Thu, 23 July 2020
Sushant case: Cops may take Kangana's statement
23:34 Sushant case: Cops may record Kangana's statement
The Mumbai Police who are probing actor Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide are likely to record a statement of Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, an official said on late Thursday evening.
But no formal intimation has been sent to her yet, he added.
After Sushant Singh's alleged suicide at his apartment in Mumbai last month, Ranaut had lashed out at nepotism and cartels in Bollywood, alleging that Singh was its victim.
On July 3, the police had tried to summon Ranaut back to the city and record her statement, the police official said.
Ranaut, who is currently in Manali, might give her statement through email, said another police official.
The police have so far questioned a few Bollywood personalities in the case, including casting director Mukesh Chhabra, Yash Raj Films Chairman Aditya Chopra, YRFs casting director Shanoo Sharma and film critic Rajeev Masand. -- PTI
23:22 Naidu nominates new RS members to House panels
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday nominated new members to various Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees, a day after administering the oath/affirmation to them.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Jyotiraditya Scindia has become a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Resource Development, while Congress member Digvijaya Singh has been nominated to the Committee on Urban Development.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar has been made a member of the Committee on Defence.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has been nominated to the Standing Committee on Commerce, former Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambi Durai to the Committee on HRD, and former Rajya Sabha deputy speaker Harivansh to the panel on Agriculture.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, who took oath as Rajya Sabha member, has been nominated to the Committee on Railways, while former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has been made a member of the Committee on External Affairs.
Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe has been appointed as the Chairman of the Committee on Human Resource Development further to the expiry of the membership of Satyanarayan Jatiya.
With this, those who have made oath/affirmation on July 22 will get to participate in the meetings of respective committees.
Forty-five of the 61 newly elected members of Rajya Sabha took oath on Wednesday.
The remaining 16 new members would participate only after subscribing to oath/affirmation, an official statement said.
In all, Naidu has nominated 65 members on different committees, including filling up of some vacancies by the sitting members. Ramdas Athawale, being a Minister, was not nominated to any committee.
Among others who have been nominated to various Parliamentary Committees are Bhubaneswar Kalita (HRD), G K Vasan (HRD), Subrata Bakshi, Ram Chander Jangra, Alla Ayodhya Rami Reddy and Sumer Singh Solanki (all Urban Development); Priyanka Chaturvedi, Deepak Prakash, Mausam Noor (all Commerce); K T S Tulsi, Nabam Rebia, J M Lokhandwala, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, Muzibulla Khan (all Energy); Dinesh Trivedi (Home Affairs); and Udayan Raje Bhonsle, Narahari Ameen and Phulo Devi Netam (all Railways).
Prem Chand Gupta and Rajeev Satav have been nominated to the Committee on Defence, Tiruchi Siva and K C Venugopal to the Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture), and Shibu Soren and Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao to the Committee on Coal and Steel). -- PTI
23:07 IPL set to start on Sep 19, final on Nov 8
The eagerly-awaited Indian Premier League will start on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates with the final slated on November 8, well-placed Board of Control for Cricket in India sources told PTI on Thursday.
While the IPL Governing Council will meet next week to chalk out the final details and approve the schedule, it is understood that the BCCI has informally intimated the franchises about the plan.
"IPL in all likelihood will start on September 19 (Saturday) and the final will be held on November 8 (Sunday). It is a 51-day window which will suit the franchises as well as the broadcasters and other stakeholders," a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The IPL has been made possible by the ICC's decision to postpone the October-November T20 World Cup in Australia owing to the COVID-19 pandemic due to which the host country expressed its inability to conduct the event.
While there were speculations that IPL will start from September 26, the BCCI decided to advance it by a week in order to ensure that the Indian team's tour of Australia is not jeopardised.
"The Indian team will have a mandatory quarantine of 14 days as per Australian government rules. A delay would have sent the plans haywire.
"The best part is that 51 days is not at all a curtailed period and there will be much less double headers. We could stick to original five double headers in seven week window," the official said.
It is expected that with each and every team needing at least a month's time to train, the franchises will be leaving base by August 20 which gives them exactly four weeks time to prepare.
23:00 Gehlot govt has majority figure far more than it requires: Raj Cong chief
Amid the current political crisis in the state, Rajasthan Congress Chief Govind Singh Dotasra said on Thursday his party's government has the majority figure, which is far more than that is required.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said an assembly session will be called soon and his government will prove its majority. He hoped that some of the dissident MLAs, who are led by sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, will also attend the session when it is called "very soon".
Dotasra said, "The government has the majority figure... hundred per cent... far more than the government requires."
To the question of holding an assembly session, he said, ''We are ready. If our chief minister calls the House... we are ready for the floor test."
Dotasra said he would soon formally take over as the Congress' state unit head.
The indication that the Gehlot government is preparing for a floor test in the assembly comes a day ahead of the expected pronouncement of a high court order on the disqualification notices sent by the Speaker to the rebel MLAs.
But any Rajasthan High Court order will be subject to the outcome of a petition by the Rajasthan Speaker that the Supreme Court is now hearing.
The 19 dissident MLAs had filed a petition in the high court, challenging the disqualification notices. -- PTI
22:57 Intense rainfall activity over north, northeast India from July 26: IMD
North and northeast parts of the country will witness intense rainfall activity from July 26 to 29 due to a monsoon trough, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday.
The monsoon trough is likely to shift close to foothills of Himalayas July 26 onwards.
"Fairly widespread to widespread rainfall activity with isolated heavy to very heavy falls are very likely over Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during July 26-28 and over Punjab and Haryana during July 27 29," the weather department said.
The intensity and distribution of rainfall is very likely to increase over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh with widespread rainfall activity along with isolated heavy to extremely heavy rainfall during July 26-29.
"Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is also likely to occur over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during the same period," the IMD said. -- PTI
21:46 Rlys to have airport-like contactless ticketing
The railways will move towards contactless ticketing like at airports with QR code-enabled tickets, which will be scanned on handheld devices and mobile phones at the stations and on the trains, a senior official of the national transporter said on Thursday.
Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said while 85 per cent train tickets are currently being booked online, a QR code will also be available for those buying tickets from counters.
"We have introduced a QR code system, which will be given on tickets. If one buys online, the code will be provided on the ticket. Even on window tickets, where one gets a physical ticket, a text message will be sent to the passenger's mobile phone, which will have a link, and the QR code will be displayed when the link is touched.
"Then the TTE at the stations or on the trains, either with their hand-held equipment or through their mobile phones which will have a QR application, will be able to scan the code and immediately capture the details of the passengers. So the ticketing system will be completely contactless," he said.
Yadav said the railways is not planning to go completely paperless as of now, but will considerably reduce its use by facilitating online booking of reserved, unreserved and platform tickets.
He also said an online recharge facility of suburban cards and Kolkata Metro has been enabled. A pilot project of contactless ticket-checking with an airport-like check-in for all passengers entering the station has been introduced at Prayagraj Junction of North Central Railway.
A spokesperson of the North Central Railway explained how the process works at the Prayagraj station.
As a passenger enters the station premises, the QR code of his ticket is scanned through a mobile application and this gets updated in the software's database. The time of scanning the QR code also gets updated in the application.
The station has check-in counters to minimise the exposure of the checking staff to the passengers. The QR code is scanned and the thermal screening of passengers initiated at these counters, the official said.
He added that the onboard ticket-checking staff also gets information on passengers simultaneously -- all information is provided to their handheld machines, including a coach-wise display with the number of berths, unbooked berths and number of boarding passes. -- PTI
21:28 Don't buy plasma, it's free: Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said the government is providing plasma for free and people do not need to buy or sell it.
Kejriwal inspected a redevelopment project at Chandni Chowk on Thursday. He spoke about the adequate availability of plasma on the sidelines of his visit, according to a statement.
"We are giving free plasma to people. We have more than 500 plasma samples as stock in ILBS Hospital. What is the need of selling and buying plasma if the government is providing plasma for free? People do not need to buy plasma because all plasma blood groups are available there," he said.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said strict action will be taken if it is found that monetary transaction was done during the process of plasma donation for any COVID-19 patient.
A first-of-its-kind 'plasma bank' in the country was recently set up at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Science in south Delhi. -- PTI
21:25 Karnataka records over 5,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day
Karnataka on Thursday recorded a biggest single-day surge of over 5,000 cases and 97 related fatalities, taking the total number of people who tested positive for the virus to 80,863, the health department said.
The day also saw a record 2,071 patients getting discharged after recovery.
Out of 5,030 fresh cases reported, a whopping 2,207 cases were from Bengaluru urban alone.
As of July 23 evening, cumulatively 80,863 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, which includes 1,616 deaths and 29,310 discharges, the health department said in its bulletin.
It said, out of 49,931 active cases, 49,291 patients are in isolation at designated hospitals and are stable, while 640 are in ICU.
Out of the 97 deaths reported on Thursday 48 are from Bengaluru urban, followed by Mysuru 8, Dakshina Kannada 7 and others.
Most of the dead are either with a history of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) or Influenza-like illness (ILI).
Among the districts where the new cases were reported, Bengaluru urban accounts for 2,207, followed by Raichur 258, Kalaburagi 229, Dakshina Kannada 218, and others.
Bengaluru urban district tops the list of positive cases, with a total of 39,200 infections, followed by Dakshina Kannada 4,209 and Kalaburagi 3,370. -- PTI
Governor R N Ravi. Photograph: Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com
21:03 Issued memo to govt staff on governor's order: Nagaland
An office memorandum issued by the home department of the Nagaland government dated July 7 had asked all its employees to self-declare if any of their family members and relatives are members of underground organisations.
'The Nagaland government has clarified that it had passed an order asking all its employees to declare if any relative was working for underground organisations only on the insistence of Governor R N Ravi. Ravi is also the interlocutor of the peace talks of Naga insurgent groups with the Centre,' reports Abhishek Saha in the Indian Express, here.
20:56 Raj assembly session 'very soon', says Gehlot
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said an assembly session will be called soon and his government will prove its majority.
The session of the assembly will take place soon. The majority is with us, all Congress MLAs are united, Gehlot told reporters.
He hoped that some of the dissident MLAs, who are led by sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, will also attend the session when it is called very soon.
Without them too, we have a full majority and will go to the House on the basis of this majority, and we will prove it, he said.
The indication that the Gehlot government is preparing for a floor test in the assembly comes day ahead of the expected pronouncement of a high court order on the disqualification notices sent by the Speaker to the rebel MLAs.
But any Rajasthan high court order will be subject to the outcome of a petition by the Rajasthan Speaker that the Supreme Court is now hearing.
The 19 dissident MLAs had filed a petition in the high court, challenging the disqualification notices.
Gehlot said those who went to court are the ones who were wrong and had been misguided.
They are calling us and saying that they are unable to come out, he said, hinting at reports that the rebel MLAs are camping together, just like the ones in his camp. Bouncers are deployed, he alleged.
I hope that some of them, when they come out, will vote with us, the chief minister said, adding that his government is in majority even without their support.
Gehlot said the coronavirus pandemic and political issues will be discussed in the assembly session. -- PTI
20:21 Pak issues final warning to Chinese app TikTok
China's all-weather friend Pakistan has given a big jolt to the business ambition of Chinese tech firms in the country.
In an unprecedented move, Pakistan now has blocked the Bigo Live streaming application and issued a "final warning" to video-sharing app TikTok over obscene and immoral content on these Chinese platforms.
The Chinese business interests are witnessing a heavy pushback from an unlikely quarter, Pakistan, in recent times, where Beijing has invested billions of dollars.
The Pakistani establishment's unhappiness with theses Chinese social media applications is not overtly linked to security or geopolitical issues like India that banned 59 Chinese apps on security grounds.
It's not just India though.
The United States is also seriously mulling a ban on TikTok, alleging that it's a front for data mining and all user data is shared with the Chinese government.
TikTok is under scrutiny in Australia too for similar reasons.
So even if there are security or privacy concerns over Chinese apps in Pakistan, these would never be publically acknowledged by Islamabad.
Pakistan is instead worried that the content on these applications is 'objectionable' that influences youths negatively.
20:07 Air India says no employee will be laid off
Unlike other airlines that have laid off a large number of workers, no employee of Air India will lose his job, the national carrier said on Thursday.
The largest airline of the country, IndiGo, announced on Monday that it would lay off 10 per cent of its workforce due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Recent decisions of the Air India board regarding rationalization of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at the Ministry of Civil Aviation this evening. The meeting reiterated that unlike other carriers which have laid off a large number of their employees, no employee of AirIndia will be laid off," the national carrier said on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Air India announced reduction in the allowances of its employees, who have a monthly gross salary of more than Rs 25,000, by up to 50 per cent.
"There has been no reduction in the basic pay, DA (dearness allowance) and HRA (house rent allowance) of any category of employees. The rationalization of allowances had to be implemented on account of the difficult financial condition of the airline that was exacerbated by COVID-19," the national carrier explained on Twitter.
The flying crew will be paid on the basis of the actual number of hours flown, it added.
"As domestic and international operations expand to reach pre-COVID levels and the financial position of Air India improves, the rationalization of allowances will be reviewed," the airline said.
In another step to rationalise staff costs, Air India issued an internal order on July 14, asking its departmental heads and regional directors to identify the employees, based on various factors such as efficiency, health and redundancy, who will be sent on a compulsory leave without pay for up to five years.
Moreover, it said employees can voluntarily opt for the LWP scheme too.
The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the pandemic.
All airlines in the country have gone for cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, LWP and firing of employees in order to conserve cash.
The national carrier has a debt of around Rs 70,000 crore and the government started the process to sell it to a private entity in January. Air India's net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs 8,500 crore. -- PTI
20:05 2.4 mn children affected by recent floods in India: UNICEF
An estimated 2.4 million children have been affected by the recent floods in India, the UNICEF said on Thursday, calling for immediate support, more resources and innovative programmes to address the challenges faced.
In a statement, UNICEF said though flooding at this period of the year is common, this widespread scale of floods during mid-July is unusual.
"In India, over 6 million people across Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have been affected by the floods, including an estimated 2.4 million children," it said.
UNICEF said it is working with the government and partners to respond quickly and effectively.
It said it is also supporting the Assam government to implement the COVID-19 adapted relief camp management guidelines and child friendly spaces in select districts, in addition to its focused support for maternal and child health service continuity and COVID-19 response in many states, the statement said.
Weeks of torrential monsoon rains, widespread flooding and deadly landslides in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have affected millions of children and families, UNICEF said.
"Even for a region that is all-too-familiar with the devastating impact of extreme weather, the recent heavy monsoon rains, rising floods and continued landslides are creating a perfect storm for children and families affected," said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and containment and prevention measures add an additional complication to the mix, as COVID-19 cases are accelerating in some of the affected areas," she added.
Gough said the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is being compounded by climate change and extreme weather events and are arguably the biggest issues affecting children in South Asia right now.
Immediate support, more resources and innovative programmes are urgently needed to address the challenges that these threats represent to the region's children, she said. -- PTI
19:49 Expect China to work on disengagement: India
India on Thursday asserted that the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the Line of Control is the basis of its bilateral relationship with China, and said it expected the Chinese side to be sincere in completing the disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh.
At an online media briefing, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination is expected to be scheduled soon.
"The maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship," he said.
"Therefore it is our expectation that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the Special Representatives," Srivastava added.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a nearly two-hour-long telephonic conversation on July 5 to bring down tension between the armies of the two countries in eastern Ladakh.
Both sides began the disengagement process from July 6 following the talks between Doval and Wang who were Special Representatives for the boundary question.
"We have also made it clear that India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC and that we will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC," said Srivastava.
He said the two sides have agreed during the conversation of the Special Representatives to work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility. -- PTI
19:15 Pak approach in Kulbhushan case farcical: India
India on Thursday accused Pakistan of blocking all legal remedies to Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava also said Pakistan adopted a "farcical approach" in handling the case, adding India is exploring available options in the matter.
"In the absence of an unimpeded and unhindered consular access as well as of the relevant documents, as a last resort, India tried to file a petition on July 18," he said during an online media briefing.
"However, our Pakistani lawyer informed that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case of Jadhav," he added.
Pakistan had earlier this month said July 20 is the last date of filing a review petition by Jadhav against the death sentence handed down to him by a Pakistani military court.
The 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay. --PTI
18:44 Over 7.88 lakh Indians have returned by Vande Bharat flights
Over 7.88 lakh Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic have returned under Vande Bharat Mission till July 22, Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.
Addressing the regular weekly media briefing, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said 1,03,976 Indians who have returned from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh through land borders.
"As of July 22, under the Vande Bharat Mission a total of 7,88, 217 Indian Nationals have returned and this includes 1,03,976 Indians who have returned from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh through land borders," he said.
The government started Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to evacuate Indians stuck in foreign countries due to suspension of flights owing to coronavirus pandemic. The mission is in its fourth phase now.Srivastava said that in the fourth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, 1197 flights have been scheduled so far including 945 international flights and 252 feeder flights. -- ANI
18:22 6 new COVID-19 cases reported in Dharavi
Six new COVID-19 cases have been reported on Thursday in Dharavi here, taking the total number of cases in the area to 2,513, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
According to the BMC, Dharavi currently has 142 active cases and 2,121 have been cured/discharged till Thursday. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had said on July 11 that Dharavi slum has emerged as a global role model for controlling the spread of novel coronavirus.
So far, Maharashtra has reported 3,37,607 cases, highest in the country. According to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, the state has 1,37,282 active cases, and 187769 people have been Cured/Discharged/Migrated. 12,556 have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Maharastra. -- ANI
18:14 Railways ran 4,615 Shramik trains from May to July
The Railways Thursday said it has met all the existing demand of states for Shramik Special trains to ferry stranded migrant workers home, with the last service being operated on July 9. Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said a total of 4,615 Shramik Special trains have been run since May 1, taking over 63 lakh people home during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Railways started Shramik Specials on May 1 to transport stranded migrant workers to their native states after thousands tried to reach home on foot due to the lockdown.
The Ministry of Railways has said it subsidised the ticket prices for migrant workers by agreeing to pay 85 per cent, while state governments have been asked to pay the remaining 15 per cent.
The last Shramik Special train ran on July 9 and with that we presume that we have met the demand of the states regarding these trains. However, if there is more such demand, we will run these services again, Yadav said in an online press conference on Thursday. -- PTI
18:05 This is what Uddhav wants for his birthday
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Thursday that he would not celebrate his 60th birthday next week. Nobody should come to his house or office to extend greetings on his birthday on July 27, he said.
"Instead of spending money on garlands, the amount should be contributed to the Chief Minister's relief fund. Health camps, blood and plasma donation camps should be organized," he said, adding he would like to dedicate all the birthday wishes to COVID warriors.
"There should be no posters and banners and no crowds," the chief minister added, reminding that the state was still battling coronavirus. "Last four months' efforts are bearing fruit but we have to be alert," he said. -- PTI
17:33 Worrying: Recovered Delhi cop tests positive again
The case of a Delhi policeman having a relapse of the novel coronavirus has baffled experts and the doctors treating him and has raised the question whether a recovered patient can contract the infection again. The policeman, 50, had tested positive for the virus in May and was treated at the Indraprastha Apollo hospitals between May 15 and 22. Thereafter, he had tested negative and resumed duty.
However, on July 10, he again felt unwell with a fever and dry cough and got himself tested on July 13. The report came positive through the rapid antigen test as well as the RT-PCR test, said Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Apollo Hospitals.
The policeman, who has no other underlying ailment, complained of chest pain on July 16 and was admitted to the hospital, the senior doctor said, adding that he is stable and his vitals are being monitored.
"The first time he was tested for coronavirus, he had no symptoms. There was a camp in the hospital and since his friend got tested, he also got tested and came positive, he told PTI. The second time the policeman was tested for antibodies too, but it was found that he did not have antibodies," he said.
What could be the reasons for the relapse of infection? "If it was within a month," said Dr Chawla, "I would have said that it was a dead virus that was giving a positive result. But that is not the case. The other thing could be that it was a false positive when he was tested the first time, although it is very rare in RT-PCR test but still it can occur. The third, of course, is reinfection because he did not have antibodies. I have not seen any other such patient," he said.
17:26 Bachchan on news he's Covid -ve: Incorrect, fake
Actor Amitabh Bachchan, who was admitted to Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital after he tested positive for the Corona virus, has called news reports that he has now 'tested negative' as "incorrect, irresponsible, fake and an incorrigible lie."
Bachchan (77) was responding to a report by Times Now. News18 has also reported that the actor tested negative, in fact quoting Nanavati Hospital sources.
Bachchan announced on July 11 that he had tested positive for the virus and was in hospital. The same day, his son, Abhishek Bachchan, announced soon that he had tested positive as well and was also in the same hospital.
Abhishek's wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan also tested positive and was isolated at home. Aishwarya was moved to hospital a week later. Jaya Bachchan tested negative.
16:46 India sees record Covid recoveries in single day
As many as 29,557 COVID-19 patients have recuperated in the past 24 hours, the highest recorded in a day so far, taking the recovery rate to 63.18 per cent, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday.
According to data updated at 8 am, total recoveries have surged to 7,82,606 and exceeded the active cases of COVID-19 by 3,56,439 as on date.
The number of tests for detection of COVID-19 has also crossed the 15-million mark as the number of cases surged to 12,38,635 on Thursday.
A total of 1,50,75,369 samples have been tested up to July 22 with 3,50,823 samples being tested on Wednesday, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) officials said.
"One million tests were done in three days till Wednesday. The testing capacity has been increased to around 4 lakh per day," scientist and media coordinator at ICMR Lokesh Sharma said.
"While the total number of recovered cases has jumped to 7,82,606, there has been appreciable growth in the recovery rate, which stands at 63.18 per cent," the ministry said.
This accomplishment can be attributed to the central government-led COVID-19 management strategies, it said.
Sustained efforts by the Centre, states and union territories are resulting in more effective containment, aggressive testing, and prompt and efficient clinical treatment strategies.
These are guided by the teams of domain experts in the ninistry of health such as the joint monitoring group and ably complemented by the technical experts at AIIMS-New Delhi, centres of excellence in various states and UTs, ICMR and the National Centre for Disease Control. -- PTI
16:39 Bengal police acting like workers of ruling party: Guv
Expressing concern over the alleged deterioration of law and order in West Bengal, governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said the state police were not functioning in accordance with the rules, and urged chief minister Mamata Banerjee to find time and interact with him on the matter.
Taking to Twitter, the governor said opposition MPs and MLAs were being targeted by the police, which "acts as workers of the ruling party".
"As the governor of the state, I am extremely worried to see this alarming decline in the law and order situation in the state," he said in a video message.
Dhankhar, who has been at loggerheads with the Trinamool Congress government on several issues since he took charge as the governor of West Bengal a year ago, said, "Public representatives and opposition party leaders are virtually being hunted out of public space by the state police. This is undemocratic."
Dhankhar also claimed that members of parliament and assembly were being ill-treated by the police.
"I have requested the honourable Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to spare time and interact with me... We cannot afford to have police that does not act in accordance with law but acts in a partisan manner like a political worker of the ruling party," he added.
Several opposition leaders, including those of the BJP, have in the recent past claimed that they were stopped from distributing relief material to people hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and Cyclone Amphan.
Earlier this month, a BJP MLA was found hanging from the ceiling of a veranda outside a shuttered shop near his home in North Dinajpur district, following which the saffron party claimed that he was murdered.
The post-mortem report, however, stated that the "legislator died due to hanging and no injury mark was found on his body". -- PTI
16:09 COVID-19: Admission criteria for NITs relaxed
The HRD ministry on Thursday announced a relaxation in the admission criteria for NITs and centrally funded technical institutions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing away with the requirement of minimum 75 per cent marks in Class 12 board exams.
"Due to prevailing circumstances, Central Seat Allocation Board has decided to relax the eligibility criterion for admissions to NITs and other centrally funded technical institutions," Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' tweeted.
"JEE Main 2020 qualified candidates will now only need to obtain a passing certificate in class XII examination irrespective of the marks obtained," he further said.
For admissions in NITs and other centrally funded technical institutions, apart from qualifying the JEE-Main, the eligibility was to secure a minimum of 75 per cent marks in Class 12 board exams or rank among the top 20 percentile in their qualifying examinations.
The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Mains, which has been postponed twice, will now be held from September 1-6.
15:59 Older adults coped with COVID-19 pandemic best, study reveals
Older adults who are aged 60 and above, have better emotional wellbeing, and felt less stressed and threatened by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a new UBC (The University of British Columbia) research.
Based on daily diary data collected between mid-March and mid-April of this year, the researchers found that older people have fared better emotionally compared to younger adults (18-39) and middle-aged adults (40-59).
The new research results were published in the 'Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences'. "Our findings provide new evidence that older adults are emotionally resilient despite public discourse often portraying their vulnerability. We also found that younger adults are at greater risk for loneliness and psychological distress during the pandemic," said Patrick Klaiber, the study's lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology.
For the study, the researchers analysed data from 776 participants aged 18-91, who lived in Canada and the US and completed daily surveys for one week about their stressors, positive events, and their emotional well-being during the first several weeks of the pandemic. The time period was selected as it was likely to be the period of greatest disruption and uncertainty as local, provincial and state governments began issuing stay-at-home orders.
Klaiber says the difference in reported stress levels may be a result of age-related stressors and how well the different age groups respond to stress.
"Younger and middle-aged adults are faced with family- and work-related challenges, such as working from home, homeschooling children, and unemployment. They are also more likely to experience different types of ongoing non-pandemic stressors than older adults, such as interpersonal conflicts," said Klaiber.
Klaiber added, "While older adults are faced with stressors such as higher rates of disease contraction, severe complications, and mortality from COVID-19, they also possess more coping skills to deal with stress as they are older and wiser."
The study also revealed older and middle-aged adults experienced more daily positive events -- such as remote positive social interactions -- in 75 per cent of their daily surveys, which helped increase positive emotions compared to younger adults.
15:45 EC defers bypolls in 8 areas due to COVID-19
Considering the ongoing pandemic situation and floods the Election Commission of India has deferred by-elections of eight constituencies up to September 7 this year. The elections will be held as soon as the situation becomes conducive.
The eight constituencies are -- Bihar (1 Valmiki Nagar PC), Assam (108, Sibsagar AC), Tamil Nadu (10-Thiruvottiyur, AC and 46, Gudiyattam (SC) AC), Madhya Pradesh (166, Agar, (SC) AC), Uttar Pradesh (65, Bulandhahr AC and 95, Tundla AC) and Kerala (117, Chavara AC). By the provision, vacancies are required to be filled through by-election within six months from the date of occurrence of vacancies provided that the remainder of the term in relation to the vacancy in one year or more.
"The situation of COVID-19 has not improved in several parts of the country and conducting elections in this situation would pose a grave risk to the health and safety of the citizen," a source from ECI stated.
Moreover, as certain states and districts have received heavy rainfall leading to flooding situation, "District administration would be engaged in flood control and mitigation works during this period. Twin constraints would impact significantly electoral activities," the source added.
The condition in Assam and Bihar have worsened following heavy rainfall and flood.
15:40 Govt issues order for permanent commission of women officers in Army
The Army on Thursday said the government has issued an order for grant of permanent commission of women officers in the force.
Army Spokesperson Col Aman Anand said the government order paved the way for empowering of women officers to shoulder larger roles in the Army.
"The order specifies grant of permanent commission to Short Service Commissioned women officers in all 10 streams of the Indian Army," he said.
Col Anand said the 10 streams where permanent commission of women officers are being made available include army air defence, signals, engineers, army aviation, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps and Intelligence corps in addition to the existing streams of judge and advocate general and army educational corps.
"Their selection board will be scheduled as soon as all affected SSC women officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation," he said.
15:39 Ex-Fortis promoter Shivinder Singh gets bail
The Delhi HC granted bail to former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh in a money laundering case related to alleged misappropriation of funds at Religare Finvest Ltd.
Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, who pronouced the order through video conferencing, granted the relief to Shivinder in furnishing of a person bond of Rs one crore and two sureties by family members of Rs 25 lakh each.
The judge also directed the investigating officer of the ED to request the Bureau of Immigration to open LOC in Shivinder's name to prevent any unannounced exit from the country.
The high court imposed various other bail conditions on him, including that he shall not tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses, directly or indirectly.
He was arrested in the money laundering case last year.
RFL is a group firm of REL - Religare Enterprises Ltd, which was earlier promoted by Malvinder Singh and his brother Shivinder Singh.
The EOW registered an FIR in March last year after it received a complaint from RFL's Manpreet Suri against Shivinder, Godhwani and others, alleging that loans were taken by them while managing the firm but the money was invested in other companies. ED lodged a money laundering case based on this.
14:25 Rs 1 lakh fine for not wearing masks, 2-yr jail term for violating lockdown in Jharkhand
Jharkhand government on Thursday announced Rs 1 lakh fine for not wearing a mask and two-year jail term for violating lockdown guidelines. As cases in India crossed the 12 lakh-mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that till the vaccine comes, the country needs to fight vigorously against the coronavirus.
In the last 24 hours, a record 45,720 coronavirus cases were recorded in India, pushing the total Covid-19 tally to over 12 lakh mark today. The death toll due to the disease rose to 29,861 with 1,129 fatalities reported in one day. According to health ministry data, the total number of COVID-19 cases stands at 12,38,635. Of this, 4,26,167 are active cases in the country, while 7,82,606 people have recovered or have been discharged from hospitals.
13:54 Sushant's death: Mumbai cops to summon Kangana
Mumbai Police will soon issue summons to actor Kangana Ranaut to record her statement in connection with the case related to the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, officials said on Thursday.
A day after Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide, Kangana Ranaut had released a two-minute video speaking highly of the deceased actor and accusing certain sections of the film industry of not acknowledging the star's talent.
She had also said that some of the last social media posts by the actor made it evident that he was struggling to survive in the industry.
According to the police, statements of 39 people, including film critic Rajeev Masand, director-producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and filmmaker Aditya Chopra have been recorded in the investigation so far.
The Mumbai Police had recently said the statements of three psychiatrists and one psychotherapist have been recorded in connection with the suicide investigation.
Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai residence on June 14.
13:26 Babri Masjid: Advani likely to depose tomorrow
A special CBI court on Thursday recorded the statement of BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case. The statement of the 86-year-old leader was recorded in the court of Special Judge S K Yadav through video conference.
Former deputy prime minister LK Advani (92) is likely to record his statement in a similar manner on Friday.
The Babri mosque demolition trial is presently at the stage of recording of statements of 32 accused in the case under Section 313 of CrPC during which they get an opportunity to refute the prosecution evidence against them.
The mosque in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992, by 'kar sevaks' who claimed that an ancient Ram temple stood at the same site. Advani and Joshi were among those leading the Ram temple movement at that time. The court is conducting day-to-day hearing in the case to complete its trial by August 31 as directed by the Supreme Court. PTI
13:17 AIIMS Nagpur develops smart wristband to track Covid patients
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Nagpur in collaboration with IIT Jodhpur and IIT Nagpur has indigenously designed and developed a model for effective tracking and monitoring of Covid positive and suspect patients.
This device is in the form of a smart wristband that is designed to overcome the limitations of any existing online mobile apps for tracking and monitoring.
The existing apps depend on the continuous use of mobile phones by the quarantined person and the availability of stable internet connections.Additionally, the existing mobile apps use GPS or cell tower triangulation methods for tracking location with an accuracy that may vary sometimes up to a radius of 1.5 to 2 kilometres.
Apart from tracking the quarantined person's movement, it is also essential to monitor their symptom which in the existing apps relies only on the user's subjective self-assessment.
"The novel device can provide mobile free operation, using a geofencing technology which will provide a real-time alert on any breach in the quarantine zone," said Dr Prathamesh Kamble, Assistant Professor, Physiology, AIIMS Nagpur.
This wristband, in addition, will provide real-time, objective and reliable data of vitals of the wearer like the temperature, pulse rate, respiratory
rate and the oxygen saturation, so that the quarantined person will get a health alarm thus helping them seek early medical help.
This data will be collected and archived on cloud facilitating monitoring by health workers from a distance.The technology is developed by Dr Mayur Parate and Dr Ankit Bhurane, city-based professionals from IIIT Nagpur. This device will operate on a technology that is more effective than the GPS system, said Dr Mayur.
12:55 SC refuses to pass order on home delivery of liquor
Updates from the Supreme Court:
-- SC refuses to entertain a petition filed by the Maharashtra Wine Merchants Association, seeking a direction against home delivery of liquor in Pune & Nasik. "We are not interested to hear this petition. Liquor is not an essential thing, why should we make an urgent order," says SC.
-- Court refuses to entertain a plea seeking a direction to the AYUSH Ministry to develop a standard Yoga protocol to enhance COVID-19 resistance among people.
12:52 Pilot vs Cong: SC asks Raj HC to hear matter
Rajasthan Speaker's petition in SC: Court tells Speaker's counsel Kapil Sibal, "Let this matter be heard at length."
Sibal urges SC to stay proceedings in Rajasthan High Court.
Court seeks response from Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Sachin Pilot and 18 MLAs.
Supreme Court says, Rajasthan High Court can pass orders on Congress MLAs plea against disqualification notice from Rajasthan Speaker.
A Bench of Justice Arun Mishra refuses the request of Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi to stay the Rajasthan High Court proceedings on Sachin Pilot and MLAs petition against disqualification notice.
The court says it is not restraining Rajasthan HC from passing the order on pleas of dissident 19 Cong MLAs challenging Speaker's disqualification notice.
12:26 Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch
Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Poonch district on Thursday prompting India to hit back in equal measure, PRO Defence Jammu said.
The Pakistani troops started unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and resorted to shelling with mortars in Qasba sector in the morning today.
"Pakistan continues its nefarious activities along LoC in J&K. Today, initiated unprovoked Ceasefire Violation by small arms firing and shelling with Mortars in Qasba sector, District Poonch. Indian Army retaliates befittingly," tweeted PRO Defence Jammu. No loss of lives or damage to property has been reported so far. -- ANI
12:18 UP CM hiding poor conditions in hospitals: Priyanka
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday attacked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the state of health facilities in Uttar Pradesh where COVID-19 patients are being treated, alleging that he is more interested in hiding their conditions than improving them. The Congress general secretary has been criticising the UP government's response to the COVID-19 crisis, alleging that it is indulging in propaganda, instead of dealing with the pandemic.
"In the COVID-era, health facilities should be up and running. But, Mahoba's women's hospital is in this condition. You have seen the bad state of hospitals in Bareilly and Gorakhpur," she said in a tweet in Hindi, tagging a video showing the hospital in Mahoba waterlogged.
"In Lucknow, the CM, who makes statements about health facilities, is interested in hiding these conditions, not improving them," Priyanka Gandhi said. Earlier this week, Priyanka Gandhi had tagged a video of rain water pouring down from the ceiling of a coronavirus ward of a hospital in Bareilly.
She had also put out a video of the COVID-19 ward in Gorakhpur's medical college last week that showed the facility was full of drainage water.
A total of 34 people died of COVID-19 and 2,300 tested positive for the infection in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, raising the death toll due to the disease to 1,263 and total cases to 55,588. -- PTI
Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi
12:03 Dissent can't be shut down: SC tells Raj Speaker
Update on Rajasthan Speaker's petition in Supreme Court: "There can't be a protective order at this stage. When Rajasthan High Court extended time to reply on notices and said no directions will be passed, that was a protective order," says Kapil Sibal, who is the Speaker's counsel.
SC asks Kapil Sibal, "On what grounds was disqualification sought?"
Sibal tells court, "MLAs didn't attend party meet, they're indulging in anti-party activities. They're in a Haryana hotel, incommunicado and sought floor test against their own party."
Justice Arun Mishra asks Sibal, "Can a person elected by people not express his dissent? Voice of dissent cannot be suppressed. In a democracy, can somebody be shut down like this?"
BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi records statement through video conferencing before CBI court hearing Babri mosque demolition case.
11:49 Courts can't mediate in disqualification: Speaker
Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the state high court has no jurisdiction to restrain him from conducting disqualification proceedings till July 24 against 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra commenced hearing on Joshi's plea that referred to a famous top court verdict rendered in the 1992 Kihoto Hollohan case, in which it was held that courts can't intervene in disqualification proceedings undertaken by the Speaker under Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Joshi, said courts could only intervene when the Speaker takes a decision to suspend or disqualify a member of the House. Sibal's response came when the bench asked him whether courts could not intervene at all if the Speaker suspended or disqualified a lawmaker.
The hearing on the plea is underway.
Joshi has challenged the Rajasthan High Court's July 21 order, which said the verdict on the petition filed by the 19 MLAs, challenging the disqualification notices, will be pronounced on July 24 and asked him to defer the disqualification proceedings till then.-- PTI
11:45 1 lakh water connections given every day: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said one lakh water connections are being given every day in the country and added that this has become possible as 'Jal Jeevan Mission' is moving forward as a mass movement.
His remarks came after he laid the foundation stone for the Manipur Water Supply Project today through video conferencing. "Today about one lakh water connections are being given every day in the country. Every day, we are removing such a big worry of water from the lives of one lakh mothers and sisters, making their lives easier," the Prime Minister said.
"This acceleration is also possible because 'Jal Jeevan Mission' is moving forward as a mass movement. People of the village, especially sisters and public representatives are deciding where the pipes will lay, where the water will be sourced, where the tank will be built, and how much budget will be made," he said.
Speaking on the Manipur Water Supply Project, the Prime Minister said: "Today is a big day for millions of Manipur colleagues including Imphal, especially our sisters. Manipur water supply project will be completed at a cost of about Rs 3,000 crore and it is going to reduce water problems of the people here."
"The 'jal dhara' from this project will become 'jeevan dhara' for 25 cities and towns including Greater Imphal and 1700 villages. The big thing is that this project is designed keeping in mind the needs of not only today but for the next 20-22 years. With this project, millions of people will not only have access to clean drinking water, but thousands of people will also get employment," he said. -- PTI
11:28 PM Modi lays foundation stone for Manipur Water Supply Project
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Manipur Water Supply Project on Thursday through video conferencing.
The Manipur Water Supply Project is an important component of efforts of the State government to achieve the goal of 'Har Ghar Jal' by 2024.
The project outlay is about Rs 3054.58 crore with a loan component funded by the New Development Bank.
Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh, Manipur Governor Najma Akbar Ali Heptulla, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh also attended the event through video conferencing.
The Government of India initiated the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide safe and adequate quantity drinking water to every rural household of the country by 2024 with the motto "Har Ghar Jal".
The government has provided funds under Jal Jeevan Mission to Manipur for Freshwater Household Tap Connections to cover 1,185 habitations with 1, 42,749 households.
11:06 PM's 100% focused on building own image: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday alleged that "India's captured institutions" are all busy building the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Prime Minister is 100 per cent focused on building his own image. India's captured institutions are all busy doing this task. One man's image is not a substitute for a national vision," he tweeted while posting a video on the microblogging site. In continuation of his video series focusing on border tension with the neighbouring country and other issues, the Congress leader posted another video on Twitter today and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not having a vision and said this is the reason "why China is in there", indicating Chinese troops are still inside Indian territory.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi suggested that India has to "psychologically" deal with Chinese from a position of strength and said that the country needs to have a global vision.
"Psychologically you have to deal with Chinese from a position of strength. If you deal with them from a position of strength, you can work with them, you can get what you need and it can actually be done. If they sense weakness, then you had it. The first thing is you are not going to take on China without a vision and I don't mean a national vision, but an international vision," the Congress leader said in the video.
He said that a huge opportunity is being lost at this moment.
"India has to have a global vision. India has to become an idea and it has to become a global idea. The thing that is going to protect India is actually to think big. Of course, we have this border issue and we have to resolve this border issue. But we have to change our approach and thinking. This is the point at which the road parts if we go this way we become a major player and if choose another way we become irrelevant. That is why I am aggravated because I can see that a huge opportunity is being lost. Why because we are not thinking long term and thinking big because we are disturbing our internal balance," he said.
Attacking the PM, Gandhi said: "We are fighting amongst each other. Just look all-day Indian is fighting Indian. It is because there is no clear vision going forward. I know the Prime Minister is an opponent. My responsibility is to question him, ask questions and put pressure on him so he does his work. His responsibility is to give the vision. But it is not here that's why China is in there today."
The former Congress president termed China's Belt and Road initiative as an "attempt to change the nature of the planet".
This is the fourth video Gandhi has posted as part of his video series attacking the Centre over its handling of the ongoing tussle with the Dragon. Earlier, he released videos on June 17, June 20 and July 23.
10:38 China launches Mars probe in space race with US
China launched a rover to Mars on Thursday, a journey coinciding with a similar US mission as the powers take their rivalry into deep space.
The two countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are favourably aligned for a short journey, with the US spacecraft due to lift off on July 30.
It is a crowded field. The United Arab Emirates launched a probe on Monday that will orbit Mars once it reaches the Red Planet.
The Chinese mission is named Tianwen-1 ("Questions to Heaven") in a nod to a classical poem that has verses about the cosmos.
It launched on a Long March 5 -- China's biggest space rocket -- from the southern island of Hainan.
Chinese authorities have yet to confirm the success of the launch.
Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive in February 2021 after a seven-month, 55-million-kilometre (34-million-mile) voyage.
The mission includes a Mars orbiter, a lander and a rover that will study the planet's soil.
10:19 Ahead of Raksha Bandhan festival, demand for Chinese rakhis fall
Ahead of the Raksha Bandhan festival, the demand for Chinese rakhis have fallen this year, according to shopkeepers from several parts of the country.
People are refusing to buy Chinese rakhis due to tensions between India and China. Women are preferring India-made rakhis to Chinese rakhis. The locals also intend to boost the Indian economy by buying local rakhis. In Himachal Pradesh's Shimla, Aanchal, a customer, said, "We always used to get Chinese rakhis. This year I am buying India-made rakhi. Why should we boost the economy of a country that is a threat to us? I would not tie a rakhi to my brothers which are made in China, the country that attacks our soldier brothers."
"We are not going to buy any Chinese products. This is beneficial for the local artisans as well. I would appeal to all to buy India made rakhis only," she added.
The local traders are also not buying or selling Chinese rakhis for Raksha Bandhan. The traders said that India-made rakhis are also increasing employment among locals.
"Customers are refusing to buy Chinese rakhis. Their first question is whether the rakhi is Chinese or not. Local handmade rakhis are selling. This would also affect the Chinese market, and benefit the locals. The money used to go abroad earlier, now it stays within the country," said Mahesh Kumar, shopkeeper.
Similarly, customers in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad have said that they will buy India-made rakhis only.
"We have to courier rakhis so we are here. We will buy Indian rakhis only. We are checking if the rakhi is Indian or not. We won't buy Chinese rakhis at any cost. Be Indian buy Indian," said Sanjana, a customer.
"There is a demand for India-made rakhis only. No one bought Chinese rakhi. We have got rakhis from Jaipur and Kolkata. Less people are stepping out due to COVID-19," said Ajay, shopkeeper.
10:13 Sachin Pilot vs Gehlot in SC today
The Supreme Court will today hear Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi's petition against the high court order restraining him from conducting disqualification proceedings against 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including Sachin Pilot, till Friday.
Seeking an interim stay on the Rajasthan high court's July 21 order, the plea said it was the duty of the top court to ensure that all constitutional authorities exercise their jurisdiction within the boundaries and respect their "respective 'lakshman rekha' as envisaged by the Constitution itself".
Ashok Gehlot is caught in a power tussle with Sachin Pilot, now sacked from his post as deputy chief minister. He said the alleged attempt to bring down the Congress government in the state insulted the people's mandate and was an open violation of constitutional values. He cited the examples of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the two states where Congress lost power over the past year while alleging horse-trading of MLAs by the BJP.
09:59 California moves past New York, now tops in US for coronavirus cases
A record one-day total of newly confirmed coronavirus cases gave California more than 415,000 since the pandemic began, sending it past New York for the most in the country, data from Wednesday showed.
Californias cases have climbed rapidly in the last month, punctuated by the 12,807 recorded Tuesday, while New Yorks have fallen to less than 1,000 per day. Californias overall total is about 6,000 more than New Yorks, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The surge of cases in California came after much of its economy was reopened in May and early June following nearly three months under the nations first statewide stay-at-home order that forced most businesses to close and restricted where people could go.
09:41 India reports whopping 45,720 new cases in 1 day
India recorded the highest single-day increase with 45,720 new cases pushing the Covid-19 tally to 12,38,635.
The total number of deaths has climbed to 29,861 while 7,82,606 persons have been cured or discharged.
The total number of Covid-19 samples tested up to July 22 is 1,50,75,369 including 3,50,823 samples tested yesterday, says Indian Council of Medical Research.
09:03 MP minister tests positive for Covid-19
A cabinet minister of the Madhya Pradesh government has tested positive for Covid-19.
He took part in state Cabinet meeting yesterday and also attended the last rites ceremony of Governor Lalji Tandon.
He has been admitted to a hospital in Bhopal.
India's tally of Covid-19 neared 12 lakh on Wednesday with several states reporting the highest single-day spikes in fresh cases.
08:26 Don't expect first COVID-19 vaccinations until early 2021: WHO
Researchers are making good progress in developing vaccines against COVID-19, with a handful in late-stage trials, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, a World Health Organization expert said.
WHO is working to ensure fair vaccine distribution, but in the meantime it is key to suppress the viruss spread, said Mike Ryan, head of WHOs emergencies programme, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.
Were making good progress, Ryan said, noting that several vaccines were now in phase 3 trials and none had failed, so far, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response.
Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated, he said.
WHO was working to expand access to potential vaccines and to help scale-up production capacity, Ryan said.
And we need to be fair about this, because this is a global good. Vaccines for this pandemic are not for the wealthy, they are not for the poor, they are for everybody, he said.
07:54 Delhi plans more sero-surveys; next on Aug 1-5
The Delhi government has decided to conduct sero-surveys every month to formulate better policies for tackling Covid-19 in the national capital, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Wednesday.
The decision comes after the city government analysed the results of the latest sero-survey which showed that 23 per cent of the people had exposure to the novel coronavirus.
He also said that the next survey will be conducted from August 1-5.
The minister reiterated that there is "transmission in the community" here and around 25 per cent of people have got infected and recovered in Delhi. But it is a technical term and only the Centre can take a decision to declare it, he said.
"The results of the sero-survey conducted from June 27-July 10 came out yesterday, and it shows that nearly one-fourth of people had developed anti-bodies, meaning they had got infected and recovered. Most of these people who were sampled did not know that they were infected earlier," Jain said.
The Delhi government has now decided to conduct sero-surveys every month to find greater percentage of such people who had got infected and recovered, so as to formulate better policies for tackling COVID-19, he said.
Jain said the surveys will be conducted from 1st to 5th of every month and the Delhi government is working on making a detailed protocol for it, which will be conducted in both containment and non-containment zones.
01:10 Pak files plea for legal counsel for Jadhav
In a unilateral move, the Pakistan government on Wednesday filed a petition in the Islamabad high court seeking appointment of a 'legal representative' for Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, according to the Pakistani media.
However, the main parties, including the government of India, have not been consulted ahead of the filing of the application by the Ministry of Law and Justice under a federal ordinance.
The Pakistan government, in the petition, has asked the court to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that Pakistan can fulfil its responsibility to see to the implementation of the International Court of Justice's decision, the Pakistani media, including the Geo News, reported.
Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an 'effective review and reconsideration' of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
Pakistan enacted an ordinance called the International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020 on May 20 under which a petition for the review of a military court's decision can be made to Islamabad High Court through an application within 60 days of its promulgation.
The Pakistan government has claimed that Jadhav refused to file a review petition or an application to reconsider the verdict.
Pakistan on Thursday provided second consular access to Jadhav, but the Indian government said the access was 'neither meaningful nor credible', and the death row prisoner appeared visibly under stress.
Though the Pakistan foreign ministry had assured India that the consular access on Thursday would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional, it turned out that the arrangements of the meeting were not in accordance with the assurances made by Islamabad, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
The first consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 was earlier provided by Pakistan on September 2 last year.
In the current petition, the Advocate General Branch (AG) of General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Ministry of Defence have been made parties. -- PTI