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Opinion

Bihar: A referendum on Nitish Kumar
Opinion

Bihar: A referendum on Nitish Kumar

The 2020 assembly election in Bihar has taken an interesting turn. The competition between top national and regional parties, the rift within existing alliances, the discourse around jobs, and most importantly, the focus on Nitish Kumar’s record have made the polls complex . Indeed, it is difficult to predict which key electoral issue is going to influence voters most deeply. After election dates were announced, public discourse was centered mainly around creating a formidable alliance of parties, which would bring together caste-based votebanks. But, as polling day approaches, there are still cracks in both the main coalitions in the state. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) was not able retain three potential partners within its formation...
Singaporeans stuck on island seek private jets, daycations
Opinion

Singaporeans stuck on island seek private jets, daycations

Whether it’s chartering a private jet for a flight to nowhere or hiring a luxury yacht, some in Singapore are going to extraordinary lengths to cure the cabin fever that’s set in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.For many -- expats and locals alike -- the beauty of the city-state, outside of its year-round balmy weather and efficiency, has always been its hyper connectivity. But travel curbs aimed at shutting out the virus mean leaving Singapore is basically off the table, a challenge for those of the financial hub’s 5.7 million residents used to popping to a Malaysian resort for the weekend, or scooting over to Bali.Sergey Tkachev has taken to the sea. The Russian businessman chartered a yacht from White Label Charters around Singapore’s southern islands, a collecti...
Indian democracy is being hollowed out
Opinion

Indian democracy is being hollowed out

The world’s largest democracy is at the crossroads. That the economy is in deep crisis is clear. But what is less appreciated is that all the pillars of a democratic system of governance are under assault. The fundamental right to freedom of expression has been systematically suspended through suppression and intimidation. Dissent is deliberately stifled as “terrorism” or branded as an “anti-national activity”. Many institutions that are meant to uphold the rights of citizens and society at large have been co-opted or subverted. The Indian State now diverts attention from real problems of the people by pronouncing bogus threats to “national security” everywhere. Of course, some of these threats are real and have to be dealt with uncompromisingly but the Narendra Modi gover...
How personal wealth shapes political lives | Opinion
Opinion

How personal wealth shapes political lives | Opinion

British Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson has said that he plans to resign from his post. The reason for this is not that he is on a politically slippery slope but that he cannot survive on the salary and allowances he gets as PM. He feels that he can earn much more through lectures and writing.Just for the record, Johnson earns £150,402 in salary and perks, or close to ₹1.45 crore a year. According to Johnson, he is financially strapped since he has six children. According to the divorce agreement with ex-wife Marina Wheeler, with whom he has four children, he has to pay a hefty alimony. His salary, as it is now, is not enough to cover the education needs of all his children. Before becoming leader of the Conservative Party, he earned £275,000 a year from The Telegraph. ...
Delhi airport to soon start Covid-19 testing for international departures
Opinion

Delhi airport to soon start Covid-19 testing for international departures

International passengers taking their flights from the Delhi airport will soon be able to get themselves tested for Covid-19 right before their departure, Genestrings Diagnostic Centre which operates the testing lab at the airport said on Saturday.The Covid-19 testing facility, which started operating on September 12 at the Delhi airport, is available only for international arrivals currently.Earlier in the day, Genestrings issued a press release saying, “The (testing) facility has now been extended to air travellers leaving India for other countries.” However, the company later revised its press release, saying that the testing facility “will soon” be extended to air travellers departing from India.“Notably, international travel rules require passengers travelling from ...
Canary Islands welcomes tourists after being added to UK’s safe travel list despite surging Covid-19 cases in Spain
Opinion

Canary Islands welcomes tourists after being added to UK’s safe travel list despite surging Covid-19 cases in Spain

Jorge Marichal, a Spanish hotelier, is breathing a sigh of relief after the UK and Germany opened up travel corridors to the Canary Islands, throwing a lifeline to a sun-soaked archipelago heavily reliant on winter tourism.“The news is very positive, but we have to take things calmly,” said Marichal, who runs hotels and apartment complexes on the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera. “We hope all our customers will return and leave happy and healthy with a good sun tan.”The coronavirus pandemic has laid waste to a Spanish tourism industry that has seen foreign visitor numbers slump by almost three-quarters in the year through August. The UK and Germany easing travel to the Canary Islands gives the archipelago the chance to salvage some of its business supplying northern Europ...
Vistara opts for single-use earphones, beverages in disposables and touchless solutions amid Covid-19
Opinion

Vistara opts for single-use earphones, beverages in disposables and touchless solutions amid Covid-19

From giving beverages in single-use disposable cups to thoroughly cleaning cutlery, blankets and pillows, Vistara is taking adequate precautions to make flying completely safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesperson of the airline, in a statement, said Vistara will continue to use rotable trays, crockeries and cutleries which are thoroughly washed by automated machines and air-dried at high temperature. “These rotables are subsequently inspected by the QA (quality assurance) team of Vistara’s caterer,” the spokesperson asserted. “Beverages are permitted to be served only in single-use disposable units by authorities in keeping with the current situation,” he said. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronav...
Flying abroad? Know how you can get tested for Covid-19 at Delhi airport
Opinion

Flying abroad? Know how you can get tested for Covid-19 at Delhi airport

As the number of people taking international flights from Delhi is increasing, Delhi Airport has opened the testing facility on its premises for outgoing passengers as well. The facility has been limited to incoming passengers so far. All international passengers are required to have a Covid-19 negative report before flying. The report should not be older than 96 hours — the times varies according to the rules of the destination countries. Despite all these checks and balances being in place for international travellers, Indian airlines have been accused of carrying Covid-19 positive passengers. Dubai civil aviation authority has even asked Air India Express to reject Covid-19 report from four specific labs in India, as their negative reports proved to be false.In this bac...
Punta del Este: Uruguay, South America’s posh summer hotspot to stay closed on Covid-19
Opinion

Punta del Este: Uruguay, South America’s posh summer hotspot to stay closed on Covid-19

One of South America’s top summer destinations will remain shut to foreign tourists this summer. Uruguay, home to luxury beach resort Punta del Este, will keep international borders closed this summer, President Luis Lacalle Pou said late Thursday. The country, which boasts the lowest Covid infection and mortality rates in South America, will opt to protect its public health gains over the economy as Covid-19 rages in neighboring Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay has recorded just 2,701 virus cases and 53 deaths. “It’s the first time in history the country will have a summer season with its international borders closed,” Tourism Minister German Cardoso told reporters Friday. The government will announce incentives next week to foment domestic tourism, he said.The decision will...
Vande Bharat Mission: Air India to operate postponed Delhi flight to Wuhan on Oct 30
Opinion

Vande Bharat Mission: Air India to operate postponed Delhi flight to Wuhan on Oct 30

Air India will operate its flight to Wuhan on October 30, the first after the central Chinese city from where the coronavirus initially emerged in December was officially declared safe from the virus in June and all curbs were lifted. A Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flight would be operated from Delhi-Wuhan sector on October 30, the Indian Embassy here announced on Friday.This will be the sixth VBM flight by Air India to China to help Indians stranded in both the countries to travel back to their destinations.The Delhi-Wuhan flight was announced after the cancellation of October 23 flight between Delhi-Guangzhou. Those who are arriving from New Delhi has to undergo 14-day quarantine in the designated hotels. The Indian Embassy press release here said the upcoming VBM fligh...
Canada could lose out on half a million jobs in 2020 in the wake of travel curbs amid Covid-19 pandemic
Opinion

Canada could lose out on half a million jobs in 2020 in the wake of travel curbs amid Covid-19 pandemic

Limited travel to and throughout Canada is holding back the country’s economic recovery.Restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus are expected to cost the country between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs in 2020, according to a study released Friday by Statistics Canada. The reduction in travel will shave off as much as C$37.1 billion ($28.2 billion) or 1.7% from total economic output during the year, the agency says.The figures put a price tag on Covid-19 travel restrictions. Canada shut its borders to non-essential travel in March, and some provinces also restricted internal trips.Justin Trudeau’s government is facing pressure to ramp up relief efforts for hard-hit airlines and the tourism sector, but the prime minister indicated he will keep borders closed as long ...
Even with lowest Covid-19 infection, South America’s luxury beach resort to stay shut for foreigners this summer
Opinion

Even with lowest Covid-19 infection, South America’s luxury beach resort to stay shut for foreigners this summer

One of South America’s top summer destinations will remain closed to foreign tourists this summer.Uruguay, home to luxury beach resort Punta del Este, will keep international borders closed this summer, President Luis Lacalle Pou said late Thursday. The country, which boasts the lowest Covid infection and mortality rates in South America, will opt to protect its public health gains over the economy as Covid-19 rages in neighboring Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay has recorded just 2,701 virus cases and 53 deaths.“It’s the first time in history the country will have a summer season with its international borders closed,” Tourism Minister German Cardoso told reporters Friday.The government will announce incentives next week to foment domestic tourism, he said.The decision will ...
How to improve learning outcomes
Opinion

How to improve learning outcomes

The recent National Sample Survey Office (75th Round) data and the learning outcomes study of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (National Achievement Survey, 2017) show that India’s children are not learning at the primary stage, and as they move to higher levels, they are struggling to cope with the curriculum. This means that children who complete eight, 10 or 12 years of schooling are not equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills — be it formal skills (reading and writing), cognitive skills, technological skills or higher-order thinking skills.The National Achievement Survey (NAS) also reveals a decline in learning levels as children move up the ladder. This, among other reasons, could explain the high drop-out rate at the secondary level,...
Here’s why Bihar elections beckon UP leaders and parties
Opinion

Here’s why Bihar elections beckon UP leaders and parties

Ahead of the 2015 Bihar assembly polls, the Yadav chieftains -- Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav -- had assembled together a rickety grand alliance, which collapsed much before the elections were held. Its political tremors were felt in India’s northern belt. The two neighbouring states -- Bihar and Uttar Pradesh -- account for 120 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and their alliance could have provided a heavy-duty umbrella to their trusted constituencies of Muslims and Backwards, largely Yadavs, who were growing apprehensive of BJP’s growing strength under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The third regional satrap, BSP chief Mayawati, had not joined the grand alliance but she had kept her options open. She was desperate to expand Bahujan Samaj Party’s ba...
Beijing aims to humiliate New Delhi. Counter it
Opinion

Beijing aims to humiliate New Delhi. Counter it

China’s aggressions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh remind me of China’s way of dealing with India in the 1950s and 1960s. Behind the India-China bonhomie of those days, China quietly took possession of a large area in north-eastern Ladakh, and built a road across it to connect its two recently conquered alien territories, Xinjiang and Tibet. The area is an integral part of the territories of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Never before had China ruled that region; so it published new maps to justify its occupation of Aksai Chin. It was the first stab in its friend Jawaharlal Nehru’s back. In 1960, when the two countries were still talking peace Chairman Mao Zedong ordered his army to prepare for a major invasion of India. Which, in October 1962, aga...
Coronavirus pandemic: Germany warns against travel to ski regions in Austria, Switzerland, Italy
Opinion

Coronavirus pandemic: Germany warns against travel to ski regions in Austria, Switzerland, Italy

Germany has issued travel warnings for popular ski regions in Austria, Italy and Switzerland, scrambling to contain the spread of the coronavirus as new infection numbers rose above 10,000 a day for the first time. While infection rates in Germany are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating, with a daily rise of 11,287 cases bringing the total to 392,049. Germany’s death toll stands at 9,905. “The situation has become very serious overall,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, said.“We still have a chance to slow the spread of the pandemic,” he said. But he said people must stick to the rules and that Germany must prepare for an uncontrolled spread of the virus. On Wednesday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn be...
Coronavirus: France extends curfew as Covid-19 second wave surges in Europe
Opinion

Coronavirus: France extends curfew as Covid-19 second wave surges in Europe

France extended curfews to around two thirds of its population on Thursday and Belgium’s foreign minister was taken into intensive care with Covid-19, as the second wave of the pandemic surged across Europe. French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a curfew imposed last week on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments, confining 46 million out of the country’s 67 million population to their homes from 9 pm to 6 am.“A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious,” Castex said at a news conference. Shortly after the measures were announced, French health authorities reported a record 41,622 new confirmed cases, bringing the cumulative total to 999,043. According to a Reuters tally...
We should promote Indian cities: Filmmaker Kunal Kohli
Opinion

We should promote Indian cities: Filmmaker Kunal Kohli

The Covid-19 pandemic brought travel and film industry to a standstill. But with the ease of travel restrictions, many film shoots have resumed and filmmakers are opting for domestic locations across India to begin filming. While actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra recently shot in Manali, Himachal Pradesh for her upcoming film Hungama 2, actor Shahid Kapoor wrapped up his shoot for Jersey in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Actor Siddhant Chaturvedi gave glimpses of his shoot in Goa for his next untitled film, and actor Raveena Tandon too shared pictures from her web-series shoot in Dalhouise, Himachal Pradesh.  So, does filming at domestic destinations during such times also gives confidence to people to travel again and help in boosting tourism? Filmmaker Kunal Kohli recalls, “Earlier in...
Hometown tripping: The new travel trend
Opinion

Hometown tripping: The new travel trend

As tourism slowly comes back to life, the latest travel trend to gain popularity among millennials is hometown tripping. Young professionals who’re away from home are choosing to holiday in and around their hometowns for a safe travel experience and minimal contact.“I think a day trip or a quick weekend getaway with your close friends (maintaining all the safety protocols of course) to nearby places is actually a great idea. I have made a few trips and it makes me feel rejuvenated every single time,” says Sudatta Bhattacharjee, a social media content creator, currently in Kolkata, who recently visited Tajpur with friends.READ: Travel trends 2020: Edutainment, cultural travel to dominate next yearAgrees travel blogger Shubham Mansingka, who is holidaying at the moment at th...
In Bihar, the importance of being Nitish Kumar
Opinion

In Bihar, the importance of being Nitish Kumar

Bihar never fails to surprise. Given the intensity of anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar, his electoral fortune in the ensuing election should have nosedived. However, he remains the most preferred choice as the next chief minister (CM). This outlier phenomenon demands a focus into the prevailing political psychology of the voters in the state. Further, given the numerical preponderance of the backward castes in Bihar, a quick look into the internal dynamics within caste groups may also be relevant.Since the 1950s, Bihar witnessed two diametrically opposed strands of backward caste assertion, the feudal and the egalitarian. Feudal backwardism revealed the psychology of the dominant backward castes such as Yadavs, the majority of whom aspired to dislodge the deeply-entren...