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A salesman cleans a cloth shop in Mumbai, India, June 8, 2020. India is reopening its restaurants, shopping malls and religious places in most of its states after a more than 2-month-old lockdown. VOA

India signaled that it is ready for business as shopping malls, religious places and offices reopened in most places Monday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

The world’s second most populous country is now the fifth most affected nation and health experts have warned that new infections will continue to ravage the country for weeks.

Even as they reopened, the worst-affected Indian cities took extra precautions amid fears that their health infrastructure can no longer cope with the daily spike in new infections.

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In the capital New Delhi, authorities said hotels will continue to remain shut in case they have to be converted into temporary hospitals. “Our cases are rising each day; we could run out of beds,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

Mumbai was even more cautious – it kept shopping malls shut and allowed offices to reopen with only ten percent staff. Although authorities put buses back on streets, train services, the city’s lifeline, are still suspended.

A beautician wearing protective gear tends to a customer wearing a protective face shield inside a parlor at a shopping mall in Ahmedabad, India, June 8, 2020. VOA

Strict new rules in public places include temperature screening, wearing masks and maintaining a distance of at least two meters.

The Indian government has been under pressure to ease the stringent ten-week lockdown that has extracted a huge economic price, especially on poor people.

But in a signal that India’s economic recovery will be tough, some businesses said they are not ready to open shutters despite the green signal from the government. Among them are restaurants that are significant job creators.

Priyank Sukhija, the chief executive of First Fiddle Restaurants, who has several restaurants in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, said he will “wait and watch” before reopening. This is partly because he feels safety concerns will keep customers away while infections are spiking, and partly because of new rules that require restaurants to shut early and restrictions on serving liquor.

“For bar-oriented restaurants, a majority of our sales comes from liquor. If we cannot sell liquor and have to shut by 9 pm, then we are not even looking at 5 to 10 percent business of our pre-Covid era. That spells doom,” said Sukhija.

Amid the record daily spikes witnessed in recent days, not many people are venturing out. Only a handful of devotees turned up to offer prayers in temples, mosques and Sikh holy shrines, where throngs of worshipers used to be a common sight before coronavirus made people shun crowds.

At the historic Jama Mosque in New Delhi, the carpet was replaced with floor markings to ensure social distancing among worshipers. Traditions such as touching idols and holy books or customary offerings of food and holy water have been temporarily stopped.

India had reported more than a quarter of a million cases by Sunday but many health experts believe the number is much higher due to low levels of testing — the country of 1.3 billion people has tested less than one percent of its population. More than 7,000 people have died due to coronavirus.

Muslims pray as they maintain social distancing inside Juma Masjid in Ahmedabad after the opening of most of the religious places as India eases lockdown restrictions, June 8, 2020. VOA

Also Read: Dutch Club Attempts to Resume Post-Pandemic Nightlife

The numbers will continue to rise exponentially for several weeks as infections will only peak by end of July or early August, according to several health experts.

While the lockdown gave time to authorities to prepare the health infrastructure, it could not halt the spread of infections because only the middle class and rich people could observe certain guidelines like social distancing, according to prominent virologist Jacob John, who had warned in April that India will have to cope with an “avalanche.”

“Every city has some corner where no lockdown will work, because people live in one-room houses. Lockdown means nothing to them, they sometimes even wash and cook in the street. So it was a very leaky lockdown,” says John. “Lifting of the lockdown should have happened two months ago, it is already too late.” (VOA)


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A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.

Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.

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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Clean and maintained hands boost confidence in daily life activities.

If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.

Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:

* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.

Soap bars organic You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

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