, 2021 more than a month after the US did on 14 December, 2020.
The perception challenge is one of the most baffling issues that the Modi government has to deal with. In the post-Covid scenario, a negative perception is being created about the government led by PM Modi. Questions are being raised over his competence. So PM Modi will have to lead from the front and infuse fresh spells of energy into all the schemes and projects. He has to show the willpower that yes, he can do and he will do. The government must step up efforts to be more proactive to engage with many public and civilian institutions to address the perception challenge resulting also from misinformation campaigns at national and international levels. PM Modi should bring some credible, talented, and professional faces with few seasoned capable people in the Cabinet. This perception is growing that the Cabinet lacks the desired talent and it must be given a fresh look. He knows the significance of perception in politics, the downfall of UPA-Congress is a story to remember. These are all daunting challenges for PM Modi. His track record on meeting difficult situations head-on is well known and that gives the nation confidence that he will face the challenges successfully.
One can go by some major works done by the Modi government. Banking the unbanked through the Jan Dhan Yojana was PM Modi’s innovative scheme under which 42 crore bank accounts were opened. GST was in the pipeline for 17 years before it became a major tax reform in 2017. Free distribution of the LPG cylinders through the Ujjwala Yojana is a milestone achievement. Official data show that Ujjwala Yojana accounts for over 70% growth in total domestic LPG connections in the country. The Swachh Bharat campaign is one of the big socio-political achievements of the Modi government. The toilet-construction programme under the Swachh Bharat campaign to make India an open-defecation free (ODF) country played a significant part. Even Obama lauded PM Modi’s innovative scheme of cleanliness.
The government has done remarkably well on the strategic front. It was a big achievement for India to push China back from Doklam and Pangong Lake but still, the continued standoff at the LAC remains a big challenge for PM Modi and his strong leader image is facing the most critical time. However, under his leadership, India has renewed its effort to push for a permanent UNSC seat, by launching diplomatic efforts to remove the bottlenecks. Moreover, India plays an important role in Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), the grouping of four countries comprising the USA, Japan, Australia, and India, to counter China’s aggressive behaviour. We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. No matter how onerous and gigantic the task of crushing the challenges might be, India will successfully do it with determination and collective efforts guided by a “Yes, We will do” attitude. It is this strong feeling and commitment that is going to rule everything.
The writer is a political analyst and former Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Electronics Development Corporation.
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‘Black Panther’ director considered quitting filmmaking after Chadwick Boseman’s death
‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler has revealed that he considered quitting filmmaking after actor Chadwick Boseman’s demise. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Coogler opened up about it.
“I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” Coogler stated.
“I didn’t know if I could make another movie period [or] another ‘Black Panther’ movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’”
Boseman died in August 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer.
Coogler also shared that he spent weeks revisiting footage of himself with Boseman, who he saw as a major creative collaborator and champion of “Black Panther.”
Returning to memories of his own relationship with the actor, the filmmaker began to rediscover his passion for the kingdom of Wakanda and its narrative possibilities.
“I was poring over a lot of conversations that we had, towards what I realised was the end of his life,” Coogler continued. “I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”
Coogler has returned to direct Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which follows characters played by returning cast members Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke, as they confront the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa.
On Monday, the second trailer of ‘Wakanda Forever’ was released. The film is scheduled to hit theatres on 11 November 2022, in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
A Hindu temple in Muslim heartland of Dubai
A new Hindu temple constructed in Jebel Ali in Dubai opened on Tuesday, one day ahead of the Dussehra festival.
The Khaleej Times reported that the temple is an extension of the Sindhi Guru Darbar Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in the UAE.
The temple’s foundation was laid in February 2020, and the inauguration fulfils a decades-long Indian dream of having a place of worship in the area.
The temple, which will be officially open to the public on October 5—the day of the Dussehra festival, welcomes people of all faiths and has allowed entry to worshippers and other visitors to view the 16 deities and other interior works, reported Gulf News.
Welcoming people from all faiths, the temple has already had its soft opening on 1 September 2022, where thousands of visitors were allowed to get a glimpse of the interiors of the temple built with white marble. It has ornate pillars, Arabic and Hindu geometric designs on the facade, and bells on the ceiling.
The temple’s management activated the QR-code-based appointment booking system via its website on its soft opening.
From day one, the temple has received many visitors, especially over the weekends.
The restricted entry has been regulated through QR-coded appointments for crowd management and to ensure social distancing, the report said.
Most of the deities are installed in the main prayer hall, with a large 3D-printed pink lotus unfurling across the central dome.
According to the official temple website, Dubai’s new Hindu temple will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Meet the man spreading joy on Ferris wheel at Lav Kush Ramlila
Bustling noises of cheers and laughter echo on the grounds of Lav Kush Ramlila as the annual festivities of Dussehra make their way onto people’s calendars every year. The past two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, were a blow to small-scale businesses and vendors. But this year’s Navaratri has brought back the good old charm of festive love and celebrations.
Among many who spread joy is a man who brings smiles to people’s faces with his merry-go-round and giant ferris wheels.
Known to have been one of the best in business for 40 years, Mohammed Aslam gives the magical touch to Lav Kush Ramlila every year with fun amusement rides.
“I have worked with the Lav Kush Ramlila committee since 1992 and plan to keep working with them because I get a lot of respect here,” said Mohammed Aslam as he expressed his gratitude.
Like many business establishments that suffered at the hands of Covid-19, he emphasised how the pandemic played a spoilsport for his business in the past two years as well. “The past two years, in fact, were quite stressful in terms of business. Not just me, my staffers were also distressed due to the lockdown,” he said.
However, a few minutes later, he exuberantly expressed how well the business is picking up and that he was extremely happy to see Ramlila making a comeback this year.
Mohammed Aslam, a resident of Daryaganj in Delhi, conducts many fairs across the Hindi heartland but says he is happiest during Ramlila because of the joy and brotherhood that the festival binds people with.
Every year, the Lav Kush Ramlila is held at the Lal Qila (Red Fort) and thousands of people gather at the place to eagerly watch the pages of the Ramayana come to life.
Not just that, gorging on amazing street food delicacies, taking an adrenaline-pumping fun ride, and just soaking in the festive mood with loved ones, make it an exciting place for people from all walks of life – age, gender, and religion no bar. This year’s speciality, however, lies in the beauty of the backdrop of the Ram Lila – a replica of the famous Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Talking about the schedule this year, Ramlila began on September 26, and will culminate with a special appearance of ‘Baahubali’ superstar Prabhas on 5 October.
Kanye West bats for ‘White Lives Matter’
Kanye West has hit the headlines yet again. After making his ramp debut at the Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week, Kanye staged a surprise Yeezy fashion show on Monday to showcase his season 9 collection.
Before the models arrived, West delivered a speech while sporting the same bejewelled flip-flops he wore last week and a ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt with the Pope’s face on the front.
According to Page Six, he made numerous allusions, including his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s 2016 Paris robbery, his former manager Scooter Braun, his difficulties breaking into the fashion industry, his most recent breakup with Gap, and much more.
“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,” he said at one point, referencing his new legal name. “You can’t manage me.”
Page Six reports that Kanye teased the names of famous models who were expected to make an appearance at his show, including Kardashian, ex-girlfriend Irina Shayk, and current flame Candice Swanepoel. He also teased the names of other well-known figures like Beyonce, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Lauryn Hill, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Gisele Bundchen, Bella Hadid, and Amelia Gray Hamlin.
However, it appears that only Shayk, Campbell, and Hamlin made an appearance, with the Russian model standing on the sidelines while the other two walked the runway.
The same shirt with ‘White Lives Matter’ inscribed on the back was also worn by some of the models in the show.
Over the past week, West has been attending fashion shows in Paris and London. On Sunday, he even made his runway debut as a model by introducing the Balenciaga show. The star’s trip down the slick runway was watched by Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and their daughter North West from the front row.
5 of the strangest things that have fallen from the sky
What have you seen falling from the sky other than rain or snow? Can you imagine if fish, spiders, or even a strange substance that looked a whole lot like blood started raining down from above? Well, some people around the world certainly can! Here are some of the weirdest things that have ever fallen from the sky.
Can you imagine fishes falling from the sky? It is going to be a weird sight for sure. But there is an explanation for this. In coastal areas, stormy weather can create a waterspout, a tornado-like phenomenon that can suck marine life out of bodies of water like lakes and oceans. The wind will then carry the fish inland, where they’ll come tumbling to the ground. It’s been documented everywhere from Sri Lanka to Australia to Mexico, and as recently as 2017. Sometimes, if the fish are edible, residents of the affected communities will celebrate the “fish rain” as a boon.
Frogs can also become a victim of waterspouts, due to which they fall on the land surprising the people living on the land. Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclides Lembus wrote about instances when so many frogs rained from the sky that “the houses and the roads have been full of them,” and in 2005, residents of Odzaci, Serbia, saw thousands of tiny frogs fall with passing storm clouds. Though sometimes, the lengthy fall will kill the critters, other times, they will hop and amble around their new locality. In Serbia, for instance, villagers reported that the fallen frogs simply hopped away to look for water.
3. Golf Balls
Anyone would be surprised but this has happened in Florida in 1969. Perhaps even weirder, no local golf courses were missing any balls. The reason was never entirely confirmed, but most experts theorized that a waterspout scooped up all of the golf balls that had been hit into the water by errant golfers.
Creepy spiders falling from the sky can make anyone wants to disappear. It happened in 2015 in Australia, and then even more recently in Brazil in 2019. But, unlike the fish and the frogs, the spiders were not yanked from their homes by violent storms. The spider rains result from a process called “ballooning,” where the spiders produce filaments to launch themselves into the air. They do this in an attempt to catch an air current and travel to a new location, and it’s something they do fairly often. So why aren’t spider rains more common, you ask? That’s because it’s very uncommon for huge amounts of spiders to do this at the same time.
The only rain that is pretty is raining money. Raining money has occurred several times throughout history, some of them recently. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of United Arab Emirates dirham currency showered over Kuwait City. In Serbia, a plane carrying gold and diamonds spilled some cargo over the airport runway in 2018. Back stateside, Indianapolis experienced a similar phenomenon in 2017 when an electrician noticed around $200 worth of bills blowing off of a roof where he was working.
Centre approves amendments to FM radio guidelines
The “Policy Guidelines on Expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting Services through Private Agencies (Phase-III)”, also known as the “Private FM Phase-III Policy Guidelines,” contained three amendments that the cabinet approved on Tuesday in order to allow radio channels to take advantage of economies of scale and enhance ease of doing business.
“The decision was taken in the last Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” ministry of information and broadcasting said in a statement.
The first change is the removal of the 3-year window period for FM radio authorization restructuring within the same management group during the license’s 15-year term.
The government has also agreed to the radio industry’s long-standing demand that the 15% National Cap on Channel Holding be lifted.
These three amendments together will help private FM radio industry to “fully leverage the economies of scale and pave the way for further expansion of FM radio and entertainment to Tier-III cities in the country”. “This will not only create new employment opportunities but also ensure that music and entertainment over the FTA (Free to Air) radio media is available to the common man in the remotest corners of the country,” the ministry said.
According to the statement, “The move will ensure that existing rules are streamlined and rationalised to make government more efficient and effective so that its benefits reach the ordinary man.
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