R Vatsa

US president Joe Biden calls to end domestic ‘terrorism’, Change in ‘Law’

Washington [US]: United States President Joe Biden revealed condolences to the households of 10 people that were eliminated in a shooting event at a grocery store in the American city of Buffalo as well as asked for “every initiative to finish domestic terrorism”.

In a White House statement, Biden said: “We grieve for the family members of 10 individuals whose lives were senselessly taken as well as everyone that is enduring the physical and also psychological wounds of this terrible shooting. We are grateful for the valor of members of law enforcement as well as various other initial -responders who took instant activity to attempt to safeguard as well as save lives. The First Lady and also I are praying for the victims and also their family members, and hearts all throughout this nation are with the people of Buffalo.”

A man is detained following a mass shooting in the parking lot of TOPS supermarket, in a still image from a social media video in Buffalo, New York, U.S.

” Any act of residential terrorism, including an act committed in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideological background, is antithetical to whatever we mean in America. Dislike should have no risk-free harbour. We need to do every little thing in our power to end hate-fueled residential terrorism,” he said further.

The mass-shooting is an increasingly alarming issue in the USA. Many people have lost lives in recent years.

Police has a tough challege while controlling frequent shoot outs at crowded localities.

An 18-year-old putting on armed forces gear as well as livestreaming with a helmet video camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, eliminating 10 individuals and injured many others on Saturday (local time), ABC news reported pointing out authorities.
On April 11, Biden introduced further actions to attend to weapon physical violence, including stopping the proliferation of ghost weapons and also a detailed record on weapon trafficking, as per records.

Sarthak Chavan first Indian to secure podium finish at Thailand Talent Cup

Buriram (Thailand)-  Exhibiting true racing passion and making India proud on international soil, Honda Racing India rider Sarthak Chavan has set a new record by securing a podium finish at Thailand Talent Cup 2022 round two. It is for the first time ever in the history of Honda Racing India that an Indian rider has achieved this triumph.

Showcasing his riding skills at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram (Thailand) last weekend, the 15-year-old from Pune meticulously manoeuvred his way in race two of the round to reach at top five after his 12th position start on the grid. Giving a tough fight to the competition even under wet conditions, Sarthak boldly took on the finest of Asian riders, finishing the race at third place with just 0.583 seconds behind the race leader, according to a release.

 

Sarthak is the first Indian to achieve this feat

Sarthak’s teammate Kavin Quintal (16-year-old) too showed the might of confident young Indian rider in the race. Starting 15th on the grid of 16 riders, the Chennai boy made a good start and overtook five riders in lap one itself. From there till the end of race two, Kavin persevered through the stiff competition and closed at ninth position with total time of 29:50.642.

Sharing an overview on performance by Indian riders in round two, Prabhu Nagaraj, Operating Officer -Brand & Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India said, “We are extremely happy with the results of our riders in Round two.”

The Honda Racing India team entered the second round of Thailand Talent Cup 2022 with a total of 13 points. After securing 12th and 15th place on the grid in the qualifying race of round two, Sarthak Chavan and Kavin Quintal showed aggression in race one and climbed up to finish at 9th and 13th position respectively. With this, Sarthak added six points and Kavin four points to his kitty.

Continuing to display the power of young India, the duo of Indian riders finished the race two in Top 10 (Sarthak at third and Kavin at ninth), thus adding 32 points for the team. With the end of round two of Thailand Talent Cup 2022, Sarthak Chavan now holds total of 35 points while his teammate Kavin Quintal has 10 points in his kitty.

“I am very happy with my performance in this round as I was able to give my maximum on the track. With learnings from the last round and training with my mentors, I achieved third place on the podium. This win has boosted my confidence and I will continue to fight hard to bring more laurels for the country,” said Chavan.

“This round was all about learnings for me. The competition is very tough here. Personally, I am humbled with my performance in this round as I was able to earn points for the team. My aim is to improve my race craft and further better my results in upcoming rounds,” said Quintal. (ANI)

 

Champions League to expand by 4 teams to 36, confirms UEFA

Vienna [Austria]: The UEFA Executive Committee on Tuesday in Vienna approved the final format and access list for European club competitions as of the 2024/25 season further to its decision of April 19, 2021, to introduce the so-called “Swiss system”.

The key amendments relate to the reduction from 10 matches to 8 in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League and the change of criteria for the allocation of two of the four additional places in the UEFA Champions League, removing access based on club coefficient.
The eight matches of the UEFA Champions League will be played over the ten European weeks foreseen by the decision made in April 2021. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will all enjoy one week of calendar exclusivity.

The four additional places created by the increase from 32 to 36 teams in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League will be allocated as follows:

1. One place will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in the fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking.

2. One place will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path”.

3. The final two places will go to the associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season (total number of points obtained divided by the number of participating clubs). Those two associations will earn one place for the club best ranked in the domestic league behind the UEFA Champions League positions. For example, at the end of the current season the two associations adding one club to the Champions League, based on the collective performance of their clubs would be England and the Netherlands.

4. The UEFA Executive Committee once again confirmed that all games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.

Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league phase including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 8 league stage games against 8 different opponents (four home games, four away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home-and-away basis.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage) and both will also include 36 teams in the league phase. (ANI)

 

National Family Health Survey: Fertility rate declines from 2.2 to 2.0

New Delhi [India]:  The report of the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) revealed that the total fertility rate of India has declined from 2.2 to 2.0 indicating the significant progress of population control measures.

The NFHS-5 survey work was conducted in around 6.37 lakh sample households from 707 districts (as on March, 2017) of the country from 28 States and 8 UTs, covering 7,24,115 women and 1,01,839 men to provide disaggregated estimates up to district level. The Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially from 54 per cent to 67 per cent in the country.

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) which is measured as the average number of children per woman, has come down from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level between NFHS-4 and 5.
There are only five states in India, which are above the replacement level of fertility of 2.1. including Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), and Jharkhand (2.26) Manipur (2.17).

“Use of modern methods of contraceptives has also increased in almost all States/UTs. Unmet needs for family planning have witnessed a significant decline from 13 per cent to 9 per cent. The unmet need for spacing, which remained a major issue in India in the past has come down to less than 10 per cent,” said an official statement.

India’s major problem is its population.

The NHFS-5 also mentioned that institutional births have increased substantially from 79 per cent to 89 per cent in India. Even in rural areas around 87 per cent births are delivered in institutions and the same is 94 per cent in urban areas.

Institutional births increased by a maximum of 27 percentage points in Arunachal Pradesh, followed by over 10 percentage points in Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Over 91 per cent of districts have more than 70 per cent of births in the last 5 years that took place in health facilities.

As per the survey, the level of stunting among children under 5 years has marginally declined from 38 to 36 per cent for India in the last four years.

Stunting is higher among children in rural areas (37 per cent) than in urban areas (30 per cent) in 2019-21. Variation in stunting ranges from the lowest in Puducherry (20 per cent) and highest in Meghalaya (47 per cent).

A notable decrease in stunting was observed in Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim (7 percentage points each), Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh and Manipur (6 percentage points each), and Chandigarh and Bihar (5 percentage points each).

Compared with NFHS-4, the prevalence of overweight or obesity has increased in most States/UTs in NFHS-5. At the national level, it increases from 21 per cent to 24 per cent among women and 19 per cent to 23 per cent among men. More than a third of women in Kerala, A&N Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Manipur, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Punjab, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep (34-46 per cent) are overweight or obese.

In NFHS-5, more than three-fourths (77 per cent) of children aged 12-23 months were fully immunized, compared with 62 per cent in NFHS-4 as the full vaccination coverage among children ranges from 57 per cent in Nagaland to 95 per cent in DNH and DD. Odisha (91 per cent), Tamil Nadu (89 per cent), and West Bengal (88 per cent) also have shown relatively higher immunization coverage.

Interestingly, NFHS-5 data showed an overall improvement in SDG indicators in all States/UTs. The extent to which married women usually participate in three household decisions (about health care for themselves; making major household purchases; visiting their family or relatives) indicates that their participation in decision making is high, ranging from 80 per cent in Ladakh to 99 per cent in Nagaland and Mizoram. Rural (77 per cent) and urban (81 per cent) differences are found to be marginal.

The prevalence of women having bank or savings accounts that they use has increased from 53 to 79 per cent in the last 4 years.

NFHS-5 also mentions an increase in usage of clean cooking fuel (44 per cent to 59 per cent) and improved sanitation facilities (49 per cent to 70 per cent), including a hand-washing facility with soap and water (60 per cent to 78 per cent) have improved considerably.

There has been a substantial increase in the proportion of households using improved sanitation facilities, which could be attributed to the Swatch Bharat Mission programme. (ANI)

Use of loudspeakers in mosques not a fundamental right, says Allahabad HC

 

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) [India]- The Allahabad High Court on Friday ruled that delivering the azaan on loudspeakers is not a fundamental right.

The court made this remark while dismissing a petition filed by one Irfan of Budaun, who sought permission to play Azaan using loudspeakers in the Noori Masjid.
“The law has now been settled that use of loudspeaker from mosque is not a fundamental right. Ever otherwise a cogent reason has been assigned in the impugned order. Accordingly, we find that the present petition is patently misconceived, hence the same is dismissed,” said the court.

The court further said that although azaan is an integral part of Islam, it stated that delivering it through loudspeakers is not a part of the religion.

“Azaan is an integral part of Islam, but giving it through loudspeakers is not a part of Islam,” a bench headed by Justice BK Vidla and Justice Vikas said.

Ruling on the petition, a two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had noted that there have been previous instances where courts have ruled that the call for prayer on a loudspeaker is not a fundamental right.

Azaan is the Islamic call to prayers which is given five times at prescribed times of the day. A muezzin is a person who proclaims the call to the daily prayer five times a day at a mosque. (ANI)

 

Congress Committee to meet on May 9 to discuss agenda of Nav Sankalp Shivir

New Delhi [India]- A meeting of the Congress Working Committee will be held on May 9 ahead of the party’s ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur.

The meeting would deliberate on the agenda for the Chintan Shivir. “A meeting of the Congress Working Committee will be held on Monday, the 9th May 2022 at 04.30 PM at AICC Office, 24 Akbar Road, New Delhi, to discuss about the “Nav Sankalp Shivir – 2022″ to be held from 13th to 15th May, 2022 at Udaipur, Rajasthan,” party general secretary KC Venugopal said in a tweet.
The Chintan Shivir is being held in the backdrop of the party’s drubbing in the elections to five state assemblies earlier this year. The party has witnessed several electoral losses in the elections held in the past eight years. Congress has also seen the exit of some of its prominent faces.

Following a presentation and discussions with poll strategist Prashant Kishor, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had constituted an Empowered Action Group 2024 last month and invited him to join the party as part of the group with defined responsibility.

He had declined the “generous offer” and said that “more than me the party needs leadership and collective will to fix the deep-rooted structural problems through transformational reforms”.

The Congress will also be going for organisational polls this year to elect a new party chief.

(ANI)

Tokyo Olympian Kamalpreet Kaur suspended after testing positive for banned drug

New Delhi [India]- Star Indian discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, who represented the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) after she tested positive for a banned drug.

A provisional suspension is when an athlete or other person is suspended temporarily from participating in any competition or activity in athletics prior to a final decision at a hearing conducted under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules or the Integrity Code of Conduct.
The AIU which is the independent body created by World Athletics said that Kamalpreet Kaur, 26, had tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid prohibited by the athletics governing body.

Kamalpreet’s provisional ban, as per the AIU website, came into effect on March 29.

Last year, Kamalpreet became the first Indian to breach the 65m-mark in the discus throw. She has a national record against her name which she created with a throw of 66.59m at the Indian Grand Prix.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Kamalpreet Kaur finished a commendable sixth in the women’s discus throw final with a best attempt of 63.70m. (ANI)

 

Mamata Banerjee claims BJP will not return to power in 2024, no CAA will be implemented

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]- Reacting to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s remark about implementing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday claimed that the BJP will not return to power in 2024 and no CAA will be implemented.

The Chief Minister’s remark came soon after Union Home Minister Amit Shah slammed the Trinamool Congress for spreading rumours about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and said that the Central government will implement it once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
The Chief Minister also alleged that Amit Shah visited the state to help Border Security Force (BSF) infiltrate into politics.

While addressing the media persons, West Bengal CM said she respects BSF but BSF should not fall under Amit Shah’s trap.

“The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is BJP’s linkman. They believe in doing ‘tukda’. But they want to divorce Hindus and Muslims, they want to divide communities. Being the Home Minister of the country he has only misused the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He is bringing the Delhi danga to Bengal,” said Banerjee.

The Chief Minister said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act Bill has lapsed.

“They are talking about CAA. Then those who elected the PM and CMs were not citizens of this country? The CAA Bill has lapsed. Why are they not bringing this bill to Parliament? I don’t want the rights of citizens to be curbed. We all have to stay together, unity is our strength,” he added.

She further warned the Home Minister to stick to his job and not to interfere in BSF’s job.

“Amit Shah, I have respect for you as the Union Home Minister. But do not teach me what to do. Do not ask BSF to overrule the state. Your job is to guard borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Their job is to stop cattle smuggling and infiltration. Do not play with fire,” said Banerjee.

Further replying to the media’s question on CAA, Banerjee exuded confidence that the BJP will not return to power in 2024 and CAA won’t be implemented.

“I am saying they will not come to power in 2024. No National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) and CAA will happen. He should hide. He came here after one year. He came here to infiltrate BSF into politics,” she said.

“BJP only gives dialogues. They operate from Home Minister with ED, and CBI and trying to torch Bengal. They only want to do Durga Puja. If we don’t allow Durga Puja then how did UNESCO give the heritage tag to Durga Puja in West Bengal,” Mamata countered Amit Shah’s charge of the TMC government not allowing Durga Puja.

The Chief Minister said that in Bengal the law and order situation is good.

“In Bengal, the law and order situation is good, look at the state like UP. Is it not the work of the Union Home Minister to look after law and order there,” asked Banerjee.

She further warned the central government, “Don’t do things to bulldoze the democratic structure of the country and don’t play with fire, the people will retaliate by giving a befitting reply.”

“Don’t think the game is lost. I think good sense will prevail and they will come together. We have to fight the battle strongly and boldly, ” said West Bengal on being asked about Opposition unity.

The Home Minister (Amit Shah) should see what happened in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, Uttar Pradesh and in Madhya Pradesh, not worry about Bengal. BJP’s work is to create divisiveness. What has he done as HM? They did violence even on the day of Eid, she added.(ANI)

 

PM Modi holds talks with French President Macron, discusses defence cooperation

Paris [France]:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (local time) held talks with the newly re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, discussing a range of bilateral issues including defence, space, civil nuclear cooperation and people-to-people linkages, as well as regional and global issues.

The two leaders held talks at Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President of France, in Paris.
Addressing a press briefing, shortly before the departure of PM Modi back to India, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that the two leaders who are also good friends held “extensive discussions on a range of issues of bilateral, regional and global importance.”

“The two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on all the key areas of bilateral engagement, including in defence, space, civil nuclear cooperation and people-to-people linkages. They also discussed regional and global issues, including developments in Europe and the Indo-pacific,” the Foreign Secretary informed.

Kwatra also informed that this was the first visit of PM Modi to France since August 2019.

“The two leaders have stayed in regular touch through calls and letters. They also met on the sidelines of the G20 summits last year. India and France are strong strategic partners. The two leaders are also good friends,” Kwatra said.

Talking about the re-election of the French President, Kwatra said that the renewed mandate of President Macron will allow the two countries to build on the existing strength and success of the strategic partnership.

“President Macron’s renewed mandate and the conversations between Prime Minister Modi and the President today allow us to build on existing strength and success of India-France strategic partnership and also chart out the blueprint for its next phase,” Kwatra said.

The Foreign Secretary also emphasised that “India and France see each other as key partners in the Indo-pacific.”

On the sidelines, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also met his French counterpart, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during PM Modi’s visit.

Following the talks, the French President also hosted a dinner for the Indian Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in France on Wednesday on the final leg of his three-day Europe visit and was warmly welcomed by members of the Indian diaspora in Paris.

Members of the Indian community were present outside the hotel where PM Modi reached after his arrival in Paris. Children were present in sizeable numbers and many of them sought autographs from the Prime Minister. People reciprocated the greetings of the people.

PM Modi said in a tweet after his arrival in Paris that France was one of India’s strongest partners.

“Landed in Paris. France is one of India’s strongest partners, with our nations cooperating in diverse areas,” he said.

PM Modi reached Paris on the final day of his three-day Europe visit, after his engagements in Germany and Denmark. (ANI)

Putin to undergo cancer treatment, handover power to loyalist Nikolai Patrushev

Moscow [Russia]:  Russian President Vladimir Putin might undergo cancer surgery while temporarily handing over power to the secretary of the country’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, unverified media reports claimed.

Putin has reportedly been told by doctors that he must undergo an operation, the New York Post reported citing a Telegram channel purportedly run by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service lieutenant general.
The anticipated surgery and recovery are expected to incapacitate Putin for “a short time,” the report said.

Referring to Putin’s supposedly “sickly appearance and uncharacteristically fidgety behaviour in public” in recent times, the report said that the Russian President has been rumoured to suffer from cancer and a host of other serious maladies, including Parkinson’s disease.

However, a US official said that the media reports could not be verified with Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby saying on Monday that “I have seen nothing that could help us corroborate that,” New York Post reported.

A few days ago, Putin allegedly had a two-hour “heart-to-heart” conversation with Nikolai Patrushev, the report said citing a Telegram post.

“We know that Putin signalled to Patrushev that he considers him to be practically his only trusted ally and friend in the government,” the post claimed. “Additionally, the president promised that if his health takes a turn for the worse, actual control of the country will temporarily pass into Patrushev’s hands.”

“Patrushev is an outright villain. He is no better than Vladimir Putin. Moreover, he is a more cunning, and I would say, more insidious person than Vladimir Putin. If he comes to power, Russians’ problems will only multiply,” the owner of the Telegram channel which claimed about Putin’s cancer surgery said.

“Putin is unlikely to agree to hand over power for a longer period of time,” the Telegram channel further claimed, adding that the control of the country will likely be in Patrushev’s hands for no more than two to three days.

Russia’s Security Council, of which Patruchev is the secretary is an influential body that answers directly to Putin and issues guidance on military and security issues within Russia, the New York Post reported, adding, that, most of the council’s power is vested in Patrushev, who is widely seen as a staunch Putin ally.

Like Putin, Patrushev is a career Russian intelligence agent, first with the Soviet KGB, then later with the Russian FSB, the report said citing Moscow Times.

Last week, in a rare interview with state-run Russian paper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Patrushev accused America and Europe of backing neo-Nazi ideology in Ukraine and seeking to draw the conflict out “to the last Ukrainian,” the report said.

“Using their henchmen in Kyiv, the Americans, in an attempt to suppress Russia, decided to create an antipode of our country, cynically choosing Ukraine for this, trying to divide essentially a single people,” he reportedly said.

Questions over the Russian President’s health have been raised in recent weeks, especially after he was seen tightly gripping a desk during his meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last month. (ANI)

 

CIA appoints Indian-origin Nand Mulchandani as first-ever CTO

Washington [US]: Nand Mulchandani, an Indian-origin man with more than 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley as well as the Department of Defense (DoD), has been appointed by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as the first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

The CIA Director William J. Burns made the announcement of Mulchandani’s appointment on April 29. Glad about Mulchandani’s appointment to the top post, said the CIA Director Burns, adding “since my confirmation, I have prioritized focusing on technology and the new CTO position is a very important part of that effort”. I am delighted Nand has joined our team and will bring his extensive experience to this crucial new role, he added.
Mulchandani brings substantial private sector, startup, and government expertise to the Agency, the CIA said in a media statement.

Upon getting aboard as the new CTO of the CIA, Mulchandani said, “I am honoured to join CIA in this role and look forward to working with the Agency’s incredible team of technologists and domain experts who already deliver world-class intelligence and capabilities to help build a comprehensive technology strategy that delivers exciting capabilities working closely with industry and partners.”

In his new role, Mulchandani will ensure the Agency is leveraging cutting-edge innovations and scanning the horizon for tomorrow’s innovations to further the CIA’s mission.

Prior to joining the CIA, Mulchandani most recently served as the CTO and Acting Director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). He also co-founded and was CEO of several successful startups such as Oblix (acquired by Oracle), Determina (acquired by VMWare), OpenDNS (acquired by Cisco), and ScaleXtreme (acquired by Citrix).

Mulchandani holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Cornell University, a Master’s in Science and Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. (ANI)

 

Real Madrid crowned La Liga champions for record 35th time

Madrid [Spain]: Real Madrid took to the field against Espanyol knowing that all they needed was one point to secure their record-extending 35th La Liga title, but the Los Blancos went out guns blazing to take all three points.

Ancelotti’s men put on a stellar display to convincingly defeat the Catalan side courtesy of a first-half brace from Rodrygo and goals from Asensio and Benzema in the second half. The Madridistas sealed their 35th league title with four games left to play in the competition.
The hosts found a way through on the half-hour mark. Rodrygo played a neat one-two with Marcelo on the edge of the box before driving past two defenders and slotting the ball into the net with his right foot.

The Bernabeu was right behind their team, who made it 2-0 before the break. It was Rodrygo on target again in the 43rd minute, putting in a spectacular performance as he finished after Mariano had won the ball near the area.

The third goal arrived in the 56th minute. Camavinga won the ball back in his own half to set up a counter-attack, carrying the ball before releasing Asensio, who beat Diego Lopez with his right foot.

Ancelotti, who became the first coach to win the title in each of the five big leagues, brought on Benzema, Kroos and Isco in the 60th minute.

Benzema also got his goal as the French forward added to his spectacular scoring form in the 81st minute, with Vini Jr providing the assist. (ANI)

 

Real Madrid crowned La Liga champions for record 35th time

Madrid [Spain], May 1 (ANI): Real Madrid took to the field against Espanyol knowing that all they needed was one point to secure their record-extending 35th La Liga title, but the Los Blancos went out guns blazing to take all three points.

Ancelotti’s men put on a stellar display to convincingly defeat the Catalan side courtesy of a first-half brace from Rodrygo and goals from Asensio and Benzema in the second half. The Madridistas sealed their 35th league title with four games left to play in the competition.
The hosts found a way through on the half-hour mark. Rodrygo played a neat one-two with Marcelo on the edge of the box before driving past two defenders and slotting the ball into the net with his right foot.

The Bernabeu was right behind their team, who made it 2-0 before the break. It was Rodrygo on target again in the 43rd minute, putting in a spectacular performance as he finished after Mariano had won the ball near the area.

The third goal arrived in the 56th minute. Camavinga won the ball back in his own half to set up a counter-attack, carrying the ball before releasing Asensio, who beat Diego Lopez with his right foot.

Ancelotti, who became the first coach to win the title in each of the five big leagues, brought on Benzema, Kroos and Isco in the 60th minute.

Benzema also got his goal as the French forward added to his spectacular scoring form in the 81st minute, with Vini Jr providing the assist. (ANI)

 

Odisha: 58-year-old BJD MLA appears for Class 10th exam!

Phulbani (Odisha) [India]: A 58-year-old MLA from Odisha’s Phulbani who left education in the year 1978 due to family reasons is proving the old saying ‘age is no bar for learning’ by appearing for Class 10th examination this year.

Angada Kanhar, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA from Phulbani, on Friday appeared for the first paper in the ongoing Matric examination being conducted by the Board of Secondary Education (BSE).
Kanhar was seen along with his two friends appearing for the English paper at Rujangi High School.

Before entering the examination hall, Kanhar said, “I was in my class 10 in 1978, but was unable to appear for exams due to some family issues. Recently, I was told that many people at the age of 50 or more are appearing for exams. So, I too decided to appear for the board exams. There is no age barrier to appear for exams or to get educated.”

Kanhar is not the sole politician, who is appearing for the examination. He is being joined by one of his friends who is a Sarpanch.

“We are conducting board Exams at our centre which is open school exams. This is a special exam conducted for those who had to leave their studies midway for some reason. As many as 63 students have appeared for SIOS exam at our centre including Phulbani MLA Angad Kanhar and one of his friend who is a Sarpanch. This examination will get over by May 10,” said Archana Bas, Headmistress, Rujangi High School.

A total of 5.8 lakh students are appearing for the Class 10 state board examination in Odisha that commenced on Friday. (ANI)

US abandoned over USD 7 bn military equipment in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: American troops left behind USD 7.12 billion worth of military hardware in Afghanistan after they pulled out from the war-ravaged country, in August last year, the US Department of Defense said.

The US provided a sum of USD 18.6 billion in military hardware to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) for 16 years. Out of them, equipment worth USD 7.12 billion consisting of air-to-ground munitions, aircraft, military vehicles, weapons, and other military gear remained in Afghanistan, after the US’s withdrawal from the country, the CNN reported citing the DoD.
Putting an end to the tedious evacuation process, the US military had has confirmed that they will not return to the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan either to destroy or to retrieve the equipment.

The hefty amount of equipment left behind in Afghanistan will serve to refocus attention on the chaotic departure of the US from the war-torn country which has been widely condemned by politicians of both parties. As per the report issued by the DoD, almost all of the equipment that remained in Afghanistan required special maintenance.

Rob Lodewick, army major of the US Defence Department assured, that all the equipment left in the Afghan territory belonged to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). He added that the military supplies that the U.S. military used in the war were either destroyed or retrograded before the US departed from the Afghan lands. The amount of USD 7.12 billion was not a part of the figure, reported CNN.

Further, aircraft worth USD 923.3 million which was left behind in Afghanistan were demilitarized and rendered inoperable before the departure of the US. Apart from air-to-ground munitions, valued at USD 6.54 million, and about 40,000 military vehicles, other equipment which were left behind included night vision, surveillance, “biometric and positioning equipment” and explosive ordinance disposal and demining equipment.

Earlier, on August 31, the final few US military planes left Afghanistan after they concluded their chaotic mission of evacuating American citizens, helpless Afghan civilians, and third-country nationals from the unprovoked war and seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban. (ANI)

 

PM Modi, Ratan Tata inaugurate 7 ultra-modern cancer hospitals in Assam

Dibrugarh (Assam) [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with industrialist Ratan Tata on Thursday inaugurated seven state-of-the-art cancer hospitals and laid the foundation stone for seven new cancer hospitals.

“Today, 7 new cancer hospitals have been inaugurated in Assam. There was a time, even one hospital getting opened up in 7 years was a thing to celebrate. Times have changed now. I have been told 3 more cancer hospitals will be ready for your service in a few months,” PM Modi said.
Speaking at the event in Dibrugarh, the Prime Minister said that his government has also focussed on preventive healthcare with yoga, fitness and cleanliness.

“Hospitals are at your service but I will be happy if these new hospitals remain empty; I pray for your health… our govt has also focussed on preventive healthcare with yoga, fitness, ‘swachhata’. New testing centers are being opened up in the country,” he said.

Ratan Tata, who was also present at the event, said, “I dedicate my last years to health. Make Assam a state that recognizes and is recognized by all.”

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his gratitude to Ratan Tata and the Government of India for their contribution saying that the largest cancer care treatment will benefit Assam as well as South East Asia.

“Largest cancer care treatment to benefit Assam as well as South East Asia… This is a huge achievement for us. I am grateful to Ratan Tata, GoI for their contribution,” he said.

Assam Cancer Care Foundation, a joint venture of the Government of Assam and Tata Trusts, is executing a project to build South Asia’s largest affordable cancer care network with 17 Cancer care hospitals spread across the state.

Under Phase 1 of the project, out of 10 hospitals, the construction of seven hospitals have been completed while three hospitals are at various level of construction. Phase 2 of the project will witness the construction of seven new cancer hospitals.

The Prime Minister, today at Dibrugarh, dedicated to the nation, seven cancer hospitals completed under phase 1 of the project. These cancer hospitals are built at Dibrugarh, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Darrang, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, and Jorhat.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of seven new cancer hospitals at Dhubri, Nalbari, Goalpara, Nagaon, Sivasagar, Tinsukia and Golaghat to be constructed under phase 2 of the project. (ANI)

Biden congratulates France’s Macron on re-election

Washington [US]:  US President Joe Biden on Monday congratulated French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on his re-election and expressed readiness for further cooperation on areas including the Ukraine issue and climate change.

“Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his re-election. France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation — including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy, and countering climate change,” Biden tweeted.
Macron won in the second round of the presidential election with 58.55 per cent of the votes, while his rival, far-right presidential candidate, leader of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen got 41.45 per cent.

Congratulatory messages poured in from world leaders for Macron who won the French presidential election with 58.8 per cent of the votes on Sunday.

European Council President Charles Michel said, “We can count on France for five more years.”

Taking to Twitter, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shared a photo with Macron and said, “I am happy that we will continue our good cooperation.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called France “one of our closest and most important allies”.

“Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron on your re-election as President of France. France is one of our closest and most important allies. I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world,” Johnson tweeted.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “looking forward to continuing our work together on the issues that matter most to people in Canada and France — from defending democracy, to fighting climate change, to creating good jobs and economic growth for the middle class”. (ANI)

Lakhimpur Kheri: Ashish Mishra surrenders in court after SC cancels bail

Lakhimpur Kheri (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, surrendered before the magistrate at the district jail on Sunday.

The accused surrendered a week after Supreme Court cancelled his bail and asked him to surrender in a week.
The top court set aside the Allahabad High Court order dated February 10, 2022, and remit the matter back to the High Court. It said that the order of the Allahabad High Court cannot be sustained and has to be set aside and bail bonds of the respondent/accused are cancelled.

The Court clarified that it has not expressed any opinion either on facts or merits, and said that “all questions of law are left open for the High Court to consider and decide.”

Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on October 3, 2021. Mishra allegedly ran over the farmers who were protesting against the Centre’s three farm Laws. He was arrested on October 9 and granted bail in February 2022.

Family members of the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident moved the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court order, which granted bail to Ashish Mishra.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had appointed a committee headed by retired Punjab and Haryana high court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. (ANI)

Karnataka CM Bommai sounds poll bugle for 2023 elections

Vijayanagar (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai sounded the poll bugle for the 2023 Assembly elections on Sunday and said that the party will seek a positive mandate from farmers, women and weaker sections for the good governance provided by the state government.

Addressing the convention Bommai called Vijayanagar a holy land and said the BJP has declared a democratic war based on the principles of justice and positive democratic values.
“Let us march ahead under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his welfare programmes. Let us march together, victory will be ours,” he said.

“We will seek a positive mandate from farmers, women and weaker sections for our good governance, enforcing law and order, maintaining unity and integrity of the State and nation. We will go to the people with our performance report card and win the hearts of the people. Let us make Lotus bloom in the hearts of the people and the third floor of V2023 polls.,” Bommai added.

Terming Modi’s leadership as a great strength for the party, Bommai said, the entire world has accepted him as a great leader and we are marching ahead under his leadership to script a glorious future for the State and the country.

Launching a scathing attack on Congress, Bommai said that the grand old party had no moral right to talk about Corruption.

“The earlier Congress government at the Centre had attained notoriety by perpetrating 2G, 3G, Defence and Coal scams. The Congress government compromised with even the security of the country by indulging in scams in defence purchases too,” Bommai said while adding that Congress worried only about power and vote bank.

The Chief Minister in an attack on Congress said that the party is worried only about power and vote bank politics causing communal tension in the state.

“They had lost control of the administration when in power encouraging the anti-national elements. They remained mute spectators when rioters attacked DJ Halli police station and burnt down the residence of their own party MLA,” he said.

“They do not want peace and harmony in society. Their vote bank politics has further emboldened the disruptive elements, Bommai said and questioned the silence of Congress leaders about the attack on the police station in Hubballi and their stand on the Hijab issue,” he added.

Assembly Elections in the state will be held in 2023. (ANI)

40 civilians including children killed in Pak airstrikes in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Over 40 Afghan civilians, including children, were killed after Pakistani aircraft launched airstrikes in different parts of Khost and Kunar provinces on Friday night, according to Habib Khan, a journalist and the founder of Afghan peace watch, Afghanistan’s independent peace watchdog.

Condemning the incident on Twitter, Khan said, “For the first time ever, Pakistani military aircrafts bombarded Afghan soil under the Taliban, killing more than 40 civilians. Though, Pakistan has been killing Afghans through her proxy forces, the Taliban and Mujahideen, for decades.”
Khan also shared a picture of the corpses of the people killed in the incident and called the International criminal court and Amnesty International to take note of Pakistani war crimes in Afghanistan.

The local officials on Saturday of the Khost and Kunar provinces confirmed that the Pakistani aircraft launched the airstrikes on different parts of the provinces.

Following the incident, the Taliban summoned Pakistan’s ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan to convey concerns to the Pakistan government over the incident.

According to the country’s foreign ministry, the Afghan acting minister of foreign affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi and the acting deputy defence minister Alhaj Mullah Shirin Akhund were present in the meeting and condemned the attacks by Pakistani forces.

“Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today. Along with the IEA Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, the session also included Deputy Defense Minister Alhaj Mullah Shirin Akhund where the Afghan side condemned the recent,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, according to analysts, the attacks indicate Pakistan’s direct interference and violation of Afghan national sovereignty, reported ToloNews.

“The airstrikes and ground operations conducted by the Pakistan forces alongside the (Durand Line) in Khost and Kunar are an obvious violation and interference in Afghan airspace and territory,” the media outlet quoted Sadeq Shinwari, a political analyst, as saying. (ANI)

 

Almost 60 per cent of Pakistanis happy with Imran Khan’s exit

Karachi [Pakistan]:  A survey in Pakistan found that 57 per cent of respondents were happy over the exit of Imran Khan as Prime Minister of the country.

The new Gallup Survey was conducted through telephonic and random digital dialing, from 1,000 households from April 10-11, reported The News International.
A polarising trend of opinion has emerged as a result of the survey with 57 per cent of respondents expressing happiness over the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s departure.

Of these, 71 per cent were happy with the change of government. They said that Imran Khan’s government caused record inflation and increased poverty.

The economy of Pakistan was in tatters as people had to burn purses to purchase daily food items. The country witnessed a shortage of flour, rocketing tomatoes prices, and sugar prices. Not only that, the rate of poverty was at its zenith under the Imran Khan regime.

Pakistan’s financial condition was in a precarious situation under the inefficient leadership of its Prime Minister Imran Khan.

As reported on February 28, the country’s former finance minister and well-known economist Dr Hafeez A Pasha disclosed that the current account deficit was heading towards a historic record by touching the USD 20 billion mark or 6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the current fiscal year.

As many as 10 per cent of this group hold the PTI government responsible for failure to provide relief to the poor, three per cent declared Imran Khan as not a good leader, two per cent thought the previous government was better, and another two per cent thought he failed to deliver on his promises, reported The News International.

One per cent of those thought he was not fit for the job and suggested him to quit politics. Another one per cent expressed happiness over his exit from the government for the gross mismanagement of the economy that led to an increase in fuel prices.

Meanwhile, another group of 43 per cent respondents have shown displeasure with Imran Khan’s departure.

Among the latter group, 25 per cent were upset over removing Imran despite his personal integrity, 18 per cent declared him as the best leader, another 15 per cent say they like Imran Khan, while 13 per cent were dismayed over not letting the PTI government complete its full constitutional term and 10 per cent of these thought that he did a good job for the country, reported The News International.

Four per cent said they were sad because they felt Imran Khan was a sincere leader, four were are grossly unhappy over the return of corrupt leadership into power, three per cent expressed satisfaction with the former PM for initiating welfare programmes for the poor and two per cent were upset over an ‘external power’ conspiring to remove a popularly-elected leader.

The Pakistani parliament ousted Imran Khan in a vote of no confidence in the early hours of Sunday, April 10.

As many as 174 lawmakers in the 342-strong lower house of parliament voted in favour of the no-confidence motion launched by opposition parties. (ANI)

 

Want good ties with India but no peace without Kashmir: Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his government wants good relations with India, but added that peace would not be possible without the resolution of the so-called “Kashmir issue”.

In his inaugural speech in the National Assembly soon after his election, Sharif touched on the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and said that Pakistan will offer “diplomatic and moral support” to “Kashmiri brothers and sisters” and also bringing up the matter at each global forum.
“Neighbours are not a matter of choice, it is something we have to live with. Unfortunately, our relations with India could not improve in the past,” Sharif said. “We want good relations with India, but peace can not be discussed without resolution of the Kashmir issue,” he said.

Sharif further said that there are economic challenges in both India and Pakistan, including unemployment, healthcare and education, and addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “why do we want to disadvantage our coming generations? Let’s decide the Kashmir issue in accordance with the desires of the Kashmiri people, and let’s end the conflict on both sides, create employment, progress and happiness.”

Shehbaz Sharif, President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and former leader of the Opposition, was elected the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan by the National Assembly of the country on Monday following the ouster of Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government after a no-confidence motion late on Saturday.

Ahead of the voting on Prime Minister’s election, PTI legislators resigned en masse from the National Assembly and walked out of the National Assembly after a speech by former Foreign Minister and PTI candidate for the prime ministerial post, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to grab the top post after former Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was ousted from power following the no-confidence motion against the regime. (ANI)

 

Shanghai’s stringent COVID lockdown puts megacity out of food

Beijing [China]: As Shanghai’s COVID-19 lockdown leaves residents struggling to access essentials, residents of the mega Chinese city are almost out of food and they are reeling under an acute food crisis.

They say that they “only eat one meal a day” and “don’t know how to live until May”, The HK Post reported. According to the report, the epidemic situation in Shanghai is still deteriorating, and the number of infected people is still high under the “zero lockdown” policy.
On April 3, the Chinese government announced the deployment of thousands of military personnel to Shanghai to assist in the mandatory testing of all 25 million residents for the virus that causes COVID-19. Later, Shanghai authorities said the city would indefinitely remain under lockdown – meaning that residents are not allowed to leave their homes – as it reviews results of the mass Covid testing.

Analysts have said China would not risk relaxing its zero-Covid stance before then, over fears of a destabilizing outbreak. Meanwhile, health experts have warned the virus could overwhelm health care systems, and put the elderly, who lag in vaccinations, at risk, CNN reported.

But even as Beijing sticks to its zero-tolerance approach, it is facing the possibility of multiple major outbreaks as Omicron spreads, the report added.

According to the authorities, Shanghai has had more than 130,000 COVID cases since 1 March, yet nobody has died and there is only one seriously ill person. Such statistics fly in the face of the rest of the world’s experience with COVID.

Wu Zunyou of China’s Center for Disease Control said death rates were minimal because of efforts to curb outbreaks early and China’s high vaccination rate. “Compared with overseas, our country’s COVID-19 death rate is low because of the various measures to prevent or reduce deaths.”

When reporting deaths, there are strong incentives in China not to attribute them directly to COVID if alternative underlying conditions are available. Because of official obfuscation, it is simply impossible to know how many have died from COVID there. China also spends lots of time blaming imported frozen food and mail for spreading COVID.

Beijing claims a Zero-COVID policy must be followed because “Omicron can generate a higher mortality rate than Delta during the epidemic”. This assertion is verifiably false. Perhaps other reasons are more pertinent to the CCP’s choice of a Zero-COVID policy. (ANI)

 

Jharkhand CM orders high-level investigation in cable-car mishap in Deoghar

Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India]:  Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Monday ordered a high-level investigation into the ropeway accident near Trikut in Deoghar, where at least two people were killed and several others injured after cable cars in a ropeway collided with each other at Trikut hills.

“I express my deepest condolences on the incident on Trikut mountain and the deaths in it. There will be a high-level inquiry into the matter,” Soren said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is constantly monitoring the situation in Jharkhand’s Deoghar, government sources said on Monday.

The Prime Minister also discussed the rescue operations with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, they said.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said that for the first time, the Indian Army, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force, and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have together constituted joint coordination with district admin for this rescue operation.

“Local people were saying that if provided facilities, they could have emptied four cabins themselves. But the government was not listening to me and today, local people emptied two cabins after the support of forces. So the government had to take the support of locals for rescue,” he added.

Two people died after some cable cars collided on a ropeway at Trikut hills close to Baba Baidyanath Temple on Sunday. The Indian Air force (IAF) has been pressed into action for rescue operations.

Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri said that 32 people have been rescued while 15 people are still trapped mid-air in three cable cars. “Rescue operations will resume early morning tomorrow,” he added.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Air Force and Indian Army carried out the rescue operations today. The IAF deployed one Mi-17 and one Mi-17 V5 helicopter for carrying out the rescue operations. (ANI)

 

India, US finalize signing of new Space Situational Awareness arrangement

Washington [US]- India and the US on Monday finalized signing of a new Space Situational Awareness arrangement forging the way to more advanced cooperation at 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

“Productive U.S. – India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue today where we finalized major defence initiatives including the signing of a new Space Situational Awareness arrangement forging the way to more advanced cooperation,” Ely Ratner, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs tweeted.
Pentagon said in a statement said defence and foreign ministers of the two countries forged new and deeper cooperation across the breadth of the U.S.-India partnership, including defence, science and technology, trade, climate, public health, and people-to-people ties.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin co-chaired the fourth US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, and Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, on April 11 in Washington, D.C.

The US Department of Defence said Secretary Austin and his counterparts exchanged views on a range of regional security priorities–spanning the Indian Ocean region to East and Southeast Asia to Europe.

They agreed to maintain close consultations on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, including on humanitarian assistance efforts, and echoed support for an independent investigation into the brutal violence deployed against civilians in Bucha. In support of India’s leading role as a net security provider, the leaders discussed new opportunities to coordinate more closely together to ensure that the United States and India’s shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region continues to thrive.

As the Indian military emerges as a more jointly integrated force, the 2+2 Ministerial advanced initiatives that will allow the U.S. and Indian militaries to work more seamlessly together across all domains of potential conflict–from the seas to cyberspace.

The release said the United States and India finalized major bilateral initiatives on information-sharing, liaison exchanges, and joint service engagements to support high-end, combined operations.

“The four leaders committed to deepening cooperation in new defense domains, such as space and cyberspace, as the U.S. and Indian militaries jointly meet the challenges of this century. The United States and India signed a Space Situational Awareness arrangement, which lays the groundwork for more advanced cooperation in space. They also agreed to launch an inaugural Defense Artificial Intelligence Dialogue, while expanding joint cyber training and exercises,” Pentagon said.

The leaders discussed ways to coordinate more closely with like-minded nations–including Australia, Japan, and European partners–to ensure that our shared principles of the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states prevail today and far into the future.

“Today’s 2+2 Ministerial reaffirmed that the United States and India will continue stand shoulder-to-shoulder, rooted in common democratic values, as two pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement added. (ANI)

 

IPL: Never expected Pat Cummins to play like that, says Rohit Sharma

Pune (Maharashtra) [India]: Pat Cummins’ knock of 56 runs in just 15 balls came as a surprise for his rival captain Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians succumbed to a five-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Wednesday.

“Never expected him to come and play like that! A lot of credit to him for the way he played, ” said Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Mumbai Indians started off pretty slow as they scored only 35 runs for the loss of one wicket in the first six overs of powerplay. The five-times champions were 98/3 in 16 overs and went on to score 63 runs in the last four overs to take their total to 161 in 20 overs courtesy of a 5-ball 22 run knock from Kieron Pollard.

“With the bat, we didn’t start well. Over the last four overs, to get 160-plus was a great effort, ” said Rohit Sharma.

By the end of 15 overs, Kolkata Knight Riders needed 35 runs in five overs with the match pretty much in balance but Cummins hammered Daniel Sams for 35 runs in one over to take his team across the finish line with four overs to spare.

“We had the game until the 15th over, but the way Cummins played. We thought we could have them. But this will be hard to digest the way it turned out to be in the last few overs. There is a lot of hard work we need to put in, ” explained Rohit Sharma.

Mumbai Indians’ five-wicket defeat against KKR was their third in the season in as many matches. The Rohit Sharma-led side will be eyeing their first win of the season when they will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday. (ANI)

 

Martin Guptill shares heartfelt tribute to Ross Taylor

Hamilton [New Zealand]: New Zealand opening batter Martin Guptill shared a heartfelt to teammate Ross Taylor, who played his last international game on Monday.

Ross Taylor played his farewell international match for New Zealand against the Netherlands in the third match of the three-match ODI series here at Seddon Park.
“This is it. This is the last time we saw him walk out of the New Zealand team. It’ll be even more emotional when we wake up tomorrow morning and Ross is no longer going to be there. It will be tough, but we will have a good night tonight celebrating the Netherlands vs New Zealand series,” said Martin Guptill in a statement.

“Rosco (Ross Taylor) is an absolute legend and all of us are going to miss him around the group. He has been phenomenal and absolutely lovely and hopefully, we can catch up over the coming years,” he added.

With 8,607 runs in 236 ODIs, 7,683 runs in 112 Tests and 1,909 runs in 102 T20Is, Taylor had a successful international career as a cricketer.

It was not the happiest of endings as Ross Taylor could score only 14 in his farewell match but New Zealand registered a comprehensive win of 115 runs against the Netherlands to clean sweep the ODI series 3-0.

The highlights of the second ODI played between New Zealand and the Netherlands will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video. (ANI)

 

Pakistan PM Imran Khan to face no-confidence vote today

Islamabad [Pakistan]: After weeks of political mudslinging, name-calling, and claims of an international conspiracy, Imran Khan is set to face the no-confidence vote on Sunday in Pakistan’s National Assembly.

As Pakistan PM readies himself to face the “last ball”, it is clear that Imran Khan has seemingly lost support both in the lower house of the legislature and the backing of the all-powerful Pakistan army.
Imran Khan received a massive blow when the PTI “lost the majority” in the National Assembly after losing its key ally in the coalition Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P). The MQM announced on Wednesday that it had struck a deal with the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and would support the no-trust vote in the 342-member National Assembly.

Imran Khan, elected in July 2018 vowing to fix the economy and combat corruption, isn’t going quietly. Pakistan PM held a massive rally last Sunday in Islamabad and later gave controversial speeches to show he remains wildly popular with his supporters.

A day before the decisive no-confidence vote, Imran Khan urged the country’s youth to stage “peaceful protests” against a “foreign conspiracy” allegedly hatched against his government.

Pakistan Prime Minister even said that he has “more than one plan” for tomorrow’s vote on the no-confidence motion against him. He also urged the youth of Pakistan to agitate and raise their voice against the conspiracy by external forces.

Imran Khan further claimed that the Opposition leaders are seeking power to dispose of the corruption cases against them.

In an editorial on Saturday, Pakistan’s Dawn said Imran Khan seems willing to go to any lengths in his determination to convert his looming defeat in Sunday’s vote of no-confidence into a moment of political martyrdom.

“As if the shock value of an international conspiracy to oust him was not enough, his close aides and Mr Khan himself have since doubled down with public statements that they fear an attempt on his life,” the newspaper said.

Criticising the country’s prime minister, the Pakistani daily said one hopes that Imrana Khan is not simply trying to create panic among his supporters, many of whom have already issued passionate calls for rallies and demonstrations ahead of the Sunday vote.

Tilak Devasher, an author and India’s foremost Pakistan expert said that Imran Khan is hoping for clashes and violence forcing the army to step in and wrap up the system rather than leave democratically.

“Imran Khan still doesn’t get it that his fate will be decided in the National Assembly on Sunday and not by inciting youth to come on the streets to protest. He is hoping for clashes and violence forcing the army to step in and wrap up the system rather than leave democratically,” Devasher tweeted.

“By saying that he won’t accept the results of the NCM, Imran Khan has confirmed that he doesn’t believe in democracy or the constitutional process. Someone needs to tell him that it doesn’t matter whether he accepts the results or not. If he is defeated he is ex-PM,” he added. (ANI)

Uddhav Thackeray flags off two metro lines in Mumbai

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]:  On the occasion of Gudi Padwa, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray flagged off two metro lines – Metro 2A and Metro 7, in Mumbai on Saturday.

Trains on the new Mumbai Metro lines will function between Aarey and Dhanukarwadi.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, State Cabinet Ministers Aaditya Thackeray and Eknath Shinde were also present on the occasion.

However, BJP boycotted today’s metro inauguration program as the Maharashtra government did not invite BJP leader and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis.

This step taken by the Maharashtra government holds importance as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election is slated to be held this year. (ANI)

 

Pariksha Pe Charcha: ‘Stay away from panic’, PM Modi advises students

New Delhi [India]:  Interacting with board exam students at the fifth edition of ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday advised them to stay away from panic and appear for their tests in a festive mood.

“You are not giving exams for the first time. In a way, you are exam-proof. Thus, do not be stressed. Remember, you have overcome such exams before,” said PM Modi at the event held at the Talkatora Stadium here today.
He further said, “There is no one sitting here who is appearing for exams for the first time. We have become exam proof by repeatedly sitting for exams after equal intervals of time. Exams are a stepping stone in our life.”

Urging students to stay away from an environment of panic, the Prime Minister advised students to appear for examinations with full self-confidence.

“I want students to stay away from a panic environment during exams. No need to copy friends, just keep doing whatever you do with full confidence and I believe all of you will be able to give your exam in a festive mood, without any stress,” said PM Modi.

Referring to the widespread usage of online mode of education since the onset of the COVID pandemic, the Prime Minister said, “Students should introspect themselves while studying online, whether they actually study or spend time watching reels on social media.”

“Whatever happens offline, same takes place online. This means the medium is not the problem. Irrespective of the medium, if our mind is delved into the subject, then it won’t make a difference is grasping things,” he added.

The Prime Minister also assured the students that the queries of students that will remain unanswered during the programme due to time crunch will be answered by him on the Namo App.

“All the queries of the students that might not be discussed here due to time crunch will be answered by me in the Namo App via videos, audio messages and written texts,” said PM Modi.

“Today’s program is particularly special to me as I meet you all after a long gap,” added PM Modi.

Meanwhile, students who arrived at the Talkatora stadium to participate in the interaction with the Prime Minister shared their experiences before the commencement of the programme.

A class 12 student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kapurthala, Chhavni said, “I am very excited to interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and feel very fortunate on getting this opportunity. It is very common for students to experience stress before appearing for examinations. But when the Prime Minister himself interacts with students face-to-face, it acts as a motivating force and it feels really nice to listen to him, it takes away a lot of stress of the students and helps a lot in managing that anxiety.”

Another student from JNV, Kanpur Nagar, Uttar Pradesh said, “I am excited and nervous at the same time. I feel extremely fortunate to get a golden chance to interact with the Prime Minister.”

“I have never met the Prime Minister in person, never had an opportunity to interact with him in person, so I am really excited to participate in this interaction,” said another student of class 10 from Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya, Faridabad.

Pariksha Pe Charcha is an annual event in which the Prime Minister responds to questions related to examination stress and related areas posed by students in his uniquely engaging style in a live programme. (ANI)

Amit Shah embarks on two-day visit to Karnataka, BJP denies leadership change

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: As Union Home Minister Amit Shah embarked on his two-day visit to Karnataka which is scheduled to go to Assembly polls next year, top BJP sources said that the party does not succumb to any pressure and is not mulling any change of leadership ahead of the crucial elections.

Shah arrived at the HAL airport in Bengaluru on Thursday late at night and was received by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and other leaders of the state.
The Home Minister will pay his tributes to Late Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swami on his 115th birth anniversary celebrations at Siddaganga Math at around 10.50 am. He will also attend other programmes in the state including the Foundation stone laying of the 200-bedded hospital in Sathya Sai Grama in Muddenahalli at around 2.20 pm, according to the Home Ministry.

Shah will also attend Karnataka State Cooperative Conference at around 4 pm in Bengaluru Palace.

Notably, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visit the Siddaganga Math on Thursday during his two-day visit to the state to “strengthen the party”.

Also slated later in the day is a meeting with a BJP core group of the state.

The meeting assumes a lot of significance given the fact that there have been several rounds of speculations that there could be a change of leadership in the state including the Chief Minister as well as the party president.

Top sources in the BJP, while speaking to ANI, rubbished any possibility of a change of leadership in the state.

“There is no question of change of leadership in the state… The president (Nalin Kateel) has been given a term and he will definitely complete that,” said the sources.

On the talks doing the round regarding the possible change of guard for Chief Minister, another source said that there will not be a change of Chief Minister under any pressure.

“This is BJP and not any other party and we do not change any Chief Minister under pressure… Bommai is a very experienced politician and a capable Chief Minister,” said the source.

Home Minister Amit Shah will be participating in the core group meeting along with BJP general secretary Arun Singh who is in charge of Karnataka. (ANI)

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov arrives in India amid western sanctions

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in New Delhi on Thursday. It is the first high-level visit from Russia since the Ukraine crisis that triggered sanctions by western countries.

Russian leaders and elites are facing western sanctions, including an asset freeze and travel ban, over the country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
The US in coordination with the EU and the G7 has imposed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, key members of his government and members of his inner circle and over 400 Russian elites considered close to Kremlin. Over 325 members of the Duma have also been targeted with sanctions.

A ban on the export of dual-use goods has been imposed against Russia by the UK, EU and US. Russian flights have been banned by US, UK, EU and Canada. The UK has also banned private jets chartered by Russians.

The EU has imposed a ban on luxury goods exports to Russia and the UK too has decided to do so. The US has banned Russian oil and gas imports. The UK is planning to end Russian oil imports by the end of this year and the EU also plans to switch to alternative supplies.

Western countries have frozen the assets of Russia’s central bank. Russia has hit back by imposing export bans on a range of products until the end of this year. It has closed its airspace to flights from several countries.

Putin is also the head of Russia’s Security Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, and his assets as those of Lavrov are also being frozen in the US, EU, UK and Canada.

US Treasury Department targeted Putin while announcing the sanctions.

“No one individual is more responsible for Russia’s war against Ukraine, destabilization of Russia’s neighbours, the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and years of Russian malign activities globally,” the US Treasury Department had said in a release.

Putin has said he will make “unfriendly” nations pay for their imports of Russian gas in roubles to push up the value of the currency.

Lavrov, who is also a permanent member of Russia’s Security Council, is a key Russian face in the international forums.

Targeting Lavrov, the US State Department had said that as Foreign Minister he “has advanced the false narrative that Ukraine is the aggressor as he has aggressively sought to justify Russia’s actions globally”.

Lavrov’s ‘step-daughter’, Polina Kovaleva who reportedly owns a UKD 4 million property in London was also recently sanctioned by the UK government.

Here are some other Russians against whom sanctions have been imposed by western countries.

Aleksandr Bortnikov is the Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation and a permanent member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also imposed sanctions on his son Denis Bortnikov for being associated with the Russian government.

Igor Sechin is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chairman of the Management Board, and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rosneft, one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil companies.

Sergei Naryshkin is the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service. Naryshkin was previously blacklisted by the Obama administration for his role in the takeover of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian forces in 2014.

Dmitry Peskov is Putin’s Press Secretary. The US Department of Treasury accused him of being the “lead propagandist” and spokesperson of the Russian Federation while sanctioning him. Sanctions were also imposed on three of Peskov’s family members, “all of whom live luxurious lifestyles that are incongruous with Peskov’s civil servant salary and are likely built on the ill-gotten wealth of Peskov’s connections to Putin,” according to the US Department of Treasury.

The list of the sanctioned Russian high-profile individuals includes several oligarchs like Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and heads of Russia’s premier banks including Sberbank CEO Herman Gref. (ANI)

Ahead of trust vote, Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s address to nation

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation later tonight ahead of the no-confidence motion against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government, said federal minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday.

Taking to Twitter, Fawad Chaudhry said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation tonight”.
The development comes at a time when Pakistan National Assembly is all set to take up discussion on the no-confidence motion against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government in the Lower House session which is scheduled at 4 pm today.

The National Assembly secretariat issued the order on Wednesday night for the discussion on the no-trust motion for today’s (Thursday) agenda, Geo TV reported.

Earlier, on Monday, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif tabled the no-confidence motion. With this move, Imran Khan became the third Pakistani PM to face the no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan in two back-to-back decisions has summoned a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting in the afternoon at his residence, Fawad Chaudhry said.

Yesterday, Imran Khan deferred his address to the nation hours after an announcement was made that he will take people into confidence about a “foreign-funded conspiracy letter” to show “evidence” of attempts to topple his government.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senator Faisal Javed Khan gave the information about the address having been postponed, reported Geo News. The Imran Khan government is facing the heat over the no-confidence motion brought by the Opposition.

“PM Imran Khan’s address to the nation for today has been postponed,” Javed Khan said in a tweet.

After the no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government was tabled in the National Assembly with a total of 161 votes in favour, the proceedings were adjourned till March 31.

The no-confidence motion was submitted by the opposition parties on March 8. The Opposition is confident that its motion would be carried as some allies of PTI have come out in the open against Imran Khan. (ANI)

 

72 retiring Rajya Sabha MPs pose for farewell group photo in Parliament

New Delhi [India]: A total of 72 retiring members of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday had a group photo with Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

The event was organised before the Upper House bid farewell to the retiring members. Some of the members are retiring this month and some of them are retiring a little later.
The photo session is observed in line with the Parliamentary tradition.

Later, the Rajya Sabha will bid farewell to the retiring members and accordingly, Zero Hour and Question Hour, will not be taken up today.

Leaders of parties and others will also make farewell speeches in the Rajya Sabha soon after it assemble at 11 am on Thursday.

The Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu, will also host a dinner for the 72 retiring MPs at his official residence.

Voting for the 13 Rajya Sabha seats will take place today across six states. Five Rajya Sabha nominees of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) have already been elected to the Upper House unopposed on the back of the party sweeping the Assembly elections in the state recently.

The BJP nominee S Phangnon Konyak has also been elected to the Upper House unopposed from Nagaland. She will be the first woman member of the Rajya Sabha from Nagaland.

The BJP candidate Sikander Kumar has also been elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed from Himachal Pradesh. With the BJP having 43 MLAs in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly, Congress hadn’t fielded candidate in the biennial polls for the Rajya Sabha.

For six other Rajya Sabha seats, voting is underway in Kerala, Tripura and Assam.

In Tripura, the ruling BJP has fielded state unit party chief Manik Saha while the Left Front has nominated senior CPI (M) leader Bhanu Lal Saha. Kerala will elect three members for the Rajya Sabha.

Incidentally, one-third of the members of the Rajya Sabha from each state retire every two years on the completion of their six-year terms. (ANI)

India to allow Russia to invest, borrow from domestic market amid sanctions on Moscow

New Delhi [India]: In the face of mounting sanctions against Russia for launching military operations in Ukraine, India in line with its old ties and friendly relations will allow Moscow to invest and borrow in the domestic market.

Russia has been hit by multiple sanctions following its military operations in Ukraine. Countries around the world are imposing fresh sanctions against Russia.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada have banned certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that facilitates payments among 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries. Earlier, Germany halted certification of the ‘Nord Stream 2’ gas pipeline, following Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Amid the sanctions, India allowed Russia to invest in Indian corporate debt funds that could help Moscow.

This can be seen as a return gesture for the Russian offer of selling to India oil at a whopping 25 to 30 per cent discount. Energy-starved India has already begun to avail this facility and build enough buffer stocks.

Equally important is the Indian decision, taken at the highest level, to allow Russia to pay for these investments through a Reserve Bank of India account that has existed since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago. Funds have accumulated pending payments for defence purchases made from Moscow. There is thus an element of a quid-pro-quo.

India is drawing lessons from the past dealings with Iran, another sanction-hit friend. Iranian oil imports were brought down to zero some years ago after the United States made it difficult for monetary transactions with Tehran.

Among other areas, Russia will be allowed to invest in debt securities.

Reports say that the Russian government officials have asked their Indian counterparts to relax India’s External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) framework, which would allow Russian entities to invest in bonds of Indian companies, and pay for these investments through an account with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The RBI account has an accumulated balance of Rs 2,000 crore from pending payments for defence purchases made from Russia, according to media reports.

‘Masala bonds’ are rupee-denominated bonds issued overseas by Indian companies. They are debt instruments that help companies raise money in India’s currency from foreign investors. Both government and private entities can issue these bonds.

The proposed arrangement is a response to pressures at the economic level, when global oil prices are rising, with their imports having a negative cascading effect on the Indian economy.

India abstained from United Nations votes on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, calling instead for an “immediate cessation of violence”, and emphasizing dialogue as the way out of the dispute. (ANI)

 

AAP moves Delhi HC against attack, vandalisation at Kejriwal’s residence

New Delhi [India], March 31 (ANI): Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Saurabh Bhardwaj on Thursday moved the Delhi High Court against the alleged attack and vandalization at the official residence of the Delhi Chief Minister on March 30.

The plea seeks direction for the constitution of a Special Investigation Team to undertake an independent, fair and time-bound criminal investigation with respect to the attack and its perpetrators.
It also alleged that the attack was done by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) workers and appears to have been carried out with Delhi Police’s tacit complicity.

Earlier on Wednesday, several BJP goons in the garb of a protest, launched an attack on the official residence of the Delhi CM.

The visuals of the incidents show that these goons casually walked through the security cordon (maintained by Delhi Police), kicked and broke the boom barrier, broke the CCTVs cameras with lathis, threw paint on the gate of the residence and almost climbed over the gate, while Delhi Police personnel simply looked on, doing little to stop the protestors, stated plea.

Saurabh Bhardwaj, sitting MLA from AAP stated that the party strongly supports the right to protest peacefully, even if such protest is against the Delhi Government, it is submitted that in the name of protest, violence cannot and ought not to be permitted and condoned.

It further stated that, In this case, the violence was especially egregious as it was directed toward the Delhi CM and his family. It was meant to subdue, by the use of force, the highest elected official in

NCT of Delhi and therefore the elected Government of Delhi. This was a direct attack on democracy.

The plea further submitted that those who were charged with the protection of the Delhi CM, that is, Delhi Police, completely abdicated their duty, without any regard for the fact that they were protecting an elected constitutional functionary and the fact that he was given Z plus security by Delhi Police itself.

Moreover, the Delhi Police’s inaction was in blatant violation of this Court’s order dated August 22, 2017, wherein the Delhi Police was directed to ensure that no unnecessary protest takes place on the road in front of the Delhi CM’s house, as it is a residential area.

It thus appears that Delhi Police was hand in glove with the goons as the goons are members of the ruling party in the Central Government, which has absolute control over the Delhi Police through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

It is pertinent to note, that in the past as well, on December 10, 2020, there was an attack on the residence of the Deputy Chief Minister by BJP Goons, where also, the Delhi Police did not take any steps to stop the attackers and thereafter failed to take any concrete criminal action against the attackers, read the plea. (ANI)

 

Imran Khan has lost majority, Shahbaz Sharif will soon become Pakistan PM: Bilawal Bhutto

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said Imran Khan “has now lost majority” in the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif will soon become the Prime Minister of the country.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the confidence vote which is expected to take place in the next few days, Bilawal Bhutto thanked Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) for joining hands with the opposition and deciding to support them to oust Imran Khan as Prime Minister in the no-confidence vote.
He said the voting should be held on Thursday.

“Imran Khan has now lost his majority. He is no longer the Prime Minister. The parliament session is tomorrow. Let’s hold voting tomorrow and settle this matter. We can then start working on transparent elections and the journey towards restoration of democracy and an end to economic crisis can then begin,” the PPP chairman said.

Bilawal Bhutto also said that Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, “will soon” become the prime minister of the country.

“PPP and MQM-P’s working relation has nothing to do with the no-confidence motion. Both the parties have to work together for the development of Karachi and Pakistan,” he added.

The PPP chairman said Shehbaz Sharif has challenged the Pakistan Prime Minister to resign from office. “He (Imran Khan) has no option left. He can either resign or get dismissed via no-confidence,” Bilawal Bhutto.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ruling PTI got another shock as MQM-P, an ally of the government, decided to side with the opposition and support them in the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan.

After the no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM was tabled in the National Assembly with a total of 161 votes in favour, the proceedings were adjourned till March 31.

Even as Imran Khan faces mounting pressure with some allies leaving the ruling coalition ahead of the no-confidence vote, Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said the Pakistan Prime Minister will not resign.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is a player who fights till the last ball. He will not get resignation,” Fawad Chaudhry said in a tweet in Urdu.

Imran Khan is in a precarious position, with the voting on the no-confidence motion expected on April 3. (ANI)

India successfully conducts two test firings Surface to Air missile system

New Delhi [India]: India carried out two successful test firings of the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) air defence systems off the coast of Odisha in Balasore on Wednesday.

“Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) Army weapon system has once again proved its effectiveness as two missiles during the flight tests achieved direct hit against high-speed aerial targets at around 10:15 Hrs and 11:00 hrs today,” said the official release.
The launches were carried out establishing the accuracy and reliability of the weapon system against targets covering the sea-skimming and high altitude functionality within the envelope. Performance of all weapon system components including missile, weapon system radar and command post have been validated during these trials.

The flight tests were carried out in the presence of senior officials from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Army.

Earlier also on March 27, the missile system was successfully flight tested twice against high-speed aerial targets for different ranges as part of the live firing trials.

With the flight trials for different ranges and scenarios, the system has completed its development trials.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has complimented DRDO, the Indian Army, and industry for successful launches of the MRSAM-Army and said that the successful launches have once again proved the reliability of the system, said the release.

This MRSAM version is a Surface-to-Air Missile developed jointly by DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel for use by the Indian Army. The MRSAM Army weapon system comprises multi-function radar, mobile launcher system and other vehicles. The flight tests were carried out with the weapon system in deliverable configuration. (ANI)

 

Uttarakhand: CM Pushkar Singh Dhami gets 23 portfolios, including Home

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India]: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will oversee as many as 23 portfolios, including home and mining, in his second term in the state.

Dhami has retained the Home Ministry, besides Excise, Mining and Civil Aviation among others.
As for the other Ministers of the Uttarakhand Cabinet, Premchand Aggarwal has been allotted the Finance Ministry, while Satpal Maharaj got the Public Works Department (PWD).

The Education Ministry in the state will be headed by Dhan Singh Rawat, and Ganesh Joshi would be overseeing Agriculture.

Other than 23 portfolios to Dhami, Cabinet Ministers Subodh Uniyal and Rekha Arya were allotted four departments each, whereas six each went to Chandan Ramdas, Dhan Singh Rawat, Saurabh Bahuguna, and Premchand Agarwal.

Yesterday, Dhami said that the state government is committed to making Uttarakhand the number one state in the country by 2025.

An official statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) stated that for the financial year 2022-23, there will be a need for withdrawal of funds from the Consolidated Fund of the state, and according to the provisions in Article 206 of the Constitution, a four-month vote on the account has been presented in the House.

He said that the state government is committed to fulfilling the promises and resolutions made to the people of the state by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with the agenda mentioned in the Governor’s address. (ANI)

 

KCR urges PM Modi to accommodate Ukraine-returned medical students in Indian colleges

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Expressing concern over the future of medical students who returned to India from war-torn Ukraine, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to increase seats in the country’s medical colleges to accommodate these students.

“Indian students who were studying in various medical colleges in Ukraine were forced to interrupt their education at different stages and return to India under conditions of extreme hardship due to the sudden eruption of war in Ukraine. The dislocation has jeopardised the future of these Indian students who have devoted considerable time and spent large sums of money in pursuing their medical education in Ukraine, which is now likely to remain incomplete,” wrote KCR in his letter to Prime Minister Modi.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief said there are over 20,000 Indian students who have been dislocated from Ukraine due to the war. Most of them are from middle-class families which will lose their lifetime savings without any hope of completing the medical education of their children.

The Chief Minister said there are over 700 students from Telangana, who have returned from Ukraine without completing their medical education. In view of the hardship faced by them, the Telangana government has decided that the medical college fee for students belonging to Telangana will be borne by the state government.

“Considering the exceptional circumstances of these students, I would request that as a special case to help them complete their education, they may be enabled to join medical colleges in the country in equivalent semesters in relaxation of the regulations in vogue. For this purpose, permission may also be accorded to proportionately increase the seats in different semesters in the medical colleges on a one-time basis to accommodate these students. I request you to kindly consider the matter sympathetically and take an early decision in this regard,” urged KCR. (ANI)

12 killed, 33 injured in Russia’s airstrike on Ukraine’s regional administration building

Kyiv [Ukraine]: At least 12 people were killed and 33 others injured in an airstrike carried out by Russia’s forces on a regional administration building in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Mykolayiv, the press service of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

The airstrike, which occurred at about 8:45 a.m. local time (0545 GMT), destroyed the central section of the nine-story building, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, 18 people were rescued from the debris following the attack.

The search and rescue operation is under way, the ministry said. (ANI/Xinhua)

 

Istanbul Talks: Possibility of Putin-Zelenskyy meet discussed, talks ‘positive’

Istanbul [Turkey]:  After the first day of a delegation-level meeting between Russia-Ukraine in Istanbul, the Russian delegation announced steps for a “drastic reduction in military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions” and the possibility of meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This comes as part of two steps that the Russian delegation announced to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine reported CNN citing news agency RIA-Novosti.
The head of the Russian delegation, presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, called the negotiations “constructive”.

Moreover, Russia is beginning to withdraw some forces, including Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) leaving the surrounding areas around the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that enough progress was made during the talks in Istanbul to allow Putin and Zelensky to meet. “We have documents prepared now which allow the presidents to meet on a bilateral basis,” he said.

“The Russian delegation is constructive and aware. This doesn’t mean that negotiations are easy. They are very difficult. But the Russian side is paying attention to the Russian proposals, to the Ukrainian proposals,” he added.

Amid the heavy bombardments and shelling ongoing in Ukraine, the latest round of peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations kicked off at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul on Tuesday.

In a phone call on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to hold the next round of negotiations in Istanbul. Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would continue to contribute in every possible way during this process. Notably, Ukrainian and Russian delegations have held three rounds of in-person negotiations so far.

On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian provocations. In response to Russia’s operation, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow. (ANI)

Telangana: Dalit Bandhu scheme a movement for Welfare

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Telangana Finance and Health Minister T Harish Rao on Tuesday inaugurated the process of reserving 16 per cent of contract agencies in government hospitals for scheduled castes (SCs) at the office of the Commissioner of Family Welfare in Koti.

Telangana State Medical Services & Infrastructure Development Corporation (TSMSIDC) Chairman Errolla Srinivas, MD Chandrasekhar Reddy, DPH Srinivas Rao, DME Ramesh Reddy, Family Welfare Commissioner Wakati Karuna, along with CM OSD Gangadhar selected the hospitals where the reservation will be applicable, through a draw.
Rao speaking at the event said that the Dalit Bandhu scheme started by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is not just a program, but it is a movement.

He added, “Giving financial assistance to Dalits is not the only solution, the aim of CM KCR is to eliminate social untouchability.”

Before independence, Dr. BR Ambedkar said that Dalits should not be limited to wage labor but should be given reservations in government jobs as well as contracts. Today, CM KCR has made Dr. Ambedkar’s dream come true, said Rao.

The Telangana Minister added, “In the past, 21 per cent of the tenders held in the Irrigation Department were allotted to SCs. Reservations for Dalits are already being implemented in wine shops. Currently, in Government hospitals, we are giving 16 per cent reservation to Dalits in sanitation, security, and diet agencies.”

The hospitals with less than 100 beds are divided into one category. The hospital with more than 100 beds is divided into another category and reservations will be done in which hospitals, was decided transparently by draw.

A total of 56 hospitals have been allotted for Dalits and the tenders for the same will be called soon, he said.

Rao added, “We have made changes in the rules of tender laws for SC youth to avail of the benefits.”

To further improve sanitation management in government securities, the government has increased the charges per bed from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,500 and the government is spending additional Rs 325 crore annually for this, added the minister.

Rao further stated that the government is also thinking of implementing reservations in medical shops as well. (ANI)

 

Peace talks between Ukraine-Russia delegations in Istanbul

Kyiv [Ukraine]:  Amid the heavy bombardments and shelling ongoing in Ukraine, the latest round of peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations kicked off at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul on Tuesday (Local Time).

Alexander Fomin, Russia’s deputy defence minister is leading the Russian delegation. The Russian delegation also includes negotiator Vladimir Medinsky. On the other hand, the Ukrainian Delegation is headed by David Arakhamia, reported CNN News.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey also confirmed that the talks between the delegations has started. Among the members who are attending the meeting in an unofficial capacity is Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.

“In order to hold contact between the two parties, it is necessary to obtain approval from both parties. In the case of Abramovich, he has approval [of his participation] from both sides,” he added, reported the news channel.

In a phone call on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to hold the next round of negotiations in Istanbul. Erdogan reiterated that Turkey would continue to contribute in every possible way during this process. Notably, Ukrainian and Russian delegations have held three rounds of in-person negotiations so far.

On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian provocations. In response to Russia’s operation, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow. (ANI)

 

Voting on no-confidence motion against Imran Khan on April 3

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad on Tuesday announced that the discussion on the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan will start in the National Assembly on March 31 and voting on it will be held on April 3.

The Minister gave the information while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Rasheed reiterated his support with the Prime Minister and at the same time refuted any reports about any tussle in the PML-Q for its support to the ruling PTI government on the no-trust motion, reported The News International.
Rasheed praised PML-Q stance and said that he hoped MQM-P will also support the government. Sheikh Rasheed said that the security forces arrested four terrorists harbouring nefarious designs. He maintained that the arrested terrorists will be tried in anti-terrorism courts.

The Interior Minister said that after the peaceful public gathering, now the containers which were put for security have been removed and roads are cleared for traffic. He added that the massive crowd that gathered at the PM rally suggests that the entire country stands by the PM, reported the news portal.

After the no-confidence motion against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was tabled in the National Assembly with a total of 161 votes in favour, the proceedings were adjourned till March 31.

The no-confidence motion was submitted by the Opposition parties on March 8. The Opposition has been confident that its motion would be carried as many PTI lawmakers have come out in the open against PM Imran Khan. (ANI)

PM Modi to address ‘Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022’

New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually address ‘Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022’ organised at Shreedham Thakurnagar in West Bengal’s Thakurbari on the occasion of the 211th birth anniversary of Shree Shree Harichand Thakur on Tuesday.

Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022 is being organised by All India Matua Mahasangha beginning on Tuesday. The event will culminate on April 5.
“I am honoured to be addressing the Matua Dharma Maha Mela 2022 at 4:30 PM tomorrow, 29th March. We shall also mark the Jayanti of the great Sri Sri Harichand Thakur Ji, who devoted his entire life to social justice and public welfare,” PM Modi had tweeted on Monday.

Harichand Thakur devoted his life to the cause of betterment of the oppressed, downtrodden, and deprived persons in undivided Bengal during the pre-independence era. The social and religious movement started by him originated from Orakandi (now in Bangladesh) in 1860 and led to the formation of the Matua Dharma, said a release by the Prime Minister’s Office. (ANI)

Covaxin-maker Bharat Biotech MD D Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella conferred “Padma Bhushan”

New Delhi [India]: Bharat Biotech Managing Director (MD) D Krishna Ella and Joint MD Suchitra Ella received the Padma Bhushan award from President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday.

Bharat Biotech founders received the award for their contribution to the field of medicine.

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech is the manufacturer of Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine against COVID-19.

Padma Awards, one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz. art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhavan usually around March/ April every year. This year the President has approved conferment of 128 Padma Awards including two duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one).

The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards. 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 13 posthumous awardees. (ANI)

Goa: Pramod Sawant holds BJP’s reign in Goa

Panaji (Goa) [India]: Goa for the Bharatiya Janata Party had all been about the former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also served as Union Minister for Defence, but the party now is banking on Pramod Sawant, set to take reign of the government here for the second term, to achieve the generational change in leadership in the coastal state.

Sawant, 48, is widely known to have been the protege of Parrikar.
Parrikar, a former IIT graduate, was the flag-bearer of the BJP in the coastal state for decades.

Drafted in politics by Parrikar, Sawant steadily rose the ranks in the state unit of the BJP, and soon plunged into electoral politics.

First, he unsuccessfully contested the by-elections in 2008 on the BJP ticket from the Pale Assembly seat. He, however, lost to Congress’ Pratap Gauns.

With PM Narendra Modi after Victory in Elections

Sawant stayed put, working in the shadow of Parrikar, and was back in the electoral fray in 2012 Assembly elections. He tasted success, and won from the Sanquelim Assembly constituency. The party entrusted him with the responsibility of the spokesperson.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, Sawant repeated his electoral success, and was rewarded with elevation after he was elected to the Speaker of the Goa Assembly.

Sawant, incidentally, was groomed by Parrikar with aims that he should helm the affairs of the BJP in the state as part of the strategy to help generational shift in the leadership. After Parrikar’s death following a prolonged battle with cancer in 2019, the BJP found Sawant ready to take the riegn of the state, becoming the Chief Minister.

Beginning his journey as the Chief Minister after swearing-in as 13th Chief Minister of Goa on March 19, 2019, he made a mark in the BJP’s Goa politics, stepping out of the shadow of the Parrikar and leading the the party at a time when the aspirations of the senior leaders knew no limits.

His elevation to the top post in the coastal state followed hectic parleys between the BJP and its alliance partners. While Congress had emerge as the single largest party in 2017 Goa Assembly polls, Parrikar had cobbled up an alliance with the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Independents to form the government. Sawant settled in the shadows of Parrikar to take the alliance partners onboard, providing political stability to the state.

Sawant carried forward the BJP’s bid to deny tickets to sons and daughters of party’s leaders to build the anti-dynasty poll plank in the Assembly polls in five states. With the BJP denying ticket to Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar from his father’s traditional seat, Panaji, Sawant is credited to have carried the party show and ensure the victory of the official nominee.

Even former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and rebel BJP leader, who contested from the Mandrem Assembly seat as an Independent candidate lost. That was despite Parsekar building campaign on plank that he is “equidistant” from both Congress and the BJP.

Sawant is also credited in the BJP for keeping the party flock together, warding off ‘poaching’ bids of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), the two new entrants in the electoral politics of Goa.

In the recently concluded state Assembly polls, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in Goa, winning 20 seats in the 40-member state Assembly while Congress came a distant second with 11 seats.

The BJP has bagged the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and independent candidates.

Sawant holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery from Ganga Education Society’s Ayurvedic College in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. His wife Sulakshana heads the BJP Mahila Morcha in Goa. (ANI)

IPL: Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel script stunning win for Delhi Capitals

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Fighting knocks from Lalit Yadav and Axar Patel helped Delhi Capitals in defeating Mumbai Indians by 4 wickets in the Indian Premier League 2022 clash on Sunday.

At the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, Lalit Yadav and Axar Patel played unbeaten knocks of 48 and 38 respectively as Delhi chased the target of 178 with 10 balls left to play.
Capitals who needed 75 off 42 at one point looked deep in trouble when Shardul Thakur became the sixth wicket to fall soon after. But they weren’t done yet as Patel and Yadav pulled off a coup to gather points for Capitals.

Earlier, knocks from Ishan Kishan and captain Rohit Sharma led Mumbai Indians to a total of 177/5 in their Indian Premier League 2022 match against Delhi Capitals.

Chasing 178, Delhi got off to a bad start as they lost three wickets inside the first six overs. Murugan Ashwin was the pick for Rohit Sharma as bowler removed Tim Seifert for 21 and Mandeep Singh in his first over for Mumbai Indians.

In the very next over which was the 5th of the innings, Tymal Mills sent DC captain Rishabh Pant back in the hut. With a short length delivery just outside off stump, Pant looked to cut over point but got the outside edge that travelled straight to Tim David at third man. Delhi’s score read 46/3 after the first powerplay.

Lalit Yadav then joined opener, Prithvi Shaw, on the crease as both batters kept runs clocking for Delhi. With DC looking to gain momentum in the middle overs, Basil Thampi struck twice in the 10th over to dismantle the chase of Capitals. Thampi first sent set opener, Prithvi Shaw, for 38 and then packed the bags of Rovman Powell in the same over.

Thampi struck again in the 14th over to remove dangerous-looking Shardul Thakur for 22. MI bowler got his third wicket of the day as Thakur went for the pull but the ball was fuller for the shot and hence got the top edge that went to Rohit Sharma at covers.

Axar Patel then joined Lalit Yadav in the middle and both batters valiantly took the charge against MI bowlers as Delhi needed 28 runs from 18 balls.

The 18th over proved vital as Patel and Yadav smashed Daniel Sams for 24 runs which included three mammoth sixes as Delhi ended any hope of Mumbai.

In the second ball of the penultimate over Patel smashed Jasprit Bumrah to four and Capitals took the honours and grabbed all the points.

Put in to bat first, Mumbai Indians amassed a total of 177/5 in their assigned twenty overs as Ishan Kishan who was bought for Rs 15.25 crore in IPL Auction by five-time champions smashed an unbeaten 81 while skipper Rohit played a crucial knock of 41. For Delhi, spinner Kuldeep Yadav stole the limelight as he scalped three wickets and Khaleel Ahmed took two.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 177/5 (Ishan Kishan 81*, Rohit Sharma 41; Kuldeep Yadav 3-18) vs Delhi Capitals 179/6 (Lalit Yadav 48*, Axar Patel 38*; Basil Thampi 3-35). (ANI)

PV Sindhu wins Swiss Open 2022 crown

Basel [Switzerland]: India’s ace shuttler PV Sindhu on Sunday claimed the Swiss Open 2022 women’s singles crown here at St. Jakobshalle arena in Basel.

This is Sindhu’s second Super 300 title of the year. She has won Syed Modi International back in January.
Battling it out at court 1, the double Olympic medallist Indian defeated Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand by 21-16, 21-8 in 49 minutes. With this win, Sindhu now has a head-to-head record of 16-1 against the Thai player.

Sindhu got to a fast start in the final as she gathered a 3-0 lead in the first game. But Thai shuttler refused to get overpowered as she levelled the game at 3-3. The first game moved at a steady pace and with the score of 9-9 on board, the two impressive points gave Sindhu an 11-9 lead at the first interval.

It was neck to neck battle after the resumption as Ongbamrungphan raised her level to get in a point difference against the Indian at 16-15. But Sindhu then held her nerve and won the last five points out of six to capture the first game.

Sindhu went off the blocks too quickly in the second game as she gathered a massive nine points lead at the mid-game break. After the change of the ends, with such a massive lead, the experienced Indian shuttler never faced any actual resistance in the game. Sindhu comfortably won the second game by 21-8. (ANI)

 

IPL 2022: KKR beats CSK by six wickets

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Ajinkya Rahane’s knock of 44 runs put Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s half-century in vain as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) defeated Chennai Super Kings in the opening game of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, here at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.

Rahane scored 44 runs while Umesh Yadav scalped two wickets as KKR registered a six-wicket victory over CSK with 9 balls to spare.
Chasing 132, KKR openers Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer provided their team with a great start as they scored 43 runs in the powerplay. CSK finally heaved a sigh of relief when Venkatesh got caught by Dhoni on Dwayne Bravo’s delivery.

Nitish Rana then joined Rahane and troubled the CSK bowlers for a brief period of time and departed after scoring 21 runs, with 76 runs on the board. Following Rana’s dismissal, Rahane also perished on Mitchell Santner’s delivery as he got caught by Ravindra Jadeja, leaving the team’s total at 87/3 in 11.4 overs.

KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings came to the crease and anchored the innings. The duo took the score to 123 but before they could take their side through the victory line, Billings got dismissed by Bravo for 25 runs.

Later, Shreyas, who was then joined by Sheldon Jackson, ended the match with a boundary with 6 wickets and 9 balls remaining in hand.

Earlier, Dhoni scored an unbeaten half-century to provide CSK, which was led by Jadeja, with a respectable total of 131/5, after they faced an early loss of wickets.

CSK will now be facing Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in their next clash on March 31 while KKR will be going up against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on March 30.

Brief score: Chennai Super Kings (Dhoni 50*, Jadeja 26*; Umesh Yadav 2/20) vs Kolkata Knight Riders 133/4 (Rahane 44, Billings 25; Bravo 3/20). (ANI)

Pakistan Politics : Will Imran Khan resign at Sunday’s rally in Islamabad?

Islamabad [Pakistan]: The renaming of Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Office YouTube channel has triggered speculation that the beleaguered Imran Khan may step down as Prime Minister at the public rally called by him in Islamabad on Sunday.

The rally is a show of strength by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the opposition is geared up for a no-trust vote in the National Assembly to oust his government. Imran Khan faces mounting economic and social challenges as his government battles corruption allegations levelled by the opposition.
The change in the YouTube channel’s name on Saturday has raised eyebrows. The channel had a verified tick when it was named Prime Minister’s Office and has now been renamed ‘Imran Khan’.

Imran Khan has been hard-hitting in his counter-offensive at the opposition terming Pakistan oppositions “dacoits” and has urged people to come in large numbers to Islamabad’s Parade Ground on March 27.

“I want my people to come to Parade Ground tomorrow, tomorrow we will show a sea of people!” PTI said in a tweet referring to Imran Khan.

The political challenges have mounted for Imran Khan even as his government is negotiating with IMF on USD 6 billion rescue package and battling unemployment and price rise.

The no-confidence motion was submitted by opposition parties on March 8 after the PPP’s long march in Islamabad. The Opposition is confident that its motion would be carried as many PTI lawmakers have come out in the open against PM Imran Khan.

As the crucial no-confidence motion session inches closer and uncertainty continues to shroud political alliances, at least fifty ministers belonging to the ruling party have gone ‘missing’ from the political front, Express Tribune said on Friday citing sources.

More than 50 of the federal and provincial ministers have not been seen in public since the opposition began stacking up perils against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the report said.

Imran Khan had on Wednesday said he will not “resign under any circumstances” amid mounting pressure from the opposition.

“I will not resign under any circumstance. I will play till the last ball and I will surprise them a day before as they are still under pressure. My trump card is that I have not laid any of my cards yet,” he had said.

Najam Sethi, a Pakistani journalist, said that Imran Khan has no “surprise” to give on Sunday and his ‘mind games” are meant for the military establishment and the judiciary for “positive” results.

“Imran Khan has no “surprise” to give tomorrow. He is playing “mind games” (big jalsas, good vs evil, high moral ground, etc) of which he is a self-confessed master! These “mind games” are meant to prey on the Miltablishment and Judiciary for “positive” results!” Sethi said in a tweet.

According to Geo News, Khan had said earlier this week that he had good relations with the military. But Pakistan army seems to have lost trust in Khan over his stance leading to a stand-off over the appointment of the intelligence agency’s – ISI chief.

The Pakistani National Assembly has 342 members and Imran Khan needs the support of 172 members to prove his majority.

The PTI led coalition was formed with the support of 179 members – PTI (155 members) and four major allies MQM-P, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) having seven, five, five and three members respectively.

Imran Khan and his party members are trying every trick under their sleeves to avert turmoil.

After the move of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan’s government got deferred to March 28 in the National Assembly, his party has intensified its efforts to woo its allies.

Opposition parties have said that Khan, who had come to power on the slogan of fighting corruption, was “found hiding crucial information” from the Election Commission of Pakistan regarding foreign funding case.

According to News International, The State Bank of Pakistan’s documents handed over to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the PTI foreign funding case show that information about transactions worth more than USD 2 million dollars from 14 different foreign countries and hundreds of millions rupees’ local transactions into the party’s bank accounts was not provided to the ECP authorities.

The report said the documents also show that Imran Khan’s PTI received USD 29,800 donations in 2013 from a businesswoman and her Pakistani American husband but their donation was also concealed from the ECP. (ANI)

Petrol, diesel prices hiked again; total increase of Rs 3.20 per litre in 5 days

New Delhi [India]: With the hike of 80 paise in prices of petrol and diesel on Saturday, the rates have been increased by Rs 3.20 per litre in five days.

After the latest price revision, petrol in Delhi will be sold at Rs 98.61 per litre and diesel at Rs 89.87 per litre.
The petrol will cost Rs 113.35 after an increase of by 84 paise and after the hike by 85 paise diesel will be sold at Rs 97.55 in the finance capital Mumbai. In Mumbai, the prices are the highest among all the metros cities.

After November last year, on March 22 the fuel prices were hiked for the first time. Since then the prices are continuously increasing.

On November 2 last year the petrol price was hiked by Rs 35 per litre paise and on November 1 the diesel price was raised by 35 paise per litre.

On November 3 last year the Centre had cut excise duty by Rs 5 per litre on petrol and Rs 10 per litre on diesel to bring down the retail prices across the country. Following this, several state governments reduced Value-Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel to provide relief to people. (ANI)

UP: Yogi as CM, drops 24 ministers, inducts fresh faces in Cabinet

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: The Yogi Adityanath Cabinet 2.0 made space for fresh faces by dropping as many as 24 ministers from the first term of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

The Ministers who failed to find places in the second term of the BJP government in the state included Dinesh Sharma, Satish Mahana, Ashutosh Tandon, Shrikant Sharma, Siddharth Nath Singh, and others.
The BJP leader Yogi Adityanath on Friday took oath for his second consecutive term as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

A total of 52 ministers, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak, were sworn in on Friday.

Among those who have not been made ministers are Mohsin Raza, Jai Prakash Nishad, Ram Naresh Agnihotri, Ashok Kataria, Jai Prakash Nishad, and Ramapati Shastri.

Neelkanth Tiwari from Varanasi, who was Minister of State with independent charge last time, is also missing from the list of ministers.

Neelkanth held departments like charitable work and tourism. PM Modi’s dream project Kashi Vishwanath corridor was built under his supervision. Vishwanath Temple corridor comes in the southern Varanasi city from where Neelkanth Tiwari is the MLA.

Dinesh Sharma, who previously served as the Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has been dropped from the Yogi cabinet. In his place, Brajesh Pathak along with Keshav Prasad Maurya were sworn in as Deputy CMs.

On the other hand, the BJP MLA from Mathura as well as Energy Minister in the first term, Shrikant Sharma, also did not find a place in the Yogi Cabinet. Sharma had defeated Congress’ Pradeep Mathur by a massive margin of 1,09,803 votes in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022.

In addition, Satish Mahana who previously served as Infrastructure and Industrial Development minister in Uttar Pradesh has also been dropped from the new Cabinet in the state.

The BJP won 255 seats in Uttar Pradesh with its allies in the state in the recently held Assembly elections. The Chief Minister is expected to carry the momentum of the party’s electoral victory to fulfil the poll promises and give a further push for the development of the state in his second term. (ANI)

Sheena Bora Murder: CBI opposes Indrani Mukerjea’s SC bail plea for ‘heinous act’

New Delhi [India]: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has opposed in the Supreme Court the plea of Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, saying she has committed a “heinous act of planning and killing her own daughter” and “such a gruesome act does not deserve leniency”.

The CBI in an affidavit filed before the apex court vehemently opposed Indrani Mukerjea’s bail plea saying she has committed the offence of murder of her own daughter and attempt to murder of her own son.
Indrani Mukerjea is an influential person in the society who can influence the witnesses who are yet to be examined and there is apprehension that she may tamper with the evidence, said the CBI while adding that she is not trustworthy and reliable hence her bail plea should be dismissed.

“There is every apprehension that she will threaten, intimidate or induce the prosecution witnesses, will tamper with the evidence and will abscond if enlarged on bail. Further, CBI has not filed a closure report as alleged, only further investigation has been concluded. Charge sheet have already been filed in the trial court,” the affidavit stated.

The prosecution has strong apprehension that in case she is released on bail, she may abscond which shall seriously hamper the ongoing trial of the case as the accused is a British national, the CBI further stated.

As the matter came up for hearing today, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai granted two weeks to Mukerjea to file a response on CBI’s affidavit.

Mukerjea has challenged the Bombay High Court order of November 16, 2021, denying her bail. Earlier, the bench had asked the CBI to file an affidavit on her bail plea.

Filing the affidavit, the CBI strongly opposed the plea of Mukerjea saying it is liable to be rejected in view of the fact that there is no substance or merit in the same and she has miserably failed to show any new grounds entitling her for grant of bail other than the grounds which were mentioned before the Bombay High Court, the investigating agency said.

“Applicant (Indrani Mukerjea) has committed very serious offences and the same cannot be treated like an ordinary case and as such the petitioner herein does not deserve any leniency from this Court,” the CBI said.

It further said that prison authorities of Byculla Women’s Prison have round the clock medical facilities to attend to any emergency and proper treatment, and due attention is being provided by the jail authorities to Indrani Mukerjea.

The offence committed by Mukerjea is very serious in nature and she is not entitled to any leniency from this Court on medical grounds, it said.

The allegation that Sheena Bora was alive after April 2012 based on the SMS exchange between Sheena Bora and Rahul Mukherjea after April 24, 2012, is only the “figment of the imagination of the petitioner”, the CBI told the apex court.

There is sufficient evidence available in the present case which proves the guilt of Mukerjea and other co-accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

Indrani Mukerjea, facing trial for allegedly killing her daughter Sheena Bora, is currently lodged at the Byculla women’s prison in Mumbai following her arrest in August 2015.

She had sent a letter from the jail to CBI stating that Sheena Bora is alive. She also asked CBI to record a statement of a jail inmate who claimed to have met Sheena in Kashmir.

In her letter to the investigating agency, she stated that an inmate in Byculla prison had told her that she had spotted Sheena in Kashmir some time ago. In her letter, Indrani has requested the CBI to look into the possibility of Sheena being alive.

Mukerjea has always maintained that Sheena has not been murdered and is alive and had gone abroad for her education in 2012, although she could never prove her claims in any way.

The CBI has been investigating the Sheena Bora case since 2015, after taking over the case from Mumbai Police. According to the case registered by Mumbai Police, Sheena Bora was kidnapped and murdered by strangulation in April 2012. This case first came to light after the arrest of Indrani Mukerjea’s driver, Shyamvar Rai in another case in August 2015.

During the investigation, he confessed to having murdered Sheena Bora in April 2012 and said that he dumped her body in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. He had also told Mumbai Police that Sheena’s mother, Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna (ex-husband of Indrani) were also involved in this murder.

According to CBI’s case before the court, Indrani Mukerjea killed Sheena Bora because she was furious over the relationship between Sheena Bora, whom she introduced as her sister to everyone, and Rahul Mukerjea, son of Peter Mukerjea (third husband of Indrani Mukerjea) from his first marriage.

According to the CBI, Mukerjea killed Sheena Bora as Sheena was threatening to expose her in public over the fact that she was not her sister, but her daughter, CBI said. Driver Shyamvar Rai turned approver in this case.

Peter Mukerjea was given bail by a special CBI court in March 2020. During the trial of the case, Indrani and Peter decided to end their relationship too. They were given divorce by a family court in Mumbai in October 2019. (ANI)

Birbhum arson reverberates in RS, BJP MP Roopa Ganguly breaks down

New Delhi [India]: The unfortunate arson incident in West Bengal’s Birbhum that occurred early this week reverberated the Rajya Sabha on Friday with BJP leader from the state Roopa Ganguly breaking down over the tragedy while targetting the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government, causing adjournment of the House for 10 minutes till 12.10 pm following ruckus.

“Being born in Bengal is not a crime”, said Ganguly while crying and wiping her tears, and mentioning “eight people, including two children, were burnt to death, Deputy Chairman sir”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s attack during Zero Hour drew retaliation from TMC members, sloganeering against the BJP government in Centre and then the party leader trooping into the well of the House.

Several MPs belonging to Bengal from treasury benches also came in support of Ganguly and they hit out at the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Despite repeated requests from Deputy Chairman Harivansh, the members from treasury benches and the TMC continued sloganeering against each other.

Amid the din, the Deputy Chairman tried to run the Zero Hour. As the ruckus continued, he then adjourned the House for 10 minutes till 12.10 pm.

Ganguly raised the issue three days after a nine-member delegation of BJP MPs from West Bengal met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and sought his intervention and action against the perpetrators involved in the crime.

Following the meeting, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday sought a detailed report from the West Bengal government over the arson incident which claimed lives of eight people after some houses were set on fire in the state’s Birbhum district.

Around 10-12 houses were set on fire by the mob on Monday night and charred bodies were recovered by the police on Tuesday morning.

The burnt bodies of eight people were found on Tuesday morning after houses were set on fire in Bogtui village in West Bengal’s Birbhum in protests over the alleged murder of a Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh– the deputy chief of the Barshal gram panchayat and a resident of Bogtui who died in a bomb attack late on Monday night.

Director-General of Police (DGP) West Bengal, Manoj Malviya informed on Tuesday that 11 arrests had been made in the case so far. (ANI)

UP: Yogi Adityanath will take oath as CM today in a grand ceremony

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Yogi Adityanath was on Thursday elected as the Leader of the BJP Legislative Party in Uttar Pradesh, ahead of him taking oath as the chief minister of the state for a second consecutive term.

Addressing BJP MLAS in Lucknow, an emotional Yogi Adityanath said: “For the first time, a Chief Minister completed his five-year tenure and the party came to power once again for the second time (in Uttar Pradesh). This has happened for the first time. It has happened under the guidance and leadership of PM Modi.”
Adityanath was elected as leader of the BJP legislature party in UP in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

In the recent Assembly polls, the BJP retained power in Uttar Pradesh by winning 255 out of 403 constituencies.

“There were several development projects successfully carried out in Uttar Pradesh in last 5 years with the support of PM Modi. For the first time, people realised that homes for poor could be built, for the first time people realised that UP can be riot free,” Adityanath said.

The chief minister who is also a five-time MP from Gorakhpur highlighted that people of Uttar Pradesh were firm in the belief that “Modi hai toh mumkin hai.” “We have to work together again for the betterment of the state. Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in the country, there is a lot of work I have to do in the coming years,” Adityanath said.

Adityanath will take oath as UP chief minister at Ekana Stadium in Lucknow tomorrow where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and BJP senior leadership is expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony.

Adityanath will be the first Chief Minister in the last 37 years to return to power after completing a full term in the state. (ANI)

Birbhum Violence: CM Mamata Banerjee reaches Bagtui village

Birbhum (West Bengal) [India]: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee on Thursday reached Bagtui village in Rampurhat to meet the kin of those who were killed in the Birbhum violence.

A total of eight people were burnt to death in the Rampurhat area of West Bengal’s Birbhum on Tuesday after a mob allegedly set houses on fire following the killing of Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh.
Ahead of Banerjee’s visit to Rampurhat, Superintendent of Police of Birbhum, Nagendra Nath Tripathi inspected the village along with a large contingent of the police personnel.

Following the direction of the Calcutta High Court, CCTV cameras are being installed in the violence-affected area of Rampurhat. Taking suo motu cognisance of the Rampurhat incident, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to install CCTV cameras for round-the-clock surveillance. The Court has also directed the state government to submit a status report on the incident in 24 hours (by around 2 pm on Thursday).

A special investigation team has been formed to probe the matter. (ANI)

UK to provide USD 5.4 million to tackle ‘disinformation’ in Russia, Ukraine

London [UK]: The UK government will allocate more than 4 million pounds sterling (USD 5.4 million) to the BBC World Service for the information war against Russia, the UK Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“The UK will also provide an additional GBP 4.1 million for the BBC World Service as part of a cross-government effort to tackle disinformation in Russia and Ukraine, as well as new financial and policing support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes,” the statement said.
“[The] emergency funding to support its Ukrainian and Russian language services in the region… has been provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and FCDO,” it said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier said “the BBC… corporation in Russia is far from playing the last role in undermining domestic political stability and security in our country.”

On March 4, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked the websites of a number of publications, including the BBC Russian service. The reason for the restriction was “the purposeful placement on a systematic basis of information materials containing false information about the essence of the special military operation in Ukraine.” (ANI/Sputnik)

 

BSE seeks clarification from Paytm as stock dips 75 pc from issue price

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: The country’s leading stock exchange BSE has sought a clarification from Paytm’s parent firm One 97 Communications over the sharp drop in its share price of the company.

The share price of One 97 Communications Ltd slumped 3.59 per cent to Rs 524.40 at the BSE on Wednesday. This is nearly 75 per cent down from its issue price of Rs 2150 per share.
“The exchange has sought clarification from One 97 Communications on March 22, 2022 with reference to significant movement in price, in order to ensure that investors have latest relevant information about the company and to inform the market so that the interest of the investors is safeguarded,” BSE, formerly known as Bombay Stock Exchange, said in a statement.

The market capitalisation of One 97 Communications stood at Rs 1,39,432.7 crore at issue price of Rs 2150. It has now plunged to Rs 35,273.23 crore. In just four months the company’s market capitalisation has been eroded by Rs 1.04 lakh crore.

In a reply to the clarification sought by the stock exchange, One 97 Communications said, “We would like to inform you that our Company has been complying with Regulation 30 of the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (Listing Regulations) and have, from time to time, made all necessary disclosures to the Stock Exchanges within stipulated timeline.”

“Further, as on date, there is no information/ announcement, which in our opinion may have a bearing on the price/volume behaviour in the scrip of the Company and which is yet not disclosed to the Stock Exchanges,” Amit Khera, Company Secretary & Compliance Officer, One 97 Communications, said in the letter.

“The Company would also like to point out the business fundamentals remain robust as demonstrated in our last earning release dated February 04, 2022,” he said.

“We would like to reiterate that the Company is committed to comply with the Listing Regulations and any information/ announcement, likely to have bearing on the price/ volume of the shares of the Company would be disclosed, from time to time, to the Stock Exchanges within stipulated timeline,” Khera added in the letter. (ANI)

 

Rahul Gandhi to meet Haryana Congress leaders on March 25

New Delhi [India]: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will hold a meeting with senior party leaders of Haryana on March 25 to discuss programmes and strategies as part of preparations for assembly polls in 2024, sources said.

Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, AICC in-charge of state Vivek Bansal, party general secretary Randeep Surjewala, state party chief Kumari Selja, party MP Deepender Hooda and party leader Captain Ajay Yadav will be among those present in the meeting, the sources said.
They said senior leaders from the state have been called to the meeting to discuss and formulate strategies for the assembly polls. The Congress has lost two consecutive assembly polls in Haryana and fared poorly in the Lok Sabha polls also.

Having faced drubbing in assembly polls in five states, the Congress is keen to start preparing early for the forthcoming polls.

At the meeting of Congress Working Committee meeting (CWC) held to review the party’s performance in the assembly polls, some leaders are believed to have emphasised that changes in the organisation should be made at least one year ahead of elections.

A meeting of Congress leaders from Haryana was also held at 15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road earlier this month. (ANI)

Big blow to Imran Khan, 3 major allies join opposition

Islamabad [Pakistan]: In a big blow to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ahead of the no-confidence vote, three major allies of the ruling government have decided to join the opposition alliance, local media reported.

Three major coalition partners of the ruling government, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) have decided to stand with the Opposition, Geo News reported citing sources.
The sources said that all three allies of the ruiling government will soon (expectedly till March 25) announce to join the Opposition in the campaign to oust Imran Khan.

Imran Khan’s party is facing an internal revolt, with several members of the National Assembly (MNAs) deserting the PTI and joining the opposition ranks.

Earlier, around 24 lawmakers announced to vote in favour of the no-trust move and dissociated themselves from the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

The Opposition parties in Pakistan had submitted the no-trust motion in the National Assembly secretariat on March 8. While the PTI government has exuded confidence to defeat the no-trust motion, the Opposition is sure that they will oust Khan.

Moreover, Khan has warned the opposition that he would be more dangerous for them if ousted from power. He has also called for a rally in the capital on March 27 to mobilise his support base or whatever is left of it.

Notably, in the 342-member National Assembly, the Imran Khan government requires at least 172 members to sail through the no-confidence vote. (ANI)

 

Kashmiri Muslims suffered 50 times more than Pandits in 1990s: Sajad Lone

Anantnag (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Calling ‘The Kashmir Files’ a work of fiction, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone on Tuesday said that the maker of the film will drown the country in hatred while also stating that Kashmiri Muslims have suffered 50 times more than Pandits.

“There is no doubt about injustice to the Kashmiri Pandits. Kashmiri Muslims have suffered 50 times more than Pandits. You cannot document the pain of just one community. We are all in it together. I have lost my own father to bullets,” Lone, a former minister in Jammu and Kashmir, said.
He further said that Kashmiri Muslims in the 1990s were as helpless as Pandits.

“Everyone has suffered here, although they (the filmmakers) have exaggerated… But the main objective of Vivek Agnihotri (director of the film) is not to show the pain of Pandits but to only sow seeds of hatred between different communities. He doesn’t know that Pandits are living with us even today. Has he thought about them? They are our brothers and we love them but in the 1990s we were as helpless as the Kashmiri Pandits,” he added.

“I appeal to Prime Minister to make him (Vivek Aghintori) Rajya Sabha MP. Otherwise, I don’t know what else he will make. There is a new trend now that people like Vivek Aghintori and Anupam Kher are desperate to go to Rajya Sabha. They should be sent to Rajya Sabha, otherwise, they will drown this country in hatred,” Lone said while speaking to media persons here.

The film, which focuses on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s, has been mired in controversy since its release on March 11 with the BJP and Opposition parties sparring over the portrayal of the incidents.

The movie, which was released in theatres on March 11, stars Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Darshan Kumaar, and others.

The movie revolves around the killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s and has been directed by Vivek Agnihotri, known for films like ‘Tashkent Files’, ‘Hate Story’ and ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’. (ANI)

 

Macron holds talks with Putin, Zelenskyy to discuss terms of ceasefire

Paris [France]: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy and discussed about the terms of a potential ceasefire in Ukraine, said a media report citing the French presidency.

As per the official statement, Putin and Zelenskyy reached “no agreement,” however, Macron “remains convinced of the need to continue his efforts” as he “stands alongside Ukraine”, France 24 reported.
Further, the Kremlin confirmed that Putin and Macron had a call in which they exchanged views about the current Ukraine situation, including the talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators.

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against the Kyiv forces.

Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and that only military infrastructure is being targeted – the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the goal is to protect the people of Donbas, “who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.”

However, the Western countries have strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow. (ANI)

 

Kerala leaders trying to fill their pockets under garb of SilverLine project: MoS Muraleedharan

New Delhi [India]: Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan alleged that some leaders in the Kerala government are trying to make money and fill their pockets in the name of development under the garb of the SilverLine rail project.

“In the name of development, the state government and some of the leaders in the government wants to make some money, fill their pockets. That is the goal of this (SilverLine)project,” said Muraleedharan on Tuesday.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader claimed this project will not bring in any development to the state instead it will only displace the people whose lands are being acquired by the government for this project.

“Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is trying to mislead people. The Silver Line project will not bring any development instead it will only displace people,” he said.

Further, adding that Union Railway Ministry has not given approval for the SilverLine rail project.

“Railway Minister has mentioned in the Parliament that they have not given any approval for this project,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vijayan on Tuesday said that Left Democratic Front (LDF) led Kerala government will implement the protested SilverLine project while assuring that the state government would pay four times the prevailing market prices as compensation for acquiring land.

“The LDF government will implement the SilverLine project. There are attempts to mislead people. It is natural that people whose land is being acquired for the project will be disappointed. But I want to tell you that the government will pay four times the market price as compensation,” said Vijayan.

People across Kerala are protesting against SilverLine project. The first major protest happened in Kottayam’s Madampally on March 18.

The 529-km SilverLine railway project will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in north Kerala, covering 11 districts through 11 stations. The journey between two stations is expected to take four hours, whereas it currently takes 12 hours to reach from one end to another.

It is also being opposed by the opposition Congress-led UDF, which has been alleging that the project is “unscientific and impractical” and will put a huge financial burden on the state. (ANI)

Kerala leaders trying to fill their pockets under garb of SilverLine project: MoS Muraleedharan

New Delhi [India], March 23 (ANI): Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan alleged that some leaders in the Kerala government are trying to make money and fill their pockets in the name of development under the garb of the SilverLine rail project.

“In the name of development, the state government and some of the leaders in the government wants to make some money, fill their pockets. That is the goal of this (SilverLine)project,” said Muraleedharan on Tuesday.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader claimed this project will not bring in any development to the state instead it will only displace the people whose lands are being acquired by the government for this project.

“Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is trying to mislead people. The Silver Line project will not bring any development instead it will only displace people,” he said.

Further, adding that Union Railway Ministry has not given approval for the SilverLine rail project.

“Railway Minister has mentioned in the Parliament that they have not given any approval for this project,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vijayan on Tuesday said that Left Democratic Front (LDF) led Kerala government will implement the protested SilverLine project while assuring that the state government would pay four times the prevailing market prices as compensation for acquiring land.

“The LDF government will implement the SilverLine project. There are attempts to mislead people. It is natural that people whose land is being acquired for the project will be disappointed. But I want to tell you that the government will pay four times the market price as compensation,” said Vijayan.

People across Kerala are protesting against SilverLine project. The first major protest happened in Kottayam’s Madampally on March 18.

The 529-km SilverLine railway project will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in north Kerala, covering 11 districts through 11 stations. The journey between two stations is expected to take four hours, whereas it currently takes 12 hours to reach from one end to another.

It is also being opposed by the opposition Congress-led UDF, which has been alleging that the project is “unscientific and impractical” and will put a huge financial burden on the state. (ANI)

Birbhum arson: Mamata Banerjee urges Governor not to make unwarranted statements, allow Govt. to probe

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Amid the row over Birbhum violence that took the lives of eight people, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday urged Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar “to refrain from making unwarranted statements and allow the administration to conduct an impartial probe.”

“It pains me that you have chosen an unfortunate incident which occurred in Rampurhat on March 21, 2022 that resulted in the loss of precious lives, to pass sweeping and uncalled for comments on the law and order situation in the State. The State administration has taken immediate steps not only to take action against the local police officers posted in the sub-division but also formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the cause of the incident. 10 persons have so far been arrested.”
“Whenever such incident takes place, it is highly improper to make sweeping and uncalled for statement instead of paving the way for impartial investigation However, you have commented in your tweet that the horrifying violence and arson. indicates that the State is under a grip of violence and lawlessness. This is highly unfortunate and unbecoming of a person holding such a dignified constitutional post,” said the TMC supremo.

Banerjee said Governor Dhankhar’s comments were not forthcoming whenever much more heinous incidents happened in BJP-ruled States and also in other parts of the country. She said whenever an unfortunate incident happens in West Bengal, Dghankhar leaves no stone unturned to castigate and malign the State government.

“Your utterances and statements have political overtones which provide support to other political parties to browbeat the government. Therefore, I would like to request you to kindly refrain from making unwarranted statements and allow the administration to conduct an impartial investigation to find out the truth and take exemplary action against those involved in the incident,” urged the chief minister.

Banerjee’s letter to Governor comes after Dhankhar in a Twitter post said that horrifying violence and arson orgy at Rampurhat, Birbhum indicates the state is in grip of violence culture and lawlessness.

“Violence at Rampurhat indicates an alarming situation in West Bengal. Law and order situation is nosediving in the state. Bengal is a laboratory of violation of human rights. I want to cooperate with the government, provided lawful procedure takes place,” Dhankhar said.

As many as eight people were burnt to death in the Rampurhat area of West Bengal’s Birbhum on Tuesday after a mob allegedly set houses on fire following the killing of Trinamool Congress leader Bahadur Shaikh.

Director-General of Police (DGP) West Bengal, Manoj Malviya informed that 11 arrests have been made in the case so far. He further informed that Bahadur Shaikh’s murder was reported last night, an hour after which 7-8 houses nearby had caught fire.

A special investigation team has been formed to probe the matter. (ANI)

 

Lalu Prasad Yadav’s health worsens, shifted to AIIMS

Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India]: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav is being taken to the AIIMS Delhi from Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) here on Tuesday after his health condition worsened.

“It was found that he has issues in his heart and kidney. He is being sent to AIIMS Delhi for better treatment. The jail officials will decide (the date),” said Kameshwar Prasad, Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) Director.

The Jharkhand High Court on March 11 differed the hearing on the bail plea of Yadav till April 1 in connection with a fodder scam case.

Earlier in February, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court had sentenced Yadav to five years imprisonment in the fifth fodder scam case and imposed a fine of Rs 60 lakh on him.

Yadav was declared guilty in the fodder scam case on February 15. He was found guilty of illegal withdrawals of Rs 139.35 crore from the Doranda treasury by a special CBI court in Jharkhand’s Ranchi.

The Rs 950-crore fodder scam (the total scam of five fodder scams, Lalu has been proven guilty of) relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of public funds from government treasuries in various districts of undivided Bihar.

The scam came into light after a raid conducted by Deputy Commissioner of Chaibasa Amit Khare at the Animal Husbandry Department in January 1996.

The CBI was roped in by the Patna High Court in March 1996 after increasing pressure to investigate the case. The CBI registered an FIR in the case at a time when Bihar was still undivided.

In June 1997, Yadav was named an accused in the case for the first time in the charge sheet filed by the CBI. (ANI)

Zelenskyy holds talks with Netherlands PM, thanks him for support to Ukrainian people

Kyiv [Ukraine]: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday held talks with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and thanked him for supporting the people of Ukraine amid the ongoing war.

“Held talks with Prime Minister @MinPres. Informed about the struggle against the aggressor, war crimes, shelling of civilian infrastructure. Thanked for the significant support to people. Discussed the course of the peace process. We must stop the war together,” tweeted Zelenskyy.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy has said that there cannot be any “denazification” in the agreement with Russia, reported The Kyiv Independent, a Ukraine-based media outlet.

“When a country that is treading in the footsteps of the Nazi is accusing us of being Nazi – we can’t accept that,” the media outlet quoted him as saying during an interview to Suspilne, a Ukrainian public broadcaster.

Russian forces launched military operations in Ukraine on February 24, three days after Moscow recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics followed by the announcement of a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.

Condemning the Russian military operation, the Western nations have boosted the sanctions pressure on Moscow. (ANI)

 

Daughters of CDS General Bipin Rawat receive his Padma Vibhushan award

New Delhi [India] India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in December last year, was posthumously conferred Padma Vibhushan. His daughters Kritika and Tarini received the award on the CDS’s behalf.

The daughters received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind today.
General Bipin Rawat, who was India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, died in a helicopter crash in December last year. General Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 other defence force personnel had also died in the helicopter crash.

Padma Awards, one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz. art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhavan usually around March/ April every year. This year the President has approved conferment of 128 Padma Awards including two duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one).

The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards. 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 13 posthumous awardees. (ANI)

Daughters of CDS General Bipin Rawat receive his Padma Vibhushan award

New Delhi [India], March 21 (ANI): India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in December last year, was posthumously conferred Padma Vibhushan. His daughters Kritika and Tarini received the award on the CDS’s behalf.

The daughters received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind today.
General Bipin Rawat, who was India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, died in a helicopter crash in December last year. General Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 other defence force personnel had also died in the helicopter crash.

Padma Awards, one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz. art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhavan usually around March/ April every year. This year the President has approved conferment of 128 Padma Awards including two duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one).

The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 107 Padma Shri Awards. 34 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 13 posthumous awardees. (ANI)

AAP nominates Harbhajan Singh, Raghav Chadha to Rajya Sabha from Punjab

 

New Delhi [India]: After a thumping victory in Punjab Assembly polls, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday announced that it has nominated former cricketer Harbhajan Singh and Delhi MLA Raghav Chadha to Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

Harbhajan made his debut in 1998 and the last international match he played was in 2016 but official retirement was announced in 2021.
Chadha is an MLA from Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar and party’s co-incharge in Punjab.

Besides these two, Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Dr Sandeep Pathak to Rajya Sabha. He camped in Punjab for nearly three years and formed an organization at the booth level.

Aam Aadmi Party also nominated Chancellor of Lovely Professional University (LPU), Ashok Mittal to the Upper House. He is known for his work in the field of education – one category of the poll promises of AAP – and social services.

Aam Aadmi Party also nominated founder of Krishna Pran Breast Cancer Care Charitable Trust, Sanjiv Arora to Rajya Sabha.

AAP swept the recent state Assembly elections securing 92 of the 117-member House.

The five Punjab vacancies are arising due to the term of the following Rajya Sabha MPs ending on April 9. The last day for filing the nominations is Monday.

Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and SS Dullo, BJP’s Shwait Malik, SAD’s Naresh Gujral and SS Dhindsa from SAD-Sanyukt are the five Rajya Sabha MPs whose term is approaching the end.

In all, Punjab has seven seats in the Upper House.

The term of SAD’s Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Congress leader Ambika Soni, who are also Rajya Sabha MPs from Punjab, will end on July 4. Elections to these two seats would be held later this year. (ANI)

Over dozen NATO war ships headed to Stockholm, Ukraine seeks help

Brussels [Belgium]: Thirteen warships from several NATO countries are heading to Stockholm after military drills, the Swedish Aftonbladet newspaper reports.

The warships include nine German vessels and four ships from the Baltics that are on their way to Frihamnen Port following the exercise, the newspaper said on Sunday citing the Swedish military.
According to Aftonbladet, the ships’ movement has nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the member states were stepping up their support to Ukraine.

At the end of last month, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against the Kiev forces. Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and that only military infrastructure is being targeted – the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine. (ANI/Sputnik)

 

N Biren Singh elected to be Manipur CM again

Imphal (Manipur) [India]: The State BJP legislature party meeting in Imphal on Sunday unanimously elected Manipur caretaker CM N Biren Singh to be the chief minister again.

BJP central observers Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union law and justice minister Kiren Rijiju along with other party MLAs felicitated the unanimously elected Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh in Imphal.
“It’s a good decision taken unanimously by everyone. It will ensure that Manipur will have a very good, stable and responsible government which will be built further because the Centre today under the leadership of PM Modi gives special attention to the northeast state. Therefore, this decision will go a long way in providing Manipur stability and good governance together,” Sitharaman told media persons after felicitating N Biren Singh.

The BJP central observer further expressed her gratitude to the people of Manipur for electing BJP in the state for the second consecutive term.

“I thank the people of Manipur and I show the people that there will be a very good government which will run for the benefit of all the people here. We will ensure that everyone is included in the process of development,” the Finance minister said.

Meanwhile, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra also congratulated N Biren Singh on being elected as Manipur Chief Minister.

“Hearty congratulations and best wishes to Chief Minister Shri @NBirenSingh ji on being re-elected as the leader of @BJP4Manipur Legislature Party,” Sambit Patra tweeted.

The BJP leaders have been discussing the government formation in Manipur after the BJP won an absolute majority in the state for the first time. It will be the second successive government of the party in the state.

Earlier on Saturday, Singh said he has never contested elections “for CM or any other post” but as a worker of BJP and the party’s central leadership will take a decision on the next chief minister in the state.

The BJP had formed the previous government in the state with the support of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the National People’s Party (NPP) with Biren Singh as Chief Minister. (ANI)

 

BJP Minister suggests introducing Bhagavad Gita in schools across India

New Delhi [India]: Union Minister Pralhad Joshi on Saturday suggested that every state government can think about implementing the Gujarat government’s decision of introducing Bhagavad Gita in schools.

Talking to ANI, Joshi said, “Bhagwad Gita teaches us morality and ethics. It shows us the responsibility towards well being of society. Many moral stories are there that can inspire our students. Every state government can think about that.”
Earlier on Thursday, Gujarat education minister Jitu Vaghani had said that Bhagavad Gita will be introduced as a part of the school syllabus for class 6 to class 12 students in Gujarat from the academic year 2022-23.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly during a discussion on budgetary allocation for the education department, Vaghani had said, “To include Indian culture and knowledge system in school education from the academic year 2022-23, In the first phase, values and principles contained in Bhagavad Gita are being introduced in schools from classes 6-12 as per understanding and interest of children.”

“Bhagavad Gita should be introduced in the form of story and recitation in the textbooks in class 6 to 8. In class 9 to 12, Bhagavad Gita should be introduced in the form of story and recitation in the first language textbook,” the minister had said.

He had said that the 700-verse long Hindu scripture should also be included in the prayer program.

“Recitation of Bhagavad Gita should be included in the prayer program. Various competitions and creative activities like Shlokgan, Shlokpurti, Vaktrutva, Nibandh, Natya, Chitra, Quiz etc based on Bhagavad Gita should be organized in schools,” he had said. (ANI)

 

Japan to invest Rs 3.2 lakh crore in next 5 yrs in India: PM Modi

New Delhi [India]: Japan will invest Rs 3.2 lakh crore in the next five years in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, noting that the two countries have already achieved the investment target that was set in 2014.

In a joint press statement with visiting Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after the 14th summit meeting between the two countries, he said strengthening of bilateral ties will encourage peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and in the world.
He said both India and Japan understand the importance of “secure, trusted, predictable aur stable energy supply” and this is important to achieve goals of sustainable economic growth and dealing with climate change.

“PM Kishida has been an old friend of India. I have had the opportunity to exchange views with him when he was the Foreign Minister of Japan. Japan is one of the largest investors in India,” he said.

“I am happy that we have crossed the investment target of 3.5 trillion Yen set in 2014 and we have decided to increase our aspirations. In the coming five years, we have set a new target of 5 trillion Yen investment i.e. about 3.20 lakh crore,” he added.

The Prime Minister said the world is still coping with the ill effects of COVID-19.

“There are obstacles in the global economic recovery process. The geopolitical developments are also posing new challenges. In this context, it is not only important for India and Japan to strengthen their bilateral partnership but it will encourage peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and in the world,” he said.

He said Japan has made a notable contribution in the flagship projects like Dedicated Freight Corridor aur Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project.

“Good progress is being made on Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail,” the Prime Minister said.

Kishida arrived here in the national capital earlier today for his first visit to India as Japan Prime Minister. The previous India-Japan Annual Summit took place in Tokyo in October 2018. (ANI)

Show 172 votes or ‘go home’, Bilawal Bhutto challenges PM Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has challenged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to either prove that he has the support of the majority in the National Assembly or else “go home”.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Zardari has in his message to the cricketer-turned- Prime Minister Imran Khan said “At this stage, don’t do ball-tampering. Show 172 votes or go back home,” tweeted the Pakistani correspondent for the New York Times, Salman Masood.
Zardari stated that the Opposition would not be “cowed down” by the attacks on them. The Opposition is seeking to oust Khan in a vote that could come as soon as this month.

Several of Khan’s lawmakers have withdrawn their support to him ahead of the crucial no confidence vote.

Earlier, the Pakistani PM had attacked Opposition by using police to barge into Parliament Lodges and make arrests and subsequently workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers attacked the Sindh House in Islamabad in an attempt to terrorise the opposition leaders.

The workers were angry against the dissident members who were staying inside the building. The PPP chairperson stated that the Pakistani PM violated Article 6 of the Constitution by using force.

The Opposition parties in Pakistan are jettisoning mutual hatred to oust Imran Khan as they submitted the no-trust motion in the National Assembly secretariat on March 8. While the Imran Khan government has exuded confidence to defeat the no-trust motion, the Opposition is sure that they will oust Khan.

The resolution needs to be passed by 172 MNAs and the Opposition faces the tough task to bring that number not only in the National Assembly but also ensuring that they remain inside the Assembly hall during the voting time.

Notably, if Imran Khan is voted out through the motion, it would create history as a vote of no-confidence has never been carried against the prime minister in Pakistan. (ANI)

 

PDM to hold long march against Imran Khan on March 27

Islamabad [Pakistan]: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has amended its plan to hold a long march on March 27 in order to counter the Imran Khan government, local media reported.

PDM amended its plan after Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tareek-e-Insaf (PTI) government planned to hold a rally at Islamabad’s D-Chowk on March 27. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a key ally of the PTI-led government, has advised both the ruling party and the opposition to call off their rallies as they could lead to a violent clash, Dawn newspaper reported.
“The long march will enter Islamabad on March 27 and it may stay there for two or more days. The decision has been taken in the light of directives of the party leadership — Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif,” Punjab Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s secretary-general Sardar Awais Leghari said.

Last week, the PDM had put back the arrival of its march in Islamabad to March 25 from March 23 because of the OIC foreign ministers’ meeting, Dawn newspaper reported.

According to the schedule, the party will kick its trek from Lahore on March 24. Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N vice president, and Hamza Shehbaz will lead the cavalcade. It will reach Gujranwala the next day and stay there for the night.

On March 26, the activists will leave for Rawalpindi, where contingents from other parts of the country will reach the next day and leave together for Islamabad, the Pakistani newspaper reported.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a call to workers of his party to reach D-Chowk on March 27 for the country’s “biggest-ever rally”, Dawn newspaper reported. (ANI)

 

Chinese fighter jets, helicopters enter Taiwan’s air defense zone

Taipei [Taiwan]: Hours after Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, two Shenyang J-11 fighter jets and a Harbin Z-9 anti-submarine helicopter entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Friday.

The Ministry of National Defense informed that Taiwan’s Air Force jets issued radio warnings telling the Chinese aircraft to turn back immediately, reported Taiwan News.
The military also said it deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the activities of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force jets and helicopter.

The aircraft was spotted during the day in the southwest sector of the ADIZ off the coast of Taiwan’s main island, the Liberty Times reported.

Because there was no land close to the area where the helicopter appeared, speculation was that it had taken off from a Chinese navy vessel, reported Taiwan News.

China’s Shandong carrier earlier sailed past the island of Kinmen before heading north through the Taiwan Strait.

The United States guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was shadowing the Chinese ship, while vessels from Taiwan’s Navy were also present in the area, according to the report. (ANI)

 

Russia ‘will not allow’ S-300 air defence system transfer from Slovakia to Ukraine

Kyiv [Ukraine]:  Russia has threatened to attack supply chains of S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine after Slovakia announced that it is willing to support Kyiv by providing the said defence system, reported local media on Friday (Local Time).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow “will not allow” the transfer of the S-300 air defence system, reported The Kyiv Independent.
Earlier on Thursday, Slovakia’s defence ministry said that the country is willing to send S-300 long-range air defence systems to Ukraine provided that Western allies give them a “proper replacement” to avoid creating a security gap, reported The Washington Post.

In a key development, US-based satellite, Terran Orbital is providing Ukraine with crucial strategic assistance. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, the satellite producer is sharing critical data and images of the Russian troops’ movement with the conflict-ridden country.

“This critical information helps us defend our country from kremlin’s aggression & terrorism,” wrote Ukraine’s MoD in a tweet.

As the war rages on, the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen reiterated the EU’s commitment towards Ukraine amid Russia’s aggression. In a virtual call, von der Leyen assured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the EU’s ‘unabated support’.

The EU President praised the cohesion policy of the union that is helping the Ukrainian refugees to sought shelter in the EU countries at this time of dire need.

“Cohesion policy has long been the silent strength of our Union. Helping us grow closer together. And today, cohesion policy can help EU countries welcome Ukrainian refugees, quickly and humanely,” wrote von der Leyen in a tweet.

On February 24, Russia began a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics requested help in defending themselves.

Russia has been facing immense pressure from the international community to stop its military operations in Ukraine which has created an immense humanitarian crisis with thousands of refugees from Ukraine fleeing to the neighbouring countries to the West. (ANI)

 

Dalai Lama makes first public appearance after two years in Dharamshala

Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) [India]: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama made his first public appearance on Friday in Dharamshala in about two years since the COVID pandemic hit the country.

The 14th Dalai Lama delivered teachings from the Jataka Tales followed by the ceremony for generating Bodhichitta (semkye) at the main Tibetan Temple Tsuglakhang.
Addressing the gathering, he said that he was scheduled to go to Delhi for a regular health check-up but did not do so as he was in good health.

Thousands of Tibetans including monks, nuns, MPs, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) president and his Cabinet ministers in-exile gathered for the spiritual discourse.

Tenzing Jigme, a Tibetan Parliamentarian said, “This is a very beautiful day and we are getting to see His Holiness for more than two years. One of the most fortunate things about today is His Holiness said that he is fine and he is healthy. We pray for the long life of His Holiness. We are really feeling happy and blessed to see His Holiness healthy and fine.”

Another visitor, Sandra from Romania, who visited the country for the first time to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama, said, “It is my first time in India and in Dharamshala. It is really wonderful to see him. It was his first teaching after the pandemic and it’s wonderful to be here.”

Calling it an “auspicious” occasion, another foreign tourist, Velre said, “We have gathered here to celebrate and pray for peace and happiness of all sentient beings.” (ANI)

 

Pakistan: Sindh to retaliate if Imran Khan imposes governor’s rule in province, warns Sindh CM

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Sindh Province’s Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday warned the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government over imposing governor’s rule in his province and said that the people will retaliate against this “unconstitutional move”.

“Let me categorically state that any unconstitutional move by the federal government to impose the governor’s rule in Sindh will provoke an unprecedented retaliation from the people of Sindh,” Pakistani channel Geo News reported citing Syed Murad Ali Shah’s tweet.
His statement comes after the Pakistani interior minister Sheikh Rasheed said that he advised the government to impose the governor’s rule in Sindh in the wake of the alleged horse-trading controversy.

A few hours ago, PTI’s Members of National Assembly (MNAs) Raja Riaz and Malik Nawab Sher Waseer claimed that about 24 MNAs have sought refuge in Sindh house, fearing that the Pakistani government would take strict steps against them.

Riaz, who is a member of the Jahangir Tareen group, told journalist Hamid Mir that the disgruntled members would vote for the no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan in “accordance with their conscience.”

Waseer also said he would not contest the next general elections on a PTI ticket. Meanwhile, MNA Ramesh Kumar announced that he has parted ways with the PTI, reported Geo News.

Amid this chaos, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is leaving no opportunity to oust Imran Khan. PPP’s MNA Abdul Qadir Patel said that the disgruntled members of the PTI are “living peacefully in Sindh House,” and “will leave after ousting Niazi [Imran Khan],” according to Geo News.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said that there were reports of the transfer of huge amounts of money to Sindh House.

The Opposition parties in Pakistan had submitted the no-trust motion in the National Assembly secretariat on March 8. While the PTI government has exuded confidence to defeat the no-trust motion, the Opposition is sure that they will oust Khan. (ANI)

 

Ghulam Azad, other G-23 leaders to meet Sonia Gandhi, Rahul soon

New Delhi [India]: Days after a meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC) in which the party’s abysmal performance in the recently held Assembly polls in five states was termed as a “cause of serious concern”, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and some other members of the G-23 group will meet interim party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi soon.

The time of the meeting is yet to be finalized.
“After talking to Sonia Gandhi, we will fix the timing of the meeting (with Azad and other G-23 leaders) and inform about the same,” Rahul Gandhi said, according to sources.

Earlier, only Azad was scheduled to meet Sonia Gandhi.

G-23 leaders, who have been calling for sweeping reforms in the grand old party, met on Wednesday to discuss the party’s debacle in the recently concluded Assembly elections in five states – Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Goa. Party leaders Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Mani Shankar Aiyar, PJ Kurien, Preneet Kaur, Sandeep Dikshit and Raj Babbar were among those present.

Former Haryana Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda met Rahul Gandhi on Thursday. Hooda, a G 23 leader, was the first to reach out to the Congress High Command after the faction’s meeting at Azad’s residence in New Delhi over the poll drubbing.

According to sources, Rahul Gandhi asked Hooda about the meeting of the G-23 leaders and their resolution. Hooda suggested elections of the Congress Working Committee and taking future decisions through discussions only in CWC as this was also mentioned by the G-23 group.

The former Haryana chief minister, in the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, also sought the appointment of an experienced person, who understands the politics of North India and is well verse with Hindi, after removing party General Secretary KC Venugopal from his post, sources informed.

Hooda also sought clarity over who is making the decisions in the party and said that leaders get to know about big decisions of the party from the newspapers, highlighting the need to make decisions collectively.

Hooda said that the G-23 leaders have not done any “anti-party activities” adding that the meeting of faction was held after informing Sonia Gandhi.

“We do not agree with everything (Shankersinh) Vaghela and (Kapil) Sibal have said,” Hooda said after both of them had questioned the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

After the Congress’ rout in five assembly polls, Sibal had given an interview to a newspaper calling for a leadership change in the party.

In a statement released after the CWC meeting on Wes, the CWC had unanimously reaffirmed its faith in the leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and requested her “to lead from the front, address the organisational weaknesses, effect necessary and comprehensive organisational changes in order to take on the political challenges”.

Sonia Gandhi had on Tuesday sought the resignations of state party chiefs of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

The results of five assembly polls came as a shock to the Congress which was hoping to do well to revive its prospects for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and to fend off the emerging challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress to replace it as the fulcrum of anti-BJP politics in the country.

The party is slated to elect a new party chief later this year at the culmination of organisational elections. (ANI)

People throng at Vrindavan’s Banke Bihari temple to celebrate Holi

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Keeping the traditional fervour and essence of the festival alive, people thronged at the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan of Mathura district on Friday to celebrate Holi, the festival of colours with great enthusiasm.

Devotees in large numbers were seen at the temple with sweets and colours in their hands.
While devotees stood in queues to get a glimpse of the deity, priests at the temple were seen playfully throwing colours on those gathered.

Mathura holds a long history and significance of the festival of Holi.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s town Barsana from Nandgaon in Mathura to celebrate the festival with her.

However, Barsana, a small town situated approximately 42 km from Mathura is famous for its Lathmar Holi celebration. Women run after men with ‘lathis’ or sticks and playfully hit them during this celebration. The men, on the other hand, come prepared with a ‘dhal’ or shield.

In Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan areas, respectively known as the towns of Radha and Krishna, Holi begins from Basant Panchami and continues for more than a month.

Thousands of devotees and tourists visit Mathura and Vrindavan to witness this frenzied version of Holi.

The festival of colours is celebrated across India with zeal. People throw “gulaal” or dried colour on each other and sing and dance to mark the festival. On this day people celebrate the victory of good over evil and officially welcome the spring season. (ANI)

 

Pakistan: Will no-confidence motion against Imran Khan succeed?

Islamabad [Pakistan]:  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s response to the no-confidence motion tabled against him and his government has been to get the police to act tough against several prominent lawmakers.

This could either mean that Imran Khan is over-confident of his own powers and survival, or he feels insecure and is working overtime to save himself. The question now is whether the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition has any chance of success, given the current level of support for Imran Khan from the Pakistan Army?
The more important question is, can the Army remain neutral in the political struggle unfolding in Pakistan? The answers remain hazy at this stage, but it is certain that the Pakistan Army will back Imran Khan.

The immediate result of the tabling of the no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan was the raid by a police contingent (11 March 2022) on the Parliament Lodges to expel members of the Ansarul Islam, the volunteer force of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

This force had been invited to provide security to the opposition lawmakers. The police claimed to have arrested, during the operation, at least four legislators, along with two dozen Ansarul Islam volunteers. The other occurrence was that both the Opposition and the government and groups of dissenters have been in touch with each other in the aftermath of the no-confidence motion tabling.

PM Imran Khan’s immediate focus appeared to be Punjab, rather than the Federal dispensation because of the revolt within the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) against the Punjab Chief Minister, Usman Buzdar. Khan spent the entire day (10 March) in Lahore meeting with his provincial Assembly members.

His presence in Lahore for the whole day was basically to bolster support for Chief Minister Buzdar. The catch here is that PM Khan cannot resolve the no-confidence issue without first solving the Punjab crisis. Many members of the ‘angry group’ within the PTI met Imran Khan and said that they had attended the Jahangir Tarin group and Aleem Khan Group meetings to convince them to come back to the party.

The ruling PTI coalition has a total of 179 members in the National Assembly, while the opposition claims to have the support of 162 members. It also claims to have the allegiance of 24 members of the ruling party, which could tilt the balance in favour of the opposition, as and when the motion is placed and voted upon in the National Assembly.

The tabling of the no-confidence motion, however, signals a degree of confidence within the opposition that they are ready to take on Imran Khan, already surrounded by a plethora of challenges, ranging from a sinking economy to a troubled security environment, with the TTP on the ascendant. While this may be so, the historical record shows that no government in power has ever been removed by a no-confidence motion.

What are the signs currently of dissidence within the PTI that could signal the likelihood of a shift in the power equation in Islamabad? The growing ranks of dissidents have worsened with the passage of time and the revolt against the Punjab Chief Minister signals the unravelling of the party that could also threaten the survival of the PTI government.

A major problem is that there is no consensus on any other candidate. The PML-Q will not accept anyone other than Pervaiz Elahi as the chief minister. With the no-confidence motion hanging over the head of the PTI government, the PML-Q has upped its stakes. The party’s bargaining position seems to have been further strengthened with the reported offer by the opposition to give the top provincial office to the PML-Q leader.

While the opposition has been galvanized somewhat by the tabling of the no-confidence motion, PM Imran Khan continues to use other means to muzzle his critics. The latest in this series is the passage in the National Assembly of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Act (PECA) 2022 by Ordinance. The timing of this bill comes at a time when the ruling PTI government is faced with a no-confidence motion.

The new Act for instance, the ordinance, gives the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) powers to arrest anyone and put them in jail till the conclusion of the trial. Federal officers also have the authority to unlock any electronic device. Another provision open to gross abuse is the provision that the complainant doesn’t necessarily be the aggrieved person or institution; it can be any member of the public, making the new law open for abuse.

The PECA 2022 signals that PM Khan wants to ensure that there is no criticism levelled against him, especially when he is beleaguered politically on all sides. The new law, along with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2020, that seeks to jail anyone who “ridicules or brings into disrepute or defames the military” has made life difficult for journalists, human rights activists, and social media champions.

Imran Khan knows very well that a free press in Pakistan could very well turn criticism into political mileage. That is why the insistent on curbing media freedom and in the larger context an attempt to muzzle anything that remotely pulls up the military for its faults.

The tabling of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan creates an uncertain political situation for Pakistan. Unfortunately, whatever the outcome of the motion, the net loser is Pakistan for political instability will persist. Pakistan’s economy is on a downward spiral and without doubt, the PTI government under Imran Khan is responsible for a large part of the problem.

If Imran Khan wins the vote, then he will be emboldened to continue on the path taken so far. If the opposition wins, then the selection of a prime ministerial candidate will occupy political space and time. In the meantime, the only beneficiary will be the Army. That is why it has been said that the Army has turned ‘neutral’ in the ongoing political crisis. But is this really so? (ANI)

No-confidence motion against Imran Khan, PDM chief asks people to reach Islamabad

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Ahead of the no-confidence motion against Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday asked the public to be ready, as they would be called at any moment to be in Islamabad by the Opposition.

While talking to the media, Rehman said that the Pakistani PM has lost the majority as well as the trust of his allies, Pakistani news channel Geo News reported on Sunday.
“The matter is out of PM Khan’s hands now,” Rehman claimed, adding that “he should gather 172 members against the Opposition in the National Assembly rather than gathering one million people for the Islamabad rally.”

Taking a swipe at Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, who claimed he is standing in support with PM Imran Khan “like a wall”, the PDM chief said that the so-called support is nothing short of feeble.

He further criticized Sheikh Rasheed and said that he is a betrayer. “He is someone who bites the hand that feeds him,” Rehman was quoted as saying by Geo News.

The National Assembly Secretariat advised Speaker Asad Qaiser to summon a session before March 22 after declaring that the no-confidence motion against the Pakistani Prime Minister is filed as per the rules, Geo News reported citing sources.

According to the rules, the NA speaker is bound to summon the session of the National Assembly by March 22.

A Pakistani channel citing sources reported that a total of 86 lawmakers from the Opposition parties have signed the no-confidence motion.

At present, the government has a 17-member lead over the Opposition but the latter has claimed that it has enough support to prove that PM Imran Khan no more commands the people’s trust. (ANI)

 

Zelenskyy urges NATO to impose no-fly zone over Ukraine

Kyiv [Ukraine]: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday urged North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to impose a no-fly zone over his country or see its member states attacked by Russia.

In his virtual address on Monday, Zelenskyy said: “I reiterate that if you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory, on NATO territory, on the homes of NATO citizens.”
He spoke a day after thirty-five people were killed and more than 130 injured when Russian troops launched airstrikes on a military training ground, near the border with NATO member Poland.

The Ukrainian President also said that he had warned NATO that without preventive sanctions, Russia would begin a war and that Moscow would use Nord Stream 2 as a weapon.

“I had warned NATO that without preventive sanctions, Russia would begin a war & that Moscow would use Nord Stream 2 as a weapon,” he said.

Earlier Russia claimed that it killed 180 “foreign mercenaries” in a missile strike on Yavoriv military training ground in western Ukraine, according to a media report. Kyiv, however, denied the report terming it “pure Russian propaganda”.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy said that in a discussion with European Council President Charles Michel, special attention was given to the further negotiation process on Ukraine’s EU membership.

“Regular international talks. With President of the Council @eucopresident, we discussed the issue of increasing financial support for and sanctions pressure on the aggressor. Special attention was paid to the further negotiation process on Ukraine’s EU membership,” Zelenskyy tweeted.

He spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Petr Fiala Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and spoke about Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression. (ANI)

 

Five Indian students killed in road mishap in Canada

Ottawa [Canada]: In a heartbreaking tragedy, five Indian students were killed in a road accident in Canada, said India’s High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Monday, adding that two others were injured and were hospitalized.

The accident occurred on Saturday on the Ontario highway and two injured students were rushed to the hospital.
Taking to Twitter, Ajay Bisaria expressed deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

“Heart-breaking tragedy in Canada: 5 Indian students passed away in an auto accident near Toronto on Saturday. Two others in the hospital. Deepest condolences to the families of the victims. @IndiainToronto team in touch with friends of the victims for assistance,” India’s High Commissioner to Canada said.

According to Quinte West Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) the deceased students were identified as Harpreet Singh, Jaspinder Singh, Karanpal Singh, Mohit Chouhan, and Pawan Kumar.

They were traveling west in a passenger van on Highway 401 Saturday morning when they collided with a tractor-trailer at around 3:45 am.

The investigation into the crash remains ongoing, and no charges have been laid. (ANI)

 

US journalist Brent Renaud killed in Ukraine’s city of Irpin

Kyiv [Ukraine], March 13 (ANI): A video journalist from the US, best known for producing humanitarian stories from conflict zones, has reportedly been killed in Irpin outside the city of Kyiv in Ukraine according to Kyiv police official Andriy Nebytov.

The police official shared images of the journalist’s body, as well as his press ID and US passport. The press ID showed the reporter as an employee of the New York Times, but the prestigious US daily said that the man was not working for them at the moment of his death, reported DW.
The journalist is a Peabody and DuPont Award-winning filmmaker, best known for producing humanitarian stories from conflict zones. He has been a journalist for over two decades.

Moreover, an unverified video appeared to show his journalist colleague being treated in a hospital with wounds. He said that he was shot at while in a car.

On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republic requested help in ‘defending themselves.’

The Russian Defense Ministry said the special operation is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure only and the civilian population is not in danger.

The West however denies these claims by the Russians and in response, Western nations have imposed comprehensive sanctions on Moscow. In addition, they introduced sanctions on Belarus for supporting Russia’s operation in Ukraine. (ANI)

 

G23 suggested Mukul Wasnik for Congress chief post

New Delhi [India]- While Congress Working Committee on Sunday evening is slated to discuss the drubbing in the recently concluded Assembly elections, sources said that the dissident group within the party, G23, had suggested Mukul Wasnik for the post of president of the party, which was not accepted.

Sources said, “G23, which consists of Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, had suggested Mukul Wasnik’s name for the post of president of the party. But it was not accepted.”
The source, who is a part of G23, also said that the new party president should lead the party in the manner as was done by Sonia Gandhi in early 2000.

The source added, “Though Sonia Gandhi is the (interim) president, it is virtually (being) run by KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken and Randeep Surjewala. There is no accountability fixed on them.”

“Rahul Gandhi is not the president. But he operates from behind the scene and takes decisions. He does not communicate openly. We are party’s well-wishers and not enemies,” added the source. (ANI)

 

Shatrughan Sinha, Babul Supriyo to be TMC candidates for byelections in WB

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Former Union ministers Shatrughan Sinha and Babul Supriyo will be TMC candidates for Lok Sabha by-election from Asansol and Assembly by-election from Ballygunge respectively.

In a tweet today, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote, “Happy to announce on behalf of the All India Trinamool Congress that Sri Shatrughan Sinha, former Union Minister and famed actor, will be our candidate in Loksabha by-election from Asansol.”
“Sri Babul Supriyo, former union minister and noted singer, will be our candidate in Vidhansabha by-election from Ballygunge. Jai Hind, Jai Bangla, Jai Ma- Mati- Manush!,” Mamata tweeted.

On October 19, 2021, Former Union Minister Babul Supriyo formally submitted his resignation as a BJP MP from the House to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

On Saturday, the Election Commission announced that the bypolls in Ballygunge Assembly and Asansol Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal would be held on April 12. Counting of the votes will take place on April 16. (ANI)

Missiles landing near US consulate in Iraq launched from Iran

Washington [US]: Amid the ongoing US-Iran talks in Vienna to arrive at a new nuclear deal, a number of rockets launched from Iran landed late on Saturday night near the US consulate in Iraq’s Erbil city, media reports said.

A US defence official said that as many as 12 missiles were launched at the Northern city from neighbouring Iran, The Washington Post reported.
The city of Irbil is the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

There was no damage at any US government facility and there was no indication the target was the consulate building, which is new and currently unoccupied, the report said citing another official.

Lawk Ghafari, the head of Kurdistan’s foreign media office, said none of the missiles hit the US facility but the areas around the compound had been hit by the missiles. The Iraqi health ministry also informed that the incident did not result in any casualties.

The U.S. condemned what it called an “outrageous attack against Iraqi sovereignty and display of violence,” the report said quoting an official.

The attack came as negotiations in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal hit a “pause” over Russian demands about sanctions targeting Moscow over its war on Ukraine, the report said. (ANI)

 

Pakistan: Opposition lambastes govt, saying ‘can’t talk with hooligans like Imran Khan’

Islamabad [Pakistan]: With political tensions in Pakistan heating up ahead of a no-confidence motion against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marriyum Aurangzeb lambasted Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying a democratic negotiation can’t be held with “thugs and hooligans”.

Marriyum Aurangzeb, who is also the information secretary of PML-N, was responding to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s tweet, saying that politics should be based on consensus.
“Democracy is not a system of extreme divisions. It is based on a system of consensus. I don’t think there should be so much division for any reason. It is not difficult to fight when it becomes difficult. However, reconciliation is difficult,” Chaudhry said in a tweet.

In a series of tweets in response to the Information Minister’s message, Aurangzeb asked Chaudhry to explain to Imran Khan the things which have filled the politics of the country with enmity, saying further that talks can be held with politicians and not “abusive thugs and hooligans like Imran Khan”.

“Explain to Imran Sahib the things which have created enmity in politics. Talks can be had with politicians, not abusive thugs and hooligans. It is Imran Khan who has created division, chaos and disorder in the society,” Aurangzeb tweeted.

The Opposition leader further attacked Imran Khan and Fawad Chaudhry over the ruling party’s behaviour towards the Opposition parties.

“Insult and threaten political opponents, put them to death, throw daughters and sisters in jails, make baseless allegations, then give (moral) lectures? Does Fawad Chaudhry think that people are insane?” Aurangzeb further said.

She further accused Imran Khan of introducing dirt and filth in Pakistan’s politics. Hinting at the upcoming no-confidence motion, she said that by cleaning up the “filth and filthiness” (of Imran Khan), the Opposition will get rid of stench and suffocation in the country.

The heated remarks among the leaders of the political parties came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s profanity-laced speech against Pakistan’s Opposition parties, calling them names.

The abusive speech from the country’s Prime Minister drew severe criticism from Opposition leaders and the civil society alike. (ANI)

 

Congress Working Committee to discuss poll debacle in five States today

New Delhi [India]: The Congress Working Committee (CWC) is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the poll debacle in five States and the current political situation.

The meeting will be held at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office at 4 pm.
While Congress G-23 leaders, who are members of the Congress Working Committee, are set to raise their demand for reforms in the party during the CWC meeting, sources said on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, Congress G23 met at senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s residence in the national capital.

Congress leaders Bhupender Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma, Akhilesh Prasad Singh were present at the meeting.

The results of five assembly polls came as a shock to the Congress which was hoping to do well to revive its prospects for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and to fend off the emerging challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress to replace it as the fulcrum of anti-BJP politics in the country. (ANI)

 

Andhra Pradesh presents 2.56 lakh crore budget laying focus on welfare

Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) [India]: Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath on Friday presented the annual budget for the year 2022-23 in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly with a total outlay of 2,56,256 crores laying focus on welfare.

The revenue expenditure was pegged at Rs 2, 08,261 crore and capital expenditure at Rs 47,996 crores.
The estimated revenue deficit is around Rs 17,036 crore and the fiscal deficit around Rs 48, 724 crore, the Finance Minister said adding that the fiscal deficit would be around 3, 64 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), whereas the revenue deficit works out to be about 1.27 per cent of GDSP.

Top priority was given to welfare Rs 45,955 crores, education Rs 30,077 crores, health Rs 15,384.26n crores, urban development Rs 8,796 crores, social security RS 4,331.85 crores, social security Rs 4,331.85 crores and other schemes with enhanced allocations.

The Children and Gender Budges was allocated Rs 4,322.86 cores, Rs 18,518 crore for SC sub-plan Rs 6,145 crore for ST Sub-plan, Rs 29, 143 core for BC sub-plan Rs 3,661 crore for welfare of minorities and Rs 3,537 crores for Kapu welfare.

School education was allocated Rs 27,706.66 crore which 12.52 per cent higher than the previous year. Amma Vodi was allocated Rs 6,500 crore, Rs 3,500 crore was allocated for Mana Badi Nadu Nedu.

For the Pedalandariki Illu Rs 4,791.69 crore was allocated. So far Rs 1,146.7 crore was released to beneficiaries including the cost of material, he said.

“In the last three years, we have set in motion changes through Navaratnalu and welfare schemes mentioned in the Party manifesto working for social inclusion to make our State a leader in all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG),” he said.

Welfare was taken to the intended beneficiary in a transparent manner by DBT mode and established robust decentralized governance, the Finance Minister said and widely quoted verses from native poets Sri Sri, Gurazada, Vemana and Kalidas among others besides Nobel Prize winner Muta Maathai on an international level.

The Budget allocated Rs 69,306.74 crores for economical services which is 27.05 per cent of the total outlay of the budget, RS 1,13,340.20 crores for Social Services, 44.23 per cent of the budget and the rest for general services.

The Budget allocated Rs 18,518 crores for Scheduled Caste Sub Plan in 2022-23 Budget Estimates, while it was Rs 13,835 crores in the previous year’s allocation.

It was Rs 6,145 crores for Tribal Sub Plan in the current year while it was Rs 5,318 crores in the previous year. BC Sub Plan was allocated Rs 29,143 crores while it was Rs 28,238 in the previous year.

Minorities Action Sub Plan was allocated Rs 3,662 crores (previous year Rs 3,077 crore), Kapu Welfare Rs 3,532 crores (Rs 3,306 crores) and EBC Welfare Rs 6,669 crores (Rs 3,743 crores).

The Budget has allocated Rs 48,802.71 crores for DBT schemes in 2022-23 while it was Rs 39,615.98 crores in the previous year.

YSR Pension Kanuka was allocated Rs 18,000.90 crores, YSR Rythu Bharosa Rs 3,900 crores, YSR Aasara Rs 6,400 crores, YSR Cheyuta Rs 4,235.95 crores, Amma Vodi Rs 6,500 crores, Jagananna Vidya Deevena Rs 2,500 crore, Jagananna Vasati Deevena (MTF) Rs 2,083.32 crores, YSR – PM Fasal Bima Yojana Rs 1,802.04 crores, YSR Interest-free loans to Self Help Groups Rs 600 crores, YSR Interest-free loans to Urban Self Help Groups Rs 200 crores, YSR Interest-free Loans to Farmers Rs 500 crores, YSR Kapu Nestham Rs 500 crores, YSR Jagananna Chedodu Rs 300 crores, YSR Vahana Mitra Rs 260 crores, YSR Nethanna Nestham rs 199.99 crores, YSR Matsyakara Bharosa Rs 120.49 crores, Diesel Subsidy to Fishermen Boats Rs 50 crores, Exgratia to Farmers Rs 20 crores, Law Nestham Rs 15 crore and Jagananna Thodu Rs 25.01 crores.

Other Budgetary allocations include Rs 3,100 crore for subsidy on rice (Human Resources Development), Rs 200.02 for door delivery of rice.

On the Industries front, Incentives for Industrial Promotion for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) was allocated Rs 450 crore, Incentives for Industrial Promotion Rs 411.62 crores, ADB (Asian Development Bank) – Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor Development Program – (APRDC Component Rs 250 Crores) – (APIIC Component- Rs 236.86 crores), Incentives to the S.C. Entrepreneurs for Industrial Promotion Rs 175 crores, Incentives to IT & Electronics Industries/ Organizations Rs 60 crores, and YSR Bima Rs 372.12 crores.

Others include Rs 1,149.93 Crores for Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)/National Rural Drinking Water Mission and Rs 500 Crore for Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin. (ANI)

 

Ind Vs SL, Bengaluru Test: Hosts practice under lights to get used to Day-Night conditions

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], March 11 (ANI): The Indian team will be playing their third Day-Night Test on home soil when they take on Sri Lanka in the second and final Test match of the series here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

“We are playing a pink ball test after a long time. We practised under lights. We addressed the adjustments we need to make during the Pink ball Test,” said India vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah in the pre-match press conference.
The last time India played a Day-Night Test match with the Pink ball was against England in Ahmedabad in February 2021.

“As I told you before there are mental changes we have to make because you do not play a lot of Pink Ball cricket. All these things we are still very new to this format like playing under light, fielding and bowling with Pink Ball are things we need to get used to and we keep all of these things in mind while in training sessions. We have not played with Pink ball much at junior level as youngsters. The adjustment depends from person to person. There is no set parameter. The red ball swings in the morning more while the Pink ball in the evening. As far as catching is concerned we practice so that we can adjust to it,” explained Bumrah.

For the Day-Night Test match, the players also have to adjust to a different time of play as the match starts in the afternoon and ends late in the evening.

“When the match ended we had an optional session in Mohali. The times are different. The sleep patterns are different. We practice so that we can adjust to that timing pattern,” said Jasprit Bumrah.

With the match being played under lights it is still not clear whether India will play three seam bowlers or three spinners.

“We had a look at the surface yesterday but today we’ll take a closer look at the pitch. After that we will have a better idea if we want to go into the match with three seamers or three spinners,” the Indian vice-captain told.

All-rounder Axar Patel, who has recovered from a shin injury that forced him to miss the South Africa tour and the T20I series against West Indies, returned to the Indian set-up replacing left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav for the second Test against Sri Lanka.

“Axar Patel has added a lot of value whenever he has played, has contributed a lot and offers a lot in all departments. He was injured but he jumps straight back in when he’s fit. We will discuss our combination but of course, he is valuable,” said Bumrah about Axar Patel’s comeback.

“We have not removed Kuldeep Yadav from the team. He has been in the bio-bubble for a long time and hence he has been released. Staying in a bubble is not easy. The mental aspect is important. After this he will again be in the bio-bubble during the IPL,” added Bumrah.

When it comes to Pink Ball Tests, India have played two D/N matches on home soil winning both inside three days in Kolkata and Ahmedabad against Bangladesh and England respectively. This will be India’s fourth Pink ball Test overall. (ANI)

 

Russia made proposals to Ukraine in form of legal documents during talks in Belarus

Moscow [Russia]- According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, the Russian delegation has made proposals to Ukraine in the form of a legal document during the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Taking to Twitter, Russian MFA wrote, “During the latest round of talks in Belarus the Russian delegation made highly specific proposals, this time in the form of a legally binding draft document. The Ukrainian delegation said they would take them to Kyiv for discussion.”
The third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine took place on Monday. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on Monday failed to achieve significant results during their third round of peace talks held in Belarus.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, said that there was some small progress in improving the logistics of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.

Podolyak, who is also an advisor to the head of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said intensive consultations continued on the main political block of the settlement along with a ceasefire and security guarantees.

“The third round of negotiations has ended. There are small positive subductions in improving the logistics of humanitarian corridors… Intensive consultations have continued on the basic political block of the regulations, along with a ceasefire and security guarantees,” Podolyak tweeted.

On February 24, Russia launched a special operation in Ukraine in response to calls from the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to defend themselves against intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. (ANI)

 

Battle for India will be fought in 2024, not in state elections: Prashant Kishor

New Delhi [India]: A day after the BJP retained power in four out of five states including the electorally significant Uttar Pradesh, poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Friday said the battle for India will be fought and decided in 2024 general elections and not in any state elections.

Taking to Twitter, Kishor said, “Battle for India will be fought and decided in 2024 and not in any state elections. Saheb knows this! Hence this clever attempt to create frenzy around state results to establish a decisive psychological advantage over Opposition. Do not fall or be part of this false narrative.”
The poll strategist’s remarks came a day after the results of assembly polls in five states where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) showcased its electoral prowess by retaining four states. The party set new records by winning Uttar Pradesh for a consecutive term. Further, it also managed to hold power in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

The results of five assembly polls came as a shock to the Congress which was hoping to do well to revive its prospects for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and to fend off the emerging challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress to replace it as the fulcrum of anti-BJP politics in the country. (ANI)

 

CBSE Term-II Board examinations for classes 10, 12 to be held from April 26

New Delhi [India]: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Friday informed that the Term-II examinations for classes 10 and 12 are to be held from April 26, 2022.

Last year, the CBSE had announced that board examinations for 2022 will be conducted in two terms. While Term-I exams have already been held, the Term-II exams for both the classes will commence from April 26.
This time exam timings will be 10:30 am and won’t be conducted in two shifts. Further details are available on the official website, stated the CBSE.

According to the Board, the exam schedule has been prepared keeping the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.

“As the schools were closed due to the pandemic which has led to learning loss, therefore, more gaps have been given between the examinations in almost all the subjects in both the classes,” said the CBSE in a notification issued today.

The CBSE notification further added, “Other competitive exams including JEE Main have been taken care of while preparing the data sheet.”

The Supreme Court on February 23, 2022 dismissed a plea seeking cancellation of physical exams for Class X and XII to be conducted by all State Boards, CBSE, ICSE and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), saying such petitions give false hope to students and only create more confusion. (ANI)

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy accuses Russia of attack on humanitarian corridor in Mariupol

Kyiv [Ukraine]: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that around 40,000 people had been evacuated from a number of Ukrainian cities on Thursday but accused Russian forces of targeting a humanitarian corridor in the city of Mariupol.

“One of the main tasks for us today was the organization of humanitarian corridors: Sumy, Trostyanets, Krasnopillya, Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Izyum. Within this day, we have already managed to evacuate almost 40,000 our people, to give them security in Poltava, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on his Telegram channel.
He said humanitarian aid, food and medicine were delivered.

Mariupol and Volnovakha, however, remain completely blocked, CNN quoting Zelensky reported, adding that despite Ukrainian officials’ best efforts to make the corridor work, “Russian troops did not cease fire.”

Regardless of this, Zelensky said he still decided to send a convoy of trucks carrying food, water and medicine.

“But the invaders started a tank attack exactly in the area where this corridor was supposed to be. Corridor of life. For the people of Mariupol,” the president said, CNN reported.

Earlier on Thursday, local authorities in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol said Russian forces have begun dropping bombs on the “green corridor” designated to evacuate Mariupol residents, CNN reported. (ANI)

 

Banks should not use public deposits to finance risky projects: Ex RBI Deputy Governor

New Delhi [India]: Projects with implementation risks should normally be financed by the capital markets and not by banks using public deposits, N S Vishwanathan, Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, said on Thursday.

Speaking at an event organised by the industry body Assocham, Vishwanathan said India needs a very strong bond market that can fund projects and manage its risks.
“The fundamental risk management and providing liquidity needs to come from the bond market. IBC is one of the legal frameworks enabling the development of the bond market,” he said.

He pointed out that if the bond markets develop, the banks must brace up to a situation of higher disintermediation. “The biggest contributor for the net interest margin being higher is the high NPAs. Going forward, we are looking at the Indian banking system having NPAs of globally accepted standards,” he said.

Vishwanathan highlighted that credit culture in India is a function of many things. “The quality of credit in the bank, the post-credit follow-up and the legal system for recovery are some of the factors which determine it. If you don’t have all these things, you reduce the probability of default and bring down the loss given default,” he said. (ANI)

 

UP elections: BJP wins 255 seats

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: The BJP has retained power in Uttar Pradesh by winning 255 out of 403 constituencies, securing a 41.29 per cent vote share.

This is the first time in 37 years that a party has been able to retain power in Uttar Pradesh after completing a full term. Narayan Dutt Tiwari in 1985 had secured two consecutive terms in the state. Former CM Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party came a distant second in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh election, securing 111 seats and getting 32.06 per cent votes.

The two other major parties – Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Indian National Congress (INC) – were reduced to a single digit. BSP won one seat and Congress two seats.

Moreover, the vote shares of BSP and the Congress party stood at 12.88 per cent and 2.33 per cent, respectively.

In the 2017 Assembly election, SP had got 47 seats and BJP had secured 312 seats. (ANI)

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