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PM Modi will visit J-K on Sunday, Security on High Alert

Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: Security arrangements have been strengthened ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir’s Palli on Sunday.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to address panchayats across the country on ‘Panchayati Raj Diwas’ tomorrow.
Every year, April 24 is celebrated as the National Panchayati Raj Day.

The Prime minister will address a gathering including more than 30,000 Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members of Jammu and Kashmir while PRIs from across the country will be connected virtually for the Prime Minister’s address.

Palli panchayat is in the Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Security arrangements have been tightened because of PM Modi’s Visit

The date – April 24, 1993 – marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of power to the grassroots, with the institutionalization of Panchayati Raj, through the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 which came into force with effect from that day.

Panchayat Palli in Jammu has been selected for the Panchayati Raj Diwas function this year and an exhibition showcasing the latest innovations will be put up enabling farmers, sarpanchs and village heads to improve their income and their produce.

Amongst important innovations that are planned to be showcased, are geospatial technology for rural development and farmers, apps usable by farmers for weather forecast for five days, lavender cultivation famously known as purple revolution, biotechnology innovation to increase the production of apple on the same land to increase farmers’ income, drone application for pesticide spray and waste treatment, the shelf life of fruits to be increased through atomic radiation, etc. (ANI)

 

India, Australia to start dual degree programme for students: Piyush Goyal

Delhi/Sydney [India/Australia]: Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that education will act as a bridge between India and Australia, highlighting that both countries will soon be starting dual degree programmes for students. Goyal and Dan Tehan, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia said they are working on a dual degree programme under the trade agreement with an aim to enhance collaboration between universities of both countries.

Union Commerce Minister Goyal who was in the University of New South Wales (NSW) in Sydney, said, “I invite the University of New South Wales to expand its footprints in India and enable students on both sides to gain.”

Goyal is in Australia for a three-day visit after inking India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

Goyal said that both sides are working on a dual degree programme and the move would help in recognising each other’s degrees, and course contents.

“A lot of the good work that researchers come out with does not get that kind of scale and opportunity to operationalise and therefore the partnership between the two countries can truly transform the lives of Australia and India,” Goyal said while addressing students at the University of NSW, Sydney.

He added, “I believe that such partnerships are important for the world as we increase our strategic engagements between Australia and India. Education will act as a bridge between the two countries, it has always been an important element of our partnership.”

Under the dual degree programme between the countries, students would be allowed to study the course for a few years in one country and a few years in another country India, subject to certain norms.

Australian Minister Tehan said if you are an Indian student or Australian student, you will be able to do one or two years of your degree in Australia and one-two year in India and with this collaboration between universities will grow.

Tehan said, “It is absolutely vital that we educate Indian students in Australia and also use that as a basis to grow education relationships between two nations. I want to see Australian students flocking to India to get educated.”

“We are working on a dual degree where you do part of your degree in Australia and part of your degree in India, you can mix and match. It will be a wonderful opportunity,” he added.

The dual degree programme will help bring quality education to more and more Indians, and get more exposure, experience, new skill sets and knowledge, Goyal has said.

Indian students at the University also expressed hope that trade deals will provide more opportunities for them in jobs.

Naveen, an Indian student said that the collaboration between the two countries will create opportunities for both nations.

“In terms of the deal, I think, its more collaboration between two countries, and how opportunities can be explored from both ends– be it start-ups, energy sector or other sectors as well. I think it depends upon how we explore different sectors within those two countries. There is a lot to find and do as well. I think Australia has its own resources, which can be used in India. With COVID opening a lot of doors, it’s great we are looking forward to a new future,” said Naveen.

Talking about the increase in the timeline of visas that has been extended to three years, Naveen said, “As far as my expectations are concerned, I want to stay here longer which has been done as the timeline of the visa has been extended up till three years which is great. That gives us a lot of opportunities in finding the job we like. It also gives us time to stay here and explore the culture, and opportunity.”

Another student, Shreya said that the IndAus Agreement is expected to bring a lot of business to India.

“I expect this deal to bring a lot of business to India. It has increased the working rights of the students. It will give us a lot of exposure and will get to work in a different environment here in Australia. We will be able to get back the expertise to India,” said Shreya.

Talking about the difficulties in getting jobs in Australia, she said, “It depends on a degree which you are pursuing. A lot of companies have restrictions on employing citizens only with permanent residence, so it gets a little difficult, but it’s just a process we have to go through it. Eventually, your hard work pays off.”

Goyal and Tehan also paid tributes to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the University campus.

ECTA is the first trade agreement of India with a developed country after more than a decade and provides for an institutional mechanism to improve trade between the two countries.

Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner. The ECTA is expected to almost double the bilateral trade from USD 27.5 bn (2021) to about USD 45 to USD 50 Billion in the next 5 years. ECTA is expected to create new employment opportunities, raise living standards and enhance the overall welfare of the people of both countries. Additional employment generation is expected to be 10 lakhs within the next 5 years. (ANI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Intel suspends all business operations in Russia

Washington [US]: US technology company Intel, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer components and electronic devices, said it has suspended its activities in Russia over the situation in Ukraine.

“Effective immediately, we have suspended all business operations in Russia,” the company said.
“We are working to support all of our employees through this difficult situation, including our 1,200 employees in Russia. We have also implemented business continuity measures to minimize disruption to our global operations,” it said.

Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 in response to calls from the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics for protection against intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. The Russian Defense Ministry said the special operation, which targets Ukrainian military infrastructure, aims to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine.

Moscow has said it has no plans to occupy Ukraine. Western nations have imposed numerous sanctions on Russia. (ANI/Sputnik)

 

IPL: Avesh Khan on guiding LSG to victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Lucknow Super Giants defended the 170-run target against Sunrisers Hyderabad to register a 12-run win here at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

Pacer Avesh Khan gave his team the breakthrough in both the powerplay as well as in death overs to deny 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad any chances of a comeback.
“Effort was to give wickets to the team because that’s what the team wants from me. I wanted to give wicket in powerplay phase and slog-overs phase,” said Avesh Khan in the post-match presentation ceremony.

Avesh Khan’s first wicket was the prized scalp of captain Kane Williamson in the fourth over of the Hyderabad innings to give Lucknow an early breakthrough.

“I had thought I’ll bowl slow. I noticed that slower balls were working well in the first innings, so I thought I’d do that as a variation in the powerplay,” said Avesh Khan.

After dismissing both the openers Williamson and Abhishek Sharma of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the powerplay Avesh Khan was again introduced into the attack in death overs where he took wickets of Nicholas Pooran and Abdul Samad on consecutive balls to be on a hat-trick.

“I wanted to bowl a dot ball so thought I’ll go for the yorker option,” explained Avesh Khan.

Delhi Capitals were forced to release Avesh Khan despite his impressive performances for them in the previous seasons as there is a limit to retaining a certain number of players therefore Avesh Khan was back in the auction pool and was bought by Lucknow but the 25-year old pacer hardly took time to adjust to the new set-up.

“The set-up is great with Gambhir, Bichel, and Flower here. They tell me to bowl to my strengths,” told Avesh Khan.

Avesh Khan’s four-wicket haul helped him bag the ‘Player of the Match’ award and he has also helped his side register two wins in three matches. (ANI)

 

PM Modi Extends His Best Wishes To Falguni Shah For Winning Grammy

New Delhi [India], April 5 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended his best wishes to Indian-American singer Falguni Shah for winning her first-ever Grammy.

“Congratulations to Falguni Shah on winning the award for the Best Children’s Music Album at the Grammys. Wishing her the very best for her future endeavours. @FaluMusic,” Modi tweeted.

Falguni, who uses the stage name “Falu” won the Best Children’s Music Album Grammy for ‘A Colourful World’ on Sunday.

For the unversed, Falguni moved to the US in 2000, toured with her Boston-based husband Gaurav Shah on the fusion band Karyshma (Hindi for Miracle), and released a self-titled solo album in the US in 2007, blending elements of folk from across the south-east Asia with Western music. She has even performed and collaborated with music maestro AR Rahman.

She is the only Indian-origin woman to be nominated in the Best Children’s Music Album category at the Grammys twice.

Sri Lanka: People in distress amid political instability, economic crisis

 

Colombo [Sri Lanka]: People in Sri Lanka expressed uncertainty and demanded a new leader in the country amid the ongoing political instability and economic crisis in the country.

Charles, a shopkeeper in Colombo, demanded a new leader in the country. He said, “We need a proper leader in our country. We are not happy with the ruling government.”
He further said that the ruling government doesn’t care about them.

A lady, who was dropping her child off in Methodist college (school), said over protest that the situation is very unpredictable and she doesn’t know will she be able to find the transport to come and pick her up from the school or not.

On Thursday, several protestors gathered outside the residence of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the island nation faces an unprecedented economic crisis. Amidst the unrest, after protests, Sri Lanka imposed a curfew on Saturday from 6 pm in accordance with the powers vested in the President under the provisions of the Public Security Ordinance.

After a 36-hours long curfew, Sri Lanka lifted the curfew on Monday morning at 6 am but the country is still under the effect of a state of emergency.

The country is witnessing protests over the government’s handling of the worst economic crisis in decades.

Sri Lanka is battling a severe economic crisis with food and fuel scarcity affecting a large number of the people in the island nation. The economy has been in a free-fall since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the crush of tourism.

Sri Lanka is also facing a foreign exchange shortage, which has, incidentally, affected its capacity to import food and fuel, leading to the power cuts in the country. The shortage of essential goods forced Sri Lanka to seek assistance from friendly countries. (ANI)

 

UP CM : Govt jobs to over 10,000 youths in next 100 days

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday, highlighting his commitment to providing employment to youth, said that the government has directed all the service selection boards to provide government jobs to more than 10,000 youths of the state in the next 100 days.

“The state government is committed to connecting the youth with government jobs and providing them employment. In this sequence, the government has given instructions to all the service selection boards to provide government jobs to more than 10,000 youths of the state in the next 100 days,” Yogi Adityanath tweeted in Hindi.

Soon after assuming the office for the second consecutive term as the Chief Minister of the state, Yogi said last week that the Uttar Pradesh government will provide employment opportunities to youth in the public sector.

The decision to provide government jobs in the state was taken during the first cabinet meeting held earlier. The Chief Minister chaired the first cabinet meeting on Saturday in Lok Bhawan, Lucknow.

Meanwhile, the newly sworn-in Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is likely to present its first Budget of over Rs 6.5 lakh crore focusing on fulfilling the BJP’s poll promises “for the empowerment of the poor, farmers, youth and women”, according to the Chief Minister’s Office. (ANI)

 

PM Imran Khan to address Pakistan over ‘foreign conspiracy’

Islamabad [Pakistan]:  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to address the nation on Wednesday evening to take people into confidence that there is a ‘foreign-funded conspiracy’ letter that contains evidence that outside elements are trying to topple the government.

Sheikh Rasheed, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, while addressing the media said the Prime Minister has also summoned an emergency meeting of the federal cabinet to take party leaders and allies into confidence over the contents of the letter, reported ARY News.
According to the sources privy to the matter, the allied parties to the ruling PTI will also be invited to the meeting so that they can be taken into confidence too ahead of the no-trust motion against the PM.

Meanwhile, a total of fourteen journalists have been invited to the PM’s house where Imran Khan will brief them on the contents of the letter, reported the news channel.

PM, earlier in the day said that he will share the ‘foreign-funded conspiracy’ letter with senior journalists and ally party members. “The letter will reveal the elements who are conspiring against the country from abroad,” he said at the launch of e-passport services in Islamabad and added, “Suspicions were cast that the government is doing all this to save itself.”

“The letter clearly shows how big conspiracy is against the government and it is far bigger conspiracy than what I am telling to you,” he added.

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

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

 

Oscars 2022: Japanese film ‘Drive My Car’ bags best international feature film award

Los Angeles (California) [US]: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Drive My Car’ bagged the Best International Feature Film award at the Oscars 2022, becoming the second movie from Japan to take the honour in the category formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film.

It’s the fifth award for Japan if we count honorary awards given out in the 1950s.
The other contenders up against ‘Drive My Car’ were Denmark’s ‘Flee’, Italy’s ‘The Hand of God’, Norwegian film ‘The Worst Person in the World’, and ‘Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’ from Bhutan.

Hamaguchi accepted the award, which was presented to him by ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ actor Simu Liu and comedian-actor Tiffany Haddish. The director of ‘Drive My Car’ thanked everyone after accepting the award, reported Deadline.

Speaking in English rather than through a translator as he has for much of awards season, Hamaguchi thanked “all the members of the Academy for having us here” as well as his US distributors “for bringing Drive My Car to the United States.”

He was nearly played off before interrupting the music himself and saying, “Just a moment,” adding thanks to all of his actors present and those who couldn’t make it to LA, “especially Toko Miura, who drove the Saab 900 beautifully in the film.”

Hamaguchi looked like he had more to say, but the skedaddle music swelled and off he went.

Hamaguchi co-wrote and directed ‘Drive My Car’, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. The drama made history on Oscar nominations day, becoming the first Japanese film ever to score an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Hamaguchi is only the third Japanese filmmaker to be nominated in the Best Director category and had a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay tonight. ‘Drive My Car’s’ four total Oscar nominations tie Akira Kurosawa’s Ran as the most-nominated film ever from Japan (though the latter was a French co-production).

The film tells the story of an actor-director played by Hidetoshi Nishijima, who is forced to confront the demons beneath the seemingly perfect surface of his marriage after his wife dies. He develops a tentative friendship with his young chauffeur while directing a multi-lingual production of Russian playwright Anton Checkhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ in Hiroshima.

‘Drive My Car’ began its winning streak in Cannes where it took the Best Screenplay prize and has been on a wild ride ever since, winning top overall film honours from both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle, along with myriad prizes from other organisations.

It also recently won the BAFTA for Film Not in the English Language. (ANI)

Facebook, Instagram to allow posts calling for violence against Russians

California [US]: Meta, the parent company of social networks Facebook and Instagram, is planning to allow the publication of calls for violence against Russians in response to the invasion of Ukraine, media reports said on Friday.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.
The Sputnik news agency reported the US media giant is going to allow posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in a number of countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Poland.

This decision comes a few days after Russia blocked access to Facebook and other social media platforms, saying that it had discriminated against Russian media and information resources.

Media reports said that the Russian websites of BBC and Deutsche Welle, Twitter, and Apple and Google’s app stores were all blocked.

“In March 2022, a decision was made to block access to the Facebook network (owned by Meta Platforms, Inc.) in the Russian Federation,” the Russian media regulator statement had said.

Meta president Nick Clegg said the company was doing “everything we can to restore our services”.

Russia launched a “military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, which it claimed was a response to calls from the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for protection against attacks by Ukrainian troops.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the special operation is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure only and the civilian population is not in danger.

A number of countries including the US, Canada, and Australia have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Russia, prompting many international businesses to leave the Russian market. (ANI)

BJP wins Uttarakhand: Will fulfill all poll promises including Uniform Civil Code, says CM Dhami

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India]: As the BJP sustained a lead in the Uttarkhand Assembly elections, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday expressed gratitude to the people for giving the party ‘two-third’ majority and said that the BJP government would fulfil all the poll-promises that the party made before the elections.

Addressing a press conference here, Dhami said, “There was a jinx that the BJP and Congress form governments alternatively. I have always said that all the myths are being demolished and new history is being created after PM Modi has come to power. I thank the people of Uttarakhand. We will fulfil all the promises that we have done in our manifesto.”
Reiterating his promise made before the polls in connection with bringing in the Uniform Civil Code in the state after the formation of his government, Dhami said that the new government would implement it after the swearing-in ceremony.

“We have promised Uniform Civil Code before the polls that our new government would implement it. We will form a high-level committee of the stakeholders after the swearing-in ceremony. The committee will prepare a draft which we will implement. Besides this, we will fulfil all other promises,” he said.

The BJP leader called the vote of the people to the party “proof that they have voted for the party that works”.

“When we were going to the people, we were asked what are our issues? We used to say that we have the work that the Centre and the state governments have done. Today, the people of Uttarakhand have clarified that the BJP is forming a government with a two-thirds majority from their support which is proof that the people have voted for the party that works,” he said.

BJP in charge of the elections in Uttarakhand and Union Minister Pralhad Joshi congratulated Dhami for “creating history” by returning to power consecutively for two terms.

“We are creating history in Uttarakhand that no party has come to power consecutively, but Chief Minister Dhami has done it. I congratulate him on that. We will make this decade the decade of Uttarakhand,” Joshi said.

According to the latest trends by the Election Commission at 5.20 pm, BJP has won 18 seats and is leading on 29 seats while Congress has won six seats and is leading on 13 seats.

Dhami, who is contesting from the Khatima constituency, is trailing against Congress’ Bhuwan Chandra Kapri by 6,579 votes. (ANI)

 

Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami becomes joint-highest wicket-taker in Women’s World Cup history

Hamilton [New Zealand]: India’s veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami on Thursday equalled the tally of most wickets in the ICC Women’s World Cup.

Goswami equalled the tally of 39 wickets taken by Lyn Fullston of Australia from 1982 to 1988. The 39-year-old achieved this feat against New Zealand in the ongoing ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022 at Hamilton.
On Thursday, Goswami took the record-tying wicket in the last over of the innings against the White Ferns. Goswami knocked Katey Martin over. With the wicket, Goswami became the joint-highest wicket-taker in Women’s World Cup history, joining Lynette Ann Fullston at the top with 39 scalps.

In India’s opening match, she bowled a brilliant spell, returning 2/26, in India’s win over Pakistan.

In an illustrious career spanning two decades, Goswami has now 39 wickets to her name across five Women’s Cricket World Cups since 2005.

Talking about the match, Pooja Vastrakar scalped four wickets as India restricted New Zealand to 260/9 in the ongoing ICC Women’s 50-over World Cup here at Seddon Park.

Amy Satterthwaite and Amelia Kerr played brilliant innings of 75 and 50 respectively. For Women in Blue, Pooja Vastrakar scalped four wickets and was involved in a crucial ran out, while Rajeshwari Gayakwad dismissed two players. (ANI)

 

Telangana CM announces recruitment to fill 91,142 vacant posts

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 9 (ANI): Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Wednesday said that out of the available 91,142 direct recruitment vacancies in various government departments, the net posts available for direct recruitment will be 80,039 after regularisation of 11,103 contractual personnel.

“A total number of Direct Recruitment vacancies is 91,142. After regularisation of 11,103 contractual personnel working against these vacancies, net posts available for direct recruitment will be 80,039,” Rao said in the State Assembly today.
Further, he added that the state government has accordingly decided to take up recruitment for 80,039 posts.

“The financial implication of filling up 80,039 vacancies and regularization of 11,103 contractual personnel would be Rs 7,300 crores per annum, to begin with,” said the Chief Minister.

Telangana government has also decided to relax the upper age limit for direct recruitment, to enable more unemployed to become eligible to compete in the proposed recruitment, by ten years, except for uniformed services like police.

With this, the upper age limit will be 44 years for Open Category (OC), 49 years for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes, 54 years for Physically handicapped, and 47 years for Ex-Servicemen.

The government has notified 1,56,254 posts for recruitment after the formation of Telangana, out of which 1,33,942 posts have been filled up. The remaining 22,312 posts are under the recruitment process.

Further, the state government, as a policy, has decided that henceforth there will not be any more contractual appointments.

Telangana government has also decided to determine in advance and notify the direct recruitment vacancies that would be filled every year and has said that a recruitment calendar will be announced annually. (ANI)

 

Chhattisgarh CM Baghel carries briefcase made of cow dung to present state Budget

Raipur (Chhattisgarh) [India] (ANI): In a first, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Wednesday presented the state budget 2022-23 at the Legislative Assembly in a briefcase which was made of cow dung.

The briefcase has been made by applying layer by layer mixture of cow dung powder, chuna powder, maida wood and guar gum in 10 days. Specially designed for budget, the handle and corner of this briefcase are crafted from Bastar Art Artisans by Kondagaon City Group.
Notably, Godhan Nyay Yojana of Chhattisgarh has made a different identity in the country and also received praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past.

Presenting the state Budget 2022-23, Baghel announced the increase in annual assistance under the Rajiv Gandhi Bhumihin Krishi Majdur Nyay Yojana from Rs 6,000 to 7,000 per annum from the next year.

“In this Budget, I propose the restoration of the old pension scheme for govt employees. Rs 2 crore proposed for Chhattisgarh Rojgaar Mission to work on the possibilities of creating new jobs by coordinating the skill development programs,” Baghel said.

The annual assistance under the Rajiv Gandhi Bhumihin Krishi Majdur Nyay Yojana has been increased from 6,000 to 7,000 per annum from the next year.

In the Budget, the government made the provision of Rs 600 crore to provide basic amenities like improved infrastructure and basic services like electricity, water in industrial parks.

The Chief Minister also proposed the provision of Rs 2 crore for Chhattisgarh Rojgaar Mission to work on the possibilities of creating new jobs by coordinating the skill development programme run in urban and rural areas.

Baghel also announced the provision of Rs 123 crore in The Krishak Samagra Vikas Yojana to ensure the availability of high-quality certified seeds to the farmers. (ANI)

South Korea bans export of strategic materials to Russia

Seoul [South Korea](ANI/Sputnik): South Korea has decided to join international sanctions and ban the export of strategic materials to Russia amid the situation around Ukraine, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

“As a form of sanctions against Russia, our government has prohibited the export of strategic materials to Russia, strengthening the export verification procedure,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement went on to say that the relevant South Korean departments will consider possible restrictions on non-strategic materials and extension of sanctions against Russia, including 57 items that are subject to the US sanctions, such as computers, sensors, aviation, and space industries and others.

Western nations have rolled out a sanctions campaign against Russia after it launched a military operation in Ukraine last Thursday, following requests for help from the people’s republics in Donbas. The Russian Defense Ministry said the operation was targeting the military infrastructure of Ukraine only and that the civilian population was not in danger. Moscow says it has no plans to occupy Ukraine and that the purpose of its operation is demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.

Delegations from Russia and Kyiv are expected to hold talks in the Gomel region in Belarus, at the Ukrainian border, in the coming hours. (ANI/Sputnik)

‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ will release on February 25 without any hindrance: Bombay High Court order

                

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Dismissing the pleas against Alia Bhatt-starrer movie ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued an order stating that the “film will release on February 25 without any hindrance.”

The dismissed petitions include the one filed by Congress MLA Amin Patel. The High Court also disposed off the petition of Hiten Mehta.
Post the dismissal of petitions, the Bombay High Court in its order said, “the film will release on February 25, without any hindrance.”

The film directed by ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, landed in a legal soup after Congress MLA Amin Patel on Tuesday filed a petition in Bombay High Court to change the name of the film, alleging it misrepresents Kamathipura as a red-light area while showing the Kathiawadi community in poor light. Meanwhile, actor Alia Bhatt in her latest conversation with ANI, opened up about how she deals with such controversies.

“Neither any controversy nor any comment bothers me. I don’t think anything bothers me beyond a point. Of course, I feel like there’s a certain novelty that just a part of a film holds…whether the film is a good film or a bad film ..that doesn’t matter. The audience makes the final decision after watching the film… Anything that happens before or after can’t really change the fate,” Alia told ANI while promoting her movie in the national capital on Tuesday.

Helmed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ revolves around a maiden sold by a suitor into prostitution and how she becomes a prominent and celebrated figure in the underworld and Kamathipua red-light district.

The film is scheduled to hit the theatres on February 25. (ANI)

PV Sindhu’s gets support cost of her fitness trainer in March-April

            

New Delhi [India], : Six para-sport athletes were added to the core group of athletes for support under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at a Mission Olympic Cell meeting attended by members including ex-players Bhaichung Bhutia, Anju Bobby George, Trupti Murgunde, besides representatives of various federations and IOA President Narinder Batra.

The meeting was chaired by SAI Director General Sandip Pradhan. The athletes inducted into the scheme include Ekta Bhayan, Neeraj Yadav, Nimisha C Suresh, Radha Venkatesh (Para-Athletics), Prachi Yadav (Para Canoe), and Paramjeet Kumar (Para Powerlifting).
The MOC also approved a request from two-time Olympic Games medalist PV Sindhu to support the cost of her fitness trainer Srikanth’s travel and stay during the German Open, All-England Championships, Swiss Open, and Korean Open in March and April.

Sindhu’s own travel and stay costs will be borne under the Ministry’s Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) budget for the Badminton Association of India. Her trainer’s expenses for travel to these four tournaments have been sanctioned from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

Similarly, World No. 25 and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medalist Saina Nehwal’s request for financial assistance for her physiotherapist Ayesha towards her travel and stay during the German Open, All-England Championships and Swiss Open was also approved. SAI already extends financial assistance towards Ayesha’s monthly remuneration.

The MOC also approved proposals worth more than Rs 43.5 lakh from badminton players, Ashmita Chaliha, Aditi Bhat, and doubles players MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, Vishnuvardhan Goud and Krishna Prasad, Pullela Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly as well as Shikha Gautam and Ashwini Bhatt to enable them to compete in international events.

Besides, proposals from Manika Batra, Archana Kamat, Payas Jain, Yashaswini Ghorphade, Suhana Saini, Diya Chitale worth more than Rs 8.5 lakh have been approved along with their airfares. This assistance has been extended towards international competitions. (ANI)

Sameer Wankhede arrives at Kopri Police Station in connection with forgery case

              

Thane (Maharashtra) [India]: Former Mumbai Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Director Sameer Wankhede arrived at Thane’s Kopri police station on Wednesday in connection with an alleged forgery case on a complaint by the state excise department.

The Bombay High Court has granted him interim protection till February 28.
Meanwhile, Wankhede has moved the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of FIR by Thane Police against alleged fraudulent bar licence. The court has fixed the hearing in the matter on February 22. He had moved another petition in the Bombay High Court seeking restoration of cancelled bar licence by Thane Collector.

An FIR was filed against Wankhede on Sunday for forgery in Mumbai’s Thane for allegedly obtaining a licence for a hotel by willful misrepresentation of his age, said the Kopri police on Sunday.

The action was taken following the complaint of State Excise Department official Shankar Gogavale who alleged that Wankhede was below 18 years of age in 1996-97 while obtaining a licence for Sadguru Bar in the city.

Thane collector had issued an order to cancel the licence of the bar.

As per the FIR, the former zonal NCB director was not eligible to do these agreements but he claimed to be a major on a stamp paper in his agreement deed for Sadguru Hotel of Thane. (ANI)

US experts warn spread of more contagious Omicron sub-type as restrictions lifted

               

New York [US]: Experts are warning of the spread of a new strain of Omicron variant in the United States and potential health effects after infection, as major states in the country rushed to shed off COVID-19 restrictions amid a continuous decline in cases and hospitalization.

An Omicron subvariant, known as BA.2, which appears to spread 30 per cent more easily, has made up 3.9 per cent of all infections, up from 1.6 per cent in the week ending Jan. 29, fueling worries the country may not return to normal as planned.
According to a report by National Public Radio, BA.2 is found to have quickly overtaken the original Omicron in South Africa and other countries and has even caused a second Omicron surge in Denmark.

Infectious disease experts cautioned the same could happen in the United States, raising fears that the spread “may be on track to rapidly accelerate in the near future,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the risks of cardiovascular disease of all types increased substantially in the year following COVID-19 infection, according to a study published this month in Nature Medicine which looked into the health records of more than 153,000 US veterans.

Experts estimated there might be millions of new-onset cardiac cases related to the virus, plus a worsening of the disease for many already affected.

“We are expecting a tidal wave of cardiovascular events in the coming years from direct and indirect causes of COVID,” The Washington Post reported, citing Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association.

While New York State began to lift COVID-19 restrictions, not all residents favour the decision, The New York Times recently reported. (ANI/Xinhua)

The book ‘I AM’ challenges the myths and breaks the stereotype around creativity

              

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India] (ANI/PNN): The book ‘I AM’ is a first of its kind in the illustrated picture book category that defines the correct meaning of creativity.

Inspired by the core principle of design thinking, the book takes the reader through the journey of Empathy-Define-Ideate-Prototype-Test to demonstrate simple methods to solve complex problems.
Creativity isn’t always an in-born trait but a refined skill in the creation process. I AM an illustrated book for adults & children who believe in having a mindset that lets them find multiple solutions for the same problem.

I AM a happy book that emphasizes positivity. It is an emotional journey of a boy who is on his path of self-discovery. The story keeps the readers glued to the protagonist’s journey and how his brother encourages him to face the challenges and discover the essence of life. The book revolves around the myths about creativity and its stereotype. It’s an eye-opener for young adults, professionals, and parents who believe that creativity is synonymous with being artistic, whereas it is all about inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules, making mistakes, and finding out solutions.

Reshma Budhia, the author of I AM, believes that creativity is not a form of doing but a form of being. With over 16 years of marketing experience, she has helped companies conceptualize and build marketing roadmaps using emerging technology solutions. Her key role includes brand & strategy consulting, content creation, UX/UI consulting, and growth strategy planning & execution.

She is a Certified Design Thinking Specialist from Emeritus MIT Sloan School of Management and has completed her PG Diploma in Innovation & Design Thinking. Reshma says, “Creativity is all about connecting things and solving problems. It’s solving ordinary problems through extraordinary solutions. We need to come out of the cocoon to explore and experiment.” She adds that her book was not born as an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment story but is her own journey to discover the creative side. She takes pride in being recognized as the Exceptional Women of Excellence by the Women’s Economic Forum.

There are different aspects of creativity, and through the book I AM, one gets to understand the true essence of creativity. It’s a keepsake that opens a new dimension each time you read it. I AM available on Amazon at Rs. 1199/.

Click

https://amzn.to/3AQBxo3

to find out more.

Instagram handles:

Book: @discoveriam

Author: @designthinkqueen

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

TCS slumps 2 per cent ahead of Rs 18,000 crore share buyback

            

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): The share price of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) fell around 2 per cent on Monday, which is the last day for retail investors to participate in the company’s Rs 18,000 crore share buyback plan.

TCS has set February 23, 2022, as the record date to identify investors who will be eligible to participate in the stock buyback plan. If a retail investor wishes to participate in the buyback offer, February 21 is the last opportunity to buy. In order to be eligible to participate in the share buyback, the stock should be in the investors’ Demat account on the record date.
Trading in TCS shares started on a positive note on Monday. However, the scrip slipped into the red in tandem with the benchmark indices.

At 15.04 pm at the BSE, TCS was trading at Rs 3,725, which is Rs 69.80 or 1.84 per cent down from its previous session’s close at Rs 3794.80. The share price of TCS slumped to a low of Rs 3705.80 in the intra-day.

On January 12, 2022, the board of directors of TCS approved a proposal to buy back up to 4 crore shares for an aggregate amount not exceeding Rs 18,000 crore.

The company plans to buy back shares from investors at Rs 4,500 per share which is at a premium of around 20 per cent to Monday’s price of Rs 3,725. (ANI)

Kamala Harris warns Russia of ‘unprecedented’ costs if it invades Ukraine

             

Munich [Germany]: US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday (local time) warned Russia that if it invades Ukraine, the United States and its allies will impose “unprecedented economic costs” on Moscow.

In remarks at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Harris vowed there would be a “swift, severe and united” response if Russia invades Ukraine.
“We will impose far-reaching financial sanctions and export controls. We will target Russia’s financial institutions and key industries. And we will target those who are complicit and those who aid and abet this unprovoked invasion,” CNN quoted Harris as saying.

Harris continued saying that “Make no mistake: The imposition of these sweeping and coordinated measures will inflict great damage on those who must be held accountable.”

“Let me be clear, I can say with absolute certainty if Russia further invades Ukraine the United States, together with our Allies and partners, will impose significant, and unprecedented economic costs,” Harris said in a tweet.

Harris is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky later on Saturday, and will also meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, tensions have built up in Eastern Ukraine since Russia’s build-up of around 1,50,000 troops just over the border from the Donbas region in the east in Belarus to the north and Crimea to the south.

Russia claims the surge of forces, which is the biggest build-up of military might in Europe since the Cold War, has always been for military exercises and that it poses no threat to Ukraine or any other nation. (ANI)(instagram)

India reports 34,113 fresh COVID-19 cases, 346 deaths

            

New Delhi [India](ANI): As many as 34,113 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported across the country in the 24-hour period, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday.

A total of 75.18 crore tests have been conducted so far in India, with 10,67,908 tests held in the last 24 hours, as per ministry data.
Country’s active caseload currently stands at 4,78,882, which accounts for 1.12 per cent of total cases.

The daily positivity rate in India has been recorded at 3.19 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 3.99 per cent, as per the bulletin.

A total of 91,930 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours and the cumulative tally of recovered patients since the beginning of the pandemic is now at4,16,77,641, stated the bulletin. India’s recovery rate now stands at 97.68 per cent.

The country reported 346 deaths in the country in the past 24 hours, increasing the total reported death count to 5,09,011.

A total of 1,72,95,87,490 vaccine doses have been administered in the country so far under a nationwide vaccination drive. (ANI)

Rahul Bajaj – the man who put average Indian on two motorised wheels, passes away

             

Pune (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): Rahul Bajaj, the man who made brand Bajaj a household name through scooter models like Chetak and Priya and the ubiquitous Bajaj three-wheeler auto, passed away at 83 on Saturday, nearly a year after stepping down as the non-executive chairman of Bajaj Auto.

A Padma Bhushan-awardee Rahul Bajaj was one of the longest-serving chairmen in corporate India. He breathed his last at Ruby Hall Hospital in Pune.
“Rahul Bajaj died today at 2.30 pm. He died due to heart and lungs problems. He was admitted for past one month in Ruby hall hospital in Pune,” Dr Parvej Grant, chairman of Ruby Hall hospital told ANI.

Rahul Bajaj

“It is with deep sorrow that I inform you about the passing away of Shri Rahul Bajaj, husband of the late Rupa Bajaj and father of Rajiv/Deepa, Sanjiv/Shefali and Sunaina/Manish. He passed away on the afternoon of 12th February, 2022 in the presence of his closest family members,” Bajaj Group said in a statement.

Rahul Bajaj stepped down as non-executive chairman of Bajaj Auto in April 2021, ceding the position to his cousin Niraj Bajaj.

He had stepped down from the executive role of Bajaj Group companies before his election to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, 2006. He served as a member of Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2010.

Rahul Bajaj’s younger son Sanjiv Bajaj has taken over as chairman of both the group’s finance companies – Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Finserv. His elder son Rajiv Bajaj is Managing Director of Bajaj Auto.

Born on June 10, 1938, Rahul Bajaj took over as Chief Executive Officer of Bajaj Auto in 1968 and was appointed as Managing Director of the company in 1972. He stepped down from that position in 2005.

Bajaj also served as president or chairman of several industry bodies. He served as president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) twice – from 1979 to 1980 and again from 1999 to 2000.

He served as Chairman of the erstwhile Indian Airlines from 1986 to 1989. He also served as president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

“Rahul Bajaj strode across the Indian industrial landscape like a colossus. He was among the few stars who created the Indian automotive industry. He was a pioneer who established a culture of quality and technology,” said Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Motor.

Rahul Bajaj held a Bachelors degree in economics, a law degree from Mumbai University and an MBA from Harvard.

Expressing his condolences Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “Rahul Bajaj was the one who put average Indians on two motorised wheels. In his passing away, we have lost a far-sighted and outspoken business leader. My sincere condolences to his family and numerous members of the Bajaj family and Bajaj group of business.”

“Rahul Bajaj was the captain and voice of Indian Industry. He was the doyen of manufacturing and truly the pillar of the auto industry. As Secretary, DIPP interacted with him on several occasions. Admired him for being always frank and fearless. India has lost a Gr8 nation builder,” Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said in a tweet.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also paid his tributes.

“My heartfelt tributes to Rahul Bajajji, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and former chairman of Bajaj. I had a personal relationship with Padma Bhushan awardee Rahulji for many years. Rahul ji, who has led the Bajaj Group for the last five decades, has been instrumental in the industry. May God rest the departed soul and give strength to the family members. Om Shanti,” he said in a tweet.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also condoled the demise of Bajaj.

“The demise of Rahul Bajaj the Chairman emeritus of the Bajaj Group is a loss to India’s business community. My condolences to the bereaved family and the group,” Chouhan said in a tweet.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar also expressed his condolences over Rahul Bajaj’s death.

“I am deeply shocked to learn about the sad demise of Padma Bhushan Shri Rahul Bajaj! The grandson of eminent freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj brought transformation in society especially in poor and middle-class people with his two-wheel technology – a Bajaj Bike!” Pawar tweeted.

“The affordable vehicle increased mobility, eased struggle for getting means of livelihood and became the tool of socio-economic change! We Indians are deeply indebted for his immense contribution to the industry,” he said in another tweet.

“I am grieved with a passing away of my very close friend. India has lost an industrialist, a philanthropist and a lighthouse for young entrepreneurs! Hamara Bajaj,” he said.

Former union minister Praful Patel said that Rahul Bajaj is credited with making the brand Bajaj a household name.

“Saddened by the passing away of renowned industrialist and one of the longest-serving chairman in corporate India, Padma Bhushan Rahul Bajajji. He is credited with making the brand Bajaj a household name. My heartfelt condolences to his family members,” Patel tweeted.

“Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Padma Bhushan Rahul Bajaj. He was among the foremost Business Leaders our nation has seen, and an inspiration to all. We will miss him dearly and his wise counsel,” tweeted Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule. (image -instagram)

IPL 2022: Raina, Steve Smith and Shakib among high-profile names to go unsold in auction

             

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Suresh Raina, Steve Smith, and Shakib Al Hasan were among the high-profile names who went unsold in the Indian Premier League (IPL) mega auction on Saturday.

However, these three names will pop up again in the auction and they might find bidders in the accelerated part of the auction.
India all-rounder Deepak Hooda was sold to Lucknow Super Giants for Rs 5.75 crore while Harshal Patel was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for Rs 10.75 crore.

Nitish Rana was picked up by KKR for Rs 8 crore while West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder was bought by Lucknow Super Giants for Rs 8.75 crore. Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan remained unsold as no franchise showed interest in him.

India batter Manish Pandey was picked by Lucknow Super Giants for Rs 4.6 crore. Windies left-handed batter Shimron Hetmyer was bought by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 8.5 crore. India batter Robin Uthappa was acquired by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for Rs 2 crore.

England opening batter Jason Roy was acquired by Gujarat Titans for Rs 2 crore. Proteas player David Miller went unsold in the auction as there were no takers for him, however, he might be picked up in the accelerated auction which will take place later on.

India opening batter Devdutt Padikkal was sold to Rajasthan Royals for Rs 7.75 crore, while Suresh Raina and Steve Smith went unsold in the auction. West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was picked up by Chennai Super Kings for Rs 4.4 crore.

Earlier in the auction, India opening batter Shikhar Dhawan was acquired by Punjab Kings for Rs 8.25 crore. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was bought by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 5 crore. Australia Test captain Pat Cummins was taken by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for Rs 7.25 crore.

Proteas pacer Kagiso Rabada was acquired by Punjab Kings for Rs 9.25 crore. Kiwi pacer Trent Boult was sold to Rajasthan Royals for Rs 8 crore. Shreyas Iyer was picked up by KKR for Rs 12.25 crore. India pacer Mohammed Shami was picked up by Gujarat Titans for Rs 6.25 crore.

South Africa batter Faf du Plessis was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for Rs 7 crore. Lucknow Super Giants picked up Quinton de Kock for Rs 6.75 crore. Australia opening batter David Warner was picked up by Delhi Capitals for Rs 6.25 crore. (ANI)(image -Instagram)

CIL taking steps to increase coal supply to non-power sector

           

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Coal India Limited (CIL) has sufficient buffer stock and is making efforts to increase coal supply to the non-power sector in view of the increased demand, the Ministry of Coal said on Saturday.

The current supply by Coal India Limited stands at around 3.4 lakh tonnes of coal per day to the non-power sector.
“With more than 37 million tonnes (MTs) of coal at its pitheads CIL aims to further step up supplies to this sector,” the ministry said in a statement.

Coal India Limited’s despatch to the non-power sector (NPS) during the April-January period of 2021-22 at 101.7 million tonnes (MTs) was up by 8.2 per cent compared to 94 MTs in the corresponding period of a standard pandemic free FY 2019-20.

For comparable period of even FY 2018-19, when CIL recorded the highest ever total coal despatch since its inception, supply to the NPS sector grew by 11 per cent over 91.5 MTs, it said.

Growth in supplies to NPS customers was at a higher rate than the supplies to the power sector during this period. In April 2020 to January 2021 period despatch to the NPS segment at 105 MTs was higher by a little over 3 MTs compared to same period of FY’22.

As coal intake for the major part of FY’21, witnessed demand disruption caused by COVID-19, CIL scaled up supplies to the NPS segment. Further, NPS customers also opted to lift higher volumes of coal as CIL’s e-auction sales were capped at notified price for the first half of FY 2021.

The NPS imports around 170 MTs of coal in any given fiscal for blending with domestic coal. But in FY’22 the unusually high international coal prices proved to be a hindrance for importing requisite quantity giving rise to scarcity of coal at their end.

“CIL has sufficient buffer stock to further increase supply to non-power sector,” the Ministry of Coal said.

The current financial year has witnessed an unprecedented surge in power generation, the growth rate being the highest in a decade, necessitating the need to meet the power sector’s coal demand on a national priority. Riding on robust economic recovery total coal-based power generation till January’22 of the fiscal in progress grew by 11.2 per cent on year-on-year. Whereas domestic coal-based generation was up by 17 per cent during this period. Bulk of the coal supply to power sector was met by CIL on priority.

In sharp contrast power generation by 14 imported coal-based power plants was down by 48 per cent during April-January 2021-22. Meeting the resultant generation gap fell on domestic coal-based generators requiring enhanced indigenous coal supply. CIL supplied to the tune of around 20 MTs of this additional demand. In other words, imports were curtailed to that extent.

Despite prioritisation of coal to power sector and facing other challenges, CIL at 101.7 MTs till January FY’22 supplied 97 per cent of same period last year’s quantity to NPS customers, the Ministry of Coal said. (ANI)(image -instagram)

Iran’s daily COVID-19 caseload nears 40,000

                

Tehran [Iran] (ANI/Xinhua): Iran’s Health Ministry on Monday reported 39,819 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country to 6,619,085.

The pandemic has claimed 104 lives in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the virus to 132,934, according to the ministry.
A total of 6,171,587 people have recovered from the disease or have been discharged from hospitals across the country, with 2,615 remaining in intensive care units, it added.

As of Monday, 61,170,578 Iranians had received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 54,561,630 receiving two shots and 19,973,438 receiving three.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has surged in Iran over the past weeks after the first case of the variant was detected in the country on December 19, 2021. (ANI/Xinhua)(image-instagram)

Tamil Nadu to convene special Assembly session to pass another Bill against NEET

          

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India] (ANI): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday held an all-party meeting on the NEET exam issue and said that the state would convene a special assembly session where it would pass another Bill for exemption of NEET exam and send it to Governor RN Ravi for his assent.

He alleged that the Governor didn’t perform his duty by procrastinating on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) Bill passed by the state assembly.
Addressing the all-party meeting at the Secretariat in Chennai, Stalin said, “The Governor had sat on the Bill for 142 days before returning it to the government. I met the governor in person on the NEET exam issue.”

“The Bill was adopted in the assembly keeping in mind the demand of 8 crore people seeking exemption from NEET exam. It was passed unanimously in the state Assembly. I ask you all – representatives of political parties- to give your valuable feedback in today’s all-party meeting. The Governor did not bother to send it to the President for his consent,” the Chief Minister said.

Stalin said that he had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi via a video conferencing meeting when he inaugurated 11 new medical colleges. “I appealed to PM in a virtual meeting when he inaugurated 11 new medical colleges. Now the Governor, after keeping our Bill on his desk for 143 days, sent it back,” said Stalin in the -party meet.

While speaking after the all-party meeting, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said, “Resolution is passed unanimously to send a new Bill again to the Tamil Nadu Governor. Again a new Bill will be passed in a special Assembly session to give exemption to the NEET exam for Tamil Nadu.”

He added, “We expect AIADMK will also participate in the special assembly session since this concerns the people.”

The BJP boycotted the all-party meeting today. BJP’s ally AIADMK also did not participate in all-party meeting. However, AIADMK has released a statement saying that AIADMK is against the NEET exam and will support the Tamil Nadu government on the exemption of NEET in the state.

According to the NEET Bill, students would get an exemption from the NEET exam for the next 10 years. Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi returned the NEET exemption Bill to the assembly Speaker, stating that is beyond the interest of students. (ANI)(image -instagramStaln)

Nothing wrong with name of Jinnah Tower: Guntur Mayor

              

Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Guntur Mayor Kavati Manohar Naidu on Thursday said that there is nothing wrong with the name of Jinnah Tower in Andhra Pradesh, and alleged that the BJP is criticising it for political gain.

Speaking with ANI, Naidu said, “There is nothing wrong with the name of Jinnah Tower. BJP is only making criticism to gain political mileage.”
Following a controversy over the name of Jinnah Tower, it was recently painted in tricolour and arrangements to hoist the national flag were made. Reacting to it, Guntur East MLA Mohammed Musthafa had said that Muslim leaders fought against the Britishers during the freedom struggle.

“After achieving independence, some of the Muslims left the country and settled in Pakistan. But, we wanted to continue in our country as Indians and we love our motherland,” he added.

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party which raised the issue of Jinnah tower earlier last month, Musthafa said, “BJP leaders should participate in helping needy people amid COVID-19 pandemic, instead of provoking communal clashes.”

The Andhra Pradesh unit of BJP submitted a memorandum in December last year to the Guntur Municipal Corporation Commissioner Challa Anuradha requesting to rename Jinnah Tower after the name of former president Abdul Kalam. (ANI)

Military coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau; Gun fighting continues

            

Bissau [Guinea-Bissau](ANI): A coup attempt took place in a small coastal nation in West Africa, Guinea-Bissau on Tuesday as military trucks raced through the streets and civilians fled amid heavy gunfire, reported New York Times.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was deeply concerned with the news of heavy fighting in Bissau and asked for an immediate end to the fighting and for full respect of the country’s democratic institutions.
However, after some hours of the attempted coup, President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo reasserts control and said that the armed personnel were thwarted.

Embalo said that many of his own security forces members were killed in the conflict with possible links to drug trafficking, reported the newspaper.

He termed the attempted coup as a “failed attack against democracy” and said that he could not comment as to how many had been arrested.

“It wasn’t just a coup. It was an attempt to kill the president, the prime minister and the entire cabinet.”, he added.

Notably, Guinea-Bissau has seen a total of four successful coups. The last coup was in 2021.

As far as attempted coups are concerned, perhaps a dozen ones must have been attempted since the small West African nation gained independence from Portugal 48 years ago, reported the newspaper. (ANI)

Union Budget 2022-23: Industry experts welcome govt’s focus on healthcare sector

                

By Shalini Bhardwaj

New Delhi [India]: Welcoming the Union Budget for FY 2022-23, industry experts said the government’s renewed focus on healthcare will build stronger health systems in the country.
Speaking to ANI, Biocon chairman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said, “Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget for FY23 is well balanced with fiscal prudence and ease of doing business as the main themes. I believe the 35 per cent increase in capital expenditure for FY23 is positive and will drive the creation of much-needed infrastructure and jobs. The Finance Minister must also be commended for maintaining the fiscal deficit at 6.9 per cent of GDP in FY22.”

She said the Union Budget focusing on ensuring regulatory ease by promoting digital trust and digital compliance is in the right direction.

“We were expecting some incentives for Pharma R&D (Research and Development) in the Budget as public investment is very low in this critical area of research and innovation, which are key for spurring exponential economic growth. The Finance Minister has assured the government’s support for R&D expenditure in sunrise areas such as drones, artificial intelligence, genomics, space, clean energy etc,” Shaw said.

The Biocon chairman further said, “We will need to see the fine print if there is anything on pharma. The only concern I have is the absence of any fiscal stimulus for the MSME (Medium and Small Scale Enterprises) and Services sector that have borne the brunt of the pandemic with large layoffs and job losses reflected in a sharp drop in rural and semi urban consumption. The government will need to address this urgently. Overall, it was a positive Budget without any negative surprises.”

Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth said the Centre’s focus on health and wellbeing that is has placed the first of its six pillars, is reflected in the Union Budget with the country entering the third year in COVID pandemic.

Referring to the launch of the National Tele Mental Health Programme, Thaploo said it is a welcome move by the government to augment the use of telemedicine services as well as provide support to people with mental health disorders.

National Tele Mental Health Program will include a network of 23 tele mental health Centres of Excellence with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) being the nodal centre and IIIT Bangalore providing technical support.

“An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out and it will further help in strengthening the healthcare services within the country. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities. The increased investment towards health infrastructure and focus on a holistic approach to health is seen as a testimony of the commitment to building stronger health systems in the country,” Thaploo told ANI.

KR Raghunath, senior chairman, Jindal Naturecure Institute also welcomed the much-deserved attention on India’s healthcare sector in the Union Budget 2022-23.

Speaking to ANI, Raghunath said, “We are encouraged by the government’s renewed focus on preventive and curative health as well as the overall wellness and well-being of our citizens. An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will widen access to health and wellness while driving a focus on preventive health.”

“Also, to better the access to quality mental health counseling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program has been announced that will further help in tackling the rising number of mental health disorders in the country. These patient-centered initiatives will play a pivotal role in the success of the National Health Mission,” added Raghunath

Earlier on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the budget 2022-2023 announced the rollout of an open platform for the national health ecosystem.

It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework and universal access to health facilities, she had stated.

Sitharaman began her presentation of Budget 2022 by expressing empathy with those who were affected by the adverse health and economic effects of the COVID pandemic. (ANI)

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

               

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden meets Emir of Qatar, discusses security in Gulf region

               

Washington [US]: US President Joe Biden met Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on Monday where they reaffirmed their mutual interest in promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and broader Middle East region.

Both sides ensured the stability of global energy supplies, supporting the people of Afghanistan, and strengthening commercial and investment cooperation said White House in a statement.
The President and the Emir welcomed the signing of a USD 20 billion deal between Boeing and Qatar Airways Group, which will support tens of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

In recognition of the strategic partnership between the United States and Qatar, which has deepened over the past 50 years, the President informed the Emir of his intention to designate Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally. (ANI-image instagram)

Budget session of Parliament to start

               

New Delhi [India]: The Budget Session of Parliament will begin from today with the address by President Ram Nath Kovind to both Houses in the Central Hall.

On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union budget for the year 2022-23.
The Budget Session of Parliament will commence on Monday and is scheduled to conclude on April 8 wherein the first part of the session will extend up to February 11, said the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Sunday.

“There will be a break from February 12 to March 13 during which the Standing Committees will examine Demands-for-Grants of Ministries/Departments and prepare reports thereon. In all, there will be 29 sittings; ten in the first part and 19 in the second part,” the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s press release stated.

The President will be addressing both the Houses of Parliament assembled together on January 31 at 11 am.

Half-an-hour after President’s Address, the Lok Sabha will sit for the transaction of business.

As per the Secretariat, the Economic Survey 2021-22 will be laid by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in Lok Sabha on January 31, while the Budget will be presented by her on February 1 at 11 am.

From February 2 to February 11, the House is scheduled to sit from 4 pm to 9 pm. Thus, five hours have been scheduled per sitting during the first part of the Budget Session.

“During the first part of the session, the members will be accommodated in Lok Sabha Chamber and its Galleries (except Press Gallery) and Rajya Sabha Chamber and its Galleries (except Press Gallery),” the release informed.

As per the Secretariat, there will be two major items of Business during the first part of the budget session; a discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address and a general discussion on the budget.

“The government has tentatively fixed four days for discussion on Motion of Thanks viz. February 2, 3, 4 and 7,” they informed.

There will be no Zero Hour and Question Hour in both Houses of Parliament during the first two days of the Budget Session.

A Parliament bulletin released on Friday reads, “There shall be no ‘Zero Hour’ on January 31 and February 1, 2022. Members are informed that owing to the address of the President, during the first two days of the 8th session of the 17th Lok Sabha, there will be no ‘Zero Hour’ on January 31 and February 1, 2022.”

It is further added in the bulletin, “Members are informed that matters of urgent public importance raised during ‘Zero Hour’ will be taken up from February 2, 2022. However, it is for information of members that, to raise matters of urgent public importance during ‘Zero Hour’ on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, they may table notices on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, between 10:00 hours and 18:00 hours either online through e-portal or manually in the Parliamentary Notice Office.

During the First Part of the Session after the presentation of the Budget (February 2-11), the release stated, 40 hours of normal time will be available for various Businesses such as Question, Private Members’ Business, Discussion on Motion of Thanks, General Discussion on Union Budget, etc.

“Keeping in view the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic, elaborate arrangements have been made in the Lok Sabha Chamber and other parts of Parliament House Complex,” the release stated.

“To ensure the norms of social distancing, members will be allotted seats in Lok Sabha Chamber (282), Lok Sabha Galleries (except Press Gallery) (148), Rajya Sabha Chamber (60) and Rajya Sabha Gallery (51),” it added.

It was also informed that arrangements have been made for COVID vaccination and testing in the Complex for Members of Parliament and other visitors. (Image -ParliamentDD)

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

           

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPCC chief Revanth Reddy to contest next Assembly elections from Telangana’s Kodangal

               

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], (ANI): Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President and MP A Revanth Reddy on Tuesday announced that he would contest from the Kodangal constituency in the next Assembly elections.

Revanth Reddy while thanking the Congress cadre for achieving membership of 75,000 in the Kodangal constituency said that Kodangal has emerged as an ideal constituency for the Congress party not only in Telangana but in the entire country.
He felicitated the Congress leaders and workers who enrolled more than 500 members in their respective polling booths in a function at Kosgi on Tuesday. He also announced that these activists would also be honoured by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The TPCC Chief said that the previous Congress regime has introduced schemes like crop loan waiver, free electricity for farmers, Aarogyasri, 4 per cent reservation for Muslims, etc.

After getting elected as MLA from Kodangal in 2009, he said he developed temples, schools, roads, 5,000 sub-stations, Kosgi Bus Depot and established a school in Maddur on his own land. He further said he had also brought a junior college in Kodangal, Kosgi and Maddur and a Degree College was established in Kodangal.

The TPCC Chief said not a single person was harassed when he represented Kodangal as MLA for nine years. No one was implicated in false cases.

The TPCC Chief alleged that the followers of TRS MLA attacked a young man in Hakeempet village. Cases of an attempt to murder were booked for a minor incident in Pole Palli. He warned police officials against misusing their powers.-( Image InstagramRR)

He said TRS would not remain in power forever. He warned that the Congress party, after winning the next elections, would not spare police officials who are not targeting Congress workers at the behest of TRS leaders. (ANI)

UNSC uses 3-D virtual diplomacy for the first time

               

New York [US]: Members of the United Nations Security Council went on a virtual field trip to Columbia, listening, watching and getting insights into the peace process and what it looks like in Columbia with the help of Virtual Reality (VR) technology on January 20.

Indian Diplomat and Counselor of the Permanent Mission of India, Prateek Mathur shared that the UNSC in New York used VR technology in its security council session for the first time.
Taking to Twitter, Mathur said, “A proud supporter of using Technology for Peace!. 3-D Virtual Diplomacy in action in #UNSC today. First-ever Security Council session to use a virtual reality #VR experience! Innovative solutions to better understand conflicts, peacekeeping and peace-building.”

“Bringing the Colombian peace process closer to decision-makers in New York today and having Colombian voices heard,” said The United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) in a tweet. (ANI-Image -Instagram)

Japan, France express concern over progress in North Korean missile program

               

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan and France on Friday expressed serious concern over the progress in the North Korean nuclear and missile program and urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps to implement the provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions.

On Thursday, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi held Japan-France 2+2 online meeting with their French counterparts, Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian. The ministers exchanged views on the issues of bilateral security and defense. Following the online talks, a joint statement was released.
“The parties expressed serious concern over the progress of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, in breach of the UN Security Council resolutions. The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the goal of achieving the irreversible and verifiable disposal of all North Korean weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of any range, as well as those related to the military program objects,” the statement said.

The ministers of the two countries also urged Pyongyang to implement targeted policies and take concrete steps to implement the provisions of the UN resolutions.

“The Japanese side also commended France’s efforts to monitor North Korea’s ship-to-ship transfers of goods. Moreover, the ministers called for a speedy resolution of the issue of abducted [Japanese] nationals,” the statement added.

Pyongyang has confirmed it launched on Monday two tactical guided missiles that “precisely hit an island target in the East Sea of Korea.” It became its fourth missile test in a month. On the first two occasions, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested hypersonic missiles. (ANI/Sputnik-image)

Indian stocks tumble for 3rd straight day; Sensex dips 634 points, Nifty down 1.01 per cent

               

Mumbai [India]: The Indian equities markets key indices tumbled for the third straight day on Thursday dragged by heavy selling pressure in IT, financial and energy stocks.

The benchmark Sensex has lost 1,844 points in the last three sessions, while Nifty 50 has slumped 552 points. Negative global cues and a sharp rise in crude oil prices in the international markets have dampened investors’ sentiments.
The 30 stock S&P BSE Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange closed at 59,464.62 points, which is 634.20 points or 1.06 per cent down from its previous day’s close at 60,098.82 points.

The Sensex started the Thursday trade marginally down at 60,045.48 points, which also remained the highest level for the day. The index tumbled to a low of 59,068.31 points in the intra-day.

The index has closed sharply down for the third straight day. The Sensex had lost 656 points and 554 points in the previous two sessions, respectively.

The broader Nifty 50 of the National Stock Exchange closed at 17,757 points, which is 1.01 per cent or 181.40 points down from its previous day’s close at 17,938.40 points.

The Nifty slumped to a low of 17,648.45 points in the intra-day trade. The Nifty has lost 552 points in the last three sessions.

IT stocks witnessed heavy selling pressure for the third straight day. Infosys tumbled 2.33 per cent to Rs 1824.15. TCS slumped 2.25 per cent to Rs 3827.85. HCL Technologies dipped 1.97 per cent to Rs 1175.55.

Bajaj Finserv tumbled 4.57 per cent to Rs 17260.30. Sun Pharma 2.20 per cent down at Rs 819.65; Hindustan Unilever 2.13 per cent down at Rs 2261.60; Dr Reddy’s Laboratories 1.92 per cent down at Rs 4599.35; HDFC 1.90 per cent down at Rs 2568.85 and Reliance Industries 1.69 per cent down at Rs 2478.80 were among the major Sensex losers.

Only seven of the 30 scrips that are part of the Sensex close in the positive. Power Grid Corporation surged 4.86 per cent to Rs 214.60.

Bharti Airtel 1.60 per cent higher at Rs 715.30; Asian Paints 0.81 per cent higher at Rs 3307.70; Maruti Suzuki 0.35 per cent higher at Rs 8036.35 and UltraTech Cement 0.28 per cent higher at Rs 7452.60 were among the major Sensex gainers. (ANI/Image – BSE)

Chennai: No need for lockdown, says TN Health Min Subramanian

             

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India](ANI): Amid the surge in the COVID-19 cases, Tamil Nadu Health Minister MA Subramanian on Tuesday said that there is no need for a lockdown in the state amid rising COVID-19 cases.

“There is no need for full lockdown as of now. CM has asserted that the economy should not be affected, restricted lockdown enough for now,” Subramanian told the media here.
Tamil Nadu reported 13,990 new COVID cases and 11 deaths in the last 24 hours.

According to the state health department, there are currently 62,767 active cases of COVID in Tamil Nadu. As many as 2,547 patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours.

Tamil Nadu government on Monday extended COVID-19 restrictions till January 31 in order to contain the transmission of the virus.

According to the state government circular, devotees will not be allowed in all places of worship between January 14 and January 18. The special inter-district buses for Pongal will run at 75 per cent capacity.

The night curfew will continue in the state is extended till January 31 and will remain effective from 10 pm to 5 am from Mondays to Saturdays. A total lockdown will be in force on January 16 (Sunday), barring essential services.

The direction of the state government comes after Chief Minister MK Stalin chaired a meeting to review the COVID-19 and Omicron situation across Tamil Nadu earlier in the day. However, the state government has allowed Jallikattu with several restrictions. (Image – Unsplash)

Lata Mangeshkar admitted to ICU but Stable for now

               

New Delhi [India]: Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar was recently admitted to a Mumbai hospital after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The veteran singer was admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital on Monday.
“Didi is admitted to ICU after she was diagnosed with COVID-19. Dr Pratik Samdani is treating her and he says that there is nothing serious but she needs to be kept in ICU for precautionary reasons seeing her age. We hope she will recover soon. Please respect our privacy and keep didi in your prayers,” Mangeshkar’s niece Rachna told ANI.

Fondly called ‘Nightingale of India’, the legendary singer has recorded songs in over a thousand Hindi films and has sung many tracks in several Indian languages and foreign languages.

Her iconic songs include ‘Lag Jaa Gale’, ‘Yeh Galiyan Yeh Chaubara’, ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’, ‘Bahon Mein Chale Aao’, ‘Tere Liye’ from ‘Veer Zara’ and many more. (Image source- Instagram)

This is what Nawaz Sharif has to say about Imran Khan

              

Islamabad [Pakistan], (ANI): Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed his party workers to not let Imran Khan off the hook after a report of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) scrutiny committee revealed that PTI has hidden foreign funding worth millions of rupees.

“Do not let (prime minister) Imran Khan off the hook as he has been caught red-handed while stealing money through the party’s foreign funding. His so-called honest image has completely been shattered and he should be exposed before the nation,” Nawaz told a party meeting, which was attended by its central and Punjab leadership, including Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, in Model Town here on Thursday via video link, reported Dawn.
He told the party members to not allow both houses of Parliament to run smoothly until “justice” is served.

According to a party member, Nawaz Sharif told PML-N leaders not to let the subject die down until it reaches its natural conclusion.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been in the UK for ‘medical treatment’ since November 2019, urged the participants to expose Prime Minister Imran Khan’s alleged fraud on all platforms.

The PML-N supreme leader, Shehbaz Sharif, has been told to begin convening workers’ conventions at the district and divisional levels in Punjab, in order to mobilise party members ahead of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM), planned an anti-inflation march on Islamabad in March.

“Don’t let the National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and Senate run smoothly, and aggressively agitate this matter in which the true face of Imran Khan has been exposed,”, he was quoted as saying.

“We don’t have to allow an easy escape to ‘the selected’ on this matter,” he maintained.

According to a party source, taking the case to court was also discussed, but no decision was reached. “The party will first see what action the ECP takes,” he said.

“Nawaz Sharif also directed the party leadership to gear up for a decisive anti-inflation march on Islamabad proposed by the PDM in March. For this purpose, the former PM said workers’ conventions should be held at the district and divisional levels and also re-organisation of the party completed at the district level at the earliest,” an insider said, reported Dawn News.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has also scheduled a long march against the PTI government in Islamabad on February 27.

PMs security breach : NIA constitutes IG-level team

                

New Delhi [India], (ANI): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has constituted an Inspector General (IG) level team to assist the Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure and seize the records related to Prime Minister’s security breach during his visit to Punjab on January 5.

As per a senior NIA official, the anti-terror agency has “nominated Inspector General of Police Santosh Rastogi to assist the Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure and seize the records related to the visit of Prime Minister to Punjab on January 5, 2022, from State and Central Agencies”.
“Director-General NIA issued an order in this regard on Friday,” the officer said, clarifying “there is no probe”.

Sources also said that the team comprises seven other officers, including three Deputy Inspector General level officers.

The move comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the NIA DG Kuldiep Singh to constitute the team. The DG then issued a written order on Friday to form a team.

The officers who will assist Rastogi in the investigation include DIGs Vidhi Kumar Bidhi, Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar and Amit Kumar, Superintendents of Police Amit Singh, Tejinder Singh and Shankar B Raimedhi.

The development comes hours after the MHA constituted three-member committee summoned Punjab Police Director General Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, Punjab ADGP, Patiala IGP and Ferozpur DIG along with over a dozen top Punjab Police officers who were responsible for the Prime Minister’s security during his visit to Punjab’s Ferozpur on January 5.

The MHA on Thursday constituted a three-member committee led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat; Balbir Singh, Joint Director (IB); and S. Suresh, IG, Special Protection Group.

The Centre is considering action under the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act against Punjab Police officers following the breach in the security of Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Punjab on January 5.

Section 14 of the SPG Act makes the state government responsible for providing all assistance to the SPG during the PM’s movement.

The provision, titled ‘Assistance to Group’, states: “It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of the Central Government or the State Government or the Union Territory Administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority or every civil or military authority to act in aid of the Director or any member of the Group whenever called upon to do so in furtherance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such Director or member.”

The MHA’s three-member team started its probe on Friday from its visit at the flyover where Prime Minister’s convoy was stuck for over 15-20 minutes due to a road blockade by protesters during his visit.

The MHA on Thursday constituted the three-member committee to enquire into the serious lapses in the security arrangements during PM’s visit to Punjab’s Ferozepur on Wednesday, which led to the exposure of the VVIP to grave security risk.

Home Ministry Spokesperson in a Tweet on Thursday had informed about the formation of the three-member committee which is advised to submit the report at the earliest.

The move comes after the Home Ministry on Wednesday also sought a detailed report from the Punjab government over the security lapse and asked it “to fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The Home Ministry in a statement had then informed that it has asked the state government to “fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The action was taken after the Prime Minister’s convoy during its visit to National Martyrs Memorial in Punjab reached a flyover where the road was blocked by some protestors.

The Prime Minister was stuck on the flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister.

The Punjab government has also constituted a high-level committee to probe the incident.

Prime Minister Modi landed at Bathinda on January 5 morning from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter.

Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out, said a Home Ministry statement issued then.

“When the weather did not improve, it was decided that he would visit the National Martyrs Memorial via road, which would take more than two hours,” the statement said.

PM then proceeded to travel by road after necessary confirmation of necessary security arrangements by the DGP Punjab Police, mentions the statement.

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

“The Prime Minister was stuck on a flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the Prime Minister,” reads the statement.

The Home Ministry then said that the Prime Minister’s schedule and travel plan was communicated well in advance to the Punjab government.

As per procedure, the Home Ministry said, they have to make necessary arrangements for logistics, security as well as keep a contingency plan ready.

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

Goa plans??? first read this!

                

Goa (Panaji) [India], (ANI): Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that public gatherings in the poll-bound coastal state has been limited to 100 people in outdoor venues and 50 per cent of the sitting capacity or maximum 100 in cases of indoor venues.

“Maximum 100 people will be allowed at the venue at any one point in time. However, people coming in and going out of the venue will not be counted to calculate the capacity limit,” said Sawant.
The restrictions have been imposed to prevent large gatherings in marketplaces, public meetings, political meetings, beaches, etc.

“The restrictions will continue till January 26 and will be reviewed depending on the pandemic situation in the state,” added Sawant.

Meanwhile, Goa government has decided not to impose night curfew in the state for now.

A total of 1432 new COVID-19 cases has been reported in Goa in the last 24 hours, as per a health bulletin by the state government issued on Friday.

A total of 6,295 samples were tested during the last 24 hours.

As many as 112 people recovered from the infection, taking the total number of recoveries in the state to 1,76,737.

A total of 3,530 deaths have been reported in the state so far, with two deaths being reported during the last 24 hours. There are currently 5931 active COVID-19 cases in the state.

Gujarat HC to function in virtual mode for now

                

Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], (ANI): In view of rising cases of COVID-19, Gujarat High Court on Friday said that it will function in virtual mode till further orders.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are 14,346 active COVID cases in the state presently.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat government on Friday announced a night curfew between 10 pm and 6 am in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Anand, and Nadiad.

As per the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), all political/social programs, weddings will have a maximum gathering of 400 people in open and that of 50 per cent of space capacity in closed venues. Only 100 persons have been allowed in funerals.

“Shops, spas, shopping complexes, hotels and restaurants, with 75 per cent capacity, to function till 10 pm. 75 per cent capacity approved in government/private AC non-buses, 50 per cent capacity approved in cinema halls, gyms, swimming pools, libraries, etc. Educational institutions closed till Jan 31,” Gujarat CMO informed.

Sonu Sood steps down as Punjab’s ‘State Icon’

               

New Delhi [India], (ANI): Ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections, Bollywood actor Sonu Sood on Friday has “voluntarily” stepped down as the “State Icon” of Punjab.

Known for his philanthropic efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sood shared that the decision was taken “mutually” by him and the Election Commission. This move comes ahead of the state elections.
He took to his Twitter handle and wrote, “Like all good things, this journey has come to an end too. I’ve voluntarily stepped down as the State Icon of Punjab. This decision was mutually taken by me and EC in light of my family member contesting in Punjab Assembly Elections. I wish them luck for future endeavours.”

Earlier today, the Election Commission had announced on Twitter that it has withdrawn the 48-year-old actor’s appointment as Punjab’s state icon.

He had said in November that his sister, Malvika Sood, will contest the upcoming Punjab polls.

The decision came after his relentless work throughout the lockdown in helping migrant workers across the country get home safely. Apart from that, he had also donated food, shelter and PPE kits to those who needed them.

In November, the actor had said that his sister, Malvika Sood, would contest the Punjab polls from Moga but he was tight-lipped about the party.

In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats. (ANI)

6.9 magnitude quake hits China’s Qinghai

             

Beijing [China], 8 (ANI): A 6.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Menyuan county in northwest China’s Qinghai Province on Saturday (local time), local media reported citing China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The epicenter was monitored at 37.77 degrees north latitude and 101.26 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 10 km at 1:45 am (Beijing Time), as per Xinhua News Agency.

heavy snowfall in Sringar

              

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], (ANI): As Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar received heavy snowfall on Friday, people shared their experiences.

Speaking to ANI, Mohammad Nazim, who is enjoying snowfall, said this is truly amazing. The snowfall is the beauty of Kashmir.
“It is amazing, snowfall is the beauty of Kashmir and I am enjoying this,” Nazim said.

Another resident Ishfaq said, when it comes to snowfall, it is very good for Kashmir. It not only attacks tourism but also helps in economic activity.

“Snowfall in Kashmir attacks tourism, people like to visit in the place during snowfall,” he said.

The weather department had predicted that the intensity of Snowfall and rainfall in parts of Jammu and Kashmir are likely to increase on Friday and Saturday.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that intensity of the ongoing snowfall at Jammu and Kashmir’s Gulmarg, Pahalgam and light rain at scattered places is expected to increase “as the day progresses” and on Saturday resulting in heavy rain/snow in the Union Territory. (ANI)

Priyanka Gandhi to kickstart virtual campaign in UP

               

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], (ANI): After the Uttar Pradesh Congress called off its rallies and woman’s marathons in the poll-bound state due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is set to launch virtual campaign from today.

According to the sources, Priyanka will be addressing the “Ladki hun Lad Sakti hun” campaign through the social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube where she will be interacting with the public by taking questions from them.
UP Congress had on Wednesday announced postponing the woman marathons and other political events due to the rise in COVID cases. Priyanka Gandhi had pushed for this in the internal meeting of the state Congress, after which it was unanimously decided by the leaders to call off the political gatherings for 15 days due to the increasing COVID-19 cases.

According to a source in the UP Congress, there were other rallies scheduled to be addressed by Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel and a Yuva Samvad program which was to be addressed by Congress leader Sachin Pilot had also been postponed.

Now, apart from the virtual campaign by the senior leaders, it is being planned that Congress will shift to corner meetings and door-to-door campaigns at the village levels.

Uttar Pradesh is slated to go to the Assembly polls this year.

185 persons tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID-19 at LNJP till date

              

New Delhi [India]: As many as 410 air passengers have arrived at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP Hospital) from December 1, 2021, till the date of which 185 passengers tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaking to ANI, LNJP Hospital MD, Dr Suresh Kumar said, “From December 1 till now, we have received 410 air passengers. Of these, 185 passengers tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID. All Omicron patients recovered without Oxygen. The rapid rise in cases is a big challenge for healthcare workers.”
Earlier it was reported that, as many as 20 healthcare workers of Delhi’s LNJP hospital tested positive for COVID-19, confirmed Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital on Thursday.

In a conversation with ANI, Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital said, “Total 20 health care workers here have got COVID-19 infection, out of whom 11 are doctors, 8 are nurses and one is a sanitation worker. This is a matter of concern because if only our doctors and nurses are safe, we will be able to take care of the patients. If our workforce gets affected, then it may affect our fight against COVID-19.”

“We have hired 25 per cent extra staff to cater to all the patients,” added Dr Kumar. There are a total of 4,000 healthcare workers in LNJP Hospital. “People who have taken both doses of vaccine are also dying of COVID-19.”

According to the LNJP MD, a large number of healthcare workers are now testing COVID-19 positive in Delhi’s largest COVID hospital, LNJP Hospital.

Meanwhile, Delhi continues to witness a surge in the COVID-19 cases as the national capital reported on Thursday 15,097 fresh cases of the infection in the last 24 hours pushing the positivity rate to 15.34 per cent. According to the bulletin issued by the state health department on Thursday, the number of active cases in the city stands at 31,498. The total count of cases has now gone up to 14,89,463.

Calcutta HC on municipal corporation polls

               

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Calcutta High Court on Friday asked West Bengal State Election Commission to submit an affidavit to inform whether the four municipal corporation elections can be conducted or not on January 22.

The next hearing will be on January 11 on the subject.
Earlier on December 23, the State Election Commission informed the Calcutta High Court that it is ready to hold polls in the remaining municipal corporations.

There are seven municipal corporations in West Bengal namely Asansol Municipal Corporation, Bidhan Nagar Municipal Corporation, Chandernagore Municipal Corporation, Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Howrah Municipal Corporation, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

Officials, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The State Election Commission informed Calcutta High Court today that it is ready to hold the polls in remaining municipal corporations. The proposed dates for the next phase is on January 22 in Asansol, Howrah, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and others. The other phase will be held on February 27 for the remaining municipalities.”

In December 2021, voting for 144 wards of Kolkata Municipal polls was held on December 19 and the results were declared on December 21.

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

                

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bangladesh suffers huge loss due to China

            

Dhaka [Bangladesh]: Some Chinese companies are involved in printing and supplying counterfeit documents in Bangladesh, causing huge losses to the government exchequer.

Although the Bangladeshi port authorities suspect the involvement of other Chinese companies in such illegal activities, they were apparently reluctant to take action due to ‘pressure’ from senior officials, reported Bangladesh Live News.
Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has risen in recent years and it is estimated at about 3.5% of global trade by OECD.

The World Customs Organization estimates that 65 % of all counterfeit shipments globally originate from mainland China.

According to OECD, trade-in fake goods which infringe on trademarks and copyrights, creates profits for organized gangs at the expense of companies and governments.

Chinese companies are notorious for faking branded products.

Global Alliance for Tax Justice says, Bangladesh loses USD 143.96 million in tax income each year, or BD Taka 1235 crore, due to global tax evasion by multinational firms and rich people, reported Bangladesh Live News.

Despite the fact that the Chinese business had reported the cargo to the Bangladeshi company to include Art/A4 size sheets, it was discovered that they were selling counterfeit band rolls/ stamps. This resulted in fraudulent tax avoidance of over BD Taka 250 crore.

Bandrolls are produced by the Bangladeshi government’s Security Printing Corporation, and cigarette/bidi firms are required to purchase them by paying tax/VAT, also known as cigarette tax.

The National Board of Money (NBR) generates revenue by selling these stamps / bandrolls, and no one else is permitted to purchase them other than from NBR. A bandroll is a narrow, thin ribbon that is wound around a packet of Bidi and Cigarettes. Certain corporate firms appear to have been obtaining the same from China.

According to reports, the Chittagong Customs House Port Control Unit (PCU) recently revealed that a Chinese business located in Shenzhen, ‘Digit Anti Fake Company Ltd’ (DAFC), had sold counterfeit band rolls/stamps to Chittagong-based Arafat Enterprise, said the news portal.

DAFC is also accused of printing various fake documents like passports, voting papers, national identity cards, birth registration certificates, and so on. Bangladeshi officials discovered a DAFC-run website that mentioned bandroll and said, “Bangladesh’s National Board of Revenue, Customs Paid.”

Significantly, following the consignment’s capture in Chittagong, the Chinese business has taken down its website, which featured a variety of fraudulent papers.

Counterfeit and pirated products commerce has increased in recent years, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimating that it accounts for around 3.5 per cent of global trade.

Counterfeit goods, which infringe on trademarks and copyrights, generates revenues for organised gangs at the expense of businesses and governments, according to the OECD. Chinese firms are well-known for imitating trademark goods.

Study finds intense meditation may boost immunity

             

Florida [US] ;According to a study conducted by the University of Florida, eight days of intense meditation causes robust activation of the immune system.

The study has been published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal’.
The findings are believed to be the first comprehensive genomic study of how meditation affects the biological processes directly involved in disease development. At the heart of the research is Inner Engineering practices, which are meditation and yoga programs that emphasize inner well-being.

While the positive effects of meditation are well documented, far less is known about its molecular and genetic effects, said Vijayendran Chandran, PhD, an assistant professor of paediatrics and neuroscience in the UF College of Medicine.

Chandran’s interest in the molecular roots of Inner Engineering actually started with some prodding by his wife — and a dose of healthy scepticism. Just try it for 48 days, she said. He did so for about 21 minutes a day.

“I tried it and it worked really well. I just felt great,” Chandran said.

That also awoke his scientific curiosity: How exactly did Inner Engineering practices benefit the body? To establish their findings, Chandran and his collaborators studied the genetic profiles of 388 samples obtained from 106 people before and after an April 2018 advanced Inner Engineering retreat at the Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences in McMinville, Tennessee. The retreat was tightly controlled: Participants remained silent for eight days, meditated for more than 10 hours a day, ate vegan meals, and followed a regular sleep schedule.

Blood samples from retreat participants were collected five to eight weeks in advance, then just before and after the retreat as well as three months later. The genomic analysis ultimately found several immune-related and other cellular pathways were altered after the meditation retreat.

Strikingly, they found increased post-retreat activity in 220 genes directly related to the immune response. That included heightened activity in 68 genes associated with interferon signalling, a key part of the body’s anti-virus and anti-cancer responses. They also established that the enhanced immune system after the retreat is primarily due to meditation and not diet, sleep patterns, or gender differences.

Chandran, whose research specialties include bioinformatics and “big data” analysis, had more than 70 million data points from the blood samples. Like a police detective following a trail of evidence, Chandran let the data be his guide.

“What we found was that multiple genes related to the immune system were activated — dramatically — when you do Inner Engineering practices,” Chandran said.

The increased gene activity among interferon-signalling genes is particularly significant, according to Chandran. Interferon proteins rally other parts of the immune system to defend against viruses and several recent studies have shown that interferon signalling is imbalanced in patients with severe COVID-19. Essentially, meditation used a coordinated network of core genes and regulators to unleash a positive effect on the immune system, the researchers found.

“This is the first time anyone has shown that meditation can boost your interferon signalling. It demonstrates a way to voluntarily influence the immune system without pharmaceuticals,” he said.

The researchers reported that the findings also have potential implications for many immune-related conditions such as COVID-19 and multiple sclerosis. While meditation boosted activity in the 68 interferon-related genes, patients with severe COVID-19 have the opposite problem: a dearth of interferon activity that inhibits virus-fighting.

When researchers compared interferon gene activity in the retreat participants and severely ill COVID-19 patients, the differences were stark. Meditation activated 97 per cent of interferon-response genes, compared with 76 per cent gene activation in mild COVID-19 patients and 31 per cent in severe COVID-19 cases.

They also observed the opposite trend for inflammation-signalling genes, where they saw significantly high levels of inflammatory genes in severe COVID-19 patients, compared with mildly ill patients, and no change in inflammatory genes after meditation. Likewise, meditation produced beneficial gene activity comparable to conventional interferon treatments given to multiple sclerosis patients. Taken together, the findings supported the idea that meditation contributed to potentially improving multiple health conditions, the researchers concluded.

While the findings are intriguing, Chandran also said that the beneficial gene-activity effects need further study, including replication in a randomized clinical trial. It could also be helpful to determine if a less intense meditation regimen in the long term might produce similar beneficial immune-system effects, he said.

Research funding was provided by the UF Department of Pediatrics. Collaborators from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the University of Louisville, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center contributed to the research.

MEA appoints TCS as service provider for upgraded Passport Seva Programme

             

New Delhi [India] The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) signed an agreement for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme with Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) appointing them as the service provider for the project on Friday.

“The Ministry of External Affairs today signed an agreement for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-V2.0) with M/s. Tata Consultancy Services Limited, our valued partner, appointing them as the Service Provider for the project,” the ministry said in a press release.
The Ministry also said that the issuance of e-Passports for enhanced customer satisfaction, increased security and the next level of citizen experience will also be unveiled in the upgraded PSP-V 2.0.

The PSP-V2.0 is an expansion and improvement of the PSP-V1.0, an e-Government tool that brought new changes to the delivery of passport-related services to individuals.

The emphasis was on a fast, transparent, more accessible, and dependable platform that residents could utilise comfortably through simplified processes and a dedicated team.

The project will support services such as citizen interface, technological backbone, contact centres, training, and change management.

The Government, on the other hand, will continue to perform all sovereign and security-related tasks in the passport issuance process.

Across the country, the number of public dealing offices has increased. In every Lok Sabha constituency where a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Post Office Passport Seva Kendra does not exist, the Ministry is trying to open a Seva Kendra (POPSK). 93 PSKs, 428 POPSKs, and 36 Passport Offices are now active, the ministry said.

The use of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Chat-Bot, Analytics, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), etc. will help ease the citizen experience and expeditious service delivery.

Pakistan’s progress at stake due to economic stagnation

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delhi govt makes operational Shehnai Banquet Hall as COVID care centre with 100 oxygen beds

             

New Delhi [India], : In view of the rising cases of COVID, the Delhi government made operational once again the Shehnai Banquet Hall as COVID care centre opposite the LNJP Hospital.

The government is making the COVID care centres operational in the national capital one by one as the number of cases are rising every day.
The organization “Doctors for You” is running several COVID care centres in the national capital on behalf of the Delhi government.

Dr Shubhangi, associated with Doctors for You, told ANI, “This is a 100 bedded COVID care centre. All the beds here are oxygen beds. Double arrangements are being made for oxygen as compared to beds. There are 100 concentrators and 100 oxygen cylinders at the centre.”

“Since there is no oxygen plant here, we will admit only patients with mild symptoms as there is no facility of high flow oxygen. Our Covid care centre is attached with LNJP hospital. If there is a demand for ICU or ventilator for anyone, then they will be referred to LNJP. We will admit patients with oxygen saturation level 92 to 95,” added Dr Shubhangi.

Delhi continues to witness a surge in the COVID-19 cases as the national capital reported 15,097 fresh cases of the infection in the last 24 hours pushing the positivity rate to 15.34 per cent.

According to the bulletin issued by the state health department on Thursday, the number of active cases in the city stands at 31,498. The total count of cases has now gone up to 14,89,463.

With six COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the death tally has gone up to 25,127.

Meanwhile, 6,900 people recovered from the infection. With this, the recovery tally in the capital city now stands at 14,32,838.

As many as 1,091 people who have been tested positive for COVID-19 are hospitalized.

In the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, 1,41,498 eligible beneficiaries were vaccinated in the last 24 hours. Of these, 36,559 were beneficiaries of the age group 15-17 years.

Delhi has been witnessing a rise in infections following the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron. In view of the rising cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has decided to impose a weekend curfew in the national capital.

Dean Elgar credits ‘impressive’ bowling performance for SA win over India

            

Johannesburg [South Africa]): South Africa skipper Dean Elgar lavished praise on the Proteas bowlers after a historic win over India in the second Test on Thursday.

Elgar played a captain’s knock scoring an unbeaten 96 to take the hosts to a 7-wicket win levelling the 3-match series 1-1 against India.
“I don’t know what’s the right or wrong way in winning a cricket match, but it’s all about doing the basics right. We ticked a lot of boxes right to make it 1-1,” said Elgar in the post-match press conference.

“We now go to Cape Town with plenty of confidence – it wasn’t easy, the batters were determined. but credit to our bowlers, the effort they put in was very impressive,” he added.

Skipper Elgar notched up a gritty half-century with a boundary. He along with Rassie van der Dussen struck a fifty-run partnership and also took the team’s total beyond the 140-run mark which meant that the hosts needed less than 100 runs to win with 8 wickets in hand.

The South Africa skipper was happy with the batting performance and he feels the hosts have found the right combination ahead of the third Test.

“When you perform like this over the period of four days, it does make you forget the pain in doing so. A lot of test for our batters, we have struggled to find the right batting line-up, find the people for the right roles, entrust the people into their roles and to bat in such a way in not so easy conditions pleases you a lot,” said Elgar.

“The way he batted (Rassie van der Dussen), he will go a long way in his career, the way he batted (during his knock of 40) will set him up in the future,” he added.

India and South Africa will now lock horns in the third Test from January 11.

“Not exactly sure what will happen in CT, played a domestic game there, interesting to see what kind of a surface they’ll give us. 1-1, South Africa v India, going into the final Test all square, we couldn’t have written a better script,” Elgar concluded. (ANI)

Chinese national pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets: US Justice Dept

             

Washington [US]): A Chinese national pleaded guilty in a US court to stealing trade secrets from Monsanto agribusiness corporation to benefit Beijing, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday (local time).

“Xiang Haitao, 44, a Chinese national formerly residing in Chesterfield, Missouri, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit economic espionage,” the Justice Department said.
“According to court documents, Xiang conspired to steal a trade secret from Monsanto, an international company based in St. Louis, for the purpose of benefitting a foreign government, namely the People’s Republic of China,” it added.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said: “Despite Xiang’s agreements to protect Monsanto’s intellectual property and repeated training on his obligations to do so, Xiang has now admitted that he stole a trade secret from Monsanto, transferred it to a memory card and attempted to take it to the People’s Republic of China for the benefit of Chinese government.”

While US Attorney Sayler Fleming for the Eastern District of Missouri said: “Mr Xiang used his insider status at a major international company to steal valuable trade secrets for use in his native China.”

Xiang, who was then living in the US state of Missouri, was employed by Monsanto and its subsidiary, The Climate Corporation, from 2008 to 2017 as an imaging scientist before quitting his job and buying a one-way ticket to China.

Federal officials searched the Chinese national at a US airport in June 2017 and discovered copies of a Monsanto proprietary algorithm, which is considered a trade secret and intellectual property, in an electronic device as he was waiting to board a flight to China, the release said.

Xiang continued his trip to China where he worked for the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Soil Science, but he was arrested when he returned to the United States, the release said.

Xiang will be sentenced on April 7. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a potential 5 million US dollars fine. (ANI)

Amit Shah writes to MPs; seeks suggestions for amendment to IPC, CrPC, Indian Evidence Act

              

New Delhi [India]: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has written to MPs, seeking their suggestions regarding amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act at the earliest.

Shah, in a letter to MPs, said that the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with its mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwan, Sabka Prayas,’ is committed to ensure speedy justice to all the citizens of India, especially those belonging to the weaker and backward sections, in conformity with these constitutional and democratic aspirations.
The Government of India has resolved to make comprehensive changes in the framework of criminal laws, he said.

“The experience of seven decades of Indian democracy calls for comprehensive review of our criminal laws, especially the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872 and adapt them in accordance with the contemporary needs and aspirations of our people,” Shah’s letter to the MPs read.

Further, the Home Minister said that the Centre intends to create a “people-centric legal structure”.

Requesting suggestions from Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of High Courts, Chief Minister of States, Administrator of Union Territories, Bar Councils and Law Universities to send their suggestions, Shah said, “The endeavour of bringing about a paradigm shift in the criminal justice system by the Government of India will actually be an enormous exercise of public participation, which can only be successful with the participation of all stakeholders.”

“The Ministry of Home Affairs intends to make comprehensive amendments in criminal laws after receiving suggestions from various stakeholders,” he added.

Pressing the importance of Parliament as one of the three pillars of democracy, Shah said that a Member of Parliament has a significant role in law making process.

“The suggestions from Members of Parliament will be invaluable in this exercise of comprehensive amendments in criminal laws,” Shah said. (ANI)

PM’s decision to take road journey to Hussainiwala was not part of his original schedule: Surjewala

            

New Delhi [India]: Hours after a security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala on Wednesday slammed BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda and asked him to introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude.

The Congress leader said that the reason for canceling the rally is that there were no crowds to listen to PM Modi.
Taking to Twitter, Surjewala said to Nadda, “Dear Naddaji, Stop losing cool and all sense of propriety. Please remember–1. 10,000 security personnel were deployed for PM’s Rally. 2. All arrangements were made in tandem with SPG and other agencies. 3. Route was carved even for all buses of BJP workers from Haryana/Rajasthan.”

Randeep Singh Surjewala said that PM’s decision to take a road journey to Hussainiwala was not a part of his original schedule.

“4. PM decided to take a road journey to Hussainiwala. It was not part of his original schedule to travel by road. 5. Kisan mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) has been protesting against PM’s visit and Union Minister, Gajendra Shekhawat has held two rounds of negotiation with them,” the Congress leader said.

Surjewala, who is also a member of the Congress working committee highlighted reasons for the protests by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee.

He tweeted, “6. Do u know why KMSC and Farmers are protesting against PM Modi? Their demands are -: * Sack MoS Home, Ajay Misra Teni. * Withdraw criminal cases against farmers in Haryana, Delhi, and UP. * Compensation for kin of 700 Farmers who died. * Committee on MSP and a quick decision.”

“7. Post Farmer’s agitation, Modi government chose to totally ignore these promises. 8. Finally, the reason for canceling the rally is that there were no crowds to listen to Modiji. Stop blame game and introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude. Hold rallies but listen to Farmers first!,” he tweeted.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday sought a detailed report from the Punjab government regarding the security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state. The state government has also been asked to “fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The action was taken after the Prime Minister’s convoy during his visit to National Martyrs Memorial in Punjab via road reached a flyover where the road was blocked by some protestors. The Prime Minister was stuck on the flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the PM.

Prime Minister Modi landed at Bathinda this morning from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter.

Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out, said a Home Ministry statement. (ANI)

Telangana reports 1,052 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

               

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Telangana reported 1,052 COVID-19 positive cases and two deaths on Tuesday.

The state reported 10 new Omicron cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total cases of the new variant of COVID-19 to 94, informed the Telangana government.
Out of the 94 cases of Omicron reported, 37 have recovered till now. The number of recoveries recorded on Tuesday stood at 240 taking the cumulative recoveries to 6,75,132.

The death toll due to COVID-19 stood at 4,033 while the cumulative COVID-19 positive cases stood at 6,84,023.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Telangana government announced that schools and educational institutions in the state will remain closed from January 8 to January 16.

This decision was taken at a meeting convened by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to review the pandemic situation in view of the COVID-19 cases rising sharply in Telangana.

The Chief Minister in the meeting had directed State Health Minister Harish Rao and medical officers to strengthen all types of infrastructure in government hospitals in the state and equip existing beds, oxygen beds, medicines and testing kits as required in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.

The Chief Minister also told people not to panic about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and urged them to be constantly vigilant and take self-control measures. He called on the people to remain vigilant at work and wear masks and abide by the COVID-19 rules issued by the government. (ANI)

Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone enjoy intimate meal on New Year’s eve

               

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, who is currently on a New Year vacation with his wife Deepika Padukone, on Friday shared a glimpse from their intimate meal.

The ‘Padmaavat’ actor took to his Instagram handle and shared a short monochrome clip in which Deepika could be seen eating her food. “#happynewyear,” he wrote in the caption.
“Having fun baby?” Ranbir could be heard asking. Replying to him she quirkily said, “We here to enjoy, what else we here for?” In the clip, Deepika looked stunning in an off-shoulder dress paired with a necklace.

Before leaving for their annual vacation, the couple was spotted at the Mumbai airport. As per reports, Deepika and Ranveer have jetted off to the Maldives.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Ranveer’s ’83’ was released a few days ago, while Deepika is waiting for the release of ‘Gehraiyaan’.

Amit Shah to address BJP rally in Ayodhya today

              

New Delhi [India]: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Ayodhya on Friday to address a public rally at GIC ground under Ayodhya Sadar Assembly seat.

At 10:15 AM, Shah will visit Shri Hanumangarhi Temple in Ayodhya. After this, at 10:30 am, he will visit Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Temple in Ayodhya.
At noon today, Shah will address a public meeting in Ayodhya (Rural), the official Twitter handle of the Bharatiya Janata Party informed on Thursday.

After this, the Union Home Minister is scheduled to hold a public meeting program at 2 pm at Sant Kabir Nagar in Gorakhapur. Following this, at 4:00 pm, Shah will hold a roadshow in Bareilly and will address an Organizational meeting in Bareilly at 7 PM.

This visit by the Union Minister holds importance ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

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.

India reports 13,154 new COVID-19 cases, Omicron tally surges to 961

               

New Delhi [India]: India has reported 13,154 new COVID-19 cases and 268 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The tally of Omicron COVID-19 variant cases in the country has gone up to 961 with maximum cases were reported from Delhi (263) and Maharashtra (252).
With this, the country’s COVID-19 tally has risen to 34,822,040 while the death toll has mounted to 4,80,860.

The ministry informed that the active caseload in the country stands at 82,402 constituting 0.24 per cent of the total cases.

As many as 7,486 patients recovered in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 3,42,58,778.

The recovery rate in the country currently stands at 98.38 per cent.

The weekly positivity rate in the country is 0.76 per cent which remains lesser than 1 per cent for the last 46 days.

The daily positivity rate is 1.10 per cent which remains lesser than 2 per cent for the last 87 days.

The country has conducted as many as 67.64 crore COVID-19 tests so far.

Coming Soon: First look of Mohanlal from ‘Bro Daddy’ unveiled

              

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, on Wednesday, treated fans with his first look from his film ‘Bro Daddy’.

The poster features decked-up Mohanlal and Prithviraj Sukumaran standing on the staircase.

Sharing the poster, Mohanlal wrote, “Here is the official first look poster of #BroDaddy #ComingSoon.”

Mohanlal’s look has received huge praises from the netizens.

“Killer look,” a fan commented.

“Super hot. Love this look,” another one wrote.

‘Bro Daddy’ is Prithviraj Sukumaran’s second directorial. The movie will be out on Disney+Hotstar.

Meena, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Unni Mukundan, Lalu Alex, Murali Gopy, Kaniha, and Soubin Shahir are also a part of ‘Bro Daddy’.

Telangana Governor urges people to take 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccines

              

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Telangana Governor Tamilisai Sounderrajan has congratulated the state on achieving 100 per cent first dose vaccination and urged people to take the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

On completion of 100 per cent vaccination of the COVID-19 first doses in Telangana, Governor visited Chintalbasti Urban Primary Health Center (UPHC) in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Addressing media persons yesterday, the Governor said: “Telangana has completed 100 per cent first dose vaccination and 65 per cent second dose vaccination. I appeal to the people to take the second dose of vaccination also. Just a single dose is not enough and the people have to take a second dose too. Now we have entered the era of taking booster dose.”

Expressing her happiness at the Telangana State achieving 100 per cent first dose vaccination, she congratulated and lauded the efforts of the State government, officials, doctors, ASHA workers, and other para-medical staff for achieving this remarkable feat.

Soundararajan also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supplying an adequate number of vaccine doses to the State.

She further emphasised adhering to the COVID-appropriate behaviour to contain the spread of the pandemic escalated due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

“Apart from vaccination we need to be very cautious about the omicron, in Africa, the health workers have completed only 4 per cent of vaccination and even Health Minister Harish Rao mentioned unvaccinated people are seriously affected. In Puducherry, people are affected intensively. ,” she added.

Telangana Governor also appealed to people not to be reckless even after taking vaccination and appealed to the people to follow corona protocols to celebrate New Year.

AFSPA Debate: Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland for 6 months

New Delhi [India]: The Centre on Thursday extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 or AFSPA in Nagaland for another six months, mentioning that the state is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

The announcement was made through a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs amid calls from the Northeastern state to withdraw it after the alleged botched security operation near Oting Village in Nagaland’s Mon district that left 14 civilians and one jawan dead on December 4.
“Whereas the Central Government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the state of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary,” the notification said.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No.28 of 1958) the Central Government hereby declares that whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2021 for the purpose of the said Act,” it mentioned.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 provides certain special powers to a member of the Armed Forces in areas in the Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The powers were also extended to forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir as well.

Interestingly, the law was first introduced by the British to suppress the Quit India movement in 1942.

AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed “disturbed”. In a ‘disturbed area,’ a military officer can fire upon an unlawful assembly of five or more people if the need arises or even for illegal possession of firearms.

Moreover, according to the law, no arrest and search warrants are required for any operation.

It also provides protection to persons acting under Act, which means ‘No prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act’. (ANI)

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

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

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

Auli receives heavy snowfall third time in this season

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

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

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

Legendary cricketer Yuvraj Singh launches his premium NFT collection with Colexion

  • Colexion will drop warrior NFT of Yuvraj priced at $40 each.
  • 2500 copies will be made accessible to fans all across the globe
  • Colexion has once again introduced a premium yet affordable NFT collection.

After successfully launching NFTs of renowned celebrities from the art and sports fraternity, Colexion has yet again come up with an exclusive NFT drop of legendary cricketer Yuvraj Singh. With his very own digital avatar in a metaverse, the profound cricketer has entered into the digital space with the launch of non-fungible tokens dedicated to his beloved fans.

Allowing his fans to witness some historical moments, Yuvraj Singh has launched his warrior NFT at $40. This affordable yet premium NFT drop is garnering much interest from the people who have supported their favorite star throughout. Colexion is also witnessing a tremendous response for their latest trump card edition. As many as 30 celebrities from the field of music, cricket, and Bollywood have launched their digital collectibles on December 12 on Colexion. The NFT marketplace has also launched a one-of-its-kind virtual museum featuring the groundbreaking journey of Yuvraj and his premium NFT collection gaining traction from audiences across the globe.

Yuvraj Singh Lauches his new venture.

Through purchasing the NFTs, the buyers will enjoy a number of perks, including a chance to play 6 balls with Yuvraj and win exclusive merchandise of the cricketer. Fans will get an opportunity to interact and earn precious rewards in the form of merchandise and signed memorabilia.

Speaking about his new collection, the cricketer says, “NFTs in cricket are allowing us to connect with our fans like never before. I am happy to partner with Colexion to share precious tokens from my cricketing journey with the people who have loved and encouraged me every step of the way. Developing a digital avatar for us to be able to connect and share our love for cricket is a powerful concept, and Colexion has enabled me to take my first steps in this world.”

Abhay Aggrawal, the CEO of Colexion, welcomed Yuvraj by saying, “The premium NFT collection of Yuvraj Singh will be an opportunity for the fans to engage with their all-time favorite star. We’ll launch an autographed cricket bat along with a 3D statue of the cricketer, providing an exclusive opportunity to fans to own his digital collectibles. Colexion enables fans to witness this historic event and become a part of this massive revolution. We are creating interesting digital spaces for him to engage with his fans who will also be now able to ‘own’ special moments of his career.”

Bibin Babu, Co-Founder of Colexion elaborates, “We are focusing on creating a robust NFT ecosystem through premium NFT collection and play-to-earn NFT games. So while we believe in making NFTs accessible to everyone in the world, we also want to ensure a wholesome and transparent ecosystem. This I hope will make us a trustworthy brand and also inspire more celebrities to align with us as their active involvement makes a huge difference in the world of NFTs.”

Colexion is known for creating exclusive NFTs of well-established celebrities. The fact that the artwork is selling at such a reasonable price also shows that such art is about to gain more mainstream acceptance.

Not only this, Yuvi’s fans have additionally created his first-ever DAO- ‘Yuvi DAO’ as a gesture of love and support. The DAO is one of the world’s first-ever collector’s DAO in the Sports & Entertainment segment, bringing all entertainment fans to Web 3. Launched with the leading marketplace Colexion on Polygon, the exclusive collection is the most in-demand NFT to foray into the world of digital collectibles. It is highly likely that this personalised DAO will attract bidding from leading investors to acquire the rare collection. DAOs can be thought of as friends on the internet with a shared checking account.

In recent times, India has witnessed an exponential growth in demand for NFTs, with more and more celebrities jumping on the bandwagon. Among the most notable ones are megastars like Glen Maxwell, Brendon Mccullum, Pankaj Advani, Salim-Sulaiman, Dwayne Bravo, Aamir Ali, and much more, continuously adding players to its never-ending list of profound celebrities and personalities from the world of entertainment, lifestyle, and sports.

With sales of NFTs soaring to record highs, this launch is yet another sign of just how fierce the market has become. Asia’s most significant marketplace is said to cater to these rising demands through exclusive collaborations and the largest NFT drops. There are many NFT DAOs already on the scene, having made flashy purchases in January in the run-up to NFT mania. So far, hundreds have already signed up on the Colexion site to take part in the upcoming NFT auction.

The Colexion’s affordable yet premium NFT collection comes when digital art and NFTs have witnessed a massive rise in value. NFTs have emerged as an opportunity for users to own a unique asset that’s one of its kind in the world. Moreover, the bandwagon of celebrities, athletes, gamers, and artists who have jumped into the NFT space to experiment with their fate on the blockchain is something worth promising. In short, what the world is currently witnessing is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a revolution brimming.

PM cares for Varanasi : 870 crores for development projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share Market: Sensex closes 1190 points down; metal, banking stocks slump

               

Mumbai [India]: The Indian equities markets key indices tumbled more than two per cent on Monday due to huge selloffs in metal and banking stocks on fears that rising Omicron cases would derail the economic recovery.

The 30 stock S&P Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange started the week deep in the red on negative cues from the global markets. The benchmark Sensex ended the day at 55,822.01, 2.09 per cent or 1189.73 points lower from its previous close at 57,011.74 points.
The markets witnessed massive selloffs during the day with Sensex plunging to a low of 55,132.68 points, over 3 per cent down from its previous session close.

The broader Nifty 50 of the National Stock Exchange crashed 2.18 per cent or 371 points to 16,614.20 points. The Nifty 50 slumped to a low of 16,410.20 points in the intra-day.

There was massive selling pressure in metal, banking, and financial stocks. S&P BSE Bankex tumbled 3.12 per cent to 39,189.74 per cent. Metal index of the BSE dipped nearly 4 per cent.

Tata Steel slumped 5.20 per cent to Rs.1072.95. IndusInd Bank tumbled 4.23 per cent to Rs 845.85. State Bank of India dipped 3.97 per cent to Rs 449.20.

Selling pressure was across the board. 17 of the 30 Sensex crisped closed more than 2 per cent down. Bajaj Finance 3.89 per cent down at Rs 6633.75; HDFC Bank 3.14 per cent down at Rs 1426.60; Kotak Bank 2.93 per cent down at Rs 1741.75; NTPC 2.91 per cent down at Rs 121.85 and Reliance Industries 2.73 per cent down at Rs 2277.20 were among the major Sensex losers.

The Indian equities markets key indices have closed in the red six out of the past seven trading sessions. Rising cases of Omicron has hit investors’ sentiments in the equities markets across the world. Weakness in the major global equities markets and concerns over inflation and other macroeconomic data has negatively affected the investors’ sentiments in the Indian equities.

Only two of the 30 Sensex scrips closed in the positive. Hindustan Unilever closed 1.70 per cent higher at Rs 2268.30 and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories ended the day 0.94 per cent higher at Rs 4559.35. (ANI)

Earthquake of 4.9 magnitude hits Andaman and Nicobar’s Diglipur

              

Diglipur (Andaman and Nicobar) [India]: An earthquake of magnitude 4.9 hit North-Northwest of Andaman and Nicobar’s Diglipur on Sunday, informed the National Center for Seismology (NSC).

“Earthquake of Magnitude: 4.9, Occurred on 19-12-2021, 08:49:46 IST, Lat: 13.82 & Long: 92.69, Depth: 10 Km, Location: 69km NNW of Diglipur, Andaman and Nicobar island,” tweeted NSC.
More details are awaited. (ANI)

Schools in Delhi to reopen for class 6 and above

               

New Delhi [India]: The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) on Friday allowed the resumption of physical classes in schools in Delhi for classes 6 onwards from December 18 (Saturday).

However, classes will be held in a hybrid mode with both physical and online classes.
“All the Government, Government aided, unaided recognized, NDMC, MCDs and Delhi Cantonment Board Schools will reopen from December 18 for classes 6 onwards,” said the statement by Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Taking into consideration the submissions made and in light of improvement of Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi from ‘Severe’ to ‘Very Poor’ category, the Commission today directed the State Governments of NCR and GNCTD to re-open schools, colleges and educational institutions in a phased manner, said the release by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Notably, on November 16, the Commission had directed that “all public and private schools colleges and educational institutions shall remain closed until further orders allowing only online mode of education”.

The CAQM on Friday reviewed the restrictions imposed on the reopening of schools, colleges and educational institutions.

The Commission also directed the State Governments of NCR and GNCTD to take the decision for resumption of physical classes, for students up to standard 5 from December 27, 2021, duly considering the Air Quality Index (AQI) and the winter vacation schedule.

The Commission, on November 25, had decided that “the NCR States and GNCT of Delhi may take appropriate decisions for resumption of physical classes in schools, colleges and educational institutions in the NCR. However, wherever the State Governments / GNCTD opt to continue with online mode of education, such schools/colleges / educational institutions shall be permitted to open for the purpose of the conduct of examination and practical etc.”

On December 2, the Commission directed that “All Schools, Colleges and Educational Institutions in the NCR shall remain closed, allowing only online mode of education, except for the purpose of the conduct of examinations and laboratory practical etc.”

The Commission had earlier informed the Supreme Court that a decision on re-opening of schools, colleges and educational institutions, will be taken by December 17. (ANI)

Serum Institute working to develop COVID vaccine booster shot and Vaccine for Children which is more effective against Omicron

New Delhi [India]: Chief Executive Officer of the Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday said that they are working towards developing a vaccine booster shot which is more effective against Omicron virus.

Poonawalla said that on the basis of enough data, it is safe to say that booster vaccines are a proven strategy to increase antibodies to a great extent.
COVID vaccines for children aged above 3 years will be launched in the next 6 months, Poonawala said.

“After two years of the pandemic, India is now better prepared to deal with such catastrophe, and hopefully the worst is behind us all. The Government of India has been working towards creating an effective healthcare system and has made enough provision for hospital beds and oxygen,” Adar Poonawalla said at the CII Partnership Summit 2021, organised in association with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

He said that with over a billion-dollar investment that has gone into developing and manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine, the journey so far has given us several key lessons owing to the rapidly changing situation in accordance with the mutating virus.

Poonawalla said that globally, the supply of vaccines has outmatched its demand. “To keep up with the momentum, countries need to come together and form some agreement in order to prepare standard rules for clinical trials and manufacturing of the vaccines. Multilateral organisations and policy makers should be able to identify and isolate the new mutation/s and find out the efficacy of vaccine against it, in a time bound manner. Joining two other companies which are working towards developing the vaccine for children, SII has reached the trial phase of the vaccine for the children aged above 3. It should be ready within the next 6 months,” he said.

Commending the Government of India’s role in tackling the challenges posed by the pandemic in the last two years, he stated that going forward, Government and industry should work even more closely to further improve the business environment and simplify the rules and regulations for manufacturers to expand the sector.

Rajan Navani, Chairman, CII’s India@75 Council and Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Jetline Industries, noted that Omicron has created fresh challenges for the world. He referred to CII’s India@75 campaign which has been working on several areas since 2008. (ANI)

Japan mulls diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan is considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing amid the human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province, government and ruling coalition sources said on Saturday.

The plan came in line with the US’ decision not to send officials in the opening ceremony of the games, Kyodo News reported.
Earlier, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said Japan will decide on whether to join the diplomatic boycott after considering “national interests.”

Meanwhile, a political analyst called on Tokyo to diplomatically shun the event and go ‘beyond’ it by stopping Japanese athletes from attending its opening ceremony.

Olympics 2022

“Japan must not tread the same path again,” said a prominent Japanese academic and critic Masato Ushio in an article published by Forward Japan.

“At the very least, a diplomatic boycott. No, that’s not enough. The athletes should also boycott the opening ceremony because the host nation’s head of state makes the opening declaration during the ceremony,” Masato said. The development comes after the UK and Australia joined President Joe Biden’s bid to boycott the Winter Olympics.

France has also “well noted” the decision of the United States to diplomatically boycott the upcoming Olympics and it will consult with European partners on the next step, a French foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Many Countries are doing Diplomatic Boycott

According to CNN, the move marks an escalation of pressure by the US on China over allegations of forced labour and human rights abuses in China’s western region of Xinjiang, particularly against the Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minority groups.

The US is looking to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told media persons at a White House briefing.

President Joe Biden had said last month that he was weighing a diplomatic boycott as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, advocated for a protest of China’s human rights abuses, CNN reported. (ANI)

Over 10.03 crore disbursed between 2018-2021 for promoting defence start-ups

New Delhi [India]: The Ministry of Defence on Friday said that it has disbursed over 10.30 crore between 2018 and 2021 under the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) scheme for promoting start-ups in the field of defence sector.

According to the ministry, till date, iDEX has launched five rounds of Defence India Startup Challenges (DISCs), and three rounds of Open Challenge (OC), receiving more than 2000 applications from innovators. iDEX has been able to fund projects in many technological areas under DISCs and OC through the Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart (SPARK) framework, which entails provisioning of grants up to Rs 1.50 crore to the startups, said the ministry.

It further stated that the Partner Incubators (PIs) bridge the gap between the requirements of startups and the technological expertise required to develop the product. iDEX also features as a procurement avenue under the Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020.

The Government has approved a scheme worth Rs 498.78 crore to scale up iDEX in the next five years. 60 contracts for developing innovative prototypes have been signed under iDEX, said the ministry.

The establishment of iDEX is aimed at the creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes, and academia and providing them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

Accordingly, as per the feature incorporated in the Defence Acquisition Procedure, the prototypes that have been successfully developed through the iDEX framework find the route for procurement by the concerned Services. In line with the above, the Indian Navy has already placed a Supply Order on one iDEX Winner. The Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) are also mandated to follow similar procurement procedures for iDEX cases. (ANI)

COVID-19: Mask usage declining; WHO warning against it amid Omicron scare

New Delhi [India]: Dr VK Paul, Member-Health of NITI Aayog, on Friday expressed concern over the decline in the use of face masks in the country and said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against it as the global scene of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is disturbing.

Paul also said that India needs to remember that both the COVID-19 vaccine and face masks are important.
“Mask usage is declining. We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. We should learn from the global situation,” said Paul while addressing the health briefing.

“WHO is warning against the decline in mask usage. The global scene of Omicron is disturbing,” he added.

People at crowded places are also not wearing masks.

As far as protection capability is concerned, Paul said that India is now operating at a risky and unacceptable level.

“We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. It is not the time to remove masks yet,” reiterated Paul.

Further, he said, “The United Kingdom and France are experiencing a massive wave due to this variant. The pandemic caused by the virus is full of surprises and unexpected turns, so it is very important to protect yourself from it.”

Talking about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron virus, Paul said that it is effective against all variants. “The variants aren’t so smart yet that they can surpass the vaccine protection,” he said.

The Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava added that regular meetings are being organised to keep a watch on the global scenario and Covid scene in India with a focus on Omicron.

“We need help to not spread panic. District level restrictions to be implemented where positivity over 5 per cent,” he added. (ANI)

CDS Bipin Rawat, wife Madhulika Rawat cremated side by side on same pyre, daughters perform last rites

New Delhi [India]: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat were laid side by side on the same pyre for cremation at the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment on Friday. Their daughters Kritika and Tarini lit the pyre.

CDS Rawat was cremated with full military honours including a 17-gun salute by the military.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Defence Research and Development Organisation chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy, defence attaches of various countries, Ambassador of France in India Emmanuel Lenain and British High Commissioner Alex Ellis, were among the dignitaries who were present at the crematorium to pay their last respect.

Late CDS Bipin Rawat was given full honour.

People from all walks of life joined the funeral procession as it proceeded towards the crematorium to pay tribute to India’s first CDS.

Admirers of CDS Rawat were present along the road during the funeral procession with some of them carrying the national flag. They raised the slogan, “Jab tak suraj chaand rahega, Bipinji ka naam rahega”.

Union Ministers Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mansukh Mandaviya, Smriti Irani, Narendra Singh Tomar and Sarbananda Sonowal went to the residence of General Bipin Rawat earlier in the day to pay their last respects.

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Harish Rawat, BJP chief JP Nadda and DMK leaders A Raja and Kanimozhi were among those who laid a wreath on the mortal remains of CDS Rawat and his wife.

A chopper crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday claimed the lives of 13 people including CDS Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and his defence adviser Brigadier Lidder.

Other defence forces personnel who died in the chopper crash are CDS Rawat’s Staff Officer Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik B. Sai Teja.

Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor in the crash, has been shifted to Air Force Command hospital at Bengaluru for further treatment.

The Centre has ordered a ‘tri service’ inquiry into the accident. The inquiry will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command. (ANI)

I Will not contest polls until Article 370 is restored: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti

New Delhi [India]: Stating that she will not fight election until Article 370 is restored, Former Chief Minister of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will fight elections in future.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, PDP chief Mufti said, “Of course, we are going to fight elections, we will not cede any space to them, I won’t be fighting elections till Article 370 is restored.”
Referring to the recent incidents when action was taken against those who cheered for Pakistan during the India-Pakistan cricket match, Mufti recalled that during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time, citizens of the two countries were cheering for each other.

“I remember a cricket match between India and Pakistan during Vajpayee ji’s era, where citizens of Pakistan were cheering for India and citizens of India were cheering for Pakistan. And former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf also praised the then Indian captain MS Dhoni,” said PDP chief.

“But some days ago in Agra, when some youngsters cheered for the Pakistan cricket team during a match with India, not a single lawyer is ready to take their case, so it feels like Gandhi’s India is turning into Godse’s India,” she added.

Mufti further said that said “Have never seen a greater Statesman than Vajpayee. He visited Pakistan twice. He knew dialogue is the way forward.”

She also slammed the BJP for running Jammu and Kashmir like a colony. Mufti has been asking the 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 the 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.

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.

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had said that the delimitation panel chief Justice (Retd.) Ranjana Prakash Desai had meetings with all the stakeholders in UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the process of delimitation would be completed as soon as possible.

She also spoke on the recent demands of two chief ministers from northeast states – Meghalaya and Nagaland. Mufti said, “Revocation of Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA) was our part and parcel of the agenda with the BJP when the PDP-BJP alliance was in the government Jammu and Kashmir state. Removing AFSPA from the areas where the incidence of militant activities are less will be a good and positive step.”

Recently, after the Nagaland civilian killing, Nagaland and Meghalaya CMs Neiphiu Rio and Conrad Sangma, respectively, had demanded the repealing of AFSPA from their respective states. (ANI)

Tamil Nadu requested Centre to declare Tamil as official language of country: MoS Home in LS

New Delhi [India]: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai on Tuesday informed Lok Sabha that the Government of Tamil Nadu has made a request to declare Tamil as one of the official languages of India.

His statement came after Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi MP Dr T R Paarivendhar asked whether, during the recently concluded Southern Council Meeting in Tirupati, the Tamil Nadu government has raised the issue of declaring Tamil as one of the official languages of India as has been done in Sri Lanka and Singapore and Thirtikurrei as a national book.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu has made a request to declare Tamil as one of the official languages of India and Thirukkural as a national book in the 29th Meeting of the Southern Zonal Council which was held at Tirupati on 14th November 2021. However, no discussion on this issue took place during the meeting,” the Mos said in a written reply to the Lower House.

The winter session of the Parliament commenced on November 29 and will conclude on December 23. (ANI)

Withdraw Kangana Ranaut’s Padma Shri: AAP MP to VP Naidu over actor’s controversial remarks

New Delhi [India]: Aam Aadmi Pary (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh on Tuesday requested Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to withdraw Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut’s Padma Shri award in the wake of her remarks on India’s independence.

In the official letter written to Vice President Naidu, Singh said, “Such statements are being made with the aim of humiliating the freedom fighters, bypassing the martyrdom of millions and the struggle of years. The story of every Indian who fought for freedom has been infused with patriotism in generations. Here a woman holding a Padma Shri by a crooked mentality chooses to make such anti-national statements in the greed of position and is an insult to every Indian.”

“Her Padma Shri award should be withdrawn so that at least the dignity of this honour can be saved. No one should have the right to hurt the sentiments of the countrymen by such remarks. Therefore, it is requested that under Rule 267, other business of the House should be adjourned and serious discussion should be held in respect of the independence struggle of the nation,” Singh added.

Earlier in November, Kangana Ranaut had said that India’s independence was a ‘bheekh (handout)’ and claimed that the country got its real Independence after 2014 when the PM Modi led BJP government came into power.

Also in her Instagram story, she said that freedom fighters were “handed over” to the British by those “who had no courage” to fight oppression but were “power-hungry” and “cunning”.

Taking a dig at Mahatma Gandhi, she added, “Those are the ones who taught us, if someone slaps you offer another cheek for one more slap and that is how you will get aazaadi. That’s not how one gets aazadi, one can only get bheekh like that. Choose your heroes wisely.”

Kangana further claimed that Gandhi “never supported” Bhagat Singh or Subhas Chandra Bose. “So you need to choose who you support because just placing them all in one box of your memory and every year wishing them all on their birth anniversaries is not enough. In fact, it is not just dumb, it is highly irresponsible and superficial. One must know their history and their heroes,” the actor added.

Her comments regarding India’s independence struggle drew flak from several politicians and others, following which, many demanded that the Centre take back Kangana’s Padma Shri honour for insulting the country’s independence battle.

Kangana had received the prestigious award from President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the capital on November 8. (ANI)

Dozen of prisoners escape police custody from Lahore court lockup

Lahore [Pakistan]: At least 12 undertrial prisoners escaped from police custody following clashes between two groups while being produced before a local court in Lahore on Monday, reported Dawn.

The incident took place when 166 prisoners from two jails arrested in various cases were brought to the district courts in Lahore’s Model Town for hearings, the report said.
However, Police claimed that two out of the 12 prisoners who fled had been arrested, and efforts were being made to nab the others.

Lahore SSP (Operations) Mustansar Feroze said the prisoners were being kept in the “bakhshi khana” — the lock-up for under-trial prisoners — of the court when a clash broke out between two groups.

According to Dawn, CCTV footage showed prisoners throwing bricks and furniture from inside the lock-up and some of them climbing over the chairs to flee as police personnel watched helplessly. Even a policeman was hit in the face with a stone.

Lahore Police had started an “internal inquiry” in order to take disciplinary action against the police officials for “negligence”, Dawn reported.

Russia confirms 32,136 new COVID-19 cases over past 24 hours

Moscow [Russia]: Russia has confirmed 32,136 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 9,833,749, the federal response center said on Monday.

“Over the past 24 hours, 32,136 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 85 regions in Russia, including 2,561 cases (8.0%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase stands at 0.33%.
Moscow registered 3,134 new COVID-19 cases over the given period, followed by Saint Petersburg with 2,412 new cases, and the Moscow region with 2,215 new cases.

The response center also reported 1,184 deaths linked to the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 282,462.

In the same 24 hours, 28,070 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, bringing the total of recoveries to 8,530,476. (ANI/Sputnik)

India, Russia sign ‘Program of Development of Military-Technical Cooperation until 2031’: Russian General Dmitriy Shugaev

New Delhi [India]: India and Russia have signed the Program of the Development of the Military Technical Cooperation until 2031, informed Russian Army Gen Dmitriy Shugaev, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation.

“We are very satisfied with our cooperation. Today we signed a document – Program of the Development of the Military Technical Cooperation until 2031. It’s very important for us,” said Shugaev.
“It’s a joint venture which will produce rifles AK-203 and for these entire 10 years, we will produce more than 600,000 rifles,” he added.

India and Russia have signed a number of agreements, contracts and protocols covering small arms and military cooperation, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu.

“India deeply appreciates Russia’s strong support for India. We hope that our cooperation will bring peace, prosperity and stability to the entire region. Glad that a number of Agreements/Contracts/Protocols were signed pertaining to small arms and military cooperation,” Rajnath Singh tweeted.

He also called the talks with Shoigu “productive, fruitful and substantial,” and added that “India values its special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia.”

India and Russia signed the agreement for the procurement of 6,01,427 assault rifles AK-203 through Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Ltd, under the military-technical cooperation arrangement for 2021-31.

Another agreement was signed on Protocol on amending agreement on cooperation in the field of Kalashnikov series small arms manufacturing dated February 18, 2019

.

“A milestone in the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

“Further reinforcing the unique, enduring and mutually beneficial nature of our strategic partnership. The inaugural #IndiaRussia 2+2 Dialogue gets underway, with political and defence issues of mutual interest on the agenda,” Bagchi added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Monday.

CNN terminates anchor Chris Cuomo

New York [US]: CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been fired, confirmed CNN on Saturday. The termination is effective immediately.

An outside law firm was hired to review and scrutinize information about exactly how Cuomo aided his brother, former New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, when the then-governor was accused of sexual harassment, reported CNN.
“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defence. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately,” informed CNN in a statement.

“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate,” the statement further read.

Departing CNN, Cuomo said, “This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother. So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work.”

The new documents released on Monday showed that the veteran journalist was more intimately involved than previously known in shaping his brother’s defence.

“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defence,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday evening.

“The documents which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the spokesperson continued. “But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.”

“However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” the spokesperson added. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

The suspension came after significant criticism from people who noted that Chris Cuomo had violated widely accepted journalistic norms.

Multiple women, including former and current aides, have accused the governor of inappropriate remarks and behaviour, including unwanted touching and unwelcome sexual advances, as reported by Al Jazeera.

However, Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, while suggesting that his relationships with employees he viewed as friends may have been misinterpreted. (ANI)

Sabarimala temple: Heavy rush of pilgrims continue in Kerala

Pathanamthitta (Kerala) [India]: Heavy rush of pilgrims continued in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple on Saturday as over 42,354 people booked virtually to pay obeisance at the temple.

As per the Kerala government, as many as 27840 pilgrims visited the temple on Friday and 42,354 people had booked to take ‘darshan’ on Saturday.
“Police allow pilgrims to enter the shrine after sanitization and give masks to those who require,” the government said.

The virtual queue booking for the hill shrine of Sabarimala is almost complete from December 9 until the end of the Mandala-Makaravilakku (Makar Sankranti) festival.

As per the state government, about 45,000 people a day, including 40,000 via virtual queue system and 5,000 through spot booking, will get the opportunity for darshan.

Lord Ayyappa temple Sabarimala has been opened for Mandala-Makaravilakku, which will last for two months. The temple will remain open till December 26 for Mandalapooja.

The temple will again be opened on December 30 and darshan will be allowed till January 20 for Makaravilakku festival.

The Devaswom Board has set up special counters to collect ghee for anointing from the pilgrims as a direct anointing facility is not allowed.

“The devotees can collect anointed ghee from the counter near Sannidhanam police station using the receipt received from the counter, and prasadam from the prasadam the counters,” the organisers said.

In addition to the virtual queue booking system, spot booking is also possible. A maximum of 5,000 people a day are allowed to visit through spot booking.

Hyundai collaborates with Universal Music India, launches Hyundai Spotlight

Gurgaon (Haryana) [India]: Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL), the country’s first smart mobility solutions provider and the largest exporter since inception, today announced the launch of ‘Hyundai Spotlight’ in collaboration with Universal Music India (UMI).

Hyundai Spotlight is a platform for budding artists across India to showcase their talent to the nation. This collaboration is set forth for release of first song ‘Dhoonde Sitaare’ featuring renowned singers Aastha Gill & King. This platform will be featuring 6 original songs in its first year with multiple surround content programmed to represent different regions and languages across India. Hyundai Spotlight aims at helping emerging talents with the best Artists and Repertoire advice with international video production quality and promotions by leveraging UMI’s partner relations and their efforts.
Commenting on the launch of Hyundai Spotlight, Tarun Garg, Director (Sales, Marketing and Service) said, “A one-of-a-kind enabler platform, Hyundai Spotlight intends to discover, incubate and promote emerging musical talent in India, reaffirming our brand thought ‘Beyond Mobility’. With our new collaboration with Universal Music India, we are confident that ‘Hyundai Spotlight’ will enable and motivate many young artists to come forward and showcase their talent.”

Elated about this partnership with Hyundai, Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO of UMG, India & South Asia, said, “At Universal Music, it’s our continued endeavor to let talent blossom. No matter where you’re from or how established you are, which is quite often the basic requirement for any artist to get a deal. Being an artist first label, it’s our duty to give everyone that privilege purely on meritocracy. We have created Spotlight in partnership with our friends at Hyundai India, who are known to innovate and go where few marketers dare to. So, this is going to be a safe and pure place for singers, singer-songwriters, producers or composers to come and show us how good they are, and if they truly deserve to be discovered, we will in the most mainstream way possible.”

Tapping into the power of music, Hyundai Spotlight is based on the insight that younger generations want authenticity from the brands they associate with; Through this music initiative, Hyundai aims to directly connect with millennials, who have become the largest car buying demographic in India. The purpose is to provide a platform for the enablement of young talent in the country. Hyundai Spotlight reinforces the company’s brand thought ‘Beyond Mobility’ that aims to shape the future of Hyundai Motor India.

Hyundai Spotlight launched with ‘Dhoondein Sitaare’, an exciting collaboration between Aastha Gill & King is a feel-happy song that talks about breaking the daily monotony and taking time to explore life and all the beautiful things around. This catchy song very well defines the current generation, which is always up and ready for new adventures and exploring life as it comes.

Excited about the launch of ‘Dhoondein Sitaare’ as the first song of Hyundai Spotlight, Aastha Gill and King stated, “We are really thrilled to be an integral part of the launch of Hyundai Spotlight as this an amazing platform that will enable new and upcoming music talents. There is immense talent tucked away in our country and this property can act as a stepping stone for budding artists into the music industry. Dhoondein Sitaare is a fun song that talks about keeping our hearts young and always ready for adventures along with our loved ones. The entire process of making this song was super fun and I hope the audiences enjoy it too.”

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

Visakhapatnam: Amid Omicron scare, some international returnees untraceable

Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) [India]: Amid concerns over COVID-19 new variant ‘Omicron’, Visakhapatnam District Collector Mallikarjuna said on Friday that some international returnees who might have come to Visakhapatnam from Bengaluru, Chennai or Hyderabad are untraceable.

He informed that the administration has received a list of international returnees who might have come to Visakhapatnam from Bengaluru, Chennai or Hyderabad. He said that some of them have been traced while some are untraceable.
“Protocol is very clear. Once any international traveller test positive, apart from following the routine protocol of containment and treatment, we are sending their samples to genome sequencing,” said Mallikarjuna.

The District Collector also said that the administration is prepared for any kind of situation that may arise in the coming times with regards to COVID-19.

“We have set up an RT-PCR testing facility at Visakhapatnam airport for travellers. District officials have also been geared up over omicron alert. Around 7,500 beds are available in the district which also includes oxygen beds,” he added.

The Centre on Thursday informed that two people have tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Karnataka.

A new variant of COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.

On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. The WHO has classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’.

Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.

The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.

India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection.

Uttarakhand CM announces withdrawal of Char Dham Management Board law

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India]: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday announced that the State government will be withdrawing Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Act after months of protests by Char Dham Teerth-Purohit Hak Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti and other organisations.

“Our government has taken a decision to take back the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Bill,” said Dhami.
“The decision to abolish the Devasthanam Board is taken on the basis of the feedback received by Teerth Purohit, Haq Hookdhari, people’s representative and report of a high-level committee,” he added.

Last December, the Uttarakhand Assembly had passed the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Bill.

The law aimed at bringing the Char Dham of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and 49 other temples under the purview of a proposed shrine board.

Many organisations including Char Dham Teerth-Purohit Hak Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti were opposing the said act. According to the temple priests, their rights are being played due to the formation of this board.

Mahapanchayat in its meeting on November 20 had decided to organise a sit-in protest against the Devasthanam Act at worship places of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri Dham.

Kedarnath Teerth Purohit Samaj had earlier claimed that the then Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had assured to reconsider the board.

The agitation against the board has been going for 21 months.

Earlier, Uttarakhand High Court had dismissed two pleas challenging the validity of the said law, one of the pleas was filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. (ANI)

Tripura: Story of a RSS Karyakarta who became Chief Minister

KSHVID NEWS DESK

Shri Biplab Kumar Deb (born 25 November 1971) is the Chief Minister of the state of Tripura.

Born in Rajdharnagar village in Udaipur situated in the Gomati District. Since childhood, Shri Deb took active interest in various social welfare activities which took place in his village and adjoining areas while serving in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a ‘Bal Swayamsevak’.

Shri Biplab Kumar Deb graduated from Tripura University in 1999.

Newly appointed Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb gestures during the swearing-in ceremony of Tripura legislative assembly at Assam Rifles ground in Agartala, the capital of northeastern state of Tripura on March 9, 2018. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and its local allies swept the polls, winning 43 seats in the 59 member house.

Shri Deb shifted to New Delhi in the coming years where he served the society and nation in various capacities while first working at the RSS Karyalaya at Jhandewalan, New Delhi followed by serving at the Office of the Minister of State, Coal, Mines and Steel, Government of India and then at the Office of the Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Other Backward Classes (OBC).

During these years, Shri Deb was closely involved in numerous social causes and activities in his home state Tripura and took proactive interest in various initiatives for the development of the state.

In May 2015, Shri Deb was entrusted the responsibility of being the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Central Jansampark Prabhari for Tripura Pradesh.

In January 2016, Shri Biplab Kumar Deb was appointed as the BJP State President for Tripura Pradesh, a position which he continues to hold till date. During his tenure as the State President of the party, the BJP achieved an unprecedented victory in the Assembly Elections in Tripura held in February 2018, the first-ever for the party in the state.

In March 2018, Shri Biplab Kumar Deb took oath of office as the Chief Minister of the state of Tripura. As the Chief Minister of the state, Shri Deb has enunciated his vision of transforming Tripura into a Model State and his Government is committed towards achieving the same for building a Shreshtha Tripura for a Shreshtha Bharat. 

Tripura: At a Glance

Tripura is a state in North-East India. It shares borders with Bangladesh, Mizoram and Assam. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on its north, south and west. The length of its international border is 856 km (84 per cent of its total border). The state is connected with the rest of India by NH-44 that runs through Assam, Meghalaya, North Bengal, Kolkata and other parts of India.

#TripuraCM#BiplabDeb#NewCM#AgartalaNews#BJPCMINTRIPURA

Inspired by Harbhajan Singh’s famous spell: Ashwin

ashwin

Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], November 30 (ANI): India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has said that surpassing Harbhajan Singh’s tally of 417 Test wickets is a “wonderful milestone”.

Ashwin on Monday had surpassed Harbhajan Singh to become the country’s third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. Ashwin scalped the wicket of Tom Latham (52) to go past the milestone.
“These are numbers that are just happening because of the effort I have been putting in. I am trying to enjoy my game. I am not worried about what number I am surpassing, it is a wonderful milestone. When Harbhajan Singh bowled that famous spell against Australia in 2001, I did not think I would be an off-spinner one day,” Ashwin told teammate Shreyas Iyer in a video posted on bcci.tv.

“I was inspired by him and here I am. Actually, I was more of a batter, and a lot of people know this story. After that 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, I decided to take up spin bowling. That’s how I started, I have been on my action for a while, don’t know whether I can copy Harbhajan’s style now,” he added.

The off-spinner had equalled Harbhajan’s tally of 417 wickets on Sunday after he dismissed Will Young on Day 4.

New Zealand managed to survive by the barest of margins on the last day of the first Test against India after a gritty performance from their lower-order batters insured that visitors walked away with a draw here at Green Park, Kanpur on Monday.

“It is still sinking in the fact that we could not win, we were so close yet so far. Tough thing to get over for me, it happened once in Jamaica. It takes some time for me as a bowler, it just did not happen today,” said Ashwin.

“I mean it is a matter of pride. You play for India, I had my 200th wicket on the same ground and now I surpassed Harbhajan Singh’s tally on this ground. I had not played the last Test in Christchurch before the COVID-19 pandemic, god has been kind and I have been able to turn it around,” he added.

Team India managed to take eight wickets on Day 5 of the ongoing first Test but some late drama and stout-hearted performance from visitors’ batters clawed back victory from the jaws of hosts. (ANI)

UK’s parliamentary group report pulls apart Islamabad’s complicity, culpability in crimes against minorities

London [UK]: The United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Pakistani Minorities has severely criticized the role of Islamabad in a steadily deteriorating human rights situation of minorities in the country.

A 67-page report, which called the human rights situation in Pakistan a national and international tragedy, highlighted all forms of atrocities that the minorities of Pakistan were being subjected to on an everyday basis.
It said that even after over seventy years of independence, abductions of minority girls, their forced conversions and subsequent marriages was a widespread phenomenon in Pakistan.

And calling them a heartrending issue, the report noted that successive governments in Pakistan had failed to take any effective action to prevent this tragic and inhuman practice.

Based on the written submissions and the oral evidence presented before an Inquiry conducted by the APPG, it was confirmed that Hindu and Christian communities were specifically being targeted by Islamic fundamentalists.

The inquiry revealed that the issue of abductions, forced conversions, and forced marriages of religious minority women and girls is a serious issue for the vulnerable and marginalised Hindu and Christian communities in Pakistan.

The report read “Provisional estimates in a study ‘Forced Marriages and Forced Conversions in the Christian Community of Pakistan’ suggest that up to 1,000 religious minority women and girls face this fate every year.”

“However, the true numbers may never be ascertained. All these cases meet with impunity. Usually, after the abduction, the victim’s relatives plead with the local police to file a First Information Report.”

The report also said that police had more often than not dragged their feet in such cases and instead of apprehending the criminals, handed conversion certificates to the parents saying they had changed their religion voluntarily.

“In court, the issue is often portrayed as a religious issue and the perpetrators’ lawyers appeal to the religious sentiments of judges, by suggesting that the girls have voluntarily converted to Islam. In the majority of these cases, the decisions will go in favour of the perpetrators and the girls lose all contact with their families,” the report read.

The report further stated the reasons behind a steady spike in such cases in specific Pakistani areas.

“One reason why this practice is flourishing in the Sindh and Punjab provinces is because of the many actors playing their part in keeping the practice alive. For example, the clerics play a key role in the conversion process and marry the victims and the perpetrators within a short time after. In the volatile politics of Pakistan any efforts to apprehend any religious leader can be construed as an attack on Islam. For this reason, such practices of the clerics are tolerated by government officials and politicians, as confrontation could bring about further conflict amongst the wider public,” it read.

The report urged the UK government to raise the issue at bilateral engagements too in order to help those who have been the subject of brutality for decades.

While calling out the Pakistan government’s failure at addressing the issue and the provincial government’s apathetic attitude towards minorities, the APPG urged the UK government to intervene in order to protect minority women from the vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty and early marriages.

It is pertinent to note that the state machinery has been found complicit at some level or the other in many cases of harassment, exploitation and outright brutality against the minorities.

Also, there are numerous cases of the state brazenly defending those who have been involved in heinous crimes against minorities and going after the victims. And it is because of such a state of affairs in Pakistan that a number of experts around the world have said that Pakistan is the most unsafe country for women under the sun. (ANI)

Shri Jai Ram Thakur : Student’s politics to the popular CM of Himachal Pradesh

KSHVID DESK

Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Jai Ram Thakur is a self made personality. He is the son of Late Shri Jethu Ram Thakur ji. He was born on 6th January, 1965 at Tandi, Distt. Mandi;

He is a Graduate and educated at Govt. College, Mandi. He has been married to Dr. Sadhna Thakur and having two daughters, Basically he is a Agriculturist/ Horticulturist.

With PM Narendra Modi

Political Achievements: Remained Joint Secretary, State ABVP, 1986; Organizing Secretary, ABVP (J&K), 1989-93; Secretary, State Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha, 1993-95; President: State BJYM,ii) B.J.P. District Mandi, 2000-03;Vice President, State Bharatiya Janata Party, 2003-05; and President, State Bharatiya Janata Party, 2006-09.

Elected to the State Legislative Assembly in 1998; re-elected in 2003, 2007 from Chachiot Assembly Constituency and in 2012 from Seraj Assembly Constituency; Before delimitation in 2007,Seraj Assembly segment was known as Chachiot.

Remained Chairman, Rural Planning Committee and Member of various other House Committees from January, 2008 to July, 2009; Chairman, General Development Committee & Education Committee; Vice-Chairman, State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. ; Panchayati Raj & Rural Development Minister from 09th July, 2009 to December, 2012; and Member, Estimates, Public Undertakings, Ethics and Human Development Committees, 2013-17.

Addressing Public

Re-elected to the thirteenth Vidhan Sabha (5th term) in December, 2017; assumed the office of Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh on 27th December, 2017. Under his leadership, many new initiatives have been taken and he is gaining popularity day by day. From a student leader to the Chief Minister of the state, he has covered a long journey.

Special Interest: Organizing blood donation camps and Social service.

Favorite Pastime: Listening old songs, performing one act plays and going on excursion.

Highlights :

  • Born on 6 January, 1965 in Tandi village of Murahag panchayat of Seraj assembly constituency in Mandi district. His father’s name was Jethu Ram and mother’s name is Briku Devi. He did his primary education from Kurani School and studied in High School Bagsyad near Thunag.
  • He completed his graduation from Vallabh Government College Mandi and did his MA from Punjab University. He is the youngest of three brothers. He has two sisters. During his college and University days, he was the member of ABVP and in the year 1993 he fought his first election from Chachiot assembly constituency when he was 26 years of age.
  • In 1998 he won his election from Chachiot assembly constituency and has been MLA from Chachiot (which after delimitation is known as Seraj assembly constituency) since then. He is MLA for five consecutive terms. He remained State BJP President and was Cabinet Minister in previous BJP government. He has also remained as Vice Chairman, State Civil Supplies Corporation. He also remained as President of Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha.
  • He is married to Dr. Sadhna Singh from Jaipur and has two daughters.

Bengaluru: Negative RT-PCR report mandatory for people coming from Kerala, Maharashtra

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: The Karnataka government has issued an order on Sunday making it mandatory for those arriving from Kerala and Maharashtra to produce a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours.

The order will be applicable to everyone entering Karnataka irrespective of their vaccination status.
The decision is taken in light of a new cluster of Covid-19 cases detected at educational institutions at Dharwad, Bengaluru, and Mysuru districts, read the order.

“Students arriving from Kerala to Medical and Paramedical colleges and other such institutions within Karnataka in the past 15 days (Nov 12 to Nov 27) shall be subjected to RT-PCR test,” the order said.

Therefore, as per the order, those who will arrive now onwards will be subjected to a mandatory RT-PCR test on the 7th day of arrival.

The Deputy Commissioners of districts bordering Kerala state have been asked to ensure that already established check posts are active and taking up 100 per cent screening of all those arriving from Kerala.

A total of 322 fresh COVID-19 cases and three deaths were reported in Karnataka on Saturday. (ANI)

Huawei Watch D to come with blood pressure monitoring feature

Shenzhen [China]: Huawei is soon going to launch a new smartwatch and it’s going to come with a pretty rare health feature. The tech giant has received certification for a wearable that will be able to monitor blood pressure.

Leaksters found a promo image of the device dubbed Huawei Watch D and immediately posted it on Weibo. It is expected to release at the end of December, reported GSM Arena.
The product is in its final stages of testing, and reportedly the accuracy rate is really good. The Watch D will be one of the few wearables to measure blood pressure, and it will also be unique in Huawei’s wearable portfolio with its design.

All other watches of the company have either a circular face with two buttons or a rectangular touch screen with one fairly neat button on the right-hand side.

The Watch D already obtained a certificate as a State Drug Administration Class II medical device, but it may take a while until Huawei obtains the required approval in other countries.

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