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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

British media hails India's handling of Covid-19

England, Scotland and Wales today announced a further 586 coronavirus deaths, with the official death toll now standing at 21,678 in Britain.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced  that the Government would change its daily statistics announcements to include, for the first time, people who die outside of hospitals, such as in care homes or in their own houses. He also said testing would now be expanded so that anyone in a hospital or a care home - staff, residents and patients - will be able to get tested for coronavirus whether they have symptoms or not. Anyone over the age of 65 with a fever or a new cough, and the people who live with them, will also now have routine access to testing.

A shock report today revealed the UK's real death toll may be 55 per cent higher than the daily updates given by the Department of Health because they don't include people dying outside of hospitals and don't take into account a lag in how fatalities are recorded.  ONS data, which is released each week and offers the only true picture on how many people have died outside of hospitals, recorded 3,096 COVID-19 care home deaths by April 17. This was almost triple the 1,043 total announced the week before, with 2,000 new fatalities in the space of a week.

~ even as they struggle with Covid-19, biased reporting by the British Press generally would not stop – yet here is something on what they are writing about India – full of praise !

India has reported only 934 deaths from 29,435 cases in a country of 1.3billion…. .. India's low death rate from coronavirus is puzzling experts, who say the country's young population is an advantage but warn the figures are likely to be incomplete. Fears of an appalling death toll in a country of 1.3billion have not yet been realised, with only 934 deaths from 29,435 cases so far.

India imposed a drastic nationwide lockdown on March 30, when the country had confirmed only a few hundred cases - moving earlier than much of Europe. India's median age of 28 is well below that in the US (38), Britain (41), Spain (43) or Italy (45), an advantage against a virus which is most dangerous to the elderly. However, India's testing rate is small for the size of its population and experts fear there could be a large tally of 'missing' deaths among people who died at home – well people living in India know well, how much of a lie is this – TN Govt is managing well and we do not feel that people are dying at home !

This graph shows the daily number of deaths, which has remained below 100 a day so far - a low death rate which is puzzling experts.  India's fatality rate of 3.2 per cent - meaning around one in 31 confirmed patients has died - is well below that in Britain, Italy or Spain, although not Germany.  Prime minister Narendra Modi says India is at 'war' with the virus and has urged his 1.3billion citizens to keep observing the lockdown. 'We should not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that coronavirus has not reached our city, our village, our streets, our office, and so will not reach them,' he said.  In a good measure, all domestic and international travel is banned, factories and offices are shut along with schools, and migrant workers have been moved to quarantine centres. The country's land borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal have all been closed. The border with Pakistan is heavily controlled in any case.

Medical journal The Lancet says India's measures are 'already having the desired effect of flattening the epidemic curve'. 'The lockdown has also given the government time to prepare for a possible surge in cases when the pandemic is forecasted to peak in the coming weeks,' researchers say. The measures were imposed when India had only 482 cases, only a week after Boris Johnson ordered Britons to stay at home when the UK already had 6,650. India's lockdown is currently due to expire on May 3, but could be extended further. India's numbers are low enough to employ a successful 'cluster containment' strategy by detecting cases early and tracing that person's contacts. India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, home to 200million people, has set up ten laboratories to test for Covid-19 since the first case was reported on March 3.

Meanwhile, the worst-hit state of Maharashtra - which includes Mumbai - has deployed drones and mass patrols to enforce the lockdown.  Experts have also highlighted India's experience in tackling previous disease outbreaks including polio and HIV.  Dr Mike Ryan, the WHO's top emergencies expert, said last month that India's success in eliminating polio was an example of how it could deal with Covid-19. The World Health Organisation also praised India's handling of the Nipah virus in 2018, especially its effective contact tracing after an outbreak in Kerala. 

After recording a dip in the number of cases of coronavirus infection over the past few days, Tamil Nadu has once again reported a spike, with 120 new cases on Tuesday. Of this number, 103 were recorded in state capital Chennai alone.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28.4.2020 @ 11:02pm.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Stern measures help New Zealand contain Covid and reduce one level

White Fern Suzie Bates has challenged cricketers around the country to get out their bat and ball while in isolation.  The veteran international all-rounder challenged other White Ferns and Black Caps to see how many times they could bounce a cricket ball on the side of their bat. "If you've got a cricket bat and a tennis ball at home, you can give it a crack too," she said.

During the Covid-19 induced stay at home norms, the 2020 New Zealand Cricket Awards will be for the first time will be given electronically . The Award ceremony has been broken into parts and will start from Tuesday and continue till Friday with a number of awards will be given everyday.  New Zealand Cricket in a break from the long standing traditional way, will be trying something very unique to outbeat the COVID-19 constraints and felicitate their cricketers with the 2020 New Zealand Cricket Awards.  The Bert Sutcliffe Medal for outstanding services to cricket will be given on Tuesday. Former Kiwi fast bowler Ewen Chatfield had won it last year. The Redpath Cup for first class batting will be given the next day. Last year's recipient of the award was none other than Kane Williamson. The Winsor Cup for the first class bowling will be presented on Wednesday as well which was won by Trent Boult in the season 2018-19.  Awards for limited overs cricket will be presented on the 30th April. International Men's T20 player and ODI player of the season awards went to Colin Munro and Ross Taylor respectively  last year.  International Test player award and the Richard Hadlee Medal will be presented the last day that is on May 1. Last year Kane Williamson had won both these awards .

The coronavirus pandemic may be the largest test of political leadership the world has ever witnessed. Every leader on the planet is facing the same potential threat. Every leader is reacting differently, in his or her own style. And every leader will be judged by the results. German Chancellor Angela Merkel embraces science. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejects it. U.S. President Donald Trump’s daily briefings are a circuslike spectacle, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken great measures and is guiding the Nation in the best manner, facing challenge of keeping healthy  1.3 billion people.

Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, is forging a path of her own. Her leadership style is one of empathy in a crisis that tempts people to fend for themselves. Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn’t just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well.  The good news is that  New Zealand has 'achieved elimination' of coronavirus as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed the country has scored a significant victory against the spread of Covid-19.

The country has been following an elimination strategy with the goal of completely ending the transmission of coronavirus within its borders.  'There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand,' Ardern declared on Monday. 'We have won that battle.'  Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's Director General of Health, said the low number 'does give us confidence that we've achieved our goal of elimination. That never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from.  'Our goal is elimination. And again, that doesn't mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.'

The nation of five million people, reported only one new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,122 with 19 deaths. After nearly five weeks at the maximum Level Four restrictions - with only essential services operating - the country will move to Level Three late on Monday. New Zealand's efforts to flatten the curve have been very successful, leading to the country relaxing coronavirus restrictions from tonight.   New Zealand's 5 million residents were subjected to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in response to the pandemic, with Ardern closing offices, schools, bars and restaurants, including take away and delivery services, on March 26.  Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were also shut, effectively restricting people to their homes and short walks around their neighbourhood. As part of elimination measures, the country also closed its borders and enforced quarantine of all arrivals into the country. 

Experts said New Zealand's remote geographical location as well as its easily sealable borders enabled the country to aim for elimination of the virus. The downgrade from Alert Level 4 to Level 3 will allow some businesses, takeaway food outlets and schools to reopen. New Zealanders will now  be able to go fishing, surfing, hunting and hiking this week for the first time in more than a month as the country begins to ease its way out of a strict lockdown that successfully slowed the spread of the coronavirus. Around 400,000 people will return to work after the country shifts its alert level down a notch at midnight on Monday, but shops and restaurants will remain closed as several social restrictions remain in place.

The Nation as a whole remained disciplined with people appreciating and following their leader.  Eateries announced contactless delivery plans, retail stores showcased their latest collections online for home delivery and office towers posted social distancing rules in elevators and public areas.  'We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths,' Ardern said at a news conference on Monday. 'To succeed we need to hunt down the last few cases of the virus.' 'I will not risk the gains we've made in the health of New Zealanders. So if we need to remain at Level Three, we will.' She insisted at the daily government briefing: 'We are opening up the economy, but we're not opening up people's social lives.' 
Trust in governments in Australia and New Zealand has risen since the start of the pandemic, opinion polls show, with their idealogically opposite leaders hailed for their management of the crisis.  The shift to level 3 would mean that New Zealanders will have some restrictions lifted including:
·         Fishers will be permitted to cast a line from a wharf but not a boat
·         People will  be allowed to exercise at their local parks or beaches but keep a good 2 metre distance from others
·         Driving will be permitted for going to school or work for essential workers
·         Ardern warned people should still work from home where possible  and when at work – staff  have to make sure they keep 1m between each other and practice good hygiene
·         Parents can choose whether to send their children to school or continue lessons at home, Ardern wants the majority to learn from home.
·         Still sharing a  meal, food or a wedding reception is not permitted   

Some might jump and speak of economy – but New Zealand practiced much harder lockdown and has successfully been able to contain – India’s strategy was right but people cooperation has not been.

Hope saner minds prevail, people remain at home, and India too comes out of the clutches of the dreaded virus

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

No. of people discharged from Tamil Nadu crossed 1000 .. positive signs - Covid 19

The existential crisis is ‘to read or not to read’ – not one of ‘to know or know not’ !

Long back a Doctor scared me on the evil effects of eating food outside and recommended that   washing  hands is  the most important habit to be inculcated.  Spending 20 seconds under the sink with soap is the best way to get rid of germs on your hands, and proper hand-washing still trumps hand sanitizer in terms of effectiveness.  Household names are household names for a reason -- they work and people like them. But have you observed that most (including the household name of disinfectant in  India) – carry a label ‘anti-bacterial’ – then how effective are they against virus ?

A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism.  Viruses are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth and are the most numerous type of biological entity.  Bacteria and viruses are microscopic microbes. Bacteria are living cells which can be either beneficial or harmful to other organisms. Viruses have to invade the body of a host organism in order to replicate their particles. Therefore, most viruses are pathogenic.  Corona is not new, it is a type of virus and there are many different kinds – some cause disease.  The one threatening mankind emanated from Wuhan, China and was named Covid-19.  Amidst all the apprehensions, fear, negative mind, negative media, criticism – is there something positive to look at – YES !

After recording 1,975 fresh novel coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, India's Covid-19 cases count surged to 26,917 today, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data. On the first day of the ‘total lockdown’ in Tamilnadu on Sunday, most streets in the city wore a deserted look. Cops and conservancy workers were the only ones about.  To add some cheer, there were heavy showers early in the morning.

The new coronavirus  has caused a global disease epidemic and all but turned the lights out on much of the world’s economy. The next ripple effect could be a new Cold War, this time between China and the United States.  The world’s two biggest economies are still trying to grasp the unprecedented scale of the pandemic’s consequences. Global growth forecasts have been ripped up and job losses are running into the millions and counting, while governments are pulling together rescue packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars that dwarf those of the financial crisis 12 years ago. US President Donald Trump  last week indicated what some of those shadows might be, saying at a press conference that the US was investigating the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan. He said that there would be consequences if China was found to be “knowingly responsible” for the outbreak that has now killed more than 200,000 people around the world.  The British government also waded in, with cabinet minister Michael Gove telling the BBC last month that China had failed to convey the “scale, nature and infectiousness” of the disease. German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the chorus, calling for more transparency from China about the origin of the virus. This all pointed to “tense international relations” in the post-coronavirus world.

Yet there is some good news from the origin or the epicenter as one may choose to call – the  city of Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, no longer has any Covid-19 patients in hospital after the last 12 were discharged on Sunday.  Their release ended a four-month nightmare for the city, where the disease was first detected in December. The number of patients being treated for Covid-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, peaked on February 18 at 38,020 – nearly 10,000 of whom were in severe or critical condition. “With the joint efforts of Wuhan and the national medical aid given to Hubei province, all cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan were cleared as of April 26,” Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission said on Sunday afternoon.  The announcement came only one day after the city discharged the last patient who had been in a severe condition. That patient also was the last severe case in Hubei province.  Wuhan was the hardest hit city in China, accounting for 50,333 of the 82,827 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases recorded in China. More than 4,600 died in the country from the disease.  On March 13, the city reported for the first time that there were no new suspected cases of the infection, and five days later there were no confirmed cases.

Tamil Nadu registered a welcome milestone in the fight against Covid-19 on Sunday when the number of people discharged from hospital crossed 1,000, leaving 865 under treatment. And, 13 districts have not recorded a fresh case for at least five days now.  The Niligiris has not had anyone test positive for 15 days and Ranipet hasn’t reported a new case for the last 13 days. Krishnagiri retained its Covid-free record as the sample of a 43-year-old man tested negative. Pudukottai and Dharampuri have only one case each. Cases in Perambalur and Ariyalur have not exceeded single digits. Public health experts, however, warned that more testing was needed to conclude the rate of infection was slowing.

Chennai, however, continued to report the most positive cases in the state, with 28 more on Sunday taking its tally to 523. The state as a whole recorded 64 more positive cases.  The numbers are large in Chennai because we are seeing clusters. Seven members of a family in Royapuram tested positive today,” said a senior health official. “One more person tested positive taking the count to 16 in a row of houses at Asirvathapuram in Pulianthope,” he said.

We would be failing in our duty to appreciate another good initiative – ‘Annapoorna Trains’  from North and Jai Kisan Special from South mark the beginning of long distance super heavy fast special Freight trains. Almost 5000 tons and more than 80 rakes long long haul loaded foodgrain trains run fast to connect the nation. More than 3.2 Million Tonnes of food grains have been loaded between 1st April - 16th April this year as compared to 1.29 Million Tonnes in the same corresponding period last year.

Indian Railways in its endeavor to ensure transportation  of essential items during the nationwide lock down due to COVID-19, continues to deliver essential commodities like food grains through its freight services to strengthen Government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of corona virus in the country. The Union Government has been focusing special attention to ensure that the supply chains of essential goods are maintained, besides ensuring that farm produce is transported without hindrance within the state and inter-state. To ensure delivery of bigger volumes at a faster speed, Indian Railways have innovated by joining two freight trains together. Success Stories and Innovations have come from Northern Railways and South Central Railways.

Northern Railway has formed 5000 tonnes long lead long haul loaded foodgrain trains. 25 such Annapoorna trains have been formed and run by NR upto 16.04.2020. They covered the states like Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Mizoram. These long lead long haul grain trains have gone up to New Bongaigaon (NBQ) in NFR. Like NR , As part of this endeavour, now the South Central Zone of Indian Railways too has come up with a unique concept of running “Jai Kisan” Special freight trains so as to ensure speedy delivery of foodgrains to different parts of the country. Under this concept, two freight trains loaded from two different originating stations are clubbed at the nearest junction point and moved as single train up to the common junction point of the destination stations taking the advantage of path availability due to non-running of passenger carrying trains.

Under normal circumstances, one freight train containing 42 covered wagons loaded with food grains carries around 2600 tonnes. But in the new concept two freight trains means 42+42 =84 covered wagons with 5200 tonnes capacity food grains will be moved in a single path. This concept drastically reduces the journey time of the freight trains to their respective destinations. Maintaining continuity in supply chain was stiffer on account of tough working conditions due to lockdown. A constant coordination for terminal release/labour availability with DMs/SPs at district level, state coordinating officers, and at apex level with MHA is being done by operating officers of Indian Railways. A meticulous prior planning is being done with FCI for arranging destinations as per requirement in states. In this lockdown period, moving staff from house to control and office is being done through emergency vehicles and workman special trains. The sanitization of control and other offices is also being ensured so that staff feels safe and confident in working.

Let us hope that sooner we forget Covid 19 and are back to our routine spending money on movies and discussing on which team will quality in IPL 2020.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Covid affecting Sports and sportspersons !!

Jharkhand was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 Nov 2000.    When the land of forests,  celebrated its 10th anniversary of the formation, the State Govt issued full-page advts with 2 personalities – one was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the other was this Arjuna Awardee……..

If you have recognized her immediately,  great… that is Deepika Kumari, archer.  She won gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth games in the women's individual recurve event. Kumari qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where she competed in the Women's Individual and Women's team events, finishing in eighth place in the latter.  She was conferred with Arjuna Award and this is the photo of her receiving the award from Mr Pranab Mukherjee.

It is a game with we need to get associated emotionally and historically – all our Ithihasa puranas hail those possessing this skill as great people ~ it is archery….

When we were young – the heroes were Sunil Gavaskar, Viswanath, Bedi, Chandra, Venkat, later Gavaskar, Kapil Dev,  Krish Srikkanth, SAchin Tendulkar … and those who followed Cricketer spoke names of Rick McCosker, Jeff Thomson, Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappel, Rodney Marsh, Greenidge, Viv Richards, Lloyd, Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Marshall .. ..  ~ in short Cricket, the game, the players were the main topics of discussion .. now things are in disarray.  

The cash-cow IPL is postponed indefinitely – and in UK, there are jitters of their new dream of Hundreds, even as Cricket Australia is crying lack of funds to pay.  Tom Harrison has insisted the case for the Hundred is "much greater than it was" in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. While Harrison, the ECB chief executive, admitted the ECB were "starting to get comfortable with the idea there won't be crowds this summer" and, as a result, accepted "it's going to be very, very difficult" to launch the competition this year, he feels the long-term need for it is increased by the prospect of losing so much cricket - and revenue - during 2020.And while some county executives feel the costs of the new tournament - and the risk inherent in trying to popularise a fourth format of the sport - should necessitate a review into its future, Harrison is adamant the game needs the "revenue, interest and excitement" the Hundred could create more than ever.

In middle of a global lockdown, international and domestic West Indies players are facing another challenge with Cricket West Indies (CWI) not paying their match fees since January this year that would under normal circumstances have been due for payment at the end of Feb 2020. The main reason for the delay in payments has been understood to be a severe cash crunch CWI has been facing which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The international men players have not been paid their match fee for the home series against Ireland in January (three ODIs and three T20Is) and the Sri Lanka tour in February-March (three ODIs and two T20Is). The international women are owed the match fees for the four matches they played in the T20 World Cup, played in February-March in Australia.  However, the biggest losers are the domestic players, most of whom have not been paid a large percentage of their match fees for the 2020 West Indies Championship, the regional four-day competition. In March, CWI discontinued the competition after eight of the 10 rounds, declaring Barbados the winners of the Headley-Weekes Trophy (named after Caribbean greats George Headley and Everton Weekes).

Unlike Cricket, Archery is not followed by all ~ though, Limba Ram took it to greater heights and made it  more popular when he equalled an archery world record in 1992 at the Asian Championships in Beijing. The archer who won PadmaShri award in 2012 was a  product of the Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram which is working for the socio-economic upliftment and development of India's indigenous tribes in the remote tribal areas of India.

Limba Ram was born in Saradeet Village (Jhadol tahsil, Udaipur district, Rajasthan state, India) in  1972.   He was spotted and helped by the Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, the RSS-linked organisation that works for tribal welfare, through its Ekalavya Khelkood Pratiyogita competition.  In 1990, he helped India finish fourth at the Beijing Asian Games. He represented India in three Olympics. In 1992, he equalled the world record of Takayoshi Matsushita in the Beijing Asian Archery Championships in the 30 meters event, with a score of 357/360 to bag the gold medal.  In 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics, Ram missed the Bronze medal by one point in the 70-meter segment and finished with 10th rank.   He is a recipient of Arjuna Award in 1991 and  Padma Shri in 2012.

In 1996 Limba Ram joined TATA Group. In the same year he suffered from serious shoulder injury while playing Football in training camp at Kolkata. He was unable to shoot a bow and lost his focus and concentration. Later he joined  Punjab National Bank in 2001 as a cashier. The nationwide lockdown due to the spread of Covid-19 pandemic has affected people from all walks of life, especially patients with critical illness who have been facing problems in accessing healthcare services. Legendary archer Limba Ram his one of them. He has been struggling in his grim battle against a neuro-degenerative disease (multiple system atrophy). Limba has been s undergoing treatment at Capital’s AIIMS.  An year ago when Limba was diagnosed with the condition, the Sports Authority of India had helped Liimba get into AIIMS without any kind of hassle but a year later, as he remains on the bed.  Sad.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Thursday, April 23, 2020

UP exports vegetables to UK .. Kerala Govt caught in Sprinklr data scam !

A fire sprinkler system is an active fire protection method, consisting of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. .. .. Insurers speak about this daily on analyzing their risks !  Life has changed – long ago – the Telephone Directory was a prized possession –  could we have imagined that a day might come when people would not like their nos listed / revealed .. !  - yet one gets no. of calls offering services, products – many a times, they would have most of our information including DoB, Occupation, Address, ownership of vehicles, homes, products and .. .. – one may be surprised that most companies buy data thinking them to the goldmine for furtherance of their business.

Unconnected but in news is ‘Sprinklr’ - a New York City-based software company that develops a SaaS customer experience management (CXM) platform. The company's software, also called Sprinklr, utilizes artificial intelligence, and combines different applications for social media marketing, social advertising, content management, collaboration, employee advocacy, customer care, social media research and social media monitoring.

On Wednesday, US tech giant Facebook announced that it would invest $5.7 billion (Rs 43,547 crores) in RIL's wholly-owned subsidiary Jio Platforms to expand its presence in India. With this investment, Facebook will own 9.9 per cent stake in Jio Platforms. This would be Facebook's biggest minority shareholding ever. Reliance Jio, a part of Jio Platforms, has been the fastest-growing telecom network in the country since its launch in 2016. Jio has more than 388 million customers in India.

After the announcement, in early morning trade, shares of Reliance Industries (RIL) gained 7 per cent at Rs 1,326 on the BSE and with day’s gain, the stock of RIL has rallied 14 per cent from its Tuesday’s low of Rs 1,164. In a press release shared by the company, it says, "This investment by Facebook values Jio Platforms at Rs 4.62 trillion pre-money enterprise values ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of Rs 70 to a US Dollar). Facebook’s investment will translate into a 9.99 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis," it added. As Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, invests $5.7 billion for a 9.99 per cent stake in Reliance Jio Platforms, the deal is also seen as a powerful alliance to take on formidable players in e-commerce and payments space such as Amazon, Flipkart and Google.

Down under, a five-Test series played exclusively at Adelaide Oval with players housed in the ground's new hotel is far from an outlandish suggestion as Cricket Australia contemplates all possible ways of ensuring that India's scheduled tour takes place next summer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. CA's chief executive Kevin Roberts stressed that the governing body was being as "creative" as possible to try to ensure the tour goes ahead at the end of the year. Its success rests hand in hand with ensuring that the game in Australia can maximise its revenue next summer so that they could offer players, the states and community cricket and its own staff a flow of cash somewhere near the torrent that has rushed through over the past decade.

Player pay could veer wildly depending on whether the India tour is able to go ahead. Certainly more so than the scheduled T20 World Cup that is still slated to precede it amid growing doubts about staging an event of far greater complexity than housing just one touring team.  The majority of staff, approximately 200, will be stood down next week on 20% of their salary or the equivalent of the Australian government's JobKeeper payment of A$1500 per fortnight, which was introduced to help companies during the pandemic, until the end of the financial year on June 30. CA employees are not eligible for the actual JobKeeper payment because the board's revenue hasn't fallen enough. The executive team (led by CEO Kevin Roberts) and a skeleton staff to maintain basic operations will continue on 80% of their salaries for the same period. Stood down staff at Cricket Australia may find themselves working at Woolworths after the chief executive Kevin Roberts approached the supermarket giant and cricket sponsor about temporary work opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, a good news made its way from the agricultural sector of Varanasi region as for the first time, a consignment of four tonnes of green vegetables including chilli, cucumber and lauki (gourd) left for Delhi to be exported to the UK, which is reeling under the onslaught of the virus. Earlier, vegetable consignments were sent only to the Gulf countries from Varansi region.  Speaking to TOI on Wednesday, divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal said, “On Tuesday evening, a truck left with four tonnes of farm fresh green chilli, gourd and cucumber in air-conditioned containers for Delhi. The vegetables grown by a progressive farmer, Anil Kumar Rai, in his fields in Ghazipur district, will reach London by air cargo on Thursday from the Delhi airport.” “It is a welcome development for the Varanasi region as the dispatch to London will generate opportunities in the European market also. In the past, exports of fresh vegetables were limited only to the Gulf countries,” he added.

The last dispatch by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), in its endeavour to promote exports from rich agricultural regions of India, was made on December 20, 2019 from Varanasi to Dubai. It was the first trial shipment of vegetables through sea route to Dubai.

Whilst the touted backward UP region is selling vegetable to Europe, Kerala is caught in a scam of selling personal data .. .. .. describing Sprinklr issue as the biggest data scam the state has ever seen, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala questioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s role in awarding the contract to manage the details of people under Covid-19 quarantine to an American company. In a fresh allegation, he also said the government had allowed the firm to “steal” the data of 87 lakh ration- card holders as well. He said the scam was happening in the state under the cover of Covid-19 at a time when an investigation is on against Sprinklr in the USA for data fraud.

Speaking at the daily press briefing later, Pinarayi said the information on people under Covid-19 surveillance collected through SaaS — the software tool provided by the US-based company free of cost — will not be misused. He read out a note listing the factors that prompted his government to select Sprinklr without following the normal selection procedures. Meanwhile, the BJP also demanded a detailed probe into alleged transfer of sensitive Covid-19 data by Kerala government to the company.

Kerala’s leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala filed a petition in the Kerala high court demanding that the agreement between the state government and US-based company Sprinklr for sharing data of Covid-19 patients be quashed, even as chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is in the eye of the Sprinklr storm remained in denial. The LDF government has been pushed to the wall ever since charges surfaced that the government had not done due diligence while collecting sensitive Covid-19 data or to ensure that this data didn’t fall into the wrong hands. On Tuesday, the high court said it cannot, prima facie, agree to the state government’s stance that data of Covid-19 patients and suspects being shared with Sprinklr is not sensitive or privileged. Sprinklr reportedly has links to pharma giant Pfizer.

On Tuesday, in an attempt at damage control, the state government constituted a committee - comprising former additional chief secretary (health) Rajeev Sadanandan and IT expert and former Union civil aviation secretary M Madhavan Nambiar - to inquire into the allegations of breach of rules and privacy in the agreement with Sprinklr. However, Chennithala said the two-member committee had no power to conduct an inquiry into an international deal and cannot summon the necessary documents or interrogate the chief minister who is also the minister for IT.  The high court on Tuesday had questioned the need for engaging a third party software as a service provider when the number of patients in Kerala was very low. “There is only one thing that we are concerned about... how can you guarantee us that the data is remaining confidential? Just guarantee us that,” the HC observed.

The CPM continued to support Vijayan, arguing that the government had the right to take extraordinary steps in extraordinary situations. “The government has the responsibility to take unusual steps to save the lives of people. Existing laws provide the government the right to do that. Life of people and wellbeing of the society is more important at this juncture than individual freedom,” a statement issued by the state secretariat here said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

During difficult Covid times, SYMA continues to serve the Society

Sunday, 4th of  August, 2019  would ever remain  a gold letter day in the annals of SYMA history.  We have been aspiring, dreaming for this ~ ‘dreaming big’ to serve the Society more.   SYMA [Srinivas Youngmen’s Association]  has been in the field of Social service since 1977 starting with street cleaning campaigns and keeping environment, more specifically, the temple tank and its surroundings clean.   We at SYMA, feel strongly the primary responsibility of improving the Society and helping the underprivileged.  

We have been dreaming of expanding ~ and the foremost impediment in realizing our endeavour was perhaps lack of space.  SYMA has been functioning in a 270 SFT approx premises at 29 TP Koil Street,   Opp to Bharathiyar  Illam.   On 4.8.2019  with the munificent support of Vasavi Builders, SYMA moved  to a sprawling premises at 37 Car Street, Triplicane, Chennai 600 005.

In a few months – the visibility grew bigger and so did the activities – the Rs.2 Medical centre started attracting more patients.  We have : Medical centre, Blood analysis lab, Gynecological consultation, Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Eye clinic – all under one roof – added private Doctor for ENT (Dr Sunandha); Pediatrics (Dr V Venkatesh) and Ortho (Dr Subramaniam) .. .. .. SYMA has become much bigger and .. ..expenses too were shooting up.   The 12th year of SYMA Growth too concluded with pooja – wishing the students all the best in the examinations and career.

Suddenly Mar 2020 has thrown the World out of gears – life has changed suddenly and totally.  As the Nation announced lock-down, we had to stop all our activities. The medical centre, lab and other facilities can no longer cater to the benefit of poor people.  With grave heart, Notice Board had to be placed stating ‘We are closed till further instructions of the Govt’ and it pains us to receive that odd call from people asking when they can come for treatment !

The dreaded Corona Virus has changed the way people have lived thus far.   It is stated that India has so far recorded over 18000  positive cases of the novel coronavirus while the death toll has climbed to more than 500  in the country.  The no. of people affected in Tamilnadu too has been on the rise.

Globally – the situation is far different than what it was a couple of months ago ! - After trading below $0 for the first time ever, the US crude turning positive as oil prices rebounded on Tuesday. Donald Trump has said he will order a temporary suspension of immigration to the US.  U.S. oil prices crashed to the negative territory for the first time in history on Monday, fueled by pandemic-related demand shock and oversupply fears. It marks the first time an oil futures contract has traded negative in history, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

When most Nations are floundering, China seems to be recovering on economic fronts too.  Chinese truck maker Foton is moving to online sales in Brazil, due to an expected rise in demand for light commercial vehicles driven by the boom in online sales and home delivery services. "Due to the lockdown, online sales have become more important, and that is a trend that is here to stay," said Luiz Carlos Mendonca de Barros, president of Foton's board of directors in Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, in an interview with Xinhua.

Back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modiji has urged  130 crore Indians to act as national volunteers in fighting the Corona virus pandemic.  Prime Minister exhorted the media and people to  disseminate positive stories and case studies, particularly of those patients that have fully recovered from coronavirus infection, and also inter-play such stories in different parts of the country, thus bringing the entire country together. 

On 24 March, the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive measure. As the end of the lockdown period approached, state governments and other advisory committees recommended extending the lockdown. On 14 April, Prime minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown till 3 May, with a conditional relaxation after 20 April for the regions where the spread has been contained.

Lockdown is necessity and reality – people must maintain social distancing and remain at home in fighting the dreaded virus, as directed by the Govt.  The State and Central Govts are taking great measures in fighting and in preventing the spread despite some foolish moves by a few citizens in not adhering to the guidelines. Life is sustainable for those of us in regular employment and in the comfort of our homes – we miss lot of things – especially our Sri Parthasarathi Perumal and purappadu. However, we get food at appointed hour and sleep in the comfort of our homes. We must appreciate those personnel – Doctors, Nurses, para-medics, Govt machinery, Police and everyone else who are out on the roads, protecting the citizens of this Nation.

Life is difficult for the daily wage earners.  There is some sprinkling of migrant population in and around Triplicane too.  One could see hundreds of construction workers standing at Triplicane High road in the mornings, waiting for contractors to pick them up and send to some sites. Life perhaps has come to a standstill for them.

SYMA members Mr SR Parthasarathi (SRP), VP Manivannan, S Parthasarathi, TJ Ramani, S Venkatesh, Sanjeevi, Kasthuri Sir, MA Sadagopan  and others have been trying to support those with difficulty.  Rice, provisions and other items in neat packets have been distributed to Sanitary workers, Govt agencies and needy people in and around Triplicane. 

While the functioning of Medical centre hinges on Govt announcement, the fact of our distributing medicines through a druggist – Radha Medicals, near Kellet High School has helped immensely.  SYMA officials have taken a decision that those who have been availing the medical services of SYMA medical centre and taking their weekly medicines, can now go direct to the medical shop and continue to get the same medicines for another period or so.  The medical shop as also the patients have been individually informed this and this measure too has helped people in a big way in ensuring that they continue to get medicines free. 

Appreciations to SRP, Mani, TJ Ramani  and  all others involved in this. We will also join with our little contributions and be of help to the Society.

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनोभवंतु ॥

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
Secretary, SYMA
PS : I have not ventured out of home during these days of lockdown and hence has not partaken in the relief measures organized by SYMA.