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Gyanvapi Mosque case: Varanasi court to hear Muslim side’s plea today

In the dispute, district and sessions judge AK Vishvesha will start hearing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by the Hindu parties.

ANI | Varanasi |

The Varanasi district court, hearing the civil suit on the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath temple complex issue, will hear on Thursday an application by the Muslim side seeking rejection of the civil suit’s claims on Gyanvapi Mosque.

“The court has made it clear that it will hear the case on Order 7 Rule 11 on May 26. As per the court’s order, a copy of the videography and photography will be made available. All the pending petitions will be heard on the same day,”

Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav told media persons on May 24. In the dispute, district and sessions judge AK Vishvesha will start hearing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee’s plea challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by the Hindu parties. The court has also directed all concerned parties to file objections to the report submitted by the commission that surveyed the mosque premises.

The court of District Judge AK Vishevesh, while fixing the hearing on the maintainability of the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex case, said that the court will hear the matter as per directions of the Supreme Court.
Ranjana Agnihotri is expected to argue as part of the plaintiff Hari Shankar Jain’s team.

District Government Counsel Rana Sanjeev Singh said to reporters on May 24 that the court also gave a week’s time to both Hindu and Muslim sides to file objections to the report of a court-mandated videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque premises. Also, on May 24, the court asked both sides to file an objection to the commission report and submit the report within one week, said Hindu petitioners’ Advocate Vishnu Jain.

The Hindu side has alleged that a Shivling (a representation of Lord Shiva) was discovered inside the mosque premises and the Muslim side claimed that the structure was part of the fountain at the mosque’s wuzu khana area.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, another civil suit was filed before a civil court in Varanasi, seeking the right to worship on the mosque premises. The suit, filed by one Kiran Singh, said the main case would take a considerable amount of time to be tried and that the Hindu worshippers should be given undeterred access to the mosque premises in the meantime.

Significantly, on Wednesday, the civil judge in Varanasi transferred this suit to the fast-track civil court, which will hear the matter on May 30

Vegetable prices continue to rise due to shortage of supply

According to the vegetable vendors too, there will be no reduction in price in the near future amid the shortfall in supply.

SNS | New Delhi |

Though the diesel and petrol prices have been reduced, the rising prices of vegetables, especially the tomatoes have started to pinch common man’s pocket hitting their kitchen budget hard.

While places in Mumbai reported price of tomatoes touching Rs 100 per kg, in Delhi-NCR also, the price of tomatoes inflated to Rs 70 to 80.

The price of lemon, which is used for basic summer drink also continue to be at Rs 100 to 150 kg with no reduction in sight yet.

According to the vegetable vendors too, there will be no reduction in price in the near future amid the shortfall in supply.

The vendors also said that these prices will increase further in the coming days as they argue “vegetables often become expensive during the rainy season”.

The traders at Azadpur and Ghazipur Mandi, which is Asia’s largest vegetable and fruit market said that the arrival of tomato (in the market) has fallen down to about a third, leading to a steep rise in its prices.

“In comparison to last few weeks, the supply for tomatoes has drastically fallen down. Due to shortage of supply, not just tomatoes, but lemon is also being sold in Delhi for Rs 200 to Rs 250 per kg. Similarly, brinjal is at Rs 60 to 80 per kg, calabash (laoki) Rs 50, cauliflower Rs 100 to Rs 120, onion and potato Rs 40, capsicum Rs 100 to Rs 130, carrot Rs 80 and spinach is being sold at Rs 60 per kg,” stated the vendor.

Apart from the shortfall in supply, the vendors added, the farmers have not planted new crops due to fear of loss, which would further increase the prices of vegetables in coming days.

11 new Covid cases in Odisha at 0.07% TPR

The death toll stood static at 9,126 as no new fatality due to the infection was reported for the 23rd consecutive day. Besides, 53 other coronavirus patients have died due to comorbidities so far.

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

The State on Thursday reported 11 new COVID-19 cases at 0.07% test positivity rate (TPR), with the tally rising to 12,88,401. Yesterday, 3 positive cases were reported, the health and family welfare department said.

The death toll stood static at 9,126 as no new fatality due to the infection was reported for the 23rd consecutive day. Besides, 53 other coronavirus patients have died due to comorbidities so far.

Odisha now has 79 active cases, while 12,79,143 patients have recovered from the disease, including 16 in the last 24 hours. As Many as 18 out of 30 districts of the State have so far turned Coronavirus-free with zero active cases, the department informed.

The State’s share is 2.99% in the country’s confirmed virus caseload while the active cases are 0.5% of India’s total active cases.

The number of cured patients accounts for 3.01% of the country’s total recovery. Odisha has so far reported 1.75% of the country’s Coronavirus deaths.

Elon Musk’s net worth drops below $200 bn

Tesla stock has been under immense pressure as of late, with shares dropping about 40 per cent since the start of the year. Musk’s net worth has taken a substantial hit as a result.

IANS | San Francisco |

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s net worth has dropped below $200 billion after Tesla shares recently hit 11-month lows.

According to Teslarati, Musk has lost about $77.6 billion of his net worth year-to-date.

Tesla stock has been under immense pressure as of late, with shares dropping about 40 per cent since the start of the year. Musk’s net worth has taken a substantial hit as a result.

As per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Musk’s net worth stands at $193 billion, as of May 25. This means that Musk had seen $77.6 billion of his wealth sheared off since the start of the year.

Musk is still the world’s richest person by net worth, however. His closest rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is currently listed with a net worth of $128 billion, the report said.

Similar to Musk, Bezos’ net worth has also taken a significant hit this year, dropping by $64.6 billion.

Musk and his fellow multibillionaires have seen their net worths shrink this year.

Overall, the world’s 50 wealthiest people, which include Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have lost an aggregate of half a trillion dollars in wealth since the beginning of the year.

Sri Lanka Cricket to donate 2 million US dollar to country’s hospitals

Meanwhile, many of Sri Lanka’s top cricketers are also understood to have made donations to the country’s health sector privately.

SNS | New Delhi |

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will donate 2 million US dollars to support the country’s health sector in purchasing essential medicines amid the crippling economic crisis in the island nation.

As per SLC, the donation will be split 50-50 between two hospitals.

“US$ 1 million will be donated to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, to buy essential medicines required for pediatric care. And the National Cancer Hospital will be donated US$ 1 million to purchase essential medicines for the treatment of the cancer patients,” the board said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s government has defaulted on its debts this year, after failing to raise sufficient revenue internally, while also running short of foreign exchange. The revenue shortage has sent the country spiraling into energy shortages, with hours-long power cuts seen nationwide, basic necessities having skyrocketed in price, and hospitals unable to secure essential medicines and supplies.

“Sri Lanka Cricket is extremely happy to make this donation at this moment of need for the country, and we will give our fullest support to our nation to overcome these challenging times,” Shammi Silva, the president of SLC, said.

Meanwhile, many of Sri Lanka’s top cricketers are also understood to have made donations to the country’s health sector privately.

(Inputs from IANS)

French Open: Defending champion Djokovic downs Molcan at Roland Garros

Coached by Marian Vajda, a long-time Novak’s trainer, Alex played well in the third set to stay in touch with world no. 1 and reach a tie break.

IANS | New Delhi |

Defending champion Novak Djokovic took down an in-form Slovak Alex Molcan 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 16 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen for the 83rd Roland Garros victory here on Wednesday.

Coached by Marian Vajda, a long-time Novak’s trainer, Alex played well in the third set to stay in touch with world no. 1 and reach a tie break.

Djokovic claimed it 7-4 to emerge at the top and move into the last 16. Novak fired ten aces and dropped serve once from two chances offered to his rival.

The top seed, who hasn’t lost before the third round at this event since 2005, finished the day with 40 winners to 19 unforced errors in picking up his 83rd win at this event.

Molcan arrived at Paris in fine form after reaching two clay-court finals this season in Marrakech and Lyon. But the magnitude of the occasion and relentless baseline play of Djokovic appeared to overwhelm him in the early stages of the match.

The Slovakian’s unforced errors often came in ill-timed bunches during his service games in the first set. He hit three while serving at 1-2 to hand an initial break to Djokovic, then committed another trio of tame baseline errors at 2-5 to hand his opponent an early lead.

Meanwhile, Djokovic encountered few problems on his own serve in the first two sets. The top seed won 29 of 34 first-serve points and didn’t face a breakpoint, freeing him to open up on his groundstrokes and venture to the net for winning volleys. Djokovic broke Molcan once more at 3-2 in the second set and comfortably held three games later for a commanding advantage.

The 24-year-old Molcan offered more resistance in the third set, pumping his fist after taking advantage of a loose Djokovic service game to break at 1-2. But as he so often does, the top seed stepped up when it mattered most. He took advantage of a pair of Molcan forehand errors for a 3/2 mini-break advantage and eventually wrapped up the match in two hours and 15 minutes.

Djokovic hasn’t dropped a set in his first two rounds in Paris since 2010 and has yet to lose a set against Molcan, improving to 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.

The Serbian is the top seed at Roland Garros for the fourth consecutive year. He hasn’t lost before the quarter-finals since 2010 and, should he continue that trend this fortnight with a 16th quarter-final appearance in Paris, a blockbuster showdown with fifth seed Rafael Nadal could await.

(Inputs from IANS)

 

Victim in actress abduction case expresses happiness after meeting Pinarayi Vijayan

In both these cases, Dileep is presently out on bail and all eyes are on the High Court where a petition is being heard if the probe in the case would be extended.

IANS | Thiruvananthapuram |

For the first time after her harrowing experience in 2017, when she was abducted and harassed in a moving car in Kochi city, the victim on Thursday called on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at his office here and expressed happiness after meeting him.

“I was wanting to meet him for a long time and it became a reality today and am extremely happy with the assurance that he has given to me,” said the actress to the media after the 10-minute meeting she had with Vijayan.

“I have conveyed my apprehension to him about the probe not going in right direction and he has assured me that they are with me,” added the actress.

Early this week, she had approached the Kerala High Court with a petition stating that she wish the court intervenes as she suspects foul play in the investigation as it is entering its last phase.

In reply to a question on if she spoke against the government in her petition, she replied in the negative.

“I have also conveyed my fears and I am really happy with the outcome of the meeting,” added the victim.

According to sources in the know of things, she conveyed her wish that the probe that is currently on should not be closed abruptly.

Actor Dileep is the eighth accused in the abduction case and he was in jail for more than two months in 2017 and last year another case was also registered against him and his close associates for a revelation made by his former friend and director Balachandrakumar where he had conspired to do away with the police officials investigating the matter.

In both these cases, Dileep is presently out on bail and all eyes are on the High Court where a petition is being heard if the probe in the case would be extended.

After her petition came up in the court, a few top ruling front political leaders had chided her for her act as the Acrucial Thrikkakara by-election is to take place on May 31.

Reacting on this, she said she does not have anything to say about it.

But Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan said they have had no role in all this and the need of the hour is leaders like State Transport Minister Antony Raju, CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and CPI-M legislator M.M. Mani should apologise for their curt remarks after the victim filed a petition suspecting foul play in the court.

Modi to inaugurate ‘Bharat Drone Mahotsav’ on Friday

During the festival, Modi will interact with ‘Kisan drone pilots’, witness open-air drone demonstrations and interact with startups in the drone exhibition centre.

SNS | New Delhi |

On Friday Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate India’s biggest Drone Festival — ‘Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022’ at Pragati Maidan.

The two days event Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022 is being held on May 27 and May 28.

During the festival, Modi will interact with ‘Kisan drone pilots’, witness open-air drone demonstrations and interact with startups in the drone exhibition centre.

According to the official, over 70 exhibitors will display various used cases of drones at the exhibition.

Besides, over 1,600 delegates comprising government officials, foreign diplomats, armed forces, central armed police forces, PSUs, private companies and drone startups will participate in the Mahotsav.

“Mahotsav will also witness a virtual award of drone pilot certificates, product launches, panel discussions, flying demonstrations, display of a Made in India Drone Taxi prototype, among others,” added the official.

Maoists torch construction company’s vehicles in Kalahandi

The Maoists after resorting to vandalism to register their protest against the road project work left the spot leaving behind leaflets.

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

Armed militias of outlawed CPI (Maoist) outfit set afire three vehicles at the camp office of a construction agency engaged in road construction work in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, police said on Thursday.

A group of armed militias of the banned outfit barged into the construction company office at Tala Pipili village under Sadar police station jurisdiction and torched the JCB excavator, a tipper besides a tractor besides other construction tools late last night, police said.

A private agency was carrying out the road construction work at a remote village and the ultras were opposed to the laying of the road.

The outfit had earlier warned the agency of dire consequence and asked to suspend the road work, according to police sources.

The Maoists after resorting to vandalism to register their protest against the road project work left the spot leaving behind leaflets.

The area where the ultras triggered violence is a far-flung village bereft of road connectivity and cut off from the mainstream. As road communication will put a break on their unlawful activities, the Maoists are bent upon stopping the road work, a senior police official said.

The security forces have rushed to the spot and launched combing operations in the area.

S Asian countries must join hands on climate change

South Asia’s geophysical location and socio-economic demographic backwardness make the region highly susceptible to climate change ramifications.

SANTOSH MATHEW |

Climate change is no more a distant possibility but a reality. The earth has undergone significant climatic alterations due to numerous human activities, resulting in global warming, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, forest fires, glacial retreats in the arctic, wildlife extinction, ocean surface warming, etc. The increased intensity and frequency of these occurrences are a threat to the survival of this planet. 

South Asia’s geophysical location and socio-economic demographic backwardness make the region highly susceptible to climate change ramifications. South Asia has been experiencing climate change in the form of changing precipitation patterns, lethal and frequent heatwaves and humid heat stress, warming of the Indian ocean faster than the global average, melting of the Himalayan glaciers leading to floods, lake bursts and landslides and experiencing more intense tropical cyclones. 

The combined impact of extreme rainfall, sea-level rise, river flooding and storm surges could increase the probability of flooding in major cities like Dhaka, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Furthermore, these climatic shifts could increase strain on the agricultural output, ecological balance, and freshwater resources and escalate the infrastructural damages, thus posing an existential threat to the region’s food, water, public health, energy, and biodiversity security. 

Further, South Asia is one of the world’s most heavily populated regions, with 1.81 billion (2018) inhabitants. Also, out of the world’s total poor population of 736 million (2018), around 216 million poor reside in South Asia, making them one of the most notable segments of climate change impact victims. Seven hundred fifty million South Asians have already witnessed one or more climate change catastrophes in the past two decades, and an estimated 800 million South Asians reside in future climate change hotspots. 

Moreover, a significant part of South Asia’s population depends on climate-sensitive sectors such as traditional fishing, agriculture, and forestry for their livelihood and day- to-day living, making them highly susceptible to climate change impacts. Hence this has led to projection of an average economic loss of $160 billion by 2030, which is 30 per cent of the global financial loss due to climate change and 7 per cent higher than the global average. More- over, by 2100, Bhutan is expected to face a loss of 18 per cent, Nepal 13 per cent, Pakistan 10 per cent and India 10 per cent. This is expected to give rise to 40 million climate migrants, mainly from the coastal regions of South Asian countries, which will soon become uninhabitable due to the sea level rise. 

South Asia, a fast-developing region, expects 1.5 million people to enter the job market every year for the next two decades. And South Asian cities expect an urban population growth of 200 million by 2030. Though South Asia accounts for only 8.6 per cent of the global green- house gas emission (GHG), the region displayed a surge of 58.5 per cent in the emissions level primarily due to urbanisation and the multiplication of the middle class over the preceding decades. 

This growth requires South Asian countries to focus on a systemic, just and a green transition, with a distinct priority on climate change for a safe tomorrow. And this must be quickly made part of the mitigation and adaptation action plan to avoid future climate change impacts because IPCC reports have stated that postponing the climate change mitigation measure could increase the overall mitigation cost by 50 per cent. 

Having said that, South Asia is a region with a high potential to counter climate change by rebuilding its economies around cleaner energies, re-skilling its populations for high-productivity jobs and green job training and investing in resilient infrastructure. A study by the Inter- national Finance Corporation (IFC) has identified South Asia to have a potential of $3.4 trillion in climate-smart investment opportunities with a potential of over $950 billion in electric vehicles and green transport infrastructure for the period from 2018 to 2030 and a potential of investment worth more than $1.5 trillion in energy-efficient green buildings. 

Decarbonising the economy is the key to reducing South Asia’s contributions toward the global emissions levels and being more environmentally conscious. Hence, South Asia needs to avoid investments in high emissions. 

Bangladesh ranked as the world’s 7th most affected country from 2000 to 2019 with an estimated average annual loss to disaster at around $3 billion, or around one-to-two to per cent of GDP, and is the most climate change-impacted nation in the region. The recurrent and worsening coastal and riverine erosion, floods and cyclones affect one million Bangladeshis every year. The 14 coastal districts of Bangladesh are predicted to be the worst hit. This climate alteration is expected to affect the lives of 41 million Bangladeshis, making 12 million of them internal migrants by 2050. 

Bangladesh has experienced rapid economic and social headway in recent decades, achieving lower-middle-income status in 2015. But the vulnerabilities caused by climate emergencies coupled with socio-economic barriers could raise the risk of many slipping back into poverty. By 2050, climate change is likely to cost Bangladesh a further two per cent of GDP on top of its baseline losses to climate hazards. This figure potentially rises to nine per cent of GDP by the end of the century if global mitigation action is not increased. 

Similar Bay of Bengal coastlands and low-to-medium elevation lands in India and Bangladesh make both countries susceptible to equivalent climate change vulnerabilities, mainly due to the presence of vulnerable populations and frequent occurrences of powerful cyclones, rising sea levels and flash flooding. 

The improved bilateral Indo- Bangladesh relation and collaborations with a lucidly laid climate-action roadmap could result in mutual and equitable benefits for the two geographically contiguous neighbours in tackling the climate emergency. 

Moreover, cities, food, transport system, and energy account for over 90 per cent of regional GHG emissions. Critical measures are required in these fields to shift towards a high- productivity, high-value, high-growth trajectory and alleviate insecurities involving energy, food and nutrition, employment, and housing. Thus, a regional collaboration which strengthens the climate resilience of targeted systems combined with a robust financial system that can fund climate-smart transition could deliver the climate change transition smoothly and effectively. 

Heavy, climate-smart investments in every sector are crucial for both countries to build resilience, boost economic growth and reduce emissions. Regional cooperation in climate and hydro-meteorological services and river basin management will allow South Asian countries to reform and harmonise climate policies, share data on collective risks and regional power market development and build trust through technical know-how and shared infrastructure. The acute asymmetrical regional power balance as India encompasses more than 75 per cent of the region’s GDP and is the world’s fifth-largest solar photovoltaic (PV) market with almost 50 GW of total installed capacity has the potential to significantly help its comparatively lesser developed neighbour, Bangladesh, to focus on climate action-centred development through its emphasis on carbon neutrality, food, energy, cities, and transport. 

(The writer is Associate Professor, School of International Studies & Social Sciences, Pondicherry Central University.)

‘Elvis’ star Austin Butler thrusts hips at Cannes, gets 12-minute standing ovation

The film received an uproarious 12-minute standing ovation, the longest of this year’s festival so far, reports Variety.

IANS | New Delhi |

Actor Austin Butler-starrer ‘Elvis’ by Baz Luhrmann received the longest standing ovation so far at the Cannes Film Festival during its premiere.

The film received an uproarious 12-minute standing ovation, the longest of this year’s festival so far, reports Variety.

As the cheers went on and on, a teary-eyed Butler hugged an equally-emotional Priscilla Presley, who flew to the South of France to give her blessing for the movie about her late husband.

The Warner Bros. musical drama had Cannes spontaneously erupting into applause as Butler recreated some of Presley’s greatest hits including ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and ‘Suspicious Minds’.

‘Elvis’ is one of the biggest titles to screen at Cannes, with a star-studded carpet that included Sharon Stone, Shakira, Kylie Minogue, Diplo, Jeremy O. Harris, and Italian rock band Maneskin.

It wasn’t only celebrity power lighting up the red carpet, either: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav ditched his Sun Valley uniform of chinos and tech vests and cleaned up in black tie — slicking his hair behind the ear, perhaps as an homage to the King.

The mogul walked the stairs with super-producer Gail Berman, who shepherded Luhrmann’s latest, and was seated in the auditorium beside Butler’s girlfriend, model Kaia Gerber. Warner Bros. Pictures Group boss Toby Emmerich was also part of the executive group on the ground.

At the film’s lush after-party, Zaslav was taken aback by the reception to the film. He told Variety that the evening prior, Butler screened the film for the first time, with girlfriend Gerber, and both were in tears.

The audience at the Palais was particularly enamored with actor Alton Mason, who plays Little Richard. In an earlier scene where Presley parties with fellow legend BB King, newcomer Mason dazzled with a performance of ‘Tutti Frutti’, complete with acrobatic dance moves. Mason, who began as a model and dancer, earned mid-screening applause.

With the audience still on its feet, Luhrmann hugged his cast members and was clearly moved by the audience’s warm reception of ‘Elvis’.

Taking the mike while brushing tears from his eyes, he recalled his first experience in Cannes for ‘Strictly Ballroom’.

“I’ve had a bit of an epiphany because 30 years ago, my wife and I made a little film called ‘Strictly Ballroom,’ but on our film, we had one exhibitor who gave us one screen, and he saw the film and he left before it finished and said, ‘That is the worst film I have ever seen and you have ruined the career of (Pat Thomson),’ who played the mother.”

Continued Luhrmann: “Anyway, we went up the coast and I had very long hair and we were staying in a trailer park and I was saying, ‘This film thing is never going to work out,’ so I started shaving my hair off.

“And I got a call on the telephone and it was a French man, and I was holding a tin bucket above my head because the night before someone had been killed by a coconut that fell out of a tree. And on the phone, a voice said, ‘Hello, my name is (former festival director) Pierre Rissient, I am from the Cannes Film Festival, and we have seen your film and we would like to offer you a 12 o’clock screening in the Palais’ And at the end of the (screening in Cannes), I remember a security guard came over and he grabbed me and said, ‘Monsieur, from this moment, your life will never be the same again.”

As he embraced current festival director Thierry Fremaux, Luhrmann said that when Covid hit and ‘Elvis’ was shut down, it felt like it was “never going to happen.”

“But for the bravery of (Tom Hanks) to come back, and the bravery of this cast and this crew to go on through Covid and to finish this film, and we are back in Cannes, and to see these streets so full of people who love movies, of every form of life and every background and every kind of movie, there’s so much more about what this place means and what it means to be back in the cinema.”

“And for that, we are eternally grateful, Cannes. All I can say is: Merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup.”

Luhrmann’s films are often over-the-top and extravagant affairs, which is exactly the vibe Warner Bros. brought to the director’s ‘Elvis’ world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The studio surprised premiere attendees with a concert on the beach following the film’s debut screening.

Luhrmann introduced guest DJ Diplo, who debuted an original song from the ‘Elvis’ soundtrack featuring Swae Lee and Butler. Italian glam rock band and Eurovision winner Maneskin also performed its single from the soundtrack at the Majestic beach club bash, where Butler and Gerber danced the night away.

The performance was preceded by an electrifying drone show with lights outlining the ‘Elvis’ figure, name, and motto TCB, accompanied by music.

‘Elvis’ marks Luhrmann’s first feature directorial effort since 2013’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, which also world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Butler stars in the title role opposite Tom Hanks as Elvis’ infamous manager Colonel Tom Parker; Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla; recent ‘The Power of the Dog’ Oscar nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee as country legend Jimmie Rodgers; Yola Quartey as Sister Rosetta Tharpe; and Kelvin Harrison Jr as B.B. King.

Patidar’s century, Hazlewood’s three wickets power Bangalore to Qualifier 2

After rain delayed proceedings by an hour and ten minutes, Patidar slammed 12 boundaries and seven sixes for scoring an unbeaten 112 off just 54 balls, taking Lucknow’s bowling attack to the cleaners.

SNS | New Delhi |

Rajat Patidar produced a knock for the ages, slamming a 49-ball century while Josh Hazlewood picked three wickets in powering Royal Challengers Bangalore to Qualifier 2 of IPL 2022, defeating Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs in the Eliminator at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

After rain delayed proceedings by an hour and ten minutes, Patidar slammed 12 boundaries and seven sixes for scoring an unbeaten 112 off just 54 balls, taking Lucknow’s bowling attack to the cleaners. Patidar was brutal in the last five overs, which brought a whopping 84 runs with Dinesh Karthik providing finishing fireworks in an unconquered 37 as Bangalore posted a mammoth 207/4.

In reply, Lucknow was kept in the hunt, thanks to a 96-run stand between KL Rahul (79 off 58 balls) and Deepak Hooda (45 off 26 balls). But with Hazlewood making three strikes and Harshal Patel conceding just 1/25 in his four overs apart from a superb fielding display, Lucknow could make only 193/6. The win means that Bangalore will face Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2 at Ahmedabad on Friday.

After Quinton de Kock and Manan Vohra fell without making much impact, Rahul opened up by taking two sixes and a boundary off Siraj in the final over of power-play. With Hooda playing some shots and fetching boundaries, Lucknow was kept in the hunt. But Bangalore succeeded in containing the run-flow with some sharp fielding, especially from Wanindu Hasaranga on the third ball of the tenth over.

With 99 needed off the last seven overs, Rahul smacked Hazlewood for six over deep midwicket to bring up his fifty in 43 balls. Hooda also hit Hazlewood for a six over long-on before clubbing Hasaranga for a brace of sixes over the same region. But the leg-spinner had the last laugh, going past Hooda’s attempted slog-sweep to rattle the stumps.

Marcus Stoinis ended the over by slog-sweeping Hasaranga over wide long-on for the third six of the over. In the leg-spinner’s next over, Rahul shuffled across to slog-sweep Hasaranga for a six over fine leg followed by another sweep for a boundary through the same region.

But Bangalore bounced back by having Stoinis caught at deep cover off Patel, who conceded just eight runs despite leaking six runs in the start as extras. Hazlewood produced the knockout punch in the 19th over when Rahul moved across to scoop, only to be caught by a leaping fine leg and followed it up by catching Krunal Pandya for a golden duck off his own bowling, enough to seal the match in Bangalore’s favor as Rahul’s late acceleration went in vain.

Earlier, Patidar, who was not even picked at the mega auction and came in mid-way as an injury replacement for Luvinth Sisodia, played every role in the book for enthralling the capacity crowd with a breath-taking knock. He came in when the ball was new, waited for some time, and then unleashed an onslaught equally against pace and spin to enthrall a capacity crowd at Eden Gardens, who will be remembering his knock for a long time to come.

After Mohsin Khan provided the early breakthrough by dismissing Faf du Plessis for a golden duck and luring the right-hander to nick one behind to keeper Quinton de Kock, Patidar got going with an uppercut over point off Avesh Khan and then hammered a harmless short ball with pull over midwicket for back-to-back boundaries.

Pandya came under thrashing from Patidar in the final over of power-play, hitting three boundaries and a six to take 20 runs off the over and bring up Bangalore’s fifty. With Patidar going fast and furious, he lost support from the other end as Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and Mahipal Lomror fell quickly in the middle overs.

But he continued to be on a roll, bringing his fifty in 28 balls. It was a period where Bangalore benefitted from reprieves given by Lucknow, starting from Rahul dropping Dinesh Karthik at four and Hooda dropping Patidar at 72. That set the tone for Patidar to unleash carnage on Ravi Bishnoi, whacking three sixes and two boundaries from wide long-off to deep mid-wicket as the 16th over yielded 27 runs.

After Karthik took three boundaries off Avesh in the 17th over, Patidar was again dropped, this time on 93 by Vohra, and on the very next ball, pulled over deep mid-wicket for six to bring up a sensational century in 49 balls. Karthik and Patidar smacked 21 and 13 runs off the last two overs to help Bangalore cross 200-mark, which was just enough in the end.

Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 207/4 in 20 overs (Rajat Patidar 112 not out, Dinesh Karthik 37 not out; Mohsin Khan 1/25, Krunal Pandya 1/39) beat Lucknow Super Giants 193/6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 79, Deepak Hooda 45; Josh Hazlewood 3/43, Harshal Patel 1/25) by 14 runs.

(Inputs from IANS)

 

Change of guard might boost climate agenda

On the face of it, the results of last Saturday’s Australian election seem like a fairly accurate reflection of opinion polls in the preceding weeks and months.

MAHIR ALI |

On the face of it, the results of last Saturday’s Australian election seem like a fairly accurate reflection of opinion polls in the preceding weeks and months. A dismal, and in some ways despicable, Liberal-National party coalition has made way at the helm for a rather reticent Labor Party. 

Beneath the surface, though, there are indications of a more seismic shift in the political landscape. One is the prominence of an unusual hue: teal. The blue-green hybrid is the favoured shade of a bunch of independents who have swept aside a number of prominent Liberal incumbents, mainly in affluent Sydney and Melbourne constituencies. 

Their victims include Josh Frydenberg, the national treasurer until last week, who was expected to eventually take over from Scott Morrison, the now-former prime minister, as leader of the Liberal Party. Morrison’s spiralling unpopularity — particularly, but not exclusively, among women — is assumed to have been the key factor behind Frydenberg’s demise. 

Somewhat remarkably for someone who takes pride in his marketing skills, Morrison’s relentless efforts to plug himself through daily photo ops — a strategy that seemed to have paid off (possibly for unrelated reasons) in the previous elections three years ago — flopped this time around. As one of Australia’s best-known writers, Thomas Keneally, puts it, “The Australians woke up to him, and not only moved the goalposts but dragged them off the paddock.” 

In its early days as a nominally independent outpost of the British Empire a century or so ago, Australia was a somewhat volatile entity on the cutting edge of socio-political change in certain respects, including women’s suffrage. There will be more women in the new parliament, yet they remain underrepresented, largely because the conservative side of politics continues to struggle with the idea of gender equity. 

Morrison epitomised the tussle in some ways — not least when in reacting to the alleged rape of a Liberal Party intern in Parliament House by a colleague, he referred to his wife’s advice, suggesting that he was independently incapable of recognising the gravity of the outrage. 

His disconnect with public sentiment was also reflected through an unannounced — and then clumsily covered-up — family vacation in Hawaii when Australia was experiencing some of its worst bushfires in 2019-20. More than two years later, his inadequate response to the nation’s worst floods this century was found wanting. 

The major parties’ insouciance on climate change and its unfolding impacts — this season’s heatwave in the subcontinent, for instance, is believed by scientists to have been made 30 times more likely by global climate trends — undoubtedly contributed to the teal appeal as well as increased popular backing for the Greens. The latter is now expected to hold the balance of power in Australia’s senate. 

The extent to which the parliamentary presence of the teals and the Greens might push the new Labor government to push ahead with a more effective agenda than it has hitherto articulated remains to be seen. Its emissions reduction ambitions are higher than those of the conservative coalition but still grounded in what Greta Thunberg has correctly identified as the “blah blah blah” of the “net-zero by 2050” target (and even that remains controversial among the Liberal-Nation- al stalwarts). 

Continuing to dig indefinitely for oil, gas and coal is tantamount to digging the grave for future generations. A sharp and steady reduction in fossil fuel excavations is the only reasonable way forward. Its economic consequences — including new jobs for workers in mining industries — must be dealt with, and coherently communicated to those who are directly affected. 

Just hours after he was sworn in on Monday, Australia’s new prime minister had to board a Tokyo- bound flight in order to attend a summit with the leaders of the US, Japan and India. On questions of foreign policy, the Labor Party has effectively been indistinguishable from its conservative rivals. 

Remaining an appendage of the US while pretending to resist the potential Pacific hegemony of China — a crucial, and for some years miffed trading partner — cannot possibly bode well for Australia. 

It would be unfair, however, to prematurely judge the inclinations of a government that is yet to properly take shape. Anthony Albanese — the first Australian PM with a non- Anglo surname — is obviously yet to make his mark, and it is not inconceivable that voting trends and the parliament’s composition might push him in a more progressive direction than he has hitherto articulated. One cannot expect whatever lies ahead to be as transformative as the earthquake 50 years ago that, under the leadership of Gough Whit- lam, propelled a deplorably reactionary and often regressive society into an altogether different dimension. But at least there’s a glimmer of hope that deserves to be relished as long as it lasts. 

Richa Chadha reacts to people celebrating the failure of Dhaakad

Actor Richa Chadha has defended the public reaction to Kangana Ranaut’s another failure at the box office after Dhaakad had to be taken off several theatres following zero demand from film lovers.

SNS | New Delhi |

Kangana Ranaut starrer ‘Dhaakad’ took a poor opening at the box office, it was released alongside Kartik Aaryan’s ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ on Friday.

Despite an impressive trailer, Kangana’s film didn’t manage to attract cinema lovers to the theatres. Reportedly, the shows of the film are being taken down in theatres because there is no audience.

Dhaakad, which has been made with a budget of nearly Rs 100 crore, is struggling to even cross the Rs 2 crore mark at the box office. The failure of her film is being celebrated by many on social media.

Actor Richa Chadha has defended the public reaction to Kangana Ranaut’s another failure at the box office after Dhaakad had to be taken off several theatres following zero demand from film lovers.

Activist Tehseen Poonwalla had taken to Twitter to criticize those, who were rejoicing another box office failure of Kangana. He tweeted, “The trolling of #KanganaRanaut for her movie #Dhaakad is extremely unfair! We may agree or disagree with #KanganaRanaut but cannot take away from the fact she is one of the best actors in cinema today and a risk-taker. More power to you #KanganaRanaut.”

Reacting to one of Poonawalla’s tweets, Richa wrote, “Aligning with power is easy and has obvious rewards like tax exemptions, awards,special status, security-even literally the Legislature promoting a film!So do you not know that the reverse also holds true Tehseen? Ppl are expressing dissent in whatever way they can. So chill.”
Poonawalla replied, “Just don’t want celebrations cause your movie flopped.”

As the audience has straightaway rejected the film many single screens and multiplexes have removed Dhaakad and replaced it with Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani starrer Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.

 

India reports 2628 Covid cases, 18 deaths in last 24 hours

As per the data shared by the ministry, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.75% with 2167 patients having recovered in the last 24 hours taking the cumulative tally of recovered patients to 4,26,04,881.

SNS | New Delhi |

India reported 2628 fresh Covid cases, 18 deaths in the last 24 hours, stated the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.

With this, India’s active caseload now stands at 15,414 with active cases now constituting 0.04% of the country’s total positive cases.

As per the data shared by the ministry, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.75% with 2167 patients having recovered in the last 24 hours taking the cumulative tally of recovered patients to 4,26,04,881.

While the weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 0.51 percent, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.58 percent, as per the data.

Besides, the health ministry stated that the last 24 hours saw a total of 4,52,580 COVID-19 tests being conducted taking the cumulative tests to over 84.84 crore.

Under the National vaccination drive, 192.82 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far.

As per the data, COVID-19 vaccination for the age group 12-14 years was started on 16 March 2022. So far, more than 3.33 crore (3,33,02,653) adolescents have been administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Similarly, the COVID-19 precaution dose administration for the age group 18-59 years also started from 10 April 2022 onwards.

More than 16 crore balance and unutilised Covid vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs to be administered.

Besides, as per the ministry’s data, more than 193.53 crore vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far through Govt. of India (free of cost channel) and through the direct state procurement category.

Adivi Sesh plans to arrange a special screening of ‘Major’ for Pawan Kalyan

According to the latest reports, Adivi Sesh has stated that he will arrange a special show for actor Pawan Kalyan.

IANS | New Delhi |

‘Major,’ starring Adivi Sesh, had already begun pre-screening and received a standing ovation at the Pune premiere.

The excitement has grown now as Adivi Sesh has said that he is planning a special screening of ‘Major’ for Telugu celebrities and dignitaries.

According to the latest reports, Adivi Sesh has stated that he will arrange a special show for actor Pawan Kalyan.

To a Twitter user who requested a special show for the ‘Gabbar Singh actor, the Goodachari actor replied, “Pakka (Sure).”

Earlier, Adivi Sesh had shared screen time with Pawan Kalyan in ‘Panjaa’.

The ‘Major’ team is also said to be having special screenings, on which the team will make an announcement soon.

The film is directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka and stars Saiee Manjrekar as the actor’s love interest.

Sobitha Dhulipala, Prakash Raj, Revathi, and others play pivotal roles in the biographical film.

‘Major’, which features Sricharan Pakala’s music, will be released on June 3.

Leaking Future

The present paper leaks are a manifestation of misuse of technology, rather than misuse of State power. In most such instances, a copy of the question paper is obtained surreptitiously, much before the commencement of the examination, and is disseminated on social media to thousands of examinees within minutes.

Devendra Saksena |

According to reliable statistics, more than 30 lakh Government jobs are lying vacant. At the same time, the numbers of educated unemployed are burgeoning; according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, as of today, the unemployment rate for graduates and above is 17.79 per cent with more than ten million graduates being unemployed. 

The Government may have its own reasons, budgetary and otherwise, for not filling up vacant positions and hiring contractual workers instead, but such shortcuts result in poor service to the public and denial of respectable employment opportunities to youth. 

Whenever elections in northern States that provide the bulk of Government employees are announced, or when the clamour for jobs reaches a crescendo, high visibility preparations are made for bulk recruitment to lower-level Government posts. For example, the Railways announced a mega- recruitment drive in 2018; 2,83,747 vacancies were notified, for which more than 40 million applications were received and 1,32,000 appointments were made. The balance appointments have not been made even after four years; apparently, the recruitment drive fizzled out, after the conclusion of General Elections 2019 and Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections, 2020. 

The twists and turns in the recruitment process for 35,000 odd vacancies in Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC), for which around 12.5 million candidates had applied, are indicative of the way mega recruitment drives pan out. To recapitulate: Tests were conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, and results were declared in December 2021 and January 2022, after which, instead of being issued with appointment letters, candidates were told that the tests they had appeared in were the first stage and another round of tests was to follow, which led to massive protests in January-February 2022. The NTPC tests drew so much infamy that the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. wrote to the Railways, asking them not to use the abbreviation NTPC for their exam. 

Many questions remain unanswered. Most of the applicants were from poor backgrounds and vacancies were for lower Group C posts carrying paltry pay, so, should the recruitment process have been spread over three years with more than one level of testing? Should not the railways fill up their vacancies annually instead of having mega-recruitment drives? In light of the fact that the railways collected thousands of crores 0f rupees from applicants, by charging fees be- tween Rs 500 to Rs 2,500, should not the railways have hired some competent agency for conducting the recruitment test? 

The latest blight on the hopes of unemployed youth is leaked question papers of competitive examinations which delay the recruitment process indefinitely. The stakes are extremely high; young men and women eagerly wait for the Government to announce the commencement of recruitment for any Government post; more tellingly, the premium for the lowliest Government job runs into many lakhs of rupees. No examination seems to be untouched by this malaise, be it constable recruitment tests in Rajasthan and Himachal
Pradesh, the BPSC examination in Bihar or the head clerk examination in Gujarat; leaks are being reported regularly from almost all States, for all levels of examinations. Naturally, candidates feel cheated when recruitment tests are cancelled because of question paper leakages. 

Irregularities in Government recruitment are nothing new; a former Chief Minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala, underwent ten years’ imprisonment for illegally recruiting more than three thousand junior basic teachers. A decade ago, the Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission was arrested for running an Rs100 crore job racket. Then there was the Constable Recruitment Scam in UP, in which around 22,500 constables were illegally recruited in UP Police during 2004-06. 

The single-member enquiry committee, appointed by the succeeding State Government, found that many successful candidates had actually failed in their written papers but their total marks had been increased in the cross sheets. Many candidates had used fake mark sheets and certificates to become eligible for appearing in the recruitment test. In a shocking dereliction of duty, interview boards had cleared hundreds of candidates after interviewing them only for a few seconds. In most cases, no explanation could be provided for such irregularities. The Committee concluded that the then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav and two ex-DGPs had masterminded the scam. The Committee recommended the dismissal of 18,000 illegally recruit- ed constables and the initiation of proceedings against more than 70 police officers including some IGs and DIGs. Ultimately, through court orders, the dismissed constables were reinstated, and after a change in Government, in which the alleged perpetrators came back to power, the scam was given a quiet burial. 

Similar was the denouement of the infamous Vyapam scam. To recapitulate: Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal), popularly known as “Vyapam,” is a self-financed autonomous body incorporated by the MP Government, which is responsible for conducting examinations for recruitment to Government jobs and admissions to educational institutes. After repeated complaints, investigations revealed that between 2009 to 2013, Vyapam officials, aided by politicians, had facilitated the commission of all kinds of malpractices e.g., employment of imposters to write papers, manipulation of examination hall seating arrangements and substitution of forged answer sheets for actual ones, to ensure selection of unworthy candidates. The enormity of the scam can be judged by the following; more than 2,000 people have been arrested, including the erstwhile Education Minister, and more than 40 persons connected with the scam have died unnatural deaths. 

However, the present paper leaks are a manifestation of misuse of technology, rather than misuse of State power. In most such instances, a copy of the question paper is obtained surreptitiously, much before the commencement of the examination, and is disseminated on social media to thousands of examinees within minutes. 

Endless variations depend- ing on the technical expertise of the scamsters have been tried. A young IPS officer, posted as an assistant superintendent of police, took a cell phone, a Bluetooth- enabled miniature camera in a shirt button and wireless earpieces into the UPSC examination hall; these devices were being used to communicate with his wife, who was sitting in a coaching institute. Surprisingly, this person had scored very high marks both in his Ethics paper and interview ~casting serious doubts on UPSC’s evaluation process. 

Another instance is of impostors in UP who cloned fingerprints of actual candidates on plastic, which were worn by impostors on their fingers. To be sure, not all such instances have been detected and there would be quite a few unworthy scamsters adorning Government offices. 

Leaking question papers have added another level of complication to the already complex Government recruitment process, bedevilled as it is by complicated rules and myriad quotas. Probably, the time has come to revamp and modernise the plethora of Government examining bodies which are still organised on outdated lines and which follow centuries-old procedures. Probably, Government bodies can emulate the IITs and IIMs that examine a large number of candidates for admission every year and have not been besmirched by any controversy so far. 

Looking at the problem from another perspective, question papers get leaked because of manual intervention at all stages. Right from paper setting, to paper moderation, to question paper delivery, all processes are manual and vulnerable to leakage. 

The best the authorities have done so far is to pass anti-copying laws and suspend the internet at examination venues, which is like trying to kill a mouse with a sledgehammer ~ with full chances of the mouse running away. Technological solutions to counter-question paper leakages may be required; several universities now do the entire paper setting and distribution process online on secure computers with the final question paper being provided at the examination centre in an encrypted format, maybe an hour before the examination. 

All candidates are required to be present in the examination hall half an hour before the commencement of the examination ~ the encryption key is shared at the examination centre only afterwards. 

Thereafter, the question paper is printed securely, silently without being displayed on the computer screen, minutes before the examination. Software that can detect mobile devices and flag exam-related conversations in the examination hall is used to discourage cheating. 

In the final step, marks obtained at the examination are analysed to detect anomalous trends, which would indicate cheating at certain centres or by certain candidates. The above procedure can provide a template for conducting public examinations. Definitely, it is time that Government examining bodies woke up and ensured that no more question papers were leaked.