Before the Uttar Pradesh by-elections, the Opposition targeted the Yogi Adityanath government and threw allegations of casteism at it. The Hathras case also gave them an opportunity to fiercely attack the state government. The Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress felt that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can be pushed back.
However, the election results have shown how their strategies have failed miserably. The BJP won 6 seats out of 7 with a huge margin, which means that the Opposition fell flat in these bypolls. Thus, it might be appropriate to say, “If it is Yogi, it is possible.”
This victory can be seen as the triumph of the policies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In addition to this, the vote difference can be considered the people’s answer to the anti-national and anti-social conspiracies of the Opposition. Those who were calling this by-elections the semi-final of the Assembly election for 2022 are now looking the other way because the people have emphatically supported the slogan of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.
Senior BJP leader and UP’s cabinet minister Mahendra Pratap Singh has given credit for the victory to the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Singh said, “The public has approved the policies and the work of Modi-Yogi once again.” While slamming the Opposition, he said, “The Opposition has been defeated because of their negative thinking and politics. People have rejected them.”
The vote percentage of the SP, BSP and Congress underlines that electorates have eliminated the status of the Opposition. For the Bangarmau seat, the BJP got more than 40 per cent of the votes, while SP got around 20 per cent, Congress got 22 and BSP only 10 per cent of the votes. In Bulandshahar, the BSP got 33 per cent votes and the Congress got only 5 per cent, against BJP’s 44 per cent votes. In Deoria, the BJP got more than 40 per cent votes, while the SP got 28, BSP got 12 and Congress got 2 per cent votes. In Ghatampur, the SP got 14, Congress 23 and BSP 21 per cent votes, in comparison to the BJP’s 39 per cent votes. In Naugawan Sadat, the BJP got 42 per cent votes, while SP got 34, BSP got 18 and Congress got only 2 per cent votes. In Tundela, the SP got 30 per cent votes and the BSP got just 22 per cent against the BJP’s vote share of more than 40 per cent. All this is to reiterate that the people of the state have once again rejected the Opposition.
The BJP stayed a step ahead by keeping a close eye on each seat. Everyone’s role was decided, from the top leadership to the ground level worker. BJP leaders worked by planning their moves. The Chief Minister, the two Deputy CMs, the state president and all other BJP office bearers camped in the seats. BJP leaders of nearby districts along with leaders of each religious group and caste held corner meetings and campaigned door to door. This is the strategy which worked.
If we analyse the performance of the Opposition, we find that all parties have their own weaknesses. Despite all its tricks, the Congress scored a zero. It somehow managed to stand in second place in the Bangarmau and Ghatampur seats, where it was defeated with a margin of 31,000 and 2,400 respectively. In other seats, its presence was negligible. Meanwhile, the SP, which has been making tall claims, barely managed to save the Malhani constituency. The margin of victory was around 5,000 votes. The SP stood at number two on three seats. It lost Deoria constituency by more than 20,000 votes. The SP also lost the Naugavan Sadat seat with a margin of 16,000 votes. It was in a bad situation in Tundla too. Hence, the voters proved that the BJP’s magic is intact in UP, made clear by the party defeating the SP by 18,000 votes.
The SP initially claimed that it would win 3 out of 4 seats but this didn’t happen. The SP could win only the Malhani seat. The reason behind the victory of SP candidate Lucky Yadav was not the party’s charisma, but sympathy for his father, Parasnath Yadav. In the Assembly election of 2017 too, the SP had won the Malhani seat. According to political experts, the reason for the party’s defeat this time is the mistake the party made in candidate selection and the aloofness of the party president, Akhilesh Yadav, towards the bypolls.
Now, the pertinent question is whether Akhilesh will learn a lesson from this defeat. If the SP wants to stop the juggernaut of the BJP in the 2022 Assembly election, then, first of all, it should think about renewing the party organisation. It should bring dedicated workers to the forefront and sideline inactive office bearers at the district level. Candidates should also be finalised based on the feedback of ground-level workers rather than the advice of the leaders who sit in AC rooms.
As far as BSP is concerned, the elephant seems to have been marginalised in the politics of Uttar Pradesh. BSP candidates have failed to prove the party’s presence. The BSP didn’t do anything except file a nomination. And the party does not mind getting a zero too. In 2014, BSP supremo Mayawati had scored a zero and the same story was repeated this time. The bypolls jolted Mayawati into action, leading her to announce that they will teach a lesson to the SP, but the party was not seen as a strong competitor on any of seven seats.
Mayawati had also said that BSP could support BJP to teach SP a lesson, although BJP did not show any interest in allying with her. On the other hand, this statement adversely affected her vote share too. Mayawati also didn’t campaign in any of the seven seats. Except for BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, no senior leaders campaigned on the ground. Mayawati could have made a favourable situation by holding one public meeting in each seat. Now, amid so many questions, the most important one is how she will compete in the UP Assembly election in 2022.
The Opposition parties targeted the BJP government on several issues during these by-elections. Before the election, there were sharp attacks on the government on issues of law and order. The Opposition ran a campaign to prove that the Yogi government is anti-Dalit and anti-Brahmin, but they failed to dent the public’s support for the Yogi government. The people have expressed complete faith in Yogi’s leadership once again, and made it evident that the energy of the BJP has had a boost in Uttar Pradesh.
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Four Gujarat metros stare at weekend daytime curfew
Curfew is currently in place in four metros of Gujarat during the night, but in view of the deteriorating condition of Covid-19 in the state, the government is considering imposing daytime curfew in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, paan shops, tea kettles, snacks, as well as street food outlets, which are found to be a major breach of social distance, may be banned altogether.
An official announcement has not been made yet, but a decision may be taken at a core committee meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday. Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary of the state Home Department Pankaj Kumar has said that the news of lockdown in the state again on social media is false and the government has no such consideration.
Chief Minister Rupani had earlier said in a conference with the Prime Minister that the number of Covid beds in other cities, including Ahmedabad, has been increased to 55,000, of which 82% or 45,000 beds are vacant. The number of Dhanvantari chariots for treatment in Covid affected areas has been increased to 1,700. More than 125 kiosks and 74 urban health centres in Ahmedabad are undergoing continuous corona tests, with an estimated 11 lakh tests so far, while around 70,000 tests are being conducted daily in the state. The number of people attending weddings and public ceremonies has also been reduced from 200 to 100.
The CM said that the state government has taken immediate steps to curb the transmission of corona, as part of which a weekend curfew was first implemented in Ahmedabad city with the increase in corona cases. In addition, night curfew has been imposed in Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot from 9 pm to 6 am, which will continue till the situation is brought under control. The number of weddings and public ceremonies in the state has also been reduced from 200 to 100, while 50 people have been allowed to attend funerals.
Ahmed Patel buried next to his parents’ grave, Rahul attends funeral
Ahmed Patel was laid to rest at his native village in Gujarat’s Bharuch district on Thursday. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended the funeral after landing at Surat Airport on Thursday morning.Ahmed Patel, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Piraman village in Ankleshwar taluka of Bharuch district, has passed away at the age of 71. As per his wish, he was buried next to his parents’ grave in Piramana village. Maulana Maulana Rahman of Piraman village told The Daily Guardian, “He is no longer with us today. Still cannot believe. He took society along and walked together. He used to call them Ahmedbhai, whether they were young or old and belonged to any party. The entire Ankleshwar taluka is in mourning.”Patel’s mortal remains reached Piraman from Vadodara and he was laid to rest at a Muslim cemetery on Thursday. The mortal remains reached Vadodara airport Wednesday night and were kept at the Sardar Patel Hospital at Ankleshwar town of Bharuch district.Ahmed Patel, a close confidant of Sonia Gandhi and her political adviser, was suffering from Covid-19 infection. He died of multiple organ failure at 3.30 am on Wednesday. He was admitted to the ICU at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram on Sunday, where he breathed his last.Patel came from a political family, though he kept his children away. He started his political career in 1976 from Bharuch, Gujarat, trying his luck in the local arena and quickly became close to Indira Gandhi. Later, he remained close to Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi.Ahmed Patel was born in 1949 in the house of Mohammad Ishaqji Patel and Hawaben Mohammad Bhai. His father was a member of Bharuch taluka panchayat and was a renowned leader in the area. Patel’s father helped him a lot in building a political career. In 1976, Ahmed Patel married Memuna Ahmed. They had two children, a son and a daughter. However, both have stayed away from politics. Son Faisal Patel has a business, while daughter Mumtaz Patel is married to Irfan Siddiqui, a lawyer.
Entrepreneurship is the art of grabbing opportunities and solving problems: Prathamesh Gosavi
Prathamesh Gosavi, co-founder of Bots ‘N’ Brains, shares the vision behind the company and
his insights on the medical device industry, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prathamesh Gosavi, co-founder, Bots ‘N’ Brains, is building the world’s first full-stack ER&D ecosystem for the medical devices industry. In an exclusive conversation with NewsX, Gosavi said, “India’s R&D ecosystem is in shambles. We have made huge strides in the digital world but we are highly reliant on foreign technology—a case in point being the medical devices market in India, which is the fourth-largest in Asia. It is worth around $11 billion right now and is going to become a $60 billion dollar market by 2025. Yet, we very generously import more than 80% of all our domestic consumption. We have around 800 manufacturers in India, but an average turnover of just five to seven crores rupees. To reduce this need for imports and to help our manufacturers level up their game, we work as research and product development partners to build select medical device technologies, along with all the necessary support required, from concept to commercialisation.”“We are planning to build and commercialise at least 1,000 medical device technologies by 2025 in partnership with these Indian manufacturers as well as all other interested parties who want to start their manufacturing businesses in India. The biggest challenge in this is the high cost of failure and the limited access to the right tools, the right talent in training. This will probably make us India’s first true physical medical device company,” he added.Gosavi further shared his take on the ER&D ecosystem in India and important industry introspection. “To be very blunt, the ER&D ecosystem is not good by any parameters. We are a country of 1.25 billion population producing more than 15 million STEM graduates and we take pride in how our fellow countrymen and women are leading some of the biggest tech companies in the world. We aspire to compete with the likes of the US and China on technology leadership. But we have hardly 200 researchers per billion population. The US has more than 4,000 researchers per million. China is equivalent in terms of population, but they also have 1,600 researchers per million,” he informed.“Just last year, Indians filed only 15,000 patents, as compared to 600,000 reviewers and 1.6 million patents in China. More importantly, our academic institutes, which generally are the hotbed of research and innovation, are at least 20 years behind the technology challenges our industry faces right now. Countries like the US and China have grown into these economic payments on the backbone of their academic institutes transferring breakthrough research and technologies to the industry. So, there is a huge amount of work which is cut out for us,” he continued.Gosavi also talked about his entrepreneurial journey and some much-needed mantras for young minds out there wanting to make an impact. “I always feel that this is the best gift I have received. More than 80% of my engineering batch-mates have settled abroad. Even I was asked all the time about my plans to move to countries like Germany, the UK and the US. But I had one very simple answer: there are so many opportunities in India. I’ve always believed that trade is the basic fabric that ties this entire society together. And to be able to trade, one needs to identify someone else’s problem as an opportunity,” he shared. “Entrepreneurship is nothing but the art of grabbing these opportunities and solving problems at state,” he added.Talking about the contribution Bots ‘N’ Brains made during the pandemic, the co-founder elaborated, “Covid was probably the biggest blessing in disguise for us. For starters, very few people would say that. It exposed a new set of vulnerabilities in our economy, for which we needed solutions yesterday. We missed out on the first Industrial Revolution, but that’s not an excuse for policymakers. We also did a lot of research on different sanitisation technologies. Testing technologies, vaccines which are being developed, and benchmarking all the different drugs which will be repurposed for Covid treatment. Many of these reports are still available free of cost on our website.”“During one of these researches, we came across a very peculiar candidate, an Asian drug with an amazing safety profile and super effective in curbing the replication of a virus in the body. We shared our findings with the government bodies and actively consulted different stakeholders and presented all evidence. Now this drug is widely used across the country which gives a sense of pride in us, to know that a small team sitting out here in Pune could make such a significant impact in such dire times,” Gosavi further said.
I have always been used to lockdowns, says Deepa Malik
Deepa Malik, an Indian athlete and the winner of several awards including the Padma Shri
and the Arjuna Award, talks about the impact of Covid-19 on her life and other athletes.
Indian athlete and the first Indian woman to become a Paralympic medallist, Deepa Malik, joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation. Addressing the ongoing pandemic, Deepa said, “By the grace of God, I have always been used to lockdowns. I faced my first lockdown when I was a five-year-old and in a hospital, admitted for a year at a go as a young little girl, in an era when there were no laptops, iPads, Netflix or mobile phones. Secondly, my daughter had an accident as a very young child and got hemiplegia. So, with her, I had to be grounded too.”Deepa’s paralysis in 1999 left her bed-ridden for two years, a time when she was not even made to sit because she had to go through major surgeries in her spine. “With urine bags and everything around me, all I could see was the ceiling. I was not even made to turn around, except to change diapers. So, mentally, I have always been prepared for a lockdown or being a social recluse,” said Deepa.Deepa went on to say, “Being a sportswoman, every time you are getting ready to win a medal for 130 crore Indians, you have to go under lockdown. You have to eat very consciously, work towards your immunity, exercise, do meditation, because focus is important in winning a big medal. And you are under such a strict regime that you have no time to socialize. So, for me, the lockdown has not been a very unprecedented situation in the way of mental stress, but, of course, Covid was new and my role in Covid was very new, because, in February I had taken over as the president of the Paralympic Committee of India. It was a transition for me, from being an athlete to entering an administrative role. That was a totally new learning experience.”Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on athletes, Malik said that India still does not have the infrastructure or the public transportation to aid physically challenged people move smoothly outside their homes. She said that they do not have endto-end accessibility in most parts of the country. She addressed the problems faced by athletes who are below the poverty line. However, looking at the positive aspect of this, Deepa said that the athletes learnt to use video calling mobile applications during this pandemic. According to Deepa, they were able to communicate with each other more than they ever did before.Deepa Malik has received a number of awards in the last decade for her work. Some of those awards are the Padma Shri, the Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and the Women Transforming India award. Deepa thinks that her entire journey has been aimed at changing mindsets. “So, when the United Nations, Niti Aayog, the Prime Minister, and jury chose me to receive an award that says ‘Women Transforming India’, that was very dear to me. It was received by my father and that was the day he asked everyone to pray for me and said that he had faith that I’ll bring everyone a medal. And on the 12th (September 2016), I won it.”
REWRITING THE ART OF COMMUNICATION
Swarleen Kaur and Shefali Chopra from the Talk Room, in an interview with NewsX for its special segment, NewsX A-List, emphasise how important it is for the youth of the country to brush up their communication skills.
Swarleen Kaur and Shefali Chopra recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview for its special segment NewsX A-List. Swarleen Kaur is an author and the founder and CEO of a platform called Talk Room, while Shefali Chopra is a storyteller and a TedX speaker.
Swarleen started by talking about Talk Room. “As the name suggests, Talk Room is all about ‘talking’. Talk suggests, we converse, we communicate and we confer. Being a personality development coach and being an educator for a long time now, I was thinking of students and the youth of our country, that how important it is to build our personality, how important it is to communicate. Once I was out in Ludhiana. I saw a drawing-room in a furniture shop and then I saw the reading room. I said I’m going to build the Talk Room and here we are going to talk sense, we are going to talk about opening our hearts and you know much about learning, how to talk.
So that’s Talk Room all about and how it is,” she said.Shefali got associated with the Talk Room and Swarleen during the pandemic. She said, “I met Swarleen during pandemic itself and we got into a conversation or as Swarleen says, we got into ‘talking’ and then we realised that we have a similar passion. I am a storyteller, I am a motivational speaker and a TEDx speaker too, I am a theatre exponent and I realised I too could contribute a lot to the Talk Room. We also realised we have a similar value system and ethics too. I mean that’s how our bond became stronger by the day.”
Sharleen spoke about a project that turned out as a watershed moment in her business. She said, “The International Children’s Summit actually came from children only. I was taking their class and they were sitting and talking about their annual days and the fates, all this going on in their school in the month of November and how they missed it. So we just had a talk with the team and they said that let’s create it for them and there were almost 40 to 50 students who volunteered to be hosts and the student panels and we could see the excitement back. Then, we started to talk about it to many educators and they said that it was a wonderful idea and they gave us a green signal and they wanted their schools to be associated with us. That’s how this International Summit came to being actually, but the main focus was to tell the children that whether it is pandemic or any kind of difficulty, the only thing that matters is, don’t stop because if the youth stops, you know the nation stops. The major thing was to motivate them that whatever the situation is, we can just bring back our good times, again and again.”
Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the functioning of events, Shefali said, “There has been a lot of impacts but we realised when we started doing this session, the Children Summit, we had about 8 countries participating with us, children coming from 8 countries, we had more than 60 panellists, we had a great jury, we had amazing people who joined as our chief guests. So, there was no looking back for us. I think, suddenly the world became small and actually if you ask me this is the time to learn every day. I always say we learn every day, we unlearn and we relearn. So, that is our mantra and we are not going to quit, so definitely, don’t quit.”
Explaining Talk Room’s vision, Swarleen said, “We devised a plan beneath LSRW, which stands for Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. When children pass out class 12, they look for IELTS course when they have to go abroad. So we thought of implanting it at the right age, children from class 2 to 3 have also started to do this course and we are so happy that we are already catering students from Singapore, Dubai, Japan and also from Riyadh.”
Further, Swarleen spoke about who all can benefit from the Talk Room. “It’s for the youth, corporates, trainers, women and it’s for any housewife sitting at home thinking that she can’t do it. Let me tell you, we all can do it. So it’s for everyone who wants to learn communication, we do stress at youth because they are the nation builders and they definitely look ahead to get into something that they’re lacking in. So, everyone who comes to us is going to benefit in one or the other way,” said Swarleen.
Adding to what Swarleen said, Shefali expressed, “It’s for everybody and especially for those who think they missed out on doing something they really wanted to do, this is a good time. All such people should come here and rediscover themselves.”
A marine commando recounting 26/11 attacks from ground zero
A minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how a team of MARCOS entered the Taj, and how one of its bravehearts confronted the terrorists and was nearly killed.
Decorated with the Shaurya Chakra for his role in rescuing hostages, Praveen Kumar Teotia was one of the MARCOS—Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy—who fought the terrorists holed up in the Taj during the 26/11 attacks, suffered near-fatal injuries and, in the end, saved hundreds of lives. Teotia, in his book, narrates a minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how his team entered the Taj, how he confronted the terrorists and how he was nearly killed. Excerpt:
It was a usual Mumbai evening. Walking past the Leopold Café, I was headed towards the Gateway of India. The majestic Taj stood gazing at the Arabian Sea, overwhelming the tourists below. Bewildered by its imposing structure, I looked at the Taj and marvelled at its beauty. The people inside must be living such a luxurious life, I thought to myself and sighed.
It was 8 pm and the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea looked calm. Heading towards my naval base, I had one final look at the area. Some pigeons fluttered past, a policeman whistled and a hawker packed his belongings for the day. The neon-lit surrounding would now illuminate some late-night lovebirds, looking for their private space in this insomniac city. Life looked picturesque and undisturbed. Who would have known that an hour from then, death would spread its dirty tentacles, choking life out of this picture? Who would have imagined that ten men from Pakistan would come sailing through the Arabian Sea in a small boat and would launch the most dastardly attack on the city? And hardly would have I imagined that few hours from now, I will be facing these fidayeen, inside the Taj, eye to eye, and my life would change forever.
I entered the room. It was dark and silent. Ever since we had entered the Taj, there was death and mayhem around us—in the halls, the corridors, the reception area. The lazy opulence of the place had been disrupted and what stood before us was a shaken Taj. Bullet-ridden bodies were lying amidst the inferno and bloodbath. Some lucky survivors had to be pulled out with corpses lying on top of them, an experience that would torment them for life. Imagine your loved one or a complete stranger lying breathless on top of you. What could you do? Push it as if the person didn’t mean anything to you? Or just lie down with your eyes closed, smelling blood and feeling the unmoving mound of flesh on top of you, waiting to either die or be rescued?
Everything about the majestic Taj that day was pale and morbid, but the atmosphere of the room we had just entered was sinister. Danger was very close and years of my training and times spent in real operations told me that something was not right in this room. I could sense danger lurking somewhere. I became more vigil. But nothing was visible.
I was leading the team and behind me, roughly at a distance of a metre and a half, was my buddy. Third in the line was Sunil Kudiyadi, our navigator for the night. Without him, it would have been very difficult to manoeuvre through the Taj. Behind Mr Kudiyadi, there were two more commandos, Ranjeet and Ashok, and even though our friend, the security manager, had no weapon to himself, he was safely ensconced between the armed commandos. His calm demeanour was noteworthy as it helped us focus more. Mr Kudiyadi was also one of the commandos that day, albeit without an army fatigue.
One more step and I was consumed by complete darkness now. I was carrying my weapon in my right hand and with the left hand, I tried exploring the wall. ‘Where is the light switch?’ I quietly asked Kudiyadi. ‘Should be ahead.’ All of us were groping in the dark.
My left hand was now touching the wall and it provided me with support and acted as my guide while moving ahead. I was taking each step very slowly and quietly, with my eyes ocussing in the darkness. After ten to twelve cautious steps I heard a sound.
These were, in fact, two sounds coming from two different sources. It was the sound of safety catches of two AK-47s being removed. The AK-47 is one of the first true assault rifles and, due to its durability, low production cost and ease of use, the weapon and its numerous variants remain the most widely used assault rifles in the world. To fire, the operator inserts a loaded magazine, moves the selector lever to the lowest position, pulls back and releases the charging handle, aims and then pulls the trigger. In this setting, the weapon fires only once, often called semiautomatic, which requires the trigger to be released and depressed again for the next shot. With the selector in the middle position (full-automatic), the rifle continues to fire, automatically cycling fresh rounds into the chamber, until the magazine is exhausted or the pressure is released from the trigger.
The first click indicated that the attacking weapon was in single shot. The second click meant that it was now in ‘burst’ mode and with a single press of the trigger the entire magazine could be emptied. The standard magazine capacity is thirty rounds, which mean thirty bullets at once racing towards the target. Gauging by the extent of this planned assault, it was clear that the terrorists knew they were facing an army or commandos, and not ordinary citizens. They wanted to ensure maximum damage in minimum time.
I swiftly bent down a bit. They had been in this darkened room for a while, hence they must have adapted. They were able to now see the movement in the dark. With enough time, our eyes can adapt and see the low levels of light present in partial darkness. Human eyes take several hours to fully adapt to darkness and reach their optimal sensitivity to low-light conditions. The quickest gains in vision sensitivity are made in the first few minutes after exposure to darkness. For this reason, many people think that after only a few minutes, their eyes have reached their peak sensitivity. But after several hours of exposure to darkness, the eyes continue to adapt and make small gains in sensitivity. My attackers thus had an edge over me.
I, however, had just entered the room and the surroundings were unfamiliar for me. I felt a table and hid myself behind it, trying to locate the direction of the sound. It was coming from the right side of the room. My cheek placed neatly on the butt of my weapon and my fingers on the trigger, I now aimed towards the direction from where the sound was coming from. With my eyes focussing hard to decipher even an iota of movement, I was ready to take my shot. And suddenly there was a flash. The flash was followed by the sound of burst fire that was directed at me. The staccato of burst shots filled the room, leaving a deafening silence in the room.
My weapon was in single-shot mode and I immediately fired three to four shots. In a split second, it was all over.
I had been shot.
Excerpts from the book, ‘26/11 Braveheart: My Encounter With Terrorists That Night’ (Rupa).
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