In his latest step to ensure that economic dislocation and pain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are lessened and then eliminated, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday assured each and every citizen of India that the government would ensure their well-being.
The scheme to give free food items to nearly 900 million citizens belonging to lower economic strata, has been extended to the end of November and is estimated to cost a total of Rs 1.5 lakh crore this year alone. The higher figure is because of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of adding around 90 million more people (classified as ‘migrants’) to the public distribution system. Presumably, these citizens will also get the benefit of the extension of this scheme. This is a very welcome step that ensures implementation of the National Food Safety Act 2013, mandating that 75% of the real population and 50% of the urban population needed to have their basic foodgrain needs covered by state action. Given that fully 50% of the urban population remain uncovered, and the fact that their living standards are scarcely better than that of their rural cousins, perhaps 75% level of coverage needs to be introduced for urban areas as well.
The PM showed that he recognised the immense contribution made by honest taxpayers in ensuring that welfare measures could be devised and implemented, by placing them alongside farmers and workers. This trio has, by their efforts, become exemplars of national will and resilience. In his address, he refused to join issues with discordant voices across the other end of the political spectrum, focusing only on what was done, and what needed to be done, to ensure that (in the words of another leader) “every tear from every eye” was wiped away. From the start, Modi has considered himself not the topmost official in the country in terms of high responsibility, but as a “sevak” dedicated to the advancement of India. In his words, whether an individual be the village head or the Prime Minister, both are equal before the law. This was a direct reference to the longstanding colonial-era practice of a separation between government and the governed, caused as a consequence of different protocols and mechanisms depending on official rank, with non-officials nowhere in the reckoning. The message, that civil society was important in its own right, was a major takeaway of the 30 June address to the nation that began at 4 pm and lasted a little over 15 minutes of intense messaging to 1.29 billion people of India.
While the death rate in India has been kept low by various measures, it was pointed out that lack of discipline in following the rule book (needed to ensure lowering of the spread of Covid-19) had resulted in an increase in cases after Unlock 1.0 was announced. In a few hours, Unlock 2.0 will begin. Specifically, it was essential to wear masks in public places, wash both hands often and thoroughly and avoid locations where community spread is a risk, especially in designated “hot zones” which are witnessing a spike in the number of cases. From the start, Prime Minister Modi has trusted the people, and at the very start of his first term, he removed the requirement that a gazetted officer needed to attest the statement of a citizen, making only the signature of the citizen necessary for official purposes.
As pointed out in his 30 June address to the nation, overall citizens complied with the measures necessary to bring down the number of cases, a few had not. This small and socially irresponsible segment of the population was gently warned by PM Modi that their behaviour could harm the nation, and was not acceptable. The three steps recommended by him have been shown to bring down the risk of infection up to fifty times in populations surveyed, provided of course that face masks were kept clean through washing and drying rather than be allowed to accumulate toxins.
Apart from ensuring public health, lower rate of infections and Covid-19 fatalities, the economy was at the centre of his attention. It was clearly indicated that a resurgence of economic activity will be among the top priorities of the Prime Minister. Given the move away from PRC-based logistics chains—especially in services and manufacturing— the opportunity for India to become a global manufacturing and services hub has opened up. In 1947-51 as well, the destruction of Japanese capacity and the much lower capacity of countries neighbouring India had offered a similar chance at middle income status in record time. However, the strangulation of private industry (except that of a few close to the power structure) from the 1950s to much of the 1980s prevented that. As a consequence, the per capita income and production of India is still abysmally small in comparison with several countries to its east and north. It is clear from his address to the nation that he is seized of the need to ensure that the administrative structure be reset in a manner that would facilitate enterprise and innovation. The expected cabinet reshuffle as well as measures to be announced will show the roadmap devised by the Prime Minister for this long-delayed makeover of the governance mechanism to reflect the needs of growth rather than the hunger for control of a bureaucracy that has grown exponentially over the years at immense cost to the taxpayer. Such a reform would ensure that the “Vocal for Local” catchword of the Prime Minister becomes a reality.
The 1.29 billion people of India have what may be called “great expectations” from Modi 2.0. The momentum lost due to Covid-19 needs to be made up, and existing gaps in public welfare to be bridged. The period ahead will witness the many steps that Prime Minister Modi will be taking to ensure that the “India Dream” does not remain a “Bollywood fantasy”, but be made through systematic policy initiatives part of the everyday life of the citizen.
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I never thought that i would ever going to be part of Hungama 2: Meezaan
After making his debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Malaal, Actor Meezaan is all set to carve a space for himself in the hearts of audiences with Hungama 2 on Disney + Hotstar. The young hearthrob recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List and spilled the beans on ‘behind-the-scenes’ hungama.
Reminiscing memories from the release of earlier ‘Hungama’, Meezan said, “I was actually 8 years old when the movie had come out in 2003. I remember going to Globus theatre in Bandra and watching it with a friend of mine and his mother. Ever since, even when the film comes on TV, we watch it till date. Sometimes while scrolling through the channels, suddenly we see Hungama, we always stop by for those iconic scenes. I never thought that i would ever going to be part of Hungama 2 about 18-19 years later. It has been a surreal experience for me. I am just grateful for this opportunity that has come and working with the people who are working on this film.”
On his full-fleged entry into the comedy genre, a genre in which his family has made a huge mark and their reaction to the script, Meezaan said, “The funny thing is that there was no script. There was just a name. I got a call saying, ‘Will you do a Priyadarshan film?’, and I said, ‘Ofcourse, yes’, without any hesitation because it is Priyan sir and it is honestly an honour to be working with him in my career. It is my second film and i am thrilled to get this opportunity and it has turned out to be amazing. I can’t wait for people to finally see the movie.”
Speaking about his experience of working with Filmmaker Priyadarshan and Actor Shilpa Shetty, Meezaan expressed, “It was a surreal feeling because there are too many things that are working in favour of this film, in terms of putting the film together. There is Priyadarshan coming back after a long time. There is the title, ‘Hungama’, which is a big franchise. The producers- Venus, Ratan ji had launched Shilpa Shetty and had done movies like Khiladi, Baazigar and so many other iconic films. You have the starcast, including Paresh ji, Rajpal sir, Johhny Lever, Ashutosh Rana- so many veteran actors. They are amazing at what they do. At the same time, there is Shilpa Shetty as well, who is making her comeback. There is also this song, ‘Chura Ke Dil Mera’, which is an iconic song and she is in the original song. I am with her in this remake. It’s too much that is going on. There is a lot of Hungama happening as it is. I am very happy. It has turned out to be wonderful.
“I am glad i made so many friends, including Shilpa ma’am. She is a wonderful person, full of life. I think she is aging in reverse. She is looking wonderful in the song. She has absolutely killed it. Till date, she has maintained the same energy, same dedication, same work ethic. I’m actually inspired by her and it was a lot of fun working with so many people, ” he added.
Sharing the response he has received for the song, ‘Chura Ke Dil Mera’, Meezaan said, “It has been great. People have loved it. They showered their love, whether through social media, YouTube and stuff like that. It has been great. I have no complaints and it is still going on. There is a lot of Hungama still to be done. We’re taking it one step at a time. There is one more song that came out after, which is called, ‘Chintan’. That song also has received a lot of love from people everywhere. Now we have other song coming out, which is the Hungama title track. It is going to be wonderful and i am excited for everyone to see the whole film as it is.”
Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:
Naxals using drones for recce on security forces
Nagpur: Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of security forces near the Chhattisgarh borders, said Maharashtra Police on Friday.
Speaking to ANI, Sandip Patil, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Gadchiroli said, “Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of our posts near the Chhattisgarh border. In the last 4-5 months we have reported 7-8 incidents. Considering all the possibilities we are taking anti-drone measures.” “These small drones are generally used in wedding ceremonies for photography. They use these drones to check the locations of police parties and security parties from the mountains,” said Patil.
He said considering the drone incident that happened in Jammu, the Maharshtra Police has increased the vigilance and been adopting anti-drone measures. Asked about if there is any coordination with Chattishgarh, the DIG said, “Drones were used in Chattishgarh 7-8 months back. We are working in coordination with IG Bastar and SPs and CRPF. We have made a counter-drone strategy with coordination with them.”
Patil further said that the prima facie information suggests that Naxals procured the drones from Hyderabad.
STUDENTS REACT AS CBSE DECLARES CLASS 12 BOARD EXAM RESULTS
As the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released the much-awaited class 12 results on Friday, mixed reactions were received from students. This year, the pass percentage stands at 99.37 per cent.
Some expressed their happiness calling the decision perfect while the others felt the entire year along with their preparations was wasted. Speaking to ANI, Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student said, “Did not expect to get 98.4 per cent, I’m very happy. Keeping pandemic and safety of students in mind, the government took a good decision,” Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student.
Abhishek Chaudhary, another student from Delhi said, “Results were not what we were expecting. I was expecting over 80 per cent score but I am disappointed. I wanted to get into a government college but it seems difficult now.”
“I’m extremely happy, was not expecting to score over 90 per cent,” said Khushi, a humanities student in Ludhiana.
The exam was scheduled to be held in May but was cancelled due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. This year, the CBSE 12th results have been prepared in an alternative way as board exams could not be held this year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The board had adopted an alternative assessment scheme to finalise the result.
WITH ANI INPUTS
ASSAM ISSUES ADVISORY AGAINST TRAVEL TO MIZORAM
The Assam government on Thursday issued a travel advisory asking people not to travel to Mizoram and advised people from the state working or staying there to “exercise utmost caution.”
Assam and Mizoram also traded accusations over deployment of security forces along the interstate border on Thursday, three days after both sides were locked in a fierce gun battle near the boundary that left six policemen and a civilian dead.
Amidst the ongoing border dispute between the two states Assam and Mizoram, Assam Minister Ashok Singhal on Thursday informed that Mizoram civilians are threatening the people of Assam.
While speaking to ANI, Ashok Singhal said, “In the video footage, Mizoram civilians are threatening us and they are carrying weapons too. So we have issued an advisory for the people of Assam not to visit Mizoram. If somebody still goes there, we will not take his/her responsibility.” “Provocative statements are still being issued from the other side.
Further, talks will take place with the mediation of the Union Home Ministry. We have handed over the post to neutral forces but Mizoram has still not withdrawn its personnel from post”, said Cachar Guardian Minister Singhal.
Taking stock of the situation, Assam’s Cachar Superintendent of Police, Ramandeep Kaur said, “The CRPF is manning the border. Assam police have withdrawn as per directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but on Mizoram’s side, the police are still out there which is making the situation tense. Assam people should abide by directions and advisory given by the government of Assam.”
Meanwhile, Assam police also issued a notification saying that in order to check trafficking of illicit drugs, all incoming vehicles from Mizoram will be thoroughly checked at all the entry points along the Assam Mizoram border.
On July 26, the border dispute between the two states peaked and a fierce gun battle between the forces of the two states resulted in the death of five Assam police personnel and one civilian.
One injured policeman succumbed to his injuries later taking the total toll of policemen to six. At least 50 people were injured in the incident. A total of six companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed at the site where the policemen died.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Malls, multiplexes may soon reopen in Maharashtra
The Maharashtra government may soon allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants and gymnasiums to reopen and operate at 50 per cent capacity while shops and other establishments may get extended hours of operations, beyond 4 pm, in 25 districts with low Covid-19 positivity rates. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that a formal order on easing the restrictions will be issued in the next few days.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the state Covid task force and senior health department officials to discuss the easing of restrictions a day after several ministers demanded relaxations in the state cabinet meeting.
Tope said on that Mumbai and 24 other districts will be in Level 2. Eleven districts, including Palghar, Raigad, Ahmednagar and Pune, which are part of MMR or share borders with it, will remain in Level 3 because of their higher test positivity rate and cases.
He also said that after the meeting that the issue would be decided by the Chief Minister regarding the resumption of the local trains.
Weekends may see some relaxations but Sunday will remain completely shut. Only fully vaccinated (2 doses) citizens will be able to travel in local trains. As of now only government employees and people involved with essential services are allowed to travel in local trains.
Cinema halls likely to be open for the public with limited capacity. Local shops, hotels, and gyms will be allowed to remain open for longer hours now.
Districts which will still see the curbs are Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Beed, and Ahmednagar. These districts have higher positivity rates than average.
INDIA-CHINA TALKS TODAY, GOGRA, HOT SPRINGS DISENGAGEMENT ON CARDS
India and China will hold the 12th round of Corps Commander-level talks on Saturday. It will be aimed at discussing disengagement from the remaining friction points in the eastern Ladakh sector Army sources told ANI.
India and China have already disengaged from the banks of Pangong lake after extensive talks and the Gogra Heights and Hot Springs areas are left to be resolved as these friction points were created post-Chinese aggression last year. According to Army sources, the 12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China is scheduled to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am.
“12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am. India and China expected to discuss disengagement from the Hot Springs and Gogra Heights areas,” Army sources said.
The two countries have been engaged in a military standoff for almost a year but disengaged from the most contentious Pangong lake area last month after extensive talks at both military and political levels.
The credit for the disengagement was given to all stakeholders by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane who also talked about the country benefitting from the inputs given by the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the crisis.
Earlier, India and China held 11 rounds of talks at the Corps Commander level to reach the arrangement to disengage from the Pangong lake area.
With ANI inputs
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