Mon, 20 September 2021
Pressure on UK to review Covid vax rules for India

Timeline  Refresh

23:17   Pressure on UK to review Covid vax rules for India
The UK government is under increasing pressure on Monday to review its COVID-19 vaccine protocol in place for travellers from India, after its updated rules effective from next month failed to recognise Indian vaccines under an expanded list of countries.

From October 4, the current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will be scrapped and replaced with one red list only.

The scrapping of an amber list, which is what India is currently on, means reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers. With an expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in England not including India, it means that Indians vaccinated with Covishield the Serum Institute of India produced Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would still be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation at a designated address.

Indian students are disturbed by what they feel is a discriminatory move as they are being treated differently to their counterparts from America and EU, said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK, whose patron Congress party parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor cancelled his planned UK visit in retaliation of the "offensive" rules.

At NISAU we have been calling out this issue of vaccine recognition, particularly in the case of Covishield, for weeks. Indian students are a huge contributor being the second-largest to the annual GBP 28.8 billion revenue for the UK economy and we are concerned about the signals such a move sends to Indian students and to India on the whole, she said.

Another NISAU UK patron, veteran British Indian MP Virendra Sharma, had also raised the issue earlier.

From October 4, travellers from 17 additional countries with eligible vaccines, including Australia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, will fall under the UK's list of recognised jabs of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines.

The UK government's Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this list is reviewed fortnightly. The DHSC, however, maintains that the India-made version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine so far approved by the UK's Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is branded as Vaxzevria and therefore the only one currently eligible.

We recognise there are a large variety of COVID-19 vaccines being administered worldwide and work is ongoing to determine which non-UK vaccines and certification solutions to recognise, a DHSC source said.

The Indian government has previously said it is working with several countries to recognise India's vaccine certification on a mutual reciprocal basis.

 The Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar, had flagged this issue during the inaugural session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual summit last week.

Our governments have agreed that for early economic recovery it's absolutely necessary to work on recognition of vaccine certificates to facilitate free movement of our people, like before, including for professional and business reasons, Kumar said.

Under the new rules from October 4, unvaccinated Indian travellers or those vaccinated in India must take a COVID test three days before departure and book in advance for two COVID tests to be taken upon arrival in England.

On arrival in England, the passengers must self-isolate in the place they have confirmed on their passenger locator form for 10 days. A privately paid-for "Test to Release" option does exist at day five, which allows an early end to the 10-day quarantine with a negative PCR test.
22:56   Rajnath-Austin discuss Af developments, bilateral defence cooperation
The developments in Afghanistan and issues pertaining to bilateral defence cooperation figured prominently during a telephonic conversation between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his American counterpart Lloyd J Austin on Monday.

The conversation came ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US this week to attend an in-person summit of Quad leaders in Washington and address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

Describing the talks as "warm", Singh said both sides agreed to continue with the "useful dialogue" and strengthening the India-US partnership further.

"Had a warm telephone conversation with @SecDef Mr Lloyd Austin. We discussed issues pertaining to bilateral defence cooperation & regional matters including situation in Afghanistan," the defence minister tweeted.

"We agreed to continue the useful dialogue & look forward to strengthening the partnership further," he said.

India and the United States are in touch with each other on the Afghan crisis after the Taliban's takeover of Kabul on August 15.

In reflection of India's views on the Afghan crisis, Modi on Friday said the global community should decide "collectively" and "thoughtfully" on according recognition to the new set-up in Afghanistan in view of questions over its acceptability as the change of power was not "inclusive".

The prime minister also warned that continuing instability and fundamentalism in Afghanistan will embolden terrorist and extremist ideologies all over the world.

He made the remarks during a virtual address at a meeting on Afghanistan of the heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

At the Quad summit on September 24, US President Joe Biden, Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are expected to deliberate on the situation in Afghanistan, besides other issues.

In March, Biden hosted the first-ever summit of Quad leaders in the virtual format that vowed to strive for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion, sending an apparent message to China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a two-day visit to India in July. Before that, Austin had paid a three-day visit to New Delhi in March.
22:33   Fully vaccinated Indians can travel to US from Nov
The US on Monday announced a new international travel system under which fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to enter the country beginning in November.

This essentially also lifts the travel ban on countries like India that the US had earlier enforced. Former president Donald Trump had imposed a blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the US at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

Vaccinated people from countries like India can now travel to the US with proof of their vaccination before they start flying for the United States, White House officials said.

"Today we're announcing a new international air travel system. This new system includes strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying into the United States, protecting Americans and making international air travel safer," White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during a virtual news conference.

The United States, he said, with science and public health as its guide, has developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.

"Most importantly, beginning in early November, foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and they must show proof of vaccination prior to boarding a US bound airplane," he said.

Responding to a question on the existing quarantine requirements and travel ban from countries like India, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, Iran and South Africa, Zients said early November the United States will move to this new and much stricter global system.

"It will require for nationals to be vaccinated, to prove they're vaccinated, and then to go to the testing and contract tracing regimens," he said.

"That's right, for (fully) vaccinated travellers it is not required to be a quarantine going forward, he said in response to another question.

Nearly six billion COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered globally, he said, adding that the US is leading the effort to get even more shots and arms across the world. "We know vaccines are affected, including against the Delta variant and vaccines are the best line of defense against COVID."

These vaccination requirements employ the best tool that they have to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus. In addition to requiring for nationals to be fully vaccinated, the new international air travel system will acquire other proven disease mitigation strategies, enhanced testing contact tracing and masking, he asserted.

Zients said fully vaccinated travellers will need to complete pre-departure testing within three days prior to departure to the United States and show proof of a negative test. Furthermore, any unvaccinated Americans returning to the US are subject to stricter testing requirements. They will need to test within one day of departure, and will be required to test again, post their arrival.

In the coming weeks, CDC will be issuing a contact tracing order requiring airlines to collect current information from each US bound traveller, including their phone number and email address. This will enable CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travellers, and those around them as someone has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 or other pathogens.

"Importantly, this enhanced contact tracing system will do more than help us fight this virus. It will also strengthen our public health surveillance system against any future public health threats, said the White House official.

Noting that earlier this month, President Joe Biden extended the masking requirement on airplanes and TSA doubled fines for passengers who refuse to mask, he said it is simple masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19.

"If you break the rules, be prepared for the consequences, he said.

In response to a question, Zients also said it is for the CDC to determine which vaccine is acceptable for entry into the US.
21:43   BJP appoints U'Khand ex-governor Baby Rani as national VP
In a statement, the BJP announced the appointment of former Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya as its vice president. Maurya is a Dalit leader and is expected to play a role in the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, her native state.

The party also replaced its West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh with Sukanta Majumdar, Lok Sabha MP from Balurghat in the state. Ghosh, also a Lok Sabha MP, has been made a national vice president of the party. 

The decision to bring in a new West Bengal president is being seen as part of the BJP's efforts to reinvigorate its organisation in the state amid desertions by a number of its leaders who have switched over to the ruling Trinamool Congress. 
21:13   Babus have to pick up chappals, says Uma, retracts
Former Union minister and BJP leader Uma Bharti's recent remarks on the bureaucracy that their job is to "pick up chappals" kicked a storm but today she issued an apology as well as a clarification in a series of tweets.

The video which went viral is reported to be from a media interaction held on September 18.

In the video, the BJP leader is heard saying, "Bureaucracy is nothing. Bureaucracy is there to pick up chappals (slippers). It picks up our slippers. We only allow that."

She further said, "Why do you think bureaucracy controls politicians? No, it is talked about in private first, and then the bureaucracy makes a file and brings it. Ask us, I have been a minister at the Centre for 11 years, have been the chief minister. First, we have a discussion and then the file is processed."

"It is all nonsense that they control things. They cannot do that. What is their aukat (standing)? We are giving them a salary, we are giving them posting, we are giving them promotions and demotion. They cannot do anything on their own. The real thing is that we do our politics under the pretext of bureaucracy," said the former Union minister.

Today, the BJP leader in a series of tweets apologised for the "uncontrolled" words that she used in the video and said that she was speaking in "defense of the bureaucracy".

Issuing her clarification Bharti said in a tweet, "The day before yesterday at my residence in Bhopal, I met a delegation of backward classes. This meeting was not a formal one. The video of that entire conversation has gone viral in the media."

"I am thankful to the media that they showed my complete video because I was speaking in defense of the bureaucracy," she said in another tweet.

The BJP leader further clarified, "Some of us leaders, the incompetent leaders sitting in power, take the pretext of bureaucracy to avoid their inefficiency that "we are very good but the bureaucracy does not allow us to do good work, whereas the truth is that honest bureaucracy supports a strong, true and well-intentioned leader sitting in power. This is my experience."

"I am sorry, I used uncontrolled language when my expressions were good. I learned this lesson from today that controlled language should be used even in informal conversations with a limited number of people," she added.
PIc: Reuters
PIc: Reuters
21:03   Furniture, hot tea thrown in Talibans meeting with ISI chief
'Since the office of the Afghan president, the Arg, was built in the late 18th century, most of its occupants have died violently in one of the elegant buildings, built inside a large square compound of thick stone walls as a copy of an ancient fortress,' reports David Lyon in The Spectator, UK. 

'But, there has rarely been a scene like the one earlier this month, following the visit to Kabul of the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed. He had come to Kabul to impose Pakistan's will on the shape of the new Taliban government. He ensured that all of the key positions went to Pakistani loyalists, principally from the hardline Haqqani network, while those who led the Doha negotiations were downgraded,' Lyon writes. 

'The principal loser was Mullah Baradar, who had expected to run the government, but was instead given a deputy's role. He wanted more roles for Afghanistan's many ethnic minorities in the government, and has also argued that the green, red and black Afghan national flag should still be flown alongside the white Taliban flag. 

'Tempers flared in a meeting in the Arg and spilled over into a fight between his supporters and those of Khalil Haqqani. Furniture and large thermos flasks full of hot green tea were thrown. Some accounts said there was gunfire, although this has not been verified,' Lyon reports here, adding that Baradar disappeared for a few days after the fisticuffs, surfacing in the rebel stronghold of Kandahar, where he has since stayed put.
20:58   Adani buyout buzz: NDTV shares hit upper circuit
Shares of NDTV on Monday jumped 10 per cent to their highest trading permissible limit for the day amid rumours about a possible buyout of the company even as it denied any such discussions.

The stock zoomed 9.94 per cent to close at its upper circuit of Rs 79.65 on the BSE. On the NSE, it jumped 9.99 per cent to Rs 79.85.

Earlier in the day, the BSE had sought clarification from New Delhi Television Ltd with reference to news reports on buyout by Adani Group.

In a clarification, the company said, "In this regard, we wish to inform you that the founder-promoters of the New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV/the Company), Radhika and Prannoy Roy, who are both journalists, are not in discussions now, nor have been, with any entity for a change in ownership or divestment of their stake in NDTV."

They individually and through their company, RRPR Holding Private Limited, continue to hold 61.45 per cent of the total paid-up share capital of NDTV, it added.

The filing further said that NDTV has no information on why there is a sudden surge in the stock price.

"NDTV cannot control unsubstantiated rumours, nor does it participate in baseless speculation," it added.
Representational pic
Representational pic
20:43   Cricketers come under BCCI sexual harassment code
The BCCI on Monday ratified a comprehensive Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy which also brings the Indian cricketers into its ambit.

Until now, the BCCI did not have a specific policy to deal the matters of sexual harassment. The policy is also applicable to office-bearers, members of Apex Council and IPL Governing Council besides the cricketers from senior to U-16 level.

In a nine-page document in possession of PTI, the BCCI states that a four member Internal Committee will be formed to investigate sexual harassment complaints. It did not name the members during its Apex Council meeting on Monday.

"The presiding officer of the IC shall be a woman employed at a senior level at the Workplace ("Presiding Officer")," reads the policy.

"2 members of the IC will be selected from among the employees, preferably who are committed to the cause of women or have experience in social work or have legal knowledge.

"1 member of the IC will be selected from a Non-Governmental Organization or association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment ("External Member"). At least one half of the members of the IC will be women."

The complainant must file the complaint within three months from the date of incident and the IC will give seven working days to the accused to respond to the allegations. The respondent gets 10 days to respond.

The ICC gets 90 days from the date of complaint to complete its inquiry and forward its recommendations to the BCCI which will act on it within 60 days. The complainant or respondent can go to court if they are not satisfied with BCCI's verdict.

"That must be done within 90 days of the receipt of the report of the IC."

The penalties include censure, counselling, community services, warning, fine loss of pay, loss of seniority, termination of employment among others.
ANI Photo
ANI Photo
20:29   Top seer Mahant Narendra Giri found dead at Allahabad Muth
Mahant Narendra Giri, the president of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, was found dead on Monday at Baghambari Muth in Allahbad, police said.

The Parishad is the largest organisation of sadhus in India.

According to Inspector General of Police K P Singh, Mahant Giri's body was found hanging from the ceiling by his disciples.

A purported suicide note was also found at the site in which the seer had written that he was mentally disturbed and was ending his life. He had also delegated various responsibilities to his disciples in the note, the police said.

The IGP said that police had received a call at 5.30 PM from the Muth that Giri had hanged himself.

Prima facie it appeared to be a case of suicide but things will be clearer after the post-mortem and forensic tests, the police said.

The influential Hindu seer was hospitalised in April after he tested positive from COVID-19.

Several political and religious leaders condoled the demise of Giri.

"The death of Mahant Narendra Giri ji, President of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, is an irreparable loss to the spiritual world. I pray to Lord Shri Ram to grant the departed soul a place at his feet and strength to the bereaved followers to bear this sorrow. Om Shanti," Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted.
Uttam Ghosh/
Uttam Ghosh/
19:37   EPFO adds 14.65 lakh members in July
Retirement fund body EPFO recorded net new enrolments of 14.65 lakh in July, giving a perspective of formal sector employment in the country.

The provisional payroll data of EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation) released on Monday showed a growing trend, with 14.65 lakh net payroll additions during July 2021.

Net new enrolment with the EPFO in June this year was revised downwards to 11.15 lakh from the provisional estimates of 12.83 lakh released last month.

The data showed that net new enrolments stood at 8.9 lakh in April and 6.57 lakh in May this year.

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-April this year which forced many states to impose fresh lockdown restrictions.

The data is provisional as updation of employees' records is a continuous process and gets updated in subsequent month/s, the EPFO added.

The estimates may include temporary employees whose contributions may not be continuous for the entire year, it further stated.

EPFO manages social security funds of workers in the organised/semi-organised sector in India.
19:26   Channi and Sidhu to be faces in Punjab polls: Cong
The Congress on Monday said it will fight Punjab elections under the leadership of chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and both will be faces of the party.

The Congress went into damage control after it came under attack from various parties over the statement of its general secretary in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat that the party would go to polls with Navjot Singh Sidhu as it face.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the next Punjab assembly elections will be fought under the leadership of both Channi and Sidhu and attacked the BJP, Akali Dal, BSP and Aam Aadmi Party for insulting a Dalit chief minister.

He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP leadership why they had not named any Dalit as their chief minister and why they and other leaders of BSP, AAP and Akali Dal were undermining the young Congress Dalit leader.

"Our faces will be Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu as also ordinary Congress workers and leaders who will be supporting them. If anybody says one or the other will be the face, intentionally or otherwise, it is being misinterpreted by the media," he told reporters.

"I want to tell all our friends in the media, please, you also do not grudge the young Dalit leader and the role assigned him as chief minister of Punjab. He will be our face along with Navjot Singh Sidhu which is natural," he said alleging that Rawat's statement has been misinterpreted.

"We urge the BJP, Akali Dal, BSP and AAP to stop insulting Dalits and spread lies about them," Surjewala also said.

He alleged that the BJP, SAD, AAP and BSP have "unwarrantedly, shamelessly and regrettably" attacked the candidature of Channi.

"May I ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi that you have been in power for seven long years and in a dozen states, have you ever appointed a Dalit as chief minister of BJP? No," he said, adding that Channi is the only Dalit chief minister sworn in by the Congress party.
Maksim Kimerling/Reuters
Maksim Kimerling/Reuters
18:52   All Indian students safe at Russias Perm university after shooting: Indian embassy
All Indian students studying at Russia's Perm medical university, where at least eight people were killed in a shooting incident on Monday, are safe, the Indian Embassy here has said.

Expressing shock at the "horrific" attack, the embassy also offered its deep condolences for the loss of lives in the shooting at the state university.

"Shocked at horrific attack at Perm State University in Russia; our deep condolences for the loss of life and best wishes for early recovery of those injured," the Indian Embassy in Russia tweeted.

"Embassy is in touch with local authorities and representatives of Indian students. All Indian students at Perm State Medical University are safe," it said.

At least eight people were killed and 24 injured in the shooting, Russia's state-affiliated news service Sputnik reported, citing the latest data provided by the Russian Ministry of Health.

Russian President Vladimir Putin deeply condoled with the relatives of the victims of Monday's shooting at the university in Perm, the report quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The president was informed about what happened in Perm, at the university. He instructed Prime Minister [Mikhail] Mishustin to send the ministers of education and health to Perm to organize assistance to the victims and relatives of those killed in the tragedy," Peskov said.

According to the Russian Investigative Committee, a student opened fire when he entered the territory of one of the university campus buildings. The shooter was apprehended and identified. A criminal case was launched on the count of a murder of two or more people, Russian news agency Tass reported.

Students and staff at the varsity locked themselves in rooms during the attack while videos posted on Russian news sites showed some students jumping out of second-story windows, according to a media report.

The university, which has 12,000 students enrolled, said about 3,000 people were on the campus at the time of the attack. The varsity is in the city of Perm, which is about 1,100 kilometers east of Moscow with a population of about 1 million, it said.
18:14   Kundra, his aide get bail after 2 months in jail
A magistrate court here on Monday granted bail to businessman Raj Kundra, an accused in a pornographic films case in which he was arrested two months ago.

Kundra's  associate Ryan Thorpe, who was arrested along with him in July, was also granted bail by the court.

Kundra (46) had filed a bail plea before the court, claiming there was not a single piece of evidence against him in a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the Mumbai police crime branch in the case.

The businessman, in the plea, had claimed there was no evidence of him being "actively" involved in creation of alleged questionable porn content and that he was being made a "scapegoat" in the case.

 The crime branch, probing the case, had recently filed a supplementary charge-sheet in the court against Kundra and three others in the case pertaining to alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps.

Kundra, husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, was arrested on July 19 by after being booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.
Punjab Dy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa
Punjab Dy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa
17:25   Punjab Cabinet meet at 8 pm today
Punjab Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said a formal cabinet meeting will take place at 8 pm today. On being asked if new names will be included in the state cabinet, he said, "Only High Command and CM know about the new names." 

Randhawa met with CM Charanjit Singh Channi, state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and working president Kuljit Singh Nagra this afternoon. 
17:14   The top losers in markets today
Tata Steel was the top loser in the Sensex pack, sinking nearly 10 per cent, followed by SBI, IndusInd Bank, HDFC, Dr Reddy's and M&M. On the other hand, HUL, Bajaj Finserv, ITC and HCL Tech were among the gainers.
17:07   Mapped: The CMs of Punjab
The names who headed the state of Punjab from 1966 onwards...
17:06   MeToo: NCW chief asks Sonia to sack Channi
The National Commission for Women (NCW) Chief Rekha Sharma on Monday requested Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to remove Punjab's new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi from his post "until he comes clean" as he is an accused in the Me Too movement.

Sharma claimed that Channi sent inappropriate text messages to a female IAS officer in 2018, and was accused in 2018. 

Expressing her disappointment, Sharma in an interview with ANI requested Sonia Gandhi to remove Charanjit Singh Channi from his post of Punjab CM until he came clean.

Calling Channi a threat to women, Sharma said, "Today, he has been made Punjab CM by a party that is headed by a woman. It is betrayal. He is a threat to women safety. An enquiry should be conducted against him. If he doesn't come clean, he is not worthy to be CM. I urge Sonia Gandhi to remove him from the CM post."

She added, "Allegations were levelled against him (Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi) during Me Too movement in 2018. The State Women Commission had taken a suo moto cognizance of the matter and the chairperson sat on a dharna demanding his removal but nothing happened."
17:00   A Modern-Day Mumbai Miracle
What does one say to a woman who has donated land worth 120 crore (approximately USD 16 million) to a hospital without wanting anyone to know about her act of staggering altruism? 

A woman who hails from an ordinary middle-class family, one which is certainly not steeped in wealth, who says that she does not expect anything in return for her largesse, not even any personal acclaim?

Read the column here.
16:55   Complete Mumbai-Goa highway first, HC tells Maha
Questioning the slow pace of lane widening of Mumbai-Goa highway, the Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to review the ongoing construction work by December and complete the project at the earliest. 

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni further said the court will not permit the government to begin any new development project until this highway widening work was completed. 

It also directed the state government to fix potholes on the highway within three weeks to avoid accidents. 

"Unless you complete this project, we will not let you start any other project. Let the public reap the benefits of this project first," HC told the state's counsel Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni. 

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Owais Pechkar, a regular commuter on Mumbai-Goa highway, who sought directions from the court to the state and Central authorities to repair potholes on the highway, which was prone to accidents.
16:42   India likely to get 30 cr vax stock in Nov: Govt
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on the vaccination drive: "We expect to get more than 30 crores doses of COVID vaccine next month. The production will go up as Biological E & other companies are bringing their vaccines into the market. 

"The vaccination drive is gaining speed. We administered 10 vaccine doses in 11 days and on four days, we administered more than one crore vaccine doses every day. Even today, the vaccination numbers are expected to cross one crore."
15:46   Didi asked me to sing: Supriyo on meeting Mamata
Former Union minister Babul Supriyo, who joined the Trinamool Congress last week, met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday. Supriyo, the BJP MP from Asansol, visited state secretariat Nabanna to meet Banerjee.

 "It was great meeting 'Didi'. We had a very good discussion. I thanked her for giving me an opportunity to work for Bengal and serve the people. I am really touched by the affection and warmth of 'Didi' and Abhishek Banerjee," he told reporters after the meeting. 

 Asked about his role in the TMC, Supriyo said it was for the party to decide. "I have nothing to say about it. It is for the party and our supremo Mamata Banerjee to decide. It is her prerogative," he said. 

"She asked me to work with all my heart and sing with all my heart which I think is icing on the cake. She said 'Pujor samayo tumi gaan karo' (Sing during puja).

"We had a very musical talk, at the same time whatever she said was really music to my ears."

 This was Supriyo's first meeting with Banerjee after he joined the TMC on Saturday.
15:13   Lunch with three Economics Nobel Laureates looks like this...
Actress Nandana Sen tweets this memorable photograph with her father and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, writing, "Two #Nobel Laureates at lunch is where I draw the line,' said my husband John. "But today we are eating with THREE?' :-) " Such lovely September afternoon, excessive Nobels notwithstanding! 
"Photos: John Makinson 
 #AmartyaSen #AbhijitBanerjee #EstherDuflo @NobelPrize."

From left to right are: Esther Duflo, Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee and Nandana. Duflo and Banerjee (who are married to each other) won the Nobel Prize in Economics, along with economist Michael Kremer, for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty" in 2019.

Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his theoretical, field, and ethics work in welfare economics and for his research advancing the understanding of social-choice theory, poverty, and the measurement of welfare. 
14:59   No ceasefire violation along LoC in Kashmir since Feb
There has been no ceasefire violation along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir since the reiteration of the agreement between the armies of India and Pakistan in February this year, a top Army official here said on Monday. 

General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps or Chinar Corps, Lt Gen D P Pandey, said there have been some infiltration attempts, but unlike previous years they have not been adequately supported by ceasefire violations. The ceasefire violations have not increased. 

"This year there has been none (ceasefire violation). At least in the Kashmir Valley, there has been zero," the GoC told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar. 

 Lt Gen Pandey said while there has been no instigation from Pakistan, the Indian Army is totally alert and prepared to respond appropriately to any ceasefire violation. 

 "We are totally prepared for ceasefire violations, if anything happens, we are all set to respond appropriately. But, frankly, there has been no instigation from across the border," he said. 

 Asked about infiltration attempts made by militants from across the LoC this year, the Army officer said there have hardly been any successful attempts. 

"There have been some attempts. Unlike previous years, these have not been adequately supported (by ceasefire violations). There have hardly been any successful attempts, only about two attempts have succeeded. One was neutralised in Bandipora and we are looking for the second one," he said.
14:25   Mapped: Covid cases across India
Kerala still leads the pack as Tamil Nadu's cases increase.
14:21   Gujarat CM to meet PM, Rajnath, Nadda in Delhi
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at 4 pm.

He will also meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President JP Nadda at 6 pm in the national capital.

 This will be Patel's first meeting with the country's top leadership, after assuming the Chief Minister's post. 

He reached Garvi Gujarat Bhavan at 10 am today.

During his visit, he first met President Ram Nath Kovind. His courtesy call on the President lasted about 20 minutes.

"Bhupendra Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, called on President Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan," tweeted Rashtrapati Bhavan.
14:13   Minor rape victims moving Ker HC for terminating pregnancies
More and more minor rape victims are knocking on the doors of the Kerala High Court seeking medical termination of their pregnancies which were a result of the sexual assault on them.

In September itself there have been at least three such cases in the high court, which allowed the plea for abortion in two of them after a medical board recommended termination of the pregnancy. 

In one, the high court had permitted abortion last week and in the other on Monday, saying that freedom of a pregnant woman in making a choice as to whether the pregnancy should be continued cannot be taken away. In both these cases the pregnancy was way above 20 weeks, the maximum limit prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy of Act for aborting a foetus. However, in both cases, the medical board was of the view the continuing with the pregnancy would affect the mental and physical health of the minor rape victims. In both cases, the board also said that the foetus might survive the process, prompting the court to direct the hospital authorities to ensure the baby's life is protected. The court also directed the hospital, in both cases, to preserve blood and tissue samples of the foetus to carry out necessary medical tests, including DNA mapping. In the third case, which came up before the high court on Monday, the plea said that while the pregnancy was just 8 weeks old, the hospital authorities were refusing to abort the foetus as the minor girl was a rape victim.
13:27   Punjab CM waives water, light bills for farmers
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi gets emotional while addressing his first press conference in Chandigarh and makes an important announcement. 

Saying, that the Congress has made a common man the chief minister (I am the Aam Aadmi sitting here while other parties only talk), he took a dig at Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, which has been making unsuccessful forays for power in Punjab.  

He announced that the Punjab government stands with the farmers. "We appeal to the Centre to withdraw the three farm laws. We will waive water and electricity bills of farmers," the CM said. 

On a conciliatory note to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chhani said, "Captain Amarinder Singh did a lot of good work for the people of Punjab. We will take forward his work."
13:18   Rahul attends Punjab CM swearing in
Rahul Gandhi attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new Punjab CM,  Charanjit Singh Channi.
The new Punjab CM (seated) with Navjot Singh Sidhu
The new Punjab CM (seated) with Navjot Singh Sidhu
12:55   Will continue to work with Punjab: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Charanjit Singh Channi on being sworn-in as Punjab chief minister, and said the Centre will continue to work with his government for the betterment of the people of the state. 

 Congress leader Channi was sworn in as chief minister of Punjab, making him the first Dalit to hold the top post in the state.

 Modi tweeted, "Congratulations to Shri Charanjit Singh Channi Ji on being sworn-in as Punjab's Chief Minister. Will continue to work with the Punjab government for the betterment of the people of Punjab." PTI
12:46   Akhtar vs Ranaut: Case adjourned to Nov 15
Actor Kangana Ranaut appeared before  the Andheri court today in a defamation case filed against her by lyricist Javed Akhtar.  The case has been adjourned till 15th November. Ranaut's lawyer has filed a transfer application in the case which will be heard on 1st October.
12:42   Mooh meetha for Sidhu, centrestage in Punjab politics now
Charanjit Singh Channi takes charge as Punjab CM. Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat congratulate him along with other Congress leaders. 
12:18   Javed Akhtar case: Kangana appears in court
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut appeared before a Mumbai court on Monday in connection with a criminal defamation complaint filed against her by lyricist Javed Akhtar. 

 The court had last week said it will issue a warrant against Ranaut if she fails to appear on the next date of hearing on September 20. 

 Ranaut appeared before the metropolitan magistrate's court on Monday for the first time since summons was issued to her in February this year. 

 Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court dismissed a plea filed by Ranaut seeking quashing of proceedings initiated against her by the local court on the criminal defamation complaint filed by Akhtar. 

 Justice Revati Mohite-Dere had said in the order that there was no procedural illegality or irregularity in the metropolitan magistrate's order initiating the proceedings. 

 Akhtar (76) had filed the complaint in the court in November last year, claiming Ranaut had made defamatory statements against him in a television interview, which allegedly damaged his reputation.

In his complaint, Akhtar claimed that Ranaut dragged his name during an interview while referring to a 'coterie' existing in Bollywood, following the alleged suicide committed by actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June last year. PTI
11:37   Punjab Congress leader resigns
Another loss for the Congress party in Punjab: Ajay Vir Jakhar tweets his resignation: "Have tendered my resignation as Chairman, Punjab State Farmers and Farm Workers Commission due to the changed circumstances in the state."

Ajay Vir Jakhar is also the grandson of the late Congress strongman Balram Jakhar, who was the longest serving Speaker of the Lok Sabha. 
11:33   Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab CM
Congress MLA Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab CM at Raj Bhawan.  OP Soni and Sukhjinder S Randhawa also took oath as Punjab ministers.
Charanjeet Singh Channi (right) with Navjot Singh Sidhu
Charanjeet Singh Channi (right) with Navjot Singh Sidhu
11:19   Punjab CM-designate reaches Raj Bhawan
Chief Minister-designate Charanjeet Singh Channi has reached Raj Bhawan for his swearing-in ceremony. Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, state in-charge Harish Rawat and senior party leader Sunil Jakhar have also arrived, besides other MLAs of the party.  Channi, a minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet, is known to be close to Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu.
10:56   Female teachers worried about their future in Afghanistan
Female teachers are uncertain about their future in Afghanistan after the Ministry of Education issued a notice calling on male students and male teachers from grades seven to 12 to return to school.

This came into effect on Saturday, Ariana News reported. The notice did not mention female students and teachers, nor did it give any indication of what would happen in future to the hundreds of thousands of girls in secondary school.

Many female teachers have said that they are the only breadwinners in their families Ariana News quoting Khatara, a Grade 12 Pashto subject teacher at the Bibi Sara Khairkhana school in Kabul, said that the Kabul Education Department had asked her not to return to school until further notice and that the education process for girls in Grades 7 and above had stopped.
10:35   Rahul likely to attend swearing in of Punjab CM
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is likely to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Charanjit Singh Channi as chief minister of Punjab on Monday, party sources said. 

Channi, who is set to take oath at 11 am, paid obeisance at a gurdwara in Chamkaur Sahib in Rupnagar district on Monday morning. He will be the first Dalit to hold the post in the state. 

The Congress on Sunday picked Channi as the next chief minister of Punjab. After having picked Channi as the next chief minister of Punjab, the Congress is likely to pick two senior leaders from the state as Deputy CMs. 

 A tweet from senior Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is AICC treasurer, revealed the names of two senior leaders and outgoing ministers in the previous Amarinder Singh's cabinet -- Brahm Mohindra and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa -- as the party's choice for the Deputy chief minister's posts. 

 While Mohindra is the Hindu face of the party, Randhawa is the Jat face. Mohindra was considered a close confidant of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Heartiest congratulations to @Charanjit channi for elevation as#PunjabCM and@Brahm Mohindra & @Sukhjinder INC as Dy CMs. Best wishes for their grand success in the services of Punjab under the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Sh @ Rahul Gandhi, Bansal, a former MP from Chandigarh, tweeted. 

 Channi on Sunday had met Governor Banwarilal Purohit to stake claim to the top job in the poll-bound state soon after being elected as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Amarinder Singh was nudged into quitting ostensibly over his failure to fulfil the promises made by the party in the 2017 assembly polls.PTI
10:24   Punjab CM-elect to meet Amarinder this afternoon
More from Punjab: Charanjit Channi is going to meet Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat right now, after which he will go to Raj Bhawan for the oath-taking ceremony. Channi will meet Captain Amarinder Singh in the afternoon.
10:09   I'm baffled: Cong leader on polls under Sidhu
The Congress party continues to stumble in Punjab. 

Congress leader Sunil Jakhar takes umbrage at Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat's statement that the state elections will be fought under PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Sunil Jakhar said, "On the swearing-in day of Charanjit Channi as CM, Mr Rawats's statement that 'elections will be fought under Sidhu', is baffling. It's likely to undermine CM's authority but also negate the very 'raison d'etre' of his selection for this position."

 Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat on Sunday said that the upcoming state assembly elections will be fought under Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu who is "very popular", given the state's present political circumstances.

The recent clash and the public humiliation faced by Capt Amarinder Singh lay in, among other factors, the decision of several MLAs to get the Punjab polls fought under Sidhu.  
09:51   Sensex tumbles over 350 points in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex slumped over 350 points in early trade on Monday, tracking losses in index majors Tata Steel, HDFC twins and ICICI Bank amid thin trade in global markets. 

The 30-share Sensex was trading 355.27 points or 0.60 per cent lower at 58,660.62. 

Similarly, Nifty fell 108.50 points or 0.62 per cent to 17,476.65 in initial deals. 

 Tata Steel was the top loser in the Sensex pack, sinking nearly 6 per cent, followed by Bajaj Auto, M&M, HDFC, PowerGrid and Maruti. On the other hand, Tech Mahindra, HUL, HCL Tech and TCS were among the gainers.
Get vaccinated the moment you are eligible
Get vaccinated the moment you are eligible
09:30   4,45,133 people have died of Covid in India so far
The Covid count is here:

India reports 30,256 fresh cases of Covid-19, 43,938 recoveries, and 295 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Total cases: 33,478,419 
Total Active cases: 3,18,181 
Total Recoveries: 3,27,15,105 
Total Death toll: 4,45,133  
Total vaccination : 80,85,68,144 (37,78,296 in last 24 hours)
09:26   What Congress fears the most from Amarinder's exit
While on Punjab, read this: The rapidly unfolding events in Punjab are likely to have wide ramifications for the Congress with party insiders fearing a groundswell of dissension in other states following the "unsavoury" exit of Amarinder Singh as chief minister. 

Full story here. 
09:21   Punjab to have two deputy CMs: Harish Rawat
After Congress announced Charanjit Singh Channi as the new chief minister of Punjab on Sunday, the state party in-charge Harish Rawat said that there will be two deputy chief ministers in the state.

Speaking to ANI, Harish Rawat said, "There will be two deputy chief ministers in the Punjab government. There is a Sikh community in the state, so now one deputy chief minister will be from Jat Sikh community and the other will be from the Hindu community."

Sources say among two Deputy chief ministers; one will be a Jat Sikh for which MLA from Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa's name is being considered while from Hindu community probables include Brahm Singh Mohindra (MLA from Patiala rural), Vijay Inder Singla (MLA from Sangrur) and Bharat Bhushan Ashu (Punjab Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs Minister).

If the second name of deputy chief minister gets finalised then along with Channi, two deputy CMs will take the oath on Monday.

However, if the decision on deputy CMs is delayed then they will be administered the oath later.

Charanjit Singh Channi is scheduled to take the oath at 11 am today as the 16th chief minister of the state.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Charanjit Singh Channi as Punjab's new chief minister in Chandigarh, sources told ANI.

They further informed that the gathering at the ceremony will be small consisting of 40 people.

Amarinder Singh on Saturday stepped down from the post of Punjab chief minister following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.   -- ANI

IMAGE: Punjab CM-Designate Charanjit Singh Channi with Punjab Congress President Navjot Sidhu and senior party leader Harish Rawat outside Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh, on Sunday. Photograph: PTI Photo
Kirit Somaiya. Photo: Deepak Salvi/ANI
Kirit Somaiya. Photo: Deepak Salvi/ANI
08:45   BJP leader Kirit Somaiya detained in Karad
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya was detained at Karad Railway Station in Satara district of Maharashtra in the early hours of Monday.

Somaiya was expected to visit Kohlapur today.

He was en route the district via train.

Ahead of his visit, Kolhapur District Collector had issued prohibitory orders against him and imposed Section 144, prohibiting gatherings on September 20 and 21.

The BJP leader on Sunday had alleged that he was detained at his residence in Mumbai.

Speaking to reporters, he had lashed out at the Maharashtra government and asked who gave the orders of restricting him from going out of Mumbai.

"Thackeray government said you cannot go out of Mumbai. Who gave this order?" asked Somaiya when he was en route to Kolhapur.

He was scheduled to visit the properties owned by Maharashtra Minister Hasan Mushrif in which he claims corruption has taken place.

Somaiya tweeted yesterday: 'Thackeray Sarkar Dadagiri, Notice is for Kolhapur District NO ENTRY, but not allowing Me to move out from My House. Not allowing to go for Ganesh Visarjan. Mulund Police wants to ARREST Me, but No Warrant, No's total illegal.'

Earlier, Somaiya had levelled allegations of money laundering against Maharashtra Cabinet Ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Anil Parab.  -- ANI