Tuesday, 04 August 2020 - Imphal Times

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Imphal, Aug 4:

The curb of the COVID-19 infected patient has not flatten in the state of Manipur even though various measures have been taken up to contain the  spread of the virus . As per a statement from the state Health department a total of 98 (ninety-eight) persons including 34 (thirty-four) from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have been tested positive with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

39 male and 25 female from general population were infected by the virus. Among them only 1 (one) persons from Tamenglong district has travelled history. The remaining 63 persons tested positive with the virus are locals without any travel history , the health department statement said.

The Health department statement said that among the 98 persons tested positive at VRDL of RIMS, JNIMS, SDH Jiribam and Imphal West RAT , 25 are from Imphal West, 23 from Thoubal district m 2 from Kakching district, 5 from Chandel district 1 from Tamenglong and 8 from Imphal East.

The statement further said that all those tested positive have been shifted to COVID Care Facilities and all necessary medical precautionary measures like containment and contact tracing are in place . One good news for today is no report of death today from any part of the state. Already 7 have been died of COVID-19 in the state .

Total number of people tested with COVId-19 reached 3018 . Among these 1197 have been recovered and the active positive COVID-19 case stands at 1814. The recovery rate has been down to 60.10 % today comparing to yesterday with 48 persons discharged after they have been found free from COVID-19 while tested on RT PCR.   

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IT News
Imphal, Aug 4:

Commemorating the August 4 , 1997 mass rally where over 5 lakhs people comes to the street for protection of the territorial integrity of Manipur, All Manipur United Club Organisation (AMUCO), an apex body of several clubs and organizations of the state today observed 23rd Manipur Integrity Day.
Tribute was paid at Unity Pillar erected at the western side of Pologround here by members anf well wishers of the AMUCO.
A commemoration function was later held at the office complex of AMUCO at Kwakeithel Akham Leikai. Several leaders of the Meira Paibis and advisors and well wishers of the AMUCO attended the function.
Speaking on the occasion President of the AMUCO , Nando Luwang recalled why and how the historic rally for protection of the territorial integrity of the state was staged.
“It was the far sightedness of the people of the state on the effort to divide and segregate the people of the state that over 5 lakhs people came to the street after the Government of India Signed Cease fire agreement with the NSCN-IM in July 25 1997”, Nando said and added that since that time people of the state know that an attempt to divide the people of the state has been initiated. Later, the perception of distorting the integrity of the state and region of NE stated in particular was shown with the extension of the so called cease fire signed between them on June 14, 2001. People strongly opposed such designed to disintegrate the region and thus 18 people lost their lives during the uprising.
Nando said that on the day when people staged the historic rally on this day of 1997, a 17 years old boy who participated in the rally died while returning back to his village at Moirang Thana Leikai. Another person identified as Nawaz Khan also died after an uncontrolled vehicles rolled over the site while staging a sit in protest at Yairipok after 18 days of the rally.
“People have been giving their lives for the protection of the region and its integrity and will continue”, Nando said adding that for 23 years the various community of the state had been divided using various technique. Today even the NSCN-IM now understand the real motive of the cease fire initiated by the government of India and they have started realizing the real motive of the India government.
On the other hand, at this critical time of COVID-19 pandemic the people have been once made realized that we are one and the fight against the dreaded virus can only be win when stand united. This COVID-19 pandemic also showed our unity and all community today stand together to fight it.
The President of the AMUCO also stated that irrespective of people who are belonging to different community everyone has been affected and each of us in the region are extending help to each other.
“This is the hour that the government and those in the medical profession works with sincerity to ensure that the people of the region is safe”, Nando said. He appealed those in the health care service to ensure that all persons in need of medical care be provided treatment whether infected by COVID or not. He also appealed the government to form a proper long lasting policy to improve the health care sector.
“We know that there were lack of doctors when the pandemic started and today we need more doctors after the pandemic. Why the government is taking too long in recruiting the required doctors an other health workers”, Nando drew the attention of the government.
Regarding the talk of the negligence by doctors while providing treatment to patient at hospital, Nando suggested to installed CCTV camera even at ICU to monitor the way that the health service providers have been providing services to the patients.

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IT News
Imphal, August 4:

Women Action for Development has expressed its discontentment to learn the untimely demise of a pregnant woman in Manipur amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
A press release by the Women body said “Since the hospitals in the state are entirely occupied for treating the COVID patients, other non COVID patients and pregnant women in particular are facing the hardships at the most during this time, especially those in the containment zones. The state Health department must take up necessary arrangements to deal with such issues during the pandemic. “ 
“We truly are thankful to the front-liners for their devotion to help cure the COVID patients but at the same time , doctors to treat non Covid patients are to be assigned separately. If not then the probabilities of death among the non COVID patients will be higher than that of the death of non COVID patients due to the lack of such urgent medical facilities specially required by the pregnant women for delivery which cannot be stopped or postponed, “ it added.
WAD working for the course of women and children deeply show concern and sorrow about the death of women while giving birth during this pandemic, Longjam Basanti (34) and Thoudam (O) Malemnganbi, both from Thoubal district. Mention may be made, under the Indian Governmental scheme of women’s health, which are broadcasted every time at the radio ( Angang Unnaba basi di hospital khwai dagi   henna phare ), needs to be restored amidst the pandemic, if not than the numbers of maternal deaths will increase in the coming days. WAD also has information of 8 pregnant women in I / E who may be expecting the delivery in the couple of weeks and months.
The press release further said “We have been informed by the ASHAS from different districts, that most of the pregnant women belong to really poor families with no proper food and care since they are the daily wage earners and could not work during the lockdown. The state must be inclined to give the other non COVID patients and pregnant women, specifically, the assurance that they would be taken care on medical grounds.”
WAD urged the government to provide temporary maternity hospital and special gynae ward at every district which can be access to the needy women, to identify the pregnant women and nursing mothers in every district and provide them proper supplementary nutrition and other health care essentials, to announce the citizens, the medical facilities implemented by the State government to treat the non-COVID patients during this pandemic, to initiate helpline numbers to handle other such medical emergencies specially for the delivery of child, to arrange a well equipped ambulance with a team to meet the needs of medical emergencies and delivery cases as such and to assign  separate doctors and nurses  to  attend the delivery of child and non COVID patients.

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IT News
Tamenglong, August 4:

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district administration of Tamenglong will celebrate the 74th Independence day of Republic India at the Jadonang Park, Tamenglong district headquarter as notified by Armstrong Pame, IAS, DC of Tamenglong,
Due to this pandemic the celebration will be limited to the District Level Officers (DLO), leaders of CSO, Organisations and Chairmen, Secretaries of the villages and wards of the district. And those participating in this celebration are to follow the Standard of Operating Procedures (SOPs) such as wearing of masks and social distancing.
Further, the DC of Tamenglong also notified to all the District Level Officers/Officials who will be participating for the celebration to report on 13th August latest by 2.00 pm also to undergo compulsory medical check-up of COVID 19 through True NAT machine on payment basis to those who will be travelling from other Districts/places to Tamenglong District Headquarter. All the DLOs will be accommodated at circuit house PWD, Tamenglong and also advised to stay alert and confine till the results of COVID-19 is known.

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According to a press report a few days back, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Range, Pravin Gurung of Sikkim Police removed barricades put up by villagers and localities to prevent people from entering their respective areas fearing the spread of the virus due to the surge in Covid 19 cases in the state, terming the act of putting up barricades by citizens in different localities as illegal while appreciating the high level of awareness of the locals and the precautions they have taken. While the above instance is not a one off incident, the police officer acted responsibly and prevented further inconvenience and possible misfortune due to restricted movements in case of emergencies in the state. In fact the practice of putting up unauthorized barricades in localities and colonies by the local residents have seen a sharp rise with the surge in Covid 19 cases throughout the country, and with the added apprehension of community spread of the contagion, the sense of uncertainty and suspicion of ‘outsiders’ has taken on a more accusatory overtone.
What exactly is the logic behind putting up such unauthorized barricades in localities? Are they really helping in slowing down or preventing the spread of Covid 19? Exactly who are the people the residents are trying to prevent from entering their respective localities? Does the ‘ban’ include persons engaging in ‘essential services’ or are there some local mechanism to monitor the movement of these persons? What about the residents going out of their barricaded localities? Or, has arrangements been made by the locals so that the needs of the less affluent residents are also looked after while imposing a blanket ban on movements in these localities? Considering the mandate and influence the local Clubs enjoy, are these barricades erected with their support or supervision? Has there been even the slightest hint of suspicion that only ‘outsiders’ are at risk of spreading the contagion? What is the view or stand of the state government in this regard? Is this just another example of relegating greater power to the people or yet another instance of failure to implement proper protocols and legal guidelines?
When a locality or residential area is declared containment zone, the local police will put up barricades, often yellow painted metallic ones on wheels, two-layers deep and overlapping if possible, completely restricting the entry and exit of all vehicles. No vendors, milk suppliers, household help, drivers or nannies will be allowed to enter, and residents will not be allowed to exit the building or locality. There will be constant police vehicles on patrol on the main roads, in addition to police personnel permanently stationed at the barricade itself. In case of an emergency, people are expected to alert the police and help will be sent. If needed, ambulances will be sent to take the patient to a nearby hospital. All essential goods vendors will have to leave the deliveries at the barricade gates and residents will be called to come and collect the packages one by one. All other unessential, civilian movement has been banned. Everyone has to wear a mask when they step out of their front doors now. This is compulsory by government order as well. Any non compliance will be dealt with strictly and according applicable laws.
Barricades are and should be the last resort of the state authorities to contain and fight the contagion. The dreaded virus does not differentiate between an ‘insider’ and an ‘outsider’. What we should understand as responsible individuals and citizens is that instead of creating more inconveniences and even potential danger in case of emergencies, we should follow the safety guidelines strictly and avoid exposing ourselves to the risks of contracting the virus. If each one of us does our bit, there will not be any necessity for barricades and bans. We are the ones who will determine the next course of action against the dreaded contagion and thereby decide its fate.

Published in Editorial

Become an Amateur Astronomer – this lockdown
By- Heigrujam Meen Bhushan

We see the Sun, the Moon, Planets and Stars rising and setting in the sky, we are in fact experiencing the effects of the rotation and revolution of the Earth around the Sun – a great cosmic clockwork in action. Since ages across time and civilisations, the night sky has been inducing awe and beauty – a question and an enigma. The night sky from our backyard still thrills us. This lockdown due to Covid 19 pandemic one can taste amateur Astronomy - the backyard astronomy and experience those thrills and the spirit of enquiry like those of ancient astronomers. With modern gadgets like camera, binoculars and internet we are better armed and the thrill and the child like delight remain the same as those experience by ancient astronomers. This Lockdown to relish these feelings just look up into the night sky and enjoy. But first about the comet Neowise which recently ignited the joy of sky gazing.
On 24th July 2020 at about 7:30 pm, Comet C/2002 F3 Neowise was photographed with Nikon D5300 18-140 mm lens (13secs, f 3.5, iso 1250, 56 mm) and the next day with 50 mm prime (10 secs, f 1.8, iso 200, 50mm) with much improved noise level. Rain and cloudy sky foiled attempt to photograph days before. The comet was found about left of Merak by extending from Dubhe of Big Dipper (Saptarishi). The comet was dim about 4 or 5 magnitude of apparent brightness with its little fuzzy tail (magnitude 6 is just visible to naked eye under very good sky condition and 0 assigned to brightest stars historically by ancient Greek Astronomer Hipparchus about 2000 years ago, it is still in used with modern modification and quantification, less number means more brighter, more than 6 means not visible to the unaided eye). Next day its position changed a little towards left side. The comet will not return for about 6700 years. As comet are mostly made of ice, dust and rocky material, as it passes and comes closer towards the Sun, its ice and other gasses components vaporizes, and blows off by the Solar wind emitted by the Sun forming a ion tail and a dust tail pointing away from the Sun. The comet’s core photographed was greenish blue in colour. Interestingly, comets were also recorded as ‘thawanmichak mamei panbi’(star with tail) in ancient Manipur as early as 1572 and on 2nd tithi ( nini panba) Saturday, wakching (Dec./ Jan.) 1705 in the western sky (pp57 vol 1and pp19 vol 2, Chaitharol Kumpaba translated by Saroj Nalini Arambam Parrat). By the mid-august, Neowise will be too dim to be seen even with a binocular or a small Telescope even though it is the sky. With its tails reducing as it goes further away from the Sun, it will be difficult to recognize.

Become an Amateur Astronomer this lockdown
Igniting amateur Astronomy: What can you do tonight if sky is clear?
Just look up and admire the sparkling stars, breath and feel the silence, the vastness limitless sparkling night sky.
First unaided eye observation (description valid approximately till end of August, 2020)
North West: After the sunset, in the north western sky, the Big Dipper (Saptrishi) can be easily seen, extend the first two lower star Merak (Pulaha) and Dubhe (Kratu) towards north, you will find Polaris, the current Pole star also known as North Star because it is very very close to north direction. This is because the Earth axis when extend in space passes very near the star Polaris. So as the Earth rotates, the position of Polaris does not change and all stars seems to rotates around the Pole Star, hence it is known as Pole star or North Star or Dhruv tara. In the north western sky the last three star of Big Dipper form an arc (part of a circle), extend the arc, you will find a redgaint star Arcturus(Swati), an aged star that has depleted its core hydrogen just 37 lightyears from us, extend further you will find Spica (Chitra) a variable bluegaint star 20,000 times brighter than the Sun, extend further you will find a group of 4 semi bright in quadrilateral pattern of stars forming Corvus Constellation low in south western sky. To ease remembering the name and location is the sky, we say ‘Follow the Arc to Arcturus (from the last three star of Big Dipper) and spin on to Spica’ extend further you find Corvus constellation.
South East: Planet Jupiter is seen as the brightest object and Saturn a yellowish starlike left of Jupiter. Right side of the Jupiter is the teapot of Sagittarius. A possible alien signal called the wao signal! was discovered by Big Ear Radio Telescope, Ohio State University on 15th Aug. 1977 was discovered coming from this direction. Further right you can see the beautiful Scorpius Constellation with its red supergiant star Antares (Jayestha) - a star which appears in the flag of Brazil.
North Eastern sky: Northern Cross with its bluewhite supergiant star Deneb is high in north eastern sky. Also a pattern of three bright star - the summer triangle consisting of Deneb of Cygnus, Vega of Lyra (northeastern direction) and Altair (high in east direction) of Aquila constellation can be seen. Near the region of Summer triangle near Altaire is a dim constellation Velpecula where the first pulsar PSR 1919 +21 was discovered by a doctoral student Joycelyn Bell Burnell on 28th Nov. 1967. She called it LGM-1 for Little Green Man thinking to be beacon from Aliens. W shape constellation Cassiopeia is rising little late in the sky. Planet Mars and Uranus will be rising late in the eastern sky.
Early morning night sky: Two hours before sunrise, Venus (brightest in eastern sky) is rising in eastern direction along with Taurus constellation with its bright redgaint star Aldebran(Rohini). Mars (dim reddish and star like) will be almost overhead. Also you can see Pleiades (Krittika/ khongjomnubi in Manipuri) high in the eastern sky. Planet Mercury is seen rising low in the eastern sky. Also you can see Orion constellation rising low in the eastern sky, its star Rigel will be bright in south eastern sky.
Moon: 3rd August is full Moon. Moon will be rising in the eastern sky just after sunset. Moon and Sun will be in opposite direction from the Earth. As days passes Moon will be rising late diminishing in phases. Moon will move 360 deg/27.3days = 13.2 deg/day from east to west ie. backwards in the background of zodiac constellation, 27.3 days being the sidereal month ie. time to return to same position in the background of stars. Interestingly, in vedic astrology the zodiac is divided into 27 nakshatra suppose to be the 27 wives of hindu Moon God Chandra. Hence, the moon stays in each nakshatra each day. Each lunar day is called ‘tithi’ or thaban like nini pannba humni pannba in Manipuri.
Stars: The sky looks like a big sphere rotating around the pole star called the celestial sphere. The sky rotates 360 deg in 24 hr (a day is defined as exactly 24 hr) or 15 deg every hr. The sky with all the stars and planets will seems to rotate around pole star 15 deg every hour or 1 deg every 4 minutes from east to west. Next day, the sky advances by 1 deg (Earth’s revolution 360 deg/ 365 days = 1 deg approx) or 4 mins every day. As the days passes, the celestial sky seems to advance from east to west by 1 deg or 4 mins every day. In other words, if you see a star, say at 9:00 pm, next day at 9:00 pm the star will seems to rotate by 1 deg. from east to west or, the star will be in same position 4 mins earlier ie. 9:00 minus 4 mins. This also means the sky rotates 30 deg every month (360 deg/ 12 months = 30 deg/month). All planets, comets, Moon seems to move in the background of stars very slowly.
Star gazing using Binoculars:
Binocular specifications are generally 7 x 50 mm which means, magnification is 7 times and 50 mm is the diameter of the objective lens which determines the light gathering power or how bright an object will be to the eye revealing fainter objects in the sky.
Moon appears much closer, best is during waxing crescent Moon just after sunset in the western sky when the contrasts between light and dark areas of the craters are maximum. If you are lucky, you can see occultation ie. Planets and some bright stars passing behind the Moon whose timing are important for astronomical calculation. For steady view, a tripod or a stand can be used. Crater Tycho named after astronomer Tycho Brahe can be easily seen.
Milky Way (Akash Ganga/ Nighthou turen) looks like a stream of heavenly gems of various colours. Colours of individual stars and gaseous clouds can be seen. The colours of the stars indicate its temperatures. Milky Way can be seen stretching through Cassiopeia, the Northern Cross then to Sagittarius constellation and tail of Scorpius constellation.
Pleiades (Krittika/ Khongjomnubi) is a beautiful open cluster (a group of gravitationally bound stars formed from the same giant molecular clouds, they are like brothers) in Taurus constellation rising from the east visible in early morning night sky.
Double Cluster in Perseus constellation near Cassiopeia, consisting of two star clusters is always visible from most part of Northern Hemisphere. You will see this beautiful cluster rising late in the north eastern sky. The double cluster is actually blue shifted meaning they are moving towards us. In Greek Mythology, the cluster is supposed to be the jeweled handle of Perseus’s sword. Perseus is the son of Greek God Zeus. He perform many heroic act such as beheading Medusa a monster with poisonous snakes as hairs, saving princess Andromeda chained to a rock to sacrifice to a Monster Cetus send Poisidion God of seas, storms and Earthquakes. Andromeda later married Perseus.
Double double (Epsilon Lyre) of Lyra is easy to locate as it is near Vega (Abhijit). It will be high in the eastern sky. Though visible to unaided eye as a single star, through a binocular two stars are seen separately. The two are in fact, another two star system visible through Telescope. In 1980’s a fifth very dim partner was discovered using very advance technique called Speckle imaging.
Perseid meteor shower is visible to naked eye but is more beautiful with a binocular. This shower is going on currently and will be peak by 9 August till 14 August 2020. At its peak upto 60 or more meteors can be seen per hour. It seems to come mainly from direction between Perseus and Cassiopeia although it covers all the sky. The Meteor showers are form when Earth enters the streams of debris left by comet Swift Tuttle.
Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the unaided eye with apparent brightness of about magnitude 3.4, it is dim, seen as fussy flatten cloud about 6 times the size of Moon. It can be located using Cassiopeia. It will rise late in north eastern sky and visible throughout the night. It is the only object which is located outside the Milky Way galaxy visible to naked eye. It is some 2.5 million light years away and belong to a small group of Galaxies which our Milky Way Galaxy is a part called the Local group which is a part of a larger group of Galaxies called Virgo Supercluster. Andromeda Galaxy is blue shifted meaning its moving towards us and will collide with Milky Way.
Star Gazing using Telescopes:
If you are luck even to have even a small Telescope, it is like having a divine eye. You can see so many wonderful objects in sky provided you know where and how to look.
Planets: The rings of Saturn and four big moons of Jupiter can be seen with a Telescope. They can be seen rising in south eastern sky. Right side of Jupiter is the Sagittarius Constellation along with band of Milky Way. Jupiter will be the brightest object in the sky. Phases of Venus (like our moon) can be seen two to three hrs before sun rise and will be the brightest, rightly called the morning star (though not a star). Reddish colour Mars can be seen almost overhead, In fact, Planet Uranus is also present close to Mars but will be difficult to recognize as it is featureless and appears like a star. Mercury will rise low in eastern sky and its phases can be observed like Venus but with little difficulty.
Moon: The craters of the moon can be seen more magnified and clearer, Crater Tycho, sea of tranquility the area where Apollo 11 landed can be seen. After full moon on 3rd August, Moon will rise 48 mins late per day and diminish in phase till new moon on 19th Aug. Then it will rises in the western sky after sunset as crescent moon increasing its phases as days passes.
Double star: Alberio is a double star system consisting of a contrasting brighter reddish orange (amber) star and a faint bluish star in Cygnus constellation. They can be easily track in Northern Cross. Find Deneb the brightest star in Northern Cross, Debeb forms the tail, the tip of the Cross is Alberio. The double star are not related and are optical binary ie. just happen to lie close to the line of sight from Earth. Alberio was photographed way back and published in 1923 in Henry Draper catalogue. Later in 1978, after much research the brighter reddish colour star has a very close binary – a partner revolving around each other. A US Navy cargo ship is named after this star.
Mizar(Vashistha): Mizar with its fainter partner Alcor(Arundhati) is a binary star visible to the unaided eye. It is located in the middle of the last three ie. handle of Big Dipper (Saptarishi). They can be seen better through a Telescope. Mizar is known as Vashistha, one of the Saptarishi, and Alcor as Arundhati, wife of Vashistha, in vedic astrology. The Arabs and the Persians use these stars for testing their eyesight in the ancient past.
AstroPhotography: Photography of the night sky can be done using mobile camera and much better with DSLR. Stars, Milky Way, Deep sky objects too dim to see with naked eye will be reveal in photos taken. Lens with low f no. such as 1.8 can gather more light, making the photo with less noise. Wide lens with low f no can capture landscape with Milky Way. Nowadays adapter to attach DSLR to Telescopes are available. With a DSLR fitted to a Telescope a much better, magnified photos of Planets and deep sky object can be photographed. I have clicked Orion nebula some 1300 light years away with Nikon D5300, It was impressive. Rule of 500 for a full frame camera says the shutter speed should not be more than 500/ focal length in mm of the lens used otherwise stars photographed will not be dots due to Earth’s rotation but shows trails. You can overcome this limitation by having a motorised tripod which compensates the effect the Earth’s rotation. Besides Amazon.in, simple or motorised Telescope made in India can be purchase online from tejraj.com or from space-india.org. GOTO Telescope can be track using Astronomy Softwares. The telescope will track automatically when you click a star or a planet.
Astronomy Softwares: Desktop version (windows/ Linux/ Mac) Stellarium is a good free Astronomy software where you can see simulation of position of stars, planets, eclipses, deep sky object at current time (like live), in the past say at the time ascending throne of Maharaj Chingthangkhomba (Bhaygachandra Maharaj) on Sajibu (March/April) 7 ni panba, 1759, star Pushya (a star in cancer constellation) rises in the east ie. ascending of throne timing made according to this star. This can be verified and understand better. Star configuration can also be study in future say ten years after. These are for any places on Earth. Stellarium, android version for mobile is available in playstore on payment.
Starry Night is a commercial desktop software f or macOS and Microsoft Windows. It display a photo realistic night sky, view the night sky from any location on Earth or any position in the solar system, the nearby Milky Way, or the Local Group of galaxies; display any date and time for thousands of years in the past and future; animate time forwards or backwards at any rate; display of current imagery from Solar and Earth-observing satellites; Control most popular GOTO telescopes through a serial interface cable; display the sky using an all-sky photographic mosaic created from CCD imagery and more. Google sky, Redshift, Celestia are other good Astronomy software.
Amateur Astronomy is fun, educative and thought provoking. It’s also humbling making us realize how vast, beautiful, complicated, enigmatic the universe is and we the human species the only living creature in the vast Universe trying to make sense of what we observe and know. It is also about God as creator – the Universe, the laws of matter, energies and their interactions at quantum and cosmological level faintly reveling His greatness, His Passtime and perharps His smile. Physicist Max Born, Nobel Laureate said ‘I saw in it (the atom) the key to the deepest secret of nature and it reveals to me the greatness of creation and creator.’ Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami a pioneer in Science and Spirituality said ‘… it is not that we give a human shape or characteristic to a god or anything whimsically. Rather it is the revelation of God Himself to self-realized transdentalist.’ Amatuer Astronomy not only induces a spirit of inquiry but a spirit of spirituality – divinity as well.
Wishing you clear sky

****The writer is a Former Planetarian, Leo Planetaria, New Delhi, Former Head of Resource, CMeLT Planetarium, Dehradun and Former Head of Resource, Equinox Planetarium, Chandigarh. Queries and feedback may be mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Guest Column

IT News
Imphal, Aug 4:

The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) demands that the Editor of news website The Kashmiriyat, Qazi Shibli be immediately released from custody, after he was detained by the J&K police’s cybercrime division on July 31 in Srinagar.
According to news reports, Shibli has been detained at the Shergari police station since following a call from the Cyber Police on Thursday last asking him to present himself the next day, which happened to be Eid. However, it is unclear whether he has been charged under any offense as per another report, a police official was quoted saying they were asked by seniors to keep him custody and were unaware of the reasons.
The IJU notes that Shibli was detained in UP’s Bareilly jail for nine months under the draconian Public Safety Act after he tweeted information about deployment of additional troops in J&K in July-end. He was released only this April 13 after his detention was revoked during decongestion of jails across the country.
In a statement, IJU President and former Member, Press Council of India, Geetartha Pathak and IJU Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit condemned the arrest saying that the J&K authorities continue to misuse the PSA with impunity and more so after August 5 last year, when Article 370 stood revoked. The Union demanded the State respect the freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Indian Constitution and allow independent journalists to do their work. Interference on media rights and the citizens’ right to information makes a mockery of the world’s largest democracy and rule of law, it asserted.

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IT News
Pune, August 4:

The Drugs Controller General India (DCGI)  has given nod to the Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting phase II and III human clinical trials COVISHIELD, which it is developing in collaboration with Oxford University and AstraZeneca,

 ”Drugs Controller General of India has given approval to Serum Institute of India, Pune to conduct Phase II+III clinical trials of Oxford University-Astra Zeneca #COVID19 vaccine (COVISHIELD) in India,” stated the Union Health Ministry in a tweet on Monday. 
The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) for Covid-19 related therapies had recommended various amendments to SII’s earlier proposal to conduct the trials. Following these recommendations, the SII  amended its proposal and resubmitted it for consideration on Wednesday last. 
The SEC, which had reconvened on Friday to evaluate the revised proposal, recommended that Central Drugs Control Standard Organisation (CDCSO) grant permission for SII to conduct phase II/III human clinical trials. DCGI Dr V.G Somani then studied the recommendations and approved the proposal. 
The committee has also suggested that the authorisation to market the vaccine, which SII has titled as “Covishield”, be granted after considering clinical data generated both from the India trials and its international trials. In the amended proposal SII expanded the number of trial sites it is looking at, to around 20 facilities across India. 
Now that the chief of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has signed off on the proposal, as confirmed by the Union health ministry, SII will be able to kick-off the trials in India, effectively putting it ahead in India’s own race for a Covid-19 vaccine.
SII has a tie-up with Swedish-British firm “Astra Zeneca” which developed the vaccine along with The University of Oxford, to manufacture this vaccine for low- and middle-income countries.  Under phase II and II, the SII will be conducting human trials of Oxford vaccine in 1,600 healthy volunteers in India. Two dosages of “Covishield” will be administered to volunteers till four weeks. 
The human clinical trials of phase I and II have already began in South Africa. Whereas in UK, the human clinical trials under phase II and III have started.  Similarly in Brazil the human clinical trials under phase III have began. 
The SII, has decided to conduct clinical trials on 4,000 to 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai by the end of this month. A number of trial sites across both Mumbai and Pune have been shortlisted, as these cities have many hotspots, which will help us understand the efficacy of the vaccine, SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla said. 
Poonawalla said the company aims to manufacture 300 million to 400 million doses by the year-end, following the success of initial and licensure trials. As part of the agreement with “AstraZeneca”, SII can manufacture 1 billion doses for India and nearly 70 low and middle income countries. There are no challenges in the manufacturing of the vaccine doses and the company will be starting by making 60-70 million doses per day.

 

Published in News

IT News
Imphal, Aug 4:

Spraying of Hypochlorite solution to kill the novel coronavirus by various club members at various places will not kill novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to people but rather it would harm human health, said Dr. Sasheekumar Mangang , Additional Health Director of Manipur said in a facebook post.
He said that SAR-CoV 2 that causes COVID-19 is found in the human body particularly at the throat and nose. These virus come out in groups of 5 while sneezing or speaking. These virus can’t stay in the atmosphere and travel too long. However, there are opinions of some experts that these virus travel for around 25 feet inside a room. But in real life situations, they can’t survive long in the atmosphere either at roads or surroundings. Once they come out from the human body they become weaker and can’t infect to human.
The additional director health, who is also the spokesperson, said that spraying the Hypochlorite in bulk people may inhale it and that may cause cancer to the human being. Once sprayed the virus than the chemical will stay long in the environment. Animals like cows or other herbivorous animals may get infected after consuming grasses from such areas. Not only the animals but children who play at the area may get affected by the chemicals.
Dr. Sasheekumar further said that Hypochlorite has its role and it can be only sprayed at narrow lanes under the strict supervision of the medical experts as the chemical could harm human life. He appealed people not to spray the Hypochlorite in bulk at roads, fields, and grounds as it only affects the environment and human life.
The Additional health director also appealed to stop infodemic which is being associated with the pandemic. Various unconfirmed news is being circulated at social media causing inconveniences to people. This spread of false news should be stopped as it creates more problems in dealing with the virus, Dr. Sasheekumar said.

Published in News

By- Durga Chettri Mukhia & Sanjoo Thangjam


There is a small Hill Station in West Bengal called Darjeeling at an elevation of 6800 feet above sea level.
It started off as a Summer Resort for the Britishers in 1838. They built Sanitoriums and Bungalows for officers in Darjeeling  to escape the summer heat of Kolkata and as a recovery centre for British Soldiers injured during the War.
A  winding road and small steam engine train line was built from Siliguri , the distance being around 78 kilometers to Transport Britishers and their Goods.
The Britishers mainly came to India for Trading and formed the East India Company, headquarters in Kolkata.
Mr Campwell was appointed Superintendent of Darjeeling.
As an Experiment, he planted some tea seeds in his garden which he had received from China via Kolkata. Since the plants came up well, he formed a Committee .The Chinese traders were not willing to part with huge number of seeds as they were monopolizing the tea market, the Britishers were faced with a Problem. They came up with an idea to give them Opium which they sourced from Afghanistan in exchange for tea seeds.
The Chinese were hooked to Opium and soon seeds were brought and planted in the Hilly areas of Darjeeling. Since the Britishers were not knowledgeable regarding Planting and Processing of Tea, Chinese were Bribed and brought to Darjeeling.
Soon labour was required in this sparse area and Nepali workers were brought from neighbouring Nepal to clear land, plant and pluck tea.
Quick development took place as the Britishers liked the cool climate which reminded them of their hometown in England.
Health Resorts, Hotels, Schools ,Clubs, Churches, etc were built due to the scenic beauty of the mighty Kanchanjunga Peak, the third highest peak in the world and surrounding snowy himalayan mountains.
Tea Plantations also started expanding in the Hills of Darjeeling.
The Tea Plants, maybe due to the cool climate, fertile soil and suitable elevation tasted very flavoury. Only the top 2 leaves and a bud are plucked from the bush. Harvesting of tea leaves is from March to October, it gets too cold in winter and plants do not grow.
Now in London where the tea auction was held, tea tasters found an extraordinary taste of the teas from Darjeeling. It had a very natural fruity and flavoury mild taste, they started comparing these teas to what Champagne is to Wine and what Scotch is to Whiskey.
Due to the cool climate and small size of the China tea bushes, the quantity is less.
Today, only 8 million Kgs are produced yearly in Darjeeling as compared to 1300 million Kgs Production in India.
There are 87 Tea Gardens in Darjeeling, most are small to medium size, like a Cottage Industry. The tea planters have fine tuned their plucking and manufacturing process which they have acquired over the years.
Today, Darjeeling Tea has been awarded GI ( Geographical Status ) by International body, which means this Outstanding Tea Quality comes from a Specific Region and has copyright, similar to Basmati Rice.
This Tea is a self drinking tea which means you drink it without milk and sugar to enjoy the flavour and taste.
Did you know who drinks these teas? Royals from England, Japan Brunei, Thailand , UAE are just few of the names.
Whenever a foreign dignitary visits India and a State Banquet is held, it is served in Rasthrapati Bhawan, since it is a pride of India. Today, the tea fraternity of the world has accepted this as a unique and outstanding tea in the world.
In 2019 , one Kg of Darjeeling Tea was sold at Rs 2 lacs a Kg by Tea Box Company.
SO SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR DARJEELING TEAS.

Published in Guest Column

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