Mariamma Varkey, founder of Dubai's first private school, passes away at 90

News Network
March 31, 2021

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Dubai, Mar 31: One of the pioneer private sector educators of the UAE, Mariamma Varkey, passed away at her son's Dubai residence on Wednesday morning. She was 90.

The matriarch of the Varkey family, along with her late husband KS Varkey, founded Dubai's first private school, Our Own English High School, in 1968.

She was bed-ridden for several years.

She is survived by her son Sunny Varkey, Chairman of the GEMS group — the world's largest school operator — and daughter Susan Mathews.

The Dubai Mar Thoma Parish has offered "heartfelt condolences" to the bereaved family members. Mariamma Varkey was one of "our senior most members", the parish said.

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News Network
April 29,2021

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Rang De Basanti actor, Siddharth, on Thurday tweeted that his phone number was leaked by members of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. 

The actor on Twitter said that his family and he were being harassed by calls from unknown numbers, raining threats of murder and rape, in addition to hurling abuses at him. 

He said he has recorded the numbers and relevant information, and will be handing them over to the police.

"My phone number was leaked by members of TN BJP and @BJPtnITcell. Over 500 calls of abuse, rape and death threats to me & family for over 24 hrs. All numbers recorded (with BJP links and DPs) and handing over to Police. I will not shut up. Keep trying. @narendramodi @AmitShah", read his Tweet.

Siddharth is known for being vocal in his criticisms towards the ruling Narendra Modi government.
He also tweeted information on oxygen concentrators on Thursday. 

"As our country is being choked by Covid, let’s rise to support the affected. Let’s give them a chance to fight Covid and another chance to live their dreams! DONATE to BHOOMIKA and help us reach oxygen concentrators to people who are struggling to breathe", the tweet said.

India is stuggling with an alarming new wave of Covid-19 cases that has created a shortage of medical oxygen and other essential resources. 

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News Network
May 4,2021

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May 4: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife and fellow philanthropist Melinda announced on Monday they are divorcing after a 27-year marriage.

One of the world's wealthiest couples -- with a joint fortune estimated at $130 billion -- the Gates have channelled billions into charitable work around the globe via their hugely influential foundation.

In announcing their split on Twitter, the couple said they would continue their joint work on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds programs in global health, gender equality, education and other causes.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," they said in a joint statement, posted on each of their official accounts.

"Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," they wrote.

"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."

The statement offered no additional details on the split but said: "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

The announcement comes two years after the divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, another of the world's wealthiest people, and his wife MacKenzie.

Bill Gates, 65, was a geeky teenager when he started what would become the world's most valuable company, and was for a time the world's richest man and most prominent philanthropist.

He stepped down as Microsoft chief executive in 2008 to devote more time to philanthropy and later left the board, keeping only the title of "founder and technology advisor."

Melinda Gates, 56, met Bill at Microsoft in 1987, shortly after she joined the tech firm, and the pair married in 1994.

Their foundation is among the world's richest, having provided more than $54 billion in grants over two decades in areas including malaria and infectious disease control, agricultural research, basic health care and sanitation, in various parts of the world. It has an endowment of more than $46 billion.

In recent years, Bill Gates has largely distanced himself from Microsoft and the tech industry, instead speaking about poverty and health initiatives, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year the foundation pledged some $250 million to help fight the pandemic, with some of the funds channeled to the distribution of life-saving doses of Covid-19 vaccines to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Gates, who had been warning as early as 2015 about the potential dangers of a global pandemic, became the target of conspiracy theorists who claimed he knew in advance about Covid-19.

The split comes following the high-profile divorce of Bezos, whose ex-wife took the name MacKenzie Scott and promptly began giving away billions to various causes without setting up a conventional foundation.

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News Network
April 29,2021

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Some of India’s richest people are forming bubbles with their families and staff, while others are leaving for homes outside of major cities as a virus resurgence overwhelms the country’s medical system and spurs other nations to shut out Indian travellers.

“I’ve been indoors with my family and our staff, that’s my story,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the billionaire-cofounders of IT giant Infosys Ltd. who now runs a Bengaluru-based venture to support startups. The group are shunning outside contact and only eating home-cooked meals, he said.

Another Infosys co-founder, Nandan Nilekani said in a text message that he was also holed up in his home in the Indian tech capital, as a second, more lethal wave of coronavirus cases sweeps the nation of 1.3 billion people. The return of the virus spurred many wealthy families to flee India, some on private jets, before countries from Australia to the UK started to ban flights from what is now the coronavirus epicentre of the world. Others are hunkering down, running vast empires from their homes and helping provide essential aid like oxygen supplies and protective equipment.

Byju Raveendran, the billionaire founder of India’s most valuable startup, online-education provider Byju’s, is confined with his extended family in a series of houses in Bangalore’s HSR Layout neighborhood -- popularly referred to as Unicorn Row given it’s home to a bevy of startups valued at more than $1 billion.

The family’s personal staff are also sequestered with them, Raveendran said. “The support systems are strong and outside contact has been minimal.”

Ambani, Adani

India’s two richest people have moved to homes in less-populated parts of the country, as the virus hits the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai particularly hard.

Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest man, has shifted from Mumbai with his family to Jamnagar -- a township in the state of Gujarat that’s home to Reliance Industries Ltd.’s massive twin oil refinery complex -- according to people familiar with their movements who didn’t want to be named discussing private matters.

Billionaire Gautam Adani, the second-richest person in India, is with his son Karan Adani and other close family members at their home on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a person familiar said.

Representatives for the Reliance and Adani groups declined to comment.

India is reporting record numbers of new cases every day, pushing medical facilities and crematoriums to the breaking point. People have been pleading on social media for everything from oxygen cylinders to food for the elderly in quarantine, and while parts of the country have gone back into lockdown, there are concerns another nationwide order could be disastrous for the poor and the wider economy.

Diverting Oxygen

International companies are joining local firms and tycoons in providing aid to India.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries is diverting oxygen for medical use from its oil refining complex, while the Reliance Foundation, the group’s philanthropic arm, is also setting up a 1,000-bed Covid-19 care facility there that will provide free treatment to patients. A local media report said Ambani has flown to Jamnagar to speed up relief efforts.

The Adani Group, which operates India’s largest port terminal, has been securing oxygen supplies from Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Dubai, according to a statement Tuesday.

CEO Fund

Startup titan Raveendran has been finding ways to help Byju’s 11,000 workers, many of whom he says are “struggling.” A CEO Fund has been established to meet the hospital expenses of staff and Raveendran says he has been coordinating efforts to corral beds, oxygen concentrators and medicines.

Billionaire Sunil Vachani, founder and chairman of smartphone maker Dixon Technologies India Ltd., is sheltering in his Delhi home with family. They’re following a “no outside contact” protocol, while communicating with colleagues virtually, he said.

Vachani is also is also overseeing a command center set up by Dixon to link up employees with doctors and source medication. Dixon set up a factory line to manufacture RT-PCR machines last year to bolster India’s Covid testing efforts and is now looking to scale that up, plus import oxygen concentrators that will land in a few days.

“When people phone you from ambulances outside hospital gates, it’s distressing and you do your best to help,” Gopalakrishnan said by phone on Tuesday. “At the back of your mind, there’s also guilt whether you’re taking away the hospital bed from someone who needs it more.” 

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