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India names Bangladesh’s Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for Gandhi Peace Prize

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 22:

India on Monday named Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, revered in Bangladesh as father of the nation, and Oman’s long-time ruler Sultan Qaboos for the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is Sheikh Mujib’s daughter.

This is the first time that the prestigious prize for 2019 and 2020 has been awarded posthumously. The award carries an amount of INR10 million, a citation, a plaque and an exquisite traditional handloom item.

Modi, who heads the jury for the Gandhi Peace Prize, called Bangabandhu a champion of human rights and freedom, and is a hero to Indians as well.

An official statement said the prestigious award “recognizes the immense and unparalleled contribution of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in inspiring the liberation of Bangladesh, bringing stability to a nation born out of strife, laying the foundation for the close and fraternal relations between India and Bangladesh, and promoting peace and non-violence in the Indian subcontinent”.

The decision to confer the award for 2020 on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, his first foreign trip since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Modi will attend the national day programme of Bangladesh on March 26 as the guest of honour and participate in the commemoration of what New Delhi has described as “three epochal events” – Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours, and 50 years of Bangladesh’s war of liberation.

Modi’s itinerary in Bangladesh includes visits to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s memorial in Tungipara, about 400 km from Dhaka, the capital. Tungipara is Mujibur Rahman’s birthplace. It is also also where the architect of the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence lies buried inside a tomb called the ‘Bangabandhu mausoleum’.

Modi will also pay respect to Harichand Thakur, the founder of Matua Mahasangha, a religious reformation movement, at his shrine in Orakandi. On March 27, Modi will visit the famous Jeshoreshwari Kali temple in Satkhira.

A large number of people from the Matua community migrated from Bangladesh to parts of neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal and Assam over the last five decades to escape religious persecution.

In West Bengal, they are mostly concentrated in Nadia, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata and Hooghly, districts that together have 16 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman was the Middle East’s longest-ruling monarch, and known internationally for his diplomatic balancing in the volatile Persian Gulf. He often served as a facilitator of talks between adversaries, Iran and the U.S. He was a key to meeting India’s energy security needs in the Persian Gulf.



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Govt. urged to increase nursing cadre to tackle national health crisis

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Coordinator, Training (Nursing) Pushpa Ramyani de Soysa says that against the backdrop of alarming increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases, the government needs to act swiftly and decisively to strengthen the nursing staff or face the consequences.

The top nurse insists a moment cannot be wasted as the ongoing epidemic threatens to overwhelm the entire country. The nurses’ spokesperson attached to the Accident Ward of the National Hospital, Colombo, delivered the dire warning in a live interview with Dasun Wasantha on the state-run ITN yesterday (14)

The outspoken official said that at the time Covid-19 erupted in 2020, the nursing staff consisted of approximately 38,000 representing all grades. At that time, the country experienced a staggering 50 per cent dearth of trained nursing staff, de Soysa said, urging those responsible as well as the public of the urgent need to strengthen the nursing staff.

She explained how the nursing staff worked under unbearable pressure as the entire medical staff backed by the military and the police struggled to cope up with the relentless Covid-19 onslaught.

Responding to the interviewer on live ‘Hathweni Paya’ , de Soysa said that as an immediate interim measure, those who had retired in the past few years could be brought back to lessen the pressure on the staff. When The Island sought further clarification from the National

Coordinator, the nursing veteran emphasized the Covid-19 challenge had to be tackled, in addition to the regular workload. A further deterioration of the situation could cause a catastrophe, she told The Island.

The National Coordinator told the ITN as nurses couldn’t be trained overnight the way required beds and other equipment could be supplied to hospitals, hence the urgent need to bring back the retired without further delay. She repeatedly stressed the responsibility on the part of the administration whoever in power to increase the nursing staff to meet the country’s growing requirement. Acknowledging the services rendered by the health services at an extremely difficult period, nurse de Soysa underscored the critical role played by the nursing staff in the overall effort against the epidemic.

Soysa highlighted what she called a coordinating role played by the nursing staff in the treatment of persons afflicted by Covid-19 or some other illness. In the absence of sufficient number of nurses, personnel had been re-allocated, de Soysa said, pointing out that due to Covid-19 explosion patients were being accommodated at hospitals.

Commenting on challenges faced by the nursing profession, de Soysa recalled the sacrifices made during the 30-year-war that was brought to a successful conclusion in May 2009. “Regardless of d immense difficulties, the nursing staff fulfilled their responsibilities during the conflict. We’ll do the same now,” de Soysa said, pointing out as many as 270 nurses had been tested Covid-19 positive, in addition to thousands quarantined.

The National Coordinator complained about the dearth of some critically important data relevant to the Covid-19 situation needed for evaluation purposes. Timely decisions couldn’t be taken for want of updated data at global and local level, she said.

She also discussed difficulties caused by some of those seeking treatment at hospitals not being aware of their condition, hence the need to be vigilant. However, sometimes, nursing staff served without taking into consideration the grave risks them faced. A grave looking de Soysa told the ITN interviewer they couldn’t follow health guidelines. “We cannot keep one meter distance in hospitals,” de Soysa said.

Nurse de Soysa said that she received both doses of covishields vaccine as key part of overall measures in place for the protection of the medical staff.

Without referring to any political party, de Soysa explained how the political administration over the years treated the nursing staff as slaves. Government treated nursing staff as dirt, de Soysa said, recalling with gratitude how Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda thera spearheaded a campaign that paved the way for significant improvement in the nursing service. The National Coordinator said that before the Ven. Thera’s intervention, they were assigned intolerable tasks regardless of their complains.

Responding to another ITN query, de Soysa said that successive governments hadn’t responded to their call for enhancement of the nursing service with the introduction of a system to produce qualified nurses who specializes in selected fields. Although action had been taken , the entire process was proceeding at snail pace, she alleged.

The National Instructor made reference to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s 2019 presidential election manifesto that also dealt with the issue at hand. The top nurse didn’t mince her words when she pointed out that the required improvements weren’t introduced as expected, hence the need to move now.

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Coronavirus spreading fast in North

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

COVID-19 is spreading across a number of areas in the Northern province at a rapid pace, according to THE provincial health officials.

Five members of the same family in Kattakadu, Kilinochchi have contracted COVID-19 and been sent to Krishnapuram Treatment centre.

One family member is a university student, who stayed in Colombo. He returned home recently and several family members started developing Covid-19 symptoms a few days later. Health officials conducted PCR tests and found that all five family members had contracted the virus. Six other neighbouring families have been placed under quarantine.

Meanwhile, 43-year-old man was arrested by Kilinochchi Police for hoarding alcohol to be sold, at a higher price, during the current lockdown. The suspect is a resident of Kalmadukulam, Dharmapuram. He is to be produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate’s Court.

However, most towns in the North had been deserted yesterday due to the lockdown.

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Navy nets 30 illegal migrants

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More than 30 persons were apprehended by the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard in Samindugama on Thursday and Friday while they were preparing to migrate to a foreign country by boat illegally.

The owner of the house where the suspects had stayed was also arrested, together with15 others involved in human smuggling.

The suspects, residents of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Puttalam areas, were handed over to the Chilaw Police.

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