Expressing his condolences to the families of the victims of the Birbhum violence in West Bengal in which at least eight people were charred to death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged the people of the state not to forgive the perpetrators of such incidents and those who encourage such criminals. Addressing virtually an event on Shaheed Diwas at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial, the Prime Minister said, “I am pained by the violent incident in Birbhum, West Bengal. I express my condolences. I hope that the state government will punish those who commit such heinous sins in Bengal.” The PM also assured the state government that whatever help it wanted would be provided to take strict action against the culprits.
“I would also urge the people of Bengal to never forgive the perpetrators of such incidents and those who encourage such criminals. On behalf of the Central government, I assure the state that whatever help it wants will be provided so that the criminals are punished at the earliest,” he added.
At least eight people were burnt to death in the Rampurhat area of Birbhum district in the state on Tuesday after a mob allegedly set houses on fire following the killing of Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh. Director-General of Police (DGP) West Bengal, Manoj Malviya said that 11 arrests have been made in the case so far. He further said that Bhadu Shaikh’s murder was reported at night, an hour after which 7-8 houses nearby had caught fire. A special investigation team has been formed to probe the matter. The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday took cognizance of the Birbhum incident. The High Court on Wednesday directed Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) Delhi to immediately collect necessary materials for forensic examination at Bogtui village. The court asked the state government to file a report in the case before it by 2 pm on Thursday, when the matter will be taken up for hearing again.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava, taking up a suo motu petition and a set of PILs, ordered that CCTVs be installed at the crime scene in the presence of district judge, Purba Bardhaman, and recordings be done until further orders. The bench, also comprising Justice R. Bharadwaj, directed a team of CFSL in Delhi to visit the place of incident and collect samples for examination without any delay. It asked the DGP to ensure safety of witnesses, including that of a minor boy injured in the arson, in consultation with the district judge, Purba Bardhaman. The court observed that the suo motu petition has been registered for a fair investigation in the case.
The petitioners in the PILs have prayed for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or by any other agency which is not controlled by the state. The advocate general representing the government opposed the prayer, stating an SIT was probing the matter and there was no need to transfer the case to any other agency.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the Birbhum violence and said that it is high time to revisit the state’s confrontational unconstitutional stance so that democratic values and human rights get restored and people get a reprieve from repressive “fear” and suffering.
In a three-page reply letter to Banerjee, the Governor said that there was a “political conspiracy” behind the violence. He also said that the number of casualties may be higher. “As usual you have taken accusatory stance (in your 22 March communication) at my restrained just reaction to grisly carnage, worst in recent memory at Rampurhat, where reportedly the entire family of Sanju Sheikh—six women and two children were burnt alive in Bogtoi village. The casualty figure is stated to be higher as per reports. This shocking carnage is being justifiably compared by many to the incidents in the state a few years ago, while you were in the opposition,” said Dhankhar.
Dhankhar’s comments came in reply to Banerjee’s letter in which she urged Governor “to refrain from making unwarranted statements and allow the administration to conduct an impartial probe into the Birbhum violence”. The Governor alleged that Banerjee is adopting diversionary tactics and is labelling his reaction as a “sweeping and uncalled for statement.”
“In the face of such enormity, I cannot ‘fiddle’ in Raj Bhawan and be a mute spectator. That would be an unpardonable abdication of my constitutional duty,” he said. “Every time flagging of the issue at this end leads to unleashing your apparatus against the Governor,” he added. Dhankhar said that there can just be no credibility for the SIT headed by Gyanwant Singh as the probe will be a “cover-up operation” to provide an escape route to rogue elements. The Governor said that in a state suffering unchecked rampant political violence, arson, extortion and murders, a Chief Minister, claiming to be the protector of democracy, should have minimally acted against the known dreaded musclemen, who only survive on state patronage. He further asked Banerjee to hold the rule of law as the supreme command, rather than finding fault in the Governor, who is expectedly performing his solemn duty under the Constitution rightly at this most unfortunate moment that has seen people being burnt alive. “I would urge you to face the alarming grim situation and vindicate your oath of office and bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India and faithfully and conscientiously discharge duties as Chief Minister. High time for you to revisit your confrontational unconstitutional stance and pave the way of functioning in togetherness so that democratic values and human rights get restored and people get a reprieve from repressive fear and suffering,” he said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will go to Bogtui village on Thursday. Banerjee had earlier said that she would go there on Wednesday itself, but changed plans as on Wednesday members of other political parties were there. Directly attacking the BJP, the Chief Minister said: “The government never wants bloodshed. It never wants anyone to be killed. Those who are not in the government conspire to discredit the government. The Rampurhat incident is unfortunate. Those who caused the incident will not be spared.”
She taunted Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar as a “Lat Saheb”. She said, “There is one Lat Saheb sitting here and making statements every time that the situation in West Bengal is bad. He is abusing the government every day.”
On Wednesday, the Chief Minister also claimed, “Much more than this happens in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan. Action will be taken here without looking at the colour.” Banerjee added: “I sent a team to Hathras, Unnao, but we were not allowed to enter.”
Banerjee further said: “The government is ours, we are concerned about the people in our state. We would never want anyone to suffer. The Rampurhat incident is unfortunate. I have immediately dismissed the OC, SDPO. I will go to Rampurhat tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, a local eyewitness, Alauddin Sheikh, alleged that the doors of the houses set ablaze were slammed in front of the police. They were then locked and set on fire. According to Sheikh, bombs are hurled all around. In fear, people went inside their houses. In the meantime, the houses were locked and petrol was poured from outside. Asked who did all this, his direct answer was, “Sheikh Jahangir and Sheikh Lalon.” He further added, “It happened in front of the police.”
(WITH INPUTS FROM ARUP KALI IN KOLKATA)
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SATELLOGIC AND UP42 TEAM UP TO OFFER RAPID MONITORING CAPABILITIES
Satellogic Inc. (NASDAQ: SATL), a leader in sub-meter resolution Earth Observation (“EO”) data collection, announced today that it has agreed with UP42, a geospatial developer platform and marketplace enabling direct access to Satellogic’s satellite tasking high-resolution multispectral and wide-area hyperspectral imagery via the UP42 API-based platform. The agreement includes the archive of high-frequency, high-resolution Satellogic data.
The companies made the announcement today at the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where UP42 CEO Sean Wiid and Satellogic Business Development & Sales Director Eldridge de Melo are featured, speakers.
“This exciting new collaboration gives UP42 customers a distinct advantage in rapidly creating geospatial solutions,” said UP42’s CEO Sean Wild. “Users can now derive insights from Satellogic data using algorithms and data fusion via our developer-first platform.”
Direct API access to Satellogic’s multi- and hyperspectral data – with intraday updates – supports rapid, timely, and frequent monitoring of critical assets in diverse sectors, such as energy, utilities, local government, and security. The UP42 platform’s REST API and Python SDKs can be fully customized, allowing UP42 users to build cost-effective solutions and quickly deliver end products to their clients.
“Our mission of democratizing access to critical Earth Observation data means making our data available where it’s convenient for end-users,” said Thomas VanMatre, VP of Global Business Development at Satellogic. “UP42 is a leading geospatial marketplace with value-added capabilities, enabling its customers to access and analyze data without extensive expertise. It is collaborations like this alliance with UP42 that will increase adoption of EO data across new markets, driving better decision making and outcomes.”
The growing Satellogic constellation currently consists of 22 operational small satellites, capable of acquiring 4-band (RGB NIR) multispectral data at 70 cm (1m native) spatial resolution over a 5km swath and up to 29-band (460-830nm) hyperspectral imagery at 25m resolution over a 125km swath.
During pre-processing, Satellogic imagery is optimized for analysis by Machine Learning (“ML”) and Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applications – a significant benefit for UP42 users who will have access to more than 75 ML/AI algorithms on the UP42 platform.
UP42 users will be able to apply Satellogic data sets and extracted knowledge to support projects in a range of applications spanning the public and private sectors, including Agriculture and Forestry, Energy and Sustainability, Critical Infrastructure Management, Finance, and Insurance, Environment and Climate, and Government.
OTT is giving more opportunities to actors: Aamna Sharif
In an exclusive interview with NewsX, actress Aamna Sharif mentioned that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actor and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms. For an actress, digital or OTT is an interesting place to be, plus the medium is big and gives opportunity to every actor for different sorts of roles and performances.
Actress Aamna Sharif recently joined NewsX for a fun conversation as part of our special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the actress opened up about her role in the series Aadha Ishq, what drew her to the role, and much more.
Speaking about what attracted her to ‘Adha Ishq’, Aamna said, “The title itself is beautiful. I believe all of us have experienced adha ishq once in our life. It is a beautiful love story between Sahil and Roma, the journey of Roma (played by Aamna). The story shows the ten years of Roma’s journey of what happens in her life. The interesting part of this love story is that a couple in love gets separated and later their children fell in love. It’s a different concept which is most exciting.”
Talking about doing a romantic genre, she said she loves being a part of such projects as she is a romantic person and loves watching love stories. Adding further, she said, “I have been playing different roles and was waiting for something like this to come, something as intense as Aadha Ishq.”
When asked about her experience of working in an OTT platform and the scope of digital platforms, Aamna said, “I am loving it, I think it’s a blessing for all the actors because of the kind of scope it provides to all the actors for performances. The last show, which I did, was also a very challenging role and Roma has so many layers to its character. It’s a dream for any actor to do such challenging roles and OTT is giving that scope and space.”
Aamna further shared that it is very important to watch other actors’ performances. She explained that she loves watching the work of other actors as it is important to learn as an actor.
When asked about her previous role in Komolika, Aamna said, “I was scared to play Komollika as I have never played such a role ever before, even though in ‘Ek Villian’ my character had shades of grey but not as much as Komollika in KZK2.”
While talking about her last two years’ experience, Aamna said “The last two years have taught us to value small moments in life and be grateful towards life.”
Aamna further stated that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actress and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms.
Aamna Sharif stated that ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’ was a game-changing project for her as it changed her life.
ADANI ACQUIRES HOLCIM STAKE IN ACC-AMBUJA
The Adani Family, through an offshore special purpose vehicle, announced that it had entered into definitive agreements for the acquisition of Switzerland-based Holcim Ltd’s entire stake in two of India’s leading cement companies Ambuja Cements Ltd and ACC Ltd.
Holcim, through its subsidiaries, holds 63.19% in Ambuja Cements and 54.53% in ACC (of which 50.05% is held through Ambuja Cements). The value for the Holcim stake and open offer consideration for Ambuja Cements and ACC is USD 10.5 billion, which makes this the largest ever acquisition by Adani, and India’s largest-ever M&A transaction in the infrastructure and materials space.
“Our move into the cement business is yet another validation of our belief in our nation’s growth story,” said Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group. “Not only is India expected to remain one of the world’s largest demand-driven economies for several decades, but India also continues to be the world’s second-largest cement market and yet has less than half of the global average per capita cement consumption. In statistical comparison, China’s cement consumption is over 7x that of India’s. When these factors are combined with the several adjacencies of our existing businesses including the Adani Group’s ports and logistics business, energy business, and real estate business, we believe that we will be able to build a uniquely integrated and differentiated business model and set ourselves up for significant capacity expansion.”
Adani added, “Holcim’s global leadership in cement production and sustainability best practices brings to us some of the cutting-edge technologies that will allow us to accelerate the path to greener cement production. In addition, Ambuja Cements and ACC are two of the strongest brands recognized across India. When augmented with our renewable power generation footprint, we gain a big headstart in the decarburisation journey that is a must for cement production. This combination of all our capabilities makes me confident that we will be able to establish the cleanest and most sustainable cement manufacturing processes that will meet or exceed global benchmarks.”
“I am delighted that the Adani Group is acquiring our business in India to lead its next era of growth,” said Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim Limited. “Gautam Adani is a highly recognized business leader in India who shares our deep commitment to sustainability, people, and communities. I would like to thank our 10,000 Indian colleagues who have played an essential role in the development of our business over the years with their relentless dedication and expertise. I am confident that the Adani Group is the perfect home for them as well as our customers to continue to thrive.”
With India’s cement consumption at just 242 kg per capita, as compared to the global average of 525 kg per capita, there is significant potential for the growth of the cement sector in India. The tailwinds of rapid urbanization, the growing middle class, and affordable housing together with the post-pandemic recovery in construction and other infrastructure sectors are expected to continue driving the growth of the cement sector over the next several decades.
Ambuja Cements and ACC currently have a combined installed production capacity of 70 MTPA. The two companies are among the strongest brands in India with immense depth of manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure, represented by their 23 cement plants, 14 grinding stations, 80 ready-mix concrete plants, and over 50,000 channel partners across India.
Both Ambuja and ACC will benefit from synergies with the integrated Adani infrastructure platform, especially in the areas of raw material, renewable power, and logistics, where Adani Portfolio companies have vast experience and deep expertise. This will enable higher margins and return on capital employed for the two companies. The Companies will also benefit from Adani’s focus on ESG, Circular Economy, and Capital Management Philosophy. The businesses will continue to be deeply aligned to UN Sustainability Development Goals with a clear focus on SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and SDG 13 (Climate Action).
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and conditions.
CONCERNS GROW ABOUT THE ELDERLY POPULATION OF INDIA
India has been witnessing an upward trend when it comes to the living arrangement patterns of elderlies. Many today are staying alone or just with their spouses. The features of joint family systems are not just declining but vanishing speedily in correlation with economic development and modernization.
‘For there is assuredly nothing dearer to a man than wisdom and though age takes away all else, it undoubtedly brings us that.” Affirmed Cicero, the Roman philosopher, ages ago. It is time we question ourselves if at all we are valuing this wisdom. One of the indicators of India’s progress should compel us to think through much deeper than this. The increase in life expectancy at birth in India, which is 70 years (United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019) is indeed catching up with the global average of 73.4 years. This increase is resulting in a surge in the number of elderly people, with projections of 300 million elderly (more than 20% of the total population) by 2050. Catching up with the global average in statistics is not accompanied by adequate facilities, services, and support systems as a whole that can be considered age-friendly. This only means that India has to work much harder to catch up economically as well as socially.
One of the largest nationwide surveys called ‘Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI)’ published in 2021 has turned out to be an eye-opener on aspects related to the burden of disease, functional health, and the social and economic wellbeing of elderlies. LASI covered a panel sample of 31464 individuals aged and their spouses aged 60 years and above and 6,749 oldest-old persons aged 75 and above from 35 states and union territories of India (excluding Sikkim).
The demographics are mindboggling, 2020 was the year when the world witnessed the number of people older than 60 years of age surpass the number of children under 5 years of age. The resultant life extension, without reducing aging, has increased the extent of aging and age-related diseases. This dramatic increase in life expectancy has increased the risk of disease, disability, dementia, and advanced aging before death. An elderly in India rightly exclaims: “Years are being added to my life, life is not being added to my years: the extra years are being added at the very end of my life and are of poor quality.
Talking about systems and mechanisms that extend care, services, and support to the older people, a lot depends on the settings which vary from those residing in their own homes, and those that access support through old age homes, nursing homes, day-care centres, and many more such units depending on the nature of the problems they face. Essentially, care of the elderly also necessitates ways and means that need to be evolved to address varied issues of varied elderly. The elderly population is not a homogenous group, especially in a diverse society like India. The
Concerns of the young-old and oldest-old vary considerably in terms of financial security, functional competencies, loneliness, and social and work participation. Heterogeneity is visible when it comes to urban and rural geographies. Those residing in rural areas are comparatively less vulnerable when compared to their urban counterparts. As much as the reality reflects that no two elderlies are the same, even the government does not view them in the same frame as far as their needs and challenges are concerned. These obvious disparities naturally fail to register their problems as most elderly get classified based on caste and other socio-cultural dimensions. Likewise, pension and social security are also restricted to those who have worked in the organized sector, as against those who have been labourers for a lifetime in the unorganized sector.
India has also been witnessing an upward trend when it comes to the living arrangement patterns of elderlies. Many today are staying alone or just with their spouses.
The features of joint family systems are not just declining but vanishing speedily in correlation with economic development and modernization. Services that respond to the needs of the elderly are another side of the coin. Despite an aging population, geriatric care is unheard of in our country. Both the system and services focus little on this very age group, with no dedicated facilities for elderly people. Whatever little is available, exists in urban areas alone. One of the greatest challenges that show an increasing trend is elder abuse among those that are functionally impaired, and live all alone.
While the nurturing of an age-friendly ecosystem for the elderlies will take its own time, as the current focus is on adolescents and youth in the light of demographic dividend, a clear strategy to leverage their existence by sensitizing them regarding the challenges of elderlies should not be ignored. Over and above the commitment from governments, a comprehensive support system for the elderly is possible only with the involvement of the elderly themselves, their families, and the communities next door, as the challenges are not limited to economic needs, socio-cultural disparities, or health care requirements alone, the spectrum is much wider than what can be explained in words.
Enhancing the social participation of older adults is a critical factor in achieving the goals of successful aging. Such a participative perspective is indeed present in the current aging discourse the more active the elderlies are, the more they contribute to society. However, the social participation of the elderly has not yet been a focus of the aging discourse in India.
Coming back to the wisdom which Cicero talked about, our socio-cultural fabric should be willing and ready to print the images that emerge from the immense experience of the personal and professional lives of elderlies. It is time we leverage this for a better tomorrow.
The author has attained her PhD in Public Health Policy with a specific reference to policies of government of India vis-à-vis the population, reproductive health and family welfare aspects.
Rajnath Singh to launch ‘Surat’ and ‘Udaygiri’ warships today
On 17 May 2022, the nation will witness a landmark event in the history of indigenous warship building when two frontline warships of the Indian Navy— Surat, a Project 15B Destroyer and Udaygiri, a Project 17A Frigate— will be launched concurrently at Mazgaon Docks Limited, Mumbai. Shri Rajnath Singh, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri will be the Chief Guest for both the events.
The Project 15B class of ships are the next-generation stealth guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy being built at the Mazgaon Docks Ltd, Mumbai. ‘Surat’ is the fourth ship of Project 15B Destroyers which heralds a significant makeover of the P15A (Kolkata Class) Destroyers and is named after the commercial capital of the state of Gujarat and also the second-largest commercial hub of western India after Mumbai. Surat city has a rich maritime and ship-building history and vessels built in the city in the 16th and 18th centuries were known for their longevity—of more than 100 years. The ship Surat has been built using the Block construction methodology which involved hull construction at two different geographical locations and has been joined together at MDL, Mumbai. The first ship of this class was commissioned in 2021. The second and third ships have been launched and are at different stages of outfitting/ trials.
‘Udaygiri’, named after a mountain range in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is the third ship of Project 17A Frigates. These are follow-on of the P17 Frigates (Shivalik Class) with improved stealth features, advanced weapons and sensors, and platform management systems. ‘Udaygiri’ is the reincarnation of erstwhile ‘Udaygiri’, the Leander Class ASW Frigate, which saw numerous challenging operations in its illustrious service to the country spanning over three decades from 18 Feb 1976 to 24 Aug 2007. Under the P17A program, a total of seven ships, with 04 at MDL and 03 at GRSE are under construction. Various novel concepts and technologies like Integrated Construction, Mega Block Outsourcing, Project Data Management/ Project Lifecycle Management (PDM/PLM) etc have been adopted for the first time in indigenous Warship Design and Construction in this project. It may be recalled that the first two ships of P17A Project, were launched in 2019 and 2020 at MDL and GRSE respectively.
NEARLY 57,000 PEOPLE ACROSS 7 DISTRICTS AFFECTED AMID ASSAM FLOODS
Around 57,000 people across seven districts of Assam have been affected by the current spell of flood in the northeastern state, according to an official statement.
The data also shows that nearly 222 villages under 15 revenue circles are affected in this wave of flood and around 10321.44 hectares of cultivated land has submerged under flood waters. Three people including a child died during this natural calamity in Assam. Apart from human beings, the flood has also affected 1,434 animals and a total of 202 houses have been damaged so far.
The Army, para-military forces, SDRF, Fire and Emergency Services carried out rescue and relief operations in flood-hit areas of the state. Several roads, bridges, and irrigation canals were damaged in Hojai, Lakhimpur and Nagaon districts.
Incessant rains triggered landslides in 12 villages parts of the Dima Hasao district on Saturday.
Massive landslides and waterlogging resulted in huge damages to the railway track, bridges, and road communications in this hilly terrain.
In view of incessant rain, landslides and waterlogging at several locations in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section of the Lumding division, Northeast Frontier Railway made changes in train services over the section due to this serious condition.
However, two trains got stranded, each with about 1400 passengers, NF Railway said in an official statement.
Railway initiated massive evacuation operations with the help of the Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Assam Rifles, and local people.
Around 1,245 railway passengers stranded at Ditokcherra station have been brought up to Badarpur and Silchar and 119 passengers have been airlifted by the Indian Air Force to Silchar, the Railway said in a statement.
The Railway while putting efforts into rescuing the stranded passengers is taking care of sanitation and ensuring medical facilities for every passenger. Food and drinking water have also been supplied to them.
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