Sun, 28 November 2021
Follow Covid norms to avoid lockdown: Maha CM
20:55 Follow Covid norms to avoid lockdown: Maha CM
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that in order to avoid another coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state, people must follow COVID-appropriate behaviour, and asked the authorities to take necessary steps to protect citizens from the new Omicron variant of the virus without waiting for the Centre's directives.
He was speaking during a virtual meeting with divisional commissioners and district collectors held to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state and the precautionary measures that need to be taken in view of the Omicron variant detected in South Africa.
"Do whatever is needed to prevent the new deadly variant of COVID-19. Get started without waiting for central government's directives," Thackeray asked the officials.
"Citizens need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to prevent another lockdown in the state," he said.
During the meeting, Thackeray also asked the authorities to keep a vigil on all travellers landing at the state airports, the chief minister's office said in a statement. -- PTI
20:28 Up to TMC to attend Oppn meeting: Congress
The Congress on Sunday said it is up to the TMC to attend the meeting of opposition party leaders convened by it to discuss key issues to be taken up during the upcoming winter session of Parliament.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it is a party tradition that the leader of opposition calls everyone ahead of every session. However, if anyone feels that by joining hands with the Congress they will be seen as opposing the government, they need not do so.
Chowdhury's remarks came a day after the Trinamool Congress said it "most probably will not attend" the meeting called by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday morning, the first day of the Winter Session.
Kharge has called the meeting to ensure unity and synergy among opposition parties during the session.
"Anyone who wishes to come (to the meeting) can come. If one does not want (to come), it is their wish. There is no compulsion. It is a tradition of Parliament and the Congress goes by that tradition," Chowdhury said.
"It is our duty to call opposition parties to discuss the issues before (the) Parliament (session), but if they feel that by joining hands with us they will be seen as opposing the government, they need not do so. Those who do not want to fight the government may not attend," he said when asked about the TMC's decision.
"It is up to the TMC to attend or not," he added.
Chowdhury said those who are in Opposition are invited for an exchange of views and to articulate the views of the Opposition in Parliament.
In the last session, too, the TMC had participated in such discussions and as a gesture of sobriety and courtesy, it has been invited again this time, he said.
Asked about TMC's stand, Kharge told PTI, "We have talked to Derek O'Brien, who said they have a working committee meeting tomorrow (Monday) and most of their MPs would be busy there."
"Mr Sharad Pawar will also not be attending the opposition meeting tomorrow as he is busy with the wedding of a Shiv Sena MP's daughter," he said.
The TMC and the Congress have been growing distant of late, with the Mamata Banerjee-led party poaching the latter's leaders in several states in the recent past.
The winter session will conclude on December 23. -- PTI
20:16 Reveal 'true' figures of Covid deaths: Cong to govt
The Congress on Sunday said credible and true figures of COVID-19 deaths in the country should come out and it will strive to get a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of those who died of the viral disease.
As part of the party's campaign for exerting pressure on the Centre to grant compensation to the victims of the coronavirus, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi put out a video of the families that suffered during the second wave of the pandemic.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress would raise the issue in both houses of Parliament and seek the grant of a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to all such families from the government.
Gandhi shared a 4.31-minute video on Twitter in which families that lost their dear ones due to Covid in Gujarat alleged that they did not receive any government help at the time.
He also attacked the "Gujarat model", which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has projected as the best in the country.
"The stories of the families of those who died due to Covid are true, their pain and suffering are also true. The government statistics are false. True figures will have to be reported and a compensation of Rs 4 lakh will have to be given," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "4LakhDenaHoga".
He also said in the video that the Gujarat model is discussed a lot, "but the families whom we talked to said they neither got hospital beds, nor oxygen or ventilator".
The Gujarat government says officially, only 10,000 people died due to Covid, but the truth is that over three lakh people have died of the viral disease in the state, the former Congress chief claimed.
"We want that the truth about Covid deaths should come out and those whose kin died due to Covid should get adequate compensation," he said.
Gandhi said the government's job is to help people. When the government was to offer help to them when they were in hospital, it did not do so and now, when they have spent so much on hospital treatment, it is not even coming forward to offer them compensation, he said.
"What kind of a government is this?" the Congress leader asked.
"We wanted to be with you in your time of need and wanted to assure you that we are with you and there is no need to worry," Gandhi was heard telling one of the victims in the video.
"Lakhs of people have lost their father, mother, brothers and sisters. They will not come back. But remember that the Congress will use all its might to get them a compensation of Rs 4 lakh," he said.
20:04 Jio announces up to 21% hike in tariffs from Dec 1
After Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, India's largest mobile operator Reliance Jio on Sunday announced up to 21 per cent hike in its prepaid tariffs from next month.
The tariff hikes entail JioPhone Plan, Unlimited Plans, and data add on, and range between 19.6 per cent and 21.3 per cent.
"In line with its commitment to further strengthen a sustainable telecom industry, where every Indian is empowered with a true digital life, Jio today announced its new unlimited plans. These plans will provide the best value in the industry," Reliance Jio said in a statement.
The statement further said: "Upholding the Jio promise of providing the best-quality service at the lowest price globally, Jio customers will continue to be the biggest beneficiaries".
The new unlimited plans will go-live on December 1, 2021, and can be opted from existing touchpoints and channels.
Airtel and Vodafone Idea last week had announced up to 25 per cent hike in their prepaid plans tariffs to improve financials. -- PTI
19:55 Sec 144 imposed in Mathura after Mahasabha threat to install Lord Krishna idol in mosque
The Mathura district administration has imposed prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 following an announcement by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha that it will install a Lord Krishna idol at the deity's "actual birthplace", which it claims is in a mosque close to a prominent temple in Mathura.
"Nobody will be allowed to disturb the peace and tranquillity in Mathura," District Magistrate Navneet Singh Chahal said.
The clampdown comes even as another right wing organisation, the Narayani Sena, has said it will take out a march from Vishram Ghat to Sri Krishna Janmasthan, demanding the "removal" of the mosque.
Section 144 of the CrPC prohibits the assembly of four or more people in an area.
Police said they have detained Narayani Sena secretary Amit Mishra in Mathura Kotwali, while the outfit claimed its national president Manish Yadav has been detained in Lucknow.
Chahal said he, along with Senior Superintendent of Police Gaurav Grover, reviewed the security around both the religious places, the Katra Keshav Dev temple and the Shahi Idgah.
He said the Mahasabha had requested permission to install the idol at the mosque but it was turned down.
Question of granting permission to any event that may potentially disrupt peace does not arise, Chahal added.
Hindu Mahasabha leader Rajyashri Choudhary had earlier said her organisation will install the idol of Lord Krishna in the Shahi Idgah after a "maha jalabhishek" to "purify" the place on December 6.
The date marks the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the site of a temple-mosque dispute, in 1992.
The Mahasabha's threat to perform the ritual inside the Shahi Idgah comes at a time when the local courts are hearing a series of petitions seeking the "removal" of the 17th century mosque. -- PTI
19:22 China faces 'colossal Covid outbreak' if it opens up: Study
China is expected to continue its much-criticised Zero COVID policy, shutting the country to most of the world as a new study has warned of a "colossal outbreak" with over 6.30 lakh patients per day if it opens up.
According to a report by the Peking University mathematicians, China could face more than 630,000 coronavirus infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance approach and followed other countries by lifting travel bans.
"The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly put an unbearable burden on the medical system," the report said.
The country on Saturday reported 23 new COVID-19 cases, including 20 imported ones as the country appears to have contained a recent spike of infections in Beijing and other cities.
China, where the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan in late 2019 before it turned into a pandemic, has so far reported 98,631 cases and 4,636 deaths, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.
This included 785 patients still receiving treatment.
On Saturday, Chinese top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan warned that the new and more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron, reported in South Africa causing global alarm, may cause more challenges to the work of preventing and controlling the pandemic as the World Health Organization said it carries a large number of mutations.
He said that about 76.8 per cent of China's population have been vaccinated, laying a good basis for the country to reach the target of 80 per cent vaccination to build herd immunity by year end.
One of China's major vaccine producers, Sinovac Biotech, told state-run Global Times that the company is paying close attention to Omicron and have tapped into a global partner network to collect and obtain information and samples specific to the mutant virus.
As the outbreak turned into a pandemic, China shut itself mostly with flight bans to most of the countries, including India, and did not permit thousands of foreign students, including 23,000 from India, studying in Chinese universities despite scathing criticism.
Earlier China had no option but to aim for zero infections because the coronavirus was replicating quickly and the global death rate of about 2 per cent was unacceptable, Zhong told state-run CGTN-TV.
In a report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the four mathematicians from Peking University argued that China was not ready and could not afford to lift entry-exit quarantine measures without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatment. -- PTI
18:53 NDA ally demands repeal of CAA
National People's Party leader Agatha Sangma on Sunday demanded the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at a meeting of National Democratic Alliance allies convened ahead of the Winter session of Parliament.
"Since the farm laws have been repealed and this was primarily keeping in mind the interests of the people, therefore, I requested the government to repeal the CAA keeping in mind the same sort of sentiments of the people from the north-east," she told PTI after the meeting in New Delhi.
There was no response from the government but it has taken note of the demand, Sangma said.
"I made this demand on behalf of my party and people from the north-east," she said. -- PTI
18:50 Kisan mahapanchayat calls for BJP's defeat in polls
The kisan mahapanchayat organised in Mumbai on Sunday called for the defeat of Bharatiya Janata Party in all the upcoming assembly elections and vowed to continue the fight for a law guaranteeing the Minimum Support Price for crops and other demands including the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment bill and the arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
Addressing the mahapanchayat or mega conclave of farmers held under the banner of Samyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai on the eve of the beginning of the Parliament session, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a supporter of the MSP when he was the chief minister of Gujarat and wanted a nationwide law to ensure that farmers' interests were guaranteed.
Tikait accused the Modi government of running away from a debate over the issue.
"The Centre should bring a law to guarantee MSP to farmers. There are several issues related to the agriculture and labour sectors that need attention and we will travel all over the country to highlight them," he said.
Tikait also demanded that financial aid be given to the kin of farmers who died in the year-long protest against the Centre's three agri marketing laws.
The mahapanchayat, held on the occasion of the death anniversary of social reformer Jyotiba Phule, hailed the farmers' victory over the Centre withdrawing the three farm laws and vowed to fight for remaining demands, a press release said.
Peasants, workers, agricultural labourers, women, youth and students of all religions and castes from all over Maharashtra attended this conclave, it said.
"The mahapanchayat celebrated the historic victory over the BJP-RSS government of the year-long farmers' struggle in getting the farm laws repealed, and also declared its determination to fight for the remaining demands. These include a Central law to guarantee the MSP and procurement, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill, removal from the Cabinet and arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra for the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, repeal of the four Labour Codes, an end to selling off the country through privatisation etc.
"It will also fight for getting the prices of diesel, petrol, and cooking gas halved. Other demands included doubling the days of work and wages under MNREGA and extending this scheme to urban areas," the release said.
The mahapanchayat called for the defeat of BJP in all the upcoming assembly elections and local body polls in Maharashtra, the release said.
SKM leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal, Hannan Mollah to name a few, addressed the gathering. Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar, Yudhvir Singh, Tajinder Singh Virk, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Rajaram Singh and others also spoke.
The 'Shaheed Kalash Yatra' of the farmer victims of Lakhimpur Kheri, which kicked off from Pune on October 27 and traversed over 30 districts in Maharashtra, visited the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Chaitya Bhoomi of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Mumbai, the memorial to Shaheed Babu Genu and the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on November 27, the release said. -- PTI
17:36 Omicron: Govt to review resumption of intl flights
The government on Sunday decided to review the decision on resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services as well SOP on testing and surveillance of incoming passengers, especially from countries identified as 'at risk, in the wake of the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant of concern 'Omicron'.
The decisions were taken at an urgent meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and attended by various stakeholders, an official spokesperson said.
The meeting was held a day after a high-level review by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the new COVID-19 variant of concern 'Omicron'.
After a long hiatus of more than 20 months, the government had on November 26 announced the resumption of scheduled international commercial flights from December 15.
The home ministry spokesperson said at the meeting, chaired by the home secretary, the overall global situation in the wake of the Omicron virus was comprehensively reviewed and various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed.
The government will review the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services as per evolving global scenario, the spokesperson said.
The new, potentially more contagious B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation from South Africa on November 24 and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
It was on Friday designated as a "Variant of Concern" by the WHO, which named it Omicron. A variant of concern is the WHO's top category of worrying COVID-19 variants.
"Government to review Standard Operating Procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified 'at risk' category," the spokesperson said in a series of tweets.
The government has also decided that the genomic surveillance for variants will be further strengthened and intensified and Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) will be sensitised for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports and seaports.
"Decision on effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service, to be reviewed, as per evolving global scenario," the spokesperson said.
A closer watch on the emerging pandemic situation within the country will be maintained, the spokesperson said.
The meeting was held with various experts including V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister, senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries. -- PTI
17:33 Obesity rising among children, adults in India; experts raise concern
There has been a rise in obesity among children under five years of age with 33 states and union territories registering a spike in the number of overweight children, according to the latest National Family Health Survey.
Experts attributed the increase in obesity to lack of physical activity and unhealthy food habits.
The number of overweight children increased from 2.1 per cent in NFHS-4 to 3.4 per cent in NFHS-5.
Not just children, obesity among women and men also increased.
The percentage of overweight women rose from 20.6 per cent to 24 per cent while in men the number increased from 18.9 per cent to 22.9 per cent, according to the NFHS-5.
According to the NFHS-5, several states and union territories, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Mizoram, Tripura, Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Ladakh, have registered increase in the percentage of obesity among children below five years of age in comparison to NFHS-4 conducted between 2015 and 2016.
Only Goa, Tamil Nadu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu registered a drop in the number of overweight children under five years of age, the data showed.
According to the survey data, 30 states and union territories registered a rise in obesity among women while 33 states and UTs recorded an increase in obesity among men.
Men and women were counted as obese whose body mass index was found to be over or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 while children's obesity was counted in terms of weight-for-height.
Healthcare experts have attributed the rise in obesity to unhealthy food choices and lack of physical activity among children and even adults.
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director at the Population Foundation of India, said behind the trend of increasing obesity among Indian women, men and children over the past 15 years, confirmed by NFHS-5, are rising incomes, poor dietary habits, and unhealthy life choices.
"Sustained economic growth over the past 15 years has led to a marked increase in people's incomes. We know that obesity among Indians goes up as they become wealthier. In 2015-16, according to NFHS-4, the proportion of overweight or obese men was five per cent among families in the lowest wealth quintile and 33 per cent in the highest wealth quintile," she said.
"Similarly, the proportion of overweight or obese women was six per cent among families in the lowest wealth quintile and 36 per cent in the highest wealth quintile.
However, blaming rising incomes is not fair. Much has also to do with poor eating habits. The consumption of unhealthy foods (popularly termed junk foods) that are high in calories from sugar or fat and contain little dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals is known to increase as families become wealthier," Muttreja said.
Besides these problems, a vast majority of Indians do not seem to recognise the importance of leading a healthy and active life. They tend to lead sedentary lives and lack the motivation to doing exercise of any kind including going for walks.
Sadly, parents do not seem to realise the adverse consequences of these life choice decisions they make on the health and nutritional well-being of children, she added. -- PTI
16:53 More testing, check hotspots: Centre to states on Omicron
ln view of the possible threat that the new COVID-19 variant can pose to the nation, the Centre has asked all states and UTs to focus on intensive containment, active surveillance, enhanced testing, monitoring of hotspots, increased coverage of vaccination and augmentation of health infrastructure.
Listing a series of measures which states and UTs should undertake, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also stressed on rigorous surveillance of international passengers, ensuring prompt dispatch of samples for genome sequencing and strict enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour to effectively manage this Variant of Concern.
As a proactive step, the government has already placed nations, where this VoC has been found, in the category of 'at risk' countries for additional follow-up measures of international travellers coming into lndia from these destinations, he said in a letter dated November 27.
"ln view of the possible threat that this VoC can pose to the nation, it is imperative that the intensive containment, active surveillance, increased coverage of vaccination and Covid- appropriate behaviour must be enforced in the field in a very proactive manner to effectively manage this VoC," Bhushan said.
The health secretary said it is essential that the disease surveillance network in the country is geared up for rigorous follow-up of international travellers from all countries, especially those designated as 'at risk'.
There is already a reporting mechanism for obtaining past travel details of passengers coming through international flights, he said, adding this should be reviewed and the protocol provided by the ministry should be strictly ensured, including testing on disembarkation of travellers coming from 'at risk' countries and sending all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG labs in a prompt manner.
Emphasising that ample testing infrastructure need to be operationalised to tackle any surge due to this mutated virus, Bhushan said it has been observed that the overall testing as well as the proportion of RT-PCR tests have declined in some states.
"ln the absence of sufficient testing, it is extremely difficult to determine the true level of infection spread. States must strengthen the testing infrastructure and strictly implement the testing guidelines," he said.
Bhushan also stressed on continued monitoring of hotspots, the areas where recent cluster of positive cases have emerged.
16:43 ED summons Amazon, Future Group executives in FEMA probe
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned senior executives of Amazon India, including its country head Amit Agarwal, and that of the Future group for questioning in a foreign exchange violation probe linked to the disputed deal between the two conglomerates, official sources said on Sunday.
The executives have been summoned along with documents for the coming week under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), they said.
Amazon India head Agarwal, some other senior officials of the company and those of the Future Group have been called, the sources said.
The investigation is being conducted under various sections of the FEMA after the federal agency received a communication from the Commerce Ministry early this year seeking "necessary action" against e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart pertaining to certain multi-brand retail businesses and an observation made by the Delhi High Court in relation to Amazon.
The HC had said that the attempt made by the US-based firm to control Future Retail through a conflation of agreements it has with an unlisted unit of the Indian company will be considered as violative of the FEMA and foreign direct investment rules.
The executives have been asked to join so that investigation can be taken forward. The agency has gathered details from the documents submitted by the companies earlier and other sources over the last few months, agency sources said.
An Amazon spokesperson said they were examining the ED summons.
"We are in receipt of summons issued by the ED in connection with the Future Group. As we have just received the summons, we are examining it and will respond within the given time frame," the spokesperson said in a statement.
The Kishore Biyani-led Future Group did not respond to the queries over the development.
Amazon and Future Group have been battling it out in courts after the Kishore Biyani-led group in August last year agreed to sell its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,500 crore.
Amazon is objecting to the sell-off plans, accusing Future Group of breaching its 2019 investment pact. Future Coupons was founded in 2008 and is engaged in the business of marketing and distribution of gift cards, loyalty cards, and other rewards programmes to corporate customers. The US-based company had approached the Singapore International Arbitration Centre as well as in Indian courts.
Earlier this month, a promoter entity of Future Retail Ltd had been asked by the ED to provide documents pertaining to the 2019 deal with Amazon. FRL had noted that it has not received any direction to provide any document.
The independent directors of FRL have approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI), urging it to revoke the approval it had given to the Amazon-FCPL deal in 2019, alleging the e-commerce major of making false statements before it. -- PTI
16:42 Stop flights from countries affected by new Covid variant: Kejriwal writes to Modi
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights coming to India from countries affected by a new variant of coronavirus with immediate effect.
"Our country has fought a tough fight against corona for the last one and half years. With great difficulty and due to the selfless service of millions of our Covid warriors, our country has recovered from coronavirus," he wrote in the letter.
In view of the new Covid variant, a number of countries, including the European Union, have suspended travel to the affected regions, he said.
"We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern, recently recognised by the WHO, from entering India... I urge you to stop flights from these regions with immediate effect. Any delay in this regard may prove harmful, if any affected person enters India," the letter read.
As concerns grow over the new COVID variant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for a proactive approach and a review of plans for easing of international travel curbs, and urged people to be more cautious while several states moved quickly to take precautionary measures and remain vigilant.
Modi, who was briefed by officials about the recently discovered variant Omicron during a comprehensive meeting here to review the public health preparedness and COVID-19 vaccination, also highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified 'at risk'.
The Centre on Thursday had asked all states and Union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where the variant of serious public health implications has been reported.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has called a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Monday to discuss steps that need to be taken in view of threat of the new COVID-19 variant, Kejriwal had said on Friday. -- PTI
15:58 Omicron variant may bypass vaccines: AIIMS chief
The new Omicron variant of coronavirus has reportedly got over 30 mutations in the spike protein region giving it the potential to develop a immunoescape mechanism, and thus the efficacy of vaccines against it needs to be evaluated critically, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guelria has said.
The presence of spike protein facilitates a virus' entry into the host cell and is responsible for making it transmissible and causing infection.
"The new variant of coronavirus reportedly has got more than 30 mutations at the spike protein region and therefore has the potential of developing immunoescape mechanisms. As most vaccines (work by) forming antibodies against the spike protein, so many mutations at the spike protein region may lead to a decreased efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines," AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guelria told PTI.
In such a scenario, the efficacy of vaccines including those in use in India needs to be evaluated "critically", he said.
The future course of action will depend on what more data on its transmissibility, virulence and immunoescpae shows, he said.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia INSACOG is closely tracking the new variant of COVID-19 called B.1.1.529 and its presence has not been detected yet in the country, officials have said.
Dr Guleria emphasised the need to be very vigilant and having aggressive surveillance both for international travellers and in the region where there is a sudden increase in the number of cases.
"Also, we must ask everyone to religiously follow Coivd-appropriate behaviour and not let their guards down. Also, it has to be ensured that people get both the doses of vaccine and those who have not yet taken the jab are encouraged to come forward to take it," he said.
15:28 UPTET exam cancelled following paper leak, 23 arrested
The Uttar Pradesh Teachers Eligibility Test or UPTET examination scheduled to be held on Sunday has been cancelled following the leakage of its question paper, Additional Director General Law and Order Prashant Kumar announced shortly before the exam was to begin.
More than 19.99 lakh candidates were to appear for the UPTET.
Kumar told reporters here that the Special Task Force arrested as many as 23 persons last night using technical and other intelligence from different cities of UP.
This includes four from Lucknow, 13 from Prayagraj, three by the Meerut STF and one from Kaushambi district.
"The photocopy of the question paper was obtained from them, which was shared with the government. And it came to light that it is the same set of question papers as that of the examination," Kumar said.
"Immediately it was decided by the government that these exams will be cancelled, and the examinations will be held in the coming one month.
"All the expenses in this examination will be borne by the government. The candidates will not have to pay the fees or fill the examination form. Apart from this, it was decided that UPSRTC buses will be used to send back the candidates to their respective home destinations free of cost by using their admit cards," he added.
The officer said the matter will be probed by the UP STF, and persons or organisations involved in the leak will not be spared. -- PTI
15:21 Over 30% women from 14 states, UT justify beating by husbands: NFHS
Over 30 per cent women from 14 of the 18 states and Union Territories that were surveyed justify men beating their wives under certain circumstances, while lesser percentage of men rationalised such behaviour, according to the recent National Family Health Survey.
According to NHFS-5, over 75 per cent women justified men beating their wives in three states -- Telangana (84 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (84 per cent) and Karnataka (77 per cent).
Manipur (66 per cent), Kerala (52 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (49 per cent), Maharashtra (44 per cent) and West Bengal (42 per cent) were the other states and Union Territory where a large number of women justified men beating their wives.
To a question by the NFHS, "In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife...?", over 30 per cent women from as many as 14 states and Union Territories said, "yes".
The survey put forward the probable circumstances under which a husband beats his wife: if he suspects her of being unfaithful; if she disrespects in-laws; if she argues with him; if she refuses to have sex with him; if she goes out without informing him; if she neglects the house or the children; if she doesn't cook good food.
The most common reasons given by the respondents to justify beating were neglecting the house or children and showing disrespect to in-laws.
Of the 18 states, women respondents in 13 -- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Gujarat, Nagaland, Goa, Bihar, Karnataka, Assam, Maharashtra, Telangana, Nagaland and West Bengal -- cited 'disrespect to in-laws' as the main reason to justify beating.
The lowest population of women that justified beating by husbands was in Himachal Pradesh (14.8 per cent).
Among men, 81.9 per cent respondents from Karnataka said such behaviour is justified as against 14.2 per cent in Himachal Pradesh.
Ushasree, director of 'Roshni', a Hyderabad-based NGO which provides counselling and other services to those in emotional distress, said her organisation has seen a rise in sexual abuse and domestic violence during COVID-19.
"Some men appear to vent their frustration, caused by loss of income and other reasons due to the pandemic, on their family members," she said.
"There is an increase in the number of calls we received because friction has grown among family members as they stay confined within four walls round-the-clock due to the pandemic," she said.
Though the number of calls is on the decline of late, women are generally facing domestic violence, she said.
Roshni is a member of Befrienders Worldwide, an international organisation. It has two helpline numbers, 040-6620 2001 and 040-6620 2000, she said.
In Telangana, where as much as 84 per cent women justified beating by their husbands, the government runs various schemes, some with the support of the central government, for protection and empowerment of women.
The schemes include Sakhi - One Stop Centre, Women Helpline - 181, Swadhar Greh and Ujjwala Homes, Scheme for Adolescent Girls and Mahila Shakti Kendras, official sources said.
Amita Pitre, lead specialist, Gender Justice: Oxfam India, said the organisation's work in five states shows that harmful gender social norms help justify violence against women and girls.
"They are the tools of patriarchy and women are as much a part of the patriarchal society as men. In fact, women are trained in society to be strict guardians of these norms, especially for daughters and daughters-in-laws, and that is one of the most common ways they are perpetuated," Pitre told PTI.
14:37 BJP on course to massive win in Tripura civic polls
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was on Sunday set to sweep the civic body elections in Tripura where counting of votes was underway in 222 seats of Agartala Municipal Corporation and 13 municipal bodies, officials said.
Officials of the State Election Commission said the BJP has established an absolute majority in the 51-member Agartala Municipal Corporation winning 37 seats.
Counting is underway in others.
The saffron party has clinched the Khowai Municipal council, Kumarghat Municipal Council, Sabroom Nagar Panchayat and Amarpur Nagar Panchayat.
It is way ahead of its rivals in Dharmapur and Ambassa municipalities, Panisagar, Jirania and Sonapura Nagar Panchayats, besides Kailashahar, Teliamura, Melaghar and Belonia Municipal Councils.
The BJP had fielded candidates for all the 334 seats in the state where its nominees won in 112 places uncontested.
Reacting to the impressive performance by his party in the elections, BJP vice president Dilip Ghosh said in Kolkata the results of Tripura civic polls have exposed the "hollowness" of TMC's claims of having made inroads into the northeastern state. He said people there have faith in the saffron party.
Describing TMC workers campaigning in Tripura as "hired people", Ghosh told reporters his party shares a "strong bond" with the residents of that state. -- PTI
14:30 Gautam Gambhir receives another death threat; third in 6 days
Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gautam Gambhir on Sunday received another death threat allegedly from 'ISIS Kashmir', the third in six days, police said.
"Your Delhi Police and IPS Shweta (DCP) cannot uproot anything. Our spies are also present in the police. All the information is being received about you," the e-mail, which Gambhir received from email@example.com at 1.37 am, read.
A senior police officer said they had received the content of the e-mail and were investigating the matter.
The cricketer-turned-politician had received death threats on Tuesday and Wednesday.
According to a police complaint filed by Gaurav Arora, Gambhir's personal secretary, the MP received the first death threat on his official e-mail ID at 9.32 pm on Tuesday. The e-mail, allegedly from ISIS Kashmir, read, "We are going to kill you and your family."
"On receiving the complaint, the district police increased (Gambhir's) personal security as well as the security of his residence in Rajinder Nagar area. The police are currently inquiring into the source of the complaint," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan had said.
Soon, the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit of the Special Cell wrote to Google seeking information on the account handlers and the registered e-mail ID through which the alleged mails were sent.
Police said the DCP was informed over a phone call about the second death threat from the same e-mail ID at 2.32 pm on Wednesday.
According to the complainant, the second e-mail was attached with a video of Gambhir's residence.
"We intended to kill you, but you survived yesterday. If you love the life of your family, stay away from politics and Kashmir issue," the second e-mail read. -- PTI
14:29 B'luru cops deny permission to comic Munawar Faruqui's show
The Bengaluru police have denied permission to Munawar Faruqui's stand-up comedy show in the city on Sunday amid protest by the Hindu right wing outfits who alleged that the artist had hurt the Hindu sentiments in one of his shows.
"Yes, we have denied him permission. He will not perform any public show today," a senior police officer told PTI on condition of anonymity.
According to information, Faruqui had planned a performance Dongri To Nowhere on Sunday evening. The show was organised in Bengaluru by Vishal Dhuria and Siddharth Das of New Delhi-based Curtain Calls Event.
However, various right wing organisations including Sriram Sena and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, had lodged a complaint with the Bengaluru city police Commissioner against the comedian charging him of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus by allegedly insulting Hindu Gods.
The inspector of the Ashokanagar police station in the city under whose jurisdiction the Good Shepherd Auditorium falls wrote a letter to the organisers on Saturday to call off the event as the comedian is a controversial figure.
"It is learnt that Munawar Faruqui is a controversial figure..... Many states have banned his comedy shows. It is learnt that a case has been registered against him in the Tukoji police station in Indore of Madhya Pradesh," the inspector said in his letter.
He also stated that many organisations are opposing his show, which may cause chaos, disturb peace and harmony and create a law and order problem.
"Therefore, it is suggested that you should cancel Faruqui's stand-up comedy show," the letter said. -- PTI
13:58 New Covid variant: Israel bars tourists, reimposes quarantine rules
Israel is banning the entry of foreigners for two weeks to prevent the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus strain, local media reports said on Sunday.
Israel has decided to bar tourists, reinstate quarantine rules to contain the Omicron, The Times of Israel reported. The decision to close the borders for 14 days was made at a corona cabinet meeting on Saturday night.
"We are now in a space of uncertainty. It's not an easy space to be in, but we are all determined to maintain our tremendous achievement from the Delta - an open Israel with a functioning economy and an open education system, that is the top priority. To do this, we will need very close supervision of the state's borders and proceed with caution and with a minimum of risks," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted.
The latest COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa has been given the Greek name 'Omicron', and labeled as a variant of concern by the United Nations health agency experts due to its large number of mutations and possible faster rate of infection.
Preliminary evidence also suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant of concern, as compared to other strains, such as Delta, according to the UN World Health Organization.
13:50 Opposition 'completely directionless' in 2 years of MVA govt: Sena
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday claimed that the two years of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government saw a "completely directionless opposition", which has not been able to dislodge the three-party ruling alliance led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, but is still giving new dates for toppling it.
In his weekly column Rokhthok in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana on the completion of Thackeray's two years in office, Raut said falsehood doesn't always succeed in politics.
In the last two years, Thackeray stood firm despite all efforts to "malign" his government, the Rajya Sabha member said.
Taunting the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, he said the early morning swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister in November 2019 (before the formation of the MVA government) also completes two years.
''Even though the opposition has not been able to topple the government, it still gives new dates of dislodging the MVA. This is a joke," said Raut, who is the executive editor of Saamana.
The Shiv Sena snapped ties with the BJP after the 2019 state assembly polls over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post.
Subsequently, Fadnavis was sworn in as the chief minister in a hush hush ceremony at the Raj Bhavan with Nationalist congress Party leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy.
After the four-day-old Fadnavis government collapsed, the Shiv Sena formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with ideological rivals NCP and the Congress as its partners.
Raut said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is currently in hospital (after undergoing spine surgery earlier this month) and his health is fine, but the "opposition has become directionless".
''The opposition left no stone unturned to corner him. Thackeray braved all below the belt attacks and still stood firm,'' he said.
Raut further said Shiv Sena leaders were being threatened with action by the Enforcement Directorate, while those close to the Pawars (of the NCP) were raided by the Income Tax department.
The BJP also instigated workers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, who are currently on strike, and the riots in Amravati, Raut alleged.
''What the BJP is doing is not politics, but it is conspiring out of desperation," he claimed.
Raut said Thackeray has a clean image and is popular among people.
''(NCP chief) Sharad Pawar, (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have given Thackeray a free hand and there is no interference," he said, adding that the BJP could not break even a single MLA from the ruling alliance.
He said the BJP won the Pandharpur assembly bypoll (earlier this year) due to NCP's "mistake", but the opposition party could not breach the impregnable wall put up by (Congress leader) Ashok Chavan in the Deglur assembly bypoll.
The Shiv Sena won the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha bypoll, he said,while noting that the BJP "did not do well" in the recent byelections in 13 states.
In satirical comments, Raut also listed the opposition BJP's ''achievements'', saying it levelled baseless allegations of corruption and irregularities, gave political colour to the case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death and "maligned" the state government and the Thackeray family, resulting in the unnecessary entry of the CBI into the case (of Rajput's death). -- PTI
12:53 Military build-up at LAC a concern: India to China
With China investing heavily in upgrading military infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control, India expressed concerns over the buildup by the People's Liberation Army opposite the eastern Ladakh sector.
During the talks held recently between the two countries, the Indian side expressed concerns over the buildup by the Chinese Army in areas near the Eastern Ladakh sector, sources told ANI.
Sources said there are reasons for concern for the Indian side as the Chinese are building new highways and connecting roads, constructing new habitats and settlements near the Line of Actual Control and have deployed heavy weaponry including missile regiments on their side.
Sources said the military infrastructure upgrade has been very significant as they are widening highways and new airstrips are being constructed apart from the main bases in Kashgar, Gar Gunsa and Hotan.
A major wide highway is also being developed which will further improve the connectivity of the Chinese military positions on the LAC with the hinterland, they said.
Sources said the Chinese military has also focused on building infrastructure for its air force and army to keep them hidden from the American and other satellites also in the depth areas.
The attempts of recruiting the Tibetans and basing them right at the border posts along with the mainland Han troops are also gaining speed as they want to use the sons of the soil to man the highly difficult terrain where survival has been very tough for the mainland Chinese troops.
Sources said if compared with winters last year, the Chinese are much better prepared in terms of the shelters, road connectivity and acclimatisation.
Rockets and missile regiments have been deployed in rear areas controlled by the PLA in Tibet Autonomous Region, the sources said.
The deployment of drones from the Chinese has gone up significantly as a large number of them have been deployed for surveillance in the sector, they said. -- ANI
Fireworks in a theatre during 'Antim' screening
12:46 Don't burst crackers inside cinema halls: Salman to fans
Sharing a video of fireworks being set off during the theatrical screening of his latest film Antim: The Final Truth, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has urged his fans to steer clear of such activities that can cause a "huge fire hazard".
Khan took to Instagram on Saturday night to appeal to his ardent followers to not put anyone's life in danger.
"Request my fans to not take fire crackers inside the auditorium as it could prove to be a huge fire hazard thereby endangering your lives and also others (sic)" the 55-year-old actor wrote in the caption of the clip he posted on Saturday night.
Khan also asked the theatre owners to not allow firecrackers inside the auditorium.
"My request to theatre owners to not allow fire crackers to be taken inside the cinema hall and security should stop them from doing so at entry point (sic)" he said.
"Enjoy the film by all means but please please avoid this is my request to all my fans... thank u (sic)" the actor added.
Antim is an action thriller directed by Mahesh Manjrekar and also stars Aayush Sharma, Mahima Makwana and Sachin Khedekar.
Remake of the 2018 hit Marathi crime drama Mulshi Pattern, Antim is billed as a tale of two powerful men with polar opposite ideologies; one a cop and the other a gangster.
The film released theatrically on November 26. -- PTI
12:39 India leading the world in field of start-ups: Modi
Asserting that this is an era of start-ups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India is leading the world in this field with more than 70 start-ups having crossed the valuation of USD 1 billion.
In his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio broadcast, the prime minister said that in any country having a large population of youth, three things -- ideas and innovation, passion to take risks and the 'can do' spirit-- matter a lot.
When these three things come together, unprecedented results are achieved and miracles happen, he said.
"These days we hear all around us, start-up, start-up, start-up. It is true that this is the era of start-ups and it is also true that in the field of start-ups, in a way, India is leading the world," Modi said.
He noted year after year start-ups are getting record investments and this sector is growing at a fast pace.
"Even in small cities of the country, the reach of start-ups has increased. Nowadays the word unicorn is much in discussion. Unicorn is a start-up whose valuation is one billion dollars, around Rs 7,000 crore," Modi said.
"Till the year 2015, there used to be nine to ten unicorns in the country, you will be very happy to know that now India is flying high in the world of unicorns as well. According to a report, a big change has come this year and in just 10 months, a unicorn was made in India every 10 days," he said.
This is a big thing because the youth of the country achieved this success in the midst of the Covid pandemic, he said.
"Today, there are more than 70 unicorns in India, that is, more than 70 start-ups have crossed the valuation of USD 1 billion," Modi said.
In his broadcast, the prime minister also noted that in the month of December, Navy Day and Armed Forces Flag Day are celebrated, and on December 16, it will be the Golden Jubilee year of the victory in the 1971 War.
"On all these occasions I remember our armed forces, our soldiers, especially the brave mothers who gave birth to these warriors," he said. -- PTI
12:10 TMC to skip Oppn meet called by Congress
The Trinamool Congress will not attend the meeting of opposition floor leaders called by Mallikarjun Kharge on November 29 to "create a consensus" over the issues to be raised in the winter session of the Parliament beginning from Monday.
"The TMC will not attend the meeting of opposition floor leaders called by Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge tomorrow, but definitely will attend both the meetings one chaired by the Prime Minister and another by the Rajya Sabha Chairman," a TMC leader informed.
"Will definitely bring forth several issues in the upcoming session," said the leader added.
Notably, several Congress leaders switched to the TMC in recent days.
The winter session will commence on November 29 and is scheduled to conclude on December 23. -- ANI
11:46 All-party meeting underway ahead of winter session
An all-party meeting called by Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi began on Sunday ahead of the winter session of Parliament.
Leaders of various political parties including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury arrived at the Parliament for the all-party meeting.
The BJP-led government has a heavy agenda for the winter session with its legislative business including 26 new bills.
The government has indicated that the bill to repeal three farm laws will be taken up on priority.
The bill was cleared by the union cabinet earlier this week.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur had told reporters after the meeting that it will be the government's priority to get the three farm laws repealed in the winter session of parliament.
The government's agenda also includes the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021.
The winter session will commence on November 29 and is scheduled to conclude on December 23.
11:18 Cong vs Cong: Manish Tewari hits back at Adhir
Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari on Sunday shared screenshots of his Twitter timeline clarifying that he had criticised the government over the China issue.
The clarification came after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's jibe that Tewari should focus on China and its recent activities on the border instead of the Mumbai 26/11 attacks.
'Dear Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury dada, the screenshots of the tweets addressed to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh below hope address your concern and criticism also.
'The continued incursions by China and the response of NDA/ BJP Government to them do form a substantial part of my book,' Tewari tweeted.
Chowdhury had earlier slammed Tewari for criticising the then United Progressive Alliance government for its response to the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike in his upcoming book 10 Flash Points; 20 Years - National Security Situations that Impacted India.
Chowdhury said, 'instead of the 26/11 attacks, Tewari should focus on China and its recent activities along the country's border'.
"He (Manish Tewari) should be focusing more on China that has captured many of our areas in Ladakh and built villages in Arunachal Pradesh," Chowdhury said to ANI.
An expert from Tewari's upcoming book reads: 'For a state that has no compunctions in brutally slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, restraint is not a sign of strength; it is perceived as a symbol of weakness.
'There comes a time when actions must speak louder than words. 26/11 was one such time when it just should have been done.'
'It, therefore, is my considered opinion that India should have actioned a kinetic response in the days following India's 9/11,' it further read.
Citing Tewari's book, the Baharatiya Janata Party had earlier launched an attack on Congress and stated that the excerpts from the publication show that the then UPA government was insensitive, useless and was even not concerned about national security.
Mumbai had come to a standstill on November 26, 2008, when 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists who entered the city via sea route from Pakistan carried out a series of coordinated shootings and bombings that injured over 300 and claimed the lives of 166 people in India's financial capital.
The attacks took place at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, Cama Hospital, Nariman House business and residential complex, Leopold Cafe, Taj Hotel and Tower and the Oberoi-Trident Hotel. -- ANI
10:50 Heavy rain, waterlogging in several TN districts
Due to continuous and heavy rainfall, waterlogging has been reported from several districts of Tamil Nadu.
While speaking to ANI, a local, said, "We face a lot of difficulties due to continuous rain. It has also affected transport. Several areas are submerged in floodwater due to torrential rains."
"We are finding difficulties in getting food as we are not able to move out. The floodwater has entered in our homes," said another local.
State revenue and disaster management minister K K S S R Ramachandran had informed a total of eight people have died due to heavy rainfall in the state.
Earlier, on Saturday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin met Governor RN Ravi at Raj Bhawan in Chennai.
He briefed the Governor about the rain situation and ongoing relief and restoration work in the rain-affected areas in the state. -- ANI
IMAGE: A woman throws water out of her flooded house following heavy rainfall in Nagapattinam. Photograph: ANI Photo
09:49 MP man gets 'Taj Mahal' built as gift for wife
In a unique gesture, a Burhanpur man has built a house that is a replica of the famed Taj Mahal and gifted it to his wife.
While speaking to ANI, Anand Prakash Chouksey, said, "This 4-bedroom house symbolises the monument of love and it's for my wife. There is peace and positivity in this house. We have a meditation room in our home, too."
The house features four bedrooms, one kitchen, a library and a meditation room.
"As this Taj Mahal is located in our school premises, visitors are allowed in the school hour. I wish that this becomes a centre of tourism," added Anand Chouksey.
Praveen Chouksey, the consultant engineer who built the house said, "It took us 2.5 years to complete this. We visited Agra and got some technical measurements and photographs. We also got the dimensions from the internet and especially the 360-degree view.
"The proportions were done then we started making the assignments. We have hired a team for carving from the Bengal. For interior marble making, we have hired artisans from Indore and Surat."
Anand Chouksey's son, Kabir Chouksey, said, "Creativity is the most important thing. The major challenge was the making of the main arches. Creativity should be respected. The youth of Burhanpur is very proud." -- ANI
09:41 Counting begins for Tripura civic polls
Counting of votes for over 200 seats in the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) and other civic bodies in Tripura, where elections were held earlier amid allegations of rigging and attacks on political rivals, began on Sunday.
An official of the State Election Commission said the counting started in 13 centres in all the eight districts of the state where a three-tier security is in place.
The run-up to the polls, which should have been a humdrum affair, became a cause celebre after it was marred by violence, arrests, sit-ins in far-away Delhi and a Supreme Court intervention asking officials to ensure peaceful polling.
The polling itself on Thursday was accompanied by charges of vote malpractices by the Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist, both of whom had demanded re-polling in various municipalities.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party however, had dismissed these charges.
Apart from normal security arrangements, Tripura State Rifles and central armed police force have also been deployed to maintain law and order in areas adjoining counting centres, Assistant Inspector General of Police Subrata Chakrabarty said on Saturday.
There are 334 seats in urban local bodies -- the AMC, 13 Municipal Councils and six Nagar Panchayats -- in the state.
The ruling BJP has fielded candidates in all the seats and has won 112 of them uncontested.
In the remaining 222 seats, as many as 785 contestants are in the fray.
The electoral battle saw the ruling BJP locked in battle with the Trinamool Congress which is foraying into the Northeast and elsewhere to establish itself as a national party, and with the CPI-M which the saffron party had dethroned from power in this state some years ago.
The TMC which alleged vote rigging and intimidation in elections held on Thursday, had demanded countermanding of the entire election while the CPI-M had sought fresh elections in five municipal bodies including the AMC.
Both parties had claimed that the authorities remained silent spectators as BJP supporters attacked political rivals and rigged the election.
The saffron party however stoutly denied the charges.
Altogether 81.54 per cent of over 4.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the election. -- PTI
09:13 Facebook execs may depose before Parl panel tomorrow
Top executives of Facebook India are expected to depose before a parliamentary panel chaired by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is scheduled to meet on Monday to hear the views of the representatives of Facebook India on the subject of safeguarding citizens' rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms, according to a notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The meeting will also deliberate on the security of women in the digital space, especially on social media.
Top officials of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will also depose before the panel on the same issue, according to the notice.
The panel has held several meetings on the subject and had summoned top executives of various social media platforms. -- PTI
08:38 Germany reports 1st 2 cases of Omicron variant
Germany on Saturday (local time) reported the first two cases of the new 'Omicron' variant of COVID-19.
As reported by the Sputnik news agency, both cases have been reported in Munich.
Both the persons who contracted the new strain have returned from the South African Republic.
Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom had also reported the first two cases of the Omicron variant.
This comes a day after the first case of the variant -- which scientists suspect could be more contagious -- was recorded in Europe, RT reported.
WHO identified the new South African strain as one of concern, as it is reported to carry a high number of mutations -- 32 -- which possibly makes it more transmissible and dangerous.
Following the reports about the new variant, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Israel, Australia and other countries have restricted travel from several southern African nations over the health concerns. -- ANI
IMAGE: A medic takes swab sample of a man at a drive through rapid coronavirus disease test centre in Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, on November 27, 2021. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters