Maharashtra Lockdown News

Rahul Kumar: ‘It is as stupid as it is brave to dream with a life like mine’Sign In to read
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesRahul Kumar, 18Worker at the new Parliament building, Central Secretariat, New DelhiOf late, at work, I have been hearing about a new variant of COVID spreading in China. The last time the pandemic struck, I was in my hometown in Bihar, and most days, we lived on plain rice from the government’s ration scheme, not even dal was provided. I remember my father, a carpenter, losing his job, after which we had to borrow Rs 1 lakh from a local moneylender for my sister’s wedding. The debt has now piled up to Rs 4-5 lakh. Two months ago, I thought that boarding a train to Delhi from my village in Samastipur would solve my woes. Now, I slog away as a helper at the Central Secretariat Parliament construction site to earn Rs 475 a day, and nowhere am I close to paying back the loan. If I borrow Rs 10,000 today, I am asked to repay Rs 50,000 within two years. If I have to shell out Rs 8 lakh in another two years, how will I settle this debt?The last couple of years have been challenging. We might have ridden COVID out, but we haven’t outlived its aftermath. Now, there are talks about the virus again, and I can’t imagine going back to my village without enough money. I dropped out after Class IX, owing to the pandemic, and now at 18, have to stay in Delhi and work alone, away from home. Though my accommodation in Ganesh Nagar — where 12 workers are lodged in four tiny rooms — and commute, are taken care of by the contractor, a lot of money goes into food, and I have very little savings. Which is why another lockdown would land me in dire straits.“Dreams are many, but it is as stupid as it is brave to dream with a life like mine. I want to open a shop in my village where my grandparents own 4 kathas (2,880 square feet) of land, so I can stay at home, but it is just that — a dream. I no longer think about resuming my studies. It has been a long time and I don’t have the liberty to spend money or time on it. If I have enough money after repaying all debts, I want to build a better house since we could not avail of the housing scheme for the poor. But for now, all I care about is an impending lockdown. Every time I see an official, I ask them, “Will there be another lockdown?”What I want to leave behind from the past two years?The fear of lockdownWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?Earn enough to repay the loan within a year— As told to Aiswarya Raj

Rahul Kumar: ‘It is as stupid as it is brave to dream with a life like mine’Sign In to read
Shobha Dilip Kushwha: ‘The doctors are doing so much for us, can’t we do something for them?’Sign In to read
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesShobha Dilip Kushwha, 39Worker at IAttire, Pune, MaharashtraWhen I used to make clothes on my sewing machine at home in Nagpur and, then, Pune, I never thought that, one day, I would be tailoring PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits. I work for a company called IAttire in Pune, manufacturers of corporate uniforms. I was in the Shirts division. My earnings helped at home, especially with the education of our two children.The lockdown brought a halt to regular production, but IAttire got the government’s approval to make PPE kits, one of the few companies in India to be certified. We started working on PPEs, where we had to be careful about every stitch so that no virus could get inside the body. Special machines had been imported and kept in “clean rooms”. Unlike shirts, PPE was a one-piece garment that covered the entire body, including the head. I learnt the new design in half a day.In our minds, there was a constant fear of the disease but our sewing machines never slowed down. Doctors hamare liye itna kar rahe the toh apun unke liye kuchh kyun nahin kar sakte (The doctors were doing so much for us, can’t we do something for them?). I would make 50 PPEs in a day, a few others could do 100. We also won a contract to make PPEs for Indigo airlines and realised that our work was helping in bringing back normalcy. We worked on PPEs until October-November 2021, when the government and the aviation ministry announced that the PPEs wouldn’t be required any more.During the pandemic, I came to know of women who had lost their jobs. I brought about 60 of them to the factory and they were taken in to make PPEs. They still work at the factory. The lockdown was a time of great difficulty in many homes. A lot of companies had shut down, and people wondered how to put food on the plate. My husband, a driver, had also lost his job but my company hired him. He would transport the special fabric for PPEs from Mumbai to our factory in Pune. We were aware of the risks, but it helped to know that our work was keeping a lot of people safe.What I want to leave behind from the past two years?I hope those dreaded days of fear are now behind us. Let us never see another such time. The horror of companies shutting and people left jobless should be a thing of the pastWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?I am looking for dreams coming true — my daughter entering an air-hostess academy; everybody having rozi roti and children going to school rather than studying online— As told to Dipanita Nath

Shobha Dilip Kushwha: ‘The doctors are doing so much for us, can’t we do something for them?’Sign In to read
‘I started taking care of my personal growth and want to keep learning’Sign In to read
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

As we emerge from the pandemic and everything around us opens up, we speak to people across the country to hear their stories and their strugglesMumtaz Saifi, 21Entertainment Service Provider, PVR: Vegas LUXE, Dwarka, New DelhiTowards the end of 2019, I began working at PVR. I sell tickets to customers at the box office, make popcorn and serve them drinks, and, overall, ensure they have a good time at the theatre. When I joined, I was also a year into my undergraduate studies at Delhi University’s School of Open Learning, and was managing both responsibilities. I stayed with my family in Palam, worked nine hours a day and got one day off. I worked only for a few months, from December 2019 to March 2020, and then the pandemic started.We never expected it. We were afraid of the disease and that we would lose our jobs. But I was lucky. PVR supported me financially and emotionally in those lockdown periods. My father, who is an assistant manager at a company, met with an accident and, temporarily, I became the sole earning member for my parents and two siblings. But since theatres were shut, we could not go to work, nor could we go out with friends and family. It got really boring. I started missing the time when I could go out, and realised the value of my loved ones as many began losing people close to them.I started taking care of my personal growth. I spent time with my family, I cooked a bit, I started exercising and doing yoga, and then, since I wanted to do something productive, I decided to learn another language: German. That was something I have always wanted to do! We were home for an entire year, and restarted work around March 2021. Many of my friends lost their jobs, while some got financial support from their companies. Somehow, we all managed, and have come out stronger.What I want to leave behind from the past two years?People were losing so many of their loved ones, I never want that to happen again. Also, the lockdown was really difficult, it’s hard to stay at home all day. I really like going out with friends and familyWhat I am looking forward to in 2023?I’m currently pursuing my Master’s in English Literature from Indira Gandhi National Open University, and enjoy my studies. I’m learning about the history of the English language and how it came to India. Secondly, of course, I want everyone to be healthy and safe if a new COVID wave comes, so we aren’t affected like before— As told to Udbhav Seth

‘I started taking care of my personal growth and want to keep learning’Sign In to read
Arnab Goswami’s ‘inflammatory’ comments: SC to hear Monday Maha govt plea against HC order of staying probe
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea of Maharashtra government challenging a Bombay High Court’s 2020 order by which it had suspended probe into two FIRs filed against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami for allegedly making inflammatory comments.The FIRs pertain to Goswami’s comments during his TV programmes about Palghar lynching incident and migrants gathering in large numbers in Mumbai’s Bandra area during the Covid-induced lockdown.A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli will hear the appeal filed by the Maharashtra government.On October 26, 2020, the top court had observed that some people are targeted with “greater intensity” and need more protection.The Maharashtra government, which was then ruled by Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi, had opposed the high court’s decision to stay the police probe against Goswami.The top court had sought response from Goswami and others on the appeal filed by the state government.In its June 30, 2020 order, the high court had noted that while Goswami’s comments targeted the Congress and its president Sonia Gandhi, he did not make any statement that would cause public disharmony or incite violence between different religious groups.Citing observations made by the Supreme Court that India’s freedom will rest safe as long as journalists can speak to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal, the high court had said in its order that free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to any one position.While admitting for final hearing of the petition filed by Goswami seeking to quash the two FIRs, the high court had directed the police not to take any coercive action until the disposal of the plea.Two FIRs were filed against Goswami — one in Nagpur, which was later transferred to N M Joshi Marg police station in Mumbai following directions from the Supreme Court and another at Pydhonie police station.The one filed in Nagpur was about a news show aired on the channel on April 21 about the Palghar incident where two religious leaders and their driver were lynched.The Pydhonie case followed a show aired by Republic TV on April 29 where Goswami had referred to migrants gathering near a mosque outside the Bandra railway terminus during the lockdown.

Arnab Goswami’s ‘inflammatory’ comments: SC to hear Monday Maha govt plea against HC order of staying probe
Panel to see if cases can be taken back, Bombay HC told
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

MUMBAI: The state government has informed Bombay high court that it has set up a committee to decide on taking back cases registered against people who violated prohibitory orders during the Covid-19 lockdown.Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Shriram Modak were on October 11 submitted the home department's September 26 government resolution (GR) on constitution of the committee to look into cases registered during lockdown - from March 21, 2020 to March 31, 2021. They heard a petition by a city-based advocate who was booked for not wearing a mask in a marketplace in Sangli. The GR states that the decision to take back cases will be subject to considering that in a case no government servant or frontline worker was attacked and no private or public property above Rs 50,000 was damaged. It cited the Supreme Court's 2016 direction that, if a sitting or former MLA or MP is involved, the case cannot be taken back without the HC's approval. There will be two committees at the police commissionerate level and at the district level. Following the lockdown, the advocate and his parents shifted to their village. On April 24, 2020, he and his cousin, wearing handkerchiefs around their faces, went to Kargani market to buy water. A constable asked them why they did not wear medically approved masks. Told by the advocate that a handkerchief was sufficient, as per the collector's April 13, 2020 order, the constable refused to let him leave and compelled them to purchase masks. On learning that he is an advocate, the constable warned that he will file a criminal complaint. Advocates Sudeep Pasbola and Karl Rustomkhan urged quashing of the FIR under Indian Penal Code sections, including for disobeying quarantine rule. Prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik said Atpadi police station will forward the FIR to the committee in a week. The judges directed that the committee "shall look into the same and take an appropriate decision, as expeditiously as possible, and by November 25."

Panel to see if cases can be taken back, Bombay HC told
Mumbai: Colour returns to Diwali fireworks trade after pallor of lockdown
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

MUMBAI: Colour has returned to the cheeks of the fireworks trade at Diwali 2022 after the pallor caused by the pandemic lockdown. Evening crowds are visible at cracker shops as well as roadside stalls, and traders say footfalls will increase by the weekend. Diwali falls Monday October 24. Minesh Mehta, general secretary of the Mumbai & Thane District Fireworks Dealers Welfare Association, said, "Shoppers have returned to the bazaars and we saw a robust Janmashtami, Ganeshotsav, Navratra and Dussehra. Cracker sales are gathering pace because of public demand and also because we are now permitted to stock certain firecrackers which were not allowed during the lockdown. And most of the items are tailored for the children's market. Light based items have replaced noisy crackers, and several new products ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 450 per box are selling briskly," he said. In an altered post-Covid economy, it is little children who are driving the sales of fireworks. "Elders have lost the enthusiasm for lighting fireworks. Yet, parents are indulging their children's desire to do so despite a financial crunch. Crackers called Lotto, I-Spin, Robot, Ninja Magic, Tutti Fruity, 3D Pot and Happiness are doing well." Navin Chhadva, who heads the federation, cited items like Chip Chip, Sky Gen, Fly Machine, Miracle as bestsellers that are attracting children. "These crackers either fire upwards or upon the ground and emit light. Stars, colour balls, and anaar are favourites," he said. In Sion Koliwada, Ramesh Mehta of the 60-year-old Koliwada Kapole store says business will pick up by the weekend. "Schools are yet to break for the Diwali holiday else more children would have come by now. Unseasonal rain has also confined people indoors. But markets will pick up by the weekend," he said. Mehta said rates of fireworks are 15-20% higher than 2021. Also, Mohammed Ali Road, Null Bazaar are not the sole hub any longer with new stores opening in Malad, Koliwada and Kurla. Mehta said, "Online sale was the focus in 2021, but that has ebbed now as bazaars have reopened." Mehta and Chhadva say business could have fared better were it not for a production shortage. A sweeping ban on crackers in many states and a Supreme Court order on the use of barium in crackers has dented production of fireworks in the manufacturing hub of Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. Output has declined by 40% and costs are higher as manufacturers are forced to seek expensive imported alternatives for barium. Rains have impacted production and storage too.

Mumbai: Colour returns to Diwali fireworks trade after pallor of lockdown
Covid-19 pandemic underscores role of MGNREGA as safety net despite shortcomings: Study
The Indian Express | 3 months ago | |
The Indian Express
3 months ago | |

About 39 per cent of all job card-holding households interested in working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005 did not get a single day of work in the Covid year of 2020-21, revealed a survey conducted by Bengaluru’s Azim Premji University in partnership with the National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations on NREGA and Collaborative Research and Dissemination (CORD) in November-December 2021 in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.The survey was conducted in 2,000 households across eight blocks in Phulparas (Madhubani) and Chhatapur (Supaul) in Bihar, Bidar (Bidar) and Devadurga (Raichur) in Karnataka, Khalwa (Khandwa) and Ghatigaon (Gwalior) in Madhya Pradesh, and Wardha (Wardha) and Surgana (Nashik) in Maharashtra.The key findings of this survey were released on October 13.“Our study shows how much the workers value the need and utility of MGNREGA. More than 8 out of 10 households recommended that MGNREGA should provide 100 days of employment per person per year. We also find a massive extent of underfunding. A conservative estimate yields that the allocations in the surveyed blocks should have been three times the amount that was actually allocated in the year after lockdown to fulfill the true extent of work demand,“ said Rajendran Narayanan, co-author of the study and a faculty member at Azim Premji University.Ashwini Kulkarni of the NREGA Consortium said “one of the objectives of MGNREGA is as a social protection measure during distress times”. “Covid Pandemic, lockdown created unprecedented distress and MGNREGA, as expected, rose to the need and provided work for many more villages and many more households than in the preceding years. MGNREGA’s role for reducing vulnerability has been reemphasized and continues to be of vital importance in post-pandemic times. We as Civil Society Organizations have the responsibility to convey voices of the people to the policy makers to fine tune the implementation process, this report is an effort in this regard,” he added.“Across all blocks, roughly 39 per cent of all the job card holding households interested in working in MGNREGA in the Covid year could not get a single day of work while they wanted 77 days of work on average. As per the MGNREGA Management Information System (MIS), the total amount spent on labour in the surveyed blocks in the Covid year (FY 2020-21) was Rs 152.68 crores. As per our conservative estimate, to fulfill the true demand for work in these blocks, the allocated labour budget should have been Rs 474.27 crores, i.e., more than 3 times the amount actually spent on wages,” said one of the key findings of the study.“The most frequently mentioned reason for not getting as much work as needed, across all blocks, was lack of adequate works being sanctioned/opened. On average, 63% of all job card holding households cited this reason in the surveyed blocks. On average, only 36% of all households that worked in the Covid year got their wages within 15 days. For households who found work in both the periods (pre-Covid and Covid), increased earnings from MGNREGA were able to compensate for somewhere between 20 to 80 percent of income loss depending on the block. For households who had not worked in the pre-Covid year but did find work during the Covid year, we find that MGNREGA earnings compensated for anywhere between 20% and 100% of income lost from other sources,” the study said.“More than 8 in 10 households recommended that MGNREGA should be 100 days per person per year and 3 out of 5 households said that MGNREGA contributed positively to overall development in their village. Despite low wages and payment delays, MGNREGA clearly made a difference during the pandemic, insuring some of the most vulnerable households against income losses. But it fell quite a bit short of fully protecting households either because it did not meet their demand or completely excluded them from the programme,” the study added.Recommending massive expansion of the programme to deal with high work demand, the study also the government should ensure that computerised receipts are given to the workers for work demanded.“Update job cards with work done, wages earned etc. In addition to manual updating of information on job cards, equip each panchayat to a job card printing facility similar to passbook updation facilities in banks. Ensure that wage slips with details of wages and work details are printed and provided to workers after Funds transfer orders are generated. Prominently display a ‘Know Your Rights (KYR)’ concerning MGNREGA and banking rights in public places,” the study recommended.“Ensure that the GPs (gram panchayats) get funds in advance and have more authority in sanctioning works. This will ensure that the mandate of the 73rd constitutional amendment is honoured and work is available on demand. Ensure that social audits are strengthened with timely and adequate funds. Bring every agency involved, including payment intermediaries like NCPI (National Payments Corporation of India), banks, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) etc. within the ambit of social audits with clear penalty norms in case of violations,” said the recommendations of the authors to the government.

Covid-19 pandemic underscores role of MGNREGA as safety net despite shortcomings: Study
A bite of nostalgia and comfort: How dine-ins are making a comeback after Covid lull
The Indian Express | 4 months ago | |
The Indian Express
4 months ago | |

Sneha Saikia’s dining hall came to life again with laughter, jokes, anecdotes, and a combination of aromas coming out of her kitchen as she reopened her doors for home dine-ins in August last year.It was in March 2020, when the Covid lockdown was first imposed in the country, that Saikia, like everyone else, had to shut down her pop-up. Two years later, as travel resumes and restaurants brim with life, home chefs share stories of food, flavours, and resilience.Buy Now | Our best subscription plan now has a special price“Earlier, people never minded dining with strangers but after Covid they became hesitant to even visit a stranger’s home. When the second Covid wave subsided, people started attending the dine-ins again but they were still not comfortable mingling with strangers and preferred coming in with their friends or family,” says Sneha, who started ‘Table for 6 Luncheon’ in 2018 to put Assamese cuisine on the national capital’s culinary map.People choosing to form their own groups and come over for the intimate food experience with only known people made Sneha’s business suffer. The first group of guests she hosted after the pandemic was three couples who were friends with each other. “The couples made the group on their own so as to avoid dining with strangers,” informs Sneha. “But, slowly people started dining with strangers.”Lucknow-based Sheeba Iqbal has a similar story to share. Iqbal, who recently hosted the team of the upcoming movie Bawaal, starring actors Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor, at her dine-in Aab-O-Daana, tells how she had to shut her pop-up and stop food delivery following the pandemic-induced lockdown. However, once the restrictions were lifted and there was a movement of groceries and other raw materials, she resumed home deliveries.  A post shared by Aab_o_Daana (@aab_o_daana) It was in October 2020, after a gap of six months, that Sheeba hosted two Bengali couples and soon after a group of eight doctors from Punjab. “After hosting the Bengali couple, there was no stopping. I hosted the doctors’ groups and business started bouncing back. I had a good season throughout the winter of 2020,” says Sheeba.In the winter of 2021, Sheeba resumed hosting big groups, and then there was no looking back. “The frequency of diners increases in winters, which is from October to March. I do dine-ins every alternate day to meet the demand,” she adds.Sheeba specialises in Awadhi cuisine, the traditional recipes for which have been passed on to generations in Lucknow homes. She learned cooking from her mother but honed her skills under the guidance of her mother-in-law, who belonged to Bhopal, and brought the taste from the royal kitchens of begum of the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.A Bite of ComfortOne of the reasons behind the popularity of dine-ins is the traditional cuisine the host has to offer, which is not found in many restaurants. From Bohri and Awadhi to Assamese and Himachali — there is nostalgia in every bite. Home pop-ups also offer a new way to socialise as they help in bringing people with common interests together, learn about the rich heritage of various communities while enjoying a good home-cooked meal.Dr Aman Bhosle, a Mumbai-based psychotherapist, who is regular to home dine-ins says that besides the authentic food that he gets to taste at these pop-ups, he loves meeting food enthusiasts and making new friends. Bhosle has travelled far and wide to explore various cuisine especially, Southeast Asian cuisine. Next, he is keen to try authentic Russian and German cuisines.Mahua Jain, a Delhi-based content writer, who first visited a home dine-in 2019, says “authentic food” is what attracts her to these places.Jain, 51, who has been to various restaurant pop-ups says she is now searching for a dine-in that specialises in Kashmiri cuisine.Of Food and LaughterNitika Sood, who runs Pahadi Pattal, too closed her doors for home dine-ins during the pandemic but her loyal diners bombarded her with queries on reopening. Overwhelmed by the response to her Himachali food, Sood decided to venture into home deliveries. “I was getting a lot of inquiries about the pop-ups and my diners wanted to taste my food. So, I started home delivery and within no time I was swamped with orders from Delhi-NCR,” Sood says.She takes only 12-15 orders on Saturdays besides orders for special occasions.Although there is no dearth of online orders, Nitika is still set to open her doors for home dine-ins towards the end of the year. “I miss interacting with people, sharing stories and knowledge about Himachali cuisine, and bonding over the food,” says Sood.Dr Ruchi Mittal, who runs ‘Miles n Meals’, too is keen to resume home dine-ins after Diwali. With the virus still lurking around, she intends to write Covid-related protocols on the invite to make the dining experience for her guests safe. Currently, she runs a food delivery business and organises a small gathering of 4-6 people every month.For Sunetra Vijaykar of ‘Dine With Vijaykars (DWV)’, it has always been about dining experience and not just the unique food that kept her away from venturing into home deliveries and made her put the dine-ins on hold.Already having several confirmations from her regular diners and patrons, she plans to restart dine-ins by the last quarter of this year. Asked about the precautions she is going to take when she resumes the pop-up, Sunetra says, “It may not be large groups but a smaller, socially distanced group and more private dinings will be the way ahead.”DWV specialises in Pathare Prabhu (PP) cuisine, the traditional cuisine of the Pathare Prabhu community in Western Maharashtra. As per her, the community has developed a full cuisine over centuries with several items that are unique and some which are twists to the typical neighbouring Marathi and Gujarati dishes.Speaking about the future of home dine-ins, she says, “The last two years have been difficult for people, but now that things are open, and with travel and experiences coming back in action, there is a lot that can happen in the home-dining space.”“The stage seems set for home-dining experiences to take the next steps, which could be in collaborative models with restaurants in more holistic experiences that cover tourism and cultural aspects along with food, like cultural festivals and food consulting,” she feels.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

A bite of nostalgia and comfort: How dine-ins are making a comeback after Covid lull
Maharashtra Village Begins 'Digital Detox' For Residents
Ndtv | 4 months ago | |
Ndtv
4 months ago | |

A siren goes off at 7 pm signaling people to switch off their TV sets and gadgets. (Representational)Sangli, Maharashtra: A village in Maharashtra's Sangli district is showing the way out of the clutter of electronic gadgets and social media platforms in modern life by getting its residents to go in for a "digital detox" every evening.The idea was mooted by Vijay Mohite, the sarpanch of Mohityanche Vadgaon village, and residents have been participating in this novel exercise enthusiastically.A siren goes off from a local temple at 7 pm, signalling people to put off their mobile phones and other gadgets and switch off their television sets, etc to indulge in reading books, studying and talking with one another, while the second alarm at 8.30 pm signals the end of the detox period.Talking to PTI, the coronavirus-induced lockdown and the subsequent spell of online classes brought mobile phones into the hands of children for long hours even after school ended for the day, while television viewing hours of parents got extended."When physical classes resumed, teachers realised children had become lazy, did not want to read and write and were mostly engrossed in their mobile phones before and after the school hours. There weren't separate study rooms in the homes of the villagers. So I put forth the idea of a digital detox," he said."I had proposed a one-and-a-half hour period at first. Initially, there was hesitancy as people were wondering if it was possible to keep away from mobile and TV screens. On Independence Day, we convened a gram sabha of women and decided to purchase a siren. Then ASHA workers, anganwadi sevikas, gram panchayat employees, retired teachers went home to home to create awareness about digital detox," he added.Mohityanche Vadgaon has been home to freedom fighters, has won awards for cleanliness from the state and central governments and is known for maintaining social harmony, with the focus always being on development works, he said."At present, between 7 pm and 8.30 pm, people keep their mobile phones aside, switch off television sets and focus on reading, studying, writing and conversations. A ward-wise committee has been set up to monitor if the initiative is being implemented," the sarpanch explained.Emphasising the need for such a move, student Gayatri Nikam said her peers and others were glued to phones and television sets during lockdown, even during power outages, with hardly a glance at course books and other study material.Another person said women in the village's households would be busy watching television serials and there wasn't much parental supervision over children."Now, from 7 pm to 8.30 pm, children study while parents read and write. There is no disturbance as everyone goes about such productive activities," the villager added.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comIncidentally, earlier this month, some members of the Jain community in Raisen in Madhya Pradesh had observed a "digital fast" for 24 hours during the 'paryushan parva' by keeping away from their smartphones and other electronic gadgets.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Maharashtra Village Begins 'Digital Detox' For Residents
Took chartered flights during lockdown for work, not personal reasons: Nitin Raut to HC
The Indian Express | 4 months ago | |
The Indian Express
4 months ago | |

Congress leader and former state energy minister Nitin Raut recently told the Bombay High Court that he had used chartered flights to travel to Nagpur during the Covid-19 pandemic only for official or administrative work and not for personal reasons.Raut filed his affidavit in response to a PIL by BJP leader Vishwas Pathak, who sought directions against Raut to reimburse state power companies to the tune of more than Rs 40 lakh, allegedly spent on his “illegal” use of chartered flights in 2020.Citing alleged RTI information obtained from power generation and distribution companies, Pathak said that during the nationwide lockdown, Raut had used chartered flights for numerous trips to Mumbai, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Delhi for “administrative work”, and had made the debt-ridden power companies pay his bills amounting to over Rs 40 lakh. Raut denied the allegations that the companies were pressured into paying for the chartered flights and said, “I deny that the expenditure incurred for the chartered flights was illegal, arbitrary and a gross waste of public funds.”Raut also said Pathak had already filed complaints against him with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and BKC Police station in Mumbai and has availed of alternate remedies for his grievances and since both the authorities are seized of the matter, the High Court should not hear the plea. Raut said Pathak was media head of the state BJP and the petition was filed with political vendetta to settle political scores.He also said that he had travelled by chartered flight only while carrying out his duties as minister and since he had undergone angioplasty, his doctors had advised him not to take up long distance road travel, otherwise he would travel to Nagpur by commercial flight or train. He added that being then guardian minister of Nagpur, he had to travel there regularly for administrative work.“At that time, since commercial flights were not operating and due to the urgency of the situation, I was forced to travel by chartered flight,” Raut claimed.The affidavit read, “On the relevant occasions, I had travelled to Nagpur for administrative work which included overseeing of day to day functions of the power companies and to resolve issues brought about by the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Nisarga cyclone. This was to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity.” He added that he had travelled for work, and his responsibilities had included deciding utilisation of power plants for producing oxygen, and ensuring the power supply remained undisturbed. Moreover, he had to travel to oversee rehabilitation of power lines that were destroyed during the Nisarga cyclone that impacted Western Maharashtra.He added that during the lockdown, the energy sector had to work as an essential service and he had to travel as the head of the ministry to ensure power companies work smoothly.

Took chartered flights during lockdown for work, not personal reasons: Nitin Raut to HC
Crimes against women in Mumbai< in pre-Covid days
Times of India | 5 months ago | |
Times of India
5 months ago | |

MUMBAI: Mumbai records more than one offence against women every two hours (total cases in 2021: 5,543). The consolation is that the city ranks 10th among urban centres for crimes against women (see graphic) if measured per lakh population. And rape constitutes a small percentage of these cases (6.5%). In fact, Mumbai provides a silver lining to the overall picture for the state as numbers are down compared to the pre-Covid times of 2019 when cases of crimes against women was higher at 6,519. On the other hand, Maharashtra recorded more crimes against women in 2021 compared to pre-Covid times, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. Over 39,500 cases were filed in Maharashtra in 2021, an increase of more than 6% since 2019 when the figure was 37,144 cases. Activists said child marriage and instances of violence at home were observed the most. Meanwhile, conviction rate was as low as 14%. A total of 4.28 lakh cases of crimes against women were registered during 2021 in India, showing an increase of 15.3% over 2020 (3.71 lakh cases). Most pertained to cruelty by spouse or relatives (31.8%), molestation (20.8%), abduction (17.6%) and rape (7.4%). The crime rate registered per lakh women population in India is 64.5 in 2021 in comparison with 56.5 in 2020, the report said. "There were restrictions on mobility in the lockdown year of 2020 and during some months of 2021 when a spurt in instances of violence at home were observed. The victims were not only women but also adolescent girls," said Nandita Shah of the non-profit Akshara. As lockdown-like restrictions lifted in 2021 and mobility increased, more cases came to light. "Women that were enduring silently until then and couldnt take it anymore could have finally stepped out to report," said activist Priti Patkar of the non-profit Prerana. Activists added that one reason for low conviction rates in crimes against women is the absence of a victim protection programme "The victim and the family are almost entirely on their own without any support. As cases remain pending in court for years, prosecution fatigue also sets in," Patkar said.

Crimes against women in Mumbai< in pre-Covid days
  • Crime cases against kids: 7 reported daily in Mumbai
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Seven cases of crime against children were reported in Mumbai per day in 2021. Mumbai recorded a total of 2,762 cases of crime against children in 2021, second only to Delhi, according to the NCRB. The city also recorded the second highest number of POCSO cases (1,048). In every single case of POCSO (cases of sexual abuse of children), the offender was known to the victim, data revealed. "Children living on the streets are immensely vulnerable to crimes and have no safety net. The state must provide night shelters for every street child on priority," said activist Sandhya Gokhale. Activists said that big cities like Mumbai and New Delhi are densely populated and as a result, the number of crimes occurring would be higher. "As far as POCSO is concerned, registration is mandatory. Then in instances of a child under 18 going missing, the Supreme Court has mandated kidnapping offences to be registered. So for both these offences, the numbers are going to be high as law enforcement agencies wouldn't want to take the risk of not registering an offence which they are mandated to record," said activist Priti Patkar of the non-profit Prerana. More than 1,500 kidnapping cases of children were reported in Mumbai last year. Patkar points out that one interpretation of higher numbers could mean an increase in crime, but it could also mean an increase in reporting and recording of crimes. NCRB data also showed that in POCO cases in Mumbai, a majority of the victims were girls aged 16-18 years.

13% dip in tax collection, 51% rise in market borrowings in pandemic year, says CAG
Times of India | 5 months ago | |
Times of India
5 months ago | |

MUMBAI: The pandemic and the lockdown that followed had an "unprecedented impact" on the state's finances, resulting market borrowings rising drastically by 51.6% and tax revenues shrinking by 13% according to the Comptroller and Auditor General's report of March 2021 which was tabled in the Maharashtra assembly on Thursday. It captures the strain in the state's finances in the lockdown year of 2020-21. By the end of the financial year, the state was left with a massive revenue deficit of Rs 41,142 crore because expenditure outstripped income. Revenue expenditure rose 3.4 % from Rs 3 lakh crore to Rs 3.1 lakh crore between 2019-20 and 2020-21. However, revenue receipts fell by 4.8% from Rs 2.8 lakh crore to Rs 2.7 lakh crore during the same period, the CAG report said. The state's fiscal deficit remained within limits because it cut down on expenditure. During the lockdown year, capital outlay shrank by 18.5%. Capital outlay is used for infrastructure creation and projects and spurs economic growth. Since the lockdown drastically reduced the state's income, it "resorted to large cutbacks on both revenue and capital expenditure to compensate for shortfalls in tax collections." Indeed, capital expenditure reduced from Rs 36,416 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 29,687 crore in 2020-21. The CAG report said public debt receipts of the state rose by 57.7% and repayment of public debt rose by 15.5%. The committed expenditure on interest payments, salaries, wages and pensions amounted to 57.5% of total revenue expenditure, the CAG report found. It found that interest payments rose by 10% in 2020-21 compared to the previous year. Salary payments accounted for 32.3% of revenue expenditure while pension payments accounted for 13.3% of revenue expenditure. The CAG report also stated that expenditure under subsidies rose substantially by almost 44% between 2019-20 and 20202-21.

13% dip in tax collection, 51% rise in market borrowings in pandemic year, says CAG
A Sunderbans village comes together to help its kids get back to school after Covid
The Indian Express | 5 months ago | |
The Indian Express
5 months ago | |

THE COVID-INDUCED lockdowns of 2020 meant that 14-year-old Sheikh Selim, a resident of Ghoramara island in Sunderbans, lost touch with education. His hopes of rejoining school were again crushed in 2021 when the Yaas cyclone wreaked havoc. Both events were financially ruinous for his family and forced Selim and his parents to migrate to Kerala for work. In Thrissur, he would get paid Rs 800 a day for his work. Two years after dropping out, he is back in his village, glad as he can be to be sitting in a make-shift classroom – even though it has no fans – and back to studying.But he is not alone and this is not a regular school. Many boys and girls of the village are now getting back to education in the “Panchayater Pathshala” — panchayat’s school). This school was set up last month by Ghoramara Gram panchayat, months after the West Bengal government ordered schools to be reopened.However, there was one problem: the returning students had a tough time picking up where they left. “We returned early this year. My father got me re-admitted to school. But I felt clueless in the class because I had been away from my studies for so long. Although back in school, I struggled and was irregular. I did not understand what was being taught. Then one day the panchayat used loudspeakers to announce that it was opening a pathshala that will provide free tuition. I joined in and it has been helping me,” said Selim, whose father now works as a bookbinder.The pathshala not only provides free tuition but also raises awareness about issues such as child marriage and child labour.According to Sanjib Sagar, 50, pradhan of Ghoramara, the gram panchayat had seen a spike in school dropouts, migration and child marriages during the lockdown, as also after Yaas cyclone in May 2021.“This island is already a victim of erosion. Migration for work was a common phenomenon here like in the rest of the Sunderbans. After the lockdown and cyclone, the situation turned from bad to worse. The cyclone destroyed most of the betel vines and agricultural land on the island,” Sagarsaid.He said the idea for this initiative came from one of the panchayat officials and it was immediately embraced by everyone.“The local secondary school (Ghoramara Milan Vidyapith) allowed us to use three of their classrooms in the morning before the formal start of school. Initially, the initiative was only for poor students, but now children from all backgrounds are coming to this pathshala,” said Sagar.In one month, the student list has gone from 55 to more than a hundred. The teaching is done by panchayat officials as well as locals, all of whom work for free.“When schools reopened we went to class 10 in the high school and found that out of 53 registered students, only 22 were present in class. The students told us that their classmates had decided to discontinue school; some students even left the island to work elsewhere,” said Shuvrakanti Jana, panchayat sahayak of Ghoramara GP. “Many students complained that they have lost touch with studies. It was then that the idea of the pathshala came to us.”“We realised that only giving free tuition is not enough to stop dropouts. We needed to create a process by which children would again develop an interest in their studies. So we use storytelling and awareness campaigns,” said Jana.But running this initiative is not easy for panchayat officials.“My home is in Nadia district. It is far away. Therefore, like some of my colleagues, I stay in a room of the panchayat office itself. Early morning, we teach and then get started with panchayat’s work from 10 am. It is hectic but we are doing something for the children,” said Debashish Dhali, who works as panchayat secretary.The pathshala currently has 10 teachers. Four of them are panchayat employees and others are locals. The panchayat employees teach during the week, while the locals take over in the weekends.The gram panchayat has 956 families with a population of 4,366. Prashanta Jana, 42, of Ghoramara, who is among those who teach, said: “I have been working as a para-teacher in Ghoramara Milan Vidyapith for the last 16 years. When the panchayat pradhan asked me to join here, I agreed. Even though there is no pay, I like the concept.”

A Sunderbans village comes together to help its kids get back to school after Covid
Tribunal sets aside dismissal of SRPF official who did not turn up on duty citing pandemic
The Indian Express | 5 months ago | |
The Indian Express
5 months ago | |

OBSERVING THAT the “situation was critical” during the national lockdown with “prevalence of fear psychosis”, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) last week set aside the dismissal of an SRPF official who had been dismissed from service for not turning up for duty during the pandemic.Mayur Vadje, a police naik with the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) posted at Goregaon, had gone on a sanctioned leave to his native place Indapur in Pune from March 16, 2020 to March 31, 2020. However, he did not turn up for work on April 1, 2020 and claimed it was on account of “non-availability of government vehicles or public vehicles to go back to Mumbai during the pandemic.”The applicant claimed that even though he sent his application to SRPF seeking concession, his service was terminated on June 5, 2020 on the ground that his was an “emergency service” that he did not join on time. He further alleged that while others who were dismissed by the same order were reinstated, he was not.For its part, the SRPF said that on May 12 that year, the applicant was, on WhatsApp, asked to resume duty either in Mumbai or in the units in Pune closer to his house. His service was terminated after he did not join either of the place, the SRPF added. It was further mentioned that an FIR, too, had been registered against the applicant for not appearing on duty.The Tribunal observed that the applicant had “defaulted” as he did not join his duty despite having the option to report to work at Pune. “However, considering the critical situation and nationwide lockdown moreover fear psychosis and the fact that the applicant had already put in service of more than 10 years and he is 36 years old, we are of the view that this is not a case fit for dismissal,” the order read.It added, “The respondents can however take appropriate steps that are provided in the rules against the applicant for the misconduct.” The Tribunal further clarified to the applicant that it was not inclined to grant his prayer to provide him wages for the period he was not allowed to serve. The Tribunal directed that the applicant be reinstated within a period of three weeks from August 8, when the order was passed.

Tribunal sets aside dismissal of SRPF official who did not turn up on duty citing pandemic
Fatal road crashes see a downward trend in Mumbai even as number of casualties rises in Maharashtra
The Indian Express | 6 months ago | |
The Indian Express
6 months ago | |

A look at the statistics of fatal crashes or road accidents in Mumbai over the last few years shows a declining trend with casualties coming further down in the first six months of 2022 as compared to the corresponding period in pre-pandemic year 2019. On the flip side, in Maharashtra, the fatalities continued to rise this year as well.Another trend witnessed this year was sudden decrease, as compared to last year, in enforcement cases in which people had to pay up the increased fines for violations.According to data from the Mumbai Traffic Police, while 447 people were killed in 420 crashes in 2019, 387 people succumbed to their injuries caused in 376 crashes in 2021. 2020 saw 349 road mishap casualties with the dip being attributed to lockdown called during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.A look at data from 2022 shows a further decrease in cases in the first half of the year in Mumbai with 156 people dying in 154 crashes till June. In 2019, 233 people were killed in 215 crashes in the same period. In 2021, 202 people were killed in road accidents during the period.Raj Tilak Roushan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Mumbai Traffic Police, central & headquarters), said eight strategic measures have been undertaken by the department to decrease fatalities. These included heavy enforcement where cops registered FIRs against motorists driving in wrong direction besides counselling of drivers and pillion riders not wearing helmets.With 22.37 lakh cases, the state capital accounted for over one fourth (29.48 per cent) of 75.88 lakh e-challan cases filed in Maharashtra.Elaborating on the measures undertaken by his department, Roushan said, “The measures taken by us included visiting accident spots for analysis, recommending suitable measures to departments concerned for road engineering changes and taking possible action at traffic department level; having maximum presence of traffic policemen during peak hours and suitably during night at specific spots where accidents occur; continuous monitoring of roads/traffic by our CCTV system; information given to departments concerned for potholes etc. and following up with them; heavy enforcement action along with Lok Adalat for recovery of fines; and extensive awareness drives at school, colleges and on the streets.”While these measures have worked for Mumbai Police, the picture of fatalities remains grim at the state level. The fatalities in Maharashtra, as per Maharashtra Highway Traffic Police, in the first six months of this year increased to 8,068 people being killed when compared to 2019 when 7,069 people were killed in the same period. In 2021, about 6,837 people were killed till June.Further, fatalities in Maharashtra show an increasing trend over the past few years. About 12,788 people were killed in crashes in 2019 while the number rose to 13,528 in 2021. Due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, fatalities had decreased to 11,569 in 2020.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxMeanwhile, the authorities, who were pinning their hopes on increased fines to bring down the number of crashes and resultant fatalities, seem to be now treading cautiously in the direction. Enforcement cases dropped from 1.12 crore (1,12,01,106) from the first six months of 2021 to over 75 lakh for the corresponding period in 2022. However, as the fine amounts executed by e-challan were increased by the government, the total fine executed in this period rose to Rs 591 crore this year from Rs 417 crore in 2021.Kulwant Kumar Sarangal, additional director general of police (Traffic), Maharashtra, said, “At some point, it is expected that enforcement will make gradual shifts in motorists’ behaviour. We will continue to recover e-challan fines through Lok Adalat. A manifold increase in the fines will naturally lead to better compliance with laws.”

Fatal road crashes see a downward trend in Mumbai even as number of casualties rises in Maharashtra
Son of a tea-stall owner, weightlifter Sanket wins silver, India’s first medal at 2022 Commonwealth Games
The Indian Express | 6 months ago | |
The Indian Express
6 months ago | |

Before he joined the national weightlifting camp in Patiala last year, Sanket Mahadev Sargar regularly helped out at the family-owned tea stall in Sangli, Maharashtra. He also found time to train and attend college.On Saturday afternoon, the 21-year-old weightlifter won India’s first medal of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, a silver in the 55 kg category with a total lift of 248 kilograms; 113 in the snatch and 135 in the clean and jerk. Malaysia’s Mohamad Aniq Bin won gold with a total lift of 249 (107 and 142).Sanket’s proud father Mahadev Sargar took half a day off to celebrate. For the first time in a long time, he wasn’t selling tea. “I can afford to take a one hour break from work,” Mahadev said.The family has been in celebration mode and Sanket’s medal gives more reason for joy.Last month, Sanket’s younger sister Kajol Sargar became the first gold medallist of the 4th Khelo India Youth Games. Mahadev knows where to display Sanket’s medal . “When Kajol returned with the medal, we displayed the medal first at the tea-stall. That’s what has provided all the things for our family till date and Sanket’s medal too will be displayed on the tea-stall first,” Mahadev said.Mahadev played a role in Sanket looking beyond being a street vendor, like his father and grandfather.Sanket made mangode (a type of moong pakoda) and vada pav at the tea stall where paan is also sold. But his father wanted him to move up in life. “I used to tell him that my father used to sell bananas and I sell tea and pakoda. So dream big,” Sargar senior added. “With today’s medal, he has changed his identity as well my identity.”Sanket’s dream of winning a Commonwealth Games medal started when he saw Gururaja Poojary winning the silver medal in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on TV while managing the tea stall and paan joint. “I remember that day. I was at the tea stall and saw Gururaj bhai winning the medal in the Commonwealth Games. I believed I could achieve the same feat too one day,” Sanket told The Indian Express on Friday.His father was a fan of weightlifting coach Nana Sinhasane. The Digvijay Weightlifting Centre, run by Sinhasane, was located near their tea stall. Sanket enrolled at the centre in 2012. It would take Sanket six months to get used to the training schedule as well as manage academics and find time to help his father at the stall.“My father had told me that he wants me to either study or pursue sport. While I started weight-lifting training, I also had to help him at the tea stall. My day would start at 6am at the shop, where I would prepare the items for the day before going for my training. After school, I would manage the paan joint also,” Sanket said.The Sangli youngster would win a gold medal in the Maharashtra Junior Weightlifting Championship with a total lift of 194 Kgs in 49 kg weight category including 86 kg in snatch and 108 kg in clean and jerk in 2017. The youngster followed that by becoming the Maharashtra youth champion in 2018 followed by a bronze medal in the Junior National Youth Championship at Vizag the same year.Coach Mayur Sinhasane, who has been training Sanket since 2017 after his father Nana fell ill, remembers Sanket’s early days in the sport. “My father knew that Sanket’s family cannot afford the money needed at a later stage for a weight-lifter. But as a coach, he saw something in Sanket. Sanket weighed around 35 Kgs at that time but had a good stamina. Initially, my father worked on increasing his stamina. Sanket would always be the first one to reach the academy. The only time he missed training was for a year when he was preparing for his Class 10 exams,” Mayur said.Sanket was crowned Khelo India Youth Games and Khelo India University Games champion in early 2020, creating new records of 231kg and 244kg respectively. He also became the senior national champion in the 55kg category with a total lift of 243kg at Kolkata.The onset of Covid-19 disrupted his training, like it did for so many other athletes around the country. “The Police post is just opposite their home and tea stall. So there was always someone keeping an eye on who was stepping out during the lockdown.So it meant that Sanket could only do light training at home. I sent a barbell and squat set to him. He trained on the first floor. So he had to train with caution. It resulted in a back injury to him,” Mayur remembered.It took Sanket more than two months to recover from injury. The Maharashtra lifter once again became a senior national champion with a total lift of 247Kgs last year at the competition held in Patiala.He had entertained thoughts of quitting the sport during the lockdown when the family’s income was hit and the back injury had put a question mark abou this fitness.“It was a time (lockdown) when I thought about quitting the sport. There was almost no business at my father’s tea-stall and the practice at home meant that I suffered a back injury. But my father kept motivating me by showing old newspaper clips of my medal winning performances,” Sanket said.Last year Sanket made it to the national camp and created a new snatch record in the Commonwealth Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he lifted 113kg. Early this year, he defended his senior national title in Orissa before winning the gold medal in Singapore International, where he created a new Commonwealth and National record with a total lift of 256kg, including 113kg in snatch and 143 kg in clean and jerk.“Prior to the inclusion in TOPS and national camp, my coach would spend money on my supplements and training and my father would spend from his savings too. When I joined the national camp, training under chief coach Vijay Sharma sir and seeing Olympic silver medalist Mirabai Chanu train motivated me,” Sanket said.The CWG medal is a stepping stone for Sanket. But in heroes like Mirabai he has chosen the right role models.

Son of a tea-stall owner, weightlifter Sanket wins silver, India’s first medal at 2022 Commonwealth Games
Maharashtra: Childhood Friends Lost Jobs in Lockdown, Started Meat Venture; Sold It For Rs 10 Crore in 2 Years
India | 6 months ago | |
India
6 months ago | |

Aurangabad: Tragedy struck the lives of Akash Mhaske and Aditya Kirtane in mid-2020 amid the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The childhood friends who went on to become engineers had spent the first month of the lockdown watching movies, but continuation of the restrictions led their respective employers to lay them off. Rather than applying for jobs in this Maharashtra city blessed with some industrial activity in the vicinity, they decided to start out on their own. Reading books on successful businesses cemented the decision. But they were not sure of what exactly to do.Also Read - 100 Year Old Nerel-Matheran Toy Train To Resume Services By End of 2022. All You Need To about This Iconic LocomotiveA vocational training course on meat and poultry processing conducted by a local varsity was the serendipity moment. The business idea was to enter the highly unorganised meat market with a credible offering to retail consumers on demand. The idea was seemingly odd and the budding entrepreneurs did not receive full support from their families initially. “Our families initially thought that no one would marry us because of the nature of work we are doing. Later they stood with us,” Aditya Kirtane told PTI. Also Read - Maharashtra BJP ‘Saddened’ By Eknath Shinde Becoming CM, Agreed With Heavy Heart: PatilStarting from a 100 sq ft space in their neighbourhood with a seed investment of Rs 25,000 managed by the friends from their savings, their venture ‘Apetitee’ grew well, and now does a turnover of over Rs 4 lakh a month. While the business continued to gain traction, they also got spotted by Fabi Corporation, another city company. Also Read - Do You Know About The Glowing Forest In Maharashtra? A Surreal Beauty To Experience This Season!Fabi has bought a majority stake in Apetitee for Rs 10 crore recently, and the company’s co-founders Kirtane and Mhaske will continue to be with the brand with minority stakes. The profit margin they work with is 40 per cent. Selling meat is an entirely unorganised segment in Aurangabad, Fabi’s director Fahad Syed said.Syed said after the deal, the brand name Apetitee will continue and they will introduce newer products like pre-marinated products. A slew of investments have also been planned, he added. These will include development of an application for consumers to place orders, revamping 100 shops in the next three years to ensure the brand has a physical presence and creating a fleet of electric vehicles to transport the orders to doorsteps, Syed said.The new management is marketing the venture through the online mediums and relying on the word of mouth as well, Syed said, exuding confidence that the brand will create 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in Aurangabad as the expansion happens. Plans are also afoot to take the venture beyond Aurangabad into other tier-II and tier-III cities of Maharashtra, he said.

Maharashtra: Childhood Friends Lost Jobs in Lockdown, Started Meat Venture; Sold It For Rs 10 Crore in 2 Years
Going digital: 22% rise in Maharashtra's mobile subscriber base over pre-Covid times
Times of India | 7 months ago | |
Times of India
7 months ago | |

THANE: The Kulkarnis from Thane did not give their school-going children their own mobile phones till they reached secondary section. However, the Covid-imposed lockdown and subsequent online school sessions forced the couple to purchase independent connections for their children as they were unable to share their gadgets due to their own work-from-home schedules. The Kulkarnis are among the lakhs of subscribers who unknowingly helped bring about a 22% rise in mobile phone connections in Maharashtra in the pandemic years of 2020-21 and 2021-22 compared to the non-Covid times. A cursory tally of the data released recently by the state government shows that while 1,306.2 lakh connections were operational in 2019-20, the number swelled to 1,265.8 lakh in the first nine months of 2021-22. In 2020-21, there were 1,325.6 lakh more connections with a monthly average of 110 lakh active connections. Interestingly, landline connections, which have been seeing a gradual decline, also saw a turnaround in the number of subscriptions last fiscal. (see graphic) Experts have attributed this brisk business for mobile network providers to the work-from-home and online education trends. "Many employees were asked to work from home and schools and colleges had taken up online tutoring. While the initial year saw many parents accommodating and sharing gadgets with their children, they eventually decided to ensure an independent connection for their child's education needs," said Achintya Mukherjee, a telephone consumer activist. Bhavana J, a businesswoman from Mulund, said her family has dedicated numbers for their two children to ensure their work didn't get affected during the lockdown. "We were initially sceptical of allowing our younger child a mobile phone, but the online education compelled us to do so as we couldn't share our phones due to our work schedules," she said. The increase in subscriptions is apparently the highest witnessed in the last seven years smashing the near 12% rise reported in 2016-17, the records show. The average connection count had stagnated for two years since 2017-18 and also showed a drop in 2019-20, but took a northward turn in the coming years, with the initial numbers of last fiscal reporting one of the best performances for the industry.

Going digital: 22% rise in Maharashtra's mobile subscriber base over pre-Covid times
Maharashtra govt seeks to bar home delivery of liquor
Times of India | 7 months ago | |
Times of India
7 months ago | |

MUMBAI: The state home department has asked the excise commissioner to direct all stakeholders in the liquor industry to stop home delivery of liquor, a service which was encouraged during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. The home department's letter to the commissioner suggests restoration of pre-pandemic practices of sale, thus indirectly putting an end to home delivery of liquor. "Owing to the withdrawal of protocols for Covid-related restrictions, the decision to allow home delivery stands automatically withdrawn as it was meant for meeting social distancing norms during the lockdown period only... all stakeholders should be intimated about this and related actions be taken," said the letter. However, the excise department has said the "government will take a call...after considering all legal and social factors" indicating that a rethink on discontinuing the practice is likely. Retailers continue to keep home delivery on and will seek the excise commissioner's directives before implementing a decision. Though consolidated data on home deliveries is not available, lakhs of consumers have taken to ordering liquor at home since the pandemic began. Bhavesh Patel, owner of the World of Wines chain, said he has a home delivery database of 9,500 customers at one store alone in Nariman Point. "Thousands of delivery and IT personnel will lose their jobs if home delivery of liquor stops. Our shop, for instance, makes an average 150 daily despatches from Colaba to Andheri. Today's generation is tech savvy and they prefer to buy online rather than stand in queue at the shop. Online, one can select from a range of options around the clock." Patel pointed out that Alcobev (alcohol beverage) retail home delivery was the first non-essential business to be opened up during the pandemic owing to public demand and the need for revenue. Principal secretary for excise Valsa Nair Singh said home delivery was approved only during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. "However, the government will shortly take a call on the future need to have a policy for home delivery or not after considering all legal and social factors surrounding it," she said, while speaking to TOI. Meanwhile, excise commissioner Kantilal Umap said the prior position before the first lockdown will be maintained till the time the government takes its final call. Sumit Chawla of Association of Progressive Liquor Vendors said as of now the home department's letter is to the excise commissioner to stop home delivery. "We will seek commissioner's guidance on Thursday before taking any decision," he added.

Maharashtra govt seeks to bar home delivery of liquor
  • Maharashtra: Liquor industry may have to stop home delivery; state to decide on continuation after considering legal, social aspects
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: The state home department has asked the excise commissioner to direct all stakeholders in the liquor industry to stop home delivery of liquor it had permitted during Covid lockdown. However, the excise department officials said that the 'government will take a call on its future after considering all legal and social factors'. Meanwhile, retailers said their home delivery was on as they will seek commissioner's directives on Thursday over the development. The fact is that lakhs of consumers are now used to ordering liquor at home instead of queuing up at the shops which was actually the reason behind starting home delivery during the pandemic period. Excise officials said except for initial days they had no count of day-to-day home deliveries in Mumbai or Maharashtra so far. The home department letter suggests restoration of pre-pandemic liquor sale practices thus indirectly putting an end to the home delivery liquor. Owing to the withdrawal of state protocol for covid lockdown, the decision to allow home delivery stands automatically withdrawn as it was meant for meeting social distancing norms during lockdown period only, stated the home department letter to the commissioner. However, the excise department officials' version saying that the government will take a call over future need of home delivery only after considering legal and social factors around it, has indicated that the government might soon rethink on its total withdrawal. Principal secretary for excise Valsa Nair Singh said home delivery was approved only during the lockdown to ensure social distancing. "However, the government will shortly take a call on the future need to have a policy for home delivery or not after considering all legal and social factors surrounding it," she said while talking to TOI. Meanwhile, excise commissioner Kantilal Umap said the prior position before the first lockdown will be maintained till the time the government takes its final call. Sumit Chawla of the Association of progressive liquor vendors (APLV) said as of now it is the home department's letter to the excise commissioner to end the home delivery as per its original mandate. However, we will seek commissioner's guidance on Thursday before taking any decision on closure of home delivery, he added. Bhavesh Patel, owner of World of Wines chain of wine shops, has a home delivery database of 9,500 customers in just one store in Nariman Point. "Thousands of delivery and IT personnel will lose their jobs if home delivery of liquor stops. Our shop for instance makes an average 150 daily despatches from Colaba to Andheri. Today's generation is tech savvy and they prefer to buy online rather than stand in queue at the shop. Online, one can select from a range of options around the clock. On the one hand, wines are now allowed to be sold in supermarkets, and on the other, liquor stores cannot even cater to consumers by delivering at home for their ease and comfort." Parmar points out that Alcobev (alcohol) retail home delivery was the first non-essential business to be allowed to be opened to people during the pandemic owing to public demand and the state government's need for revenue. (With inputs from Bella Jaisinghani)