Correspondent / Agency

BCCI Sec Jay Shah announces IPL playoff venues with full crowd

New Delhi [India]:  BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirmed the playoff games of the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be played in Ahmedabad and Kolkata with full capacity crowds for the first time in two years.

“I am pleased to announce that the Playoff Stage of the IPL 2022 will be held in Ahmedabad and Kolkata. The mega final will be held at Narendra Modi Stadium on May 29 along with Qualifier 2 on May 27. The Qualifier 1 and Eliminator will be played at the Eden Gardens on May 24 and May 25 respectively,” Jay Shah told ANI.
Both Kolkata and Ahmedabad hosted the limited-overs series between India and West Indies in February. While the ODI leg was played in Ahmedabad behind closed doors, 75 per cent crowd capacity was allowed in the T20I series that followed in Kolkata.

Jay Shah also confirmed that Pune will host a three-team Women’s T20 Challenge from May 23 to May 28.

“The Women’s T20 Challenge resumes this year and Pune will host the fourth edition of the tournament. The dates of matches will be on May 23, May 24, May 26 and Final on May 28,” he said.

The four grounds used for the matches so far are in Maharashtra itself, namely: Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the Dr DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and the MCA Stadium in Pune. (ANI)

Stalin appeals to contribute to humanitarian relief material for Sri Lanka

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday appealed to people to contribute to the humanitarian relief material to be sent to the people of Sri Lanka in their economic crisis situation.

Earlier on Monday, Stalin thanked the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for accepting Tamil Nadu’s request on supplementing India’s humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, an island nation gripped by a severe economic crisis.
Tamil Nadu Assembly had passed a resolution seeking permission to supply rice and essential medicines as an aid to Sri Lanka. Responding to that, Jaishankar said that Tamil Nadu Government’s assistance can supplement what is being provided by the government of India and informed that Sri Lanka prefers inclusive distribution.

Taking to Twitter, Stalin had written, “A personal thanks to Hon’ble @DrSJaishankar for accepting Tamil Nadu’s request to help the people of Sri Lanka. I am sure that this humane gesture will be greatly welcomed by all and help to improve the warmth and cordiality between nations. Let the goodwill grow in all spheres.”

Jaishankar in a letter addressed to CM Stalin had said that the mission in Colombo was consulted over Tamil Nadu’s request. The Ministry in a letter stated, “MEA offers that Tamil Nadu Government’s assistance can supplement what is being provided by the government of India. The Government of Sri Lanka’s preference is for inclusive distribution.”

On the proposal by the Tamil Nadu government to provide humanitarian assistance to the Island nation, Jaishankar had noted the state government can direct TN Chief Secretary to coordinate with the Centre for supplying the relief material.

The EAM had said, “You may wish to direct TN Chief Secretary to coordinate with Government of India for supply and distribution of humanitarian relief material to Sri Lankan Government. Relief material will be shared with the Government of Sri Lanka to be distributed appropriately in the current circumstances.”

Presently, Sri Lanka is struggling with acute food and electricity shortages, forcing the country to seek help from its neighbours. The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is unable to buy sufficient fuel and gas, while the people are being deprived of basic amenities as well. (ANI)


Biden fumbles on word ‘kleptocracy’ during address to Congress, Twitter flooded

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden fumbled on the word “kleptocracy” during an address to the US Congress on Thursday, when he was seeking an additional $33 billion in aid to Ukraine and following the lapse, Twitter was flooded with reactions to his stuttering.

Tom Cotton, US Senator for Arkansas posted a clip of the speech on his Twitter handle, and captioned it as “Alarming”. In the clip, Biden can be seen fumbling with the word kleptocracy. After, two or three attempts he seemingly gets it correct. The video has garnered about 37,000 likes and over three million views on Twitter.
“We’re going to seize their yachts, their luxury homes, and other ill-begotten gains of Putin’s kleptoc- yeah – kleptocracy and klep- the guys who are the kleptocracies,” said Biden while addressing the US Congress.

Earlier, the US President mistakenly used the word “accommodate” while mentioning the Russian oligarchs. Still fumbling with words, Biden said that the US will “make sure we take their – take their ill-begotten gains.”

Twitterati were divided in their opinions. While some pointed out Biden’s speech defect and mocked at him, a few of them were defensive.

Exec Director of America Matters & former Army Special Forces Weapons, Jim Hanson responded to Tom Cotton, with the caption “America deserves better” in a tweet. Another Twitter user also agreed with the Senator that Biden’s speech was indeed alarming.

However, another Twitterati slammed Cotton by giving a befitting replying to his tweet which reads that a Senator mocking a President is even more alarming.

“A senator mocking someone’s stutter? Yeah, that is pretty alarming. Thanks for showing everyone quite clearly who you are,” the user commented.

“You know he has a speech impediment, right? It’s pretty publicly known. Are you mocking that?” wrote a third Twitter user. (ANI)


Karnataka CM supports Kiccha Sudeep’s remarks on Hindi, says regional language is most important

Hubli (Karnataka) [India]: After the Twitter spat between Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn and Kannada actor Kichcha Sudeep over the Hindi’s status as the national language, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday extended support to Sudeep saying that regional language is the most important.

Speaking to media persons here, Bommai said, “What Kiccha Sudeep said was correct. A regional language is the most important as a state is formed on linguistic bases.”
He further added that everyone should understand and respect what Sudeep has said.

“The Mother tongue or the regional language of the concerned state is supreme. Everyone should understand and respect that. Our States have been formed on a linguistic basis. So the concerned state language or the mother tongue should get prominence and supremacy. Everyone should understand and respect that,” Bommai said.

In Bengaluru, members of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, a pro-Kannada organisation, were detained by the police during their protest against Ajay Devgn for his Hindi national language statement.

Earlier today, former Chief Ministers HD Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah, also commented on Devgn and Sudeepa’s Twitter exchange.

Taking to Twitter, Kumaraswamy wrote, “Actor Kiccha Sudeep saying that Hindi is not a National Language is correct. There is nothing to find fault in his statement. Actor Ajay Devgn is not only hyper in nature but also shows his ludicrous behaviour.”

He attacked the Central government for doing language politics and said Devgan is “blabbering as a mouthpiece of the BJP’s Hindi nationalism agenda”.

“From the beginning, Hindi-based political parties at the Centre have been making efforts to destroy regional languages. Congress which started surprising regional languages is being continued by the BJP,” he tweeted.”

“Ajaya Devgan’s blabbered as a mouthpiece of BJP’s Hindi Nationalism of one nation, one tax, one language and one government,” Kumaraswamy said in a subsequent tweet.

He further said if a large population speaks Hindi, it does not mean, it becomes the national language.

Ajay Devgan must realise that Kannada cinema is outgrowing the Hindi film industry, he added.

“Just because a large population speaks Hindi, it doesn’t become a national language. Less than nine states, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, have Hindi as 2nd, 3rd language or not even that. This being situation what is the truth in Ajay Devgan’s statement? What do you mean by not to dub?” he questioned in another tweet.

“Devgan must realise that Kannada cinema is outgrowing Hindi film industry. Because of encouragement by Kannadigas Hindi cinema has grown. Devgan shouldn’t forget that his first movie ‘Phool aur Kaante’ ran for a year in Bengaluru,” he tweeted further.

While Siddaramaiah said, “Hindi was never and will never be our National Language. It is the duty of every Indian to respect the linguistic diversity of our Country. Each language has its own rich history for its people to be proud of. I am proud to be a Kannadiga!!”

Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn, who’s awaiting the release of his upcoming film, ‘Runway 34’, on Friday, got into a war of words with South star Kichcha Sudeepa after the latter’s comment that Hindi is no longer India’s national language.

As per media reports, during an event, Sudeepa stated that “Hindi is no more a national language.” Following this, Devgn took to his Twitter handle and expressed his views on Sudeepa’s comment.

In Hindi, he wrote, “Kiccha Sudeep, my brother, according to you, if Hindi is not our national language then why do you release your native language [mother tongue] films by dubbing them in Hindi? Hindi was, is and always will be our mother tongue and national language. Jan Gan Man.” (ANI)

IPL: Will do it one day, says pace sensation Umran Malik on hitting 155 kmph

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Umran Malik’s five-wicket haul had almost sealed the deal for Sunrisers Hyderabad, but some brilliant late order hitting by Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan took the game away from SRH on Wednesday here at the Wankhede Stadium.

Despite his team ending up on the losing side, Malik walked away with the Player of the Match award for his superlative effort.
“The idea was just to bowl as fast as I can. The ground is slightly on the smaller side so the idea is to stay on the stumps, mix the pace and try to keep the ball within the stumps. [On targeting 155 kph] God willing if I have to bowl 155 kph, I will do it one day. But at the moment, all I want to do is bowl well,” said Malik in the post-match presentation.

Malik scalped the important wickets of Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, and Wriddhiman Saha. He again returned to bowl in the 16th over of the innings and picked the wickets of David Miller and Abhishek Manohar – both of them got clean bowled.

Coming to the match, With 22 runs required in the last over, Rahul Tewatia smashed the first ball of Marco Jansen’s over into the stands for a six. It was followed by a single which brought Rashid Khan to the crease. Rashid smashed the third delivery for a six. With nine runs required off 2 balls, Rashid hit two back-to-back sixes and took Gujarat to victory. (ANI)


Softline Womenswear, a brand by Rupa & Co., signs Bollywood actress Kiara Advani 

Kolkata (West Bengal) [india]:  Softline Womenswear, the brand from the house of Rupa & CompanyLimited, one of India’s largest knitwear organizations, has announced Actress Kiara Advani as the brand ambassador. Softline Womenswear has been the go-to label for Indian fashionistas for their wardrobe-essentials for over two decades. The actress will be endorsing the womenswear range from Softline, including-Leggings, Palazzos and Pants etc.

On the Association, actress Kiara Advani affirmed, “It is a pleasure to be associated with the decades-old brand Softline by the very reputed Rupa & Co. The brand resonates with the youngsters offering unique designs and comfort at the same time. It is one of the very few brands that strikes a chord with people pan India.”
Kiara as the New Softline Girl represents the brand’s persona to a T. Her unstoppable energy, vibrance and versatility are effortlessly aligned with Softline’s wide range of Leggings, Palazzos and Pants. The leggings consist of a wide variety of styles in trendy colours & patterns such as Ankle length, Churidar, Printed, Shimmer, Capri, and Comfort Fit Pocket & Winter Leggings. Similarly, the Pants are available in varieties of Knitted, Kurti & Western Kurti Pants. Palazzos too come in a wide range of colours and designs.

“For a consumer, it’s almost magical that how ‘EFFORTLESSLY’ Softline understands them and helps them dress up for every occasion. We partnering with Kiara will ensure that the brand reaches and appeals to much wider and younger consumers,” says Vikash Agarwal, President, Rupa & Co. Ltd.

The brand will be launching a series of campaigns with the new brand ambassador highlighting the wide range of Softline’s Leggings, Palazzos and Pants available for the customers. These campaigns will be unveiled both online and offline.

Softline Womenswear is synonymous with innovation, style, and comfort. The expert designers at Softline make sure that they keep up with the latest trends and the requirements of the evolving consumers. Hence the detailing in every product is well thought of and crafted to perfection. With its effortless, easy-breezy movements and endless colour options, fashion is now going to get comfortably & effortlessly stylish.

This story is provided by PNN. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/PNN)

J&K: Nowshera Forest Division trains women in Chir needle handicraft under Mission Youth

Rajouri (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 25 (ANI): To boost women’s empowerment in the valley, the forest department of Kashmir’s Nowshera subdivision, started handicrafts training for the local women in the area using the fallen Chir Needles, said the Forest officials on Thursday.
Women honed their skills in making baskets, coasters, doormats from the otherwise highly inflammable Chir pine needles under Mission Youth.
The local administration officials lauded the interest and participation of women.
“These Chir pine needles are highly inflammable and often cause forest fires in the nearby areas. Therefore, we came up with the idea to put it to good use. Over 500 women have been trained till now. Ranging from segregating the raw material to the final colourful product, these women are on their way to becoming experts,” Indian Forest Service officer Nilima Shah told ANI.
The participants of the training program thanked the local authorities for giving them a source of livelihood.
“I would like to thank the forest officials. Because of them, I have not only learnt about making handicrafts but also look forward to creating my own source of income,” said Bisma, a local trainee at the program.
The second batch of the training program is expected to start soon in the upcoming months. (ANI)

Special ‘puja’ in Gorakhnath Math ahead of Yogi Adityanath’s oath ceremony

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 25 (ANI): Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Yogi Adityanath for the second term in Uttar Pradesh, the head priest of Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur performed a special ‘Puja’ on Friday.
A special “Aarti” was also performed by the head priest Yogi Kamal Nath in the temple for Yogi Adityanath. He is head priest at the Gorakhpur Math, a temple that is known to have a strong influence in the eastern parts of the state.
Adityanath, born on June 5, 1972 in a village in Uttarakhand, was named Ajay Singh Bisht by his parents, and later he left home to join the movement for the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya and became a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath of Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur.
He commenced his political journey in 1998 becoming the youngest MP from Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency.
Adityanath represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat until 2017 when he became the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide victory in the state polls. The Gorakhpur Sadar seat had also been a bastion of the BJP, which the party had never lost since 1967 since the days of the Jan Sangh.
A five-time Lok Sabha MP, he was picked for the key role in the electorally crucial state by the BJP leadership.
Adityanath, a monk-turned-politician, won his first-ever Assembly election by a margin of 1,03,390 from Gorakhpur Urban constituency, defeating the Samajwadi Party candidate Subhawati Upendra Dutt Shukla, who secured 62,109 votes in the recently-concluded UP Assembly elections.
Adityanath will take oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the second time in a grand ceremony at Lucknow’s Ekana Stadium at 4 pm today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and senior BJP leaders are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremony.
According to sources, around 85,000 people will attend the grand ceremony in Lucknow.
A grand stage has been set up and posters have been put up with slogans that read ‘New UP of New India (Naye Bharat ka Naya UP)’. (ANI)

Vietnamese continue to slam China’s aggression 43 years later!


Hanoi [Vietnam]: Due to the recent escalation of tensions between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea, the Sino-Vietnamese war has begun receiving renewed media attention after almost 43 years where Vietnamese people use social media for expressing anger and condemning Beijing for inflicting war on Vietnam.

Notably, February 17 marked the 43 years of the 1979 Sino-Vietnam war and the Vietnamese people with the help of social media platforms expressed anti-China sentiments as well as a veiled criticism of the Vietnamese government, reported Geo Politica.
The fight left many civilians and soldiers killed in Vietnam’s border provinces. This outburst shows that the Vietnamese people may forget the physical wounds but not the deception and emotional hurt inflicted by the Chinese.

Besides the contemporary maritime territorial disputes, security concerns and geopolitical competition, the unpleasant reality of the history between these two countries continues to linger on.

In Vietnam, low-profile anniversaries of the fierce fight against the Chinese invasion are organised each year in local cemeteries in the Northern border provinces while small-scale demonstrations take place in other parts of the country including Hanoi.

Vietnam has focused on modernization of Army

However, many Vietnamese veterans, military enthusiasts, historians and diplomats have urged the government to become vocal about the past atrocities of China on Vietnam.

In 2013, Major-General Le Van Cuong, former director of the Strategy Institute under the Ministry of Public Security, and other retired politicians told state media that it was time to review the official commemorations of the war and that government must include it in textbooks.

Young academicians were also concerned over the ignorance of most of the students about the 1979 war, even as information about Vietnam’s just and defensive stand against the Chinese 1979 aggression remains vague.

Vietnamese youth have also been shown movies projecting Chinese culture and history. The wounds left by the 1979 war still haunt the Vietnamese people, reported Geo Politica. (ANI)


Samantha Ruth Prabhu & Nagarjuna Extend Birthday Wishes To Alia Bhatt

Alia Bhatt is celebrating her 29th birthday today, March 15. Samantha and Nagarjuna took to social media to wish the Gangubai Kathiawadi actress. Days ahead of her birthday, Alia jetted off to an undisclosed location with her mom, Soni Razdan, and sister, Shaheen. It has been reported that her boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor will join Alia and her family to celebrate her birthday.

On her birthday, the makers of Brahmastra released the first-look of Alia Bhatt from the film. The actress essays the role of Isha in the epic period film. Brahmastra is directed by Ayan Mukerji and features Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor in lead roles.

Samantha took to her Instagram stories to wish Alia a happy birthday. She shared a photo of Alia and wrote, “Happy birthday @aliaabhatt. Is there anything you cannot do? Can’t wait to celebrate all your achievements. We all know you are just getting started (sic).”

Alia Bhatt’s Brahmastra co-star Nagarjuna took to Twitter to share her first look and penned a sweet note for her. He wrote, “To the incredible Alia Bhatt on her Birthday! So excited to be sharing your first look with the first ever film visuals of Brahmastra – here’s presenting, Isha! Wishing you Health & Happiness always. Brahmastra Part One: Shiva 09.09.2022 (sic).”

Produced by Karan Johar, Brahmastra has been planned as a three-part fantasy trilogy. The film will release in five languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam – on September 9. Apart from Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor, Brahamastra also stars Nagarjuna and Mouni Roy.

Andhra Pradesh eyes investment opportunities from India Pavilion


Dubai [UAE](ANI/NewsVoir): The state of Andhra Pradesh is ready to showcase its development and immense business opportunities to global investors while participating in the India Pavilion in EXPO2020 Dubai.

The state’s floor at the India pavilion was inaugurated yesterday by Mekapati Goutham Reddy, Minister of Commerce and Information Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh along with H.E. Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, H.E. Dr Ahmed Albanna, UAE Ambassador to India and Sunjay Sudhir, India Ambassador to the UAE.
Zulfi Ravdjee, Advisor to Government of Andhra Pradesh & Special Representative to Government for Middle East & Far East Countries and JVN Subramanyam, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) & CEO Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) along with other senior government officials from the state were also present at the inaugural ceremony.

Inaugurating the Andhra Pradesh floor, Mekapati Goutham Reddy said, “Under the able leadership of our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, India has achieved remarkable progress across economic and social development metrics and continues to develop as a powerhouse in the world economy. The state of Andhra Pradesh has strong governance, strategic locational advantages, robust infrastructure, thriving industrial & business ecosystem, skilled manpower and immense potential for growth across key sectors. I am confident that the state floor at India Pavilion will project Andhra Pradesh in a new perspective, open new opportunities for business and establish new relationships with industry & governments.”

“Andhra Pradesh is blessed with abundant natural resources, mineral wealth, and presents a low-risk and easy environment for businesses to grow. We are poised to exchange strengths and are looking forward to long term business relationships with global investors,” he added.

JVN Subramanyam, said, “It is a great privilege for Andhra Pradesh to participate in EXPO2020 Dubai. Andhra Pradesh is one of the nine industrialized states in India, which is also helping the country to realize its $5 trillion economy mission. The state’s floor at India Pavilion depicts our key pillars of governance and development in the state, which will support us to partner with global investors.”

The state will be making a strong pitch to the global investors during the week by showcasing its business capabilities along with its tradition and culture through a series of events exhibiting opportunities across key focus sectors including Automobile, Food Processing, Textiles, Healthcare, Information Technology and Capital Goods among other to forge new partnerships.

Along with showcasing the business attractiveness, the state will also exhibit its rich cultural heritage to the global audience through India Pavilion.

The Andhra Pradesh week will conclude on February 17, 2022.

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This story is provided by NewsVoir. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/NewsVoir)

‘No fundamental change’ after Biden’s hour-long call with Putin: US official


By Reena Bhardwaj

Washington [US] (ANI): A senior US official on Saturday (local time) said that there was “no fundamental change” after the United States President Joe Biden’s hour-long call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, noting that Moscow may decide to proceed with military action and invasion in Ukraine remains a “distinct possibility.
“US President Joe Biden made clear his stance over the ongoing tension between Ukraine and Russia and said that if Moscow undertook a further invasion of Kiev, Washington along with its allies will respond “decisively” and impose swift and severe costs on the country, according to a White House statement.

In a roughly hour-long phone call between the two leaders, the White House said Biden made clear to Putin what he would be risking with an invasion. In a third conversation amid escalating tensions over Russia’s military buildup at the Ukraine border, Biden underscored Russia’s military buildup on the borders of Ukraine.

“President Biden was clear that, if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our Allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia,” the statement read on Saturday (local time).

The call between the two leaders comes hours after the US moved some of its forces out of Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of most of its embassy staff on Saturday as fears mount that a Russian invasion of the country could take place in the next few days.

Meanwhile, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a conference call that there was no change by Putin. The official noted that Russia may decide to proceed with military action and invasion remains a “distinct possibility.”The official described the call as “professional” and noted there was “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has been unfolding now for several weeks.”

“It remains unclear whether Russia is interested in pursuing its goals diplomatically as opposed to through the use of force,” the official said. “We don’t have full visibility into President Putin’s decision-making.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday, reiterating that a Russian invasion would result in “a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also called his counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, ahead of the Biden-Putin meeting.

In the past 24 hours, multiple other countries — including Israel, Germany, and the U.K. — have been encouraging their citizens to leave and reducing their diplomatic presence. (ANI)

Delhi reports 1,151 COVID-19 new cases, 15 fatalities


New Delhi [India], (ANI): Delhi reported 1,151 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours with the positivity rate declining to 2.62 per cent.

With this, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital has gone up to 18,45,084.
As per a bulletin provided by the health department, a total of 4,3991 samples were tested during the last 24 hours.

During the last 24 hours, 2,120 people recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries to 18,11,201.

As many as 15 people lost their lives to the deadly virus during the last 24 hours.

The death toll in the state due to the virus stands at 25,998.

There are currently 7,885 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, of which 5,715 are in home isolation. There are 28,980 active containment zones in the national capital.

As per the bulletin, 936 patients are admitted to hospitals across Delhi, of which 61 are suspected to have COVID-19 and 875 people are confirmed to have the disease. Of the confirmed cases of the virus, 665 are from the national capital while 210 are from outside.

The bulletin said that 93.92 per cent of beds in the dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the national capital are vacant, with only 936 out of 14,480 beds occupied by the patients. Similarly in the COVID Care Centres, there is currently 96.89 per cent of beds vacant, with only 144 out of 4,482 beds currently occupied.

In COVID Health Centres, currently, 98.99 per cent of beds are vacant, with only 2 out of total 196 beds being occupied by the patients.

As per the bulletin, 15,532 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered during the last 24 hours of which 3,619 people were given the first dose of the vaccine and 10,868 people received their second dose of the vaccine.

During the last 24 hours, 1,045 precaution doses of the vaccine were given to healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens above 60. This takes the total precaution doses administered in the national capital to 3,16,552.

The bulletin said 5,497 beneficiaries aged 15-18 received their first dose of the vaccine during the last 24 hours, taking the list of beneficiaries who have received their first dose to 9,22,723.

To date, 2,99,63,854 vaccine doses have been administered in the national capital of which 1,70,76,521 people have received their first dose of the vaccine while 1,25,70,781 people have received the second dose of vaccine. (ANI)

“I don’t fear death. I don’t want Z category security, I reject it; make me an ‘A’ category citizen : Owaisi


New Delhi [India] (ANI): Union Home Minister Amit Shah will give a detailed reply on February 7 in Parliament on the incident of firing on All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s car in Uttar Pradesh while he was leaving Meerut’s Kithoudh area for Delhi on Thursday evening.

Following the attack on Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s convoy in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, the Central Government has reviewed the security of the AIMIM chief and provided him with Z security of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with immediate effect, said sources on Friday.
Owaisi raised the issue of the attack on his convoy on Friday and said that he does not want the Z security and demanded from the government to charge the shooters with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“I don’t fear death. I don’t want Z category security, I reject it; make me an ‘A’ category citizen. I’ll not remain silent. Please do justice…charge them (shooters) with UAPA…appeal govt to end hate, radicalization,” he said in the Parliament.

Owaisi was in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut for campaigning on Thursday. (ANI)(Image -InstagramOwasi)

Cancer in India : Urgently address gaps in cancer care, says WHO


New Delhi [India] (ANI): Noting the increasing burden of cancer despite 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the cases being preventable, the World Health Organization today called on countries in South-East Asia Region to prioritize measures to reduce risk, detect and diagnose early and care for people suffering from the disease.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted delivery of cancer care services including palliative care. This has further exposed the vulnerabilities of people living with cancers and increased the risk of severe disease and death. We need to urgently address these gaps,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with nearly 10 million deaths reported in 2020. The WHO South-East Asia Region reported an estimated 2.2 million new cases and 1.4 million cancer related deaths the same year – which accounted for more than 1 in 10 deaths in the Region. Among cancer deaths, lung cancer accounted for 10.6 per cent deaths, breast cancer 9.4 per cent, cervical cancer 8 per cent, liver 6.6 per cent and lip, oral cavity cancer 6.4 per cent deaths.

The two most common cancers among men in the Region – oral and lung cancers – are linked to tobacco use, betel nut chewing and smoking, and are thus, preventable.

Preventing and treating noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, has been a flagship priority in the Region since 2014. Countries have been making concerted efforts for improving essential NCD services. Cancer preventive measures include hepatitis B vaccination; screening for cervical cancer; HPV vaccination; promoting physical activity and healthy diets; taxing tobacco, alcohol, and sugary drinks; and controlling tobacco – the leading cause of oral cancer and lung cancers and premature death.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in terms of the number of cases in WHO South-East Asia Region. In August 2020, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. The strategy calls on countries to reach an incidence of fewer than 4 cases per 100 000 women. Nine of the 11 Member countries of the Region have population-based cervical cancer screening programs. A few countries have introduced HPV vaccination for adolescent girls to prevent cervical cancer.

“We must scale up efforts to save lives and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

One of the key strategies to combat NCDs such as cancer has been to strengthen access to primary health care and referral systems for early detection and treatment.

In 2016 countries in the Region adopted the Colombo declaration to strengthen health systems to accelerate delivery of NCD services at the primary care level.

Last year, WHO launched new tools to help countries build effective childhood cancer programmes with the aim to reach at least 60 per cent survival rate for children with cancers by 2030, reduce suffering, and save an additional one million lives. Globally, an estimated 400 000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year.

‘Close the care gap’ is the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day is observed today, and is especially relevant with the pandemic having exacerbated inequalities making it harder for many to adopt healthier behavior or access preventive, diagnostic and treatment services.

“As countries build back and reprioritize public spending, we have an opportunity to focus on providing equitable access to tools for early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care to ensure a fairer future where everyone can live happier, healthier lives leaving no one behind,” the Regional Director said. (ANI)(instagram Imdage)

India facing highest unemployment in 50 years: Rahul Gandhi slams Centre


New Delhi [India] (ANI): Slamming the central government over the faulty policies, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said India is facing the highest level of unemployment in 50 years under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre.

Rahul Gandhi said, “Government speaks of providing employment. 3 crore youth lost their jobs in 2021. Today India is facing the highest unemployment in 50 years. You talk of Made-in-India, Start-Up India, but the youth did not get the employment they were supposed to. The one they had has disappeared. The government pushed 23 crore people back into poverty.”
The Congress MP said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had pulled 27 crore people out of poverty in 10 years.

“There was not a single word on unemployment in the President’s Address. The youth across the country is looking for jobs. The government is unable to provide them with one. They talk about ‘Made-in-India’. But there cannot be Made-in-India today. The matter has ended because who are the people involved in Made-in-India? Small and medium industry, unorganized sector – whom the Centre has finished. Made-in-India is not going to take place,” said Rahul Gandhi while addressing Lok Sabha during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address.

Gandhi further slammed the government for having made huge strategic mistake in foreign policy which brought China and Pakistan together.

“The single biggest strategic goal of India’s foreign policy has been to keep Pakistan and China separate. But what you have brought the two countries (Pakistan and China) together. This is the single biggest crime you have committed against the people of India,” says Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha.

Criticizing the President’s address that marked the beginning of the Budget Session of the Parliament, the Wayanad MP said the speech had no strategic vision and did not touch upon the main challenges that our country is facing currently including the growing gap between the extremely rich and the poor in the country.

“Unfortunately, the President’s Address was a long list of things that the government claims to have done but did not really contain the deeper strategic issues that we would have liked to see. It did not touch a couple of central challenges facing our country.”

“To me, it seemed that Presidential Address was a list of bureaucratic ideas instead of a strategic vision. It looked to me as if it has been constructed not by a vision of leadership but by a group of bureaucrats who had to simply put something down on paper,” stated the Congress MP.

He further said that the Presidental Address did not mention the idea of “two Indias”.

“I think there were three fundamental things that were not spoken about in the Presidential Address. First, and what I consider to be the most important, is the idea that there are now two Indias. There is now no longer one India,” said Rahul Gandhi.

“One India is for the extremely rich people – for those who have immense wealth, immense power, for those who do not need a job, those who do not need water connection, electricity connections, but for those who control the heartbeat of the country. And then another India for the poor. The gap between these two Indias is widening,” he added.

The 2022 Budget Session of the Parliament commenced on January 31 with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address. The first part of the budget session is being held from January 31 to February 11 and the second part will take place from March 14 to April 8. (image -instagram)

‘One Class, One TV channel’ program of PM eVIDYA to be expanded, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman


New Delhi [India]: The government will expand the PM e-Vidya programme of ‘One Class, One TV programme’ from 12 to 200 television channels, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the budget in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The move will enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages for classes 1 to 12, she added.
“Due to pandemic induced closure of schools, our children particularly in the rural areas and particularly of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections have lost two years of formal education. Most of these are children in government schools,” she said.

The minister further said, “We recognize the need to impart supplementary teaching and to build a resilient mechanism for education delivery. For this purpose one class one TV channel program of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels.”

“This will enable all states to provide supplementary education for classes in regional languages for classes 1 to 12. High-quality E content in all spoken languages will be developed for delivery via internet mobile phones, TV and through radio and digital teachers,” Sitharaman further said.

The Finance Minister has also proposed to set up a digital university to provide education that will be built on a hub and spoke model.

“A digital university will be established to provide access to students. Across the country for a word class quality universal education with personalized learning at their doorstep, this will be made available in different regional languages in ICT formats. The best public institutions and universities will collaborate,” she added.

The Union Cabinet approved the Budget 2022-23 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament.(ANI)

Goa just a vacation spot for Gandhi family, but BJP brought development to state: Amit Shah


Ponda (Goa) [India]: Union Home Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amit Shah during a political program in Ponda city of North Goa district on Sunday took a swipe at the Congress party and said that Goa is just a vacation spot for the Gandhi family but BJP has brought development to the state.

Addressing a public meeting in Ponda today, Shah said, “BJP brought development to Goa. For the Gandhi family, Goa is just a vacation spot. For BJP Goa means ‘Golden Goa’. But for Congress, it means ‘Gandhi Parivaar ka Goa’.”
“We raised the state’s budget from Rs 432 crores (2013-14) to 2,567 crores (Yr 2021),” he added.

He further said that ex-chief minister Digambar Kamat did nothing for infrastructure development but BJP has fulfilled its promises.

The senior BJP leader also praised Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for the work he has done in the state and said, “Goa CM Sawant Ji is working hard to realise Manohar Parrikar Ji’s dream of a Golden Goa true.”

Citing an example of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Goa, he said, “Goa’s vaccination speed has been the best in the country: 100 percent vaccination was achieved first by Pramod Sawant Ji’s government. Doses for kids are also going on at a good speed.”

Speaking about the Start-Up Policy, Shah expressed confidence that there will be a lot of start-ups in Goa before 2025.

“The Start-Up Policy brought by PM Modi has been taken to the masses in Goa comprehensively. I can envisage that there will be a lot of start-ups in Goa before 2025,” he asserted.

He also said that the BJP has an International Airport worth Rs 3,000 crore.

“Several other infrastructure projects have been started, including bridges and highways. Rs 6,000 crore fund has been provided to Goa to transform the National Highways into 6-laned roads,” Shah said.

He also stated that the Atal Setu Bridge or Juari Bridge can only be made possible by a double-engine government of BJP.

“Had the Atal Setu Bridge or Juari Bridge been made without the support of the Central government? It can only be made possible if there’s a double-engine govt of BJP: one at the Centre and another in the state here,” he further added.

Prior to addressing a public meeting at Ponda city today, the senior BJP leader who is on a day visit to poll-bound Goa also offered prayers at Sai Baba temple in Borim town. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was also present with him.

BJP has fielded its candidates on all 40 seats in the state assembly.

Goa will go to the assembly polls on February 14. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (ANI)

JeM commander Zahid Wani among five terrorists killed in twin encounters within 12 hours


Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: A Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander and a Pakistani terrorist among five terrorists associated with terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)and JeM were eliminated in two separate encounters with security forces in Pulwama and Budgam districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Five terrorists including JeM commander terrorist Zahid Wani and a Pakistani terrorist were killed in two encounters in the last 12 hours, said IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar on Sunday.
“05 terrorists of Pakistan sponsored proscribed terror outfits LeT and JeM killed in dual encounters in last 12 hours. JeM commander terrorist Zahid Wani and a Pakistani terrorist among the killed. Big success for us: IGP Kashmir,” tweeted Kashmir Zone Police.

As per police, four terrorists have been killed in an encounter that took place between security forces and terrorists in the Naira area of Pulwama district.

“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition recovered. Search is going on,” Kashmir Zone Police tweeted.

However, in an encounter that broke between security forces and terrorists in the Chrar-i-Sharief area of Budgam, one terrorist has been killed.

“Incriminating materials including an AK 56 rifle recovered. Search is going on,’ said police.

More details are awaited. (ANI-image -Instagram]

Punjab Elections 2022: Mayawati to kickstart poll campaign on Feb 8


Chandigarh (Punjab) [India](ANI): Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati will kickstart her campaign on February 8 for the Punjab Assembly polls scheduled next month.

The BSP chief will address a rally at Nawanshahr, said party’s Punjab President Jasvir Singh Garhi on Friday.
Garhi said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) -BSP alliance will form the next government in Punjab with a clear majority.

“The BSP-SAD alliance would free Punjab from the misrule of the Congress party with a victory in the 2022 assembly elections,” he said.

Notably, earlier this month, BSP general secretary SC Misra had said that Mayawati will not contest the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled next month, and will help the candidates win polls in the states.

Five states including Punjab are set to go to Assembly polls next month.

Elections in Punjab will be held on February 20 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10. (Image Mayawati-Insta)

US revokes China Unicom’s authority to operate in America over security concerns


Washington [US]: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it revoked China Unicom’s ability to provide its services in the United States due to national security concerns.

This decision to eject the Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator from the US market adds to the tally of other Chinese firms sanctioned by the agency over security concerns.
“The Federal Communications Commission adopted an Order ending the ability of China Unicom (Americas) Operations Limited to provide domestic interstate and international telecommunications services within the United States,” the FCC said in a press release on Thursday.

The FCC said that revoking the Chinese state-owned telecom operator’s authority safeguards the United States’ telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats.

The FCC said it found that the company’s subsidiary, China Unicom Americas, was subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government and could be required to comply with requests from Beijing.

The Chinese government could potentially access, store, disrupt, and misrouted US communications, which may allow them to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the United States, the FCC said.

In March last year, the Commission found that China Unicom Americas had failed to dispel serious concerns regarding the retention of its authority to provide telecommunications services in the United States.

Meanwhile, Beijing has repeatedly denied US spying allegations. (ANI)

Sensex down by 706 points


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], : Equity indices opened in red on Friday with the Sensex down by 706.25 points and Nifty down by 203.50 points.

The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was down by 706.25 points or 1.19 per cent at 58758.37 at 9.20 am.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 17553.50 at 9:20 am, down by 203.50 points or 1.15 per cent. (ANI)

Karnataka: CM Bommai holds meet for renovation, improvement of Mysuru Sugar Factory


Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], (ANI): Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday held a meeting in a virtual mode with the management of the state-owned Mysuru Sugar Factory to discuss the renovation of the factory and measures to recover it from losses.

Co-operative Minister ST Somashekhar, state chief secretary Ravikumar and other senior officials were present in the meeting.
Earlier, the state government had halted the move to privatise the factory.

Congress Legislative Party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday participated in a protest held at the Farmers’ Protection Committee in Mandya, demanding that Karnataka retain ownership of the historical Mysuru Sugar Company Limited Factory.

“The Mysore sugar factory is the only government-owned sugar mill in the state which has a total of 65 sugar factories. Therefore, I demand that the factory be kept in the state’s possession without being privatized,” said Siddaramaiah participating in the Dharani Satyagraha.

Founded by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar in the pre-independence era, the Mysugar Sugar Factory which been in profit for many years and has subsequently suffered losses. Siddaramaiah said that the government and not the farmers is responsible for the loss and the onus lies on the government to revive it.

“So many state-owned factories and companies are now at a loss. The government must find out what causes the loss and revive them,” the former chief minister said.

JD(S) MLA Annadani had in the state Parliament session asked the government about the Mysugar sugar factory. “I then intervened and urged the Speaker to allow at least half an hour of discussion as this was an important issue. At my insistence, the Chairperson allowed the debate in the session. I also brought to the notice of the government several factors and urged the factory to be retained by the government,” Sidaramaiah said.

“At first, the government-appointed managing director had no interest in the factory. How about the factory getting back on track? When I was the chief minister, the factory had 145 crore funds to save factory. (Image –ANI)

Kerala reports 5,797 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths in last 24 hrs


Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India] (ANI): Kerala reported 5,797 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, as per the state health bulletin on Monday.

With this, the active caseload in the state has gone up to 37,736.
As many as 19 people have succumbed to coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 49,757 in Kerala.

Meanwhile, a total of 2,796 persons have recovered from the COVID-19 infection in the last 24 hours.

At present, Kerala has also reported 333 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 so far, out of which, 93 have been recovered from the infection. (Image source – Freerange)

Karachi witnesses harrowing spike in COVID-19 cases


Karachi [Pakistan](ANI): Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, experienced an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases, with the virus positivity ratio reaching over 15% on Saturday, said the authorities from the Sindh health department.

According to the head of Dow Diagnostic Research and Reference Laboratory (DDRRL), 87% of patients were affected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, of which 60% were women, reported Geo News.
The Sindh Government has decided to start a door-to-door vaccination drive next week, as the country observes the fast spread of Omicron.

COVID-19 vaccinations have been distributed by the Sindh health department to dozens of private hospitals and laboratories.

The virus is harming fully vaccinated persons, as well as those who have had a booster vaccine in certain circumstances, according to health experts, reported Geo News.

However, when compared to individuals who are unvaccinated or have only received a single dosage, the symptoms and their intensity in vaccinated individuals are observed to be reduced. (Image Instagram)

Australia: New South Wales sees deadliest day amid new wave of Omicron pandemic


Sydney [Australia](ANI/Xinhua): Australia’s state of New South Wales (NSW) recorded its deadliest day since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the country in early 2020, with 18 deaths including a child under five.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the child who died at home had “significant underlying health conditions.”
The state recorded 20,293 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8:00 p.m. local time Sunday, slightly dropped from the peak daily increase of over 45,000 on last Saturday.

However, Chant said the number “clearly is an underestimated” as a result of the do-it-yourself rapid antigen tests (RAT), which is currently used as an alternative to the PCR test, still unable to be registered through the government website.

Chant urged people, even if they test positive on a RAT instead of the PCR test, to connect with health services to ensure they are safe for the duration of the disease.

“If you fall into the categories where you are unvaccinated, you are pregnant, you have chronic underlying medical conditions, please don’t delay getting a COVID-19 diagnosis.”

At the same time, the number of hospitalizations and people in intensive care in NSW continued to increase, as 2,030 hospitalizations with 159 people in intensive care 47 of whom require ventilation were recorded on Monday.

Meanwhile, the state of Queensland delayed the start of the new school year, as the state is still battling hard with the new wave of the pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s 2022 school year will start on February 7, to avoid the predicted Omicron wave peak and to allow more time for children to get vaccinated.

“Delaying the start of school is a common-sense measure which is particularly important for five to 11-year-old who will be eligible to be vaccinated from January 10.”

On Monday, Queensland reported 9,581 new cases, lower from a peak of 18,000 cases recorded on Sunday. (Image-Dreamstime)

Tamil Nadu FM Palanivel Thiagarajan launches PNG Coffee in India, AdzGuru connects businesses of India and Papua New Guinea

Chennai: Australia based company, AdzGuru in collaboration with Indian Economic Trade Organization, Asian-African Chamber Of Commerce & Industry, India Pacific Islands Trade Council and World Peace and Diplomacy Organization, organized ‘Papua New Guinea Trade Investment Summit’ alongside the launching of PNG coffee in India. The event was graced by Mr. Palanivel Thiagarajan, Minister of Finance & Human Resource, Tamil Nadu, HE Paulias Korni OBE, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to India, Mr. Sujoy Maitra, CEO, AdzGuru, Mr. Thiru Gingee K. S. Masthan, Minister of Non-Resident Tamil Welfare,Tamil Nadu, Dr. Asif Iqbal, President, IETO, Dr. R. L. Kannan, National Director, Asian Arab Chamber Of Commerce, India Pacific Islands Trade Council, Dr. R. C. M. Vishnu Prabhu and Dr. Venkatchalam Murugan.

Launch of PNG Coffee, High Commissioner Paulias Korni, FM P.Thiagarajan and Sujoy Maitra, CEO, AdzGuru with dignitaries

High Commissioner, HE Paulias Korni depicted how coffee binds us together – people from various cultures, creeds, religions, and ethnicities get easily connected through a single sip. He stressed on the growing importance of strategic partnerships between the resource rich island nation and the emerging economic player in the global arena, the incredible, India. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between AdzGuru and GD Cafe PVT LTD was signed to launch PNG Gold Coffee in India.

This welcome move certainly comes as a major development so far as the trade relation between India and Papua New Guinea is concerned. It’s a stepping stone to grow the economic ties and minimize the present trade imbalance between the two nations. This first of its kind initiative will be beneficial to more than three million coffee farmers in PNG and Indian business owners who want to promote coffee and culture to the other side of the Indian Ocean, Sujoy Maitra, CEO, AdzGuru told reporters.

Honorable Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan welcomed the initiative and emphasized on the growing trade opportunities between the two countries. He promised all the support needed for the growth of the economy of Tamil Nadu and India at large. He congratulated all the stakeholders of this trade connect initiative.

The PNG High Commissioner to India stated that there are challenges like DOUBLE TAXATION, high import duty in trade relations between PNG and India. He has requested the central government in this regard and hopes to resolve these issues in favor of the people of both the countries. Speakers emphasized that Mr. Sujoy Maitra, CEO, AdzGuru, is instrumental in not only launching the highland grown, exquisite, PNG Gold Coffee in India, but also to make such a diplomatic talk happen, which eventually strengthens the bond between the two nations and connects the respective merchants, business community and commoners together. AdzGuru will be branding, marketing, and promoting the PNG Coffee across Indian cities. Company is also going to set up coffee chain stores in different metros.

India, China to hold 14th round Corps Commander talks on Jan 12


New Delhi [India]: In a bid to resolve the ongoing stand-off on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India and China are likely to hold the 14th round of corps commander talks on January 12.
This would be the first time that the Indian Army’s new 14 ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps Commander Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta would be representing the country in talks with the Chinese side. He took over formally on Tuesday.

The 14th round of India-China talks are likely to be held on January 12 to mainly resolve the Hot Springs area which is the only new friction point left to be resolved between the two countries, government sources told ANI.

India and China have been holding talks on the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Ladakh area to resolve the standoff and 13 rounds have been held so far.

The two sides are looking at the resolution of the Hot Springs friction point which emerged after the Chinese aggression last year.

The friction points on the banks of the Pangong lake and Gogra heights have been resolved but Hot Springs remains to be addressed, the sources said.

India has also been demanding the resolution of the DBO area and CNN junction area which have been there before the April-May timeframe last year and are considered to be legacy issues.

India responded very aggressively to Chinese aggression and checked their actions at multiple locations.

The 2020 Galwan clash also took place in June there in which both sides suffered casualties.

India has been working towards establishing peace in the area but has also maintained a high level of preparedness to thwart any misadventure by the enemy troops.

India has also made rapid developments in terms of roads and habitats for troops and sources estimated that India can easily manage over 2 lakh soldiers in the area in extreme winters in case such a large number of troops are required to be there.

Sikh community in pakistan targetted?


Islamabad [Pakistan: sikh community in pakistan is no longer feeling safe as per reports.

As per Al Arabiya Post, irregularities in the audit of Kartarpur Corridor (KC), Gulab Devi Lahore underpass name changed to Abdul Sattar Edhi and prohibition on Sikhs to carry sword inside government offices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are cases in point.
Nabeela Irfan, Deputy Commissioner, Narowal in a letter addressed in December last year to Maj Gen Kamal Azfar, DG, Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has alleged that the organization has misappropriated funds of KC and is refusing to provide account documents to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Auditor General of Pakistan responsible for the audit of KC.

Nabeel has also alleged that irregularities have come to notice in a report submitted by Dr Shoaib Salim ADC, Narowal. The report contains the following irregularities amounting to approximately 165 crore PKR (Pakistan Rupee).

A bill of 7 lakh cement bags has been deposited while actual usage was of around 4.29 lakh cement bags, reported Al Arabiya Post.

The base of the buildings has been kept 11.5 feet deep instead of 18 feet and the bricks bought from Chaudhary Mukhtar, Brick Kiln owner, Shakargarh were of low quality while the bill was submitted of good quality bricks.

Moreover, Global Nobel Company which was given major work of KC is owned by one Brig (Retd) Yousuf Mirza which was constituted just three days prior to awarding of KC Project contract, reported Al Arabiya Post.

Another glowing example of the plight of Sikhs in Pakistan is changing the name of Gulab Devi underpass situated opposite Gulab Devi Chest Hospital to Abdul Sattar Edhi underpass by the Punjab government on December 21.

This was announced by Usman Buzdar, CM Punjab while inaugurating the renovated underpass. (Gulab Devi was the mother of Lala Lajpat Rai. Lajpat Rai had established the trust to build and run a TB hospital in memory of his mother in 1927), reported Al Arabiya Post.

Meanwhile, Peshawar High Court in its December 23 order prohibited Sikhs from carrying the ‘Kirpan’ while entering Government offices including Judicial courts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

High Court has further asked Sikhs to apply for arms license to carry the sword in person. Peshawar based Sikhs had filed a case in court (July 2020) for allowing them to carry the sword in public places citing that it was part of their Sikh religion and Amritdhari Sikhs have to wear the sword under Sikh tenets (Part of 5 Kakars), reported Al Arabiya Post.

In a letter addressed on December 21 to Gurpal Singh, Peshawar based Sikh leader, the Additional Registrar of Peshawar High court directed that the sword has been declared a licensed weapon and thus Sikhs have to secure a license for the same.

Pakistan’s progress at stake due to economic stagnation


Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s economic progress appears to be at stake due to economic stagnation with Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government’s failed efforts to increase foreign direct investments.

According to a report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), FDI inflow to Pakistan decreased by 30 per cent to USD 1.39 billion during July-March (FY 2020-21) against USD 2.15 billion for the same period in the previous year, reported The Singapore Post.
The drop is an indication of the country’s deteriorating business climate for investments including for the telecommunication sector. However, the Pak government blamed the overall weak global trends for the tepid FDI inflows.

Depreciating Pakistan’s currency PKR (Pakistan Rupee) and continuing high inflation rate are viewed as the immediate factors affecting returns for foreign investors, reported The Singapore Post.

The value of PKR has plummeted to around Rs 177.49 against USD by December 2021 from Rs 123 in August 2018, a depreciation of over 44 per cent since the current PM took over administration.

PKR is among the world’s worst-performing currencies in recent times and has depreciated with respect to all major currencies of the world. Inflation also rose from 5.65 per cent in January-2021 to 12.3 per cent in the month of December in 2021.

Pakistan’s inconsistent economic growth rate, rising debt payments, a balance of payment crisis, increasing country’s current account and fiscal deficits and poor security scenario have also impacted foreign investor’s confidence, reported The Singapore Post.

The country’s terror financing and anti-money laundering laws are also still not compliant with international standards. Further, political instability and constant imbalance in civil-military relations too discourages foreign investment.

The FATF’s (Financial Action Task Force) listing of Pakistan in grey list intermittently also resulted in a USD 38 billion economic loss coupled with stringent domestic tax and interest rate policies, contributing to deteriorating business interests for overseas investors, reported The Singapore Post.

The US Department of State, in its 2021 Investment Climate Statement on Pakistan noted that Pakistan remains a challenging environment for investors with FDI declining by 29 per cent in the first half of FY 2021 against the same time period in FY 2020, despite having a relatively open formal regime, reported The Singapore Post.

Compared with the regional competitors, it attributed the declining trend to unpredictable security situations; lengthy dispute resolution processes; poor intellectual property rights enforcement; inconsistent taxation policies; and lack of harmonization of rules across provinces, reported The Singapore Post.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s ‘all-weather/iron friend’ China is also wary of the present business climate in the country. China has been the largest investor in Pakistan for several years. However, Chinese FDI inflow during July-March (FY2020-21) had declined to USD 650.8 million compared to USD 859.3 million during the same period for the previous year.

China’s reluctance for investing in the Phase-II of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) construction project can be seen in the backdrop of emerging differences between the two countries over the USD 6.8 billion worth of railway project. It was also attributed to the increased debt burden of Pakistan, corruption in the CPEC authority & Chinese companies residing in Pakistan, as well attempts to expand military control over the CPEC projects, reported The Singapore Post.

The adverse business climate also impacted Pakistan’s other indicators. The current government nearly doubled its foreign debt in just three years, adding USD 35.1 billion to bring the total to USD 85.6 billion as of June 30, 2021

PM to inaugurate second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata


New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in West Bengal’s Kolkata on January 7 at 1 PM through video conferencing.

“The second campus of CNCI has been built in line with the Prime Minister’s vision to expand and upgrade the health facilities in all parts of the country. CNCI was facing a heavy load of cancer patients and a need for expansion was being felt for some time. This need will be fulfilled through the second campus,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“At 1 PM tomorrow, 7th January, I will join the programme to inaugurate the second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in Kolkata. This Institute will augment healthcare capacities in Eastern India and in the Northeast,” PM Modi tweeted.

The second campus of CNCI has been built at a cost of over Rs 530 crore, out of which around Rs 400 crores have been provided by the Union government and the rest by the West Bengal government, in the ratio of 75:25. The campus is a 460 bedded comprehensive cancer center unit with cutting-edge infrastructure for cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment, and care. The campus is equipped with modern facilities like Nuclear Medicine (PET), 3.0 Tesla MRI, 128 slice CT scanner, Radionuclide therapy unit, endoscopy suite, modern brachytherapy units, etc. The campus will also work as an advanced cancer research facility and will provide comprehensive care to cancer patients especially those from Eastern and North-Eastern parts of the country. (ANI)

Aditya Roy Kapur to start shooting for ‘Thadam’ remake


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: It’s going to be a busy year for actor Aditya Roy Kapur as he has a lot of projects in his kitty.

According to a source, Aditya will soon start shooting for ‘The Night Manager’ remake and ‘Thadam’ remake in the upcoming days.
“Aditya Roy Kapur has packed a slate for this year. He starts shooting for both the projects – The Night Manager remake and Thadam remake – simultaneously in the month of January. He will be shooting long hours and will pull off night shifts to juggle between the starkly different projects,” the source added.

For the unversed, ‘Thadam’ remake will be helmed by debutant Vardhan Ketkar. The original, directed by Magizh Thirumeni featured Arun Vijay in a double role along with Tanya Hope, Smruthi Venkat and Vidya Pradeep.

Speaking of ‘The Night Manager’, it is an espionage thriller that has a tense cat and mouse chase between a covert agent and a secret arms dealer. The 2016 series features Tom Hiddleston in the lead role. In the remake, Aditya will essay the titular character. (ANI)

Grammy Awards 2022 postponed amid Omicron surge


Washington [US]: The 2022 Grammy Awards will not take place as scheduled amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, fuelled by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

As per People magazine, the award show, which celebrates the best in music, has been postponed until further notice.
The Recording Academy and CBS made the announcement in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority,” the statement read.

“Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on Jan. 31 simply contains too many risks. We look forward to celebrating music’s biggest night on a future date, which will be announced soon,” the statement concluded.

This is the second year in a row that the award ceremony has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reported People magazine.

Last year, the show was postponed until March, and shortly after the announcement, Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy told Entertainment Tonight that the decision was made “based on the decline of the health circumstances around Los Angeles and the country” amid the ongoing pandemic.

“It didn’t feel like the right time to be having the show on Jan. 31,” he previously said.

He added, “COVID-19 has had a big impact on our planning process and how we’re putting the show together. As we move to our March 14 date, it’ll give us a little more flexibility to watch what happens and to have more conversations with health officials and continue to evolve the show.”

The award show did indeed take place in March, outdoors with precautions in place to be quarantine-friendly and partly virtual.

This year’s award show, hosted by Trevor Noah for his second consecutive year was set to take place at the Arena in Los Angeles.

John Batiste is leading this year’s nominations with 11 nods — including album of the year, record of the year and best R&B album.

Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. each notched eight nominations, while Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo will head into Grammys night with seven apiece.

A new date for Grammys 2022 has not been set yet. A slew of other events has been cancelled or postponed due to the surge of COVID-19 cases spurred by the Omicron variant.

Among the ceremonies postponed so far are the Critics Choice Awards, the Governors Awards and the AFI Awards. BAFTA’s Tea Party has been cancelled, as have a number of premiere events including those for ‘How I Met Your Father’ and ‘Peacemaker’. Broadway has also seen its share of cancellations and postponements. (ANI)

Gujarat: 6 killed and many hospitalised due to gas leak in Surat


Surat (Gujarat) [India]: Six people have died and 20 others have been hospitalised in an incident of a gas leak at a company in Sachin GIDC area of Gujarat’s Surat on Thursday.

“Six people died and 20 others were admitted to the civil hospital after gas leakage at a company in Sachin GIDC area of Surat early morning today,” the In-Charge Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Omkar Chaudhary informed.
Further details are awaited.

COVID cases are doubling each day In India: Experts


By Shalini Bhardwaj

New Delhi [India]: With India continuing to witness a surge in COVID-19 cases, Health Expert has said that the infections are doubling each day and advised people to be vigilant as the next two weeks will be crucial.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Ashish Khattar, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Delhi’s Venkateshwar Hospital said that the cases are doubling each day but the symptoms are mild with upper respiratory tract infection and there is no major requirement for hospitalisation.

“In the last three days, we have seen doubling of COVID-19 cases and even more than that. Definitely, over the next two weeks, we can see a certain spurt in COVID-19 cases. By end of January, a major population would have been affected,” Dr Khattar said.

Notably, India on Wednesday reported 58,097 fresh COVID cases and 534 deaths while on Tuesday, the country had recorded 37,379 new COVID cases and 124 deaths.

“Majorly, we are witnessing is an upper respiratory tract infection in patients. People are coming commonly with complaints of fever, headache, back pain, severe lethargy, fatigue, running nose, blocked nose, throat pain, and minimal cough. Over the last four or five days, I have seen 60-70 patients, but none of them complained of any respiratory distress or breathlessness. Of these patients, we have hardly admitted one,” Dr Khattar said.

According to him, most of the infected people are in home isolation and are recovering well adding that the hospitalisation rate is less this time as compared to the last wave of the pandemic.

“I haven’t seen anybody complaining of worsening of the illness and landing at the hospital or any fall in the saturation,” he said.

When asked about the treatment being given to COVID-infected patients, Dr Khattar said that commonly, symptomatic medications like cetirizine, anti-inflammatory drugs or antipyretics like paracetamol, few multi-vitamins like Vitamin C, Zincovid are being given.

Raising a note of caution as Omicron is steadily spreading, Dr Khattar said, “It is a viral infection and mutations have been happening. We don’t know when the mutations turn up again and the illness becomes severe. Thus, I suggest that people be vigilant, whether it is a mild infection or severe infection. It is unclear when this minor infection might turn into severe disease.”

Urging people to stick to following COVID appropriate behaviour, Dr Khattar suggested on using double masks.

“I’m not even saying N95. I’m saying double mask. You can use a surgical mask along with your N95,” he said.

‘Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bhatinda airport tak zinda laut paaya’, PM Modi told officials after security breach during Punjab visit


Bhatinda (Punjab) [India]:Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had to return to Bathinda airport on Wednesdy due to security breach during his visit to Punjab, is learnt to have told state government officials at the airport, “Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bhatinda airport tak zinda laut paaya”.

Officials at Bhatinda Airport told ANI that PM Modi on his return to Bhatinda airport told officials there,”Apne CM ko thanks kehna, ki mein Bhatinda airport tak zinda laut paaya.” (Say thanks to your CM that I was able to return to Bhatinda airport alive).
The Home Ministry has taken cognisance of the “serious security lapse” and has sought a detailed report from the state government. The State Government has also been asked to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action.

The Home Ministry said in a statement that PM Modi landed at Bathinda on Wednesday morning from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter.

Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out.

The statement said that when the weather did not improve, it was decided that he would visit the National Marytrs Memorial via road, which would take more than two hours. The Prime Minister proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police.

Around 30 kms away from the National Martyrs Memorial in Hussainiwala, when the Prime Minister’s convoy reached a flyover, it was found that the road was blocked by some protestors.

The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes.

“This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab Government. As per procedure, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready,” the statement said.

“Also in view of the contingency plan the Punjab Government has to deploy additional security to secure any movement by road , which were clearly not deployed. After this security lapse, it was decided to head back to Bathinda Airport,” it added.

BJP leaders slammed the Punjab government for the “security breach”.

Party chief JP Nadda said it is sad that the PM’s visit to launch development projects worth thousands of crores for Punjab was disrupted.

“But we will not let such cheap mentality hinder progress of Punjab and will continue the effort for the development of Punjab,” he said in a tweet.

“The state police was instructed to prevent people from attending the rally. Large number of buses were stranded because of the high-handedness of the police & connivance with protestors,” he added.

Nadda also slammed Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and said he “refused to get on the phone”.

“To make matters worse, CM Channi refused to get on the phone to either address the matter or solve it. The tactics used by the Congress government in Punjab would pain any one who believes in democratic principles,” Nadda said. (ANI)

Lukaku apologises to Chelsea fans, Tuchel days after suggesting he wants to join Inter Milan


London [UK]: Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has apologised to the fans of the club, manager Thomas Tuchel and his teammates days after saying that he is unhappy with the club.

In an interview with Sky Sport Italia, Lukaku had said that he is unhappy with Tuchel’s way of managing Chelsea adding that he hopes to link up with his old club Inter Milan.
“To the fans, I’m sorry for the upset that I caused. You guys know the connection that I have had with this club since my teenage years, so I totally understand you guys being upset. Obviously, it’s up to me now to restore your trust and I’ll do my best to show commitment every day on the training ground and in the games to make sure we win games,” Lukaku said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of Chelsea.

“To the manager, I apologise and to my team-mates and the squad because I think it was not the right moment and I want to move forward from this make sure we start winning football games and that I perform for the team in the best manner,” he added.

Lukaku was left out of the Chelsea squad for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Liverpool.

Liverpool and Chelsea had played out a 2-2 draw on Sunday and Lukaku is now set to return to the team going forward.

Talking about Lukaku’s, Tuchel in a press conference said: “First of all, we are happy that we took the time to look calmly on it, this is what we did. He apologised and is back in the squad for training today. The most important thing was to understand and believe it was not intentional. There was never the slightest behaviour against the team. These are very important points to understand that it is not that big as people or you want it to be. It is also not small but small enough to stay calm, to accept an apology, and to move on.”

“He is aware of what happened and he created and feels the responsibility to clean the mess up but there may still be a smell of course. We are happy that he is our player and we will protect him. If someone strongly disagrees, this is about the team with everything we do,” he added.

Former US President Trump cancels Jan 6 news conference on anniversary of Capitol riots

Washington [US]: Former US President Donald Trump has cancelled the planned news conference on the one-year anniversary of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

In a statement, Trump blamed the House select committee charged with investigating the January 6 riot for the cancellation. He said he would instead touch on many of the themes he had planned to discuss at the news conference during a rally in Arizona set for January 15, reported The Hill.
“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am cancelling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, and instead will discuss many of those important topics at my rally on Saturday, January 15th, in Arizona – It will be a big crowd!” he said.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the US Capitol Thursday to mark the anniversary of last year’s riot, according to Fox News.

The president and vice president will deliver remarks during their appearance at the Capitol for the anniversary of January 6th.

Trump was expected to use the Thursday news conference to reiterate his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud and to criticize the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers met to certify President Biden’s electoral win.

His remarks were expected to serve as a split-screen to a solemn prayer service in Washington that will mark the worst attack on the US Capitol in centuries, reported The Hill.

While Trump still commands the loyalty of the GOP and its voters, his planned news conference stirred anxiety among some Republicans who feared that the party and its candidates could be forced to relitigate the 2020 election and the former president’s false claim of fraud as the 2022 midterm elections near.

Delhi likely to report 5,500 COVID cases today: Satyender Jain


New Delhi [India]: Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain on Tuesday informed that the city is expected to report 5,500 COVID cases today, with a positivity rate of 8.5 per cent.

“Today, Delhi is expected to report 5500 COVID cases, with the positivity rate rising to 8.5,” Jain told reporters here.
Amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has decided to impose a weekend curfew in the national capital.

Addressing a press conference after the DDMA meeting today, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia informed that buses and metro trains will again run at full seating capacity to avoid crowding outside metro stations and at bus stops.

“The DDMA has decided to impose a curfew in Delhi on Saturdays and Sundays to curb COVID-19 surge. All government officials except for those engaged in essential services will work from home. 50 per cent workforce of private offices will work from home,” he said.

“Buses and metro trains will again run at full seating capacity to avoid crowding outside metro stations and at bus stops,” he added.

The Deputy Chief Minister informed that cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been rapidly rising. “Delhi has reported around 11,000 positive cases in the past 8-10 days, of which around 350 patients are in hospital, only 124 patients need oxygen and 7 are on a ventilator,” he added.

Delhi has been witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The city reported 4,099 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the positivity rate in the national capital to 6.46 per cent, Delhi’s health department bulletin informed on Monday.

The active cases in the city have gone to 10,986 and the cumulative tally of the COVID-19 cases now stands at 14,58,220.

In the last 24 hours, Delhi also witnessed one COVID-related death taking the death toll to 25,100. (ANI)

Northeast will become major driver of India’s growth: PM Modi in Manipur


Imphal (Manipur) [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the Northeastern states will become major drivers of India’s growth in the upcoming years with Manipur as the main source of the country’s growth trajectory.

While addressing the inauguration programme of developmental projects here, PM Modi said as Manipur will be completing 50 years of statehood on January 21, the state “will become the main source of India’s growth trajectory and will stretch its potential to other parts of India via enhanced road connectivity and infrastructure projects.”
Adding that the Northeast is all set to become the “new gate of development” for the country, PM Modi said, “The Northeast, where Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s army hoisted the flag for the first time calling it the gateway to India’s independence, is now becoming the gateway to fulfil the dreams of New India.”

PM Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of several developmental projects here today.

PM Modi inaugurated 13 Projects worth over Rs 1,850 crores and laid the foundation stone of nine projects worth around Rs 2,950 crore; spanning across sectors such as Road Infrastructure, Drinking Water Supply, Health, Urban Development, IT and more.

He also laid the foundation stone of construction of five National Highway Projects to be built at a cost of more than Rs 1,700 crore, with a cumulative length of more than 110 km.

Curfew in Delhi: Weekend curfew imposed in Delhi, People asked to remain indoors


New Delhi [India]: Amid the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases in the national capital, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Tuesday is likely to implement a weekend curfew in Delhi, sources said.

A meeting was of DDMA was held today under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
At the meeting, the current COVID-19 situation and the increasing Omicron cases were reviewed.

DDMA last week ordered the closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms with immediate effect and put various restrictions on the functioning of shops and public transport as a yellow alert was sounded under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The night curfew has also been imposed from 10 pm (earlier 11 pm) to 5 am in the national capital.

Earlier today, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced that he has been tested positive of COVID-19.

The city reported 4,099 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the positivity rate in the national capital to 6.46 per cent, Delhi’s health department bulletin informed on Monday.

The active cases in the city have gone to 10,986 and the cumulative tally of the COVID-19 cases now stands at 14,58,220.

In the last 24 hours, Delhi also witnessed one COVID-related death taking the death toll to 25,100. (ANI)

ADZGURU initiates Australia -India Trade Connect in Post Covid Scenario, Major Announcements Expected on 7th Jan

Chennai: In a one of its kind initiative the 360 degree marketing and advertising firm Adzguru is launching its trade connecting services for small and medium Indian exporters and manufacturers. Headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, ADZGURU has been in the business for the last 17 years, the company has started its operation in India from July 2019 and has provided digital & offline marketing services to its clients based in India, Australia and New Zealand & Papua New Guinea.

On 7th of January at Chennai, Company will announce many new initiatives to help business houses to spread their business across Australia, New Zealand and PNG in a high profile event. High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea, his Excellency, H E Paulias Korni, OBE. will also grace the occasion at Chennai apart from other eminent dignitaries.

Under a new business initiative, “Sale in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea Programme’ Adzguru will be providing one stop solution to business owners to reach markets in the above mentioned countries. The company will be providing facilities like retail space, E-Commerce platform, Accounting & Taxation, Licensing & Compliance and 360 degree marketing of their products and services at a nominal consultation fee.

Talking about the initiative Sujoy Maitra, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Adzguru Australia said “After observing the nuances faced by Indian business owners like language barrier, government policies, currency exchange & inflation and marketing while trying to expand their business in Australia, we came up with ‘Sale With Adzguru Trade Connecting Services’. It is our endeavour to encourage fruitful trade relations between India, Australia & Papua New Guinea in the post covid scenario. This initiative will help thousands of small and medium Traders, Manufacturers and big Corporates as well’.

The agency has already brought Australian brands like Launch Tee and Ready steady Go Kids In India and Indian brands like Vicco, Suman Fashions and Pushpa Jute Bags in Australia. Presently the company is operating from its office in Chennai, Odisha and Chennai.

India reports 33,750 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hrs, Omicron tally rises to 1,700


New Delhi [India] India reported 33,750 new COVID-19 cases and 123 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday.

According to the ministry, the number of Omicron infections stands at 1,700 and it has spread to 23 states. Maharashtra is the worst-affected state with 510 cases, followed by Delhi with 351.
As per the ministry, the country also recorded 10,849 recoveries in the past 24 hours.

The country’s active caseload currently stands at 1,45,582. This accounts for less than 1 per cent of total cases which is currently at 0.42 per cent.

The total number of recoveries stands at 3,42,95,407. India’s recovery rate is currently at 98.20 per cent.

Meanwhile, with the administration of 23,30,706 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage exceeded 145.68 Crore (1,45,68,89,306) as per provisional reports till 7 am today.

While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, the weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 1.68 per cent and the daily positivity rate stands at 3.84 per cent.

A total of 68.09 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted in India so far.

Political engagement with us will benefit international community: Taliban

taliban cabinet, kabul news, latest taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban has said that recognition is not a need for the organization but a need of the world, local media reported on Sunday.

“Recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is not a need of Afghanistan but of the international community as Afghanistan is a member of the community and political engagement with Afghanistan will benefit all,” Khaama Press quoted Taliban spokesperson Inamullah Samangani as saying.
Samangani warned the international community of adverse consequences if it does not recognize the IEA, Khaama Press further reported.

No country has yet recognised the Taliban regime.

The Taliban took over control of Kabul on August 15 and following this the country has been battered by deepening economic, humanitarian and security crisis.

A combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghan government assets, and international sanctions on the Taliban, have plunged a country already suffering from high poverty levels into a full-blown economic crisis.

The international community, from governments to non-governmental organizations, has been providing various assistance to the Afghan people.

Calcutta HC, district courts to function in virtual mode from Jan 3

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Amid rising concerns for COVID-19 and Omicron variant, Calcutta High Court and district courts will function in a virtual mode with certain exceptions from January 3.
As per an official notice by Calcutta HC, “Calcutta High Court and district courts will function in virtual mode. Hybrid mode is allowed only in respect of bail matters where public prosecutors will be allowed to be physically present with case diary and in other matters where Government and other advocates are to produce or tender documents in court.” The order read that the concerned stakeholders including Court-staff should get themselves fully vaccinated and should adhere to the norms of social distancing and COVID-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, India reported 22,775 new COVID-19 cases and 406 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.
According to the ministry, the number of Omicron infections stands at 1,431 and it has spread to 23 states. Maharashtra is the worst-affected state with 454 cases, followed by Delhi with 351.

Russia Foreign Minister denies official recognition of Taliban authorities

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has emphasized that official recognition of Taliban regime in Afghanistan which took power in August last year is not possible despite maintaining working contacts.
Official recognition of the government of the Taliban movement in Kabul will depend on how their promises are fulfilled, including on countering threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Frontier Post. Further, Russia maintains working contacts with representatives of the Taliban movement (banned in the Russian Federation) who came to power in Afghanistan, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“We maintain working contacts with representatives of the new Afghan authorities, including through our embassy in Kabul. In the context of the socio-economic crisis, the humanitarian sphere is becoming a particularly urgent area of practical interaction,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
Russian Foreign Minister recalled that the Russian side delivered several consignments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in November and December, and also helped Afghan students get to the Russian Federation to continue their studies.
“Our colleagues from the Russian Ministry of Defense are making a great useful contribution to these noble efforts,” he said.
“Official recognition of the government of the Taliban movement in Kabul will depend on how their promises are fulfilled, including on countering threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan,” he added.
The Russian Foreign Minister further mentioned that Afghanistan’s effort in counter-terrorism will be watched.
“In connection with this, we will, in solidarity with the rest of the world community, gradually move towards the exclusion of the Taliban movement from the UN Security Council sanctions lists, which in turn would create the basis for the official recognition of the new government of Afghanistan,” Lavrov said.
Earlier, Russia delivered to Afghanistan the third batch of humanitarian aid weighing 36 tons, consisting of food and medicine in December.
Meanwhile, a 200 passengers, including Russian citizens and Afghan students, who are studying in Russia, arrived in Moscow by special export flights of the Russian Defense Ministry from Kabul.
In the period from August 26 to December 1, 770 citizens of the Russian Federation, the CSTO member states (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia), Ukraine and Afghanistan were evacuated from the territory of Afghanistan by military transport aircraft, and more than 100 tons of humanitarian cargo were delivered, according to Frontier Post.

Taiwanese President Tsai advises China against ‘military adventurism’

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during her New Year address at the presidential office in Taipei on Saturday called on China to resolve their differences peacefully, saying Beijing should curb the spread of “military adventurism.”
Tsai strongly protested against China’s “military incursions,” which she said “are of no benefit to the preservation of regional peace and stability,” reported NHK World. Reiterating Taiwan’s position she said that it was consistent and that it “will neither bow to pressure nor act rashly when we have support.”
Tsai said Chinese authorities “should not misjudge the situation, and that they should stop the spread of military adventurism within their ranks,” reported NHK World.
Tsai added that “the use of military means is absolutely not an option” for resolving the differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. She warned that military clashes would deal a blow to economic stability.
Further, Tsai also brought up the recent arrests of people in Hong Kong in connection with an online media outlet known for its critical stance against the Hong Kong government.
Tsai said the pursuit of democracy and freedom is not a crime, and that Taiwan’s position in support of Hong Kong will not change, reported NHK World.
She said Taiwan will cherish its “own hard-earned freedom and democracy even more deeply.”
She expressed resolve to “show the world that democratic Taiwan has the courage to step out from the shadow of authoritarian China.”
China continues to consider Taiwan a breakaway province even after decades of separate governance. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, even as Beijing continues to threaten that “Taiwan’s independence” by means of war.
Amid the constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China, Taiwan President noted the challenge to uphold its freedom, democracy, and consensus to connect with the world.
Taiwan witnessed 950 intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military planes into its Air Defence Identification Zone in 2021 so far, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, Taiwanese media reported that the island is anticipating a further rise in the number of intrusions as China has ramped up sorties over the past few years.

Fashion Diva Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas step into 2022 with a romantic ‘New Year Kiss’


Washington [US]: Celebrity couple Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, on Saturday, shared a beautiful glimpse from their New Year celebration.

Nick took to his Instagram handle and shared an adorable picture where Priyanka could be seen packing a kiss on his cheek. Sharing the mushy post, he wrote, “My forever New Years kiss.”

Priyanka donned a white slip dress, while Nick wore a beige coloured mesh shirt for the celebration.

The post garnered more than six lakh likes and thousands of comments from fans and followers.

The much-in-love couple, who are often in a long-distance relationship due to their busy work schedules, got married in December 2018.

Sri Lanka food prices hit record highs, inflation rises to 12.1 pc in December


Colombo [Sri Lanka]: Sri Lanka’s food prices hit record highs as inflation increased to 12.1 per cent in December last year, up 2.2 per cent from November in the same year.

The change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index, measured on an annual average basis, rose to 6.0 per cent in December from 5.3 per cent in November, reported Sri Lankan NewsRadio.
Issuing a statement, the Central Bank said factors in the supply chain were the main contributors to the increase in inflation.

The Central Bank statement noted that Inflation was driven by monthly increases in prices of items in both food and non-food categories, reported NewsRadio.

Subsequently, food inflation increased to 22.1 per cent in December 2021 from 17.5 per cent in November 2021, while non-food inflation increased to 7.5 per cent in December 2021 from 6.4 per cent in November 2021.

Tripura: Over 4 lakh people haven’t taken 2nd COVID vaccine dose, says National Health Mission Director


Agartala (Tripura) [India]: Tripura National Health Mission Director Siddhartha Shiv Jaiswal on Saturday said that there are about four lakh people in the state who have not received the second dose of the Covid vaccine.

In an exclusive interaction with ANI, Jaiswal said, “We have already administered a total of 46.97 lakh vaccine doses in the state among which 21,28,000 people have already received both the jabs. The total projected population in the 18 years plus category was 25,69,000 and 82 per cent of this population has received full vaccination”.
The remaining 18 per cent eligible beneficiaries, he said, who are not showing up at the vaccination centres for the second dose, are being traced through health teams and telephone calls to ensure that they get their prescribed dose. “The total population with the second dose due would be 4,08,000. The health teams are trying to connect with them to ensure that their vaccination is done,” said Jaiswal.

Jaiswal also informed that registration portals have been opened for fresh vaccination entries for children between the age group of 15 years to 18 years.

“As per the new guidelines, we are starting vaccination for the children from January 3, while the precaution doses would be administered to healthcare workers, frontline workers and people with comorbidities,” he added.

According to the NHM Director, the number of people who would be covered through these two drives is 2,13,000 and 91,200 respectively.

A total of 354 special vaccination sites would be opened for that purpose.

Jaiswal also appealed to the people to participate in the drive and to get inoculated in time. (ANI)

Income Tax Dept conducts raids on foreign mobile manufacturing firms’ premises across India


New Delhi [India]: The Income Tax Department said on Friday it has conducted raids on various premises of some foreign-controlled mobile communication and mobile handset manufacturing companies and their associated persons.

The raids have been conducted on various premises in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan and Delhi NCR.
“The search action has revealed that two major companies have made remittance in the nature of royalty, to and on behalf of its group companies located abroad, which aggregates to more than Rs.5500 crore. The claim of such expenses does not seem to be appropriate in light of the facts and evidence gathered during the search action,” said the Finance Ministry in a statement.

The search operation has also brought out the modus operandi of purchase of the components for manufacturing mobile handsets. It is gathered that both these companies had not complied with the regulatory mandate prescribed under the Income-tax Act, 1961 for disclosure of transactions with associated enterprises. Such lapse makes them liable for penal action under the Income-tax Act, 1961, the quantum of which could be in the range of more than Rs.1000 crore, it said.

The search has brought to fore another modus operandi whereby foreign funds have been introduced in the books of the Indian company but it transpires that the source from which such funds have been received are of doubtful nature, purportedly with no creditworthiness of the lender. The quantum of such borrowings is about Rs.5000 crore, on which interest expenses have also been claimed.

Evidence with regard to the inflation of expenses, payments on behalf of the associated enterprises, etc. have also been noticed which led to the reduction of taxable profits of the Indian mobile handset manufacturing company. Such an amount could be in excess of Rs.1400 crore.

It is further found that one of the companies utilised the services of another entity located in India but did not comply with the provisions of tax deduction at the source introduced w.e.f. April 1, 2020. The quantum of liability of TDS on this account could be around Rs.300 crore.

In the case of another company covered in the search action, it has been detected that the control of the affairs of the company was substantively managed from a neighbouring country. The Indian directors of the said company admitted that they had no role in the management of the company and lent their names for directorship for namesake purposes. Evidence has been gathered on an attempt to transfer the entire reserves of the company to the tune of Rs.42 crore out of India, without payment of due taxes.

Survey action in the case of certain Fintech and software services companies has revealed that a number of such companies have been created for the purposes of inflating expenses and siphoning out of funds. For this purpose, such companies have made payments for unrelated business purposes and also utilized the bills issued by a Tamil Nadu-based non-existent business concern. The quantum of such out-flow is found to be around Rs.50 crore, the Finance Ministry said. (ANI)

Alanna Panday Makes Colorado Look More HOT

  • Alanna Panday is on winter vacation

There’s nothing quite like a winter holiday and it seems like the celebrities agree with us. After Disha Patani and Samantha Ruth Prabhu have taken off to warmer climes, Alanna Panday and her fiancee Ivor McCray have followed suite but headed for a snowy vacation instead. The lovebirds have jetted off to Vail, Colorado where they seem to be enjoying the best of all of the worlds. While cuddling in the steaming jacuzzi, they watched the snow-laden trees look like they were straight out of a postcard. You’d think bikinis were only for summer but not for this girl. She picked a skin-toned halter-style string bikini with matching bottoms. With her long hair worn loose, we wish we could look as stylish as Alanna Panday does on her winter holiday.

Outside the jacuzzi, Alanna looks pretty darn fantastic too. On the snowy slopes, she looked like a dream come true. Her check patterned bralette and matching high waist mini skirt were worn with white high boots and fluffy ear muffs. It may not have been an adequate outfit to protect from the cold but it sure did look good.

She also dropped into the markets of Denver looking she walked right out of a Christmas rom-com. Alanna teamed a fluffy bomber jacket with tights. Brown boots, a sling bag and cap with a pom-pom added the chic finish to this one.

China bans footballers from getting tattoos to set ‘good example for society’


Beijing [China]: With the aim to set a “good example for society,” China has banned footballers from getting tattoos and ordered those with existing ones to remove or cover them.

This directive, issued by the General Administration of Sport of China (GAS), explains disciplinary requirements for national team players, CNN reported.
The order issued earlier this week is named “Suggestions for strengthening the management of football players”. It says that “Athletes of the national team and U23 national team are strictly prohibited from having new tattoos.”

“Those who have tattoos are advised to remove tattoos by themselves. In cases of special circumstances, tattoos must be covered during training and competition after the consent of the team,” the directive states.

According to the directive, national teams at Under-20 levels are forbidden from recruiting new athletes with tattoos,”

The GAS statement says that this measure “fully demonstrates the positive spirit of Chinese football players and set a good example for society.”

It further adds that national teams should organize activities that “strengthen the patriotic education” of athletes to “enhance the sense of mission, responsibility and honour, and create a national team capable of conquering and fighting well and with excellent style of play.”

Similarly in 2018, the media regulator in China had issued an edict saying Chinese television “should not feature actors with tattoos.”

India reports 16,764 new COVID-19 cases, Omicron tally surges to 1,270


New Delhi [India]: India on Friday reported 16,764 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 days, a surge for the third day which has pushed the country’s coronavirus tally to 34,838,804.

The total cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 cases has gone up to 1,270 with Maharashtra and Delhi reporting 450 and 320 cases respectively, according to the Union health ministry.
The health ministry informed that the active caseload in the country stands at 91,361 constituting 0.26 per cent of the total cases.

With this, the country’s COVID-19 tally has risen to 34,838,804 and with 220 deaths reported over the past 24 hours, the death toll has mounted to 4,81,080.

As many as 7,585 patients recovered in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 3,42,66,363.

The recovery rate in the country currently stands at 98.36 per cent.

The weekly positivity rate in the country is 0.89 per cent which remains lesser than 1 per cent for the last 47 days.

The daily positivity rate is 1.34 per cent which remains lesser than 2 per cent for the last 88 days.

The country has conducted as many as 67.78 crore COVID-19 tests so far.

India has administered around 144.54 crore vaccines so far under a nationwide vaccination drive.

Mumbai on high alert after inputs of possible terror attack by pro-Khalistan groups


New Delhi [India]: A high alert has been sounded in Mumbai after intelligence agencies received inputs regarding terror activities planned by pro-Khalistan groups.

A senior officer said that after Jaswinder Singh Multani, a member of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) who was allegedly linked to Ludhiana court blast, was detained and questioned in Germany, they have received inputs regarding planned terror activities in Mumbai and other big cities.
“We have received inputs that apart from SJF, other banned pro-Khalistan groups are in contact with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to execute terror activity in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities,” he said.

Sikhs For Justice is a designated terror group in India.

An alert has been issued to Mumbai Police and has been asked to remain vigilant and take note of any suspicious activity.

Mumbai Police have instructed all police stations to be on alert. Quick Reaction teams and bomb squads have been instructed to be on toes on New Year’s eve.

Mumbai Police have already prohibited New Year celebrations and gatherings in any closed or open space, including hotels and restaurants. (ANI)

Vikram Vedha: Saif Ali Khan wraps up ‘Vikram Vedha’ second schedule


New Delhi [India]: Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan has wrapped up with the shooting of the second schedule of ‘Vikram Vedha’ in Lucknow.

In the second schedule, spanning 19 days, Saif has shot the adrenaline-pumping action sequences himself.
The film stars Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan in lead roles, with Radhika Apte in a pivotal role.

The upcoming project is the Hindi remake of the 2017 Tamil film ‘Vikram Vedha’. The movie is being directed by the makers of the original film, Pushkar-Gayathri.

‘Vikram Vedha’ is presented by Gulshan Kumar, T-Series Films and Reliance Entertainment in association with Friday Filmworks and YNOT Studios Production.

Talking about the shooting schedule, Bhushan Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director, T-Series, said, “The anticipation grows as the film shoot progresses. Hrithik and Saif on the big screen will be a sight to behold. This will undoubtedly be the most eagerly anticipated release of 2022.”

Shibasish Sarkar, a producer, added, “As we wrap up the second schedule of Vikram Vedha we are happy that the film is proceeding as scheduled and in accordance with all government protocols. Each completed schedule is another significant milestone for the film. I’m really looking forward to the film getting into excellent shape as it proceeds and releasing it to viewers all over the world.”

The movie is slated to hit the screens on September 30, 2022.

US Presidential medical advisor Fauci says Omicron cases likely to peak by end of January


Washington [US] December 30 (Sputnik): Cases involving the coronavirus Omicron variant will likely peak by the end of January, presidential medical advisor Anthony Fauci said.

“I would imagine, given the size of our country and the diversity of vaccination versus no vaccination, that it likely will be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January, I would think,” Fauci told CNBC said on Wednesday in response to a question about when the coronavirus cases will peak in the United States.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided data showing that the Omicron variant accounted for 58.6% of all new infections in the United States in the week ending on December 25. The Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa in November, is said by public health officials to be more transmissible but produces milder cases.

The current seven-day daily average of cases in the United States is about 240,400 per day, an increase of about 60 per cent over the previous week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday.

Seegene to export 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 test reagent to Israel


Seoul [South Korea]: Seegene, a Korean molecular diagnostic company, announced on the 29th that it will export 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 test reagent to Israel.

As urgent demand for test reagent increased due to COVID-19 Omicron variant, Seegene has decided to ship products by a chartered flight. The flight will depart from Incheon Airport on the 29th, and will arrive in Israel on the 30th.
Seegene said that the diagnostic reagent exported to Israel can detect Omicron variants as well as existing COVID-19 viruses.

This product can detect four existing COVID-19 virus genes and five variant genes. It diagnoses Omicron variant by detecting three variant genes included in Omicron virus. (ANI/Global Economic)

Dhankhar terms Mamata’s remark in Goa as “hurtful, not in sync with constitutional norms”


Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday termed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s remark in Goa as “hurtful and not in sync with constitutional norms or fact scenario.”

“Your stance…while being on a political trip to Goa is hurtful and not in sync with constitutional norms or fact scenario. Seek to engage with you on this count as we both constitutional functionaries must act in harmony to serve people in dire need,” Dhankar tweeted.
“Functionaries of TMC and Ministers have publicly used most foul vituperative language defaming and insulting Governor. Undeterred by these would continue to earnestly work to secure governance as per constitution and law. Present scenario alarmingly worrisome,” reads another tweet.

Dhankar shared a video clip on Twitter in which Mamata Banerjee can be heard saying in a speech “a king lives in Raj Bhawan (Raj Bhawan me ek Raja Bethta hai), who talks like he is the national president of BJP”.

Sharing the video, Dhankar wrote “Stunned by Mamata Banerjee’s “Raj Bhawan me ek Raja Bethta hai” stance, while on a political visit to Goa- an unexpected act of impropriety. On December 16 urged CM for interaction as constitutional functionaries must act in harmony to serve people. No response-why no dialogue and deliberation!”

Dhankhar and Mamata have been at loggerheads over various issues ranging from the signing of bills passed by the state assembly to appointments in state-run universities.

Recently, the two have been engaged in a brawl over alleged violence and violation of election norms in Kolkata civic assembly polls and deployment of central police forces in the upcoming civic polls in different districts of the state. (ANI)

India reports 9,195 new COVID-19 cases, Omicron tally rises to 781


New Delhi [India]: India has reported 9,195 new COVID-19 cases and 302 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday.

With this the country’s COVID-19 case tally has risen to 3,48,08,886 and the death toll has climbed to 4,80,592.
The Ministry informed that India’s active caseload presently is at 77,002, constituting 0.22 per cent of the country’s total positive cases, which is the lowest since March 2020.

The health ministry further said that there are 781 Omicron cases in India so far.

Delhi accounts for the highest number of Omicron cases (283), followed by Maharashtra (167), Gujarat (73), Kerala (65), Telangana (62), Rajasthan (46), Karnataka (34), Tamil Nadu (34), Haryana (12), West Bengal (11), Madhya Pradesh (9), Odisha (8), Andhra Pradesh (6), Uttarakhand (4), Chandigarh (3), Jammu and Kashmir (3), Uttar Pradesh (2), Goa (1), Himachal Pradesh (1), Ladakh (1) and Manipur (1).

With the recovery of 7,347 patients in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients, since the beginning of the pandemic, now stands at 3,42,51,292.

The current recovery rate is at 98.40 per cent which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.

The weekly positivity rate is at 0.68 per cent and has remained less than 1 per cent for the last 45 days now.

The daily positivity rate is at 0.79 per cent and has remained below 2 per cent for the last 86 days.

India conducted 11,67,612 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours, and so far the country has conducted 67,52,46,143 tests as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data.

India has administered a total of 143.15 crore vaccine doses so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive.

The COVID vaccination drive began on January 16, 2021. Cumulatively, 1,43,15,35,641 people have been vaccinated so far in the country of which 64,61,321 were administered vaccines in the last 24 hours. (ANI)

Sourav Ganguly admitted to hospital, tests covid positive

Kolkata : BCCI president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly has been admitted to a city hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, the cricket board sources said on Tuesday. Ganguly is double vaccinated and has been travelling extensively, taking part in all professional activities.

The 49-year-old was rushed to a hospital late on Monday night as a precautionary measure after his RT-PCR test returned positive.

“He was taken to Woodlands Nursing Home last night. He has been given medication and is currently stable,” a BCCI source, who is keeping track of Ganguly’s health, told agency.

Ganguly was admitted to hospital twice earlier this year and underwent emergency angioplasty after having some cardiac issues.

Australia retains Ashes after winning 3rd Test at MCG


Melbourne [Australia]: Pacer Scott Boland took six wickets in the second innings as Australia defeated England by an innings and 14 runs in the third Ashes Test here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

With this win, Australia regained the Ashes as the hosts have gained an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Resuming Day 3 of the MCG Test at 31/4, England kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and the side was unable to match Australia’s lead and in the end, they suffered an innings defeat.

Ben Stokes (11) was the first one to depart on Day 3 as he was clean bowled by Mitchell Starc. After this, Scott Boland got in the act and he cleaned up the England lower-order.

In his debut, Boland went on to take six wickets in the second innings to hand Australia a memorable victory. England was bowled out for just 68 in the second innings.

Skipper Joe Root (28) was the final nail in the coffin and England went down without showing any fight in the second innings of the third Test.

Brief Scores: England 185 and 68 all out (Joe Root 28, Ben Stokes 11; Scott Boland 6-7); Australia 267.

Premier League: Cavani earns a point for Manchester United at Newcastle


Newcastle [UK]: Edinson Cavani came off the bench to mark his first Premier League appearance since October with the equaliser as Manchester United drew 1-1 at Newcastle United on Monday.

Newcastle went ahead with a stunning strike from Allan Saint-Maximin on seven minutes. Sean Longstaff’s threaded pass picked out the Frenchman, who cut inside two defenders before expertly placing the ball into the far corner.
Saint-Maximin was denied at close range by David De Gea seconds after the break before his opposite number Martin Dubravka made a flying save from Marcus Rashford’s swerving long-range effort as Man Utd responded.

Cavani struck the equaliser with 20 minutes left, firing home at the second attempt, and the Uruguayan nearly added a second five minutes later only for Dubravka to avert the danger.

In a pulsating finish, Jacob Murphy hit the post and De Gea superbly tipped Miguel Almiron’s follow-up shot over the bar as Newcastle had to settle for a point. Manchester United remain in seventh spot with 28 points.

Kejriwal to review COVID-19 situation in Delhi today


New Delhi [India]: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will hold a high-level review meeting today amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital after it witnessed the largest single-day cases spike on Monday in the last six months.

The meeting is scheduled to be held at noon at the Delhi Secretariat.
The implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan is likely to be the top agenda of the meeting.

With Delhi reporting the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases in six months, a declaration of Yellow Alert with its host of restrictions under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is likely to come into effect.

The COVID positivity rate surpassed 0.5 per cent for the second consecutive day in the national capital and according to GRAP, this is the scale of implementing a yellow alert.

The national capital on Monday reported 331 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day spike since the last six months. On June 6, Delhi had reported 331 cases.

In the meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) held on July 9, 2021, the Delhi government approved GRAP.

Accordingly, keeping in mind the third COVID-19 wave, four alerts were determined namely, yellow alert, amber alert, orange alert and red alert. In view of the current situation of COVID-19, the yellow alert is likely to be implemented by the Delhi Government and DDMA, sources said.

There are many restrictions on the implementation of yellow alert in Delhi.

Notably, the Delhi government has already imposed a night curfew effective from Monday. The duration is from 11 pm to 5 am.

But apart from this, schools, colleges, educational institutions, and coaching institutes can be closed under yellow alert. At the same time, there is a provision under this that shops and malls with non-essential services or goods will open from 10 am to 8 pm under the odd-even rule.

ECI team on 3-day visit to UP to review poll preparedness


Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: A team of the Election Commission of India will be on a three-day visit to the poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh from Tuesday to take stock of the poll preparedness ahead of the State Assembly elections in 2022.

This comes after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday had requested the Election Commission of India amid the Omicron scare to immediately postpone the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh for 1-2 months.
The court also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ECI to immediately ban rallies and public meetings of political parties in the state.

Uttarakhand: Badrinath shrine, hill station Auli receive fresh spell of snowfall

Chamoli (Uttarakhand) [India]: The Badrinath shrine and Auli in the high altitude areas of Chamoli district in Uttarakhand witnessed fresh snowfall early on Monday morning.

Visuals showed tourists enjoying the fresh spell of snow in the hill station Auli.

Auli receives heavy snowfall third time in this season

At around 5: 30 am on Monday, minus 2.89 degrees Celsius was reported in the hilly areas of Auli.

Meanwhile, the state capital Dehradun reported a minimum temperature of 6 degrees Celsius on Sunday, which is 1 degree less than the normal temperature during this time of the year.

According to IMD’s extended-range forecast, very light to light rain or snowfall is likely to occur at a few to many places during this week and maximum temperatures are likely to remain appreciably below normal to below normal during this week. (ANI)

“Take Down Video Or …”: Madhya Pradesh Minister Warns Sunny Leone

The song had originally been sung by Mohammed Rafi for the 1960 film Kohinoor

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra has given Bollywood star Sunny Leone and music composer Saqib Toshi 72 hours to take down a music video of the actor’s “obscene” dance to a song – “madhuban mein Radhika naache” – from the 1960 film Kohinoor.

Mr Mishra – who has threatened with legal action, including a jewellery collection by designer Sabyasachi – has claimed the video that accompanies the song hurts Hindu sentiments.

“Some people continuously hurt Hindu sentiments… there are temples for Radha (Lord Krishna’s wife) … we pray to her. Saqib Toshi can make songs concerning his religion, but such songs offend us. I will take legal advice and action will be taken if the video is not taken down in three days,” he said.

The Madhya Pradesh minister isn’t the only person demanding action against Ms Leone and Mr Toshi’s video.

“We will go to court if the government does not act against the actress and ban her video album,” a Sant Naval Giri Maharaj from UP’s Vrindavan was quoted by news agency PTI yesterday, demanding a public apology from Ms Leone before she is ‘allowed to stay’ in the country.

The song in question was released by Saregama Music Wednesday and features Sunny Leone dancing to the song – viewed by some as describing the love between Krishna and Radha – that has been sung by Kanika Kapoor and Arindam Chakraborty.

Last month Sabyasachi has to withdraw a campaign because of objections. Minister declared jewellery collection as “obscene”. The designer – a global brand – pulled promotional material for his mangalsutra collecti

Panel formed to look into AFSPA withdrawal in Nagaland: Neiphiu Rio govt after meet with Shah


Kohima (Nagaland) [India]: A committee will be constituted, which will have to submit its report within 45 days on withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Disturbed Area Act from Nagaland, informed the state government.

“A committee will be instituted to look into the withdrawal of AFSPA in Nagaland…The Committee will submit its report in 45 days & withdrawal of Disturbed Area and AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on its recommendations,” reads the official statement.
The decision was taken in a meeting that was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday in New Delhi.

The Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Assam– Neiphiu Rio and Himanta Biswa Sarma– were present in the meeting along with the leader of Naga People’s Front Legislative Party T.R. Zeliang.

It was also decided in the meeting that a Court of Enquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel in the killing of civilians in the Oting Village of Mon district on December 4, read the statement by the Nagaland government.

“It was discussed in the meeting that a Court of Enquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel, who are directly involved in the Oting incident and action will be taken immediately on the basis of enquiry,” it added.

“The identified persons who will face the enquiry will be placed under suspension with immediate effect,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Assam rifle unit in Mon will also be replaced with immediate effect, the release said.

The Nagaland government has also announced that the next to kin of those who died in the Oting incident will be provided with the government jobs.

The demand to repeal AFSPA picked up after a botched up army operation against insurgents in Nagaland leading to the killings of 14 civilians. (ANI)

Over 30 killed, bodies burned in Myanmar’s Kayah state: Reports


Naypyidaw [Myanmar]: More than 30 people, including women and children, have been killed and their bodies burned in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah state, media reports citing local human rights group said.

Al Jazeera citing the Karenni Human Rights Group reported that it found the burned bodies of internally displaced people – including elderly people, women and children – near Mo So village of Hpruso town on Saturday.
“We strongly denounce the inhumane and brutal killing which violates human rights,” the group said in a Facebook post.

Myanmar is in turmoil since the coup on February 1, when the Myanmar military led by Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency.

The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence throughout the country.

Earlier this month, a court in Myanmar found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of charges widely dismissed as politically motivated and sentenced her to detention at an undisclosed location.

Suu Kyi, 76, faces almost a dozen charges including incitement, violation of Covid-19 protocols and violation of the Official Secrets Act, which add up to a combined maximum sentence of more than 100 years. She has rejected all allegations, according to CNN.

Aung San Suu Kyi was detained as Myanmar’s military took control of the country on February 1 this year. (ANI)

Pakistan in News: Injecting lives to people amid Omicron fears

By KSHVID NEWS DESK with Inputs from agencies

Humanity suffered from the corona. But those who refused to take the vaccination were adding more suffering to people’s life. They were about to create a mess, which was previously created by others. How can a man refuse to get a cure for a disease? Is this even a logical discussion to have? But there are thousands of cases in the world where people refused to get shot of Corona Vaccination. While it was free of cost and effective scientifically proven.

Chinese are the inventors of Covid-19 as well as its vaccination. The origin of covid-19 was China, then they were the first who implemented lockdown, and in the last, they were also on the top of the list to invent vaccination. The rest of the world followed. Some were early adopters, some early majority, and some were the late majority. Many countries give incentives to encourage people to get Covid-19 vaccines. Pakistan is adopting a harsher stance.

Imran Khan launches Vaccination drive

Authorities in these 220 million-strong countries threaten those who refuse to take the injection with sanctions, from losing their cellular service to having their paychecks withheld.

The penalties are in stark contrast to the awards on offer elsewhere in the world. People who agree to be vaccinated in a Philippine village can win a cow if they agree to be vaccinated. Some states in the United States have cash lottery draws, while Hong Kong gives away a multimillion-dollar condominium.

Pakistan’s punitive tactics differ by location; health services are mostly the responsibility of the country’s four provinces, but the federal government has declared sanctions as well, all to sway a population that has long been skeptical of vaccines. Due to uncertainty about the polio vaccine, Pakistan has only two countries where polio remains widespread.

Haider Ali, a 26-year-old vehicle mechanic in Islamabad’s capital, says he won’t take the Covid-19 vaccine because he believes the coronavirus exists. Haider Ali belongs to the category of that person who is laggards. He neither believes in the hypothesis of Covid-19 nor is he willing to take the vaccination. These types of people are fewer, but yes, they do exist. In Pakistan, there might be more laggards than any other category.

“I’ve never worn a mask in my life.” Mr. Ali, who has one child, said, “I meet a hundred individuals a day, and nothing has happened to me.” “If they force us to take this vaccination, that suggests they have a secret motive.” It appears to be a high-level plot.”

Doctors are working day and night to vaccinate the citizens.

Like many other underdeveloped countries, Pakistan has struggled to get adequate vaccination supplies. It has received 16 million doses, largely from China. It has administered 13 million, meaning that the country’s 125 million adults would not be able to get vaccinated even if they all came forward right away. However, vaccination rates are increasing, with 2.3 million shots last week.

Pakistan’s health minister, Faisal Sultan, stated that the government wants to obtain an extra 90 million doses by the end of the year and immunize more than half of the adult population. More Chinese vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V, Pfizer Inc., and BioNTech SE vaccines are discussed. The government played the role of early adopters because the covid-19 situation panicked every higher authority in this world.

The federal government’s primary objective, according to Dr. Sultan, is to educate people about the need for vaccinations: “The essential lever is communication and education, as well as the removal of doubts.” He said that vaccination requirements would be the last resort while provinces have the authority to set their policies.

All government and private-sector personnel would be required to be vaccinated; the administration announced earlier this month. It gave the former a deadline of the end of June but hasn’t given the latter one or specified how the demands will be implemented. Travel to the northern mountains, a popular route to escape the summer heat, will be prohibited for those aged 50 and over who have not been vaccinated.

Anyone over 18 can now get vaccinated in Pakistan, yet official numbers show that only about 6% of people have received the first injection. According to Our World in Data, an Oxford University study, this contrasts to more than a quarter of the people of Brazil, whose population is around the same size and more than half of Americans.

While Pakistan’s pandemic was relatively mild, 22,000 deaths compared to half a million in Brazil—the country’s low immunization rate leaves the people vulnerable if another wave like the one that ravaged neighboring India strikes.

According to polls, fear of side effects and questions about effectiveness are the major reasons individuals aren’t getting vaccinated. According to a Gallup Pakistan poll conducted in March, about two-thirds of Pakistanis believe the threat posed by the coronavirus is exaggerated, while many others aren’t concerned about catching it or believe that natural immunity is preferable. According to a recent Ipsos poll, 68 percent don’t register for vaccinations.

“If you don’t get vaccinated, you’re not only harming yourself, but you’re also endangering others,” says the doctor.


Christmas with a Difference! Children enjoy Gifts & Cake by I3T volunteers

Pradip & Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation & I3T volunteers bring smiles on beautiful faces with Christmas Gifts and Cakes

Kolkata: This year’s Christmas is very much different for Raghu (Name Changed). He stays in this Orphanage (name withheld) located in Kolkata since he was two years old. This indeed is a different Christmas with Cakes and lot of Gifts and a tasty full meal today for all his friends too who stay here together and share the joy & challenges of life together!

As reported by UNICEF in its latest report, India’s growth over the last two decades has contributed phenomenally to global human development. Extreme poverty in India reduced to 21 per cent, infant mortality has more than halved, some 80 per cent of women now deliver in a health facility and two million fewer children are out-of-school. These are significant achievements for a country that is home to nearly a sixth of the world’s population. But tough challenges still remain and India’s economic successes have not resulted in improved quality of life for everyone everywhere, especially children. High levels of malnutrition (38.4 per cent children are stunted), poor learning outcomes (only 42.5 per cent of children in grade three can read a grade one text), vaccine preventable diseases and child labour persist.

Children having lunch arranged by I3T volunteers.

India is the only large country where more girls die than boys, with the inverse sex ratio at birth being 900 girls born for every 1000 boys. Globally 7 per cent more boys die under the age of 5 compared to girls but in India, 11 per cent more girls die under the age of five. Children from rural areas, slums and urban poor families, scheduled castes, tribal communities and other disadvantaged populations suffer from multiple deprivations related to poverty, malnutrition, access to quality health services, child marriage, poor school attendance, low learning outcomes, lack of sanitation facilities, hygiene, and access to improved water. India has the largest adolescent population in the world, 253 million, and every fifth person is between 10 to 19 years. India stands to benefit socially, politically and economically if this large number of adolescents are safe, healthy, educated and equipped with information and life skills to support the country’s continued development.

We should not forget that in India,

  • India is home to the largest undernourished population in the world
  • 189.2 million People i.e, 14 % of India’s population is under nourished
  • 20% of children under age 5 are underweight
  • 34.7 % of children under 5 years of age are stunted

Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation is committed to change the lives of millions of such children through social outreach initiatives. On the occasion of pre-Christmas celebrations, researchers and volunteers from the foundation visited one of the oldest orphanages of Calcutta to celebrate the festival of cakes with the kids. A cake cutting ceremony was followed by song, dance and lot of gifts (including winter clothing and blankets) amid claps and cheer by the crowd. After that all had the hot tasty full meal. Every smiling face was beaming with Christmas joy and happiness!

cake for children.

Such moments in their lives are not very often. Though they are taken care off by the orphanage, but social and goodwill interventions of such kind lifts their spirits up. India needs bigger interventions in this domain to change the lives of millions of such children. Corporates should come along to this cause.

Under the aegis of Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation, International Institute of Innovation and Technology (I3T) was inaugurated on January 1, 2018 with a vision of serving the healthcare needs of the public in West Bengal and in our country at large. I3T is a partner of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the leading university of public health in the world. This alliance is first of its kind in India, where Johns Hopkins is establishing the Johns Hopkins University Maternal and Child Health Center India (MCHI) and the Vaccine Research Center, along with International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC). This collaboration with The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), USA is for various Research and Public Health initiatives. The institute aims to provide educational and research programs in the public health domain for the first time in Eastern India. “This strategic alliance is going to improve the basic health care facilities and research aspects of public health care on a large scale in India, says Dr. Pradip Ghosh, Founder Chairman of the foundation and I3T, a visionary educationist and a social entrepreneur, who believes strongly in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ (The world is one family).   

Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation has been involved in different initiatives in health sector in India since 2014 through its various social outreach activities. Amidst the crisis of COVID 19 during the second wave, Foundation tried to implement the Rapid Antigen Services in the rural centre of Shreenagar PHC in collaboration with AIIMS- Kalyani and also around 300 oxygen concentrators were handed over to state health department, ESI hospital, Police Stations, Bharat Sevashram Sangha, various complexes & NGOs. Foundation is committed to impact and change the lives of millions of Indians through education and public health initiatives.

38 killed in ferry fire in Bangladesh; toll likely to rise


Dhaka [Bangladesh]: Atleast 38 people have been killed after a ferry caught fire on Sugandha River in the southern district of Jhalakathi early on Friday.

Officials said the death toll is likely to rise as many passengers sustained burn injuries when a fire swept through the Barguna-bound “MV Obhijan” after midnight, Dhaka Tribune reported.
More than 70 passengers of the launch have been sent to the local hospitals, Fire Service Deputy Director Kamal Hossain Bhuiyan told the media.

The fire is believed to have originated in the engine room and then ripped through the launch packed with people, he said.

Flames erupted around 3 am when the launch reached the Dapdapia area. The vessel then went to the Diakul area of Jhalakathi Sadar upazila and dropped anchor on the river bank. (ANI)

Anil Kapoor joins Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone in ‘Fighter’

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: On the occasion of his 65th birthday, veteran actor Anil Kapoor announced that he will share screen space with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in the upcoming film ‘Fighter’.

Welcoming him on board, Hrithik took to Instagram and wrote, “Happiest Birthday to the man who grows younger each year in spirit and health, @anilskapoor ! Best wishes to you Sir. From witnessing your legendary presence on sets as a mere assistant, to finally having the opportunity of sharing the screen with you.. Super excited for #Fighter!”

Anil thanked Hrithik for his kind words and expressed his joy in working with the former.

“Thank you so much @hrithikroshan ! Happy to be a part of team #Fighter & working with you on screen finally! #SiddharthAnand,” Kapoor wrote.

Deepika, too, wished Kapoor on his birthday and welcomed him on board.

“Welcome to Fighter birthday boy,” she posted.

Directed by Siddharth Anand, ‘Fighter’ is touted as India’s first ariel action franchise. (ANI)

Kanpur: In biggest recovery ever, CBIC unearths Rs 150 cr cash in raids on perfume company


Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Vivek Johri, the Chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on Friday said that the cash recovery of approximately Rs 150 crores from searches in Kanpur at several locations related to Trimurti Fragrance is the “biggest haul ever”. The teams of CBIC are currently at various premises of businessman Piyush Jain counting cash.

“We got the information that Trimurti Fragrances was working without an invoice or tax payment. We searched their three entities and recovered approximately Rs 150 crore cash. This is the biggest recovery ever in the history of CBIC,” Johri told ANI.
Briefing about the details of the searches, Johri said, “Ahemdabad unit of DGGI received intelligence that pan masala and G company Trimurti Fragrance, manufacturers of a branded Gutkha, are transporting materials without any invoices and without paying taxes.”

“DGGI Ahemdabad team started searches on the manufacturer of Pan Masala and their supplier. A transporter and a fragrance company of Unnao were also searched as they were providers of fragrance to the pan masala company,” he added.

Johri also said that one of the parties involved has accepted the case of tax evasion and has deposited Rs 3 crore for the same.

“No arrest has been made yet,” he added.

As per the GST law, if the invoice is more than a certain limit, then it is necessary to generate invoices.

During searches, DGGI found an item on which the Goods and Services Tax (GST) tax rate was 28 per cent plus cess, Johri informed.

“The probe further revealed that these people were dispatching material without any invoice and e-way bills. Two-three parties are involved in this. All the invoices we found were fake. Value of the item suppressed,” Johri added.

“A case of fake invoicing and fake credit has been reported…Those involved were dispatching material without any invoice and e-way bills. All the invoices we found were fake. Value of the item suppressed,” he informed.

The CBIC Chairman also informed that counting of the seized cash is underway. (ANI)

Harbhajan Singh announces retirement from all forms of cricket, put curtains on ’23-year-long journey’

New Delhi [India]: Veteran India spinner Harbhajan Singh on Friday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.

The 41-year-old has played 103 Tests, 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is for Men in Blue. He scalped 294 wickets in limited-overs cricket.
“All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable. My heartfelt thank you Grateful,” Harbhajan Singh tweeted on Friday.

He played his last red-ball match against Sri Lanka in 2015 while his last ODI was against South Africa in the same year. His last game for India was a T20I against UAE in the 2016 Asia Cup. Since then he was not picked for the Indian side.

Harbhajan retires after scalping 417 wickets in 103 Tests at an average of 32.46. The 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup winner is also the first Indian to scalp a Test hat-trick.

Overall, Jalandhar- born cricketer has played 367 international games and claimed 711 international wickets and scored 3,569 international runs. (ANI)

China locks down 13 million residents of Xi’an city after COVID cluster found


Beijing [China]: In sweeping restrictions, China on Wednesday locked down the entire 13 million residents of Xi’an city after the COVID-19 cluster was found in the area.

Officials believe the cluster is linked to an inbound flight from Pakistan on December 4, where at least six passengers were found to have the Delta variant. So far, there have been no reported cases of the Omicron variant in Xi’an, reported CNN.
Authorities moved swiftly, suspending schools and conducting mass testing for the entire city. Cases have continued to climb, however.

On Tuesday, Xi’an recorded 52 new COVID-19 cases. The move will prevent people from leaving their homes, come as the country braces for the Lunar New Year travel rush, followed by the 2022 Winter Olympics, due to begin in the capital Beijing on February 4, reported CNN.

Since December 9, the city has recorded a total of 206 cases. On Wednesday, authorities recorded 63 new locally transmitted cases, Xi’an’s highest daily figure this month.

By noon on Wednesday, more than 30,000 people who were believed to have come into contact with a confirmed case were placed in government quarantine, according to state-run newspaper China Daily. That same day, the city imposed a strict lockdown until further notice for all residents.

Xi’an detected its first case connected to the latest outbreak at a quarantined hotel on December 9. The virus is believed to have then spread into the community via an infected hotel worker.

After the new restrictions were announced, families rushed to supermarkets to stock up on supplies before the lockdown went into effect at midnight, according to state-run tabloid the Global Times.

Schools, public facilities and transport systems are also closed except for essential service providers like hospitals and supermarkets, according to the local government’s announcement, reported CNN.

Xi’an is one level away from the highest lockdown category of “sealed area,” in which residents are completely banned from leaving their homes, and groceries are delivered to their door.

This is only the fourth time a major Chinese city has been placed under the “controlled area” lockdown. Though previous outbreaks have seen similar restrictions, they are typically only applied to specific areas where infections are most prevalent — not an entire city.

In the past week alone, in addition to Xi’an, cases have also been recorded in Henan province, Zhejiang province, Guangdong province, Guangxi autonomous region, and the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, reported CNN.

The emergence of yet another outbreak has raised questions over the long-term viability of China’s ambitious “zero-Covid” policy, which aims to eliminate the virus completely within the country’s borders.

Despite administering more than 2.7 billion doses of its homegrown vaccines, authorities have struggled with a number of fast-spreading outbreaks, reported CNN.

The outbreak in Xi’an follows a Delta-driven outbreak in the summer; a September outbreak in Fujian province; an October outbreak that spread to more than half the country; then several clusters in Inner Mongolia in November, which have spread to Zhejiang province in recent weeks. (ANI)

Samsung Galaxy A53 will come with two chipset versions


Washington [US]: The upcoming flagship of the Samsung Galaxy smartphone– A53 will have two chipsets, something which was a predictable development for the past few years.

As per GSM Arena, it seems like Samsung is looking to adopt the same strategy for one of its best selling mid-rangers. The upcoming Galaxy A53 will succeed the A52/A52s and A51, which were all Samsung’s best-selling mid-rangers. And the A53 is allegedly going to be offered in two versions, with two different chipsets, just like the flagship S series.
A source clarified the outlet that this is not a confusion stemming from there being both 4G and 5G iterations of the A53 – apparently, there’s only going to be an A53 5G. In some markets, like the US, this may show up with a new Exynos SoC (possibly marketed as Exynos 1200 upon launch).

Over there the A53 will have the model number SM-A536U. There’s also going to be an SM-A536B for Europe, and an SM-A536E for the Middle East, North Africa, and a number of Asian markets, including India. These models may come with differing chipsets.

The Galaxy A53 is expected to become official in March, perhaps alongside the Galaxy A33 and A73.

The A53 will have a 64 MP main camera and a 5,000 mAh battery. It will be offered in white, black, blue, and orange, according to GSM Arena. (ANI)

Series against India ‘massive’, bowling to Kohli ‘exciting challenge’, says Olivier

Centurion [South Africa]: South African pacer Duanne Olivier on Thursday said that the upcoming series against India is massive and bowling to Virat Kohli will be an exciting challenge.

India and South Africa will lock horns in three Tests and three ODIs. The first Test will begin on December 26 at the SuperSport Park, Centurion.
“It’s massive series. India hasn’t won here, so they want to come and win here and for us, we don’t want that to happen. For me, it’s probably the biggest series I will play so, if selected, there will be those pressures. We’re playing against world-class players but at the same time, it’s an exciting challenge. Like, I’ll need to bowl to Virat Kohli,” said Olivier during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“It will be tough, but it’s exciting. We’ll be bowling to probably the top four batters in the world. It’s like making a statement to them. We are here to compete. We are not just going to roll over. For me, that’s very important: throwing the first punch, to know that you are here, you are present,” he added.

The Test series between India and South Africa will form part of the new cycle of the ICC World Test Championship. The updated schedule is as follows: First Test will take place from December 26-30 at the SuperSport Park, Centurion; Second Test will take place from January 3-7, 2022, at the Wanderers, Johannesburg; Third Test will take place from January 11-15, 2022, at the Newlands, Cape Town.

“It looked like there was a bit of grass, green grass on it and I assume they will probably take a little bit off. I reckon probably a touch slow on day one but it’s always a wicket that speeds up and the game moves forward,” Olivier said. “And there has always been a result. I don’t know when last a Test match, even a four-day game, there was a draw,” said Olivier.

The first ODI will take place on January 19, 2022, at the Boland Park, Paarl; Second ODI will take place on January 21, 2022, at the Boland Park, Paarl; Third ODI will take place on January 23, 2022, at the Newlands, Cape Town. (ANI)

Sensex down by 266 points


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Soon after recovering from the slump of nearly 1000 points, the Indian equities markets on Friday were in red again.

The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was down by 266.73 points or 0.47 per cent at 57048.55 at 9.45 am.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 16986.30 at 9.45 am, down by 86.30 points or 0.51 per cent.

On the Sensex, all the sectors, except the tech sector, are trading in low today morning. (ANI)

This country continues to ill-treat nationalists: Kangana Ranaut post her hearing at Khar police station

Mumbai (Maharashtra) : After appearing at Khar Police Station on Thursday morning to record her statement in a case related to alleged derogatory remarks made by her against Sikhs on her social media platform, actor Kangana Ranaut expressed her disappointment saying that “this country continues to ill-treat nationalists.”

“This country continues to ill treat and devalue nationalists and if you love your nation you are on your own against a very powerful enemy,” she wrote on Instagram Story.

For the unversed, on December 13, Bombay High Court asked Kangana to appear before Mumbai Police on December 22 for investigation of an FIR registered against her for her Instagram post with alleged derogatory remarks made against Sikhs.

Maharashtra government had agreed not to take any coercive action against her till January 25, the next date of hearing. Recently, a petition had also been filed in the Supreme court against the actor seeking censoring of all her social media posts in future in order to maintain law and order in the country.

None of her posts on social media should be allowed without amendment, deletion, modification or censoring in order to maintain law and order in the country, stated advocate Charanjeet Singh Chanderpal in the plea.

In her latest Instagram post, Kangana said that people in power “would prioritise vote banks for that they can even encourage terrorism…so it’s a lonely road and guess what it’s alright #jaihind.”

She also shared a picture of her entering the police station and captioned it as, “another day another visit to police station hundred of politically motivated FIR’s and hours and questioning.”

Kangana, who showed up at the police station in a white, floral saree, was surrounded by security and police officers.

WB BJP announces party’s State Committee including in-charges, co-incharges of departments

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party has announced party’s State Committee including Morcha Presidents, in-charges and co-in charges of various departments.

According to a notification released by the party on Wednesday, 11 Vice Presidents, 5 Secretaries and 12 Secretaries were appointed.
The party also made appointments in the IT department, social media department, media department, media relation department.

The spokespersons for the party including the media panellists were also appointed. (ANI)

“Tech Should enable India to achieve its vision of holistic rejuvenation”: Governor of Tamil Nadu

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: “India has made unprecedented progress in various domains of technology, including, the information and communication technology, in the recent past. But we must measure technological progress from the contributions it makes towards creating a healthy, prosperous, and capable India, and transforming India as a leader in all spheres in the global arena,” said Thiru R.N. Ravi, Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu.

He was delivering the Inaugural Address at Sangam 2021, the flagship annual convention of the IIT Madras Alumni Association (IITMAA), after launching it virtually. The Hon’ble Governor said that people in the tech sector are among India’s most precise resources and assets. They must think of ways to align their tech vision with the India vision.
The Hon’ble Governor highlighted India’s recent achievements in sanitation, financial inclusion, indigenous production, and access to water, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Post-Independence, India had made great strides in many sectors, but India now has a clear vision of ‘One India’ (Ek Bharat). The vision refers not just to the territorial integrity of the country but the oneness that permeates people of all faiths, cultures, and languages,” he said and added that people must realize that India’s diversity was a cause for celebration, and not a cause of concern, as contrived and projected by the influences of over centuries of subjugation and colonization.

Following the inauguration, a panel discussion on ‘Strategy for Indian Pharma to Propel the Global Market’ was organised online. The session was addressed by Dr Sameer Mehta, Chairman Board of Directors; President, Future Program, and former Chief Investment Officer, The Atlas Family Office, Varun V, Director Data Science, Novartis India, and Dr Radha Rangarajan, CTO, Health Cube. Dr Bhuvaneswari Sridhar, AVP, API R&D, Pfizer, and Srividya Ramakrishnan, Senior Director, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories were the moderators.

Sangam 2021 will host fireside conversations and panel discussions, spread over four months till March 2022, under the theme of ‘Restoring Balance in STEM’. Sangam 2021 will be held largely online and will also comprise a few hybrid programs. About 15,000 participants, including alumni and students of IIT Madras and general public, are expected to take part in Sangam 2021, one of the largest alumni gatherings of an institute on a single platform.

The virtual sessions will feature conversations and stories from leading professionals, researchers in STEM and start-ups.

In January 2022, two sessions on ‘Restoring Balance in STEM Research’ and ‘Machine Behaviour or Human Intelligence’.

In February 2022, there will be multiple hybrid events on “Space the final frontier”, and “India Becoming a Champion and Leader in Sustainability”.

In March 2022, there will be a “Women’s Leadership Retreat” as well a session on “Catching them young! Inspiring girls to take on STEM courses”.

IITMAA Sangam 2021 is also conducting an online quiz and crossword contests themed on ‘Women in STEM’ for both school children and adults.

Among the eminent speakers who would address the sessions are:

Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder, Infosys

Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor at CMC Vellore

Dr Mridula Nair who is in the Forbes Global 50 Over 50 for her innovations in STEM

Almitra Patel, India’s first woman engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and environmental champion

Other eminent speakers who are going to address include Namrata Vora, Director and Mentor, Aarti Homes and winner of London City Award, Ms Shalini Puchalapali, Country Head, Google – Customer Solutions.

In relation to the theme of Sangam 2021, IITMAA is also launching several initiatives including a forum for women leadership and entrepreneurship, and a mentoring and wellbeing program for women. The forum on women in research and academia has already been kick started by Prof Preeti and Prof Shanti of IITM.

The key alumni in the Sangam 2021 Coordination team include Krishnan Narayanan, President, IITMAA, Shyamala Rajaram, Chair of Sangam 2021, Dr Malati Raghunath, Raji Baskaran, Dr Preeti Aghalayam, Dr Shanti Bhattacharya, and Nishani Manohar, ED, IITMAA.

2 died in Ludhiana Court Blast: MHA seeks report from Punjab on District Court explosion

New Delhi [India]: The Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from Punjab on the explosion in Ludhiana District Court Complex on Thursday, said sources.

One person has been killed and two others were injured in the explosion at Ludhiana District Court Complex.
Ludhiana Commissioner of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar informed that the explosion was heard near the Record Room on the second floor of the Ludhiana Court complex.

“One person died, two persons were injured in the incident. Bomb disposal team and forensics team has been called from Chandigarh for probe,” Bhullar said.

“There is no need to panic,” he added. Further details are awaited. (ANI)

Ayodhya Land Grab Probe: ‘BJP- RSS, govt officials benefitted from land deals near Ayodhya Ram Temple ,’ Priyanka Gandhi

New Delhi [India]: Alleging loot of land related to the Ram Mandi Trust in Ayodhya by members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday said the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led government is indulging in corruption in the name of Lord Ram.

Addressing a media briefing at the AICC headquarters on Thursday along with Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala,
Gandhi said, “Almost every household in the country has donated something to Ram Mandir Trust. A door-to-door campaign was held too. It is a matter of devotion and that is being toyed with. The pieces of land of Dalits, which could not have been purchased, were grabbed.”

She said land of Dalits not allowed to be sold were brought by some officers wrongly. The Congress leader demanded a Supreme Court-led probe into the alleged land scam.

“Some pieces of land were of a lower value and were sold to the Trust at a very high price. It means that there is a scam regarding the money which was collected through the donation. I got to know that the investigation into the matter is being carried out by districts level officer. The Ram Mandir trust was formed following the Supreme Court’s order. So the investigation into the matter should be done under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” Gandhi said.

She further alleged that the big leaders, office bearers of BJP, RSS and trustees were involved in buying and selling lands to earn profits.

“There is loot over the land nearby the Ram Temple. The BJP leaders and officers of the Yogi Adityanath government are involved in this loot. The BJP government is doing corruption in the name of Lord Ram. It is an attack on the nation’s beliefs. The money from the Ram Mandir Trust is being misused to benefit government officials and the members of the BJP and RSS,” Gandhi alleged.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s sensational allegations come against the backdrop of the news report that claimed many BJP leaders and some officials of the Uttar Pradesh government have purchased land near the under-construction Ram Janmbhoomi Temple in Ayodhya at throwaway prices.

“Within five minutes the piece of land is sold to the trust from Rs 2 crore to Rs 18.5 crore. It means the BJP person made a profit of Rs 16.5 crore within 5 minutes. This is happening repeatedly in other transactions,” the Congress leader said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an inquiry into reports that relatives of several state ministers and government officials allegedly conducted land deals in Ayodhya. The UP government has sought a report within a week and the matter will be investigated by Special Secretary Revenue. (ANI)

PM cares for Varanasi : 870 crores for development projects

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for 22 development projects worth Rs 870 crores in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi on Thursday.

Before the inauguration, the Prime Minister reviewed the development projects along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of ‘Banas Dairy Sankul’ at UP State Industrial Development Authority Food Park, Karkhiyaon, Varanasi. Spread across 30 acres of land, the dairy will be built at a cost of about Rs 475 crores and will have a facility for processing 5 lakh litres of milk per day.

PM Modi digitally transferred about Rs 35 crore bonus to the bank accounts of more than 1.7 lakh milk producers associated with Banas Dairy.

He also laid the foundation stone for the Biogas based Electricity generation plant for the Milk Producers Cooperative Union Plant, Ramnagar, Varanasi.

PM Modi also launched a portal and logo dedicated to the Conformity Assessment Scheme of milk products, developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) with the help of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

According to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the unified logo, featuring logos of both BIS and NDDB quality mark will simplify the certification process for the dairy sector and will reassure the public about dairy product quality.

Prime Minister virtually distributed the rural residential rights record ‘Gharauni’ under the Swamitva scheme of Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj, to over 20 Lakh residents of Uttar Pradesh.

He also inaugurated multiple urban development projects in Varanasi. These include six projects of the redevelopment of Old Kashi wards, a parking and surface park at Beniabag, beautification of two ponds, one sewage treatment plant at village Ramna and provisioning of advanced surveillance cameras at 720 locations under Smart City Mission.

PM Modi inaugurated a 50-bed Integrated Ayush Hospital at Bhadrasi. He also laid the foundation of Rs 49 crore Government Homeopathic Medical College in tehsil Pindra under the Ayush Mission.

Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of two ‘4 to 6 lane’ road widening projects for the Prayagraj and Bhadohi roads. The projects are believed to improve the connectivity of Varanasi and will be a step towards resolving the problem of the city’s traffic congestion.

Other projects inaugurated by the Prime Minister include a Speed Breeding Facility at International Rice Research Institute, South Asia Regional Centre Varanasi, a Regional Reference Standards Laboratory at village Payakpur and an Advocate building at Tehsil Pindra.

Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are slated for early next year. (ANI)

UP Politics: Priyanka Gandhi gives a twist to her Campaign “Mere pass Maa hai, Behan hai..”

Lucknow {India}: When asked about how the Congress plans to take UP – a state ruled by the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath, who is set on giving a fierce fight to secure another term as Chief Minister – Priyanka Gandhi drew parallels with a famous dialogue from the 1975 Bollywood film Deewaar, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor.

“Have you heard this dialogue from Deewar? Mere paas maa hai (my mother is with me),” Priyanka Gandhi told reporters before adding her UP election twist.

“Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor were brothers in the movie. Amitabh asks Shashi Kapoor, ‘mere paas gaddi hai, mere paas bungalow hai, yeh hai, woh hai, toh Sashi Kapoor ne kahan mere paas maa hai. Toh main keh rahin hun mere paas behen hai (my sisters are with me),” Priyanka Gandhi said.

In Deewaar, Amitabh Bachchan lists out a number of material achievements that he has to prove his wealth to his brother Shashi Kapoor, whose brief answer – “My mother is with me” – shatters Amitabh Bachchan’s pride.

Priyanka Gandhi has been reaching out to women voters in UP in the hope that they would help turn the tides for her party. In a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cash outreach scheme for women in UP, she had said, “What did I say to the women of UP? To use their power. Now even PM Modi has given in. Why didn’t he announce this in the last five years? Why now, before elections? Women have woken up with our ‘ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon’ slogan.”

Daughter of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who became the latest member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to enter politics ahead of the 2019 general elections, Priyanka Gandhi has been seen with a more assertive approach this time than last when the Congress bombed, scoring just one parliamentary seat.

Accident in Mine: Over 80 missing in landslide at jade mine in Myanmar

Yangon [Myanmar]: Over 80 people went missing in a jade mine landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state in the early hours of Wednesday, Xinhua quoting a local village administration official reported.

“According to witnesses at the scene, the landslide left over 80 people missing and the rescue operation is being carried out,” U Kyaw Min, an official of a village administration office, said.
The landslide took place at around 4.00 am local time, burying nearly 100 people including jade scavengers and vendors, a Hpakant township police officer said, as per Xinhua.

“There is no data about the exact number of the missing jade scavengers,” the police officer said.

The authorities and local rescue organizations are conducting the search and rescue operation in the slide-stricken area.

Xinhua reported that landslides are frequent in Kachin state, especially in Hpakant mining region.

Many locals make their living by jade scavenging in the region and most of the landslides are caused by the partial collapse of tailings heaps and dams, it added.

A major fatal landslide occurred at a jade mining site in Hpakant township in July last year, leaving 174 dead and 54 others injured, as per Xinhua news agency. (ANI)

Preclinical studies supports US Army’s pan-coronavirus vaccine development strategy


Washington [US]: The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) COVID-19 vaccine developed by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) not only elicits a potent immune response but may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern as well as other coronaviruses, according to a series of recently published preclinical study.

According to a statement released by US Army, scientists in WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB) developed the SpFN nanoparticle vaccine, based on a ferritin platform, as part of a forward-thinking “pan-SARS” strategy that aims to address the current pandemic and acts as a first line of defence against variants of concern and similar viruses that could emerge in the future.
“The accelerating emergence of human coronaviruses throughout the past two decades and the rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including most recently Omicron, underscore the continued need for next-generation preemptive vaccines that confer broad protection against coronavirus diseases,” said Dr Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR, co-inventor of the vaccine and the US Army lead for SpFN.

“Our strategy has been to develop a ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccine technology that could potentially offer safe, effective and durable protection against multiple coronavirus strains and species.”

Pre-clinical studies published today in Science Translational Medicine indicate that the SpFN vaccine protects non-human primates from disease caused by the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and induces highly-potent and broadly-neutralizing antibody responses against major SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern including the SARS-CoV-1 virus that emerged in 2002, the statement read.

SpFN entered Phase 1 human trials in April 2021. Early analyses, expected to conclude this month, will provide insights into whether SpFN’s potency and breadth, as demonstrated in preclinical trials, will carry over into humans. The data will also allow researchers to compare SpFN’s immune profile to that of other COVID-19 vaccines already authorized for emergency use.

“This vaccine stands out in the COVID-19 vaccine landscape,” Modjarrad said. “The repetitive and ordered display of the coronavirus spike protein on a multi-faced nanoparticle may stimulate immunity in such a way as to translate into significantly broader protection.”

WRAIR developed a secondary candidate vaccine, a SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-Binding Domain Ferritin Nanoparticle (RFN) vaccine, which targets a smaller part of the coronavirus Spike protein than the SpFN vaccine. Results from a study, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that this vaccine potentially offers similar protection against an array of SARS-CoV-2 variants and SARS-CoV-1.

“The RFN vaccine candidate is more compact and has some natural advantages as we try to increase the immune response against multiple coronaviruses using a single vaccine platform, so it is still under consideration as part of our pan-coronavirus vaccine development pipeline,” said WRAIR structural biologist and vaccine co-inventor, Dr Gordon Joyce.

“The threat from COVID-19 continues as it evolves, and eventually there will be other emerging disease threats,” said Dr Nelson Michael, Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at WRAIR.

“Our investment in developing a next-generation vaccine is an important step towards getting ahead of COVID-19 and future disease threats.” (ANI)

New Feature: Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro might sport 48MP camera


Washington [US]: American tech giant Apple has been relying on 12MP sensors for the main cameras of its smartphones for the better part of a decade now. According to GSM Arena, this is finally about to change in the iPhone 14 Pro series, as the company is aiming to put a 48MP sensor behind the main shooter, an analyst claims.

The 48MP sensors still output 12MP images after pixel-binning, but allows more data to be gathered for computational photography. Kuo stated that Apple might add a ’48MP’ feature that takes pictures in 48-megapixel resolution for when total resolved detail is key.
The company will then move to introduce another widely used smartphone tech, the periscope lens. It will make its way to the iPhone 15 series, scheduled to arrive in 2023.

As per GSM Arena, sadly, the analyst did not have any more info on the matter. Right now, the telephoto camera of the iPhone 13 Pro Max caps out at 3x, but anything longer wouldn’t fit in a modern slim smartphone without the use of folded optics.

Earthquake of 3.3 magnitude hits Karnataka’s Bengaluru, No major damage

Bengaluru (Karnataka): An earthquake of magnitude 3.3 hit the North-Northeast of Karnataka’s Bengaluru on Tuesday, informed the National Center for Seismology (NSC).

“Earthquake of Magnitude:3.3, Occurred on 22-12-2021, 07:14:32 IST, Lat: 13.55 and Long: 77.76, Depth: 23 Km, Location: 66km NNE of Bengaluru, Karnataka,” tweeted NSC.
More details are awaited. (ANI)

Wagner, Conway to play for New Zealand XI in practice match ahead of Bangladesh series

Wellington [New Zealand]: Blackcaps’ Neil Wagner and Devon Conway will get an early look at the touring Bangladesh team when they play for the New Zealand XI in a two-day match on December 28 and 29 on Bay Oval’s number two ground.

Both players have been selected in the side to get some much-needed cricket under their belt ahead of the Walton Test Series against Bangladesh, starting on January 1 at Bay Oval.
Wagner is primed for a return to cricket having not featured in the team’s recent Test tour to India.

“I love getting the red ball in my hand and this match presents a perfect opportunity to get some miles in the legs ahead of what should be a hard fought Test series against Bangladesh,” said Wagner in a New Zealand Cricket (NZC) statement.

“The boys are happy to be back home and we can’t wait to play in front of our home fans over the New Year period in both Mount Maunganui and Christchurch.”

Conway’s inclusion sees him return to cricket after breaking his hand in the ICC T20 World Cup semi-final against England in November.

New Zealand Cricket said Conway’s selection in the New Zealand XI is subject to the hand injury being fully recovered in time to take the field.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back into some competitive cricket and hopefully I’m passed fit to play,” said Conway.

“I’ve just started batting again and testing out my hand so I’m hopeful of making my return for the New Zealand XI. There’s nothing like a match situation to really test it out and help build some confidence,” he added.

Brendon Donkers will coach the New Zealand XI for the two-day warm-up fixture. New Zealand and Bangladesh will lock horns in a two-match Test series from January 1. (ANI)

World could be entering worst part of pandemic: Bill Gates on Omicron surge

Washington [US]: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has warned against the rising Omicron cases around the world, saying that the world could be entering the worst part of the pandemic as the variant will result in the “worst surge” the world has seen so far.

In a series of tweets, Bill Gates said he has cancelled most of his holiday plans after his close friends have been infected with the Omicron variant.
“Omicron is spreading faster than any virus in history. It will soon be in every country in the world,” he said.

Noting that the “big unknown” is how lethal the variant is, Gates claimed: “Even if it’s only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it’s so infectious.”

He advised people to take booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it gives the best protection.

“In the meantime, we all have to look out for each other, especially the most vulnerable, whether they live down the street or in another country. That means wearing masks, avoiding big indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated. Getting a booster gives the best protection,” he tweeted.

Bill Gates also claimed that the pandemic wave due to Omicron would last less than three months.

“If there’s good news here, it’s that omicron moves so quickly that once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than 3 months. Those few months could be bad, but I still believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022,” he further said.

Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa in November, has been declared as a “variant of concern” by the WHO.

Speaking at a briefing on Monday, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was no evidence that the variant was “spreading significantly faster” than the previous dominant version, Delta.

The World Health Organization has urged people to cancel some of their holiday plans to protect public health, as the Omicron variant spreads globally.

“An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled,” said Ghebreyesus, adding that “difficult decisions” must be made. (ANI)

Power Crisis in Jammu & Kashmir: Army called in for help as strike by electricity employees triggers massive power outage

Jammu: Several areas of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed electricity outages as linemen to senior engineers begin their indefinite strike on Saturday against the government’s privatisation move and failure of two-round talks.

The government has called in Army to restore essential services hit by the ongoing strike of electricity department personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, officials informed.. They said the deployment was made following a request by the administration.

In a communication addressed to the army, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer said that due to the strike by electricity department personnel, essential services have been severely affected in the Jammu region.

“We would like to hereby requisition the Indian army to assist in the restoration of the essential services by provisioning manpower to main critical electricity stations and water supply sources,” Langer said.

Speaking on the matter, Union Power Minister RK Singh said, “There is a minor impact at a few places, by and large, things are normal. In Jammu, only 15-20 per cent of feeders are affected. There is no situation of blackout. Talks are on with employees union to know their demands & grievances.”

Meanwhile, the army acted swiftly and deployed its troops at main critical electricity stations and water supply sources to restore supply, the officials said. Several areas of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed electricity outages as linemen to senior engineers begin their indefinite strike on Saturday against the government’s privatisation move and failure of two-round talks. During the night-hours, there was a blackout in nearly 50 per cent of areas across J&K.

Reacting to the prevailing condition of power outage in the UT, National Conference leader and former CM of the erstwhile state, Omar Abdullah, said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration is causing inconvenience to the locals.

“The army has been called to operate the power infrastructure in Jammu division of J&K. There no bigger admission of failure for a civilian administration than to call upon the army, it means a total breakdown of governance has been accepted by the J&K government,” he tweeted.

161 Omicron cases reported in India: Mansukh Mandaviya


New Delhi [India]: India has reported 161 cases of new coronavirus variant Omicron, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.

“As of now, India has 161 Omicron cases…We are monitoring the situation daily with experts,” the minister told Rajya Sabha while replying to debate on the COVID-19 situation.
He said the government has taken steps to deal with situation if the virus spreads.

“With our experience during the first and second waves, to ensure that we don’t face problems if variant spreads, we have arranged a buffer stock of important medicines.”

He said the states and union territories have adequate quantity of vaccines against COVID-19 for vaccination drives, adding that the country’s vaccine manufacturing capacity has also increased.

“Today all states and UTs have adequate quantity of vaccines, 17 crore doses available with them. Our manufacturing capacity has increased. Today India has capacity to manufacture 31 crore doses of vaccine per month. In next two months, it’ll further rise to 45 crore doses per month,” the minister said.

“Under PM Modi’s leadership, with the efforts of our healthcare workers, 88 per cent of first doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered and 58 per cent of second doses administered so far. The majority of the population in India is vaccinated today,” he added. (ANI)

Post Covid Outreach by Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation to Weaker Sections of the Society amid Omicron Fears

Social outreach by I3T researchers in the districts of West Bengal will help villagers to fight cold and post-covid issues

Kolkata [India] : Forty seven year old Subhadra Majhi of Pukurhati village in North 24 Paragana, is very happy as she will be able to cook good ‘Bhaat’ (rice) and full meal for her kids and ailing husband today after a long gap. In the beginning of the lockdown last year, her husband had to come back home from the Mumbai as the factory was closed down and he lost his job. Like him, many villagers of this area are managing their families by doing odd jobs. Even though the lockdown is over and things have started opening up, they are still trying hard to meet the daily requirements of the family.

Villagers waiting for their turn at the camp of I3T volunteers

In this post-covid scenario, a team of researchers from International Institute of Innovation and Technology arrived with good quality ration and winter clothing/blankets in their village. With the support of the Gram Panchayat and the villagers, things are distributed to all the needy people in a much organised manner. The best part of this initiative is that this outreach support will continue and this is not a one-time affair for the villagers. Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation will extend all the support to improve the various aspects of their lives ((food, health care, education, skill development etc) in upcoming months through different social initiatives.

To improve public health in India by integrating research, education and health-related services that deliver innovative solutions to real problems impacting the society, International Institute of Innovation and Technology (I3T) under the patronage of the Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation has taken new initiatives this December through various outreach programs for the development of the weaker sections of the society in the post Covid scenario. International Institute of Innovation and Technology (I3T) has collaborated with The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), USA for its various Research and Public Health initiatives. The institute aims to provide educational and research programs in the public health domain for the first time in Eastern India.

Dr. Pradip Ghosh (in centre) with JHSPH dignitaries at Kolkata.

In it’s recent outreach initiative, the institute has planned to focus on the overall development of the people residing in more than 10 villages across North and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal. In the first phase of its social outreach initiative, the institute has started distributing ration and winter clothing (blankets, etc) of good quality to the weaker sections of the society.

 Internationally acclaimed visionary educationist Dr. Pradip Ghosh, Founder Chairman of International Institute of Innovation and Technology (I3T),firmly believes that this outreach program should be a continuous process and each and every aspect of issues concerning villagers should be addressed and focus should be on empowering them through different initiatives.

Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation has already donated five million dollars (approx. INR 40 crs) to Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, aiming to change lives of millions in West Bengal and India. His contribution to Johns Hopkins is a huge step for the establishment of Johns Hopkins University India Maternal and Child Health Research Center and the Vaccine Research Center in West Bengal – the first of it’s kind in India. This alliance is going to improve the basic health care facilities and research aspects of public health care on a large scale.

Social Outreach by I3T is for the overall development of the villages

The Foundation is committed for the regular assistance and support to the weaker sections of the society in the districts of West Bengal. In the month of December, Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation has engaged Gram Panchayats and senior people of the villages like Dhamakhali, Pukurhati, Haroa, Khardah, Ghaskhali and few more villages of North & South 24 Parganas to distribute monthly ration of good nutritional quality.

 ‘This alliance is just the beginning of a long journey that might actually change the public healthcare scenario of the state completely”, says Dr. Pradip Ghosh.

Hailing from Khardah, West Bengal, Dr. Ghosh has always felt the urge to extend a hand to support the socio-healthcare face of the state. He aims at mobilizing more than 100 research scientists to find cure and vaccinations for Malaria, Dengue, Hepatitis, and other tropical diseases. His vision even includes public healthcare services in research fields related to Diabetes, Cancer, Stem Cell Therapies, and others. An educator, a philanthropist, Founder of Pradip and Kumkum Ghosh Family Foundation, Dr. Ghosh is also the Founder – Chairman of Washington Kali Temple, a true Indian Temple representing every religion of India, built on nine acres of pristine ashram like setting. His endeavor is certainly going to change millions of lives In India.

#I3T #Internationalinstituteofinnovationand technology #pradipandkumkumghoshfamilyfoundation #postcovidhelp #outreach #socialoutreach

Mathura to get grand temple after Ayodhya, Kashi, says BJP MP Hema Malini

Indore , December 20 (ANI): BJP MP Hema Malini on Sunday expressed hope that after Ayodhya and Kashi, her constituency Mathura will also get a grand temple like the Kashi Vishwanath corridor.

BJP MP, who was addressing media in Indore said, “After the restoration of Ram Janmabhoomi and Kashi, naturally Mathura is also very important. I am invited to Kashi and I am going on Monday.”
“Being the MP of Mathura, which is the birthplace of Lord Krishan who is the symbol of love and affection, I will say that there should be a grand temple. A temple is already there and can be beautified like Modi ji developed Kashi Vishwanath corridor,” she said.

She further said that the renovation and redevelopment of Kashi Vishwanath was very difficult and for the last few years no one thought about bringing such changes.

“This change was very difficult. This shows his farsightedness. This will also happen in Mathura.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 13 inaugurated phase 1 of the newly-constructed Kashi Vishwanath Dham at a cost of around Rs 339 crores.

A total of 23 buildings were inaugurated in phase 1 of the project. It provides a variety of facilities to the pilgrims visiting Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, including Yatri Suvidha Kendras, Tourist Facilitation Centre, Vedic Kendra, Mumukshu Bhavan, Bhogshala, City Museum, Viewing Gallery, Food Court, among others. (ANI)

EC delegation on three-day visit to Goa from today, to review preparedness ahead of Assembly polls

Panaji (Goa) [India]: A high-level team of the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra will embark on a three-day visit to Goa from Monday to take stock of the poll preparedness ahead of the upcoming state Assembly polls.

“The ECI team led by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra will today visit Goa on three-day from December 20 to take stock of the poll preparedness ahead of the State Assembly elections, due in February 2022,” Chief Electoral Officer, Goa Kunal Singh told ANI.
Goa is slated to go to Assembly elections early next year. (ANI)

Chennai: TII announces its electric vehicles under Montra brand

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], December 18 (ANI/NewsVoir): TI Cycles of India (TII), part of the Murugappa Group, today, announced Montra brand to lead its Electric Vehicle (EVs) business. Montra, an existing brand under TII has stood for achievement, strength, fearlessness and an ambitious spirit. With the rapidly evolving mobility landscape, the brand too is evolving while retaining its values.

To begin with, the Montra brand will enter EVs business in three segments – last-mile commute, last-mile delivery and personal mobility. Under last-mile commute, TII’s first venture will be in the 3-wheel electric autos, which is expected to be launched in Q1 of FY22-23. In last-mile delivery segment, 3W electric cargo vehicles will be introduced. TII has already launched E-Bicycles in the personal mobility segment. With a range of best in class EVs, TII plans to improve people’s quality of life through eco-friendly mobility solutions.
Commenting on the announcement, Vellayan Subbiah, MD, Tube Investments of India said, “We have been an integral part of the mobility industry through our bicycle, automotive body/components and manufacturing businesses. Our foray into Electric Vehicle is a step forward in line with our long-term vision, to be an integral part of Electric Mobility and revolutionize the automotive segment through product and creating an ecosystem for the segment to flourish. The Montra logo is designed to symbolize our brand value and long-term ambition.”

The brand aims to power the dreams and ambitions of a whole new generation by designing smart, best-in-class mobility solutions that fuel progress. The New Logo is inspired by an Eagle representing rising ambition, vision, fearlessness, agility, efficiency and tenacity to go for glory.

Established in 1949 by the Murugappa Group in collaboration with Tube Investments (UK), TI Cycles has transitioned from just dealing with Bike manufacture and design to becoming an expert in mobility and well-being solutions.

Known best for its flagship Bike brands – BSA, Hercules and Montra, TI Cycles has practically created and perfected every new cycle category in the country. TI Cycles has plants at Ambattur/Chennai and Rajpura, through which it serves its nationwide 2500 plus dealer-network. The energy of the company can be felt nationwide, thanks to its primary dealers and 10,000 plus secondary dealers.

Founded in 1900, the INR 417 billion (41,713 Crores) Murugappa Group is one of India’s leading business conglomerates. The Group has 29 businesses including ten listed Companies traded in NSE & BSE. Headquartered in Chennai, the major Companies of the Group include Carborundum Universal Ltd., CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd., Cholamandalam Financial Holdings Ltd., Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Ltd., Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd., Coromandel International Ltd., Coromandel Engineering Company Ltd., E.I.D. Parry (India) Ltd., Parry Agro Industries Ltd., Shanthi Gears Ltd., Tube Investments of India Ltd. and Wendt (India) Ltd.

The Group holds a leadership position in several product lines including Abrasives, Technical Ceramics, Electro Minerals, Auto Components & Systems, Bicycles, Fertilisers, Sugar, Tea and Spirulina (Nutraceuticals). The Group has forged strong alliances with leading international companies such as Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Foskor, Mitsui Sumitomo, Morgan Advanced Materials, Yanmar & Co. and Compagnie Des Phosphates De Gafsa (CPG). The Group has a wide geographical presence all over India and spanning 6 continents.

Renowned brands like BSA, Hercules, Montra, Mach City, Ballmaster, Ajax, Parry’s, Chola, Gromor, Shanthi Gears and Paramfos are from the Murugappa stable. The Group fosters an environment of professionalism and has a workforce of over 51,000 employees.


This story is provided by NewsVoir. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/NewsVoir)

SA vs Ind: Kohli-led Indian squad begins training for first Test

Centurion [South Africa]: The Virat Kohli-led Indian Test squad has begun preparation for the South Africa tour ahead of the first Test which gets underway from December 26.

South Africa and India will lock horns in the three-match Test series before the two sides meet in the limited-overs format.
The Indian squad held their first practice session on Saturday to gear up for the South Africa tour.

“#TeamIndia begin preparations for the first Test in Centurion Stadium. First practice session done,” BCCI tweeted the pictures from the practice session.

The Indian Test squad arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday. Rohit Sharma will be missing the upcoming Test series after the hamstring injury and Priyank Panchal was named as the replacement.

Meanwhile, the All-India Senior selection committee on Saturday named KL Rahul as vice-captain for the upcoming 3-match Test series against South Africa.

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