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Celebrities who bid us goodbye in 2018 – 2018 in Retrospect

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Notable deaths of 2018

New Delhi, Dec 30 : From superstar Sridevis untimely death to demise of Marvel creator Stan Lee , the year of 2018 was a tough year for Bollywood and Hollywood as the industries have lost some of the best known and well-loved figures.

So before welcoming the new year, let’s remember some of those “unforgettable” names we have lost and celebrate their contribution to cinema, music and art.

·Sridevi

Sridevi
Sridevi

February 24, 2018 would always be considered a dark day for the Indian film fraternity as on this date, the world woke up to the sad news that Sridevi, Bollywood’s first female superstar is no more.

The “Chandni” star, who was in Dubai for a family wedding, died aged 54 accidentally drowning in a bath tub in a hotel, leaving the film industry, her family and legions of fans in a state of shock.

Though she is no more, she will always be remembered for her remarkable work in Indian cinema.

Born in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu on August 13, 1963, Sridevi began her career at the age of four in the devotional film “Thunaivan”. That marked the beginning of a journey in filmdom that saw her work across Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi productions, leading her to become one of the most formidable actresses of the 1980s and 1990s in Bollywood — in fact, the only female “superstar” the industry has seen.

And for her great contribution to the country’s art and cinema, she was honoured with the National Award and Padma Shri.

The year, no doubt left her fans in grief and tears with her sudden death, but also surprised them with the launch of the icon’s elder daughter Janhvi Kapoor in Hindi cinema, bringing shades of Sridevi back onscreen.

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·Stan Lee

Stan Lee, a man who revolutionised comic books and created superheroes characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, died on November 12.

Born as Stanley Lieber on December 28, 1922, Lee began his career at what was then Timely Comics in 1939. Over the years he was a writer,editor and occasional illustrator. He joined the Marvel Comics in 1961.

He often made appearances at comic book conventions and lectured at colleges. Lee continued to play an important role as Marvel transitioned into television during the 1980s, serving as narrator on animated series like “Incredible Hulk”.

Lee also made cameos in a total of 26 movies, beginning with “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in 1989 and ending with 2018’s “Venom”.

Before his death, Lee completed cameos in several upcoming films, including one for Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet”.

He is survived by his daughter Joan Celia “J.C.” Lee.

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·Rita Bhaduri

Veteran actress Rita Bhaduri took her last breath on July 17 this year. She was 62 when she died of kidney ailment.

With a career spanning over five decades, Rita played important supporting parts in movies like “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, “Kya Kehna”, “Dil Vil Pyar Vyar” and “Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon”. She also featured in Gujarati movies.

On the TV front, her credits include popular shows like “Hasratein”, “Sarabhai vs Sarabhai”, “Khichdi”, “Ek Nayi Pehchaan”.

She was last seen in the serial “Nimki Mukhiya” in which she played the role of a grandmother.

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·Aretha Franklin

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin, who got the epithet ‘Queen of Soul’, died in August after battling serious health conditions. She was 76.

Franklin rose to fame with the release of her first album, “Songs of Faith”, in 1956, which scored regional hits with two gospel songs and occasionally touring with The Soul Stirrers, whose star was Sam Cooke.

In a professional career that spanned more than half a century, Franklin’s songs were not just chart-toppers, but also gave out a message.

Her song “Respect” was a call to arms, while “(You make me feel like) A natural woman” was an earthy expression of sexuality and “Think” was a rallying cry for women fed up with loutish men. She even won a Golden Globe award for “Never gonna break my faith”.

The singer’s final public performance was last November, when she sang at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York.


·Mohammed Aziz

“My name is Lakhan” fame singer Mohammed Aziz died on November 27 following a cardiac arrest. He was 64.

Born in West Bengal as Syed Mohammed Aziz-un-Nabi in July 1954, he started his career as a restaurant singer in Kolkata till he got a singing break in a Bengali film, “Jyoti”, before he shifted to Mumbai and sang for the Hindi film “Ambar” (1984).

Later, he was spotted by music director Anu Malik and got his first major breakthrough in Bollywood with the song “Mard Taangewala” (“Mard”, 1984).

Subsequently, he sang for top music directors like Naushad, O.P. Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Bappi Lahiri, R.D. Burman, Rajesh Roshan, Ravindra Jain, Raam-Laxman, Usha Khanna, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin-Lalit, Aadesh Shrivastava and others.

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·Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture and cuisine, shocked everyone with his sudden death.

He died on June 8 and suicide came out as the cause of his death.

Bourdain was a master of his crafts — first in the kitchen and then in the media. Through his TV shows and books, he explored the human condition and helped audiences think differently about food, travel and themselves.

He advocated for marginalised populations and campaigned for safer working conditions for restaurant staffs.

Before his death, Bourdain was shooting for his TV show “Parts Unknown”.

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·Nargis Rabadi (Shammi Aunty)

Nargis Rabadi, popularly known as ‘Shammi Aunty’ in the industry, passed away on March 6. She was a veteran actor who appeared in more than 200 films.

Having started her journey in 1940s with her first film “Ustad Pedro”, Nargis later starred in films like “Coolie No. 1”, “Mardon Wali Baat” and “Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi”.

She became a popular character artiste portraying supporting roles of aunt, granny, elder spinster in the family.

The late actor also appeared in many popular television serials such as “Dekh Bhai Dekh”, “Zabaan Sambhal Ke”, “Shriman Shrimati”, “Kabhi Yeh Kabhi Woh” and “Filmi Chakkar”.

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· Mrinal Sen

Veteran filmmaker Mrinal Sen, known for his contribution to Bengali parallel cinema, died on Sunday at his residence. He was 95 and he died of old age complications, said his family member.

Born in 1923, in the town of Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, Sen made his first feature film, “Raat Bhore”, in 1955

He was the National Award-winning director and recipient of Padma Bhusan award. He had also been conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2003. He made his final feature film “Aamaar Bhuvan” in 2002.

Analysis

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

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Donald Trump Joe Biden

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be.

(Frank F. Islam is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed here are personal)

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Analysis

Covid-19 toll across world crosses 35,000

The COVID-19 is affecting 132 countries and territories around the world.

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Patients infected with the novel coronavirus

New Delhi, March 30 : The death toll around the world due to coronavirus crossed 35,000 on Monday evening, with Italy heading the list of 35,097 deaths with 10,779, while the number of cumulative cases rose to 737,929, with US leading with 143,055 of them, as per data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Spain was second with 7,340 deaths, followed by China with 3,308 (3,186 of them in Hubei where the outbreak was first recorded), Iran with 2,757 deaths, France with 2,606 deaths, the US with 2,513 (776 of them in New York) and the UK with1,228 deaths.

In number of cases, Italy was second with 97,689, followed by Spain with 85,195, China with 82,198, Germany with 62,435, Iran with 41,495 and France with 40,747.

Meanwhile, 156,652 people around the world had recovered, with nearly half of them (75,923) in China, followed by 16,780 in Spain, 13,911 in Iran and 13,030 in Italy.

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Analysis

45% of Indians do not back up their data, files: Survey

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.

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Data Privacy

New Delhi, March 30 : Nearly half of Indians do not back up because they think their data or files are not important enough and most of those who back up their data, do it once a month, a survey said on Monday.

Other reasons cited by the respondents for not backing up their data included not knowing how to do it, not having time and forgetting about it, according to the survey by cybersecurity company Avast.

“It could be that many aren’t aware they are backing up, as it could be happening automatically, in the background, however, others really might not be backing up at all, thinking it is not worth it,” Luis Corrons, Security Evangelist at Avast, said in a statement.

“Losing personal documents, photos and videos can be a painful experience and it’s not until this happens that they realize how valuable it actually is,” Corrons added.

Of those who do back up their data, nearly 42 per cent Indians back up to a cloud storage, 36 42 per cent back up their data to an external hard drive, 23 42 per cent back up to a USB or flash disk, 18 42 per cent back up their phone to their PC, and 10 42 per cent back up to a network storage drive, the results showed.

Corrons recommended to back up data to two different locations, like the cloud, and a physical storage, like an external hard drive.

When it comes to iPhone and Android phone owners, the percentage that backs up is nearly the same, 69 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

The percentage of smartphone owners that don’t know how to back up their data does not vary much between iPhone and Android owners, with 13 per cent and 17 per cent claiming not knowing how to, respectively, the study revealed.

Data loss can be caused by users accidentally deleting their data themselves, hardware damage and failure, as well as malware, causing valuable data such as photos, videos, documents, and messages to be lost forever.

Ransomware and other malware, such as wipers, can either encrypt or completely destroy files, and there is no guarantee that files can be decrypted if a ransom is paid.

The survey was conducted among 728 Avast and AVG users between February 20-March 25.

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