Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, also called Eid Qurban or Bakri-Eid, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year. The festive season that starts with the beginning of the monsoon continues and Muslims look forward to Eid al-Adha, also called Bakr Eid or Bakrid in India. Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al -Adha as the ‘festival of sacrifice.’ Bakrid is the second major Eid for the Muslims. While Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan, Bakrid is known to conclude the annual Haj pilgrimage. The date of Bakrid, according to the Islamic calendar, is supposed to be on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah or the ‘month of the pilgrimage’. Muslims usually go on pilgrimage on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of the month culminating in the Eid al-Adha. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

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Bakr Id/Eid ul-Adha is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on Eid al-Adha. Islamic stores, businesses, and other organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Those wishing to use public transport on the day may need to contact the local transport authorities to check on timetables. Large scale prayer meetings may cause local disruption to traffic. This is particularly true of areas of India with a predominantly Muslim population.

On Eid al-Adha, many Muslims pray and listen to a sermon at a mosque nearby. They also wear new clothes, visit friends and family. Many Muslims symbolically sacrifice a goat or a sheep as an act of Qurbani. Special food is prepared on Eid al-Adha and shared with relatives. A portion of the food is also distributed among the poor and needy. This represents the sheep that God sent to Ibrahim to sacrifice in place of his son. On this day, Muslims sacrifice a goat, a sheep, or any other animal to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to surrender his son Ismael to fulfill Allah’s command. Ibrahim was determined to do what Allah wanted him to do. And on the day when he decided to make the supreme sacrifice, Shaitan attempted to dissuade him, but he drove the evil away and proceeded further. Allah was pleased by his devotion, and a message was sent through Jibreel to Ibrahim. And the message granted life to Ismael and Ibrahim was asked to offer a sheep instead. Therefore, on this day, Muslims sacrifice an animal and divide the meat into three equal portions. They keep one for themselves while they give the other two away to relatives and the needy. Fasting on Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr is strictly forbidden. Eid al-Adha, or Bakrid, celebrations usually last for three days. The festival is celebrated with a lot of fervor among Muslims around the world. Although, the traditions may vary according to the country and its own local customs. The celebrations include visits to mosques and offering of prayers for peace and prosperity, as well as a special feast that mainly contains mutton preparations. Some of the most delicious Bakrid feast dishes include mutton biryani, mutton korma, mutton keema, bhuni kaleji, as well as a range of delectable desserts like sheer khurma and kheer.

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Since India celebrates a day after Saudi Arabia, except certain states, this year Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on August 1, a day after Saudi. However, Kerala, like Saudi, will celebrate on July 31. This year however celebrations are likely to be low key amid the coronavirus pandemic.  In Ahmedabad, for instance, animal sacrifice in public places or animal processions in the city have been prohibited. Given all the restrictions and safety measures on account of the coronavirus pandemic, Bakrid will only be celebrated with one’s direct family that one lives with, however, you can always wish your near and dear ones from a distance and not breach any safety measures.

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Rakshabandhan in 2020: How it is going to be different…

“There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” –Astrid Alauda

Rakshabandhan is popular, traditionally Hindu, annual rite, or ceremony, which is central to a festival of the same name, celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture. The festival is a festival of love, care, and happiness. It symbolizes the existing love between brother and sister. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

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Despite being a part of Hindu culture, due to its moral values, the festival is celebrated by other cultures as well. Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgment of their benefaction.

Every year, this festival has been awaited by all of us. It gives a chance for the celebration of a selfless and beautiful relation. For some families, this is the occasion where sisters get a chance (out of their busy schedule) to finally visit their brother and celebrate their love. The occasion begins from the previous day itself, with sisters buying beautiful rakhis and sweets for their brothers and applying Mehendi on their hands. Next early morning, both sisters and brothers dress up in new clothes. The sister ties Rakhi on brother’s hand offers him sweet and sings love songs for him depicting brother-sister relation. The brother then gives her sister a gift and along with that a promise of “protection against any problem in her life.”

Every year, this is the time when families travel to each others’ houses to celebrate the festival. But this time, the festival falls amid these harsh times when the whole world is standing against a pandemic, COVID-19. Rakshabandhan is the first major festival of Hindus after the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, it is a challenge for all of us to get along with the charm of the festival by taking all the precautions and by maintaining social distancing. This year, it is difficult for sisters to visit their brothers if they live in a different city or state. Each year, we can easily have a get-together and celebrate the festival. But, every year, we have our soldiers, policemen, doctors, workers who are away from their home, on their duty even during festivals for the service of their country. This time, we have got a very golden chance to serve our country and fight against the pandemic by staying at our homes. We can spread happiness and celebrate the festival with our police brothers, doctors, and nurses who are truly working as our safeguard for our protection. We can tie Rakhi out of respect to them, making them realize that they are true heroes and fulfilling the responsibilities of a brother.

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Apart from this, in this time of the internet, even though we are staying far, we are always connected through the internet. We are never apart. We can celebrate the festival over a video call. It will a new experience and it will be great fun. One more thing we need to remember that though some sisters are not able to go to their brother, due to pandemic, colleges and schools are closed. This brings young brothers and sisters together who usually don’t get holidays on Rakshabandhan when colleges run regularly. They must be together after a long time and enjoying the togetherness.

“As we grew up, my brothers acted like they didn’t care, but I always knew they looked out for me and were there!” – Catherine Pulsifer

Thinking through Act

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

Acting is basically an art of imitation or reflection or representation. It is the quality of utilizing your own spirit body and mind in being someone else. Actors on the stage do not show themselves up there, but they show the character they get into to people.”  Acting is equivalent to forgetting the original self.

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Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.

Benefits of acting

There are many benefits of acting :

  1.  It is a self-cleansing art.
  2. It helps us to forget ourselves, our worries, or goals, our life pressure, etc for the same time.
  3. It helps us to “be present”. Through acting, we enjoy “the moment”. We are at “the moment”.
  4. It helps us to understand the small little worlds as well as the big worlds of various people around us.
  5. Every act gives us a different perception that adds to build our character.

Methods of acting

  1. Stanislavski/Strasberg/Method: It uses affective memory considering our past. We need to relate to our past events. It draws situations from real life and there is an “emotional recall” as we get in touch with your emotional self.
  2. Meisner Method: It is the method based on the usage of imagination only. We need to enforce us to ask questions to ourselves. We ask the questions “what if”. We need time to contemplate under what situation will I be like this and considers the hypothetical future.

Voice Acting

Our emotions come out of our voices. Talking to a person over a voice call, we can immediately interpret if he is happy, sad, angry, guilty, lonely, or anything else. The Voice of a person gives a strong sense of the feelings of a person. Therefore, in addition to bringing the character by our body movements, we also need to bring out the character through our voice. Indeed, the voice acting is so powerful that it has opened up a separate domain for artists. Voice acting by podcasts are becoming popular day by day. It is easy to access and very interesting helping listeners to create a world of their own by listening to the voice artists. In addition, in these difficult times of pandemic, where shooting is difficult due to the rules of social distancing, podcasts are the way for artists.

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Irrespective of the form of acting, the main trick is to make your character your best friend. We need to study up on character traits; read testimonials, interviews, or watch videos. Then, we need to try to bring the traits through voice. Traits, in general, depending on age, geographical location, any distinct characteristic, or disability. There is a need to develops a culture of responsive acting. It is also important to tackles self-consciousness. It is an effective way of creating the world around us. An actor is an energy bank, always excited about his character and his story.

“Acting is a sport. On stage you must be ready to move like a tennis player on his toes. Your concentration must be keen, your reflexes sharp; your body and mind are in top gear, the chase is on. Acting is energy. In the theatre people pay to see energy.”

International Friendship Day

“True freinds are never apart, may be in distance but never in heart.”

International Friendship Day is a day in several countries for celebrating friendship. It is celebrated on July 30 every year across the globe. The day is celebrated to mark the importance of friendships and friends in promoting peace in various cultures across the globe, to cherish friendship and value the people in our lives.

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The idea of World Friendship Day was first proposed by Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho in 1958 in Paraguay. He coined this term when he was having dinner with his friends in Puerto Pinasco. The dinner hosted by Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho gave rise to the World Friendship Crusade, which is a foundation that encourages friendships across the world irrespective of race, color, religion, and ethnicity.  In 2011, the Friendship Crusade, on April 27, 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 as official International Friendship Day. It was initially promoted by the greeting cards’ industry, evidence from social networking sites shows a revival of interest in the holiday that may have grown with the spread of the Internet, particularly in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. Mobile phones, digital communication, and social media have contributed to popularize the custom. It is also celebrated by exchanging gifts and planning outings with friends. In India, people celebrate this day by giving colorful friendship bands and flowers to each other.

Those who promote the holiday in South Asia attribute the tradition of dedicating a day in the honor of friends to have originated in the United States in 1935 but it actually dates back to 1919. The exchange of Friendship Day gifts like flowers, cards, and wrist bands is a popular tradition on this occasion.

Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries. The first World Friendship Day was proposed for 30 July in 1958, by the World Friendship Crusade. On 27 April 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 30 July as official International Friendship Day with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. However, several countries celebrate friendship day in before and after the UN-designated date. In India, Friendship Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of every August. In Nepal, Friendship day is celebrated on 30 July each year. In Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on 9 April each year.

“Friendship is the base of every relation. It is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world.” 

According to the United Nations’ website, “Through friendship — by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust — we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.” The UN resolution places emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity. To mark the International Day of Friendship the UN encourages governments, international organizations, and civil society groups to hold events, activities, and initiatives that contribute to the efforts of the international community towards promoting a dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

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“Freindship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”

 

 

Serum Institute asked to revise protocol for Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial

A  Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) expert panel has sought clarifications from Serum Institute of India (SII) over its application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) seeking permission for conducting phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate for COVID-19, official sources said on Wednesday. The CDSCO has advised the Serum Institute of India (SII) to submit a revised protocol to perform the clinical trials in India for potential Covid-19 vaccine.

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The move comes when the Subject Expert Committee evaluated the submitted protocol by SII. The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 which held its meeting on Tuesday deliberated on the application by SII and asked the Pune-based firm to revise its protocol for the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, besides seeking some additional information. On Wednesday evening, SII submitted a revised protocol for conducting the trials to the DCGI. The firm plans to start phase 2 and 3 human trials in India in August. The domestic pharma giant has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing the Oxford vaccine candidate for highly infectious disease Covid-19.

“The company on Tuesday was asked to clearly define phase 2 and phase 3 part of the protocol and resubmit their application for evaluation by the SEC,” an official source said. The panel also recommended that the proposed clinical trial sites be distributed across India, the source said. “They also have not given justification for the proposed enrolment of 1,600 subjects during the trial,” the source added. Additional Director, Government Affairs, SII, Prakash Kumar Singh said, “We have submitted our revised protocol to DCGI office today evening for further action by SEC and DCGI.”

The SII which has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing the Oxford vaccine candidate for COVID-19 had submitted its application to the DCGI on Friday, seeking permission for conducting the phase 2 and 3 trials of the potential vaccine ‘Covidshield’.”According to the application, it would conduct an observer-blind, randomized controlled study to determine the safety and immunogenicity of ‘Covishield’ in healthy Indian adults. The firm said that around 1,600 participants of more than 18 years would be enrolled in the study,” a source had said.  A Lancet medical journal report has stated that a vaccine candidate developed at the University of Oxford has shown encouraging results and it appears to be “safe, well-tolerated, and immunogenic. Initial results of the first two-phase trials of the vaccine conducted in five trial sites in the UK showed it has an acceptable safety profile and homologous boosting increased antibody responses, the source said.

To introduce the vaccine, SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced and sold, has signed an agreement to manufacture the potential vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute (Oxford University) in collaboration with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca. On the partnership with AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla had said, “Serum Institute of India has entered a manufacturing partnership with AstraZeneca to produce and supply 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University.”

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These vaccines will be for India and middle and low-income countries across the world (GAVI countries), he had said. Last week, Oxford University announced the satisfactory progress with the vaccine, making it one of the leading ones among the dozens of vaccine candidates being developed around the world. The clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine on humans began in April. There was no immediate response from SII when ANI contacted them to make their version.

National Education Policy after 2020

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) with an aim to introduce several changes in the Indian education system – from the school to college level. A single regulator for higher education institutions, multiple entries and exit options in degree courses, discontinuation of MPhil programs, low stakes board exams, common entrance exams for universities are among the highlights of the policy.  Speaking to reporters, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the changes are important as the policy, which was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992, had not been revised since then.

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The NEP 2020 aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower”.The new academic session will begin in September-October – the delay is due to the unprecedented coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak – and the government aims to introduce the policy before the new session kicks in. The committee — which suggested changes in the education system under the NEP — was headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan. The NEP was drafted in 1986 and updated in 1992. The NEP was part of the election manifesto of the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) ahead of the 2014 elections.

Either one of the mother tongue or the local/regional language will be the medium of instruction up to Class 5 in all schools, the government said Wednesday while launching the National Education Policy 2020. Among other changes in the revision of the NEP, last done over three decades ago, is the extension of the right to education to cover all children between three and 18 years of age. The policy also proposes vocational education, with internships, for students from Class 6, a change to the 10+2 schooling structure, and a four-year bachelor’s program. NEP 2020 will bring two crores, out-of-school children, back into the mainstream, the government has claimed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the policy, which he called a “long due and much-awaited reform in the education sector”.

In a bid to ramp up digital learning, a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) would be created. “E-courses will be developed in eight regional languages initially and virtual labs will be developed,” Amit Khare, Higher Education Secretary, said. Top 100 foreign colleges will be allowed to set-up campuses in India. According to the HRD Ministry document, listing salient features of policy, “such (foreign) universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance, and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.” Standalone Higher Education Institutes and professional education institutes will be evolved into multi-disciplinary education. “There are over 45,000 affiliated colleges in our country. Under Graded Autonomy, Academic, Administrative and Financial Autonomy will be given to colleges, on the basis of the status of their accreditation,” he further said.

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Here are the important points in the National Education Policy 2020:

  1. The mother tongue or local or regional language is to be the medium of instruction in all schools up to Class 5 (preferably till Class 8 and beyond), according to the policy. Under the NEP 2020, Sanskrit will be offered at all levels and foreign languages from the secondary school level.
  2. The 10+2 structure has been replaced with 5+3+3+4, consisting of 12 years of school and three of Anganwadi or pre-school. This will be split as follows: a foundational stage (ages three and eight), three years of pre-primary (ages eight to 11), a preparatory stage (ages 11 to 14), and a secondary stage (ages 14 to 18). According to the government, the revised structure will “bring hitherto uncovered age group of three to six years, recognized globally as a crucial stage for the development of mental faculties, under school curriculum”.
  3. Instead of exams being held every year, school students will sit only for three – at Classes 3, 5, and 8. Assessment in other years will shift to a “regular and formative” style that is more “competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity”.
  4. Board exams will continue to be held for Classes 10 and 12 but even these will be re-designed with “holistic development” as the aim. Standards for this will be established by a new national assessment center – PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development).
  5. The policy, the government has said, aims at reducing the curriculum load of students and allowing them to become more “multi-disciplinary” and “multi-lingual”. There will be no rigid separation between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities and between vocational and academic stream, the government said.
  6. To that end, the policy also proposes that higher education institutions like the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) move towards “holistic education” by 2040 with greater inclusion of arts and humanities subjects for students studying science subjects, and vice versa.
  7. The NEP 2020 proposes a four-year undergraduate program with multiple exit options to give students flexibility. A multi-disciplinary bachelor’s degree will be awarded after completing four years of study. Students exiting after two years will get a diploma and those leaving after 12 months will have studied a vocational/professional course. MPhil (Master of Philosophy) courses are to be discontinued.
  8. A Higher Education Council of India (HECI) will be set up to regulate higher education; the focus will be on institutions that have 3,000 or more students. Among the council’s goals is to increase the gross enrolment ratio from 26.3 percent (2018) to 50 percent by 2035. The HECI will not, however, have jurisdiction over legal and medical colleges.

The Cabinet also approved changing the name of the HRD ministry to the education ministry.

Sushant Singh Rajput’s father files FIR against actor’s friend for abetting suicide

A major development in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide case, the late actor’s father has filed an FIR against Rhea Chakraborty and five other people for abetment of suicide and a string of other charges. Bihar Police has reached Mumbai and has sought Mumbai Police’s help in investigating the case.

According to sources, Rhea Chakraborty, who was reportedly Sushant’s girlfriend, used his credit cards on a Europe tour, sacked one of his bodyguards, and even has stakes in the late Bollywood actor’s company.  According to the latest reports, a four-member team has reached Mumbai and is discussing Sushant’s case with Mumbai Police. Bihar Police have asked for women constables from Mumbai Police for help in the investigation. Interestingly, this development has come weeks after Rhea Chakraborty had called for a CBI investigation into Sushant’s death, tagging Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a post on Instagram. Before claiming that she had received rape and death threats on social media over Sushant’s death, the Bollywood actress explained that she “only wanted to understand what prompted him to take the step”.

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“My son was at the peak of his acting career till May 2019. During that period, Rhea and her relatives developed an acquaintance with my son, under a deliberate conspiracy, so that Rhea could establish herself in the film industry and with an eye on Sushant’s wealth… He was later made to rent a house that was haunted, and that had an impact on my son,” Rajput’s father, K K Singh, has said in the FIR. The FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating). The Patna Police are enquiring about the statements of 38 persons, including Bollywood directors Mahesh Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and Aditya Chopra, which were recorded by the Mumbai Police.

Quoting the lawyer ANI shared, “FIR registered now as a family was in shock & Mumbai Police wasn’t registering FIR, but forcing them to give names of big production houses & get them involved. Sushant’s father has expressed his inability to go to Mumbai to fight the case due to his health issues. Therefore, the case was filed in Patna.

Rhea had earlier requested home minister Amit Shah to initiate a CBI investigation in Sushant’s death case. The Chehre actor addressed Sushant as her boyfriend for the first time in her post.

Sushant passed away on June 14 and till now close to 40 people have been interrogated as part of the ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has said that the state government will initiate a CBI probe in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case if needed. Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan talked to Thackeray over the phone on the matter. Earlier, Rhea Chakraborty had requested Home Minister Amit Shah for a CBI inquiry into Sushant’s untimely demise. “Respected @amitshahofficial sir, I’m Sushant Singh Rajputs girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, it is now over a month since his sudden demise. I have complete faith in the government, however, in the interest of justice, I request you with folded hands to initiate a CBI inquiry into this matter. I only want to understand what pressures prompted Sushant to take this step.” Apoorva Mehta heads Karan Johar’s production house and was called in by the police to record his statement. Karan Johar is also reportedly likely to be called in by the Mumbai police to record his statement in the case related to the investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Kangan Ranaut, who has expressed her willingness to co-operate during the investigation, will also be recording her statement soon.

The actor’s death has also made waves in political circles with Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan writing to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying “On behalf of every Bihari, I urge you to conduct a fair inquiry into the matter so that no talented person is victimized in future due to factionalism and nepotism in Bollywood.” Sushant Singh Rajput made his Bollywood debut in 2013 with the movie – “Kai Po Che”. He was appreciated for his performance in the 2015 movie “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!”, “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, “Sonchiriya” and “Chhichhore”.His death led to a deluge of tribute and recriminations on social media involving the Hindi film industry, which has been battling allegations of nepotism and cliques. “Dil Bechara”, his last movie that was released online on Friday on Disney+ Hotstar, has drawn praise from critics.

S-400 missile to China

The S-400 Triumf, previously known as the S-300PMU-3, is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed in the 1990s by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007. Considered to be the most advanced missile defense system in the world, the S-400 ‘Triumf’ system is capable of destroying targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers and a height of up to 30 kilometers.

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In 2017, the S-400 was described by The Economist as “one of the best air-defense systems currently made”, and Siemon Wezeman of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said it “is among the most advanced air defense systems available.” China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, and Qatar expressed their appreciation for the S-400 system, and China was the first foreign buyer to make a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014.

Amid a global uproar against China – coronavirus, a military standoff with India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, US – in just the past six months, Moscow has now announced the suspension of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to Beijing, with the resumption of deliveries yet to be ascertained.

Russia has announced the suspension of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to China and said the resumption of further deliveries is yet to be ascertained. Citing Chinese newspaper Sohu, UAWire reported, “This time, Russia announced the postponement of the delivery of missiles for the Chinese S-400 system. To a certain extent, we can say that it is for the sake of China. Getting a gun is not as easy as signing an invoice after receiving a weapon.” “They say that the work on delivering these weapons is quite complicated. While China has to send personnel for training, Russia also needs to send a lot of technical personnel to put the weapons into service,” Sohu said.

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Post-Russia’s announcement, China has reportedly said that Moscow was forced to make such a decision as it “is worried that the delivery of S-400 missiles at this time will affect the anti-pandemic actions of the People’s Liberation Army and does not want to cause trouble to China.” In 2018, China received the first batch of S-400 missile, a military-diplomatic source told Russia`s TASS news agency. Meanwhile, it should be noted that the suspension comes merely days after Russia had accused China of espionage, despite the two nations sharing considerably good relations over the years. This assertion had come up after Russian authorities had found the president of its St Petersburg Arctic Social Sciences Academy, Valery Mitko handing over classified material to the Chinese intelligence.

International Tiger Day

“Let us keep the tigers in jungles & not in history, save tigers”

Global Tiger Day, often called International Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July. It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. In the summit, governments of tiger-populated countries vowed to double the tiger population by 2022. Almost a decade has passed since then. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues. According to the WWF experts Darren Grover,  the world had lost around 97 percent of wild tigers in the last 100 years. Currently, only 3,000 tigers are left alive compared to around 100,000 Tiger a century ago.  Many international organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), are also involved in the conservation of the wild tigers.

“The roar is rare.”

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The awe-inspiring tiger is one of the most iconic animals on Earth. The tiger population across the world dropped sharply since the beginning of the 20th century but now for the first time in conservation history, their numbers are on the rise. Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, on Tuesday, released the detailed Status of Tigers Report 2018. According to the report, released on the eve of Global Tiger Day, tigers were observed to be increasing at a rate of 6 percent per annum in India from 2006 to 2018. In good news for India, Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said, the country “has 70 percent of world’s tiger population”, after releasing a report on tiger census ahead of International Tiger Day on July 29.

There are a number of different issues that tigers all around the world face. There are a number of threats that are driving tigers close to extinction, and we can do our bit to make sure that we do not lose these incredible creatures. Some of the threats that tigers face include poaching, conflict with humans, and habitat loss.  Poaching and the illegal trade industry is a very worrying one. This is the biggest threat that wild tigers face. Demand for tiger bone, skin, and other body parts is leading to poaching and trafficking. This is having a monumental impact on the sub-populations of tigers, resulting in localized extinctions. We often see tiger skins being used in home decor. Moreover, bones are used for medicines and tonics. This has seen illegal criminal syndicates get involved in the tiger trade in order to make huge profits. It really is a worrying industry. In fact, it is thought to be worth 10 billion dollars per annum in the United States alone. This is why we need to support charities and work hard to put an end to poaching and the illegal trade of tiger parts. While this represents the biggest threats to tigers, there are a number of other threats as well. This includes habitat loss. Throughout the world, tiger habitats have reduced because of access routes, human settlements, timber logging, plantations, and agriculture. In fact, only around seven percent of the historical range of a tiger is still intact today. That is an incredibly small and worrying amount. This can increase the number of conflicts between tigers, as they roman about and try to locate new habitats. Not only this, but genetic diversity can reduce because it can cause there to be inbreeding in small populations.

Since the tiger is an “umbrella species”, its conservation enables the conservation of their entire ecosystems. Several studies have shown that Tiger reserves harbor new species, which are found practically every year. Tiger reserves have also improved the water regimes in regions where they are located, improving groundwater tables and other water bodies, thus contributing favorably to the climate. This year marks the tenth International Tiger Day. On International Tiger Day, several countries discuss issues related to tiger conservation and also try to amass funds for wildlife preservation. Moreover, many celebrities also pitch in for International Tiger Day and try to spread awareness about the conditions of tigers using their massive social media presence. India is especially important for International Tiger Day 2020 as the country currently has 75% of all tigers on the planet. A lot of people are not aware of these threats, and so spreading the knowledge can help to make sure that we all do our bit to ensure that the tiger’s future is a fruitful one. There will be a lot of videos, infographics, and interesting pieces of content going around that you can share with others.

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“Tiger is a symbol of Beauty, Bravery, Strength and Nationality. So Save the Tiger, Save the Nation’s Pride.”

World Hepatitis Day

On World Hepatitis Day, let us put an end to all forms of discrimination that is meted out to people suffereing from hepatitis.

 

World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E — and encourage prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic disease and killing close to 1.34 million people every year. Hepatitis causes liver diseases and can also kill a person. World Hepatitis Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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WHO keeps this year’s theme is “Hepatitis-free future,” with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns. On 28 July, WHO will publish new recommendations on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus. HBV can be prevented among newborns through the use of a safe and effective vaccine. WHO is calling on all countries to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

Significance of the theme

WHO says, “A hepatitis-free future is achievable with a united effort.”

With 2020’s theme for World Hepatitis Day being “Hepatitis-free future”, it becomes all the more crucial to know about the nature, prevention, and treatment of these viral illnesses. Hepatitis A and E are usually self-limited infections and comparatively not as severe as the other types. Hepatitis B and C are the leading causes of hepatitis-related deaths and can lead to serious conditions and cause long-term liver damage like liver cirrhosis, acute on chronic liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. Hepatitis D usually occurs in conjunction with Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B and C especially pose a serious threat to India as suggested by the numbers.

Once diagnosed, the course of treatment is based on whether the infection is acute or chronic. In the current scenario, it is vital to get a test and have the medications started, as those with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Increased awareness through campaigns, initiatives, and discussions will help spread information as well as reduce the stigma about the disease. Awareness will also enable access to testing, ultimately resulting in early diagnosis.

WHO mentions the following points in dealing with the situation:

  1. PREVENT infection among newborns.  All newborns should be vaccinated against hepatitis B at birth, followed by at least 2 additional doses.
  2. STOP TRANSMISSION from MOTHER to CHILD. All pregnant women should be routinely tested for hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis and receive treatment if needed.
  3. LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND. Everyone should have access to hepatitis prevention, testing, and treatment services, including people who inject drugs, people in prisons, migrants, and other highly-affected populations.
  4. EXPAND access to testing and treatment. Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis can prevent liver cancer and other severe liver diseases.
  5. MAINTAIN essential hepatitis services during COVID-19. Prevention and care services for hepatitis – such as infant immunization, harm reduction services, and continuous treatment of chronic hepatitis B – are essential even during the pandemic.

Education of the masses is the way forward to find these missing millions and ensuring that they receive proper treatment and care. Only then, it is possible to drastically reduce the number of patients who would suffer from these diseases and eliminate the risk of the virus and achieve the dream of “Hepatitis-free” India.

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Let us learn to protect ourselves from Hepatitis diseases on World Hepatitis Day.

 

Rafael aircraft coming to India from France

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions. Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale program. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.

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The Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries and was selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force.  Due to its great capabilities, the first batch of 5 raflaes arrives in India in two days.

On the one hand, when there are neighbors like China and on the other hand, when there are neighboring countries like Pakistan, India needs to work on both its army and the Indian Air Force. In such a situation, 5 Rafale aircraft was given to the Indian Army yesterday. These Rafale aircraft flew from France yesterday and reached the UAE airbase Al Dhafra today. Here their maintenance and refueling work will be done. After this, these fighter aircraft will fly and arrive at Ambala Air Force Base tomorrow. With this aircraft joining the Indian Air Force, the morale of the Indian Army will be greatly elevated. However, the condition of the Airforce is not good right now because there is a shortage of squadron. This thing has been told in many reports. But with Rafael joining the Indian Army, it can play a decisive role in winning a war.

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“You can call them (Rafale) both beauty and the beast,” said Indian Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf after interacting with the IAF pilots at the airbase before they set off for India. “Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for a training mission. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021,” the Indian embassy in Paris said in a statement. India and France signed a Euro 7.87-billion ( 59,000 crores approximately) deal on September 23, 2016, for 36 Rafale jets. The IAF official said the air-to-air refueling of the aircraft will be undertaken with dedicated tanker support from the French Air Force. “Our air force pilots tell us that these are extremely swift, nimble, versatile, and very deadly aircraft,” said Ashraf while congratulating the IAF pilots on becoming the first ones to fly one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. The envoy thanked Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the aircraft, for delivering the fleet on time, the French government and the French Air Force for extending all required support.

Online Classes During Pandemic

COVID-19 began in the month of December in 2019 and soon it grew into a pandemic, leading to several losses of lives and locking down of many cities. Social distancing became the key to escape out of this problem. But, with this solution came other problems. We are able to follow social distancing by keeping us locked in our houses but this stopped students’ education too. But we can’t just stop everything due to this COVID thing. We need to find an effective solution to continue the education of students. We need to continue the functioning of schools and colleges.

Online Classes

In the times of the internet, the one and the only solution are online classes. The online way to share knowledge and information now is the internet. It has proved to be a real miracle these days, connecting millions and making information access fast and easy. Be it school, college, tuition, or coaching classes, knowledge is now being delivered to students who are sitting at their home and can learn things sitting there only. Students now need a mobile or desktop and fast internet connection to attend their online classes and learn things. It is not possible for a pandemic to stop students from learning.

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How it is a different experience?

This way of learning is totally new to everyone, be it students, be it teachers or be it parents. We were already involved in some small ways of e-learning but a complete shift towards this type of mode is  something new and challenging to everyone. Teachers are continuously involved in finding new ways to make e-learning more interactive and interseting for students. They are continuously evolving their way of teaching and trying to give them a class-type of feeling. Teachers are also learning to adapt with new softwares and explore things. Students are learning how to deal with online homework submissions, doubt-sessions and examinations. But, the problem is that the medium of interaction is always an electronic device. Hence, students are subjected to fatigue and mental stress. They seem irritated and develop body pain sitting still at a particular position holding their phones or laptops. Students are also developing stress on eyes. It is quite difficult for them to adjust with all of these. It seems that this way of teaching costs their health, both mental and physical. Besides this, internet is not available to all the areas of the country and to all the students. Poor students can’t afford high speed data. This method of teaching, is thus, a barrier between poor students and education. It is a harsh truth that they are left behind. We need to work together towards this to make education available to underprivileged students also.

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The power of “Now”

Life, a very adventurous journey has three divisions, present past and future. We all have only one life and we want to live it to the fullest and make the best out of it. In our life, we have to deal with the present, past, and future. Thus, we are often confused about which moment of life is more important and should be given maximum attention. Let us try to figure this out.

Looking into the past and future

We all tend to be far-sighted, thinking of future plans, future goals, etc. We work for our future, we save for our future, and we plan for our good future. We work hard to achieve our future goals. But, we are uncertain of our future. Yup, are you sure your future will come? No one knows. Thinking of the future and making plans according to is also important, but getting lost in these plans is not the correct way. Working in a way that misses out today and seems promising of a good future is where we are getting ditched because we will be investing in something that does not exist.

Past, on the other hand, is what we already created. It is impossible to change now what we have done 10 years ago. We can only learn from the past to improve our present and future. So, there is no point in living in the past. If we live in the past, we are stuck.

Live in present. But, why?

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”

Think deeply and question again. Are there three divisions of time or is it only one? Are there past, present, and future or is it only present? Confused? It will be clear.

Our present makes our past and our future. How? What we have today will become our past tomorrow. So, by living in the present, we create our past. By making our present beautiful, we create memories and by doing mistakes now, we create lessons to learn. Basically, it is possible to add what we want to add in our past. It is possible to create our past by designing our present in the way we want. We can also make our future in a similar manner. Whatever we do today will be reflected in our future. Whatever we want in the future, wherever we dream to stand in the future, it begins from the present. We have to work today only to reach where we want to be in the future. Our performance today decides what we will get in the future. If we want to get the best out of our life, we need to live in the present and give the best today, there is no other option.

“The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.”

“Now” is the happiness

The best and most important moment is now. It is not possible to grab it or hold it. What is possible is to enjoy it, make it the best by giving it the best and staying in that moment. Neither our past is bad, nor our future may be. It’s just certain instances of past that are bad or according to us and an imagined situation of future that may be overwhelming or fearful. But, the most precious moment is now. We enjoy it to the fullest. If we merge with the present we are truly living or we are dead. Living the present is happiness, it is the true pleasure. Make your each second beautiful. Embrace it.

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Intellectual Property Rights

What are intellectual Properties?

These are the things that emerge out of human creativity. These are the creation of the mind. Inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce fall under this. Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial Property includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications. Whereas, literary works (such as novels, poems, and plays), films, music, artistic works (e.g., drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures) and architectural design are covered by copyright.

The associated rights:

Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.

Types:

  1. Patents – A patent is an exclusive right granted by law to applicants/assignees to make use of and exploit their inventions for a limited period of time. The patent holder has the legal right to exclude others from commercially exploiting his invention for the duration of this period. In return for exclusive rights, the applicant is obliged to disclose the invention to the public in a manner that enables others, skilled in the art, to replicate the invention. A Patent Owner has every right to commercialize his/her/its patent, including buying and selling the patent or granting a license to the invention to any third party under mutually agreed terms. Patents are valid for 20 years from the date of filing an application, subject to an annual renewal fee.unnamed
  2. Trademarks – Trademarks are another familiar type of intellectual property rights protection.  A trademark is a distinctive sign which allows consumers to easily identify the particular goods or services that a company provides. Some examples include McDonald’s golden arch, the Facebook logo, and so on. A trademark can come in the form of text, a phrase, symbol, sound, smell, and/or color scheme. Unlike patents, a trademark can protect a set or class of products or services, instead of just one product or process. Picture1
  3. Copyrights – Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of original work, including the right to copy, distribute, and adapt the work. Copyright lasts for a certain time period after which the work is said to enter the public domain. Copyright gives protection for the expression of an idea and not for the idea itself. Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to sell, publish, and/or reproduce any literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, or architectural work created by the author.download
  4. Trade secrets – Trade secrets are the secrets of a business. They are proprietary systems, formulas, strategies, or other information that is confidential and is not meant for unauthorized commercial use by others. This is a critical form of protection that can help businesses to gain a competitive advantage. Trade-Secrets

Why Are Intellectual Property Rights Important?

  1. Intellectual Property Creates and Supports High-Paying Jobs
  2. Strong and Enforced Intellectual Property Rights Protect Consumers and Families
  3. Intellectual Property Drives Economic Growth and Competitiveness
  4. Intellectual Property Rights Encourage Innovation and Reward Entrepreneurs
  5. Intellectual Property Helps Generate Breakthrough Solutions to Global Challenges

Neuralink brain chip

Elon Musk‘s mysterious Neuralink startup is working on a brain-computer interface that will allow wearers to stream music directly to their brain, the technology entrepreneur has claimed. Mr. Musk, who also heads SpaceX and Tesla, is set to reveal new information about the mysterious startup next month but has been slowly releasing details over Twitter in recent days. The device that allows the human brain to connect to a computer could be implanted in a person for the first time later this year, announced the founder of Neuralink neurotechnology company, the tycoon Elon Musk. This crazy project of Elon Musk and his startup seems to be going well. Elon Musk said on Twitter that the Neuralink is working on an “awesome” new version of the company’s signature device. “Clearly better than Utah Array,” he said contentedly.

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Neuralink’s ambitions are really great! The main purpose of the device is to compensate for entire sections of the brain lost due to a stroke, accident, or congenital disease. The billionaire businessman said that people would soon be able to use the brain chip technology of Neuralink to stream music into their brains without any special efforts. According to Musk, Neuralink chip would also be able to control hormone levels and help with anxiety relief and some other mental issues.  The Tesla CEO noted that those who are willing to get Neuralink chip into their brains would go through a process similar to laser eye surgery.

One part of it will involve a neurosurgical robot, which fits flexible “threads” into the brain connected to a tiny implantable computer chip. A research paper detailing the device claims that a single USB-C cable will provide “full-bandwidth data streaming” to the brain. Neuralink has 11 job postings listed on its website, offering roles for a mechanical engineer, a robotics software engineer, and a “histology technician”. Over the weekend, Mr. Musk made a request for people with specific expertise in wearables. Earlier this month, Mr. Musk hinted that Neuralink’s chip will be able to cure depression and addiction by “retraining” the parts of the brain responsible for these afflictions.

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Of course, it is not yet clear what the updated concept looks like and whether it will work at all. SpaceX and Tesla chief, however, is full of optimism and enthusiasm. “The potential is truly transformational for restoring brain & motor functions,” he said in his tweet on Monday. If the arrival of the first tests on the human brain is encouraging, the road is long until the actual implantation of Neuralink. In another tweet, he says: “First, we need to make it super safe & easy to use, then determine the greatest utility vs. risk. From initially working to volume production & implantation is a long road.” Though the company is yet to make an announcement over its official plans, Musk recently said that there will be a progress update on August 28.

Neuralink was founded in 2016 and since then the company has only held one public presentation about how the technology will work. In 2019, Musk had said that Neuralink was developing a “sewing machine-like” device that would provide a direct connection between a computer and a chip inserted inside the brain.

The practice of gratitude

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Ekhart Tolle

Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness, is a feeling of appreciation felt by or similar positive response shown by the recipient of kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity, towards the giver of such gifts. Gratitude turns what we already have into enough. It gives us a feeling of satisfaction and eternal peace. Gratitude is the best medicine, it heals one’s mind, body, and spirit, and it attracts more things to be grateful for.

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Why do we need to practice gratitude?

“The struggle ends where gratitude begins”.

We all are surrounded by beautiful nature, we have our favorite people around us and we have enough food, clothes, and facilities. But, it is quite common that we take these things for granted. When we take things for granted, we are not satisfied with what we have and we strive to get something else, if we get it, then again we want something else, and we are never satisfied. Consider the present situation where we all are sitting at our respective houses. Earlier we could freely roam around, walk-in streets and parks, visit beautiful places, enjoy the fresh air and beauty of nature. But, we used to take all these for granted. We were really not grateful for the places around us, the beauty around us. But, now we realize its importance. The reality is that we always have enough of the resources around us for our survival. But, sadness drives in when we don’t appreciate what we have and take that for granted. Each one of us is living a life that is actually a dream life for a second person. So, just embrace it.

Imagine your life without the people around you, who are always there with you and support you. If you remove them from your life and think deeply, you will realize that they have a big role to play in your life which you never really thought about. The people around you are precious, value them, and be grateful to them that they are with you. Imagine a day without food, clothes, shoes, or air. If you do this exercise, you realize that you have enough of these things. Your desire to eat in a restaurant and to wear stylish clothes was really not that important. You get your food every day, you have clothes and shoes to wear. So, be thankful for what you have. Each and everything we get in our life, each and everything happening to us is very valuable to build us, to build our personality. Everything happens for a good reason. Being thankful for everything we get and for every event we come across gives us a satisfactory feeling, it eliminates negativity and makes our life more pleasurable. Saying thank you to another person pleases them and us too.

What do we get out of it?

A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. The day you start practicing gratitude, it never ends. The more you express your gratitude for what you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for. It gives you immense peace, happiness, and satisfaction. It rewires our brain and reduces stress. It boosts our immunity, improves relationships, and makes each day more beautiful. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Gratitude is the most wonderful feeling. Once you start practicing it, there is no way back.

“Thank You ” is the best prayer anyone could say.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

The initial trial data for the COVID-19 vaccine that has been developed in a joint collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The data has been widely awaited as the world looks forward to some good news on the front of a vaccine that could shield people from the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has already infected over 14 million people worldwide and killed over 6 lakh.

The potential vaccine is already in large-scale Phase III human trials to assess whether it can protect against COVID-19, but its developers have yet to report Phase I results which would show whether it is safe and whether or not it induces an immune response. The developers of the vaccine said this month they were encouraged by the immune response they had seen in trials so far and were expecting to publish Phase 1 data by the end of July.

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How does the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate work?

When someone is infected with the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), the reason it spreads in the body easily is because of the spikes on its surface. These spikes, known as the ‘spike protein’, allow the virus to penetrate cells and, thereafter, multiply. The vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, which belongs to a category called non-replicating viral vector vaccines, tries to build the body’s immunity against this spike protein. The idea is to create antibodies to fight this spiked surface so that the virus does not even have the chance to penetrate the cells. The vaccine uses a different virus — in this case, a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that infects chimpanzees — to carry just the code to make the spike protein, like a Trojan horse. The adenovirus, genetically modified so that it cannot replicate in humans, will enter the cell and release the code to make only the spike protein. The body’s immune system is expected to recognize the spike protein as a potentially harmful foreign substance and starts building antibodies against it. Once immunity is built, the antibodies will attack the real virus if it tries to infect the body.

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Since the Covid-19 vaccine has been developed by a United Kingdom-funded university, UK will have intellectual property rights. Other countries such as India will need to enter into commercial deals or understanding via foundations such as Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). AstraZeneca also entered a deal with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses for low-and-middle-Income countries, with the first 400 million nicely before the end of 2020. It is not yet clear how many doses India will be able to land at first since the rollout of the vaccine will be subject to considerations that are commercial as well as that of equity. The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has described the Oxford vaccine as the leading candidate in a global race to halt the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people. More than 100 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to try to stop the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 people and ravaged the global economy.

Maybe we all were ‘the same’

We have often heard the saying, “Everyone is unique”. But let’s try to question this. Is this really true? Okay, very much debatable! But, let’s proceed with it slowly.

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We grow up in a society where we face comparison knowingly or unknowingly. No one can escape the trap of comparison. Comparison with a second person for grades, for projects, for skills, for the job, for salary, and whatnot. But, then we decide, or let’s say realize that this is not the correct way we are seeing things. We now understand that each of us is unique. Yes, it is true to some extent. We are unique in the way we think, in the way we perceive a situation, the talent we have, the skills we acquire, and the level of our creativity. But, this uniqueness is not out of birth, it is developed.

When we say each of us is different, we start imagining a situation, where we all have everything different. We think that the kind of situations we are in is less likely to be experienced by others or maybe, at least not at that point in time. Sometimes, we come across some difficult situations and we are stuck, we might feel low and might feel that we are the one who is stuck here, there are people out there with a very smooth and happy life with no difficult situation arising in their life. But, the thing is that life offers the same set of problems in each one’s life and the no. of problems with the same difficulty level is also the same. We all experience ‘the same‘. We all come across similar situations in our lives and then label them as “good” or “bad” according to our personal opinion. Now, we call them, good or bad experiences and then count the number of bad experiences we had, to classify our lives as a ‘happy life’ or ‘struggling life’.

To better understand, think of life as a game. We all are players of the same game. Initially, we don’t know whether we will find the game interesting or not but, we all need to start playing. Then, we proceed with playing the game. We all come across different levels of the game in order of increasing difficulty. Some are playing the game with great enthusiasm and interest, collecting a lot of gems, health/lives, and rewards, which will be helpful for them in coming levels. While some are going at the same pace with quite low enthusiasm, hardly collecting gems and lives, or they are stuck at a particular level. Those who have collected rewards and lives can now use these in the difficult levels of the game too, to easily clear that level. But, those who were not able to collect rewards are stuck there watching their fellow reaching higher levels. Some of those in the lower levels of the game can again try the previous levels and collect gems, learn the strategy, and move forward, while some of them are tired and can’t play the game more and they quit. This is how the game goes on.

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So, we all are playing the same game. We all come across the same situations and the same difficulties. The thought that we are the one coming across the difficulties of life arises because we don’t have enough knowledge of others’ lives. We only see their lives from outside. We can say we know the points of each player in the game (it is there on the scoreboard), but what we actually don’t is the details, i.e. how much gems, lives, and rewards each of them have collected. We all started from the same point and proceeded along the same direction but eventually end up getting different results. The gems, lives, and rewards that we collected on our way and the attempt we made for it kept us making different from each other. So, if you look at those who reached the final level, they may have different skills and talents because of the way in which they proceeded but they have similar perceptions.

BLUIS (Bhubaneswar Land Use Intelligence System)

The Bhubaneswar Land Use Intelligence System is a geo-tagged repository that would monitor and detect all government lands in Bhubaneswar. This will be done by using high-resolution satellite imagery. For safeguarding government lands from encroachments by land grabbers- the launch of BLUIS makes Odisha the first state in the country to use satellite technology and artificial intelligence. Any attempt to change the use of government land in Bhubaneswar, BLUIS will raise alarm and guide the enforcement staff to the exact location of encroachment. ‘BLUIS’ and ‘Litigation Management System’ are among the 8 Technology-driven Solutions that were launched under the 5T initiatives by the Chief Minister.

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Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on 8 July 2020 unveiled BLUIS which would monitor changes in all government lands in Bhubaneswar by leveraging high-resolution satellite imagery. Along with that, he launched 8 technology-driven solutions under 5T initiatives for Home and GA & PG Departments through video conferencing. Along with BLUIS, the chief minister launched applications like e-Pravesh, e-Bhawan, e-Atithi, HRMS 2.0, HRMS mobile app, LMS 2.0, ORTPSA to improve public services. The 5T Initiative (Technology, Transparency, Teamwork, and Time Leading to Transformation) model of governance, launched in August 2019, requires each department of the State Government to draw up an annual work-plan for faster, better public service delivery systems leading to achieve transformational goals. Launching the services, Patnaik said that the 5T model of governance along with Mo Sarkar has brought about a perceptible improvement in the quality of governance and has eased the delivery of public services.

Encroachment of government land in the capital city of Bhubaneswar will no more be easy for land grabbers as the Bhubaneswar Land Use Intelligence System (BLUIS), a web and mobile-based solution, launched by Odisha government would raise alarm over attempts to change the land use. According to the government, BLUIS is a geo-tagged repository of all the government lands in Bhubaneswar, created through high-resolution satellite imagery to detect all changes taking place on government lands.

Odisha becomes the first state in India to use high-resolution satellite imagery utilizing space technology and artificial intelligence to monitor government lands. The lack of transparency and accountability of the enforcement in the current mechanisms and the increasing encroachment of government lands in Bhubaneswar resulted in the development of BLUIS.

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“Bhubaneswar is one of the fastest-growing cities in India witnessing land-use changes on a daily basis. In the process, precious public land is prone to encroachment. The present mechanism of detection and enforcement lacks adequate transparency and accountability,” a senior officer said emphasizing real-time monitoring. A mobile application would alert the enforcement authorities of any new construction on government lands. The GPS on the application guides the enforcement staff to the exact location. Evidence of enforcement is uploaded on the application as geo-tagged images and videos,” he said. As per follow-up action, a case will be filed for removing encroachment. The Litigation Management System, an online application to record information on legal cases and enable end-to-end communication between government officials and advocates during different stages of a case, was also launched. It provides a smart technology solution to monitor court cases from initiation, online appointment scheduling, and allotment of the case to government advocate for preparation and submission of counter-affidavit.

Balance life with balance

‘Balance’, a word, simple and easy to understand but yet difficult to put in reality. The most crucial thing for the smooth running of life is ‘to maintain balance’, balance in everything, the balance of emotions, the balance of relations, the balance of food, the balance of thoughts, the balance of exertions, and whatnot. As we grow, we discover that a mistake we did earlier in life was due to a lack of balance of certain things at that point in time. Any problem that we face can be solved if we are able to identify what all things need to be balanced to manage this problem.

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Life is all about maintaining a balance between various factors/parameters that govern our life. And this balance is unique for each individual, in the sense that the importance of various elements of one’s life is different for different people. No one can decide it for us that how much importance to give to certain things that to others to maintain a balance. The balance of various things of our life that we make depends on our priorities, our comfort, our boundaries, and our mind and heart. The balance of things for a perfect life for two different people can often be very different.

We can understand it in this manner: whenever we cook food, we add all the spices in some specified amount according to our taste depending on the level of spicy food we prefer. Also, we add salt according to taste. If we try to add more of any particular spices, let’s say red chili, then it may ruin the taste of food for us as we can’t eat that spicy. However, the same food can still be found yummy by some other person who loves to eat spicy and is comfortable with eating spicy food. The same is the case with adding more or less salt. Here salt and various spices are similar to the various important elements of our life.

A perfect balance is a solution to every problem. But the reality is, it is quite difficult to figure out what is a perfect balance for us, what will work for us. It is a process of self-learning and self-realization. We can learn this only after making some mistakes as we move forward in life.

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Let’s discuss some of these balance that we need in brief:

  • The balance between various relations – We humans hold tons of relations in our entire life. It starts from the day we are born and it keeps on increasing as we grow. Each relation is important and can be maintained through proper balance.
  • The balance of thoughts – We need to balance between positive and negative thoughts. Though it is said always to be positive and always think positively, it is not true. It is also important to have some negative thoughts. It helps us to make back-up plans, it makes us aware, it can also boost us sometimes. But, again, a balance between the two is important.
  • The balance of emotions – We are humans and emotions are the gift we got that make us different from other creatures. Each human gets all types of experience. Even if you are a saint, you will find yourself getting angry. The thing is how you took your emotion and how you are managing it to bring the best out of you.
  • The balance of food – We need a balanced diet to maintain good health. A balance of various nutrients namely, protein, carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, etc is important for a healthy lifestyle.
  • The balance between work and home – Another important balance is the balance between work and home. Our work helps us to improve and grow and it keeps us focused, our home is our strength, it is our backbone and provides us emotional support. It is important to have a balance between the two.

So, the trick is to figure out the balance which will work for us in life and work with it. We should also understand that what might be a perfect balance for us today may not be a perfect balance for us tomorrow. So, it needs to be a bit flexible. We must realize that the small word ‘balance’ has a big importance for the smooth functioning of our lives.

Photonics in fruit grading

Fruit commercialization is adopting the scientific method and detecting, grading,
packaging the fruits on the basis of comprehending the physiology metabolism law,
protecting and improving the quality, and achieving the change from the elementary
raw material to high added-value commodity. Nowadays, reducing the consumption
of post-harvest fruit is the most concerned question for the world agricultural trade. It
was reported that the consumption of post-harvest fruit in developed countries accounted for the 15-20% of the total amount. China is the world’s largest fruits and vegetable production country. The breeding, culturing, and pest control was paid
much attention, however, the post-harvest processing technology was neglected, the
question of detecting, grading, transporting, preservation was not solved, so the lost of
post-harvest fruits and vegetables in circulation was huge, the loss ratio was
30%~40% every year.

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With the rapid development of science and technology and computer vision technique
to the development of agricultural field, new methods of non-destructive detection for
fruit quality were provided. The main methods included optical properties, sonic vibration, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), machine vision technique, electrical properties detection, computed tomography and electronic noses technique and so on.

In recent years, fruits (of any variety) has become one of the most dependable organic product produced by farmers across the world; this lived much to its expectation as it serves not only for direct consumption, but also as a raw material for other products. Organic products grading and sorting is a vital procedure for producers, which influences the natural products quality assessment and export market. Despite the fact that the grading and sorting can be and has always been done by human, it is slow, tedious and prone to error, hence the need to evolve a smart fruit grading and sorting machine system. Researchers, at various level had come up with various designs with different algorithms for fruit grading by utilizing textural and morphological elements to distinguish the healthy fruits from the defected ones. Subsequently, these features, otherwise known as optical sorting, is the automated process of sorting solid products using sensors. Such sensors utilize product driven knowledge of the picture preparing system, by detecting the colour of fruits, shape and other auxiliary properties. The sensor (sorter) compares fruits based on client’s characterized acknowledgment to distinguish, sort and expel defected fruits and other foreign material from the creation line or to isolate result of various evaluations.

More LCA Tejas for the IAF

Tejas is an LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s aging MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”. It was developed as a replacement for older Mig-21 Aircraft.

As of 2019, the Indian Air Force has planned for a total of 324 Tejas in several variants. The first batch of 40 Mark 1 aircraft consists of 16 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standards that were delivered in early 2019. The delivery of the second batch of 16 Full Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft commenced in late 2019 and led to the formation of the second Tejas squadron — No. 18 Squadron IAF Flying Bullets — in Sulur on 27 May 2020. The IAF will also go on to receive eight twin-seat trainers. The next 83 are to be to the upgraded Mark 1A standard. By the time these first 123 are delivered, the Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2025–26.

Recent news says that India is likely to finalize the INR 40,000 crore contract for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas jets, 20% cheaper from previously quoted price, next February at DefExpo-2020 event in Lucknow city, Uttar Pradesh state. In November 2016, Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), India’s highest decision-making body on procurement, approved the purchase of Tejas Mark-1A fighters by the IAF at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore. Subsequent negotiations between defense ministry, Indian Air Force (IAF), and manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have helped bring down the price of the jets from INR 50,025 crore to INR 40,000 crore, Indian media reported late last week. “The draft contract of the deal has been readied by the HAL and the cost of the deal has now come down to around Rs 40,000 crore. This is Rs 10,000 crore less than the Acceptance of Necessity given by the Defense Ministry in 2016,” defense sources said. In December 2017, the IAF had issued a single-vendor tender to the HAL for procuring 83 LCA, but the negotiations and other related issues have been going on since then mainly due to issues over the price.

The aircraft will have improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite, an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that will significantly enhance its capability.  The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) had provided the Final Operational Clearance to the Tejas LCA earlier this year during Aero India in Bengaluru approving its capabilities including beyond visual range air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities as well as longer endurance through mid-air refueling. In a previous order, the IAF had signed a deal with the HAL for 40 Tejas LCAs. So far, around 18 LCAs have been delivered to the IAF from the previous order.

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BIGGEST TWITTER HACK IN US

Some of the hackers, who cheat people and earn money always try to find ways to use the internet and social media platforms for their benefit. The earlier such hacks have been through online games, phishing, malware, smishing, insecure networks, physical security threats, etc. We all are aware of the very famous Ransom virus which affected a very large population. Over time, hackers change their ways to attack people and steal money.

The recent news is the twitter hack in the US of some billionaires. The Twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West were among the tens of high-profile accounts that were hijacked last night. These accounts were then used to spread bitcoin scams and fool people into donating money through a link. Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are among many prominent US figures targeted by hackers on Twitter in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The official accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Kanye West also requested donations in the cryptocurrency. “Everyone is asking me to give back,” a tweet from Mr. Gates’ account said. “You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000.”

“We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” the company tweeted. Twitter said that once they became aware of what happened, they “immediately locked down” hacked accounts and removed the tweets sent on their behalf. Twitter also limited functionality for all verified accounts, including those that showed no evidence of being compromised, while they investigated the issue. “We have locked accounts that were compromised and will restore access to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely,” Twitter said. “Internally, we’ve taken significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools while our investigation is ongoing. More updates to come as our investigation continues.”

Twitter also acknowledged that the hacks were a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully “targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.” Screenshots of the panel being posted by users are being taken down as a violation of Twitter policies. “As per our rules, we’re taking action on any private, personal information shared in Tweets,” said a Twitter spokesperson.

Some leading cryptocurrency sites were also compromised on Wednesday. Cryptocurrency platforms like Coinbase and Gemini falsely “announced” they had partnered up with an organization called CryptoForHealth, through their Twitter accounts. They claimed that the organization was going to provide people with bitcoin as long as they sent some to an address first. Other prominent Twitter accounts that were hacked were that of President Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Mike Bloomberg. Official accounts of Uber and Apple tweeted out a post that was a spam message. The spam message directed readers to invest bitcoin in the wallet address that was provided in the tweets and claimed that they would get double the money they spend.

 

Science and God

“Science” and “God”, the two words which are often seen as separate entities. These words seem conflicting to most of us and are often a topic of debate. Science seems to question the existence of God and believers of God often question why we are unable to explain the entire universe completely by science to date, a question on the success of science. We can often come across debates on televisions, radio, magazines, etc where people try to prove one as superior over the other. But, are they really two different things? Are they conflicting terms? Or are they same?

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A deeper thought over it can clear our confusion. If we deep dig, we find that indeed both are the same. We really don’t need to choose between them. Science and God, are superior powers. The differences arise when we start associating God with some particular religion and Science with the only education. In reality, science is the process of thinking God’s thought after him. “An equation is really nothing unless it expresses a thought of God”, according to Ramanujan. They both actually merge at the spiritual level.

When we talk of science, it is the theories, the fundamental laws that very well explains the nature around us. It offers an explanation of all the natural phenomena in a very beautiful way and at a very basic level. It helped us understand how to converse in the language of nature, i.e in mathematics. It gives human power. The more we as humans understand science, the more powerful we become. Visit the days when humans started to understand science to get to know about the secrets of nature, the things they imagined then are now a reality. The gadgets they considered as their dreams are now in our hands. The technology we imagine today will also become a reality pretty soon. Science gave a power to humans to achieve the impossible.

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God, on the other hand, is another superiority. There has been no proper evidence of someone seeing a God. We have not seen God, but we all believe in a “power” that is superior to all of us and many refer to this superior power as “God”. God gives humans the strength and power by making us understand the language of love and humanity. Spirituality is the heart of a human being and through God, we reach here. God helps us understand our potential and make us believe in our strengths. It changes our perception and makes the world a very beautiful and peaceful place for us. The world is incomplete without God.

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We can thus conclude,  that both Science and God are a source of immense power to human beings and both are tied together. Both speak the same language. The more faith we develop in God, the more we get close to science, the more we understand science, our belief in the existence of God becomes stronger. Louis Pasteur rightly said that “a bit of science can distance us from God, but more of it nears one to him”, and that is for sure. Diving deep into them will give us immense power and peace.

Is Nepal the origin of Lord Rama?

On July 14, Nepal PM triggers a debate: “Where is Ayodhya, the origin of Lord Rama?”. The real Ayodhya lies at Thori in the west of Birgunj. India has claimed the Indian site as the birthplace of Lord Ram,” said Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Monday while rejecting the traditional “belief” that Nepali daughter Sita was married to an Indian Prince Ram.

Oli was speaking at an event to commemorate the birth anniversary of poet Bhanubhakta, credited with the first authentic translation of Valmiki’s Ramayan into the Nepali language. “The place called Thori, near Birgunj is the real Ayodhya, where Lord Ram was born. In India, there is a great dispute on Ayodhya. But, there is no dispute in our Ayodhya,” Prime Minister Oli was quoted as saying by his press advisor Surya Thapa. Politically, Oli’s comment comes as a refutation of India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s comment made last month when he had said India and Nepal have a “roti-beti” relation referring to cross-border marriages. However, Oli’s remarks have sparked off a debate on the “real” location of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram and the capital of his kingdom as mentioned in ancient texts.

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Condemning Mr. Oli for his remarks, BJP national spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said that the Communists in Nepal will be rejected by the masses in the same way they have been in India, even as Left parties in India played with people’s faith. “Lord Ram is a matter of faith for us, and people will not allow anybody, be it Prime Minister of Nepal or anyone, to play with this,” he said in New Delhi.

Oral history, as compiled into the Ramayan by Valkimi, places Ayodhya in modern Uttar Pradesh. Ramayan tradition identifies Ayodhya as the birthplace of Ram for around 3,000 years, based on literary evidence. Lack of archaeological evidence has kept the debate raging for years. The statement, however, was not only opposed by Indian citizens but by Nepali citizens as well. Nepal PM has been taking many controversial decisions and making controversial statements in the recent days, one of which was releasing of Nepal’s map with Indian city. While Oli’s unexpected territorial claim followed by allegations that India was behind moves to have him dethroned have been rejected by New Delhi, some have looked at it with suspicion even in Nepal, accusing Oli of playing the India card to hide his own government’s alleged failures. Oli’s recent claim about Lord Rama, too, has drawn sharp reactions from both India and Nepal.

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However, clarification on the statement of Nepal PM has been given now. The Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought to shield Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s comments on Lord Ram from criticism by clarifying that he did not mean to debase the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears. The MFA said the remarks were not linked to any political subject and were not intended to hurt the feelings and sentiment of anyone. It added that as there have been several myths and references about Lord Ram and the places associated with him, the PM was “simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization.” “As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization,” it added. The ministry further said, “It may be underlined that the tradition of celebrating Bibaha Panchami where a marriage procession coming from Ayodhya, India to Janakpur, Nepal takes place every year. The Prime Ministers of Nepal and India launched the Ramayana Circuit in May 2018, of which Janakpur-Ayodhya Passenger Bus Service is an important component. These facts signify the bond of time-honored cultural affinity between our two countries and peoples.”

Financial Literacy for girls

We all are aware that education is a very important tool for all of us, to build our personality, to shape our future. It really does not matter whether we get this education from school, or from outside school, education has a key role to play behind the success of any person. But now, from school time, we are told about that education that will help us earn money by working for it. Hard-work, dedication, and skill in a particular field are told to be the requirements to be a good employee, focusing on which can help us earn money and grow. Schools and society hardly teach teenagers about the importance of financial literacy in one’s life. There is no school where students are made aware of financial literacy and its importance. But, indeed, it is a very important skill needed to get out of the ‘rat-race’.

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If we want to become financially literate, surely we won’t be spoonfed. We need to be alert, aware, curious, as well as creative enough to gather the knowledge. One needs to understand that hard work and dedication can’t get us to everything in life. Studying hard, getting a government job, with a secure future can sound peaceful, but once people get to it, people often complain about their work, problems like not getting promotions, lack of holidays, and a lot more. Employers are often blamed. But it is not employers’ fault, it is our fault that we lack financial education to get out of this “trap”. Yes, but, smart work and the desire to constantly learn and grow is what that can help us get out of the ‘rat-race’. The trick is to “stop working for money and make money work for us”.

A very major issue is financial literacy is lacking too much in girls. Yes, there are girls who are financially literate but the fraction is too low. The general mindset that society has is that there exist a father and husband in a girl’s life and they can very well take care of the finance part for them. It is common that things like fashion, cooking skills, etc are discussed with and among girls but it is quite uncommon to find them discuss stocks, investment, and finance. Apart from these, being financially literate comes with the power to overcome fear and take risks. But, it is quite difficult for a girl to take risks as a society often don’t recognize their potential. We need to overcome this mindset that keeps girls dependent on others. It is the need of the girl as well as the need of the society that they stand out strong and work for their own financial goals. Girls need to be aware and they need to become financially literate. It is also known that girls can better handle finance than boys. So, why one should not use this potential. Financial literacy for girls is also a very important and crucial step towards women empowerment. They also need to understand finance and work for their financial independence.

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Financial literacy is very important for the progress of any individual or society. It helps you get out of the trap where you start working for money and can never get out of the trap. It prevents us from becoming slaves to money and become master of it.

Mobile App ‘eBloodServices’

These days when all of us are dealing with pandemic COVID-19, it has been a very hard time for all of us and we all are contributing our parts to come out of this difficult situation. All of us are doing great as fighters. With the coming of problems, we all are thinking innovative and creative to come up with solution to it. One such step was to launch mobile app ‘eBloodServices’.Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on launched the eBlood Services Mobile Application, in partnership with the New Delhi based Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), on 25 June 2020 for easy access to blood to fight with the critical time of coronavirus pandemic.

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This application is developed by the E-Raktkosh team of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing under the Digital India scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. The application will bring transparency and facilitate single-window access to blood services of the Indian Red Cross Society, officials said. This initiative would help the people to get the blood on time just by registering on the application. Also, people can demand up to four units of blood. Blood-related services are required by many people in the country as they face certain medical conditions in their families. With the help of eBlood Services App, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time. Blood Bank will wait for as long as 12 hours for the person to collect it. The app will make it easy for those in need to request for blood units at IRCS NHQ.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said, “People who need blood can get registered on this app and know from where they will get blood.” Vardhan said, “In the last few months, I received several complaints from people facing difficulties in accessing safe blood. Many people require blood-related services regularly because of certain medical conditions in their families. Through this app, four units of blood can be requisitioned at a time and the blood bank will wait for 12 hours for the person to collect it.” At a time when the country is going through a pandemic, the mobile app will provide succour to all those who are in dire need of blood,” the health minister said. Users with this app can know the live status of blood availability at the national headquarters of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) blood bank in Delhi. He appealed to people to come forward to donate blood as their contribution is required more than ever now.

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All 89 IRCS blood banks and 1,100 branches across the country have collected more than 1,00,000 units of blood through in-house donations and from around 2,000 donation camps organized during the lockdown. Also, more than 38,000 blood donors registered with NHQ Blood Bank have been contacted and motivated to donate blood. The NHQ Blood Bank conducted 55 blood donation camps collecting 2,896 units of blood. Blood has been issued to 7,113 patients which include 2,923 thalassaemic patients as well as to the government hospitals like Lady Hardinge (624 units) and AIIMS, Delhi (378 Units).The IRCS has served more than 3,00,00,000 cooked meals and provided ration to more than 11,00,000 families.

 

 

IISERs

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) are public research institutes of India. These are the premier institutes of India. The institutes were established by the Government of India through the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to provide quality college education in basic sciences coupled with a taste research at the undergraduate level itself. The institutes were formally established by the Parliament of India through the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Act, 2010 (an amendment to the National Institutes of Technology Act, 2007). Seven IISERs have been established across the country, namely IISER Kolkata in West Bengal, IISER Pune in Maharashtra, IISER Mohali in Punjab, IISER Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, IISER Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, IISER Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, and IISER Berhampur in Odisha. The basic idea behind establishment of IISERs was to promote research-oriented training and to promote basic sciences. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar has already been established to promote natural sciences but were not enough for a large country like India with enormous number of students having the potential to go ahead with research. All IISERs were declared as Institutes of National Importance by the Parliament of India in 2012, to promote them as leading institutions in the country in the field of basic sciences along with its sister institutes mentioned above.

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The main degree provided by IISERs are BS-MS in any natural science stream. Since the institutes are new in India and so is the degree provided by them, many people in India, even the educated ones are not aware of what does this degree means and often mix it with BSc and Msc. The degree has already been offered in foreign countries like US, Germany, etc but was introduced in India after establishment of IISERs. BS-MS (Bachelor of Science – Master of Science) is a five year dual degree program. The program focuses to train students to pursue a career in academia, R&D institutes and science based industries. They are introduced with the idea of how to carry with the research and build up a career. The motivation is the reason why IISERs are equipped with world-class lab facilities and highly exceptional researches are carried out in these labs.

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Besides the BS-MS in natural sciences, as the institute is growing and establishing new departments, some of the IISERs are offering only BS (4 years )as well, not only in natural science stream but in engineering sciences and economics as well. IISER Bhopal is the one offering BS in Engineering Sciences (Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineerning) and BS in economics. IISERs are said to be on the same level for research as IITs are for engineering. Now, recently, IITs have also started offering BS-MS degrees. IISERs provide a great opportunity for young, innovative and bright minds to excel in science and research. IISERs have collaborated with many foreign universities, research institutes and industries and is rapidly gaining recognition due to the work done by its student members and faculty members. The institute is expected to excel exponentially and become a very great opportunity to students.

BOARD RESULTS AMIDST PANDEMIC DAYS !!!

Class 10th and 12th are the days of board exams. The board exams are important for all the students as well as their parents and family. The entire family eagerly waits for the board results of their child.

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Every year, Board Exams are held in India in March and April and results are usually declared around May and June. But this time, the situation is a bit different. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the exams could not be conducted, there was an unexpected shutdown of schools and exams were postponed hoping it can be conducted a few months later. But, the spread of virus could not be controlled in these days and the number of infected population kept on increasing. An initial prediction gave an estimate that the corona cases can get under control by July and hence board exams can be held in July, but unfortunately that prediction didn’t work out. The administration tried out different options so that the remaining exams could be held and students can get the marks and grades that they actually deserve. It was decided that by maintaing proper sanitisation as well social distancing rules at schools, and by following proper guidelines such as wearing masks,etc, exams will be conducted in July. Unfortunately, all these proposals could not be put into action due to the continuous increase in number of cases. It was now wise to see and care for the health of students rather than for the exams. So, it was decided not to take risk on the life of youngsters. It was announced that all the exams are to be cancelled and results are to be declared by 15th of July. The assessment will be based on the exams given by the student till then.

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Besides the challenge faced by the students, it was a tough time for teachers as well to do the evaluation while staying at home. The answer sheets of students were made to reach teachers at their home itself and they  could complete the copy-checking at their place. All updation of marks of individual students was done online and compilation was done and results of students were prepared. Results of class 10th and 12th for different boards are already declared and is  to be declared for CBSE in a few days. Since exams were not conducted in the way it used to be. Thus, this time it is expected that there will be a very easy grading. Due to this, it is expected that the a large number of board students will clear the exam. The pass percentage is expected to be high this year. Since relaxed marking is expected this time, hence most of the students are expected to be satisfied with the results. However, there are chances that a few students might find their score not satisfactory as they could have performed better if exams were held. For this, the administration has come up with the solution of re-examination for those students who are not satisfied with their result and want improvement.

The situation has been hard for all of us. Everyone tried their best to keep the situation as normal as possible. The idea of holding the examination was also supported until it was understood that this idea could make the situation worse, due to which, then the idea was dropped. After the examination, admission to class 11 has to be done. And for students of class 12th, admissions to colleges needs to be done. Hence, there was a need to wrap up with the school exams and go ahead with the competitive exams and admission process. Taking the decisions were difficult for everyone but there is a hope that the decisions taken will bring out the best results for the majority.

Anurans Vocal Communications

In the scientific book, sounds of frogs and toads is often said to be ‘croaking’. Whatever their musical qualities, vocalizations are conspicuous features of behaviour of most frogs and toads. Acoustic signalling has a great importance in the breeding ecology of most frogs. Acoustic data are used in taxonomic studies of frogs. Thus, researchers today are very interested in studying sounds produced by anurans to know about their behaviour, study their evolution, monitoring population, comparison of species and find ways for their conservation.

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In anurans, generally males are involved in bioacoustic signalling. Only a very few female and at very few times are found producing signals. Anuran vocal repertoires can be into various calls namely advertisement calls( mate calls), courtship calls( responsive calls), aggressive calls, release calls, defensive calls. These are useful in male-male and male- female communications. These sounds are also used by them to protect them from predators too. They can estimate distance between opponent and get warned.  Further, the produced sound defines the species, it’s size, it’s habitat , it’s dominance, etc in some way or other.

Advertisement calls are often referred to as mating calls and are principal signals given by males during breading season. Experiments have shown that females approach conspecific calls. Advertisement calls are often found to stimulate hormone production in females. It also expertises male’s position to other males.

The vocal behavior of male frogs often changes when females are nearby or are approaching. Courtship call are a sort of continuous trill( unlike two-note advertisement calls). These are simply increased call rates. Female courtship calls also exists. These are given in response to the calls of male, which tends to be at low intensity and therefore, are hard to hear. It enhances the ability of males and females to find each other.

Aggressive calls are produced as a sign of defence for their calling sites against conspecifics. These are often called territorial calls. Then there are release calls given when male anurans are clasped by other males. Further exists distress calls, which are generally loud screams to describe vocalisations given by frogs being attacked by predators. Alarm calls and defensive calls are to warn neighbours of danger or startle the predator, to allow victim to escape.

The pitch(determined by frequency) of sound is an indicator of anuran’s body size. The frogs with higher pitch are found to be small in size while the frogs having low-pitched calls are large and heavy. Call structure is an indicator of habitat of frogs( whether near waterfall or near sream or in forest or in open habitat). For ex: frogs living in dense forest are large in size and produce low pitched calls and vice versa. Thus, there also exists preference in calling site for different species. If male and female, both are at the same level, then high frequency components will suffer greater attenuation than low frequency components. But, if either caller or receiver is elevated, then differential loss of higher frequencies is reduced.

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Comparison of frogs living in Amazonian forests with those in floating meadow habitats revealed that forest species have significantly lower-pitched calls. The forest species generally are larger than those in open areas, and call frequency decreases with increasing body size. Calls of many species probably are not adapted for long range propagation, but for ease of localization at short distances. Phylogenetic differences probably are important as well. Forest frogs have very different call structure than open-habitat frogs. They tend to have more narrowly tuned calls with lower pulse repetition rates than open habitat frogs. Call intensity is related to factors other than habitat structure. For ex: frogs that call in open habitats tend to call in much denser choruses than those in forested habitats, and competition among males should favor the evolution of very loud calls.

Thus, understanding sounds of anurans is a very interesting part of study and researchers are working on it, striving to discover more, finding ways to conserve some endangered species( like N. sahyadrensis).