Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Gandhinagar: With more than half its population of 63.8 million going to the polls on November 22 and 29, the elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat will be a major popularity test for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
Anandiben Patel will face her first full-scale election after taking over as chief minister from her mentor and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. There were some assembly and local body by-elections last year, which produced a mixed bag of results.
The local body elections will be held with the state’s first woman chief minister in office for close to two years. Since the electorate of 35.5 million will be from both urban and rural areas, the results will be a referendum on her rule without Modi around. The term of the present state assembly expires in December 2017.
Agreeing that the elections will be a true test, the seniormost minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel told IANS: “Every election is an acid test. Our party has begun preparations for the polls and has started the process to select candidates.”
Anandiben Patel is confident that people will again repose faith in the Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress however seems confident of overcoming the BJP challenge.
Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki says: “We are exposing the failure of the BJP in municipalities. There is dirt, filth, corruption, everywhere. These are the real issues.”
Another task was to consolidate the Congress rank and file and iron out differences,says Solanki
According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, polling will be held first on November 22 for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, all of which are controlled by the BJP, and have 9.49 million eligible voters. The votes will be counted on November 26.
The terms of two other newly-created municipal corporations of Gandhinagar and Junagadh, also under BJP rule, expire after six months and four years respectively.
The November 29 voting will be for 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, 56 nagarpalikas (municipalities) and 31 district panchayats. The vote count is due on December 2.
There are 3.66 million voters in the municipalities, while the taluka panchayats account for the largest electorate of 22.3 million voters. The mandate from the taluka panchayat areas is considered crucial since they comprise a mix of urban and rural population.
At present, the BJP controls 150 taluka panchayats, 42 municipalities and 30 district panchayats, excluding that of tribal-dominated Tapi in south Gujarat which is with the Congress.
The uncanny nervousness in the BJP government was evident when it promulgated an ordinance postponing the local body elections citing law and order concerns in the wake of the agitation by the Patel community.
The BJP had to face these elections after the State Election Commission was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court, which described as unconstitutional the move to put off the electoral process. It wondered why elections to local bodies could not be held when polling could be conducted in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.
It is indeed good news that the book showcasing the wisdom of India in the eyes of Western intellectuals is getting due recognition and appreciation from other states and abroad. After Karnataka and Punjab, the Government of Assam has recently consented to translate the research-based book by Shillong-based author - Shri Salil Gewali titled "Great Minds on India". The Chief Minister of Assam - Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma was amazed to know that so many top western scientists and philosophers have drawn a considerable amount of inspiration from ancient scriptures of India, particularly in the studies of modern physics, linguistic and astronomy. In the recent meeting with the author, the Chief Minister had highly appreciated Gewali's book and promised to read it thoroughly. Gewali's book was also approved for translation in the year 2020 by the former Chief Minister – Shri Sarbananda Sonowal but due to COVID-19, the translation work was delayed.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
Furthermore, the two scholars from Canada --- Dr Hema Murty -- Air Space Engineer at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Harsh H Thakkar of Sheridan College of Brampton, Ontario have sought permission from Mr. Gewali for the translation of 'Great Minds on India' into the Sanskrit language. After the translation, the Sanskrit edition will be published and circulated and utilized by Samskrita Bharati of Canada, besides its other branches in India, USA and UK. Gewali says that the book that has been praised by countless scholars and publication by the Government of Karnataka and Punjab has so far been translated into thirteen languages, including German.
'Great Minds of India' by Salil Gewali is an impressive compact book discussing the power that Indian ancient wisdomFile
A university scholar from Winchester, United Kingdom - Ms. Janet Murphy remarks:
" 'Great Minds of India' by Salil Gewali is an impressive compact book discussing the power that Indian ancient wisdom, thought and way of life had an impact on western minds, especially those who are of great historical significance, such as Voltaire, Albert Einstein, Ralph Emerson, Julius Robert Oppenheimer, Mark Twain, HG Wells et al. It is hoped all right-thinking scholars will find Gewali's work extremely applaudable."
BEIJING — Chinese organizers have confirmed participants in next year's Winter Olympics will be strictly isolated from the general population and could face expulsion for violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Vice mayor and Beijing 2022 organizing committee official Zhang Jiandong told reporters Wednesday that those taking part in the games beginning Feb. 4 must remain in a "closed loop" for training, competing, transport, dining and accommodation.
A strict Olympic bubble has long been on the books, but Beijing has now made it official in keeping with its zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic. Athletes and other participants will also be tested regularly for the coronavirus before and during the Games. Family, spectators and sponsors from outside the country will not be allowed to attend.
"All participants of the Games and our Chinese staff and volunteers will implement the same policy," Zhang said. "They will be strictly separated from the external society.
"Those who do not comply with the epidemic prevention regulations may face severe consequences such as warning, temporary or permanent cancellation of registration, temporary or permanent disqualification or expulsion from the competition, and other punishment."
All participants must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to their departure for China.
China has enforced strict rules on mask wearing, quarantines and contact tracing that have largely succeeded in eliminating the local transmission of COVID-19, but imported cases and domestic infections continue to appear in daily reports.
"Indeed, epidemic prevention and control is the biggest challenge for us to host the Winter Olympic Games," Zhang told a news conference.
Wednesday marked 100 days until the Beijing Games. Organizers have held test events featuring international athletes at Olympic venues under strict conditions.
Japan imposed restrictive rules and an Olympic bubble during the July 23-Aug. 8 Summer Games in Tokyo, which had been postponed by 12 months because of the pandemic. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: China, Winter Olympics, Closed Loop, Epidemic Prevention
A cheap antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19 in a study that was looking for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.
Researchers tested the pill used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.
They've shared the results with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which publishes treatment guidelines, and they hope for a World Health Organization recommendation.
"If WHO recommends this, you will see it widely taken up," said study co-author Dr. Edward Mills of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, adding that many poor nations have the drug readily available. "We hope it will lead to a lot of lives saved."
The pill, called fluvoxamine, would cost $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about $2,000 and Merck's experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about $700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus.
Researchers tested the antidepressant in nearly 1,500 Brazilians recently infected with coronavirus who were at risk of severe illness because of other health problems, such as diabetes. About half took the antidepressant at home for 10 days, the rest got dummy pills. They were tracked for four weeks to see who landed in the hospital or spent extended time in an emergency room when hospitals were full.
In the group that took the drug, 11% needed hospitalization or an extended ER stay, compared to 16% of those on dummy pills.
The results, published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Global Health, were so strong that independent experts monitoring the study recommended stopping it early because the results were clear.
Questions remain about the best dosing, whether lower risk patients might also benefit and whether the pill should be combined with other treatments.
The larger project looked at eight existing drugs to see if they could work against the pandemic virus. The project is still testing a hepatitis drug, but all the others — including metformin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin — haven't panned out.
The cheap generic and Merck's COVID-19 pill work in different ways and "may be complementary," said Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. Earlier this month, Merck asked regulators in the U.S. and Europe to authorize its antiviral pill. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Antidepressant, Early COVID, Pandemic, Testing project