Wed, 04 August 2021
China's bullet train in Tibet holds military mission
23:31 China's high-speed train in Tibet carries out military mission
China's recently launched high-speed train connecting Tibet's provincial capital Lhasa with strategically located Nyingchi, a Tibetan town situated close to Arunachal Pradesh border, has been used for its first military transporting mission, official media here reported.
The newly opened Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway carried new recruits of a combined arms brigade affiliated with the People's Liberation Army Tibet Military Command to an exercise field at an elevation of 4,500 meters, state-run Global Times reported on Wednesday.
This is the first time the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway, an important part of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, has hosted a troop transport mission which marks another step forward on the systematic development of China's military transport, the daily quoted js7tv.cn, a news website affiliated with the PLA.
The high-speed railway serves as a boost to the capability of the PLA, the daily quoted analysts as saying.
The high speed train was part of China's efforts to beef up border infrastructure which included well-developed road, rail and air networks for rapid movement of troops.
On July 23, President Xi Jinping made a rare visit to Nyingchi, becoming the first top Chinese leader to visit the Tibetan border town and travelled to Lhasa by high-speed train.
It was also his first visit to Tibet as President.
Opened on June 25, the 435-kilometre-long railway line has a designed speed of 160 km per hour. It reduces the travel time from Lhasa to Nyingchi from 5 hours to approximately 3.5 hours.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet, which is firmly rejected by India. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. -- PTI
22:31 941 workers died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks since 1993: Govt
As many as 941 workers died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks since 1993 while there are no reports of death due to manual scavenging, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar informed Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
A total of 58,098 manual scavengers have been identified across the country, Kumar said.
"There is no report of death due to manual scavenging. However, we have reports regarding deaths of workers while being engaged in cleaning of sewers or septic tanks," he said.
According to the data shared by the minister, 941 workers died while cleaning sewers or septic tanks.
Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of such deaths at 213, followed by 153 in Gujarat, 104 in Uttar Pradesh, 98 in Delhi, 84 in Karnataka and 73 in Haryana, the data showed.
In response to another question, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said 941 deaths have been recorded since 1993.
Manual scavenging is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
Under the Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS), Kumar said one-time cash assistance of Rs 40,000 was deposited directly into the bank accounts of all the identified and eligible 58,098 manual scavengers.
Listing the achievements under the SRMS, he said 16,057 manual scavengers and their dependents have been provided skill development training in various trades and 1,387 manual scavengers, sanitation workers and their dependents have been provided capital subsidy for self-employment projects, including sanitation-related projects. -- PTI
22:02 S Jaishankar to attend Iran Prez's swearing-in
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will represent India at the swearing-in ceremony of newly-elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Thursday
The ministry of external affairs announced that Jaishankar will pay a two-day visit to Iran from Thursday, primarily to attend the swearing-in ceremony.
"At the invitation of the government of Iran, the external affairs minister will visit Iran on August 5 and 6 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Ayatollah Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi on August 5," the MEA said in a statement.
"During his visit, the external affairs minister will call on the president and on the sidelines, will also meet other leaders," it added.
Raisi, a hardliner and known to be close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won the presidential election in June by a landslide.
Jaishankar called on President-elect Raisi during a stopover at the Iranian capital on his way to Russia last month.
The external affairs minister also held extensive talks with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Tehran, covering a range of key issues including the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan.
His visit to Tehran coincided with Iran hosting an intra-Afghan dialogue in the country.
Iran has been a key country for India in the Gulf region.
The two sides have been jointly focussing on improving connectivity between South East Asia and Central Asia.
At a connectivity conference in Tashkent last month, Jaishankar projected Iran's Chabahar port as a key regional transit hub, including Afghanistan.
Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran's southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost connectivity and trade ties. -- PTI
20:53 India builds world's highest road in Ladakh
The Border Roads Organisation has constructed the highest motorable road in the world at the height of 19,300 feet at Umlingla Pass in eastern Ladakh, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.
The BRO has constructed a 52-km long black-topped road through Umlingla Pass, bettering the previous record of a road in Bolivia connecting to its volcano Uturuncu at 18,953 ft, the ministry's statement noted.
The road at Umlingla Pass now connects the important towns in the Chumar sector of Eastern Ladakh, it said.
"It will prove to be a boon to the local population as it offers an alternate direct route connecting Chisumle and Demchok from Leh. It will enhance the socio-economic condition and promote tourism in Ladakh," it mentioned.
During the winter, the temperature dips to -40 degrees Celsius and the oxygen level at this altitude (19,300 feet) is almost 50 per cent less than at normal places, it stated. -- PTI
20:36 Govt drops plan to install Wifi on trains
The railways has "dropped" a project to provide internet connection in trains because it was not cost effective, the government informed Parliament on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said as a pilot project, Wi-Fi based internet facility was provided in the Howrah Rajdhani Express train through satellite communication technology.
"This technology was capital intensive with recurring costs in the form of bandwidth charges and thus, was not cost effective. Also, the internet bandwidth availability to passengers was inadequate.
"Hence, the project was dropped. At present, suitable cost effective technology for provision of Wi-Fi based internet services in trains is not available," he said.
Former railway minister Piyush Goyal had said in 2019 that the Centre is planning to provide WiFi services in trains in the next four to four-and-a-half years.
Currently, Wi-Fi facility is being provided by the Indian Railways at more than 6,000 stations on a self-sustainable basis with no cost to the national transporter. The facility is being provided with the help of RailTel, a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the Ministry of Railways. -- PTI
20:20 SC registrars, ex-judge on Pegasus list: Report
Phone numbers of two registrars of the Supreme Court, an old number of a former judge and a close aide of a former Attorney General were on the list of potential targets for surveillance by Israeli spyware Pegasus, The Wire reported.
The names of the two court officials -- NK Gandhi and TI Rajput -- were added in early 2019, The Wire reported.
The name of Justice Arun Mishra, who retired last year from the Supreme Court, was added in 2019, the report said.
While Justice Mishra said he stopped using the phone in 2014, the number was registered in his name till 2018, The Wire reported.
Counsels for AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel and fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi were also the potential targets of Israeli spyware Pegasus.
One of the numbers on the leaked database belongs to M. Thangathurai, a junior lawyer working in the chambers of former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.
19:54 Child rights body asks Twitter to take action against Rahul
Child rights body -- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights -- on Wednesday asked Twitter to take action against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's handle for sharing on the platform a photo of the family of a Dalit girl allegedly raped and killed in Delhi, saying it violates the Juvenile Justice and POCSO Acts.
Gandhi on Wednesday met the family of the nine-year-old girl and asserted that he is with them on the path to justice and "will not back down even an inch".
Later, he posted a picture of his meeting with the girl's parents on Twitter and wrote in Hindi, "Parents' tears are saying only one thing -- their daughter, the daughter of this country, deserves justice. And I am with them on this path to justice."
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights sent a letter to the resident grievance officer of Twitter, saying it received a complaint that a photo of the victim's family has been posted on the Twitter handle @Rahul Gandhi with the caption stating that they are the father and the mother of the child.
"In the said photo, the faces of the victim's father and mother can be seen which thereby reveals the identity of the girl," the apex child rights body said.
"Therefore, posting of the photo of the minor victim's family on the said Twitter handle has been observed by the commission to be a violation of Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Section 23 of the POCSO Act, 2012, Section 228A of the IPC and the guidelines of the Hon'ble court as well," it said.
Accordingly, the complaint is being forwarded for appropriate action against the Twitter handle... and removal of the tweet from the platform, it said.
The NCPCR requested that an action-taken report in the matter may be sent to the Commission within three days.
The move comes shortly after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused Gandhi of violating the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and another law dealing with juveniles by tweeting a picture of the girl's parents as disclosing any aspect of a rape victim's identity is an offence.
Patra urged the NCPCR to take cognisance of the matter and issue notice to the Congress leader.
Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, prohibits disclosure of the identity of children while Section 23 of the POCSO Act, 2012, lays out the procedure for media coverage of such cases and Section 228 of the IPC prohibits publishing the identity of sexual assault and rape victim. -- PTI
19:43 US consulate in Mumbai receives hoax bomb call
An unidentified caller threatened to blow up the United States consulate located in Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai with a bomb, which turned out to be a hoax call, police said on Wednesday.
The call was made at Tuesday midnight, following which the police was informed, an official said.
The consulate premises was searched thoroughly with the help of the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad till Wednesday morning but nothing suspicious was found, he said.
As per the preliminary investigation, the call was made from a mobile phone to the landline number of the consulate.
The process to register an FIR is on at the BKC police station, the official added. -- PTI
19:17 Kumar Birla steps down as non-executive chairman of Vodafone Idea
Just In: Kumar Mangalam Birla steps down as non-executive director, non-executive chairman of Vodafone Idea, according to a company filing, reports PTI.
19:02 CBI takes over probe into Dhanbad judge's death
The Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation into the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand who was mowed down by a vehicle while on morning jog on July 28, officials said on Wednesday.
They said the agency has received the Jharkhand government's request, routed through the Centre, to investigate the matter.
Sources said according to the laid down procedure, the agency has taken over the Dhanbad Police FIR in the matter. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on last Saturday had decided to hand over the probe into the hit-and-run case of the 49-year-old Dhanbad judge to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
CCTV footage showed that the judge was jogging on one side of a fairly wide road at Randhir Verma Chowk early when a heavy auto-rickshaw veered towards him, hit him from behind and fled. -- PTI
18:33 BJP got more donation than 5 parties combined
The Bharatiya Janata Party has declared donations worth more than three times of the aggregate amount for five other parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms.
The report stated that the BJP also disclosed donations from the Amaravati Municipal Corporation, where both the mayor and the deputy mayor are from the saffron party.
The party's declarations also included land received from at least three donors.
'The donations declared by the BJP are more than three times the aggregate declared by the Congress, NCP, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist and TMC, for the same period (Rs 785.77 crore against Rs 228.035 crore declared by the remaining parties),' it said.
The report, prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), focuses on donations received by the national political parties, above Rs 20,000, during the financial year 2019-20, as submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
According to the report, the BJP declared a donation of Rs 4.80 lakh from the Amravati Municipal Corporation.
'No details of address, bank name, PAN, among others, have been provided by the party against this donation. A casual search on the internet shows that the aforesaid donor is a Government of Maharashtra local body (as mentioned on their website).
'It raises questions on the legality of the contribution made by a municipal corporation which is a governing body (whose mayor and deputy mayor are from BJP) to a political party,' the poll rights group said.
'The BJP declared 570 donations of Rs 149.875 crore, AITC collected 52 donations worth Rs 7.1035 crore, Congress collected 25 donations of Rs 2.6875 crore and NCP collected two donations of Rs 3.005 crore having incomplete cheque/DD details where cheque number, bank details on which it was drawn and the date on which the cheque was received/ encashed is not provided.
'Thus, without the complete cheque/Demand Draft (DD) details, it would be a time-consuming process to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail,' the report said.
The report said the BJP declared receiving land from three donors of a total value of Rs 1.516 crore.
'The three donations are from Jhanjharpur in Bihar worth Rs 36.80 lakh, Rs 50 lakh and Rs 64.88 lakh. Apart from the names, location of donors, PAN details of one donor, no other details have been provided like donors' address, bank details, PAN of remaining two donors, address and khasra' (plot) number of land, type of land agricultural/commercial, among others,' it said.
The report added that the CPM and CPI also failed to declare the details of cheque and DD (cheque number, bank on which it was drawn and the date) for a total of 39 donations amounting to Rs 1.0786 crore and 29 donations amounting to Rs 52.17 lakh, respectively. -- PTI
Pakistani Hindus in India
17:56 4,046 citizenship applications of Hindus pending
A total of 4,046 applications for Indian citizenship from Hindus belonging to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are pending with various state governments, Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said that 4,171 foreigners were given Indian nationality in the last five years -- from 2016 to 2020.
Of the pending applications for citizenship from Hindus, 1,541 are with the Rajasthan government, 849 with the Maharashtra government, 555 with Gujarat, 490 with Madhya Pradesh, 268 with Chhattisgarh and 123 with Delhi, he said.
In addition, 10 applications of Hindus for citizenship are pending with the central government, Rai said in a written reply.
Referring to those who were granted Indian citizenship in the last five years, the minister said 1,105 foreigners were given Indian nationality in 2016, 814 in 2017, 628 in 2018, 986 in 2019 and 638 in 2020.
The Indian nationality has been given to these people under the Citizenship Act 1955.
However, no one has been given Indian citizenship under the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act as the rules under the 2019 legislation were yet to be notified.
Of those who were granted Indian citizenship in the last five years, 1,089 were in Gujarat, 751 in Rajasthan, 535 in Madhya Pradesh, 446 in Maharashtra, 303 in Haryana, 301 in Delhi, 146 in West Bengal, 145 in Uttar Pradesh, 75 in Uttarakhand, 73 in Tamil Nadu, 72 in Karnataka and 65 in Kerala. -- PTI
17:37 RBI's 3-day monetary policy meeting begins
The RBI's rate-setting panel MPC began its three-day deliberations on Wednesday to finalise the bi-monthly monetary policy amid expectations that it may opt for status quo on interest rate on account of inflationary concerns.
Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das will unveil the resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Friday. Headed by the RBI Governor, the six-member MPC also includes three external members.
Experts are of the view that the RBI may prefer to wait and watch for some more time before taking any major action on the monetary policy front as the central bank's focus is on managing inflation as well supporting economic growth.
The central bank had left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4 per cent at the June policy meet. It was for the sixth time in a row that the MPC maintained status quo on interest rate.
M Govinda Rao, chief economic advisor of Brickwork Ratings, said the MPC has kept key policy rates unchanged since May 2020, after having brought them down to a record low of 4 per cent from 5.15 per cent through two rate cuts (75 bps in March 2020 and 40 bps in May 2020), to assuage the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
17:27 It was Lalu who introduced Kulhads to trains
'Kulhads' were originally introduced by the then railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in 2004 to keep railway stations clean and generate employment to 'kulhad' makers. Gradually, 'kulhads' were replaced with plastic and paper cups due to the higher cost of 'kulhads' compared to plastic and paper cups.
17:24 Railways to use 'kulhads' in some sectors
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has informed Parliament that instructions have been issued to zones and the IRCTC to ensure the use of kulhads (clay cups). In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that these maybe used to serve passengers through static units at 400 identified railway stations.
"Instructions have been issued to Zonal Railways and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to ensure use of locally produced, environmentally savvy terracotta products like kulhad, glasses and plates for serving passengers through static units at 400 identified railway stations over the Indian Railways. -- PTI
17:21 Elephant herd wreaks havoc in Jharkhand's Chatra, 1 killed
A herd of a dozen wild elephants wreaked havoc in Jharkhand's Chatra district in the early hours of Wednesday and trampled to death a 55-year-old woman, an official said. Several thatched houses were damaged by the herd at Turi Mohalla and Barwadih in Padampur in Tandwa forest area of the district, he said. Jamuni Devi, who was sleeping in her house, was trampled to death by the herd, he added. Another woman, Basanti Devi, suffered a serious head injury.
After getting information about the incident, a team of the Forest Department and block administration visited the spot. Mukti Prakash Panna, the range officer of Tandwa, said that Rs 4 lakh would be given as compensation to the family members of the deceased by the Forest Department. The body has been sent for post-mortem, he said. PTI
16:54 Ayodhya Ram Temple to open by December 2023
Ram Temple in Ayodhya to open for devotees by December 2023, reports news agency ANI. The entire 70-acre campus will be completed by the end of 2025.
The foundation of the temple was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5 last year in a glitzy ceremony but work stalled in January after water was found under the proposed temple site.
Currently, engineers are working on the foundation of the temple and it is likely to be completed by September 15. The second phase of the work is likely to start in November.
16:41 Top gainers in the stock market today
Home loan lender HDFC moved up by 4.6 per cent to Rs 2,672 per share. Kotak Mahindra Bank was up by 3.9 per cent, ICICI Bank by 3.1 per cent, HDFC Bank by 2.1 per cent and Axis Bank by 1.8 per cent.
State Bank of India closed 2.1 per cent higher as the country's largest state-owned bank logged highest-ever quarterly net profit at Rs 6,504 crore.The other prominent gainers were Cipla, Dr Reddy's, Reliance Industries, JSW Steel and Tata Steel.
16:37 BJP's Roopa Ganguly weeps over Parl discussions
Reacting to TMC leader Derek O' Brien's derogatory remark against Home Minister Amit Shah, West Bengal Bhartiya Janata Party leader Roopa Ganguly on Wednesday broke down with tears and said that why was crime cases against women of West Bengal and murder of BJP workers there discussed in Parliament.
On the discussion of the recent Delhi rape case and Pegasus issue in the Parliament, Ganguly while talking to ANI said that " there are so many rape cases happening in the West Bengal. In 2015 and 2016, there have been 35,000 cases per year of crime against women in West Bengal. In post-poll violence in West Bengal in May women had been disrespected and that who will discuss these issues in the Parliament.
"15 to 30 such incidents have happened in West Bengal of rapes, who will speak about it, whenever you go out to speak in the Parliament, you are made to sit with a shout, citing that it is a state issue," alleged Ganguly.
"We are in the ruling party at the Centre, so we are not even given a chance to speak, whenever I raise an issue, I am silenced at the Parliament, sometimes we feel that we should also stand with placards with the protestors instead of going to the opposition party and raise our voice. What's wrong?" said Ganguly.
"In West Bengal, why so many girls are being raped continuously, why no one talks about it, so many workers are being hanged with their hands and feet tied, they are being beaten up, I can give you details of all such cases" further alleged Ganguly."
There are two issues in this- Bharatiya Janata Party workers' heads are being shaved, they are being told to do sit-ups by holding their ears while they are being bribed to come to TMC," alleged Ganguly.
16:26 Sensex breaches 54K mark for first time
Equity benchmark indices claimed fresh record peaks for the second consecutive day on Wednesday amid signs of macroeconomic recovery and firm global market mood.
At the closing bell, the BSE S&P Sensex was up by 546 points or 1.02 per cent at 54,370 while the Nifty 50 advanced by 128 points or 0.79 per cent to 16,259. Sectoral indices closed mixed with Nifty financial service gaining by 2.6 per cent, private bank by 1.9 per cent and PSU bank by 0.3 per cent. But Nifty realty slipped by 1.6 per cent, auto and FMCG by 0.9 per cent, and IT by 0.6 per cent.
Among stocks, home loan lender HDFC moved up by 4.6 per cent to Rs 2,672 per share. Kotak Mahindra Bank was up by 3.9 per cent, ICICI Bank by 3.1 per cent, HDFC Bank by 2.1 per cent and Axis Bank by 1.8 per cent.
16:19 COVID-19: Mumbai gets its first genome sequencing lab
Mumbai's first genome sequencing laboratory at civic-run Nair Hospital will offer the city an added advantage in the battle against coronavirus as the new facility can analyse a large number of samples in a short period and also identify mutants, something that will be especially useful in hotspot areas, the hospital said on Wednesday. The lab was inaugurated virtually by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Another project- Spinraza therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in children was also launched at the T. N. Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, one of the premier medical institutes in the city as part of its centenary celebrations.
Speaking after the inauguration, Thackeray said Nair Hospital, which was set up 100 years ago during the Spanish flu pandemic, is preparing to cater to the health of citizens for another century. He hailed the hospital for setting up new facilities without the help of the state government or municipal corporation of Mumbai.
"The hospital was set up 100 years ago with the help of philanthropists and today as well, donors have come forward. This is the tradition," the CM said. Thackeray also said the need of the hour was to make medicines available for conditions like spinal muscular atrophy in India, as the treatment cost runs into crores. Doctors are also trying hard to see that no child dies due to this condition," he added.
15:54 Made in India warship Vikrant begins sea trial
The sea trials of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, the largest and most complex warship built in the country, began its sea trials on Wednesday.
The Indian Navy described it as a "proud and historic" day for the nation and said India has joined a select group of countries having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier.
The 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier set off on its maiden sea trials, 50 years after its namesake played a major role in the 1971 war.
The aircraft carrier is expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy in the second half of next year.
"It is a proud and historic day for India as the reincarnated Vikrant (IAC) sails for her maiden sea trials today in the 50th year of her illustrious predecessor's key role in the victory in the 1971 war," Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.
He said it is the largest and most complex warship ever to be designed and built in India. "A proud & historical moment in our quest for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) and 'Make in India' initiative," he said.
15:44 Premature to declare 3rd Covid wave: Scientists
The rise in fresh Covid cases and the effective reproduction number indication of how fast an infection spreads -- in many states is worrying but don't panic. Instead, mask up and get vaccinated, say experts, stressing that it is too early to declare the beginning of a new wave.
In fact, it could be that the second wave is not over, said several scientists who have been closely monitoring India's Covid graph and have noted the surge in a few pockets.
In the northeast, for instance, cases have certainly not gone down to the low levels that are being seen in Delhi and other northern states, observed Gautam Menon, professor, Departments of Physics and Biology at Ashoka University in Haryana.
"In that sense, we are likely seeing a continuation of the second wave rather than the initiation of a new Covid wave distinct from the previous one," he explained.
On Wednesday, India recorded 42,625 fresh Covid cases with a daily positivity rate of 2.31 per cent and a weekly one of 2.36 per cent. India's Covid situation is seemingly under control.
However, 13 states/union territories recorded a surge in coronavirus infections last week with Kerala reporting half of India's daily new cases. Last week, Kerala reported 1.4 lakh new COVID-19 cases, around 20,000 more than the previous week.
In the week ended August 1, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, J&K, Sikkim, and Karnataka also witnessed a rise in cases. With the government warning that the pandemic is still raging, there is also an increase in India's effective reproduction number (R) which represents the number of susceptible people one Covid positive person may infect.
A recent analysis by researchers at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, found that the effective R number in India has crossed 1 for the first time since May 7. The government on Tuesday also said the R-value is more than one in eight states and UTs, which is a cause of concern.
15:29 The moment Dahiya's family realised he had won...
Family members and neighbours of Ravi Kumar Dahiya in Sonipat celebrate as soon as he makes his winning move in the Wrestling Men's 57kg Freestyle Semi-finals against Kazakhstan's Nurislam Sanayev in Tokyo. Dahiya is assured of a silver medal.
15:19 Covishield gives more immunity to Delta variant
A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has found that Covid-19-recovered individuals with both doses of Covishield have higher immunity against the Delta variant.
The study titled 'Neutralization Of Delta Variant With Sera of Covishield Vaccines And Covid-19 Recovered Vaccinated Individuals' have assessed the neutralising antibody (NAb) response of individuals immunised with Covishield vaccine (first dose and second dose), COVID-19 recovered individuals who were vaccinated (first dose and second dose) and breakthrough infections (due to Kappa and the Delta variant).
Delta variant has further mutated to Delta plus also known as AY.1.
It read, "The breakthrough cases and the Covid-recovered individuals with one or two doses of Covishield vaccine had relatively higher neutralizing responses against the Delta variant in comparison to the participants who were administered either one or two doses of Covishield."
Moreover, the study suggests that there should be tracking of 'immune escape mutants'.
A comparative assessment of Covishield vaccinated individuals' (n=116) sera in different categories was performed against prototype strain B.1 (D614G) and Delta variant.
15:09 City of Dreams 2 review
City of Dreams, Season 2, drops all pretenses of depth: It is 'pulp served straight' (Category Definitions are important, especially in an age such as this one, where, a wonderful B movie, the trashily enjoyable Sarpatta Parambarai, is being raised to the status of a soul-stirring masterpiece).
If you want to know what 'pulp served straight' is, watch City Of Dreams 2.
Read the review here.
14:53 14 parties demand Parl discussion on Pegasus
Fourteen opposition parties have demanded a discussion on the Pegasus issue in Parliament followed by a reply from the home minister, claiming the matter has "national security dimensions".
"It is unfortunate that the government has unleashed a misleading campaign to malign the combined opposition and blaming it for the continued disruption in Parliament," read a joint statement from the opposition.
"The responsibility for the deadlock lies squarely at the doorsteps of the government, which remains arrogant and obdurate and refuses to accept the opposition's demand for an informed debate in both the houses," statement added.
14:25 Elgar case: HC reserves verdict on Sudha Bharadwaj's default bail plea
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a default bail plea filed by lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.
Opposing her plea, the Maharashtra government told the HC on Wednesday that a sessions court had the power to take cognisance of the charge sheet filed in the case in 2019, since the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was then yet to take over the investigation into the case.
The NIA took over the case in January 2020. Appearing for the Maharashtra government, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that as long as the investigation in a case was not assigned to the NIA, the proceedings pertaining to the same could continue before a regular court.
Bharadwaj had approached the HC earlier this year, seeking default bail on the ground that Pune additional sessions judge KD Vadane, who had taken cognisance of the police chargesheet in the case filed in 2019, was not authorised to do so.
Bharadwaj had annexed RTI (Right to Information) replies from the HC to demonstrate that judge Vadane was not a designated special judge, as was necessary to adjudicate offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Senior counsel Yug Chaudhry, who appeared for Bharadwaj, had earlier told the HC that Vadane pretended to be a special judge and had signed orders as the special judge.
On Wednesday, Chaudhry referred to portions of a recent Supreme Court judgement to show that a special court alone has exclusive jurisdiction to try UAPA offences. Kumbhakoni, however, opposed the submission and said Chaudhry was only citing such portions of the judgement that suited his case and not the judgement in its entirety. -- PTI
14:21 NCW takes suo motu cognizance of Delhi rape
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi meets the parents of the girl who was raped and murdered and says that their tears speak of only one thing, that their daughter has the right to justice. "And I will be with them on this road to justice. My responsibility is to help the victim's family."
Rahul met the family of the nine-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Delhi's Cantonment area, and whose body was forcibly cremated by her attackers.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) takes suo motu cognisance of matter . NCPCR writes to DCP South West, asking him to furnish detailed report within 48 hours.
Public fury has exploded over the horrific incident - the latest to spotlight frighteningly high levels of sexual violence in the country - triggering protests by civil society groups and activists, as well as opposition leaders who have targeted Home Minister Amit Shah (to whom Delhi Police reports).
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee are among those to have slammed Shah and demand he be held to account for this and other gruesome crimes.
Mamata Banerjee visits Howrah
14:11 PM, Mamata discuss floods in Bengal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take stock of the flood situation in state and assures her of all help.
Banerjee complained about the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) releasing water.
The Chief Minister had also called Modi after the aerial survey of the flood-hit areas she planned got cancelled due to bad weather.
Banerjee then went by road to the some of the worst-hit areas in Udainarainpur, located in Kolkata's adjoining Howrah district.
13:11 Kejriwal magisterial probe into minor's rape, death
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Delhi government will order a magisterial inquiry into the death of a nine-year-old Dalit girl following an alleged sexual assault. The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the girl.
"Our girl cannot come back. The injustice done to the family is unfortunate and cannot be compensated, but the government will give Rs 10 lakh to them and order a magisterial inquiry into the matter," he told reporters after meeting the family.
"There is a need to strengthen law and order in Delhi. I appeal to the central government to take firm steps in this direction," he said.
In a tweet, the chief minister said that the government will appoint top lawyers to ensure the guilty is punished.
The parents of the girl accompanied by hundreds of locals were staging a protest near the site of the incident in Old Nangal area in southwest Delhi, demanding capital punishment for the accused.
The girl lived with her parents in a rented house in front of a crematorium. On Sunday at around 5.30 pm, she went to get cold water from a cooler at the crematorium after informing her mother, her parents said.
Around 6 pm, the crematorium's priest, Radhey Shyam, and two-three other people, known to the girl's mother, called her there and showed her daughter's body claiming that she got electrocuted while getting water from the cooler. There were burn marks between her left wrist and elbow, and her lips were also blue, according to police. It was alleged the priest and the others dissuaded her mother from making a PCR call, saying police will make a case out of it and during the post-mortem, doctors will steal the girl's organs, so it was better to cremate her.
Police had on Monday said that based on the statement of the victim's mother, rape charges have been added in the FIR. Four people, including the priest, have been arrested. PTI
13:04 Prez addresses student officers of Defence Svcs college
President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Student Officers of the 77th Staff Course of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in Tamil Nadu today.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the armed forces of our country are amongst the most respected entities of our great nation. They have earned the regard of the fellow citizens by untiring efforts and great sacrifices. They have rendered invaluable services to the nation during the times of war and peace. They have discharged their duties with dedication and courage while facing internal and external security challenges, and in times of natural calamities.
He added that the 21st century society is described as knowledge society. Knowledge truly is power in this century. Just as we are said to be in an era of knowledge economy, we are also into the age of knowledge warfare. As defence professionals, the Officers have to be a knowledge warrior. He expressed confidence that their professional learning at Defence Services Staff College would enable them to imbibe the required competencies. It would equip them with the right toolkit to take on bigger challenges in the future.
12:45 Covid severity decreasing in Kerala, says minister
Despite a high number of daily positive cases, Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Wednesday said the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was decreasing in the state.
The number of patients seeking treatment at hospitals and those needing ICU support has dwindled, she said during the Question Hour session in the Assembly.
"The hospital occupancy and ICU occupancy have decreased in the state now-a--days. That means, the severity of the disease is decreasing," George pointed out. The Health Minister also said the department is now assessing the impact of 'break-through infection' and 'reinfection' among people.
"We are examining whether people are experiencing vaccine breakthrough infection ( a COVID case that occurs in someone who is fully vaccinated) and reinfection ( a person, who was infected and recovered, is infected again)," she said.
As per a recent survey conducted by the Health Department, the reinfection rate has decreased remarkably. However, vaccine breakthrough infection is happening in the state, she said, quoting the survey. Rejecting opposition criticism, George told the House that if a person died of COVID-19, it would be recorded as such.
The instances of people, who died of the virus infection but excluded from the list of COVID deaths somehow, would be examined, she said, adding that no comparison had been made so far between the pandemic death figures of the Health and Local Self Government Departments.
12:39 A crisp dosa for this Brit
When in India, do as the Indians do.
Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India samples dosa in Bengaluru. "Delicious #MysuruMasalaDosa!! A great way to begin my first visit to #Bengaluru," Ellis writes, cutting up his dosa with a fork and knife. The verdict? "Bahut swadisht hai. (It's very tasty), Ellis tweeted.
12:23 29 ministers to be in Cabinet, no Dy CMs: Bommai
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said 29 Ministers will be inducted into his new cabinet this afternoon, and there will be no Deputy Chief Ministers this time.
He also said former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's younger son and state BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra is not among the Ministers who will be sworn-in.
"I have held detailed discussions with high command in Delhi regarding the cabinet expansion, after the final round of discussion last night, this morning the list was finalised. I have already sent the list to the Governor and spoke to him," Bommai said.
Bommai said a total of 29 Ministers will take oath, and in the previous cabinet led by B S Yediyurappa there were three Deputy Chief Ministers, but this time there will be none as per the high command's directions.
"The cabinet will be a mixture of both experience and new strength," he said, adding that in the cabinet there will be 7 OBCs, 3 SCs, 1 ST, 7 Vokkaligas, 8 Lingayats, 1 Reddy, also a woman. The new Ministers will be administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot at the Raj Bhavan at 2:15 pm. The list containing the names of new Ministers will be officially released by the Raj Bhavan as per the formality, the Chief Minister said.
12:18 A tale of two railway lines in China and India
On June 25, 2021, China operationalized the 435-kilometre-long Lhasa-Nyingchi railway line in the southwest of the Tibet Autonomous Region. At 10.30 am, a green bullet train carrying a large number of passengers left Lhasa railway station for Nyingchi, leading to much celebration in Tibet and in China. In India, this event was noted for the fact that it brought the Chinese railway closer to the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh.
But for us, it was a one-day wonder; soon we plunged into our own worries, our own affairs, and our own petty concerns. We completely ignored the engineering and technological marvel this project represented, writes Yashwant Sinha.
Read the column here.
12:05 2020 worst year on record for airline industry
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) publication with performance figures for 2020 demonstrating the devastating effects on global air transport during that year of Covid-19 crisis.A total of 1.8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2 per cent compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019.
11:53 WB to genome sequence fully vaccinated people
With reports of people getting infected even after being administered two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the West Bengal Health department has decided to strengthen the surveillance throughout the state and to prepare a chart of such individuals, an official said on Wednesday.
The department is also planning to conduct genome sequencing on such patients to find out whether if they have had any genetic change in the strain of the coronavirus.
According to the official, the decision to carry out such sequencing was taken keeping in mind warnings of experts about a possible third wave of the pandemic.
"The genome sequencing tests must be done on the people who are affected with the virus even after being fully vaccinated. The primary objective is to find out whether if the vaccine has worked against the virus or if it has mutated," the official said, adding that sequencing would be done everywhere in the state.
"Incidentally, the district administrations in the northern districts of the state, where a few of such cases have been reported, have decided to carry out such sequencing," he added.
Keeping in mind that a large number of people from neighbouring states often enter Bengal through northern corridors, the department has alerted the districts in the northern part of the state.
"There has been strict surveillance in the districts of north Bengal since it has several entries... from neighbouring states so that Covid protocols are properly followed. We need to be on high alert about the warnings of a possible third wave, he added. PTI
11:48 India service sector contracts for third month
India's services sector remained in contraction territory for the third straight month in July, as business activity, new orders and employment declined further largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and local restrictions, a monthly survey said on Wednesday.
The seasonally adjusted India Services Business Activity Index rose from 41.2 in June to 45.4 in July, but was stuck in the red due to subdued demand conditions amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) parlance, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below 50 denotes contraction. "The current COVID-19 environment continued to weigh on the performance of the service sector that is so crucial to the Indian economy. July data was somewhat disappointing, with incoming new business and output falling solidly over the month, but there was at least a slowdown in rates of contraction," Pollyanna De Lima, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit, said.
Looking ahead, firms were pessimistic about the 12-month outlook for output for the first time in a year. "Uncertainty over when the pandemic will end, as well as concerns about inflationary pressures and financial troubles, dampened business confidence in July. Service providers were pessimistic towards the outlook for business activity for the first time in a year," Lima said.
11:27 Air chief in Israel to to enhance military ties
Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria is in Israel to discuss enhancement of bilateral exchanges between air forces of the two countries, the Indian Air Force said on Wednesday.
As strategic partners, India and Israel enjoy strong, multi-dimensional ties, an important pillar of which is defence cooperation and military level exchanges, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said on Twitter.
Both sides will discuss enhancement in the depth and scope of bilateral exchanges between the two air forces, it mentioned.
Before coming to Israel, Bhadauria was in the UAE where he met Major General Ibrahim Nasser M Al Alawi, Commander, UAE Air Force and Air Defence on Sunday. Bhadauria and Alawi on Sunday held wide-ranging talks to identify avenues and measures for further strengthening the robust relationship between the two forces, according to the IAF. PTI
11:18 Sitharaman to table 3 Bills in Parliament today
Amid the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to table three Bills in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.Sitharaman will move for passage the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020, Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 The Bills aim to amend the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2008, Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act 1961 and General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act 1972 respectively.
11:15 US trying to help India, others to produce COVID-19 vaccine: Biden
The US is trying to provide for countries like India the capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines themselves, President Joe Biden has said, as he highlighted the efforts of democratic nations to help the world stem the surge of the pandemic.
"With a need for several billion doses around the world, the US was committed to providing half a billion ( 50 crores) shots," Biden said during a press conference at White House on Tuesday.
"We have committed to over a half a billion doses. And we're trying to provide for more and provide for the capacity of countries like India to be able to produce the vaccine themselves. And we're helping them do that. That's what we're doing now," he said in response to a question.
"And we're trying toby the way, it's free. We're not charging anybody anything. And we're trying to do as much as we possibly can, he added. In this fight against COVID-19," Biden asserted, the United States was committed to become the arsenal of vaccines, the manner in which it was the arsenal of democracy during World War II.
"We are backing up that commitment. We have contributed more than any other nation to COVAX as a collective global effort to deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the world. We have supported manufacturing efforts abroad through our partnerships with Japan, India, Australia known as the Quad," he said.
11:05 Road to Bogohain's home built ahead of bout
A dirt track is being made into a tarmac road only because of a young woman's Olympics feat.
Construction work is underway on the road to boxer Lovlina Borgohain's residence in Golaghat district ahead of her semi-final bout in the Tokyo Olympics later today. "This road is built after many years. I pray for her victory. People are hoping for her win," says a local.
Lovlina Borgohain will be in pursuit of history when she takes on reigning World champion Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey in the Olympics boxing 67 kg semi-finals, in Tokyo shortly.
Borgohain has shown remarkable composure for a debutant at the sport's biggest extravaganza. And it is this poise that might do the trick for her against the imposing opponent from Turkey, who is top seeded in the draw.
Surmeneli is also 23 and has collected two gold medals this year internationally.
10:02 42,625 Covid cases, 562 deaths in 24 hrs in India
India reports 42,625 new COVID-19 cases, 36,668 discharges and 562 deaths in the last 24 hours as per the Union Health Ministry.
Total cases: 3,17,69,132
Total discharges: 3,09,33,022
Death toll: 4,25,757
Active cases: 4,10,353
Total Vaccination: 48,52,86,570 (62,53,741 in last 24 hours)
09:30 Rahul meets family of girl raped, killed in Delhi
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met the family of the nine-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Delhi's Cantonment area, and whose body was forcibly cremated by her attackers.
Public fury has exploded over the horrific incident - which has been compared to the gangrape of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras in September last year - with opposition leaders and civil society activists calling for swift action against the accused.
Gandhi tweeted yesterday, calling the young girl who was murdered "the nation's daughter".
"Dalit's child is also the nation's daughter," he tweeted in Hindi with the screen shot of a news report of the incident.
The Delhi chief minister, meanwhile, pledged help to seek justice for the nine-year-old.
09:00 Will shave my head if Shah comes to Parl: O'Brien
Amid Opposition ruckus in the Parliaments monsoon session, Trinamool Congress MP Derek OBrien stated that he will shave his head if Union Home Minister Amit Shah comes to Parliament on Wednesday and makes a statement on the Delhi rape case.
Brien further accused the home minister of running away from Pegasus.
08:38 IAF chief RKS Bhadauria reaches Israel on official visit
Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria on Tuesday reached Israel in an official visit on the invitation from his counterpart Major General Amikam Norkin.
"Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria reached Israel yesterday on an official visit on an invitation from his counterpart Major General Amikam Norkin," tweeted Indian Air Force. Both sides will be discussing enhancement in depth and scope of bilateral exchanges between the two Air Forces.
"As strategic partners, India & Israel enjoy strong, multi-dimensional ties, an important pillar of which is defence cooperation & military level exchanges. Both sides will discuss enhancement in depth & scope of bilateral exchanges between the two Air Forces," added the IAF tweet.
Earlier, Bhadauria visited UAE at the invitation from Major General Ibrahim Nasser M Al Alawi Cdr UAE Air Force and Air Defence (UAE AF & AD) on Monday.
08:05 Karnataka Cabinet expansion today: CM
Karnataka Cabinet expansion will take place on Wednesday, said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai adding that if clearance is received by the party's central leadership in the morning, the oath-taking ceremony will be held in the evening.
"Cabinet expansion will take place tomorrow. If I get the clearance from the central party leadership tomorrow morning, the oath-taking ceremony will be held in the evening," said Mr Bommai while speaking to reporters in Delhi.
Bommai landed in Delhi on Monday to discuss Karnataka Cabinet expansion with BJP national president JP Nadda. He took oath as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka on July 28, two days after the resignation of BS Yediyurappa.
The CM also informed that there is a difference of opinion among party leaders over the decision of continuing deputy chief ministers appointed by Yediyurappa during his tenure.
00:54 Afghan FM speaks to Jaishankar on Taliban violence
Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammed Hanif Atmar spoke to his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on Tuesday to explore the possibility of convening an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss ways to stop the Taliban's violence and human rights abuses in Afghanistan.
The Afghan foreign ministry said Atmar talked about the escalating violence by the Taliban and foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan and called for a meeting of the UNSC to discuss the situation.
"Called Indian FM HE @DrSJaishankar to discuss convening an emergency UN Security Council Session on AFG," Atmar said on Twitter.
"UN & int'l community must play a greater role to stop the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan due to Taliban violence & atrocities. Appreciate the lead role of India as current UNSC President," he said.
India holds the presidency of the UNSC for the month of August.
In a statement, the Afghan foreign ministry said Atmar described the Taliban's attacks in "collusion with foreign fighters and terrorist groups" as a violation of international law and talked about their possible consequences on the region's stability and security.
It said Atmar spoke to Jaishankar on the escalating violence and widespread human rights violations by the Taliban and the foreign terrorist groups.
He proposed that a special UNSC meeting be held with a focus on the immediate cessation of violence in Afghanistan, according to the statement.
The Afghan foreign ministry said Jaishankar expressed India's deep concern over the escalation in violence and human rights violations in Afghanistan and called for steps to ensure peace in the country.
The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1. The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.
India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD 3 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the war-ravaged country.
India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
It has also been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in the country, including those from the minority communities, for a prosperous and safe future. -- PTI