Thursday, April 30, 2020

Modi’s India Is Hurting. It Needs a Roosevelt

Small Indian companies getting decimated by the world’s harshest coronavirus lockdown finally see a ray of hope.

Details are still sketchy, but the Indian government plans to backstop banks if they increase overdraft limits by 20%, providing 3 trillion rupees ($39 billion) of new working capital to smaller enterprises, Bloomberg News has reported. A state-sponsored fund will absorb losses.

Seeing how the U.S. Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection program has been overwhelmed by demand, India needs to match urgency with careful design. My colleague Shuli Ren has noted how Chinese business owners have diverted anti-virus funding to property or wealth management products. This could happen in India, too. Yet it would be a bigger mistake to dither indefinitely because some fiscal assistance may be misused.

Three out of four Indian employees work casually for others or at family firms and farms. It’s perfectly normal for even white-collar workers to get paid in cash with no social security. Migrant blue-collar workers are either walking hundreds of kilometers back to their villages or have already returned, scared and scarred, from the cities. If broad-based help isn’t offered to small businesses, the strides the country has taken in lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty over the last 30 years might be at risk.

Since the goal is to protect workers by giving employers an incentive to pay them, hitting that objective in a highly informal economy is the first challenge. The second is channeling credit when banks, nonbank financiers and debt mutual funds — like the six local Franklin Templeton entities put into suspended animation last week — are gripped by a mistrust of borrowers that predates the pandemic. Fiscal fear-mongering is the third obstacle.

I’m assuming the state-backed advances would be offered at a concessional rate, with the interest subsidy borne in the federal budget. Banks would make loans for a fee, and turn them over to the guarantee fund, which would issue bonds to fund the purchase. Since non-payments will be made good by New Delhi, the bonds can be sovereign-backed. Who will buy them? Even if foreign investors don’t bite because of nervousness about the rupee, local banks are flush with liquidity. State Bank of India will still make money even if a customer defaults, if it sells its exposure to the fund in exchange for special sovereign bonds.

Every nudge by the Reserve Bank of India to make lenders take credit risk has fallen flat because they want the sovereign to lead. That’s where the guarantee comes in. At 1.4% of GDP, taxpayers’ exposure isn’t minor. Yet the backstop won’t meet pent-up demand. Amplifying its effect, and ensuring that banks don’t just throw money at politically connected borrowers, will require lenders to keep some skin in the game. Say the fund buys $80 of every $100 of risk, leaving $20 with banks. Just as with the U.S. protection program, lenders ought to be able to get cheap term loans from the RBI to finance their portion.

Small firms’ working capital needs swell because large customers, including the government, take too long to pay. A parallel push to get all vendor bills on a discounting platform will improve cash flows. To ensure that the extra credit actually reaches workers, New Delhi may have to defray a part of the wage bill for some time. Businesses taking the help would demonstrate regular payments into social security accounts, topped up by the government. This expensive separate arrangement might require the central bank to fund it by printing new money. With the jobless rate in excess of 23%, this isn’t a time to worry about losing India’s investment-grade sovereign rating. The country’s chances of slipping into junk-bond status are low this year anyway.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given little indication that he wants to be India’s version of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But migrant workers tossed out of cities with no food, shelter or transport won’t return without a New Deal: nest eggs for old age and healthcare. China’s hukou — or city permits — discriminate against rural workers. In India, where urbanization and labor mobility are weapons against built-in caste prejudice, a lifeline to small businesses is an economic and a moral imperative. As long as the recipients become the building blocks of universal social security, it will be $39 billion well spent.
By: Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.

Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor dies at 67 in Mumbai

New Delhi: Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor breathed his last on April 30. The actor was admitted to HN Reliance Hospital in Mumbai on Wednesday morning.

Veteran Actor Rishi Kapoor.
Rishi Kapoor was battling cancer since 2018, and was in the US for treatment for a year. The actor's brother, Randhir Kapoor, told the media on Wednesday night that he was admitted to the hospital due to his health deteriorating.

Amitabh Bachchan confirmed the news of Rishi Kapoor’s demise on Twitter.

The tweet by Amitabh read, “T 3517 - He's GONE .. ! Rishi Kapoor .. gone .. just passed away .. I am destroyed !”

Rishi was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and he returned to India from New York in September last year, after his cancer treatment. He was taken to the hospital on Wednesday morning, his brother Randhir Kapoor said yesterday.

In March this year, Neetu Kapoor took to Instagram to post a ‘meal out’ photo with Rishi. She wrote, "Meal out after a long period becomes so special!! You value each moment, enjoy every dish!”

Rishi Kapoor was last seen in the web series The Body on Netflix. He had also shot for a film in Delhi earlier this year.

Rishi Kapoor, the son of Raj Kapoor, broke on to the Indian cinema scene with his first film itself, Mera Naam Joker, in which he played the role of a child artiste. The actor received a National Award for Mera Naam Joker.

In 1973, Rishi Kapoor made his film debut as an adult, with Bobby, opposite Dimple Kapadia. The first film made Kapoor an overnight star and gave the country a new hero.

The actor's last Bollywood film was the 2018 film 102 Not Out alongside Amitabh Bachchan.

Rishi Kapoor is survived by wife and actor Neetu Kapoor, son Ranbir Kapoor and daughter Riddhima Kapoor Sahni.
Source: India Today.

World has historic opportunity for green technology boost: IEA

London: Global efforts to minimise the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic present an historic opportunity to scale up the technologies needed to speed a transition to cleaner energy, the head of the world's energy watchdog says.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said support from governments could drive rapid growth in battery and hydrogen technology to help the world to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

"I believe there is an opportunity - and I call it an historic opportunity here," Birol, an economist who took the helm of the Paris-based IEA in 2015, told Reuters.

"The big time is about to come, but they need a push," he said, adding that the economic stimulus packages being delivered worldwide offer an ideal vehicle for change.

After weeks of extraordinary turmoil in oil markets, the IEA - created to ensure steady energy supplies to industrialised countries after the oil crisis in the early 1970s - has emerged as a leading proponent of "green recoveries" from the pandemic.

Birol wants governments to broaden support for well-established paths to reducing carbon emissions, such as embracing greater energy efficiency and expanding renewable energy to create jobs and serve climate goals.

But he also wants governments to consider offering promising technologies the kind of subsidy and policy support that have helped to propel spectacular growth in wind and solar power from a low base over the past decade.

Global installed solar capacity increased from 40 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 580 GW in 2019, according to the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency.

Birol singled out lithium ion batteries and the use of electrolysis to produce hydrogen from water as two technologies poised for rapid take-off.

Lithium ion batteries can be used for a wide range of purposes, from powering electric vehicles to storing energy generated by solar or wind plants to ensure a steady supply of electricity at night or when the wind isn't blowing.


Electrolysers can be used in products as small as household appliances up to industrial-sized units for power plants. They can create hydrogen from sources such as wind or nuclear energy, with the hydrogen then used for heating or transport.

"Nobody has a problem, as far as I see, to push the clean energy technologies," Birol said. "But they want to be convinced that those policies accelerating clean energy transitions would also help economic recovery."

Although rollouts of cleaner technologies will be needed to meet energy demand, climate scientists say that the world must also reverse plans to expand oil, gas and coal production to stand a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Birol cautioned against blanket categorisation of the oil and gas industry as "troublemakers", saying oil would still be used for years to come and that the coronavirus had underscored the importance of petrochemicals.

"Today the petrochemical industry ... is one of the most critical ones helping us with the masks we are using or the sanitisers we are using," he said.

Last year climate scientists, campaigners and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which comprises pension funds and insurers managing more than 30 trillion euros ($32.6 trillion) in assets, wrote letters to the IEA to ask it to produce more ambitious decarbonisation pathways to boost climate-friendly investment.

Birol said the IEA will publish a special edition of its annual World Energy Outlook on June 18 to spell out green job-creation policy options. The IEA is also due to host a Clean Energy Transitions Summit on July 9.

Hannah McKinnon, director of the Energy Transitions and Futures Program at Oil Change International, a research and advocacy group that has been critical of the IEA's energy modelling, said she was awaiting details.

"The IEA now has an opportunity and a responsibility to close its own climate credibility gap and set out an ambitious, just and green pathway for the future," she said.
Source: Reuters.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

China acts defensive, wants 'better communication' with India over faulty test kits; rejects Australia's inquiry call into COVID-19 origin

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that India should step up communication after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) found defects in the COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits supplied to by two Chinese firms.

The ICMR had asked states and Union Territories to stop using the test kits procured from the Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics due to inconsistencies in their accuracy. When asked if an investigation will be held into the issue, Geng said that India and China are closely coordinating and cooperating with each other since the coronavirus outbreak surfaced and should “deal properly” with the matter.

File image of Chinese foreign ministry
spokesperson Geng Shuang. AP
“The two Chinese companies already issued statements. They both stressed that their COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits have the certification from the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA), meet the quality standards, and have also been validated and approved by ICMR through National Institute of Virology (NIV),” he added.
India procured around five lakh rapid antibody test kits from the two Chinese firms.

Geng also refuted claims of “economic coercion” made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, after China’s ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said that the Chinese public might avoid Australian beef, wine, tourism and universities as a response to its demand for an independent inquiry into the source and spread of coronavirus.

Geng denied the ambassador’s comments amounted to “economic coercion”. “What he said was about the concerns that the Australian side's erroneous words and deeds recently have upset the Chinese people and that they may impact bilateral relations,” he told reporters.

China accounts for 26 percent of Australia’s total trade, worth around $150 billion in 2018-19, and is the biggest single market for Australian exports such as coal, iron ore, wine, beef, tourism and education.

On being asked by a journalist about why China is opposed to an independent inquiry into the pandemic’s source, Geng said that the issue should be studied by scientific professions and not commented on by politicians. He also cast doubts on Australia’s intention behind seeking the inquiry.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson accused US politicians of speaking “barefaced lies”, adding that Washington was attacking China to divert attention from its own handling of the outbreak. "By smearing China to shirk responsibilities, the US politicians cannot erase the progress China has made in the fight against the virus or in any way help to contain COVID-19 in the US," Geng added.

US President Donald Trump suggested on Monday that he might seek damages from China over the outbreak, saying there were many options to "hold them accountable". "We are not happy with that whole situation because we believe it could have been stopped at the source," he said.
Source: FP Staff.

Why India Must Take Lead in COVID Fight and Boost R&D Expenditure

Just six years ago, we woke up to a polio-free India. India beat polio against all odds – a feat that was termed “one of the biggest achievements in global health”. But the battle against polio was not won easily. It took years of consistent government investment and mobilisation of resources to get a new oral vaccine, facilitate mass vaccination, run targeted public awareness campaigns, and develop strong public-private partnerships.

Today, as we stand at the brink of what threatens to be a prolonged battle against the novel coronavirus, let’s remember that while short-term solutions are necessary to fight the daily battle against the spread, we won’t win the war unless we seek long-term solutions.

Key among them is investing in Research and Development (R&D) to drive innovation and strengthen the public health infrastructure.

In COVID Fight, What Worked For China, Singapore, South Korea?
COVID-19 was first recorded in Wuhan, China and in a matter of months, has spread to most countries, infecting over 2.8 million and killing nearly 193,000. We’ve witnessed a diversity of responses to contain it. China was the early epicentre, but has since slowed the growth of new cases. While this is in part due to its aggressive containment measures, distinct developments have given China a slight edge. First, post- SARS and H1N1, China committed itself to accelerating Research & Development (R&D) efforts.

Second, this commitment has created a conducive environment for product-focused public health efforts.

Singapore has also reaped the benefits of investing in technology. Despite being hit earliest by COVID-19, Singapore’s existing technology infrastructure allowed it to employ innovations like AI-driven smartphone temperature checkers, contact tracing apps, nucleic acid tests, etc. All of this was made possible because of an existing recognition that investment in product-focused R&D provides long-term gains, one that is well-illustrated by its ability to conduct over 21,000 tests in just three months. Of course, this is much lower than South Korea’s statistics, which has tested 9,800 per million, but it’s miles ahead of India’s testing ratio.

Why India Should Spend Much More on R&D
In the recent past, two India-made vaccines were pre-qualified by WHO – among them the world’s first conjugate vaccine against typhoid. India-made generic drugs are saving millions of lives the world over. But compared to the rate of its development, India underspends on R&D.

Despite glaring public health challenges, the budget for its apex medical research organisation is one of the lowest among the 8 principal science government agencies. In 2018, India received approximately one-fiftieth of the patent applications filed by China.

India’s low R&D investment is further problematised by the fact that unlike other countries where research is funded in equal measure by the private sector, much of the R&D funding here is provided by the government.

Increased R&D investments can help accelerate product-focused interventions – including the development of critical new vaccines. In fact, increased spending on vaccine-related R&D is one of the most cost-effective investments that countries can make to safeguard public as well as national economic health.

Amid Corona, Important to Recognise That Innovation & Health Infrastructure Are Intertwined Recent developments have been encouraging. The Science & Engineering Research Board, an autonomous institution under the Department of Science & Technology has invited proposals from academic and research institutions to accelerate efforts to develop new vaccines and diagnostic tools for COVID-19.

However, we still need tangible commitments to ensure consistent prioritisation and sustained investment in vaccine research over several years – particularly given the not-so-recent Nipah and Zika outbreaks in India.

COVID-19 has laid bare the debilitating effects of an unknown pathogen.

Now more than ever, we must step up our commitment to invest in product-focused R&D, especially vaccine research, to offset and avert damage caused by new and existing infectious diseases.
By: Amir Ullah Khan.

Irrfan Khan, Magnificent Actor, Dies In Mumbai "Surrounded By Family." He Was 53

New Delhi: Actor Irrfan Khan died on Wednesday in Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, where he was being treated for an colon infection. A statement released by his family said that Mr Khan spent his final hours "surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about." Just hours ago, the actor's spokesperson said in a statement that Mr Khan was "still fighting the battle." The Piku star, one of Indian cinema's most respected thespians, battled a tumour for several months and returned to Mumbai some months ago after being treated in London.

Irrfan Khan is survived by his wife Sutapa and two sons. Yesterday, his spokesperson confirmed that he had been taken to the intensive care unit and later, dismissed rumours that Irrfan Khan had died.

Read the statement released on behalf of Irrfan Khan's family:

"I trust, I have surrendered"; These were the some of the many words that Irrfan expressed in a heart-felt note he wrote in 2018 opening up about his fight with cancer. And a man of few words and an actor of silent expressions with his deep eyes and his memorable actions on screen. It's saddening that this day, we have to bring forward the news of him passing away. Irrfan was a strong soul, someone who fought till the very end and always inspired everyone who came close to him. After having been struck by lightning in 2018 with the news of a rare cancer, he took life soon after as it came and he fought the many battles that came with it. Surrounded by his love, his family for whom he most cared about, he left for heaven abode, leaving behind truly a legacy of his own. We all pray and hope that he is at peace. And to resonate and part with his words he had said, "As if I was tasting life for the first time, the magical side of it."

Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, who directed Irrfan Khan in Piku, tweeted: "My dear friend Irrfan. You fought and fought and fought. I will always be proud of you.. we shall meet again.. condolences to Sutapa and Babil.. you too fought, Sutapa you gave everything possible in this fight. Peace and Om shanti. Irfaan Khan salute," he tweeted.

As news of Irrfan Khan's hospitalisation spread on Tuesday evening, the actor's spokesperson released this statement: "Yes, it is true that Irrfan Khan is admitted to ICU at Kokilaben in Mumbai because of a colon infection. We would keep everyone updated. He is under doctor's observation. His strength and courage have helped him battle and fight so far and we are sure with his tremendous willpower and prayers of his well wishers, he will recover soon." Irrfan's wife Sutapa Sikdar and his sons Babil and Ayan Khan were also reportedly at the hospital.

On Wednesday, a fresh statement was released warning against premature reports of Mr Khan's death. It's really disappointing to know that there are extreme assumptions being made about Irrfan's health. While we are truly appreciative that people are concerned, it's disheartening to see some sources spread extreme rumours and creating panic. Irrfan is a strong person and is still fighting the battle. We really request you to not fall for rumours and not partake in these conversations which are fictional," the actor's spokesperson said.

Irrfan Khan was diagnosed with an neuroendocrine tumour in March 2018, soon after which he flew to London for treatment. He returned to India in February 2019 to shoot Angrezi Medium and flew back to London after a brief stay. The actor returned to India in September last year after surgery and treatment in London.

Irrfan Khan's mother Saeeda Begum died at the age of 95 on Saturday morning in Jaipur. According to news agency ANI, Irrfan, who couldn't travel from Mumbai due to the coronavirus lockdown, paid his last respects to his late mother through a video conferencing session.

Irrfan Khan was last seen in Angrezi Medium, which released a little over a week before the lockdown was imposed in India. The actor wasn't part of the film's promotions because of his health; he spoke to his fans via a video message ahead of the trailer release of the film. His movie credits include internationally acclaimed offerings such as The Lunchbox and the Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic World.

By Gitanjali Roy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pentagon releases three videos of UFOs encountered by US Navy pilots to 'clear up' public misconceptions

The US Department of Defense has released three videos that show what appear to be unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The UFOs were encountered by US Navy pilots.

Screengrab of one of the videos release
by the Pentagon. Image/@CBSNews

The Pentagon said that it is releasing the videos “to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

Former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid tweeted saying that the three videos “only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The US needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implication."

Reid added that the American people deserve to be informed. One of the videos was taken in November 2004 while the remaining two were captured in January 2015, the Department of Defence said in a statement.

Two of the videos were published by The New York Times in December 2017.

According to a report by The Guardian, the third video was released by a media and private science group named To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. It added that the release of the footage by Pentagon will add to speculations of humans having recently interacted with extra-terrestrial beings.

“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorised release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena," ABC News quoted Defense Department spokesperson Susan Gough as saying.

Last week, a CNN report mentioned a statement where pilots have said that the Navy is updating and formalising the process by which reports of any suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities.

One of the Navy officials told CNN that they do not think that aliens have been flying in the US airspace.
Source: FP Trending.

Uncertainty over Kim Jong-un’s health shows South Korea's limited intelligence network in Pyongyang, casts doubts on future of North Korean government

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's prolonged public absence has led to rumors of ill health and worries about how it could influence the future of what one analyst calls Northeast Asia's “Achilles’ heel,” a reference to the North's belligerence and unpredictable nature.

But there's a basic question debated by the media and government intelligence services: Are the rumors even true?
File image of Kim Jong-un. AP

The exact state of Kim's health matters because it could determine the stability of the dynastic government in Pyongyang and the security of nuclear weapons that the nation has repeatedly threatened to use on its neighbors and the United States.

It's a problem that outside nations have faced for decades. Gathering intelligence on perhaps the world’s most secretive, suspicious and difficult-to-read country is incredibly difficult. And there’s probably nothing North Korea guards more closely than information on Kim’s health, which is only likely shared among a small portion of the elite, including his powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong.

At the heart of the intelligence shortcomings about North Korea is its extremely closed nature. But there is also plenty of blame leveled in South Korea at efforts there.

Supporters of South Korea’s liberal government, which remains eager for inter-Korean engagement, lament the previous decade of conservative rule, when exchanges between diplomats, government and business leaders, aid groups and others stopped under hard-line policies toward North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. This, they say, deprived spies of high-quality information sources.

Conservatives, meanwhile, blame liberals for supposedly downsizing espionage operations while pursuing inter-Korean rapprochement. They say such networks have been difficult to rebuild.

South Korea’s government has repeatedly played down unconfirmed media reports that Kim is in fragile health following heart surgery, saying it has detected no unusual activity in North Korea or any emergency preparation by its ruling Workers' Party, military and Cabinet. Without specifying its sources, South Korea's presidential office said it believes Kim is handling state affairs normally at an unspecified site outside the capital, Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that he has a “very good idea" about Kim's health but couldn't talk about it and wished him well. “I do know how he’s doing, relatively speaking," Trump said at the White House. “You’ll probably be hearing in the not-too-distant future.”

Some experts say South Korea, as well as its regional neighbors and ally Washington, must begin preparing for high-level instability that could come if Kim is sidelined by health problems or even dies. That could include North Korean refugees flooding South Korea or China or military hard-liners letting loose nuclear weapons.

Planning for those are worst-case scenarios is crucial because nobody knows for sure what’s happening, said Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Korea University who termed the situation the "Achilles' heel of international politics in Northeast Asia."

“He could very well be OK and reappear in North Korean state media again, but considering his weight and worsening shape, the risks linked to his health will sharply increase as he gets older,” said Nam, a former director of a think tank affiliated with South Korea’s main spy agency.

Kim is overweight, reportedly smokes heavily and has other health problems. Questions about Kim’s health have been raised since he missed the birthday celebration of his late grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung on 15 April, the country’s most important holiday.

Kim, who is in his mid-30s, was last seen in public on 11 April, when he presided over a meeting discussing coronavirus prevention and electing his sister as an alternate member of the political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party. State media have since reported that he sent greetings to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Monday, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Kim sent a message of gratitude to workers building tourist facilities in the coastal town of Wonsan, which is where some speculate he is staying. No photos of him were published.

South Korean intelligence and North Korean state media reports suggest that Kim could have suffered some sort of medical setback but likely not a life-threatening one, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a senior researcher at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

The root problem may be the shaky nature of South Korean intelligence. “Even after decades of work, South Korea has yet to build a reliable intelligence network to gather information on the North,” said Cha, an ex-intelligence secretary to former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. “It’s clear our government has some level of information on the North, but not enough to make a confident statement about where he is and whether he’s fully healthy.”

Finding out is important because incapacity at the top could lead to bogged-down decision-making that could boost the hard-liners who emerged following the collapse of Kim’s second summit with Trump in February last year. The Americans at that summit rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities.

The National Intelligence Service, Seoul’s spy agency, has said it can’t confirm whether Kim had surgery. If Kim emerges well in state media, he would join past North Korean officials who were incorrectly reported incapacitated by outside media.

“Kim Il Sung shot dead” remains perhaps the most famous newspaper headline in South Korean history. The 1986 Chosun Ilbo story was initially backed by a South Korean military statement that North Korea had announced the demise of its founder over loudspeakers at the mine-strewn border between the rival nations. But hours later, Kim Il Sung appeared at Pyongyang’s airport to greet a Mongolian delegation.

Another big problem is that for decades South Korea didn't have a strong grip on the location and health of North Korea’s top leadership, according to Cheon Seong Whun, a presidential secretary during the South's previous conservative government. “Anybody who says they know something for certain is just writing a novel,” Cheon said.
Byline: The Associated Press.

Coronavirus Outbreak: Mohan Bhagwat’s words against stigmatisation and blaming of Muslims is timely; throws light on RSS philosophy

Mohan Bhagwat’s comments, where he alluded to Tablighi Jamaat attendees and said an entire community should not be vilified for the mistakes of a few, deserve greater scrutiny than a brief headline appearance. The statement, part of the RSS sarsanghchalak’s televised addressed on Sunday from Nagpur to mark the Hindu ceremony of Akshay Tritiya, comes at a significant time.
RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat. ANI

India is precariously perched in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Any missteps at this stage could undo the stringent administrative effort and a nation’s collective resolve to tide over the crisis. It is easy to forget India’s unique challenge given the size and density of its population. India’s trajectory of positive cases is comparatively slow thanks to decisive and early implementation of non-pharmaceutical measures but even at this slower rate, the case count could reach 50,000 in eight days, according to latest estimates.

In a nation of 1.3 billion citizens, 50,000 may be a fraction but India lacks the resources and requisite public health infrastructure to control the scale of the pandemic once we reach stage three. Our best course of action, therefore, is to delay the transition from stage two to stage three and hope for the development of an effective line of cure or vaccination.

To achieve this objective, it is vital that India remains unified in its determination. The importance of collective action to break the contagion chain cannot be overstated. We find the pandemic has made ‘solidarity’ an essential tool in the armoury, not just an ideal to strive for.

When so much is riding on a diverse nation’s collective action, any schism that challenges national solidarity at such a sensitive time is a threat. And when that schism develops around communal faultlines in a nation that remains maimed by communal violence, the threat becomes greater.

The Tablighi Jamaat cluster outbreak presented India with one such challenge. It threatened to rip the spirit of collective resolve by highlighting the communal cleavage, and the explosion of cases caused by the ‘super spreaders’ resulted in Muslims at large in India facing stigma and blame for the surge in the outbreak.

What made matters complicated is that the allegation against Tablighi Jamaat event attendees (that included a number of foreigners) was not unfounded. The Markaz event in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin area was a sad story of administrative oversight along with defiance, obstructionism and careless attitude on the part of the organisers.

By the first week of April, there were reports of more than 25,000 Jamaat preachers and their contacts getting quarantined across 15 states and Union health ministry claiming that the Markaz event had single-handedly brought down India’s doubling rate from 7.4 days to 4.1 days.

The pandemic affected the world at different levels. It has caused fear, anxiety and panic, ravaged global economies and rendered millions jobless, taken away their livelihoods, introduced uncertainty, triggered behavioural and social changes in a fundamental way. All this churning is taking place at a time when people have gone into self-imprisonment, trading their freedoms for safety and keeping their lives in suspended animation.

In India, the Tablighi Jamaat cluster outbreak caused considerable distress and anger. It didn’t help that some of the Tablighi members faced charges of indiscipline, misogynist, lurid behaviour and were accused of attacking frontline health workers. We witnessed polarised behaviour on social media where anti-Muslim trends started surfacing.

Soon enough, there were charges of Islamophobia, and foreign press went to town claiming Indian Muslims were “feeling targeted”, boycotted and subjected to religious hatred.

In this context, Bhagwat’s comments assume significance beyond mere virtue-signalling. When the RSS sarsanghchalak says: “All 130 crore Indians are our family. We are one... We should not blame the entire community for the mistakes of a few individuals. People who are more mature in both communities should come forward and start a dialogue to remove prejudices among people’s minds.” He sends a powerful message of solidarity and asks people to rise above sectarian divides.

Bhagwat didn’t say anything pathbreaking or new, but the weight of his words lies in the fact that the Sangh, today, is ideologically, culturally, sociologically and even politically the most dominant cultural organisation in India. It is ideologically ascendant, culturally embedded and remains sociologically relevant.

And the position that it enjoys today is the culmination of decades of working with people, staying connected and attaching itself intrinsically with every stratum of Indian society. For instance, to battle the current crisis, RSS through its different organisations have initiated a massive countrywide effort. As Bhagwat said during the recent address: “More than three lakh dedicated volunteers are working at more than 55,000 locations across the country. The RSS, through its network, distributed over 33 lakh ration kits and two crore food packets till April 24. We have to work for others without taking any credit…”.

In New Delhi, the RSS unit has been distributing 1.3 lakh food packets every day including among transgenders and sex workers and have employed 4,500 cadres to carry out the task (with administrative approval).

Its Karnataka unit had pressed 8,404 volunteers into service to distribute 71,667 ration kits, 1,04,377 food packets and collect 721 units of blood from donors. The data is updated till 6 April. There is reportedly 52 kitchen running in Delhi alone.

Not just the pandemic, the organisation acts as first responders during any national crisis and executes its tasks on a mass scale. This makes the RSS more influential than any other organization in India and in terms of power, orders of magnitude stronger than its detractors.

An example of this unique power can be ascertained from the fact that — as professor Makarand R Paranjpe writes in The Print — “despite nearly a hundred years of negative propaganda and relentless battering”, RSS is “not only alive and well but in great spirits and fighting fit.” The RSS is “no longer ‘untouchable’. Instead, it had become one of India’s most significant organisations, playing a vital role in shaping the nation’s destiny.”

The RSS recognises that its strength lies in staying connected to the people, and it understands that any shift in collective mindset can only be done through conversation, engagement and persuasion over a long period of time. Calling ordinary people “bigots” for holding certain views will serve to only alienate them and harden their beliefs. The RSS understands the conservative moorings of Indian culture and the civilisational ethos in which it is rooted. This ethos runs across the length and breadth of the nation despite many cleavages of class, caste, community and ethnicity. The RSS coopts people, works with them, becomes a part of their daily lives and tries to bring systemic changes in thought through persuasion.

The goal of RSS has always been both macro and micro — unify the nation, strengthen its moral fibre and engineer India’s economic and spiritual revival by stressing on the character of the individual. The RSS believes in a Hindu Rashtra and works relentlessly towards its goal but this is not a project of religious supremacy. As Bhagwat had said in 2018 during a three-day outreach event in New Delhi: “Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist”.

This is where the organisation remains misunderstood, misconstrued and relentlessly vilified by the ‘liberal’ circle both in India and abroad. The RSS remains committed to its goal of ‘one nation’ and ‘one culture’ but the concept of Hindu Rashtra is not a monotheistic, supremacist attempt to degrade Muslims and turn them into second-class citizens. The ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is a cultural and a geographical construct that has room for all, and space for disagreements. As Bhagwat had said in the lecture, RSS respects “the sentiments of those who wish to be called “Bharatiya” and not Hindu.”

Importantly, this is not a recent shift in RSS ideology. If MS Golwalker, the successor to RSS founder KV Hedgewar, had a hardline approach towards religious minorities, the shift towards a more liberal view and expansion of RSS horizons occurred right after Golwalker, through the ‘Deoras doctrine’ propounded by Golwalker’s successor Madhukar Dattatreya, or Balasaheb Deoras.

Deoras stated: “We do believe in the one-culture and one-nation Hindu Rashtra. But our definition of Hindu is not limited to any particular kind of faith. Our definition of Hindu includes those who believe in the one-culture and one-nation theory of this country. They can all form part of the Hindu-Rashtra. So, by Hindu we do not mean any particular type of faith. We use the word Hindu in a broader sense.”

In 2002, then sarsanghchalak KS Sudarshan established the Muslim Rashtriya Manch to work for improved Hindu-Muslim relations. While Golwalker’s views on Muslims — which came at a particular time in the nation’s history — have been used as a convenient beating stick against the RSS, we must take note of Bhagwat’s recent comments where he stated clearly that Golwalker’s policy positions were “not eternal”.

“Things are said due to circumstances and in a particular context. Wo shashwat nahin hein (They are not eternal),” Bhagwat had said during the lecture in 2018.

Therefore, when Bhagwat warns against stigmatising and blaming Muslims over the “mistakes of a few”, he is not merely doubling down on the liberal nature of RSS philosophy and exposing vilification campaigns against the organization as that arising from insufficient understanding and prejudice, he is also laying down a charter of approach for the wider public. Since the RSS is the closest to an ecclesiastical command of sorts for Hindus — in an extremely loose sense of the term — any such attempt to mitigate ill-will between communities is likely to have a deeper impact. Bhagwat’s comments couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Byline: Sreemoy Talukdar.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

How to know Youtubers income ? Youtubers की कमाई कैसे जाने ?

दोस्तों हम सभी लोग आज के दौर में घंटो Youtube पर Videos देखते हैं | ऐसे में आपने कई चैनल्स को सब्सक्राइब भी किया होगा और कई Youtubers तो आपके फेवरेट भी होंगे |  कई बार आपके दिमाग में यह सवाल भी आया होगा कि आखिर YouTube चैनल वालों की कमाई कैसे होती है और कितनी होती है। तो चलिए आज हम आपको YouTubers income जानने का तरीका बताते हैं।

अगर आप Socialblade के बारे में नहीं जानते हैं तो आपको बता दें कि यह एक Statistics Website है, जहां से आप सभी Social Media Platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) के Statistics ट्रैक कर सकते है।

इसके जरिए किसी सोशल मीडिया अकाउंट को ट्रैक करने के लिए सबसे पहले पर जाएं। अब अगर आप YouTube Channel को ट्रैक करना चाहते हैं तो यूट्यूब में उस चैनल के नाम पर क्लिक करें और फिर यूआरएल में से आईडी कॉपी करें।

चैनल की आईडी होती है। अब सोशल ब्लेड वेबसाइट के सर्च बार में चैनल की आईडी यानी UCo0CDs_3ASYH0HLpILLfnBw पेस्ट करें और फिर सर्च बटन दबाएं। आप चैनल के नाम से भी सर्च कर सकते हैं।

अब आपको उस चैनल के बारे में पूरी जानकारी मिल जाएगी। यहां से आपको यह भी पता चल जाएगा कि उस चैनल पर किस समय कितने सब्सक्राइबर थे और कितना व्यूज था। इसके अलावा इसकी मदद से आप उस चैनल के रोज की एक्टिविटी और Youtubers income जान सकते हैं। हालांकि आंकड़ों में थोड़ा अंतर जरूर हो सकता है।

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