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By Rajesh Ghosh
The 1999 General Elections took place under some sort of a national security crisis as the Indian Army had only a month ago claimed victory over the Pakistani army. Earlier that year one vote proved too much for the Vajpayee-led government as it lost the confidence vote just by that margin.
The elections, therefore, were a test of the robustness of the Indian democracy. Under such tremendous upheaval, the BJP-led NDA came out victorious.
The following five years under the leadership of Vajpayee was, in many ways, monumental for India not only economically but also politically.
In view of his achievements and widely appreciated statesmanship, the Modi-led government declared, last year, that December 25 (Vajpayee’s birthday), would be observed as ‘Good Governance Day.’
Having taken into cognizance the relevance of the day, let us walk back into the intrigue of history and discover the major achievements of Vajpayee, the statesman.
On the economic front, the Vajpayee government continued with the economic liberalization initiated by the Narasimha Rao government a decade back. The unprecedented economic growth witnessed in India from 2004, after the end of his term, is on many accounts a result of the major structural changes brought about his government.
The process of privatization saw a major boost during his period, especially in the telecom sector with spectrums being sold, for the first time, to private players with the aim of improving quality. The Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), then a major public sector telecom company, was privatized, opening the sector to competition.
Other major achievements included information technology, industrial parks and special economic zones (SEZ) across the country which have since bore major fruits for the country.
His vision went beyond India as he saw the importance of bringing on board the Indian diaspora, for they were a major source of investment and economic growth. To realize this, he launched the ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Saman’ in honor of the diaspora.
But his major economic achievements, which were also his pet projects, were the National Development Highway Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Accepting this achievement, the UPA in 2013 admitted before the Supreme Court that in the five years under Vajpayee nearly 50% of the total length of National Highway in 32 years was constructed.
On the foreign policy front, his work was cut out by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the freshly concluded three-month war with Pakistan. But it’s during these adverse times the statesmanship of a leader is truly tested. And he passed these with flying colors.
In early 2000 he welcomed President Bill Clinton in a first bilateral engagement at the highest level in 22 years. It also came close at the heels of the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998, which was strongly condemned by the US.
This was seen by many as a major achievement by Vajpayee as it symbolically represented the gradually changing US foreign policy, which till then had isolated India. It brought about major breakthroughs in the economic and trade ties between the two nations. Further engagement with the US in his term laid the foundations for the milestone nuclear agreement which was later, in 2008, inked by Dr Manmohan Singh.
But his foreign policy highlight was his initiation in the thawing of the frozen Indo-Pak relations after Kargil. His gesture of inviting Parvez Musharraf, who presided over the Kargil war and had subsequently become Prime Minister after orchestrating a coup, was hailed within the foreign policy circles. The visit, however, achieved little in concrete outcomes.
His second term as Prime Minister also saw a raft of crises in foreign affairs ranging from the hijacking of an Air India aircraft in 1999 to the Parliament attack in 2001. Both these events brought India perilously close to a military expedition. But his statesmanlike acumen handled these crises with impeccable resilience.
Vajpayee the politician also had another side to him which molded him into a unique political leader. He was also a renowned poet. In Vajpayee’s words – “My poetry is a declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier’s drumbeat of despair, but the fighting warrior’s will to win. It is not the dispirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory.”
On this spirited note as we remember the good governance of Vajpayee, the statesman and poet, let us strive to learn and adapt his policies to suit the contemporary challenges. (image courtesy: mptravelogue.com)
Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.
Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K, and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.
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This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one's body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil's volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.
In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one's gut health, may complete one's fiber quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol.
The herb has rounded leaves.Pixabay
There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It is a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves, basil makes a colorful and flavorful addition to many different dishes.
It has been observed that many of the cooks use basil to thicken their dessert instead of using any artificial/ unhealthy powder to do so. Sometimes people are not able to differentiate between Chia seeds and basil seeds, to make it clear basil seeds are different in nature they are larger and a bit duller in their color. These herbs are used in various recipes as a cooling component in desserts, drinks, and fruit juices for refreshment, also beating the summer heat.
For better digestion, weight loss, and immune system, I suggest this simple recipe which can be easily made at home:
*Take 2 tsp of Basil seeds (sabja) + Add in 1/2 liter of water +10 mint leaves crushed
*1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + A little bit of sendha salt (pink Himalayan salt)
*Or to make a sweeter version one can add organic honey.
*Mix it well and drink it.
This recipe will help to flush out toxins from our body making it feel light and healthy. (IANS/SP)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)