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Only one strain of Covid-19 Delta variant found in India considered of concern: WHO

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Covid-19

Only one strain of the Covid-19 Delta variant which was first found in India is being considered of concern, while two other strains had been downgraded, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday.

The deadly B.1.617 variant of the virus has been termed as a triple mutant variant since it is split into three lineages and has caused an explosive outbreak in the country. According to the UN health agency, the entire strain was declared as a variant of concern, but lately it said only one of the sub-lineages deserved that label.

In its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, WHO said, It has become evident that greater public health risks are currently associated with B.1.617.2, while lower rates of transmission of other lineages have been observed.

Besides B.1.617.2, the three other variants of the virus which are more dangerous than the original version are also considered variants of concern because of its more transmissibility, and potential to get past the vaccine protections.

The variant has now been dubbed Delta, in a bid to avoid the possible stigmatisation associated with referring to them with the name of the countries where they originated or detected first. We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant, the WHO said.

The UN health agency said that further studies into the impact of this variant remain a high priority for them. Most recently, a new hybrid variant announced by Vietnam’s health authorities appeared to be a variation of Delta.

WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove said, What we understand is that it is this B.1.617.2 variant with one additional deletion in the location of the spike protein. We know that the B.1.617.2, the Delta variant, does have increased transmissibility, which means it can spread easier between people, she said.

Read Also: BJP’s central leadership in Uttar Pradesh to review Covid handling before 2022 polls

Meanwhile, the B.1.617.1 sub-lineage has been downgraded to a variant of interest, and called Kappa. And the B.1.617.3 is now not even considered of interest since relatively few reports of this variant have been submitted to date and has not been attributed a Greek letter, said the WHO.

Bihar news

Nitish Kumar government approves Bihar’s first Film Promotion Policy

The policy ensures a single-window clearance for all government permissions, as well as adequate security and safety arrangements.

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government on Friday approved its first Film Promotion Policy, with a motive to provide full institutional support to movie makers in the State.

According to reports, the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Kumar, has approved the proposal for a Film Promotion Policy.

The policy aims to provide a one-stop clearance for all government permissions for filmmakers, while also ensuring adequate security and safety measures. Additionally, it offers financial incentives for regional films produced in languages such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Angika, and Bajjika.

S Siddharth, Additional Chief Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat), after the meeting, said that the Cabinet has approved Bihar’s new film promotion policy. He added that there is significant potential and numerous opportunities for filmmaking in Bihar. The proposal originated from the state government’s Art, Culture, and Youth Affairs department, Siddarth said.

Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, Additional Chief Secretary of the Art, Culture, and Youth Affairs Department, explained that under the new policy, filmmakers will receive assistance to make movies showcasing Bihar’s rich cultural heritage.

Bamhrah asserted that Bihar’s scenic locations and adequate infrastructure as attractions for filmmakers.

She said that the policy includes financial grants of up to Rs 4 crore for producing films, documentaries, and serials in regional languages and others.

Moreover, the policy offers various financial incentives for regional films in languages such as Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magahi, Angika, and Bajjika, she added.

The policy ensures a single-window clearance for all government permissions, as well as adequate security and safety arrangements, she further said.

Bamhrah also mentioned the setting up of an empowered committee and a film facilitation centre to streamline processes for the fraternity.

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Book reviews

Walking On The Razor’s Edge: The path of the seeker

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The Power of Karma Yoga by Gopi Chandra Das (Jaico Books) is an attempt to unravel the mystique of the Bhagavad Gita in the contemporary context. Is Lord Krishna’s counsel to Arjuna still relevant in today’s time and social space ? How can the timeless teachings of Lord Krishna be adopted by people struggling to cope with the stresses and challenges of modern life? Is there a key teaching which can be easily adopted by stress-torn people? These and many more questions are answered by the author in his easy-to-read style.

The basic premise is that the stress is a function of identity; identity with ego or with role-playing. We all play roles in life: in the family, the office and in the social sphere. These roles demand close identification and exact their cost by way of fear, frustration and failures.

The way out is to ease one’s sense of identity with one’s temporal roles. At the metaphysical level, it means keeping oneself in a detached state from one’s ego. This requires sustained spiritual discipline, but automatically yields to mental distancing with mundane roles as well. No wonder the Katha Upanishad compares the spiritual path to a razor’s edge.

Lord Krishna sought to instil this detached perspective in Arjuna by underlining the perishable nature of the body and the transitory nature of the world. However, the key is to strike a balance between total detachment and total attachment. The golden mean is attained by letting go with discrimination. If we detach too much, it will become difficult to perform our duties; if we cling too much, the material will become a millstone. The idea is to be in the world and yet not be of it. As the Persian saint Abu Said said, “To buy and sell and yet never forget God.”

Detachment, however, doesn’t mean irresponsibility. On the contrary, it means working with utter responsibility; with a sense that the job at hand is a moment to glorify the divine. It is not only work for work’s sake; work is taken up as a tool for self-realization. This is more deeply grasped if we acknowledge that the Gita is not only a handbook of divine knowledge or spiritualised action but essentially a guidepost for the man treading the path of enlightenment.

Sri Aurobindo says: “The Gita is not a weapon for dia­lectical warfare; it is a gate opening on the whole world of spiritual truth and experience, and the view it gives us embraces all the provinces of that supreme region. It maps out, but it does not cut up or build walls or hedges to confine our vision.”

Or as Paramahansa Yoganananda puts it: Gita sheds light on any point of life in which the devotee finds himself in.

Delving yet further, Gopinath explains in the book that letting go is made easy by the practice of apagriha, or being unattached to desires with conscious control on attachment-driven strivings. In the process, one’s motive gets transformed from want-driven to purpose-driven. The aim, at the highest level, being self-realization: the acme of spiritual strivings. For all material strivings ought to be in essence spititual strivings.

When we shift from want-driven to purpose-driven action, the need for personal validation ceases. In our quest for a spiritual-centric action mode, yagna plays an important role. The concept of yagna is transposed from a religious fire-rite to diurnal mundane acts in which personal motives are quenched. As the borderline between the spiritual and the material gets increasingly dissolved, the quest for enlightenment becomes the summum bonum of life.

The direction and blessings of a sadguru is also needed in this eternal quest for soul freedom. In the ultimate sense, the material life and its duties become a stepping stone for a higher life which man embraces to achieve the state of kaivalya. The book lucidly interweaves real-life stories with philosophical concepts, which make for interesting reading.

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India News

Centre lists 6 new Bills for Parliament Monsoon Session

The Centre will introduce six new Bills, including the one to amend the Disaster Management Law.

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The Centre will introduce six new Bills, including the one to amend the Disaster Management Law, at the beginning of the monsoon sessions of the Parliament, which will start on July 22.  

Besides the Finance Bill, the government has also included the Bhartiya Vayuyan Vidheyak, 2024 to replace the Aircraft Act of 1934 to provide enabling provisions for ease of doing business in the civil aviation sector.

The list of Bills was published by Parliament bulletins and furnished by the Lok Sabha secretariat on Thursday evening. The Monsoon Session will kick off on July 22 and continue till August 12.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to present the Union Budget on July 23.

Other bills listed for introduction and passage during the session are the Boilers Bill, Bhartiya Vayuyan Vidheyak Bill, Coffee (Promotion and Development) Bill and the Rubber (Promotion and Development) Bill.

Notably, the Boilers Bill replaced the pre-independence era law, the Coffee (Promotion and Development) Bill and the Rubber (Promotion and Development) Bill.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also incorporated the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), which has the final say on the parliament agenda; the committee comprises 14 nominated MPs from different parties.

From the BJP, the committee involves Nishikant Dubey, Anurag Singh Thakur, Bhartruhari Mahtab, P.P. Chaudhary, Baijayant Panda, and Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal. From the Congress, K. Suresh and Gaurav Gogoi have been included. Sudip Bandyopadhyay represents the TMC, Dayanidhi Maran represents the DMK, and Arvind Sawant represents the Shiv Sena UBT.

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