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Experts find no proof of 3rd wave hitting kids hard, but states in no mood to take chance

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With 80,834 Covid-19 reported cases in the last 24 hours, India continued its declining trend of new infections and reported the lowest single-day count in 71 days, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Sunday.

The new cases pushed the Covid case tally in the country to 2,94,39,989. India has been witnessing a continuous fall in the active caseload and the current active number of Covid cases stands at 10,26,159 with a net decrease of 54,531 cases in the last 24 hours.

The weekly positivity rate further dropped to less than 5 per cent and currently stands at 4.74 per cent while the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25 per cent today. It has remained less than 10 per cent for 20 consecutive days now.

Despite the downward trend, most states seem to be gearing up for the anticipated third wave, especially on creating infrastructure for paediatric wards, given the buzz that the coming wave might hit kids particularly hard. In view of the pandemic, the states have kept the health budget of 8-14 % for the current year. The Delhi government allocated Rs 9,934 crore or 14% of the total budget to health. CM Arvind Kejriwal on 12 June cautioned that the chances of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic were quite real, while he asserted that his government was preparing on a “war-footing” to combat it.

The Kerala government allocated Rs 2,800 crore to deal with the health emergency. The third wave of Covid-19 is expected to arrive in October, necessitating a larger budget for Covid mitigation.

Bihar has kept Rs 13,264 crore on health this year. The health department has focused its attention on arranging beds with medical facilities for children who, experts fear, could be mostly affected in the third wave. Currently, there are 816 beds for children in the nine medical college hospitals in the state. Of these, only 225 have oxygen facilities.

Uttar Pradesh allocated 5.5 per cent of its total expenditure for health. CM Yogi Adityanath said that the state is now preparing for a probable third wave. Paediatric ICUs in district hospitals and mini-PICU in community health centres were being operationalised. A new 20-bed PICU has been planned for Deoria and a mini-PICU in Laar.

Incidentally, as the states gear up to ramp up their paediatric wards, a new report says that there’s no substantial evidence to suggest that children will be more affected or have greater illness severity in the anticipated third wave.

The Lancet Covid-19 Commission India Task Force prepared the report after convening an experts group comprising leading paediatricians from the country to examine the issue of ‘paediatric Covid-19’ in India. It said that the infection’s symptomatology in children in India appears to be globally comparable.

“Most children with Covid-19 are asymptomatic, and amongst those symptomatic mild infections are predominant. Most children have fever with respiratory symptoms, and often present with gastrointestinal symptoms and a typical manifestation compared to adults. The proportion of symptomatic children increases as age increases as does the severity in such age groups,” the report started.

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EKNATH SHINDE TAKES OATH AS CHIEF MINISTER, FADNAVIS HIS DEPUTY

Springing a big surprise, BJP decides to play second fiddle to Shinde, for now.

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Putting an end to the ongoing political drama in government formation in Maharashtra, rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Thursday 7.30 pm by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Surprisingly, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, who was the frontrunner for the post of chief minister, took oath as his deputy.

As the development sent shockwaves, the union Home Minister, Amit Shah and the BJP cheif JP Nadda congratulated Phadnavis for showing “big heart”. Shah said in a tweet that Fadnavis’s decision reflects his true dedication and attitude of service towards Maharashtra.

Shinde would be the twentieth Chief Minister of the state. The rest of his ministerial colleagues from his Shiv Sena faction, the BJP and Independent legislators would be administered oath of office on a later date.

Earlier during the day, springing a big surprise, Fadnavis, who was a former Chief Minister, announced that Shinde would be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Before the announcement, Fadnavis and Shinde had met the Governor to stake claim to form government. “Eknath Shinde to be the Maharashtra Chief Minister, oath ceremony to be held at 7.30 pm today,” Fadnavis told media persons after meeting the Governor. Fadnavis also said he would not be part of the government.

In the present 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP has 106 MLAs and Shinde is leading 39 rebel Shiv Sena legislators and some Independents. Passing the muster for a majority mark of 144 would not be a problem for the Shinde–BJP alliance.

With Shinde’s swearing in has come to an end the 10-day-long political high drama that began on 20 June after Shinde and other rebel MLAs disappeared from Mumbai only be discovered camping in Goa. The Shinde faction is alleged to have helped BJP candidates to sail through both in RS and in Legislative Council elections. All kinds of cajoling and veiled threats did not work as Shinde remained adamant on his demand seeking Udhav Thackeray sever ties with Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) alliance partners, the Nationalist Congress Party and Indian National Congress.

Things came to a head after Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal initiated disqualification proceedings against 16 Shiv Sena rebel legislators, including Shinde. The matter reached the Supreme Court, which gave a go ahead to the floor test ordered by Governor Koshyari, thus sealing Thackeray and his MVA government’s fate. Knowing well he has lost the numbers game, Thackeray chose to step down and tendered his resignation on Wednesday evening.

With Fadnavis by his side, Shinde was all praise for the BJP leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Fadnavis. Addressing the joint press conference in the day, Shinde said, “Today BJP has taken a decision, even though they have 120 MLAs, yet they have given the chief ministerial berth to me. However he has shown a big heart and has supported Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainik. I thank Devendra ji, PM and Amit Shah and thank him from the bottom of my heart.” Fadnavi on his part assured all support to the Shinde-led government. “I will ensure that the government works properly. This is not a fight for power but for Hindutva,” he told the media persons.

In the meanwhile, Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson for the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena issued a veiled threat to the remaining Shiv Sena legislators who still owe allegiance to Thackeray to fall in line or lose their status as legislators. “We are the Shiv Sena. We will not merge with any party. The remaining 16 MLAs will have to follow the whip of our group leaders. Otherwise, they will lose their MLA post,” said Kesarkar.

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VOKKALIGAS VS VOKKALIGAS: DK SHIVAKUMAR HAS GOWDAS WORRYING

R. Jayaprakash

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It was Kempe Gowda Day on Monday. Prominent Vokkaliga leaders occupied the dais including Deve Gowda, HD Kumaraswamy, Sadananda Gowda and Vokkaliga seer Nirmalananda Swami. As DK Shivakumar started to speak, he got stupendous response from the crowd. DK, as he is popularly known, though appreciated his political bête noire too, drove home the point that three Ks built Bengaluru – Kempe Gowda, Kengal Hanumanthaiah and SM Krishna. Deve Gowda and son Kumaraswamy were left red faced. 

Those who know Vokkaliga politics in the state knew the import of DK’s address. There is a tug of war going on among the leaders of the community and DK made it clear that day.

In 2018, when the Karnataka electorate threw a fractured mandate, the political drama that played out in the state for over a fortnight had everyone cued in – midnight hearing in SC, resort politics, resignation of BS Yediyurappa and formation of JDS–Congress coalition government. Something impossible was achieved and on the steps of Vidhana Soudha the coronation HD Kumaraswamy took place, with a galaxy of Indian politics – from Mamata Banerjee to Mayavati, from Sonia Gandhi to MK Stalin, from Sharad Pawar to KCR, from Arvind Kejriwal to Kamal Hassan – in attendance. This picture was a direct message to the BJP that it has a formidable force to contend with, but what happened in 2019 Lok Sabha elections was an anti-climax. 

It was nothing short of a miracle then as the BJP lost in the numbers game by a whisker, and it was achieved as two Vokkaliga leaders Kumaraswamy and DK, who were sworn enemies, joined hands. The biggest losers were Lingayat strongman BS Yediyurappa and Kuruba leader Siddaramaiah. 

It has been four years since, and Karnataka has seen four chief ministers in the interregnum – Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy, Yediyurappa and now Basavaraj Bommai – and a lot of water has flown under the bridge. Today the very same leaders DK and HDK, as they are popularly known, are at each other’s throat. The reason is that both are vying with each other to get the mantle of undisputed Vokkaliga leader.

For decades the Gowdas – Deve Gowda and clan – have been the first political family of the Vokkaligas. SM Krishna, though a Vokkaliga from Mandya heartland and Deve Gowda’s contemporary, was edged out. 

The battle for the Vokkaliga mantle has passed on to the second generation – between DK and HDK. While HDK is Deve Gowda’s son, DK, who is Kirshna’s protégé, became family through his daughter’s was marriage to Krishna’s grandson Amarthya (Cafe Coffee Day Siddharth’s son).

An apparent result of dynastic politics is that the JDS is losing support especially in the Cauvery basin, their bastion. The loss of then sitting Chief Minister’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in 2019 Lok Sabha is a case in point. All seven assembly constituencies in Mandya were with JDS, yet the party failed to ensure his victory.

JDS has since then rapidly declined, while DK’s popularity has steadily grown.

DK’s jail time proved counterproductive for the BJP and the Congress Party finally made him the state president despite resistance from the Siddaramaiah faction.   

The Gowdas have been critical of him, for they know DK’s organisational and resource mobilization skills. DK has in the past couple of years consolidated his position in Vokkaliga-dominated districts of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Ramanagara, Tumkur, Kolar, Bengaluru Urban and Rural, Chikkaballapur, Chikkamagalur and parts of Shimoga much to Gowdas’ discomfiture. 

The open revolt in JDS in recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections can be seen in this backdrop. JDS MLAs like AT Ramaswamy and Shivlinge Gowda of Hassan, Srinivas of Tumkur, Shrinivasa Gowda of Kolar and GT Deve Gowda of Mysore have rallied behind DK. 

There is a general sentiment among the Vokkaligas that DK should ascend the CM throne given the current political scenario. The BJP is going to the hustings sans Yediyurappa, the JDS is getting weaker because of exodus of their legislators. The big question is will this sentiment convert to vote? And will DK replace the Gowdas as their numero uno leader? 

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Tourism has a value beyond lifestyle and economic factors

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Going on a holiday can have a positive impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being, according to a new study. A new cross-disciplinary paper from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has proposed a change in the way we view tourism, seeing it not just as a recreational experience, but also as an industry that can provide real health benefits.

The collaboration between ECU’s Centre for Precision Health and the School of Business and Law found many aspects of going on holiday could have a positive impact on those with mental health issues or conditions.

Lead researcher Dr. Jun Wen said the diverse team of tourism, public health and marketing experts investigated how tourism could benefit those living with dementia.

 “Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation, and adaptations to a patient’s mealtimes and environment,” Dr. Wen said, adding “These are all also often found on holidays.” This research is among the first to conceptually discuss how these tourism experiences could potentially work as dementia interventions.”

HOLIDAY FUN OR TREATMENT?

Dr Wen said the varied nature of tourism meant there were many opportunities to incorporate treatments for conditions such as dementia.

For example, being in new environments and having new experiences could provide cognitive and sensory stimulation.

“Exercise has been linked to mental wellbeing and travelling often involves enhanced physical activity, such as more walking. Mealtimes are often different on holidays: they’re usually more social affairs with multiple people, and family-style meals have been found to positively influence dementia patients’ eating behavior and then there’s the basics, like fresh air and sunshine, increasing vitamin D and serotonin levels,” he said.

“Everything that comes together to represent a holistic tourism experience, makes it easy to see how patients with dementia may benefit from tourism as an intervention,” he further expressed.

A SHIFT IN THINKING

Covid-19’s impact on travel in recent years has raised questions about tourism’s value beyond lifestyle and economic factors.

“Tourism has been found to boost physical and psychological well being, so, after Covid-19, it’s a good time to identify tourism’s place in public health and not just for healthy tourists, but vulnerable groups,” he said.

He hoped a new line of collaborative research could begin to examine how tourism can enhance the lives of people with various conditions and expressed, “We’re trying to do something new in bridging tourism and health science,” he said, adding, “There will have to be more empirical research and evidence to see if tourism can become one of the medical interventions for different diseases like dementia or depression; so, tourism is not just about travelling and having fun; we need to rethink the role tourism plays in modern society.” 

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‘OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES’ CANNOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO PROVIDENCE

Everybody wants to hop onto a bandwagon that is taking off, yet few of us are prepared for the toil that paves the way for it.

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“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen,” goes a quote attributed to Lenin. For Eric Yuan and the team at Zoom, those weeks were in March and April 2020. That was when the world was reeling under the twin impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns; and voila, Zoom was the savior. From work meetings to birthday parties, everything started happening online. Usage of Zoom ‘zoomed’ thirty-fold in just four months, surpassing three hundred million daily participants. The company’s market capitalization smashed past the hundred-billion-dollar mark, rising eightfold over the ten months to October 2020.

‘Overnight successes’ are not confined to the world of business. In 1976, an unknown, out-of-work actor named Sylvester Stallone approached a movie studio with a script. The studio offered him over three hundred thousand dollars, but he opted to take a much lower sum if they agreed to his demand to play the lead role. The studio finally relented, and the rest is history. The movie, ‘Rocky’, smashed box-office records, was nominated for ten Oscars, and spawned multiple sequels. It left behind an enduring legacy based on its theme of the power of the human will.

One might be tempted to attribute such successes to providence. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth. As entertainer Eddie Cantor said, “It takes twenty years to make an overnight success.” Many processes in life follow the pattern of the Chinese bamboo tree, a seed that needs to be watered and cared for over four full years before it even begins to sprout. Yet, in the fifth year, it suddenly shoots up, growing over fifty feet in just a few weeks. Plodding over those dreary four years lays the foundation for what follows.

Before 2020, the team at Zoom had spent nine years obsessing over the customer experience, product architecture and technical standards, with the founder Eric personally responding to customer complaints. Eric’s own story is testament to his persistence, of how he found his feet in the US after eight visa rejections and despite his patchy English.

Sylvester Stallone’s story is no different. To realize his Hollywood dreams, he went through many rough years, with only two pairs of clothes, sleeping in a bus station, and even having to sell his dog. To quote him, “Life is an opponent that never stops punching, so you better never stop punching back.”

In the world of business today, it has become commonplace to talk about the ‘hockey-stick’ curve, an initial period of learning followed by supposedly meteoric growth. Yet, few founders and investors have the patience to last it through the initial curve of the ‘hockey stick’. This is where setbacks happen, mistakes are made, business models come apart, and often, startups flounder and die. Eventually, this trial by fire culminates in a better product and a wiser management team. Everybody wants to hop on to a bandwagon that is taking off, yet few of us are prepared for the toil that paves the way for it.

I have also seen this dynamic in the stock markets. Whenever we hear of someone making a ‘multi-bagger’ return on a stock, it is tempting to attribute it either to luck or to spotting an attractive company early. Yet, neither of these explanations conveys the full story. The real secret of bagging a multi-bagger is often in being able to retain conviction and hold it through periods of gut-churning volatility, when the stock might be down over 50%.

This pattern is mirrored in the world of books too. Writing my first book, KaalKoot, took many years. This was a period where I had to keep at it without any external validation, and with pangs of self-doubt gnawing away at my mind. After the success of KaalKoot, writing my second book was much faster and easier. Yet, it was those difficult early years that laid the foundation for what followed.

The US Airways pilot ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who saved hundreds of lives in January 2009 by successfully landing the plane over the Hudson river after an engine failure, garnered widespread applause for his presence of mind during those critical moments. Yet, to quote him, the secret lay elsewhere. “For 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education, and training. On January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” 

That, then, is the secret of becoming an ‘overnight success’, i.e making regular deposits in the bank of experience, being consistent with it, and persisting despite obstacles.

S. Venkatesh is the author of AgniBaan and KaalKoot, a leadership coach and an investor who has held key positions with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Macquarie. He writes about mindfulness and its link to creativity, business and wealth.

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ARTIST’S SEARCH FOR ROOTS AMONG UTTARAKHAND HILLS

Yatin Kandpal makes a mark though his solo exhibition ‘Emotional Rescue’

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After his four-day solo exhibition, “Emotional Rescue”, ended on Sunday June 19, Yatin Kandpal returned to his studio that late evening more than contented. For the 37-year-old painter, who left a well-paid job in 2016 to pursue his passion, never knew his work would create so much enthusiasm among the seekers of art. “The reception my open-air exhibition got from both the connoisseurs of art and the customers visiting was more than expected,” said Yatin basking radiantly in the stupendous success his exhibition had.

Yatin (right), in conversation with fellow artist Asha Sharma

Girl learning hands on drawing colours

The four-day long exhibition, organised at iHeart Café at the sleepy village of Mehragaon on way to Bhimtal – about 15 km from district headquarters – saw a footfall of about 2000 visitors. Children, wannabe and accomplished artists, actors, senior bureaucrats, police officials, teachers and students, tourists and locals all came in droves to see the two-hour-long evening exhibition, keeping Yatin on his toes, discussing at length about each painting, with the artist giving live demos especially to children, even inviting them to give a shot at it.

“It was wonderful to see Yatin engage children showing them hands on how they can express how they view the world around them with the stroke of a brush,” said Asha Sharma, an artist herself.

Among a surprise visitor to his exhibition was none another than his teacher, Professor Zahoor Ahmed Zergar, former Head of the Department of Applied Art at Jamia Milia Islamia University. It was under Professor Zergar’s tutelage that Yatin grew from a raw hand, who could barely drew some sketches on art paper, to an accomplished artist that he is now. It was, in fact, Professor Zergar who discovered Yatin way back in 2005 when he had gone to Almora to attend a 10-day-long camp organized by Lalit Kala Academy where artistes from various parts of the country had come to participate.

The camp he attended at the prodding of one of his arts teacher proved a turning point, as it created an everlasting bonding both with the professor and with the brush. After doing Masters in Fine Arts, he followed Professor Zergar to Delhi in 2008 where he learnt the nuances of painting while watching closely his Guru working on canvas strung on the easel in his studio even while pursuing another Masters. After his stints with Prime Focus and the Central Institute of Educational Technology in Delhi, he packed his bags in 2016 to settle down in Bhimtal. “It is these mountains where I chose to put down my roots in the midst of nature which is my muse,” said Yatin waving his hands without any cares about the world at large.

“It needs a lot of courage to stay through what you believe is your calling. Yatin has done exactly that. In other words, he has rescued himself through his paintings,” said Professor Anne Feenstra, who curated the exhibition. “I will put his work in the realm of super-reality as he interprets realities of life through his paintings,” added the recipient of Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.

Take, for instance, the self-portrait he drew on canvas after his dog died a couple of years back, the centrepiece of the exhibition. He threw in some paws all over his face to express his loss. When you look at a landscape, a person, or a mountain, for instance, you interpret those elements of nature or objects through your work adding your own perspective to what you observe, using imagination.

So when he saw Nainital with its daunting mountain tops on three sides, half cut by forces of nature and half denuded by human intervention, he drew a painting that says all about it. We see the beautiful lake in its quaint pristine form with a solitary row boat in the middle and with no human intervention. The rich yet sauve colour tones he used to express his interpretation of the city he was born and brought up in forces you to take notice and brood over it.

“Yatin’s paintings reflect his emotional response to life around him. In some of his works, his brush strokes reflect expressionism and in others the dark shadows in portraits appear mysterious and loaded,” said Anupama Sharma, an artist from Rajasthan settled in Bhimtal, who had an exhibition with Yatin some years back in Mumbai.

His signature style is visible in the portrait of a girl venturing out of her home. She is cautious as she steps out. The use of a darker tone over her eyelashes and eyelids enhances the expression on those kohled eyes and face wear, conveying her fears, her wonderment, to the beholder. Those intense black eyes catch and transfix us.

The exhibition was part of a collective effort that Professor Anne, who is working on sustainable mountain architecture there, has put together with the help of Padmini Smetacek and some other local enthusiasts to promote local talent by helping them showcase their works, with iHeart Cafe providing a perfect setting. “It is all about giving value to our immediate community. We are trying to help artists like Yatin to showcase their talent,” said Tim Sebastian, owner of iHeart Cafe, visibly happy at the turnout during the exhibition. And it makes a lot of business sense as well for him.

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POLICE ARREST GANGSTER JAGGU BHAGWANPURIA

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In a latest development in the Sidhu Moosewala muder probe, the Mansa Police have arrested Jaggu Bhagwanpuria after getting a permit from Patiala House Court for his arrest and transit remand. Jaggu, who was lodged in Delhi Jail, would soon be brought to Punjab for further interrogation. It is reported that police have an input on his involvement in the Sidhu Moosewala murder case.

Out of the four shooters involved in the murder of Sidhu Moosewala, two are related to Jaggu, told the Mansa Police to court in order to get his transit remand. Meanwhile, Jaggu’s mother had alleged in court that her son was being tortured in jail.

Prior to Jaggu, Gangster Lawrence Bishnoi was taken to Punjab from Delhi for interrogationin connection with Sidhu Moosewala’s murder.

A special cell of Delhi Police recently arrested a total of four shooters, including the main shooter Priyavrat Fauji, from near Mundra Port in Gujarat. It is further said that Priyavrat Fauji was leading the shooters, who shot the singer.

A total of 150 cases, including murder, are registered against the notorious gangster. His gang is considered to be the richest and most active in Amritsar and Gurdaspur and is said to be involved in all kinds of crimes, including kidnapping, extortion, and dacoits.

Jaggu’s name is also associated with a drug syndicate. It is being said that he is related to many big leaders and names in the criminal world.

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