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I am a Pragmatic Progressive: Eric Adams

Exclusive interview with  the frontrunner for NYC Mayor election, who told The South Asian Times, “Public safety is the prerequisite to promote prosperity and turn around the city’s economy”.

By Parveen Chopra
Editor, The South Asian Times
Fellow, CCM NYC Elections Report 

The South Asian Times has been privileged to get an exclusive interview with Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, who from all indications has the best chance to win the Democratic primary for NYC Mayor on June 22 and go on to become the 110th Mayor of the ‘Greatest City in the World’, replacing Bill de Blasio on January 1, 2022.

A police officer turned politician who has served in the New York State Senate before getting elected Brooklyn Borough President, Mr Adams has the right credentials and admirable record. Many, particularly South Asians will support his positions — that he shared in this interview — on policing and public safety, turning around the city’s economy and supporting small businesses.

The interview was set up by Jose Bayona, Senior Advisor, Eric Adams for Mayor. Also participating in the interview was Kamlesh Mehta, Publisher of The South Asian Times, who thanked Bayona for doing a wonderful job for ethnic media. Hailing Mr Adams as the most deserving candidate for NYC Mayor, Mehta said, “Sir, we need your blessings for the Diwali holiday for the Hindu and Indian American community in New York. We also need your support for the ethnic media. Creating the Office of Ethnic and Community Media is your initiative. The moment you take the office of Mayor please announce it.”

Excerpts from the interview with Mr Adams conducted last week:

The South Asian Times: The opinion polls put you ahead of your nearest rivals. But your support is still at about 20%. Will Ranked Choice Voting help you across 50% needed to be elected NYC Mayor? 

Eric Adams, Candidate for NYC Mayor,: Yes, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) will help me. I believe I have a cross-section of support not only among the African American community and Spanish speaking community, but also the South Asian community. When you look at groups like Rise Up and other South Asian organizations, there is a great deal of support on my behalf, and that is where RCV is going to benefit me.  And people have known me for years on how I have been in all of these communities. I have an amazing record of being part of the communities in this city. If you look at other candidates, they don’t have the record. So, I believe when it is  time to vote, it is not only the No 1 choice, I’m going to pick up votes for 2 and 3 also.

TSAT: So how confident are you – on a scale of 1 to 10 — that you will be the next Mayor of New York City?

Eric Adams: I am at a 10 because my confidence comes from the real connectivity and love I have for New Yorkers all over the city. It is not just what I feel about myself, but what I believe New Yorkers feel about me. I protected and  served the city as a police officer. I’ve done a great job as state senator and Brooklyn Borough President and I know that we can run a better city.

TSAT: In our interviews with South Asian community leaders that we have published in last week’s issue, they put the economic recovery of the city as Task No 1 for the next mayor. What is your plan to ensure that?

Eric Adams:  It is a combination, and the foundation of all the things that we believe are important. The South Asian community may believe that the important thing is economic recovery, another community may believe something else. But all of these things we believe are important rest on one thing and that is public safety. If we want to turn around our economy, then first we have to be a safe city. If we want people not to get intimidated by gun violence, then it has to be a safe city. So, at the foundation of turning around the economy is safety. Two, we must get Covid-19 under control. And that includes everything from reaching herd immunity, a good vaccination policy and coming up with a group of clear guidelines of how to ensure that we don’t have another outbreak of this pandemic. Third, we have to give our small businesses support because 51% of the employees in this city come from small businesses. That includes making sure we have a banking network for access to capital, and includes allowing our Chamber of Commerce to do back room work for small businesses, so they don’t have to pay additional employees to do administrative work and compliance work. Promoting small businesses includes doing things differently like tax free Tuesdays to encourage people to go into our small businesses instead of going online, and purchasing items right in our small businesses every day.

Lastly, our  procurement dollars. We spend somewhere around 22.5 billion dollars every year on procurement of goods and services. We don’t need to buy those goods and services outside the city and state. We should do those goods and services purchases right here in the city of New York to boost our small businesses.

TSAT: Indian Americans and South Asians worry about the safety and security of their families and homes. How will you harness your police officer background to make the city safe?  

Eric Adams:  We can achieve that by rebuilding trust; we must rebuild trust between the police and community and we can do it on many levels.  I like to say that we have to change the ecosystem of public safety. That includes recruiting in our police departments. I’m so proud of my record of encouraging South Asian men and women to join the police department. We have the largest levels of new recruits in the police department – many of those young men and women are from Bangladesh, India and other communities. Second, we need to have police officers who do jobs that deal with public safety and violent crimes and wean them off those jobs that we can have civilians do. So, we can build a better resource or better response from our policing. I want my police officers to focus on violent crime. I don’t want them focusing on parades, which civilians can do, or responding to past vehicle accidents, which we can get civilians to do. Thus, there are so many things which we can do differently with the police department to make it more productive and keep our city safe.

TSAT: Indian Americans are traditionally Democrat and they support racial equality, but they feel that your party, the Democratic party, is going too much toward the left. And there are the progressives who think that you’re not progressive enough. So how do you strike the right balance?

Eric Adams:  I believe we need to reclaim the word ‘progressive’ because people don’t really understand what being progressive is. Being progressive means making sure that communities are safe, so we could open businesses and ensure that people are hired. Being progressive is not just talking about prison and bail reform, but it is creating a climate that prevents people from carrying out crimes. Like doing dyslexia screening in every school so 30% of our prison population won’t be dyslexic. It is about ensuring family members who have learning disabilities are receiving the support that they need, so 55% of inmates at Rikers Island (jail) don’t have learning disabilities.

Yes, I am a progressive, but I am a pragmatic progressive who understands that being progressive is not based on bumper stickers and slogans, it is based on real policies that end inequality in the city.

TSAT: Which of your positions set you apart from other Democratic candidates in this primary?

Eric Adams:  There are a number of positions. Number one, I am the only candidate in the race who has been talking about how we really deal with crime in this city. Other candidates have remained mostly silent on that. And as I stated, public safety is the prerequisite to promote prosperity. I like to say straight up how we prevent inequalities in the city, such as better schools and better healthcare for all and better employment for small businesses. And I’m a big believer in technology. Many of these other candidates are not engaging in a real conversation on how we use technology to run our city in real time. I am going to build out a single platform in our city where anyone who is in need of services that they are eligible for, they won’t have to sign up for those services, we will automatically sign them up and give them the services they need. If your food is secure. you should be able to sign up automatically for a snack in the food stamp program. If you are a senior and you need your rent freeze and you are eligible, you should be able to sign up for that program cost free. Same thing if you are disabled, there is a program you can avail. Many people don’t sign up for these programs because they are too complicated. As Mayor, I’m going to use technology to use information we have on our citizens and we will automatically sign them up and give them the resources they need. And add this to my people’s plan that will use the earned income tax program that can put anywhere from 250 to 300 dollars in the pockets of New Yokers every month, increased Metro card programs, as well as my program that will call for universal daycare, which is crucial for working parents particularly in the South Asian community.  So, there is a clear direction that I am showing on how to turn around New York City.

TSAT: How have you made an outreach to the sizable South Asian/Indian American community in NYC, particularly in Queens?

Eric Adams: When it comes to the South Asian community, there is no candidate in this race who has more outreach synergy than me. That outreach did not start when I decided to run for Mayor. That outreach was there for many years. I have been in the forefront of pushing for the Diwali holiday in NYC schools. I am supported by the first South Asian elected state Senator, Jenifer Rajkumar.  Dilip Chauhan and some other South Asians are part of my staff and my team. When you look at organizations like Rise Up (that invests in leaders to improve the lives of girls and women in India and other countries) they have joined my campaign, and they have been extremely supportive. So, I know the South Asian community and the South Asian community knows me. I have been in their temples and in all the different locations, and mosques. Wherever you are, I have been there and that relationship will continue to be an amazing relationship through the years. I am not  a new friend, I am an old friend and we are going to continue to expand on that friendship.

As Mayor, Adams to create  Office of Ethnic and Community Media

(Photos provided)

The frontrunner for NYC mayor, Eric Adams announced his plan in early May to create the Mayor’s Office of Ethnic and Community Media, along with providing paid advertising campaigns to local ethnic media. The office will expand the Cityʼs commitment to ethnically diverse communities.

“Our city is the most diverse city in America and that diversity is represented well in our ethnic and community media outlets throughout the five boroughs,” said Adams.  “I appreciate the critical role these outlets play in empowering our communities, and I am committed to expanding the resources they need to continue bringing vital information to New Yorkers.”

The plan would expand Executive Order 47 signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2019. The order mandated that all city agencies spend at least 50% of their annual print and digital publication advertising in local community media outlets.

The Mayorʼs Office of Ethnic and Community Media will ensure the inclusion of NYC’s ethnic TV and radio outlets with no more than five

staff members in the scope and benefits of EO47.

A Community and Ethnic Media Marketing Executive Director position will be created and tasked with upholding a unified message of the City’s services, distribution of paid advertisements and campaigns to community media.

The legislation has been introduced in the City Council sponsored by Adams, Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. The approval vote on the legislation is expected soon.

Endorsements Galore

Indian American Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar supports Eric Adams for Mayor. (Photos provided)

Eric Adams has been piling up endorsements faster than you can count them. As of May 26, two Congressmen from New York, Tom Suozzi and Adriano Espaillat, several New York State legislators, local officials and labor unions have endorsed him for city Mayor.

New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, an Indian American, said,  “New Yorkers who are overlooked and underserved need Eric in City Hall — someone who will always stand up for them… as a civil rights leader, legislator, borough president and powerful advocate for the ignored and underserved”.

Mr Adams thanked her: “As the State’s first South Asian woman elected to State office and a champion for immigrants and civil rights, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar is an inspiring public servant, and I am so grateful to have earned her support!”

The People’s Candidate

(Photos provided)

As an African American teenager, Eric Adams was a victim of violence at the hands of police. But instead of giving into anger, he turned his pain into purpose and decided to change the police department from within. He joined the NYPD and became one of its most outspoken officers, calling out racism and bias in the department and pushing for major reforms.  He rose to the rank of captain, helping to build the first computerized system for tracking crime in the city, which led to historic gains in public safety.

Adams’ efforts to change policing began his lifelong work to improve and protect New York. From the NYPD, he moved on to the State Senate, where he represented sections of central and Brownstone Brooklyn. In Albany, he built winning coalitions to advance New York City’s values and goals, helping to push through measures to protect tenants and workers, combat gun violence, end the NYPD’s abuses of stop and frisk, and advance human rights — including marriage equality. He also became the first person of color to chair NYS Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.

Adams was elected Brooklyn Borough President in 2013 by putting together a diverse coalition to become the borough’s first Black leader. As the representative of one of the nation’s largest counties, Adams fought tirelessly to grow the local economy, invest in schools, reduce inequality, improve public safety, and advocate for smart policies and better government that delivers for all New Yorkers. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the city, he moved a mattress into his office and worked around the clock to deliver donated meals and PPE to essential workers and vulnerable New Yorkers, demanding the government produce more equitable relief.

Adams is a lifelong New Yorker. He currently lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

He received his master’s degree in public administration from Marist College, and is a graduate of New York City Technical College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

He announced his run for NYC Mayor in November last year.

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Jaishankar in DC to secure help with tackling Covid

Washington DC: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar arrived in Washington DC on Wednesday for a series of meetings with top officials of the Biden administration to discuss bilateral ties and “interactions with business forums on economic & Covid-related cooperation between India and the US”.

During his three-day visit in the capital, Jaishankar is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The State Department has not yet announced the date of Blinken’s meeting with Jaishankar. Blinken was travelling in the Middle East to continue with the peace process.

“The secretary (of state) looks forward to meeting minister Jaishankar during his visit and discussing a broad range of issues, including COVID-19 relief, efforts to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, enhanced UN and multilateral cooperation, and a range of other shared regional security and economic priorities,” a State Department spokesperson said earlier this week.

The U.S. has already announced that it is going to distribute 80 million vaccines from its stockpile to countries in need.

“The (defense) secretary will be meeting on Friday with the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Jaishankar, as part of India’s first cabinet-level visit to Washington,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at a news conference.

“The secretary is meeting with the external affairs minister, will continue discussions that the two held in New Delhi in March and will continue the robust bilateral defense and security relationship between our two countries. We are looking forward to having him here at the Pentagon and hosting him for a good set of talks,” Kirby said.

Jaishankar is expected to meet a group of eminent business leaders on Thursday at two different meetings organized by the US India Business Council and the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum.

Earlier on Wednesday, in a conversation with former US National Security Advisor General (retd) H.R. McMaster,  Jaishankar said there is a real appreciation of the potential of the India-US relationship and what it can do. “I think the challenge before us is how to translate those convergences into actionable policies. That is really what I was very happy to work with you during your tenure as NSA… and I certainly look forward to doing that with the people in the administration.” He also defended the Indian government in the face of criticism in the West of its so-called “Hindutva policies”, saying there is a difference between “concocted” political imagery and its actual governance record.

Jaishankar, who arrived in New York Sunday, met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and offered India’s support for his re-election. During their meeting they discussed a range of issues from Covid-19 vaccines to terrorism. Jaishankar tweeted that they emphasized the importance of finding “urgent and effective global vaccine solutions” and the critical need to ramp up the vaccine supply chain to “ensure greater production and fairer distribution.”

With India set to assume the rotating presidency of the Security Council in August, their meeting covered a wide range of issues. In a series of tweets on the meeting, Jaishankar said that they talked about “regional challenges in India’s neighborhood” and “shared our concerns about ensuring that the gains of the last two decades in Afghanistan are adequately protected.”

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Biden order to intel brings focus back on Wuhan lab theory

WashingtonPresident Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a ramped-up effort to determine the origins of COVID-19, reflecting a new acceptance in U.S. political and public health circles that the virus might have emerged naturally or from a Chinese lab in the city of Wuhan.

Biden asked the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to come to a definitive conclusion on the disease’s origins, calling on them to report back to him within 90 days.

“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China,” Biden said in a statement. “I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community’s efforts. And I have asked the Intelligence Community to keep Congress fully apprised of its work.”

“The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” Biden added.

Top intelligence officials including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines acknowledged at a hearing in April that a laboratory accident was a plausible scenario that the intelligence community was investigating.

Biden’s statement followed calls from other administration officials for a more thorough, independent investigation of the origins of the virus amid new questions about the possibility that the virus may have come out of a lab in Wuhan. While the White House has previously called for WHO to spearhead further investigation, Biden’s statement focused on U.S. efforts to investigate the origins of the virus.

While the lab leak theory was initially dismissed as unlikely, it’s received new traction as some scientists have expressed openness to the theory.

Scientists haven’t discovered definitive proof the virus leaked from a lab. But they also have not found hard evidence that shows the virus started in animals before naturally infecting humans, which is why some argue an investigation is needed.

The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill that they sought hospital care in November 2019, fueling questions about whether the pandemic may indeed have started in a lab leak incident.

A WHO-led report issued earlier this year, which was prepared in conjunction with Chinese scientists, found that the coronavirus most likely jumped from animals to humans while labeling the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely.” At the time, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus indicated the need for further investigation and said all theories remained on the table.

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Black, Yellow and White Fungus: the damage misinformation causes in COVID-19 crisis

By Akshat Jain 

India is seeing the second wave with COVID-19 crossing all metrics by leaps and bounds. As if COVID related pulmonary infection and “Long Covid” wasn’t enough in making lives of common folk miserable, the resurgence of “Black Fungus” and now the “White Fungus” is sending people for cover and hoarding of antifungal medications is causing their critical shortage for patients who actually need that.  

Black Fungus

Mucormycosis or wrongly touted “Black Fungus” named after the color of the ulcer base when this infection spreads to the skin, is a very rare condition, and only usually seen in patients who are the sickest, most ill and immunocompromised. As of this week, about 9,000 cases of Mucormycosis have been reported all over India. As a cancer specialist I come across this infection once or twice a year (and that is a bad year) but given the death rate of over 50%, this is particularly dangerous infection to have. Caused by a fungus that is very difficult to eradicate from the body once it homes itself in the skin and tissues of the face (nose, sinuses, mucosal surfaces etc.) the treatment is usually a painful surgery where everything in the path of the fungus that spreads like a root of the tree, needs to be scooped out.

Alerting signs of the infection

1.     Facial pain, swelling

2.     Loss of sensation to parts of skin

3.     Low grade fever along with swelling of skin

4.     Black spots that turn into bleeding ulcers on any part of the body

In patients who are immunocompromised due to severe COVID infection or patients who have received a lot of steroid medication (dexamethasone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone) for COVID infection are particularly at high risk.


·        Water in oxygen supply routes in COVID patients should be cleaned daily – ventilators, humidifiers, cylinders, oxygen concentrators

·        Clean water source needed for practices like “steam” therapy, Jal Neti

·        Judicious use of steroids – not all COVID 19 patient needs steroids

·        Avoid “cocktail” therapy and judicious use of only proven therapies: remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies, steroids for moderate-severe infection patients, IVIG for children with COVID.

But misinformation about this infection has made people run and stock up on amphotericin B, the lifesaving intravenous antifungal treatment medications, causing widespread shortage, just like the oxygen crisis.

Misinformation and false sense of security

Having taken part in video conferencing with health ministers of various Indian states, medical leadership and power brokers over the past month, one thing is very clear to me. This pandemic has left no household big or small untouched.  Everyone is doing their level best to ease access to care.

Remarkably while the “Bhilwara Model” in Rajasthan failed miserably when it really mattered, decentralized approach in empowering area rural health centers (RHCs) and Primary Health Centers (PHCs) to supply them with pulse oximeters, oxygen cylinders, and oxygen concentrators being practiced now, will give long lasting dividends. Especially keeping sick rural patients in the comfort of their villages and establishing a supply chain once the “Vaccine apartheid” ends ,will make roll-out smooth and accountable – something that most state governments need to optimize at the regional levels.

Correct information about vaccine availability, side effects, safety features and most importantly the lifesaving protection that one gets from this first line of defense needs to be hammered in great detail. Earlier in the year this misinformation on the vaccines spread by politically motivated folks led to vaccine wastage and again misinformation spread by certain actors led to poor vaccination acceptance rates, which certainly did not help in prevention of the second wave.

The author is Hematologist Oncologist and Stem Cell Transplant Specialist based in Los Angeles, CA

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Time to sharpen your inner black box

By Vishnu Makhijani
His three teen and preteen daughters find it hilarious that their father has written a book about memory; they believe he “literally can’t remember anything”. His wife, after reading the manuscript of the book, reminded him that she was, in fact, his truest love. He wisely conceded this point.

“Our brains sculpt who we are and the world we experience… Neuroscientists have their work cut out for them because the brain continues to mystify as if it were a distant planet light years away,” writes Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Emmy Award-winning Chief Medical Correspondent, in “Keep Sharp – Build a Better Brain at Any Age” (Simon & Schuster) that also contains a brain training program at whose core is the S.H.A.R.P. protocol.

The brain is “arguably the most enigmatic 3.3 pounds of life. Researchers even found a new kind of neuron recently — the rosehip — and still don’t know what it does. It seems to exist only in human brains but not in rodents, which may explain why so many mice brain studies never translate to humans. Our brains can be extraordinarily selfish and demanding as well. Of the total blood and oxygen that is produced in our bodies, the brain steals 20 percent of it, despite being only roughly 2.5 percent of your body weight. There can be no life without a brain”.

“Time to meet your inner black box,” writes Gupta, who, in 2009, at the beginning of the Barack Obama administration, withdrew himself from consideration as the US Surgeon General for professional and personal reasons.

Along the way, he debunks common myths about ageing and cognitive decline, explores whether there’s a ‘best’ diet or exercise regimen for the brain, and explains whether it’s healthier to play video games that test memory and processing speed, or to engage in more social interaction.

Discover what we can learn from ‘super-brained’ people who are in their 80s and 90s but show no signs of slowing down – and whether there are truly any benefits to drugs, supplements and vitamins. Gupta also addresses brain disease, particularly Alzheimer’s, and answers all your questions about signs and symptoms, and shows you both how to ward against it and how to care for a partner in cognitive decline.

The key to moving ahead, the author writes, is mastering the S.H.A.R.P. protocol: Slash the sugar, Hydrate smartly, Add more omega-3s from natural sources like wild cold-water fish, Reduce portions, Plan meals ahead.

Once you have done so, you’re ready for the 12-week regime that will help you achieve five important goals:

* Move throughout your day and build an exercise routine into your life.

* Find new ways to stimulate your brain through learning and challenging your mind.

* Prioritize getting restful, routine sleep at night and incorporate daily de-stressing practices into your routine.

* Introduce a new way of nourishing your body.

* Connect authentically with others and maintain a vibrant social life.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks.

“I’ve designed this program to be as practical and easy to follow as possible. Most important, it will end up being tailored and highly individualized for you,” Gupta writes.

Weeks 1 and 2

Dive into the five.

Move More: If you already exercise regularly, keep it up but try something different to surprise your body and use new muscles.

Love to Learn by participating in cognitively stimulating activities.

Sleep hygiene: If you get fewer than six hours of sleep per night, you can start by increasing this to at least seven hours – the bare minimum if you want to have normal, healthy functioning physiology from your brain on down.

Eat Sanjay Style: As Dr Gupta explains, he eats “only when the sun is shining. Some have called this chrono eating – ‘chrono’ meaning relating to the body’s sense of time and its circadian rhythm throughout the 24 hour solar day. I believe when you eat is also important, not just what you eat”.

Connect with People: Elevate your social life. For those who feel isolated, call someone you haven’t spoken with in a while and invite a friend over for dinner.

Weeks 3 and 4

Add more to your routine by choosing at least two of the following options: A 20-minute power walk after lunch most days of the week, have at least two of your meals each week feature cold water fish like salmon or trout, download a meditation app and use it daily, and avoid colas.

Weeks 5 and 6

Add more to your routine by choosing at least three of the following options: Start a gratitude journal and list at least five people or situations you are grateful for, add 15 more minutes to your exercise routine, try a yoga or Pilates class, avoid all processed foods, add a relaxing activity to your bedtime routine such as engaging in mindfulness meditation.

Weeks 7 and 8

Add more to your new routine by checking off all five of the following ideas: Look for opportunities to volunteer in your community, schedule a check-up with your doctor if you haven’t had one within the year, write a handwritten letter to a younger loved one in the family, read a book in a genre or subject area that interests you but that you’re not used to reading.

Weeks 9 and 10

Ask yourself the following questions and adjust accordingly based on your answers: Am I getting at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, am I learning something new that challenges my mind and demands developing different skills, am I getting more restful sleep on a regular basis and managing stress better, am I following the S.H.A.R.P. dietary protocol, am I connecting with friends and family members regularly?

Week 11

Think about how you’d want your family members to deal with a diagnosis of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Week 12

Make a list of all things you’ve done differently these past several weeks and ask yourself: What worked? What didn’t work? Where can I improve? Then use the week to plan ahead.

“Keep the big picture in mind at all times. This will help you not only maintain a healthy lifestyle but also get back on track if you occasionally cheat. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Progress is better than perfection,” Gupta writes.

“There will always be a place for good old-fashioned habits like eating more vegetables and working out regularly. But those time-tested habits coupled with what’s in store for us tomorrow will ultimately make for the best life – one that we will want to remember and will be able to remember. Keep sharp,” Gupta concludes.


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India Latest News

Subodh Jaiswal takes charge as new CBI chief

New Delhi: IPS officer Subodh Kumar Jaiswal has taken charge as the new Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He took charge a day after his name was cleared for the top post of the country’s premiere investigative agency.

In an order, the Department of Personnel and Training said: “The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has, based on the panel recommended by the Committee, approved the appointment of Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, IPS, (Maharashtra 1985) as Director, CBI for a period of two years from the date of assumption of the charge of the office or until further orders whichever is earlier.”

Jaiswal was appointed as CBI Director a day after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed committee including Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury discussed the names of the candidates for the new CBI chief.

Before joining as the new director of CBI, Jaiswal was the Director General of the Central Industrial Security Force.

He has also served as Maharashtra’s Director General of Police and had a stint in India’s external intelligence agency, R&AW.

The CBI had got an acting Director in the form of Praveen Sinha after the term of R.K. Shukla ended on February 3 this year.

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Ramdev courts controversy, Patanjaji’s dairy biz head dies of Covid

New Delhi: As yoga guru Ramdev continues to stoke controversy with his comments about allopathic medicines and Covid, the head of his Patanjali Ayurvda’s dairy business has died due to Covid-related complications.

Sunil Bansal, 57, contracted Covid and breathed his last on May 19 in Rajasthan.

Ramdev had sparked an uproar after purportedly calling allopathy a “stupid science”. This has led the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to demand that the Union Health Ministry take action against him, but Patanjali denied the allegations against him, saying that he was only reading a “forwarded WhatsApp message”.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also wrote to Ramdev, saying his statement was an insult to doctors working on the Covid frontlines and asked him to withdraw it.

While Ramdev had complied, in a 140-second clip that went viral last week, he is heard saying that “lakhs have died from taking allopathic medicines for Covid-19”.

Following the controversy, Ramdev also wrote an open letter on social media on Monday asking the IMA if allopathy offered permanent relief for ailments such as hypertension and diabetes.

In the letter shared on his official Twitter handle, he posed 25 questions to the IMA, which had objected to his video clip running down allopathy treatment for Covid-19.

The development comes a day after he was forced to withdraw his statement questioning the efficacy of allopathy medicines.

Ramdev had also launched his Coronil kit in February this year. This is being sold as an “immunity booster”, not a Covid medicine.

On Bansal’s death, Patanjali Ayurveda spokesperson S.K. Tijarawala said: “On May 19, Patanjali Dairy CEO Bansal died due to Covid, which is a big loss to us.”

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Sputnik V manufacturing to start soon in India: V.K. Paul

New Delhi: The manufacturing of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine will start soon in India as the country has accomplished technology-transfer to Indian companies, said Dr Vinod K. Paul, chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) on Thursday.

Paul made the announcement while clearing the myth that the Centre is not doing enough to buy vaccines from abroad.

Paul said the Central government has also proactively eased entry of vaccines approved by the US FDA, EMA, UK’s MHRA and Japan’s PMDA, and WHO’s Emergency Use Listing into India in April.

He said these vaccines will not need to undergo prior bridging trials as the provision has now been further amended to waive off the trial requirement altogether for the well-established vaccines manufactured in other countries.

“No application of any foreign manufacturer for approval is pending with the drugs controller,” Paul, Member (Health) in NITI Aayog, further said.

Paul said that Sputnik vaccine trials got accelerated and with timely approval, Russia has already sent two tranches of vaccines and “accomplished tech-transfer to our companies that would start manufacturing very soon”.

The declaration comes after the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and Panacea Biotec announced that full-scale production of the doses in India will start this summer.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), or Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, has tied up with Indian pharmaceutical firms such as Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma and Virchow Biotech to make more than 850 million doses a year.

Sputnik V has been granted approval for emergency use by India’s drug controller. 

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