39-yr-old NRI from Kerala wins Rs 4 crore from Mahzooz draw in Dubai

News Network
March 31, 2021

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Dubai, Mar 31: An India expatriate from Kerala living in Oman is now Dh2million (around Rs 4 crore) richer after becoming the solo winner of the second-tier prize in the latest ‘Mahzooz’ draw in Dubai.

Antony, 39, who is originally from Cochin, matched five out of six winning numbers (9-10-16-17-34-36) last Saturday, making him Mahzooz’s fourth millionaire this year. The prize was rolled over to Dh2M after no one won the second prize during the March 20 draw. The first prize of Dh50M is also yet to be won.

Antony, who works as lab technician and a resident of Oman for 16 years, said: “It was incredible winning a big amount of money. When I got the email, I just couldn’t believe it. I never thought that I would get this kind of money in my lifetime.”

Now that luck has shone on him, Antony said he will pay it forward. He said: “I am a good man and I plan to do good with this money, both for my family and for my community. I have some bank loans I want to close but after that, I want to give money to people back in India.”

“I feel blessed and am very grateful to Mahzooz,” said Antony, adding: “From the very first time I read about Mahzooz in the newspaper, I was interested. I have gotten three numbers before and won Dh35 a few times but never thought something this big would come my way. Everyone has been coming up to me and asking about Mahzooz so I’ve been helping them register and showing them how to participate.”

The next Mahzooz draw is scheduled on Saturday (April 3) at 9pm (UAE time). Entry price is Dh35. Entrants can participate by registering at Mahzooz website.

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Agencies
April 29,2021

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Apr 29: Facebook Inc. blocked posts tagged #ResignModi before restoring them hours later, stoking a controversy that’s erupted over government requests to remove social media content as India grapples with an escalating Covid crisis.

Facebook said it barred the hashtag by mistake and not at the behest of the government, without elaborating. Facebook periodically blocks hashtags for a variety of reasons, some manually but many also based on automated internal guidelines. The error stemmed from content associated with the label and not the hashtag itself, the spokesperson added.

The hours-long block, which came ahead of the final phase of lawmaker elections in a key state and effectively wiped posts calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resign, follows public outrage and official efforts to curb content critical of the way his government has handled the pandemic. This year, the country established new rules that require the likes of Facebook and Twitter Inc. to take down unlawful content quicker, triggering a debate over freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.

“We temporarily blocked this hashtag by mistake, not because the Indian government asked us to, and have since restored it,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.

A fresh wave of the coronavirus has roiled India in recent weeks, leaving hospital beds, medicines and oxygen in short supply. Crematoriums are overrun, and India has reported several days of more than 300,000 new daily infections. Many have taken to social media to seek help for their predicament, inundating services like WhatsApp and Instagram with pleas for everything from hospital beds to medicines, CT scans, doorstep Covid tests, and even food for the elderly in quarantine.

It’s also stirred public anger over the handling of the crisis. India’s government in response has ordered US social media companies to block posts, saying Covid-related misinformation risked spurring a panic and disrupting efforts to bring the pandemic under control.

Twitter Inc. has removed or restricted access to Covid-related posts over the past month. Earlier this year, the social media giant had to permanently suspend more than 500 accounts and block access to hundreds of others in India, acceding to a government order to restrain the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content related to farmers’ protests. The company has said it reviews all valid legal requests it receives under the company’s guidelines and local rules.

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News Network
April 30,2021

New Delhi, Apr 30: The suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger flights to or from India has been extended till May 31. The international scheduled flights under select routes, however, will remain operational on a "case-to-case" basis, the director-general of civil aviation (DGCA) said on Friday.

"In partial modification of circular date 26-6-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to or from India till 2359 hrs IST of 31st May 2021. The restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA," the DGCA circular stated.

Many countries including the US, UK, Kuwait, France and Canada have banned flights from India, citing COVID-19 cases and the "double mutant" virus being found in the country. Iran, Kuwait, Indonesia and UAE are the latest additions to this list of countries that have banned India from their citizens' travel lists.

Australia this week suspended all direct passenger flights from India for the next three weeks due to the unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The suspension of international commercial flights comes as India continues to face the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. India recorded 3,86,452 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 3,498 deaths, the health ministry data showed. A record 2,97,540 passengers were also discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, the health ministry data shows.

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News Network
May 3,2021

May 3: Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla has said that India’s Covid-19 vaccine shortage would continue through July, reported The Financial Times. Poonawalla said that the production of the vaccines is expected to increase from 60-70 million doses (6-7 crore) to 100 million (10 crore) by then.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that his company has been maligned by politicians and critics over shortages in vaccines. He said that the government, not the Serum Institute, was responsible for policy decisions.

While the Centre launched the third phase of the immunisation drive, covering citizens above 18 years, several states have expressed their inability to conduct the inoculation programme as they do not have sufficient vaccines. Many states are awaiting more stock from drug companies.

Currently, India is reeling under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s infrastructure is under severe strain as cases are surging at an alarming rate. India has registered more than 3 lakh cases for over 10 consecutive days, once even crossing the 4-lakh mark.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that the authorities did not expect that it will have to face a second wave of the pandemic when new coronavirus cases had declined. “Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic,” he said.

The Serum Institute, which is the local maker of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s vaccine, also faced criticism for charging state governments and hospitals a higher rate for the vaccine doses than it offered to the Centre. While the company was selling the jabs to the central government at Rs 150 per dose, it was charging states Rs 300 and private hospitals, Poonawalla had brought down the rates from Rs 400 for states and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals after the criticism, calling it a “philanthropic gesture”.

“I’ve been victimised very unfairly and wrongly,” he claimed. Poonawalla further said that he did not boost the vaccine production capacity because “there were no orders” and the company did not think it needed to produce more than 1 billion, or 100 crore, doses in a year.

Experts believe that India should have invested in boosting manufacturing capacity earlier and secured enough vaccine shots. “It is absolutely essential that you need to have something to deliver, it’s common sense,” Chandrakant Lahariya, a New Delhi-based public health expert, told The Financial Times. She added that the government has not been transparent on its vaccine policy.

In April, the Centre had given a loan to the Serum Institute to help it convert a production line to make more vaccines. “We have just done this right now to address the ridiculous shortage that the nation, and obviously now the world even, has,” said Poonawalla.

Last week, Poonwalla had said that he has left the country for London because of threats related to the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. Later, the Serum Institute chief said he would be returning to India. However, he told The Financial Times that he was not in London over safety concerns but for normal business.

Meanwhile, India on Monday registered 3,68,147 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 19,925,604 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the second consecutive day when the daily infection count dropped after crossing the 4-lakh mark. The toll climbed by 3,417 to 2,18,959. There are 34,13,642 active cases and as many as 1,62,93,003 patients have recovered from the infection.

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