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Fearing arson-like fate, villagers gradually move out of WB’s Bogtui village

Birbhum (West Bengal) [India]: Residents of West Bengal’s Bogtui village, where eight people were burnt to death following the killing of Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh, have started to flee in fear and lack of confidence in the security measures provided by the police.

An air of gloom hangs in the Bogtui village post-arson as most villagers have moved out from their homes and several others are making moves.
The villagers are of the view that the police are not providing them with enough security to stay back.

“The police cannot provide us security. We are fleeing. My brother-in-law died in the incident. Had there been security by the Police, this incident wouldn’t have happened,” a villager, Sherin told ANI.

Meanwhile, the Birbhum arson has also created a political stir in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has sought the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and has demanded an investigation into the incident by Central agencies.

Locket Chatterjee, BJP MP from Hooghly, has also claimed that about 20 people have been killed in the arson, “but no one knows the actual number because no one is being allowed to enter in Birbhum.”

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought a detailed report from the West Bengal government over the arson incident.

The move came after a nine-member delegation of BJP MPs from West Bengal met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and sought his intervention and action against the perpetrators involved in the crime.

Amid the row over the incident, Mamata Banerjee urged West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar “to refrain from making unwarranted statements and allow the administration to conduct an impartial probe.”

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

Dhankhar in a Twitter post had said that horrifying violence and arson orgy at Rampurhat, Birbhum indicates the state is in grip of the violent culture and lawlessness.

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

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

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

He further informed that Bhadu Sheikh’s murder was reported last night, an hour after which 7-8 houses nearby had caught fire.

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


Mumbai local trains commuters can now watch movies, TV shows during journey


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India],(ANI): With the new initiative, Central Railway and SugarBox Networks called the ‘Content on Demand’ service in local trains, passengers can enjoy watching movies, TV shows, and news for free while traveling, the Indian railways official said.

According to an official, passengers’ journeys will now be full of entertainment. Lakhs of people travel daily in Mumbai local train. To make travel more attractive and convenient, Central Railway has started ‘Content on Demand’ service in local trains from Friday.
Anil Kumar Lahoti, General Manager, Central Railway said Central Railway is the backbone of public transport in Mumbai.

“We witness footfalls of 45lakh passengers daily across our suburban network during pre-covid times. Often, for commuters, this travel time is an opportunity to spend uninterrupted time on their devices. And if we could empower them simply by integrating technology into our services, then it could strengthen our goal to stay future-forward and customer-centric,” Lahoti said.

Speaking about creating solutions for Central Railway, Rohit Paranjpe, Co-founder and CEO, SugarBox Networks said that Mumbaikars spend a large portion of their time

travelling, there is a need to ensure they have access to uninterrupted digital connectivity during transit.

“Through this partnership, we aim to make Mumbai a stellar example of in-transit

connectivity and make it a digitally equipped travel line,” he added.

This service is completely free, passengers will not have to pay any extra charge for the service. Apart from watching entertainment shows, passengers can shop without spending internet data.

To enjoy the free service, travellers will have to download the ‘Sugarbox app’.

With the help of Central Railway and Sugarbox Networks, this service has started only in 10 local trains of Central Railway, however, in the coming few months this service will be started in all trains, officials said.

Sugarbox will not charge anything, it is free, no network hassle, passengers can listen and watch movies, serials, news snd songs without any interruption, it added. (ANI)

Important to make social media accountable to ensure women are safe in cyberspace: Ashwini Vaishnaw


New Delhi [India](ANI): Union Minister for Information and Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday in Rajya Sabha said that it was important to make social media accountable to ensure that women were made safe everywhere, including cyberspace.

While giving a reply to BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi’s question on Bulli Bai app in Rajya Sabha, the Union Minister said, “It was important to make social media accountable. It was important and a commitment of his government to ensure that women were made safe everywhere including on the cyberspace.”
The question Modi had asked was with regards to the auctioning of women on social media via various websites including the Bulli Bai app.

The Minister further elaborated that whenever the government spoke about bringing stronger laws for cyberspace and spoke about strengthening social media guidelines it faced a backlash from the opposition parties who termed it as an attempt to hamper freedom of expression and speech.

Auctioning of women from the Muslim community was an issue raised by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi in a number of letters written to the IT minister following which action was taken by the police both in Mumbai and Delhi.

Bulli Bai app was put up in the Github open platform which auctioned Muslim women by putting up their images. (ANI)Image -instagram)

Schools, colleges, gyms to reopen in Delhi, single drivers exempted from wearing masks in cars: Sources


New Delhi [India] (ANI): In view of the consistent decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has decided to reopen schools, colleges and gyms and also exempted single drivers exempted from wearing masks in cars, sources said on Friday.

As per sources, the DDMA in its meeting today, also decided that the night curfew would now begin at 11 pm instead of 10 pm.
Institutions of Higher Education and coaching institutes have been allowed to reopen subject to Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) and strict adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour, sources said.

According to sources, schools will also be open in a phased manner and they would reopen from February 4 for classes 9 and 12. Teachers who aren’t vaccinated will not be permitted in schools.

Sources also added that offices will function with 100 per cent attendance in Delhi.

They added that single drivers in cars to be exempted from mask mandate. Earlier, the Delhi High Court, on April 7, 2021, ruled that wearing a mask or face cover in a vehicle occupied by either a single person or multiple persons is compulsory in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Delhi reported 2,668 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours with the positivity rate declining to 4.3 per cent.

Recently, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had decided to lift the weekend curfew and the odd-even system for shops.

In markets, market complexes, malls, all shops and establishments dealing with non-essential goods and services shall be allowed to open between 10 AM to 8 PM without the restriction of odd-even. (ANI)InstagramImage)

India reports 1,67,059 new COVID infections, 1,192 deaths; daily positivity rate dropped to 11.69 pc


New Delhi [India]: India registered a sharp decline in daily COVID-19 cases as 1,67,059 new infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, informed Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.

India on Monday reported 2,09,918 fresh COVID-19 cases and 959 fatalities.
However, with the addition of 1,192 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, the COVID death toll in the country climbed to 4,96,242.

As per the health ministry, there was a decline in the daily positivity rate to 11.69 per cent from 15.77 per cent on Monday. The weekly positivity rate also dipped to 15.25 per cent from 15.75 per cent yesterday.

India’s active caseload currently stands at 17,43,059 while the active cases account for 4.20 per cent of total cases.

With 2,54,076 recoveries from the infection reported in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries mounted to 3,92,30,198.

The recovery rate of the country has also improved to 94.60 per cent from 94.37 per cent on Monday.

As many as 14,28,672 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours to detect the presence of the virus. Over 73.06 crore tests have been conducted so far in the country.

Meanwhile, under the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, 1,66,68,48,204 vaccine doses have been administered so far. (ANI-image-KSHVID)

Sitharaman to present Union Budget 2022-23 in paperless format


New Delhi [India]: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget 2022-23 in a paperless format just like last year.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was seen carrying a tablet kept inside a red coloured cover with a golden coloured national emblem embossed on it instead of the briefcase or ‘bahi khata’.
In a historic move, the Union Budget 2021 was presented in a digital format for the first time to promote the Government of India’s (GoI) Digital India flagship programme. This is being seen as an attempt to go green and also to minimise physical contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sitharaman in 2019, ditched the longstanding tradition of carrying a briefcase and went ‘Swadeshi’ to replaced the briefcase with the traditional ‘bahi khata’ saying that the Modi-government was not a ‘suitcase-carrying government.’

Sitharaman was accompanied by MoS Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Karad and other officials from her ministry, Sitharaman is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind before presenting the budget at 11 am today.

The Central government last year launched the ‘Union Budget Mobile App’ to enable the Members of Parliament (MPs) and common people to access Budget documents digitally. The Union Budget 2022 -23 would also be made available on the mobile app after the Budget is presented on February 1 in Parliament.

The App facilitates complete access to 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG) and Financial Bill as prescribed by the Constitution.

The word ‘Budget’ originates from the French word Bougette, meaning leather briefcase. The tradition of carrying the Budget briefcase was a copy of the ‘Gladstone box’, used in the British Budget.

In 1860, the then British budget chief William E Gladstone used a red suitcase with Queen’s monogram embossed in gold to carry his documents, which came to be known as the ‘Gladstone Box’.

In 1947, India’s first Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty carried a leather portfolio to present the first Budget.

Before Nirmala Sitharaman, a long standing tradition in connection with the Budget presentation was broken during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government with the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha presenting the Budget at 11 am instead of the traditional time of 5 pm.

In the first, this year, there was no customary ‘halwa ceremony’ amid COVID-19 curbs. (ANI-image -instagram)

WHO shows J-K as part of Pak, China; TMC leader questions Home Ministry, MEA


New Delhi [India]: The World Health Organisation (WHO), on its website, has shown Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan and China, Trinamool Congress MP Dr Santanu Sen said in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take up steps to correct the mistake.

Sharing the pictures of the wrong map of India on the WHO dashboard, Sen tweeted, “WHO COVID site shows map of India with a separate colour for Jammu & Kashmir & inside that there is another small portion of a separate colour. If they are clicked, Covid datas of Pakistan & China are coming.”

Dr Sen also questioned the central government for not noticing the “absolutely horrible” lapse.

“Why ministry of home affairs, external affairs and the ministry of health did not notice it and take any initiative to correct this step,” the MP wrote in his letter to the prime minister.

Sen also said that Arunachal Pradesh was “demarcated separately” from the map of India.

“I tried to locate the map once again and again I noticed Arunachal Pradesh was also demarcated separately,” Sen added in his letter.

The Rajya Sabha MP has urged the government to raise the issue with the WHO.

“People of India have the right to know why such a serious mistake has been overlooked on a website of such an organisation of international report like WHO,” he wrote.

“I request immediate steps should be taken to correct this mistake and tell the country how such a serious issue was overlooked for so long,” he added in the note.

Last year the government informed the Parliament that the issue of the wrong depiction of India’s map was “raised strongly with WHO including at the highest level,” following which the global health body put out a disclaimer on their portal.

“The designations employed and the presentation of these materials do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WHO concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Dotted and dashed lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement,” the disclaimer said.

The government, however, had informed the Parliament that “India’s position on the right depiction of its boundaries has been unambiguously reiterated.” (ANI)

Election Commission to review ban on physical rallies, roadshows


New Delhi [India]: The Election Commission of India will hold a review meeting on Monday regarding the continuation of the ban on physical rallies and roadshows in view of the upcoming assembly elections.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra will meet Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan today. The ECI will also meet with Health Secretaries and Chief Secretaries of poll-bound states virtually.
Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Election Commission of India on January 22 extended the ban on physical rallies and roadshows till January 31.

The Election commission had put a ban on election rallies and roadshows until January 15 first and later extended till January 22.

The poll body had on January 22 gave relaxation for physical public meetings of political parties or contesting candidates for Phase 1 allowed from January 28 and for Phase 2 from February 1.

As on date, the limit of five persons for door to door campaign is 10 persons, excluding security personnel and video vans for publicity permitted at designated open spaces with COVID restrictions.

Assembly elections in five states will be held between February 10 and March 7, the Election Commission of India informed earlier this month, as it announced the poll schedule for the states of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The counting of votes will be done on March 10. (ANI-Image Instagram)

Elon Musk says Biden treats Americans ‘like fools’


Washington [US]: American billionaire Elon Musk slammed US President Joe Biden after the latter left out the name of Tesla in a post that talked about the future of electric vehicles in America.

Tesla CEO, Musk, apparently was miffed after the US President excluded the name of the electric vehicle manufacturer in a Twitter post where he said, “Companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before.”
Replying to Biden’s Twitter post on the future electric vehicles in America, Musk wrote the name of “Tesla” in all caps. In another tweet, he said, “Biden is a damp Socks puppet in human form.”

Musk also said that “Biden is treating the American public like fools”.

He made these remarks after the US President met with executives from rival car companies General Motors and Ford Motor earlier this week.

The swipe comes after Biden invited CEOso of General Motors and Ford to the White House along with other business leaders to discuss his administration’s Build Back Better legislation.

Interestingly, Biden invited executives from these companies last year when signed an executive order with the goal of making all vehicles sold in the US electric by 2030.

However, Musk, who is critical of the Biden administration, was omitted from the list.

Back in September, Tesla CEO had said that Biden administration of being “a little biased” and “seems to be” controlled by unions, Fox News reported. (ANI/Image -instagram Musk)

Snapchat rolls out new safety feature for teens

Wahington [US] (ANI): American multimedia instant messaging app Snapchat is introducing a new safety feature for teens that will limit the friend suggestions they see in the application.
As per Mashable, following the requests for enhanced safety features on the app, the popular social networking app is modifying its buddy suggestion feature. The company is making it more difficult for adult strangers to locate kids on its app by limiting friend recommendations in its ‘Quick Add’ feature.
According to Snapchat, accounts of 13 to 17-year-olds would no longer appear in ‘Quick Add’ unless they have “a particular amount of accounts in common.” While the move will not prevent adults and kids from communicating, it may make it more difficult for outsiders to locate teens they are unfamiliar with.
However, it’s currently unclear how many mutual connections a Snapchat user will need to have in common with an adolescent in order for them to appear on their Quick Add list, but the company claimed it will help users guarantee they know each other in real life.
The platform also promised to implement new parental control features, which it teased last year, that will provide parents more insight into who their teenagers are talking to while still allowing teens to maintain their privacy. (Image source: Unsplash)

IPL: New Lucknow franchise named as ‘Lucknow Super Giants’

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Indian Premier League’s new Lucknow-based franchise has announced their team name on Monday as Lucknow Super Giants.
Lucknow has opted to go with KL Rahul (Rs 17 crore), Marcus Stoinis (Rs 9.2 crore), and Ravi Bishnoi (Rs 4 crore) for the IPL 2022. KL Rahul will don the captaincy hat. Andy Flower has already been named the coach of the Lucknow franchise while former India batter Gautam Gambhir will serve as the mentor of the franchise.
“And here it is, Our identity, Our name…. #NaamBanaoNaamKamao #LucknowSuperGiants,” tweeted team’s official handle.
IPL’s two new teams — Sanjiv Goenka RPSG Group for the Lucknow franchise and CVC Capital’s Ahmedabad team had received formal clearance from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The formal clearance was given after a meeting of the IPL Governing Council.
Earlier, the Indian Premier League (IPL) player registration closed on January 20 and a total of 1,214 players (896 Indian and 318 overseas) have signed up to be part of the IPL 2022 player auction.
The two-day mega auction will see 10 teams bidding for some of the finest talents in world cricket. The players’ list incorporates 270 capped, 903 uncapped, and 41 Associate players.
The detailed list is as follows: Capped Indian (61 players), Capped International (209 players), Associate (41 players), Uncapped Indians who were a part of previous IPL seasons (143 players), Uncapped International who were a part of previous IPL seasons (6 players), Uncapped Indians (692 players), and Uncapped Internationals (62 players). (Image source: Unsplash)

Hyderabad: Gold valuables of over 2kg seized from man at airport

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): The customs department of Hyderabad airport recovered 2.715 kg of gold chains and paste worth Rs 1.36 crore from a man, who arrived from Dubai, said a press release on Saturday.
According to the customs department, the valuables were concealed inside the hand-in bag and check-in luggage and recovered from the man during an interception by the officials of the department. Further investigation is underway. (Image source: Instagram)

Karnataka reports 50,210 new COVID cases, positivity rate reaches 22.77 pc

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Karnataka reported 50,210 new COVID-19 cases, of which 26,299 were from the state’s capital Bengaluru, Health Minister K Sudhakar informed on Sunday.
Presently, there are as many as 3,57,796 active cases in the state, while the COVID positivity rate stands at 22.77 per cent. In Karnataka, 22,842 recoveries from the virus and 19 Covid deaths have also been reported in the last 24 hours.
Sudhakar further informed that 165 new cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Bengaluru today, taking the overall tally in the state to 931. (Image source: Instagram)

Tamil Nadu govt to consider withdrawing Sunday lockdown if COVID-19 cases continue to reduce, says Health Minister

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) (ANI): Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian on Sunday said that COVID-19 cases were reduced in the state, adding that if cases continue to decline, the government will consider withdrawing Sunday lockdown.
“Cases are reducing in comparison to last one or two days. It is satisfactory. If cases continue to reduce, we will think about withdrawing the Sunday lockdown,” said Subramanian while talking to media. He also said that people were cooperating with the government and complying with the Sunday lockdown.

Subramanian paid tributes to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose on the occasion of his 125 Birth Anniversary. (Image source: Instagram)

Bangla Pokkho’ urges Modi to form Bengal Regiment in Indian Army

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): Bangla Pokkho, a Bengali nationalist group, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a Bengal Regiment in the Indian Army, terming it a long-standing demand.
According to the organisation, it would be a real tribute to Netaji by forming a Bengal Regiment in the Indian Army. “On the 125th birth anniversary of the greatest leader from Bengal, Subhash Chandra Bose, the Bengalis have a very specific demand, that is the formation of a Bengal regiment within the Indian Army keeping in mind the rights and stakeholdership of the 10 crore Bengali people in the Indian Union”, wrote the Bangla Pokko group in their mail.
He argued that the Bengalis had been at the forefront of the anti-British freedom struggle and had sacrificed the most among all the nationalists of the Indian Union-Subhash Chandra Bose, Khudiram Bose, Bagha Jatin, Matarda Shurjo Sen and many others. “We hope that the Union government takes steps to form the Bengali regiment, to honour the contribution of the innumerable Bengali martyrs in freedom struggle keeping in mind the rights of Bengali people”, the nationalist organisation further added. (Image source: Instagram)

Burkina Faso President possibly detained

Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso] (ANI/Sputnik): The president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, is possibly detained following riots in the capital and reports about an attempted coup, the RFI radio broadcaster reported on Monday, citing sources.
The LSI Africa news portal reported in the early hours of Monday that the rioters were demanding the resignation of Kabore, who was under the protection of the Gendarmerie. In another tweet, the media outlet said that the president’s family had left Burkina Faso. Earlier in the day, media reported that imprisoned Gen. Gilbert Diendere, who was involved in the failed 2015 coup in the African nation, had been freed by mutinying soldiers.

Philippines logs 24,938 new COVID-19 cases

Manila [Philippines] (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 24,938 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, raising the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,442,056.
The DOH said the number of active cases dropped to 262,997, as the country’s positivity rate also dipped to 40.6 percent. The DOH added that 47 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country’s death toll to 53,519.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the Omicron variant-fueled COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila has peaked.
“We see that cases in Metro Manila have been decreasing for the past few days, accounting for a smaller percentage of the total cases,” Duque told a virtual press conference.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire echoed Duque’s statement. “It looks like we have reached the highest number of cases in Metro Manila, and slowly cases are going down,” she said, adding that infections in regions outside the national capital region continue to rise.
Many Filipinos who contracted the virus have opted to get the less expensive rapid antigen tests, indicating that the actual number is likely to be higher than the reported as antigen tests are not included in the reported cases.
The Philippines is grappling with an Omicron-driven COVID-19 surge, the fourth wave the country has seen since the outbreak in 2020.
The country reported the highest single-day tally on January 15, with 39,004 new cases. (Image source: Instagram)

NATO sending ships, jets to eastern Europe amid Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine

Brussels [Belgium] (ANI): North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defence as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine.
In the past days, a number of NATO allies have made announcements regarding current or upcoming deployments. Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and is set to deploy four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania in support of NATO’s long-standing air-policing mission in the region. Spain is sending ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria, NATO said in a statement on Monday. France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania under NATO command. The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria from April to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region and is putting ship and land-based units on standby for NATO’s Response Force. The US has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence in the eastern part of the alliance, the statement added.
“I welcome Allies contributing additional forces to NATO. NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO said that in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO increased its presence in the eastern part of the alliance, including with four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These units, led by the UK, Canada, Germany and the US respectively, are multinational, and combat-ready. Their presence makes clear that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance. There were no NATO forces in the eastern part of the Alliance before 2014. (Image source: Instagram)

China targets UK Minister for making anit-Beijing remarks, says Britain following Cold War playbook

London [UK] (ANI): China has said that the UK is following the Cold War playbook, which it will get nowhere following the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss’ remarks in Australia where she blamed Beijing for exerting the “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia.
“The accusations against China in this speech confuse right and wrong and raise questions about their real intention. They are full of disinformation about China as well as the current international situation,” the Chinese Embassy in the UK said in a statement on Sunday. “Today’s world is a far cry from the one 40 or 50 years ago. The Cold War is long gone! In the face of global challenges including pandemics, what the international community needs is solidarity and cooperation, not division or confrontation. British diplomacy, if following the Cold War playbook, will get nowhere,” the statement added.
The embassy further stated that what the people are seeing is parroting of US rhetorics in the speech, drawing lines along with ideology and discrediting other sovereign countries regardless of facts. “This is an attempt to justify the move to create the small circles, which has inflicted negative impact on regional peace and stability,” it said.
China’s remarks came after UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss delivered a speech at the Lowy Institute of Australia recently, in which she mentioned China several times, blaming China groundlessly for exerting “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia. She called on the UK and Australia to work with some other countries to “defend economic security and freedom”. (Image source: Instagram)

Xi shows skill in carving out a likely third term

Hong Kong (ANI): 2022 is very important for China. Next month it hosts the Beijing Winter Olympics, while later is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th Party Congress. The latter will shape the constitution of China’s communist leadership and the country’s policy priorities for the ensuing five years and beyond.
The congress is thus a seminal event for the CCP and for its leader Xi Jinping. Most speculation agrees that Xi will stay in power for a third five-year term, and he will certainly be seeking stability in the period leading up to that congress. In a webinar entitled “Towards Xi’s Third Term: China’s 20th Party Congress and Beyond”, the Washington DC-based Brookings Institute invited various academic luminaries to give their thoughts on Xi and his ambitions ahead of the congress.
Cheng Li, Director of the John L. Thornton China Center, noted, “Beijing has been playing hardball. Xi Jinping believes China now has more leverage in the current global economic landscape… For the CCP leadership, this reinforces its position on Xinjiang and Hong Kong- they’re not negotiable – and it will continue the pressure campaign against Taiwan independence.”
However, there are a couple of key tensions facing the CCP elite. One is that Beijing must reconcile the need for stability with its hardline policies. Cheng perceived three ways Xi is doing this. The first is that the government believes it has gained sufficient political capital from recent successes such as public health, poverty elimination, green development, technological advancement and military modernization.
The second is Xi’s recent call for common prosperity plus some popular moves to help vulnerable groups. Furthermore, his assertive foreign policy and nationalistic appeals resonate well with the public.
The third is that Xi’s proteges, especially those to be promoted for the next Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), have substantial leadership experience from provinces like Guangdong known for their vibrant private sectors and international economic engagement. “This will revitalize, in the hopes of Beijing, the confidence of private entrepreneurs and the Chinese middle class.”
A second tension exists between Xi’s core and ambiguity in mandatory CCP retirement ages.
The retirement age policy had imparted consistency and a sense of fairness, but many question whether it will continue. Cheng expects only one member of the PSC to retire this time around, but for the others there is no objective criterion to decide who will stay and who will retire, “potentially causing serious resentment and resistance”.
Recently, Xi has emphasized the importance of unity within party leadership. Things have improved, for in Xi’s second term, only two of 376 Central Committee members were purged, compared to 42 arrested for corruption in his first term.
Cheng predicted that Xi will undertake three measures to reduce this tension about failures to retire according to age, as per established norm. First is that he will offer intensive justification as to why a small number of leaders will remain in the top echelon, such as continuity of economic policy.
Secondly, Xi will probably promote a significant number of “younger” leaders (born in the 1960s) into the Politburo and PSC to signal that a generational change is under way. Such a change is already evident at the provincial-government level where the mandatory retirement age is strictly enforced. Of 31 provincial governors, all but one were born in the 1960s, and 94% were appointed in just the past couple of years. Cheng estimated that 85% of seats in the new Central Committee will be held by people born in the 1960s or later (compared with 52% at present).
Thirdly, as part of his promotion policy, he will probably allow some leaders from other factions or those without allegiances to attain seats in the Politburo and PSC “to sustain leadership unity”.
Also referring to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, Andrew Mertha, Director of the China Global Research Center at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, highlighted that Xi has peeled away the immunity of communist leaders as high as the PSC level. This was obvious in the case of former national security chief Zhou Yongkang: “This means anyone at the top of the system is potentially a target for charges of serious disciplinary violation,” Mertha explained.
Right from the beginning, Xi has sought to disempower national leaders and to reverse their rise in influence. This is best seen in his anti-corruption campaign and his strengthening of state-owned enterprises.
In fact, Xi has shown incredible skill in navigating CCP politics and establishing himself at the apex. Mertha said many have underestimated Xi’s extraordinary intuition. “He’s an astute student of CCP history, of its structure and how it functions. And this appreciation and understanding of it forms the contours of much of what he does and how he does it.”
Metha added, “For Xi, politics is a deadly serious business. It isn’t something to be trifled with or to be disrespected. The implication is, insofar that anybody within the ruling class allows competing interests to dilute or otherwise compete with their political mandate, they forfeit their right to undertake the enormous importance of governance in China.”
Different to the ever-suspicious Mao Zedong who sidestepped or diminished established institutions, Xi has consolidated his power by “enhancing, creating, injecting new sets of institutions to amplify his policy preferences and beef up his power base, often enhancing the authority of the CCP at the expense of government agencies and their traditional mandates”.
Mertha said this approach was more durable than mere strongman rule. It is possible that the 20th Party Congress might throw up some surprises, though. In a novel piece of speculation, Alice Miller, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, raised the prospect that Xi might create a unique structure within the CCP to allow him to remain in control without necessarily doing a third term as general secretary.
This might be in the shape of restoring something akin to the 1956 system where the party chairmanship would be restored and go to Xi (the post of chairman had been eliminated in 1981), whereas the general secretary position could go to a younger man such as Chen Min’er or Hu Chunhua. Xi would then continue as chairman of the Central Military Commission, and still preside over the PSC and supply overall guidelines and vision for policy.
The general secretary, meanwhile, would report to the chairman and PSC, and also be a member of it. Leading groups would be led by members of the secretariat rather than the PSC. This was the split-level leadership system created at the 8th Party Congress in 1956.
Miller said reintroducing the 1956 system “addresses the problem of leadership rejuvenation. It allows senior leadership around Xi Jinping to continue to guide the general direction of the party’s work in the new era, of giving younger leaders a chance to gain executive experience at the top and to carry out policies consistent with the vision…”
Miller admitted that, while reintroduction of the 1956 system could be “plausible”, it also raised questions over workability. It does not answer the problem of succession, and another issue is that it creates two power centers. For example, what would happen if the chairman and general secretary disagreed with each other?
Xi has already undertaken major restructurings of CCP inner workings, but so far he has left the very top structure untouched. After a decade in power, perhaps that could change. However, Cheng Li thinks this will not happen. Instead, he believes the abolition of term limits was already preparing the way for Xi’s third term, and that no successor will be designated at this year’s congress. Nor has there been any discussion about resurrecting the chairmanship.
Anthony Saich, Director of the Ash Center for Democratic Government and Innovation at the Hardvard Kennedy School, said there were similarities and differences between Xi and Mao Zedong.
Like Mao, Xi sees the party as crucial to achieving policy objectives, thus requiring a unified, disciplined party that carries out the will of the supreme leader. “There is a need for unity of purpose and thought, and that entails the eradication of alternative narratives and the removal of any potential rivals,” Saich explained.
Xi pours scorn on the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, where he felt nobody was man enough to stand up and defend it. Xi sees his authority coming through the party, and the party as the natural inheritor of Chinese imperial rule and style.
Very significantly, Xi issued a November 2021 resolution on the CCP’s achievements of the last 100 years. Saich elaborated: “It was designed to show that Xi Jinping’s leadership today, and therefore also into the future after the next congress, is the inevitable outcome of history consolidating his preeminence within the party and empowering him to stay the course for the party over the next 100 years”.
It was only the CCP’s third historical summation, raising Xi alongside Mao and Deng. However, Xi’s resolution was very different, since his was not criticizing the past in order to set sail on a new course.
Saich again: “Xi Jinping’s purpose is distinct. It’s not defining the way forward by a negation of the recent past, but rather highlighting how the past plays into his hands to guide the future. The spotlight is on Xi, his achievements, the wrongs he has righted and the future direction for China. Interestingly, Xi is described as the principal founder of the ideology for this new era and the core of the leadership.”
Thus, all CCP members must rally around Xi as the core and his policy preferences cannot be questioned. Leninist institutions are not always stagnant and inflexible and, as the CCP shows, Xi is willing to remold it.
One consequence of the historical resolution, Saich, explained, is that Xi will definitely be appointed for a third term. Secondly, the resolution sanctions policy continuity rather than change, as with the two older historic resolutions.
Saich added, “Crucially, it means that Xi Jinping will have to lead through the party rather than being able to float above it in the manner of Mao Zedong. And the party remains preeminent, and therefore structural changes to consolidate Xi’s position may be the ones worth watching.
But that, of course, presents a possible challenge to Xi Jinping if there is an elite struggle, as his legitimacy ultimately lies with the institution rather than the individual.” Cheng of the John L. Thornton China Center thought it noteworthy how Xi, after assuming the leadership mantle, profoundly changed the balance of power between the two main factions via his large-scale anti-graft campaign. That campaign netted many supporters of the Communist Youth League, including former president Hu Jintao’s chief of staff Ling Jihua.
Having succeeded in sidelining that faction, at the end of Xi’s first term he also began distancing himself from the opposing princeling faction too. Now it is Xi’s own proteges that dominate the leadership. For example, his powerbase is Zhejiang, where he was once party boss. Perhaps eight or nine members of the next Politburo will be such people from Xi’s past, representing about a third of the group, with each owing personal loyalty.
Two or three of these will even enter the PSC. With other factions essentially defeated, Cheng suggested that infighting and jostling for power within Xi’s own personal following is most deserving of attention.
Miller suggested that the strongman status of Xi, as well as his breaking of party norms, is overplayed by Western analysts. Significantly, Xi has not yet violated the age/retirement structure – but that could well play out at the next congress. If CCP norms are examined carefully, it can be seen that Xi has not actually broken many so far.
Saich concluded: “It creates a set of problems by [Xi] staying on, there’s no doubt, for a third term. What if things go wrong? Who gets the blame? You know, can that power accumulation keep occurring?”
The CCP has very limited experience of successful turnovers of leadership, so Xi staying on as leader after the 20th Party Congress does raise important questions. If Xi pushes succession back further, will that make the CCP system more unstable long term rather than stable in the short term? (Image source: Instagram)

Smriti Mandhana named ICC Women’s Cricketer of 2021

Dubai [UAE] (ANI): India opening batter Smriti Mandhana has been named as the winner of Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for ICC Women’s Cricketer of 2021.
In the limited-overs series against South Africa where India won just two of the eight matches at home, Mandhana played a major role in both of the wins. She made 80 not out as India chased down 158 in the second ODI that helped them level the series and scored 48 not out in the win in the final T20I. Mandhana played a sublime innings of 78 in the first innings of the one-off Test against England that ended in a draw. She played an important knock of 49 in India’s only win in the ODI series. Her 15-ball 29 and fifty in the T20I series went in vain though as India fell short in both the matches and lost the series 2-1.
Mandhana was in good touch in the series against Australia, starting with the ODI series where she scored 86 in the second ODI. She compiled a brilliant century in the only Test (the first of her career), and was awarded the Player of the Match. She scored her second T20I fifty of the year in the final T20I, though India fell short and lost the series 2-0.
Mandhana made India’s first-ever pink-ball Test even more memorable by smashing her maiden century in the longest format.
The left-hander played her natural game to begin with, and scored a run-a-ball half-century, playing with caution under the lights.
Mandhana was caught on 80, but was given a reprieve after Ellyse Perry overstepped. She made the most of the lifeline, reaching her first Test century in style with a boundary.
Her innings finally came to an end at 127, after putting India in a strong position. The match ended in a draw, and Mandhana was declared the Player of the Match. (Image source: Instagram)

Australia Open: World no. 61 Cornet knocks out two-time grand slam champion Halep to enter QF

Melbourne [Australia] (ANI): World number 61 Alize Cornet of France knocked out 14th seed and two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep of Romania 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours and 33 minutes here at the Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
Cornet started off on a confident note breaking Halep in the fourth game but the two-time grand slam champion fought back to break Cornet in the very next game. In the eighth game Cornet broke the 14th seed again to take an important 5-3 lead, ultimately winning the set 6-4. Simona Halep made a strong comeback in the second set breaking her opponent in the very first game, but was broken back in the second game. Cornet broke Halep for the second time in the second set to take a 3-1 lead. In the very next game Halep made yet another comeback by breaking Cornet’s serve. From there on there was no looking back as she won all the games to take the set 6-3, making it one set apiece.
In the third and final set it was a neck-to-neck battle as both players held their serves to stay level at 3-3. In the seventh game Cornet broke Halep to nose ahead and from there on she went on to hold all her serves to win the third and final set 6-4.
World number 61 Cornet will take on American 27th seed Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals. (Image source: Instagram)

Assam: Congress-led alliance ‘Mahajot’ disintegrates within a year of its formation

Dispur (Assam) [India] (ANI): As the Congress-led alliance ‘Mahajot’ has disintegrated within a year of its formation, Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said that the BJP has admitted Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) as a partner of the party in the Legislative Assembly.
Notably, before the exit of BPF from the Mahajot, Congress broke its alliance with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). “From today, we have admitted the Bodoland People’s Front as one of the partner parties of BJP within the Assam Legislative Assembly. We will have total floor coordination with BPF as well as they will be sitting in the ruling party’s portion in the Assam assembly,” Sarma said.
However, Sarma also added that so far, the friendship will be confined to the assembly and will not extend to a political level.
“This friendship will be confined to the assembly but at a political level, we have not taken any such decision. This decision has been taken only at the level of a legislature party,” he said.
“BJP has not formed an alliance with BPF; the BJP Legislature Party and BPF Legislature Party will work together. On this, I have also taken consent from United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) and have discussed with them also. They have no objection to this new formation,” the Chief Minister said.
“So, the total strength of BJP and its friendly legislature parties is now 82 in the Assam assembly,” Sarma added.
The BPF had severed ties with BJP in February last year, just before the assembly polls in Assam and joined the grand alliance led by Congress.
Later, BPF quit the Congress-led grand alliance too.
In the Assam assembly polls, the grand alliance of Congress, AIUDF, BPF, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had won 50 seats.
Congress managed to secure 29 seats (29.7 per cent vote share) while AIUDF won 16, and Bodoland People’s Front bagged four. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) secured one seat. (Image source: Instagram)

Delhi logs 9,197 new COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Delhi continues to register a decline in its daily COVID-19 caseload, logging 9,197 new cases during the last 24 hours, said the state government on Sunday.
As per the bulletin provided by the Health Department, the positivity rate for the day has declined to 13.32 per cent. A total of 69,022 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. During the last 24 hours, 13,510 patients recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries in the national capital to 17,11,845.
Meanwhile, 34 people lost their lives to the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. The death toll in Delhi due to the disease currently stands at 25,620.
There are currently 54,246 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, out of which 42,438 are currently in home isolation. There are currently 44,132 active containment zones in the national capital.
As per the bulletin, there are currently 2,424 patients admitted to hospitals across Delhi. Out of this, 82 patients are suspected to have COVID-19 while 2,342 are confirmed cases of the disease. Of these 2,342 patients, 1,982 are from Delhi while 360 are from outside.
Of the confirmed COVID-19 patients, 814 are currently on Oxygen support, 808 on ICU support while 164 patients are on ventilator support.
As per the bulletin, 83.69 per cent of beds in dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across Delhi are vacant with only 2,424 beds out of 15,411 being currently occupied by patients. Similarly in COVID-19 care centres, 95.05 per cent of beds are empty, with only 249 out of a total of 5,026 beds being currently occupied. Lastly, in the COVID Health centres, 89.80 per cent of beds are empty, with only 20 out of total 196 beds being occupied by patients.
During the last 24 hours, 74,246 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered in the national capital as per the bulletin. Out of this, 31,809 people have been administered the first dose of the vaccine while 32,429 people have been administered the second dose.
Meanwhile, 14,102 children aged 15-18 years received their first dose of the vaccine, taking the total number of beneficiaries of the first dose in the aforementioned age bracket to 7,41,064.
A total of 2,91,76,984 vaccination doses have been administered to date out of which 1,68,31,875 people have received their first dose while 1,21,34,952 people have received their second dose of the vaccine. (Image source: Unsplash)

Iran issues permit for transit of diesel to Afghanistan

Tehran [Iran] (ANI): Iran has said that it announced that Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, a media report said.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Special Representative of the President of Iran for Afghanistan, said in a tweet on Saturday that in order to meet the needs of the Afghan people, Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, according to Ariana News. Qomi also said that Iran’s decision came following a request by the Taliban.
“In order to meet the needs of the Afghan people in the winter and according to the request of the Afghan authorities from the Islamic Republic of Iran, a permit for the transit of diesel to Afghanistan from the territory of Iran was issued for three months,” Ariana News quoted the official as saying.
The Taliban cabinet last week held a meeting. The cabinet decided that it would consider import options to meet the people’s fuel demand. (Image source: Instagram)

Imran Khan admits Pak faces massive inflation, attempts to link it as global phenomenon

Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has admitted that the people in the country are facing massive inflation as prices of commodities and fuel have surged in the nation and stated that the inflation issue keeps him awake at night, a media report said.
Answering a question about skyrocketing inflation during a general public live on-air program on Saturday, Imran Khan said that it was the only problem that “kept [him] awake at night”, reported Dawn. But Imran Khan also said that the current inflation was a “global phenomenon”.
The Prime Minister also noted that when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government came into power, they had to deal with a massive account deficit which led to a surge in the price of imports.
Imran Khan also noted that multiple countries are currently facing a supply shortage issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stating that the US has spent USD 6,000 billion for the welfare of the people during the pandemic, Imran said that Pakistan spent USD 8bn. “We must compare the situation of both countries,” he added.
The Pakistan Prime Minister also noted that currently, the UK and some European countries face record inflation.
With regard to inflation, Imran Khan also asked the media to keep a “balanced approach” while discussing inflation and to inform citizens of the situation across the world.
Admitting that inflation has affected Pakistanis a lot, Imran said that the salaried class was the most affected due to inflation. (Image source: Instagram)

Full specs sheet leaked for Realme 9 Pro

Washington [US] (ANI): Even though Realme 9 Pro and 9 Pro ‘Plus’s renders and specs got out in the last few days, there were a few gaps in the specs sheet of the former.
However, according to GSM Arena, new leaks for the phones have filled in the blanks with a comprehensive specs sheet and possible pricing as well. The Realme 9 Pro’s alleged specs sheet confirms the Snapdragon 695 SoC, which is going to be paired with at least 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (no microSD expansion slot). The 6.6″ AMOLED panel will run at 120Hz and supports HDR10 content.
The back holds a 64MP f/1.8 main camera accompanied by an 8MP f/2.3 ultrawide and 2MP f/2.4 macro unit. The front camera sitting in the off-centered hole has a 16MP sensor and f/2.5 lens.
Strangely, the device will ship with Android 11 out of the box and will be powered by a 5,000 mAh battery supporting 33W fast charging.
As per GSM Arena, people can expect the Realme 9 Pro and Pro Plus to launch in February in India and Europe while the vanilla Realme 9 is scheduled for a Q2 2022 release according to the current report. (Image source: Instagram)

SA vs Ind, 3rd ODI: Quinton’s ton help hosts set visitors 288-run target as bowlers make a late comeback

Cape Town [South Africa] (ANI): South African wicket-keeper batter Quinton de Kock scored his sixth ODI ton against India as hosts were bowled out for 287 in 49.5 overs with Indian bowlers making a comeback here at Newlands Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Opting to bowl first after winning the toss the Indian team got off to a great start with comeback man Deepak Chahar picking up the wicket of inform opener Janneman Malan in the third over of the match caught behind by wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant for only 1. Quinton de Kock carried on where he left in the previous match scoring runs at a brisk pace for the Proteas. But in the sixth over South Africa lost the wicket of their captain Temba Bavuma for just 8 as Indian captain KL Rahul sent him back to the pavilion with a direct hit from mid-off reducing the hosts to 34 for 2.
With the fall of two early wickets, the Proteas needed a partnership and Aiden Markram alongwith de Kock took the team’s total 53 for 2 in first powerplay of 10 overs. Deepak Chahar was given an extended spell as he continued to bowl his seventh over and Rahul’s decision paid off as Chahar got the wicket of Markram for 15 caught in the deep by substitute fielder Ruturaj Gaikwad leaving Proteas tottering at 70 for 3.
‘Player of the match’ award winner in the first ODI Rassie van der Dussen joined de Kock in the middle and got a life at his individual score of 12 as wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant dropped his catch in the 16th over of the match of Jayant Yadav’s bowling. Despite losing partners at the other end de Kock did not look too perturbed as he notched up his half-century of 59 deliveries.
South Africa reached the triple-figure mark in the 20th over. Dussen and de Kock struck fifty partnership to bring some stability in the South African innings. Opener de Kock started to take on Indian bowlers hitting Yuzvendra Chahal and Prasidh Krishna for boundaries and reaching close to his triple-figure mark. The Dussen and de Kock pair struck a century partnership for the fourth wicket as Proteas scored 170 runs in 30 overs.
Quinton de Kock went on to score his 17th ODI ton his sixth against India in 17 innings equaling the record of AB de Villiers and Ricky Ponting of most ODI centuries against India behind Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya who has seven tons to his name. Enroute to his century de Kock also equaled the record of quickest to 1000 runs in ODIs against India in just 16 innings equaling the record of Australian batter Steve Smith.
Rassie van der Dussen’s run of form continued as he went on to score his 10th ODI fifty. The hosts went past the 200-run mark in the 35th over as de Kock and Dussen toyed away with the Indian bowling attack.
KL Rahul introduced Jasprit Bumrah into the attack and the pacer broke the 144-run partnership dismissing centurion de Kock for 124 of 130 balls caught near the boundary line by Shikhar Dhawan to give India the much-needed breakthrough.
In the next over Yuzvendra Chahal got the prized scalp of Rassie van der Dussen for 52 of 59 deliveries caught in the deep to a brilliant running catch by Shreyas Iyer.
With two wickets in quick succession, the Indian bowlers bowled some economical overs as the Proteas scored 228 runs in 40 overs. Due to economical overs, the pressure crept and the South Africans lost the wicket of Andile Phehlukwayo to a run out by Shreyas Iyer.
David Miller and Dwaine Pretorius then started to hit boundaries as the hosts went past 250-run mark in the 44th over. The 44-run partnership for the seventh wicket came to an end as Prasidh Krishna dismissed Pretorius for 20 caught in the deep by Suryakumar Yadav. Jasprit Bumrah got his second wicket of the match dismissing Keshav Maharaj for 6 caught by Virat Kohli who took a good running catch.
In the last over of the South African innings, Prasidh Krishna dismissed David Miller and Sisanda Magala as the hosts were bowled out for 287 in 49.5 overs.
Brief scores: SA (Quinton de Kock 124, Rassie van der Dussen 52; Prasidh Krishna 3/59, Jasprit Bumrah 2/52, Deepak Chahar 2/53) vs India. (Image source: Instagram)

CWG qualifiers 2022: Bangladesh, Malaysia register wins on Day 5

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] (ANI): Bangladesh’s spinners helped their team beat Scotland by nine wickets for their third consecutive win before Malaysia recorded a memorable five-wicket victory over Kenya in the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
With Sri Lanka already having won three matches, the last match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on Monday will decide the winners of the five-team tournament, being played to decide the one remaining slot in this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. An unbeaten partnership of 78 runs for the second wicket between Murshida Khatun (50 off 35 balls) and Fargana Hoque (20 of 36) led Bangladesh to victory after they bowled Scotland out for 77 in 17.3 overs.
“After Scotland built a partnership, we didn’t panic. We were strict with our own plan. We knew we could break the partnership,” said Bangladesh skipper Nigar Sultana as per an official ICC release.
Player-of-the-match Murshida revealed her simple game plan after Bangladesh lost a wicket of the first ball of their chase. “Until the end, don’t lose my wicket,” she said.
On the other hand, Off-spinning all-rounder Mas Elysa stole the show with figures of two for 19 and a quick-fire 37 (26) to help Malaysia chase down 89 with five wickets and 10 balls to spare against Kenya.
Malaysia’s fielders ran onto the field once they got the winning runs. Captain Winifred Duraisingam explained the significance of this victory to her and her team.
“After this great win, I feel a lot is going to happen and cricket in Malaysia is going to go to another level,” she said.
The line-up for Birmingham will be confirmed in due course, after the Commonwealth Games Federation of the winning country formally accepts the slot. Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa are the seven teams already confirmed for the Games.

We’ve set target to build a new India before 100th year of independence: PM Modi

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi after unveiling the hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate on Sunday evening, said that the government has a target to build a new India before the 100th year of independence.
“Netaji used to say ‘Never lose faith in the dream of independent India. There is no power in the world that can shake India’,” PM Modi said while addressing the event today. The Prime Minister said, “Today we have a goal to fulfil the dreams of an independent India. We have a target to build a new India before the 100th year of independence, 2047.”
Paying tribute to security personnel who lost their lives while serving the nation, PM Modi stated, “It was my good fortune that our government got the opportunity to declassify files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Today, I pay tribute to all NDRF and SDRF personnel who lost their lives while serving the nation.”
The Prime Minister also advised people to move ahead in their lives by taking inspiration from the ‘Can Do, Will Do’ spirit of Netaji as he refused to bow before the British.
“Nothing could stop Netaji if he intended to do something. We also need to move further in our lives by taking inspiration from his ‘Can Do, Will Do’ spirit,” he said.
PM Modi shared his experience of a visit to the ancestral home of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Kolkata.
“It was an honour for me to visit Netaji’s ancestral home last year on his birth anniversary in Kolkata. I cannot explain in words the feeling to see his car in which he left Kolkata, his room where he used to study, etc,” the Prime Minister added.
The freedom struggle involved the sacrifices of many countrymen, but efforts were made not to mention the contribution of all of them in history, he said.
“But today, the country is correcting those mistakes after decades of Independence,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav aims at reviving India’s identity and inspirations.
“It was unfortunate that efforts were made to erase the contribution of many great personalities in India after independence,” PM Modi stated.
Speaking about disaster management in India, the Prime Minister said that for the first time, India has started the tradition of Joint Drill for Disaster Management.
He said that the disaster management was handled by the agricultural department earlier and international agencies hailed the initiatives in the disaster management sector.
“Earlier disaster management was handled by the agricultural department. Our government strengthened NDRF. International agencies hailed our initiatives in the disaster management sector,” the Prime Minister added.
He said that the Central government has laid emphasis on reform as well as an emphasis on relief, rescue and rehabilitation.
“We modernized NDRF, expanded it across the country. Space technology and other best possible practices have also been adopted for planning and management,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi unveiled the hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate today on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary.
He said that the grand statue of Netaji will inspire democratic values and future generations.
The Prime Minister also said that the grand statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed in digital form near India Gate and soon this hologram statue will be replaced by a big granite statue.
After unveiling the hologram statue, PM Modi also conferred the Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskars, for the years 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The award is announced every year on January 23. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh and a certificate in case of an institution and Rs 5 lakh and a certificate in case of an individual.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister who was also present on the occasion said that PM Modi has taken a historic decision on Parakram Diwas to honour Netaji’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle.
The statue of Netaji at India Gate is to honour his contribution to India’s freedom struggle, Shah said at the event today.
“This is not just a granite statue but a befitting tribute to the legendary Netaji, who gave up everything for India’s freedom”, he said.
It has been the constant endeavour of the Prime Minister to honour the freedom fighters in a befitting manner and the special focus of these efforts has been on the legendary freedom fighter and visionary leader, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Several steps have been taken in this regard, including the announcement that his birth anniversary will be celebrated as Parakram Diwas every year. In this spirit, Republic Day celebrations will begin a day early, from January 23. (Image source: Instagram)

Central Vista Avenue is ready with new effect, says Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, on Saturday, said that Central Vista Avenue is completely ready with its new effect.
Talking to ANI at Central Vista Avenue, Puri said that after the redevelopment, the green coverage has been increased. “Central Vista Avenue itself has been widened. Now, the walkways are of 12 to 15 kilometres. The water bodies have been cleaned. It’s a new effect”, the Union Minister added.
While talking about the challenges faced during the completion of the Central Vista project, Puri said, “The meaning of challenge is that you have to meet the challenge. The challenge has been met and it has been met in a timely manner.”
‘Despite the COVID pandemic, 4,000 people had been working round the clock. So, I am grateful to them, I am grateful to my colleague and ministry. Whenever we had required their cooperation, we got in full measure from all departments”, he added.
Puri criticised the opposition parties’ remarks over the Central Vista project. “First they were told that this project would not be completed in a timely manner. Second, there was some concern from the environmentalists. But we addressed everything.”
According to him, out of 25 trees, 22 trees have been relocated to other places. “I am hopeful that the new Parliament building will also be complete by October this year”, said the Union Minister.
It is worth mentioning that after the completion of Central Vista Avenue, additional space up to 40,000 square metres would be accessible to people. Besides this, new sidewalks have been added in place of the red sand path, resulting in 94,600 metres of walkable pathways.
“As many as 422 new stone benches have been installed. With this, there will now be 16 bridges on the canals. Amenities like restrooms have been added which will be differently-abled friendly. Tourists will also have access to a step garden where people can come and sit, said Puri.

In addition to new features, The Rajpath will now have underground stormwater drainage and a micro-irrigation sprinkler system to deal will puddles and waterlogging.
The parking facility has been increased and would now be able to house 50 buses and 1,000 vehicles at the same time. The Avenue will now have four underpasses — 150 metres in length, at the Janpath – Rajpath crossing and C-Hexagon. (Image source: Instagram)

Mumbai residential building fire: PM Modi announces ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for next of kin of deceased, Rs 50,000 for injured

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the Mumbai residential building fire in Tardeo and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said that six people died in the fire that broke out inside the 20 storey Kamala building in Mumbai on Saturday morning. The civic body further informed that 16 injured people are admitted to the various hospitals while seven have been treated and discharged. “An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the building fire in Tardeo, Mumbai. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000 each,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted quoting the Prime Minister.
“Saddened by the building fire at Tardeo in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families and prayers with the injured for the speedy recovery,” the PMO tweeted.
A level 3 fire had broken out in the residential building. DCP Saurabh Tripathi had said that 21 fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse out the fire.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray and Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the fire site. (Image source: Instagram)

Karnataka’s R-Day tableau themed on traditional handicrafts

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Karnataka’s tableau for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi is themed ‘Karnataka, the cradle of traditional handicrafts’.
As per information, the then Department of Information and Publicity (DIP) was assigned the job of making the tableau on behalf of the state and the DIP first participated in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi in 1972. This is the 50th year of participation by the Department of Information and Public Relations, marking the Golden Jubilee of participation on the eve of the Platinum Jubilee of India’s Independence.
This is also the 13th consecutive time that the state’s tableau has been selected and out of the 12 states that have been selected Karnataka is the only state from South India to feature on the Republic Day parade.
The lyrics and music have been done by Praveen D Rao, which has been exclusively prepared for the tableau, stated the Karnataka government. (Image source: Instagram)

Tamil Nadu: HC refuses to restrain SEC from notifying polls to urban body polls

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India] (ANI): Madras High Court on Friday refused to restrain Tamil Nadu State Election Commission from notifying elections to urban local bodies.
The Court also deferred the hearing of PILs seeking to postpone the election in view of the third wave of COVID to January 24. Madras HC Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu heard the case to postpone urban local body polls in Tamil Nadu until the COVID situation improves. The Court said that notification has not been issued yet but counsel claims it could be issued anytime.
Tamil Nadu State Election Commission said that it has given an undertaking to Supreme Court to notify urban local body polls before January 26, 2022. So, protocols and precautionary measures have been put in place to tackle the COVID situation.
Chief Justice said that as technical difficulties arise through video call, the case will be heard on Monday. Later, the case was adjourned. (Image source: Instagram)

TMC asks party MLA Madan Mitra to stay away from social media

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Madan Mitra has been directed by the party to stay away from social media after several of his controversial posts went viral.
The former West Bengal Transport Minister and a loyalist of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said that he will stay away from posting on social media for several months. “My social media is a personal thing. I have decided that I will not come to any Facebook Live, Instagram or any other social networking site till June 30. It is because the name of social media is in the hand of media and I was part of social media. Now the name of media should be anti-social media,” the Kamarhati MLA told ANI.
A controversy erupted over Mitra’s social media post recently. The MLA was warned by the TMC Discipline Committee. (Image source: Instagram)

Two arrested in Hyderabad for providing fake RT-PCR test reports, COVID vaccination certificates

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): Hyderabad Police arrested two people for providing fake RT-PCR COVID-19 test reports without taking swabs and vaccination certificates without administration of the physical doses.
Chakravarthy Gummi, Deputy Commissioner of Police said that the arrested persons sold fake RTPCR test reports and vaccination certificates by collecting money. The two accused were arrested in two different cases under Malakpet and Humayun Nagar police stations. According to Police, one of the arrested persons, P Laxman worked at different diagnostic centres as a lab technician. About a year ago, he opened his own diagnostic centre at Asman Ghat under Malakpet police station. He tied up with MedicsPathlabs India to send his collected samples and to get test reports. The accused tore the kits and sent dummy samples to Madcis Pathlabs. For issuing negative reports and issuing fake certificates, he collected between Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 per certificate.
Hyderabad Police seized 65 fake RTPCR certificates, 20 sample collection kits, and a mobile phone from Laxman.
In the second case, the arrested person MD Tariq, who used to work as a lab technician at different diagnostic centres earlier, opened his own diagnostic centre, “Image Diagnostic Center”, at Murad Nagar, Asif Naga year ago. Later, he partnered with laboratories to send his samples.
Police said in collusion with one Kumari, a computer operator at Afzal Sagar, Tariq started providing vaccination certificates to customers without physical doses and issued forged RTPCR reports by charging Rs 800 to Rs 1,000.
Hyderabad police seized 50 fake COVID vaccine certificates, 10 RTPCR reports and 2 mobile phones from MD Tariq.
Further investigation is underway. (Image source: Unsplash)

Taliban should respect human rights for the sake of international recognition, says UN chief

New York [US] (ANI): The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday (local time) said that the Taliban should respect human rights for the sake of recognition and international support.
The UN chief made the statement while laying out his priorities for 2022 at the General Assembly in New York, reported Tolo News. Guterres touching upon the issue of Afghanistan and human rights in the country said that respect for the rights of women and girls and human rights, in general, is required for the Islamic Emirate to gain recognition and also obtain international support.
“It is absolutely essential for them in the context of their objective of recognition, but also in the context of their objective of getting international support for their own people, it is absolutely essential to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general,” he said.
Women’s rights to work and girls’ right to education have been two key issues the international community has set as part of the conditions for recognition. Following the collapse of the former government, secondary girls’ schools have remained closed in most parts of the country.
The US special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West has said that the international community will pay the salaries of Afghan teachers if the Islamic Emirate reopens all girls’ schools in the coming school year, reported Tolo News.
The UN chief also talked about the world facing a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization and support of all countries, reported Tolo News.
“I want to begin the year by raising five alarms – on COVID-19, global finance, climate action, lawlessness in cyberspace, and peace and security,” he said. “Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges, now is the time to act,” he added. (Image source: Instagram)

PM Modi calls for direct, emotional connect between administration, public to ensure better governance

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Recalling NITI Aayog’s ‘Aspirational Districts’ programme that is essentially aimed at localizing sustainable development goals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for direct, emotional connect between administration and public to ensure ‘top to bottom’ as well as ‘bottom to top’ governance flow.
“For development in aspirational districts, a direct connect between the administration and the public, an emotional connection, is very important. A ‘top to bottom’ and ‘bottom to top’ flow of governance is needed. And the important aspect of this campaign is technology and innovation,” said the Prime Minister while interacting with the district magistrates of various districts on the implementation of key government schemes. As per the NITI Aayog bulletin, the Aspirational Districts Programme essentially is aimed at localizing Sustainable Development Goals, leading to the progress of the nation.
Speaking further, PM Modi said, “Convergence has proved to be a major reason for the success of the Aspirational Districts Programme. All resources are same, the government machinery is same, officials are same but the result is different.”
The Prime Minister also said, “On the one hand, earlier, the budget kept increasing, plans kept on making, economic development also kept happening in the figures, but even after 75 years of independence, many districts in the country remained behind. Over time these districts were tagged with backward districts.”
“But, times are changing now,” he added.
The Prime Minister took direct feedback about the progress and present status of implementation of government schemes and programmes in the districts. It is aimed at achieving saturation of various schemes by various departments in the districts in mission mode, in convergence with all stakeholders.
Under the leadership of PM Modi, the Government has continuously taken several steps to overcome the asymmetry in growth and development across the country. This is in line with the commitment of the Government towards raising the living standards of all citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all. (Image source: Instagram)

People of Western UP say BJP will cross 300 mark in Assembly polls: Amit Shah

Kairana (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Union Home Minister Amit Shah kick-started the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election campaign for western Uttar Pradesh from Kairana on Saturday. He said the people of Western Uttar Pradesh’s confidence in the party indicates that BJP will cross the 300 margin in the upcoming state Assembly polls.
Shah interacted with people under BJP’s door-to-door campaign in Kairana. Shah met families who once migrated from Kairana and now returned to their homeland. The BJP has fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of late Hukum Singh who had won the seat several times, from Kairana. Shah campaigned for Mriganka Singh in Kairana. Briefing the mediapersons, the Union Home Minister said, “There was a government that used to work for only one community. To maintain the law and order situation and to put an end to appeasement politics in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is to be formed with a thumping majority.”

“The people of Kairana were migrating before. Today when I visited Kairana, people said they have returned due to the development work of Modi ji and Yogi ji. The traders said they are running their businesses peacefully due to the law and order situation maintained by the BJP government. With the confidence seen among the people of Uttar Pradesh, I feel that in the coming days, Uttar Pradesh is going to become the most developed state of India.”
Elections to the 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases starting February 10.
The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, and March 3 and 7 in seven phases. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (Image source: Instagram)

Turkey stresses support for political resolution in Libya

Tripoli [Libya] (ANI/Xinhua): Turkey’s Ambassador to Libya Kenan Yilmaz on Monday stressed his country’s support for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya.
The Turkish ambassador made his remarks during a meeting with Libyan Deputy Prime Minister of Hussein Al-Qatrani in the capital Tripoli, according to a statement issued by the Libyan Government’s information office. “During the meeting, the Turkish ambassador expressed his country’s keenness to support the efforts of the political track by listening to all points of view of all the political parties,” the statement said.
“He also stressed the need to reactivate the diplomatic and consular representation in Benghazi as soon as possible, as well as the return of commercial exchange between Turkey and eastern Libya,” the statement added.
Al-Qatrani praised Turkey’s support for Libya, calling for enhancing joint cooperation between the two countries. (Image source: Instagram)

Houthis call on foreign companies to leave UAE as conflict escalates

Sana’a [Yemen] (ANI/Sputnik): Yemen’s Houthi movement has called on foreign companies to pull out of the United Arab Emirates following a series of airstrikes against Yemen by the US-Saudi-UAE coalition, Yahya Sare’e, a spokesman for the Houthi armed forces, said on Friday.
“After the crimes committed by US-Saudi-UAE aggression today against Yemeni people , we advise the foreign companies in Emirates to leave because they invest in an unsafe country and the rulers of this country continue in their aggression against Yemen,” Sare’e said on Twitter. On Monday, several Houthi drones targeted the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, including the construction site of a new airport and fuel tankers near depots of oil company ADNOC, killing three people and injuring six others.
In response, the Saudi-led coalition launched a campaign against Houthis, targeting their warehouses and other infrastructure. The movement accused the allies of bombing residential areas in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, destroying houses and killing over 20 people. The international human rights organization Save the Children, in turn, reported at least 63 people dead, including 3 children, and 100 injured in a series of air strikes on Yemen on Friday.
The conflict between Yemen government forces and the Houthi rebels started in 2014. The situation deteriorated further after the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia joined the conflict in 2015 on the side of the Yemen government and began conducting air, land and sea operations against the Houthis. (Image source: Instagram)

Philippines logs 30,552 new COVID-19 cases

Manila [Philippines] (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 30,552 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, raising the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,387,524.
The number of active cases decreased to 280,619 from a record of 291,618 on Friday. The country’s positivity rate rose further to 45.1 per cent from 44 per cent the previous day. The DOH said 97 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country’s death toll to 53,406.
The Philippines is grappling with the fourth wave of infections amid the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The country reported the highest single-day tally on January 15 with 39,004 new cases.
The country, which has around 110 million population, has tested so far more than 24 million people. (Image source: Instagram)

UK Foreign Secretary to meet with Lavrov in Moscow in Feb

Moscow [Russia] (ANI): The Russian side consented to a request for a visit by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to Moscow in February, TASS News Agency reported citing a diplomatic source.
“The head of UK’s diplomatic agency asked about an opportunity to come to Moscow for talks with (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov. Moscow agreed to hold the visit in February,” the source said. Citing a UK-based publication source, TASS reported that in mid-January, Truss, who became Foreign Secretary in September 2021, may visit Russia as early as the beginning of February.
Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin said that the Russian Embassy in the UK had not received an official request with regards to her visit to Moscow.
UK Foreign Secretaries have not visited Russia since December 2017, when Boris Johnson who is now heading the UK government came to Moscow, it added. (Image source: Instagram)

In tit-for-tat response, US blocks Chinese airlines after Beijing’s action

Washington [US] (ANI): The US on Friday (local time) in a counterstroke to China’s virus policy blocked 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines as Beijing had taken the same step against American carriers as part of its strict coronavirus control policies.
The move comes as China has been suspending flights by American carriers after alleging in-bound passengers had later tested positive for the coronavirus, said Ian Duncan, a reporter covering federal transportation agencies and the politics of transportation, writing in The Washington Post. The US Transportation Department issued an order Friday blocking 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines. The restrictions begin on January 30 and run until March 29. The move will affect flights between Los Angeles and New York and five Chinese cities, reported The Washington Post.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the Chinese government has imposed a policy known as the “circuit breaker” that imposed limits on inbound flights by airlines if their passengers subsequently test positive for the coronavirus.
The US government argued that the policy is an unfair restriction on aviation that violates a long-standing agreement between the two countries.
The dispute over US-China aviation during the pandemic has been rumbling since late spring of 2020, when the Trump administration moved to block flights from China. The two countries eventually agreed to allow limited schedules.
In August, the Chinese government imposed capacity limits on United Airlines, an alternative sanction under the circuit breaker. The United States responded, targeting Chinese airlines, said Duncan.
The new US order goes further, banning passengers altogether. The four Chinese carriers targeted in the order will be permitted to continue operating flights from the United States to China if they only carry cargo. They still are allowed to carry passengers from China to the United States.
The suspended flights to China begin on January 30 and include flights from the carriers Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines Company and Air China.
Airlines that operate a China-bound flight that contains between five and nine passengers who subsequently test positive for the coronavirus are supposed to have two options: suspend that flight for two weeks or limit that flight’s capacity to 40 percent for four weeks. The Chinese government says it applies the rules in the same way to domestic and international airlines, said Duncan.
But the Transportation Department says in the case of the most recent incidents, the US carriers were not given the choice and were told they must cancel the flights, while being denied advance warning.
“US carriers, who are following all relevant Chinese regulations with respect to pre-departure and in-flight protocols, should not be penalized if passengers, post-arrival, later test positive for COVID-19,” the department wrote in Friday’s order.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines, which has had 14 flights suspended by China in recent weeks, said, “We appreciate continued US government efforts to ensure fairness and access to China.”

Oppo Find X5 series coming in late February

Washington [US], January 21 (ANI): Oppo’s highly-anticipated smartphone series–the Find X5 might be launched in the second half of February.
As per GSM Arena, Oppo has already scheduled a launch event for its Find X5 series for the second half of February. Previously it was reporter that the announcement will come after the Chinese New Year on February 1. Reportedly, the vanilla Find X5 will run on the Dimensity 9000 chipset and this will be the first phone to have it.
Oppo will introduce its custom NPU MariSilicon X as well. It’s not clear whether all Find X5 phones will benefit from the new NPU or just the Pro model. (Image source: Instagram)

SA vs India: Battered visitors look to salvage some pride in final ODI

Cape Town [South Africa] (ANI): Having lost the ongoing ODI series against South Africa, KL Rahul-led India would look to salvage some pride by winning the final match, and avoiding a whitewash.
The third and final ODI will be a chance for Virat Kohli to end the tour on a high as he would look to end his century drought. Kohli had last registered an international century way back in 2019 as he scored a ton against Bangladesh in the day-night Test at the Eden Gardens. After that, the batter managed to breach half-century several times, but the three-figure mark has kept on evading him. India had suffered a 31-run loss in the first ODI while the KL Rahul-led side suffered a seven-wicket loss in the second game of the three-match series.
In the first two ODIs, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul both showed glimpses of brilliance, but they failed to get it together as a unit, and the duo would hope to go all the way in the final match. Rishabh Pant impressed one and all with his 85-run knock in the second ODI, and the wicketkeeper would look to continue with his form.
Venkatesh Iyer and Shreyas Iyer have failed to impress with the bat so it needs to be seen whether the team management wants to have a look at Suryakumar Yadav in the final ODI. Talking about bowling, India has been lacklustre in the ongoing series with Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving the worst performance of them all.
It looks like the time is running out for Bhuvneshwar and the team management might give a chance to Mohammed Siraj who is waiting within the wings. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal have bowled probing spells but the wickets have kept on evading them.
It has only been Jasprit Bumrah who has been a shining light with the ball, but in the second ODI, the pacer once again failed to pick a wicket in the powerplay overs, and this costed the Men in Blue as the side failed to defend 287.
Talking about the Proteas, the Temba Bavuma-led side has punched above their weight, and this has seen the side backup the Test series with an ODI series triumph. Both batting and bowling have come together for the hosts, and South Africa would look to continue with the same.
India ODI squad: KL Rahul (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini
South Africa ODI squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Zubayr Hamza, Marco Jansen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne. (Image source: Instagram)

Pro Kabaddi League: Bengaluru Bulls look to bounce back; UP Yoddha aim to keep winning

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): In-form UP Yoddha will lock horns with Haryana Steelers on Sunday in the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League Season 8. Yoddha pulled off an incredible win against Bengal Warriors in their previous outing thanks to another resolute performance from their defence. They will however be facing a Haryana Steelers team who beat the mighty Dabang Delhi in their last encounter.
The second game of the night will feature Gujarat Giants and Bengaluru Bulls. The Bulls will be looking to bounce back from an unlucky loss against the Warriors. Both the matches will be held at the Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, Bengaluru. The Yoddha defence has been winning the plaudits in their recent wins, but Pardeep Narwal’s form will add another weapon into their already strong armoury. Surender Gill has been excellent for UP throughout season 8 but Pardeep’s form means they now have a serious double-headed attack targeting both sides of the mat.
UP are on a three-match winning streak but Haryana will pose a different threat on Sunday. In Vikash Kandola, they have a star raider who can expose even the best defences, while the combination of Jaideep and Surender Nada has worked wonders in their backline. The match could well be decided on raider Surender Gill’s personal battle with Surender Nada on the left. The experienced left corner defender will need his right cover to be in excellent form to stop the insatiable Surender Gill.
Give Pawan Sehrawat time on the mat, he will hurt you! Every team in the Pro Kabaddi League should know this as a golden rule by now. But how do you stop the ‘High-Flyer’? Especially with his ability to change sides at will.
Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh certainly loves a challenge and will be hoping to inspire his star-packed defence to do what most teams have failed in this tournament. Girish Ernak’s presence in the left corner will be crucial to their chances. The experienced defender missed their previous outing due to an injury. Luckily for Gujarat, the seasoned cover combination of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal is starting to find their form. The two were mammoth in their win against Tamil Thalaivas.
Bengaluru’s Bharat and Chandran Ranjit have donned the secondary raider roles to perfection to revive Pawan Sehrawat. Bharat has been particularly impressive, using his lanky body to pick bonus points and woo touches. The Gujarat raiders Rakesh S and Mahender Rajput will need to match that against a Bulls defence growing in confidence. Saurabh Nandal and Mahender Singh have been in good shape for the Season 6 winners.
Saurabh’s success has been down to his powerful holds. He has stopped most raiders who have tried jumping above him – a trap set up by kneeling down early to entice the attackers. The raiders should hence look for a feint than take the predictable move over his top. Bengaluru won the reverse fixture with a 9-point margin but expect this match to be fiercely-contested. (Image source: Instagram)

With 3.37 lakh new COVID-19 cases, India reports 9,550 less infections in last 24 hrs

New Delhi [India] (ANI): India on Saturday reported a dip in daily COVID-19 infections as the country logged 3,37,704 fresh cases in the last 24 hours with a daily positivity rate of 17.22 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As per government data, new infections were 9,550 less than that reported on Friday. India had reported 3,47,254 new COVID-19 cases and the daily positivity rate stood at 17.94 per cent yesterday. The ministry in today’s COVID-19 bulletin said that India’s active caseload currently stands at 21,13,365. The active cases account for 5.43 per cent of the total cases. The weekly positivity rate is at 16.65 per cent.
With 2,42,676 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries mounted to 3,63,01,482. Consequently, the recovery rate is at 93.31 per cent.
In the last 24 hours, 488 people succumbed to the virus. The death toll is now at 4,88,884.
A total of 10,050 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected so far. The ministry said that there is an increase of 3.69 per cent in Omicron cases since yesterday.
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 19,60,954 tests were conducted on Friday. Over 71.34 crore tests have been conducted so far.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing nationwide vaccination drive against COVID-19 that was started on January 16 last year, India’s vaccination coverage has exceeded 161.16 crore.
With the administration of more than 67 lakh (67,49,746) vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 161.16 crore (1,61,16,60,078) as per provisional reports till 7 am today, the ministry said in a statement.
A total of 74,53,904 precaution doses have been administered to eligible beneficiaries. Of these, 25,79,571 were given to healthcare workers, 24,69,995 to frontline workers and 24,04,338 to those above 60 years of age with comorbidities.
In the vaccination drive for those aged between 15-18 years, which was started on January 3 this year, 4,06,33,023 vaccine doses have been given so far. (Image source: Instagram)

BJP releases second list of 85 candidates for Uttar Pradesh assembly polls

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday released the second list of 85 candidates for the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Aditi Singh, who had resigned from Congress to join BJP, has been given the ticket from Rae Bareli. The party had released the first list of 107 candidates on January 15.
The 403-member assembly of Uttar Pradesh will vote in all seven phases will polling to be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, and March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (Image source: Instagram)

Hyderabad police nabs inter-state robbery gang, arrests 3 persons

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): The Hyderabad City police nabbed an inter-state robbery gang and held three persons on Thursday.
According to the statement released by Hyderabad Police Commissioner CV Anand, around 12 pm on January 10 two unidentified persons came on a bike and entered the house of Sulecha Jain and attempted to kidnap her. When inmates and neighbours gathered, they fled the area. Later, a phone call over the internet was then initiated by the accused in which they threatened to kill the family and demanded Rs 1 crore in return for their life. The police statement further read, Javarilal (main accused) and his nephew Vikram (second accused) immigrated to Hyderabad from Rajasthan and were engaged in the hardware business at Bachupally. Mahendra Pratap Singh (third accused) is a relative of Javarilal and a debt collector. Javarilal attempted to overcome financial debts by abducting a well-established businessman named Manoj Salecha Jain, who runs a bulk drug business. Javarilal purchased a firearm from Madhya Pradesh for Rs 30,000 and had also stolen a Honda Activa. He had also conducted a recce at the house of the complainant. The case was detected by the North Zone Task Force Team of Hyderabad. (Image source: Instagram)

CISF recovers 60,000 US dollars worth Rs 45 lakh at Mumbai Airport

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Friday recovered 60,000 US Dollars which converts approximately to Rs 45 lakh, from the possession of a ground handling agency staff at Mumbai Airport.
The appended staffer has been identified as Ritesh Parker, who belongs to ground handling agency Aviaxpert Pvt Ltd. at Mumbai Airport. Parker was caught around 12.40 a.m. during his frisking at Security Hold Area (SHA) of Terminal 2, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International (CSMI) Airport, Mumbai after the CISF personnel observed that he had concealed something at lower part of his body under his clothes and socks.
“During thorough physical checking, 60,000 US dollars which worth approximately Rs 45 lakh in indian currency were recovered from his possession. He was later identified as Ritesh Parker, AEP No.BOM 2812210113 of Aviaxpert Pvt. Ltd. dealing as ground handling agency at Mumbai Airport,” the CISF said.
On questioning, the CISF said, Parker informed that he was going to hand over the said foreign currency to someone at boarding gate No.46.
“Immediately, the matter was informed to Senior Officers of CISF. In the meantime, CISF surveillance team located a passenger (later identified as Sufiyaan Shahnawaz Shaikh, bound for Dubai by IndiGo flight No.6E-8271) near the boarding gate No.46. He was intercepted and enquired. On questioning, the said passenger refuses any involvement in the case,” said the CISF, which is responsible for the internal security of 64 airports across India.
“But as the staff confirmed that he was about to hand over the foreign currency to the said passenger, he was stopped with the help of the airline staff and the matter was informed to Customs/Air Intelligence Unit Officials,” officials said.
On arrival of the Customs Officials, the CISF said, Parker and the passenger along with the recovered foreign currency worth Rs 45 lakh were handed over to them for further action in the matter. (Image source: Instagram)

Government dedicates ‘Thrividha Dasoha’ to people of the state: CM Bommai

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): The state government has dedicated itself to providing ‘Thrividha Dasoha of Anna ‘(food), ‘Akshara’ (education) and ‘Ashraya’ (shelter) for all the poor and weaker sections of the society, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
Speaking to media persons after launching the Dasoha(charity) programme as part of the Dasoha Day celebrations at Sri Siddaganga Mutt, Bommai said, Dasoha is a tradition of Karnataka. This is a day that conveys the importance of food, education and shelter, said Bommai. The state government has raised the per capita quota of rice for Anna Dasoha from 4kg to 5kg. Ragi and Jowar too are being distributed in accordance with the food habits of the region, he added.
The ration is being provided for Mutts and other charity institutions which are engaged in Anna Dasoha. As for Akshara Dasoha, the state government has launched the Vidya Nidhi scheme for children of farmers, Rs 150 cr has been released for direct disbursement of scholarships for children of construction workers. State and central governments have taken up housing schemes for Ashraya Dasoha and about 5 lakh houses are being built, Bommai said.
On celebrating Dasoha Day as a government programme, Dasoha Day would be celebrated in a more organised way as a government programme. The state government is committed to spreading Dasoha culture all over the state. “I have participated in today’s programme with a resolve to tread in the path of Siddaganga Seer. It is our government’s mission to provide food, education and shelter for all,” Bommai said.
Replying to a question about conferring Bharat Ratna for Sri Shivakumaraswamiji, the Chief Minister said he would decide on sending the recommendation to the union government after discussing the issue with his top leadership.
The meeting with expert committee members later in the afternoon would decide on the continuation of the weekend curfew. Many legislators, MPs and organisations are set to convey their opinion on the issue. A suitable decision would be taken based on the views of the experts and the trend of the prevailing third wave of COVID-19, Bommai said. (Image source: Instagram)

France receives request from Mali to review defence accords

Paris [France] (ANI/Sputnik): The French Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that Mali has requested that France review bilateral defence agreements.
On Sunday, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the France 24 broadcaster that the African country had officially requested Paris to reevaluate their bilateral defence pact. “We have received a request of that sort, [and] are considering it,” a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at a briefing when asked by Sputnik.
At the same time, the ministry did not reveal what exactly Mali wants to review.
Mali has experienced two military coups over the past two years. The first coup, which took place in August 2020, resulted in the ousting of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the appointment of Ba N’daw as interim president.
Ba N’daw was arrested by soldiers on May 24, 2021. The Military Council, led by Vice President Assimi Goita, took over the country and announced presidential and parliamentary elections next year. The constitutional court of Mali declared Goita president of the transitional period.
In November, Diop said that the general election, which was supposed to end the transition period, will have to be postponed from February 2022 to 2025 due to the volatile security situation.
In 2013, France and Mali signed defence agreements after Paris launched a military operation to counter Islamist militants. The deal provides legal grounds for French troops to operate in the country. (Image source: Unsplash)

Turkey, Qatar reach deal with Taliban on security at Kabul Airport

Ankara [Turkey] (ANI): Turkey and Qatar have reached an agreement with the Taliban on the issue of maintaining security at the Kabul airport, reported Sputnik.
“Negotiations in Kabul are ongoing. Our delegation is there. An agreement has been reached on the issue of security,” Sputnik quoted a source from the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday. However, discussions are continuing regarding the calculation of the cost of this process, the sources said
“The negotiation process is taking place in a constructive manner,” the source informed further.
It came after the second round of negotiations over the running of Afghanistan’s airports had begun with a Qatar-Turkish company earlier this month.
The Deputy Head of Civil Aviation, Ghulam Gilani Wafa, earlier in January had said the Afghan side will attempt to find the best choice when signing the contract, according to TOLOnews.
“Today, we started online negotiations and they will continue until we reach a decision on the contract. We will start face-to-face negotiations if we feel it is needed,” Gilani Wafa had said. (Image source: Instagram)

Blinken says not anticipating big breakthroughs during meeting with Lavrov in Geneva

Geneva [Switzerland] (ANI/Sputnik): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that he does not expect big breakthroughs on the Ukrainian crisis and security issues during his upcoming meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which is to be held in Geneva on Friday.
“I don’t anticipate any breakthroughs,” Blinken told the German TV channel ZDF, when asked about the expected results of the meeting. At the same time, he noted that many intensive talks with Russia have been held lately. According to the politician, participants had the opportunity to discuss the results of the consultations, and the forthcoming meeting with Lavrov will show what conclusions the parties reached.
“At least, I hope we’ll know more tomorrow – about whether Russia is genuinely committed to trying to resolve these differences diplomatically through dialogue or not,” Blinken added.
Earlier in the day, Blinken arrived in Geneva for his meeting with Lavrov to discuss security matters in Eastern Europe after his visits to Kiev and Berlin. The talks are expected to start at 13:00 Moscow time (10:00 GMT). Sources in both delegations told Sputnik that the meeting is expected to last from two to two and a half hours, after which Lavrov and Blinken will hold separate press conferences.
In the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for invasion. Russia has dismissed these claims, maintaining that it has no intention of invading Ukraine while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.
Russia has also expressed concern over NATO’s military activity near its borders and ongoing military support of Ukraine, including an increase in the number of Western instructors in Donbas.
In December, the Russian government proposed a set of mutual security guarantees in Europe to NATO and the United States, with their response still pending. (Image source: Instagram)

West Bengal legislative assembly hears Mukul Roy’s defection case, next hearing on January 28

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy’s defection case was heard before the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on Wednesday where the Speaker observed that they will abide by the Supreme Court’s order in Roy’s case.
“We’ll abide by the order of the Supreme Court and within a due course of time, the order on Mukul Roy will be out”, said West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee. He further informed that the next hearing date would be January 28. As per information, case submission from Mukul Roy’s side ended today and BJP is yet to reply in the case.
“The hearing took place today. I wanted to continue it tomorrow as well but the lawyer asked for the date of January 28”, the Speaker added.
The Supreme Court on Monday has directed the Speaker for a speedy discussion on Mukul Roy’s disqualification case. The Apex Court hopes to take a concrete decision in the second week of February.
In June 2021, West Bengal Leader of opposition, Suvendu Adhikari had filed a petition before the Speaker, seeking the disqualification of Roy as a member of the Assembly, on the grounds of his defection to the TMC.
Further BJP MLA Ambika Roy had advanced a plea challenging Mukul Roy’s election as chairman of the public accounts committee (PAC). (Image source: Instagram)

Nepal PM Deuba assures three-tier elections within a year

Kathmandu [Nepal] (ANI): Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has assured to hold three-tier elections within a year asking the electoral body of the Himalayan nation to start preparing for it.
Addressing the nation on completion of six months in power after being elected for the fifth term, Deuba claimed that his leadership is committed to hold the elections on time and asked the Election Commission to prepare for it accordingly. Referring to obstruction in house by the opposition and stalled amendment bills in the lower house Prime Minister Deuba also promised to resolve all the issues beforehand.
“Having dialogue and talks with all the political parties present in parliament, the deadlock of the lower house would be brought to an end and all the topics under discussion will be concluded accordingly. The government owns the responsibility to hold three-tier elections, I request all concerned authorities to carry on the preparatory works for the polls,” Deuba said in a televised address.
Though Prime Minister Deuba reiterated to hold the elections on time he didn’t mention when it would be held or of which area would be held first.
“Responsibility of holding the three-tier election within one year, the government has been carrying out preparatory works for it,” the Prime Minister reiterated.
The ruling coalition has been debating over holding elections of local or federal levels first which increases speculation about the government’s motive. (Image source: Instagram)

BJP releases first list of 34 candidates for Punjab polls

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New Delhi [India] (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday announced its first list of 34 candidates for Punjab assembly polls.
Party general secretary Tarun Chugh said at a joint press conference here that 12 candidates in the list are from farmer families, eight tickets have been given to members from the Dalit community, and 13 candidates are from the Sikh community. “Tickets have been given to 12 candidates who belong to farmers’ families, 8 tickets to members of the SC community, 13 tickets to Sikhs. The list has doctors, lawyers, sportspersons, farmers, youth, women, and former IAS,” Chugh said.
BJP is fighting the polls in alliance with Punjab Lok Congress led by Capt Amarinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt).
The BJP has fielded Arvind Khanna from Sangrur, Manoranjan Kalia from Jalandhar Central and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi from Ferozepur City.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Punjab BJP in-charge Dushyant Gautam were also present at the press conference. (Image source: Instagram)

Piyush Goyal asks Indian industry to target 75 unicorns in 75 weeks to mark 75th anniversary of Independence

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday called upon the Indian industry to aim for raising 75 unicorns in the next 75 weeks to mark the 75th anniversary of Independence.
“We have added 43 unicorns in 45 weeks, since the start of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ on 12th March, 2021. Let us aim for at least 75 unicorns in this 75 week period to 75th Anniversary of Independence,” Goyal said while releasing the NASSCOM Tech Start-up Report 2022. Goyal said Startup India started a revolution six years ago and has now become a common household term. Indian Startups are fast becoming the champions of India Inc’s growth story, he added.
“India has now become the hallmark of a trailblazer & is leaving its mark on global startup landscape. Investments received by Indian startups overshadowed pre-pandemic highs. 2021 will be remembered as the year Indian start-ups delivered on their promise, – fearlessly chasing opportunities across verticals – Edtech, HealthTech & AgriTech amongst others,” he said.
Goyal lauded Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) industry including the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for the record services exports during the last year.
“Services Export for Apr-Dec 2021 reached more than $178 billion despite the COVID-19 pandemic when the travel, hospitality and tourism sectors were significantly down,” he said.
He pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared 16th January as the National Startup Day, showing his commitment to take the innovation culture to every nook and corner of the country.
“We all celebrated this innovation spirit through Startup India Innovation Week, during the last week as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. PM’s interaction with Startups a week ago has supercharged the courage of our innovators,” he said.
The minister expressed hope that the momentum of the Indian Startup ecosystem will continue in the current year and the years to come.
“While 2021 was a year in which we defied all odds, 2022 will be the breakthrough year which will unlock country’s exponential value. ‘India at 100’ will be renowned as a Startup nation. But as PM Modi said yesterday in his speech- the “Amrit Kaal,” the coming 25 years – are the period of utmost hard work, sacrifice and tapasya,” he said.
Goyal said the Government has taken several steps to boost startup ecosystem. The measures include: Removing problems of ‘Angel tax’, simplification of tax procedure & allowing self-certification and self-regulation towards which we are moving; reducing burden of over 26,500 compliances and decriminalisation of 770 compliances. (Image source: Instagram)

Instagram begins testing paid subscriptions

Washington [US] (ANI): Facebook launched Subscriptions in June 2020 to help creators earn money with the support of their communities.
As per GSM Arena, that business model has now expanded to Instagram as the company announced Instagram Subscriptions. With Instagram Subscriptions, Instagram aims to help creators on its platform “develop deeper connections with their most engaged followers and grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits,” and, once the followers get subscribed to creators, they get the benefits of Subscriber Lives, Subscriber Stories, and Subscriber Badges.
Instagram Subscriptions will be initially available to a limited number of creators in the US. However, Instagram said it plans to expand this feature to more creators over the next few months.
As per GSM Arena, the Subscriptions feature will allow creators to unlock a “subscribe” button on their Instagram profile and set a monthly price of their choice. And, citing its commitment to support the platform’s creators, Instagram said it will not charge any fees for these subscriptions from the creators until 2023.
It’s unclear when Instagram Subscriptions will be rolled out globally, but if the testing in the US goes smooth, the feature is expected to begin rolling out widely in a few months. (Image source: Unsplash)

France to ease COVID-19 restrictions in February

Paris [France] (ANI/Xinhua): French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday evening that the government will proceed to ease certain COVID-19 related restrictions in February.
During a press conference, Castex stressed that the Omicron variant “is absolutely not just a flu.” He once again recalled the importance of being vaccinated, saying that a fully vaccinated person is 4.5 times more unlikely to be infected than a non-vaccinated, and has 25 times less chance to turn into severe cases.
Castex announced that the vaccine pass, replacing the current health pass, will be effective on Jan. 24, subject to the decision of the Constitutional Council on Friday.
The vaccine pass enables people to gain access to public venues without the need to present a negative COVID-19 test.
As for access to nursing homes and hospitals, the vaccine pass won’t be mandatory. Children between the ages of 12 to 15 can present a health pass and not a vaccine pass, the Prime Minister added.
He reminded that, effective from Feb. 15, all persons that haven’t received the booster shot four month following the second dose will not be considered as having a complete vaccination cycle.
However, Castex announced that starting from February, certain restriction measures will be eased.
From Feb. 2, caps on the number of people allowed in indoor and outdoor events will be lifted. Masks will no longer be required outdoors.
Teleworking will also no longer be mandatory, but still encouraged, he added.
Starting from Feb. 16, eating and drinking in stadiums, cinemas, public transports will again be allowed, as well as standing in bars, concerts and the opening of nightclubs.
The Scientific Council announced in a statement on Thursday that “the fifth wave with the Omicron variant is not over and its impact on the healthcare system will remain high but partially manageable until mid-March.”
In the evening, the French Public Health Agency reported 425,183 new COVID-19 cases detected in the past 24 hours.
More than 52 million people have had a complete vaccination cycle, representing 77.7 percent of the French population. (Image source: Unsplash)

Looking forward to winning some tournaments before I stop, says Sania Mirza

Melbourne [Australia] (ANI): Indian women’s tennis superstar Sania Mirza said that she is looking forward to winning some tournaments in 2022 before quitting the sport.
The six-time Grand Slam champion on Wednesday announced her decision after her first-round loss in the women’s doubles at the Australian Open 2022. Mirza hopes to play at least until the US Open in August-September. Further talking about her retirement plan, the 35-year-old on ‘Extraaa Serve’ on Sony Sports Network during the ongoing Australian Open 2022, said: “Oh, I haven’t really thought about that actually, but yeah I’m looking forward to this last season I’m, but I am looking forward to, you know, being at home not leaving out of a suitcase for a change and yeah just living a normal life whatever that is but I’m you know I hope that I can finish the season and my body is healthy enough to play.”
“The level is not an issue. It’s just about my body and the travel and stuff. So I’m still looking forward to the season. It’s a long year. We’re only in January. Everybody got really emotional yesterday and made me emotional as well; I didn’t mean it, India, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to make everyone so sad, but yeah, I am looking forward to actually trying to win some tournaments this year before I stop,” she added.
On Thursday, the Indo-American pair of Sania Mirza and Rajeev Ram progressed to the second round of the AO mixed doubles event after beating Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic and Nikola Cacic.
The unseeded Sania Mirza – Rajeev Ram, both former Grand Slam champions, won the first-round match 6-3, 7-6(3).
After their match, Mirza’s doubles partner Rajeev Ram also opened about him chasing the ATP’s world number one. Ram said: “Yeah, You can expect my best effort, that’s for sure. You know, obviously, we’ve been close the last couple of years; we’ve managed to win a couple of slams which has been nice but to be honest, just you know, sharing the court with someone who’s been world number one before is a big inspiration.”
“You know someone that I’ve grown up with, been friends with for a long time and has been there before. You know it just sort of teaches you a lot, just being out there with her. So hopefully, something can rub off, and maybe I can get there sooner than later.”
The Indo-American pair will face the duo of Netherlands’ Matwe Middelkoopa and Australian Ellen Perez who defeated the third-seeds Robert Farah-Nicole Melichar. (Image source: Instagram)

SA vs India, 2nd ODI: Pant, Rahul score half-centuries as visitors post 287/6

Paarl [South Africa] (ANI): Rishabh Pant scored a career best 85 and skipper KL Rahul scored 55 as visitors set 288-run target for hosts here at Boland Park, Paarl on Friday.
KL Rahul won the toss and chose to bat first and he along with experienced opener Shikhar Dhawan gave India a quick start with the southpaw being the more aggressive of the two. The opening duo of Rahul and Dhawan took India past the 50-run mark in the ninth over. Skipper Rahul got a life when he was on 8 as he was dropped by Janneman Malan at the gully of Lungi Ngidi’s batting. Spin was introduced by South African Temba Bavuma as early as eighth over by bringing Aiden Markram in the attack. In his third over Markram gave Proteas the breakthrough dismissing opener Shikhar Dhawan for 29 who played a slog sleep and caught in the deep mid-wicket by Sisanda Magala. Dhawan-Rahul had put on 63 runs for the opening wicket.
In the next over Team India was dealt with another blow as Virat Kohli was dismissed without troubling the scorers as Keshav Maharaj dismissed him to a soft dismissal caught by captain Temba Bavuma towards the off-side for a five-ball duck.
After Kohli’s dismissal Rishabh Pant joined skipper KL Rahul in the middle. Pant and Rahul soon were involved in a terrible mix-up and Rahul could have been run out but the South Africans made a mess of it giving India a relief as they could have been three wickets down.
After that the Rahul-Pant duo did not look back started scoring runs at a brisk pace by hitting boundaries as well as rotating strikes and taking India to triple figure mark in the 20th over. The duo struck a 50-run partnership in quick time and Rishabh Pant outscored his captain.
The hosts desperately needed a breakthrough and Bavuma introduced left arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi into the attack but Pant welcomed him with consecutive boundaries of his first two balls. Shamsi gave away 14 runs in his very first over and Rishabh Pant notched up his fourth ODI half-century.
At the score of 46 Rahul got yet another life as he was dropped in the point by Markram of Andile Phehlukwayo’s bowling. In the 27th over India reached the 150-run mark and the Rahul-Pant duo notched up a century partnership. KL Rahul too notched up his tenth ODI half-century.
Pant kept on hitting the boundaries to keep the scoreboard moving and in process went past his highest ODI score of 78. The115-run partnership was broken as KL Rahul became the first ODI victim of medium pacer Sisanda Magala caught in the mid-wicket of Rassie van der Dussen. Rahul scored a 79-ball 55.
In the very next over left arm spinner Shamsi was once again introduced into the attack and he got the wicket of dangerous Pant who was caught in the long on by Adien Markram for his career best 85 of 71 balls hitting 10 fours and two sixes.
Venkatesh Iyer and Shreyas Iyer then came in and took India’s total beyond the 200-run mark. Shamsi got his second wicket dismissing Shreyas leg before wicket for 11 with India losing half of its side for 207 in the 37th over of the match.
Shardul Thakur joined Venkatesh after the fall of Shreyas’ wicket and the duo steadies India’s ship but the 32-run partnership was broken as Andile Phehlukwayo dismissed Venkatesh who was brilliantly stumped by wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock for 22.
Thakur kept on scoring boundaries to keep India’s scoreboard moving and also take the total beyond 250-run mark. Ravichandran Ashwin and Thakur batted well to take India’s total to 287/6 in 50 overs. Thakur-Ashwin put on 48-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Brief scores: India 287/6 (Rishabh Pant 85, KL Rahul 55; Tabraiz Shamsi 2/57, Sisanda Magala 1/) vs SA. (Image source: Instagram)

Centre calls all-party meet to discuss budget session

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

India extends USD 527 million financial assistance to Mauritius towards Metro Express

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The government of India has extended financial assistance to the tune of USD 527 million (USD 267 million as Grant and USD 260 million as Line of Credit) towards the Metro Express project in Mauritius, according to sources.
The 26- km long Metro project is being implemented in two phases – Phase I connecting Port Louis and Rose Hill was completed and e-inaugurated jointly by the two Prime Ministers on October 3, 2019, according to sources. Phase II connecting Rose Hill to Curepipe is underway and is expected to be completed by December 2022. An interim part of Phase II i.e. between Rose Hill and Quatre Bornes (approx 2.7 km) was inaugurated by Mauritius Prime Minister on June 20, last year, according to sources.
The MoU regarding Indian grant assistance for implementation of Small Development Projects in Mauritius were exchanged on Thursday.
In view of the significant impact of the HICDPs (High Impact Community Development Projects) at the local level, MoU was drafted on lines similar to HICDP agreements concluded with some other countries.
The projects under this MOU will relate primarily to socio-economic development, particularly the creation of infrastructure in the education, basic health-care and community development sectors. Livelihood activity, skill development, renewable energy, conservation of environmental and cultural heritage, empowerment of women and child welfare, and disaster risk reduction, shall be primary themes of such projects.
The implementation of Small Development Projects will help in reaching out to various regions of Mauritius both in the mainland as well as in the Outer Islands (Agalega and Rodrigues) and to take up small-scale projects with a shorter gestation period and high significance.
PM Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, on Thursday jointly inaugurated the Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius. This project has been implemented as part of the vibrant development partnership between India and Mauritius.
On this occasion, the two Prime Ministers also took part in a virtual foundation stone laying ceremony for two other projects construction of a state-of-the-art Civil Service College and an eight MW Solar PV Farm was also undertaken as part of India’s development support. The event was held via video conference.
The Social Housing project is one of the five high-profile infrastructure projects identified for implementation under the USD 353 million Special Economic Package (SEP) extended to the Government of Mauritius (GOM) in 2016. The total cost of the project is USD 44.995 million – comprising grant assistance of USD 20 million under the SEP and Line of Credit support of USD 25 million (from the LOC of USD 500 million extended in 2017).
India and Mauritius have also completed some of the projects under SEP.
In October 2019, Prime Ministers of India and Mauritius had jointly e-launched Phase I of the Metro Express Project and the ENT Hospital project. The two had also jointly e-inaugurated Mauritius’ new Supreme Court building on July 30, 2020.
The government of India has successfully handed over Phase II-A of the Metro Express Project and Educational Tablets to school children.
Currently, the ongoing projects are Phase II-B of the Metro Express project between Quatre Bornes and Cure pipe, and Phase III between Rose Hill and Reduit. These are expected to be completed by end of 2022.
The Social Housing Units project comprising 956 housing units with associated infrastructure such as Sewerage Treatment Plant, Leeching field, Playground etc. is implemented at two locations – Dagotiere (600 units) and Mare Tabac (356 units).
The housing units are of duplex type comprising of 4 housing units with two families occupying the ground floor and two families occupying the first floor. The carpet area of a single housing unit is approximately 60 sq.m., and every unit comprises of two bedrooms, living and dining rooms, kitchen, toilet and bathroom. The housing units are provided with adequate landscaping, recreational amenities (children’s playground, petanquecourt (popular Mauritian game), jogging track, etc) as well as a Community Centre and kiosk for commercial shops.
The two leaders had also taken part in the virtual foundation stone laying ceremony of the Civil Service College that is being set up under an MoU signed between India and Mauritius during the State visit of Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth to India in May 2017. It is a prestigious project in the context of bilateral cooperation and financed by India through grant assistance amounting to USD 4.74 million.
The Civil Service College project is expected to be completed in 18 months i.e. by mid-2023. After construction, the state-of-the-art Civil Service College will comprise an academic block of 3574 sq.m. and an Auditorium of 1120 sq.m, with all appropriate infrastructures like classrooms, meeting room, conference room, wellness centre etc. It will provide a better facility for the Civil Servants of Mauritius to undertake various training and skill development programmes.
Along with our ongoing efforts in training and capacity building, collaboration in the Civil Service College project will go a long way in building further linkages between Mauritius and India and in generating long-lasting goodwill for India.
The two leaders also participated in the eight MW Solar PV Farm in the virtual foundation stone laying ceremony for 8 MW Solar PV Farm project. The project at Tamarind Falls, Henrietta is financed under a LOC of USD 500 million extended in 2017 through EXIM Bank of India for implementing various infrastructure projects in Mauritius.
The project is an extension of the existing 2 MW Solar Power Plant at Henrietta and is aimed to expand the renewable energy mix of Mauritius. The project will comprise the installation of 25,000 Photovoltaic cells to generate approximately 14 GWh of green energy annually, to electrify approximately 10,000 households with an estimated avoidance of 13,000 tons of CO2 emission, according to sources. (Image source: Instagram)

Rohit, Rishabh Pant and Ashwin named in ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021

Dubai [UAE] (ANI): Three Indians — Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been named in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year.
Kane Williamson has been named as the leader of the ICC Test Team of 2021. Under Williamson, New Zealand had defeated India last year to win the World Test Championship. Apart from three Indians, the side has two New Zealand players, three Pakistan players, one Australian, one Sri Lankan, and one player from England.
Rohit Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries. Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England – one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. With key assignments coming up, Sharma will have a key role to play for India in 2022.
Rishabh Pant further established himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena. He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with one memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad. He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve.
The off-spinner Ashwin bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 16.64 making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand. He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England in Chennai.
ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021: Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Rohit Sharma (India), Kane Williamson (c, New Zealand), Marnus Labuschagne (Australia), Joe Root (England), Fawad Alam (Pakistan), Rishabh Pant (India), Ravichandran Ashwin (India), Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan), and Hasan Ali (Pakistan). (Image source: Instagram)

Cold wave grips Himachal Pradesh, bad weather expected till January 24

Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Himachal Pradesh is expected to experience bad weather till 24 January as several parts of the state are under intense cold-wave, informed the Meteorological Center Shimla on Thursday.
The minimum temperature has dipped. Meanwhile, The Met Department has also issued a warning of heavy rains in Una, Bilaspur, Sirmaur and Kangra districts from 21 to 24 January while there is a prediction of snowfall in higher regions. Sandeep Kumar, a scientist at Meteorological Center Shimla says, “There was bad weather condition in almost the entire state for the last 24 hours. Higher reaches received snowfall and it rained in lower regions. Snowfall has been recorded in several parts including Kullu and Shimla districts.”
As per the weather department, the minimum temperature recorded is as low as -7.9 degree Celsius in Keylong and the maximum temperature was 7.6 in Ponta Sahib.
As per the weather forecast, light to moderate rains is expected in several districts including Kinnaur, Chamba, Shimla, Kullu and Lahaul Spiti.
A warning of heavy rains is issued in Una, Bilaspur, Sirmaur and Kangra districts between 21st to 24th of January.
Kushal, a local from Shimla said, “It is too cold here and we are facing problems due to the cold climate here. It may snow here again and that will enhance the chillness here. We are sitting around the fire to keep ourselves warm.” (Image source: Instagram)

Positivity rate soars near 45 pc as Nepal continues to register record number of COVID cases

Kathmandu [Nepal] (ANI): Nepal on Thursday registered another record number of 12,338 new cases of COVID-19 as the positivity rate in the Himalayan Nation soared to about 45 per cent.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, new cases has been confirmed after 21,007 samples underwent RT-PCR and 6,490 samples underwent antigen tests in the last 24 hours. Earlier on Wednesday alone, Nepal had recorded 11,353 new cases of infection. As per the ministry, the Himalayan Nation buffered between India and China now has a positivity rate of 44.87 per cent while the recovery rate stands at 92.2 per cent. For the third day in a row, the COVID cases in Nepal have set a record-high number of cases and are expected to reach about 20,000 cases on a daily basis as it reaches the peak.
On Thursday, Kathmandu Valley registered more than half of the confirmed cases out of which Kathmandu registered 5,001 cases, Bhaktapur recorded 850 and Lalitpur recorded 1,130 cases.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, there were four coronavirus-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours. With this, the COVID-19 death toll in the country is 11,632 to date.
Currently, there are 57,328 active cases in the country. In the past 24-hour period, 649 infected patients recovered. (Image source: Instagram)

Most wanted Nigerian drug peddler arrested, says Hyderabad Police

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India](ANI): The North Zone Task Force of Hyderabad Police on Thursday took a Nigerian national into custody from Mumbai for running a drug syndicate. He is one of the most wanted drug peddlers, informed the Police.
“The accused Chukwu Ogbonna David alias Tony Abia Marsha alias Tony used to run the drug racket with agents in metropolitan cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai. On the basis of information given by Tony, police have taken around nine customers from Hyderabad in custody,” said CV Anand, Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad. “In the year 2013, he migrated to Mumbai from Nigeria on temporary VISA. Since then, he is illegally staying in Mumbai. Initially, he was engaged in the export business of garments and wigs to African countries. After coming in contact with drug peddlers, tony decided to come into this business,” Anand said.
Accused Tony established a network system in India by engaging local agents Imran Babu Shaik, Noor Mohd Khan, Aftab, Parwaz, Rahamath, Irfan and Firdos by giving them a good amount of money and Drugs.
“Tony purchased drugs from an international drug peddler called ‘Star Boy’ (African national). With the help of his agents, he transported drugs from Mumbai to Hyderabad. Money used to get transferred via online mode to his agents’ accounts. He himself never exposed himself to his agents or customers. He communicated with everyone using International phone numbers with WhatsApp calls and VOIP calls. He has around 15 to 20 customers in Hyderabad,” Anand said. (Image source: Instagram)

Real estate sector hopes Union Budget 2022-23 to help sustain growth momentum

New Delhi [India] (ANI): For the Indian real estate sector, the year 2020 was a testing year but it made a strong comeback in 2021. The sector has big expectations from the Union Budget 2022-23 which is scheduled to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.
Most developers have high expectations from the budget and expect that it will provide a push to the residential segment as well as the rental housing. Many industry experts are anxious about the rising cost of raw materials and expect the government to intervene in this regard. “Growth in the real estate sector is essential for the growth of the economy. We are hoping that the government will introduce deep policy reforms that will help in accelerating the growth in real estate, especially at this juncture,” said Aditya Kushwaha, CEO and Director, Axis Ecorp.
Kushwaha pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in changing the perception of home-ownership for all, especially for the NRIs.
In the last couple of years, the demand from the NRI segment has risen sharply. In order to encourage this segment, we propose that the government should consider revising the applicable tax deducted at source (TDS) on property transactions for NRIs, he said.
“This will not only boost investment in the sector but also help our country to build its forex reserves. There has been an uptick in rental housing as people continue to work from anywhere (WFA). To further promote the rental segment, we propose that the government should offer taxation benefits for tenants which could include enhancement in HRA Tax Exemption,” Kushwaha added.
Vinit Dungarwal, Director at AMs Project Consultants Private Ltd said, “This year’s budget is crucial as the demand in the real estate sector, especially in the residential segment, has just started to witness a revival post the pandemic-induced slowdown. The continued intervention by RBI and holding on to the interest rates have helped in demand generation in the real estate sector and we are expecting the budget 2022 to also focus on aspects of demand generation.”
“We believe that the escalating prices of critical raw materials such as iron, cement can have an adverse impact on this growth momentum. The government should consider reducing GST on these to offset the price rise. Overall, we believe that the government should continue to focus on infrastructure and investments because that will help in generating jobs and lead to the economic growth of the country,” Dungarwal said.
Some experts have been demanding infrastructure status for real estate for some time and want this to be a reality in 2022.
Commenting on this, Anurag Mathur, CEO, Savills India, said, “At a time when the economy is anxious about recovery due to the Omicron threat, we look forward to a positive approach from the budget. In addition to agriculture, the focus is likely to be maintained on manufacturing, infrastructure, and the real estate sector in the budget. On the wish list will once again be infrastructure status for the real estate sector. It has the potential to unlock a host of benefits for boosting foreign as well domestic investment.” (Image source: Unsplash)

Google commences Android games testing on Windows PCs

Washington [US] (ANI): Microsoft had announced Windows 11 with the promise it will support Android apps, although that functionality wasn’t at the time ready for the launch of the desktop platform.
According to GSM Arena, now Google has finally launched the first beta, users in select markets can sign up for Google Play Games where they can run 12 games on their computer. The first countries/regions to get it are Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, where players can test ‘Asphalt 9’, ‘Gardenscapes and Homescapes’, and a handful of other locally available games.
They need to have at least Windows 10 (v2004) or Windows 11, a PC with an octa-core CPU, moderately powerful GPU, 8GB RAM and at least 20GB SSD storage.
The menu of Google Play Games looks a lot like the regular Google Play Store, but with longer descriptions and different notification for whether the game has ads and in-app purchases.
Players can still earn Play Points, even if the game is not played on an Android. As per GSM Arena, the platform is expected to arrive in beta to other markets with more games soon. (Image source: Instagram)

Malaysian foreign minister sees shift in Beijing’s justification of South China Sea claims

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] (ANI): Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says Beijing now speaks less of the ‘nine-dash line’ and more often of the ‘Four Sha’ and expressed doubts on China’s changing claims in the strategic South-China Sea.
China appears to be shifting from the so-called “nine-dash line” toward a new legal theory to support its expansive claims in the South China Sea, although analysts say its alternative is also problematic under international law as outlined by Malaysian Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah, according to Radio Free Asia. Abdullah said the shift toward has been witnessed by member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and “is even more serious” than the old claim.
“Four Sha,” or Four Sands Archipelagos, are the four island groups in the South China Sea that Beijing claims to hold “historical rights” to.
Beijing calls them “Dongsha Qundao,” “Xisha Qundao,” “Zhongsha Qundao,” and “Nansha Qundao.” Internationally, they are known as Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank area and Spratly Islands.
The concept they may be eclipsed, the nine-dash line, is a U-shaped line encircling most of the South China Sea that China has been using to demarcate its sovereignty over the sea, according to Radio Free Asia.
Earlier, an international tribunal in 2016 invalidated the Beijing claim’s in the nine-dash line saying China has no legal basis for it. Although Beijing rejected the ruling, other nations have endorsed it.
On the other hand, US State Department report on China’s South China Sea claims that was published this month, ‘Limits in the Seas’, does not mention Four Sha concept as proclaimed by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is among the ASEAN nations’ whose territorial claims overlap with China’s in the South China Sea. The others are Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. While Indonesia does not regard itself as party to the South China Sea dispute, Beijing does claim historic rights to areas overlapping Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

Women’s Ashes: Lanning, McGrath star as Australia defeat England in 1st T20I

Adelaide [Australia] (ANI): Tahlia McGrath’s all-round performance and Meg Lanning’s spirited show with the bat helped Australia defeat England by nine wickets in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
With this win, Australia has gained an early lead in the ongoing Women’s Ashes and the second T20I will now be played on Saturday at the same venue. McGrath first took three wickets with the ball and then she backed it up by playing a 91-knock. Chasing 170, Australia got off to a decent start as openers Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy put on 26 runs inside four overs, but this stand was cut short by Sophie Ecclestone as she dismissed Healy (7) and this brought Tahlia McGrath to the middle. Lanning and McGrath ensured that Australia does not lose momentum as they kept chipping away at runs, and the hosts needed 85 to win from the final ten overs with nine wickets in hand.
McGrath and Lanning kept on scoring runs, and as a result, England was not able to create any sort of pressure. In the end, the hosts registered a comfortable nine-wicket victory. In the end, McGrath and Lanning remained unbeaten on 91 and 64 respectively.
Earlier, Danielle Wyatt played a knock of 70 runs as England posted 169/4 in the allotted twenty overs. Sent into bat, openers Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont got England off to a steady start as they put on 51 runs inside the first six overs. The 82-run opening stand was finally broken in the 11th over as Alana King got the better of Beaumont (30).
Natalie Sciver then joined Wyatt in the middle and the duo did not let the momentum drop for England. Both batters kept on scoring runs at a brisk pace and this ended up creating more pressure on Australia. The duo put on 59 runs for the second wicket, and the stand was broken in the 17th over by Tahlia McGrath as she dismissed Sciver (32).
In the final three overs, England managed to add 25 more runs to the total, taking the score past the 165-run mark.
Brief Scores: England 169/4 (Danielle Wyatt 70, Natalie Sciver 32; Tahlia McGrath 3-26); Australia 170/1 (Tahlia McGrath 91*, Meg Lanning 64*; Sophie Ecclestone 1-29). (Image source: Instagram)

ISL: Match between Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC postponed

Panaji (Goa) [India] (ANI): The organisers of the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday announced the postponement of Match No. 67 between Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC.
The match was scheduled to be played on Friday at Athletic Stadium, Bambolim. The League will look to rearrange the fixture to a later date. “The decision was taken considering advice from the League’s medical team on Jamshedpur FC’s inability to safely field a team and prepare for the match,” stated an official statement.
Jamshedpur FC is at second place on the points table with a total of 19 points while Mumbai City FC stands at the fourth spot with a total of 17 points. (Image source: Instagram)

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

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

ICC Test Rankings: Australia top ranked side, India drops to third

Dubai [UAE] (ANI): After winning the Ashes 4-0, Australia has now become the number one ranked Test team in the world.
Meanwhile, after suffering a 1-2 series loss against South Africa, India has dropped to the third spot while New Zealand has held onto its second position. New Zealand had played out a 1-1 series draw against Bangladesh.
Australia has 119 points at the top and the Pat Cummins-led side is three points ahead of third-placed India.
After the series win against India, South Africa has jumped to the fifth spot in the ICC Test Rankings. England is in the fourth position with 101 points.
Pakistan has gone down one spot to sixth place, whereas Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Ireland have retained their positions. (Image source: Instagram)

Indian-origin golfer Akshay Bhatia clinches his first Korn Ferry Tour victory

Exuma [Bahamas] (ANI): Young Indian origin golfer Akshay Bhatia has become the third-youngest player to win a Korn Ferry Tour (KFT) as he secured a two-stroke victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay on Wednesday.
He joined Australia’s former World No. 1 Jason Day and Korean star Sungjae Im as the only teenagers to win on the development circuit which is the pathway to the PGA TOUR following a stunning bogey-free 7-under 65 in the final round. Day won the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic at 19 years, 7 months, and 26 days old, and Im was 19 years, 9 months, and 17 days old when he won his Korn Ferry Tour debut at the same event.
After making birdie on 17, Bhatia, who is Indian-American, closed out his win in style.
With 156 yards to the pin on the par 5 18th hole, he wedged his approach to the inside of a foot to secure his first victory of his career and cement his status as one of the game’s young rising stars.
“I reflected back on (2021) U.S. Open (qualifying). I hit a pitching wedge to like three feet, four feet, so I was just trying to do the same thing. For it to hit the flag and have a tap-in was awesome. Golf is crazy,” Akshay Bhatia said in a statement.
Playing out of the “Finishers 151-200 in the 2020-21 FedExCup Standings” category, Akshay’s priority number got him in the field this week for his fifth Korn Ferry Tour start.
Akshay no longer has to worry about whether his number will be enough for him to play. Instead, Bhatia is turnings his sights to the fastest route to the PGA TOUR.
“I’ve just climbed the mountain slowly and slowly and slowly. I’m just excited to play next week,” said Akshay.
“I have never had a schedule. To be able to have a schedule and look forward to playing certain events… there’s all those things I get to look forward to this year. I would like to win three and get promoted to the PGA TOUR, so I guess that’s my goal,” he added.
The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Sunday, January 23 with the opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club. (ANI)
Viewers can watch PGA Tour – The American Express – Day 1 LIVE on EUROSPORT and EUROSPORT HD from Friday 01:30 Hrs (01:30 am IST). (Image source: Instagram)

Our progress lies in progress of nation, says PM Modi

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the progress of the people lies in the progress of the nation itself.
“Today crores of Indians are putting the foundation stone of Swarnim Bharat. Our dreams and the country’s dreams are not different. Our personal and country’s achievements are not different. Our progress lies in the progress of the nation,” the Prime Minister said while virtually delivering the keynote address at the national launch ceremony of ‘Azadi Ke Amrit Mahotsav se Swarnim Bharat Ke Ore’. Speaking at the event the Prime Minister further said, “The nation exists from us, and we exist from the nation. This realization is becoming the biggest strength of Indians in the making of a new India.”
The Prime Minister also said that with ‘Azadi Ke Amrit Mahotsav Se Swarnim Bharat Ke Ore’, today we are starting a very important event for the country.
The program unveiled yearlong initiatives dedicated to Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav by the Brahma Kumaris, which include more than 30 campaigns and over 15000 programs and events.
During the event, Prime Minister flagged off seven initiatives of Brahma Kumaris. These include My India Healthy India, Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Self Reliant Farmers, Women: Flag Bearers of India, Power of Peace Bus Campaign, Andekha Bharat Cycle Rally, United India Motor Bike Campaign and green initiatives under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Brahma Kumaris is a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal. Founded in India in 1937, Brahma Kumaris has spread to over 130 countries. The event is being held on the occasion of the 53rd Ascension Anniversary of Pitashree Prajapita Brahma, Founding Father of Brahma Kumaris. (Image source: Instagram)

Bilawal flays Imran khan over religious article, says trying to hide ‘economic failures’

Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): After Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s religious article on lessons to learn from Madina got published in leading newspapers, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday said that Khan repeatedly speaks of Riyasat-e-Madina to “draw the people’s attention away” from the government’s “economic failures”.
He gave the example of war-torn Afghanistan where a strict interpretation of Islam is being enforced and rebuked Imran khan. He said that the “talk of religion will be ramped up to divert the people’s attention”. Bilawal made the remark during a press conference alongside Leader of Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani after Khan’s article was published, reported The News International.
“Here too, as our economy witnesses a downturn, the Prime Minister speaks of Riyasat-e-Madina to draw the people’s attention away,” he said.
“Those who attempt to divert people’s attention can say their prayers, can keep their fasts and can make arrangements for their eternal abode in heaven. We, too, will continue in our struggle,” Bilawal added.
Bilawal also attacked the Imran khan government on passing the Supplementary Finance Bill and said, that the government “forcibly passed the anti-people mini-budget”.
He said such an “attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty had never before taken place in the history of Pakistan”.
Speaking of the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021, he said that the central bank “will no longer be answerable” to Parliament, judiciary or the people, and will “operate under dictation” from foreign institutions. (Image source: Instagram)

No relaxation on COVID norms in Delhi as positivity rate ‘not low enough’: Satyendar Jain

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said that even though the COVID-19 positivity rate in the national capital has declined from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent with a decrease in the number of infections as well, the COVID norms in the city will not be relaxed as the positivity rate is still not “low enough”.
While addressing media persons, Satyendar Jain said, “The positivity rate has come down from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent and the total number of cases in Delhi has also decreased. However, the positivity rate is not low enough that we can relax the COVID restrictions.” According to the health minister, Delhi is likely to record 13,000 new COVID-19 cases today with a positivity rate of 24 per cent.
“Today, a positivity rate24 of per cent is likely to be reported along with around 13,000 fresh infections. There is not much occupancy in hospitals and beds are also vacant. We are doing more testing in Delhi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi on Tuesday continued to report a dip in the number of daily COVID-19 cases with 11,684 fresh infections.
The positivity rate for the day also declined to 22.47 per cent. As per yesterday’s COVID-19 bulletin, there are 78,112 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, out of which, 63,432 are currently in home isolation.

NCB Bengaluru busts drug trafficking network; four arrested, including Nigerian national

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): The Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) Bengaluru Zonal Unit has busted a drug trafficking network dealing with multiple drugs in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and arrested four people including a Nigerian national.
On January 17, the NCB said it seized drugs such as 84 grams of cocaine, 40 grams of MDMA, small quantity of hashish and ganja at Electronic city, Bengaluru from the possession of a Nigerian national and three peddlers. All four were apprehended in Bengaluru. “The peddlers were from Chennai and had come to Bengaluru to purchase drugs.The multiple drugs procured from the Nigerian national was meant for selling in hotels, pubs and colleges in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu,” NCB said.
The Nigerian supplier, NCB said, was “not only seasoned in supplying drugs but also an expert cook in teaching his buyers about various mixes and ways to improve potency of drugs, so that they can feel the high.”
The peddlers from Chennai are known suppliers of multiple drugs in Chennai and Tamil Nadu and are habitual offenders, already involved in NDPS cases registered in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, NCB official informed.
“NCB, Bengaluru Zonal Unit has effectively neutralised one of the major drug syndicate by arresting Nigerian supplier and the Chennai peddlers,which was operating in the state of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” official said. (Image source: Instagram)

ED arrests Hyderabad-based Servomax India Company’s MD in Rs 402 cr fraudulent case

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Avasarala Venkateswara Rao, Promoter and Managing Director of Hyderabad-based Servomax India Private Limited (SIPL) for his alleged involvement in offences of money laundering, the agency said on Tuesday.
Rao was arrested on Monday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 for the offence of money laundering and causing a loss of around Rs 402 crore to a consortium of public sector banks by indulging in various fraudulent practices. ED initiated investigation on the basis of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR registered on February 2, 2018 under various charges of Indian Penal Code against SIPL.
Investigation by ED revealed that SIPL had taken loans from a consortium of banks and Avasarala Rao was the promoter cum key managerial person who was responsible for the entire business operations and he indulged in fraudulent transactions and the loan amounts were not repaid and the consortium of banks suffered a Non-Performing Asset of Rs 402 crore.
SIPL had circulated loan amounts to various related entities to inflate its books of accounts to become eligible for higher loans and had issued LCs to related entities without any real purchase of goods and which ultimately devolved causing losses of Rs 267 crore to the banks, said the ED.
ED investigation established that Rao was continuously indulging in benami transactions and had diverted loan funds for personal benefit.
“He has used a web of more than 50 entities to route proceeds of crime and layer the same. He was non-cooperative during the investigation and was not supplying documents of his own business entities on one pretext or the other,” said the ED.
Once the loan accounts became NPA, Rao was using his own shell entity (with his employee as controlling Director) to initiate the CIRP (Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process) process by fraudulently declaring it to be a creditor by passing bogus journal entries.
The ED said that Rao even managed to get his own person appointed as IRP for some time. “Rao has also managed to retain the brand name of ‘Servomax’ illegally and even during the CIRP process, he controlled the website of the company and diverted work orders to his related entities.”
Based on the investigation done till date and the material evidence available on record, Rao was arrested under the provisions of PML Act 2002 for the offence of money laundering and was produced before the PMLA Special Court Hyderabad on Tuesday. The court has remanded him to 14-day of judicial custody. (Image source: Instagram)

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

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

West Bengal eases COVID restrictions, allows gyms to operate with 50 pc capacity

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): West Bengal government has decided to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the state from January 18.
According to the new notification, gyms can operate with 50 per cent capacity till 9 pm provided staff and users are fully vaccinated or RTPCR negative. The government has allowed Jatra (local theatres) with 50 per cent capacity till 9 pm while outdoor shooting for films and TV programmes are allowed in the state following COVID appropriate protocols.
The government has asked people to wear masks and maintain social distancing in view of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, West Bengal logged 9,385 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total active cases in the state to 1,58,623, stated the health bulletin. (Image source: Instagram)

Putin to hold talks with Iranian President in Moscow

Moscow [Russia] (ANI/Sputnik): Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks in Moscow with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, the leaders plan to discuss joint projects in the economy and the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program, as well as international issues.
“On January 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi will hold talks in Moscow. They plan to discuss the entire range of issues of bilateral cooperation, including implementation of joint projects in the trade and economic sphere, as well as current international and regional topics,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Attention will also be paid to the implementation of the JCPOA, it said. (Image source: Instagram)

FBI, Europol take down computer servers used in ‘major international cyberattacks’

Washington [US] (ANI): The FBI, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency and Canada on Tuesday announced to have taken down 15 computer servers that were used in “major international cyberattacks.”
The 10-country sting operation involved police from Germany to the United Kingdom to Ukraine. The crackdown targeted a popular virtual private networking (VPN) service that police say cybercriminals used to cover their tracks while breaching numerous organizations and trying to extort them, said law enforcement agencies said this week, reported CNN. Europol said that after seizing the servers, investigators have identified “more than 100 businesses” that were at risk of being hacked by cybercriminals, including ransomware groups.
It’s the latest effort by North American and European police to bust ransomware groups that have threatened critical infrastructure on both continents.
US and European enforcement agencies in the fall arrested two people in Ukraine who allegedly made multimillion-dollar ransom demands following hacks of European and US organizations, reported CNN.
A note from investigators greeted visitors to the website of, the targeted VPN service: “THIS DOMAIN HAS BEEN SEIZED.” The note said that law enforcement would continue combing through the VPN data in an effort to track the hackers.
“The cybercriminals using this VPN were committing attacks globally,” Europol spokesperson Claire Georges told CNN.
The administrator of a popular Russian and English-language cybercrime forum with over 180,000 registered users has advertised the VPN service since 2009, according to Mark Arena, CEO of cybersecurity firm Intel 471.
The news comes as US officials say they believe Russia, in a rare move, has arrested the person responsible for the ransomware attack on a major US pipeline operator last May, reported CNN. (Image source: Unsplash)

UK supplied Ukraine thousands of light anti-tank missiles amid tensions with Russia

London [UK] (ANI): The British government has said that it supplied Ukraine with several thousands of light anti-tank missiles amid tensions with Russia, reported Sputnik.
James Heappey, UK Minister for Armed Forces, said that London supplied several thousands of light anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, according to Sputnik. Emphasizing that Ukraine is a proud sovereign nation, said Heappey, adding that Ukrainians are ready to fight for every inch of their country.
On Tuesday, the UK had said that its military airlifted a batch of light anti-tank weapons to Ukraine for self-defense.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in Washington has said that the US should reaffirm its interest in the diplomatic resolution of tensions around Ukraine by refusing to supply weapons to Kiev.
“If the United States is truly committed to diplomatic efforts to resolve the intra-Ukrainian conflict, it should abandon plans to supply new batches of weapons for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the embassy said on Facebook.
Washington should instead use its influence on the Ukrainian authorities to persuade them to stop sabotaging the Minsk agreements, according to the statement.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the CNN state department pool reported.
Blinken is set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as part of his visit. (Image source: Unsplash)

UN Security Council approved parliamentary elections in Libya: Special Adviser

New York [US] (ANI/Sputnik): The UN Security Council approved the electoral process for the Libyan parliament and the road map agreed on it, which is valid until June, Stephanie Williams, the UN Secretary General’s special adviser for Libya, said in an interview with Sputnik.
“I think that what the United Nations has done and continues to do, is to support the 2.5 million Libyans, who have collected their voter registration cards and want to go to the polls and to lift their voices and to really maintain the momentum for elections. Certainly the Security Council has endorsed the elections and has endorsed the road map that goes out until June of this year, and it is the purview of the Security Council to determine further steps for the Libyan political process,” Williams said when asked what the UN will do if the elections are postponed in June again. “And in terms of the legitimacy of the current government, that again is also the purview of the Libyan parliament. But there are also internationally recognized agreements that Libyans themselves have signed, that set out what is the necessary quorum for the parliament to have in order to change the government. So I think it’s very important for the parliament to follow it’s own rules,” she said. (Image source: Unsplash)

First community cases of Omicron coronavirus strain detected in Vietnam

Hanoi [Vietnam] (ANI/Sputnik): Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City has identified the country’s first cases of the Omicron coronavirus strain in people who have not traveled abroad, media reported.
According to the Vietnamese VnExpress news outlet, three COVID-19 patients in Ho Chi Minh City were confirmed on Tuesday to be infected with the Omicron variant. Local authorities are currently testing people who have had close contacts with those infected, the media said.
According to VnExpress, a total of 73 cases of the Omicron strain were reported in the country, 70 of those infected people arrived from abroad.
The first case of the Omicron infection was detected in Vietnam in late December last year.
The Omicron strain was first detected in South Africa in late November. The strain contains more mutations in the spike protein — 32 — than all previous variants, meaning that it could hamper the body’s immune response and spread more easily. (Image source: Instagram)

PM Modi, Nadda lead BJP’s star campaigners for UP polls; Varun Gandhi, Maneka excluded

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday released a list of 30-star campaigners for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
While many star campaigners like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah are on the list, party MPs and mother-son duo Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi have been excluded from the list. The duo has been victorious multiple times from Sultanpur and Pilibhit. In the recent rejig of the BJP national executive committee, the two were also dropped from that list.
BJP releases a list of 30 leaders who will campaign for the party’s candidates in the first phase of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh election.
The first name on that list includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed by party national president JP Nadda. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP candidate from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath also features on that list of star campaigners.
Others on that list include Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and state president Swatantra Dev Singh.
Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dinesh Sharma Keshav Prasad Maurya were also on the list. Sanjeev Balyan and Radha Mohan Singh amongst others were on the list.
Varun Gandhi has taken on Twitter on multiple occasions questioning his party on farmers issue and also the mowing down of farmers by Union MOS Ajay Mishra Teni’s son and subtly blaming his government in the Centre and in the state for not taking action quick enough to arrest Ashish Mishra Teni.
Given the constraints of campaigning because of the spread of COVID, the BJP is likely to hit the campaign trail in Uttar Pradesh in a phased-out manner doing door-to-door campaigning and from there on doing closed-door meetings which would allow 300 people.
BJP sources told ANI that the top leaders of the party including Home Minister Amit Shah and national president JP Nadda will start touring Uttar Pradesh starting the third week of January.
Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. (Image source: Instagram)

Jamaat-i-Islami announces country-wide protests against Imran Khan govt to withdraw mini-budget

Lahore [Pakistan] (ANI): Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) party on Tuesday announced launching a nation-wide protest movement to press the government for taking back the mini-budget which the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government recently bulldozed through the National Assembly, a media report said.
“The JI will hold 100 sit-ins in all the major cities before staging the final sit-in in Islamabad,” Dawn quoted the JI chief Siraj ul Haq announcing at a press conference here at Mansoora on Tuesday. Siraj ul Haq said that the schedule of the movement will be announced soon and also called for the removal of the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.
The government should reduce the prices of basic food by 50 per cent, said the JI leader amid the rising inflation in the country.
Haq also warned that if the Imran Khan government does not reduce prices, the PTI government should get ready to face the people’s wrath in Islamabad.
The upcoming sit-in by JI will be the last nail in the PTI’s coffin, said Haq, stressing that the other parties in Pakistan as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are also equally responsible for the “destruction” of the country’s economy and institution.
The JI leader slated the government for a 100 per cent to 300 percent hike in the food prices, the rupee depreciation and apprehended that the country’s nuclear programme could be rolled backed due to the prevailing economic crisis, according to Dawn.
Stressing that the PTI had virtually handed over the country’s control to the IMF, Haq said that the JI could not sit silent in the prevailing situation and would fight till the people got relief. (Image source: Instagram)

Sensex slumps 656 points, Nifty down 174 points on weak global cues

Mumbai [India] (ANI): The Indian equities markets’ key indices tumbled for the second consecutive day on Wednesday due to weak global cues. The benchmark Sensex slumped 656 points after losing 554 points in the previous day. Nifty plunged 174 points.
There was heavy selling pressure in IT and FMCG stocks. Infosys tumbled nearly three per cent. Wipro fell two per cent. Hindustan Unilever and Nestle India both lost 2.41 per cent each. The 30 stock S&P BSE Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange closed at 60,098.82 points, which is 656.04 points or 1.08 per cent lower from its previous day’s close at 60,754.86 points.
Earlier, the Sensex opened in the positive at 60,845.59 points and touched a high of 60,870.17 points. However, the index came under heavy selling pressure in the afternoon session. The Sensex dipped to a low of 59,949.22 points in the intra-day.
The index has declined sharply for the second straight day. The Sensex lost 554.05 points or 0.90 per cent on Tuesday.
The broader Nifty 50 of the National Stock Exchange slumped 0.96 per cent or 174.65 points to 17,938.40 points as compared with its previous day’s close at 18,113.05 points.
The Nifty touched a high of 18,129.20 points and low of 17,884.90 points in the intra-day. The Nifty had lost 1.07 per cent or 195.05 points on Tuesday.
IT stocks witnessed heavy selling pressure. Infosys slumped 2.77 per cent to Rs 1867.70. Wipro tumbled 1.91 per cent to Rs 621.30. TCS fell 1.87 per cent to Rs 3915.80.
Asian Paints tumbled 2.71 per cent to Rs 3281.10. Hindustan Unilever 2.41 per cent down at Rs 2312; Nestle India 2.41 per cent down at Rs 18903.30; Bajaj Finance 2.28 per cent down at Rs 7570.30; Kotak Bank 1.88 per cent down at Rs 1905.95 and ICICI Bank 1.82 per cent down at Rs 808.35 were among the major Sensex losers.
State Bank of India surged 1.83 per cent to Rs 515.90. Tata Steel 1.19 per cent higher at Rs 1208.75; Maruti Suzuki 1.17 per cent higher at Rs 8008.50; Axis Bank 0.55 per cent higher at Rs 729.60 and Tech Mahindra 0.51 per cent higher at Rs 1669.10 were among the major Sensex gainers. (Image source: Instagram)

Realme 9 Pro or 9 Pro plus might be launched in India soon

Washington [US] (ANI): Realme VP Madhav Sheth on Tuesday teased that the company is bringing either the Realme 9 Pro or the 9 Pro+ to the Indian market soon.
Realme recently brought its Realme 9i to India (actual sales begin on Jan 22). Sheth teased on Twitter that Realme is bringing either the Realme 9 Pro or the 9 Pro+ to the Indian market.

As per GSM Arena, the Realme 9 Pro is expected to bring a 6.6-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED of 120Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 695, and a 64MP main camera.
The Realme 9 Pro+ might come with faster 65W charging, a 50MP main camera, and a 16MP selfie. (Image source: Instagram)

Going to be positive in our game: Heather Knight on upcoming women’s Ashes

Adelaide [Australia] (ANI): England women’s team captain Heather Knight said that her side needs to be aggressive and positive in their approach against Australia in the upcoming women’s Ashes.
England have not won the Ashes since their victory in Australia in 2013-14 and the previous series ended at 12-4, which brought the end of Mark Robinson’s tenure as head coach. “We are going to have to be positive and trust our game massively against them. They are very aggressive, and we want to be the same and go right back at them,” said Knight as reported by ESPNcricinfo.
“I have made it no secret that the last Ashes [series] was tough, we massively underperformed, and didn’t play anywhere near our potential in 2019. Everything we’ve done has been about addressing that, and when you have a big loss like that, it leaves a bit of soul-searching and what you can do better. We definitely did that, we feel like we’ve built as a group, taken a lot more ownership and have a lot more leaders in the side,” she added.
The skipper further said she feels that T20 cricket is one of the strengths of her side and the team knows how to go about it.
“T20 cricket is one of our strongest formats, so I think that will suit us quite nicely, we are really clear how we want to go about playing T20. Think the last few series we’ve really looked to go hard in that first game, previously it’s been a weakness of ours,” said the skipper.
“They’ll obviously be nerves around, that’s completely normal, but we are confident we can cope with that and punch first against Australia,” she added.
Knight also said that England’s XI for the opening match had been decided but she would not be revealing it until the game. (Image source: Instagram)

ISL: Bagan ready to relaunch top-four ambitions with Blasters encounter

Panaji (Goa) [India] (ANI): ATK Mohun Bagan will be in action after a while, looking to stretch their unbeaten run when they take on table-toppers Kerala Blasters FC in the 2021-22 Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Thursday.
The Mariners have played only nine games so far with 15 points and placed sixth in the points table. A win against current league leaders Kerala would take them to the top-four with a game in hand but in Blasters, they face a team brimming with confidence. Kerala are unbeaten in 10 games and Ivan Vukomanovic can rely on a collection of attacking players who are in top form. Adrian Luna has provided six assists in 11 matches this season for Kerala and sits at the top of the assist leaderboard along with Ahmed Jahouh and Greg Stewart. Despite it being his first year in the ISL, Luna has already started breaking assist records.
Kerala have found a dependable goalkeeper in Prabhsukhan Gill as well, the young shot-stopper impressing under the bar in his first season. Gill has made eight appearances this season and kept four clean sheets so far. No keeper apart from Gill has kept more than two clean sheets, underlining this being a dismal year for keepers.
ATKMB meanwhile bolstered their backline with the addition of Sandesh Jhingan who returned to the fold from Croatian side HNK Sibenik. The last time the two sides met in the first game of the season, ATKMB ran out 4-2 winners under then-coach Antonio Lopez Habas.
“It will be a completely different match. That was the start of the season. It is a new chapter. I was not there for the first game. My focus is against the Kerala of the present and we try to do the best tomorrow and the most important is the players have to be ready to help the team,” ATKMB head coach Juan Ferrando said in a statement.
ATKMB have conceded 18 goals in their 9 matches this season and Ferrando would be concerned about his porous defence. They have now gone seven matches without a clean sheet, their joint-highest such run in the ISL.
ATKMB will also miss the services of playmaker Hugo Boumous who is suspended for the tie. Boumous has been a crucial cog in ATKMB’s attack.
In 9 ISL matches this season, he has scored five goals and provided three assists for the club. He is currently the joint highest goal scorer for the club.

Will contest elections after taking permission from people of Azamgarh: Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday said that he will contest elections after taking permission from Azamgarh residents.
Yadav is currently an MP from Azamgarh. Addressing a press conference today, Yadav said, “I will contest elections after taking permission from the people of Azamgarh.”
This statement comes ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Elections for the 403 Assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases starting February 10. The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7 in seven phases.
The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (Image source: Instagram)

Lakhimpur Kheri violence: High Court concludes hearing in bail plea of Ashish Mishra

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday concluded the hearing for the bail plea of Ashish Mishra, the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Salil Srivastava, the lawyer of Ashish Mishra, said that the Bench of Justice Rajeev Singh heard the matter and reserved the order after hearing. A vehicle had allegedly crushed down farmers who were protesting against the farm laws on October 3.
Local farmers had blamed Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ and his son Ashish Mishra for the violence that left eight dead, including four farmers, a local journalist, and three others. They were mowed down allegedly by a vehicle that was part of the convoy of the Minister in Lakhimpur Kheri in north-central Uttar Pradesh. (Image source: Instagram)

Sensex tumbles 554 points on weak cues from US, European markets

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): The Indian equities markets benchmark Sensex slumped 554 points on Tuesday due to heavy selling pressure at the fag-end of the session on negative cues from the US and European markets.
Heavy selling was witnessed in auto, metal, pharma and IT stocks. Maruti Suzuki tumbled over four per cent. UltraTech Cement slumped 3.54 per cent. The Index heavyweight Reliance Industries fell 1.23 per cent. The 30 stock S&P BSE Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange closed at 60,754.86 points, which is 554.05 points or 0.90 per cent lower from its previous day’s close at 61,308.91 points.
Earlier the Sensex opened in the positive at 61,430.77 points and rose to a high of 61,475.15 points in the early morning trade. Later, the Sensex slipped into negative and again returned in the positive zone in the afternoon session.
Massive selling towards the end of the session dragged the benchmark Sensex down to 60,662.57 points towards the end of the trading session.
The broader Nifty 50 of the National Stock Exchange closed at 1.07 per cent or 195.05 points down at 18,113.05 points as compared with the previous day’s close at 18,308.10 points.
The Nifty also opened in the positive at 18,337.20 points and witnessed volatile trading. The Nifty touched a high of 18,350.95 points and low of 18,085.90 points in the intra-day.
There was heavy selling pressure in auto, IT, pharma and metal stocks. Maruti Suzuki slumped 4.05 per cent to Rs 7930. Tech Mahindra dipped 3.54 per cent to Rs 1660.65.
UltraTech Cement slumped 3.83 per cent to Rs 7566.25, a day after the company announced its third quarter results. UltraTech Cement on Monday said its net profit rose by 8 per cent to Rs 1,708 crore for the third quarter of the current financial year as against Rs 1,584 crore recorded in the corresponding period of the last fiscal. The increase in profit is mainly because of a one-time gain of Rs 535 crore in tax for earlier years.
HCL Technologies 3.09 per cent down at Rs 1219.85; Tata Steel 2.86 per cent down at Rs 1194.50; IndusInd Bank 2.22 per cent down at Rs 900.20; L&T 2.14 per cent down at Rs 2025.05; Bharti Airtel 2.03 per cent down at Rs 713.75 and Wipro 1.98 per cent down at Rs 633.40 were among the major Sensex losers.
Only seven of the 30 scrips that are part of the benchmark Sensex closed in the positive.
Axis Bank rose 1.83 per cent to Rs 725.60. HDFC Bank 0.53 per cent higher at Rs 1529.60; ICICI Bank 0.48 per cent higher at Rs 823.35; Kotak Bank 0.34 per cent higher at Rs 1941.50 and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories 0.25 per cent higher at Rs 4685.45 were among the major Sensex gainers. (Image source: Unsplash)

Taliban discuss land survey for cross-border railway with Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Kabul [Afghanistan] (ANI): Taliban government has discussed a land survey for a railway project among Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan at a cabinet meeting, Xinhua News Agency reported citing Afghan media on Tuesday.
Afghanistan’s acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund chaired the cabinet meeting, the news agency said. It added that the cabinet also directed the Economic Commission to evaluate the terms and conditions put forward by foreign companies that are willing to invest in the field of compressed natural gas.
Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf has visited Kabul amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
This would be the second high-level visit from Pakistan since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August last year, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
This visit comes as several contentious issues have emerged between Afghanistan and Pakistan clashed including the border fencing issue which led to clashes at the Durand Line. (Image source: Unsplash)

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