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Singapore Airlines flight suffers hydraulic failure

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Singapore Airlines A350 ULR
Singapore Airlines, File Photo

Kolkata, May 6 (IANS) A Singapore Airlines flight suffered a hydraulic failure after landing at the airport here, an airport official said on Sunday.

The Singapore Airlines 516 landed at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport around 11.30 p.m. on Saturday.

The aircraft reportedly suffered a hydraulic failure after touchdown and could not be moved from the runway for around 20 minutes, the official said.

An airport technical team later towed the aircraft to the parking bay. All the passengers were safely rescued.

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Muslim education in India: Need for private and public sector investment

These are troubling findings that frame the continuing needs of Muslims and others in the weaker sections. What should be done to address those needs?

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Muslim education in India

Muslim education in India: Eminent columnist Swaminathan A. Aiyar called upon Wakf boards and wealthy Muslims to finance the development of “a string of world-class education institutions” that would attract foreign students and Indian Hindus as well. His article was written in response to Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi’s recommendation for “government scholarships for all” to deal with the “literacy and attendance gaps” of Muslims and other communities.

The proposal was driven by his opinion that “the quality of government schools is so poor that giving more government scholarships will do little for Muslims or any other community”. And, that “Christians have long created their own educational institutions of excellence”.

There is no argument that Christians have created good educational institutions — as have Muslims and others I might add — and that government-supported schools need to be improved. But, a programme of the scope and nature that the article suggests would do nothing to address the very real problem that Owaisi has identified.

That problem is that Muslims and others in the weaker sections still lag far behind those in other religious groups in terms of their development. The development deficit occurs at points all along the educational continuum from pre-school through higher education.

The Sachar Committee Report of 2006 disclosed this “development deficit” for minorities in many areas. The report resulted in the creation of an across the board programme for the development of minorities in India.

Some progress has been made since then but much remains to be done:

  • In the 2011 census, the overall literacy rate for Muslims went up substantially to 68.5 per cent from 59.1 per cent in 2001. The rate for Muslim females was much lower at not quite 52 per cent.
  • A study released by the US India Policy Institute at the end of 2013 states that since 2006, “… the literacy level and the quantum of improvements for Muslims were modest compared to other populations.”
  • That same study showed that only 11 per cent of Muslims in India pursue higher education compared to a national average of approximately 19 per cent and that participation in the “general category of Muslims in higher education” had actually declined by 1.5 per cent for the period studied.
  • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)’s 75th round report cited by MP Owaisi showed that 22 per cent of Muslim girls aged 3 to 35 have never enrolled in a formal educational course.

These are troubling findings that frame the continuing needs of Muslims and others in the weaker sections. What should be done to address those needs?

In my opinion, the answer must be a comprehensive and collaborative effort financed and supported through public and private sector investment.

That effort should improve educational opportunity and quality at all levels. Educational literacy should be the starting line and higher education of some form should be the finish line.

For students at the primary and secondary levels, the Indian government needs to continue to upgrade its educational improvement initiatives to ensure basic knowledge, skills and abilities in language, science, mathematics and technology. Although madarasas educate only between 2-4 per cent of Muslim children and youth, they need to modernize their curriculum and move away from Islam centric or Islamic-only education to a holistic approach that enables these students to integrate fully into Indian society.

Higher education should not be solely the province of four-year colleges or universities. It should include technical, vocational and professional education at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Education in those areas provides avenues for participation in 21st-century careers, the competencies to compete in a global economy, and the capacity to contribute to lifting Muslims and those in the weaker sections out of poverty and deprivation.

I know from my personal involvement that Muslims are already making commitments to assist in providing educational opportunities for Muslims at all these levels. For example, the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin supports hundreds of schools and scholarships for underprivileged Muslims and others throughout India.

The Duty Society of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has numerous members who have focused on educational development for those in the weaker sections and placed an intensified organizational focus there in 2016, its 125th anniversary year.

I myself have supported AMU with initiatives that enhance higher educational opportunities for Muslims and others including the funding of a new Management Complex, an Entrepreneurship Center, and an auditorium for the Mass Communications Department. At the dedication of the Frank and Debbie Islam Management Complex, I said, “From this Management Complex will come the future leaders who will make India and the world a better place. It will be an educational empowerment zone.”

I have had a lifelong passion and commitment to improving girls’ access to and participation in meaningful education. If we empower girls through education, they are most likely to control their own destiny. Education prepares the girl to become a change agent. Too many families are trapped in poverty because of lack of education. With her own education, the girl who becomes a woman and a mother can educate and equip her children to escape that trap. This is why my wife Debbie and I have also committed to support the development of a technical school for women in Azamgarh UP. Those women graduates will make invaluable contributions to making India and the world a better place as well.

Addressing the development needs of Muslims and others in the weaker sections is a strategic investment. It is a hand-up and not a hand-out. Those who get that hand-up will extend their hands to help others up. As a result, the return on these public and private investments will be exponential for the Indian economy and society.

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

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‘Economic disruption to deter RBI from quantifying FY21 growth forecast’

The RBI’s MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) is expected to release its resolution on the monetary policy after their meet on September 29 to October 1, 2020.

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Reserve Bank of India RBI

New Delhi, Sep 27 : The dynamic economic upheaval unleashed by Covid-19 pandemic might hinder the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from giving a pin-pointed growth as well as inflation forecast in the upcoming monetary policy report, experts opined.

The existing legislations mandate the RBI to come out with a growth and inflation forecast twice in an interval of six-months in the monetary policy report.

Expectedly, the report is slated to be issued with the upcoming policy review on October 1. The report was last issued in February.

“Given the continuing uncertainty on the economic revival, it is difficult to say whether RBI will come out with clear forecasts on the GDP print for FY21,” said Suman Chowdhury Chief Analytical Officer at Acuite Ratings and Research.

“It has, however already highlighted the risks of a material contraction in economic output in the previous MPC report. As regards inflation, it is likely to reiterate its expectation of a moderation in the CPI inflation over the next few months due to lesser supply constraints, higher crop output in kharif season and also the favourable base effect kicking in.”

According to Brickwork Ratings said: “With uncertainty regarding the pandemic looming large, the RBI may not provide a GDP forecast for FY21 in the upcoming MPC meeting. As in the previous statements, the RBI may continue to talk about economic contraction without quantifying the magnitude.”

“Given the continued surge in Covid-19 cases in the country’s major hubs, which is hindering the recovery process, we expect the Q2FY21 GDP to shrink by 13.5 per cent.”

In April, the RBI’s Monetary Policy Report said that the global economy may slump into recession in 2020.

The report noted that the the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and the expected contraction in global output will weigh heavily on the growth outlook. The actual outturn would depend upon the speed with which the outbreak is contained and economic activity returns to normalcy, said the Monetary Policy Report for April 2020.

As per the report, due to the highly fluid circumstances in which incoming data produce shifts in the outlook for growth on a daily basis, forecasts for real GDP growth in India are not provided in the Monetary Policy Report, awaiting a clear fix on the intensity, spread and duration of Covid-19.

It is widely expected that persistently high inflation fanned in part due to supply side disruptions along with seasonal factors will deter the Reserve Bank to administer a dose of lending rate cut during the upcoming monetary policy review.

Notably, the expected move will come at a time when industrial output is at historic low due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RBI’s MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) is expected to release its resolution on the monetary policy after their meet on September 29 to October 1, 2020.

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Serum Institute CEO has a question for govt: ‘Will it have Rs 80k cr to give each Indian Covid vaccine’

Serum Institute of India has the licence to produce and market two of the leading vaccine candidates, one being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and the other one by US company Novavax.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala Saturday asked if the government will have Rs 80,000 crore available over the next one year to buy and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.

Terming it as “next concerning challenge” that needs to be tackled, Poonawala tweeted, “Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that’s what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India.”

He also tagged the prime minister’s office in his tweet. “I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution,” he added.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has the licence to produce and market two of the leading vaccine candidates, one being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and the other one by US company Novavax. The Oxford University vaccine is currently undergoing phase-II and phase-III trials in India. Earlier, the institute had announced that it will make the Oxford vaccine available at USD 3 for low-and-middle-income countries including India.

Apart from bringing some of the leading contenders of a coronavirus vaccine to India, the Serum is developing its own vaccine as well. It is partnering with SpyBiotech, a spin-off of Oxford University, for this purpose. Their vaccine candidate has entered into combined phase-I/phase-II clinical trials, which are being done in Australia. The trials began in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that as the largest vaccine producing country of the world, India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help people across the world. “As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis,” PM Modi said.

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