Tue, 30 November 2021
Case against Akhilesh over defamatory FB post

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23:43   Case against Akhilesh over defamatory FB post
A case was registered against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and 49 others on the order of a court in Kannauj district of Uttar Pradesh over an alleged defamatory post against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, police said on Tuesday.

A senior district police official, however, said, "During the course of investigation Zuckerberg's name was dropped, while investigation is being carried out against the administrator of the (Facebook) page."

Chief Judicial Magistrate Dharamveer Singh on Monday directed the police to lodge the case on the complaint of Amit Kumar, a resident of Sarahati village.

Following the court order, a case was registered at Thatia police station, SHO Prayag Narayan Bajpayee said.

In his application before the court, Amit Kumar had said that on the Facebook page by the name of 'Bua Babua', an attempt to tarnish the image of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav was made.

The term "Bua Babua" was coined when BSP chief Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav had entered into an alliance in the 2019 parliamentary election.

Amit Kumar said that an application was sent to the Superintendent of Police through a registered post on May 25, but no action was taken, following which he moved the court and urged that a case be registered.
22:07   FIR filed against Subrata Roy for cheating
An FIR has been registered against Sahara chief Subrata Roy and 17 of his family members and group officials on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy at a police station in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, police said on Tuesday.

The case was registered Kakadeo police station on Sunday against Subrata Roy, his wife Swapna Roy, sons Sushanto Rai and Shimanto Rai, daughters-in-law Chandni Roy and Richa, brother J B Roy, and senior members of the group.

Others named in the FIR are company directors Jitendra Kumar Varshney, Karunesh Awasthi, Anil Kumar Pandey, Rana Jia, D K Srivastava, Romi Dutta, Pradeep Srivastava, Omprakash Srivastava and Abdul Dabir and auditors Pawan Kapoor and R N Khanna.

Kanpur Commissioner of Police Asim Arun confirmed the registration of the FIR against Subrata Roy and others.

The FIR alleged the accused launched several companies and societies and duped over 25 lakh people across the country, including over one lakh residents of Kanpur, totalling over Rs 25 lakh crore.

Ajay Tandon, lawyer and national President of Mandar Bhartiya Antarrashtriya, who lodged the complaint on the request of the victims, said the money was deposited through the companies of the accused persons in the name of investment and housing in Kanpur and other parts of the country.

The FIR has been registered under sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code related to cheating and forgery.
21:59   Kartarpur photoshoot: India summons Pak diplomat
India on Tuesday summoned the Charge d'Affaires at the Pakistan High Commission and conveyed its deep concern over a Pakistani model's photoshoot at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, describing it as a "desecration" of the sanctity of the holy place.

Calling it a "reprehensible" incident, India said it expects Pakistani authorities to "sincerely investigate" the matter and take action against those involved.

Model Sauleha's "bareheaded" photoshoot for a Pakistani clothing brand at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib set the social media abuzz on Monday as many people accused her of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikh community.

The model later deleted her photos from her Instagram page and posted an apology.

"Pakistani Charge d'Affaires was summoned today to convey our deep concern at the incident of desecration of the sanctity of Gurudwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur by a Pakistani model and clothing brand," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Bagchi was responding to a media query on the matter.

The MEA spokesperson said it was conveyed to the Pakistani diplomat that this "reprehensible" incident has deeply hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community in India and worldwide.

"Such continued incidents of desecration and disrespect of places of religious worship of the minority communities in Pakistan highlight the lack of respect for the faith of these communities," he said.

"It was further conveyed that we expect Pakistani authorities to sincerely investigate this matter and take action against those involved," Bagchi added.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district which is about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur.

It is the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev, who had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.

In November 2019, India and Pakistan threw open the Kartarpur corridor linking Dera Baba Sahib in Gurdaspur with the Gurdwara in Kartarpur in a historic people-to-people initiative.
Representational pic
Representational pic
21:48   Dalit girl kidnapped from Mathura, raped in Delhi for resisting prostitution bid
A minor Dalit girl from here was allegedly kidnapped and raped repeatedly in Delhi for resisting prostitution bid, police said.

The victim, who was later rescued by her mother, is a resident of a colony falling under Kosikalan Police Station of the district.

"She was repeatedly raped by a youth in Delhi," an FIR filed by the mother of the girl said.

SP (rural) Srish Chandra said while two teams have been formed to nab the offenders, the allegation of delay in registering an FIR and other charges are being probed.

According to the FIR, the minor was beaten and forced in the prostitution in Delhi. The victim was also raped repeatedly by a youth whenever she resisted her captors' prostitution bid, the FIR added.

The victim, somehow managed to communicate her whereabouts to her mother, who succeeded in getting her released from the clutches of captors, the FIR further claimed.

It is alleged that her FIR under various sections of the IPC, SC/ST Act and POCSO Act was registered against three persons only after the direction of the district police chief.

It is also alleged that the girl was made to sit in a police station for five days.

According to police, while two persons had taken her to Delhi, the girl was handed over to third afterwards.

The medical examination of the girl has been conducted and her statement has been recorded, police added. 
Neha Shree/Instagram
Neha Shree/Instagram
21:24   Bhojpuri actress' hacking plea: HC seeks response from Delhi police, FB
The Delhi High Court Tuesday sought a response from the Delhi Police and Facebook on a Bhojpuri actress' plea seeking registration of FIR concerning the hacking of her social media page and account as well as the subsequent posting of obscene and illegal content.

Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notice on the petition by Neha Shree who also sought a direction to the social media platform to not only delete the objectionable content but also to immediately restore her access to the page and account.

In the petition, the actress has stated that last month, she was removed as the 'admin' of 'Neha Shree Facebook page' and was denied access to her account.

She has submitted that she is a "leading actress in Bhojpuri and Rajasthani film industry" and has been in the profession since her debut in the year 2011.

The petition has informed that she was shattered to see immoral and obscene pictures/videos being posted from her page which is open to public viewing by crores of people.

It claimed that she wrote numerous emails to Facebook to report her grievance, but no action was taken.

The hacker of the Facebook account and page of the petitioner is publishing nudity, explicit and illegal material though she has no access to the control of the Facebook Page. She has been reporting against such illegal material on the Facebook Page but at no point of time any action was taken by Respondent no. 3 (Facebook), she said.

Even the police have not taken any action on the complaint of the petitioner, the petition claimed.

That the petitioner has lost her reputation due to hacking of her Facebook account and page and respondents who are responsible for taking against the illegal action has failed to take any action, it alleged.

The matter would be heard next in March.
21:15   Covishield's efficacy in fully vaxed at 63%: Study
The vaccine effectiveness of Covishield against COVID-19 infection in fully vaccinated individuals was found to be 63 per cent between April and May when the second wave was at its peak in India, according to a new study.

It was published in 'The Lancet Infectious Diseases' journal and it included a comparison between 2,379 cases of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and 1,981 controls.

The vaccine's effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated individuals was found to be 63 per cent.

The Science and Technology Ministry shared the study in an official statement.

"More importantly, the scientists also observed that the spike-specific T-cell responses were conserved against both the delta variant and wild-type SARS-CoV-2. Such cellular immune protection might compensate for waning humoral immunity against the virus variants and prevent moderate-to-severe disease and need for hospitalisation," the study said.

The ministry said this study provides comprehensive data on the real-world vaccine effectiveness and immunological response to vaccination which should help guide policy.

A multi-institutional team of Indian researchers led by Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) evaluated the real-world vaccine effectiveness of Covishield during the SARS-CoV-2 infection surge between April and May, 2021, in India.

They also assessed neutralising activity and cellular immune responses against the variants in healthy vaccinated persons to understand the mechanisms of protection.
20:20   Stricter norms for int'l pax from Tuesday midnight
The strict norms for arriving international passengers, especially from 'at-risk' countries, will come into effect from Tuesday midnight and authorities are stepping their vigil for effective surveillance amid mounting concerns over the emergence of the COVID variant Omicron.

While no cases of Omicron have been reported so far in India, the Union government has asked states and Union Territories to ensure RT-PCR tests for travellers coming from 'at-risk' countries on the first day of arrival and retesting on the eighth day.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday advised states not to let their guards down and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings.

Under the new norms, RT-PCR tests are mandatory for passengers arriving from 'at-risk' countries and they will be allowed to leave the airport only after the test results come. Also, randomly five per cent of the passengers arriving in flights from other countries will be subject to the test.

As the authorities ready to implement the new norms from Tuesday midnight, the Union health ministry has advised international passengers from 'at-risk' countries to prepare to wait at the airports till the report of the RT-PCR test has come and not book connecting flights beforehand.

Further, the ministry has asked states to send all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG Labs (mapped with states) promptly.

International airports in the national capital and other parts of the country have made preparations for implementation of the new norms.

Officials on Tuesday said the Delhi international airport has made arrangements to accommodate at the airport up to 1,500 international passengers at a time, including those coming from from 'at-risk' countries, till results of their RT-PCR tests taken after arrival are declared.

Each passenger who will undergo the RT-PCR test will be charged around Rs 1,700. The amount includes charges for the RT-PCR test, and food and water during their stay at the airport till the test results come, they said.

An Airports Authority of India (AAI) spokesperson said all AAI airports that have international operations are "fully prepared" to implement the guidelines issued by the Union government in coordination with state authorities.

The spokesperson also said that the top management of the AAI is also monitoring the situation.

State-owned AAI is involved in operations of 34 international airports, including customs airports.

A spokesperson for the Bengaluru international airport said, "We are working with all the airlines and other stakeholders to implement the new procedures and minimise inconvenience to passengers."

As per updated list on November 26, the countries designated as 'at-risk' include European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Israel and Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with States/UTs to review COVID public health response measures and preparedness amid concerns over Omicron.

Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal, Secretary (Health Research) & DG ICMR Balram Bhargava, NCDC Director Sujeet K Singh, State Health Secretaries and State Airport Public Health Officials (APHOs), among others, participated in the meeting. 
Bhaarat Today/Youtube
Bhaarat Today/Youtube
19:56   Veteran Telugu film lyricist 'Sirivennela' Sitarama Sastry no more
Veteran Telugu film lyricist 'Sirivennela' Sitarama Sastry, a recipient of the Padma Shri and numerous other awards, died due to lung cancer-related complications at a private hospital here on Tuesday.

He was 66.

Sastry was admitted to the hospital on November 24 with pneumonia and was in the Intensive Care Unit. He was put on ECMO to support his lungs with medical professionals closely observing his condition, the hospital said in a release.

Sastry, who has left an indelible impression on Telugu speaking people with his magnificent songs in films like 'Sirivennela', 'Swarna Kamalam', 'Subha Lagnam', 'Rudraveena' and a number of others, became popular with veteran director K Viswanath's film 'Sirivennela' in 1986.

He came to be known as 'Sirivennela' Sitarama Sastry though his surname is Chembolu.

Since then, he has penned about 3,000 songs and bagged the Andhra Pradesh government's Nandi award several times, besides other honours.

He formed a powerful combination with legendary playback singer S P Balasubrahmanyam, especially in the films of K Viswanath.

The songs of Sastry, sung by Balasubrahmanyam, captivated the audience, be it those of the Carnatic classical music genre or peppy mass numbers.

Expressing anguish over his demise, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said he was among those who admired the songs of the departed lyricist.

Sastry gave primacy to Telugu language and values in his songs, the Vice President said.

Naidu said he enquired with the doctors treating Sastry after coming to know about his ill-health and had hoped for his recovery.

He conveyed his condolences to Sastry's family members.

Union Tourism and Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu, actor Chiranjeevi, K Viswanath and a number of Telugu film personalities condoled the death of Sitarama Sastry.
19:22   Lok Sabha may discuss Omicron variant tomorrow
Lok Sabha on Wednesday will discuss the new COVID-19 variant Omicron under Rule 193, the sources said.    

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with top ministers in Parliament to discuss strategy for the ongoing winter session.    
The meeting was joined by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union home minister Amit Shah, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi, Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal, Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.    

Meanwhile, the PM also held a meeting on November 27 with top officials on COVID-19 and said that we need to be proactive in light of the new variant while laying emphasis on the precautions to contain the virus.    

PM Modi also asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence.   -- ANI
19:03   40 Bangladeshis held for illegal stay in Maharashtra's Bhiwandi
As many as 40 Bangladeshi nationals were arrested by the police for staying illegally in and around Bhiwandi city in Thane district of Maharashtra, an officer said on Tuesday.           

DCP, Zone 2, Bhiwandi, Yogesh Pawar told reporters that the arrested men were working as labourers at various locations.          

"They didn't possess any valid documents for staying in India," he said.         
A case was registered under the Indian Passport Act and the Foreign Nationals Act.          

The arrests were made from Shanti Nagar, Bhiwandi town and Narpoli areas. -- PTI
18:52   Zambia returnee tests positive for Covid in Pune
Amid the scare of new COVID-19 variant Omicron, a person who returned to Pune from Zambia on November 25 has tested positive for the COVID-19. 

According to the Pune Municipal Corporation, the 60-year-old man had travelled from Zambia to Mumbai on November 20 and then travelled to Pune by taxi. 

"The person who tested positive is around 60 years and is stable, asymptomatic and in-home isolation for now," the Pune Municipal Corporation officials said. 

The officials had informed that the man's sample has been sent for genome sequencing and a report on the same is awaited. 

"Pune Municipal Corporation has conducted RT-PCR tests of his family members and the driver who travelled with him from Mumbai to Pune and all of them have tested negative," it added. 

Meanwhile, the PMC has postponed the re-opening of schools for standard 1 to 7 in Pune till December 15 in view of the spread of Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus in parts of the world. -- ANI
18:39   Expert groups considering scientific evidence on need for booster dose
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 are deliberating and considering scientific evidence for the need and justification for booster dose, Rajya Sabha was told on Tuesday.                 

Responding to a query on the stand of the Indian Government on booster doses, Union minister of state for health Bharati Pravin Pawar in a written reply said some countries are providing booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine.                 

"The NTAGI and the NEGVAC are deliberating and considering scientific evidences related to dose schedule of COVID vaccines as well as the need and justification for booster dose," she said. -- PTI
18:23   Eight core industries growth rises 7.5% in Oct
The output of eight core sectors rose by 7.5 per cent in October on healthy performance by coal, natural gas, refinery products and cement segments, official data released on Tuesday showed.  

The production of eight infrastructure sectors of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity had contracted by 0.5 per cent in October 2020, according to the data released by the commerce and industry ministry.

Core sectors' growth stood at 4.5 per cent in September this year.

The eight core industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the index of industrial production.

During April-October this fiscal, the sectors' output rose by 15.1 per cent as compared to a contraction of 12.6 per cent in the same period of the previous year. -- PTI
18:00   Mumbai CP asked to probe Param Bir-Waze meet
The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered a probe into the meeting between former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and dismissed police officer Sachin Waze, on Monday when Singh had appeared before an inquiry commission in Mumbai.                  

Singh and Waze are co-accused in an extortion case in Mumbai.                        
Waze is in judicial custody and as per the rules he is not supposed to meet anyone. 

"I have instructed Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale to probe the matter," Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil told reporters on Tuesday.         

Objecting to Singh, the DG of Home Guards who remained absent in office for long before resurfacing last week to face the investigation in cases of extortion, using a government vehicle for his movements, Walse Patil said this matter will also be probed.               

"Such meeting between Waze and Param Bir Singh is absolutely wrong. Waze can be met only with the permission of the court. But it seems he has not obtained any such permission to meet Waze," the home minister said.                  

The alleged meeting took place on Monday in an adjoining room on the second floor of a building housing Singh' office in south Mumbai when he appeared before Justice Chandiwal (retired) commission probing the allegations of corruption levelled by him against the then state home minister Anil Deshmukh.                 

Waze was brought there for cross-examination.                 

According to sources, Singh and Waze spoke to each other for more than 30 minutes, and an objection to this was raised with the panel by the lawyer of Deshmukh. -- PTI
17:41   Param Bir, Waze planned Antilia bomb scare, claims Nawab Malik
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday alleged that former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and dismissed cop Sachin Waze had planned the bomb threat near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence 'Antilia' in the state capital. 

The duo had also planned the 'fake' encounter of a goon by showing him as a Pakistani national with the help of a bogus passport (after the bomb scare incident), Malik claimed while talking to reporters in Pune. 

The Nationalist Congress Party leader also claimed that Singh and Waze had 'misled' the state home ministry in connection with the the Antilia bomb scare case. 

Asked about NCP leader Anil Deshmukh's resignation as the state home minister earlier this year, Malik termed it as 'politically motivated.' 

Malik claimed that Singh and Waze had given wrong briefings to the state home ministry to 'mislead' it in the (Antilia bomb scare) case. 

"Param Bir Singh and Sachin Waze had planned the Antilia bomb threat. They had even made a fake passport with the entry and exit stamps of Pakistan for a goon. If Mansukh Hiran wasn't killed or had he surrendered, then both had planned the fake encounter of the goon, showing him as a terrorist," Malik claimed. -- PTI
17:07   Omicron: CM says Delhi has 30,000 beds ready
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said his government is gearing up to fight a possible threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and has prepared 30,000 oxygen beds and also ramped up oxygen supply and storage facilities. 

 The chief minister held a meeting with government departments to review the preparations to deal with a possible third wave. 

 "This time, we have prepared 30,000 oxygen beds. Out of these, 10, 000 are ICU beds. There are 6,800 beds under construction that will be ready by February, he said. In every municipal ward we will be able to prepare 100 oxygen beds at a notice of two weeks. There are 270 municipal wards which means we will be able to prepare 27,000 beds at a short notice," he said in an online media briefing. 

 The chief minister also said that the government is ordering 32 kinds of medicines to create their buffer stocks of two months and training manpower. The preparations for home isolation are also being done, he said. 

 The national capital grappled with an oxygen crisis during the second wave in April and May, the chief minister said, adding the government has created an extra storage facility of 442 metric tonnes of medical oxygen, something that was not there during the previous wave. 

"We had zero capacity to produce oxygen. We have installed PSA plants that can produce 121 MT oxygen. Last time, the hospitals were sending out sending out SOS messages for oxygen. We have directed to install telemetry devices in all oxygen tanks across Delhi so that our war room will be in the know where oxygen is running out," he said. 

 The government has imported 6,000 cylinders from China and there are three private refilling plants that can fill 1500 cylinders per day and we have put up two bottling plants that can fill 1400 cylinders on a daily basis, he said.

 In April and May, Delhi battled a brutal second wave of the pandemic that claimed a huge number of lives and led to a shortage of oxygen and essential drugs at hospitals. -- PTI
Vinod Dua and his wife Padmavati
Vinod Dua and his wife Padmavati
17:01   Vinod Dua remains 'extremely critical and fragile', says daughter
The condition of veteran journalist Vinod Dua continues to be "extremely critical and fragile", his daughter and actor-comic Mallika Dua said on Tuesday. 

 The 67-year-old journalist, a pioneer in Hindi broadcast journalism with stints in Doordarshan and NDTV, was last night moved to the Intensive Care Unit of Apollo Hospital on the advice of doctors in New Delhi. 

 "... he was moved to the Apollo Hospital ICU last night where he can be cared for better. He remains extremely critical and fragile. He has been a fighter his entire life. Uncompromising and relentless. His family is the same when it comes to him," Mallika Dua wrote on her Instagram Story.

 Meanwhile, sources at the hospital said, he was "in a sick condition but stable". 

 Vinod Dua, who was hospitalised with Covid earlier this year, lost his wife, radiologist Padmavati 'Chinna' Dua, to the virus in June. 

 "Mama would not have given up on him or watch him give up on himself. She will guide us to do what's best for him. My sister and I are okay. We were raised by the strongest," added Mallika Dua in her post, adding that she will share the latest update on her father's status once she speaks to the doctors after morning rounds. 

 On Monday, Mallika Dua said her father was in the ICU of a hospital in Delhi and his condition was "beyond critical". 

 As news of his ill-health spread, so did fake news that he had passed away and some people even posted condolence messages, prompting his daughter to request people to not spread rumours. 

 Vinod Dua and his wife were in a hospital in Gurgaon when the second Covid wave was at its peak. The journalist's health has suffered ever since and he has been in and out of hospitals. The couple is also parents to elder daughter Bakul Dua, a clinical psychologist. PTI
16:50   Beijing Games: China worried about Omicron
China says the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is a concern for organizers of the Beijing Winter Olympics but it remains confident the games will be held as scheduled in February.

The new variant is the latest challenge facing the games, which have taken criticism over the lack of natural snow in the Chinese capital, the country's human rights record, and tennis star Peng Shuai's recent accusations of sexual assault against a former top leader of the ruling Communist Party. 

 At a daily briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Omicron would certainly bring some challenges in terms of prevention and control.

"I'm fully confident that the Winter Olympics will be held as scheduled, smoothly and successfully," Zhao said, citing China's experience in largely controlling widespread infections since the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. 

 China maintains some of the world's strictest anti-virus travel restrictions and has said it will not allow overseas spectators at the games. Athletes, staff and journalists will be confined to bubbles for the duration of the competition, which will take place at three far-flung locations in downtown Beijing, its suburb of Yanqing, and neighboring Hebei province.
Market performance in November
Market performance in November
16:15   Sensex drops 196 pts; Nifty below 17,000-mark
Equity benchmark Sensex dropped 196 points on Tuesday, hit by fag-end selling in auto and metal stocks following sluggish investor sentiment in global markets. 

 The selling pressure was triggered after European markets opened in the negative territory amid concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, traders said. 

 After rallying over 900 points, the 30-share BSE index surrendered all gains to settle 195.71 points or 0.34 per cent lower at 57,064.87. Similarly, the NSE Nifty declined 70.75 points or 0.41 per cent to close below the 17,000-mark at 16,983.20. 

 Tata Steel was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding around 4 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, Bajaj Auto, M&M, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries, IndusInd Bank and Maruti. On the other hand, PowerGrid, Titan, Bajaj Finserv, Nestle India and Bajaj Finance were among the gainers.
16:09   The politics of reform: A tutorial for Mr Modi
The decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the three farm reform laws he had introduced last year has been criticised by many advocates of economic reform and liberalisation as a major policy and political setback.

 Some of the Prime Minister's staunch supporters, who had hailed the original decision as being as important for Indian agriculture as the reforms of 1991 were for Indian industry, have argued that while Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was forced in 1991 to introduce "reforms by stealth' because of an economic crisis, Mr Modi's reforms were products of the courage of conviction.

The politics of policymaking deserves a closer look than the economics of Modis initiative, writes Sanjaya Baru. Read the column here.  
16:03   South Africa tour on as of now: BCCI treasurer
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal on Tuesday said India's tour of South Africa remains on schedule provided the situation doesn't aggravate in the rainbow nation after a new COVID-19 variant was detected there. 

 India play the final Test against New Zealand in Mumbai and are scheduled to depart to Johannesburg from there on December 8 or 9 on a chartered flight. 

 Dhumal expressed confidence the bio-bubble environment created by South Africa will keep the players safe. The first Test will be played in Johannesburg from December 17.

 "We stand with them (as they deal with this threat), the only thing is we won't compromise on players' safety. As of now we have a chartered flight going to Johannesburg as scheduled and players will be in a bio bubble," Dhumal told PTI.

 On the possible change of venues within South Africa to deal with the threat, Dhumal said: "We are in constant touch with the Cricket South Africa (CSA) officials. "Whatever best we can do to not compromise the series we will try and do but if situation aggravates and if it compromises our players' safety and health, we will see." -- PTI
15:52   Bigotry unlimited
In 2017, the Narendra Modi government announced a new scheme of electoral funding -- namely electoral bonds -- that could be bought through the State Bank of India at stipulated times of the year. 

Touted as a new transparent funding mechanism, it effectively legalized opacity. 

The donor didn't have to report the donation and the party didn't have to reveal the funder's identity.

 Unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of these electoral bonds went to the BJP and in this way political rents came to be collected in wholly legal, yet deliberately unaccountable, ways.

Mukul Kesavan on how India pioneered the global surge in majoritarian populism. Read the column here. 
15:50   Remembering Rishi Kapoor
Veteran actor Neetu Kapoor shared an old picture with her late husband, Rishi Kapoor on Instagram today. The image features Neetu and Rishi  posing on a bike.

"Justtttt ...," Neetu captioned the post, adding a string of heart emojis.

Reacting to the post, their daughter Riddhima dropped heart emojis on it.
15:46   Mapped: The rise and rise of fuel prices
Here's how fuel prices across cities in India looked like in November. 
UK PM Boris Johnson
UK PM Boris Johnson
15:37   14 Omicron cases in UK, face masks compulsory
Face coverings are mandatory in shops and public transport from Tuesday as part of targeted measures" to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, 14 cases of which have now been detected in the UK after Scotland reported three new infections. 

 The enhanced measures, announced last week as a precaution while more information is gathered and assessed on the new variant's transmissibility and any possible effect on current COVID-19 vaccines, also include compulsory PCR tests on arrival for all international travellers as well as a so-called boosted booster vaccination programme to cover all adults aged over 18. 

 The Omicron variant, first identified in southern Africa, is feared to have higher re-infection risk and its potential vaccine resistance due to a large number of spike proteins remains under study.

 The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
People queue up to get vaccinated
People queue up to get vaccinated
15:31   Omicron shows up in RT-PCR test
Underlining that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 does not escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, the Centre advised states and UTs on Tuesday to ramp up testing for early identification of any cases, undertake effective surveillance of international passengers and strictly monitor hotspots.

 Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level virtual meeting with states and UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid cases of Omicron variant of COVID19 being reported across various countries. 

 Reiterating that the revised guidelines and international travel advisories of the Union Health Ministry have been shared with the states, Bhushan advised states not to let their guard down and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings, a health ministry statement said.

 India has so far not reported any case of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Parliament on Tuesday, noting that the government has taken measures to ensure that it does not reach the country. 

 The Centre has issued an advisory after looking at the developments globally and is keeping a close watch at ports, he said, adding genome sequencing of suspected cases is also being done. 

 During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said, "Omicron variant has been found in 14 countries now. It is being studied here although it has not been reported in India." 

 At the meeting chaired by Bhushan, the states were specially advised to undertake effective surveillance of international passengers.
15:21   1,678 Kashmiri migrants return to JK after Article 370 abrogation
As many as 1,678 Kashmiri migrants have returned to Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 for taking up jobs under the Prime Minister's Development Package-2015, the government told parliament on Tuesday.

 Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said that as per information provided by the government of Jammu and Kashmir, the land of 150 applicants has been restored.

 "As per the information provided by the government of Jammu and Kashmir, after abrogation of Article 370, a total of 1,678 migrants have returned to Kashmir for taking up the jobs under the Prime Minister's Development Package-2015," he said in a written reply to a question. Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated by the central government on August 5, 2019. 

The state was also divided into two Union Territories. The minister said the government has taken various measures to restore ancestral properties to migrant Hindus. 

Under the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection & Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997, District Magistrates (DMs) of concerned Districts in Jammu and Kashmir are the legal custodians of the immovable properties of migrants, who take suo motto action on eviction proceedings in cases of encroachment.

 He said the migrants can also request DMs in such cases. The DMs are further empowered to take all steps for the preservation and protection of such properties.

 The government of Jammu and Kashmir has launched a portal on September 7, 2021 to address the grievances of Kashmiri migrants in this regard, he said. PTI
15:14   Centre extends doorstep vax campaign till Dec 31
The door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination campaign 'Har Ghar Dastak' has been extended till December 31 with a focus on 100 percent first dose coverage and completing the backlog of second dose vaccination, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level virtual meeting with states and UTs to review COVID-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid cases of potentially more contagious Omicron variant of COVID19 being reported across various countries.

 Noting the critical role of vaccination as a powerful defence against COVID-19, the 'Har Ghar Dastak' vaccination campaign has been extended till 31st December with a focus on 100 percent first dose coverage, and completing the backlog of second dose vaccination, the Ministry said in a statement after the meeting. 

 To ensure that all eligible people are vaccinated at the earliest, the Har Ghar Dastak' campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 3 and this was to continue till November 30. 

 States have been advised to ramp up the pace and coverage of COVID19 vaccination. 

 There is a continued need for further vaccination coverage, adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour and the need to avoid mass gatherings, DG, ICMR Dr Balram Bharagava said Underlining the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 doesn't escape-PCR and RAT tests, the Centre advised states and UTs to ramp up testing for early identification of any cases, undertake effective surveillance of international passengers and strictly monitor hotspots.

NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr Vinod Paul stated that the country is richer in its knowledge of the management of COVID-19, the statement said. -- PTI
15:08   TMC flags will flutter across Meghalaya in next 45 days: Mukul Sangma
Former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, who along with 11 other Congress MLAs recently joined Mamata Banerjee's party, on Tuesday asserted that Trinamool Congress flags will flutter across the northeastern state in the next 45 days.
Sangma said that the entire Northeast wants a "true alternative" to the Congress that can sincerely take on the BJP and promote the interests of the people of the region, and "All India Trinamool Congress chairperson (Mamata Banerjee) is the force they should gravitate to".
Addressing a press conference at the TMC headquarters in Kolkata, the two-times Meghalaya chief minister said that the legislators' decision to join the party was not an overnight decision and they had deliberated for long how to protect the interests of the people of the state, "which was not possible under the central Congress leadership".
"Our decision will set the trend in Meghalaya, the Northeast and the entire country. From her (Mamata Banerjee's) conviction and words, it is clear that she is the sole gravitating force.
"It was a difficult decision, but it was the need of the hour. We want to do real work, and contribute to nation-building which is only possible under the leadership of the AITC chairperson in the present situation," he said.
Noting that the people of Meghalaya have already supported the move of the 12 MLAs, Sangma said that people of the northeastern state already know 'Didi' and TMC.
"In the next 45 days, you will see Trinamool Congress flags fluttering in all parts of our state," Sangma said.
Meghalaya TMC president Charles Pyngrope, who is among the 12 defecting MLAs, thanked Banerjee and dwelt on the long-standing ties between the people of West Bengal and Meghalaya, especially Shillong.
Banerjee had welcomed the 12 MLAs at her Kalighat residence on Monday in the presence of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
The Meghalaya legislators had attended TMC's working committee meeting chaired by Banerjee to chalk out the roadmap for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. -- PTI 
15:00   Over 6 lakh Indians gave up their citizenship in last five years:Govt
Over six lakh Indians have given up their citizenship in the last five years, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said that as per the information available with the Ministry of External Affairs, a total number of 1,33,83,718 Indian nationals are living in foreign countries.
In a written reply to a question, he said 1,33,049 Indians gave up Indian citizenship in 2017, 1,34,561 in 2018, 1,44,017 in 2019, 85,248 in 2020 and 1,11,287 till September 30, 2021. -- PTI 
14:59   New bill on cryptocurrency after Cabinet approval: Sitharaman
The government will soon bring in a new bill on cryptocurrency after it is approved by the Union Cabinet, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday in the Rajya Sabha.
A bill on Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency for introduction in the Lok Sabha has been included in the Lok Sabha Bulletin-Part II, as part of the government business expected to be taken up during the ongoing winter session.
The bill seeks to create a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India for the ongoing winter session of Parliament. 

It also seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, however, it allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.
Replying to a series of questions in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said, "This bill, once the Cabinet clears, will come into the house".
The government had also listed a similar Bill for the last Parliament session (monsoon) but it was not taken up.
"The earlier attempt was definitely to come up with a Bill that the house can consider. But, later, because rapidly a lot of things had to come into play, we had started working on a new Bill. This is the Bill that is now being proposed," she said adding that there was a "genuine attempt" to bring the Bill even during the monsoon session.
The minister informed the house that the proposed legislation is likely to be introduced soon.
On asked if the government proposes to ban misleading advertisements in media, she said the guidelines of Advertising Standards Council of India are being studied and their regulations are also being looked into "so that we can take, if necessary, some kind of position or a decision to see how we can handle it".
The minister also said cryptocurrencies are unregulated in India and the government does not collect data on transactions in cryptocurrency.
Sitharaman also said the government, the RBI and the Sebi have been cautioning people about the cryptocurrencies that could be a "high risk" area and "more can be done" to create awareness. -- PTI
14:50   No case of Omicron reported in India so far: Govt
India has so far not reported any case of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Parliament on Tuesday, underlining that the government has taken measures to ensure that it does not reach the country.
The Centre has issued an advisory after looking at developments globally and is keeping a close watch on ports, he said, adding genome sequencing of suspected cases is being done.
During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said, "Omicron variant has been found in 14 countries now. It is being studied here although it has not been reported in India." 
Stressing that there is a need to take all precautions, the minister said, "We have learnt a lot during the pandemic. We have resources and labs to check.  
At present, no Omicron variant has been reported in India and all measures have been taken to ensure this variant does not reach the country, he said.
The World Health Organisation has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'
According to the minister, the COVID-19 situation is under control in India at present but the country is not free from this disease and Covid-appropriate behaviour should be followed.
The house-door vaccination drive is still on and about 70-80 lakh doses are being administered on a daily basis, he said, adding 124 crore doses of Covid vaccine has been administered so far in the country. 
Responding to another query, the Union minister said there was slow down in testing of tuberculosis during the Covid lockdown period but surveillance and testing has been stepped up now. -- PTI
14:36   TMC doesn't join Opposition protests in LS
For the second straight day, Lok Sabha proceedings were disrupted on Tuesday amid Opposition protests over various issues even as the Rajya Sabha has adjourned for the day.

As the House reconvened at 2 pm, there were protest from the members of the opposition.

In less than two minutes, A Raja who was chairing the proceeding, adjourned the House till 3 pm. 

 Earlier in the day, Speaker Om Birla made repeated plea to members for smooth functioning of the House. TRS members shouted slogans and displayed placards standing in the Well of the House while other Opposition members, including from Congress and Left parties, sought to raise certain issues from their seats.

 In signs of deepening rift between the government and the Opposition, members from the Congress, NCP, Left parties and DMK walked out of the House alleging that the government was suppressing the voice of the Opposition. These members protested from their seats and did not come into the Well before walking out of the House.

However, Trinamool Congress members neither joined the protests nor walked out.
14:28   Reunion island gets 1st Omicron case
French authorities announce France's first case of the omicron variant, in the Indian Ocean island territory of Reunion.
14:14   Modi meets HD Deve Gowda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met the former Prime Minister of India and Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), H D Deve Gowda in the Parliament.

"Had a great meeting with our former PM Shri @H_D_Devegowda Ji in Parliament today," PM Modi tweeted. The meeting took place on the second day of the winter session of the Parliament which began on November 29.
14:14   Fitch affirms ICICI Bank rating with negative outlook
Fitch Ratings has affirmed ICICI Bank's ratings at 'BB+' with a negative outlook and retained the lender's viability rating at BB. 

 The negative outlook comes despite the agency recently revising upwards the operating environment outlook of domestic banks to stable from negative, citing better than expected recovery in business and economic activity following the COVID-19 second wave.

 Economic momentum and regulatory measures should support modest improvements in the domestic banks' financial profiles over the next 12-24 months, even though challenges remain the agency said in a late Monday note. 

 Listing the key rating drivers, the agency said ICICI's long term rating of 'BB+' is support driven and linked to India's sovereign rating (BBB-/Negative).
14:02   Suspended MPs can't forgiven unless they apologise: Goyal
Amid vehement protest by opposition members, the BJP on Tuesday stoutly defended the suspension of 12 opposition members from the Rajya Sabha for their "unruly" conduct in the last Parliament session, saying this is the least that could have been done.

 Union minister Piyush Goyal, the leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, also hit out at Rahul Gandhi, who rejected the demand that these members should apologise, asking if the Congress leader endorses their actions like "attacking" women marshals in the House. 

"Does he not think they should apologise or does he endorse their action," Goyal asked while speaking to reporters in Parliament House. 

 In a tweet, Gandhi had said these members will not apologise for "raising the voice of people" in Parliament. 

 Goyal cited various instances of the misconduct of these 12 members - from tearing papers to throwing books towards the Chair to allegedly attacking women marshals, saying their action could not be forgiven unless they tender an apology. 

 They not only insulted the House but the Chairman as well, he said. The BJP leader said Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, had levelled baseless allegations against Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in his remarks in the House against the suspension.
13:46   No decision on nationwide NRC yet: Govt in LS
The government has not taken any decision yet to prepare a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday. 

 Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai also said that The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was notified on December 12, 2019 and had come into force on January 10, 2020 and the people covered under the CAA may apply for citizenship after the rules are notified. 

 Till now, the Government has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) at the national level, he said in a written reply to a question. 

 Rai said as far as Assam is concerned, on the directions of the Supreme Court, the hard copies of the supplementary list of inclusions and online family-wise list of exclusions in NRC have been published on August 31, 2019. PTI
Representational image
Representational image
13:14   Covid long-haulers may experience abnormal breathing
Many long-haul COVID-19 patients have chronic fatigue syndrome and other breathing issues months after their initial diagnosis, according to a study. 

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical condition that can often occur after a viral infection and cause fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness and depression. 

 The study, published in the journal JACC: Heart Failure, is the first of its kind to identify a correlation between long-haul COVID-19 and chronic fatigue syndrome.

 The researchers noted that many COVID-19 patients, some who were never hospitalised, have reported persistent symptoms after they recover from their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. 

 These patients have Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) but are more commonly referred to as "long-haulers," the researchers said.

 Severe fatigue, cognitive difficulty, unrefreshing sleep and muscle aches and pains have all been considered major symptoms for PASC patients, which is similar to what researchers saw after the 2005 SARS-CoV-1 epidemic, they said. 

 In that epidemic 27 per cent of patients fulfilled criteria for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) after four years. In the latest study, researchers looked at 41 patients -- 23 women and 18 men -- with an age range of 23 to 69 years. 

 Patients were referred to the prospective study from pulmonologists or cardiologists and all had normal pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, chest CT scans and echocardiograms.
13:05   Omicron: BMC postpones reopening of schools
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai's civic body, delays reopening of schools in view of the Omicron variant threat. "School for classes 1-7 will now reopen from December 15, instead of December 1, in view of the emergence of Omicron variant of COVID-19," the BMC said.  

The Omicron variant carries 'concerning' mutations that may make it more transmissible and allow it to evade immunity, scientists said on Monday, stressing that the one certainty in the uncertainty of the many things unknown is this -- COVID is not a short-term crisis and vaccines are still a critical tool.
12:51   Omicron: Centre asks states to ramp up testing
Amid mounting concerns over the potentially more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron spreading to many countries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs on Tuesday and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.

 While underlining that the new variant doesn't escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation, a Union Health Ministry official said. 

 According to government officials, no case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in India yet. 

 ln view of the possible threat that the new Variant of Concern (VoC ) can pose to the nation, the ministry has asked all states and UTs to focus on intensive containment, active surveillance, enhanced testing, monitoring of hotspots, increased coverage of vaccination and ensure augmentation of health infrastructure.

 In a letter to states and UTs on November 28, 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 VoC. 

 The B.1.1.529 Covid variant or Omicron, first detected in South Africa last week, was designated by the World Health Organisation as a 'variant of concern', the health body's top category for worrying coronavirus variants.

 A senior official said no case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in India yet and Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia INSACOG is closely monitoring the situation and expediting the results of genomic analysis of positive samples of international travellers. 

 The Centre on Sunday introduced stricter guidelines for people travelling from or transiting through 'at-risk' countries and issued a slew of directions to the states for ramping up testing-surveillance measures and health facilities. 

 It also decided to review the resumption of international flights. 

 The countries designated as 'at-risk' (updated as of November 26) include European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. PTI
12:32   Bye chacha Jack! Kangana on Dorsey exit
Actor Kangana Ranaut shared her excitement after Parag Agrawal replaced Jack Dorsey as Twitter's new CEO.

Kangana, who was permanently suspended from Twitter due to her inflammatory tweets, took to her Instagram Stories and shared her reaction to Jack's exit. 

The 'Panga' actor shared a screenshot of the tweet about the same and wrote, "Bye chacha Jack..."

For the unversed, Kangana's Twitter handle was 'permanently suspended' in the month of May, this year after she posted several tweets which were against the microblogging platform's policies.

From calling out on nepotism, violence in West Bengal, farmer protests to people asking for oxygen due to the COVID-19 crisis, she was involved in all the recent controversies.

According to a Twitter spokesperson, Kangana's account was constantly provoking anger and violence, which was diminishing the value of global public conversation on the platform.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Parag took over as the CEO of Twitter after its co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down at the helm of the San Francisco-headquartered microblogging platform.

Parag is an IIT-Bombay and Stanford University alumnus. He had worked in Microsoft, Yahoo, and AT&T labs before joining Twitter in 2011. 
12:08   Kejriwal asks PM to stop international flights
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chaired a review meeting with Health Minister Satyendra Jain and senior officials on the possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, amid concerns raised by new variant 'Omicron'.

Kejriwal also tweeted a warning this morning for the Centre: "Several countries have restricted flights from Omicron-affected nations. Why are we delaying?" 

"In the first wave too, we had delayed the ban on flights. Most international flights land in Delhi....and the city gets affected the most. PM Sahib, please stop the flights," he further said.

The meeting underway in Delhi Secretariat is also attended by Chief Secretary, Health Department officials, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Commissioner and DMs of all the districts, said a source.

 Earlier, the Delhi government on Monday, in a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), chaired by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, decided RT-PCR tests will be conducted on all passengers arriving from six high-risk countries.
MPs protest outside Parliament House
MPs protest outside Parliament House
12:03   Cong, oppn MPs walk out of RS over suspension
Congress and other opposition party MPs on Tuesday staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha after Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu justified the suspension of 12 MPs for the entire winter session of Parliament for their "unruly" conduct in the previous session in August. 

 Raising the issue, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader M Mallikarjun Kharge said the motion for suspension moved by the government was in gross violation of procedure with the chair not even allowing his point of order over the issue. 

 He urged the chairman to set aside the suspension. Naidu, however, said the suspension was done by the House and not by the chairman. 

 The suspended members, he said, have shown no remorse and have instead justified their actions. 

 "I don't think the appeal of Leader of Opposition is worth considering," he added. 

 The Congress, AAP, RJD and Left parties protested raising slogan, but Naidu did not allow it. They then staged a walkout from the House. 

 TMC members staged a walkout a short while later when its leader Derek O'Brien said it's not the opposition but the 80 MPs of the treasury benches who should be suspended as they blocked certain discussions during the previous monsoon session. 

 The suspended MPs include six from the Congress, two each from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena, and one each from CPI and CPM. PTI 
11:30   MPs' suspension won't be revoked: RS chair
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejects the request for the revocation of suspension of 12 MPs. The suspension of the 12 opposition MPs won't be revoked as "they haven't expressed remorse", Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu told an angry House this morning.

 "Suspended MPs have not expressed remorse. I am not considering the appeal of Leader of Opposition (the Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge). Suspension will not be revoked," he said.

The 16 parties said that if the contentious suspension - which they have argued is against parliamentary laws, since the rules do not allow for punishments to be carried over into following sessions - is not revoked, they intend to boycott today's session of the Rajya Sabha.
File pic
File pic
11:08   Long live 'debate-less' parliamentary democracy: Chidambaram
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram took a dig at the government on Tuesday over the repeal of the farm laws without a debate in Parliament, saying "long live debate-less parliamentary democracy". 

 Parliament on Monday passed the bill to repeal the three contentious agricultural laws at the centre of protests by farmers for over a year with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha giving their approval in quick succession amid an uproar on the first day of the Winter session without any discussion.

 In a tweet, Chidambaram said that ahead of the Parliament session, the prime minister offered to debate any issue, and on the first day and on the first item of business, the farm bills were repealed without a debate. 

 "The Agriculture Minister's logic to deny a debate was baffling: he said 'when the Government and the Opposition agree there is no need for a debate'! the former Union minister said. The farm bills were passed without a debate when the two sides did not agree and they were repealed without a debate when the two sides agreed, Chidambaram said, adding that, "whichever way, there was no debate". 

 "Long live debate-less Parliamentary democracy!" he said. 

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that repealing the three farm laws without a debate in Parliament shows that the government is "terrified" and knows that it has done something wrong.
10:47   Results awaited for 3 S Africa returnees to Thane
Seven people arrived from South Africa in Maharashtra's Thane city adjoining Mumbai since November 14 and all of them were tested in the wake of concerns over the new potentially more transmissible 'Omicron' variant of the coronavirus, civic officials said on Tuesday. 

 Four of them tested negative for the coronavirus, while results of the remaining three were awaited, Manish Joshi, Deputy Municipal Commissioner in-charge of the Thane civic body's health department, told PTI. 

 Notably, a 32-year-old man who came to neighbouring Dombivli town in the district from South Africa on November 24 had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is currently kept in isolation at a civic facility of the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation and his sample has been sent for genome sequencing.

 The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday warned that the global risk from the Omicron variant is very high based on the early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with severe consequences". 

 The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a technical paper issued to member states, amounted to WHO's strongest, most explicit warning yet about the new version that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa. 

 On Monday, Thane Municipal Commissioner Dr Vipin Sharma held an emergency meeting to take stock of the preparedness in the wake of the present situation.

 During the meeting, it was revealed that a total of seven people arrived into Thane city between November 14 and 26, Joshi said. They were tested for the coronavirus, he said, adding that the reports of four of them came out negative while results of the three others were awaited. 

 The civic chief directed various officials and department heads concerned, specially of the health services, to be prepared to face any situation in the city pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 He discussed with officials about the availability of beds, oxygen supply, ambulances and other medical facilities in the city.
10:43   Opposition meets over suspension of 12 MPs
Leaders of Opposition parties meet at LoP Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge's office at Parliament House over the suspension of 12 Opposition members of the House.

In a move that angered the Opposition and set the stage for acrimonious exchanges, a dozen members of Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha were suspended from the winter session on the very first day following a motion brought in by the government.

The members were suspended for alleged unruly conduct towards the end of the monsoon session in August when marshals were called after Opposition members stormed the Well of the House during the passage of the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021.
10:09   Centre to hold Omicron meet with states today
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday will hold a review meeting with the States on the new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron'.

Earlier on Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also revised the international travel guidelines in view of this new coronavirus variant.

 According to an advisory issued by the Centre, the self-declaration board form on Air Suvidha Portal, which has the travel history of the last 14 days of all international travellers arriving in India, is filled completely before boarding.

The new guidelines also said that airlines shall put in place a proper randomization process for testing about 5 per cent of the passengers in flights on arrival. 

"Additional RT-PCR facilities, as required, may also be set up at all airports," it added. -- ANI
10:00   Equity indices in green, Sensex up by 500 points
 Equity indices opened in green on Tuesday with Sensex up by 500.26 points and Nifty up by 146.00 points.

The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was up by 0.87 per cent at 57760.84 at 9.30 am. Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 17200.00 at 9.30 am, up by 146.00 points or 0.86 per cent.

On the Sensex, the sectors which were trading high with maximum gain are realty at 3.56 and oil and consumer durables at 1.96.
09:57   New navy chief assumes office
Admiral R Hari Kumar takes blessings from his mother on taking charge as the new Chief of Naval Staff today. "It is a matter of great honour for me to take charge as the Chief of Naval Staff. The Indian Navy's focus is on our national maritime interests and challenges," the Admiral R Hari Kumar said today. 
09:35   Mamata wants to lead Oppn, Sonia's days over: BJP
Reacting to the reported tussle between Congress and Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee wants to be the leader of the opposition as Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi's days are over.

"These dramas are very old... Every party wants to be the leader (of Opposition parties). Mamata Banerjee wants to be the leader. Now the days of Sonia Gandhi are over," said Ghosh. 

As per reports, a cold war between Congress and TMC is visible during the winter session of Parliament. As the TMC is heading for pan-India expansion, the two parties are avoiding an open confrontation, but the rift between the two is seen in their actions.

TMC skipped the opposition meeting called by the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge before the commencement of the winter session. On the first day of the session, Congress staged a protest in front of the Gandhi statue while the TMC MP staged a separate protest.

TMC also skipped the meeting called by the leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge in his office in Parliament over the suspension of 12 opposition MPs from the Rajya Sabha. For the joint statement of 11 Opposition parties, the TMC chose to distance itself and held a separate press conference.
09:24   CDC says ages 18+ should get booster shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday broadened its recommendation for COVID-19 booster shots for all adults as the new omicron variant is identified in more countries.

 The agency had previously approved boosters for all adults, but only recommended them for those 50 years and older or if they live in a long-term care setting. 

 CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance reflects the emergence of the omicron variant, which has not yet been identified in the U.S. but that officials say will inevitably reach the country. 

"Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine," she said in a statement.
09:14   1000 travellers from Africa are in Mumbai
At least 1,000 travellers landed in Mumbai in the last fortnight from African countries where the potentially more transmissible 'Omicron' variant of coronavirus has been detected, a senior official of the city civic body said.
Swab samples were collected of at least 100 travellers out of the 466 whose list was received so far, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani told PTI on Monday.
The World Health Organisation on Monday warned that the global risk from the Omicron variant is "very high" based on early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with "severe consequences."
The United Nations health agency, in a technical paper issued to member states, said "considerable uncertainties" remain about the variant, that was first detected days ago in southern Africa.
Amid these concerns, Kakani said the airport authority has informed that around 1,000 travellers landed in Mumbai from African countries in the last fortnight, but it has handed over a list of only 466 such passengers so far. 
"Out of the 466 travellers, 100 are from Mumbai. We have already collected their swab samples. Their reports are expected soon. It will be clear if they are positive or negative to coronavirus," Kakani said.
"There won't be an issue if their test report is negative, but the civic body is going to conduct genome sequencing of positive samples, along with the S-gene missing test that is advised by the WHO for faster detection of the infection due to Omicron, without genome sequencing," he said.
If the S-gene is missing, in that case, it is presumed that he (traveller) may be infected (with Omicron), the official said, adding that the genome sequencing will confirm the infection.
08:34   Omicron poses very high global risk: WHO
The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from the omicron variant is "very high".

The United Nations  health agency said that the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with "severe consequences."

No Omicron-linked deaths had yet been reported, though further research was needed to assess its potential to resist vaccines and immunity induced by previous infections, it added.

Anticipating increased case numbers as the variant, first reported last week, spreads, the WHO urged its 194 member states to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups.

"Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors, including where surges may take place," it added.

"The overall global risk ... is assessed as very high."
00:50   Modi likely to visit UAE in January 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January that could be his first trip abroad in 2022, people familiar with the development said on Monday.

Both sides are having talks to firm up the visit which is likely to be focussed largely around the ongoing Dubai Expo.

The India pavilion at the Expo has drawn a huge crowd.

The people cited above said the dates for the proposed visit are yet to be finalised.

India's ties with the UAE have witnessed a major upswing in the last few years.

Both sides are moving forward to firm up a comprehensive economic partnership agreement by the first half of next year that is expected to significantly boost trade and investment ties.

In reflection of their growing strategic ties, India and the UAE recently became part of a new four-nation grouping that is expected to be focusing on issues relating to trade and investment. The other two members are the US and Israel.

 In August, Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic advisor to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited India.

In December last year, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane travelled to the UAE and it was the first-ever visit by a head of the Indian Army to the influential Gulf nation.

In July, then Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited the UAE, in reflection of India's growing strategic ties with the country.
ANI Photo
ANI Photo
00:12   Suspension of 12 MPs biggest in Rajya Sabha history
The suspension of 12 MPs from Rajya Sabha on Monday for the entire Winter Session of Parliament for their "unruly" conduct in the previous session in August is the biggest such action in the history of the Upper House.

The motion to suspend Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora, Rajamani Patel, Syed Nasir Hussain and Akhilesh Prasad Singh of the Congress; Dola Sen, Shanta Chhetri of Trinamool Congress; Priyanka Chaturvedi, Anil Desai of Shiv Sena; Elamaram Kareem of CPM; and Binoy Viswam of CPI was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi.

This is the biggest suspension of MPs from Rajya Sabha, according to officials aware about parliamentary records.

Previously in 2020, eight MPs - Derek O'Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Congress), K K Nagesh (CPI(M)), Syed Nasir Hussain (Congress), Ripun Bora (Congress), Dola Sen (TMC) and Elamaran Kareem of CPI(M) - were suspended which was the second highest number. Seven MPs were also suspended from Rajya Sabha in 2010.

Prominent leader and freedom fighter Raj Narayan had been suspended four times from Rajya Sabha while former deputy speaker Godey Murahari has been suspended twice from the Upper House.