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Man linked to explosive-laden SUV near Ambani home found dead

Preeti Sompura

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Ambani

MUMBAI: The case of an abandoned car laden with explosives near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house has taken a twist after the owner of the vehicle was found dead under mysterious circumstances on Friday.

On 26 February, about 20 gelatin sticks—which is used in explosives—along with a handwritten threat letter had been recovered from a suspicious Scorpio SUV parked 1.4 km from the Ambani residence on Mumbai›s Altamount Road, sending security agencies into a tizzy.

The registration number on the vehicle›s number plate was the same as that of an SUV in Ambani›s security detail, the police had said. The police had later identified the owner of the SUV as Hiren Mansukh, a spare car parts businessman, who had told the investigating teams that his vehicle had been stolen. 

On Friday, Hiren›s body was found near a creek in the Reti Bandar area of Thane. According to reports, he had been missing since Thursday night and was going to meet some ‹sahab›. A case of accidental death has been filed.

The BJP, which sits in the opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, demanded that the probe be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis described the whole chain of events as ‘fishy’ and accused the Uddhav Thackeray-led government of taking the case lightly and ignoring Mukesh Ambani’s security.

“The CM and the home minister must make a statement in the Assembly regarding the incident. A car filled with explosives was found outside Ambani’s house, this shows how serious the government is regarding the safety and security of people,” Fadnavis said in the Assembly.

Fadnavis also mentioned Hiren in his speech, saying, “The person who had lodged a missing complaint for the car made some phone calls to a number that is registered in the name of a person called Sachin Hindurao Vaze.”

“Sachin Vaze was the first police officer to reach the spot and then he was appointed as the Investigation Officer (IO). Three days ago, he was removed as the IO and I fail to understand why he was removed,” he added.

Maharashtra Police officer Sachin Vaze, also known as the ‘encounter specialist’, was last seen inside his cabin on Friday and has not been taking any visitors.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader and minister Aditya Thackeray told reporters, “We just learnt about this. It is a very big incident and the police are investigating.” When asked whether the state government would hand over the investigation to the NIA, he said, “We can, according to the rules. It will be more appropriate for the state home minister to speak on this.”

Significantly, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that Hiren was not the owner of the car and had been commissioned to work on it.

According to police sources, CCTV footage showed the car moving through the city, followed by an Innova which is also being investigated, and being parked by a man in a mask and a hoodie.

Sources have also shared that the gelatin found in the car is of the commercial kind, which is usually used in construction, digging or mining.

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After Punjab, Rahul takes Rajasthan turn; big cabinet reshuffle buzz gains ground

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After Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appointment in Punjab, it is being claimed that Rahul Gandhi is now busy in fixing the Congress. And Rajasthan seems to be next in line, with a big reshuffle buzz in the state cabinet.

Rahul Gandhi’s move has been criticised by many Congress watchers, saying it will impact the party in the coming elections. There had been talks about Sidhu being made the Punjab Congress president for over a year, but the decision was taken seven months before the Assembly polls. The move has further divided the party in Punjab.

Similarly, in Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat had been demanding a change for more than a year, but the change made seven months before the election has increased the conflict in the state. Congress lacks leaders in Uttarakhand. Conflict among the remaining leaders can do harm. As far as Rajasthan is concerned, there is no election yet.

But Rahul Gandhi has sent K.C. Venugopal and Ajay Maken there and then the situation has heated up. The BJP has made serious efforts to bring down the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan. Toppling the Gehlot government would have meant a direct challenge to the Gandhi family, as before that, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh had been toppled.

After the rebellion in Rajasthan, the Congress high command had made major changes. Govind Singh Dotasara was given the command of the state in place of Sachin Pilot. All the units were disbanded. After this, the Congress high command made a new state executive and new appointments in the organisation. But with the district and the block, the policy of going slow was made for many posts and political appointments in the organisation. When Sidhu’s case in Punjab heated up, the Sachin Pilot group increased its activism.

By sending Venugopal and Maken to Jaipur, Rahul Gandhi has further given impetus to power shift buzz in the state. After calling the legislators to get consent, they said that the decision has been left to the high command. No one ever challenges the high command in Congress.

Gehlot is still the most trusted leader of the Gandhi family. It is a different matter that the Sachin Pilot camp is successful in conveying the message to the media.

If sources are to be believed, there may be a big reshuffle in the Rajasthan cabinet. Around 8 to 10 ministers can be removed. Big faces will be given a place in the organization. Some can be brought into the party politics at the central level. The number of supporters of Sachin Pilot has also been reduced to 7-8. One or two of them can be given a place in the government. If the decisions of the high command end factionalism in Rajasthan, for Rahul Gandhi, this will be an achievement. However, the chances of ending factionalism are less visible.

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PEGASUS UPROAR CONTINUES AS LOK SABHA PASSES TWO BILLS

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Amid uproar over farm laws and the alleged Pegasus snooping case, the Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Factoring Amendment Bill and National Institute of Food Technology Bill without debate.

The Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to help micro, small and medium enterprises by providing added avenues for getting credit facility, especially through Trade Receivables Discounting System. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the bill for passage.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill state that an increase in the availability of working capital may lead to growth in the business of the micro, small and medium enterprises sector and also boost employment in the country.

The bill seeks to amend the definitions of “assignment”, “factoring business” and “receivables”, so as to bring them in consonance with international definitions and also to insert a new definition of “Trade Receivables Discounting System”.

It seeks to widen the scope of financiers and to permit other non-banking finance companies also to undertake factoring business and participate on the Trade Receivables Discounting System platform for discounting the invoices of micro, small and medium enterprises.

The National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021 was piloted by the new Food Processing Industries Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras for consideration and passage. The bill seeks to declare certain institutions of food technology, entrepreneurship and management as institutions of national importance and to provide for instructions and research in these fields.

Meanwhile, the Pegusus issue continued to disrupt both houses of Parliament. In Rajya Sabha, MPs belonging to Congress, TMC, and other Opposition parties rushed into the well of the House, raising slogans against the government. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said members are being prevented from raising issues of public importance.

Congress leader and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing committee on IT, Shashi Tharoor, demanded a Supreme Court judge-monitored probe into the Pegasus allegations and indicated that Opposition parties would continue to disrupt Parliament’s proceedings until the government agrees to a debate on it. Speaking to reporters in the Parliament complex after the Lok Sabha was adjourned, Tharoor said, “We want the government to agree to a debate on the issue, but it is not ready. What we are saying is that if you (government) do not agree to this and answer our questions, then why we should allow you to transact your business.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday drove a tractor to reach the Parliament to register his protest against the three farm laws. The Congress leader said that he has brought farmers’ message to the Parliament. “I’ve brought farmers’ message to Parliament. They (Government) are suppressing voices of farmers and not letting a discussion take place in Parliament. They’ll have to repeal these black laws. The entire country knows these laws favour 2-3 big businessmen,” he said.

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KAILASH KHER OPENS UP ABOUT HIS NEW SONG ‘SHRI JAGANNATH ASHTAKAM’

In conversation with NewsX, singer and music composer Kailash Kher spoke about his latest song dedicated to Jagannath Rath Yatra, his devotion towards Lord Shiva and more.

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Kailash Kher recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as a part of NewsX India A-List, wherein he got recognised for excellence as an Indian Entertainment Icon.

Talking about his newly-released song dedicated to Jagannath Rath Yatra, he said, “We, at Kailasa Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, create such a rendition on every Indian festival. In the 15 years of my career, God has made me realise that we should share valuable things from our rich heritage. This is my responsibility. Our heritage remains, even if we don’t. Sambit Patra is my friend and we keep interacting frequently. I told him that we would also make him sing one day. The occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra was coming. On 4 July, we were talking and that’s when I pitched this idea to him and he graciously accepted it. He came on 7 July, my birthday and we recorded this song the entire day. In just four days, we were ready with this miracle called ‘Shri Jagannath Ashtakam’. Today, this song is out there for the entire world to listen and people are praising it a lot.”

Kher added, “We have urged the devotees of Lord Jagannath to offer their prayers from wherever they are as this time our country is going through a tough phase. We should rather pray for the earth and this challenging phase to pass.”

Expressing his devotion for Lord Shiva and Kanwar Yatra, he said, “Kanwar Shravan Kumar is a symbol of devotion as Shravan Kumar took his parents to the Chaar Dhaam Yatra and offered the holy Ganga Jal in a Lord Shiv temple. In lieu of this tradition, many people now take items of devotion, along with Ganga Jal, which they offer in temples. This happens on a massive scale as India is a huge country but, if Kanwar Yatra is not happening this year, then it is good news (given the Covid-19 situation). We strongly believe in Lord Shiv and have strong devotion towards him. We live by his name. I have a hit song in my Kailasa album, that has become a sort of an anthem for Kanwar and Shravan Kumars. They complete their entire trip while listening to that song.”

Talking about the audience’s response to his show ‘Indian Pro Music League’, Kher said, “This was a very unique show, that’s why people loved and praised it a lot. The reactions that came in were very good, saying that ‘Wow, it’s a beautiful concept’. A show like this, featuring emerging artists with established artists as not just contestants but sitting on the judge’s seat for a day, was amazing and different.”

Sharing his thoughts on how manages to remain positive level even amid such trying times, Kher said, “I strongly believe in the power of God. The law of nature is not within our hands. If you completely surrender and devote yourself then, whatever happens, will happen for good. Everything happens for good, so why not stay cautious a little and not try to take things, that are not in our control. If you can do something, then do truthful work and good work. Help someone genuinely as your instinct is your God.”

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Breastfeeding: Dealing with advice of ‘well-wishing’ aunts and uncles

Dr Emine A Rehman

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Aunty 1: The baby looks so thin, baby needs cow’s milk, my dear. 

Me: Cow’s milk is for cow’s baby, my baby needs my milk.

Aunty 2: Oh God! such small breasts you have, how will your milk be enough? 

Me:  My body has the capacity to create however much milk is needed for my baby and you know it is the best food for the baby.

Aunty 3:  Don’t feed your baby for so long, you are pampering him, he will never leave you. 

Me: How can you pamper your baby by nourishing him?

Aunty 4: Look at you with the baby all the time. In our times we used to do all the household work and brought up so many kids as well. 

Me: Bringing up a baby with love, care, and breast milk is our choice as parents and we need all your help and support to successfully do it

Let’s ponder, how many of us have been the aunty or me in the above conversations in our lives? Almost all, right? Being a first-time mother at the age of 33 was not easy for me, to have a baby late was not a choice as well. Being a paediatrician was a privilege and my personal life took a backseat in the pursuit of higher studies. I thought I knew the solutions to all the challenges of breastfeeding but the reality was far from different. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to bring up a baby”, in modern times “it takes an entire family to breastfeed a baby”. Urbanisation, nuclear families, and career goals have made the art of breastfeeding less familiar to many millennial to-be mothers. 

We want the best for our baby and know that breastfeeding is the best path. However, many of us land up being a bundle of nerves when our babies arrive, not sure where to start and how to go about it. Agreed that breastfeeding is natural both for the mother and the baby but we forget to warn the to-be mothers that it is a helluva painful, stressful, and exhilarating ride. 

To top it all, mothers also have to deal with the benevolent, free-advice churning aunties and uncles amid this roller-coaster. Many a times, the well-wisher could be our own father, mother or even husband. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, I could defend and retort to many of them. However, the dream is to equip every Indian mother with enough knowledge to be the ‘me’ in the above situations.

Adequate breastfeeding is a single practice that can prevent lakhs of children from dying worldwide. World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommends that breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour of birth, the baby is given nothing but mother’s milk till 6 months and breastfeeding to be continued till 2 years of age and beyond. The global rates for breastfeeding are 43%, 41%, and 45% at the first hour, 6 months, and 2 years, respectively. So, it is not as universal as it has to be. A survey by POSHAN revealed that the exclusive breastfeeding rate is 54.9% in India. Mothers face many challenges like the feeling of inadequate milk, household chores, expectations from the workplace, and pressure to supplement with formula etc. She needs the support of her near and dear ones as well as the community to overcome these hurdles. Currently, mothers can get guidance from ASHA/ Anganwadi workers and gain knowledge through materials circulated by the Government of India via radio and TV. She can also access various peer groups in social media as well as consult trained lactation counsellors. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in the first week of August and this year the theme is “Protect breastfeeding — a shared responsibility”.

Breastfeeding can no longer be left as “ladies’ matter”. Confident and knowledgeable mothers are the foundation of future generations. Hence, let’s come together to support our mothers and become the true “well-wishing” aunties and uncles for our younger ones.

The writer is an Assistant professor, paediatrics department, AIIMS, Hyderabad.

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COMING OUT OF THE SHADOWS: HOW TO PROTECT MENTAL HEALTH OF TEENAGERS

We should expand social-emotional learning programmes to help build resilience in the growing minds.Capacity building for mental health management is an immediate must to meet a looming calamity.

Suravi Sharma Kumar

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Emerging from waves of Covid-19 pandemic, more than ever, we must prioritise the mental health of the growing minds — the children and adolescents. It is our collective responsibility to keep the well-being of young ones at the forefront in the preparation for future Covid-19 waves and recovery plans. Generation Z is quietly perceiving the layers of changes in our lives since the virus encroached on our spaces in early 2020. Now, while the much-awaited return to school is exciting for many, there would be children feeling anxious or even frightened (UNICEF, Aug 2020) to go back to regular school.

This is a time of the year when adolescents would have been spending days at school and college in the company of hundreds of others, preparing for school rituals, sports events, carving out their future plans, but, throughout the last year and a half, they are instead trudging through a difficult new normal. The virus brought in many stressors to the psychological environment, the impact of which is yet to be played out in statistical data charts and graphs to analyse the repercussions on society and the upcoming generation. The pandemic control measures have contributed to new mental health issues or a worsening of existing ones in all but the impact ripples are far and wide or even beyond what we can think now in the teens and adolescent age group.

Some children or youth may be grieving the loss of a parent or a loved one, others may be living in fear of the disease or fear of losing a bread earner in the family or a job. Millions in our country have been dropped out of school despite their and parents’ best efforts to educate them due to their inability to get a device or internet connectivity.

Adolescents across all socio-economic groups have been struggling to adjust to a life without the structure that a traditional school day provides. Social isolation, lack of peer support and the need for personal/ real-world connection seems to be growing. The lost sense of school life’s demands and timely examinations to keep the learning minds occupied have been creating tension in the psychological environment of every child. Out of all, children of essential workers and homeless children are at increased risk for having to live within the confines of homes on their own without adult supervision and the other without the basic amenities of life now made worse under the pandemic.

Across socio-economic conditions, there are children trapped in dysfunctional families with physical, verbal and even sexual abuse, and there’re those living with stressed adults who have been resorting to substance abuse within the confines of homes. To add to the list, flaring up of cyber dependency has been alarmingly on the rise as screen time for children are now the highest in our recent history.

With increasing stress comes an increased risk for mental health symptoms or reemergence of dormant disease, at a time when there are fewer options for getting the support that can help lower stress levels. These are various factors identified as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and we know from research studies that when young people have these early experiences, they face an increased risk of lifelong morbidity or mortality.

When schools begin to reopen, we will need to implement more formal structures for mental health screening in the institutes and community settings. We must take precautionary measures against stigma and superstitions affecting caregiving, and there should be social laws in place to minimise the stigma around mental health conditions.

We all know law affects the operation of stigma in society and is the most efficient tool for blunting the effects of prejudice and stigma by protecting the diseased person against harmful conduct from miscreants/ ignorant lot in the society. The authorities must propagate strong messages in the society to create an inclusive environment for the people needing psychiatric help. India’s mental healthcare system needs strengthening. The authorities should now proactively implement the Mental Healthcare Act 2017. And this is a time when there is a dire need for integrated mental healthcare policy in the country covering all aspects of a sick mind.

We also need to enhance mental health awareness and stigma-busting programs in the local dialect or language through government and private sector initiatives. We should expand social-emotional learning programs to help build resilience in the growing minds. Capacity building for mental health management is an immediate must to meet a looming calamity, and suicide prevention programs should be revamped. There is a serious shortage of mental healthcare workers in India, the numbers of which according to WHO are: psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07) for a population of 100,000.

Tele-psychiatry may be an immediate possible solution with such deficient conditions and it has proven to be a promising tool with children and adolescents, more so in emergencies.

Authorities must support schools and behavioural health care agencies in working together to ensure that when schools reopen, students will have the mental health services they need on campuses and in their communities to provide screenings, interventions, and referrals.

Our young people are the future of our country. We must remember that the period from age 10 to 25 remains a critical time of brain development and maturation. Both the experiences our young people face now and the support they receive from us in coping with and navigating these challenges will have profound impacts on their abilities to be successful adults, parents, and citizens for years to come.

The writer is a medical doctor (pathologist) and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of London. The views expressed are personal.

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AUTHORITIES FAIL TO STOP RAMPANT SMUGGLING OF HERITAGE ITEMS IN CHANDIGARH

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It has been 10 years so far, yet the Chandigarh Administration hasn’t been able to nab the smugglers of Chandigarh heritage Furniture items, the illicit process is rampant and is not stopping. These items of antique value have been selling in France and other parts of several countries at heavy prices. And surprisingly, all possible departments of the Central government got apprised with the matter before the bids took place yet the latter failed to stop the smuggling and bidding. On 22 July, the Archaeological Survey of India (Antiquity) department wrote Commissioner of Customs to stop the smuggling of Chandigarh Heritage Furniture items.

12 auctions that have been held in Luxemburg of Europe, USA, Milan of Italy, Paris by different groups. Heritage items namely, PIERRE JEANNERET (1896-1967) Take Down chairs, PIERRE JEANNERET (1896-1967) Easy chairs, Rare “Office Cane Chair” of an officer by Pierre JEANNERET (1896-1967) In teak, etc. have been sold for Euro 20,000 to USD 6250.

Archaeological Survey of India (Antiquity) wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Customs while mentioning 22 February released orders of MHA, stated, “It is to note that; in this regard, MHA had issued “Order” on 22 February 201I for prevention of Architectural Heritage of Chandigarh. It is further learned from the letter of principal Secretary, Home Chandigarh that the Chandigarh Police had filed an FIR in alleged smuggling of the heritage furniture and acquired certain items from Delhi Custom Office. It is further to mention that till these architectural items are declared as ‘Art Treasures’; ASI cannot take any action as these heritage items don’t come under the category of ‘Antiquity’ & ‘Art Treasure’. It is, therefore, requested to please prevent the export of heritage furniture of Chandigarh; given the “Order” issued by MHA. This information may kindly be circulated to all custom exit channels (Air/Sea).”

Ajay Jagga, Member, Heritage Protection cell of Chandigarh says, “I am extremely thankful to the ASI, for the order, dated 22-July, 2021, which has been passed on my representation dated 31-05-2021, in the interest of national heritage (UT heritage) and to prevent the illicit trafficking of Chandigarh heritage items so that none can take the heritage items of Chandigarh beyond the boundaries of India. The order issued, a copy of which has been sent to me, in this regard will be of great help, as presumably, no heritage item of Chandigarh can go outside the country. With this order, atleast, the illicit export of these items will come to an end, as all the ports whether AirPort or Sea Port customs departments have been instructed to restrict the exports, in terms of the earlier MHA order of 22 February 2011.”

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