GOVT SAYS NEW VARIANTS NOT BEHIND SURGE IN COVID CASES - The Daily Guardian
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GOVT SAYS NEW VARIANTS NOT BEHIND SURGE IN COVID CASES

Maharashtra and Kerala account for 75% of India’s current active cases, amounting to about 147,000, and both states have seen a sudden spike in new infections in recent days.

Aditya Nair

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Corona

India said on Tuesday that the mutated strains of the coronavirus are not responsible for the upsurge in cases in two states, bringing potential relief for the country. 

Maharashtra and Kerala account for 75% of India’s current active cases, amounting to about 147,000, and both states have seen a sudden rise in new infections in recent days, fuelling calls for a faster roll-out of vaccines.

A top government health official confirmed the long-time presence of two mutants—N440K and E484Q—in the two states as well as elsewhere in the country and abroad. Authorities have also found the UK variant in 187 people in India, the South African one in six and one case of the Brazilian mutation.

However, Vinod Kumar Paul, member of the NITI Aayog who heads a government committee on vaccines, told a news conference, “There is no reason today for us to believe, on the basis of scientific information, that these are responsible for the upsurge of the outbreak. We are constantly watching the behaviour of mutations in our country.”

Though cases have come down sharply since a September peak, Paul said that India is still vulnerable, given that even previously badly-affected cities like Pune in Maharashtra were getting hit again. He urged people to wear masks and avoid social events—guidelines which have been openly flouted even by federal and state ministers.

On Tuesday, India’s total tally of Covid-19 cases rose to 1,10,16,434, with 10,584 new infections being reported in a day, while recoveries surpassed 1.07 crore, according to data from the Union Health Ministry. With 78 new fatalities in a day, the overall death toll increased to 1,56,463. 

In Punjab, which has also seen a rise in cases, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, chairing a virtual review meeting of the Covid-19 situation in the state, issued orders to limit indoor gatherings to 100 people and outdoor events to 200 attendees from 1 March. District heads have also been permitted to decide on night curfews in hotspots, and testing will be increased, the CM said on Twitter.

Punjab is one of the worst performing states in vaccinating their healthcare workers, according to the federal government.

Maharashtra’s Amravati on Tuesday, a day after the week-long lockdown started, recorded the highest single-day spike in cases with 926 people being detected with the infection, taking the caseload to 31,123. The earlier daily record was 727 cases, set on February 20.

39 students and five employees of a hostel also tested positive for the coronavirus in Maharashtra’s Latur city, an official said on Tuesday. At least 360 students who live in the hostel underwent the Covid-19 test, of which 39 from Classes 9 and 10 were reported to have contracted the infection, health officer Mahesh Patil of the Latur Municipal Corporation said. 

Kerala reported 4,034 new Covid-19 cases and 14 related deaths on Tuesday, taking the tally of affected people in the state to 10,41,252 and the toll to 4,119. Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said that 69,604 samples were tested in the state in the last 24 hours and the test positivity rate was 5.80 percent.

Andhra Pradesh reported 70 fresh Covid-19 cases, 84 recoveries and one death in the 24-hour period ending on Tuesday. With the addition of the new infections, the state’s tally went up to 8,89,409.

Odisha’s Covid caseload mounted to 3,36,767 as 62 more people tested positive for the infection, a health department official said. Of the fresh cases, 37 were reported from quarantine centres and 25 were detected during contact tracing. Sambalpur district recorded the highest number of new cases at 12, followed by Khurda and Cuttack at seven each.

Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 145 fresh Covid-19 cases and two new fatalities on Tuesday, while the positivity rate stood at 0.25 percent, said authorities. With this, the toll for the national capital stood at 10,903.

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NEED FOR FAMILY OFFICES TO WORK TOGETHER UNDER A CO-INVESTMENT STRUCTURE: JAHNAVI KUMARI MEWAR

Jahnavi Kumari Mewar, CEO and Senior Portfolio Manager at Auctus Fora, talks about her business firm along with insights on internationalism, effective global governance practices and the way forward in the post-Covid world.

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Jahnavi Kumari Mewar recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, she spoke to us about her business firm along with insights on internationalism, effective global governance practices and the way forward for the post-Covid world.

Jahnavi commenced her talk by speaking about the creation of Auctus Fora and its uniqueness. She said “Auctus fora was born with a need to work with family offices (preferably) without a fund structure in place. If I take a small step back, I initially worked for JP Morgan from where I decided to set up a boutique investment bank and as that business developed and progressed, I had developed very meaningful relationships with family offices globally. We found that there was a significant need for family offices to work together under a co-investment structure rather than that of a fund. Moving on we decided to set up a co-investment platform, entirety focused on private acuity and private structure credit working with family offices globally. It’s a unique model because we work on the ‘reverse origination methodology’ developed in 2011. We use this methodology to make investment decisions and direct our investment philosophy.”

When asked about how pandemic months have been for her and her firm, she responded “I think based on facts that firstly we are directed to an asset. Secondly, we don’t do listed securities and are a private acuity focused and private structure credit that organically gives you a lot more control over your investment decisions. I am very rigid when it comes to the investment decision making process. For example, we’ll never chase dues or get into a bidding war as I believe that if you get your buying price wrong then you already made a big mistake in terms of capital allocation and investment process. In such disruptive times when others have faced upheavals, we have ramped up because of our decent decision making. Based on that what we have done over the past 15 months is that the assets which we felt will continue to give long term returns and are relatively resilient to the disruptions caused by global pandemic and lockdown, we have reinvested capital or added additional capital into those assets and portfolios. So, at a macro level, we have reinvested capital into our portfolios and at a micro level, into select asset portfolios. I mean not to say that we haven’t felt pain but we have been more resilient.”

Explaining the post-Covid global economic changes, she expressed, “What we are seeing globally is an unprecedented crisis for which a lot of nations have lacked institutional memory because they have never experienced something like this before. In the absence of institutional memory, there is institutional unpreparedness. I think that the responsibility and accountability of this crisis don’t solely sit with the current government because there have been decades of under-investment in the public healthcare infrastructure. Instead, the present government has put concentrated efforts towards formulating new public policies. It is my personal opinion that unfortunately, the government lacks sophistication in its policymaking. Therefore they come across significant opposition to their policies.”

When it comes to changing global supply chains, Jahnavi described “let’s look at global supply chains from both political and economic perspectives. Politically speaking, we have fallen short on collective action and there has been a crisis of global governance. Supply chains and global governance can work hand in hand. A good small scale example is of QUAD members who have been working together and have been multilaterally more effective. So when we talk of re-engineering global supply chains, we have to look at from the perspective that are we going to create an incentivising engagement that affects better global governance practices.”

Lastly speaking about the importance of institutions like QUAD as representative of the changing world over institutions like UN and WHO, she said “QUAD is a great example of a force for global good. WHO has been less effective than QUAD as it has been dispersing contradictory information globally, it along with the UN have failed to garner collective action for a global solution to the pandemic. QUAD is a representation of the way forward. We need to re-engineer a pragmatic form of internationalism which meets the needs for today and future.”

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INDIA-BORN SINGER FEATURES ON UK’S BBC RADIO

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The latest composition of the Indian born, London-based singer Saisha Hayes’s ‘One Way ticket’ was selected by UK’s BBC Radio to be played on its platform on Monday night.

At 20, she is among the youngest singer-songwriters to feature on BBC radio and her song was selected among the pool of well-established names.

BBC Radio 1 Leeds chose Saisha’s composition under the “Best modern Asian fusion music”. While the words of the song have been penned by her, the music has been composed by Rohit (Foenix). The song, sung by Saisha, had earlier featured on the coveted ‘Rolling Stones’ India hitlist.

She is a second-year student of King’s College, London and the granddaughter of Hindi literary giant and former IAS officer Bhagwati Sharan Mishra, who passed away last month.

The song is being played on all major music platforms including Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube.

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IT’S TOUGH FOR PLAYERS TO STAY IN A BIO BUBBLE, SAYS MURALI KARTIK

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, former cricketer Murali Kartik talks about his lockdown experiences, how he felt being part of the IPL in a bio bubble, and much more.

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Murali Kartik, a former Indian cricketer and a popular figure in commentary, is well-known for his slow left-arm orthodox bowling. Having charmed cricket lovers across the world with his bowling skills, Murali Kartik recently got recognised by NewsX India A-List for excellence in Cricket. Joining us for an exclusive conversation, he spoke about his lockdown experiences, how he felt being part of the IPL in a bio bubble and much more.

Speaking about his emotions and experiences during the second wave of Covid-19, in the wake of which IPL was first postponed and later stopped in middle, Murli said, “Pandemic has been a tough one for everyone but more so for people on the ground. We were actually much protected as a commentary team. With that point of view, we didn’t have many problems but I can imagine teams travelling and engaging in contracts would have been tougher amid the pandemic.”

“Since last year, I got the feeling that as soon as a little bit of unlocking starts people got careless. It is our responsibility to make sure that we don’t go out till the time we aren’t needed to go out. Most important of all is we should all be happy in our homes and not feel entrapped into them. We can only control the controllable,” he added.

When asked about the concept of bio bubble, especially in cricket, which is a contact game, Murali responded, “People in bio bubble is never easy. We need to return to normalcy. We all are missing luxuries of life which are not to go around in expensive restaurants but to simply move around with freedom and without a mask; meet our people without the fear of either contacting with the virus or passing it to someone else. That is the normal luxury. From a sports point of view, it’s tough for players to stay in a bio bubble. There’s a life beyond a sport. Hopefully, we come back to normalcy soon.”

Speaking about what the players have missed out in almost past two years of time is very evident now, he said “Unfortunately, it’s same for everyone. People who had to write exams are unable to do it and are sitting home. For sportspeople, the Olympics has been postponed and rescheduled. So, imagine all the athletes, who worked so hard for it. We come back to the same thing that it’s for everyone. Now it is about mental strength and controlling the controllable. We need to be surrounded by positive people and thinking. We need to look inwardly because the easiest thing in these days is to get despondent.”

When asked about something new or novel he has picked up in the last few days, Murali shared, “To be honest, I have caught up in a lot of sleep these days at home. I am not someone who’ll sleep a lot. I have been the happiest being at home. The only thing I did in my 1st lockdown was to read Sai Suchadutta. I read it six to seven times. I have read books but apart from that I haven’t done any specific thing.”

Concluding the interview on a humorous note, he stated that he has been a couch potato watching many fun OTT programs during the lockdown. He added a funny but profound thing that we teach a dog to sit and stay but we are not able to do it ourselves.

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JUST BE AUTHENTIC AND EVERYTHING WILL FALL INTO PLACE: KARUNESH TALWAR

In an interview with NewsX, stand-up comedian Karunesh Talwar talks about his new show and more.

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Karunesh Talwar, a well-known stand-up comedian, is all set to entertain the audiences with his stand-up special on Amazon Prime Video. Recognised for excellence in entertainment, Karunesh recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of the NewsX India A-List series. He spoke about his new show on Amazon Prime, the idea behind the name of the show, principles of stand-up comedy and much more.

Speaking about how he and the team happened to name the show ‘Aalas, Motapa, Ghabraahat’, Karunesh shared, “The name is part of joke punch line from the show itself. I had written the whole show, we shot it and while we were editing it, I was sitting with the show’s director and editor who suggested me to give the name ‘Aalas Motapa Ghabraahat’.” He added, “The first half of the show is about my parents and the other half is about my relationship with my girlfriend.”

Emphasising the relevance of these three words: Aalas, Motapa, and Ghabraahat, especially amid the pandemic, Karunesh said, “This happened subconsciously as I wrote this show during the pandemic. Also, it comes from the attempt to tell my story, which has to be really authentic and unique on stage. So these three words can describe a lot of people’s experiences during the pandemic.” On being asked to give three words to describe his last one and a half years, he jokingly said, “Aalas, Motapa, Ghabraahat. Apart from that, I think it would be lucky, motivated, and more anxious.”

When asked what makes this show different from others, he responded, “Usually you write material about certain subjects that is about eight to nine minutes per subject covering about six to seven subjects over an hour show. Here, I had only two topics. I think it is a lot more in storytelling format and in long-form. That’s not what I have attempted before. It is much more personal and vulnerable than anything I have ever done before as it reveals aspects to my personality, which people who watch my content wouldn’t have been revealed to before.”

Karunesh is hopeful that it is the sign of more things like this coming from him in the future. He expressed, “One of the principles of live stand-up comedy is that if you are authentically telling your story, then you are the only one selling it and you are the only supplier of that particular kind of comedy. So, people will always buy it from you. You’ll also never run out of material because you are being authentic and not pretending up there.”

Talking about the public response on his last Amazon Prime show’s interesting title—‘Pata Nahi Par Bolna Hai’, Karunesh said, “The response was overwhelming and I got a lot of positive feedback. The fact that I am doing another show with Amazon Prime means that the last response was good. The title of that show came about because it was about a lot of people and me at the same time.”

When asked if his family and friends call him to share some light moments in otherwise heavy days, he expressed, “I think people often have a perception that comedians are hilarious and people around them are constantly laughing. No, they are constantly irritated by our existence. They haven’t called me for light moments but definitely, the advantage is to learn about therapy and how to balance mental health better.”

Sharing his takeaway from the pandemic, Karunesh said, “To be honest, I am extremely fortunate that my career picked up at the time it did. It allowed me to access work and resources that kept me tied in these unprecedented times. This allowed me to work on myself. It gave me time to introspect, write more material, and explore new avenues in my work. This is the reason why this new show is different from the kind of work I have done before.”

On a parting note, Karunesh shared a piece of advice for aspiring comedians and said, “Delayed gratification always beats instant gratification. If you have a funny thought, don’t put it out instantly instead work on it for about six months to one year. It will give you unimaginable success and opportunities. Respect your audience, be authentic, and write and perform as much as you can.”

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PUNJAB CM DIRECTS GOVT OFFICIALS, EMPLOYEES TO REACH OFFICE BY 9 AM

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CHANDIGARH: In order to bring discipline in the government offices, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday directed all the government officers/employees at state/district/tehsil/block level to reach their concerned offices by 9 am and remain available for the public till the office hours in the evening.

The Chief Minister, while stressing the need of bringing transparency in the government offices also directed all the officers/employees to deal with all the grievances of the people on a priority basis.

“To ensure the availability of all the government officers/employees in the offices during official hours, Administrative Secretaries/Department Heads to conduct surprise checks twice a week to keep a vigil on the employees working under them,” said the CM.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also asked Administrative Secretaries/Department Heads to keep a close watch on the activities/records at their concerned offices.

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PGI TREATS ACHING AMPUTATED LIMB WITH BIOFEEDBACK THERAPY

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A patient who came with trauma in PGIMER Chandigarh got sepsis and unfortunately, doctors had to get his leg amputated. But the amputated leg was still aching. Sound Strange! But it’s a real pain that the brain feels called phantom pain.  As per PGI Psychiatrist Dr Aseem Mehra, “The lost limb that is aching is a sign of phantom pain”. The Amputee Clinic is where Dr Mehra is treating the pain of that limb which no more exists in the patient’s body. This is a condition when the patient went through a trauma and lost his/her limb due to disease or accident. They still tend to feel the pain of lost limbs. It’s a clinical condition and a psychiatrist treats it with Biofeedback therapy. So that they may accept the trauma and learn to handle the new limb connected to their body with acceptance.

Amputee Clinic that recently got launched in PGIMER Chandigarh a few months back, has this facility under one roof. What is Biofeedback therapy? “Biofeedback therapy is a technique that trains people to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen unintentionally such as heart rate, BP, muscle tension, and skin temperature”, explains Psychiatrist Dr Mehra.

“In this technique, the patient tends to hear some music that keeps changing with the changes in his body and skin temperature. It is all clinical practice where we get to know when the patient is lying that he got relaxed after the therapy as signals do not lie,” adds Dr Mehra.

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