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PM Narendra Modi needs good advisors,says CNR Rao

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs the right scientific advice to turn his vision to reality and should also start mission-mode projects, feels India’s Bharat Ratna-winning scientist CNR Rao.

 

In an interview, he speaks on Modi’s science policy and on religion, intolerance and Mother Teresa’s sainthood. Excerpts of the interview:

Q) Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a good vision for science?

A) He is definitely a man with vision, there is no question that he wants to do something, we hope he will not only use good advice and all the wonderful ideas he has. He is obviously a doer when you listen to him; there is nothing wrong in what he says. What he says is perfect. Except that, we have to do many of those things

Q) You have been the advisor to several Prime Ministers; the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister is currently defunct? Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi is getting the right scientific advice?

A) Well, I do hope our Prime Minister will find the right people for the right advice because no one person or no one ministry can handle the large problems of either science or society. Using science, we have to solve pressing problems of poverty while competing with rest of the world. One also has to do frontier blue-sky research. If all these things India has to do then PM Modi needs to know what the priorities are, how do we proceed what do we work on. I do hope he will get the right advice and get some kind of a group of people to advise him, I do hope and pray that he will do that

Q) How can Prime Minister Narendra Modi help support more science?

A) Modi should help good institutions with minimum funds that will not denude them from the basic effort that is going on. Small amounts of funds Rs 10-20 crores were cut off in the past. Modi should also fund simple small science in a big way like for diseases, for new energy technologies and new advanced materials

Selective but major funding is required. In my own life most of the good funding I had was from somewhere else where, not from India. It is very unfair that India has not done that

Modi should employ mission mode for some areas, long ago we had mission mode for technology solutions, like better quality seeds, safe drinking water, like mission for eradicating illiteracy, like getting rid of malaria. Mission mode projects are what Modi should start. India needs 5-6 major missions that will help the poor people of India and the society as a whole

India

Tablighi attendees should self-report to officials: MMK

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coronavirus cases

Chennai, April 1 (IANS) Manithaneya Makkal Katchi on Tuesday urged Muslims who had returned to Tamil Nadu from Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Delhi to self-report to the Health Department, even as 50 such persons from the southern state have so far tested positive for coronavirus infection.

“We and the leaders of the community have appealed to the people who have returned from Delhi to report and get themselves screened,” MMK leader M.H. Jawahirullah told IANS.

He said that a majority of those who had already reported themselves to the health officials for tests had tested negative.

Jawahirullah said those who tested coronavirus positive have been admitted in isolation wards in hospitals.

He said about 1,100 persons from Tamil Nadu had attended the Tablighi conference in Delhi, of which about 600 returned.

“About 500 persons stayed back in Delhi and are now under the Delhi government care,” Jawahirullah said.

On Tuesday, Revenue Commissioner J. Radhakrishan appealed to Nizamuddin Markaz attendees to self-declare for tests and other necessary steps.

Similarly, officials in several districts have appealed to the attendees to report themselves to health officials for screening.

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Rahul Gandhi sends aid to Amethi, helps people in lockdown

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) After his electoral loss from Amethi, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s love for his constituency has not diminished. He has sent truckload of wheat and other supplies to Amethi to be distributed among the poor who are facing the brunt of lockdown.

Congress MLC Deepak Singh said, “Rahul ji has not forgotten his responsibility for Amethi as it has special place in his heart.”

Congress leaders of the constituency said that a truckload of wheat has arrived and will be distributed amongst the people in the area.

Rahul Gandhi lost from Amethi in the last general election to BJP’s Smriti’s Irani. However, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala.

Rahul Gandhi has sanctioned Rs 2.66 crore from his Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

Under the MPLAD, the lawmakers can recommend the district collector on which project they want to spend the money in their respective constituencies.

Rahul Gandhi had been warning the government that India will pay “extremely heavy price” for the Centre’s inability to act decisively against the spread of coronavirus.

Even on February 12, he had made a similar statement when he said, “coronavirus was an extremely serious threat to the people and the economy.”

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Americans should be prepared for 1-2 lakh death toll: White House

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New York, April 1 The Donald Trump administration revealed for the first time multiple predictive models that are being used to estimate its grim assessment of a 100,000-200,000 coronavirus death toll in the country and stressed that community adherence to social distancing guidelines will be the game changer that will flatten the curve.

“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviours. Each of our behaviours, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days,” Dr Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“Americans should be prepared for that (death toll). Yes, it is a projection but that’s what it is and we have to be prepared for that,” America’s top infectious diseases doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the same briefing headlining charts that have guided Trump administration’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines until April 30. The first phase of the 15-day stay-at-home guidelines came on March 16.

“This is the thing that we must anticipate,” Fauci said pointing to the peak death toll projections, “but we don’t want to accept that is what will happen.”

“We can influence this to the maximum degree.”

In all of the graphs, New York and New Jersey are the standout lines, inching sharply upwards as the rest of the states cluster closer to the X-axis.

Projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle are closest to the White House take on the situation.

The IHME graph is heavily laden with data from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Birx, because that is where caseload is highest.

As of Tuesday morning, the IHME forecast predicted about 84,000 US deaths through early August, with the highest number of daily deaths occurring April 15. That would be three days after Easter.

The 100,000-200,000 death toll projection “assumes full mitigation measures” currently in place, according to Birx and Fauci. Those guidelines stop short of a complete lockdown, still allowing people to go outside the home for solitary activities and for essential tasks.

“We trust the American people to keep that six feet distance when they go out, meet people. That is why we have not issued a complete lockdown”, Birx said. She said that if people maintain “that six feet distance”, they have controlled the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx said data coming from Italy offers hope for the US experience.

“You can see that they’re beginning to turn the corner in new cases. They’re entering their fourth week of full mitigation and showing what is possible when we work together as a community, as a country, to change the course of this pandemic together.”

The US government is calling on “every American in every state” to follow the mitigation guidelines for the next 30 days. The guidelines are not mandatory.

Responding to questions on the alarming numbers on the charts, Fauci said, “Everytime we get more data, we put it back into the model and see if the model is making sense.”

The models use statistical analysis to predict the outbreak’s ferocity and impact in terms of infections, hospital caseload and death toll.

Fauci remains confident that mitigation “is going to be doing the trick for us”. The effects, he said, would come in a series of steps and therefore won’t show on the charts in real time.

“When the increase in new cases begin to level off, a secondary effect is less hospitalisations. The next effect is less intensive care. And the next effect is less deaths. I don’t want to jump the gun on it, we’re seeing little inklings of this right now in New York,” Fauci said.

Fauci and Birx have cautioned that cases will continue to go up in the “next several days to a week or so” reflecting caseload that came in before states issued stay-at-home orders.

“We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working, and will work.”

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