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GUJARAT IS FULLY EQUIPPED TO CONTROL COVID CASES: CM RUPANI

Abhijit Bhatt

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In a video conference organised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the current status of Covid-19 transmission in the states, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani showed a clear determination that Gujarat is fully equipped to control the growing cases of corona with intensive health measures and comprehensive vaccination.

The Prime Minister along with the Chief Ministers of the states conducted a comprehensive review of the situation of corona transition in the states and measures being taken by the state governments in that regard through video conferencing.

CM Rupani, Deputy CM Nitin Patel, Chief Secretary Anil Mukim, Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister Kailasanathan, along with senior secretaries, joined the meeting from Gandhinagar.

The CM briefed the PM on the health measures being taken against the current rising cases of Covid-19 in Gujarat.

CM Rupani expressed confidence that PM Modi will ensure that at least people implement the mantra ‘Dawai Bhi Aur Kadai Bhi’ given in Gujarat against the transmission of coronavirus.

In this context, he said that in the districts and corporation areas in the state where the number of Covid cases has increased, Dhanwantari Raths and surveillance have been deployed at a faster pace. There are 775 Dhanvantari Raths serving in the entire state.

The CM said that the rules of social distance and compulsory masks should be strictly followed in the entire state.

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There’s only one earth and we should stop abusing her

Jeremy Midgley

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Conscious choices made for personal health have a direct effect on the health of our planet. The World Earth Day provides the opportunity to realign our choices and rediscover our roots.

Renowned humanitarian Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, says, “Health is our true wealth. A healthy body, mind and spirit, when aligned, allow us to live life to its fullest capacity.” The question is: how do we fulfil a renewed and revitalised investment in our health?

We can start by trying to align our physical health, mental health and spiritual health. The food we choose to consume, how we take care of our headspace, and the role we play in creating a better environment around us and contributing towards a better earth must complement each other.

The recently concluded World Health Day focused on the physical, mental and spiritual health of people, which are fundamental to individual well-being, society, and even the environment. All these plains are interconnected. 

However, through our consumerism-fuelled and instant gratification-based lifestyles, we have unwittingly disconnected from the source of the wealth, our health and the health of this planet. There is an urgent need to rectify this. It is most important to take a reality check, recalibrate and realign.

A chronic disease is one that lasts longer than three months. Statistics show that over 40% of Americans have a chronic disease, the top six being cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung-related conditions and mental illnesses. Over 80% of chronic diseases are driven by lifestyle practices. A typical holistic prescription would be to revise one’s diet, take good rest, plan an exercise regimen, meditate and pray (also suggested by therapists as journaling or practising gratitude).

It is said, “What you don›t pay for at the food table, you pay more for at the doctor.” One of the quickest indicators of one’s health is to the Body Mass Index (BMI). Normal BMI is between 18. 5 and 25; a person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is overweight and a person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese. 

There is increasing evidence that a plant-based diet can reverse some of these conditions as they are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Apart from that, it contributes towards saving the planet. A plant-based diet can combat climate change as it is known to produce less greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have proved that the meat processing and dairy production accounts for a major percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions, and water and land pollution. 

Exercise is also an essential component for battling excess weight and maintaining optimal health. Being mindful of what we eat as well as how we function goes hand in hand in the journey of maintaining a healthy body. 

Like any exercise routine or sport, meditation takes practice too. Meditation and breathing techniques can play an important role. They are the tools that help you calm your mind, and make you feel happy from within. Many illnesses can be helped through meditation and breathing techniques. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Meditation is food for the soul.”

Practice and continual effort are required for what›s good, therefore taking out time to enrol in a de-stressing programme is ideal.  Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka advises, “Purification of the human spirit and healing of land is the same process.” Shifting dimensions and attempting to reboot our spiritual health brings a balance in the long term. These steps bear fruit with time; regular practice and steady introspections are the way forward. Spiritual growth pertains to reaching out and connecting. The richness of life rests upon sharing its abundances; the fullness of a healthy life comes when we share the fullness of the wealth of who we are, when we reach out to others, think of others and offer them support during their hours of need. Those on the spiritual path know that it is due to such practices that an individual grows in an abundance of self. This is at the core of both the health and the wealth of who we are as individuals and as a community.

As one witnesses and realises that there is only one earth and that we are over-consuming and abusing her, the urge arises within us to take action and make a difference—not only for ourselves, but also for our family and friends, for the entire society. This is transformation.

So how does one make a difference?

• Have a go at doing things differently. For example, stop planting trees—plant a forest instead. A forest consists of seven integrated vertical layers of vegetation, not just a load of single trees

• Stop automatic food selection. Read labels, find out where it is sourced from and what type of soil it is grown in.

• Save up and buy better quality products so you throw away less. 

• Grow some of your own food, even if it is just germinating some seeds on blotting paper.  Growing broccoli is easy.

• Choose a topic and undertake some research, become informed

• Make decisions and choices that take tomorrows into consideration and not just today.

• Create some space. Ask yourself, how much stuff do I need, how much stuff can I redistribute, how much stuff can I do without? Of course, ask the more important question: how did I get so much stuff? There is an eye-opener in this one.

• The marketing departments of the world have figured out that we are a great lot of people for buying things we don›t need or want. Such goods look good to us but soon find their way into the trophy cupboard. 

• Above all, take some time out to be in nature, with Mother Earth and just appreciate the simple things in life.

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Human evolution has two steps—from being somebody to being nobody; and from being nobody to being everybody. This knowledge can bring sharing and caring throughout the world.”

The author is an environmental scientist, safety and permaculture design consultant, and international Art of Living teacher.

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CHAPTER PROCEEDINGS AND THE TYRANNY OF MUMBAI POLICE

The misuse of chapter proceedings by Mumbai Police is an example of how absolute power corrupts. The practice of conferring magisterial powers upon the police should be examined to ensure better justice.

Priyesh Shah

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James Madison had written, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands… may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” This quotation came to my mind upon reading the news report “Mumbai Police closes chapter proceedings against Arnab”. So what are these chapter proceedings? These proceedings are a clear example of tyranny by the Mumbai Police.

Chapter case proceedings are initiated under the powers conferred vide Sections 107 to 111 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Generally, a notice is issued to a person u/s 111 CrPC whereby he is asked to appear before the Executive Magistrate who has issued the notice. The person has to explain why he should not be made to sign a bond of good behaviour. If the Executive Magistrate is not satisfied with the answer, the person is asked to execute the bond and produce sureties vouching for his/her good behaviour. A fine amount is also decided—in accordance with the crime and the person’s financial capability—which the person would have to pay if he violates the conditions set in the bond. So far so good, one may say. It is a laudable initiative, for maintaining peace, thereby negating the Bollywood stereotype that the police always come at the end, after the deed is done.

The problem lies in the actual working of this section, which proves the Biblical saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In Mumbai, the accuser, the judge and jury, and the hangman are one and the same: Mumbai Police. This concentration of powers continues despite being ultra vires of the Constitution of India. Article 50 enjoins the state to take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the state. This Article is based on Montesquieu’s doctrine, that one person or body of persons should not exercise all the three powers of the government viz. legislative, executive and judiciary.

The Executive Magistrate here is none other than the divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police [ACP], who is also designated as Special Executive Magistrate [SEM]. In Mumbai, one ACP supervises two to three police stations, thus he is a middle-level supervisory officer. If any person falls foul of the government of the day, it becomes very easy for the local politicians to get some Inspector of Police to initiate the proceedings by sending a report to the ACP, and the process starts. Once such proceedings are initiated, bond is sought for good behaviour, which can be confiscated on flimsy grounds by the ACP and then further proceedings are taken, which can result in externment, i.e. removal of the person from Greater Mumbai, imprisonment, denial of passport, etc. Appeal lies with the Home Secretary, another officer of the executive.

These proceedings were initiated against Arnab Goswami since it was alleged that he attempted to communalise two incidents, following which FIRs were registered. Even where the person is acquitted from the FIRs, the chapter proceedings continue. In Arnab’s case, they continued even though the FIR against him was stayed by the High Court. The proceedings are initiated to bypass the due process of law and sideline the judiciary, since the punishment is imposed by the executive. In the 1990s, the police had initiated such proceedings against this writer also, although there was no FIR lodged against him.

The roads of Sion Koliwada in Mumbai have been occupied by roadside mechanics who repair vehicles in the middle of the road after encroaching on the footpaths with their tools. This results in traffic jams and noise pollution due to the denting and painting of the vehicles. Gas cutters are used to cut metal on the road, causing a fire hazard. Upon complaints by this writer, action had been initiated by the Municipal Corporation and Traffic Police, thereby causing loss to entrenched interests. The Sion Police Station had gotten into the act and asked some mechanics to lodge non-cognizable complaints against me, on the basis of which they took up chapter case proceedings by issuing notice. I had met the ACP but found him to be adamant. However, as luck would have it, the senior inspector had been transferred and the police dropped the proceedings.

Such misuse is common, because power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A teacher’s house and a cycle repair shop were sought to be acquired by a builder but they were not willing to sell out. So what was the option for the builder? Your friendly neighbourhood Mumbai Police! The builder was facing several FIRs, but he had to lodge a counter-FIR and the police chipped in by initiating chapter proceedings! The only recourse for the poor tenants was the High Court. I quote from an order dated 23 September 2011 in Criminal Application No. 5547 of 2010:

“…The learned counsel for the applicant submits, the respondent had developed a grudge in league with the builders to harass the petitioners. She points out petitioner no. 1 is teacher while petitioner nos. 2 and 3 are conducting cycle repairing business. They have no other criminal record barring one they are facing with the builder/developer. It is seen from the record that the petitioners feel that their valuable rights in the property are being transgressed, encroached upon and mutilated by the efforts of the builder as contractor of the building. Consequently, in order to get redressal of their legitimate rights, applicants had on occasions put logical restraints to the builder’s acts.”

“The action initiated by the learned ACP of the region at the material time generates impression that to overcome earlier notices and court orders, subsequent exercise of show notice dated 11.10.2010 and 12.10.2010 have been caused. I do not see any reason to justify said reasons…”

In November 2014, this rampant misuse reached the High Court once again wherein notice was issued to the then Commissioner of Police, Rakesh Maria. Justice Sadhana Jadhav observed, “This practice is not only deprecated by this court, but the Commissioner of Police shall take note of the fact that issuance of such notice is illegal and is not in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.” This problem is peculiar to cities like Mumbai wherein the ACP has been nominated as the SEM. In the districts, this power rests with the Sub-divisional Magistrate, thereby there is some control over the police. Even in Delhi, the ACP does not have such powers hence such proposals are submitted to the SDM who retains some control.

This problem is connected to yet another problem, which is lingering despite instructions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. UoI: that of political control over the police and interference by local politicians. Considering the revelations about the ‘Rs 100 crore targets’, it becomes clear why the politicians are unwilling to let go of the goose which lays golden eggs. In any case, conferring magisterial powers upon the police is just like trusting the wolf to guard the sheep. But who will bell the cat? The politicians will not renounce that power just like that. Citizens will have to undertake a campaign to secure accountability. This is where Arnab comes in. He needs to expose this misuse of power and the judiciary needs to be moved to ensure the separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

The author is an officer of the Indian Revenue Service. The views expressed are personal.

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AMARNATH YATRA REGISTRATION TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED DUE TO SURGE IN COVID-19 CASES

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Srinagar: In wake of evolving Covid-19 situation, registration for Amarnath Yatra is being temporarily suspended, informed Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board on Thursday. The board added that the situation is being constantly monitored and it will be reopened once the situation is improved. Online registrations for this year’s Amarnath Yatra commenced on 15 April. This year’s 56 day-yatra will commence simultaneously on both routes from 28 June and culminate on 22 August. 

(With ANI inputs)

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CHHATTISGARH CM BAGHEL URGES PM MODI FOR UNIFORM CORONA VACCINE COST

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To seek information on the availability and cost of vaccines to be provided to Chhattisgarh as part of the third phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested its uniform cost.

The Chief Minister said it is expected that “the cost of vaccines should be uniform for the Centre as well as states.” He said in his letter that in view of the Centre’s decision making everyone above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19 from 1 May onwards, the state government has decided to arrange free of cost vaccines for its people in addition to the vaccines available by the Centre.

Noting that there are only a few days left for the commencement of the third phase of the vaccination drive, Baghel said it is necessary to prepare a detailed action plan before organising the vaccination drive on such a vast scale.

He also sought information regarding the number of vaccines to be provided monthly to the state by the Centre, an approximate number of vaccines provided to the state monthly by Serum institute and Bharat Biotech and the cost of vaccines provided to the Centre and states by the two companies.

According to a state government release, the Chief Minister said that Covaxin has been developed with assistance from the Centre and Bharat Biotech should supply its vaccines at lesser rates compared to Serum Institute. He said a uniform rate of vaccines would be justified as both the state and the Centre earns revenue from the taxpayers’ money.

(With ANI inputs)

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PUNJAB LAUNCHES 24X7 HELPLINE FOR REAL-TIME BED AVAILABILITY STATUS

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Chandigarh : The 104 helpline of the Punjab government shall provide 24×7 real-time information about the availability of beds in the hospitals. This was decided at a high-level meeting to review the current Covid-19 situation in the state chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Expressing concern at the reports about the shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients in various parts of the country, he said the current situation is comparatively comfortable in Punjab. The Chief Minister asked the health department to ensure that 75% beds are reserved in L2 and L3 facilities for Covid care besides imposing a complete ban on elective surgeries so that the hospitals should focus on the Covid treatment.

Captain Amarinder further appreciated the Western Command for making efforts to dedicate more beds and manpower for Covid care in the military hospitals.

He said the fresh restrictions have led to the stabilisation of the overall situation. He said the CFR has already declined from 1.75% to 1.4% in the state. “Our R naught value of 1.09 is minimal in the region and much lower than the national average but our positivity rate remains high at 10.3%,” shared Captain Amarinder. However, there could be no room for complacency and the state must remain ready to face any contingency, he added.

The Chief Minister asked the police department to ensure strict enforcement of the restrictions put in place to prevent the further spread of the virus. DGP Dinkar Gupta updated him that 220 contact tracing teams have been working day and night to ensure limited gatherings as per the government norms. He said 156 FIRs have been lodged against the erring owners of marriage palaces, restaurants, and hotels.

Captain Amarinder expressed satisfaction over the increase in testing and sampling which has now crossed the 50,000-mark daily.

Ordering a crackdown on oxygen hoarding in the State, the Chief Minister categorically stated that no trader or manufacturer would be allowed to indulge in illegal hoarding of liquid medical oxygen and anybody found wanting would be dealt with sternly. 

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PUNJAB CM FORMS EXPERT GROUP TO CHALK OUT VACCINATION STRATEGY FOR THOSE ABOVE 18 YEARS

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Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced that the state government would undertake vaccination of the 18-45 age group from 1 May and it would be ensured that the vaccine would be supplied free of cost in all government healthcare facilities.

In view of the limited supplies of vaccines expected initially, the Chief Minister constituted an expert group comprising eminent virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang, Dr Jacob John, Professor of Community Health at CMC Vellore, and Dr Rajesh Kumar, former Head School of Public Health PGIMER in Chandigarh to suggest a detailed strategy of prioritisation in the 18-45 age group.

Chairing a high-level meeting to review the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the state, the Chief Minister tasked the expert group to chalk out a vaccination strategy and submit a detailed plan to the state government within a week to meet the challenge amid the unprecedented Covid pandemic in the state.

Eminent virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang, who attended the meeting as a special invitee, emphasised the need to have a proper strategy to combat the current second wave of Covid with geographical saturation in high caseload cities such as Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Mohali, and Patiala besides prioritisation based on medical need (serious comorbidity) and occupational groups such as teachers, etc.

The Chief Minister was informed that the state had received 4 lakh more doses of Covishield vaccine from the Centre on Thursday. As these were likely to last the state for only three or four more days as per the pace of the ongoing vaccination drive, he asked the Health Department to vigorously pursue with the Union Government for ensuring a requisite supply of more Covishield vaccine besides getting requisite stock of Covaxin doses as well.

Referring to the reports of black marketing of anti-viral drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab in the country, the Chief Minister said the experts have given clear protocols on the use of such medicines, which must be duly publicised and followed in right earnest. Health Adviser Dr KK Talwar referred to the World Health Organisation (WHO) studies that have shown that Remdesivir may not have any significant impact on mortality due to Covid. Further, there were alternatives for Tocilizumab and protocols of management of serious and critical patients are being regularly shared in the expert group of doctors.

Captain Amarinder directed that the state should continue to procure such drugs for patients who may benefit from their use and provide them to the government hospitals and also support the private hospitals, as it is already being done.

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