Thu, 14 January 2021
Farmers to take out rally to India Gate on R-Day

Timeline  Refresh

23:41   58 people injured during jallikattu
At least 58 people, including spectators, were injured at the annual jallikattu event held here on Thursday, police said. 

The bull taming sport was held on the occasion of harvest festival Pongal at Avaniyapuram and as many as 529 bulls were used. 

The injured included spectators and sportsmen, police said. The event, inaugurated by state Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju, was held following COVID-19 guidelines.

-- PTI
23:09   Farmers to take out rally to India Gate on R-Day
Protesting farmers will take out a procession from Red Fort to India Gate and hoist the national flag at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Republic Day, said the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Thursday said, "There will be a historic parade on Republic Day this year. Farmers will take out a procession from Red Fort to India Gate from one side while jawans will march from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. We will meet at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. The farmers will make the country proud." 

His remarks came after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three central farm laws today.

Tikait had earlier said that protesting farmers will not return to their homes till the new farm laws are repealed.

Both sides are scheduled to meet on Friday to take further the ongoing consultation that began in December. Tikait said they are ready for talks.

-- ANI
22:51   Brazil sends aircraft to collect vaccines, 'too early' for exports says India
Brazil appears to have jumped the gun by officially announcing the despatch of an aircraft to transport two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from India, with New Delhi making it clear on Thursday that decisions on supplies to foreign countries will take more time.

A statement issued by Brazils foreign ministry on Wednesday said an Airbus A330neo aircraft of Azul Airlines equipped with special containers was set to fly back from Mumbai with two million doses of vaccine from Serum Institute of India and reach the country on January 16.

People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that any supplies contracted for by foreign countries, including Brazil, would be provided by India in due course though a timeframe for this is yet to be finalised.

India stands by its commitment to help the world and all countries will get the vaccines, one of the people cited above said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaros office announced on January 8 that he had written a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to expedite a shipment of two million doses of AstraZenecas Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. Bolsonaro is facing pressure to rollout the vaccine from political rivals, including some who have shown a preference for the Chinese vaccine.

Asked about the matter during a weekly news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was too early to discuss vaccine exports as Indias immunisation programme is set to be rolled out on Saturday.

You would recall that the prime minister had already stated that Indias vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used for the benefit of all humanity in fighting this crisis, Srivastava said.
22:22   Centre sends Covid vaccine rulebook to states
Two days to go for the rollout of the Covid vaccines, the Centre circulated the dos and don'ts for vaccination to the states this evening. 

The rollout on Saturday is expected to cover 3 lakh healthcare workers across 3,006 sites across the country.

Vaccination is allowed only for those who are above the age of 18 years, the Centre said. Women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy and lactating mothers should not receive the vaccine.

The Centre also said that interchangeability of vaccine is not permitted. The second dose of the vaccine should also be of the one that was administered as first dose.

Both vaccines cleared by the country's drug regulator -- Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- are two-dose vaccines which have to be administered at a 28-day gap.

Vaccination will have to be deferred for four to eight weeks after recovery of patients with active Covid symptoms, those who have been given plasma therapy, and those who are unwell and hospitalised for any other reason.
22:21   Jaime Harrison selected as Biden's DNC chair
US President-elect Joe Biden is tapping former South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison to lead the Democratic National Committee, according to three people familiar with the decision, a major victory for state party heads and the powerful House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

Harrison, a current associate chair and senior counselor at the DNC, will be charged with leading the Democrats through the tumultuous 2022 midterms and keeping the partys warring factions together if party members formally elect him as expected this month.

For state party officials, many of whom continue to harbor resentment over the DNCs diminishment during the Barack Obama administration, the selection of Harrison came as a relief.
21:58   Trump's trial could start on Inauguration Day
US President Donald Trump's impeachment trial could begin at 1 pm (local time) on Inauguration Day next Wednesday as US President-elect Joe Biden is being sworn into office.
That's according to a a timeline of Senate procedure obtained by The Associated Press.

It's the possible schedule if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate soon.

Trump was impeached by the House on Wednesday on a single charge of incitement to insurrection after the deadly Capitol siege last week by a pro-Trump mob.

Trump is the only US president ever to be impeached twice.

Pelosi hasn't said when she'll send the impeachment charge to the Senate. Some Democrats have suggested holding back to allow Biden time to be inaugurated and to start working on his priorities first.
21:30   Hazare says he will launch hunger strike on farmers' issues in Delhi
Activist Anna Hazare on Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reiterated his decision to launch "the last hunger strike" of his life on farmers' issues in Delhi by January end.

The letter comes even  as famrer unions are agitating on Delhi borders against the Centre's new farm laws.

He will stage the fast by month-end, 83-year-old Hazare said, without specifying the date.
On December 14, Hazare had written to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, warning of a hunger strike if his demands including the implementation of the M S Swaminathan Committee's recommendations on agriculture were not fulfilled.
Another demand made by him was grant of autonomy to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
"On the issue of farmers, I have had correspondence (with the Centre) five times, however, no response came.

"As a result, I have decided to go on the last hunger strike of my life," said Hazare in his missive to the prime minister.

He wrote four letters to the concerned authority to seek permission to stage his hunger strike at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi but no response came from their side too, he said.

Hazare, who was in the forefront of anti-corruption movement in 2011, reminded that when he went on a hunger strike at the Ramlila Maidan, the then UPA government had called a special session of Parliament.

-- PTI
21:19   Delhi extends quarantine order till January 31
Delhi government extends till January 31 its order pertaining to 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving in Delhi from the United Kingdom. 

Earlier, Delhi had issued an order stating that all travellers coming to Delhi from the United Kingdom will have to undergo a seven-day institutional quarantine even if they test negative for COVID-19.

After completion of the institutional quarantine, such passengers will have to go under home-quarantine for another seven days which will be ensured through 'strict surveillance' by district authorities.

As of date, the number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 109, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.
20:56   Kerala suffered Rs 1.56 lakh crore revenue loss due to COVID pandemic and lockdown:Finance minister
Already ravaged by Ockhi Cyclone and two consecutive floods during the previous years, Kerala has suffered a revenue loss of Rs 1.56 lakh crore due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, state Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said.
Isaac, who tabled the Left government's Economic Review 2020 in the state assembly, a day ahead of the state budget, said natural disasters including Cyclone Ockhi of 2017, two consecutive floods of 2018, '19 and the pandemic affected the state's economy along with the return of non-resident Keralites from abroad, mostly following job loss.
The state's growth rates, which were higher than the national rates of growth saw a downward trend in 2019-20, due to the setbacks the state economy faced during the last three years, the review said.
"The natural disasters ravaged the state economy affecting the lives and livelihoods of many and adversely affecting productive sectors of the economy," it said.
"Kerala suffered a revenue loss of Rs 1.56 lakh crore due to COVID-19. In tomorrow's budget we will discuss how to overcome the post-COVID situation in the state," the minister said.
The 100 days programme, to revive the social and economic life in the state launched in September last year, was "the exit strategy" of the government to overcome the pandemic crisis, Isaac said.
"While the target of the government was jobs for 50,000 people, over one lakh jobs were created," he said.

-- PTI
20:29   SC panel on farm laws likely to meet on Jan 19
The Supreme Court-appointed panel on farm laws is likely to hold its first meeting on January 19 at Pusa campus, one of its members Anil Ghanwat said on Thursday and asserted the committee will have no "ego or prestige issue" if it has to go to farmers' protest sites to talk to them.

The panel members were scheduled to have a virtual interaction earlier in the day to discuss its future course of action, but it could not take place after ex-MP and farmer leader Bhupinder Singh Mann recused himself from the committee.
The existing members can hold their virtual interaction on Friday now, Ghanwat said, while asserting that he will not leave the committee unless asked by the apex court and he does not expect any other member to recuse.

On January 11, the apex court had appointed a four-member committee to look into the new farm laws against which the farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at Delhi borders for over 40 days.
The court had directed the committee to hold its first sitting within 10 days and submit a report in two months.
"The first sitting will have to be held before January 20. It will be held with existing members. Most probably, the meeting will be on January 19 in Pusa campus," Ghanwat said.

-- PTI
20:06   Gainers and laggards in Sensex rise
TCS was the top gainer in the Sensex pack on Thursday, rising around 3 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, L&T, ITC, HUL, Reliance Industries and Sun Pharma. 

On the other hand, HCL Tech, Axis Bank, Asian Paints, UltraTech Cement and Infosys were among the laggards, as the graphic alongside shows.
20:05   Sensex continues its onward march
Resuming its record-setting streak, equity benchmark Sensex advanced 92 points on Thursday, led by gains in index majors TCS, Reliance Industries and L&T amid a positive trend in global markets.  

Recovering from a shaky start, the 30-share BSE index ended 91.84 points or 0.19 per cent higher at its new lifetime closing high of 49,584.16, as the graphic alongside shows.
20:02   Sanitation worker to be 1st to get vaccine in MP
The first dose of COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be given to a cleanliness worker in Madhya Pradesh on January 16 as a mark of respect for services rendered by sanitation workers during the pandemic, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan indicated on Thursday.

Chouhan described the COVID-19 vaccine as a 'sanjeevni buti' (life-saving drug).

The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive will begin at 9 am on January 16 and healthcare professionals and frontline workers will be covered in the first phase.

Attempts are being made to give the first dose of vaccine to a cleanliness worker as a mark of respect for services they have rendered to people during the coronavirus crisis, Chouhan said.

In the first phase, nearly 4.24 lakh vaccine doses will be administered to healthcare workers who have played a major role in saving the lives of people, he said.

-- PTI
19:27   PM to launch covid vaccination at 10.30 am on Saturday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the nationwide Covid vaccination drive via video link at 10.30 am on Saturday, the government said today. Some 3 lakh health workers will receive shots on the first day.

The vaccination drive will begin with 3,006 sites that will be virtually connected during the launch. Each centre will inoculate 100 people a day to begin with.

"This vaccination programme is based on the principles of priority groups to be vaccinated and health care workers, both in government and private sectors, will receive the vaccine during this phase," said the government.

The vaccination drive will use Co-WIN, an online digital platform developed by Health Ministry to facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and tracking of vaccine recipients.

A 24x7 call centre - 1075 - has also been established for addressing questions related to the pandemic, the vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.

The government aims to vaccinate 300 million high-risk people over the next few months.
19:07   No foreign head of State as R-Day chief guest
No foreign dignitary will attend this year's Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest due to the Covid outbreak, the foreign ministry said today.

"Due to the global COVID-19 situation, it has been decided that this year there will not be any foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event," ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

18:54   Lady Gaga, J-Lo to perform at Biden inauguration
Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at Joe Biden's inauguration and Jennifer Lopez will give a musical performance on the West Front of the US Capitol when Biden is sworn in as the nation's 46th president next Wednesday.
The announcement of their participation comes one day after word that Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden's inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons.

At the swearing-in ceremony, the Reverend Leo O'Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, will give the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia.
There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Reverend Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
18:33   Pope Francis, his predecessor vaccinated: Vatican
The Vatican today said Pope Francis and ex-pope Benedict have received the coronavirus vaccines. "I can confirm that as part of the Vatican City State vaccination programme to date, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," spokesman Matteo Bruni said. 

The announcement came a day after The Vatican, the worlds smallest state, began its own ambitious COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

A statement said the programme started in the atrium of the large audience hall that is normally used for papal audiences.
18:01   Govt-farmers talks to take place on Friday
The government's ninth round of negotiations with protesting farmer unions will take place as scheduled on Friday and the Centre is hopeful of positive discussions, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Thursday.
"The government is ready to hold talks with farmers' leaders with an open mind," Tomar told reporters.
Clearing the confusion over the fate of the ninth round of talks, which was the only outcome in the last meeting on January 8, in the wake of the Supreme Court on January 11 appointing a four-member panel to resolve the impasse and a key member of the proposed committee subsequently recusing himself, Tomar said the talks between the government and the union representatives will take place as scheduled for 12 pm on January 15.
The farmer unions have been maintaining that they were ready to attend the scheduled talks with the government, even as they have said they do not want to appear before the court-appointed panel and have also questioned its composition.
Earlier in the day, Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann said he is recusing himself from the four-member committee.
Farmer unions and opposition parties had called it a "pro-government" panel, insisting that its members have been in favour of the three laws in the past.
-- PTI
17:34   Pawar casts doubts on SC's farm committee
"Truly independent" persons should have been appointed on the committee formed by the Supreme Court to resolve the impasse over new farm laws, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Thursday. 

The apex court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the new farm laws and set up a four-member committee to resolve the impasse between the Centre and the farmer unions agitating at Delhi borders.

Pawar, a former Union agriculture minister, said the agitating farmers do not have faith in the panel as these members were said to have supported the new farm laws of the Centre in the past. 

"Hence, the farmers don't think anything will come out of discussions with the committee. And I agree with them. It would have been better if independent -- in a true sense independent -- persons had been appointed," he said. 

On Tuesday, Pawar had welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to stay the implementation of the laws and set up a committee. The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, and Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana.

But on Thursday, Mann said he was recusing himself from the panel "in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions among the farmer unions". PTI
17:01   2 of WHO team in Wuhan test Covid+ve
Thirteen international experts of the WHO arrived in Wuhan on Thursday for the long-awaited probe into the origins of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, while two others did not board the flight from Singapore to the central Chinese city after they tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

 The international team of 13 scientists examining the origins of the virus that causes #COVID19 arrived in Wuhan, #China, today. The experts will begin their work immediately during the 2 weeks quarantine protocol for international travellers, the World Health Organisation said in a tweet. Two scientists are still in #Singapore completing tests for #COVID19. All team members had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 in their home countries prior to travelling, it said. They were tested again in #Singapore and were all negative for PCR. But two members tested positive for IgM antibodies. They are being retested for both IgM and IgG antibodies, the WHO said.

The two experts failed to clear the screening procedures and were blocked from travelling to China, the Wall Street Journal reported. Chinese officials involved in the screening process blocked the two delegation members from boarding their plane to the central Chinese city of Wuhan after both tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in blood-based serology tests during transit in Singapore the report said.
16:57   Comedian Faruqui, in jail for two weeks, moves HC for bail
Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, arrested by Indore police nearly two weeks ago for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a show, has now moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking bail. The application may come up for hearing on Friday, court sources said. 

Earlier, the magistrate's court as well as the sessions court had rejected his bail plea. On Wednesday, chief judicial magistrate Aman Singh Bhuria extended Faruqui's judicial custody till January 27. Police arrested Faruqui, who hails from Gujarat, and four others on January 1 following a complaint by a BJP MLA's son that objectionable remarks were made by him and others about Hindu deities during a comedy show at a local cafe. 

Faruqui's father-in-law Younus Badra Imani told PTI that he met the comedian at the central jail here on Saturday and again on Wednesday. "He asked about the well-being of his wife and other family members," Imani said, claiming that jail officials did not allow Faruqi to talk to his family over phone citing rules.
16:42   R-Day disruptions will send wrong message: Govt
Any disruption or obstruction in the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 will send a wrong message to the world, said Union Minister Kailash Choudhary on Thursday.

Reacting to the proposed tractor rally planned by farmers on Republic Day to protest against the three agricultural laws, Choudhary said any disruption or obstruction in the Republic Day celebrations will send a wrong message to the world. 

"The agitating farmers should take back their decision regarding the proposed rally," Choudhary told ANI.

Choudhary urged the agitating farmers to trust the Supreme Court-mandated committee.

"The committee formed by the SC in the matter will make unbiased decisions and farmers can put their issues in front of them so that the court can announce the verdict in the matter as soon as possible," he said adding that the agitating farmers must also think about the farmers who are supporting the new farm laws.

Responding to the recent tweet of Rahul Gandhi, in which he has slammed the Union government regarding the ongoing farmers' agitation, the Union Minister said, "Rahul Gandhi is just politicising the matter and the farmers' union must understand that they are being provoked by Congress."

16:24   Depression, stress can reduce vaccine efficacy
Depression, stress and loneliness can weaken the body's immune system, and lower the effectiveness of certain vaccines, including the new Covid-19 preventives that are in development and the early stages of global distribution, scientists say. 

According to a report accepted for publication in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, simple interventions, including exercise and getting a good night's sleep in the 24 hours before vaccination, may maximise the vaccine's initial effectiveness. 

The researchers noted that even though rigorous testing has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines approved for distribution in the US are highly effective at producing a robust immune response, not everyone will immediately gain their full benefit. 

Environmental factors, as well as an individual's genetics and physical and mental health, can weaken the body's immune system, slowing the response to a vaccine, they said.

"In addition to the physical toll of Covid-19, the pandemic has an equally troubling mental health component, causing anxiety and depression, among many other related problems," said Annelise Madison, a researcher at The Ohio State University in the US. 

"Emotional stressors like these can affect a person's immune system, impairing their ability to ward off infections," said Madison, lead author on the paper. The report sheds light on vaccine efficacy and how health behaviours and emotional stressors can alter the body's ability to develop an immune response. Vaccines work by challenging the immune system. Within hours of a vaccination, there is an innate, general immune response on the cellular level as the body begins to recognise a potential biological threat. -- PTI
16:00   Sensex, Nifty end at fresh record highs
Resuming its record-setting streak, equity benchmark Sensex advanced 92 points on Thursday, led by gains in index majors TCS, Reliance Industries and L&T amid a positive trend in global markets. Recovering from a shaky start, the 30-share BSE index ended 91.84 points or 0.19 per cent higher at its new lifetime closing high of 49,584.16. 

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty rose 30.75 points or 0.21 per cent to finish at a record 14,595.60. TCS was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 3 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, L&T, ITC, HUL, Reliance Industries and Sun Pharma. On the other hand, HCL Tech, Axis Bank, Asian Paints, UltraTech Cement and Infosys were among the laggards. Domestic equities witnessed a brisk recovery from the day's low mainly led by a rebound in FMCG and pharma stocks, said Binod Modi, Head- Strategy at Reliance Securities. 

IT index has been most surprising as profit-booking was visible in many IT stocks despite strong Q3 numbers and upbeat guidance shared by the managements. "We believe underlying strength of the market remains intact and any correction in the market is likely to be bought out. 

Sustained recovery in key economic data for Dec'20, better-than-expected 3Q FY21 corporate earnings so far and upbeat managements' commentaries continue to augur well for the market," he said. Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo ended in the positive territory, while Shanghai was in the red. Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading with gains in early deals.
15:27   Passenger vehicle sales in India rise 14% in Dec: SIAM
Passenger vehicle wholesales in India increased 13.59 per cent to 2,52,998 units last month on a very low sales base of December 2019, auto industry body SIAM said on Thursday. 

Passenger vehicle sales in December 2019 stood at 2,22,728 units. As per the latest data by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), two-wheeler sales also rose 7.42 per cent to 11,27,917 units, compared to 10,50,038 in December 2019. Motorcycle sales increased 6.65 per cent to 7,44,237 units as against 6,97,819 in December 2019. Scooter sales were also up 5.59 at 3,23,696 units from 3,06,550 units a year ago.

Commenting on the December sales, SIAM Director General Rajesh Menon said the passenger vehicle and two-wheeler segments witnessed an increase in sales last month over a very low base of December 2019. In the October-December quarter this fiscal, passenger vehicle sales increased 14.44 per cent to 8,97,908 units from 7,84,616 units in the year-ago period. Two-wheeler sales during the December quarter rose 13.37 per cent to 47,82,110 units as compared to 42,18,157 units in the same period a year earlier. -- PTI
15:24   Rest In Peace, Onkar Singh, Superman of News
Onkar Singh, a valuable member of the team over the years, breathed his last on January 13. Syed Firdaus Ashraf, who knew him intimately, remembers the ultimate newsman. Read the tribute here
Pic: Umar Ganie
Pic: Umar Ganie
15:19   SDRF prevents people from walking on frozen Dal lake
Authorities in Srinagar on Thursday deployed SDRF personnel in the Dal Lake, which has frozen due to record low minimum temperature in Kashmir, to prevent people from walking on the frozen surface of the water body. 

"Due to freezing temperatures, many water bodies in the valley, including the world famous Dal Lake have frozen. It has been observed that some people, particularly youth and children attempt to walk on the frozen water bodies," Aamir Ali, Nodal Officer of the State Emergency Operation Centre, Srinagar said.

Ali said that moving on this thin layer of ice, particularly the Dal Lake, is very risky and can result in slips, falls, fractures and fatal injuries. "When the thickness of ice is less than four inches, it is very unsafe to walk, or play and the ice can break resulting in drowning. There are many springs inside the Dal Lake and the ice is very thin at these spots and it's difficult to spot these locations while walking or playing on the ice surface," he said. 

Ali said the district magistrate Srinagar has issued an advisory to dissuade people from walking, playing or moving on the frozen Dal Lake, as it is unsafe. He said action will be initiated against anyone trying to violate these instructions. 

"Quick Response Teams (QRTs) of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and River Police have been deployed in the Dal Lake, as a precautionary measure," he added. Srinagar recorded a low of minus 8.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday, which is the lowest since 1991 when the mercury plunged to minus 11.4 degrees Celsius. -- PTI
14:57   One member recuses himself from SC committee
Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, who was one of the four members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee on farm laws, on Thursday said he is recusing himself from the panel. Mann said he is thankful to the apex court for nominating him on the committee but would sacrifice any position offered to him so as not to compromise the interests of farmers. -- PTI

14:45   Govt will be forced to revoke farm laws: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi in Madurai, holds forth on the farmers' crisis: "Govt isn't just neglecting them, it's conspiring to destroy them because they want to benefit 2-3 of their friends. They want to give what belongs to farmer to 2-3 of their friends. That's what's happening. Neglect is too weak a word to explain what is taking place: 

"Farmers of this country are the backbone of this country. If anybody thinks that you can suppress farmers & this country will continue to prosper, they just have to look at our history. Whenever Indian farmers are weak, India is weak.

"You are suppressing farmers. You're helping handful of businesses. When Corona comes, you are not helping common man. Whose Prime Minister are you? Are you the Prime Minister of the people of India or of 2-3 selected businessmen?

"Mark my words. Take it from me. The Government will be forced to take these laws (the three #FarmLaws), back. Remember what I said."

On China: "What is China doing inside our territory? Why are the Chinese people sitting inside Indian territory? Why has the PM got nothing to say about it? Why is the PM completely silent about the fact that Chinese troops are sitting inside Indian territory?"

Bhupinder Singh Mann recuses himself from SC panel on farmers protests. Claims deference to sentiments.
13:54   Govt to examine WhatsApp's user policy changes
The government is examining and evaluating the recent privacy policy update announced by WhatsApp, amid an outcry over the controversial changes linking data of WhatsApp users to Facebook's other products and services, according to sources. 

Internal discussions are on within the IT Ministry over the implications of the recent move by the Facebook-owned messaging platform, they said. The issue needs to be looked at, in detail, given that concerns have been raised by a large section of users including some top business leaders, they added. 

WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, counts the country among its biggest markets globally. Sources further said that WhatsApp's policy update would also be evaluated in the context of the current legal framework. 

While the IT Ministry has not yet approached WhatsApp seeking an explanation on the matter, a decision on the same is likely to be taken soon. The development comes amid a raging debate over WhatsApp's controversial update in its terms of service and privacy policy around how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the social media giant's products. 

WhatsApp had informed users about these changes through an in-app notification, last week. It said that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, in order to continue using the platform. This led to a user backlash and triggered memes on the internet over WhatsApp's alleged sharing of user information with Facebook. Many users have also started shifting to rival platforms like Telegram and Signal, and these platforms have seen millions of downloads globally in the immediate aftermath of the event.
13:32   All samples taken from Ghazipur chicken market test negative for bird flu
All the 100 samples taken from Asia's largest chicken market in Ghazipur have tested negative for bird flu, a senior official of the Delhi animal husbandry unit said on Thursday. 

The results come three days after samples taken from crows and ducks at parks and lakes in the national capital tested positive for avian influenza. This had led to the Delhi government on Monday banning the sale of processed and packaged chicken brought from outside the city and shutting the wholesale poultry market in east Delhi for 10 days as a precautionary measure. The Ghazipur market located on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border is a key supplier of poultry products in the region. Chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys are among the poultry birds bred by farmers for their eggs and meat. 

"Test results of 104 samples arrived on Wednesday evening. Of these, 100 samples were collected from 35 poultry birds in the Ghazipur market. All samples have tested negative for bird flu," senior Animal Husbandry Unit officer Rakesh Singh said.

"It means there is no spread of avian influenza in poultry birds in Delhi," he said. However, bird flu is suspected in the remaining four samples of Heron birds taken from Hastsal Park, Singh said, adding that these samples have been sent from a Jalandhar-based lab to Bhopal for confirmation.

The official said that around 850 bird deaths have been reported from various parts of the city since January 6. Officials had earlier said that 10 samples from three areas Mayur Vihar Phase 3, Sanjay Lake and Dwarka Sector 9 tested positive for avian influenza.
13:28   GST if you don't serve notice period
Just in: Leaving your job without serving the stipulated notice period will now cost employees 18 percent goods and services (GST) tax on the pay recovered for the notice period duration. The Gujarat Authority of Advance Ruling has held that an employee exiting a company without completing their notice period would be liable to pay 18 percent GST on recovery of the pay.

But then again your company can opt to waive the notice period for you, which most decent employers do. 
13:19   Rahul sends out message to Tamil haters
Rahul Gandhi on his jallikattu experience in Madurai: "It was quite a lovely experience to see Tamil culture, history in action. I'm happy that Jallikattu is being organised in a systematic and safe way that both the bull and the youngsters are safe and everybody is being taken care of.

"I have received tremendous love and affection from the people of Tamil Nadu and it is my duty to stand with them and protect their history, culture and language. 

"I have come here as I think Tamil culture, language and history are essential for India's future and need to be respected. I've come here to give a message to those who think that they can run roughshod over Tamil people, can push aside Tamil language and Tamil culture."

DMK President MK Stalin's son and actor Udhayanidhi was present at the Jallikattu event.
12:24   81 centres will vaccinate 8100 people/day: Kejri
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on the way ahead for vaccinating Delhi from Covid-19. "Vaccination will be done at 81 locations in Delhi on 16th January. Around 100 people will be vaccinated at each of these locations in a day. Vaccination will be done on four days a week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"So far, we have received 2,74,000 doses of vaccine from the Centre. Each person will be administered two doses and Centre provides 10% extra vaccine, taking damage into account. So the 2,74,000 doses will be sufficient for around 1,20,000 health workers. We will begin with 81 centres, it will then be increased to 175 in a few days and then to 1000 centres across Delhi."
12:10   Rahul hits Madurai for Jallikattu event
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives in Madurai. He will visit Avaniyapuram shortly, where the Jallikattu event began today. Gandhi would lend his moral support to farmers protesting against the new farm laws across the country by witnessing the sport at Avaniapuram in Madurai district, he told reporters. 

"The bull is a symbol of farmers and part of their lives," the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president said. His visit is to "honour the farmers and the valorous Tamil culture on the day of harvest festival and he will not engage in election campaign on that day," he said.
12:07   Infosys shares decline 5 pc after earnings
Shares of Infosys on Thursday early trade dropped 5 per cent even after the company posted a 16.6 per cent rise in consolidated net profit for the December 2020 quarter, and increased its revenue growth guidance for FY21. The stock plunged 5 per cent to Rs 1,318.05 on BSE. 

On NSE, it declined 4.95 per cent to Rs 1,318.45. Infosys on Wednesday posted a 16.6 per cent rise in consolidated net profit at Rs 5,197 crore for the December 2020 quarter, and increased its revenue growth guidance for FY21 to 4.5-5 per cent on the back of large project wins and strong deal pipeline. 

The Bengaluru-based company, whose large deal total contract value rose to an all-time high of USD 7.13 billion in the quarter under review, had registered a net profit (after minority interest) of Rs 4,457 crore in the year-ago period. 

Infosys' revenue grew 12.3 per cent to Rs 25,927 crore in the quarter ended December 2020 from Rs 23,092 crore in the year-ago period. Buoyed by the strong performance, Infosys increased its FY21 revenue growth forecast to 4.5-5 per cent in constant currency terms from its previous guidance of 2-3 per cent growth.
11:40   PM will become bigger if farm laws repealed: Sena
Days after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the new farm laws, Shiv Sena on Thursday said that the Central government does not want to just end the protest on the contentious acts, but also wants to do politics by painting it as "anti-national".

The editorial in Shiv Sena's mouthpiece 'Saamana' also said that the farmers are adamant about continuing their protest despite the Supreme Court ruling. 

"Now it will be said on behalf of the government that these farmers do not even listen to the Supreme Court. The question is not about the dignity of the Supreme Court, but about the agricultural policy of the country. Farmers are demanding that farm laws be repealed. The decision has to be taken by the government," it said.

"Agitating farmers are being defamed by labelling them as Khalistani supporters. If Khalistan supporters have entered this movement, then this is also a failure of the government. The government does not want to end the protest but wants to do politics by painting it as anti-national," read the editorial.
Shiv Sena said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should welcome the courage and stubbornness of this protest and the farmers. "Farmers should be respected by repealing farm laws. Modi will become bigger than he is today," it said.

The editorial underlined that the ongoing discussions between farmer organisations and the government have been unsuccessful at every stage."The government is putting the Supreme Court in front to end the farmers' protest. Once the farmers return home from the Singhu border, the government will remove the moratorium on the agricultural law and block the farmers. Farmer organisations are in the mood to do or die. The government wants to keep agitating farmers involved in discussions. The farmers have thwarted them," it said.

"If the decision of the Supreme Court is not accepted by millions of farmers, then will you say that lakhs of farmers are traitors?" the editorial questioned.It further said that the four-member Supreme Court-mandated committee for talks with farmers has members who have supported the farm laws, and termed this as the reason behind farmers rejecting it.

The party claimed that the farmers' movement is now going to be more effective. "On January 26, on the occasion of Republic Day, farmers will take out a large tractor rally and attempt to enter Delhi... So far, 40-75 farmers have sacrificed their lives in the movement," it added. -- ANI
A shikarawala at a partially frozen Dal Lake. Pic: Umar Ganie
A shikarawala at a partially frozen Dal Lake. Pic: Umar Ganie
11:16   -8.4! Srinagar's coldest night in 30 years
A major portion of Kashmir's famous Dal Lake and several other water bodies froze on Thursday as the cold wave in the valley continued with Srinagar recording the coldest night in 30 years, officials said.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 8.4 degrees Celsius, which was the coldest temperature recorded in the city in 30 years, an official of the MET department said. He said while Srinagar had recorded minus 8.3 degrees Celsius in 1995, the temperature has fallen to minus 11.3 degrees Celsius in 1991. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Srinagar was minus 14.4 degrees Celsius in 1893. The rest of the valley was also reeling under intense cold. 

Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 11.1 degrees Celsius up from the previous night's minus 11.7 degrees Celsius. The resort was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir. The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 7 degrees Celsius up from minus 10 degrees Celsius the night earlier. 

Vast areas of many water bodies including Dal Lake have frozen due to the bone chilling cold.
10:22   Fitch: Economy will suffer lasting damage but...
The Indian economy will suffer lasting damage from the coronavirus crisis and after an initial strong rebound in FY22 (fiscal year ending March 2022) growth will slow to around 6.5 per cent a year over FY23-FY26, Fitch Ratings said on Thursday. 

"A combination of supply-side scarring and demand-side constraints - such as the weak state of the financial sector - will keep the level of GDP well below its pre-pandemic path," it said in commentary on the Indian economy. 

Fitch said India's coronavirus-induced recession has been among the most severe in the world, amid a stringent lockdown and limited direct fiscal support. The economy is now in a recovery phase that will be further supported by the rollout of vaccines in the next months. 

"We expect gross domestic product (GDP) to expand by 11 per cent in FY22 (April 2021 to March 2022) after falling by 9.4 per cent in FY21 (April 2020 to March 2021)," it said. India's economy had been losing momentum even ahead of the shock delivered by the COVID-19 crisis. The rate of GDP growth sank to a more than ten-year low of 4.2 per cent in 2019, down from 6.1 per cent the previous year. 

The pandemic bought a human and an economic catastrophe for India, with nearly 1.5 lakh deaths. Though the deaths per million are significantly lower than in Europe and the US, the economic impact had been much more severe. GDP in April-June was 23.9 per cent below its 2019 level, indicating that nearly a quarter of the country's economic activity was wiped out by the drying up of global demand and the collapse of domestic demand that accompanied the series of strict national lockdowns. Further, a 7.5 per cent decline in GDP in the following quarter pushed Asia's third-largest economy into an unprecedented recession.
Nawab Malik's son, Sameer
Nawab Malik's son, Sameer
10:10   NCB intensifies drug case probe after arrest of Nawab Malik's son-in-law
After the arrest of Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik's son-in-law Sameer Khan yesterday, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has intensified its investigation in the drugs case.

Multiple teams of the NCB are conducting raids in Mumbai since last night. In a tweet on Thursday, Malik said, "Nobody is above the law and it should be applied without any discrimination. Law will take its due course and justice will prevail. I respect and have immense faith in our judiciary."

Recently, Mumbai's renowned 'Muchhad Paanwala' was arrested in connection with the drug case.

Komal Rampal, sister of Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal, was also interrogated by the NCB office in Mumbai on Monday for interrogation in the case. -- ANI
10:00   Modi kites a big hit in Patna
Kite sellers in Patna say 'PM Modi print kites' are a special attraction among people on Makar Sankranti today. "There is a rise in demand for kites with PM Modi on them, among the customers. Our stock is almost over," says Rajeev Ranjan, a shop owner.
09:57   Union minister Shripad Naik's health improving: Doctors
The health condition of Union minister Shripad Naik, who is undergoing treatment at a Goa hospital following an accident, has improved and he is responding to the treatment, a senior official from the hospital said on Thursday. 

Naik, 68, continues to be on high flow nasal cannula (HFNC-an oxygen supply system), the official from the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), where the minister is admitted, told PTI.

A joint team of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and the GMCH is monitoring the minister's health, he said. "There is lot of improvement in his health condition and he is recovering. He is responding to the treatment," the official said. The team from AIIMS arrived in Goa on Tuesday and reviewed the health condition of the Union Minister of State for Defence and AYUSH.
09:55   CM can't sleep without counting corpses: Tejashwi
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday hit out at the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar over deteriorating law and order, sharing a news report of an RJD MLA's relative being attacked, saying that the Chief Minister cannot go to sleep without counting 100 to 150 corpses every day.

Yadav tweeted (roughly translated from Hindi), "No one is safe under the adulterated Bihar government. MLAs and their families are being massacred in public. The Chief Minister and his deputies cannot go to sleep until they count 100-150 corpses per day in Bihar". 

He further asked, "Why is the Maharaja (king) of jungle raj silent?" 

'RJD MLA's son-in-law fired at' read the headline of the news article the RJD Chief shared.

This comes two days after Yadav slammed the state government for the death of Rupesh Kumar Singh, a manager with IndiGo airlines who succumbed to his injuries after being shot at by unidentified bike-borne men in Patna's Punaichak area. "Criminals are running the government in Bihar now," Yadav had tweeted.
09:41   WHO team arrives in Wuhan to probe Covid origins
Over a year later, a World Health Organization (WHO) team of 10 international experts that will investigate the origins of COVID-19 pandemic, to arrive in China shortly. That's a visual from Wuhan airport, alongside.

The 10 scientists, who must complete a two-week quarantine in Wuhan before starting their work, arrived for their much-delayed mission to examine the origins of the pandemic.

The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has since billowed out across the world killing nearly two million people so far, infecting tens of millions and eviscerating the global economy.
09:30   Jallikattu begins in Tamil Nadu, Rahul to watch spectacle
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi will arrive in Chennai today to watch a jallikattu event scheduled for the same day at Avaniyapuram. Gandhi, who will arrive by a special aircraft, will drive straight to the venue around noon. After witnessing the event for an hour, he will return to Delhi. 

The traditional bull-taming sport 'Jallikattu' on Thursday began at Avaniyapuram in Madurai with certain restrictions amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

During an event in Avaniyapuram, people in the crowd were seen wearing face masks in the view of COVID-19. Last year in December, the Tamil Nadu government has granted permission to hold Jallikattu with certain restrictions.

As per the directive, the number of players cannot be more than 150 at an event and Covid-19 negative certificates have been made mandatory for players. The number of spectators has also been restricted to 50 per cent of the gathering.
08:53   'It must stop': Trump condemns US Capitol violence
Outgoing United States President Donald Trump on Thursday unequivocally condemned last week's Capitol Hill riot, and asserted there is never a justification or an excuse for such a violence.
"Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement," he said in a video recorded in the Oval Office of the White House.
'Making America Great Again' has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement and upholding the nation's most sacred traditions and values, Trump said.
"The incursion of the US Capitol struck at the very heart of our Republic. It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum. I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," the US President said.
"Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans," he said.
Over the course of the past year, which was made so difficult because of COVID-19, the country has seen political violence spiral out of control, Trump said.
"We have seen too many riots, too many mobs, too many acts of intimidation and destruction. It must stop," he said.
"Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence. No excuses, no exceptions. America is a nation of laws. Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice," Trump said.
"Now, I am asking everyone who has ever believed in our agenda to be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country," he added.

Noting that there have been reports of additional demonstrations being planned in the coming days both here in Washington and across the country, Trump said he has been briefed by the US Secret Service on the potential threats.
Every American deserves to have their voice heard in a respectful and peaceful way. "That is your First Amendment right. But I cannot emphasize that there must be no violence, no law-breaking and no vandalism of any kind. Everyone follow our laws and obey the instructions of law enforcement," he said. -- PTI
08:09   YouTube suspends Trump's channel for 7 days
YouTube has temporarily suspended the account of United States President Donald Trump, preventing all video uploads by the channel for the next seven days, amid concerns over "ongoing potential for violence".
The move follows Twitter and Facebook's permanent suspension of Trump's accounts.
"After careful review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to the Donald J. Trump channel and issued a strike for violating our policies for inciting violence," YouTube said in a statement.
"As a result, in accordance with our long-standing strikes system, the channel is now prevented from uploading new videos or livestreams for a minimum of seven days � which may be extended," it said.
"We are also indefinitely disabling comments under videos on the channel, we've taken similar actions in the past for other cases involving safety concerns," the platform said.
Trump's YouTube channel has 2.68 million subscribers. 
Following the violence that erupted at the US Capitol after Trump's supporters stormed the building on January 6, YouTube removed most of the videos from his rally earlier in the day. -- PTI 
01:34   More troops guard Capitol than Iraq, Afghanistan
The Pentagon is deploying 20,000 National Guards with lethal weapons in Washington, DC, a week ahead of the inauguration, to prevent any violence as experienced on January 6, with intelligence agencies receiving information about move to create violence and chaos across the country.

As many as 15,000 have already been deployed in and around the Capitol Hill and another 5,000 would be added around the January 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

This is now twice the number of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

As US House of Representatives started the impeachment proceedings against Trump, security was tightened in and around the Capitol Hill.

Not only metal detectors were installed, but also eight-feet high metal walls were erected overnight around the Capitol Hill.

There are significantly more US troops currently deployed on Capitol Hill than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, a staggering statistic that underscores just how massive the security presence already is, CNN said reflecting on the gravity of the situation in the country.

I think you can except to see somewhere upwards beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia, acting DC police chief Robert J. Contee III told reporters at a news conference.

Guardsmen, who are responsible for security around the Capitol building complex, were armed with lethal weapons, the Politico reported.

Major news outlets on Wednesday flashed pictures of guardsman inside the US Capitol guarding the temple of democracy, a scenario that was undreamt of before January 6, when thousands of supporters of Trump stormed the building and disrupted the constitutional process of counting and certification of electoral college votes.

Officials are bracing for uncertainty and preparing for the potential of violence in the days ahead, The New York Times reported.

About 16 groups have registered to stage protests and officials said that law enforcement agencies were preparing for the possibility of armed conflict, the daily reported.

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporter that the troops are authorized to do law enforcement if that's requested from the supporting agency.   -- PTI

IMAGE: A member of the National Guard mounts guard near the US Capitol building. Photograph: Brandon Bell/Reuters