MediaEye RSS Feedhttps://www.mediaeyenews.comMediaEye news RSS Feeden-usCopyright (C) 2016 mediaeyenews.comTwitter acts on inactive accounts new verification soon

Micro-blogging platform Twitter has started removing blue verification badges from inactive and incomplete accounts and will begin the new verification process for its users in few weeks.

Twitter, which paused its public verification process or that elusive Blue Badge three years ago, in November announced to relaunch verification, including a new public application process, in early 2021.

"Last call! As part of our new verification policy, we'll remove verification badges from inactive and incomplete accounts," Twitter Safety said in a tweet.

The company is reading out directly to users who have issues with their accounts.

"We've reached out directly to those who need to take action to stay verified," it added.

Twitter had said it would relaunch verification, including a new public application process, in early 2021.

Verified accounts on Twitter will have a blue check next to the display name throughout the app.

"When we relaunch the public application process in early 2021, there will be a link to the application in the Twitter apps and on".

Over three years ago, the platform paused the public verification programme after hearing feedback that it felt arbitrary and confusing to many people.

A year later, the company deprioritised this work further to focus on protecting the integrity of the public conversation around critical moments like the 2020 US election.

The company has identified six types of accounts in its draft policy as Notable Accounts -- government; companies, brands and non-profit organisations; news; entertainment; sports and activists/organisers and other influential individuals.

According to the proposed policy, "the blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be notable and active."

Twitter had admitted that there are many verified accounts on its platform that should not be there.

The new verification policy is a starting point, and "we intend to expand the categories and criteria for verification significantly over the next year".

The draft verification policy is available in English, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese.

"We are also working with local non-governmental organisations and our Trust and Safety Council to ensure as many perspectives are represented as possible," Twitter said.

Source: ians

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 14:12:07 +0530
YouTube finally enables HDR support on Xbox consoles

New Delhi, Jan 23

Google-owned YouTube has enabled HDR support on Microsofts Xbox consoles even before the Sony PlayStation 5.

The YouTube app on Xbox never supported HDR, despite being available on the PlayStation 4 since 2019.

According to a report in Engadget, HDR support works across existing Xbox One devices and new consoles like the Xbox Series X and Series S.

YouTube HDR videos are noticeably brighter and more colourful.

"The maximum resolution will depend on your console, with the Xbox Series X supporting 4K at up to 60 fps, and the Xbox One S delivering 1440p HDR at 60 fps," the report said on Friday.

Microsoft has been promising YouTube HDR supports on Xbox since 2017.

Microsoft has also announced that its Cloud-based gaming subscription service, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, will be available to iOS and PCs users starting Spring 2021.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is already available for Android devices as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $15 per month.

The PlayStation 5 will cost Rs 49,990 for the normal edition while the digital edition will come for Rs 39,990 in India.

The next-generation gaming console competes against the new Microsoft's Xbox line up.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 12:20:01 +0530
India women s hockey team loses to Argentina B side

Buenos Aires, Jan 23

The Indian women's hockey team conceded a late goal against Argentina 'B' to lose their match 2-1.

Sol Pagella (11th minute) and Agustina Gorzelany (57) scored for the home team while young forward Salima Tete (54) was the lone goal-scorer for India.

In the previous matches, the visiting Indians had drawn 2-2 and 1-1 against the Argentina junior women.

"Today we played against a stronger Argentina squad consisting many of their senior players. This was a perfect practice match for us ahead of next week's schedule where we play against the senior side. Unfortunately, we conceded a penalty corner (PC) goal minutes before the regulation time and this is what we need to manage better," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

India began on back-foot with Argentina 'B' playing tough, attacking hockey right from the start. Conceding two back-to-back PCs within six minutes of play and putting pressure on the visiting side. However, Indian goalkeeper Rajani did well to save the goals. In the 11th minute, a fierce circle penetration and well-timed strike by younger Sol Pagella though put the home team ahead by 1-0.

With a strong defence put up by the Argentinian women, PCs were hard to come by for India and circle entries were restricted as well. Though India managed to earn a PC in the 23rd minute, drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur's attempt to equalise was well saved by the opposition's goalkeeper.

Argentina earned two more PCs in the 43rd and 51st minutes. But India's PC defence held sway to ensure the lead was not extended further. In the 54th minute, when India bagged a PC, an alert Salima Tete swiftly struck the ball off a rebound into the goalpost fetching her team a much-need equaliser.

The sturdy home team upped its ante in the following minutes with a circle penetration that resulted in a PC. This was the deciding moment as an experienced Gorzelany converted the goal in the 57th minute to seal the match.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 12:16:45 +0530
Industry institute initiative to make banana farmers to go bananas

Chennai, Jan 23

A three way industry-institute-Tamil Nadu government organisation-collaborative effort to increase the value-added products from banana plantation is expected to make the banana farmers in the country go bananas.

The faculty and the students of the Kancheepuram-based Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM) have come out with an integrated machine that can process the banana trunk or pseudo-stem to make fibre yarn, sap water and other products.

The Mumbai-based company Gencrest part of the Samta group will be putting up a mini-plant with such machines.

Curiously the initiative is not spearheaded by any agriculture scientist or technocrat but by M. Annadurai, former space scientist who headed India's first Moon and Mars space mission.

Annadurai is now the Vice President, Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology, Chennai and Chairman, National Design and Research Forum, Bangalore.

"Banana crops can become like sugarcane in terms of byproducts-fibre yarn for textiles, sap for nutraceuticals and fertiliser, balance waste for acoustic panels and bio-fertiliser," Annadurai told IANS.

Nothing goes waste in the case of sugarcane as its juice is used for making sugar/jaggery, ethanol, the bagasse is used for making paper or fired in a boiler to generate power.

Presently, the banana growers are having disposal problems with the pseudo-stem and incurring heavy expenditure on the disposal without getting any income.

"One of the stumbling blocks to utilise the full potential of the banana plantation is the absence of an automatic plant to process the trunk. There are small manually operated machines that extract banana fibre to make products like textiles and other handicrafts," Annadurai said.

To solve the problem, the faculty and students of IIITDM have designed and built an integrated machine that can peel, press and extract banana fibre from the pseudo-stem. In the process the machine also separates the core stem that can be processed as ingredients for making biscuits, ice cream and others.

"The concept to realisation of the integrated machine took just three months and three days for our team," Dr. M. Raguraman, Assistant Professor at IIITDM told IANS.

The IIITDM team that developed the machine consisted of Assistant Professors Dr. P. Kalpana and Dr. A.V.S. Sivaprasad, students Manonmani, Mohammed Yusuf and 12 others and two project engineers were also hired, he said.

"We have also developed technology for banana tree cutting and loading them on to a vehicle at the farm," Raguraman added.

The trunk peels are pressed to extract the excess water or sap. The water rich in potassium can be used for making nutraceuticals, bio-fertiliser or bio-ethanol. The core stem can be pressed to get the stem juice and the remaining fibre can be dried and powdered to be used in making biscuits and ice cream, he said.

According to him, a manually operated banana fibre extractor can give only 15 kg raw fibre per day but the IIITDM designed machine can give an output of about three ton per day.

The first prototype of the IIITDM built machine was recently tested and the second prototype which will be for industry use is getting ready incorporating minor suggestions, Raguraman said.

"The banana fibre yarn is eco friendly and can replace 70 per cent of the synthetic fibre in the textiles. For one kg of cotton fibre about 60,000 litres of water is spent whereas the water usage in the case of banana fibre is far less," Annadurai said.

After extracting the raw fibre yarn, sap, the balance waste or pith can also be used for making acoustic panels. Lab scale testing of the acoustic panel made with banana pith has been made. The panels can also be used in high end car interiors, Raguraman said.

According to Annadurai, the Mumbai based Gencrest has developed a process using enzymes to convert raw banana fibre yarn into textile grade yarn. Banana fabric is a sustainable green apparel of the future and an alternative solution to synthetic and other resource intensive fabrics like cotton.

"Our project envisages scaling up the entire process as a national effort," he added.

Annadurai also pointed out Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami talking about the government's interest in increasing the income of banana farmers by encouraging production of value-added products.

According to officials, India is the largest banana producer producing about 25 million ton out of about 8.30 lakh hectares under cultivation.

The major banana producer states are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

"In Tamil Nadu alone about five lakh ton of banana stems are cut and thrown away as waste," Annadurai said.

The IIITDM developed integrated banana trunk processing machine will be first put to use at the small plant to be set up by Gencrest.

"We are planning to set up a 300 ton per annum (tpa) banana fibre yarn plant in Maharashtra's Jalgaon district. The venture is challenging as what is seen as a viable venture at lab level may not be so commercially at industrial scale," Vinay Gupta Chief Executive Officer, Gencrest told IANS.

Queried about the market potential for the various byproducts Gupta said it has to be studied and seen.

He said Samta group has five business verticals viz mining, solar power, bio-technology, information technology and foundation.

Barring the solar power, all other verticals are in the start-up stage and the group's focus is on sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint.

The group's 25MW solar power project located in Gujarat has been generating power since 2012 onwards.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 12:09:54 +0530
Tata Motors launches hatchback Altroz s i Turbo variant

Mumbai, Jan 23

Automobile manufacturer Tata Motors on Saturday launched the 'i-Turbo' variant of its premium hatchback, Altroz.

The variant's petrol version starts at Rs 8.25 lakh while the diesel version costs Rs 9.45 lakh.

As per the company, 'iRA' comes with 27 connected car features along with natural voice tech, through which the car understands commands not only in 'English or Hindi, but also in Hinglish'.

Besides, it is India's first hatchback to introduce What3Words technology - a precise & unique tool that makes navigation easier than before.

The new variant is powered by a 1.2L turbocharged BS6 petrol engine.

Additionally, the Company has added a new top of the line 'XZ+' variant in a petrol and diesel fuel option to the Altroz family.

Tata Altroz was the first product on the 'ALFA' architecture.

It was launch in January 2020. Over 50,000 Altroz units have been sold within its first year of the vehicle's launch.

"We are delighted to share that with its introduction, in FY21, our market share in the hatchback category has increased by 5.4 per cent compared to last fiscal and we have captured 17 per cent market share in the premium hatch segment," said Shailesh Chandra - President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 12:00:42 +0530
Bigg Boss 14 Eijaz says childhood abuse confession used against him

Mumbai, Jan 23

Not long ago, Eijaz Khan shocked everyone when he revealed a dark secret from his childhood in the Bigg Boss 14. He shared that he had been touched inappropriately. The actor, who is temporarily out of the house to shoot a web series, claims his housemates used the revelation as a trigger against him, but that has only made him stronger.

For those who came in late, Eijaz's confession came in in November during an immunity task when housemates had to reveal a very personal thing no one knew about them. He broke down while sharing the fact that he was touched inappropriately as a child, and said that he had struggled for years to deal with the trauma. Eijaz added that his therapist helped him get over it. He had also shared that he did not tell his father about it and that was something he regretted.

Does he feel innate details of celebrity lives should be put out for public consumption this way? "I believe in collective benefit. If whatever you do or the choices you make are for a collective benefit of society it can never be wrong. It cannot be for personal aspiration. If it is for personal benefit only, then I don't think the universe really conspires for it. You need to have the 'dua' (prayers) of a lot of people to succeed in life," Eijaz told IANS.

The actor, who is currently shooting for his web-series City Of Dreams, says he shared his deep dark secret on the show because it is the truth.

"I chose that moment to share my secret primarily because it was the truth. This show is a reality show. It is among shows that have the biggest outreach. I believe that there are children out here who will get inspired and come out. They will take therapy and say, 'if Eijaz Khan can do it I can do it, too'. That's what matters," he claimed.

However, Eijaz added: "People used it against me. People used it as a trigger but that's okay. It didn't kill me, it just made me stronger."

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:36:59 +0530
Russia warns of US cyber attack after SolarWinds hack

Moscow, Jan 23

The Russian government has alerted businesses in the country about a potential cyber attack from the US, in retaliation of the SolarWinds hacking that compromised networks of several US federal agencies (including the Department of Defense) and top tech enterprises.

The suspected Russia-backed hackers have compromised at least 250 federal agencies and top enterprises in the US, by infiltrating into 'SolarWinds Orion' monitoring and management software.

In a press briefing at the White House on Friday, new White House officials said they reserved the right to respond.

"We've spoken about this previously… of course we reserve the right to respond at a time and manner of our choosing to any cyberattack," the press secretary said.

Moscow's response to the comment came in the form of a security bulletin published by the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTSKI), a security agency founded by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), an internal security and intelligence agency.

"The short statement cited the Biden administration's comments, interpreted as threats, and provided a list of 15 security best practices that businesses should adhere to in order to remain safe online," reports ZDNet.

Russia has denied its hand in the SolarWinds incident.

The Biden administration has also committed $9 billion towards cybersecurity in the aftermath of the SolarWinds incident.

At least 24 big companies, including tech giants like Intel, Cisco, VMware and Nvidia, have reportedly suffered the 'SolarWinds' hack.

The suspected Russian hackers installed a malware in the Orion software sold by the IT management company 'SolarWinds', and accessed sensitive data belonging to several US government agencies and businesses.

The initial estimates were that Russian hackers compromised 18,000 government and private networks.


Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:30:46 +0530
Bolsonaro says Dhanyavaad to Modi for vaccine exports

Brasilia, Jan 23

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said "Dhanyavaad" (thank you) to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for helping the South American nation with Covid-19 vaccine exports.

Taking to Twitter on Friday night, the President said: "Namaskar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi... Brazil is honoured to have a great partner to overcome a global obstacle.

"Thank you for helping us with vaccine exports from India to Brazil. Dhanyavaad!"

Bolsonaro's message comes after Bharat Biotech Limited had announced on January 12 that it has signed an agreement with Precisa Medicamentos for supplying Covaxin doses to Brazil.

Covaxin, India's indigenous Covid-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, is being made in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Meanwhile, 92 countries have approached India for Covid-19 vaccines, including Brazil, which currently accounts for the third highest coronavirus caseload in the world and the second largest death toll.

The country has sent a special plane to pick up Indian vaccines from Pune.

It is expected to fly the first 2 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the government's Fiocruz biomedical institute.

According to media report from Sao Paulo, Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the documentation is ready for bringing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine being produced at the Serum Institute of India in Pune.

As of Saturday morning, Brazil's overall coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 8,753,920 and 215,243, respectively.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:21:02 +0530
Miqdaad Dohadwala on being a stand up comedian in Dubai

New Delhi, Jan 23

Dubai-based Indian stand-up comedian Miqdaad Dohadwala says cracking jokes before crowds in the emirate is not much of a hassle if you follow two simple rules: Never joke about the Kingdom, and never joke about the locals.

"We need to be sensitive towards people's sentiments. Making fun of the Kingdom and the locals are a complete no," Dohadwala told IANS.

The artiste, who moved from Mumbai to Dubai in 2014, insists the scene is otherwise no different from India. "Stand-up comedy in Dubai is the same as India," he said, adding that while performing in Dubai he comes across a varied set of people while in India one can strike a common ground.

"You could be on stage for our very own 'desi' crowd on one night and a whole troupe of Ukranians on another. That is the reason why the material that you have should transcend cultural barriers to connect with people. In India, we can localise the content because the audience tends to relate on a common ground. It is easier to explore the details of the diversified Indian experience," he added.

Dohadwala feels strongly about the arrest of fellow humorist Munawar Faruqui. Calling it unfortunate, he says the intent of comedians is never in the wrong, and that they never want to hurt sentiments.

Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui was arrested on January 1 for allegedly "hurting religious sentiments" at a show in Indore.

"What is happening to Munawar is really unfortunate. Comedians shouldn't be censored in an ideal world. Our intent is never in the wrong, we don't want to hurt sentiments at all," Dohadwala said.

"Due to the constant fear of reprisal, of social media backlash, of trolls and some comedians, including myself, we do tone down our sets. It is even more cumbersome for me as I live in a different country. But the fact that we have to alter our material due to suit all this, is disheartening. It is a limitation on art, which should never be the case. However, we do it because, honestly speaking, there are times when it is just not worth it. I look forward to a day when we need not hold back our artistic freedom because of reasons like these," added Dohadwala, who is currently in Mumbai for performances.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:12:33 +0530
Baghdad security breach won t be repeated Iraqi PM

Baghdad, Jan 23

In the wake of the twin suicide bombings in Baghdad earlier this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi pledged that a security breach in the capital city "would not be repeated", stressing the need to urgently address the challenges facing by the country's intelligence services.

A statement by his office issued on Friday said that al-Kadhimi's comments came during the extraordinary session of the Ministerial Council for National Security a day after the deadly bombings that killed 32 people and injured 116 others, reports Xinhua news agency.

"What happened yesterday is a breach that we do not allow to be repeated. We promised our people to provide security," al-Kadhimi said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the security services made great efforts during the past months and were able to carry out pre-emptive operations to thwart the almost daily attempts by the Islamic State (IS) terror group to reach Baghdad, the statement said.

"There are challenges in the (performance of) intelligence services that must be addressed urgently, and I will personally supervise this issue," al-Kadhimi said.

On Thursday morning, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt in a bustling outdoor market for second-hand clothes in Bab al-Sharji area, and a second one blew himself up a few minutes later in the same market.

Later in the day, al-Kadhimi, also commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, chaired an emergency meeting and also sacked five security senior officials and commanders.

Thursday's bombings were claimed by the IS.

This was the first such attack in the Iraqi capital city in nearly two years, as the security situation has improved since the Iraqi security forces fully defeated the IS across the country late in 2017.

However, sporadic deadly incidents still occur in the war-ravaged country.


Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:07:18 +0530
Govt accords highest priority to agri sector Rupala

New Delhi, Jan 23

The agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy and the government accords highest priority to this sector and has taken several vital steps to improve the socio-economic status of the farmers to, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Parshottam Rupala, said on Friday while virtually addressing the National Conference on Agriculture for Summer Campaign 2021.

In spite of the uncertainty during the lockdown period, one activity which gave continuous hope was agriculture, he said.

Throughout India, a number of farmers and agriculture labourers toiled against all adversities. Their untiring efforts coupled with timely interventions by the Central and state governments ensured that there was minimal or no disruption to harvesting activities, he added.

As per the fourth Advance Estimates (2019-20), total food grains production in the country is estimated at 296.65 million tonnes, and horticulture production at 319.57 million tonnes, which will be an all-time record. The pulses and oilseeds production is estimated at 23.15 million tonnes and 33.42 million tonnes, respectively.

Production of cotton is being estimated at 354.91 lakh bales with which India will be the top cotton producing country in the world. On the production and productivity fronts, the horticulture sector has also outperformed conventional food grain crops.

The government will make all out efforts to make the agriculture sector self-reliant by developing necessary strategies, improving production technologies, creating new market opportunities and developing agricultural infrastructure under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the minister.

Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:01:32 +0530
Siraj find of Australia tour says Shastri

New Delhi, Jan 22

India head coach Ravi Shastri on Friday heaped praise on fast bowler Mohammed Siraj who played a crucial role in the team's remarkable win over Australia in the Border-Gavaskar series.

"Find of the tour for shoring up the bowling attack the way he did - Mohd Siraj. He fought through personal loss, racial remarks and channelised them to find home in the team huddle," Shastri said in a tweet.

Siraj picked 13 wickets in the three Tests he played, the first of which was his debut, through the course of the series which India won 2-1. During the tour, Siraj lost his father and even faced racial abuse from a section of a crowd during the third Test in Sydney. However, he didn't let these obstacles affect his performance as played a key role in India's memorable Test series win over the Tim Paine-led side.

On his return to India on Thursday, the 26-year-old fast bowler said he had no time to relax and would like to focus on the game without thinking too much.

"Whenever I performed I missed my father. In fact, I was thinking of calling him after every good performance but later realised that he was no more. I miss him a lot. May Allah grant him place in paradise," Siraj said.

The Hyderabad-based bowler said it was an emotional moment for him when he drove straight from the airport to the graveyard and offered flowers on his father's grave.

On being abused racially by spectators during the third and fourth Tests, in Sydney and Brisbane respectively, Siraj said it made him mentally strong and he did not allow that to impact his game.

"The case (on racial abuse) is going on. Let us see if we get justice or not. I told my captain that some audience is abusing me. The umpire said you can leave the ground but the captain said we will not go as we respect the game of cricket and you may send them out," he said.

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 17:09:20 +0530
Casey Affleck says he didn t throw out Ana de Armas cutout

Los Angeles, Jan 22

Actor Casey Affleck has dismissed speculation alleging that he threw out a life-sized cardboard cutout of actress Ana de Armas after her split from his brother Ben Affleck.

Earlier this month, photos of a man placing the cutout in the trash surfaced shortly after news broke that Ana and Ben had called it quits. The photo shows that it's the same cutout Ben's three children -- Violet, Seraphina and Samuel, whom he shares with ex-wife Jennifer Garner -- played around with.

"No, that's not me, and I can't even really say if they have totally broken up for good or whatever. I would leave that to them to speak to," Casey told

"A bunch of people sent that picture to me and I was gonna tweet some, like, joke, response or something. And then I couldn't think of one and a joke didn't seem appropriate. And I don't have Twitter so that wasn't going to work. But it definitely wasn't me," he added.

He thinks that this year has been really hard on people in relationships.

"I wouldn't know because I've been single, but I bet there are a lot of people that have, you know, it's been challenging to relationships. And I think that Ana is just the sweetest, funniest, smartest, most charming person. I think she won't have any problems meeting somebody else," said Casey.

He also praised Ana's acting skills.

"I saw her performance as Marilyn Monroe in this movie called 'Blonde', which hasn't come out, and I would bet a lot that she's gonna pick up every single award. She's gonna have a good year. I'm not too worried about her," he said.

"I think she's a catch in every way. And I'll be there to carry Ben through it, but I don't think he'll have any problems (either). My advice to them would be like, 'Yes, think long and hard about it, because quarantine is not fun if you're single'," he added.

When asked if Ana and Ben could reconcile, Casey said that he has "no idea", but will "be sorry if it doesn't work out".

"I think she's really, really great. People don't know her too well because she hasn't, like, been out there (in the spotlight) for so long. But she's just incredibly sweet, such a sweet person and so talented," said Casey.

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 17:04:01 +0530
Emaar accuses MGF of trying to illegally transfer land parcels

New Delhi, Jan 22

Emaar India Ltd. on Friday accused MGF Group and its Chairman Shravan Gupta of trying to illegally transfer a land parcel in Okhla.

In a statement, Emaar cautioned against dealing with MGF Group, Gupta and associates in respect of the land parcel which was valued at nearly Rs 500 crore in 2008 and may be valued much higher now.

Emaar has also issued a public notice to this effect.

"We were informed by credible sources that MGF was likely to deal with the Okhla land parcel. We wanted to caution the public against dealing with MGF Group, SSP Buildcon Private Limited, Shravan Gupta, Shilpa Gupta or any of their associates/related entities or persons," it said.

The notice pertains specifically to a land parcel of approximately 4.88 acres in Okhla, Mathura Road, New Delhi.

Emaar India was a joint venture between Dubai-based Emaar and Shravan Gupta's MGF Developments Limited. Emaar Properties entered the Indian real estate with one of the largest FDI in the real estate sector in 2005.

Gupta was the Managing Director and CEO of the joint venture Emaar MGF Land until 2016. He finally resigned as the Managing Director of the joint venture company in 2016 and the demerger of MGF was approved in July 2018.

According to Emaar, once it took management control of Emaar India, it found several unauthorised related party transactions prior to 2016. After investigating, Emaar proceeded with recourse to the necessary remedies available under Indian law.

It has sought to recover over Rs 2,400 crore and interest from the relevant date of siphoning of funds or properties. The proceedings were filed in November 2019 before the NCLT Delhi.

Emaar's statement said that it has been "informed that Shravan Gupta and his family are since outside India and recently learned from a court order in an unrelated matter that he and his family are likely to take up citizenship of the Commonwealth of Dominica".

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 17:00:35 +0530
Sensex drops 550 points holds on to 49 000

Mumbai, Jan 22

The Indian equity indices plunged on Friday afternoon with the BSE Sensex losing around 550 points.

Heavy selling in banking, finance and metal stocks weighed on the indices.

Around 2.40 p.m., Sensex was trading at 49,073.58, lower by 551.18 points or 1.11 per cent from its previous close of 49,624.76.

It opened at 49,594.95 and has so far recorded an intra-day high of 49,676.88 and a low of 48,894.64 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 14,433.80, lower by 156.55 points or 1.07 per cent from its previous close.

Bajaj Auto, Hindustan Unilever and TCS were the top gainers on the Sensex so far, while Axis Bank, Asian Paints and ICICI Bank were the major losers.


Fri, 22 Jan 2021 16:52:01 +0530
India records 14K new Covid cases recoveries cross 1 02 cr

New Delhi, Jan 22

With 14,545 new coronavirus infections reported in the last 24 hours, India on Friday continued with its streak of low single-day cases, increasing the overall tally to 1,06,25,428, the health officials said.

For the past 15 days, the country has been recording less than 20,000 daily new infections even as the toll remained below 300-mark for the past 25 days.

On January 19, India had reported 10,064 new coronavirus infections, the lowest single-day spike in seven months. The country had recorded over 10,000 cases on June 6 last year.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said that with 163 fresh deaths, the overall toll in India stood at 1,53,032.

As per the Ministry's data, 1,02,83,708 people have recovered so far and currently there are 1,88,688 active cases.

The recovery rate stands at 96.75 per cent, while the fatality rate at 1.44 per cent.

About 84 per cent of the daily new cases are reported from eight states -- Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

The nationwide immunisation drive began across the country on January 16, with approval of two Covid vaccines in the country.

As many as 9,99,065 beneficiaries have received the Covid vaccine jabs so far, with 1,92,581 people inoculated on Thursday.

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 10:51:04 +0530
NASA chief steps down Biden may appoint a woman chief

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine officially stepped down from his role as administrator of the US space agency, as Jo Biden takes the president’s office.

President Biden is expected to pick a woman to fill the NASA administrator role, which has only been occupied by men since the agency's founding in 1958.

A Trump appointee and a Republican himself, Bridenstine, spent his final days as administrator making last push for the ambitious Artemis programme, that will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

"It has been my great honour to serve as your @NASA Administrator. I will miss the amazing NASA family and will forever be grateful for my time at this incredible agency. Ad astra," Bridenstine said in a tweet on Wednesday.

"We have done everything we can to build the consensus necessary for this program to be long-term sustainable," Bridenstine told The Verge.

"I think as hard as we've worked to build the consensus over the last three years, I think we're in good shape."

Of the $3.3 billion NASA said it needed for next year's budget to stay on track for 2024, Congress came up with $850 million.

The $850 million budget marks the first time Congress agreed to fund a human lunar lander since the Apollo programme.

"With that I say farewell. And I'll tell ya, when a new team comes in, give them all your support. Because they need it, they deserve it, and of course what we're trying to do, we're not only crossing multiple administrations, but multi-decade and multigenerational," Bridenstine said.

Last week, a key rocket test for NASA's much-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) ended in an early shutdown as four rocket engines fired for a little over a minute, while these were supposed to be up for nearly eight minutes.

The SLS is set to play a key role in the agency's Artemis programme which aims to return astronauts to the Moon.

NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed flight test that will launch Orion on the agency's Space Launch System rocket to orbit the Moon and return to Earth.

On Artemis II, Orion will carry a crew of astronauts around the Moon and back, and Artemis III will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

Subsequent missions will explore more of the Moon and test the technologies and procedures needed for human exploration of Mars.

Source: ians

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 07:19:00 +0530
NASA chief steps down Biden may appoint a woman chief

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine officially stepped down from his role as administrator of the US space agency, as Jo Biden takes the president’s office.

President Biden is expected to pick a woman to fill the NASA administrator role, which has only been occupied by men since the agency's founding in 1958.

A Trump appointee and a Republican himself, Bridenstine, spent his final days as administrator making last push for the ambitious Artemis programme, that will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

"It has been my great honour to serve as your @NASA Administrator. I will miss the amazing NASA family and will forever be grateful for my time at this incredible agency. Ad astra," Bridenstine said in a tweet on Wednesday.

"We have done everything we can to build the consensus necessary for this program to be long-term sustainable," Bridenstine told The Verge.

"I think as hard as we've worked to build the consensus over the last three years, I think we're in good shape."

Of the $3.3 billion NASA said it needed for next year's budget to stay on track for 2024, Congress came up with $850 million.

The $850 million budget marks the first time Congress agreed to fund a human lunar lander since the Apollo programme.

"With that I say farewell. And I'll tell ya, when a new team comes in, give them all your support. Because they need it, they deserve it, and of course what we're trying to do, we're not only crossing multiple administrations, but multi-decade and multigenerational," Bridenstine said.

Last week, a key rocket test for NASA's much-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) ended in an early shutdown as four rocket engines fired for a little over a minute, while these were supposed to be up for nearly eight minutes.

The SLS is set to play a key role in the agency's Artemis programme which aims to return astronauts to the Moon.

NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed flight test that will launch Orion on the agency's Space Launch System rocket to orbit the Moon and return to Earth.

On Artemis II, Orion will carry a crew of astronauts around the Moon and back, and Artemis III will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

Subsequent missions will explore more of the Moon and test the technologies and procedures needed for human exploration of Mars.

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 07:15:32 +0530
SEBI penalises HDFC Bank

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 crore on HDFC Bank for invocation of client securities pledged by stock broking firm BRH Wealth Kreators in violation of an interim order by the regulator.

A SEBI probe found that the lender had unilaterally invoked securities pledged by BRH to the extent of Rs 158.68 crore and the capital market regulator has thereby directed the bank to deposit an equivalent amount, along with interest from October 14, 2019 till date at the rate of 7 per cent per annum, in a separate interest bearing escrow account, till the issue of settlement of clients' securities is reconciled.

The regulator had issued an interim order cum show cause notice against BRH Wealth Kreators Ltd (formerly BMA Wealth Creators Ltd) and certain other entities on October 7, 2019 restraining the noticees from accessing the securities market and buying or selling in securities, either directly or indirectly.

The interim order had directed the noticees not to dispose of or alienate any assets, whether movable or immovable, or to create or invoke or release any interest or charge in any of such assets except with the prior permission of National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE) and the BSE.

BRH, along with the other noticees, were also directed to provide a full inventory of all their assets, whether movable or immovable, or any interest or investment or charge in any of such assets, including details of all their bank accounts, demat accounts and mutual fund investments immediately to NSE and BSE but not later than five working days from the date of receipt of the order.

HDFC Bank had granted credit facilities to BRH (Rs 191.16 crore) and BRH Commodities (Rs 26.61 crore) as loan against securities (LAS) out of which an amount of Rs 87.75 crore was granted as LAS.

On October 14, 2019, HDFC Bank allegedly had invoked securities pledged by BRH to the extent of Rs 158.68 crore. The aforementioned invocation of pledge of client securities available in the aforementioned two demat accounts of BRH, by HDFC Bank, was allegedly not in conformity with the directions contained in the interim order.

"Having regard to the facts and circumstances in the instant proceedings, including the fact that the noticee (HDFC Bank) had consciously proceeded to defeat the directions in the Interim Order, I am of the considered view that in terms of Section 15HB of the SEBI Act, a penalty of Rs 1 crore be imposed on the Noticee for non-compliance with the Interim Order," said the SEBI order.

The intent of the interim order was to protect the interest of the investors or clients of BRH through an immediate freeze of the "assets of the noticees", and also for ensuring that BRH ceases and desists from undertaking any activity in the securities market.

It added that the interim order was not an ultimate determination of the rights of recovery of the noticee but rather intended to ensure a freeze on the assets of BRH until completion of the investigation or forensic audit and that the investors' interests are not compromised in any manner whatsoever.

"The noticee (HDFC Bank) cannot now contend that the directions contained in the interim order, including restraining BRH from disposing of its assets for any purpose other than payment of client funds and securities, were not binding on it," it said.

Source: ians

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 06:58:13 +0530
US Senate confirms Biden s first cabinet nominee

US Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence (DNI) within hours of President Joe Biden's swearing in as the new President.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Haines by a vote of 84-10, making her the first member of Biden's cabinet to be installed by the chamber, reports Xinhua news agency.

Haines, 51, will become the first woman in US' history to lead the intelligence community.

She had served as a principal deputy national security adviser and as a deputy director at the Central Intelligence Agency under the former Barack Obama administration.

Haines has replaced former Republican John Ratcliffe, an ally of former President Donald Trump.

Haines pledged during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday to keep the intelligence community out of politics, The Hill news website reported.

"To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power, even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult," Haines had said in her opening statement.

She was one of five Cabinet picks who had their confirmation hearings on Tuesday.

But so far the other four, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, Secretary of State pick Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin to be Defence Secretary and Alejandro Mayorkas to be Homeland Security secretary, have not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.

Source: ians

Fri, 22 Jan 2021 06:51:57 +0530
Narcotics Control Bureau unearths drug factory in Mumbai Dawood link found

In a stringent action against drug cartel, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) unearthed the links of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim after the agency busted a drugs factory in Mumbai’s Dongri. The factory was being operated by Karim Lala's grandson Parwez Khan aka Chinku Pathan. NCB also recovered cash to the tune of Rs 2.18 crore from the premises of his associate Arif Bujhwala, another kingpin.

An NCB official privy to the development told media, "Chinku Pathan, who was nabbed by the NCB yesterday is the grandson of Lala, who was the mentor of Dawood Ibrahim." The official said that Chinku Pathan's partner Bhujwala is the biggest supplier of drugs in Maharashtra.

The NCB team also recovered one 9 mm pistol from Chinku Pathan's residence.

The official said that in a parallel raid, Rahul Kumar Verma, a DJ and rapper by profession, was intercepted in Mumbai's Bhiwandi area.

The official said that the DJ is suspected to be one of the suppliers of mephedrone of Chinku Pathan.

During the raids, the NCB team recovered one revolver and unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 2.18 crore, which is believed to be the sale proceeds from drug trafficking.

The official said that a clandestine drug laboratory operated by Bhujwala in the same building was also busted.

During the operation, the following drugs were seized from Bhujwala's clandestine lab - 5.69 kg of mephedrone or MD, one kg methamphetamine and 6.126 kg of ephedrine and a huge stash of packing material, various utensils, weighing machines and other apparatus used to manufacture illegal drugs.

The official said that mephedrone or MD is also known as M-cat, Meow Meow, white magic. It is a synthetic stimulant drug of amphetamine class with psychoactive characteristics and is usually used in parties.

He said that methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is also known as meth, blue, ice, and crystal.


Fri, 22 Jan 2021 05:53:49 +0530
Modi govt to provide a home to everyone by Aug 15 2022 Shah

Gandhinagar, Jan 21

Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday said he had full faith that the BJP government at the Centre led by PM Narendra Modi will provide a home to every citizen of the country by August 15, 2022. He was speaking at the virtual public dedication of one-km-long overbridge at Shilaj in Ahmedabad.

Shah said, "The way in which our BJP Government is undertaking housing projects in the country in rural as well as urban areas, I have full assurance that by August 15, 2022 everyone in the country will be facilitated with a house to live in. The Narendra Modi government has provided more than 10 crore [units of]affordable housing."

"More than 13 crore poor families were provided with gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme by our PM Narendra Modi...Our government has provided electricity to all the villages in the country and now we are working towards providing water connectivity to every household in the country by 2022. I have full faith that by the time the BJP will contest the next Lok Sabha elections, there won't be a single house in the country devoid of water connectivity," Shah added.

Shah, on Thursday carried out the virtual dedication of overbridge on the railway track at Thaltej- Shilaj area in Ahmedabad. Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel was present at the site.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a decision to free around one lakh railway crossings in the country and under that we have taken up the works to have overbridges or under Bridges at these places with fifty fifty cost sharing with the state governments. The railways has also decided to do away with unmanned railway crossings in the country and by 2022, there won't be a single unmanned railway crossing in the country," added Shah.

Shah, who represents the Gandhinagar constituency in the lower house of the Parliament, thanked the Gujarat deputy CM for taking care of things in his constituency. "Being engrossed in other works, I am unable to be present here in my constituency, but due to Nitin Patel, I am rest assured that public welfare works will go unabated and I thank him for that," added Shah

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:40:57 +0530
Modi govt to provide a home to everyone by Aug 15 2022 Shah

Gandhinagar, Jan 21

Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday said he had full faith that the BJP government at the Centre led by PM Narendra Modi will provide a home to every citizen of the country by August 15, 2022. He was speaking at the virtual public dedication of one-km-long overbridge at Shilaj in Ahmedabad.

Shah said, "The way in which our BJP Government is undertaking housing projects in the country in rural as well as urban areas, I have full assurance that by August 15, 2022 everyone in the country will be facilitated with a house to live in. The Narendra Modi government has provided more than 10 crore [units of]affordable housing."

"More than 13 crore poor families were provided with gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme by our PM Narendra Modi...Our government has provided electricity to all the villages in the country and now we are working towards providing water connectivity to every household in the country by 2022. I have full faith that by the time the BJP will contest the next Lok Sabha elections, there won't be a single house in the country devoid of water connectivity," Shah added.

Shah, on Thursday carried out the virtual dedication of overbridge on the railway track at Thaltej- Shilaj area in Ahmedabad. Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel was present at the site.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a decision to free around one lakh railway crossings in the country and under that we have taken up the works to have overbridges or under Bridges at these places with fifty fifty cost sharing with the state governments. The railways has also decided to do away with unmanned railway crossings in the country and by 2022, there won't be a single unmanned railway crossing in the country," added Shah.

Shah, who represents the Gandhinagar constituency in the lower house of the Parliament, thanked the Gujarat deputy CM for taking care of things in his constituency. "Being engrossed in other works, I am unable to be present here in my constituency, but due to Nitin Patel, I am rest assured that public welfare works will go unabated and I thank him for that," added Shah

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:37:53 +0530
PCB sign deals with broadcasters to take Pak cricket to UK NZ

Lahore, Jan 21

Resumption of cricket in Pakistan has attracted household sport broadcasters across the globe to partner with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and secure media rights for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and all home bilateral international matches till 2023.

After sport networks PTV Sports and SuperSport had acquired Pakistan and Africa region's media rights for Pakistan cricket, respectively last year, the PCB has now signed partnerships in North America, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the UK.

Pakistan cricket fans will now be able to follow Babar Azam and his side as well as the PSL in North America though Willow TV, in the Caribbean through Flow Sports, in the UK through Sky Sports and in New Zealand through Sky NZ, stated PCB in a media release on Thursday.

Discussions with potential broadcasters in Australia, Middle East and South Asia are underway and further details will be provided in due course.

"Despite the challenging Covid-19 times, these remain incredibly exciting times for Pakistan cricket. The homecoming of all cricket has attracted leading sport broadcast partners to place Pakistan cricket on their networks which, in turn, will provide enhanced access to our fans and supporters across the world to follow and stay connected with us," said PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan.

"This is a huge achievement for the PCB, not only in terms of succeeding in taking cricket to our global fans through these popular networks but to also maximise and exploit our media rights to ensure we continue to invest in our player welfare and development as well as cricketing infrastructure.

"The interest of these global sport networks also reflects that Pakistan cricket remains an attractive product for the international broadcasters. We now need to make our product bigger and stronger so that we can extend these partnerships and relationship beyond 2023," he added.

Pakistan are slated to take on South Africa in two Tests and three T20Is beginning January 26 in Karachi.


Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:35:01 +0530
LG launches new monitor for Rs 59 999 in India

New Delhi, Jan 21

LG on Thursday launched its new ultrafine display Ergo 4K monitor 'LG 32UN880' for Rs 59,999 in the Indian market.

The new monitor comes with an innovative ergonomic stand with a c-clamp that allows full movement of display for a comfortable, more flexible desktop setup, which further helps to provide next-level efficiency while working for long hours.

"We are certain that Ergo will prove to be a welcome innovation for anyone who spends a significant time at their desk through its technologically and ergonomically advanced design and start-of-the-art features that helps to promote good posture through its high degree of adjustability and ton range of movement, enabling each user to create a perfectly customized workstation," Hak Hyun Kim, Director- Home Entertainment, LG Electronics said in a statement.

At 31.5-inch and 3840 x 2160 resolution, LG's new monitors with UHD 4K IPS display aims to offer good image quality, enhanced colour, contrast and clarity.

According to the company, the new Ergo monitor comes with HDR10 which helps in exceptional image quality and DCI P3 95 per cent for colour accuracy. Interestingly, its compact design takes up very little desk surface and offers easier installation.

Ergo's USB-C one cable solution provides fast data transfer and power for laptop charging through a single cable, helping users achieve a clutter-free working experience and environment.

The monitor was also an Innovation Awards Honoree in Computer Peripherals & Accessories category at CES 2020 Awards.

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:23:59 +0530
NASA administrator departs Biden may pick a woman chief

Washington, Jan 21

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has officially stepped down from his role as the administrator of the US space agency, as Joe Biden takes the president's office.

President Biden is expected to pick a woman to fill the NASA administrator role, which has only been occupied by men since the agency's founding in 1958.

A Trump appointee and a Republican himself, Bridenstine, spent his final days as administrator making last push for the ambitious Artemis programme, that will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

"It has been my great honour to serve as your @NASA Administrator. I will miss the amazing NASA family and will forever be grateful for my time at this incredible agency. Ad astra," Bridenstine said in a tweet on Wednesday.

"We have done everything we can to build the consensus necessary for this program to be long-term sustainable," Bridenstine told The Verge.

"I think as hard as we've worked to build the consensus over the last three years, I think we're in good shape."

Of the $3.3 billion NASA said it needed for next year's budget to stay on track for 2024, Congress came up with $850 million.

The $850 million budget marks the first time Congress agreed to fund a human lunar lander since the Apollo programme.

"With that I say farewell. And I'll tell ya, when a new team comes in, give them all your support. Because they need it, they deserve it, and of course what we're trying to do, we're not only crossing multiple administrations, but multi-decade and multigenerational," Bridenstine said.

Last week, a key rocket test for NASA's much-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) ended in an early shutdown as four rocket engines fired for a little over a minute, while these were supposed to be up for nearly eight minutes.

The SLS is set to play a key role in the agency's Artemis programme which aims to return astronauts to the Moon.

NASA's Artemis I mission is an uncrewed flight test that will launch Orion on the agency's Space Launch System rocket to orbit the Moon and return to Earth.

On Artemis II, Orion will carry a crew of astronauts around the Moon and back, and Artemis III will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

Subsequent missions will explore more of the Moon and test the technologies and procedures needed for human exploration of Mars.

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:20:37 +0530
Sushant s sister Priyanka remembers her brother pride and alter ego

New Delhi, Jan 21

Priyanka Singh, Delhi-based sister of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, remembered her late brother with a long nostalgic post on his 35th birth anniversary on Thursday.

Priyanka, a lawyer by profession, took to Instagram to share a video featuring herself and Sushant, which is a collage of various photographs from their growing up years. Priyanka captioned the video, addressing her late brother as "my pride, my alter ego."

She wrote: "My brother, my pride, my alter ego, from this day when you were born, we not only prospered as siblings but evolved to become best friends, dedicated companions; twins if you will, in our depositions; exploring life and it's meaning, as fate would have it, we almost existed in perfect quantum entanglement."

"In the past, whenever you left, you came back again and again; This time when you departed... you came back so strong that you dwell in each and every breath of mine; your deep, profound eyes, and benign innocent smile are my constant companion, so much so that your presence has become the background of my very thought process!!!" Priyanka added. 

"But somehow I can't hear you back... I pray, I entreat, Please, please, please respond, react, tease, scream at me if you must, B'coz the eventuality of your silence is too loud to bear, The thought that I may never see you in flesh and blood, is too savage a fear! Just tell me where to meet you, as you told me time and again, b' coz there's so much to tell you I can hardly refrain; I know it all sounds stupid, Alas, my Shona, this stupidity is my only hope defining my very existence now...In total desperation, your Sona di! Happy Birthday my Sunshine!!! #sushantsinghrajput #sushantday #ssrians," she concluded.

Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput passed away on June 14, 2020 in Mumbai.


Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:18:30 +0530
Bigg Boss 14 Rubina will win feels season 12 s Jasleen Matharu

Mumbai, Jan 21

Bigg Boss 12 contestant Jasleen Matharu feels Rubina Dilaik is going to win the ongoing 14th season of the reality show. She praised Rakhi Sawant, too, saying Rakhi was playing well and is one of the most entertaining contestants in the current season.  

"Honestly, I am not following this season's ‘Bigg Boss'. I thought Eijaz (Khan) will be one of the top five contestants in the show but he suddenly walked out of the show, so it's very difficult to say who is going to be there till the end, but I think Rubina (Dilaik) is going to win the show because she is playing really well," Jasleen told IANS.

Jasleen is impressed by Rakhi's gameplan, too: "Rakhi (Sawant) is very entertaining in the show. She has been entertaining people for many years. She is a sweetheart and I think she is playing really well. Rakhi was a part of the first season and now she has gone back there, so I am sure she must be experiencing a huge difference between then and now. I don't know much about Arshi (Khan), so I would not like to talk about her."

Singer Anup Jalota and Jasleen Matharu rose to fame as a ‘couple' when they entered the reality show two years ago. They entered the show as 'vichitra couple' because of their age gap of 37 years. They had stated on the show that they had been in a relationship for three years, but denied it after coming out of the show, stating it was a marketing tactic.

Would Jasleen like to enter Bigg Boss house again? "Definitely! I always feel that no matter how much money you spend, you are not going to experience that kind of environment anywhere in the world, so I was lucky that I was given an opportunity to be a part of that show. Now, if the makers approach me, I will surely accept their offer," she replied.

Talking about her upcoming film, Woh Meri Student Hai, in which she shares screen space with Anup Jalota, Jasleen said: "The film is in post-production process, so once again you (audience) will be able to see both of us together very soon. Earlier, we have entertained the audience in ‘Bigg Boss' and now we are going to entertain them in this film."

In the film, Jasleen and Jalota play characters inspired by their lives. Jalota plays a singer while Jasleen is his student.

"It's a full-on comedy. I am waiting for its release and I am sure audiences are also waiting for its release because I feel that they are going to enjoy the film," Jasleen added.

Woh Meri Student Hai has been written, directed and produced by Jasleen's father Kesar Matharu.

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:15:49 +0530
5 killed in Baghdad market suicide blast

Baghdad, Jan 21 

At least five people were killed and 10 others injured on Thursday in a suicide blast at a marketplace in Baghdad, an Iraqi Interior Ministry source confirmed.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt in Bab al-Sharji area, and another blast followed a few minutes later, the source told Xinhua news agency.

Ambulances and civilian cars have evacuated the wounded to nearby hospitals and medical centres, the source added.

It was the first such attack in the Iraqi capital city in over a year.

No group has claimed responsibility yet.


Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:11:11 +0530
Sri Lanka s Covid 19 caseload tops 50 000

Colombo, Jan 21

Sri Lanka's overall coronavirus caseload surpassed the 55,000 mark on Thursday after over 700 people tested positive for the disease, the Health Ministry announced.

According to official figures, out of the 55,189 patients reported to date, 47,215 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, with the number of active cases standing at 7,700, Xinhua news agency reported.

The island nation has so far registered 274 deaths from the virus.

Sri Lanka is presently in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic after two new clusters were detected in October 2020 -- one at a from a garment factory in Minuwangoda and the second at a fish market in Colombo.

Since then, several areas in Colombo have been placed under isolation to prevent a further spread of the pandemic.

Wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing have been made mandatory by the Health Ministry.

The Sri Lankan government recently said that it will start the Covid-19 vaccination program by the end of February or in early March as discussions are ongoing to obtain the vaccines from India, China and Russia.

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:06:43 +0530
Farmers welcome govt s proposal in latest round of talks

New Delhi, Jan 21

The farmer leaders have welcomes the Central government's proposal during the 10th round of talks to resolve the issues related to the newly passed agricultural laws through a committee, keeping the legislations on hold for one and a half years on a positive note.

Terming the proposal "worth considering", the farmer leaders said that representatives of all the farmer organisations will hold consultations and then apprise the government about their stand during the 11th round meeting scheduled to be held on Saturday.

Farmer leader Shivkumar Kakka, who has been a part of all the 10 meetings held with the government at Vigyan Bhawan here so far, said: "We do not trust the committee, but the government has offered to put the laws on hold... It is definitely a matter to consider. We will discuss this and eventually try to form an opinion."

Another farmer leader Darshan Pal Singh, who was present in the meeting on Wednesday, said: "The Central government told us that it would submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court to put the laws on hold. Implementation of laws would be put on hold till the issues are resolved This proposal of the government is worth considering."

Reacting on the development, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hanan Mullah said: "The government said in the meeting that by submitting affidavit in the court, it can put the law on pause for a year and a half. Meanwhile, we will go by the report that would be provided by the committee.

"Now all the farmers associations will discuss the government's proposal on January 21 and reply to the government on January 22. Also, the attitude of farmer leaders has always been positive."

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 10:51:38 +0530
US President Joe Biden s inaugural address Full transcript

John Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of United States of America. The full text of the new US President after he was sworn in as President is reproduced below.

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans,


This is America's day.


This is democracy's day.


A day of history and hope.


Of renewal and resolve.


Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge.


Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy.


The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.


We have learned again that democracy is precious.


Democracy is fragile.


And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.


So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.


We look ahead in our uniquely American way -- restless, bold, optimistic -- and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.


I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here.


I thank them from the bottom of my heart.


You know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength of our nation.


As does President Carter, who I spoke to last night but who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.


I have just taken the sacred oath each of these patriots took an oath first sworn by George Washington.


But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.


On "We the People" who seek a more perfect Union.


This is a great nation and we are a good people.


Over the centuries through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go.


We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.


Much to repair.


Much to restore.


Much to heal.


Much to build.


And much to gain.


Few periods in our nation's history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we're in now.


A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country.


It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.


Millions of jobs have been lost.


Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.


A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.


A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear.


And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.


To overcome these challenges - to restore the soul and to secure the future of America - requires more than words.


It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy:






In another January in Washington, on New Year's Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.


When he put pen to paper, the President said, "If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it."


My whole soul is in it.


Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this:


Bringing America together.


Uniting our people.


And uniting our nation.


I ask every American to join me in this cause.


Uniting to fight the common foes we face:


Anger, resentment, hatred.


Extremism, lawlessness, violence.


Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.


With unity we can do great things. Important things.


We can right wrongs.


We can put people to work in good jobs.


We can teach our children in safe schools.


We can overcome this deadly virus.


We can reward work, rebuild the middle class, and make health care secure for all.


We can deliver racial justice.


We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.


I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy.


I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real.


But I also know they are not new.


Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart.


The battle is perennial.


Victory is never assured.


Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our "better angels" have always prevailed.


In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.


And, we can do so now.


History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.


We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.


We can treat each other with dignity and respect.


We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.


For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.


No progress, only exhausting outrage.


No nation, only a state of chaos.


This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.


And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America.


If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail.


We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together.


And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh.


All of us.


Let us listen to one another.


Hear one another.


See one another.


Show respect to one another.


Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.


Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war.


And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.


My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this.


America has to be better than this.


And, I believe America is better than this.


Just look around.


Here we stand, in the shadow of a Capitol dome that was completed amid the Civil War, when the Union itself hung in the balance.


Yet we endured and we prevailed.


Here we stand looking out to the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream.


Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protestors tried to block brave women from marching for the right to vote.


Today, we mark the swearing-in of the first woman in American history elected to national office - Vice President Kamala Harris.


Don't tell me things can't change.


Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington National Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace.


And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from this sacred ground.


That did not happen.


It will never happen.


Not today.


Not tomorrow.


Not ever.


To all those who supported our campaign I am humbled by the faith you have placed in us.


To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart.


And if you still disagree, so be it.


That's democracy. That's America. The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation's greatest strength.


Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion.


And I pledge this to you: I will be a President for all Americans.


I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.


Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.


What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans?


I think I know.














And, yes, the truth.


Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.


There is truth and there are lies.


Lies told for power and for profit.


And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders - leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation - to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.


I understand that many Americans view the future with some fear and trepidation.


I understand they worry about their jobs, about taking care of their families, about what comes next.


I get it.


But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don't look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don't get their news from the same sources you do.


We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.


We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.


If we show a little tolerance and humility.


If we're willing to stand in the other person's shoes just for a moment.


Because here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you.


There are some days when we need a hand.


There are other days when we're called on to lend one.


That is how we must be with one another.


And, if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future.


My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we will need each other.


We will need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter.


We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus.


We must set aside the politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.


I promise you this: as the Bible says weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.


We will get through this, together


The world is watching today.


So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it.


We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.


Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's.


We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.


We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.


We have been through so much in this nation.


And, in my first act as President, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those we lost this past year to the pandemic.


To those 400,000 fellow Americans - mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends, neighbours, and co-workers.


We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be.


Let us say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, for those they left behind, and for our country.




This is a time of testing.


We face an attack on democracy and on truth.


A raging virus.


Growing inequity.


The sting of systemic racism.


A climate in crisis.


America's role in the world.


Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways.


But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities.


Now we must step up.


All of us.


It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.


And, this is certain.


We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era.


Will we rise to the occasion?


Will we master this rare and difficult hour?


Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children?


I believe we must and I believe we will.


And when we do, we will write the next chapter in the American story.


It's a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me.


It's called "American Anthem" and there is one verse stands out for me:


"The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day

What shall be our legacy?

What will our children say?...

Let me know in my heart

When my days are through



I gave my best to you."


Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our nation.


If we do this then when our days are through our children and our children's children will say of us they gave their best.


They did their duty.


They healed a broken land.


My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with a sacred oath.


Before God and all of you I give you my word.


I will always level with you.


I will defend the Constitution.


I will defend our democracy.


I will defend America.


I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities.


Not of personal interest, but of the public good.


And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear.


Of unity, not division.


Of light, not darkness.


An American story of decency and dignity.


Of love and of healing.


Of greatness and of goodness.


May this be the story that guides us.


The story that inspires us.


The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.


We met the moment.


That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived.


That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world.


That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and generations to follow.


So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time.


Sustained by faith.


Driven by conviction.


And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.


May God bless America and may God protect our troops.


Thank you, America.

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:15:07 +0530
WhatsApp Investment tips land two people in trouble with SEBI

Mansoor Rafiq Khanda and Firoz Rafiq Khanda have landed in trouble with securities market regulator SEBI imposing a penalty of Rs. 25 lakh on them for offering trading tips through WhatsApp messages and some internet websites without registering themselves as investment advisers with SEBI.

In 2016, SEBI, upon completion of investigations against them, issued directions to impound the unlawful gains of a sum of Rs.5.04 crore. In June 2018, SEBI passed an order against the individuals directing them to return the unlawful gains along with the interest as determined by the regulator in 2016.

Both the accused filed an appeal before Securities Appellate Tribunal which was dismissed in January 2020.

"Considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, I hereby impose the monetary penalty of Rs 25,00,000 on the noticees, for not complying with the directions," said the SEBI order.

Source ians

Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:04:03 +0530
Fiscal deficit of states to hit peak of Rs 8 7 lakh cr as tax collections slide

New Delhi, Jan 20

The Covid pandemic-induced lockdown and consequent slump in economic activity will hit tax collections of states and result in a near four-fold expansion in their revenue deficits this fiscal, year-on-year, ratings agency Crisil said in a report.

With this, the states' aggregate gross fiscal deficit (GFD) will not only get expanded to an all-time high of Rs 8.7 lakh crore, or 4.7 per cent of GSDP, but also skew its composition towards revenue deficit which is relatively less value-accretive towards future tax potential, the report said.

Though tax collections are expected to improve slowly with improving economic outlook, higher interest burden because of high debt funding of this year's GFD, coupled with sticky revenue expenditures, may keep revenue deficits high for states and GFD composition skewed over the next 2-3 years. This will, in turn, increase the credit risk for states.

It may be noted that the Centre had already given extra leeway to states this year to borrow to meet all expenditure requirements. An additional borrowing limit of 2 per cent over and above 3 per cent of gross state domestic product (GSDP) already allowed had been provided to states. This has already pushed up debt burden on states.

A CRISIL Ratings study of 18 states, which account for 90 per cent of aggregate gross state domestic product (GSDP), indicates as much.

Says Manish Gupta, Senior Director, CRISIL Ratings Ltd, "Composition of GFD, apart from its level, is one of the critical indicators of credit quality of states. Higher contribution of capital expenditure (capex) in a state's GFD composition is viewed positively as it supports capital formation, which improves the state's tax potential. In this fiscal, revenue deficit of states would contribute 70 per cent of GFD, sharply higher than the average 15 per cent seen over the past five fiscals."

That is because of 15 per cent year-on-year decline in revenue this fiscal. Revenue expenditures may also remain sticky as these are either committed (related to salaries, pension and interest costs), making it difficult to cut, or have been necessitated by the pandemic (such as grants-in-aid, medical and labour welfare related expenses). High revenue deficit will also compel states to moderate their capex to remain within fiscal borrowing limits, thereby aggravating the GFD skew.

To fund this expanded and skewed GFD, states are likely to borrow more this year. This will increase their indebtedness, but not contribute much towards future tax potential. We expect revenue collections to - at best - reach close to pre-pandemic levels next fiscal, factoring in unlocking that began in July 2020 and our forecast of real GDP growth of 10 per cent for India next fiscal, the report said.

Ankit Hakhu, Director, CRISIL Ratings Ltd, said "The rising interest obligations due to higher indebtedness coupled with modest revenue collections will weaken interest cover of the states to 5-6 times over the medium term from 7.7 times in fiscal 2020. Further, while states' capex is expected to rise next year within the available fiscal space, its impact on tax potential will only be visible in subsequent years."

Meanwhile, high and sticky revenue expenditures will continue to skew the GFD composition, with revenue deficit contributing to 30-40 per cent of GFD over next few years, higher that the average of fiscals 2016-20. This skewed GFD composition, along with weak interest cover, will constrain the credit outlook for the states.

A strong and sustained revival in tax collections going forward and ability of states to step up capex to rebalance the composition of GFD will remain key monitorables.

GFD is primarily composed of capex, net lending and revenue deficit.


Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:36:02 +0530
Equity indices rise Sensex above 49 600

Mumbai, Jan 20

The key Indian equity indices rose on Wednesday morning with the BSE Sensex gaining over 200 points.

The index was trading above the 49,600 mark.

Healthy buying was witnessed in auto and IT stocks.

Around 10 a.m., Sensex was trading at 49,603.64, higher by 205.35 points or 0.42 per cent from its previous close of 49,398.29.

It opened at 49,508.79 and has touched an intra-day high of 49,604.46 and a low of 49,373.68

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 14,580.15, higher by 59 points or 0.41 per cent from its previous close.

Tech Mahindra, HCL Technologies and Infosys were the top gainers on the Sensex so far, while the major losers were NTPC, Power Grid and IndusInd.

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:34:06 +0530
Not documenting my camera reflects upon farmers agitation Diwan Manna

New Delhi, Jan 20

He says that ever since the farmers agitation reached Delhis doorstep, a peculiar restlessness refused to let go of him. But as soon as visuals of families camping in tractor-trolleys overpowered television screens and newspaper pages, he knew it was time to pick the camera and take the first road out to the Singhu border.

For conceptual photographer Diwan Manna, a National Academy Award winner whose works are in the permanent collection of Museum of Asian Art (Berlin, Germany) and Museum of Modern Art (Saint Etienne, France) apart from other institutions, the fact that the working class was feeling let down and forced to stay in inhospitable conditions pushed him to start photographing them. "How can an artist ignore a movement of this magnitude? There are no barriers -- religious, social, political or that of class. It is as if the Utopian society has suddenly sprung up. I am clear, my aim is not to document but reflect upon what is happening around. In my mind, it is a statement."

Manna, who is known to combine photography with painting, body arts and acting to create works feels that art assumes an important role in any mass movement. "As artists, we cannot find solutions, but definitely become a mirror for the present with an insight for the future."

For him, the most striking aspect about the protests has been the fact that the movement has brought about the best in everybody. "Let's be honest, we are not as close knit a society as we try to pretend to be. They are caste, regional and religious biases. Over there, the leadership of the villages have not fallen in these traps. I just hope they are able to carry some of it back home. And the takers of most of the stuff that is being given away there are the locals, and not farmers. They may or may not be in support of the farmers, but that has not stopped the latter from their seva bhav."

Talk to him about the participation by the urban population in the protests, and the artist feels that in contemporary times one cannot really classify them sharply. "It's much more fluid now. Children from villages are working in urban centers, many are in the Police and the Army. Urban population has roots in villages. One cannot discount the guilt people might feel sitting in comfortable quilts while thousands are out during these harsh winters."

Stressing that over the past few decades there has been a drastic change in how we conceive 'art', Manna feels that it is no longer a piece of aesthetics or tool to enhance beauty. "It is essentially political, not just in India but across the world. Many artists are actively participating in these protests, and are activists as well. Artists are also thinkers, much concerned about the society and not cocooned in their studios. They read, watch films, and are constantly in touch with different events happening in the world, scientific developments and socio-political scenes around them. And they react."

Adding that he has not thought about a book or exhibition once the agitations are open, Manna plans to keep doing more work on the protests. "If a serious body of work emerges, I will plan something. But I am not working towards a goal. This is a one of its kind protest in the world which has gone beyond non-violence -- encompassing seva in its fold."

While his purpose may not be to document the agitation, Manna does feel that it is an important aspect considering Indians have been extremely lethargic about documenting "A photograph is something you can never deny. Not just a proof, it stirs too. It is really heartening and encouraging that very senior and serious people besides youngsters are documenting these protests."

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:31:50 +0530
Thailand Open Prannoy battles chest shoulder pain to stun Christie

Bangkok, Jan 20

India's HS Prannoy battled pain in his ribs and a potential dislocation on his left shoulder to stun Indonesia's world number seven Jonathan Christie in the first round of the Toyota Thailand Open Super 1000 badminton tournament on Wednesday.

Prannoy recovered from a game down to beat sixth seed Christie 18-21 21-16 23-21 in a match that lasted an hour and 15 minutes.

Prannoy had been diagnosed with Covid-19 two months ago and said after the match that the pain in his rib cage was due to a muscle strain caused by coughing continuously. The shoulder pain came from a fall during a rally that gave Christie match point. However, he fought back from that position and went all the way to win the match.

"I haven't practised the last five days. The rib has been paining pretty badly post-Covid, but we've been trying all sorts of things (to heal it). Probably it got inflamed and the muscles inside are strained because I had continuous cough. I'll have to go back and check. There's been no practice at all," said Prannoy.

About his shoulder, Prannoy said he felt it getting dislocated but it fell back in place. "I thought it went off but luckily it fell back in place. I thought the fall was bad; hopefully nothing will happen. But these things might start hurting after a few hours," he said.

This was Prannoy's first win against Christie in five attempts.

Meanwhile, women's doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy lost 21-11, 21-19 to Germany's Linda Efler and Isable Herttrich.

World championship bronze medallist Sai Praneeth was forced to withdraw from his first round match against Malaysia's Daren Lew, and the rest of the tournament, after testing positive for Covid-19. Former world no.1 Kidambi Srikanth, who was set to play his second round match against Denmark's Anders Antonsen on Thursday, also had to withdraw and go into quarantine as he was in close contact with Praneeth.

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:28:30 +0530
Kangana Ranaut s Twitter account restricted temporarily

Mumbai, Jan 20

Actress Kangana Ranaut on Wednesday tweeted that her Twitter account has been restricted temporarily. 

This comes after she made controversial remarks about "Tandav" creators through a post. In the now-deleted tweet, Kangana had said that it was "time to take their heads off", for allegedly insulting Hindu gods in the web series.

Now, the actress has slammed the "liberal community" who reported her account to Twitter, going on to call Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey "chacha".

"Librus cried to their chacha @jack  and got my account temporarily restricted," she wrote. 

She continued: "They are threatening me mera account/virtual identity kabhi bhi desh keliye shaheed ho sakti hai,magar my reloaded desh bhakt version will reappear through my movies.Tumhara jeena dushwar karke rahungi.(They are threatening me that my account and my virtual identity might get martyred for the country anytime. But my reloaded patriotic spirit will reappear through my movies. I will make your life miserable."

"Tandav" has come under fire with several people alleging that it provokes communal disharmony and hurts the sentiments of the Hindus. According to the complaints, a scene featuring Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub performing a college play insults the Hindu deity Shiv. 

Show creator Ali Abbas Zafar has apologised on behalf of the entire cast and crew, saying they did not intend to offend anyone or insult any religion and political party. They have even said that they will make changes in the content "to address concerns".

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:20:09 +0530
No US administration can ignore Pakistan FM Qureshi

Islamabad, Jan 20

Ahead of a change in the US administration, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the country cannot be ignored and strongly believes that no administration can ignore the country.

The Foreign Minister, while speaking to Geo TV, said that a new world is being established out of which new priorities are coming forward. He added that Pakistan and the incoming US administration have a lot of "commonalties".

"Challenges will be there. I'm not saying they won't be there. We have to face the facts, but I believe Pakistan has a lot to offer," said Qureshi, adding that Pakistan is an important country of the region.

"Pakistan cannot be ignored and I do think that that no administration will ignore Pakistan," said Qureshi.

To a question about what Pakistan expects, Qureshi said the people being nominated by President-elect Joe Biden are those who know about Pakistan. He also shared that he had the opportunity to work with them when the Democrats were in power last.

"They understand the region very well," remarked Qureshi.

The foreign minister told the hosts that Biden, during his time as a senator, was a "well-respected" member of the foreign relations committee.

"He has a very clear opinion about Pakistan and South Asia," said Qureshi. He also mentioned that Pakistan and the US have a convergence of interest in Afghanistan.

"There are many areas where the Imran Khan government and Biden government have a common interest," said Pakistan's top diplomat. He shared the examples of climate change and the COVAX initiative.
The foreign minister, when asked about US-India ties, said that the incoming administration will help Pakistan in providing relief to the people in occupied Kashmir.

"There is one silver lining which is that this administration has a clear point of view on human rights," said Qureshi while mentioning the "deteriorating" human rights situation in occupied Kashmir.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan is expecting the incoming administration to help Islamabad in "providing relief" to the Kashmiris from the military siege in occupied Kashmir.

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 14:34:23 +0530
Centre convenes all party meet on Jan 30 ahead of Budget session

New Delhi, Jan 20

The Modi government has called an all-party meeting on January 30 to hold discussions ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1.

The Centre has invited leaders of all political parties in both the Houses to the proposed meeting slated to begin at 11.30 am through videoconference. Sources said the National Democratic Alliance parties too will meet on the same day.

Parliament's Budget session will be held in two phseses amid all precautions against coronavirus -- from January 29 to February 15, and from March 8 to April 8.

The all-party meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP's Rajya Sabha leader Thawarchand Gehlot, Deputy Leader Piyush Goyal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muralitharan.

The one-hour Question Hour has been restored in the Budget session, which was suspended during the Monsoon session in September 2020 during corona pandemic.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Tuesday that corona tests for members attending the Parliament session will be mandatory.


Wed, 20 Jan 2021 10:47:01 +0530
Tesla may set base in Gujarat

World’s leading electric car manufacturer Tesla recently announced its India entry with an R&D unit in Bangalore. Tesla would begin selling its cars in 2021 starting with its highest selling Model 3 followed by the premium Model S and Model X, next year.

Meanwhile, Gujarat, which has been a preferred destination for global automotive companies, is wooing Tesla to set up base in the state. Tesla officials are holding talks with few state governments including Gujarat for its India operations. Gujarat government is ready to extend all possible incentives and assistance for the company to set up its bas in the state.

An official privy to the developments told media that Gujarat is a recognized automobile hub, many vehicle battery manufacturers are based in Gujarat and the state government is hopeful that Tesla like other automobile companies would prefer Gujarat for its operations.

Tesla which has a registered office in Bangalore hasn’t yet revealed the prices for Indian market. Industry analysts said that Tesla’s entry could be a game changer for the Indian e-vehicle market, spur new mobility startups and fasten the development of electric vehicle infrastructure in the country.

In terms of geography, Gujarat is strategically placed with access to ports and all major markets in India. As per India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) report electric vehicle market is likely to reach 63 lakh unit mark by 2027 and the demand for batteries is going to increase during the period. All these developments bode well for electric vehicle manufacturers in India the long run.

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 08:52:45 +0530
IT Ministry directs WhatsApp to withdraw new privacy policy

Ministry of Electronics and IT has raised concerns over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and has directed the messenger platform to withdraw the same. In a strongly worded letter to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, the ministry has slammed WhatsApp’s "all or nothing" approach.

The letter noted that the proposed changes to the privacy policy raise "grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens."

The new policy announced earlier this month asked users to agree to the new terms by February 8. It said that not agreeing to the new terms would lead to a loss of access to their accounts. The sudden move sparked a lot of criticism across quarters and the demand for other messaging apps surged overnight.

A petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court against WhatsApp. On Saturday, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) filed a plea urging the top court to direct the platform to withdraw its new privacy policy.

Amidst intense criticism worldwide, the Facebook-owned platform has deferred its new data privacy policy by three months.

Source: ians

Wed, 20 Jan 2021 08:30:04 +0530
Kashmiris to move SC for probe into 1989 90 genocide

Roots in Kashmir, an organization representing the minority Kashmiri Pandits will move the Supreme Court of India to seek redressal into the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley in 1989-90. Thirty-two years have passed since the genocide.

A bench headed by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar on July 24, 2017, had declined to entertain a review petition filed by the Pandits. The top court had noted that instances referred to in the petition pertained to 1989-90 and more than 27 years have passed since then. No fruitful purpose would be served as there will not be any evidence at this late juncture, it had said.

"We are filing a curative petition with a hope that the courts will appreciate that it erred in 2017. That it opened Sikh riot cases much older than the Kashmiri Pandit genocide," said Amit Raina of Roots of Kashmir.

The organisation has argued that the top court on August 21, 2017, reopened and ordered further investigation into 241 cases closed by the SIT in connection with anti-Sikh riot cases and "this amounts to discrimination".

Raina contends that the top court formed the Mukherjee Commission to probe Netaji's death, then why can't investigations be ordered into Kashmiri Pandits' genocide.

He insisted that it will be significant step in the fight for justice for the community members, who have been pursuing this matter relentlessly to send the perpetrators to the jail. On January 19, the community observes every year as "holocaust day".

"We will also be reminding the apex court that the case against JKLF chief Yasin Malik for kidnapping Rubaiya Sayeed in 1989 and killing of 4 IAF officials in 1990 should also be reopened," said Rahul Mahanoori, a senior member in the organisation.

source: ians

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 20:50:22 +0530
No more food subsidy at Parliament canteen LS Speaker

New Delhi, Jan 19

From the upcoming Parliament session beginning this month-end, there will be no food subsidy at the Parliament canteen.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday announced the new move, saying "Food subsidy at Parliament canteen has been completely removed". Birla made the announcement addressing the media ahead of the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament that will begin from January 29.

Sources said that the savings could add up to almost Rs 17 crore annually with the removal of subsidised food at the Parliament canteen.

In the winter session of Parliament in 2019, Birla mooted a suggestion for it and the Members of Parliament unanimously decided to not avail of any subsidy at the Parliament canteen.

Birla later shared details about the time schedule of how Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will function in the upcoming session.

"Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Budget session will commence from January 29. Rajya Sabha will sit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Lok Sabha will sit from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Zero Hour and Question Hour will be held," the Speaker said.

He made it clear that all MPs will have to go through RT-PCR test before joining the Parliament session and that they have been told to undergo the mandatory Covid-19 test.

The Budget session will commence with the President's Address while the Union Budget will be presented on February 1. The session will conclude on April 8 with a recess in between from February 15 to March 8.

The President will deliver his annual address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament at 11 a.m. on January 29. The two Houses will meet separately for tabling of the President's Address.

The Economic Survey will also be tabled in both Houses in this 30-minute sitting and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget at 11 a.m. on February 1.

Covid protocols will be followed in this session on the same lines as the Monsoon session.

The session is being held at a time when the government is grappling with the farmers' agitation and vociferous demands from the opposition for the repeal of the three contentious farm laws.


Tue, 19 Jan 2021 19:11:02 +0530
Telangana s


Tue, 19 Jan 2021 11:01:36 +0530
Ibra s brace inspires 10 man Milan past Cagliari in Serie A

Rome, Jan 19

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's double helped AC Milan enjoy a 2-0 victory away to Cagliari in their latest encounter, despite Alexis Saelemaekers's red card.

With Rafael Leao suspended, and Theo Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu having tested positive for Covid-19, Milan on Monday evening started with Diogo Dalot and Jens Hauge, while Brahim Diaz roamed behind Ibrahimovic, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Rossoneri broke the deadlock just seven minutes into the game as Ibrahimovic was brought down in the box. The Swede kept his composure to convert the spot-kick.

The away side doubled the lead in the 52nd minute as Davide Calabria's cross-field ball found Ibrahimovic, who turned in from point-blank range.

The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but a VAR check overturned the decision.

The downside for the Diavolo was Saelemaekers's sending off, with the Belgian collecting two yellow cards just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Milan still lead the table with 43 points, three ahead of city rivals Inter.


Tue, 19 Jan 2021 09:36:31 +0530
Paul Bettany says his superhero avatar Vision is part Ultron part Tony Stark

New Delhi, Jan 19

Hollywood star Paul Bettany says his superhero avatar, Vision, has always been part Tony Stark, or Iron Man, and part Ultron.

Bettany is reprising his superhero character in the series "WandaVision".

"I was worried initially. I was like, ‘Wow, this feels so different' as I read the script and (thought) how do I keep him the same," Bettany said while talking about the series.

"And then I realised he has always been becoming something else. He is part J.A.R.V.I.S.. He is part Ultron. He is part Tony Stark. He is omnipotent... Then I realised, I will just throw a little bit of Dick Van Dyke in there and a little bit of Hugh Laurie," he added.

The Marvel Studios series also brings back Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff. The two super-powered beings will be seen trying to adapt to their suburban lives as a married couple. The series blends the style of classic sitcoms with MCU thrills. The series, directed by Matt Shakman, streams on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.


Tue, 19 Jan 2021 09:33:27 +0530
Melania Trump asks to choose love over hatred in farewell speech

Washington, Jan 19

With just one day left for Joe Biden to be inaugurated as the 46th President of the US, outgoing First Lady Melania Trump bode farewell to the nation, asking every American to "always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself".

She made the remarks in a six and a half-minute video message posted on the White House website on Monday night.

Trump begins her message by saying that it had been "the greatest honour of my life to serve as First Lady of the United States".

"The past four years have been unforgettable. As (outgoing President) Donald and I conclude our time in the White House, I think of all the people I have taken home in my heart and their incredible stories of love, patriotism, and determination," she says.

"To every service member and to our incredible military families: You are heroes, and you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

"I think of all the members of law enforcement who greet us wherever we go. At every hour of every day, they stand guard to keep our communities safe, and we are forever in their debt," Trump adds.

Regarding the raging coronavirus pandemic, Trump urges "all Americans to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable as millions of vaccines are now being delivered".

"I thank all the nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals, manufacturing workers, truck drivers, and so many others who are working to save lives."

As First Lady, Trump had launched the 'Be Best' initiative, and according to her it "has concentrated on three pillars: well-being, online safety, and opioid abuse".

"In a few short years, I have raised awareness of how to keep children safe online; we have made incredible progress on our nation's drug epidemic and how it impacts the lives of newborns and families, and we have given a voice to our most vulnerable children in the foster care system.

"Internationally, 'Be Best' has evolved into a platform that encourages world leaders to discuss issues impacting the lives of children and allows them to share solutions. It has been an honour to represent the American people abroad," she says.

In conclusion, Trump asks the people "to focus on what unites us. To rise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself".

"to all the people of this country: You will be in my heart forever. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."


Tue, 19 Jan 2021 09:30:36 +0530
South Central Railway s frontline staff receive Covid vaccine

Secunderabad, Jan 19

The South Central Railway (SCR) zone has jabbed the first shots of Coronavirus vaccine on its frontline staff at the central railway hospital in Lallaguda, Secunderabad on Monday.

"The first shots were given to healthcare staff like doctors, nurses and housekeeping staff," said a railway zone official.

According to the railway zone officials, the frontline staff discharged yeoman service during the Coronavirus pandemic, putting their physical, mental and social wellbeing at stake.

"Due to their dedicated service, the healthcare staff of the zone are the first to be given Covid vaccination doses, as part of the nationwide Covid vaccine drive to the frontline healthcare personnel," he said.

The zonal railway hospital received 593 doses of Coronavirus vaccine in coordination with the state and central governments.

"These vaccine shots will be given to all healthcare staff belonging to the health units (railway) of Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Chilkalguda, Kacheguda and Moula-Ali over a period of six days," said the official.

The railway zone's General Manager Gajanan Mallya was present at the hospital on Monday when the first shots were being jabbed and expressed happiness over the development.

After lauding the frontline staff, Mallya conducted an extensive inspection of the hospital, including interacting with patients about its services.

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 09:28:12 +0530
India s Budget to Promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat

Sources have said that the upcoming budget would be domestic friendly with the union government considering hiking import duties for items such as smartphones, electronic components and appliances, etc.

This is keeping in line with the Government of India’s campaign for a self-reliant India and promotes indigenous manufacturing. As discussions are not public, sources declined to comment further.

Industry analysts said that the government plans to increase revenue from $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion with this move to provide a breather to the country’s economy which was severely stung by the Covid-19 outbreak, lockdown and the general slowdown of economy.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to unveil India’s new budget on February 1 which will come into effect from the new financial year that starts on April 1.

However, none of the decisions are finalized yet and sources said that there may still be last minute changes.

The union government had last year announced various stimulus measures to promote India as a destination for local manufacturing and the union budget is expected to promote it further, industry analysts feel.

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 07:46:56 +0530
Best Performing Third Quarter Mindtree CEO

Global technology services and digital transformation company Mindtree released a statement saying that the third quarter ended December 31, 2020 was the best one in recent years.

"Our third quarter has by far been the best performing in recent years backed by broad-based revenue growth of 5 per cent across our verticals and service lines, robust margin expansion of 350bps, and a healthy order book of $312 million," said Debashis Chatterjee, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mindtree.

"We are witnessing strong business momentum across all verticals with a significant demand for cloud, data and analytics capabilities. We continue to capitalize on the evolving market dynamics with solutions that help enterprises navigate the new normal and grow their businesses. Thanks to the strategic focus and hard work of our Mindtree Minds, we are now well positioned to continue delivering profitable growth."

For the quarter ended December 2020, revenue was at $274.1 million (growth of 5 quarter on quarter and decline of 0.4 per cent year on year. Net profit was at $44.2 million, a growth of 28.6 per cent quarter on quarter and 59.3 per cent year on year.

Mindtree has 276 active clients with 8 new clients being added during the quarter.

Source: IANS

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 07:30:05 +0530
Anti Cow Slaughter Law comes into effect in Karnataka

Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa has announced that anti-cow slaughter law has come into effect in Karnataka after offering 'Go Pooja' on the penultimate day on nine-day long Brahmakalashostva rituals at Karamaballi Sri Venkatramana Temple in Karamballi.

I declare here that not a single cow from today will be allowed to slaughter in the state. This was the people's demand and Karnataka has fulfilled it by this Act, the Chief Minister was quoted as having said.

Karnataka released the order effecting the amended Act to come into force.

Key features of the amended act:

The state government will appoint a competent authority - which will not be below the rank of Veterinary Officer, for a local area under this Act. He will be deemed as a public servant. No suit, prosecution or legal proceedings can be instituted against him for exercising powers under this Act.

No person shall slaughter, offer or cause to slaughter, intentionally kill or offer or cause to slaughter cattle. Sale, purchase or disposal of cattle for slaughter too has been prohibited.

No person can transport cattle for slaughtering. Transportation only for bonafide agricultural or animal husbandry purposes allowed.

Police officers, not below the rank of sub-inspector, can inspect and seize cattle and materials if they believe an offence is being committed under this Act.

After seizure, a report will be filed with the sub-divisional magistrate, who may release the seized material except cattle, on production of Bank guarantee equal to value estimated by him. He may also sell confiscated premises in a public auction, if he deems so.

The government may deem any court as a special court for speedy disposal of disputes under this Act.

Any person aggrieved by an order under this Act may appeal to a Sessions judge within 30 days on receiving such an order

Penalties under this Act:

A convicted person will be sentenced to three-seven years of imprisonment, and or a fine of Rs 50,000 upto Rs 5 lakh. In case of repeat offence, fine will be Rs 1 lakh upto Rs 10 lakh, with the prison term extending upto seven years.

Anyone abetting an accused with an offence will also be punished under the same offence.

All offences are cognizable and an accused's seized cattle and materials will be given to state government upon conviction.

Exceptions to the Act:

Cattle operated on for vaccine lymph, serum or experimental purposes are exempted.

Slaughter of cattle certified by a veterinary officer in the interest of public health exempted.

Cattle which is suffering from disease and is deemed terminally ill is exempted.

Source: IANS

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 07:21:24 +0530
Hero Motors Company buys stake in Hewland Engineering

Hero Motors has acquired a strategic stake in UK's transmission design technology leader Hewland Engineering Ltd. The company however did not reveal the exact transaction amount of the acquisition.

The company told that the acquisition will enable Hero Motors to create a competitive single source entity to design and manufacture high quality transmission products, particularly in the emerging EV segment, to OEMs across North America, Europe and India.

It will also enable Hewland to further strengthen its product and service portfolio, particularly in the area of transmissions for electrified passenger cars, and aggressively pursue opportunities among global OEMs and Tier One suppliers, said the statement.

We are continuing to invest in the UK, as it is a significant hub for our EV- and cycle-focused activities in particular, as well as for Hewland's established motorsport customer base," said Pankaj M Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director at Hero Motors Company.

Source: IANS

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 07:01:07 +0530
Ex NSEL CEO Anjani Sinha arrested

Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police has arrested former CEO of National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) Anjani Sinha for fictitious trading on the exchange and for creating false stocks.

In the year 2015 the EOW had registered a case on a broker’s complaint against Sinha and others. The police arrested the ex-CEO of NSEL on Sunday after conducting multiple raids at various locations.

Sinha was produced in a Borivali court and sent to remand and would be brought to New Delhi to be produced in the jurisdictional court.

In 2013, NSEL had defaulted on payments worth of Rs 5,600 crore in which about 22 borrowers had received money which they did not return to the investors.

"The NSEL crisis was an engineered crisis. Though it was solvable, it was not solved with a view to throwing 63 Moons Technologies out of the exchange business. All the probe agencies like the ED, the CBI, the EOW-Mumbai, and SFIO have traced the entire money trail of Rs 5,600 crore to the 22 defaulting entities and their investigations established that not a single paisa has come to NSEL, 63 Moons or its founder," said a spokesperson of the NSEL.

"Even the Bombay High Court has observed that the entire money trail is with the 22 defaulting entities. Despite this, all targeted actions have been concentrated against NSEL, 63 Moons and its founder, who are actually the biggest sufferers and victims. Such victimisation and motivated action notwithstanding, they have been trying to earnestly resolve the crisis," the NSEL spokesperson added.

The crisis-hit NSEL has also urged market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to resolve the Rs 5,600 crore payment crisis in the larger interest of the investors.

Source: IANS

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 06:14:45 +0530
Google providing 53 bn in benefits to businesses in Australia

Sydney, Jan 18

Fighting the Australian government over its news media bargaining code, Google has announced it providing businesses and users with a combined $53 billion in benefits every year in the country.

The Google's '2020 Economic Impact Report' said that 1.3 million businesses receive $39 billion in benefits through increased revenues, millions of connections with customers and greater efficiencies, saving time and money.

"Consumers receive $14 billion in benefits via productivity, convenience and access to information," Mel Silva, VP, Google Australia & New Zealand, said in a statement late on Sunday.

The company said Search saves users almost 5 days a year and drivers save 5.6 hours per year using Google Maps.

"Australian app developers earned $639 million through Google Play reaching one billion users globally. Sixty per cent go to small to medium businesses while 90 per cent of benefits go to non-technology industries," the report mentioned.

The report is another example why Google's presence in Australia is beneficial for the businesses as the company claims it makes less money from news content -- $10 million (Australian) in revenue in 2019.

The bargaining code, according to the Austalian government, is necessary to address the fundamental bargaining power imbalances between news media businesses and major digital platforms.

For Google, it's "unfair and unworkable".

"As our report demonstrates, there are now more than 1.3 million businesses in Australia using Google's free tools and services-to reach new customers, advertise effectively where they couldn't before and make use of new digital skills," Silva said.

Google's products also provided $14 billion in annual benefits to consumers through increased productivity, convenience and improved access to information.

Flagging lack of transparency around the algorithms that Google and Facebook use to display ads and news, Australia's consumer watchdog in December said that the tech giants need to be monitored closely so that they do not abuse their power.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended a mechanism for monitoring how the major tech companies rank and display ads and news content.

In a report, the ACCC argued that the dominance of platforms like Facebook and Google -- who derive a vast majority of their revenue from advertising -- demands increased regulatory oversight.


Mon, 18 Jan 2021 16:50:51 +0530
Peer support may be more beneficial to teens with anxiety

New York, Jan 18

One in three parents strongly support schools having mental health programmes like peer support leaders, a new poll suggests.

The poll indicates that an estimated one in five teenagers has symptoms of a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety and suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens.

But the first person a teen confides in may not always be an adult -- they may prefer to talk to another teen.

"Peers may provide valuable support for fellow teens struggling with emotional issues because they can relate to each other," Sarah Clark from the University of Michigan in the US, said in a statement.

"Some teens may worry that their parents will overreact or not understand what they are going through. Teachers and school counsellors may also have limited time to talk with students in the middle of other responsibilities," Clark added.

According to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine, three-quarters of parents in a new national poll think peers better understand teen challenges, compared to teachers or counsellors in the school.

The majority also agree that peer support leaders at school would encourage more teens to talk with someone about their mental health problems.

The poll found that 38 per cent believe if their own teen was struggling with a mental health problem, their teen would likely talk to a peer support leader and 41 per cent of parents say it's possible their teen would take advantage of this option.

Another 21 per cent said it's unlikely their child would seek support from a peer mentor.

The nationally representative poll report included responses from 1,000 parents of teens aged between 13-18 about their views on programmes like peer support leaders.


Mon, 18 Jan 2021 16:35:04 +0530
Matt Damon joins Thor Love And Thunder cast

Los Angeles, Jan 18

Hollywood star Matt Damon will soon be seen in the superhero adventure, Thor: Love And Thunder, and has moved to Australia with his family to shoot the film.

Damon has begun 14 days of privately-arranged quarantine in New South Wales, reports

"I'm so excited that my family and I will be able to call Australia home for the next few months," Damon said.

"Australian film crews are world renowned for their professionalism and are a joy to work with so the 14 days of quarantine will be well worth it," added the 50-year-old.

Damon flew to Australia with wife Luciana Barroso and children -- Isabella, 14, Gia, 12, and Stella, 10 -- on a private jet over the weekend.

"Australia definitely is the lucky country," said "The Good Will Hunting" star, and thanked the Australian Government for the "enormous support" regarding his entry into the country.

Damon had a small cameo in "Thor: Ragnarok" as an Asgardian actor playing Loki in a play. However, it is not clear if he is reprising the role for the superhero film or will appear in a new role.

He joins the existing cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson and Christian Bale. Plot details of the new Thor film have been kept under wraps.

Mon, 18 Jan 2021 16:32:01 +0530
Corona Warriors from Mumbai North East felicitated by Governor

The Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari today felicitated doctors, social workers, municipal and police officer, police constable, auto rikshaw driver and journalists from North East Mumbai at a felicitation of Corona Warriors held at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai.


The felicitation of Corona Warriors was organized by the Shri Mulund Yuvak Prerana Trust under the leadership of Member of Parliament Manoj Kotak. Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Pravin Darekar was also present.


Speaking on the occasion, Governor Koshyari said Indian culture regards service to others as the true religion - ‘Seva Paramo Dharma’. He said even the poorest of the poor person in India has an inherent urge to help those in need.


Congratulating the Covid – 19 Warriors, the Governor said, India tackled the Covid – 19 pandemic much better than other countries because of the spirit of service and compassion displayed by its doctors, nurses, social workers and ordinary citizens. The Governor said India can tackle even a bigger calamity than the Covid 19 pandemic on the strength of the compassion, empathy and the feeling of cooperation of the people.


Superintendent of the Rajawadi Hospital Ghatkopar Dr Vidya Thakur, OSD for COVID Control, MCGM Dr Seema Malik, NMMC Hospital Vashi’s Dr Kajol Sunil Bhadave, Social Worker – Dr Rita Singh, Chest Physician Dr Tejal Shah, DCP Zone 7 Prashant Kadam, Police Constable Pant Nagar Police Station Taufique Ibrahim Babu Tambe, office bearer of Rang Manch Kamgar Sangh Ratnakant Jagtap, President of Bhandupeshwar Mantir Trust Manoj Soni, Social Wokrker Balkrishna Bane, Trustee of Bhatiawadi Trust Ghatkopar Haren Merchant, CCorporateor Warnd no 130 Smt Bindu Trivedi, Nodal Officer MCGM M East Ward SHivshankar Kocharekar, Junior Overseer MCGM Pravin Kawade, President Jain Jagruti Centre Mulund Naresh Doshi, President Lions Club Mulund Pritesh Maishiri, Auto Riksha Driver Ashik Kumar Ramashray Rai, Mee Bhandupkar Trustee Kiran Gaichor, Social Worker Sushil Sahani and Shriram Jangam and Journalist Zee News Nityanand Sharma and Journalist TV – 9 Bharat Varsha Ashwini Kumar Pandey were felicitated at the hands of the Governor.

Mon, 18 Jan 2021 16:27:25 +0530
Australia 149 4 at lunch on fourth day ahead by 182 runs

Brisbane, Jan 18

Australia went to lunch at 149 for four in their second innings on the fourth day of the fourth and final Test against India. They are 182 runs ahead.

Steve Smith is batting on 28 and Cameron Green on four.

Australia began well with both openers David Warner and Marcus adding 68 more to the overnight 21 without loss. However, both fell in the space of an over. Harris was caught behind for 38 off the bowling of Shardul Thakur and an over later Warner was out leg before to Washington Sundar.

Mohammed Siraj then got the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Matthew Wade in one over to peg Australia back further.

But Steve Smith raced along to a 38-ball 28 to lead Australia to lunch without further damage.

Australia have already scored 22 boundaries and chugged along at 3.63 runs per over in the second innings as they look for quick runs before declaration.

Brief scores Australia 369 and 149/4 (D Warner 48, M Harris 38, S Smith batting 28, M Siraj 2/37) vs India 336.

Mon, 18 Jan 2021 10:24:56 +0530
Israeli flag carrier to resume domestic flights

Tel Aviv, Jan 18

Israeli flag carrier, El Al has announced that it will resume domestic flights between the Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv and the Red Sea resort city of Eilat.

This is the only domestic regular flight route in Israel, on which El Al stopped flying in November 2013 for security reasons, reports Xinhua news agency.

Since then, only Israir and Arkia airlines have been operating on the route from Tel Aviv to Israel's southernmost city.

El Al thus announced that it will temporarily resume flights on the Tel Aviv-Eilat route, as soon as the ongoing full Covid-19 lockdown in Israel ends.

The company said in a statement issued on Sunday that "the flights will allow to enjoy a warm vacation in Eilat while showing support for local tourism industry and strengthening the city and its airport amid the coronavirus crisis".

Mon, 18 Jan 2021 10:20:42 +0530
Mamata is Islamic terrorist UP Minister

Lucknow, Jan 18

UP Minister Anand Swaroop Shukla has called Mamata Banerjee an 'Islamic terrorist' and claimed the West Bengal Chief Minister will have to take refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh when the assembly elections in her state gets over.

Shukla, who is Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, has also alleged that Banerjee 'does not believe in Bharatiyata (Indianness)' and has insulted Hindu gods and goddesses.

"She is an Islamic terrorist. She has worked to break the temples and insult gods and goddesses in West Bengal. She is acting at the behest of Bangladesh," the minister told a select group of journalists on Sunday.

"Mamata Banerjee will be defeated badly in the assembly polls, after which she will have to take refuge in Bangladesh," Shukla added, referring to the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal.

The minister also added the Muslims who say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram' will be honoured in the country.

The assembly polls in West Bengal are due in April and the BJP is working to wrest power in the state.

Mon, 18 Jan 2021 10:18:13 +0530
Playing in I League is next level for us Nepal s Kiran Limbu

New Delhi, Jan 17

The RoundGlass Punjab FC squad boasts of a number of accomplished names, one of them being 30-year-old goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu, who is the skipper of the Nepal senior national team and has plenty of I-League experience under his belt, which includes lifting the trophy in the 2017-18 season.

"In the South Asia region, the level of league football in India is better than the other neighbouring countries and there is more exposure here. Getting the proposal to join a Hero I-League club is like playing at the next level and I'm here to give my best for my team. Till now it's been a very good experience to play in the I-League," he said in a conversation with

The side from Punjab began their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Aizawl FC, with Limbu keeping a clean sheet, before losing the lead to go down to Gokulam Kerala FC 4-3 in their second encounter. The custodian highlighted the 'competitive' nature of the league and stated that his team is aiming to improve in their next game.

"Before the league started, we knew that the Hero I-League is very competitive. Every match is a tough battle. The first game was really important and we started really well and won it. Unfortunately, in the second match, we had the lead but could not hold on to it and win. This is part and parcel of the game. We have to improve in the next match and go forward," Limbu expressed.

"Winning the Hero I-League title means a lot to me and it's a great achievement in my career. It gave me a lot of confidence and it motivates me to do more in the future. Every match in this league is really competitive and I am here to help my team to be the champions," he added.

Limbu also spoke about his desire to see more Nepali players ply their trade in India in the coming years and hoped that his performances can help open windows of opportunity for his compatriots.

"It certainly feels nice to see Nepali players in India. The more they get the chance to play here, the better it is for them and for the upcoming generation of players. I hope to see in the future that 6-7 players get the opportunity to play in India. It will be really good for us and the national team too."

"If I perform well and help my team win the Hero I-League, the door will definitely open for more Nepali players. I try my best in every match and every year to play well here and try to open the door for other players from my country," he added.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:48:03 +0530
Xiaomi releases list of 27 devices scheduled to get MIUI 12 5

Beijing, Jan 17

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi's next version of in-house Android-based skin MIUI 12.5 will be released to 27 select devices via OTA update.

The device includes Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro, Mi 10 Extreme Commemorative Edition, Mi 10 Youth Edition, along with other K series and Note series smartphones, reports GizmoChina.

As expected, the update will be pushed to the models in China first but Xiaomi has promised to deliver MIUI 12.5 Beta for global units.

MIUI 12.5 has been claimed to be a better version of MIUI and the new operating system is said to be better than the previous MIUI versions.

There are rumours that it will provide improved privacy settings, including informing apps of the approximate location of a device.

MIUI 12.5 is also expected to introduce several animation changes to the default launcher and power menu, among others, along with a redesigned volume menu and Cleaner app.


Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:45:57 +0530
Disha Patani indulges in some jalebis

Mumbai, Jan 17

Bollywood actress and fitness enthusiast Disha Patani has ditched her diet meals as she gorged on some jalebis on Sunday, going by her social media post.

Disha posted a picture of a plate full of jalebis on her Instagram Stories.

On the image, she wrote: "My dear jalebi, you're mine today."

She also shared a selfie on the photo-sharing website and captioned it with a pink flower emoji.

Disha will next be seen in "Radhe", co-starring Salman Khan and Randeep Hooda. The film is directed by Prabhudeva.

She is also looking forward to reuniting with filmmaker Mohit Suri on the set of their next film, "Ek Villain 2". The actress has earlier collaborated with Mohit on their 2020 film "Malang".

Disha will also be seen in "KTina", produced by Ekta Kapoor. The film also features Akshay Oberoi and Sunny Singh.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:43:56 +0530
Budgetary hopes Q3 earnings to chart equities course Market Outlook

Mumbai, Jan 17

Global cues along with domestic quarterly earning results and progress of the vaccine rollout programme will determine the trajectory of the Indian equities markets during the coming week.

Besides, volatile is expected to rise in the run-up to the Union Budget FY22 and high value proposition.

"The Nifty has given the first signs of reversing after a steep rise. Deteriorating advance decline ratio has also raised concerns over the last few days of the possibility of a formation of a short term top. 14,653-14,215 points are supported for the Nifty for the coming week," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

"Stock specific moves will continue based on results and other developments."

The week ahead will be heavily influenced by Q3FY21 corporate earnings as companies like Asian Paints, HDFC Bank, Mindtree, Hindustan Zinc and Mphasis are expected to announce their quarterly results.

"Banking and Finance sector will be in focus as major Banks and NBFCs are to release their quarterly results," said Geojit Financial Services' Head of Research Vinod Nair.

"The market can be volatile going forward, including concerns over the Union Budget. We suggest investors consider partial profit booking," said Nair.

According to Siddhartha Khemka, Head, Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services: "Next week, we would see a lot of macro data getting announced along with ECB, BoJ and PBoC interest rate decisions."

"As the long term market structure remains positive, we advise investors to adopt the 'Buying on Dips' strategy to accumulate quality stocks. Traders on the other hand should book profits intermittent."

Additionally, the coming week will witness the swearing-in of the new US President and some of the policy announcements of the new administration.

"The markets expect larger and more generous quantitative easing which will pave the way for more money in the hands of the people," said Joseph Thomas, Head of Research, Emkay Wealth Management.

"Domestic markets will have their sights focussed on the earnings results which has started trickling in, and which will assume a faster pace as weeks pass by. More than anything else, some of the expectations from the budget too may start getting priced in as we move into the next week."


Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:41:46 +0530
UK invites PM Modi for G7 summit

New Delhi/London, Jan 17

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited by his UK counterpart Boris Johnson to attend the G7 summit in the UK as a guest in June this year.

The summit will be held in England's Cornwall region from June 11 to 13.

Last year, US President Donald Trump had extended an invite to Prime Minister Modi for an expanded G7 meeting to discuss China.

On Sunday, an official statement issued by the British High Commission in New Delhi said that Prime Minister Johnson will use the G7 presidency to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, fairer and more prosperous future.

The G7 - UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US - along with the EU is the only forum where the world's most influential and open societies and advanced economies come together for close-knit discussions.

The UK has also invited heads of Australia and South Korea to attend as guest countries to deepen the expertise and experience around the table.

The statement said that Prime Minister Johnson's ambition is to use the G7 to intensify cooperation between the world's democratic and technologically advanced nations. Between them the 10 leaders represent over 60 per cent of people living in democracies around the world.

Describing the G7 as the most prominent group of democratic countries, Johnson said it has long been the catalyst for decisive international action to tackle the greatest challenges we face. "From cancelling developing world debt to our universal condemnation of Russia's annexation of Crimea, the world has looked to the G7 to apply our shared values and diplomatic might to create a more open and prosperous planet," he said.

Coronavirus, he said is "doubtless the most destructive force we have seen for generations and the greatest test of the modern world order we have experienced. It is only right that we approach the challenge of building back better by uniting with a spirit of openness to create a better future."

The statement said that as "the pharmacy of the world, India already supplies more than 50 per cent of the world's vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic."

Recalling that the UK was the first P5 member to support a permanent UNSC seat for India and the first G7 member to invite India to a G7 summit in 2005, the UK government said that as the current BRICS President and G20 President in 2023, India will play a key role in driving multilateral cooperation around the world.

2021 marks a crucial year of international leadership for the UK. In addition to the G7 summit, during February the UK will assume the Presidency of the UN Security Council and later this year, the UK will host COP26 in Glasgow and a global education conference aimed at getting children in the developing world into school.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:39:51 +0530
Statue of Unity attracting more tourist than even Statue of Liberty PM

New Delhi, Jan 17

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that Kevadiya in Gujarat is no longer just a small block in some remote area, it has come up as a one of the biggest tourist destinations of the world and Statue of Unity situated in the region is attracting more tourist than even Statue of Liberty, a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor within New York City in the US.

Modi was speaking after flagging off eight trains connecting different regions of the country to Kevadiya in Gujarat and inaugurating several railways related projects in the state via video conferencing.

Continuing with the development journey of Kevadiya, the Prime Minister informed that "Statue of Unity is attracting more tourist than even Statue of Liberty".

"More than 50 lakh visitor have come to see the Statue of Unity after it was dedicated to the nation and it is catching on after staying closed during the Corona months," Modi said. "It is estimated, as the connectivity improves, about one lakh visitors per day are expected in Kevadiya. Kevadiya as a good example of planned development of economy and ecology while protecting environment."

The Prime Minister said that it used to appear like a pipedream when, initially, Kevadiya was proposed as major tourist destination.

"Given the old way of working, this scepticism had a logic as there was no connectivity of roads, nor street lighting, rail, tourist accommodation. Now Kevadiya has transformed into a complete family package with all amenities. Attractions here include, grand Statue of Unity, Sardar Sarovar, vast Sardar Patel Zoological Park, Arogya Van and Jungle Safari and Poshan Park."

Modi said Kevadia also has Glow Garden, Ekta Cruise and water sports and that due to increasing tourism, Adivasi youth is getting employment and local people are getting modern amenities.

"There are new opportunities for local handicrafts items in the Ekta Mall. He also mentioned that about 200 rooms are being developed for Home Stay in the Adivasi villages."

The Prime Minister also talked about the Kevadiya Station which has been developed with growing tourism in mind, mentioning "it has Tribal Art Gallery and Viewing Gallery from where Statue of Unity can be glimpsed".

The Prime Minister dwelled at length on the transformation of Indian Railways through goal-centric effort. He said that apart from traditional role of passenger and goods transportation, railways are giving direct connectivity to places of tourism and religious importance.

Modi said many routes including Ahmedabad-Kevadiya Janshatabdi will have attractive 'Vista-Dome Coaches'

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 16:37:52 +0530
Covaxin is safe meets WHO Standards Joint Drugs Controller

Covaxin, India’s indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech is absolutely safe to use and meets World Health Organization (WHO) standards, declared S. Eswara Reddy, Joint Drugs Controller, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation.

Reddy while speaking at the JITO Professional Forum said that as per WHO the minimum efficacy of any vaccine should be 50 per cent, and if it is so then it is good to use. Reddy added, “We assure that the vaccine is safe and the efficacy (of Covaxin) is to the satisfaction.”

He further clarified that government is keeping a close watch on all those who are receiving the vaccine dose with a robust programme built to monitor the beneficiaries. Vaccination is crucial to break the chain of transmission of the virus.

Speaking on the immunity of the vaccine, he said, “It is clearly not known as to how long the immunity will last (for these vaccines).” However, the vaccines are expected to give lifelong immunity.

Citing the data involved in Covaxin approval, he said that the Phase 3 trials involved 24,000 subjects; and for Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government has UK's Phase 3 efficacy data.

Reddy also pointed out that India has the capabilities to develop 2 billion vaccine doses per annum, not only to meet domestic demands but also export the vaccine to other countries. Stressing on the efficacy of the vaccines, he said that all procedures were adhered to in the vaccination drive.

G.C. Khilnani, Chairman, pulmonary and critical care and sleep medicine, at the PSRI Hospital in Delhi was also a speaker at the event. He said that normally it takes 8 to 10 years to develop a vaccine. The Indian Covid vaccine's Phase 2 and 3 trials were combined, due to which the vaccine could be prepared in nine months.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 11:17:15 +0530
Petrol diesel prices remain static for third day in a row

Petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged for the third day in a row as oil companies decided to wait for global developments in overseas market before deciding the next course of action.

Petrol was selling at Rs. 84.70 a litre while diesel was being sold at Rs. 74.88 per litre, prices remained static across the country.

Auto fuel price rise was on hold for the last five days after petrol and diesel prices had increased on two successive days last week on Wednesday and Thursday taking gasoline to record high levels in Delhi while keeping its prices very close to record high levels in other metro cities.

Petrol prices have been a record high. At Rs. 84.70 a litre in Delhi, petrol price has breached the highest level in the national capital after October 4, 2018, when the rate had risen to Rs 84 a litre.

Oil company executives have said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with the global developments.

Source: IANS

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 11:15:18 +0530
Facebook bans weapon accessories ads as Biden takes over as US President

Social media giant, Facebook will be banning ads that promote weapon accessories and protective equipment in US at least till January 22, as Jo Biden takes over as US President on January 20.

“We already prohibit ads for weapons, ammunition and weapon enhancements like silencers. But we will now also prohibit ads for accessories such as gun safes, vests and gun holsters in the US,” Facebook said in a statement.

A group of US senators wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to “develop and execute a Facebook policy permanently prohibiting advertisements of products... primarily designed for use in lethal tactical operations and armed combat.”

As President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to be sworn into office during the 59th presidential inauguration on January 20, Facebook announced  to block the creation of any new live events in close proximity to the White House, the US Capitol building and any of the state capitol buildings.

In an update, Facebook said its teams are conducting a secondary review of all Facebook events related to the inauguration and removing ones that violate its policies. Facebook is also restricting some features for people in the US based on signals such as repeat violations of its policies.

Source: IANS

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 11:11:53 +0530
RBI calls for stricter laws for shadow banks

In a move to protect the interests of investors the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to propose stricter laws on shadow banking in India. Sources privy to the development said that this will protect sustainability of banking sector which has been under stress. Further, tightening of laws will also prevent vested interests from taking advantage, they pointed out.

India’s apex bank has been advocating stricter norms since the time Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, India’s largest NBFC became bankrupt in 2018 and in the following year in 2019, Dewan Housing Finance Corp and Altico Capital, defaulted on payments.

Sources said that RBI is expected to bring this up in a discussion paper in the near future, however, as the proposal is still being worked on, officials didn’t comment further. RBI is also expected to propose that large non-banking finance companies maintain a cash reserve ratio. This may be done in a phased manner with NBFCs being given time to comply.

RBI governor Shaktikanta Das discussing about the increased regulation for banks and shadow banks in recent years had said that cost of compliance to rules and regulations should be perceived as an investment, as any inadequacy in this regard will prove to be detrimental. 

NBFCs weren’t too happy of the development with a spokesperson commenting that shadow banks enjoy some flexibility in terms of last-mile financing, which banks can’t do. Narrowing the gaps between banks and non-banks could prove to be detrimental in the long run as financial inclusion is still low in India.

Sources also said that RBI may recommend regular scrutiny of the number of small NBFCs in India, especially keeping a check on their books of account.

Sun, 17 Jan 2021 11:09:22 +0530
Tesla s India entry to boost e vehicle sales

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s confirmation of Tesla Inc.’s India entry with the setting up of a R&D unit in Bengaluru has buttressed India’s e-vehicle market. Tesla is one of the all-time best selling plug-in electric cars in the world and its India entry will be a game changer for the country’s electric vehicle market, market analysts say. 

Tweeting from his official Twitter account Elon Musk wrote “As promised,” in response to a thread linked to a blog that analysed how India could still be a market to be developed for Tesla cars despite its high prices. 

Indian government has been advocating electric vehicles for some time now in order to reduce the pollution levels in cities across the country. The government had tried to boost e-vehicle manufacturing through subsidies, tax breaks, fee waivers and incentives on investments, etc. 

However, except for the two-wheeler segment, e-vehicle sales in India weren’t picking up as desired. Charging infrastructure and high cost of battery were deterrents with auto manufacturers expressing concerns on the lack of a suitable ecosystem to actively promote e-vehicles in India. 

Tesla on the other hand will not just bring high performance, technology rich cars but will also build an ecosystem. With Tesla setting up a shop in the country, parts suppliers will tie-up for component supply contracts, pushing up the demand for electric cars. Perhaps it could turn out to be as big a revolution as Maruti brought in India in the early 1980s. 

Other manufacturers will also develop confidence to produce electric vehicles once they are assured of consistent parts supplies. Electric vehicle enthusiasts will have some good options to choose from and as demand increases government will be awarding contracts for charging stations, eventually building a good e-vehicle infrastructure.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 14:10:46 +0530
Karnataka begins Covid vaccination drive

Chandrashekar, a group ‘D’ employee from Bengaluru’s K.C. General Hospital became the first person in the city to receive the much awaited coronavirus vaccine. Mallasandra PHC doctor Komal was the second person to be administered the dose. 

Both of them were thereafter kept under doctors’ strict observation for around 30 minutes as per Ministry of Health, Government of India’s standard operating procedures. 
Karnataka government plans to vaccinate nearly 16 lakh people, including health workers and frontline staff who have been actively involved in the fight against coronavirus. Sources revealed that around 1.71 lakh health workers have been identified to receive the vaccine in the first phase.

Speaking to media, health officials said that the Covishield vaccine, developed by Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca, will be delivered to the vaccination centres. Pune-based Serum Institute of India is producing this vaccine in India. The state government has cautioned people who receive the vaccine to remain in regular touch with the hospitals from where they took the vaccine. 

Karnataka health minister, K. Sudhakar said that the vaccine will be administered in two doses. He added, "After the first dose, the second dose will be administered after a gap of 28 days. Immunity will develop after 45 days thereafter. One has to be careful until 45 days." 

The state has identified 237 centres to administer Covishield vaccine and six centres to administer Covaxin, which is India’s first indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Karnataka has received Covishield from Serum Institute of India and Covaxin from Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. Karnataka plans to vaccinate over seven lakh healthcare workers throughout the state of which more than 24,000 will be vaccinated on the first day and the rest will be given the first shot in the coming days. 
All these health workers have been registered on the Co-Win online platform to receive the vaccine shot.

Source: IANS

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 13:32:30 +0530
83 single Indians comfortable in meeting in person

New Delhi, Jan 16

Virtual dating is the new norm in India, but real-life connections will pick pace post-pandemic, reiterates Bumble's recent nationwide survey. After connecting with people virtually, 83 per cent of single Indians are comfortable to meet up with their connections in-person. The study also reveals that 40 per cent of single Indians will opt for virtual dating in 2021.

Bumble, the women-first social networking app, has revealed how single Indians are planning on dating in 2021 now that India has unlocked and lifted restrictions across states.

Indians now going on pre-dates more than ever

Single Indians now go on 'pre-dates' where they explore virtual dating for the first time and use video dates to get to know one another before meeting in-person. Bumble's internal research found out that 78 per cent of single Indians feel the need to build trust before meeting in-person, which has given rise to 'slow dating' that means people are taking more time to get to know each other better.

Ideal first IRL (in-real-life) dates in 2021

For those who are meeting in person, the pandemic has changed the way they approach dating with a majority (47 per cent) preferring more low-key first IRL dates as staying indoors (at their home, their partner's or a friend's place) is the top choice for first in-person dates. Once comfortable to step out, going on a long drive remains a favourite among single Indians (43 per cent) along with meeting at a local cafe/tea shop. Dinner dates at a restaurant (41 per cent) is the next favourite for a great first IRL date choice.

Dating choices and preferences

When it comes to making a connection online, education and career choices top the list of preferences that matter most to single Indians, followed by dating intentions. However, the top most deciding factor when meeting someone in-person is compatibility (23 per cent).

Making boundaries and comfort levels clear

To help navigate new rules of dating in 2021, Bumble's new badges give the Bumble community the opportunity to communicate what kind of dates people are looking for: virtual, socially-distanced, or socially-distanced with masks. This helps with the potentially awkward conversation by allowing the community to search for people who are dating in the same way as them. Globally, more than 1 million people have used Bumble's new feature on their profile. People who share what kind of dates they are comfortable with through the new dating badges see a 43 per cent increase in the average number of monthly matches than those who don't.

According to Samarpita Samaddar, Bumble India PR Director, single Indians are now feeling a strong desire to build trust online before meeting in real life with virtual dating becoming the new norm in India. "In fact, over 540 million messages have been sent on Bumble in India between January and November, 2020. We saw a 38 per cent rise in the use of Video Chats and Voice Calls with people in India spending roughly 20 minutes on average on video and voice calls.

"As India continues to unlock, we're seeing an emerging trend of people getting excited about the prospect of dating in real life again in 2021. At the same time, there's still nervousness about what the future holds. We will continue to support our Bumble community in India to write their own stories and take charge of their dating journeys."

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 11:40:43 +0530
India 62 2 at tea on second day in fourth Test vs Australia

Brisbane, Jan 16

India lost both their openers early as they went to tea at 62 for the loss of two wickets on the second day of the fourth and final Test at the Gabba here on Saturday.

Shubman Gill was caught at second slip by Steve Smith off the bowling of Pat Cummins when the team score was 11 while Rohit Sharma, who looked good for his 74-ball 44, was caught at long on off the bowling of Nathan Lyon after adding 49 for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara.

Earlier, Australia were bowled out for 369 in their first innings before lunch.

The hosts lost their last five wickets for 58 runs.

T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar took three wickets each.

Resuming at the overnight 274/5, Australia lost Tim Paine (50) at 311 and then Cameron Green (47) at 313.

Brief scores Australia 369 (M Labuschagne 108, T Paine 50, C Green 47, T Natarajan 3/78, W Sundar 3/89, S Thakur 3/94) vs India 62/2 (Rohit Sharma 44)

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 11:37:24 +0530
Amazon opens Alexa AI for firms to build their own assistants

New Delhi, Jan 16

Amazon has for the first time enabled companies and developers to access Alexas advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to build their own intelligent assistants with the new ‘Alexa Custom Assistant.

‘Alexa Custom Assistant' is a comprehensive new solution that lets device makers and service providers create intelligent assistants tailored to their brand personality and customer needs.

A unique feature of the Alexa Custom Assistant is that it allows the brand's assistant and Alexa to cooperate to fulfill the customer's request.

Directly on Alexa technology, it will provide companies access to always-improving voice AI technology, customised with unique wake word, voice, skills, and capabilities.

The company said on Friday that automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first ‘Alexa Custom Assistant' customer, and has already begun the planning process for the development of an intelligent assistant for integration in select vehicle models.

The ‘Alexa Custom Assistant' is now available anywhere Alexa is supported, including in India.

The ‘Alexa Custom Assistant' is based on constantly-improving spoken language understanding, intent routing, and response orchestration to provide a natural, intelligent, and conversational interface.

Custom wake words are created using the same state-of-the-art process used for developing the Alexa wake word and deployed through the high-accuracy Alexa wake word engine.

"To create natural voice responses, each brand can choose their own unique voice," the Alexa team said.

"Alexa's voice science experts will guide them throughout the recording process and develop the voice using advanced machine learning algorithms".

Finally, developers can leverage Alexa's pre-built capabilities such as local search, weather, timers, and alarms, to further accelerate time to market.

The ‘Alexa Custom Assistant' reduces the cost and complexity of building intelligent assistants into automobiles, consumer electronics, mobile applications, smart properties, video games, and a variety of other digital experiences.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 11:35:12 +0530
Signal app goes down amid peak user traffic

New Delhi, Jan 16

The users of highly-encrypted Signal app faced trouble sending messages and the company said on Saturday that it was still working to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels.

The problem started late Friday and the company first acknowledged it may be due to technical difficulties.

Signal allows for secure and encrypted video, voice and text communication, but users were unable to send any messages.

"We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters. We appreciate your patience," it said in a series of tweets.

As WhatsApp started sending notifications to its users asking them to either accept its new policy or see their accounts removed from February 8, it came as a blessing in disguise for its rivals as Signal as it saw a massive flow of new users.

The rush led to extra burden on Signal servers.

"We are making progress towards getting the service back online. Privacy is our top priority, but adding capacity is a close second right now," it said.

"We are still working as quickly as possible to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels".

The encrypted messaging service has climbed to the top spot in the free apps category of the App Store in multiple countries, including India.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 11:30:18 +0530
US Justice Department watchdog launches probe into Capitol riot

Washington, Jan 16

The US Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General announced that it will launch an investigation into violent protests staged by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump at the Capitol building on January 6.

The Office said in a statement on Friday that it will initiate a review "to examine the role and activity of DOJ and its components in preparing for and responding to the events at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021", Xinhua news agency reported.

The investigation will be led by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

It will involve efforts from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior, and assess whether information of potential violence was shared by the DOJ to other agencies, including the Capitol Police, which was criticised for insufficient preparation for the riot that left five people, including a Capitol Police officer, dead.

The probe will also "assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the US Capitol on January 6", the statement said.

The Washington Post first reported on Tuesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) office in Norfolk, Virginia, explicitly warned of violent extremists planning a "war" in Washington, D.C., on January 6 to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's election victory at Congress.

The warning was issued on January 5, contradicting "a senior official's declaration the bureau had no intelligence" of harmful conducts by supporters of President Donald Trump in advance, the Post said.

"As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to 'unlawful lockdowns' to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C.," the Post cited the document as saying.

"An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating 'Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. Nothing else will achieve this goal'," the newspaper report added.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday in his first public appearance since the riot that his agency has identified over 200 suspects, and that more than 100 arrests have been made to date.

The FBI has issued a warning about plans of armed protests from January 16 through January 20 at all the 50 state capitols, and from January 17 through January 20, the day of the inauguration, at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

At least 20,000 National Guard troops are expected to be deployed in Washington D.C.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 10:51:48 +0530
Karnataka s disgruntled BJP MLAs likely to meet Shah

Bengaluru, Jan 16

A section of the discontented legislators who could not make it to the third round of cabinet expansion in Karnataka are likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who will be on a two-day visit to the state from January 16, on Sunday to put forth their grievances, in Belagavi.

Yediyurappa on Wednesday expanded his 17-month-old government by inducting seven new ministers and dropping Excise Minister H. Nagesh. The cabinet was expanded after much deliberations and the exercise already saw some aspirants who could not make it, publicly airing their displeasure.

At least a dozen legislators including party chief whip Sunil Kumar, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, M. P. Renukacharya, Sathish Reddy, G. H. Thippa Reddy, Abhay Kumar Patil, Siddu Svadi, S. A. Ramadass and A. H. Vishwanath, who could not make it, have been airing their displeasure openly but so far none of them have confirmed that they will be meeting Shah.

But the speculation is rife in the wake of Yediyurappa himself advising his critics on Thursday to meet party central leaders to complain against him, if they have any complaints.

The disgruntled leaders are likely to target Yediyurappa's second son B.Y. Vijayendra when they meet Shah.

Majority of ruling party MLAs have attacked Vijayendra's style of functioning while even some ministers in private conceded that his interference is increasing, but the ministers have not come out about it openly.

The disgruntled leaders feel that they have a chance of meeting Shah and freely express their feelings in front of him on Sunday.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 10:49:50 +0530
Symbolic Pongal festival at Dharavi




The harvest festival Pongal was celebrated symbolically at Dharavi as the police denied permission to occupy the  90ft main road due to Pandemic. However, they allowed celebrating without making crowd. A few ladies joined together in front of the Shakti Vinayakar temple in Dharavi and others in small bylanes celebrated maintaining the rules. The huge crowd who generally come to witness the function was missing this year.

Sat, 16 Jan 2021 10:24:24 +0530
11 killed in K taka road mishap PM condoles deaths

Dharwad, Jan 15

At least 11 people were killed and six injured when a minibus collided with a truck near Itigatti village here in Karnataka on Friday morning.

The minibus was carrying 17 passengers, mostly women, from Davangere to Goa for a family function when the incident took place.

Ten women passengers and the driver of the minibus died on the spot.

The six injured have been shifted to the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) for treatment, police said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths and wished for the speedy recovery of the injured.

Fri, 15 Jan 2021 15:13:35 +0530
Foreign experts behind Aden airport attack Yemen govt

Aden, Jan 15

Yemen's Interior Ministry has said that "foreign experts" supported the Houthi rebels in firing ballistic missiles at Aden's airport last month that killed 27 people.

Addressing the media here on Thursday, Interior Minister Ibrahim Haydan said "the preliminary results showed evidence that Iranian and Lebanese experts were behind the missiles which were used in the terrorist attack", reports Xinhua news agency.

Haydan headed the investigation committee formed by Yemen's President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi following the attack that targeted the airport on December 30, 2020.

He clarified that his committee had collected information from different sources and discovered that the ballistic missiles were launched from a site in the Houthi-controlled area 135 km away from the airport.

The deadly missile attack struck Aden's International Airport, causing three huge explosions just minutes after a plane carrying members of the new power-sharing government arrived from Saudi Arabia.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Saudi-backed Yemeni government accused the Houthi rebels of being behind it.

Senior officials of the Houthi group has denied the accusation and blamed it on Yemeni military factions linked to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the government-controlled southern provinces.

The country's health authorities said nearly 27 people were killed and 110 others were wounded, including international aid workers and media employees, in the explosions.

The southern port city of Aden is considered Yemen's temporary capital where the Saudi-backed Yemeni government has been based since 2015.

Yemen has been locked into a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthi rebels overran much of the country and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa.

Fri, 15 Jan 2021 12:46:00 +0530
4th Test Labuschagne s 73 pushes Australia to 154 3 at Tea

Brisbane, Jan 15

Marnus Labuschagne scored yet another half century in the ongoing Test series as he helped Australia reach 154/3 at the end of the second session on Day One of the fourth and final Test against India at The Gabba.

At Tea, Australia were 154/3 with Labuschagne and Matthew Wade at the crease on 73* and 27* respectively.

Resuming at 65/2, both Steve Smith and Labuschagne scored freely and collected boundaries whenever the Indian bowlers erred in their line and lengths.

However, just when Australia looked to be in control, debutant off-spinner Washington Sundar claimed the big wicket of Smith at his individual score of 36, getting the prolific batsman caught at short mid-wicket by Rohit Sharma.

India could've got their fourth wicket soon after that had skipper Ajinkya Rahane not dropped the catch of Labuschagne at gully against Navdeep Saini.

Wade, who came to bat after the fall of Smith's wicket, started off slowly but once he got set, the left-handed batsman stitched a brilliant partnership with Labuschagne. The pair have added 67 runs so far and have given Australia a hope of setting a big first-innings score.

Earlier, the hosts didn't get off to a good start after electing to bat as both David Warner and Marcus Harris went back to the dressing room with just 17 runs on the scoreboard.

Warner was the first wicket to fall as he got caught in the slips in the very first over of the innings bowled by Mohammed Siraj. Sharma took a good, low catch at second slip to send the left-handed batsman back in the Australian dressing room at his individual score of just 1.

Harris, playing his first match of the series as he replaced injured Will Pucovski, then tried to stitch a partnership with Labuschagne but got out caught on the first ball bowled by Shardul Thakur in the ninth over. At his individual score of 5, Harris was caught as square leg by Washington Sundar.

Brief score: Australia 154/3 after 54 overs (Marnus Labuschagne 73*; Steve Smith 36; Mohammed Siraj 1/25)

Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:52:56 +0530
Cisco reaches deal to acquire Acacia for 4 5 billion

San Francisco, Jan 15

Networking giant Cisco has agreed to acquire Acacia for $115 per share in cash, or approximately $4.5 billion.

Acacia is a component supplier and maker of high-speed optical interconnect technology for networking systems.

Cisco initially offered to acquire Acacia for $70 a share, or $2.6 billion in July 2019.

"I am delighted that Cisco and Acacia have decided to come together in this mutual deal," said Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO, Cisco.

"We look forward to welcoming Raj and the Acacia team to Cisco to offer our customers world-class coherent optical solutions to power the Internet for the future," Robbins said in a statement on Thursday.

Upon completion of the acquisition, CEO Raj Shanmugaraj and Acacia employees will join Cisco's optics business.

Cisco and Acacia expect to complete the acquisition by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2021.

Last week, Acacia announced to terminate its merger agreement with Cisco after the company had failed to meet a set of closing conditions such as "obtaining necessary regulatory approvals within the timeframe contemplated by the merger agreement."

Cisco said it is committed to supporting Acacia's existing and new customers around the world that require industry-leading coherent optics, digital signal processing/photonic integrated circuit modules and transceivers for use in networking products and data centres.

"We maintain our strong conviction in the strategic benefits of joining the Cisco family and believe it will enable us to better support our existing customers, while reaching an expanded footprint of new customers globally," said Raj Shanmugaraj, president and CEO of Acacia.

Cisco said the acquisition will benefit its existing enterprise network portfolio.


Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:49:06 +0530
Yediyurappa flags off extended metro rail service in Bengaluru

Bengaluru, Jan 15

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Thursday flagged off the 6.3 km extended stretch of metro rail in the city's southern suburbs.

"The service, available for public from Friday, has been extended from Yelachanahalli to Anjanapura on the north-south corridor (green line) and has 5 stations," an official of the state-run Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) told IANS.

Union Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri participated in the event virtually from New Delhi through video-conferencing, while Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister and Bangalore North MP D.V. Sadananada Gowda, who represents the Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat, state cabinet ministers and local MLAs R. Ashok, S. Suresh Kumar, Somshekar, Arvind Limbavali and Byrathi Basavaraj were also present on the occasion.

"The metro rail service extension is a step towards the goal of Bengaluru Mission 2022 to enable faster commute and smart mobility options in the city," said Yediyurappa on the occasion.

The extended service project was two years behind schedule for various reasons, including land acquisition, shifting of utilities and displacing houses and shops that were on the route.

The extension is part of the metro rail network's second phase, which will cover an additional 74 km in the city at a cost of Rs 30,695 crore by 2024 and will have 72 stations.

The first phase, which has been in service since October 2011, covers 42 km on the north-south and east-west (purple line) corridors spanning 40 stations.

As the most popular transport mode for its punctual, efficient and clean service in air-conditioned coaches, the metro was ferrying over 4 lakh commuters on the twin routes daily during pre-Covid days.

"We hope to commence service on the 7.5 km extended route from Mysore Road station to Kengeri on the purple line from July," said the official.

Metro service resumed on September 7 in phases after remaining suspended since March 25 when the Covid-induced lockdown was enforced. A number of rules and restrictions to ensure safety of commuters were rolled out.

Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:35:47 +0530
Centre disapproves administration of Covaxin to those below 18 yrs

New Delhi, Jan 15

In a major shift of narrative, the government has now disapproved the authorisation of Bharat Biotech's Covid vaccine to people below 18 years of age whereas earlier, it was approved for children above the age of 12 years by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

A letter from the office of additional secretary at the union health ministry carrying a comparative factsheet for the two Covid vaccines approved for emergency authorisation revealed that the government has "not recommended" their authorisation to people below 18 years of age.

The DCGI, after approving Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for EUA, had allowed its authorization to children above 12 years of age. The document of permission to the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm signed by the DCGI clearly states that "active immunization against Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) for age above 12 years when administered in two doses interval of day 0 and day 28".

At the same time, another Corona vaccine, Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII), was permitted to people above 18 years of age, permission letter to the SII showed.

However, when IANS approached CDSCO with the query upon this, the officials said that the provision was soon withdrawn and revised by the drug licensing authority. The sources privy to the development told IANS that this certain condition approved for Covaxin was flagged to the drug regulatory authority and soon it was rebuked.

"We were flagged about the provision and soon it was revised with a condition that the vaccines would only be administered to beneficiaries above 18 years of age," a senior official said.

Covaxin has been in the spotlight of controversy since it was recommended for restricted emergency use by the subject expert committee of CDSCO. It's approval for Covid immunization programme has drawn flak from public health advocacy groups, researchers, scientists and activists in the domain.

The concern with the Coxaxin largely remains on its approval without the data from phase III clinical trials which determine efficacy of the drug. So far, any data proving the vaccine's efficacy has not been published in the public domain, including any results of an interim analysis.

Meanwhile, a series of allegations involving violation of various protocols of human clinical trials have been put forth by trial volunteers of Covaxin in Bhopal's People's Medical College and Hospital, one of the 26 clinical trial sites of the Bharat Biotech's vaccine's phase III trials.

Trial participants in Bhopal, who, incidentally, are also victims of the 1984 gas tragedy, have alleged "severe violations" of the model code of conduct pertaining to trials including absence of consent and no follow-up on their health after developing adverse reactions post the first dose by a particular clinical trial site.

Notably, a 45-year-old trial participant in Bhopal also died nine days after he got the first jab at the People's Hospital, on December 21. However, Bharat Biotech, in a statement, said that the death had been "thoroughly investigated" and was found "not related to vaccine or placebo". The Madhya Pradesh government panel, too, ruled out any "lapses" from the hospital in the death case.

Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:32:39 +0530
Symbolic Pongal festival at Dharavi

The harvest festival Pongal was celebrated symbolically at Dharavi as the police denied permission to occupy the  90ft main road due to Pandemic. However, they allowed celebrating without making crowd. A few ladies joined together in front of the Shakti Vinayakar temple in Dharavi and others in small bylanes celebrated maintaining the rules. The huge crowd who generally come to witness the function was missing this year.



Thu, 14 Jan 2021 18:24:37 +0530
Gwen Stefani grew up listening to Madness

Los Angeles, Jan 14

Singer Gwen Stefani has shared how her sibling got her into listening to UK band Madness when they were growing up.

The No Doubt singer, who grew up in California, has revealed how she was introduced to the ska music genre, reports

"I was 17 when my brother was getting into these ska bands and discovered music from England and this band called Madness and would bring all their records home," said Stefani

"When we got into Madness it felt like underground weird music and they really sang about their culture and Camden Town, and we really looked up to England and London - that music and Stiff Records. That led us into reggae and all the ska acts and they united in a scene," she added.

She recently returned with her first solo music in four years, "Let me reintroduce myself", which saw her go back to her ska and reggae roots in homage to her time as the lead singer of the band No Doubt.

She admitted she cried when her fiance and singer Blake Shelton told her the song was number 16 on the iTunes chart.

"I was standing in the kitchen the day the song came out and Blake came in and said: 'Oh my God you're number 16 on iTunes.' I just burst out crying and I didn't even know that I felt like that," said Stefani.

"The whole reason we wrote it was that I was feeling like an underdog or over, like nobody would listen anymore. I'm fine with that, I've had my time, 30 years I'm good. But the one thing that still fuels my fire is writing music, you get addicted to that feeling, that taste of blood," she added.


Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:19:31 +0530
Bigg Boss 14 Do Rakhi Sawant s bizarre antics diminish her winning chances

Mumbai, Jan 14

Rakhi Sawant is undoubtedly one of the most controversial and melodramatic contestants in Bigg Boss 14, also perhaps the most entertaining. Yet her bizarre antics, explicit language and eccentric behaviour seem to have gone on overkill mode lately. Housemates, for one, do not seem to be taking her seriously anymore.

Rakhi had a thundering entry in Bigg Boss 14. However, she has gradually reduced herself to nothing more than the drama queen -- the iomage she has alwasy publicly portrayed.

From picking fights to hurling abuses, Rakhi, who initially made a name in Bollywood with her dance numbers, has not spared anyone in the house this season. She has taken her melodramatic behaviour a notch higher with her fight with evicted contestant Jasmin Bhasin.

During a heated argument, Jasmin covered Rakhi's face with a duck mask and the latter made a big fiasco, claiming Jasmin had hurt her on her implanted nose in the process. Rakhi was also seen banging her head on the table.

She also behaved strange and claimed that she had been possessed by a ghost named Julie.

Rakhi's antics did not stop there, as she was seen cryptically praying for the separation of Jasmin and Aly Goni in an exaggerated manner. She was also seen professing love for the already married contestant Abhinav Shukla. In fact, she has been seen putting 'sindoor' or vermillion on her forehead in the name of Abhinav. She also screamed "I love you Abhinav" while he was working out shirtless in the house.

Rakhi has also been seen telling Rubina that her husband Abhinav now belongs to her. From pulling his shirt to holding his leg while Abhinav tries running away from her, Rakhi's drama doesn't stop.

Currently, she has been bestowed with the tag of a captain, and needs to be taken seriously in the house.

That is where the problem arises. With her abundant gimmicks all along, no one in the house seems to be in the mood to take her seriously anymore.

She has been declared as the worst captain in the history of Bigg Boss by housemate Rahul Vaidya, though this has not stopped Rakhi from being her usual self.

There is a saying "your behaviour shows your personality". It holds absolutely true in Rakhi Sawant's case in Bigg Boss 14.

Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:17:10 +0530
Essar to set up low carbon hydrogen production hub in UK

New Delhi, Jan 13

Essar, which operates downstream energy businesses in the UK, and Progressive Energy, developers of HyNet North West, have joined forces to set up a venture to produce low carbon hydrogen at Essar's Stanlow Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

The joint venture will manufacture hydrogen at the refinery for use across the HyNet region.

"It will provide Essar Oil UK with low carbon hydrogen to decarbonise its own energy demand in addition to creating a hydrogen economy across North West England and North East Wales," said a statement.

Natural gas, and fuel gases from the refinery, will be converted into low carbon hydrogen, with carbon dioxide safely captured and stored offshore in sub-surface reservoirs in Liverpool Bay.

The hydrogen production hub will deliver clean energy to industry in the HyNet 'low carbon cluster', as well as to fuel buses, trains and heavy goods vehicles, to heat our homes, and to generate electricity when the sun is not shining or the wind blowing.

The UK's first low carbon hydrogen hub will initially produce three terawatt-hours (TWh) of low carbon hydrogen each year from 2025. This will be quickly followed by a facility twice this size giving a total capacity of over 9TWh of hydrogen per annum, equivalent to the energy used for heating across the whole of Liverpool.

A total investment of approximately 750 million pounds will be committed to deliver the two hydrogen production hubs. Follow on capacity growth is planned to reach 80 per cent of the Government's new target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen for power, transport, industry and homes by 2030.


Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:13:11 +0530
Snapchat to permanently ban Trump s account from Jan 20

San Francisco, Jan 14

After Twitter, photo-sharing platform Snapchat has announced to permanently ban outgoing US President Donald Trump's account from January 20.

Snapchat had locked his account following the January 6 Capitol chaos in Washington D.C..

"Last week, we announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump's Snapchat account, and have been assessing what long term action is in the best interest of our Snapchat community," a company spokesperson told Axios news on Wednesday.

"In the interest of public safety, and based on his attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech, and incite violence, which are clear violations of our guidelines, we have made the decision to permanently terminate his account," the spokesperson added.

Trump attempted to violate Snapchat's polices several times.

The company had sent warnings to his team about content that violated the rules.

The permanent ban officially goes into effect from January 20, the day when President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the US.

Snapchat was the first platform to announce that it was indefinitely suspending Trump's account.

It joins Twitter in permanently banning Trump.

While Facebook has indefinitely banned Trump's account, Shopify has taken down his campaign store.

Google-owned YouTube has removed more videos from his account for violating the content policies.

The company has also issued a "strike" against his account, meaning he cannot upload new videos or livestream content for at least a week.

Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:10:48 +0530
Rajnath to attend Veterans Day in Bengaluru on Thursday

Bengaluru, Jan 14

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would attend the Veterans Day of the armed forces here on Thursday with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, an official said on Wednesday.

"Singh and Rawat will attend the Veterans Day meet at the Air Force station in the city along with next of kin of our bravehearts who sacrificed their lives for protecting the country," a Defence Ministry official said in a statement here.

Veterans Day is celebrated every year on January 14 in recognition of the services of the Indian Army's first Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, who retired on January 14, 1953.

Cariappa (1899-1993), who hails from Karnataka's Coorg (Kodagu), led Indian forces on the western front during the first India-Pakistan war in 1947. He also fought in World War-II.

The only other Field Marshal, Sam Manekshaw (1914-2008), also retired on January 14, 1973.

"Wreaths will be laid at the National War Memorial in the city centre and at military stations across the country as a mark of respect to the martyrs for their selfless duty, expressing solidarity to their next of kin," said the official.

Entry for the event is by invitation only due to Covid-induced restrictions for containing the pandemic spread.


Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:08:24 +0530
Master opens to packed halls despite online leak and Covid

Mumbai, Jan 13

The highly-anticipated film Master, starring Tamil superstars Thalapathy Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi, could well be on its way to create a record at the box office despite opening amid the pandemic and being leaked on torrent websites hours before its release.

Fans of the two actors started crowding at theatres since early morning on Wednesday for the opening show of the film, which has released on the big screen despite Covid pandemic.

Film exhibitor Vishek Chauhan on Wednesday tweeted photos and videos from theatres in the city and even outside Mumbai.

"#Master 7am shows are also done in parts of the also goes #Housefull.. even during a pandemic.. #Master is a Blockbuster..#ThalapathyVijay is a leader!!" he tweeted.

Announcing a huge box office opening for the film, trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted: "It's a #Tsunami at the #BO... #MasterFilm has a FANTABULOUS START... Only goes to prove *yet again*: Give the audience what THEY want to watch and they will never disappoint you... Charm of watching a wellmade entertainer on big screen will never diminish. #Master #MasterPongal."

Meanwhile, South actress Keerthy Suresh revealed on social media that she is back to the theatre after one year just to watch Master.

"Can't even describe how ecstatic it feels to be back at a theatre after waiting for a whole year, and what's even better? It's for #Master Ithu #MasterPongal da! #MasterIsHere," the actress tweeted from her verified account early morning on Wednesday.

Keerthy also shared photograph of a packed cinema hall with the film playing on the big screen.

Directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, Master also features Malavika Mohanan, Arjun Das, Andrea Jeremiah and Shanthanu Bhagyaraj in pivotal roles.

The makers have also planned to release the film dubbed in Hindi on January 14 in cinemas across North India.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 14:30:49 +0530
Bhogi celebrations kick off Sankranti festivities in Andhra

Amaravati, Jan 13

Sankranti festivities kicked-off with Bhogi celebrations in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.

Bhogi is a festival which is synonymous with discarding the old and bringing in the new, observed by piling up and burning some old wood.

Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy extended Bhogi wishes to the people of the state.

"Bhogi greetings to all the people of the state. Sankranti is a symbol of respect which people give to our culture and tradition and love to villages," said Reddy.

He hoped that Sankranti will bring happiness and prosperity in the lives of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

Harichandan said that the harvest festival occupies a significant place in our cultural traditions and is being celebrated with gaiety.

"The vibrant Sankranti celebrations bring out memories of our age-old traditions and glorious past that binds all sections of the society together. May this auspicious occasion inspire noble thoughts of love, affection, amity and brotherhood in all of us," said Harichandan.

People, including women and children, in Guntur, Narsaraopeta, Unguturu and other places across the state celebrated Bhogi with fervour.

At Sri Saradapeetham in Visakhapatnam, a Bhogi fire was lit in the spiritual centre's complex where Swaroopanandendra Swamy officiated the prayers and rituals.

"I wish coronavirus will weaken for the state to become prosperous," said Swamy.

People celebrating Sankranti held cockfights in at least two places -- Mandalaparru village in West Godavari district near Bhimavaram and Thatipudi village of Atreyapuram mandal in East Godavari district.


Wed, 13 Jan 2021 14:25:00 +0530
Sensex above 49 700 auto telecom stocks rise

Mumbai, Jan 13

The Indian equity indices scaled new highs on Wednesday morning with the BSE Sensex trading above the 49,700 mark.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange also was above the 14,600 level.

Healthy buying was witnessed in auto, telecom and oil and gas stocks.

Around 10 a.m., Sensex was trading at 49,730.90, higher by 213.79 points or 0.43 per cent from its previous close of 49,517.11.

It has touched a record high of 49,795.19 points during the day so far.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 14,635.75, higher by 72.30 points or 0.5 per cent from its previous close.

Manish Hathiramani, technical analyst with Deen Dayal Investments said: "We have achieved the 14,600 level. The key resistance patch is now between 14,650 and 14,750. It needs to be seen how the markets react here."

"If we can get past the 14,750 level on a closing basis, we should be headed towards 15,000. The current support range for the Nifty is 14,200-14,250," it said.

The top gainers on the Sensex were Bharti Airtel, ONGC and State Bank of India (SBI) so far, while Titan Company, TCS and Kotak Mahindra Bank were the major losers.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:48:04 +0530
Exports of OLED displays forecast to hit new high this year

Seoul, Jan 13

South Korea's exports of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays are expected to jump nearly 20 per cent (on-year) to an all-time high in 2021 on growing global demand, sources said on Wednesday.

Overseas shipments of OLED panels are projected to soar 19.6 per cent on-year to $13 billion this year, accounting for more than 70 per cent of overall display exports, according to the industry ministry and the Korea Display Industry Association.

Bolstered by the sharp increase, South Korea's overall display exports are forecast to come to $18.4 billion this year, up 2.4 percent from the previous year.

The expected increase reverses the downtrend for the past three years. South Korea's display exports fell to $18 billion last year from $20.5 billion in 2019 and $24.7 billion in 2018, reports Yonhap news agency.

Last year, OLED display exports rose 6.4 perc ent on-year to a new high of $10.9 billion, reaching the $10 billion mark for the third year on end. South Korea also retained the top spot in the global OLED market in 2020.

OLED is highlighted by self-illuminating pixels that do not require a separate light source, allowing manufacturers to produce lightweight, thin and flexible display products.

The rosy outlook comes as the global display market is projected to post resilient growth this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to market researcher Omdia, the world display market is likely to grow 13.8 per cent to $139.8 billion this year.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:21:49 +0530
I T Dept raids medical professionals premises in Assam

New Delhi, Jan 12

The Income Tax Department has carried out search and survey action in cases involving renowned doctors and medical professionals of Assam.

The search and survey actions were carried out at 29 locations in Guwahati, Nalbari and Dibrugarh on January 8.

The main allegations against the groups are that they had grossly understated their medical receipts both in their individual capacities and the turnovers in their hospitals/nursing homes, diagnostic centres and pharmaceutical business, a Finance Ministry relese on the issue said on Wednesday.

During the course of the search and seizure operation, it was established that the groups were engaged in out-of-book transactions. Many documents and cash receipt slips were found which highlight the hugely suppressed turnover in the case of medical professionals and their hospitals/clinics.

The quantum of suppressed turnover detected in few cases alone appears to be upward of Rs 50-60 crore. Further, the net profit shown in the medical/pharma business is also extremely low, according to the release said.

Total cash of approximately Rs 7.54 crore was seized by the I-T Department from various residential and business premises of the medical professionals and their allied businesses, with an amount of Rs 1.76 crore cash seizure from a distant town of Nalbari.

The cash seized was found to be unexplained in the hands of various hospitals and medical professionals. Papers of huge parcels of land/immovable assets purchased in cash were also seized. Hand written notes/diaries of investments made in immovable assets in cash to the tune of around Rs 20 crore were also seized. The cash generated was found to be diverted to build new hospitals, reconstruction of nursing homes and acquisition of undisclosed assets.

During the course of the search operation, it was found that huge amount of 'kachha' cash receipts and transactions were made outside the regular books of accounts. In one such case, it was found that an amount close to Rs 20 crore was undisclosed.

Further, daily receipts were found to be digitally maintained in excel/hard disk at medical clinics that had not been recorded in the books of accounts. In the case of another assessee, the annual receipts were approximately to the tune of Rs 15-20 crore, while in the audited books, he had shown the gross receipt of around Rs 5 crore only. Hence, it is apparent that in the case of this particular assessee, suppression for each year should be around Rs 10-15 crore.

In all, unexplained investment/receipts/expenses exceeding Rs 100 crore has been unearthed during the search operation.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:15:06 +0530
Black box of Indonesia s crashed plane retrieved

Jakarta, Jan 13

Divers retrieved a black box of the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plane that plunged into the water off the coast of the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Saturday, local TV reported here.

The black box was found on Tuesday on the seafloor between Lancang Island and Laki Island of Jakarta Gulf, Xinhua news agency reported.

The black box is being transported by a ship to the Jakarta sea port of Tanjung Priok.

The flight SJ-182 operated by the budget airline, with 62 people on board, crashed shortly after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta, bound for Pontianak city in West Kalimantan province.

A total of 3,600 personnel have been involved in the search mission, as well as 54 ships and 13 planes and helicopters.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:08:03 +0530
Yogi to offer first Khichdi at Gorakhnath temple

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 13

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will offer the first 'Khichdi' at the Gorakhnath temple on Thursday to mark the festival of 'Makar Sankranti'.

Yogi Adityanath, who is also the Peetadheeshwar of the Gorakhnath temple, will follow the tradition which will also mark the beginning of the month-long 'khichdi' fair that is held at the temple.

After the Chief Minister, the Khichdi sent by the King of Nepal will be offered to the temple deity.

This tradition of offering Khichdi to Baba Gorakhnath is centuries old and is celebrated with great joy and fervour at the Gorakhnath temple, dedicated to Guru Gorakhnath.

Yogi Adityanath reached Gorakhpur on Tuesday evening to take stock of the preparations for the event.

Lakhs of devotees from across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Nepal, and other states throng the temple and offer 'Khichdi'.

Legend has it that Guru Gorakhnath had once gone to Jwala Devi temple, situated in Kangra district of Himachal where the goddess, Jwala Devi, invited him to dinner.

Seeing the 'tamasic' food (non-vegetarian) there, Gorakhnath said that he accepted only rice and pulses as alms. His request was promptly complied with.

Later, Guru Gorakhnath reached Gorakhpur situated on the foothills of the Himalayas and placed his 'Akshay patra' (bowl for alms) at the confluence of the Rapti and Rohini rivers, and started his spiritual penance.

People started adding rice and pulses but could not fill the Akshay patra.

The devotees believed it to be a miracle and ever since, the tradition of offering khichdi to Guru Gorakhnath began in Gorakhpur.

Makar Sankranti, according to the Hindu Calendar, is dedicated to the Sun God (Suryadev).

On this day, the Sun begins its journey from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice, signalling the start of warmer days.

It is celebrated in many places with different names like Bihu in the East, Lohri in the West, Khichdi and Tilwa Sankranti in the North, and Pongal in the South.

Wed, 13 Jan 2021 10:04:46 +0530
Aus vs Ind Paine apologises for SCG conduct Ashwin barbs

Sydney, Jan 12

Australia captain Tim Paine has apologised for his behaviour on the final day's play of the drawn third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Paine was seen and heard trying to sledge Ravichandran Ashwin, who was involved in a solid, match saving partnership with Hanuma Vihari on Monday.

On one of the occasions, the Australia skipper even claimed "at least my teammates like me, d**k****" during the spat and mocked Ashwin by asking "how many IPL teams wanted you, when you asked every single one of them to have you?"

However, on Tuesday, Paine addressed a press conference and admitted he let pressure get to him during the third Test and it affected his mood, captaincy and performance.

"I'm someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection, my leadership wasn't good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me. It affected my mood and then from there affected my performance," Paine was quoted as saying by

"I said to our players yesterday 'I've had a really poor game as a leader'. I let our group down. I'm human, I want to apologise for the mistakes that I made," he added.

Paine's antics on the final day of the historic draw came a day after he was fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent for appealing to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some "f***ing consistency".

The 36-year-old had a horrible day behind the stumps as he dropped as many as three catches on Monday, which further dented Australia's chances of taking a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

Paine also revealed that he spoke to Ashwin after the day's play telling him "I ended up looking the fool, didn't I?"

"You open your mouth and then you drop a catch. We had a bit of a laugh about that," he said.

With the series tied at 1-1, the two teams will now face each other in the final Test beginning Friday at The Gabba in Brisbane.


Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:34:08 +0530
Samsung launches updated programme to recycle old Galaxy devices

Seoul/New Delhi, Jan 12

Samsung Electronics has unveiled an updated programme to recycle old mobile devices at home with Internet of Things (IoT) technology as part of the South Korean tech titan's vision for a sustainable future.

Samsung unveiled "Galaxy Upcycling at Home" programme at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 late on Monday.

"The new programme reimagines the lifecycle of an older Galaxy phone and offers consumers options on how they might be able to repurpose their device to create a variety of convenient IoT tools," the company said.

The latest programme is an update to its Galaxy Upcycling campaign that was recognised by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a solution for used mobile devices.

Under the new programme, Samsung said its old Galaxy smartphones can be reborn as smart monitoring devices that can detect baby's crying or check companion animal's moves and leverage IoT technologies to operate other functions at people's smart home.

In addition to the Galaxy device recycling scheme, Samsung announced that its eco-packaging would be used for QLED, UHD TV, monitor and audio products in 2021, reports Yonhap news agency.

The world's largest TV vendor said all of its 2021 QLED TVs will come with solar-powered remote controls to reduce battery waste.

Samsung also vowed to bolster technology education with programs including Samsung Solve for Tomorrow and Samsung Innovation Campus.

To enhance accessibility of its products and technology, the company highlighted its SeeColors application, which is designed to support people with colour vision deficiency to adjust settings on Samsung smart TVs, as well as the Sign Language Zoom feature on TVs.

"With a focus on the environment, people and society, we will continue to provide our consumers with responsible tools and technologies to address our challenges today and enable a better future for all," said Sandeep Rana, an environmental sustainability specialist at Samsung.


Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:31:51 +0530
Railway minister reviews Bengaluru suburban service project

Bengaluru, Jan 12

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday reviewed the status of the Bengaluru suburban service project in a virtual meeting from New Delhi, an official said.

"Reviewing the project status, Goyal said the suburban rail service should be built keeping in view the growing needs of Bengaluru and should be based on Make in India policy to boost the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' mission," a South Western Railway official told IANS here.

The Union Cabinet had on October 21, 2020 approved the 148 km suburban rail project, which has been pending over the years, to provide an efficient commuting network to the tech city of 1.3 crore denizens.

The project to be completed by 2026 is estimated to cost Rs 15,767 crore, which is being shared by the Indian Railways and the Karnataka government on equity and debt basis.

"The Railways will contribute 20 per cent of the equity and guarantee external borrowing up to 60 per cent of the project cost, while the state government will share the remaining 20 per cent equity," the official said.

The project will have four corridors, connecting Bengaluru with Devanahalli near the international airport (41.4 km and 15 stations), Baiyappanahalli with Chikkabanavara (25 km and 14 stations), Kengeri with Whitefield (35.52 km and 14 stations) and Heelalige with Rajanakunte (46.24 km and 19 stations).

The state government had on November 12, 2020 decided to borrow Rs 7,438 crore through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) as part of its share for the project.

Officials of the Railway Board and the state government participated in the virtual meet held through video conferencing.

The dedicated project is being implemented by the Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd (KRIDE), a joint venture firm set up by the Railways and the state government, to provide a safe, accessible and comfortable mode of public transport.

"The project will ease vehicular traffic congestion across the city, enhance rural-urban connectivity and provide a cleaner mobility solution to lakhs of commuters," noted the official.

The suburban service will connect the city with the international airport at Devanahalli, IT hubs in eastern and southern suburbs and commercial and residential areas in a seamless network to reduce travel time and enhance productivity.

"The project is envisaged to integrate multiple modes of transport like the metro rail and the state-run bus service with inter-changing hubs," added the official.

Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:28:19 +0530
UK park killer sentenced to life imprisonment

London, Jan 12

A UK court has sentenced a man, who stabbed three men to death in June 2020 at a park in Reading, England, to life imprisonment.

Khairi Saadallah, 26, murdered James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, on June 20, 2020, in the park in Reading, some 65 km west of London, Xinhua news agency reported.

Saadallah had previously told London's Old Bailey court that he "executed" the men as an "act of religious jihad".

Passing the sentence on Monday, the judge said all his offences "had a terrorist connection".

The judge described the attack as "swift, ruthless and brutal" and the victims "had no chance to react, let alone defend themselves".

The attack "involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning" and was carried out "for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause", said the judge.

Three other people were also injured, before Saadallah threw away the knife and fled the scene, pursued by police, the BBC reported.

Saadallah pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and three charges of attempted murder, the Evening Standard newspaper reported, adding that he will never be considered for release from prison.

Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:18:23 +0530
PM asks Goa CM to ensure best treatment for Naik

New Delhi, Jan 12

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday and asked him to ensure the best medical treatment for Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, who was seriously injured after his car hit a tree in Ankola in Karnataka on Monday night. Naik's wife and an aide, who were travelling with him, succumbed to their injuries.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too spoke to Sawant and offered any assistance required, including air-lifting the minister, who is an MP from North Goa.

Singh tweeted, "I am shocked and extremely saddened by the news of Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik being injured in a road accident. I spoke to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. The state government is ensuring best treatment for Shripadji. I pray for the speedy recovery of Shripadji."

Naik has been shifted to the Goa Medical College from a hospital in north Karnataka. The Goa CM directed the doctors of the medical college to ensure best treatment for the minister.

Naik was travelling by car along with his wife and an aide in the north Kannada district as part of a private visit when his car overturned near Yallapura.


Tue, 12 Jan 2021 10:14:44 +0530
Pankaj Tripathi Sex without consent is sexual abuse even after marriage

Mumbai, Jan 11

Actor Pankaj Tripathi says he understands why women stay mum about issues related to their married lives, from domestic abuse to sexual abuse, after working on web series Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors.

The show, through the story of Anu Chandra, portrayed by actor Kirti Kulhari, spotlights marital sexual abuse and the trauma the victim goes through behind closed doors. In the show, Pankaj is seen as a lawyer fighting Anu's case.

"It was unknown to me why women kept quiet when they went through some trauma in their personal life, they were tight-lipped when asked to share their problems. I, as a man, didn't really know how to decode it," Pankaj said.

"This issue exists in our society, whether we stay in liberal urban cities or places outside the city, so why not speak up. But after playing the character of Madhav Mishra and decoding why Anuradha Chandra killed her husband I finally understood why most women like her are not vocal about their problems," he added.

Pankaj continued: "Especially with issues related to their married lives because clearly the society demands them to be locked in the closed doors of their homes. Through this show, we hope that more and more women are invoked to share their problems and take the right step for themselves."

Now, the actor along with stars including Pratik Gandhi, Vijay Varma, Pavail Gulati, Nakuul Mehta and Karan Tacker, has featured in a video which talks about the importance of consent before getting intimate.

"Sex without consent is sexual abuse, before marraige and after marraige," Pankaj says in the video.

Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors also features Jisshu Sengupta, Ashish Vidyarthi, Shilpa Shukla, Pankaj Saraswat, Ayaz Khan, Kalyanee Mulay, Ajeet Singh Palawat, Khushboo Atre, and Tirrtha Murbadkar. The series streams on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.


Mon, 11 Jan 2021 17:55:43 +0530
Airtel NSIC partner for digital transformation of Indian MSMEs

New Delhi, Jan 11

Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Monday announced its partnership with National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) to accelerate the digital transformation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India.

NSIC is a Government of India Enterprise having its mission "to promote and support MSME sector by providing integrated support services encompassing marketing, technology, finance and other services".

This partnership with NSIC envisages digital transformation of this critical sector as key to the Central government's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' for enabling MSMEs to scale up faster by ways of adopting digital ways of doing business.

"We are delighted to join hands with NSIC to fast-track their digital transformation journey. Airtel's pan-India network, deep distribution reach as well as easily accessible digital platforms would give MSMEs the flexibility and convenience of addressing all their digital connectivity requirements through a single window," said Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO, Airtel Business.

The offerings would come with the trusted support from Airtel that ensures high customer satisfaction through industry leading service uptime. Airtel already serves more than one million medium and small businesses across India with best-in-class products that are available to customers in highly flexible formats.

"This partnership with Airtel is envisaged to serve multiple ICT needs of MSME sector for sustained growth and increased productivity," said P. Udayakumar, Director (Planning and Marketing), NSIC.

MSMEs are an important growth engine of the Indian economy. With more than 60 million business units, the sector contributes to 29 per cent of India's GDP, 40 per cent of exports and employs more than 110 million people.

These businesses are looking for reliable, secure connectivity and digital platforms that would add to their efficiency and competitiveness, the company said.

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 17:50:15 +0530
Sensex hits 49 000 for the first time IT stocks zoom

Mumbai, Jan 11

The BSE Sensex crossed the 49,000-mark for the first time ever on Monday and the Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading above 14,400.

Healthy buying was witnessed in the IT, telecom and FMCG stocks.

Around 9.34 a.m., Sensex was trading at 49,211.61, higher by 429.10 points or 0.88 per cent from its previous close of 48,782.51.

It opened at 49,252.31 and touched a high of 49,260.21 and a low of 49,015.22 points.

The Nifty50 was trading at 14,460.55, higher by 113.30 points or 0.79 per cent from its previous close.

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:44:30 +0530
UP Girl ends life after mother scolds her for not studying

Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 11

A Class 12 student allegedly shot herself with an unlicensed revolver after she was scolded by her mother for not studying.

The girl was rushed to a private hospital where she succumbed during the treatment.

The incident took place in the Bajpur Maan village under Mundha Pandey police station limits in Moradabad late on Saturday evening.

The 17-year-old girl was on the terrace when her mother reportedly scolded her. The girl rushed to her room and shot herself with the revolver.

The deceased's father, Prem Pal, informed police that he was out for work when the incident took place and was informed about it on the phone.

The Moradabad police said that the body has been sent for a post mortem and the illegal revolver that was used by the girl has been recovered.

Inspector (crime) S.V. Singh told reporters, "The girl shot herself as she was upset with her mother who scolded her. The family said that she was not under any mental stress and had no existing medical conditions. A probe has been ordered."

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:40:49 +0530
3rd Test Australia on top as India lose Pant Pujara in 2nd session

Sydney, Jan 11

India lost the crucial wickets of Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara as they reached 280/5 in their chase of 407 at the end of the second session on the final day of the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
At Tea break, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin were at the crease on 4 and 7 respectively as India need another 127 runs to register what would be an incredible win.
Resuming the post-Lunch session at 206/3, Pant and Pujara batted just like they did in the first two hours of the day, collecting runs at a brisk pace. Pant took chances and scored boundaries and gave a huge scare to the Australian team before he got out just three short of what would have been a well-deserved century.
Trying to hit a maximum against off-spinner Nathan Lyon and get to his third century, the wicketkeeper-batsman was caught by Pat Cummins at 97, thus giving Australia an opening.
Pujara, who has been criticised for his ultra-slow batting in the first innings, didn't seem to get affected and in fact scored three consecutive boundaries against Cummins. During the course of his knock, he became the 11th Indian batsman to score 6,000 Test runs.
However, at his individual score of 77, he got out bowled to a peach of a delivery by Josh Hazlewood and put Australia again on top.
Ashwin and Vihari then made sure India didn't lose any more wickets till the end of the session and also ensured the possibility of all three results remained possible in the final session of the match.
Australia 338 & 312/6 dec vs India 244 & 280/5 at Tea(Rishabh Pant 97, Cheteshwar Pujara batting 77; Josh Hazlewood 2/26)

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:30:08 +0530

San Francisco, Jan 11

Angry at Twitter which permanently banned US President Donald Trump on its platform following the Capitol chaos last week, his supporters are planning a rally at the company's headquarters here on Monday, the media reported.

According to San Francisco police, Twitter's headquarters may be the target of demonstrations on Monday, and they were prepared for any violence or other disruptions.

"The San Francisco Police Department is aware of the possibility of a demonstration on the 1300 block of Market Street (Twitter). SFPD has been in contact with representatives from Twitter. We will have sufficient resources available to respond to any demonstrations as well as calls for service citywide," a police department spokesperson wrote in an email.

The San Francisco Chronicle said in a report that posts on a popular internet forum for Trump, supporters called for the President's adherents to protest his Twitter ban outside of the company's headquarters.

A Twitter spokesperson said that the company's highest priority was workers' safety.

"While we respect people's right to express their views, we've been transparent about the factors leading up to our decision last week," the spokesperson said.

Posts on, an independent far-right internet forum, called for supporters to gather outside of Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco to protest the company's ban on Trump.

Twitter last week banned Trump from its platform, citing "risk of further incitement of violence".

The Twitter ban came after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, hoping to stop the certification of Presidenr-elect Joe Biden's election victory.

"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them a" specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter a" we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement.

Facebook has announced that the restrictions on Trump's account will continue till the end of his term on January 20.


Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:24:30 +0530
Twitter braces for pro Trump rally at its US headquarters

San Francisco, Jan 11

Angry at Twitter which permanently banned US President Donald Trump on its platform following the Capitol chaos last week, his supporters are planning a rally at the company's headquarters here on Monday, the media reported.

According to San Francisco police, Twitter's headquarters may be the target of demonstrations on Monday, and they were prepared for any violence or other disruptions.

"The San Francisco Police Department is aware of the possibility of a demonstration on the 1300 block of Market Street (Twitter). SFPD has been in contact with representatives from Twitter. We will have sufficient resources available to respond to any demonstrations as well as calls for service citywide," a police department spokesperson wrote in an email.

The San Francisco Chronicle said in a report that posts on a popular internet forum for Trump, supporters called for the President's adherents to protest his Twitter ban outside of the company's headquarters.

A Twitter spokesperson said that the company's highest priority was workers' safety.

"While we respect people's right to express their views, we've been transparent about the factors leading up to our decision last week," the spokesperson said.

Posts on, an independent far-right internet forum, called for supporters to gather outside of Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco to protest the company's ban on Trump.

Twitter last week banned Trump from its platform, citing "risk of further incitement of violence".

The Twitter ban came after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, hoping to stop the certification of Presidenr-elect Joe Biden's election victory.

"After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them a" specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter a" we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence," Twitter said in a statement.

Facebook has announced that the restrictions on Trump's account will continue till the end of his term on January 20.


Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:22:58 +0530
Palestine starts technical meetings over preparations for polls


Ramallah, Jan 11

The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (PCEC) has started technical meetings over preparations for the state's first general elections after a 15-year hiatus.

Hana Nasser, chairman of PCEC, convened an online meeting on Sunday with the Comission's members in the Gaza Strip to discuss the latest developments of the planned legislative and presidential elections, Xinhua news agency reported citing an official statement as saying.

Nasser said during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held in Ramallah on Saturday evening, he proposed to the latter several dates deemed suitable for holding the elections.

"Holding elections needs as long as 120 days after issuing suitable presidential decrees," he said.

Meanwhile, Hisham Kuhail, executive director of the PCEC, said Abbas will issue a package of presidential decrees that will set the dates for the legislative and presidential elections, as well as for a vote for the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

On Saturday evening, Abbas held a meeting with a delegation of PCEC in Ramallah, and agreed to issue his presidential decrees for holding elections before January 20.

Kuhail said PCEC will hold another meeting with Abbas in seven days to present its final proposal of dates for holding the Palestinian elections.

After issuing decrees, Abbas will invite the general secretaries of the Palestinian factions to discuss "mechanisms for overcoming obstacles regarding holding elections in Jerusalem and challenges Israel might create", Kuhail added.

On January 2, Ismail Haniyeh, chief of Hamas, confirmed to Abbas in an official letter that his Islamic movement was ready to end the internal divisions and hold general elections.

The last legislative elections were held in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, when Hamas won an overwhelming majority in the chamber.

Abbas, 84, was elected as the chief of the Palestinian Authority in the presidential elections held in the Palestinian territories in January 2005, and succeeded the former leader Yasser Arafat who had died in November 2004.


Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:19:58 +0530
Karnataka cabinet to be expanded on January 13 CM

Bengaluru, Jan 11

The Karnataka cabinet would be expanded on January 13 to induct seven legislators as ministers, said state Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Sunday night.

"The BJP high command has permitted to induct seven legislators in the cabinet. They will be sworn-in on January 13 afternoon, as there is 'habba' (Sankranti festival) on January 14," Yediyurappa told news channels in Kannada on return from New Delhi.

He, however, did not disclose names of the legislators to be inducted in the cabinet expansion, as they have to be "finalised and confirmed".

"The list of would-be ministers will be finalised tomorrow (Monday) for taking oath in the afternoon of January 13," added the Chief Minister.

In the 34-member ministry, seven posts are vacant to be filled in the third cabinet expansion.

During his day-long visit to the national capital on Sunday, Yediyurappa met the ruling BJP's national leadership, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party's national president J.P. Nadda and party's Karnataka unit in-charge Arun Singh.

The cabinet was expanded for the second time on February 6, 2020 when 10 legislators, who defected from Congress and JD-S were inducted after they won in the December 5, 2019 by-elections, caused by their resignations in July 2019, which led to the fall of the 14-month JD-S-Congress coalition government on July 23, 2019 and return of the BJP government on July 26, 2019.

The first cabinet expansion, in which 17 ministers were inducted, took place on August 20, 2019.

Yediyurappa was sworn-in as BJP Chief Minister for the third time on July 26, 2019.

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:12:07 +0530
Ex BJP MLA accused of sexually assaulting girl student

Varanasi, Jan 11

A former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA was thrashed by the family members of a girl student of his college in the premises for allegedly sexually assaulting her.

In a video of the incident that went viral on social media on Sunday, the former legislator, Maya Shankar Pathak, who is chairman of a college run by the MP Group in Bhagatua area, is seen sitting in his office when around 10 family members of a girl student of Class 9 storm into his office.

The two middle-aged persons start seeking explanation from Pathak and scolding him for sexual harassment of the girl.

Pathak, who is the chairman of the college, was later beaten up by the family members of the student along with the local residents.

He reportedly apologized after being beaten up, after which the family did not complain about the matter to the police.

However, when the video of the entire incident went viral, the family of the chairman appeared quite hurt by this incident.

Pathak is a two-time BJP MLA from Chiragaon assembly segment. He owns an engineering college on village Balua Pahadia Marg.

Chaubeypur police station in-charge SK Shukla told reporters that no FIR has been registered in this regard but the matter is being investigated on the basis of the video.

Meanwhile, the former MLA has termed the entire incident as a political conspiracy to malign his image.

In a video message, Pathak said that the alleged incident took place about a week ago when the girl question was preparing for a Republic Day speech.

He said that since the girl could not read the speech properly, he scolded her and sent her away.

"If scolding a student is a crime, I apologize for same. I did not realize that the girl's family was making a video while talking to me. This is a political conspiracy," he said.

Mon, 11 Jan 2021 10:08:44 +0530
Phasing out of film print media Column B Town

A lot is in the process of changing for good and, as the film industry came to a standstill, so did many dependent businesses. The ones which completed the circle of the entertainment industry. That includes film production and all the workforce that it employed and fed to the cinema halls.

But, then there was one major sufferer too, and that is the print media. The print media had to stop publishing for a few months. Now they are back in circulation but what they lack now is what added to their sales and circulation -- the film supplements.

First, the major broadsheets added metro-based supplements to their main publications. They were named after the cities they were published from but had nothing to do with the cities concerned. The idea was to cater to the film buffs, which soon changed into catering to filmmakers. In that, they became a tool of promoting films. At a price, of course! To lend some credibility, or should one say, acceptance, they introduced the concept of Page Three, a space devoted to the party circuit.

These supplements owed their very existence to the entertainment segment without which they would have nothing to print. But, somehow, the entertainment industry was convinced by the reach of these supplements that they started believing that they needed these rags rather and not otherwise! As, a result, they were made to pay for every column centimetre of coverage they needed for their films. It was strange, a strange kind of bargain!

The real world money-makers, as in the industrialists, did not acknowledge such supplements. They even refused to give interviews to such supplements because it would be deemed bought space! Why, then, the entertainment industry, especially the film industry, believed that buying space in such papers could further the prospects of their product?

That is because the film people had this tendency of aping their brethren. If one producer bought a quarter page space in a newspaper supplement, the next one would buy half a page. If one film was booked at 3,000 screens, the other would better it with 4,000 screens! The age-old adage in the trade described this as "Bhed Chaal", and it prevailed.

This blind rat race to spend more on things unproductive showed a lack of application of mind on the part of filmmakers. Actually, these paid columns did not really help a film in any way. Finally, it was word of mouth that made or marred a film once it hit the cinema screens.

Earlier, film publications were limited. There were magazines like Filmfare and Star & Style, which catered to star-crazy readers. Screen, though sold on stalls, was a kind of trade publication, meant for those who loved to discuss films and their inside stories like progress, release date and so on. Then, there were a couple of trade magazines that dealt mainly with the box office collections, business prospects of a released film and so on. The film industry -- as in producers, distributors and exhibitors as well as the film financers -- followed only these publications.

The trade magazines were business-oriented and the film industry used them to their advantage. These were not owned by any big publishing house but individuals belonging to the trade, and survived only on the patronage of the film folk. A film trade magazine was a must-read for any and everybody doing business here, be it Mumbai or any other location in India.

The trade papers had their use when films were released in Indian circuits at different time. The investors from other circuits got their information from these trade magazines about a film that had released in a particular circuit. When, the system of simultaneous release of films all over India came into being, these magazines lost their utility. Nobody needed to wait to find out the prospects or the fate of a film. As a result, we now have just one trade paper out of five that existed surviving, Complete Cinema.

Talking of trade publications, Delhi, the centre of the Delhi-UP circuits, also had a couple of its own trade weeklies, Patriot and Filmy Reporter, which were patronised by and the supported by the Delhi film trade. I don't think their circulation extended beyond the area of film colony in Chandni Chowk, where the film trade was centred, and these possibly also went to some UP cinema halls. Once the ad support from films stopped, so did the publications.

So far so good. But, then came the kind of publications which scrounged on the film industry without benefitting the industry or filmmaking in anyway. They were dubbed as glossy rags but enjoyed decent following among those who thrived on the bedroom stories of the filmstars. So we had magazines like Stardust and Cine Blitz among others. Earlier, there was no concept of film gossip except in the one weekly, Blitz, which attributed a small columns to film gossip. But, these glossies made it into full-time journalism!

Like all things transitory, the gossip glossies lost their following as the social media and web portals devoted to films (by the hundreds) mushroomed. What was worse for these glossies was that there was no gossip to write about. If the stars were in relationship or having an affair, it was all in the open. No use writing about affairs that are public! So, the gossip magazines met with their natural demise.

Coming back to the mainstream media which took to cashing in on the self-gratification seeking film folk, just about every column centimetre of their supplements was available at a price. The editor had little say, and the content was worked out between the marketing department and the spender. Reviews were rated with stars as in 3 stars, 4 or 5. As if the stars and the superstars in their star cast were not enough, insecure filmmakers also bought these critics' stars. It was all going haywire. The reader was taken for a fool while, the reader on his part, did not care since such supplements came free with the newspaper! Who was fooling who? Presently, they are all starved of content

What about TV channels? Do you think they would have survived the initial six months of the corona lockdown with no other news except corona, its effects and what the governments were doing? They would have bored watchers besides adding to the depression caused by the pandemic. Sadly, the news about the tragic death of two film-related young people, actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his associate Disha Salian, helped the news channels sustain. Otherwise, there was no news happening nationally or internationally.

Not only the television channels, but even film-based portals, had nothing except the Sushant tragedy to write about. Remains to be seen how many bounce back, considering there is little happening in the film world to write about. Then, just about every social media user has turned into a critic now. They post their personal reviews about films as well as OTT content.

As things stand today, there is not a single film publication available on the newsstands, and not likely to re-launch very soon either.


Sun, 10 Jan 2021 10:38:27 +0530
Macro data to drive equities Q3 results to give directions

Mumbai, Jan 10

Macro-economic data points along with expectations of healthy quarterly results and developments surrounding the rollout of anti-Covid vaccine are expected to give further imputes to the current market rally.

However, observers cited that even volatility on account of profit booking will likely trigger in bottom fishing, thereby reigniting the up move.

"The results season began on Friday with TCS coming out with excellent Q3FY21 numbers. As more companies come out with their numbers, the focus could shift from index to individual stocks and peer stocks," said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

"There is still no reversal signal for the index. Another two odd weeks of gains seem plausible though not at the same pace."

The week ahead will be heavily influenced by Q3FY21 corporate earnings as companies like HCL Tech, PVR, HDFC Bank, Wipro and Infosys are expected to announce their quarterly results.

"The focus of the Indian markets have currently shifted to third quarter earnings. Healthy business figures reported by banking and auto sectors have led to a better quarterly outlook which is likely to continue in the coming week keeping the sectors in the limelight," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geogit Financial Services.

Apart from the healthy Q3 results, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is slated to release the macro-economic data points of Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Consumer Price Index (CPI) on January 12.

Besides, investors will look forward to the macro-economic data points of WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and India's trade figures.

"Next week a lot of macro data will be out including India's Inflation, loan growth and Industrial output," said Siddhartha Khemka, Head - Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

"As the long term market structure remains positive, we would advise investors to adopt Buying on Dips strategy to accumulate quality stocks."

In addition, the volumes of foreign fund flows will be the other major sentiment driver.

The trade week ended on January 8, witnessed an inflow of foreign funds as FIIs were net buyers to the tune of over Rs 9,600 crore.

According to Joseph Thomas, Head of Research, Emkay Wealth Management, "The market draws its strength from the relatively better economic fundamentals, resulting from the easy liquidity conditions and the accommodative stance of fiscal and monetary policy."

"Any challenges to the sustainability of the economic rebound would pose a problem for the markets."

Sun, 10 Jan 2021 10:36:32 +0530
Netanyahu gets second dose of Covid 19 vaccine

Tel Aviv, Jan 10

Three weeks after receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the second at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli to receive both doses of the vaccine, weeks after a major roll-out of the vaccinations began in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

Over 1 million Israelis have been inoculated with the first dose of the vaccination, almost a tenth of the population.

Priority has been given to people over the age of 60 and medical staff.

A delivery of millions more doses is expected next week, according to Netanyahu, who gave a statement at the hospital before being vaccinated on Saturday evening.

"This will allow us to inoculate all Israeli citizens above the age of 16... by the end of March (2021)," said the Israeli premier.

Simultaneous to the massive vaccination drive, Israel has entered its third strict lockdown to curb the virus spread.

Sun, 10 Jan 2021 10:34:07 +0530
4 UP officers demoted as peon watchman

Lucknow, Jan 10

In an unprecedented move, the Yogi Adityanath government has demoted four additional district information officers to their parent posting as a peon, watchman and cinema operator-cum-communication assistants.

The move was made after their promotions were found to be illegal.

Narsingh, who was posted as additional district information officer in Bareilly, has been demoted as peon, while Daya Shankar, an additional district information officer in Firozabad, has been asked to join his previous posting as a watchman.

Similarly, Vinod Kumar Sharma and Anil Kumar Singh, who were promoted as additional district information officer in Mathura and Bhadohi, respectively, will again work on their previous profile as cinema operator-cum-communication assistant.

A helper in the information department had filed a writ petition in the Allahabad high court seeking promotion, citing the example of four employees of his rank who were promoted as additional information officers.

The court, however, dismissed the petition and observed that the right to promotion was strictly regulated by the service rules.

The court also instructed the director (information) to decide on the representation and consider the grievance of the petitioner that other employees of his rank had been promoted.

Following the court's order, the information department checked the records and found that the four employees had been promoted despite the absence of any such rule to this effect.

"It was decided that all the four persons should be demoted as there was no rule for such a promotion. Not only the helper's claim to entitlement was inappropriate but the promotion of four others was also illegal," a government spokesman said.

He said that their salaries drawn after promotion would also be realized from them.

Sun, 10 Jan 2021 10:32:36 +0530
To jab or not HCWs scepticism over safety side effects of Covid vax

New Delhi, Jan 10

With the date to kickstart a mass inoculation drive against Covid-19 being announced, the country has officially begun the countdown for the rollout of Covid vaccines. However, as the date draws closer, scepticism toward the vaccines' safety among the healthcare workers, who are on the top of the priority list to get vaccinated, has increased.

Doctors told IANS that their fellow colleagues are approaching them with doubts regarding the safety aspect of the vaccines approved in India.

Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said that there is apprehension are among those who should be having apprehensions.

He informed that the part making people, including healthcare workers, worried, is the aspect of safety and side effects of the vaccines.

"The first question I get asked is whether the vaccines are safe. People including doctors are wary of the fact that the vaccines have come out so early. They are not able to fully rely on the safety the vaccines are supposed to provide," Chatterjee said.

Besides, the likeliness of having side-effects is also building more scepticism around acceptance of the vaccines, he added.

Neha Gupta, Infectious Diseases Specialist at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram, also said that patients and even people working in healthcare have concerns regarding side-effects of the Covid vaccines.

"Concerns such as fever and severe body ache post the vaccination are shared even by people of my fraternity despite working in close quarters with immunisation programmes," she added.

The doctors said that the reports of adverse events occurring abroad after vaccination have raised suspicion among the public as well the healthcare fraternity about the vaccines' safety.

Besides, the controversy around approval of Bharat Biotech's vaccine has further fuelled the existing apprehension.

Sonali Malhotra, ENT specialist at Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College, said that many of her colleagues are hesitant before taking the vaccine jab citing the adverse events being reported in countries where vaccination has started.

"They are particularly wary of the complications associated with the vaccine, especially the severe ones being reported elsewhere. My family members have also shown unwillingness for the vaccination fearing the side-effects that may follow," she told IANS.

However, Malhotra added that she is all in for the vaccination.

Chatterjee also said that people are sharing news articles and videos of some random self-proclaimed experts on social media claiming that vaccines are not safe or developed hurriedly.

"However, I don't find merit in such claims. They remain a rumour and people, especially healthcare workers should not go by them," he clarified.

"Doctors having apprehensions are not good for the public since we ought to lead the way," Chatterjee commented.

Neeraj Nischal, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, AIIMS Delhi, informed that the side effects, also called the adverse events of a vaccine, are very common to occur and indicative of a fact that it is actually working.

"Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection forcing the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. The process can cause minor symptoms (adverse events), such as fever, swelling or soreness at the injection site, which are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity," he said.

Speaking on the safety aspect, Nischal agreed that the scepticism around vaccines' safety is bound to arise since the vaccines were developed at an extraordinary pace.

"However, the apprehension that corners were cut in the development are unfounded," he clarified.

"The technological advances and prior research steadfast the development process. The initial trials have confirmed that the vaccines are safe and well-tolerated," Nischal said.

Meanwhile, another query doctors have been frequently receiving is whether the vaccines would worsen the previous illnesses of the receivers.

"Many people, even among the healthcare workers, are suffering from comorbid conditions. They are afraid whether their blood pressure, sugar, or any other underlying condition would aggravate post inoculation," Chatterjee said.

Sanjay Roy, Head, Department of Community Medicine, AIIMS Delhi and the principal investigator of Bharat Biotech's Covid vaccine which is under phase 3 trial, said that the vaccines are safe and were approved after testing on all kinds of people, including patients with underlying health conditions.

"There's always a risk-benefit ratio involved in the development of any drug. Even Paracetamol tablets have side effects. However, the benefit of vaccines outnumber the side effects involved," he said.

Roy advised people read more read and research scientific literature to allay their fears about vaccines' safety.

"Rather than consuming information from unverified sources like social media and Whatsapp forwards, people should look for the same through reliable sources like medical journals, websites of government and ICMR, medical experts, and then take an informed decision," he added.

Nischal commented that "people should remember that the disease is deadly but the vaccine is not".


Sun, 10 Jan 2021 10:30:26 +0530
Ex Kerala HC judge wants to contest polls

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 9

Retired Kerala High Court judge Justice Kemal Pasha has said he wants to contest the next Assembly election.

Justice Pasha told IANS that the Congress-led UDF has approached him and offered him a seat but that constituency was not to his liking and if he gets a preferable seat he would consider it.

The retired judge has been very vocal on several social and political issues in the state and has been a critic of the LDF government in the state.

Justice Pasha had produced several landmark judgments and was considered a popular judge during his career.

With Justice Pasha jumping to the UDF bandwagon, the UDF will be boosted as he enjoys credibility among the general public.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary and senior leader Manacadu Suresh said, "A person like Justice Kemal Pasha contesting as a UDF candidate in the next Assembly election is a welcome sign and this will increase the ratings of our party and the UDF. Justice Pasha has been a vocal critic of the ruling parties and has always been a people's judge."

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:57:26 +0530
Mayawati reiterates demand for repeal of Central farm laws

Lucknow, Jan 9

Amid the protest by farmers against the three Central farm laws at the borders of the national capital, Bahujan Samaj Party National President Mayawati has once again raised the demand for withdrawal of the new farm laws.

Mayawati on Saturday tweeted saying,"The talks between the farmers protesting on the Delhi borders for quite some time, and the Central government failed once again yesterday (January 8) which is a matter of grave concern. I urge the Centre once again to address the problem expeditiously by accepting the demand of the farmers to withdraw the new Union farm laws."

Earlier, Mayawati had written that the Central government must immediately withdraw the three farm laws and must not adopt a high-handed attitude but be sympathetic towards the protesting farmers.

The farmers leaders on Friday said the Union farm laws would have to be repealed, only then they would end their protest.


Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:50:35 +0530
Soumitra Chatterjee disdained stardom if it got in way of his beliefs as an artist

New Delhi, Jan 9

Soumitra Chatterjee, the doyen of Bengali cinema who passed away on November 15, 2020 aged 85, leaving behind an oeuvre of over 250 films – a staggering 14 of them directed by Satyajit Ray - five books, four poetry collections, three dramas and an array of paintings, had once remarked that he would have become a carpenter had he not become an actor.

It might sound flippant but his admiration for the craft of carpentry was genuine, revealing that he believed in creativity that was useful, something that would be helpful to people, says the first biography of the actor in English set to release on his 86th birth anniversary on January 19.

"Soumitra Chatterjee's legacy goes well beyond his body of work in cinema, which on its own will probably never be matched. He is best known for being the favoured actor of one of the world's greatest directors and remains one of the most visible representatives of Indian cinema abroad," Arjun Sengupta, co-author of "Soumitra Chatterjee - A Life in Cinema, Theatre, Poetry & Painting", (Niyogi Books), told IANS in an interview.

"However, the range of his accomplishments emerges from his unique nature. He understood the value of education and culture and all through his life remained unwavering in his belief on the importance of social responsibility and artistic integrity. He disdained stardom if it got in the way of his beliefs as an artist.

"He had a varied career that went beyond films. His belief in art and the responsibility of an artist ensured that he brought the same seriousness and breadth of learning to no matter what he did. He was a resolute champion of Bengali language and culture, choosing to dedicate himself to Bengal rather than look for a more national popularity through Hindi cinema. For these reasons and more, he was one of Bengal's greatest ambassadors to the world," Sengupta added, who teaches English Literature at the St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, with previous stints at Scottish Church College and Presidency College.

A considerable amount of research went into the book, during the writing of which Chatterjee was personally involved.

"The research involved going through a number of books that have been written on him and about Bengali cinema in general. This allowed me to place his achievements in a greater socio-historical context. Mr Chatterjee was kind enough to lend us his 'Gadya Samagra', a collection of his writings for reference. His writings gave me important insights into the kind of person he was. It also allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of his pursuits as a thespian, painter and poet.

"I also watched and re-watched several of his films, studying the smallest details to appreciate his craft better. All this was supplemented by hours of interviews of Mr Chatterjee," Sengupta said of the effort he and co-author Partha Mukherjee, a Kolkata-based Freelance Writer-cum-Documentary Filmmaker put in.

To this end, what the book reveals is that Chatterjee did not believe in looking back, and even at 85, kept looking forward to new challenges. This is probably why his death is not a coda because he had so much more to contribute to the world of theatre, art and cinema. Thus, the book is a celebration of his multi-faceted creative genius and his role in representing Bengal on the world stage.

The book explores the making of Chatterjee through his early years and his relationships with theatre exponent Sisir Bhaduri and Satyajit Ray. His 14 films with Ray are a testament to his versatility and virtuosity. As an actor he refused to settle in a comfortable groove and constantly looked out for fresh challenges. Throughout his theatrical career, he not only adapted and directed several acclaimed plays but kept returning to the stage for sustenance and inspiration. His poetry and art are more personal and offer an insight into his idealistic and cultured soul.

Analysing the most important roles of his career, and charting the single-minded dedication and passion that he brought to each one of them, the book reflects on Chatterjee's stardom and longevity in an industry that saw great changes during his lifetime. Featuring 70 unique photographs, the book is a visual treat and illuminates the versatile facets of a towering artist - a Renaissance man - who along with Ray brought Bengal to the cinematic world.

What it also brings out is that Chatterjee's poetry and paintings are a distillation of an idealistic sensitive soul. He is forever caught between a desire to escape through memory to an idealised past and a need to engage with the troubles of reality. His art is even more private and personal than his poetry. His paintings are oddly beautiful and could be quite eerie, too. They are nevertheless striking and speak of a vivid and bold personality.

Chatterjee refused to work in other languages. He consciously resisted the lure of Bollywood as he felt his performance gained a lot of credibility from his proficiency in the Bengali language and wondered if it would be the same in a language in which he was not fluent.

His loyalty to his Bengali identity determined many of his decisions in his career. It turned out to be a wise choice because with the help of Satyajit Ray and other acclaimed directors, he managed to stay close to his roots while turning out performances of universal relevance. He has worked in Bengali cinema but in his legacy he belongs to world cinema.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:47:07 +0530
Giants reborn Mohammedan get another shot at the big time

New Delhi, Jan 9

Mohammedan Sporting Club will play their first I-League match in seven years when they face Delhi's Sudeva FC on Saturday in the first game of the 2020/21 season. It has been a long road back to the top for the club, who for a better part of their history were seen as part of a triumvirate of clubs ruling the roost in Kolkata.

The term 'Kolkata giants' in the context of Indian football has for the past two decades brought images of a packed Salt Lake stadium cheering for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The two clubs have had seen their ups and downs in the I-League but their capacity to spark extreme emotions and draw big crowds went a long way in them getting berths in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.

In the 21st century, Mohammedan Sporting have been relegated to being an also-ran in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) and have hardly ever played in India's top football leagues but theirs is a name that keeps cropping up whenever one looks up the history of the game in the country.

Founded in 1891, Mohammedan Sporting hold the distinction of being the first club to do the double of winning the CFL and the IFA Shield in the same year. That achievement came in 1936 and it was part of a period between 1934 and 1938 when they won the CFL five years in a row.

Their popularity transcended Kolkata in the post-independence years due to their exploits in the Durand Cup, Rovers Cup and the DCM Trophy.

"There was a time when most of the top players from Mohun Bagan or East Bengal joined Mohammedan Sporting," former India goalkeeper Brahmanand Sankhwalkar told IANS. Sankhwalkar faced Mohammedan Sporting numerous times during his 17-year career with Goa's giants Salgaocar.

"Whenever we Goans used to play against these three Kolkata clubs, we used to go prepared to face a strong team. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have maintained that while Mohammedan have unfortunately slipped down. They had fans everywhere, especially in Delhi. When Mohammedan Sporting came to town there was always crowds coming to the stadium. Good that they are back in the I-League and I hope that they maintain this now."

Mohammedan Sporting were the first Indian club in the post-Independence period to win the CFL in 1948, while memories of the bloody riots during the Partition was still fresh in the memories of the residents of the city. In his book 'Barefoot to Boots: The Many Lives of Indian Football', football historian and veteran journalist Novy Kapadia writes that old-timers often recall how their faith in Indian democracy was restored due to the unbiased manner in which the league was held that year, culminating in Mohammedan's victory.

"Wherever we went and played, whether it be in Hyderabad, Kerala, Kashmir; everywhere there were fans for us," says Atanu Bhattacharya, the former goalkeeper who played for Mohammedan Sporting in the 1980s, arguably the last decade in which the club competed with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan on equal footing.

"In our days we would always try to win against the other two clubs and many of the times we were successful. As a player it was one of the greatest moments to be playing in those matches, we would play at stadia like the Eden Gardens and there would be lakhs of fans shouting for both clubs," he continued.

Many reasons have been attributed to Mohammedan Sporting's downfall over the past three decades, chief among which is a trigger-happy management. The club's off-pitch troubles finally spilled on to their results and it meant that while the new century brought in television coverage and sponsorship deals for sports organisations, Mohammedan Sporting were largely left behind. They were promoted to the I-League twice -- in 2007/08 and 2012/13 -- only to be promptly relegated the very next season.

Former India midfielder Ishfaq Ahmed played for Mohammedan Sporting in the 2013/14 season and also faced the club numerous times in the six years that he played for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. "When I played against them for Bagan or East Bengal, it was always seen as the most crucial match of the tournament, despite them not having the best team. They always competed somehow, whether it be in the Calcutta league or wherever. It always a difficult match against them," Ahmed said.

In the season that Ahmed played for Mohammedan Sporting, the club won the IFA Shield, beating Bangladesh club Sheikh Jamal Dhanmodi in the final. Ahmed hopes that the club now approach their new stint in I-League with some professionalism and make a case for themselves to eventually get promoted to the ISL.

"Hope they have a strong project now, and in the future qualify for the ISL. This I-League season they should treat as a base to build a strong team. Don't need to aim to win the title this season, they should just evaluate where they are weak and look at this as a way to move forward. It is very important for clubs like Mohammedan Sporting to be competing at the highest level because they attract people to the stadia. That is how you generate interest and popularise football," he said.

While the current hierarchy led by general secretary SK Wasim Akram and football secretary and club legend Dipendu Biswas is often seen as different from the previous iterations, Mohammedan Sporting did sack coach Yan Law after just one match during the four-match I-League qualifiers in October.

The sacking came despite the fact that the team had secured a resounding 4-1 win and the management reportedly accused Law of sabotaging the team and leaking conversations. But the team only went on to secure promotion to the I-League and former Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty was appointed as technical director for the season. Only time will tell if Law's sacking was only a one-off decision made by a club looking to bury the ghosts of its past or an indication that old habits die hard.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:42:01 +0530
SpaceX Dragon set to bring more key science back to Earth

Washington, Jan 9

An upgraded SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft is set to transport significantly more science back to Earth next week than possible in previous Dragon capsules, and is the first space station cargo capsule to splash down off the coast of Florida.

In addition, key science experiments returns from the space station through NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle, NASA said in a statement late on Friday.

The space experiments include 'Cardinal Heart', which studies how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue level using 3D engineered heart tissues, a type of tissue chip.

On January 11, the SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft carrying out the company's 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission for NASA will undock from the International Space Station (ISS), heading for splashdown off the coast of Florida about 12 hours later.

"Sending science up to space and then receiving it again on the runway was definitely something in the shuttle days that we really took pride in, and being able to rejoin that process is great," said Kennedy Space Center utilisation project manager, Jennifer Wahlberg.

Another experiment is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency study, 'Space Organogenesis', which demonstrates the growth of 3D organ buds from human stem cells in order to analyze changes in gene expression.

Results from this investigation could show advantages of using microgravity for cutting-edge developments in regenerative medicine and may contribute to the establishment of technologies needed to create artificial organs, NASA said.

The Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion experiment identifies the bacterial genes used during biofilm growth, examines whether these biofilms can corrode stainless steel, and evaluates the effectiveness of a silver-based disinfectant.

'Rodent Research-23' involves the return of live mice. This experiment studies the function of arteries, veins, and lymphatic structures in the eye and changes in the retina before and after spaceflight.

The aim is to clarify whether these changes impair visual function.

At least 40 per cent of astronauts experience vision impairment known as Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS) on long-duration spaceflights, which could adversely affect mission success.

"The large amount of science returning to Earth on this mission is possible thanks to upgrades to the SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft, which has double the powered locker capability of the company's previous capsules," NASA informed.

On return, it can support up to 12 powered lockers, enabling transport of more cold cargo and power for additional payloads.

"Using the previous Dragon spacecraft, it could take up to 48 hours from the time the capsule hits the water in the Pacific Ocean for it to be back in Long Beach, California. We then started distributing those samples about four to five hours after that," said Kennedy's Research Integration Office utilization flight lead, Mary Walsh.

"Now we are going to have early return science in hand and turn it over to researchers at just four to nine hours after splashdown."

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:39:35 +0530
Ed Sheeran to turn deejay

Los Angeles, Jan 9

Singer Ed Sheeran is reportedly going to turn a deejay with a remix for singer Passenger.

Sheeran has put a spin on his friend Passenger's song "Sword from the stone", which is expected to be out next week. His first remix is under the alias "Gingerbread mix", reports

"They have been friends for years after meeting when they were teenagers and have covered songs together before but never done anything like this," a source said about the collaboration between Sheeran and Passenger, whose real name is Mike Rosenberg.

"They've stayed really good mates and when Mike asked if Ed would be up for working together, he said yes straight away. Getting together in the studio wasn't really an option in 2020 but Ed has produced this new remix of 'Sword from the stone' and they both love it. Mike has been the support act for loads of Ed's concerts over the years, most recently in 2019 during his 'Divide Tour', so it was really nice for them to do something new together," added the source.

The remix news comes just over two weeks after Sheeran released his new song "Afterglow".

It marked the first new music from Sheeran since his 2019 album "No.6 Collaborations Project", which featured the likes of Stormzy, Khalid, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Eminem.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:58:27 +0530
Arshad Warsi We all get stereotyped as actors

New Delhi, Jan 9

Arshad Warsi feels it is easy to get stereotyped as an actor, and very difficult to break away from it. The actor says he has managed to evade the image trap despite his overwhelming popularity in comic roles only because his serious roles were equally loved.

"It is difficult (to break away from stereotypes). We all get stereotyped -- all of us do, every actor does. That's how it is. You do a certain role or you do something that people enjoy, and then that is what you keep getting because that is ringing the box office," Arshad told IANS.

"It becomes difficult to get out of it. Fortunately for me, I've managed to do that purely because people have enjoyed my serious acting as well as my comedy," he added.

The actor continued: "Usually, when somebody does comedy, a lot of (his/her) serious roles don't work because you can't get that person out of the head."

Opening up about his way of doing it, Arshad said: "I tend to get into the character so much that I make you forget who I am. I make you forget what my previous one was, and that works for me. In 'Asur', people just accepted me in such a serious role as a forensic scientist. And then ‘Durgamati: The Myth' was on the same lines, I got to do something completely different from what I'm usually offered, which is a breath of fresh air and it feels wonderful."

Before entering Bollywood as an actor, Arshad worked as an assistant director and choreographed a song for the 1993 film "Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja". He made his acting debut in 1996 with "Tere Mere Sapne", which was a box office success.

Over the years, he has impressed the audience and critics alike with varied characters in films like the "Munna Bhai" series, the "Ishqiya" films, the "Golmaal" series, "Dhamaal", "Jolly LLB" and "Seher".

Last year, he made his digital debut with psychological thriller "Asur". He was also seen in the role of a politician in film "Durgamati: The Myth", which ditched traditional route of release and premiered digitally on Amazon Prime Video.

Asked how his life changed in the Covid-19 era, he said: "It hasn't, but I'm glad it has changed the lives of the world. I have lived like this even when there was no pandemic. I stay in my room, I do my films, I come back home, I like hanging out with my kids. So I enjoy doing that. I got to do that at a large scale with the kids at home. It was really nice. So, my life has been like that."

"I'm glad that the rest of the world got a chance to experience the whole feeling of not being in a rush to live your life, to sit down and relax and not do anything. It's nice to do that. It's really nice to just sit down and not let life just pass you by and enjoy it a little bit," he added.

Arshad is currently shooting for "Bachchan Pandey" along with Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon and Jacqueline Fernandez in Jaisalmer. Shoot will continue till March. The team is expected to shoot at places like the Gadisar Lake and Jaisalkot.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:56:15 +0530
Govt refuses to repeal farm laws farmers adamant over withdrawal

New Delhi, Jan 9

The eighth round of meeting between the farmers and the Union Ministers remained inconclusive as the farmers' leaders refused to discuss the clauses of the three farm laws with the ministers.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar clearly said that the government won't repeal the farm laws and if the farmers want they can seek legal intervention. Replying to this, the farmers' leaders said that they won't move the court rather want to resolve the issue through dialogue with the government.

During the three-hour long meeting, the farmers' leaders were adamant on their demand to withdraw the three laws while the ministers negotiating on behalf of the government turned down the demand. Seeing that their demand was turned down, the farmers' leaders even threatened to leave the meeting mid-way at one point of time, however, the meeting continued.

Farmers' leaders said that if the government refuses to implement the three laws, then they are ready to end the movement with immediate effect. However, Tomar clearly said that we can amend the provisions on which the farmers' have objections but the laws won't be repealed.

Sources said, referring to the pending case in the Supreme Court Tomar said that the Supreme Court also wants a solution to this issue, therefore, we should wait for the court's decision.

Farmers' leader Hanan Mulla told IANS that the Agriculture Minister said, "The farmers can also go to the court to which we have clearly said that we won't go to the court and continue the protest till the laws are not withdrawn. The Agriculture Minister also said that amid opposition several farmers' organisations in the country have welcomed this law. Therefore, the government has to listen to both the sides. Agriculture Minister said that the next time the meeting will be held on January 15, before that, the government will also consider other options to find a solution to the farmers' movement."

Farmers' leader Rishipal said that the Agriculture Minister said that the hearing on the matter related to farmers' agitation is slated for January 11, so lets wait for that and then both the sides should agree to the decision. We have clearly told Union Minister that we won't accept the court's decision. Why didn't any organisation out of 40 who are protesting have not gone to the court. Therefore, we have nothing to do with the court's hearing and we will end the protest only when the laws are withdrawn.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:52:48 +0530
Palestine condemns Israeli closure of mosque for 10 days

Ramallah, Jan 9

Palestinian authorities have condemned Israel's decision to close the ancient Ibrahimi Mosque site in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for 10 days.

Mahmoud al-Habbash, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on religious affairs and Islamic relations, said in a statement on Friday that Israel's closure of the mosque is a "war crime", reports Xinhua news agency.

"Banning Muslim worshipers' access to pray at the mosque could fuel the sentiments of Muslims around the world," al-Habbash said, adding that it is an interference into the powers of al-Waqf department.

The Ministry of the Palestinian al-Waqf is in charge of the holy sites, mainly mosques in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli media had earlier reported that the authorities in Jewish state has decided to close the mosque for 10 days as part of the precautionary measures to combat the Covid-19 spread in Hebron.

Director of Ibrahimi Mosque Hefzi Abu Sneineh said: "Israel's pretext was baseless since all worshipers and visitors have been following up the health and safety protocols of wearing face masks and social distancing."

The Ibrahimi Mosque site also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs is a series of caves, which ccording to the Abrahamic religions, were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.

A large rectangular enclosure over the cave was converted into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the 12th century.

Israel took over the site in 1967, dividing it into a synagogue and a mosque.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:50:18 +0530
India records 18k new coronavirus cases 228 deaths

New Delhi, Jan 9

With 18,222 new coronavirus cases and 228 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, India's overall infection tally stood at 1,04,31,639 on Saturday, while the death toll reached 1,50,798, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

India continues its streak of low daily new cases and the country has reported a total of 1,00,56,651 recoveries so far.

The recovery rate stands at 96.41 per cent, while the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent.

Currently, there are 2,24,190 active cases.

The total number of samples tested up to January 8 is 18,02,53,315, including 9,16,951 samples tested on Friday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state with 1,954,553 total cases.

About per cent of the daily new cases are being reported by 10 states and union territory -- Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

On Wednesday, the government deployed a high level Central Team to Kerala to review the public health interventions in the management of the pandemic by the state government and support the health authorities in these measures.

Meanwhile, the most-awaited mass vaccination drive is slated to begin soon, with the approval of two vaccines.

The Centre has planned to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase.

It will be offered to 1 crore healthcare workers; 2 crore frontline and essential workers; 26 crore people above the age of 50; and 1 crore below 50 with comorbidities.


Sat, 09 Jan 2021 10:43:44 +0530
Georgian Ambassador meets Governor seeks India s cooperation in providing Covid vaccine

The Ambassador of Georgia to India Archil Dzuliashvili today sought the cooperation of India in providing the Corona vaccine to his country. Stating that Georgia has more than 5000 cases of Corona Virus Disease, he said like many other countries, Georgia is expecting India to make available the Covid vaccine to his country.

The Ambassador was speaking to the Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai.

Stating that Georgia is a small yet vibrant country with ancient civilization, the Ambassador said the country is keen to enhance business and trade cooperation with India, especially in the fields of Ports, Clean energy and culture. Stating that many Indian companies are already working in Georgia, he said that Indian students in large number are pursuing medical studies in Georgia. He further added that Georgia has become a favourite destination with Bollywood film makers with many new films being shot at its locations.

Welcoming the Georgian Ambassador to Maharashtra, Governor Koshyari said there is scope for enhancing relations in Ports, manufacturing and culture.

The Honorary Consul of Georgia in Mumbai Satinder Singh Ahuja was also present.

Fri, 08 Jan 2021 18:05:28 +0530
Governor presents 11th Keshav Srushti Awards to Corona Warriors

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari presented the 11th Keshav Srushti Awards to 13 Corona Warriors at a felicitation function held at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai on Friday (8 Jan).  Twenty one Corona warriors working under the aegis of Keshav Srushti were also felicitated on the occasion.

The Keshav Srushti Awards instituted by Keshav Srushti, an organization dedicated to education, rural development, water management and energy conservation were presented to doctors, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, police and non governmental organisations.

Chairman of Keshav Srushti Surendra Gupta and Chairperson of the 11th Keshav Srushti Awards selection committee Hematai Bhatwadekar were present.

Speaking on the occasion the Governor complimented ‘Keshav Srushti’ for its work in diverse areas of development.

Fri, 08 Jan 2021 18:03:08 +0530
Georgian Ambassador meets Governor seeks India s cooperation in providing Covid vaccine

The Ambassador of Georgia to India Archil Dzuliashvili today sought the cooperation of India in providing the Corona vaccine to his country. Stating that Georgia has more than 5000 cases of Corona Virus Disease, he said like many other countries, Georgia is expecting India to make available the Covid vaccine to his country.

The Ambassador was speaking to the Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai.

Stating that Georgia is a small yet vibrant country with ancient civilization, the Ambassador said the country is keen to enhance business and trade cooperation with India, especially in the fields of Ports, Clean energy and culture. Stating that many Indian companies are already working in Georgia, he said that Indian students in large number are pursuing medical studies in Georgia. He further added that Georgia has become a favourite destination with Bollywood film makers with many new films being shot at its locations.

Welcoming the Georgian Ambassador to Maharashtra, Governor Koshyari said there is scope for enhancing relations in Ports, manufacturing and culture.

The Honorary Consul of Georgia in Mumbai Satinder Singh Ahuja was also present.

Fri, 08 Jan 2021 16:19:57 +0530
Profit booking global cues subdue market FMCG stocks fall

Mumbai, Jan 6

Profit booking, along with global cues pulled the key Indian equity indices lower during Wednesday's late afternoon trade session.

Accordingly, the key indices after hitting fresh all-time high levels on Wednesday morning shed major gains.

The S&P BSE Sensex had opened at an all-time high of 48,616.66, and the Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange touched a new record of 14,244.15 points.

Some losses were witnessed in the FMCG, IT and Pharma indices, while Metal, Media, Realty and Banking spaces traded in the green.

Around 2.30 p.m., Sensex traded at 48,074.11, lower by 363.67 or 0.75 per cent from its previous close.

The Nifty50 was trading at 14,110.10, lower by 89.40 points or 0.63 per cent from its previous close.

"Bank Nifty gave a range breakout in yesterday's session and sustaining well above the same. Thus, we may see outperformance in banking sector in coming days too," said Jay Purohit, Technical & Derivatives Analyst, MOFSL.

"Also, we continue to maintain our bullish stance in insurance space and advise traders to use buy on dips strategy on the same."

According to Likhita Chepa, senior Research Analyst at CapitalVia: "US market shows some uncertainty due to the uncertain outcome of the US Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will likely shape fiscal policy in the President-elect Joe Biden administration."

"New lockdown that has been imposed also shows impact on the global market and the Asian markets also likely to show a little resistance in the uptrend rally. Though Indian market rally is likely to continue in the market as experts say that India's exports may grow at 11-12 percent with the opportunity for a potential Covid-19 vaccine."

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 16:47:29 +0530
Punjab CM withdraws attempt to murder charge against protesters

Chandigarh, Jan 6

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ordered withdrawal of charges under Indian Penal Code's Section 307 (attempt to murder) against farm laws protesters who dumped cow dung outside an ex-BJP minister's house.

Amarinder Singh, who also holds the Home portfolio, has also ordered transfer of the Station House Officer (SHO), who had registered the "attempt to murder" case, which is now being probed by a Special Investigative Team (SIT).

The Chief Minister said the SHO had gone overboard in registering a case under Section 307. "There was no attempt to murder," he said, referring to the Hoshiarpur incident, in which a group of protestors had unloaded a trolley full of cow dung in front of former Punjab minister Tikshan Sud's residence.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has termed as correct and justified the arrest of Punjabi singer Shree Brar for promoting gun culture in a music video.

Promoting gangsterism and gun culture in this manner was absolutely wrong, he said, adding that the case had been registered correctly in the matter which related to an old song of the singer.

Amarinder Singh made it clear that the arrest had no connect with the singer's video in support of the protesting farmers, which in fact was appreciable.

However, his good work now could not condone the negative impact of his old song encouraging youth to pick up guns, he said.

Noting that Punjab was a border state facing ongoing threats from across the border, the Chief Minister said "we will not allow the state's peace to be disturbed in any manner", which such acts had the potential to do.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 16:44:52 +0530
UAE to face Ireland in four ODIs from Jan 8

Mumbai, Jan 6

United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be playing their first international cricket series against an ICC full member team when they take on Ireland in a four-match ODI series beginning Friday. The four ODIs will be played on January 8, 10, 12 and 14 at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the series, Emirates Cricket Board general secretary Mubashshir Usmani said, "India is a nation that loves its cricket and we are thrilled that Eurosport India will bring this series to the cricket fans in the country. This is our first bilateral series with a Test playing nation after the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world globally and an important one as we are playing an ICC full member team."

"Cricket is the most loved sport in the country and with the broadcast of this historic series Eurosport India takes a major step towards bringing India's favourite sport to our viewers," said Vijay Rajput, Senior Vice President - Affiliate sales and Head of Sports Business, Discovery - South Asia.

"This partnership is our second major association in cricket and we will look to bring more cricket action for our viewers in the upcoming days. The series being UAE's first bilateral series with a full member team - Ireland after the pandemic makes it all the more special and we are proud to be associated with it," he added.

Both the teams have announced their squads for the series which will be telecast live on Eurosport and Eurosport HD India channels.


Ireland: Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, David Delany, Gareth Delany, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O'Brien, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.

UAE: Ahmed Raza (c), Chirag Suri (vc), Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Usman, Muhammad Boota, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmad, Zawar Farid, CP Rizwaan, Aryan Lakra, Karthik Meiyappan, Alishan Sharafu, Basil Hameed, Kashif Daud, Adithya Shetty, Vriitya Aravind

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 16:42:57 +0530
Milagrow launches air duct cleaning robots in India

New Delhi, Jan 6

To increase the safety of people working or living in enclosed environments, Milagrow, a domestic service robots brand, has launched two advanced industry-grade duct cleaning robots - Hydra and Viper - in the Indian market at a starting priced of Rs. 1,199,000.

According to the company, both the robots help with cleaning accumulated dirt, dust smut, etc in rectangular or round air ducts with a diameter between 100-350mm. This will be useful for facility managers across corporates, factories, hotels, restaurants, airports, healthcare companies and more.

"The latest addition to Milagrow's product portfolio, Hydra is the world's most versatile duct cleaning robot that cleans large and medium-sized rectangular or round ducts between 250-1000mm in size. It can also climb up to 30 degrees," the company said in a statement.

It comes with an extendable telescopic cleaning arm, 3-way camera to leave no dead corners. A rotation rate of 297 rpm, 360-degree maneuverability on its own axis, variable speed control provides it with huge versatility.

The full set of Milagrow Hydra weighing includes a cleaning robot, smart control box, 20 m flexible cable, an 1800W, 60L vacuum cleaner, four types of brush heads for different size ducts.

Meanwhile, Milagrow Viper cleans round and rectangular ducts between 100-350mm. It comes with three PA 66 nylon brushes that have long durability and spins both sides and cleans efficiently without damaging the duct.

Its footswitch makes for easy movement control whereas the flexible shaft bracket ensures easy storage. Viper's Omni-directional wheel eases maneuvering around.

The full set of Milagrow Viper includes the robot, control box, 10 m shaft/cable, sliding car, footswitch, and three types of brushes.


Wed, 06 Jan 2021 16:40:32 +0530
Mumbai Central terminus to be renamed after Nana Shankarsett

Mumbai, Jan 6

The iconic Mumbai Central Terminus and station on the Western Railway (WR), shall be renamed after the legendary businessman and philanthropist, Jagannath Shankarseth Murkute, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said here on Wednesday.

The move comes nearly 10 months after the Maharashtra Cabinet cleared a proposal to the effect in March 2020 and forwarded it to the Centre.

"Since past 6 years, I have been engaged in writing letters to all concerned departments in the Centre and various ministers, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and finally it has been approved. This is a matter of great pride that the important terminus shall be named in honour of Jagannath (Nana) Shankarseth," Sawant told mediapersons.

The central government has already initiated the renaming process, as per a communication from Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai to the Shiv Sena's South Mumbai MP.

Constructed in 1930, the WR terminus was originally known as Bombay Central, and renamed as 'Mumbai Central' in 1997 after the state changed the name of Bombay city to the native 'Mumbai'.

Later, in 2018, the station code was changed to MMCT for the terminus which serves the origin point for important trains serving north and north-west Indian states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, besides Maharashtra.

Some of the noteworthy trains include the August Kranti Rajdhani Express, the Hazrat Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express, Swaraj Express, Golden Temple Express, Garib Nawaz Express, Gujarat Mail, Gujarat Express, etc, besides the bulk of the suburban section trains which halt at the Mumbai Central Station.

Born into an aristocratic priestly family, Jagannath Shankarseth Murkute (Feb.1803-July 1865) diverted his interests to become a renowned businessman, social workers and philanthropist of his era.

He ranks amongst the early fathers of Mumbai who played a key role in the development of city around 200 years ago and laid the foundations enabling it to attain the current status as the country's commercial capital.

In 1845, Shankarseth, along with other legends like Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, formed the Indian Railway Association and negotiated with the British rulers to bring the railways to India, which finally materialized on April 16, 1853.

Accompanied by other prominent personalities, Shankarseth travelled on the historic Mumbai-Thane journey of the maiden railway line on the Indian subcontinent that day.

Over the years, he also contributed to setting several educational and public institutions, contributed or arranged huge donations to leading museums, libraries, scientific institutions and other important organisations, many of which stand even today.


Wed, 06 Jan 2021 15:50:41 +0530
Aus plan for India spinners Use reverse sweeps hit over the top

Australian batsmen are being encouraged to go after the Indian spinners with whatever shots they feel comfortable with, including sweeps and reverse sweeps in the remaining two Test matches of the ongoing four-match series.

The Aussies have struggled to get going against the Indian spin attack in the first two Tests, especially against Ravichandran Ashwin who has picked 10 wickets so far and has most importantly got the better of prolific Australia batter Steve Smith.

"We have just spoken about the mindset. We have actually got some decent plans. It is just a matter of going out and having the courage to execute them. So if you are the guy who wants to execute them and hit over the top or if you are the guy who wants to sweep and reverse sweep the spinners when they are bowling then we have been just encouraging guys to do that," said Australia skipper Tim Paine on the eve of the third Test match beginning Thursday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The addition of David Warner will definitely provide the team with the edge. Warner had spoken the other day about the batsmen, especially openers, not being able to take the game on.

Paine admitted that they have allowed the Indian bowlers to dictate terms to them.

"Taking the game on and play the way you want to play (has been our advice to batsmen). I think at times we have just let them dictate to us little bit, let them build pressure and then with pressure you lose wickets at times. So it is about being really clear on your plans and about having the courage to execute it and do it your way," said the Australia captain.

He also said that ideally they would want to target the newcomers in the bowling line-up, especially Mohammed Siraj and whoever replaces Umesh Yadav in the third Test and ensure that they tire out both Jasprit Bumrah and Ashwin by making them bowl a lot of overs. But he added that it easier said than done because India have good reserves.

"Ideally, we might want (Bumrah and Ashwin) bowling a lot of overs and scoring a lot runs against the Indians but what we have seen again with the Indian batters is that they have got depth around their squad...Same with their attack we have seen them do well. The guys who have come in, we played against them in Australia A games and we know the skills they have got. We certainly can't take any of them lightly..."

"But yeah, huge key is to get a lot of overs into Bumrah and Ahswin and if we can do that then obviously we are scoring more runs and we are making younger guys bowl a bit more. That is the key regardless who we are playing against," said Paine ahead of the third Test which will be telecast live on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six channels.

The series is currently tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the first Test in Adelaide while India registering a win in the second in Melbourne.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 10:50:59 +0530
Sensex pares major gains after hitting record high

The key Indian equity indices hit fresh all-time high levels on Wednesday morning before shedding major gains to trade marginally higher.

Sensex opened at an all-time high of 48,616.66, and the Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange touched a new record of 14,244.15 points.

Around 10 a.m., Sensex was trading at 48,490.46, higher by 52.68 or 0.11 per cent from its previous close of 48,437.78.

The Nifty50 was trading at 14,217.15, higher by 17.65 points or 0.12 per cent from its previous close.

The top gainers on the Sensex were ONGC, State Bank of India and Titan Company, while the major losers were ITC, Hindustan Unilever and Reliance Industries.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 10:49:04 +0530
Heavy snowfall disrupts life in Kashmir

Intermittent heavy snowfall during the last 48 hours threw life out of gear in Kashmir on Wednesday as the meteorological (MeT) department forecast improvement in weather from afternoon.
Over two ft snow accumulated on the ground in plains of the valley while the higher reaches in Jammu and Kashmir received nearly four ft of snow during the last 48 hours.
Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed on Wednesday for the fourth consecutive day while no flight operation took place from Srinagar airport for the second day.
Authorities are battling to restore traffic on the main roads in the valley while most of the rural areas remained cut off.
Hardships for the locals are compounded by the failure of the electric supply in the rural areas while the same remained erratic in semi-urban and urban areas.

"There would be improvement in weather conditions from today afternoon and during the next few days, weather is likely to remain mainly dry.

"This will help increase the day temperatures, but night temperatures would drop significantly during this period", an official of the MeT department said.

The ongoing 40-day long period of harsh winter cold known locally as the 'Chillai Kalan' will end on January 31.
Srinagar recorded minus 0.9, Pahalgam minus 1.2 and Gulmarg minus 3.5 as the minimum temperatures on Wednesday.
The minimum temperature recorded in Kargil was minus 11.6, and Drass had minus 8.6 as the night's lowest temperature.
Jammu city had 12.1, Katra 9.2, Batote 3.2, Banihal 0.2 and Bhadarwah 2.2 as the day's lowest temperatures.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 10:44:09 +0530
Brazil sees over 1 000 Covid deaths in 24 hours

Brazil has recorded 1,171 more deaths from the novel coronavirus disease, raising the total death toll to 197,732, the Ministry of Health said.

According to the ministry, tests detected on Tuesday 56,648 new cases of infection in the last 24 hours, bringing the accumulated caseload to 7,810,400 since the onset of the pandemic here at the end of February, Xinhua news agency reported.

The deaths reported on Tuesday were the second-highest single-day fatalities since September, after 1,194 patients died on December 30.

Brazil has the world's second-highest Covid-19 death toll, after the US, and the third-largest outbreak, after the US and India.

The state of Sao Paulo, the most populated in the country, is the epicentre of the national outbreak, with 1,486,551 cases and 47,222 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 443,607 cases and 25,837 deaths from the virus.

Brazil is currently seeing a second wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, with a significant increase in cases since December that has pushed the public healthcare system to the brink of collapse in several regions.

Manaus, capital of northern Amazonas state, decreed a 180-day state of emergency on Tuesday due to the fact that the occupancy of hospital beds available for treating Covid-19 patients has reached 100 per cent.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 10:33:23 +0530
India records less than 20K Covid cases for 5th consecutive day

After witnessing spike of over 16,000 cases for two consecutive days, India recorded 18,087 fresh cases of coronavirus infections and 264 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the country's overall tally to 1,03,74,932, while the death toll touched 1,50,114, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday.

India continued its streak of low daily new cases as the number of fresh infections remained below 20,000 for the fifth consecutive day.

Till now, 99,97,272 have recovered. Currently, there are 2,27,546 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 96.36 per cent while the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state till date. Over 84 per cent of the daily new cases are being reported by 10 states -- Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Mass vaccination drive is slated to begin soon, with the approval of two vaccines.

The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the drive. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with comorbidities.

Wed, 06 Jan 2021 10:29:07 +0530
Thunderstorms with lightning forecast for south coastal Andhra

Amaravati, Jan 5

The weather department has forecast thunderstorms accompanied by lightning in parts of south coastal Andhra Pradesh for Tuesday and Wednesday, an unusual feature in January for the Telugu state.

It has not predicted any further inclement weather after the two-day rain forecast. This comes several weeks after the very severe cyclonic storm Nivar.

Farmers in several places in coastal region have already readied their paddy fields for the Rabi crop and sowed seeds which have shot forth shoots, especially in several villages near Bhimavaram in West Godavari district.

They are also in a bit of a hurry as the government has advised them to advance their farm works, considering irrigation water will be stopped earlier than usual to facilitate the construction of the Polavaram Project on the river Godavari.

Meanwhile, low level northeasterlies and easterly winds continue to blow over the southern state.

The maximum temperature on Monday was recorded around 30 degrees Celsius. Among the 19 monitored places, Jangamaheswarapuram recorded a maximum of 31.4 degrees Celsius.

Tue, 05 Jan 2021 12:22:48 +0530
Frequent travel will make you 7 more happier than others

New York, Jan 5

Do you travel frequently? If so, then there are chances that you are leading a much happier life than those who don't venture out at all -- a whole 7 per cent more -- reveals a new study.

The study, published in the journal Tourism Analysis, showed that participants who reported regularly traveling at least 120 kms away from home also reported being about 7 per cent happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely.

"While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction," said Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

"It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things," he added.

For the study, the participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year.

They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction.

Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7 per cent of respondents did not take any vacations.

As travel restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry.

Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people's interest in discussing their opinions about travel.

Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation.

"This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them," Chen said.

"If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation," he added.

Tue, 05 Jan 2021 12:18:20 +0530
Lebanon imposes total lockdown for 25 days

Beirut, Jan 5

 Lebanon's Covid-19 ministerial committee has approved a 25-day lockdown set to start from Thursday until February 1 in an attempt to curb the spike in the number of new cases, which increased to an unprecedented level over the past few days.

"The situation in the country has reached a very dangerous level amid the inability of hospitals to secure more beds for Covid-19 patients which necessitates the implementation of a new lockdown," Xinhua news agency quoted Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan as saying in a press conference on Monday.

All shops and restaurants will shut their doors down except for supermarkets and pharmacies, which will be allowed to remain open until 5 p.m.

The committee also approved a curfew to start from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. except doctors, nurses and journalists.

Lebanon's coronavirus caseload increased by 2,861 to 192,139, while the death toll went up by 13 to 1,512.

Tue, 05 Jan 2021 11:47:52 +0530
Equity indices fall Sensex down around 200 points

Mumbai, Jan 5

0The ke0y Indian equity indices declined on Tuesday with the BSE Sensex losing around 200 points tracking weakness in the global markets

The across-the-board selloff was led by metal, oil and gas stocks.

Around 10.15 a.m., Sensex was trading at 47,986.84, lower by 189.96 points or 0.39 per cent from its previous close of 48,176.80.

It opened at 48,037.63 and has so far touched an intraday high of 48,129.79 and a low of 47,903.38 points

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 14,064.50, lower by 68.40 points or 0.48 per cent from its previous close.

The major losers on the Sensex were ONGC, Mahindra & Mahindra and Bajaj Finance, while the top gainers were Axis Bank, HDFC and TCS.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 11:38:35 +0530
Microsoft Azure helps IRCTC chatbot boost user experience by 70

New Delhi, Jan 5

Microsoft said on Tuesday that its Azure Cloud platform has helped Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporations (IRCTC) AI-powered chatbot AskDISHA improve satisfaction of customer interactions by 70 per cent.

Developed by conversational AI platform CoRover, the virtual assistant uses technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to answer passenger queries.

Following the success of AskDISHA, IRCTC is partnering with CoRover to co-sell and re-sell AI products and services to government and private organisations across industries, the company said in a statement.

"Microsoft Azure helps CoRover deliver highly scalable solutions like AskDISHA that allows organisations like IRCTC engage effectively with their customers. We are excited to partner with CoRover as their chatbot-as-a-service platform is adopted across industries," said Sangeeta Bavi, Director–Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India.

Since its inception in October 2018, the AskDISHA chatbot has handled over 10 billion interactions benefiting more than 178 million passengers.

Supporting both voice and text capabilities in English and Hindi, it is available on both web and mobile app interfaces.

The chatbot can answer user queries on ticket reservation, refund status, PNR search, cancellations, probability of ticket confirmation, as well as other travel and tourism offerings of the Indian Railways subsidiary.

"With secure and scalable architecture on Microsoft Azure, conversational AI platforms like AskDISHA can offer multi-format, omni-channel as well as multilingual support using different technologies to integrate as well as create and train, CoRover's chatbots also offer real-time analytics for quick decision-making," explained Ankush Sabharwal, Founder, CoRover.

AskDISHA processes about 150,000 passenger queries daily and customer queries across other channels like social media, phone calls and emails have been reduced by 70 per cent.

Tue, 05 Jan 2021 11:34:16 +0530
SC nod to Central Vista project including new Parliament building

New Delhi, Jan 5

In a major relief for the Modi government, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court cleared the redevelopment plan for Central Vista with a 2:1 majority on Tuesday, although with riders.

The bench held that there were "no infirmities in clearances given, change in land use and the environmental clearances". However, it imposed some riders like clearance from heritage conservation committee.

A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna said the heritage conservation committee's approval is needed before consruction begins and directed that the project proponents to get that approval.

The project envisages a new triangular Parliament building, with a seating capacity of up to 1,200 MPs. The project is estimated to be constructed by August 2022, when the country will celebrate its 75th Independence Day.

On December 7, the top court had expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Centre for reportedly initiating construction process with announcement of ground breaking ceremony for the new parliament building in the Central Vista project, even as the issues connected with the redevelopment plan was under its consideration.

On December 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building. The construction is expected to cost around Rs 971 crore and the common Central Secretariat is likely to be built by 2024.

The petitioners had challenged the project with allegations of illegal change in land use and urged the court to quash the project.

The petitioners had challenged a notification issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on December 21, 2019 regarding changes in land use for the redevelopment.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 11:29:43 +0530
Indian chess is in good hands says AICF secretary Chauhan

Chennai, Jan 5

Bharat Singh Chauhan, who has retained his secretary post in All India Chess Federation (AICF), has stated that a lot of good things are in the offing for the Indian chess, including the long impending Indian league, a property that many prospective sponsors are looking at.

On Monday, the impasse in the Indian chess finally came to an end as Chauhan and his team scored a huge victory over the camp headed by sitting president P.R. Venketrama Raja in an online election conducted as per the directives of the Madras High Court.

"We are going to work as a team, I have been fighting this for almost one and a half years now, just for justice and the good sense has finally prevailed. The justice is delivered and the Indian chess is in good hands is all I can promise for now. All our election promises will be delivered," said Chauhan in a statement.

It turned out to be a massive victory for the Chauhan camp, that until Sunday was complaining of the likely tampering of votes etc. and was rebuffed by the opposition that said they were sure to lose.

As per the final results of the online poll held on Monday, Sanjay Kapoor, Chauhan and Naresh Sharma were declared elected for the three crucial posts of president, secretary and treasurer of AICF.

The six persons who were elected for the posts of vice-presidents are Anantha D.P, Bhavesh Patel, Vipnesh Bhardwaj, Ajay Ajmera, PC Lallianthanga and Er. Niapung Konia.

The newly-elected joint secretaries are Rajesh R, Mahendra Dhakal, Atul Kumar, Mughaho Awomi, Diljeet Khanna and Atanu Lahiri.

In total, team Chauhan won 11 of the total 15 posts comprising president, secretary, treasurer, five vice-presidents and three joint secretaries while the rival camp won one vice-president and three joint secretaries post.

"I am sure that the work done in last three years will see its true pinnacle now," said GM Abhijeet Gupta on the massive victory.

The new office-bearers will hold posts till 2023.

Team AICF:

President: Sanjay Kapoor

Vice presidents: Anantha D.P, Bhavesh Patel, Vipnesh Bhardwaj, Ajay Ajmera, PC Lallianthanga and Er. Niapung Konia

Secretary: Bharat Singh Chauhan

Joint Secretaries: Rajesh R, Mahendra Dhakal, Atul Kumar, Mughaho Awomi, Diljeet Khanna & Atanu Lahiri


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:37:12 +0530
Gal Gadot on finding right fighting style for Wonder Woman

Los Angeles, Jan 5

Actress Gal Gadot says there were not many cinematic references as to how a female superhero should fight, as usually men are protagonists of films in the superhero genre.

The actress added that it was a lengthy process to find the right style of fighting, for her on-screen superhero avatar of Wonder Woman.

"For years (director) Patty (Jenkins) and I have been talking about finding the right fighting style for Wonder Woman, because usually when you go to superhero movies the protagonist is a man. And men fight like men. We all know how it looks, because you have WWA and WWF and all those things," Gadot said.

"For women, you have some examples as well, but you don't get to see so much, so it's not like it was completely clear, and Patty and I wanted to make sure that Wonder Woman looks and fights like Wonder Woman should," she added.

The actress continued: "So, before we even started prepping for the movie Patty and I went to see Cirque du Soleil, and we saw this piece where I was in tears, it was so beautiful and powerful. And Patty felt it was a great inspiration to how one woman should fight. So when we started prepping, we had this idea of how I needed to move and how should everything look."

"We had to build things that were essentially never built before because it was never done that way before. We had huge wire rigs that took months to build, but I think that what we managed to gain from it was a way for those fights to look so original and so powerful and at the same time so graceful and elegant," she added.

Gadot has reprised her role of Diana Prince and her superhero alter ego Wonder Woman in "Wonder Woman 1984", sequel to the Patty Jenkins-directed 2017 DC hit, "Wonder Woman".

The film also stars Robin Wright as Antiope and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta. The Warner Bros. Pictures project released in India on December 24 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:26:39 +0530
Aparshakti Khurana reveals why his next is called Helmet

New Delhi, Jan 5

Actor Aparshakti Khurana is gearing up for the release of his first movie as in a lead role, Helmet. He reveals the reason for the title of the film, and it is amusing.

"Helmet is a word given to condoms, actually. The film is about condoms. It is about how even in today's day and age it is awkward for people to ask for a pack of condoms at the medical store, even in big cities like Delhi or Mumbai," Aparshakti told IANS.

He added: "It is a situational awkward comedy but it's not like that throughout the film people will keep talking about condoms!"

Directed by Satram Ramani, Helmet is a quirky comedy that depicts the ground reality in the heartlands of the country, where talking about protection for sex is awkward. The film also features Abhishek Banerjee and Ashish Verma in pivotal roles.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:24:17 +0530
Hopes revive of air connectivity from Agra

Agra, Jan 5

The Taj city with three world heritage monuments, could soon be air connected with major Indian cities.

The Kheria airport officials confirmed some airlines had sought permission to begin flights.

Tourism circles in the Taj city welcomed fresh initiatives to air connect Agra with Goa, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bhopal.

Air India is already in the line to start a flight to Goa. Initially, this could be a weekly flight but later if there is tourist support, the number of flights could be increased, an official said.

Zoom airways may also start flights to Lucknow, Bhopal, under the Udan scheme. The lone flight to Jaipur was suspended last year due to poor response.

Permission from the air force which controls the Kheria airport is necessary to start a flight. The union civil aviation ministry has drawn up a plan to provide an independent approach road and a new terminal building, to avoid security bottlenecks. The boundary of the new complex is almost complete.

"Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the momentum was halted, but now that conditions seem to be returning to normal, and the number of visitors going up, work could be speeded up," senior tourism industry leader Surendra Sharma said.

Each year, Agra is visited by seven to eight million tourists from all over. A large percentage comprises foreign tourists.

With three world heritage monuments and half a dozen other attractions, Agra is India's major tourist destination, with more than a dozen five-star hotels and hundreds of small and big hotels.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:20:23 +0530
Khalilzad visits Pak ahead of Afghan peace talks resumption

Islamabad, Jan 5

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has embarked on a trip to Pakistan ahead of the resumption of the peace talks between representatives of the Taliban and the Kabul government.

Following his arrival on Monday, Khalilzad met Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the Afghan peace process, Xinhua news agency quoted the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said as saying in a statement.

The meeting came ahead of the resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations in Qatar scheduled for Tuesday that will focus on reduction of violence and a ceasefire in conflict-stricken Afghanistan.

The Taliban and an Afghan government's negotiating team had announced a three-week break last month for consultations with their leadership.

Besides Bajwa, the ISPR statement said that Khalilzad met other military leaders at the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi and discussed matters of mutual interest including overall regional security situation with particular reference to ongoing Afghan reconciliation process.

"Both reaffirmed the commitment towards the common goal of peace and stability in the region and agreed on continued engagement at multiple levels," the statement added.

The peace negotiations, which formally kick-off in September 2020, witnessed a breakthrough last month after the two sides agreed on procedural rules for the talks.

They also confirmed to have exchanged their lists about the agenda of the peace talks.

According to TOLO News, in its draft of demands, the Afghan government's team has added ceasefire, preservation of national sovereignty, media freedom and the prohibition of activity by foreign fighters in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban's demands include an Islamic government structure, establishment of an Islamic council, and ensuring women's rights and the rights of all citizens based on Islamic principles.

Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:18:28 +0530
Implementation of Nitish Kumar s dream project under question mark

Patna, Jan 5

While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was busy in taking a high-level meeting at the secretariat in Patna, one of his dream projects -- water connectivity to every house called "Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal" Program -- appeared not properly being implemented on ground at several places in the state.

A newly constructed overhead water tank built under "Saat Nishchay" scheme was collapsed within five minutes as a submersible pump was started to fill water in it in Beldhar Bigha village of Gaya district.

The incident has created chaos in the area. Fortunately, no one came under the debris of the tank. The villagers alleged that the contractor had used low-quality material in the construction of this tank.

This was not the first case, similar incidents have also been reported in Khagaria, Nalanda and Nawada districts as well.

This scheme is having a scope of scam and it is appearing from time to time in Bihar. Darbhanga police have also arrested a Ward Secretary and Ward Member in connection of alleged embezzlement of the government funds.

Darbhanga police have arrested Ward Secretary Vijay Yadav of Benipur Block for embezzling Rs 2,29,000 on Monday while Ward Member Shatrudhan Mukhiya was arrested for taking away Rs 13,48,400.

Anmol Mishra, Block Development Officer of Benipur in Darbhanga, had registered a complaint on November 26 after the detection of fraud. He said that the arrest was made after proper investigation by the police.

The Chief Minister on Monday held a high-level meeting on to analyse development projects in Bihar.

He took a review of "Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal" scheme. Besides, he also approved easy road connectivity to every village. As per the plan, he has given direction to the Road Construction Department to connect every village with important places.

An Additional Chief Secretary level officer of the Road Construction Department presented a plan to construct 120 bypass roads in important cities, sub towns and blocks across the state.

According to the plan, the total length of these roads is estimated to be 708 km. These will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 4,154 crore in 48 months. 31 bypasses will be constructed alongside national highways and the remaining 89 are on state highways.


Tue, 05 Jan 2021 10:16:14 +0530
PM dedicates National Atomic Timescale to country

New Delhi, Jan 4

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday dedicated the National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya Pranali to the nation and laid the foundation stone of National Environmental Standards Laboratory through a video conference.

The National Atomic Timescale generates Indian Standard Time with an accuracy of 2.8 nanoseconds.

Expressing happiness over CSIR-NPL National Atomic Timescale which he dedicated to humanity, the Prime Minister said that India has become self-reliant in measuring the time within the range of a nano second.

"Achieving the accuracy level of 2.8 nano second is a huge capability in itself. Now Indian Standard Time is matching the International Standard Time with the accuracy range of less than 3 nano second. This will be a big help for an organisation like ISRO that is working with cutting-edge technology," Modi said.

Modern technology-related Banking, railways, defence, health, telecom, weather forecast, disaster management and many similar sectors will be benefited greatly from this achievement.

The Prime Minister also dwelled on the role of the timescale in strengthening India's role in Industry 4.0.

"India is moving towards a leading position in the field of environment. Still, for technology and tools for measuring air quality and emission, India is dependent on others. This achievement will lead to self-reliance in the field and will lead to creation of more effective and cheaper tools for pollution control. This will also enhance India's share in the global market for technologies related to air quality and emission technology."

The Prime Minister also delivered the inaugural address at the National Metrology Conclave 2021, which was organised by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi, on its 75th year of inception.

The theme of the conclave is 'Metrology for the Inclusive Growth of the Nation'. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan and Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan were present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister lauded Indian scientists for successfully developing two Indian Covid vaccines in this new year, saying "India's Covid vaccination programme is the largest in the world and is about to be started".

He lauded the scientific institutions in the country including CSIR for coming together to find solutions for every challenge faced by the country.

The Prime Minister urged CSIR to interact with students to raise awareness about the efforts of the institute and said this would motivate them to become scientists in future.

He urged the institute to come forward and play an important role in keeping with the new benchmarks to proceed towards forging a self-reliant India.

The Prime Minister remarked that as India's timekeeper CSIR-NPL also has the responsibility to change the future of the country.

Noting that India was dependent on foreign standards for quality and measurement over the decades, Modi said now India's pace, progress, rise, image, and strength will be decided by our own standards.

Modi said metrology is like a mirror showing us our standing in the world, the scope for improvement. He said the goal to achieve a self reliant India consists of quantity as well as quality and urged to win the hearts of every customer who purchases Indian products, instead of just filling the world with Indian products.

The Prime Minister also stressed to ensure that Made in India products not only meet global demand but also get global acceptance.

He said the Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya, dedicated to the nation on Monday, would help the industry to make quality products in sectors like heavy metals, pesticides, pharma and textiles by drafting a 'Certified Reference Material System'.

The Prime Minister added now the industry is moving towards a consumer-oriented approach instead of a regulation-centric approach. He said with these new standards, there is a campaign to bring global identity to local products in districts across the country, which will be of particular benefit to our MSMEs sector.

Modi said complying with global standards will help large foreign manufacturing companies coming to India to find a local supply chain.

He said with the new standards the quality of both export and import would be ensured. It will also provide quality goods to the general consumer of India and reduce the problems faced by the exporter.


Mon, 04 Jan 2021 16:20:52 +0530
Proud moment Inspector dad salutes DSP daughter in Tirupati

Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Jan 4

It was a moment of pride for an Andhra Pradesh Police inspector when he could salute his daughter, who is the Deputy Superintendent of Police.

During a police meeting in Tirupati, Shyam Sunder, the police circle inspector currently working in Tirupati Kalyani Dam police training centre saw his DSP daughter, Jessie Prasanthi, at the police meet dubbed 'Ignite'.

Sunder's instant reaction was to raise his hand in salute to his officer.

What transpired between the two was witnessed by many and warmed everyone's heart.

On seeing his daughter at the prestigious police conference, Sunder approached Prasanthi and saluted her, as she holds a higher rank to him.

Prasanthi is slated to become a member of the elite Indian Police Service (IPS) in some years.

Prasanthi is from the 2018 batch, who took charge as the DSP of Guntur of urban south and is currently attending the police meet under the women's safety initiative 'Disha'.

Sunder was elated to see his daughter interacting with senior IPS officers right in front of him, prompting him to surprise Prasanthi with the salute and addressing her as 'madam'.

On receiving the salute, Prasanthi reciprocated in similar manner and burst into laughter saying "enti nanna" (what is this dad) in Telugu and in a jovial mood amid a sea of police officials who witnessed this rare professional moment.

"There is no bigger happiness than children becoming successful in life. I have the belief that my child will serve the people with integrity," said Sunder.

Reflecting on the inspiring development, Tirupati Superintendent of Police (SP) Ramesh Reddy said scenes like this generally play out in movies.

"I feel very proud to see the father-daughter duo donning uniform and serving the people at the Tirupati duty meet. All the best Prasanthi," said Reddy.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 16:17:08 +0530
Covid fallout Maha pushes HSC SSC boards to April May

Mumbai, Jan 4

The Maharashtra government is planning to hold the current Academic Year (AY 2020-2021) HSC and SSC Board examinations in mid-April and early May, Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said here on Monday.

"We are considering holding HSC exams after April 15 and SSC exams after May 1," Gaikwad tweeted late on Sunday.

The Minister added that the government is consulting the health officials on the possibility of reopening schools for classes 5 to 8, and decision would soon be taken on this.

Normally, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) conducts the crucial HSC exams in February followed by SSC in March.

This year, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the state schools are shut since the past 10 months and students have been attending online classes.

While endorsing the Minister's announcement, the Mumbai Principals Association (MPA) has said that the exams should be pushed back even more since students will not get sufficient time to prepare for these critical exams.

"The online classes are just okay and not very efficient. There is no decision on reopening the schools for regular classes so far. January-Febebruary 2021 may be a washout.

"That leaves only March-April for the students to prepare for the exams, which is not sufficient," MPA Secretary, Principal Prashant Redij told IANS.

Moreover, many people from urban areas are still stuck in their native villages, and there could be further delays hampering their efforts to prepare for exams.

Redij expressed concerns that given the feedback received on the online education, "there could be a drop in academic standards, students' performance and the overall Board results this year".

According to MPA's estimates there are a little more than 150,000 schools in the state attended by over 10 million students who are taught by around one million teachers in the public and private sector.

Parents and students also apprehend that they stand to lose a second consecutive year of the much-awaited annual summer vacations, and they would be compelled to cancel their holiday plans even this year.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:45:13 +0530
Homeless mother daughter raped in Delhi 3 held after viral video

New Delhi, Jan 4

The Delhi Police has arrested two men for raping a destitute mother and daughter duo on the roadside in northwest Delhi after a video of the crime went viral.

The accused in their twenties raped the homeless pair in the JJ colony of Wazirpur. The police also arrested a man for making the video of the crime from the balcony of his house and posting it on social media.

According to police, the incident took place on the intervening night of December 29 and 30. On January 3, the social media was abuzz with the crime. Immediately the police team swung into action. There were no PCR calls needed as the probe teams got cracking.

The police teams examined CCTV footages, collected intelligence from around the area, carried out local enquiry and hunted through bus stops, Metro Stations, shelter homes to track the victims. Both of the victims were finally traced after efforts of the police teams.

"Statements of victims, mother aged around 35 years who is a rag picker and daughter aged around 18 years were recorded," said Vijayanta Arya, DCP North West Delhi.

"Their medical examination have been conducted. And a case was registered under sections 323/341/354/354C/376/509/506/34 IPC at Bharat Nagar Police station.

Then the searches were launched for tracing the accused who were between the age of 20-30 years. The victims identified the accused from among those picked up as suspects.

The accused have been identified as Sonu, 22, a resident of Jahangir Puri and Amit, 24, a resident of JJ Colony.

The person who made the video was identified as Ritik, 18, a resident of K Block JJ Colony Wazirpur.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:40:50 +0530
Time for consolidation post fireworks Market Watch

Calendar year 2020 has come to an end and it was a spectacular one for the markets, not withstanding Covid-19. The benchmark indices returned gains of 15.75 per cent on BSESENSEX and 15.75 per cent on NIFTY. Bank NIFTY returned negative returns of 2.79 per cent.

The week ended 1st January 2021 saw BSESENSEX gain 895.45 points or 1.91 per cent to close at 47,868.99 points while NIFTY gained 269.25 points or 1.96 per cent to close at 14,018.50 points. BSE100, BSE200 and BSE500 gained 2.01 per cent, 2.09 per cent and 2.21 per cent respectively. BSEMIDCAP was up 2.76 per cent while BSESMALLCAP was up 3.31 per cent. Since around Diwali time in just over six weeks the BSESENSEX has added 4,500 points while NIFTY has added 1,300 points.

The Indian Rupee gained 42 paisa or 0.57 per cent to close at Rs 73.12 to the US Dollar. Dow Jones closed at a new high for the year at 30,606.48 points. The gain was 406.61 points or 1.35 per cent. The high of the year was 30,637.47 points intraday made on the last trading day of the year. The gains clocked by Dow jones for calendar year 2020 were 7.25 per cent.

NIFTY futures for December series expired on a positive note gaining 994.75 points or 7.66 per cent. Expiry day itself was one of the quietest days witnessed with intraday movement of just 88 points and net gains of -0.20 points. NIFTY has registered gains in the last six series out of seven. The only month in which it was negative was in September 2020.

The issue from Antony Waste Handling Cell Limited listed on the bourses on the opening day of the new calendar year. The discovered price was Rs 430 on BSE and Rs 436.10 on NSE. The scrip touched a high of Rs 492.75 on BSE, before profit taking saw the scrip dip below the opening price and close at Rs 407.25, a gain of Rs 92.25 or 29.29 per cent.

SEBI has passed an order in the 2007 insider trading case of RPL against Reliance Industries, its Chairman and a couple of other entities and cumulatively fined them Rs 70 crs. The Reliance group had filed for consent terms thrice and offered to pay Rs 2 crs and finally Rs 10 crs in 2013 when the 3rd offer was rejected. In 2017, SEBI had asked the company and concerned entities to disgorge an amount of Rs 447 crs which was challenged by the company in SAT. This appeal was overturned in November 2020. This is an order post this appeal being dismissed.

Reliance is India's largest manufacturing company and has raised a huge amount of money in the recent two quarters for its telecom business from various overseas investors. Readers would also recall that during the thick of covid-19, the regulator SEBI had taken a very pragmatic view and assisted Reliance in fundraising through the largest ever rights issue. Its time Reliance accepts that the regulator is the final authority and needs to regulate companies and settle this case once and for all. One should remember that until this is settled this would always remain as a contingent matter on the books of Reliance Industries and come in the way when corporate governance is discussed. The announcement of the order could have a knee jerk impact on stock prices when trading resumes on Monday the 4th of January.

FII's continued their aggressive buying and invested Rs 48,223.94 crs in December on a net basis while Domestic institutions sold Rs 37,293 crs. Since the beginning of financial year 2020-21, FII's have bought in every single month except September when they were net sellers.

On the covid-19 front, the world saw 8,49,88,303 patients, 18,43,733 deaths and 6,01,06,382 patients recovering. In India we saw 1,03,24,631 patients, 1,49,471 deaths and 99,27,310 patients recovering. Compared to the previous week, the world saw 42,68,014 new patients, 79,035 deaths and 31,88,973 patients recovering. In India we saw 1,36,239 new patients, 1,812 deaths and 1,65,772 patients recovering. Vaccination of patients in the world has started and is likely to happen in India as well from next week. The protocols have been issued and various states are gearing up to administer the vaccine in a phased manner.

Markets have had a phenomenal run and many milestones have been achieved in the runup. One more remains with BSESENSEX waiting to touch 48,000 level. Once that is achieved and post the fireworks from Diwali to Christmas and New Year, it would be time for consolidation and digesting gains of this run-up. While this does not suggest that markets would correct sharply, it does imply that the direction of markets is likely to turn sideways and become less volatile. Investors would wait global cues, fresh allocation of funds, the swearing in of Joe Biden and how the Democrat administration views global challenges. All of this would take a couple of weeks before clarity emerges.

In such times it would be appropriate to encash huge gains made in the market and await buying opportunities.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:37:17 +0530
Japan PM determined to host Olympics amid Covid 19 worries

Tokyo, Jan 4

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that he is determined to host the Tokyo Olympic Games although the Covid-19 pandemic situation is worsening in his country.

Suga told a press conference that he will prepare for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with "determination" and take all possible measures against the infection and deliver "hope and courage" to the whole world, reports Xinhua news agency.

He also said that his government would consider declaring a state of emergency for Tokyo metropolitan and surrounding areas, which are suffering the most in the past few weeks.

The Tokyo Olympics, which were slated to be held in July-August in 2020, had to be postponed to summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has claimed over 18 lakh lives across the world thus far.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:31:14 +0530
Jack Ma disappears after conflict with Chinese govt

Beijing/New Delhi, Jan 4

Tech billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has "disappeared" from public life and has not been spotted for at least two months amid the conflict with the Chinese regulators.

The Financial Times reported that Ma was recently replaced as a judge in the final of TV show 'Africa's Business Heroes'.

"His photograph was removed from the judging webpage, and he was conspicuously left out of a promotional video," the report claimed.

The final took place in November, shortly after Ma "made a candid speech criticising China's regulators and its state-owned banks".

"Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing and the $37 billion initial public offering of his company Ant Group was suspended. He has not been seen in public since," the report further said.

A spokesperson for Alibaba was quoted as saying that "due to a schedule conflict Mr Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa's Business Heroes earlier this year (2020)".

Last month, as China's top market watchdog began investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by the e-commerce giant Alibaba, the country also laid out "rectification plan" for Ma's fintech venture Ant Group.

According to a report in TechCrunch, the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, "summoned Ant Group for regulatory talks on December 26th, announcing a sweeping plan for the fintech firm to 'rectify' its regulatory violations".

The banking authority laid out a five-point compliance agenda for Ant Group.

The agenda is that Ant Group should return to its roots in payments and bring more transparency to transactions.

Ant Group said it has established an internal "rectification workforce" to work on all the regulatory requirements.

Xinhua news agency had first reported that The People's Bank of China, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission, and State Administration of Foreign Exchange will "interview Ant Group in the near future".

The State Administration for Market Regulation started investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by ecommerce giant Alibaba, as Beijing tightened control of an expanding Internet.

In a brief note, the State Administration for Market Regulation said that it is investigating Alibaba over its "choosing one from two" policy.

As part of this policy, merchants are forced to sell exclusively on Alibaba e-commerce platforms and skip rivals like

Alibaba Group said in a statement that they have received notification from the State Administration for Market Regulation.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:27:58 +0530
Ananya Panday Deepika Padukone is the biggest sweetheart

New Delhi, Jan 4

Budding actress Ananya Panday finds working with Bollywood star Deepika Padukone anything but intimidating. She calls Deepika the biggest sweetheart.

Ananya is surrently working with Deepika in Shakun Batra's untitled next film that also features Siddhant Chaturvedi.

Asked if it's intimidating to work with a star, Ananya told IANS: "Not at all. She (Deepika) is the biggest sweetheart. As beautiful as she is on the outside, she is as beautiful on the inside. She is one of the nicest and warmest people ever. She is literally like my sister. We have a really good relationship."

"She has done a really good job in making all of us feel comfortable on set. There are no intimidating vibes. We did workshops together, too. She is a very caring person," she added.

Another star Ananya looks up to is Kareena Kapoor Khan -- especially her character Poo in Karan Johar's 2001 film "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham". She recently had a fan girl moment while talking to Kareena.

"One of the biggest compliments for me was when Kareena herself said, 'if there had to be a Poo now, I think you would be able to play it'. I am just hoping that Karan saw it or read it somewhere. That's a dream role. She was so iconic for all us while we were growing up," said Ananya, who was recently seen in the digitally-released film "Khaali Peeli", opposite Ishaan Khatter.


Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:24:13 +0530
BEML shares surge nearly 8 as govt invites EoIs for stake sale

Mumbai, Jan 4

Shares of public sector undertaking BEML surged nearly 8 per cent on Monday after the government announced to sell 26 per cent stake in the company and invited expressions of interest (EoI) for the same.

Its shares opened 7.7 per cent higher to touch an intraday high of Rs 1,050 points.

They have, however, pared gains and around 11 a.m. were trading at Rs 1,007.00, higher by Rs 32.75 or 3.36 per cent from its previous close.

"Govt has issued the PIM/EOI for disinvestment of 26 per cent equity share capital of BEML Ltd along with transfer of management control. Disinvestment will be through a two stage competitive bidding process," said a tweet by the Twitter handle of the Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management on Sunday.

As per the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM), non-operational or surplus land assets will be hived-off and excluded from the process of strategic disinvestment.

BEML is a 'Miniratna' Category-1 Public Sector Undertaking, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence. The government currently holds 54.03 per cent stake in it.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:21:37 +0530
Prachanda to visit India for wife s treatment

Kathmandu, Jan 4

Chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka 'Prachanda', will embark on a visit to India on Monday for his wifes treatment.

Prachanda's wife, Sita Dahal is suffering from multiple ailments, including progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare kind of Parkinson's disease, diabetes and high-blood pressure.

Her health deteriorated recently and was admitted in a local Kathmandu hospital.

Prachanda and his wife Sita will arrive in Mumbai later in the day, a member of the NCP Chairman's private secretariat told IANS.

Earlier, Sita Dahal was taken to the John Hopkins University in the US, as well as Singapore for treatment.

Prachanda, who had recently split the NCP against Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, informed a party meeting on Sunday that due to his India visit, he would be unable to participate in the agitation against Oli's move against dissolution of the House of Representatives.

Sita Dahal has been unwell after their on;y son Prakash died in November 2017.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:17:16 +0530
Yediyurappa exhorts BJP cadres to ensure victory in bypolls

Shivamogga (Karnataka), Jan 3
Reiterating that he would remain in office till the 2023 Assembly elections, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Sunday exhorted the ruling BJP cadres to ensure the party's victory in a Lok Sabha and two assembly by-elections due soon.

"Party's state leaders and cadres should strive to ensure our victory in the ensuing by-elections to the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat and Basavakalyan and Maski Assembly seats, to be held soon," said Yediyurappa at the BJP's state core committee meeting here.

By-election to the Belgavi Lok Sabha seat has been necessitated due to the death of sitting member and Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi in September 2020 to Covid.

By-election to Basavakalyan in Bidar district has been necessitated due to the death of its sitting Congress member B. Narayana Rao in September 2020 to Covid and to Maski in Raichur district due to the resignation of Congress rebel legislator Pratapagouda Patil in July 2019.

Though then Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified Patil for the remaining term of the lower house, the Supreme Court in November 2019 allowed him to re-contest. Patil defected to the BJP in November 2019.

Lauding the cadres for the party's victory in 14 of the 17 assembly by-elections on December 5, 2019 and November 3, 2020, Yediyurappa said he would soon tour across the state to prepare the party for winning 140-150 seats in the next Assembly elections, due in April-May 2023.

Of the 17 assembly seats, the BJP wrested 11 from the Congress and 3 from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) whose rebel legislators resigned and defected to the BJP, leading to the fall of the 14-month JD-S-Congress coalition government after Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy lost the confidence motion in the assembly on July 23, 2019.

Claiming that a majority of candidates affiliated or loyal to the ruling party won in the recent Gram Panchayat (GP) polls, Yediyurappa said presidents and vice-presidents to the local bodies would soon be elected as per the law.

The BJP claimed 'victory' in 60 per cent of the 5,728 GP seats for which elections were held in 2 phases on December 22 and December 27 on non-party basis

"The party should also strive to win majority seats in the upcoming zilla parishad (ZP) and taluk panchayat (TP) elections to maintain the momentum in the run-up to the 2023 assembly elections," asserted Yediyurappa.

Mon, 04 Jan 2021 12:03:21 +0530
Education trends to look out for in 2021

New Delhi, Jan 2

According to UNESCO, in 2020, one billion students, two-thirds of the global student population, faced either school closures or uncertainty. The most vulnerable populations, particularly girls, remained especially at risk. 2020 brought remote, virtual learning to the horizon at a pace and scale never before. Is this to be carried forward into 2021?

As per Antonius Raghubansie, Director of Learning Services, British Council India. the year 2020 saw people turning to online resources to pursue their love for reading in the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, this was fuelled by the need for safety and reduced access to physical libraries and stores.

"The British Council online library content witnessed a 67 per cent increase in subscription over the last year (as of November '20). We are also seeing users above the age of 18 show increased preference for audiobooks - evident through a 192 per cent increase in checkouts over 2019 for our online library members. E-resources available through online library memberships gained popularity, especially among young readers, owing to the convenience of accessing them safely from personal devices at home. We foresee this trend continuing in 2021, as readers including families, professionals and young kids, would continue to prefer online resources for infotainment. In view of the current situation, we anticipate both E-books and audiobooks to continue gaining favor among learners in a digital-first world," Raghubansie told IANSlife.

"One thing that will remain in 2021 is blended pedagogy. We have seen the flexibility that the online mode has provided and there is no denying of its advantages. Entire industries have shifted to the virtual platform and the education sector will also have to continue in a blended format. Institutes must develop their digital infrastructures to match up in this post digital era. Meetings, seminars and such activities will remain online. However, in terms some experientials, campuses will have to be opened up for these activities, but a blended pedagogy is here to stay. This will also have a long-term impact, especially on valuable programs. The institutions that adopt the new method, new mode and new model will flourish while the others may perish. The quality of educational institutions will get enhanced and the number of students enrolled will only increase in the digital mode," said Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director of IIM Sambalpur.

"COVID-19 has taught our teachers and the education sector to use technology to seamlessly impart education to all students. This trend will continue in the coming year and more smart campuses and digital libraries will be implemented to cater to the new-age learner. This digitization of the education sector will have a long-term impact, democratizing education globally. We will also continue to see a hybrid learning model, which will pave the way for the future of education with access to both classroom teaching and online education, catering to each student's unique needs while giving them the best of both worlds," said Rahul V Karad, the Visionary Educationist, and the Managing Trustee & Executive President, MAEER's MIT Group of Institutions & Executive President, MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU), Pune.


Sat, 02 Jan 2021 12:34:20 +0530
India s Dec merchandise exports slips by 0 80 YoY

New Delhi, Jan 2

Lockdown measures in some of the key export markets subdued India's merchandise exports in December 2020, preliminary data showed on Saturday.

Accordingly, the country's merchandise exports during the month under review receded by 0.80 per cent to $26.89 billion from $27.11 billion in December 2019.

"India's merchandise exports in December 2020 was $26.89 billion, as compared to $27.11 billion in December 2019, a marginal fall of 0.80 per cent," a Ministry of Commerce and Industry statement said on the basis of preliminary data.

"Exports during April-December 2020-21 were $200.55 billion, as compared to $238.27 billion during the same period last year, exhibiting a negative growth of 15.8 per cent."

Sat, 02 Jan 2021 12:30:14 +0530
These trends may rule 2021 say fashion experts

New Delhi, Jan 2

While this year was all about comfort and meaningful design which works well for work from home, loungewear and intimate gatherings, 2021 is expected to a glamourous update of the same forecast the experts.

IANSlife spoke to industry veterans to shed light on trends that may rule 2021.

Designer Kunal Rawal

Trends to opt for 2021

Military tones are going to be huge in the coming year.

Personally I've always been fond of a good tonal grey look, so 'Ultimate Gray' is a colour I highly recommend.

The new year will see a rise in de-constructed utilitarian silhouettes, especially in chic neutral shades.

Pantone colours will dominate virtual runways. Both "Ultimate Gray" and "Illuminating" are colours that work well together as the sensibilities behind them are relatable.

Fashion Winners of 2020 were definitely silhouettes that were easy to lounge in. Comfort took charge over style, and as restrictions started easing up, menswear was championed by multi-utilitarian clothing that could easily transition from day to night.

Monica Shah of Jade by Monica & Karishma

I think comfort is going to be high on every bride's list of priorities when it comes to her bridal ensemble. We're going to see lighter fabrics and breezy silhouettes that not only facilitate movement but also make the bride feel completely at ease on her big day.

Another trend I see is that of experimentalism. Brides are going to be much keener to either deviate from what's seen as traditional or they're going to find ways to give their own unique touch to a traditional number.

Heirloom value. Ensembles, even the modern ones, are going to have a distinct heirloom element to them. Techniques like Ek Taar and Kasab can be effortlessly woven to craft contemporary pieces that still carry that heirloom appeal. These are the kind of pieces that score high on comfort, personal significance and artisanal excellence.

Sat, 02 Jan 2021 11:18:33 +0530
Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro to launch next month

Beijing, Jan 2

Xiaomi is reportedly planning to launch the Pro version of its recently announced flagship smartphone Mi 11 next month.

The smartphone maker is expected to launch the Mi 11 Pro after the Spring Festival in China, which marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year and kicks off from February 12, reports GizmoChina.

Mi 11 was announced last month as the first phone powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and now Mi 11 Pro will come with an improved 108MP primary camera as well as some more improvements over the regular model.

The main camera on the Mi 11 Pro is said to come with a newer 108-megapixel camera that could theoretically offer improved performance

The Pro model will support faster charging compared to Mi 11. The standard Mi 11 comes with 55W fast charging, 11 Pro is expected to come with 120W fast charging that the company revealed earlier this year.

The standard Mi 11 comes with a 6.81-inch AMOLED HDR10+ display with curved edges. The screen comes with a QHD+ resolution and supports up to 120Hz refresh rate. There is a hole-punch cutout on the top-left corner for the 20MP front camera.

Sat, 02 Jan 2021 11:16:08 +0530
Iran vows punishment against Soleimani s assassins

Tehran, Jan 2

The Iranian government has said that it will not rest until the assassins of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), were brought to justice.

"The US violated international law and the UN Charter in clear violation of Iraq's sovereignty," Xinhua news agency quoted the Iranian Foreign Ministry as saying on Friday.

"Iran will not give up until the authorities bring this action to justice," it added.

On January 3, 2020, Soleimani, along with an Iraqi militia commander, were killed near the Baghdad International Airport in an American airstrike.

On Friday, Brigadier General Esmail Qa'ani, the incumbent Commander of the Quds Force, described Soleimani as a "hero of the Islamic nations" who defeated the hegemonic powers through his resistance, according to official IRNA news agency.

Qa'ani said that the Quds Force will support any act seeking to punish the culprits of the assassination of Soleimani.

He also said that "the US has failed to influence the objectives of the resistance front" by assassinating Soleimani.

The path of IRGC Quds Force and the resistance front will not change with the US "acts of mischief", he was quoted as saying by Press TV on Friday.

Also, Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Friday that the "the perpetrators of the assassination won't be safe anywhere in the world", according to Press TV.

Sat, 02 Jan 2021 11:13:12 +0530
Don t believe in rumours against vaccine Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi, Jan 2

As India gears up to launch world's largest immunisation drive, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday requested people to not pay heed to the rumours against the much-awaited vaccine.

"I want to appeal to people to not believe in any rumors. Our prime criteria in the vaccine trial is the safety and efficacy and nothing will be compromised," Vardhan told the reporters after reviewing the dry run at a government hospital here.

In Delhi, mock-drives are being conducted at three sites -- government-run Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in Shahdara, primary health centre in Daryaganj, and private Venkateshwara hospital in Dwarka.

The Union Minister reminded that "different kinds of rumours were also spread during polio immunisation, but people took the vaccine and now India is polio-free".

Notably, coronavirus vaccine is slated to be soon rolled out.

The Oxford-AstraZenaca vaccine has been recommended by the expert panel tasked with vetting Covid-19 vaccine proposals and has been forwarded to the Drug Controller General of India for approval.

"The Drug Controller General of India will soon give its recommendation on the applications," assured Vardhan.

Once formalized, the vaccine -- globally known as AZD1222 -- will be the first silver bullet for the country, which has witnessed over one crore cases and nearly 1.5 lakh deaths till now.

A mega-drill is being conducted in all the states and union territories across 259 sites on Saturday to equip the administration in management of vaccine supply, storage and logistics, including cold chain management.

The objective of the dry run for Covid-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application in field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation.

Each mock drill site will have a waiting area, observation room and vaccination room.

There are 25 beneficiaries -- all health care workers -- who will be present at each site and vaccination team will demonstrate how they will be registered, how vaccines will be given, and how they will be monitored for adverse events.

On December 28 and 29, dry run for the Covid-19 vaccination was conducted in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh; Rajkot and Gandhinagar district of Gujarat; Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar of Punjab and Sonitpur and Nalbari districts of Assam.

Sat, 02 Jan 2021 11:09:25 +0530
England won t end SL tour in case of positive result Root

London, Jan 2

England captain Joe Root has said that a Covid-19 positive test result on tour of Sri Lanka will not mean an automatic end of the tour and that his side will have to manage to complete the tour even if there are any cases.

England had curtailed their tour of South Africa recently with the ODI series being called following some positive cases among south African players.

"I don't think it (a positive test result) will end in an automatic end of the tour," said Root ahead of the two-Test tour that begins on January 14.

"They are decisions that have to be made by the medical staff and the people entrusted in making those decisions. I don't think it's a player decision even though guys have the opportunity to opt out if they don't feel safe. All we've got to do is make sure we follow the guidelines as best as possible, if we do that we'll give ourselves the best chance of that not being a situation. Albeit we know the protocols if something was to happen."

Root said that they will have to be practical enough to accept Covid-19 cases coming up during tours as a norm.

"The reality is, look around the rest of the world, Pakistan in New Zealand, teams have had to deal with cases on tour. That might be the case for us, if so we have to manage it as best as possible."

Root's comments come after South Africa's chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra called on England and other countries to accept tempered bio-bubble models as the one followed by England last year while organising the home summer was expensive and not feasible for all nations.


Sat, 02 Jan 2021 10:52:06 +0530
Fire at Harley Davidson agency office Delhi

New Delhi, Jan 2

Fire was reported at a Harley Davidson motorcycle agency office in west Delhi's Moti Nagar area early Saturday. Four people were rescued from the blaze, fire officials said.

The fire broke out at around 1.36 a.m. It took over four hours to bring the inferno under control.

On the third floor of the building, there is a night club and the terrace is being used for a restaurant. The night club 'Markaz' does not have an NOC from the Fire Department.

"The fire apparently broke out in the first and second floor. Plastic materials, auto glasses, wind gasses storage area were affected by the blaze. Some portion of the ground floor and basement was also affected by the fire.

"The basement was being used for the storage of plastic materials," said Atul Garg, Director Delhi Fire Service.

A total of 25 fire tenders were rushed to the site. The fire was brought under control around 5.50 a.m. Four persons all in their early twenties, including a women have been rescued, the Fire Department said.


Sat, 02 Jan 2021 10:45:21 +0530
Centre to set up drug parks to make chemicals Minister

Bengaluru, Jan 2

The Central government would set up 3 bulk drugs parks to make chemicals compounds or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for medicines and reduce their imports from China, said Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Friday.

"The bulk drugs parks will be set up at a cost of Rs 14,300 crore in partnership with states to make chemicals for live-saving drugs and reduce their imports from China," said Gowda in a statement on the occasion of New Year here.

Though India is the biggest exporter of medicines to the world, China is the main supplier of chemicals (APIs) used in making drugs.

"It is high time we produce also the chemicals and other raw materials used in making live-saving drugs rather than depend on China," said Gowda in a statement here.

The ministry plans to also set up 4 additional parks to make a range of medical devices as an import-substitute under the Union government's Atmanirbhar Bharat flagship programme in the pharma sector.

The Union Cabinet on March 20, 2020 approved the schemes to set up 3 bulk drug parks to make APIs and intermediates over the next 5 years.

The ministry also issued guidelines on July 27 for setting up the parks for making ingredients and medical devices.

Besides Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh are among 14 states in race to set up the parks by offering land, other facilities and incentives.

To be self-sufficient in fertilisers for increasing food production, the Centre is setting up 5 urea plants with 12-lakh tonne capacity each per year across the country at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore.

"One urea plant is getting ready at Ramagundam in Telangana for commencing production soon," said Gowda.

Though the country was dependent on imports of personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and ventilators to fight coronavirus since the pandemic broke in March last year, the industry ramped up their production to 4 lakh PPEs per day.

"Amid the Covid crisis, India exported live-saving drugs to about 120 countries the world over after meeting our needs. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has appreciated our country's contribution in the fight against the virus," added Gowda.


Sat, 02 Jan 2021 10:42:43 +0530
New Year prayers for Universal Peace



On the occasion of New year 2021, the Sri Shankara Mattham, Matunga, Mumbai conducted Vishwa Shanti Homams for universal peace, prosperity and happiness. Four Homams Athartvaseersha Maha Ganapathi Homam, Lakshmi Kubera Homam, Nakshatra Shanti Homam and Navagraha Shanti Homam were conducted under the supervision of the Mattham high priest Sri Ganesha Shastrigal. Several devotees participated in the function.

Because of various calamities and human loss of life due to unfortunate events like Pandemic, man has left with no other options but to seek divine help. Among various forms of worships, Homams are considered more sacred and superior to other forms of prayers.


Fri, 01 Jan 2021 17:58:21 +0530
New Year prayers for Universal Peace



On the occasion of New year 2021, the Sri Shankara Mattham, Matunga, Mumbai conducted Vishwa Shanti Homams for universal peace, prosperity and happiness. Four Homams Athartvaseersha Maha Ganapathi Homam, Lakshmi Kubera Homam, Nakshatra Shanti Homam and Navagraha Shanti Homam were conducted under the supervision of the Mattham high priest Sri Ganesha Shastrigal. Several devotees participated in the function.

Because of various calamities and human loss of life due to unfortunate events like Pandemic, man has left with no other options but to seek divine help. Among various forms of worships, Homams are considered more sacred and superior to other forms of prayers.

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 17:55:54 +0530
Leon Mendonca becomes India s 67th chess Grandmaster

New Delhi, Jan 1

Leon Mendonca on Thursday became India's 67th Grandmaster (GM), achieving his third GM in three months. Mendonca, 14, was stranded in Europe with his father in March due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, played 16 tournaments in three months, this improving his Elo rating by 140 points.

The All India Chess Federation (AICF) acknowledged the development. Leon is the second Indian to become GM this year after G. Akash.

He achieved his first GM norm at the Rigo Chess GM Round Robin in October while the second came at the first Saturday in Budapest in November. His final GM norm came at the Vergani Cup in Italy that ended on December 30.

"A lot of people have been responsible for me reaching here. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. The Almighty for his countless blessings, my parents and sister," Leon told

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 11:18:44 +0530
March 14 named as NYC s Covid 19 Remembrance Day

New York, Jan 1

March 14 will be Covid-19 Remembrance Day in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.

The city reported its first novel coronavirus fatality on March 14, 2020, and the event will recognize all the people who have died from the lethal virus, said the mayor, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 25,099 NYC deaths were linked to Covid-19; 20,295 of them were confirmed deaths from the virus, while 4,804 other fatalities were deemed "probable" Covid-19 cases, according to the city's Health Department.

De Blasio said residents of "every background" were impacted, noting the disease particularly affected the city's poorest minority neighbourhoods.

"So many we lost were victims of disparities ... victims of too much racism," the mayor said during his year-end press briefing.

"We had our first reported Covid-19 death on March 14, 2020. On March 14, 2021 we will honor all those we lost with a day of remembrance," he tweeted on Thursday.

"It will be a moment to reflect, but it will also be a moment to look forward and use the lessons we've learned to build a better city," he added.

As of Thursday afternoon, the coronavirus deaths added up to 25,144 and confirmed cases to 426,060 in NYC, according to The City, a project that tracks the spread of confirmed Covid-19 infections and fatalities in New York City, based on information provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the governor's office, The COVID Tracking Project and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:35:14 +0530
Matt Henry replaces Neil Wagner in NZ squad for 2nd Test vs Pakistan

Christchurch, Jan 1

Right-arm pace bowler Matt Henry has replaced the injured Neil Wagner in the New Zealand Test squad for second Test against Pakistan to be played at the Hagley Oval here from January 3.

Left-arm quick Wagner was hit by Pakistan left-arm pace bowler Shaheen Afridi on his toes while batting on the second day of the first Test at Mount Maunganui. Two of his toes on the right foot were fractured by Afridi's delivery but the New Zealand bowler ensured that he played the entire Test after taking pain-killing injections.

"Henry replaces Neil Wagner, who is recovering from undisplaced fractures in both the fourth and fifth toes of his right foot, sustained in the first Test at Bay Oval," said a statement from New Zealand Cricket.

Wagner's brave effort was also praised by the opposition captain Mohammed Rizwan who said, "I can't explain Neil Wagner. Eleven overs in a row on an injured toe, he's a different guy."

Wagner's recovery is expected to be approximately six weeks.

New Zealand coach Gary Stead said Henry brings Test experience and local knowledge to the squad.

"Matt has been in good form with the ball having recently taken 6-53 for New Zealand A against the Pakistan Shaheens (A side) in December," Stead said.

"We're still a couple of days out from the Test, so need to take a look at the surface while also assessing our options for best-possible team make-up."

New Zealand squad for 2nd Test

Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Will Young

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:32:17 +0530
Why Swara Bhaskar takes her identity as an actress seriously

Mumbai, Jan 1

Swara Bhasker was impressive in web shows like Rasbhari, Flesh and Bhaag Beanie Bhaag last year, and she says she feels a sense of responsibility to choose the right script for her projects, to justify her identity as a credible actress.

"People only listen to my political views and everything that I say because of my identity is that of an actress. If I were a school teacher, even though I would have a sound knowledge of social cause or politics, people would have not paid attention. Since, my identity as an actress has given me everything, including unwanted headlines and controversies, I take my work very seriously. For an outsider like myself, I have no other way to prove my worth than delivering good performance as an actress," Swara told IANS.

Swara is known for her performance in films like Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa, Nil Battey Sannata, and Anaarkali Of Aarah.

"I have to mention that I feel the responsibility in choosing a script that engages and entertains people because that is why you are watching a show or a film -- to get entertained. I am paranoid about my work, because I do not want to cheat my audience. So, before every shoot, I get a moment of 'I think I forget how to act' and I go blank. I always have anxiety and nervous energy before every act! I think that also pushes me to prepare and be on my toe. My father always says one thing, 'if you want to be spontaneous, prepare'. I follow that," the actress added.

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:29:36 +0530
UK EU begin new relationship as Brexit transition period ends

London, Jan 1

Britain and the European Union (EU) have started a new chapter in their relationship as the Brexit transition period ended on Thursday.

In an earlier message, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britain to seize the moment as the country embarks on a new journey as an independent global trading nation.

"The destiny of this great country now resides firmly in our hands. We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do," he said, Xinhua news agency reported.

"11 p.m. (2300 GMT) on 31 December marks a new beginning in our country's history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally. This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it."

Also on Thursday, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II gave Royal assent to a new law spelling out Britain's future relationship with the EU, after the bill was approved in both the House of Commons (lower house of the British Parliament) and the House of Lords (upper house).

However, some major changes are still taking place from 2300 GMT regarding rules on travel, immigration, commerce and security, among others.

The free movement of people between Britain and the EU countries has ended, replaced in Britain by a "points-based" immigration system. Britons who want to stay in most of the EU for more than 90 days in any 180-day period will need a visa.

British police have lost instant access to EU-wide databases on criminal records, fingerprints and wanted persons.

Meanwhile, concerns remain over disruptions in ports like Dover due to border checks and new customs rules.

Rajneesh Narula, the John H. Dunning Chair of International Business Regulation at the Henley Business School, University of Reading, has warned that there could be difficult months ahead as many large issues are left out of the current deal, which will add uncertainties to Britain-EU future relations.

Most notably, the trade deal did little for the services sector, which makes up 80 percent of the British economy.

Although Britain ended its membership of the EU on January 31, 2020, it has followed EU rules during a transition period which expired at 2300 GMT on Thursday.

The EU and Britain announced on December 24 that they had reached an agreement that will govern their trade and security relationship starting from January 1, 2021.

The deal, which came after nine months of arduous negotiations between Britain and the EU, is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth around 668 billion British pounds ($913 billion).

The EU is Britain's largest trading partner. Britain is the EU's third-largest trading partner in goods, after the US and China.

Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:23:11 +0530
UP Inter faith marriage lands in controversy

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Jan 1

The Gorakhpur police arrested a man on the charges of kidnapping and forcibly marrying a 17-year-old girl.

Both the man and the girl belong to different communities.

According to Sahjanwa Station House Officer (SHO), Santosh Yadav, the girl had been allegedly kidnapped in November.

On the written complaint of her father, a search operation was launched and the girl was finally traced and rescued on Wednesday.

Accused Mansoor, 26, a resident of Hamirpur district, was arrested from the Bhiti Rawat area, the police officer said.

The accused claimed that the girl was an adult on the basis of her Aadhaar card and asked the police not to interfere in the matter.

The girl's father presented her high school certificate, which showed her age to be 17 years.

"The girl has been sent for a medical check-up. As per her high school marksheet, she is 17-years-old," the SHO said.

The man has been booked under Sections 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (abducting or inducing woman to compel her for marriage) of the IPC and the section of the new law on forced conversion will be added after the medical report confirms her to be a minor.


Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:20:07 +0530
BJP wrested 60 of 5 728 Gram Panchayats Yediyurappa

Bengaluru, Jan 1

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Thursday said that 60 per cent BJP-backed candidates have won in the local body elections in the state.

According to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), candidates backed by it have won 29,478 seats while the Congress claimed that candidates supported by it have bagged 24,560 seats. The JD(S) candidates have won 15,825 panchayat seats.

"The BJP captured 3,600 gram panchayats," Yediyurappa said at a press conference here.

He said that the emphatic victory of BJP-backed candidates in panchayat polls in the state is a testimony of people's unwavering faith in the leadership and development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party's commitment towards Gram Vikas and Antyodaya.

He said that 60 per cent of seats have been won by BJP-backed candidates.

Karnataka BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel said that his party has won maximum seats, for which he gives credit to various strategies drawn by the party.

Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah said that rural India is frustrated by the policies implemented by the BJP.

"Farmers are against anti-farmer laws and they found Gram Panchayat elections as the perfect opportunity to teach BJP a lesson. Reports suggest that Congress Karnataka supported candidates are winning," he claimed.

He added that rural India has always supported Congress party in panchayat elections since the Panchayat system came into existence. "Congress has always stood firmly with farmers and rural India. This has always instilled confidence among people. Tradition of winning has continued," Siddaramiah said.

On Thursday late night, Karnataka state election commission had announced the results of the remaining 36,781 seats, while it had announced results for 54,041 seats of 5,728 Gram Panchayats on Wednesday.

The counting was delayed due to the usage of ballot papers except in Bidar district, where it had used Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the first time on a pilot basis.

The counting for Karnataka Gram Panchayat Election 2020 took place at 226 centres. The election results declared by night.

The elections to 5,728 village panchayats were conducted across 226 Taluks of Karnataka for 82,616 seats in two phases - December 22 and 27.


Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:16:48 +0530


Arudhra Darshanam or Thiruvathirai is a Hindu festival celebrated in the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  Arudra means "sacred big wave", using which this universe was created by Lord Shiva about 132 trillion years ago.

It takes place on the full moon night in the Tamil month of Margazhi and this is also the longest night in a year. Literary and historical evidence in the form of stone inscriptions state that the festival has been celebrated on this day for more than 1500 years.  

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, in Nataraja form ,represents five activities – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Arudra Darshanam celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.

 Arudhra (Thiruvathirai in Tamil) signifies the golden red flame and Shiva performs the dance in the form this red-flamed light. Lord Shiva is supposed to be incarnated in the form of Lord Nataraja during the Arudra Darshanam day.

The day was celebrated at Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga with Mahanyasa Ekdasa rudra abhishekam , Giri pradhakshnam , chanting Upanishad and abhishekams to both Lord Shiva and Lord Nataraja followed by aarathy.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 20:33:56 +0530
Ram Gopal Varma on new horror film I m back with a genre I love

Mumbai, Dec 31

A new trailer of the psychological horror film 12 'o' Clock was unveiled on Friday and the film's director Ram Gopal Varma says he is back with a genre he really loves.

"(I) Am back with a genre I love . I am hoping to scare you from Jan 8th", said Varma.

12 ‘o' Clock revolves around a young girl Gauri who starts getting traumatised with frightening nightmares and incidents of eerie sleepwalking. What follows to extricate her from the possession forms the crux of the story.

The film stars Mithun Chakraborty, Makrand Deshpandey, Divya Jagdale, Manav Kaul, Ali Azgar, Ashish Vidyarthi, Dalip Tahil, Flora Saini and Debutant Krishna Gautam.

Directed by Ram Gopal Varma and produced by Company Production, 12 ‘o' Clock is being released on the big screen on January 8 by UFO Cine Media Network.

The music for the film has been composed by acclaimed musician of Bahubali fame, MM Keeravani.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 16:43:26 +0530
Dating apps don t always ruin long term relationship goals


New York, Dec 31

Contrary to common perception that dating apps only encourage casual relationships, a new study has shown that people who met their partners on these mobile applications have often strong long-term relationship goals.

Moreover, these new ways of meeting people encourage socio-educational and geographical mixing, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

What is more, women who found their partner through a dating app have stronger desires and intentions to have children than those who found their partner offline, said the study.

"The Internet is profoundly transforming the dynamics of how people meet," said researcher Gina Potarca from University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland.

"It provides an unprecedented abundance of meeting opportunities, and involves minimal effort and no third-party intervention."

These new dating technologies include the smartphone apps like Tinder or Grindr, where users select partners by browsing and swiping on pictures.

The Geneva-based researcher decided to investigate couples' intentions to start a family, their relationship satisfaction and individual well-being, as well as to assess couple composition.

Potarca used a 2018 family survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. The analysis presented in this study looks at a sub-sample of 3,235 people over the age of 18 who were in a relationship and who had met their partner in the last decade.

The results showed that couples that formed after meeting on an app were more motivated by the idea of cohabiting than others.

"Knowing that dating apps have likely become even more popular during this year's periods of lockdown and social distancing, it is reassuring to dismiss alarming concerns about the long-term effects of using these tools," said Potarca.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 16:40:29 +0530
Nifty crosses 14K mark Sensex hits new high

Mumbai, Dec 31

The Indian equity market rose to new record high during the mid-afternoon trade session on Thursday as the NSE Nifty50 crossed the 14,000 mark for the first time ever.

The index touched a record high of 14,024.85 points amid a largely subdued trade. BSE Sensex also hit a fresh high of 47,896.97 points.

As per analysts, FIIs continued their buying streak and cumulatively bought more than Rs 47,000 crore worth of equities in December.

The continuous buying, barring one session has supported the index at higher zones, they said.

Among sectors, marginal losses were witnessed in the IT, Banking, FMCG and Metal indices.

However, Realty, Pharma, Auto, Financial Services and Media space traded in the green.

At 2.05 p.m., the S&P BSE Sensex traded at 47,877.94 points, higher by 131.72 points or 0.28 per cent from its previous close.

Nifty traded at 14,014 points, higher by 32.05 points or 0.23 per cent from its previous close.

"Nifty opened flat but continued its positive momentum to cross record high of 14,000 and cheered the expiry," said Jay Purohit, Technical & Derivatives Analyst, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

"Considering overall chart structure and derivatives data, we are expecting Nifty to move towards 14,200 zone in coming days. While support can be seen at 13,860 - 13,800 zone. On stocks front, traders can look for buying opportunities in Eicher Motors, HDFC, Bajaj Finance, Divis Lab and ICICI Bank."

According to Gaurav Garg, Head of Research at CapitalVia Global Research:

"Indian shares hovered around record highs as investors globally bet on a speedy economic recovery in 2021 amid Covid-19 vaccine rollouts."

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 16:38:32 +0530
Russia records 27 747 new Covid 19 cases

Moscow, Dec 31

Russia registered 27,747 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nation's tally to 3,159,297, the country's Covid-19 response centre said on Thursday.

The centre also reported 593 more fatalities, bringing the nationwide death toll to 57,019, reports Xinhua news agency.

With the new tallies, Russia currently accounts for the fourth highest caseload after the US, India and Brazil, while the death toll is the eighth largest in the world.

Meanwhile, 28,922 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the national count to 2,554,340.

Covid-19 cases reported in the capital Moscow increased by 6,566 to 809,769.

So far, more than 90.6 million coronavirus tests have been conducted across the country.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Tuesday individuals already vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive electronic immunity passports in January.

Due to concerns over a new fast-spreading coronavirus strain detected in Britain, the Russian authorities have extended the suspension of flights to and from the UK until January 12, 2021.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 16:35:43 +0530
Hooda strengthens his position after Haryana civic body polls

New Delhi, Dec 31

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has strengthened his position in the Congress after the civic body elections and the recent Baroda Assembly bypoll win.

Both the wins are from the Sonepat region of the state, which is Hooda's stronghold.

The wins have reinforced his claim of being the super challenger to the BJP and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in particular in the state. It also establishes his power within the Congress as the sole leader who has been able to not only retain his backyard but is also trying to give a hard time to the BJP in other areas.

Sources say the BJP's win in only one civic body indicated that support for the party in urban areas is ebbing. But, the Congress as a party is also not in a position to unsettle the government till the JJP remains with the BJP.

Haryana's ruling BJP-JJP combine lost the mayoral polls in two municipal corporations but won in one civic body on Wednesday. The opposition Congress won the post of Mayor in the Sonepat Municipal Corporation, while the BJP won the post in Panchkula Municipal Corporation.

In the Ambala Municipal Corporation, victory belonged to the Haryana Jan Chetna Party of Vinod Sharma, who had left the Congress party in 2013 and formed his own party. Shakti Rani Sharma of the Haryana Jan Chetna Party defeated the BJP's Vandana Sharma in the election by a margin of over 7,000 votes.

BJP's Kulbhushan Goyal won the Panchkula mayoral election by defeating Congress' Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia by a margin of 2,057 votes. Goyal got 49,860 votes, while Ahluwalia polled 47,803 votes. Congress' Nikhil Madaan defeated BJP's candidate Lalit Batra by a margin of 13,818 votes in Sonepat for the Mayor's seat.

The farmers' agitation in Haryana is having an impact on the BJP's electoral fortunes. The Congress, even though gaining, has much to owe to the Hooda influence in his stronghold.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 16:32:56 +0530
For BJP Modi is the ultimate leader and star campaigner

Chennai, Dec 31

A day after Tamil superstar Rajinikanth abandoned his foray into politics, BJP national general secretary, C.T. Ravi on Wednesday said that National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has always been led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in every election it contests and in Tamil Nadu too, it is no different.

Addressing reporters, Ravi said that the alliance with the All India AIADMK will continue.

"For us (BJP) he (Modi) is the ultimate leader and we will campaign in his leadership. It is a wrong perception that the BJP is in search of a star campaigner. Modi is our leader and he will be our best bet in any election, we contest," Ravi told IANS from Chennai.

On Rajinikanth's announcement that he would not launch a political party, Ravi said that he respects his decision.

"Rajinikanth had always protected the national and Tamil Nadu's interests. He is a great leader. I hope our party will ask for his support during elections. Everyone knows, how close his relations with Modi are," he said

It may be recalled that Rajinikanth, who earlier said he would launch his political party in January 2021 promising a brand of 'spiritual politics'. The superstar's political advisor Tamilaruvi Manian had earlier said their party will fight on all 234 seats in the next Assembly elections.

But two days after being admitted to the hospital due to fluctuating blood pressure and exhaustion, Rajinikanth was discharged from Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad on Sunday.

He announced on Tuesday that he would not float his party in view of his health condition, having undergone a kidney transplant four years ago, and considering the Corona virus pandemic situation.

In his three-page statement in Tamil, he said he will continue to serve the people in whatever way he can. The illness, he said, was a "warning from God" that he should not take on more pressures.

High or low BP is bad for me because they affect my transplanted kidney badly. Under doctors' advice, I stayed at the hospital for three days and was supervised. In view of my bad health, the producer Kalanadhi Maran postponed filming, he stated while announcing his decision to quit.

The actor was shooting for a film titled "Annaatthe" in Hyderabad. The shoot was halted after crew members tested positive for Coronavirus.

The actor's assertion that he would serve the people in whatever possible ways - without entering electoral politics - has led to expectation among a section of BJP supporters that he may 'lend his support' favouring the party, the way he had supported the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance in 1996.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:28:39 +0530
Aus admit Smith Marnus struggling with India s leg side theory

Melbourne, Dec 31

Indians have managed to control Australia's top two batsmen, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, in the first two Test matches with the 'leg-side theory', admittted the Australian team management.

"I wouldn't be too quick to judge Steve Smith in the middle. Yeah, he hasn't got going yet in this series. In the first four balls he faced in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test, he looked pretty solid, has looked good at the nets too. and Marnus too," said Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald while speaking to the media on Thursday.

"The question for me at the moment is the tactical way India have prepared and have been able to control those two players especially with a sort of leg-side theory so to speak. So I suppose those two players will have to come out with a better method. I don't think it has to do anything technically. They are technically in a good space but it is the method to score runs and how they are going to combat these tactics from India bowlers and captains, that has been discussed in our conversation," added McDonald.

Both the Aussie batsmen were back at the nets on what would have been the fifth day of the second Test trying to find a method to counter the leg-side theory.

The Aussie assistant coach admitted that the field placements have been changing constantly leaving the batsmen confused.

"We are working on it at the nets. We were back in the nets on what should have been the fifth day of the Test. That conversation has been going on. It won't be any one thing in particular. The game ebbs and flows. Their tactics change suddenly. Sometimes they go out with two men out, sometimes they out with leg gully, sometimes they go with box mid-wicket, the bat-pad moves around with the angle. We are back Smith and Labuschagne to read that," added McDonald.

The Australians were surprised by the turn that the MCG wicket gave to the Indian bowlers on the first day. Australia had won the toss and elected to bat but it turned out to be a nightmare.

Off-spinner R Ashwin was brought into attack by the Indians very early, in the 11th over, even as the third seamer Mohammed Siraj was not introduced till lunch-time. Ashwin responded with two quick wickets, of well-set Matthew Wade and Steve Smith.

"One of the things that surprised everyone was the Boxing Day surface, the wicket on Day One. We weren't expecting the wicket to spin and (spin) to play a significant role at MCG on Day One. I think it surprised us all. It spun and bounced off the main part of the surface," added McDonald and admitted that his team's batsmen weren't quick enough to combat the tactics and put pressure on certain bowlers.

"We weren't probably quick enough to adapt to combat certain tactics. But the guys have been in good space, it will be just about the method and how they score runs. There will be moments where they will attack and absorb pressure. Sometimes you have to rein in, sometimes apply more pressure. No doubt our batters feel they could have put more pressure on certain bowlers," McDonald added ahead of the third Test that begins on January 7 in Sydney and will be telecast live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3 channels.


Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:24:11 +0530
Musk aims to catch Super Heavy Booster with launch tower arm

New Delhi, Dec 31

In an ambitious move, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Thursday said the company will aim to recover the Super Heavy Booster by catching it with the launch tower itself, giving reusable rocket boosters a new lease of life.

Current Falcon 9 boosters return to Earth and land on their own built-in legs.

The future goal is not to have landing legs at all but to catch the boosters in air.

"We're going to try to catch the Super Heavy Booster with the launch tower arm, using the grid fins to take the load," Musk said in a tweet.

"Legs would certainly work, but best part is no part, best step is no step," he added.

According to Musk, this move could allow SpaceX to recycle the Super Heavy booster immediately back on the launch mount in "under an hour."

The Super Heavy Booster is currently in development.

The aims for SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Booster is to create a launch vehicle that's even more reusable than SpaceX's current Falcon 9.

Starship prototypes are currently being constructed and tested in Boca Chica, Texas.

Musk-run SpaceX will start flight testing its Super Heavy booster (starting with low-altitude "hops") in a few months from now.

Super Heavy booster will be used to fly Starship for orbital launches and deeper space missions, including Mars.

Musk said last week that the first Super Heavy hop is just "a few months" away.

The SpaceX CEO and founder said the company will use both of its two launch pads in Boca Chica, Texas with prototype rockets set up on each.

SpaceX recently set up its SN9 prototype of Starship at its Texas testing facility.

Meanwhile, Super Heavy will be nearly 240 feet tall and include 28 Raptor engines.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:20:57 +0530
Apple working on keyboard with reconfigurable displays on each key

San Francisco, Dec 31

Apple has patented a new reconfigurable keyboard for the Mac with a small display for each key, which will show different characters as per the user's preferences.

The iPhone maker has recently filed a patent titled "Electronic devices having keys with coherent fiber bundles" and it was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on the final patent day of this year, reports MacRumors.

Images included in the patent suggest that the adaptive keyboard could be used both in a laptop enclosure as well as a separate keyboard for desktop computers.

The physical keys would still be there, but the patent shows that the keys on this new keyboard contain a super small display for each one instead of the regular engraved labels.

The display is not expected to have a high resolution nor some fancy specifications and the purpose of the reconfigurable keyboard is to allow users to set different layouts for different use cases.

Apple often registers new patents, so this doesn't necessarily mean that these features or technologies will be added to a real product in the future.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:18:11 +0530
Class of 21 Bollywood debutants coming up in new year

New Delhi, Dec 31

None of the high-profile Bollywood launches in 2020 happened owing to the pandemic, so several aspiring actors are looking forward to the year that is coming up. A mix of star kids and outsiders are scheduled to enter Bollywood over the next 12 months.

IANS takes a look at the names who will most likely create waves:

Vijay Deverakonda
The Telugu superstar, who gained all-India popularity with his 2017 Telugu blockbuster "Arjun Reddy", will be seen alongside Ananya Panday in Dharma Productions' upcoming film directed by Puri Jagannadh. Promoted as a pan-India film, the project is aimed at showcasing Deverakonda as an all-India star material.

Ahan Shetty
Action hero Suniel Shetty's son Ahan is all set to hit the big screen opposite the "Student Of The Year 2" actress Tara Sutaria in "Tadap". The announcement of the Milan Luthria directorial was made last year. The film is a remake of the 2018 Telugu romantic drama "RX 100" that became a big hit.

Manushi Chhillar
She brought home the Miss World crown in 2017, and is now all set to debut in Bollywood with the period drama "Prithviraj", starring Akshay Kumar in the title role of the warrior king Prithviraj Chauhan. Manushi plays Prithivraj's lover Sanyogita. The Yash Raj Films historical, directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi, was initially eyeing a Diwali 2020 release, but had to be pushed back owing to the pandemic.

Rashmika Mandanna
Rashmika is an actress in the Telugu and Kannada film industries, and has done a Tamil film, too. She makes her Bollywood debut with "Mission Majnu" opposite Sidharth Malhotra. The espionage thriller, directed by Shantanu Bagchi, is inspired by a true story set in the 1970s. There are reports that she has bagged another Bollywood film that stars Amitabh Bachchan.

Namashi Chakraborty
Early stills of his debut film "Bad Boy" drew comparisons with the handsome features of his father, yesteryears' superstar Mithun Chakraborty. The youngster is ready to take on all the comparisons and is excited about the romantic comedy film directed by Rajkumar Santoshi. Namashi describes his debut feature as a "fun and youthful film". He is paired with debutant Amrin Qureshi, daughter of Sajid Qureshi, who is the producer of the film.

Rinzing Denzongpa
Son of veteran actor Danny Denzongpa, Rinzing will show his action avatar in "Squad". His debut film has also been delayed due to the pandemic. He has been cast opposite Malvika, who is the niece of veteran actress Anita Raaj. Many would remember Malvika as the young Pooja, or Poo in Karan Johar's 2001 directorial "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham".

Pashmina Roshan
The daughter of composer Rajesh Roshan is yet to make an official announcement about her Bollywood debut, but there have been rumours. What added fuel was her cousin, actor Hrithik Roshan, sharing social media posts about her and writing positive words like "Proud of you Pashmina" on Instagram.


Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:11:56 +0530
Yogi s push for increasing Bhadohi carpet exports

Lucknow, Dec 31

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will inaugurate a new Carpet Expo Mart in Bhadohi district on Thursday, giving a major boost to the carpet industry.

The Carpet Expo Mart building will house shops and an exhibition centre which will help bring sellers and buyers under one roof.

The Chief Minister will also inaugurate 10 development projects for Bhadohi and lay the foundation stone for five other projects during his visit.

Navneet Sehgal, Additional Chief Secretary (MSME), said, "At present, the annual export of carpets from Bhadohi is about Rs 8,000 crore and this mart will help to increase exports. Other than making available all types of carpets to buyers under one roof, the mart will also help carpet makers and sellers to explore new markets and find new buyers."

The mart has been built by the MSME and Exports Promotion Department at a cost of Rs 170 crore.

Spread over 7.50 acres, the mart has two buildings which includes a shopping mart and an exhibition hall.

The three-storey shopping mart complex is built in an area of 7,000 sqm and has 94 shops, which include 30 shops on the ground floor, 31 on the first floor and 33 on the second floor.

The exhibition hall building is spread over an area of 3,400 sqm and has two exhibition halls, one each on the ground floor and the first floor. The building is centrally air conditioned and will also have a canteen.

The new mart will also function as a common facilitation centre for all stakeholders where international export conferences, buyer-seller meets and other activities will be organised to give a boost to the carpet industry and generate employment, said Sehgal.

The Bhadohi carpet industry is part of the state government's one district-one product scheme under which traditional crafts of each district have been identified for upgradation and promotion.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:09:21 +0530
Iran preparing uranium enrichment of 20 purity

Tehran, Dec 31

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) is making preparations for 20 per cent uranium enrichment, a top official said here.

In a statement on Wednesday, Chief of the Presidential Staff of Iran, Mahmoud Vaezi, said added that the AEOI would produce 120 kg of enriched uranium at the purity of 20 per cent in a year, reports Xinhua news agency.

On December 1, the Iranian parliament passed a bill urging the government to implement a number of steps, including a boost in the country's uranium enrichment, in case the European signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement, namely the UK, France and Germany, fail to protect Tehran's interests amid US energy and banking sanctions.

Iran has reduced its commitments under the agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in response to the US' withdrawal from the deal in 2018.

In reaction to the US' withdrawal and in response to Europe's sluggishness in facilitating Iran's banking transactions and oil exports, Tehran has been gradually moving away from its nuclear commitments since May 2019.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:06:26 +0530
ISI linked gangster deported from UAE for killing Shaurya Chakra awardee

New Delhi, Dec 31

A gangster, who is suspected to be on the payroll of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in terror activities, Sukhmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal was deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to India on Thursday for conspiring in the killing of Shaurya Chakra awardee, Indian intelligence agency said.

He was wanted by the Indian law enforcement agencies -- the Punjab Police and Delhi Police -- for his involvement in the alleged killing of a 62-year-old Shaurya Chakra awardee, 'Comrade' Balwinder Singh Sandhu, a former CPI(M) member, who had taken on militants at the height of the insurgency in Punjab in the 1990s. Sandhu was gunned down in his home in Tarn Taran's Bhikhiwind by two unidentified bikers on October 16.

Soon after he landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, the country's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) handed over the custody of Bhikhariwal to the Special Cell of Delhi Police, also known as anti-terror unit.

Special Cell had claimed that Bhikhariwal ordered killing of Singh at the behest of Pakistan based Inter-Services Intelligence. However, Punjab Police have not yet confirmed so.

The name of Bhikhariwal surfaced after Special Cell arrested five people following a brief exchange of fire in East Delhi's Shakarpur on December 7. While two are from Punjab, three belong to Kashmir.

The arrested persons were identified as Gurjeet Singh and Sukhdeep Singh of Punjab's Gurdaspur district and Shabbir Ahmed, Ayub Pathan and Riyaz from Kashmir.

The anti-terror unit led by Pramod Singh Kushwaha claimed that the arrested accused were working on the directions of Khalistan movement leaders sponsored by Pakistan's ISI and had allegedly killed Sandhu on their orders.

In the meantime, Punjab Police stated Gurjeet and Sukhdeep killed Sandhu at the behest of gangster Bhikhariwal, who is also accused of killing an aide of a Hindu leader in Gurdaspur. They have ruled out terror angle in the killing.

Punjab police had claimed to have solved the killing of Sandhu with the arrest of 11 persons, including jailed gangsters Ravinder Singh and Sukhdeep Singh. The police had claimed that both Ravinder and Sukhdeep hatched the conspiracy to kill Sandhu from the Patiala and Ferozepur jails. They are close associates of Bhikariwal, who had given them the task, according to the police.

Both the Punjab Police and Delhi Police stated interrogation of Bhikariwal will bring out the missing links in the case.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 12:03:36 +0530

Arudhra Darshanam or Thiruvathirai is a Hindu festival celebrated in the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  Arudra means "sacred big wave", using which this universe was created by Lord Shiva about 132 trillion years ago.

It takes place on the full moon night in the Tamil month of Margazhi and this is also the longest night in a year. Literary and historical evidence in the form of stone inscriptions state that the festival has been celebrated on this day for more than 1500 years.  

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, in Nataraja form ,represents five activities – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Arudra Darshanam celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.

 Arudhra (Thiruvathirai in Tamil) signifies the golden red flame and Shiva performs the dance in the form this red-flamed light. Lord Shiva is supposed to be incarnated in the form of Lord Nataraja during the Arudra Darshanam day.

The day was celebrated at Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga with Mahanyasa Ekdasa rudra abhishekam , Giri pradhakshnam , chanting Upanishad and abhishekams to both Lord Shiva and Lord Nataraja followed by aarathy.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 11:23:08 +0530
Members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum meet Maha Governor

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, currently on a visit to Maharashtra, met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai on Wednesday (30th Dec).

The Parliamentary Standing Committee led by Chairman Ramesh Bidhuri apprised the Governor of the work being done by the Committee in Maharashtra.

Rajya Sabha Member Dr Bhagwat Karad, Lok Sabha Member Rajan Vichare, Smt Chinta Aruradha (AP), Dr Ramesh Chand Bind (Bhadohi, UP), Girish Chandra (Nagina, UP), Dr Bhartiben Dhirubhai Shyal (Gujarat), Ajay Tamta (Uttarakhand), Smt Kanta Kardam (RS, UP), Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar (RS) and A. Vijaykumar (RS, TN) were present.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 11:16:19 +0530
Debutants Gill Siraj showed character Rahane

Melbourne,  India skipper Ajinkya Rahane praised the team's debutants, opener Shubman Gill and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj following the eight-wicket win over Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday that helped the tourists level the four-Test series 1-1.

"Really proud of all the players. Played really well. Want to give credit to the debutants Siraj and Gill, the character they showed after the Adelaide loss was great to see. Character was important for us, especially after losing Umesh in the second innings," said Rahane, who is standing in as captain for regular skipper Virat Kohli.

Rahane, who scored a brilliant century in the first innings to lead India's revival after they were reduced to 116/4, said going in with five bowlers worked well.

"That (five-bowler plan) worked well for us nicely. We were thinking of having an all-rounder and Jadeja has been brilliant for us. Shubman, we all know his first-class career and in this game, he has shown the intent to play shots at this level. Showed composure. Siraj has shown that he can bowl with discipline. It is really difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that's where I think the first-class experience comes in handy," added Rahane.

The 32-year-old, who is batting at No. 4 in the series after the departure of Virat Kohli said, "The talk was all about showing the attitude and intent on the field. As I said, character. Adelaide was about one hour that took the game away from us. Lots to learn for even now. Australia applied themselves with their last five wickets. Umesh is recovering well, management and medical staff will take the call. We're excited about Rohit coming back. Spoke to him yesterday, he's waiting to join the team."

Tue, 29 Dec 2020 10:31:08 +0530
Computer shop owner sues Twitter for 500mn in US

San Francisco, A computer repair shop owner in the US has sued Twitter for $500 million in defamation after his name appeared in a controversial New York Post involving Joe Bidens son Hunter.

The report in October claimed that Delaware-based The Mac Shop had been paid to recover data from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden.

It published emails and pictures allegedly from a copy of the hard drive.

Facebook and Twitter both restricted the article on their respective platforms after it went viral, and Twitter pointed to its ban on posting "hacked materials" as an explanation.

Now, according to The Verge, John Paul Mac Isaac who was the owner of The Mac Shop, has sued Twitter, claiming the micro-blogging platform specifically made this decision to "communicate to the world that [Mac Isaac] is a hacker."

Isaac said that he is "now widely considered a hacker" because of Twitter. He is demanding $500 million and a public retraction from Twitter.

The complaint cited several negative business reviews that criticize Mac Isaac based on the facts of the story, "but it's unclear why Twitter should be held liable for those reviews".

Twitter was yet to react to the report.

Tue, 29 Dec 2020 10:21:30 +0530
ITC Hotels launch Welcomhotel Shimla

New Delhi, Brand Welcomhotel is taking a giant leap, soon touching 26 hotels. A huge addition of nine new Welcomhotel properties in the next 12 months; almost one new hotel every month makes this brand one of the fastest growing brands in the country with an extensive location spread in every region in India.

Welcomhotel has launched its first property in Himachal Pradesh, Welcomhotel Shimla. Tucked away in an unexplored village with experiential stays, lush green expanse and breathtaking views of the hills, Welcomhotel Shimla is the ideal getaway destination for those wanting to reconnect with Nature. As one leaves behind the bustling streets of Shimla city center and drives uphill, the tranquil town of Mashobra is only half an hour away and is a beautiful haven for hodophiles.

Blessed with pristine beauty, natural streams, bountiful orchards and lush green coniferous forests, Mashobra is a quaint, serene destination that attracts nature lovers, peace mongers, thrill seekers and history buffs. With a 25-hour check-in / check-out, all Welcomhotels give you that additional hour to explore more or simply bask in the warmth of your hotel.

Welcomhotel Shimla offers a great view of the green splendour with all 47 rooms and suites overlooking the picturesque Mashobra valley. The views are panoramic and unparalleled. The building is laid out to receive maximum natural light and all guest room windows are designed at very specific angles to receive incessant sunlight from dusk to dawn.

The design philosophy of the hotel is modern with minute elements of the old world charm and has all the makings of a "Green" hotel with commitment to sustainability - Ecological, Social and Economic. ITC Hotels' specialized design team was mindful that the authenticity of the land was maintained. Aligning with ITC Hotels' Responsible Luxury philosophy of conservation of resources, all grey water is treated in-house and used for horticulture. Non-carcinogenic wooden materials are used around the property and intelligent controls have been built in the elevators to maximize movement efficiency.

Speaking on the launch, Nakul Anand, Executive Director -- ITC Ltd. said, "With domestic travel and wellness experiences regaining popularity, we believe it is the perfect time to launch our latest Welcomhotel outpost in 'Devbhoomi' Himachal Pradesh. With stunning 360 degree mountain views and striking architectural and interior design, we aim to attract discerning leisure and business travellers with our heightened safety measures in place and the quintessential Welcomhotel hospitality at the forefront."


Tue, 29 Dec 2020 10:17:40 +0530
Railway project under CPEC to boost Pak s exports Imran

Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that a railway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will boost the country's exports by improving connectivity.

"With the implementation of the project, Pakistani seaports will be better connected with land routes and the country's export goods would be able to reach international markets in a timely manner, helping Pakistan to earn valuable foreign exchange," Xinhua news agency quoted Khan as saying said in a review meeting on the Main Line-1 (ML-1) railway project here on Monday.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far on the project, the Prime Minister said that the ML-1 project would establish a modern communication infrastructure of international standard and create job opportunities as well as new prospects for Pakistan's industry.

He added that the project will start a new chapter to the Pakistan-China fraternal relations.

The CPEC is a flagship $62 billion project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines and sea lanes.

The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

Tue, 29 Dec 2020 10:12:54 +0530
Akhara wants Haridwar Kumbh Mela to be held on grand scale

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) now wants the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar to be held on a grand scale because the pandemic is slowing down.

The ABAP has sent an invitation to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to visit Prayagraj in the new year and see the arrangements made for the annual Magh Mela. Incidentally, the Uttarakhand Chief Minister has tested positive for Covid and is in hospital.

"We want him to see how the Magh Mela is being organized on a grand scale, despite the pandemic. The ABAP had been contemplating to hold Haridwar Kumbh Mela on a smaller scale till now, but now that the cases of corona are steadily decreasing, the ABAP has decided that the fair should be held in full grandeur, following all the safety norms," said ABAP chief Mahant Narendra Giri.

Mahant Hari Giri, general secretary of ABAP and chief patron of Juna Akhara, said that this decision has been taken in view of the present situation in terms of declining number of corona cases across the country.

"If, unfortunately, the corona cases increase in the country after mid-February, work will be done as per the guidelines issued by the Uttarakhand administration. At the moment we will not compromise on our religious program", he said.

ABAP president Mahant Narendra Giri further said that there should be no confusion that the ABAP had ever said that Haridwar Kumbh should not be held.

He added that like Prayagraj, river Ganga has a vast bank at Haridwar and saints are ready to be located on the other side of the river which has enough space to accommodate seers coming to Kumbh.

He said the saints have always held that the Kumbh should be held in accordance with the prevailing situation with regard to coronavirus, and therefore, the event should be held on a full scale.

The Kumbh Mela in Haridwar is scheduled to begin from March 11 and will conclude on April 27.

Mon, 28 Dec 2020 10:29:48 +0530
Nothing alarming in Rajinikanth s test reports says hospital

Hyderabad, There is nothing alarming in the test reports of superstar Rajinikanth, Apollo Hospital said on Sunday.

"All the investigations reports have come in and there is nothing alarming in the reports. The team of doctors will evaluate him this afternoon and take a decision on his discharge," said the latest medical bulletin issued by the hospital.

The 70-year-old was admitted to the hospital on Friday with severe fluctuations in blood pressure.

The hospital, in its bulletin on Saturday evening, had described his condition as stable and stated that a decision on his discharge from the hospital will be taken on Sunday.

Rajinikanth's daughter is with him in the hospital. Family and treating doctors have requested all well wishers to avoid visiting the hospital.

The actor was shooting for Tamil film 'Annaatthe' in Hyderabad for the last 10 days.

A couple of people on the film sets had tested positive for Covid-19. Rajinikanth was tested on December 22 for Covid and he was negative. Since then he isolated himself and was monitored closely.

Though he did not have any symptoms of Covid-19, his blood pressure showed severe fluctuations and needed further evaluation for which he was admitted to the hospital.


Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:56:40 +0530
India take lead in first 2 Tests in Aus for 1st time since 1985 86

Melbourne, India took lead in first two Tests of a series in Australia for the first time since 1985 when stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane got a boundary through the slip cordon to take the team score to 198/5 from 194/5 during the second day's play in the second Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on Sunday.

Australia were dismissed for 195 in their first innings on Saturday.

India had taken a 53-run lead in the first Test at Adelaide last week although they eventually lost the game by eight wickets after being bowled out for 36 in the second innings.

Back in 1985-86, India had got lead in the first Test at Adelaide, making 520 to Australia's 381, and in the second Test in Melbourne, scoring 445 against Australia's 262.

Both the games, however, produced drawn results.

In the third Test in Sydney too, India had taken the lead after scoring 600 for four wickets and dismissing the Aussies for 396. That game, however, also ended in a draw.

On Sunday in the ongoing Test, India were in danger at 116 for four but skipper Rahane scored a half-century to take them past the Australian total.


Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:50:19 +0530
MediaTek becomes largest smartphone chipset vendor in Q3

New Delhi, Riding on its stellar performance in China and India, MediaTek became the biggest smartphone chipset vendor with 31 per cent market share in Q3 2020 for the first time, as smartphone sales rebounded in the September quarter.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm was the biggest 5G chipset vendor globally in the third quarter, according to Counterpoint Research.

"MediaTek's strong market share gain in Q3 2020 happened due to three reasons — strong performance in the mid-end smartphone price segment ($100-$250) and emerging markets like LATAM and MEA, the US ban on Huawei and finally wins in leading OEMs like Samsung, Xiaomi and Honor," said Research Director Dale Gai.

The share of MediaTek chipsets in Xiaomi has increased by more than three times since the same period last year.

"MediaTek was also able to leverage the gap created due to the US ban on Huawei. Affordable MediaTek chips fabricated by TSMC became the first option for many OEMs to quickly fill the gap left by Huawei's absence," Dei said in a statement.

Qualcomm powered 39 per cent of the 5G phones sold worldwide.

The demand for 5G smartphones doubled in Q3 2020 – 17 per cent of all smartphones sold in Q3 2020 were 5G.

This impressive growth trajectory is going to continue, more so with Apple launching its 5G line-up. One-third of all smartphones shipped in Q4 2020 are expected to be 5G enabled.

Research Analyst Ankit Malhotra said: "Qualcomm and MediaTek have both reshuffled their portfolios, and consumer focus has played a key role here".

Last year, MediaTek launched a new gaming-based G-series, while Dimensity chipsets have helped in bringing 5G to affordable categories.

The world's cheapest 5G device, the realme V3, is powered by MediaTek.

"The immediate focus of chipset vendors will be to bring 5G to the masses, which will then unlock the potential of consumer 5G use cases like cloud gaming, which in turn will lead to higher demand for higher clocked GPUs and more powerful processors," Malhotra elaborated.

Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:47:01 +0530
Peru restricts access to beaches

Lima, Peruvian authorities have restricted access to beaches in an effort to prevent them from "becoming new sources" of fresh coronavirus cases, a top official announced here.

"The situation is marked by potential contagion and this is the reason, to prevent areas of high concentration from becoming new sources of infection," Xinhua news agency quoted General Jorge Angulo, the head of the Lima Regional Police, as saying on Saturday.

Angulo stated that controls in beach areas will be carried out by the armed forces, police, and municipal surveillance and public security services from each district of the capital.

The Medical College of Peru urged citizens to follow the health protocols established by authorities to reduce infections during a possible second wave.

The Ministry of Health warned that fresh confirmed infections in Peru would continue to rise in the coming days.

The country has so far reported 1,005,546 Covid-19 cases and 37,368 deaths.

Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:43:32 +0530
Every business must aspire to go digital in 2021

New Delhi,  A key learning from the pandemic-hit year is that every business needs to be a digital business and resilience, adaptability and lifelong learning have been key skills that stood out this year, industry leaders said on Sunday.

According to Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India, 2020 has been a transformative year and it has changed the way we work.

"A growing trend in hybrid working enabled with digital transformation was witnessed through 2020. The leadership structure and work culture underwent a sea change as organisations strived to limit the pandemic backlash and drive a digital and hybrid transition," Bhalla told IANS.

Many organisations worked towards ensuring business continuity employee wellbeing and pivoted towards adapting themselves to navigate and survive through the storm.

"As we enter 2021, organisations will focus on talent strategies, leadership, and culture, combined with a focus on deep tech and reskilling," Bhalla added.

More than half (63 per cent) of Indian enterprises surveyed have ramped up their investment in Hybrid Cloud as a direct result of the pandemic, compared to 46 per cent globally, a new report said earlier this month.

Also, more than half (56 per cent) of Indian firms said they plan to run an integrated hybrid environment within five years, stating that traditional data centre penetration will drop from 13 per cent to 3 per cent.

"Cloud infrastructure is now a critical component of IT infrastructure, as Indian enterprises branch further into investing in digitization and look for secure alternatives for their workloads," said Balakrishnan Anantharaman, managing director, sales, India and SAARC, Nutanix.

According to Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India, 2020 has set the stage for 5G to go mainstream and 2021 will drive the next level of innovation across sectors, be it remote working, gaming, healthcare, manufacturing, video and data consumption.

"This will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with voice interface, etc," Jain told IANS.

2021 will see a bigger trend towards improved remote work capabilities with 5G SoCs taking smartphone and smart device experience to the next level.

"The pandemic has acted as a great catalyst expediting digitalisation and faster adoption of transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, AIoT, Robotics and Cloud Computing, among others," Jain noted.

Karthikeyan Natarajan, President and COO of global engineering and digital technology solutions provider Cyient, said that 2020 will be remembered as a year of disruption, resurgence, and a year when we saw the true spirit of humanity, collaboration, and selfless-service emerge.

"What we are seeing is the start of a strong multi-year digital transformation cycle. Our aim is to be a technology solutions provider for the 21st Century with a three-pronged strategy of ‘Survive, Stabilise and Strive'," Natarajan said.

Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:39:00 +0530
Ayodhya students booked on sedition charges

Ayodhya, Dec 27 (IANS) A group of students of the Saket College in Ayodhya have been booked under sedition charges after they allegedly raised 'azaadi' slogans during their protest against the delay in announcing the dates of the students' union elections.

The police have registered a sedition case on the complaint of the college principal.

However, the protesting students denied the allegation and said they were demanding 'azaadi' from the corrupt principal and anti-student system of the college.

In his complaint, the principal of the college, N.D. Pandey, said that the students were raising anti-national slogans like 'le ke rahenge azaadi' (we shall not rest till we get freedom) on December 16.

Students were protesting against the college's decision not to hold students' union elections.

On the basis of the principal's named complaint, police booked Sumit Tiwari, Shesh Narayan Pandey, Imran Hashmi, Satvik Pandey, Mohit Yadav and Manoj Mishra under Sections 124 A (sedition), 147 (rioting), 188 (disobedience to order), 332 (causing hurt to deter public servant from duty), 342 (wrongfully confinement), 353 (assault on public servant), 427 (causing damage to property), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance) and 506 (offence of criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

"They (students) were raising slogans of 'azaadi', they wanted to take azaadi by revolt and by violence, by burning the country. It was my duty to protect the motherland, therefore, I have filed the complaint against them," the principal told reporters.

Abhas Krishna Yadav, the former president of Saket College students' union, said, "Students were raising 'azaadi' slogans as they were seeking freedom from the corrupt principal and anti-student system of the college, and demanding to hold student union elections."

Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:35:53 +0530
The year NIA cracked 2019 Pulwama terror attack Bhima Koregaon cases

New Delhi, The year 2020 proved a fruitful year for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as it cracked two major cases and filed charge sheets in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack case and the 2017 Bhima Koregaon violence case.

On February 14, 2019, terrorists rammed an explosive laden vehicle into the cavalcade of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy leaving at least 40 troopers dead.

Following the delay in the charge sheet in the 2019 terror attack case, the opposition parties have questioned the government.

The NIA filed 13,500 page charge sheet in a Special Court in Jammu in late August this year and named Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, his brothers Abdul Rauf Asghar and Ammar Alvi, slain JeM terrorist Mohammad Umar Farooq, who is son of IC 814 hijacking conspirator Ibrahim Athar suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar and other terrorist commanders operating from Pakistan.

These are apart from the six arrested accused in the case.

The NIA filed the charge sheet along with the pictures and digital evidence of the Pulwama terror attack.

The NIA also named absconding accused Sameer Dar in the Pulwama terror attack case along with two Pakistani nationals -- Mohammad Kamran and Mohammad Ismail alias Saifuddin, both IED experts.

According to NIA officials, the agency has prepared a watertight case against the people named in the charge sheet along with all the irrefutable evidence, including their chats and call details to highlight the role of Pakistan.

The NIA has claimed that this attack was a plot hatched by the Pakistan-based terror group to project the attack as part of the home-grown militancy in Kashmir. The NIA has also accused several top commanders of the terrorist group in its charge sheet.

The NIA found that Mohd Iqbal Rather, a resident of Badgam in J&K was in constant touch with the Pakistan-based leadership of the JeM and was in communication with them over secure messaging applications and was also part of the transportation module of the terrorist organisation.

The NIA has also claimed that JeM chief Azhar, along with his brothers Asghar and Alvi, was continuously giving directions and guidance to the Pakistani terrorists who had infiltrated into India using Pakistani SIM cards and WhatsApp calls and messages, both before and after the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

The Pakistani SIM cards were even active after the 2019 Pulwama terror attack.

The NIA also intercepted the WhatsApp messages and the photographs shared with their handlers in Pakistan.

The NIA also alleged that the JeM had initially planned the attack for February 6, 2019, but due to heavy snowfall and closure of the highway, the attack was deferred to February 14.

The NIA also got the assistance from the FBI to crack the WhatsApp calls and messages and other messages shared on other secure messaging platforms.

The NIA alleged that they had also planned to carry out another suicide attack which was averted due to the Balakot airstrikes by the Indian Air Force and due to the killing of the main conspirator Farooq by security forces.

Further, due to international pressure, Pakistan had to lay low, the NIA said.

The NIA further alleged that during investigation it was revealed that there was a "well-crafted mechanism" by the Pakistani establishment to push terrorists into the Indian territory from the launch pads located in Pakistan's Shakargarh opposite Samba-Kathua sector in Jammu.

Similarly, the NIA also made a major breakthrough in the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case as it filed 10,000-page supplementary charge sheet at a Special NIA court in Mumbai against eight accused -- Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Anand Teltumbde, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap, Milind Teltumbde and Stan Swamy.

The anti-terror probe agency conducted meticulous, scientific and detailed analysis of more than 10,000 pages of communications made by various accused, and went through reliable oral, documentary and material evidence before filing the charge sheet.

NIA's investigation revealed that the tentacles of conspiracy were not only spread throughout the country, but also extended beyond India," the official said.

According to officials, incriminating documents recovered from the accused include their "discreet communications" with other Maoist cadres regarding conspiracy related to the violent incident of Bhima Koregaon as part of their well chalked-out strategy.

The NIA claimed that the accused used "discrete codes" for secret communication among themselves to avoid detection by the security forces regarding their conspiracy and planning.

The investigation further revealed a systematic network of Maoists operating for supply of arms and ammunition having close nexus with other banned organisations within and outside India, the NIA claimed.

The NIA had registered a case on January 24 this year. The case pertains to inciting people and giving provocative speeches during the Elgar Parishad organised by the activists of Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which promoted enmity between various caste groups and led to violence resulting in loss of life and property and state-wide agitations in Maharashtra.

Besides these two high profile cases, the NIA also started probing another high profile case that rocked the politics in the southern state of Kerala.

The NIA registered a case after the gold smuggling case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Kerala, was arrested by the Customs Department on July 5 when he was allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in a diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.

The case became murkier when the involvement of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate later employed with the Kerala IT Department, came to light. Her links allegedly stretched to the Chief Minister as she had connections with M. Sivasankar, Kerala's senior IAS official and secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan.

She later revealed that Sivasankar was her mentor.

The NIA has made several arrests in the case and a team of the agency also travelled to Dubai to question several of the people linked in the case.

The NIA also made progress in the narco-terror case related to the smuggling of drugs from Pakistan to India, the Khalistani module case against members of the Sikh for Justice, ISIS Delhi module case among few to name.

Sun, 27 Dec 2020 11:27:38 +0530
NIO NPC sign MoU on oil spill management climate change

Panaji, The Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography has signed a memorandum of understanding with New Delhi-based National Productivity Council (NPC) to jointly work in the areas of climate change, environment-related data analytics, combating oil spills, and exploration of renewable energy, a statement said on Saturday.

"The aim of this MoU is primarily to develop a long-term joint working partnership in the areas of environment management, climate resilience in coastal zones and communities, oceanographic data analytics, environmental impact studies and modelling to predict environmental impact, besides identifying remedial and mitigation measures and contributing to policy research," the statement said.

The NIO, which functions under the aegis of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the NPC, an arm of the central government's Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, will also focus on assessment of macro and microplastics in the country's rivers, seas and other marine bodies.

The two organisations will also jointly carry out "oceanographic modeling and data analytics pertaining to environmental factors and pollutants and related impact assessments in Coastal Regulatory Zone, marine environment and forecasting".

Preparation of emergency plans and conducting risk analysis related to oil spills as well as "periodic monitoring of environmental conditions and assessment studies prescribed for projects in CRZ, ports, harbours, etc" is also a part of the MoU.


Sat, 26 Dec 2020 18:42:06 +0530
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Prez praises Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman DiuSwachh Bharat Abhiyan Prez

New Delhi, President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said that Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu had played a leading role in implementing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Inaugurating and laying foundation stones of a slew of developmental projects in Diu, the President said that it was a matter of pride that all three districts of the Union Territory have been declared 'Open Defecation Free'.

He said that the local administration had set an example for the entire country by taking the responsibility of picking up garbage from every household.

Due to the vibrant participation of the people and the tireless efforts of the administration, Daman and Diu got the first place in the 'Swachh Sarvekshan' of 2019, Kovind added.

The President said he was happy to note that the campaign for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' and 'Vocal for Local' is moving ahead rapidly in the UT.

He said that the environment friendly food stalls established under these initiatives for the sale of local products will not only provide employment to the locals but also provide taste of native food to tourists.

The President also praised the administrator, public representatives, officials, entrepreneurs as well as the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu for their efforts in initiatives such as providing drinking water to all households, giving benefit of Ujjwala Yojana to all women and ensuring enrolment of all children of school-going age.

On the occasion, the President inaugurated first academic session of IIIT Vadodara-International Campus Diu and Kamleshwar School, Ghoghla.

He also laid the foundation stone of a school at Saudwadi, improvement of 1.3 km heritage walkway on the Diu City Wall, conservation and facade restoration of heritage precincts (Zampa and market precinct), upgradation of fruits and vegetable market at Fort Road, and development of integrated municipal solid waste management system for entire urban and rural areas of Diu district.

Speaking on the occasion, the President praised the people and administration of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu for their efforts in building and maintaining the civic amenities in the Union Territory.

Kovind noted that due to their efforts, the Union Territory has received about 40 awards and honours in the field of social development from various Ministries in the past four years.

The President commended the local administration for their efforts for conservation of natural heritage and environment. He noted that with the efforts of UT, Diu has now become the first city in India that is fulfilling 100 per cent of its energy requirement during the day with solar energy.

In the evening, the President will inaugurate the INS Khukhri Memorial.


Sat, 26 Dec 2020 18:36:25 +0530
CAIT urges FM to defer implementation of Rule 86 B in GST

New Delhi,  Traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has urged Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to defer the implementation of 'Rule 86-B' in GST, scheduled to be implemented from January 1, 2021.

In a letter to the Finance Minister on Friday, the traders' body said that the recent notification of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) incorporating 'Section 86-B' which levies a mandatory payment of 1 per cent tax to be deposited, where the monthly turnover is more than Rs 50 lakh is a counter productive step.

Accordingly, the move will burden traders with compliance and more financial obligation.

Besides, the traders' body also urged Sitharaman to extend the last date for filing GST and 'Income Tax Audit' returns from December 31 to March 31, 2021.

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that any amendment in any tax law should be implemented from the beginning of fiscal year instead of "amending again and again during the in-between period of the year".

The traders' body has also warned of strict action against alleged tax evaders but said that "everyone should not be subject to harsh provisions" as it is against the principle of natural justice.


Sat, 26 Dec 2020 15:40:52 +0530
Travellers to Turkey must have negative Covid 19 test result

Ankara,  Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that all international travellers flying to the country will have to present a negative Covid-19 test result starting from December 28 onwards.

In a statement on Friday, he said that all foreign travellers will be required to submit negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results carried out within the last 72 hours before boarding a flight to Turkey, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Those who do not present a negative PCR test result will not be allowed on planes," he added.

The same will be applied also for other international passengers arriving in Turkey by land and sea routes as of December 30, the Minister said.

Those without tests would be put under quarantine at their addresses where they will reside in the country.

"The new measures were needed for arrivals from abroad due to the increase in the number of cases across the world and the acceleration of the pandemic," Koca added.

The new regulations will be effective until March 1, 2021.

As of Saturday, Turkey has reported a total of 2,118,255 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19,371 deaths.

Sat, 26 Dec 2020 11:34:56 +0530
Tesla now lets car owners play farting sound instead of honking

San Francisco,  Tesla has added an interesting feature called Boombox in its latest software update that allows car owners to use farting or goat sound, among others, instead of the usual honking sound.

Rolled out as part of Tesla's firmware 2020.48.26 update during the holiday season, several sounds are available for car owners through the Toybox section they can use in place of a regular horn: goat baaing, applause, a little "tada" clip, someone speaking posh and, of course, the fart.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet on Saturday that car owners can also "upload custom music/sounds".

"As is common with new Tesla features, Boombox combines real utility with lowbrow humour: owners can use fart and goat sounds in lieu of normal, boring honking sounds car horns usually make," reports The Verge.

The Boombox mode works with Tesla cars that have built-in speaker that blasts audio to poor unsuspecting people outside of the car.

Tesla cars manufactured after September 1, 2019 have the speaker built-in.

The speakers were added because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "required electric cars that were silent to omit some noise to alert pedestrians," according to Teslarati.

A Tesla can also give the same sound as an ice cream truck.

Tesla car owners also have access to three new games -- The Battle of Polytopia, Cat Quest, and Solitaire -- they can play while parked.

Sat, 26 Dec 2020 10:43:16 +0530
Language no more a barrier to secure job in corporate companies

Bengaluru, The Executive Director of IBM, Krishnadas Unni, said on Friday that language is longer a barrier in seeking jobs in corporate companies, as a basic skill set is what is expected from the employees.

Participating in a panel discussion organised on the theme 'Beyond Bengaluru', as part of Good Governance Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at the Vidhana Soudha here, Unni argued that the requirement of 'speaking good English' is a myth, as he strongly felt that an accountancy degree holder from Mandya or Madduru with accountancy skills can be made to talk to the CFO of Europe.

"It is a myth that good English communication skills are essential to get employed and have a bright career growth in corporate companies. What the MNCs seek in the employees is a basic skill set. If one has this, other required expectations for the specified roles can be met within four weeks and one can see career growth even with broken English," he explained.

He also argued that an accountancy degree holder with basic skills need not come to the Manyata tech park in Bengaluru seeking employment. "All that the industry needs is a co-working facility in a place like Bidadi," he said.

Unni added that the Covid situation has proved that now work can be done from anywhere. "After the lockdown, about 20 per cent of IT professionals have moved out of Bengaluru and are working from their respective places. IBM was able to make 99 per cent of its employees work from home within 10 days. And this did not affect the deliverability of the company in any way," he said.

According to Unni, there is plenty of talent and dedication in the aspirants from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and towns. "What is needed is they must to be made aware of what corporate companies expect out of them," he said.

Co-founder and CEO of 1Bridge, Madan Padaki, argued that Karnataka should have a vision to create one million entrepreneurs by 2030 and each of them should generate at least 10 jobs.

"If this is realised, at least one crore jobs will be created in the next 10 years. For this to happen, opportunities should be matched with capabilities," he said.

He also said that Hubballi, Mysuru and Mangaluru have the potential to grow as IT/ITeS clusters.

Sat, 26 Dec 2020 10:37:54 +0530
Turkey taking measures against large NYE gatherings Prez

Istanbul,  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government is taking all the necessary measures to prevent large gatherings during New Year's Eve in an effort to curb the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters here after the Friday prayers, Erdogan said security forces would not tolerate New Year's Eve parties in hotels, villas, or any accommodation facilities, Xinhua news agency reported.

"It is not possible that we would allow these," the President added.

The Turkish leader also noted that the vaccination process in the country would be carried out with vaccines from China and Germany.

"When the vaccines arrive, we will be vaccinated with all our colleagues," Erdogan said.

On Thursday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had announced said the shipment of 3 million doses of a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine would arrive on December 28.

The government signed an agreement for the procurement of up to 50 million doses, which would be delivered by the end of February 2021, the Minister said.

Koca also added that Turkey is conducting talks with Pfizer-BioNTech for 4.5 million doses of its vaccine to be obtained by the end of March.

As of Saturday, Turkey has reported a total of 2,118,255 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19,371 deaths.

Sat, 26 Dec 2020 10:32:15 +0530
Shah in Guwahati to kick start BJP s Assam campaign

Guwahati, Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah, who arrived in Guwahati on Friday midnight, would formally launch the ruling saffron party's campaign for next year's Assam assembly polls on Saturday.

Braving the cold weather thousands of people, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP's National Vice-President Baijayant Jay Panda, who is also the Assam in-charge for the saffron party, state party President Ranjit Kumar Dass among other leaders received Shah at the airport.

Over 3,000 artists of various communities greeted Shah after he came out from the Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) airport shortly after Friday midnight. According to Sarma, after attending the series of government and party programmes in Assam, Shah on Sunday would visit Manipur and before leaving Imphal he would lay the foundation stone for the Churachandpur Medical College and meet the civil society leaders.

He said that Shah during his three day visit to Assam and Manipur would also meet allies of BJP in Assam including Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Gana Shakti and Rabha Jatiya Aikya Manch.

Sarma said that the Union Home Minister during a meeting with Assam Chief Minister would review the law and order situation of the state. The Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and senior officials would attend the meeting. Some congress leaders are expected to join BJP during the Shah's visit.

About the media report of Congress leader and former Minister Ajanta Neog's joining the BJP, Sarma said: "Till now she has not contacted the BJP. There is no joining programme in Amit Shah's minute to minute itinerary."

Recently she met Assam Chief Minister regarding setting up an institution in her constituency. This has fuelled the speculation that she is joining the BJP. Now that congress has expelled her, she may consider joining the BJP.

On Saturday, Shah would distribute financial grants to 8,000 Namghars (traditional Vaishnavite monasteries of Assam) under the Assam Darshan Programme, laying of the Foundation Stone for the development of 'Batadrava Than' as Cultural and tourist destinations.

Sarma said that the Union Home Minister would lay the foundation stone of the New Medical College in Guwahati (the second medical college in the city) and 10 Law Colleges to be established across Assam.\


Sat, 26 Dec 2020 10:25:31 +0530
Vaikunda Ekadasi celebrated in Mumbai

On the occasion of Vaikunda Ekadasi, several temples with Lord Maha Vishnu's idol celebrated the day with religious functions.


  This is  one of the important and auspicious days for Hindus and  is dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu. When observed, it bestows liberation from the cycle of birth and death. People observe fast on this day. 


Sri South Indian Bhajana Samaj, Matunga conducted Laksharchana at the temple premises following all rules of the government. The Chembur Ahobali Mattham  temple and Sion Bhalaji temple, owned by TTDC, allowed visitors for darshan after opening the sanctum sanctorum door named Swarga Vasal ( Heaven's door) early morning . Sri Shankara Mattham, Matunga also conducted morning pooja with Abhishekams to the idol of Maha Vishnu.

Sat, 26 Dec 2020 10:20:38 +0530
Maha Governor pays tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 96th Birth Anniversary

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari offered floral tributes to the memorial of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister at the Atal Smriti Udyan at Borivali in Mumbai on Friday (25th Dec).


Member of Parliament Gopal Shetty, Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, former Minister Vinod Tawde, legislators Sunil Rane, Bhai Girkar, Yogesh Sagar and Manisha Chaudhari and Corporators were present.


The Governor visited the Atal Smruti Udyan Complex and saw the audio visual exhibition on the life of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Governor saw the replica of the Parliament House created in the Smruti Uday Complex and also took part in a Virtual Quiz on the life of the former Prime Minister. 

Fri, 25 Dec 2020 13:19:01 +0530
Prez PM Modi greet nation on Christmas

New Delhi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted the nation on the occasion of Christmas.

President Kovind expressed hope that this festival would nurture peace throughout the world and help maintain harmony in mankind.

"Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope this festival nurtures peace and prosperity, and helps strengthen harmony in society. Let us follow Christ's teachings of love, compassion, and charity, committing ourselves to the welfare of our society and nation," the President tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi said, "Merry Christmas! The life and principles of Lord Christ gives strength to millions across the world. May his path keep showing the way in building a just and inclusive society. May everybody be happy and healthy."

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also extended his Christmas greetings and wrote on Twitter, "May this festival bring peace and harmony to your homes and hearts."

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

Fri, 25 Dec 2020 13:08:46 +0530
Morocco to launch direct flights with Israel

Rabat, Direct flight routes between Morocco and Israel will be launched in two to three months, a Minister confirmed here in a statement.

The announcement was made by Moroccan Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts, and Air Transport Nadia Fettah Alaoui on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Her confirmation came two days after an Israeli delegation landed in Moroccan capital Rabat on Tuesday on the first commercial flight between the two countries, which recently agreed to full diplomatic relations.

On Tuesday, the two countries signed an agreement on ensuring direct flights, and pledged to engage in talks for the conclusion of an agreement on air services, according to the Minister.

On December 10, Israel and Morocco agreed to full diplomatic relations.

The announcement was made by US President Donald Trump in a series of tweets, calling the development as "a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East", adding that Washington recognises Morocco's sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory.

Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has confirmed that Morocco and Israel would also open liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv.

Morocco is the fourth Arab state that has recognised Israel in recent months after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

Morocco had severed relations with Israel in 2000 after the second Palestinian uprising.

Fri, 25 Dec 2020 11:19:19 +0530
Gang rape survivor alleges rape by cop in UP police station

Shahjahanpur (Uttar Pradesh),  A woman, who was allegedly gangraped by five men, has claimed that she was raped again by a police sub-inspector when she went to a police station to file a complaint.

The 35-year-old woman, who went to the Jalalabad police station to file her complaint, said the sub-inspector took her to an adjoining room on the pretext of filing her complaint and sexually assaulted her.

The alleged incident took place at the police station on November 30.

Additional Director General of Police (ADG) of Bareilly, Avinash Chandra, has ordered an inquiry on the complaint of the woman.

Superintendent of Police (city) Sanjay Kumar said the 'allegations are serious' and police are investigating it.

The woman claimed that she was gang-raped by five men on November 30. "The five accused forcibly dragged me inside the car, took me to a nearby field and raped me. Soon after that, I went to the Jalalabad police station where the sub-inspector also raped me," the woman, a widow, said.

She further said that when the local police refused to file a case, she approached senior officers. She met ADG Avinash Chandra who then ordered a probe by the station house officer (SHO) of Mahila Thana.

A senior policeman, on condition of anonymity, said, "The woman is being used to settle scores. She had already registered four cases of sexual assaults in Shahjahanpur and had given over two dozen complaints so far. A circle officer is already investigating one of her recent complaints."

Shahjahanpur SSP S.Anand said, "The woman never approached us with the complaint against the sub-inspector. She directly went to the ADG. She has already registered a few complaints of sexual assault and all the cases are under investigation. The circle officer of Jalalabad has been asked to probe the gang-rape complaint and submit a detailed report."


Fri, 25 Dec 2020 10:16:22 +0530
UP Mentally unstable man goes on stabbing spree kills 2

Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 23 

A mentally unstable man went on a stabbing spree in Janunpur's Badi Khas village, killing his daughter and a woman and injuring his mother, wife, son and another family member.

Jaunpur Superintendent of Police Raj Karan Nayyar said the accused Mumtaz a.k.a. Sonu has been arrested and sent to jail.

All the injured persons have been admitted to the district hospital where their condition is stable.

The police official said that Mumtaz had been undergoing treatment at a mental hospital in Varanasi for the past seven years.

He was being taken to Varanasi for consulting doctors on Monday, but he jumped from the vehicle and fled. He reached home later in the evening.

On Tuesday, Mumtaz got angry when he went to the kitchen but did not find anything to eat.

He picked up the knife and, in a fit of rage, stabbed his daughter Hamaira ,7. Mumtaz's mother Chanda Begum tried to rescue Hamaira but she was also attacked by him. Hamaira died on the spot.

On hearing her cries, Mumtaz's wife Firdaus and son Mohammad, 3, rushed out of their room but both were also stabbed by him.

Mumtaz attacked another family member who tried to stop him from going out of the house.

Mumtaz then stabbed Sulema Devi, who had come to deliver milk.

Neighbours and other villagers somehow pinned Mumtaz down and informed the police.

A police team reached the spot and all the injured persons were rushed to the district hospital but Sulema Devi was declared brought dead by doctors.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 12:11:40 +0530
Shaan calls himself an 80s Bandra Boy announces first English concert

New Delhi, Dec 23

Bollywood singing sensation Shaan says that he just needs to surrender to his natural sensibilities to create music. The popular singer, who calls himself an "80s Bandra boy", will soon have his first English concert, which entails paying a tribute to his music inspiration Bryan Adams.

"Music has been a constant companion for me throughout my life. Since I'm not a trained musician, I follow my musical instincts. My personal taste is constantly evolving as I'm always open to new trends. But my comfort zone has always been 80s pop/rock music," Shaan told IANSlife in an interview.

Shaan will give his own spin to the works of Canadian musician Bryan Adams in an upcoming online concert by Paytm Insider's Jim Beam Originals. One of the most recognisable voices in the Indian scene will be reimagining the works of one of the most recognisable voices in the world when Shaan gives Bryan Adams' discography a shot. Adams, a multi-platinum singer, composer, guitarist and record producer, is renowned for his love ballads, receiving a Grammy for his 1991 hit '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You'. His songs frequently feature in the rock anthem compilations of the past three decades and until the lockdown brought things to a standstill, Adams was a frequently touring legend.

Talking about taking on the legacy, Shaan says,"Choosing Bryan Adams songs to reimagine was a no-brainer for me because I have grown up listening to a lot of his albums, particularly Reckless. I've also watched him perform so many times, especially when he came down to Mumbai. I will be performing a day after Christmas, and I feel it's the perfect time to sing along to some of his hits. So many of his songs I know at the back of my mind, therefore the process of choosing what to perform is very exciting!"

"Through my teens, Bryan Adams 'Reckless' album has been my Top 5 cassettes.. and since then from time to time his Love Ballads have never failed to set the mood for me. As a singer I always thought I would be pretty straightforward to pull off Bryan Adams covers and knowing how popular his songs are in India, I thought it would be a 'no brainer'... 'a perfect fit' but when I got down to the details, I realised how difficult it is to bring out the romance and intensity that he does so naturally through his incredibly appealing rasp. But, since there was no looking back once I accepted the challenge .. I'm going to give it my best and hope my audience enjoys my take on Bryan Adams's classic Rock Hits," Shaan said.

Sharing that it's his "first ever concert in English" the playback singer with a golden voice said that he is "excited and yet nervous as hell".

"Besides Bryan Adams my favourite artists have been Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, Sting, George Michael, MJ and Whitney Houston. GNR, Scorpions, and also Duran Duran and A-Ha. Like I said, I'm an 80's Bandra Boy," said Shaan.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 12:02:58 +0530
I learn from Ashwin when touring India Lyon

Melbourne, Dec 23

While the rivalry of the Test series between India and Australia this time was built around their pace attacks, both Nathan Lyon and Ravichandran Ashwin were also expected to dazzle and play important roles for their respective teams. Lyon and Ashwin are premier off-spinners in Test cricket and both have over 350 wickets respectively.

Lyon on Wednesday said he cannot compare himself to Ashwin as they are different bowlers with some similarities. He added that he tries to learn from Ashwin when he tours India.

"I think Ashwin is a world class bowler. I have watched him a lot especially when I have gone over to tour India and the subcontinent to try and learn from him. But he is a very cagey bowler. He has got a lot of variations, the way he changes his pace," said Lyon.

"He is a very talented bowler. That's for sure. We are similar in a way. We are different as well. I can't compare myself to him. I think his record speaks for his own. So yeah, hats off to him," he added.

Earlier during the first Test, Ashwin had also praised Lyon and said that they are two different bowlers.

Australia, who won the first Test by eight wickets at the Adelaide Oval, will look to extend their lead in the ongoing four-match series when they next face India in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:54:17 +0530
New study unlocks how and why stars die

Chicago, Dec 23

Researchers from the Northwestern University (NU) has found that by studying all three "flavors" involved in a supernova, they have unlocked more clues as to how and why stars die.

Contrary to the past practice of simplifying studies by studying one flavor while ignoring the other two, the researchers in the new study created a non-linear simulation of a "fast conversion" when three neutrino flavors are present, where a fast conversion is marked by neutrinos interacting and changing flavors.

They removed the assumption that the three flavors of neutrinos, muon, electron and tau neutrinos, have the same angular distribution, giving them each a different distribution.

A two-flavor setup of the same concept looks at electron neutrinos and "x" neutrinos, in which x can be either muon or tau neutrinos and where differences between the two are insignificant.

When an enormous number of neutrinos are sent careening during the massive explosion of a core-collapse supernova, they begin to oscillate. Interactions between neutrinos change the properties and behaviors of the whole system, creating a coupled relationship.

Therefore, when neutrino density is high, a fraction of neutrinos interchange flavors. When different flavors are emitted in different directions deep within a star, conversions occur rapidly and are called "fast conversions."

Interestingly, the research found that as the number of neutrinos grows, so do their conversion rates, regardless of mass, reports Xinhua news agency.

"We are trying to convince the community that when you take these fast conversions into account, you have to use all three flavors to understand it," said senior author Manibrata Sen, a postdoctoral researcher currently based at NU under the Network for Neutrinos, Nuclear Astrophysics and Symmetries program at University of California - Berkeley.

"A proper understanding of fast oscillations can actually hold the key to why some stars explode from supernovas."

In the next step, the researchers hope to make their results more generic by including spatial dimensions in addition to components of momentum and time.

The study has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.


Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:48:49 +0530
Kerry Katona quits smoking

Los Angeles, Dec 23

Singer Kerry Katona has quit smoking after over 25 years. The 40-year-old singer is proud not to have had a puff since the day she vowed.

"I made and stuck to (a New Year's resolution) this year. I'd smoked 20 cigarettes a day since the age of 14 and I got up on New Year's Day and there was one cigarette left. I smoked it and said, 'I'm done'. I haven't had a puff of one since," she said, reports

The former Atomic Kitten singer got engaged to Ryan Mahoney in August and the couple is hoping to get married in a low-key ceremony next year.

"I want to go to Vegas, so we don't need to plan. Neither of us want a wedding, we just want a marriage. It'll just be me, Ryan and the kids. We don't know [when] yet. We're in no rush. It'll probably be next summer," she told the new issue of Britain's OK! magazine.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:45:14 +0530
Trump urges Congress to amend wasteful Covid relief bill

Washington, Dec 23 

US President Donald Trump has urged the Congress to amend a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to more than triple its stimulus payments to Americans.

In a video message posted on Twitter, he said the package "really is a disgrace", full of "wasteful" items, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

"It's called the Covid relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with Covid," he said.

The $900 billion bill includes one-off $600 payments to most Americans but Trump said the figure should be $2,000.

The Republican president, who leaves office on January 20, had been expected to sign the sprawling legislation into law following its passage through Congress on Monday night.

But in Tuesday night's message from the White House, Trump baulked at spending in the bill on other countries, arguing that this money should go to struggling Americans.

He said: "This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programmes in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama."

The president questioned why the Kennedy Center, a performing arts complex in Washington DC, was set to receive $40 million when it is not open, and more than $1 billion has been allocated to museums and galleries in the capital.

Trump concluded: "Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It wasn't their fault. It was China's fault."

"I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.

"I'm also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package."

Trump's statement stunned Capitol Hill, plunging the long-awaited aid bill into turmoil.

If the president vetoes the legislation the US government could shut down on December 29 because the package was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending measure to fund federal agencies for the next nine months.

Republicans and Democrats have been negotiating a coronavirus stimulus rescue since July. Trump largely stayed out of the talks.

On Monday afternoon, congressional leaders unveiled a 5,593-page package and voted on it several hours later.

Several lawmakers protested that they had not been given an opportunity to read the contents.

Nevertheless the bill sailed through the House of Representatives by 359-53 and the Senate by 92-6.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:34:17 +0530
PAGD leads BJP in J K DDC polls

Jammu, Dec 23

The latest trends in the counting of votes for the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir late on Tuesday night indicated that the Farooq Abdullah-led People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has taken a big lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) even as the counting of votes is underway to determine the fate of 2,178 candidates.

According to the latest reports results have been declared for 252 out of 280 segments, in which PADG has won 101 seats, while the BJP has won 71 seats. The Congress has managed 22 seats so far.

The overall voting percentage in all the eight phases across the Union Territory was 51.42 per cent.

The PAGD is an alliance of Kashmir's mainstream parties which is fighting the elections jointly to prevent the BJP from making inroads in J&K.

The PAGD was floated on October 7 for the reversal of constitutional changes made to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year.

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah was appointed the president of the alliance, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti its vice president and People's Conference leader Sajad Lone as the spokesperson and CPI-M leader Yousuf Taragami as its convenor. The flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was adopted as the symbol of the alliance.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 10:44:55 +0530
Farmer bodies urge not to amend new agriculture laws

New Delhi, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday that a section of farmers have urged the government not to amend the new farm laws enacted by the Centre.

Two separate delegations of farmers' representatives under the banners of Indian Farmers Union and Kisan Sangharsh Samiti met Tomar at Krishi Bhawan and extended their support to the government on new farm laws. Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Kailash Choudhary was also present during the meeting.

Since the protest against new agriculture laws began, the Union Minister have a series of meetings with pro-reform farmer groups who have advocated news laws in favour of farmers.

Around 40 farmer unions protesting against these laws and demanding a new law for mandatory MSP. The protesters have blocked the several entry points of the national capital.

While speaking to reporters after meeting the delegations, Tomar said, some representatives of farmers came whose concern is that the government may amend new farm laws under pressure of the protesting farmers so they requested not to make any change in these laws.

There are only few farmer groups protesting against the new rules, he added

The Agriculture Minister is confident to reach a solution of the issues related to the farmers.

He said: "We are expecting that protesting farmers unions will reach a consensus to start fresh talks and they will come again... We will soon resolve the matter.

Kisan Sangharsh Samiti President Ajay Pal Pradhan led the delegation of representative of the farmers of Gautambudh Nagar. Rajya Sabha member Surendra Singh Nagar was also present on the occasion. While speaking to IANS, Pradhan said, new farm laws are in favour of farmers and therefore he has urged the Minister not to amend them.

Former Minister of Uttrakhand and National President of Indian Kisan Union and Ram Kumar Walia said, "We have read new agriculture acts and found them beneficial for the farmers."

Walia is also the National President of Bhartiya Sarv Samaj Mahasangh. Speaking to IANS, he said, "I urge protesting farmers to come for fresh talks with the government. I have not visited Singhu Border so far, I will go there to convince them."

Both, the farmers' bodies handed over memorandum in support of new farm laws to the Minister.

Wed, 23 Dec 2020 10:27:54 +0530
Don t panic mutated Covid variant not more severe lethal Govt

New Delhi, Dec 22

In view of a mutated variant of coronavirus detected in the UK and elsewhere, the NITI Aayog clarified on Tuesday that there is no need to panic.

Niti Aayog's Member, Health, Dr V.K. Paul said that the mutated variant of novel coronavirus does not increase the severity of Covid-19 disease or impact the propensity of vaccines available.

"As per the information available from the UK where the mutated variant was detected, it does not increase the severity of the disease, deaths and rate of hospitalisation. Besides, the studies also suggest that the available vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 are effective on the mutated strain as well," he said.

"So there is no need to panic," Paul added.

A new variant of SARS-CoV 2 virus, which is under investigation, has been reported by the UK government to the World Health Organization (WHO). This variant is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting the younger population.

Scientists in the UK have observed 17 changes or mutations in the latest variant. One of the most significant mutations is the 'N501Y' mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human ACE2 receptor.

Changes in this part of the spike protein is responsible for the virus becoming more infectious and spreading further easily between people.

The UK government has reported the variant to be 70 per cent more infectious.

To contain the mutated variant from infiltrating the indian population, India has temporarily banned flights from the UK. The suspension of flights from the UK will come into effect from December 22 midnight and will continue till December 31.

Further, the government has also ordered mandatory RT-PCR tests for the patients arriving from the UK. As per the latest information, 5 passengers were found to be Covid-19 positive on Tuesday.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has asked state governments to send the samples of the passengers who tested positive on arrival from the UK to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune or any other appropriate lab for genomic sequencing study.

The genomic sequencing study would determine if the Covid patients are carrying the existing strain of SARS-CoV-2 or the mutant strain which was discovered in the UK.

If the samples indicate the presence of the new variant, the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit while necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the Ministry said.

Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:32:39 +0530
PM to address centenary celebrations of Visva Bharati on Dec 24

New Delhi, Dec 22

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the centenary celebrations of the Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal on Thursday.

He will join the event at 11 am via videoconference, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said. The Prime Minister is the Chancellor of the University.

Founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, Visva-Bharati is also the oldest central university based in Santiniketan, a neighbourhood of Bolpur city in Birbhum district.

In May 1951, Visva-Bharati was declared a central university and "an Institution of National Importance" by an Act of Parliament.

Visva-Bharati followed the pedagogy system devised by Tagore, though gradually it evolved the format which modern universities elsewhere follow.

The West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' will be among those present on the occasion.


Tue, 22 Dec 2020 17:27:13 +0530
Direct air service begins between Shillong Delhi

Shillong, Fulfilling a long pending demand, Meghalaya capital Shillong on Monday was connected with the national capital by direct flight services, coinciding with reopening of the state through the Umling in Ri Bhoi district for tourists after remaining closed for nine months due to Covid-19 outbreak, officials said.

An Airport Authority of India (AAI) Press Release said that the flight services were inaugurated by Meghalaya Transport Minister S. Dhar. Legislator G.B. Lyngdoh, Regional Executive Director of AAI M.Suresh were present on the occasion.

The maiden flight has landed Shillong Airport directly from New Delhi. The services have been started by the Flybig airlines.

Earlier the Shillong airport was connected with Kolkata under the government's regional connectivity Scheme -- -- UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik).

In view of the flight restriction during Covid-19 pandemic, regular flight services were temporarily suspended from Shillong.

The release said that this open wing flight is being operated on Q-400, taken as a charter where the airline company will subsequently be moving to their own aircraft in the next year.

Water cannon salute was given to the arriving flight as a welcome gesture by the AAI and the state government's Fire Services.

The release said that this historic day was made possible by the Meghalaya government through the state's Transport Corporation inviting flight operations in the state with the objectives to provide reliable and regular air connectivity to Shillong airport.

The flight operator was expected to deploy 40 to 80 seater aircraft in the sector.

Accordingly M/s. Big Charters Pvt. Ltd. (Flybig), a new entrant in the aero industry, was awarded the contract for providing the link between Delhi-Shillong routes.

Meanwhile, after around nine months of restrictions, Meghalaya opened to tourists, on Monday.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong inaugurated the entry and exit point at Umling in Ri Bhoi district.

Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma in a tweet said: "Meghalaya reopens its #Tourism from 21st December, 2020. While you're planning your next trip, here's what awaits you in the #Land Of Clouds."

Talking to the media Tynsong, who also holds the Public works Department (PWD) Department, said: "Visitors will feel at home. The whole process is technology driven and one can opt for pre-registration or spot registration. Nobody will be made to wait. People must not hesitate to visit the beautiful state of Meghalaya."


Tue, 22 Dec 2020 09:02:49 +0530
Russia reports record high daily Covid 19 cases

Moscow, Dec 21

Russia on Monday reported 29,350 new Covid-19 cases, marking a record high single-day spike, which increased the country's overall infection tally to 2,877,727, according to the national anti-coronavirus crisis centre.

The crisis centre said that the increase does not however, exceed 1 per cent, reports TASS News Agency.

Of the new cases, St. Petersburg reported the highest (3,752), followed by the Moscow region (1,523).

The country's death toll currently stood at 50,242.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 18:09:42 +0530
Teacher stabbed to death in broad daylight in Bihar

Patna, Dec 21

A group of unidentified criminals fatally stabbed a teacher in Bihar's Jamui district on Monday morning, police said. Angry locals blocked a road in protest and pelted police with stones, injuring at least two policemen.

Victim Mankeshwar Yadav was returning from his school at Bishanpur around 11 am when 4-5 unidentified persons accosted him at Khar Bhatta village and stabbed him multiple times with sharp-edged weapons. He died on the spot. The cause of the crime was not known.

Area residents and traders blocked the Jamui-Sikandara-Bishanpur Road in protest over the alleged police inaction and attacked them with stones. The road blockade was continuing till the time of filing of the report, despite assurances by police that the culprits would be arrested soon.

Jamui district SP PK Mandal ordered the suspension of SHO Dhruva Kumar of Sikandara police station.

"The villagers went berserk when we asked them to hand over the body for post-mortem. They attacked the policemen, leaving two of them injured," the Superintendent of Police said.

At one point in time, several police personnel were gheraoed and held captive, after which they fired several rounds in the air in a bid to free themselves from the mob's captivity.

Area residents complained that the law and order in Jamui district was poor. A man was killed on Sunday night in the same area.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 18:02:03 +0530
PM proposes to create library of Buddhist literature

New Delhi, Dec 21

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday proposed the creation of a library of all traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures in India.

The Prime Minister made the announcement while addressing the 6th Indo-Japan Samvad Conference via video conferencing.

Thanking the Japan government for its constant support to the Samvad, which began five years ago with the initiative of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leading to series of conferences, Modi praised the forum for doing great work to ensure promote the ideas and ideals of Lord Buddha, especially among the youth.

Modi said this body of writing is a treasure of humankind as a whole.

"Today, I would like to propose the creation of a library of all such traditional Buddhist literature and scriptures," Modi announced.

The Prime Minister further said "we will be happy to create such a facility in India and will provide appropriate resources for it".

"The library will collect digital copies of all such Buddhist literature from different countries. It will aim to translate them, and make them freely available for all monks and scholars of Buddhism. The library will not only be a depository of literature.

"It will also be a platform for research and dialogue - a true 'SAMVAD' between human beings, between societies, and between man and nature. Its research mandate will also include examining how Buddha's message can guide our modern world against contemporary challenges. Challenges like poverty, racism, extremism, gender discrimination, climate change and many others," Modi said.

Noting his visit at Sarnath about three weeks ago, the Prime Minister said the place is famous because Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

Referring that this Jyoti Punj emerged from Sarnath spread across the world embracing the values of compassion, nobility and above all, the PM said it is most important to be a positive force in the lives of others.

He said that Samvad should be one that will spread this spirit of positivity, unity and compassion across our planet.

"That too at a time when we need it the most," said Modi, adding this is the first Samvad of a new decade as it is happening at a critical moment of human history.

The Prime Minister also talked about to change the paradigm for growth, saying "discussions on global growth cannot happen only between a few. The table must be bigger. The agenda must be broader. Growth patterns must follow a human-centric approach. And, be in harmony with our surroundings."

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:42:37 +0530
BJP MP Soumitra Khan s wife joins Trinamool Congress

Kolkata, Dec 21

 In a major blow to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress wooed back BJP Lok Sabha MP from Bankura district Soumitra Khan's wife Sujata Mondal Khan to its fold.

Mondal joined the Trinamool Congress on Monday in presence of veteran Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy and the party's spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

Soumitra is currently the president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and Member of Parliament (MP) from Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal.

The crucial political move came just 48-hours after former TMC heavyweight leader Suvendu Adhikari along with several MLAs and MPs joined the BJP during Union Home Minister Amit Shah's rally at Midnapore College Ground on Saturday.

"Those who sent people to ransack our house have now joined the BJP. I did everything for the party, braving life threats. But the BJP has not honoured that. Instead they are welcoming people from other parties," she told media persons.

Sujata said that one day Soumitra Khan would also realise it and come back to Trinamool Congress. She also alleged that BJP has not given her respect and dignity that she deserves in the party.

"BJP can not provide dignity to the worthy people. people are joining BJP for obtaining the lucrative posts of chief minister and deputy chief minister...I am joining TMC as the party will give me respect and protection," she said.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:35:25 +0530
Swara Bhasker Can t imagine how we d have survived pandemic without Internet and digital platforms

Mumbai, Dec 21

Actress Swara Bhasker is grateful for the emergence of OTT platforms, and says she cannot imagine how one would have survived the pandemic without the digital platforms.

This year, Swara delivered back-to-back releases in the OTT space, portraying a sensuous teacher in "Rasbhari", a police officer in "Flesh", and a runaway bride-turned stand-up comic in "Bhaag Beanie Bhaag".

"This year has been a creatively exciting and fulfilling period workwise, having seen the back-to-back release of three series on streaming platforms. The overwhelming reception in this format has been wonderful," Swara said.

"It's been a strangely blessed year where despite the pandemic I've seen such success and warmth from the audiences... I'm grateful for the emergence of OTT platforms -- I cannot imagine how we would have survived the pandemic without the Internet and digital platforms," she added.

On the work front, Swara will soon be seen in LGBTQ+ drama "Sheer Qorma".

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:30:37 +0530
India suspends flights from UK till Dec 31

New Delhi, Dec 21

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has suspended all flights from the UK to India till December 31 in the wake of the new mutant strain of novel coronavirus.

The suspension will start with effect from 23.59 hours on December 22, 2020.

Consequently, all flights from India to UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during the period, said a Ministry tweet.

"Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the government of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till December 31, 2020 (23.59 hours)," the tweet read.

It added that as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports in India.

India's bar on passenger flights follows similar steps by several European countries on Sunday.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:20:49 +0530
Unemployed Dubai based Indian wins 1mn in raffle

Dubai, Dec 21

An unemployed Indian expat from Kerala, who lost his job in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, won $1 million at the Dubai Duty Free (DDF) Millennium Millionaire Draw, a media report said.

Navaneeth Sajeevan, 30, working in an Abu Dhabi-based company, is currently serving his notice period after he was made redundant last month, the Gulf News report said on Sunday.

Speaking to Gulf News, Sajeevan, originally from Kasargod, said he had just completed a job interview when he received the call from DDF on Sunday, informing him of the million dollar win.

Sajeevan bought the winning ticket online on November 22.

"My wife is still working here. I was planning to head home if I didn't find a good job. I have loans to the tune of 100,000 dirham. This win will go towards that," he told Gulf News.

He is the 171st Indian national to win the DDF mega prize.

Indians make up the highest number of DDF Millennium Millionaire ticket buyers.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:10:23 +0530
Beijing 2022 mascot toys handed over to organisers after lunar journey

Beijing, Dec 21

Olympic flags, emblem pins and mascot toys that returned to Earth after a moon trip onboard China's Chang'e-5 probe were handed over to the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee (BOCOG) at its Shougang headquarters on Monday.

The return capsule of the Chang'e-5 probe touched down on Earth on December 17 after a 23-day space travel, bringing back China's first moon samples as well as Beijing 2022 items that the probe carried, reports Xinhua news agency.

An Olympic flag, a Paralympic flag, two flags of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games, two pairs of emblem pins, one pair of mascot toys and two pairs of mascot pins that returned from the journey to the moon were unveiled jointly by BOCOG executive vice president Zhang Jiandong and vice administrator of China National Space Administration (CNSA) Wu Yanhua at the handover ceremony, followed by a video display of how these items were loaded into and retrieved from the probe.

Han Zirong, vice president and secretary-general of BOCOG, noted that the successful return of the Chang'e-5 probe is a vivid demonstration of the lunar exploration spirit of "pursuing dreams, daring to explore, collaborating in tackling difficulties and win-win cooperation, which shares great similarity of the Olympic motto of "faster, higher, stronger".

"This strengthens our confidence and determination to deliver a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games," she said.

CNSA chief engineer Liu Yongde lauded the successful combination of the aerospace technology and Olympic Winter Games culture through the Chang'e-5 mission and deemed it an important step in China's quest to become an aerospace and sporting power.

According to the BOCOG, these items will be presented in the Exhibition Hall of the Shougang headquarters and later Beijing 2022 venues where they will be open to public visits, especially for the young generation.


Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:00:24 +0530
S Korea s 5G download speed fastest globally

Seoul, Dec 21

South Korea has the fastest 5G download speed in the world, reaching over 350 megabits per second (Mbps), a report showed on Monday.

The country's 5G download speed stood at an average 351.2 Mbps, followed by Saudi Arabia at 272.8 Mbps and Taiwan at 247.7 Mbps, industry tracker Opensignal said, citing data collected between September 1 and November 29 in 15 global markets with 5G networks, reports Yonhap news agency.

The result marks an improvement for South Korea from a previous report by Opensignal in October, which had found the country's 5G download speed as the world's second-fastest after Saudi Arabia.

South Korea was the first country to commercialise the latest generation network in April last year and has racked up just under 10 million 5G users as of end-October, accounting for 14 per cent of the country's total 70 million mobile subscriptions.

The time South Korean 5G users spent connected to the network, however, stood at 24.6 per cent, behind Kuwait at 29 per cent and Saudi Arabia at 27.8 per cent, according to the Opensignal report.

South Korea has yet to commercialise the standalone version of 5G, requiring support from past generation networks, such as 4G LTE.

The country's three major mobile carriers promised earlier this year to spend up to 25.7 trillion won ($23.3 billion) until 2022 to update network infrastructure and establish nationwide 5G coverage.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:57:55 +0530
Nani starts shoot of Shyam Singha Roy

Hyderabad, Dec 21

Telugu star Nani has started shooting for his upcoming film, Shyam Singha Roy. Nani posted a picture on Instagram featuring a coffee mug along with the script of the film to make the announcement.

"DAY 1 #ShyamSinghaRoy... Calm before the storm," he wrote as the caption.

Set against the backdrop of Kolkata, the film also stars Sai Pallavi and Krithi Shetty. It is directed by Rahul Sankrityan and also features Madonna Sebastian. The shoot will continue till the end of January 2021.

Nani was last seen in his digitally released film, V, directed by Mohanakrishna Indraganti. V was Nani's 25th release.


Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:53:43 +0530
SAT notices to SEBI in 63 moons appeal against STP Gate order

Mumbai, Dec 21

The Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Monday issued a notice to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in an appeal filed by 63 moons technologies limited against the formers order in the STP Gate matter.

The SAT has kept the matter for final hearing and disposal on January 29, 2021, a statement by 63 moons technologies said on Monday.

It may be noted that the SEBI passed an order, rejecting the approval for providing STP Gate Services to 63 moons on the basis of ‘Fit & Proper' order that was passed by the Forward Market Commission (FMC) seven years ago.

As the order is yet to take effect, the SAT saw no need to consider staying the SEBI order at this stage, according to the statement.

The Tribunal has questioned the SEBI's rationale on considering the amendment that was passed in 2018 as the basis for rejecting an application for approval that was made in 2016.

The Tribunal also wondered as to how long can a person be construed as "Not Fit & Proper" as the order under challenge was based on an FMC order that was passed seven years ago.

Earlier, expressing disbelief at the SEBI order rejecting the approval for providing STP Gate Services on the basis of ‘Fit & Proper' order passed by the FMC seven years ago, the company said the Fit and Proper order passed against 63 moons in 2014 specifically deals with barring persons or entities from holding an equity stake in any exchange platform and has no bearing on providing technology services.

In an order passed by the SEBI, the application for renewal (for the period June 30, 2016 to June 29, 2019) by 63 moons technologies, earlier known as Financial Technologies India Limited, to act as STP Service provider under the SEBI (STP Centralised Hub and STP Service Providers) Guidelines, 2004 has been rejected.

Notably, since 2003 till date, 63 moons technology has been the pioneer and market leader as well as most stable and credible technology service provider for all segments of the market. While it holds more than 75 per cent market share in all segments including its service offerings to MCX and MSEI, it has the distinction of having 97 per cent market share in STP gate.


Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:49:11 +0530
Bhopal gas victims organisations hit the streets to back farmers

Bhopal, Dec 21

People belonging to four organisations campaigning for justice for the Bhopal gas victims took to the streets on Monday in support of the farmers' agitation and demanded that the Central government repeal the three new farm laws.

The four organisations -- the 'Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh', 'Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha', 'Bhopal Group for Information and Action' and 'Children Against Dow Carbide' -- have levelled serious charges against the Central government.

They say that the Central government is conniving with big industrialists such as Adani and Ambani and has enacted laws against the farmers. This is similar to what the then Central government did with Dow Chemicals which was responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Recounting the similarities, Nawab Khan, President of the 'Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha', said, "Every common man in India will suffer the impact of the "black laws" being imposed on the farmers, just like the impact of the pending issues related to the Bhopal gas tragedy which has a debilitating effect on the life and health of every Indian citizen till today."

The organisations said, "The Prime Minister's attitude of deliberately not paying attention to the sufferings of the farmers involved in the protest is similar to that being adopted for the Bhopal gas victims."

Nausheen Khan of 'Children Against Dow Carbide' said, "The time has come for a national campaign to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the most important issues in the country. We will start this campaign from December 27 at 11 a.m. onwards."

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:44:21 +0530
PM to inaugurate India International Science Festival on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the India International Science Festival 2020 on Tuesday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.

The festival, whose theme will be 'Science for Self-reliant India and Global Welfare' will commence on December 22 on the occasion of birth anniversary of famous mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and culminate on December 25, on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the India International Science Festival 2020 at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow. On December 25, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu will participate in the closing ceremony," said Harsh Vardhan during a press conference.

In between these days, there will be plenty of activities, where various political leaders will come, the health minister added.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, in association with Vijnana Bharati, conceptualised the India International Science Festival in 2015 to promote science and technology.

The aim is to engage the public with science, celebrate the joy of science and show how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) can provide solutions to improve lives.

The goal of the IISF 2020 is to help youth develop 21st century skills, with a focus on scientific knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork. A long-term objective is to encourage students to study and work in scientific fields.

Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:40:10 +0530
Canara Bank s exposure to Transstroy India is Rs 678 28 cr

New Delhi, A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case against Hyderabad-based company Transstroy (India) Ltd for allegedly cheating a consortium of banks of Rs 7,926 crore, the Canara Bank clarified that it has an exposure of Rs 678.28 crore in the accused company.

In a statement, the Canara Bank said, "The bank clarifies that it has an exposure of Rs.678.28 crore in the account of Transstroy India Ltd, reported as fraud to RBI on February 10 this year where 100 per cent provision has been made in the account."

It said that Transstroy India Ltd (TIL), established in 2001, is in the business of developing roads, bridges, tunnels, highways etc.

"The company was enjoying limits from various banks under multiple banking arrangement from 2001. Subsequently, a consortium with Canara Bank as a leader and 13 other banks was formed in 2013 and the total limit sanctioned was Rs 4,765.70 crore and the share of Canara Bank was only Rs 678.28 crore," it said.

It said that out of the Rs 7,926.01 crore fraud amount, the amount of lending made by all the 14 consortium members was Rs 4,765.70 crore. The remaining amount was lent under multiple banking arrangements. Out of this, exposure of Canara Bank was Rs 678.28 crore only, it said, adding that the case was referred to the NCLT Hyderabad which admitted it on October 10, 2018.

The company is under the process of liquidation. It was declared as wilful defaulter on December 26, 2018 by Canara Bank, it added.

The response of Canara Bank came a day after the CBI registered a case against Transstroy (India) Ltd, its chairman and managing director Cherukuri Sridhar, additional directors Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Akkineni Satish, unknown public servants and unknown others on a complaint from Canara Bank.

A CBI official said that it was alleged that the private firm based in Hyderabad and its directors had availed credit facilities on multiple banking arrangements. The consortium was formed with other banks led by Canara Bank, the official said.

It was further alleged that the accused had been involved in falsification of books of accounts, fudging of stock statements, tampering of balance sheets, round tripping of funds etc.

The official said that the accused misappropriated bank funds and diverted the loan amounts sanctioned and caused a loss of Rs 7,926.01 crore to Canara Bank and other member banks. The account had become NPA and the fraud was reported.

"Searches were conducted at the premises of the company and other accused in Hyderabad and Guntur, which led to the recovery of incriminating documents," the official said.

Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:39:09 +0530
Argentine President highlights official aid plans

Buenos Aires,  Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has highlighted multiple official aid plans set to mitigate the social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Without projects such as Emergency Family Income and Assistance for Work and Production, poverty rate would be much higher, Fernandez said in a statement to the media on Saturday

As the pandemic prevails, Fernandez urged citizens to celebrate holidays at the end of the year and summer vacations with extreme caution, reports Xinhua news agency.

"People relax a lot but you have to be careful, because the problem is not over," the President said.

The Social, Preventive, and Obligatory Distancing measures ordered by the Argentine government to control the pandemic will last until January 31.

Argentina on Saturday reported 5,795 new cases, taking its national case tally to 1,537,169, said the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry also reported 91 more deaths from the disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 41,763.

The province of Buenos Aires has the country's most cases of 650,861, followed by the province of Santa Fe with 166,011 infections.

Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:35:12 +0530
Farmer leader gives 24 hr ultimatum to Ghaziabad administration to resolve grievances

Ghazipur, Farmer leader V.M. Singh on Sunday spoke to the Ghaziabad administration at the Ghazipur border, giving a 24-hour ultimatum to address the grievances of the farmers in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad district and several other districts across the state as the farmers' protest against the three agricultural laws continued on the 25th day.

The farmers have alleged that their tractor trolleys are being seized in various districts of Uttar Pradesh while facing harassment. Singh has placed all the farmer grievances one by one before the Ghaziabad administration and has asked them to resolve their problems as soon as possible.

Ghaziabad Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Shailendra Kumar Singh, and SP City 2 , Gyanendra Kumar Singh, reached the border to listen to the problems faced by the farmers. V.M. Singh has given an ultimatum of 24 hours to the officials and also said if these problems are not resolved, then the road from the other side of National Highway 24 will also be blocked.

V.M. Singh told the state officials, "Those farmers who are carrying hats, badges and flags in their hands are not being allowed to join the stir. They are being stopped at various borders of the district. Those who are returning back to their houses, the state administration is seizing their tractor trolleys while they are also being detained.

Ghaziabad ADM said, "Farmers are facing some problems which we have heard today. We will talk to the higher level officials soon and resolve the farmer grievances. However, the farmers do not have any problems with the Ghaziabad administration."

"The farmers' problems have been written down and we have taken the farmers' numbers. Tomorrow we will come back with a solution to all these problems."

Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:25:54 +0530
In war against Covid SC says fundamental right to health includes affordable treatment

New Delhi, The Supreme Court said on Friday that it is a world war against Covid-19, which needs government-public partnership to make Covid treatment affordable for the common people. The top court emphasised that fundamental right to health includes affordable treatment.

A bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah said: "Right to health is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Right to health includes affordable treatment. Therefore, it is the duty of the state to make provisions for affordable treatment and see that more and more provisions in the hospitals to be run by the state and/or local administration are made."

The top court noted that it cannot be disputed that for whatever reasons, treatment has become costlier and costlier and it is not affordable to the common people at all. Even if one survives from Covid-19, many times he is finished financially and economically.

The bench insisted that the state government and the local administration should ensure that a cap is fixed on the fees charged by the private hospitals, which can be in exercise of the powers under the Disaster Management Act.

"Due to the unprecedented pandemic, everybody in the world is suffering in one way or the other. It is a world war against Covid-19. Therefore, there should be government-public partnership to end the world war against Covid-19," said the top court.

The observation was made by the top court in a suo moto case for proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.

Citing that despite guidelines and SOPs, the pandemic has spread like wild fire, the top court said that every state must act vigilantly and work with the Centre harmoniously.

"It is time to rise to the occasion. Safety and health of the citizens must be the first priority, rather than any other considerations," observed the top court.

The court said that whenever direction is issued under the Disaster Management Act to the corporate hospitals/private hospitals to keep 50 per cent or any other percentage of free beds, it must be strictly complied to.

On the aspect of fire safety standards, especially in Covid-19 hospitals, where it took cognisance of fire accidents in two Covid hospitals in Gujarat, the top court directed that all states and Union Territories should appoint one nodal officer for each Covid hospital, if not already appointed, who shall be made responsible for ensuring the compliance of all fire safety measures.

"In each district, the state government should constitute a committee to carry fire audit of each Covid hospital at least once in a month and inform the deficiency to the management of the hospital and report to the government for taking follow up action," said the top court.

The bench said that Covid hospitals which have not obtained NOC from the fire department of the state should be asked to immediately apply for NOC.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had submitted that the government has directed the states and UTs to update their respective local building by-laws, synchronising them in the line of "Model Bill on maintenance of fire and emergency service, 2019", circulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs on September 16, 2019.

The top court has also directed the states and UTs to bring on record various compliance directions passed by the top court in this suo moto matter.

Fri, 18 Dec 2020 12:00:29 +0530
James Allsopp to lead Community Cricket in Australia

Melbourne, Cricket Australian Capital Territory (ACT) CEO James Allsopp has been appointed to the role of Executive General Manager, Community Cricket at Cricket Australia.

During his time at Cricket ACT, Allsopp supported the Community Cricket team in the development of Cricket ACT's junior growth strategy, resulting in junior registered teams increasing by 12 per cent.

That also featured an 85 per cent increase in junior girls registered teams in 2020/21, with Allsopp showing his passion for developing the game through guiding and steering the local community cricket's development of the female development plan which has leveraged the success of the women's T20 World Cup, as per a Cricket Australia media release.

Cricket Australian Interim CEO, Nick Hockley, said: "James leaves Cricket ACT in a strong position evident by the growth in commercial partners, the exemplary delivery of W/BBL and international cricket in Canberra."

"The significant investment into Cricket ACT pathways will ensure they continue to be a talent nursery for Australian Cricket as well as the sustainable investment in infrastructure to support the growth of cricket within the ACT and surrounding region.

James will take up the role in late March 2021, following Belinda Clark's departure last month.

"I would like to acknowledge the outstanding role Stuart Wiley is playing as acting EGM, Community Cricket since Belinda Clark departed last month. Stuart will continue to play a pivotal role in leading the department over the next three months, until James takes up the post on March 29, 2021," said Hockley.

Fri, 18 Dec 2020 11:58:26 +0530
WhatsApp to soon roll out audio video calls for PC users

New Delhi, Instant messaging app WhatsApp is reportedly rolling out a new feature where a user can make or receive audio and video calls right on the desktop screen.

According to WABetaInfo, a website that tracks WhatsApp, the audio and video calls are now rolling out to the WhatsApp Desktop app. Unfortunately, this seems to be a very limited launch for now, with the buttons also getting beta labels according to the tipster.

The options to make audio and video calls have started appearing for some beta users, besides the search button at the top of the chat window — both bearing the beta tag.

As per the report, a user would still need a phone to be connected to the desktop app. Although, any audio or video calls will be routed via one's computer.

WhatsApp is also working on a new feature that would let users mute their videos before posting those to their friends and family members or putting them up as status.

The company is now developing a mute video feature and it has appeared on a beta update. In the screenshot shared by the WhatsApp features tracker, one can see the option of muting the video along with the trimming option.

The social media giant is also planning on making desktop a standalone application, meaning one would no longer require a smartphone to pair with the app or browser.

WhatsApp has also started rolling out advanced wallpaper features to more users.

This feature lets users set a different wallpaper for each chat. You can choose to set one wallpaper for all chats on WhatsApp, or manually select a different one for each chat.


Fri, 18 Dec 2020 11:55:28 +0530
UK to do everything to secure good trade deal with EU Official

London, The UK government "will be doing everything" to secure a good post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU), British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said.

"Even if sometimes results are coming later than we might have wanted, I know we will be doing everything in order to secure a good free trade agreement in the interest of the whole UK," Xinhua news agency quoted Gove as saying to MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Gove told MPs that they could be called back from their Christmas break to approve a deal if one is agreed between the two sides.

The government would "request that the House returns in order to make sure that we can legislate effectively", he said.

On Thursday, the House of Commons broke for Christmas recess.

"Intensive talks" are continuing, with "both teams working day and night" to "go the extra mile" to seek an agreement, Gove said.

However, Gove reaffirmed that Britain would walk away if a trade deal was not "in the best interests of our country".

Also on Thursday, EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier noted that "good progress" has been made in the trade negotiations.

"Good progress, but last stumbling blocks remain. We will only sign a deal protecting EU interests and principles," he tweeted after updating European Parliament leaders on the negotiations.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have previously said significant differences still remain between the two sides on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries.

The latest reports suggested that fishing rights remains the last major sticking issue between the two sides.

Also on Thursday, a Downing Street spokesperson said that Johnson has underlined that the post-Brexit trade negotiations were now "in a serious situation".

"The Prime Minister underlined that the negotiations were now in a serious situation. Time was very short and it now looked very likely that an agreement would not be reached unless the EU position changed substantially," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The UK was "making every effort to accommodate reasonable EU requests on the level playing field, but even though the gap had narrowed some fundamental areas remained difficult", said the statement.

"On fisheries he (Johnson) stressed that the UK could not accept a situation where it was the only sovereign country in the world not to be able to control access to its own waters for an extended period and to be faced with fisheries quotas which hugely disadvantaged its own industry.

"The EU's position in this area was simply not reasonable and if there was to be an agreement it needed to shift significantly," it added.

The Prime Minister repeated that little time was left and "if no agreement could be reached, the UK and the EU would part as friends, with the UK trading with the EU on Australian-style terms," said the statement.

Australia trades with the EU largely on the World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

"The leaders agreed to remain in close contact, said the statement.

For her part, von der Leyen said on Twitter that the EU "welcomed substantial progress on many issues. However, big differences remain to be bridged, in particular on fisheries. Bridging them will be very challenging".

"Negotiations will continue tomorrow," she said.

The trade negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires on December 31.

Failure to reach a free trade agreement means bilateral trade will fall back on WTO rules in 2021.

Fri, 18 Dec 2020 11:44:43 +0530
Some Messenger Instagram features temporarily disabled in Europe

London, Facebook is temporarily disabling some Messenger and Instagram features to "respect new messaging service rules."

While it is not clear how many features are disabled, polls on both Messenger and Instagram are currently unavailable in Europe, reveals the company on its support pages.

"This feature (polls on Messenger) may be unavailable if you're located in Europe or messaging an account based in Europe to respect new messaging service rules. We're working to bring it back," says a message on one such page.

Stickers on Instagram and personalised replies on Messenger are also missing for users located in Europe, The Verge reported on Thursday.

These features, along with a few others, are temporarily disabled as Facebook needs to comply with new data usage rules for countries in the European Union.

It is part of the implementation of the 2002 Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, said the report.

Thu, 17 Dec 2020 11:38:43 +0530
GoAir cargo fight carries passengers DGCA launches probe

New Delhi, India's aviation regulator DGCA is investigating an incident where in a cargo-only flight of budget airline GoAir took off from Chennai with 160 passengers, without the clearance to land at the destination, Port Blair.

An official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the regulator is probing the incident and if the flight was meant to serve as a cargo-only flight.

An airline spokesperson said: "GoAir flight G8 1305 from Chennai to Port Blair did an air turn back/diversion due to operational reasons and landed in Chennai with 160 passengers on board."

The spokesperson further said that the airline has outmost care and rendered all the requisite assistance to the passengers.

"The airline sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused to the passengers," the spokesperson added.

Viral Patel, a passenger who was on onboard the flight, tweeted from his Twitter handle, '@patelv847',: "@goairlinesindia WHAT you did to us yesterday IS PATHETIC while going from Chennai to Port Blair."

Thu, 17 Dec 2020 11:35:39 +0530
Farmers sit in continues on Jaipur Delhi highway for 5th day

Jaipur, Braving the cold weather, thousands of farmers from Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat protesting against the new farm laws continued their sit-in at Shahjahanpur (Haryana-Rajasthan border), blocking the Jaipur-Delhi highway, for the fifth day on Thursday.

Awaiting permission from Haryana police to allow them entry into Delhi to join other farmers agitating against the three farm laws enacted by the Centre, these farmers have been raising slogans demanding roll back of the 'controversial' laws.

Members of the Rajasthan Trade Union, Rajasthan Roadways Employees Union and many other associations reached Shahjahanapur to show their support for the protesting farmers.

Speaking to the media, Sanyukta Kisaan Morcha member Sanjay Madhav said: "Farmers will not budge from this place until their demands are met. The three laws have been passed to give corporates an upper hand and to take hold of agri-processing and agricultural land. It will open newer avenues for corporates but not farmers."

The protest was led by Rajya Sabha MP K.K. Rajesh and Yogendra Yadav among others.

It was addressed by Badal Saroj, All India Joint Secretary (AIKS), Vikram Singh, All India Joint Secretary and Jogender Sharma, Ex President, Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA).

Thu, 17 Dec 2020 11:32:47 +0530
Rahul writes to LS Speaker says not allowed to speak at Parl panel meet

New Delhi,  After Union Minister Prakash Javadekar criticised former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for walking out of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, saying it was an insult to the parliamentary system, the Congress leader in a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla claimed that he was not allowed to "speak" at the meeting and sought his intervention.

According to party sources, Rahul Gandhi in his letter to Birla urged the latter to ensure that the right of elected MPs to speak freely in parliamentary panel meetings is protected and they are allowed to speak.

He also said that the Speaker, being the custodian of the Parliament, should ensure that the discussions and presentations in the panel on defence are in consonance with its role and objectives.

"It is the right of a member to point out digressions from the agenda and the purpose of the standing committee. The committee is free to disagree with what I say, but the fact that the chairman does not even permit a member to speak is a sad comment on how the government handles military affairs," the Congress leader said in the letter.

"Sir, as Speaker of the Lok Sabha and custodian of the House, I urge you to intervene and ensure that the discussions and presentations held in the defence committee are in consonance with the role and objective of the institution and that the right of elected MPs to speak freely is protected," Rahul Gandhi wrote in his letter.

The Congress MP from Kerala's Wayanad also expressed his dismay over the contents of the meeting and the manner in which it was conducted, saying, "It is meant to provide legislative oversight on the policies and decisions of the defence ministry."

He said the agenda for the discussion at the meet was military uniforms, but taking into account the current military situation, he felt it was surprising.

"You are aware that we are currently facing a serious national security challenge on our borders and that China has forcibly occupied our territory and martyred 20 of our soldiers. There are many critical matters to discuss at a time like this," he said.

He said that he was "extremely disturbed" to find that the Chief of Defence Staff and the top brass of the Army, Navy and Air Force, who have important matters to deal with, had been asked by the chairman to spend an entire afternoon explaining the colours and different types of uniforms and insignia worn by different ranks in the forces.

However, Rahul Gandhi pointed out that he was repeatedly prevented from speaking and the panel chairman said "Aap nahi bolenge".

"I politely requested the chairman a number of times to allow me to complete my intervention. But he refused to allow me to do so. To register my protest at being prevented from expressing my views, I had no option but to leave the room," he said.

The Congress leader said since he was away to his constituency Wayanad when the last meeting of the panel was held, he had sent suggestions to the Parliamentary Panel on Defence chairman Jual Oram that were of critical importance for discussion in the panel.

Rahul Gandhi had sought to discuss the country's strategy against China's aggressive posture on the northern border in coordination with Pakistan and the country's response to China's reusable autonomous armed drones and unmanned systems strategy, its approach to information warfare and its rocket, strategic force and space capabilities.

The development same after Javadekar earlier in the day slammed the Congress leader saying that he should first learn to respect the constitutional institutions.

Rahul Gandhi had walked out of the meeting, held on Wednesday, alleging that he was not allowed to speak.

Speaking to the media here, Javadekar said, "Rahul Gandhi walked out of a Parliamentary Committee on Defence meeting. In the last one-and-a-half years, there have been a total of 14 meetings. Rahul Gandhi was present in just two of them. He was absent in the other 12. He was not even present in the agenda-setting meeting for the year."

Targetting the Congress leader, Javadekar said, "In the two meetings that he attended, he will again say that important topics were not being discussed."

"This is an insult to the parliamentary system and constitutional institutions. Rahul Gandhi should learn to respect constitutional institutions or else his role in the democracy will be negligible," Javadekar said.

The minister also pointed out that when Rahul Gandhi was in power during the Congress-led UPA rule, he had torn a cabinet decision and had thrown it away in the dustbin.

"That is how much respect he has for the Constitutional procedures," Javadekar said.


Thu, 17 Dec 2020 09:55:24 +0530
K taka mulls to drop paras from text book that hurt sentiments of Brahmins

Bengaluru, Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar on Thursday directed the Commissioner for Public Instruction (CPI) to take steps to drop relevant paras from the Class VI Social Science text book which are deemed to be insinuating remarks against the "Brahmin" community.

In his note, Kumar said that the paras which appear in page number 82 and 83 are irrelevant and not suitable for such a young age. "The CPI must take steps to issue a circular to drop this lesson from the syllabus with immediate effect," he stated in his note.

The minister's note sent to the CPI said that lesson number seven of the Class VI Social Science text book titled 'Emergence of New Religions' mentions that Brahmins used to offer sacrifices like agricultural animals, and offered milk and ghee to the Fire God during 'havan', which caused food scarcity in those times.

Quoting the text book excerpts, Kumar stated that Kshatriyas who had to counsel Brahmins all the time were fed up and were responsible for new religions to usher in the society. "Kashtraiyas are the ones who encouraged new religions like Jainism and Buddhism to flourish in the country," the minister observed in his note.

"Such anomalies that have crept into the text book need to be dropped as they hurt religious sentiments," he said in his note.


Thu, 17 Dec 2020 09:53:15 +0530
Modi accepts Britain s G7 summit invitation

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday accepted the invitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be part of the G7 meeting chaired by the UK in 2021, seeking to build a wider alliance against China's growing power.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab handed over a letter from Johnson, inviting the Prime Minister to the G7 meeting.

Modi thanked Raab and accepted the invitation, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.

The development comes after Johnson's office earlier announced that it had extended the offer to Indian, South Korean and Australian leaders to take part in the G7 meeting, "delivering the Prime Minister's ambition to work with a group of like-minded democracies to advance shared interests and tackle common challenges".

Recalling his recent telephone conversation with British PM, Modi stressed the importance of the India-UK partnership in the post-Covid world.

He called for an ambitious and outcome-oriented 360-degree roadmap covering trade and investment, defence and security, migration and mobility, education, energy, climate change and health, in order to tap the full potential of the bilateral relationship.

Modi also conveyed his keenness to receive Johnson in New Delhi next month, on the occasion of India's 72nd Republic Day celebrations. During his visit, Johnson will be just the second British leader since Indian independence to attend India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi as a guest of honour, after John Major in 1993.

Despite conveying greetings of Johnson to Modi, the British Foreign Secretary thanked him for participating in the recently held Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UK.

Raab also stressed the priority that the UK government's attaches to elevating relations with India, based on "shared values and interests and the potential to address common global challenges together".

Britain's relationship with China has slid to its most confrontational levels in a generation, chiefly because of the national security law Beijing has imposed in Hong Kong and London's decision to ban 5G network services by Huawei Technologies, which it contends is closely linked to the Chinese government.

Increasing concerns over China's assertive moves in the Indo-Pacific have also resulted in greater diplomatic efforts in the region by the US, Britain and the European Union - with India, Australia and the 10-nation Asean group at the forefront of their focus.


Wed, 16 Dec 2020 16:41:28 +0530
Muslim voters are not your jagir Owaisi to Mamata

Hyderabad,  A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP is giving money to a party from Hyderabad to divide votes in the ensuing Assembly elections, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi hit back at her on Wednesday saying the Muslim voters were not her "jagir (property)".

The Hyderabad MP tweeted that Mamata Banerjee does not like those Muslims who think and speak for themselves.

Rubbishing the allegation by the Trinamool Congress leader, Owaisi commented that nobody can buy him with money.

"So far you've only dealt with obedient Mir Jaffers & Sadiqs. You don't like Muslims who think & speak for themselves," tweeted the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president.

Owaisi alleged that the Trinamool Congress leader insulted the people of Bihar who voted for AIMIM. "Remember what happened to parties in Bihar that kept blaming their failures on "vote cutters" Muslim voters aren't your jagir," Owaisi wrote.

Mamata had said on Tuesday that to divide minority votes the BJP caught hold of a party from Hyderabad. "BJP gives them money and they are dividing votes. Bihar election has proved it," he said.

The AIMIM had won five seats in the Bihar Assembly elections last month.

The party has been facing criticism from its opponents for dividing the 'secular' votes to help the BJP.

Owaisi, however, has dismissed the allegation, saying so-called secular parties were blaming him for their failure to defeat the BJP.
Hyderabad, Dec 16 (IANS) A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP is giving money to a party from Hyderabad to divide votes in the ensuing Assembly elections, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi hit back at her on Wednesday saying the Muslim voters were not her "jagir (property)".

The Hyderabad MP tweeted that Mamata Banerjee does not like those Muslims who think and speak for themselves.

Rubbishing the allegation by the Trinamool Congress leader, Owaisi commented that nobody can buy him with money.

"So far you've only dealt with obedient Mir Jaffers & Sadiqs. You don't like Muslims who think & speak for themselves," tweeted the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president.

Owaisi alleged that the Trinamool Congress leader insulted the people of Bihar who voted for AIMIM. "Remember what happened to parties in Bihar that kept blaming their failures on "vote cutters" Muslim voters aren't your jagir," Owaisi wrote.

Mamata had said on Tuesday that to divide minority votes the BJP caught hold of a party from Hyderabad. "BJP gives them money and they are dividing votes. Bihar election has proved it," he said.

The AIMIM had won five seats in the Bihar Assembly elections last month.

The party has been facing criticism from its opponents for dividing the 'secular' votes to help the BJP.

Owaisi, however, has dismissed the allegation, saying so-called secular parties were blaming him for their failure to defeat the BJP.
Hyderabad, Dec 16 (IANS) A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP is giving money to a party from Hyderabad to divide votes in the ensuing Assembly elections, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi hit back at her on Wednesday saying the Muslim voters were not her "jagir (property)".

The Hyderabad MP tweeted that Mamata Banerjee does not like those Muslims who think and speak for themselves.

Rubbishing the allegation by the Trinamool Congress leader, Owaisi commented that nobody can buy him with money.

"So far you've only dealt with obedient Mir Jaffers & Sadiqs. You don't like Muslims who think & speak for themselves," tweeted the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president.

Owaisi alleged that the Trinamool Congress leader insulted the people of Bihar who voted for AIMIM. "Remember what happened to parties in Bihar that kept blaming their failures on "vote cutters" Muslim voters aren't your jagir," Owaisi wrote.

Mamata had said on Tuesday that to divide minority votes the BJP caught hold of a party from Hyderabad. "BJP gives them money and they are dividing votes. Bihar election has proved it," he said.

The AIMIM had won five seats in the Bihar Assembly elections last month.

The party has been facing criticism from its opponents for dividing the 'secular' votes to help the BJP.

Owaisi, however, has dismissed the allegation, saying so-called secular parties were blaming him for their failure to defeat the BJP.

Wed, 16 Dec 2020 13:43:43 +0530
FB to directly alert users who share comment on fake Covid posts

San Francisco,  In its bid to fight the spread of Covid-19 related misinformation on its platform, Facebook will now send notifications directly to users who like, share, or comment on such posts.

According to a report from Fast Company, the social network is changing how it reaches people who have encountered misinformation on its platform.

"The company will now send notifications to anyone who has liked, commented, or shared a piece of Covid-19 misinformation that's been taken down for violating the platform's terms of service," the report said on Tuesday.

The notification will read: "We removed a post you liked that had false, potentially harmful information about Covid-19."

The company will then connect users with trustworthy sources in effort to correct the record.

If a user interacts with a fake post that has been removed, Facebook will send a notification to the user telling them that the post was taken down.

"If the user clicks the notification, they'll be taken to a landing page with a screenshot of the post and a short explanation for why it was removed".

It will also offer follow up actions, like the option to unsubscribe from the group that originally posted the false information or to "see facts" about Covid-19.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced to step up its fight against the misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, saying it will remove false claims about these vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts on its platform as well as Instagram.

Facebook said it will remove false claims that Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn't on the official vaccine ingredient list.

As part of their effort to reduce the spread of "vaccine hoaxes" on its platform, Facebook and its photo-messaging app Instagram said last month they will no longer allow advertisements that include misinformation about vaccines.


Wed, 16 Dec 2020 13:37:44 +0530
Google to automatically add 3D effect to your 2D photos

New Delhi, Google photos will turn your 2D photos into 3D ones and over the next month, people will start to see the Memories feature brought to life with Cinematic photos.

Google said that Cinematic photos use machine learning to predict an image's depth and produce a 3D representation of the scene, even if the original image doesn't include depth information from the camera.

"Then we animate a virtual camera for a smooth panning effect — just like out of the movies," the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Google Photos will automatically create Cinematic photos for you.

"Just make sure your app is updated and when one's ready for you, it'll show up in your recent highlights at the top of your photo grid".

People can also share Cinematic photo with friends or family.

Earlier this month, Google started rolling out updated collage designs.

In these refreshed collages, the users will see richer, artistically designed layouts populated and stylised using AI.

"This helps pick the right layout for a selection of photos by finding similar colours and using those to accent details like the font and background colour for a more cohesive look," Google said.

The company is also rolling out new themes for looking back.

"Starting soon, you'll also see Memories about your favourite things — like sunsets — and activities like baking or hiking based on the photos you upload".


Wed, 16 Dec 2020 13:15:34 +0530
Tom Cruise abuses Mission Impossible crew for ignoring Covid norms

Los Angeles, Hollywood star Tom Cruise lost his cool on the crew members of his upcoming film. Mission Impossible 7, for not following Covid-19 safety protocols, and threatened to fire them. 

His angry rant at the crew members was caught on audio and has been leaked online.

The news was confirmed by two sources close to the production to, stating that Cruise expressed his frustration with crew members after he saw them breaking Covid guidelines.

After Cruise saw two crew members standing too close to one another in front of a computer screen, he told the crew: "If I see you do it again you're f**king gone."

In an audio obtained by The Sun, Cruise can be heard saying: "We are the gold standard. They're back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we're doing. I'm on the phone with every f**king studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they're looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf**kers. I don't ever want to see it again. Ever!"

Cruise has been very particular about the safety protocols as he shoots for the movie in Britain. In his angry rant, he scolded the crew for not taking it seriously. 

"You can tell it to the people who are losing their f**king homes because our industry is shut down. It's not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That's what I sleep with every night – the future of this f**king industry!" Cruise said. 

"So I'm sorry, I am beyond your apologies. I have told you, and now I want it, and if you don't do it, you're out. We are not shutting this f**king movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you're f*king gone."

Cruise continued: "Am I clear? Do you understand what I want? Do you understand the responsibility that I have? Because I will deal with your reason, and if you can't be reasonable and I can't deal with your logic, you're fired. That's it. That is it. I trust you guys to be here."

Mission: Impossible 7 was recently delayed in October when 12 people on set in Italy tested positive for Covid. Production resumed a week later and returned to the UK two weeks back.

The film is directed by Christopher McQuarrie and slated to release on November 19, 2021.

Wed, 16 Dec 2020 13:06:33 +0530
India s Nov merchandise exports down 8 74 imports fall by 13 32 YoY

New Delhi, Rising coronavirus cases and subsequent lockdowns in key export markets dragged India's merchandise exports lower by 8.74 per cent in November, official data showed on Tuesday.

The country's merchandise exports during the month under review receded to $23.52 billion from $25.77 billion in November 2019.

"Cumulative value of exports for the period April-November 2020-21 was $173.66 billion as against $211.17 billion during the period April-November 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 17.76 per cent in dollar terms," a Ministry of Commerce and Industry statement said on the basis of preliminary data.

"Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in November 2020 were $19.29 billion, as compared to $19.37 billion in November 2019, registering a negative growth of (-) 0.40 per cent," the statement said.

Similarly, India's merchandise imports declined by 13.32 per cent in November to $33.39 billion from $38.52 billion during the corresponding month of the previous year.

"Imports in November 2020 were $33.39 billion which is a decline of (-) 13.32 per cent in dollar terms and (-) 9.96 per cent in rupee terms over imports of $38.52 billion in November 2019. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-November 2020-21 was $215.69 billion as against $324.59 billion during the period April-November 2019-20, registering a negative growth of (-) 33.55 per cent in dollar terms and (-) 29.43 per cent in rupee terms," the statement said.

Segment wise, oil imports in November 2020 were down 43.36 per cent to $6.27 billion compared to $11.07 billion.

"Non-oil imports in November 2020 were estimated at $27.12 billion which was 1.20 per cent lower in dollar terms, compared to $27.45 billion in November 2019. Non-oil and non-gold imports were $24.10 billion in November 2020, recording a negative growth of (-) 1.67 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports of $24.51 billion in November 2019," the statement said.

In addition, the data showed that India was a net importer in November 2020, with a trade deficit of $9.87 billion, as compared to a trade deficit of $12.75 billion in November 2019.

"With renewed restrictions in various trading partners causing exports to falter, the trade deficit rose to a 10-month high of $9.9 billion in November 2020," Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA, said.

"The slide in non-oil export growth was led by renewed restrictions in trading partners that outweighed the optimism related to an early availability of Covid-19 vaccines. This trend may continue in the winter months, before an uptrend takes root in Q4 FY202," Nayar said.

The Founder-Chairman of Trade Promotion Council of India, Mohit Singla, said: "Exports of processed food have seen a consistent growth from $60 million in April, when the lockdown started, to $170 million in November, along with the stellar performance in rice and other cereals compared to last year. The overall de-growth in exports can be largely linked to decline in exports of petroleum products, which is also seen in Rs 33,000 cr decline in imports."

According to Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research: "We note that there has been a significant pickup in the imports of electronic goods and components in November, mostly reflecting the increased demand for digital devices and mobile phones. Further, the imports of capital goods, chemicals, coal and edible oil have also witnessed a healthy recovery as compared to the previous months.

"The gradual normalisation of the merchandise trade deficit figures notwithstanding, a healthy position in net exports of services and the continuing capital flows are likely to ensure a record current account surplus of $25-40 billion in FY21."

Wed, 16 Dec 2020 10:20:17 +0530
Navigating H1B visas in the post Trump world Immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta explains

New York, The Donald Trump-led skewering of foreign worker visas can't be undone in a hurry when the Trump lame duck ends. The easier task will be to nix executive actions, the tangled web of regulations will be much harder to undo, New York based immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta told IANS during a wide ranging interview on the US work visa playbook in a post-Trump world.

The Trump lame duck has been a busy time for the US president's slash and burn immigration agenda. The president's A team on immigration policy has been pushing through a rash of rules and regulations to close out four years of systematic reductions in legal (and illegal) immigration to the United States. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank, Trump has made more than 400 changes to immigration policy since his election. "The saving grace here is that Trump was not able to get Congress to pass any law. The hardest is to actually change a law," Mehta pointed out. "Congress has just not passed any law in the four years with respect to any type of substantive immigration category."

Mehta put Trump-led immigration actions since 2017 in context and pointed to the general direction in which work visas, especially H1B and L categories, could move once President-elect Joe Biden is in the White House. Below are highlights from the conversation.

The Trump hangover: "What's really significant when we talk about work visas - you have these travel bans, you have the H1B work visa ban that is still in effect, you have the immigrant visa ban that is still in effect. It's supposed to expire at the end of December, but I suspect that Trump is going to extend it, so long as he is president. And then it is going to be left up to the (Joe) Biden administration to rescind those executive orders."

Executive orders vs regulations: "It's going to be much easier to rescind executive orders than regulations. So, the travel bans that restrict H1B and L visa holders from coming to the United States - we hope that the Biden administration might be able to rescind them, even though they were done under the pretext of the Covid emergency. Trump also proposed regulations that would gut the H1B visa program the way we know it. So for example, there is a rule that will make the H1B visa categories more restrictive. It will be much harder to win H1B visas, and if H1B visa workers are placed at client sites - which is the business model for the IT industry - the H1 B visas will only be approved for one year. Thankfully, that regulation has temporarily been blocked. Also the Department of Labor regulation that exponentially increased the prevailing wages that made it impossible for employers to file labor certifications or even renew H1B visa petitions - fortunately that regulation has also been blocked by the same court order. So right now we do have some respite with both these rules being blocked by the courts."

New Trump regulations before January 20?: "Trump could again issue regulation the same way as he did before - with notice and comment, but it might be hard for him to do it before January 20. If these regulations are caught up in the court system and in the appeal system, I can see the Biden administration not challenging them, and just conceding to the court challenges to these regulations. That's how I see these regulations disappearing. The public charge regulation is also a problematic one because it's a regulation! If you try to rescind the old regulation by promulgating a new regulation, that can also be subject to a court challenge by opponents. I'm hopeful that even with the public charge rule, Biden is going to go ahead and start a procedure in which he will rescind the old regulation, even that is caught up in court appeals and there might be a way to maneuver in such a way that the Biden administration just kind of accepts defeat and does not challenge the court appeals to the public charge rule. There is a possibility that other people might want to intervene and the court might still appoint an intervener, even if the government is not interested in upholding this regulation. So all that can happen. Trying to rescind regulations is going to be much harder. The saving grace here is that Trump was not able to get Congress to pass any law. The hardest is to actually change a law. But Congress has just not passed any law in the four years with respect to any type of substantive immigration category."


Wed, 16 Dec 2020 10:17:17 +0530
Initial trends in Kerala civic polls Left ahead

Thiruvananthapuram, Despite facing a host of controversies ahead of the civic body polls, initial trends on Wednesday showed the ruling CPI-M-led-Left ahead of its detractors.

The Congress-led UDF is putting up a better show in the first round of counting that began at 8 a.m. while the hype created by the BJP is yet to catch on.

The shocker came at the Kochi corporation, where the Congress' mayor candidate N.Venugopal lost by just one vote to the BJP.

In the three-tier local body structure the initial trends indicate that in the six corporations in the state the Left is ahead in four and UDF is ahead in two corporations.

In the municipalities it's the UDF that leads in 47, while the Left is ahead in 27 and the BJP in 4.

When it comes to the 14 district votes the Left is leading in eight and the UDF in four.

While in the Block Panchayat, the Left is ahead in 23, the UDF in 52 and the BJP in one.

In the Gram Panchayats the Left is ahead in 159 and the UDF in 144 while the BJP in 16.

Wed, 16 Dec 2020 10:15:28 +0530
Meet the man from Punjab tying turbans on thousands of protesting farmers

Singhu,  Amid the ongoing farmers protest at Delhi's borders people wearing pagris (turbans) in varied colours can be seen among the protesters. They are mostly visible at Singhu border which is mainly occupied by farmers from Punjab. The work of tying the turbans is being done by Tajinder Singh from Punjab.

Tajinder has come to Singhu from Tikri border where also he was engaged in tying turbans free of cost.

The protesters at Singhu border include many youngsters without turbans. Tajinder Singh engages in tying the turbans on their heads under the name 'Turban Bank'.

Tajinder was present at the Tikri border for the last 18 days and has tied nearly 20,000 turbans till now, carrying the cloth used for tying the turban with him.

According to Tajinder, the purpose of this work is that the young generation must know the importance of tying a turban. Singh told IANS, "I have been doing this work for the last 17 years, having tied turbans on people in every corner of the country."

He claimed that he has tied turbans on many Bollywood stars also, including actor Hrithik Roshan.

He added, "I have been tying turbans on people at the Tikri border for the past 18 days, from today I will tie it on the people at Singhu border. I have named it the 'Turban Bank'.

"I take tuitions at my home to sustain my financial condition where many children want to study with me. I am doing this only to serve people."

Tajinder Singh ties more than a thousand turbans everyday in different colours and styles. People choose turbans of their choice. Among the style of turbans, Patiala and Peahen are quite popular among the people.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 17:09:17 +0530
Piyush Goyal invites foreign investors cites healthy FDI inflows

New Delhi, While inviting the participation of foreign investors into India's economy, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said during April-September period, the country received FDI inflows worth $40 billion.

Addressing the inaugural session of CII's Partnership Summit 2020, through virtual means, Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Goyal invited foreign investors to be a part of India's growth story.

The Minister said continuing on an open path, India has been systematically opening up new sectors of the economy.

He said that FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) flows in India have been continuously growing.

"During the first nine months of this year, at the peak of Covid-19 pandemic, our FDI has grown. We have one of the most facilitative FDI policies in the world. During the April-September period, FDI inflows are at $40 billion, which has been higher than last year by about 13 per cent," he said.

"Last year, we announced one of the most attractive tax rates available anywhere in the world at 22 per cent tax for businesses in India and 15 per cent tax for new manufacturing facilities set up after October 2019."

Besides, Goyal cited that a number of new schemes have been introduced, including 'Production-Linked Incentive' scheme to attract industries to come to India.

"We have investment promotion cells in all the ministries. Central government and the states are working together to attract and promote investments even before the onset of the pandemic, India was rapidly announcing a slew of reform measures aimed at improving the economy and productivity levels in the economy.

"India is introducing conducive reforms and facilitation measures to encourage greater global involvement in our V-shaped recovery. I invite you to board the bus of development, growth and prosperity that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is crafting for the people of India," said Goyal.


Tue, 15 Dec 2020 16:58:48 +0530
R Madhavan replies to fan who has a crush on him for over two decades

Mumbai, R. Madhavan on Tuesday reacted to a tweet by a fan who confessed having a crush on the actor for over two decades. The actor replied with a red heart emojis!

"I have a crush on @ActorMadhavan over 2 decades," tweeted the fan.

To this, Madhavan replied: "Yepaaa," along with a few laughing emojis, red heart emojis and a namaste emoji from his verified Twitter account.

Madhavan is one actor who enjoys immense popularity especially from the ladies ever since he played the role of Madhav Shastri aka Maddy in the 2001 Bollywood film "Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein". And with the actor aging like fine wine, his ladies fan following has only increased in number over the years!

On the work front, Madhavan recently refuted speculations about him playing the role of industrialist Ratan Tata in a biopic.

"@ActorMadhavan Is this true that You are gonna play a lead role in Ratan Tata Biopic?? if this happens it's gonna be a huge inspiration to many," tweeted a fan of the actor on Friday.

To this, Madhavan replied: "Hey unfortunately it's not true. It was just a wish at some fans will made the poster. No such project is even on the pipeline or being discussed."

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 16:26:58 +0530
Sabarimala not to go Guruvayoor way

Thiruvananthapuram, The Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) that oversees the affairs of the famed Sabarimala temple has decided it has no plans to do what the Sree Krishna Temple Guruvayoor authorities did by shutting the temple doors after Covid cases surged in Kerala.

The Guruvayoor temple was closed to public last week after 46 of the temple staff turned Covid positive.

N.Vasu, the TDB president said though there has been a spike in the Covid cases among the police and their own staff who are on duty at the Sabarimala temple, they do not have any plans to restrict the pilgrims from visiting the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

The two-month long annual temple festival that began last month is going forward in a controlled manner.

"All the mandatory Covid protocols are being taken care of and checking is also going on. What we intend to do is to reduce the number of police and our officials who are on duty in and around the temple town," said Vasu.

According to records, around 286 people have tested positive, which includes pilgrims, police and TDB officials, since the season began last month.

Due to Covid restrictions, the arrival of pilgrims on normal working days has been limited to 2,000 and on Saturday and Sunday it can be 3,000.

So Vasu feels there can be cutting down from the normal deployment of police and staff.

In normal times at a given time there are about 2,000 police officials on duty, however, with number of pilgrims restricted, authorities feel, they do not need such a huge deployment of police force.

The two month long annual festival which began on November 15, and the most important Makarvilaku day will be held on January 14, 2021.

All pilgrims will have to register in the virtual queue system.

This time all pilgrims who arrive for the pilgrimage will have to carry with them a Covid negative certificate and the test should have been done within 24 hours of their arrival.

One major change this time is that the popular holy dip in river Pamba will not be allowed instead a shower system will be provided which all pilgrims can undertake, before they begin their climb to the temple.

Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometre uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from the capital city.

The temple's directive barring entry of women who have attained puberty, remains a sticky point. The temple is accessible only on foot from Pamba.

Every pilgrim carries with him/her a kit (which contains coconuts which are broken just before climbing the 18 steps) on their head during the pilgrimage. Without it no one is allowed to go up the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 15:59:55 +0530
Kohli moves to No 2 Rahane enters top 10 in ICC Test rankings

Dubai, Ace Indian cricketers Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have moved up by a spot in their respective ICC players rankings in Test cricket.

Kohli has displaced New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson at the second spot in the latest ICC Test rankings for batsmen. India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has also entered the top 10 list. Cheteshwar Pujara has maintained his seventh spot in the list currently led by Australia's Steve Smith.

In the bowlers list, Bumrah has moved to number eight while ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has entered the top 10. The list is led by Australia pacer Pat Cummins, followed by England's Stuart Broad and Neil Wagner of New Zealand.

In the list of all-rounders, Ravindra Jadeja is the highest ranked Indian, currently occupying the third spot. Ashwin is placed at the sixth spot.

In the Test team rankings, India are placed at the third spot while Australia and New Zealand occupy the first and second spot respectively.

India and Australia are scheduled to take on each other in the four-match Test series beginning Thursday. Kohli will take part in the first Test only and will return to India after the pink-ball fixture at the Adelaide Oval (December 17-21) to be with his wife Anushka Sharma who is expecting their first child.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 15:54:34 +0530
BJP to EC Bring model code central forces early in Bengal

New Delhi, Just days ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah's repeat visit to poll-bound west Bengal, the BJP has clearly upped the ante while urging the EC to invoke Section 15 of the Representation of the People's Act.

In essence, the Bengal BJP has urged the Election Commission to impose the model code of conduct in the state early according to the provision of that section. Generally, it comes into effect only after dates of the election are announced.

A delegation led by BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta made the submission to the poll body citing the law and order situation and "political bias".

The BJP has also demanded early deployment of central police forces in the state, "else the ruling AITC with the active support of West Bengal Police will make campaigning very difficult, resulting in widespread violence."

The BJP has also said that members of the state government employees federation are not used in the preparation of electoral rolls as "they have pledged their support to the Chief Minister and the AITC."

They have also referred to an earlier complaint raising objection to this federation who the BJP claims had "committed" to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee her "electoral victory".

The BJP has also complained of discrepancies in the draft voters' list where it alleged names of dead and relocated voters continue to remain. The party in its submission to the EC has also raised the issue of the recent attack on its National President J.P. Nadda's convoy.

West Bengal is going to polls early next year where the BJP hopes to topple the TMC government after its success in last year's Lok Sabha election.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 15:50:16 +0530
SUN Mobility rides on Microsoft Azure to help build EV ecosystem

New Delhi, Microsoft on Tuesday said that electric vehicles solutions firm SUN Mobility is using its Azure Cloud as well as other solutions in developing Cloud-connected swappable batteries to put the country on the road to the future.

The batteries, as well as the swap stations, are connected to the cloud using Microsoft Azure and numerous built-in solutions like Azure IoT Hub, Azure Data Factory, CosmosDB, Azure Databricks, among others, that transmit battery performance telemetrics back to SUN Mobility.

The customers also have the option of using an app, which connects with their EV's battery and gives them real-time information of their battery's performance and the nearest swap station in case the battery is running low.

"We have stations, batteries, and customers that are connected to us. There are over 150 data points coming into our system from each battery," said Chetan Maini, founder of Bengaluru-based startup SUN Mobility.

With this data, SUN Mobility understands battery utilisation, most frequented routes, and peak hours.

"Using AI and machine learning algorithms, it can predict the potential demand. It can not only optimise its existing network of battery swapping stations, but also plan the location and feasibility of future stations," Microsoft said in a blog post.

So far, SUN Mobility has inked over 10 original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partnerships, that will enable automobile makers to use its battery technology.

These include Piaggio Commercial, the Italian automobile manufacturer's Indian arm that makes autorickshaws and Ashok Leyland, India's second largest manufacturer of large commercial vehicles like buses and trucks.

SUN Mobility currently has a network of 50 battery swapping stations spread across 14 cities, with plans to ramp it up to 150 stations in 20 cities by March 2021.

It has already partnered with Indian Oil Company, India's largest oil and gas company, to deploy battery swap modules at their gas stations.

"We always knew that the future would be on data, cloud, and analytics, and we had to rethink of how we would look at a platform and we felt that Microsoft was the kind of company we wanted to work with," said Maini who founded the Reva Electric Car Company way back in 1996.

"It was talking of sustainability, looking at data at scale, talking of making an impact, and was creating platforms. All of that resonated with our long-term vision," he added.

In his current role, Maini has taken a drastically different approach to powering EVs by applying the idea of shared economy to the battery ecosystem.

He's come up with a pay-as-you-go battery as a service system that is run on a digital platform built on the Microsoft Cloud.

"That means you don't have to wait for hours before your EV hits full charge".

Ultimately, the distance your EV can travel is no longer limited by the amount of charge in one battery.

"And because you don't buy the battery upfront, the cost of an EV can come down nearly 50 per cent," Maini said, adding that if people are willing to rent homes and cars, "I figured they'd be open to renting the battery too".

His company has also partnered with over a dozen companies that own fleets, including SmartE, India's largest EV fleet operator for last-mile connectivity in urban areas.

"SUN Mobility's battery as a service model can have a big impact on public transportation vehicles, where every minute the vehicle is not on the road has revenue implications. And users are already seeing the gains," the blog post by Microsoft said.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 14:01:07 +0530
Covid 19 accelerates digital transformation SCO Secy General

Islamabad, Vladimir Norov, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), said the coronavirus pandemic, despite its enormous damage to public health and global economy, had brought new opportunities by accelerating digital transformation.

Speaking via video conference here on Monday, Norov said the digital economy and cross-border e-commerce will play an increasingly important role in rebuilding the world economy after the Covid-19 in terms of achieving economic growth, increasing the competitiveness of economies and improving the quality of lives, thus contributing to sustainable development goals, reports Xinhua news agency.

"In times of Covid-19, global online retail sales are on the rise, and additional jobs are being created," he added, according to a statement issued by the Islamabad-based think tank, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The SDPI has organised a four-day conference titled, 'Sustainable Development in the Times of Covid-19', according to the statement.

"This year's SCO Summit concluded while finalizing an action plan for the implementation of the SCO development strategy 2025, which focuses on the early recovery of our economies from the pandemic," the SCO Secretary-General said.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Vaqar Ahmed said that the action plan for the SCO development strategy is comprehensive and would provide an opportunity for all member countries to cooperate.

He said the digital transformation approach of SCO is welcomed and various sub-regional economic corridors will contribute to regional integration.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 13:44:17 +0530
No Winter Session due to Covid Budget Session in Jan 2021

New Delhi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi in his letter to Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made it clear that no winter session of Parliament will be convened due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Budget Session is likely to be called in January 2021.

Chowdhury, in his letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on December 3 mentioned a number of issues such as farmers' agitation, status/preparation of Covid-19 vaccine, Chinese intrusion, economic slowdown and unemployment scenario to press for the short Winter Session.

Joshi in his letter to Chowdhury referring to his letter to Birla said that winter months are crucial for managing the pandemic because of recent spurt in cases during this period, particularly in Delhi.

"At present we are in middle of December and a Covid vaccine is expected very soon. In this regard, I have informally contacted floor leaders of various political parties and they have expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away with Winter Session." Joshi said.

"The government is willing to have the next session of Parliament at the earliest. It would be appropriate to have the Budget Session, 2021 in January 2012 keeping in mind the unprecedented circumstances created by Covid-19 pandemic," Joshi said.

The Minister also pointed out that the Monsoon Session was delayed due to Covid pandemic this year due to pandemic. The Monsson Session of Parliament in September this year was one of the most productive sessions of Parliament with 27 Bills passed by both Houses in continuous sitting.


Tue, 15 Dec 2020 13:32:25 +0530
Electoral college votes Biden Harris to lead US

New York,  "In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed," declared Joseph Robinette Biden after his election as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and the first Indian American elected as vice president.

The electoral college formally voted them to the offices on Monday following the bitterly contested November 3 presidential poll even as the acrimony continues with President Donald Trump questioning the legality of the election.

The electors began officially casting their ballots in state legislature buildings across the country at different times starting at 10 am Washington time, and Biden and Harris crossed the 270 mark to win when California electors voted at 5 p.m. The voting was to continue for two more hours till Hawaii voted at 7 p.m. (Tuesday 5.30 a.m. in India).

In the US political system, the presidential elections are held indirectly with the citizens voting for the 538 members of the electoral college distributed among states based on their size. These electors formally elect the president and vice president with separate ballots.

Biden and Harris got 306 electors, including former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York, while President Donald Trump got only 232.

The way was cleared for the electoral college to vote after the US Supreme Court threw out on Friday an appeal by Republicans against the conduct of the elections in some of the states and Wisconsin State Supreme Court on Monday dismissed another case brought by Trump.

Trump and his supporters, however, have not given up and threaten more lawsuits and action in Congress in January when it will meet to certify the electoral college votes paving the way for the swearing in of Biden and Harris on January 20.

Trump has alleged that there was widespread fraud in the elections and in his continuing steady drumbeat of tweets, he alleged as recently this morning that the election was "rigged." Democrats have accuse Trump of undermining the people's confidence in the election system.

Biden said in remarks prepared for his speech after the voting is complete, "We the People voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact."

"And so, now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal," he added.

Under legal requirements, the state officials will send their results to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the local chief judge and the nation's Archivist David Ferreiro, who will make them officially available to the public.

The next stage is a meeting of the newly elected Congress on January 6 to formally count the electoral votes and certify the election.

At this stage members of Congress can object to the election result -- as some Democrats in 2016 questioning the legitimacy of Trump's election because they claimed that he had won through Russian interference.

While objections from some Republicans to Biden's election is expected, Congress is unlikely to sustain them as many Republicans in the Senate have said that they have accepted Biden's election.

Till last week when the states completed the formality of counting and declaring the election results, the announcement of Biden's victory was by media based on their projections and not official or legally binding.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 09:22:09 +0530
CBI arrests maternal uncle of K taka Cong leader in murder case

Hubballi,  The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested Chandrashekhar Indi, relative of former Karnataka minister and Congress leader, Vinay Kulkarni, on Monday from his residence in Dharwad, a senior CBI official told IANS.

The CBI which is probing the murder of former BJP Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda Goudar, has arrested Indi, for procuring and supplying three country made pistols to Basappa Shivappa Muttagi, who executed the murder, the official disclosed.

"Muttagi obtained the weapon from Indi," a CBI official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Indi used to attend all the hearings relating to the case and allegedly used to influence the witness, the sources added.

Sources in the police department told IANS that Indi is a maternal uncle of the former minister, who is said to have executed this murder taking help of dreaded "Bhima Gang" of Vijyapura district.

The police said that Indi reportedly had connections there and through them it was executed.

It may be noted that the police had registered a case against six accused, who are all residents of Dharwad. After taking over the investigation on September 24 last year, the CBI arrested eight persons, of whom seven are in judicial custody and one is out on bail.

In May, the CBI also filed a charge sheet against the eight people. The investigation agency said the accused had allegedly come to Dharwad on two occasions in June 2016 and with the support of the other accused allegedly planned the crime.

Earlier, the Karnataka Police had filed a charge sheet in the murder case on September 9, 2016.

Yogeshgouda, then a Zilla Panchayat member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was hacked to death, reportedly over a property dispute in his own gym in Saptapur, Dharwad on June 15, 2016.

Following a plea by the elder brother of Yogeshgouda, Gurunathgouda, the case was handed over to the CBI for investigation.

Gurunathgouda had been making several allegations against some police officials and Vinay Kulkarni, who was the Mines and Geology Minister in the Congress-led government. Gurunathgouda had even accused Kulkarni and his associates of threatening him and at the same time also trying to strike truce.

He had also alleged tampering of evidence in the case. The BJP leaders too had demanded a CBI inquiry, alleging involvement of the Congress leaders, including the then Minister Vinay Kulkarni.

While the then Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah declined to hand over the case to the CBI, the present BJP-led government got the CBI to work on the case.

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 09:02:27 +0530
Amazon Prime Video launches on pay TV company Sky

London,  European pay-TV company Sky on Monday said it has signed a multi-year deal to bring Amazon Prime Video package to its millions of subscribers.

The partnership means customers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy will now be able to watch all the TV series, films and sport from Sky and Prime Video in one place.

The deal makes it possible for UK customers to watch every live Premier League fixture on Sky Sports, Prime Video and BT Sport without switching devices.

"Sky Q customers are receiving an early Christmas present on their boxes this year in the form of Amazon Prime Video," Stephen van Rooyen, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, UK & Europe Sky, said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Sky's streaming service, Now TV, will be available on select Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs for the first time.

"I'm delighted that this deal will give even more people access to our brilliant NOW TV and Sky Ticket apps through Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition," he said.

With new Amazon Original series like survival drama "The Wilds" and "The Grand Tour: A Massive Hunt" launching in December, this deal opens up new options for Sky and NOW TV customers, all in one place.

In time for Christmas, movie fans will have access to a wide range of new releases and family favourites across Prime Video including "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm", "Uncle Frank" and "I'm Your Woman".

"We're pleased to be bringing our Prime Video app to Sky Q and NOW TV devices in time for the holidays," said Jay Marine, Vice President, Prime Video Worldwide.

"With winter settling in, and our new binge-watch obsession The Wilds about to launch, it's a perfect time for Sky customers to catch up on our award-winning Prime Video TV shows, movies, and live sport, including Prime Video's exclusive live broadcasts of 20 English Premier League games this December."

Mon, 14 Dec 2020 17:58:56 +0530
Pak women to play 3 ODIs 3 T20Is in South Africa next month

Karachi, Pakistan women's cricket team will tour South Africa for three ODIs and as many T20Is to be played in January and February next year, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Monday.

The series will start and finish in Durban with the first ODI on January 20 and the third T20I on February 3. Both matches will be played under lights. Durban will also stage the second ODI on January 23 before action will move to Pietermaritzburg where the third ODI and opening two T20Is will be played on January 26, 29 and 31 respectively.

PCB's women's national selection committee has invited 27 women cricketers for a training and preparation camp, which will be held at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in Karachi from December 20.

From the start of the training camp until the side's departure for Durban on January 11, the cricketers will remain and train in a bio-secure environment, besides undergoing routine testing in line with the PCB Covid-19 protocols.

Prior to joining the camp, each cricketer will require a negative test and another negative test after reporting for the camp before being allowed to integrate with other members of the group.

"I am delighted that Cricket South Africa have agreed to host us for a full tour despite having already qualified for the ICC Women's World Cup 2022. This is yet another indicator and reflection of our relationship with the member boards who are willing to help and support each other in any possible way," PCB women's chief selector and head of the women's cricket, Urooj Mumtaz said.

"South Africa are ranked above us, both in the ODI and T20I formats and, as such, I am sure this series will go a long way in not only assisting us to further improve our standards but also prepare for June's ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2021 as we aim to finish in the top three and progress to event proper in early 2022 in New Zealand," she added.

The tour to South Africa will also be the first official assignment of head coach David Hemp and bowling coach Arshad Khan. While Hemp joined forces in October, Arshad was appointed in November. Mohammad Kamran Hussain will be the assistant coach at the training camp.

This will be Pakistan women's side's second tour to South Africa within 18 months. In May 2019, Pakistan and South Africa featured in one of the most thrilling, keenly contested and exciting women's series to date.

27 probables for the South Africa tour are (18-player squad expected to be announced on December 31): Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Bismah Maroof, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana Khan, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Javeria Rauf, Kainat Imtiaz, Kaynat Hafeez, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Najiha Alvi, Nashra Sandhu, Natalia Pervaiz, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Saba Nazir, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz and Syeda Aroob Shah

Mon, 14 Dec 2020 17:43:45 +0530
Ola to invest Rs 2 400Cr for scooter factory in TN

Chennai, Ride-hailing major Ola said on Monday that it will make an investment of Rs 2,400 crore for setting up the "world's largest" scooter factory in Tamil Nadu.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company said it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Tamil Nadu government for setting up the factory which is in line with the firm's aim to make India a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles.

Upon completion, the factory will create almost 10,000 jobs and will be the world's largest scooter manufacturing facility, which will initially have an annual capacity of two million units, Ola said.

The announcement comes as the company is gearing up to launch the first of its range of electric scooters in the coming months.

The Tamil Nadu factory will cater to customers not only in India but in markets around the world including Europe, Asia, Latin America, and more.

"This will be one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world. This factory will showcase India's skill and talent to produce world class products that will cater to global markets," Bhavish Aggarwal, Chairman and Group CEO, Ola, said in a statement.

The factory will produce Ola's upcoming range of two-wheeler products starting with Ola's electric scooter.

Ola said that it features a beautiful and seamless design, removable banana battery that is easy to carry and can be charged anywhere as well as "intelligent" software designed to elevates the consumer experience of owning a scooter.

Earlier this year Ola announced plans to hire over 2,000 people for its electric business as it builds a suite of electric and smart urban mobility solutions for consumers around the world.

Recently, the company also roped in General Motors veteran Jose Pinheiro to head its global manufacturing and operations.

Mon, 14 Dec 2020 17:31:14 +0530
Burger King India makes stellar opening on bourses

Mumbai,  Burger King India Ltd (BKIL) is one of the fastest growing international QSR chains in India which got positive response on its IPO

International quick service restaurant chain Burger King India ltd (BKIL) began its journey on Indian bourses with a stupendous opening garnering a premium of over 92 per cent on the first day of trade on Monday.

Against the issue price of Rs 60, Burger King stock opened at Rs 115.35 on BSE, while on the National Stock Exchange, shares made a debut at Rs 112.50, a premium of over 87 per cent over the IPO price.

At 1 p.m., the stock was trading at Rs 134.49 over 124 per cent higher than the issue price on BSE.

The performance of the stock had even defied projections made by analysts who had expected Burger King to list at around 70-75 percent premium over issue price.

"Such listing was in line with our expectation as the company issue was priced at a significant discount compared to listed peers such as Jubilant FoodWorks (Domino's Pizza) and Westlife Development (McDonald). Short term investors can book profit. We advise long term investors to stay invested in the company as there is ample scope available for the company to increase its business in India," Keshav Lahoti, Associate Equity Analyst, Angel Broking Ltd said.

"Even after such bumper listing, there is no issue with the valuation of the company. In the future, we expect the company to gain market share by opening more stores compared to the competitors. As the store count will increase, operating leverage will kick in and the company will be able to report profit and it will lead re-rating of the multiple for the stock," he added.

BKIL enjoys exclusive National Master Franchisee Rights in India till December 31, 2039, with an obligation to develop and open at least 700 restaurants by December 2026. It is one of the fastest growing QSR chain India with 268 restaurants spread across 17 states/UTs and 57 cities. It has already garnered 5 per cent market share in India's Rs 34,800 crore QSR market.

According to Motilal Oswal Financial Services, Over FY18-20, BKIL's Revenue/EBITDA grew at a CAGR of 49 per cent/258 per cent led by 2x the store strength. However, it continues to make losses at PAT level. The same store sales growth stood at 12.2 prt cent/29.2 per cent in FY18/FY19 while it surprisingly became flat in FY20. In 1HFY21, revenue declined 68 per cent YoY, while it made losses at EBITDA and PAT levels due to the Covid-19 impact.


Mon, 14 Dec 2020 13:44:12 +0530
Iraqi forces kill 42 IS militants

Baghdad, The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) killed 42 militants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group during can operation in Nineveh province, the country's military has confirmed.

Acting on intelligence reports, the CTS forces backed by Iraqi and international coalition aircraft, stormed into the Ayn al-Jahash area south of the provincial capital of Mosul, the former stronghold of the IS, Xinhua news agency reported citing the military as saying in a statement on Sunday.

The CTS forces were engaged in fierce clashes with IS militants in the area for two successive days, Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi forces, said in the statement.

The troops forced the IS militants to withdraw and hole up in their hideouts in tunnels and caves, prompting the CTS troops to storm their hideouts even with hand grenades, he added.

The operation resulted in the killing of 42 IS militants, including five of their local leaders, and the seizure of weapons and ammunition inside the hideouts, according to Rasoul.

The operation came as the extremist group have intensified their attacks on the security forces and civilians in the formerly IS-controlled Sunni provinces, resulting in the killing and wounding of dozens.

The security situation in Iraq has been improving since the security forces fully defeated the IS militants across the country in 2017.


Mon, 14 Dec 2020 10:45:59 +0530
Kerala civic polls Voting underway in third phase

Thiruvananthapuram, The third and final phase of the civic polls in Kerala began at 7 a.m. on Monday in the northern districts of Kerala.

Malappurram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod districts go to the polls, while the other 10 districts had polls on December 8 and 10.

In the third and final phase, polls are being held to elect new office bearers in 354 local bodies for 6,867 wards.

The fate of 22,151 candidates will be decided by 89,74,993 voters at 10,842 polling booths which is being manned by 52,285 poll officials.

Despite the Covid cases showing a consistent hike, people were coming out to vote in the four districts. Long queues were witnessed at the polling booths.

The day's poll time will end at 6 p.m. and like in the previous two phases, the last hour is being kept aside for the Covid patients and those under isolation.

Counting of votes will take place on Wednesday.


Mon, 14 Dec 2020 10:23:44 +0530
Singhu Social activist distributes 200 sanitary napkins to female protesters

New Delhi,  As the cold wave grips the national capital amid the farmer protests against the new agricultural laws passed by the Centre, a social activist distributed sanitary napkins to the female protesters.

Social activist and founder of People Against Rapes in Inda (PARI) Yogita Bhayana visited the Singhu border, which connects the national capital to the state of Haryana, and met the female protesters here.

As menstrual hygiene remains a major concern in such a situation where the agitators are living on the roads for over 18 days, Bhayana distributed sanitary napkins to the female protesters.

One of the female protesters while speaking to IANS said, "Menstrual hygiene remains a poignant issue in such a condition where we are living on roads. But, such help makes our struggle a bit easy and motivates us to stick to our aim. We would not leave from here untill the three black laws are taken back by the government."

The PARI founder along with volunteer Sana Shrivastava distributed more than 200 sanitary napkins along with water bottles to the protesters.

Speaking about the initiative, Bhayana told IANS, "I was seeing that farmers are protesting against the new laws for a number of days and I stand in solidarity with the food givers of our nation."

"Since the weather is adding to their difficulties, I decided to distribute these sanitary napkins and water bottles to ease their dissent and tackle the problems they are facing in these harsh conditions."

As far as the general hygiene is concerned, both the Panipat and Delhi administration have set up mobile toilet vans for the use of the protesters.

The vans are being maintained and cleaned regularly by the staff of the Delhi govt and the Haryana administration.

Meanwhile, the crowd at Delhi-Haryana's Singhu Border is swelling up with each passing day. The protest site expanding towards the Delhi end and in view of the same, the number of barricades have increased along with the number of security personnel in the area.

Unhappy over not getting a satisfactory response to their demands, the agitating farmers on Wednesday announced they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on Sunday.

After blocking the Singhu, Tikri, Chilla and Ghazipur borders connecting Delhi to Chandigarh, Haryana, Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) respectively, the farmers will now block the Delhi-Jaipur highway that connects the national capital to Rajasthan.

The move will disrupt Delhi's supply chain from another direction as the farmers have planned to block the National Highway 48 that starts from Delhi and connects with Rajasthan via Haryana.

Delhi's Commissioner is keeping a close watch on the law and order situation as protesting farmers have threatened to enter the capital.

The farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 14:43:10 +0530
Drass coldest at minus 17 6 degrees in Ladakh J K

Srinagar, Due to overnight partial cloud cover across J&K and Ladakh, night temperatures dropped further as Drass town recorded minus 17.6 degrees Celsius and Gulmarg ski resort recorded minus 7.6 degrees Celsius as minimum temperatures on Sunday.

"Weather is expected to remain mainly dry during this week and due to clear night the minimum temperatures are likely to drop further in J&K and Ladakh," an official of the MeT department said.

Srinagar recorded 0.1, Pahalgam minus 3.2 and Gulmarg minus 7.6 degrees as minimum temperatures on Sunday.

Leh town of Ladakh recorded minus 13.8, Kargil minus 12.6 and Drass minus 17.6 degrees as the night's lowest temperatures.

Drass is the second coldest inhabited place in the world where the minimum temperature dropped to minus 60 degrees Celsius in January 1995.

Jammu recorded 9.2, Katra 9.5, Batote 1.8, Banihal 2.0 and Bhaderwah minus 1.5 degrees as minimum temperatures.

The 40-day period of harsh winter cold known locally in Kashmir as the 'Chillai Kalan' starts on January 21 and will end on January 31.

All the perennial water reservoirs of J&K and Ladakh get replenished during this period by heavy snowfall.

These perennial water reservoirs sustain all the rivers, streams, springs and lakes during the hot summer months.

Heavy snowfall during Chillai Kalan is regarded as the harbinger of a prosperous summer for farmers and orchard owners in Kashmir.


Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:14:42 +0530
Apple bug doesn t allow notifications for SMS texts iMessages

San Francisco, Several iPhone users have written on various social media platforms that they are not receiving pop-up notifications for SMS texts and iMessages.

MacRumors first wrote about such problem on new iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max phones.

"But it seems to also be affecting people with older iPhones as well, so this is looking more and more like an iOS 14 issue," reports The Verge.
Several iPhone users also posted the problem, which may be a possible bug, on the company's support forums.

"I am not getting sound notifications on text messages nor is the banner showing up on my locked screen. I have an iPhone 11 and just downloaded the latest iOS 14. Have reset my phone twice now. Please advise," posted on user on Apple communities page.

Another iPhone user echoed the issue: "I am having the same problem I get no notifications of any kind for my messages but only from one person everyone else works fine and I don't have them muted or silent".

Apple hasn't released a fix for the bug yet.

"Early reports indicate that the no-text-notifications bug remains present — at least in some cases — in the second release candidate build of iOS 14.3 that Apple pushed out to public beta testers," the report said on Saturday.

One user posted on one of the Apple forum pages: "I have not been getting sound notifications for text messages for a number of months. I have tried 20 different suggested fixes and nothing works. I'm about to put out a reward for finding the solution! I have the new iOS 14 and new Apple Watch 6".

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:38:31 +0530
PLI scheme to provide major impetus to manufacturing sector Amitabh Kant

New Delhi, The Centre's production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for key sectors has the potential to add $520 billion worth of manufacturing in the next five years, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Saturday.

Recently, the Centre had announced the PLI scheme with a budgetary support of $26 billion.

Addressing the virtual session, 'PLI for Exponential Growth of Manufacturing', organised during Ficci's 93rd annual convention, Kant said that the PLI scheme in the 10 champion sectors will support Indian manufacturers.

He emphasised that this is the time for supply chains across the world to get relocated and India must leverage the opportunity to become the most preferred destination for manufacturing.

According to Kant, the PLI scheme is a game-changer for the manufacturing sector and the 10 sectors will attract investment in large scale, boost export potential and give rise to economic space which will ensure India's integration in the global value chain.

"If we want size and scale of manufacturing, we should support manufacturing for the next five years so that companies become an integral part of the global value chains," Kant said.

He further mentioned that the government has supported both labour intensive and cutting-edge technology areas with PLI that will help MSMEs in the value chain.

"We want India to become global champion in manufacturing in areas where we have announced PLI," Kant said.

"Our 73-74 per cent exports were concentrated in items where global trade is only 30 per cent and with the PLI scheme, we are supporting areas where we can take lead in major globally traded items," he added.

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:32:09 +0530
US states to start getting Covid 19 vaccine from Monday

Washington,  The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will begin arriving in US states from Monday, an official of President Donald Trump's administration said.

Shipping companies UPS and FedEx will deliver the vaccine to nearly 150 state locations, Xinhua news agency quoted Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, as saying on Saturday.

Perna said the vaccine was timed to arrive on Monday morning so that health workers would be available to receive the shots and then begin giving them.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday issued authorization for emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine of American drugmaker Pfizer in partnership with German company BioNTech, the first vaccine against the disease in the country.

The emergency use authorization allows the vaccine to be distributed in the country.

The FDA said the totality of the available data provides clear evidence that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be effective in preventing the virus.

The data also show that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks, supporting the vaccine's use in millions of people 16 years of age and older, said the FDA.

Perna's announcement comes as the US set yet another record for single-day Covid cases after more than 244,000 people tested positive for the virus.

In its latest update on Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 244,011 new cases and 3,013 fatalities, which increased the overall infection tally and death toll to 16,045,596 and 297,789, respectively.

The new data brought the seven-day average daily case increase to a record-high of more than 209,000 cases, and the seven-day average daily death increase to nearly 2,400, highest since late April.

There are over 108,000 people currently hospitalized due to the disease across the US, a new all-time record since the onset of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:20:35 +0530
With 30 254 new cases India s Covid tally reaches 98 5L

New Delhi,  With 30,254 new Covid cases and 391 deaths in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally stood at 98,57,029 on Sunday, while the death toll touched 1,43,019, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

A total of 33,136 recovered in the last 24 hours taking the cured tally to 93,57,464. Currently, there are 3,56,546 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 94.93 per cent, and the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent.

A total of 15,37,11,833 samples have been tested for Covid-19 till now. Of these, 10,14,434 samples were tested on Friday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state with 18,76,699 cases till date.

Over 72 per cent of the daily new cases were reported by 10 states and union territory -- Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana.

As many as eight Covid-19 vaccine candidates are under different stages of clinical trials which could be ready for authorisation in near future, including three indigenous vaccines.

It includes Astrazeneca and Oxford university developed and Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Limited, ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik-V, NVX-CoV2373 by SII, HGCO19 by Geneva, and two unlabeled vaccines-Recombinant Protein Antigen based vaccine by Biological E Limited-and Inactivated rabies vector platform by Bharat Biotech.

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:15:29 +0530
Zodiac Killer s cipher solved by amateur codebreakers FBI

Washington, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced that 51 years after the self-proclaimed 'Zodiac Killer' randomly killed five people in Northern California's Bay Area, a team of amateur codebreakers have solved a cryptic cipher sent to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper in 1969, according to media reports.

According to an archived FBI statement, the 'Zodiac Killer' sent local newspapers a three-part coded message explaining his motive for the killings in 1969 and in a separate letter to the editor suggested his identity was buried within an elaborate cipher message.

The decoded message revealed the killer's twisted motive, but his identity remains a mystery.

In its announcement on Friday, the FBI said that the "340 cipher" was solved by three codebreakers -- David Oranchak, a software developer in Virginia; Jarl Van Eycke, a Belgian computer programmer; and Sam Blake, an Australian mathematician, CNN reported.

After the decoding, it was revealed that the the cipher was sent in all capital letters with no punctuation marks.

The deciphered message reads as: "I hope you are having lots of fun in trying to catch me. That wasn't me on the TV show which brings up a point about me. I am not afraid of the gas chamber because it will send me to paradice (paradise misspelled) all the sooner.

"Because I now have enough slaves to work for me where everyone else has nothing when they reach paradice so they are afraid of death.

"I am not afraid because I know that my new life will be an easy one in paradice death."

The TV show mentioned is the "The Jim Dunbar Show", which a person claiming to be the killer had called two weeks before the cipher was sent.

Speaking to CNN, Oranchak, who had been working on the cipher since 2006, said: "It was incredible. It was a big shock, I never really thought we'd find anything because I had grown so used to failure.

"When I first started, I used to get excited when I would see some words come through -- they were like false positives, phantoms. I had grown used to that. It was a long shot... We didn't even really know if there was a message."

In its announcement, the FBI said that the 'Zodiac Killer' case "remains an ongoing investigation for the bureau's San Francisco office and its local law enforcement partners".

"The Zodiac Killer terrorised multiple communities across Northern California and even though decades have gone by, we continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes.

"Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time," it added.

The 'Zodiac Killer' remains one of the most famous unsolved cases in American history.


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:51:54 +0530
All states except Tamil Nadu availed special capital expenditure scheme Centre

New Delhi, The Centre on Saturday said that all states except Tamil Nadu have availed benefits of "Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure".

The scheme is aimed at boosting capital expenditure by the state governments, who are facing a difficult financial environment this year due to the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Finance, capital expenditure has a higher multiplier effect, enhancing the future productive capacity of the economy, and results in a higher rate of economy growth.

"Therefore, despite the adverse financial position of the central government, it was decided to extend a special assistance to the state governments in respect of capital expenditure, in financial year 2020-21,"

"The scheme has got very warm response from the state governments. So far capital expenditure proposals of Rs 9,879.61 crore of 27 States have been approved by the Ministry of Finance."

As per the statement, an amount of Rs 4,939.81 crore has already been released to the states as the first instalment under the scheme.

"The capital expenditure projects have been approved in diverse sectors of economy like, 'Health, Rural Development, Water Supply, Irrigation, Power, Transport, Education, Urban Development'."

Besides, the scheme has three parts of which the first covers the north-eastern region.

"Under this part, Rs 200 crores is allocated to seven north-eastern states. In view of higher population and geographical area, Assam has been allocated Rs 450 crores under the scheme,"

The second part of the scheme for all other states that are not included in part-I.

"An amount of Rs 7,500 crores is earmarked for this part. This amount has been allocated amongst these states in proportion to their share of central tax as per the interim award of the 15th Finance Commission for the year 2020-21,"

In addition, the third part of the scheme is aimed at pushing various citizen-centric reforms in the states.

"Under this part, an amount of Rs 2,000 crores is earmarked. This amount will be available only to those states who carry out at least 3 out of the 4 reforms specified by the Ministry of Finance in its letter dated 17th May, 2020 regarding reform linked additional borrowing permissions."

Accordingly, the four reforms are - 'One Nation One Ration Card, Ease of doing Business Reform, Urban Local Body pr Utility Reform and Power Sector Reform'.


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:43:03 +0530
India cricketers draw on domestic experience for D N Test

New Delhi,  Australia's experience of playing Day-Night Tests is the most among all international teams -- seven matches all of which they have won, unlike India, their opponents in the first Test at Adelaide Oval, who have an experience of just one Test under lights which is the lowest alongside Bangladesh among countries with pink-ball Test experience.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), forced largely by the team management, had for long baulked at the idea of playing a Test match with pink ball, trialling it first at the Duleep Trophy for three seasons before returning to red-ball in the domestic tournament last season.

During India's previous tour of Australia, BCCI had rejected the idea of playing a day-night Test but it eventually embraced the change and played the first day-nighter late last year against Bangladesh, four years after the Aussies first played theirs.

Australian batting mainstay Steve Smith had said a few months back that his side having played more day-night games than India has a slight advantage going into this week's Adelaide Test. Importantly, Australia have won all the four day-night matches they have played at the Adelaide Oval.

Smith's teammate and fellow batsman Marnus Labuschagne on Saturday said that there are a few little things about day-night cricket that are different, like the ball seaming a bit more during the night than during day, making batting a bit easier during the day.

Though India have played just one Test, their performance in the ongoing warm-up game under lights at the Sydney Cricket Ground will give them confidence. They racked up a lead of nearly 500 while batting in their second innings on the second day. Some of the performers in the warm-up, however, have had plenty of experience of playing with the pink ball at the domestic level.

Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma (who is not in the squad for first two Tests), Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and Prithvi Shaw have played the Duleep Trophy with the pink ball.

Former India Test and ODI cricketer Vijay Dahiya, who also covered the pink-ball Duleep Trophy as commentator, feels experience of playing Tests doesn't count that much. He says it is about adapting as the Indians have enough experience with the pink ball in practice and domestic level.

"I don't think there will be much of a difference. It is about how quickly you adapt. India players might have played one match but it is not like they haven't played with pink ball. We have used pink ball in three seasons on Duleep Trophy. You have been practising with the pink ball, you know what game is played at what time. You can say that they have played more than us, but looking at what happened the practice game, it gives an impression that we are well-equipped," Dahiya told IANS.

Dahiya, who played in Indian domestic cricket's first day-night multi-day game, the Ranji Trophy final in the 1996-97 season, says the day-night game is a totally different concept and requires changes and tweaks, something that Labuschagne also touched upon.

"It is a different concept. Timing is different. You get up in the morning to play a Test match, you have less time to prepare. In normal Test match, the quicker you start the game the quicker you get into the game... you get back, recover and figure out next day's play... you feel that morning approaches quite fast," he added.

"But when you play a day-nighter, it is completely different," Dahiya said before adding that having too much time before a game can sometimes backfire. "Here you have more time to think about.. you do a lot in the morning, sometimes before playing when you get (too much) time, which is not a nice thing. Because you want to get down to the business as soon as possible. We are waiting, and waiting for anything is not good," said Dahiya, who has also coached IPL-winning Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Ranji team. "The body clock changes just like in T20s and ODIs, recovery will be late as the schedule changes. Test specialists will need to adjust. For those who play T20Is and ODIs, it will be normal."

Labuschagne had on Saturday pointed out that players have to make certain changes to their games as compared to normal Test matches. He had said that the ball seams a bit more in the evening. Dahiya elaborated on that.

"During normal Test matches, in the first session you always feel there will be more swing, because it is early morning. Here you are starting from afternoon session when batting is easier. But in the evening, things turn around," he added.

Adelaide is close to the sea, meaning there will be a lot more breeze throughout the evening and night than in the morning just like in Mumbai where, at the Wankhede Stadium, the ball starts to move in the afternoon session between 3.30 and 4 pm.

In a night game, the situation will last till late


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:35:15 +0530
Indian origin man gets 2 years in prison for Webex Teams hack


New York,  An Indian-origin man named Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh -- a former engineer with Cisco -- was sentenced this week to two years in prison for accessing Cisco's network without authorisation after he left the company and then destroying servers that hosted infrastructure for the Cisco Webex Teams service.

According to a report from, Ramesh, 31, of San Jose in the US, was formally charged earlier this year in July and pleaded guilty a month later in August.

As per the court documents, Ramesh worked for Cisco between July 2016 and April 2018, when he resigned and joined another company.

However, for reasons not mentioned in the indictment, five months later, in September 2018, Ramesh accessed Cisco's cloud infrastructure hosted on Amazon's Web Services.

Investigators said Ramesh then proceeded to run a script that deleted 456 virtual machines that were supporting Cisco's video conferencing software WebEx Teams, actions that resulted in the temporary deletion of more than 16,000 Webex accounts.

It took Cisco two weeks to recover the accounts and rebuild its systems, costing the company more than the US $2.4 million, with $1,400,000 in employee time and $1,000,000 in customer refunds.

The tech giant's management brought the case to law enforcement as soon as it realised the Webex Teams outage was the result of intentional sabotage and not a server issue, the report said.

Although Ramesh apologised for his actions, the former Cisco engineer never explained what drove him to delete Cisco's servers.

Besides serving the next two years in prison, Ramesh was also ordered to pay a US $15,000 fine.

Ramesh was also fired from his job at his current employer, personal lifestyle site Stich Fix, and is scheduled to begin his prison sentence next year, on February 10.

According to the company, the incident didn't expose any of its customers' data, and the company restored service to all affected parties


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:24:36 +0530
Ajay Devgn starrer Maidaan to release on Dussehra 2021 in theatres

Mumbai,  Actor Ajay Devgn on Saturday announced that his upcoming film Maidaan will arrive in theatres on October 15, 2021, on the occasion of Dussehra. 

The film is inspired by the true story of Syed Abdul Rahim, who was a football coach and manager of the Indian national team from 1950 till his death in 1963.

"‘Maidaan' now releases worldwide in theatres on Dussehra 2021. Shoot commences January 2021.
#Maidaan2021," Devgn tweeted along with a poster featuring him and others in a retro look. 

While shooting will resume in January 2021, portions of the film have already been shot across Lucknow, Kolkata and Mumbai. The unit was to start the final schedule when all filming activity had to be stalled owing to Covid-19.

The primary shooting of the film is already 65 per cent completed and the last schedule will now end by April 2021. 

Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma of Badhaai Ho fame, the film also features Priyamani, Gajraj Rao and Rudranil Ghosh.


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:46:10 +0530
Agri reforms to usher in new investments farmers to gain Modi

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that agricultural reforms will usher in new investments into the sector.

Modi said this at the 93rd 'Annual General Meeting' of the industry body Ficci. The event was organised on a virtual platform.

According to the Prime Minister, agriculture reforms will increase synchronisation in the sector and help create better logistics and cold chain infrastructure.

The Prime Minister reiterated that agricultural reforms are done to empower farmers and improve their financial conditions.


Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:03:12 +0530
Trump signs 1 week govt funding bill

Washington, US President Donald Trump has signed a one-week stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government open through December 18, providing more time for lawmakers to negotiate a much-awaited coronavirus relief package.

The President signed the bill, known as a continuing resolution, on Friday night after the Senate passed it earlier in the day by a voice vote just a few hours before the government funding was set to expire, Xinhua news agency.

On Wednesday, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 343-67.

Meanwhile, negotiators are still trying to secure a broader agreement that would include the 12 fiscal 2021 bills and fund the government until October 1, 2021.

"I remain hopeful that essential progress on these items will continue. We ought to pass a full-year funding measure and I hope our committees in the Senate and House can complete their work and deliver legislation next week," The Hill news website quoted the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as saying in a statement also on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that they want to attach a long-awaited Covid-19 relief legislation to an omnibus funding bill, which will keep the government open while providing targeted relief to households and businesses.

Despite the unabated resurgence of fresh coronavirus cases across the country, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been deadlocked for months over the size and scope of the next relief package.

The White House on Tuesday proposed a new $916 billion Covid-19 relief package to the Democrats.

But Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it didn't provide enough funding for unemployment insurance.

Without a new relief package, many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure by the end of the year.

Earlier this week, the Chamber of Commerce had warned that failure to enact a meaningful pandemic package "risks a double-dip recession that will permanently shutter small businesses across the nation and leave millions of Americans with no means to support themselves and their families".

Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:00:48 +0530
Madras HC orders probe into missing 103 kg gold seized by CBI

Chennai, The Madras High Court has ordered a probe by the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) into the missing 103.864 kg gold out of 400.47 kg seized by the Central Bureau of Investigation from Surana Corporation Ltd and kept under lock and key.

The 103.864 kg gold was found missing when it was weighed to be handed over to the liquidator of Surana Corporation.

The high court order came on Friday.

The CBI in a curious submission told the court that the gold when it was seized several years back was weighed together and when it was to be handed over to the liquidator each item was weighed individually and hence there was a difference.

According to CBI the seized gold were kept in the vaults of Surana Corporation and the keys were handed over to a special court for CBI cases.

Rejecting an objection raised by the CBI against the CBCID probe as it would bring down the prestige of the organisation, the High Court said all policemen are to be trusted and ordered the probe.

The court also ordered the liquidator C. Ramasubramaniam to lodge a complaint with the CBCID.

The case dates back to 2012, when the CBI had booked a case against the officials of Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) for showing undue favours for Surana Corporation, a gold importer.

The probe agency had raided Surana Corporation and seized 400.47 kg gold.

Later the CBI said the seized gold was not needed for prosecuting the MMTC officials for corruption but filed another case in 2013 against Surana Corporation for violation of Foreign Trade Policy.

The seized gold was transferred from 2012 case to 2013 case. Later the case was closed as there was no offence committed.

However the CBI had petitioned the Special Court to transfer the gold to the office of Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on the ground that ownership of the metal is subject to corruption inquiry.

The company sought the possession of the gold as it had taken bank loans and State Bank of India (SBI) sought the possession of the yellow metal.

The banks had initiated insolvency proceedings against Surana Corporation.

The Special Court in 2017 ordered handing over of the gold to SBI and when the inventory was taken it was found that the gold weighed 296.06 only which is 103.864 kg less than the original 400.47 kg seized in 2012.

Liquidator Ramasubramaniam had approached the High Court asking for a direction to CBI to hand over the missing gold.

Sat, 12 Dec 2020 14:24:44 +0530
GST invoice fraud 132 arrested 1 63 lakh registrations cancelled

New Delhi,  In its drive to check fake firms, fly-by-night operators, and circular trading entities, the GST field formations have cancelled 1,63,042 registrations in the month of October and November this year due to non-filing of GSTR-3B returns for more than six months, sources in the Department of Revenue said.

In one month of its nationwide drive against GST fake invoice frauds, the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) and CGST Commissionerates has so far arrested 132 persons including four chartered accountants and a woman for availing or passing on ineligible ITC fraudulently and have filed 1,430 cases against more than 4,586 fake GSTIN entities identified across the country.

Sources in the Department under the Finance Ministry said that the fourth chartered accountant, Akshay Jain, was arrested from Visakhapatnam for his involvement in issuing fake ITC (input tax credit) to the tune of Rs 20.97 crore on the invoices of cement by creating 14 fake firms without supply of goods. The investigation on the matter is still going on.

All these GSTIN entities who had not filed their GSTR-3B returns for more than six months were first issued cancellation notices and then their registrations were cancelled as per the standard operating procedure, the sources said. Also, out of 720 deemed registrations granted between August 21, 2020 to November 16, 2020 where Aadhaar authentication was not done, 55 deemed registrations have been identified for discrepancy and the process of cancellation was initiated in these cases as per the SOP issued earlier.

Sources said that further, 28,635 taxpayers who have not filed their GSTR-3B returns for more than 6 months as on December 1, 2020 have been identified and all the GST Commissionerates have been directed to initiate suo-moto cancellation process in these cases.

In Ahmedabad zone, a total of 11,048 GST registrations were cancelled and in Chennai GST & Central Excise Zone, 19,586 suo-moto cancellations have been done so far in respect of GST taxpayers who have failed to file returns for more than six months.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:11:35 +0530
FB workers don t need vaccine to return to work Zuckerberg


San Francisco,  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told his more than 50,000 employees that they will not be required to get vaccinated before returning back to work when the company reopens offices in July 2021.

According to a report in The Daily Beast, the Facebook CEO said this during an all-hands meeting "when a Facebook employee asked about how the forthcoming vaccine will affect their return to in-person work".

Most Facebook employees are currently working from home.

Zuckerberg reportedly told the employees during the meeting on Thursday that "some workers have already returned to their buildings in countries with lower rates of Covid-19 and in other limited circumstances".

A Facebook spokesperson told The Verge: "Regardless of when vaccines become available, we've given our employees the option to work remotely at least until July 2021".

"Our US offices remain closed and we don't expect them to open before the COVID-19 vaccines are widely available".

Zuckerberg said "he is confident in the vaccine and looks forward to getting one himself".

"Once we return to the office, we will have a number of protocols in place that we expect to include testing, social distancing, wearing masks and other best practices."

Facebook offices are shut since March worldwide and in May, the company announced an optional permanent work-from-home policy.

Zuckerberg laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his workforce work from home by 2030. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now.


Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:09:42 +0530
One new thing per day Bumrah tweets after maiden half century

Sydney, Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah donned his batsman's hat on Friday, scoring his maiden half-centurt (55 off 57 balls) to pull India 'A' to a total of 194 in their warm-up match against Australia 'A' at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He also took two wickets.

After followed his performnace with a cheeky tweet.

"Try one new thing per day, they said," he tweeted with an image of him batting on Friday.

Bumrah, 27, hit six fours and two sixes as he shared a 71-run partnership with Mohammed Siraj for the 10th wicket to take India to 194 after they had been reduced to 123 for nine wickets in the 36th over. Both Bumrah and Siraj stayed together for over 13 overs as the Indian innings folded in the 49th over. He got to his half-century in style, pulling Will Sutherland over fine-leg where the fielder ended up losing his balance and parried the ball over the fence for a six.

It continued to be Bumrah's day at the SCG as he then picked two wickets to help India dismiss Australia A for a paltry 108, and take an 86-run lead going into Day 2 of the match.


Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:06:47 +0530
CBI raids 7 locations in Gujarat Maharashtra Karnataka in 2 bank fraud cases

New Delhi, The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday carried out searches at seven locations in Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra in connection with two separate bank fraud cases.

A CBI official here said that the agency carried out searches at four locations in Ahmedabad and Anand in Gujarat on the office and residential premises of Sayona Colours Pvt Ltd and its Managing Director Paresh Dayalbhai Patel, Shamrock Chemie Pvt Ltd in connection with cheating the State Bank of India to the tune of Rs 71.88 crore.

The case registered by the CBI is based on the complaint of the SBI. The case was registered by CBI on December 7 this year.

In the complaint it has been alleged that Sayona Colors Pvt Ltd and Shamrock Chemie Pvt Ltd, Patel cheated the erstwhile State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Mysore through manipulated books of accounts and diversion of funds.

While in the another case the CBI carried out searches at three locations in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru in connection with Rs 57.28 crore fraud case against Bank of Baroda.

The CBI alleged that Technova Plastic Industries Pvt Ltd (TPIPL), its managing director Ahsan Hassan Darvesh, company's director Talib Hassan Darvesh, Assistant Director Abdul Habib and unknown others cheated the bank to the tune Rs 57.28 crore. The CBI registered a case on December 2.

The bank in its complaint alleged that TPIPL and its officials in pursuance of criminal conspiracy and with dishonest intention of causing loss to the bank and wrongful gain to themselves diverted siphoned off and misappropriated bank funds from working capital and term loans by giving advances or loans, making payments against huge purchases from related parties and investing in equity shares and other investments in related companies.

During the searches, the CBI recovered several incriminating documents.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:04:55 +0530
Governor inaugurates 30th Annual Global Conclave of Safety and Security Management

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari today inaugurated the 30th Annual Global Conclave of the International Institute of Security and Safety Management (IISSM) through the online platform from Raj Bhavan, Mumbai. The theme of the 2-day Conclave is ‘Covid -19 – From Survival to Revival: Emerging Paradigms in Security and Safety Services.

Former Member of Rajya Sabha and Executive Chairman of IISSM R K Sinha, Chairman and retired IPS Officer S K Sharma, retired IPS officer Rajan Medhekar, President of IISSM Foundation Uday Singh and personnel from Safety and Security industry were present.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 19:07:58 +0530
Music Maestros Treasures inaugurated at Shanmukhananda

A rare gallery of musical instruments, named “Maestros Treasures”  donated by eminent classical  musicians both Carnatic and Hindustani of yesteryears were inaugurated at the Shanmukhananda  Sabha, Sion  on Sunday.


All the instruments used by the doyens were gifted during the past few years. The “Maestros’ Treasures” gallery has on display the  Shehnai  played by Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sarangi of Pandit Ramnarayan, Tablas of Ustad Zakir Hussin, Sarod of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Mandolin of U.Srinivas, Violins of Lalgudi Jayaraman, Prof T.N.Krishnan and M.S.Gopalakrishnan, Santoor used by  Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Baasuri of Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Flute used by legendary T.R.Mahalingam( Mali) was donated by Pandit Ramnarayan when the former gifted it to Panditji after both played together at the French Radio Festival in 1979, Ghatam used by Vikku Vinayakram, Mridangam of Palghat Mani Iyer and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt donated his “Mohana veena”.

These instruments were donated by the artists, knowing Sabha will not exploit them for commercial purpose and will be appreciated by more than  six lakhs people who visit the Sabha every year, said the Sabha president Dr V.Shankar.


Last year at a Sabha function, veteran Mridangist from South , Dr Umayalapuram Sivaraman played  the Mridangam, which was 100 years old, and later donated it for the project Shankar said. “This gallery was assembled in three months time despite the pandemic and would serve as an inspiration to young musicians and the patrons of art and also recollect on each occasion when they see the instruments  of vintage classics that they had experienced live of these great maestros”, he said.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 18:30:44 +0530
Coast Guard seizes 9 7 kg gold from boat off TN coast

Chennai, The Indian Coast Guard on Friday said it had seized 9.7 kg gold from a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mannar off the Tamil Nadu coast and arrested five persons.

The operation was launched at 10 pm on Thursday along with a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) team onboard a Coast Guard ship and the suspect boat's movement was closely monitored.

The boat was subsequently intercepted and gold seized. A joint investigation is under progress, the Coast Guard said.

Meanwhile, the Chennai Air Customs on Thursday seized 366 gm gold valued at Rs 18.4 lakh from two passengers who flew in from Dubai at the airport here.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:26:48 +0530
UP Man commits suicide after killing wife 3 children

Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 11 (IANS) In a shocking incident, a 37-year-old man strangulated his wife and three children to death and then committed suicide police said.

The incident took place in the Parikshitgarh area on Thursday evening.

A suicide note written by the man, identified as Rashid, was found in the house. The note said he was taking the extreme step due to marital dispute.

The bodies of the wife and children were found on the bed while the husband was found hanging from the ceiling fan.

There were strangulation marks around the necks of the wife and three children.

According to reports, Rashid Ahmad, 37, and his wife Rihana, 35, were married in 2013. This was Rashid's second marriage and Rihana's third marriage.

Their two sons, Afaan, 10, and Haider 7 were from Rashid's first marriage and Ayat, 4, was the couple's daughter.

SHO Parikshitgarh police station, Anand Mishra, told reporters that it appears that Rashid first strangulated his wife and then the three children. He then committed suicide by hanging himself.

In his suicide note, Rashid has said that his family that includes five brothers, should not be harassed.

Rashid worked as a driver and a part-time welder.

Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Sahni said the bodies had been sent for post-mortem and necessary investigations were underway.

Fri, 11 Dec 2020 10:26:27 +0530
Biden announces more picks for administration

Washington, US President-elect Joe Biden has announced more members he has picked for his administration.

In a statement on Thursday, Biden said Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa who served as Secretary of Agriculture for all the eight years during former President Barack Obama's administration, has been nominated to the job again.

Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge has been tapped to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, while former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is picked to serve as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Meanwhile, the President-elect said that he was choosing Katherine Tai, a veteran international trade expert, for the role of the US Trade Representative, while appointing former National Security Advisor Susan Rice to be Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

"This dedicated and distinguished group of public servants will bring the highest level of experience, compassion, and integrity to bear, solving problems and expanding possibilities for the American people in the face of steep challenges," Biden was quoted as saying in the statement.

"The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people's lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans," he added.

These nominations were reported earlier this week, but they were only confirmed in Thursday's statement.

On Wednesday, Biden introduced retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin as his nominee for Defence Secretary.

In his announcement, the President-elect described the battle-hardened retired general as a man "feared by our adversaries", but who will "ensure that the use of force is our tool of last resort".

If confirmed by the Senate, Austin will be the second African-American to head a department with an international focus. The first was Colin Powell, who was former President George W. Bush's Secretary of State.

Meanwhile n Monday, the President-elect said he was nominating Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, as the Secretary of Health and Human Hervices.

If confirmed, Becerra, a former US Congressman from California, will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which will oversee the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months.

Indian-American Vivek Murthy has been tapped to serve as US Surgeon General, a post the research scientist held between 2014 and 2017, and Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The President-elect also said he has appointed Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care disparities, to serve as the Covid-19 equity task force chair, while naming Jeff Zients, former director of the National Economic Council, coordinator of the Covid-19 response and a presidential counsellor.

Anthony Fauci, America's top expert on infectious diseases and an adviser to six US Presidents, will serve as chief medical adviser on Covid-19 to Biden and continue in his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


Fri, 11 Dec 2020 09:22:20 +0530
Ahmedabad to host 7 India England matches in Feb Mar

New Delhi, England will play 12 international games -- four Tests, three ODIs, and five T20s -- on their tour of India in February-March, with Ahmedabad hosting seven of those matches, including a day-night Test. All the matches will be played at only three venues -- Chennai and Pune being the others -- and in bio-secure environment, it was announced on Thursday.

Ahmedabad's refurbished Sardar Patel Motera Stadium, which can accommodate 1,10,000 spectators, will host two Tests and all five T20 Internationals, according to the itinerary jointly released by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

England will play four Tests, five T20Is and three ODIs from February 9 to March 28.

No international cricket has been played in India since March, 2020 when the series against South Africa was abruptly cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak. Subsequently, the Indian Premier League was also moved to the United Arab Emirates.

Itinerary: England tour of India:

Test series

1st Test 5th - 9th Feb Chennai

2nd Test 13th - 17th Feb Chennai

3rd Test (D/N) 24th - 28th Feb Ahmedabad

4th Test 4th - 8th March Ahmedabad

T20I series

1 12th March 1st T20I Ahmedabad

2 14th March 2nd T20I Ahmedabad

3 16th March 3rd T20I Ahmedabad

4 18th March 4th T20I Ahmedabad

5 20th March 5th T20I Ahmedabad

ODI series

1 23rd March 1st ODI Pune

2 26th March 2nd ODI Pune

3 28th March 3rd ODI Pune

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 17:18:48 +0530
Obama monitored Trump rolling back his policies

Washington, Former US President Barack Obama has claimed that although he did not keep a checklist, he did monitor the efforts of his successor President Donald Trump's administration to either roll back or dismantle some of his policies.

Obama made the remarks on Wednesday while speaking to the New York magazine about his new memoir "A Promised Land", The Hill news website reported.

"I don't have a checklist in my desk where I'm like, 'All right, this survived, that they tried to reverse but weren't organized enough to do',"

"I do pay attention; I have paid attention to those areas where what the Trump administration attempted to do did some serious damage and where it's more of a short-term setback on what is a long-term success," the former leader was quoted as saying.

In his four years in office, Trump has focused on undoing a number of Obama's key achievements, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The DACA was however, fully reinstated this on the orders of a federal judge earlier this week.

Regarding President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris taking office next month, Obama said the two "will be able to pick up where we left off".

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 16:45:25 +0530
Google begins showing authorised vaccine locations on Search

San Francisco,  As the UK begins mass vaccination, Google has launched a new feature on Search that will show authorised locations to people who look up information for Covid-19 vaccines.

Google Search will show a list of authorised vaccines in their location, as well as information panels on each individual vaccine.

"As other health authorities begin authorising vaccines, we'll introduce this new feature in more countries," Google said in a statement on Wednesday.

British regulators approved the Pfizer vaccine on December 2, and the country has received 800,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people.

The first shots are given to people over 80 years of age, who are either hospitalised or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers and vaccination staff.

Google informed that launched in March, the Covid-19 information panels on YouTube have been viewed 400 billion times, making them an important source of authoritative information.

These panels are featured on the YouTube homepage, and on videos and in search results about the pandemic.

"Updates to the panels will connect people directly to vaccine information from global and local health authorities," Google said.

"Because YouTube creators are a trusted voice within their communities, we're also supporting creators by connecting them with leading health experts to make helpful and engaging content for their audiences about Covid-19 and vaccines".

The company also announced as additional $15 million in Ad Grants to the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist their global campaign.

Google said that since the beginning of the pandemic, it has given $250 million in Ad Grants to help more than 100 government agencies around the world run critical public service announcements about Covid-19.

In April, the tech giant gave $6.5 million to support Covid-19 related fact-checking initiatives, which have provided training or resources to nearly 10,000 reporters around the world.

Now, the Google News Initiative (GNI) is providing an additional $1.5 million to fund the creation of a Covid-19 Vaccine Media Hub and support new fact-checking research.


Thu, 10 Dec 2020 16:42:00 +0530
Governor inaugurates Online Seminar on International Human Rights Day

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inaugurated an online Seminar on the theme  'Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights’ on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on Thursday (10th Dec). The Seminar was organized by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission.


Acting Chairman of the Commission M A Sayeed, Additional Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Gautam, ACS Revenue Nitin Karir, Police Commissioner of Pimpri Chinchwad Krishna Prakash, Vice-Chancellor of Maharashtra National Law University Dr Dilip Ukey, TISS Law Faculty Dean Arvind Tiwari and Vice President of International Justice Mission Sanjay Macwan were present.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 16:38:57 +0530
J K DDC 5th phase polls 43 27 polling in 6 hours

Jammu, The fifth phase of the District Development Council (DDC)elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday recorded a voter percentage of 43.27 across different constituencies spread over several districts till 1 p.m.

Kashmir Division recorded an overall polling percentage of 27.33 and Jammu Division recorded 57.25 in six hours.

Bandipora in Kashmir registered the highest 49.78 per cent polling, and Jammu Division's Rajouri with 64.54 per cent was witnessing enthusiastic participation. Shopian in Kashmir had the least polling with 3.74 per cent till 1 p.m.

As per the figures given by the office of State Election Commissioner, in Kashmir Division, Pulwama recorded 7.20 per cent, Baramulla 37.84 per cent, Kulgam 23.31 per cent, Anantnag 18.12 per cent, Ganderbal 28.91 per cent, Kupwara 37.38 per cent and Budgam 40.21 per cent.

Similarly, in Jammu division, Kishtwar recorded 58.96 per cent polling, Udhampur 55.74 per cent, Jammu 52.61 per cent, Kathua 53.97 per cent, Ramban 57.36 per cent, Doda 59.72 per cent, Samba 57.47 per cent, Poonch 59.10 per cent, and Reasi 56.82 per cent.

In the fifth phase of the DDC elections, voting is being held in 37 DDC constituencies, 17 from Kashmir Division and 20 from Jammu Division.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 16:09:25 +0530
World Bank approves 300m loan for Pak

Islamabad, The World Bank has approved a $300 million loan to help Pakistan address climate change issues, health emergency and manage solid waste to reduce chances of flooding in Karachi, the media reported on Thursday.

The Washington-based lender approved $200 million for the Sindh Resilience project and $100 million for the Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency project, The Express Tribune quoted an official statement issued by the bank's local office as saying.

These investments will bolster Pakistan's efforts to build resilience to natural hazards such as floods and droughts in the Sindh province and will strengthen solid waste management in Karachi to tackle recurrent urban flooding and public health emergencies in the city, it added.

"Building resilience to natural disasters and health emergencies is an important and urgent agenda in Pakistan, that will help save lives and protect the economy," said World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine.

"The establishment of Sindh Emergency Service will greatly enhance the government's responsiveness to natural disasters and emergencies, particularly in a megacity like Karachi where many lives are lost due to insufficient emergency medical services," said Ahsan Tehsin, task team leader for the Sindh Resilience project.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 14:30:45 +0530
Indian American Raja Chari picked by NASA for Artemis Moon missions

Washington, NASA has selected an initial team of 18 astronauts, including Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari, to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next lunar missions, including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024.

Vice President of the US Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team on Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

"I give you the heroes who will carry us to the Moon and beyond -- the Artemis Generation," said Vice President Mike Pence.

"It is amazing to think that the next man and first woman on the Moon are among the names that we just read. The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration -- and that future is bright."

The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience.

The agency's modern lunar exploration programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.

NASA said it will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, pulling from the Artemis Team.

The US space agency said that additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts, will join this group, as needed.

Chari joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A colonel in the US Air Force, he was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

He received a bachelor's degree in astronautical engineering and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics.

The US Naval Test Pilot School graduate worked on F-15E upgrades and then the F-35 development programme, before coming to NASA.

His father Sreenivas V. Chari immigrated from Hyderabad.

"We are incredibly grateful for the president and vice president's support of the Artemis programme, as well as the bipartisan support for all of NASA's science, aeronautics research, technology development, and human exploration goals," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"As a result, we're excited to share this next step in exploration -- naming the Artemis Team of astronauts who will lead the way, which includes the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface."

The astronauts of the Artemis Team will help NASA prepare for the coming Artemis missions, which begin next year working with the agency's commercial partners as they develop human landing systems; assisting in the development of training; defining hardware requirements; and consulting on technical development.

"There is so much exciting work ahead of us as we return to the moon, and it will take the entire astronaut corps to make that happen," Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester said.

"Walking on the lunar surface would be a dream come true for any one of us, and any part we can play in making that happen is an honour."

The Artemis Team members also include Joseph Acaba, Kayla Barron, Matthew Dominick, Victor Glover, Warren Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Christina Hammock Koch, Kjell Lindgren, Nicole A. Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kate Rubins, Frank Rubio, Scott Tingle, Jessica Watkins and Stephanie Wilson.


Thu, 10 Dec 2020 13:34:41 +0530
Farmers protest on Delhi borders continues for 15th day

New Delhi, The agitation by farmers camping on the Delhi borders since November 26 to demand repeal of the new agricultural laws continued for the 15th day on Thursday, with peasant leaders adamant on intensifying the protests further.

After rejecting the central government's proposal to amend the new laws, the parleys of farmer leaders with the Centre seem derailed at the moment and no new initiative is forthcoming in this direction.

Farmer leaders sitting on a dharna on the Singhu border on the Delhi-Ambala route said that their protest will last until the Centre withdrew all three agricultural laws.

Farmer leader Gurvinder Singh Kum Kalan, associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), told IANS: "Our movement will continue till the government withdraws the new laws. Our leaders have announced the closure of all major roads and highways towards Delhi and a protest demonstration across the country on December 14."

Farmer leaders have also announced closure of the Jaipur-Delhi and Delhi-Agra Expressways by Saturday.

Bharatiya Kisan Union Haryana unit chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said: "There is nothing new in the written proposals sent by the government on Wednesday. It shows that the government is adamant on its stand. Therefore, those proposals have been unanimously rejected."

He said: "After all this, the road to negotiations with the government has been closed. If any new proposals come, then the talks will restart."

After rejecting the government proposals on Wednesday, the farmer leaders decided to intensify the protests further. They have given a call for making the roads toll-free across the country on December 12. Apart from this, an appeal has been made to stage protests at the district headquarters across India on December 14. Farmer leaders have also appealed to the people to stop use of Jio SIMs and services.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. They also want a guarantee to procure all crops at the minimum support price (MSP).

In addition to this, the demands also include abolition of provisions for stricter penalties and fines in the ordinance related to stubble-burning and withdrawal of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill.

The Centre and the protesting farmers have so far held five rounds of talks and the sixth round scheduled in Delhi for December 9 was cancelled. A meeting of a delegation of farmer leaders with Union Home Minister Amit Shah remained inconclusive on December 8.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 13:12:16 +0530
Neymar s hat trick helps PSG thrash Basaksehir

Paris, Brazilian star Neymar struck a hat-trick and his partner Kylian Mbappe added two to help Paris Saint-Germain finish top in Champions League Group H after an overwhelming 5-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir at Parc des Princes in their latest encounter.

The match, which started on Tuesday, had been halted after 14 minutes when both sides walked off amid alleged racist abuse from fourth official Sebastian Coltescu to Basaksehir coach Pierre Webo, reports Xinhua news agency.

Players from both sides took a knee around the centre circle before the restart on Wednesday. Webo, who was shown a red card on Tuesday, was allowed to take his place on the away bench as his red card was suspended while UEFA is investigating the incident.

"We are tired, we don't want to go through this again," said Mbappe, who overtook Barcelona's Lionel Messi to become the youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals after a brace in the match.

"Of course, I am proud of what was done. We were not disappointed not to play. We made that decision. We were proud," the French international added. "A lot of things were said but, in fact, there's nothing better than actions."

Neymar opened the scoring for the Ligue 1 champions by beating Carlos Ponck and curling home, before doubling the lead in a sensational counter-attack involving Rafinha and Mbappe.

The Brazilian striker could have finished his hat-trick in the first half, but let Mbappe take a 42nd-minute penalty to end his a year-long wait for a Champions League goal.

The Brazilian didn't wait too long for his third, firing from 20 yards five minutes into the second half. Mehmet Topal scored for Basaksehir seven minutes later before Mbappe sealed a comfortable win for PSG 5-1 in the 62nd minute.

Neymar also set a record in the match to become the first player to complete 20 goals for two clubs in the history of the tournament, a feat that neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo have achieved.


Thu, 10 Dec 2020 13:03:06 +0530
Swiggy to onboard 36K street vendors under PM SVANidhi scheme

New Delhi,  Online food delivery platform Swiggy on Thursday announced the expansion of its Street Food Vendors programme that will benefit 36,000 people in 125 tier 2 and 3 cities in the first phase.

In partnership with the Prime Minister Street Vendor's AtmaNibhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme, Swiggy has created a team to explore and identify popular street vendors on the platform.

The company has also created a special destination on the app where consumers can discover their favourite street food vendors.

At the time of onboarding, Swiggy said it will ensure all vendors are registered with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and will facilitate a Food Safety Training and Certification (FOSTAC) in partnership with FSSAI and their empanelled partners.

The SVANidhi Scheme has received loan applications from 1.47 lakh street food vendors to date and Swiggy will onboard 36,000 vendors in the first phase, the company said in a statement.

"As a platform committed to bringing the widest choice of food to the doorsteps of consumers safely and hygienically, we're delighted to bring them their favourite street food which they have been missing for many months now," said Vivek Sunder, COO, Swiggy.

The online food delivery platform had a successful pilot earlier, initiated with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Chennai, Delhi and Indore, through which Swiggy onboarded over 300 street vendors on its platform.

According to Swiggy, all PM SVANidhi Scheme street food vendors must undergo a three-stage training programme before being onboarded.

"After the training and registration, all vendors are required to do a self-audit and demonstrate the standards they abide by," modelled on the lines of FSSAI's guidelines to ensure that essential hygienic practices are observed.

Swiggy said it conducts virtual one-on-one training and takes the street vendors through the process of accepting, preparing, and fulfilling orders on the platform without compromising on consumer experience.

By updating the app, customers in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Indore and Varanasi can now find "Street Vendor" under the restaurant category.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 12:55:50 +0530
True Blood reboot in the works

Los Angeles, The classic True Blood is set to get a reboot, and the project is already in early development stages.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Jami O'Brien will pen the script and executive produce for HBO. The original series creator and showrunner Alan Ball will also executive produce, reports

So far, none of the show's original cast has been confirmed to return in the reboot.

The show is based on "The Southern Vampire Mysteries" novel series by Charlaine Harris. It debuted on HBO in 2008 and ran for seven seasons until 2014.

Ball was showrunner on five of the seven seasons. The series took place in a world where vampires live among humans, thanks to the creation of a synthetic blood substitute that allowed vampires to stop hunting humans for food. It was infused with a lot of fantastical elements, including werewolves and witches.

The original show starred Anna Paquin, Alexander Skarsgard, Joe Manganiello, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, and Rutina Wesley.

Aguirre-Sacasa is best known for developing "Riverdale" for television. His other credits include "Chilling Adventure of Sabrina", "Katy Keene" "Supergirl" and "Glee". He is also currently working on the supernatural drama "The Shelley Society".

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 12:52:59 +0530
Sony buys anime streaming service Crunchyroll for 1 17bn

San Francisco,  Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced to buy anime streaming service Crunchyroll from US telecom giant AT&T for $1.175 billion.

Crunchyroll is a premier anime direct-to-consumer service within AT&T's WarnerMedia segment with more than 3 million SVOD (subscription video on demand) subscribers and growing.

It serves 90 million registered users across more than 200 countries and territories offering AVOD (ad-based video on demand), mobile games, manga, events merchandise and distribution.

Crunchyroll will become part of Sony's Funimation, which already licenses several popular shows such as Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and One Piece, the two companies said in a statement late on Wednesday.

"By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people," said Tony Goncalves, Chief Revenue Officer, WarnerMedia.

The combination of Crunchyroll and Funimation provides the opportunity to broaden distribution for their content partners and expand fan-centric offerings for consumers.

"We are proud to bring Crunchyroll into the Sony family," said Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"Through Funimation and our terrific partners at Aniplex and Sony Music Entertainment Japan, we have a deep understanding of this global artform and are well-positioned to deliver outstanding content to audiences around the world".

Funimation's streaming services offer a growing catalog of over 700 anime series and more than 13,000 hours of content available on 15 platforms and in 49 countries.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.


Thu, 10 Dec 2020 12:39:54 +0530
Weather to improve in J K Ladakh

Srinagar,  Night temperatures improved further in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Thursday due to a cloud cover as the weather office forecast another spell of snow and rain starting Saturday.

"Weather is likely to improve from today afternoon, but we are expecting another spell of snow/rain on December 12. The system is likely to be less intense then though," an official of the MET department said.

Srinagar recorded 3.3, Pahalgam 0.1 and Gulmarg minus 3.4 as the minimum temperatures while Leh town of Ladakh recorded minus 2.5 and Kargil minus 4.8 degrees Celsius.

Jammu city recorded 10.4, Katra 8.7, Batote 4.5, Bannihal 3.0 and Bhaderwah 2.5 degrees Celsius.

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 10:51:11 +0530
Britons with serious allergies warned against Covid 19 vaccine

London, The UK's medical regulator has advised that anyone who has a history of significant allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine currently in use in the country, according to media reports.

Wednesday's precautionary advice by the country's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) came a day after two National Health Service staff members experienced allergic reactions after being vaccinated, Xinhua news agency quoted a Sky News report as saying.

The MHRA's advisory said that any person with a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food, such as previous history of anaphylactoid reaction, or those who have been advised to carry an adrenaline autoinjector, should not receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, CNN reported.

It added that vaccines "should only be carried out in facilities where resuscitation measures are available".

"We are fully investigating the two reports that have been reported to us as a matter of priority," an MHRA spokesperson said.

"Once all the information has been reviewed we will communicate updated advice."

Meanwhile, Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, said in a statement on Wednesday: "As is common with new vaccines the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday.

"Both are recovering well," Powis added

The Covid-19 vaccine, developed jointly by German company BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer, has been given approval for use by the UK.

Vaccination started on Tuesday.

Reacting to the development, Pfizer that it had been advised by the UK regulator of "two yellow card reports that may be associated with allergic reaction" due to administration of the vaccine, adding that it was "supporting the MHRA in the investigation".

Thu, 10 Dec 2020 10:14:16 +0530
Rahul breaks into top 3 of T20I rankings Kohli moves to no 8

Sydney, India batsman KL Rahul has entered the top three of the ICC T20I rankings for batsmen while skipper Virat Kohli has also moved up by a spot following the conclusion of the three-match series against Australia which the Men in Blue won 2-1.

Rahul, who scored a fifty in the first T20I at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, has displaced Australia limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch at the number three spot. In the next two matches against the Aussies, Rahul returned with scores of 30 and 0.

Kohli, who scored brilliant 85 in the final T20I at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) which Australia won by 12 runs to avoid a series whitewash, has gained one spot to be at the number eight spot.

England's Dawid Malan continues to be at the number one spot after scoring 173 runs against South Africa in the three-match T20I series which the Eoin Morgan-led side won 3-0. Malan has a 44-point lead over Pakistan's Babar Azam, whom he overtook to become number one in September this year.

Among the bowlers, Afghanistan's Rashid Khan sit at the top of the rankings and is followed by his teammate Mujeeb ur Rahman. England leg-sinner Adil Rashid gained a spot to jump to the third spot. There's no Indian in the top 10 T20I bowlers.

In the all-rounders' list, Mohammad Nabi is at the numero uno spot and is followed by Shakib-al-Hasan and Glenn Maxwell.

Wed, 09 Dec 2020 17:33:21 +0530
Cisco unveils revamped Webex experience to take on Zoom

New Delhi, Cisco on Wednesday announced addition of new features such as noise cancellation and speech enhancement to its video conferencing solution Webex.

The development comes at a time when collaborations tools have gained unprecedented popularity this year due to the pandemic, allowing meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet add a large number of new users in a very short span of time.

Cisco also added other features such as transcriptions and closed captioning and enhanced video layouts and Webex Huddle -- spontaneous meetings with a single click – to its video conferencing solution.

The revamped Webex experience is aimed at improving the work-from-home experience and help organisations collaborate seamlessly with customers.

The new features were unveiled at WebexOne, Cisco's digital collaboration conference being held from December 9-10.

"We are driven to deliver a Webex experience that is 10x better than in-person—and at the same time make in-person interactions 10x better too," said Jeetu Patel, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Security and Applications, Cisco.

"Webex enables a shift towards hybrid working and less reliance on geography-based hiring, opening the global economy and giving everyone a seat at the table -- no matter where the table is."

The announcement of the latest innovations comes as companies across the globe are preparing for a "hybrid" future of work -- where employees move between office-based and remote working with greater frequency -- in a post-pandemic world.

The new Webex provides a single secure place for connecting and getting things done -- call, meet and message on one app, Cisco said.

A number of Artificial Intelligence-powered features in messaging and new calling features are designed to help customers focus on what matters most and new analytics features are designed to deliver highly personalised insights and actionable recommendations to individuals, teams, and organisations.

Cisco also announced real-time translations in nine different languages, in-meeting gestures powered by body movement recognition, and immersive sharing capabilities.

These features will be available in the coming months, said Cisco which also unveiled a range of new Webex devices such as Webex Desk Camera packed with intelligent features like facial recognition and occupancy metrics. It allows users to mute and unmute their microphone with a simple gesture.

Two other such devices introduced on Wednesday are Webex Desk Hub and Webex Desk.

All the three new Webex devices are designed to empower the remote worker and enable a safe return to office, Cisco said.


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 17:26:12 +0530
Nick Jonas to feature in cameo in Priyanka s Text For You

London, Pop star Nick Jonas will be seen alongside his wife, actress Priyanka Chopra, in a cameo role in her upcoming Hollywood romantic drama, Text For You.

The news spread after Nick was spotted shooting a scene in a cab along with Priyanka in London, reports

The pair are thought to be shooting a tense argument scene as Priyanka was overheard saying: "Get the f**k out of my cab" while in character. Nick was then seen opening the door of the cab and stepping out.

The actor was seen wearing a black jacket and matching trousers for the cameo while Priyanka was seen in a burgundy coat for the scene.

"Text For You" follows the life of a young woman as she grieves the loss of her fiance and decides to send romantic messages to his old phone number. In her attempt to send constant messages to her fiance's old number, she will connect with a man across town suffering from a similar heartbreak. Celine Dion's music aims at connecting the two and give them the courage to take a second shot at love.

Written and directed by Jim Strouse, the film is an English remake of the German-language film "SMS Fur Dich", based on Sofie Cramer's novel. The film also stars Sam Heughan.

Priyanka will next be seen in the film adaptation of "The White Tiger", which she has also executive produced, and "We Can Be Heroes", directed by Robert Rodriguez. She is currently developing an untitled comedy with Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor, and also working on Russo Brothers' "Citadel" and "The Matrix 4".


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 17:22:21 +0530
RBI report flagged ICICI loans to Videocon as imprudent decision by Chanda Kochhar ED


Mumbai, The scrutiny of the credit sanctions in the ICICI-Videocon loan case by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has highlighted these sanctions to Videocon Group between June 2009 and April 2012, when Chanda Kochhar was the bank's Managing Director and CEO, were an "imprudent decision" and a clear case of "conflict of interest on her part", as per the Enforcement Directorate charge sheet.

The 308 page charge sheet, filed by the financial probe agency in Special PMLA court here last month and witnessed by IANS, held that RBI official Malli Sudhakar, in a scrutiny report dated August 3, 2018 and in his statement to the agency on October 16 this year, revealed that there was "conflict of interest" on the part of Kochhar.

Sudhakar had cited "absence of transparency in excluding the charge of securities and releasing existing security of Videocon Group taken by as collateral by ICICI Bank and imprudent decision in sanctioning of proposal to Videocon Group by ICICI Bank, of which Chanda Kochhar was Chairperson of recommending committee and member of sanctioning committee, when she was MD and CEO of the bank".

The ED contended that the RBI official, in his statement, reiterated that it was an "imprudent decision" by the ICICI Bank to increase its exposure to Videocon Group by sanctioning fresh rupee term loan (RTL) of Rs 750 crore.

Sudhakar further cited the release of security or non-creation of charge by ICICI Bank on the assets of the group.

"The primary security cover available with ICICI Bank in regard to Videocon Group declined from the existing 2.67 times to 1.67 times," he said.

He also claimed that there was a "conflict of interest" on part of ICICI Bank, as advocates and solicitors for the RTL agreement between the bank and the Videocon under debt consolidation were Amarchand and Mangaldas and Suresh A. Shroff and Company.

He claimed that the same firm was also appointed as the legal firm by the board of the bank to investigate into the alleged quid pro quo arrangement between Chanda and Videocon group reflecting conflict of interest.

The ED claimed that even Justice B.N. Srikrishna (retd), who was appointed as Head of Enquiry by the bank to conduct an independent enquiry into allegations against the then CEO and MD in his report noticed that "violations were caused by Chanda Kochhhar due to her non-disclosure regarding dealing of non-arm length transactions carried out by her and her family with Credentials Finance Ltd (CFL), Videocon Group and others".

It said that the evidences stated by the RBI official and the Enquiry Committee revealed that Kochhar "deliberately did not disclose association of herself and her husband Deepak Kochhar with Videocon Group and its chief Venugopal Dhoot".

It further alleged that Chanda Kochhar did not "recuse" herself from the committees recommending or sanctioning the loan proposals of Vidocon Group and loan of Rs 300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) by a committee headed by her.

The ED alleged that the Rs 300 crore loan was sanctioned with a condition that Dhoot will take care of the interests of her husband.

"Out of Rs 300 crore, Rs 64 crore were diverted by VIL for non-mandated purpose and for the benefit of Deepak Kochhar as the amount was transferred to his company Nupower Renewables Private Ltd (NRPL)," the ED claimed.

The ED filed its first charge sheet in the ICICI-Videocon loan case in first week of November this year, naming the Kochhars, Dhoot and VIEL, Videocon Industries Ltd, NPRL and Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, among others.

Deepak Kochhar is currently in judicial custody after he was arrested by the ED.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in sanctioning six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore to Videocon Industries Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and four other companies associated with the Videocon group between June 2009 and October 2011.

Chanda Kochhar was on the sanctioning committee deciding two loans - Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics on August 26, 2009 and Rs 750 crore to Videocon Industries Limited on October 31, 2011.

The loans were issued in the alleged violation of the laid-down policy and regulations of the bank, sources said.

The term loan of Rs 300 crore sanctioned to VIEL was disbursed on September 7, 2009. The next day, Dhoot transferred Rs 64 crore to NuPower Renewables Ltd through Supreme Energy Private Ltd founded by him.


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 17:16:39 +0530
American Airlines offers at home Covid tests for US travel

New York, American Airlines is about to start offering at-home Covid-19 tests to domestic fliers in order to help them meet various state travel restriction requirements, the company said.

According to a report from The Verge, the airline is partnering with direct-to-consumer home testing company 'LetsGetChecked', which will sell the tests for $129 on top of the cost of travel.

The at-home tests help travellers check off one of the most common travel restrictions that states have implemented, which is a negative test result either before departure or upon arrival.

It will also help customers get reliable access to testing, which is still hit-or-miss in many parts of the US.

American Airlines and LetsGetChecked are advising customers to make sure they know what's required of them when they land.

American Airlines previously offered at-home tests for travellers heading to international destinations with restrictions, like the UK, Belize, and Chile.

LetsGetChecked's test kits use a nasal swab, so customers will have to take a sample at home and send back through the mail (using UPS) to be run through a Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, test.

American Airlines is the first to offer access to at-home testing for domestic flights, the report said.


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 17:06:46 +0530
Department of Integrative Medicine to come up at Delhi AIIMS

New Delhi, The Union Ministry of AYUSH and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences have decided to initiate work on setting up a Department of Integrative Medicine at the premier institute in Delhi, the ministry said on Wednesday.

This was decided in a joint visit and review by Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary of AYUSH and Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS of the Centre for Integrative Medicine and Research (CIMR).

The cutting-edge research activities being held by the CIMR in the Yoga and Ayurveda disciplines were reviewed and the research outcomes were seen to be impressive.

The Ministry of AYUSH and AIIMS have decided to extend the duration of the research collaboration at the CIMR and also to extend the scope of collaborative activities.

"Considering the research work, other activities and accomplishments of the CIMR, it was felt that the setting up of dedicated OPD and IPD beds for CIMR could be the next steps in the growth and development of CIMR," the ministry said in a statement.

Both Secretary AYUSH and Director AIIMS agreed that considering the increased interest of patients at AIIMS in the CIMR and the growing body of research work of the Centre, it could be feasible to further develop it into a standalone Department for Integrative Medicine at the AIIMS in the short-term future.

This may be developed with dedicated faculty and staff to make it into a permanent Department at the AIIMS.

Secretary AYUSH assured that the Ministry of AYUSH will strive to continue its support to CIMR till the dedicated Department is developed. The notable research outcomes of CIMR and the encouraging results of the new initiatives in Covid-19 research through integrative research point towards an integrative approach being the need of the hour and towards the significant public health benefits it can lead to.

It was decided that the CIMR and the AIIMS may develop an integrated protocol with Ayurveda and Yoga for study on post-Covid treatment. The Ministry of AYUSH could collaborate in the same way through the Extra Mural Research Scheme.

The progress in establishing the Integrated AYUSH cancer care facilities at the National Cancer Institute at Jhajjar, Haryana was also reviewed. It was decided to follow it up and expedite the process for early establishment and functioning of the center.

Wed, 09 Dec 2020 16:54:57 +0530
Department of Integrative Medicine to come up at Delhi AIIMS

New Delhi, The Union Ministry of AYUSH and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences have decided to initiate work on setting up a Department of Integrative Medicine at the premier institute in Delhi, the ministry said on Wednesday.

This was decided in a joint visit and review by Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary of AYUSH and Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS of the Centre for Integrative Medicine and Research (CIMR).

The cutting-edge research activities being held by the CIMR in the Yoga and Ayurveda disciplines were reviewed and the research outcomes were seen to be impressive.

The Ministry of AYUSH and AIIMS have decided to extend the duration of the research collaboration at the CIMR and also to extend the scope of collaborative activities.

"Considering the research work, other activities and accomplishments of the CIMR, it was felt that the setting up of dedicated OPD and IPD beds for CIMR could be the next steps in the growth and development of CIMR," the ministry said in a statement.

Both Secretary AYUSH and Director AIIMS agreed that considering the increased interest of patients at AIIMS in the CIMR and the growing body of research work of the Centre, it could be feasible to further develop it into a standalone Department for Integrative Medicine at the AIIMS in the short-term future.

This may be developed with dedicated faculty and staff to make it into a permanent Department at the AIIMS.

Secretary AYUSH assured that the Ministry of AYUSH will strive to continue its support to CIMR till the dedicated Department is developed. The notable research outcomes of CIMR and the encouraging results of the new initiatives in Covid-19 research through integrative research point towards an integrative approach being the need of the hour and towards the significant public health benefits it can lead to.

It was decided that the CIMR and the AIIMS may develop an integrated protocol with Ayurveda and Yoga for study on post-Covid treatment. The Ministry of AYUSH could collaborate in the same way through the Extra Mural Research Scheme.

The progress in establishing the Integrated AYUSH cancer care facilities at the National Cancer Institute at Jhajjar, Haryana was also reviewed. It was decided to follow it up and expedite the process for early establishment and functioning of the center.

Wed, 09 Dec 2020 16:54:51 +0530
Govt agrees to key farmers demands amendments in MSP APMC

New Delhi, The Central government on Wednesday agreed to farmers' demands giving its nod on key issues raised by them, including amendments in the three contentious farms laws that were the first and biggest issue driving the ongoing farmers' protest.

The government communicated its stand through a written draft proposal to the farmers in which it agreed to two main amendments regarding the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) but rejected their demand to repeal three farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament-- a move to break the impasse which has been going on for the last 14 days on the national capital's borders with thousands of farmers sitting on roads crippling the supply chain.

In the proposal, the Centre has agreed to a written Minimum Support Price (MSP) assurance and uniform tax for private market yard and APMC -- a marketing board established by state governments to ensure that farmers are safeguarded from exploitation by large retailers, as well as ensuring the farm to retail price does not touch excessively high levels.

There will be a provision for registration for private traders dealing in trade, the proposal says.

On the issue of scrapping farm laws, the government said it is ready to consider the provisions of the laws on which the farmers have raised objections.

On the issue regarding registration of traders, the government has given assurance to frame new rules under which state governments will be given powers to come up with new rules for the welfare of farmers.

Clearing the apprehension among farmers that their fields will be attached, the government ensured not to take any such action. The government's proposal clarified that the provisions in the new laws are very clear and it will release them and publicise them in a clearer manner if there is any confusion on the issue.

The government cleared the misconception on the APMC Act that farmers will be caught in the clutches of private mandis and mandis' established by mandi samiti will weaken. The government proposed an amendment in which there will be a provision that state governments can impose the registration rule for private mandis. There will also be a provision that the state governments ensure similar rate of "cess fee" in private as well as APMC mandis.

On the issue that big industrialists will take over farmers' land and the farmer will be landless, the government's proposal said it is already clear in the new law that neither can any loan be availed by the buyer on the structure to be built on the farmer's land nor such can such as structure be held hostage by him.

On the issue that there is no system of registration on agricultural contracts, the government said if the trader is not registered, he has to file a copy within 30 days regarding the deal with the farmers.

The government also said that those approaching the civil courts would now be allowed. Earlier, farmers had sought a rollback of this law.

On the Electricity Amendment Act 2020, the government has assured that the Act would not be implemented and the earlier process would be maintained as status quo.

On the farmers demand' to take back the law on stubble burning, the government said it will come up with a proper arrangement on the subject.

The proposal was sent to the farmers after their meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah last night remained inconclusive. Five rounds of government-farmer talks held so far have also been inconclusive due to both sides staying adamant on their issues.


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 16:50:15 +0530
test iantz

test iantz

Wed, 09 Dec 2020 14:03:18 +0530


Wed, 09 Dec 2020 13:55:43 +0530
Flipkart announces PhonePe spin off to retain majority stake

Bengaluru, E-commerce marketplace Flipkart on Thursday announced a partial spin-off of digital payments platform PhonePe in a bid to help it access dedicated, long-term capital to fund its growth ambitions over the next three to four years.

Flipkart said that PhonePe is raising $700 million in primary capital at a post-money valuation of $5.5 billion from existing Flipkart investors led by Walmart.

The e-commerce marketplace will remain PhonePe's majority shareholder.

"This partial spin-off gives PhonePe access to dedicated long-term capital to pursue our vision of providing financial inclusion to a billion Indians," Sameer Nigam, Founder and CEO at PhonePe, said in a statement.

The partial spin-off also provides PhonePe an opportunity to constitute a new Board of Directors focused on supporting its development, and to create a tailor-made equity incentive or ESOP programme for its employees.

"As Flipkart Commerce continues to grow strongly serving the needs of Indian customers, we are excited at the future prospects of the group," said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart Group.

"This move will help PhonePe maximize its potential as it moves to the next phase of its development, and it will also maximize value creation for Flipkart and our shareholders."

PhonePe, which competes against other digital payments platforms such as Google Pay and Paytm, has crossed 250 million registered user milestone, with over 100 million monthly active users (MAU) generating nearly one billion digital payment transactions in October 2020, the company said.


Thu, 03 Dec 2020 14:40:17 +0530
AirPods Watches help Apple lead global wearable market in Q3

New Delhi, Apple led the global wearable market with 33.1 per cent share during the third quarter and AirPods along with Apple Watches were hugely popular due to pandemic-driven demand, a new IDC report has said.

Xiaomi followed in second place with 17 million units shipped, 12.8 million of which were basic wristbands. Huawei ranked third with unit shipments at 13.7 million.

Overall, the global wearables market grew 35.1 per cent (on-year) with total shipments reaching 125 million units, according to new data from the International Data Corporation's (IDC) WorldWide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

The surge was driven by seasonality, new product launches and the global pandemic.

"Many countries began easing restrictions and opening up their economies during the third quarter, which helped bolster outdoor activity as well as demand for wearables," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"Meanwhile, a broader range of price points from numerous vendors meant that there was something for everyone."

New products from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and others helped renew interest in popular categories such as smartwatches and hearables.

Meanwhile, consumer spend on electronics also increased during recent months as spending on travel, dining out, and other leisure activities decreased.

"The double-digit growth not only indicates strong demand, but also suggests that many people got a wearable device for the first time in both emerging and developed markets," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director, Mobile Devices and AR/VR.

Samsung's strategy to attack the earwear market with multiple brands continues to pay off as the company ranked fourth in the wearables market. Its hearable shipments reached 8.4 million during quarter along with 2.6 million smartwatches.

Fitbit and BoAt tied for fifth place, each holding 2.6 per cent of the wearables market.

"BoAt focuses solely on the Indian market (a rapidly growing market for wearables) and primarily sells hearables. Post-lockdown in India, the company has benefitted from to a strong marketing campaign and tie-ins with local cricket teams," the IDC report mentioned.


Thu, 03 Dec 2020 12:47:55 +0530
China s Chang e 5 completes sampling on moon


Beijing, China's Chang'e-5 probe has completed sampling on the moon, and the samples have been sealed inside the spacecraft, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Thursday.

Launched on November 24, the spacecraft landed on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on Tuesday, tasked with retrieving China's first samples from an extraterrestrial body, reports Xinhua news agency.

After the spacecraft worked for about 19 hours on the moon, the sampling ended at 10 p.m. on Wednesday (Beijing Time), and the samples were stowed in a container inside the ascender of the probe as planned, said CNSA.

By using data sent back by the probe, researchers simulated the sampling procedure in a lab, providing an important basis for the operation on the moon.

The lunar regolith penetrating radar and other payloads installed on the lander have carried out scientific exploration as planned and provided information support for sampling.

The probe has withstood temperatures of over 100 degrees Celsius on the lunar surface.

The probe has adopted two methods of moon sampling, including using drills to collect subsurface samples and grabbing samples on the surface with a robotic arm.

Diverse samples at different sites have been gathered.

The moon samples have been sealed inside the spacecraft to ensure that they are kept in a vacuum and free from the influence of the external environment during its return to the Earth.

The Chang'e-5 probe is equipped with multiple payloads including a landing camera, panorama camera, lunar regolith penetrating radar and lunar mineralogical spectrometer, which detects lunar surface topography and mineral composition, as well as the moon's shallow subsurface structure.

Before the sample drilling process, the lunar regolith penetrating radar analysed the subsurface structure in the sampling area, offering data reference for sampling.


Thu, 03 Dec 2020 12:34:54 +0530
Agitated farmers block highway leading to Delhi from UP

New Delhi,  Scores of agitated farmers on Thursday blocked the National Highway-9, leading to the closure of a key flyover which connects Uttar Pradesh to the national capital in a bid to show their resentment against the three farm laws.

The number of protesting farmers swelled on the flyover at Ghazipur, the city's border with Uttar Pradesh ahead of another round of talks between the government and the farmers.

Even though the farmers have blocked the flyover, a little space has been left for ambulances to pass by.

"We are hopeful that the blockade will end soon as it is a major route leading to Delhi. we are trying our best," Gayendra Singh, Superintendent of Police (City) Ghaziabad told IANS.

The police has also beefed up the security at the border, is conducting surveillance through drones, put up multi-layered barricades and has diverted the traffic from the highway to the interior of the area connecting the two borders, a police official said.

Meanwhile, the farmers sat on the highway leading to Delhi and raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking him to repeal the farm laws. Slogans of "Modi teri tana Shahi nahi chalegi (Dictatorship can't run)", "Jab jab modi darta hai, police ko aage karta hai (Whenever Modi gets scared, he sends the police)", "Jai jawan jai kisan", and "Kala kaanoon wapis lo (Take back the black law)" are being raised.

All eyes are now on the meeting of the farmer unions with the Centre. The talks between the Centre and agitating farmer unions on Tuesday failed to end the standoff over the new farm laws.

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last eight days at the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked the entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP Ghazipur border and the Delhi-UP Chilla border.


Thu, 03 Dec 2020 12:31:45 +0530
AWS CEO Andy Jassy offers 5 keys to unlock your Cloud journey

New Delhi,  In order to build the right innovation and reinvention culture, Andy Jassy who is the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) is offering five keys to help enterprises unlock digital transformation and begin their Cloud journey during the pandemic.

The first, according to him, is that you have to have the leadership will to invent and reinvent.

"People often say invention is inventing a new product or service and reinvention is reimagining an existing concept. But if you're going to reinvent and reimagine, there's a load of invention in there. Just look at what Airbnb has done in the hospitality space," Jassy said during the keynote that kicked off AWS re: Invent 2020 virtual conference on Tuesday.

The second key is to acknowledge that you can't fight gravity.

If you step back and have conviction that something is going to change because it's a better experience for customers, it is going to change no matter what.

"If you look at what Reed Hastings and Netflix did several years ago, where they cannibalise their own DVD rental business, because they saw where it was headed with streaming, I think that turned out to be a pretty good decision for them," Jassy mentioned.

According to him, the third key is that you got to make sure you have talent that's hungry to invent.

"You have to make sure that you've got builders who are curious about learning, who are excited about leaning forward and inventing and reinventing their customer experience," he said.

The fourth key is to have people who actually solve problems.

"If you look in the enterprise technology space, there are some players who are competitor-focused. They look at what their competitors are doing. They try to fast follow one up them," Jassy said during the digital keynote.

"Then you have a number of other providers who are product focused".

The fifth key is speed.

"Speed disproportionally matters at every stage of your business, and in every sized company," the AWS CEO noted.

One of the enemies of speed is complexity. "You have to make sure that you win over complexity," he added.

Jassy said that whether it is compute, storage, database, analytics, machine learning, IoT or robotics, "you get a lot more functionality natively on AWS than anywhere else".

"We have a much broader partner ecosystem than other players," he added.


Wed, 02 Dec 2020 13:36:44 +0530
MVA govt targets Rs 1 lakh cr investments for 2020 2021

Mumbai,  Despite the Covid pandemic and lockdown, the Maharashtra government has targeted investment proposals worth Rs 100,000 crore for the current fiscal to kickstart the state economy at full speed, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said here on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the Indian Merchants Chamber's "Mission Engage Maharashtra" to reboot, reform and resurge the state economy, Thackeray said that last year, the state had secured investments worth Rs 60,000 crore, which it aims to increase by another Rs 40,000 crore this year.

"Maharashtra is a business-friendly state for decades. Despite many states trying to move factories out of here to their own states, it isn't going to happen. That is because we don't merely believe in signing MoUs, but are also proactive about actually translating them into meaningful employment opportunities," he said.

Outlining the MVA's strategy to boost investments, among other things, he said that work on to grant a single-window clearance to all those who wish to set up industries in the state.

Industry Minister Subhash Desai said that Maharashtra is the engine for the country's growth and progress for which initiatives like the IMD's conclave are helpful.

"India grows when Maharashtra grows, Being one of the most important industrialised states in the country, the economic recovery of the nation at large depending on how Maharashtra bounces back," he said.

Desai said that all this can give the right signals to the investors, strengthen rural economies and galvanise MSMEs to give a fillip to the economy.

IMC President Rajiv Podar said the state is passing through its worst crisis and it was in such times that the private sector can play an important role to help the government rebuild capacity and resilience for future shocks.

"The (MVA) administration has given a resolute fight to the pandemic while maintaining a balance between life and livelihood. There is a need to Reboot-Reform-Resurge the economy for which we have made 'Mission Engage Maharashtra' as our special focus this year," he said.

In this, the 113-year old IMC's Expert Committees on various sectors would work closely with the state government on policies and programmes which can help achieve robust and sustainable all-round growth here, he added.

Wed, 02 Dec 2020 13:14:27 +0530
Biden s budget chief pick Tanden recounts rise from poverty to power

New York,  Neera Tanden, who has been named Joe Biden's budget chief, shares a common upbringing with Kamala Harris -- both were raised by single mothers, who came from India and through their determination saw their daughters rise to positions of power -- exceeding the American dream.

"Like the vice president-elect's mother, Shyamala, my mother, Maya, was born in India. Like so many millions, across every generation, she came to America to pursue a better life," Tanden said on Tuesday after Biden introduced her in Wilmington as his pick to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) when he becomes president next month.

The position is one of the most powerful, overseeing the crafting of the nearly $5 trillion budget, having responsibility for seeing to the management of several agencies and liaising with Congress.

But their stories diverge after their parents' divorces, Tanden's at age five and Harris's at seven.

Tanden fell from the middle class and what followed was a saga of her mother's determination and American generosity.

"I'm here today thanks to my mother's grit, but also thanks to a country that had faith in us, that invested in her humanity, and in our dreams," she said.

"My mom was left on her own with two children a" and without a job. She faced a choice -- return to India, where at the time divorce was stigmatised and opportunity would be limited -- or keep fighting for her American Dream. She stayed, and America came through for her when times were tough."

Tanden spoke candidly of their dependence on public programmes for the poor, food stamps a" the government vouchers for free food -- and Section 8 vouchers -- government rent subsidy.

"We relied on the social safety net to get back on our feet," she said.

Of her mother's struggle, she said, "This country gave her a fair shot to reach for the middle class and she made it work. She got a job as a travel agent, and before long, she was able to buy us our own home in Bedford, Massachusetts, and see her children off to college, and beyond."

"I'm here today because of social programs. Because of budgetary choices. Because of a government that saw my mother's dignity, and gave her a chance," she said and linked her experiences to her future work.

"Now, it's my honour to help shape those budgets and programmes to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink. To give everybody the fair chance my mother got, and that everyone deserves," she declared.

Harris's mother, Shyamala, was a medical researcher when her African Jamaican husband, Donald, left her and their two daughters, and was not in such dire straits as Tanden's mother.

A measure of the distance Tanden has travelled from the initial shock of poverty is in Biden's description of her as "a brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across government".

"She will be the first woman of colour and first South Asian American to lead the OMB. She will be in charge of laying out my budget that will help us control the virus, deal with the economic crisis, and build back better," he said while introducing her.

Biden, who will be president next month, called his picks for the economic jobs a "first-rate team that will get us through the on-going economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than before".

Many of them had served in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama like those he has selected for foreign affairs and national security jobs.

"This team is tested and experienced," he said.

Tanden had worked for former Bill Clinton's campaign and became an associate director for domestic policy at the White House and as an adviser to Hillary Clinton. In Obama's administration, she was a senior adviser to the Health and Human Services Department helping craft his affordable healthcare law and programme.

Like Tanden, whom Biden described as the first "South Asian American,a� rather than Indian American, to head the OMB, there are others who are also firsts.

Janet Yellen, who will be the first woman to become treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate, is a former chair of Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, by Obama.

Cecilia Elena Rouse will become the first African American to chair the CEA, of which she had been a member during Obama's tenure.

Tanden will face strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate when she comes up for confirmation because of the vicious insults she had piled on them in her twitter posts.

Republican Senator John Cornyn called her "radioactive" and said she was perhaps the "worst nominee so far".

Another, Tom Cotton tweeted that she was "filled with hate & guided by the woke left" and cited one of her tweets in which she said she loved Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being called "Moscow Mitch".

She had also claimed that Russians had hacked the election system in 2016 and and it led to transfer of 70,000 votes to Trump.

The Daily Beast reported that Tanden had deleted more than 1,000 tweets last month like one in which she asked people to "focus their ire" on McConnell and others of his party.


Wed, 02 Dec 2020 12:45:54 +0530
AWS becomes a game changer for artists on Netflix

New Delhi As video streaming turns out to be the saviour for millions of people working from homes to refresh their minds, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping artists create their content swiftly and seamlessly for Netflix, according to a company executive.

Netflix today is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with over 190 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.

"We have many artists and content creators who can benefit from bringing the on-premises infrastructure they use day-to-day to the Cloud. However, every second counts, especially when it comes to the time it takes to compile and render 3D models and animations," explained Nils Pommerien, Director, Cloud Infrastructure Engineering, Netflix.

"For some time, we have wanted to move these artists' workstations to AWS in order to take advantage of the performance, elasticity, and cost benefits of the cloud," he said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the AWS ‘re: Invent 2020' annual conference being held virtually.

Owing to the interactive nature of these applications, the artists need very low-latency access to their workstations to have a good working experience.

According to Pommerien, "AWS Local Zones, which bring cloud resources closer to the artists, have been a game-changer for these applications.

"By taking advantage of access to AWS's highly performant and cost-effective compute resources, we have been able to migrate portions of our content creation process to AWS Local Zones, while ensuring an even better experience for artists," Pommerien explained in a an AWS blog post.

On the first day of the annual conference, now in its ninth year, AWS announced several new Cloud computing innovations — five new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, two new AWS Outposts form factors, and three new AWS Local Zones locations that extend its lead in offering the broadest and deepest portfolio of compute offerings in the cloud.

AWS already has more compute instance types than any other cloud provider, with instances based on the fastest processors from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA and Arm-based instances.

AWS spans 77 Availability Zones within 24 geographic regions around the world, with announced plans for 15 more Availability Zones and five more AWS Regions in India, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.

"As customers bring more and more workloads to the cloud, AWS continues to expand the industry's leading compute portfolio to meet their increasingly diverse needs," said Dave Brown, Vice President, EC2, AWS.

"With the new EC2 instance types, AWS Outposts and AWS Local Zones options we're introducing today, we're providing customers with an unmatched breadth and depth of capabilities to help them innovate more cost-effectively, with the right compute for the right job."

Wed, 02 Dec 2020 12:30:49 +0530
Apple strengthens partnership with RED to combat AIDS COVID

San Francisco,  Apple on Tuesday said it is offering customers more ways to support non-profit organisation (RED)'s fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa while simultaneously protecting those communities from COVID-19.

The announcement comes on World AIDS Day which is observed to unite people across the world to fight the disease and to show support for people living with HIV.

Apple joined (RED)'s mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in 2006.

Over the last 14 years, Apple's partnership with (RED) has led to almost $250 million in donations for the global fund's HIV/AIDS programmes that offer prevention, testing, and counselling services.

Since 2006, Apple-supported grants have provided over 10.8 million people with care and support services, helped with distribution of more than 167 million HIV tests, and provided 13.8 million people with ongoing access to life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

This year, communities around the world are grappling with HIV/AIDS as they also work to respond and protect against COVID-19, particularly for vulnerable populations.

The pandemic has created challenges in accessing care, diagnostics, and supplies, often disrupting crucial HIV/AIDS programmes.

To alleviate these challenges, Apple's contributions were redirected to the global fund's COVID-19 Response at the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.

Apple has a wide range of new (PRODUCT)RED devices and accessories available this holiday season.

The iPhone maker said it will direct 100 per cent of eligible proceeds from (PRODUCT)RED purchases to the global fund's COVID-19 Response through June 30, 2021.

Through December 7, Apple is donating $1 for every purchase made with Apple Pay on, in the Apple Store app, or at an Apple Store to the global fund's COVID-19 Response.


Tue, 01 Dec 2020 18:03:12 +0530
Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump

Washington,  Scott Atlas, US President Donald Trump's controversial adviser to the coronavirus pandemic, has resigned after serving for four months, media reports said on Tuesday.

In a report, The Hill news quoted a White House official as saying on Monday that Atlas, a radiologist and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, had joined the administration in August as a special government employee, meaning he was eligible to serve a 130-day detail.

His tenure was slated to expire this week, but he filed his resignation, effective Tuesday, the official added

In his resignation letter dated Monday, Atlas said that he had "always relied on the latest science and evidence without any political consideration or influence".

"I worked hard with a singular focus—to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic.

"As time went on, like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesized the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater public good.

"But, perhaps more than anything, my advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor," he added in the letter.

According to The Hill news report, Atlas attacted controversy "for his influence over the President's thinking on the pandemic", while many members of the White House coronavirus task force raised concerns about the adviser or openly disputed his views.

While Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious diseases expert, said earlier this month that he "totally" disagreed with Atlas's views, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Deborah Birx confronted Vice President Pence about Atlas's increasing influence, the report added.

Besides repeatedly clashing with other members of the coronavirus task force during his four-month Tenure, Atlas also questioned the need for masks and other measures to control the pandemic, the BBC reported.

He sparked further controversy last month when he tweeted "people rise up" in response to new restrictions imposed in Michigan.

After Atlas' resignation, Fauci told the BBC that the current situation in the US was worse than at any time since the start of the outbreak.

"The slope of our curve is very steep so that every day it seems we almost break a new record," he said.

On Tuesday, the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering revealed that the country's overall caseload and death toll stood at 13,536,216 and 267,987, respectively.

The two tallies are the highest in the world.

Tue, 01 Dec 2020 17:57:12 +0530
Rlys got environmental clearances for Mumbai Ahmedabad Bullet train

New Delhi, The Indian Railways has got all the requisite wildlife, forestry and coastal regulation zone clearances in Gujarat and Maharashtra for the 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail Corridor, officials said on Tuesday.

Addressing a virtual press conference here, Railway Board Chairman and CEO, V.K. Yadav said, "Requisite Wildlife, Forestry and Coastal Regulation Zone clearances in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra have been obtained."

He said that out of 1,651 utilities, 1,070 have been shifted for the High Speed Train Corridor.

Yadav further said that railways have got 67 per cent of the land required for the Bullet train project. Giving the break up of land acquired in Gujarat, he said, 825 hectare out of 956 hectare have been acquired, which is 86 per cent.

While in Maharashtra, the 97 hectare out of the 432 hectare of land has been acquired, which is only 22 per cent of the total land required and seven hectare out of eight hectare land has been acquired in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Yadav said.

Yadav further said that railways has floated the tenders worth Rs 32,000 crore in Gujarat for the ambitious project covering 325 km length of viaduct and five stations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then Japan's Premier Shinzo Abe had on September 14, 2017 laid the foundation stone for the ambitious Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) project.

The initial deadline to complete the ambitious project was December 2023. The bullet trains are expected to run at 350 km per hour covering the 508-km stretch in about two hours. In comparison, trains currently plying on the route take over seven hours to travel the distance, whereas flights take about an hour.

Commenting on the progress of the Dedicated Freight Corridor, Yadav said that by June 2022 the DFC will be complete.

The DFC is one of the largest rail infrastructure projects undertaken by the government. The overall cost is pegged at Rs 81,459 crore. DFCCIL has been set up as a special purpose vehicle to undertake planning, development, mobilisation of financial resources, construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.

In the first phase, the organisation is constructing the Western DFC (1,504 route km) and Eastern DFC (1,856 route km) spanning a total length of 3,360 route km.

Yadav said that in the EDFC the 353 km long Khurja-Bhaupur section is readuy for commissioning while 48 km-long Khurja-Dadri section will be ready by June 2021, 401 km-long Ludhiana-Khurja section and 402 km-long Bhaupur-Deen Dayal Upadhyay section will be ready by June 2022 and 137 km long Deen Dayal Upadhyay-Sonnagar section will be ready by December 2021.

He said on the WDFC, the 306 km-long Rewari-Madar section is ready for commissioning while 335 km-long Madar-Palanpur section will be ready by March 2021, 122 km-long Rewari-Dadri by December 2021 and 738 km-long Palanpur-Makarpura-JNPT section by June 2022.

Tue, 01 Dec 2020 17:52:48 +0530
Stubble now keeping protesting farmers warm

Sonipat (Haryana),  Stubble is now literally providing warmth without burning to thousands of protesting farmers of Punjab and Haryana, who have been spending chilly nights for the past six days after travelling hundreds of miles to mark their planned protest at the borders of the national capital against new farm laws.

This is one use of stubble that none of the agricultural and climate experts looking into the blazing issue of its burning ever thought of.

Blamed for polluting Delhi air every year with the onset of winter, the stubble is now being used for keeping themselves warm.

Beddings in every tractor-trailer have layers of the stubble spread on the bottom.

"We have been making use of 'parali' (paddy straw) in our households for decades as it is a good insulator," remarked Ajaib Singh, who farms a small plot of land in Punjab's Ferozepur district, while pointing towards a neatly piled up straw.

He said even the stubble could be used to get protection from the cold and the hot floor.

Currently, thousands of farmers are camping at Singhu and Tikri borders, both on the Haryana side, after rejecting Centre's offer to move to Burari in Delhi.

Every year the problem of pollution caused by burning of straws in the agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana is so severe that satellite images show fires across millions of hectares.

Another farmer Nachattar Singh, 75, said: "Even we are using stubble in day-to-day activities in our homes and at religious places in the village. Each farmer is storing a small portion of the straw after the paddy harvesting for its personal use during the winter."

His wife Jagir Kaur said earlier it was used for constructing houses. "Now villagers are constructing concrete structures. In the mud structures, the use of the straw was optimum."

She said the straw is now a huge problem for them because of mechanised agriculture.

A combine harvester leaves a significant length of straw on the field. The standing crop residues of rice are burnt for wheat sowing, Kaur, a septuagenarian farmer from Dhudike village in Moga district, explained.

She added with the increasing labour cost the farmers prefer setting fire to their paddy fields after the harvesting.

Farmers at the camping sites of Singhu and Tikri blame their respective state governments for lack of arrangement for ex-situ management of the stubble.

"There are fewer options for ex-situ management of paddy stubble. Even the government has not been successful in managing stubble by way of in-situ management. This resulted in huge stubble going to the flames," Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a farmer from Haryana's Karnal district, told IANS.

He said the government should invest hugely to make its optimum in terms of manure and raw material for various industries.

Even the protesting farmers have taken the cheapest route by converting their trailers into cosy 'bedrooms' by using the agro-waste.

Sixty-year-old Dalbir Kaur, another protester from Punjab where more than 70 per cent of the population depends on agriculture, said for the last six days they were sleeping in a trailer.

"We have stuffed stubble between the two sheets of tarpaulin that is used to make makeshift shelters on our tractor-trailer. The stubble helps protect from the cold besides working as mattresses," she said, adding "We are used to all this."

Studies say nearly 30 million tonnes of paddy straw are generated in Punjab and Haryana annually. Nearly seven million tonnes is used for power generation, biofuel, feeding animals and for heat generation, the rest is burnt in the fields, an easy and quick way of disposal.

Tue, 01 Dec 2020 13:30:31 +0530
Kartik Purnima Holy Festival of Hindu Sikh Jain

Kartik Purnima  on the Purnima day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik month which falls on  Monday. It is also known as Tripuri Purnima and Tripurari Purnima. It is sometimes called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepawali, the festival of lights of the Gods.

This year due to lockdown the festival was celebrated on a very subdued scale as most temples had to follow the government norms like entry restrictions, wearing a mask and keeping safe distances. Temples in Matunga, in addition to normal restrictions, did not allow devotees to carry peacock feather inside the temples to be kept on the foot of the Lord Kartik. They were allowed to take only darshan of the Lord.

All temples allowed entry  from the evening of Sunday and  on Monday morning as the Purnima Tithi began at 12.47 pm on November 29 and ended on the next day afternoon at 2.59 p.m.

Tamilians and Keralites celebrate it as Kartikai Deepam when they light rows of lamps both in houses and temples. The day of Kartigai Deepam is fixed based on Tamil Solar Calendar. It falls in the month of Kartikai when Kartiga Nakshatra prevails and it  coincides with Pournami, the full moon day. The name of the festival born from the name of the Lord Karthikeya who is also called as Muruga and Subramanya, who was believed to have been born on this day to  Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.

This festival is also celebrated to commemorate the bonding between brothers and sisters, analogous to Bhaiya-Dhuj and Raakhi. Sisters pray for the prosperity and success of their brothers and light lamps to mark the occasion.


On this day the Maharashtrians ladies, all over,  make it a point to visit any Karthik temple with a Peacock feather to get the Lord’s blessings. They believe that having darshan on the day will help in having a long and prosperous married life. Darshan on any other day they believe will bring calamity in the family.

Jains visit religious places and worship Lord Mahavira. Devotees visit Palitana- famous Jain pilgrimage which is thrown open for the devotees on this day after being closed for public during the four months of monsoon. It is also a special day for Sikh devotees as Guru Nanak ji was born on  Karthik Purnima day in 1469 AD.  

There are many legends associated with Kartik Purnima, some believe it marks the birth anniversary of Lord Kartik,  while some say it is the day when Lord Vishnu took his first avatar 'Matsya' and also  Lord Shiva defeated the mighty demon Tripurasura on this day,

Not many are aware that this is one of the oldest festivals celebrated by South Indians

perhaps even before they started celebrating Diwali and Navaratri.     (Sangam age 200 B.C. to 300 A.D).

Mon, 30 Nov 2020 16:04:18 +0530
With 38k new Covid 19 cases India s tally tops 94 3 lakhs

New Delhi, With 38,772 new coronavirus cases and 443 deaths in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally stood at 94,31,692 on Monday, as the fatality toll touched 1,37,139, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Currently, there are 4,46,952 active cases, whereas 8,84,76,00 patients have been cured and discharged so far.

The recovery rate stands at 93.81 per cent, and the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

"India continues to have one of the lowest deaths per million population globally (presently 99). Focussed measures to ensure a low and manageable fatality rate have resulted in daily mortality figures of less than 500," it added.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 1,820,059 cases till date. There are 92,062 active cases and 47,071 Covid-19 deaths.

According to the Ministry, over 70 per cent of the daily new cases are contributed by eight States and UT i.e. Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh.

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 62.6 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.45 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 62,670,153 and 1,458,360, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 13,374,162 and 266,838, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases.

Mon, 30 Nov 2020 11:15:23 +0530
With 38k new Covid 19 cases India s tally tops 94 3 lakhs

New Delhi, With 38,772 new coronavirus cases and 443 deaths in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally stood at 94,31,692 on Monday, as the fatality toll touched 1,37,139, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Currently, there are 4,46,952 active cases, whereas 8,84,76,00 patients have been cured and discharged so far.

The recovery rate stands at 93.81 per cent, and the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

"India continues to have one of the lowest deaths per million population globally (presently 99). Focussed measures to ensure a low and manageable fatality rate have resulted in daily mortality figures of less than 500," it added.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 1,820,059 cases till date. There are 92,062 active cases and 47,071 Covid-19 deaths.

According to the Ministry, over 70 per cent of the daily new cases are contributed by eight States and UT i.e. Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh.

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 62.6 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.45 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 62,670,153 and 1,458,360, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 13,374,162 and 266,838, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases.

Mon, 30 Nov 2020 11:02:47 +0530
With 38k new Covid 19 cases India s tally tops 94 3 lakhs

New Delhi, With 38,772 new coronavirus cases and 443 deaths in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally stood at 94,31,692 on Monday, as the fatality toll touched 1,37,139, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Currently, there are 4,46,952 active cases, whereas 8,84,76,00 patients have been cured and discharged so far.

The recovery rate stands at 93.81 per cent, and the fatality rate is 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

"India continues to have one of the lowest deaths per million population globally (presently 99). Focussed measures to ensure a low and manageable fatality rate have resulted in daily mortality figures of less than 500," it added.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 1,820,059 cases till date. There are 92,062 active cases and 47,071 Covid-19 deaths.

According to the Ministry, over 70 per cent of the daily new cases are contributed by eight States and UT i.e. Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh.

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 62.6 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.45 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 62,670,153 and 1,458,360, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 13,374,162 and 266,838, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases.

Mon, 30 Nov 2020 11:02:35 +0530
Amrita Rao Earlier it was important to have talent now there s talent management

Mumbai, Actress Amrita Rao says the concept of visibility for an actor has changed courtesy social media and talent management firms, as compared to the time she made her Bollywood debut in 2002.

"Before the era of social media and PR machinery that we are seeing these days, an actor's popularity and celebrity status was a byproduct of his or her talent. When I entered the industry as a teenager and appeared in films like 'Ishq Vishk', 'Masti', and 'Main Hoon Naa', people noticed me because of my performance, although a film like ‘Main Hoon Na' has superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Sushamita Sen. These days, actors are becoming popular also because of their presence on social media. I think for an actor, being remembered for a character and film is more important," Amrita told IANS.

She continued: "There is nothing wrong with becoming a popular celebrity on social media, just that there is a huge change that has happened. I entered the industry during the transition period. Earlier, it was important to have talent and as an artiste, we used to sharpen our skills. Now there is something called talent management! In a way, it is a good cultural change that lets artistes feel more secure with job opportunity," explained the actress.

Can Amrita recall the moment she felt recognised in the pre-social media era?

"Yes, I clearly remember that because I had a mixed feeling. Whenever I recall it, it brings a smile on my face. All of us were entering the venue, and the photographers were there, on the occasion of the success party of 'Main Hoon Naa'. There was a group of college students standing out there who saw me and calling out my name as 'Sanjana Sanjana…!' I was so young back then that I didn't know how to react, I smiled, put a palm on my face because I was feeling shy! In my head, it was like 'what just happen? This meant they really watched my film and recognised me!!' It was an over-the-moon feeling of a youngster!" she giggled.


Mon, 30 Nov 2020 10:57:54 +0530
Biden names 7 member all women White House comms team

New York, US President-elect Joe Biden has named a seven member all-women team to lead the White House communications war room, headed by his campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield. This is the first time in American political history that the senior White House communications team will be entirely female.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris described the announcement as "barrier-shattering".

The new hires: Elizabeth E. Alexander, Communications Director for the First Lady, Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director, Ashley Etienne, Communications Director for the Vice President, Karine Jean Pierre, Principal Deputy Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, Symone Sanders, Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President and Pili Tobar, Deputy White House Communications Director.

Four of the seven member team announced Sunday are women of color. The latest hires stay true to Biden's early promise to build a diverse White House team that looks like multicultural America.

"Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House," Biden said in a statement.

"Our country is facing unprecedented challenges e from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long-overdue reckoning over racial injustice. To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that," Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said as a relatively quiet four day Thanksgiving week lull drew to a close.


Mon, 30 Nov 2020 09:29:50 +0530
Modi to visit Varanasi for Dev Deepawali

Varanasi (UP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, on Monday, to light the first 'diya' for the 'Dev Deepawali' celebrations.

Dev Deepawali, which is celebrated on every ‘Purnima' (full moon night) of the Kartik month in the Hindu calendar, will be celebrated by lighting 11 lakh diyas on both sides of Ganga River.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other dignitaries, will be taken on a cruise which will halt at the Chetram Ghat from where the guests will witness a scintillating laser show.

"The Dev Deepawali celebrations will be telecast live and is expected to revive tourism in the Covid situation," said joint director (tourism) Avinash Mishra.

The Prime Minister will also inaugurate the 73-km stretch of the newly widened and six-laned NH 19, made with a total outlay of Rs 2,447 crore.

This is expected to reduce the travel time between Prayagraj and Varanasi by one hour.

The Prime Minister will then visit the site of Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor Project followed by a visit to the Sarnath Archaeological site.

He will witness the light and sound show on the life of Lord Buddha at the archaeological site of Sarnath, which had been virtually inaugurated by him earlier this month.

The Prime Minister is visiting Varanasi for the first time in the pandemic though he had virtually connected with his constituency on earlier occasions.

Meanwhile, tight security arrangements have been made in the holy city for the Prime Minister's visit.

Besides a heavy deployment forces, drone cameras will be used to keep watch on any suspicious movement. The use of drone cameras by the local people has been banned.

Divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal told reporters: "The preparations for PM's visit were complete at all the venues where he is scheduled to attend different events."

Mon, 30 Nov 2020 09:14:40 +0530
180 doctors in Indonesia succumb to Covid 19

Jakarta, A total of 180 doctors in Indonesia have died due to the novel coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, according to authorities.

The Indonesian Medical Association said on Saturday that of the 180 doctors, 92 were general practitioners, 86 were specialists, and two were residents, reports Xinhua news agency.

The victims belonged to East Java (38), followed by Jakarta (27), North Sumatra (24), Central Java (15) and West Java (12).

Indonesia has so far reported a total of 527,999 coronavirus cases, with 441,983 recovered, and 16,646 deaths.

Sun, 29 Nov 2020 10:48:46 +0530
Night temperatures improve marginally in J K Ladakh

Srinagar,  Minimum temperatures across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh union territories improved marginally on Sunday due to partial cloud cover as the weather is likely to remain dry till Thursday, Met officials said.

"Due to partial cloud cover, minimum temperatures improved marginally in J&K and Ladakh. Weather is expected to generally remain dry till December 4 after which another spell of rain and snow is expected", an official of the Met department said.

Srinagar city recorded minus 1.4 as the minimum temperature today while Pahalgam and Gulmarg recorded minus 2.3 and minus 3.2 respectively as the lowest temperatures.

Leh town of Ladakh recorded minus 11.1 and Kargil minus 9.2 as the minimum temperatures today.

Jammu city recorded 9.8, Katra town 10.7, Batote 8.7, Bannihal 5.2 and Bhaderwah 4.5 as the day's lowest temperatures.

The 40-day long period of harsh winter cold called the "Chillai Kalan" begins in Kashmir on December 21 and ends on January 31 every year.

During this period, the night temperatures drop below the freezing point while the day temperatures also hover around 7 degrees Celsius.

All the major water bodies of the valley, including lakes, rivers and streams freeze during the Chillai Kalan.

Snowfall during this 40-day long period replenishes the perennial water reservoirs in the mountains that sustain rivers, lakes, streams and springs during the hot summer months.

Sun, 29 Nov 2020 10:44:19 +0530
Coal racket CBI raids 30 places in Bengal

Kolkata, The Central Bureau of Investigation's anti-corruption branch on Saturday conducted marathon raids in as many as 30 different locations in West Bengal in connection with a coal-smuggling racket.

According to sources, the federal investigation agency sleuths raided the office and homes of Anup Majhi, alias Lala, in Asansol, Durgapur, and Raniganj in Burdwan district, as well as Bishnupur in Kolkata's adjoining South 24-Parganas district.

They also carried out search operations in some of the houses of Majhi's associates.

Majhi is the alleged kingpin of the illegal coal operation that was being run in the open cast colliery belts along the Bengal-Jharkhand border.

The CBI sleuths have reportedly found connections between Majhi and Enamul Haq, the earlier arrested alleged kingpin in a cattle smuggling racket operating in West Bengal.

Enamul Haq, a resident of Murshidabad district, is currently on interim bail after he was tested positive for Covid-19.

A Border Security Force (BSF) officer linked to cattle-smuggling activities was also arrested in connection with the case.

Sat, 28 Nov 2020 14:28:03 +0530
BJP on MVA s first anniv Constitutional machinery has collapsed

Mumbai, As the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government completed its first year in office on Saturday, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party slammed its 'lustreless performance' and alleged that the Constitutional machinery in the state has collapsed.

In a scathing attack, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, dismissed the MVA's one-year as a "total failure" by saying: "The two recent court rulings in the Arnab Goswami and Kangana Ranaut cases clearly reflect that there is a breakdown of the Constitutional machinery and abuse of power."

However, in the same breath, he declared that the BJP would "not demand President's Rule in the state", but made it clear that the Opposition would continue to play its role effectively, pull up the government when it errs, and even take to the streets if necessary.

Adding that the BJP doesn't fully endorse Goswami or Ranaut's views, but it also doesn't agree with the manner in which the government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is hounding those who speak against the MVA regime and crushing dissent.

"The government is cracking down on anyone speaking out against them like RTI activists, social media posts or mediapersons. The Supreme Court and Bombay High Court have clearly observed that there is gross misuse of power. There seems to be an undeclared emergency," Fadnavis contended.

Giving the MVA a report card as "failure on all fronts", the BJP leader said the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress has only done one job - to scrap projects launched by the former BJP-led government in the state.

Stating that there is absolutely "no coordination among the three alliance partners," Fadnavis reiterated that the MVA government was born out of treachery, indicating the BJP had not yet swallowed the fact it lost power in the changed political equations post-October 2019 Assembly elections.

"They (Shiv Sena) betrayed the BJP and the people of Maharashtra. They contested elections in alliance with (BJP) us, they sought votes in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name, and then joined hands with the NCP-Congress," he said.

Slamming Thackeray, Fadnavis said he had yet to see a CM who goes around "threatening the people" especially political opponents and the type of language he uses despite occupying a Constitutional post.

The reference was to the CM's anniversary interview series with the Sena party newspaper 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana' in which he mentioned his Hindutva.

In the interview, Thackeray commented on the BJP's allegations that he had discarded 'Hindutva' over the past one year after taking over as CM.

"What do you mean, we have dropped 'Hindutva'.. Is it a 'dhoti'? Hindutva must be in the blood. We follow the 'Hindutva' taught by my father (the late Balasaheb Thackeray) and grandfather (the late Prabodhankar Thackeray). Don't teach us 'Hindutva' It was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who unfurled the 'saffron flag' and laid the foundation of Hindavi Swaraj. We don't follow the 'Hindutva' of 'dalals' (agents) in this land," Thackeray said in his marathon interview.

Terming the government's handling of the Covid pandemic as disastrous, Fadnavis pointed out how he had written more than 100 letters but they remained unacknowledged and the state has been pushed into a serious crisis arising from the coronavirus.

"Instead of criticizing the Opposition and those who speak out against the government, Thackeray should have discussed the state's road-map for the next four years, the development, the direction it will take, how it will resolve the problems of the people, farmers, youth, women, etc But there was nothing of this sort," rued Fadnavis.

On the occasion, the BJP Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar released a 'Black Book' highlighting what he said all the failures of the government and how it has misled the people of the state for the past one year, while the party is holding press conferences in each district to highlight the 'failures' of the MVA government.


Sat, 28 Nov 2020 14:21:26 +0530
Good Samaritans offer langar to people at Delhi s Burari ground

New Delhi, Even as the Delhi Police has allowed farmers to visit Burari ground in north Delhi to hold their protest against three central farm laws, a couple of good Samaritans are offering free 'langar sewa' or community kitchen food there to ensure that no one goes hungry.

Even though farmers from Punjab and Haryana, who have rallied at Tikari and Singhu borders as well as Burari, have brought along their own dry provisions and other essentials to prepare food in community kitchens (langar) for the protesters, there are people who don't have any arrangements for meals during the agitation.

Thus, the good Samaritans from across Delhi have been visiting the Burari ground, also known as Nirankari ground, bringing along cooked food so that no one goes hungry.

"We have been serving 'langar' to the poor in Delhi in the past. But since it was the need of the hour, we have come to the Burari ground to serve food to whosoever wants. If needed, we will come here again," Parvinder Singh, a volunteer with 'Guru Ki Langar Sewa' NGO that has been feeding the hungry since 1987, told IANS.

He said that they had made arrangement to feed up to 1,000 persons.


Sat, 28 Nov 2020 14:16:39 +0530
Etailers log record Rs 61 253 crore sales in India festive month

Bengaluru,  The festive online sales in India beat industry estimates to clock $8.3 billion (nearly Rs 61,253 crore) in the October 15-November 15 period -- an impressive growth of 65 per cent (on-year), a new report said on Friday.

The gross merchandise value (GMV) numbers increased from $5 billion last year upto $8.3 billion this year, riding on the massive orders coming from smaller cities and towns, according to homegrown consulting firm Redseer.

According to the market research firm, Flipkart Group emerged as the leader during the whole festive month with 66 per cent share of the total sale.

"The overall growth story has been very bullish this festive season. We had forecasted $7 billion of sales but the actual figures surpassed our expectations fairly comfortably, showing how comfortable consumers have become with shopping online even in this pandemic hit year," said Mrigank Gutgutia, Director at RedSeer.

The festive season for this year saw 88 per cent customer growth from last year which was driven by about 40 million shoppers from tier 2 and above cities.

Further, mobiles continued to dominate across all the products and with further increasing share of users from Tier 2 and above cities, GMV per customer dropped to Rs 6,600 from Rs 7,450 in last festive season.

One clear lesson from this festive season is that e-commerce has become more mainstream than ever.

"It has proven that with the right assortment at the right prices which is delivered quickly in the safety of customer's homes, the value proposition of eCommerce is very powerful," Gutgutia said in a statement.

"It is imperative for brands and sellers to shift their focus to online quickly and enable a seamless online experience for the customer in order to thrive in a post COVID world".

Factors like high pre- sale awareness and anticipation driven by an impactful campaign, wide selection across the categories and seamless supply chain planning enabled minimal product stock outs, along with multiple affordability constructs, helped Flipkart and Amazon to drive growth this festive season.

Smartphones worth Rs 1.5 crore were sold every minute across online platforms in the first week of festive sales -- enabled by value selection, affordability schemes and fast delivery.

The biggest growth lever this year was the massive addition of shoppers.

Over 55 per cent of shoppers came from tier II cities like Asansol, Ludhiana, Dhanbad and Rajkot, among others.

Given the Tier 2+ skew of the shoppers, buyers preferred affordable price ranges this year for almost all product categories, instead of expensive items.

Earlier reports had suggested that online retailers were expected to generate approximately $6.5 billion (Rs 47,751 crore) in sales during the festive month (October 15-November 15).


Fri, 27 Nov 2020 10:24:01 +0530
Will leave WH if Electoral College votes for Biden Trump

Washington,  US President Donald Trump has said that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden in December.

The President made the remarks on Thursday while reporters after concluding a teleconference with US troops to mark the Thanksgiving holiday, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said if the Electoral College confirms Biden's victory when it meets on December 14, he "certainly" will relinquish presidential power.

"It's going to be a very hard thing to concede... If they (the electors) do (vote for Biden) they made a mistake," the President said.

Trump doubled down on the claim that there was voter fraud in the November 3 election.

"No one wants to see the kind of fraud this election has come to represent," he said.

"I know one thing, Joe Biden didn't get 80 million votes."

Biden has won 80,218,808 popular votes to date, compared to Trump's 73,947,962 votes, according to The Cook Political Report, an influential analytical site focused on US presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 electoral votes, surpassing the 270-vote threshold for clinching the presidency.

Biden has declared victory and announced the first tranche of his Cabinet nominees, including national security and foreign policy officials.

The General Services Administration has initiated Biden's formal transition into the White House, but Trump, despite having directed his administration to facilitate the process, has vowed to continue the legal fight to challenge the election results.

Fri, 27 Nov 2020 09:22:36 +0530
After braving tear gas water cannon farmers halt in Panipat for night

Chandigarh, Tens of thousands of farmers up in arms on Thursday braved tear gas shells and water cannons to break through police barricades at several places on the Punjab-Haryana border while heading to the national capital to lodge their protest over the Centre's new agriculture laws.

Marching through Haryana where there were joined by local farmers, the farmers decided to stop for the night at Panipat close to the national capital.

In a major late night development, the Bharti Kisan Union Ekta-Ugrahan also decided to start their journey from the Khanauri border in Punjab's Sangrur district on Friday.

BKU-Ugrahan President Joginder Ugrahan said: "If we are not allowed to cross Haryana and head towards Delhi, our protest destination will be the border points for a week."

Meanwhile, Punjab legislators Parminder Dhindsa and Sukhpal Khera were taken into preventive custody by Delhi Police.

Earlier in the day, several protesters and policemen were injured as farmers broke barricades and threw them down from a bridge ahead of the Punjab-Haryana border in Shambhu in Punjab's Patiala and near Haryana's Ambala.

Bracing overnight rains and chilly winds, thousands of protesting farmers assembled at various places along the Haryana-Punjab borders on Thursday morning to head towards the national capital for their 'Dilli Chalo' protest, but were stopped by the Haryana Police.

Thousands of farmers had been staging sit-in protests ahead of the Dabwali barrier between Punjab's Bathinda and Haryana's Sirsa districts and at Khanauri border in Sangrur district, awaiting the decision by their leaders to move towards Delhi.

While activists of the Bharti Kisan Union Ekta-Ugrahan and Sidhupur factions had been camping on the border at Khanauri and Moonak, respectively, since Wednesday evening, other farmer unions changed their plans and decided to head for Delhi from other entry points, like Shambhu.

A huge contingent of police comprising the Rapid Action Force had been deployed at all entry points in Haryana, while residents of several towns located along the Punjab-Haryana border faced a harrowing time due to the heavy deployment of the security forces and snapping of the bus services in the past 24 hours.

Unfazed by the heavy security deployment and barricading on the highway with mounds of earth and huge rocks, protesting farmer Gurdev Singh told the media at the Shambhu border that "We will break all the barricades if we were not allowed to move ahead."

Farmers said they were ready to face bullets also.

Despite the use of water cannons and tear gas, the protesting farmers, comprising men and women -- both young and old -- and school and college students riding tractor-trailers, cars and motorcycles, managed to enter Haryana from Shambhu.

Angry farmers threw stones at security forces deployed to control the crowd at the Shambhu border.

They were later joined by thousands of their counterparts from Haryana.

As they reached Kurukshetra district, the local farmers joined them.

As per the police estimates, around 300,000 farmers from both states are set to reach Delhi.

The farmers affiliated to 33 organisations are part of the United Farmers Front, an all-India body of over 470 farmers' unions that will participate in the indefinite protest in the national capital.

Appealing to the agitating farmers, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said: "Will leave politics if there's trouble on MSP (minimum support price)."

He also blamed his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh for "inciting the farmers".

Reacting to his accusations, Amarinder Singh replied on Twitter: "Shocked at your response. It's the farmers who've to be convinced on MSP, not me. You should've tried to talk to them before their 'Dilli Chalo'. And if you think I'm inciting farmers then why are Haryana farmers also marching to Delhi?"

Meanwhile, condemning the use of water cannon and tear gas, former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said: "Today is Punjab's 26/11. We are witnessing the end of the right to democratic protest. The Akali Dal condemns the Haryana government the Centre for choosing to repress the peaceful farmer movement."

He said the battle for the rights of Punjab farmers cannot be throttled by using water cannons against them.

Supporting the protest by farmers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the peaceful demonstration was a constitutional right of the farmers.

The Delhi Police has already asked the farmers not to enter Delhi as they don't have permission to protest in the city.

Farmers protesting against the farm laws have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.

Fri, 27 Nov 2020 09:13:24 +0530
Governor visits Asiatic Society on its 216th Foundation Day

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari visited the Asiatic Society of Mumbai on the occasion of its 216th Foundation Day and and saw the collection of books, manuscripts, maps, coins and rare artefacts.

Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar P, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command, Dr Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India, Dr Bhalchandra Munagekar, former Vice Chancellor of University of Mumbai, Sharad Kale, former President of Asiatic Society and Prof. Vispi Balaporia, President of the Society and members of the Managing Committee of the Society were present. The Governor is the Patron of Asiatic Society.

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 17:47:33 +0530
IT Ministry partners with IBM to equip youth with future ready skills

New Delhi,  IBM India on Thursday said it has collaborated with the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to create a robust education and skilling ecosystem that creates critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and next generation innovators through the Common Services Centre Academy.

As part of the partnership, CSC Academy - part of Common Services Centre (CSC) scheme of India's flagship Digital India programme -- and IBM will foster the capability and development of learners with diverse backgrounds and educational needs.

They will extensively use technology, teaching and delivering of specialised courses/ training programmemes in areas including Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to train learners such as village level entrepreneurs, functionaries and stakeholders of the CSC programme.

As a part of the collaboration, IBM will curate and provide content from its key skilling programme - SkillsBuild and STEM for Girls -- to be used for the training services and in community development programme that is currently being conducted across the 6,000 CSC Academies.

"This collaboration with IBM aligns with the National Education Policy's emphasis on learning 21st century skills to ensure the future-readiness of India's youth and realising the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat," Dinesh Tyagi, Managing Director, CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd., said in a statement.

As India moves into post-Covid industry transformation, there is a huge requirement of skilled manpower in futuristic technologies like computer-aided design, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, image processing, Internet of Things (IoT), data science, cloud computing, blockchain, etc.

"Exponential technologies like AI and Hybrid Cloud can drive path-breaking innovations and fuel the nation's digital India vision. To make this a reality there is a need to create the right avenues and platforms for learners to be equipped with industry-ready skills," said Sandip Patel, Managing Director, IBM India/South Asia.


Thu, 26 Nov 2020 16:37:38 +0530
SpiceJet launches dedicated freighter services to Leh

New Delhi,  Airline major SpiceJet on Thursday launched dedicated freighter services connecting Leh with the rest of the country.

Accordingly, the airline operated its first freighter flight from Delhi to Leh carrying 13 tonnes of cargo supplies.

The flight was operated by SpiceXpress, the dedicated cargo arm of SpiceJet.

According to the airline, a Boeing 737 freighter has been deployed on this route.

Besides, the new flights launched are seasonal and will operate during the winter months when surface transportation is disrupted owing to harsh weather conditions.

"Our flight services are especially significant considering the extreme weather conditions during winter months when temperatures fall below sub-zero levels hampering the movement of essential supplies and cargo for the local populace and administration in Leh," said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.

"Our freighter services to Leh will ensure seamless and timely transportation of essential supplies to this most beautiful part of our country throughout winters."

In addition, the airline said that the dedicated cargo flights will help transport fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, perishables, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and other general cargo. Besides improving logistics and connectivity, the new freighter service will ensure transportation of these essential commodities remains unaffected due to dipping temperatures and adverse weather conditions during these winter months.

At present, SpiceJet operates a fleet of 17 cargo aircraft including three wide-body planes and is the only Indian carrier to operate long-haul non-stop cargo flights to Europe, Africa and CIS countries.

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 16:03:01 +0530
Small scale development projects completed in Afghanistan s Ghor province

Kabul,  A total of 15 small-scale uplift projects have been completed in the relatively peaceful and poor province of Ghor, said a statement of the Ministry for Rural Development and Rehabilitation on Thursday.

The projects include the provision of potable water, solar energy to light houses and water reservoirs implemented in Lal-o-Sarjangal district at a cost of 25 million afghani, Xinhua reported.

The projects provided by the Ministry of Rural Development and Rehabilitation would benefit some 1,000 families.

According to the statement of the ministry, the construction of the 5km road has been completed in the Giti district of central Daikundi province and 3km road in the Burka district of northern Baghlan provinces recently respectively.

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 15:58:26 +0530
3 killed as cyclone Nivar wreaks havoc in TN

Chennai/Puducherry, Three persons were killed and an equal number injured as the very severe cyclonic storm Nivar wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Thursday.

According to the Tamil Nadu government, three persons lost their lives due to rain related incidents and three got injured. The state government also said that 26 cattle had also died in the storm.

On its way the cyclone also damaged several houses, uprooted trees and power lines in Tamil Nadu's Cuddalore, Marakkanam and in Puducherry also.

A total of 101 houses, including thatched huts and tiled houses were damaged by cyclone, the Tamil Nadu government said.

According to the government, about 380 trees were uprooted by Nivar and 14 acre banana plantation was also damaged.

In Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district, police said the fallen trees have been removed to ease the flow of traffic.

The government said it was carrying out the repairs quickly to restore power lines. A total of 19 electric poles, which fell down, have been repaired.

At Marakkanam near Puducherry, several power poles fell down and the fishermen community requested the Tamil Nadu government to restore the power lines at the earliest.

In the suburbs of Tamil Nadu capital Chennai, water got logged due to rains affecting the residents as well as the traffic flow.

Bus services that were stopped from November 24 afternoon ahead of the cyclone were resumed on Thursday afternoon in seven districts of Tamil Nadu.

Suburban train services in Chennai will also be resumed at 3 p.m.

About 2.27 lakh persons have been housed in 3,085 relief camps.

Chief Minister K.Palaniswami appreciated the work done by the Greater Chennai Corporation and Greater Chennai Police in removing the fallen trees and helping the needy.

Palaniswami also visited Cuddalore to inspect the cyclone damages and meet the affected people.

In Puducherry also several trees were uprooted by the cyclone and the power supply was disrupted.

Puducherry Chief Minister V.Narayanasamy told a news channel that power supply will be restored in a phased manner on Thursday itself.

He said, a lot of trees have fallen due to the cyclone and rain was continuing.

Narayanasamy said the low lying areas were inundated and work was on to drain the water. "Fallen trees were being removed. Power supply was disrupted and it will be soon restored in a phased manner in 12 hours", he said.

As regards the cyclone damage to life and property, Narayanasamy said the assessment will be made and by this afternoon an estimate of damage will be known.

He said 80 relief camps have been set up in Puducherry. Camps have also been set up in Karaikal.

Narayanasamy said, "By God's grace people of Puducherry escaped the fury of Nivar."

He also inspected the cyclone damaged areas and urged the people to stay indoors and fishermen not to venture into the seas.

According to the weather department the cyclone lays centered over coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry about 25km north of Puducherry with wind blowing at a speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph.

Nivar will move northwest and weaken further into a cyclonic storm during the next three hours, the IMD said.

The cyclone began its landfall on Wednesday night about 10.30 p.m. after moving at a speed of 16 kmph for six hours.

In an early morning tweet, Puducherry's Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi said: "Good #MorningNutrition. Puducherry has faced the Cyclone, collectively and resolutely. Making us a stronger and a more experienced team."

Even after landfall, the cyclone was likely to maintain its intensity for about six hours and weaken gradually.

The sea along the coast was very rough with huge waves were hitting the shores.

The IMD said, "Under its influence rainfall at most/many places with heavy to very heavy fall at a few places with isolated extremely heavy falls are likely to occur over Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu and Chittoor, Kurnool, Prakasam and Cuddappa districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Gale wind speed reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph very likely to prevail over interior districts (Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore) of Tamil Nadu and Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh in the early morning to forenoon, the weather department had said.

The Puducherry government too has announced Thursday as a public holiday.

Twenty five teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 15:56:35 +0530
Football legend Diego Maradona passes away at 60

Buenos Aires, Football legend Diego Maradona has died, aged 60, according to Argentine media reports. He had been discharged from hospital just two weeks ago after undergoing surgery for a blood clot in the brain.

Maradona underwent surgery on November 3 after which his personal doctor Leopoldo Luque said that Maradona was suffering from confusion caused by "abstinence". He, however, recovered enough to leave the hospital and was taken to a house in Tigre, on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires.

His lawyer Matias Morla said the 1986 FIFA World Cup winner was feeling well after overcoming "maybe the toughest time of his life".

Widely rated as the greatest player of all time, Maradona was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup. The tournament featured a number of sublime performances from the legendary forward, the most prominent of which came in a quarter-final match against England and the goal he scored in the match which came after a 60-yard run with the ball from midfield, dribbling past six English players has since been dubbed 'Goal of the Century'.

Born in a slum area in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Maradona made his senior debut for Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors in 1976. He went on to a play for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the 1981-82 season. He then shifted to Europe where he spent two tumultuous seasons with Spanish giants Barcelona. His tenure with the Catalan club ended with a nasty brawl that triggered crowd trouble in the 1984 Copa del Rey final.

Maradona then went to Italian club Napoli, where he had arguably the most productive period of his career. He won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup in his seven seasons with the club, leaving as their all-time highest goalscorer, a record that stood until Marek Hamsik overtook his tally in 2017. He went on to spend a season each at Spanish club Sevilla and Argentine club Newell's Old Boys before ending his career at Boca Juniors.

As a coach, Maradona notably managed Argentina between 2008 and 2010. He was in charge of Gimnasia y Esgrima in Argentina's top flight at the time of his death.

Thu, 26 Nov 2020 15:53:41 +0530
India s ban on 43 Chinese apps draws mixed reactions

New Delhi,  While Indian startups have largely welcomed the government's move to ban 43 more Chinese apps, taking it to a total of 267 in a span of about five months, experts have also cautioned that users deserve more information and transparency about the reasons behind the actions.

Extending its support to the latest "digital strike" on Tuesday that banned 43 more Chinese apps, homegrown short video-sharing platform Chingari said that some of the apps in the new list "were banned earlier as well but they just cloaked themselves under a new identity to enter the Indian market."

"The ban is a very smart move and sends out a clear message that Chinese apps cannot use such tactics to engage in activities that are 'prejudicial to India's sovereignty'. At the same time, we would like to assure our Chingari family that the safety of their data is our highest priority," Sumit Ghosh, CEO, Co-founder Chingari, said in a statement.

One of the banned apps include Snack Video which offered homegrown short video apps, that gained traction following ban on TikTok, very tough competitions.

"This is yet another welcome move from the government to stand against Chinese apps that always have had serious privacy issues. We happily extend our support to all the language users and creators of Snack Video especially who are residing in tier 3/4 cities to come and join Bolo Indya," said Varun Saxena, Founder and CEO, Bolo Indya.

However, Mishi Choudhary, Founder of, a legal services organisation working on law, technology and policy, said that the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology "has made it a practice of issuing orders banning websites citing vague reasons without offering details that users deserve when being deprived of access to information."

Earlier on June, 29, the government had blocked access to 59 mobile apps and on September 2, 118 more apps were banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

In addition, the government in late July, cracked down on 47 more mobile apps, most of which were reportedly clones or lite variants of the Chinese apps banned in June.

Launching the fresh assault on 43 Chinese apps on Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said the "action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order."

While announcing the ban on 59 apps in June, the ministry also said that it received "many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to operation of certain apps."

"What started with the ironical assertion that the government was worried about personal data -- considering we are still dithering on a personal data protection law and stories about data theft are so rampant that they don't even make it to front page news anymore -- has now turned into an unfortunate trend," Choudhary said.

"If these Chinese apps are indulging in notorious practices which they might be, more information and transparency would help users see these orders as necessary instead of what they look like now --a sign of controlling choice," she added.

SafeHouse Technologies, a cyber security tech enterprise that provides solutions to secure mobile phones, has welcomed the government's move to ban 43 more Chinese apps, saying that "the government has yet again proved that the security and hygiene in the Indian smartphone and app ecosystem needs to be maintained."

Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:33:25 +0530
Markets zoom on hopes of Covid vaccine in India banking stocks rise

Mumbai, Optimism over the introduction of an Civod-19 vaccine in India along with continued foreign fund inflows boosted the Indian stock markets on Tuesday.

In terms of global cues, positive development over US President-elect Joe Biden's team getting a formal go-ahead to begin the transition process boosted investor sentiments.

Back home, broad based buying took place on hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine will be available in India soon.

Besides, another key factor for the markets' rise was attributed to the healthy FII inflows worth more than Rs 50,000 crore in November so far.

Accordingly, both the major benchmark indices the -- S&P BSE Sensex and the NSE Nifty50 -- continued their gaining streak for the third straight day to touch their respective intra-day highs and made new closing highs in the process.

Consequently, NSE Nifty50 touched an all-time high of 13,048.75 points on Tuesday, and the BSE Sensex hit a record high of 44,499.62 points.

The NSE Nifty50 closed at 13,055.15, up 128.70 points or 1 per cent from its previous close. Similarly, the BSE Sensex closed on a high note of 44,523.02 points, up 445.87 points or 1.01 per cent from its previous close.

Among the sectors, banks emerged as the biggest gainers followed by financials, auto, realty, metals and pharma.

"The overall market mood is already bouyant from the progress made on the Covid-19 vaccine front and the prospects for a speedy global economic revival. Going ahead, the market momentum is likely to continue given the optimism over vaccine progress," said Siddhartha Khemka, Head - Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

"Investors would closely watch the transition of Joe Biden as the US President and developments over stimulus announcement from the new government. On the domestic side, the market would look for cues from the monthly F&O expiry and the rollover data, especially on FII position. Moreover, the expected MSCI inflow of more than $4 billion on Friday would keep the momentum positive," Khemka added.

According to Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities: "Asian shares were mostly higher and European stocks rose on Tuesday, buoyed by optimism that vaccines will end the coronavirus pandemic. Intra-day dips are being bought into. Advance decline ratio remains very positive. Stable and gradual move towards Nifty 13,200-13,250 continues on expected lines."

The top gainers on the Sensex on Tuesday were Axis Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki India, while the major losers were Bharti Airtel, HDFC and ONGC.

Wed, 25 Nov 2020 14:41:47 +0530
Have lost comrade colleague friend Sonia on Patel s demise

New Delhi,  Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday while condoling the death of Ahmed Patel said she has lost a dedicated Congress colleague.

"In Sh. Ahmed Patel, I have lost a colleague, whose entire life was dedicated to the Congress Party." she said

She said, "His faithfulness and dedication, his commitment to his duty, his always being there to help, his generosity were rare qualities that distinguished him from others."

"I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend. I mourn his passing and I feel deeply for his bereaved family to whom I offer my sincere feelings of empathy and support," she added

Scores of Congress leaders condoled Ahmed Patel's death, "It is very hard to come to terms with Ahmed patel Ji's passing. He was a political troubleshooter par excellence & will be sorely missed by all. "Ahmedbhai" was also a close friend of my late father's & a mentor to me," tweeted Milind Deora.

B.K. Hariprasad said in a tweet, "Its very saddening to know about the demise of Shri Ahmad patel ji. Congress has lost one of its greatest son. I am at loss of words at his death. May his soul rest in peace. May god give strength to his family to cope up with this terrible loss."

Wed, 25 Nov 2020 13:06:58 +0530
Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away at 71

New Delhi, Congress leader Ahmed Patel passed away this morning at 3.30 a.m. at the age of 71 years after Covid-19 complication in Gurugram Hospital.

His son Faisal Patel tweeted ,"With profound grief I regret to announce that sad and untimely demise of my father on 25/11 at 3.30a.m."

More than month after testing positive for Covid-19 infection, Patel was under treatment at a Gurugram-based hospital. He was being monitored by a team of doctors.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram tweeted, "Deeply shocked and saddened to learn that my dear friend Ahmed Patel passed away in the early hours of today...For two decades, he was one of the staunchest pillars of the Congress party and a trusted counsellor. He will be profoundly missed...I offer my tribute to his memory and convey my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family."

Wed, 25 Nov 2020 13:03:46 +0530
SC mulls issuing notice to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker in a letter to Arnab Goswami

New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it is contemplating issuing notice to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker while hearing a plea by Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami challenging the show-cause notice issued by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for initiation of breach of privilege motion against him. The notice was issued for Goswami's reporting in connection with case of death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Goswami, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that a notice should be issued to the Speaker in the matter. On November 6, the top court had asked the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly assistant secretary to show cause in two weeks why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for his October 13 letter to Goswami for showing Assembly notice issued to him in the apex court.

Salve contended before the bench also comprising Justices A.S Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian that the response of the assistant secretary of the Assembly indicated that the contentious letter was issued on the direction of the Speaker. However, the bench noted it has not gone through the response of the Assembly, which was filed late last night. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the assistant secretary, submitted, "I can prove that there is no contempt."

The Chief Justice replied that Salve is saying is that the speaker should be served a copy first, and the apprehension is Speaker should not say that proceedings went on without his knowledge. Dave replied not needed, as you will drop the contempt proceedings on next hearing. Chief Justice told Dave, "You do not have to tell us what to do."

Chief Justice, citing Salve's response, noted that the assistant secretary made a statement that he sent the letter on direction of the Speaker. "So, the Speaker needs to be served a notice?", queried Chief Justice. Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who is amicus curiae in the matter, submitted this means the assistant secretary acted as an agent; thus, the Speaker needs to be served. The bench adjourned the matter for two weeks.

Earlier, the top court had granted protection from arrest to Goswami in a breach of privilege motion case. On the last hearing, the bench had pulled up the assistant secretary stating that every citizen has right under Article 32 of the Constitution to approach the Supreme Court directly and because Goswami came to Supreme Court, he cannot be threatened in this manner. Chief Justice had said: "How dare he do this?" The Chief Justice added the letter to Goswami as threatening and intimidating.

Chief Justice said there is no doubt that if a citizen is deterred from approaching Supreme Court in exercise of his right under Article 32, it would amount to a serious interference in administration of justice. "No authority in the country can penalise someone for approaching this court. This is in teeth of Article 32. How dare this officer wrote something like this in his letter", said the Chief Justice.

Chief Justice emphasised that this is a serious matter. "The statements are unprecedented and have a tendency to bring the administration of justice into disrepute", the Chief Justice had observed.

Tue, 24 Nov 2020 17:03:26 +0530
Google Pay to remove payments on web app add transfer fee

New Delhi, Google Pay is set to kill the peer-to-peer payments facility on its web app in January and is going to add a fee for instant money transfers, the media reported.

Google Pay offered the ability to manage payments as well as send money from both a mobile app or from

Now, Google has released a notice on the web app that notifies users that the site will no longer work from January next year.

"Starting early in 2021, you won't be able to use to send and receive money from other people. To send and receive money, use the new Google Pay app," the company informed.

While you can still manage payment methods on the web app, peer-to-peer payments will cease to exist.

Google also clarified on a support page that the original Google Pay app will stop working in January, reports 9to5Google.

Google Pay will also add a fee on instant money transfers.

"It can take 1–3 business days when you transfer money to your bank account. Debit card transfers are usually instant. There is a fee of 1.5% or $.31 (whichever is higher), when you transfer out money with a debit card," the company said on its support page.

Google last week introduced several features in its Pay feature for both Android and iOS users which have been first rolled out in the US.

The company said it is working with trusted financial institutions to create Plex, a new mobile-first bank account integrated into Google Pay.


Tue, 24 Nov 2020 12:24:50 +0530
Nifty hits 13K for 1st time Sensex above 44 400

Mumbai,  The Indian equity indices surged to fresh record highs on Tuesday morning with the NSE Nifty50 crossing the 13,000 mark for the first time ever.

Nifty has touched a record high of 13,029.50 points, while the BSE Sensex hit an all-time high of 44,422.26.

Around 9.30, Nifty was at 13,011.30, higher by 84.85 points or 0.66 per cent from its previous close of 12,926.45 points.

The BSE Sensex was trading at 44,415.16, higher by 338.01 points or 0.77 per cent from the previous close of 44,077.15.

Healthy buying was witnessed in banking, finance and auto stocks.

The top gainers on the Sensex so far were Maruti Suzuki India, HCL Technologies and HDFC Bank.

Tue, 24 Nov 2020 10:46:35 +0530
Gang selling fake protein supplement caught in UP

Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh), The Muzaffarnagar police have arrested three members of a gang that was making and selling fake protein powder after sticking labels of top US and European brands on them.

One of the accused is absconding.

Abhishek Yadav, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Muzaffarnagar, said, "We were getting regular inputs about the activity of the gang. Our crime branch teams silently worked on getting enough details before raiding multiple locations in the district.

"We have recovered 1.5 lakh labels, hundreds of kgs of fake protein supplement in 572 containers with stickers of renowned firms like 'Universal', a US-based company. Over 9,500 empty bottles and boxes, 28 sacks of carbohydrate powder, hundreds of prohibited drugs and steroids were also recovered."

The raids were carried out at multiple locations on Monday.

Police are questioning the three arrested accused -- Zubair Alam, Arsi and Amil -- to know more about the racket.

"The supply chain is spread wide and deep. It goes to various states, including Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi," the police officer said.

Talking about the ill-effects of fake supplements, he said, "These supplements have high proportions of anabolic steroids like Deca Durabolin, testosterone, androsterone, etc., which immediately and substantially increase muscle mass and athletic power and are banned all over the world particularly in sports.

The presence of these substances can only be traced through urine examination. The abuse of these drugs also leads to kidney ailments and impotency. However, these relatively cheap and fake products are being increasingly used by those who frequent gyms.

According to a study CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy) in 2015, roughly 1/5th of all the packaged food in the market could be counterfeit, posing a serious threat to health.

Tue, 24 Nov 2020 10:14:23 +0530
UNICEF working with over 350 partners to deliver Covid 19 vaccines

United Nations, The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is working with more than 350 partners, including major airlines, shipping lines and logistics associations from around the world, to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to over 92 countries, as soon as doses become available, the agency said on Monday.

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF Supply Division, highlighted the importance of the partnership to ensure capacity for the massive undertaking, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"As work continues to develop Covid-19 vaccines, UNICEF is stepping up efforts with airlines, freight operators, shipping lines and other logistics associations to deliver life-saving vaccines as quickly and safely as possible," she said.

"This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation. We need all hands on deck as we get ready to deliver Covid-19 vaccine doses, syringes and more personal protective equipment to protect front line workers around the globe," the UNICEF official added.

To kick-start preparations, UNICEF along with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) briefed major global airlines last week on the expected capacity requirements and discussed ways to transport close to 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine doses next year. This is in addition to the 1 billion syringes that need to be transported by sea-freight.

In the coming weeks, UNICEF is also assessing existing transport capacity to identify gaps and future requirements, said the agency.

"The procurement, delivery and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is anticipated to be the largest and fastest such operation ever undertaken," it added.

UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and deliver vaccines from manufacturers that have agreements with the COVAX Facility. In collaboration with PAHO, UNICEF will coordinate the purchase and delivery for 92 low- and lower middle-income economies as quickly and securely as possible.

The efforts build on UNICEF's longstanding efforts with the logistics industry to transport supplies around the world despite restrictions related to the pandemic. Since January, it has delivered over 190 million U.S. dollars worth of Covid-19 supplies such as masks, gowns, oxygen concentrators and diagnostic test kits to support countries as they respond to the pandemic.

As the largest single purchaser of vaccines in the world, UNICEF normally procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.

This unparalleled expertise includes the coordination of thousands of shipments with various cold chain requirements, making the UN agency an expert in supply chain management of temperature-controlled products, which is especially needed during this historic undertaking.

Tue, 24 Nov 2020 10:12:05 +0530
Panipat SP two cops booked for abetment to suicide

Chandigarh, Nov 23

The Haryana Police has booked its Superintendent of Police Manisha Choudhary and two other cops on charges to abetment to suicide a former municipal councillor of Panipat town, officials said on Monday.

The case was registered under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint given of victim Harish Sharma's daughter, who alleged that her father was harassed by police officials, comprising Choudhary, who is posted in Panipat.

Sharma had allegedly committed suicide by jumped into the canal on November 19.

The family claimed that Harish was mentally disturbed since a case was registered against him and his councillor daughter along with 10 people for selling crackers on Diwali night.

His body was fished out from Delhi parallel canal in Sonepat district on Sunday.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala slammed the Haryana government over the incident, saying Sharma was "forced to take the extreme step due to the alleged harassment by the state authorities".


Mon, 23 Nov 2020 18:10:08 +0530
Market opens higher Sensex hits fresh high

Mumbai, Nov 23

The key Indian equity indices opened in the green on Monday with the BSE Sensex touching a new record high within just minutes into the trade.

Healthy buying was witnessed in metal, energy and oil and gas stocks.

Sensex touched an all-time high of 44,271.15 points.

Around 9.25 a.m., it was trading at 44,134.49, higher by 252.24 points or 0.57 per cent from its previous close of 43,882.25.

It opened at 44,164.17 and has touched an intra-day low of 44,094.54 points

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,930.85, higher by 71.80 points or 0.56 per cent from its previous close.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:41:27 +0530
Israel army thwarts bomb attack in West Bank

Jerusalem, Nov 23

 The Israeli army has said that it thwarted a Palestinian attempt to carry out an attack against soldiers in the occupied West Bank using makeshift bombs.

The incident took place near the village of Al-Mughayyir in northeast of Ramallah city, reports Xinhua news agency.

An Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday that during "routine searches" in the area, troops spotted improvised explosive devices.

The explosives were "camouflaged in order to harm IDF (Israel Defence Forces) troops," said the statement.

Police explosive specialties were dispatched to the scene to neutralize the bombs.

No injuries or damages were reported.

The West Bank was seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and controlled by it ever since, despite international criticism.

The Palestinians wish to build their future state on these lands.

Over the past years, Palestinians have carried out sporadic attacks against Israeli security officers and settlers in the West Bank, but these attacks have recently decreased, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:37:58 +0530
The Undertaker says final farewell to WWE Universe

Stamford (the US), Nov 23 

Wrestling legend The Undertaker has laid his stellar career to rest with an emotional farewell at Survivor Series.

The Undertaker, whose real name is Mark Calaway, had made his WWE debut at Survivor Series on November 22, 1990. And exactly 20 year later on Sunday, he walked down to the WWE ring for the final time in his career while remaining in his character.

Shane McMahon, Big Show, JBL, Jeff Hardy, Mick Foley, The Godfather, The Godwinns, Savio Vega, Rikishi, Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Kane entered WWE ThunderDome to show adulation to Undertaker, followed by McMahon sharing a warm homage to one of the most legendary Superstars in WWE history.

The 55-year-old's last match in WWE was at WrestleMania 36 when he and AJ Styles fought in a Boneyard match in April in which 'The Deadman' had emerged victorious.

In an interview to IANS last week, The Undertaker had said that he was proud of his career and couldn't have asked for more in terms of accomplishments and love he received from the fans.

"I have wrestled all over the world. I have wrestled against almost every wrestler of my generation. When I look back at my career, I have experienced so much and was able to do so much that I can easily look back and say that I haven't missed anything, be it a match against a wrestler or anything," The Undertaker had said.

"After 30 years of career in wrestling, there's not a whole life that I didn't get to accomplish. I am very proud of my career. It's very humbling to know that you have an effect on people and their everyday lives. When you are wrestling, you are into the zone and don't realise the effect you are having on the lives of people. Sometimes, you give them hope, sometimes you give them the courage to do something during their difficult times," he pointed out.

John Cena took to Twitter to pay tribute to The Undertaker and said: "After three decades of The Undertaker committing wholeheartedly to the WWE, tonight we bear witness to the end of an extraordinary body of work. For all the in ring moments and as a member of the WWE Universer, I say #ThankYouTaker! #SurvivorSeries #Undertaker30."

Dwayne Johnson said he was 'honoured' to share the ring with 'The Deadman'.

"30 years ago today, he made his iconic #SurvivorSeries debut. Like EVERYONE - I was in awe as a rookie in the WWE when his first words pierced my soul as he walked in the dressing room and said, "Muthafucka" True story. Honored to share the ring with you, my brother," 'The Rock' tweeted.

During his stellar career, The Undertaker participated in some of the greatest matches in history against Hall of Famers such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley. He had multiple WWE Championship reigns and held an unmatched and astounding undefeated streak at WrestleMania that lasted 21 years.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:35:17 +0530
Ravi Shankar Prasad to inaugurate global virtual conference on law schools

New Delhi, Nov 23

Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is presenting truly international, first-of-its-kind global academic Conference from November 25-27 on the theme ‘Reimagining & Transforming the Future of Law Schools and Legal Education: Confluence of Ideas During & Beyond COVID-19.

The Conference will be inaugurated by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law and Justice. The Inauguration ceremony will also have a keynote address delivered by Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner of one of India's leading law firms, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas.

This conference aims to bring together nearly 170 thought leaders from 6 continents and over 35 countries over 30 thematic sessions and two keynote addresses to reimagine the future of legal education.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court of India will deliver the Constitution Day lecture on November 26. Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu & Kashmir will deliver the keynote address in the Constitution Day Forum on November 26.

Justice U.U. Lalit, Judge, Supreme Court of India to will deliver the Presidential Address and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Member of Parliament will deliver the Valedictory Address on November 27.

"In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, it is very important for leaders of legal education from all over the world to come together to re-define the future of legal education which will impact the future of students, academics, and institutions. Jindal Global Law School wanted to live up to its commitment to generate important dialogues with a global perspective. This conference is an outcome of that very vision. We are deeply humbled to have an extraordinary forum of nearly 170 thought leaders from over 35 countries including Law School Deans, Scholars, Supreme Court Judges, Lawyers, Law Firm Partners and representation from all spheres of the legal profession and legal education. We look forward to this conference by bringing a comprehensive and inclusive perspective on the future of legal education, creating the desired response of the legal community to the ongoing pandemic." said C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University & Founding Dean, Jindal Global Law School.

On the very special occasion of India's Constitution Day, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court of India will deliver a special Constitution Day Lecture. This lecture will be Presided over by Upendra Baxi, Research Professor of Law and a Distinguished Scholar, Jindal Global Law School, who will deliver the Presidential Address. Also, the Constitution Day Forum will pay a special tribute to the women leaders in the world of law, as a part of which there will be a Keynote Address by Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, a special address by Pallavi Shroff, Managing Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, and a Presidential Address by Geeta Ramaseshan, Advocate, Madras High Court.

The Conference will be concluded in the esteemed presence of distinguished members of the Indian Judiciary and the Legal Profession. The Valedictory Address will be delivered by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Member of Parliament, and the Presidential Address will be delivered by Justice U.U. Lalit, Judge, Supreme Court of India.

"We are truly excited and grateful to have leaders from all spheres of the world of law with us at this Conference to create a truly global response to the ongoing pandemic. From the academic community over 100 Vice Chancellors, Current and Former Deans, Principals, Heads, Directors and other Senior Leaders of Law Schools will be speaking at this event. This Conference will also be honoured by the presence of 8 Judges from India, Singapore, Tanzania and the United States of America which includes 6 Former and Current Supreme Court Judges of India and USA. All the leaders will reflect and deliberate across 3 days of the Conference to reimagine the future of legal education," said S.G. Sreejith, Executive Dean, Jindal Global Law School.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:30:50 +0530
India s expectations from Biden Presidency

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his success and used the occasion to emphasise on the importance of strategic partnership between the two countries. There is little doubt that the change of regime in the US will not affect the tested foundations of this friendship that were in fact laid with Obama administration declaring India as a major defence partner of the US.

The deep convergence that Modi government struck with the US in the Presidentship of Donald Trump on most matters relating to security and economic development established a bench mark in Indo- US relationship and this will have to be sustained by the two sides through a new set of interactive meetings at various levels.

Much water has flown down the bridge since the times of Obama-Biden rule in US and the government of Dr Manmohan Singh in India -the geo- political changes revolving round Xi Jinping's China and the transition of 'war on terror' to a broader global conflict between Islamic radicals and the US -led West, warrant a new effort by the two nations to steer the democratic world towards greater safety and security. India would keenly watch President Joe Biden unfolding his foreign policy agenda. So far he has not spoken on Pakistan or on the rise of Islamic militancy on the latter's soil. Also, his approach to China may be firm without replicating the hard line of Trump while in respect of Putin's Russia- with whom Trump seemed to have an even tie - Biden's view is that the former superpower is an adversary that should be made to pay for its alleged interference in the last US election. Unlike Trump who was cool towards Europe, Biden wants to restore American ties with it- this fits in with his attitude towards Russia. Biden does not share the visceral dislike of Islamic militancy that Trump displayed through his tenure. The stand of the Democrat President on Pakistan, China and Afghanistan will therefore be of great strategic interest for India.

The President elect has in his statements and write ups focused entirely on the domestic scene that prevails in the US in the aftermath of a bitterly contested election and pledged to unite the nation, get on with the effective handling of Covid and work for restoring 'decency' in America's socio-political life. It is a fact that the political divide has been sharpened by ideological, demographic and class polarisation cumulatively caused by the appeal of America First, economic downturn resulting from the pandemic and the tensions on the street generated by the campaigns. Some analysts term this as the after effect of 'Trumpism' on American politics. The democratic environ at home will reestablish itself with passage of time but for the world outside, particularly India, Biden's foreign policy package would be eagerly awaited as that would have to define the new regime's stand on a vast spectrum of global hot spots like America's trans- Pacific policy, security of Indo- Pacific, trade imbalance between US and China, peace in Afghanistan and climate change. President Trump would be remembered for breaking from the traditional polity to confront the new challenges of the present, for shifting the focus from the international politics to the economic situation of Americans at home and for being straightforward about not letting the growing threat of Islamic militancy reach the US soil again.

An area of possible strain for India could crop up in the Biden administration at some point of time because of the ideological proneness of a Democrat dispensation to getting easily influenced by the motivated campaign of liberal lobbyists who had lately become active also against Modi government in India -particularly in its second spell. A politically inspired combine is forming in India around the so called left liberals including Maoists, practitioners of minority politics who ran down nationalism and some sections of the opposition, with the aim of somehow pulling down the Modi rule. This axis is rapidly linking up with forces outside - led by the Pak lobby against India- and building a narrative that human rights were in jeopardy in the Modi regime. It is significant that this anti-Modi 'alliance' has suddenly assumed a high profile in Kashmir - well after the completion of an year since the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution by the Indian Parliament. It comprises the pro-Pak separatists, the valley based politicians seeking to benefit from an anti- India stance and some forces in the national opposition. They are inclined to invite the intervention of the Sino-Pak alliance to keep Kashmir separated from India. Somewhere these desperate elements might be thinking that a democrat regime in US - unlike the Trump presidency- would be easier to influence with a narrative of 'suppression of Kashmiris'. If the past conduct of Pakistan is an indicator a desperate attempt would be made by that country also to precipitate violence in Kashmir to draw attention of the new US President. India will no doubt take an early opportunity to convey it to the Biden administration that the problem in Jammu and Kashmir- that was an integral part of India -was one of infiltration of Mujahideen by Pakistan from across the LoC and not of democratic pro-development governance of the state that the Centre was now ensuring. If necessary Biden-Harris leadership would have to be reminded that there was no room for a third party intervention in the affairs of Kashmir.

The big picture about the likely course of Indo- US relationship under Biden regime is that the strategic partnership between the two countries will remain undiminished at the level of complete interoperability and exchange of military intelligence that had already been reached- this is primarily because the two largest democracies do share a common threat from an ambitious China. However, in respect of the forces of radical Islam which considered the US as their prime enemy, ambiguities may arise if the Democrat leader underestimates the potential for global disruption that Pakistan- known to be harbouring Islamic extremists and radicals on its soil- carried today. The old legacy of American administration looking at Pakistan as an 'ally' who had ensured success of the anti- Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan and therefore ignoring the Pak mischief of unleashing cross border terrorism against India in Kashmir, might play out again because of the reliance Biden might still put on the 'helpful' role of Pakistan in Afghanistan. Indian diplomacy is on test on Afghanistan since Pakistan with its special relationship with Taliban could regain its say at the cost of democratisation of that country and to the detriment of India's strategic interest there.

It is good that former President Barak Obama has in his just published book revealed that Pakistan Army knew of the hideout near Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was living before the American SEALs took him out in a covert operation conducted at the back of that army. Indian diplomacy has this challenge of counselling the new policy makers in US of the increasing hold of radicalisation in the Muslim world- enlarged by the trio of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia acting as its patron and doing this at the cost of US-led West, ultimately. The threat of faith-based terror arising from within the Muslim world should not be allowed to be diluted - the experience of Europe in recent times and the play of Islamic card by Pakistan in South Asia should be taken note of. Interactions between US and India at the official level as also through credible think tanks must adequately focus on this danger of the future facing the democratic world. Once it is understood that the problem in Kashmir was caused by the plan of Pakistan to replicate the Afghan Jehad there to lay claim on the territory and also by the communal agenda of the valley based parties to join hands with the pro- Pak separatists to gain political power, it would become clear that the repeal of temporary Art 370 was necessitated by the desire of India to give the state its due as an integral part of the nation. The valley- based parties have never condemned Pakistan for infiltrating terrorists in Kashmir and China for illegally occupying a large part of undivided J&K and their expression of support for these enemies of India has finally exposed them for what they are- a set of anti- India leaders not deserving of any latitude from this nation.

India should be prepared to face a situation where Biden presidency is fully geared to dealing with Chinese aggressiveness in Indo- Pacific region militarily through QUAD but is not able to see the threat of Sino-Pak collusion against this country with the same alarm. India has to continue building its defence forces to counter any joint mischief by Pakistan and China on our borders even as our military level talks with China for disengagement on LAC in Ladakh are kept up. Also, India has to use all international forums to warn the democratic world against the grave threat of terrorism that it faces on account of the spread of radicalisation not only in the Islamic countries but also in the countries that had significant Muslim minorities. It is also necessary to expose the trend developing in India of pro-Pak lobbies working with the left liberal- anti-Modi opposition combine to play up Minority politics here on issues ranging from CAA to Kashmir. The political calculation that drives this trend is that so long as the majority community was divided in multiple ways the minority was a match winner in an electoral contest. This is the time for reaching out to the minorities with assurances of development without discrimination and equal protection of law to everybody in India on one hand and coming on with a ton of bricks on those who filled the community with exclusivist and communal thoughts and even disparaged the idea of nationalism as a uniting factor for the country, on the other. Biden-Harris team must understand that India puts all citizens on the same footing regardless of creed, class or region and that this was an example other democracies would do well to follow.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:19:16 +0530
PM Modi to review Covid situation with CMs on Tuesday

New Delhi, Nov 23

Amid the rising cases of coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to review the situation on Tuesday with the Chief Ministers, sources said.

Sources also said the Prime Minister will discuss the rollout of the vaccine programme in the states.

He will hold virtual meetings with the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, West Bengal and Kerala.

After this meeting, the Prime Minister is scheduled to discuss the vaccine delivery roll out with all the states and Union Territories.

The Centre is preparing on a war footing the vaccine delivery system as the Covid cases have surpassed nine million. With 44,000 new Covid-19 cases, India's tally reached 91,39,866 on Monday.

According to the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 511 new deaths occured due to the deadly virus in the last 24 hours taking the toll to 1,33,738.

While the active cases stood at 4,43,486, a total of 85,62,641 have recovered from the virus and have been discharged of which 41,024 were discharged in the last 24 hrs.

It is also, however, the 16th straight day when India reported less than 50,000 cases in a day. The last time daily new cases crossed the 50,000-threshold was on November 7.

While the recovery rate stands at a whopping 93.86 per cent, the fatality rate is at 1.46 per cent, the Ministry data revealed.

Maharashtra remains the worst hit state with 82,521 active cases and 46,623 deaths so far. The recoveries in the state stand at 16,51,064.

Apart from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases. National capital is also witnessing a surge. On Sunday, it recorded 6,746 new cases and 121 deaths.

Mon, 23 Nov 2020 10:55:03 +0530
After Twitter Facebook to transfer presidential accounts to Joe Biden

San Francisco,  After Twitter, Facebook has now confirmed it will also transfer the official POTUS account on its platform to President-elect Joe Biden after he is inaugurated on January 20, regardless of whether incumbent leader Donald Trump concedes before that.

Twitter on Friday said it was going to transfer the @POTUS account to Biden the day he is sworn in.

Facebook on Saturday joined the micro-blogging platform in doing the same.

"In 2017, we worked with both the Obama Administration and incoming Trump Administration to make sure the transition of their Facebook and Instagram accounts was seamless on January 20th, and we expect to do the same here," the company said in a statement, reports The Verge.

According to Twitter, all existing tweets on those accounts will be archived and Twitter will transfer the accounts -- reset to zero tweets -- to Biden.

Trump will continue to control his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, after Biden's inauguration.

From January 20 next year, Trump will lose special privileges on Twitter and his tweets will be treated as any other user.

Facebook, however, did not say anything about special privileges.

Sun, 22 Nov 2020 12:55:16 +0530
Resume mining to overcome jobs economy issues CII to Goa govt

Panaji,  The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Goa chapter has emphasised the need for prompt resumption of mining activities in the coastal state to overcome disruption in economy and unemployment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alterations to the National Mineral Policy, phasing out of mining activities from eco-sensitive areas, setting up of a comprehensive regulatory mechanism to deter illegal mining, and effective management of iron ore deposits are some of the key recommendations made by the industry body in a White Paper titled 'Accelerating the Goan Economy - A White Paper'.

"Since the halt on mining in Goa during 2012 and later again in 2018, after only a brief resumption, tourism has been one of the key employment generating sectors. However, with the sudden and highly disruptive emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of Goa's traditional economic engines and employment generators are facing significant challenges," it said.

"Resumption of mining can play a huge role in generating employment and restarting traditional economic engine," it added.

The CII document points out that the National Mineral Policy which has prioritised import substitution, value addition and discourages exports leans in favour of bigger ore-producing states like Karnataka, Jharkhand, and Odisha and is against the interests of Goa which mines low-grade iron ore.

"This is on account of significantly lower ore quality compared with the rest of India, and therefore not suitable for domestic steel production. The export of Goan ore does not burden the national assets, thanks to the excellent inland waterways. The Goa government should therefore press for the removal or reduction of export duty from low-grade Goan iron ore," the White Paper said.

The document has called for regulation of the mining sector, especially near green zones.

"Well-regulated and authorised mining in Goa should be allowed outside the sensitive zones. If it pose any significant threat or danger to a sensitive zone, mining activities should be phased out," the document said, adding, that mines whose ore deposits were exhausted should be rehabilitated as per the Mines and Minerals Regulation and Development Act.

Mining activities in Goa was banned by the apex court in 2012 following the unearthing of a Rs 35,000 crore scam by a judicial commission appointed by the central government. But it was resumed in 2015 with restrictions before it was halted again after the apex court in 2018 found irregularities in the renewal of 88 mining leases.

When the mining industry was at its peak, mining extraction, trade and export accounted for 30 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

Sun, 22 Nov 2020 12:47:31 +0530
Trump campaign to seek expedited appeal of ruling on mail in ballots

Washington,  The re-election campaign of US President Donald Trump has announced that it would seek an expedited appeal after a federal judge in the state of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit which sought to block millions of mail-in ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election.

In a joint statement late Saturday, Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani and the campaign's senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis said that they would seek an expedited appeal to the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals, reports Xinhua news agency.

They said the latest development will help quicken their effort to push the case to the US Supreme Court.

The lawsuit claimed that some counties in Pennsylvania allowed mail-in voters to fix problems with the ballots by casting provisional ballots, which the campaign said were cast illegally for Democrat Joe Biden.

Saturday's ruling by US District Court Judge Matthew Brann was made on the grounds that the lawsuit provided "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence".

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," wrote the judge, who was appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 Electoral College votes, surpassing the 270 votes needed to clinch the presidency.

The watershed moment came on November 7, when Pennsylvania was called for Biden, who now leads Trump in the state by over 81,000 votes, a margin believed to be insurmountable even if those erroneously cast ballots were excluded.

For the Trump campaign, time is ticking away as Pennsylvania is scheduled to certify its election results on Monday, all but certain to grant its 20 Electoral College votes to Biden.

While Biden has claimed victory, Trump launched a slew of litigations challenging the results in states that, in addition to Pennsylvania, also include Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

Most of those efforts have either been withdrawn by the campaign itself or rejected by the courts, which cited the lack of proof as the reason.

On Friday, Georgia certified the results of the election following the full hand recount, making it official that Biden won the state's 16 electoral votes.

The recount of roughly five million votes found that the former Vice President received 12,284 more votes than the President in the traditional Republican stronghold.

Most counties saw only minor changes in their tallies, with the recount vote totals differing by single digits.

A federal law sets what is called the "Safe Harbor" deadline, falling on December 8 this year, the day by which states must submit the winner of the presidential election if they are to be insulated from legal disputes.

Electoral College representatives will meet six days later, on December 14, to formally select the next US President.

Sun, 22 Nov 2020 12:38:35 +0530
India reports less than 50K new corona cases for 15 straight days

New Delhi,  India reported less than 50,000 new single-day coronavirus cases for the 15th consecutive day on Sunday as its total tally reached 90,95,806.

With 45,209 new cases and 43,493 more patients discharged in last 24 hours, the country's active cases totalled 4,40,962, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data said. As many as 85,21,617 persons have recovered so far from the disease.

In all 501 more fatalities in the last 24 hours took its death toll to 1,33,227.

The last time the daily new cases crossed the 50,000-mark was November 7.

While India's recovery rate is 1.46 per cent, the fatality rate is 1.46 per cent, the data said.

Maharashtra remains the worst-hit state with 80,878 active cases and 46,573 deaths so far. The recoveries in the state total 16,47,004.

Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka also reported high number of cases, while states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal witnessed a surge in infection too.

According Indian Council of Medical Research data, 10,75,326 more samples were tested on Saturday. So far, 13,17,33,134 samples have been tested across the country.

For the second day in a row, recovered patients outnumbered new infections by 1,084 in Delhi, yet the number of fatalities remained a cause of worry.

The national capital reported 5,879 new infections and 6,963 more recoveries in the last 24 hours. However, Delhi's fatalities totalled 111, Delhi government data showed.

Across the world, 5,80,95,887 persons were infected across 191 nations, of which the maximum numbers were in the US. The global coronavirus death toll totalled 13,79,839, with maximum reported in the US (2,55,830).

TUS remains the worst-hit country with 1,20,88,409 corona cases, followed by India, Brazil, France and Russia.

Sun, 22 Nov 2020 12:25:14 +0530
Petrol diesel prices rises for 2nd straight day

New Delhi, Nov 21

Oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Saturday raised the retail price of petrol and diesel for the second consecutive day after a break of almost two months.

The price of petrol has increased by 15 paisa per litre in the national capital to Rs 81.38 from Rs 81.23 a litre on Friday. Similarly, retail price of diesel has been increased by 20 paisa per litre to Rs 70.88 per litre in Delhi.

With the price revision, the retail price of both the auto fuels has also been increased across the country but the level of increase is different across the cities due to variable taxation structure pursued by the states.

The increase in petrol and diesel prices was expected as global oil market has shown signs of firming up after positive news on successful introduction of a coronavirus vaccine soon. Moreover, the demand for oil and falling inventory levels in major consuming markets has also firmed up crude price.

The benchmark Brent crude price is hovering close to $45 a barrel for some time now while US WTI crude is also over $42 a barrel. The two have remained firm since the beginning of the month after remaining soft in most parts of October at close to $40 a barrel or less.

OMC sources said that auto fuel hike on Friday and Saturday may not end just yet and the price of the two petroleum products may increase gradually over the next week as well. This is required to keep OMCs from incurring losses on the sale of petrol and diesel.

While India has brought both petrol and diesel out from an earlier administrative price regime and their retail prices are revised daily based on global movement product prices, holding the retail price revision for almost two months was surprising. At a time when globally prices change by the hour, in India it could be kept static for such a long period.

Every dollar increase in price of crude results in retail price of petrol and diesel to be increased by up to 40 paisa per litre. This would mean that the fuel prices should be up by at least Rs 1.20 per litre by now. However, oil companies have kept fuel prices static even when there was a need to revise it downwards last month. That saving prevented OMCs from increasing petrol and diesel prices by a higher margin. Now that the option is exhausted, regular price revision could restart.

Sat, 21 Nov 2020 10:52:54 +0530
Portuguese Prez announces renewal of state of emergency

Lisbon, Nov 21

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced the renewal of the "state of emergency" in the country until December 8 to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I have just decreed the renewal of the state of emergency. The later measures are taken, the less effective they will be," Xinhua news agency quoted the President as saying in a televised address on Friday.

"Despite the slowdown in the growth of cases, the number of deaths, intensive care (patients), inpatients in general is increasing and may reach maximum values between the end of November and the beginning of December," he explained.

The President also warned of a possible third wave of the pandemic, saying: "A third wave is likely to occur between January and February, that will be even worse than we had now."

The renewal of the state of emergency for another 15 days was approved by the Portuguese Parliament on Friday, requiring compulsory confinement or active surveillance of people infected, as well as the total or partial closure of establishments, services and companies.

As of Saturday, Portugal has reported a total of 249,498 coronavirus cases and 3,762 deaths.

Sat, 21 Nov 2020 10:47:56 +0530
UP roadways bus collided with a tree in Delhi 20 injured

New Delhi, Nov 21

A Uttar Pradesh Roadways bus collided with a tree in South-East Delhi's Sukhdev Vihar area near New Friends Colony injuring at least 20 people in the early hours of Saturday. The driver of the bus absconded after the accident.

At about 3:22 am a call about accident near Sukhdev Vihar was received in Police station NFC. The police team rushed to the spot immediately.

"A UP roadways bus collided with a tree on Mathura road opposite CRRI office, near CNG pump. Bus was coming from Bah, Agra and enroute to ISBT Sarai Kale Khan. Many people were injured," said R.P. Meena, DCP South-East Delhi.

Local police shifted the injured to Trauma Centre, AIIMS. PCR and CATS ambulances also reached on the spot.

A case of accident has been registered and investigation is in progress.

"The driver of the bus is at large. The Agra depot officials have been informed in this regard," the officer added.

Sat, 21 Nov 2020 10:45:39 +0530
ISL 2020 21 Football takes centre stage in new normal India

Panjim, Nov 20

When ATK took on Chennaiyin FC in the last Indian Super League (ISL) season's final, the Covid-19 pandemic was just starting to become a frightening reality across the country. Played behind closed doors, the final was one of the last sporting events held in the country before normal life essentially shut down.

Fast forward eight months, ISL will become the first major sporting event in the country to return in the daily lives of people as the action unfolds in Goa starting Friday with the tournament opener between Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan. Once again, there will be no fans with all teams converging in Goa under the protection of a bio-secure bubble.

But that won't be the only thing different about this season.

For starters, the 2020-21 season will be the biggest ISL to date, with the addition of SC East Bengal taking the total number of teams to 11 and the number of matches to 115, up from 95 last season.

East Bengal's entry and defending champions ATK's merger with Mohun Bagan mean that two of the oldest names in Indian football will go head-to-head in the ISL for the first time. The much awaited Kolkata Derby in ISL will kick off on November 27.

"After the fixtures came out, we have been told about the derby and how big the derby is," new East Bengal recruit and former Norwich City star Anthony Pilkington was quoted as saying in an ISL media release. "So, I really cannot wait to get the season going and it is going to be really exciting I am sure."

Fans will be able to see a number of exciting new stars on their television screens, with the likes of former Reading striker Adam le Fondre and former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor deciding to make the trip to India. Others, like last season's joint top scorer Nerijus Valskis, who has now joined Jamshedpur FC, and India's rock-at-the-back Sandesh Jhingan, who signed for ATK Mohun Bagan, will exchange their old jerseys for new ones.

And while fans will have to stay at home, the three stadiums hosting matches this season in Goa -- Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, GMC Stadium in Bambolim, and Tilak Maidan in Vasco -- will not be devoid of their presence. The innovative 'fan wall' concept will see home and away fans cheer on their teams through two LED screens mounted in the stadiums.

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:47:19 +0530
I didn t realise I had effect on people s daily lives The Undertaker

New Delhi, Nov 20

Wrestling legend The Undertaker, who is all set to bid adieu to the arena, is proud of his career which spanned over three decades and feels he couldn't have asked for more in terms of accomplishments and love he received from the fans.

"I have wrestled all over the world. I have wrestled against almost every wrestler of my generation. When I look back at my career, I have experienced so much and was able to do so much that I can easily look back and say that I haven't missed anything, be it a match against a wrestler or anything," The Undertaker told IANS in an interview.

"After 30 years of career in wrestling, there's not a whole life that I didn't get to accomplish. I am very proud of my career. It's very humbling to know that you have an effect on people and their everyday lives. When you are wrestling, you are into the zone and don't realise the effect you are having on the lives of people. Sometimes, you give them hope, sometimes you give them the courage to do something during their difficult times," he pointed out.

The Undertaker, whose real name is Mark Calaway, had made his WWE debut at Survivor Series on November 22, 1990.

Ever since making his debut with Brother Love, The Undertaker participated in some of the greatest matches in history against Hall of Famers such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley.

The 55-year-old's last match in WWE was at WrestleMania 36 when he and AJ Styles fought in a Boneyard match in April in which The Deadman had emerged victorious.

When asked about what he will miss the most about WWE post his retirement, The Undertaker said: "The hardest part for me would be not to hear that music, the light going out and the reception from the fans whenever I entered the ring. That's something I am going to miss the most because that has been something which has sustained me for so long."

If he were not The Undertaker, Calaway said he would've wanted to play the character of Rick Flair in WWE. "It would be very tough not to be Rick Flair. He was the epitome of success, a world champion. I always felt that Rick Flair's character was so over the top which actually he is not. He is the bar which guys of my generation measured themselves with."

During his illustrious career, The Undertaker had multiple WWE Championship reigns and held an unmatched and astounding undefeated streak at WrestleMania that lasted 21 years.

However, one thing which he wishes he had was an extended program with AJ Styles, his last opponent in WrestleMania.

"Although I am proud of the Boneyard match, I wished I could have a "traditional" kind of match with AJ Styles in a wrestling ring. I told him on several occasions: 'Man, I wish you could've been here 10-15 years earlier'."

"I love the way he works and what he does in the ring. I have called him the modern-day Shawn Michaels. I would have really loved to have an extended program with AJ Styles," he said.

The wrestling legend believes the current WWE misses the storytelling part, something which, according to him, is the root of what wrestlers are supposed to do.

"Storytelling is the root to what we do. It is something which I tell the young talent who are unbelievably fit, but what we do is storytelling and that's the most important thing in my opinion," he said.

"It is not about the wrestling moves, it's about the moves that help us tell our story. That's what captivates and keeps people interested. To me, it starts and finishes with a story," he added.

When asked about his plans after retirement, he said: "I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet. When I look back, I am still amazed that I have been there for 30 plus years with wrestling."

"I don't think I am not going to be a part of the WWE.

"One of the things that really interests me a lot is paying it forward, working with the talent that is coming up and trying to give them something of my insights and something from my experience. I think there's a lot of what I did, aspects to storytelling, which is missing in today's games. So, I think that's where I can be an asset for the next generation guys," he added.

The wrestling legend also plans to meet in person his fans a bit more often now that he will not be as busy with the fights.

"Although I may not be in the ring very often, I will still be around."

The Undertaker will be returning to the WWE this weekend at Survivor Series, as part of his final farewell which airs in India on November 23 at 5.30 a.m. on Sony Network.


Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:44:47 +0530
Train To Busan sequel Peninsula has emotions in action scenes

New Delhi, Nov 20

Filmmaker Yeon Sung-ho says he infused emotions in the action scenes of his upcoming Korean zombie thriller, Peninsula, because he was confident that actor Gang Dong-won will be able to pull it off.

"Peninsula" is a sequel to the 2016 global hit, "Train To Busan". Also starring Lee Jung- hyun, the sequel is set four years after the virus outbreak in Korea as shown in "Train To Busan", and follows a former soldier who is sent along with his team to retrieve a truck full of money from the wastelands of the Korean peninsula, which is now inhabited by zombies.

"We created a character only Gang Dong-won can pull off by asserting plenty of emotions even in action scenes. Emotions conveyed with his eyes are so full that you can't help but get sucked in," Sung-ho said.

Talking about getting Jung-hyun on board, the director said: "For the role of Min-jung, Lee Jung-hyun was the first actress I thought of."

To this, Lee added: "I was so incredibly happy that the character I envisioned, from concept to styling, matched to the tee with what Director YEON was thinking of."

The film is being released in India by Zee Studios and Kross Pictures. It will open on November 27.


Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:33:14 +0530
FB awards 1 98mn to researchers for findings bugs in 2020

New Delhi, Nov 20

Facebook awarded over $1.98 million to researchers from more than 50 countries this year for reporting bugs on its platforms and the biggest bug bounty of $80,000 was given for identifying a low impact issue in its Content Delivery Network (CDN).

The top three countries based on bounties awarded this year are India, Tunisia and the US, Facebook said in a statement on Thursday.

"Since 2011, we've received more than 130,000 reports, of which over 6,900 were awarded a bounty. This year, we received around 17,000 reports in total, and issued bounties on over 1,000 reports," Facebook informed.

The Facebook bug bounty programme helps it detect and fix issues faster.Over the past 10 years, more than 50,000 researchers joined this programme and around 1,500 researchers from 107 countries were awarded a bounty.

Security researcher Selamet Hariyanto identified a low impact issue in Facebook CDN, a global network of servers that deliver content to people accessing its platform around the world.

"After fixing this bug, our internal researchers found a rare scenario where a very sophisticated attacker could have escalated to remote code execution," Facebook said.

This fall, Natalie Silvanovich of Google's Project Zero reported a bug that could have allowed a attacker logged in on Messenger for Android to simultaneously initiate a call and send an unintended message type to someone logged in on Messenger for Android and another Messenger client (i.e. web browser).

"After fixing the reported bug server-side, our security researchers applied additional protections against this issue across our apps that use the same protocol for 1:1 calling. This report is among our three highest bug bounties at $60,000, which reflects its maximum potential impact," the social network said.

Facebook recently launched Bug Description Language, a tool that helps researchers quickly build a test environment to show how it can reproduce the bug.

"We also created Hacker Plus, our own rewards programme, to add bonuses, badges, early access to soon-to-be-released products and features, exclusive invites to bug bounty events, and more. Since its launch just last month, we've awarded $40,000 in bonuses".

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:29:35 +0530
Summer of 2021 will be almost normal Bill Gates

New York, Nov 20

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes that a "lot of things" will be back to "normal" by the summer of 2021 if Covid-19 vaccine approvals don't turn up any nasty surprises.

"Very likely by the summer, a lot of things will be back to normal... If vaccine approvals come along quickly," Gates said in a television interview on Thursday night.

Two vaccines, one each from Pfizer and Moderna, have already turned up more than 90 per cent efficacy results and are moving fast towards applying for emergency use approval.

The first vaccinations are tipped to begin in the US late December.

"We will be able to go back to offices and open up those restaurants and bars and say okay, we are in a completely different stage than right now," Gates said about his summer of 2021 vision.

He thinks a 2021 school year that is "completely normal" is within reach.

"We can get the whole country, every city back in school. I think that's achievable and a very important goal to have in mind," Gates told CNN.

He spoke in some detail about the "daunting" work of distributing the vaccines which are round the corner.

"The urgency and the numbers are pretty daunting. You know if you end up with all today's vaccines, we need over 10 billion doses to get to a high percentage of the world," Gates said.

Gates' remarks come at a time when the US is experiencing its worst coronavirus surge in months, with daily cases smashing records day after day. The US has the world's highest coronavirus caseload and death toll.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $350 million to support the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:25:35 +0530
Centre s reforms can raise medium term growth rate Fitch Ratings

New Delhi, Nov 20

Global ratings agency Fitch expects that the Centre's reform agenda in response to the coronavirus pandemic shock has the potential to raise India's medium-term growth rate.

Nevertheless, the agency pointed out, there are also downside pressures to growth and that it will take time to assess "whether the reforms are implemented effectively".

"In recent years, the Indian authorities' strategy to keep the public debt ratio and broader public finances under control has relied heavily on expectations of sustained and rapid nominal GDP growth," the ratings agency said.

"The pandemic will slow the medium-term growth, as we believe that damaged corporate balance sheets will dampen investment for years. Renewed asset-quality challenges in banks and generally fragile liquidity for non-bank financial companies could also constrain growth prospects and jeopardise the stability of the medium-term government debt or GDP trajectory."

Accordingly, it said, raising medium-term growth rates under these circumstances will require reforms to support investment and boost productivity.

"We noted the GDP growth outlook as a key rating sensitivity when we revised the Outlook on India's 'BBB-' rating to 'Negative' from 'Stable' in June," Fitch Ratings said.

"Several reforms passed by Parliament since the pandemic set in could lift medium-term growth prospects. The most notable are agricultural reforms to give farmers more flexibility over where to sell their produce."

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:20:38 +0530
Scottish writer Douglas Stuart s Shuggie Bain wins 2020 Booker Prize

London, Nov 20

Scottish writer Douglas Stuart's "Shuggie Bain" was on Thursday evening named the winner of the 50,000 pounds 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction, at the heart of which are the memories he carries of his mother's struggle with drink, with men and with her modest dreams, at the culmination of a star-studded "ceremony without walls" at London's Roundhouse.

"'Shuggie Bain' is destined to be a classic - a moving, immersive and nuanced portrait of a tight-knit social world, its people and its values," Jury Chair Margaret Busby said while naming Stuart the winner from among the six authors, among them Indian-origin writer Anvi Doshi, who had been shortlisted for the Prize, which is awarded to the best original novel in English published in the UK and Ireland in the previous year.

"Gracefully and powerfully written, this is a novel that has impact because of its many emotional registers and its compassionately realised characters. The poetry in Douglas Stuart's descriptions and the precision of his observations stand out: nothing is wasted," Busby added.

Stuart, 44, told the BBC he was "absolutely stunned" to win.

Dedicating the book and his prize to his mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16, he said the book was "a love story looking at that unconditional, often tested love that children can have for flawed parents".

"I'm sorry if I make it sound like a bleak book, it's actually very funny, it's tender and there's a lot of intimacy and love. I think that's the Glaswegian spirit. Growing up in Glasgow was, I think, probably one of the greatest inspirations of my life," he said.

The novel, set in the Thatcherite Glasgow of the 1980s, follows the life of Agnes Bain, who is descending into despair and struggling with alcohol after the breakdown of her marriage.

All but one of her children have been driven away by her deterioration, and that child, Shuggie, struggles to help Agnes while suffering huge personal problems of his own.

"Part of the reason Shuggie is queer is because I am queer and I grew up in Glasgow. I also liked the balance Shuggie offered to Agnes because it's really about how these two are receding from the world, and how they cling to each other and rely on each other," Stuart added.

"For 30 years, I've carried a lot of loss and love and pain, so I wanted to say what it is like... to write this has been hugely cathartic", he said.

Stuart said he would like to give his fellow nominees "a hug" and that the "greatest gift" was being able to "touch readers' lives".

The ceremony was broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, BBC iPlayer and BBC Arts Digital. It was hosted by BBC Radio 4's John Wilson and included contributions from The Duchess of Cornwall, former US President Barack Obama, and three former Booker Prize winners: Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

"It's no easy task to write a book," former US President Barack Obama, whose memoir "A Promised Land" has just been published, said in a message, adding that writing "helps in putting ourselves in other peoples' shoes".

The six books on the shortlist were:

The New Wilderness by Diana Cook (Oneworld Publications)

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber & Faber)

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate Books)

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Originals, Daunt Books Publishing)

After Margaret Busby had announced Douglas Stuart's win, he appeared via a special screen to be awarded the prize and deliver an acceptance speech. He received a trophy, a designer-bound edition of his book and a further 2,500 pounds for being shortlisted.

Margaret Busby was joined on the 2020 judging panel by Lee Child, author; Sameer Rahim, author and critic; Lemn Sissay, writer and broadcaster; and Emily Wilson, classicist and translator.

Shuggie Bain is Stuart's first novel. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, he moved to New York to start a career in fashion design, working for brands including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Gap. He started writing in his spare time a decade ago. His work has since appeared in LitHub and in The New Yorker, which has published two of his short stories this year.

Stuart said in an interview for The Booker Prize website that the 1994 Booker winner "How Late It Was, How Late" by James Kelman changed his life because it was one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page. He is currently finishing his second novel, "Loch Awe", also set in Glasgow.

Stuart will take part in his first official public event as winner for Southbank Centre on Monday (November 23) as part of its "Inside Out" series, interviewed by Bernardine Evaristo, the joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

He will also be interviewed by author and former prize judge Natalie Haynes for the Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend on Friday (November 27). Guardian Live will host a Book Club for "Shuggie Bain" in 2021.

As part of The Booker Prize's continuing partnership with Doncaster Creates dynamic arts programme, there will be a virtual Open Mic night on Thursday (November 26) hosted by 2020 Booker judge, writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and 2017 shortlisted author Fiona Mozley; both will read passages from their work alongside Doncaster writers. As both the finale and legacy of the partnership, Fiona Mozley will lead the search for a Doncaster New Writer whom she will mentor. The writer will be announced in January 2021.

The Booker Prizes podcast series will be releasing a winner podcast, featuring an interview with Douglas Stuart, available from Wednesday (November 25).

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:18:51 +0530
New age actors redefine stardom propped by OTT wave

New Delhi, Nov 20

Gone are the days when stardom used to be more about image and less about the craft. A breed of new-age stars in Bollywood are not only redefining and reinventing the content library of the entertainment world, but also scripting new-age stardom.

The change is being driven by the ever-expanding world of digital entertainment in India, which comes with the power to shun the concept of over-the-top stardom with cliched content.

Today, stars have the liberty to take risks, break image and come out of comfort zone, all thanks to the booming OTT scene in India. It gives them a bigger playground to break ground, court instant fame and be a part of this whole changing system.

"With OTT coming in, I believe everything is about actors, about playing different characters and about playing them well. I hope there are actors getting better opportunities -- that you are cast not because you are a star but because you are apt for the role. I hope OTT brings this trend rather than again making stars out of people who are artists," said actress Kirti Kulhari, who has found a new standing as an actor mainly thanks to her digital shows with "Four More Shots Please!" and "Bard Of Blood".

The movement was started by Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the late Irrfan Khan in the new era, and the cue was picked up by Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal and Rajkummar Rao. The success of these actors have prompted a new genre of artistes in the realm of Hindi entertainment -- the star born out of on-screen realism.

IANS takes a look at some of the most promising actors in this genre, who are breaking and creating new rules of success and stardom.

Aparshakti Khurana

He started out in films as a comedian and is now gearing up for his solo debut as a hero. From "Dangal", "Badrinath Ki Dulhania", "Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi", and "Stree" to his latest release "Luka Chuppi", Aparshakti, the younger brother of Ayushmann Khurrana, has made his presence felt in the narrative irrespective of the length of the supportive characters. Now, he is looking forward to his first solo hero project, the social comedy "Helmet".

Divyenndu Sharma

Divyenndu Sharma was noticed in the role of Liquid in the 2011 release, "Pyaar Ka Punchnama", and went on to star in films like "Chashme Baddoor", "Dilliwali Zaalim Girlfriend", "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha" and "Batti Gul Meter Chalu". He has attained major fandom as Munna bhaiya from the web-series "Mirzapur". Now, Divyenndu is looking forward to the web series "Bicchoo Ka Khel".

Vijay Varma

Vijay made his acting debut in 2012 with "Chittagong". He was then seen in films like "Rangrezz", "Monsoon Shootout", "Raag Desh" and "Manto". It was only in 2019 that he found fame, after he featured in the Ranveer Singh-starrer "Gully Boy". Ever since his breakthrough performance as Moen Bhai in "Gully Boy", he has been flooded with work, from starring in Zoya Akhtar's segment in "Ghost Stories", Tiger Shroff-led "Baaghi 3", the web series "She", Mira Nair's "A Suitable Boy" to the second season of "Mirzapur".

"I think I got content as soon as I found the recognition that I was so craving for, which I feel I was rightfully deserving. It's been nice," Vijay told IANS.

Priyanshu Painyuli

Actor Priyanshu Painyuli did the film "Bhavesh Joshi Superhero", and went on to explore the digital space. His performance in the recent second season of the web show "Mirzapur" has been a talking point, after he played the role of a Bangladeshi crime lord in Sam Hargrave's directorial debut "Extraction", starring Chris Hemsworth. At the moment, he is working on "Rashmi Rocket", which also stars Taapsee Pannu.

Siddhant Chaturvedi

He roared as the rap star MC Sher in "Gully Boy", and life has never been the same for him. Before his big break, he featured in "Life Sahi Hai" and "Inside Edge". The actor already has much-hyped three films in his bag. He teams up with Deepika Padukone in an untitled upcoming film that also stars Ananya Panday. With Katrina Kaif and Ishaan Khatter, he will share screen space in the horror comedy "Phone Bhoot". He will also be seen in the sequel of the 2005 hit, "Bunty Aur Babli".

Rasika Dugal

She has featured in critically acclaimed films such as "Qissa", "Manto" and "Hamid", but her role as bold Beena Tripathi in web show "Mirzapur" made her a household name. Her role of a young police officer in "Delhi Crime" added to her popularity. She also starred in "Out Of Love", which revolved around marriage, infidelity and insecurity.

Shweta Tripathi Sharma

She impressed as an upper caste girl in the 2015 film "Masaan", and went on to do a few films. She caught the attention of fans as Golu in the series "Mirzapur". She also showed her versatility in web series like "Made In Heaven" and "The Gone Game", and the web movie, "Cargo".

Radhika Apte

She is famously called the "Netflix girl" by netizens due to her association with the OTT platform. Radhika has acted in films such as "Badlapur", "Phobia", "Pad Man" and "Andhadhun", but her association with Netflix through the anthology film "Lust Stories", the series "Sacred Games" and the limited series "Ghoul", gave her a wider reach.

Pankaj Tripathi

He comes from a theatre background, and proved his mettle in Bollywood first. Be it comic or villainous roles in films like "Stree", "Bareilly Ki Barfi" and "Gangs Of Wasseypur", he has done it all. He became a phenomenon on OTT as the dreaded gangster Kaleen Bhaiyya in the web series "Mirzapur", and "Sacred Games", where he played the power-hungry Guruji.

Gajraj Rao

Gajraj Rao made his Bollywood debut in 1994 with Shekhar Kapur's "Bandit Queen" and was later seen in films like "Dil Se...", "Black Friday", "Talvar" and "Rangoon". But 2018 changed the game for him after he featured in "Badhaai Ho".

"The recognition I am getting now, definitely if I had gotten it 10 years ago I would've felt better about it. I have got it now, it's still a good thing," said the actor, who was last seen in web show "Pariwar".

Amol Parashar

He rose to fame with his character Chitvan Sharma in "TVF Tripling", and was last seen in film "Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare", which stars Bhumi Pednekar and Konkona Sen Sharma in the lead role.

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:14:39 +0530
CBI books UP Shia Waqf Board ex chief in 2 cases

Lucknow, Nov 20

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered two FIRs, naming Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board's former chief Waseem Rizvi and others regarding alleged anomalies in the sale, purchase, and transfer of properties by the Board.

The FIRs were registered late on Thursday evening on the basis of cases lodged at Hazratganj police station on March 27, 2017 and another in Prayagraj in 2016.

The first FIR was registered on the complaint of one Tauseeful Hasan who had alleged that despite the fact that he was 'mutawalli' (caretaker) of a plot in Kanpur, he was deprived of his rights by Rizvi and his aides Vijay Krishna Somani, Naresh Somani, Ghulam Rizvi, and Waqar Raza, who stole original documents of the property.

The CBI booked Rizvi and four others on charges of criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, and criminal intimidation.

In the second FIR, complainant Sudhank Mishra had accused Rizvi of illegally constructing shops at the Imambara on the Old GT Road in Allahabad. On the basis of Mishra's complaints, Rizvi was booked for criminal trespassing.

The state Home Department had recommended a CBI probe into the matter in October 2019.

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 11:08:09 +0530
Bharti Infratel Indus Towers merger complete VIL gets Rs 3 760 Cr

New Delhi, The much-delayed merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers completed on Thursday.

Post the completion of the transaction, Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) has received cash
consideration of Rs. 3,760.1 crore for its 11.15 per cent shareholding in Indus.

"The said transaction had been executed and completed on November 19, 2020 ("VIL closing")," the filing said.

Further, the Board of Bharti Infratel has allotted 757,821 ,804 equity shares of Rs 10 each to the Vodafone group and 87,506,900 equity shares of Rs 10 each to PS Asia Holding Investments (Mauritius) Limited (Providence) aggregating to 28.12 per cent and 3.25 per cent respectively in the post-issue share capital of the company.

"Accordingly, the paid-up equity share capital of the company stands increased to Rs 26,949,369,500 divided into 2,694,936,950 Equity Shares of Rs 10 each fully paid-up," it said.

The board has appointed Bimal Dayal as the CEO of the company eith immediate effect and Manish Dawar will be the CFO with effect from December 1, 2020.

Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:42:56 +0530
WHO warns against remdesivir for Covid 19 treatment

Geneva, The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday warned that the antiviral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat Covid-19 patients no matter how ill they are as there is no evidence it works.

"The panel found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients such as reduced mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and others," Xinhua news agency quoted the WHO's Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel ass aying in a sattement.

"Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains," the panel added.

The WHO recommendation, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on an evidence review that included data from four international randomised trials among more than 7,000 hospitalised patients.

After reviewing the evidence, the panel concluded that remdesivir has no meaningful effect on death rates or other important outcomes for patients.

"Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir... The panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which is not established by the currently available data," it said.

The antiviral is one of only two medicines currently authorized to treat Covid-19 patients across the world.

It has been approval for use in the US, the European Union and other countries after initial research found it may shorten recovery time in some Covid-19 patients.

Made by the US company Gilead, remdesivir is extremely expensive and has to be given intravenously.

Gilead said last month that the drug had boosted its third quarter sales by about $900 million.

The WHO's warning comes as the overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 56.8 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.35 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Friday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 56,817,667 and 1,358,489, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 11,710,084 and 252,484, respectively, according to the CSSE.


Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:32:48 +0530
New Delhi Nov 19 IANS Barely days ahead of her 78th birthday Mridula Sinha a prolific writer s

San Francisco, Nov 19

Google has introduced several features in its Pay feature for both Android and iOS users which have been first rolled out in the US.

The new Google Pay app is designed around relationships with people and businesses.

"It helps you save money and gives you insights into your spending. It's built with multiple layers of security to keep your money and information private and safe. And in 2021, it will give you the chance to apply for a new kind of digital bank account with trusted financial institutions," said Caesar Sengupta, General Manager and VP, Payments and Next Billion Users.

The company said in a statement on Wednesday it is working with trusted financial institutions to create Plex, a new mobile-first bank account integrated into Google Pay.

"Plex Accounts are offered by banks and credit unions, include checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees, overdraft charges or minimum balance requirements and help you save toward your goals more easily".

The new Google Pay app focuses on the friends and businesses you transact with most frequently.

"You can pay, see past transactions and find offers and loyalty infoeall organized around conversations".

Google Pay can also help you save money and redeem offers without the hassle of clipping coupons or copying and pasting promo codes.

"If you choose to connect your bank account or cards to Google Pay, the app will provide periodic spending summaries and show your trends and insights over time, giving you a clearer view of your finances," said Sengupta.

Google Pay can now understand and automatically organize your spending.

"Google Pay alerts you when you might be paying a stranger, protects you with advanced security, and gives you transparency and control to choose the privacy settings that are right for you. You can change these settings at any time", the company said.

Starting in 2021,e11 banks and credit unions, including minority-owned depository banks, in the U.S. will start offering Plex Accounts in Google Pay.


Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:38:22 +0530
Goa s first woman Guv noted author passes away

New Delhi, Nov 19

Barely days ahead of her 78th birthday, Mridula Sinha, a prolific writer, senior BJP leader and the first woman Governor of Goa, passed away on Wednesday.

Born on November 27, 1942 in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, Sinha went on to become a name to reckon with in Hindi literature. Though, she has been the wife of Ram Kripal Sinha, a former Union minister and herself a senior functionary of the BJP; her identity revolves around her contribution in the field of writing.

The former Goa Governor wrote more than 46 books on various issues.

'Jyon mehandi ko ranga', 'Nayi Devyani' and 'Gharwaas' are some of the many novels she wrote.

She had also penned the biography on late Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia, a co-founder of the BJP.

Among Sinha's story collections, 'Sakshatkar', 'Ek Diye Ki Diwalia', 'Apna Jeevan' are particularly special. But her domain of writing was vast, which even led her to write for children. 'Aine ke saamne', 'Maanvi ke Naate' are some of them.

A proud Bihari herself, one of her works for children was 'Bihar Ki Lok Kathaye'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his condolence message said, "She was also a proficient writer, making extensive contributions to the world of literature as well as culture."

In her political stint, she has been a former president of the BJP's Mahila Morcha.

She had been associated with the BJP since the party's Jana Sangh days. Being from Bihar and politically conscious, Sinha also participated in Jai Prakash Narayan-led 'Samagra Kranti'.

Union WCD Minister who herself has been the BJP's women wing Chief, tweeted, "With the passing away of Mridula Sinha ji we have lost a prolific writer , a kind administrator and a guiding light for many of us who had the privilege of serving in BJP Mahila Morcha."

As Governor of Goa, she has seen many Chief Ministers change within a not-so-long span of time. Late Manohar Parrikar, Laxmikant Parsekar and Pramod Sawant, who is the current CM of Goa -- she had administered oaths to all of them as Chief Ministers of the state.

Sawant said, for her, the former Goa Governor has been a 'motherly figure'.

BJP President JP Nadda said he is 'pained' at the news.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:34:21 +0530
3 booked in UP for attempted murder over celebratory firings

Pratapgarh (UP), Nov 19

Two cases of attempted murder have been registered against three persons at the Kotwali police station after two video clips of celebratory firings went viral on the social media on Thursday, police said.

Though its was not clear where exactly the incidents took place, the Pratapgarh police registered two FIRs under Sections 307 (murder attempt) and 286 (negligent conduct concerning explosive substance) of the IPC on the basis of video evidence.

Pratapgarh SP Anurag Arya said that police officials concerned had been instructed to ensure the arrest of all three accused, adding that they were trying to obtain details on the two incidents.

The SP said that police would seize the weapons of the offenders and get their arms licences cancelled.

In the first case, one Prince Singh of Awas Vikas Colony was booked for celebratory firing from his licensed pistol and a rifle without permission.

In the second case, brothers Aman Singh and Guddu Singh of Sadar Bazar area were booked for celebratory firing. Their acts caused discomfort and brief confusion among residents in that area, the FIR said.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:32:14 +0530
1 058 new corona cases push Telangana s tally over 2 60 lakh

Hyderabad, Nov 19

Telangana's coronavirus cases' tally crossed 2.60 lakh on Thursday as the state logged 1,058 new cases, health officials said.

After recording a daily surge of less than 1,000 cases for the last few days, the numbers surged beyond 1,000 during the last 24 hours, pushing the cumulative numbers to 2,60,834.

According to the government's daily media bulletin, active cases in Telangana now total 12,682, of which 10,352 are in home or institutional isolation.

As many as 1,440 more patients recovered during the last 24 hours, taking the total recoveries to 2,46,733. The recovery rate improved further to 94.54 per cent as against the national average of 93.6 per cent.

Four more people succumbed to the virus, taking the state's death toll to 1,419.

The fatality rate remains at 0.54 per cent as against the national average of 1.5 per cent. According to Director of Public Health and Family Welfare, 44.96 per cent of the deaths were due to COVID-19 while remaining 55.04 were on account of comorbidities.

Greater Hyderabad continues to report daily count of less than 200 new cases. During the last 24 hours ending at 8 pm on Wednesday, the state capital added 168 corona cases to its tally. Medchal Malkajgiri reported the second highest 93 cases, followed by Rangareddy (91), Bhadradri Kothagudem (58), Karimnagar (53), and Nalgonda (43).

Laboratories in the state conducted 38,757 tests during the last 24 hours, taking cumulative tests to 50,11,164. Eighteen government-run laboratories, 50 private laboratories and 1,076 Rapid Antigen test centres are conducting the tests.

Out of 38,757 samples tested during the last 24 hours, 35,779 samples were tested in government-run laboratories and 2,978 samples in private ones.

Samples tested per million population ratio rose further to 1,34,636. The daily testing target for the state is 5,600 per day as against the World Health Organisation (WHO) benchmark of 140 per million per day.

Out of 2,60,834 total positive cases so far, 70 per cent (1,82,584) were asymptomatic while the remaining 30 per cent (78,250) were symptomatic.

The data shows that 63.92 per cent of those tested positive so far were aged between 21-50, 22.91 per cent aged above 51, and 13.18 per cent below 20.

In 61 government-run hospitals treating COVID patients, 7,634 out of 8,561 beds are vacant while in 221 private hospitals, 6,670 out of 8,073 beds are vacant.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:30:08 +0530
New system of contact tracing in Prayagraj

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh), Nov 19

In an attempt to check the resurgence of Covid cases, the district health department in Prayagraj has made testing mandatory for the adjoining five houses of a patient.

This will be applicable, irrespective of whether the patient has been admitted to a hospital for treatment or is under home isolation.

According Dr. Rishi Sahai, nodal chief medical officer, "Once a patient (all genders and ages) tests positive for the Covid-19, health department teams will conduct testing of the patient's family members and those living in the five houses (from all four directions) of the patient's house."

He added that this exercise would help the health authorities to contain the spread of Covid-19, and the department would also be able to identify fresh patients and treat them.

"We are conducting testing of around 6,000 people every day and efforts are underway to increase testing in the urban, semi-urban and rural areas, even though the caseload in Prayagraj district is less than 1,000 patients. The focus is on those pockets and colonies from where the increasing number of patients have been reported in the recent days," he said.

Besides testing, a mass-level awareness campaign on the three safety norms of wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and observing proper hygiene like hand washing, has also been launched in the city.

Health department statistics show that 24,094 out of the total 25,395 patients have already been cured and the recovery percentage in the city is 94.87.

Health officials said that the city had reported more cases in the past two days.

Prayagraj, which is bracing up for the Magh Mela in January, where a congregation of lakhs of devotees will take place, is taking possible steps to keep Covid cases in check.


Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:28:06 +0530
2020 has taught me importance of being mentally strong says Karkera

Bengaluru, Nov 19

Goalkeeper Suraj Karkera had decided to stay back at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) facility in Bengaluru when the Indian men and women's hockey core probable groups, in June, were allowed to take a break to be with their families after a series of nationwide lockdowns.

He made the decision as Covid-19 cases were high in Mumbai and instead of going to his parent's house, Karkera spent most days in his room at the SAI facility, reading books and watching matches from previous years.

Unfortunately for Karkera, when his teammates returned to camp in August after a six-week break, he was admitted in the city hospital due to dengue.

"This year has been an absolute roller coaster ride. I had decided to stay back in SAI because I felt travelling to Mumbai was not safe for me as it had too many cases of Covid-19. But as fate would have it, I got dengue just when we were getting together to restart the camp. It has since been a steady road to recovery and full fitness," said the young goalkeeper.

Karkera, who was part of the Indian team that won bronze in the 2017 Hockey World League Final and was part of the team that witnessed Asia Cup success in Dhaka in 2017 as well, feels fortunate to have had the support of the coaching staff all through this period.

"When I was alone in the hostel, I was constantly checked on by our chief coach and scientific advisor. It has not been easy for them either to have not seen their families back home for more than ten months now, so there used to be a lot of talks about being resilient and at times, we would also talk about Graham's playing days," he said.

"He has a lot of interesting stories to share with us, and they are all quite inspiring. I personally feel this year has taught us a lot in terms of 'anything can happen in life' and we need to be mentally strong to face it."

And now, Karkera's primary focus is to make the most of his time with senior stalwarts like PR Sreejesh, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Manpreet Singh among other players to hone his skills as a goalkeeper.

"I feel fortunate to have been in the national coaching camp with stalwart players including someone like Sardar Singh who had so much experience," Karkera said.

"Now with senior players like Sreejesh, Manpreet, Sunil, Akashdeep etc around, there is a lot that I learn from them. They are constantly guiding me on the field and off it. My focus now is to improve my skill, footwork and timing to be ready for the next assignment and be in the reckoning for team selection," he added.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:24:42 +0530
New WhatsApp feature to allow users to mute videos before sending

New Delhi, Nov 19

Instant messaging app WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would let users mute their videos before posting those to their friends and family members or putting them up as status.

As spotted by WABetaInfo, a website that tracks WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned company is now developing a mute video feature and it has appeared on a beta update. 

In the screenshot shared by the WhatsApp features tracker, one can see the option of muting the video along with the trimming option. 

"After enabling Advanced Wallpaper features and Disappearing messages, WhatsApp is working on new features now. The next feature, available in a future update, will allow muting videos before sending to contact or your status updates," a report by WABetaInfo read. 

WhatsApp has also started rolling out advanced wallpaper features to more users.

This feature lets users set a different wallpaper for each chat. You can choose to set one wallpaper for all chats on WhatsApp, or manually select a different one for each chat. 

Recently, WhatsApp introduced the much-awaited 'Disappearing Messages' feature.

As the name suggests, the feature allows user to send messages that will appear for a limited period of time. 

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:22:03 +0530
Netanyahu threatens more strikes on in Syria

Tel Aviv, Nov 19

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to carry out more airstrikes in Syria if Iran continues to maintain a military presence in the war-torn country.

"We will not allow Iranian military entrenchment against us in Syria and we will not tolerate any attempt to attack us from Syrian territory," Xinhua news agency quoted Netanyahu as saying in a statement issued by his office on Wednesday hours after a deadly Israeli airstrike in Syria.

"This morning, the air force attacked significant Iranian Quds Force targets and Syrian military targets in Syria," the Prime Minister said, in a rare acknowledgment of Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

The airstrike was carried out as part of "a clear policy that I have been leading for years", he noted.

"Whoever tries to attack us or attacks us will bear the consequences," Netanyahu warned.

At least 10 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed in airstrikes on Syrian military sites in the capital Damascus on Wednesday, the UK-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

In recent years, Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:07:08 +0530
K taka BJP takes pain to rename Maratha Development Authority

Bengaluru, Nov 19

In an effort to put an end to the raging controversy over the formation of the Maratha Development Board last week, the ruling BJP in Karnataka on Wednesday decided to rename it as Maratha Community Development Corporation (MCDC).

Speaking to reporters here after the Cabinet meeting, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy clarified that the MCDC is a community corporation for the all-round development of the community, and not to promote any language per se.

"The Cabinet has officially adopted this (MCDC) name," he said, adding that he didn't know why some people are opposed to the setting up of a body for the development of a community.

Last week, Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa had decided to set up the Maratha Development Board, just ahead of the announcement of bypolls to the Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency, and the Basavakalyan and Maski Assembly seats, which have a sizeable Marathi-speaking population.

Since then, the ruling BJP has come under severe criticism by the opposition Congress as well as pro-Kananda activists across the state. A section of Kannada activists even called for a statewide bandh on December 5.

A senior BJP leader told IANS that Yediyurappa's problems worsened when Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday stated in Maharashtra that inclusion of Belagavi, Nippani and Karwar would only complete the unification of Maharashtra, which was the dream of the late Balasaheb Thackeray.

The statement triggered a barrage of angry reactions and protests in Karnataka.

Tempers run high across the state whenever Maharashtra lays claim to the border district of Belagavi on linguistic grounds.

Karnataka even built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the state legislature building in Bengaluru, in Belagavi to assert its claim that the district is an integral part of the state.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:04:59 +0530
Remember her as beloved grandma Rahul on Indira

New Delhi, Nov 19

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday paid floral tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 103rd birth anniversary at Shakti Sthal here and later tweeted about remembering her as his beloved grandmother.

"Tributes to an efficient and embodiment of strength Prime Minister. The whole nation still gives examples of her leadership, but I remember her as my beloved grandmother. The lessons she taught keep inspiring me," he tweeted.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said: "Humble tributes to the first woman PM of the nation Smt Indira Gandhi ji on her birth anniversary. She dedicated her entire life to the service of the nation. Her values, decisive leadership and supreme sacrifice can never be forgotten. Indira ji's life remains an inspiration."

Scores of Congress leaders across the country also paid their tributes.


Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:01:21 +0530
New WhatsApp feature to allow users to mute videos before sending

New Delhi, Instant messaging app WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new feature that would let users mute their videos before posting those to their friends and family members or putting them up as status.

As spotted by WABetaInfo, a website that tracks WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned company is now developing a mute video feature and it has appeared on a beta update. 

In the screenshot shared by the WhatsApp features tracker, one can see the option of muting the video along with the trimming option. 

"After enabling Advanced Wallpaper features and Disappearing messages, WhatsApp is working on new features now. The next feature, available in a future update, will allow muting videos before sending to contact or your status updates," a report by WABetaInfo read. 

WhatsApp has also started rolling out advanced wallpaper features to more users.

This feature lets users set a different wallpaper for each chat. You can choose to set one wallpaper for all chats on WhatsApp, or manually select a different one for each chat. 

Recently, WhatsApp introduced the much-awaited 'Disappearing Messages' feature.

As the name suggests, the feature allows user to send messages that will appear for a limited period of time. 

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:58:59 +0530
Bigg Boss The most controversial fights

Mumbai,  Bigg Boss is rightfully tagged as controversial. Over 14 season, the reality show has seen contestants indulging in nasty fights that are recalled even today.

IANS lists some of the most controversial fights that took place on the show, which made its debut on small screen in 2006.

Rakhi Sawant vs Kashmera Shah

Friends turned foes! The two featured in the first season. Kashmera got into plotting and turned all the housemates against Rakhi, which led to numerous fights in the house. Rakhi ended up having a fight with almost everyone in the house, over the smalles of things like a coffee mug.

Kamaal Rashid Khan vs Rohit Verma

In the third season of Bigg Boss 3, Kamaal Rashid Khan, popularly known as KRK, had a verbal spat with fellow contestant Rohit Verma. The spat got so aggressive that KRK threw a bottle at Rohit after which the former was evicted from the house.

Dolly Bindra vs Manoj Tiwari and Shweta Tiwari

The "Baap pe mat jaana" fight between Dolly Bindra and Manoj Tiwari is one of the biggest hits in the history of Bigg Boss. The two got into an altercation after Bhojpuri singer and actor Manoj wanted some eggs for breakfast, which led to chain reaction.

Dolly also got into a physical fight with actress Shweta Tiwari. The two started a fight the first day when Dolly went into the show as a wild card.

Akashdeep Saigal Vs Mahek Chahal

This one was quite ugly to even watch. The two never got along. Akashdeep, who is popularly known as Sky, was upset with Mahek certain comments she made about him. Reacting on the issue, he started digging up her past and had even shared that he knows who Mahek was. Later, Mahek was seen crying her heart out in the bathroom.

Pooja Missra vs Shonali Nagrani

This has been one of the most entertaining fights on the show. Pooja's fight with Shonali has become an object of memes over the years. But nine years ago, in season five, Pooja's behaviour came across as erratic. She was seen in a fight with her co-contestant Shonali and, in a fit of trademark rage, kicked the dustbin and broke a wiper. Her line "Get off my back" got instantly famous.

Imam Siddique VS Urvashi Dholakia and Aashka Goradia

Imam was the most eccentric contestant Bigg Boss had seen. From clothes, wigs to behaviour -- everything about him was loud and loony. Imam was seen arguing and making comments about Urvashi Dholakia's life . He was seen questioning her parenting skils.

In another incident, for which Imam was thrown out of the house, he shed all his clothes and slipped into a skin coloured body suit to irk fellow contestant Aashka Goradia. He had an undergarment to cover his privates but he soon shed that, too.

Swami Om vs Rohan Mehra and Bani J.

Many feel Swami Om has been one of the most disgusting housemates Bigg Boss ever had. In the tenth season, the self-proclaimed godman, during a task, did something no one could have ever imagined. He threw his urine on contestants Bani J. and Rohan Mehra. He was eliminated from the show, of course.

Sidharth Shukla vs Rashami Desai

In the last season, actors Siddhant Shukla and Rashami Desai got into a very heated fight when Sidharth asked Rashami if she is a "naukrani" of fellow contestant Asim Riaz. It happened when Rashami had intervened when Asim and Siddhant were talking about a task. Rashami got angry and questioned: 'Tere ghar mein kaisi ladkiyaan hoti hain (what kind of women are there in your house)?'. To which, Sidharth replied: 'Teri jaisi nahi hoti (Not like you)'. Rashami then asked: 'Kaisi (like how)?', and he said: 'Rashami Desai jaisi'. The whole scene ended with the two screaming at each other.

Eijaz Khan vs Kavita Kaushik

The two have created history with their fights in the show hosted by Salman Khan. The first time when the two locked horns was when Kavita kept repeating she is not his friend, and that it is because of him no one in the house is her friend. The two again got into a fight recently when Eijaz wanted to make some eggs and Kavita passed some comments. She was later seen pushing Eijaz four times in anger. Their fight is still escalating.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:34:55 +0530
Equity indices open in red LVB shares fall 20

Mumbai,  The key Indian equity indices opened on a negative note on Thursday due to profit booking along with weakness in the Asian markets.

It opened at 43,902.24 and fell over 350 points to an intra-day low of 43,821.39 points.

Around 9.35 a.m., it was trading at 44,056.33, lower by 123.72 points or 0.28 per cent from its previous close of 44,180.05

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 12,898.10, lower by 40.15 points or 0.31 per cent from its previous close.

Selling pressure was witnessed in banking, finance and telecom stocks.

Shares of Lakshmi Vilas Bank fell around 20 per cent for the second consecutive day after the Centre on Tuesday put the bank under moratorium.

Its shares on the BSE were at Rs 9.95, lower by Rs 2.45 or 19.76 per cent from its previous close.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:27:58 +0530
BRICS should expand cooperation in fighting Covid 19 reviving economy

Brasilia,  The BRICS member nations should expand cooperation in tackling the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and reviving economy, Brazilian experts said after the bloc of five major emerging economies held its 12th Summit virtually.

BRICS -- Brazil, China, Russia, India, South Africa -- should strongly commit to improving global health systems and assisting the World Health Organization in its efforts to fight the pandemic, Mauricio Santoro, a professor on international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, told Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.

The idea behind the creation of BRICS is that developing countries will become increasingly important to the world economy, he said.

Partnerships and dialogues between the BRICS members and countries taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative for global growth are another prominent aspect of stepped up cooperation, especially given the importance of promoting multilateralism in both economic and social matters, said the expert.

"All this will be essential to resume the growth of the world economy."

Alexandre Ganan de Brites Figueiredo, author and director of the Global South Institute, believes that the union of efforts and common interests, which has represented BRICS from the beginning, is the best answer to the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The 12th BRICS Summit is "certainly another step towards recovery", although it is also "important to note that the BRICS (countries) have already demonstrated that they have their own institutional means to help themselves overcome the crisis", said Brites.

This year, even before the summit, the New Development Bank made a large loan available to help the partner countries fight the pandemic, said the expert.

The BRICS countries together represent about 42 percent of the global population, 23 per cent of global GDP, 30 per cent of world territory and 18 per cent of global trade.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:25:07 +0530
4 JeM terrorists killed in Jammu encounter

Jammu, Four terrorists travelling in a truck were killed on Thursday morning during an ongoing encounter near Nagrota in J&K' Jammu district, top police officials said.

"Four terrorists have been neutralised and one police constable injured in an encounter at Ban Toll Plaza Jammu with Police, CRPF and Army. Area is being sanitized," police said.

Speaking to IANS, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said a group of four JeM terrorists had infiltrated into India through the International Border in Samba on Wednesday night.

They were travelling in a truck on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which was intercepted by the police at a toll plaza near Nagrota.

After they were intercepted the heavily armed terrorists threw grenades at the police party. During the gun battle the truck caught fire.

The area was cordoned off and additional forces were rushed to the spot.

This is the second such encounter on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway this year.

According to the police, the terrorists belong to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.

In January three terrorists were gunned down by the security forces. They had adopted the similar modus operandi by hiding inside a truck.

Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:18:16 +0530
Governor Koshyari condoles demise of former Goa Governor Mridula Sinha

The Governor of Maharashtra and Goa Bhagat Singh Koshyari has condoled the demise of former Goa Governor Smt. Mridula Sinha.

In his message, the Governor has said: “Smt. Mridula Sinha was a writer, social worker and a kind hearted person.  As  Governor of Goa, she took keen interest in cultural and academic matters. With her affable nature, she endeared herself to the people of Goa. I pay my respects to the memory of the departed soul and convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family.”

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:25:19 +0530
Nature may protect mental health during pandemic Study

Tokyo, Nov 18

Researchers have said that nature around one's home may help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During this extraordinary time, nature around the home may play a key role against adverse mental health outcomes, according to the study, published in the journal Ecological Applications.

For the findings, the research team from the University of Tokyo in Japan, conducted an online questionnaire of more than 3,000 adults.

The online questionnaire survey quantified the link between five mental health outcomes (depression, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, self-esteem, and loneliness) and two measures of nature experiences (frequency of green space use and green view through windows from home).

More frequent green space use and the existence of green window views from the home were associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness, as well as decreased levels of depression and loneliness.

"Our results suggest that nearby nature can serve as a buffer in decreasing the adverse impacts of a very stressful event on humans," said study lead author Masashi Soga of The University of Tokyo.

"Protecting natural environments in urban areas is important not only for the conservation of biodiversity, but also for the protection of human health," Soga added,

With the recent escalation in the prevalence of mental health disorders, and the possible negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on public mental health, the findings suggest that urban nature has great potential to be used as a "nature-based solution" for improved public health.

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:24:01 +0530
Of mangoes bridge and a bygone era

New Delhi, Nov 18

Families are like the sweet mangoes of Aamnagri -- messy, filled with juicy secrets and sticking together through all times.

The Awasthis of Aamnagri are the quintessential Indian family, who bumble through their lives encountering missing jewels and stolen eggs, deaths foretold, averted and a suspected suicide with no body. The mysteries are solved by the inquisitive minds of young Lakshmi and Guddu and the saffron-clad Guruji.

With charming agility, the Awasthis sail through life and its quirks. The advent of God-men, genuine and fake, is a source of both relief and embarrassment for them. But not for the Lady of the Mansion - Mataji.

She is the 'sutradhar' who strings this tale of silk sarees and talking parrots together, who handles bedridden bahus and in-danger bhaiyyas with equal ease, who is tyrannical and vulnerable at the same time. And through whom the Awasthi family discovers that happy endings come for a price-of truth and love.

All over a game of bridge!

Shubha Sarma's "The Awasthis of Aamnagri" (Niyogi Books) is a simple story about a quintessential Indian family of a bygone era, when people were closer to each other and spent leisure together. It's a very exciting read, especially for children and young adults, who are losing the simpler pleasures of life, pursuing the bigger ones.

Born and brought up in Lucknow, Sarma is an alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College and Jawaharlal Nehru University and a member of the Indian Administrative Service. A Yoga practitioner, she enjoys travelling, swimming and tending to her bonsai collection.

Her debut book, "Fly on the Wall & Other Stories" was launched in 2013 and was translated into Hindi and Italian. It received rave reviews from readers and critics alike. Her body of work displays strong characters and reflects the changing times that confront us.

This is her second novel.


Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:20:41 +0530
Twitter apologises in writing for showing Ladakh in China

New Delhi, Nov 18

Twitter on Wednesday apologised to a parliamentary panel in a letter, stating that it will fix the issue of geo-tagging Ladakh as part of China by the end of this month and Ladakh will be added as a region administered by India as a union territory.

According to reliable sources, the micro-blogging platform sent the letter to the panel's chairperson Meenakshi Lekhi and apologised for the geo-tag error.

A joint committee of Parliament led by BJP MP Lekhi which has 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, last month issued summons to Twitter, seeking an explanation in form of an affidavit.

Taking strong exception to the "misrepresentation" of India's map, the government wrote a stern letter to the Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, saying that any attempt by the platform to disrespect the sovereignty and integrity of India, which is also reflected by the maps, was totally unacceptable.

Representatives of Twitter India had apologised but were told by the panel that showing Ladakh as part of China was a criminal offence.

In a separate incident, after courting controversy for wrongly showing Jammu and Kashmir as part of China, Twitter last month said it has resolved this particular geo-tag issue.

The issue was first brought to attention by national security analyst Nitin Gokhale after he went live on Twitter from the Hall of Fame, a war memorial at Leh.

The matter was later also raised by Kanchan Gupta, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) after tweets showed J&K as a part of China.

Several netizens also asked Prasad and the government to take action against Twitter India.

The controversy erupted amid India's border standoff with China in Ladakh.

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:18:39 +0530
Children awareness week inaugurated

A children safety awareness week was inaugurated by Dharavi Police station jointly with  World Vision India to save children from harassment, kidnapping , child marriage and child labour. Parents had been advised to take a pledge to ensure that their children are safe from all these. The people who had attended had pledged to support this move to create an environment for their children's safety. A young girl child is seen signing the pledge for her own safety.

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:18:15 +0530
Hrithik Roshan I have become more forgiving with time

New Delhi,  His two-decade journey in Bollywood has helped Hrithik Roshan evolve as an actor and as a human being.

"Earlier I used to have a toolbox method but with Kaabil and post Kaabil my process as an actor has evolved. I think I have become more forgiving and at the same time I think I trust myself more now. This allows me to explore better. Without the fear of being wrong," he told IANS.

Hrithik, who made his debut as a hero with the hit film Kaho Na... Pyaar Hai, completed 20 years in the industry in January this year. At 46, when he looks back at his journey in filmdom, all he has is immense respect and passion for work.

"The last 20 years, as an actor, have been a joy ride! Filled with learnings and diverse experiences. It has been enriching. I think I work because a working environment helps build virtues . And virtues is what one needs to become the best version of oneself . That in itself is my overall mission in life. Looking ahead, our industry is at a juncture where the audience, storytelling and technology are constantly evolving - there is so much out there to explore, to depict. It is an exciting space to be in, as an artist. I am excited for the next phase of my career," he shared.

He continued: "As an artist, I have always given my all to my work. I wouldn't say my productivity has had any kind of shift (during the lockdown). I have missed my film sets, the hustle of each stage of production. But I'm glad that we as an industry evolved to working remotely. I have been working on multiple projects throughout the pandemic, with the unlock, there have been developments."

Hrithik opened up about his plan of action for the future, too. "The last few months have been a lot of discussions with writers and directors. I've been reading a lot of scripts and writing as well. We brainstormed some very interesting and exciting story ideas and I am looking forward to present these on screen in the capacity of an actor and producer," he said.

How does he select his films? "A story that speaks to the audience, while keeping them engaged and entertained. So my selection process is not genre centric, but content centric," he replied.

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 09:29:51 +0530
Displaced Syrians eager to leave refugee camp for home

Hasakah, After years of tough displacement at a refugee camp run by the Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria, displaced people are happy now that they are able to leave the camp and return to their homes.

Khawla Ahmad, a 40-year-old woman, is among a batch of around 500 people that were ready to leave the al-Hol camp in the countryside of the Hasakah province and return to their home in the nearby eastern province of Deir al-Zour, Xinhua news agency reported.

The woman told Xinhua that her agony and pain will soon be over as the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has started emptying the camp of its residents, particularly the Syrians who want to return to their areas.

"We have been suffering here for four years and we lack everything," the woman said.
She will head back home. "If we found our home that would be good, while if not, we will build a new home of stone and mud. We can do anything as long as we don't have to pay because we have no money."

Other people in the camp were busy packing their belongings to leave the camp, where they suffered from the lack of all life necessities.

The SDF set up a room inside the camp for those people who want to leave to register their names. The room was jam-packed with people submitting their information in order to leave the camp.

Fatima Kassar, who is originally from the town of Tayaneh in Deir al-Zour, told Xinhua that she cannot believe she is going back home and see her neighborhood again.

For his side, Jassam Shalash, a 60-year-old man, said that his house has been damaged and half of it was completely destroyed. However, he is still happy to return to his home and land.

A public relations employee at the camp told Xinhua that the people who are leaving the camp will go to their original areas that are controlled by the SDF.

"The fifth batch is for families from the Deir al-Zour province, which are around 515 people, making 120 families, who will return to their areas in Deir al-Zour," he said.

The al-Hol camp, precisely located on the southern outskirts of the al-Hol town in Hasakah countryside, was originally established for Iraqi refugees in early 1991 during the Gulf war, and was later reopened after the 2003 invasion of Iraq as one of three camps at the Iraqi-Syrian border.

At the beginning of 2019, the camp held about 10,000 people. Its size increased dramatically with the collapse of the Islamic State (IS) during battles with the SDF in northeastern Syria. By April 2019, the camp's population was estimated at around 74,000.

Wed, 18 Nov 2020 09:22:29 +0530
All for artists in times of Corona Yasmin Kidwai

New Delhi, Nov 17

She remembers going to the Nizamuddin Dargah when it opened after Covid struck. There was something amiss. The place was just not the same without the qawwals. The silence was brutal.

"Honestly, I did not know how I could help. Offering money to the artists might have seemed disrespectful. Also, they must be craving for an audience. And that is how the idea of 'Artists for Artists' was conceived," says documentary filmmaker Yasmin Kidwai, also the Councillor (INC) from Daryaganj, Delhi's largest MCD constituency.

In face of the little assistance offered by the government and state akademis flushed with funds to artists when the pandemic struck, Kidwai was convinced that structural changes were indispensable to ascertain that the artist community did not get hit so severely when such disasters strike in the future. The result was 'Artists for Artists', a fundraising platform with an aim to spread the new reality faced by artists across the country and help develop avenues to support them. "Now, we all know that all artists are not tech savvy, hence there was a need to create a platform for these musicians that not only celebrates their craft but also provides much needed resources to support them and their families. We started with folk artists as they have suffered the most. Musician Amit Kilam and Neeta Raheja also came onboard," Kidwai tells IANS.

With a line up boasting of Nizami Brothers from Delhi, Raju Das Baul from Bengal, Prabha Yadav from Chhattisgarh, Kaluram Bamaniya from Madhya Pradesh and drummer Nathu Lal Solanki from Rajasthan, the folk artists have been performing live every Friday (from October 23 - November 20). The concerts can be viewed on the BookMyShow portal.

For someone who has made close to 50 documentaries focussing on social issues and the same number of informational videos for MGNREGA, it is the belief that everyone has a story to her that keeps her fascinated towards the medium. "Believe me, real stories are way more intriguing than any fiction that can be created. I wanted to tell such tales without the politics," says Kidwai, known for films like 'Her Own Sky', 'No Problem! Six Months with Barefoot Grandmas', 'Filmistaan', 'Borders and Beyond' and 'Purdah Hai Purdah'.
Getting into documentaries at a time when there were not many platforms and a niche audience pushed her to make one of the first public funded documentaries in India on Polo, called 'Chukker'. "I raised small contributions to complete it. The idea was to introduce a new audience to documentary films and a subject like Polo let me do that."

Believing that it is always the subject that chooses the filmmaker and not the other way round, Kidwai feels all her films have coincided with different times her life and resulted in friendships which have lasted beyond the last day of the shoot. "'Purdah and Purdah' was very complex and layered - the topic still is. 'No Problem' gave me hope and changed me in many ways. Though 'Borders and Beyond' was not something I enjoyed -- it was on the Gujarat riots and I had to live through it many times over while working on it," she says, adding that she has never felt discriminated against as a filmmaker on account of her gender or religion.

Kidwai, who has a fashion label 'House of Qidwa', which led her to working with women from Nizamuddin basti says that it all started with her trying to organise work for her mother and sister- in- law who were in the clothes business. "I ended up putting together a small collection for my friends inspired by who were -- a sense of freedom, a sense of history, the Sufi vibe and being unconstrained."

Talk to her about how politics has been treating her, and she smiles, "Well, I really do not know if I qualify as a politician, considering I am not a professional one. I have entered this field just to be able to serve, and amplify some voices which need to be heard. There are several challenges in my role as a Municipal Councillor considering the fact that Delhi and the corporation are such complex places to work in."


Tue, 17 Nov 2020 11:05:38 +0530
Harry Gurney extends stay at Nottinghamshire

London, Nov 17

Left-arm pacer Harry Gurney has signed a new one-year contract with England county cricket club Nottinghamshire. The 34-year-old's new white-ball deal will see him spend his tenth summer at Trent Bridge, having won three trophies since his arrival in 2012.

Gurney had missed Nottinghamshire' victorious T20 Blast campaign this year due to injury.

"I was glued to the TV as the boys got over the line at Edgbaston - for me, they were clearly the best team in the competition. It was quite inspiring to watch them go about their business - and, if anything, it made me hungrier to come back and try to win it with them next year," he said in an official statement.

"2020 has ended up being a bit of an enforced sabbatical for me, but I feel rested, refreshed and ready to power through the next phase of my rehab to get ready for 2021," he added.

Gurney has made 237 all-format appearances for Notts, taking 468 wickets. His eight global white-ball titles include the One-Day Cup and T20 Blast with Notts in 2017, alongside the Yorkshire Bank 40 crown back in 2013.

He sits second in the list of Notts' all-time leading T20 wicket-takers, with 115 scalps to his name.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 11:02:26 +0530
Zoom to notify users of meetings at risk of being disrupted

New Delhi, Nov 17

Video conferencing platform Zoom has launched a new feature called ‘At Risk Meeting Notifier that will help organisers identify which online meetings may be at the risk of being disrupted or ‘zoombombing.

The ‘At Risk Meeting Notifier' scans public posts on social media sites and other public online resources for Zoom meeting links.

"When it finds publicly posted meeting information that indicates a given meeting may be at high risk of being disrupted, we notify account owners and admins by email," the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Zoombombing episodes were quite widespread this year as people began using Zoom in the social distancing times during remote work.

The new feature is enabled by default and users don't need to take any action for their accounts.

Zoom said that "if a given meeting is posted about many times or with certain known disruptor hashtags, we may flag it to you as being at high risk of being disrupted".

The company said that if you would like to keep your meeting public, "we strongly recommend that you convert the meeting to a webinar, because a webinar will give you control over who participates with video, audio, chat, and screen sharing".

Zoom said that at the end of Q2, it had approximately 370,200 customers with more than 10 employees, up approximately 458 per cent from the same quarter last fiscal year.

The video meeting app has also launched an online event platform and marketplace called OnZoom for paid users of the platform to create, host, and monetise events like fitness classes, concerts, stand-up or music lessons.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 11:00:33 +0530
Jack Black does wet and wild WAP dance

Los Angeles, Nov 17

Hollywood actor Jack Black grabbed attention of many when he stripped down to his undergarment for a wet dance.

Black had been dared to do the sensual "WAP" dance of rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, and he took it up like a pro.

In the clip posted on Instagram on Monday, he is seen twerking and doing some acrobatic moves on the ground. He got a little help from someone who off camera doused him with water, reports

His friends and admirers soon left hilarious comments.

"Get it!!!" said actor Robert Downey Jr., while Jeremy Renner added: "Nothing but love for ya brother."

Actress Naomi Watts left many teary-eyed laughing emojis and trophy emoji with the comment: "Owning it!!"

Jack had earlier become talk of town with his shirtless TikTok dance video.


Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:57:47 +0530
Bigg Boss 14 Has Pavitra Punia got a lip job done

Mumbai, Nov 17

Pavitra Punia is one of the most talked about contestants in the ongoing season 14 of Bigg Boss. One can never miss her in an episode as she makes her presence felt even without indulging in politics.

Pavitra first made her appearance on screen in the youth-based reality show "Splitsvilla 3", which aired on 2009. Later, she was seen in popular shows like "Yeh Hai Mohabbatein", "Balveer Returns" and "Naagin".

The actress is currently creating waves in the controversial reality show "Bigg Boss", hosted by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.

With her tattoos, rings and fashion statements, Pavitra has always had the spotlight on her. But what has caught attention of fans is something quite different.

The fact that her lips are looking fuller on "Bigg Boss 14" is unmissable.

There have been reports suggesting that Pavitra, who was in a relationship with a former "Bigg Boss 13" contestant, went under the knife to enhance her thin lips.

Pavitra has never confirmed or denied the news.

She is currently making waves in the "Bigg Boss 14" house with her romance with actor Eijaaz Khan. The two are seen getting closer in the show.

So much so, that Eijaaz in an episode was heard saying that he would take Pavitra to make her meet his father.


Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:56:11 +0530
Sensex Nifty hit record highs on vaccine hopes

Mumbai, Nov 17

The key Indian equity indices hit fresh record highs on Tuesday tracking a positive global trend after pharma giant Moderna announced that its vaccine has shown more than 94 per cent effectiveness in preliminary data from the company's ongoing study.

Moderna on Monday said that its experimental vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19, boosting hopes of the economy emerging from a year of pandemic-induced downturn.

Sensex crossed the 44,000 mark and touched a record high of 44,161.16 points.

Around 9.45 a.m., it was trading at 43,921.55, higher by 313.78 points or 0.65 per cent from its previous close of 43,637.98.

Nifty50 was trading at 12,855.75, higher by 75.50 points or 0.59 per cent from its previous close.

It has recorded an all-time high of 12,934.05 points.

Healthy buying was witnessed in banking, finance and metal stocks.

The top gainers on the Sensex so far were Tata Steel, IndusInd Bank and HDFC Bank.

HCL Technologies, Bajaj Auto and Infosys were the major losers so far.

The announcement by Moderna led to a rally in the US stock market on Monday.

The announcement came just a week after Pfizer Inc had announced 90 per cent efficacy of its vaccine. Taken together, these two vaccines are firmly on course to seek emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration if results hold out in the final study results due soon.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:53:02 +0530
Rising hunger an outrage in a world of plenty Guterres

United Nations, Nov 17

"Hunger is an outrage in a world of plenty," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP), highlighting the important role of food security in cementing peace.

"An empty stomach is a gaping hole in the heart of a society. A stunted child's growth in the mind is progress for her and for everyone," UN News quoted Guterres as saying on Monday to the WFP's Executive Board.

Guterres lauded WFP, the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, for delivering food to "the most remote locations, in the most dangerous situations, in the most challenging contexts", with enormous commitment, generosity and competence.

"With human need all around, and at times with bullets and bombs shrieking through the air, you brought life-saving assistance to vulnerable people in a way that is an example for the whole world.

"You provide hope not only by helping people to meet their immediate food and nutrition needs, but also enabling people to change their lives," he added.

He pointed to the important message at the heart of the decision by the Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to WFP this year, that "food is peace" and expressed his happiness that the agency's "absolutely outstanding" work was being recognized.

According to WFP figures, 690 million people do have not enough to eat, as 130 million more were at risk of being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:51:05 +0530
Car goes up in flames driver charred to death in UP

A driver, trapped in his car, was charred to death when the vehicle caught fire after crashing into a minibus on the Karnal-Meerut Highway in Shamli district.

The accident took place on Monday night.

Circle Officer Jitendra Kumar said that the incident took place when a crane carrying the mini bus collided with the car which caught fire. The doors of the car apparently got locked and the driver could not escape.

The deceased driver has not yet been identified, and his body has been sent for post-mortem.

Police are trying to nab the absconding driver of the crane and further investigations are underway.


Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:48:51 +0530
Biden unveils buy American economy plan with local manufacture requirement

New York,  Joe Biden, who has been declared president-elect by the media, has unveiled his own version of an 'America First' economic plan pledging "to buy American" with a stringent requirement for government contractors to manufacture locally.

"We can make sure a future is made here in America, and that's good for business and it's good for American workers," he declared on Monday.

"From autos to our stockpiles, we're going to buy American. No government contract will be given to companies that don't make their products here in America."

Signalling a potential change from President Donald Trump's heavy-handed approach to trade that imposed or threatened punitive tariffs, Biden said: "I'm not looking for punitive trade. The idea that we are poking our finger in the eyes of our friends and embracing autocrats makes no sense to me."

One of Trump's biggest targets for punitive trade measures, though, was China, but his trade policies adversely affected India and Western Europe among others.

Biden, who ran on the slogan, "Build Back Better", outlined his economic agenda at a news conference in Wilmington after a virtual meeting with business and trade union leaders.

CEOs Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Sonia Syngal of the GAP Inc retail clothing chain were among the participants.

The "buy American" aspect of Biden's economic plan is a response to the deindustrialisation of the US under the previous administrations and the job losses, which Trump capitalised on with an "America First" agenda of bringing industries and employment back to the US.

The total value of federal US contracts, both goods and services, was $594 billion, according to Bloomberg Government information service.

Given the inter-dependency of manufacturing capabilities and the global supply chains, a strict requirement to make everything locally would be almost impossible.

Biden left wiggle room by not stipulating that everything the government buys would have to be made in the US, but rather stating only that the contractors would have to make products domestically.

He will also have to contend with the World Trade Organization that he once boosted and retaliatory trade measures, which he could try to skirt by limiting his decree to government contracts.

Setting a longer time-frame for his domestic manufacture push, his plan calls for massive investments in research and in new industries for the US to secure its place as the world leader, a position that is beginning to slip away.

"To secure our position as a global leader in research and development, we're going to invest $300 billion in the most critical, competitive new industries in technologies creating three million good-paying jobs," Biden said.

His 'Build Back Better' plan's other foundations are promoting green industries to fight climate change and ensuring higher pay, working conditions and rights for workers.

Kamala Harris, who will be the Vice President, and Biden emphasised the role of trade unions in their vision of the economy.

Harris said that their plan calls for "protecting the health and safety of our workers and creating millions of good-paying union jobs from auto and construction jobs, to domestic workers and caregiving jobs, to service and hospitality jobs".

Biden prioritised environment-friendly economic agenda.

Looking at the industries to focus on, Biden said he wanted the US "to own the electric vehicle market".

When any future trade agreements are made, environmentalists will be involved along with labour, he said.

Asked about the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership encompassing Asia-Pacific nations, he refused to commit himself either way, but said that the US and democracies should align to stop China dominating the trade structures.

"We make up 25 per cent of the world's trading capacity, of the economy of the world. We need to be aligned with the other democracies, another 25 per cent or more, so that we can set the rules of the road, instead of having China and others dictate outcomes because they are the only game in town," the former Vice President added.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:42:32 +0530
With 29K new corona cases India s tally mounts to 88 74L

New Delhi, With 29,163 new coronavirus infections and 449 more COVID-19 fatalities in the past 24 hours, India's overall tally and death toll stood at 88,74,290 and 1,30,519 respectively on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Currently, there are 4,53,401 active cases, whereas 82,90,370 patients have been discharged so far. The recovery rate is 93.42 per cent and the fatality rate 1.47 per cent, the Ministry said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research tested 8,44,382 more samples on Monday, taking the total numbers to 12,65,42,907.

Maharashtra continued to be the worst-hit state with 17,49,777 cases till date. There are 85,363 active cases and 46,034 COVID-19 deaths.

Delhi witnessed significantly low numbers of coronavirus tests in the last 24 hours on Monday, with latest government figures recording 3,797 new cases and pushing the national capital's total tally to 4,89,202.

While the lesser number of cases reported in the last 24 hours may bring a sigh of relief compared with earlier days where the daily cases spiked to as high as 8,500, the fact remains that the figures came after mere 29,821 tests in the 24 hours right after Diwali celebrations in Delhi.

The other worst-hit states are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday morning, total coronavirus cases and the death toll across the globe stood at 5,48,26,773 and 13,25,752 respectively, Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) said in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with 1,11,97,791 cases and 2,47,142 COVID-19 deaths, according to the CSSE. India comes in second place in terms of number of cases.

Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:37:29 +0530
2 suspected militants from J K held in Delhi weapons recovered

New Delhi, The Delhi Police Special Cell have arrested two suspected militants, both residents of Jammu and Kashmir from the national capital's Sarai Kale Khan area.

The arrests were made on Monday night.

"On the basis of the information, a trap was laid near the millennium park, Sarai Kale Khan, Delhi and around 10.15 p.m., two suspected militants who are residents of J&K were apprehended.

"They have been identified as Abdul Latif Mir from District Baramulla, J&K ( age -- 22 years), Mohd. Ashraf Khatana, a resident of District Kupwara, J&K (age -- 20 years)," Sanjeev Yadav, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Special Cell said.

Two semi-automatic pistols along with 10 live cartridges were also recovered from them.

Further investigations were on, said police.


Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:34:19 +0530
Even God has to get Sanitised

As the temples are set to reopen on November 16 for the public, the Sri Shankara Mattham Matunga is sanitising the entire temple with the help of the BMC employees in time to get ready for the grand opening. The entire temple was sanitised. Though the devotees are very happy, the government has put stringent conditions for the entry, which has put the authorities to get more manpower to see the devotees adhere to the norms like keeping the footwear outside, wearing the mask, sanitising the hands before the entry, maintaining safe distance and no crowding inside.


Mon, 16 Nov 2020 16:21:01 +0530
Even God has to get Sanitised

As the temples are set to reopen on November 16 for the public, the Sri Shankara Mattham Matunga is sanitising the entire temple with the help of the BMC employees in time to get ready for the grand opening. The entire temple was sanitised. Though the devotees are very happy, the government has put stringent conditions for the entry, which has put the authorities to get more manpower  to see the devotees adhere to the norms like keeping the footwear outside, wearing the mask, sanitising the hands before the entry, maintaining  safe distance and no crowding inside.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 16:18:12 +0530
Photos crime citation of corrupt cops to be publicised IANS Exclusive

New Delhi, Nov 16

The Centre has decided to put up the pictures of the corrupt police officers and personnel on the notice boards of the police stations along with the citation of their crime. Further, the display would not be limited to the police stations only, the authorities will have to publish the action taken details on social media as well.

The decision has been taken as a part of the government's initiative of "police image and public connect".

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for country's internal security, in a missive to all the police heads -- Director General of Police -- stated: "Action against corrupt police officials be given due publicity on social media; photographs of corrupt police officials be displayed at police stations along with details on incidents in which they were involved."

Top source in the government stated this decision is not limited only to the lower rank policemen. "Corrupt Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers' photographs would be prominently displayed," said the source.

The source also said that the government has also directed that the police forces have to strengthen its internal vigilance unit to catch the corrupt policemen.

A senior IPS officer said the acute manpower shortage, duty fatigue and desertions are leading to increasing instances of corruption among cops.

As per the initiative, the government has also told all the police heads to form an in-house team to analyse social media content and also to increase police outreach. The directives also stated: "Tweets and retweets, social media posts and discussions be scientifically analysed to understand perception and mood with specific reference to current/upcoming issues."

The directive pointed that "local language along with Hindi and English be used to disseminate content on social media for maximum outreach". It also stated that small uniformed police foot patrol teams be used to increase police visibility and pictures and videos of these be disseminated to improve the police image.

The videos and pictures showing police sensitivity should be widely shared across all the social media platforms, the directives added.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 11:56:24 +0530
After 8 yr of negotiations 15 Asia Pacific countries sign RCEP

Beijing,  After eight years of negotiations, 15 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's biggest trade pact, a move considered a massive coup for regional economic integration, multilateralism and free trade.

"This is not only a monumental achievement in East Asian regional cooperation, but more important, a victory of multilateralism and free trade," said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the fourth RCEP Summit held via video link.

Leaders from the 15 nations, including 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia and New Zealand, witnessed the signing of the pact after the summit, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Calling the pact "the most promising FTA covering the largest population and most diverse membership," Li said the signing "will inject new impetus into development and prosperity of the region, and will contribute to the recovery and growth of the world economy."

The RCEP agreement covers a market of 2.2 billion people, or almost 30 per cent of the world's population, with a combined GDP of $26.2 trillion or about 30 per cent of global GDP.

It is an unprecedented regional trading arrangement that comprises a diverse mix of developed, developing and least developed economies of the region, according to a joint statement issued after the summit.

The agreement "is critical to the region's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and will play an important role in building the region's resilience through an inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery process," leaders said in the statement.

"The trade pact marks a new milestone in regional economic integration in East Asia," Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told reporters Sunday afternoon in Beijing.

According to Wang, the agreement covers 20 chapters, including the market access of goods and services trade and investment as well as regulations for trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and others.

The pact will vigorously boost confidence in regional trade and investment, enhance the ability of all parties to cooperate in fighting the pandemic, hasten the economic recovery in all countries, and promote the long-term prosperity and development of the region, Wang said.

Cao Jing, Deputy Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, forecast that the signing of RCEP will also help advance the negotiations on the trilateral free trade agreement among China, Japan and the ROK as the leaders of the three countries agreed to speed up the FTA negotiations based on the RCEP negotiations last December.

Cambodia's Commerce Ministry Secretary of State and spokesman Seang Thay said the pact would promote trade liberalization in the region, give the member countries greater market access and further develop the ties in economy, trade and investment.

The RCEP agreement was signed at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging across the globe, and the world economy is in a serious recession with contracted global trade and investment and rising protectionism and unilateralism.

Calling the signing of RCEP "light and hope through dark clouds," the Chinese premier said at the summit that it shows that "multilateralism and free trade are the right way forward, and remain the right direction for promoting the growth of the world economy and the progress of humanity."

"It also shows that in the face of challenges, countries should choose solidarity and cooperation over conflict and confrontation, and look out for each other in the spirit of partnership rather than follow a beggar-thy-neighbour approach or sit by and do nothing," Li said.

"The signing of the RCEP agreement proves to the world that openness and cooperation are a sure path toward mutual benefits," Li said.

Wang said RCEP supports trade and investment liberalization and facilitation with practical actions and will boost confidence in the global economy.

The signing of the pact shows that all members are committed to cutting down tariffs, opening up markets and reducing barriers of standards, which sends a strong signal against unilateralism and protectionism, and effectively supports free trade and the multilateral trading system, said the vice commerce minister.

Ruan Zongze, Executive Vice President of the China Institute of International Studies, said the RCEP trade pact accommodates the broadest possible interests, conditions and priorities of different countries, embodies the spirit of multilateralism, and sends a clear message of East Asian countries working together for shared prosperity.

During the RCEP summit, leaders of participating countries agreed that RCEP remains open to India, which was due to sign but pulled out last year, and welcomed India to join the pact soon.

Analysts said that the signing of RCEP would facilitate China's endeavour of a new "dual circulation" development pattern, where domestic and overseas markets reinforce each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay.

All RCEP members are China's important economic and trade partners. Statistics show that from January to September 2020, China's total trade volume with other RCEP members reached $1.055 trillion, accounting for about one-third of China's total foreign trade volume.

"The pact will help expand China's export market, meet the needs of domestic import consumption, and strengthen regional industrial and supply chains," said Wang.

It contributes to stabilizing foreign trade and investment and effectively supports China's new development pattern of "dual circulation," he added.

During the summit, Li expressed the hope that the parties involved would complete their domestic approval procedures as soon as possible to allow the trade pact to take effect and benefit the enterprises and the people at an early date.

According to Wang, the RCEP agreement will come into force only if at least nine members enact it, including at least six ASEAN members and at least three countries out of the other five non-ASEAN countries.

"China will work with all parties to let the pact become effective soon," Wang said.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 11:17:14 +0530
Israel advances new settlement homes in East Jerusalem

Tel Aviv,  The Israeli government has promoted a plan for hundreds of new settlement homes in a sensitive area near East Jerusalem.

In a tender issued on its website on Sunday, the Israel Land Authority invited contractors to bid for the construction of 1,257 housing units in Givat Hamatos, a settlement neighbourhood of Jerusalem, reports Xinhua news agency.

The last date for submitting the biddings is January 18, 2021, the Land Authority said.

The settlements are located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Most of the international community considers the settlements a violation of international law and a hurdle to peace.

The new construction is expected to trigger anger among the Palestinians.

Givat Hamatos is located in some of the last lands connecting the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their future state.

The Palestinians want to establish an independent state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital by way of peace talks with the Jewish state.

The last round of peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, sponsored by the US, broke down in 2014 because of their deep divisions on issues related to Israeli settlements and the Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinian Authority severed its diplomatic ties with the administration of US President Donald Trump after he declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 11:11:48 +0530
India slams Pak for deliberate attempt to shift focus from internal failures

New Delhi,  India has slammed a recent press conference by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry and the Establishment calling it, "Yet another futile anti-India propaganda exercise".

Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said in response to a media query, "We have seen media reports on a press conference by the Pakistani establishment. This is yet another futile anti-India propaganda exercise".

"The so called claims of 'proof' against India enjoy no credibility, are fabricated and represent figments of imagination. This desperate attempt will find few takers as the international community is aware of Pakistan's tactics and proof of its terror sponsorship has been admitted by none other than its own leadership," he added.

The reaction by India came a day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed a press conference with Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar to claim that India was behind some of the terror attacks in that country.

The MEA spokesperson said, "The face of global terror, Osama Bin Laden, was found in Pakistan; Pakistan's PM glorified him as a 'martyr' from the floor of Parliament; he admitted the presence of 40,000 terrorists in Pakistan; their Science and Technology Minister proudly claimed involvement and success of Pakistan, led by its Prime Minister, in the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 Indian soldiers were martyred".

Despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the ceasefire understanding of 2003 for maintaining peace and tranquillity, Pakistani forces continue to engage in providing supporting cover fire to infiltrators. The incessant infiltration of terrorists and induction of weapons to fuel terror activities continues unabated. Such activities are not possible without the support of Pakistani forces deployed along the LoC, MEA said.

The MEA said the press conference was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani establishment to shift focus from its internal political and economic failures. It also seeks to justify cross-border terrorism, including ceasefire violations and infiltration across the LoC and IB.

"We call upon Pakistan to end its support to cross border terrorism. Pakistani leaders have never hidden the fact that it has become a factory for producing terrorists. India is not the only neighbour to be targeted as underlined by the statements of countries similarly targeted," he added.

"Distant parts of the world have seen the terror trail lead back to Pakistan. Concocting documents and peddling false narratives will not absolve Pakistan of such actions. We are confident the world will hold it to account," Shrivastava said.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 10:42:38 +0530
Special poojas to mark Lord Guru transition

On the auspicious occasion of transit of Lord Guru Bhagavan also called Sri Dakshinamurthy, Lord of wisdom, from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarious) to Magara Rasi (Capricorn), several temples in Mumbai  conducted special poojas. At Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga, the function started with Sri Ganapathy homam followed by Navagraha Shanthi homam, Dakshinamurthy homam and finally the idol of the lord was bathed with holy water, decorated with gold kavach and flowers and then deeparadhana was performed. This function also marks the occasion of the opening  of the temples for devotees from Monday November 16.

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 10:28:49 +0530
Special poojas to mark Lord Guru transition

On the auspicious occasion of transit of Lord Guru Bhagavan also called Sri Dakshinamurthy, Lord of wisdom, from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarious) to Magara Rasi (Capricorn), several temples in Mumbai  conducted special poojas. At Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga, the function started with Sri Ganapathy homam followed by Navagraha Shanthi homam, Dakshinamurthy homam and finally the idol of the lord was bathed with holy water, decorated with gold kavach and flowers and then deeparadhana was performed. This function also marks the occasion of the opening  of the temples for devotees from Monday October 16.

Sun, 15 Nov 2020 18:45:28 +0530
Special poojas to mark Lord Guru transition

On the auspicious occasion of transit of Lord Guru Bhagavan also called Sri Dakshinamurthy, Lord of wisdom, from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarious) to Magara Rasi (Capricorn), several temples in Mumbai  conducted special poojas. At Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga, the function started with Sri Ganapathy homam followed by Navagraha Shanthi homam, Dakshinamurthy homam and finally the idol of the lord was bathed with holy water, decorated with gold kavach and flowers and then deeparadhana was performed. This function also marks the occasion of the opening  of the temples for devotees from Monday September 16.

On the auspicious occasion of transit of Lord Guru Bhagavan also called Sri Dakshinamurthy, Lord of wisdom, from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarious) to Magara Rasi (Capricorn), several temples in Mumbai  conducted special poojas. At Sri Sankara Mattham, Matunga, the function started with Sri Ganapathy homam followed by Navagraha Shanthi homam, Dakshinamurthy homam and finally the idol of the lord was bathed with holy water, decorated with gold kavach and flowers and then deeparadhana was performed. This function also marks the occasion of the opening  of the temples for devotees from Monday October 16.


Sun, 15 Nov 2020 18:43:16 +0530
Yemen s rebel run court sentences 21 to death for spying

Sanaa, A court controlled by Yemen's Houthi rebels has sentenced 21 men to death for allegedly spying for the Saudi-led coalition which backs the war-torn country's government, according to a report.

The Houthi-run al-Masirah TV's report on Saturday did not identify the defendants, but said they are all Yemenis, reports Xinhua news agency.

There was no comment yet from the coalition or the Yemeni government.

The ruling by the court in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa was the latest in a series of closed-door trials of political opponents held by the Houthis.

Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.

The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi's government.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced nearly 4 million and pushed more than 20 million to the brink of famine.

Sun, 15 Nov 2020 11:10:18 +0530
India summons Pak diplomat over J K ceasefire violations

New Delhi, India on Saturday summoned the Charge d'Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission to lodge a strong protest over unprovoked ceasefire violation in Jammu and Kashmir on the festive occasion of Diwali.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, "The Charge d'Affaires of the High Commission of Pakistan was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs today and a strong protest was lodged over unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces, on multiple sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on 13 November 2020, resulting in the death of four innocent civilians and serious injuries to 19 others".

"India condemns, in the strongest terms, the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by Pakistani forces," MEA said.

"It is highly deplorable that Pakistan chose a festive occasion in India to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence in J&K through coordinated firing along the length of the LoC using heavy caliber weapons, including artillery and mortar on Indian civilians," the statement by India said.

India also strongly protested Pakistan's continued support to cross border terrorist infiltration into India, including through supporting cover fire provided by Pakistan forces. Pakistan was once again reminded of its bilateral commitment to not allow any territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India in any manner.

Sun, 15 Nov 2020 10:37:37 +0530
Russian N Korean hackers target COVID vaccine maker in India

New Delhi, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks from nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, including in India.

The targets include leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the US, and came from Strontium, an actor originating from Russia, and two bad actors originating from North Korea called Zinc and Cerium.

Although Microsoft did not reveal the names of the vaccine makers, at least seven Indian pharma companies are working to develop a vaccine against coronavirus, led by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.

According to Microsoft, among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials.

"One is a clinical research organization involved in trials, and one has developed a Covid-19 test. Multiple organizations targeted have contracts with or investments from government agencies from various democratic countries for Covid-19 related work," Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust, said in a statement on Friday.

Strontium continues to use password spray and brute force login attempts to steal login credentials.

These are attacks that aim to break into people's accounts using thousands or millions of rapid attempts.

Zinc has primarily used spear-phishing lures for credential theft, sending messages with fabricated job descriptions pretending to be recruiters. Cerium engaged in spear-phishing email lures using Covid-19 themes while masquerading as World Health Organization representatives.

"The majority of these attacks were blocked by security protections built into our products. We've notified all organizations targeted, and where attacks have been successful, we've offered help," Burt elaborated.

Cyberattacks targeting the health care sector and taking advantage of the pandemic are not new.

Attackers recently used ransomware attacks to target hospitals and healthcare organizations across the US.

In May, a 136-strong group of the world's most prominent international law experts, in what has become known as the Oxford Process, issued a statement making it clear that international law protects medical facilities at all times.

In August, the Oxford Process issued a second statement emphasizing that organizations that research, manufacture and distribute of Covid-19 vaccines are also protected.

Earlier this year, the CyberPeace Institute and International Committee of the Red Cross led an effort by 40 international leaders calling on governments to stop the attacks on healthcare.

In April, Microsoft announced that it was making AccountGuard, its threat notification service, available to health care and human rights organizations working on Covid-19.

"Since then 195 of these organizations have enrolled in the service and we now protect 1.7 million email accounts for health care-related groups," Burt said.


Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:28:09 +0530
Amid revenue crunch govt asks CPSEs to pay dividends quaterly

New Delhi, The Finance Ministry has advised the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) which pay higher dividends to pay the dividends every quarter rather than once in a year.

Other CPSEs have been suggested to pay dividends in a half-yearly basis.

The advisory comes at a time when the government is finding it difficult to raise revenue amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an advisory to the public sector companies under the Cetral government, the ministry said it has observed that most CPSEs pay interim dividend in February/March.

"The CPSEs, especially companies that pay relatively higher dividend (100 per cent dividend or Rs 10 per share), may consider paying interim dividend every quarter after quarterly results," it said.

The ministry has also said that CPSEs must have a consistent dividend policy.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which comes under the Finance Ministry, said that all state-owned firms should consider paying at least 90 per cent of the projected annual dividend in one or more instalments as interim dividend.

As per the norms, PSUs have to pay a minimum annual dividend of 30 per cent of PAT or 5 per cent of net worth, whichever is higher.

Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:23:23 +0530
Amid revenue crunch govt asks CPSEs to pay dividends quaterly

New Delhi, The Finance Ministry has advised the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) which pay higher dividends to pay the dividends every quarter rather than once in a year.

Other CPSEs have been suggested to pay dividends in a half-yearly basis.

The advisory comes at a time when the government is finding it difficult to raise revenue amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an advisory to the public sector companies under the Cetral government, the ministry said it has observed that most CPSEs pay interim dividend in February/March.

"The CPSEs, especially companies that pay relatively higher dividend (100 per cent dividend or Rs 10 per share), may consider paying interim dividend every quarter after quarterly results," it said.

The ministry has also said that CPSEs must have a consistent dividend policy.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which comes under the Finance Ministry, said that all state-owned firms should consider paying at least 90 per cent of the projected annual dividend in one or more instalments as interim dividend.

As per the norms, PSUs have to pay a minimum annual dividend of 30 per cent of PAT or 5 per cent of net worth, whichever is higher.

Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:23:18 +0530
WHO chief urges global system for sharing pathogen materials

Geneva,  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that there is "an urgent need" for a globally agreed system for sharing pathogen materials and clinical samples, to facilitate rapid development of medical countermeasures as global public goods.

"It can't be based on bilateral agreements, and it can't take years to negotiate," Ghebreyesus said on Friday in his closing remarks at the 73rd World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO.

The WHO is proposing a new approach that would include a repository for materials housed by WHO in a secure Swiss facility, an agreement that sharing materials into this repository is voluntary, that WHO can facilitate the transfer and use of the materials, and a set of criteria under which WHO would distribute them, Xinhua quoted the Director-General as saying.

He said that health ministers of Thailand and Italy, as well as Swiss federal officials, have shown their support to the proposal.

Other countries have also expressed interest and will hopefully dive into discussions.

Tedros also said that the pandemic has demonstrated the consequences of chronic under-investment in public health.

"This health crisis has ignited a socio-economic crisis that has impacted billions of lives and livelihoods and undermined global stability and solidarity. Returning to the status quo is not an option.

"The time has come for a new narrative that sees health not as a cost, but an investment that is the foundation of productive, resilient and stable economies," he said.

The WHO chief announced to establish a new Council on the Economics of Health for All to focus on the links between health and sustainable, inclusive and innovation-led economic growth.

The council will comprise leading economists and health experts and is expected to hold its first virtual session in the coming weeks to discuss its work plan and mode of operation, Tedros added.

Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:18:28 +0530
Modi Rahul pay tributes to Nehru on his 131st birth anniversary

New Delhi,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday paid tributes to country's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his 131st birth anniversary, which is celebrated as the Children's day.

Modi in a tweet said, "My tributes to first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary."

Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter and wrote, "Today, India celebrates the birth anniversary of its first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji: a towering visionary who laid the foundation of our country with values of brotherhood, egalitarianism and modern outlook. Our endeavour must be to conserve these values."

Rahul Gandhi also paid floral tributes to Nehru at Shanti Vana here.

Nehru led the country from 1947 to 1964, until his death.

His birthday is celebrated as the Children's day after his death in 1964 for his fondness with children. He was popularly called "Chacha" Nehru.

Nehru was born in Allahabad on November 14, 1889 to Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani. His father, Motilal Nehru was a prominent lawyer.


Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:13:38 +0530
Governor Koshyari releases journalist Avinash Pathak s Marathi books

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Friday (13th Nov) released senior journalist and writer Avinash Pathak’s two Marathi books through digital platfor