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India wary about Pakistan-China ‘fishy’ railway project in POK

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The recent decisions by China and Pakistan for what they called “infrastructure development” in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) smell fishy to India. New Delhi is cautiously watching and analysing the far-reaching implications of the two projects that Islamabad and Beijing have given their approval just two days ago.

Though Ministry of External Affairs hasn’t yet reacted on what seems to be “fishy” deal between the two countries, Indian diplomats are sparing no efforts to gather maximum inputs pertaining to the same. Embassy in China and High Commission in Pakistan have been put on alert mode so as to get maximum updates on the projects.

In the name of increasing cooperation on infrastructure development in POK, Islamabad approved a $6.8 billion upgrade to a rail line in the region as part of the multi-billion dollar ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor. Apart from this, Beijing also announced the opening of a 118 km stretch of road from Thakot to Havelian as part of a larger road project that runs from Islamabad to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region.

Though both the nations are seeking to project them as infrastructure enhancement endeavours, diplomatic sources believe that it could be a new trick to create problem for India. “It could be a new trick”, says an official. It goes without saying both Pakistan and China have been trying to encircle India on one pretext or other.

What has raised eyebrows in security and diplomatic circles of South Block is the fact that both the countries have decided to push these projects just around the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370, a step by India that angered Pakistan and China alike.

These new initiatives (read tricks) are the evidence of the close relationship between China and Pakistan, which have come a year after New Delhi upset the two by revoking special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

According to sources, India is at the moment downplaying this development and collecting the data to analyse them to get to the bottom of real motive behind the move. “No doubt, if something fishy is proved, then India will spare no effort to expose them and take the matter to international forums,” said a diplomat.

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I knew that if I go wrong, Bollywood won’t give me a second chance: Darasing Khurana

Actor, philanthropist and model Darasing Khurana joins NewsX to share enthralling insights from his life.

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Actor Darasing Khurana, who comes from a non-acting background, reflected upon his journey so far and said, “I come from a small town called Parbhani in Maharashtra. There has been no exposure of films there. However, I participated in fashion shows and dramas from a young age. I knew that I wanted to be an actor and a model but never said it out loud as I thought people would make fun of me. I kept taking up opportunities, took many internships, and worked in various sectors to understand where my calling was. The ‘Mr Parbhani’ title in 2006 sowed the seeds for my acting career and I dreamt of becoming Mr India someday.”

When asked about his experience of participating in the pageant in 2017 and representing India thereafter internationally, he said, “My dream of becoming an actor and a model completely took a backseat while I was studying B. Com with advertising and then went to King’s College, London, to study Entrepreneurship and Pace’s University, New York to study Entrepreneurship. After getting back, I did my MBA from Narsee Monjee. While doing this, I kept working in nine different sectors to identify what I wanted to do. My eighth career option was to become a stylist.”

“I styled Hrithik Roshan for 2016 Mr India. Once he got back, I took back the clothes. He was going through a very rough patch at that time and talked very little. However, he did look at me and encouraged me to go for Mr India. A couple of months later, while I was crossing Juhu circle in Mumbai, I saw a huge board that said, ‘Calling young boys for Mr India audition.’ That took me back to what Hritik said and my childhood dream. That’s when I started working on my physique and communication skills. I eventually got shortlisted among the Top 25”, added Khurana. Speaking about his Punjabi film debut, he said, “I grew up watching Gurpreet Ghuggi and Upasana Singh and loved them. After I auditioned, I got to know that Smeep Kang is the director of the film. Usually, people start with Bollywood but I thought that there are a couple of things that need to be worked upon as I knew that if I go wrong then Bollywood won’t give me a second chance. I thought that my father, who was a big fan of Punjabi films and who never took me seriously, will be happy. Plus if I go wrong, I will get a second chance and that won’t be the end of my career. Moreover, working with Kang was a very different experience altogether because, unlike usual directors, he seems relaxed in the set and appreciates whatever you bring to the table, instead of treating them like mistakes.”

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ARE CLOUD KITCHENS THE FUTURE OF FOOD DELIVERY?

Vir Bhagat

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In 2003, two friends from Calcutta – Kallol Banerjee and Jaydeep Barman spent time reminiscing about their childhood days and the lip-smacking street food in Calcutta. That’s when the idea hit them to bring a chef from the streets of Calcutta and establish an outlet that provides delicious wraps and rolls and in Pune. Thus was the birth of the former Faasos, now REBEL Foods.

By 2011, REBEL Foods set up 18 outlets around India and soon, jumping on the online bandwagon, and began rivalling with bigwigs like McDonald’s and Dominos. With business booming, soon they introduced their second outlet, Behrouz Biryani.

Now, both rolls and biryani production was taking place under one roof but sold under different brand names. In no time, they could add a plethora of over eight brands, including OvenStory Pizza, to their repertoire. If you thought these brands were different restaurants that physically exist, it’s a mistake.

When food is delivered to your home, you tend to assume that it originates from a full-fledged restaurant. However, with the change in times, including the pandemic, that’s increasingly not the case. This brings us to the cloud kitchenconcept. Without the mumbo jumbo, simply put, the premise of a cloud kitchen, also known as dark, ghost or virtual kitchens, is simple. It’s a fully equipped kitchen space to cook one or many cuisines under the same roof with no dining or storefront. It’s a phone/online delivery-only service via aggregators such as Swiggy or Zomato or the kitchen’s delivery system. Some cloud kitchens may have physical outlets, but essentially they’re backed by a chain of cloud kitchens or a base kitchen. From $400 million in 2019, the cloud kitchen industry is projected to become a $2 billion industry by 2024 in India, according to RedSeer Management Consulting. 

So, what are the magic sauce cloud kitchens dip into and why are they gaining traction? Since the pandemic set in along with the various restrictions, takeaway meal options have been booming in India. But Covid-19 isn’t solely accountable for this seismic shift, it has merely played as a catalyst to accelerate this change. Long before Covid-induced lockdowns, the online delivery market was growing by the double fuelled by the craving for convenience and having the chance to eat every cuisine imaginable from popular restaurants across the city from the comfort of your home.

The food service is an industry that has high overheads and from a business point of view, cloud kitchens eliminate brick and mortar-related costs like rent for a prime location, cost of construction, a well-equipped ambience, training and upkeep of front-of-house staff, and maintenance expenses. Comparatively, cloud kitchens have low margins and need lesser working capital. With less focus on dining space, maintenance cost, designing, furniture, large staff, etc. kitchens can pivot the heart of their kitchen to a better quality of food.

To add to the above, cloud kitchens can take more orders in a day as compared to a dine-in restaurant, which spikes the volume and higher revenue per square foot. Similarly, cloud kitchens can run multiple brands from the same kitchen and serve a larger demographic at the same time. Plus, with limited interaction, the question of poor service is out the window and the food can speak for itself.      

During the Covid times, the relevance of such a set-up has increased manifold, as its excellent method to keep a business afloat while maintaining social-distancing guidelines. Simply put, with cloud kitchens, the number of risks is comparatively lower and they provide a cost-friendly model that helps prepare food with minimal investment tackling the supply gap.

CHALLENGES BEFORE A CLOUD KITCHEN

If you get your products right, you may be able to cook your way to millions. But this very fact poses a few challenges. While cloud kitchens save on labour and rent, the true expense is marketing. Typically, food aggregators charge 20 to 40% as commission. Over and above, cloud kitchens have to ensure a multitude of factors are in places like food quality and safety, competitive price, attractive packaging, top-notch hygiene, fresh delivery, etc. to meet customer expectations, acquire new customers, rank higher in third-party apps and earn good ratings. Building a successful cloud kitchen is not easy and needs continuous attention to detail along with up-to-date marketing and technology solutions.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Apart from big players like Rebel Foods which has grown to become one of the world’s largest internet restaurant companies, the cloud has space for small, local players and home cooks too. In the current environment and with the continued uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, cloud kitchens backed by a cloud kitchen network have a better chance of survival and have carved a bigger path for this concept to thrive.

It will take some time for restaurants to return. Until then, cloud kitchens are an excellent way to provide customers with a safe and easily accessible method to enjoy a variety of foods.  Sure, the food and beverage industry is one of the largest in the service sector, and a few upcoming businesses will emerge as unicorns but, will they surpass dine-in restaurants? What the future holds only time will tell. In this time, to keep afloat, when you can’t change the direction of the wind – adjust your sails.    

The writer is from The British School, New Delhi.

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FARMER PRODUCER ORGANISATION: THE BASIS OF PROSPERITY OF FARMERS AND RURAL INDIA

If marginal farmers and educated youth of rural areas together form FPO, then they can change the picture and destiny of their village in the next few decades.

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Many developed countries of the world are not only making their country happy due to better scientific technology and management in the agriculture sector but in countries like Canada, Europe, and Israel, the income of the farmer is increasing tremendously. India has also followed the same path.

When we used to read the story of a farmer in childhood, the title was strength in unity. There is progress in unity. Now smallholder farmers will have to do farming together, this is the need of the time. The size of farmer’s land holdings in India has decreased from 2.3 hectares in 1970 to 1.08 hectares by 2015-16, and the area under cultivation has become much smaller and smaller in the last 40 years.

As per the Agriculture Census of India, the number of small acreage farmers and landless farmers has reached around 86%, that is the number of marginal farmers has increased by over 16% in the last 40 years. Due to the lack of better agricultural technology for small and medium farmers and under the pressure of the moneylenders in the market, the farmers went on becoming poor. As per the 2011 census, the number of landless agricultural labourers in India has exceeded the number of farmers, there are two categories dependent on agriculture: marginal farmer, the middle-level farmer and the landless agricultural labourer. Almost 55% of agricultural labour has crossed the mark of landless agricultural labourers whose number is around 16 crore in the country. The same tenant farmer is about 45%, which is about 12 crore. To reduce the miseries of small marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers and medium farmers, this is the vision of Prime Minister Modi. If the farmer is organised, he sells his agricultural products in the market in an organised way. He should use crops and certified seeds organised based on new scientific research. Along with better management of irrigation, use of new agricultural machines, a proper system of transportation, and better and qualitative management, he can escape from the demonic forces of the market. So he can get the value of his production in a better way.

If we look at the entire government management policies of the Modi government and study them closely, there are better strategies for farmer welfare. PM Modi believes that even by putting everything at stake, if we keep the farmers alive, then through this we can get everything.

Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world, which is barely equal to the area of ​​Haryana, and the population is only 9 million. It has an important place in the agricultural income of the world. The reason is the best technology, due to only 20% of the accumulated land, Israel has made its place in the 10 largest producing countries of the world. Now the Indian marginal farmers will have to move forward with the agricultural policies of the Government of India, along with traditional farming, we have to adopt new methods. The Modi government has a very ambitious scheme for the marginal farmers called Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO).

FARMER PRODUCER ORGANISATION (FPO)

How can the farmer become self-reliant? Why is the farmer poor even today? How to double his income, the target of 2022 has been set by the Modi government.FPO should be implemented properly all over India.Serious work is being done on this and its positive results are also being seen. The Modi government has set a target of 10,000 FPOs by 2022.

WHAT IS FPO? 

Any farmer in FPO can become a member of this scheme. It is easy to become a member of the organisation. The Modi government has prepared a proposal on how to become an FPO through a simple process. All we need is to establish and cooperate with it with determination.The complete information is available on the website of the local Deputy Commissioner’s office and the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

For the formation of the FPO, there should be a minimum 300 farmers. In this, the number of marginal farmers, smallholding farmers should be about 50%. Also, farmers above 2.5 acres can be made members in it. An individual contribution of Rs 2000 will be given to the farmer. Under this scheme, a Rs 2000 per member maximum of 15 lakh rupees is provided by the Government of India to FPOs as an equity grant. A total of Rs 18 lakh is provided as financial support for every three years of FPO formation. Also, there is a plan to give benefits to the FPO from the government’s side, that includes the salary of the employees, management, operations, financial, office expenses, travel, meeting, etc. and even the amount available for furniture in the initial years. Along with this, the Government of India assists Rs 2 crore to each FPO in the form of a bank credit guarantee that covers up to 75% for eligible projects by the bank whereas for bankable projects up to Rs 1 crore, a guarantee of up to 85% assists in the form of cover.

HOW WILL THE MARGINAL FARMERS BE BENEFITED FROM THE FPO?

Agriculture and farming community should have overall benefit, it should be made entrepreneurial along with farming. With this, the Government of India has a plan to develop them economically by making 10,000 FPOs. By getting organised through FPO, small and marginal farmers will not only get a market for their produce but it will become very easy for them to buy better fertilisers, advanced seeds, certified medicines, new technology agricultural equipment, etc. Other services like transportation will also be available at cheaper rates.

FPO also secures the future of farmers. The FPO will contribute significantly to increasing the income of the farmers due to modern managerial arrangements by reducing the cost of agriculture and improving the processing. The work of formation and promotion of FPO is entrusted to Cluster Base Business Organisation (CBBO). CBBO has been given the responsibility of formation of 10,000 FPOs on the ground across the country.

DISTRICT LEVEL BUSINESS ORGANISATION 

To give progress to the FPO with at least five expert persons who are experts in processing, horticulture and service sector, as well as providing information technology, legal accounting etc.

CBBO organisation FPO registration through training of its board of directors as well as scientific and technical know-how. Will be concerned about the benefits to the FPO and provides Madan. I can say with determination based on the FPO yield also if they want, they can form their district level and state level or national level organisation and relationship and organisation of common interests.

In doing so, the group of FPO, assessing their needs and the success achieved so far, improve their produce production, establish food processing in a better way, establish themselves as a better brand through best sustainable packaging and marketing. can be established in the country.

Such domestic and international trade can also impress its quality producers. It will also be able to make a significant contribution to the GDP. The direct benefit of which will be given to marginal farmers and their families.

Small Farmers Agribusiness Association and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development are working continuously for financial assistance, together with both organisations, more than five thousand FPOs have been registered, the Modi government wants to take it in more numbers. This FPO should work well in rural areas. It has to be enthusiastically participated by the representatives of the Government as well as NGOs, Panchayats, and Panchayats.

This is also a special scheme through the FPO of the Modi government. That special attention should be paid to women farmers, women self-help groups, scheduled castes, tribes and other economically weaker sections. So that together we can fulfil all the hopes and aspirations of the farmers.

If it can be managed in a better way in rural areas, then no one will be able to stop the village from becoming empowered. There will be a spectacular and qualitative improvement of the economy in rural areas through FPO.

The purchasing power of the people will increase, the youth will get employment opportunities in the village itself.

When food processing units will be established in village areas through the FPO, there will be a need for labourers, the youth will get unlimited means of employment at the local level itself.

Perhaps the day will not be far when the rural youth will not migrate to the cities because better employment resources will be available to him in his village.

Prime Minister Modi launched this as a central scheme on 29 February 2020 in Chitrakoot to encourage FPOs to set up, build, and operate 10,000 FPOs by the Government of India.

The operation and guidelines of this new scheme were approved by the Minister of Agriculture. Modi government is going to spend Rs 5,000 on FPO in the next five years. This amount can be increased further if required. After achieving the target of 10,000 FPOs, more FPOs will be required in a huge country like India, the mark of about one lakh can be crossed.

Along with this, State Level Consultative Committee and State Monitoring Committee have been constituted by 35 states and Union Territories for the operation of the FPO. The role of the State Governments is very important in effectively running this important scheme and we hope that they will help in doubling the income of the farmers with the support of the Central government. If marginal farmers and educated youth of rural areas together form FPO, then they can change the picture and destiny of their village in the next few decades only. If we all come together, then in a few years my country will be a country of prosperous farmers. In the coming decades, FPO will set a significant milestone in the economy of rural India.

The writer is MP and National President Bharatiya Janata Party Kisan Morcha.  The views expressed are personal.

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THE NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED EDUCATED YOUTH JUMPS TO 846,209 IN HIMACHAL

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SHIMLA: In Himachal, the state with one of the highest literacy rates in the country, there are nearly about 9 lakh educated youth who are unemployed. Ironically, the population of the state just stands at nearly 70 lakh.

In the first day of the monsoon session this data was presented in the assembly on Monday. And these numbers are on the books, it is likely that there would be more unemployed-uneducated youth in the state who are off the record Consequently, amid the pandemic as many as lakhs of people including educated youth have lost their jobs due to lockdown and closure of establishments throughout the country and Himachal.

This was stated by Industries Minister Bikram Singh Thakur in a written reply to a query raised by Congress MLAs Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, Vikramaditya Singh and Mukesh Agnihotri.

The written reply which came from the Industries Minister has reflected the very high rate of unemployment in the state, presenting a disturbing picture.

There are 4,04,819 unemployed youth who are qualified upto higher secondary level, 1,95548 are matriculate, 1,36517 are graduate, 76,318 post graduate and 33,007 under matriculate respectively.

According to the data laid in the house, till January 31, 2020, the registered number of educated in the employment offices of the state was 8,46,209, out of which the government could provide employment to only 28661 unemployed people in last two years.

It is important to mention that the figures presented here in the assembly were compiled before the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile thousands of youth of Himachal have become unemployed during the pandemic itself.

Together, the number of unemployed in the state will be much higher, which is certainly a matter of concern for the small but a literate state like Himachal.

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One out of every 10 women in India suffers from PCOS: Study

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Every tenth woman in the country is suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) disease and the women with the disease have hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that affect their health adversely. Apart from this, women suffering from the disease continue to face a string of other health issues like irregular menstruation, weight gain, acne, hirsutism which is revealed by a study conducted by a Ph.D. scholar namely Dr. Ishwarpreet Kaur of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh. It is pertinent to mention that the study was conducted adopting random sampling

As many as 275 women were selected in the study and out of the selected sample, who were administered a questionnaire to elicit their treatment-seeking behaviour, 62 willing participants were subjected to in-depth interviews. The study clearly indicated that most of the PCOS patients were overweight (79%) and were diagnosed between 16-25 years of age (76%). Many ( nearly 45%) respondents had no information regarding PCOS. Only 9.1% received some information from their doctors. Above mentioned disease led to multiple ill effects on their health. It is also worth mentioning that out of the total, 37.5% said that the internet existed as the primary and essential source of the information pertaining to the disease and in view of this, they expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of information. Multiple health care agencies (Allopathy and Indigenous) were consulted by most (85.8%) of the respondents. Allopathy was the preferred choice of treatment. It also came to surface that a lot of them hesitated to disclose details to people regarding the disease and the taboo factor emerged as responsible for the same.

The delay in initiating the treatment ranged from 7 days to 84 months which led to increased problems of the patients The major reasons for this were ignorance, the concept of normality, the concept of endurance and relief from symptoms. They were also dissatisfied with the treatment due to a late diagnosis, lack of relief, taboo, side-effects, expenses involved and the need for repeated laboratory tests. Participants’ course of treatment was influenced by the interplay of individual, distress, health-system, and social-economic factors.

A manuscript based on Dr. Ishwarpreet Kaur’s Ph.D. research work (Co-authors: Vanita Suri, Head, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Dr. Satya Vati Rana Biochemistry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr. Amarjeet Singh, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health) has been deemed suitable for publication in PLOS ONE, a renowned research journal in the arena.

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PM MODI TO PARTICIPATE VIRTUALLY IN THE ‘FOOD FOR ALL, NUTRITION FOR ALL’ PROGRAMME

Abhijit Bhatt

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Characterizing the motto “Sarvajan Hitaya, Sarvajan Sukhay”, the decisive and sensitive state government of Gujarat is committed to ensuring that all citizens get adequate and timely food. This government led by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel is always striving to provide food security and nutrition security to the citizens. On August 3, the completion of five years of this government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present virtually at the food distribution program organized under the theme “Food for All, Nutrition for All”.

The Prime Minister will distribute 5 kg kits of food grains per beneficiary to over four and a half lakh poor, Antyodaya beneficiaries from more than 17,000 government-approved food grains fair price shops. Apart from that, Chief Minister and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jayesh Radadia will also join the state-level program at Dahod. While the Prime Minister will interact directly with the beneficiaries at five fair price shops in five districts. In addition, under NFSA, an estimated 72 lakh families (population of 3.5 crores) will be provided five kg of food grains and bags per person. An estimated 8 lakh 50 thousand people will participate in the entire program.

The beneficiaries registered under the National Food Security Act are given milk and rice every month at concessional rates for food security as per their eligibility. As of March 2021, 346.90 lakh citizens of 71.44 lakh families have been covered under NFSA. The state government has also decided to include all disabled beneficiaries and Gangaswarup (widow) women registered under the state’s Women and Child Development Department, construction workers registered under the Construction Workers Welfare Board under the Labor and Employment Department under NFSA. Not only this, the eligibility age of the elderly person for this scheme has been reduced from 65 years to 60 years.

The state government is standing firm on the side of the Antyodaya families by deciding to provide free food grains to 80 percent of the citizens of the state during the lockdown in the difficult times of Corona. During the lockdown in the COVID-19 epidemic by the sensitive government, 3.21 crore families of 65.40 lakh families included under the “National Food Security Act” (NFSA) and NFSA. 14.92 lakh population of 3.40 lakh BPL families who could not be included under NFSA. Wheat, rice, chickpeas, sugar and salt “food baskets” were distributed free of cost to 3.36 crore population of 68.80 lakh households from April to June. For the first time, a population of 2.50 crore middle-class families of 61.04 lakh APL-1 category who could not be included under 10 kg per family per month. Wheat 3 kg. Rice 1 kg. Chanadal 1 kg. The quantity of sugar was distributed free of charge. Apart from that, wheat, rice, gram, sugar and salt were distributed free of cost by the state government at that time to the destitute, needy people, distressed, foreign laborers under the state’s “Annabrahm” scheme and by extending the scope of the scheme. Grain worth Rs 2,000 crore was distributed free of cost by the state government during the Corona period.

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