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Kolkata: It will not be an overstatement to say that the forthcoming plenum of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Kolkata will decide not only the fate of the party in the coming days but also the existence of the Left politics.
That the CPI-M has been forced to call the plenum 36 years after the last – and theoretically disastrous – one held in Salkia (Howrah/West Bengal) in 1979, is sufficient proof that the party is in a deep crisis and is groping in the dark for charting a new course.
Still, there is no indication that the party will be able to tide over the follies of the 1979 plenum, which had actually opened the floodgate of entry into the CPI-M of riff-raff elements that were completely devoid of any kind of initiation in communist thought. Moreover, the CPI-M is still suffering the legacy of the personalized and less-than-democratic leadership represented by Prakash Karat and his ilk.
In the 21st party Congress in Visakhapatnam last April, Sitaram Yechury, the incumbent general secretary, had, in fact, tried to present a different policy and programme. That his model gained immediate and wide acceptance is a pointer to the need of a reappraisal being felt by the party rank and file.
But the ignorance of the party leadership in unbelievable. P Karunakaran, the CPI-M leader in the Lok Sabha, is still at a loss to understand why his party is unable to fill up the space created by the continuing weakening of the Congress or why the BJP at the centre and regional parties at the states are pushing the CPI-M towards irrelevance. He is also worried about dwindling membership in various frontal organizations of the party.
Karunakaran’s statement is a classic case of self-deception, a deadly virus which has affected a great section of the party leadership. The actual reasons for the CPI-M’s irrelevance lie in ossification of its ideology, a belief in the largely-rejected theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, rampant factionalism, corruption and cultivation of mediocrity as was witnessed in West Bengal, the party’s biggest laboratory for various experiments.
The National Election Studies (NES) provides an analytical picture of the Left’s electoral standing in present-day India. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Left as a whole, which includes not just the CPI-M but other like-minded parties CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP and the like, won 12 seats (of the Lok Sabha’s 543-elected seats) but commanded only 4.8 percent votes of the country – as against 10.6 percent in 1989.
Since 2004, when the Left bloc had won 62 Lok Sabha seats, its share of votes came down by more than half in 2014. Most importantly, there are no more any signs of Left influence in states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab, where the bloc previously had a good support base.
A comparative estimate of the Left’s electoral performance at the all-India level would show that there is not much justification behind Karunakaran’s sudden realization that the CPI-M is not doing well in states other than West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
In the rest of India, barring these three states, the Left is constantly on the retreat. From 13 Lok Sabha seats and 3.6 percent votes in 1989, it slumped to 9 seats and 2.6 percent votes in 1996, seven seats and 1.5 percent votes in 2004 and no seat with an abysmal 0.6 percent votes in 2014.
It is to be remembered here that 2004 was the high-water mark of Left politics in its traditional strongholds of the three states. Its performance in the rest of India in the same year points out that Sitaram Yechury and his comrades in the CPI-M and other Left parties can write off states other than West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Even in West Bengal, the Left parties are in shambles. This is because the bloc’s near absence at the all-India level has told upon its fortunes in West Bengal.
The Left is steadily losing its traditional voter base. So long, this hovered around 7 to 10 percent of total voters. In 2014, the figure came down to less than three percent. In 2014, less than five percent of skilled and service workers voted for them.
Among agricultural labourers, less than three percent voted for Left candidates. This should cause consternation among Left leaders that in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress had a 10 percent lead over the Left parties among skilled, semi-skilled urban workers and agricultural labourers.
For the CPI-M, the revival of party fortunes will be extremely difficult, even in West Bengal. Its dwindling strength has helped Mamata Banerjee leave the Left behind in the national political arena as well. Obviously, the CPI-M has lost credibility by speaking against neo-liberalism and at the same time following neo-liberal economic measures, whose main proponent was former chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee.(IANS)
Fashion's biggest extravaganza, The Met Gala 2021, made a comeback with a vengeance after a skip in 2020 due to the pandemic. The theme for this year's gala was 'In America: A Lexicon of Fashion', and as usual in attendance were a long list of celebrities including actors, musicians and sportpersons. Many fashion houses and celebrities chose to dazzle with the dark side of fashion as capes, leather, face masks and all kinds of drama unfolded at the event, as black ruling the red carpet with its darker vibe.
Met Gala regulars like Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Sharon Stone, Emily Blunt, Irina Shayk, Gigi Hadid and the Kardashian-Jenner siblings were spotted alongside debutantes like 18-year-old British tennis star Emma Raducanu who recently won the US Open, Rose Leslie from 'The Game of Thrones', gymnast Nia Dennis and Justin and Hailey Beiber who walked the Me carpet together for the first time.
The event is hosted by Vogue's Dame Anna Wintour and is held annually at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Here's a look at some of the stars who chose to walk on the darker side:
The event is hosted by Vogue's Dame Anna Wintour and is held annually at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City. | IANS
Keywords: Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Sharon Stone, Emily Blunt, Irina Shayk, Gigi Hadid, the Kardashian-Jenner, Emma Raducanu, Met Gala
Many young and middle-aged people today are dying of sudden heart attacks. Studies show that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) strike Indians a decade earlier compared to their Western counterparts. Why is this happening? How can we prevent it? Are we just focused on post-heart attack action? Or should we be focused more on prevention?
Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach -- Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine shares an input that could prevent heart attacks at a young age:
Cholesterol is not the culprit, inflammation is: Many people believe that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are the sole culprits behind their heart attacks. The main reasons behind most heart attacks are inflammation and oxidative damage in the heart, blood vessels, endothelial lining, arteries, and more. While maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important, we cannot blame heart attacks on cholesterol levels alone. What then can you do to keep inflammation in check and your heart strong? Adopt simple lifestyle changes.
Many people believe that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are the sole culprits behind their heart attacks. | Flickr
Switch from ordinary substandard cooking oils to cold-pressed oils: Refined oils are highly inflammatory and a threat to your heart. Using refined oils just to save some money isn't a wise idea. Choose the right quality and quantity of oil to boost your heart health. It might cost you a few extra bucks, but remember, your health is not a cost but an investment.
Refined oils are highly inflammatory and a threat to your heart. Using refined oils just to save some money isn't a wise idea. | Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash
Switch from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one: Even if you don't engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. Choose fun workouts that you enjoy -- dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, whatever it is, but keep that body moving. People who live a sedentary lifestyle are at high risk of heart attacks. Having said that, over-working out with little orno rest or recovery period is equally harmful. So, figure out the adequate level of activity your body needs and stick to it.
Even if you don't engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. | Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash
Don't take matters to your heart: Before renting out your heart space and mind space to a person, event or experience, ask yourself if it is worth it. While stress is inevitable, what sets a happy person apart from a stressed person is their capacity to diffuse and navigate stress and see things in a positive light. You can continue attending stress management classes and workshops, and while all of them can help you feel better for some time, the real change happens when you start changing your perspective towards life and how you relate to stress.Learn to accept and let go. Build your self-worth, create a beautiful inner world, reflect inwards, and allow these teachings to slip into your daily living.
Before renting out your heart space and mind space to a person, event or experience, ask yourself if it is worth it. |cPhoto by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Fix your sleep routine: There is nothing cool about pulling an all-nighter to work or socialize more. Your body only cares about survival. Remember, your sleep is your heart's free drug. The chronic deprivation of it can increase your risk of a heart attack. Your heart is a muscle that needs recovery. Lack of sleep increases your insulin resistance and makes you more prone to type-2 diabetes and a gamut of metabolic conditions. So, adopt a fixed sleeping schedule and sleep deep.
There is nothing cool about pulling an all-nighter to work or socialize more. | Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash
We cannot wait for more misfortunate incidents to realize the importance of lifestyle and start prioritizing it. We must wake up and work towards prevention. Many of us may go through heart disease later in life, no matter how well we exercise or eat clean. So, identify risk factors and work towards tackling them. Even if one of your risk factors is genetic predisposition and there is nothing you can do about it, you can still alter your lifestyle. Our intelligent human body was designed to fix and heal itself. The least we can do is invest in it and help it do its job effectively. Lifestyle can help you bridge this gap.
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: lifestyle, heart, oil, stress, sleep, human, body, health, heart attack
When it comes to burgers, its not just the patty that makes it all worthwhile... one can't forget the cheese or the crunchy lettuce either. In India, McDonald's ensures their burgers use the freshest produce, which means that don't use any ordinary lettuce. The iceberg variety was first introduced in India by McDonald's, as early as the 90s, at a time when not many people were familiar with lettuce and used cabbage instead. Lettuce is a key ingredient known for its crunch, its odourless and is ideal for salads, sandwiches and burgers.
The fast food giant collaborated with local Indian suppliers and pioneered the local production of iceberg lettuce in the country. Their lettuce undergoes 30 quality and food safety checks. After harvesting, the lettuce is pre-cooled to a temperate of below 40C at the farm gate to maintain its freshness. It is then transported in refrigerated vehicles to the world-class processing plant where it is shredded to a measured length and width and then washed and cleaned thoroughly before being vacuum-packed.
The fast food giant collaborated with local Indian suppliers and pioneered the local production of iceberg lettuce in the country | Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash
Today, the lettuce that goes into your favourite burger is produced at a pristine height of 10,000 feet under the rain shadow areas of the Himalayas in the Manali and Lahaul districts. Over the last 15 years, the farm base that produces lettuce for McDonald's menu items has grown from 5 acres to more than 100 acres. The process for growing lettuce is very rigorous and thoroughly monitored starting with the selection of seed variety, nursery production, fertigation, integrated pest management and post-harvest technology. Over the years, the company has continued to engage with local suppliers in good agricultural practices, meeting the Gold Standards of food safety and hygiene. It has transferred global best practices in irrigation, pest control, seed selection benefitting nearly 250 small and marginal farmers across the country. These practices ensure the right conditions for the iceberg lettuce to grow.
With over 60 years of experience in developing the best quality standards for the industry to follow, it continues to build and strengthen the foundation of good food practices and knowledge transfer, while serving great-tasting menu items at a value to its customers. "At McDonald's, we are committed to offering great tasting food using high quality ingredients to our customers. To offer the best to our esteemed customers, we take extra care in ensuring that the highest levels of hygiene and food safety are maintained at every step of how our food is produced, where its ingredients are sourced from and how it is processed . We are committed to responsible sourcing and supporting farmers community growing lettuce for us." said Rajeev Ranjan, COO, McDonald's India , North and East.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: burger, india, lettuce, McDonalds, locals, North, East