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A play in the time of floods

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New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Each year floods ravage Assam, almost like a ritual. Every time, lives are lost, property damaged and hundreds are forced to dislocate. He says he has “lived” with floods since childhood and watched what it does to the survivors too.

“As a human being and artist, I have been closely observing the pain and sufferings of the villagers. While successive governments have done little to improve the situation, some try to take advantage during the natural calamity. And this is how my Assamese play ‘Raghunath’ was conceived. I have no plans to adapt it into other languages as only the original one can justify the concept,” playwright and director Bidyut Kr. Nath, whose play swept the recent META with six awards in different categories, including Best Production, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor, Best Light Design and Best Stage Design, told IANS.

An alumnus of the National School of Drama Sikkim Theatre Training Centre, the 35-year-old Nath, who has acted in more than 50 plays, directed eight and written five plays was awarded the Kazironga Award for his cultural contribution to the state.

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The play revolves around a poor village couple who lose their only girlchild in floods. The protagonist Raghunath believes that if a temple is built in the village, it will pave the way for development. He starts a rumour about finding a thousand-year-old god statue in his backyard. The script touches upon the education of the girlchild, the flood situation in Assam and the establishment’s apathy towards it.

Smiling that winning so many awards was nothing short of a “miracle”, considering his production was up against plays by many major directors, he feels there need to be more platforms for theatre in the country.

“There are hardly two or three, including META. Many more need to come up where young theatre practitioners can showcase their works along with experienced ones,” he observed.

Since childhood, Nath has had a special fascination towards performing arts. He would watch ‘Vaona’ (an ancient play staged by Sankardev) and they influenced him a lot.

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“However, post-joining NSD, my outlook completely changed,” he recalls.

Talking about the theatre scenario in Assam, which has a rich history of mobile theatre, he says that like the rest of the country, surviving on amateur theatre there is extremely tough.

“Yes, those associated with mobile theatre are earning decently,” says Nath, who has been part of several Assamese serials and films, and also a Malayalam movie.

Believing that there is an urgent need to set up more repertories across the country so theatrepersons can earn a regular salary, he adds that it is high time for a national policy that entails a minimum wage system for theatre artists.

“Also, why cannot every state government organise an annual theatre festival and disburse a decent grant to the winning play? That will help them to roll out their next production,” he concludes.

(Sukant Deepak can be reached at sukant.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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Goa accident: All accused, including contractors, will be prosecuted, says CM Pramod Sawant

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Panaji, May 26 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday said that all the accused persons, including contractors, in the road accident that claimed four lives, will be prosecuted.

Four Bihar labourers were killed and four others injured after a bus rammed into their hutments along the roadside at Verna Industrial estate in the coastal state on Saturday night.

CM Sawant said: “The accident at Verna Industrial estate causing death and injuries is unfortunate. The procedure has been started to prosecute the driver of the bus who drove under the influence of alcohol, along with the contractor and subcontractors who accommodated the labourers dangerously in the huts at the spot. All accused are being charged for causing injuries and death. Government shall also blacklist the contractors and subcontractors. No one shall be spared.”

According to the chief minister, these labourers who were engaged in the work of pavement were provided accommodation along the roadside, which was dangerous and hence contractors would be blacklisted.

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Superintendent of Police (South) Sunita Sawant told media persons that the accident occurred after a bus driver carrying workers of a private company lost control of the steering.

“While negotiating to take a turn, the driver rammed the bus into hutments, where around eight labourers were sleeping. Four of them have died, while four are undergoing treatment at Sub District Hospital in Margao,” CM Sawant said.

She said that these workers, all natives of Bihar, were engaged in construction work of pavement.

Police said that the bus driver has also sustained injuries and is undergoing treatment.

Police are further investigating the case.

–IANS

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PM Modi applauds Preneet Kaur's tireless service to Punjab

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Patiala, May 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended his heartfelt commendation to Patiala candidate Preneet Kaur in a letter, recognising her family’s generations-long commitment to serving the people of Punjab.

In his letter, PM Modi lauded the extensive public service record of Kaur’s family, particularly highlighting the impactful contributions of Captain Amarinder Singh, both as Chief Minister and grassroots leader.

The Prime Minister expressed confidence in Kaur’s ability to represent the people of Patiala, citing her consistent advocacy for Punjab’s progress and prosperity over the past two decades.

“As a distinguished parliamentarian, you have consistently raised critical issues concerning the progress and prosperity of Punjab for over two decades. The strong bond you have established with the people of Patiala speaks volumes about the integrity and dedication with which you have tirelessly worked towards the betterment of the region,” the Prime Minister said.

Expressing optimism in Kaur’s electoral prospects, PM Modi underscored the importance of the ongoing elections in shaping the nation’s future.

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He urged voters to participate early despite the summer heat and called on party workers to focus on winning every booth.

Responding to PM Modi’s letter, four-time MP Preneet Kaur expressed deep gratitude and humility, pledging to continue serving Patiala and Punjab with renewed zeal.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive this heartfelt letter from Prime Minister @narendramodi ji. Your kind words recognising my family’s service to Punjab are truly inspiring and strengthen our dedication to serve Patiala and Punjab with even greater zeal. For us, it is a sacred duty to follow Guru Sahib’s ‘hukum’ to serve our people,” Preneet Kaur wrote on X.

She affirmed her commitment to the progress and prosperity of Punjab, echoing the sentiment of the Fateh Rally’s success as a testament to Punjab’s determination to support the mission of Viksit Bharat and Viksit Punjab, and expressed confidence of BJP’s victory.

Captain Amarinder Singh also expressed his gratitude, tweeting: “Heartfelt gratitude to Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for your encouraging letter. Your recognition of our family’s service to Punjab strengthens our resolve to serve Patiala and Punjab with renewed dedication.

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“We are committed to advancing the vision of Viksit Bharat and Viksit Punjab. I am confident that with ever-increasing support of the people, victory for the BJP in Patiala and Punjab is certain.”

Punjab will go to the polls for its 13 Parliamentary seats on June 1.

–IANS

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Licence expired, doctors not qualified to treat newborn: Delhi Police on hospital fire

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Police probe into the Baby Care New Born Child Hospital fire has revealed that the licence issued to the hospital by the Delhi Government Health Services (DGHS) had expired on March 31.

The initial probe also revealed that the doctors at the hospitals were not qualified to treat newborn babies, who were in need of Neonatal Intensive care, as they (doctors) were only BAMS degree holders.

Delhi Police arrested the hospital owner and a doctor on duty at the hospital. The owner was identified as Naveen Kichi, a resident of Bhairon Enclave, Paschim Vihar while the doctor was identified as Dr Aaksh (26), a resident of district Charkhi Dadri in Haryana, who is a BAMS degree holder.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) Surendra Chaudhary said that on Saturday at around 11:30 p.m. a police control room (PCR) call regarding a fire at Baby Care NewBorn Hospital was received at Vivek Vihar police station, following which a police team rushed to the spot.

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“In the hospital, there were 12 newborn babies admitted and one was already dead before the fire incident. All the 12 newborn babies were rescued from the hospital with the help of other people and shifted to East Delhi Advance NICU Hospital, for treatment,” said the DCP.

Delhi Fire Service (DFS) Chief Atul Garg said that seven children were declared dead at the hospital while five newly born babies are undergoing treatment.

“All 7 dead bodies have been further shifted to GTB Hospital for postmortem,” said the DCP.

DCP Surendra Chaudhary further said that after dousing the fire, the hospital was inspected and there were burst oxygen cylinders found.

“An FIR for the offence under sections 336, 304A and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered. Further, the hospital was thoroughly inspected by police, fire brigade staff and crime team,” the DCP said.

He said that on inspection of the hospital and examination of the nursing staff, it was found that there was no fire extinguisher, improper entry exit, absence of emergency exit and deployment of the BAMS doctor.

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“Section 304 and 308 IPC have been invoked,” said the DCP.

He said that even as per the expired licence, the hospital was allowed for five beds only, but at the time of the incident 12 newborn babies were admitted to the hospital.

During the investigation, it was found that the ‘Baby Care New Born Child Hospital’ has four branches including Vivek Vihar, Punjabi Bagh, and in Haryana’s Faridabad and Gurgaon. The DCP said that the owner of the said hospital is Dr Naveen Khichi, an MD in Pediatric Medicine.

“He and his wife Dr Jagriti (Dentist) are running the said Hospital. The probable cause of the fire is stated to be a short circuit. An Electric Inspection Report from the Electric Inspector (Labour Department) is being obtained. Report is also being obtained from the Delhi Fire Services,” said the DCP.

–IANS

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AIADMK raps TN govt for not resuming free laptops scheme for govt school students

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) AIADMK General Secretary and former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) on Sunday questioned Tamil Nadu’s DMK government for not resuming the scheme to provide free laptops to government school students in the state.

In a statement, he said it was highly condemnable that the state government was not making any announcement regarding free laptops for state government school students even when only a few days were left for schools to reopen.

Noting that the scheme of free laptops to government school children was introduced during the previous AIADMK government, Palaniswami said that it was meant to increase the quality of education of the students.

He asked Chief Minister M.K. Stalin whether he would resume the free laptop scheme which was stopped after the DMK government assumed office in the state.

In another statement, Palaniswami, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, questioned the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board beginning the process of allowing only one electricity connection in the name of the house owner.

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He said that if the house owner stayed in one portion of the house and had a tenant in another portion, 100 free units of power would be provided. However, if the tenant leaves and the house owner has two electricity connections, one will be disconnected and for reconnection when a new tenant comes, the house owner has to apply afresh for a new connection, he said. This would lead to the house owner spending more, he added.

He said that during the AIADMK government, 100 units of power were provided free for both connections and called upon the DMK government to maintain the status quo.

–IANS

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Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple priest backs PM Modi's divine assertion

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 26 (IANS) As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that he’s not merely a biological entity but divinely sent stirs a significant public discourse, the priest of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple has now voiced support for the PM’s statement.

Going even further, Pushpanjali Swami Parameswara Brahmananda suggested that PM Modi existed contemporaneously with Lord Krishna and played a role in governance during that era.

Swami Parameswara Brahmananda is the highest spiritual authority of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple.

Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is among the richest Hindu temple in the world with assets worth Rs 1,20,000 crore.

Pushpanjali Swami Parameswara Brahmananda’s fresh remarks came while responding to PM Modi’s recent statement that he was convinced that God had sent him and that the energy he had was bestowed upon him by God.

“PM Modi is a contemporary of Lord Krishna. This is his new birth to complete the unfinished work in his previous birth,” Swami Parameswara Brahmanada told IANS.

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He also said that India would emerge as a superpower and there was nothing wrong with the statement of the Prime Minister.

Swami Parameswara Brahmananda in an article in a historical book on the Pournamikkavu temple here mentioned that PM Modi was a contemporary of Lord Krishna.

–IANS

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