We supported over 7.7mn people in first wave: Sandeep Chachra - The Daily Guardian
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We supported over 7.7mn people in first wave: Sandeep Chachra

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During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, several facets have come to the fore in India’s fight against the deadly virus. NGO ActionAid and its Executive Director Sandeep Chachra have been relentlessly pursuing the humanitarian cause and have set a precedent in serving people. 

Q. Tell us about the work you have done during the pandemic?

A. Our extended network, which comprises ActionAid teams across 24 States and two Union Territories, co-ordinators placed in over 100 districts, grassroots-based civil society organisations, and community-based volunteers and activists, and our strong links with district administrations, enabled us to provide much-needed support to over 7.7 million people in the first Covid wave. This included ration kits, cooked food, and sanitation materials. In the second wave, the health aspects and medical support are high on the needs of people, besides economic support. People have faced double jeopardy, for which they have got little succour and support from the government.

We started awareness drives through tempos and autos in 20 states and UTs to inform communities about Covid-appropriate behaviour and to promote vaccinations. We have set up Covid helplines in 12 states and helpdesks through that we have been helping affected persons and their families with updated accurate information including the availability of medicines, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and in some cases telemedical consultation. By the third week of May 2021, we were running 71 helpdesks across 16 states and two UTs. We are working to strengthen medical services by providing volunteers to run Covid Care Centres and arrange supplies and equipment at these centres and public hospitals. With support from various corporates and others such as Give India, we will be strengthening efforts of Primary Health Care Centres and Community Health Care Centres in 100 districts in 15 states through the provision of several thousand oxygen concentrators. We are now setting up Covid Care Wards for children in two states, and plan to expand this to five. We have set up community kitchens and are also providing free cooked meals in several Indian cities. With regards to rations, we are focussing our first outreach to vulnerable communities such as refugees, transgenders, families of domestic workers, and all informal workers out of work, slum populations, children in difficult circumstances, tribals etc.

We have also been providing inputs to Union and state governments on the kind of policies they need to set up to help vulnerable communities cope with the crisis and respond to their needs. We make efforts to bring to the public discourse challenges being faced by vulnerable communities and programme policy solutions to mitigate their precarity through grounded participatory researches. The impact of the pandemic is not short term. Whenever this wave abates, apart from preparing for the third wave, a green recovery process is needed to address recovery from the perspective marginalise. This can be done by creating sustainable rural and urban livelihoods, green jobs, and social security for workers in villages and towns; by taking steps to ensure universal, responsive, free, and quality public services particularly in health and education; by ensuring support to children, who are out of education, don’t drop out; by ensuring protection to women so that their work participation rates don’t drop even lower and unpaid care work at home is shared equally and so on.

Q. What has kept the spark in you alive to continue working with ActionAid?

A. ActionAid has amazing people in its teams and the ones it works with. They are committed, driven, reflective, and passionate in their pursuit of equality and justice. It is endlessly inspiring to be leading this organisation, with the guidance of a wonderful governing board and assembly. We have been blessed to have friendships, associations, partnerships, and solidarity with individual change-makers, social formations and movements, philanthropists, and people in administration and governance who engage in social development to create an ecosystem of hope and belief.

The NGO gives space to all those who stand to undo structures and historical processes of oppression —patriarchy, caste, inequality, and injustice with a belief in welfare and social advancement, brings many, like me to embrace it. 

 In the years that I’ve worked here, I’m sharing few examples of the work we been involved in:

Homeless: starting 2001 putting it on the national agenda to build formations

Manual scavenging: starting late 90s and continuously work on it to support and contribute to developing national campaigns and formations.

Triple Talaq: to build grounded momentum for rights of Muslim women.

De-notified communities and extremely vulnerable workers. Such crucial contributions inspire several people and keep us moving. 

Q. What are the future plans of ActionAid in terms of capacity build-up?

A. Building resilience in the communities we are working with has been our long-term aim for decades since we adopted the rights-based approach in the 1990s. In the latest strategy approach that we adopted in 2019, we had expanded our rights-based approach in two directions, we moved strongly towards collective and community-based rights not remaining limited to individual rights, and we expanded the realm of our engagements beyond rights to the question of social justice as well as understood the need to move towards engaging with issues of ecological justice. The pandemic has strengthened our effort to remain more closely rooted with vulnerable communities, and beyond the project mode. Thus, we have resolved to play a more active role in district-level engagements with vulnerable communities to make a real difference in questions of social and ecological justice in the lives of wider expanses of populations. We recognise that this calls for both rooted actions and campaign mode engagements with people to build and strengthen their collective agency for social progress, justice and equality. 

The pandemic has taught us all the importance of gender-responsive, free, and universal public services particularly in areas of health, sanitation, and education. We look forward to engaging more effectively in securing universal, free, and quality health, water, and sanitation services for all as a step to seek and contribute to building a participatory democracy. 

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BOUNCE INTRODUCES A NEW ELECTRIC SCOOTER WITH SWAPPABLE BATTERY

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Bounce, India’s first smart mobility solution company, reinforced its commitment to support India’s EV potential by unveiling its first consumer electric scooter, the Bounce Infinity E1 on Thursday. The Bounce Infinity E1 will be offered with a unique ‘Battery as a service’ option – the first of its kind in the Indian market.

The scooter with battery and charger is INR 68,999 (Delhi Ex-showroom) and the price for Scooters with Battery-as-a-Service is priced at INR 45,099 (Delhi Ex-Showroom) plus subscription to Battery-as-a-Service. Customers can pre-book this smart scooter by paying a minimal amount of INR 499 which is totally refundable. Bounce Infinity E1 scooters are FAME II eligible. Here, customers have the choice of acquiring the Bounce Infinity E1 at a highly affordable price without the battery and use Bounce’s battery swapping network instead. Customers pay for battery swaps, whenever they swap an empty battery with a fully-charged one from Bounce’s extensive swapping network. This pushes the running costs of the scooter down substantially, by as much as 40 percent compared to conventional scooters. The Bounce Infinity E1 will also be offered with a battery, which can be removed from the scooter and charged by customers at their home or office or wherever convenient.

Bounce has been setting up a wide battery-swapping network through prominent partnerships, which will serve both its retail customers and its successful ride-sharing business. The ambition is to build the world’s largest and densest battery swapping platform to support India’s transition to clean mobility, and offer a swapping facility within one-kilometer distance for its customers.

Mr. Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO and Co-founder, Bounce said, “I strongly believe in the potential of electric vehicles in India – it is with this vision that we launched our in-house EV mobility solutions in June 2019. Today, we are building on our success, and to facilitate faster adoption of EVs, Bounce has taken a step ahead to develop the Infinity E1. We are committed to taking on all challenges to make India a leading EV adopter globally.”

Hallekere further added, “The Bounce Infinity E1 is designed and engineered to cater to the evolving needs of electric scooter customers in India. Our advanced ‘Made in India’ scooter will come equipped with enhanced state-of-the-art equipment and intelligent features. We are glad to announce that we are the first and only ones to provide both options – to swap batteries from our network as well as charge-at-home – for the Infinity E1.”

The Bounce Infinity E1 comes in five exciting colour options: Sporty Red, Sparkle Black, Pearl White, Desat Silver and Comed Grey. Pre-bookings started on Thursday, with deliveries slated for March 2022 through its dealership network and its online platform, for seamless deliveries across India. It will come equipped with a comprehensive warranty of 3 years, up to 50,000 kms.

Design: The Bounce Infinity E1 achieves elegance and simplicity while ensuring maximum performance. Convenience and safety have been kept in mind while delivering a thrilling ride for the commuter.

With a strong desire and determination to address the need to bring ease of commuting to people across many categories like small businesses, college students, office-goers, etc., Bounce was launched in 2018. A blend of advanced digital solutions with a seamless operations network on the ground helped Bounce become India’s largest smart mobility solution.

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INDIA LOOKING TO STRENGTHEN BILATERAL RELATIONS ON UAE’S 50TH NATIONAL DAY

The Expo has played a pivotal role in the recovery from the repercussions of the pandemic; bilateral trade is gradually seeing signs of picking up and is expected to reach pre-Covid levels soon.

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The India Pavilion yesterday marked the UAE’s 50th National Day and will be presenting an array of cultural performances showcasing a unique fusion of India’s and UAE’s culture.

India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles and Leader of House in Rajya Sabha, Shri Piyush Goyal said in a tweet message: “I extend my best wishes to the leadership & people of UAE on the occasion of their 50th National Day. India Pavilion @Expo2020Dubai is a testament to solid bonds of friendship & extensive cooperation India & UAE share. Wishing 50 more years of peace & prosperity.”

The UAE National Day celebrations will be hosted at the Amphitheatre at India Pavilion. Various dance groups including Balle Balle Dubai, The Punjabi Dance Group and Dhol Tasha will perform at the ceremony to highlight India’s festive spirit and its support to the UAE, an important strategic partner for India.

H. E. Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, congratulated UAE on its 50th National Day, and said, “UAE is one of India’s most valued partners. The two nations have always shared a commitment to openness, peaceful coexistence and social harmony that are based on their cultural traditions, spiritual values and shared heritage.”

UAE’s 50th National Day is of great importance to India as it was on 2nd December 1971 when the bilateral relations between the two countries strengthened with the unification of the UAE and the Federation coming into place; exactly 50 years ago. The cultural performances will include the dance groups presenting an amalgamation of Indian dances with Arabic Music, representing the true essence of the UAE and its achievements in the last 50 years and the peaceful co-existence of varied cultures in one nation.

India is UAE’s second-largest trading partner, and the total volume of trade was estimated at USD 43 billion in 2020-21. India and the UAE are working together relentlessly to ensure long-term growth in the coming years. India has commenced negotiations with the UAE to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which will help in leveraging the complementarities in trade between the two countries and see a quantum jump in the bilateral merchandise trade as well.

The Expo2020 Dubai has been a catalyst for a stronger collaboration between India and the UAE and continues to grow and strengthen further. Besides showcasing India as an important destination on an international platform, the Expo has played a pivotal role in the recovery from the repercussions of the pandemic, the bilateral trade is gradually seeing signs of picking up and is expected to reach pre-covid level soon.

Both India and the UAE are optimistic to deepen the trade ties despite the inherent challenges. The synergies, shared vision and complementary strengths of India and the UAE present a rare opportunity to contribute to the progress of not only our two countries, but also for the larger region and the world.

The year 2021 has been an important milestone as India is celebrating its 75th year of Independence and the UAE is celebrating its 50th year of unification. This auspicious year is a stepping stone to an even stronger strategic partnership that will resonate with success in the years to come.

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India’s finest carpets, now adding life to homes in Mumbai

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Obeetee rugs have brightened homes and lifestyles for decades on end, infusing them with an impeccable sense of grandeur. Revered across the globe, Obeetee carpets continue to prosper in both Indian and international marketplaces. After taking the western world by storm, the brand now has its eyes set on capturing markets on the home turf. Mumbai the financial capital of India, is hence an obvious choice for opening their brand-new store.

‘Obeetee’ Mumbai Store

Rudra Chatterjee, Chairman, Obeetee, said, “We are firm believers of what Obeetee stands for and the value that it adds to lives and homes. Our mission to weave its brilliance into the country began with the Obeetee store in Delhi and is now reaching new heights with our new store in Mumbai. We put our heart and soul into each store to ensure it encapsulates what Obeetee is and the Mumbai store captures every essence of it. This launch is another huge step in our expansion plan and we are honored to be launching it for the world to see.”

Speaking about the new store launch, Angelique Dhama, CEO, Obeetee Retail, said, “Created with the most detailed and artisanal craftsmanship using the purest and most natural forms of materials, Obeetee carpets are unlike any other. After the overwhelming response that we received for our Delhi store, it gives us immense pleasure to expand our reach in Mumbai. We are delighted to be expanding in the home ground of the brand and enabling more people to enter this beautiful world of tradition, aesthetics and opulence. The Mumbai store has been designed with the utmost detail and crystal-clear vision and we are ecstatic to open our doors and welcome you to experience it.”

Obeetee has opened a retail store in Mumbai’s Famous Studio Worli, which attracts some of India’s most affluent crowds. The store is set within a beautiful space of approximately 3000 square feet. Characterised by room in-room experiences, the store makes the customer go on a personalized and warm soiree at all times and we call it the ‘Makers Manor. The modern luxury setting amplifies the experience of the finer details of the legacy of Obeetee and its impeccable craftsmanship. The interiors and façade have been transpired through an intricate depiction of warping of a carpet.

The store also boasts of customised lighting suitable for all times in the day and has incorporated the use of kinetic fixtures that enable customers to see the carpets vertically in its whole avatar. The contemporary use of this in-house technology helps the customer see thousands of designs at one click and is called “Carpet Diem”. This Mumbai store is set to be one of ten exclusive retail stores that Obeetee aims to open across the country in the next 3 years.

This luxurious experience is elevated to greater heights when you simultaneously sip and feel the aromatic whirlwind of specially handpicked Makai Bari tea from Obeetee’s own tea estates. We invite you to come and experience an all-encompassing experience with us.

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 recognised 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 color-fast 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’s education, women’s vocational training, public health, and sanitation, to numerous environmentally conscious efforts, Obeetee is by the people, of the people, for the people.

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SPORTS AL DENTE TO DISTRIBUTE FREE JERSEYS

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Sports Al Dente is a rapidly growing sports news and updates website that attracts over a million site visits each month. The website’s impressive numbers are in large part due to the credibility it champions in its coverage. Sports Al Dente boasts about its exclusive content curated by dedicated sports enthusiasts and analysts.

From post-game discussions to analysis and exhaustive match reports, the website has witnessed significant growth in terms of the type of content it publishes each day. Along with providing sports fans all around the world with reliable and unbiased news, the website has now decided to venture out of cyberspace and cater to the underprivileged and masses deprived of proper sports and games facilities. In a partnership with its sister company OtakuRage, Sports Al Dente is now seeking to distribute free jerseys to the underprivileged of society. The initiative by Al Dente comes after the company decided to expand its reach to other parts of India and beyond. Based in Surat, the website has been catering to masses all over the world. The overarching mission of Al Dente has been to popularise sports and games in general. While the Indian sports scene does have a large number of athletes and enthusiasts with a keen interest in various sports, the fledgling facilities and general lack of awareness have been a massive roadblock. Sports Al Dente’s latest partnership with OtakuRage is the company’s efforts at combating the prevailing issues with the Indian sports scene.

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CANHEAL TO OFFER A WIDE RANGE OF TEAS FOR CANCER FIGHTERS

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CanHeal, a one-of-its-kind platform and e-commerce portal for all the life needs of cancer fighters and winners, on wednesday added a wide range of Darjeeling, Green and Herbal teas having health benefits for cancer fighters.

CanHeal has tied up with Darjeeling Sips to offer a large variety of tea sourced directly from tea estates in Darjeeling and the surrounding areas. CanHeal has also added to its portfolio of accessories a range of Chemo Pillows and custom-designed Chemo Bag. Explaining the additions to a wide range of products already available on the CanHeal portal, Anchal Sharma, Founder of CanHeal said, “CanHeal launched its e-commerce and community portal couple of months ago intending with an objective to offer all those products that cancer fighters and winners require to live their life with verve. During my fight against cancer, I came to know of the health benefits of tea in addition to its taste as I was always a fan of Darjeeling Sips sourced directly from tea estates that grow and brew a variety of tea in a socially responsible and planet-friendly way, hence the best fit for cancer fighters.”

“We have also added some smart products to our range of accessories – chemo bag that has been custom designed to hold all that is required during the day-long chemo sessions and pillows that include seat belt pillows, port pillow, armpit pillow and all-in-one comfort pillow to meet the cushioning needs arising due to cancer of different parts of the body. CanHeal is committed to continue adding new products to meet all the needs of cancer fighters at one source.”

CanHeal is in discussion with multiple brands to further expand the range of specially curated products for cancer fighters and winners.CanHeal is a one-of-its-kind Indian e-platform exclusively designed to serve the life needs of Cancer fighters and winners. CanHeal offers a range of Skincare, Body care & Haircare products, Apparel, Food & Nutrition Supplements to enhance immunity and regain strength and Accessories designed specifically for the comfort of patients undergoing treatment and cancer winners having special needs. This product range has been curated by Anchal Sharma.

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Top five upcoming developers changing the skyline of Delhi NCR

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MRG World (Gurugram), Whiteland Corporation (Gurugram), Maasters Infra (Noida), SKA Group (Noida), and Axon Developers emerged as the ‘Top Five Emerging Developers of NCR’ in the list announced by a Delhi-based research firm.

The survey was conducted by International Brand & Research Forum (IBRF) across the region with a special focus on projects launched, projects delivered, and progress of the projects as per RERA; IBRF researched the quality and feedback index on various parameters to come up with the result. The prime focus was on the developers operating in Noida and Gurugram market. Maasters Infra Group, instituted by seasoned professionals and under the patronage of five-decade-old infra company K. R. A. Engineers & Contractors, announced their first commercial project Maasters Capitol Avenue spread over 5 acres in Sector 63, Noida. The project will have office space and retail; the project’s total area would be 10,00,000 sq. ft. to be completed in 42 to 45 months. The company says that the total sales realisation from the project is between Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore. The Group is also coming up with a residential project and one IT project.

Whiteland Corporation, a real estate development company founded by industry stalwart, Mr. Navdeep JP Sardana unveiled the first look of their maiden commercial project Urban Cubes 71 recently in Gurugram. Some of the brands signed, include Striker, Beer Cafe, Nostalgia, Houz Cafe & Bar. The project on Golf Course Road extension, Sector 71, Gurugram, is on a land parcel of about 3 acres acquired from DLF. Urban Cubes 71 is an approved SCO (Shop-cum-Office) development with a total of 34 state-of-art buildings with maximum development facing the main road making it highly attractive. The project is slated to be delivered by October 2022 with a total salable area of 4.5 lac sq. ft. and a projected sales value of Rs. 500 crore.

Realty firm Axon Developers, which has been newly set up by promoters of brokerage firm 360 Realtors, has recently taken over two stressed real estate projects in Delhi-NCR and will invest over Rs. 300 crore to complete them. The company has entered into a development agreement to complete Keltech Kumar Imperial Green project, comprising 350 flats at Noida extension in Uttar Pradesh. It has fully acquired a retail project ‘Manish Gallexie 91’, having 3.5 lakh square feet saleable area, in Gurugram from Manish Buildwell. The company expects a sales realisation of around Rs. 650 crore from these two projects, of which Rs. 500 crores will come from retail projects. Axon Developers is looking at acquiring more projects in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Lucknow, both through greenfield and brownfield routes.

SKA GROUP was formed with a view to construct group housing society in Greater Noida-West. SKA Group was started in the year 2012. Recently, the Group announced its luxury residential project, SKA Orion in Sector-143, Noida. Spread over 3.5 acres, the cost of the project is Rs. 400 crore out of which Rs. 300 crore is the cost of construction and Rs. 100 crore is the land cost. The Group is looking at total sales realisation of approximately Rs. 450 crore. To be developed in single-phase, the project has 508 units of 3 BHK configuration; the company has launched 380 units of the total stock and will complete the project by 2026. All projects are completed before time. Presently, five projects are in progress and all projects are ahead of their schedule.

Catering to the affordable housing segment, MRG World has ensured that they live up to the expectations of the middle class to move into their abodes as soon as possible. The directors – Rajat Goel and Vikas Garg – set up the company with a motive to cater to the segment that has the maximum demand. MRG World ensured that they deliver projects before the promised deadline.

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