Shawn Bryant knew he would be under quarantine for two weeks when he arrived in Taiwan from Daejeon, South Korea. The local police called every day and Bryant had told them he would be moving to a new Airbnb a few days into his stay. They said it was fine as long as he took a taxi.
So Bryant was alarmed when, in the taxi, he received a text warning that he had gone too far from his accommodation and would be fined if he didn’t return immediately. He quickly called his police contact, who assured Bryant he can just ignore the automated message.
“I’m glad they’re taking it very seriously and not letting people off the hook easily,” said Bryant, who is visiting Taiwan on his way back to Canada, his home country.
Using phone tracking to enforce mandatory quarantine is one example of how Taiwan has managed to contain the spread of coronavirus, with just 48 confirmed cases of infection to date, including one death. That’s despite the island located just 130km (80 miles) from mainland China, the centre of the virus outbreak which has reported more than 80,000 cases and 3,000 deaths.
As the UK, US, Italy, and other countries outside China struggle to cope with rising cases of the virus within their borders, many are taking note of Taiwan’s successes. Experts and officials say effective controls in Taiwan can be attributed to the use of technology, a central command centre, its single-payer healthcare system, and swift decision making.
Taiwan’s government was quick to implement border controls and it was one of the first to ban exports of surgical masks. Unlike in 2003, when severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) killed dozens of people in Taiwan after spreading from southern China, Taiwan has access to more advanced technologies this time around.
It was also on alert early due to its experience of the Sars epidemic. China was criticised for delays reporting to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sars. “What we learned from Sars was that we need to be very sceptical with data from China,” said Chan Chang-Chuan, dean of National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health. “We learned very harsh lessons then and that experience is something other countries don’t have.”
Taiwan is not a member of the WHO because Beijing objects. China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory even though Taiwan functions as a sovereign country with an independent, democratically elected government, blocks its membership of international organisations.
Since 2017, Taiwan has been barred from attending the annual World Health Assembly, an annual policy meeting, due to lobbying from Beijing. In the current outbreak, it has been excluded from WHO emergency meetings on the coronavirus.
Taiwanese experts were allowed to participate online in a WHO forum on Covid-19 on 12 February in their professional capacities. China’s foreign ministry said Beijing had given permission, while Taipei said China had nothing to do with it and that it was the result of direct negotiation with the WHO.
The issue has become an increasingly sore point for Taiwan amid the virus outbreak, with Taipei saying it is a big disadvantage for global health. Others, including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe have called for the WHO to allow Taiwan to join.
“For us, receiving timely information is very important … Taiwan also needs to let WHO know that Taiwan can’t share our successful experiences if we can’t participate,” said Kolas Yotaka, spokeswoman for Taiwan’s cabinet. “We need to work together to end this nightmare.”
In Taiwan, most residents carry on as normal, with offices and schools open. Many restaurants, gyms, and cafes in the capital, Taipei, are still bustling, although most premises will take temperatures and spray hands with sanitiser before allowing customers in.
The government has been buying up all domestic mask production and rationing purchases to just three masks per person per week, causing queues outside pharmacies. It will enable online purchases this week.
“Everyone is really united at the moment and trust the government’s policies. They seemed heavy-handed at first, but now I believe they are wise decisions,” said Andy Chen, general manager of Taiwan Comfort Champ, a mask manufacturer that has been ordered to ramp up production.
Despite the sense of calm, Taiwanese officials are still on high alert. The health minister, Chen Shih-chung, said last week community transmission was unavoidable in the long run and Taiwan needed to be prepared.
Chan, from National Taiwan University, agrees more needs to be done, including more widespread and efficient testing for Covid-19. South Korea, a country of 51.8 million, conducts around 15,000 tests a day and has drive-through test centres. Taiwan, with a population of almost 24 million, currently conducts only around 800 screenings a day and not everyone under quarantine is tested.
There will be more and more confirmed cases as the US and other countries conduct more tests, Chan added.
For Bryant, who is temporarily in the country while en route to Canada, he is happy to wait out his quarantine. He is fine with authorities tracking his movement for now, but he expresses slight concern about the “big brother” implication. Taiwanese officials say it is legal, assuring that they are tracking individuals only during the period of mandatory quarantine.
“We are not using any advanced surveillance technology. It’s simply tracking based on their phone’s sim cards and their nearby base stations,” said cabinet spokeswoman Kolas.
“We want to protect the person as well as others in Taiwan,” she said. “To prevent more infections and fatalities, it’s a measure we have to take.”
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Controversy Around The Tanishq Ad
The new Tanishq Ad film ‘Akavatam’, which quite tastefully and delicately portrayed an inter-faith couple who are entering another new phase of life has been taken down after the social media bombarded it with hate comments and threats of inflicting violence. One of the Tanishq stores in Gujrat’s Gandhidham was threatened by the fringe group and the store manager was forced to write a note of apology for broadcasting an advertisement based around the theme of inter-faith marriage. As observed by many, the problem is not the content that was being presented but the theme itself. The Right-wing supports found it offensive that ad film promoted love jihad by showing a Hindu girl who was married to a Muslim family.
The Issue With Freedom Of Speech In India
The banning of such books, films, shows, and plays is not new in India. Books like Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie had been banned during the time when Rajiv Gandhi was in the office. The excuse that was dished out was to protect the citizens from inflicting violence on each other. But in doing so, India is barring the citizens to express themselves freely and utilizing their fundamental right of free speech. As long as the book or a movie follows the rulebook of the government, banning is not imposed. Thus, the entire idea behind freedom of speech and expression collapses.
Western Governments on the other hand has come to terms with the fact that the simplest issues will create a rupture among the mass. The world is filled with bigots and will remain so and no banning of books or movies or ad films will bring them ultimate satisfaction. Western Governments, thus, decided to protect free speech and free expression knowing that certain sectors will resort to violence.
The Effect Of The Online Hate Campaign
The Tata group also decided to pull down the ad film in the face of dissent and after they saw that people are trying to boycott the brand. The Spokesman of Tata group released a statement after pulling down the ad film, “The idea behind the Ekavatam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective. We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well-being of our employees, partners, and store staff.” They clarified that the only reason they have decided to take down the ad film is to safeguard the interests of their employees who have been assaulted.
Indian actor Kangana Ranaut, who usually speaks in favor of the right-wing Supports claimed that it glorifies the concept of “Love Jihad and sexism” and vehemently emphasized the point that: civilization needs to be protected. Whereas, Actors like Richa Chadha and Divya Dutta said that they found the ad film to be quite unique and beautiful.
Rafael Nadal Winning Yet Another French Open And Proving Why His King Of Clay
The Popularity of the Spanish sportsman, Rafael Nadal in the tennis world is well-known. His dominance over the French Open over all these years is also not new, since any seasons he has shown why he should be considered for the tag of greatness. In the 2020s French, Open Nadal delivered a clear dominant with scores 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, over Novak Djokovic. Djokovic praised Nadal by saying, “He keeps going. No holding him back, it seems like. It’s amazing. I mean, I admire all his achievements”
Reactions after the win
With these outstanding scores, he is now tied with Roger Federer at 20 major singles championships, which is more than any player achieved in the tennis history. Due to two back-to-back Knee surgeries Federer who is 39 years at the moment, sat out both the U.S. Open and French Open. But after Nadal’s win he posted a congratulatory note on Instagram:
“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players,” Federer began, ending with: “I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
After the victory, Nadal himself commented that “(To) win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … (to) think today about the 20th,” and went on to say, “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”
At the moment he is ranked second, after his French Win. But if Djokovic won this season then the trio, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic will be standing at 20-19-18. But with Nadal’s win, it brought him closer to break another historic record.
The record he has made is extraordinary and unbelievable but then there are certain factors that contribute to it. Nadal is known as the king of clays since his early childhood planning tennis. He plays best on the best on the red surface and Heavy topspin forehands, incredible defense and a position way behind the baseline make him undefeatable. Nadal is a left-handed player which benefits him immensely, maybe that is the reason behind several wins. His left-hand strikes give him certain unique angles that the opponent is often seen at a loss.
Since he is playing from a very early age, he has sustained several injuries. One of the most severe ones was in his knees (Tendinitis). The specialists of the Tennis world have always pondered upon a singular thought: what would have Nadal achieved if he was free of pain and several injuries?
It is explicitly clear that the man was born to reign the Tennis Court while he plays. His fitness, strength, skills, and attitude that goes beyond the court boundary also contribute to his victory.
NCB And Bollywood Drug Nexus: Everything You Need To Know
What started as a murder mystery related to the death of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, has now turned into a hunt for Bollywood Drug Nexus. During the interrogation of Rhea Chakraborty, few of WhatsApp chat messages were retrieved which game indication to drug consumptions by the Late Actor as well as people linked to him. Many of A-list Bollywood actors and managers were summoned by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for questioning.
Some of the actors who were Shraddha Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, manager Krishnma Prakash and Kshitij Prasad. One round of questioning is already done by the NCB but it said that the actors may have to be questioned again. Many people took to social media to extend support towards the actors. Karan Johar, who is the owner of Dharma Productions after the arrest of Kshitij Prasad broke his silence about the drug case.
- Shraddha Kapoor who shared the big screen with Sushant Singh Rajput in Chhichhore confessed that Sushant Singh Rajput used to consume drugs in his vanity van during the process of filming but she vehemently denies consuming anything of that sort. When the NCB questioned her about the party that SSR threw in his Pawana guesthouse, she stated that the party had just weed and alcohol; no drugs were present in the scene.
- Deepika Padukone was questioned by NCB for 5 long hours where she accepted that the part related to WhatsApp group but denied drug consumption. NCB did not give the nuances of the interrogation.
- Krishnma Prakash is the former manager of Deepika Padukone who was part of the WhatsApp group where procuring hash was discussed.
- Sara Ali Khan’s name got involved with this drug case when Rhea Chakroborty claimed that Sara Ali Khan used to consume drugs along with her and SSR. When interrogated Sara Ali Khan denied consuming drugs but revealed that she dated the late actor briefly during their “Kedarnath” Shoot.
- Kshitij Prasad is a former producer of Dharmatic Entertainment – a sister concern of Dharma Productions was arrested in FIR 16/2020 of NCB Mumbai zonal unit. He was supposedly involved with the major drug peddlers of Mumbai region. When interrogated by NCB, Prasad stated that he only used to procure drugs for his own consumption.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) released a statement saying that the interrogation and the answers of the actors cannot be revealed, it will be directly submitted in the court. “The actresses have denied taking drugs. We may serve them a summons for further questioning if we find new evidence. Their questioning is over for now,” and that they think there might be a link between Shraddha Kapoor’s and Sara Ali Khan’s case. All the actors have denied using any form of drugs, they even went ahead to claim that they do not even indulge in the activity of smoking. The main aim of NCB is to bring down the “drug Nexus” that is functional in Bollywood.
PM Modi’s Speech At United Nations General Assembly
Since the formation of United Nations right after the end of the Second World War, each year it has held a general assembly meeting where most of the countries are invited to speak and celebrate the historic occasion. On 26th September of 2020, UN celebrated its 75th session but due to the recent pandemic crisis, the leaders of the different country were asked to virtually send the speech, India did the same as well.
Some of the highlights of the speech delivered by PM Modi are presented below
- India has significantly contributed to the ideals held by the United Nations but PM Modi questions the relevance of such ideals at present.
- He questions if the body can accommodate and deal with the present-day problems as it is quite different from the previous century. The challenges are different.
- He extensively spoke about the reformation of the United Nations. He states that the UN has achieved a lot but there are certain cases which require introspection.
- He reflects on the state of wars. He proceeds to say that even if the world has avoided a Third World War but wars were still fought at a small scale which the river of blood kept flowing.
- He asks the United Nations to extend the role of India so that it can more actively contribute to global welfare. He asks the body for how long India will be kept away from the decision-making structure.
- India has been a well-wisher and actively helped other countries during a medical crisis. More than 150 countries were sent medical supplies during the recent pandemic scare.
- He elaborated on the vaccine trials that are being conducted in India and how they are increasing intra intra production. The country is moving towards phase three trials.
- India has always been and will continue to oppose the use of drugs and illegal weapons.
- He talks about the technological advances he has made during the previous four to five years. He states that connecting 400 million people to the banking system has been a massive hurdle but he has achieved the impossible and now India is one of the leading countries who have digitized monetary transaction.
- He promises to free India of Tuberculosis by the year 2025.
- The villages of India will also go through a major transition in Near Future.
- India is one of the few countries who actively fight for women rights and gives women 26 weeks of paid maternity leave.
- The country has also brought reforms to safeguard the interests of the transgender community.
- PM Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat will aid to the world’s economical state. He encourages all the countries to dedicate themselves for the welfare of the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi represented Indians and upheld their sentiments. Throughout his speech which lasted roughly for 21 minutes, he emphasized the fact that UN needs to go through a reformation as it is still conducting itself by following the rules and regulation laid down during its formation.
Bharat Bandh, A Peaceful Protest By The Farmers Against Farm Bills
Amidst all the anxiety and chaos of the pandemic, the Parliament passed three farm bills which have got both the opposition and the farmers angry. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana have come out to protest on the roads in groups, showing their agitation towards the bills passed. The bills passed on 20th and 22nd September 2020 made amendments to the APMC (Agriculture Price Marketing Committee) Act which says that all the restrictions levied on the trade of agricultural commodities across different countries and different states in India have been removed. New Agricultural Markets to be set up in large villages and small towns so that farmers can sell their products without restrictions.
The Three New Laws Passed Are
1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020
2) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Ordinance, 2020
3) Amendment to the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955
Essential Commodities Act
The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was a law passed during World War II by the Britishers to exercise their control over the regulation of essential commodities in India. The British passed laws which ensured how much of which commodity will be stored or sold in India so that the British could benefit from the Indian produce. The Bill seeks to cancel out the role of markets or mandis in agricultural trade and instead, proposes the regulation of agricultural trade only through APMCs. This amendment is to ensure that the farmers are not getting exploited and are getting fairly paid for their produce. Each state will have its own APMC and the market and trade of the farmers produce will be directed by the market committees formed by the APMC.
Why do the farmers oppose?
The bill was passed without consulting the opposition, the farmers’ representatives, the government of Punjab who is the hub of agricultural trade and most important state in India’s food security chain and hence has been termed as an undemocratic move by the Central Government. The bills do not state clearly what the Minimum Support Price(MSP) for all the crops would be and this is hitting on the survival of the poor farmers. They do not know if the MSP is only levied on the farmers or the private players as well. Now they are scared, that the market committees will control the prices, trade, and marketing and the farmer would be left to run from one retailer to the other and might not get his fair share of produce. There is no written track record of the MSPs, all the farmers have are vocal promises.
The Bills passed by the Parliament have been in controversy since their day of release, specifically among the farmers of Punjab and Hariyana. The farmer organisations went on a strike to voice out their protest against the 3 farm bills. The Bhartiya Kisan Union and about 31 farmer organizations came out on the roads on Friday, 25th September for a peaceful protest by blocking roads also referred to as ‘chakkajam’. The call for Bharat Bandh was answered and received equal participation by a lot of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, and many more.
The Farm bills coming into power without considering the presence of opposition has laid a big question mark on the democracy. Farmers had begun their protest but regardless of their choice, the bills were still passed. This is caused a lot of chose in the farmer organizations and they coming up with peaceful protests to show their agitation against the laws passed.