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Jaswant Singh: A soft-spoken former Army officer, astute politician

A soft-spoken man, Jaswant Singh was one of the founding members of BJP and a leading light of the party when Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani helmed it through tumultuous period of Indian politics

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Jaswant Singh

A soft-spoken man, former BJP leader Jaswant Singh was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a leading light of the party when Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishan Advani helmed it through the tumultuous period of Indian politics. And with his demise, another party stalwart of that era has passed into eternity.

Given that he had retired as a Major-rank officer from the Indian Army, it was no surprise that he was very punctual in his meetings with different people.

The veteran politician passed away at the age of 82 early Sunday morning at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi following a cardiac arrest.

Even though he was from an Army background, he not only handled the porfolios of defence, but also finance and external affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee governments. He was one of the key Ministers who were in the forefront when Vajpayee’s government was in power at the Centre at different points in time.

Jaswant Singh, who hailed from Rajasthan, first served as the Union Finance Minister in the shortlived Vajpayee government in 1996. He became the External Affairs Minister in the next Vajpayee-led government (1998-2002). Later, he was again given the charge of finance in 2002. The veteran leader was also Deputy Chairman of then Planning Commission at one point in time.

The BJP leader was made the Defence Minister following the resignation of George Fernandes after the latter’s name cropped up in a defence scam.

An astute politician, Jaswant Singh hogged media limelight the world over when he was tasked to hold talks with the Taliban for the release of passengers of an Indian Airlines flight hijacked in December 1999. He even escorted three terrorists, accused of various crimes that included the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, to Afghanistan to swap in lieu of the safe release of 190 passengers.

After the 1998 nuclear tests by India, Jaswant Singh was deputed by then Prime Minister Vajpayee to engage the US in strategic talks.

After the BJP party lost power at the Centre in 2004 to the United Progressive Alliance, Jaswant Singh served as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2004 to 2009.

The veteran leader stirred a controversy after the BJP suffered its second successive defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections by circulating a note to demand a thorough discussion on the poll debacle.

He again faced a backlash in 2009 from certain quarters after a book authored by him on Pakistan leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, entitled ‘Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence’ was released. He had written sympathetically about the founder of Pakistan. Later, the BJP leader was marginalised within the party and subsequently expelled.

He was reinducted into the party later on, but parted ways in 2014. Jaswant Singh even contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as an Independent from Barmer in Rajasthan after failing to get a BJP ticket but lost to the party nominee Colonel Sona Ram.

Soon after the general elections in 2014, Jaswant Singh slipped in the bathroom of his residence on August 7 that year, and suffered a serious head injury.

Condoling the death of the veteran leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he served the nation diligently — first as a soldier and later during his long association with politics.

“During Atalji’s government, he handled crucial portfolios and left a strong mark in the worlds of finance, defence, and external affairs. Saddened by his demise,” the Prime Minister said in his message.

“True to his nature, Jaswantji fought his illness with immense courage for the last six years,” Modi said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that Jaswant Singh would be remembered for his intellectual capabilities and stellar record in service to the nation. “He also played a key role in strengthening the BJP in Rajasthan. Condolences to his family and supporters in this sad hour. Om Shanti,” the Minister said.

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Hotel industry’s recovery to pre-Covid levels profits 3 yrs away: ICRA

“This will keep revenues moderated, resulting in operating losses and stretched debt metrics during FY2021 and FY2022.”

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Park Hotel Delhi

New Delhi, Oct 24 : The Indian hotel industry’s recovery to pre-Covid levels profits is at least three years away, ratings agency ICRA has said.

The ratings agency said that road ahead for the industry is rough as revenues and margins are expected to post record decline in FY21 with losses mounting over the next two years.

The hotel industry has witnessed one of the worst revenue declines, in Q1FY21, with revenues for the industry sample declining by 85 per cent.

“Given the high operating and financial leverage in the industry, the revenue decline led to huge operating and net losses in Q1 FY2021 despite the extensive cost-cutting measures adopted by most entities in the industry,” ICRA said in a statement.

“Despite sharp weakening in interest coverage, recourse to the RBI provided moratorium on debt servicing as part of its Covid relief package announced in March 2020 supported the industry.”

As per the statement, about 66 per cent of ICRA’s hospitality portfolio applied for moratorium under this scheme and several of these will apply for restructuring under the K.V. Kamath committee too.

“Although hotels have been gradually allowed to reopen, occupancies have remained subdued in H1FY2021,” the statement said.

“This will keep revenues moderated, resulting in operating losses and stretched debt metrics during FY2021 and FY2022.”

The industry has reported a 2.7 per cent de-growth in topline with flat operating margins at 22 per cent in FY2020.

“With an 85 per cent YoY decline witnessed in revenues in Q1 FY2021 and subdued occupancies witnessed in Q2 FY2021 as well, industry wide revenues are expected to witness sharp de-growth of 60-65 per cent for FY2021,” ICRA said.

“Despite several measures taken by the companies to variabilise the fixed costs, the industry is likely to report massive operating and net losses in FY2021.”

–IANS

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31% adolescents battled extreme anxiety in past few months due to COVID-19, says survey

About 31% surveyed adolescents battled extreme anxiety in the past few months worrying about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their family’s financial status, according to a survey

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About 31 percent surveyed adolescents battled extreme anxiety in the past few months worrying about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their family’s financial status, according to a survey of over 7,300 adolescents from four states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Odisha.

The survey on ‘What do the Adolescents have to say? COVID-19 and its Impact’ by NGO Centre for Catalysing Change was conducted in two rounds in the months of April, July and August.

Out of the 7,324 adolescents surveyed, 31 percent admitted to battling extreme anxiety worrying about the pandemic’s impact on their family’s financial status.

The survey also found that adolescent girls faced significant gender discrimination in these months due to the pandemic.

“Only 12 percent of surveyed adolescent girls had access to their own mobile phones to be able to attend online classes, while 35 percent boys had access to their own mobile phones,” the survey found.

“Further, 51 percent of the adolescent girls surveyed lacked access to essential textbooks in comparison to boys, highlighting how the pandemic had jeopardized girls’ access to education,” it said.

About 39 percent of the girls were found to be contributing to housework as opposed to the number of boys at 35 percent, it said.

Under the survey, the adolescent girls also stated how their mobility has been curbed, with only 39 percent girls saying they were allowed to go out alone in comparison to 62 percent boys of the same age who were allowed to go out alone.

“At the same time, only 36 percent adolescents knew the correct helpline numbers, while awareness about the use of the helplines was even lower. Only 18 percent was aware that the helplines could be used in reporting domestic violence and only 22-23 percent knew that it could be used in reporting child labour and child trafficking cases,” it added.

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Sahir Ludhianvi death anniversary: Top Bollywood songs penned by the legendary poet

On Sahir Ludhianvi’s death anniversary, here’s looking at top Bollywood songs written by the legendary poet!

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Sahir Ludhianvi

Born in Ludhiana, Punjab, in 1921, Sahir began writing since childhood. Born as Abdul Hayee, he found the word ‘Sahir’ while reading Iqbal’s poetry and decided to use it as his pen name.

Sahir’s poetry was remarkably concerned with socio-economic and political problems of the country. He often voiced problems of the downtrodden with his words.

Sahir’s debut as film lyricist was with Azadi Ki Rah Par and Baazi. In recognition of his contributions, he was honoured with Padma Bhushan. Sahir died in Mumbai on October 25, 1980.

On Sahir Ludhianvi’s death anniversary, here’s looking at top Bollywood songs written by the legendary poet.

Dekha hai zindagi ko kuch itna kareeb se

Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar hu

Kabhi Kabhi Mere DIl Mein

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