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A Lockdown Remix Experience In Peoples’ Land Kolkata!

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If we can assume that people are already familiarized with the concept of lockdown as it has been more than a year since the national lockdown was imposed in India in March 2020, on the basis of this assumption we can go on to opine that the present version of the lockdown in Kolkata and the state of West Bengal has been a remix. Of course, the local media here has been terming this as only a ‘near-lockdown’, and we also know the kind of ‘mixed’ approaches adopted by various states of India to lockdown, but the experience here is unique and not related to most of the other states. We have decided to call it a remix, because under this process the old is often presented in a new getup to attract and excite the common people, and the state lockdown here has been a genuine remix with continuous tweaking to make it more and more user-friendly for the larger interests of the common people of West Bengal, particularly the state capital of Kolkata.   Yes, peoples’ interests. Nothing moves

The Unlocking Spree Begins Amid The Inevitable Risks Of Another Looming Wave!

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About 10 million people, as estimated, have lost their jobs/income following the state-wise lockdowns across India in view of the marauding second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is feared that 10 million more people are likely to lose their jobs/income till the economy gets back on rails. Therefore, nobody can deny the inevitability of the pandemic-oriented debate of Lives Vs Livelihoods, and the easing of the curbs has to follow at some stage. However, experts keep on saying that the unlocking process must be well thought-out and gradual. Even then, the associated risks with the forecast of a third wave in about six months cannot be eliminated, and Maharashtra, a state that has adopted a very mature 5-level unlocking as per the prevailing positivity rates and the occupancy percentage of oxygen beds across the respective districts, has still pointed out that the state government has taken calculated risks with those decisions.   The national capital region Delhi, with the positi

Is The Nightmarish COVID-19 Second Wave In India Ending Soon?

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In the first week of May 2021 the new daily COVID-19 infections breached the 4-Lakh (four hundred thousand) mark which added to the scare and the macabre dance of death witnessed all across India. The country’s health infra, stretched to impossible limits, was crumbling with the shortages of beds/ICU beds, ventilators and the supply of the life-saving medical oxygen. People were dying due much more to the lack of oxygen than COVID complications, particularly in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra that suffered the most in terms of all the numbers was in fact the only Indian state to have done adequate advance planning of stocking up oxygen and no patient died there due to lack of oxygen, whereas the neighboring state of Goa was going through hell. Some irresponsible experts didn’t help matters much at this crucial juncture by predicting that India would breach the 5-Lakh or the 6 or 7 or even the 10-Lakh daily cases numbers in the coming days, and that about a million people were fate

Why No Lockdown In West Bengal Or Still No National Lockdown?

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A stupendous election victory against the might of the national ruling party; Didi Mamata Bannerjee installed for the third term as Chief Minister of  West Bengal; and the immediate promise to take the fight against the COVID-19 virus in its deadly second wave head on. But, in the days that followed the state government had not shown any real intent to take on the promised fight, deciding only to augment a little the earlier state administration order that was announced a day prior to the counting of votes on 2 nd May 2021, to shut down restaurants, cinema halls, malls, gyms, sport complexes and so on, and to schedule the business hours of the general markets.   The order came the very day of the oath-taking ceremony, no doubt a very subdued affair due to the situation, of Mamata Bannerjee as the new Chief Minister; but, unfortunately, the new order yields precious little in terms of strict curbs or a most-preferred complete lockdown. The order follows largely the same format of the p

The Miracle Lady Mamata Wins One Of The Biggest Election Battles Of India!

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All the odds were stacked against her. She was facing the double anti-incumbency factor her party, Trinamul Congress (TMC), having ruled the state of West Bengal for two terms of ten years and herself as Chief Minister; there had been palpable anger against her party for charges of corruption and the lack of development. Then, the national ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) had its full focus on this state after having conquered the whole of North Eastern region, most of the Eastern and the Northern region; since 2014 when the BJP-led government was established in India with the ideals of aggressive Hindu nationalism and religious polarization, the BJP decided to win over the whole of India, and West Bengal became the epicentre of their expansion plans; the BJP mastered only three seats in the Assembly Elections of West Bengal in 2016, but that increased in a spectacular fashion in the Lok Sabha general elections in 2019 when the BJP captured 18 seats of 42 thus reducing TMC’s s

A Much Needed Comic Relief: The Distanced Senior Citizen!

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Nowadays I choose a slot when the nearby park is almost empty and so is the market on the other side, for my morning walks which I think is quite important, despite the deadly times we are living in. I satisfy myself with the precautions thus taken. That morning too, properly masked up, I combined the intended walk with the essentiality of buying a few fresh fruits for our wellbeing. After taking my predetermined rounds in the park which was empty as the rising summer sun, at this hour, made it relatively hot for the walkers, I went to the fruit shops in the market.   I found a senior citizen occupying the whole of the front-side of the shop with a lady waiting patiently behind him on his right keeping an appropriate distance. That shop was my favorite because it offered better-quality fruits at relatively cheaper prices. Therefore I joined, behind the senior citizen on his left, again keeping a good distance. In fact, I was very pleased that the social norms were maintained strict

COVID-19 Second Wave: India Continue To Reel Under A Spell Of Death And Disease!

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It has been the most horribly painful and depressing week of my life. There has been the spectre of death and unimaginable sufferings of fellow countrymen across India, from which you cannot turn away; reports are there in all news channels, something even the decidedly pro-government media cannot but report, reports and personal accounts across all social media platforms, the dread of the sudden telephone calls and so on. I am reminded of the horrors suffered by Italy and Spain last year, and shiver to imagine a full repetition in a vast and densely populated country like India; the saving grace so far being that the fatality rate here is fortunately still much lower than witnessed in Italy, Spain and other European countries; but even then, in terms of population the Indian numbers in infections and deaths are numbing, and the mutants are more lethal taking toll equally on the young and the old.         The heart wrenching scenes are everywhere to behold: people crowding the hosp

Light In The Gloom: India Opens Up Vaccination For All Above 18 From 1st May!

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The Government of India has announced opening up of the vaccination drive to all persons above the age of 18 with effect from 1 st May 2021; this momentous decision coming after a marathon meeting by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with doctors, medical scientists and experts on 19 th April 2021, significantly the day that saw the highest ever rise in new daily COVID-19 cases to the tune of over 2, 73,000. An important aspect of a liberalized format under this decision is that the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers can sell 50% of their doses to the Government of India and the rest 50% doses to the Indian states directly in the open market. This effectively means that all the states can now purchase vaccine doses directly and can prioritize how and to whom they would want the jabs administered. The concerned pharmaceutical firms have said that they would come with the pricing within the deadline of the 1 st of May.   In view of the acute shortage of vaccine doses in several states and

COVID-19 Second Wave: India’s Worst Ever Health Crisis That Nobody Prepared For!

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For the 5 th consecutive day India’s daily new COVID-19 cases have been more than the unbelievable 2, 00,000 or 2 Lakh mark, with over 2.73 Lakh cases in the last 24 hours. Compared to the first pandemic peak of around 97,000 reached in mid-September 2020, we are staring at the mind-boggling fact that the daily numbers have almost tripled and are scared to guess the second peak even if it comes sooner than later, hopefully. Fatalities have also crossed the daily 1000 mark again as more 1600 people perished in the last 24 hours. However, the eternal chest-thumping self-styled ‘saviors’ of our country say that as per the deaths of around 1000 when the daily cases were less than 1 Lakh the fatalities now could have been three times higher, around 3000 per day, the negation of which means that the fatality rates are still low or even lower. Yes, numbers don’t matter for them; it is only their rates that have always been important, and they were boasting of India’s low fatality rate last y

DCGI Approves Russia’s Sputnik-V Vaccine: Finally India Gets The Third COVID-19 Vaccine!

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  Amid an unprecedented rise in new COVID-19 cases across India and reports of a shortage of vaccines in inoculation centers in at least 10 states about which the Government of India has been in a constant denial mode, the Indian drug regulator, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), has accorded its final approval to Russia’s Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. It is to be noted that the drug regulator had earlier approved Covishield (the Indian version of the Oxford AstraZeneca) and the indigenously produced Covaxin (even before its completion of the third phase of human trials) in January 2021 and a national vaccination drive had been launched from the 16 th of January 2021. However, in the past three months the jabs administered have been falling far short of the Government’s goal of vaccinating 300 million people by July 2021 (just over 100 million jabs so far which needs to be much increased now as the vaccination drive opens up to all above the age of 45) amid dema

The IPL-2021 Charge Amid The Second COVID-19 Surge!

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It is always debatable to have a major cricket tournament in the midst of an unprecedented surge of the pandemic, even though it is to be played behind closed doors, the new normal cricket variety, and with the imposition of a strict bio-secure bubble. As it has been seen so far several cricketers and support staff have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and since the tournament is being held across six venues—Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata—it would entail constant air travel and change of hotels for the eight participating teams. Further, the venues are the capitals of the worst affected states, except perhaps for Kolkata in West Bengal where the rising trend of new cases has not yet caught up with the others. It is to be noted that the IPL-2020 had to be taken out of India to the UAE due to strict lockdowns across the nation, and this means that within six months another IPL is being held, now in India where the second surge has reached unprecedented levels, but

COVID-19 Second Wave In India Threatens To Overtake The First Pandemic Peak!

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The fear has always been there about the Pandemic not saying quits in a hurry, be it in India or in the US or in Europe or anywhere. Yet, people, even governments, everywhere have been loath to carry on with the COVID-19 protocols and appropriate behavior. India, after the United States, has been marked out in this care-a-hoot mentality. And both of these countries are suffering heavily, apart from others where new Corona variants have created more havoc than inappropriate behavior. New daily cases of COVID-19 have been rising exponentially in at least eleven states of India since mid-March 2021. Personally speaking, when I left Mumbai in that period for domestic reasons daily cases in Maharashtra, the worst affected state, were around 6000-8000 and in the financial capital daily cases were hovering around 1000 per day. And now, new cases have reached nearly 50000 in the last twenty-four hours in Maharashtra while in Mumbai daily new cases have crossed 9000 in the last twenty-four hour