KABUL: Amid the ongoing drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, the war-torn country has seen a spike in the incidents of violence in recent weeks, leading to casualties of Afghan security forces and civilians.
Afghan security officials on Saturday said that the Taliban in the past week tried to take over some strategic areas in at least six provinces of the country, but security forces repelled their offensives. Over 1,000 Taliban terrorists have been killed and wounded in several encounters with the Afghan security forces during this period in Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, Herat and Baghlan provinces, said General Yasin Zia, the Afghan Chief of Army Staff.
Alongside Ghazni city, Khawja Omari, Jaghato, Waghaz and Khogyani districts have also faced deadly battles in the past days. Meanwhile, local officials in Baghlan said that hundreds of people have taken up arms to fight the Taliban.
Afghan Ministry of Defence said that offensive operations have been launched to eliminate the Taliban in areas under their control. It added that at least 250 Taliban fighters were killed in at least seven provinces in the last 24 hours and thousands more in the last four months.
The Taliban, however, has rejected the Afghan Defence Ministry report that they had suffered significant losses due to heavy fighting over the first four months of this year.
According to the ministry’s data, the period in question was the deadliest for the Taliban, as 6,320 group members were killed and 2,790 others were injured in clashes in different provinces across the country. The highest number of casualties in the past four months — 2,099 — was reported in the southern Kandahar province, as reported by Sputnik.
The Taliban on Saturday rejected the Afghan Defence Ministry report that they (Taliban) had suffered significant losses due to heavy fighting over the first four months of this year but the Ministry maintained that the figures of Taliban casualties were accurate.
Amid this surge in violence, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday had said that the United States will stand with Afghans who support the Republic if the Taliban do not choose peace.
“If the Taliban do not choose peace, a future based on consensus and compromise, then we will stand with Afghans who strive to keep the Republic intact,” Khalilzad had said in a tweet.
Leading UN officials on Saturday condemned the deadly bombing outside a high school in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of at least 30 people, including several school children.
Most of the casualties are reported to be girls, who were leaving the building at the end of the school day, UN News reported, adding that the city was full of shoppers, ahead of the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations.
“UNICEF strongly condemns the horrific attack earlier today near the Sayed Ul-Shuhada high school, in Kabul, Afghanistan,” said Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
“The attack claimed the lives of dozens of schoolchildren, mostly girls, and severely injured many more. Violence in or around schools is never acceptable. Schools must be havens of peace where children can play, learn and socialize safely.” The UNICEF chief added that children must never be the target of violence, and that the UN agency continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law.
Volkan Bozkir, the President of the General Assembly described the blast as “an abhorrent and cowardly attack”.
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Voters must be made aware of healthcare issues
Covid 19 pandemic is when we have so clearly understood how broken our health systems are and this has made us contemplate the role that the government should play in ensuring healthcare for all in the country. Surprisingly Indian election manifestos across all parties don’t allow healthcare any decent space. And more curiously, India’s voters appear to place little emphasis on health as they decide whom/ which party to vote into power. For instance, in the state elections in Bihar in October-November 2020, as found in a post-election survey, only a meager about 0.3% of the voters considered health as a priority–even against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic factors and general developmental issues loomed much larger to voter priorities against providing good healthcare.
Why do our voters not prioritize health despite their having to pay one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket (at 78% OOP) expenditures and catastrophic spending on health for decades? The reasons for the low prioritization of health in elections seem to be complex and rooted in our psychological imprint. Our people have surprisingly non-existent expectations of government as healthcare provider/s. This most likely is because the health system had been unresponsive and unaccountable for way too long. People’s minds have been turned away from this in their upbringing years while going through the thick and thin of their woes around hospitals and clinics. There is simply no expectation in their minds.
An expectation is the emotional anticipation or belief of an occurrence that may take place in reality in the future. It’s a potential reality that we look forward to being manifested in our lives. But mindsets primed over many decades are transformed to such a state that it doesn’t allow the emergence of any such expectation in people. The very concept of government providing healthcare doesn’t exist in the minds of the multitude in our country.
The other cause of such reaction in voters may also be because none of the political parties provide the subject of Health any decent place in their election manifestos. They make no promises about improving health care. So this leaves the people to themselves as far as health is concerned and are left with no scope to choose a political candidate or a party on that ground.
Political leaders, on the other hand, stay away from promising improved healthcare, either because they don’t have the answers, or they find it too complex an issue to analyze and come up with an agenda on offer, or because timelines for improving the system are well beyond the life of their political regimes. However, we get to see that where political leaders have delivered well on health, such as in Kerala, it has created an expectation from citizens which compels leaders to offer election agendas prioritizing health. Despite the pandemic, it has been hard to identify any shift in the electoral politics of health provision even in the world’s richest party governing our country. The ruling party under the charismatic leadership of the honorable prime minister has also been stressing other welfare goals even in the backdrop of a pandemic. The ruling party is also seen to garner benefits from maintaining a raft of welfare schemes since 2014 adding several such schemes and promoting them actively during elections.
Various factors/reasons are under play for this and the most prominent one is because reforms in the health sector are harder to enact and much slower to yield any tangible outcomes for voters to take cognizance of and manifest any impact in terms of votes earned for the party undertaking such a complex agenda. Hence, foregrounding health sector investments have been seen as politically riskier than other result-oriented schemes/ agendas. For instance, improvements in the distribution of food grains or gas cylinders (Ujjwala) are more visible and tangible/measurable for the general public than enabling efficient medical caregiving policy/ scheme which is a far tougher and time-consuming task to undertake. Welfare schemes based on the ‘delivery’ of a product are much simpler and tangible than improving services like health and education, which are much more complex.
Healthcare depends on a system that includes infrastructure, human resources, medical protocols and resources, high accountability, and capacity. For this reason, perhaps, the main electoral pledge in the health sector in recent years has been on health insurance and a few free treatments offers rather than comprehensive infrastructural reforms within which this product can be effectively utilized.
The social determinants to health that are highly prioritized in the UN sustenance goals must find a place in any discussion on health infrastructure improvement. They are important contributory factors to health status in general and get varying degrees of priority in governments. But there is a need for more focused coordination to ensure optimal allocation of resources across various sectors touching the subjects of safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. Their contribution to good health is unarguably a lot but these need to be adequately recognized, measured, and evaluated.
There is also a need to establish a coordinating body in the country’s highest offices to connect the dots in health and other social determinants of health and coordinate the work of various agencies contributing to health improvement to enhance and better utilize these for the general good.
Experts would agree rebuilding India’s health system requires first and foremost better financial allocation and some policy work around the clarity of roles of the national and state governments. The other area is creating empowered institutions with evidence-based healthcare governance and administration. The motivation for these will emerge from creating (or making more visible) the demands of Indian voters for improved health. Social help groups and non-government organizations should work on voter awareness, their perception of health schemes, and even the politics behind these.
The author is a Consultant Doctor, Moolchand Medcity.
HOW ONE CAN FOLLOW ONE’S PASSIONS AND DREAMS IN LIFE
A career has to be true to your inherent talent and interests. It should fulfil your financial goals and help you grow personally as well. It is important to be guided on the right career path, but it is far more important to stay true to oneself while making a career choice.
We all have aspirations for the future. Ask a child and he too will have a dream. Dreams might revolve around a career, achievement, or the little pleasures of life, such as travelling or driving a nice car. We are defined by our dreams. Additionally, dreams also direct the course of our lives. But occasionally, circumstances deter us from pursuing them. Does that imply one shouldn’t pursue their dreams? Should one give up trying? And, more importantly, should we keep encouraging our children to follow their dreams and aspirations until they come true?
Firstly, we must realise that while barriers may occasionally stand in the way of realising our ambitions, they are seldom long-lasting. After all, dreams are what give us hope. The right thoughts, the right environment, and the right attitude are the key components that may assist children, students, and adults in never giving up.
To stay authentic to yourself and your dreams, you can consider the following:
1. To think beyond examination scores:
Imagine parents telling their child to follow what their best friend or the best student in their class is doing. Most likely, he has no interest in what the other person does. However, ordering the youngsters to do anything will just add pressure on their young minds. Despite peer pressure, supportive parents and relatives must recognise their child’s innate skills. The child’s overall growth must be more important than who received the highest grades in the class. Once the child’s latent skills are discovered, positive reinforcement might help him excel in his chosen career path. This is the first step towards dream realisation – encouragement at all times.
2. The P’s that will stand the test of time:
Patience, Perseverance, Passion. A deep interest in anything naturally leads one to success. But persevering in the long run with no distraction or fear of failure or other obstacles is the key. There will be challenges but taking them head-on will take one through the testing times. And what’s most important is patience. To wish for quick results and give up halfway through leads one nowhere. Things happen only with time and at their own pace.
3. Being grounded:
Taking time to introspect and self-evaluate is very important. One has to be mindful of one’s attitudes and confidence levels and keep arrogance under check. Perhaps with all the years of experience, we have still not come across someone better. So being modest and preparing to listen keenly is necessary. This includes being open to better ideas and suggestions. Besides, work ethics play a big role. From turning in homework in time at school to timely reporting at work, discipline only adds more to humility. Chasing your dreams needs you to be grounded first.
4. Making use of technology:
We are blessed to be living in the era of digitization. Not only has technology brought the world closer, but technology has empowered children to get ample information at the tip of their fingers. To follow a particular vocation, one is better empowered today than one was a few years ago. Children are brimming with innovative ideas. With education technology, children are fully equipped to learn whatever they wish from any corner of the world. It helped them not to stop learning during the lockdowns, and, interestingly, they also discovered some of their latent talents. What also follows, however, is that one keeps upskilling with the ever-evolving technologies and opportunities.
5. Be a seeker:
The more one reads, the wiser their minds become. Besides, learning must stop at any age. The moment one stops learning, there is no fuel left to drive the dreams. Making learning enjoyable is something parents can do for their children. Teaching time can also be bonding time and motivate children to learn more and more. Children learn not from what parents say but from what they see. Parents too must serve as examples by learning something new every day and sharing it with their children.
6. Thinking beyond a conventional career:
A career has to be true to your inherent talent and interests. It should fulfil your financial goals and help you grow personally as well. It is important to be guided on the right career path, but it is far more important to stay true to oneself while making a career choice. A little support from folks and friends goes a long way in making a difference.
7. Challenging oneself:
One must not be bogged down by the criticisms as they only help us grow. Learning to navigate through obstacles is a confidence booster. As we challenge ourselves to do better, we only grow our potential and skills. Don’t stop dreaming. When you take up a task take it up with the same zeal as you would as a beginner.
The author is a Lifestyle writer & voice artist, The learning obby by Practically
Co-joined twin Veena and Vani pass intermediate exams with flying colours
In a sheer display of determination and will power, a co-joined twin named Veena and Vani have passed the Telangana Intermediate exams with flying colours. The twins scored first class marks, sending out a strong message of where there is a will, there is a way. While Veena secured 712 marks out of 1000, Vani scored 707 marks out of 1000 marks with CEC (Commerce, Economics, Civics) stream.
Satyavathi Rathod, Minister for Tribal, Women and Child Welfare, congratulated Veena and Vani on achieving the feat. The minister further said, «All the necessary facilities will be provided for their higher education. Veena and Vani will always have the support of the state government.» She also praised the staff personnel, who assisted the two girls.
Elated with their scores, Veena and Vani expressed the desire to become Chartered Accountants (CA). In the tenth standard, Veena and Vani had scored 9.3 GPA and 9.2 GPA respectively.
It is noteworthy that Veena and Vani were eligible to opt for special priveleges, which could have ensured additional time to write their exam, but they refused and submitted their answer sheet to the invigilator five minutes ahead of schedule.
The results for the 1st and 2nd year were announced by Telangana State Board Of Intermediate Education (TSBIE). Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Reddy announced the results. Among the 9 lakh students who appeared for the exam, the story of Veena and Vani stood out and is garnering praises across the country.
Born in 2003 in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, Veena and Vani were cojoined from birth. Due to this, their parents stepped back from taking their responsibility and refused to take them, citing lack of resources for their treatment. Thereafter, the twins stayed in Nilopher hospital till they turned 12 and later shifted to State Home.
Despite several attempts by doctors, medical and surgical experts from not just India but also the United Kingdom and Singapore, no way has been found to separate them.
While it was earlier estimated that the procedure to separate them would cost around Rs 10 crore, it is very complex and risky as their veins are tangled up. This is the reason an operation has not be done yet.
A STEP TOWARDS SELFLESS PURSUIT OF HINDUTVA IDEALS
The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions.
In 1895, Swami Vivekananda was to give a public lecture in London. When it was time to stand up and speak, Swami Vivekananda suddenly announced that it was Swami Saradananda who would deliver the speech instead of him. Though taken by surprise, the learned Swami displayed his scholarly mastery over the scriptures as Vivekananda sat overjoyed intently listening to the teachings. In the following years, Swami Vivekananda would delight himself by hearing about or pouring through the newspaper cuttings sent to him of Swami Saradananda’s lectures from Boston, Brooklyn and New York. Whether it is the success of Swami Saradananda in America or pushing Swami Abhedananda to deliver the teachings of Vedanta at a club in Bloomsbury Square, Swami Vivekananda created leaders who would work on the mission while also surprising his audience. Good leaders merely create followers. Great leaders create leaders and influence generations of leaders through their selflessness. Even after his Samadhi, a whole new generation of freedom fighters right from Lokmanya Tilak to Subhash Chandra Bose drew inspiration from Vivekananda.
Devendra Fadnavis pulled a shocker by announcing the name of Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister. As media personnel took a moment to absorb the gist of the announcement, the CM-Designate let out his profound understanding of politics saying, “Nowadays, not even a Nagarsevak (Municipal Councillor) or Gram Panchayat member lets go of his position. I am thankful to you.”
It was not just a sacrifice or selflessness of BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis but also a victory of the ideological cause, which every BJP karyakarta works towards. A Shiv Sena leader, who stepped down from government for the cause of Hindutva, was rewarded by fellow brethren, working towards the same Hindutva mission. A political leader moving away from the position of power is a rare instance as 50 rebel MLAs from Shiv Sena proved. However, a BJP leader himself taking a backseat for an ideological cause isn’t rare and Devendra Fadnavis was walking in the footsteps of great BJP leaders. When the founding fathers of Jan Sangh instilled selflessness as a philosophy in its cadre, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was a leader (Member of Parliament), with Advani working as his secretary and later as editor of a Hindutva publication. Over the next few decades, Vajpayee and Advani alternated between roles selflessly working under each other’s leadership building the party brick-by-brick. The ideological mission was supreme and not individuals. This selflessness of the party was again on display in 1977 when the Janata Party government came into power and Jan Sangh took a backseat despite a higher number of seats – the mission was more important than the individual goals. The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions. The Modi era brought in a fresh wave of ideological strength with the BJP selflessly taking non-RSS Hindutva leaders like Yogi Adityanath into its fold.
Over the past few days, the Maharashtra government under Uddhav Thackeray had resorted to attacking the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs for insisting on sticking to the Hindutva stand. The Shiv Sena leaders, who were once foot soldiers of Hindutva under Balasaheb and made their way up from humble backgrounds, were portrayed negatively. Their insistence on sticking to the Hindutva cause was painted as a power-hungry move of Shiv Sena rebels with the backroom connivance of the BJP. “Will you get the Chief Minister’s chair by rebelling against me” taunted CM Uddhav Thackeray in a LIVE address to the state.
“Yes”, replied the BJP and Sangh Parivar in unison when Devendra Fadnavis made that unexpected announcement at the press conference. In one stroke, BJP under Devendra Fadnavis destroyed Uddhav Thackeray’s anti-Hindutva propaganda and honoured the rebels for taking an ideological stand. In a message to every Hindutva ideologue, he made it amply clear that the stability of Maharashtra, development of the state and ideological cause is more important to him than the Chief Minister’s chair itself. The real Shiv Sena of Balasaheb under Eknath Shinde finally leads the state with the support of BJP MLAs.
The press conference by Devendra Fadnavis will be written in golden words in the history of the Bharatiya Janata Party as a step towards the selfless pursuit of Hindutva ideals. A karyakarta like me, who has tirelessly worked for the party under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. saw first-hand what selflessness towards the cause is all about. I have witnessed how faith in leadership trumps every personal consideration and makes BJP truly a party with difference. Detractors often resort to attacking the Sangh and its ideals while taking a gibe at BJP. The BJP under Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra has once again demonstrated how these Sangh ideals are the strength of the party.
In the words of Swayamsevaks, BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis acted true to the lines in the Sangh Prarthana – (TvadiyayayKaryayaBaddhaKatiyam) – We are committed to the cause- The cause of Hindutva, the cause of Maharashtra.
The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation.
ON DOCTORS’ DAY, NETIZENS THANK DOCTORS FOR THEIR IMMENSE CONTRIBUTION
As India celebrated National Doctors’ Day on Friday, politicians, business leaders and social media users took to Twitter to thank doctors for their immense contribution and serve to the nation. #NationalDoctorsDay took the top trend as wishes poured in on social media. Leading the celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a video on social media and said, “Doctors Day greetings to all hardworking doctors who play a key role in saving lives and making our planet healthier.”
Union minister Nitin Gadkari remembered Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was an Indian physician, freedom fighter, educationist and philanthropist. “Deepest gratitude to all the doctors on National Doctors Day. I salute their tireless efforts in keeping us safe during the global pandemic,” he said.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan also remembered Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy and tweeted, “Remembering Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, one of the pioneers of healthcare sector on National Doctors Day. Today , let us express our gratitude and take a moment to appreciate all our doctors for their round-the-clock efforts for a healthy and fit society.”
Fearing a layoff? Devise an action plan
India›s workforce has been at the receiving end of the economic impact of the pandemic. While many of the employees faced salary cuts up to 40-50%, there are a significant number of people who were laid off. One might assume that layoffs were a phase and the time to recover losses that occurred due to Covid-19 is not too far, but the recent layoffs in EdTech giants like BYJU’s and Topper paint a different picture.
In such uncertain times, there are certain strategies that one can adopt to evade a powerful economic blow. Having an action plan might not help in retaining the same job, but it will sure help in sustaining a huge financial blow as well as finding more opportunities.
The trick to retaining a job is to be invincible. Be so good at your job that it prompts the employer to think twice before taking a decision on laying you off. This does not happen in a day. Daily actions translate into a long-term commitment. Show up on time, learn as much as you can, deliver more than expected, come up with new ideas, maintain good relationships with your colleagues as well as your seniors, and you will carve out a space for yourself in your organisation.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
Learning is a process that must never end. Skills like creative writing, social media marketing, video editing, graphic designing, machine learning and others are skills that are highly in demand. Even if you are working an 8-hour shift and are not actively looking for a job, these skills will give a boost to your resume, enhance your skill set and set you apart from others.
Social media has made it possible for us to stay connected all the time, not just with our friends and family but also with potential employers. Building a positive relationship with your colleagues, ex-colleagues, seniors and people who are working in other organisations will ensure that you never miss an opportunity. Showcase your work on websites like LinkedIn to ensure that you don’t look for an opportunity, rather it comes to you.
No matter what your current pay scale is, it is always advisable to have multiple sources of revenue. That is only possible when you start investing early. Whether it is your 1st paycheck or your 300th paycheck, make sure to save a portion of your salary. Spend that amount on things that will give you a bigger return and not just dig a hole in your pocket. It is always advisable to have an emergency fund. As the term suggests, this emergency fund will help you sail through a difficult time. Even if you are laid off, you will be financially secure.
POSITIVE SELF TALK
Finally, it might get difficult to stay unaffected by what is happening around you. The uncertainty can take a toll on you but staying positive can help you not only manifest your dream job but also avoid the stress. Have a positive self-image, eat nutritious meals, dance your heart out, spend time with family and wait for life to surprise you.
Having an action plan might not help in retaining a job but it will help in sustaining a huge financial blow as well as finding more opportunities.
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