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Karnataka Journalists To Be Vaccinated On Priority As Frontline Workers

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Karnataka Journalists To Be Vaccinated On Priority As Frontline Workers


Karnataka Journalists To Be Vaccinated On Priority As Frontline Workers

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said journalists will be treated as Covid frontline workers.

Bengaluru:

The Karnataka government has declared all journalists in the state as frontline workers and will consider them for priority vaccination against COVID-19, state Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.

The move comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the state — 44,631 cases were recorded today, with 20,870 cases in Bengaluru alone.

“Our government has decided to consider journalists as frontline workers and accord priority in vaccination against Covid-19,” the chief minister said in a tweet today. The journalists will get the vaccine shot free of cost.

The chief minister, however, asked journalists not to cover incidents in a manner which creates fear among people. “There is a health emergency situation in the state as well as the country. It is the responsibility of the media to point out flaws and shortcomings but showing one issue continuously will create fear among people,” Mr Yediyurappa said after a special cabinet meeting.

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh are some of the other states which have declared journalists as Covid warriors and announced various benefits for them, including priority vaccination against coronavirus.

The states have said that journalists have been taking grave risks in covering the pandemic from the ground, and they need to be protected from the virus.

Karnataka, along with Maharashtra and Delhi, is among the 10 states that account for 71.71 per cent of the 3,57,229 new COVID-19 cases in the country, the Union Health Ministry said today.

A state Covid ministerial task force meeting was held today, during which several other decisions were taken to tackle the pandemic and address issues like shortage of medical oxygen and beds. It was decided that ministers will be appointed to supervise the oxygen and Remdesivir supply, bed availability and Covid Call centres and war rooms.

Several hospitals in Bengaluru have been sending out appeals for oxygen, some of them even asking patients, who have already been admitted, to find a bed elsewhere as they are running out of the life-giving gas.

Amid widespread demand to treat journalists as frontline workers and give them preference in vaccination, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, quoting from a report, on Sunday had said that 165 Indian journalists have lost their lives to Covid so far.





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UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey, says Greenpeace

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UK plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey, says Greenpeace



Greenpeace says it found plastic waste from UK supermarkets dumped and burned at numerous sites.



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With the deaths of its pillars Anil Dharker and Shashi Baliga, what lies ahead for Tata Litlive?

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With the deaths of its pillars Anil Dharker and Shashi Baliga, what lies ahead for Tata Litlive?


It was early spring in 2021 when British journalist Georgina Brown had a final email exchange with her dear friend, Anil Dharker. They had been discussing possible guests from the UK for the next edition of Mumbai’s popular Tata Literature Live! festival – an annual event in November that Dharker had successfully launched a decade ago.

Brown, whose husband Crispin Simon was then Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner for Western India, had become involved with the festival shortly after her arrival in Mumbai in late 2017. She and Dharker bonded quickly over their shared love for the arts and the fact that Brown, a respected theatre critic, had reviewed his daughter Ayesha Dharker’s versatile acting performances on the London stage.

The coronavirus pandemic had forced Lit Live! into a fully virtual avatar in 2020. But in February 2021, India’s Ministry of Health announced that SARS-Cov-2 infections were at an all-time low. Things were starting to look up, and Dharker and his team were hopeful of a physical festival come November.

Brown and Dharker were especially keen to host Northern Irish author Maggie O’Farrell, whose prize-winning novel Hamnet – a fictional account of the short life of Shakespeare’s son, set in sixteenth century England’s era of plague – seemed a particularly apt work to showcase in this age of Covid-19.

In a tragic and unexpected turn of events, Dharker died of a heart ailment on March 26, 2021.

Anil Dharker (extreme right).

Soon afterwards, India plunged into its worst crisis in recent history. In early April, a deadly tsunami – or what has come to be known as the second wave – of the coronavirus swept across India. Amongst its victims was Dharker’s formidable right hand, Literature Live! Executive Director Shashi Baliga, who succumbed to complications from Covid-19 on May 2 in Mumbai.

The double loss left a numbing sadness across the city’s artistic and cultural community – one that Dharker, a prolific writer, editor and cultural commentator, and Baliga, a reputed journalist, had contributed so much to. Author and Advisory Board Member Shobhaa De said: “Anil was the face of Lit Live! – high-profile, well-connected, persuasive and ambitious. Shashi was low key and ‘solid’ – doing the rather ‘unglamorous’ behind-the-scenes job of putting Anil’s grand plans into place.”

Shashi Baliga.

Indeed, where Dharker had been the festival’s magnetic conductor, it was Baliga’s trademark calm and efficiency that transformed it into a finely-tuned orchestra each season. Author and poet Jerry Pinto recalled: “When Lit Live! was conceived, I was supposed to be the Fiction Director, but I soon discovered it was not a role I enjoyed, and so I stepped down and Shashi Baliga stepped in. She had some experience of dealing with overblown egos, I think, as editor of Filmfare and the person who would have to send out the invitations and keep the stars happy, so she did a very good job of it.”

Food writer and restaurant critic Antoine Lewis, who doubled as the festival’s Associate Director for nine years, shared a close bond with Baliga. “Shashi had this tendency to digress and Anil would pick up on that, and that led to us having long, chaotic discussions on session content,” he chuckled.

Theatre producer and director Quasar Thakore-Padamsee poignantly described his own memory of on social media shortly after Baliga’s death: “She would often joke that she was leaving Lit Live! and I would counter with lyrics from Hotel California, ‘You can check-out any time, but you can never leave.’ She’d look at me incredulously. Half smirk, half frown. I’d do anything to see that look again.”

Today, the absence of two of its most cherished and senior members has left a deep void for the festival’s close-knit team – amongst whom are journalist Amy Fernandes, who recently took over as Executive Director, and Thakore-Padamsee, whose company QTP Theatre Productions produces and manages the event each year. Theirs is a shared determination to sustain what Dharker called an international “festival of ideas”, a space for high-quality writing and challenging debate; a vision that, according to Thakore-Padamsee, will find continued support from its title sponsor, the Tata Group.

“I sincerely hope that Lit Live! will continue to grow and flourish, as a tribute to Anil and Shashi and all they achieved,” said Brown.

An event in progress at the NCPA.

Yet, the way forward is challenging. According to Essar Group SVP and CEO of Avid Learning Asad Lalljee, the relationship between literary festivals and their corporate sponsors has always been a precarious one. Because of the downturn in the economy, this was true even before the coronavirus made its presence felt – in December 2019, Mumbai’s Times Lit Fest was abruptly cancelled for lack for funding, and in January 2020, the Hindu Lit Life stood indefinitely postponed for the same reason. Even the Jaipur International Literature Festival, India’s largest literary event, has struggled to hold on to sponsors.

Lalljee, who is also the curator of Mumbai’s Royal Opera House, was cautious as he assessed the future of corporate-backed cultural events amidst an unabated pandemic. “In times of crisis,” he said, “support and funding for the arts are usually the first costs to be cut. Innovation will be key for the future.”

Birth and growth

It was a casual conversation between friends that sparked this international literary carnival. Thakore-Padamsee recalled, “It was sometime in early 2010. We were sitting around and someone remarked how absurd it was that a multicultural, multilingual city like Mumbai didn’t have its own literary festival. And just like that Anil said, Well, let’s start one! It was as simple as that.”

Soon after, Dharker worked his legendary magic by accomplishing something more complicated. In initial meetings that included Tata Sons executive director R Gopalakrishnan, himself an author, Dharker passionately argued that a first-rate arts and literary festival, fully free for the public, would benefit Mumbai in the same way that others – the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Festival and JLF, for instance – had uplifted their cities and communities.

The Tata Group was convinced and came on board as Lit Live!’s main sponsor; alongside, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, in the heart of heritage South Mumbai, became its primary venue. It was a coup for Dharker and his team, given that corporate sponsors across the country routinely rejected funding proposals from literary events.

Over its four-day run each winter, the festival featured close to 150 authors, speakers and performers; these have included celebrated Indian names such as Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Shanta Gokhale and TM Krishna, alongside international powerhouses Margaret Atwood, Stephen Daldry, Germaine Greer and Sebastian Faulks. It also showcased emerging talent across a wide variety of literary genres.

Author and comic book artist Arjun Raj Gaind remembered his first time as a panelist in 2012 – a time when his experimental graphic novel, Empire Of Blood, had not yet been published in India. “I was thrilled to see a prominent display of about 50 copies of my book, which Mr Dharker had specially ordered from my US publisher,” he said.

An event at one of the extended venues, Title Waves bookshop.

By the middle of the decade, Lit Live! averaged a footfall of 40,000 each day and included three additional venues – Title Waves bookstore and St Paul’s auditorium in Bandra, and the iconic Prithvi Theatre in northern Juhu. Yet for all its success, the festival fiercely maintained its homegrown atmosphere of conviviality and intimacy.

For audiences and authors alike, the highlight of each season was the buzz around Lit Live!’s ten awards, given out to authors, poets, playwrights and writers of children’s literature. It was hard work over many months, as Dharker, Baliga and a distinguished literary panel assessed and fiercely debated the merits of each entry.

Author and journalist Deepanjana Pal, who was a jury member in 2019, talked of how elevating it was to not just to read those books that went on to be winners that year – Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field for Best Fiction Debut and Raj Kamal Jha’s Fiction Book Of The Year The City And The Sea – but also to discover other, lesser-known works that made the shortlists. “Some of these were such richly imagined novels, like Uzma Aslam Khan’s The Miraculous True History Of Nomi Ali and Varun Thomas Mathew’s dystopian debut The Black Dwarves Of The Good Little Bay,” Pal said.

Winds of change

Of course, no one could have imagined that the new decade would bring with it a pandemic and a fully virtual festival in 2020, and that this would turn out to be Dharker and Baliga’s swansong.

In hindsight, it was a fitting finale for the duo – an ambitious, meticulously planned online event that ran seven days and featured almost 200 authors, speakers and performers across varied time-zones. Although it registered four million view, the festival had its critics – those who felt Lit Live!’s digital avatar was merely a shadow of its previous high-octane physical ones.

Dharker upped the game by including notable names such as Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan and a session that would not have been possible offline – a straight talk via Zoom by Sir Roger Penrose, whose pathbreaking work in black holes had just won the 89-year-old Briton the Nobel Prize for Physics.

But when Dharker cancelled a session in which its academic-activist speakers Noam Chomsky and Vijay Parshad planned to read out a hostile speech against “corporations like the Tata Group,” there was some controversy. Some felt Dharker’s action was in blatant deference to Lit Live!’s main sponsor and a contradiction of the democratic right to freedom of speech that the festival espoused. Others supported Dharker who said, “The festival which I founded and run with a dedicated team owes its success to a free expression of ideas, not a free expression of someone’s specific agenda.”

The challenges ahead

At present, Lit Live! is six months away from what will be its twelfth edition, one that the present team hopes will honour the legacy of its late founder and former executive director. “Lit Live! will always be ‘The House That Anil Built,’ but it’s too early to say what form the festival will present itself in,” said Thakore-Padamsee. “Whether physical, virtual, or a hybrid of both, what will matter most is health and public safety.”

Thakore-Padamsee was right to be worried. In May 2021, India remains in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19 and its deadly B-1617 variant, with a backstory of a crumbling health infrastructure and horrifying scenes of death and despair.

A book-autographing session with musician and writer Shubha Mudgal.

What is clear is that literary festivals will need drastic reinvention to survive in a world not only hard-hit but transformed by the pandemic. In a drained economy, Lit Live! may have to consider becoming a ticketed event – as is the norm at esteemed international ones like The New Yorker Festival – or a partially ticketed one, like India’s JLF is at present. Free exposure to the arts is necessary for the culture of a city to flourish, but paid entry for those who can afford it, felt Pal, “will raise the bar for festival organisers and create a community that is more deeply invested in quality content.”

Real innovation will continue in the digital space, according to Lalljee, whose Avid Learning platform has launched 240 online programs since April 2020. For a festival like Lit Live! to stay viable online, it will have to combat competition from the diverse and outstanding free programming that is already in the digital literary space – and growing by the day. In addition, with screen fatigue setting in at the 20-minute mark, literary content will need edge, creativity and charismatic speakers to absorb viewers.

For the present, Mumbai’s beloved Tata Literature Live! must fight bravely to stay afloat and relevant. “TLL! is a brand – like JLF,” said De. “Hopefully, the Tatas will continue their support. With two main pillars gone, the team needs all the help it can get to keep Anil’s legacy alive. I’m optimistic Amy and the others will carry it forward (but) I don’t know which business model they’ll adopt to stay alive.”

This series of articles on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on publishing is curated by Kanishka Gupta



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World Hypertension Day 2021: Theme And A Few Important Facts

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World Hypertension Day 2021: Theme And A Few Important Facts


World Hypertension Day 2021: Theme And A Few Important Facts

World Hypertension Day 2021: Check out a few facts on hypertension day being observed today

Today is World Hypertension Day. Often neglected as just a headache or high BP, hypertension can lead to serious health crisis if not treated properly at the right time. According to experts, hypertension affects more than 30 per cent of the adult population worldwide, which is more than one billion people around the world. World Hypertension Day is a great oppourinity to do a basic check on our health status particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic and a deluge of tragic news around coming in everyday. On World Hypertension Day, here is a look at the theme and a few essestial facts that can help raise awareness about the crucial health parameter that can prevent a crisis.

Theme of World Hypertension Day 2021

Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer – is the theme of World Hypertension Day 2021. The focus of this year’s theme is to create awareness and communicate in our social networks about accurately measuring blood pressure regularly. Blood preesure is one the main risk factor for heart diseases, kidney problems and dementia. World Hypertension Day is observed on May 17th every year.

What is hypertension?

The term hypertension is often used casually but do we know what it actally refers to? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ”hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body in the vessels. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.” 

World Hypertension Day 2021: Important facts

  • Many poeple with high blood pressure often have no symptoms, ”even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.”
  • A few people ”may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.”
  • Blood pressure should be checked ”at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.”
  • Common risk factors include age, family history, being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, using too much salt in your food, drinking too much alcohol and high levels of stress. 

(Source: mayoclinic.org)



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