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FARM LAWS PROVE PM MODI IS WITH INDIA’S KISAN

The three farm laws, which are causing much uproar in the country right now, are actually aimed at bringing greater autonomy to farmers and greater transparency in the agrarian sector.

Sanju Verma

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Keeping the devious politicisation of the landmark farm laws by the Opposition aside, the moot question is: Will the path-breaking farm laws ushered in by the Narendra Modi government help farmers? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’!

How has public procurement fared under the Modi government? There has been a solid increase of 59.2% in the procurement of paddy in 2019, when compared to the numbers of 2013-14. The procurement of wheat from farmers by the Modi government for rabi 2020 also touched an all-time high of 382 lakh metric tonnes (LMT). During the same period, 119 lakh MT paddy was also procured by government agencies through 13,606 purchase centres. Meanwhile, all over India, 42 lakh farmers were paid over Rs 73,500 crore towards minimum support price (MSP) for wheat alone in the current rabi season.

This year, Madhya Pradesh became the largest contributor to the central pool with 129 LMT of wheat, surpassing Punjab, which procured 127 LMT. Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan also made significant contributions to the national procurement of wheat. The heartening thing to note here is that there was also an increase in procurement from the eastern and northeastern regions this year. In the kharif season this year, procurement from these regions has been to the tune of 89.5 LMT, benefitting more than 18 lakh farmers.

Given the hue and cry over MSP, it is only apt to ask: what has been the track record of the Modi government on MSP? Without an iota of doubt, it has been exemplary. MSP is a form of market intervention by the Central government to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. It is a price fixed by the Government of India to protect the farmers against excessive fall in prices during bumper production years. The MSP is usually announced at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations made by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Coming back to the Modi government’s track record, the numbers speak for themselves. MSP payment to farmers for paddy rose by 2.4 times to Rs 4.95 lakh crore between 2014 and 2019 under the Modi government, as against only Rs 2.06 lakh crore under the previous Congress-led regime between 2009-2014. MSP to farmers for wheat increased by 1.77 times during 2014-2019, to Rs 2.97 lakh crore, as compared to Rs 1.68 lakh crore in the 2009-2014 period. Meanwhile, MSP payment for pulses surged by a whopping 75 times under the Modi government, to reach Rs 49,000 crores, as compared to a measly Rs 645 crore under an inept Congress-led UPA-2. The payment to farmers for oilseeds and copra also surged 10 times under the Modi government, to Rs 25,000 crore, during the last five years, in comparison to the MSP payment of just Rs 2,460 crore under the UPA government in 2009 to 2014.

In July 2018, in a landmark decision, the Modi government announced MSP at 1.5 times the cost of production for 14 kharif crops. The cost considered by CACP is as per the A2+FL formula, which includes expenses on farm inputs, including seeds, fertilisers, fuel and irrigation and, of course, the imputed value of family labour (FL).

The total value of all agricultural output was around Rs 40 lakh crore in FY20, while the total value of MSP operations was around Rs 2.5 lakh crore, corroborating the argument by Shanta Kumar that, if only 6.25% of the agri produce is MSP-driven, why is there such a hue and cry about MSP? Clearly, the entire MSP controversy is a needless one and a manufactured controversy by an electorally debilitated opposition that is running out of issues to fret and fume about. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has categorically assured farmers that his government will continue with the MSP. Hence, any apprehensions on this front are not required.

Now, has the Modi government been fair to farmers in Punjab? The straight answer to that is also a loud and clear “yes”. Punjab’s agriculture department’s records show that 22.91 lakh hectares were under paddy cultivation in 2019-20, 25.94 lakh hectares in 2018-19 and 25.19 lakh hectares in 2017-18. The average yield of paddy in Punjab was recorded at 6,635 kg (6.6 tonnes) per hectare in 2019-20, 6,532 kg (6.5 tonnes) in 2018-19 and 6,516 kg (6.5 tonnes) in 2017-18. What should be the total production of paddy in Punjab in this period, as per above data? As per yield and “cultivation area”, the total production should be 152 lakh tonnes (15.2 million tonnes) in 2019-20, 169.44 LTs (16.9 million tonnes) in 2018-19 and 164.14 LTs (16.4 million tonnes) in 2017-18. Thus, in all three years, government agencies purchased more paddy than Punjab’s total production, as per the average yield. In 2019-20, 11.82 lakh tonnes (1.2 million tonnes) more was sold in Punjab’s mandis than produced in the state. In 2018-19, the figure stood around 1.02 lakh tonnes and in 2017-18, it was nearly 15.42 lakh tonnes (1.5 million tonnes).

So, do the farm laws dismantle the existing “APMC-Anaj Mandi” structure? No, they do not. Going forward, farmers will have the choice and freedom to sell their produce either at APMC designated wholesale mandis or in “Trade Areas”. There will be no taxes or levies of either state or central government on the trade conducted in these “Trade Areas”, thereby, reducing the cost of transaction in the entire food chain, from farm to fork. Hence, the whole narrative about “Trade Areas” being anti-farmer is false.

What has the Modi government done for uplifting the well-being of India’s farming community? The Modi government has been transferring cash directly to farmers, as is evident from the Rs 6,000 that is paid to over 14 crore farmers per year, under the PM Kisan scheme. Over Rs 94,000 crore have been paid via PM-KISAN since its inception two years ago, with over Rs 22,000 crore paid during the last six months of the pandemic alone.

What has the Modi government done for agrarian infrastructure? The Modi government, in August this year, launched a new Agriculture Infrastructure Fund worth Rs 1 lakh crores, which is meant for setting up storage and processing facilities which will help farmers get higher prices for their crops. In September this year, the government also launched the “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana”, a flagship scheme for focused development of the fisheries sector in the country, with an estimated investment of Rs 20,050 crore over the next five years. In June this year, the Modi government announced a Rs 15,000 crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund with an interest subsidy scheme to promote investment by private players and MSMEs in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants, which is a move expected to create 35 lakh jobs. These measures, along with the new farm laws, will boost productivity of the agrarian sector to areas beyond the growing of traditional crops like paddy or wheat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2018, promised to double farmers’ income, while speaking at the inauguration of a Rs 300 crore chocolate plant by Amul in Anand, the milk capital of India. He said the cooperative movement has shown that an alternative to economic prosperity other than socialism and capitalism exists. This is precisely where the farm laws come in. The new farm legislation seeks to protect farmers, with the central government stepping in when needed, via MSP, crop subvention schemes and related measures. When the market price of a crop falls, the Modi government intervenes via the market intervention scheme and price support scheme (MIS-PSS). Similarly, the new farm laws encourage modernisation and freedom from exploitative practices by giving farmers the liberty to profit from their produce as they deem fit, and without being told when to sell, where to sell, or whom to sell to.

But, how will contract farming help? The farm laws also allow for contract farming, whereby farmers can enter into contracts, at a predetermined price, even before the crop has been harvested, with private companies, aggregators, food processors and exporters. This is an unprecedented reform as it allows farmers to lock in a good price for their harvest and insulates them from any post-harvest product-related or price volatility.

Who will pay for the insurance, cold storage, machinery and farm equipment, when farmers enter into contracts with private players? The farm laws clearly state that these will be paid for by the counterparty and not the farmer. This will be a big relief for small and marginal farmers who can access superior farm technology and become ‘agripreneurs’ without having to go out of their pockets. Also, there will be an able-bodied resolution mechanism, whereby any dispute between the farmers and counterparties will be resolved in a time bound manner by a Conciliatory Board (CB), formed under the aegis of the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM). The CB will have representatives from both sides. Moreover, the sale, lease or mortgage of farmers’ land is prohibited.

How will farmers negotiate with private entities which are supposedly equipped with more business acumen? In the Budget 2020, the Modi government announced the formation of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), which are largely clusters of farmers who are brought together so that credit and other assistance can be extended to them. As a group, FPOs have demonstrated superior bargaining skills, when compared to standalone farmers operating as individuals. There are already about 5000 FPOs in India, of which, only a handful are private. More than 3900 FPOs are affiliated with NABARD or small farmers’ agri-business consortium (SFAC). Hence, allegations of the corporatisation and blanket privatisation of Indian agriculture are baseless. Moreover, the Modi government also plans to extend marketing support to states that implement the ‘one district, one product’ scheme with the help of FPOs.

Has the Modi government strengthened MSP? Of course. The numbers speak for themselves. The Congress-led UPA, between 2009 and 2014, purchased a measly 1.52 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of pulses at MSP, while the BJP-led NDA, between 2014 and 2019, purchased 76.85 LMT of pulses at MSP. For oilseeds, the numbers are 3.65 LMT under the UPA and 30.17 LMT under the Modi government. It needs to be mentioned here that while MSP is applicable to 23 crops (7 cereals, 6 pulses, 7 oilseeds and 4 commercial crops), in most states in India, over 50% of the MSP is cornered by just two crops, namely, paddy and wheat. MSP was started in the 1960s when India was a food-deficit nation. But today, India is a food-surplus economy, with agricultural production hitting a record high of 277.49 million tonnes, 284.83 million tonnes and 291.95 million tonnes in FY18, FY19 and FY20, respectively. Despite this, the Modi government has been provided hand-holding to the nation’s farmers as Narendra Modi has always cared for India’s annadata.

It also needs to be mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agrarian reforms have been far-reaching and inclusive. Over 6 crore farmers are taking the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), paying a meagre premium of just between 1.5% and 5%.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has famously said, “Mind is never a problem; mindset is”. Well, it is time for India’s hapless Opposition and pressure groups to wake up, smell the coffee and change their mindset, because the agri-reforms by the Modi government are pro-farmers and the farm laws are indeed India’s “Glasnost” moment, as these reforms will usher in greater transparency in India’s farm economy. For the Modi government, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”, is not a mere slogan. The journey of the “Bharatiya Kisan” from being the “Annadata” to becoming the “Urjadata” is at the core of Modinomics in more ways than one.

The author is an economist, national spokesperson for the BJP and the bestselling author of ‘Truth & Dare: The Modi Dynamic’. The views expressed are personal.

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I BROUGHT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF FITNESS CULTURE: DR MICKEY MEHTA

In an exclusive interview with NewsX India A-List, Dr Mickey Mehta spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching, and much more.

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Dr Mickey Mehta, Author & Health Guru, recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive interview, the author spoke about his journey as a health guru, fitness culture, life coaching and much more.

Speaking about his journey till now, he said “Many years back, I would say, when I actually started in the industry, as a career, that was the year 1980, so 1980-81. That was the time that coaches and fitness trainers had no respect, and there was not any formal training or qualifications available. People would say, ‘Kya karega jake, kya uthayega?’. I would say people had very scant respect for fitness trainers and they were called bodybuilders. We were put in the category of pehlwan, pehawani. I brought the whole concept of this culture—fitness culture, wellness culture, physical culture, and culturing the body. While you culture the body, culturing of the mind comes along. It translates into culturing your emotions, your psychology, and your spirit as well. So, anything to do with exercise, anything to do with training your body, shaping your body, culturing the body, translates into awareness because you become aware of more physical parts moving. You become aware of better by-product of circulation because if you circulate well, you don’t know how many liters of blood you have pumped inside because there is a feel-good factor.”

“It is about awareness that you have heart and you have lungs. Your heart beats for good things, for creativity, for sympathy, compassion and glow. When you do a lot of exercises, vanity comes to form because there is a glow because you are circulating. There is oxygen, so radiance, vibrance, so these are the by-products of fitness and physical culture. Mindlessness is not a negative connotation here. Mindlessness is when your mind is not you are and when the mind is, you are not, so you as a spirit are absent in the presence of mind and when you as a spirit are completely present in duality, the mind is absent. Mind is a negative phenomenon because the mind only lives and comes alive, either in the past or in the future. The mind is always wandering in the past. So, fears of the past keep haunting you, the anxiety of the future keeps you occupied,” he added

When asked about the plethora of people he has trained in the past and his experience of the same, he responded, “I think I had a short time of month and a half with Aamir Khan. While he was shooting for ‘Talaash’ and was also preparing for ‘Dhoom 3’. That short span with him was very interesting. My training with Lara Dutta also was very interesting. My training with Yukta Mukhi was very meaningful. With Priyanka Chopra, she was only 15 when I touched her, so not have memories with her but I am extremely proud of who she is today. They are the people who are very desiring and these are the people who are sincere as well. They were very disciplined. I remember Aamir used to call me at 3 AM in the night. The very first day, it was a 5:35 reporting and I thought that I would go there and he would then wake up. To my surprise, he was already up and about. These are very focused people, which is why they are successful, which is why they are leaders.”

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Mental health is not just about anxiety and stress: Divija Bhasin, mental health therapist

Mental & Emotional Health Therapist Divija Bhasin opened up to NewsX Influencer A-List about being a therapist in the digital age and responsibilities that come with being an influencer.

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Divija Bhasin, Mental & Emotional Health Therapist, recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special series NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive interview, Divija opened up about being a mental and emotional health therapist in the digital age.

Talking about the kind of content she puts out on the Internet, Divija shared, “I make all kinds of things. I don’t just put out psychology or mental health stuff. I put that stuff along with other random or relatable funny stuff, even things that are indirectly related to mental health. Mental health is not just anxiety and stress, it is way more than that. It is also about our family systems and our education and even abuse. I try to make it a little simpler, relatable, and put it out there based on trends. It is like entertainment and education together. “

When asked did therapy come into her life first or being an influencer come first, she responded, “I have always wanted to be a therapist. I have been studying psychology since class 11th. I started out on TikTok last year. I used to make random videos on TikTok, sometimes psychology-related videos. I was just doing it for fun because of the lockdown but then I started gaining a lot of followers. I was like I like it and I am not that bad at it. After it got banned, I switched to Instagram and that’s when I started putting out more serious stuff. I realised that the audience on Instagram likes that and they also appreciate it more. I tried it on TikTok but it didn’t work out that well. Here, my audience likes both. That’s why I put both. I became a therapist after I started making videos not because I wasn’t going to be but because I am still doing my second master’s. While making these videos, I started working with another clinical psychologist. Under her guidance, I took sessions and now since I have some experience, I do private practice.”

When prodded further if these two worlds collide, she added, “Not particularly. It feels like my audience and clients are able to differentiate. They don’t try to talk to me and I make my boundaries clear. In the first session, I send them a formal email, stating that I will not be able to interact with you outside the session, just to maintain boundaries. They all respect that. I haven’t had experiences where my clients would try to become friends with me or something like that on social media. They follow me and like my videos but that’s it.”

Speaking about responsibilities that come with being an influencer, considering the fact that with being a mental health professional, the responsibility is twofold, Divija expressed, “I do have to be extra careful compared to other influencers because I feel like people are looking up to me to give the right information. Every time I put out anything serious, I make sure to read a lot about it, including research papers, not just random things on the Internet, so that it is properly verified and also in case someone questions me and thinks that I am just giving my opinion.”

Mental health is not just anxiety and stress, it is way more than that. It is also about our family systems and our education and even abuse. I try to make it a little simpler, relatable, and put it out there based on trends. It is like entertainment and education together.

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HAPPY POTTER

NAMRATA KUMAR

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The colour green is deemed to be therapeutic and soothing to the eyes. A person with a green thumb is someone who looks after their plants with a passion. Researchers recommend consuming green vegetables and to spend time in green environments whenever one can.

Nurturing plants and even crooning to them is believed to accelerate their growth. It is an opportunity for budding singers to practice their vocal cords for audiences or lack thereof. Humour aside, spending time with our green friends is cheaper than therapy.

People addicted to wanderlust in the current Covid-19 scenario have limited turf to wander on. With the work-from-home culture, many want to create inspiring and cosy nooks to work in while the wanderlust seekers take it a notch up by setting up a tropical vibe at home.

One can go to town making different and imaginative arrangements with plants and pots. As a result of which India-made garden accessories are en vogue.

The pandemic has brought many close(r) to mother nature. The lessons mothers teach us the hard way!

Zoom into the Tier one cities, The Humans of Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore also have different motives in keeping plants in close proximity to them. These cities with Air Quality Indexes that make one cringe have people stressing over not having clean air.

There is a gamut of indoor plants that can diminish pollutants from the air. There is no limit to how creatively these things of joy can be placed. A few popular plants are Areca Palm, Snake Plant, Aloe Vera plant, Spider plant, and Money plant. Plants lend a feel-good vibe to an abode cutting down on toxins in the air rendering them the most cost-effective air purifiers.

Areca palms make aesthetic plants that need moist soil and some sunlight indoors.

Snake plants are the least demanding ones requiring water once a month.

Aloe Vera is a multi-utility plant. Not only does it alleviate the impurities in the air but the gel found inside the plant has therapeutic properties. It maintains its stature without a constant supply of H-2-O.

A home decor aficionado’s dream plant: the Money plant. This decorative plant is easy to look after with a few sprays of water once a week. It winds around the shape of what adjoins it (only if that happened with real money).

There is an array of made-in-India pots to choose from. They are made from myriad materials such as terracotta, brass, glazed ceramic and handmade crochet.

A playful homegrown brand, The Wishing Chair (inset) doles out some charming little hand-painted pots. These bump up the cuteness quotient of any corner. Glazed pot with floral and chevron motifs is their signature style.

For a formal look, plant takers can head over to Mora Taara for their gold-finish and textured planters. Whether you are placing your stack on your workstation or on the floor of a living room these gilded numbers add a luxe feel.

Elementary, a Jaipur brand has a variety of earthy pots. These are minimalist with their geometric lines and are available with subtle tones. They are great extensions to a contemporary style.

The June Shop, a quirky Kolkata-based shop has some game-changing planters too. Their hanging crochet planters are truly special. These babies are suitable for any space ranging from a cosy family room to a covered outdoor patio.

Whatever the time, it is always ripe to nurture what is natural. Plant some seeds of time to potter around. It is sure to do you good. Happy Pottering!

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I TRIED TO CREATE A CONVERSATION AROUND SEXUALITY: LEEZA MANGALDAS

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, Leeza Mangaldas opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media, and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

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Leeza Mangaldas, Sex Positive Content Creator recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Leeza opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

When asked about the content that she is creating on Instagram, Leeza said, “I tried to create a conversation around sexuality, sexual health, gender, the body, identity. My hope is that this can help normalise these conversations because sex remains so stigmatised for discussion. Most young people don’t receive information. It is a normal part of life. It’s something we deserve, that is, accurate judgement about sex. The fact that most people have a smartphone now, the internet allows us to access the stuff from the comfort of our homes and privacy from our headphones and phone. It’s really lensed. I also think that young people use social media so much, people don’t put their phones down. They take it even in the bathroom. So, if you want to connect to young people, social media seems like a great way to do it, but it’s so important to me to have the conversation. A typical attitude to sex education is like let’s teach people how not to have negative experiences. ‘Ok, so it’s very don’t do this, don’t do that, and kind of fear-based approach. If you have sex, you will get pregnant. If you have sex, you will get an STD. Oh, it’s really bad that if you have sex, you will be punished as if you have done something wrong or evil,’ This kind of messaging is there. Any official messaging intended is laced with judgement and punishment. All of this type of language, absence base, fear-based or even when it is well-meaning it’s like not to get an STD or not to get pregnant. Nobody is focusing on pleasure. Nobody knows how we can have the best experience, it’s just talking about how we cannot have a bad experience. I wanted that shift where we talk about sex and its normal, important and wonderful thing, rather than a scary bad thing.”

Talking about the topics she has been addressing via her videos, she said, “I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image. Like questions around penis size, questions around boobs size, questions around why is the skin of the vagina is darker than the rest of the body or lots of questions around first sexual experience. I have created a lot of content types trying to provide help with full information on what you should know before you have sex. Consent is a subject that is important to me, talking also about stuff like arousals, desires, and being in contact with your own body and pleasure and understanding that you can communicate better because I think communication is central to sexual experiences.”

Speaking about where she draws a line between helping younger people to get relevant information about sex and drawing a line with what is the legal age to have sex, she said, “The age of consent varies from country to country and changed over time and it’s a really tricky area without easy answers in terms of age of consent of what is legal to begin having sex. In India, it is 18 but there was a time when it was something around 12 here. Child marriage is a part of how things operated in your grandparents’ generations. In other countries, it’s 16 and in some countries, it’s still even younger than that. So, how old is appropriate or not appropriate 16, 17, 18, 20. This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer and it’s not up to me to decide. I’m also a citizen abiding by the laws, so of course, I maintain the age of consent. In India, it is 18 but I think the information, the education is something that has to start earlier and have to start when the child is learning the first word or when he learns the body parts. For example, you are teaching him this is your eyes, your nose, you are teaching them the words to think and why is it that we never teach them the correct names of the vagina, instead we say some other name like shame shame. You’re getting it, in such an age, this is shameful. So, of course, you should be appropriate but not for a one-time conversation, which you have with a young person. These are opportunities to normalise education around sexuality, body, sexual health, all through childhood because it’s usually the age 6 or seven somebody will ask mom, where do babies come from how would I get here or if you are expecting another sibling like how would it get in your stomach? Are you going to tell them that a bird dropped it or you found it in the dustbin? Why lie to the child? After there are picture books that simplify an explanation or consumptions and pregnancy, seeing things. When your adult teaches a child to get on her first periods, don’t you think they owe an explanation?”

I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image.

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Huge social media following comes with a certain responsibility: Rasika Shekar

Singer and Flautist Rasika Shekar, in an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, speaks about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media.

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Rasika Shekar, Singer and Flautist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the candid chat, Rasika opened up about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media. Read excerpts:

Speaking about her journey, Rasika shared, “My flute journey started when I was 13. I started learning Carnatic classical music, then I came down to India to study Hindustani music. I was born in Dubai, grew up in the US, so music brought me to India. I have been exploring a lot more genres when I’ve been living here. I have been lucky to work on some Bollywood films, working on a couple of background scores. I have also sung for a couple of movies, as a playback singer and it has been extremely exciting. I am very fortunate that I am able to do so.”

Revealing that one song that she liked the most and has stayed with her, Rasika said, “I would say, the second song called Hulla Re, from a movie called ‘2 States’. I loved doing that song because it is a very upbeat, fun song and I got to do it with Shankar ji and Siddharth Mahadevan. It was super fun. I also got to sing the part that was in Tamil, which is my mother tongue, so it was a brilliant experience.”

Talking about her huge following on social media and the responsibility that comes with it, she stated, “I feel very fortunate to have that because we are able to interact with people that are from so many different parts of the world, so many different parts of the country. Technology enables us to do that, which probably I never expected or anticipated to be able to. I think that comes with a certain responsibility, at least I like to see it that way because it pushes me to be able to learn more and make sure that I am putting out quality work and I love that part. At the same time, because I am connecting with a very different audience, I feel like it pushes my musical boundaries and ideas as well. It is a really nice give and takes kind of a scenario, so it is very encouraging and I love it.”

When asked what she considers as her main responsibility when you say that you feel responsible for the people that are looking up to you, she responded, “At the fundamental, I would say that for me, it is to put out the most honest music. That’s my first thing. If I look at something like promoting it, it would be a different thing. If the promotion happens as the side effect of what I do, that’s great. When I am putting out music, I make sure that it is the most honest music that I put out. Secondly, I am always making sure that I am continuously learning and evolving as a musician so that I can create something different. Every time I can create something that is of top quality, to the best of my ability and at the same time, I am able to interact and collaborate with different musicians so that we can bring people something new, something fresh. To top it all off, at the end of the day, if I can bring a smile to someone’s face through my music, I consider myself really blessed.”

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I WANT TO SEE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF INDIANS SELF-EMPLOYED: VEERANDER CHOWDARY

Digital marketer and an entrepreneur Veerander Chowdary spoke to NewsX India A-List about how the Covid-19 pandemic made him feel the need for educating people about self-employment so that they can ride the waves of such uncertain times with ease.

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Veerander Chowdary is a skilful digital marketer and an entrepreneur. But now, he has set on a mission to train people and make them self-dependent for employment. We hosted Veerander for our series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Describing his journey, Veerander said, “When we come to our journey, it’s quite interesting. So I’ll tell you why we started this. Before the first lockdown, there were so many people who were working, but after the lockdown, 7.3 million jobs vanished and people were in a situation where they couldn’t even fulfil their basic needs. That’s where I recognised why I can train people on how to become self-employed.” This led Veerander to start his own training course ‘BBA Mastery’. Chowdary claims that the course has trained 5,500 people so far and 40% of his trainees have succeeded in building self-employment opportunities for themselves. The digital marketer also said, “I have seen many digital marketing institutes, across India, which charge to the range of ₹75k to ₹1L.” He further added, “People from various backgrounds are investing in them and coming out without any practical knowledge. So that’s where I recognised why there is no need to spend such amounts on digital marketing courses when one can get the knowledge, for free, on YouTube.”

We asked Veerander what he feels sets his brand apart from his competitors, to which he replied, “Online course completion rate is very less because people don’t show any interest in completing the course. My competitors are training people using pre-recorded classes, but I give my students live classes every Saturday.” Veerander told us that he has spent the last 68 Saturdays giving live classes to his students. Moreover, he said that his course comes with lifetime access and at a reasonable price of ₹5,000, which he says makes his course stand out from what his competitors have to offer.

Speaking about the challenges in this endeavour, Veerander said, “The biggest challenge that I’m facing is the low course completion percentage. Out of 100 people registered for my course, only 20-25 people complete it.” He said his focus right now is on improving the overall content and adding value to the course so that more trainees complete it.

Our next question to Veerander was about the achievements in his mentoring journey. “Till now, I have a community of 2,76,000 students who are currently enrolled in my individual courses, out of which, 5,500 students are the paid students,” said Veerander. He continued, “When it comes to how many people manage to become self-employed, as I said, 5,500 people are learning through the courses and 40% of them are successful entrepreneurs right now where they are earning a minimum of ₹1L per month.”

For our final question, we asked Veerendar about his plans for the future. “I want to see a maximum number of Indians self-employed. Recently, we started our own edtech startup called Self Employment. We have launched the Android and iOS versions, as well, to give more learning flexibility to our students,” was his answer. Veerander concluded the response by expressing his desire to train at least 1 lakh people and make them self-dependent for employment.

Before finishing the interview, Veerander shared a few words of wisdom for the youth of the country and said, “Think creatively. Whatever field you are in right now, you need to stand out and you need to be creative. If you are the same as everyone, you will not get any recognition.” He also appealed to the youngsters to be of value to the people around them.

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