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 Ramdas Athawale works & plays with son to kill lockdown blues (Lead)

Ramdas Athawale works & plays with son to kill lockdown blues (Lead)

By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, March 29 (IANS) A fortnight after giving a rocking new medical anthem to the country, 'Go, Corona Go', Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has retreated a couple of steps, albeit temporarily.


Into the 'lockdown' -- with the rest of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic rages wild outside -- Athawale has chosen to divide the extra time between his ministerial responsibilities, his family and of course, his health.

"Since there's little physical activity now, I workout for an hour on the exercycle, meditate 30 minutes, read a lot, catch up on TV news and occasionally play pool or carom with my teenage son Jeet," Athawale smiled, as wife Seema adores the bonding between her spouse and son.

He even surprised his family when he picked up a guitar and strummed a bit to relieve the lockdown stress, amid attending scores of SOS calls from desperate souls suffering in different parts of India or abroad.

A fortnight ago, Athawale, 60, attended an event in Mumbai and gave the clarion marching call -- Go, corona Goa -- which instantly became popular and was emulated by millions elsewhere.

To wedge the point deeper, he even penned over two dozen Marathi couplets and poems, which he willingly crooned on Marathi TV channels -- intended to chase out the obviously deaf coronavirus!

"This lockdown will prove to be corona's "outdown soon" Athawale told IANS, spontaneously coining another gem from his pocket of wacky goodies.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the lockdown, he said the aid packages announced will go a long way in easing peoples' miseries during the mandatory stay-at-home period.

"Even Chief Minister Uddhavji Thackeray is doing a wonderful joba The 24x7 permission to all essential shops/outlets is a brilliant idea to combat public crowding. Even the suggestion of keeping off the air-conditioners at home or offices will help kill corona in the summer heat," hopes Athawale, heaping unexpected praises on his political rival.

Hopping down to his Bandra home-office for several hours twice a day, Athawale said he is barged with messages/calls for help from people stranded in different parts of Maharashtra, India and even abroad.

"Many others say they don't have ration cards and hence cannot take advantage of the government's latest schemes. I am going to request Modiji to consider their plight on humanitarian grounds in view of the extraordinary situation confronting the nation," Athawale assured.

An optimist at heart, Athawale said though the economy may be dented for a few years by the corona lockdown, the country will "emerge stronger" and bounce back as a world power very soon with the support of people under Modiji's dynamic leadership.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

--IANS
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01:21 PM
 Philippines accuses Communist rebels of violating ceasefire

Philippines accuses Communist rebels of violating ceasefire

Manila, March 29 (IANS) The Philippines government on Sunday accused the Communist rebels of the New People's Army (NPA) of violating a ceasefire announced by their leader last week following the UN's call for a global halt to armed clashes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo condemned the NPA's "attack on our soldiers while the latter were doing community work in Barangay Puray" in Rizal province, Luzon Island, following the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by both sides, reports Efe news.

"This armed attack by the NPA against our soldiers exposes the insincerity of the former in declaring a ceasefire," Panelo said in the statement.

One soldier was killed in the attack while two others were wounded, he added.

On March 24, Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the banned Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, announced that he had recommended a unilateral ceasefire to the guerrillas after the UN's call for a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 18, Duterte had declared a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA to allow the military to focus on the ongoing outbreak of the new coronavirus, but Sison rejected it the following day, saying it was intended "to intimidate the people, suppress democratic rights, commit human rights violations".

On Sunday, the 51st anniversary of the guerrilla's founding, the Communist Party announced that the NPA was mobilizing its forces, especially its medical units, for a health campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Philippines has 1,075 confirmed coronavirus cases with 68 deaths.

--IANS
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01:10 PM
 Stay home like the Pujara family, says BCCI

Stay home like the Pujara family, says BCCI

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday posted images of batsman Cheteshwar Pujara with his family at his home.

"Stay home with your near and dear ones like the Pujara Family," said the caption of the post.

Pujara had earlier spoken about life in quarantine. "It's a welcome change for me," Pujara told Sportstar. "I like spending time with myself, reading a book or watching TV is something I would do when I'm alone.

"That said, I've a young daughter who is so energetic and wants to play all the time, so half my day goes into taking care of her. I'm also helping my wife Puja with the daily chores."

Pujara last played for India during their tour of New Zealand and was part of the Saurashtra team that won a historic Ranji Trophy title this season. With no Test series scheduled for India for the foreseeable future and having gone unsold in the Indian Premier League auction, Pujara had signed for County side Gloucestershire to play six matches.

The global cricketing calendar has however come to a standstill due to the crisis caused by coronavirus.

--IANS
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01:47 PM

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