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Gen Naravane felicitates all contingents, participants of Army Day, R-Day Parade

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New Delhi [India], January 31 (ANI): Army Chief General MM Naravane felicitated all contingents and participants of the Army Day and Republic Day parade on Sunday.
The Bengal Engineers Group Contingent and Garhwal Rifles Regiment Contingent were declared winners and runners up, respectively.
“General MM Naravane COAS felicitated all Contingents and participants of the Army Day and Republic Day Parade 2021. The Bengal Engineers Group Contingent and Garhwal Rifles Regiment Contingent were declared winners and runners up respectively,” Army’s Western Command tweeted.
The Army Day was observed on January 15 to celebrate the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army – Field Marshal Kodandera M Cariappa while the Republic Day parade took place on January 26. (ANI)

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TMC enumerates work done for tea workers’ welfare

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By Tarak Sarkar
Siliguri (West Bengal) [India], March 5 (ANI): Ahead of the assembly polls, the Trinamool Congress enumerated the measures it had taken for the welfare of tea workers, but other political parties contradicted these claims.
Aloke Chakraborty, Corninator, North Bengal, INTTUC, labour wing of the TMC said: “The daily wages of the tea workers have been increased from Rs 67 to Rs 202. The government has introduced Cha Sundari Project under which workers got Pucca houses. It has also provided free ration up to June 2021. The pension of Rs 1,000 under the Joy Johar Scheme for the tribal has been implemented.
However, the opposition parties in the state claimed that the state government has done nothing for tea workers.
“The hike in wages of teas workers would not benefit them. The state government yet to implement the long-pending minimum wages for them,” said Saman Phatak, former Member of Parliament and CITU Darjeeling secretary.
Praveen Agarwal, president, Siliguri district committee said that the state government did not allow the Centre to work for tea workers. But if they form government in West Bengal, they would address the problems of the tea garden workers.
On the other hand, the tea garden workers expressed their disappointment, saying that political parties promise a lot before elections, but after that, they become invisible.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.
The tea garden is the backbone of North Bengal’s industry. It also brings natural beauty to the region.
The lush green tea fields along the slopes and the foothills of the Himalayas are a centre of attraction to people around the world. It is the largest private-sector employer with mostly woman and tribal people depends on their livelihood directly or indirectly in the industry.
North Bengal has more than 400 tea gardens in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars region. At least five lakh people are directly or indirectly connected with the industry. But, during the past decade the tea industry has been facing a crisis. (ANI)

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Fire breaks out at Karnataka’s Bellandur Lake

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], March 5 (ANI): A fire broke out at Bellandur Lake in the Bengaluru district of Karnataka on Thursday evening.
Lake Marshals and Sarjapur fire personnel reached the spot to douse the blaze. Officials brought the fire under control with the help of three fire engines.
Chemical effluents and sewage are discharged into the lake which can catch fire.
Further details are awaited. (ANI)

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A panel discussion on maintaining mental well-being in Covid times

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Psychonnect recently presented a thought-provoking panel discussion on ‘Mental well-being in the new normal’ on NewsX. The discussion revolved around mental health, building resilience in the new normal, overcoming insomnia, and how an organisation like Psychonnect is leading the way towards maintaining one’s mental well-being in the new normal.

The discussion was joined by Divya Ganguly Mallick, senior academic and psychotherapist based in the UK, co-founder of Psychonnect; Professor Michael Gradisar, director of Wink which is a website dedicated to sleep education; and Professor Amanda Kirby, CEO of ‘Do-it solutions’ and is also an academic who holds expertise in neurodiversity.

In her introductory remarks, Divya talked about the challenges that one has to deal with after the pandemic, “The world might be a different place when we get out of this pandemic because this new normal that we are talking about has undergone a lot of changes and we have seen all types of changes emerging out of these times which might turn out to be both shocking and unpleasant. Once we go back to our respective colleges, schools, and workplaces, we will notice that a lot of social gatherings or even social interactions will have to be limited, daily activities like boarding a train or a bus might feel strange and scary. Initially, these changes will seem hard to accept and it will take some time to sink in.”

She also spoke about how radical acceptance and letting go of the bitterness shall help individuals in embracing the change. “I encourage everyone to be emotionally aware, understand their emotions while also respecting the range of other perspectives that you might come across. Reflect on whatever you have learned during this lockdown. Please seek help early because every individual’s response is going to be different towards unexpected changes. Feelings of anxiety, irritability, lack of appetite, and even sleep, are all signs that you might need some extra support to cope up with certain challenges,” added Divya.

Taking the conversation ahead, Professor Michael talked about how every individual reacts differently to certain changes and how seeking help in the early stages can help one tackle anxiety and severe depression. He said, “I think a lot of people have realised that when it comes to sleep, especially when you sacrifice some of your sleep, you start to notice that you don’t feel the same way and probably one of the first things you notice when you go through a bad sleep considering the situation has been the same for a few nights in the row, you start to have less of an appetite. Studies have shown that when people are sleep-restricted, they are always in a bad mood and are unnecessarily intolerant towards having personal interactions.”

Talking about how early diagnosis of insomnia and the early treatment is important and might save one from depression, Professor Michael asserted, “Insomnia is a very serious issue and one should never be negligent about it. To put it simply, it can be difficult in waking up or getting back to sleep. Another symptom of insomnia includes the feeling when you get up and don’t feel energised, now if something like this goes on for months, and perhaps a year, then you are at serious risk of developing depression. One of the very first symptoms of depression is insomnia and unlike depression which is very difficult to treat insomnia is comparatively easy in terms of treatment. While depression takes around 10-12 sessions of mental counselling, insomnia can be treated within half the time. So, if you are facing issues or differences in your sleeping pattern, take note of it and seek help as soon as you can.”

Addressing the reopening of schools for children and how they are going to deal with it, Professor Amanda spoke about how the lockdown has been difficult for many families and especially for parents with children suffering from ADHD, Dyslexia, and Autism for whom learning is a patient process and is challenging. “The key lesson is that most parents are not teachers, balancing work life and children is not easy, and for some people who don’t have the required capital or the resources and lack the computer skills because of poor literacy were not able to cope up well with the pandemic. So, the primary thing is we were not ready for this and whether we will be ready or not is a question that persists. For some families, it has been particularly challenging, the way their children attend, communicate, and deal with learning is a very different process and is possibly difficult. These children require constant care and patience and children of different age groups have different demands,” she said. Professor Amanda further shared how routine and structure should be encouraged in children so that they know what to expect and how to regulate their curriculum, develop healthy habits, and balanced sleeping patterns.

Speaking about the smartphone obsession that is relevant among teenagers and the significant impact it has on their well-being, the panellists discussed how the content needs to be regulated and the screen-time needs to be reduced so that it doesn’t take a toll on a child’s mental health. They addressed certain queries from the audience and gave solutions on how to reach out to organisations in India to seek help, helpline numbers for professional help, and how Psychonnect is paving the way and working towards addressing mental health issues.

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BHASKAR MENON: THE ICONIC INDIAN IN THE GLOBAL MUSIC INDUSTRY

From discovering phenomenal talent to producing almost 30% of the world’s recorded music at his prime to nourishing long-term associations with the likes of The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, Bhaskar Menon has been a force to reckon with in the music industry.

Bhuvan Lall

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On the wet Sunday afternoon of 1 August 1971, Pandit Ravi Shankar, the best‐known ambassador of Indian music to the western world, played before a crowd of over 20,000 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Accompanied by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan on the sarod, Kamala Chakravarty on the tambura and Ustad Alla Rakha on tabla, Ravi Shankar performed “Bangla Dhun”. The renowned sitar player was the moving force behind what was labelled as the greatest rock spectacle of the decade—The Concert For Bangladesh.

The idea for a concert originated in June 1971 when Ravi Shankar heard that Pakistani troops had destroyed the property of his guru, Ustad Alauddin Khan, in East Pakistan. TV networks broadcast heart-breaking images of millions of refugees relocating to India to escape the genocide unleashed by military dictator General Yahya Khan. An anguished Ravi Shankar poured his heart out to his friend George Harrison. The quiet Beatle, deeply moved by the unfolding humanitarian crisis, decided to speak loudly with his actions. The musicians organized two benefit concerts to raise $25,000 for the homeless refugees. Devoted to the study of Eastern beliefs, Harrison consulted with an Indian astrologer before setting 1 August as the date for the mega event. Then he worked the phones twelve hours a day and called his fellow rockstars. Within four weeks Harrison lined up the all-star cast of Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann and Badfinger for the concert. Even though the Beatles had split, Ringo Starr dropped everything to participate in the concert at the Madison Square Garden.

This act of conscience captured the imagination of the Americans. Thousands waited overnight in super-cool New York to buy tickets for the show billed as ‘George Harrison & Friends’. In ten hours, 36,000 tickets were sold for the two shows – an afternoon set and an evening set. As the concert began, Ravi Shanker drew tremendous applause even while he fine-tuned his instrument. Next, the two former Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, thrilled the cheering fans with many songs plus “My Sweet Lord” that filled the venue with chants of “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama”. Then Harrison, in a white two-piece suit with the Om symbol embroidered on the lapel, brought out a surprise guest, revealing, “I’d like you to meet Bob Dylan”. The overjoyed spectators went wild, and Dylan in his usual Levis jacket, sang his most famous songs, including “Blowing in the Wind”. The audience responded with a tumultuous ovation. A seven-minute Dutch TV documentary regarding the tragedy on India’s eastern border was screened and the concert ended with a performance of Harrison’s appeal for the refugees in his heartfelt single, “Bangladesh”. Millions of people worldwide heard and read the name Bangladesh for the first time. Dramatically, it became a solid entity culturally and cerebrally, though it was not yet a physical actuality. Eleven days after the concert, the gate money of $243,418.50 was presented to UNICEF for the refugees. On 16 December 1971, the Indian Armed Forces liberated Bangladesh, and three days later, Ravi Shankar and George Harrison’s “The Concert For Bangladesh” was released globally as a beautifully packaged three-album box-set. It topped the charts, eventually winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. The first of a kind, it has since raised over $17 million and inspired the multi-star Live Aid along with thousands of other major charity concerts around the world.

One significant individual behind the worldwide promotion and success of “The Concert For Bangladesh” album was Vijaya Bhaskar Menon. Decades before Indians routinely became CEOs of top American companies, Menon was the first Asian to break the glass ceiling in corporate America as the Los Angeles-based President and Chief Executive Officer of one of the world’s largest music companies, Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). In fact, Menon as an industry leader in the 1970-80s singlehandedly changed the face of the international music industry. 

Bhaskar Menon, the son of K.R.K. Menon, the former Finance Secretary of India, studied at the Doon School and completed his graduation in Economics at St. Stephens College in 1953. A favourite of Professor Keshab Chandra Nag, young Menon also excelled at tennis in the inter-university matches. Groomed for the Indian Foreign Service, he entered Christ Church College at Oxford where, serendipitously in 1956, Joseph Lockwood, Chairperson of EMI, impressed by his brilliance, recruited him as an Executive Assistant. In December 1957, he was directed to the EMI-owned The Gramophone Company of India in Calcutta (Kolkata now). This incredibly sharp and attention-grabbing executive rapidly rose up the EMI ladder in India, first as Commercial Manager and then as Chairperson, Managing Director and Chief Executive in 1964. Under his leadership, the company dominated over the Indian film market. It was here that he befriended Raj Kapoor. With the launch of His Master’s Voice’s (HMV) inexpensive record player, EMI cornered the hardware business too. In mid-January 1971, Menon was dispatched to Los Angeles to scrutinize the $18 million loss made by EMI’s Capitol Records. Subsequently, Lockwood on his annual trip to Hollywood fired the two Presidents at Capitol and on 22 April 1971, The New York Times reported that the 37-year-old Indian Bhaskar Menon had assumed the Presidency at Capitol Industries Inc. Tasked with making the companies profitable, he entered the distinctive 13-story Capitol Records Tower that resembled a stack of records and was one of the iconic landmarks in Hollywood, California. Above his office, a blinking light spelled out the word Hollywood in Morse code. Here Menon created music history. A great team-builder, his dictum for his workforces was simple: “Uncompromising excellence in what you do goes without saying. We expect more than that!” Although his hard-nosed treatment of the complicated situation earned him adversaries in every section of the American music industry, Menon after marathon all-night meetings turned around the financially troubled Capitol. In two years, he showed a profit of $4 million. Greater success and fame awaited him.

With an ear for recognizing phenomenal talent and the skill to nurture it, Menon went on to score quite a few hits. In January 1973, the British quartet Pink Floyd finished recording compositions with heavy lyrical reflections on the human condition at EMI’s state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London. Menon later remembered, “Hearing that record for the first time was one of those extremely rare personal, mesmeric experiences I had only known twice before when I first heard, pre-release, “The Beatles’ White Album and Sgt Pepper”.” Menon straightaway took the audacious decision to put Capitol’s entire weight behind the revolutionary album. Released on 1 March 1973, “The Dark Side of the Moon” was a career-defining achievement for Menon as it sold more than 45 million units worldwide and ultimately spent a mind-boggling 937 weeks on the Billboard 200. Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, confirming Menon’s power held, said, “The other thing that has to be recognized was a man called Bhaskar Menon…  Bhaskar set out making this record number one, and he did it. He motivated the company… he did whatever was necessary… I think without Bhaskar, the record would have done better than the others, but certainly wouldn’t have picked up the momentum it did.” Music critics applauded the album and Menon humbly acknowledged, “Each of us who was closely involved with the project… were pretty intuitively certain that we were unlikely to ever encounter a comparably stunning experience again soon in our professional careers.”

The debonair Indian sporting a French beard also knew the value of cultivating long-term professional associations with the talent. In her memoirs, Linda Ronstadt recalled meeting Menon, “I had never met him before and was surprised to find a charming, refined and intelligent gentleman from India with beautiful manners. His sensitive, kindly demeanor was quite a change from the cigar-chomping American record industry men I had come to see as a defining stereotype”. Later in 1973, Menon signed an unknown British group called Queen with a sensational lead singer – Freddie Mercury – who acknowledged Menon as one of his true friends in the music business. One night in 1974, Menon’s phone rang at 4:30 am. An executive of Capitol excitedly spoke about meeting a writer with a marvelous song called “Rhinestone Cowboy”. In the next hour, Capitol’s entire decision-making team was closing a deal with the singer, Glen Campbell, at Menon’s home in Beverly Hills. That evening, the company recorded the unforgettable song. By 1975, Capitol’s recovery was complete. It landed gold albums by George Harrison, Glen Campbell, Helen Reddy, Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys and Tina Turner, plus its best-selling catalog comprised of The Beatles, Cliff Richard, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond and Olivia Newton‐John. Capitol also signed several recording stars including Blondie, Bob Seger, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Heart, Sheena Easton. Venturing into classical music, Capitol represented Maria Callas, Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert von Karajan. Later, Capitol had considerable success with newer performers such as Billy Idol, Dr. Hook, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, The Pet Shop Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richard Marx and Roxette. Additionally, the company had a 50 percent interest in Britain’s Thames TV and also produced such masterpieces as the multi-Oscar winning Deer Hunter, Murder on the Orient Express and David Lean’s Passage to India.

In his prime, Menon was responsible for the production of almost 30 percent of the world’s recorded music and as the commander-in-chief of a multinational enterprise managed offices in 46 countries. He was respected as an equal opportunity employer and Billboard recorded that his intense expressions were matched by the intensity with which he conducted his business. However, in between his demanding schedules, he found time to get married to Sumitra Paniker in 1972 and they raised a family in California. During Menon’s many decades as the head of a global music giant, he was the most powerful man in the music industry and New Musical Express termed the self-made Indian multimillionaire CEO as “The Man Who Runs Rock & Roll”.

Menon was closely connected with the careers of numerous superstars, however, his bond with The Beatles was exceptional. In 1968, George Harrison had arrived in Bombay (Mumbai now) to work on a soundtrack for a 1960s hippy movie—Wonderwall. Besieged by numerous fans, he autographed a The Beatles’ album for Lata Mangeshkar. Recalling his time in India, Harrison appreciated Menon’s role in generously making resources available for recording his soundtrack and stated, “I worked with Indian musicians at the EMI/HMV studios in Bombay. Mr Bhaskar Menon brought a two-track stereo machine all the way from Calcutta on the train for me, because all they had in Bombay was a mono machine.” Then on 13 November 1971, following The Concert for Bangladesh, a misinformed Harrison on The Dick Cavett Show alleged in barroom language that Capitol and Menon were holding up the concert recording for monetary purposes. Maintaining the sanctity of the charity concert, Menon courteously contended, “Harrison is clearly not in possession of all the facts’’. Harrison, on learning that an unethical middleman was trying to bring Capitol to its knees, profusely apologised to Menon for his outburst. A week later, Capitol harmoniously resolved the dispute and subsequently the album became a musical phenomenon.

Menon who brought out several The Beatles albums also settled the timeworn lawsuits between Apple Records and Capitol, asserting, “We see not the slightest value or benefit of pursuing this long, drawn-out, dust-laden series of litigations. … In some quarters, there is somebody who is benefiting from this. I can certainly say we aren’t, and I can’t imagine the Beatles themselves are.” Then on the cold and sad evening of 8 December 1980, gunshots rang out at the entrance of the Dakota, an apartment building overlooking the west side of the Central Park in Manhattan. It was the last day in the life of John Lennon. Waking up to the shocking news in his Mayfair apartment in London, Menon, a close friend of Lennon, felt a personal loss. He immediately rushed off to Heathrow to board the next Concorde for JFK to meet with Yoko. Outside the commercial side of the intensely profit-driven music business, he was sincerely involved in the lives of his artists. Even now Lennon’s private handwritten letter to Menon from the 1970s concerning the promotion of Yoko Ono’s new album and The Beatles not reuniting is displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in New York City.

The words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, are perhaps apt for Menon. Knighted by the Government of France in 1990, the legendary CEO is not some top executive living in the past. He continues to provide consultancy services in the entertainment sector. Decades after accidentally stumbling into the world of music and being a celebrity that celebrities wanted to meet, Bhaskar Menon remains ever passionate conceding, “There’s one thing about this business, it spoils you for anything else. Once you get into this you can’t ever work in any orthodox business again.”

Bhuvan Lall is the author of “The Man India Missed The Most: Subhas Chandra Bose” and “The Great Indian Genius Har Dayal”. He is currently writing the biography of Sardar Patel. He can be reached at writerlall@gmail.com.

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BL Agro plans to open 100 exclusive brand outlets under brand ‘Nourish’ by FY 2021-22

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BL Agro Limited, India’s leading FMCG company, on Thursday launched its 12th Exclusive Brand Outlet (EBO) ‘Nourish’. This is the company’s 12th EBO in India and 1st in Delhi. The Nourish store will retail a wide range of 80+ products that the company offers. The company is amongst the fastest growing FMCG brands in the country and has been committed to providing quality food products over many years.

Located at Janpath Bhawan, a prime location in Central Delhi, the exclusive store was inaugurated by famous Bollywood singer Kailash Kher. Commenting on the launch, Ghanshyam Khandelwal, Chairman & Managing Director, BL Agro Limited, said, “Since the launch of our first Nourish store in Padrauna, our experience has been nothing short of extraordinary. We are humbled by the response we have received till date, and our passion towards providing an ever-growing nation with the right nutrition, is what sets us apart. We are excited for our customers to experience our brand this way and hope we can help people understand the importance of choosing the right nutrition.”

BL Agro boasts of one of the largest distribution networks amongst all branded edible oil and food product players in the country with over 50,000 retailers, across 200 cities in 13 states of India – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jammu, and in Nepal.

Brand Nourish came into existence in the year 2018 and comes with a promise for nutrition. The brand offers an entire range of food products typically used in an Indian kitchen including Atta, Rice, Pulses, Ghee & Oils, Dry Fruits, Papad, Pickles, Murabba, Spices, and more. Each Nourish product is packed with superior quality ingredients and is produced with finest processes that ensure maximum retention of nutrients. The company has 11 Nourish Exclusive Brand Outlets operational across Padrauna, Gorakhpur, Bareilly, Hathras, Jaipur (2), NOIDA, Lucknow, Sonipat and Surat. The 12th outlet is now open at Janpath Bhawan in central Delhi.

Well-known Bollywood singer Kailash Kher is also the voice behind Nourish Brand anthem. Unveiling brand’s fifth EBO he said, “It’s great to be a part of Nourish once again. I have

been a strong believer of right eating habits and when I see a brand working so hard to make sure they provide enriching food, it’s really inspiring”.

BL Agro remains bullish on its expansion and plans to open 100 Exclusive Brand Outlets (EBOs) in India in the next FY 2021-22. The Company will follow a franchise model to further expand and penetrate the Indian market. The company’s turnover in the FY 2019-20 was INR 2500 crores and is expected to grow 30% YOY.

For more details contact:

Manauti Walecha

+91 98108 64864

Manika Bassi

+91 99997 89946

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PUNJAB POLICE ARRESTS 855 DRUG SMUGGLERS, SUPPLIERS IN WEEKLONG DRIVE

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Chandigarh: Under a week-long special drive launched against the drug menace, the Punjab Police have arrested 855 drug smugglers/suppliers after registering 672 FIRs under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act across the state. The drive commenced on February 25, 2021.

Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Dinkar Gupta, in a press communique, stated that under this drive the police have recovered 16kg heroin, 35kg opium, 46kg ganja, 12 quintals poppy husk and 4.61 lakh intoxicant pills/capsules among other drugs after carrying out cordon and search operations in drug affected areas besides laying nakas at vulnerable routes across the state.

He said that during this drive, the police have prepared 18 proposals to forfeit illegally acquired properties by drug smugglers/suppliers worth Rs 9.66 crores. The police have also arrested 34 Proclaimed Offenders (POs) of NDPS cases, said the DGP.

He said that as part of the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government’s zero tolerance policy against drugs, the Punjab Police is committed to eradicate the drug menace from the state.

Meanwhile, extensive anti-drug drives are being launched by the Punjab Police to combat the menace of drugs from the border state of Punjab.

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