Covid Crisis Not Over Yet, 3rd Wave To Be Lethal: CSIR

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Dr Shekhar C Mande on Sunday warned that the COVID-19 crisis is far from being over and allowing a ‘third wave’ by lowering our guard is fraught with grave consequences.

Mande was speaking on ‘India’s response to COVID-19 from S and T perspective’ at virtual ‘National Science Day Lecture’ organised by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram.

The CSIR DG clarified that India is nowhere near achieving herd immunity and as people should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hand hygiene to stay away from getting infected by the virus.

Cautioning the people and the scientific community against allowing ‘complacency to set in’, he warned that a third wave will precipitate a far more dangerous situation than the challenge the country had faced so far.

Answering questions from the scientific community, Mande expressed the hope that the Covid-19 vaccines would be effective against the Covid-19 virus variants.

“We would like to believe that the vaccines are ‘effective’ against the variants as the vaccines worked against the entire part of the virus while the mutation took place on a part of the virus,” Mande said.

“The prevalence of COVID-19 cases had come down not because of herd immunity, but because of other reasons, including wearing of masks and people remaining outdoors during the winter. The fact that the virus remained suspended in the air in closed areas and it lost its potency in open areas helped a great deal in controlling the spread during the winter,” the CSIR DG explained.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), there are 1,64,511 active cases of COVID-19 in India till 8pm today.

“1,07,75,169 people have recovered from COVID-19 in India whereas 1,57,051have succumbed to the virus,” MoHFW informed.

1,43,01,266 heathcare and frontline workers have been vaccinated across the country till now, the ministry said. (ANI)

India Becoming Hub Of Covid-19 Vaccine: Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said India is emerging as the ‘COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing hub of the world’.

While addressing the Global Indian Physicians Congress, organized by the Global Association for Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), through video conference today, Harsh Vardhan praised the contribution of medical professionals in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the world faced the unprecedented crisis of COVID19, it has been our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have cemented their position as the foremost champions of humanity, saving humankind as it was staring at an existential crisis. I salute their courage, valour and selflessness in serving society,” he said.

“No words are enough to express gratitude towards all the Corona Warriors, who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. It’s unfortunate and a great personal loss for me that so many of them lost their lives during this time,” he said.

In this context, Harsh Vardhan also noted GAPIO’s efforts towards establishing the Global Indian Physician COVID-19 Collaborative to continuously share their knowledge and experiences to arrive at the best possible approach for management of COVID-19.

The Health Minister also noted the contribution of scientists and said, “Our scientists have done remarkably well, working round the clock to provide us with two vaccines which are being indigenously manufactured and have been approved for emergency use in India. The world’s largest vaccine drive is underway in the country and is moving forward at a rapid pace with more than 1 crore doses administered already.”

“In what is a remarkable endorsement of our spectacular talent and capabilities, India which is often referred to as the pharmacy of the world is now also emerging as the COVID19 vaccine manufacturing hub of the world,” he added.

Harsh Vardhan took the occasion to highlight the government’s efforts in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been a result of our pre-emptive, proactive and graded approach that India has been able to perform well on various parameters related to COVID-19. We have continuously maintained one of the lowest fatality rates and highest recovery rates across the world,” the Health Minister said.

In this regard, he also noted, “Even with all the attention directed towards managing COVID-19, our government did not lose sight of ensuring continuity of other essential health services. Various policy interventions, as well as, use of technology like telemedicine services played a key role in this regard. Our eSanjeevani platform has recorded millions of doctor-patient consultations in a short span of time.”

Detailing the ongoing work within the Ministry, he said, “We are now working towards further augmenting our healthcare systems through a paradigm shift of policies and overarching programs like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana.”

“A new thinking is taking shape with the establishment of the National Medical Commission, Nursing Commission Bill and National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professions Bills. Ambitious plans have been made for expanding medical colleges and revamping the healthcare infrastructure in India. We are constantly working to revolutionize the delivery mechanism of healthcare services in the country,” he added.

The Union Minister concluded his speech by congratulating all the GAPIO award winners for their outstanding work and extending his best wishes for the success of the Global Indian Physicians Congress. (ANI)

Tikait To Farmers: Keep Your Tractor Ready For Delhi Ride

Amid the ongoing protest against the new farm laws, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday asked the farmers to keep their tractors ready stating that they may have to reach the national capital anytime.

“This is my appeal to farmers that they should continue to work in their fields and also keep their tractors ready with their tanks full of oil as they may have to come to Delhi anytime,” he told reporters here.
He alleged that the Centre formulated the new farm laws without the consent of the farmers and demanded the government to take back the laws.

“You formulate laws without asking us, and then ask us to point out the shortcomings. When the entire laws are black then they should be taken back. They (Centre) want to lock grains inside a locker, want to do business on hunger in the country, then that will not happen,” the farmer leader said.

“It is necessary to hold mahapanchayats across the country because this is the problem of the entire nation. Dharna will also continue alongside these panchayats. As of now, we have planned programs till March 24. We will travel across the country,” Tikait said.

He also asserted that the ‘dharna’ will continue as the government has not agreed with the farmers’ demands.

On February 24, addressing a Kisan mahapanchayat in Rajasthan’s Sikar, Tikait had threatened the Central Government and said that if the three laws are not repealed, the farmers will ‘gherao’ the Parliament on 40 lakh tractors.

Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

Red Fort Violence Handiwork Of BJP, Says Kejriwal

Extending his support to the farmers agitating in the national capital against the three farm laws, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers of perpetrating the violence that took place on Republic Day at Red Fort during farmers’ tractor rally.

He alleged that the Red Fort violence was planned by the BJP and those who hoisted a flag on the monument on the Republic Day were their party workers.
Protesters broke barricades to enter New Delhi and clashed with police in several parts of the national capital during the January 26 ‘tractor rally’ protest organised by the farmers.

The protestors had also entered the iconic Mughal era monument Red Fort and unfurled their flags from its ramparts.

Speaking at a public rally in Meerut, the Delhi Chief Minister said, “The entire Red Fort incident was planned by them. Many people told me that they (demonstrators) were deliberately shown the wrong path as they did not know streets of Delhi. Those who hoisted flag were their (BJP) workers. Our farmers can be anything but anti-nationals.”

He went on to accuse the Centre of filing cases against farmers for carrying out “anti-national activities”.

“Today, BJP’s central government has filed cases against farmers for carrying out anti-national activities. Even Britishers did not have this courage. They call our farmers terrorists,” the AAP chief said.

Cornering the Centre for not withdrawing the central farm laws, Kejriwal termed these legislations as “death warrant” for farmers.

“Centre’s three farm laws are death warrant for farmers. The government wants to take away their lands and give them to 3-4 capitalists. Farmers will become labourers in their own fields, that is why it is a do or die situation for farmers,” he said,

Drawing parallels between the BJP and Britishers, he said the even the former coloniser did not oppress our farmers to this extent. “Even Britishers did not oppress our farmers to this extent, they did not fix nails on the ground. This government has left behind the Britishers,” he said.

Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

Why In God’s Name…?

Immortality is commonplace, wrote Jorge Luis Borges, but human vanity, megalomania and narcissism has an eternally infinite quality in its self-obsession of historical greatness. In life and in death, and beyond death, thy name shall be remembered, if not in the hearts of grateful citizens and fellow human beings, then in gigantic monuments – this has been the doctrine of both dictators and democrats alike. That is why, their names adorn architecture wonders, towering buildings and institutions, railways stations, airports, universities, hospitals, streets and squares. Do they deserve it? That is the question which history must answer.

Most dictators suffer from this epidemic of immortality, though many democrats too are not far off. In other cases, their devoted followers, for vested or political reasons, choose to immortalise the names of their leaders, much after they are dead and lost in public memory. ‘Aspiring India’ is now in the midst of this ‘inspiring’ churning.

Take for instance the case of Kazakhstan, which became ‘independent’ soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and its eternally infinite ‘former’ president and leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, now 80.  After three decades of unilateral rule, he suddenly and surprisingly ‘resigned’ as president in March 2019. But, then, as is the case with many post-Soviet Central Asian countries, there is, predictably, a catch.

Soon after, his elder daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, was appointed to the number two position in the upper house of a one-dimensional Parliament with its sticky lollypop of democracy. Effectively, she, thereby, became the most powerful person in the country, even while ‘Papa’ called the shots. Inevitably, a loyalist, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was sworn in as president, who quickly not only promised to abide by his leader before taking all key and strategic decisions, but instantly proposed that the capital, Astana, meaning Kazakh, should be named after the Great Leader himself. Hence, Astana, since then, is called Nur-sultan – the ‘Light of the King’!

This luminescent light has been shining across many nations all over the globe. Saddam Hussein built a gymnasium in his name, why, only he knows. The ‘Great Helmsman and Dear Leader’ of North Korea, rebuilt a stadium destroyed during the Korean War in Pyongyang and renamed it in his own name: Kim Il-Sung Stadium. His illustrious son, with an infectious laughter and miscellaneous fictitious missiles targeted at various mythical cities in America, perhaps, is still not in a mood to name anything in his name, so immortal he has already become in his own lifetime!

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Among others, Adolf Hitler was modest enough to name only one stadium in his name: Adolf Hitler Kampfbahn, Stuttgart. Why only one stadium, on a world-conquest project, remains an enigma! Perhaps, he was too busy with the Holocaust, the gas chambers and the concentration camps. And, surely, he could not name all these death camps where he killed millions of Jews across Europe in his name!

Same was the case with his best fascist buddy in Italy. Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino in Turin, constructed as a sign of the great power of the emerging supremacist races in the 1930s, was originally named Stadio Municipals Benito Mussolini, while he was in power. Stadiums apart, both Hitler and Mussolini, could never predict their unremarkable end.

In mid-Sixties India, the then education minister MC Chagla proposed to Jawaharlal Nehru that Delhi needs another university, and that it should be named after the first prime minister of India. Nehru reportedly “flared up”. He apparently said that his views about raising memorials to living persons is well-known, that it is entirely wrong and no statues or institutions should be thus named after any living person. Nehru reportedly said that Delhi has a great history and there could be many names – why not Raisina?

Years later, Chagla did what he wanted. Named JNU after Nehru. Plus, there is a statue out there now near the administrative block of a man who never really wanted it in the first instance.

One can understand unauthorised slums of the poorest and homeless migrant labourers named after politicians, like Sonia Vihar in Delhi. It gives the most impoverished and powerless living in sub-human conditions some sense of protection from the bulldozers and cops. But why parks for the happy middle and upper classes on their morning walks?

Take for instance the Sanjay Gandhi parks in Delhi. Why, for god’s sake, should parks be named after an upstart bully, a tinpot dictator and the notorious son of a dictatorial prime minister who ran amok during the Emergency? 

Or, why should the Delhi airport be named after Indira Gandhi; why not, in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, or Frontier Gandhi, or, Sardar Patel and Bhagat Singh, even Ghalib, for instance? Indeed, it’s a puzzle as to why should the Hyderabad airport be called the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport! Surely, Hyderabad, Andhra and now Telangana can boast of illustrious figures of brilliant greatness from their indigenous terrain and history on whose name the airport could be named, with due respect to the late prime minister.

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Consider the fact that revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Batukeshwar Dutt, Durga Bhabi, Kalpana Dutt, among hosts of other greats in the freedom struggle, have found no place in public memory in terms of naming or renaming architectural spaces. Why only revolutionaries, Munshi Premchand, Phanishwar Nath Renu, Sahir Ludhianvi, Mohammad Rafi, Guru Dutt, Balraj Sahni, Ismat Chugtai, among other greats, have all been ignored or dumped, suggesting a country where the powerful care two hoots about its great cultural and aesthetic legacy. The Kaifiyat Express in Uttar Pradesh is perhaps a rare departure, a tribute to Kaifi Azmi from Azamgarh in UP, among such truly rare, sensitive and precious departures in modern Indian history.

Among other states, West Bengal has named all its metro stations in Kolkata remembering the inheritance of its cultural icons, from poets and writers to actors. The state has names of its cultural icons etched across its landscape, much like Moscow or Berlin, for instance, where, despite their changing history in contemporary times, you can move from the memory of Lermentov to Tolstoy to Marx to Brecht, across its beautiful lanes and squares.

In Gwangju, South Korea, the democratic upsurge against the military dictatorship in the 1980s, is etched in the graveyard nearby remembering the dead who fought and died for freedom and democracy. It has been designed with aesthetic refinement and great sensitivity. There is a photograph, and a small epitaph. Plus, the living opera in the backdrop which is sung in a choir during the anniversary of the uprising, with tears flowing among the audience, in memory and grief, and in deep, authentic homage. Indeed, those who remember the sacrifices of their dead for a better, democratic and humane society, are always trying to create a better, democratic and humane society, despite all odds.

That is why, the current public spectacle at the Motera Stadium in Ahemdabad appears straight out of the warped text books of Nursultan, Hitler, Kim Il Sung and Mussolini. Barring Mayawati who built her own statues, and that is considered by many as a reassertion of Dalit identity submerged and oppressed by upper caste history, agree or disagree, no living politician has ever created or endorsed his own pubic monument in post-independence India.

With the two big stands in the cricket stadium named after two profiteering Gujarati industrialists, known to be the best buddies of the Dear Leader currently ruling from Delhi, the theatre of the absurd is now turning sincerely bizarre.

Hum do, Hamare do? Well, it could very well be the love, self-love, in the time of Corona!

Modi Gets Order Of Zayed

UAE Lauds Border Ceasefire Between India And Pakistan

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday welcomed the declaration of a ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors, calling it an “important step” towards achieving security, stability and prosperity in the region.

In a statement on Sunday, the UAE foreign ministry affirmed that Abu Dhabi has close historical ties with New Delhi and Islamabad and that it commends the efforts of the two countries to reach this achievement.
On Thursday, Indian and Pakistani armies announced that they have agreed to a ceasefire along the Line of Actual Control (LoC) starting from February 25.

The agreement on ceasefire was reached during a meeting between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan.

Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan also reviewed the current situation across the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors “in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere”.

“The UAE has welcomed the declaration of a ceasefire between the Indian and Pakistani armies… It also stressed that this is an important step towards achieving security, stability and prosperity in the region,” the statement read.

“The ministry emphasised the importance of adhering to a permanent ceasefire between the two friendly countries in Kashmir to the benefit of both sides and committing to diplomatic means – through dialogue – to build bridges of confidence and establish a lasting peace that achieves the aspirations of both peoples,” it added.

Besides UAE, the United Nations and the US have also welcomed the agreement. (ANI)

Kangana Spends Day With Team ‘Tejas’

Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut had her ‘special Sunday’ as she hosted a special get together for the team of her upcoming movie ‘Tejas’.

Giving a sneak peek into her special last day of the week, Kangana who will be seen essaying the role of an Indian Air Force officer in her upcoming flick ‘Tejas’ shared a series of pictures on Twitter and wrote, “Very special Sunday…. my Tejas team came over for readings, loved hosting my lovely new crew, now for coming months this is my family #Tejas. Happy journey guys,” with a flower emoticon.

Bollywood’s ‘Queen’ smiles away to glory in the snaps as she hosted a brunch for the crew team of her dream project ‘Tejas’. The pictures capture Ranaut donning a beautiful pastel blue gown, which she embellished with her open curly hair. With a bare makeup face, she accessorised the look with her radiant smile.

Earlier, on Saturday, the ‘Gangster’ actor shared a picture on Twitter, revealing her character’s name ‘Tejas Gill’ from her forthcoming movieTejas’.

Meanwhile, Kangana besides ‘Tejas’, will also be seen in ‘Thalaivi’, a biopic on actor-turned-politician Jayalalithaa. Apart from this she also has ‘Dhaakad’ and ‘Manikarnika Returns: The Legend Of Didda’ in the pipeline.

Kangana has also signed up to play the role of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in an upcoming political drama. (ANI)

China’s Role In Myanmar Coup Under Scanner

With most nations condemning military takeover in Myanmar and arrest of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, there have been reports that China has been supporting the coup.

Different charges claim that Chinese soldiers were being transported into the country on flights, or that “Chinese-looking” troops have been spotted around Myanmar’s cities, The Taiwan Times reported.
Various posts on social media platforms in Myanmar claimed that China was helping the military junta set up a firewall to keep dissidents from getting organised online.

According to a report published by a think tank — Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), unregistered flights from China have been landing every night in Myanmar carrying unknown goods and personnel from China, for over a week now, despite a ban on international flights by the Myanmar military, which took over the country in a recent coup.

Beijing has been playing safe card by giving statements neither in support nor disfavor of the military rule in Myanmar.

Chen Hai, China’s ambassador to Myanmar, said that the Chinese government was taken by shock by the military coup in Myanmar.

His remarks came after many pro-democracy demonstrators protested outside the Chinese Embassy in Yangon against this totalitarian change in Myanamr, blaming China for sponsoring the coup plotters.

“We have friendly relations with both the NLD and the military,” The Taiwan Times quoted Chen as saying.

The apprehension of China’s concealed involvement was exacerbated when Myanmar’s General Min Aung Hlaing’s declared on February 16 that the junta wanted to restart various hydropower projects that had been stalled.

Many people on social media hypothesised that this may incorporate a revival of the profoundly debated and unpopular Chinese-sponsored Myitsone hydropower super dam in northern Myanmar, even if the dam was not explicitly mentioned in the junta’s declaration, reported The Taiwan Times.

The Myanmar Army early this month seized power after alleging fraud in November 8 election. Several political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi were detained.

Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar have taken to the streets, demanding the release of Kyi. At least three protesters and one policeman were killed during the protests.

It incited mass protests and global criticism, with the United States already imposing targeted sanctions on the officers who drove the coup.

China’s motive behind organising the coup can be easily deduced as Myanmar’s developing some large scale projects with India, including the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral parkway, the Kaladan Multi-modal transit transport network and the planned Special Economic Zone at the Sittwe deep water port, China saw its self-serving plans with Myanmar as taking a backseat.

However, under the China – Myanmar Economic Corridor, China stood to gain a great deal, but of the 38 projects that it had initially planned, Myanmar has approved only 9, reported The Taiwan Times.

China was also worried about the growing influence of Japan and US in Myanmar.

The change in the political demographics of Myanmar would play a key role for the development of the Chinese projects that did not see the green flag under the National League for Democracy (NLD) regime in Myanmar.

This situation is similar to what happened in Nepal, where China maneuvered to bring forward a pro-Beijing and anti-India government.

Nepal released a new map last year which includes Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, of Indian territories but claimed by Nepal.

Citing the Specialists, The Taiwan Times reported that it was China that incited Nepal to start a border dispute with India. (ANI)

Madhuri Dixit Shows Her ‘Puppy Love’

The ageless beauty of Bollywood Madhuri Dixit on Sunday proved that she is a true blue dog lover and channeled ‘puppy love’ with an all-smiles picture.

The ‘Kalank’ actor took to Instagram and shared a sweet picture with her pets.

The photo sees Dixit striking pose with her two furry friends as she sits on a couch. Donning a maroon top and blue pair of denim, the actor strikes a million-dollar smile while hugging one of her pet dogs.

The ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’ star simply wrote in the caption, “Puppy love (along with yellow smiley face turned upside down and a dog emoticon).

With the post hitting the photo-sharing platform, it garnered more than 88 thousand likes within an hour, with scores of fans leaving red heart emoticons.

Quite an active social media user, the ‘Dil’ star keeps on sharing intriguing videos and photos over the platform.

Earlier, the ‘Dhak-Dhak’ girl of Bollywood shared a picture of herself personifying beauty as she dressed in a traditional avatar.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Madhuri was last seen in the movie ‘Kalank’, in which she co-starred along with Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur, and Sanjay Dutt.

She will be next seen in the third season of the dance reality show ‘Dance Deewane’ as a judge with Dharmesh Yelande and Tushar Kalia from February 27, this year. (ANI)

The Raging Pandemic Over

Watch – ‘Lower Courts Worst Hit, Virtual Hearing A Farce’

While legal apparatus as a whole was severely impaired by the raging pandemic over last one year, its worst impact was on lower courts in Tier-2 towns. Lawyers, litigants, petitioners all felt the pinch as only bail matters would come for hearing.

LokMarg spoke to several lawyers and appellants at the courts of law to find that there were few takers for virtual hearings and the work remained standstill with little hope in sight for those in search for legal solutions.

Watch the full video here