Covid-19 has crippled commercial aviation, with collective loss of $460 billion and the cotton balling of 14,500 mainline airliners. The cruel fact is that the way back into the air is like clawing up Everest without oxygen.
Airlines would love to rush their fleets into climb power mode but the bleak passenger uplift and the visible nervousness of the global traveller to strap himself in the tube and leave the surly bonds of earth put paid to all grandiose schemes to lure people back into seats.
It is a crisis of confidence, not so much in the airline but in the fear of leaving familiar territory and embarking into the unknown. Over the past month the aviation industry — from carriers, to aircraft manufacturers, to airports — has stepped up its campaign to address safety concerns about the spread of coronavirus as it looks to recover from the worst crisis in its 100-year history.
“All the data we can look at tells us that aeroplanes are less of a risk than any equivalent public place (such as) bus, train, restaurant or a workplace,” as per medical advisory group at IATA, the airline global trade body. But it has admitted the sector faces a “widespread perception that airliners are a dangerous place”. Widespread perception is a gentle understatement for a global mindset that cannot wrap this fact around its head. Ironically, the very technology that has fast-tracked aviation in these past 60-odd years is now raising its bid to be a replacement. Between instant communications and real-time audiovisual togetherness, the need to meet and greet is now becoming a comfortable option as a working tool.
As people are exposed at all levels to this method of functioning and initial clumsiness renders way to a comfort zone and that also detracts from taking a flight to Singapore or anywhere else.
The current cloud of fear stems from aircraft being confined spaces where people, sometimes from different countries, are close to each other for long periods, all factors that increase the danger of catching coronavirus, according to scientific studies. An industry-commissioned survey of 4,700 air travellers highlighted this concern. According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), 65 per cent of those interviewed said their biggest concern was sitting next to someone who might be infected. About 42 per cent listed using the toilet, while 37 per cent said they were worried about breathing the air in the plane. But experts point out that the distinctive features of aircraft ventilation systems could reduce the hazards. The “replacement rate” — the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour — is very brisk. While this does not mean every gas molecule in the environment is removed every few minutes, the airflow it creates potentially reduces significantly the risk of exposure to high virus concentrations over long periods. It can be favourably compared to the purity of air in an operating theatre where surgery is performed in sterile conditions.
Another crucial factor is that air recirculated through the aircraft cabin goes through air-conditioning systems with far more sophisticated and effective filters than those generally found in indoor venues on the ground. These filters have been found in previous studies to remove almost all particles of the typical size of the coronavirus.
Keeping these factors in mind both Airbus and Boeing have advised customers who remain worried about sitting in confined spaces that things are nowhere so dangerous.
The wearing of masks in flight reduces the risk even further. Other sensible precautions include calling on airlines to keep the ventilation system running when passengers are boarding and disembarking, a practice not widespread before Covid-19. Other factors could also lessen virus transmission. Seatbacks help block the path of respiratory droplets exhaled through mouths and noses. Passengers also tend to stay in their seats and not spend long periods in different parts of the cabin, reducing the risk that they will spread the pathogen to multiple groups of people. Some airlines have said passengers will need to ask permission to use the toilet. Many have cut food and drink to limit interaction between crew and passengers.
The ray of hope lies in the fact that so far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus. A flight from the US to Taiwan in March, where 12 people were later confirmed to have been symptomatic at the time of flight, generated no secondary confirmed cases among the 328 other passengers and crew members.
In a survey of 18 airlines, IATA found that in January to March there were just four episodes of suspected in-flight transmission of Covid-19, all from passenger to crew, and a further four episodes of apparent transmission from pilot to pilot.
A more in-depth survey of four carriers indicates no requirement by aviation authorities to make social distancing mandatory on board. Airlines have introduced other safety measures, such as mandatory face masks for passengers and crew, enhanced cabin cleaning and changing boarding and in-flight processes to reduce interpersonal contact.
Aircraft manufacturers are also investigating other ways to improve safety. Boeing is looking at new materials such as antimicrobial coatings or surfaces that would kill any virus that lands on them. It is also developing a portable ultraviolet disinfector that could be available “in a year or so”. Designed as a backpack with a handheld UV wand, airline staff could wave the light over the area to be disinfected and any virus would be killed “in seconds”. A consultant virologist at NHS said that because of the effectiveness of the aircraft’s ventilation system, the risk really came from how close people are when they are talking to cabin crew or to each other. He said there were small things passengers could do to limit their exposure. “If I had to fly, I’d go on with a mask and I’d try and eat when no one else is eating. Things like that can help stagger the risk a bit.” Compared with the same period last year, the decline was a record 18.9 per cent, according to preliminary data from the state statistics office.
Things are not good. And the key is with the passenger and his mindset. Now what is needed is a concerted PR exercise designed to exorcise the fear and create the right environment for us to once again dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
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How mind blanking helps us understand ongoing thoughts
When we are awake, we typically believe that our minds are always racing with ideas. We maintain our own dynamic mental stream, which is like a river stream that never stops flowing.
A thought may lead to another, whether or not it is important to what we do, and it may ebb and flow between our inner world and the outside world.
But how does the brain manage to stay in such a thought-related condition all the time? According to a recent study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it truly cannot be done because our brains must occasionally “go offline,” which we can perceive as mental voids.
Re-analyzing a previously gathered dataset, researchers from the University of Liege, EPF Lausanne and University of Geneva asked healthy subjects to describe their mental state as it was just prior to receiving an auditory probe (beep) while lying still in the MRI scanner. The options were environmental perceptions, thoughts influenced by stimuli, ideas unaffected by stimuli, and mental lapses. Using this experience-sampling technique, good photos were gathered.
In contrast to the other states, mental blanking episodes were recorded much less frequently and recurred much less frequently over time, according to the researchers. The researchers also discovered, using machine learning, that during episodes of mind-numbing, our brains were arranged so that all brain regions were in constant communication with one another.
Mangaluru’s Dasara celebration culminate with grand procession
The 10-day ‘Mangaluru Dasara’ celebrations culminated on the final day of ‘Navratri’ with a grand procession amidst thousands of devotees.
As the celebrations of Dussehra concluded on Wednesday, idols of all the nine forms of Maa Durga, including goddess Shailaputri (Daughter of mountain), Brahmacharini (Mother of devotion and penance), Chandraghanta (Destroyer of demons), Kushmanda (Goddess of the Cosmic egg), Skandamata (Goddess of motherhood and children), Katyayani (Goddess of power), Kalaratri (Goddess of auspiciousness and courage), Mahagauri (Goddess of beauty and women), Siddhidhatri (Goddess of supernatural powers or siddhis), and Lord Ganapathi were carried in the procession with much zeal and enthusiasm by the massive crowds in Mangaluru.
Navratri, one of the most important and auspicious Hindu holidays, is observed with great fanfare throughout the nation. It honours Goddess Durga and is celebrated for nine days and nine nights. Maa Durga worshippers do a number of rituals, keep fasts (vrats), make special meals, recite shlokas, clean their homes, and dress in new garments during this period.
In addition, each day of Navratri honours Maa Durga, or Shakti’s nine manifestations, commonly known as Navdurga, or the Nine Forms of Durga. According to Drik Panchang, Goddess Parvati, who is regarded as the greatest strength among all Goddesses, is the source of the idea of Navdurga. Worshippers of Maa Durga honour her nine incarnations and offer prayers for happiness in their homes and daily lives.
The celebration started with great pomp and show. Not just that, a massive crowd gathered to celebrate this festival to the fullest by participating in the festivity.
The celebration also included a series of parades by artists dressed up as religious figures.
Dussehra is widely known as Vijayadashami in the southern part of India. It is that time of year when the well-known Ramlila is performed, gorgeous fairs are held, crowds swarm to see Ravan effigies burst into flames, and the aroma of traditional sweets fills the air.
Despite the fact that celebrations and cultural practises vary depending on location in India’s culturally rich country, the fabric that binds everyone together remains the festival.
Dussehra, also known as Dasara, symbolises the triumph of good over evil, and it is tied to two stories. After a fierce battle that lasted more than nine days, it is said that Maa Durga conquered Mahishasura on this day. According to another tale, Dussehra is observed to commemorate Lord Rama’s victory over Lanka’s ten-headed evil king, Ravana.
The tenth day of Navratri, which is comprised of nine days dedicated to honouring each form of Goddess Durga, is Dussehra. Vijayadashami, on the other hand, is the day of victory. While some connect it to the famous Ramayana conflict, others do it to remember Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demonic Mahishasura.
In some regions of the country, Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or Dasain, makes way for the Diwali celebrations.
Twenty days after Dussehra, one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals, the festival of lights – Diwali, commemorates Lord Rama’s return home following his victory over Ravana. However, the main message of the Dussehra festival is that of good triumphing over evil, and it is on this day that people pray for prosperity and good health.
The nine days of Navratri culminate in the killing of Ravana and the burning of his life-size effigy at the Ramlila, together with those of Meghnad and Kumbhakaran, on the day of Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, when the holiday is celebrated with great grandeur.
As each of Ravana’s heads represents a different negative attribute, Dussehra also represents purging oneself of sins or undesirable traits.
In several southern Indian states, Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi Puja. Devotees wish Maa Durga farewell on Dashami, and the visarjan is performed at Aparahna time or Pratahkala while Dashami Tithi is in effect.
The tenth day is also known as Vijayadashmi, when Maa Durga’s idol is submerged in water in the hopes that she will keep an eye on them and fend off all misfortunes and evils. Vijayadashmi and Dussehra commemorate the triumph of good over evil, and worshippers celebrate the festivals by indulging in various foods with their loved ones.
‘Toxic stereotyping of Asian women doesn’t just end once the credits roll’
A new edition of Meghan Markle’s Archetype podcast, which launched last month with Serena Williams as its guest, has finally come out.
The Duchess of Sussex’s podcast released its most recent episode as the first one following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II earlier in September. The most recent episode followed a discussion on toxic Asian stereotypes featuring journalist Lisa Ling and actor-comedian Margret Cho.
Meghan and the guests discussed a variety of topics, including their own experiences, how they overcame stereotypes, the problematic representations of Asian women on television and in the media, and much more.
The Duchess recalled the various cultures she was exposed to while growing up in Los Angeles and stressed that many Asian cultures were a part of her life while growing up in the opening scene of the ‘Demystification of Dragon Lady’ episode. Meghan acknowledged that she had been ignorant of the stereotypes that many Asian women had endured for a very long time and emphasised the negative portrayal of Asians on screen.
She said, “This toxic stereotyping of women of Asian descent — this doesn’t just end once the credits roll. Movies like Austin Powers and Kill Bill—they presented these caricatures of women of Asian descent as oversexualized or aggressive.”
Before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, three episodes of Archetype were broadcast, featuring guests like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Mindy Kaling, who seemed to dispel stereotypes about women. Following the late monarch’s funeral on September 19, a week of mourning was observed by Queen Elizabeth’s family. After that, the members of the Royal family went back to work.
The podcast has resumed, but the release date for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix docu-series has been further delayed as a result of the Queen’s death.
BJP accuses CM Kejriwal of corruption in electricity discoms
BJP on Thursday leveled another corruption charge against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). This time, party spokespersons Syed Zafar Islam and Harish Khurana accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of appointing chosen officials to facilitate corruption in the electricity companies and prevent audits.
BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam pointed out the Delhi Chief Minister’s previous promises and accused him of “stealing” electricity. In 2013, Kejriwal used to accuse the two companies of the Anil Ambani group and Tata Discom of being “thieves”. I want to ask what happened that the man who used to talk about stopping electricity theft, is himself stealing electricity,” Islam said.
“BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPS) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL). In both these companies, 51% of the shares are with Anil Ambani and the remaining 49% with the Delhi Government. “Since the Delhi government also had a 49% stake, the government used to keep retired IAS officers, retired Finance Secretaries, and retired Revenue Secretaries as its representatives to protect their interests,” the BJP leader continued. But, Kejriwal Ji removed them and appointed his own pawns to protect his own interests and facilitate corruption. ND Gupta and Jasmine Shah are known for corruption. Kejriwal has kept them as his pawns,” Islam said
He also alleged Kejriwal of stopping the audit of the government funding and accused him of corruption by giving commissions. “The Kejriwal government took a decision in 2016 that audits will be conducted every year. But, he didn’t follow his own decision. Because, if the audit had been done, it would have revealed how much money went to the public and how much to the beneficiaries, “Islam said.” Islam said.
BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana also attacked the Kejriwal government, saying, “When the AAP government came, Kejriwal used to say that we would waive off all the electricity bills and the electricity bills would be the lowest in Delhi. He also used to accuse the power discom of being thieves”. He claimed that the public has no idea of how their money had been spent and demanded an audit of government spending.
“A total of Rs 16,233 crores has been extracted as fixed charges in the last five years. Rs 12,408 crores were given as subsidies between 2015 and 21. 2,677 crores were given as a surcharge, the regulatory assets were worth 9,195 crores, and 3,900 crores were paid for the power purchase agreement. But, the total figure stands at Rs 49,636 crores”, Khurana said.
“No one knows the calculation of this Rs 49,000 crores. I want to ask, do the people of Delhi don’t have the right to know how their money has been used? We are only asking what the Kejriwal government promised. We demand the whole audit of the government spending,” Khurana said.
The allegation comes amid a spate of corruption cases being investigated against several AAP leaders, including Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Amantullah Khan, etc.
5 most successful college dropouts
From our childhood, we have been told that the most promising way of being successful is by studying hard and achieving good grades in school and college. But some people have taken the less travelled road and dropped out of school. Even after this huge risk, these people are billionaires. Let us take a look at a few of these popular names:
- Steve Jobs
The founder of Apple left Reed College when he was just 19, reportedly because it was too much of a financial burden for his family. Despite his short tenure at Reed, Jobs still found his time there valuable. In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, he credited a Reed calligraphy course for inspiring the typography he used on the first Mac. Apple is a well-known brand in today’s time.
2. Bill Gates
Bill Gates attended Harvard for two years before he dropped out to create what would become Microsoft. The Harvard Crimson describes him as “Harvard’s most successful dropout,” and today he is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Imagine dropping out of your college and trying your hands at something you love then eventually becoming one of the richest men in the world. How crazy is that?
3. Evan Williams
Evan grew up in Clarks, Nebraska, where his family ran a farm. He attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for three semesters before dropping out.
Williams was a freelance software programmer for Hewlett-Packard and Intel before landing a gig at Google. He later quit his job at Google to build and became a billionaire.
4. Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, founded Facebook and now he has a net worth of 5070 crore USD. According to the book “The Facebook Effect,” it took him just five minutes to decide to quit college. Zuckerberg’s company Meta Platforms owns the most famous social media sites instagram and whatsapp.
5. Michael Dell
You must be well aware of Dell computers. Dell technology is founded by Michael Dell. He dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin during his freshman year at the age of 19. His net worth is 4,960 crore USD.
In New Zealand, Jaishankar raises visa delay issue
With delays impeding the study plans of some Indian students who are trying to enter New Zealand, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar voiced his worries over visa delays to his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta.
During his visit to New Zealand, S. Jaishankar urged the country to treat individuals who have been affected by the pandemic “more sympathetically” and “fairer.”
“I also raised with the minister the concerns that some of our students have faced, students who had to leave New Zealand during the Covid period and who didn’t have the opportunity to get their visas renewed,” S Jaishankar said.
I urged a fairer and more sympathetic treatment for them, also students who are waiting to come to New Zealand to pursue their studies and whether the visa process for them could be hastened,” he further said during a joint press interaction with his New Zealand counterpart.
India ranks second among the countries sending students to New Zealand to pursue higher education in a range of fields.
S Jaishankar said, “There are perhaps demands in New Zealand which could be met out of India, and we have a mobility understanding with many countries, so the possibility of those could serve as guidance for progress between us.”
Along with the country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, S Jaishankar will honour members of the Indian community in New Zealand for their contributions.
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