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Opinion

Kolkata’s iconic Indian Coffee House reopens after 103 days after Covid-19 lockdown
Opinion

Kolkata’s iconic Indian Coffee House reopens after 103 days after Covid-19 lockdown

The iconic Indian Coffee House in Kolkata’s College Street area -- a favourite joint of poets, writers, painters and artists over the years -- reopened on Thursday, 103 days after downing its shutters due to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.As the gates of the heritage eatery opened at 11 am, around 25 customers, most of them regulars at the eatery, trooped in. To ensure social distancing, arrangements were made for fewer than normal customers on the two floors of the eatery, a spokesman of Indian Coffee House said.“We have disinfected the entire premises and made wearing masks mandatory for both the patrons and staff,” the spokesman said.The authorities reopened the joint after holding talks with the local police station and health department over COVID-19 safety proto...
How US airlines are trying to stop Covid-19 transmission on flights
Opinion

How US airlines are trying to stop Covid-19 transmission on flights

As some Americans prepare to travel for the July 4 holiday weekend, and airlines slowly ramp up service, the U.S. government has not changed rules for air travel during the pandemic, leaving airlines to implement their own measures.Most are taking what they call “a layered-approach.”That is the trick, according to infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center: “To implement a series of measures that work together to reduce risk. You can’t rely solely on any one of them because there is no magic bullet that takes care of everything.”ALSO READ: Covid-19 Travel GuidelinesIs he personally ready to fly? Not yet: people should still be sheltering in place if they can and avoid unnecessary travel, he said.“By its very nature when ...
A blueprint to protect labour rights without constraining capital | Opinion
Opinion

A blueprint to protect labour rights without constraining capital | Opinion

Two defining moments in India’s long and harsh lockdown bring out the sharp contradictions in labour-capital relations in the economy. Every day of the lockdown brought with it images of workers, left with no incomes and social security, making their way home, hungry and tired, laying bare the realities of India’s fragile labour market. In sharp contrast to the tragedy unfolding on our highways, several state governments set about “reforming” labour laws by quite literally doing away with crucial protections in a bid to make themselves more attractive to business and revive their economies.These contradictory responses to the lockdown are a product of well-known truths about India’s labour market and unconscionable policy failure. More than 90% of India’s workforce is info...
Arriving at a new normal in India-China relations | Opinion
Opinion

Arriving at a new normal in India-China relations | Opinion

The ongoing stand-off between the Indian and Chinese forces in eastern Ladakh is a fork in the road, fundamentally reshaping the direction of the bilateral relationship. Over the last few years, the architects of the gradual thaw and developing partnership between the two sides, which began in 1988, had been warning about the withering of old mechanisms that had kept the peace on the disputed boundary.Despite the pageantry of informal summitry, the strategic guidance provided by the leaders to their respective militaries has clearly not succeeded in stemming incidents. In November 2019, the minister of state for defence, Shripad Naik, told Parliament that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had transgressed into Indian territory 1,025 times between 2016 and 2018. Roughly a ...
PM Modi has made his choice | HT Editorial
Opinion

PM Modi has made his choice | HT Editorial

On Friday morning, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi shaped India’s future foreign policy and security doctrine for years to come. First, by making an unscheduled, surprise visit to Ladakh at a time when the border stand-off with China, because of Chinese aggression, continues, he sent out a symbolic and political message, both within and outside the country, that India will stand up to defend its territorial integrity, in all circumstances.But, more importantly, while speaking to soldiers in the frontlines, PM Modi sent out a clear and unambiguous substantive message to China that India, and the rest of the world, will challenge its “expansionism”. By suggesting that either expansionists lose or are forced to mend their ways, the PM was telling China that the era of patie...
Global tourism stands to lose up to $3.3 trillion from Covid-19: UN
Opinion

Global tourism stands to lose up to $3.3 trillion from Covid-19: UN

Global tourism revenues are expected to fall by up to $3.3 trillion due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the United States standing to lose the most, according to a U.N. study published on Wednesday.The ‘COVID-19 and Tourism’ report released by The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is based on three scenarios for the industry, with lockdown measures lasting 4 months, 8 months and 12 months.In those scenarios, revenues would fall $1.17 trillion, $2.22 trillion and $3.3 trillion respectively or between 1.5-4.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).The report did not say which scenario was most likely, although an UNCTAD official said the middle scenario “could be a realistic one”.“International tourism has been almost totally suspended, ...
Covid-19: Dining at London’s Wolseley and Dishoom may be easier than ever
Opinion

Covid-19: Dining at London’s Wolseley and Dishoom may be easier than ever

It used to regularly take an hour to get into Dishoom in London. Business was so brisk that the small chain of Indian restaurants didn’t need to take bookings for dinner. When it reopens this month, customers will be able to reserve a table—should they decide to go.Dishoom has been preparing for life after lockdown, though in a world with social distancing to avoid further outbreaks of Covid-19. At eateries across the country, managers must control numbers, space out diners and step up hygiene. Dishoom co-founder Shamil Thakrar said he’s nervous.“We have done an enormous amount of work, and we are good to go, but in terms of whether people will show up, we have to see,” said Thakrar, who will open Dishoom branches in stages starting on July 10 and trial the reservation sys...
Covid-19: Closing bars to stop coronavirus spread is backed by science
Opinion

Covid-19: Closing bars to stop coronavirus spread is backed by science

Authorities are closing honky tonks, bars and other drinking establishments in some parts of the U.S. to stem the surge of COVID-19 infections — a move backed by sound science about risk factors that go beyond wearing or not wearing masks.In the words of one study, it comes down to the danger of “heavy breathing in close proximity.”Crowded indoor spaces filled with people yelling, leaning close to hear one another and touching the same sticky surfaces are “the opposite of social distancing,” said Dr. David Hamer of the Boston University School of Medicine.FILE - In this Thursday, June 18, 2020, file photo, patrons fill the Crow Bar in Sioux Falls, S.D. ( AP ) “Can you do social distancing at a bar? Can you wear a mask while drinking?” Hamer ...
Mickey Mouse fans ‘over the moon’ as Tokyo Disney reopens post Covid-19 lockdown
Opinion

Mickey Mouse fans ‘over the moon’ as Tokyo Disney reopens post Covid-19 lockdown

Tokyo Disney Resort welcomed visitors on Wednesday for the first time in four months after being closed due to the coronavirus, with fans practicing social distance as they returned to see Mickey Mouse and other beloved characters.Visitors in face masks queuing on floor marks clapped as the gates of the Magic Kingdom reopened, and were encouraged to clean hands, pay without cash and avoid screaming while enjoying one of Japan’s largest theme parks.The resort will operate at a 50% capacity for the foreseeable future, while parades and shows remain suspended. But the new norm did not dampen the enthusiasm of Disney lovers like university student Momoka Mitsui.“I’m over the moon just to be able to get inside Disneyland,” said the 18-year old who visited the park with a friend...
Respect women’s autonomy
Opinion

Respect women’s autonomy

The Gauhati high court’s ruling, granting a man a divorce on the grounds that his wife refused to wear a shaka (conch shell bangle) and sindoor as per Hindu custom amounted to her refusal to accept the marriage, is a huge step backwards for women’s rights.By wearing these accoutrements of matrimony, a woman is expected to show her devotion to her husband while nothing of this sort is expected from the man. In fact, the sindoor takes on a significant role in a marriage that neither a single woman nor a widow can wear it. It is seen as a mark of respectability.In the Gauhati case, the court went further and ruled that the woman in question was guilty of cruelty under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, as she did not want to live with her in-...
Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia
Opinion

Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia

Turkey’s top court will deliver a critical verdict Thursday on whether Istanbul’s emblematic landmark and former church Hagia Sophia can be redesignated as a mosque, a ruling which could inflame tensions with the West.The sixth-century edifice -- a magnet for tourists worldwide with its stunning architecture -- has been a museum since 1935, open to believers of all faiths. Despite occasional protests by Islamic groups, often shouting, “Let the chains break and open Hagia Sophia” for Muslim prayers outside the UNESCO world heritage site, authorities have so far kept the building a museum.Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan prays during the opening ceremony of the Yeditepe Biennial at the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum in Istanbul recently. ( via REUTERS ...
Covid-19: How tech can ensure equity in education
Opinion

Covid-19: How tech can ensure equity in education

Every day at 9 am, my daughter sits in front of a laptop in her school uniform and attends classes over Zoom. Even her extracurricular activities, such as music competitions and debates, are organised over the video-conferencing app. But for sports and in-person interactions, there is little she misses out on. Her coaching institution, too, has moved to an online platform.However, not everyone is so lucky. Not far from my house, children in ragged clothes wander aimlessly, often crowding around a new customer, hoping for a few coins. The municipal schools are closed, and hence there is little to engage their attention. Between the two extremes of the elite private and government schools lie many low-cost private and public schools which suffer from varying level of defici...
The great Indian strategic debate
Opinion

The great Indian strategic debate

For over two decades, ever since the process of rapprochement began between India and the United States (US) after the 1998 nuclear tests, there have been two clear views within the Indian polity and strategic community. One suggested closer ties between India and the US. Advocates of this view pointed to US power; the advantages that India could extract for its economic development; the convergence in democratic values; and the fact that the US can act as an insurance policy in the face of a rising China. The other school of thought pointed to the US track record of undermining Indian interests and its close ties with the Pakistan military; and argued that proximity will undermine India’s “strategic autonomy”, and deepen New Delhi’s disputes with Beijing.All governments h...
Make jobs the centre of political discourse
Opinion

Make jobs the centre of political discourse

While extending the provision of free ration to 800 million citizens — a move that this newspaper has welcomed — Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the festival season, and mentioned Chhath, a key festival of Bihar. The fact that elections are due in Bihar at the end of the year, and the scheme is getting extended till the end of November, prompted many to suggest that political motivations drove the decision. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, too, said that her government will provide free ration till June, 2021. It is not a coincidence that elections are due in West Bengal next year. In democracies, the poor and marginalised have one key leverage — the power of the vote. This forces governing elites to come up with welfare schemes to address the distress ...
Coronavirus pandemic: Thai tourist arrivals to plunge 80% this year
Opinion

Coronavirus pandemic: Thai tourist arrivals to plunge 80% this year

Thailand is expected to see at most 8 million foreign tourists this year, down 80% from a year earlier, as the coronavirus pandemic curbs global travel, a tourism body said on Tuesday. The sector is expected to recover in 2021, Chairat Triratanajaraspon, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, an industry group, told reporters.Last year, Thailand attracted a record 39.8 million foreign tourists, whose spending accounted for about 11% of Thai GDP. Earlier this week, Bangkok lifted the ban on international flights, but only for passengers that meet certain requirements.FILE PHOTO: Empty chairs are seen on a beach which is usually full of tourists, amid fear of coronavirus in Phuket, Thailand March 11, 2020. ( REUTERS ) The tourism counci...
No US tourists: Here’s who can travel to Europe from Wednesday
Opinion

No US tourists: Here’s who can travel to Europe from Wednesday

The European Union plans to open its borders to non-essential travellers such as tourists and most business people from a limited number of countries outside the bloc from July 1. The 27 EU governments agreed on an initial “safe list” of 14 countries, which excludes the United States, Brazil, Russia and Turkey. WHO IS ON THE LIST, AND WHY?Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay are on the list. China will be included if it lets in EU visitors because reciprocity is a condition.The EU considers those countries to have similar or better control of the COVID-19 pandemic as the bloc itself, based on the number of cases per 100,000 people in the previous two weeks. The EU average is ar...
Want to see London the socially distant way? Try Kayaking the canals
Opinion

Want to see London the socially distant way? Try Kayaking the canals

It was around week five of lockdown, and I was perched on our London apartment’s canal-side balcony as a youngish couple, sun-kissed and laughing, floated past in what looked like an inflatable dinghy.I pleaded with my wife.All right, she said.A few weeks and some $140 later, we were off in our very own two-person inflatable kayak, heading south on the River Lea toward the Thames. We had beer, crackers, and no real experience of paddling.Our plan was to follow the river south from our neighbourhood, Tottenham Hale (two stops from the northern end of the Victoria underground line) down to Hackney Wick, aka the heart of East London cool, a distance of some four miles. It was a warm, cloudy morning; after a momentary spell of clashing oars—and subsequently clashing opinions—w...
On tech, India was naive. It has finally woken up | Opinion
Opinion

On tech, India was naive. It has finally woken up | Opinion

The Chinese government banned Facebook in 2009. And even Mark Zuckerberg — despite having a wife of Chinese origin; learning Mandarin; and doing public relations stunts such as jogging in the smog-filled streets of Beijing to say how much he loved China — was not able to have it change its policy. Zuckerberg even went to the extent of creating new tools to censor and suppress content — to please the communists.But the Chinese were smarter than he was. They saw no advantages in letting a foreign company dominate their technology industry. China also blocked Google, Twitter, and Netflix, and tripped up companies such as Uber. Chinese technology companies are now among the most valuable few in the world. Facebook’s Chinese competitor, Tencent, eclipsed it in market capitali...
Resisting Chinese encroachment | Opinion
Opinion

Resisting Chinese encroachment | Opinion

On June 29, the minister for electronics and information technology and law and justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, tweeted that “For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the government has banned 59 mobile apps.” After the usual partisan bluster surrounding this move subsides, India must operationalise and strengthen this momentous decision. India, its people, and its territory that are now increasingly digital, must be protected from China’s encroachment and influence.This long-term response has to be shaped by three ideas. First, India must not contribute to the success, proliferation and performance of digital weapons that will be ranged against it. China’s tech must be recognised as one. Secon...
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PM MODI REPLY TO CHINA,PAKISTAN,NEPAL FOR RECENT TERMOIL BY RECITATION OF A POEM

Prime Minister Modi's a poetic poem for China Pakistan, Nepal - Professor Dr. Ram, New Delhi To protect Mother India, I will put my life. Modi's name is mine, I will beat enemies well. Every countryman will put water, land, air force, everything. Have seen my friendship so far, now I will show enmity. Be a neighbor, have become a friend, I will settle in my light. But I am aware! I will burn an evil hand in a moment. I am peace messenger, enemy, come to friendship, I will embrace. Don't be a snake in the sleeve! In your bill, I will kill you. Gita, I will make sinners peace lessons, reading men. Matkar Mahabharata, Krishna, Sudarshan Chakra, will erase the world. Will you snatch the robbers, I will find the robber in myself. Lions scare the jackals, not the claw, I will drive away their r...