Below the line: Gujarat’s ₹100-cr club ‘unmasked’

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Known for their business acumen, Gujaratis seem to have got a raw deal in these Covid times. Latest data shared by the Gujarat government shows citizens doled out ₹116 crore in fines for not wearing masks.

In an affidavit to Gujarat High Court, the State government said that a total of 23.64 lakh citizens were fined till December 22, for not wearing masks in public places. Since March, Gujarat had made masks mandatory in public places, with a fine of ₹1,000 for violation. Bollywood producers too vie to join the ₹100-crore club — but in the box-office collections!

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent Kachchh visit could have been much grander with an overnight stay at the Tent City in the vicinity of the white-desert that shimmers under the moonlight. But it was wrapped up in just half a day, puzzling many locals, who have seen Modi camp in the Kachchh desert to admire the beauty of the “rann”.

What could have hurt the spirit of the stay? Sources reveal that besides other reasons, it could be the recent corruption charges against the tent supplier, Lallooji and Sons, for bogus billing during the 2019 Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. Conscious of his public image, Modi wouldn’t compromise.

The new born baby of Akash and Shloka Ambani is not even a month old, but has an Instagram account with three followers. Never mind that it isn’t a verified account. On December 10, the news of his birth had set the social media on fire, and now the baby boy’s name — Prithvi Akash Ambani — is what’s trending on the Internet.

A birthday card, announcing the name of the youngest Ambani, which also mentions “overjoyed” grandparents Nita and Mukesh Ambani, is also doing the rounds. However, this time Antilla is not lit up. Reliance Industries spokespersons too are not making any statements.

India and South Africa’s proposal for a TRIPS waiver to ensure smooth supply of essential medicines and medical products during the Covid-19 pandemic was not adopted at the General Council meeting of the World Trade Organisation last week because of opposition by some countries, mostly from the developed world.

What is significant though is the huge support the proposal managed to get from various quarters including civil society and the World Health Organisation.

The supporters have been so vocal that for the first time certain developed nations, home to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, have been forced to glorify the compulsory license provisions in the existing TRIPS agreement that allow generic manufacturers to produce copies of patented medicines during times of public health crisis and also export them. The recognition of the usefulness of the compulsory license by the very countries that had been trying to force top generic producers like India, over the last few years, not to issue such licences despite public health problems, can be construed as a victory of sorts for the developing countries.

Today’s generation in media, which relies on mobile phones and computers, may not be aware of the fact that a whole generation of journalists relied on typewriters for their work. Speaking at the MV Kamath Memorial Endowment lecture recently, HS Ballal, Pro-Chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), recalled noted journalist MV Kamath’s association with the typewriter.

Kamath, who moved from Mumbai to Manipal in 2004, was on the board of management of MAHE. Kamath still used his old typewriter which was also outdated. Every time his typewriter stopped working, Kamath would call up Ballal saying he was jobless. Fortunately, one person in the university knew to how to fix it. Ballal said he used to be very tense till the typewriter was repaired as otherwise Kamath would get very restless.



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