When he was 18, like many young men in the state, Diganta Das left his home in Assam to look for work in Bangalore. Despite more than a decade of work in South India, the pandemic brought him back home with no money in his wallet. But what he did have was the knowledge of how to make a good Malabar parotta.Now, with a six-month-old parotta manufacturing unit, 32-year-old Das is selling packaged parottas – a once unfamiliar food item – every day to residents of Upper Assam.“I’m the first businessman in my family,” said Das, a resident of Biswanath Chariali. His father was a farmer and, after completing school, he travelled to Bangalore in 2009 to supplement his family’s income.Over the years, he did many jobs in many cities: room service at hotels; security work in Mumbai; painting machines at a construction company; coconut husking; and, most crucially, various stints at parotta-making and packaging units.In early 2020, his friend Suriya Thapa from Tinsukia in Assam, who he had met in Bangalore and had also worked in parotta manufacturing units, decided to take the skills he had picked up to start his own such unit.Das joined him in marketing. They identified Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh as a market with less competition and Thapa set up shop. But it was just a month before the pandemic and the national lockdown struck.Along with the crash in business, Das had another worry: his wife back home was due to give birth soon. The baby was born while he was in Andhra Pradesh.“The day the lockdown lifted, I rushed home. When I finally met my baby, she was a month old and I barely had Rs 10 in my wallet. That is when my mind began working on how I should set up something here,” he said.Two years ago, he met Faizul Hoque, who too had set up a parotta-making unit in his home in Udalguri in Assam, and began selling his product in the market around his hometown.It was six months ago that he decided to take the plunge and start a unit of his own in Biswanath Chariali.His old friend Suriya Thapa, whose business in Vijayawada continues, lent him a hand. “I helped him out with his investments. It’s not a formal business partnership, more like helping a friend out,” he said.“When I first entered this market, the parotta was not really a product that was known. But there are some shops in my town that accepted me and liked my product and began carrying it in their stores,” said Das.With a staff of 18, Das says he earns enough to meet his business expenses. The next step, he hopes, is profits.
A bank account with over Rs 1 lakh that was ‘mistakenly’ linked to his Aadhaar number two years ago has cost Jeetrai Samant his freedom.The 42-year-old beedi worker, from Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, has been arrested by the state police for allegedly withdrawing the money that belonged to a woman, whose bank account was linked to his Aadhaar number erroneously.Samant came to know of the money two years ago, as Covid cast its shadow across the nation, through a Common Service Centre. The centres serve as access points for delivery of essential public services, welfare schemes, etc in rural and remote areas of the country. According to sources familiar with the probe, the CSC also had a bank representative to help withdraw money that a beneficiary might have in his or her account.But the law caught up with Samant last September, when the manager of Jharkhand Rajya Gramin Bank received a complaint from an account holder named Shrimati Laguri regarding money disappearing from her account. The manager wrote to the authorities and, on discovering the error that had taken place, asked Samant to return the money. Since he was unable to do so, an FIR was lodged against him in October under IPC section 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) in the district’s Muffasil police station.Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Shekhar told The Indian Express: “Samant was arrested on March 24. There was a mistake and his Aadhaar got linked to someone else’s account, but he did not return the amount. He allegedly paid a bribe at the CSC point so no one else would get to know. (When police issued a notice about the issue) he wrote a letter to us saying he believed Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent him money.”Bank manager Manish Kumar told The Indian Express: “Earlier, Bank of India used to sponsor the Gramin Bank, and now SBI does it. So the entire data was merged with SBI in April 2019, and it was during this process that Samant’s Aadhaar number got accidentally linked with someone else’s bank account. The woman did not complain earlier, else we could have stopped it.” He said it was “difficult” to pin blame on a single bank official.A UIDAI official, requesting anonymity, said: “This is clearly the bank’s mistake. The UIDAI has no role in it.”From October to March, Samant received three notices to appear before the police under CrPC section 41 A, under which police can arrest a person without a warrant in case he fails to appear before the court or the police since he is an accused.The Indian Express had spoken to Samant in December, before his arrest. At the time, he claimed: “During the first lockdown, everyone in the village was checking the amount in their Aadhaar-linked account numbers as it was announced that people would receive something. I put my thumb on the reading machine and it showed a balance as Rs 1,12,000. I rushed to the Gramin Bank, but could not find any money having been credited there. When I asked them about it, they told me the government would have sent the amount.”Police have claimed he withdrew Rs 2 lakh.Samant, a father of six children, said he kept withdrawing the money during the lockdown since he was in financial distress and believed it had come from the government.In response to one of the police notices, Samant had written to Superintendent of Police, Chaibasa, Ashutosh Shekhar in December. He claimed: “During the lockdown, there was a talk in the village that the Modi government is giving money in the account. My Aadhaar-based account showed Rs 1 lakh. The bank manager said I could withdraw the money. Now a case has been registered against me. I am not at fault. Without my knowledge, my Aadhaar was linked to someone else’s bank account. For the last two years, the bank did not even inform me.”Sub-inspector Ratu Oraon of Pandrasali observation point told The Indian Express: “After receiving the first notice, Samant did come to the police station, but he did not commit to returning the amount. Obviously there was a mistake when his Aadhaar got linked with Shrimati Laguri’s account number, but it was his moral responsibility not to withdraw the amount.”Asked why the arrest was not made earlier, Oraon said: “This was not an urgent case.”He added that Samant’s account originally had only Rs 650, but he kept withdrawing amounts ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000. “Even during withdrawals, the name of the account holder must have appeared, but he chose to ignore that.”
On October 10 last year, a 28-year-old software engineer received a WhatsApp message from “Lilly”. The “accidental” text was followed by conversations spanning nearly three weeks, during which she expressed her desire to visit India and learn more about the techie’s family. Since he had mentioned a financial problem, Lilly offered a solution — buy cryptocurrency and invest it on a portal she traded on. He invested Rs 3.5 lakh. Over the next two months, he took loans from three banks and made his girlfriend avail a loan of Rs 25 lakh. It was only when he lost a whopping Rs 59 lakh that the Bengaluru resident realised he had been conned.The couple are among the many victims of cryptocurrency trading scams in Bengaluru. According to estimates, of the Rs 274 crore lost to cybercrimes in the city in 2022, Rs 70 crore (almost 25 per cent) alone was lost to frauds related to cryptocurrency trading, an increase of 624 per cent from the previous year.According to data released by KuCoin, a global cryptocurrency exchange, in August last year, India had an estimated 115 million cryptocurrency investors.Bengaluru police said cases related to cryptocurrency are hard to crack because of the modus operandi.An officer attached to the cybercrime police station said, “These scams are usually carried out via advertisements on social media, including Instagram and Facebook. Because scammers offer very attractive returns in a matter of minutes, people fall into their trap quite easily.”Explaining the scam, the officer continued, “These are pig butchering or romance scams where the scammers initiate a conversation with potential victims through social media or other platforms. Once they establish a degree of trust, they encourage their victims to invest in cryptocurrency trading. Claiming to have insider tips, they guarantee good returns. The scammers ask the victims to download a seemingly authentic application or go to a website — both controlled by them — to make the investment in cryptocurrency. Once a good amount has been invested by the victims, the transactions disappear on the blockchain [a system in which records of cryptocurrency payments are maintained across several linked computers] since the platforms are fake.”The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States has called the scam “a fraud that is heavily scripted and contact intensive”.“Like phishing messages we receive on our mobile phones, cryptocurrency scam messages too are directed towards investors and sent out in bulk. Some even fall prey to these scams. Social media is a great tool to target vulnerable citizens to invest their money,” said a cybercrime police officer.Another victim of fraudulent cryptocurrency trading was a 23-year-old Bengaluru resident, who saw the profile of a “certified cryptocurrency trader” on Instagram. When the youth contacted the scammer, he was shown investment plans that guaranteed to double his investment in just 20-30 minutes. The victim invested Rs 5,000 immediately. A few minutes later, he received a WhatsApp message informing him that he had made Rs 10,400 on his investment. But there was a catch — he would need to pay taxes and other charges to withdraw his “profit”. In just two days, he lost Rs 78,543 to fraudsters.Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Superintendent of Police Suman D Pennekar blamed the success of these frauds on lack of awareness on cryptocurrency trading.Another officer said, “During lockdown, many people wanted to invest in cryptocurrencies and stocks. Many chose cryptocurrency over stocks since the returns were higher. The problem started when people started investing in third-party applications rather than exchanges and lost their money.”In March 2021, Elon Musk, the current CEO of Twitter, created ripples when he announced that a Tesla could be paid for in Bitcoins. A Bitcoin that cost about Rs 17.72 lakh in December 2020 shot up to Rs 44.54 lakh by March. Such was Musk’s influence, that many across the globe started investing in the virtual currency.Vineet Kumar, founder and president of Cyber Peace Foundation, a cyber security firm, said, “There is less awareness but high demand for cryptocurrency trade in India. When the Indian stock market crashed during the lockdown, people did not know where to invest. Cryptocurrencies were thriving at that point. There were advertisements everywhere promoting cryptocurrencies on social media. The returns were attractive and the time for the returns was very less.”On the challenges faced in investigating such cases, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) S D Sharanappa said, “Anonymity is a huge challenge (for investigators) when it comes to cybercrime. The fake SIM cards, bank accounts and the use of VPN (virtual private network) make it more complex. The public needs to do some research before trading on cryptocurrency platforms.”Last April, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested four cybercriminals. Sharing the case details, Sharanappa said, “The accused had created about 900 WhatsApp groups. Their own people pretended to be customers who had received good returns. In a matter of three months, the firm collected Rs 20 crore in the name of investment in ‘Helium’, a new cryptocurrency. One fine day, they removed their application from Google Play Store and shut down all the WhatsApp groups to siphon the money.”According to recent Reserve Bank of India data, based on the date of occurrence of frauds, the total number of frauds in the banking system during April-September 2022-23 were 1,915, involving an amount of Rs 305 crore. The number of frauds in various banking operations based on the date of reporting stood at 5,406, involving Rs 19,485 crore during the first six months of the current fiscal.
Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha says it’s best for him to focus on the story of his upcoming film Bheed, rather than the controversy surrounding it. Ever since the first teaser of the film dropped, the pandemic-set drama has been generating polarising discussion.Bheed chronicles the plight of migrants during the Covid-induced lockdown of 2020, when lakhs of migrant workers travelled to their home towns from cities. The teaser drew parallels with the horrors of Partition, juxtaposing grim visuals of 1947 and the heartbreaking images of 2020 lockdown with a powerful voiceover which says, “Ek baar phir hua tha batwara, 2020 mein (The Partition happened once again, in 2020).”The visual unit lead to an uproar, with a section on Twitter dubbing the film “anti-India”. Soon, producer and presenter Bhushan Kumar reportedly distanced himself from Bheed, with his company’s name T-Series disappearing from posters and social media tags. Even the film’s trailer, which began with a voiceover of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the lockdown and juxtaposed it with visuals of migrant workers being beaten up by the police, was replaced with a new trailer, completely omitting the earlier audio video.When asked, why was PM Modi’s voice over removed the new trailer, Sinha told indianexpress.com, “There are more changes in the trailer, but this makes more news for you.” When explained that it’s the biggest change, Sinha agreed but added, “Every film goes through various such challenges. In Thappad I wanted to use Amrita Pritam’s poem. I couldn’t use it so one day before the film release, I had to change it.“It didn’t matter to anybody, why? Did you ask me? I had to overnight write a poem, sync with a Punjabi lip sync. I was in Delhi, Kumud Mishra was dubbing it from Mumbai. I had to write a poem to match Amrita Pritam’s lip sync in Punjabi! That’s an interesting story, not this (removal of PM Modi’s voice over). Let’s talk about Bheed the story. I don’t want to distract people from the story of Bheed, as it’s way more interesting.”The teaser of Bheed had also made a section of people on the internet feel that it attempted to sensationalise the crisis with its deliberate reminder of the traumatic partition. Sinha, however, said he doesn’t take seriously what people on Twitter feel. “Who are those people? On Twitter? Internet is not a farce but a lot of it is. People have opinions. Like how in small towns people gather around pan shops, the same way Twitter has a lot of these discussions. On Twitter, even Elon Musk talks stupidity and he’s such an intelligent man.”The director said he is by now used to people labelling him “anti-national”, after having helmed acclaimed socio-political dramas like Mulk and Article 15. So when he was alleged to have made Bheed with vested interest to show the country in poor light, Sinha said it didn’t bother him at all.“Yes I have heard I am anti-national before. I do hear it for most of my films. But it didn’t surprise me. I love India, I love the original idea of India. Anybody who loves India more than I do, I respect that person. I’m trying to do my best as a lover and I’m sure even they’ve done their best as lovers of the country.“The teaser got that reaction because it’s the angle. When you see a black spot on the road it may look like sh*t or a coal tar. It’s how you see it and the angle is always of convince. These things happen when the other angle is inconvenient. Then you want to shift to the convenient angle, see it and reject the inconvenience. So I am fine with it really,” he added.Bheed stars Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Dia Mirza, Pankaj Kapur, Ashutosh Rana, Kritika Kamra and Kumud Mishra. The film is scheduled to release on March 24.
You need to have stayed away from home and parents, gone through difficulties of getting food after missing hostel mess deadlines and felt deliriously grateful when some kindly lady offered to pack a tiffin for you sensing your struggle, to understand where Treesa Jolly’s appetite for a fighting win comes from.We asked her about the metaphorical hunger to win, what fuels that tremendous energy when she stomps about the court and guides the shuttle with terrific angles across the net. Her reply blends her struggles on the court and many more off it.“I moved from my village to Kannur city’s Mundayad to train at the University indoor courts at age 12. Alone. For badminton. Obviously, I missed my family, and fixing dinner every day after practice sessions was a struggle. But I had that fighting spirit inside me. I had to do this. I knew this was my long journey. If I lose, I have to come back and beat them,” she recalls of the three years after leaving her home in Pulingome village and before moving to Hyderabad at the age of around 15.She had to move because her village had no indoor court to train on. Dr Anil Ramanathan, director of the Kannur University, would offer to let her train without coaching charges, but that meant moving out and staying away from home. It’s the three years in Kannur that Treesa says shaped her personality, and it’s a struggle memories of which she dips into – to tell herself that being on a badminton court facing a Top-10 opponent is nothing in comparison.“I rented a flat with 3-4 other players at Kannur because I couldn’t afford otherwise. I had to wash my own clothes in the beginning. Getting food used to be difficult. The university mess would give first access to their own physical education students. If we missed that short window, getting food anywhere else would become a problem in the evening. Staying out, not getting food, is one of the toughest experiences that have made me strong,” she says.A young Treesa – in her early teens – also taught herself to ignore undercurrents of envy that can make hostel life hellish. “The other girls were seniors. I was playing better than most of them there, and they would get jealous. At that age, it was difficult because if I needed some help, I had to approach my seniors only. I told myself I don’t care, I’m so strong,” she recalls of the tricky days.“It was a rollercoaster, but we’re extremely happy with our performance today.”Another big win for the Indian WD pair 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/0e7O0TMlL9— 🏆 Yonex All England Badminton Championships 🏆 (@YonexAllEngland) March 16, 2023Sacrifices by familyBesides, Kannur city had a wondrous wooden court, on which she had always dreamt of playing, as a child.Treesa remembers her father making her and her sister an outdoor court to play on. He was a physical education teacher, who himself played badminton, volleyball and ran marathons. Both her parents taught in an unaided school, from where getting leave to travel with her for tournaments would become difficult, and her father would resign. “Because in the rainy season, it would become a mess, my dad made the first tarpaulin court so we wouldn’t miss a single session,” she says.In her first state tournament, Treesa would win a singles silver. “That was the first time I saw a wooden court. I couldn’t even think of playing on a court like that, it was so shiny,” she recalls her wonder. “And then all these people came with hi-fi kits. But I won the doubles gold with my sister, Maria Jolly.”Tournaments were the only time Treesa would play with feather shuttles. “I couldn’t afford them so it was plastic shuttles. I told myself anyway I need to win, plastic or feather shuttle, doesn’t matter. It couldn’t be an excuse.”The parents also had to choose between the two daughters to allow Treesa to go ahead with sport, because they could only afford one person’s equipment and coaching expenses, so Maria was asked to step back, though she continued playing badminton as a hobby. “My father watched badminton and taught us variations and how to mix strokes. I had the natural talent for doubles and got results there, so I decided if I focus on that I can be the world’s best player,” she says with clarity.While doubles as a serious pursuit has taken off in India only in recent years after Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty started logging in regular international victories, it was the Kerala environment which has always nurtured the discipline. “Kerala has had so many players – Aparna Balan, V Diju, Sanave (Thomas), Rupesh (Kumar). But more importantly, there are so many local tournaments where just doubles is played. No one will conduct singles meets. I remember before going for state tournaments, we would travel half an hour to play tournaments with these uncles in the age-bracket of 22-40. Me and my sister grew up competing against them, that’s how my game got its style,” she says. “We just love doubles in Kerala.”She loved it enough to move out of home to Kannur City, and then later make the shift to Hyderabad.Rising through the ranksPicked for the national camp, Treesa’s earlier partners had been her sister Maria, then Mehereen Reeza, and later during the Dutch-German Open swing of tournaments, V S Varshini. Coaches at the national camp would pair her up with Gayatri Gopichand, as their games immediately complemented each other, and the pandemic lockdown would give her further clarity. “During the lockdown, we had Zoom sessions morning and evening. After 6-7 months, the academy opened and I realised I love playing doubles and I was enjoying the practice sessions,” she recalls.Runners-up at the Syed Modi International, the unexpected march into the All England semis in 2022, beating two Top-20 pairings on the way, the Uber Cup last season, and then the Commonwealth Games, were followed by stunning wins against Malaysian, Hong Kong and Chinese pairs at the Mixed Team Asian meet this year.It helped that former doubles player Arun Vishnu had risen in the ranks to become a national level coach. “Especially with the language. I call him Chetaa, and I could directly tell him anything that was on my mind. During matches he keeps saying ‘adiki adi’ – I’m damn sure you will win’.”Being a livewire on court also means she holds her resting hours precious. “No hobbies, after sessions I love to sleep,” she says. Playing the Nationals in Pune, the pairing would play two matches a day. “Rest is more important during tournaments,” she adds.Treesa loves her movies and TV series and K-Pop though. “Alice in Borderland, it’s like Squid Games. That’s my latest favourite. But I like K-dramas – Crash Landing on You, It’s Ok to not be OK. Blackpink are my favourite K-Pop band, and I end up watching 2-3 movies after every tournament. Kaapa in Malayalam was the latest.”We return to the original question during the interaction: what fuels her energy? “It’s not so much about Kerala food, I like many types of food. But my mother’s tapioca biryani and beef. And kappa biryani. But staying out when you are not getting food, and you struggle like I did in Kannur, you become grateful for any food you get when hungry.” You also get strong-willed and resilient like the 19-year-old youngster Treesa Jolly.
Vadodara: Parents in large numbers on Monday requested the state government to relax the age limit policy of fixing six years as the age for children to get enrolled in class one. In a memorandum addressed to the district collector, the parents said that the state education department through a notification issued on January 31, 2020 had brought in a change in Gujarat Right to Education Rules 2012 whereby only those students aged six as of June 1, 2023 are allowed admission in class 1 from academic year 2023-24. “The notification was issued in gazette in March 2020 but due to Covid-19 induced pandemic, a nation-wide lockdown came into force. The gazette notification was not circulated to the offices of DEOs and/ or other offices of the state education department,” said advocate Hitesh Gupta.Parents also stressed that other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka, have already made necessary amendments so that there is no loss of academic year to the kids.
As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesRahul Kumar, 18Worker at the new Parliament building, Central Secretariat, New DelhiOf late, at work, I have been hearing about a new variant of COVID spreading in China. The last time the pandemic struck, I was in my hometown in Bihar, and most days, we lived on plain rice from the government’s ration scheme, not even dal was provided. I remember my father, a carpenter, losing his job, after which we had to borrow Rs 1 lakh from a local moneylender for my sister’s wedding. The debt has now piled up to Rs 4-5 lakh. Two months ago, I thought that boarding a train to Delhi from my village in Samastipur would solve my woes. Now, I slog away as a helper at the Central Secretariat Parliament construction site to earn Rs 475 a day, and nowhere am I close to paying back the loan. If I borrow Rs 10,000 today, I am asked to repay Rs 50,000 within two years. If I have to shell out Rs 8 lakh in another two years, how will I settle this debt?The last couple of years have been challenging. We might have ridden COVID out, but we haven’t outlived its aftermath. Now, there are talks about the virus again, and I can’t imagine going back to my village without enough money. I dropped out after Class IX, owing to the pandemic, and now at 18, have to stay in Delhi and work alone, away from home. Though my accommodation in Ganesh Nagar — where 12 workers are lodged in four tiny rooms — and commute, are taken care of by the contractor, a lot of money goes into food, and I have very little savings. Which is why another lockdown would land me in dire straits.“Dreams are many, but it is as stupid as it is brave to dream with a life like mine. I want to open a shop in my village where my grandparents own 4 kathas (2,880 square feet) of land, so I can stay at home, but it is just that — a dream. I no longer think about resuming my studies. It has been a long time and I don’t have the liberty to spend money or time on it. If I have enough money after repaying all debts, I want to build a better house since we could not avail of the housing scheme for the poor. But for now, all I care about is an impending lockdown. Every time I see an official, I ask them, “Will there be another lockdown?”What I want to leave behind from the past two years?The fear of lockdownWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?Earn enough to repay the loan within a year— As told to Aiswarya Raj
As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesShobha Dilip Kushwha, 39Worker at IAttire, Pune, MaharashtraWhen I used to make clothes on my sewing machine at home in Nagpur and, then, Pune, I never thought that, one day, I would be tailoring PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits. I work for a company called IAttire in Pune, manufacturers of corporate uniforms. I was in the Shirts division. My earnings helped at home, especially with the education of our two children.The lockdown brought a halt to regular production, but IAttire got the government’s approval to make PPE kits, one of the few companies in India to be certified. We started working on PPEs, where we had to be careful about every stitch so that no virus could get inside the body. Special machines had been imported and kept in “clean rooms”. Unlike shirts, PPE was a one-piece garment that covered the entire body, including the head. I learnt the new design in half a day.In our minds, there was a constant fear of the disease but our sewing machines never slowed down. Doctors hamare liye itna kar rahe the toh apun unke liye kuchh kyun nahin kar sakte (The doctors were doing so much for us, can’t we do something for them?). I would make 50 PPEs in a day, a few others could do 100. We also won a contract to make PPEs for Indigo airlines and realised that our work was helping in bringing back normalcy. We worked on PPEs until October-November 2021, when the government and the aviation ministry announced that the PPEs wouldn’t be required any more.During the pandemic, I came to know of women who had lost their jobs. I brought about 60 of them to the factory and they were taken in to make PPEs. They still work at the factory. The lockdown was a time of great difficulty in many homes. A lot of companies had shut down, and people wondered how to put food on the plate. My husband, a driver, had also lost his job but my company hired him. He would transport the special fabric for PPEs from Mumbai to our factory in Pune. We were aware of the risks, but it helped to know that our work was keeping a lot of people safe.What I want to leave behind from the past two years?I hope those dreaded days of fear are now behind us. Let us never see another such time. The horror of companies shutting and people left jobless should be a thing of the pastWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?I am looking for dreams coming true — my daughter entering an air-hostess academy; everybody having rozi roti and children going to school rather than studying online— As told to Dipanita Nath
As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesMumtaz Saifi, 21Entertainment Service Provider, PVR: Vegas LUXE, Dwarka, New DelhiTowards the end of 2019, I began working at PVR. I sell tickets to customers at the box office, make popcorn and serve them drinks, and, overall, ensure they have a good time at the theatre. When I joined, I was also a year into my undergraduate studies at Delhi University’s School of Open Learning, and was managing both responsibilities. I stayed with my family in Palam, worked nine hours a day and got one day off. I worked only for a few months, from December 2019 to March 2020, and then the pandemic started.We never expected it. We were afraid of the disease and that we would lose our jobs. But I was lucky. PVR supported me financially and emotionally in those lockdown periods. My father, who is an assistant manager at a company, met with an accident and, temporarily, I became the sole earning member for my parents and two siblings. But since theatres were shut, we could not go to work, nor could we go out with friends and family. It got really boring. I started missing the time when I could go out, and realised the value of my loved ones as many began losing people close to them.I started taking care of my personal growth. I spent time with my family, I cooked a bit, I started exercising and doing yoga, and then, since I wanted to do something productive, I decided to learn another language: German. That was something I have always wanted to do! We were home for an entire year, and restarted work around March 2021. Many of my friends lost their jobs, while some got financial support from their companies. Somehow, we all managed, and have come out stronger.What I want to leave behind from the past two years?People were losing so many of their loved ones, I never want that to happen again. Also, the lockdown was really difficult, it’s hard to stay at home all day. I really like going out with friends and familyWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?I’m currently pursuing my Master’s in English Literature from Indira Gandhi National Open University, and enjoy my studies. I’m learning about the history of the English language and how it came to India. Secondly, of course, I want everyone to be healthy and safe if a new COVID wave comes, so we aren’t affected like before— As told to Udbhav Seth
AHMEDABAD: Cases of rape, including those in which the survivors were minors; dowry deaths; and abetment to suicide cases in Gujarat were not only higher in 2021 compared to 2020, but also crossed the pre-Covid figures of 2019. In all, 7,348 cases of crimes against women were registered in 2021, showing a decline of 16.5% over the 2019 figures (8,799) and a dip of 8.5% over the 2020 numbers (8,028). The data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that the major decline was in the number of cases of cruelty meted out to women by their husbands or in-laws. In this category, the number of cases declined from 3,619 in 2019 to 2,271 in 2021. In 2020, these cases were 3,345. The data shows that the cases of rape increased in 2021 to 589 from 528 in 2019. In 2020, the figure was 486. The data reveals that rape cases increased by 11.5% in 2021 as compared to 2020. In 2019 and 2020, no case of rape of a minor girl was recorded but in 2021 seven such cases were registered. Police officers said that in 2020, the lockdown confined people to their homes in relative safety. But with the lockdown easing in 2021, there was an increase in crimes. Cases of kidnapping and abduction, particularly those relating to forcing girls into marriage, have increased in 2021 compared to the figures of 2019 and 2020. Gujarat has not seen a dramatic spike in cases of dowry deaths as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have done. But there has been an increase in such cases in Gujarat - to 11 in 2021 from six in 2020 and nine in 2019. However, the data of CID crime indicates that the state in 2021 had reported 66 such cases, which was five more than in 2020. As for the NCRB, its data suggests that abetment to suicide cases in 2021 increased by 30% (384) as compared to the 2020 figures (295). The increase in 2021 was 70.5% as compared to the 2019 figures (225). The NCRB data also reveals that seven cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported in Gujarat between 2019 and 2021. In 2021, the data says there was only one case of kidnapping for ransom.
OVER Rs 1.74 CRORE for food and catering, including Rs 35 lakh for bananas; Rs 49.5 lakh in daily allowances; Rs 11 crore spent during the Covid lockdown; non-payment of players’ dues; dodgy selection policies. And then, extortion and death threats.The Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) is in the middle of a storm of allegations, ranging from financial impropriety to intimidation of players.So much so that CAU secretary Mahim Verma, the team’s head coach Manish Jha and the association spokesperson Sanjay Gusain were questioned by the Uttarakhand Police after they were named in an FIR by the father of a former India Under-19 cricketer for alleged extortion and death threats.“For the past three days, we have called Mahim Verma, Manish Jha and Sanjay Gusain separately. We have interrogated them. We have taken their statements,” Janmejaya Khanduri, SSP Dehradun, told The Indian Express. “If needed, it will be done again.”The FIR, registered at Vasant Vihar police station in Dehradun, has been filed under IPC sections for criminal conspiracy (120B), voluntarily causing hurt (323), extortion (384), intentional insult (504) and criminal intimidation (506).The complainant Virendra Sethi, who is the father of former Under-19 player Arya Sethi, has alleged that his son was given death threats by Jha, team manager Navneet Mishra and video analyst Piyush Raghuvanshi during the Vijay Hazare tournament last year.According to records reviewed by The Indian Express and interviews with players, this is just the latest chapter in Uttarakhand cricket’s troubled innings.The players point to non-payment or under-payment of dues (Rs 100 paid as DA when the mandated amount is Rs 1,500) and not being provided food during tournaments and training camps — the association’s books list expenses totalling several lakhs of rupees on items such as bananas and water bottles, even during the pandemic.The CAU’s audit report of March 31, 2020, has listed Rs 1,74,07,346 for food and catering and Rs 49,58,750 for daily allowances. This includes Rs 35 lakh for bananas and Rs 22 lakh for water bottles.Robin Bisht, an outstation professional for the Uttarakhand team, corroborated Sethi’s allegations, and recalled an incident before the recent Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Mumbai.“We returned to the team hotel and, after our recovery session in the pool, went for lunch. The hotel staff said they were told not to serve us food. When we called the team manager, he replied: ‘Order something from Swiggy or Zomato or stay hungry. Ek din khana nahi khaoge toh mar nahi jaoge (If you don’t eat for a day, you won’t die)’,” said Bisht.Uttarakhand lost the match to Mumbai by 725 runs — a world record victory margin in cricket.“Next day, we had a flight to Delhi. After exiting the airport, we again called up our team manager to say that we needed to go to Dehradun. ‘Where is our bus?’ The reply came, ‘book a cab, bus or train. Our job was to get you guys to Delhi, not your homes’,” said Bisht.Allegations of corruption have also been levelled against CAU by Independent MLA Umesh Kumar in the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly.“During Covid, CAU distributed Rs 6.5 crore as professional fees. I want to know to whom they paid this money? Before March 2020, the professional fees were around Rs 2.75 crore. During Covid, who had lunch and dinner of Rs 1.27 crore? How did they hire cricketing coaches? I raised this in Uttarakhand Sadan too. I think the BCCI should intervene; there is very big corruption going on here,” Kumar told The Indian Express.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“During lockdown when everything was shut, they invested Rs 11 crore, and under full operation, you are investing Rs 12 crore,” Kumar said.The players, meanwhile, complained of being paid much lower than what the BCCI regulations stipulate. “Our official DA is Rs 1,500, we were getting Rs 100 per day. We got Rs 2,700 for 27 days; an unskilled labourer earned more than us,” said Bisht.MLA Kumar said he has brought the matter to the state government’s notice. “Me and 12 other MLAs have written to the Chief Minister, and if need be, we will go to the Supreme Court. The Lodha Committee was appointed by the Supreme Court, and ‘Mr Verma and Company’ are not following the court’s regulations,” Kumar said.In his police complaint, Sethi alleged that Verma demanded Rs 10 lakh for including his son in the state team.These allegations come after former India opener Wasim Jaffer had to leave his post as head coach after allegations of “communalising” the dressing room — charges that Jaffer strongly denied.CAU secretary Mahim Verma and president Jot Singh Gansola also face a complaint from their own association’s vice-president Sanjay Rawat and joint secretary Avnish Verma before the state cricket body’s Ombudsman and Ethics Officer, alleging financial irregularities. “We have sent a letter to the BCCI as well. The Ethics officer has told Mahim Verma and Jot Singh Gansola to submit their response by Thursday,” said Rawat.Speaking to The Indian Express, a top BCCI official said: “Right now, it is a matter related to a state association. In case it is raised at the BCCI’s apex council meeting on July 21, we will look into it.”Mahim Verma and head coach Manish Jha did not respond to calls from The Indian Express seeking comment on the allegations against them.
Former MP and chairman of unorganised workers and employees Congress Dr Udit Raj addressed party workers in Ahmedabad Sunday where he emphasised on communicating with workers groups ahead of the Gujarat Assembly polls. Ahmedabad News1Chugging in, clearing hurdles: Prime Minister to inaugurate Phase I of Ahmedabad Metro in August this year2Three dead, four injured as ‘speeding’ truck hits van near Ahmedabad3Take steps to ensure treated wastewater is not discharge into Thol lake: NGTMore from AhmedabadHe was speaking at the Kamdar Karmachari Congress (KKC) meet held at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in Paldi where over 400 representatives of Gujarat KKC, including its state president Ashok Punjabi, were present. “It is not enough for us to ensure that the workers are fed whenever we meet them… several workers died due to corona… Those who helped them during the lockdown were different… If we communicate with at least 15 workers, then one among them will become politically aware and would want to choose an alternative next time,” said Raj. Express InvestigationThe Uber Files | The Indian Express is part of a global consortium analysing thousands of emails and documnets from UberRead hereHe was speaking at the Kamdar Karmachari Congress (KKC) meet held at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in Paldi where over 400 representatives of Gujarat KKC, including its state president Ashok Punjabi, were present. “It is not enough for us to ensure that the workers are fed whenever we meet them… several workers died due to corona… Those who helped them during the lockdown were different… If we communicate with at least 15 workers, then one among them will become politically aware and would want to choose an alternative next time,” said Raj. Express InvestigationThe Uber Files | The Indian Express is part of a global consortium analysing thousands of emails and documnets from UberRead here
Despite an interim injunction order granted by an Ahmedabad court that restrained Ahmedabad-based eatery ‘Sazzy Sizzler’ from “misusing, acquiring, providing and/or offering for sale” the sizzlers by using similar trade dress, data and trade secrets as that of another Ahmedabad-based eatery Yanki Sizzlers, it was brought to the Gujarat High Court’s attention Thursday by that ‘Sazzy Sizzler’ continues to violate the order.In January, a commercial Ahmedabad rural court had granted the temporary injunction order against Sazzy Sizzlers in a trademark suit filed by Yanki Sizzlers. It further directed that the injunction “will remain in operation till the final disposal of the suit.”On Thursday, Yanki told a division bench of Gujarat HC that an advertisement placed by Sazzys contained “similar pictures of sizzlers” as used in Yanki advertisements. Yanki Sizzlers further submitted that when it comes to sizzlers, they have been the “pioneers in Gujarat market from 2012 to 2020 with this product,” and that “there is none except us in this food distribution”.The bench, however, remarked on this submission, “Won’t sizzlers look the same because sizzlers for years have looked the same.” Yanki responded that Sazzy Sizzlers continue to use similar trade dress, restaurant set-up, etc as well as that of Yanki’s.Yanki Sizzlers, established in 2012, had submitted before the Ahmedabad court that an agreement for leave and licence was executed between Yankis and the premise owners for four years (from July 2017 to June 2021) with a condition that the licence could be terminated only by serving 30 days’ prior notice by the respective party. But Yanki’s director upon a visit to the premises in June 2020 when lockdown was eased in phased manner by the Central Government in the aftermath of Covid-19, “was shocked to find” the signboard of Sazzy Sizzlers installed on the premises, Moreover, the director of Yanki’s was not allowed to even enter the premises.According to Yanki, it came to the knowledge of the plaintiff (Yanki) that the defendants (Sazzy Sizzlers, owner of the premises) in conspiracy with each other have taken advantage of the lockdown by removing all the documents, furniture, kitchen utensils, secret recipe details, cheque books, letterhead, computer data etc. from the premises and instead started the same business of sizzlers at the same spot.”The Ahmedabad court had observed that the items prepared by Sazzys through the staff and manager earlier employed with Yanki are similar to the items and edibles prepared by the Yankis.Sazzy Sizzlers moved Gujarat HC in February, challenging the temporary injunction order by the Ahmedabad court. Earlier this month, it was pointed out by Yanki that Sazzy continues to violate the injunction order.Following Yanki’s submissions and the advocate for Sazzy not being present before the court, the bench observed, “Let them (Sazzy) come (before the court). If they (Sazzy) continue with this, we may have to take some stricter actions…They cannot, after the court’s specific directions, continue to do something that is impermissible.”
Written by Mark LandlerWhen Boris Johnson won a landslide election victory for his Conservative Party in 2019, he loomed as a colossus over British politics, the man who had redrawn the country’s political map with a vow to “get Brexit done.”With an 80-seat majority in Parliament, the greatest amassed by a Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, Johnson seemed assured of five years in power. Some analysts predicted a comfortable decade in No. 10 Downing St. for Johnson, the most reliable vote-getter in British politics.Now, just 2-1/2 years after that triumph, Johnson’s political invincibility has been shattered. Rebels in his party fell short of ousting him in a dramatic no-confidence vote on Monday. But with 148 of 359 Tory lawmakers voting against him, he has been damaged, perhaps irretrievably, as an effective, credible leader. Although he remains prime minister, he may be living on borrowed time.It is one of the most head-spinning reversals of fortune in modern British political history. What happened?To some extent, Johnson’s standing crumbled because of the same confounding mix of strengths and foibles that propelled his rise: rare political intuition offset by breathtaking personal recklessness; a sense of history not matched by a corresponding sense of how he should conduct himself as a leader; uncanny people skills vitiated by a transactional style that earned him few allies and left him isolated at dangerous moments.It is that last quality, analysts say, that made Johnson so vulnerable to the setbacks he has suffered. With no underlying ideology beyond Brexit and no network of political friends, the prime minister lost the support of lawmakers in his party when it became clear they could not count on him to win the next election.“Johnson’s such an accomplished escape artist, and his colleagues so craven and cowardly that you can’t rule out him living to fight another day,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “But for what precisely? ‘There’s no there there,’ as the saying goes.”Johnson, after all, is the politician who decided to back Brexit after writing two columns — one making the case for leaving the European Union; the other arguing against it — the night before announcing his position. He won in 2019 by promising to “Get Brexit done,” but having accomplished that goal within months of the election, he often seemed like a prime minister without a plan.Events, as another British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, once put it, have also played a role. Like other world leaders, Johnson was thrown off course by the coronavirus pandemic, his government upended by a rolling health crisis, in which he played a highly visible but not always reassuring role.Johnson reacted late to the looming threat of the virus, imposing a lockdown on the country a week after neighbouring European countries. That delay, critics argued, made the first wave of the pandemic worse in Britain than elsewhere. In April 2020, with the virus circulating in Downing Street, Johnson himself contracted Covid-19, ended up in an intensive care unit and nearly died.But Johnson also pushed for Britain to be a pioneer in developing a vaccine. When Oxford University and AstraZeneca produced one, he rolled it out faster than almost any other major country. He also made a fateful decision — one later copied by other leaders — to reopen society after a significant percentage of the population had been vaccinated. Britons, he said, must learn to live with Covid.It was during the darkest days of the pandemic that the seeds of Johnson’s current troubles were sown. While the rest of the country was enduring stifling lockdowns, the prime minister and his top aides were taking part in social gatherings at Downing Street that violated their own lockdown restrictions.The first reports of illicit parties emerged late last November, prompting Johnson to issue a blanket denial that any laws had been broken. A subsequent police investigation found that was not true: Johnson himself was fined for attending his own birthday party in violation of the rules.Allies of Johnson argue that “Partygate,” as the London tabloids nicknamed it, is a trivial distraction at a time when Europe is confronting its first major land war since World War II. The prime minister swiftly staked out a position as Ukraine’s staunchest defender, shipping powerful weapons to its army and placing regular phone calls to his new friend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.At first, the war eclipsed the scandal, giving Johnson the chance to wrap himself in a statesman’s mantle. But as the fighting ground on, disenchantment resurfaced at home. London’s Metropolitan Police levied fines, and an internal investigation by a senior civil servant painted a lurid portrait of partying in the heart of government.The taint of moral hypocrisy corroded the prime minister’s popularity with the public. On Friday, when he and his wife Carrie Johnson climbed the steps to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a thanksgiving service in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne, he was roundly booed by the crowd. It was an omen.Beyond that, the economic winds began blowing against Johnson. The supply-chain disruptions from the pandemic — combined with price shocks on food and fuel after Russia’s invasion — drove inflation into double digits and raised the specter of “stagflation.”The last time Britain faced that, its Labour government went down to a crushing defeat against Thatcher’s Conservatives. The prospect of history repeating itself helps explain why lawmakers are turning against Johnson.The 2019 Conservative victory was fuelled by winning seats in longtime Labour districts in the country’s Midlands and industrial north, known colloquially as the “red wall.” But as Johnson himself acknowledged after the victory, the Tories had rented these seats, not won them in perpetuity.Instead of appealing to those new Tory voters with innovative policies, Johnson lurched from scandal to scandal. In addition to Partygate, the prime minister became embroiled in an uproar over the expensive refurbishment of his apartment in Downing Street, which was funded by a Conservative donor.He defended a Conservative lawmaker who was accused of lobbying improperly while in office and then had to back down, a humiliating setback that presaged some of the troubles to come within his own party. He got caught up in a vicious and damaging public feud with his former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.By themselves, these issues might not have been enough to trip up a politician known for his Houdini-like escapes. But against an economic backdrop that the head of the Bank of England described as “apocalyptic,” they contributed to fears in the party that the Conservatives face a ferocious voter backlash.“All we can say with any level of certainty is that ordinary Brits are going to find it tough going economically for the rest of this year — and probably well into the next,” Bale said. “And that spells trouble for the Tories, Johnson or no Johnson.”
Mr Bhil is a tribal leader hailing from the Chhota Udepur district.Ahmedabad: A BJP office-bearer in Gujarat was suspended from the party for six years after a video went viral in which a man was purportedly asking him about the money he had paid for securing the job of a conductor in the State Transport Corporation.The suspended office-bearer is identified as Jashubhai Bhil, who is the vice president of Gujarat BJP's Scheduled Tribe Morcha. Mr Bhil on Sunday denied taking any money and said the video was recorded under conspiracy to defame him.Mr Bhil is a tribal leader hailing from the Chhota Udepur district. He is currently serving as the vice president of the BJP's ST Morcha. He had earlier headed the Chhota Udepur district unit of the BJP."As ordered by the state president CR Patil, disciplinary action is being taken against Jashu Bhil and he is being suspended from the party for six years with immediate effect," Gujarat BJP said in a statement.In the video, which has gone viral on social media, a man is seen questioning Mr Bhil about the status of the employment for which he had allegedly paid Mr Bhil money after borrowing it on interest.The man purportedly says that he is not given an appointment even two years after making the payment and wants to know when he will get his money back.The video seems to have been recorded during the coronavirus-induced lockdown period as Mr Bhil purportedly says that offices are closed due to the lockdown and the man should come when they reopen.The man says that other people have already secured a job and questions when he will get it. The video is apparently recorded on a mobile phone.The man, who identified himself as Samad Makrani, claimed that Mr Bhil had taken Rs 40,000 from him assuring him a job as a conductor in the state transport in 2018."I repeatedly requested him (Mr Bhil) over the phone to return my money but he was not giving me a straight answer. To prove this, I recorded this video," he told reporters.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMr Bhil denied having taken the money and said the conversation was about helping Mr Makrani get his money back from a middle man who had promised him a job. "The video was recorded as part of a conspiracy to defame me," he told reporters.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
More than 60 per cent of women workers in informal sector lost their livelihood and there was a 65 per cent reduction in their income during the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed a research study by Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Cooperative Federation along with SEWA Bharat. The study titled ‘Building Resilience and Strengthening our Solidarity’ focusses on the effect of the second wave of the pandemic on 15 women’s collective social enterprises in six states across five sectors — agriculture, handicrafts, services, manufacturing and finance. Among 15, seven co-operatives from all five sectors were covered from Gujarat. Other states were Bihar, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.“The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected informal women workers, uprooting lives and livelihoods. For women in the informal sector, it has been a triple crisis: of health, livelihood and care. Due to a long lockdown, coupled with restrictions, these workers have lost their work and income – many have gone hungry, many more have gone into severe debt,” the report highlights.Of these, services sector followed by agriculture were the most hit during the months of the second lockdown (April-June, 2021).“60 women working under the women collective were reduced to 30 after the first wave. During the second wave, we somehow restarted our services with 30 women but it became very difficult as people would insist on both dose vaccination and would not let them, inside their houses. Since women were scared and hesitant to get vaccinated in the beginning so they got vaccinated late and thus could not get their both doses,” said Kusumben Vaghela (50) from Ahmedabad’s Vadaj area who is associated with SEWA homecare services where women take care of small children and senior citizens.With a family of four, Kusumben who earned Rs 9,000 per month was out of work for four months while her husband into hosiery work too lost his job.Kusumben’s is not the only case. Hitashiben Gamit, 31, of Lakhali village in Tapi district has one bigha land where she grows seasonal vegetables. Not only has she lost majority of her earnings during the second wave, but her crops were also damaged due to the unseasonal rains.“The earning from one seasonal produce of ladyfinger from my farm dropped down from Rs 20,000-25,000 to Rs 5,000. We could not sell in markets as these were closed and were forced to sell to local traders,” says Hitashiben.In addition to income and employment loss, the report also highlights that lack of access to health resources – medicines, tests, hospital beds, doctors – was widely reported from Gujarat. For instance, public facilities could not cope with demand, and local people also did not trust them due to a fear that the facilities lacked resources.“They, therefore, had to go to private hospitals, spending Rs 500- 1,000 per day on tests and medicines with one member from Tapi district reported that hospital bills ranged from Rs 1-1.5 lakh for a week if a patient succeeded in getting a bed for treatment. Members of agricultural collective, for the most part, could not afford these prices and had to rely on home treatment,” it states.In the village of Chichbardi, board member of Megha Co-operative, a collective of women in agriculture, Sangitaben reported that 15 people tested positive Covid-19 and a larger number showed symptoms but with negative test results.
The Gujarat government has reduced the tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) by five per cent with effect from Monday midnight, according to an official release. The state government claimed that the decison has been taken in the interest of people.The reduction comes months after the Government of India asked all state governments to reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) on ATF and rationalise it in the range of one to four per cent.In Gujarat, the VAT on ATF is as high as 30 per cent and the reduction will lower it to 25 per cent. The state government, however, did not elaborate on how the decision will affect the state exchequer.An estimated 1.4 lakh kilo litres of ATF is sold to airlines every year in Gujarat. In 2019-20, the state government earned VAT worth Rs 240 crore from ATF alone. The revenues from ATF has fallen and halved post the Covid pandemic lockdown.
AHMEDABAD: Donation of two kidneys by family of a 66-year-old brain-dead patient at the KD Hospital gave a new lease of life to two patients struggling to survive with regular dialysis. Jeshankar Borisagar, 66, a native of Vavdi in Amreli district, had met with an accident last week. He was brought to the hospital in serious condition. While the doctors tried to revive him for two days, he succumbed to the injuries and was declared brain-dead on Sunday. âAfter consent of his family, the two kidneys were retrieved and transplanted in two patients. During the pandemic, Borisagar, running a grocery shop in his village, would provide food and grocery even during the lockdown. Due to his kind acts, he was very popular with locals. His kindness thus continued even after his death,â said a doctor associated with the procedure, adding that his corneas were donated to the city-based eye bank. It was a hat-trick of transplants in a day for the hospital as a kidney transplant from live donor was also performed on the same day. The doctors said that a woman had donated her kidney to her husband. âThe feat of three transplants in a day is achieved by only a few hospitals in Gujarat,â added officials.
AHMEDABAD: Since the lockdown, a lot of students shifted from private schools to government-run schools due to the financial stress caused by the pandemic. Little Arman in Jamnagar was not lucky enough to have a smooth transfer to a government school. His father had to wage a year-long legal battle with the school for his school leaving certificate so that he could get admission to the government school, and this happened only after the intervention of consumer courts. According to the case details, a resident of Jamnagar, Chand Alam Ansari decided to move his son Arman, a student of Class 3 at St Francis School, to a government school after the lockdown. In July 2020, he requested the school to provide the school leaving certificate. Ansari told the school that it had begun teaching online but he had only one Android phone. He could not afford the expenses and wanted to shift the child to a government school. The private school asked Ansari to pay fees for the period of March to July, but Ansari refused, saying that his son was not taught anything in this time due to the lockdown. The school refused him the certificate and the child could not be admitted to the government school. Ansari dragged the school management to the Jamnagar District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission alleging deficiency in service and seeking directions to the school to issue the certificate. He also demanded compensation from school for wasting his sonâs precious time by not issuing the certificate. The school management, on the other hand, insisted that Ansariâs son got admission for the academic year 2020-21. For the certificate, Ansari had first to pay Rs 5,400 as fees for the last quarter, which he had not done. After hearing the case, in August, the district commission concluded the by not issuing the school leaving certificate, the school had shown a deficiency in service. But it was also held that Ansari was liable to pay the fees. The commission found a way out, and ordered Ansari to pay Rs 5,400 to the school but also directed the school to pay Rs 1,400 to Ansari as compensation for not issuing the certificate and Rs 4,000 extra for legal expenditure he had to incur. The commission, in this way, settled the account. This was not acceptable to the private school and it filed an appeal in the Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission against order of the district commission, but did not succeed. The schoolâs appeal was rejected in the last week of October.
OF THE OVER 7.7 crore registrations so far on the e-Shram portal — the country’s first centralised database of unorganised workers seeded with Aadhaar —Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar lead in terms of closing in on their respective targets for registration.With nearly a fifth of the targeted 38.37 crore unorganised workers now registered on the database, Odisha leads with an 87 per cent coverage of its target, followed by West Bengal (65 per cent), Chhattisgarh (33 per cent), Jharkhand (31 per cent) and Bihar (25 per cent). This trend is being inferred as an indication of the distress seen among unorganised and migrant workers originating from these states in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown last year.In absolute terms, states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh have a higher target for registrations than say Odisha, but the registrations in these states are still to pick up pace, with the target achievement rate in these states at 10 per cent or below, as per government data as of November 11 reviewed by The Indian Express.The Union Labour Ministry is holding regular meetings with states for the updates for registrations, with the latest meeting having been held on November 12.The e-Shram portal will provide insight for the first time into an Aadhaar-seeded database for unorganised sector workers including migrant workers, gig workers, agricultural workers, anganwadi workers, street vendors, domestic workers among others across the country. Till date, such a database is available mainly only for organised workers through the registered workers under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation.After registering on the e-Shram portal, the unorganised workers will have a Universal Account Number on the e-Shram card that will be valid across the country. This could be used to link with various social security schemes. For instance, the government has already announced linking accidental insurance with registration on the e-Shram portal. If a registered worker meets with an accident, he/she will be eligible for Rs 2 lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1 lakh on partial disability. The labour ministry is also undertaking work on linking this database with the Unnati portal, which is proposed to be a labour matching platform for workers to find employment.“States are being asked to provide regular updates about the registrations. States such as Odisha and other eastern states are doing much better progress than even other bigger states. This in some way is indicative of how migrant and unorganised workers from these regions got affected during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown last year, and that’s why more response rate is being seen for registrations in these regions,” a senior labour ministry official told The Indian Express.The government’s target of registrations for unorganised workers is based on the overall estimated size of 38.37 crore population of the informal sector workers, which it aims to complete fully by March-end next year. As of November 15, a total of 7.73 crore registrations have been completed on the portal, with the daily average of registrations around 12 lakhs over the last week. Top News Right NowBJP vs SP over Purvanchal e-way: Idea, construction, competing claimsTMC MLA triggers row with remarks against BSFJhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air orders 72 Boeing 737 MAX jetsClick here for more The registrations on the e-Shram portal have come after a series of earlier attempts over the years to register or issue identification numbers for unorganised workers. A proposal to issue a Unorganized Workers’ Identification Number (UWIN) and allotment of an Aadhaar-seeded Identification number without issuing any smart card was approved by the Central government in 2017 with an estimated cost of Rs 402.7 crore for implementation during 2017-18 and 2018-19. In June 2018, the Ministry of Labour and Employment had issued tender inviting bids for creation of a ‘national platform of unorganized workers and allotment of an Aadhaar seeded identification number.The Labour and Employment Ministry had in December last year sought help from other ministries to build a new database for migrant workers and others in the unorganised sector, which it had hoped to operationalise by June this year. It had then tasked the National Informatics Centre with the design and building of the portal.On June 29, however, after the delay in completion of the portal, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre and said that “the apathy and lackadaisical attitude by the Ministry of Labour and Employment” was “unpardonable” and had set a July 31 deadline for the launch of a national portal for migrant/informal workers. The e-Shram portal was formally launched on August 26.State-wise registrations (irrespective of the targets) show the highest number of registrations have taken place in West Bengal (1.88 crore), Uttar Pradesh (1.42 crore), Odisha (1.15 crore), Bihar (89.17 lakh) and Jharkhand (36.34 lakh). Occupation-wise, agriculture (53.8 per cent) and construction (12.2 per cent) sectors have shown the highest registrations, followed by domestic and household workers (8.7 per cent) and apparel workers (6.2 per cent).
The bright pink desi roses, used for almost all festivities and pujas, are conspicuous by their absence in most flower markets in cities, while in some cities, the price of roses has touched Rs 800 per kilogram. Farmers from Charotar, where roses bloom in abundance, continue to rue the series of losses suffered first due to the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently due to the extended, erratic monsoon.Ghanshyam Chauhan from Rel village in Anand district says that rose farmers have suffered crop losses due to heavy rainfall that lashed the region in October. “Just as the farmers were coming out of the cycle of losses that began with the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, with events being cancelled due to the pandemic, the rain this year affected the yield. Fields that would yield 50 kilograms of roses during Diwali every year have barely one kilogram this season,” Chauhan says. Most farmers in Rel village, which has about 50 bighas of rose farms, have been unable to even meet the expenses.Farmers said that flower sale had been uninterrupted for two months of the holy month of Shravan as well as Navratras, selling at up to Rs 200 per kg. Thereafter, the prices went up to Rs 1,000 per kg in big cities. In Vadodara’s flower market, traders are saving the rose for the garlands, which are priced per piece up to Rs 100. Garlands of marigold with rose in between are being sold for up to Rs 50 per piece. While the price of marigold is Rs 50 per kg, roses are being sold up to Rs 500 per kg.A trader says, “Customers pick up a mix of loose flowers along with garlands that usually has marigold and roses but this time, we are not able to give loose roses as they are extremely expensive. In Vadodara, the cost is Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kg but in cities like Ahmedabad and in North Gujarat, the prices are as high as Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per kilo.About 40 kilometres away from Rel village in Anand, Baroda village of Matar taluka of Kheda district has about 400 bighas of rose farms. But this year has been lacklustre for farmers — many of whom, have even skipped the rose season this monsoon. Kanu Rathod, a traditional rose farmer has, instead, sown castor seeds.Rathod says, “Some of the rose farmers of the village have decided to skip a year or two after suffering heavy losses due to the Covid-19 lockdown… the second wave that came this year and the prediction of a possible third wave to coincide with the festive season had left us anxious… Many of us did not plant rose during monsoon this year…”Farmers say that roses have to be plucked at night and transported to the market early morning. “Roses perish fast. If they are not plucked at night and taken to the market by 4 am, they lose their value… With the prices so high, common customers do not opt for roses and the traders are also purchasing minimum stock,” he adds.Traders, however, are hopeful that the prices would come down during the upcoming wedding season. “The rain has stopped and rose crop yields flowers for the entire year — up to six or seven years of its life. Hopefully, by December the prices should drop as the wedding season picks up up to February…,” a trader says.