Food : the path to the Heart

Indians have always been heavy diners, be it at home or any place else. Going easy on the diet is often portrayed offensive in our culture. Our vigorously immense tummies, a testament of our love towards food. I guess it’s never too late to admit that the foods are not the ones to blame, but us, and our wicked choices.

The very idea of eating healthy is contradictory to the popular paradigm. We munch on especially all things that scream ‘fatty’. Subject to popular opinion, people around the globe, ‘eat to live.’ To sustain life. Except for us, we ‘live to eat.’ Food goes with every occasion, would seem indifferent if not.

The very idea about jotting down what food means to us is putting me into a fit. A rush of thoughts flow to the mind but reluctant to appear as I type it in. I believe this symbolises our relationship with food. It’s an emotion, or above and beyond it.

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Good food is indeed the key to the heart and will never go unappreciated. As George Bernard Shaw has brilliantly put it, “there’s no sincerer love than the love for food.”

It nurtures, comforts and sustains us. Might be the most subjective item in this world and the next. It’s amazing how a necessity is so necessarily personal, different from other necessities in more ways than none.

Food is definitely a jack of all trades. A vigilante with many names. The very thought about it makes me smile and I’m sure it’d make you too.

I guess we’ve all fancied eating out more than the food made with love at home.

‘Eating in’ is often dreaded for not being exquisite enough, if we dined out for a week, we’d be squandering for a homely meal by the end; for sure.

The major food ordering apps were an instant hit in our markets. It took the better out of our laziness by catering to our tastebuds economically at our doorsteps. Even though delivery options were always available, the costs made us think otherwise.

More or less we believed what made us eat out at every instance possible was the experience of planning ahead and going out to dine at a fine restaurant. But the arrival of the apps proved otherwise, it has only made us eat more of food at home.

The whole lockdown had affected our eating habits altogether, we were munching on some eatables and then woke up having to much on another, eating only what we had. Teaching us that, our food preferences and choices always lies to us.

When the cravings got the best of the whole waiting it out strategy, we took to reinventing all what we had a sweet tooth towards. We went onto making Dalgona coffees to instant bread pan pizzas that would make established eateries a run for their money.

We had the best of times cooking up all that we can in the kitchen, swearing to never turn to restaurant food ever; when you could’ve all the fun prepping and gulping it down too. Rekindling the family spirit, a fire that was on low flame for while, leaving the pot on it going colder by the moment.

The ease of restrictions paved the way to more experiments, from making steaming hot porottas to baking bread. Bringing out the masterchefs hidden deep within us. A wake up call stirred up by necessities. After all, “Necessity is indeed the mother of all inventions.”

The fire we rekindled is something worth holding onto, it brought us closer whilst indulging healthily. Having all the food you can have to yourself won’t matter I guess, if you can’t share it and have it with the ones you care dearest for, and that the very emotional aspect arises out of sharing it with the ones that really care. Above all, it goes easy on the wallet too.

College and University Admissions 2020

Students are very worried about their careers as all admission procedures have been delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Many have expressed concerns over the delay and cancellation of exams for they might lose an academic year. Final year students are suffering the worst. Many students of intermediate years in have started their classes in online mode for now.  

Delhi University has scheduled its entrance tests for admission to 10 undergraduate and 86 masters and MPhil/PhD programmes from the 6th of September. The exams will be computer based and will be conducted by the National Testing Agency. They will take place from September 6 to 11 in three slots from 8 am. There will be 24 centers across the country. 1.47 lakh students have applied to the masters courses, and 21,699 students have applied for MPhil and PhD programmes. The undergraduate course entrance tests will be held for 3 management courses, journalism, education and a few specialised disciplines. 

Students are also worried about sitting for exams in this condition. There is the issue of social distancing and also wearing a mask, gloves and shield for 2 hours while appearing for an exam is quite taxing. The centres are located in specific cities so there is also an issue about travel restrictions and hotel accomodation. Some exam dates have also coincided with others as DU’s joint admission test for management courses and Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is supposed to take place on the same day that is September 7. There is another problem about the masters aspirants as most of them have still not finished with their final year exams and yet to receive the degree. Students are waiting for the University to make an announcement and provide some clarification regarding the issue. JNUSU president Aishee Ghosh has expressed concern over the issue of students who are badly affected by floods and the pandemic. Many of them might not be in a position to appear for these exams in a specific centre.  

Jamia Milia Islamia has extended the dates of application for admission. The last date to fill the online application form has been extended to September 14. Students seeking admissions in any undergraduate course at the university can apply at the official website, jmi.ac.in or jmicoe.in.  

The applications for admissions under the sports category will end on September 16. This is applicable for students who play aports at the national, state, regional or university levels. Under the sports quota, students will be enrolled in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Sports including boxing, badminton, athletics, cricket, hockey, shooting, football, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, and wrestling will be accepted for the courses. 

The Jamia Milia Islamia University has been ranked amonf the top universities across india. Over 21,000 students are enrolled across 270 programmes in Jamia. This year, it has introduced 19 new courses including two MTech programmes, two MSc, and one MLib course. Among the undergraduate courses BSc aeronautics, four BVov courses, diploma in hospitality management, and three postgraduate diploma courses including entrepreneurship, innovation and design thinking.  

New sessions across colleges and universities have all been postponed due to the pandemic. The application deadline has been extended for almost all courses including free UPSC tutoring classes that are made to support candidates belonging to minorities, SC, ST community, and women as well as NRI admissions.  

World’s Overshoot day!!

Happy World’s Overshoot day!! Today we’ve exhausted all the natural resources generated by Mother Earth last year and as economists say, we are in a deficit, although not financial, but ecological. This could be quite shocking news to many, but interestingly this year World’s Overshoot day has been pushed by 3 weeks. In 2019, World’s Overshoot day was marked on July 29 as opposed to August 22 in 2020. In fact, this day has never been pushed so far since 2005. So, is it an achievement worth celebrating? Apparently not, cause it is not done by design, rather by the disaster. The World’s Overshoot day is calculated by GFN (Global footprint network), an independent think tank established in 2003 with its headquarters located in California, United States. Overshoot is calculated by ecological footprint, which is a measure of how much area of biologically productive land and water an individual, population or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, using prevailing technology and resource management practices. Researchers estimate that the planet equivalent has grown from 1.5 in 2008 to 1.6 in 2020, i.e. now humans require 1.6 planet Earth to sustain themselves and this doesn’t account for all other species in the world. However, this doesn’t mean that all countries contribute equally to the spectrum. Overshoot day varies from country to country due to the prevailing technologies in different countries. For e.g. a world would be enough for Indonesians to survive, but it would require approximately two worlds to sustain ourselves if we were to live like Qataris. The worst country to perform in this index is Luxembourg, which consumed all its resources by February 16. Even Australia, the biocapacity giant is seeing deficit for the first time in its history due to the devastating fires of 2019-20. This shows how fragile biocapacity can be.
But this year is not an achievement, all though the COVID lockdowns brought down the Ecological Footprint by 9.3% reduction as compared to the same period last year and put a remarkable dent on the global economy. Since this pushed date is a reflection of a lot of sufferings and the reflection of imposed changes to our lives. The irony is that these vast reductions that scientists had always been craving but through sustainable developments rather than sufferings. Now it would be foolish to presume that in order to reduce our carbon footprints and planet equivalent we require such sufferings since such reductions are discriminatory, they disproportionately affect people of color and caste economically. Climate skeptics have used the situation to say that lockdown is what “green campaigners want” and they cannot enjoy things like international travel and economic growth in the future. But it is foolish to fall for such beliefs. The goal should be having better economies and social outcomes with lower emissions.
Researchers reiterate that balance of humanities consumption and Earth”s produce needs to be restored. It would be wise to make such balance intentionally rather than facing such disasters that comes at such high and terrible human cost.

toll on MSMEs: 1 in 4 at below half capacity

Nine out of every 10 of India’s 63.3 million small businesses (termed micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs) have restarted operations after the lockdown necessitated by Covid-19, but only one in four is producing at least half its capacity — largely on account of poor demand, logistical issues, and their own financial troubles (at least half said they faced a liquidity crunch as of August 1).Workers sit on cotton bales being transported to a factory on a truck during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. (Reuters)© Hindustan Times Workers sit on cotton bales being transported to a factory on a truck during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. (Reuters)

“85% of MSME units operate from households and as their exposure to formal banking is almost zero, they are not able to take the benefit of the Centre’s liquidity package, which is linked to outstanding bank credit. The government should come out with a separate fund or fast-track MUDRA [Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd] loan for these people. For bigger MSMEs, e-marketing should be strengthened and a special fund for technology upgradation is required as many MSMEs want to invest heavily in technology,” said Tamal Sarkar, executive director of Foundation for MSME Cluster.

And as of August 6, four million MSMEs had been sanctioned around ~140,000 crore under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme announced as part of the government’s ~20 lakh crore relief package, of which around ~95,000 crore had been disbursed.

The numbers highlight the toll the pandemic and the lockdown imposed to slow its spread (while the national lockdown ended on May 31, localised lockdowns continue across many parts of India as cases continue to rise) has taken on what is popularly described as the backbone of Indian industry — MSMEs.

The numbers are part of a presentation made by the ministry of MSMEs this week, and based on a survey conducted by National Small Industries Corporation.

India’s small businesses employ around 110 million people and accounted for almost half of India’s exports in 2019-20. According to the presentation, they also account for around 30% of GDP.

“If the MSME can’t produce, big industries would not be able to survive in India. To give just one example, India is the world’s largest producer of bicycles and 98% of bicycle parts are made by MSMEs. They are also a cost-effective way of production as one MSME’s scrap is raw material for another. The government must do everything to turn it around to revive the Indian industry,” said Gurmeet Singh Kular, president of Federation of Industrial & Commercial Organization (FICO).

Global stocks, dollar rise with U.S. economic data

Reuters: A jump in U.S. business activity and home sales helped push global equities and the dollar higher on Friday, counteracting earlier stock declines in Europe. Oil fell about 1%. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit record highs and the dollar broke an eight-week losing streak, gaining as weaker economic data in Europe weighed on the single currency. The fresh impetus came from a preliminary purchasing managers’ survey that showed U.S. business activity in August snapped back to the highest level since early 2019, data firm IHS Markit said.

Global stocks, dollar rise with U.S. economic data

Services and manufacturing indices also rose, even though new COVID-19 cases remain high across the United States. U.S. home sales data for July showed deals rising at a record pace for the second straight month, providing another glimmer of growth in the U.S. economy.

Friday’s data counterbalanced a steep rise in U.S. jobless claims on Thursday and Federal Reserve minutes on Wednesday that suggested the economy was beginning to stall, prompting investors to seek safe havens, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.”It’s not surprising to see a pick-up in manufacturing as the economy has started to reopen, even though pockets of the country have pulled back on their reopenings,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest.

“It’s an encouraging sign and it supports the upside we have seen in the markets.”The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 190.6 points, or 0.69%, to 27,930.33. The S&P 500, which broke out of its bear market on Tuesday by recouping pandemic-related losses, powered up 11.65 points, or 0.34%, to 3,397.16. The tech heavy Nasdaq Composite added 46.85 points, or 0.42%, to 11,311.80. Among global shares, MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets was off its lows for the day, rising 0.27% to 571.17.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index dropped 0.20% to 1,416.57. Meanwhile, the dollar index rose 0.63%.”Investors are exiting some of the more economically sensitive sectors of the market and going back to the old stalwarts of tech, where you get reliable growth,” Arone said of the rise in tech shares.

EUROPE DECOUPLED

Somber economic numbers earlier in the day in Europe, including eurozone data pointing to a faltering recovery, doused stock market gains in Asia overnight and also caused the euro to recoil further from recent peaks.The loss of momentum came after fresh numbers painted a muted economic outlook, with purchasing managers’ index releases from France and Germany as well as the wider euro zone falling short of expectations.

“The survey contains some strong evidence that the recovery has slowed in August, particularly in the services sector,” said Moritz Degler, senior economist at Oxford Economics. The euro fell 0.61% to $1.1787 and also ended down for the week, after seven weeks of gains against the dollar.U.S. Treasury yields declined for the week, showing the preference for safe-havens. The shift short-circuited last week’s rally and resumed the downtrend that has largely prevailed all year.

Analysts pointed to rising coronavirus infection numbers having tempered economic activity. On Thursday, France experienced a post-lockdown record in new infections, while countries across the region imposed fresh travel restrictions.Europe’s troubles weighed more heavily on oil, which lost about 1% on Friday on concerns about the global economic recovery, renewed coronavirus lockdowns and rising crude supplies.

Brent crude futures settled at $44.35 a barrel, down 55 cents, or 1.2%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $42.34 a barrel, falling 86 cents, or 1.1%. Brent fell about 1% for the week, while WTI saw a weekly rise of nearly 1%.Spot gold dropped 0.3% to $1,937.69 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.12% to 1,934.60 an ounce.

WordPress developer said Apple wouldn’t allow updates to the free app until it added in-app purchases — letting Apple collect a 30% cut

  • WordPress is adding in-app purchases to its previously free iOS app after claiming Apple prevented it from making updates until the change was made, The Verge reported Friday.
  • WordPress’ founding developer said in a tweet Friday that Apple cut off developers from making updates to the app unless they started letting users buy domain names within the app — a service the app doesn’t currently include.
  • The Verge reported that WordPress agreed, meaning Apple effectively pressured a free app into monetizing itself, allowing it to take a 30% commission on future purchases.
  • Apple’s App Store policies, particularly its requirement that app developers use Apple’s payment systems and give the company a 30% cut, has frustrated developers for years — and recently, lawmakers who say it’s monopolistic behavior.
a close up of a wire fence: WordPress developer said Apple wouldn't allow updates to the free app until it added in-app purchases — letting Apple collect a 30% cut

Apple’s battle with app developers heated up again Friday after WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg claimed that the company locked developers out from making updates until it added in-app purchases to the free iOS app, The Verge reported.

“Heads up on why @WordPress iOS updates have been absent… we were locked by App Store. To be able to ship updates and bug fixes again we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans,” Mullenweg tweeted Friday.

“I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions,” he added.

Mullenweg’s tweet referenced Apple’s policy requiring app developers to utilize the company’s own payment systems for any purchases made on iOS apps, of which Apple then takes a 30% commission.

The policy has drawn the ire of developers for years, but the crackdown on the WordPress app is even more controversial because the app doesn’t currently offer any purchases at all, and there’s not a good reason why it would.

WordPress, the hugely popular website builder that powers around a third of the internet, is open-source, meaning people don’t pay to create websites using it. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a commercial entity that helps users create sites built on that open-source software, and it makes money by selling domain names and other paid website hosting and management services.

WordPress.com also develops the “WordPress” iOS app (that Apple took action against on Friday), which lets users create and manage WordPress-based sites for free — whether or not they pay WordPress.com for a premium domain name.

But because the app is developed by the commercial entity, Apple decided that WordPress.com needed to offer an option to purchase those premium domain names through the app — a 30% cut of those purchases would then go to Apple.

An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that, per App Store policies, apps — including WordPress — operating across multiple platforms can let users access a service on their iOS app that they paid for on a different platform (such as a website), but the developers then have to offer the ability to purchase that service in the app, too.

That reasoning has angered the open-source community because the app itself is associated by users with the open-source WordPress project — not the paid services offered by WordPress.com — so they see it as unfair to force the developers to monetize a free app that isn’t designed to make money in the first place.

As Stratechery’s Ben Thompson put it in a tweet: “I am admittedly puzzled as to why Apple is denying me updates to the open source app for my open source web site because one user of that app happens to sell domains.”

Mullenweg told The Verge that WordPress has already agreed to comply with Apple’s demands and within 30 days will add in-app purchase options for the paid services offered by WordPress.com. Apple’s spokesperson told Business Insider the company approved WordPress’ latest update while they work on bringing the app into compliance.

Apple’s actions against WordPress come barely a week after Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game “Fortnite,” launched lawsuits against Apple and Google over the same in-app purchase policy (Google also collects 30% on purchases). The lawsuits have rallied several major app developers behind Epic, including Facebook, Spotify, and Match Group (which owns dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge, Match, and OkCupid).

The legal challenges thrust both Apple and Google back into the antitrust spotlight just weeks after their CEOs were grilled during a congressional hearing by lawmakers who argued the companies were unfairly using their size and market power to stifle competition and asked Apple CEO Tim Cook specific questions about how Apple treats developers.