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INDIA’S VACCINATION COVERAGE CROSSES 75-CRORE MARK

India was praised by the World Health Organization for administering 10 crore vaccine doses in just 13 days.

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Vaccine

India crossed the 75-crore mark in vaccine coverage on Monday, with the administration of 7,688,373 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours. India’s vaccine coverage stood at a cumulative 751,230,971 (75.12 crore) on Monday night as per the Cowin dashboard. Of this, 570,781,531 (57 crore) people have got their first dose and 180,449,440 (18 crore) both the doses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday congratulated India for accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination. “@WHO congratulates #India for accelerating #COVID19 vaccination,” tweeted the official Twitter handle of WHO South-East Asia.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also congratulated the country for crossing the 75-crore mark on the 75th year of Independence, terming the vaccination drive as “the world’s largest vaccination campaign” which is “continuously creating new dimensions”.

Mandaviya tweeted, “Congratulations India! PM @NarendraModi With the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayas, the world’s largest vaccination campaign is continuously creating new dimensions. #AazadiKaAmritMahotsav That is, in the 75th year of independence, the country has crossed the figure of 75 crore vaccinations.”

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia, congratulated India for its fast pace of vaccination. “While it took 85 days to administer the first 100 (10 crore) million doses, India reached 750 million doses from 650 million in just 13 days,” she said.

As per government data, the recovery of 37,687 patients in the last 24 hours has increased the cumulative tally of recovered patients (since the beginning of the pandemic) to 32,447,032. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 97.54%.

Sustained and collaborative efforts by the Centre and the States/UTs continue the trend of less than 50,000 daily new cases that is being reported for 78 consecutive days now. 27,254 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. The active caseload is presently 374, 269. Active cases presently constitute 1.13% of the country’s total positive cases.

The testing capacity across the country continues to be ramped up. The last 24 hours saw a total of 1,208,247 tests were being conducted. India has so far conducted over 54.30 Cr cumulative tests.

While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, the weekly positivity rate at 2.11% remains less than 3% for the last 80 days now. The daily positivity rate was reported to be 2.26%. The daily positivity rate has remained below 3% for the last 14 days and below 5% for 97 consecutive days.

Meanwhile, Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, said that WHO’s global centre for traditional medicine will come up in India: “@WHO Global Centre for traditional medicine coming up in India, as agreed between @DrTedros and PM @narendramodi @PMOIndia”.

She wrote that it “will be a Centre for research, training & evidence synthesis for all forms of TM & integration into PHC”.

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We have a state-of-the-art facility at Jindal Bricks: Lakshay Jindal

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Lakshay Jindal, Director & CMO, Jindal Mechno Bricks recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Lakshay spoke about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks in great detail. Read excerpts:

Speaking about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks, especially his role in it, Lakshay said, “I oversee marketing and awareness campaigns run by the company. I also help setup distributions across the country. Jindal Mechno Bricks, or more popularly, Jindal Bricks is a machine-made brick and tile manufacturing company. We started in 1972 with hand-made brick manufacturing and in 1996 we shifted to machine-made brick manufacturing. We have a plant, highly advanced plant, in Delhi NCR. We are currently one of the largest manufacturers of machine-made brick and tile with production capacity of over 200 tons per day.”

When asked about the strength of his company, Lakshay shared, “We have a state of the art facility at Jindal Bricks with machines imported from various parts of Europe Italy, Spain and Germany. What is does is, we are able run production 365 days of a year unlike our counterparts. Another very important thing that we boost at Jindal Bricks, is our ability to innovate throughout past few decades. We have been launching new product categories at Jindal Bricks. We have increased the variety product one offer, each category and improve the product itself. We don’t stop there. We welcome customized requests from manufactures of other material need, designers, architects and real estate developers. All in all, we are trying to adapt new trends and advance our self technologically.”

 Talking about cost-selling aspects of the bricks used in related products, Lakshay said, “It is not an ordinary brick by any means or standard. In fact, it is the ultra-light brick with doubled the compressive strength than an ordinary brick. Buyers gets 10% saving in steel and concrete. On top of that, these are face bricks. These are not suppose to be painted or plastered. This means you save both- your time and money, by not using the materials and again and the recurring costs that comes along. One of the main features of our production, in fact, all product category is that we have brick and loop tile. We offer multiple colours in it and all natural-no chemicals or pigments added, so the products are completely eco-friendly. In fact these colours are achieved by mixing various clays procure from different parts of the country and exposing them to the right temperature. Another thing is the thermal and sound-insulation that it has, so our products are engineered to have excellent thermal and sound-insulation, which means lower air-conditioning business somewhere and lower heating in winters. All in all, i mean at Jindal Bricks, we are able to deliver highly durable product with zero maintenance, that is saving you money until the rebuilding task.

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:  

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‘It is an homage to frontline workers’: Konkana Sen Sharma on Mumbai Diaries 26/11

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Actor Konkana Sen Sharma recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List. In the conversation, the actor opened up about her latest project Mumbai Diaries 26/11. Read excerpts:

Talking about her role in the series and what attracted her to the project, the actor said, “My role here is that i am playing Chitra Das. She is the Social Services Director of this Government Hospital in Mumbai. She is not a doctor but she’s from a medical background. The show is in an unusual setting. I would say it’s a medical drama rather a medical thriller because this set is this government hospital, Bombay general hospital with the backdrop of 26/11, which has been fictionalised. For the first time, we’re seeing it from the point of view of the doctors, so it’s really the personal lives of the doctors, the challenges of working in a government hospitals set against the unprecedented events of 26/11, where nobody is really prepared or nobody is ever trained to deal with this kind of circumstance. For me, when i read the script, i found it every unusual. I have never played a doctor. I have not really seen even a medical drama like this and i think today, after Covid, we all have a newfound appreciation for our frontline workers and the difficulties that they go through, so for us it’s an homage to the frontline workers.

 When asked how important is to tell this story through their point of view and the message that the series sends out, Konkana expressed, “Yes, of course, i do think it’s very important. Despite the fact that it may be entertaining or you know, binge worthy or i mean hopefully, you know the fact that it is a thriller. I think it’s an unusual kind of a setting and yes it is very important to remember this. Particularly i think, in a post Covid or at least, you know, now that we have all been through the pandemic and we have even seen how doctors have suffered. There have been attacks on doctors. They often have to deal with a lot of very difficult circumstances, whether they are shortages of PPE kits or working in the government hospitals, where the situation is not always ideal and we have a storage of beds or equipment supplies, etc. We sometimes forget that the doctors are not gods and for them to perform, they need the infrastructure. They need the support also. They have their own personal issues that they are dealing with, plus they have to deal with these kind of things, so i think that this is very relevant, particularly today.

Speaking of 26/11 and where she was she during those days, Konkana shared, “As you know, i was actually not in Mumbai. We had driven outside of Mumbai. The news was trickling in. It was very shocking. I think what happened is, initially we also didn’t have a handle on exactly what was going on because there were events in multiple locations. It went on over three days, we also didn’t know, what and how it’s going to unfold. It was not a contained one-off incident. It was a very insecure and frightening time. It was very confusing. Is it safe for us in our group or we should drive back to Mumbai? What we should do?! That took us sometime, then when we came back, it was a time of shock. We were all in shock and disbelief and everybody, whether somebody on the street or a neighbour, it was very shocking. I think that there was a sense of this very uneasy kind of stillness that was over the whole city. A very heavy silence that something like this could have happened in Mumbai. We never know when something would happen again, that was the fear.

 Check out the entire interview on NewsX: 

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‘I just knew that I had to do it’: Sahher Bambba on ‘The Empire’

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Actor Sahher Bambba, who recently appeared on Disney + Hotstar’s new series The Empire, joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation for its special series NewsX India A-List. As part of the conversation, the actor opened up about the response to the series, her first response when the show was offered to her, her experience of working with Kunal Kapoor and much more. Read excerpts:

Speaking about the response to the series ‘The Empire’ on Disney + Hotstar, her role and performance, Sahher said, “It has been overwhelming waking up to amazing messages, people appreciating my performance, people loving the show. It is a very good feeling because the shooting process took a little longer than the usual due to the pandemic. All of us were really waiting for the release to happen. There was a lot of buzz around the show and people are loving it. They are liking me in the show. I am just grateful to everyone who is liking the show.”

Sharing insights into how the show came your way and what was her first response when she was offered the character of Maham, aka, Mallika-E-Hindustan, she said, “Actually, I was the last person to be casted on the show. The makers wanted to start shooting ASAP. The casting director called me one evening and he said, ‘You have to go and meet Nikhil sir tomorrow because he is doing this show . Go test for it and see if you like it.’ I went and met Nikhil sir. When he started talking about my character and the show in general, I just knew that I had to do it and there were no two ways about it. I was very excited as these opportunities are very rare, where you get to play such a character on-screen. It was definitely on my bucket list to do something in the periodic zone and that happened with The Empire and Maham’s character. I love the character and I was very excited to be a part of the show. I remember the first time I walked on the set, I was gobsmacked just looking at the detailing and the costumes. It was just surreal.”

Talking about her experience on sets and working with an ensemble cast, including Kunal Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Dino Morea, Rahul Dev, she expressed, “It was amazing. Also, the fact that everybody was so focused, everybody just wanted to get their Urdu right, their scenes right. There was a lot of focus and discipline in that sense. We helped each other to perform better. Kunal and I shared a great working rapport. Mitakshara and Nikhil sir are absolute geniuses, when it comes to directing and their briefs are so amazing. It just makes our work a lot easier.”

When asked if she found any difference in working for films and digital and would she be open to doing both in the future, she responded, “It is pretty much the same. This was a little different because it is from a different era altogether but I think the process and the filmmaking aspect of it is the same.”

She added, “Not a preference as such but I would want to do more films also. Having said that, I am never going to say no to a good project just because it is going to be an OTT release. The pandemic has changed so many things and the lines are pretty blur. Definitely, I would love to maintain a balance between OTT and films. “

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Shweta Shalini

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“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.

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