India http://www.theweek.in/news/india.rss en Mon Jan 11 14:38:00 IST 2021 https://www.theweek.in/privacy-an-settlement.html farooq-abdullah-says-cant-even-kiss-my-wife-because-of-pandemic-leaves-audience-in-splits <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farooq-abdullah-says-cant-even-kiss-my-wife-because-of-pandemic-leaves-audience-in-splits.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2019/9/16/farooq-abdullah-ap16919.jpg" /> <p>The audience at a book-release function in Jammu on Sunday burst into laughter when National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said he had not kissed his wife since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>The octogenarian leader, who was candid and witty in his nearly-35-minute speech, said one is even afraid of a handshake or a hug in the current situation.</p> <p>"I can't even kiss my wife. Who knows (what will happen). There is no question of a hug, though the heart wants it. I am sincere in my words," he said, leaving the audience in splits.</p> <p>A short video clip of his remarks has gone viral on social media.</p> <p>Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said that when his daughter sees photos of him not wearing a mask, she takes him to task on his return home.</p> <p>People today are afraid of handshakes and hugging each other as thousands are still dying on a daily basis in various parts of the world, Abdullah said.</p> <p>He said COVID-19 vaccines are now available and only time will tell about their efficacy, "but I am praying for their success so that the situation gets normal".</p> <p>On Sunday, India had rolled out the world's largest vaccination drive against COVID-19, which has so far infected 1,05,57,985 people in the country and killed 1,52,274 of them.</p> <p>Abdullah's remarks that he is 25 per cent Gujjar also triggered a bout of laughter among the audience, mostly belonging to the nomadic community. Abdullah's mother was from a Gujjar tribe.</p> <p>The well-attended function was organised by Gurjar Desh Charitable Trust to release the biography of its patron-in-chief Masud Ahmad Choudhary, a retired Additional Director General of Police and ex-vice chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (Rajouri).</p> <p>The book explores the life of Chaudhary, who is widely known as "Sir Syed" of Gujjar Community for his untiring efforts in areas of social and educational awakening, his contributions in the police department, in service of the Gujjar community and as an institution builder.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farooq-abdullah-says-cant-even-kiss-my-wife-because-of-pandemic-leaves-audience-in-splits.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farooq-abdullah-says-cant-even-kiss-my-wife-because-of-pandemic-leaves-audience-in-splits.html Sun Jan 17 22:36:13 IST 2021 irctc-to-resume-cooked-food-supply-to-passengers-in-trains-soon-eastern-railway <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/irctc-to-resume-cooked-food-supply-to-passengers-in-trains-soon-eastern-railway.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/biz-tech/images/2019/9/30/IRCTC-logo-website.jpg" /> <p>Cooked food supply to passengers in trains under e-catering services, which were suspended as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19, will resume soon in the Eastern Railway zone, an official said in Kolkata on Sunday.</p> <p>The e-catering services will be restarted soon at Howrah, Sealdah, Kolkata, Durgapur, Asansol, Malda and Bhagalpur stations under the jurisdiction of the ER, he said.</p> <p>There are plans to add Barddhaman, Bolpur and Jamalpur in the list of stations from where the e-catering services are provided, the ER spokesperson said.</p> <p>With the resumption of several long-distance and special trains, there was a growing demand to resume the services for supplying "hot, healthy and hygienic food to the passengers in the trains by nominated vendors of IRCTC", he said.</p> <p>The Railway Board has allowed IRCTC to resume the services at selected stations, he said, adding that this will be provided in strict adherence to the COVID protocols.</p> <p>Under e-catering, services are provided by a large number of food aggregators empanelled by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd, he said.</p> <p>The food supply services are also made available from outlets at selected stations, the official added.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/irctc-to-resume-cooked-food-supply-to-passengers-in-trains-soon-eastern-railway.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/irctc-to-resume-cooked-food-supply-to-passengers-in-trains-soon-eastern-railway.html Sun Jan 17 21:48:41 IST 2021 farmers-prepared-to-protest-till-may-2024-bku-leader-tikait <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmers-prepared-to-protest-till-may-2024-bku-leader-tikait.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/17/rakesh-tikait-pti.jpg" /> <p>Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmers are prepared to protest against the Centre's new farm laws "till May 2024", and termed the ongoing agitation by peasants at Delhi borders as an "ideological revolution".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing a press conference in Nagpur, Tikait said they want a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Farmers have been protesting near Delhi since November 26, 2020, demanding scrapping of the three new farm laws, which have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court last Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three new farm laws till further orders and decided to set up a four-member committee to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked how long will farmers will sit in protest, Tikait said, "We are prepared to sit in protest till May 2024...our demand is that the three laws be taken back and the government provide a legal guarantee on the MSP."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The next Lok Sabha elections in the country will be due around April-May 2024.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dismissed allegations that the protest was being fuelled by "rich farmers", Tikait said people from villages and various outfits have joined the protest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is an ideological revolution of farmers started from Delhi and will not fail. Farmers from villages do not want us come back until the three farm bills are taken back," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The government is adamant on its stance of not withdrawing the bills and this agitation will continue for long," Tikait added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He welcomed the SC's decision on staying the implementation of the farm laws, but said the committee formed by the apex court has members who "supported" the farm bills.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We do not want to go before the committee formed by the court. The government has also said that the government and farmers will find solution on this issue," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tikait also said the opposition parties in the country were weak and that is why farmers had to start this agitation against the Centre's new laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On National Investigation Agency's (NIA) notices to some people supporting the farmers' protest, he said, "Those who want to be part of the agitation must be ready for court cases, imprisonment and sealing of property."</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmers-prepared-to-protest-till-may-2024-bku-leader-tikait.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmers-prepared-to-protest-till-may-2024-bku-leader-tikait.html Sun Jan 17 19:33:04 IST 2021 mp-cm-chouhan-expresses-regret-at-not-being-able-to-make-some-le <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/mp-cm-chouhan-expresses-regret-at-not-being-able-to-make-some-le.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/17/bjp-executive-bhopal.jpg" /> <p>Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed regret at not being able to make some BJP leaders ministers in his cabinet, though his statement came in a lighter vein at the oath taking ceremony of the new state executive committee of the BJP in Bhopal.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chouhan, while addressing the new office bearers, said that unlike the Congress, the BJP is not in government with the attitude of ‘what we will get’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Everyone will get some work to do and I want to thank state president (Vishnu Dutt) Sharma that though I could not make some (leaders) mantris [ministers], he has made so many mantris and mahamantris [secretaries and general secretaries]. Everyone has got work now,” the CM said, following it up with a laughter.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the lighter tone, the chief minister’s statement gave credence to the reported disappointment and discontent among several senior BJP MLAs and ex-ministers who could not be inducted into the cabinet due to the influx of ex-Congress leaders.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chouhan went on to say that the focus will not be on transfer-postings, rather it will be on working in a united manner to make the state BJP organization and Madhya Pradesh as a state the best in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CM also took a dig at the Congress, saying while the BJP organization in the state has got an enthusiastic and energetic new team under a young president, the old Congress is still dragging itself under Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new executive committee of the BJP, inclusive of 40 members, has as many as 29 totally new faces. Apart from five general secretaries appointed earlier, recently 12 each vice-presidents and secretaries, treasurer and joint treasurer, an office secretary and a media-in-charge were appointed along with heads of seven different cells.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chouhan went on to reiterate that the BJP government in the state is a government of people and they will be protected while mafias will be buried deep.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was attending different functions in Gwalior on the day, was not present at the ceremony, the CM expressed gratitude to him for being instrumental in forming a government for resurrection of the state.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BJP state chief Sharma in his address reiterated that this team was a team of the BJP and not of himself. He said that the new office bearers should set personal examples by their behavior and attitude and should get ready with full enthusiasm for the upcoming civic bodies’ polls and the Assembly polls of 2023.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, a meeting of the new executive committee members was held at the BJP headquarters in the presence of Chouhan and BJP state organizing secretary Suhas Bhagat. During this meeting, the office bearers were reportedly asked to not indulge in any activity that might be detrimental for the image of the party. They were also asked to not engage too much in publicity and public receptions and also not make statements in the media and social media without having complete knowledge of some topic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/mp-cm-chouhan-expresses-regret-at-not-being-able-to-make-some-le.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/mp-cm-chouhan-expresses-regret-at-not-being-able-to-make-some-le.html Sun Jan 17 18:52:08 IST 2021 shiv-sena-congress-spar-over-renaming-aurangabad-city <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-congress-spar-over-renaming-aurangabad-city.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/17/bibika-makbara-aurangabad.jpg" /> <p>The Shiv Sena and the Congress, which are ruling allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, on Sunday sparred over renaming Aurangabad city, with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party saying it is not "secular" behaviour if one finds "cruel and religiously blind" Mughal emperor Aurangzeb "dear".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hitting back, the Congress accused the Sena and the opposition BJP of playing politics over renaming and asked them why they did not remember the issue while they were in power in Maharashtra for the past five years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, however, maintained that the MVA government of the Sena, NCP and Congress in the state is stable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thorat, who holds Revenue portfolio, also said the government works as per the common minimum programme (CMP) and there is no scope for the "politics of sentiment".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Erstwhile allies, the Sena and the BJP, have been pitching for renaming Aurangabad as 'Sambhajinagar' after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Writing for 'Rokhthok', the weekly column in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', party MP Sanjay Raut said, "secular parties like the Congress are of the view that Aurangabad should not be renamed as Sambhajinagar".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said these parties feel that minority communities like Muslims will not be happy if Aurangabad is renamed and it will affect their vote banks, which will raise questions over their "secular image".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raut stressed that Aurangzeb was not secular but "a cruel" administrator.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Aurangzeb was religiously blind and harboured hatred towards other religions," he wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raut stated that the Mughal emperor considered Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as his enemy and killed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj brutally.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There should be no city named after such Aurangzeb at least in Maharashtra. This (demand) is not religious blindness. Call it 'Shivbhakti' (devotion to Shivaji Maharaj), Maharashtra's self-esteem or the sense of history. Prostrating before those who find Aurangzeb dear! This is not secular behaviour!" Raut said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Countering the Sena, Thorat said those who were in power at the Centre and in Maharashtra for the past five years are now playing renaming politics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He asked why did not the parties (read the Shiv Sena and the BJP) remember the renaming issue while they were in power.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress leader further said that the Sena and the BJP have let down the people of Aurangabad despite being in power in the municipal corporation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The renaming issue is being raked up now to mislead the local people. Our ally in the state, the Shiv Sena, is worried about its votes. Hence it has initiated this 'Saamana' (match) of renaming," Thorat said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said pretentiousness is the core attitude of the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The people look at it (BJP...how it behaves and speaks as entertainment," Thorat said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Without naming any party, Thorat further said those who play politics using names of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj need not teach him or his party about the duo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are Marathi people and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj are our deities. We will not seek votes using our role models and we will strongly oppose if anyone does so," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notwithstanding the differences in views between the two MVA allies on the issue, the revenue minister said that the state government is stable and strong.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"No one should feel over-joyous (over differences between the allies on the renaming issue)," Thorat added.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-congress-spar-over-renaming-aurangabad-city.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-congress-spar-over-renaming-aurangabad-city.html Sun Jan 17 17:28:04 IST 2021 as-protesting-farmers-stick-to-demands-crucial-sc-hearing-today-on-tractor-march <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/18/as-protesting-farmers-stick-to-demands-crucial-sc-hearing-today-on-tractor-march.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/13/supreme-court-farmers.jpg" /> <p>The Supreme Court will today hear&nbsp;the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. The Centre had, in an earlier petition, said that such a protest would mar "the august occasion of the Republic Day". The farmer unions had sought dismissal of the plea.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>SC-appointed panel to meet tomorrow</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court-appointed committee on the three new farm laws will hold its first meeting on January 19. In an "extraordinary" interim order on January 12, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and had constituted a four-member panel to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse. The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court's efforts seem to have hit a hurdle as Mann recused himself from the committee on January 14.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The farmers' body said the principle of natural justice is going to be violated as those appointed to the four-member committee "have already supported these laws". It has also sought dismissal of a plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march on January 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Come to the table, says Union minister</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ahead of the tenth round of talks scheduled on January 19, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday urged the protesting farm leaders to give up their "stubborn" stand on the new farm laws and come for a clause by clause discussion. "Now that the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws, then there is no question of being stubborn," Tomar told reporters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government wants farmer leaders to come for clause by clause discussion at the next meeting on January 19. Except for the demand of repealing the laws, the government is ready to consider "seriously and with an open heart" other alternatives, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tomar said the government offered certain concessions, but the farmer leaders have not shown flexibility and were constantly demanding a repeal of the laws. He reiterated that the government makes laws for the entire country. Many farmers, experts and other stakeholders have supported the laws. So far, the nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi's borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from agencies</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/18/as-protesting-farmers-stick-to-demands-crucial-sc-hearing-today-on-tractor-march.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/18/as-protesting-farmers-stick-to-demands-crucial-sc-hearing-today-on-tractor-march.html Mon Jan 18 07:48:47 IST 2021 supreme-court-to-hear-pleas-on-farm-laws-tomorrow <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/supreme-court-to-hear-pleas-on-farm-laws-tomorrow.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/12/14/farmers-arvind-2.jpg" /> <p>The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the pleas relating to controversial farm laws and the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The apex court may take into account the matter of recusal of a member of the committee set up by it to resolve the impasse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The top court would also hear the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an “extraordinary” interim order on January 12, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and had constituted a four-member panel to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court had said it would hear the pleas against the farm laws after eight weeks when the committee would give its suggestions to resolve the impasse after talking to the protesters and the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court's efforts seem to have hit a hurdle as Mann recused himself from the committee on January 14.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A bench, also comprising justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran, may take into account the issue of recusal of Mann from the committee and take remedial actions like appointing a person to replace him in the panel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Saturday, farmer union, Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti, filed an affidavit requesting the top court to remove the remaining three members of the committee and select people who can do the job “on the basis of mutual harmony”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The farmers' body said the principle of natural justice is going to be violated as those appointed to the four-member committee “have already supported these laws”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has also sought dismissal of a plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march on January 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws—the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/supreme-court-to-hear-pleas-on-farm-laws-tomorrow.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/supreme-court-to-hear-pleas-on-farm-laws-tomorrow.html Sun Jan 17 15:36:23 IST 2021 shiv-sena-to-contest-assembly-elections-in-west-bengal-raut <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-to-contest-assembly-elections-in-west-bengal-raut.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2019/11/11/Sanjay-Raut-latest.jpg" /> <p>The Shiv Sena has decided to&nbsp; &nbsp;contest the upcoming Assembly elections in West Bengal, party MP Sanjay Raut said on Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the decision to contest the polls has been taken after holding discussions with Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"So, here is the much-awaited update. After discussions with Party Chief Shri Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena has decided to contest the West Bengal Assembly Elections. We are reaching Kolkata soon...!! Jai Hind, Jai Bangla!" Raut tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He, however, didn't specify the number of seats the Sena will contest in West Bengal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Elections to the 294-member WB assembly are due in April-May this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Sena is in power in Maharashtra along with the NCP and Congress under the aegis of Maha Vikas Aghadi.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-to-contest-assembly-elections-in-west-bengal-raut.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/shiv-sena-to-contest-assembly-elections-in-west-bengal-raut.html Sun Jan 17 22:03:31 IST 2021 more-than-2-24-lakh-people-vaccinated-against-covid-19-in-india- <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/more-than-2-24-lakh-people-vaccinated-against-covid-19-in-india-.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/17/covid-vaccination-guwahati-pti.jpg" /> <p>A total of 553 sessions were held in six states on the second day of the massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme, the Union health ministry said on Sunday. As per the provisional reports, as many as 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated on Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“A total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till today (Sunday) as per the provisional report,” the ministry said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the ministry, India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day 1 (Saturday) under its COVID-19 vaccination drive, the world’s largest such exercise.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The six states where the vaccination drive was carried out on Sunday are Andhra Pradesh (308 sessions), Arunachal Pradesh (14 sessions), Karnataka (64 sessions), Kerala (one session), Manipur (one session) and Tamil Nadu (165 sessions).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ministry said a total of 447 Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) have been reported during the vaccination in the last two days. “Of these, one has been discharged from Northern Railway Hospital Delhi within 24 hours; one has been discharged from AIIMS Delhi; and one is under observation in AIIMS Rishikesh and is being monitored,” it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of the AEFIs reported so far are like fever, headache and nausea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Protocols are in place for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization and further care of such cases. Protocols are also in place for systematic investigation and causality assessment of serious AEFIs,” the ministry said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>States and Union Territories have been advised to plan COVID-19 vaccination sessions four days in a week to minimise disruption of the routine health services.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ministry said a meeting was held with all the states and UTs on Sunday to review the progress, identify bottle-necks and plan corrective actions as the vaccination program moves ahead.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest inoculation drive against COVID-19 on Saturday and said the two vaccines being deployed will ensure a &quot;decisive victory&quot; for India against the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has approved two vaccines -- Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India -- for emergency use in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/more-than-2-24-lakh-people-vaccinated-against-covid-19-in-india-.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/more-than-2-24-lakh-people-vaccinated-against-covid-19-in-india-.html Sun Jan 17 21:40:49 IST 2021 nitish-under-pressure-in-nda-should-return-to-grand-alliance-congress <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/nitish-under-pressure-in-nda-should-return-to-grand-alliance-congress.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/11/12/nitish-kumar-pti121120.jpg" /> <p>The Congress on Sunday claimed&nbsp; &nbsp;that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar appeared to be under "a lot of pressure" in the BJP-led NDA, and suggested that he consider returning to the Grand Alliance and "freely" work for the development of the state.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A statement to the effect was made by Congress Legislature Party leader Ajeet Sharma, though it was promptly dismissed as being "not official" by the RJD, which helms the five-party opposition coalition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharma made the remark referring to the much-televised quarrel between Kumar and journalists last week when the chief minister, known for his prim conduct, let his guard down and gave vent to his frustration at being rankled over a high-profile murder case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Nitish Kumar is never known for such behaviour. We all know that. He is obviously under a lot of pressure in the NDA. It is well-known that he is under pressure to give up the all-important home portfolio, which he has been keeping with himself," the Congress leader said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nearly a month ago, former Union minister Sanjay Paswan, a known detractor of Kumar in the BJP, had suggested that he give up the Home portfolio, since it was "too demanding" for the 69-year-old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Paswan had, however, qualified his statement clarifying he was not insisting that the department, which controls the police, be given to the BJP and that Kumar could choose a "more energetic" colleague from his JD(U) for the job.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NDA in Bihar at present comprises four parties, including smaller allies HAM and VIP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharma, who represents Bhagalpur in the assembly, added "the Grand Alliance is Nitish Kumar's old home. He will be able to freely work for the state's progress if he chooses to return".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Grand Alliance had come into being ahead of the 2015 assembly elections when Kumar had joined hands with his arch rival, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad. The Congress was accommodated as a junior partner and the coalition went on to register a handsome victory.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, differences with the RJD led Kumar to exit the coalition in July, 2017 and make an abrupt return to the NDA, which he had quit four years earlier following his disapproval of Narendra Modi's ascendance in the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tejashwi Yadav, the RJD's heir apparent and leader of the opposition coalition, however, testily rejected Sharma's remark when asked about the same at Saran, where he went to meet bereaved family members of Rupesh Kumar Singh, a station manager of a private airlines whose murder in the state capital has been making headlines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is not an official statement (of the Congress)," said Yadav.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With a theatrical flourish, Yadav said "it is my request to the chief minister with folded hands&nbsp; please act and do not let people of your state die like insects".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I understand you are a kamzor (weak) chief minister," he added, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the slump in JD(U)'s tally in the assembly, which has been coterminous with the rise in BJP's strength in a state where it has, so far, played second fiddle to Kumar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yadav also threatened to stage a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan along with opposition legislators "if law and order situation does not improve in a month".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Congress leader's overtures were dismissed by JD(U) MLC and spokesman Neeraj Kumar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He charged the Congress with having "given up on Mahatma Gandhi's emphasis on virtue" and capitulated before the RJD, which was "synonymous with corruption", an allusion to various cases involving Prasad&nbsp; serving sentences in fodder scam&nbsp; and other members of his family.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/nitish-under-pressure-in-nda-should-return-to-grand-alliance-congress.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/nitish-under-pressure-in-nda-should-return-to-grand-alliance-congress.html Sun Jan 17 20:05:00 IST 2021 eight-trains-connecting-to-statue-unity-flagged-off <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/eight-trains-connecting-to-statue-unity-flagged-off.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/10/30/modi-statue-of-unity.jpg" /> <p>Even as eight trains connecting the rest of the country to the world’s tallest state—Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Gujarat—were virtually flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, he emerged as a brand ambassador for one of the most sought after tourist destinations of India.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 182-metre tall statue was Modi’s brainchild during his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat, and it was thrown open for the public by him as the prime minister about two years ago. The opening of the statue has been followed by several tourist attractions in the area.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi said that the magnificence of the SoU and the Sardar Sarovar dam can be felt by only being there. Listing the attractions at the place, he said it has a zoological park, jungle safari, health garden, nutrition park, glow garden, cactus garden, butterfly park, Ekta Cruise and river rafting facilities.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is a complete family tourist destination,” he said, adding that before the work started in the area, many had apprehensions that it would take years together to come up with such facilities. Without mentioning the UPA, Modi said probably going by the speed at which things were done in the past it would have taken years.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also mentioned about good road network, internet connectivity and facilities of hospitals in and around the area.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi said that the connectivity would change the lives of tribals living in Kevadia and also give an opportunity to sell their products. Some of the locals have already become managers, café owners and guides, he remarked.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Quoting an unmade survey, he said as the connectivity increases there is an estimate that one lakh people would daily visit SoU.&nbsp;The prime minister also mentioned about the sea plane service introduced between Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati River Front and Kevadia a couple of months ago. Modi said that it is probably for the first time in the history of Indian Railways that eight trains were being flagged off for one destination.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about a train originating from Chennai, the prime minister did not lose the opportunity to mention about the birth anniversary of former chief minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran. MGR, the PM said, ruled the hearts of people whether it was silver screen or political screen. Modi said MGR’s life was dedicated for the poor so that they lead a dignified life. “Today we making efforts to complete his task,” he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also took a dig at the previous governments, albeit without naming them, as he said that not a single kilometre of rail track was added and efforts were made to upkeep the existing tracks. In today’s times, he said, new technology is being used and in months to come work on 11,000 kilometres of track will be done.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi flagged off trains from Chennai, Rewa, Ahmedabad, Varanasi and Nizamuddin among other places to Kevadia. Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani was present at Kevadia for the inauguration and his deputy Nitin Patel was present at Ahmedabad Railway station.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/eight-trains-connecting-to-statue-unity-flagged-off.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/eight-trains-connecting-to-statue-unity-flagged-off.html Sun Jan 17 16:21:58 IST 2021 dalit-woman-found-hanging-from-tree-in-up-suicide-suspected <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/dalit-woman-found-hanging-from-tree-in-up-suicide-suspected.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/health/images/2019/11/29/hanging-suicide-death-rope-noose-court-order-capital-opunishment-shut.jpg" /> <p>In a suspected case of suicide, the body of a Dalit woman was found hanging from a tree here, police said on Sunday. However, the woman's family alleged that she was being harassed by a youth in their locality and her body was hanged after murder.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Preeti (18) left home on Saturday afternoon to buy vegetables but did not return. Later, her family members found her body hanging from a tree in Belatal area, said Circle Officer Rampravesh Rai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prima facie, it appears to be a case of suicide, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the woman's aunt told the police that she was being harassed by a youth in their locality who was had been making calls to her for the past one month. She alleged that Preeti's body was hanged from the tree after murder, the officer said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The body has been sent for a post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of death, Rai said.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/dalit-woman-found-hanging-from-tree-in-up-suicide-suspected.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/dalit-woman-found-hanging-from-tree-in-up-suicide-suspected.html Sun Jan 17 09:51:06 IST 2021 sc-appointed-panel-on-farm-laws-to-hold-first-meeting-on-jan-19 <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/sc-appointed-panel-on-farm-laws-to-hold-first-meeting-on-jan-19.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/17/farmer-protest-pti170121.jpg" /> <p>The Supreme Court-appointed committee on the three new farm laws is scheduled to hold its first meeting on January 19 at Pusa campus in Delhi, one of its members Anil Ghanwat said on Sunday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws, against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for over 50 days now, till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, however, recused from the committee last week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from Ghanwat, agri-economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi are the two other panel members.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are meeting on January 19 at the Pusa campus. Only members will meet to decide the future course of action," Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra), told PTI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the four members has backed out of the committee. If the apex court does not appoint a new member, the existing members will continue, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The committee has received the terms of reference and will begin the work from January 21 onwards, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked about the government holding parallel talks with protesting farmer unions after the setting up of the SC panel, he said, "We have no issue if a solution is found and the protests end from either (efforts of) our panel or from the government's separate talks with the protesting farmer unions."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Let (Government) them continue the discussion, we have been given a duty and we will focus on that," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the pleas relating to the controversial farm laws and the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders.&nbsp; It may take into account the matter of recusal of the member from the panel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The top court would also hear the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against a proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers that may disrupt the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, the government has held nine rounds of formal talks with 41 farmer unions but has failed to break the logjam as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the last meeting, the Centre had suggested that the unions constitute their own informal group to prepare a concrete proposal on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting on January 19 to end the long-running protest at various Delhi borders.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/sc-appointed-panel-on-farm-laws-to-hold-first-meeting-on-jan-19.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/sc-appointed-panel-on-farm-laws-to-hold-first-meeting-on-jan-19.html Sun Jan 17 18:34:09 IST 2021 farmer-unions-say-they-will-go-ahead-with-tractor-march-in-delhi-on-republic-day <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmer-unions-say-they-will-go-ahead-with-tractor-march-in-delhi-on-republic-day.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/8/farmers-protest-sc.jpg" /> <p>Farmer unions protesting against the Centre's agri laws said on Sunday that they will go ahead with their proposed tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day.</p> <p>Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, union leader Yogendra Yadav said, "We will carry out a tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day. The parade will be very peaceful. There will be no disruption of the Republic Day parade. The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors."</p> <p>The authorities had moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. The matter is pending in court.</p> <p>Another farmer union leader, Darshan Pal Singh, alleged that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is filing cases against those who are part of the protest or supporting it.</p> <p>"All farmer unions condemn this," Pal said, referring to the NIA summons reportedly issued to a farmer union leader in a case related to the banned Sikhs For Justice outfit.</p> <p>Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now demanding repeal of the three laws—the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.</p> <p>Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.</p> <p>The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmer-unions-say-they-will-go-ahead-with-tractor-march-in-delhi-on-republic-day.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/farmer-unions-say-they-will-go-ahead-with-tractor-march-in-delhi-on-republic-day.html Sun Jan 17 18:58:34 IST 2021 most-farmers-are-in-favour-of-new-agri-laws--says-tomar <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/most-farmers-are-in-favour-of-new-agri-laws--says-tomar.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/12/11/narendra-singh-tomar-ap.jpg" /> <p>Even as the Supreme Court is all set to hear the pleas relating to the controversial farm laws on Monday, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that most of the farmers in the country are in favour of the three laws. The minister also reiterated that the government is ready to bring amendments to the laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“When the government enacts the law, it is for the whole country. Most of the farmers, scholars, scientists, and people working in the agriculture sector agree with these laws,&quot; news agency <i>ANI </i>quoted Tomar as saying.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the government has sent a proposal to the protesting farmers in which it had agreed to address their apprehensions regarding mandis, traders' registration and other things.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The government has also agreed to discuss laws on stubble burning and electricity but unions only want the repeal of the laws,&quot; Tomar told <i>ANI</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Supreme Court, in an interim order on January 12, had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and had constituted a four-member panel to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court's efforts seem to have hit a hurdle as Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union and one of the members of the panel, recused himself from the committee on January 14.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;If the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of laws, then I think the question of repealing ends,” Tomar said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tenth round of talks between the agitating farmers and a group of Union ministers will take place on January 19. The previous nine rounds of negotiations had failed to end the deadlock with the protesting farmers insisting that they would not settle for anything less than the repeal of new agriculture laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tomar said that the government expects the farmers to discuss the laws clause by clause on January 19 and give options about what amendments can be brought to the laws other than repealing them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws—the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Enacted in September 2020, these laws have been presented by the government as a major reform in the farm sector aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/most-farmers-are-in-favour-of-new-agri-laws--says-tomar.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/most-farmers-are-in-favour-of-new-agri-laws--says-tomar.html Sun Jan 17 17:00:38 IST 2021 congress-questions-modi-govt-over-pricing-of-vaccines-asks-who-will-get-vaccine-for-free <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/congress-questions-modi-govt-over-pricing-of-vaccines-asks-who-will-get-vaccine-for-free.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/amey-vaccination-vaccine-injection-needle-mumbai.jpg" /> <p>The Congress, on Sunday, raised questions over the pricing of the Coronavirus vaccine, accusing the Modi government of being opaque on the issue. The party also asked the ruling dispensation to come clean on how many people will get the vaccine free of cost, and which categories of people will be amongst the beneficiaries.</p> <p>Quoting drug controller V.G. Somani, AICC communications department head Randeep Surjewala said the Centre has ordered 165 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and at two doses per person, this would cover only 82.50 lakh people, and pointed out that the government has said it will cover three crore people in the first round of vaccination.</p> <p>“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are refusing to answer as to how will the remaining population of India, which is 135 crore citizens, get the Coronavirus vaccine as also whether the vaccine will be free for them,” he said.</p> <p>Surjewala asked if the backward castes and the underprivileged would get the vaccine for free. He also referred to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman promising free vaccine to the entire population of Bihar as part of the BJP's manifesto in the run-up to the assembly elections.</p> <p>He recalled that on October 31, 2020, the prime minister assured the nation that everyone will get the vaccine, and on January 2, 2021, Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan promised free vaccine and later backtracked. “Now, the Modi government is refusing to commit as to who will and who will not get free Corona vaccine,” he said.</p> <p>The Congress has also raised questions on the pricing of the vaccine. It said AstraZeneca has committed to supplying its vaccine at no profit. The same vaccine, Surjewala said, is being supplied at Rs 200 per dose to the government, while Belgium's minister Eva De Bleeker has said the vaccine is being provided to them at Rs 158 per dose.</p> <p>Further, Surjewala said Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is being supplied at Rs 295 per dose to the government despite the fact that it has been developed in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). He also pointed out that the vaccine has been approved after conducting trials in Phase I on 375 participants and in Phase II on 380 participants, which is a total of 755 participants, and Phase III trials are still awaited.</p> <p>He said the Modi government needs to answer why it is paying Rs 95 more to Bharat Biotech for a vaccine that has been developed with the expertise and experience of scientists of government-owned ICMR, and which has only been tested on 755 individuals and is yet to be cleared after Phase III trials.</p> <p>The Congress also asked why the price of the vaccine is Rs 1,000 per dose in the open market. “When Covishield vaccine is being supplied at Rs 200 per dose to the government by the Serum Institute of India, why should they be permitted to make a 500 per cent profit for off the shelf purchase and profiteering at the cost of the people?” Surjewala asked.</p> <p>He said the Modi government is duty bound to ensure purchase of all Covishield doses at Rs 200 per dose and enable the people to purchase at this price rather than Rs 1,000 per dose.</p> <p>He asked if the vaccine has not been put in the National Essential List of Medicine and if the price of Rs 1,000 per dose has been approved by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority. “Why is the Modi government not demanding transparency from companies on cost of production, licensing and profit margin?” he said, and asked why the government has permitted export of COVID-19 vaccine.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/congress-questions-modi-govt-over-pricing-of-vaccines-asks-who-will-get-vaccine-for-free.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/congress-questions-modi-govt-over-pricing-of-vaccines-asks-who-will-get-vaccine-for-free.html Sun Jan 17 17:44:32 IST 2021 up-cm-calls-on-media-to-counter-disinformation-as-akhilesh-yadav-questions-vaccine-again <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/up-cm-calls-on-media-to-counter-disinformation-as-akhilesh-yadav-questions-vaccine-again.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/CM-yogi-adityanath-vaccinations.jpg" /> <p>As the country rolled out the covid vaccination drive, Uttar Pradesh chief minister called upon the media to dispel misinformation about the jab. The state’s former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, however, chose the opportunity to yet again cast doubts on the vaccine, urging people to be careful while getting it.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The CM monitored the start of the vaccination drive at Balrampur Hospital in Lucknow. “This is a new beginning. We will go in a new direction now”, he said.<br> </p> <p>He said that the state was fully prepared to administer the vaccine. “People must wait for their turn for the vaccine”, he added.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The CM has already made it clear that he will not be vaccinated out of turn but will wait for his place on the list before he takes the jab.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>He said that the time had come when the coronavirus would be brought under complete control. “The efforts of the centre and the states have contributed to this success”, he said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The chief minister also commended the media for playing a positive role during the pandemic—including highlighting laxities and gaps in the government’s efforts. “The media must stem rumours about the vaccine”, he said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Samajwadi Party chief Yadav, who has faced flak for calling the vaccine "of the BJP" and has declared his intention not to take it, meanwhile, took to questioning the vaccine once again. He cited the example of Norway where 23 elderly people,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/world/2021/01/15/norway-to-better-screen-frail-patients-after-vaccine-deaths.html">reportedly in frail condition</a>, have been reported dead soon after taking vaccines by Pfizer.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>“A developed country which is far ahead of us has had deaths because of the vaccine”, Yadav said. “All BJP people should first get the vaccine”, he added.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Yet, he also reiterated that if his party were to come to power everyone would get a free vaccine—without clarifying which vaccine he was talking of.<br> </p> <p>Meanwhile, the SP sent out a release claiming that hundreds of disgruntled members from the BSP, the BJP and the Congress had joined the party. The photos attached to it showed a hall full of people with no social distancing being observed and hardly any masks in sight.&nbsp;</p> <p>The state’s CM has repeatedly said that a vaccine does not mean that the basic protocols of distancing, masking and hand washing can be done away with.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/up-cm-calls-on-media-to-counter-disinformation-as-akhilesh-yadav-questions-vaccine-again.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/up-cm-calls-on-media-to-counter-disinformation-as-akhilesh-yadav-questions-vaccine-again.html Sat Jan 16 21:28:34 IST 2021 mp-in-separate-incidents-over-8-days-9-men-raped-a-13-year-old-in-umaria <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/mp-in-separate-incidents-over-8-days-9-men-raped-a-13-year-old-in-umaria.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/sci-tech/2019/October/sexual-abuse-rape-human-trafficking-domestic-violence-woman-shut.jpg" /> <p>In a horrific incident, a 13-year-old in Umaria was gang-raped by nine men in two incidents over 8 days. The minor was gang-raped by nine men over a period of three days after being abducted on January 11. Earlier on January 4, she was raped by three of the nine accused but did not report it to anyone, police have said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The girl has been recovered by the Umaria police and eight of the nine accused have been arrested, Umaria superintendent of police (SP) Vikas Shahwal told THE WEEK. Though highly traumatized mainly, the girl has no serious physical injuries and has been kept at the district one-stop crisis centre where she is being constantly counselled. Also, plans for her proper rehabilitation are in process, the SP said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The minor, a student of class 9, was reportedly lured and abducted by two youths—Akash Singh and Rahul Kushwaha—while she had gone for some work in the local market on January 11. They then took her to a nearby forest area and then to a local eatery, where she was raped by seven persons. When she asked to be sent back home the next day, she was allegedly sent with a truck driver who also raped her and left her mid-way. She then hailed another truck, whose driver also raped her, sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Police chief Shahwal told THE WEEK that the family, under the impression that she was with some known people, did not report her missing till the morning of January 12. “We then immediately swung into action as per directives on missing girls under Samman programme and managed to recover her on January 13. She then narrated the crime with her and later also informed that she was earlier raped by three of the accused on January 4 too. We have registered cases under relevant sections and eight of the nine accused have been sent to judicial custody. Our teams are trying to track the remaining accused (one of the truck drivers),” the SP said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He added that as the family did not seem to be equipped for proper mental and other rehabilitation of the girl, she has been put under the care of trained psychologists and officials of the women and child development department at the one-stop crisis centre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among the accused who have been arrested include Paras Soni (the eatery owner), Manu Kewat, Onkar Rai, Itendra Singh, Rajnish Choudhary and Rohit Yadav (truck driver) apart from Rahul and Akash, sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The gang-rape comes as a series of similar horrific sexual violence incidents have been reported in the state during the past week. </p> <p>On January 11, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched an awareness-cum-safety programme ‘Samman’ (honour) on crime against women in the state.</p> <p>That very day, a 16-year-old girl was raped and murdered by a 50-year-old shopkeeper in Khandwa, who also tried to dispose of the body with&nbsp;the help of his wife. Just days before, on January 9, a woman in Sidhi was gang-raped and a rod inserted in the private parts in Sidhi district. Another 16-year-old was raped by her neighbour in Sagar district on January 13, while a seven-year-old girl was sexually harassed by a private tutor and his servant in Bhopal also on January 13. On January 12, a 14-year-old was allegedly raped (sexually violated) by three persons in Gwalior.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madhya Pradesh has been called the ‘rape capital of India’ for several years now, as it consistently reports the highest number of rapes (including rapes of minors) in the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, in 2019, 5,822 rapes including 3,337 minor rapes were reported. In 2018, a total of 6,480 rape cases including 3,877 minor rapes were reported in MP while in 2017, 6,526 rapes including 4,030 minor rapes were reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/mp-in-separate-incidents-over-8-days-9-men-raped-a-13-year-old-in-umaria.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/mp-in-separate-incidents-over-8-days-9-men-raped-a-13-year-old-in-umaria.html Sat Jan 16 21:49:30 IST 2021 nia-summoned-farm-leader-sirsa-as-witness-in-sfj-case-more-names-on-radar <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-summoned-farm-leader-sirsa-as-witness-in-sfj-case-more-names-on-radar.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/sirsa.jpeg" /> <p>&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The National Investigation Agency's move to summon Baldev Singh Sirsa, who leads an organisation involved in the ongoing farmers' protests in the country, may be seen as an attempt to derail the protests. However, sources in the agency said Sirsa has been summoned as a ''witness'' in its case against the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/12/02/amid-farmers-stir-khalistan-being-used-as-a-propaganda-material.html">banned Khalistani outfit</a>&nbsp;Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sirsa, who has been asked to appear before NIA sleuths on December 17, is likely to be questioned about an alleged overground network of front organisations that could be helping the SFJ campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NIA has more names on its list of people who may be issued summons in the coming days. “After Sirsa, there could be others who can be called for questioning in the matter next week,” sources said. Whether the agency subsequently finds any evidence against Sirsa and others is a matter of investigation. Sirsa heads the Lok Bharati Insaf Welfare Society which is part of the group of farmers unions holding talks with the Centre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Government sources claim that it has come to light that certain NGOs are involved in terror funding and in supporting the Khalistani movement, with the matter under investigation by the NIA and other agencies.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sources said Sirsa and others will be asked to share any information on the ground as well as social media activities which are allegedly helping SFJ propagate sedition and disturb peace and harmony.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An NIA official said there is evidence that many individuals and organisations have been associated with SFJ activities directly or indirectly.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“These individuals could belong to different organisations and doing different work. Some could be farmers, journalists, cable television operators or other professions. But some of them have been assisting the SFJ activities alongside. We are only collecting information and questioning certain witnesses right now,'' said an official. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NIA officials said the summons to Sirsa is part of a longer investigation process and not a knee jerk reaction to the protests. &nbsp;“The agency has been probing the larger conspiracy by the Khalistani terror outfit and there is evidence of involvement of more organisations and persons. Whether anyone is an accused or not, will be decided after questioning. There is no link to the farmers' protests,” the official added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, chief of the SFJ, as well as nine others, were among those named in the charge sheet filed by the NIA in December for carrying out a series of acts of violence and arson in Punjab in 2017-18, as well as online and on-ground campaigns in support of SFJ and Referendum 2020.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably, the NIA move to question Sirsa comes after intelligence agencies shared inputs with the government linking the farmers' movement to the threat posed by Khalistani terror outfits.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-summoned-farm-leader-sirsa-as-witness-in-sfj-case-more-names-on-radar.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-summoned-farm-leader-sirsa-as-witness-in-sfj-case-more-names-on-radar.html Sat Jan 16 19:57:06 IST 2021 trp-scam-ex-ceo-of-barc-partho-dasgupta-hospitalised-in-icu <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/trp-scam-ex-ceo-of-barc-partho-dasgupta-hospitalised-in-icu.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/partho.jpg" /> <p>Former CEO of ratings agency BARC, Partho Dasgupta, who was arrested in the alleged fake Television Ratings Point (TRP) case, has been admitted in the ICU of state-run JJ hospital in central Mumbai, an official said on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dasgupta, a diabetic, was rushed to the hospital from the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai in the early hours of Saturday after his blood sugar levels went up on Friday midnight. Dasgupta was admitted to the ICU of JJ hospital and is on Oxygen support, the official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The news comes a day after screenshots of alleged leaked WhatsApp chat between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and Dasgupta were leaked and widely shared on social media.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dasgupta was arrested in the alleged TRP rigging scam by crime branch of the Mumbai Police on December 24 last year. A Mumbai court had earlier this month rejected the bail plea of Dasgupta, stating that he played a vital role in the scam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mumbai Police had earlier told the court that Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami had allegedly bribed Dasgupta with "lakhs of rupees" to ramp up the news channels viewership.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/trp-scam-ex-ceo-of-barc-partho-dasgupta-hospitalised-in-icu.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/trp-scam-ex-ceo-of-barc-partho-dasgupta-hospitalised-in-icu.html Sat Jan 16 16:24:57 IST 2021 covid-19-india-records-15144-new-cases <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/covid-19-india-records-15144-new-cases.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/sci-tech/2020/april/virus-cells-coronavirus-copy-space-Covid-19-shut.jpg" /> <p>India's COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 1,05,57,985 with 15,144 new cases in a day, while 1,01,96,885 people have recuperated so far pushing the national recovery rate to 96.58 per cent, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Sunday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are 2,08,826 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 1.98 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The total coronavirus cases mounted to 1,05,57,985 and the death toll climbed to 1,52,274 with the novel coronavirus virus claiming 181 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, the data updated at 8 am showed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The COVID-19 case fatality rate stood at 1.44 per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 18,65,44,868 samples have been tested up to January 16 with 7,79,377 samples being tested on Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 and 40 lakh on September 5. It went past 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11 and crossed 80 lakh on October 29 and 90 lakh on November 20 and one crore on December 19.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 181 latest fatalities include 52 from Maharashtra, 27 from Kerala, 15 from West Bengal, 12 from Uttar Pradesh, six each from Delhi, and Tamil Nadu.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The total 152274 deaths reported so far in the country include 50388 from Maharashtra followed by 12257 from Tamil Nadu, 12162 from Karnataka, 10738 from Delhi, 10041 from West Bengal, 8570 from Uttar Pradesh, 7139 from Andhra Pradesh, 5499 from Punjab and 4363 from Gujarat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)," the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/covid-19-india-records-15144-new-cases.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/covid-19-india-records-15144-new-cases.html Sun Jan 17 11:15:36 IST 2021 army-has-boosted-countrys-morale-during-border-standoff-with-china-singh <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/army-has-boosted-countrys-morale-during-border-standoff-with-china-singh.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/rajnath-lucknow-pti.jpg" /> <p>Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the Indian Army has boosted the morale of the country and also enabled the people to hold their heads high during the border standoff with China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The military face-off had erupted on May 5 following violent clashes between the Indian Army and the PLA in the Pangong lake area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was speaking at the 'bhoomipujan' and foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Command Hospital in Lucknow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Commending the defence forces for their services to the nation, Singh said, “The conduct of the defence forces is an inspiration to the entire nation.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Singh was in his parliamentary constituency, with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Chief of the Army Staff General (COAS) M.M. Naravane and General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Central Command, Lieutenant General I.S. Ghuman, at the ceremony.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new building of the hospital is spread over 40 acres. The estimated project cost is Rs 425 crore. The building will have six blocks of four wings. These will vary in height from 3 to 9 storeys. All blocks are to be interconnected with skyways independent of the main patient activity areas. The complex will also have parking space for 750 cars. Vertical circulation will be maintained by a large number of elevators and ramps. It will house state-of-art facilities with all specialties and subspecialties, including cardiology with a modern interventional catheterisation lab, modular operation theatres with one hybrid operation theatre, state-of-art nephrology and dialysis centre, reconstructive surgery and crisis wards and composite oncology centre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The hospital at Lucknow was raised in 1859 and designated as Command Hospital (Central Command) in 1967. The new building was approved by the Chief of the Army Staff in 2018.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One remarkable aspect of the new building is that no trees have been cut on the land it is to come up on. Instead they were all replanted—a point noted and appreciated by Singh in his speech.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Singh congratulated the nation for the ongoing ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ celebrations which mark the 50 years of India’s victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. “The courage and valour of the defence forces in 1971 was a source of immense pride for the whole country,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The minister also touched on the start of the COVID-19 vaccination drive remarking that not only would everyone in the country get vaccine, the country would also provide vaccines for other nations in the spirit of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ (the philosophy of the whole world being a family).</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/army-has-boosted-countrys-morale-during-border-standoff-with-china-singh.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/army-has-boosted-countrys-morale-during-border-standoff-with-china-singh.html Sat Jan 16 21:32:38 IST 2021 after-nia-summons-farmer-leaders-sad-hits-out <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/after-nia-summons-farmer-leaders-sad-hits-out.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/2017/january/images/sukhbir-singh-badal-18117pti.jpg" /> <p>Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday alleged that attempts are being made to threaten farmer leaders through notices by agencies like the NIA. He also accused the Centre of being insincere in talks over the farm laws and said the government is only "trying to tire out farmers".&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Simultaneously, it [Centre] is intimidating farmers by issuing notices to them through various agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Farmers are not anti-nationals. We condemn this," said Badal.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NIA had earlier summoned Baldev Singh Sirsa, who leads an organisation involved in the ongoing farmers' protests in the country, as a ''witness'' in its case against the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/12/02/amid-farmers-stir-khalistan-being-used-as-a-propaganda-material.html">banned Khalistani outfit</a>&nbsp;Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). Sirsa, who has been asked to appear before NIA sleuths on December 17, is likely to be questioned about an alleged overground network of front organisations that could be helping the SFJ campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Senior Akali leader and former state minister Bikram Singh Majithia also accused the Union government of defaming farmers by calling them naxalites and Khalistanis.He said the SAD had always stood with farmers and quit the National Democratic Alliance when the government refused to listen to them. Badal also slammed Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, alleging that he has failed to fulfil any of his promises made to people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Badal asked the chief minister to tell one thing he had done for the people of the state in the past four years of his rule.&nbsp;In direct contrast, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was responsible for making Punjab power surplus besides bringing in irrigation projects, providing free power for tube wells, creating the 'mandi' infrastructure and even ushering in the minimum support price system by taking up the issue with the Centre, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/after-nia-summons-farmer-leaders-sad-hits-out.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/after-nia-summons-farmer-leaders-sad-hits-out.html Sun Jan 17 12:05:36 IST 2021 from-high-profile-names-to-a-couple-of-adverse-effects-how-india-vaccine-drive-unfolded <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/from-high-profile-names-to-a-couple-of-adverse-effects-how-india-vaccine-drive-unfolded.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/Salil-oxford-covishield-serum-vaccine-vial-vaccination-2.jpg" /> <p>As the first day of the coronavirus inoculation exercise unfolded on Saturday, COVID-19 vaccine shots were given to nearly two lakh frontline healthcare and sanitary workers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world's largest inoculation drive against the pandemic that has caused 1,52,093 deaths and upended millions of lives in the country.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Modi asserted that the two vaccines being deployed will ensure a decisive victory for India against the coronavirus, the Union health ministry said no case of post-inoculation hospitalisation. However, it emerged in the night that there were two cases—a nurse in West Bengal and a security guard in Delhi—which required hospitalisation after they developed allergic reaction. Their respective conditions were reported as stable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/no-case-of-post-vaccination-hospitalisation-reported-so-far-health-ministry.html">A total of 1,91,181 beneficiaries were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine at 3,352 session sites across the country on the first day</a>, the health ministry said.&nbsp;India has the second highest recorded cases of COVID-19 after the US. The caseload stood at 1,05,42,841 as on Saturday.&nbsp;Health workers who got their first shots of Covaxin at the AIIMS were made to sign a consent form that promised compensation in case of a &quot;severe adverse event&quot; related to the vaccine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A 35-year-old nurse in Kolkata was hospitalised after she lost consciousness post administration of Covishield and she was among the 14 AEFI (adverse event following immunisation) cases reported from different parts of the state. Allergic reactions after vaccination are common. The security guard, who is in his 20s and was administered Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, complained of palpitations and developed an allergic skin rash within 15-20 minutes after being inoculated and was admitted to the facility.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How states operated</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Delhi:</b>&nbsp;Over 4,300 healthcare workers received their first shots on Saturday, with Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain asserting that the COVID-19 vaccination drive was &quot;successfully conducted&quot; on the first day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Mumbai:</b>&nbsp;The inoculation drive for coronavirus will be suspended in Mumbai for the next two days owing to technical issues with the Co-WIN app, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. Co-WIN app allows registration for the vaccination. &quot;Digital registration is mandatory for COVID-19 vaccination, but on the first day of the drive today, the government had allowed offline registration in case of any technical problem,&quot; the civic body said in a statement. In view of this direction and problems with the Co-WIN app, inoculation in Mumbai will be suspended while the Union government removes the problem.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Chandigarh:</b>&nbsp;374 beneficiaries were administered COVID-19 vaccine in Chandigarh.&nbsp;The vaccination drive went off well without any major adverse event at all the session sites. The Union territory has received 12,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and health authorities provided 1,000 doses to the PGIMER.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Andhra Pradesh:</b>&nbsp;Over 19,000 healthcare workers were administered the coronavirus vaccine on the first day in Andhra Pradesh. Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar said eight cases of AEFI were reported in three districts. As against the target of 31,570 health workers, 19,108 turned up for vaccination on the first day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Odisha:</b>&nbsp;Of the total 16,314 people targeted to receive the jabs, 13,292 frontline workers took the vaccine on the first day.&nbsp;Around 81 per cent of the targeted beneficiaries on Saturday turned out at designated centres across Odisha to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as the state government rolled out the inoculation drive.&nbsp;&quot;About 81 per cent of the beneficiaries have received the vaccine in 161 session sites across the state by 6pm,&quot; a senior health department official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kerala:</b>&nbsp;The first day of the COVID-19 vaccine drive in Kerala, part of a nationwide exercise that began on Saturday, saw 8,062 health workers getting inoculated and no side effect being reported. The vaccination was carried out at 133 designated centres, with prominent doctors among the first batch of frontline workers to get the shots, Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Telangana:</b>&nbsp;Almost 4,000 health care personnel received it and no severe reaction reported from any part of the state. While the target was to vaccinate 4,296 people on Saturday, it was administered to 3,962 people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Madhya Pradesh:</b>&nbsp;A total of 9,564 persons were inoculated in the state on the first day of nationwide drive.&nbsp;As of 5 pm, 9,564 persons had received the jab at 150 centres across Madhya Pradesh, while only eight cases of minor side effects were reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>High-profile names get vaccinated</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;These vaccines will ensure a decisive victory for India against coronavirus,&quot; PM Modi said. Addressing the nation ahead of the launch of what he described as the world's largest vaccination programme, Modi reassured the country that emergency use authorisation was given to the two made in India vaccines only after scientists were convinced of their safety and effectiveness, and urged people to beware of propaganda and rumours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Injecting confidence in the people, several high profile persons, including AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul, who is also head of an empowered group on medical equipment and management plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Serum Institute of India(SII) CEO Adar Poonawallah, West Bengal minister Nirmal Maji, BJP MP Mahesh Sharma, who is a doctor by profession, Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Dr Prathap C. Reddy and Chairman of Manipal Hospitals Sudarshan Ballal also received their first shot of the two-dose vaccine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Senior doctors received the first shot at many identified vaccination sites to dispel any apprehensions about the vaccine. Vardhan told reporters that the two vaccines—Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable manufactured by the SII—were a 'sanjivani' (life infusing) in the fight against the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We have got encouraging and satisfactory feedback results on the first day. This indicates that we are moving towards victory in the fight against coronavirus,&quot; he said during a review meeting in the evening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 1,91,181 beneficiaries were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine at 3,352 session sites across the country on the first day, the health ministry said.&nbsp;India has the second highest recorded cases of COVID-19 after the US. The caseload stood at 1,05,42,841 as on Saturday. Health workers who got their first shots of Covaxin at the AIIMS were made to sign a consent form that promised compensation in case of a &quot;severe adverse event&quot; related to the vaccine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from agencies</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/from-high-profile-names-to-a-couple-of-adverse-effects-how-india-vaccine-drive-unfolded.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/from-high-profile-names-to-a-couple-of-adverse-effects-how-india-vaccine-drive-unfolded.html Sun Jan 17 07:57:54 IST 2021 bjp-govt-in-karnataka-will-complete-five-year-term-return-to-power-again-amit-shah <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/bjp-govt-in-karnataka-will-complete-five-year-term-return-to-power-again-amit-shah.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/11/29/amit-shah-hyderbad-corp-pti.jpg" /> <p>Dismissing statements of some Congess leaders about the ruling BJP in Karnataka post cabinet expansion, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said the government would not only complete its five year term, but return to power with an absolute majority.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said a lot of development work has been taking place in the state under the leadership of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and advised opposition leaders to work for the well-being of people, instead of finding fault with the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;"I have been reading the statements of Congress leaders that this will happen and that will happen in Karnataka, but I want to tell everyone that the BJP government will not only complete the five year term, but also return to power for five years with an absolute majority," Shah said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition Congress in Karnataka had on January 14 taken a dig at Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa over dynasty politics allegations made against him by some BJP legislators after the cabinet expansion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was speaking at the inauguration of police quarters in Bengaluru, besides virtually inauguration of the Indian Reserve Battalion at Vijayapura and the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and state Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai were among the dignitaries present. Shah said the Centre and state are committed to the development for Karnataka.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition Congress has been mocking the chief minister over dynasty politics allegations levelled against him by some BJP legislators after the recent cabinet expansion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some among the saffron party had come out in the open soon after the CM carried out the exercise.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive launched on Saturday, Shah said the results would be visible in one or two months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also lauded the scientists who brought out the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and said frontline workers deserved to get the first shots as they are are in the forefront of the war against the virus.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/bjp-govt-in-karnataka-will-complete-five-year-term-return-to-power-again-amit-shah.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/17/bjp-govt-in-karnataka-will-complete-five-year-term-return-to-power-again-amit-shah.html Sun Jan 17 09:35:15 IST 2021 no-case-of-post-vaccination-hospitalisation-reported-so-far-health-ministry <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/no-case-of-post-vaccination-hospitalisation-reported-so-far-health-ministry.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/salil-vaccine-jab-vaccination-injection.jpg" /> <p>India kicked off the largest COVID-19 immunisation drive in the world, with over a lakh vaccinations today. Across the country, 3,352 immunisation sessions were held, and 1,91,181 healthcare and frontline workers received either of the two vaccines, Covishield or Covaxin. An additional 3,429 persons were vaccinated in defence institutions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This would be the first of the three crore healthcare and frontline workers that the government targets to vaccinate over the next few months. The first day's number, however, is only about 63 per cent of the Union health ministry's expected count of beneficiaries for the day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On January 15, the Union health ministry had said that the drive would be conducted across 3,006 session sites, and 100 beneficiaries would be vaccinated at each of these sites. In case of Delhi, for instance, where 81 sites were doing the vaccination, 4,319 beneficiaries received the shot, a little over half of the expected number of around 8,100 beneficiaries. Certain sections of doctors also expressed their reservations to take Covaxin. The residents doctors association at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia (six central hospitals in Delhi received Covaxin) citing lack of “complete trial” data, requested to be vaccinated with Covishield instead. The Centre has, however, said that the vaccinees would not have any choice in deciding which vaccine they get.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of the two vaccines, ministry officials said that Serum Institute's Covishield was supplied to all states, while Covaxin was sent to 12 states only. These include Bihar, Assam, Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Uttar Pradesh (21,291), Andhra Pradesh (18,412) and Maharashtra (18,328) did the highest number of vaccinations, while some of the northeast states such as Sikkim (120), Tripura (355), and Mizoram (314) had the least number of beneficiaries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among states, Andhra Pradesh also had the highest number of sessions with Covishield (332), followed by Gujarat (161), Madhya Pradesh (150) and Kerala (133). A total of 3,351 sessions were held, and 16,755 personel were involved in organising the immunisation sites. According to Manohar Agnani, Joint Secretary, Reproductive And Child Health, Union Health Ministry, told the media that on day one, the CoWin app experienced a few issues such as a delay in uploading of beneficiary list at some session sites. Agnani was briefing reporters after Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan reviewed the progress with health ministers of all states and UTs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Agnani said that the delay in uploading was resolved by attending to “system performance” after which the speed of the digital improved and is further “being optimised”. At certain sites, healthcare workers who were vaccinated were not scheduled for this day, though. “States have been advised to upload details of such healthcare workers in the CoWin database,” Agnani told the media. The health ministry said that no case of post-vaccination hospitalisation had been reported so far.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/no-case-of-post-vaccination-hospitalisation-reported-so-far-health-ministry.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/no-case-of-post-vaccination-hospitalisation-reported-so-far-health-ministry.html Sat Jan 16 22:25:38 IST 2021 adar-poonawalla-takes-covishield-jab-wishes-success-on-launch-of-covid-19-vaccine-drive <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/adar-poonawalla-takes-covishield-jab-wishes-success-on-launch-of-covid-19-vaccine-drive.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/adar-poonawalla.jpg" /> <p>Adar Poonawalla, whose Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactured the first lot of COVID-19 vaccines, was among those who got vaccinated on Saturday, as India kicked off world's largest immunisation campaign to bring the pandemic under control.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He wished the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi success for the vaccination programme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As sanitation and healthcare workers around the country got the first inoculation, Poonawalla tweeted a short video of him getting the vaccine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I wish India &amp; Sri @narendramodi ji great success in launching the world's largest COVID vaccination roll-out. It brings me great pride that #COVISHIELD is part of this historic effort &amp; to endorse it's safety &amp; efficacy, I join our health workers in taking the vaccine myself," Poonawalla tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>SII manufactured Oxford University-AstraZeneca's vaccine Covishield, while Bharat Biotech developed the other vaccine Covaxin that is being administered in the inoculation drive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over 3 lakh healthcare workers will be inoculated on the first day of the much-anticipated drive against coronavirus. The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors, including ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, according to the health ministry.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in the day, the prime minister launched the vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country, and urged people to show patience during COVID-19 immunisation drive as they had shown till now in fighting the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan described COVID-19 vaccines as "Sanjivani" in the fight against the infectious disease as he urged people not to pay heed to hearsay and instead believe in experts and scientists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Covishield and the indigenously developed Covaxin for restricted emergency use in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has already bought 1.1 crore doses of Covishield and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/adar-poonawalla-takes-covishield-jab-wishes-success-on-launch-of-covid-19-vaccine-drive.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/adar-poonawalla-takes-covishield-jab-wishes-success-on-launch-of-covid-19-vaccine-drive.html Sat Jan 16 16:36:17 IST 2021 cbi-suspends-its-2-personnel-for-taking-bribe-recommends-action-against-2-officers <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/cbi-suspends-its-2-personnel-for-taking-bribe-recommends-action-against-2-officers.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2019/8/10/CBI_AP.jpg" /> <p>The CBI has suspended its Inspector Kapil Dhankad and Stenographer Sameer Kumar Singh for allegedly receiving bribes to give away probe-related information and compromise on the investigation into two cases of bank fraud totalling Rs 4,300 crore, days after it booked them and two officers.<br> </p> <p>Officials said on Saturday that the agency has recommended to the Department of Personnel and Training to initiate administrative action against the two officers -- deputy superintendents of police R K Rishi and R K Sangwan.<br> </p> <p>The CBI has accused Dhankad, a State Bank of India manager who joined the agency on deputation as Inspector, for allegedly receiving bribes of at least Rs 25 lakh to compromise on investigation into a number of cases and passing on crucial information to the accused DSPs who were understood to have been working on behalf of Shree Shyam Pulp and Board Mills and Frost International.<br> </p> <p>Shree Shyam Pulp and Board Mills is accused in a Rs 700-crore bank fraud case, while Frost International is accused in a Rs 3,600-crore bank fraud case.<br> </p> <p>"The CBI has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, be it other departments or within the organisation. The case is a result of strict vigil and action on any input which indicates involvement of our officials in corrupt practice," an official said.<br> </p> <p>The agency has alleged that Dhankad posted in the banking, securities and fraud unit of the agency, in collusion with the DSPs, was receiving kickbacks to pass on crucial information and compromise on investigation, they said.<br> </p> <p>According to the charges levelled in the eight-page FIR, made public on Friday after the completion of a search operation by the agency, Inspector Dhankad received at least Rs 10 lakh each from Sangwan and Rishi, who were soliciting favours for Shree Shyam Pulp and Board Mills and Frost International.<br> </p> <p>The embarrassing tale of corruption in the FIR says Sangwan, Rishi, Dhankad and Stenographer Singh, in conspiracy with advocates Arvind Kumar Gupta and Manohar Malik and certain other accused, "have been compromising the integrity of investigation of certain cases on extraneous pecuniary considerations".<br> </p> <p>The CBI after registering the case had carried out searches on Thursday in its headquarters where some accused officers are posted, its academy where Rishi is posted and 12 other locations across the country, officials said.<br> </p> <p>DSP Rishi received Rs 30 lakh in two equal instalments through two advocates having their office in Defence Colony here—Manohar Malik and Arvind Gupta—to extend favours to a Chandigarh-based company against which a corruption case was being investigated by the CBI, the FIR alleged.<br> </p> <p>It alleged Dhankad twice received Rs 2.5 lakh from Gupta for having brokered the deal through Rishi.<br> </p> <p>"It has also been reliably learnt that the details of the investigation of many other cases including confidential notes and directions have been communicated by Sameer Kumar Singh to Sangwan and Rishi on pecuniary considerations to protect interests of the accused," the FIR alleged.&nbsp;<br> </p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/cbi-suspends-its-2-personnel-for-taking-bribe-recommends-action-against-2-officers.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/cbi-suspends-its-2-personnel-for-taking-bribe-recommends-action-against-2-officers.html Sat Jan 16 22:06:18 IST 2021 gadkari-announces-13-highway-projects-north-karnataka <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/gadkari-announces-13-highway-projects-north-karnataka.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/business/images/2019/9/26/58-Nitin-Gadkari.jpg" /> <p>Thirteen highway projects covering 847km and costing Rs 21,000 crores have been approved in the north Karnataka region, announced&nbsp;Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari on Friday, after laying the foundation stone for the construction of elevated corridor at Rani Chennamma Circle, Hubballi and construction of bridge over Bedthi channel at Dastikoppa village, Kalghataki Taluk, in a virtual event.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Centre is committed to develop the highways in Karnataka. We will take up 13 projects including the construction of four-lane road in Hubballi–Dharwad bypass and four-lane ring road in Belagavi," said Gadkari adding that the ongoing projects in the region including Hubballi-Hospete highway will be completed shortly.</p> <p>Chief Minister B.S.Yediyurappa expressed happiness over the Centre initiating new projects under the National Highway Projects in the state, twice in the&nbsp; last one month saying, "I welcome the Centre taking up highway projects worth Rs 1.16 lakh crore in the state. A progressive state, Karnataka hopes to eradicate pverty by giving impetus to agriculture and industries and would give top priority to green fuels in the transport sector as it benefits the farmers."&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi said the elevated corridor at Hubballi and bridge over Bedthi channel would ease the traffic in Ankola–Gooty highway.</p> <p>Deputy chief minister Govind Karjol informed that during Gadkari’s tenure as minister, at least 222 projects at a cost of Rs. 77,297 crores have been approved and action has been taken to upgrade 8,819 km of road.</p> <p>Union Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda observed that the road development in Karnataka was 0.65 km/day under the UPA (2010-2014) and it is 1.48 km per day now.&nbsp; Similarly, the projects awarded by UPA accounted for 2,377 km against NDA's 4,005 km. The percentage growth of road construction in the state was 239 per cent and project awarded was 68 per cent.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/gadkari-announces-13-highway-projects-north-karnataka.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/gadkari-announces-13-highway-projects-north-karnataka.html Sat Jan 16 10:49:57 IST 2021 minister-urges-doctors-to-prescribe-generic-drugs <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/minister-urges-doctors-to-prescribe-generic-drugs.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/5/25/sadananda-gowda-pti.jpg" /> <p>&nbsp;Doctors should prescribe generic drugs for patients who cannot afford expensive medicines, Union Minister for Fertilizers and Chemicals D.V. Sadananda Gowda has said. The government has set up 7,000 Jan Aushadhi stores across the country to make health care affordable. The price difference between generic and branded medicines is 10-90 per cent, Gowda said in Bengaluru on Friday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There is a general perception that health care is unaffordable. People wrongly believe that expensive drugs are always of better quality than the cheaper generic ones. But I assure you the generic drugs are cheaper but also of high quality, safety and efficacy," said the minister after inaugurating the renal transplant centre, osteoporosis clinic and paediatric dermatology wing in Bangalore Baptist Hospital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Recalling his interaction with senior citizens, Gowda said the monthly medical bills of many elderly patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension had been cut down from Rs 1,500-2,000 to Rs 350 after they started using generic drugs.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/minister-urges-doctors-to-prescribe-generic-drugs.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/minister-urges-doctors-to-prescribe-generic-drugs.html Sat Jan 16 10:39:50 IST 2021 is-caa-causing-rift-between-india-and-bangladesh <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/is-caa-causing-rift-between-india-and-bangladesh.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/2/23/jaffrabad-caa-protest-afp.jpg" /> <p>The BJP government's implementation of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, is learnt to be suffering a delay, with South Block trying to pacify Dhaka on its concerns over the mention of ''Bangladeshis'' in the law which provides citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered the country on or before December 31, 2014. The law passed by Parliament in December 2019 is aimed at allowing persecuted non-Muslim minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians in these three countries to enter the country and get Indian citizenship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Dhaka is concerned about its mention since it may indicate that it is one of the countries with the highest number of persecuted non-Muslim minorities. According to sources, the matter is stuck between the ministries of external affairs and home affairs. ''It is only after the diplomatic issues are ironed out that the CAA Rules can be notified,'' said a senior government official.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government's move to bring out the National Register of Citizens in Assam in 2019 had already met with resistance from Bangladesh as it indicated that there was illegal migration taking place from that country. The neighboring country, however, has enjoyed good diplomatic relations with India and efforts are going on to not let the CAA issue impact the ties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It may be recalled that the Union home ministry has been busy drafting the CAA Rules after the passage of the law. ''It does not take so much time to draft the rules and notify them,” an official said. For now, it seems that North Block is waiting for the green signal from across the road on Raisina Hill to pave the way for the implementation of the law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With focus on elections in Assam and West Bengal, it remains to be seen how soon the government is able to iron out the sticking points across the borders. Both states share long borders with Bangladesh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It may be recalled that last month senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had announced in West Bengal that the granting of the citizenship to the non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan under the CAA may begin from January or February 2021.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/is-caa-causing-rift-between-india-and-bangladesh.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/is-caa-causing-rift-between-india-and-bangladesh.html Sat Jan 16 18:08:16 IST 2021 feeling-proud-not-nervous-first-person-to-get-covid-19-vaccine-in-india <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/feeling-proud-not-nervous-first-person-to-get-covid-19-vaccine-in-india.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/first-vaccine-recipient-india-manish-kumar-reuters.jpg" /> <p>Manish Kumar, a sanitation worker, became the first person to be administered a COVID-19 vaccine in AIIMS in New Delhi during the launch of the nationwide vaccination programme in the presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday.<br> </p> <p>As people around applauded, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria also received a shot of the vaccine followed by NITI Aayog member V.K. Paul.<br> </p> <p>Kumar, who works at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences along with his mother Laxmi Rani, said he was not at all nervous and was "proud of getting the vaccine".</p> <p>Vardhan said the two vaccines—the indigenous Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable—were a 'sanjivani', life infusing, in the fight against the pandemic.</p> <p>"These vaccines are our 'sanjivini' in our fight against the pandemic. We have won the battle against polio and now we have reached the decisive phase of winning the war against COVID. I want to congratulate all frontline workers on this day," he told reporters shortly after the vaccine shots were administered.</p> <p>Meanwhile, a security guard was the first to get the Covaxin shot at RML hospital and a security guard was also the first to get the jab at Safdarjung hospital.</p> <p>Several doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers also got the shots in these hospitals.<br> </p> <p>Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination drive against the pandemic.<br> </p> <p>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who inspected the COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital here and interacted with some health workers who received the shot, also urged people not to believe in rumours and listen to experts who say COVID-19 vaccines are safe.</p> <h2><b>There is no difference between vaccines: Health Minister</b></h2> <p>Noting that it is a historic day, Vardhan said, "We have been blessed by the prime minister all through our fight against coronavirus. It's the largest coronavirus vaccination programme in world," he said.</p> <p>Asserting the safety of the coronavirus vaccines—Covishield and Covaxin—Harsh Vardhan said, "The experts gave their approval after seeing the results. There is no difference between vaccines. Both are equally safe and effective."</p> <p>He said, "At times when rumours are being spread, I hope the media will spread the correct information and this move will help in the fight against the disease," the health minister said.<br> </p> <p>Vardhan also said the Phase 3 trials of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is ongoing.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>"It has been subjected to ample and adequate scrutiny," he said.</p> <p>"There is no need for any fear. We have to be absolutely fearless, and sure of the safety of this vaccine and also have to be patient...Everyone has to wait for his/her turn," the health minister said.</p> <p>According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by those younger than 50 years with associated comorbidities.</p> <p>The cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.</p> <p>Vardhan said 3,006 session sites across all states and UTs held the exercise simultaneously on Saturday with around 100 beneficiaries vaccinated at each of the sites.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>With a population of 138 crore and a history of Universal Immunization Program, which involves targeted vaccination against twelve vaccine-preventable diseases, India stands at the cusp of recording history and shows the way to peers across the globe.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>"After Smallpox and Polio, it is the turn of COVID. All the remote, hard to reach areas, urban slums, tribal belts are all covered in today's exercise, he said<br> </p> <p>Vardhan elaborated on the preparations that were taken up for this huge exercise. "More than a lakh vaccinators were trained, multiple mock exercises were conducted, a pan-India national exercise was also conducted to hammer out the slightest glitches.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>"Technology was used to bolster performance as the eVIN platform was repurposed to CoWIN (Winning over COVID), SMS sent to all beneficiaries since the last two days (for Saturday's session) which would be repeated on schedule for their second dose and across all beneficiaries in all sessions," he said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Speaking to reporters after taking the jab, Paul urged people to "embrace the vaccine".<br> </p> <p>"I believe that this is a great vaccine. I have taken Covaxin. Embrace the vaccine. Both the vaccines that the government has authorised are safe and immunogenic. I request you to please embrace it as in this way you will help your family and your community," he said.</p> <p>On concerns over the efficacy of the vaccine, he said there is no evidence to suggest it is unsafe and these are false rumours and narratives.</p> <p>Vardhan also visited Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to inspect the Covishield vaccination programme at the facility after AIIMS.</p> <p>"India has launched today the biggest vaccination programme. We should be proud of India's vaccination programme and I assure the people of the efficacy of the vaccination.</p> <p>"I have visited Sir Ganga Ram Hospital many times during the peak of COVID-19 crisis. That is the reason I am visiting this hospital today as Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has been in the forefront during the fight with COVID-19. People should not play politics in this important vaccination programme," a hospital statement quoting him said.&nbsp;<br> </p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/feeling-proud-not-nervous-first-person-to-get-covid-19-vaccine-in-india.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/feeling-proud-not-nervous-first-person-to-get-covid-19-vaccine-in-india.html Sat Jan 16 20:22:27 IST 2021 maharashtra-schools-for-classes-5-to-8-to-reopen-from-jan-27 <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/maharashtra-schools-for-classes-5-to-8-to-reopen-from-jan-27.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/gallery/slideshow/2020/september/Schools-reopen-in-delhi/school-admission-6.jpg" /> <p>After remaining closed for over 10 months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools will reopen for Classes 5 to 8 in Maharashtra from January 27, state Education</p> <p>Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Friday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, said that schools and colleges in Mumbai will stay shut "till further orders".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Schools and junior colleges for Classes 9 to 12 had reopened in parts of the state earlier this month based on the COVID-19 situation in respective areas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I have informed Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that schools can be reopened for Classes 5 to 8 from January 27," the minister said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Local authorities including district collectors, municipal commissioners and district civil surgeons will have to assess the ground situation before taking a call on</p> <p>reopening schools and colleges, Gaikwad added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Earlier, schools for Classes 9 and 10 commenced after all teachers underwent RT-PCR tests and premises were sanitized. Similar measures will be taken before reopening schools for Classes 5 to 8," she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The civic body in Mumbai issued a fresh circular stating that all schools and colleges of various mediums will remain shut till further orders in view of a second wave of the virus in other countries and in some states.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, the BMC had decided to keep all schools and colleges in the city shut till January 15.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this week, the civic body permitted all the state, national and international boards to conduct their scheduled examinations physically as per the timetable.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/maharashtra-schools-for-classes-5-to-8-to-reopen-from-jan-27.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/maharashtra-schools-for-classes-5-to-8-to-reopen-from-jan-27.html Fri Jan 15 22:26:31 IST 2021 we-have-got-battery-torch-symbol-says-kamal-haasan <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/we-have-got-battery-torch-symbol-says-kamal-haasan.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/12/1/Kamal-Haasan-latest.jpg" /> <p>Makkal Needhi Maiam has been allotted ''battery torch'' symbol by the Election Commission for the coming assembly elections, party chief Kamal Haasan said in Chennai on Friday.&nbsp;</p> <p>"We have been allotted torchlight symbol for all the 234 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu," he said in a video message on his twitter handle.&nbsp;</p> <p>Assembly elections are likely to be held during April-May in the state.&nbsp;</p> <p>The MNM contested on the symbol of torchlight in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and garnered a vote share of 3.77 per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p>The party had last month said it was ''denied'' the torch symbol for 2021 assembly polls by the EC though the party got it for the neighbouring Puducherry.&nbsp;</p> <p>The MNM had moved the Madras High Court last month, seeking a direction to the Election Commission to allot the symbol to it. It had also wanted the court to restrain the MGR Makkal Katchi from using the battery torch symbol allotted then to the little known party.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/we-have-got-battery-torch-symbol-says-kamal-haasan.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/we-have-got-battery-torch-symbol-says-kamal-haasan.html Fri Jan 15 21:53:48 IST 2021 biden-likely-to-continue-trump-tough-line-on-india-s-400-deal-report <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/biden-likely-to-continue-trump-tough-line-on-india-s-400-deal-report.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2018/9/27/s-400-missiles.jpg" /> <p>&nbsp;The Indian Air Force has repeatedly referred to the S-400 air defence missile system as being a 'game changer'. The S-400 is made in Russia and can shoot down aircraft, cruise missiles and even ballistic missiles. The S-400 is scheduled to be delivered to India this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the S-400 could become a spoiler in the strong relationship between India and the US. Ever since India signed a deal in 2018 worth over $5 billion to buy the S-400, the US has warned it could impose sanctions. While the Donald Trump administration has consistently pushed India to cancel the deal, <i>Reuters</i> reported on Friday the incoming Joe Biden dispensation is likely to adopt the same policy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Reuters</i> reported on Friday the US has "told India it is unlikely to get a waiver on its planned acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems, raising the risk of sanctions".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Reuters</i> reported the tough position adopted by the Trump administration on the S-400 deal is “unlikely to change under the Biden administration that takes over next week and that has promised an even tougher US approach towards Russia".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>US official told <i>Reuters</i> there was "still time for Delhi to reconsider, and that the punitive measures would only kick in if the deal with the Russians was 'consummated (missiles being delivered)'".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Washington has told New Delhi that if India acquires the S-400, it would affect how its systems interact with US military equipment that India now has and would jeopardise future arms transfers such as high-end fighter planes and armed drones," <i>Reuters</i> reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BJP MP Subramanian Swamy responded to the <i>Reuters </i>article and warned the "moment of truth" had arrived for India. Swamy tweeted on Saturday, "The moment of truth has arrived for us Indians. We are being forced to choose and not flirt around on archaic ideas of being friends with everybody."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Swamy has been a <a title="Why Subramanian Swamy doesn’t want India to use S-400 missiles against China" href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/06/13/why-subramanian-swamy-doesnt-want-india-to-use-s-400-missiles-against-china.html">critic of the deal to buy the S-400</a>, warning it contained Chinese components. China was the first export user of the S-400, followed by Turkey. Turkey's move to buy the S-400 triggered a bitter spat with NATO and the Donald Trump administration. The US removed Turkey from being a member of the F-35 stealth fighter consortium.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/biden-likely-to-continue-trump-tough-line-on-india-s-400-deal-report.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/biden-likely-to-continue-trump-tough-line-on-india-s-400-deal-report.html Sat Jan 16 12:11:11 IST 2021 tmc-mp-nusrat-jahan-calls-bjp-more-dangerous-than-coronavirus-faces-backlash <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/tmc-mp-nusrat-jahan-calls-bjp-more-dangerous-than-coronavirus-faces-backlash.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/entertainment/2019/nusrat-jahan-pti30619.jpg" /> <p>Actor-turned-Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan sparked a controversy when she compared the BJP to novel coronavirus, calling the party more dangerous than the virus.&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing a gathering at the Muslim dominated Deganga in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, the TMC MP said, "Keep your ears and eyes open because there are some people around you who are more dangerous than corona. Do you know what is more dangerous than corona? It is the BJP," reported NDTV.&nbsp;</p> <p>She claimed that the saffron party does not understand the culture and values of West Bengal. "They have a lot of money. They are spreading it everywhere. And then they turn people against each other on the basis of religion and trigger riots," she was quoted as saying.</p> <p>Hitting out at the MP over the derogatory remarks, the BJP's&nbsp; social media head Amit Malviya questioned the silence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the comments.</p> <p>"In WB, worst kind of vaccine politics is unfolding. First, Siddiqulla Chowdhury, a sitting minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet, holds up trucks carrying vaccines. Now a TMC MP, campaigning in Muslim majority Deganga, likens BJP to Corona. But Pishi is silent. Why? Appeasement?," he tweeted.</p> <p>Malviya was referring to the recent incident of special vehicle carrying COVID-19 vaccines getting held up in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district due to a blockade of the national highway led by state minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury, protesting against the new farm laws. The van, which was being piloted by the West Bengal Police, was on its way to Bankura and Purulia to deliver the vaccines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>—With PTI inputs</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/tmc-mp-nusrat-jahan-calls-bjp-more-dangerous-than-coronavirus-faces-backlash.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/tmc-mp-nusrat-jahan-calls-bjp-more-dangerous-than-coronavirus-faces-backlash.html Fri Jan 15 19:48:21 IST 2021 made-in-india-vaccine-represents-determination-of-self-reliant-india-shah <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/made-in-india-vaccine-represents-determination-of-self-reliant-india-shah.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/vaccine-collage.jpeg" /> <p>&nbsp;Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday described the launch of the anti-coronavirus immunisation drive as a "red letter day" for the people of India and lauded scientists for developing the vaccines in record time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah, lauded the rollout of the inoculation programme. The home minister said the made-in-India vaccines represent the determination of a "self-reliant India”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi <a title="PM Modi launches world's largest COVID-19 vaccination drive" href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/pm-modi-launches-worlds-largest-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html">launched India's COVID-19 immunisation drive</a> and asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out will ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a Facebook post, Naidu said India has scripted history by touching a new milestone in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic with Prime Minister Modi launching the world's largest vaccination drive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is a proud moment for every Indian and I would like to convey my deepest appreciation to all the scientists for the remarkable speed with which the vaccines were developed in a record time," he wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is pertinent to point out that generally it takes several years before a vaccine reaches people at large after successful completion of all trials at all stages,” the vice president said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter to say “this 'New India' led by PM Modi is a nation which transforms crisis into opportunities and challenges into achievements”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This 'Made in India' vaccine represents the determination of this self-reliant India. On this historic day, I bow to all our corona warriors," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the entire country is proud of the stellar leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has been instrumental in India's famed battle against COVID-19.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Congratulations India on the launch of world's largest vaccine drive," he wrote on the microblogging site.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the launch of the vaccination drive as "historic and a memorable day”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"India becomes 'aatmanirbhar' (self-reliant) in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccines made in India being rolled out. Greatly appreciate the inspiring leadership of PM Narendra Modi which made it happen. Vande Mataram," he wrote on Twitter.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/made-in-india-vaccine-represents-determination-of-self-reliant-india-shah.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/made-in-india-vaccine-represents-determination-of-self-reliant-india-shah.html Sat Jan 16 14:25:10 IST 2021 pm-modi-launches-worlds-largest-covid-19-vaccination-drive <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/pm-modi-launches-worlds-largest-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/Untitled%20design%20(47).jpg" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination drive via video conference on Saturday. &quot;Everyone was asking as to when the vaccine will be available. It is available now. I congratulate all the countrymen on this occasion,&quot; Modi said. There was tireless effort by those behind the vaccine, the prime minister said as he launched the world's largest vaccination drive to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control starting with two locally-manufactured shots—namely Oxford University/AstraZeneca-SII's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Such a vaccination drive at such a massive scale was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than 3 crore population and India is administering vaccination to 3 crore people in first phase only. In second phase, we've to take this number to 30 crores,&quot; the PM said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister requested those receiving the vaccination to not make the mistake of taking off the mask and not maintaining social distancing after getting the first dose because immunity develops after the second dose. &quot;I want to remind people of the country that two doses of the corona vaccine are important. Experts have said that there should be a gap of one month between both vaccinations,&quot; Modi added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over 3 lakh healthcare workers to be inoculated on the first day of the much-anticipated drive. Modi will not immediately take the vaccine himself as India is initially prioritising nurses, doctors and others on the front line.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Normally, it takes many years to make a vaccine but in such a short span of time, not one, but two 'Made in India' vaccines are ready. Meanwhile, the work on other vaccines is progressing at a fast pace, Modi added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the first day, around 100 people will be voluntarily vaccinated in each of the 3,006 centres in the country, the government said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the health ministry said in a statement.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/pm-modi-launches-worlds-largest-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/pm-modi-launches-worlds-largest-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html Sat Jan 16 11:08:46 IST 2021 beginning-of-end-of-covid-19-harsh-vardhan-ahead-of-vaccination-drive <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/beginning-of-end-of-covid-19-harsh-vardhan-ahead-of-vaccination-drive.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/5/10/harsh-vardhan-health-minister-pti.jpg" /> <p>A day before a massive countrywide vaccination drive against coronavirus is set to commence, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the step is "probably the beginning of the end" of COVID-19.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at the 146th India Meteorological Department (IMD) foundation day, he, however, cautioned that even if the vaccination drive is on, there should not be lowering of guard and people must follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Tomorrow is an important day...it is the last phase of the battle against coronavirus. I say, this is probably the beginning of the end of COVID now which is going to start tomorrow," Vardhan, who is also Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister, said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 via video conferencing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This will be the world's largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country and all preparations are in place to initiate the programme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and Union territories will be virtually connected during the launch and around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site on the first day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The vaccination programme is based on principles of priority groups to be vaccinated first. Healthcare workers, both in the government and private sectors, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/beginning-of-end-of-covid-19-harsh-vardhan-ahead-of-vaccination-drive.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/beginning-of-end-of-covid-19-harsh-vardhan-ahead-of-vaccination-drive.html Fri Jan 15 19:18:31 IST 2021 nia-working-day-and-night-to-scuttle-jan-26-kisan-parade-farmers-leader <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-working-day-and-night-to-scuttle-jan-26-kisan-parade-farmers-leader.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/sirsa.jpeg" /> <p>&nbsp;Baldev Singh Sirsa, a leader of an organisation involved in the ongoing farmers' protests, has claimed he and other participants have been summoned by the National Investigation Agency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sirsa is head of the Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society (LBIWS), which has been among farmers' unions participating in talks with the Centre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The Indian Express</i> reported Sirsa has been summoned to appear at the NIA headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday. He has been summoned in connection with a case against Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is chief of the Khalistani outfit Sikhs for Justice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In July 2019, the Centre <a title="Centre bans Sikh For Justice for anti-national activities" href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2019/07/10/centre-bans-sikh-for-justice-for-anti-national-activities.html">had banned Sikhs for Justice,</a> which predominantly operates in North America, for alleged anti-national activities. Sikhs for Justice had pushed for the 'Sikh Referendum 2020' as part of its separatist agenda.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government had then said Sikhs for Justice "openly espouses the cause of Khalistan and in that process challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>More recently, Sikhs for Justice had announced prize money for people hoisting the Khalistani flag on Republic Day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The Indian Express</i> reported the case against Pannu relates to an alleged conspiracy to create an “atmosphere of fear and lawlessness and to cause disaffection in people and to incite them towards rising in rebellion against the government of India”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reacting to the summons, Sirsa told <i>The Indian Express</i>, "First, the Government tried to derail the farmer agitation through the Supreme Court, now it is using the NIA."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Many people who are associated with the farmers’ agitation have been sent these summons. It is to terrorise those working for farmers. But we are not going to be affected by this. We will not bend. The NIA is working day and night to scuttle the kisan parade on January 26. The government is bent on defaming the protest," Sirsa told <i>The Indian Express</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The publication added that Sirsa and others got summons from the NIA to answers questions related to the case against Pannu under various sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NIA FIR in the case against Pannu alleges SFJ is mobilising "huge funds" overseas. <i>The Indian Express</i> reported the NIA as saying "funds so collected are being sent through Non-Governmental Organisations to pro-Khalistani elements based in India, to undertake terrorist acts and to strike terror in the people of India”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this week, Advocate General K.K. Venugopal had told the Supreme Court during a hearing on the farmers' protests that there was "Khalistani infiltration" in the farmers' protests.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-working-day-and-night-to-scuttle-jan-26-kisan-parade-farmers-leader.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/nia-working-day-and-night-to-scuttle-jan-26-kisan-parade-farmers-leader.html Sat Jan 16 10:12:20 IST 2021 indias-covid-19-vaccination-drive-starts-today-over-3-lakh-to-get-shots <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/indias-covid-19-vaccination-drive-starts-today-over-3-lakh-to-get-shots.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/16/thane-covid.jpg" /> <p>&nbsp;India is all set to roll out the world's biggest vaccination programme on Saturday, with over 3 lakh healthcare workers to be inoculated on the first day of the much-anticipated drive, which the government said is "probably the beginning of the end" of COVID-19.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and Union territories will be virtually connected during the launch at 10.30am by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College Principal Sudhir Bhandari will be the first person in Rajasthan to be given the shot, while in Madhya Pradesh, a hospital security guard and an attender will be among the first to get the jab.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi said the country on Saturday would enter a "decisive phase" in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Tomorrow, January 16, India begins the pan-India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive. The launch will take place at 10:30 AM tomorrow morning," he tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His office had said this will be the world's largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country and all preparations are in place to initiate it on the principles of 'Jan Bhagidari'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the eve of the roll-out, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the preparations and visited the dedicated COVID-19 control room set up at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the health ministry said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Vardhan said India's exercise to vaccinate its population against COVID-19 shall be the largest immunisation drive of the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He reiterated that both the indigenously manufactured vaccines—Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech—have proven safety and immunogenicity records and are the most important tools to contain the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at a separate programme, Vardhan said, "Tomorrow is an important day... it is the last phase of the battle against coronavirus. I say, this is probably the beginning of the end of COVID now which is going to start tomorrow."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He, however, cautioned that even if the vaccination drive is on, there should not be lowering of guard and people must follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An online digital platform Co-WIN, developed by the health ministry, will be used to drive the vaccination programme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adequate doses of both Covishield and Covaxin have already been delivered to all states and Union territories.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A dedicated 24x7 call centre—1075—has also been set up for addressing queries related to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine roll-out and the Co-WIN software.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated 1 crore healthcare workers, and around 2 crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the Central government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All states and Union territories are geared up for the inoculation programme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Delhi, the drive will kick off from the state-run LNJP Hospital with a simple ceremony in the presence of Chief Minister Kejriwal and Health Minister Satyendar Jain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A trio of a doctor, nurse and a sanitation worker will receive COVID-19 vaccine shots in the presence of Kejriwal at LNJP Hospital, sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 81 sites named in the national capital for administering the jabs include six Central government facilities like AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, RML Hospital and Kalawati Saran Children Hospital and two ESI hospitals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Medical superintendents of government hospitals at Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar will be among the first to get the shots in Gujarat, where over 16,000 health workers will be vaccinated during the day, officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Assam, an estimated 6,500 people of the 1.9 lakh health workers will be vaccinated on the first day. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will inaugurate the drive at Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Former vice chancellor of Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences Dr Umesh Chandra Sarma will be the first to receive the initial dose in the state. The other doctors to be vaccinated are Padma Shri awardee and surgeon Dr Ilias Ali, Sahitya Akademi awardee and former principal of Barpeta Medical College and Hospital Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah, GMCH principal Dr Achyut Baishya and its superintendent Dr Abhijeet Sharma.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/indias-covid-19-vaccination-drive-starts-today-over-3-lakh-to-get-shots.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/16/indias-covid-19-vaccination-drive-starts-today-over-3-lakh-to-get-shots.html Sat Jan 16 07:39:44 IST 2021 gujarat-govt-studying-anti-conversion-laws-of-up-mp-dycm-nitin-patel <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/gujarat-govt-studying-anti-conversion-laws-of-up-mp-dycm-nitin-patel.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2018/9/25/love-jihad-reuters14.jpg" /> <p>The Gujarat government is examining laws enacted by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to curb "forced religious conversions by marriage", said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Friday.</p> <p>Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, both ruled by the BJP, have brought religious freedom laws to stop conversion through marriage or by any other fraudulent means.</p> <p>These laws against inter-faith marriages as an alleged ploy for conversion provide for long prison terms and hefty fines for violators.</p> <p>"Some people indulge in trapping or alluring or cheating Hindu girls to marry them. But we have seen that most of the time, such girls regret taking this step as they and their families are never happy in such situations.</p> <p>"This also creates division in the society," Patel said in reply to a question.</p> <p>Patel was speaking to reporters after attending an event organised by the VHP here to start the drive for raising donations for the upcoming Ram temple in Ayodhya.</p> <p>"Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments have formed laws to stop this kind of activities so that there is no tension between different communities," he said.</p> <p>"The Gujarat government has also received many such representations from different organisations and people," the deputy chief minister said.</p> <p>"We are studying the effectiveness, long-term effects and legal standing of the laws made by UP and MP. The Gujarat government will take a decision at an appropriate time regarding bringing such a law," he said.</p> <p>Patel said the fund collection drive is a historic exercise which will connect every Hindu with the construction of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/gujarat-govt-studying-anti-conversion-laws-of-up-mp-dycm-nitin-patel.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/gujarat-govt-studying-anti-conversion-laws-of-up-mp-dycm-nitin-patel.html Fri Jan 15 18:48:16 IST 2021 fake-harvard-acceptance-letter-nidhi-razdan-falls-victim-to-phishing-attack <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/fake-harvard-acceptance-letter-nidhi-razdan-falls-victim-to-phishing-attack.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/sci-tech/2019/October/Phishing-scam-smartphone-computer-digital-hacker-attack-web-security-fraud-online-scam-steal-data-shut.jpg" /> <p>Ever since lockdown placed billions indoors in 2020, hackers have made hay while the sun shined: <a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/sci-tech/2020/04/24/locked-down-india-sees-multifold-increase-in-cyber-crimes.html">Spear-phishing attacks</a>, which Kaspersky defines as an email or electronic communications scam targeted towards a specific individual, organization or business, were on the rise.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The latest victim is senior journalist Nidhi Razdan, who quit her job of 21 years after receiving an email in June 2020 claiming to offer her a teaching position at Harvard. Seven months since, she took to Twitter to announce that the offer was fake and that she had filed a police complaint.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have been the victim of a very serious phishing attack. I’m putting this statement out to set the record straight about what I’ve been through. I will not be addressing this issue any further on social media,” she tweeted, sharing her narration of events.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In June, she had announced that she would be joining Harvard University as an Associate Professor of Journalism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While she was initially told she could join in September, it was then delayed to January due to the pandemic. After noticing more and more delays and anomalies in the process, she began to get suspicious. Finally, she reached out to Harvard and realised she had been the victim of a serious and sophisticated phishing attack.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The perpetrators of this attack used clever forgeries and misrepresentations to obtain access to my devices and my email/social media accounts,” she wrote.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Spear-phishing attacks can have far-reaching consequences: It was such an attack on a Twitter employee in 2020 that led to hackers gaining access to a slew of celebrity accounts including those of Bill Gates, Joe Biden and Barack Obama, after members of Twitter staff fell victim to the same.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/fake-harvard-acceptance-letter-nidhi-razdan-falls-victim-to-phishing-attack.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/fake-harvard-acceptance-letter-nidhi-razdan-falls-victim-to-phishing-attack.html Fri Jan 15 18:24:24 IST 2021 mp-congress-blocks-roads-over-farm-laws-kamal-nath-takes-out-tractor-rally <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/mp-congress-blocks-roads-over-farm-laws-kamal-nath-takes-out-tractor-rally.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/15/kamal-nath-tractor.jpg" /> <p>The Madhya Pradesh Congress organised road blockages (chakka jam) across the state on Friday in support of farmers protesting against the new farm bills. The road blockages were held in 500 places across the state for duration of two hours, the Congress claimed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, senior leaders including ex-CM and MPCC chief Kamal Nath, ex-minister Ramniwas Rawat and Jitu Patwari took out tractor rallies too in different assembly segments. In Bhopal, ex-minister P.C. Sharma led a blockage at busy Roshanpura Square, leading to customary arrest of Sharma and other Congress members.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking in a farmers’ convention held at Chaurai Assembly segment in Chhindwara, Kamal Nath alleged that implementation of the three new farm laws will turn the farmers into bonded labourers of industrialists and therefore Congress has come to streets to ensure welfare of farmers. He said that the Union government was trying to finish off the farmers and this will lead to further weakening of the economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nath added that the basis of the new farm bills was weak and not only Congress but even allies of the NDA were opposing it, because it is a law to do away with minimum support price (MSP).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Different leaders, including ex-CM Digvijaya Singh, also participated in a socia media campaign of the Congress and sent out messages in support of the farmers and opposing the farm bills. Former leader of opposition Ajay Singh led a huge convention in Singrauli.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress proposed to hold a farmers’ convention in Chhindwara on January 16 and a mega-convention in Morena on January 20—both to be attended by Kamal Nath. On January 23, the campaign will conclude with gherao of the Raj Bhavan (governor’s house) in Bhopal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kamal Nath attacks government on failure to control mafia</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Kamal Nath took to Twitter to attack the BJP government in state and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on its failure to control different mafia including the liquor mafia effectively. Nath said there was difference in shooting off mouth and running a government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that the death toll in hooch tragedy of Morena had reached 24. If the government would have taken effective steps after 16 deaths in Ujjain, the repeat of incident could have been stopped.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But there is again posturing as regards inquiry, action, but no concrete action to rein in the liquor mafia. Also, the mining mafia has turned fearless and attacked officials in Anuppur. In Mhow, after role of a minister in protecting mining mafia came forth, action was initiated on officials rather and attempts started to save the minister. After distribution of poultry grade rice, now poultry grade wheat was being distributed among poor people of the state, which is very shameful,” the ex-CM tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Shivraj ji, only delivering filmy dialogues won’t help. Concrete ground level action has to be taken to destroy the mafias in the state like our government did. That is why I say that there is big difference between shooting off mouth and running a government.”</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/mp-congress-blocks-roads-over-farm-laws-kamal-nath-takes-out-tractor-rally.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/mp-congress-blocks-roads-over-farm-laws-kamal-nath-takes-out-tractor-rally.html Fri Jan 15 20:47:32 IST 2021 ninth-round-of-govt-farmers-talks-inconclusive-both-sides-still-hold-out-hope <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/ninth-round-of-govt-farmers-talks-inconclusive-both-sides-still-hold-out-hope.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/15/farmers-meeting-govt-protests-pti.jpg" /> <p>Despite the ongoing standoff between the farmers and the government over the three agriculture laws, both sides have not yet given up hope. After the ninth inconclusive meeting on Friday, both sides have agreed to meet again on January 19.</p> <p>The government said it is hopeful of decisive talks in the next round as they have asked the farmers’ unions to prepare concrete proposals of which amendments can be undertaken.&nbsp;</p> <p>After Friday’s meeting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere, but they could not reach a decisive stage. “We suggested that they (farmers) form an informal group of people who can understand the laws better and prepare some concrete proposals on the clauses which are problematic for them. The government can consider those proposals with an open mind,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Tomar welcomed the setting up of a panel by the Supreme Court and said the government will present its side when it is called to do so, but it will also continue to hold talks with the farmers.</p> <p>“Today's meeting was also inconclusive as the farmers kept demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws and the government representatives kept proposing amendments to these laws,” Dr Darshan Pal, a union leader said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“We oppose the statement by the group of ministers that the Supreme Court should take the decision on repealing these laws. The Lok Sabha is the house of leaders elected by the people of India. These laws were made by the Parliament and should be repealed by it. This is our demand.”</p> <p>“We have already rejected the proposal of setting up of a committee by the court. We welcome member Bhupinder Mann's decision to leave the committee. We appeal to other members to hear their conscience and also leave the panel,” the joint statement from the farmers’ union said.</p> <p>Both the sides are trying if the matter can be resolved before January 26, so that the farmers don’t have to move inside the capital from the borders in their tractors.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Samyukt Kisan Morcha said many misconceptions are being spread regarding the January 26 Kisan Parade. “We are making it clear that we have no motive to harm the Republic Day parade. The detailed plan for this parade will be revealed after the Supreme Court’s hearing on 18 January,” it said.&nbsp; The Morcha also condemned the inflammatory statements by an organization, Sikhs for Justice, which has already been banned by the government.</p> <p>The farmer leaders said a big rally will be held in Mumbai against the laws while more farmers are coming to Delhi through all the borders. A Kisan Delhi Chalo Yatra started on Friday from Odisha and will reach Delhi on January 21. Another yatra has started from Pune and will reach Delhi on January 26. More than 500 farmers from Kerala have reached Shahjaanpur border. The statement said farmers in Tamil Nadu burnt copies of new agri laws in response to the government’s arguments that farmers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have supported the laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/ninth-round-of-govt-farmers-talks-inconclusive-both-sides-still-hold-out-hope.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/ninth-round-of-govt-farmers-talks-inconclusive-both-sides-still-hold-out-hope.html Fri Jan 15 21:01:28 IST 2021 in-meeting-with-jaishankar-nepal-fm-urges-mutual-respect-in-bilateral <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/in-meeting-with-jaishankar-nepal-fm-urges-mutual-respect-in-bilateral.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/15/jaishankar-pradeep-gyawalikh-india-nepal-twitter.jpg" /> <p>A thaw may have begun in Nepal and India ties, but trust remains an issue. Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali—in India for a three-day visit—made it clear that while the friendship may be on a robust foundation, healthy relationships &quot;require continuous nurturing, creative thinking, promptness and a readiness to respond to each other to the changing dynamics.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At an in-person speech at the Indian Council for World Affairs, Gyawali—the first major foreign dignitary in recent months—minced no words as he sent a message to New Delhi that Nepal expects “mutual respect’’ and “equality”.</p> <p>“Nepal was among the few countries that remained independent throughout its history,’’ he said. “In this very fact…is rooted in an abounding national pride of the 30 million Nepali people. We, therefore, hold dearer than anything else, the principles of sovereign equality, mutual respect and non-interference. We peruse an independent foreign policy and our conduct of external relations is based on a balanced outlook.’’</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The past year has seen the relationship between both the countries plummet to a new low over the border issue. While India has tried to mend the relationship with a series of high-level visits in recent months—RAW chief Samanta Kumar Goyal, Army chief M.M. Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla—Gyawali’s speech made it obvious that Nepal has been smarting over New Delhi dragging its feet over contentious issues.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We desire to see a 21st-century relationship that is forward-looking and firmly founded on equality, mutual respect and based on understanding of each other’s concerns and sensitivities,’’ he said. “We should sincerely attend to issues that we have inherited from the past, address them appropriately and creatively work out the agenda for the future.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The border issue—which came up at the meeting in South Block, despite Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava saying yesterday that the meeting and border issue were separate subjects—might not be as heated as last year, but Nepal is keen to settle it.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He noted that it was India's refusal to sort the contentious border issue points at two spots on the 1,800 km border—at Kalapani and Susta—at the foreign secretary-level meet despite the two countries agreeing on this mechanism in 2014, that created the trust deficit, especially when India went ahead and published its new map. Of course, India has always maintained that the new map is just delineating internal borders, not international ones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gyawali also spoke about how the two countries have not yet received the report of the Eminent Person's Group which was appointed to look at how the bilateral can be re-energised. The report suggests ways for the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the bedrock of the bilateral, to be re-energised.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The EPG is still awaiting a date from the Prime minister's office to present Narendra Modi and K.P. Sharma Oli with the report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In sharp contrast to the Indian side, which has been careful to make any utterances in connection with Nepal, Gyawali was frank and forthright. &quot;Our economy cannot sustain the alarming trade balance,’’ he said. “We have proposed some genuine measures.”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was clear in asserting what Nepal wants from the relationship—resolution of historical baggage, investment, access to more Indian ports, and an environment in which Nepal can grow economically. &quot;Economic development should be more important in contemporary conversations,&quot; he said, making it clear in which direction they want to take the bilateral, which is multi-faceted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And of course, be made it more than evident that both should play equal music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He asserted Nepal's national pride and growing self-reliance when he spoke about how they had scientifically recalibrated the <a href="https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/12/09/mount-everests-new-height-is-a-himalayan-snub-to-india.html">height of Mt Everest last year</a>, an achievement for them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Given the importance of Nepal for India's foreign policy, and for regional stability, the ball is now in this court.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The joint statement after the meeting with external affairs minister S. Jaishankar states that India will undertake two more cultural heritage projects in Nepal, the Pashupatinath Riverfront Development and the Bhandarkhal Garden Restoration in Patan Durbar, with grant assistance.&nbsp;</p> <p>They discussed the possibility of a broad gauge link from Raxaul to Kathmandu. The first cross border rail link between Jaynagar to Kurtha is expected to be operationalised soon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gyawali noted that there were discussions within Nepal on whether the system of Indian army recruiting soldiers from Nepal should be changed. He said such discussions were birthday in a democracy, but the &quot;government of Nepal had so far not have any new decision.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also made it clear that he will not entertain India's anxiety over China. When asked about Beijing and India's concern, Gyawali was curt: &quot;We never compare our friendships.&quot;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/in-meeting-with-jaishankar-nepal-fm-urges-mutual-respect-in-bilateral.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/in-meeting-with-jaishankar-nepal-fm-urges-mutual-respect-in-bilateral.html Fri Jan 15 21:30:46 IST 2021 leaked-whatsapp-chats-of-arnab-goswami-with-former-barc-ceo-shared-online <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/leaked-whatsapp-chats-of-arnab-goswami-with-former-barc-ceo-shared-online.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/5/19/arnab-rep.jpg" /> <p>Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan took to Twitter on Friday to share screenshots of alleged leaked WhatsApp chat between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta, an accused in the TRP scam.</p> <p>Dasgupta is accused of allegedly manipulated the TRP of specific TV news channels to obtain financial gain.</p> <p>"These are a few snapshots of the damning leaked WhatsApp chats between BARC CEO &amp; #ArnabGoswami. They show many conspiracies&amp;unprecedented access to power in this govt; gross abuse of his media&amp;his position as power broker. In any Rule of law country, he would be in jail for long,"&nbsp; Bhushan tweeted.</p> <p>The alleged TRP scam was uncovered in October last year when the BARC filed a complaint claiming certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.</p> <p>A few weeks ago, the Mumbai Police told a local court that Dasgupta manipulated the television rating points (TRP) of Republic TV and its Hindi arm. "Dasgupta misused his official position and manipulated TRP of specific news channels broadcast by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd such as Republic Bharat Hindi and Republic TV English," the police alleged in its remand note.</p> <p>The police remand note alleged that Goswami has given "payment in lakhs" to Dasgupta from time to time.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/leaked-whatsapp-chats-of-arnab-goswami-with-former-barc-ceo-shared-online.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/leaked-whatsapp-chats-of-arnab-goswami-with-former-barc-ceo-shared-online.html Fri Jan 15 18:17:33 IST 2021 as-abhishek-banerjee-seeks-to-pacify-satabdi--two-more-tmc-leade <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/as-abhishek-banerjee-seeks-to-pacify-satabdi--two-more-tmc-leade.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/15/shatabadi-roy-tmc-fb.jpg" /> <p>The Trinamool Congress is fighting hard to keep its house in order and the top leadership of the party is almost on the ground to prevent the exodus, let alone starting campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal.</p> <p>Satabdi Roy, who had given signals of quitting the party last night, got several rounds of calls from the party leadership. TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh rushed to Roy’s house in south Kolkata on Friday, but by then Roy had booked his ticket to fly to Delhi on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> <p>While Roy, a popular screen star and two times MP from Birbhum, was supposed to go to Delhi to attend a parliamentary committee meeting, she had not ruled out a meeting with senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.</p> <p>Ghosh held a meeting with Roy for more than two hours. But sources close to Roy confirmed that she remained non-committal and that Ghosh failed to convince her.</p> <p>Ghosh reported the matter to poll strategist Prashant Kishor who in turn requested senior party leader Abhishek Banerjee to step in. Abhishek held a meeting with Roy at 6pm.</p> <p>After the three-hour long meeting with Abhishek, Roy said she would not go to Delhi on Saturday and that she would stay with the TMC.</p> <p>&quot;I think we need to stay with the TMC for the time being. So I will wait for sometime as the party has assured me that all my issues would be resolved,&quot; said Roy.</p> <p>It remains to be seen whether the party can pacify her as it had earlier failed to prevent Suvendu Adhikari from leaving the party despite three rounds of discussions with Kishore and Abhishek.</p> <p>Meanwhile, two other TMC leaders on Friday raised banner of revolt against the party. Former Indian football captain and MP from Howrah, Prasun Banerjee termed the party affairs completely ridiculous. While speaking to media persons, Banerjee said, “Never ever the party was in such a situation. I don’t know what to do. We cannot work in this scenario.”</p> <p>When THE WEEK called up, Banerjee’s mobile was switched off.</p> <p>In Siliguri, cabinet minister Gautam Deb raised his voice against the state government. “It took years to build a road here. There is no progress of government work in North Bengal. We are fed up,” said he.</p> <p>The TMC, however, is yet to send any envoy to North Bengal to pacify Deb, who till the other day was known to be a strong pillar of support for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the region.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/as-abhishek-banerjee-seeks-to-pacify-satabdi--two-more-tmc-leade.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/as-abhishek-banerjee-seeks-to-pacify-satabdi--two-more-tmc-leade.html Fri Jan 15 22:33:42 IST 2021 president-kovind-contributes-rs-5-lakh-for-construction-of-ram-temple-in-ayodhya <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/president-kovind-contributes-rs-5-lakh-for-construction-of-ram-temple-in-ayodhya.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2020/9/27/President-Ram-Nath-Kovind-PTI.jpg" /> <p>President Ram Nath Kovind, on Friday, contributed Rs 500,100 for the purpose of the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.</p> <p>The contribution was made to a delegation consisting of treasure of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerath Kshetra Trust Govind Dev Giriji Maharaj, temple construction committee's chief Nripendra Mishra, international working president of the VHP Alok Kumar and RSS leader Kulbhushan Ahuja, who met President Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan, say media reports.</p> <p>"He is the first citizen of the country so we went to him to initiate this drive. He donated a sum of ₹ 5,00,100," news agency ANI quoted Alok Kumar as saying.</p> <p>The news agency has also reported that Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan handed over a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to a VHP leader as a contribution for the construction of the temple.</p> <p>The Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, set up by the Centre for the construction and management of the Ram temple in Ayodhya had, on Friday, started a month-long mass contact and contribution campaign across the country for the construction of the temple.</p> <p>The trust has reportedly decided against using government fund or funds from abroad for the construction, and instead chose to collect the amount from households across the nation.</p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the bhoomi pujan to begin the construction of the temple on August 5 last year.</p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/president-kovind-contributes-rs-5-lakh-for-construction-of-ram-temple-in-ayodhya.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/president-kovind-contributes-rs-5-lakh-for-construction-of-ram-temple-in-ayodhya.html Fri Jan 15 17:09:04 IST 2021 vardhan-reviews-preparedness-for-january-16-covid-19-vaccination-drive <a href="http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/vardhan-reviews-preparedness-for-january-16-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/news/india/images/2021/1/15/COVID-19-co-win-war-room-harsh-vardhan-twitter.jpg" /> <p>Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday reviewed preparations for the launch of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive scheduled to begin on January 16 and visited the dedicated COVID control room set up at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry.<br> </p> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the first phase of the pan India roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination drive at 10:30 AM via video conferencing.<br> </p> <p>This vaccination program will cover the entire length and breadth of the country, with a total of 3006 session sites across all states and union territories which will be connected virtually throughout the exercise.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated Saturday at each of the session sites, the health ministry said.<br> </p> <p>The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the ministry said in a statement.</p> <p>Vardhan said India's exercise to vaccinate its population against COVID-19 shall be the largest immunisation drive of the world.</p> <p>He reiterated that both the indigenously manufactured vaccines, Covishield by Serum Institute of India and COVAXIN of Bharat Biotech, have proven safety and immunogenicity records and are the most important tools to contain the pandemic, the statement said.</p> <p>During his visit to the COVID control room, Vardhan minutely scrutinised each aspect of the working of Co-WIN, an online digital platform developed by the health ministry which will be used to drive the vaccination programme.</p> <p>It will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine. This digital platform will assist programme managers across national, state, and district levels while conducting vaccination sessions.<br> </p> <p>It will help them track beneficiary coverage, beneficiary dropouts, sessions planned v/s sessions held and vaccine utilisation, the ministry stated.<br> </p> <p>The platform enables national and state administrators to view and sort data of beneficiaries as per their gender, age and co-morbidity.<br> </p> <p>They can also view the metadata of vaccinations and adverse event following immunization (AEFI) reported from constituent districts across states and union territories, the ministry said.</p> <p>District administrators can additionally create session sites at any location by entering the pin-code, followed by specifying the locality or villages and subsequently assigning a vaccinator.</p> <p>Vardhan suggested that the software modifications and lessons learnt while using the highly advanced Co-WIN platform be incorporated into India's universal immunisation program, the statement stated.<br> </p> <p>He also reviewed the beneficiary registration page for all non-prioritised groups on Co-WIN. He suggested pre-populating the software with beneficiaries by seeding it with electoral database, in addition to other documents that are authorised for registration.<br> </p> <p>"The dedicated COVID Control Room has been involved in the massive exercise of monitoring district wise COVID-19 data from across the country as well as in depth analysis of the data to interpret and evaluate the status of the pandemic.<br> </p> <p>"For the last several months, through this dedicated control room, the government has been closely monitoring parameters such as case fatality rates, infection rates, death rates and other parameters based on which containment strategies have been continuously evolved," the ministry said.<br> </p> <p>The control room has also been helping to track and record best strategies being adopted by different countries as a part of their response system and translating them into key learnings for India.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;The Union minister also reviewed the working of the 'communications control room' which has been closely monitoring the disinformation campaigns and rumour mongering in relation to administering of COVID-19 vaccines. He advised the administrative machinery to go all out to counter the misinformation campaign being spread by vested interests.<br> </p> <p>The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines—Covishield and Covaxin—has been allocated to all states and union territories in proportion to their healthcare workers database.<br> </p> <p>States and union territories have been advised to utilise a maximum of 10 days in a fortnight for the COVID-19 vaccination.<br> </p> <p>They have also been advised to organise vaccination sessions taking into account 10 per cent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session per day.<br> </p> <p>Therefore, any undue haste on the parts of the states to organise unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day is not advised, the ministry had said on Wednesday.<br> </p> <p>The states and union territories have also been advised to increase the number of vaccination session sites that would be operational every day in a progressive manner as the vaccination process stabilises and moves forward.</p> <p>According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.</p> <p>Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.<br> </p> <p>Vardhan will be visiting the new OPD wing of AIIMS between 10-10:30 AM on Saturday to join the AIIMS doctors and potential vaccine beneficiaries to participate in and witness the launch of the vaccination.<br> </p> <p>He is also scheduled to visit a few more sites in the capital subsequently.&nbsp;<br> </p> http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/vardhan-reviews-preparedness-for-january-16-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html http://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/01/15/vardhan-reviews-preparedness-for-january-16-covid-19-vaccination-drive.html Fri Jan 15 19:47:35 IST 2021