Tue, 24 November 2020
Daily Covid toll in Italy highest since March
23:45 Pakistan PM approves chemical castration of rapists
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday approved in principle a law on chemical castration of rapists and fast tracking of sexual assault cases, a media report said on Tuesday.
The decision was made during a federal cabinet meeting where the law ministry presented a draft of the anti-rape ordinance, Geo TV reported.
However, there was no official announcement about it.
The report said the draft includes increasing women's role in policing, fast-tracking rape cases and witness protection.
Stressing that this was a serious matter, Mr Khan said no delay will be tolerated.
"We need to ensure a safe environment for our citizens," he said.
The premier said the legislation will be clear and transparent with strict enforcement.
He said the rape survivors will be able to register complaints without fear, adding that the government will protect their identity.
23:19 Daily Covid toll in Italy highest since March
There were a further 853 coronavirus-related deaths in Italy on Tuesday the highest daily toll since the end of March - and 23,232 new infections.
Since the beginning of November, Covid-19 has been confirmed to have claimed the lives of over 12,000 people, with the total number of deaths since February now at 50,453.
Italys doctors federation said that 27 medics have lost their lives within the last 10 days while 27,000 health workers have become infected over the last month.
The highest daily death count so far was reached on 29 March, when 969 fatalities were registered.
New cases were up from 22,930 on Monday. There have been signs of the infection curve beginning to flatten: the highest number of daily infections reported in a single day was 40,902 on 13 November.
23:05 Gen Naravane takes stock of army's operational preparedness along borders in NE
Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane on Tuesday reviewed the operational preparedness of the force along the northern borders as well as its counter-militancy operations in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, officials said.
Gen Naravane arrived in Dimapur in Nagaland on Monday on a three-day visit to various formations under the Eastern Command of the Army to review their operational preparedness.
The Eastern Command is responsible for guarding the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh as well as the Sikkim sectors besides several other areas.
On Monday, the Army Chief was briefed by General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Command Lt Gen Anil Chauhan and General Officer Commanding of Spear Corps Lt Gen R P Kalita on operational preparedness along the northern borders as well as operations in hinterland of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the Army said in a release.
Gen Naravane was also briefed on the progress of the ongoing Naga peace talks.
He visited various stations of the Army and the Assam Rifles in Nagaland and Manipur on Tuesday to make a firsthand assessment of the ground situation, the Army said.
"The Chief of Army Staff interacted extensively with the troops deployed in the remote areas and appreciated their state of operational preparedness, morale and conduct of people-friendly operations," it said.
In the evening, Gen Naravane called on Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to discuss the prevailing security situation in the state.
In the meetings, the Army Chief assured the wholehearted support of the Army and the Assam Rifles in maintaining peace and tranquility in the state and ensuring security along the Indo-Myanmar border, the Army said.
22:50 Pennsylvania certifies election results; declares Biden the winner
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have been certified as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania, the governor said on Tuesday.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said that he has signed the certificate of ascertainment for the slate of electors for Biden and Harris.
"Today @PAStateDept certified the results of the November 3 election in Pennsylvania for president and vice president of the United States. As required by federal law, I've signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," Wolf tweeted.
"Again, I want to thank the election officials who have administered a fair and free election during an incredibly challenging time in our commonwealth and country's history. Our election workers have been under constant attack and they have performed admirably and honorably," Wolf said.
The certification of Pennsylvania election results comes a day after the General Service Administration wrote a letter to President-elect Biden on providing all the access including financial resources required for transition.
Trump in a tweet said that he has instructed his officials to do the needful. At the same time he refrained from formally conceding the election.
The Trump campaign has filed a number of lawsuits in several States challenging the results of the elections. Many of them including those in Pennsylvania have been dismissed. Trump insisted that he has not conceded and the move by GSA has nothing to do with his legal actions.
22:32 PM may lay foundation stone for new Parl in Dec
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to lay the foundation stone for a new Parliament building in the first half of December, sources said on Tuesday.
The sources further said that around five statues, including of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhim Rao Ambedkar, in the Parliament complex are also likely to be relocated temporarily due to the construction work and they will be reinstalled at prominent places within the new complex once the project is completed.
The new building will be constructed close to the existing one under the Central Vista redevelopment project and it is expected to be completed in 21 months from the start of construction work.
The redevelopment project of Central Vista -- the nation's power corridor -- envisages a new triangular parliament building, a common central secretariat and revamping of the 3-km-long Rajpath, from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
Although the proposed date of laying the foundation stone of the new Parliament building is around December 10, the final date would depend on the availability of the prime minister, the sources said.
According to the plan, the new parliament building, which will have separate offices for all MPs, will be equipped with the latest digital interfaces as a step towards creating "paperless offices".
The new building will also have a grand Constitution Hall to showcase India's democratic heritage, a lounge for members of Parliament, a library, multiple committee rooms, dining areas and ample parking space.
The sources said that five statues, including of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhim Rao Ambedkar, at the existing Parliament complex are likely to be relocated temporarily and they would be reinstalled once the construction work of the new Parliament building is completed.
21:52 Biden becomes 1st ever to receive 80 million votes
Joe Biden has received more than 80 million votes in the 2020 US presidential election, the first-ever candidate to do so, as the president-elect prepares to announce his administration in the weeks leading up to his inauguration on January 20.
The vote-tracking count from Cook Political Report reported the Democratic challenger has so far received roughly 51 per cent of the national popular vote to Donald Trumps 47.1 per cent, or more than 73.8 million votes.
21:35 Mumbai reports 939 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths
Mumbai on Tuesday reported 939 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the count of infections to 2,77,446, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.
With 19 more people succumbing to the viral infection, the overall death toll rose to 10,706, it said.
A total of 404 patients were discharged from hospitals after treatment in the last 24 hours, taking the tally of recoveries in the city to 2,52,903, the civic body said.
Notably, the city has crossed the milestone of conducting 18 lakh COVID-19 tests so far.
The number of active cases has increased to 10,666 due to the removal of 2,379 duplicate and out-of-town cases from the list during the reconciliation process, it said.
According to the civic body, the average doubling rate of COVID-19 cases in the city came down to 218 days from over 300 days last week.
The average growth rate of COVID-19 cases now stands at 0.32 per cent, it said.
21:13 Nivar likely to make landfall tomorrow night
The India Meteorological Department has said that very severe cyclonic storm Nivar is likely to make landfall between the coast of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu coast on Wednesday between 8 pm and midnight.
Tamil Nadu has already declared a public holiday tomorrow whereas Section 144 has been imposed in Puducherry for the next three days.
The regional Meteorological Office in Chennai said the cyclone is likely to move northwestwards and pass the Karaikal-Mamallapuram coast around noon on Wednesday.
Villupuram, Cuddalore, Puducherry and Chennai are expected to be among the worst hit regions. According to the cyclone live tracker, Nivar has been stagnant for the past three hours. Earlier, it was moving at a speed of 5 km per hour.
20:37 Schools not opening anytime soon: Delhi Dy CM
Delhi Deputy Chief Minster Manish Sisodia called on all governments to come together as a "team" to fight the double whammy of the rise in coronavirus cases and air pollution. Manish Sisodia said that it is a problem that plagues the whole of North India and not just Delhi. Manish Sisodia also ruled out any possibility of schools reopening anytime soon saying that as a parent he would not send his kids to school unless he was sure they would be safe.
"States need to forget their politics and come together as a team," Manish Sisodia told India Today TV, adding that in the Tuesday morning meeting between PM Narendra Modi and chief ministers, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal requested the prime minster to take the lead on the issue.
Manish Sisodia said that the root cause of Delhi's recent rise of Covid-19 cases lay in stubble burning as it pollutes the air, leading to an environment that is not conducive for the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Refuting speculation that the Delhi government was looking to reimpose a lockdown in the capital, Manish Sisodia said, "Lockdown is not a solution... today, a lockdown won't stop the coronavirus."
20:31 Shaheen Bagh's Bilkis Dadi on BBC's 100 Women Of 2020 List
82-year-old Bilkis Bano has made it to the 'BBC 100 Women 2020' list released on Tuesday.
The list, which celebrates inspirational and influential women across the globe, from high profile names to unsung heroes, also includes Indian para-athlete and current para-badminton world champion Manasi Joshi and climate activist Ridhima Pandey.
The worldwide list includes Sanna Marin, who leads Finland's all-female coalition government; Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films; and Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine; as well as Jane Fonda, a climate activist and actress.
20:11 Cyclone Nivar: Rahul urges people to stay indoors, follow safety measures
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday urged people to follow safety measures as cyclone Nivar was expected to intensify and hit the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts on November 25.
He also urged people to stay indoors and asked Congress workers to provide assistance wherever needed.
"Cyclone Nivar is making its presence felt in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and parts of Andhra Pradesh. Please follow all safety measures. I appeal to all Congress workers to provide assistance to those in need. Stay indoors, stay safe," Gandhi said on Twitter.
Cyclone Nivar is expected to intensify into a 'very severe cyclonic storm' and cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram on the late evening of November 25, the IMD said.
19:51 Kerala moves SC against airport lease to Adanis
The Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court against the Centre's decision to lease Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Adani Enterprises.
The Left Democratic Front government has filed the appeal challenging the Kerala High Court which dismissed the plea on October 19 on the grounds that it was directed against the privatization policy of the Centre and hence devoid of merits.
Seeking an interim stay of the high court's verdict, the plea filed through lawyer C K Sasi said that it has challenged the 'arbitrary and illegal action' of the Airports Authority of India in attempting to prefer a particular private concessionaire, Adani Enterprises Ltd, for the operation, management and development of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
The Kerala government had filed the application in the high court after conducting an all-party-meeting, where demands were raised for the withdrawal of the Union Cabinet's decision to lease the airport to Adani Enterprises.
The Centre had said that the state government did not qualify in the bidding process that was carried out in a "transparent manner".
Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati -- through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February, 2019. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation had taken part in the bidding.
"The contention of Kerala...is that the attempt on the part of the Airport Authority to grant right of Operation, Management and Development of Thiruvananthapuram Airport, to a private party...who has no previous experience in managing airports, is not in public interest and is violative of the provisions of the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994," the plea said.
19:29 Statewide public holiday declared in Tamil Nadu tomorrow ahead of Cyclone Nivar
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami declared a statewide public holiday on Wednesday as Cyclone Nivar is expected to cross Tamil Nadu-Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram tomorrow evening.
"The severe cyclonic storm is expected to cross between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry by tomorrow evening. Under the influence of this cyclone, rainfall is expected to continue up to 27th November in Tamil Nadu," S Balachandran, IMD Chennai said.
IMD said on Tuesday that the cyclone has a wind speed of 100-110 kmph and gusting to 120 kmph. The coastal areas of Tamil Nadu are expected to receive heavy rain between November 23-26.
With the onset of the cyclone, rains started pouring heavily in the Thiruvarur district on Tuesday evening.
"Extremely heavy rainfall expected in coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu districts on November 25. The most vulnerable zone is north Tamil Nadu districts," Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director General (DG), IMD said today.
As a precautionary measure, on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Railway Police, a team of disaster rescue and swimmers were also put on standby.
19:18 UP cabinet okays ordinance against 'love jihad'
The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved the draft of a stringent law to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which Bharatiya Janata Party leaders refer to as 'love jihad'.
An official spokesperson said the approval for the ordinance was given at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow. -- PTI
19:14 Cyclone Nivar: 1200 NDRF personnel deployed
Nearly 1,200 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue personnel have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry and 800 others are on standby in view of cyclone Nivar, the 'very severe cyclonic storm' which is expected to make landfall Wednesday evening.
NDRF chief S N Pradhan also said they are prepared for a 'high level of intensity and the worst form' of the cyclonic storm as it surges from the Bay of Bengal towards the southern coastline.
"We are keeping a close watch on the development and we are coordinating with the affected states," he told a press conference in New Delhi.
"It is a rapidly developing situation and it could take the shape of a very severe cyclonic storm that has a speed of about 120-130 km per hour."
Pradhan said a total of 50 NDRF teams has been earmarked for combating any situation emerging out of the cyclone that is expected to make landfall late Wednesday evening.
An NDRF team typically comprises about 40 rescue troopers.
A total of 22 teams have been pre-deployed while eight are on standby in the two affected states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and in the Union Territory of Puducherry, Pradhan said.
"Out of these 30 teams, 12 are deployed in Tamil Nadu, seven in Andhra Pradesh and three in Puducherry," he said.
An additional 20 teams will be on standby to be airlifted from locations such as Cuttack (Odisha), Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh) and Thrissur (Kerala), he said.
The NDRF chief said the teams are equipped with all communication gadgets, pole and tree-cutters and the personnel have been provided with personal protection kits in view of the COVID-19 situation.
"Our teams will continue to be deployed in the affected areas as long as they are required and they will ensure that situations like heavy rainfall, flooding and waterlogging that follow a cyclonic storm are tackled effectively," he said. -- PTI
18:42 TN atomic power plant braces for Cyclone Nivar
Unit II at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) in neighbouring Kalpakkam was operating at full capacity of 220MW and all the systems were expected to 'successfully' withstand the impact of Cyclone 'Nivar' when it crosses the eastern coast, a top official said on Tuesday.
The Atomic Power Station situation is located about 70 km from Chennai on the East Coast Road.
"All the plant systems are operating normal and expected to successfully withstand the impact of cyclone Nivar, when it crosses the coast," IGCAR Station Director M Srinivas said.
The cyclone protection machinery at the site has been 'activated' and all measures including placing sandbags on the coastal sides, clearing of storm drains and inspection of plant buildings and structures have been done, he said in a release.
The authorities are on high alert, he said, adding they were closely monitoring the weather to take necessary actions when required, he added.
Madras Atomic Power Station has two units -- Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (2x220MWe PHWR), the Nuclear Power Corporation of India which manages MAPS said.
Unit-I is under maintenance.
According to the Met department, the deep depression over Bay of Bengal has intensified into a cyclonic storm and it is likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm and cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts on the evening of November 25. -- PTI
17:53 Kerala to withdraw police act amendment
Kerala cabinet has decided to withdraw the controversial Section 118A of Kerala Police Act.
Cabinet's decision to repeal the law will be submitted to Kerala Governor for ratification.
Meanwhile, the Kerala high court has posted the hearing to tomorrow on the petitions challenging Section 118A of the Kerala Police Act to await further developments in the matter.
Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party president K Surendran, Revolutionary Socialist Party MP N K Premachandran, and RSP leaders Shibu Baby John and A A Azeez had earlier moved the Kerala HC against Section 118A of the Kerala Police Act.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on the other hand, had on Monday announced that the state government is putting on hold the controversial Kerala Police Amendment ordinance after facing severe criticism from the opposition parties.
The law aimed to stop bullying, insulting or disgracing individuals through any content and circulating the same through any communication medium.
The offenders were to be awarded a sentence of three years/penalty of Rs 10,000 or both under the law. -- ANI
17:44 12 docs on Covid duty thrown out of rest house over rent
Twelve doctors on COVID-19 duty in Ulhasnagar township in Thane district were turned out in the middle of the night by the management of the rest house they were staying in as the local civic corporation failed to pay six months rent, officials said on Tuesday.
The doctors were deployed by Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation and their monthly rent was to be paid by it, they said.
When contacted, UMC public relations officer Yuvraj Badane, however, said the civic body had recently paid three months rent to the charitable trust that runs the rest house and the remaining payments were to be made soon.
It is unfortunate that the charitable trust chose to take this course of action at a time when these doctors are providing essential service to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Ulhasnagar, Badane added.
UMC Mayor Leena Ashan said the trust should have engaged with the civic body to recover its money rather that put the 12 doctors through this kind of inconvenience. -- PTI
17:10 Abdullahs built house on encroached land: Govt
Former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have been named by the Jammu and Kashmir administration in a list which alleges that their residential house in Jammu is built over illegally-possessed land, a charge denied by the father-son duo.
The administration of the union territory as directed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to make public land given under the controversial Roshni land scheme, since scrapped by a court, came out with the list of beneficiaries.
On Tuesday, it came out with a list of those who had allegedly encroached land other than those given under the scheme.
The list also highlighted the headquarters of their National Conference in both Srinagar and Jammu were legalised under the controversial Roshni Act. Displaying the lists on its website - one showing encroached land outside Roshni Act, the divisional administration Jammu revealed that the residential house of the Abdullahs, build over an area of nearly an acre at Sunjwan, is encroached state land (physically encroached but not shown in revenue record) other than Roshi Act.
Reacting to the fresh list, party vice president Omar Abdullah said, "The news attributing to sources that Dr Farooq Abdullah is a beneficiary of the Roshni Act is completely false and is being spread with a malicious intent. Both his houses at Jammu and Srinagar have nothing to do with the said Act.
"Dr Farooq Abdullah has NOT availed of the Roshni Scheme for either his residence in Srinagar or in Jammu and any one who says otherwise is lying. The fact that they are using sources to plant this story shows that it has no legs to stand on," Omar said.
The house of senior Abdullah was built in late 1990s for which timber was allocated from the government depots, which is issued only after furnishing all revenue records, officials in the know said.
17:05 President offers prayers at Tirupati
President Kovind offered prayers at the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. The President and the First Lady boarded the Air India One-B777 aircraft on Tuesday for its inaugural flight to Chennai. He is visiting Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh to offer prayers at the Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple.
16:59 Markets surge to lifetime highs; Nifty breaches 13,000-mark
Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty rallied to fresh lifetime highs on Tuesday following heavy buying in banking, financial, realty and auto counters amid persistent foreign capital inflows. A strengthening rupee also boosted market sentiments, traders said.
After scaling a record intra-day high of 44,601.63, the 30-share BSE Sensex ended 445.87 points or 1.01 per cent higher at a record 44,523.02. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 128.70 points or 1 per cent to close above the 13,000-mark for the first time at 13,055.15.
Axis Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, surging around 4 per cent, followed by M&M, HDFC Bank, ITC, SBI, ICICI Bank, Maruti, Kotak Bank and Sun Pharma. On the other hand, HDFC, Titan, Nestle India, Bharti Airtel, ONGC and Infosys were among the laggards.
16:55 Akbar, Ramani refuse settlement in defamation case
Former minister M J Akbar and journalist Priya Ramani on Tuesday refused any settlement between them before a Delhi court in a criminal defamation complaint filed by him against her.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Akbar, said that if Ramani was apologetic for her allegations, she would ask her client to consider closing the complaint. Ramani's counsel, Bhavook Chauhan, on the other hand, said she stood by her statement and if Akbar wanted to withdraw the complaint, he may do so.
After submission on behalf of Ramani, Akbar's counsel said, Let's continue on merits. Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when he was a journalist. Ramani had said the allegations against Akbar, made in the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, were her truth and were made in public good.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey, who started hearing afresh the final arguments in the case, had on Saturday asked both the parties whether there was a chance of settlement between them in the matter. ACMM Pandey started hearing afresh the final arguments in the case since the previous judge hearing the matter was transferred to another court last week. -- PTI
16:49 Centre asks states to handle vaccine side effects
The Union Health Ministry has directed the States and Union Territories to take necessary actions to deal with Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) surveillance following Covid -19 vaccinations. In a letter to all National Health Mission directors of the states and UTs, a senior health ministry official said: "The preparations are underway for conducting COVID-19 vaccinations in the states and districts, starting with certain priority groups. In connection with this, steps need to be taken to strengthen Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) surveillance following Covid-19 vaccinations to maintain confidence in the safety of vaccines."
"The Union Health Ministry has identified initiatives which are essential to further strengthen the existing AEFI surveillance system of India so that timely and complete AEFI reporting for Covid-19 vaccination is possible that these initiatives are implemented at the earliest so that required changes take place well before the COVID-19 vaccine is introduced in the state and district," read the letter, a copy of which has been accessed by ANI.
The Central government has pointed out key initiatives to strengthen AEFI surveillance system for Covid-19 vaccination.
The health ministry has asked the states and UTs to include medical specialists in addition to paediatricians in the state and district AEFI committees.
16:32 HC grants Kangana interim protection from arrest
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel in connection with an FIR registered against them under sedition and other charges, but directed them to appear before Mumbai Police on January 8.
The FIR was registered pursuant to orders passed by the Bandra magistrate's court here directing the police to carry out an inquiry against Ranaut and her sister following a complaint lodged against them for allegedly "trying to create hatred and communal tension" through their social media posts.
A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik was hearing a petition filed by Ranaut and her sister, seeking to quash the FIR and the October 17 order passed by the magistrate. The court said three summonses were issued by the police and the same need to be honoured. Ranaut and Chandel's advocate Rizwan Siddiquee then assured the court that the sisters shall appear before the Bandra police in Mumbai on January 8 from 12 pm to 2pm for recording of their statements. The high court accepted the statement.
"We are of the prima facie opinion that interim protection till the matter is heard at length deserves to be granted. The police shall not take any coercive action including arrest against the applicants (Ranaut and Chandel)," the court said. The court also asked why sedition charges were invoked in the case. "Why is the sedition section invoked? Why are we treating citizens of our country like this?" Justice Shinde said. -- PTI
16:00 Cyclone: 12 NDRF teams in Pudu, Sec 144 imposed
Thirty teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been pressed into action across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Puducherry as Cyclone Nivar moves towards the southern coast of India, NDRF informed.
"Alerting community, facilitating local administration across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry," said Satya Pradhan, NDRF's Director-General said in a tweet.
Cyclone Nivar, which was intensified into cyclonic storm formed over the south-west Bay of Bengal due to the deep depression, is nearly 50 km south-west of Chennai and is moving north-westward. It is likely to move towards the coast of Tamil Nadu and cross by Puducherry at around 5 pm on Wednesday, said RK Jenamani, Senior Scientist, India Meteorological Department.
Nearly 12 teams of the disaster relief body have been deployed, while 18 are on standby across the region, closely monitoring the situation.
Section 144, prohibiting the assembly of more than four people, will be put in Puducherry, beginning Tuesday night and will continue till the morning of November 26, Puducherry's District Magistrate informed.
"All departments are on high alert and will work in close coordination for restoring electricity, water, etc. We are working overtime to ensure that there is no loss of life," said V Narayanasamy, Chief Minister, Puducherry.
15:48 Bring Covid positivity rate under 5%: PM to CMs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India is in a better situation than other countries when it comes to coronavirus recovery and fatality rates but asserted that the positivity rate needs to be brought down to under five per cent and the number of RT-PCR tests should be increased.
"Today I spoke to chief ministers of states where the situation is deteriorating. Discussions over the status and distribution of vaccine took place and the picture is clearer now... As a result of joint efforts, today India is in a better situation than other countries when it comes to recovery and fatality rates," the Prime Minister said at a virtual meeting with chief ministers over the pandemic situation.
"The country has sufficient data and has wide experience in COVID-19 management. While making the strategy further... We have to bring down the positivity rate under 5 per cent and fatality rate under 1 per cent," he said.
He also said that the states must also start working to build cold storage facilities.
"Safety is as important as speed for us, whichever vaccine India will give to its citizens will be safe on all scientific standards. Vaccine distribution strategy will be chalked out in collective coordination with states. States must also start working cold storage facilities," he added.
The Prime Minister said that the ratio of RT-PCR tests and monitoring of patients in isolation should be increased.He urged the chief ministers to share their feedback in writing on the COVID-19 strategy.
"Seeing good recovery rates, many think the virus is weak and they will recover soon, this has led to rampant carelessness... Those working on vaccine are doing it but we need to focus on ensuring that people are alert and transmission is curbed," he said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal are among those were present at the meeting, held via video conferencing.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, NITI Aayog's Dr VK Paul, Cabinet secretary, and Health Secretary also attended the meet. -- PTI
15:32 Semi-decomposed bodies of couple found in flat
Semi-composed bodies of an elderly couple were recovered from an apartment in the city's Girish Park area on Tuesday, a senior police officer said. Neighbours alerted the police after they noticed that foul smell was emanating from a flat on the second floor of an apartment on Ram Dulal Sakar Street, he said.
The police broke open the door and recovered the bodies of Biswajit Mitra (71) and Sipra Mitra (68). "Preliminary investigation revealed that the couple was depressed due to financial crisis. Though we are yet to find any suicide note, it seems the duo died by suicide," the investigative officer at Girish Park police station said.
The bodies were sent to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital for post mortem, he said. "We are waiting for the postmortem report. A probe into the matter has been initiated," he added. -- PTI
The UP govt promised to enact a strict love-jihad law
14:47 SIT on UP love-jihad cases rules out conspiracy
A Special Investigation Team, which was formed to probe into incidents of 'love jihad' in Kanpur, submitted its report to the Kanpur Range Inspector General and found that some crime or the other was committed in 11 of the 14 cases it investigated.
"Fourteen cases came in Kanpur city in which parents of girls alleged that people of other religions tricked their daughters into a relationship. An SIT was constituted. After investigation, it was found that in 11 out of 14 cases there was some crime. Eleven people have been sent to jail. In three cases the girls were not minor, they said that they are in a relationship with boys of other religions of their own free will," Mohit Agarwal, Inspector General, Kanpur Range told reporters.
"In three cases, boys attempted to deceive girls through their nicknames. Girls said they later found out that they belong to some other religion. SIT probe has not indicated any organised conspiracy," he said.The issue of 'love jihad' has been on the boil for the past few weeks after the death of a 21-year-old college student, who was shot point-blank outside her college allegedly by a stalker and his friend in Ballabgarh in October.
Uttar Pradesh home department recently sent a proposal to the state's law department to form strict legislation against 'love jihad'.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier announced that his government will bring a strict law to curb "love jihad" and forcible religious conversion, citing an Allahabad High Court's order.
The Union Home Ministry on February 4 this year had clarified that the term 'love jihad' is not defined under the existing laws and no such case has been reported so far. No such case has been reported by any of the central agencies yet. -- PTI
14:24 Sena to Centre on ED raids: Actions will backfire
The Shiv Sena on Tuesday termed the ED's raids on properties of party MLA Pratap Sarnaik as "political vendetta" and said the Maharashtra government or its leaders will not surrender to pressure from anyone. Talking to reporters, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, without naming the BJP, said it should forget the dream of coming to power in Maharashtra for the next 25 years, "no matter how much pressure it exerts or spreads terror through agencies".
"If you have begun today, we know how to end it," the Shiv Sena's chief spokesperson said.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided premises linked to Shiv Sena MLA Sarnaik in Maharashtra on Tuesday in connection with a money-laundering case. "This action is definitely a political vendetta. The ED or other agencies should not work as if a branch of a political party," Raut said.
He said Sarnaik's properties were raided while the latter was not at home, and added that no matter how many notices are issued, only truth shall prevail in Maharashtra. Raut also said there is no ban on probes by an agency and it can take action if there is evidence.
"But, you want to mentally harass the people related to the (state) government. These actions will backfire on you. And I think that time is nearing," he said.
The Shiv Sena, which was earlier a long-term ally of the BJP but snapped ties with it last year over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post, is in power in Maharashtra along with the NCP and Congress.
"Be it the CBI or ED, our government, MLAs and leaders will not surrender to anyone no matter what. We will keep fighting," Raut said.
Those who are trying to use pressure of agencies or want to demoralise MLAs, should keep in mind that "this is Maharashtra of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj," he said.
The Shiv Sena will not be scared if the ED sets up office outside the residences of each of the partys MLAs, MPs and leaders, the Rajya Sabha member said. Raut said he can send to the ED a list of 100 people of "a party whose orders the agency is taking" about their businesses and how their money-laundering is going on. -- PTI
14:04 Delhi outperforms Mumbai in property appreciation
India's national capital has been ranked 27th, while Mumbai and Bengaluru were placed at the 33th and 34th positions respectively in a global index that measures annual price appreciation of luxury residential properties, according to a Knight Frank report.
Auckland in the Australasia region topped the index with 12.9 per cent price appreciation in the July-September quarter, compared to the same period last year. Manila and Shenzhen were at 2nd and 3rd positions respectively with 10.2 per cent and 8.9 per cent price rise.
The property consultant on Tuesday released its Prime Global Cities Index Q3 2020report. In the Q2 (April-June) report, Bengaluru and Delhi were at 26th and 27th positions, while Mumbai was ranked at the 32nd position.
"Delhi's prime residential market performed better than Mumbai and Bengaluru. Globally, the city ranked 27thwith a 0.2 per cent annual price change for the period Q3 2019 Q3 2020; with a decline of 0.1 per cent price change in Q3 2020 compared to the previous quarter," Knight Frank said. Mumbai was ranked 33rdwith 1.3 per cent fall in annual price.
The city also saw a decline of 0.7 per cent in prices compared to the June quarter. Bengaluru was ranked at the 34th place with a decline of 1.4 per cent in price year-on-year. The city registered a price decline of 1.5 per cent from the June quarter.
"With the modest price correction in the Indian real estate sector, post-lockdown, the luxury market has seen significant traction," Knight Frank India CMD Shishir Baijal said. -- PTI
13:58 Non-performing loans of banks to rise: S&P
Non-performing loans in the Indian banking sector is likely to witness an uptick and may shoot up to 11 per cent of gross loans in the next 12-18 months, S&P Global Ratings said on Tuesday. It said forbearance is "masking" problem assets for Indian banks arising from COVID-19 and the financial institutions will likely have trouble maintaining momentum after the proportion of Non-performing loans (NPL) to total loans declined consistently so far this year.
"While financial institutions performed better than we expected in the second quarter, much of this is due to the six-month loan moratorium, as well as a Supreme Court ruling barring banks from classifying any borrower as a non performing asset," S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Deepali Seth-Chhabria said.
In its report titled "The Stress Fractures In Indian Financial Institutions", S&P said with loan repayment moratoriums having ended on August 31, 2020, NPLs in the banking sector will likely shoot up to 10-11 per cent of gross loans in the next 12-18 months, from 8 per cent on June 30, 2020. According to S&P, the banking system's credit costs will remain elevated at 2.2-2.9 per cent this year and next.
"Resumption of economic activity, government credit guarantees for small to mid-size enterprises, and buoyant liquidity is helping to limit stress. Our NPL estimates are lower than previous but we are still of the view that the sector's financial strength will not materially recover until fiscal 2023 (ended March 31, 2023)," it said. According to S&P, 3-8 per cent of loans could get restructured. -- PTI
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh
13:08 Mumbai Police file charge sheet in fake TRP scam
The Mumbai Police on Tuesday filed a charge sheet in a court here in the alleged TRP (Television Rating Points) rigging scam. The charge sheet was submitted before a magistrate's court by the police's Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU), which is conducting a probe into the case, an official said.
The crime branch has so far arrested 12 persons, including Republic TV's distribution head and owners of two other channels, in connection with the case, he said.
The fake TRP scam came to light last month when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.
Hansa had been tasked with installing barometers, which record viewership data (which channel has been watched and for how long) at sample households.
TRP is important as advertising revenue of channels depends on it. Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh last month claimed that Republic TV and two Marathi channels Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi- were involved in manipulating TRPs. Republic TV and other accused have denied wrongdoing and manipulation of the TRP system. -- PTI
13:01 Equity indices trade in the green during afternoon session
The Indian equity benchmark indices were trading in the green on Tuesday afternoon. Indian indices were trading at record-high levels during the noon hours, on the back of the progress made on the Covid-19 vaccine and the prospects for a speedy global economic revival.
The 30-scrip BSE Sensex opened at 44,341.19 and was trading at 44,390.27 (at 12:30 pm), up by 313.12 points or 0.71 per cent.
BSE Sensex was trading at a high of 44,499.62 points and low of 44,247.12 points so far in the trading session.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 13,019.35 points (at 12:30 pm), up by 92.90 points or 0.72 per cent.
During the trading session, the sectors trading high were -- auto up by 1.79 per cent, consumer discretionary goods and services higher by 1.25 per cent and Bankex increased by 1.70 per cent.
The sectors, which were trading lower were -- energy down by 0.41 per cent, oil and gas plummeted by 0.08 per cent and telecom lower by 0.04 per cent. -- ANI
12:55 Lakshmi Vilas Bank stock tanks over 53 pc in 6 days
Shares of Lakshmi Vilas Bank continued to face selling pressure for the sixth consecutive day and have tanked over 53 per cent during the period amid negative reports around the company. On Tuesday, the stock plunged 9.88 per cent to Rs 7.30 -- its lower circuit limit as well as one year low -- on BSE.
At NSE, it plummeted 9.88 per cent to Rs 7.30 -- its lowest trading permissible limit for the day. Since last Tuesday (November 17), the stock has tanked 53.35 per cent on the BSE.
The government has placed Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) under one-month moratorium, superseded its board and capped withdrawals at Rs 25,000 per depositor.
The step was taken on the advice of the Reserve Bank of India, in view of the declining financial health of the private sector lender. LVB is the third bank to be placed under moratorium since September last year after the cooperative bank PMC in 2019 and private sector lender Yes Bank this March. While Yes bank has successfully been revived under the guidance of State Bank, the PMC resolution is still a far cry. PTI
12:41 At PM's Covid meet Mamata demands GST dues
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday interacted via video conferencing with chief ministers of states that are witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases to review the COVID-19 situation.
The leaders attending the meeting include home minister Amit Shah, health minister Harsh Vardhan, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee speaks to PM Modi. "Covid under control in Bengal, but centre must clear GST dues," she says.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal informed PM Modi that Delhi saw a peak of 8600 COVID19 cases on 10 November in the third peak. Since then cases and positivity rate are steadily decreasing. The high severity of third wave is due to many factors including pollution.
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray informed PM Narendra Modi that he is in constant touch with Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute and that the state has formed a task force to ensure timely distribution of vaccine and executing the vaccination programme.
12:08 Final goodbyes to Tarun Gogoi in Guwahati
Leaders from various political parties and citizens pay their last respects to the mortal remains of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at his Guwahati residence. He passed away yesterday at the GMCH hospital in Guwahati from Covid-related complications. To the right of the image, dressed in mourner's whites, is his son, Gaurav Gogoi.
11:42 'Severe' cyclonic storm Nivar 450km from TN, Pudu
Update: The deep depression over Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm, 'Nivar' and it is likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm and cross the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts on November 25, the Met department said on Tuesday.
While intermittent rains lashed several parts of the state and union territory, the department said rainfall is very likely at most places in Tamil Nadu, Puduchery and Karaikal with heavy to very heavy showers at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places on Wednesday.
Authorities said the reservoirs including Chembarambakkam were under a 'constant watch' and people in low lying areas were being brought to safe shelters.
The deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a cyclonic storm 'Nivar' and lay about 410 km off Puducherry and 450 km from Chennai.
The cyclonic storm is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move west-northwestwards for next 12 hours and then move northwestwards.
It is very likely to cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram on November 25 evening as a severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 100- 110 km per hour gusting to 120 kmph, a bulletin said. Gale wind -speed reaching 65-75 kmph and gusting to 85 kmph- is prevailing over southwest Bay of Bengal.
Sea condition is rough to very rough along the coasts of the state and union territory and tidal wave of about one meter height is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of north coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Fishermen have already been advised against venturing into sea. PTI
11:34 India successfully test-fires land attack version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
India on Tuesday successfully test-fired a land attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory, sources said.The supersonic cruise missile was test-fired at 10 am today and it successfully hit its target, which was on another island, they added.
"The test was conducted by the Indian Army which has many regiments of the DRDO-developed Missile system. The strike range of BrahMos missile has now been enhanced to over 400 km," sources said. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is the world's fastest operational system in its class and recently DRDO has extended the range of the missile system from the existing 298 km to around 450 km.
In the last two months, DRDO has been successful in testing both new and existing missile systems including the Shaurya missile system which can hit targets at over 800 km and technology demonstration vehicles for hypersonic missile technology. --PTI
Rain in TN, Pudu to continue for two days
11:07 TN, Pudu brace for Cyclone Nivar
Cyclone Nivar is very likely to cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the south-western Bay of Bengal coastal area of the country during the evening of November 25 as India Meteorological Department (IMD) informed on Tuesday that the deep depression has intensified into a cyclonic storm.
Wind speeds are likely to be 100-110 km per hour gusting to 120 km per hour.
IMD tweeted: "Deep depression has intensified into a cyclonic storm -- NIVAR over south-west Bay of Bengal -- (Cyclone alert for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts - Yellow Message)."
It further said: "Deep depression has weakened into a depression over Gulf of Aden and adjoining Somalia."
However, rainfall is expected to start from November 24 in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and will remain till November 26. During November 24 and 25 extremely heavy rainfall is expected at North coastal districts and delta districts.
Regional Meteorological Centre has advised fishermen to avoid the sea. Officials asked people to keep food materials with them and avoid unnecessary travel.
In the wake of the IMD warning for cyclone Nivar, counseling for admission to MBBS/BDS course 2020-21 scheduled for November 24 has been postponed to November 30, Directorate of Medical Education, Tamil Nadu informed. -- PTI
11:00 Maha: COVID-19 cases cross 50,000-mark in Thane city
The Covid-19 tally in Thane district of Maharashtra has gone up to 2,24,222 with the addition of 634 new cases, an official said on Tuesday. The total number of coronavirus cases in Thane city has crossed the grim margin of 50,000 and its tally now stands at 50,131, he said.
The death toll in the district has risen to 5,609 after 10 more fatalities were reported on Monday, he said. The official also said Kalyan town in the district has so far reported 52,795 Covid-19 cases, Navi Mumbai-47,249 and Mira Bhayander-23,762. Among the COVID-19 fatalities, Thane city has so far reported 1,217 deaths, Kalyan-1,044, Navi Mumbai-961 and Mira Bhayander-752, the official said.
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik
10:58 ED raids offices of Sena MLA who took on Arnab
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik's residence and office in Thane are being raided by officials of the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case.
Sarnaik had moved a breach of privilege motion against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on September 16, for allegedly using derogatory language against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP President Sharad Pawar for their alleged inaction in the actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
He had also demanded action against Arnab in the Anvay Naik suicide case. The ED team also raids offices of Sarnaik's sons.
10:46 Delhi's AQI is 400+, should be under 50!
Delhi's overall air quality deteriorated on Tuesday but remained in the "very poor" category with six of the 38 stations recording "severe" air quality, government agencies said. According to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) mobile application SAMEER, the city's air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 361 in the morning.
The six stations that recorded an AQI in the "severe" category are Anand Vihar (413), Ashok Vihar (407), Chandni Chowk (410), Jahangirpuri (424), Patparganj (411) and Vivek Vihar (426).
The capital's AQI was in the "severe" category on November 15 but it improved since and remained in either the "poor" or the "moderate" category until November 22.
Delhi's AQI was 302 on Monday, 274 on Sunday, 251 on Saturday, 296 on Friday, 283 on Thursday and 211 on Wednesday.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe".
However, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, the stubble-burning count significantly decreased to 149 on Sunday, contributing to six per cent in Delhi's air on Monday.
It said winds are expected to slow down and a low ventilation is expected, adding that if the stubble-burning count increases, the AQI will further worsen to "severe". Stubble-burning accounted for 12 per cent of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Sunday. It was 13 per cent on Saturday, 15 per cent on Friday, 20 per cent on Thursday and eight per cent on Wednesday.-- PTI
The arms and ammunition recovered from the encounter site
10:20 Nagrota encounter: Trucker, cleaner questioned
Delhi Police's Special Cell questioned the truck driver and cleaner involved in the Nagrota encounter, in which four terrorists affiliated with Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) were neutralised last week. The duo was picked up and questioned after the Special Cell received input that they were helping terrorists, sources said.
However, they were handed over to their family since nothing was revealed during questioning.
"Delhi Police's Special Cell received input that the truck driver and cleaner, involved in Nagrota (Jammu and Kashmir) terror attack, were helping terrorists. They were picked up from Delhi and interrogated. Since nothing was found during questioning, they were handed over to their family," sources said.
On November 19, security forces neutralised four terrorists in the Nagrota encounter in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mukesh Singh, Inspector-General of Police, Jammu Zone had said that it was possible that they were planning a big attack and targeting the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) elections in the Union territory.
The encounter broke out after a truck was intercepted in the morning during a routine check. Singh had said that the driver of the truck fled from the incident site.
"During the search, CRPF soldiers and police were fired upon using heavy ammunition, and grenades were also lobbed. More forces were called in and the encounter went on for 3 hours," the IG said.
The DDC elections will be conducted in Jammu and Kashmir in eight phases between November 28 and December 19, and the counting of votes will take place on December 22. -- ANI
10:14 Spirited young sarpanch changes villages
A tale of grit and courage: A 34-year-old specially-abled woman is serving the society as sarpanch of two villages in Dindori Taluka, Nashik district. Currently in her second term, Kavita Bhondwe made changes in Gram Panchayats' affairs and stood up against illegal practices in Dahegaon and Waglud.
"Earlier people use to make fun of me, seeing me on crutches. However, I didn't give up and learnt from my father and village elders. Many did not like the fact that I became Sarpanch at the young age of 25 years."
09:51 LIVE! Sensex greenlights Covid vaccine results
Equity benchmark indices opened in the green on Tuesday with Sensex up by 329.44 points and Nifty up by 96.85 points. The benchmark indices BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty opened higher for the second consecutive day as COVID-19 vaccine progress has shored up the global sentiment. At 9:16 am, the 30-scrip BSE Sensex was up by 208.50 points or 0.47 per cent at 44,341.19. Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 12,998.70, at 9:16 am, up by 72.25 points or 0.56 per cent.
09:25 President Kovind boards AI One-B777 inaugural flight to Chennai
President Ram Nath Kovind boards the Air India One-B777 aircraft for inaugural flight to Chennai. The President will be visiting Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh to offer prayers at the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple.
09:23 Next swearing-in won't be held at dawn: Fadnavis
The next BJP government's swearing-in ceremony in the state will be held at an appropriate hour instead of dawn, unlike last year, former Maharashtra chief minister and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday.
"We will form a government after the existing Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government falls. The swearing-in will be at the appropriate hour. It will not take place at dawn. But such incidents need not be remembered," Fadanavis said while answering a question by the media on Monday.
His statements came exactly a year after the BJP formed an 80-hour government after the 2019 Maharashtra polls. The short-lived government was formed by BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis with the support of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar. On November 23, 2019, Fadnavis and Pawar were sworn-in as the chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai.
However, the government lasted for only 80 hours with Pawar tendering his resignation as the deputy CM, paving the way for the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance with the NCP and the Congress to assume office a few days later.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the Chief Minister of the MVA government on November 28 and Pawar became his deputy.
The BJP had won the maximum 105 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly polls held last year, followed by Shiv Sena which bagged 56 seats. The NCP had won 54 seats and the Congress 44. -- ANI
09:14 PM to hold Covid meet with all CMs today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with chief ministers of various states over the COVID-19 situation, through video conferencing on Tuesday.
He had earlier chaired several meetings with chief ministers in the past six months over the pandemic.
The Government of India has decided to depute high-level Central teams to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to support these States in COVID-19 response and management. These States have been either reporting a rise in the number of active cases i.e. those who are hospitalised or are in home isolation under medical supervision, or demonstrating a rise in the daily new cases, the Union Health Ministry said.
The Health Ministry said that the three-member teams will visit the districts reporting a high number of COVID cases and support the State's efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures and efficient clinical management of the positive cases. -- ANI
09:05 Biden announces his national security team
United States President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his national security team that includes three women and an envoy for climate that for the first time would sit on the National Security Council.
Biden intends to nominate Anthony Blinken as his Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the United Nations, and Avril Haines, as Director of National Intelligence, who would be the first woman to be named for this top intelligence position.
The President-elect also announced the nomination of former Secretary of State John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, the first such official to sit on the national security council.
Jake Sullivan has been appointed National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades.
"This is the crux of that team. These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative," Biden said adding that he needs a team ready on Day One to help him reclaim America's seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges the US faces, and advance its security, prosperity, and values.
"Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits -- or without diversity of background and perspective. It's why I've selected them," he said.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said that these crisis-tested national security and foreign policy leaders have the knowledge and expertise to keep the country safe and restore and advance America's leadership around the world.
"They represent the best of America. They come from different places and reflect different life experiences. But they all share an unwavering belief in America's ideals and an unshakeable commitment to democracy and the rule of law. And they are the leaders America needs to help meet the challenges of this moment -- and those that lie ahead," Harris said.
Blinken has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades, and has advised President-elect Biden on foreign policy since 2002. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, from 2015 to 2017, Blinken served as Deputy Secretary of State under the Obama-Biden administration.
In that role, Blinken helped to lead diplomacy in the fight against ISIS, the rebalance to Asia, and the global refugee crisis, while building bridges to the innovation community.
Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant nominated to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. He led a distinguished 30-year career as a law enforcement official and a nationally-recognised lawyer in the private sector.
"When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones," Mayorkas said.
During his tenure at DHS, he led the implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the Department's response to Ebola and Zika.
Avril Haines has worked with President-elect Biden in various roles for more than a decade, and will become the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence.
During the Obama administration, Haines served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015-2017, during which time she led the National Security Council's Deputies Committee.
From 2013-2015, Haines was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; she was the first woman to hold both of these positions. Avril began her service in the Obama administration in 2010 as the NSC Legal Advisor.
Retired Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, is returning to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the US Foreign Service in 2017. -- PTI
08:53 Netflix's 'Delhi Crime' wins International Emmy Award
Netflix's India Original series Delhi Crime, helmed by Indian-Canadian director Richie Mehta, has bagged the best drama series honour at the 48th International Emmy Awards.
Told from the perspective of the Delhi Police team investigating the crime that made global headlines, the series deconstructs the case of the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who was abducted and gangraped in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012 before she was abandoned on a Delhi road.
Her injuries were so grievous that she died in a Singapore hospital a fortnight later.
Mehta, in his acceptance speech during the virtual ceremony on Monday, dedicated the honour to all the women who not just endure violence that men inflict on them, "but are also tasked to solve the problem."
Actor Shefali Shah played Vartika Chaturvedi, whose character on Delhi Crime was based on former Delhi Police DCP Chaya Sharma who cracked the case of the brutal gangrape within 72 hours.
The show, released in 2019, received massive acclaim for its sensitive retelling of a horrific crime that shook the entire nation.
Performances by its ensemble cast, including Shah, Rasika Dugal, Adil Hussain and Rajesh Tailang were particularly appreciated.
Hussain took to Twitter and congratulated the entire team for the win.
"Delhi Crime wins the Emmy International Awards for Best Drama. Congratulations @RichieMehta unmatchable @ShefaliShah dearest @rajeshtailang and whole team Big Big Congratulations," he tweeted.
Two other Emmy nominations from India included Amazon Prime Video's Four More Shots and Arjun Mathur for his role in drama Made in Heaven in the best comedy and actor categories respectively. Both couldn't register wins.
While Four More Shots, created by Rangita Pritish Nandy, lost to Brazil's Ninguem ta Olhando (Nobody's Looking), Mathur lost to 13-year-old Billy Barratt for his role in UK's Responsible Child.
Responsible Child also bagged the best TV Movie/Mini-Series award. Directed by Nick Holt, the movie follows the story of a 12-year-old boy and his experience of the UK legal system that puts him on trial for murder. -- PTI
08:18 Trump tells officials to begin transition
United States President Donald Trump on Monday asked officials to begin the transition process for President-elect Joe Biden, after the head of the federal agency responsible for this said she would provide him the necessary government resources to move in to the White House.
Trump, however, insisted that he would "continue to fight and will prevail".
Trump, who lost the November 3rd presidential elections to Biden and his Indian-origin running mate Kamala Harris, has yet not conceded.
His campaign has filed multiple lawsuits of voter fraud and electoral malpractice, many of which have been dismissed by courts.
Trump's tweets came hours after General Services Administrator Emily Murphy wrote a letter to President-elect Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process.
"Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official -- including those who work at the White House or GSA -- with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination," Murphy said in her letter as reported by multiple news outlets.
Murphy had come under a lot of criticism after she refused to give the president-elect access to the federal resources required for the transition. Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican party had slammed her for this.
"GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified," Murphy wrote in her letter.
"These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act," Murphy said.
Later, Trump put out two tweets in which he thanked Murphy for her services.
"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!" Trump tweeted.
"Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same," said the outgoing president.
In a statement, Biden-Harris Transition Executive Director Yohannes Abraham said the GSA administrator has ascertained President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris as the apparent winners of the election, providing the incoming administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.
"Today's decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track," he said.
"This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies. In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration's efforts to hollow out government agencies," Abraham said. -- PTI
00:05 Italy passes 50,000 Covid-19 deaths
Italy has become the sixth country in the world to surpass 50,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, as the second wave of the pandemic continues to ravage the country.
A further 630 deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the countrys total to 50,453 since the pandemic began.
The US, Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK are the only other countries to reach the grim milestone.
Earlier this year Italy became the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe but brought its outbreak under control with a tough national lockdown. Restrictions were gradually lifted but, faced with a second wave of infections, Italy introduced a new three-tier system of measures in November.
Another 22,930 infections were recorded in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total to more than 1.4 million. But new infections are declining as restrictions curb transmission.
Last week Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Italians to expect a "more sober Christmas without gatherings, hugs and kisses.
"Otherwise, we'll pay for it in January with more deaths, he said.