With the Taliban having taken control of Kabul, and the whole of Afghanistan for that matter, India is not in a hurry to come out with its final official views on the development. “India will not jump the gun as regards giving reaction on the question about whether or not to establish communication with the gun-toting Taliban,” sources told The Daily Guardian. “India is monitoring the situation closely”, is all that has come as an official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday.
Officials say that the priority at this point of time is to safeguard Indian nationals, Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. India is constantly in touch with their representatives, says MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi. “We’ll facilitate repatriation to India of those who wishes to leave Afghanistan,” he added.
Sources told TDG that a crucial high-level meeting is scheduled to take place after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar returns from New York where he chaired UNSC meeting on Afghanistan situation and terrorism. The feedback from the global community including UNSC members on the Afghan situation after the Taliban takeover will be assessed in the meeting to be held at South Block.
As the situation is volatile and developing, India will wait and watch before making any final opinion of the same, says a diplomat. “Delhi’s option at this moment is to secure Indians against possible consequences,” says the diplomat. However, the question remains whether India will now shed its earlier reluctance not to talk with the Taliban. Secondly, the question is also about whether India in due course of time will extend recognition to the Taliban regime if it is put in place.
According to sources, top security, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials held discussions about the situation in Afghanistan and plans for the future and these questions also figured. Evacuation plans topped the agenda, but discussions were also focused on next steps to be taken vis-à-vis a Taliban ‘regime’ in Afghanistan, sources added. “What was suggested in the meeting was that as the situation is unfolding rapidly and the Taliban’s future course of action is yet to be seen by the entire world, India should wait and watch before reaching any conclusion,” sources said. The inputs of this meeting will be shared with Jaishankar and a fresh brainstorming will take place after his return from New York, say sources.
Meanwhile, whatever was discussed on Afghanistan in UNSC on Monday augured well for India’s diplomatic mission to gain global attention on its extended neighbourhood and also on Pakistan’s motives behind the entire development. The global forum shared India’s concern on the risk of Afghanistan turning into a safe haven for terror organisations under the Taliban with Pakistan’s support.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met under the presidency of India and discussed at length the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan that intensified further with the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres took cognisance of “chilling reports of severe restrictions on human rights” and said he was particularly concerned about mounting violations against women and girls. “We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,” the UN chief said.
Guterres called on the UNSC to “use all tools at its disposal” to suppress global terrorist threats in Afghanistan and ensure human rights are not violated.
Significantly, the UN chief also once said that seizing power through military force is a “losing proposition” and can only lead to prolonged civil war and the complete isolation of the war-torn nation.
In its first reaction to the unfolding developments in Afghanistan, India on Monday said it is constantly monitoring the situation and will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals as well as its interests in that country. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India is also in touch with representatives of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan and will facilitate the repatriation of those who wish to leave that country.
“The situation in Afghanistan is being monitored on a constant basis at high levels. The government will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and our interests in Afghanistan,” Bagchi said.
“The security situation in Kabul has deteriorated significantly in the last few days. It is changing rapidly even as we speak,” Bagchi said. He said there are a number of Afghans who have been India’s partners in the promotion of mutual developmental, educational and people-to-people endeavours and India will stand by them.
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People are more aware of the quality of products after Covid: Ashish Khandelwal
In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, Managing Director of BL Agro Industries Limited Ashish Khandelwal spoke about new initiatives undertaken by his company.
Ashish Khandelwal joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation for its special segment NewsX India A-List. Speaking about the company, Ashish spoke about how it was formed in 1999 and was made by his forefathers. Having been in the business for the past 75 years, BL Agro Industries Limited has created a niche for itself.
When asked about the reason behind the entry into kitchen ready products, Ashish said, “Basically for diversification, we started it. We are doing distribution and all the customers and retailers ask for quality products. So we decided why not move forward with diversification and move into food products.”
Talking about the response gained for the product, he said, “Just after the launch, Covid-19 pandemic started. It started in January 2020. The journey has not been very long. We faced lockdown. Moving forward, we will hit our targets.” After Covid-19 pandemic hit, kitchen ready products became one of the most searched products and most of the people started exploring various options. Talking about this, Ashish said, “We got a good push in delivery because of this. Otherwise, a new product introduction during lockdown would have been tough.”
When asked about the existing market and new markets in India, he replied, “Right now, we are in northern parts like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Bihar, etc. and we are permanent here. In a couple of months, we are moving to the South.” Stressing on the company’s new marketing strategy, Ashish informed, “We are always after distribution. We try to maintain relations with distributors. So, companies provide sales staff and everything. The sales staff gathers all the market reports and demands and then we work on it. The more prominent and convenient strategy is retailing nowadays because nobody is moving out much and going to market often. Today, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing problems for retailers to move out. So we are trying to maintain our market. We recently started our online portal. Soon it will be fully functional.”
Most people are used to bigger platforms like Amazon but small companies have also curated their apps that shows whatever product is available. BL Agro Industries Limited has the same plan. He said, “We are launching an app. We will be available side-by-side on the websites. We are trying to fulfil the desire of the customers.”
“We are thinking about expansion, typically in pulses, and other grocery products. In India, it has not been innovated. There are not many innovations. So we have tried to introduce some machines. Right now, we are grinding it with the stone mill which is modernised and is from Austria. We have started vacuum packaging of pulses and food items. Nobody in India does vacuum packs for pulses. Similarly, we try to procure more specific machines and try to give more flavours and more specific aromas and the best quality we can provide,” added Ashish.
He expressed, “After the Covid-19 pandemic, people are more aware of the quality of products. They are more concerned about the quality. So we are trying to produce good and better quality products today. We are focusing on Indian pulses.”
When asked about organic chains, Ashish said, “Right now, we are not planning for organic because organic has lost its quality as every brand is producing organic products. Specifically, we don’t have any tests for organic. That is the problem when we say organic, it needs a specific amount of time. It takes seven years for an organic crop to come and is financially not feasible.”
After the Covid-19 pandemic, people are more aware of the quality of products. They are more concerned about the quality. So we are trying to produce good and better quality products today. We are focusing on Indian pulses.
EVERYBODY CAN BE A SUPERHERO: VIVEK OBEROI, DR VIVEK BINDRA ON ‘I AM OXYGEN MAN’ CAMPAIGN
Vivek Oberoi, a well-known actor, and Dr Vivek Bindra, founder and CEO, Bada Business, recently joined NewsX and spoke about the campaign ‘I am Oxygen Man’ and more.
Covid-19 taught us the importance of helping each other. The pandemic, being a blessing in disguise, made the people more empathetic towards each other and etched the concept of humanity deeper into the fabric of the society. Vivek Oberoi, a renowned actor, and Dr Vivek Bindra, founder and CEO, Bada Business, recently joined NewsX’s special series NewsX India A-list to speak about their campaign, ‘I am Oxygen Man’. The campaign has managed to raise around Rs 7.5 crore and helped numerous families in such dismal times.
Talking about the advent of the campaign and the drive behind becoming a co-pilot for this initiative, Oberoi said, “For me, it’s funny how aside from the life of an actor, I live an alternate life of a philanthropist. Vivek Bindra is a friend, and I am the brand ambassador for the CSR work for Bada Business. He reached out to me with a plan to fight the problem of lack of oxygen.”
Highlighting the leadership of Dr Bindra and the zeal of the team at Bada Business, the actor added, “The entire team at Bada Business was hugely motivated to work for the cause, and Dr Bindra is a master motivator. The campaign built up in a matter of four days. What I thought will take at least a month to achieve was executed from nothing in four days. I am just playing a supportive role, and I am proud to be a small part of such a big initiative. More than 800 lives have been saved through it, and that gives me immense satisfaction.”
‘I am Oxygen Man’ is a brainchild of Dr Bindra. Talking about this philanthropic cause, he said, “The idea was to create a human contributing to humanity in difficult times. A businessman always looks at a hassle and creates a premium out of it by solving the problem. Therefore, I believe every negative situation can attract new customer acquisition. Due to this, a businessman is always solution-oriented. Real solutions are those which involve every individual. Through ‘I am Oxygen Man’, we aimed at making every commoner a superhero.”
Elaborating more on the vision, Dr Bindra added, “A comedian, an actor, a journalist, a hotel manager, a rickshaw puller, a railway employee, anybody can be a superhero. Humein doosron ki madad karne ke jazbaat rakhna zaroori hai. We wanted people to come forward to help the community as an Oxygen Man.”
Many celebrities like Sanjeev Kapoor, who gave PPE kits and Kailash Kher, who contributed Rs 25 lakh, also helped achieve the vision that Vivek Bindra and Vivek Oberoi had. Vivek Oberoi also donated a sum of Rs 25 lakh to this campaign. Three organisations together worked for the cause involving ISKON, Kailash Kher Foundation, and Bada Business. “Bada Business basically means Vivek Square (Vivek Oberoi and Vivek Bindra)”, said Dr Bindra. The campaign also garnered a total of 1 million views in just four hours.
Talking about a new initiative for the first time, Dr Bindra said, “I am thinking of starting an ‘Oxygen Man Challenge’, similar to the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, which was started to raise awareness for ALS and ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’ initiated by Manju Lata Ji, inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which involved cooking a bucket of rice and feeding the poor. A small challenge can bring a big change in the society.”
The next wave, which is believed to hit children, is problematic. Talking about the road ahead and preparations for the same, Oberoi said, “The thing about Bada Business as an organisation and as a family is that they do not stop. They always think about the next big thing.” Echoing the thoughts on the social media challenge, he added, “Social Media is a potent tool. If people cannot contribute capitally or physically, they can at least use the power of social media to spread the word about the problem and its solutions.”
When asked about how can the viewers contribute to their campaign, Dr Bindra urged the users to post pictures on social media helping others, use the hashtag ‘IAmOxygenMan’ and tag five of their friends. Oberoi added, “We don’t want to be a complaining man; we want to be an Oxygen Man.”
INDIA SHOULD UPHOLD INDIAN LIFESTYLE & CULTURE EVEN IN JHATKA VS HALAL DEBATE
Only those religious codes which don’t intervene with the lifestyle of other religious groups would be feasible in a democracy like India. As long as Muslims practise or prefer it in their private lives, there aren’t reasons to complain. However, when such practices enter the public domain and question the Indian system and Constitution, these should enter wider public scrutiny and consensus.
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last,” warned Winston Churchill. Indian politics has a long history of appeasement. The pandering to the wishes of a small minority who vote en bloc has been a lucrative career choice for decades until PM Modi arrived at the scene and gave a reality check. In many ways, the Indian situation of appeasing the Muslims is more ridiculous than other nations. Just a few generations ago, India was divided on cultural lines and the Indian society had clear ideas of the choices. Muslims who chose to stay back in India have exercised that choice by saying No to an Islamic nation. Given this historical and cultural background, under no circumstances do Muslims expect or require special treatment or religious code. Yet, religious codes exist and demand for Sharia and other Islamic practices find many takers in secular parties and in the Muslim community. The outright appeasement in the Shah Bano case was a defining case in point when the Indian masses said enough of it and rallied behind the nationalists.
Like Sharia law, halal is also one of the core principles of the Islamic way of life. Halal—an Arabic word that means “permissible” runs completely in contrast to the system India has adopted. If an ancient religious code can dictate what is permissible (halal) or forbidden (haram) in India today, it’s a challenge to every legal system which isn’t an Islamic one. But then, the target of those promoting such concepts is precisely to introduce foreign cultural influences to subvert our national life. Strangely, the usual proponents of halal and Sharia are the same set of people who harp on secularism. It’s clear from this double-standard of theirs that what they actually seek is pick-and-choose. They want an Indian secular state to protect where they find themselves weak while also weakening the superstructure by insisting on exclusive religious codes.
The halal and jhatka food debate is part of this larger debate on how many religious sanctions of earlier eras should apply to modern India. One is about sticking to religious dogma while another is a question of a more humane approach to slaughter. The proponents of halal claim that the halal lifestyle is mandated for Muslims. In a practical sense, no religious mandates should be allowed to subvert the lifestyle of anyone else except followers of the specific religion. In the case of halal, it ain’t so. Halal food is food that is slaughtered by Muslims only which makes it a clear case of discrimination and runs counter to our system. Secondly, the brutality incurred on the animal needs to be reduced as much as practical. That’s a humanitarian argument devoid of any religious bias. The Sikhs and others who support Jhatka are taking a better approach when they insist on minimum suffering. Numerous western countries practice stunning the animal to instant death than incurring the woes which it would otherwise suffer. However, halal in Islam isn’t simply about food but encompasses many aspects of the life of which food is just one element. Beginning with halal food, the aim is to introduce halal finance, halal lifestyle and many other aspects which is nothing but a red herring for Sharia. All these tendencies should be nipped in the bud and a strong legal framework should be brought to ensure to avoid pandering to any segment of the society.
As a final word, only those religious codes which don’t intervene with the lifestyle of other religious groups would be feasible in a democracy like India. As long as Muslims practice or prefer it in their private lives, there aren’t reasons to complain. However, when such practices enter the public domain and question the Indian system and constitution, these should enter wider public scrutiny and consensus. As long as nationalists like PM Modi occupy the seat of power, such appeasement won’t ever happen. It’s up to the Indian system to guard against any attempt to push agendas. In the New India of today, primacy will be to Indian culture and the Indian way of life and nobody has any reason to complain.
Shweta Shalini is BJP spokesperson and advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis. She is also state-in-charge of the BJP North Indian Cell.
STATE NARCOTICS CONTROL BUREAU MULLING OVER A PLAN TO OPEN 17 BRANCHES AT DISTRICT LEVEL IN HARYANA
Drug menace continues to prevail in the state, particularly in areas adjoining to neighbouring state of Punjab.
In wake of this, the state government has taken several steps to curb the drug menace and the issue has been raised by the legislators of ruling and opposite factions so many times. In continuation to this, it is worth mentioning that branches of the Narcotics Control Bureau have been established in 12 districts. These districts include Hisar, Fatehabad, Karnal, Sirsa, Kaithal, Ambala, Panchkula, Kurukshetra, Faridabad, Rohtak, Gurugram and Rewari. The State Narcotics Control Bureau has been established in Haryana on the pattern of the Centre (MHA), and is the first State Narcotics Control Bureau in the country.
In view of the ongoing scenario, the state government is mulling over a plan to open 17 branches at the district level all over Haryana. A sub-inspector level officer has been made in-charge of toll free number, who will immediately inform the units of the respective districts. Any person can give information on toll free numbers. The name of the person giving information will be kept strictly confidential.
In this series and while talking to ADGP, State Narcotics Control Bureau, Shrikant Jadhav, Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatraya has stressed the need of involving public and private universities and other educational institutions in wiping out the crime of drug trafficking from Haryana. Dattatraya said that youths will be effective in checking the use of illegal substances and preventing drug trafficking effectively. He said the officers of the Bureau should coordinate with educational institutions and make youths aware of drug prohibition in rural and urban areas.
The Governor said, “The university administrations can play a better role in preventing drug trafficking and illegal use through their own information system, social media and other means of media including street plays, rallies and other such activities. Students in the universities can create awareness against drugs in urban, village and other far-flung areas by giving effective messages through the above media tools. He also said that NCC Scouts and students associated with NSS can play an important role as well. Along with this, the cooperation of the Red Cross and other social, government and non-governmental organizations can also be taken into consideration to make people aware.”
PGIMER TO HOST 5TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TOBACCO OR HEALTH
National level experts, policymakers, implementers, academia, researchers and civil society advocates will assemble at the 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health hosted at PGIMER, Chandigarh. All of them are concerned on one single issue i.e. increasing tobacco addiction in this particular region. Appallingly, kids and adolescents are not even escaped from this vicious circle. PGIMER Chandigarh different departments like Cardiac, Pulmonary medicine, community medicine, psychiatry happen to see kids getting admitted with tobacco addiction.
Dr. Sonu Goel, the Organizing Secretary and Professor at PGIMER exhorted, “Its not about the numbers of kids suffering from tobacco addiction, its about why anyone; be it a kid, adolescent or adult shall suffer from this poison. Appallingly, Adolescents are suffering from such addiction due to easy availability of tobacco in many forms”.
A 3-day virtual 5th National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH) scheduled from 25th – 27th September 2021 shall be hosted by the Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh.
HC GIVES NOD TO DELHI GOVERNMENT’S HPC FOR COMPENSATION OF DEATH DUE TO OXYGEN SHORTAGE
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday gave a nod to the functioning of the High Power Committee (HPC) to look into the matter of providing compensation to people who died due to lack of oxygen during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearing the case, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said, “We see no difficulty in the High Power Committee (HPC) constituted by Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) in discharging its assigned role.” The court’s remark came after the Delhi government took the stand that the committee would not fix any liability on the hospitals and the government would pay the amount of the compensation.
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi had earlier put the committee, constituted by the Delhi government in abeyance.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Riti Singh Verma, whose husband died on May 14, 2021, due to COVID-19 in a hospital in Delhi’s Nehru Nagar.
The petitioner has sought direction from the Delhi government to operationalise the High-Power Committee it constituted and commence its functioning forthwith.
The petitioner told the Court that her husband died at the young age of 34, and he was the
only earning member of the family. She said that she has two small children to look after along with her parents.
“The untimely death of her husband due to COVID-19 has caused great financial hardship. That the deceased was working in a private company and his annual income was approx. 8 Lakh rupees,” read the petition filed by advocates Yogesh Aggarwal and Kamal Jindal.
The petitioner said that her husband was admitted in a normal and not very severe condition and was a healthy 34-year-old with no other co-morbidities and died due to cardiac arrest as per the discharge summary.
“The discharge summary appears to be copy paste job on the part of the hospital as the deceased was a male and referred to as a lady. The manner in which the petitioner’s husband case was handled casts doubt on the hospital dealing with the COVID-19 patients and also the death summary does not mention if the Oxygen was administered at any point in time when his condition started deteriorating,” the plea said.
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