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Israel stands with India amid coronavirus crisis: Deputy Ambassador

Deputy Ambassador of Israel Rony Yedidia-Clein suggests that India should vaccinate people in every village and town, as quickly as possible.

Gauri Kundalia

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Deputy Ambassador of Israel Rony Yedidia-Clein recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation on Israel’s aid to India amid the Covid-19 second wave, which has wreaked havoc in the country, especially due to shortage of medical supplies and enormous pressure on the healthcare system.

Shedding light on what aid has been provided to India till now, Rony Yedidia-Clein said, “When the crisis started, we turned to our foreign minister about this and told him. He started to act. At first, we were even willing to get the embassy budgets into this, but it would have been much smaller shipment. The foreign minister acted and worked with the Ministry of Finance and other ministries to get a really big shipment of

aid, which actually has been coming over the past week in three different flights. The first one was in a passenger plane which had ventilators and oxygen concentrators. On Friday and Sunday, we had two big Indian Air Force planes coming in, with oxygen generators, which are huge. These are headed for three different hospitals, and can be of help to 120 beds, in terms of oxygen. The smaller oxygen concentrators can be installed by the bedside in hospitals or at home for oxygen therapy of Covid patients, and ventilators. The Israeli government really came together. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and various Israeli economic organisations came together and helped the Indian people.”

Speaking about the different Israeli teams arriving in India to help with rapid testing and oxygen concentrators, she said, “These are teams from two of our best hospitals. Right now, they are waiting for all the necessary authorisation from the Israeli government, in order to be able to leave because in the times of crisis, we are not letting people go; especially health professionals leave so easily. It is a process for them, in order to get here. Hopefully, they will soon have all the necessary documentation and authorisation. They will be coming here to work in two hospitals, one in Kochi and one at Delhi, in order to help the staff there and bolster them, in terms of Israeli know-how and also just to help out, because we know that the medical staff is stretched whenever there is a crisis like this.”

Asked about the Israeli government and the Israeli people’s message to India in times of crisis, she said, “The message is Israel stands with India, whether it be gathering supplies in order to send here or even the huge get-together where they all are praying Om Namah Shivay in support of the Indian nation and Indians in general, hoping and wishing them good health in their hour of need. Israelis really, really love India. They have a record of coming here in large numbers. They enjoy visiting India. They look forward to coming again. We are also looking forward to having Indian tourists come to Israel. Both the countries are on good terms and I hope the friendship just continues.”

Talking about Israel’s fight against Covid-19, the Israeli Deputy Ambassador said, “We have been very fortunate that we were able to buy a large amount of vaccines very early. Even before the vaccines were finished and were yet in the development stage, we sort of put our bets on a couple of good companies like Pfizer and came to agreement with them in terms of supplies of vaccine to Israel. When we got the first vaccine, we started in December and we went full force in a very massive way, in order to vaccinate as many people as possible. We started with those who were 60 plus with comorbidities, but we never stopped right there because at the end of day, you have some vaccines left over that were just going to the garbage. Rather than allowing that to happen, we invited people even if they are younger, even if they don’t have comorbidities, if they are in the area and want to get vaccinated, they can come and get them; so no vaccine was ever thrown away. We quickly opened it to as many people as possible, over the age of 16. We had a very massive campaign. There is a vaccination stand in every village and every town, where people can go and get vaccinated. This is something we did to make sure everyone is vaccinated. Now, we have almost 80% of the population that is vaccinated or recovering.”

Asked about Israel’s suggestion to India on its vaccination programme, she said, “I would recommend India to go to every possible village and town, in order to vaccinate people, do it as quickly as possible and don’t allow any vaccine to go waste. Even when you are getting vaccines for the population, if you are allowing a situation where you throw vaccines, it is really such a waste. If there is any possible way, even if you don’t have enough people within the age, just go ahead and vaccinate people. Do a huge public relations campaign. We in Israel had a very huge public relations campaign, where people were hearing everywhere how important it is to vaccinate.”

When asked about the potential areas of collaboration between India and Israel as far as medical research is concerned. Rony Yedidia-Clein said, “We have had some medical research together. In the last summer, we had operation ‘Open Sky’, where we worked together finding rapid tests for vaccines. We are working on other things as well. We are working on various medicines for Covid-19. We also have joint research on other medical fronts as well. We have academic collaboration between the two countries and so we have Indian scientists working together with Israeli scientists on a variety of different things and areas.”

On a concluding note, she shared her thoughts on India-Israel friendship and said: “Our friendship is very strong and very deep. Israel is grateful for the friendship between the two countries that goes back to almost thirty years. We hope to be by India’s side all along the way. We are great friends of India. Our friendship will only go ahead and strengthen.”

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E-commerce may grow by 45%-51% in 2023 in Asia-Pacific region: StoreHippo CEO

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Rajiv Kumar Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, StoreHippo spoke to The Daily Guardian about his company and its growth plans as well as the e-commerce market.

Q. Tell us about the company and the services that your company offers?

A. Started in 2014, StoreHippo is the most flexible SaaS-based enterprise e-commerce platform. The fully-integrated platform built on MACH architecture enables enterprise brands to launch, pivot, and scale their B2B, D2C, B2B2C, or hybrid business models from one single platform Designed to accelerate the digital journey of enterprise brands, we have been building the most innovative and powerful solutions for brands across industry verticals.

The company has been driving the successful digital transition of enterprises with its 300+ inbuilt features, 120+ seamless integrations, inherent flexibility, and agility. The company makes it possible for brands to build personalised and conversion-oriented omnichannel buyer journeys for both D2C and B2B buyers. StoreHippo’s fully integrated solutions enable enterprise brands to integrate ERP, CRM, accounting, payment, and any other software or services of their choice. The company also provides the most accessible, reliable, and robust shipping solutions to its merchant clients with end-to-end logistics and fulfilment support.

Q. What were the company’s goals and objectives when it was founded?

A. StoreHippo was envisioned with the goal to offer cutting-edge enterprise e-commerce solutions for brands that could be easily customised for unique brand requirements. The aim was not to offer just an e-commerce solution but to offer a complete ecosystem with support for different business models and every aspect of the business operations, marketing, and growth. The company has been helping enterprises ever since to create a niche for their brand with future-ready solutions that help them go to market in record time.

Q. How do you see the e-commerce market by 2023?

A. E-commerce is going to continue its upward climb in the years to come. Ecommerce will keep growing in double digits even in 2023 and the highest growth will be seen in the Asia-Pacific region which will grow by a whopping 45-51%. With Covid induced better adaptation for online buying and selling even traditional, offline brands will hop on the commerce bandwagon. Amazing things are in store in days to come, in terms of hybrid business models and revolutionary tech solutions that would make customer journeys more personalised, immersive, and frictionless.

Q. What were the major challenges the company has faced till now?

A. Initially, the major challenge we faced was convincing clients that e-commerce is the way forward, and adopting the model sooner can actually give them a strong footing in the competitive market. Also, we had to do a lot of handholding as back in 2014, the e-commerce market was still in its nascent stage and customers were also a bit sceptical about purchasing online. However, things changed rapidly after 2016-2017 and enterprises have been lapping up the concept of going digital not only on one channel but across channels like online stores, mobile apps, mobile stores, social commerce, or any other new-age customer touchpoint that can be made commerce-enabled. Also, brands no longer stick to one business model, rather they are strategising the business to run either a hybrid business model or different business models from a single platform (like, D2C+ B2B or multi-vendor marketplace with hyperlocal e-commerce, etc.) StoreHippo’s well-rounded solutions with inbuilt solutions for a variety of business models have been able to handle all such challenges from enterprise brands easily.

Q. What are your growth plans for the next year?

A. StoreHippo is aiming to accelerate growth in untapped global and domestic markets along with solidifying its presence in its existing markets. We are aiming for a 250% growth in the coming year by offering innovative enterprise solutions to brands from diverse industries.

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‘GAGANYAAN’ OFFERS A RIVETING ROADMAP TO THE CHALLENGING JOURNEY OF INDIA’S HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAMME

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Produced by Miditech Studios, the new Discovery+ documentary titled ‘Gaganyaan – Bharat ki Antariksh Udaan’ offers a riveting roadmap to the audacious and challenging journey of India’s human space flight programme, from developing the country’s own state of the art cryogenic engine, testing of flights, rigorous astronaut trainings to the final preparations and anticipation before its launch in 2023.

The 45-minute long documentary is supported with archival footage and modern graphical representations of the complex processes and tremendous dangers of human space flight. This fascinating original also recaps the ground-breaking engineering that enabled India to successfully test an unmanned flight with the crew module from launch to re-entry in 2014.

‘Gaganyaan – Bharat ki Antariksh Udaan’ features three eminent astronauts viz. Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to go into space, Sunita Willaims, the elite record-holding woman astronaut of NASA, and the Russian Cosmonaut, Oleg Kotov. Along with them, various experts namely, Dr G Madhavan Nair (Former Chairman, ISRO), Air Cdre (Rtd) Ravish Malhotra (Former test pilot, IAF), Asif Siddiqi (Space Historian), Dr Brigitte Godard (Flight Surgeon, European astronaut centre), and other distinguished professionals also lend their expertise on the subject.

This is just the kind of content one expects from Discovery+, the country’s first and leading aggregated infotainment streaming platform, which is famously known for engrossing cosmology content among other fun and facts-based content from more than 55 sub-genres. In doing so, Discovery+ becomes the first OTT platform to bring to the Indian public this historical journey which will put India on the world stage with other spacefaring nations: Russia, China, and the United States. ‘Gaganyaan’ joins a formidable lineup of successful and immensely popular cosmological titles like – ‘India’s Space Odyssey,’ ‘How The Universe Works,’ ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman,’ ‘Space Titans: Musk, Bezos, Branson’ and many more.

Gaganyaan was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018. But no one at the time saw the pandemic coming less than two years later, with scientists and aerospace engineers realising that going ahead with a manned mission, a complex endeavour with a life at stake even at the best of times, was not something to be rushed.

But despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, the ISRO is marching toward its ambitious India’s maiden human spacelift mission in 2023. It has completed one more crucial test, which will boost the confidence of the scientific community to push the project further.

On May 9, ISRO completed a test called a static test of a human-rated solid rocket booster, simply known as HS200, for the ‘Gaganyaan Mission’. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. In simple terms, the test was conducted to see the weak spots, if any, in the rocket to be launched. In this process, human intelligence and scientific knowledge are simultaneously applied to check or anticipate weak spots in a spacecraft. Preventing possible accidents is billed as ‘Human Rating’. The process involves several tests with many variables to ensure the safety of a manned spacecraft to reach the goal and return safely to earth. In a way, it’s analysing and understanding the reliability of human-rated rockets against non-human-rated rockets. During the test, ISRO checked 700 parameters and found them all normal.

Interestingly, PM Modi discussed the ‘Gaganyaan Mission’ in his first Mann Ki Baat of the new year and the new decade. “Gaganyaan mission will be a historic achievement in the field of science and technology for India in the 21st century. It will prove to be a milestone for New India,” he had asserted while praising the four pilots of the Indian Airforce who have been selected as astronauts for the mission and their forthcoming training in Russia. “These promising youngsters symbolise India’s skill, talent, ability, courage and dreams. Our four friends are about to go to Russia in a few days for their training. I am confident that this would script another golden chapter in India-Russia friendship and cooperation,” he faded further.

Watching the documentary one can appreciate the meticulousness that has gone into making it. Discovery+ must be commended for making an important documentary film about India’s human space flight programme. Here is an offering that needs to be watched by each and every India.

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‘MEMMO ENABLES MEANINGFUL FAN TO CELEB CONNECTIONS VIA VIDEO MESSAGES’

The platform helps connect famous celebrities with their fans and has users book out a personalised video message to create lasting memories.

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Memmo is one of the leading entertainment platforms present at the global level. The firm is an online platform that offers personalised video messages from thousands of well-known celebrities and prominent personalities to their fans and followers. If we talk about personalised videos, these videos are customised for individual viewers and play a major role in developing trusting relationships.

 It is the biggest marketplace for personalised videos from thousands of celebrities (sports, actresses, comedians, artists, YouTubers, and so on) that are shared with fans and businesses. The brand›s CEO & co-founders Tobias Bengtsdahl & Gustav Lundberg Toresson, conceptualised the venture with the mission to help connect celebrities one-to-one with fans and businesses. The firm also hosts prominent angels in the business industry by customising videos of celebrities for the marketing campaign, virtual events, team celebrations, and cold sales outreach.

In an interview with The Daily Guardian, Abhishek Sarkar, General Manager and Head of India operations, Memmo spoke about the company’s goals, challenges, growth plans and the factors behind the growth of the personalised celebrity video messaging industry.

Q. Tell us about the company and the services that your company offers?   

A. Memmo is the biggest marketplace outside of the US for personalised videos from thousands of celebrities (athletes, actors, comedians, musicians, YouTubers etc.) to fans and businesses. Personalised videos are the first step on our mission to tech-enable and democratise access to talent to offer a wide range of products and services to fans and businesses. The platform helps connect famous celebrities with their fans and has users book out a personalised video message to create lasting memories. 

Q. What were the company’s goals and objectives when it was founded?  

A. After thinking for a long time about the positive and emotional effect that occurs when you have personal contact with inspiring people, the idea of this company came while attending a wedding dinner. During many lengthy speeches, often a little too internal for everyone to appreciate, the evening suddenly stopped. A video clip featuring the bride’s celebrity crush was presented, with some playful lines about how it could have instead ended up being the bride and him–with a big congratulations to the lucky groom. All of the wedding guests suddenly sat in unified laughter and amazement. The question arose–how had the gifter managed to get hold of such a video, and could there be a way to share these experiences of the fan to talent connection more often? One question led to another, and it quickly became apparent that getting in touch with the people we look up to is not something that’s accessible to everyone, but rather the opposite. On the other hand–the inboxes and DMs of these people have never been as busy with requests from their fans as they are today. This identified opportunity to enable more meaningful fan to talent connections was the starting point for the memmo.me team on the journey to becoming the global destination for talent to connect with fans and brands on their terms. 

Q. What are the factors behind the growth of the personalised celebrity video messaging industry?

A. In the last two to three years, this space has been growing. There is also a unicorn in this space and the demand is huge across every country we operate in. In India alone, there are over five to six companies in the same space and each has its own top celebrity earning thousands of dollars per month. Top celebrities on our platform earn anywhere between US$ 15K to US$ 20K monthly and this truly goes on to show the demand is high, as long as we are able to follow up with good supply, great products and impeccable service, the sky’s the limit. Fans from around the world want to be connected with their favourite artist, sportspersons and have no platform to get up close and personal, our company helps bridge that gap. This is welcome by both fans and celebrities. A lot of celebrities look for multiple sources of income especially after the pandemic due to lower shootings and such platforms have proved to be great sources of alternate income.  

Q. Tell us about your business success so far?   

A. We just scaled to three new markets after launches in North America, Europe, and Australia, and are looking to launch more in the coming months. Currently, our company is a market leader in most markets it operates in. The company has grown 10x from last year in terms of total order volumes and the roster of celebrities is increasing every single day. This only shows the demand from users for a product like this and celebrities do not want to miss out on this unique opportunity to stay connected with fans as well as generate additional revenue streams. We have thousands of celebrities who trust us as their go-to platform for on-demand personalised shout-outs to fans from across the world.

Q. What were the major challenges the company has faced till now?

A. The challenge is localising content, offering and celebrity base for each market to cater to the needs and demands of that specific market. We spend a lot of time understanding each market and the nuances it has to offer. The biggest challenge so far has been identifying the right set of celebrities to launch a market with and gain traction. Once we are able to figure these things out, the market is ready for take-off. The space is filled with a lot of competition, so keeping products, offerings, and services top-notch and evolving is yet another ongoing challenge. 

Q. What are your growth plans for the next year?

A. We just scaled to these new markets: India, Mexico, and Brazil. The plan is to establish a stronghold in these operating markets, improve on offerings and increase the roster of celebrities to cater to the large audience from the respective countries and the world. The plan is to continue market dominance and keep growing year on year and build more memories for the world. 

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Ramchandra Prasad Singh’s RS renomination hangs in limbo

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The Rajya Sabha candidature of Ramchandra Prasad Singh, union minister for Steel hangs in limbo as a major section within the party is not in favour of sending him to the upper house from Bihar. In all likelihood, Singh might not get the candidature from Bihar and will depend on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to send him to the upper house. A senior party leader who wished to be unnamed said, “he might not get the Rajya Sabha berth from the party this time.” Suspense over the candidature of Singh started after Janata Dal (United) national President Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said that the decision will be taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and after which R.C.P Singh told the media that he did not know that he is going or not to the Rajya Sabha.

Talking to The Daily Guardian Neeraj Kumar, party’s chief spokesperson and Member of Bihar legislative Council said, “Any decision will be taken by our leader and Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar, the national president had said the same that Rajya Sabha candidature will be decided by Nitish Kumar,”.

The tenure of five Rajya Sabha members from the state – Satish Chandra Dubey, Gopal Narayan Singh (both from the BJP), Sharad Yadav and RCP Singh(JDU) and Misa Bharti(RJD) is ending in June this year. The election commission of India had declared the dates of the election process. The nomination starts from May 24 and will end on May 31. The candidates can withdraw names till June 3 and polling will be held from 9 am to 4 pm on June 10.

As per the membership strength of parties in the Bihar Legislative Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 77 MLAs, the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) has 74 MLAs and JD-U has 43 seats in the 243-member Assembly.

As per the number game, the BJP and the RJD can easily send two members while the JD (U) can send one member from Bihar.

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ARMY FOILS INFILTRATION BID IN J&K’S KUPWARA, ONE TERRORIST KILLED

Ajay Jandyal

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Security agencies on Friday identified an infiltrator killed along line of control in Tangdhar area of Kupwara and recovered large cache of arms and ammunition besides ten packets of heroin from his possession.

The infiltrator has been identified as Mohammad Muneer son of Bilal Ahmad of Jura Bandi Athmuqam PaK, officials told.The infiltrator was killed along LoC near ‘Darshan post’ on Friday. “During the search two 47 rifles with magazines, two pistols with magazines and ten pocket Herion were recovered.

The Chinar Corps of the Indian Army, in a statement, said, “Infiltration bid foiled by alert Indian army troops in Tangdhar, Kupwara today morning. The action resulted in the elimination of one terrorist.” The Army further informed that war-like stores including two AKs, two grenades, and ten packets of narcotics recovered have been received.

Meanwhile, A fire broke out in the Margana forest area of Chenani in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district late Thursday night.

Forest department officials, fire and emergency departments initiated joint efforts to douse the fire.

Earlier on May 17, a massive fire broke out in the Niaka, Panjgrain and Ghambir Mughlan forest areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Further details are awaited.

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India now among top 25 countries exporting in defence sector: Rajnath Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday lauded the Narendra Modi government for the country’s development saying that India which was earlier considered to be the biggest importer, is now among the top 25 countries exporting in the defence sector.

“Our country which was earlier considered the biggest importer, is now among the top 25 countries exporting in defence. Defence weapons were only bought from outside. Nothing built in India. Tanks, rockets, missiles and ammunitions are all imported,” said the minister while addressing the party workers at an event. Singh further informed that he created a list of 309 items which will not be bought from other countries after a certain time for which the process has already started.

“India is now respected in the world. Indian residents in other countries have told me they now feel respected. Earlier, in international conferences, if Indians said something, nobody heard. Now, the whole world listens with attention,” he added.

He also lauded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying that it is now the world’s biggest party which do politics to form the country, not only the government.

“You must not forget whose members you are. BJP isn’t just the country’s but the world’s biggest party now. The ideology via which we started our journey shows we do politics not just to form the government but to form the country,” Singh said.

Targetting the previous governments for the country’s development, Singh said that people faced basic problems earlier.

“Congress ruled for a long time, others did too. Poverty, unemployment- basic problems were faced by people several years after independence. Don’t say we’ve solved it all, but his (PM Modi’s) work is now visible on the ground,” he added.

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