INDIA BACKS COVISHIELD SHOT AS CORONA CASES HIT 3-MONTH HIGH - The Daily Guardian
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INDIA BACKS COVISHIELD SHOT AS CORONA CASES HIT 3-MONTH HIGH

Aishvarya Jain

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Corona

Amid rising numbers, India—since starting the vaccination drive in mid-January—has administered 36 million vaccine doses, which are mostly the AstraZeneca shots developed with Oxford University and locally known as Covishield.

“We have no signal of concern in this regard,” V.K. Paul, who heads a government committee on vaccines, told a news conference, adding that experts in India had looked into the issue. “Covishield vaccination in the country will go on with full rigour.”

Paul said as Covid infections had risen in the country since early February, hitting a three-month high on Wednesday, the government was looking at accelerating the vaccination drive that also uses a homegrown shot created by Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

India on Wednesday reported 28,903 fresh Covid-19 cases, pushing the overall tally to 11,438,734. The death toll from the deadly infection jumped to 159,079. The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

Maharashtra reported as many as 23,179 new cases of coronavirus, which is the highest single-day infection count so far in 2021. This is the sixth highest one-day spike of infection cases in the state since the pandemic began last year. With these new cases, Maharashtra’s overall infection count rose to 23,70,507. Maharashtra vaccinated 2,32,340 people against Covid-19, taking its tally to 33,65,952 since the drive started on January 16.

Delhi recorded 536 new coronavirus cases, the highest in about two-and-a-half months, while more persons died there. The number of active cases rose to 2,702 from 2,488 a day ago.

The 536 new cases took the infection tally to 6,45,025 and 6.31 lakh people have recovered so far. The positivity rate rose to 0.66 per cent. Three new fatalities took the toll to 10,948.

Among southern states, Karnataka reported over 1,275 new Covid-19 cases and four related fatalities, taking the caseload to 9.63 lakh and the toll to 12,407. The day also saw 479 patients getting discharged after recovery. Bengaluru, with 786 cases, continued to top the state in the number of infections.

Cumulatively, 9,63,614 Covid-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, which includes 12,407 deaths and 9,40,968 discharges.

Kerala reported 2,098 new coronavirus cases, 2,815 recoveries, and 13 deaths in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases now stands at 25,394; so far 10,66,259 patients have recovered from the disease.

Tamil Nadu reported 945 fresh Covid-19 positive cases, 576 discharges, and eight deaths in the last 24 hours.

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We never ever tell stories of women’s rights to her own body: Seema Anand

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Seema Anand, Author and Mythologist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. During the chat, she opened up about her experience of writing her book ‘The Art Of Seduction’, interest in this particular field and much more. Read excerpts:

 Speaking about her interest in this particular field and how you came about writing her book ‘The Art Of Seduction’, Seema said, “It actually began with the idea of looking for stories, so I am a storyteller by profession. I believe that stories that we tell define who we are. They actually create our identity. You know the kind of stories that we tell, if you tell stories about how if a man comes home, he is drunk he beats up his wife ,but she is so good that she never says anything to him. “Then you create the identity of a good woman as somebody who will never stand up for herself”, and to me, it’s always been a fascinating subject. As I explored these stories, I realised we never ever tell stories of women’s rights to her own body. That’s always somebody else’s property and i decided to try and see what it is that we had shut down or what is the stories that we had silenced. That led me to the kamashastras. As you know, there are hundreds of kamasutras, not just the one kamasutra. You know what, i had actually thought it was part of my studies. I thought I’ll do a paper on it. I’ll move on. I started this about 18 year ago. All i can tell you is that it is the most fascinating subject that i have ever come across because the Indian Kamashastras are the most exquisite books on erotic passion in the world and they’re so unexplored, untranslated. When i say untranslated, i don’t just mean about translating word to word, i mean about the metaphors, what they actually mentioned and what they talk about. I has become life’s mission now for me to discuss it, but what really draws me to them more and more is the emphasis that they put on a woman’s pleasure. The emphasis that they put on the divinity and the beauty around sexuality, which is so different to the world that we live in right now. It just makes me want to explore it more and see what it is that our ancient wisdom taught us that we see lost in this twilight zone that we live in today.”

 When asked how is she using her platform on social media to spread the word on, not only sexual liberation and talking up about your sexuality, but also saying that Indian culture has such a rich understanding of what sexuality is and it can be much more than vulgar, she responded, “You know its just the case , it’s anytime you have to change a story you have to do it one tiny little bit at a time. I think sex education is extremely important. I know that a lot of people in india believe that if you teach sexual education in school then it’s giving kids a license to go up and do things but actually it’s making them aware of what’s going on so that they don’t go up and do things they become more sensible or more careful or more intelligent around sexuality. It’s a very important part of our life to be intelligent and to understand sexuality, but yes coming back to question about how our culture or our background plays into it, what i find in all sex education classes is its very clinical. It’s literally being taught as the anatomy. This is this part is anatomy. This is what happens at penetration. We keep saying that sexuality and intimacy is not necessarily about penetration , that’s one act in that entire world of pleasure out there. To me, i really want to bring back the idea of pleasure as a thing of beauty and refinement, which is what the kamasutra was trying to teach. As thing of refinement, as an thing that intrinsically includes emotion, i think that’s where we are lacking. When we teach sex education or when we talk about sexuality. You know the problem is like you said it’s so taboo that in just trying to break those taboo most of us are just trying to say okay, let’s normalise the conversation. Let’s just get out there and talk about it so that it’s not hush hush and it’s not so pushed under a carpet. Most people are just literally trying to find that first battle and yeah I guess my battle has always been slightly different because as I was telling you earlier I didn’t actually start off by doing this on social media. I’ve been doing this work for so long. I just want to bring back people to the idea that there is beauty and refinement and culture around it. It’s not that one act of penetration that surrounds it, there’s so much more to it.”

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I tried to create a conversation around sexuality: Leeza Mangaldas

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

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

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

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

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People have misconceptions around what sex education means: Karishma Swarup

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Karishma Swarup, Sexuality Educator, recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, Karishma opened up about sexual education, what comes in its ambit, whether it is important to have a degree in sexual education to be able to teach it and much more.

Speaking about what exactly comes under the ambit of sexual education, Karishma said, “I feel like in India today, we don’t have a standardised sex education curriculum that is applied across schools, so a lot of people have misconceptions around what sex education even means. People seem to think that just talking about biology piece that they studied in biology class might be considered sex education, but in reality, sex education is so much more than that. It involves biology, but in the context of understanding anatomy. Understanding and not the teacher being like, oh! This is out of syllabus. Being able to discuss what are your body parts, how do those body parts function, whether or not it’s in a sexual situation. Right, so that is the first piece of it, just the anatomy bit of it.”

 The second piece is, of course, the sexual health piece of it. That involves contraceptives, how these condoms work, how to prevent STI transmissions. Just generally how to be safe and have a safer sex. You cannot have any conversation about sex without talking about consent and consent is something that we talk about in the context of abuse but not necessarily in the context of teaching people what is the correct way of having a healthy relationship, what is the correct way to ask for consent in a certain situation. All of this is also influenced by things like gender and people’s personal identities. Good comprehensive sexuality education takes into consideration what are the different ways and aspects people are bringing into their experience of sexuality. So, that could include LGBT community, it include one’s gender. It can also include other intersections such as how does your class or other religion.influence how you relate to other concepts so comprehensive sexuality or CSE is this holistic picture which goes so much more than telling young people to have sex and if anything the countries where they offer CSE. at an early age young people tend to delay their onset of sexual activity rather than doing it earlier,” she added.

 Talking about your educational background and whether or not from where you see it it is important to have a degree in sexual education to be able to teach it, Karishma stated, “I myself have done science my whole life. I did science in school. I did those biology classes, i was referring to. I went and studies geology biology while i was at Brown University as well. Large bulk of my learning came from working with this NGO named Plant Parenthood, which is a really big organisation in the US that offers different sexual health and reproductive health services including sex ed. I was a part of a student organisation there we went out and taught sex ed to high students in the area. Working with them, i got 3 years of field experience. I got trained by this NGO, who had years and years of grass-root teaching experience and i think it goes beyond the question of having a degree especially with sexual health. It is a topic that is so widely ignored around the world, in most places really like, it is a question of who is doing it.

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FATE UNCLEAR, SOME EMBASSIES IN AFGHANISTAN BREAK CONTACTS WITH TALIBAN: REPORT

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After a month has passed since the fall of the Republic of Afghanistan on August 15, the fate of Afghan embassies are unclear and some have even broken contact with the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate government.

A former official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) says some of Afghanistan’s embassies are acting independently and the nature of their revenue remains unknown, reported Pajhwok Afghan News. Similarly, the ministry says one embassy is yet to deposit its money in a bank and four others have refused to answer questions about their activities.

A former MoFA official, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok Afghan News 80 per cent of the ministry staffers had left Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover. He added political departments of MoFA were responsible for maintaining relations with embassies of other countries. But currently, there are fewer officers in the departments.

At the moment, most of Afghanistan’s embassies have cut off contacts with the Kabul administration and the host countries, he revealed, reported Pajhwok Afghan News. Some embassies are still led by former minister, Hanif Atmar and then vice-president Amrullah Saleh.

Some remained neutral, while others were in contact with the new administration, the source said, without providing further details, reported Pajhwok Afghan News. The official said 80 per cent of the embassies’ expenses were met with their own revenue collected from services like issuance of passports and other facilities.

He also disclosed workers of Afghanistan’s embassies in France and Germany had sought asylum in the host countries, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.

The former MoFA official claimed the acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, had tried several times to organise online meetings with Afghan envoys abroad, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.

The minister reportedly planned to hold a virtual meeting with them on Wednesday, but it was cancelled because most of the ambassadors were absent, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.

According to the source, a former officer of the ministry, in a voice message, had asked Afghanistan’s embassies to continue discharging their responsibilities. However, the source explained such orders should be issued in writing. Embassies also did not know about their fate and whether or not host countries would recognise the new government, he added.

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30% citizens of Punjab feel healthcare has improved ‘significantly’ during Captain’s era

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With the exit of Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh and his council of ministers, there is an interesting survey that was been carried out and was just released coincidentally at the time of CM’s resignation. It says 12% residents of Punjab said the Amarinder Singh Government met or exceeded their expectations in the last 4.5 years. 33% said that cleanliness level has improved in the last 4.5 years.

Less than 9% feel that Ease of Doing Business, corruption, air quality have improved. Similarly, nearly 30% of the citizens feel that healthcare services, infrastructure, law and order and power supply have improved in the last 4.5 years. Also, less than 34% said that there has been an improvement in communal harmony and school education in Punjab.

Over 50 party MLAs from the state had sought Amarinder’s removal. Over the last 2 weeks, LocalCircles had been conducting an extensive study on the 4.5 years of Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government. The past 1.5 years for the Punjab Government, like other states, have been full of ups and downs, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 induced pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. The Government made a few bold moves, some of which have also been highly criticised by other political parties.

Over 15,000 responses were received from over 4000 unique residents in 18 districts of Punjab. 69% of the participants were men while 31% were women.

The majority of 57% of residents said there has been “no reduction”. On the other hand, 36% said there has been “minor increase” in corruption. On an aggregate basis, only 7% of Punjab residents say there has been reduction in corruption in the state in the last 4.5 years. This question in the survey received 1,101 responses.

11% of Punjab residents say there has been a “significant improvement” of law and order, and another 11% say there has been “some improvement”. Breaking down the poll, 22% of residents say there has been “no improvement”, another 44% say it has “gotten worse”, and 12% say it has “gotten significantly worse”. On an aggregate basis, only 22% of Punjab residents say the Law & order in their state has improved in the last 4.5 years. This question in the survey received 1,097 responses.

The 2nd wave of the COVID-19 outbreak tested the pulse of the Punjab Government, On an aggregate basis, only 30% of Punjab residents feel that healthcare services in their district in the last 4.5 years have improved. This question in the survey received 1,090 responses.

7% of residents surveyed said the situation regarding communal harmony in the state has “significantly improved”, while 27% said there has been “some improvement”. Breaking down the poll, 32% of residents said there has been “no improvement”, 7% said it has “gotten worse”, and 20% said it has “gotten significantly worse”. 7% did not have an opinion. On an aggregate basis, only 34% of Punjab residents feel that communal harmony has improved. This question in the survey received 1,105 responses.

Only 27% citizens say power supply in their district in Punjab has improved in the last 4.5 years.

8% of Punjab residents said “excellent”.

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CHHATTISGARH CM UNVEILS DEVELOPMENT WORKS WORTH RS 2,834 CRORE

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Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel unveiled development works worth Rs 2,834 crore in 28 districts of the state through a virtual program organized at his residence office on Sunday. On this occasion, while congratulating and wishing the people of the state, the Chief Minister said that during nearly past 3 years, the state has faced many challenges including the pandemic and lockdown. Despite this, the work of development and construction has been going on continuously in Chhattisgarh. Chief Minister inaugurated 401 works and performed Bhoomi Pujan on the occasion. In which 332 works of Public Works Department costing 2708 crores are for road, bridge-culvert and building construction.

The program, held virtually, was presided over by Public Works Minister Shri Tamradhwaj Sahu.

The Chief Minister further said that in the month of June, a total of 8188 works of various departments were inaugurated and Bhumi Pujan was performed in all the districts of the state, at a total cost of Rs.6,845 crore. In the month of June itself, 658 projects costing Rs 238 crore were laid for providing door-to-door drinking water, on which work is going on at a rapid pace. Since then, many more new works have been started continuously, and the completed works are also being dedicated continuously.

The Chief Minister said that apart from the works costing 2708 crores of Public Works Department, 69 works of other departments are also being inaugurated and foundation stone is being laid today, which cost Rs 125.65 crores. These include construction works , which have been in demand for years. He said that like the schemes of the social sector, we are also working fast on the schemes of construction and public convenience development. He said that the work of 312 roads and bridges is being done expeditiously for better transport facility in the Naxal affected areas of the state. Similarly, under Mukhyamantri Sugam Sadak Yojana, 2262 works costing 266 crores are being completed expeditiously. The Chief Minister expressed hope that this would further strengthen the road network in the state. At the same time, the development of public facilities will be accelerated.

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