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India’s annual electricity demand fell for the first time in at least 35 years, mainly due to the strict Covid-induced lockdowns across the country, according to government data reviewed by Reuters.

In the fiscal year ending March 2021, power demand in India fell by 1%, the data showed. The dip in electricity consumption is being attributed to the imposition of consecutive lockdowns for the six months ending in August. Power generation also declined by 0.2% during the year 2020-21, compared with the previous year.

However, the demand for electricity has picked up since then, and generation has grown by 23.3% in March from a year earlier, as per the daily load despatch data from POSOCO analysed by Reuters. In fact, power generation in March grew much faster than the average increase of 6% in the past six months. This makes it the seventh consecutive monthly increase and the fastest since March 2010.

The reason for the steady increase in electricity demand now is the country’s economic activity picking up pace again, coupled with the higher temperatures being recorded in March in north India, which might be leading to a higher use of air conditioning.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that it was the Centre’s responsibility to supply medical oxygen to all the hospitals, directing it to provide the oxygen by “whatever means”.

“Beg, borrow or steal. It is a national emergency,” a division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

The bench also asked the Centre to protect the fundamental right of citizens who are seriously ill due to Covid-19 and require medical oxygen. If necessary, the court said, the Centre should divert the entire production of oxygen from industries, particularly steel and petroleum industries.

“The demand for oxygen run by Max as well as all other hospitals dealing with Covid-19 patients has gone up manifolds. The supply of oxygen from the established sources is not able to meet the said demand,” said the court.

At the end of the hearing, the Centre assured “unobstructed passage” of oxygen tankers to states.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by the management of Max Healthcare for supply of oxygen to its hospitals in Delhi. The petitioner told the court that most of the hospitals in the network are working in dangerously low levels of oxygen supply which can lead to adverse patient incident.

“You cannot say that we cannot provide this much. That cannot be an answer from the State. We cannot see people dying. Every 10 days, cases are getting doubled. The ground reality is that there is a shortage today. It is evident. It is there. We cannot shut our eyes,” the HC said.

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Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray calls the incident ‘shocking and painful’ and orders a high-level inquiry; India records 2,023 deaths and 295,041 new infections.

Preeti Sompura



At least 24 patients died at the government-run Dr Zakir Hussain Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, after their oxygen supply was disrupted by a leakage in the main storage tank.

Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope rushed to Nashik and said about the incident, “As per information available with us, patients who were on ventilators at the hospital in Nashik have died. The leakage was spotted at the oxygen tank which was supplying oxygen to these patients. The interrupted supply could be linked to the deaths of the patients in the hospital.”

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called the incident “shocking and painful” and ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident and also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

Zakir Hussain Hospital is a dedicated Covid hospital with over 150 patients either oxygen-dependent or on ventilators. A cork in the oxygen tank had malfunctioned which led to a reduction in pressure in the oxygen pipeline which goes straight to the Covid wards. It took an hour for technicians to plug the leakage.

Heart wrenching visuals showed families trying to help the patients as they gasped for breath.

Senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis conveyed condolences and said, “Priority should be given to assist and shift patients. The truth will come out after an inquiry, but immediate steps are needed to avoid such incidents in the future.”

News of this tragedy comes amid the current surge in the demand for oxygen supplies which has been triggered by the staggering spike in cases of Covid-19 in India. On Wednesday, 2,023 deaths due to the virus and 2,95,041 new infections were recorded nationwide, worsening the oxygen crisis in the country.

Only the United States had a slightly higher one-day rise of 297,430 cases in January this year, though its tally has since fallen sharply. India’s 2,023 deaths were also its highest in the pandemic.

Hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere have warned authorities about dwindling supplies of medical oxygen. Max Healthcare, the largest private sector healthcare provider in the national capital, stated that some of its hospitals had barely two hours’ worth of oxygen left.

“For the last few days the hospital has been facing serious difficulties in procuring adequate and regular supplies of oxygen,” it said in a statement. “Presently, most of the hospitals in the network are working on dangerously low levels of oxygen supply, which can lead to a very serious adverse patient incident,” the statement added.

In Uttar Pradesh, crowds of people with empty oxygen cylinders were seen at refilling facilities as they struggled to save severely Covid-stricken relatives in hospitals.

Some people in Haryana also attempted to loot an oxygen tanker, forcing authorities to increase security. “From now, I’ve ordered police protection for all tankers,” Haryana health minister Anil Vij told news agency ANI.

Adding to the sense of alarm, the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine as Covishield, informed that it can raise its monthly output to 100 million doses from 60-70 million only by July, not the end of May, as per its previous timeline. There are concerns that this delay could slow down India’s vaccination drive, especially now that the Centre has announced that vaccines would be offered to all adults, starting May 1.

India has so far administered 13,01,19,310 doses of the Covid vaccines, which despite being the most in the world after the United States and China, is still inadequate relative to its population of 1.35 billion people.

The total cases of Covid-19 in India stands at 1,56,16,130 currently, including 21,57,538 active cases. As many as 1,32,76,039 recoveries have also been reported so far, out of which 1,67,457 were reported in the last 24 hours. The death toll stands at 1,82,553.


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Sunita Shekhawat, Niharika Shekhawat talk about their admiration for Jaipur and their brand ‘Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur’



Sunita Shekhawat, founder of Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur and Niharika Shekhawat, creative director for Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as a part of NewsX India A-List. Talking about her brand Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur, Sunita said, “I think first of all lot of credit goes to the city itself, the city, Jaipur has been an inspiration for so many designers and so many best karigars since the Mughal era. Moreover, Jaipur is known as the emerald city of Asia. We have access to all the coloured stones, the best karigars and the city is so colourful. So, colours inspired me to get into designing, and then I got into manufacturing. I honestly owe a lot to Jaipur itself and hence, the name Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur.”

Niharika pitched in, “There are two ways I look into inspiration. Definitely one, is by working at the brand, and second constantly, how I push myself. For the brand definitely, my mom takes over everything and I think the regeneration is by her. Taking the Legacy forward, I have learned a lot from her and it organically became a part of my childhood. I am not a part of the whole designing product process so when something is getting created, I do observe that in stages and finally when the product or that piece is there on the table and we see it. I just really overwhelmed thinking what best I could do to create that experience with that piece and how do I take the brand forward. So, that inspiration is definitely a great piece of art because it has been created by a designer, and my mom heading it.That in itself is a superb inspiration, and definitely when people just come and be like we love what you do.”

When asked about the USP of their brand, Sunita said, “The most important thing is there are very few design houses who focus a lot on the integrity of the design. Everything is under one roof. From design, manufacturing to retail space, we don’t source anything from outside. You can literally call it a design house. So, we design from farm to market. A lot of time, it is architecture, travel gives you lots of creative ideas and as Niharika has put up, it’s art and craft. Whether it is textile, handicraft, or a piece of furniture, as a designer anything creative inspires me. Even a designer carpet inspires me. I was in Azar Baizan two years ago and those patterns are still there at the back of my mind and while I was doing some beautiful combination of Meenakari and suddenly those carpets propped in my mind and changed the pattern.”

Expressing her views on adapting to change, Sunita said, “The new digital age, I think last year we had a lot of bridal appointments on a zoom call since the brand already has a legacy, the trust value is there, people love what we made, so that was already there we gave them the liberty to decide over a zoom call so that was very convenient for all of us for the team also. That was a new way of working. I think today also Niharika had 2-3 bridal appointments & we are very happy and excited to serve them.”

All praises for her mom, Niharika Shekhawat, on a concluding note, said, “For me, my mom is a constant teacher, a mentor, a friend. I definitely learn everything that I do at work, and, personally speaking, it makes sweet mix working with your parents who are apparently your bosses too. I learned how to go gather like whatever things happen with work she is  a hardcore believer in Geeta so, we had learned one thing, i.e work hard.”

When asked from Sunita about her learnings from her daughter Niharika, Sunita responded, “Honestly, a lot of things and I think that new age that Crispness you know whether it’s in terms of communication, creating a piece of jewellery, travel, work, adapting to the new ways of working, lot of things because of Niharika. The new, the little tadka is all because of Niharika.”

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‘ActionAid provides a platform for change to the most vulnerable communities’: Sandeep Chachra



Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association recently joined NewsX for a conversation as part of NewsX India’s special A-List series. A social anthropologist by training and a development activist who has lived and worked with Indigenous people and Dalit communities in India all his life, Sandeep Chachra is currently the Executive Director of ActionAid Association. Prior to this, Mr Chachra was the International lead for ActionAid International, just and democratic governance and economic justice theme. He has worked in several capacities in ActionAid International and other development organisations for the last two decades.

Giving us a peak into his journey in the social sector so far, Sandeep said, “I did my research and studies in social anthropology and interned at social work, and perhaps it’s my time I spent in Jharkhand with the tribal communities there as a student in school and later researches living with the Mundari tribes, or perhaps is the fact that my father is a first-generation refugee from Multan. We grew up in an environment where there were difficulties, perhaps those factors which contributed to me to commit myself to social change and justice efforts.”

Talking about his long association with the ActionAid, he highlighted, “ActionAid provides a platform for change for the most vulnerable communities, their movements and their formations. Over decades, some of which I have been part of, it makes several advances. I will take a few examples, back in early 2000 We took up the cause of homeless people. We organised homeless people and we provided support to homeless people in several cities of the country. Homelessness was then not on the national agenda, so i am working there to bring it to the national agenda to an extent. We went to the court and to the-then governments. Now. we have a national policy scheme for shelters for the homeless. So, it keeps you inspired when you see change happen not just on the ground but also in the policy framework.”

“We did our bit, so did other civil society organisations and formations. You’re right in celebrating and acknowledging their contributions over the last one year, we did our bit as well. Actually, more than about eight months in the last year after the lockdown. We did a bit to reach out for support to inform our workers more popularly we call them migrant workers, the kind of situation that all of us are in. So, we need to reach rations to them, food supplies to them, set up a community and mobile kitchens.” 

On a concluding note, Mr Sandeep Chachra spoke about Action Aid’s plan to combat the second wave of Covid-19. He said, “We are in the middle of the second peak, so we will need to go back to some of the lessons in terms of what needs to be done, particularly for workers. We’re preparing ourselves to once again provide full support and action support. This time around, the question of medicines comes, the question of encouraging people to vaccinate where they’re qualified to vaccinate comes. We are part of a national level campaign, the People’s vaccine Alliance, which is campaigning for universal free vaccination for everybody, particularly in countries where vaccines are even down reaching so it’s not as national but globally also I think a lot needs to be done.”

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‘Indian youth are far more progressive than youth in first world countries’: Kunal Rawal, Designer



Kunal Rawal, the youngest designer to exhibit his collection at the Lakme Fashion Week, recently joined NewsX for a candid interview as part of NewsX India A-List. Kunal has worked for several prominent Bollywood personalities like Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan among others, who have come ahead to close the show for him.

Recapping his journey and how Kunal decided to become a designer, he said, “I knew pretty early on as my family works in textiles and my dad has an export firm. He used to go to this factory and used to take me and my sister as well to late night drives at the factory. We both used to climb up and shut eyes and play this game and guess the fabric. Pretty early on, I knew textiles and fashion is what I want to do and what my calling is and where my interest lies.”

Kunal started his label ‘Kunal Rawal Dstress’ in 2006. Having graduated from London School of Fashion, his style of design can be best described as one in which traditional Indian clothing meets contemporary designs with an edgy twist. The designer further continued, “The more I got into it the more I realised that there were so many things going wrong because a lot of men didn’t choose what they wear for the occasion. They didn’t dress according to how they felt and had a severe lack of optionality.”

Talking about the USP of his brand and label, Kunal said, “The idea was to put in elements details to pique men’s interest rather than having them just wear something that’s given to them. And the more you pique interest, the more the conversation starts, and that’s what I’ve been consciously trying to put in elements and a design aesthetic that is slightly more relatable, slightly more catering to the user. Today, I am all for traditional clothing, I love it, but I think it needs to be modernised and contemporise to suit the headspace of us today and the lifestyle that we all live globally.”

When asked what inspired him to create his first designer collection back then to now, Kunal said “Inspiration keeps changing, inspiration, keeps evolving but if I have to pick one or two inspirations. I would say people is what inspires me. I personally believe that the youth in India, the younger generation is far more progressive than the youth of even the strongest first world countries. That is very inspiring.”

Sharing some personal lessons learned and challenges faced during lockdown, Kunal said, “This last year and a half, has been quite a challenge for all of us and especially for as much for our industry compared to any other. Well, I am a creative person first, and then a business owner. So, both these have called on different different emotions through the year. To be honest, I think we’ve all learned as much as we’ve learned our whole life in the last year and a half. We’ve been through a gamut of emotions living life. We felt anger, pain, happiness, helplessness we have gone through, the entire cycle of emotion circumstances, and every month, every day actually has been very, very different.”

“When being a creative person, I have enjoyed bits and pieces of last year as it gave me a good amount of time to go back to how I used to create when I was much younger, finding and chasing a thought and doing R&D and all of that so that was exciting. Creatives have a way of constructively using any emotion. I managed to put out the two big collections last season, you know, we did the India Couture Collection and Lakme Fashion Week so I’m glad I got some creative energy out. But, as a business owner things kept changing and it’s been quite challenging. My biggest learning through last year, is the importance of a plan A, plan B, plan C,” he added.

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‘We only charge students once they get into the industry’: Siddharth Maheshwari, Co-founder, Newton School



Siddharth Maheshwari, Co-founder, Newton School recently joined NewsX for a special conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. Newton School aspires to provide affordable education that is in line with industry standards, so that its students can be quickly absorbed into the system and contribute to an organisation’s success from the start.

Speaking about the inception of Newton School, Siddharth Maheshwari said, “We started Newton school around October 2019. Me and our co-founder Nishan, are friends from our IIT Roorkee days. We have been passionate about education since then. Nishan, in fact, is so passionate about education, that he left his, very lucrative, consulting job after his MBA from IIM Calcutta to join Unacademy as an intern. Just because it was in the education space. We did a startup together before Newton School, where we got a chance to talk to hundreds of students across India. During this time, we realised that while the students are really motivated, they lacked the skills, which are actually required by the industry. On the one side, there are millions of students who want to get into the industry and get into high paying jobs and, on the other side, there are hundreds and thousands of jobs that are like lying vacant in the industry side. There is a very big gap. The industry is not able to hire these students because they do not have the skills. That’s why we decided to fill this gap up.”

When asked about how Newton School is bridging the gap between industry and students, he responded, “We talk to hundreds of people in the industry, from software developers, CTOs to founders. We have designed a curriculum that suits the industry completely and is designed in such a way that a student, who joins an industry, is able to contribute from Day 1. That is how we have able to design a curriculum that is completely geared towards the industry.”

Talking about the competition in the education space, Siddharth said, “I think that education is such a big market in India and it is completely underserved so there is a supply constraint. There are not enough companies in this space. On the other side, we have a very strong USP, in the sense that we basically do not charge our students anything upfront. We are so sure about our curriculum and our education that we only charge students once they get into the industry at a job of at least five lakh per annum and that makes us really stand out in the industry. No one else in the industry is following a model like that. This has allowed us to keep our marketing costs to zero and has also allowed us to get you the best and most motivated students to study and become the best developers.”

He further emphasised that the students of Newton School are working with more than 175 companies, including top MNCs. “Our students are contributing to pretty much every sector. In fact, our students recently also got into the top media organisations in the tech role. Our students, you can say, today are contributing in every sector of the economy.”

Underlining the courses offered at Newton School, Siddharth said, “We have primarily three courses. One is a course, which is designed for those who are in the final years of their undergraduate. It can be any kind of undergraduate, could be a BTech, it could be a bachelors in art. We offer a minimum guarantee of five lakhs per annum, that is, you pick up a course which is completely online. It will range from four months to eight months, so this particular course that I’m talking about is six months long, where we teach students to be full-stack developers.”

Before signing off, Siddharth highlighted the company’s vision and future plans and said, “Most of the top leaders, especially in the tech sector, are from colleges like IITs. Our vision is to make sure that people from tier two, tier three colleges also get into the industry and, in some years, become the industry leaders, become the founders and become the CTOs”

“So, as an entrepreneur, it’s really important to understand your users better and know your users inside out, to be able to think like them, empathise with them a lot. If you understand your users really well then you understand their problems. You understand how to solve it for them and understand every small detail about it. What I say is, for every company, it is very important to be obsessed with your users,” he added.

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