The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 23-06-2022 | 05:35 pm
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said on Thursday that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state had done well in education, health and security—the three basic factors that he said were required to make progress in any field.Patel was addressing a gathering after launching the 17th edition of Kanya Kelavani & Shala Praveshotsav, the annual school enrolment drive, at Memadpur in Banaskantha district’s Vadgam tehsil.“Three factors can be listed as the basic requirements for progress in any field–education, health and security. With an aim to make Gujarat a growth engine and strengthen the foundation of education in the state, Narendrabhai (Modi) started Kanya Kelavani & Shala Praveshotsav in 2003. If the foundation of education is strong, we can make progress in each and every field,” the chief minister said.In Banaskantha district, more than 15,000 children were enrolled in Class 1 under the drive. According to district primary education officer Sanjay Parmar, “A total 71 eligible children were enrolled in Class 1 by the CM at two government primary schools (one each for boys and girls) in Memadpur village. Thirty-five children (in the age group of 3-5) were enrolled in the Anganwadi of Memadpur.”The chief minister said education was necessary for making better use of technology and that because of the state government’s efforts, the dropout rate had fallen significantly, adding that the government had made available the best facilities for engineering and medical education.Patel then referred to the state government’s Covid-19 response. “During the Covid pandemic, we have seen that even big countries felt exhausted. But under the guidance of Narendrabhai and his slogan ‘Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas, Sauno Vishwas and Sauno Prayas’, we have given free vaccination to each and every person. And to ensure that nobody sleeps hungry, arrangements were made for free ration. (Modi) attempted to get us out of the pandemic and today we have come out (of the pandemic),” he said.Patel also talked about the government’s Ayushman card initiative, under which an eligible person can get medical benefits worth up to Rs 5 lakh for any ailment.Talking about security, the chief minister said, “We all know that security is also equally necessary…Earlier, before going to Ahmedabad, people here would first get it checked if everything is fine there. Many elders must have seen that two decades back. (But) the young ones, who are 20-22 years old, do not even know what unrest is.”“Today, under the instructions of Narendrabhai, police are doing very good work. Along with that, we also know that they did a very good job of assisting us during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Patel said.Minister of State for Education Kirtisinh Vaghela, who is the MLA for Kankrej in the district, and a number of local BJP leaders were present on the occasion besides district collector Anand Patel and superintendent of police Akshayraj Makwana.The Vadgam Assembly constituency, under which the Memadpur village falls, is represented by independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, who has pledged support to the Opposition Congress.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in cooling down inflated airfares, saying they were affecting Kerala’s tourism sector.“Let me bring to your kind attention a very important issue that is pulling the travel industry down and putting non-residents to extreme hardship. Airfares in both the International and Domestic sectors have become exorbitantly high recently. They are very high when compared to the fares that had been prevailing in pre-COVID times,” Vijayan wrote.In the past four years, Kerala, where tourism contributes 11 per cent to the State’s GDP, could witness a satisfactory tourist season only in 2019 as it was devastated by floods in 2018 and waves of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.Kerala is connected with most Indian states by air. Here is the analysis of average airfare for the next 30 days (July 4 to August 4) from different states to Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram. (Prices are approximate and may change)From Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram, the average price of an air ticket is Rs 10,500 approximately for Indigo Airlines, Rs 11,000 for Vistara and Rs 11,500 for Air India. For flying from Chandigarh, the average prices are Rs 7,000 for Indigo Airlines and Rs 10,000 for Vistara.The average airfare from Lucknow to Thiruvananthapuram is Rs 6,200 for Indigo and Rs 12,500 for Air India. From Ahmedabad to Thiruvananthapuram, the average prices are Rs 6,200 for Indigo, Rs 13,000 for Vistara and Rs 22,000 for Air India.For flying from Bhopal to Thiruvananthapuram, the flyer has to pay Rs 7,200 for Indigo and Rs 14,000 for Air India approximately. From Patna to Thiruvananthapuram, the average air fare is Rs 8,500 for Indigo, Rs 11,000 for Vistara and Rs 14,000 for Air India.The average cost of flying from Raipur to Thiruvananthapuram is Rs 6,400 for Indigo, Rs 12,000 for both Air India and Vistara. Flying from Hyderabad to Thiruvananthapuram costs Rs 5,200 for Indigo, Rs 14,000 for Air India and Rs 12,500 for Vistara.In Vijayawada, the average air tickets prices for Thiruvananthapuram area Rs 7,500 for Indigo, Rs 12,000 for Vistara and Rs 14,500 for Air India.From Bengaluru to Thiruvananthapuram, the average flying cost is Rs 5,000 for Indigo, Rs 12,000 for both Vistara and Air India.The average airfare from Kolkata to Thiruvananthapuram is Rs 6,000 for Indigo, Rs 12,000 for Vistara and Rs 14,000 for Air India. For flying from Guwahati to Thiruvananthapuram, the average prices are Rs 6,000 for Indigo and Rs 12,000 for Vistara.As per the data available at state-owned retailer Indian Oil’s website, the price of jet fuel on Monday was Rs 1,41,232.87 per kilo litre. Last year in October it was around Rs 80,000, almost 40 per cent less.Aviation companies, raising concerns, have claimed that they will be unable to put planes in the air if prices keep rising as 60 per cent of airfare charges depend on fuel prices.The prices are rising in oil-import-dependent India due to the disruptions in supply chains due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and Rupee depreciating against the US dollar, making imports costlier.Fuel rates have been on the rise in India because energy prices globally have risen on the back of supply concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand returning after being hit by the pandemic. India is 85% dependent on imports to meet its oil needs.
China has been steadily climbing the world university rankings over the past decade as it continues to promote policies that strengthen the performance of its high-potential institutions on ranking metrics. The indianexpress.com analysed rankings data of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education (THE) over the past decade to find that Chinese higher education institutions are consistently improving their share in the top-500 pie even as the dominance of countries like the US and UK has waned in recent years. Read |IISc top Indian university, overtakes IITs: QS World University RankingsIn QS World University Rankings (WUR), China has increased its tally in the global top-500 list from 16 universities in 2012 to 26 in 2022. In fact, in the latest edition, for the first time, China is home to two of the world’s top 15 universities — Peking University (12th rank) and Tsinghua University (14th rank). More Chinese universities have also broken into the top 500 club of the Times Higher Education (or THE) Rankings in the last decade. China’s representation in the top 500 here has gone up from 11 in 2016 to 24 in 2022.The performance of Indian universities pales in comparison. There were seven Indian universities in the top 500 of the QS WUR in 2012. That number has increased to just eight. Similarly, as many as 71 Indian institutes participated in the Times Rankings in 2022 compared to 69 in 2021, but only four figured in the top 500. In 2016, India had five universities in the top 500.Meanwhile, first-world countries like the US and the UK continue to dominate the top 500 of world rankings but their share of universities in this group is shrinking. For instance, in the QS rankings, the US had 103 institutes in the top 500 in 2012, which came down to 87 in 2022. The UK, on the other hand, had 52 universities in the top 500 in 2012, which is down to 48 in 2022. Other countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, too, have seen their tally in the best 500 universities decrease over 10 years. Performing on research metricsThe relentless rise of Chinese universities in the QS Rankings has been powered by their performance on parameters such as academic reputation, employer reputation, and faculty-student ratio. However, it’s the ‘Citations per Faculty’ parameter, where China really shines. The ‘Citations per Faculty’ parameter represents the total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution across a five-year period by the number of faculty members at that institution. Most Chinese universities — including Peking University (96.7 out of 100), Tsinghua University (98.1 out of 100), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (97.1), University of Science and Technology of China (99.9), and Nanjing University (96.1) — score very high on this metric. “Where patterns emerge for any given country as a group, those that gain have typically demonstrated a fixed or increasing level of real-term investment in higher education and research over several years,” said Ben Sowter, QS Senior Vice President.Sowter added, “Such investment programmes, tend to be high-profile and in addition to enabling the uplift of individual institutions, also draw attention to the country as a whole, either as a destination for students and faculty or as fertile ground for partnership and collaboration. The target in these cases is better, more competitive, more recognised universities – and in due time, the rankings tend to reflect this.”As per Times ranking parameters in 2022, Chinese universities score high on teaching (eg: Peking University’s score of 91.4 out of 100), research (eg: Tsinghua University’s score of 95.7 out of 100) and industry income (eg Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University score a perfect 100 on this metric). Excellence initiatives’Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education, told indianexpress.com, that China’s gains in global rankings coincide with a series of state-sponsored decisions and policies (known as ‘excellence initiatives’) that are designed to improve academic research and, hence, consequently, boost the competitiveness of its leading universities.“China’s is perhaps the most significant initiative in the world – for three decades now it has been supporting a relatively small group of universities with a major injection of additional funding, but also a range of policies to support excellence in higher education, including, for example, policies to attract leading Chinese scholars who had established careers abroad to return to China and help strengthen their universities, and policies to support the development of strong research cultures and incentives to publish research in the world’s leading international journals,” said Baty.China has also substantially increased funding for its universities during the past decade. Between 2012 and 2021, the Chinese government is now spending twice the amount it did on higher education — from $24 billion to $47 billion.**Total universities in top 500 rankings Filling the gapDespite a huge number of international students choosing to study in China, its universities have failed to achieve high scores in the international student ratio parameters in both QS and Times world rankings. China still sends most of its students abroad for study, mainly to universities in the West. “But, it is now very competitive in attracting international students as some of its universities now compete with the best in the world,” added Baty of Times Higher Education.Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Leverage Edu, also told indianexpress.com that China and Russia have had the largest outbound student population over the last two to three decades, as a result of which they are now in a phase where top universities want to set up domestic shops.“This led to more investment, more competition, and many newer universities—all of which in turn attract the world’s best faculty, including a lot of returnees. Second, both China and Russia, and more prominently the former, have demonstrated great focus in mapping higher education to the country’s macro focus areas i.e not doing everything under the sun and instead focusing on subjects of study where the country actively requires more future talent, like manufacturing previously and hard-tech now,” added Chaturvedi.Rohit Kumar Yadav, a fourth-year MBBS student at Shihezi University, told indianexpress.com that most students who opt to study at a Chinese university pursue MBBS courses. The situation is similar at Russian universities that mostly attract medicine students.“One of the reasons Indians flock to China to pursue MBBS degrees is the low tuition fee. The average annual fee for MBBS courses in China is 21,000 Chinese Yuan (Rs 2.5 lakh), whereas the annual fee at an Indian private medical college ranges from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 20 crore. Another reason could be the cutthroat competition for a high rank in the NEET-UG (National Eligibility cumEntrance Test-Undergraduate), where over 16 lakh students take the exam for over 83,000 MBBS seats,” said Yadav.
A serious case of Covid infection in a 10-year-old, with ill effects akin to those of Covid in adults, was reported at a government hospital in Ahmedabad.First believed to be suffering from bacterial pneumonia, the 10-year-old boy from Bavla was admitted to GMERS Sola Medical College and Hospital (MCH) on June 25 with fever for the past fortnight, weakness and poor appetite. OPD treatment had yielded no results.The child was taken to the hospital 5 days after he began suffering from abdominal pain and vomiting. Mirror learned that the child also had difficulty in breathing and his condition was getting worse when he was admitted to the hospital.He was admitted into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Perplexed over such a caseof ‘pneumonia’ amid constantly rising Covid cases, even as the child had no history of Covid, doctors urged a chest X-ray.That is when SARS-CoV-2 showed up. His lungs, especially the right lung, was inundated with what is known as ‘white out’ texture now associated with the coronavirus.His condition kept deteriorating even in the PICU. The boy was kept on a high flow nasal cannula.Further investigation by HRCT scan showed extensive consolidation in both right and left zones of the lungs showing ‘ground glass’ appearance, with the highest CO-RADS score of 5, another sign of suspected Covid.Meanwhile, the boy, his parents and relatives tested negative for Covid-19 by RT-PCR. However, the boy tested positive in an antibody test, further confirmation of suspected Covid.His parents had received two doses of the Covid vaccine, said doctors.Further medical examination showed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) comparable to Covid associated pneumonia. He also showed significantly higher levels of IL-6, indicating a cytokine storm initiated by the immune system, a reaction that is also associated with Covid infection. Dr Nehal Patel, HoD of Paediatrics at GMERS Sola MCH said, “While we had doubts on the child’s ailment, the white out appearance on X-ray, a CO-RADS score of 5/5 on HRCT with ground glass appearance and subsequent cytokine storm during treatment, confirmed our suspicion of Covid.”Once confirmed as Covid, he was provided extensive treatment with steroids. His parents breathed a sigh of relief by the end of the week when his condition gradually improved. He is likely to be discharged on Monday.Dr Patel said, “Vaccination of the age group above 12 years has left those below that age group vulnerable to Covid. Covid symptoms may present themselves with age shift to younger children. So adult vaccination with their booster is required for continuing protection in the family against Covid. Vaccination of younger children should start as soon as possible.”The white out appearance on X-ray, a CO-RADS score of 5/5 on HRCT with ground glass appearance andsubsequent cytokine storm during treatment, confirmed our suspicion of Covid–Dr Nehal Patel, HoD, Paeditrics, Sola Civil Hospital
From less than 50 per cent in Class 10 and over 100 students enrolled outside the village to private schools commuting a distance of as much as 100 kilometre, Kubadharol High School did a turn around to over 93 per cent result and not a single student from the village seeking secondary education outside the village.With the community resolution passed in 2017, Kubadharol, a small village in Sabarkantha district’s Vadali taluka, not only provided infrastructure to the village school but also decided that no parent will send their children outside the village for studies.“Until 2017-18, over 100 children from the village would go to private schools as far as Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. The same year, the school’s Class 10 result was less than 50 per cent,” Kubadharol Yuvak Mandal chairman Ravindra K Patel said.“The same year, villagers got together, arranged for infrastructure in the school like computers and projectors while the Ahmedabad-based Dr K R Shroff Foundation helped the school with their teachers for Class 9 and 10. We held meetings with parents and passed a resolution that no child would leave the village for secondary education,” Patel added.The Yuvak Mandal is managing the high school—Class 9 and 10 of the Kubadharol grant-in-aid high school attached to the government primary school.Ravindra is one such parent whose son Chaitanya cleared Class 10 from the village with 87 per cent in 2020 while his daughter Nishtha, studying in Class 9, has achieved the first position in the National Merit cum Means Scholarship (NMMS) exam.Convincing parents was not easy initially, says Hiteshbhai Patel, the Prinicpal of Kubadharol High School. “We held repeated meetings with all the parents and convinced them that with the infrastructure facilities like digital aids and teachers available at the school, it is at par with any other private school to which they are sending their children,” Patel said.“It was tough initially but gradually as the results started improving, parents had faith in us and things got better. In 2020 SSC exam, 36 students had appeared in board exam, out of which, 78 per cent could clear. This year in the Class 10 exam, 30 students had appeared, out of which, 28 students could clear Class 10 with a pass percentage of over 93 per cent while 3 students have scored more than 90 per cent” he added.Vasubhai Patel, father of Kavya, who secured 94 per cent in 2022 Class 10 Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board results, said, “Because there were no teachers in secondary school, students were forced to move out of village for Class 9 and 10. But after Kubadharol school got support from the foundation with Math, Science and English teachers for Class 9 and 10 students and the infrastructure improved, we decided to not send our children outside the village and we are happy that we took this decision.”“Dr K R Shroff Foundation started working with Kubadharol school in 2012. At that point of time, children of farm labours and from economically weak background were studying in government primary schools and majority of the village children were studying in private schools in Vadali. Gradually, the school result and student attendance improved due to committed and dedicated effort made by Dr K R Shroff Foundation teachers,” says Uday Desai, president Dr K R Shroff Foundation.This also saw the increase in enrollment at the school. From an enrollment in the higher school (Class 9 and 10) to 52 in the year 2017, it is 76 in the year 2022-23.
The keys were handed over by Ambassador Naveen Srivastava in the presence of Devendra Paudel, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, who also graced the event. Gifting of 75 ambulances also coincides with the India@75 celebrations being marked this year to commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence, the Indian Embassy said.In his remarks during the event, Ambassador Srivastava said that this has been one of the long-standing traditions of the Government of India under the Nepal-India Development Partnership Programme to bolster the efforts of Government of Nepal to strengthen its infrastructure in health and education.He also highlighted that this is part of the very robust and strong development partnership between India and Nepal, which has a long history and legacy, and has geographical spread throughout Nepal, touching people’s lives and bringing out a tangible progress in the development journey of Nepal.Minister Poudel, in his remarks, appreciated India’s various ongoing developmental projects in Nepal and said that these will continue to strengthen people-to-people connect and the bilateral relations between the two countries.Since 1994, India has gifted 940 ambulances and 184 school buses to various beneficiary organisations spread across various districts of Nepal, till date.It is part of Government of India’s continued support for the efforts of Nepal to strengthen health and education facilities and also facilitating easy physical access to these services, the embassy said.