The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday postponed its house site patta distribution programme ‘Pedalandariki Illu’, a part of its existing flagship Navaratnalu programme to 15 August. The Jaganmohan government had scheduled to distribute about 30 lakh house sites to the needy on 8 July, his father’s birth anniversary, but has now postponed this scheme due to pending court cases against his government.
The Andhra CM has also made it clear that he prefers to handover the registry in the name of women, rather than mere pattas. Reddy is planning to spend Rs 90,000 crore to implement housing for all schemes in the state. Under the scheme, the government is all set to complete the Herculean task by building 30 lakh houses for the houseless poor people by 2024.
The CM has also blamed the TDP for the postponement, “It is unfortunate that the Opposition has moved the court regarding distribution of house sites to the poor. I hope the judgment in the Supreme Court will come in favour of the government. We want to build houses for 20% of our state’s population. We have spent Rs 7,200 crore to purchase these private lands. We make arrangements to distribute them on 15th August.”
The TDP alleged that this scheme is a scam as the land will only be doled out to YSRCP supporters. TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu has called for protests across the state on Tuesday.
How India can be a Vishwa Guru
India cannot be a Vishwa Guru until India becomes a strong global power. Without power there is no influence, and without influence, there can be no impact, no respect.
Indian politicians including current Prime Minister have made repeated reference to making India a Vishwa Guru. A worthy goal indeed. However, the ground-reality is while India is increasingly discarding its own cultural and knowledge systems and our children grow up believing our ancestors were losers until the West civilised us, the West has appropriated and continues to appropriate and commercialise many of our Vidyas — Yoga, Ayurveda, meditation being prominent among them.
Let me be blunt: India cannot be a Vishwa Guru until India becomes a strong global power, to which the world will look up to and is ready to listen to. Without power there is no influence, and without influence, there can be no impact, no respect. Pursuit of power is essential if a country or a civilisation wants to make a difference, wants to bring a change. Unfortunately, this is where India is lacking. India’s leadership lacks the vision, will, and the mindset to pursue power ethically and to aim to make India great again.
Contrast this with China and its Belt and Road Initiative. Much as Chinese methods are questionable bordering on unethical and its strategic goals inimical to Indian interests, we have to concede that they have the vision and the will to become a global power and that is why the world must give its wishes and actions due importance, whether we like it or not.
If India wishes to play a meaningful part in changing global scenarios, India must be willing to enter the global game of thrones and play it to win. To do this, it must develop the mindset of what Hindu texts call: Vijigishu.
Vijigishu means ‘one who is desirous of victory, one who wants to conquer’. It refers to a king or a political leadership which has aspirations to make their country a global power and the vision, competency and willingness to work towards it. It refers to the mindset of leadership which understands power and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve victory. They realise that power by itself is not corrupting and is not an end in itself. Instead power must be used as a means for achieving noble and ethical ends. As the famous verse from Chanakya Sutra which says “The root of happiness if Dharma or performance of ethical duties and the root of Dharma is Artha or power and wealth, and the root of Artha is Rajya or country.” That is, the purpose of the political leadership is to gain power and use power for attaining ethical goals.
The concept of ruler as a Vijigishu is mentioned in many texts including Manusmriti (7.154-159) and Arthashastra (Book 6). In both these texts, Vijigishu is mentioned in the context of Mandala theory.
The Mandala (Circle) theory is a theory of statecraft and foreign policy as conceived by ancient Indian scholars and thinkers of polity to help Vijigishuunderst and the geopolitical game and assist him in real time to play his game and eventually reach his goal of becoming Chakravartin — which could be loosely translated as world conqueror, but more precisely it would be one who has attained domination over his Chakra, the circle of influence. In today’s language, Chakravartin is one who has become the global superpower and established his influence everywhere and Vijigishu is one who aspires to attain this.
The Mandalatheory conceives the world in terms of circles of geo-political friends/allies and foes with Vijigishu and his country at the centre. The Mandala consists of a total of twelve components, of which four are most important: (1) Vijigishuor King bent upon conquest, (2) Ari or the Enemy, (3) Madhyama or the Intermediary and (4) Udasina or the Neutral.
Medatithi, the famous commentator on Manusmriti describes three qualities of Vijigishu in his enunciation of Verse 7.155 of the text. He says Vijigishu is the King who has people on his side, who has made up his mind to conquer a certain part of the world, and is endowed with courage and strength. Kautilya (Book 6, Chapter 2) says Vijigishuis one who, being possessed of good character and best-fitted elements of sovereignty, is the fountain of policy. Thus, the vision and willingness, capability and competency, and the popular mandate — all are necessary for a country to become Vijigishu.
India today is in a unique position. It is being ruled by a party which has a popular mandate. It has capability and competency, which can be further built up wherever necessary. Only thing that needs to be developed now is the vision, willingness, and the deep desire among Indian leadership to take India to the global stage not just economically, but in every sense of the world. From commitment to such vision alone can follow required policy changes and concrete steps to move forward.
The Ari or the geo-political enemy is of three kinds – the natural enemy, the artificial enemy and the neighbouring state — says Vīramitrodaya, a text on Dharma written by Mitrami ra. The natural enemy is one who is equal in status (and power) to the Vijigishu and is thus naturally inclined to be in competition. The artificial or acquired enemy is one which is antagonist to Vijigishu and is bent on creating problems for it. The third is of course the neighbouring state. Pakistan is a good example of a State which is both an artificial enemy as well as the immediate neighbour to India. Post Tibet annexation, China can now be considered to fall into all the three categories. Kautilya says that not every neighbouring state is a geopolitical enemy. Based on the intentions and attitudes of the state towards Vijigishu, the neighbouring state could be hostile, friendly, or subservient.
The Madhyama or the Intermediary is the state which occupies a territory close to both the Vijigishu and its immediate enemy in front and which is capable of helping both, whether united or disunited, or of resisting either of them individually. Nepal can be a good example of Madhyama, though it is no position to resist either India or China.
The Udasina or the Neutralis a state which is situated beyond the territory of Vijigishu, Ari, and Madhyamaand which is very powerful and capable of helping the enemy, the conqueror, and the Madhyama together or individually, or of resisting any of them individually. In the context of South Asian geopolitics, the United States is the Udasina.
These four components form the root of the geopolitical circle. The other eight components are states that are friends and foes of each of the four components of the Mandala and share complex relationships amongst each other. This geo-political circle is dynamic and ever-changing and the Vijigishu is expected to continuously put in efforts to consolidate his position, expand his circle of control and influence, and reduce the power of others in the vicinity.
The ideal of Vijigishu is what ancient Indian rulers aspired for. It was the ideal of Vijigishuthat ancient Indian teachers and thinkers of polity conceptualized as the way forward for political leadership. It was this aspiration that had made India a global power and a world-teacher in the past.
India can again become the Chakravartin and the Vishwa Guru it once was. All it has to do is to start with an aspiration to become a Vijigishu.
Nithin Sridhar is an author, speaker, and a commentator on religion, politics and society. He is editor of IndiaFacts and chief curator of Advaita Academy.
Education insurers need to be worthy of their image, says Rajesh Kumar Singh, Chairman of Kunwar Global School
Recently, leading educationist and Chairman of Kunwar Global School, Rajesh Kumar Singh, joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. He shared with his unique and personal journey into the field of education. “I didn’t enter into education because of some wish to do this. I have worked in many industries, hotels, movies etc. After my son’s death in 2014, I wanted to contribute. I wanted to do something meaningful and impact the future of children, and that’s why I entered into this field.”
Speaking on the commercialization of education, Kumar shared with us his passionately held views on the matter. “The entire educationist and schooling community has acquired a really bad reputation. We’re viewed as shopkeepers, just trying to make the most money from people. We need to improve our image and be more like the police forces and the medical professionals.
He views the pandemic as a failed opportunity for the schooling community to have done this, and says, “We could have used the pandemic to change public perception, but instead you saw people raising fees, even in the times of coronavirus.”
This is where his school, the Kunwar Global School has taken a big first step and actually cut the fees by 25%. “We’re the first to do this, to cut the fees by 25% and to move forward with our work.”
The government doesn’t have a clear policy on education, he feels. He says that government hasn’t been able to decide between private and public education. “Supposedly, in our system, schools are built as not for profit organizations. Please explain why it is so then that as soon as the school is built the managers of the school try to get a franchise? Secondly, if the government wants to allow private education, fine, but then why don’t they just say ‘Ok, you want to run a business, run a business then’ and then just collect tax from it?”
Speaking on online education during the pandemic, Kumar feels that it is a necessity. “I don’t think its good, but we don’t have choice. I’m happy though that the government has decided to reduce the time of online classes. I still feel though, that we should give the students homework for a day or two, and have at least one class every two days.”
He doesn’t at all support the new ‘No school, no fees’ movement that has been coming up during the pandemic though. He says, “I don’t support that at all. The school has so many salaries to pay, and so many costs to bear, gardeners, teachers, etc. Now certainly I think many schools show one amount in their earnings and expenses and actually earn and spend another, and that is a problem that needs to be solves, but no fees is not an option at all.”
His advice for students is to prioritize their mental health over their studies for now. He says “we can catch up with the studies, but we need students to be in the right mindset, and frame of mind.”
Finally, speaking of the new phase of reopening of our economy and country he shares his opinion. He feels that “schools need to open’ and that currently, many boarding schools have performed their own ‘quarantines’, where “no one can get in or out”. “ Reopening the schools will be beneficial I feel, in the long run.”
Never get complacent, SSarita, the Managing Trustee of Priyadarshani Group of Schools advise to young women
Recently, the Managing Trustee of Priyadarshani Group of Schools, SSarita Siingh was invited as an A-lister for an exclusive interview with NewsX. Ssarita Siingh is an entrepreneur, educationalist and a media expert. She is definitely a role model for many women and has paved her way in the world by working resiliently towards it.
Ssarita started as an assistant teacher appointed by her father’s school at the tender age of 16 years. With a passion towards education and teaching, she worked hard in her duties with a meagre salary of 150 rupees. Her father has been a firm believer of teaching his kids important life lessons from the beginning. He taught her that she should always work to deserve what she earns rather than receiving everything on a silver platter. She took the lesson positively and in a matter of five years, she came a long way from teaching KG children to teaching all classes in the school and taking care of the administrative work as well.
Ssarita soon came to realise that being a girl, her family had different expectations from her in terms of a future. In hopes of being independent and self-reliant, she moved out of her parent’s house at the age of 21 years. With 2000 rupees in her pocket, she went to Bombay. She eventually settled in a Chawl with a friend after surviving a day living on the street. She got her first official job with Macmillan Publishing House. Due to her hard working nature, she achieved a lot of success at the UK-based company and deservingly got promoted as the Corporate Head.
She subsequently made some small, independent films through the money she earned. One of her films got banned by the Central Board of Film Certification, which began her journey in the film industry of India. Upset over the ban of her film, she started working in the Board panel to understand the workings of the Board. After three years, she soon came to realise the shrewd monopoly at place, since the fate of the filmmaker, cast and crew lies in the hands of just four people.
Through her experience in the Board panel, she soon got in touch with Gauri Khan. She served as an adviser and consultant to her for a decent period of time. She even worked as a creative consultant with Sahara and pursued many independent endeavours with Bollywood insiders and industry personnel. Having gained the learning of Bollywood and the CBFC, she also worked as a volunteer analyst where she used to write Box Office petitions.
Her journey in the entertainment industry ended after being the Head of Carnival Cinemas. She soon came to realise her passion and calling was always being an educator and came back to the teaching industry. She describes her journey quite literally as a ‘roller coaster ride and she did indeed do a full circle in her career!’
Coming from a traditional Rajput family she faced some sort of discrimination as a girl. She was often denied to do a lot of things. Looking back, she talks about how her father supported her individuality and tried to maintain an equal space for her among her siblings. She faced many difficulties being an independent woman in a patriarchal society and experienced many double standards especially in places she worked. She took those experiences in a positive sense and came out stronger to be the person she is now.
Upon asked about nepotism and its existence in all the industry as well as in Bollywood, she explains that this has been existing since ages and has been all around us. But these have always been a balance to keep the severe inequalities at bay. She further explains that there has been hierarchy in all sectors, especially the corporate world. She does not take sides but she believes that it goes hand-in-hand.
When asked about how she has been coping during these difficult times, especially with the severe changes in education sector; she goes on to say that apart from online teaching being provided, her company is also conducting regular counselling sessions with the parents as they play a major part in a child’s teaching life. Online sessions on soft skills and etiquettes are a major focus according to her as she believes that in the practical life the students will soon face, Mathematics and Science often take a back seat.
Her company in mainly focused on providing the students mental, emotional and moral support they essentially need during a pandemic. She believes the current education system of India is not purposeful enough. She has brought some major changes in the education system by bringing MCF, Martial Cadet Training, Skills and etiquette programs. Her organisation has also collaborated with the Human Rights Office in California, USA. She explained that despite the fact that Human Rights are an important part of a student’s curriculum; rarely any school provides any class on the subject. Their organisation focuses on teaching the students to adapt to the future more comfortably and have the confidence to face any difficulties in the world without panicking.
Upon asked about her mantra to being such a successful women, she simply says that one should never be used to a routine. She also says that according to her, being in a comfort zone means not being able to achieve anything further. She concludes by asking young women and children to never lose their integrity and keep working hard to achieve their goals.
International airlines struggle to take off
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 have put paid to all grandiose schemes to lure people back into seats.
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.
Residential real estate market to boost amid Covid: Harsh Vardhan Bansal
The real estate market is expected to grow amid Covid-19 pandemic as people now want homes where they can adjust room sizes and have extra space if anyone gets infected with Coronavirus. These are the words of Harsh Vardhan Bansal, director, Unity Group who feels the current pandemic that the current pandemic has changed demand in types of homes wanted by people.
Speaking exclusively to NewsX, Bansal says, “Home is the safest place on earth. Especially during this Covid pandemic, it’s now been proven. No place is safer than home and people want to feel that kind of security when they’re going to buy homes. For instance, if someone gets Covid, he or she needs to be quarantined and for that you’ll need the space.”
He feels that the demand will decrease for the time being, but will eventually begin to pick up again. According to him this will happen because the Chinese companies will come again to set up their shops in India. “If the government gives good trade contracts to the Chinese companies, they will come and work here. We are banking that this will help the state of commercial real estate,” he adds.
Bansal who is really optimistic about the home real estate sector however is not so sure about early improvements in commercial real estate sector as many companies are now trying to downsize their properties and are trying to get people to work from home. “If you’ve got a staff of 200 people, you’d be looking for an office space for 100, and the rest would be working from home,” he says. However, suggesting some recovery measures for real estate, he says that GST needs to be altered to cut the production cost by 15 percent. ”While the government has done a good job by lowering the CRR and the repo rate, the banks have not passed on the same to the end user. They are just looking for lower interest rates on their loans, and we would ask that the government make sure that what is passed on to the banks, is also passed on the people,” adds Bansal.
Change-makers who are taking India ahead in Covid times
As India continues to fight against Covid-19, many young talents are coming ahead with new ideas, innovations and techniques to ramp up this battle.
A 17-year old student from DPS RK Puram, Aryan Gulati has developed an app called ‘Lung AI’ which is a deep learning-based digital platform to detect and predict Covid-19, lung cancer and 16 other lungs-related problems like tuberculosis, pneumonia, etc. Talking about his achievement, Aryan says,” The aim was to make predominantly reliable, fast, low cost, user-friendly and contactless Covid-19 detection accessible to all which should be used for mass surveillance or individual uses.”
The web application requires an image of the affected patient’s lung’s CT scan or X-ray to be uploaded, it then tests this image against the Covid-19 detector and there is a probabilistic answer as to whether the user is positive or negative for the coronavirus. The result is immediate in 3-5 seconds.
A Covid-19 risk assessment system which records a brief history of the user’s medical conditions and current symptoms to give an added assessment in terms of the user being high, moderate or low at risk which further instructs him to lower the effects of the virus to a large extent as possible. Aryan says that in this application, users can not only diagnose their Covid-19 status but also detect if they have any other lung disorders in case, they test negative for Covid-19. For users who find themselves doubtful for any other lung-related disease, an automatic messaging system is incorporated to forward their cases along with findings of the Lung AI diagnosis to doctors listed on the website
This platform is a culmination of 6 different machine learningbased detection models that work collectively as a unit for Covid-19 and other lung diseases. Simplistically, the application depends upon machine learning, neural networks deployed, data available and methodology of training the models and available data. Aryan says, “My broad model training philosophy was to utilise maximum data for training and a lesser percentage for testing. Distribution of data was done randomly to ensure the best objective and unbiased prediction which results in higher accuracy”. In all such models, with more and more data available the model can be continuously changed and refined to increase output accuracy.”
Born in a musical family, changemaker and musician Jaiveer Misra is a musician himself. The young prodigy to give a tribute to the health workers battling the deadly virus and serving millions on the frontline, has composed a song ‘glorious’ which is being widely appreciated. “It’s a tribute to the courage of health care workers across the world and those who are working in the area of mental health”, he says.
Jaiveer has also started an initiative, “Simply Music” were popular song covers are performed and are digitally delivered to students across schools through the enrichment program. Talking about his journey, the young musician says, “My journey started when I started playing with my grandmother’s piano at the age of 4. I feel like I’m able to express my true feelings to any composition that I write or the song that I choose to cover”.
Jaiveer produces hip-hop and R&B music mostly. He is into other genres as well. “I tried to make music based on experiences of my own, like my personal experiences. But I tried to generalise my lyrics a little bit so that listeners can still feel the emotions that I’m trying to convey while relating them to similar experiences that they have had”, he adds. Most of Jaiveer’s inspiration comes from great artists of jazz and blues and some modern artists like Bryson Tiller and Summer Walker. At such a young age, his work has been submitted for Commonwealth society competition in the UK. He has also written a song called ‘I dream which aims to build environmental awareness and respect for the planet. “A balance between mankind and nature is essential for our future well-being. So, this song highlights the issues and the opening line of the song goes, I dream of a future where the earth’s at peace and this encompasses the main thought behind the song”, says Jaiveer.
Samara Mohan recognises herself as a social justice activist who is trying to bring about a change in her local community and society. Currently studying math and social justice courses with Harvard Summer School programme, she is trying to bring more kindness in community and society as a by having conversations over sensitive issues that people do not generally want to discuss. She talks to her schoolmates about contemporary politics, writes about lack of mental health awareness, the stigma surrounding feminism and equality for all through her poems and articles.
Explaining the role of social media to build conversations, she believes that social media can either be used to bring their self-up or bring someone else down. “There’s always a chance like getting into trouble, doing wrong things but social media can also be a really powerful tool to spread awareness and use it as a way to spread your activism”, she says. Samara believes that mental health is one of the most important topics that need to be addressed and discussed more often. “We all have mental issues sometimes in our life be it depression, just feeling sad. One in four people have a diagnosable mental health issue and we hide it so much but we shouldn’t”, she adds.
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