The Union Minister of Human Resource and Development, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, in his interaction with The Daily Guardian, said that the ongoing coronavirus crisis could be turned into an opportunity as he explained the government’s endeavour to build a world-class digital education infrastructure in the country. Excerpts:
Q. How do you see your arduous journey from a far-flung village in Garhwal to becoming the HRD Minister?
A. I was born in Pinani village in Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand. After completing primary education from a village school, I completed high school from Government Inter College, Damdeval, Pauri Garhwal, which was 8 km away from my village. I started my career as a school teacher.
I had also been a journalist. I have been fortunate that Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) was close to me. For me, he was a constant source of inspiration. In fact, it was Atalji who persuaded me to join politics. I was a two-time Cabinet minister in Uttar Pradesh. I was a Cabinet minister in Uttarakhand and then later became the Chief Minister of the state.
Q. How can we strengthen our digital infrastructure for elementary and higher education, especially in the wake of Covid-19?
A. I strongly believe that with determination and dedication, the current coronavirus crisis can be turned into an opportunity. More emphasis has been laid on online resources, platforms, bandwidth and availability of technological solutions rather than physical spaces. We realised the fact that these facilities are dynamic and will evolve with the changing times. We do understand that the future of education lies in “blended learning”.
We have invited suggestions through the “Bharat Padhe Online” campaign for elearning. Through “Operation Digital Board”, we aim to strengthen the existing digital infrastructure at school levels. DIKSHA, EPathshala, SWAYAM and other e-platforms are providing quality and engaging digital resources. We have also tied up with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to air SWAYAM PRABHA channels on DTH platforms like Tata Sky, Airtel, etc.
Q. What specific steps have you taken to promote research in the country?
A. We are dedicated to develop a world-class research infrastructure. The Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) is promoting research through schemes such as Prime Minister Research Fellows (PMRF), Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), Impactful Policy Research in Social Science (IMPRESS), Scheme for Transformational and Advanced Research in Sciences (STARS), Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) and Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE).
Q. Apart from providing quality manpower, there has been a lot of focus on infrastructure development? How are you creating world-class infrastructure?
A. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) provides financial assistance for creation of educational infrastructure along with research and development (R&D) in India’s premier educational institutions. It finances HEIs, KVs, NVs, AIIMS and other educational institutions of the Ministry of Health.
Till 11 December 2019, projects worth Rs 37,000 crore had been sanctioned and we would fund projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore till 2022. A loan amount of Rs 25,564.52 crore has been sanctioned and Rs 5,537 crore have been disbursed. Seventy-five educational institutions have availed funding through HEFA.
Q. In the last one year, you have created several new universities. What initiatives have you taken for the promotion of Sanskrit and other Indian languages?
A. We have created three central universities—Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan (RSKS), Delhi; Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha (SLBSRSV), New Delhi; and, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha (RSV), Tirupati. Two new central universities—Central University of Andhra Pradesh and Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh— were established in Andhra Pradesh in August 2019. Central Institute of Classical Telugu was shifted from Mysore to Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh and is being strengthened.
We are working on various programmes for development of foreign language institutions, Urdu universities, Urdu Council and Sindhi Council. A lot of focus is being laid on recruitment of language teachers. We are dedicated to the development of highquality learning in vernacular languages by encouraging research in vernacular languages. SWAYAM offers 100 courses in eight regional languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. At the school level, DIKSHA hosts more than 80,000 curriculum-linked and curated content pieces in 15 languages (mediums of instruction).
Q. What steps have you taken to improve teaching in our institutions?
A. There are several schemes of the MHRD to improve skills of our teachers. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT), for instance, addresses current and urgent issues of supply of qualified teachers, attracting talent into the teaching profession and raising the quality of teaching in schools and colleges.
More than 2.5 lakh teachers have been trained. Leadership for Academics Programme (LEAP) prepares academic heads who are potentially likely to assume leadership roles in the future. ARPIT helps in online professional development of 15 lakh higher education faculties using SWAYAM. More than 51,000 learners and 1,46,214 learners were enrolled in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Under NISHTHA we will be training 42 lakh school teachers to make them competitive
Q. Apart from politics, another area that is said to be your forte is literary writing. How do you manage to write despite your busy schedule?
A. I consider myself blessed that my books have been received well by readers across the country. My first collection of poems Samarpan was published in 1983 and after that around 75 books have been published by various publishers worldwide. There are more than 25 research projects (PhD and D.Litt) on my literature. Through my literary creations I have been able to connect to common people. I am glad to share that my literature has been translated in various languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, and several other Indian languages and foreign languages as well.
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SEEMA PAHWA, MANUKRITI PAHWA & ANNUP THAPA TALK ABOUT ‘YE MARD BECHARA’
In the exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List, actor Seema Pahwa, debutant Manukriti Pahwa and filmmaker Annup Thapa talked about their latest film Ye Mard Bechara.
Actor Seema Pahwa, Debutant Manukriti Pahwa and Filmmaker Annup Thapa recently joined us on NewsX India A-List to speak about their latest film Ye Mard Bechara, which released on the occasion of International Men’s Day. In the exclusive interview, the trio shared what Ye Mard Bechara is all about and the message it tries to deliver. Read excerpts:
Speaking about Ye Mard Bechara and what drew her to the film Seema Pahwa said, “The film is based on the situation of men in our society. Be it today’s society or the earlier society, the film throws light on where the men stand in our society today unconsciously. It is not like we have done it deliberately. Unconsciously, we have put more and more pressure on men without think that he is also piled under responsibilities. Ever since childhood, what responsibilities we are dumping on him. The film talks about that and points out the wrong definition we have in our minds regarding being a man. What should it be, is it someone who inflicts pain or is it someone who helps others.”
“The story is being told in a very interesting manner and a light-hearted manner. It does not underline it but that’s the message the film delivers. I think people will resonate with it,”she added.
When asked about experience of directing Ye Mard Bechara and his thoughts on the film finally releasing in theatres, Annup Thapa expressed, “It is like a miracle. We were not expecting to see our film in the theatres. The shooting kickstarted before lockdown in 2019. Talking about the idea of the film, I’m a man myself and since I was the eldest in the family, I had the responsibility of my family since my childhood. My own experience and surroundings prompted this film. Like Seema ma’am said, people are connecting with this film. The responses that are coming on the trailer of the film shows people want to watch this film and finally someone spoke about the plight of men. It has at least begun. A lot of films have been made of women issues, should be made and people have appreciated them. Similarly, there are a lot of issues faced by men and they are experiencing discrimination with various laws that have been made. Several social boundaries have also been drawn and men are responsible for it. The message is delivered in a very positive manner in the film and does not demonise anyone. A man is not bechara because of a woman. When you watch the film, you will be surprised. As much as the film is important for men, it is equally important for women.”
Manukriti Pahwa, who makes her debut with Ye Mard Bechara, further spoke about her passion for acting and revealed how she bagged the film. She revealed, “I think acting was something that I always wanted to do. When I was young, I was more exposed to theatre than films and film sets. I always knew that I wanted to be on stage and I want to act. When I grew up, I wanted to do my degree in dramatics so I did my studies in that. I came back and did theatre for a while. Once I was confident about my craft, I started auditioning.”
“Sui Dhaaga happened. I did a small part in Sui Dhaaga and then I did Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, which I did under mom’s direction. Annup ji had actually come to narrate the film to mom at home and I happened to be at home at that time. That’s when I got introduced to him. He later asked me if I would like to act in the film. I told him i would read the script and get back to you. I read the script and thought it was a great concept. It is something that nobody is thinking about. There is a lot of talk about women’s liberation and women’s freedom. A lot of films are also being made on this and people are talking about it but nobody is really thinking from a men’s perspective. That really interested me in this project and made me come on-board,” she added.
There’s a perfect oasis waiting to be discovered: Obeetee presents the Gypsy Oasis collection
There is a wanderer within all of us, yearning to uncover and explore the unknown. To cater to that inquisitive and free spirit, OBEETEE presents the all-new Gypsy Oasis Collection. Creating a seamless yet beautiful web of fibers, this collection aims to blend the world as one.
The Gypsy Oasis Collection draws inspiration from the ornamental traditions of the ancient Ottoman empire, combined with the free spirit of the gypsy soul. This collection appeals to the wanderer who seeks the great unknown and equips them to bring that nomadic and exotic essence to the comfort of their homes. With the Gypsy Oasis Collection, you can turn any corner of your home into your own bohemian escape and let the OBEETEE rug transport you to where you are most content.
The color palette of this collection is vibrant in its true form and the designs are meant to be decorative while maintaining the legendary OBEETEE timelessness. Rugs in the Gypsy Oasis collection embody the traditional heritage of the Khotan and Oushal patterns while bringing a new age touch to them, providing the best of both worlds. They have a quintessential bohemian appeal that is sure to wow creative minds. Made with the utmost detail and artisanship on canvases of silk and wool, the Gypsy Oasis collection is unlike any other.
With each innovative new collection over the last century, OBEETEE has garnered an undisputed reputation in terms of its brilliance. OBEETEE boasts of a community that sustains its existence and excellence with over 25,000 artisans dedicated to the creation of extraordinary rugs and the Gypsy Oasis Collection is an incredible extension of that.
Carpets in the Gypsy Oasis Collection range from Rs. 25,000 up to Rs. 3,00,000.
Founded in 1920, OBEETEE is one of the oldest and largest hand woven rug companies in not only India but also the world. Expanding over a century, OBEETEE has garnered an undisputed reputation in terms of its brilliance. With over 25,000 artisans dedicated to the creation of extraordinary rugs, OBEETEE boasts of a community that sustains its existence and excellence.
The uniqueness and regality of OBEETEE is undeniable, and the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which houses two beautiful OBEETEE creations, is in agreement. In addition to that, innumerable prominent people have experienced and recognized the world of OBEETEE over the years.
OBEETEE has the greatest in-house rug-making capabilities in India, powered by their modern dyeing plant and ever-inspired design department. They constantly employ new textures and designs, and house over 4,000 colourfast shades of wool in their bank. OBEETEE was the first company to receive the SA 8000:2001 certification for Social Accountability. The company does an endless array of things to give back to the community. From supporting children education, women vocational training, public health and sanitation, to numerous environmentally conscious efforts, OBEETEE is by the people, of the people, for the people.
A WORLD OF FLAVOURS AT YOUR DOORSTEP
The Claridges New Delhi is offering a premium round-the-clock food delivery service, Tiffin By Claridges, with a new, updated menu.
The luxury hotel has recently added continental cuisine to the menu and also introduced “Meal In a Bowl”, an interesting concept that offers patrons the option of customizing their Thai bowl, pizza, sandwich, burger and more.
Tiffin By Claridges was started in July 2021, to provide a variety of cuisines from their restaurants and bakery – Jade, Pickwick, Dhaba and Ye Old Bakery – directly to your doorstep. These range from authentic Italian, Japanese, Cantonese, Chinese and Thai cuisines to delicate soft cakes and buttery savories.
At present, The Claridges New Delhi is the only hotel in Delhi that offers a 24-hour food delivery service.
“We are always looking to introduce new, exciting dishes in our menu to delight our customers, like the seasonal set menu by chef Sweety Singh, Christmas hampers, Turkey hampers, Navratri menus, and much more,” said Mr. Vivek Rana, Executive Chef, The Claridges New Delhi “We provide round-the-clock delivery service and ensure that we take comprehensive care to safeguard your well-being and securely deliver happiness to your home,” he added.
Here are some of the more popular dishes from their restaurants:
• JADE: Five Spice Lotus Root, Butter Pepper Garlic Prawn, Gong Bao Chicken
• DHABA: Paneer Tikka, Burra Kebab, Balti Meat, Dal Makkhan Maar Ke, Kanastri Began
• PICKWICK: The Claridges Club Veg Sandwich, The Claridges Non-Veg Club Sandwich, Spaghetti Primavera, Lamb Chops Souvlaki
• YE OLD BAKERY: Bitter Chocolate Cake, Corn Pudding
SIGNATURE DISHES AT TIFFIN BY CLARIDGES INCLUDE:
• Wok-Tossed Tofu, Bird Eye Chili, Thai Basil from Thai Selection
• Tandoori Chicken from Dhaba
• Seasonal Fresh Fruit Gateaux from Ye Old Bakery
So, the next time you feel like enjoying a delectable meal in the comfort and safety of your home, order from a wide assortment of delightful dishes from Tiffin By Claridges. They ensure safe delivery abiding by all government-issued and WHO-prescribed guidelines.
ABOUT THE CLARIDGES NEW DELHI
The Claridges, New Delhi has been a landmark in Lutyens Delhi since 1955. Located in lush & tranquil surroundings in the heart of the city, the hotel is within proximity of the business district, ministries, diplomatic missions, shopping & cultural centers and historical landmarks. The flagship property of The Claridges Hotels & Resorts, The Claridges, New Delhi has over the years played host to several important social, political & business gatherings. With its classic ambience and contemporary facilities, the hotel recreates the magic of old-world charm coupled with gracious Indian hospitality. The architecture of the hotel; the guest rooms & suites with their classic, understated decor; the expansive garden with swinging palm trees; and personalized service transports one to a haven of tranquility right in the middle of the bustling city.
AAP CANDIDATE BANGER JOINS CONGRESS, SAYS COERCED BY KEJRIWAL
In a major embarrassment to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), its announced candidate for the upcoming Punjab polls from Ferozepur Rural constituency Ashu Banger has joined the Congress in the presence of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
Banger, who quit the party on Monday morning, joined the Congress in the presence of CM Channi and Congress leadership at Congress Bhawan here later in the day.
CM Channi also announced him as the Congress candidate from the Ferozepur Rural constituency. Along with Banger, many AAP workers have joined the Congress.
Notably, this would be for the first time that an announced candidate has switched the party when the elections are around the corner.
Welcoming Banger into the party fold, CM Channi said that Punjab needs such courageous and true-hearted youngsters who want to work for the betterment of Punjab and quit the party even after being announced as AAP candidate.
“AAP is a fraud party and after finding out its anti-Punajbi agenda, Banger quits the party. I am confident that his induction will give a boost to the Congress party in Punjab,” CM said.
CM said that it is condemnable that Punjab co-in-charge Raghav Chadha had misbehaved with media persons recently and made scurrilous claims against the farmers of Punjab who had spearhead fought for the rights of Punjab and farming.
Lambasting at AAP leadership, Banger, who is contesting Vidhan Sabha polls for the first time, said that he was humiliated and coerced by the AAP leadership, including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, to spend money on electioneering to woo voters.
“AAP functions like a multinational company and all leaders are from Punjab have been dictated from Delhi which was very pressurizing and hindering the so-called development agenda and welfare of Punjab by the party,” he added.
Banger said that Chadha is acting like a dictator and has been directing AAP workers to follow his command without taking the Punjab leadership into confidence.
Meanwhile, reacting to a media query over announcing CM candidate by AAP, “Launching helpline by AAP and selecting the CM face is an eye-wash activity but they will not be able to befool the people of Punjab,” CM added.
CM said that 10 MLAs of AAP and many workers had already quit the party that indicates that Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has lost its credibility among their workers and people of Punjab.
EC POSTPONES PUNJAB ELECTION; BSP SAYS CONG, BJP FOLLOWED THEM
The Election Commission of India has postponed the polling date of the Punjab Assembly Election as Prakash Purab of Shri Guru Ravidas falls on 16 February when several devotees travel to Banaras and Kashi to offer prayers.
After the announcement, the credit war among the political parties started to appear on social media and in WhatsApp groups. Every party is trying hard to convince people that it is them who made the Election Commission postpone the polling date.
Though it was Bahujan Samaj Party who first sent the memorandum to the Election Commission of India on 10 January demanding postponement of Punjab election.
Punjab BSP president Jasveer Singh Garhi, while speaking to The Daily Guardian, said that the BSP had first submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission through Phagwara SDM regarding the postponement of Punjab Assembly election dates.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh had to write a letter to the Election Commission five days later while the BJP wrote to the poll panel eight days later to postpone the Punjab Assembly elections.
Garhi said that the ancient Shri Guru Ravidas Ji temple built in 700 kanals in Tughlakabad, Delhi, was demolished by the central government. He was also approached by the BJP government at the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi to pay Rs 4.34 crore for a 30-year lease, the last date of which was in December.
Garhi further asked: “If the BJP government at the Centre was pro-Dalit then why it was not stopped when the ancient temple at Tughlakabad in Delhi was being demolished. Why was the BJP party asleep then? Why didn’t the BJP leaders and the Congress government of Punjab write a letter to stop the demolition of the temple?”
Garhi said that even then the leaders, workers and supporters of Bahujan Samaj Party took to the streets with the blessings of Sant Samaj and Sangat to fight the Tughlaqabad struggle.
Garhi said that the BJP government which demolished Shri Guru Ravidas Mandir in Delhi was today trying to mislead the nation by politicising Dalits and backward classes.
Draft constitution proposes national working president as Mamata’s 2nd in-charge
Almost two months after the Trinamool Congress announced that it would amend its constitution, the party is planning to introduce the post of national executive president to assist chairperson Mamata Banerjee.
The national executive president will perform Mamata’s roles in her absence and will also be a member of the party’s advisory committee in his capacity. Mamata’s nephew and party’s general secretary Abhishek Banerjee is believed to be the normal choice for the post.
However, the party leaders think that the inheritance of power within the party will be decided in a constitutional manner. If Abhishek is elected the national executive president by amending the constitution, his authority within the party will be further established.
The party will also form a national council at the grassroots level, which will have two types of representatives – elected and nominated. This council will be the highest policy-making committee of the party. The members of the council will elect a national executive president for a five-year term.
Apart from this, the Trinamool Congress will also appoint six national general secretaries who will oversee the organisation and activities of the team on a daily basis.
Trinamool membership and the fees paid to the members are also being amended.
There will be two types of membership – primary and active. If a member can get 10 more people to join the party, then he will be considered as active member. Active members will have the right to vote. They will also be able to open party offices.
Under the current constitution, all primary members have the right to vote. However, this time it is going to change.
The cost of annual membership is also increasing. The draft proposal calls for a 20-fold increase i.e. from Rs 5 per year to Rs 100 per year. Although the final decision will be taken by the party leadership, digital membership has also been included in the draft.
According to the leaders, the party has grown exponentially since coming to power in the state in 2011 and therefore, needs a specific structure. It is also important to reduce the burden of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party work.
The leaders feel that the restructuring of the party is even more urgent as it is moving beyond Bengal and venturing in national politics.
According to the party leaders, this is the first internal democracy of Trinamool Congress since its formation in 1998 where the second most powerful position from the grassroots level will be elected. The draft constitution has not yet given any term to the highest office of the party, making Mamata Banerjee the party chairperson for life.
Political strategist Prashant Kishore’s organisation IPAC is working on the amendment of Trinamool constitution. Mamata convened a meeting of the Trinamool Working Committee in November last year. After the meeting, the party leaders announced that a proposal has been made to amend the party’s constitution. Kishore was also present in the meeting.
According to party sources, the necessary amendments to the constitution are the brainchild of Kishore.
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