central government

Centre calls all-party meet to discuss budget session

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Central Government has convened an all-party meet likely at 3 pm on January 31 to discuss Budget Session. The Budget Session will get underway on the same day with the Presidential address at 11 am followed by the laying of the Economic Survey. The Union Budget will be presented on February 1, 2022.
The all-party meeting has been called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to deliberate with the opposition on issues that they would like to discuss during the session while the government will also give them a close view of the agenda and Legislative business that they would likely follow in the next one year.
Sources also told ANI that the all-party meeting would be followed by a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Executive Committee and then the NDA floor leaders meeting.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been attending these meetings and is often seen urging the opposition to allow smooth functioning of the House and that his government would allow debate on all issues.
The last two Sessions of Parliament were stormy as the Monsoon Session was completely washed out because of the opposition’s insistence on a discussion on Pegasus. On the other hand, Winter Session was completely washed out over the opposition’s insistence for the resignation of MOS of Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son is currently in jail for allegedly mowing down protesting farmers.
The Budget Session will be held from January 31 till February 11 and the second part of the Budget Session will get underway on March 14 and will continue till April 8.
March 18 will be a holiday on account of Holi. (Image source: Instagram)

COVID-19 vaccination for children below 15 yrs to begin after scientific evidence: Centre

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Union Health Ministry will decide about COVID-19 vaccination for children less than 15 years of age only after scientific evidence, said Rajesh Bhushan, Health Secretary while addressing a press briefing on Thursday. “From January 16, 2021, COVID-19 vaccination has been started and rolled out based on scientific evidence and assumptions of protecting the most vulnerable people. So, as the scientific evidence evolved, we will be expanding the coverage of vaccination. We will take a decision on the basis of scientific evidence for below 15 years old children,” Bhushan said.
Further, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog explained, “COVID-19 vaccination for 12 years old is our next goal. These decisions will only be taken after scientific information and scientific decision. We are working on it also.”
Earlier, the official sources reported ANI that vaccination for those under 15 years of age has not been yet taken by the Union Health Ministry.
The Central government also informed that 72 per cent of India’s adult population is fully vaccinated whereas around 52 per cent of children in the 15-18 years old age group have been inoculated with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the health officials said that the adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years are actively participating in the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
On Monday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also said that over 3.5 crore teenagers between the age limit of 15 to 18 years have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Amazing enthusiasm among young India for COVID-19 vaccination. Over 3.5 crore children between the 15-18 age group have received 1st dose of the COVID vaccine since January 3. Congratulations to all my young friends who have got vaccinated,” the health minister tweeted.
So far, India has administered 3.45 crore first doses of COVID-19 vaccination to children in the age group of 15-18 years old.
The country began vaccinating children between the ages of 15-18 years from January 3 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement on December 25 last year.
Notably, India may begin inoculating children in the age group of 12-14 years against COVID-19 in March this year, as per the statement given by Dr NK Arora who is the Chairman of the COVID-19 working group of NTAGI. (Image source: Unsplash)

Tableaux rejected by Centre for Republic Day Parade to be shown in Chennai, says TN CM Stalin

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India] (ANI): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday said that the State Government has decided to showcase the tableaux rejected by the Centre for the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, at a parade on the Marina beachfront in Chennai on January 26.
Besides, said the chief minister the tableaux would travel to key towns in Tamil Nadu for the people to see, according to a statement by the chief minister’s office. “Shocked and sad over rejection of tableaux from Tamil Nadu for Republic Day parade without any reason. State tableaux rejected for Republic day parade in Delhi by Central committee will be part of Republic Day parade in Chennai; will be taken across Tamil Nadu,” said the Chief Minister in a statement.
Earlier today, a day after, Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Centre rejecting the state’s tableau for the Republic Day Parade 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the tableau was considered in the first three rounds of the meetings of the expert committee, however, could not make it to the final list of the 12 tableaux selected for this year.
Stalin on Monday had written to the Prime Minister seeking his immediate intervention into the matter. “Excluding the tableau will deeply hurt the sentiments and patriotic feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu,” the Tamil Nadu chief minister had written.
Responding to his letter, Rajanth Singh wrote in his letter to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, “Ministry of Defence invites proposals for tableaux from all States/UTs and Central Ministries/Departments. The tableaux proposals received from various States/UTs and Central Ministries/Departments are evaluated in a series of meetings of the Expert Committee comprising eminent persons in the field of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography etc. The Expert Committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations.”
“As per the time slot allotted for tableaux in the overall duration of the parade, shortlisting of tableaux is done by the Expert Committee. For RDP-2022, a total of 29 proposals were received from States/ UTs including the proposal from State of Tamil Nadu. The Tableaux from the State Government of Tamil Nadu was considered in the first three rounds of meetings. After the third round of meeting, the tableaux could not make it into the final list of 12 Tableaux selected for participation in the RDP-2022,” he added.
Singh said that the selection of tableau is as per the prescribed guidelines on the matter.
Notably, the Centre also rejected the West Bengal tableau for the Republic Day Parade as well after which state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to reconsider his decision. (Image source: Instagram)

Tamil Nadu CM urges Centre’s intervention for release of fishermen, fishing boats captured by Sri Lankan Navy

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Sunday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar requesting his intervention to secure the immediate release of 55 fishermen and 73 fishing boats apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy.
The chief minister detailed “two incidents of apprehension of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy that took place in the last 24 hours.” The 43 fishermen from Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram District, were fishing in the traditional waters of Palk Bay, in six mechanized fishing boats and were arrested on December 18 and taken to Mylatti, Naval base in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Nadu CM said in his letter.
In another incident on December 19, 12 fishermen in two mechanized fishing boats from Mandapam, Ramanathapuram district were arrested and taken to Kalpatti, Naval base in Sri Lanka, Stalin wrote.
“I am saddened to point out that the incidents of arrest and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy continue with alarming frequency despite several letters sent by the Government of Tamil Nadu,” the Tamil Nadu chief minister wrote.
Stalin further said “in the year 2021 itself there were 19 incidents of apprehension and attack of Tamil Nadu fishermen. Though the fishermen were released, fishing boats, the source of livelihood are still detained by Sri Lankan authorities. Further, during the same period, there were two instances of attacks, and five fishermen were killed.”
“The repeated attempts by the Sri Lankan Navy to prevent the exercise of traditional rights by fishermen of the State by intimidatory tactics must not be allowed to continue further. I request the concerted efforts by the Government of India to address this festering issue,” Stalin said.
Stalin further requested him to secure the immediate release of fishermen and fishing boats in the custody of the neighbouring country.

Centre, BJP planning to ensure there is no caste-based census, says RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav

New Delhi [India]: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday alleged that the Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party are planning to ensure that there is no caste-based census.
He added that government might refuse but his party would make sure that a caste-based census is carried out. “Narendra Modi and BJP are planning to ensure that there is no caste-based census. The population of SC/ST has risen hence the government has to give jobs to them. The government might deny but we will make sure that caste-based census is carried out,” the RJD chief told media persons in Delhi.
Earlier on Thursday, RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha moved a Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha on the matter of ‘caste-based census’.
In his letter to Secretary-General of the Upper House, Jha said, “In order to ensure that Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas is a reality, we must urgently count the ladder of our social edifice and for that, it is important that Socio-Economic Caste Census be undertaken on priority and with urgency. While there is a strong possibility of sub-categorization of OBC, we need to have solid scientific data about the relationship between access to several resources vis-a-vis caste.”
He also said, “Denying a caste-based census is denying that a problem exists especially in a country where caste has become not only an identity but a way of life and it has stories of discrimination attached therein. A caste-based census will identify the wealth and education gap between the upper and non-upper caste groups relative to their population and assist in framing targeted policy interventions.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Centre had said that it has not enumerated caste wise population other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the census since independence.
In reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said that the castes and tribes which are specifically notified as Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, as amended from time to time, are enumerated in the decadal Census.
Rai added that the Centre has not enumerated caste wise populations other than SCs and STs in Census since independence. The Census Schedule is designed in consultation with various stakeholders including Central Ministries.
The intent of the Government for conducting Census 2021 was notified in the Gazette of India on 28 March 2019.
However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Census activities have been postponed.

Centre to invest 64,000 cr in health sector over next 5 years, says Mansukh Mandaviya

Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) [India]: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said that about Rs 64,000 crore will be invested by the Centre in creating health infrastructure in the country over the next five years.
The Union Minister, who was on a day-long tour to Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh, while interacting with healthcare workers at Khandro Drowa Zangmo District Hospital, said that the central government is working to provide health security to all through various health welfare schemes. “Never in the past was health considered as wealth. The present Union Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working on these lines to provide health security to all through its various health welfare schemes,” Mandaviya said during the interaction, as quoted in an official statement.
Emphasizing on the benefits of the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission that will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other, the minister said, “We have to work with Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. This will enable us to know the history of a patient and can provide them with quality health services. In the next five years, an investment of Rs 64,000 crore will be made in improving health infrastructure in the country.”
State health Principal Secretary Dr Sharat Chauhan presented an overall health scenario of the state through a powerpoint presentation and apprised the Union Minister regarding COVID-19 management and vaccination status.
Indian Medical Association (IMA) President of Arunachal Pradesh Dr Lobsang Tsetim informed the Union Minister on working of IMA in the state and placed his request to take over Tomo Riba Institute Of Health And Medical Sciences (TRIHMS), Naharlagun by the central government for its future sustainability, quality education and service. He also raised his concern for an urgent need of a super speciality hospital in the state and also the need for massive reformation in all the existing Primary Health Centre.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister visited IPD ward of KDS District Hospital, Tawang and interacted with patients and distributed fruits. He also visited Jan Aushadi Dispensary of KDS District Hospital, Tawang.

Covid-19: Health Secretary writes to States, UTs to implement Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate measures

New Delhi [India]: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday wrote to the additional Secretary, principal Secretary, secretary of health of all states and Union Territories to adhere to strict implementation of the Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate measures in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the foreign countries, the relaxation of visa restrictions, and opening up of international travel.
“lt is critical for the States/UTs to adhere to the overarching ‘Test-TrackTreat-Vaccinate’ principle to ensure stringent implementation of containment measures as per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines,” said the letter. “It has now been reported by National Cooperative Development Corporation (NDMC) that multiple cases of a COVID-19 variant 8.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Honk Kong (1 case). This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” he wrote in the letter.
The Health Secretary said that all the international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries are subject to “rigorous screening and testing”, as per the MoHFW guidelines.
“lt is imperative that ALL international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the “at-risk” Country Category of international travellers coming to lndia) and also including all other ‘at risk’ countries indicated in the revised Guidelines for international Arrivals issued by this Ministry dated 11.11.2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW Guidelines. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines,” said the letter.
The letter further instructed the State Surveillance Officers to establish “close coordination” with Inventure Growth and Securities Limited for expediting results of genomic analysis to undertake necessary public health measures.

Cannot keep Kashmir by using muscle power: Mehbooba Mufti urges Centre to restore Article 370, 35A

Ramban (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday urged Centre to restore Article 370 and Article 35A and said that Kashmir cannot be kept with the country by using muscle power.
“We decided to go with India of Gandhi Ji, which gave us Article 370, Article 35A and our own flag…If you want to keep Jammu and Kashmir with you, reinstate Article 370 and Article 35A and solve Kashmir issue. You cannot keep Kashmir with you by using muscle power,” Mufti said while addressing a public rally at Banihal in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir. She also said, “It took India 200 years to get independence from the British and BJP took 70 years to remove Article 370 unconstitutionally. We may take 70 months but we will compel the Indian government to return not only Article 370 but resolve the Kashmir issue as well for which our youth sacrificed their lives.”
In August 2019, the Central government scrapped Article 370 which gave special rights to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the region into two categories- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Centre completes formalities to repeal 3 farm laws

New Delhi [India]: Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur on Wednesday informed that the Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed the formalities to repeal three farm laws.
Addressing the cabinet briefing today, Thakur said, “Today, the Union Cabinet led by PM completed formalities to repeal the three Farm Laws. During the upcoming session of the Parliament, it will be our priority to take back these three laws.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had earlier on Friday, announced that the Centre will repeal the three farm laws and bring necessary bills in the winter session of Parliament beginning later this month.
The Prime Minister had also announced that the government will constitute a committee to work on a new framework for Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Farmers have been protesting against the government’s three farm laws since the Centre had passed the laws in 2020.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 seeks to repeal the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 has been listed for introduction and passage. It is among 26 new bills on the agenda of the government.

Union Cabinet likely to officially repeal farm laws

Parliament of India

New Delhi [India]: The Union Cabinet is likely to approve the proposal to withdraw the three farm laws in the meeting on Wednesday, sources said.
“Union Cabinet is likely to take up on Wednesday, November 24 the withdrawal of the three Farm laws for approval. The Bills for withdrawal of the laws shall then be introduced in the forthcoming Parliament session,” sources in the government told ANI. The Government of India has listed ‘The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021’ in the legislative business to be taken up in Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament beginning November 29.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, earlier on Friday, announced that the Centre will repeal the three farm laws and bring necessary bills in the winter session of Parliament beginning later this month.
The Prime Minister had also announced that the government will constitute a committee to work on a new framework for Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Farmers have been protesting against the government’s three farm laws since the Centre had passed the laws in 2020.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 seeks to repeal the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 has been listed for introduction and passage. It is among 26 new bills on the agenda of the government.

Owaisi warns Centre of protests if CAA not repealed

Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi on Sunday asked the Centre to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and said that if it is not repealed then protestors will “take to streets in Uttar Pradesh and make another Shaheen Bagh”.
“I demand from the Bharatiya Janata Party government to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA),” Owaisi said while addressing a public meeting in Barabunki. Owaisi said that the Centre should consider of repealing CAA in the same manner in which the three farm laws have been repealed.
“If the government makes the law on the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) then we will hit the streets again, we will make Shaheen bagh here too. I myself would come here,” he added.
“The farmers do not trust the government, they say that when the Parliament starts and the bill is introduced, then we will decide,” he said.
Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) announced that it will contest elections on 100 seats out of the 403 assembly seats.
The party said it is in talks with other parties to form an alliance.

Speaking to ANI in Lucknow, AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi said, “Our party has decided to contest elections on 100 seats. We are in talks with one or two more parties and time will tell, if we form an alliance or not. We are surely in a position to win the elections.”

“It is true that in Uttar Pradesh, the presence of AIMIM has become very strong. And today, we are in this position that we will win the election and get lots of votes too, InshaAllah,” he said. Uttar Pradesh is scheduled to go for Assembly polls in 2022.

Previously, in the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged 312 seats out of the 403-seat Uttar Pradesh Assembly while Samajwadi Party (SP) bagged 47 seats, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) won 19 and Congress could manage to win only seven seats. The rest of the seats were bagged by other candidates.

“Centre had no other option”

New Delhi [India]: Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar welcomed the Centre’s decision to repeal the farm laws and said that the Centre had no other option for safeguarding the interests of their party and the government.
KPCC president Shivakumar, who is in Delhi, termed the withdrawal of farm laws as a victory for farmers and the Congress party. Speaking to ANI, Shivakumar said, “In my opinion, this is not a big decision. The Centre had no option left to save their party, their government. This decision was needed to safeguard the country’s interests.”
Shivkumar further added, “The decision earlier had been taken against the interest of the country and the farmers. Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi spoke on record that the Centre had no option left but to repeal these laws.”
The state Congress supremo further said that this agitation had been going on for almost a year. “Many people lost their lives. Lakhs of the people did not opt to work in the farm, agriculture activities, business, production, family and were just fighting for their right,” he said.
“Today is the victory of all the farmers. Now, I appeal to the Centre to compensate all those who lost their lives in this farmers’ movement,” the Congress leader said. The Congress leader further said that it is likely that the decision was taken in view of the upcoming assembly elections in 2022.
In a major move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the repealing of the three Central farm laws.
Farmers have been protesting against the government’s three farm laws since they were passed by the Centre in 2020.
The three farm laws are as follows: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act provides for setting up a mechanism allowing the farmers to sell their farm produces outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs). Any licence-holder trader can buy the produce from the farmers at mutually agreed prices. This trade of farm produces will be free of mandi tax imposed by the state governments.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act allows farmers to do contract farming and market their produces freely. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act.

Centre to provide 4G mobile services in over 7,000 villages across 5 states, says Anurag Thakur

New Delhi [India]: Union Cabinet has decided to provide 4G mobile services in over 7,000 villages across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha, said Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur on Wednesday.
The expenditure on this scheme is estimated to be Rs 6,466 crore, he added. Briefing media about Union Cabinet’s decision, Thakur said, “In over 7000 villages of 44 aspirational districts across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Odisha, mobile towers connectivity will be provided. It has been decided to provide 4G mobile services. Project is expected to be worth Rs 6,466 crore.”
The minister further said that with this project, people will be able to utilise the benefits of e-governance.
Divulging the details of another scheme, the minister said that roads will be built under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), which will benefit areas affected by “Left-Wing Extremism” across the country.
“Areas that were not covered for road connectivity under phases 1 and phase 2 of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana or the Left-Wing Extremism affected areas and the tribal areas are going to be benefitted. Roads will be built through dense forests, mountains and rivers,” he said.
“The total expenditure on this project is estimated to be Rs 33,822 crore,” the minister added.

Telangana: Congress’ Revanth Reddy slams Centre, state over paddy issue

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Chief Revanth Reddy slammed the Centre and state government for “being irresponsible in purchasing paddy.”
Reddy questioned the state Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and said why the government is not spending money on paddy? He criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) saying “both are one.”
Congress leader further demanded, “a special budget to be introduced so that every grain be bought.” He also stressed that a protest should be held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
Meanwhile, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister Nehru, the congress party laid flowers at the statue of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at Gandhi Bhavan.
He remembered Nehru’s contribution and said “he was jailed for ten years for nation, it is a festival day for people of this country.”
India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary is celebrated as Children’s Day in India on November 14.
Nehru was fondly called ‘Chacha Nehru’ and was known for emphasizing the importance of giving love and affection to children.
After the death of Nehru, it was unanimously decided to celebrate his birthday as ‘Bal Diwas’ or Children’s Day in India.

Kishan Reddy slams Telangana govt, says Centre ready to procure paddy

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Slamming the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in Telangana, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy on Saturday said that the Centre would procure entire Kharif (summer or monsoon crop) paddy produced in the state.
Speaking to ANI, Reddy said, “The Centre never said that it would not procure paddy in Telangana. Is any farmer in Telangana producing boiled rice? Boiled rice is prepared by the rice millers. The Center has been saying that boiled rice should be reduced in stages.” Earlier on Friday, the ruling TRS party staged a protest across the state demanding the central government to buy paddy harvest grown by farmers of the state.
The Union Minister further said that the Central Government has decided to celebrate Birsamunda Jayanti on November 15 as National Tribal Day.
“We are giving Rs 15 crore to the Tribal Museum in the state. We have already released Rs. 1 Crore to the Tribal Museum. Sammakka Saralamma Jatara will be held in February next year. Saralamma Jatara will be funded by the Center,” he added.

Love Hindi language more than Gujarati, need to strengthen our ‘Rajbhasha’

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) [India] : Stressing that the central government has given special emphasis on ‘Rajbhasha’ (national language) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah on Saturday said he “loves” Hindi language more than Gujarati.
Addressing the Akhil Bharatiya Rajbhasha Sammelan in Varanasi on the second day of his visit to the city, Shah said, “I love Hindi language more than Gujarati. We need to strengthen our Rajbhasha.” “Gandhiji converted the freedom movement into a people’s movement; it had three pillars – Swaraj, Swadeshi and Swabhasha. Swaraj was achieved, but Swadeshi and Swabhasha were left behind. There is no conflict between Hindi and all our local languages,” he added.
“We have given special emphasis on Rajbhasha under PM Modi’s leadership,” he added.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also present at ‘Akhil Bhartiya Rajbhasha Sammelan’ in Varanasi.
Shah, prior to his address, released a Hindi magazine at first Akhil Bhartiya Rajbhasha Sammelan at Deendayal hastkala sankul in Varanasi.
Ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the Union Home Minister also held a review meeting with Vidhan Sabha in charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Varanasi on Friday.
In addition, Shah offered prayers at Kaal Bhairav temple in Varanasi. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Uttar Pradesh election in-charge and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan were also present with Shah.
He also paid tribute to Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya at Banaras Hindu University on his death anniversary yesterday.
Shah’s visit is significant in view of the upcoming high-stake Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh as he is considered as the architect of the BJP’s turnaround in the state after the party had been reduced to the fourth major electoral group in the 2012 polls.
The next elections are scheduled to be held early next year to elect 403 members of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

Centre releases grant of Rs 8,453.92 cr to 19 states to strengthen health systems

New Delhi [India]: The Central government has released an amount of Rs 8,453.92 crore as a health sector grant for rural and urban local bodies of 19 states to strengthen health systems and plug critical gaps in the health care system at the primary health care level, informed the Ministry of Finance on Saturday.
The Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has released the grant as per the recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission. The Fifteenth Finance Commission (FC-XV) in its report for the period from 2021-22 to 2025-26 has recommended a total grant of Rs 4,27,911 crore to local governments.
The 19 states are Andhra Pradesh (Rs 488.1527 cr), Arunachal Pradesh (Rs 46.944 cr), Assam (Rs 272.2509 cr), Bihar (Rs 1116.3054 cr), Chhattisgarh (Rs 338.7944 cr), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 98.0099 cr), Jharkhand (Rs 444.3983 cr), Karnataka (Rs 551.53), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 922.7992), Maharashtra (Rs 778.0069 cr), Manipur (Rs 42.8771), Mizoram (Rs 31.19 cr), Odisha (Rs 461.7673 cr), Punjab (Rs 399.6558 cr), Rajasthan (Rs 656.171 cr), Sikkim (Rs 20.978 cr), Tamil Nadu (Rs 805.928 cr), Uttarakhand (Rs 150.0965 cr), and West Bengal (Rs 828.0694 cr).
“The grants recommended by the Commission inter-alia include health grants of Rs 70,051 crore. Out of this amount, Rs 43,928 crore have been recommended for Rural Local Bodies and Rs 26,123 crore for Urban Local Bodies,” said the Finance Ministry.
The Commission has also identified interventions that will directly lead to strengthening the primary health infrastructure and facilities in both rural and urban areas and has earmarked grants for each intervention.
The ministry earmarked grants of Rs 16,377 crore for support for diagnostic infrastructure to the primary healthcare facilities in rural areas, Rs 5,279 crore for block-level public health units in rural areas, Rs 7,167 crore for the construction of buildings of building-less Sub centres, PHCs, CHCs in rural areas and Rs 15,105 crore for the conversion of rural PHCs and sub-centres into health and wellness centre.
Also, Rs 2,095 crore has been granted for the support for diagnostic infrastructure to the primary healthcare facilities in urban areas and Rs 24,028 crore urban health and wellness centres (HWCs).
“Health grants recommended to be released in the financial year 2021-22 is Rs 13,192 crore of which Rs 8,273 crore is for rural and Rs 4,919 crore is for urban local bodies,” the Ministry said.
It also said that the rural and urban local bodies can play a key role in the delivery of primary health care services especially at the ‘cutting edge’ level and help in achieving the objective of Universal Health Care.
“Strengthening the local governments in terms of resources, health infrastructure and capacity building can enable them to play a catalytic role in epidemics and pandemics too,” the ministry added.
It further said that involving Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local government as supervising agencies in these primary health care institutions would strengthen the overall primary health care system and involvement of local governments would also make the health system accountable to the people.
The ministry further added that the health grants to the remaining nine states will be released after their proposals are received from the respective states through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

PC to Women Officers

New Delhi [India]: After the Supreme Court cautioned the Indian Army of contempt, the Centre on Friday assured that it will roll out Permanent Commission option to all eligible Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCO) in the Army.
The Centre told the bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that a swift decision would be made within ten days with regard to eleven women army officers, who have approached the top court, to grant Permanent Commission (PC). As the apex court warned that it was going to initiate contempt proceedings against the Indian Army for failing to grant PC to eleven women officers in line with its previous orders, the Centre submitted that it was ready to grant Permanent Commission to the officers before the Court.
The Bench in its order noted that Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said that those officers whose case is not before the court in contempt proceedings but meets criteria laid in its previous judgment, will be granted a permanent commission and necessary orders in this regard will be passed within three weeks from today.
The ASG clarified that not just the eleven Women Short Service Commission (WSSCO) Officers who have moved the court in contempt as a part of 72 officers and who were not granted PC till date, but even those officers who are not before the court but are meeting the criteria will be granted PC, subject to their willingness.
During the hearing, the apex court said that it appeared that the directions of the court are not complied with, and warned that it will hold the Army and the Defence Ministry in contempt.
Justice Chandrachud cautioned ASG Jain, “We will hold the Army guilty of Contempt. I am putting you on guard.”
The top court said, “Army may be supreme in its own authority but the Constitutional court of the country is supreme in its own jurisdiction.”
72 Women Short Service Commission Officers, who were denied Permanent Commission, had moved to the apex court seeking Permanent Commission in August 2021 seeking contempt proceedings against the Ministry of Defence for not complying with the Court’s March 2021 judgment in which the Indian Army was directed to “positively grant permanent commission to all Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCO) who fulfilled the prescribed criteria”.
On October 22, the apex court had directed the Centre to issue orders granting PC to 39 WSSCO Officers in the Army in seven working days. It had also asked the Centre to furnish the details of 25 officers with reasons, who were not considered for a Permanent Commission.
The Centre had told the top court that they have re-examined the case of 72 women SSC officers in compliance with the earlier order of this court and has found 38 officers eligible for grant of PC and a case of one officer is pending consideration, which in all probability will be considered for PC.
Before that, the Bench had asked the Centre to file an affidavit explaining why 72 women SSC officers have been rejected from the grant of a Permanent Commission.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by the women officers who alleged that the apex court’s March 25 order was not considered and all 72 of them were rejected from consideration for the Permanent Commission at one go.
In its March 25 order, the top court had directed the Army to consider granting Permanent Commission to the women Short Sevice Commission Officers subject to their obtaining 60 per cent marks in the assessment subjects, being found fit on medical criteria as per the August 1, 2020 order of the Army and having received disciplinary and vigilance clearances.
On March 25, the apex court had said that the evaluation criteria set by the Army for granting permanent commission to women serving Short Service Commission officers constituted “systemic discrimination” which has caused an “economic and psychological harm” and an “affront to their dignity”.
On February 17 last year, in a landmark verdict, the apex court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission. It had rejected the Centre’s stand of their physiological limitations as being based on “sex stereotypes” and “gender discrimination against women”.
The apex court had directed that within three months, all serving SSC women officers have to be considered for Permanent Commission irrespective of them having crossed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service.

75 nutrition smart villages will strengthen India’s campaign against malnutrition, says Centre

New Delhi [India]: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday announced the “Nutrition Smart Village” programme to reach out to 75 villages across India with the objective of promoting nutritional awareness, education and behavioural change in rural areas.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the objectives of the initiative are promoting nutritional awareness, education and behavioural change in rural areas involving farm women and school children, harnessing traditional knowledge through the local recipe to overcome malnutrition and implementing nutrition-sensitive agriculture through homestead agriculture and Nutri-garden. The objectives of the programme would be achieved through the network of All India Coordinated Research Project on Women in Agriculture (AICRP-WIA) which is in operation at 13 centres in 12 States of India besides the coordinating institute located at Bhubaneswar.
“The initiative has been undertaken in line with the Prime Minister’s call to all the academicians, agricultural scientists and all the institutions to adopt and transform 75 villages. Under the initiative, a total of 75 villages will be adopted by AICRP centres and ICAR-CIWA, for which the AICRP centres will adopt 5 villages each with the remaining to be adopted by ICAR-CIWA with an aim to develop 75 Nutri-Smart villages,” the statement said.
“To achieve the goal of Malnutrition free villages, intensive awareness campaigns and field activities will be undertaken for focusing on the concept of Nutri-village/ Nutri-food/ Nutri-diet/ Nutri-thali etc. for strengthening the Poshan Abhiyan. Awareness among the women farmers will also be created about their legal rights in all walks of life. The products/ tools/ technologies developed by AICRP centres will be evaluated through multi-location trials,” it added.

Centre approves declaration of Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas’

New Delhi [India], November 10 (ANI): Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the declaration of November 15, the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas’.
“Week-long celebrations planned from November 15 to 22 to celebrate and commemorate the glorious history of tribal people, culture and achievements,” Union Minister Anurag Thakur said briefing media about the Cabinet decision. Birsa Munda, who belonged to the Munda tribe, was born on November 15 in 1875. During the British rule in the late 19th century, he spearheaded an Indian tribal religious Millenarian movement across the tribal belt of modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand.
His birth anniversary is celebrated as Birsa Munda Jayanti in the country and coincides with the Jharkhand Foundation Day.

“Purchased Rafale jets at best prices”

New Delhi [India]: Responding to the claims made by a French portal that Rafale jets makers paid 7.5 million Euros to middlemen between 2007 and 2012, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not know about the bribe amount.
“We (BJP) don’t know about the bribe amount given between 2007 and 2012. We just bargained a lot and purchased Rafale jets at the best prices to support our air force,” Joshi told ANI when asked about the allegations by Congress against BJP that the ruling party is running ‘operation’ clean up in Rafale jets matter. Congress and BJP have levelled allegations against each other over the Rafale deal.
Hitting out at the Centre over the new media reports on the Rafale deal, Congress on Tuesday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is running away from Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter.
Congress General Secretary Organisation KC Venugopal said the government should institute a JPC probe into the deal.
Reacting to the report on a French news portal, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said that Sushen Gupta, who received alleged payoffs, was appointed by the Dassault Aviation in 2000 when the BJP-led government was in power.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra on Tuesday alleged corruption by the Congress party in the Rafale deal between 2007 to 2012 and termed the party as “I Need Commission (INC)”.
“We all saw the way the opposition parties, especially the Congress party, tried to create a false atmosphere regarding Rafale before the 2019 elections. They felt that this would give him some political advantage,” Patra said.

Over 116.58 cr COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to States, UTs so far, says Centre

New Delhi [India]: More than 116.58 crore (1,16,58,27,955) COVID-19 vaccine doses have been provided to States and Union Territories so far through the Centre and direct state procurement category, the Union health ministry said on Saturday.
More than 15.77 (15,77,70,771) crore balance and unutilised vaccine doses are still available with the States and UTs to be administered, it said. The Union government is committed to accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of COVID-19 vaccination throughout the country, it added.
As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Government of India has been supporting the States and UTs by providing them COVID Vaccines free of cost. In the new phase of the universalisation of the COVID19 vaccination drive, the Union Government will procure and supply (free of cost) 75% of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to States and UTs, the ministry said.
The new phase of universalisation of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on June 21, 2021. The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advanced visibility of vaccine availability to States and UTs for enabling better planning by them, and streamlining the vaccine supply chain, the ministry added.

Centre should release GST compensation so that state govts can reduce VAT on fuel: Sharad Pawar

Pune (Maharashtra) [India] : After the Central government reduced the excise duty on petrol and diesel, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday demanded the release of GST compensation to the states so that state governments can reduce value-added tax (VAT) on fuel.
Speaking to reporters here today, Pawar said, “If the Centre disburses the GST compensation to all the states, then it is possible for the state governments to reduce the VAT on petrol and diesel and implement other welfare schemes.” Pawar’s remarks came after the Finance Ministry on Wednesday announced a Rs 5 per litre cut in excise duty on petrol and a Rs 10 per litre cut in excise duty on diesel. Amid record-high fuel prices, this is the first cut in central excise duties in over three years.
The NCP chief also confirmed that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s driver and other staff have been tested positive for COVID-19.
“As a precautionary step, the doctors have asked Ajit Pawar to remain in home isolation for a few days,” he added.

Centre reduces excise duty on petrol by Rs 5, on diesel by Rs 10

New Delhi [India]: In a relief to consumers on the eve of Diwali, the central government on Wednesday announced a reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel.
The excise duty on petrol will be reduced by Rs 5 and that on diesel by Rs 10 and new rates will come into effect from tomorrow. Government sources said that the reduction in excise duty on diesel will be double that of petrol and will come as a boost to the farmers during the upcoming Rabi season.
They said that states have also been urged to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel to give relief to consumers

Preamble wall in all government offices

New Delhi [India]: Amid the ongoing ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ event being organised across the country as India celebrates the 75th year of independence, the Centre has directed all the ministries and departments to “put up a preamble wall” in their office premises and submit their action taken report in e-Samiksha portal.
The e- Samiksha portal is directly monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cabinet Secretariat to get inputs about the progress of schemes and projects in all ministries. All the ministries and departments have been requested for online updation of the Action Taken Report (ATR) in the category of Group of Officers (Other Action Points) in the e-Samiksha Portal. The coordination division in all the ministries and departments have been requested to furnish the ATR on the subject “all ministries/ departments to put up a preamble wall in their office premises”.
The e-Samiksha is a real-time online system for monitoring projects by the Prime Minister and follow-up action is to be updated by the concerned ministry as and when the status changes or at least every month the PM monitors this on his iPad. E-Samiksha play a key role in measuring performance in government.
Referring to the order which was issued earlier and was again reissued recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to “put up a preamble wall” in their office premises and submit their action taken report to the ministry by this evening.
The MHA, in its order on October 28, has directed Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG) and Assam Rifles to “furnish the action taken report” in respect of their organisation to it through e-mail.
MHA’s Police II division issued the order referring to the subject.
However, the order does not mention any specific criteria of preamble wall, all the CAPFs are engaged in the process to fulfil the direction on time.
The then Minister Prakash Javadekar on November 26, 2020, had inaugurated the preamble wall at the premises of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on the occasion of Constitution Day. The same year, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, as well as the Department of Personnel and Training, also unveiled. Similarly, some other ministries and departments also unveiled preamble walls in their office premises as per the Centre’s order.
The preamble mentions “we, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and or opportunity, and to promote among them all; fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation”
“In our constituent assembly this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this constitution,” mentions the preamble.
The order was again sent to all the ministries and departments as we celebrate Constitution Day, also known as National Law Day, in India on November 26 every year to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India, as well as the same time we are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav– an initiative of the Central government to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India this far in its evolutionary journey but also hold within them the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Modi’s vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political and economic identity. The official journey of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” commenced on March 12 this year which started a 75-week countdown to India’s 75th anniversary of independence and will end post a year on August 15, 2023.

Morcha urges Centre for fertilisers

New Delhi [India]: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) urged the centre on Sunday to ensure the smooth supply of fertilisers in the country and control their price rise and black-marketing.
SKM made these remarks after the death of 4 farmers who allegedly fell ill and died while waiting in the queue for purchasing fertilizers or died by suicide due to not being able to get fertilisers for their crops. The Bundelkhand region is facing agricultural fertilizer scarcity. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had also asserted on Sunday that there is no shortage of Diammonium phosphate (DAP) and other fertilisers in Uttar Pradesh.
The farm union collective also said in its press release that a passage for movement of two wheleers and ambulances has been made at the Tikri Border, in addition to the traffic passage allowed by the protesting farmers over the past few months.
Delhi Police on Thursday night started removing barricades placed at the Tikri and Ghazipur borders where farmers were protesting against the Centre’s three farm laws. The stretch was shut for over 11 months ever since the farmers’ agitation started and commuters have been citing inconvenience during their travelling.
According to the release, the collective also paid its tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his birth anniversary and the socialist thinker Acharya Narendra Dev. The release noted Patel’s contributions in the Kheda farmer struggle (1918) and Bardoli farmers satyagraha.
“SKM notes that in the investigation related to Lakhimpur Kheri farmers’ massacre, the SIT is reporting that 75 statements have been recorded so far, and 60 eyewitnesses have been provided with security so far, with 16 more likely to get the same. SKM invites local farmers to take the help of the 7-member advocates’ team put together for legal aid, so that justice can be secured. SKM continues to demand the arrest and sacking of Ajay Mishra Teni who continues to function as a Minister of State for Home affairs. Today, in Odisha, Ajay Mishra Teni’s convoy faced a local protest,” added the SKM in their release.
SKM also said that a joint Mahapanchayat by youth, students, farmers and labourers at Khatkar Toll Plaza, Jind, Harayana saw a huge turnout on Sunday. “Many youths participated and several SKM leaders also were the main speakers in this Mahapanchayat,” SKM further said about the event.
“Shaheed Kisan Asthi Kalash Yatras are continuing in different places as planned earlier, one such yatra is going through Etawah in UP, while three other yatras are going through Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra,” added SKM.
The SKM has also called upon farmers in all the adjoining states of Delhi to come in large numbers to strengthen all the morchas.
Farmers have been protesting at different sites since November 26 last year against the three enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Rahul slams Centre

Panaji (Goa) [India]: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who was on a day-long visit to poll-bound Goa on Saturday alleged the BJP-led government in Centre is “attacking” small and medium businesses and empowering ‘richest’ businessmen.
“The government of India is handing over the country to a few limited businessmen. Their plan is to attack small and medium businesses and to empower the richest and powerful sectors,” he said. He claimed that the “lives of millions of people is being destroyed systematically”.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi promise of ‘achhe din’ (good days), Gandhi said, “The PM said ‘achhe din’ will come if BJP comes to power, but he did not tell you whose ‘acche din’ will come.”
“If you would have asked who he is talking about, he would have replied he is talking about Adani and Ambani,” he said.
“If airports, ports and coal hubs belong to Adani then what Goans are going to get?” Gandhi asked further.
Slamming the Centre over unemployment in the country, the Congress leader said “when youths are unemployed today, and BJP leaders only give long speeches.”
“Today I asked Chidambaram Ji about the ways to provide sustainable jobs to Goa. He said that by making Goa an educational hub, health care hub, tourism hub, Goa’s youth can be offered jobs,” Gandhi added.
He recalled that under the UPA regime, Congress brought Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005. “PM Modi called it worst scheme. However, the Centre still uses the scheme.”
“This time, I’ve told Chidambaram that the Congress party should work on the basis of what is in the heart of our workers. There are two fights – one at the national level and the other is the fight of Goa which you know better than me,” he stated.
The Congress leader also congratulated every party worker for fighting against the ideology of BJP and fighting for public issues. “I want to promise Congress workers and people of Goa that defectors won’t get any space in the party,” he added.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is also in Goa and interacted with party workers and the fishermen community here on Friday.
Assembly polls in Goa are scheduled to be held early next year.
Goa Assembly has a strength of 40 members out of which BJP currently has 17 legislators and enjoys the support of legislators from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three independents. GFP and MGP each have three MLAs.
Congress, on the other hand, has 15 MLAs in the house.

Centre to launch ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination

New Delhi [India]: Centre will soon start a mega COVID-19 vaccination campaign ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ in poor-performing districts aiming to achieve full vaccination by the end of November, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday.
“We are going to launch a mega vaccination campaign ‘Har Ghar Dastak’. We have decided that for the next one month, healthcare workers will go door-to-door to vaccinate people eligible for the second dose and also those who have not taken the first dose,” the minister told media persons. Mandaviya on Wednesday chaired a national review meeting with health ministers of states and UTs to discuss the scaling up of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country.
According to the minister, 77 per cent of the eligible population in India has been vaccinated against COVID with the first dose while 32 per cent people have received both doses. “More than 10 crores people have not taken the second dose of vaccine. People who are eligible for the second dose should take the vaccine,” he added.
Highlighting the need to accelerate the pace and coverage of vaccination, he stated that there are more than 10.34 crore people in the country who have not taken the second dose after the prescribed interval.
Speaking to ANI, Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo raised concerns about the number of people who have dropped out of taking the second dose of the COVID vaccine. “A cause of worry is that a huge number of people have dropped out from taking the second dose of COVID vaccine. Wherever there is vaccine hesitancy, we should reach out to people through social, religious, and other organisations,” Deo said.
He added, “Wherever there is a deficiency, there is always scope for trying to do better.” Deo also said that vaccination hesitancy has not been witnessed in Chhattisgarh.
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh told ANI that 67 per cent of the eligible population in the state have taken the first dose while the second dose has been administered to about 21 per cent of people. “We will fully vaccinate people with the first dose while for the second dose we will try our best with the solutions given by the Union Health Minister,” he added.
Uttarakhand Health Minister Dhan Singh Rawat after the meeting told ANI that people in the state have been fully vaccinated with the first dose while more than 50 per cent have been administered the second dose.
The Union Health Minister also stated that adequate vaccine doses were available in the country, and more than 12 crore balance unutilised doses are available with the States for administering. “No district should be without full vaccination”, he exhorted the States. He further added- “Let us aim to cover all eligible with 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine by end-November 2021.”
During the meeting, the state health ministers were requested to ensure continuous oversight on the progress of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. Mandaviya urged the State and UTs to make regional and local level plans with all the stakeholders to reduce the number of people with vaccination overdue. He also urged for innovative strategies to encourage them to achieve their targets to review the planning and execution of district-wise plans for coverage of due beneficiaries of the second dose as available on the Co-WIN portal.
Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar was also present during the national review meeting. State Health Ministers Alo Libang (Arunachal Pradesh), Keshab Mahanta (Assam), Mangal Pandey (Bihar), T S Singhdeo (Chhattisgarh), Satyendra Jain (Delhi) Rushikesh Patel (Gujarat), Dr Narrotam Mishra (Home Minister Madhya Pradesh), Dr Mani Kumar Sharma (Sikkim), M A Subramanian (Tamil Nadu), Jai Pratap Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Dhan Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), Dr Subhash Garg (Rajasthan), Banna Gupta (Jharkhand) participated in the review meeting. State officials along with Mission Directors (NHM) from various states were also present.
Mandaviya highlighted the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi guiding the recently launched PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-BHIM). “COVID has given us the opportunity to analyse the gaps in our existing health infrastructure. We have also learned that in a federal democracy, the Centre and States working in a synchronized collaborative mode can achieve significant milestones”. He informed that with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore, PM-AB HIM, announced in the Budget 2021-22, is the largest pan-India Health Infrastructure Scheme and would provide a much-needed fillip to India’s capacity to address emergent Public Health issues.
This will give a major boost to India’s healthcare infrastructure and make it more resilient, he added. He urged the States to make strategies for timely utilization of the allocated funds under the new Mission. Mandaviya also requested State Health Ministers to ensure that plans and implementation schedules for the ECRP-II are reviewed for timely completion of the proposed initiatives and schemes.
Speaking about India’s philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Dr. Mandaviya said that India’s pharma sector is fulfilling this philosophy by catering to people with new cost-effective treatments and vaccines. “India supplied essential drugs to the world during first wave of COVID. The world reciprocated and helped India during the second wave”, he stated. Praising the efforts of Indian scientists and researchers, he said that there is no dearth of brain and manpower in India. “India is rightly called ‘pharmacy of the world’ due to its quality drugs. It is a matter of immense pride for India that we have manufactured the COVID vaccine and also administered 100 Cr doses in a short span since 16th Jan 2021”, he stated.
The Union Health Minister further exhorted the State Health Ministers to ensure that the country’s goals for TB elimination, AIDS control and treatment, and other non-COVID schemes are kept in sharp focus.
Dr Mandaviya assured the Health Ministers that the Centre will extend all support and assistance to the States/UTs in matters of health. “In a federal democracy, the Centre and States form a collaborative platform. We should work as a team for ensuring Swastha Bharat, Samruddh Bharat”, he said.
The State Health Ministers heartily thanked the Union Health Minister for this interactive meeting which gave them the opportunity to discuss various issues at a personal level. As desired and assured by Mandaviya, an interactive group with State Health Ministers has been created on WhatsApp to facilitate real-time interaction with the Union Health Minister.

Like Punjab, Bengal also protesting against Centre’s move to increase BSF jurisdiction in border states, says Mamata Banerjee

Siliguri (West Bengal) [India]: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that like Punjab, they are also protesting against the Centre’s decision to increase search and arrest jurisdiction of BSF in border states.
She said law and order is a state subject and West Bengal’s borders with Bangladesh were completely peaceful. The Chief Minister also said her government will go by the “state laws”.
“Just like Punjab, we’re also protesting against BSF’s jurisdiction that has been recently increased. Our border areas are completely peaceful. Law and order is a police subject. It’ll create disturbance. State govt will go with state laws,” she said.
Mamata Banerjee made the remarks after holding meetings with the Jalpaiguri and Alirajpur district administration officers in Siliguri.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi held an all-party meeting on Monday to discuss the Centre’s move to increase jurisdiction of BSF.
The Centre had earlier this month empowered the Border Security Force (BSF) to conduct searches, arrest suspects and make seizures up to an area of 50 km inside Indian territory from the International Border (IB) along India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders.
The BSF, which was only empowered to take action up to fifteen kilometers in the states of Punjab, West Bengal, and Assam, has now been authorised to extend its jurisdiction up to 50 km without any hurdle or permission either from central or state governments.
However, its jurisdiction has been cut short by 20 km in the five northeastern states– Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya– where it had jurisdiction up to 80 km. Similarly in Gujarat, the BSF’s jurisdiction has been curtailed from 80 to 50 km. In Rajasthan, the BSF’s area of jurisdiction will remain the same at 50 km.

Expanding irrigation projects in J-K

Kathua (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje on Monday visited Jammu and Kashmir and highlighted that the Central government is planning to expand irrigation projects in the Union Territory.
Speaking briefly to reporters, Karandlaje said, “In coming days, Jammu and Kashmir will be self-sufficient in pulses, vegetables and cereals. We are also expanding our irrigation projects. A dam is being constructed which will provide irrigation water to one lakh acres of land in Kathua and Samba districts.” The MoS is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, that is, from October 18 to 19. During her visit to the union territory yesterday, Karandlaje inaugurated various public outreach programmes.
In a tweet, she wrote, “On my two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, visited Dayala Chack in Hiranagar of Kathua District. Inaugurated public outreach program in the Shivalik Resort and held interaction with the public. Our government is committed to bringing prosperity to the region.”
Later, she visited the statue of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Mukherjee Chowk, Kathua. “Privileged to garland the statue of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Mukherjee Chowk, Kathua. He laid his life for the complete unification of Jammu and Kashmir, breathed his last here in pursuit of his dream of ‘Ek Vidhan-Ek Samvidhan.’ PM @narendramodi realised the same. #SKinJnK,” she tweeted.
Further, Karandlaje interacted with the farmers of the Kathua District in Hiranagar and distributed tractors to the beneficiaries of the centrally sponsored scheme.
“As part of the outreach program; interacted with the farmers of the Kathua District in Hiranagar. Also distributed tractors to the beneficiaries of the centrally sponsored scheme. The abrogation of Article 370 is a boon to the region, development has speeded up! #SKinJnK,” she tweeted.
She also presided over the public outreach programme in the presence of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and officials of Kathua’s district administration. “The government led by PM Narendra Modi is taking several steps to bring the region closer to India’s national capital,” she said.
The minister later distributed maize and paddy threshers, sanction letters to the beneficiaries of various centrally sponsored schemes.

“Centre should provide MSP”

Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan) [India]: Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday said that if the Centre would provide a Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee through a law, they can resolve the farmers’ agitation against the farm laws.
Pointing out that the agitating farmer would not compromise on less than the MSP guarantee law, Malik said that it is the only thing that farmers need. “If the government (Centre) provide MSP guarantee through a law then it can be resolved (farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws). There is only one thing so why are you (Centre) not fulfilling it? They (farmers) will not compromise on less than MSP,” he said.
Farmers have been protesting nationwide since November 26 last year against the three newly-enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Owaisi blames Centre over coal crisis

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] : AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday slammed the Centre over the reports of the coal shortage in the country and said that the country has to suffer due to lack of planning by the Centre.
Owaisi stated , “It is a fact that out of 135 coal plants, 108 have critically low stocks of coal. Andhra Pradesh is facing load shedding. What is the reason behind it? You (Centre) do not plan anything or anticipate anything.” “If the Centre would have planned the vaccination drive properly after the first wave of COVID-19, India would not have witnessed lakhs of death during the second wave of the pandemic,” he said.
“You (Centre) did not have far-sightedness. When the economy will reopen after the second wave-induced lockdown, the demand for power will eventually go up. You did not notice it. The country has to suffer every time because of your non-planning,” he added.
Amid growing concerns of depleting coal stock in the country, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a high-level meeting with Power Minister RK Singh, Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi along with top officials of both the ministries in the North Block on Monday.
The meeting also saw the presence of top officials of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said many Chief Ministers have written to the Central government about the critical situation at power plants due to a coal shortage.
The Chief Ministers of Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Andhra Pradesh have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to increase the supply of coal and gas to power plants supplying electricity in their respective states.

No supply of coal was ever stopped

New Delhi [India] : The Central Government is likely to ramp up per day coal production from 1.94 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes in the next 5 days, informed government sources on Tuesday.
According to Government sources, no supply of coal was ever stopped to any State despite huge dues.

Sources further stated that the Centre is fulfilling all the demands required by the States. Coal stocks have started increasing in the last four days.
The situation will be normal within a month. There is no shortage in daily power and coal supply, they added.

Odisha partnering with Centre for AMRUT, SBM

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India]: Welcoming Central government’s Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) 2.0 and Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM) 2.0, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday said that the state would be partnering with the government of India in implementation of these flagship missions.
“I thank the Hon’ble PM for giving me this opportunity to share our experiences; Odisha will partner with the central government in the successful implementation of these flagship missions and work towards improving the liveability standards for our urban population,” Patnaik said. Underlining the wellbeing of citizens, Patnaik said that providing a safe and clean tap water supply to every household of every city in Odisha and achieving garbage-free clean cities in a time-bound manner is the state government’s top priority.
Mentioning the implementation of the AMRUT mission, launched in 2015, in Odisha, Patnaik said, “It (AMRUT 2015) has brought substantial improvements in the urban water supply sector and septage management across nine major towns of the state.”
Odisha has implemented water supply and septage projects with an investment of Rs 1600 crore.
“With the successful implementation of the projects and urban reform measures under AMRUT, Odisha has been securing first position in the country consecutively for the last three years,” the Chief Minister said.
Further, Patnaik informed that the state, to ensure tap water supply to all households in 114 cities, over and above the coverage of AMRUT mission, had initiated the BASUDHA initiative.
“I am glad to share that so far 27 cities out of 114 cities achieved 100 per cent house connections, including Bhubaneswar city which has become the first and only million-plus city so far to achieve this status,” he said.
The Chief Minister told that the state aims to achieve a target of 100 per cent house connections in all cities by December 2022.
“In this ambitious journey, Jal Sathis, who are the Mission Sakthi members, are our community partners in managing the water supply distribution and consumer relationship,” he said.
Taking of Odisha’s Drink from Tap mission under the 5T initiative, Patnaik said, “Under this Mission 24×7 water supply of directly drinkable from tap, meeting IS 10500 quality standards is being provided to all households of Jagannatha Dham at Puri.”
“Puri city has become the first city in the country to achieve this unique distinction of joining the league of international cities like London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) 2.0 and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) 2.0 at Dr Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi.
Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0 have been designed to realise the aspiration to make all our cities ‘Garbage Free’ and ‘Water Secure’.

Employment in 9 select sectors stood at 3.08 cr in Q1 of FY22: Centre

New Delhi [India]: Employment in nine select sectors, including construction, manufacturing and IT/BPO, stood at 3.08 crore in the April-June quarter, as per a report by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Union Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav on Monday released the report of the first quarter of the Quarterly Employment Survey for April to June 2021. The AQEES has been taken up by the Labour Bureau to provide frequent (quarterly) updates about the employment and related variables of establishments, in both organised and unorganised segments of nine selected sectors. These sectors altogether account for a majority of the total employment in the non-farm establishments. These nine selected sectors are Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation and Restaurant, IT/ BPO and Financial Services, read the release by Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Announcing the results, Yadav said, the estimated total employment in the nine selected sectors from the first round of QES is three crores and 8 lakhs approximately against a total of 2.37 crores in these sectors taken collectively, as reported in the Sixth Economic Census (2013-14) reflecting a growth rate of 29 per cent.
“Of the total employment estimated in the selected nine sectors, Manufacturing accounts for nearly 41 per cent followed by Education with 22 per cent, and Health 8 per cent. Trade as well as and IT/BPO each engaged 7 per cent of the total estimated number of workers,” the Union Minister further informed.
Yadav mentioned that data on all aspects of labour is crucial. “Evidence-based policymaking and statistics based execution is the major focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, emphasised the Labour Minister saying that such scientifically collected data with purity and integrity that can be cross-examined will be immensely beneficial towards achieving targeted and last-mile delivery of government programmes and schemes.

Young doctors are not football: SC

New Delhi [India] : The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Central government, National Board of Examination (NBE), and National Medical Commission (NMC) for making last-minute changes in the exam pattern of post-graduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Super Specialty (PG NEET-SS) 2021.
“Young doctors cannot be at the mercy of the insensitive bureaucrats and cannot be treated like a football”, said a Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice BV Nagarathna. The Bench took into note that the new syllabus looks more like the final exam and less like an entrance examination.
Post-graduate doctors had approached the apex court alleging the last-minute change in exam pattern for NEET-SS 2021.
The notification for the examination was issued on July 23 2021, however, on August 31 another notification was issued changing the pattern of the exam when only two months remained before NEET-SS 2021 exams scheduled to be held on November 13 and 14.
“Just because you have the power you are wielding power like this. Please speak to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to look at this. Don’t treat these young doctors as football in this game of power,” the Bench told counsels appearing for the government, National Board of Examinations (NBE) and NMC (National Medical Commission).
“Hold a meeting of all three agencies and set your house in order. We cannot let the young doctors be at the mercy of the insensitive bureaucrats,” the top court added.
While taking into consideration that the exam syllabus was changed after notification of the exam, the Bench told them, “We are now dealing with young doctors who will appear for super speciality exams. You notify the exams on July 23 and you change the syllabus by August 31. How can you do this? Why cannot it be made from next year? Students prepare for months for such exams. We will hear you but we are dissatisfied with the authorities.”
Senior advocate Maninder Singh appeared for NBE said, “It’s a well-considered decision that was going on for some time, final approval was awaited and as soon we got the approval it was notified.”
The petition filed by 41 qualified post-graduate doctors from across the country who aspire to become super-specialists by cracking NEET-SS 2021, sought direction for striking down the changes in the exam pattern.
The plea challenged the move of the government on the ground of lack of authority as well as being manifestly arbitrary.
The plea alleged that the exam pattern for the NEET-SS course has been altered only to favour those who have done post-graduation in general medicine at the cost of other disciplines.
The plea said that as per the prevailing pattern which has been in existence from 2018 to 2020, 60 per cent marks were allotted from questions in the super speciality while 40 per cent distributed for questions from feeder courses.
However, as per the new pattern, the entirety of questions for the critical care super speciality will be drawn from generic medicines, it added.
“This leaves students from other disciplines at a great disadvantage and the authority should not have brought these changes after the exam notification was issued, and after the students had begun their preparations, doctors have contended,” stated the petition.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the doctors had contended that it is a well-settled principle that the rules of the game cannot be changed after it has started.
“They have all along been preparing in terms of the pattern that has been in place for the last three years, especially because on earlier occasions — 2018 and 2019 when changes in the pattern/scheme were proposed to be made, the changed pattern/scheme was made public almost six months prior to the NEET-SS exams to ensure availability of ample time to the students for making preparations,” the plea further stated.
On the last date of hearing, the apex court had issued notices to the Centre, NBE and NBC over the doctors’ plea.
Today, the Bench posted the matter for hearing next Monday and granted time to the government, NBE and NBC to file their response.

Centre notifies scheme for promotion of ‘Medical Device Parks’, a key initiative to support medical devices

New Delhi [India]: In a bold move that would make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’, the Centre has taken a key initiative to support the medical devices industry to reach its potential in the coming years under the “Promotion of Medical Device Parks” scheme.
As per the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the objectives for the promotion of Medical device parks include easy access to standard testing and infrastructure facilities through the creation of world-class common infrastructure facilities for increased competitiveness that will result in a significant reduction of the cost of production of medical devices leading to better availability and affordability of medical devices in the domestic market and reaping the benefits arising due to optimization of resources and economies of scale. The ministry said that the Government of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have been given “in-principle” approval under the scheme.”
The total financial outlay of the scheme is Rs 400 crore and the tenure of the scheme is from FY 2020-2021 to FY 2024-2025, stated the ministry.
It further said that the financial assistance to a selected Medical Device Park would be 70 per cent of the project cost of common infrastructure facilities. In the case of the North-Eastern States and the Hilly States, financial assistance would be 90 per cent of the project cost. Maximum assistance under the scheme for one Medical Device Park would be limited to Rs 100 crores.
The Medical Devices Parks to be developed under the scheme will provide common infrastructure facilities at one place thereby creating a robust ecosystem for the medical device manufacturing in the country and also reducing the manufacturing cost significantly.
16 States and Union Territories were received under the scheme. The selection of the states and union territories (UTs) is based on the challenge method, which is reflected in the evaluation criteria of the scheme.

Exclusion of any caste other than SC/ST from 2021 Census, a conscious policy decision, says Centre to Supeme Court

New Delhi [India], September 23 (ANI): The Centre has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and said the exclusion of any caste other than Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe from the purview of the upcoming 2021 Census is a “conscious policy decision” taken by Central government.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that the census of backward classes is “administratively difficult” and will suffer both on account of completeness and accuracy. The affidavit of the Central government was filed on a plea of the Maharashtra government asking to share census data of OBCs collected by the Centre in 2011-2013.
The state government has sought directions to the Centre to disclose the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011, raw caste data of Other Backward Classes and to gather data of socio-economic to the extent relating to the caste of citizens of rural India in its 2020 Census.
The Centre in the affidavit said that in such a situation any direction from Court to census department to include enumeration of Socio-Economic data to the extent relating to Backward Class Of Citizens of rural India in upcoming census 2021 as sought by the State of Maharashtra would “tantamount to interfering with a policy decision”.
It said that on January 7, 2020, the Central government had issued a notification prescribing a series of information to be collected during Census 2021 and it includes information relating to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe, it does not refer to any other caste.
The Centre added that the inaccuracy of the data is evident from the infirmities of the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 data making it unusable for any official purpose and can therefore not be mentioned as a source of information for the population data in any official document.
A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar on Thursday adjourned the matter till October 26, 2021.
The plea of Maharashtra government has sought directions to the Centre to disclose the SECC- 2011 raw caste data of Other Backward Classes, and in case they are unwilling or not in a position to do the same, permit the state to collect such empirical data regarding OBCs within the state.

SC slams Centre on Appointments

The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticised the Central government for “cherry-picking” in choosing persons for appointment as tribunal members from the names recommended by selection panels headed by sitting Supreme Court Judges.

New Delhi [India], September 15 : A special bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao expressed unhappiness with the government for the manner in which the recent appointments were made in the Tribunals. The Centre has “cherry-picked” few names from the selection list prepared by the Search cum Selection Committee and picked up some names from the waiting list while ignoring the names in the selection list, the Bench told Attorney General KK Venugopal appearing for the Centre.
“We are very unhappy with the way in which things are going on and decisions are being taken,” the Bench said.
The apex court gave the last opportunity to the government to make good appointments within two weeks and give reasons for rejecting recommended names.
When Venugopal said the Centre has a right to reject recommended names, the Bench replied, “What is the sanctity of process if the government has the last word? Selection committee undertakes an elaborate process to short-list the names.”
Venugopal then asked the Bench to give the Centre two weeks and “we will reconsider the non-acceptance list apart from candidates who have corruption charges.”
The Bench said it is distressing that names recommended by a selection panel, comprising two Supreme Court judges and two secretaries are being treated with disdain.
“I have seen the selection list of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The selection committee recommended 9 judicial members and 10 technical members. The appointment letters indicate cherry-picking of 3 names from the select list and others from the wait list, ignoring others in a select list. In service law, you can’t go to the waitlist ignoring the select list. What kind of appointment is this?” CJI Ramana told Venugopal while adding that the same problem was there with the names cleared by the Centre for Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
“We select people after conducting interviews and government says we can’t elect them… We travelled across the country. We spent a lot of time. During Covid, your government requested us to conduct interviews as early as possible. We wasted so much time,” CJI further said.
The Bench said it is holding hands on initiating contempt proceedings against the government and various officers responsible and gave the last opportunity to the government to come out with appointments and give reasons for rejecting recommended names.
Expressing unhappiness over the non-filing of vacancies, the top court further said the condition is pitiable and the litigants cannot be “left in the lurch”.
The top court was hearing petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Tribunal Reforms Act 2021 and the case relating to massive vacancies across the tribunals.
It also issued notice to the Centre on the plea moved by Congress leader and Member of Parliament Jairam Ramesh in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, which was recently passed during the Monsoon session of Parliament.
“The Tribunals Act which repeals the Tribunals Ordinance was made retrospectively effective from April 4, 2021, and enacted inter alia with the objective, “to abolish certain tribunals and authorities and to provide a mechanism for filing an appeal directly to the commercial court or the High Court” and also reduce the burden on public exchequer”, his plea said.
Yesterday, the Centre through an affidavit informed the top court that it has appointed 84 members to various tribunals since 2020 and there are no recommendations pending with it anymore.
The Centre said that it has acted upon all the names forwarded to it by the search cum selection committees. The affidavit stated that out of 84 appointments, 39 have been in the current month.
Recently, the top court had lashed out at the government for sitting over recommendations made more than a year ago. It had adversely commented on the new enacted Tribunal law and had observed that it is “very upset” by the government and censured it for re-enacting the very same provisions for the administration of tribunals that were struck down by the court in July.
It had observed that the court will have to consider staying the new law since it is a “replica” of the old law, which was held to be unconstitutional.
There are around 250 posts lying vacant in various key tribunals and appellate tribunals.

Raut questions Centre

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Maharashtra MP and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday asked the Centre how the Pegasus case could be a national security issue when journalists, officials and public representatives were kept under scrutiny.
“Through the Pegasus app, nationals journalists, defence officers, state leaders, Chief Ministers, MPs and people like us were under observation, then how will it be beneficial for the nation’s security?” Raut asked. “Lok Sabha and Rajya sabha could not make progress on the Pegasus issue during the monsoon session. If the Central government informs us about the national security, then the people will gain knowledge, If there is no discussion upon the topic then what national security are we talking about? We will again have a discussion on the same issue,” Raut said.
Amid the continuous ruckus created by the Opposition over the ‘Pegasus Project’ issue, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha faced repeated adjournments during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
After the rape cases from the state, Raut said, “Maharashtra has never made any compromise regarding the safety of women. This is the tradition of Maharashtra. Since the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, we have kept the respect and dignity of women, security of women in Maharashtra, and this Thackeray government is more sensitive in that it is known to all.”

Pegasus case: ‘Don’t Want To File An Affidavit’, Centre To SC

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court it doesn’t wish to file detailed affidavit on pleas seeking independent probe into Pegasus issue.

New Delhi, India, September 13 : Pegasus case hearing: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court it doesn’t wish to file detailed affidavit on pleas seeking independent probe into alleged Pegasus snooping row.

“This is in interest of nation and security of nation. Which software was used and which software not used cannot be on affidavit but it will be before the experts, stating such things have its own pitfalls and should not become a part of public discourse,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court as it resumed hearing on a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged snooping on certain people in India involving Israeli spyware Pegasus.

Chief Justice NV Ramana, who heads the three-judge bench hearing the case, pointed out that filing an affidavit was important as it would then be clear where the government stands over the issue.

“We are going back again and again, we are not interested to know what you are doing to protect interest of the country, etc. Your minister admitted that govt taken note of software being used. Appointing a committee or making inquiry is not the question here. if you file an affidavit then we know where you stand,” CJI Ramana said.

The Centre had earlier filed a limited affidavit in the apex court saying the pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations are based on “conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material”.

On August 17, the top court had issued notice to the Centre on the pleas, making it clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises national security.

In its short affidavit filed in the court earlier, the Centre had said the position on the issue has already been clarified in Parliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

DMK, allies to Protest Against Centre

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: To condemn the BJP-led Central government, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies have announced to hold black flag demonstrations across Tamil Nadu on September 20.
A statement issued by DMK and allies, including Congress, said that the decision was taken after a meeting of “Opposition parties under the leadership Congress president Sonia Gandhi.” It said the protest will be organised against the Centre over several issues including its “refusal to withdraw the three farm laws”, fuel price hike, economic slowdown, unemployment among others.
The statement said the protest demonstration would be held in front of the residences of party workers and leaders.

RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh to protest against Centre over inflation on September 9

New Delhi [India]: The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated trade union, on Tuesday announced that it will hold a nationwide protest on September 9 against the Central government over inflation.
The trade union also said that it will protest against the Centre at all the district headquarters of the country on November 2 over the monetisation of 70 Public Sector Units (PSUs). Speaking to reporters, BMS National General Secretary Vinay Kumar Sinha said, “Sinha said that due to the policies of the central and state governments, inflation is becoming uncontrolled and making people helpless to deal with it. The decisive people in power are making absurd decisions. Being a responsible labour organisation, it becomes the duty of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh to protest against the government by taking to the streets against their wrong policies.”
“The decision taken by the Central government to monetise 70 PSUs is not acceptable to BMS as a policy. Monetising government institutions to raise funds is just like running a household by selling sugarcane,” he said.
Sinha said that the government is taking decisions by relying on the advice of experts without looking into the ground reality.
“The government is taking decisions by relying on the advice of experts without looking into the ground reality, which the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh will not accept at all,” said Sinha.
“In protest against all the economic failures of the central government, many organizations including BMS will protest at their district headquarters across the country on November 2. At the same time, there will be agitation against the government on 9 September in protest against the rising inflation in the country,” added the BMS general secretary.

Rahul Gandhi slams Centre over ‘anti-agriculture laws’

New Delhi [India]: Amid the ongoing farmers’ protest, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday termed the new farm laws as “anti-agriculture laws” and accused the Centre of promoting capitalism, demanding the withdrawal of the laws.
“Will not let the fields become sand, will not let them gift it to their friends. Withdraw the anti-agriculture laws! #FarmersProtest,” said the Congress MP in a tweet today. Earlier, the Wayanad MP had attacked the Centre on several occasions for passing the new agri laws accusing the central government of “designing them to destroy the agriculture business” and “hand it over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s friends”.
While addressing an event in Wayanad in February this year, he had said, “The entire world can see the difficulty faced by Indian farmers, but the government in Delhi is unable to understand the pain of the farmers. We have pop stars who are commenting on the situation of the farmers but the Indian government is not interested. They are not going to take back these three new laws unless they are forced and there is a reason for it.”
“The reason is that these three new laws are designed to destroy the agricultural system in India and give the entire business to two or three of Narendra Modi’s friends,” he had alleged.
The Congress leader’s remarks came as farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Farmer leaders and the Centre have held several rounds of talks but the impasse remains.

Central delegation to meet top WB officials

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: A Central government delegation will meet top officials of the West Bengal government on Thursday to discuss the implementation and progress of rural development and Panchayati Raj projects of the Centre.
The Central delegation reached Kolkata on Wednesday. The members of the delegation will oversee the progress of all the projects of the Centre, primarily related to the rural development and panchayat services in the state. They will hold meetings West Bengal Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary and Panchayat Secretary.
On Wednesday, the delegation members visited several places in the state to assess the implementation of the projects on the ground.
The BJP-led Centre and TMC government in West Bengal are at loggerheads, especially after the 2021 Assembly polls. Therefore, the visit of the Central delegation carries much significance.

Centre to launch E-Shram portal today

New Delhi [India]: In order to maintain a database of workers in the unorganised sector, the government will launch the E-Shram portal on Thursday.
The Centre will launch the E-Shram portal at 3:30 pm today. Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav had, earlier on August 24, unveiled the logo for the E-Shram portal.
“Targeted identification of the unorganized workers was a much-needed step and the portal which will be the national database of our nation builders, our Shram Yogis, will help take welfare schemes to their doorstep, who are the builders of our nation,” Yadav had said on the logo launch event.
“Targeted delivery and last-mile delivery, has been a major focus of the schemes of government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the National Database of Unorganised workers (E-Shram portal) is another key step towards that and will be a game-changer for the social security of millions of unorganised workers,” the Labour Minister had said.

Scheme to boost exports and competitiveness

New Delhi [India]: For enhancing exports in the international market, the Centre has notified guidelines and rates for the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme.
In a tweet, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal wrote, “Government notifies RoDTEP Scheme Guidelines and Rates for boosting exports by creating a level playing field for exporters leading to greater competitiveness and increased employment generation. Will enable ‘zero-rating’ of exports for building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.” The scheme for zero-rating of exports will boost our exports and competitiveness in the global markets. The rates of RoDTEP will cover 8555 tariff lines.
The ministry noted that Government is leaving no stone unturned to support domestic industry and make it more competitive in the international markets. Export centric industries are being reformed and introduced to better mechanisms so as to increase their competitiveness, boost exports, generate employment and contribute to the overall economy. This will go a long way in achieving our vision of building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
As per the official ministry release, RoDTEP is one such reform, based on the globally accepted principle that taxes and duties should not be exported, and taxes and levies borne on the exported products should be either exempted or remitted to exporters.
Scheme’s objective is to refund, currently un-refunded: Duties/ taxes/ levies, at the Central, State and local level, borne on the exported product, including prior stage cumulative indirect taxes on goods and services used in the production of the exported product, and such indirect duties/ taxes/ levies in respect of the distribution of exported products.
Rebate under the Scheme shall not be available in respect of duties and taxes already exempted or remitted or credited. RoDTEP is going to give a boost to Indian exports by providing a level playing field to domestic industry abroad.
RoDTEP support will be available to eligible exporters at a notified rate as a percentage of Freight On Board (FOB) value. Rebate on certain export products will also be subject to value cap per unit of the exported product.
The Scheme is to be implemented by Customs through a simplified IT System. Rebate will be issued in the form of a transferable duty credit/ electronic scrip (e-scrip) which will be maintained in an electronic ledger by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC).
Identified export sectors and rates under RoDTEP cover 8555 tariff lines in addition to similar support being extended to apparel and made-ups exports under the Rebate of State and Central taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) scheme of the Ministry of Textiles.
Employment Oriented Sectors like Marine, Agriculture, Leather, Gems and Jewellery etc. are covered under the scheme. Other sectors like automobiles, plastics, electrical /electronics, machinery etc also get support. The entire valve chain of textiles also gets covered through RoDTEP and RoSCTL.

Affidavit not satisfying whether Pegasus was used

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Monday said that an affidavit filed by the Centre on the issue relating to alleged snooping by the government has not satisfied allegations whether or not Pegasus spyware was used and asked whether it will file an additional affidavit on use of Pegasus.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana posting the matter on August 17 for a hearing of a batch of pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the reports of the government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, court staff, and journalists. “We will continue tomorrow. If you have a change of mind, let us know tomorrow. If Tushar Mehta may decide to file an affidavit, then we have nothing to say, else we will hear all of you”, said CJI Ramana, while adding that it cannot compel the Centre to file an affidavit if it is “reluctant” to do so.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre said that the issue involved aspects of national security and was not simple enough to be addressed through affidavits.
Mehta asked if the petitioners will withdraw petitions seeking an independent probe into the issue if the government filed affidavit denying using Pegasus.
“We are dealing with a sensitive matter but an attempt is being made to make this sensational. This matter will have national security implications. This matter cannot be handled like furnish an affidavit etc. Minister concerned with this department has given details as to how the Pegasus issue has been raging fire over the past few years. The placing of facts will involve national security issues,” Mehta told the Bench.
During the hearing, the petitioners’ lawyers repeatedly told the Bench that the Central government has evaded answering the question if it or any of its agencies have ever used the Pegasus spyware and urged the Court to direct the government to come clean on this issue.
Earlier in the day the Central government filed an affidavit and apprised the top court that it has decided to constitute a Committee of Experts which will examine all the issues relating to the alleged Pegasus snooping issue.
The Centre also denied all the allegations of snooping and maintained the petitions are based on conjectures and there is no substance in the accusations.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in its affidavit said, “It is submitted that with a view to dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised, the Union of India will constitute a Committee of Experts in the field which will go into all aspects of the issue.”
At the outset of the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Centre is denying all the allegations and there is nothing to hide or that needs examination.
It’s a scientific thing and we will appoint a neutral body of persons and experts to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised, Mehta added.
Mehta said if this court approves, Committee can be constituted of independent neutral experts and not government officers, a committee may be formed and terms of reference can be laid down by the court.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for senior journalists N Ram and Shashi Kumar took objection to the “limited affidavit” filed by the Centre and said the government has to state on oath that they have never used Pegasus spyware.
“The government of India must state on oath if they or their agencies have ever used Pegasus. This fact has to be either denied or accepted. That is not done in the affidavit filed by the Centre. This affidavit does not answer the issues raised by the petitioners,” Sibal said, adding that the government has made a sweeping denial of the petitions in generic terms.
Sibal said that the issue was not about individuals but about “institutions” and it is the judiciary and the media which protect democracy and both have been attacked by Pegasus.
Sibal said, “France has started a national level investigation through court procedures, Israel is also conducting the enquiry, but the Indian government says all is fine. This is wholly unacceptable. Let the government state on oath that they used pegasus spyware, how it was used, and what deal contracts were entered into.”
There are as many as eleven pleas filed before the top court by senior journalists N Ram, and Sashi Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) and advocate ML Sharma, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya.
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shatakshi, who are reported to be on the potential list of snoop targets of Pegasus spyware, had also approached the top court along with The Editors Guild of India (EGI) among others.

Opposition not allowed to speak in Parliament, their voice crushed: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday slammed the Central government alleging that the Opposition was not allowed to speak in the Parliament during the recently-concluded monsoon session and termed it as “murder of democracy”.

New Delhi [India], August 12 : He said the voice of 60 per cent of the people in the country was “crushed and humiliated”. Speaking to reporters at the Vijay Chowk during a protest by the Opposition over the demand to repeal the three farm laws, the Wayanad MP said, “Today, we had to come out here to speak to you (media) as we (Opposition) are not allowed to speak in the Parliament. This is the murder of democracy.”
“The Parliament session is over. As far as 60 per cent of the country is concerned there has been no Parliament session. The voice of 60 per cent of the country has been crushed, humiliated and yesterday in the Rajya Sabha physically beaten,” he said.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the Opposition did not get a chance to present their views in the Parliament and added that the alleged attack on women MPs in Rajya Sabha was against democracy.

“The opposition did not get a chance to present their views in Parliament. Yesterday’s incident against women MPs was against democracy. It felt like we were standing at the Pakistan border,” Raut said.
Hitting out at the Central government, RJP leader Manoj Jha said that the Insurance Bill was passed by the ‘Martial law’, and not the Parliament.
“We had heard about the Martial law in our neighbouring country but we witnessed the situation like Martial law in the Parliament yesterday. The Insurance Bill was not passed by the Parliament, but was passed by the Martial law,” Jha said.

“We wanted to discuss the farmers’ agitation, Pegasus report, unemployment, and other issues in the Parliament but we were not given the chance to do so. The people will break the ego of the government,” he said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that the Centre does not want to run the Parliament proceedings properly. “The government is passing laws without discussions. There should be a discussion on COVID-19 vaccination, current economic situation, unemployment, farm laws but the government is running away,” he said.

Opposition parties on Thursday held a protest march against the Central government’s decision to adjourn the Parliament sine die on Wednesday, two days before the scheduled conclusion. They also demanded to repeal the three farm laws. The protest march began from Parliament and concluded at Vijay Chowk.
The Opposition MPs were seen carrying the placards saying ‘black farm laws’.
Ahead of the protest march, Opposition leaders also held a meeting at the office of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge to discuss the alleged manhandling of women members in the Upper House yesterday.
During the recently-concluded monsoon session of Parliament, the Opposition forced adjournments in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over their twin demands including repeal of three farm laws and probe into allegations of surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

New Covid mutants can reach anywhere any time, warns Centre

New Delhi [India]: New COVID-19 mutants can reach anywhere at any time, said the Central government on Tuesday, adding that it is monitoring Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Delta Plus variants.
Addressing media on the COVID-19 situation, National Centre for Disease Control Director Dr SK Singh said, “The variants of concern that we monitor are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Delta Plus. There are two variants under investigation – Kappa and B1617.3.” “We were doing two kinds of surveillance – to monitor variants of concern (coming from outside) and to monitor the impact of the Delta variant in the country. Today, we need to look for new mutants because they can reach anywhere any time,” he added.
He further explained that the World Health Organization (WHO) came out with a strategy that the sentinel sites need to be identified and representative samples from every district of every state be subjected to genome sequencing.
“WHO came out with a strategy that the sentinel sites need to be identified and representative samples from every district of every state be subjected to genome sequencing. It should be tested if there is any mutant that will cause a public impact in the time to come,” said Singh.
“Sentinel sites were affixed across the country and all states were asked to identify a minimum of 5 labs and 5 tertiary care hospitals and see if the sentinel sites represented samples of a representative district. Around 277 sentinel sites have been identified while 8,000 samples have been sent in July,” he added.
Further speaking about Kerala’s Covid situation, Singh said, “Central Team was sent to Kerala. First, to see how the ‘test-track-treat’ strategy is being implemented, second, surveillance of containment zones with contact tracing being an important factor, the third infrastructure of hospitals and fourth progress of vaccination.”
“The caseload and positivity trend was found to be more than 10. Some districts indicated an increasing trend of positivity rate – Malappuram, Kozhikode, Pathanamthitta. 80 per cent of cases were found to be positive for Delta variant, like other states,” he added.

Foreign nationals now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in India: Central Government

New Delhi [India]: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday allowed the foreign nationals residing in India to get registered on the CoWin portal to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
The foreign nationals can use their passport as identity proof for the purpose of registration on the CoWin portal, the ministry informed. “A significant number of foreign nationals are living in India, especially in large metropolitan areas. In these areas, the potential of spread of Covid-19 is high due to higher population density. To counter any possibility of such occurrence, it is important to vaccinate all eligible persons,” the ministry stated.
Further, it added, “This initiative will ensure the safety of foreign nationals residing in India. It will also bring down the possibilities of further transfer of infection from unvaccinated persons residing in India. It will also ensure overall safety from the further transmission of COVID-19 virus.”
India has administered over 51 crore vaccine doses across the country, as on August 9, the ministry informed.

SC issues notice to Centre over public disclosure of COVID vaccine clinical trial data, post-vaccination data

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre after hearing a plea filed seeking public disclosure of COVID vaccine clinical trial data and post-vaccination data, as the petitioner claims that it is mandatory and required that the government must publish these as per the International medical norms.
“We are issuing notice. We will wait for their (UOI) response. Let them (UOI) come with the reply. We will hear the matter after that. We will hear the issue, which you (petitioner) have raised,” a two-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao and also comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose said, today. The petition was filed by Dr. Jacob Puliyel through advocate Prashant Bhushan, before the Supreme Court seeking its direction for transparency in clinical trial data for the COVID vaccines being administered in India under emergency use.
The petitioner, Dr Puliyel, also sought a stay on the COVID vaccine mandates that are being issued by authorities in various parts of the country.
The Apex Court has asked the UOI to respond to the petition filed by Dr Puliyel, and the poses the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court that first time in history, such kind of practice took place, “without properly completing the vaccine trial.”
He also said that the Helsinki and World Health Organization (WHO) mandated that all COVID vaccine data and trials have to be made in a transparent manner, which, in this case, was not made. “The clinical trial has to be completed,” Bhushan said.
As far as the COVID vaccine mandate is concerned, “you (the government) cannot coerce people to take the vaccine,” Bhushan said, and also made it clear to the Supreme Court in his submissions that the government must clarify as to what are adverse effects, if there is any, of taking the COVID vaccine.
Bhushan said that in the interest of justice, the Supreme Court should direct the UOI to release the entire segregated trial data for each of the phases of trials that have been undertaken with respect to the COVID vaccines being administered in India.
Bhushan also sought direction from the UOI to disclose the reasoned decision of the DCGI granting approval or rejecting an application for emergency use authorization of COVID vaccines.
Bhushan also sought direction from the respondents, including the UOI, to disclose the post-vaccination data regarding adverse events, vaccines who got infected with COVID, those who needed hospitalization and those who died after such infection post-COVID vaccination.
He said that the Supreme Court should also direct the UOI to widely publicize the data collection of such adverse events.
Bhushan also sought a direction to the UOI to disclose the detailed minutes of the meetings of the Subject Expert Committee and the NTGAI with regard to the vaccines as directed by the 59th Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the members who constituted the committee for the purpose of each approval.

TMC slams Centre, says, ’25 bills passed in 21 min, Business Advisory Committee became like general store’

New Delhi [India]: Slamming the Centre for passing bills without discussion, Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar on Friday said the Business Advisory Committee of the Parliament has become like a general store.
Addressing a press conference, Ghosh Dastidar said, “Are we moving towards autocracy? The Constitutional fabric is being trampled upon. It is a matter of great regret that we are slowly losing our democracy in form of disregarding the Opposition and demands of people. Bills are being passed without discussion.” The TMC leader alleged that the central government has a tendency towards ordinances and the Business Advisory Committee has become like a general store.
“25 bills were passed in less than 21 minutes. Bills have been passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha without discussion, if this continues, then democracy will end. This autocratic behaviour has never been seen. The government is moving towards ordinances. Business Advisory Committee has become like a general store. We wanted to discuss price hike, COVID, but those were not discussed,” stated Ghosh Dastidar.
The TMC leader said they want a discussion on four issues including the farmers’ protest, COVID-19, inflation and Pegasus spyware.
“The issue of Pegasus should be investigated by a high-level committee. The Government of India must clarify whether it has bought the Pegasus services or not. Till this is not discussed, the protest will go on. We are living in surveillance rule,” added the TMC MP.
Amid continuous ruckus by Opposition MPs on Friday, the Parliament has been adjourned till 11 am tomorrow.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha stormed the well of the House over the Pegasus Project media report and raised slogans of ‘Disclose Pegasus’.
On Thursday also the House faced multiple adjournments.
On Wednesday, six TMC MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha after they created ruckus in the morning over the Pegasus spying issue.
The business of both the Houses of the Parliament remained majorly disrupted due to the continuous ruckus created by the Opposition over the issues including farmers’ protest, Pegasus spyware, COVID-19 and inflation.
The Monsoon Session commenced on July 19 and is scheduled to continue till August 13.

No Civilian Flight on Bio-Fuel

New Delhi [India]: The Indian government has not operated any civilian flight on bio-fuel to date, said Minister of State for Civil Aviation General (Retired) VK Singh on Thursday.
In a written reply in Lok Sabha regarding the use of bio-fuel in civilian flight in the country, the Minister said, “At present, the price of biofuels is higher than that of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) due to very limited production. Hence, at this stage, operations using bio-fuels do not result in reduced operating costs.” Singh also informed that Spicejet, a private Indian carrier had conducted a demonstration flight with Bombardier Q400 aircraft in August 2018 using bio-fuel blended with ATF (in the ratio of 25:75) in one engine.

Indemnity issue hovers over Johnson & Johnson and Centre

New Delhi [India]: The US-based pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson is still in talks with the Centre over its COVID-19 vaccine, said sources on Monday.
The development came after reports surfaced that the company has pulled its proposal seeking accelerated approval for local trials in India. In April, Johnson and Johnson had said that it was seeking approval to conduct a bridging clinical study of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate Janssen in India.
As per the sources, Johnson and Johnson are not going to participate in the trials for the single-dose vaccine in India. They are also having discussions over indemnity with the government.
In June, a spokesperson of the company told ANI that as per the recent announcement by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), there is no longer a requirement to conduct bridging clinical studies of COVID-19 vaccines in India.
“We are in ongoing discussions with the Government of India and are exploring how best to accelerate our ability to deliver the Johnson and Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine to the people of India,” the spokesperson said.
After Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson is the second company to withdraw applications for conducting vaccine trials in India.

Centre happy with Kerala

The centre’s high-level multi-disciplinary public health team that was sent to Kerala to oversee COVID-19 control and containment measures indicated satisfaction with the mitigation approaches used in the state.

The delegation assessed the COVID-19 treatment facilities at Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital, Parippally Medical College, and Kolenchery General Hospital, and met with state Health Minister Veena George.

“The team expressed satisfaction on the treatment given to the patients, basic facilities, and vaccination process in the state,” Veena George said.

The central health team, recognised that the government had intervened effectively during the pandemic to avert a scarcity of oxygen and ICU beds in the state.

“We have also requested the union government to allot 90 lakh additional doses of vaccine. We are trying to vaccinate 2.5 to 3 lakh persons per day,” the minister said.

The team comprises Regional Director Officer Public Health specialist Ruchi jain and JIPMER Pulmonary Medicine department head Dr SK Vinod Kumar.

The team had also held discussions with health secretary Rajan Khobragade, NHM state mission director Rathen Khelkar and others.

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