The Election Commission of India (ECI) suspended West Bengal’s Director Security from his post in connection with the major lapse of security that resulted in the alleged attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram.
“Vivek Sahay, IPS, Director Security, shall be removed from the post of the Director Security and be placed under suspension immediately. The charges must be framed against him within a week for grossly failing in discharge of his primary duty as Director Security to protect the Z+ protectee,” the Election Commission said soon after declaring the incident an accident and not attack.
Also suspending the SP and DM of East Medinipur, the ECI directed the Chief Secretary and DGP to identify security personnel who “failed in their duties” to protect the CM over the next three days.
The ECI stated, “Chief Secretary, in consultation with DGP, is authorized to post suitable Director Security immediately following the extant procedure. Posting order may be communicated to the Commission latest by 1300 hours on 15th March 2021.”
In a statement, the ECI also said, “A Committee of Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify within next three days the other proximate security personnel below Director Security, who failed in their duties to prevent the incident and protect the Z+ protectee VVIP and take suitable action for their failure under intimation to the Commission by 1700 hours on 17th March 2021.”
The Election Commission also said that Smita Pandey, 2005 batch IAS officer, be posted immediately as DM and DEO, Purba Medinipur in place of Vibhu Goel, who will be transferred to a non-election post.
SP Purba Medinipur Pravin Prakash will also be placed under suspension immediately and charges shall be framed against him for “major failure of bandobast”. “Mr Sunil Kumar Yadav, IPS: 2009 be posted immediately as SP Purba Medinipur in place of Mr Pravin Prakash, IPS. Chief Secretary shall ensure that the investigation of Nandigram PS Case number 97/21 dated 11-03-2021 is completed and consequential action is taken as per law in next 15 days. Report in this regard shall be sent to the Commission by 31st March 2021,” said a statement.
The Election Commission held a meeting to discuss reports submitted by the West Bengal Chief Secretary and the joint report submitted by Special General Observer Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Vivek Dube on the incident in Nandigram leading to CM Mamata Banerjee’s injuries on 10 March. In the light of the meeting, the ECI further directed, “Since the security of star campaigners becomes far more sensitive during the election period because of additional criticality due to possible proximity with large crowds and sensational impact of any such incidence on law and order across state, established SoPs, including advance detailed programme, necessary permissions to hold rallies or road shows, deployment, use of bullet proof vehicle, if required as per security category of protectee, deployment on pre-decided route(s), observance of provisions of The Motor Vehicle Act, etc. should be followed scrupulously. Any deviation from approved programme should only be permitted after necessary approval(s).”
The West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer in the state, demanding CM Mamata Banerjee’s treatment history at SSKM hospital to be made public.
“The alleged attack has been used to extract the maximum possible political mileage. The Election Commission of India in its report today has ruled out the possibility of any such attack. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its cadre have attempted to use the Chief Minister’s purported injury which seems self-inflicted in order to gain sympathy and cause violence in different parts of the state,” reads the letter from the BJP state unit.
The letter stated that TMC’s allegation on BJP regarding the attack is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. “It is necessary that truth be brought out before public so that staged incidents do not repeat to deceive the masses and manipulate their voting choices,” it added.
On 10 March, CM Banerjee had alleged that she was pushed by a few unidentified people during her election campaigning. Later, she was brought to Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital by road from Nandigram.
Elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from 27 March, with the final round of voting taking place on 29 April. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
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‘Magic of 80s’: Raj Babbar & Padmini Kolhapure talk about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar
Actors Raj Babbar and Padmini Kolhapure joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the duo spoke about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar on Hotstar, which is set in the 80s.
Speaking about what attracted him to the show, Raj Babbar said, “My first priority is my work. I give a lot of time to a lot of things but I thought this is my identity. If I am known as Raj Babbar, it is because of Mumbai and the Hindi Film Industry recognised me as a performer. No matter where I go, people recognise me as an actor and then other adjectives on whatever I am. I realise that I should give priority to the actor side of me, which gave me this recognition and gave me a place in the society. That’s why I feel my first priority is my work.”
He added, “When I heard this story, I remembered a book that I had read sometime in the past. It was a bestseller at that time. It was called, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ and it stayed in the mind. When I heard this story, I felt very nice, a very interesting subject and I am doing a very beautiful role in it. I found the innocence of 80s, magic of 80s in this. That romance, the comedy, all of this is beautifully captured in this. The USP of the 80s that people used to think is evil is the corruption and the corrupt is the evil. These fiery girls, my 5 daughters, they are brilliant and also very fiery and ambitious. It is this very interesting thing, which attracted me. When I heard the narration and got to know that Padmini ji and Poonam ji are doing this, I said okay. I got this confidence that we will be in majority. Meher and Akshay are beautiful actors. They are very energetic people and it was fun working with them.”
When the same question was posed to Padmini Kolhapure, she responded, “The first attraction was Mr Habib Faisal. I have seen his work and he is a brilliant director. After working with him, I realised truly how meticulous he is. This script and this story demanded a lot of nuances to recreate the 80s era, which he has done brilliantly. He has lived that era and knows a lot about it. We have been there and done that so it wasn’t very difficult for Raj, Poonam or me to do this. More challenging probably for the youngsters because they don’t know what the 80s era was. I am sure that they would have had to work on every little thing. Second thing was the production house, so it was Smriti Shinde and Sobo films and then the OTT platform, which was Disney + Hotstar, so what better could I have asked for. You have Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Akshay, Seher, Aditya. This entire ensemble cast and to top it all, my role. It being a web series, it runs into a couple of episodes so it was not like I am playing a primary character in it but I am playing a very important role. It is a very colourful role, which I was quite amused while performing. Every time I would finish my role, I would just look back and laugh. I’d say to myself, ‘what am I doing?’. It is really beautiful when you are an actor and performing such challenging roles. You realise what an actor you can be and what can come out. With a good director and co-actors, you can just create magic.”
GFI LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN FARMER PRODUCER ORGANISATIONS
Grameen Foundation India (GFI) on Monday launched a special initiative ‘Catalyst Award’ under its MANDI (Market Enabled Access through Digital Innovation) project to support and develop the farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking at the event, Prabhat Labh, Chief Executive Officer, GFI said, “Smallholder farmers, especially women, play the most critical role in ensuring food security in Uttar Pradesh. Grameen’s endeavour is to recognise the role of women smallholder farmers, and support them through linkage to markets, technology and finance in order to increase their incomes.” The MANDI project aims to strengthen the FPO’s capacity to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets and finance, in order to improve farmers’ incomes and resilience. It predominantly works on four thematic areas such as financial linkage, access to market, FPO capacity building on day-to-day operation and compliance, and gender mainstreaming. It also focuses on leveraging data for decision-making and facilitates need-based modern technologies. The MANDI project is implemented by GFI in partnership with Walmart Foundation.
The Catalyst Award is a financial assistance program being offered to select FPOs to support their long-term institutional strengthening and growth. The financial assistance being extended to the FPOs would help them in serving their members, particularly women and smallholder farmers in a better and organised manner. The awards were given at a one-day workshop organized on Monday, 29 November 2021 on “FPO strengthening through Gender Mainstreaming” at the Shatabdi Krishi Prekshagrih, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Addressing the participants, Mahendra Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh said, “FPOs can become business entities serving needs of small and marginal farmers and focusing on women participation. FPOs should focus on market and financial linkages to benefit shareholder farmers.”
The day also saw the launch of another initiative on which GFI is collaborating with ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics). Under the collaboration, it has developed a support fund for the FPCs (Farmer Producer Companies) in response to Covid-19 pandemic mainly to cope better with situation brought on by the pandemic. FPC support fund (FSF) is being given for promotion and expansion of business activities being conducted by registered FPCs promoted under the MANDI project. A total amount of INR 4.5 lakh will be given to the FPCs.
The overall objective is to provide immediate support to FPCs which will help the project beneficiaries cope better with the pandemic while building resilience and bringing things back on track— by providing access to ‘working capital’ to the farmers through the FPCs, so that the farmers can continue with their farming operations uninterruptedly. This will also help FPCs for strengthening business activities, innovative product and services design and delivery which will help the farmer members of FPCs. The program is implemented through GFI’s subsidiary Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) with support from ICRISAT and would cover four districts of Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Prayagraj and would benefit about 11,500 farmers.
This event is part of a series of activities being organised by the GFI for generating awareness among the stakeholders of FPOs, and creating an ecosystem to foster women’s empowerment in agriculture. It aims to sensitise stakeholders on increasing women’s participation in decision-making and in the entire FPO value chain.
About 146 attendees representing FPOs, experts from financial technology, markets and convergence participated in the event and subsequent workshop. The companies such as Blue Soils, UPPRO (State Level Federation of FPOs of Uttar Pradesh), EF Polymer also displayed their products and services.
Grameen Foundation India is a leading social impact organisation, working on financial inclusion, agriculture-based livelihoods and health and nutrition initiatives with the mission to enable the poor, especially women to overcome poverty and hunger. Inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, Grameen provides works in partnership with leading development organisations in India to ideate, innovate and scale breakthrough solutions that reach underserved populations, particularly women.
YOTTA TO BUILD NEXT TWO DATA CENTER BUILDINGS IN GREATER NOIDA
Yotta Infrastructure announced that it will commence construction of two more data centers in their Greater Noida Data Center Park in January 2022. The two buildings will have a capacity of 30MW IT load each and will be ready to go live in January 2024. The construction of the first of six data center buildings started in January 2021 and will go live for customer operations by July 2022, in a record time of less than 18 months. Once completed, it will have a capacity of 30 MW IT Load.
Commenting on the development and his vision to transform Uttar Pradesh as a technology hub, the Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath, said, “Uttar Pradesh today is at the forefront of all-round development. Data Centers are the hub of the digital revolution. They are the temples for digital democracy. The government of Uttar Pradesh has taken path-breaking steps, including a forward-looking Data Center policy helping and incentivising the development of high-quality, large-scale data centers in UP. I congratulate the Hiranandani Group and Yotta for taking this initiative which shall enhance the quality of life for citizens and shall grow the digital economy of the country, promise them all help and wish them success.” The Uttar Pradesh government, in October 2020, gave approvals to the company to set up a 20-acre hyper-scale data center park in Greater Noida. This will be the first data center park in the region, which will consist of 6 interconnected data center buildings offering 30,000 racks capacity powered by more than 250 MW of power. The estimated cost to set up the park is approximately INR 7000 Crore (~USD 950 Mn). The project will also generate direct and indirect employment in Uttar Pradesh as the company expands its team to operate and build the data centers.
Darshan Hiranandani, Group CEO – Hiranandani Group, said, “The Digital India initiative has opened up new avenues for businesses, and India has been on the upward trajectory with respect to digital transformation way before the pandemic hit us. The last couple of years have only reinstated the need to grow digital infrastructure in our country. We are grateful to the Government of Uttar Pradesh and the Honourable Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath Ji for extending their constant cooperation that helped us speed up the construction process. Our Datacenter Park in Greater Noida will go a long way to augment the digital infrastructure not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in the entire north region of the country as Yotta continues to strive to bridge the demand-supply gap in the Indian data center industry.”
Sunil Gupta, Co-founder, and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure said, “Foreseeing increased demand from the region due to digital acceleration, we’ve decided to commence construction of two new data center buildings of 30MW IT load each from January 2022, much ahead of our earlier schedule. The data center park shall be the largest one in the region, powered by redundant 220 KV express feeders and an on-site substation, with an option of 100 percent green energy to customers. With the presence of multiple telco operators, redundant fiber paths and various public and private Internet exchanges and availability of Build To Suit (BTS), Bulk and Retail Colocation and various Cloud and Managed Services, this highly interconnected data center park is attracting customers from across the World and industry verticals.”
Riding on the digital revolution and a huge supply-demand gap in the country for high-quality, scalable data centers and benefitting from its all-around capabilities across the value chain of Datacenter from Build to Operate, Yotta is feverishly developing data center parks across the country. It has also signed MoUs with Tamil Nadu and West Bengal Government to set up data centers in Chennai and Kolkata, respectively. The company recently announced that its first data center in Navi Mumbai – Yotta NM1, is India’s first and the only Tier IV Constructed Facility certified by Uptime Institute (USA).
In sync with Guru Nanak’s ‘oneness’
An exhibition titled ‘Paradigm of Oneness’—a solo show by artist Dr Jaspal Singh Kalra—was held recently in the capital at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre wherein the artist attempts to imagine Baba Nanak in the content of his immortal Shabads.
Artist Dr. Jaspal Singh Kalra
Banrae Embroidery & sketch on linen by Dr. Jaspal Singh Kalra
Nanak’s oneness goes beyond just humans. His compositions talk of nature, animals, plants, earth, water, air and to love them all is true oneness with the divine. Imagining self as part of other is the paradigm of Nanak’s oneness that takes us beyond our ego. The series of artworks on display are Kalra’s journey of art as a personal expression. His art is not about deciphering or finding reasons but simplifying the complexities.
This personal expression of setting text in artworks has been part of Dr Kalra’s style for more than a decade. When his mother passed away, it transformed into interpretation.
The word ‘Sab Tera’ is also interpreted as ‘terah’ or thirteen and in keeping with this concept thirteen Shabads have been taken to create this series of artworks. Shabads by Baba Nanak, Kabirdas and Sheikh Farid range from oneness of humans, gender, nature, universe, divinity and value of sharing.
Speaking to The Daily Guardian, Kalra explained the title of the exhibition and said that oneness is about gender, people and moving away from discrimination. “When we started creating these artworks, we had people from different faith who understood his philosophy and tried to associate with it. Here it was about the oneness of thought and connecting it with art,” he said.
He added, “We gave it the name paradigm because it was not just about one single thing. There are smaller aspects. It has so many components to it that makes it a paradigm.”
Everyone knows that Guru Nanak is an important religious figure in Sikhism. But in the case of Kalra, he says it is important and a conscious effort to humanise him in order to understand his teachings. “When we humanise something, we connect to that person much closer. When we make someone a god or a demi-god, there’s an awe that comes in. If you have to love someone’s poetry and follow, the first step would be to be in one with that person,” he said while speaking to The Daily Guardian.
On the issue of the hurdles he faced while creating these works, he said that he did not face much of it and added that he was being guided by a force through the creative process. Kalra further said that every time he was working with a Shabad or a Doha of Kabir on his artwork, he was reliving them. “Every time when I was working on it, I would go deeper into the meaning because we were spending so much time in sketching and conceptualising. Then you really look (at the work and the verse) and get into another time zone,” he added.
“The whole process for us (of creating these works) became an act of respect and worship,” the artist said further. From his artwork, he said, the thing that the viewer must capture is the human values and make your own meanings out of them.
SARDAR UDHAM SINGH WOULD LEAD TO DISCUSSIONS ABOUT OTHER SUCH UNSUNG HEROES: VICKY KAUSHAL
In the exclusive conversation with us as part of NewsX India A-List, Vicky Kaushal and Shoojit Sircar opened up about the response to Sardar Udham Singh, their favourite scenes in the film and much more.
Actor Vicky Kaushal and Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, who are basking in the success of their film Sardar Udham Singh, joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the duo opened up about the response to Sardar Udham Singh, their favourite scenes in the film and much more.
When asked whether he expected so much love from the audience for the film, Shoojit Sircar said, “We knew that the final climax of the film will evoke some kind of a reaction but we didn’t expect these many praise-worthy messages and texts. That was absolutely overwhelming.”
On Sardar Udham Singh being a difficult character to portray, Vicky said, “Everyone attached with the making of the film, was in sync with why this story is important and why this story needs to be told. We were always in sync with that. Yes definitely, when you see that the film has resonated in such a beautiful way with the audience and connected with the audience, it does make you feel good. It makes you feel that your efforts have landed well. Not many people knew who Sardar Udham Singh was or what his sacrifices were. Now people would be aware of it, they would discuss it and this would probably lead to discussions about other such unsung heroes and other such sacrifices of that time. That of course is a big takeaway for a big victory for us.”
Speaking about that one compliment that stood out about his performance, Vicky said, “Actually in the initial stages, it was something that I read for the first time and it really brought a smile in my heart, rather than my face, was when somebody had just appreciated that this could have been the best tribute to Irrfan Saab. That really made my heart smile. That was really special for me.”
To this, Shoojit Sircar added, “When the film got over, most of the people were not able to talk and they felt a little numb. For some time, they didn’t want to talk to anyone and just be quiet. Everyone wrote to me and also on social media I read. That for me is quite a deep impact. I also get a little emotional when someone feels exactly what we feel. That is the biggest compliment I got.”
Talking about his favourite and the most difficult scene in the film, Vicky shared, “For me, the most challenging one has to be the Jallianwala Bagh scene. To recreate that and to touch upon the innocence of the 20-year-old Udham Singh, who was probably going through that kind of aftermath. You, as an actor, can never be too prepared to know what you are going to do, how you are going to do, how you are going to emote those sequences till you are thrown right in the middle of it. So, that was for me the most challenging.”
“The one scene I was looking forward to shoot was the jail portion, that lead up to that sequence. The conversation between Sardar Udham and Suhel. That trajectory was for me like the thread of the film. Shooting for those portions was kind of also telling me the graph of the character. Those sequences in the film were special for me,” Vicky added.
Over 2.5 m Indians repatriated under ‘Vande Bharat Mission’
More than 2.5 million Indians in distress abroad were repatriated home and over 275,000 Indians overseas were provided assistance under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ launched last year, the External Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday.
Recognizing the potential health and economic impact of COVID-19, Sanjay Bhattacharyya Secretary (CPV & OIA) who attended the 112th Session of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Council on “Impact of COVID-19 on Borders, Migration and Mobility: Learning Lessons and Preparing for the Future” said that India responded to protect migrant workers, stranded in destination countries across the world. “Government organised the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ from 7th May 2020 to facilitate their safe repatriation. This was the largest and the most complex exercise undertaken by the government, with our Embassies working in tandem with host governments and community organizations to support every Indian in distress. More than 2.5 million Indians in distress abroad were repatriated home and over 275,000 Indians overseas were provided assistance,” he said in a Ministry of External Affairs statement.
He also said, “We also launched the SWADES portal (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support). This skill mapping exercise involved our National Skill Development Corporation and the information collated was shared with State Governments, employment bureaus and Indian & foreign companies for a seamless employment channel with identification of skill sets.”
Asserting that more stable and transparent mechanisms were needed for India’s traditional destinations in the Gulf, Secretary (CPV & OIA) said that country engaged in discussions for new generation labour agreements and commenced work on integration of our eMigrate platform with those of our GCC partners. “This would promote transparency, empower future migrants, stabilize migration flows and promote safe and legal migration,” he said.
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