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Govt apathy forces family to keep Covid patient’s body at home for 18 hours

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A family in Kolkata’s Behala area was forced to keep at home the body of a 55-year-old coronavirus patient for 18 hours. According to sources, the patient’s family members tried to contact Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) officials, the local councillor and the police but received no response from them in cremating the body as per government protocol.

The patient reportedly died of acute respiratory trouble at around 10.30 pm on Sunday. He had tested Covid positive earlier that day.

The family members and the deceased’s neighbours claimed that there was no response till late afternoon on Monday. Meanwhile, six family members of the victim have also tested positive for Covid-19. The residents of Behala’s Sahapur now fear a spread of the virus in the area and have requested the family members of the victim to stay indoors.

In another incident, a 68-year-old suspected Covid-19 patient died while being taken to the hospital in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district. The incident took place at Bongaon Sub-divisional hospital on Saturday when the patient, Madhav Narayan Dutt, was being taken to the hospital.

His wife had asked for help while trying to drag him to the hospital ward. But no one came forward to help. She had then pleaded for help from bystanders but again no one came forward. Later, doctors declared the patient to be dead.

“We have come to know about the incident. It is pathetic. We are looking into it. We will take action if anyone is found guilty,” said Bongaon sub-divisional hospital superintendent Shankar Prasad Mahato.

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Blending the best of global education

Is this the watershed moment in Indian education history? A peep into the education system the world over will help throw better light on the new National Education Policy.

Subramanian Krishnamoorthy

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Education is a national building tool that is historically linked to the progress of all nations. With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality, a significant gender gap and an urgent need to boost inclusive growth in many countries, India has no time to lose in providing the best education possible for all students. The announcements made in NEP-2020 are a signal to the world that India is setting the stage for conquering 2020-2030. NEP-2020 is a harbinger of hope, progress and a potluck of great practices from across the globe.

National Research Foundation

The race to the top of the world often begins with the prowess of research and intellectual property that it holds in the form of patents and innovations. NRF that will be set up through an Act of Parliament to fund, mentor, incentivise and build capacity for quality research across the country in all disciplines will allow India to compete with the US and China. The amount of wealth and opportunities R&D can create is humongous and let me take you through some numbers. Between September 2018 and August 2019 Stanford received $49.3 million in gross royalty revenue from 875 technologies for subjects as varied as antibody therapies, data analytics, digital music, recombinant DNA, etc. Forty-nine of the inventions generated $100,000 or more in royalties and five inventions generated $1 million or more. The race for research and patents was dominated by the US and Japan until 2000 and in the last decade, China has upped its ante and is among the top three in the world. NEP’s clear vision to promote research will yield dividends in the long run when we will start seeing India in an annual report published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation alongside or ahead of China.

Teacher Education

 Schools with outstanding performance are schools where teachers learn — not only students.

Though Finland is often quoted as an exemplar model of education, The Finnish story was the result of a long, slow and steady process, not the result of a single policy, programme or administration. Most observers have come to believe that, if there is a key to the success of the Finnish system, it is the quality of their teachers which is an outcome of restructuring teacher education, with the responsibility for teacher training moving to Finland’s universities.

Similarly, NEP aims to ensure that teachers are given the highest quality training in content, pedagogy and practice by moving the teacher education system into multidisciplinary colleges and universities. NEP brings focus on universal high-quality teacher education, typically one to four years in duration, featuring extensive clinical training as well as coursework. Apart from mentoring for all beginners, a reduced teaching load and shared planning time would add impetus to the initiative.

Curriculum Revamp: Integration

The boldest of the decisions in NEP come in the curriculum. Kudos to the new Ministry of Education for breaking the barrier of subjects and giving birth to an integrated curriculum that will allow children to pursue learning holistically without the restrictions often imposed by subject boundaries. The important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking, citizenship, character development and communication transcend the disciplines. Thus, it makes sense that curriculum integration offers an effective way to teach and maintain these 21stcentury capabilities and possibly boost academic achievement. The US has successfully demonstrated the working of STEM where science, technology, engineering and mathematics were integrated. The evolution of STEAM from STEM to include arts is remarkable and NEP has a similar vision.

Reduction of syllabus

 The proposed reduction in the syllabus could be a double-edged sword and we have a lesson to learn from the yutori (relaxation) education reform of Japan. The yutori education policy is a set of school reforms that were aimed at depressurising school life which had been gradually introduced since the late 1970s and faded out in the 2000s. It is primarily known for large cutbacks in subject contents and school hours. The yutori reforms did not lessen the pressure on students to do well in school nor did they reduce the competition in the educational race significantly. Instead, new demands were created over the last two decades, which are likely to be filled by the Japanese juku-industry (Local tutoring/coaching). There are many other interesting developments including support for gifted students, mental and physical health and well-being of all students, books with local content and multilingualism that are commendable.

 The need to draw parallels between the proposed educational reforms and developments across the globe arose as we are witnessing a new India emerging in the world map which is happy to share the gift of yoga and willing to imbibe the best practices from everywhere. Rising India gives equal importance to its roots as much as it does to its wings. This new India and the people driving such policies are making unprecedented efforts to give birth to a pulsating and dynamic country. An India that aims to be among the top three economies in the world and that dares to make bold decisions to get there. Will the NEP act as the compass while India sets its sail to conquer the world? Only time will tell.

The author is a well-known educationist and CEO of Meccademia Education Group with its presence in UAE, Netherlands and US.

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India doing 5 lakh Covid-19 tests daily: Harsh Vardhan

In the last 24 hours, a record 52,123 coronavirus cases were reported in the country, taking the total tally to 15,83,792.

Aishvarya Jain

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India reported over 50,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time since the pandemic broke out. This is the biggest one-day spike in cases so far. In the last 24 hours, 52,123 Covid-19 cases were reported, taking the total tally to 15,83,792, while 775 have died in the last 24 hours which took the total tally of fatalities to 34,968. The total number of people who have recovered is 10,20,582 and the recovery rate is 64.43%, while the positivity rate is 11.67%. Union minister Harsh Vardhan said, “India is currently conducting around five lakh Covid-19 tests every day and the plan is to double the number in the next one-two months.”

Maharashtra reported 266 deaths and 11,147 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases have now reached 4,11,798 including 2,48,615 recovered cases and 1,48,150 active cases.

Delhi reported 1,093 new Covid-19 positive cases, while 1091 patients got recovered and 29 people died due to deadly virus in the last 24 hours. The total cases rose to 1,34,403 including 1,19,724 recovered so far. In the national capital, 3,936 have so far scumbled to death due to coronavirus.

Karnataka reported 6,128 new Covid-19 cases and 83 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases in the state stands at 1,18,632 including 69,700 active cases and 2,230 deaths.

Tamil Nadu reported 5,864 new cases and 97 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 2,39,978 cases and 3,838 deaths till date. 5,295 patients were discharged today. The state has 57,962 cases still active.

Andhra Pradesh reported highest single-day spike of 10,167 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total cases in the state to 1,30,557, including 1,281 deaths and 60,024 cases of discharge. Haryana reported 623 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of cases in the state to 34,254. There are 6,497 active cases while death toll stands at 417.

Gujarat reported yet another highest single-day spike of 1,159 Covid-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours. The state’s tally rose to 60,285, including 13,793 active cases; 44,074 patients have been discharged from different hospitals across the state. The death toll stands at 2,418 in the state so far.

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3 Assam Rifles soldiers killed near India-Myanmar border

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Three Assam Rifles personnel were killed and five injured in an ambush near India-Myanmar border at Chandel area in Manipur on Wednesday night. A senior government officer said that a group of 15 soldiers were returning from an area dominance patrol at Khongtal in Chandel area when an improvised explosive device exploded. Thereafter they came under heavy fire from the members of an insurgent group.

“On 29 July, 2020, an area domination patrol in Khongtal, Chandel dist, Manipur. At 18:45 hrs the patrol party got ambushed on their way back,” said a senior government officer.

The incident happened about three kilometers from the India-Myanmar border. They were returning to their post after three days of operation along the international border. The deceased have been identified as Havildar Pranay Kalita, Rifleman Y.M. Konyak and Rifleman Ratan Salim. The five jawans who sustained “minor injuries” have been shifted to the military hospital. The government has stated that no insurgent group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

 “The local administration and intelligence agencies are working to identify the insurgent group which carried out the attack on the patrolling party,” said a senior government officer.

Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force under Union Home Ministry, comprises of Indian Army soldiers and officers and their own cadre officials and officers.

On June 23, a report published by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) stated that Indian insurgents from the country’s north eastern states, who have been sheltered for years in Myanmar, present security challenges for India.

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‘Covid-19 situation will improve after September’

‘It is unlikely that we get a vaccine in the next two months. Right now, everyone is confused,’ says astrologer Dr Aashish Shah.

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Renowned astrologer Dr Aashish Shah recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. Dr Shah also works as an Energy and Vastu consultant.

 Speaking on the importance of astrology in the time of Covid-19, he explained how astrologers had actually known of such a pandemic beforehand. “In astrology, there was a lot of talk that there could be a major disease like this coming soon, and that no one would be able to find a cure.” On the issue of the vaccine, he said, “It’s highly unlikely for the next two months that we get a vaccine. Right now, everyone’s really confused.”

Energy management is Dr Shah’s specialty. He feels that negative energy is “running rampant’ through our society at the present moment. “There are two types of energy — positive and negative. When you go into a mandir, the kind of energy you feel there, that’s positive. But these days, especially due to the pandemic, there’s a lot of negative energy going around.”

Dr Shah’s advice is to change our thought processes and our thinking in order to better manage our energy. “Our thinking really impacts our energy greatly. Whatever you think, that eventually manifests itself in the universe. If we throw a ball up, it comes back. If we think positive, then that positivity will come back to us. We need to look at on the bright side of our current condition; did we ever think we’d be able to do all of our work from home? Did we ever think we’d be having this much free time to spend with our loved ones? Life has its ups and downs, and we need to realise that.”

 During these uncertain times, people are swamped by multiple fears and Dr Shah feels he’s able to provide them with some reassurance. “I try to assuage people’s fears, and tell them look these days will pass, but you need to just focus on yourself right now. Don’t waste the time you’ve got right now, go and seek out and experience divine energy.”

He says it’s not the time for astrology per se; instead, it’s a time to spread a positive message. “These last 3 months, I haven’t done too much astrology, but what I’ve tried to do is provide people with a positive assurance that it will get better.”

Looking ahead towards the future, Dr Shah predicts that there will be an improvement in the fight against Covid-19, after September. “It’s still not over though, there are still a whole lot of cases in India and all across the world. However, if you look at it on a percentage basis, you’ll see that it’s actually not that many. So yes, we have to be careful, and we have to protect ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we keep living in fear of this.”

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J&K govt says claims of Soz detention false, SC closes case

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday closed the habeas corpus petition filed by senior Congress leader and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz’s wife challenging his detention order. The Jammu & Kashmir administration informed the apex court that Soz was not placed under detention.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah disposed the plea stating that the counter affidavit filed by the Jammu & Kashmir administration said that there was no restriction on Soz’s movements.

“The averments in the present petition, in respect to house arrest/detention of Prof Saifuddin Soz are false, frivolous and baseless, as he has not been detained at all, let alone under the provisions of Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, as alleged in the petition under reply,” said the J&K administration.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Soz, argued on the contradictory stand of the government. Singhvi insisted that one fine day in August, the government put him under detention, and in the counter affidavit said he is not under detention.

Justice Mishra replied that the affidavit stated that he had travelled outside of J&K. Singhvi contended that his client was not well, and he had only travelled for medical reasons. “It is submitted that the petitioner has attempted to mislead this court by placing unsubstantiated and wrong facts of his alleged detention before this court… it is respectfully submitted that no restriction whatsoever has ever been imposed on the movement of Prof Soz, who is a categorised protectee,” said the counter affidavit.

The bench said in view of the reply filed, the plea is disposed of. “We will not entertain it any further,” said the top court.

With IANS inputs

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The power of vision in the time of corona

Dr Rahil Chaudhary holds the record for maximum laser specs removal surgeries in India. He talks about the future of Indian medicine.

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Dr Rahil Chaudhary, Director, Eye -7 Hospitals, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. Having grown up in a family of doctors, he developed a passion for medicine from a young age. “I grew up in a family of doctors, my maama, chaacha, all of them were doctors. My father was an eye surgeon, so I was kind of following in his footsteps. That is where you develop a passion for the field you see them working every day.”

Dr Chaudhary holds the record for most number of laser specs removal surgeries in India. He attributes this to the new laser removal technology, ‘Contoura Vision’, which Eye-7 hospitals have been utilising. “It’s a matter of chance. We were the first to introduce laser specs removal, and we recently introduced Contoura Vision. It’s a cutting-edge technique which can give you ‘supervision’ after the surgery, and it’s housed only in select few facilities in India. That’s why you’re seeing people from all over India, and even around the world, trying to get the surgery.”

Ophthalmology is an elective field, and deals mostly with the elderly. Because of this, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on his work. “We don’t have many emergency procedures, so the elderly have been avoiding surgeries right now. Obviously, nowadays, old people are scared to move out.” He says, though, that there are two sides to the story. “On the contrary, I see a lot of youngsters now coming in for their laser specs removal surgeries. Earlier, they wouldn’t, but now, I think during lockdowns and work from home they are actually able to make time for these procedures, and take advantage of them.”

The pandemic will also create a “new normal” in medicine, according to Dr Chaudhary. The Government of India has relaxed tele-medicine laws, and they’re here to stay, in his view. “Patients prefer to get a first opinion on the phone, and only come to the hospital if it’s necessary. Obviously, most hospitals are only serving Covid patients right now. Additionally, telemedicine helps those people living in rural India. Earlier, they could not get a super specialist’s opinion, but now, they can and plan their whole trip and come down to a city, on the basis of that. “

There are currently only around 20,000 eye doctors in India, almost all in urban areas. Many people in rural areas around the country are unable to receive treatments because of this. “Many times there are problems that can cause blindness, and would not be difficult to fix. For example, cataracts. It is a simple procedure, but some of these basic procedures are not available in many parts of India.”

Talking about the future of Indian medicine, Dr Chaudhary focuses on the problems plaguing our health infrastructure currently. “Indian medicine is on par with the world in the cities, but in the rural side of India, facilities really diminish. People in rural parts are not able to take good treatments. I think, in the future, we’ll be growing and going to places where people can get the facilities and treatment they need.”

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