India’s Favorite Beverage – Chai

Every Indian household has one thing in common – a tea in the morning, a tea in the evening. But how much do we know about our Chai ?

Origin of Tea

Tea was first drunk in China as far back as 2700 B.C.! In fact words such as tea, ‘chai’ and ‘chini’ are from Chinese. There are various legends about the origin of Tea. There is one about the Chinese emperor Shen Nung who always boiled water before drinking it. One day a few leaves of the twigs burning under the pot fell into the water giving it a delicious flavour. It is said they were tea leaves. There is also an Indian legend about the origin of tea. Bodhidharma, an ancient Buddhist ascetic, cut off his eyelids because he felt sleepy during meditations. Ten tea plants grew out of the eyelids. The leaves of these plants when put in hot water and drunk banished sleep.

Masala Chai

Masala Chai originated in India. In India, many herbs and spices are added to the tea. Each family has their own version of making tea. It is a tea beverage made by boiling black tea in milk and water with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices. Tea plants have grown wild in the Assam region since antiquity, but historically, Indians viewed tea as an herbal medicine rather than as a recreational beverage.

In the 1830s, the East India Company became concerned about the Chinese monopoly on tea, which constituted most of its trade and supported the enormous consumption of tea in Great Britain. Then, british colonists noticed the existence of the Assamese tea plants, and began to cultivate tea plantations locally. However, consumption of black tea within India remained low until the promotional campaign by the Indian Tea Association in the early 20th century, which encouraged factories, mines, and textile mills to provide tea breaks for their workers. It also supported many independent chaiwalas throughout the growing railway system. The official promotion of tea was as served in the Indian mode, with small added amounts of milk and sugar.

Indian varieties of Tea

  • Masala chai – It is the most popular beverage in India
  • Noon chai – The pink tea is a traditional tea beverage from Kashmir and also served in many parts of Rajasthan and Nepal.
  • Green tea – it has been used in Ayurveda and it has also become a part of the modern India lifestyle.
  • Black tea – Black Tea is stronger in flavour and produced by all tea producing regions of India. Large leaved Assamese plants are mainly used for black tea.
  • White tea – White Tea harvested in India, Sri Lanka and China, It’s one of the styles of tea made from the buds and immature tea leaves.
  • Herbal tea – Herbal Tea made from hot water and served hot with varieties of plant material such as hibiscus, rose, etc.
  • Iced tea – It is a common drink in India, mostly available as ginger lemon iced tea or lemon iced tea. Lipton and Nestle brand of tea are two most popular brands of iced tea in India.
  • Irani chai – Irani Chai are masala chai with some spices and a popular quick weekend breakfast.
  • Tandoori chai – It is made in tandoor where clay pots also known as kullhads are preheated in tandoor and again served in fresh and clean kulhads.

Indians and their Chai can never be separated from one another. Now,  I am also going to drink a refreshing cup of chai with tasty and crispy pakoras.

Indian Army Day

When people think about heroes of India, they only and only remember the Indian Army. Let us celebrate Indian Army Day by saluting all the army men and women for their bravery, dedication and patriotism.

Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year in India, in recognition of Field Marshal Kodandera M. Cariappa taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India, on 15 January 1949. Today, India will celebrate its 73rd Indian Army Day. The day is celebrated in the form of parades and other military shows in the national capital New Delhi as well as in all headquarters. Army Day marks a day to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country and its citizens. Army Day strives to motivate people to build a great Nation by knowing about how an Army officer provides his/her full life for the betterment and safety of the people. While celebrations take place across the country, the main Army Day parade is conducted in Cariappa Parade ground in Delhi cantonment. Gallantry awards and Sena medals are also awarded on this day.

K. M. Cariappa

Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He led Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in 1949. He is one of only two Indian Army officers to hold the Five-star rank of Field Marshal; the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

His distinguished military career spanned almost three decades. Born on 28 January 1898, in Madikeri, Kodagu, Cariappa joined the British Indian Army shortly after the end of World War I. He was transferred between multiple regiments early in his career before settling on 1/7 Rajputs, which became his permanent regiment. He was the first Indian military officer to attend the Staff College, Quetta, the first Indian to command a battalion. Several measures taken by Cariappa, such as his refusal to induct former Indian National Army personnel into the Army, kept the organisation out of political affairs and maintained its autonomy.  He died in his sleep on 15 May 1993. India remembers him as a true patriot and a son of the country. 

The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity, to defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and to maintain peace and security within its borders. It conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances. The army comprises more than 80% of the country’s active defence personnel. It is the largest standing army in the world, with 12,37,117 active troops and 9,60,000 reserve troops. In 1992, the Indian Army began inducting women officers in non-medical roles. In 2014, India’s army had 3 per cent women and in 2015, India opened new combat air force roles for women as fighter pilots, adding to their role as helicopter pilots in the Indian Air Force. We all have love, respect and admiration for our soldiers and the Indian army as a whole.

Happy Indian Army Day!

Eco Friendly Tourism

It is often seen that tourist spots are very dirty, plastic bags and packets are thrown everywhere. In short, tourism is polluting the environment. We can stop this by promoting eco-friendly tourism. Here are three such types of tourism.

Eco Tourism

Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.

This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

Some Eco tourism places in India are –

  1. Coorg, Karnataka
  2. Munnar, Kerala
  3. Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
  4. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
  5. Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Sustainable Tourism

The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism in the following manner: “Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems.”

According to The World Tourism Organization (WTO), sustainable tourism should:

  •  Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
  •  Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Some companies that promotes sustainable tourism in India are – 

  1. Kipepeo
  2. Evolve Back
  3. Spiti Ecosphere
  4. India Untravelled
  5. Green People

Geo Tourism

Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place – its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.

Principles of geo tourism are – 

  • Integrity of place: Enhance geographical character by developing and improving it in ways distinctive to the local, reflective of its natural and cultural heritage.
  • Market diversity: Encourage a full range of appropriate food and lodging facilities
  • Community involvement: Base tourism on community resources to the extent possible, encouraging local small businesses and civic groups 
  • Protection and enhancement of destination appeal: Encourage businesses to sustain natural habitats, heritage sites, aesthetic appeal, and local culture. 
  • Land use: Anticipate development pressures and apply techniques to prevent undesired overdevelopment and degradation. 
  • Conservation of resources: Encourage businesses to minimize water pollution, solid waste, energy consumption, water usage, landscaping chemicals, and overly bright nighttime lighting. Advertise these measures in a way that attracts

Some geo tourism places in India are –

  1. Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer
  2. Saketi, Sirmur District, Himachal Pradesh
  3. Peninsular Gneiss National Monument at Lalbagh, Bengaluru
  4. Columnar Basaltic Lava, Coconut Island (St. Mary’s Islands), Udupi District, Karnataka
  5. Ramgarh Crater, Baran district, Rajasthan.

National Youth Day

Youths are the future of our nation. Let’s celebrate the national youth day by learning about the significance of this day and also learning about how the youth population contributes to our nation.

National youth day is celebrated every year on 12th of january to commemorate Swami  Vivekananda’s birthday. Youth all over the world are inspired by his teachings about life, success and learning. He is a perfect role model for each and every student of India. This day was first observed in 1985 throughout India. This day is celebrated in schools and colleges by organising various competitions, speeches, seminars, debates, essays, quizzes, etc. On this day the youth population, which is about one-fifth of India’s total population understand their importance in the country. They also learn about Swami Vivekanada and his life principles. During the coronavirus pandemic, it will be difficult for schools and colleges to  conduct these programmes and so I think that this article will embolden them and encourage them to spread their ‘Wings of Fire’.

Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th january, 1863 in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency (present day- Kolkata, West Bengal). He was one of the greatest spiritual leaders in India. He introduced the concept Yoga and Vedanta in the western world. He was the student of Shree Ramakrishna Paramhansa. He travelled to the United States and represented India at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions. He also conducted numerous public and private lectures and classes. He circulated Hinduism philosophies in Europe, Britain and the USA. ‘Karma Yoga’ and ‘Raja Yoga’ are some of his most celebrated publications. He worked for humanity and the betterment of our society.

The original uploader was Dziewa at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4310553

What can the youth learn from Swami Vivekananda?

The teachings of Swami Vivekananda motivated the students to “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” These teachings tell us about the uncommon and remarkable personality of Swami Vivekananda. These teachings are based on his life situations 

  1. Be honest to everyone. Lying is a good way to get away with your mistakes but only in the short run. A lie leads to a thousand more lies. On the other hand speaking the truth is always best. The blame will come on you but people will always believe you. Honesty is the best policy. 
  2. You should always stick with the truth. Often, many people will stop you from telling the truth. They may repress you by using force or blackmailing you. But even in such times you should remember that truth is the small lamp that lightens the world.
  3. To achieve success, focus on your goals. Many-a-times people ultimately give up on their dreams, this is because they don’t focus on their goals. We become successful only when we work hard on our goals.
  4. Swami Vivekananda also taught everyone to face all the problems with courage and never run away from them. Every problem in life teaches us something new. Running away never really solves your problems, it just makes the problems an invisible weight on you.

Swami Vivekananda was a great person. We should remember him and follow his teachings. 

Happy National Youth Day to you.

Olympiad Examinations In India

Olympiad exams are different from regular school examinations. Every student should participate in Olympiads but most parents and students do not know the importance of these examinations.

What are Olympiad Exams?

Olympiad exams are competitive exams conducted by various organizations across India and abroad. These examinations are conducted on the basis of the school curriculum of CBSE, ICSE, and other major state boards. These exams help to compare student’s performance with their peers across the country and also around the world. The question paper for these exams is objective-type with multiple-choice questions. There may be negative marking for wrong answers. There may be 50 to 100 questions in an examination and a strict time limit. Olympiad exams focus on concept-based learning and logical thinking. This in turn enhances the abilities of the student which is an important tool to face the future competition coming in their lives.

What is the importance of Olympiad Exams?

Olympiad exams evaluate the conceptual learning and strengthen the reasoning, analytical and problem solving skills of a student from an early age. This way the student becomes ready for the upcoming challenges of the competitive world. Many people feel that competition at such an early age will not be beneficial for students, but these examinations build a strong base for students. Hence it is necessary for a student to take part in these examinations. 

Main benefits of Olympiad exams

  • They are perfect to test a student’s conceptual understanding of the subject.
  • Improves the student’s problem solving ability and challenges them to think analytically.
  • Prepares them for future competitive exams by testing a student’s aptitude as well as the knowledge of a particular subject. 
  • Provides exposure to students at the national as well as international platforms.
  • Instills the quality of hard work in the students by pushing them to prepare hard for the exam and improve their result.
  • Students’ performance in school is also improved as Olympiads sharpen their thinking and learning process which helps them to grasp the concepts taught in schools better.

Who conducts Olympiad exams?

There are independent private organizations who conduct the Olympiad Exams. Some of the major Olympiad Exam conducting bodies are as follows:

SOF (Science Olympiad Foundation), CREST Olympiads (Online Olympiad Exams), Unicus Olympiads (Summer Olympiad Exams), Educational Initiatives (ASSET), Indian Talent Olympiad, Humming Bird Education, Eduheal Foundation, Silver Zone Foundation, Unified Council

Almost all the Olympiads consider participation from school only. Only CREST Olympiads and NSTSE (organized by Unified Council) accept individual registrations.

Subjects 

Subjects in which these examinations are conducted:

Mathematics, Science, English, Cyber, General Knowledge, French, Reasoning and Spell Bee.

Preparation for Olympiad exams

Most of the Olympiad exams are conducted on the similar syllabus that is taught at school. No additional reference books are required for the preparation of these exams. But still, there are some special books and guides to prepare for Olympiads. Students are only required to be clear with all the concepts and basics. The questions asked in the Olympiad exams are quite different from what kids learn in the school. Questions are trickier and conceptual which require the students to have a wide thought process to solve the variety of problems based on logics and concepts. 

My Favorite Indian Dance Forms

Alan Watts once said ‘life’s a dance of energy’. In the same way dance is also a way to express the energy of emotions and feelings. So here are my favourite dance forms.

Bihu Dance

By Rohan Gautam 002 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86530098

Bihu is a popular folk dance associated with the state of Assam in India and it is performed generally during the Bihu festival. It is generally performed during the springtime. The energetic dance steps and quick hand movements define the Bihu dance of Assam. A lot of vibrancy can be seen in the dance outfit of Bihu, the male performers of Bihu are dressed in dhotis and gamocha. The women who perform Bihu usually wear traditional Assamese attire for the performance. Women team up their outfits with gaudy and heavy jewelry and they also decorate their braids with pretty flowers that perfectly match the color of the dress worn by them.There are many instruments that are utilized during a Bihu performance namely a Dhol, Pepa, Taal, Toka, Xutuli, Gogona and Baanhi. Watching the Bihu dance is mesmerising, the music enchants the atmosphere while the women and men of Assam joyfully dance.

Samai Dance

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The word samayi means brass. It is called Samai dance because men and women dance with brass lamps or deepak put on their heads. Samai dance is performed by people of Goa during Holi and Shigmo festival. During the Samai dance, the women wear bright and colourful sarees and men wear kurta with pajamas. The men have a head ribbon tied to their heads while taking part in the lamp dance. Women wear gajra in their hair along with other traditional jewelry such as bangles, bindi, earrings, nose pins, and necklaces.The brass lamp used in the Samayi dance is one foot long with burning wicks which dancers need to balance while dancing. Samayi dance consists of very slow dance movements as dancers need to balance lamps on their heads. Dancers dance to traditional folk songs while making exquisite movements.The main instruments used in samai dance are Harmonium, Shehnai, Ghumat, Samel, Surt, and Zanj.

Chhau Dance

The Chhau Dance is a popular form of tribal dance in India that also integrates elements of martial arts into its movements. It is generally performed in in the states of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand.The dance form has three subtypes; namely Purulia Chhau, Mayurbanj Chhau and Seraikella Chhau, named differently because of the place of their origin.The dance developed a means to portray stories to the audience. The fables revolve around Ramayana and Mahabharata, Puranas and other India Literature with religious themes. Indian instruments – Dhol, Shehnai and Dhamsa make the recital come to life. The male dancers wear brightly colored dhotis with a matching kurta on top. A vast amount of costume jewelry is worn in the form of necklaces. Female dancers, or male dancers depicting female characters, are known to wear colorful sarees.The style and variety of the costume of the dancers largely depends on the characters being portrayed by them. The dancers also use different objects to display weapons. 

Role of Biodiversity and Agriculture in making of Atmanirbhar Bharat

While flipping pages of my Geography textbook, a fact caught my eye – two third of the population of India is engaged in agricultural activities. We are blessed to have diverse climatic conditions because of which we see a variety of flora and fauna, and grow so many veggies, fruits and other crops. But India still imports a lot of harvested produce from other countries.

Atmanirbhar Bharat

Atmanirbhar Bharat, which translates to ‘self-reliant India’ or ‘self-sufficient India’, is a policy formulated by Prime minister of India Narendra Modi for making India a bigger and more important part of the global economy. It was launched on 12 May 2020  during the announcement of India’s COVID-19 pandemic related economic package. Not only should products be ‘made in India’, but the promotion of those products should take place so as to make those products competitive.  We should appreciate our local products, if we don’t do this then our products will not get the opportunity to do better and will not get encouraged. The agriculture and biodiversity sector were also given a lot of importance in it. This scheme helps farmers by providing better financial help, good prices of crops and a lot of new schemes are introduced which will help to support farmers and other people who are dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihood. The improvement in PDS (Public Distribution System) has also started. Sustainable fishing practices and organic farming practices are encouraged, beekeeping shelters are increased and Rs 1500 crore is specified for animal husbandry. Many medicinal herbs are to be grown by the shore of river Ganga. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, D V Sadananda Goda, in September 2020, said that “India will be self-reliant in fertiliser production by 2023”. Three Farm Bills passed in September 2020 provide the legal framework to give the farmers the right to choose the price and people to whom they want to sell. Coir Udyami Yojana aims to develop the coir-related industry’s sustainable development.

Role of Agriculture and Biodiversity

From my point of view, the making of New India does not mean cutting the forests to make big buildings, industries or exploiting the natural resources without limit. When I think about a new Bharat, I imagine a country with minimum degradation of natural resources while still sustaining the agricultural demand of our country. 

Important focus on agricultural exports should also be given so as to improve the quality of exports rather than just quantity, thereby fetching more price for the farmer. Exports of medicinal herbs and oils, agricultural produce and raw materials like cotton and jute will increase drastically; also aiding the economy. Correspondingly, many people will start to prefer Indian exported products.

Great biodiversity will help to maintain ecological balance for ecosystem stability and support ecotourism. We can use resources and conserve them due to eco-friendly practices in farming, fishing, etc. 

At school level, a new subject – Agriculture should be introduced with hands-on experience and interaction with farmers. This will inspire many students to study agriculture and forestry streams. 

I think that biodiversity and agricultural prosperity will highly assist in the making of New India. Our new Bharat will be more sustainable and more developed. India will promote eco friendly practices, biodiversity, organic farming, quality produce and build a strong economy. From a developing country, it will turn into a super-power.

India’s Great Comeback.


Comebacks are always special more so when you’ve back against the wall and no one expects you to fight back. Similar was the situation for Indian cricket team as they were demolished when Australian bowlers ran over them for just 36 runs lowest score for India ever. It infamously known as “Summer of 36” (because its summer season in Australia). To make situation worse Indian captain and superstar batsman Virat Kohli went on parental leave, ace pace bowler Mohammad Shami was ruled out due to fractured arm, another star batsman Rohit Sharma placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days and Indian bowler Umesh Yadav injured during the second test match. Despite all the odds and challenges India defy the great odds to claim victory in second test match of the series by 8 wicket at MCG and level the series 1-1.

Day 1

The second test began with a lot of questions after all Indian team were demolished for just 36 and lost the first match of 4 match test series. This was evident when Indian team announced 4 changes including 2 debutant on the eve of 2nd test match to be played on Boxing Day at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). Mohammad Siraj for Mohammad Shami, Ravindra Jadeja for Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill for Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant for Wriddhiman Shaha.

The first day of 2nd test match began with Australia winning the toss and opting to bat. An inspired Indian bowling unit, led by the menacing Jasprit Bumrah (4/56) Ravichandran Ashwin (3/35), steam-rolled Australia for a meagre 195. The debutant for India, Mohammed Siraj (2/40 in 15 overs) also repaid the faith shown in him. While Marnus Labuschagne (48) top-scored for Australia, Travis Head and Matthew Wade made 48 and 30 runs respectively.

India was 36 for one in its first innings in reply to Australia’s 195-10 at stumps on day 1 of the second Test at the MCG, Melbourne on Saturday. Debutant Shubman Gill batting on 28 in the company off Cheteshwar Pujara on 7.

Day 2

Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane scored a fine century as India reached 277 for five against Australia before rain forced an early stumps on the second day of the second Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday. Rahane showed great determination as he made an unbeaten 200-ball 104, studded with 12 hits to the fence

Rahane (104) and Ravindra Jadeja 40 were at the crease when the stumps were drawn with India leading by 82 runs. In the third session, Rahane and Jadeja added 104 runs without losing a wicket. Australia were all out for 195 in their first innings on the opening day.

Day 3

India is well within distance of levelling the four-match Test series after reducing Australia to 133 for 6 in the second innings at stumps on the third day of the second Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday. Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 and Ravindra Jadeja’s 57 took India to a decent first innings score of 326 and a handy 131 run lead. India will now look to wrap up the proceedings on the fourth day as Australia has a slender lead of two runs with only four wickets in hand.

For India, Jasprit Bumrah bowled brilliantly to end the day with 1/34 while Ravindra Jadeja got 2/25. Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Siraj also got a wicket each. The only worry for India is Umesh Yadav’s (1/5 in 3.3 overs) calf muscle injury after removing opener Joe Burns with a peach of delivery.

Day 4

India restricted Australia for 200 and required another 70 runs to win. Which India achieved with a loss 2 wicket and levelled the series 1-1 in what was incredible comeback story.

As the saying goes “Only darkness can make the stars shine” similarly in the most challenging times the stars of Indian cricket teams shine like brightest stars. Well whole series has not ended there are still two test matches to be played but this victory will be etched as among the most memorable victory of Indian cricket team as they defied great odds to clinched victory.

Unlock 4 : New Covid Rules

The Government of India had announced a lockdown over the last few months due to the Coronavirus pandemic. A lockdown was imposed on the whole country from the month of April. The lockdowns were imposed as a preventive measure for the pandemic. Since rates of infection have still not gone down, these measures are being continued. Recently there has been a change in the guidelines and a new system of “Unlock” is being introduced in the country. Today, a new set of guidelines were announced regarding the unlock. The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a new guideline about the opening up of more institutions and activities. Metro train services and open air theatres are to be allowed in areas other than Containment Zones. A new set of lockdowns is being extended in the country and the rules will apply to zones where there are active cases and places labelled as containment zones. Other zones will have less strict Unlock rules. These guidelines will be extended in the country till 30 September.

Photo by Miguel Montejano on Pexels.com

The Centre has said,”The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments.” After issuing the guidelines, the Home ministry also announced opening up of more activities, like the resumption of Metro train services and open air theatres. Closed theatres have not been permitted to be kept open. Until further notice they will be closed. The re-opening of activities rule will only be applicable in areas outside the Containment Zones, said the Ministry. The Centre has allowed the states and Union Territories to permit up to 50 per cent of its teaching and non-teaching staff to be allowed to go to the schools for online teaching and other official and related work. States will also be allowed to permit students of classes 9 to 12 to visit their schools, but only in areas which are not included under the containment zones, said the government order. The Centre, however, has allowed reopening of higher education institutions. But this is only for research scholars and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes which require necessary laboratory or experimental works in labs or other institutions. The previous Unlock 3 guidelines which were issued on July 29 had allowed the opening up of yoga institutes and gymnasiums. It had also removed restrictions on movement of individuals during night curfew.

School, colleges and other educational institutions will continue to remain closed for students, said the Centre on Saturday as it issued guidelines for the fourth phase of easing down the COVID-19 restrictions – “Unlock 4” – beginning September 1. This will be continuing for a month. The Home Ministry, issuing the guidelines, announced opening up of more activities, such as restarting of Metro train services and open air theatres. According to the Ministry, the re-opening of activities will only be allowed in areas outside the Containment Zones.

The Unlock3 guidelines issued on July 29 had allowed opening of yoga institutes and gymnasiums and removed restrictions on movement of individuals during night curfew. In its latest order, the States have also been asked not to impose any local lockdown restrictions in places outside Containment Zones. According to the government data, India’s COVID-19 numbers rose to 34,63,972 with a single-day spike of 76,472 new infections, while the death count climbed to 62,550 in 24 hours.

Free Press?

Democracy is a system of the government in which the people of the state or the citizens have the power to directly select their representatives amongst themselves and form a governing body such as a parliament, senate, or a body that can be called by other names. It is a system where eligible members of the state elect the government. Although it is flawed still it is the most preferred form of government because it assures that government caters to every person’s need unlike autocracy and if the government fails to do so, it can be changed after completing its tenure or even before if people would like to. India, the world’s largest democracy adopted it in 1947 after gaining independence from the British regime. Like every other thing, democracy lies on some foundation namely,  legislative, executive, judiciary, and most importantly media. But media is independent unlike the rest of the three pillars. It functions outside the government ensuring the ruling body has no control over it.  Because the Press is the voice of people, it is considered to be the voice of the voiceless. The Press existed even before independence and it certainly proves that any sort of media or press is by the people of the state not by the ruling body.  Democracy may be very powerful in its own terms and conditions but is not fully efficient in working without media, especially the free press. The media acts as a bridge between the government and the people as it tends to inform people about the functions performed by the government. It also informs the government officials about the problems faced by people in their respective constituencies. Hence, the democratic system is only fully efficient when the state enjoys a free press. It stands for the civic rights, political rights, and religious rights of the people. Media plays a vital role in forming opinions and influencing decision making by the people, comparing present and past experiences, actions, works, etc. done by different governing bodies. It also helps in giving feedback, exposure, and conduit mechanisms by the people to the government, so that the representatives can work according to their needs and requirements. Citizens receive the information about the new policies, projects, schemes, laws, amendments, etc. through media, by which they can assess the working of the government and analyze if the deeds are beneficial for them or not. The Press also acts as a crucial instrument for accounting. A person can forget the promises made by their leaders but a printed newspaper, video, or audio recording will act as a piece of reminding evidence for both citizens and the government after all the elected government is accountable to the citizens of the state. The people who work in the press must be unafraid. Some brave journalists do perform string operations, do investigations, and find out the reality. It tends to fight against corruption, unfulfilled promises, disloyal behavior, or misuse of power in public or private life. But due to its immense power several times it was hindered from functioning. History tells about many circumstances when the press was not allowed to function smoothly. Indira Gandhi during emergency choked the print media by not giving them advertisements cutting off their revenue. Also, electronic media was controlled by the government and therefore it easily hid that emergency has been declared. Even the British did not spare the Indian media. Press worked so vigorously during the regime in promoting the idea of freedom that they had to bring the Indian Press Act 1910. Today Indian Press has been ranked 140 out of 180 countries which participated in the index. This is extremely saddening and frightening since India being the world’s largest “democracy” is now trying to undermine its own foundation. The audacity with which many Indian news channels spread hate is deeply terrifying, people should gain consciousness because a lie told a hundred times becomes the truth. We should ask ourselves, “Is our Press really free?”