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May 11 (11:08) Twitter donates Rs 110 crores to 3 NGOs to help fight Covid-19 in India (

News Entry# 451365  Blog Entry# 4959396   
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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Monday tweeted that the amount has been donated to three non-governmental organisations - Care, Aid India and Sewa International USA. While CARE has been given $10 million, Aid India and Sewa International USA have received USD 2.5 million.
Microblogging giant Twitter has donated $15 million (or approximately Rs 110 crores) to help address the COVID-19 crisis in India, which is battling the unprecedented second wave of the deadly pandemic. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Monday tweeted that the amount has been donated to three non-governmental organisations - Care, Aid India and Sewa International USA. While CARE has been given $10 million, Aid India and Sewa International USA have received USD 2.5 million each. "Sewa International is a
Hindu faith-based, humanitarian, non-profit service organisation. This grant will support the procurement of lifesaving equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) and CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines as part of Sewa International "s 'Help India Defeat COVID-19" campaign," the San Francisco-based company said in a statement."Equipment will be distributed to government hospitals and COVID-19 care centres and hospitals," it said. Reacting to the announcement, Sewa International's vice president for Marketing and Fund Development, Sandeep Khadkekar, thanked Dorsey for his generous donation, saying it is gratifying that Sewa's work has been recognised. "We are a volunteer-driven non-profit organisation, and we believe in serving all, following the sacred Hindu benediction, "Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah" — "May all be happy"," Mr Khadkekar told PTI."Our administrative costs are about five per cent, meaning that every dollar a donor offers, we spend 95 cents of it on the work that it is earmarked for. In these past two weeks, we have seen how overwhelmed India's healthcare system is, and we want to do as much as we can to come to the aid of people who are deeply affected. Twitter "s generosity will go a long way in helping us do the work we want to do and that we need to do," he said. With this, Houston-headquartered Sewa USA has so far raised USD 17.5 million towards its India COVID-19 relief efforts. CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty. Twitter said the grant of USD 10 million will support CARE's urgent action to help address the deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections devastating India. "Funds will be used to supplement government efforts by setting up temporary COVID-19 care centres; providing oxygen, PPE kits and other critically needed emergency supplies for frontline health workers; and addressing vaccine hesitancy and helping ensure that people get vaccinated, particularly in remote, marginalised communities in India," it said.Association for India's Development (AID) is a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. AID partners with grassroots organisations in India on interconnected areas of education, health, agriculture, livelihoods, environment, and human rights, Twitter said."This grant will help under-resourced communities identify COVID symptoms, prevent spread, access care and treatment, benefit from medical equipment including oxygen, oximeters, thermometers, protective gear and vaccination, survive lockdowns, regain livelihoods and will strengthen hospitals and NGOs that serve rural and low-income communities," Twitter added.India has been severely affected by the unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus, and hospitals in several states are reeling under the shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs, and beds.After recording over four lakh fresh cases for four consecutive days, India witnessed a single-day rise of 3,66,161 COVID-19 cases on Monday, which pushed its tally to 2,26,62,575, according to the health ministry. The death count due to the viral disease climbed to 2,46,116, with 3,754 more people succumbing to it, the ministry's data showed.
May 09 (21:01) Sonu Sood arranges oxygen cylinders, Salman Khan provides financial aid: How Bollywood is helping those in need amid Covid-19’s second wave (

News Entry# 451249  Blog Entry# 4958611   
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Like last year, Sonu Sood has emerged as an icon of hope that thousands are turning to as India battles the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The actor has helped many who failed to get the much-needed resources — whether an oxygen cylinder or a bed in a hospital — from a visibly struggling healthcare system.

He is not the only one though. Others from Bollywood have also been doing their bit to amplify those in need. Bhumi Pednekar recently announced an initiative to identify resources to enable facilitation and
access to medical supplies, plasma request and donors. The actor has been providing help to people posting SOS calls on social media. During the period, Bhumi lost two of her close people in a day and the grief has only strengthened the actor’s resolve.

Around the same time, actor-producer Priyanka Chopra addressed the devastating Covid-19 crisis and brought global attention to the situation in India.



“The Covid-19 situation across India is grave. I’m seeing images and stories coming in from different parts of the country that are so scary… the situation is out of control and our medical fraternity is at a breaking point,” Priyanka wrote on Instagram on April 20. Ten days later, the actor and singer-husband Nick Jonas announced a fundraiser to help India as the country faces the debilitating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

My heart breaks. India is suffering from COVID19 & the US has ordered 550M more vaccines than needed @POTUS @WHCOS @SecBlinken @JakeSullivan46 Thx for sharing AstraZeneca worldwide, but the situation in my country is critical. Will you urgently share vaccines w/ India? #vaxlive

— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) April 26, 2021

Priyanka Chopra also publicly sought help from US President Joe Biden, tagging him in a tweet and writing, “the situation in my country is critical. Will you urgently share vaccines.” She also wrote that while India is suffering from a horrific second wave of the pandemic, the US has ordered 550M more vaccines than needed.”

Superstar Akshay Kumar and wife Twinkle Khanna have donated hundred oxygen concentrators to an organisation. Akshay also pledged Rs 1 crore to politician and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir’s foundation to help those affected by the coronavirus. Director Rohit Shetty, who donated last year for daily-wage workers in Bollywood, has contributed for 250 hospital beds at the Guru Tegh Bahadur COVID Care Centre in Delhi.

Superstar Salman Khan, in a follow up to his previous year’s financial assistance for Bollywood’s daily-wage workers, will be crediting Rs 1500 in the bank accounts of 25,000 industry workers who are facing unemployment due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE) general secretary, Ashoke Dubey told, “Salman Khan’s manager spoke to BN Tiwari (FWICE president) and asked us to send details of 25,000 workers from the federation. The star will be crediting Rs 1500 in each one’s bank account. He was helpful even last year when Covid first hit India, and he is back at it again.”

Recently, Salman also distributed refreshments and meals to the frontline workers like medical and police personnel, BMC workers and cleaners in Mumbai. In a move to help the country, which is battling with the second wave of the virus, the actor also declared that a portion of the revenue generated by his upcoming film Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai will go towards Covid-19 relief work.

Daily-wage workers, whose lives were upended by the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year, were slowly getting back on their feet early this year as shooting of several big films began. But all hopes of returning to normalcy dashed as Maharashtra saw a surge in Covid-19 cases late March and by mid-April, the state government discontinued film, television and advertisement shoots. Along with loss of financial security, daily-wage workers also stared at life risk as no shooting meant no clear picture about vaccination, which many production houses had earlier assured to the workers.

But as the coronavirus situation in the country worsened and the government announced vaccination open for people aged between 18 and 45, Yash Raj Films said on May 8 that it would vaccinate 30,000 members of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).



A post shared by Yash Raj Films (@yrf)

The decision was in adherence to YRF’s previous assurance to the FWICE that it would get a certain number of workers vaccinated against Covid-19. The Aditya Chopra-led company is the first leading production house in the country to have taken the onus of vaccination of industry members.

Oxygen shortage has been one of the biggest crisis that the second Covid-19 wave has caused. Not only have common people put SOS calls requesting urgent oxygen supply for their family members diagnosed with Covid-19, even several hospitals have raised alarms about their oxygen supplies lasting only for hours.



A post shared by Raveena Tandon (@officialraveenatandon)

While Sonu Sood has been the go-to person for people suffering due to the severe oxygen shortage in several parts of the country, many celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Raveena Tandon and Sara Ali Khan have also contributed to raise funds for oxygen supplies. While Anushka and Virat have donated Rs 2 crores to their own fundraiser which aims to raise Rs 7 crore in total, Raveena Tandon has sent oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Delhi. Sara Ali Khan has contributed to the Sonu Sood Foundation to help purchase cylinders. Others such as Taapsee Pannu are helping amplify demands of those in need on social media.
May 09 (20:55) Indians can enter US with ‘recovery from Covid’ proof, apart from negative RT-PCR report (

News Entry# 451248  Blog Entry# 4958610   
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NEW DELHI: Visitors eligible to go the US from India can now show a documentation of recovery from Covid-19, apart from the negative RT-PCR test report to enter the country. From May 4, US had restricted travel from India and currently allows its citizens and permanent residents with a few other exceptions.

The US embassy in India website says: “Anyone travelling to the US (two years and older) must take a Covid-19 test no more than three days before travel and show a negative result to the airline before boarding the
flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery from Covid-19 (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from a healthcare provider or a public health official stating clearance for travel).”

The move comes at a time when reduced eligibility to go to US from India means that mainly its own citizens and permanent residents, and a few other exempt categories of travellers, can go there from India. More information on testing requirement is available on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

“United and Air India continue to operate numerous direct flights weekly from India to the United States. Additional flight options remain available on Air France, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways via transfers in Paris, Frankfurt, and Doha. US citizens who wish to depart India are encouraged to book tickets through the airlines,” the website says.

US has a level 4 travel advisory for India which means "do not go there." Level 4 is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.

“New cases and deaths from COVID-19 have risen sharply throughout India to record levels. COVID-19 testing infrastructure is reportedly constrained in many locations. Hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients. US citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space. Some states have enacted curfews and other restrictions that limit movement and the operation of non-essential businesses,” the website adds.
May 09 (13:42) Chinese Rocket Segment Plunges Back To Earth, Crashes Near Maldives (

News Entry# 451191  Blog Entry# 4958018   
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"The landing area is at 72.47 east longitude and 2.65 north latitude," CCTV said (File)Beijing: A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the Chinese space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-tonne object would come down.Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China's new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.But the US space agency NASA and some experts said China had behaved irresponsibly, as an uncontrolled re-entry of such a large object risked damage and casualties."After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has re-entered the atmosphere," the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement, providing coordinates for a point...
in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.It added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during descent.The US military's Space Command said the rocket "re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 pm EDT on May 8 (0215 GMT Sunday)"."It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water."Monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, said that the location in Saudi Arabia was where American systems last recorded it."Operators confirm that the rocket actually went into the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives," it tweeted.The segment's descent matched expert predictions that any debris would have splashed down into the ocean, given that 70 percent of the planet is covered by water.Because it was an uncontrolled descent, there was widespread public interest and speculation about where the debris would land.American and European space authorities were among those tracking the rocket and trying to predict its re-entry.Accusations of negligenceObjects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate. But larger ones such as the Long March-5B may not be destroyed entirely.Their wreckage can land on the surface of the planet and may cause damage and casualties, though that risk is low.Last year, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.That, and the one that came down Sunday, are tied for the fourth-biggest objects in history to undergo an uncontrolled re-entry, according to data from Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell.The uncertainty and risks of such a re-entry sparked accusations that Beijing had behaved irresponsibly.US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested last week that China had been negligent, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson echoed that after the re-entry on Sunday."Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations," Nelson said in a statement."It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris."China's space ambitionsTo avoid such scenarios, some experts have recommended a redesign of the Long March-5B rocket -- which is not equipped for a controlled descent."An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely," McDowell tweeted."It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives). But it was still reckless."Chinese authorities had downplayed the risk, however."The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or (on people and activities) on the ground is extremely low," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday.Beijing has poured billions of dollars into space exploration to boost its global stature and technological might.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe launch of the first module of its space station -- by the Long March rocket that came down Sunday -- was a milestone in its ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space
May 08 (20:33) China’s rocket is coming down with a lesson — avoid schadenfreude on India’s Covid misery (

News Entry# 451113  Blog Entry# 4957302   
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If the space debris of Long March 5B rocket causes widespread damage, China will be 'liable to pay compensation' as per international law. But Indians aren't rejoicing the prospect.

Comparing India and China is commonplace. But comparisons can often be odious. Especially if you saw the social media post of the Chinese Communist Party comparing Indian funeral pyres with the images of its Long March 5B rocket’s launch. The extremely distasteful caption of the post on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, read: “China lighting a fire versus India lighting a fire.”

This could have caused a diplomatic incident. A week in India-China relations can be quite unpredictable these days, after all.

Fortunately, the biggest blowback came from the Chinese public, who derided the post by the CCP’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, or Zhongyang Zhengfawei, as “inappropriate”, and called for a nationwide expression of sympathy for India, in line with President Xi Jinping’s own remarks a day earlier. The original post was subsequently deleted, surviving only in screenshots circulated across Weibo and global social media platforms.

But karma can be quite a leveller. Because the story doesn’t end here. The international media’s focus has shifted from the Zhongyang Zhengfawei’s social media faux pas to that Long March 5B rocket featured in the post.

Back to earth, for a possible disaster

Launched on 28 April, China’s Long March 5B rocket was intended to put into orbit a core module of the country’s new Tianhe space station. While its primary mission was successful, the task of ensuring that the rocket’s debris falls back to Earth in a pre-identified, unpopulated area is cause for panic now.

The rocket’s core stage is expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on 8 May and parts of the debris will apparently crash-land in locations that are difficult to predict. But India isn’t saying, ‘So, this is how the Chinese light their fire’ and is not openly relishing in its neighbours’ failure. As American writer-philosopher Will Durant once said, “To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy.”

As per international law, specifically the 1972 Liability Convention, China will be “liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space object on the surface of the earth or to aircraft in flight” if, worst-case scenario, the Long March 5B’s space debris causes widespread damage.

This is not the first time a Long March 5B launch from China has resulted in potential damage to other countries or led to international scrutiny. Last year, then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine criticised China after a Long March 5B rocket’s empty core stage “fell uncontrollably” to Earth and some of the debris crash landed in Cote d’Ivoire.

No matter what becomes of China’s space debris, this turn of event makes the timing and nature of that Sina Weibo post doubly unfortunate, and represents egg on the face of Guo Shengkun, a prominent CCP official and head of Zhongyang Zhengfawei.

Diplomatic schadenfreude isn’t the way

The vigilant sections of Chinese social media users deserve a great deal of credit for their efforts to nip this potential diplomatic incident in the bud. This pushback showed that such insensitivity is not as widely shared across the country’s populace, even the government, unlike what many commentators would have you believe.

It also speaks to how attempts at social media diplomatic schadenfreude are not only unhelpful to the situation, but they can also blow up in one’s face, worst of all when it comes from public officials. It’s best to leave Twitter-happy fingers — or Weibo-happy in this case — to the Trumps of this world. Perhaps China should remind the people behind the Zhongyang Zhengfawei Weibo account about a Chinese proverb that says, ‘A good neighbour is a priceless treasure.’

(Edited by Prashant Dixit)

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