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By-election graffiti: Troubled times for BJP

It is for the BJP to ascertain why they did so when a section of the economists is sanguine about the party’s prospects because of low inflation and high — 7.7 per cent — growth.

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It will be a mistake to ascribe the defeats of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Kairana, Noorpur and Bhandara-Gondiya by-elections in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra only to the tie-ups among its opponents.

While there is little doubt that in Kairana, an alliance of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress led to the BJP’s defeat, it is also undeniable that the combine wouldn’t have worked if the Muslims, Dalits, backward castes and the Jats hadn’t turned against the BJP.

It is for the BJP to ascertain why they did so when a section of the economists is sanguine about the party’s prospects because of low inflation and high — 7.7 per cent — growth.

But the economy may not boost the party’s fortunes in a context of social fissures. As those associated with the Muslim and Christian communities like former Vice President Hamid Ansari and the Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, have said, both the communities are living with a sense of insecurity. The reason apparently is the fear of suddenly being attacked and even killed by saffron groups on one pretext or another.

The unhappiness of the Dalits, too, has been obvious in the wake of several instances of lynching and the continuing tension in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur area between the upper caste Rajputs and the Dalits, one of whose leaders, Chandrashekar Azad “Ravan”, has been in indefinite detention.

It is obvious that with sizable sections of the Muslims, who constitute 14.2 per cent of the population, Dalits (16.6 per cent) and Christians (2.3 per cent) alienated from the BJP, its chances of electoral success cannot be very high. The party did beat the odds against it in this respect in 2014, but that was because of the expectations of rapid, employment-oriented development raised by Narendra Modi.

Arguably, these hopes may still be fulfilled if the present growth rate continues. But jobs cannot provide any solace to people who feel that they are second class citizens in today’s India, as a retired police officer, Julio Ribeiro, has said.

The angst of the minorities has combined with the realisation among the BJP’s opponents that the only way to defeat it is via electoral tie-ups among themselves. This is what happened in Kairana, where a combined opposition seamlessly garnered the votes of the Muslims, the Dalits, the backward castes and the Jats.

It was the same in Noorpur, where the SP candidate received the support of the other opposition parties, and in Bhandara-Gondiya, where the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress successfully put up a untied fight against the BJP.

The formula, therefore, for success against the BJP is clear — unite or perish. As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee once said, the objective should be to offer the BJP a one-to-one fight by parties which are the most influential in a certain region.

If this is done, victory is assured as the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s three successive victories in Araria, Jehanabad and Jokihat in Bihar against the ruling Janata Dal-United have shown.

If the BJP managed to win in Palghar in Maharashtra against the Shiv Sena, it was because the latter’s over-confidence made it go it alone. Yet, the Sena’s leader, Uddhav Thackeray, recently spoke of the need for an opposition alliance against the BJP.

There is little doubt that the recent by-election victories, along with the formation of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government in Karnataka, are being seen as precursors to a combined opposition at the national level.

If such a unity is achieved, it presages troubled times for the BJP because there is no way it can withstand such a concerted offensive. In a way, the united opposition will be a replica of the 24-member coalition government under Atal Behari Vajpayee which began to fall apart in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In the present instance, the threat to an anti-BJP alliance is posed by the ambitions of several of its players — Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar — to be the Prime Minister.

The BJP may be banking on such dissonance to stave off any challenge. But the party will nevertheless be aware that the ease with which it ascended to power in 2014 will be absent during the next general election for two reasons.

One is the sign that Modi’s appeal is not as overwhelming as it once was, if only because the anticipated revving up of the economy is taking time. And the other is the sameness of his criticism of the Congress — corruption, dynasty, et al. The party paid a heavy price for these sins in 2014 and lambasting it over and over again on the same issues runs the risk of what is known in legal terminology as double jeopardy where a person cannot be convicted of the same offence twice.

The political scene is poised, therefore, between the possibility of Modi not being as effective a campaigner as before and the opposition trying to counter him while battling its own fissiparous tendencies.

By Amulya Ganguli

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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World Alzheimer’s Day 2020: Everything you must know about the brain disease

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.”

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Alzheimer disease

World  Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on September 21. The day aims at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.

According to Alzinfo, every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.” The day was first observed in 2012.

What is Alzheimer?

Alzheimer, in simple terms, is a brain disease that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer:

According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or leisure.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behaviour.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community.

Stages of Alzheimer:

  • Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
  • Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
  • Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
  • Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
  • Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.

Treatment Of Alzheimer:

Alzheimer’s is most commonly identified through patient and family history, and by talking to the immediate family about the presence of symptoms. Also, brain imagining may be suggested to check for beta-amyloid protein deposits. As of today, there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Drugs are usually administered to manage symptoms and healthy lifestyle changes.

Despite this, Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases to get treatment for. The global cost of dementia is estimated to be around $1 trillion currently.

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At 7, child prodigy honours literary legacy with first book

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

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Abhijita a student of Class II

New Delhi, September 20: Padma Bhushan recipient Rashtrakavi Maithalisharan Gupts and Santkavi Siyaramsharan Gupt’s great grand daughter Abhijita Gupta, who is all of seven years and a child prodigy, has penned her first collection of stories and poems.

The book titled ‘Happiness All Around’, and was launched by Oxford Bookstores’ children’s wing, Oxford Junior in collaboration with Invincible Publishers. Seven-year-old Abhijita, taking after her family’s literary legacy, had started writing at a very tender age of five years.

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. (Abhijita Gupta – “The little poet”/Facebook)
“Abhijita is a student of Class II and is a third generation writer, to poet duo Rashtrakavi Shri Maithalisharan Gupt and Santkavi Shri Siyaramsharan Gupt. She is an avid reader and very expressive with her pen. She wrote her first story when she was a little over five years. By the grace of goddess Saraswati, she is carrying forward the traits of her forefathers and we hope she extends the legacy of Sahitya Sadan Gharana,” her parents Ashish Gupt and Anupriya Gupta said.

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

“For her, every little thing around her matters: what she sees, she hears, she touches, she smells, she tastes and she feels — constantly soaking in the environment around her. And, her debut book proffers just that – the pure senses and humane values like an elixir.”

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. The book could prove equally useful for parents of young children, as it gives an insight into the mind of a six-seven year old and what thoughts and things interest her. The writings have been left untouched so that the innocence, mistakes included, of the child are not diluted.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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Unemployment Rate in India

India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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