Fri, 18 September 2020
Moderna to produce 20m vaccines by end of year

Timeline  Refresh

23:46   Rajasthan govt allows family members to meet COVID patients in hospitals
Rajasthan Health Department on Friday permitted family members of COVID-19 patients to meet with them in hospitals by wearing face masks, PPE kits and hand gloves.

Health Department Principal Secretary Akhil Arora issued directions, citing the "loneliness" of coronavirus patients and the stress caused due to it. 

According to the order released by the state health department, "COVID-19 infected patients who are getting treatment in government and private hospitals will be allowed to meet their relatives and family member during fixed time after wearing PPE kit, mask and gloves while maintaining social distancing norms."

The family members are also allowed to give homemade food to the patients, the order read.

Rajasthan reported 1,817 new COVID-19 cases, 1,580 recoveries and 15 deaths on Friday, taking total cases to 1,11,290 including 92,265 recoveries, 1,308 deaths and 17,717 active cases. 

-- ANI
23:02   Moderna to produce 20m vaccines by end of year
The US biotech company Moderna has announced that it expects to produce 20m doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Reuters reports.

The announcement, made in a filing with US securities regulators, comes after Modernas chief executive, Stephane Bancel, told Reuters on Thursday the company plans to seek emergency authorisation for the vaccines use in high-risk groups if it proves even just 70 per cent effective.

Moderna has never brought a vaccine to market, but has received nearly $1bn from the US government under its Operation Warp Speed programme and has also struck a $1.5bn supply agreement with the US.

The vaccine aims to use messenger RNA to trick recipients bodies into producing viral proteins themselves. No mRNA vaccine has ever been approved for an infectious disease, but proponents say it could be easier to mass produce than traditional vaccines.

The company continues to expect to make 500m-1bn doses of the vaccine in 2021, Moderna said in the filing on Friday.
22:42   Amal Clooney quits UK role over 'lamentable' Brexit plan
Amal Clooney has become the highest profile lawyer to quit an official job over her opposition to the British government's suggestion that it could break international law in the event it fails to agree a trade deal with the European Union. 

 In a letter Friday to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the human rights lawyer said she is quitting her role as the UK's special envoy on media freedom over the government's "lamentable' suggestion.

She said she was "dismayed' to learn that the government intends to pass legislation that would effectively override sections of the Brexit withdrawal agreement that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had himself negotiated.
22:09   WR to increase Mumbai local services to 500
A total of 500 suburban train  services will be run in Mumbai from September 21, an increase from the 350 currently on the tracks amid the coronavirus outbreak, said a Western Railway official on Friday.

The suburban trains in operation now are only for frontline staff and essential service workers as laid down by the state government, and a QR code-empowered ticketing mechanism is in place for those who need to board.

"In order to maintain social distancing and avoid overcrowding, Western Railway has taken the decision to increase the number of daily special suburban services from 350 to 500 from Monday," said Sumit Thakur, WR chief public relations officer.

"Of the increased services, 30 will be operated during morning peak hours, and 29 services during evening peak hours," Thakur informed.

-- PTI
22:01   MHA asks states to ensure free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles
The Union home ministry on Friday asked all states to ensure free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles without any restriction as medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe COVID-19 cases.
In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said it has come to the notice that some states are trying to curb inter-state movement of oxygen supplies from manufacturing units situated in their respective areas. 

Some states are also mandating manufacturers and suppliers located in the state to restrict their oxygen supplies to the hospitals of the state, he said.

Bhalla said availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID- 19 and with increasing number of active cases, the consumption of oxygen is also expected to increase.

He said it is emphasised that medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and any impediment in the supply of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 in other parts of the country.

State and union territories have been asked to ensure "no such restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states and transport authorities shall be instructed to accordingly allow free inter-state movement of oxygen carrying vehicles", according to the communication. 

It also said that no restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the oxygen supplies only to the hospitals of the state in which they are located and there shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction.

-- PTI
21:38   India, China likely to hold talks in 2-3 days
India and China are likely to hold another round of Corps Commander-level meeting in the next two-three days, sources have told India Today TV. The meeting would come at a time when tensions persist between the two sides despite several rounds of military, diplomatic and two top ministerial-level talks involving Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

On Friday, a high-level meeting attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, and others, discussed the agenda and issues that India will raise in this meeting.

Sources privy to the developments say India is likely to press for simultaneous disengagement and de-escalation by the Chinese side in eastern Ladakh.

Friday's high-level meeting in New Delhi was called in to review the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and India's preparations on the ground.

On Thursday, the MEA said India and China has built a consensus on the need for quick and complete disengagement of troops in Ladakh during the recent ministerial-level meets between the two sides.

The MEA said when EAM Jaishankar met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10, the two foreign ministers reached an agreement which outlines the way forward.

"This meeting followed the meeting that the two defence ministers (Rajnath Singh his Chinese counterpart) had in Moscow on September 4. There was consensus between the ministers of the two sides, during both the meetings, that there should be quick and complete disengagement of troops from all friction areas along the LAC," the MEA said.
21:18   4,127 fresh COVID cases push Delhi's tally to over 2.38 lakh
Delhi's coronavirus tally breached the 2.38 lakh mark with 4,127 fresh cases while the death toll mounted to 4,907 on Friday, authorities said.
Thirty fresh fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, they added.

The number of rapid-antigen tests conducted on Thursday stood at 49,834, while the RT-PCR, CBNAAT and True NAAT test figures were 11,203, in all adding to 61,037 COVID-19 tests, according to the health bulletin issued by the Delhi government.

With 4,432 fresh coronavirus cases, Delhi's caseload went over 2.34 lakh on Thursday while the death toll reached 4,877 with 38 fresh fatalities. 

On Wednesday, the national capital had registered a record single-day spike of 4,473 COVID-19 cases, taking the city's infection tally to over 2.30 lakh while 33 more deaths were reported.

The previous highest single-day spike of 4,321 cases was recorded on September 12.

The city's COVID-19 tally has reached 2,38,828 and the death toll mounted to 4,907, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

-- PTI
20:46   Weinstein stripped of honorary CBE
Harvey Weinstein has been stripped of his honorary CBE following his conviction for rape and sexual assault.

The former film mogul was sentenced in March to 23 years in a New York state prison.

The conviction came two years after a number of sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein sparked an international reckoning for abuses of power through multiple industries.

Weinstein was awarded his CBE in 2004, for services to the film industry. As co-founder of Miramax Films, Weinstein produced and distributed dozens of high-profile movies including Pulp Fiction, Sex, Lies and Videotape and Shakespeare in Love.

The statement reads: The Queen has directed that the appointment of Harvey Weinstein to be an Honorary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, dated 29 January 2004, shall be cancelled and annulled and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.
20:28   Vaccine likely to be available in mid-2021: Govt
If the advanced clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine succeed, then an effective vaccination is likely to be available by the end of first quarter of 2021, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey informed Lok Sabha today. 

He was responding to a question about the time by which an effective Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be commercially launched. 

The minister further said that no advance purchase agreement with any vaccine manufacturers have been entered into. 

Responding to another question, Choubey said that the phase-I of clinical trials have revealed excellent safety of the two candidate vaccines indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research and Cadila Healthcare Ltd and now their immunogenicity testing is in progress.
19:48   Monsoon withdrawal likely to begin next week: IMD
The Southwest Monsoon is likely to start withdrawing from west Rajasthan by the end of next week, the India Meteorological Department said on Friday.
Conditions are likely to become favourable in the next two days for the withdrawal of monsoon. North Indians plains are also witnessing above normal temperatures, it said.

"These are one of the weather patterns we see when conditions are ripe for monsoon withdrawal. From September 20 onwards, we don't see the possibility of monsoon rains in west Rajasthan," IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said.

The IMD has revised the withdrawal dates for monsoon from this year.

According to the new schedule, monsoon was expected to withdraw on September 17. However, due to a low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal, the retreat has been delayed.

The withdrawal of the Southwest Monsoon from west Rajasthan also makes conditions conducive for onset of winter.

Several parts of central and south India are likely to receive heavy rainfall in the next two days.

The IMD has also issued orange warning for Kerala, Goa and parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra on Saturday.

-- PTI
19:29   Ayushman Bharat CEO tests positive for Covid-19
The CEO of Ayushman Bharat Dr Indu Bhushan has tested positive for Covid-19. 

"Just informing that I've tested positive for Covid. Dr Bhushan has said he is asymptomatic and has isolated himself.Received the report this afternoon. I have no symptoms but am self-isolating. I request anyone who has been in contact with me to please monitor themselves and get tested. I'm sure I'll be back in harness soon!" Dr Indu Bhushan said on Twitter.
18:56   Action against guilty must be transparent: Omar
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Friday said the process of disciplinary action against those found guilty of killing three young men from Rajouri in an alleged fake encounter in Shopian should be transparent.
"The families of the three murdered men had continued to proclaim their innocence. Disciplinary action initiated by the army would suggest the army agrees with the families. The process must remain transparent & the guilty must face the full weight of the law," Omar tweeted.
He was reacting after the army said it has found "prima facie" evidence its troops "exceeded" powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act during an encounter in Kashmir's Shopian district in which three men were killed in July this year and has initiated disciplinary proceedings.
On July 18, the army claimed three militants were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir's Shopian district. 

After the operation, two families from Rajouri claimed that the youth could be their relatives who had come to Shopian in search of work. 

-- PTI
18:36   US bans WeChat, TikTok citing national security
The US will ban the use of WeChat Sunday to 'safeguard the national security of the United States'. 
The Chinese app TikTok will also be banned by Nov. 12, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said early Friday on CNBC that access to that app may be possible if certain safeguards are in place.

"At the President's direction, we have taken significant action to combat China's malicious collection of American citizens' personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations," Ross said in a prepared statement.

The government said its order, previously announced by Trump in August, will "combat China's malicious collection of American citizens' personal data." 
18:13   Delhi schools to remain closed till October 5
All schools in the national capital will continue to remain closed till October 5 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi government announced on Friday.
"All government and private schools will remain closed for all students till October 5. However, online teaching and learning activities will continue as usual," an official order issued by the Directorate of Education said. 

School principals are authorised to call "staff as per requirement for smooth conduct of online classes or any other work", it said.

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On March 25, the central government announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading. 

While several restrictions have been eased in different phases of 'Unlock' since June 8, educational institutions continue to be closed.

As per the latest guidelines under 'Unlock', schools have been allowed to call students from class 9 to 12 to schools on voluntary basis from September 21.

-- PTI
17:52   Sudarshan TV: Free speech has become hatred, says SC
The Supreme Court Friday questioned Sudarshan TV over its Bindas Bol' programme, whose promo had claimed that the channel would show the 'big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service', and asked whether media can be allowed to target whole set of communities.

The apex court, while hearing a plea which has raised grievance over the programme, said the channel is entitled to break story but it cannot brand the entire community and alienate them by doing such kind of stories.  "This is the real issue. Whenever you show them joining civil services, you show ISIS. You want to say that Muslims joining civil services is a part of a deep-rooted conspiracy. Can the media be allowed to target whole set of communities," a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud asked.

Painting all candidates as carrying out an agenda shows the kind of hatred. This is the element of concern, said the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph. 

"Here free speech becomes hatred. You can't brand every member of the community. You alienate the good members too by divisive agenda," it said.

The bench told senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was representing Sudarshan TV, that the court has no problem with the story on investigative journalism on funding from terror linked organizations but it cannot be said that Muslims are carrying out some agenda by going for UPSC services.

"Let a message go to media that a particular community cannot be targeted. We have to look after a nation of the future which is cohesive and diverse, it said, adding, Let this message go to the media that the country cannot survive with such agenda. We are a court and seen as to what happened during emergency and it is our duty to see that the human dignity is preserved," said the bench. 

Divan referred to the affidavit filed in the apex court by Suresh Chavhanke, Editor-in-Chief of the channel. In the affidavit, the channel has defended its programme saying it has used the term 'UPSC Jehad' based on information that 'Zakat Foundation' received funds from various terror-linked organisations. Zakat Foundation provides training and study materials largely to Muslim students who aspire to join civil services. -- PTI
17:36   Troops violated AFSPA in Shopian encounter: Army
The Army has found "prima facie" evidence its troops violated powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act during an encounter in Kashmir's Shopian district in which three men were killed in July this year and has initiated disciplinary proceedings, officials said on Friday. 

On July 18, the Army claimed three militants were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir's Shopian district. Committed to ethical conduct during anti-militancy operations, the Army initiated an inquiry after social media reports indicated the three men hailed from Rajouri district of Jammu region and had gone missing at Amshipura, said Col Rajesh Kalia, the defence spokesperson in Srinagar. 

The probe was completed in a record four weeks. 

"The inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do's and Don'ts of Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court have been contravened. 

"Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable," a brief statement from the Army said. -- PTI

Image: Army jawans stand guard near the encounter site in the Amshipora area of Shopian. Pic: ANI
17:28   Anurag Thakur delivered speech in worst-possible taste: Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at Parliament reacts to Union minister Anurag Thakur's comment on the Nehru-Gandhi family in the wake of the PM-CARES fund. "This is an attempt by the govt to distract the nation and the Parliament from real issues being raised. They don't want discussion and face opposition criticism. All they are interested in is rushing their bills without any objection. Instead of answering objection raised (on PM CARES Fund), Union Minister Anurag Thakur proceeded to deliver a political speech in worst possible taste and started attacking everybody from Gandhi, Nehru to present-day Gandhi family which was not relevant."
17:19   Supply 90% oxygen for medical use: MP govt asks manufacturers
In a bid to ensure adequate supply of oxygen for Covid-19 patients, the Madhya Pradesh government has directed the manufacturers of the life-saving gas in the state to ensure that 90 per cent of their output is reserved for medical purposes. The state Public Health and Family Welfare Ministry issued an order to this effect on Thursday.

"To all transporters of liquid oxygen, oxygen manufacturers by air separation unit and re-fillers of oxygen gas of Madhya Pradesh shall use 90 per cent of their total transporting/ generating/re-filling capacity to produce and distribute oxygen for medical purposes only," the order said.

"Remaining 10 per cent capacity can be used to supply oxygen for industrial or other purposes," it added. A company called INOX that used to supply oxygen to Madhya Pradesh from its Nagpur-based plant, stopped the gas transportation to the state last week, which set the alarm bells ringing for the state. -- PTI
16:59   MP defends PM-CARES, Cong calls him 'chhokra'
A fierce row broke out in the Lok Sabha over Union Minister Anurag Thakur's comments on the Nehru-Gandhi family with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury retaliating and calling Thakur a chhokra (slang for two-bit boy/man).

This led to the first adjournment in this monsoon session of parliament, with the Congress party MPs staging a walkout. Opposition members also accused the Speaker of bias.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur spoke out in defence of the PM-CARES fund, which the opposition says lacks transparency.

"From the high court to the Supreme Court, every court has validated the PM-CARES fund. Little children have contributed to it from their piggy banks. Nehru set up a fund that has not been registered to date. You (Congress) only made a trust for the benefit of the Gandhi family. You made Sonia Gandhi its chairman. It should be investigated," said Anurag Thakur.

"Opposing PM Cares Fund, just for the sake of it, is like they opposed EVMs & then lost many elections. They subsequently termed Jan Dhan, demonetization, Triple Talaq  & GST as bad. They find defect in everything, truth is their intention is defected," Thakur said.

His remarks provoked a roar of protests from the opposition benches, specifically Congress MPs.

"Who is this boy from Himachal," Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury lashed out at Mr Thakur. "How did Nehru come into this debate? Did we take (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi's name? This two-bit chhokra..."
16:46   Decommissioned warship 'Viraat' to start last journey on Sat
Decommissioned aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, 'Viraat', will begin its last journey on Saturday from Naval Dockyard here for Alang in Gujarats Bhavnagar district where it will be dismantled.

According to an Indian Navy statement, the historic carrier was supposed to leave for Alang on Friday, but its departure has been delayed by a day. Some paper work is still going on and it would take some more time. Hence, instead of today, 'Viraat' will be towed (to Alang) tomorrow (Saturday), it said. 

The vessel had served the Indian Navy for 30 years before being decommissioned in 2017 in Mumbai. It was the only warship in the Indian fleet which had served in the Royal Navy of the UK and later in the Indian Navy. There were attempts to convert 'Viraat' into a museum or a restaurant, but one of the plans fructified. Alang-based Shree Ram group had won the bid for dismantling the ship. -- PTI
16:38   Domestic air travel figures returning to pre-COVID levels: Puri
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday said domestic civil aviation operations are continuing smoothly and the number of domestic travellers is moving towards pre-Covid figures. He said that over 9.1 million passengers have flown since flight operations resumed on May 25.

"Domestic civil aviation operations continue smoothly. With 1,16,398 passengers on 17 Sept 2020, we are slowly moving towards pre-COVID figures. More than 9.1 million passengers have now flown since operations recommenced on 25 May 2020," he said.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation said the total number of flyers on September 17 was 1,16,398.

"On September 17, over 1.16 lakh passengers took to the skies; nearly 1.17 lakh passenger arrivals took place; 1,383 flight departures took place; 1,376 flight arrivals took place. A total of 2,759 flight movements took place across the country on Thursday and the footfalls were over 2.33 lakh footfalls at the airports," an official release stated. -- ANI
File pic
File pic
16:22   Former Guj CM Keshubhai Patel tests positive for Covid
Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has tested positive for novel coronavirus, health officials said on Friday. He underwent a COVID-19 test as one of his attendants was detected with the infection on Thursday after which samples of the former were taken for antigen and the RT-PCR process, said Gandhinagar Civil Hospital Superintendent Dr Niyati Lakhani.

"His antigen test returned positive while the results for the RT-PCR test is yet to come," Lakhani informed. The 92-year-old leader's family said he is in home isolation in Gandhinagar. PTI
16:12   Yogi govt mulls ordinance against love jihad
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked officials to formulate a strategy and bring an ordinance if required to prevent religious conversions in the name of love, an official said on Friday. It has been seen in the recent past that women have been made to convert in the name of love and marriage and later subjected to cruelty and even murder," the official who did not wished to be named said. 

"Taking a serious note of such incidents, the CM has directed that a concrete strategy be made to control such incidents, he added. "It has often been seen that this is being done in an organised manner," he claimed. 

"If required, an ordinance can be brought for it, he added. The aim is to ensure that such crimes are checked and effective action is taken against the culprits. All this is being taken into consideration, he added. In Kanpur, the police had recently set up a Special Investigation Team to look into reports of "love jihad". 

Last year, the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission had submitted a report to Adityanath, suggesting a new law to check forcible religious conversions. 

"The report was submitted along with a draft legislation, Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019," law commission secretary Sapna Tripathi had said.  -- PTI
15:52   Urmila thanks 'real people of India' for support
Actor Urmila Matondkar on Friday expressed gratitude to the "real people of India" for supporting her after actor Kangana Ranaut called her a "soft porn star". Matondkar had called out Ranaut's claims about nepotism in the industry and Bollywood being riddled with a drug problem. 

In response, Ranaut said Matondkar, who is considered one of the biggest stars of the 90s, was a "soft porn star" who is not known for her acting during an interview with a private news channel.

Ranaut's comments were met with criticism from the industry, with many, including frequent collaborator Ram Gopal Varma, filmmaker Anubhav Sinha and actor Swara Bhasker, hailing Matondkar's consistent "grace and dignity" throughout her career of over 25 years. 

Taking to Twitter, Matondkar thanked the "real people of India" for standing with her in the face of fake "propaganda". "Thank you the Real People of India and a rare breed of unbiased, dignified media for standing by me. It's Your victory over fake IT trolls n propaganda. Deeply touched..humbled #JaiHind," Matondkar wrote on Twitter. 

Others from the fraternity who came out in support of Matondkar, included actors Pooja Bhatt, Sayani Gupta and screenwriter Kanika Dhillon.
15:16   Paytm removed from Google Play Store
Paytm app has been taken off Google Play Store, citing policy violations.

Earlier, Google had said it does not allow apps facilitating sports betting and will remove such apps from the Google Play Store.

There is often a surge in launch of such apps before major sporting tournaments like the Indian Premier League.

The latest season of the IPL is scheduled to start from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates.

'We don't allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies,' Google said in a blog post.

It added that these policies are in place to protect users from potential harm.

Further, Google said that when an app violates these policies, it notifies the developer of the violation and removes the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance.

'And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,' the blog posted by Android Security and Privacy Vice President Product Suzanne Frey said.

The tech giant also said that Google Play is designed to provide a safe and secure experience for consumers while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses.

'Our global policies have always been designed with that goal in mind, considering the good of all our stakeholders. We have the same goals for our gambling policy,' it said.   -- ANI/PTI
14:37   Don't be deceived by opposition, PM tells farmers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday stoutly defended farm sector reform bills, asserting that they will act as a "protection shield" for farmers and accused those opposing the measures of standing with middlemen and "deceiving" and "lying" to peasants. 

 With opposition parties dubbing three bills, passed by Lok Sabha and now to be tabled in Rajya Sabha, as "anti-farmers" and the BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal quitting his government to protest them, Modi refuted their criticism, saying these laws will unshackle farmers by allowing them to sell their produce anywhere by negotiating a better price. 

He asserted that the government purchase of farm produce will remain, adding that the mechanism of minimum support price will continue in the same way it always has. 

At a virtual event to launch several rail projects in Bihar, Modi said his government is committed to providing farmers appropriate price through the MSP, and asserted that no government has done as much for the farming community as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in its six years in power since 2014. 

Farmers of the country are aware and can see who are standing with middlemen, who "pocketed" profits meant for them, and opposing new opportunities being provided for them through these measures, he said. 

The prime minister said the Congress had also promised in its manifesto what his government has now done through these bills, as he attacked the opposition party for fanning protests against these proposed legislations.

Without naming it, he launched a blistering attack on the Congress, saying those who remained in power for decades are trying to "mislead" farmers and "lying" to them on the agriculture bills. Lok Sabha had passed two bills on Thursday and another bill earlier with the government asserting that they will open new avenues for farmers by unshackling them from existing mechanism and allowing them to enter into agreements with private parties to sell their produce. PTI
File pic of Showik Chakraborty and Deepesh Sawant held in the drugs case
File pic of Showik Chakraborty and Deepesh Sawant held in the drugs case
14:21   Sushant probe: NCB detains 4 persons, seizes drugs
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), probing drugs angle in the actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case, on Friday detained four persons and seized 928 gm charas and cash after raiding the residence of one of them here, an official said. 

The anti-drug agency seized nearly 500 gm of ganja from the other three suspects who were detained separately, he said. 

A team of the NCB Mumbai unit detained one of the suspects from Versova after acting on specific information provided by Ankush Arenja, an accused arrested by the agency earlier, on drugs peddlers, he said. 

His name had cropped up during interrogation of the 29-year-old Arenja, arrested in connection with the drugs probe linked to the Sushant death case, the official said. The team seized 928 gm charas and Rs 4,36,000 in cash during the raid, he said. The NCB apprehended three more suspects and seized altogether 490 gm of ganja from them, the official said. -- PTI
13:55   RS passes bill to cut MPs salaries by 30%
The bills to reduce salaries, allowances of Members of Parliament, and Ministers by 30 percent was passed unanimously in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. Earlier, Union Ministers G Kishan Reddy and Pralhad Joshi had moved the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State (MoS) Home Affairs said that he was moving the Bill on behalf of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.While MPs from Congress, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), and other parties wholeheartedly supported the bill, they asked the Centre to restore the MPLADS Funds at the earliest.

The MPs said that the MPLADS Funds are used by them to help the public in their constituencies and will be of great use during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, AIADMK MP A Vijayakumar and BJD MP Prasanna Acharya had also demanded that the government release their arrears of the MPLADS funds for previous years.

The Monsoon session of the Parliament which began on Monday is slated to conclude on October 1. -- ANI
13:38   More economic setbacks likely in India: Report
The high-frequency lead indicators suggest that a fragmented recovery of the Indian economy is underway, investment information firm ICRA has said.

The year-on-year performance of 11 of the 16 available indicators staged a pickup in August relative to July, it said in a report on Indian economy.

India's gross domestic product shrank by 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of current fiscal as against 5.2 per cent growth in Q1 FY20 due to Covid-19 led countrywide lockdown and other factors.

The ICRA report said output of Coal India, motorcycles and rail freight traffic posted a turnaround to an expansion in August after having displayed a contraction in the previous month.

At the same time, the pace of contraction in the production of scooters and passenger vehicles, domestic airline passenger traffic, port cargo traffic, GST e-way bills as well as consumption of aviation turbine fuel and petrol narrowed at a varying rate in August.

However, the year-upon-year performance of diesel consumption, thermal and hydroelectricity generation, non-oil merchandise exports and bank deposits worsened in August from July, which may be intermittent setbacks before the economy fully recovers from the impact of the ongoing crisis."

Moreover, the available trends suggest that the contraction in the Index of Industrial Production could ease to 6 to 8 per cent in the just-concluded month from 10.4 per cent in July," said the ICRA report.The contraction in non-oil merchandise exports too worsened in August from July with demand constrained by rising Covid-19 infections in various trading partners, it said. -- ANI
13:23   Centre ups FDI limit in defence sector to 74%
The Central government has increased the foreign direct investment limit in the defence sector from 49 to 74 per cent under automatic route and beyond 74 per cent through the government route.

"Welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji's decision to amend FDI policy in Defence Sector. Now, FDI is allowed upto 74% through automatic route and beyond 74% to be permitted through Govt route. This will enhance Ease of Doing Business and contribute to growth of investment, income and employment," Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal tweeted.

Making the announcement on Twitter on Friday, Goyal added that foreign investments in the defence sector will be subject to scrutiny on grounds of national security.

According to an order issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the FDI limited through government route has been increased to beyond 74 per cent "wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded".

"Foreign investments in defence sector shall be subject to scrutiny on grounds of National Security. In line with our collective vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, amendments will enhance self-reliance in defence production, while keeping national interests & security paramount," Goyal said in the following tweet.

The government, in its order, said that FDI up to 74 per cent under automatic route shall be permitted for companies seeking new industrial licences.

"Infusion of fresh foreign investment up to 49 per cent, in a company not seeking an industrial license or which already has Government approval for FDI in Defence, shall require mandatory submission of a declaration with the Ministry of Defence in case change in equity/shareholding pattern or transfer of stake by existing investor to new foreign investor for FDI up to 49%, within 30 days of such change. Proposals for raising FDI beyond 49% from such companies will require government approval," the order said.
13:03   KT Jaleel accepted Quran copy imported by UAE Consulate, violated norms: Customs
Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel, who was recently questioned in the high profile gold smuggling case, accepted copies of Quran imported by the UAE Consulate in violation of the Customs norms, the Customs department said on Friday.

According to the Customs department, by accepting copies of the Quran imported by the UAE Consulate after availing duty exemption, Minister KT Jaleel has also violated Customs norms.

The Customs department has registered a separate case for bringing and distribution of some items, including Quran, which comes through the diplomatic channel from UAE, officials said.

A separate team has been set up to probe this issue and they will record the statement of Minister KT Jaleel soon, they added.

KT Jaleel has been questioned by the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.

Several protests have been held across the state, including the capital Thiruvananthapuram and outside Jaleel's residence, seeking his resignation from the cabinet over the same. -- PTI
12:39   No faith in govt that pushes cow urine cure: TMC
While taking part in the discussion over the Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Shantanu Sen accused the Central Government of promoting private institutions and said, "What can be expected from a government that says that drinking cow urine can cure disease or Covid-19? They are indirectly promoting private medical colleges and quackery."

Notably, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had moved a motion to take up Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha in the morning. He claimed that the Central Council of Homoeopathy did not cooperate with the Centre in carrying out its duties.

BJP MP Prasanna Acharya from Odisha also took part in the discussion and was of the view that there is a dire need to make the homoeopathy system "robust" for the needy.

"Homoeopathy is an old Indian system of medicine and it is accessible to the poor. So we need to make it robust." However, he stressed on the proper need for demarcation of powers and functions which has not been addressed in the bill," Acharya said in the Upper House during a discussion over the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

DMK MP T Siva claimed that most Bills have taken state government powers stating, "This is one more attempt of this government to strike at roots of federalism. From the day they assumed office, most Bills passed have taken away the powers of state government."

"Standing Committee has very clearly stated that there is no representation of State Medical Councils in the Advisory Council. So, it is recommended that there should be a provision for representation of elected members of State Medical Councils," the DMK MP added.
Disha Salian was Sushant Singh Rajput's manager
Disha Salian was Sushant Singh Rajput's manager
12:09   Disha Salian did not dial 100 before death: Police
Dispelling rumours that the last call from celebrity manager Disha Salian's phone was to the police emergency service, the Mumbai Police on Friday said that her last phone call was to a friend. "The last call from Disha Salian's phone was made to her friend Ankita. The claim that she tried to dial 100 the last time, is false," a Mumbai Police official said.

This comes as several rumours and reports are being circulated surrounding the death of Disha Salian, former manager of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. 

Salian had died on June 8, following which Rajput was found dead at his residence in Mumbai on June 14.

The Mumbai Police had recently refuted reports that her body was found naked by the police team when they reached the spot. Later Disha's father had also filed a written complaint at Malvani police station in Mumbai against three people for allegedly spreading rumours about her death.

Last month, BJP leader Narayan Rane had alleged that Sushant Singh Rajput's former manager Disha Salian had not died by suicide by jumping off the 14th floor of a building but was raped and murdered instead.

Meanwhile, a public interest litigation has also been filed in the Supreme Court for court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Salian's death, stating that her death is interlinked with that of Rajput's. -- ANI
11:48   Take World Bank loan to help states: Sena to govt
The Shiv Sena on Friday slammed the Modi government over the economic crisis faced by the country, saying demonetisation and "mishandling" of the coronavirus-induced lockdown were to be blamed for the current situation. An editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana' criticised the NDA government for what it called trying to "wash its hands of the crisis".

"On March 13, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said there was no health emergency in the country, while on March 22, the Prime Minister imposed a one-day 'janata curfew' and on March 24 announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice," the Marathi daily said.

"The chaos and uncertainty which began that day continue even now," the former BJP ally said and added the Centre "mishandled" the lockdown. The editorial said the need of the hour is that the Centre stands firmly with states during this crisis. 

"The (Congress-led) UPA government had extended all assistance to the government of Gujarat (ruled by BJP). It is the job of the Centre. "At least 22 per cent of revenue in the Centre's exchequer comes from Mumbai. But the Centre is not ready to help states.

"Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have borne the maximum brunt of Covid-19 and suffered losses worth Rs 14.4 lakh crore," the Sena publication said.

The paper said the Centre announced a relief package of Rs 20 lakh crore during the lockdown, but it's a mystery where the money has gone. The editorial said several states have sought financial assistance from the Centre to deal with the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown. 

Maharashtra, where the Sena heads the ruling coalition, has asked for its GST share of Rs 23,000 crore, it said. In September, the Centre stopped supply of medical equipment (needed to fight COVID-19) due to which Rs 300 crore burden will be on the state exchequer (in Maharashtra), the daily said.

Since the Centre is responsible for the economic crisis, it should take loan from the World Bank and help states, the editorial said. The Indian economy contracted by 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter of this fiscal amid the Covid-19 crisis, official data showed. PTI
11:39   Stroke scans could reveal COVID-19 infection
New research from King's College London has found that Covid-19 may be diagnosed on the same emergency scans intended to diagnose stroke. The findings have important implications in the management of patients presenting with suspected stroke through early identification of Covid-19.

In a paper published today in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, study lead and Senior Lecturer in Neuroimaging at King's College London, Dr Tom Booth said the emergency scans captured images of the top of the lungs where a fluffiness known as 'ground glass opacification' allowed Covid-19 to be diagnosed. 225 patients were examined from three London Hyper-Acute Stroke Units. 

The emergency stroke scan consisted of computed tomography of the head and neck blood vessels.

Dr Booth said the results show that when the team saw these changes in the top of the lungs during the emergency scan, they were able to reliably and accurately diagnose Covid-19 and the changes also predicted increased mortality.

"This is particularly relevant given the limitations of currently available Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing as it takes time to complete the test and sometimes it is inaccurate," Dr Booth said.
11:22   India's top leadership to discuss LAC today
Against the backdrop of multiple firing incidents on the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, top political and national security brass are likely to meet today to discuss the way forward on the ongoing conflict with China on the border.

The top political and national security brass including military leaders are scheduled to meet today to discuss the situation all along the China border from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, government sources told ANI.

The participants would include senior ministers dealing with the situation along with the senior military leadership, they said.

The leadership is likely to discuss the Chinese military activities in Doklam and other areas on Bhutanese soil along with the Indian preparations to deal with the situation.

The meeting will also discuss the delay in the Corps Commander level talks which was agreed upon in the diplomatic talks between both sides in Russia.

The Chinese and Indian corps commanders were supposed to restart their parleys after a long gap. The first five rounds of talks had failed to gain any significant results for disengagement at friction points as the Chinese continue to not only sit at Finger 4 but have also fortified their presence there.

The Chinese response to the strong Indian stance on the Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh is also likely to come up for discussion by the leadership.

The leaders had discussed the situation on the Chinese buildup in Bhutan recently where the People's Liberation Army has amassed troops and weaponry for quite some time now.

India and China have been engaged in a territorial conflict since April-May timeframe as the Chinese Army transgressed into multiple areas from the Galwan valley to the Finger area along the Pangong lake.India has also now taken a hard military stance and deployed around 45,000 troops along with elements of armoured divisions. -- ANI
11:14   PM removed red beacon culture in governance: Naqvi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed "feudal" customs and the "red beacon culture" to transform governance which perturbed those who regarded "circumambulation in the corridors of power" as their strength, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Friday. 

In a blog titled 'Culture of parikrama replaced by commitment of performance', the Minority Affairs Minister talked about Modi's governance style and said the prime minister has opened regular communication channels with ministers and secretaries thereby increasing accountability and responsibility of all. 

The prime minister's governance has perturbed all those who considered "circumambulation in the corridors of power" as their strength and a "passport to success" for the last several decades, he said, in an apparent dig at the Congress. They have now realised that the "work culture of result-oriented performance" is the only mantra paramount for the Modi government, Naqvi said. 

"Before 2014, receiving and seeing the prime minister off at the airport was a 'loyal custom' for members of the Cabinet, but this decades old 'feudal custom' was given a quick and deserved burial by Modi," Naqvi said. Prime Minister Modi also put an end to "red beacon culture" which was synonymous with "snobbery and naked show of power and status", he said.

"Many MPs/VVIPs used to consider certain subsidies and privileges such as occupying government bungalows even without being a minister or an MP as 'constitutional right' or 'birthright' and this was abolished firmly and without exception," Naqvi said. 

Many ministries were accustomed to hastily spending the major part of their budgets in the last quarter or even the last month just to meet the March deadline, but Modi has put an end to such "customary and lackadaisical" approach of the government, Naqvi said. 

He claimed that the "tradition of work for one day" and "outing for 10 days" which was the "norm" during foreign tours of the prime minister, ministers and bureaucrats was ended by Modi, who has ensured that official overseas travels are result oriented and work focussed. 

"Another area of concern had been the hold of middlemen and brokers who kept their links with the personal staff in the offices of ministers intact even after changes in government and ministers, but Prime Minister Modi clipped the wings of these brokers by restricting the tenure of the personal staff of ministers to 10 years overall," he said. 

One much-desired area of reform has been the prestigious Padma awards which were being given purely on political recommendations, but now have become "people's awards" where they are completely people-driven and the deserving are being honoured, Naqvi said. -- PTI
11:10   Rapid blood test could detect brain injury in minutes, study shows
A blood protein test could detect the severity of head trauma in under 15 minutes, according to research published recently in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

By showing that glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) can accurately determine the severity of a brain injury through a blood test, the research team working on this study, led by author David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center at UPMC and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, advanced the development of a point-of-care testing device designed to help clinicians assess traumatic brain injury (TBI) in minutes.

For the rapid test, the vision included using a hand-held device with a cartridge that would measure GFAP in a patient's blood. Researchers at Abbott Laboratories, a global health care company, will need to finalize the test for the i-STAT device, which already is used by the military and health care providers around the world to perform several common blood tests within minutes. The blood test would reveal a patient's GFAP level.

"This would eliminate guesswork in diagnosing TBIs and learn whether a person needs further treatment," said Okonkwo. -- ANI
11:03   Sushant case: Bail pleas of three drug accused to be heard today
The Bombay High Court is scheduled to hear today the bail pleas of three persons, who have been arrested in the drugs case related to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

A bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal is expected to hear at around 3 pm the bail applications of Sushant's personal staff Dipesh Uttam Sawant and actor Rhea Chakraborty's associate Samuel Marshal Miranda and alleged drug peddler Abdul Basit Parihar.

A special court in Mumbai had last week rejected the bail plea of actor Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, Dipesh Sawant, Samuel Miranda, Abdul Basit and Zaid Vilatra. However, Rhea and her brother have not moved a bail plea in the High Court yet.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), which has arrested the accused in the drugs case related to the actor's death, had opposed their bail pleas in the special court.

According to the NCB, Sawant was arrested for his role in procuring and handling of drugs based on the evidence and statements.

The NCB had launched an investigation after it received official communication from Enforcement Directorate (ED), in which there were various chats related to drug consumption, procurement, usage and transportation in connection with Sushant's death.

The ED had on July 31 registered an Enforcement Case Information Report in the late actor's death case after a First Information Report was filed by Rajput's father KK Singh against Rhea Chakraborty in Bihar on July 28.
10:46   Disquieting in the extreme: NZ govt on Chinese firm's data collection
New Zealand government has said that the collection of information of New Zealanders by a Chinese company could affect national security, adding that it is "disquieting in the extreme" as the information is being sought to persuade a certain outcome in future.

The remarks by the government come in the wake of an investigation which reveals that details of hundreds of New Zealanders - politicians, judges, business leaders, journalists and even criminals - have been collected by Chinese company Zhenhua, which has been linked to the country's military and intelligence.

Multiple news organisations around the world reported on what they described as a widespread surveillance operation by a Chinese company targeting prominent people in multiple countries including India and New Zealand.Zhenhua Data, the reports claimed, put together a database with the personal information of over two million people of public interest -- politicians, celebrities, business leaders, prominent military officials and academics.

"The part that is of concern is, what is the purpose in this case of this collection of data. I know why big businesses do it - it is to shape their market it is to look at influencers and all sorts of things," Winston Peters said.

"In this case, I think people would be asking why is a country doing it, and what is its ultimate purpose. If you look at the big picture, and put aside the players here, of course, it has an influence on national security. And of course, it will reflect on those who are most susceptible, naive or otherwise, to selling the interests of the country down the drain," he added.

The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) is reviewing the data leak for any potential risks and security concerns, but director Rebecca Kitteridge said it seemed the information collected had primarily been drawn from the public domain.

"It is very disquieting in the extreme that the collection of information is being sought, not for what you might call a marketing purpose or sell product, but the purpose is perhaps to find information that can be used in a future time to persuade a certain outcome from individuals associated with the person that has been the source of the information collection," Peters further said.

Kitteridge said the leak was a timely reminder for people to check their security settings and consider the amount of information they share on the internet.

Peters echoed the message. "People should be warned when they go online and engage in social media and divulge their personal information it can be used or misused against them or people close to them or contacts they might have.

"If you look at some of the international events where actors have been involved in manipulating political outcomes and manipulating a stance a country might take with respect to another one, they are very, very serious." 
10:42   Rahul slams 'adverse-data free' Modi govt
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched a fresh attack on the Central government and accused it of neglecting healthcare staff who have tested positive for Covid-19.

"Adverse data-free Modi government! The beating of 'thali' and the lighting of a lamp is more important than security and respect. Modi Government, why are corona warriors being insulted?" the Congress leader tweeted (roughly translated from Hindi).

The leader also shared a link to a news report along with the tweet.

The comments came after the Centre said that it does not have data of health care staff who got infected with COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Congress leader had attacked the Central government over the issue of unemployment claiming that "massive unemployment has forced the youth to call today National Unemployment Day."

"Massive unemployment has forced the youth to call today National Unemployment Day. Employment is dignity. For how long will the government deny it?" he questioned. -- ANI
10:32   India crosses 6 crore mark in COVID-19 testing
India has crossed the six crore mark in conducting tests for detection of COVID-19, with 6,05,65,728 samples having been examined till September 16, the Indian Council of Medical Research said on Thursday.
As on August 28, India had tested 4,04,06,609 COVID-19 samples, it said.
With an average testing of more than 10 lakh per day in the last 20 days, India has tested 6,05,65,728 samples across the country till September 16.
"As on Wednesday, 11,36,613 samples were tested for detection of COVID-19 in a single day. India has conducted last two crore sample testing in only 20 days," the Indian Council of Medical Research said.
This has been enabled by rapidly increasing testing infrastructure and capacity across the country. 
The total number of diagnostic labs in the country has reached 1,751. Of which dedicated government laboratories are 1,059 and private laboratories 692.
"The ICMR has successfully responded to the evolving epidemic through focused and collaborative efforts of the Centre, states and UT governments," the health research body said.
India has been aggressively implementing "testing, tracking and treating'' strategy efficiently across the country. 
Recently, increasing number of cases were reported from states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Naidu. ICMR is enhancing testing capacity in these states, it said.
"The ICMR has been regularly assessing the situation and responding by revising testing strategy," it said.
In its latest advisory on COVID-19 testing strategy, 'Testing on Demand' for individuals has been allowed. The state/UTs have been allowed to simplify the modalities to facilitate testing on demand.  
A record single-day increase of 97,894 cases pushed India's  COVID-19 tally to 51,18,253, while the death toll climbed to 83,198 with the virus claiming 1,132 lives in a span of 24 hours, the health ministry data updated at 8 am on Thursday showed. -- PTI
09:48   India Covid tally tops 52 lakh with 96,424 cases
India's COVID-19 case tally crosses 52-lakh mark with a spike of 96,424 new cases and 1,174 deaths in last 24 hours.

The total case tally stands at 52,14,678 including 10,17,754 active cases, 41,12,552 cured/discharged/migrated and 84,372 deaths, says the ministry of health and family welfare.

Meanwhile, 6,15,72,343 samples have been tested up to September 17 for COVID-19. Of these, 10,06,615 samples were tested yesterday, says the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).  -- ANI
09:07   BSP to oppose farm bills passed in LS: Maya
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Friday said that her party is against the passing of two bills in the Lok Sabha related to 'reforms' in agriculture marketing.

In a tweet in Hindi, Mayawati said, 'Two bills related to farmers were passed in the Parliament yesterday without clearing doubts of farmers and BSP does not agree with this.'

'It will be better if the central government focuses on what the farmers in the country want,' she said.

Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two bills related to 'reforms' in agriculture marketing after a debate with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar stating that the legislation will 'end licence raj' and farmers will be free to sell their agricultural produce according to their choice.

Bharatiya Janata Party's ally Shiromani Akali Dal opposed the two bills.

Several opposition parties including the Congress also strongly opposed the bills.

The House passed the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment And Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

The bills seek to replace two ordinances brought by the government earlier this year.

Tomar in his reply sought to allay apprehension of members opposing the bill.

"Both these acts will empower the agricultural economy," he said. -- ANI
08:16   Prez accepts Harsimrat's resignation
President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday accepted the resignation of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned from the Union Council of Ministers last evening.

Furthermore, the President has directed Narendra Singh Tomar to take the additional charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

On Thursday, Harsimrat had resigned from the Union Cabinet, displaying her opposition to the three agriculture-related bills.

'The President of India, as advised by the prime minister, has accepted the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under Clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution,' according to a release from Rashtrapati Bhavan.

'Further, as advised by the prime minister, The President has directed that Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, cabinet minister, be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, in addition to his existing portfolios,' it said.

Earlier, Harsimrat's husband and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his wife will resign over the three farmers' bills brought in the Parliament by the government. The bills are aimed at replacing the ordinances. -- ANI