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Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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NE students at TISS allege racial discrimination

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 18

Amid the global panic over the novel Coronavirus [COVID-19], students hailing from the North Eastern states, studying at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences [TISS], located at Deonar in North East Mumbai, have complained of racial discrimination in and around campus in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to the institute, the Northeast Students’ Forum of TISS alleged racial profiling of some members of the forum as potential carriers of the virus (Covid-19), which originated in China, owing to their facial features. “Many students from TISS have recently been subjected to racial treatment due to their distinctive identities and features,” the letter said.
The letter also said that students from north-eastern states have faced name-calling, such as “corona” and “coronavirus”. Around 200 of 2,900 students at TISS are from the North-East.
“We would like to bring this matter to the notice of concerned authorities of TISS to adopt adequate measures to ensure safety of students from North-East who are vulnerable to racial discrimination. We request the general student body, faculty, and staff to deter any practices of casual and structural racism and promote a sensitive approach towards students. We also request the concerned government bodies to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of people from north-east states in Mumbai and to deter cases of harassment and racial discrimination,” read the letter.
A student from Nagaland said, “I was travelling in a share cab when I coughed and suddenly the fellow passengers started discussing the virus. Nothing was directed to me per se but it just showed a complete insensitivity.”
 ”In the midst of the ongoing global health crisis due to an outbreak of Coronavirus, purportedly originating in the Wuhan province of China, we have seen a disturbing trend of discrimination and racial profiling across the world towards people of China origin and other Asian nations bearing Mongoloid features. It is a grim reminder of inherent racial prejudices and stereotyping of particular peoples based on their physical features and perceived cultural inferiority, manifested by subjecting them to various forms of hostilities, slurs, and suspicions which is now being played out in the pretext of health concerns. We condemn this form of discriminatory behaviour and call for a sensitive approach for addressing the outbreak without racial profiling of people. This is especially to bring to light the increasing instances of racial discrimination within India being faced by people from the North Eastern states due to distinctions in socio-cultural traits and physical features,” reads the NESF statement.
The group also had a meeting with the institute authorities regarding the insensitive behaviour. “The Dean of Students’ Affairs at the institute gave us a patient hearing and has assured that specific steps will be taken to create awareness and to ensure safety of students from northeast,” a research student from the institute who also hails from northeast said.
Asha Banu, dean, student affairs, confirmed that students approached her office to discuss the matter adding that the administration is mulling ways to spread awareness within the campus and in nearby areas.

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Over  two lakh Muslim pilgrims to proceed on Haj pilgrimage without Govt subsidy

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 18

For the first time after Independence, over two lakh Muslim pilgrims will be proceeding to Mecca-Medina in Saudi Arabia without government subsidy, on more than 500 flights and from 21 embarkation points across the country for Haj pilgrimage this year, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here on Monday.
This year, a total of two lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj (between July-August). About 1.23 lakh Muslims will go through Haj Committee of India and remaining through Haj Group Organisers, he said. This year over 2100 Muslim women will go to Haj without Mehram (male companion).
Addressing a training programme of “Haj 2020” trainers at Haj House in south Mumbai, Naqvi said the unprecedented reforms undertaken by the Modi government ensured that the entire Haj process has been made digital and transparent and the Haj pilgrimage has become affordable. Making the Haj process 100 per cent digital/online has removed middlemen ensuring Haj pilgrimage becomes affordable in comparison to the cost incurred in last several decades, he said.
Even after removal of Haj subsidy, no additional financial burden has been put on the pilgrims, Naqvi said. India has become the first country to make the entire “Haj 2020” process 100 per cent digital. Online application, e-visa, Haj mobile app, E-MASIHA health faciility, E-luggage pre-tagging providing information in India itself regarding accommodation/transportation in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have been provided to Indian Muslims going for Haj, he said.
For the first time, facilities have been provided for digital pre-tagging of baggage of Haj pilgrims. Linking SIM card to the mobile app ensures Haj pilgrims immediately get the latest information regarding Haj in Mecca-Medina on their mobile phone.
Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) have also been connected with the 100 per cent digital system which has ensured transparency in their functioning and has  led to better facilities to Indian Haj pilgrims. A portal (http://haj.nic.in/pto) for Haj Group Organisers has been developed. It contains details of HGOs and their packages. India in coordination with Saudi Arabia is working to ensure safety and better medical facilities for the pilgrims during Haj 2020, he said.
A total of 650 trainers participated in the training programme. They will train Haj pilgrims in their respective states regarding the pilgrimage, accommodation in Mecca and Medina, transport, health facilities and safety measures. The trainers included a large number of women trainers. Officials from the Haj Committee of India, Customs, Air India, Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, various banks and disaster management agencies guided the trainers.
Starting in 1954, the government for decades offered subsidies amounting to billions of rupees to poor Muslims wanting to perform Haj. In 2016, the sum was about $75m, down from about $100m in 2013. Muslim pilgrims were given the subsidy through concessionary airline fares. However in 2018 the government announced the end of a decades-long policy of giving subsidy to thousands of Muslims heading to the holy city of Mecca to perform the annual Haj pilgrimage. The decision followed a 2012 ruling by the  Supreme Court, which directed the government to gradually reduce the subsidy and abolish it by 2022.
Haj and Umrah are religious pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Islamic religious doctrine dictates that every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford to do so is obligated to make Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. Haj takes place from the 8 th through the 12 th day of the last month of the Islamic year (Dhul Hijah). The timing of Haj (based on the lunar Islamic calendar) varies with respect to the Gregorian calendar, occurring about 11 days earlier each successive year (for example, it was held August 19–24 in 2018 and in 2019, August 9–14). This year it will be between July-August. Muslims may perform Umrah, the “minor pilgrimage,” any time of the year; unlike Haj, Umrah is not compulsory.
Every year, the Air India has been organising special 200 flights from seven destinations across the country to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Despite ongoing process of disinvestment in Air India, this facility will be continue, Naqvi said.

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Bharti Airtel pays Rs 10,000 crore AGR dues to DoT

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 18

Even as an imbroglio over payment of pending AGR dues worth Rs 1.47,686 crore, by 15 entities, including three major telecom companies continued, Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has paid Rs 10,000 crore to the telecom department towards statutory dues.
“The amount of Rs 10,000 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel, Bharti Hexacom, and Telenor,” the Sunil Mittal-led company said in a statement. As much as Rs 9,500 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel (including Telenor India which merged with the company), and another Rs 500 crore for Bharti Hexacom. As per the government’s assessment, Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore in statutory dues, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge.
On Monday, the company rushed to make part payments and said, “we are in the process of completing the self assessment exercise expeditiously and will duly make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court. The company said it will also submit supporting details at the time of making balance payment.
In another development Vodafone Idea Limited in a letter to PM and telecom minister of India, stated that it has no plans to leave India and that Vodafone was engaged in talks with the government.  Vodafone Group’s CEO Nick Read reaffirmed that the company would stay in India and apologised to Indian government saying that his earlier remarks were misquoted by media. Earlier he had said that Vodafone’s India venture is in a perilous state and could see a shutdown. Vodafone Idea Ltd is confronted with the dues worth Rs 53,000 crore - its liabilities add up to Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee.
 A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah of Supreme Court, last week directed the managing directors and directors of telcos and other firms to explain why contempt action be not taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the DoT.
In all, 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore — Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

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Indian medical students including 4 from Manipur doing internship in hospitals run by Sichuan University discouraged from returning to India

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 17

Indian medical graduates including 4 from Manipur doing internship in hospitals, run by the Sichuan University, China, are not being allowed to return to India, even as the Embassy of India in Beijing has taken up the issue with concerned authorities, report reaching here said.
As per the reports, despite Coronavirus outbreak, the students are being told that they will have to complete the course afresh if they return to India and there is a break in duration of the one year course.
According to reports, since more doctors are required to cater to the patients admitted to the hospitals, the doctors already working in hospitals as interns, are being discouraged from returning to India.
In response to a query by Imphal Times , Sanjeeb Chakraborty, Consul(Consular), Consulate General of India, Guangzhou, through e mail stated that “The Consulate has already taken up the issue with the concerned authorities of Sichuan University. The University has noted our concern and has informed that they totally respect these Indian students’ choice of continuing to stay or returning to India. For those who are doing the internship at the university’s hospital currently, they can also choose to return to India after they finish a necessary procedure of asking-leave. Then they can come back to the university to continue their study once the current situation is over”.
“The students can avail the choice of option to travel back to India via Bangkok/Colombo/Kulalampurby Thai/Srilankan/Malaysian Airlines if direct flight is not available from Sichuan”.
The Sichuan University recognized by Medical Council of India (MCI) offers MBBS degree course of ( 5 years + 1 year internship). The internship can either be done at the university hospitals or in the home country in a hospital recognized by the Ministry of Health of the concerned country.
Some Indian students for MBBS course in English medium have already been graduated from West China Medical School, Sichuan University and have excelled in the Screening Test of MCI. If the students want to do internship in the hospitals of the university they must pass HSK examination, as per regulations of Ministry of Education, China, before the 6th year internship.
In addition to MBBS course, the international undergraduate Students are also engaged by different medical institutes, including Sichuan Academy of Medical Sciences & Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, for one year course.

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