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SKY To Lead India’s T20Is Squad On SL Tour; Rohit To Be Captain In ODIs

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File picture of Suryakumar Yadav & Rohit Sharma
Shubhman Gill Vice-Captain in both formats; Virat to play ODIs
Jasprit Bumrah rested; Hardik only part of T20Is squad, as also Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Rinku Singh
KL Rahul & Shreyas Iyer return for ODIs; Ravindra Jadeja notable omission

The Gautam Gambhir effect has already started showing in the selection of the Indian T20 captain and squads for the forthcoming T20Is and ODIs tour of Sri Lanka, announced by BCCI on Thursday.

World’s top T20 batter Suryakumar Yadav, nicknamed SKY or Mr 360 degree, and not world’s current top T20 allrounder Hardik Pandya, will lead the country’s T20Is squad, while Rohit Sharma, who along with Virat Kohli and allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, had announced his retirement from the shortest format of the game after lifting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, continues as captain of the ODIs squad. Opening batsman Shubhman Gill will be the vice-captain of both squads.

While Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for the tour, Virat Kohli, who, along with Rohit Sharma, had informed the BCCI about his availability for the tour, forms part of the ODI squad.

Hardik is only part of the T20Is squad, and so are Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Rinku Singh. Middle order batter Riyan Parag finds a place in both squads and Delhi pacer Harshit Rana comes into the ODIs squad, which also sees the return of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Ravindra Jadeja is a notable omission from the ODIs squad.

Mohammad Shami apparently still not fully recovered from injury will also miss the tour to Sri Lanka, during which India play three T20Is and an equal number of ODIs in the island nation from July 27 to August 7.

In Bumrah’s absence, the pace attack will be led by Mohd. Siraj and Arshdeep Singh. Among other pacers Khaleel Ahmed has found his name in both squads, while Harshit Rana is an addition in the 50 overs format.

The spin department finds allrounders Axar Patel and Washington Sundar in both squads. While Ravi Bishnoi is the third spinner in the T20Is squad, Kuldeep Yadav replaces him in the ODIs.

This will be Gautam Gambhir’s first tour as head coach of the Indian cricket team after recently replacing Rahul Dravid, and thus his performance will be closely watched.

T20I Squad: Suryakumar Yadav (C), Shubman Gill (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rishabh Pant (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Rinku Singh, Riyan Parag, Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Arshdeep Singh, Mohd. Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Washington Sundar.

ODI Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill (VC), Virat Kohli, KL Rahul (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag, Arshdeep Singh, Mohd. Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Harshit Rana, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar.

Ahead Of Amazon Prime Day, Local Shops On Amazon Programme Gets New Features

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Sellers get easier 1-click join-in process on the Seller Mobile app; customers can easily discover and purchase products from their trusted local stores through a new storefront-led shopping experience on the Amazon Mobile app

In 2020, Amazon.in launched the ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme to help small and medium local physical stores get digitalised and reach customers in their neighbourhood through its app. In 2024, the programme is helping tens of thousands of such stores across the country to use the power of digital to get more customer orders from their neighbourhood, and the customers a convenient option of shopping from their trusted nearby local stores from the comfort of their homes.

Ahead of the 8th ‘Amazon Prime Day’ sale on July 20-21, Amazon has announced that it has introduced new features in its ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme aimed at improving seller onboarding and customer experience.

Abhishek Jain, Head, Local Shops on Amazon at Amazon India, shared with reporters during a press event in Chandigarh on Tuesday: “We are excited to see the rapid scale up of the Local Shops on Amazon programme across the country.

“The programme has onboarded over 3500 local offline stores from Punjab, helping them grow and sustain their business, across categories like Home & Kitchen products, Apparel, Home furnishing, Furniture, Health & Personal care, Toys, Industrial equipment. We are preparing our sellers for Prime Day and excited to introduce our 1-click launch feature for Local Shops sellers in Punjab and across India.

“This feature eliminates multiple steps in the way, making it incredibly convenient for them to join Local Shops programme. We combined this with the enhanced Seller Storefront making it easier for customers to discover the right product from a particular shop and share the store with their friends & family to bring more traffic to the seller.

“These innovative features mark a significant step in our mission to digitise and empower small and medium-sized enterprises across India, providing them with the tools and opportunities to grow and scale their businesses through e-commerce and our online marketplace.”

The enhanced Seller Storefront is available to all sellers on Amazon.in and allows them to showcase their location (locality and city) and share their storefront, with the social shareability button, across platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram to drive more traffic. Customers can also share their favorite shops with friends and family, helping them discover unique local selections on Amazon.

The storefront dynamically curates selection for each customer, grouping products into categories like Recommended, Latest Arrivals, and Best Sellers based on each seller’s offerings. Sellers can also customize their shop name, locality/city, and add a business logo to reflect their offline identity on Amazon.in.

The storefront can also be accessed offline by displaying a QR code in the physical stores, which links directly to their online page when scanned. Offering an online channel ensures customers can continue purchasing from the seller even when the physical store is temporarily unavailable.

Sharing his personal experience with the Local Shops Programme, Ashish Sahni, owner of Dera Bassi-based LookRavish, says, “Joining the Local Shops programme three years ago was a game-changing decision for me and my brother Sumit. After 38 years of selling beauty, health, and personal care products offline, we took a bold step to move our family’s business online.

“Registration process was smooth, and the overall selling experience has been very fruitful. Amazon also provides training materials and tools to help sellers grow their businesses, especially during events like Prime Day. In fact, we sold over 500 products on Prime Day last year. Overall, our sales have grown by 300% annually, and this online business now constitutes a significant portion of our total revenue.”

About the ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme

The programme brings the benefits of ecommerce to offline retailers and neighbourhood stores. It helps supplement the existing footfalls at their offline stores with a digital presence on Amazon.in and expands their reach.

The programme helps customers discover products from neighbourhood stores in their city (many they already trust and love!) from the convenience of their homes, while helping local shops transform into digital stores.

With this programme, sellers can sell to customers beyond their immediate vicinity, using their existing delivery mechanisms or engaging with identified courier partners. They can also leverage other fulfilment programmes from Amazon like Easy Ship and Seller Flex to further expand their business within their cities and other locations across India.

For more information on seller onboarding visit: https://sell.amazon.in/sell-online/local-shops-on-amazon

For Local Shops on Amazon visit: https://www.amazon.in/Local-Shops/b?ie=UTF8&node=28253258031&discounts-widget=%2522%257B%255C%2522state%255C%2522%253A%257B%255C%2522refinementFilters%255C%2522%253A%257B%257D%257D%252C%255C%2522version%255C%2522%253A1%257D%2522

On Kapil’s Appeal, BCCI Announces Rs 1 Cr Financial Aid For Ailing Ashuman Gaekwad

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File picture of Anshuman Gaekwad
The former gutsy Indian batter has been battling blood cancer for over a year and is currently under treatment in a London hospital

Following an appeal by former Indian World Cup winning cricketers Kapila Dev and Sandeep Patil, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to immediately release Rs 1 crore in financial aid for the treatment of former gutsy Indian opener, selector and coach Ashuman Gaekwad, who is battling blood cancer in a hospital in London.

“Mr Jay Shah (Secretary) has instructed the BCCI to release INR 1 crore with immediate effect to provide financial assistance to India’s veteran cricketer Mr Ashuman Gaekwad, who is battling cancer,” the BCCI apex council said in a statement.

“Shah has also spoken to Mr Gaekwad’s family to take stock of the situation and extend support,” the statement continued. “The board stands by Gaekwad’s family in this hour of crisis and do whatever is essential for Mr Gaekwad’s quick recovery.

“The BCCI will continue to monitor Mr Gaekwad’s progress and is confident that he will come out of this phase strongly.”

Gaekwad was a gutsy cricketer, also known for his extraordinary batting patience. According to reports his highest score of 201 against Pakistan in Jalandhar was a monumental effort that lasted 671 minutes. It was then the slowest double century in first-class cricket.

He featured in 40 Test matches and 15 ODIs for India between 1974 and scored more than 2200 runs. He also had a near-death experience during the pre-helmet era. While playing against the ferocious pace attack of West Indies in Jamaica in 1975/76, one of Michael Holding’s fiery short balls hit Gaekwad on the ear when he was on 81. He was hospitalised and remained in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 48 hours. He also had to undergo two surgeries and continued to suffer from hearing issues later in life.

Anshuman’s father DK Gaekwad captained the Indian team on its tour to England in 1959.

Earlier, India’s World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev had asked the BCCI for financial assistance for his teammate Anshuman Gaekwad. He said that he and other Indian World Cup winning members of the team, including Mohinder Amarnath, Sunil Gavaskar, Sandeep Patil, Dilip Vengsarkar, Madan Lal, Ravi Shastri and Kirti Azad are looking to generate funds for their teammate.

The former India all-rounder was deeply saddened by the condition of Anshuman Gaekwad and believed that the board would step in to become his support.

“It is a sad and very depressing. I am in pain because I have played alongside Anshu and can’t bear to see him in this state. No one should suffer. I know the Board will take care of him. We are not compelling anyone. Any help for Anshu will have to come from your heart.

“He took blows on his face and chest when standing up to some of the ferocious fast bowlers. Now is the time for us to stand up for him. I am sure our cricket fans will not fail him. They should pray for his recovery,” Kapil Dev reportedly told Sportstar.

Sandip Patil broke the news of Gaekwad battling with blood cancer earlier this year. The former India player has been fighting cancer for over a year, remaining in and out of hospitals.

 

Airport Slapping Incidents Connected To Security Screening: CISF In The Eye Of The Storm!

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Grab from CCTV footage of the slapping incident at Jaipur airport
Coming a month after the Kangana Ranaut incident at Chandigarh, the slapping of a CISF ASI by an angry SpiceJet staffer at Jaipur airport raises questions over taking law in own hands in wake of ‘provocations’

A second reported incident of slapping at an airport connected to security screening in just over a month has once again brought into sharp focus the debate over whether a person aggrieved of provocation, however grave, can usurp the right to take the law into his or her own hands in a fit of rage and justify it as a natural reaction.

After the actress-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut incident at the Chandigarh International Airport in first week of June, in which a female Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) staffer on security screening duty slapped her, angered over the actress’ past disparaging remarks against women participants in the farmers’ agitation, comes another episode of a SpiceJet female security staff member slapping a CISF officer during a heated argument over security screening at the Jaipur airport.

The woman SpiceJet staffer, identified as Anuradha Rani, was later arrested on charges of assault and sent to judicial custody by a court, on a complaint lodged by the slapped CISF Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Giriraj Prasad. The woman, who has received full backing from her employers, also subsequently filed a counter police complaint against the CISF ASI alleging “serious sexual harassment”.

A CCTV video clip of the incident shows the CISF officer speaking to the woman in the presence of at least six others, including other SpiceJet staffers and a female CISF staffer. Suddenly, she takes hasty steps towards the ASI and delivers a stinging slap on his face.

According to the ASI’s complaint, an argument took place when the woman was entering the airport along with other SpiceJet staff through the gate meant for vehicles around 4.40 a.m. on July 11. She was stopped for not having valid permission to use that gate, as claimed by the ASI.

While SpiceJet claims she had a valid Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)-issued airport entry pass, she was asked by the ASI to wait for screening and frisking at the nearby entrance for airline crew till a female CISF personnel arrives.

Whatever may have transpired during arguments between the female SpiceJet staffer and the CISF male ASI is a matter of investigation by the CISF internally, and the airport police, but the available CCTV footage clearly shows the presence of a female CISF staffer along with at least five other witnesses, including SpiceJet staffers, when the apparently livid SpiceJet staffer aggressively advances towards the CISF ASI and slaps him on the face.

In a written statement SpiceJet claimed: “While escorting a catering vehicle at the steel gate, our female security staff member, who had a valid airport entry pass issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), India’s civil aviation security regulator, was subjected to inappropriate and unacceptable language by the CISF personnel, including asking her to come and meet him after his duty hours at his home.”

“We stand firmly by our employee and are committed to providing her with full support,” the SpiceJet spokesperson said.

Since both incidents – at Chandigarh and Jaipur airports – involve CISF personnel, a quick and serious intervention by the top hierarchy of the CISF, which is tasked among other things with the security at the airports across the country, to look at their standard operating procedures (SOPs) and their proper implementation has attained urgency.

However, it has been more than a month since the Kangana Ranaut incident, and CISF has not been transparent enough to share the outcome of its internal investigation into the episode. Will the Jaipur incident also meet the same fate!

Humanlike Robots: Shockwaves Over First Ever ‘Robot Suicide’, Yet China Unveils World’s First ‘Emotional’ Humanoid Robot

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Even as the world is grappling with the disturbing reports of the world’s first suspected ‘robot suicide’ at a workplace in South Korea, which is under investigation by the authorities there, comes news that China has unveiled the world’s first “emotional” robot that has “humanlike behaviour” and is designed to feel “happy, sad and angry”.

Though still a far cry, the continual attempts being made in the field of science and technology to inch closer to one day fulfilling the dream of ‘making’ a ‘human being’, with all traits of intelligence, feelings, emotions, etc, is only sharpening the debate around the ethical and safety aspects of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.

The ‘robot suicide’ in Gumi City Council

Recent news reports emanating from the South Korean city of Gumi suggest that a ‘robot administrative officer’, which had been in service of the Gumi City Council since August 2023, had committed ‘robot suicide’. It was recently found defunct after reportedly plunging itself down a staircase.

South Korea, known for its rapid adoption of robotic technology, has the highest robot density in the world, with one industrial robot for every ten human employees.

The robot, as part of its responsibility of performing various administrative tasks like document deliveries, city promotional activities, and providing information to residents during its regular working hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., would move between floors by calling an elevator and was equipped with its own civil service officer card.

The Gumi City Council had announced on June 26, 2024 that their premier administrative officer robot was found unresponsive and shattered to pieces after apparently falling down a six-a-half-foot flight of stairs. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the robot circling in one spot apparently in a state of confusion moments before the fall.

As speculation rose over the emotional capabilities of robots and the possibility of the robot having committed ‘suicide’, the authorities launched an investigation into the entire episode. Pieces of the robot are being analysed by California, US-based company Bear Robotics, that manufactured the robot. The company is well known for its restaurant-serving robots.

‘Guanghua No. 2’, the humanoid robot with a range of emotions

Meanwhile, China has unveiled what has been described as the world’s first “emotional” robot that has “humanlike behaviour” and is designed to feel “happy, sad and angry”.

The humanoid robot, dubbed Guanghua No. 2 displayed a range of different facial expressions at the 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference held in Shanghai, China from July 7-9. Developed by Fudan University in Shanghai it stands around 165 cm tall and weighs about 62 kg.

It comes with 45 intelligent joints, which allow the robot to move its hands properly and walk with an upright posture. It is also equipped to handle four emotions – happiness, anger, sadness, and joy on its facial screen.

The creators of the high-tec humanoid shared that their vision is to create a “health companion” capable of providing personalised and empathetic care for the elderly and address their emotional needs.

The robot has been in the development phase for the last two years and was designed by a team of experts from mechanics, biology, engineering, computer science, and big data. Now it will be developed further to cater to practical applications in the day-to-day lives of the increasingly ageing population in China.

 

 

 

 

Gauti It Is! Gautam Gambhir Named Team India’s Head Coach

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Collage courtesy: http://tring.co.in/
The cricket board hierarchy was so bowled over by his passionate and aggressive cricketing style & strategy that the formal interview for the advertised coach’s job was reduced to a mere formality
Will he get his way with BCCI in appointing support staff of his choice to deliver!
His handling, especially of senior players, will be closely watched

Cracking more than 10,000 runs while playing nearly 250 matches for the country in all three formats, this dependable India top-order batsman was known for belting out peak performances in big matches. His IPL exploits, first for Delhi Capitals and later Kolkata Knight Riders as batter and captain between 2008-2017, and in the latest editions as mentor, have also impressed.

So, it did not come as a surprise when the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) confirmed on Tuesday the much-anticipated appointment of Gautam Gambhir (42) as head coach of the Indian senior men’s cricket team in all three formats for a period of three years, succeeding the legendary Rahul Dravid, who capped his slightly extended three-year assignment with a World Cup winning performance by Team India in the recently concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in USA-West Indies.

Following the announcement by BCCI, Gambhir took to his X handle to express his feelings thus: “India is my identity and serving my country has been the greatest privilege of my life. I’m honoured to be back, albeit wearing a different hat. But my goal is the same as it has always been, to make every Indian proud. The men in blue shoulder the dreams of 1.4 billion Indians and I will do everything in my power to make these dreams come true!”

Gambhir will officially begin his tenure this month itself, with his first assignment being India’s limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka, beginning at the end of the month. Team India is set to play 10 Test matches in the next six months before heading into the 2025 Champions Trophy. The head coach will serve until December 31, 2027, which marks the year of the next ODI World Cup.

Gambhir was recently formally interviewed along with former Indian women’s cricket team head coach W.V. Raman via Zoom by the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee, led by Ashok Malhotra, but the interview was apparently a mere formality with the BCCI hierarchy apparently having already promised the top job to Gambhir and taken his consent.

It remains to be seen whether Gambhir gets his way with the BCCI regarding appointment of support staff of his choice, a condition he is learnt to have placed before the BCCI while giving his in-principle consent to accept the coaching assignment. He is understood to be keen on having former India player and Kolkata Knight Riders’ batting coach Abhishek Nayar as his assistant coach and the great Jonty Rhodes as the fielding coach.

In a press release, the BCCI informed that the Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Ashok Malhotra, Jatin Paranjpe and Sulakshana Naik on Tuesday unanimously recommended Gautam Gambhir as the Head Coach of Team India (Senior Men). The former India batter will take charge from the upcoming away series against Sri Lanka, where Team India is set to play 3 ODIs & 3 T20Is starting July 27, 2024, it added.

About Gautam Gambhir’s cricket exploits

https://www.insidesport.in/cricket/gautam-gambhirs-career-stats-across-formats/

 

Vodafone Idea (Vi) To Get Aggressive In Punjab-Haryana, Enhance Network Capabilities

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Vodafone Idea COO Abhijit Kishore making a presentation in a press event in Chandigarh on July 4, 2024
Announces launch of L 900 band spectrum and voice over Wi-fi (VoWifi) technology for superior indoor coverage, better call quality and data experience
Is innovating for a complete digital experience via Vi App for utility payments, entertainment, games, cloud gaming and much more

Despite having lost customers in the hordes to its rivals Airtel and Jio, due to lack of adequate investment in infrastructure over the past few years, the third largest private telecom operator in the country Vodafone Idea (Vi) still commands a sizable 1.3 crore customers, and a 22-23% market share, in Punjab and Haryana.

Now the Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone Group partnership company, is poised to infuse massive network investments, in the range of Rs 50,000-Rs 55,000 crore (it successfully raised Rs 18,000 crore in an FPO recently), in the next three years across the country in an aggressive move to drive superior coverage and capacity expansion in 4G, and rollout 5G technologies, thereby majorly rebuilding on its subscriber base and drive revenues.

A substantial portion of these investments are going to be made in Punjab and Haryana, a very important market for the company, Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone Idea Abhijit Kishore revealed in a press event here on Thursday.

Creating differentiators

Apart from achieving superior coverage and capacity expansion to meet the exploding demand for data from retail and enterprise customers in 4G and rolling out 5G technologies (within next six months), Vi is laying increasing emphasis on creating differentiators for an enhanced customer experience.

Under a strategy to compel customer engagements, Vi is taking market initiatives to drive ARPU (average revenue per unit) improvement and customer retention. Among these initiatives is to drive extraction in new 4G geographies (Kishore informed that contrary to popular belief, an estimated 30-35% customers are still on 2G network), scale up share of primary SIM by delivering best in class experience and offering differentiated propositions, and lead digitalisation of customer service and distribution, supporting upsell and better retention.

Launching L 900 band spectrum

While asserting that Vi already has a strong network of 12,000 towers and Vi touchpoints, including 350 Vi stores, mini stores and shops, besides 800+ distributors and 56,000+ recharge outlets, in Punjab and Haryana and has achieved 97.7% population coverage, Kishore announced that it will be soon launching the L 900 band spectrum and voice over Wi-fi (VoWifi) technology in Punjab for superior indoor coverage, better call quality and data experience.

Unlimited data at night

Among the differentiators, Kishore claimed that Vi is the only telco to offer a daily data plan called ‘Vi Hero Unlimited’ which apart from giving unlimited calling, enables a customer to access unlimited data from midnight to 6 a.m. during which one can surf, stream, binge and repeat without any constraints. It also offers free subscription to OTT content and daily data rollover to weekends.

Additionally, ‘Choose Your benefits’ has been introduced for post-paid subscribers wherein customers get an added option of choosing benefits as per their requirements.

A ‘One of a kind’ initiative introduced recently is the ‘Vi Guarantee’ under which consumers, with a 5G or a new 4G handset, and subscribed to a daily data unlimited pack of Rs 299 or above, get 130 GB extra data free every year @ 10 GB every 28 days for 13 consecutive recharge cycles.

Cloud gaming

Kishore emphasised that Vi is among the first players to offer the unmatched experience of cloud gaming, which does not require expensive hardware like computers and consoles, and can be enjoyed remotely on pretty much any compatible device like a TV, tablet, etc. Cloud gaming also lets you save your progress midgame, then resume later with another device, no matter where you are, provided you have a subscription and an internet connection.

To drive affinity among youth and win market share, there is Vi Movies &TV – one app which gives you access to 130 OTTs & 400 TV channels.

All-encompassing Vi app

Sharing details of the initiatives taken by Vi over the past year or so in enhancing the consumers’ digital experience, Kishore said the Vi App offers entertainment like other OTT apps, with over 400 live TV channels and Video on Demand (VoD) content.

It also offers games like Free Fire and Call of Duty, and supports utility bill payments, enabling users to pay electricity, water, LPG bills, recharge FastTag, renew DTH or broadband subscriptions, and pay insurance premiums or loan EMIs.

Through Vi App, user can raise service request anytime anywhere, do easy recharge, pay bill etc., he added.

He also informed that given the popularity and growth potential of OTT services, Vi is expanding its bundling plans. Currently, Vi offers OTT bundles with Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, SonyLiv, and SunNxt. More partnerships are coming soon.

Big player worldwide in IoT

The company, being among the big players worldwide in IoT (internet of things), enterprise customers also offer it big business opportunities in cloud facilities apart from mobility offerings. Kishore said 25 crore electricity meters across the country are being converted into smart meters, out of which 2-2.5 crore have already been converted, which would also require IoT, which will also be majorly deployed with the increasing popularity of connected cars, he added.

Recent tariff hikes

The Vi COO claimed that in the recent industrywide tariff hikes, the company had taken care not to pinch the pockets of the lower strata of the society too much. The enhancements in the cheapest packs/plans have generally been in the range of 10-11% while these have been much stiffer in case of higher value packs/plans.

So, the cheapest unlimited voice plan which cost Rs 179, and offers 28 days validity and 2GB of mobile data, now costs Rs 199

Similarly, the cheapest daily data plan of Rs 269 with 28 days validity and 1GB data per day has been increased to Rs 299

However, the daily data plan of Rs 479 with 56 days validity and 1.5 GB data per day now costs Rs 579.

Nitin Kapur Installed President of Rotary Club Chandigarh Midtown For 2024-25

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Secretary Pradeep Sisodia too takes charge, along with the Board of Governors

Rotarian Nitin Kapur on Wednesday took over as the 48th President of Rotary Club Chandigarh Midtown for the year 2024-25 in a largely attended and impressive installation ceremony at the CII Northern India headquarters in Sector 31 Chandigarh.

He was adorned with the ceremonial Rotary collar by outgoing president Jeeten Bhambri in the presence of past Rotary Governor of District 3080 Shaju Peter and District Governor Nominate Rita Kalra.

Pradeep Sisodia was sworn-in as Secretary, taking over the reins from Anup Sharma, along with the Board of Governors.

Nitin Kapur, a well-known investment consultant, while assuming the responsibility spelled out his vision for the club, the cornerstone of which will be a 5-B programme:

  • Basta – Education, Adult Literacy and Scholarships
  • Batua – Vocational Centres and Microloans
  • Boot – School Shoes and Artificial Limbs
  • Bachaav – Medical Camps, Blood Donation Camps, Traffic Awareness
  • Basera – Schools, Asra Sarais
The Board of Governors of Rotary Club Chandigarh Midtown for the year 2024-25

Earlier outlining the achievements of the club under his stewardship, outgoing club president Jeeten Bhambri informed the gathering that the club won 23 awards, including the Best of Best Club of District 3080 and the Best President in the district.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest for the occasion, Shaju Peter, a past president of the club and past district governor of district 3080, informed that this would be the last year of presidential teams throughout the Rotary International worldwide network. Though there will be a team to assist the club president but he will have no role to play whatsoever in choosing his team, which will in future be chosen by a nominated committee.

Modern Day Nalanda University: Will It Rekindle India’s Golden Era As ‘Vishva Guru’!

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A truly international university of knowledge and learning, supported by member states of East Asia Summit, and with collaborative research linkages with reputed global universities & institutions

For some 700 years, between the 5th and 12th centuries, it remained a premium centre for imparting scholarly knowledge and learning to the ancient world, attracting students and renowned teachers from across Eastern and Central Asia, including the famous pilgrim-monk Hsuan Tsang from China in the 7th century.

Widely believed to be the world’s first residential university, Nalanda, in the erstwhile kingdom of Magadha (modern day Bihar), had a sprawling campus scattered over several villages.

Though devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained students in a variety of scholarly pursuit, including theology (study of religion and religious beliefs), philosophy, logic, literature, linguistics, fine arts, science, astronomy, mathematics, economics, architecture, medicine, politics, the art of war, etc. The world’s first encyclopaedias in these subjects were said to have been created here.

At its peak, the residential university, known to stock some 9 million hand-written palm-leaf manuscripts in its imposing nine-storey library, attracted over 10,000 students and 2,000 scholarly faculty from across Eastern and Central Asia.

It was largely on the strength of such centres of knowledge and learning that ‘Bharatvarsha’, as India was known in ancient times, could stamp its authority as the ‘Vishva Guru’ or the global teacher.

It existed from 427 CE till about 1197, when the university, already in decline on account of various reasons, primary among them being lack of patronage by successive royalties, was completely gutted by a marauding Turkish invader called Bakhtiyar Khilji.

Close to its archaeological remains, declared USESCO World Heritage Site, has come up a resurrected modern day Nalanda University with the support and voluntary contributions of nearly a score of countries from the Indo-Pacific, and beyond, including host state India, Japan, South Korea, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, United States, etc, who as members states of the East Asia Summit signed an inter-governmental agreement in support of the establishment of the university .

The sprawling 455 acres net-zero new campus (among the world’s first campuses to acquire this status), bounded by 8.3 kms wall, with 100 acres of water bodies, was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently in the presence of ambassadors of these countries to India and the international students and faculty.

While upholding the philosophy, principles and some of the design elements of the ancient university, and reviving and revitalising the scholarship in academic disciplines, the new age international university also seeks to achieve global excellence in education and research in modern day disciplines.

Various schools & programmes

The university, which enrolled its first batch of students in 2014 from a temporary campus, is currently offering programmes in the School of Historical Studies, the School of Ecology and Environment Studies, the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, the School of Languages and Literature/Humanities, and the School of Management Studies.

The programmes offered include Global PhD programme, MA in Historical Studies, MSc in Ecology and Environment Studies, MA in Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, MA in Hindu Studies, MA in World Literature, MA in International Relations and Peace Studies, MA in Archaeology and MBA in Sustainable Development and Management (MBA).

The university is also offering various short-term diploma and certificate programmes in Pali, Sanskrit, English, Korean, Yoga, Jain Studies, Greek Language and Heritage, and Persian Language and Heritage, etc.

Revival to start golden era for India: PM

Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister Modi while emphasising that Nalanda is a symbol of Indian’s academic heritage and vibrant cultural exchange, expressed confidence that its revival is going to start another golden age for India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the gathering at the inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University

Noting that Nalanda is not just a renaissance of India’s heritage, but the heritage of many other countries of the world, and Asia is linked to it, he reiterated his mission to once again make India the most prominent centre of education and knowledge for the world.

All programmes at the university emphasise collaborative research with students and faculty from affiliated universities and institutions, study abroad experience, and foreign language training. Students are expected to pursue interdisciplinary research, choose courses relevant to their research interests in other disciplines/Schools to enhance their research skills.

Collaborative research linkages

The international university, with a growing population of select students from across the world, especially Nalanda’s partner countries, and a first-rate faculty known for its scholarship,  has also signed memoranda of understanding for collaborative research with other international universities like University of Ostrava (Czech Republic); University of Jambi (Indonesia); Dongguk University (South Korea); Otani University, Kyoto (Japan); Lumbini University (Nepal), Bronx Community College, City University of New York (USA); Kanazawa University (Japan); Universitas Sebelas Maret (Indonesia); and Deakin University (Australia).

It has also established formal linkages for research activities with Indian and foreign institutions, including Indian Council of Cultural Research; Bay of Bengal Programme-Inter Governmental Organization (India), Indian Council of World Affairs; Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar; Bihar Heritage Development Society (India); CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (India); CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (India); and The Academy of Korean Studies (South Korea).

Nodal institution for AINU network

Besides, Nalanda University has also been designated as the nodal institution in the ASEAN-India Network of Universities (AINU), envisioned as the knowledge ecosystem forged through the linkages among the premier institutions and universities in India and ASEAN countries. The establishment of AINU was announced in January 2018 by Prime Minister Modi at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, and it was launched in August 2022 at the ASEAN Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The network offers opportunities for knowledge sharing, including exchange of skills, competence, best practices and knowhow. The collaboration is expected to ensure capacity building and creation of regional thought leaders from the Asia-Pacific in the emerging multi-polar world through joint projects in faculty exchanges, doctoral student exchange and joint PhD research supervision or joint research.

The major fields AINU is expected to explore are Engineering, Science and Technology, Policy and Law-making, Trade and Investments, Peace and Security, Sustainable Development, Humanities, Religion, Cultural Intersections and Blue Economy.

Common Archival Resource Centre

Nalanda University houses a Common Archival Resource Centre, envisaged in the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) summit in 2015, which is a digital archive aimed at preserving and sharing Asia-related information and resources that highlight its history, material culture, trade networks, heritage, religious ideas and practices, oral and performative traditions, civilization, and Asian networks of interaction.

The new campus of Nalanda University, built at a cost of Rs 1700 crore, has two academic blocks with 40 classrooms. The campus accommodates seating for 1900 students. The university also features two auditoriums. Additionally, an International Centre and an amphitheatre have been constructed, with a capacity to seat 2000 people. Furthermore, there are faculty clubs and a sports complex for the students.

The University Library

The Central Library’s six-storeyed Stupa shaped building, with a built-up area of 17,545 square meters, provides state-of-the-art facilities, houses contemplative spaces for studying, presentation and seminar rooms with access to video conferencing and podcasting facilities, art galleries, archival section and music room, cafés, student and faculty lounges, etc. Having an outer radius of 81 meters at base and the crowning height of 26 meters, the central library structure is probably the biggest stupa-shaped building in the world.

Open-air roundel theatres

The several open-air roundel theatres are used as pleasant spaces for lectures, discussions, enacting or demonstration. These environment-friendly open-to-sky spaces are purposeful, and often desirable for breaking the monotony and formalism of the regular classrooms and conducting engaging class-talks.

Net-zero features

The campus combines state-of-the-art technologies with planning principles of the ancient Nalanda to create a carbon-neutral and zero-waste campus. Some of the most important and indigenous aspects and palette of concepts for passive methods operating at different scales are 6.5 MW Solar PV captive power plant, 1.2 MW Biogas plant, Desiccant Evaporative (DEVAP) technology for cooling/heating of the buildings and Solar integrated thermal storage technology for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.

Apart from this, the new campus features the use of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) instead of kiln burnt clay bricks, thick cavity walls to increase thermal resistance, Decentralized Water Treatment (DeWAT) systems, cooling and cleaning of the air through use of selected native plants, climate appropriate landscape design to reduce potable water demand, and application of Building Management System, etc.

40 hectares of Waterbodies

The 455-acre eco-friendly, green, carbon neutral, sustainable campus, providing modern and state-of-the-art amenities and comforts, is commensurate with its international stature. The master plan and structural architecture follow the pathways of sustainability and emphasize upon environmental sensitivity at all levels. Net-zero energy, net-zero emission, net-zero water and net-zero waste have been achieved and sustained.

Separately, with a view to conserving the topsoil for horticulture, several ponds have been excavated on the campus to create 100 acres of water bodies, which were filled with rainwater through an indigenous water management system of ‘ahar-pyne’ network.

Location: The new campus at Rajgir, in Nalanda district, is about 90 kilometres from Bihar’s state capital Patna and approximately 12 kilometres south of Bihar Sharif.

Nalanda University Chancellor: Prof. Arvind Panagariya, well known professor of economics, Chairman of the 16th Finance Commission, first Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog

https://nalandauniv.edu.in/

https://nalandauniv.edu.in/admissions/

Archaeological remains of the ancient Nalanda, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Farmers’ Agitation: All Attention On PM’s Kisan Sammelan In Varanasi On June 18

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Let the Govt return to the table with clean hands and open mind, and the farmers reciprocate in the same spirit

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government has literally been on a collision course with the agitating farmers in several parts of the country, especially the more belligerent among them from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, demanding among other things legal guarantees for government procurement of crops at minimum support price (MSP).

Now, with a reduced mandate, for which the angry rural communities have apparently been partly responsible with their anger being encashed by the Opposition, what stand the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under his leadership takes would be closely watched.

Therefore, all attention is focussed on the Prime Minister’s address at the much-hyped ‘kisan sammelan’ in Varanasi on June 18, his first big public rally after being elected for a third consecutive term as member of Parliament from the constituency and getting a record- equalling third consecutive term as Prime Minister after Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1962.

How massively the sammelan has been planned in dual mode can be judged from the fact that nearly two crore farmers from across states are expected to join physically and virtually, Invitations had also been extended to chief ministers of all states.

According to newly appointed Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister and former four-time Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, several Union ministers have been tasked to interact with cultivators and officials simultaneously by visiting 50 chosen Krishi Vigyan Kendras across the country. Nearly 100,000 primary agricultural cooperatives have been approached to join the event virtually.

Early indicators have been emanating from the newly formed NDA government about its keenness to tackle the farmers’ agitation on priority considering that its continuation could seriously dent the NDA’s prospects in the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.

The agitation has serious implications for the economy too. It has the potential to severely retard the government’s push for accelerated growth to achieve the targets of India emerging as the third largest economy in the next couple of years and ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047.

According to reports, the first file signed by Modi after being sworn-in on June 9 was for approving the 17th tranche of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM KISAN), under which Rs 2,000 cash grant is being given to more than nine crore farmers every four months.

Secondly, in Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Modi has picked one of the most experienced BJP leaders to entrust the farm and farmers’ welfare portfolio.

On June 18, Modi will formally set the ball rolling for the transfer of Rs 20,000 crore directly to the bank accounts of 9.3 crore farmers under the PM KISAN scheme.

Krishi Sakhis

He will also induct 30,000 trained women ‘Krishi Sakis’ or farm counsellors belonging to self-help groups from 12 states by handing over certificates to them. These women have been trained in farm practices by the Rural Development Ministry under a memorandum of understanding inked with the Agriculture Ministry. These ‘Krishi Sakhis’ can expect to earn an additional income of Rs 60,000- Rs 80,000 a year. This scheme is another dimension of the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme for rural women entrepreneurs.

The scheme has initially been started in 12 states – Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya.

100-day agenda

The ministry is also expected to formally release its 100-day agenda soon which is expected to make boosting output of pulses and edible oils, two items India still relies on imports to meet domestic demand, central to its future strategy to boost diversification of crops and increase farmers’ incomes.

However, given the mistrust, the negotiations between the representatives of umbrella bodies of the agitating farmers and farm labourers and the government, as and when these happen, will not be easy and cannot be expected to be wrapped up in a hurry.

The most ticklish issue of course is the farmers’ demand for legal guarantees for government to procure crops at MSP, which the government has clearly shown its unwillingness to fulfil despite having promised to do so, apart from repealing the three controversial farm laws, as part of a deal to lift the farmers’ nearly two-year siege of the National capital in 2020-21.

Farmers see in this unwillingness the Modi government’s hidden agenda of boosting the corporate sector’s involvement in agriculture, which they fear will, in the long run, destroy the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers and farm labourers.

Economists are also not exactly in favour of the government granting legal safeguards for procuring crops at MSP, as recommended by the MS Swaminathan commission, arguing that it does not make any economic sense and will not help the farm sector and the farmers grow. They contend that Swaminathan was a great farm scientist but not an economist to understand the intricacies of the impact that the implementation of his recommendations will have on the economy as a whole and the farmers in particular in the long run.

Alternative mechanism to MSP

A proposed alternative mechanism, Deficiency Price Payments (DPP), under which there is no physical procurement of crops at MSP by the government, but it intervenes to compensate the farmers for the difference between the MSPs for select crops and their market price if it rules at lower levels, is also not finding favour with the agitating farmers, especially in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Whether under popular pressure, or suspected partisan considerations, they are not prone to reasoning and hell bent on the easy option of procurement of crops by the government at MSP.

In latest negotiations held during the farmers’ agitation 2.0 launched ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the government team, headed by then Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, expressed its willingness to offer MSP for five years on pulses, maize and cotton to farmers who shift from the wheat-paddy cycle to cultivating these three crops as part of the government’s push for much needed diversification of crops. The offer was summarily rejected by the umbrella body of the agitating farmers.

The farmers’ agitation 2.0 had triggered pitched battles between the farmers, determined to march to the National capital on tractors, tractor trolleys etc, and an equally determined Haryana Police, which used all lethal means at its disposal at several places to stop them from crossing the Punjab-Haryana border for onward passage to their destination.

The police were using disproportionate force apparently having been given a free hand by the then Manohar Lal led BJP government, which itself was clearly acting at the behest of the BJP government at the Centre.

In retaliation, the angry farmers, frustrated the BJP candidates and leaders in their attempts to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in the rural areas in many parts of the country, especially Punjab and Haryana, by chasing them away despite heavy security provided to them.

Open-minded approach to talks

For negotiations to be meaningful and conclusive, the government needs to invite the farmers back to the table with clean hands and an open mind, and the farmers to respond in the same spirit.

Eventually, under the given circumstances, a common ground can be reached only through mutual accommodation, dovetailing the farmers’ interests (by satisfactorily addressing their concerns) into the country’s short and long-term interests.

Agriculture and allied sector is poised to grow and diversify at a much faster rate worldwide to meet the ever-growing requirement for safe and affordable food products of a rapidly growing population, including the demand for a wide variety of high value products driven largely by the young population.

Also, agriculture and allied has been identified as a key sector, along with manufacturing, services and others, to drive the country on a high growth path in line with its targets of becoming the third largest economy in the short-term and a developed nation by 2047.

Didn’t we transition from bullock-driven ploughs to tractors, combines, tillers, seeders and other modern farm implements! Now we need to look beyond the no-longer-sustainable wheat-paddy cycle towards newer horizons, keeping pace with the food demands of modern times and in the process improving the prospects for better farm incomes.

After all, change is the only constant, the earlier we accept it, the better!