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Showing posts from 2020

The COVID-19 Vaccine Countdown!

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  Experts say that while the novel Coronavirus that hit planet earth in December 2019 created an unprecedented crisis for humankind the response to it by researchers, medical scientists and pharmaceutical companies in trying to discover a vaccine is also unprecedented. Under normal circumstances the process of discovering, testing and producing a vaccine takes from 5 years to 10 years thanks to the high failure rate associated with it. Therefore, the probability of having an effective COVID-19 vaccine within a year of the pandemic invasion is incredible news that speaks volumes about the non-stop efforts, dedication, round-the-clock supervision, utilization of special funds and global coordination put into it. As per the World Health Organization, at present there are nearly 200 vaccine candidates out of which 44 are in various stages of human clinical trials, and a few are about to be approved by the regulators. This would indeed be another crowing glory of the human quest should a sa

A Peoples’ Leader Dies: Tarun Gogoi No More!

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  He has been much more than just a political leader; he has been an excellent human being with an ever-smiling face, friendly and spontaneous manners, a typical pure Assamese flavor in his warm communications, his deep roots in Assamese culture, his interest in fine arts and love for all forms of music, and an endearing lovable personality. Even in his ripe old age he used to mix with his admirers/supporters like one of them, talking to them in a warm personal tone, singing and dancing with them. Throughout his eventful political career, he maintained his clean image, at times against tremendous odds. People of Assam respected him as much as they loved him. We used to refer to him as Tarunda (like an elder brother) in our Assamese friends’ circles, and we were all fond and proud of him: as a leader who could articulate the state’s problems to the central leaders and in Parliament, and as a central Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Food under former Prime Minister PV Narsimha

India Vs Australia: Cricket New Normal, COVID Stress, Pink Ball And Expectations!

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  Photo: rediff.com India started their tour of Australia in 2018-19 too from November 2018 to January 2019, and created history by becoming first Asian cricket team to beat Australia in a Test Series in Australia. They also became only the second team of the world to beat Australia in Australia in both the formats of ODI and Test. The first test of that series too started in Adelaide in December and in that cracker of a match India won by 31 runs, one of their slenderest of victory margins. Australia won the second test in Perth by 146 runs, and India sealed the series 2-1 by winning the third test in Melbourne by 137 runs with the last match ending in a draw in Sydney. Then they went on to win the ODI Series 2-1 too. Under Australia’s split captaincy regime for different formats Aussie wicket keeper Tim Paine was the captain in the Test series and Aaron Finch captained the Aussies in the ODI and T201 formats, and they met Virat Kohli as the all-format Indian skipper. The rivalry rema

A Few Concerns As India Cross 9 Million COVID-19 Cases!

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India has crossed the 9 million COVID-19 cases mark today, taking 22 days for the last million increase as against 19 days for the previous millon cases. The recovery rate has almost reached 94% with active cases falling below 4,50,000. A few days back daily new cases fell below the 30,000 mark that was consistent only for two days, and new additions had again picked up. In the last twenty four hours total number of new cases was at 45, 882. Total deaths that started falling below 500 also picked up, and for the last twenty four hours 584 Coronavirus patients had died which is a bit worrying despite the fatality rate consistently at around 1.5%.  The increased numbers of daily new cases and daily deaths are largely due to record spikes in Delhi and high-volume numbers in Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Haryana. In states like Gujarat, Manipur and a few others the renewed spikes have raised a concern. In

Pandemic Response: Taking Precaution Is Not Out Of Fear Or Negativity!

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  Apart from the still fluctuating or increasing number of people testing COVID-19 positive across the Indian states, primarily Delhi and a few others, there has also been a growth of a sense of ‘false positivity’ in the response of the people to the pandemic. We had seen in an earlier piece about that surge of defiance in citizens to celebrate Diwali the usual normal way. This ‘surge of defiance’ is somewhat related to what we have said about that sense of false positivity. After more than eight months of paying subservience to the sticky virus people now seem to say and act accordingly, ‘No, enough is enough! No more slavery to the goddamned virus! We’ll do now whatever we feel like. We are least likely to be infected as we are positive about it, and if we do get infected, let it be!’   If fellow citizens around them insist on observing the norms like at least wearing masks they rule it out scornfully, ‘Don’t be scared, guys! Be positive, nothing will happen to you!’ If an elder

The Kitchen!

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  The kitchen, arguably the most appetizing word for humankind since times immemorial, is the place where we repose our absolute trust and hunger-related needs for the daily supply of our dishes, the more delicious the dishes the more the anticipation and satisfaction of the trust. Home is where the kitchen is, that is to say, we invariably mean here the kitchen every home has. Right from the steaming bed-tea cup in the morning to the last bites of the supper we lovingly follow the kitchen activities, every day. The aromas or the fragrances of cooking, irrespective of whether these come from our own kitchen and the kitchens of neighbors, never fail to energize us in the run-ups to the final acts of eating or devouring or gulping. When guests are around more delicacies get cooked and…well, those are the heavenly moments most of us must have experienced or still relish in life.   Taking the risk of being labelled as male chauvinists or misogynists we must say here that somehow the la

Bihar Maha Bitterness: Why Board And Then Blame The Sinking Ship!

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  After riding on a palpable anti-incumbency wave and the predictions of clear victory by all of the exit polls the ultimate narrow defeat of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in the Bihar Assembly Elections-2020 is bound to cause huge disappointment and bitterness. Unable to accept defeat the leaders of the RJD first started attacking the Election Commission on a variety of alleged anomalies in counting, and then picked out the main alliance partner, the Indian National Congress (INC), for letting them down. A prominent RJD leader attacked Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi for their alleged callousness towards the election. The leader further alleged that they did not come for the election campaigns attending a very few rallies, but were only interested in having picnics. He also questioned the internal management of the INC and its lack of introspection.   Having said that, we must examine the underlying factors. The RJD under the leade

Pandemic Response: Restive Public, Diwali Violations And Vaccine Solace!

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  As the loud bursts of firecrackers reach a crescendo the discerning law-abiding citizens, particularly the elderly ones sticking to the stay-at-home doctrine, wonder loudly too, ‘What the heck is happening, and how?’ Yes, valid question: the state, one of many Indian states, imposed a complete ban on firecrackers and fireworks from 9 th November to 30 th November 2020 asking citizens to observe Diwali, the biggest festival of India, by lighting earthen or electric lamps only, in view of the pandemic that can accelerate again due to increased pollution. In the nation’s capital Delhi, apart from the complete government-ban the National Green Tribunal also totally prohibited use or sale of firecrackers making these punishable offences. Yet, on the Diwali night of 14 th November 2020 all caution ended up in smoke as most of the city folks celebrated with fireworks in brazen defiance. How they managed to get the abundant supplies of crackers and accessories is a question that is better

Actor-Legend Soumitra Chatterjee Passes Away In Kolkata!

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  Legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee passed away in a Kolkata hospital today after fighting with COVID-19 for nearly one and half months. He was tested positive on the 6 th of October 2020 and was promptly admitted to a hospital considering his age and vulnerability. The actor was on and off ventilator support as he developed a range of other infections. Great hopes were generated when he tested negative on October 14; but his COVID-related complications dashed all expectations of his final recovery. He continued to be on life support, and despite the best efforts of the team of doctors we have lost one of the greatest actors of Indian Cinema. He was 85, but still had enough ammunition to surge ahead with his creative pursuits, encompassing a saga of over five decades in Bangla movies. But for the deadly pandemic virus!   Soumitra Chattopadhyay has been one of my all-time favorite actors of world cinema, and living in Assam, I began to realize his immense contribution to cinema o

Happy Green Diwali-2020!

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Diwali, the biggest festival of India, is a festival of lights, and is traditionally celebrated by lighting rows of earthen lamps or diyas , candles and strip electric lights, in and around homes and buildings. People can celebrate and enjoy in this way even during the worst crisis ever faced by humankind as there are no restrictions on burning oil or electric lamps. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to us to light up  diyas  just before Lockdown was enforced in March. Lighting up your houses essentially means driving away evil spirits and forces, and hoping for a bright year ahead. Celebrating Diwali this way does not in any way rob you of enjoyment.   Besides, if you’d like to have sweets and distribute those to your neighbors there are no issues either. Sweet shops are open across the country you can even walk down to and buy to your heart’s desire. Various state governments have also announced measures to ensure undiluted sweets for your good health. Then, if y

Bihar Elections-2020: Was Chirag Paswan BJP’s Conscious Strategy?

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  Defying all exit polls, the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) came back to power with a simple majority in the closely fought Bihar Assembly Elections-2020, giving the fourth consecutive CM-term and fifth overall to Nitish Kumar. All of the exit polls gave simple to two-third majority to the MGB (Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance) led by the young energetic face of Bihar, Tejaswi Yadav, son of the Bihar stalwart and former Chief Minister for three terms, Laloo Prasad Yadav, who had been in jail since a long time on corruption cases, and predicted Tejaswi to be the next CM. One or two exit polls indicated, in the worst scenario, a hung assembly.   Various reasons have been ascribed for the incredible comeback of the NDA against all odds. The primary reasons are: the continuing influence of the Modi-factor, the 12 crucial rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar where he warned people against falling for the ‘Jungle Reign’ of the RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) led by L

Another Student Commits Suicide: Digital Education Still A Mirage!

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  Online education had been hailed as an integral part of the new normal after the COVID-19 pandemic hit India and lockdowns were imposed from 25 th March 2020 onwards. Schools and colleges were closed since late February, and after more than 8 months the much-touted online education is still not affordable for students of the poorer sections. The dream of Digital India had been sold years before with tremendous emphasis on smartphones and connectivity, even in the rural belt. And yet, one more bright student in a college in India’s capital commits suicide due to lack of a mere laptop or a proper smartphone with good internet connection. Earlier, incidents of students’ suicides were reported regularly from various states including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam.   Her name is Aishwarya Reddy, a topper in 12 th standard exam from the state of Telangana. This bright ambitious student got admitted in the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College of Delhi last year, as a B.Sc. Mathemati