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During the past seven years, the Modi government in this particular sector succumbed to parochialism of another kind. The Left-leaning insularity came to be replaced by Right-wing blinkeredness.

Sidharth Mishra



The appointment of the formidable Dharmendra Pradhan as the new Education Minister is a clear indication that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants an end to the backseat driving in the functioning of this major ministry. There has been an increasing feeling, with comparatively weak ministers in the saddle, about too much ‘outside interference’ in functioning of the educational institution under the aegis of the Central government.

The Modi government in 2014 had inherited a rich legacy of education institutions, thanks to the vision of late Human Resource Development (HRD) Arjun Singh and his successor Kapil Sibal, a bouquet of central universities was created across the country which added handsomely to the list of already existing institutions built before and after Independence. Despite the infrastructure, it also remains a fact that education in our country largely remained hostage to the whims and fancies of the Left-leaning ideologues. Over the years there was an increasing desire to break education free from Left-leaning ideological parochialism.

Unfortunately, during the past seven years, the Modi government in this particular sector succumbed to parochialism of another kind. The Left-leaning insularity came to be replaced by Right-wing blinkeredness. The change has been for the worse, as during the Congress and coalition governments, an attempt was always made to create a countervail to the Left’s dominance; however, in the past seven years the so-called czars of cultural nationalism have had a free run.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the agenda of cultural nationalism has been limited to the appointment of the devotees of these czars, blessed with academic mediocrity, to plum positions. Expectedly, many of these appointees miserably failed to rise to the challenges of the office and ended up in situations which brought disrepute to the government. Charges of misuse of office and financial impropriety were levelled against several of these incumbents and some of them also dismissed from office.

This is the opportune moment for the Modi government to expand its ideological base beyond the limited cadres to those, as the late Arun Jaitley would say, waiting to be converted. This ideological blinkeredness so far has left the ministry in pitiable situation with Pradhan’s predecessor, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, being forced to cancel twice the conference of the Vice-Chancellors as 20 out of 40 central universities have been headless for past several months. These include prestigious universities like JNU, BHU, Delhi University and Hyderabad University.

Some of the other Central universities without its top functionary for more than a year are Central Universities of Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu, Manipur, Hari Singh Gour University Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Hyderabad, South Bihar University, the North East Hill University, Rajasthan, Kashmir, the Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad and the Guru Ghasidas Central University in Bilaspur. How does a government which announces the New Education Policy (NEP) with so much fanfare seeks to implement it if the educational institutions remain in a dysfunctional state?

In an interaction with the heads of the IITs and IISc, earlier this week, Prime Minister Modi said that the country’s higher educational and technical institutions need to prepare the youth for continuous disruptions and changes, keeping in mind the fourth industrial revolution. This is easier said than done. Prime Minister Modi is setting very high benchmarks for such centres of higher education and it’s for his government to ensure that these institutions have sufficient talent to execute his plans.

Supplementing to what the Prime Minister said, Pradhan at the same deliberation enunciated his plans saying that the government is committed to making students and the youth the primary stakeholders in propelling India towards an equitable knowledge society and that would foster an environment for creating a future-ready India. The minister saying that the government was committed to inculcating a culture of innovation, encouraging research, entrepreneurship and developing futuristic solutions in higher education, all sounds very good but the challenge lies in the implementation of this vision.

Implementation needs an efficient human resource structure, which unfortunately is non-existent as of now. The delay in affecting appointments of the Vice-Chancellors have had a cascading effect, with the recruitment of other teaching and non-teaching manpower of the universities and most of the colleges and institutions affiliated to them getting stalled. This has ended in giving the impression that education was not the Modi government’s priority, which Pradhan would now need work to alter.

The pandemic and its aftermath have thrown new challenges before the Education Ministry. The migration of the teaching-learning community to the digital platforms has to be real. The digital divide and digital deficit are real time challenges facing the education sector as it has given a huge advantage to the students residing in the urban sector. The seekers of education from rural India, living in lodges and hostels, have been forced to return to their pastoral hearths, which are mostly out of digital networks.

Pradhan’s immediate predecessor gave an impression of micro-managing even things which ordinarily should have been left to the officials. Once again recalling from a lecture by Jaitley, where he had said that camera likes sad pictures and working for the sake of camera could be counter-productive. Education is one area where diverse talent is available in plenty and one can use them provided one looks beyond the cadres and allows talents to function and flourish.

The vision of the Modi government and its implementation would need participation of not just educated but a knowledgeable population. Having come up through students’ politics, Pradhan is best placed to identify with the needs of the post-pandemic world. Challenges posed by Covid-19 to our economy and society can only be overcome by having such an education system, to use the Pradhan’s words, which is committed to inculcating a culture of innovation, encouraging research, entrepreneurship and developing futuristic solutions.

With these challenges and the promise to implement the New Education Policy, Pradhan has a clear roadmap to follow for his ministry. There still is ample time and the minister has a proven track record to carry the officialdom and other stakeholders together. Maybe he can change the perception of the Modi government not being serious about education.

The writer is a political commentator and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice. The views expressed are personal.

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In an exclusive conversation with NewsX, Konkana Sen Sharma opens up about her latest project ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’.



Konkana Sen Sharma opened up about her latest project ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’. Talking about her role in the series and what attracted her to the project, the actress said, “I am playing Chitra Das. She is the Social Services Director of this Government Hospital in Mumbai. She is not a doctor but she’s from a medical background. The show is in an unusual setting. I would say it’s a medical drama rather than a medical thriller because this set is this government hospital, Bombay general hospital with the backdrop of 26/11, which has been fictionalised. For the first time, we’re seeing it from the point of view of the doctors, so it’s really the personal lives of the doctors, the challenges of working in a government hospital set against the unprecedented events of 26/11, where nobody is really prepared or nobody is ever trained to deal with this kind of circumstance. For me, when I read the script, I found it very unusual. I have never played a doctor. I have not really seen even a medical drama like this and today, after Covid, we all have a newfound appreciation for our frontline workers and the difficulties that they go through, so for us, it’s a homage to the frontline workers.”

When asked how important is to tell this story through their point of view and the message that the series sends out, Konkana expressed, “Yes, I do think it’s very important. Although it may be entertaining or binge-worthy, it is a thriller. It’s an unusual kind of setting and it is very important to remember this. Particularly, in a post-Covid or at least, now that we have all been through the pandemic we have even seen how doctors have suffered. There have been attacks on doctors. They often have to deal with a lot of very difficult circumstances, whether they are shortages of PPE kits or working in the government hospitals, where the situation is not always ideal and we have a storage of beds or equipment supplies, etc. We sometimes forget that the doctors are not gods and for them to perform, they need the infrastructure. They need the support also. They are dealing with their own issues and have to deal with these kinds of things, so this is very relevant, particularly today.”

Speaking of 26/11 and where she was during those days, Konkana shared, “I was actually not in Mumbai. We had driven outside of Mumbai. The news was trickling in. It was very shocking. What happened is, initially we also didn’t have a handle on exactly what was going on because there were events in multiple locations. It went on over three days, we also didn’t know, what and how it’s going to unfold. It was not a contained one-off incident. It was a very insecure and frightening time. It was very confusing. Is it safe for us in our group or we should drive back to Mumbai? What we should do?! That took us some time, then when we came back, it was a time of shock. We were all in shock and disbelief and everybody, whether somebody on the street or a neighbour, it was very shocking. There was a sense of this very uneasy kind of stillness that was over the whole city. There was a very heavy silence that something like this could have happened in Mumbai. We never know when something would happen again, that was the fear.”

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It is a universal symbol seen in all ancient civilisations andcultures and still remains as a living tradition across many nations in various forms, and especially in India among Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Owing to its widespread presence across the ancient civilisations, and later modifications to suit the new religious orders, Swastika has a variety of meanings associated with it.



Existence (asti) cannot be produced by non-existence (nasti). “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” – Carl Sagan

The antiquity of swastika goes long back into history where it started its journey from the prehistoric era. It is a universal symbol seen in all ancient civilisation-cultures across the world and still remains as a living tradition across many nations in various forms, and especially in India among the Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists as part of their religious rituals. Owing to its widespread presence across the ancient civilisations, and later modifications to suit the new religious orders, swastika has a variety of meanings associated with it. The Vedas by itself have associated various meanings to the swastika where we find that in the Rig Veda 10.35 swastika is associated with Agni, and with the Sun’s movement upholding the law of Dharma or righteousness. In ancient Indian architectural sciences known as Vastusashtra, two swastikas facing each other create a square, which forms the square mandala of the Vastu Purusha. Similarly, swastika is also associated with a crossed vajra (sign of thunderbolt—in RV 3.30.16 and 3.58) seen in the hands of deities; the symbol is also related to the four cardinal directions; is linked with the lunar power, female principle and new life; associated with astronomy; the Christian cross; Vishnu pada; etc. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that swastika is most likely man created first graphic symbol representing an idea, which holds a clear intention and meaning, transcends all barriers of languages, and the knowledge of which was passed across generations following ancient oral traditions while maintaining continuity within changes across the world. Thus, swastika is a symbolical manifestation of existence, which is entwined with cosmic natural forces and is based on the theory of dynamism.

The Seven Sages or the Saptarishi (Ursa Majoris or the Great Bear) as the Swastika (Image via Jay Shankar from Google, strictly for representational purposes only)

Swastika- denoting movement. From Wikipedia

Triskelion of the Chaldeons- another form of Swastika denoting the cosmic movements. (From Wikipedia)

Two swastikas (left oriented and right oriented) merge to form the square mandala of the vastupurusha. The left-hand swastika (Sauvastika) symblises the Devi as Goddess Kali, and is associated with tantra puja.

A crossed double vajra or visvavajra (Wikipedia)

A schematic diagram of a Persian garden, with quadripartite structure and a focal water feature, connecting aqueducts, and surrounding trees, as well as the placement of the palace. (From Wikipedia)

In an attempt to explore this continuing legacy, the article will take a close look at swastika and briefly present its history, while also exploring some of its meanings.


Swastika is “a cross in which the arms are bent at a right angle in the same relative direction”

~ Penguin dictionary of archaeology

The Sanskrit word swastika has its root in As, forming the word Asti, which means existing, being, or the essence of existence. The other word Su means good, well being, or benign; and the two together gives us Swasti, which means a valued existence, or the essential self-sustaining dharma or righteousness.

This enigmatic symbol, as Edward Thomas tells us in his ‘The Indian Swastika and Its Western Counterparts’ (1880) paper after examining its varying manifestations across the globe, all point to the primitive notions of a symbolic representation of the sun’s movements, associated with wheel like projections of the sunrays and its rolling movements. The ancient Chaldeans, who were initially located in the southeastern corner of Mesopotamia (9th to mid-6th centuries BCE—the proto Celtic phase in Europe), in their studies of what is now termed as the astronomical sciences, started drawing the sun as a circular outline, which soon had a four wheel or a cross inserted within it. This crossbar later evolved and elaborated to form the new designs that we are more familiar with now. Interestingly, Vishnu Purana (ref: Wilson’s translation, v. ii, pp. 246-7) also compares the sun’s movements to that of a wheel. Rig Veda too refers to the sun’s movements as a wheel, “He the impeller, the chief of charioteers (Pushan), ever urges on that golden wheel for the sun” and “the twelve wheeled spoke of the true sun revolves around the heavens and never decays …” (ref: Rig Veda—Wilson’s translation ii p. 130). Verse 10.35 in Rig Veda portrays the cyclic movement of Agni (Swastagni), and the entire sutra goes on describing the Sun’s movement holding the “wheel” of dharma (Cosmic causation and law) standing for what is right and auspicious for all living beings.

The uniqueness of this primitive sign lies in the fact there is a clearly visible geometrical tension in its shape, where we find that it is an equal-sided cross that can be rotated at 45 degrees either to the right (clockwise) or to the left (anti-clockwise. The clockwise turning position known as dakshinavarta is believed to symbolise the sun’s energy, while the anti-clockwise turning position known as vamavarta represents the moon and feminine energy. Another popular form of swastika is the spiral type known as tetraskelion (from the Chaldean culture), where the three spiral arms create an illusion of cyclic movement. When the arm ends are made to touch each other this spiral form (tetraskelion) takes the shape of a wheel, which in turn is an astronomical sign symbolising cyclic movements of all cosmic bodies. The triskelions, as per the scholars, are swastikas in continuous motion, also representing continuous cosmic re-generation and the continuity of life. It is visual imagery for the harmony and balance in life and nature’s changing seasonal cycles; and in Rig Veda: 7.97-10 we find Rishi Vasistha (one of the Saptarishis), talking about the repetitiveness of cosmic sustainability. The Rig Veda, which can be said to be among the world’s oldest documents on cosmological sciences, mentions swastika many times. This recurrent use of the word shows not only the pre-eminence of the symbol but also makes it evident that the ancient rishis who had composed the verses saw it as more than just a symbol.

In Rig Veda 3.30.16 and 3.58, the swastika is shown to stand for the crossed double vajra or viśvavajra, symbolising thunderbolt (which was later copied to create the Greek cross Fleury).

Again in RV 4.53.3-4 swastika is seen in an imagery form depicting the transformation of the power of the Sun into the power of the seer, with arms extending towards the four cardinal directions and engulfing all space. The cross-like space concept is also seen in ancient Persian literature (Achaemenid times), which was copied later to form the Islamic chahar bagh concept.

In the RV 3.54.11 and other verses Sun is the golden-handed, all beholding, and all-embracing Savitri, evident in the term ‘Savita Sarbatati’, which means the divine sun rays has powers for creating Life (Left oriented swastika associated with feminine power and Tantra) and a Pacifier (Right oriented swastika associated with Yoga). The two forms of swastikas (left and right oriented) in the 10th chapter of the RV: 10.36.14 merge to form a square, and that along with the deities of the four cardinal directions give us the framework of the Vastu-Purusha-Mandala, the basic foundation diagram for any Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temple or building architecture.

Interestingly within Hinduism, swastika is also seen as the cross, which symbolises the Supreme Consciousness (Brahman) and His creation, while the four bent arms define the four purushartha—Artha (wealth), Dharma (righteousness), Kama (love), and Moksha (liberation). It is a moving wheel, denoting a world that is constantly changing while remaining fixed on Brahman (centre point). The swastika is also associated with the Seven Sages or the Saptarishi (Ursa Majoris/the Great Bear) that are a group of celestial bodies forming a constellation. It is believed that the Saptarishis are eternally revolving with the fixed aim of establishing Dharma – “Tad Vishnu param padam” (Polaris is the Dhruvapadam—RV: 10.82.1-2; Srimad Bhagabadgita: 5.22.17).

In terms of archaeological evidence from the Indian subcontinent, swastika motif has been found from Pre-Harappan times, as for example, on a potsherd from Rehman-Dheri (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province). Seals dated around 2100 B.C.E showing swastikas have been found from the Mohenjodaro site, while the motif is frequently seen on ornaments and beads found from various sites of the Sindhu-Saraswati civilisation; including on pottery from the Shahi-Tump site (Baluchistan). The Navdatoli site beside the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh (chalcolithic culture) has also yielded varying forms of the swastika symbol on pottery; while paintings of the swastika motif have been found from the Ganga Yamuna doab area sites (on painted grey ware, denoting Iron age culture). Potteries and sherds depicting swastikas from Sonkh (Mitra period, 2nd century B.C.E); to tablets, coins, and seals from Mathura belonging to the Kushana period (1st century CE), the swastika motif has remained a constant in Indian art from pre-historical to the historical era without any break, and still continues to remain a religious symbol even today, the postmodern era.

Besides the Vedic verses and pre to historic representations of the swastikas, we find mention of the symbol in our epics too. In Ramayana, we find the mention of the swastika motif as carved in relief on a boat that carried Sri Rama; while in Mahabharata there is the famous Swastika Vyuha (maze) or the Chakra-Vyuha as a part of artillery war in the Kurukshetra battle. Swastika also played an important role in Jainism and Buddhism throughout history and remains an important part of their religious and cultural practices. Even today swastika remains an essential part of most rituals associated with the Indic religions, and in astrological and astronomical (jyotishsastra) studies in India. This is because the symbol stands not only for truth (dharma), auspiciousness, and a perfect Cosmic balance within the spiritual, natural, and philosophical realms; it has also become an integral part of more tangible aspects, such as trade, battles, daily rituals, etc.

It is mind-boggling to study the evolution of swastika in various parts of the world, from ancient America to Europe, and the different Asian countries. It is equally mind-boggling to see its connections not only with the various aspects mentioned in this article, by also with thermodynamics (torques), various branches of genetics, engineering, electro-magnetic circuits, and the list just goes on. This article is just the tip of the iceberg, and the idea came to my mind from a Facebook and Twitter post that I had made, which brought about various reactions, which made me realise that many people aren’t aware of the origins and Vedic meanings associated with this symbol. There were various arguments where people contended that while drawing a swastika the lines cannot be crossed, as it is inauspicious to do so. Rigidly taught to do so owing to later period modifications stemming from lack of understanding, these argumentative dialogues just fall flat one when explores the ancient world and realises that swastika started its journey as a simple cross that symbolised the Sun’s movement, and alternatively, Brahman and His creation.

The author is a well-known travel, heritage and history writer. Views expressed are personal.

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In an exclusive conversation with NewsX, Lakshay Jindal spoke about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks in great detail.



Lakshay Jindal, Director & CMO, Jindal Mechno Bricks recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Lakshay spoke about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks in great detail. Excerpts:

Speaking about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks, especially his role in it, Lakshay said, “I oversee marketing and awareness campaigns run by the company. I also help setup distributions across the country. Jindal Mechno Bricks, or more popularly, Jindal Bricks is a machine-made brick and tile manufacturing company. We started in 1972 with hand-made brick manufacturing and in 1996 we shifted to machine-made brick manufacturing. We have a plant, highly advanced plant, in Delhi NCR. We are currently one of the largest manufacturers of machine-made brick and tile with production capacity of over 200 tons per day.”

When asked about the strength of his company, Lakshay shared, “We have a state of the art facility at Jindal Bricks with machines imported from various parts of Europe Italy, Spain and Germany. What is does is, we are able run production 365 days of a year unlike our counterparts. Another very important thing that we boost at Jindal Bricks, is our ability to innovate throughout past few decades. We have been launching new product categories at Jindal Bricks. We have increased the variety product one offer, each category and improve the product itself. We don’t stop there. We welcome customized requests from manufactures of other material need, designers, architects and real estate developers. All in all, we are trying to adapt new trends and advance our self technologically.”

Talking about cost-selling aspects of the bricks used in related products, Lakshay said, “It is not an ordinary brick by any means or standard. In fact, it is the ultra-light brick with doubled the compressive strength than an ordinary brick. Buyers gets 10% saving in steel and concrete. On top of that, these are face bricks. These are not suppose to be painted or plastered. This means you save both- your time and money, by not using the materials and again and the recurring costs that comes along. One of the main features of our production, in fact, all product category is that we have brick and loop tile. We offer multiple colours in it and all natural-no chemicals or pigments added, so the products are completely eco-friendly. In fact these colours are achieved by mixing various clays procure from different parts of the country and exposing them to the right temperature. Another thing is the thermal and sound-insulation that it has, so our products are engineered to have excellent thermal and sound-insulation, which means lower air-conditioning business somewhere and lower heating in winters. All in all, I mean at Jindal Bricks, we are able to deliver highly durable product with zero maintenance, that is saving you money until the rebuilding task.”

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Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be active: Arpita Mehta

Fashion designer Arpita Mehta charted her journey in the world of fashion in 2009 and has since become a new-age force to be reckoned with. In an exclusive interview with NewsX, she spoke about her journey, Covid-19 pandemic, and more.



Arpita Mehta, who won the most glamorous designer of the year in her graduating fashion show from S.N.D.T. University in Mumbai is a very talented young Indian fashion designer. She started her own label in the year 2007 after working under renowned fashion designer Manish Malhotra for two years. Now she has her own studio in Juhu, Mumbai. Arpita recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview for NewsX India A-List talking not only about how her journey started but her contributions to the pandemic situation as well.

Starting with her journey from school days Arpita told us, “To be honest I was an absolute nerd in school and was a hardworking student. But when the big question came about what I wanted to do next, I was really perplexed and I remember my parent’s reaction to fashion they were very surprised. Ten years ago people didn’t see fashion the way they see it now, so at that point of time it took me a while to convince them but I went ahead and studied fashion at S.N.D.T. University, Mumbai. After completing the three-year course from the institute, I worked with the designer for two years and after that, I launched my own label.”

With perseverance and a knack for detailing, she debuted at the Lakmé India Fashion Week Winter/Festive ’13, showcasing her very first collection, ‘Violet Garden’ that featured unique digital prints embellished with intricate mirror work detailing. And there has been no turning back since. Today, Arpita’s illustrious clientele include industrialists, fashion industry stalwarts and celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Alia Bhatt, to name a few.

“It was not immediately that I launched my own label, it took me a few years and more years for me to figure out what I want to do and how I want to do it. I had no contacts in the field of fashion to help me. I started from absolutely scratch and finding my own team of workers. The beginning years were complete struggles and mistakes that I made but I feel that something that helped me to decide upon what I wanted to do, what my brand should be about, what is aesthetic to take forward. The struggle of starting everything from scratch made me have my own individual personality that I built on myself and on my brand. Ten years later now, yes we are having a good time,” continued Arpita.

When asked about how she feels now after a decade in the industry and how she marked the occasion of launching her very own Flagship store, she responded, “Ten years, to be honest, was a very big milestone for me because even though it’s been ten years I feel we just haven’t been working for long. We launched our first Flagship store in Mumbai and as it was in 2020, we couldn’t make a big physical launch but we did do a digital launch and we did it well. The storehouses all our signature style lehengas to raffle sarees to mirror jackets which everyone loves, basically everything and it’s kind of a very contemporary looking store where one can spot it from outside. Apart from launching this, we even launched a very special coffee table book which is something very dear to me and it had all the inspirations of the brand from where we all were inspired by. We did get a very few known actors from Bollywood who are also friends and well-wishers of the brand to do a campaign for us. This was truly very special and once can see it online.”

Talking about her inspirations, Arpita said, “I feel constantly inspired by nature be it the sea, be it the forest or flowers. Nature is constant but even apart from that, there’s always this added element that I am inspired by which keeps changing I feel every season, every three months or every six months. Inspiration comes anywhere and anytime and I feel something that always resonates with every collection that I do, be it in the form of print or embroidery. Therefore inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be active.”

When asked about her beliefs that sets her brand apart from the others, she said, “I feel very early on my brand as in me. There is this craft of mirror work which is very true to a place in Gujarat and Rajasthan and has been around for years. What we did is because I have a sentimental connection with that being a Gujarati, and it’s something I wore a lot as a child. It kind of stuck with me and I wanted to do something different and unique that no one has been doing at that time. We took this craft and we made it in a contemporary manner. We organised the craft and presented it in such a way that one could wear obviously not just in that part but people could wear from the smallest to biggest Indian functions. I feel that this identity, the kind of embroidery and the mirror work that we used is something that has stuck with the brand right from the beginning until now and I think that is something that sets us apart from the rest.”

Talking about 2020 and how she coped up personally and professionally as well, the designer said, “I feel all of 2020 and now also in 2021 there has been a mix of emotions. Some days you are feeling anxiety and some days you are feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening around and some days you feel helpless that am sitting at home. To sum it all up it has been a mix of all emotions, while you have been mentally active but physically inactive because we were all at home. But it has also given us a lot of time to reflect on our personal lives and the way we interact with other people where work is concerned or where family is concerned and I think that helped me a lot in this time to just kind of go back into the past and see where and on have we been spending our time doing all this life.”

On a concluding note, the designer shared with us about the initiative she started to help the community at large during the pandemic. “We thought of coming up with an initiative last month called ‘Wishful Wednesday’ where every Wednesday we hold a sale digitally and we reach out to all our clients all over the world. We are offering them our garments and our latest collections at a discounted price and whatever amount comes out of that sale we have been directing it towards charity. We have tied up with different NGOs who have been doing absolutely amazing work and reaching out to people who are suffering from multiple Covid issues.”

“I just felt that was the way for us to give back to our country because you know it feels helpless and therefore we thought of taking this initiative where everyone comes in together and try to do their level best on whatever they can. It’s been amazing, the responses have been overwhelming and you feel amazing about the fact that so many people have come forward,” added Arpita.

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Their number has gone up by 218 in the past four years; in next census, it should be over 600.

Dr Shailendra Shrivastava



The official figures of tigers in a state indicates how much forestlands it has; and how clean its environment is. Such a green milieu also shows how benevolent Mother Nature is to that state and signals its prosperity. The forests of Madhya Pradesh are echoed with the roars of tigers. Those rolls waft a message that the big cats are flourishing with vitality in a natural habitat in the state.

Madhya Pradesh lies in the heart of India. It is also home to tigers. They live here in peace. The state is not only known to the world for its culture, tradition, and historical vestiges but also for its natural resources and tigers. In the past four years, the number of tigers has shot up by 218. If their number goes up in this way, then there will be more than 660 tigers next year, when the tigers census will take place.

According to the 2018 Tiger Census, Madhya Pradesh has 526 tigers. The state had 308 big cats in 2014, nevertheless. The forest department is enthusiastic about the fact that as the number of tigers has increased in the state, one can see big cats even in those districts where there had been no tigers.

The story does not end here. Eleven districts have seen a rise in the number of tigers. The number of big cats has gone up so much in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, and Pench Tiger reserve that one can see them stroll in normal forest areas. As far as Bhopal goes, sightings of big cats in the state capital and its nearby areas are barely uncommon. There are reports about the movements of nearly one and a half dozen tigers in forests around the state capital. Similarly, 40 tigers ramble in the dark deep woods of Balaghat.

The movements of tigers caught the sight of many foresters in Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams. There had barely been any big cats in these areas. Forest officials shifted chital (spotted deer) to these areas to increase the population of tigers. The tigers are fond of hunting chital. The efforts of the forest department yielded fruits. In the past four years, people have spotted big cats in the forests of Dewas. There were no tigers in these forests earlier.

Foresters also caught the glimpse of tigers in the woods of Khandwa, Panna, Chhatarpur, Damoh, Umaria, Chitrakoot, Maihar, Sarangpur, Satna, Rewa, Katni, Shahdol, Vyauhari, and Jabalpur. People living in Mahoba district on the rims of Uttar Pradesh have spotted tigers from Panna Tiger Reserve. Similarly, many people have seen the movements of tigers on the roads of Sidhi, Chhattisgarh, Pench, and on the borders of Maharashtra and Rajasthan.


The number of tigers has gone up since 2018 from 5% to 60%. The official figures of tigers have increased by 100 in five national parks, 24 in reserved forests, and 63 in forests in the state in the past two years. Besides, there are more than 45 cubs across the state, which will become one-year old by the time the census begins next year. The forest officials say if the number of tigers continues to increase in this way, it will be 660 when the census begins next year.

Bandhavgarh has seen the highest number of tigers in the past two years, which is 40. According to an internal survey, there were 124 big cats in Bandhavgarh National Park in 2018. Now, it has shot up to 164. Similarly, Panna Tiger Reserve had 25 tigers. Their number has now grown to 42.

Kanha National Park which had 88 tigers in 2018 has now 118. Pench Tiger Reserve had 61 tigers, whose number has gone up to 64. In the same way, Satpura Tiger Reserve had 40 tigers in 2018. Now, it has 45. Two years ago, Dubri had five tigers. The number has gone up to 13 now. The internal survey is, however, conducted on the method followed across the country to estimate the number of big cats.


The number of tigers has increased in Madhya Pradesh because it has a more conducive atmosphere in its forests, national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries to the growth of big cats than other states. The state provides in its national parks and in its wildlife sanctuaries an environment favourable to the breeding of tigers. They are also given proper food. In the reserves—especially in the national parks and in the tiger reserves—there are adequate arrangements for their protection. In the past decade, many villages have been displaced from the core areas of tigers such as Kanha, Panna, Pench, Satpura, and Bandhavgarh reserves.

Now that the villagers have been ousted and those areas have turned into grassy lands, the number of chitals, sambhar, blue bulls, and four-horned antelopes have increased. The tigers count on these animals for survival. The tiger is an integral part of forests. This animal plays a significant role in developing ecosystem and diversity.

This wild animal helps nature to maintain a balance between the food chain and trees. Therefore, the presence of tigers is necessary to maintain the ecosystem.

Dr Shailendra Shrivastava is retired DGP, Madhya Pradesh & Chairman, Citizens for Change Foundation.

The number of tigers has gone up since 2018 from 5% to 60%. The official figures of tigers have increased by 100 in five national parks, 24 in reserved forests, and 63 in forests in the state in the past two years. Besides, there are more than 45 cubs across the state, which will become one-year-old by the time the census begins next year.

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In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, spoke about the 5th industrial revolution and much more.



Business is a cocktail of vision, belief, and execution. A balanced mixture of these three ingredients churns out a perfect blend of a successful business. Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, who is also known as the pioneer of the 5th industrial revolution, shared his insights on business leadership with NewsX India A-List.

Speaking about the 5th industrial revolution, Pratik said, “The 5th industrial revolution is all about using the advancements of the 4th industrial revolution such as Artificial Intelligence, 3-D printing, IoT for the betterment of humanity. The 5th industrial revolution is all about working at the intersection of purpose and profit. It means that, even as a fortune 500 company, if you have a purpose, you can maximise profit. If the company is consumer-centric, it gives the company a purpose and subsequently increased profits. Through this revolution, we also aim at using the language of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 global goals, in our process. The 5th Industrial Revolution agenda is to shift from a for-profit paradigm to a for-benefit paradigm.”

Pratik wears multiple hats, including that of an entrepreneur and an investor, to achieve his goal. Talking about how he is using it to achieve his vision, he said, “I have founded more than eight companies and have invested in many. I also indulge in public speaking and motivate people from the age of 19 to 30 years to take the initial steps for becoming an entrepreneur in the space of the for-benefit paradigm. At 5th Element Group, we are creating what we call Omni-win solutions. We bring four sectors—Fortune 500 companies, the government, ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices, and social entrepreneurs – that helps us create these Omni-win solutions.”

The model uses the resources of a Fortune 500 company to bring the vision to life, the government’s backing to achieve a national scale, using the social entrepreneurs to get intel on the impact scale, and the high net-worth individual for the capital. This model helps in creating omni-win solutions (everybody wins). Pratik gave the example of such a model in progress. He told NewsX, “Mission Paani by Harpic is one such project. We brought the fortune 500 company Reckitt Benckiser, and not-for-profit organisation ‘Water for People’ as execution partners and together took them to World Economic Forum. This initiative will impact millions of people in India by giving them access to clean drinking water, starting from Maharashtra.”

Covid-19 impacted businesses, both big and small, in one way or the other. However, the situation was different for Pratik. “On the personal side, Covid impacted everybody adversely. Although, it has also been a blessing in disguise for the professional work. What I have been trying to promote for decades has amplified due to the pandemic. This is because the consumer has now started believing in the power of health, power of consumer-centric, purpose-driven brands, and they realize that purpose is more important than profit,” he expressed. Talking about the three aspects of capital—Financial, Relational, and Human—Pratik further explained how his capital and his message had found a wider reach than before.

Pratik’s latest project that he is particularly proud of is a charitable sweepstakes platform called ‘Win Together’. It involves micro-donors by allowing them to become a part of these solutions, and the incentives like getting a chance to win a Tesla Cyber truck are given to people. Such projects will impact consumers through SDGs on a big scale in the coming years. Wrapping up the talk with few golden tips for budding entrepreneurs, Pratik said, “One big piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to trust the process and never lose hope. If you trust the process, big things will happen; it takes time. It is also essential to believe in yourself as much as possible, as people will not believe you until you believe in yourself.”

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