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Students “In A Fix”: Mamata Banerjee Writes To PM Seeking Covaxin WHO Nod


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Covaxin is still not WHO approved and it’s not possible to travel to many nations, Mamata Banerjee said.

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention for early approval of Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine by the World Health Organisation, without which people who have taken the Bharat Biotech jab might face problems travelling abroad.

The chief minister, in her letter, stated that her government has been “receiving both Covishield and Covaxin” from the very beginning. Even the private sector in the state has procured and administered both the vaccines, she said.

“A large number of students from all over the country travel abroad every year for higher studies and many of them have got themselves vaccinated with Covaxin. They came to learn later on that their vaccination certificate is not valid abroad. These students are now in a fix regarding their next course of action and their career is at stake,” Ms Banerjee wrote to PM Modi.

Many countries are allowing entry of only those people who have taken WHO-approved vaccines, she claimed.

“It is learnt that Covaxin is still not approved by WHO and it is not possible to travel abroad as many countries are allowing only those people who are fully vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines. Hence, I request for your kind intervention so that an early approval is received for Covaxin from WHO so that students do not face any problem. This will also benefit people travelling abroad for job, education, business and any other purposes as well,” she added.

Ms Banerjee had on Wednesday asked Chief Secretary HK Dwidevi to write to the Union Health Secretary and Cabinet Secretary on this matter. She had also urged the Centre to take steps to ensure that people inoculated with Covaxin do not face any restrictions during their overseas travel.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Expelled By Herd, Jharkhand Elephant Kills 16 Villagers In 2 Months


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The elephant has managed to outwit officials with his sheer speed and unpredictability (Representational)

New Delhi: A rogue elephant has killed at least 16 villagers in the past two months in Jharkhand after likely being expelled from his herd “for bad behaviour”, a wildlife official said on Thursday.

The mature male, believed to be 15 or 16 years old, has been on the rampage in the state’s tribal Santhal Pargana region ever since he was separated from the herd of 22 elephants.

“It’s likely he was in heat and was expelled because of his bad behaviour or sexual rivalry with other males,” Satish Chandra Rai, regional divisional forest officer, told AFP.

“We are studying his behaviour and a team of 20 officials is constantly trying to track him because our first priority is to protect the animal.”

The elephant, which is now on its way back seeking to reunite with the herd, has managed to outwit officials with his sheer speed and unpredictability.

On Tuesday, the tusker lifted an elderly couple with his trunk and killed them when they had ventured out before dawn.

Mr Rai said the elephant was only killing people who accidently got in its way, got too close, or who tried to provoke it and take pictures.

“He has not been breaking into houses or deliberately attacking people,” Mr Rai said.

“We want to see if he is accepted back in the herd. If he is not it will be proved he is a bad boy.”

India has an estimated 30,000 wild Asian elephants — nearly 60 per cent of the total wild population.

In recent years there have been rising incidents of elephants killed by locals — and vice-versa — as humans encroach further into forest areas.



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Veteran Filmmaker And Photographer Sivan Dies At 89


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An old photo of Sivan. (Image courtesy: sangeethsivan )

Highlights

  • Sivan directed ‘Abhayam’ in 1991
  • It bagged the National Film Award for the Best Children’s film
  • Sivan was the still photographer of 1965 Malayalam movie Chemmeen

Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran still photographer and filmmaker Sivan died on Thursday, family sources said, reported news agency PTI. He was 89. Noted filmmakers Sangeeth Sivan, Santhosh Sivan and Sanjeev Sivan are his sons. “It’s with great sadness that I share with you all the tragic news that my father, Mr Sivan, breathed his last today,” Sangeeth Sivan, his son and noted film director, posted on Facebook. Sivan was the first press photographer in Kerala. He was also the still photographer of the classic Malayalam movie Chemmeen which was released in 1965. Sivan directed Abhayam in 1991, which bagged the National Film Award for the Best Children’s film. Abhayam, Yagam, Mohangal, Kilivaathil, Keshu, Oru Yathra are among his notable works.

“He was our inspiration and role model. What he accomplished was achieved through hard work, dedication, discipline and foresight. Am sure he would continue to guide us on our onward journey. Forever indebted and will always be in our hearts. Love you Dad for everything and I’m sure you will be watching over us from your place among the clouds and stars. Om Shanthi,” Sangeeth Sivan posted on Facebook.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, Assembly Speaker MB Rajesh and other politicians condoled the death of Sivan. “Sivan was well-known in the movie industry especially for his cinematography skills. His ‘Sivan studio’ at Thiruvananthapuram was a popular gathering spot for many prominent cultural icons,” Vijayan said in his condolence message.

Speaker Rajesh condoled Sivan’s death and said he was quite active in the cultural sphere of the state capital. “As the first press photographer in Thiruvananthapuram, he captured many historic moments,” Rajesh said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Google And Jio Unveil Budget Phone “Built For India”


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The phone will deliver translation features, a voice assistant and a great camera.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd. unveiled the much-awaited JioPhone Next co-developed with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a handset designed to target India’s hundreds of millions of first-time smartphone users.

“An ultra-affordable 4G smartphone is essential,” Mr Ambani told shareholders at Reliance’s annual general meeting on Thursday, outlining the capabilities of the device that will run a re-engineered version of the Android operating system. Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai joined remotely to say that the JioPhone was “built for India” and would deliver translation features, a voice assistant and a great camera.

Neither company leader disclosed a price for the handset, which will debut in the market on September 10, ahead of the country’s peak shopping and gifting season. Both indicated plans to achieve a breakthrough price.

Jio is India’s leading telecom operator with over 423 million users of voice and data services. The new 4G-capable device will try to entice users of basic phones, those “trapped in the 2G era,” in Mr Ambani’s words, to make the transition to more advanced hardware. For Google, it marks another effort toward making Android friendlier to more frugal devices and thus accessible to a wider audience of potential users of its services.

Google Cloud technologies will form the basis for Jio’s upcoming 5G wireless solutions as well as serving the internal needs of online services such as Reliance Retail and JioMart, Mr Ambani said.

Engineers from the two companies worked for more than nine months to co-develop the JioNext hardware specifications in sync with a modified version of Android that would maintain a high-end experience without recourse to expensive components. The launch comes nearly a year after Google agreed to buy a $4.5 billion stake in Jio Platforms Ltd., the digital arm of Reliance Industries.

Global tech leaders like Google and Facebook Inc. have jumped on the Reliance bandwagon as they look for ways to grab a slice of the Indian market where an estimated 300 million first-time smartphone users are expected to start accessing the internet by 2025, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

Asia’s richest man, pursuing his own large-scale project of turning an oil-and-petrochemicals giant into a homegrown tech leader, presented the new device even as the plans to sell hundreds of millions of the Google-powered smartphone faced supply chain headwinds.

Standing in the way of the Google-Jio alliance will be China’s fast-rising coterie of leading smartphone makers. Xiaomi Corp., Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus have already established their brands, credentials and some manufacturing facilities in India, with their domestic approach of high specs at low prices resonating well with the Indian consumer.



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Blog: In The ICU, My Father Was Unrecognizable – Even To Me


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–>I woke up feeling very uneasy and glanced over at the clock – it was 1:30 AM on May 15 in New Delhi, India. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary – yet, why did I feel so uneasy? I had a drink of water and returned to my bed. I wondered if there would be some positive news in the morning.

The prior month, both my parents had contracted COVID-19 around the time they got the second dose of Covishield. While my mother recovered in a few days, my father did not fare as well and was eventually admitted to Fortis. He was soon put on the BiPAP machine and on May 9, he was put on a ventilator due to falling SpO2 levels. Upon hearing the news, I decided to head from Los Angeles, where I live, to India despite trepidation among my well-wishers. I could not let my mother face this trying time alone and managed to travel to India. My father had tested COVID negative a couple of days before the doctors put him on the ventilator. I would thus be able to visit him during visiting hours.

In the morning, my mother and I headed to the hospital, in time to arrive during visiting hours. Since they would only allow one visitor to go into the ICU at any given time, my mother told me to go in first. My mother had told me that my father’s bed was situated opposite the entrance to the ICU. I entered the ICU and walked over to the bed facing the entrance door. I looked over at the patient in the bed and it struck me that he was not my father. Had they moved him to another location? I slowly walked around the ICU, checking out the patient in each bed. Where was he? One of the attending nurses noticed my confusion and came over to help me. I asked her whether my father had been shifted to another location. She requested his name – and then confirmed that my father was indeed the patient in the first bed. I was taken aback and returned to that bed. The patient in the bed had his eyes covered with a bandage. Two tubes were running into his mouth. Over the hum of the ventilator, I gradually realized that it was indeed my father, sedated, being fed the oxygen from the ventilator. I stood there for a while, staring at the machine keeping him alive, and then slowly walked out.

Our family’s favourite photograph of my father

Over the next three days, we visited my father daily during visitation hours. On the fourth day, we made our way from the waiting room towards the ICU. As we approached the security guard to sign-in, another guard cordoned off the area, and informed all visitors that there would be a delay in entry as a “procedure” was being performed on one of the patients. For some reason, I just knew the procedure was being done on my father. A few minutes later, we were requested to proceed to the ICU. As we approached the entrance, the doctor in charge of my father gave us the news – my father had just passed away due to cardiac arrest.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were allowed to enter the ICU and see my father for one last time. My mother and I approached the lifeless body of my father, and for the first time, it dawned on us that he was really gone – his eyes open, staring into space, his mouth slightly ajar. Without the tubes and bandages, I was finally able to recognize him. The ventilator that had been humming away for the past few days, now switched off. It just seemed so silent. So surreal.

After spending a few minutes by my father’s side, I realized that I had to make his funeral arrangements – crematoriums had several hours long waiting lists due to the pandemic, and the consequent staggering number of COVID-related deaths. My mother’s cousin had found a crematorium willing to cremate my father the same day, if we could produce the COVID negative certificate for him. Armed with the certificate, we arranged for an ambulance to transport my father’s body from the hospital mortuary to the crematorium. We arrived at the crematorium an hour and a half before sunset, and after carrying out the last rites, placed my father’s body on the funeral pyre. A few additional prayers later, the priest handed me the flaming torch to light the pyre. We waited for some time until the flames had enveloped the pyre completely and then headed home.

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Performing the last rites

We returned to my parents’ house a little before sunset. As I entered my parents’ room to drop off the keys, I glanced upon the little puja table that contained all the idols my father worshipped every morning. I couldn’t help but wonder – where are these Gods? The ones that my father prayed to daily. The ones for whom he fasted every Tuesday, for the past 30 plus years. The ones whose names he would utter multiple times a day. How could they allow this to happen to him? But then it also dawned on me how fortunate we were – that my father was able to get a bed and a ventilator at a time when there were people dying on the streets due to paucity of oxygen; that he was fully sedated when he passed and thus hopefully, experienced no pain; that he was COVID negative at the time of his passing, allowing us to cremate him with dignity.

I looked outside the kitchen window. In the distance, I could see our area’s security guards talking to each other. A couple wearing masks and laughing loudly hurried past our house. That old white stray dog that my father had fed every single day for so many years looked up towards our house, yawned, and lay back on the ground. Life carries on.

(Nikhil Shahi was born and raised in New Delhi, India. He currently lives in Los Angeles, USA, where he pursues a career in Finance and Photography.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.



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JioPhone Next Low-Cost 4G Smartphone Unveiled, Developed With Google



JioPhone Next was unveiled at the Reliance Industries Limited AGM 2021, which was a virtual event due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.



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Gautam Adani Says He Couldn’t Have Received A Better Birthday Gift Than…


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Gautam Adani is celebrating his 59th birthday today.

Gautam Adani tweeted today that he could not have hoped for a better gift on his birthday as the Adani Group’s Australian business, re-branded as Bravus, announced that it had struck coal at its Carmichael project in Australia.

Carmichael coal will contribute to Adani Group’s burgeoning energy portfolio that is designed to create a sustainable energy mix, incorporating, thermal power, solar power, wind power and gas.

Mr Adani, who is celebrating his 59th birthday today, tweeted to say he was proud of his team that overcame heavy odds to mine Carmichael’s “first coal”.

“Proud of my tenacious team who mined Carmichael’s ‘first coal’ in the face of heavy odds,” wrote the chairman of Adani Group. “There couldn’t be a better birthday gift than being able to strengthen our nation’s energy security and provide affordable power to India’s millions,” he added, concluding his tweet with a note of thanks to Australia and Queensland, where the mine is located.

Alongside with his tweet, he shared a birthday message he received from his team. The video features two Bravus employees. “Happy birthday Gautam Bhai,” one of them says. “It’s a very important milestone for us. First coal. We could not find a better gift than to give you this…” he added. 

In the comments section, several of Mr Adani’s Twitter followers wished him a happy birthday, while others congratulated him on his company’s milestone moment.

According to news agency ANI, Bravus Mining and Resources CEO David Boshoff said it was an exciting day for 2,600-plus people on the project, a day that has been in the making for over a decade.

“Throughout the last two years of construction and during the many years when we fought to secure our approvals, our people have put their hearts and souls into this project. It is wonderful that we have now struck coal,” he said.

Mr Boshoff said Bravus is on track to export first coal as promised this year.

“We are on track to export first coal this year, and despite reaching this significant milestone, we will not take our eyes off our larger goal of getting coal to market,” he said.

India will be a foundation customer for the Carmichael mine and is the fourth largest global user of electricity as well as the source of the biggest growth in global energy demand.

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PM’s Big Meeting On Jammu and Kashmir Today: What’s At Stake


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Four former J&K Chief Ministers are among the 14 leaders invited to the meeting.

New Delhi: Nearly two years after Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status and was downgraded into two Union Territories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called political parties to discuss the road ahead. This is the PM’s first outreach towards parties that have denounced what is possibly his biggest political decision.

Four former J&K Chief Ministers are among the 14 leaders invited to the meeting. Three of them, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, were jailed for six months to one year from August 5, 2019, when the changes were enforced.

There is no specific agenda for the meeting. Leaders participating in it say, however, that their agenda is very clear – Jammu and Kashmir, the decision taken by the Prime Minister on August 5 and restoration of statehood.

Many reports say the meeting may focus on the delimitation exercise to redraw the boundaries of assembly constituencies in J&K ahead of assembly elections.

Legal experts say delimitation is not for political discussion; the Delimitation Commission is an independent body and the executive and political parties cannot interfere in its functioning.

The Commission is headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. The Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner and state election commissioners are members. Five associate members are MPs from Jammu and Kashmir. But the recommendations of these MPs are not binding on the Commission.

Three National Conference MPs including Farooq Abdullah who had boycotted meetings of the Delimitation Commission have indicated that they will join the proceedings if the chairman of the Commission addresses their concerns since a case is pending before the Supreme Court.

The National Conference and other parties have challenged the August 5 decision and the delimitation exercise before the Supreme Court.

“Delimitation is based on the census. There is a constitutional as well as statutory bar on maintaining a challenge against the order of a Delimitation Commission before any court of law” said Shoaib Alam, Supreme Court lawyer.

Some groups in Jammu have been strongly opposing the delimitation exercise because Census 2011 will only favour the Kashmir Valley.

The new legislature in J&K will have 90 seats, seven higher than the previous assembly.

The leaders of the Gupkar alliance, a group of seven parties led by Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, say they will forcefully raise the issue of Article 370 with PM Modi and they have “no red lines” for any discussion during the meeting.

“The meeting was called by the Prime Minister. We see it a positive development. There are no riders. No one has been asked not to talk about restoration of J&K’s special status,” said a senior leader.

The all-party meeting is taking place alongside reports that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met with his Pakistan counterpart in a third country.

Today’s meeting is the second major peace initiative in J&K after the announcement of ceasefire between India and Pakistan on February 25.

In a joint statement, the Director Generals of Military Operations of the Indian and Pakistan armies agreed to “address each others’ core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace”.

Political observers say this was the first move in military diplomacy and today’s meeting is part of a larger peace initiative at a time when India is facing a major challenge along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, where the Indian Army and the Chinese troops have been locked in a tense confrontation since May last year.

In the last 22 months, Kashmir has gone through the world’s longest internet blockade, strict curfew for months and an unprecedented clampdown in which thousands of people were jailed to prevent any protest against the abrogation of Article 370.

Before the historic changes, Jammu and Kashmir was India’s only state with its own separate constitution and flag.

The BJP and the central government defended the decisions saying they would bring prosperity and development in a “Naya (New)” Kashmir. Jailed Kashmiri Leaders were dubbed as corrupt and responsible for all miseries the region has gone through.

In November, Home Minister Amit Shah termed the leaders of Gupkar alliance as the “Gupkar Gang” who wanted foreign forces to intervene.

Six months later, on June 18 (last week), the government sent an invite to them.

Kashmiri leaders say they will stick to their stand on the restoration of special status.



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Ali Fazal Reveals He “Slipped Into Depression” When He Did 3 Idiots


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Ali Fazal in a still from 3 Idiots. (courtesy YouTube)

Highlights

  • Ali Fazal played the role of an engineering student in the film
  • “I was in my second year of college,” said Ali Fazal
  • “I went into depression and I told Raju sir,” he added

New Delhi: Ali Fazal, who began his acting career with the super hit film 3 Idiots, in an interview with PeepingMoon said that he went into depression when he was shooting for the film. “I slipped into depression when I started with 3 Idiots. I played a small role in it,” he told PeepingMoon. In the film, Ali Fazal played the role of an engineering student called Joy Lobo, who dies by suicide after the college dean refuses to extend the project’s deadline for submission. Ali Fazal was in the second year of college back then. He told PeepingMoon, “Do you know what happened? Suddenly they were doing some news pieces, not to sound morbid or anything but at that time, some college students had harmed themselves, and then I got a call from some news channel saying, ‘Sir, you’ve played this role and this is exactly what has happened. How do you feel about it?’ and I was crushed at that point. I was naive. I was in my second year of college. ”

Speaking of the impact that the incident had on his mental health, the actor said, “I went into depression and I told Raju sir (Rajkumar Hirani) and all these people and they said, ‘please don’t do this. Tell them to talk to the producer and don’t feel like this’.”

The film, directed by Rajkumar Hirani, is based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone. It featured Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi as the titular characters and also starred Boman Irani and Kareena Kapoor.

Ali Fazal is best known for starring in films such as Happy Bhag Jayegi, Victoria And Abdul, Bobby Jasoos and the Fukrey series on films, in which he co-starred with Richa Chadha. He was also seen in Netflix film House Arrest and the popular web-series Mirzapur.

He awaits the release of Netflix’s web-series Ray, which will release on Friday. He will also be seen in Death On The Nile, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. The film also features Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Dawn French, Rose Leslie, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright.

(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.) Helplines: 1) Vandrevala Foundation for Mental Health – 1860-2662-345 / 1800-2333-330 (24 hours) 2) TISS iCall – 022-25521111 (Monday-Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm)



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On Central Vista, Minister’s “Vidvaans And Their Ice Cream Evenings” Dig


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The minister had gone to the site to take stock of the construction work.

New Delhi: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today shared pictures from his visit to Central Vista Avenue and new Parliament and praised the workers involved in the construction of the two projects. “The toil and perseverance of our workers is giving shape to architectural heritage for the future generations,” Mr Puri, who had earlier said that the projects will be a symbol of modern India, tweeted along with a number of pictures taken at the site.

The minister also took a jibe at the opposition leaders who have criticized the construction work amid the pandemic. The architectural heritage will make even better, the ice cream evenings of the ‘Vidvaans‘, he said.

The minister had gone to the site to take stock of the construction work.

The redevelopment of the Central Vista, the nation’s power corridor, envisages a new Parliament building, a common central secretariat, revamping of the 3-km Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, new Prime Minister’s residence and office, and a new Vice President Enclave.

The project has been criticised by opposition parties, especially the Congress, which argued that the money would be put to better use if it were spent to upgrade the healthcare system.

The centre has said that the project is a “necessity” and that the big ticket makeover had no bearing on the procurement of vaccines.

The Parliament building is being constructed at an estimated cost of ₹ 862 crores and the Central Vista Avenue at ₹ 477 crores. “The total cost of the project construction currently underway is around ₹ 1,300-odd crores… We want to finish the new Parliament building by 2022 to mark 75 years of independence,” Mr Puri had earlier said.

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