Wed, 22 September 2021
Mutual vaccine recognition eases int'l travel: Modi

Timeline  Refresh

23:47   Bhagwat releases sign language version of RSS prayer
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday released a video of the sign language version of the organization's prayer made by a couple here.

He met Gyanendra Purohit and his wife Monika Purohit, who are sign language experts, during his visit here and informally released the video on the couple's YouTube channel, said a local Sangh office-bearer.

Bhagwat met people from different sections of society here on Tuesday and Wednesday but there was no public program or meeting in view of the COVID-19 restrictions, he added.
ANI Photo/Twitter
ANI Photo/Twitter
23:36   Mutual vaccine recognition eases int'l travel: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that international travel should be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, amid several countries adopting different sets of rules to allow foreigners to enter their territory in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his video remarks at the Global COVID Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Modi also said India is ramping up production capacity of existing vaccines and the supply chains of raw materials must be kept open so that vaccine supplies to other countries can be resumed.

"We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic's economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier, through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates," Modi said.

His remarks comes on a day when the UK government issued an updated international travel advisory to include AstraZeneca Covishield among the eligible COVID-19 vaccine formulations but kept India out of the 18 countries on an approved vaccinations list, requiring Indians to follow rules set out for "non-vaccinated" travellers.

Despite the inclusion of Covishield, Indian travellers are not exempt from the quarantine rules under the UK's new international travel norms that will come into force from October 4.

On Monday, the US had announced a new international travel system under which fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to enter the country beginning early November.

Former US 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. The new system adopted by the Biden administration essentially lifts the travel ban on countries like India that the US had earlier enforced.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Modi said that India is ramping up production capacity of existing vaccines.

"As newer Indian vaccines get developed, we are also ramping up production capacity of existing vaccines. As our production increases, we will be able to resume vaccine supplies to others too. For this, the supply chains of raw materials must be kept open," Modi said.

With our Quad partners, we are leveraging India's manufacturing strengths to produce vaccines for the Indo-Pacific region, Modi said, adding that India and South Africa have proposed a TRIPS waiver at the WTO for COVID vaccines, diagnostics and medicines.

This, he said, will enable rapid scaling up of the fight against the pandemic.

India stopped the export of COVID-19 vaccines after the second wave of the pandemic hit the country in April this year.

On Monday, India said that it will resume export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the ''Vaccine Maitri'' programme and to meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool.

COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed India's decision to resume COVID-19 vaccine exports as an important development in support of the goal to reach 40 per cent vaccination in all countries by end of the year.

Informing the summit participants that India is now running the world's largest vaccination campaign, Modi said that over 200 million Indians are now fully vaccinated.

"Recently, we vaccinated about 25 million people on a single day. Our grassroots level healthcare system has delivered over 800 million vaccine doses so far, he said, adding this has been enabled through the use of India's innovative digital platform called CO-WIN.

In the spirit of sharing, India has made CO-WIN and many other digital solutions available freely as open-source software, Modi said.

Welcoming the timely initiative of Biden, Modi said that India has always seen humanity as one family. India's pharmaceutical industry has produced cost-effective diagnostic kits, drugs, medical devices, and PPE kits. These, he noted, are providing affordable options to many developing countries.

"We've shared medicines and medical supplies with over 150 nations. Two indigenously developed vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorisation in India including the world's first DNA-based vaccine. Several Indian companies are also involved in licensed production of various vaccines, he added.

"Earlier this year, we shared our vaccine production with 95 other countries, and with UN peacekeepers. And, like a family, the world also stood with India when we were going through a second wave, the prime minister said, acknowledging the help provided by the international community to India in the hour of its crisis.

"For the solidarity and support extended to India, I thank you all, he said.
22:53   Mundra heroin haul: 8, including 4 Afghans, held
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has so far arrested eight persons including five foreign nationals in connection with the seizure of a staggering 2,988 kg of heroin at Mundra Port in Gujarat, an official release said here on Wednesday.

Those arrested included an Indian couple who allegedly ran the firm which had imported the consignment claiming it to be of  `semi-processed talc stones'.

The drug haul is considered to be one of the biggest in the world with the value of the seized heroin estimated to be Rs 21,000 crore in the international markets. One kg of the drug sells at Rs 5 to 7 crore.

"A total of eight persons including four Afghan nationals, one Uzbek and three Indians have been arrested so far. The arrested Indian nationals include the holder of the Import Export Code (IEC) which was used to import the consignment. He was arrested from Chennai. Investigations are in progress," said the statement issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Indian government.

Following the seizure of an astounding quantity of heroin from two containers which had arrived at Mundra Port in Kutch district a few days back, the DRI conducted raids across the country and seized another 16.1 kg of heroin from a godown in Delhi, it said.

It took the total heroin seizure in the case to 3,004 kg, said the release.

The agency also recovered 10.2 kg of suspected cocaine and 11 kg of another substance suspected to be heroin from "a residential place in Noida", it added.

On September 13, the DRI detained two containers that had arrived at Mundra Port from Kandahar in Afghanistan via Bandar Abbas port of Iran. The declaration accompanying the containers claimed that they contained "semi-processed talc stones".

On September 17 and 19 it established that the two containers in fact contained heroin which was concealed in "the lower layers" of "jumbo bags" topped with talc stones, the release said. The drug had to be "painstakingly separated from the talc stones," it added.

The DRI then arrested -- from Chennai --  M Sudhakar and his wife Durga Vaishali who allegedly ran Vijayawada-registered M/S Aashi Trading Company which had imported the consignment of `talc stones'.

On Monday, a special court for cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in Bhuj remanded the couple in 10-day custody of the DRI. 
Photograph: V S Anandakrishna
Photograph: V S Anandakrishna
22:25   Actor Meera Mithun granted bail
Holding that 'erring' is human nature, a lower court in the city on Wednesday granted bail to actor Meera Mithun alias Tamil Selvi and her associate, who were arrested for uttering certain remarks against Dalits and imprisoned for about a month.

As per the prosecution case, the accused released the video footage in the social media containing speeches, which insulted the entire Scheduled Caste community.

Though there were some words uttered by Mithun, the other petitioner also accompanied as a co-actor. Anyhow, they were in custody for nearly five weeks. Penal provisions cannot be invoked at the time of bail. It can be proved by the prosecution during the trial. Since they are in custody for five weeks and the fact that to err is human nature, this court is inclined to grant bail, Principal Sessions Judge R Selvakumar said.

Accordingly, the petitioners are ordered to be released on bail on their executing a bond for Rs10,000 each with two sureties each for a like sum to the satisfaction of the court.

They should appear before the police daily at 10.30 a.m. until further orders and not tamper with the evidence or witness either during investigation or trial, the court ruled.

They should not abscond either during investigation or trial. On breach of any of these conditions, the trial court is entitled to take appropriate action against them in accordance with law, the PSJ added. 
Representational pic
Representational pic
21:41   Haryana sets up probe into Karnal lathi-charge
The Haryana government on Wednesday set up a Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired high court judge to probe into the police lathi-charge last month at a group of farmers protesting against the three central farm laws.

The judicial probe panel will be headed by Justice (Retd) Somnath Aggarwal, a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a state government statement said.

The Commission of Inquiry will probe into the sequence of August 28 events in which about 10 protesters were hurt in the clash with the police in Karnal when they tried to march towards the venue of a BJP meeting.

While ordering the lathi charge, the then Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, a 2018-batch IAS officer, was caught on tape purportedly telling policemen to "break the heads" of farmers if they cross the line.

Following the incident, farmers had been demanding suspension of Sinha, who was on September 2, transferred out of Karnal and posted as additional secretary of Citizen Resources Information Department of Haryana.

The decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry to probe into the August 28 lathi charge at Bastara Toll Plaza was taken in a Cabinet meeting, chaired by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

The government set up the probe panel in a bid to ensure fair and transparent inquiry to ascertain the sequence of events leading to incidents at Bastara Toll Plaza in Karnal on August 28, an official statement said here.

The Commission of Inquiry will inquire into the circumstances leading up to and including the action by the police at Karnal on August 28, and the use of force against the demonstrators, the statement said.

The Commission will also identify persons responsible for the said situation and will further inquire into the role of (IAS officer) Ayush Sinha, the then sub-divisional magistrate, Karnal, in the action by the police on August 28, it said.

The commission will complete the probe and submit its report to the state government within a month.

The Haryana government had earlier this month ordered a magisterial probe into last month's clash between farmers and police and had sent the allegedly erring IAS officer on leave. Following this, farmers had called off their sit-in outside the Karnal district headquarters.

Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh had earlier said the probe will be conducted by a retired judge and will be completed within a month. Former SDM Ayush Sinha will remain on leave during the time, he had said. 
21:22   FIR agains BJP's Pravin Darekar over 'painted cheeks' remark against NCP
A case was registered on Wednesday against Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, Pravin Darekar, here for allegedly saying that NCP would "kiss any painted cheeks" on a complaint of a party leader, a police officer said.

An FIR was registered at the Sinhgad Road police station under section 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Rupali Chakankar lodged a complaint.

Speaking at a programme in Pune's Shirur tehsil, Darekar had said in Marathi that the NCP is the party of the people who are powerful, established and well-connected. "The NCP is the party that would kiss painted cheeks".

Chakankar had alleged Darekar insulted the women of Maharashtra with his remarks and asked him to apologise or "face consequences".

She said Darekar's party (BJP) has a history of disrespecting women and he continued with it.
"We have registered an FIR under section 509 of the IPC against Darekar. The case has been transferred to Shirur for further probe," said Devidas Gheware, senior police inspector, Sinhgad police station.
21:08   Issue with vax certification, not Covishield: UK
In the midst of a growing outcry in India over the UK's new travel rules, British officials on Wednesday suggested that the main issue is COVID-19 vaccine certification and not the Covishield vaccine and both sides are moving at "great speed" to resolve the matter.

Following India's strong criticism over the UK's refusal to recognise Covishield, London on Wednesday amended its new guidelines to include the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine in its updated international travel advisory.

However, Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield will still have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the UK notwithstanding the amendment, the officials clarified saying the inclusion of the vaccine will not make much of a difference.

There is no official reaction by India on the inclusion of Covishield to the approved list of vaccines by the UK.

Asked whether Covishield was added to the list because of strong reactions in India, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said the vaccine is not an issue.

"We listen very carefully to what the Indian government says but ministers have to take decisions and they have been clear that Covishield is not an issue," he told NDTV.

On whether the problem is with the vaccine certification, Ellis only said that the UK government is trying to understand how the Indian COVID vaccine app works and that it is a two-way process.

He said the UK government is letting India know how its COVID app functions, adding both sides are going through a normal technical process to resolve any issue.

"This is happening at an extraordinary speed," he said.

National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma, however, said he was not aware of any concerns being raised by the UK about COVID vaccine certification by India, asserting that the Co-WIN system is WHO-compliant.

"I am not aware of any concerns being raised by the UK. The British High Commissioner met me on September 2 and wanted to know details about the Co-WIN system.

"So we connected their technical team with our technical teams which had two rounds of discussion with the second one being just yesterday. They have conveyed to us there is no need for any further discussion as all information has been exchanged between the two parties," Sharma told PTI.

According to new rules, Indian travellers who received both doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.

In a strong reaction, India had on Tuesday warned of "reciprocal measures" if the UK does not address its concerns over the new travel rules relating to COVID-19 vaccine certification with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla describing these norms as "discriminatory".

Referring to the latest guidelines issued by the UK government that will come into effect on October 4, another UK official said that London does not have any problem with the Covishield vaccine but there are certain issues related to vaccine certification in India.

The official said the UK is engaging with the government of India to explore how it could expand its recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India.

Quoting new guidelines, the official said Indian travellers to the UK must follow the "non-vaccinated rules" set out by the authorities.

Asked whether the UK had doubts about India's vaccine certification process, the British High Commissioner did not give a direct reply and talked about the new travel policy.

"It is a very new policy. It takes a bit of time to work through and what we have learnt in the course of the last 18 months is that what happens in the UK affects India's public health and what happens in India affects the UK's public health because of the fantastic movement of people between the two countries," he said.

The new British rules have triggered massive criticism in India.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar also took up the issue of Covishield-vaccinated travellers being required to quarantine in the UK with newly-appointed British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss at a meeting in New York on Tuesday.

"The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health," a spokesperson in the British High Commission said.

"We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India," the official said.
20:24   Mahant Narendra Giri cremated in Allahabad
The last rites of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri were performed here on Wednesday at Baghambari Muth, where the seer was buried in samadhi two days after he was found dead by his disciples.

Earlier in the day, a panel of five doctors conducted an autopsy, after which the body was given a bath at the Sangam, the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati rivers.

The seer was given the "bhoo samadhi" under a lemon tree in the Muth around 3 pm.

The post-mortem examination lasted for about two-and-a-half-hours and the report was handed over to senior police officials in a sealed cover.

There was heavy deployment of security personnel at the site where the autopsy was conducted.

Meanwhile in Meerut, UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu demanded a CBI probe into the death under the supervision of the High Court.

Speaking to reporters, he alleged that the state government is misleading followers of the seer and efforts are being made to hide the truth.

How did police reach the conclusion whether it was a suicide or murder without conducting a post-mortem, he said.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had on Tuesday said all aspects related to the death are being investigated and the guilty will not be spared.

The Uttar Pradesh Police had constituted an 18-member SIT to probe the death of the seer.

His disciple Anand Giri was detained in Haridwar. He was produced in a court in Allahabad on Wednesday.

Earlier, a purported suicide note was found, in which the seer wrote that Anand Giri was trying to blackmail him using a morphed picture of a woman.

The seer purportedly wrote that he would rather die with dignity than face this false accusation.

On Tuesday, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had paid their respects to the seer at the Muth.

The seer, who was the president of the largest organisation of sadhus in India, was found hanging by his disciples on Monday.
20:04   HC bars Shirdi temple trust from policy decisions
The police in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district have arrested six persons for allegedly defaming the chairman and a member of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) committee by sharing CCTV footage of their inspection at the temple in Shirdi and passing it off as a COVID-19 violation, an official said on Wednesday.

According to the police, the accused had shared photos, CCTV footage and content about the chairman and committee member's administrative visit to the temple with YouTube media channels and tried to pass it off as a COVID-19 violation.

The principal district and sessions judge of Ahmednagar is the chairman of the temple committee, while the assistant charity commissioner is a member of the trust.

The police on Tuesday arrested Rajendra Jagtap, an administrative officer of the temple trust, Vinod Kote, in-charge of the temple's CCTV department, temple trust employee Chetak Sable, Ajit Jagtap, an office-bearer of temple trust's employee's society and Sachin Gavhane and Rahul Funde, both part-time employees of the trust, the official said.

A case has been registered against the accused under sections 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant) and other relevant provisions of the IPC, Information Technology Act and Officials Secrets Act, he said.

The trust committee chairman and the member had visited the temple for an inspection on July 31, he said.

"The accused shared some photos and CCTV footage of the chairman and member conducting an inspection near Saibaba Samadhi Mandir with some YouTube portal journalists and passed the visit off as a COVID-19 violation," the official said.

By sharing the photos and CCTV footage, the accused had spread misleading and defamatory content alleging that while the temple had been closed for common people due to the pandemic, the chairman and member of the trust committee were allowed to enter the temple for 'darshan', he said.

The accused were produced before a court, which has remanded them to police custody till September 25.
19:39   Rupee slumps 26 paise against the dollar, closes at nearly 4-week low
The rupee declined by 26 paise to close at a nearly four-week low of 73.87 against the US currency on Wednesday due to a stronger dollar in overseas markets ahead of the outcome of the US Fed meeting and worries over China's Evergrande situation.

Forex traders said investors are awaiting cues on taper timeline and US Fed's projections on interest rates. The US Fed meeting outcome will be announced later in the day.

At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened at 73.70 and witnessed an intra-day high of 73.66 and a low of 73.93 against the US dollar in day trade.

The local unit finally settled at 73.87 a dollar, the lowest closing level since August 26. On Tuesday, the rupee had settled at 73.61 against the US dollar.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, was trading 0.02 per cent higher at 93.22.

"The Indian Rupee depreciated against the dollar on Wednesday, tracking losses in regional currencies. Most Asian currencies were weaker ahead of the Fed decision and worries about the China's Evergrande situation and weighed on the local unit," said Sriram Iyer, Senior Research Analyst at Reliance Securities.

Investors are wary of the Fed meeting tonight and some are expecting that the Federal Reserve could provide more hints about scaling back its asset purchases later.

"Tonight's Fed meeting will be watched closely. The market is expecting US Fed to announce a timeline on taper, issue inflation forecast, and update its interest rate projection via dot plot. We expect USDINR to remain within a range of 73.40-74.20 over the near term," said Anindya Banerjee, DVP, Currency Derivatives & Interest Rate Derivatives at Kotak Securities Ltd.

Meanwhile, HDFC Bank economists in a report said that the rupee can come under pressure as emerging market currencies face headwinds because of the events surrounding Evergrande in China.

"We remain cautious over this turning into a broader risk-off scenario, which could mean increased pressure on EM currencies, including the INR (rupee), while the dollar remains bid," the report by a team led by Abheek Barua said.
19:29   Rahul-Priyanka inexperienced, misguided: Amarinder
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday called Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra "inexperienced", and said he will pit a strong candidate against state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in the upcoming Assembly polls.

Amarinder Singh had resigned as the Punjab CM recently amid infighting in the state Congress and had called Sidhu "anti-national" and "dangerous".

In a series of interviews, Singh said he will fight Sidhu's elevation to the Punjab chief ministership "tooth and nail", adding that he was ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from such a "dangerous man".

Amarinder Singh said he will pit a strong candidate against the PPCC president in the 2022 Assembly polls to ensure his defeat, according to a statement.

Singh said he had even told Congress president Sonia Gandhi that he was ready to hang his boots and allow someone else to take over as the CM after leading the Congress to another sweeping win in Punjab.

"But that did not happen, so I will fight," he asserted.
19:16   CBSE uses Blockchain tech for class 10, 12 board exam results documents
The Central Board of Secondary Education has come up with a solution called 'academic documents' using Blockchain technology to record its result certificates in a linked chain structure and provide transparent, tamper proof and paperless usage of these certificates.

According to officials, the result certificates are kept in a distributed manner at different locations involving multiple stakeholders, protecting them against any attempt of tampering, under this technology.

Blockchain technology ensures that academic documents are recorded in a secure and tamper proof manner. These documents can be accessed online in a trusted and verifiable manner.

The 'Academic BlockChain Document' can be used by various educational institutes for verification at the time of admission for higher studies as well as by companies for job offers.

"CBSE's Academic (BlockChain) Documents or ABCD has been established using Blockchain technology to record the certificates in a linked chain structure. To begin with, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made available digitally signed certificates of class 10 and 12 for years 2019-2021 and will gradually push the certificates of previous years in the coming months.

"Upon issuance of new certificates by CBSE, the digitally signed certificates will be sent to the Blockchain-based system creating an additional secure link," a senior official of the CBSE said.

This network is established with nodes at Bengaluru, Pune and Jaipur. Presently, the certificate chain is managed by NIC at its data centres.
18:26   NIA grills 15 in Jamaat e Islami terror fund case
A month after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out record searches at 61 premises of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) cadres in Jammu and Kashmir's 14 districts in two consecutive days, the Central agency is now engaged in "building up" the case and has been examining nearly 15 suspects in the case.

The JeI suspect is being grilled for the last four-five days at NIA headquarters here in the Lodhi Road area near the Central Government Offices (CGO) complex, an NIA official told ANI.

These suspects are among those JeI cadres whose residential premises were raided by the NIA sleuths during August 8-9 at the 61 locations in Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri districts in Jammu and Kashmir in the JeI terror funding case, informed NIA officials.

The official said, "Around 14-15 suspects are being questioned regarding the documents seized from their premises during the raids. They mainly belong to Ganderbal, Bandipora, and Kupwara districts in Kashmir Valley and a few of them are from the Jammu region's Doda and Kishtwar districts."

The official further said that "The JeI suspects will be questioned for at least one more week."

"As we (NIA) are done with searches, the suspects are currently being examined with the documents recovered from their houses. This is just a preliminary examination in the case and We are trying to build up the case further," the official said.

The NIA along with Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had conducted searches at 56 locations on August 8 at 14 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. In continuation of the searches, the NIA sleuths further conducted searches at five more locations on August 9.

The searches included the premises of office bearers of the JeI, its members, and also offices of trusts purportedly run by the proscribed organization. Various incriminating documents and electronic devices were seized from the premises of the suspects.

The JeI is an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banned the organisation on February 28, 2019.

The case was registered by the NIA on February 5 this year in pursuance to order from the MHA relating to separatist and secessionist activities of JeI even after its proscription.

NIA investigation has so far revealed that the members of JeI have been collecting funds domestically and abroad through donations particularly in the form of Zakat, Mowda, and Bait-ul-Mal purportedly to further charity and other welfare activities but these funds are instead being used for violent and secessionist activities.

The funds raised by JeI are also being channelised to proscribed terrorist organisations such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and others through well organised networks of JeI cadres, as per the probe.

JeI has also been motivating the impressionable youth of Kashmir and recruiting new members ( Rukuns) in Jammu and Kashmir to participate in disruptive secessionist activities.
Punit Goenka will head the new venture
Punit Goenka will head the new venture
17:32   Zee shares zoom nearly 32% after Sony merger
Shares of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited on Wednesday zoomed nearly 32 per cent after announcement of a merger with Sony Pictures.

 Leading media firms Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures on Wednesday said they have received in-principle approval for a merger that will combine both companies' linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries. 

 The stock jumped 31.86 per cent to close at Rs 337.10 on the BSE. During the day, it rallied 39 per cent to its 52-week high of Rs 355.40. On the NSE, it zoomed 30.50 per cent to close at Rs 333.70. 

 The company's market valuation also jumped Rs 7,823.98 crore to Rs 32,378.98 crore on the BSE. 

 Buying was also there in other group stocks, with Zee Learn zooming 14.30 per cent and Zee Media Corporation gaining 4.92 per cent on the BSE. Further, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent company of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), would invest growth capital so that SPNI has a cash balance of approximately USD 1.575 billion, SPNI said in a statement. 

 According to ZEEL, basis the existing estimated equity values of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and SPNI, the indicative merger ratio would have been 61.25 per cent in favour of ZEEL.
17:23   Mapped: Rainfall distribution till now
Deficient rainfall in all the north-eastern states. 
Representational image
Representational image
17:07   Six J&K govt employees sacked for terror links
Six employees of the Jammu and Kashmir government, including two police constables, were sacked on Wednesday for alleged links with terrorists, officials said.

These sackings were cleared by a designated committee of the Jammu and Kashmir administration constituted for recommending cases under Article 311(2)(c) of the Constitution.

 The six employees were dismissed from government service for having terror links and working as Over Ground Workers (OGW).

 They included Abdul Hamid Wani, a resident of Bijbehara in Anantnag, who was working as a teacher. 

The officials alleged that before being in government service, he was a district commander of the now-defunct terrorist outfit, Allah Tigers. 

 It is alleged that he secured the employment without any selection process, by leveraging influence of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and that he was among the key speakers and organisers during the 2016 agitations following the death of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen. It is also alleged that he propagated secessionist ideology. 

 Police constable Jaffer Hussain Butt, a resident of Kishtwar in Jammu region, was arrested by the police and chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a case on gun-running, the officials said. At present on bail, Butt is alleged to have provided his car to Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists and facilitated their safe movement, a fact which is explained in the NIA chargesheet.

 Junior assistant Mohd Rafi Butt, also a resident of Kishtwar and posted in the Road and Building Department, was sacked for providing logistical support to Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists in Kishtwar and for providing them a safe environment to execute terror plans, they said. 

 His name also figures in an FIR registered by the NIA. He was arrested and is at present on bail. Liyaqat Ali Kakroo, a resident of Baramulla in North Kashmir and a teacher by profession since 1983, was arrested in 2001 which "revealed that he was a locally trained terrorist", they said.
16:49   World economy emerging from Covid impact: RBI
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday the world is witnessing initial signs of recovery from the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The pandemic caused structural changes in global economy and impacted the poor more.

 "Covid-19 is a watershed event in our era. It has caused widespread devastation of lives and livelihoods. There are very few parallels to this shock," he said.

 Das was speaking at 48th convention of the All India Management Association (AIMA) in Mumbai. 

"The pandemic is likely to leave indelible marks on the world economy," said Das adding that the pandemic has affected the poor and the vulnerable more.

In India too, he said, Covid-19 has impacted many dynamic sectors of the economy and propelled them to opt for greater adoption of new digital technologies.
16:33   Mapped: The top losers at the markets today
HDFC fell 1.46 per cent today.
16:23   Sensex declines 78 points; Nifty ends below 17,550
Equity benchmark Sensex ended 78 points lower after a choppy session on Wednesday, tracking losses in index majors HDFC twins, ICICI Bank and Kotak Bank as investors turned cautious ahead of the US Fed's policy decision.

 The 30-share BSE index slipped 77.94 points or 0.13 per cent to close at 58,927.33. The NSE Nifty declined 15.35 points or 0.09 per cent to 17,546.65. 

 HDFC was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding over 1 per cent, followed by Nestle India, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and HDFC Bank. 

 On the other hand, Tech Mahindra, M&M, HCL Tech and Bajaj Auto were among the gainers.
16:07   HC notice to CBI in corruption case against Maneka
The Delhi High Court has issued notice to CBI on a plea seeking to declare that no sanction is required for taking cognizance of the offence taken by the Trial Court against the accused person in connection with a corruption case allegedly involving Maneka Gandhi.

Hearing the case, Justice Yogesh Khanna issued notice to CBI and listed the matter for December 6 for further hearing. The Court was hearing a petition filed by complainant VM Singh against the trial Court order dated February 4, 2020.
15:53   The next air chief meets Rajnath
Chief of Air Staff-designate Air Marshal VR Chaudhari called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi today.
15:43   Confusion reigns over Covishield on UK's travel advisory as India not on eligibility list
There is confusion over the UK government's vaccine recognition process for Indian travellers as even though Oxford/AstraZeneca Covishield, the India-manufactured Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, is on an updated international travel advisory, India is not yet on a list of 17 approved countries. 

 The UK's Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have said on Wednesday that they are unable to confirm this and will require further clarifications.

The advisory states: Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines. 

 There has been widespread condemnation of the Serum Institute of India manufactured vaccines not being included in a list of eligible COVID-19 vaccines recognised under Britain's reviewed international travel norms, effective from October 4. 

 From October 4, England's 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. 

However, there is a lack of clarity over whether Indians vaccinated with any vaccines in India including Covishield fall within the UK's eligibility criteria or not. 

"We have to see how it goes. But if we do not get satisfaction we would be within our rights to impose reciprocal measures," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said in response to a question on the issue in New Delhi on Tuesday. 

"The basic issue is that here is a vaccine, Covishield, which is a licensed product of the UK company, manufactured in India of which we have supplied five million doses to the UK at the request of the government of the UK. 

"We understand that this is being used under the national health system, and, therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact those of our citizens travelling to the UK," he said.
15:35   Sunrisers Hyd pacer tests Covid positive
Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer T Natarajan has tested positive for COVID-19 but the team's IPL match against Delhi Capitals on Wednesday will go ahead as scheduled, the BCCI said. 

 Left-arm pacer Natarajan, who is coming back from a knee surgery, has been isolated along with six close contacts which also include out of favour India all-rounder Vijay Shankar. 

 "Sunrisers Hyderabad player T Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 at a scheduled RT-PCR test. The player has isolated himself from the rest of the squad. He is currently asymptomatic," a BCCI release stated. 

 "The rest of the contingent including the close contacts underwent RT-PCR tests at 5AM local time this morning and the test reports are negative. "As a result, tonight's game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals will go ahead at the Dubai International Stadium, Dubai," it further stated. 

 The close contacts identified by the medical team also include Vijay Kumar(Team Manager), Shyam Sundar J (Physiotherapist), Anjana Vannan (Doctor), Tushar Khedkar (Logistics Manager), and Periyasamy Ganesan (Net Bowler). 

 The IPL resumed here on Sunday after it had to be halted in May due to multiple COVID cases in its bio-bubble when the event was being staged in India. PTI
15:29   Cabinet announces the following appointments...
The following 13 appointments as well as nine upgradations were announced today. Take a look at the complete complete list here. 
14:56   Hardeep Puri in Netaji's home
Hardeep Singh Puri who is Kolkata campaigning for the BJP in the upcoming bypolls made time to visit Netaji's home. "Paid tribute at the ancestral home of revolutionary & charismatic freedom fighter, & founder of Azad Hind Fauj Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Ji," Puri tweeted. 
14:42   UK adds Covishield to approved vaccines list in updated travel advisory
The updated story on UK's nod to Covishield: The UK government on Wednesday added Covishield, the India-manufactured Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, to an updated international travel advisory, a day after the Indian government warned of reciprocal measures over discriminatory action against a UK-licensed product.

There was widespread condemnation of the Serum Institute of India manufactured vaccines not being included in a list of eligible COVID-19 vaccines recognised under Britain's reviewed international travel norms, effective from October 4. 

The updated advisory means that Indians fully vaccinated with Covishield will no longer be required to undergo compulsory 10-day self-isolation at home or declared location on entry to England. 

 Formulations of the 4 listed vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and Moderna Takeda, qualify as approved vaccines, reads the advisory from the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

"You must have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England," it adds. The move will also mean that a pre-departure PCR test is no longer required as long as vaccinated travellers pre-book a day two test post-arrival in England and complete the compulsory passenger locator form in advance.
The Karnataka Legislative Assembly
The Karnataka Legislative Assembly
14:36   Karnataka Assembly passes bill for protection of religious structures
The Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed the Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill 2021.

"The bill had been passed on Tuesday in the state assembly to protect religious structures which were constructed illegally. This has come in the wake of the temple demolished in Mysuru's Nanjangud," state Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj KS Eshwarappa told ANI. 

"The incident has hurt the religious sentiments of numerous people in the state and people protested against the officer who was involved in the action. So, we have passed this bill to protect these religious places," he added.
14:32   Afghan female prosecutors go into hiding
Afghanistan's former female prosecutors are in hiding, fearing retaliation from those who were once jailed after their judgments and have now been released.

Many prisoners in Afghanistan have been freed by the Taliban after they took over the country last month. The female prosecutors claim that ex-prisoners are searching for them to take revenge. 

One female judge said that she has been repeatedly called by unknown numbers after the Taliban took over the country, The Khaama Press News Agency reported.

Many female judges who could manage to flee from Afghanistan are now abroad, but hundreds of female judges are still hiding in the country.

The female prosecutors usually handled the cases of women's rights violation, women's torture, rapes, murder, and family harassment.

Along with other female employees in Afghanistan, female prosecutors have also been at their homes and have been told not to go to their jobs, The Khaama Press News Agency reported. 
14:22   Porn film case: SC gives relief from arrest to actor Gehana Vasisht
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted pre-arrest bail to actor Gehana Vasisht in a case related to FIR registered against her in a porn films racket also involving Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty's husband Raj Kundra.

A Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul stayed the Bombay High Court order, which had rejected her anticipatory bail plea. 

The Bench ordered that Vasisht will not be arrested in the third FIR registered against her. The Bench while granting relief to Vasisht asked her to join the investigation as and when required.

After the Bombay High Court had rejected her anticipatory bail plea in the third FIR, she approached the apex court.
13:42   5-star hotel chef arrested for snatching incidents in South Delhi
The chef of a five-star hotel was arrested in connection with multiple cases of snatching in South Delhi, police said on Wednesday. 

 Based on a tip off, Harish (35) was arrested from Neb Sarai area on Tuesday evening where he had gone for more snatchings, they said.

 The accused, who holds degrees in BA and hotel management, worked at a five-star hotel near the IGI Airport and had a good salary but he took to snatching to pay off his gambling debts, the police said. 

 A resident of Sangam Vihar, Harish especially targeted women going for a walk or travelling to offices near Saket Metro Station. 

Other times, he would lurk in the park adjoining the metro station or at Ambedkar Nagar bus stand on Mehrauli-Badarpur (MB) Road, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Kumar Thakur said. 

 After snatching valuables from his victims, he would usually shout "Pakdo-Pakdo" or "Chor-Chor" to give an impression that he was chasing the culprit and would run like a trained athlete, he said.
Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri
Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri
13:24   Mahant Giri's autopsy concludes, report submitted to officials
A panel of five doctors on Wednesday conducted the post-mortem examination of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri, and submitted the report to officials. 

 After the post-mortem, the body was taken to the Baghambri Gaddi Muth where preparations were being made to bathe the body in the Ganges and the last rites will be held later in the day. 

 The examination lasted for about two-and-a-half-hours and the report was handed over to senior police officials in a sealed cover. There was heavy deployment of security personnel at the site where the autopsy was conducted.
13:13   Swapan Dasgupta on campaign trail
Back in Bengal, Swapan Dasgupta is campaigning for the Bhavanipur by-election for BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal. She faces off with Mamata Banerjee. 
13:06   The question that begs an answer: Is Covaxin now allowed in US?
This is why Covaxin is trending on Twitter.

The US does NOT recognise Covaxin jabs and treats the recipients as unvaccinated. 

However, PM Narendra Modi, who got jabbed with the India-made Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is right now on a flight headed to the US. 

The question social media is therefore asking is: Which vaccine did he really take?

Filmmaker Nikhil Alva is among those asking this question: "Like our PM, I too got jabbed with our Atamnirbhar COVAXIN. Now other than Iran & Nepal and a handful more, I can't travel anywhere in the world. Which is why I'm perplexed to hear that our PM is off to the USA, that doesn't recognise COVAXIN. So which vaccine did he really take?"

As does author Anand Ranganathan who tweets, "The USA has still not approved our Covaxin through either its FDA or CDC, and neither has the WHO. Does this mean that PM @narendramodi vaccinated with Covaxin, will be quarantined for 2 weeks upon his arrival tonight in the USA? He should be. He should suffer like all Indians."

And another tweet from @The Godfather: PM Modi had taken Covaxin which is not recognized by US till now
Now he is going to US 
Is US going to treat him as "unvaccinated"?
Are they going to make an exception in his case?
Are there separate rules in US for PM and other civilians?
Jab we met in Bikaner
Jab we met in Bikaner
12:48   UK recognises Covishield amid row with India
UK recognises Covishield in travel policy amid India's strong objection, but raises questions on vaccination certification. More details awaited. 

India had called the UK government's move to treat fully vaccinated Indians as unvaccinated a "discriminatory policy" and indicated that it has the right to take reciprocal action.

"Covishield is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India. We have supplied 5 million doses of Covishield to the UK on its request. Therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and impacts those citizens travelling to the UK," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, too, took up the matter with his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, in a meeting in New York and urged for an early resolution in mutual interest.

Last Friday, the UK introduced a new system for international travel, removing the home isolation requirement for vaccinated individuals from certain countries.
12:37   PM's flight to US steers clear of Afghanistan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's non-stop flight to the US on Wednesday will fly over Pakistan's airspace to avoid Afghanistan. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a three-day visit to the United States on Wednesday where he will address the UN General Assembly and attend the Quad Summit as well as hold a bilateral meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House.

A high-level delegation including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and top government officials are accompanying PM Modi to the US.

According to government sources, India had sought permission from Pakistan regarding the usage of Pakistan's airspace for Prime Minister Modi's flight to the US, for which a nod was given by Islamabad. -- ANI
12:19   Women can't be denied right to NDA: SC
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accept the Centre's request to allow women candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the NDA from next year, saying it doesn't want women to be denied their right. 

The induction of women cannot be postponed by one year, it said. 

 The Centre had told the top court that a notification allowing women candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the National Defence Academy will be out by May next year. 

 A bench headed by Justice S K Kaul said the armed forces are the best response team to deal with emergency situations and it is hopeful that necessary arrangements will be put in place to pave the way for the induction of women in NDA without delay. 

 It said the needful should be done by the defence department in collaboration with the UPSC. 

 The top court noted the submissions made by senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, appearing on behalf of the petitioner Kush Kalra, and said that it cannot postpone the induction of women by one year. 

 Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati submitted that a study group has been formed to facilitate the entry of women, and the necessary mechanism to facilitate that can be put in place by May 2022. The ASG sought skipping the next NDA entrance examination, scheduled to be held on November 14. 

 "We appreciate your problems. I'm sure you people are capable of finding solutions. Let us see the results. The planning can go on...It is difficult for us to accept this submission from the Centre in view of the aspirations of the candidates willing to take the exam.

 "Armed services have dealt with very difficult situations. To deal with emergencies is a part of their training. We are sure that they will be able to come at par with this "emergency too". We would thus not like to vacate the order effectively passed by us," the bench also comprising Justice B R Gavai said. PTI
11:55   PM Modi departs for three-day visit to US
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a three-day visit to the United States on Wednesday where he will address the UN General Assembly and attend the Quad Summit as well as hold a bilateral meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House.

Biden will host PM Modi at the White House on September 24, this is going to be the first in-person meeting between the two leaders after Biden took over as the US President on January 20. 

As per the statement issued by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, PM Modi and President Biden are expected to discuss ways to stem radicalisation and combat terrorism. 

Modi-Biden meet: 1. They are also expected to discuss ways to bolster defence, trade ties, security collaborations and clean energy partnership among others.

2. Discuss the current regional security situation following the recent developments in Afghanistan. 

The PM will also hold business interactions during his US visit from September 22-25.

Prime Minister Modi will attend the first in-person summit of the Quad hosted by the US President on Friday, which will be attended by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia.

Modi will address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of 76th Session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 25 in New York.
11:39   Karan Johar: Contract with Netflix for 2 years only
Filmmaker Karan Johar has clarified on the end of Dharmatic Entertainment's contract with Netflix. 

"It was  always  a two-year  deal  with Netflix. No more no less. As  always  this  is  a case  of making a  mountain  out of a molehill," Johar said. 

A  news report yesterday had said that Karan Johar and Netflix have ended their exclusive content deal. The deal signed in September 2019 states that Johar's digital content studio Dharmatic Entertainment was to supply all its content -- fiction and non-fiction series and films -- only to the California-based streaming giant.

-- Subhash  K Jha
11:32   Kerala temple trust to face audit, says SC
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined a plea filed by Shree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Trust seeking to exempt it from the audit of 25 years as ordered by the top court last year. 

 A bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said the audit should be completed as early as possible, preferably within three months. 

 "It is clear that the audit contemplated was not intended to be confined to the temple only but with respect to the trust. This direction has to be seen in light of the reports of the amicus curiae in the case as recorded in order dated 2015," the bench also comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi said. 

 The Administrative Committee of the Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala had on September 17 told the apex court that it is in great financial stress and the offerings are not sufficient to meet the expenses, while seeking an audit of the temple-related trust run by the Travancore royal family.

 All temples in Kerala are closed and while this temple's monthly expenses are Rs 1.25 crore, "we are able to hardly get 60-70 lakh rupees. Therefore, we have sought certain directions," senior advocate R Basant, appearing for the committee had said. PTI
11:13   PM says US visit to strengthen partnership
PM Narendra Modi's address ahead of his US visit:

"During my visit to US between Sept 22-25, I will review India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with President Joe Biden and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest," the PM said.

Modi will be leaving for his three-day visit to the US on Wednesday to participate in the Quad Leaders' Summit, address the high-level meeting of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly as well as a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House.

"I will participate in first in-person Quad Leaders Summit along with President Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison & Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga. The Summit provides an opportunity to identify priorities for future engagements based on our shared vision for Indo-Pacific region.

"My visit to US would be an occasion to strengthen the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with US, consolidate relations with our strategic partners --  Japan and Australia - and take forward our collaboration on important global issues."

10:56   Hardeep Puri campaigns in Bhawanipur
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri campaigns for BJP candidate from Bhawanipur, Priyanka Tibrewal. "In my conversations with residents of Ram Mohan Dutta Road in the Ray Street area of Bhawanipur shared their issues & concerns. But there is clear support for the BJP candidate Smt @AdvPriyankaBJP Ji."

Tibrewal is pitted against Mamata Banejree. 

Bhawanipur will go to the polls on September 30 and the results will be declared on October 3.
10:42   WHO chief thanks Mandaviya for Covax promise
World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday thanked Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya for announcing resumption of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the COVAX global pool in October. 

 COVAX is an initiative for equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines.

 "Thank you Health Minister @mansukhmandviya for announcing #India will resume crucial #COVID19 vaccine shipments to #COVAX in October. This is an important development in support of reaching the 40% vaccination target in all countries by the end of the year. #VaccinEquity," Ghebreyesus said in a tweet. 

 Mandaviya on Monday announced that India will resume export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme and to meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool, but vaccinating its own citizens remains the topmost priority of the government. 

 Talking about the expected production and supply trends in the coming months, the minister said the government will receive over 30 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines in October and over 100 crore doses in the coming quarter from October-December. The cumulative doses administered so far across the country has crossed 82.65 crore.
10:24   Active Covid cases in country lowest in 186 days
India logged 26,964 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,35,31,498, while the active cases declined to 3,01,989, the lowest in 186 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. 

 The death toll climbed to 4,45,768 with 383 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am. 

 The active cases comprise 0.90 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.77 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said.

 A reduction of 7,586 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. 

 India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. 

It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23. PTI
10:06   Sensex rises over 100 points in opening trade
Equity benchmark Sensex rose over 100 points in opening trade on Wednesday, tracking gains in IT stocks amid sustained foreign fund inflow.

 The 30-share Sensex, however, turned choppy to trade 36.75 points or 0.06 per cent lower at 58,968.52. 

Similarly, Nifty slipped 10.45 points or 0.06 per cent to 17,551.55 in initial deals. 

 HDFC was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding over 1 per cent, followed by Axis Bank, Tata Steel, Nestle India, HDFC Bank and HUL. 

 On the other hand, Tech Mahindra, NTPC, M&M, Titan and HCL Tech were among the gainers. 

 In the previous session, the 30-share index ended 514.34 points or 0.88 per cent higher at 59,005.27, while Nifty surged 165.10 points or 0.95 per cent to 17,562.
10:04   Zee announces merger with Sony India
Entertainment major Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) announces merger with Sony Pictures Networks.  

After the merger, Sony will invest $1.57 billion and will be the majority shareholder with 52.93% controlling stake. 

The shareholders of ZEEL, meanwhile, will hold 47.07 per cent stake.The merger was approved by the ZEEL board, and said that which Puneet Goenka will remain the Managing Director and CEO of the merged entity.

The ZEEL board said in a statement that it not only evaluated financial parametres, "but also the strategic value which the partner brings to the table".
09:31   5 held for vandalising Owaisi's house in Delhi
The Delhi Police arrested five members of the Hindu Sena on Tuesday for allegedly vandalising the official residence of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi at Ashoka Road in New Delhi.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said five people were arrested for their alleged involvement in the incident.

Police said they received information regarding the incident at around 5 pm and rushed to the spot.

A senior police officer said a case has been registered against the accused under sections 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act at the Parliament Street police station.

Police said although nobody was attacked or injured in the incident, public property was damaged, which is an offence.

In a video clip on social media, state president of Hindu Sena Lalit Kumar said they went to Owaisi's residence to teach him a lesson as he speaks against Hindus at his rallies.

In a series of tweets, Owaisi said, 'My Delhi residence was vandalised today by radicalised goons. Their cowardice is well known and as usual they came in a mob, not alone. They also chose a time when I was not home. They were armed with axes and sticks, they pelted stones at my house, my nameplate was destroyed.

'Raju, the caretaker of the house for the last 40 years was assaulted. The mob shouted communal slogans and threatened to kill me. Raju's grandkids are living in fear now. Raju has filed a complaint with police. Hope action will be taken.'

The Hyderabad MP claimed that there were 'at least 13 people, 6 have been detained'.

'This is the third time that my residence has been attacked. Last time it was vandalised @rajnathsingh was not only the Home Minister but also my neighbour.
'Election Commission HQ is right next door to my house, Parliament Street police station is right across my house. The Prime Minister's residence is 8 minutes away. If an MP's house is not safe, then what message is @AmitShah sending?' he asked.

'@PMOIndia preaches to the world how we must fight radicalisation, please tell who radicalised these goons? If these thugs think that this is going to scare me, they don't know Majlis and what we are made of. We'll never stop our fight for justice,' Owaisi wrote on Twitter.

A video clip that went viral on social media showed some persons vandalising the house. They broke the nameplate at the main gate of the property and also the glass of a window.

National president of the Hindu Sena Vishnu Gupta said they were offended with the Hyderabad MP's 'anti-Hindu' statements.

The AIMIM chief remains in the headlines by continuously giving anti-Hindu statements and a case against him has already been registered in Uttar Pradesh, Gupta said.

The Hindu Sena requests Owaisi not to give such statements, he added.

Police said the incident took place around 5 pm.

A PCR call was received, following which the five Hindu Sena members were arrested, they added.

Those arrested are from northeast Delhi, police said, adding that they vandalised the back gate of Owaisi's residence.   -- PTI
08:26   SAARC meet nixed as Pak wanted Taliban on table
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers' meet, slated to be held on Saturday in New York, has been cancelled.

It is learnt from reliable sources that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to represent Afghanistan at the meet.

India, along with some other members, objected to the proposal and due to lack of consensus or concurrence, the meet has been cancelled.

Nepal was the host of the meet, which is annually held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Taliban government is still not recognised by India and the world and their top cabinet ministers are blacklisted by the United Nations.

Amir Khan Muttaqi is the acting foreign minister of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and he is unlikely to attend any UN and affiliated meetings.

In fact, last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet, said that the Taliban is a non-inclusive government, the world must think before accepting or recognising the regime in Afghanistan.

He also pointed out that women, minorities have no representation in the government in Kabul.

The SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organisation of eight countries of South Asia--Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It is learnt that the majority of SAARC members agreed that an empty chair can be kept for Afghanistan during the meet.

However, Pakistan did not agree and the meet was called off.

SAARC secretariat told ANI that the meeting was cancelled due to the lack of concurrence from all member states as of today.    -- Reena Bhardwaj and Naveen Kapoor/ANI
00:24   India 'atmanirbhar' in missile tech: DRDO chief
India has achieved "complete self-reliance" in missile technology and the most advanced missiles can now be developed in the country, DRDO chairman G Satheesh Reddy said on Tuesday.

Delivering a lecture during an online event hosted by the JNU, he also asserted that if a country has to become prosperous and 'Atmanirbhar' (self-reliant), "we need to work on advance technology" and that is where the role of academic institutions will come in a "big way".

Reddy recalled the decades of 1980s and 90s in the evolution of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and hailed the role of scientists, including former president APJ Abdul Kalam, known as the 'Missile Man' of India, who worked on missile technologies that provided a "quantum jump" in development of advanced systems and platforms.

He mentioned the five missiles -- Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Trishul and Nag -- developed by India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

"We developed, Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Trishul, Nag under the IGMDP. Agni was also a technology demonstrator for the country in going out of the atmosphere and returning to the atmosphere.

"And, then we joined a select club of countries with ballistic missiles which can intercept an enemy missile and kill it. And, then many more missiles with long-range and more capabilities," he said.

"Today I can confidently say that we are having complete 'Atmanirbharta' in the missile technology, and we can develop the most advanced missiles in the country," Reddy said.

He also spoke about the anti-satellite (A-SAT) test that India conducted in March 2019, shooting down one of its satellites in space with an A-SAT missile to demonstrate this complex capability, joining the elite club of countries -- the US, Russia and China -- which have such capabilities.

The lecture on 'Defence Technologies for India's National Security' was organised by the School of Engineering of the JNU, and its vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, several faculty and students also attended the online event.

Reddy, who is the secretary in the Department of Defence R&D, underlining the importance of indigenous technology, said the IAF had recently ordered 83 LCA Tejas aircraft.

On a question on drone technology, he said as these technologies are coming up, asymmetric warfare is gaining an upper hand.

"Drone technology is coming up in a big way, and drone-based weapons is also taking a big shape. It had been seen that in the recent conflict also, drone-based technology played a role. Lot of players in the industry are working on it, and a lot of systems being developed, particularly by the youth," the DRDO chief said, adding that anti-drone technology has been demonstrated by the organisation.

In his address, Reddy asserted that in the last six-seven years, he has seen students and innovators going beyond ICT and choosing subjects like material science and laser technology which will be important in the sector of defence technologies, adding that the ecosystem has undergone a change.

He pitched for academic institutions to play a larger role in achieving the vision of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.

"Today, if our country has to be self-reliant, if we have to become 'Atmanirbhar' and prosperous, we need to work on advance technology and that is where the role of academic institutions will come in a big way," Reddy said.

He spoke of the centres of excellence that have come up at various IITs, IISc and the Jadavpur University among others, and opportunities for students to work as a junior research fellow and a senior research fellow at the DRDO.

Reddy added that the DRDO is working on various projects with more than 300 academic institutions.

In the advanced technology domain, he said, some of the areas in which DRDO is working on include anti-drone system, artificial intelligence (AI), cyberspace, secure systems and communications.

Reddy emphasised on the synergetic links needed between the DRDO, the academia and the industry, saying the landscape is so huge, it cannot be done alone, and added that industry sector is coming up as a development partner for the organisation.

The DRDO, along with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has also launched an M.Tech course in defence technology. More than 40 engineering institutions are offering this course, which has six subjects. Besides, B.Tech elective courses also there, he said.

The DRDO, together with the higher education department, is also sponsoring PhD programmes on defence technology-related subjects for students who will also work at its labs, and about 40 have already joined, he added.