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Everyone is a soldier in this war against coronavirus

Union & state governments are taking every possible measure but the role of common man is extremely important
It goes without saying that the situation due to coronavirus is very critical at the moment. Experts say that we are fast moving towards stage-3. If we failed to check the spread of corona now, the very thought of what would happen in India appears frightening. Even the powerful nations like the US, the UK and Europe have failed to resolve the mystery behind this dangerous gift given by China. According to the Worldometer, the deadly virus has killed more than 31,000 people worldwide and the death count is constantly going up. I was listening to a video message of an Indian origin doctor who is taking care of corona patients in a hospital in New York. She said she was faced with a dilemma. For, she has such an acute shortage of ventilators that sometimes there is just one ventilator for three patients. In such a situation, it is difficult to decide whom to put on ventilator. Same is the case with Italy and Spain. Just think what will happen if coronavirus wreaks havoc in our country? We all know well where we stand vis-a-vis medical infrastructure.
I am upset and worried that many people in our country are still not taking this pandemic seriously.
Despite the enforcement of lockdown in the country and appeal to stay home, many people are seen gathering outside in large numbers. It is not known who is infected and who is not. People themselves do not know, so it is obvious that if a person is infected, he will transmit this virus to others as well. Actually many people don’t realise their duty and responsibility. If they see police on the street, they follow the lockdown, but if there are no policemen, people don’t hesitate to gather and discuss coronavirus. How do we deal with this irony? Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and chief ministers of other states are also doing tremendous work. From the chief secretary to home secretary and their teams, all are working day and night. Everywhere in the country, our doctors, nurses, ward boys and paramedical staff are working round the clock. They have not gone home and are busy treating patients in the hospitals 24x7 risking their own life. I had mentioned about all these corona warriors in my previous column. They deserve our highest praise. The whole country will remain indebted to them.
Whenever this pandemic would be chronicled in the history, the names of all these people associated with the medical fraternity would surely be mentioned with respect and reverence.
We all need to understand that fighting this war against corona is not the responsibility of government or the people associated with the medical field only. It is the duty of every citizen of the country to cooperate in winning this war. Every citizen of the country is in the role of a soldier in this war. And the role is to stay at home. I salute those who are playing their part wholeheartedly, but those who are unnecessarily coming out of their houses are, in true sense, enemies of the entire humanity. And yes, the unscrupulous traders who are black-marketing the essential commodities in this hard time are also enemies of the entire society, country and the humanity. There is an acute shortage of masks and sanitizers. Packaged flour has disappeared from the market. The government should take such a stern action against these black marketers that even their future generations should not dare think of black marketing. At the same time, I urge the government and voluntary organisations to take care of people who are hungry and those who have set out on foot to return to their homes hundreds of miles away. I request the governments of all the states that wherever such people are found, lodging and boarding arrangements for them should be made and they should also be tested for coronavirus. I would definitely like to mention D Sivanandan, who runs a roti bank and makes arrangements for three square meals for poor and destitute people. After his mother died recently, he performed her last rites and immediately came back to feed the poor. We need such dedicated people.
I understand that it is very difficult for the working people to stay at home. But mind you, if you are going out, you are actually going to bring coronavirus home.
On account of my profession, I travel a lot and generally stay in contact with a lot of people. But these days, I am fully honouring the lockdown - not meeting anyone and doing all the work using phone and internet. Thus, I am playing the role of a soldier in this war against corona. Therefore, my humble request to you is to stay at home. If you will remain safe, the country will be safe too. Enjoy time with your family. I thank the Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar who has started airing the popular epic serials Ramayan and Mahabharat on Doordarshan. These serials are beyond caste and religion and teach the art of living. They teach respect and a sense of justice for the humanity. Also, try to get your hawker to deliver the newspaper to you because newspapers are the best medium for reliable news.
Stay away from rumours. Stay cool, stay healthy. Rahat Indauri has rightly said: Ek ek kar abhi havaa mein ud jayenge 21 din..!
Before I concludeIn my article titled ‘Politics has knocked bottom out of anti-defection law’ on March 16, 2020, I had mentioned that Gaya Lal, the then MLA from Haryana, had left Congress and joined Janata Party. Actually, Janata Party was mentioned due to dictation error. In fact, Gaya Lal had joined Sanyukta Vidhayak Dal, which was merged into Janata Party after the latter’s formation.
Vijay Darda
Lokmat Media
Everyone is a soldier in this war against coronavirus
Everyone is a soldier in this war against coronavirus
Everyone is a soldier in this war against coronavirus

Prevention only option we have at hand

Coronavirus has landed the whole world in crisis, but India faces a very serious threat!
Although China, where coronavirus originated, has almost overcome this deadly virus, it is wreaking havoc in other countries across the world. The situation in Italy, Iran and Spain is worst. Things are no better in other countries from Europe to America. This is the condition of the countries where people do not interact much. They are equipped with modern medical facilities. Despite this, they are unable to control coronavirus, so the question is, where do we stand?
We have China for comparison because in terms of population, we are almost the same, but the area of China is three times bigger than ours. When we look at the density of population, our situation seems more serious. India’s population is more than 138 crore while that of China is 143 crore. If we calculate, population density in China comes to 147 people per square kilometre whereas in India, it is more than 400! China completely locked down Wuhan as soon as coronavirus was discovered and sanitised it. Are we able to do this? Do we have so many facilities and requisite resources?
There is no doubt that our doctors, nurses, ward boys, paramedical staff and our officers are not only competent but also fully dedicated to their job. The way they are working under the present circumstances is worthy of highest commendation. We also have a health minister like Rajesh Tope in Maharashtra who, despite his mother’s hospitalisation, is monitoring the healthcare facilities day and night in the war against coronavirus. I also praise Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for exercising maximum vigilance and taking immediate decision to curb the spread of the deadly virus. I salute Pune’s divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar, collector Naval Kishore Ram and Yavatmal collector M Devender Singh, who galvanised themselves into action with the news of coronavirus and left no stone unturned to control the situation. I also salute the journalists of electronic and print media, hawkers who carry newspapers to your homes and all the media employees who are working fearlessly in this hour of crisis so that authentic news reaches the people.
But the question is, in case the stage of corona continues to rise and the virus reaches villages through small towns, do we have enough resources to handle the situation? I suggest that the villagers should lockdown their villages to prevent the corona from spreading. However, even in cities, the capacity needed to handle the situation is not sufficient. Let me tell you that the density of population in Mumbai is so much that as many as 21000 people live per square kilometre! But I will discuss healthcare services sometime later.
Right now I am shocked to read the news carried by an international news agency that India has the capacity to conduct 8000 tests per day but compared to capacity, fewer tests are being carried out. This report is dated March 18. By that day, only 11500 tests were conducted and by March 22, only 17000 tests have been conducted. The number of tests per day may have increased a bit, but it is not enough. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan are very small countries compared to ours but millions of tests have been conducted in those countries. South Korea almost controlled the corona by carrying out tests. Even those who do not have symptoms of the disease are being tested. Of course, people there have extended their cooperation too in breaking the chain of virus.
Significantly, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about restraint and determination. If the responsibility of the government is to arrange for a large number of investigations, it is the responsibility of the people not to step out of house unnecessarily. If you have a common cough, cold and fever, contact the doctor immediately and keep yourselves away from others. We are natives of ‘Devbhoomi’ and do many things believing in the almighty. But we should hope that people will understand the seriousness of the situation and follow in toto the advices of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. The success of ‘Janata Curfew’ is a good sign too.
It will take some time, but we will definitely win this war against corona. But after that, a second war will stare us in the face which corona will leave behind. And that will be the economic crisis, which India is already in. So the challenge is even more serious. Intellectual industrialist Anand Mahindra has rightly said that we will win the war against corona but winning recession after that will be a great challenge.
I would like to say two more things. One is that in cities which have been locked down, the number of people who depend on daily wages is very large. It is also necessary to consider the industries which are getting destroyed due to corona crisis. And the second thing is that we have to gear ourselves up to deal with every kind of crisis, that is focus on disaster management. Last year in Odisha at the time of cyclonic storm Fani, the disaster management machinery performed so well that the damage was almost non-existent. Today the whole world is studying that disaster management concept. We will also have to prepare the strategy on that line to fight the present biological crisis.
However, don’t be afraid of coronavirus. Take care of yourself and maintain cleanliness around you. We will definitely win this war!
Vijay Darda
Lokmat Media

Think of families devastated in riots

 CAA did not take away anyone’s

citizenship but the violence over it left

dozens of persons dead, hundreds


At present I am abroad. There are two burning topics of discussion here. One is that India is developing a vaccine for tackling coronavirus and the second relates to the communal conflagration that has engulfed the national capital. Here my acquaintances are asking me about the communal riots in the country’s capital Delhi? Your country is not known for all this. I try to explain them the situation but often I run out of logic.
My heart is crying out for those innocent souls who have suffered in this violence.
I think as to what is the total capital of a person vending vegetables or fruits on his cart? It must be Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000 at the most. At the end of the day, he earns Rs 100 or Rs 200 and somehow feeds his family. Just imagine that some day a radical mob emerges from nowhere and burns his cart to cinder; now what will that person do the next day? A man pulls a rickshaw for a living and some day a mob of rioters running riot on the streets kills his 15-year-old son. Just imagine what will be left in that person’s life after that?
All this has happened in the country’s capital Delhi! Hundreds of families have been ruined. More than 40 people were killed and over two hundred people were seriously wounded. Shops were torched and hundreds of vehicles were burnt in the communal riots that engulfed the national capital. Simply put, life is sobbing in several localities of northeast Delhi and no one is willing to officially say who did it all.
Whose conspiracy it was? The whole country knows the leaders who vitiated the atmosphere with their hateful words. The entire country heard the statements that attempted to destroy harmony, but no FIR was registered against them.
It is surprising that the government says that it is not the right time to file a case against those who made inflammatory speeches! Why is it not the right time? If someone has given an incendiary speech, it should under no circumstances be viewed from a religious perspective. He should be seen as a criminal and treated as per the law of our country.
As far as the law is concerned, the whole country is surprised that for the first two days, why did the Delhi Police not take action to stop the violence? The police machinery did not act even after police head-constable Ratan Lal and Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma were killed by the rioters. The question that arises is how could any leader continue his diatribe and challenge the police? The way the large-scale violence has taken place shows that preparations must have been made beforehand. The large-scale firing by the rioters indicated a large criminal conspiracy.
Did Delhi Police not get a clue? If not then it is even more dangerous. When this is the state of affairs in the national capital Delhi, imagine what will happen to other cities of the country? The question is serious because criminals have engineered this riot.
It included criminal elements from both sides. And the end result was that the common man from both the sides suffered. Surely planned attempts were made to sow hatred among people in Delhi, but it is a matter of relief that humanity persisted and won even in the midst of such virulent conflagration. In Mustafabad area, a woman named Manju Saraswat was rescued by Muslim youths from the clutches of radical rioters and she was sheltered at Momin Saifi’s house. Similarly, a Muslim girl was saved by a woman named Pinky Gupta. Haji Noor Mohammad got anxious when his family members informed him that the rioters had surrounded the locality from all sides. He was in Saudi Arabia. He spoke to several of his relatives over phone but no one was ready to go there. Then he remembered his friend Puran Chugh. Noor Mohammed called Chugh who without wasting time, reached Haji Noor Mohammad’s house. It was not easy to reach there amidst riots. Chugh not only rescued the family of Noor Mohammad, but also saved another family and safely took them to the house of their relatives.
Such reassuring humanitarian stories amidst the communal conflagration tell us that hatred has not ingrained so deep that it can destroy humanity.
Actually this is our biggest strength. Some fanatic forces keep trying to disturb the communal harmony from time to time, but the humanity inside us, our social concern and mutual brotherhood win every time. I have always believed that our religion is our personal belief which instills values in our life, but the biggest religion is humanity. No religion in the world ever teaches hate, let alone violence. Believe me those who try to incite violence in the name of religion and indulge in violence have no religion. They are no more than criminals. Such criminals should be dealt with so strictly that they can never instigate violence again.
And yes, we all must take enough care to see that no one can sow the seeds of hatred among us. Unity is our identity and unity is our strength. So stay together, stay alert and stay vigilant!
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May the festival of colours be a celebration of harmony!

Holi is not just a festival but also a representative festival of our social harmony and vibrant culture
The coronavirus is playing havoc all over the world, making us all jittery. Amidst this atmosphere of fear and worry, we will all be celebrating the most beloved festival, Holi, tomorrow! Holi is the festival of colours. It is a festival of sprinkling colours to cheer up. Given the fear factor in the air due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the question inevitably pops up in the mind as to what one should do? I think we all just need to be on the alert. And yes, celebration is that which springs from within us. It is not necessary that we indulge in chemical colours or apply it to others. What can be more better than a dry Holi?
And yes, Holi has come at a time when the Delhi riots have already troubled all of us. The riots have aggrieved our souls. Therefore, it is important that we use this Holi to make everyone drench with colours of love and affection. Holi is not just a festival of colours, but also a representative festival of our social harmony, brotherhood and deep rooted culture. This is our cultural heritage. It is a festival to eradicate social discrimination. Holi is the day when caste and religion vanish into thin air. The new era poet Sanjay Verma ‘Drishti’ rightly says:
Rango ki koi jaat nahin hoti,
Bhaichare ke desh mein dushmani ki baat nahin hoti,
Ye khel hain prem ki Holi ka,
Milkar rehte hain isliye takrao ki baat nahin hoti.
The timeless tradition of India has taught us that on Holi, even enemies need to embrace each other, forget all their grievances and become friends. So this means the deeper the colour of friendship, the more differences will be destroyed. There are many stories about the tradition of celebrating Holi, but I feel that this festival must have been designed to drench the society with the colours of love and affection. This is an ancient festival, but even today we celebrate it with gaiety as it is based on human beings’ love for colours.
Holi was celebrated even by the Aryans. Holi is chronicled in the ancient scripts and texts of Narada Purana and Bhavishya Purana. Holi also finds a mention in the travelogue of the famous Muslim traveller Al-Biruni. It was the miracle of colours of Holi that the festival remained colourful even during the Mughal era. The story of Akbar’s Holi with Jodha Bai and Jahangir playing Holi with Noor Jahan is also recorded in history. Holi was called Eid-e-Gulabi and Aab-e-Pashi (shower of colours) during Shah Jahan era. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar used to be daubed with colours by his ministers on the occasion of Holi. I am referring to history here to stress the fact that we all know and understand how much Holi has contributed to the promotion of brotherhood and harmony.
Even Muslim poets and lyricists have written a lot of compositions about Holi. There is hardly any Indian who is not aware of this composition of Nazir Akbarabadi:

Jab Falgun rang jhamakte hon tab dekh baharen Holi ki,
Aur daf ke shor khadakte hon tab dekh baharen Holi ki,
Pariyon ke rang damakte hon tab dekh baharen Holi ki,
Kuch ghunghru taal chhanakte hon tab dekh baharen Holi ki.

This composition of Nazir Akbarabadi is about 250 years old. Similarly, the lyrics of Nazi Banarasi on Holi some eighty years ago is no less amazing:

Kahin pade na mohabbat ki maar Holi mein,
Adaa se prem karo dil se pyar Holi mein,
Gale mein daal do bahon ka haar Holi mein,
Utaaro ek baras ka khumaar Holi mein,
Milo gale se gale baar baar Holi mein.

This hug is actually a symbol of removing hatred and spreading the colour of friendship in the society. So, this Holi, we should make the colour of friendship so strong, spread the love of Gulal so far that there will be no room for hatred! The true colours of happiness and life will then become a celebration! Keep in mind that there is no other colour in this world better than the colour of humanity.
So, wish you all a very Happy Holi! Stay healthy, stay happy!
May the festival of colours be a celebration of harmony!
May the festival of colours be a celebration of harmony!
May the festival of colours be a celebration of harmony!

None can doubt valour of women

The Supreme Court’s decision to give command post to women in the Army will definitely prove to be a milestone for the nation
In an epoch-making decision, the Supreme Court has handed down a straightforward verdict that will write a new text on the canvas of time. The court said women can also take command posts in the Army like men. Command post means to lead a contingent. Simply put, women will get the opportunity to participate in the war directly. There are women in the Indian Army but they were not given command posts till now.
Actually, the Delhi High Court had handed down the verdict in 2010 but the government did not approve it. The government’s arguments were very strange. It stated that women have less physical capacity. They may stay away from work for a long time due to pregnancy. They handle household chores and family responsibilities, therefore cannot handle the challenges of military. Unfortunately, if they become prisoners of war, it will be a stressful situation.
One of the government’s arguments was completely incomprehensible that most of the men in the Army come from rural areas, so they would not be able to accept women as their counterparts!
Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Rastogi set aside government’s arguments. The court rightly said that women cannot be treated unfairly due to social perceptions. The government suffers from bias in this matter. When women can fly fighter aircraft, why can’t they lead a contingent in the Army? Doubting the physical ability of women is an insult not only to them but also to the Army. The apex court has now given three months to implement the verdict and we should hope that the government will give women equal rights and opportunities in the Army.
Nonetheless, we must consider why women have to face injustice in other echelons of life as well though in my view women are more capable than men. After all, we men too have been brought into the world by women. In recent times, I have seen that even in Maharashtra, which is called an advanced state, hurdles were created in the path of women becoming commissioner of police and chief secretary. Why, after all?
In fact, our governments have also been plagued by prejudice. This should not be tolerated in any case.
Our history is full of instances of bravery and courage of women. The story of Rani Lakshmibai’s heroism is still in the mind of every Indian even after 162 years. The world still remembers the courage of Jijabai, the mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Kalpana Chawla, the daughter of India, who took a giant leap into space. However, I would like to discuss here only those women military officers who were mentioned in the petition filed in the Supreme Court. Who can forget Major Mitali Madhumita? She has been awarded the Army Medal for bravery. When the Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked in February 2010, she saved 19 persons buried under the debris. How can Lieutenant Colonel Sophia Qureshi be underestimated? She was the first woman to lead an Indian Army contingent in a major foreign military operation. She also served in Congo under the Peace Mission. Lieutenant Colonel Anuvandana Jaggi has been awarded the United Nations Force Commanders Commendation Award due to her exceptional abilities. Lieutenant Bhavna Kasturi and Captain Tanya Shergill have led a troop of men in the Republic Day and Army Day parades. How can we forget the names of brave officers like Ashwini Pawar, Shipra Mazumdar, Divya Ajit Kumar, Gopika Bhatti, Madhu Rana and Anuja Yadav. They have proved their passion.
I am confident that our women will give a befitting reply to the enemy in the battlefield.
Wherever women in the world have got an opportunity, they have demonstrated their indomitable courage. The world has seen what the Yazidi women of Iraq have done to the terrorists of the Islamic State in recent years. In the Second World War, the Soviet Union dispatched women to the battlefield though now women are not allowed in Russia. When the United States and Britain sent their troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, the women’s contingent was also with them. Although the women of the two countries were not allowed to join the war at that time, the situation became such that the women contingent had to go into battlefield and about one hundred women got martyred. In 2013, American women and in 2016 Britain’s women were allowed to join the war.
By the way, Israel, North Korea, Norway, Finland, Sweden, France, Canada, Germany, Poland and Australia are among the countries where women are allowed to join the war. Norway then started the Jegertroppen in 2014. It is a group of female soldiers. You can call them super commandos. It has proved its bravery in Afghanistan. And as far as Indian women are concerned, they have the courage and patience of a lioness. They are second to none!
Vijay Darda
Lokmat Media
None can doubt valour of women
None can doubt valour of women
None can doubt valour of women

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