Extending their support to people facing hardships, especially the migrant labourers during the nationwide lockdown, residents of Surat in Gujarat have donated food packets worth Rs 100 crore so far. Known as “laghu Bharat” (mini India), the city houses workers from 22 states of the country. Also, various institutions, organisations, NGOs and religious groups were seen feeding around 6 lakh people daily. This is also said to be one of India’s biggest donation or charity operations during the nationwide lockdown feeding over half a million on a daily basi.
A large number of civic organisations are working on the ground, with around 500 officially registered with the administration. A total of 3.35 crore food packets, each costing Rs 15- 20, have been distributed. Also, more than 56,000 medical kits, each consisting of gloves, masks and sanitisers and costing Rs 300 each, were distributed to the needy. The diamond merchants’ associations, the builders’ associations, the industrial units’ associations, and many such associations have pledged to take care of their employees to ensure migrant labourers’ welfare.
Surat, according to the Mahabharata, is the place where Karna’s last rites were performed. Karna is known as “danveer” (great donor) and also, there is a local saying that “nobody sleeps with a hungry stomach in Surat.” This was evident when people from all walks of life started coming out to help each other during these tough times. An Odia migrant, Dhaneshwar Jenna, for instance, didn’t think twice in spending the savings raised by him and his wife for his 4-year-old son’s education in an English-medium school for this noble cause. Another man named Jignesh Gandhi donated the money he had saved to buy his “dream car”. Jignesh has so far spent a whopping Rs 40 lakh, feeding hundreds of needy twice a day, serving milk and masks. Dinesh Rajpurohit, a hotelier and a social worker, who started by feeding 500 people after ‘Janta Curfew’ was announced is now feeding around 4,500 people per day. In addition, he also supplied masks, PPEs, sanitisers and train fares for migrants. Many societies decided to make two ‘rotis’ extra from every household to feed the underprivileged cluster near their location, without violating the lockdown norms.
The city is the only parliamentary constituency which gave us a Deputy Prime Minister and a Prime Minister in Morarji Desai. With a population of about 5 million, this has been one the fastest growing cities in the world since the 1970s. Its population grew by 68 per cent in the decade from 2001 to 2011, against the national average of 14 per cent. But, after 24 March, when lockdown was declared, it became difficult for labourers in factories and daily wage earners to get their ends met. Following the age-ild tradition of Surat, the Municipal Corporation and local government authorities gave a call for help. And, people in Surat rose to the occasion, letting a ceaseless flow of human compassion. Day-and-night kitchen services were started by various individuals and groups, organisations and institutions, to feed the needy. Notably, due to collective efforts, the city has also been declared a garbage-free city in 2020 and has been among the cleanest cities in India for years now.
According to ‘worldometer’ info, the Maldives has a population of 5.16 lakh as of 2018. So, Surat serving around 6 lakh people daily is like serving the entire Maldives on a daily basis. This was done with 3Cs — compassion, coordination and consistency. When the last of the 445 Shramik trains departed Surat, a record seven lakh odd migrant workers were enabled to reach their native places safely. The people of Surat are also active in organ donation, blood donation, eye donation and body donation, giving alms and food to the homeless in normal times. But this time during Covid-19 crisis, people here surpassed all the previous records of donations. The city showed how to fight a pandemic, with humanity and compassion intact.
Yuvraj Pokharna is an Engineer turned Educationist and Social Activist from Surat who keeps a keen eye on contemporary issues including social media, politics and Government Policies.
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Celebrating ‘100 years of Bollywood’
In commemoration of ‘100 years of Bollywood’, a live audio-visual musical journey of songs from 1913 to 2013, covering songs from Raja Harishchandra to Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, from Prithviraj Kapoor to Ranbir Kapoor, from Saigal to Sonu Nigam, will be held. The event, which will also be a fundraiser, will be organised by Gunjan Foundation at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, at 06:30 p.m on 10 October, 2022. The proceeds from this show will go towards the education of underprivileged children, for the foundation expects all children in the community to learn and experience school education.
Sushma Singhvi founded the Gunjan Foundation, a non-governmental social organization, in 2004 with the mission of pursuing educational and other welfare measures to uplift marginalised sections of society.
The Gunjan Foundation is providing full scholarships to about 200 school students. It has now widened its horizons further. Its vision also includes continuing to support advanced and professional courses in the future. For the past five years, Gunjan has been financially supporting four to five marginalised students who are pursuing such advanced and professional courses. This year, Gunjan Foundation’s first batch has passed out from the 12th grade, ready to embrace the growth opportunities of the world. Not wanting to leave these students midstream, it is also Gunjan’s endeavour now to see these students through college. The Gunjan Foundation is planning to provide scholarships to deserving students for higher studies.
Dussehra brings business back on track for effigy makers
Every year, Dussehra is celebrated to commemorate the triumph of good over evil as Lord Rama killed Ravana on this day. The festival is celebrated in full swing across the country by burning the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkaran, and Meghnath.
After a hiatus of a few years, the effigy business is getting back on track.
Earlier, Naveen, a local artisan from Titarpur in New Delhi, revealed, “People are coming back in huge numbers to book Ravan effigies. Due to Covid, during the past few years, the business was not so good, but things are getting better now and customers are back. But now, the rates of effigies are a bit higher as compared to previous times. Now it costs Rs 500 per foot. We began the preparation two months ahead of the festival and we start the deliveries two days before Dussehra.”
“During Covid, Ravan idols were made in fewer numbers. We used to create only small mannequins of 5 feet and 10 feet for the common people, who could burn those effigies on the streets. But this year, the situation is quite different. We are celebrating every festival and the effigy business is also going really well. The craze among the people for Dussehra is very high. We are flooded with bookings this year. This year, we will see a good hike in sales. We have been working day and night for the past two months to create these effigies. We create effigies from five feet to fifty feet and the pricing begins from Rs 500 per foot, “Sonu, a local artist said.
On being asked whether the firecracker ban has affected the sales in Delhi or not, Naveen said, “No, it doesn’t matter. We only construct the effigies. It’s the customer’s choice to put firecrackers in them or not. They do it by themselves. People opt for eco-friendly firecrackers to create less pollution during Dussehra. “
Effigy maker Poonam said, “Yes, we are facing a big loss due to the firecracker ban by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. Every year, CM Kejriwal puts a ban on firecrackers. During Diwali, everyone bursts crackers, but only during Dussehra, he puts a ban on them. We don’t put crackers in the effigies; people bring them and put them on their own. But because of the ban, there has been a huge downfall in the number of clients. Mostly, the customers cancel their already booked orders due to the ban. If the government doesn’t want us to do our business, then simply tell us. We don’t want to face loss at the last moment. “
“The number of firecrackers has now been reduced from 500 to 300 by CM Kejriwal. We don’t put crackers in the mannequins; that’s the customer’s call whether to put crackers or not,” said Mahendra Karari, Ravan effigy creator.
Apart from making effigies during the festive season, local vendors indulge in their different businesses for the rest of the year for their source of income.
“Dussehra festival comes once a year, and we have our other source of income as well. I am a driver for the whole year. But during Dussehra, I have made Ravan since my childhood in Titarpur, said Naveen.
Karari said, “We work in the hotel line during the whole year, and some of us work in brass bands during the marriage season, and some people work at local sweet shops.”
In some regions, the celebration, also known as Vijayadashami, celebrates Goddess Durga’s triumph over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura.
Why Dussehra holds an important place in Indian culture
ussehra, or Vijayadashami, as many call it, is one of the most important festivals in India. In the northern Indian states, it’s called Dussehra, while in West Bengal, it’s called Vijayadashami.
Dusshera falls on the tenth day of Sharada Navratri. However, despite the fact that celebrations and cultural practices vary according to the location in India’s culturally rich country, the festival’s fabric that binds everyone together remains.
Dussehra symbolises the triumph of good over evil, and it is tied to two stories. After a fierce battle that lasted more than nine days, it is said that Maa Durga conquered Mahishasura on this day. According to another tale, Dussehra is observed to commemorate Lord Rama’s victory over Lanka’s ten-headed evil king, Ravana.
The tenth day of Navratri, which is comprised of nine days dedicated to honouring each form of Goddess Durga, is Dussehra. Vijayadashami, on the other hand, is the day of victory. While some connect it to the famous Ramayana conflict, others do it to remember Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demonic Mahishasura.
In some regions of the country, Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami or Dasain, makes way for the Diwali celebrations.
Twenty days after Dussehra, one of the most significant and widely celebrated festivals, the festival of lights, Diwali, commemorates Lord Rama’s return home following his victory over Ravana. However, the main message of the Dussehra festival is that of good triumphing over evil, and it is on this day that people pray for prosperity and good health.
The nine days of Navratri culminate in the killing of Ravana and the burning of his life-size effigy at the Ramlila, together with those of Meghnad and Kumbhakaran, on the day of Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, when the holiday is celebrated with great grandeur.
As each of Ravana’s heads represents a different negative attribute, Dussehra also represents purging oneself of sins or undesirable traits.
In several southern Indian states, Shami Puja is also known as Banni Puja and Jammi Puja. Devotees wish Maa Durga farewell on Dashami, and the visarjan is performed either at Aparahna time or Pratahkala while Dashami Tithi is in effect.
The tenth day is also known as Vijayadashmi, when Maa Durga’s idol is submerged in water in the hopes that she will keep an eye on them and fend off all misfortunes and evils. Vijayadashmi and Dussehra commemorate the triumph of good over evil, and worshippers celebrate the festivals by indulging in various foods with their loved ones.
136 ft Durga Puja pandal to enter Guinness Book as world’s tallest
A 136 ft tall puja pandal in the capital of Uttar Pradesh is going to attract everyone’s attention. The Durga Puja pandal, situated in Jankipuram, Lucknow, is going to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest ever.
The pandal is a replica of the under-construction Chandrodaya temple of Vrindavan, which is built to be one of the tallest religious monuments in the world with a height of above 700 ft and spread over a 5,40,000 sq ft area.
The pandal stands tall in the middle of Durga Puja Park in Jankipuram. It was built by the Utsav Puja Committee, which has also been celebrating the Puja for the last 28 years.
While emphasising the features of this tallest pandal, Rakesh Pandey, General Secretary of the Durga Puja committee, said, “This entire pandal has been built by 52 artisans from Kolkata and Assam and a time of over one month has been taken to build this tallest pandal.”
“A total of Rs 32 lakhs has been spent on making this tallest Durga Puja pandal. Every day about 70 thousand devotees come to the pandal to offer their prayers to Durga Maa”, Rakesh Pandey said further.
PM Modi arrives at International Kullu Dussehra festival
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a warm welcome as he arrived for the international Kullu Dussehra Festival today. He will be participating in the Dusshera festival here for the first time.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to citizens on the occasion of Dussehra and expressed his happiness to be a part of the International Kullu Dussehra Festival that is to be celebrated here from October 5 to 11 at the Dhalpur Ground in Kullu.
The festival is unique in the sense that it is the congregation of more than 300 deities of the valley. On the first day of the festival, obeisance will be paid to the deities in their well-decorated palanquins at the temple of the Chief Deity Bhagwan Raghunath Ji, and then it proceeds to the Dhalpur Ground.
“I am elated to provide the citizens of Himachal Pradesh with the gifts of projects in education, health, and infrastructure worth thousands of crores,” PM Modi said, adding that he will seek the blessings of the country by joining the Raghunath Ji Yatra.
“I am very fortunate to participate in the Kullu festival after so many years,” he added.
The Prime Minister will witness this divine Rath Yatra and the grand assembly of the Deities in the historic Kullu Dussehra celebrations.
PM Modi’s remarks came after he inaugurated AIIMS Bilaspur and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects here.
On Independence Day, referring to the Amrit Kaal—the next 25 years till 2047, when India will be marking 100 years of Independence—the Prime Minister urged people to focus on “Panch Pran’ (five vows).
He said the country has met various challenges in the past 75 years and there were certain unfulfilled dreams, “the next 25 years are very significant for our country.” He explained the five vows.
The first vow is for the people to move ahead with a strong resolve for a “developed India”. “We should not settle for anything less than that,”
The second resolve is that “in no part of our existence, not even in the deepest corners of our minds or habits, should there be any ounce of slavery”.
The third resolution urged Indians to be proud of their country’s heritage and legacy.
He said the fourth resolution, which is equally important, is unity and solidarity.
“Amongst 130 million countrymen, when there is harmony and bonhomie, unity becomes its strongest virtue. “On August 15, Prime Minister Modi stated.
PM Modi said the fifth vow is the “duty of the citizens,” in which even the Prime Minister, Chief Minister cannot be excluded as they are also responsible citizens and have a duty towards the nation”.
13 Indians caught up in fake IT job scam rescued from Myanmar
India announced on Wednesday that 13 more of its citizens had been rescued from Myanmar after being lured there under the pretext of lucrative IT jobs and the officials were in contact with Laos and Cambodia to assist in the repatriation of more victims of similar frauds.
After more than 100 workers were recruited by dubious IT companies to work in Myanmar, the external affairs ministry issued a warning to Indian citizens on September 24 about fake job offers being circulated on social media platforms. 32 Indian citizens were rescued from a remote area of Myanmar last month after being forced to work under difficult circumstances by businesses involved in digital fraud and fake crypto currency activities.
“We have been actively pursuing the case of Indians being trapped in fake job rackets in Myanmar. Thanks to the efforts of @IndiainMyanmar & @IndiainThailand, around 32 Indians had already been rescued. Another 13 Indian citizens have now been rescued, & reached Tamil Nadu today,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Bagchi said some more Indian citizens had also been rescued from “fake employers” and were in the custody of Myanmar authorities for “illegal entry into that country”. Legal formalities have been initiated to get them “repatriated at the earliest”, he said.
Instances of similar job rackets have come to light in Laos and Cambodia, and Indian embassies in Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Bangkok have been helping repatriate people from these countries, Bagchi said.
Details of agents allegedly involved in the job racket have been shared with authorities in various states for appropriate action. “We would reiterate extreme caution in accepting dubious employment offers overseas,” Bagchi added.
According to recent reports in US and Cambodian media, officials in Cambodia conducted a number of searches in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville against cybercriminal organisations linked to the “pig butchering” scam. The word “fatten” refers to the process of a farmer fattening a hog before butchering it. The deception depends on getting victims to keep depositing money into phoney websites run by con artists, according to the investigative journalism website ProPublica.
“Workers from around Asia are tricked into going to Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar for seemingly well-paid jobs that instead trap them inside scam sweatshops run by Chinese criminal syndicates. Those who resist directives to engage in online fraud face beatings, food deprivation or worse,” ProPublica reported.
Victims of the scam in the US, Canada and other countries lost huge amounts of money, sometimes more than a million dollars to fraudsters who convinced them to download a trading app called MetaTrader and deposit their savings in sham brokerages accessible via the app, according to the report.
Since mid-September, police operations in three locations in Cambodia have released thousands of workers who were being held against their will. The Sihanoukville raids between September 18 and 22 resulted in the release of 1,480 foreign citizens from India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to numbers from the provincial police quoted by Cambodia’s VOD News. The precise number of Indian citizens was not immediately known.
The Indian embassy in Cambodia tweeted on September 24 that 14 Indian nationals had been rescued from “human trafficking gangs”, and reiterated a warning that citizens intending to visit the country for employment or business should check the background of the firms offering jobs.
People familiar with the matter earlier said that Indian embassies in Myanmar and Thailand were in touch with some 50 Indians who sought help, though some reports have suggested that up to 300 Indian workers may have been illegally taken to the Myawaddy area in Myanmar to work for rackets engaged in call-centre scams and crypto-currency fraud.
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