Sat, 25 September 2021
PM concludes US visit, departs for India

Timeline  Refresh

21:48   PM concludes US visit, departs for India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday left New York for India on completion of his three-day visit to the United States during which he held bilateral meetings and addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

During the packed visit, Modi held bilateral meetings with various US President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Modi also attended the Quad Summit on Friday and proposed a common international travelling protocol involving mutual recognition of the COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

Modi arrived in Washington on Wednesday for his first visit beyond the neighbourhood since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the media that Modi's visit to the US has been 'very successful'.   -- ANI
Top 10 companies in India by market capitalisation on September 24, 2021.
21:26   US hands over 157 artefacts, antiquities to Modi
As many as 157 artefacts and antiquities were handed over by the United States during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit.

The PM conveyed 'his deep appreciation' for repatriation of antiquities to India by the US.

Modi and President Joe Biden committed to strengthen their efforts to combat theft, illicit trade and trafficking of cultural objects.

The list of 157 artefacts includes a diverse set of items ranging from the one and a half metre bas relief panel of Revanta in sandstone of the 10th CE to the 8.5 cm tall, exquisite bronze Nataraja from the 12th CE.

The items largely belong to 11th-14th CE and historic antiquities like copper anthropomorphic object dating back to 2000 BC or terracotta vase from 2nd CE.

Some 45 antiquities belong to Before Common Era.

Half of artefacts are cultural, other half are figurines relating to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Their make spreads across metal, stone and terracotta. Bronze collection primarily contains ornate figurines of well-known postures of Lakshmi Narayana, Buddha, Vishnu, Siva Parvathi, 24 Jain Tirthankaras and Kankalamurti, Brahmi and Nandikesa besides other unnamed deities and divine figures.

The motifs include religious sculptures from Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism as well as secular motifs (Amorphous couple in Samabhanga, Chowri Bearer, Female playing drum etc).

There are 56 terracotta pieces (Vase 2nd CE, Pair of Deer 12th CE, Bust of Female 14th CE) and an 18th CE sword with sheath with inscription mentioning Guru Hargovind Singh in Persian).   -- ANI
21:18   What is 'Amrit Mahotsav' when 'poison of hate' is spread: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said freedom does not mean anything when it is not for everyone and asked what 'Amrit Mahotsav' meant when the 'poison of hatred' is being spread in the country.

His remarks come in the wake of clashes between police and alleged encroachers during an eviction drive in Assam's Darrang district on Thursday that left two persons dead and 20 injured.

A shocking video showing a man slinging a camera and hitting an apparently dead person with a bullet wound on his chest also surfaced after the incident.

The man was later arrested and a judicial probe has been ordered into the incident.

'When the poison of hatred is being spread in the country then what is 'Amrit Mahotsav'? What does freedom mean if it is not for everyone,' Gandhi asked in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag 'Assam'.

Congress leaders have met Assam Governor Jagadish Mukhi urging him to stop the eviction drive at Sipajhar in Darrang till a proper rehabilitation package is announced.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday asserted that discussions were held for over four months before an eviction drive was launched to clear the land at Gorukhuti village in Darrang district where police firing claimed two lives during the exercise.

A 12-hour bandh called by various organisations to protest against the incident affected normal life in Darrang district on Friday.   -- PTI
20:35   J-K assembly polls likely next yr: BJP leader
Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party president Ravinder Raina on Saturday said the assembly elections in the union territory would likely be held early next year after the completion of the delimitation exercise.

He said the supporters of terrorism are the enemies of the people of the union territory and would be treated in accordance with the law of the land which is equal for everyone -- whether a government employee, politician or an ordinary citizen.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by the BJP at its headquarters to pay homage to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue and leader of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh Pandit Deendayal Deendayal Upadhyaya in Jammu, Raina said the delimitation exercise is in progress and was expected to be completed by the year-end.

'On August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of the Red Fort announced that the delimitation exercise will be followed by the assembly elections in J-K. The delimitation is likely to be completed by the year-end and so the elections to the J-K assembly will be held early next year,' he said when asked about the upcoming polls in the union territory.

In March 2020, the BJP-led government had constituted a delimitation commission to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.

The commission is yet to submit its report.

However, the BJP leader said his party is fully prepared for the elections and would win the elections with 50-plus seats to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir.

'The BJP-led government at the Centre has benefited the people of Jammu and Kashmir by its schemes and developmental programmes. The people are satisfied and will bless the party during the elections. The next chief minister will be from our party,' Raina claimed.

Earlier, he was joined by National General Secretary, in-charge J-K, Tarun Chugh and other senior leaders to pay tributes to Upadhyay.

Asked about the criticism of the National Conference and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) on the sacking of government employees having terror links, he said, 'The law is equal for everyone. If action is taken against an ordinary person found working as an overground worker of terrorists, there is no justification to spare a government employee having links with terrorists.'

'Terrorism has destroyed J-K, claiming over one lakh lives during the past three decades and left Kashmiri Pandits internally displaced after they were threatened at gunpoint.

'The NC and the PDP should rethink and see whether they want Taliban, Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen to rule J-K.

'We will not allow such kind of administration here. The supporters of terrorism are enemies of the people and anyone who conspires against the nation will not be spared,' he said.

Raina said Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed largescale development after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and completely put an end to the stone-pelting incidents, which were a regular feature during encounters between terrorists and security forces.

'Before the abrogation of Article 370, there were only 87 legislators but after the August 2019 development, the government strengthened the grassroots democracy. We have over 50,000 panches, sarpanches, Block Development Council (BDC), District Development Council (DDC), urban local bodies members and municipal councillors.

'The anti-corruption bureau has intensified its drive against corruption, while the stone-pelting during encounters has completely ended,' he said.

National General Secretary, in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Tarun Chugh said the BJP government not only controlled the militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir but dealt a severe blow to terrorism in the union territory.

'Our government is doing a good job and has reached every section and region with its pro-people schemes. Whether it is Kashmir, Jammu, hilly Kishtwar, Kathua or Poonch-Rajouri belt, the developmental activities are visible everywhere,' he said.

Asked about the core group meeting of the BJP scheduled later in the day and its agenda, he said, 'Whenever he reaches Jammu, the core group meeting is convened to discuss the party affairs.'

However, BJP sources said the party has convened the core group meeting to discuss the Chamber of Commerce and Industries-sponsored strike on September 22 against the alleged 'directionless policies' of the Lieutenant Governor-led administrations.   -- PTI
19:46   Dalit made to spend Rs 11k for entering temple
Close on the heels of a Dalit family being penalised Rs 25,000 over their two-year-old son entering a temple in Kustagi, a Dalit man was forced to arrange a feast spending Rs 11,000 for entering a Lakshmi Devi temple in a village at Karatagi about 11 days ago, a police officer said.

"Yes, it is true that the man spent Rs 11,000 to arrange feast for entering the temple. Our officers are investigating the matter," superintendent of Police T Sreedhara told PTI on Saturday.

According to him, the incident came to light only on Friday and since then the temple management led by the priest raised an alarm and forced the man to organise the feast. Sreedhara said a few months ago, a theft had taken place in the village and it was decided that no one should enter the temple except the priest.

However, the Dalit man, whose identity has been withheld, entered as he had taken a vow to conduct some rituals.

On September 14, he entered the temple ignoring the collective decision taken by the elders of the village.

Other police sources said eight people have been detained in this connection.

The incident was a stark reminder of the September 4 incident when a Dalit family belonging to the Chenna Dasar community was harassed and asked to pay Rs 25,000 as penalty after their two-year-old son entered the temple in Miyapur village under Kushatagi police station limits in Koppal.

Five people were arrested in connection with the incident and several awareness meetings were held to educate masses against the evil of caste based discrimination.   -- PTI
19:17   Must fulfil our responsibility towards Af: Modi
Modi conludes UNGA address mentioning the situation in Afghanistan:

'Today, the danger of regressive thinking and extremism is increasing in front of the world. It is very important to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used to spread terrorism and for terrorist attacks.

'At this time, the people of Afghanistan, women and children, the minorities there, need help, and we must fulfil our responsibility.

'In order to strengthen the rule-based world order, the international community must speak in unison,' the PM said.  -- PTI
18:53   PM invites foreign vax manufacturers to India
BREAKING: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, extends an invitation to foreign vaccine manufacturers to make vaccines in India.

'I would like to inform the UNGA that India has developed the world's first DNA vaccine. This can be administered to anyone above the age of 12.

'An mRNA vaccine is in the final stages of development. Indian scientists are also developing a nasal vaccine against COVID-19.

'Today, I extend an invitation to all vaccine manufacturers from across the world to make vaccines in India,' Modi said at United Nations General Assembly.
18:44   India is 'mother of democracy': Modi at UNGA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at United Nations General Assembly:

In the last 1.5 years, the entire world has been facing the worst pandemic in 100 years, I pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives in this deadly pandemic and I express my condolences to their families.

I'm representing the country which enjoys the glory of being the 'mother of democracy'.

On August 15 this year, India entered the 75th year of independence.

Our diversity is the identity of our strong democracy. 
18:36   Modi's address at UNGA begins
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at United Nations General Assembly begins.
18:28   Modi to deliver UNGA address shortly
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the United Nations Headquarters to address the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.   -- ANI
18:12   Centre accords Z category security to Bengal BJP president
Centre accorded Z category security to newly appointed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) West Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar.He will be guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) troops.

CISF received the Ministry of Home Affairs order on Friday to provide Z category security to the leader.

On September 20, BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda appointed BJP MP from Lok Sabha Dilip Ghosh as the party's vice president with immediate effect

The same day, BJP appointed Lok Sabha MP from Balurghat Dr Sukanta Majumdar as the West Bengal BJP chief.

'BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda has appointed BJP MP from Lok Sabha Dr Sukanta Majumdar as the State party president for West Bengal unit with immediate effect,' said an official notification.

Earlier, on September 18, the Union government downgraded the security cover of central paramilitary commandos given to Babul Supriyo, hours after he joined the Trinamool Congress.   -- ANI
17:33   Assam CM orders CBI probe into Darrang incident
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that he has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the firing incident that took place in the Dhalpur area of Assam's Darrang district in which two civilians were killed and nine policemen were injured during an anti-encroachment drive.

While speaking to reporters in Guwahati today, the Assam Chief Minister said, "We have ordered a CBI inquiry into the matter and we have to find out who has mobilised 10,000 people even after a clear agreement with the organisation that the eviction will happen peacefully."

He further said, "In 27 injured policemen, two or three were the Muslim personnel who are admitted in the hospital. The eviction drive was initiated with an agreed principle that the landless will be provided 2 acres each as per land policy and the representatives agreed.

"I appeal to the left-centric people to raise the voice of Assamese people."

"This eviction drive was urgent. It was not done overnight. Congress delegation had met me and agreed on land allotment to landless. 27,000 acres of land have to be used in a productive manner. There was a temple, which was also encroached upon by people," he added.

He assured that the government will resolve the matter and bring peace and harmony to the state by taking appropriate action.

Earlier in the day, while addressing the media, Darrang district Additional Superintendent of Police Rupam Phukan, had told that the authority initiated action only after the locals started pelting stones at the police.

Violence broke out on Thursday in Sipajhar of Darrang district in Assam during an anti-encroachment drive.

Darrang SP Sushanta Biswa Sarma had said that people at the spot pelted stones and attacked police personnel.   -- ANI
16:50   CoWin certificates to mention DOB for travellers
People who are fully inoculated and want to travel abroad will have a CoWin certificate with their full date of birth, official sources said on Saturday amid ongoing discussions between India and the United Kingdom over Covid vaccination certificates.

Currently, CoWin certificates mention the beneficiary's age based on the year of birth besides other details.

The new feature is being introduced in compliance with the WHO norms and likely to be available from next week.

"It has been decided that a new feature will be added to the CoWin under which those who are fully vaccinated and want to travel abroad will have full date of birth on their vaccination certificates," an official source said.

The UK on Wednesday had amended its new travel guidelines to include the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine in its updated list of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Following India's strong criticism over the UK's refusal to recognise Covishield, London has included the vaccine in its updated international travel advisory.

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

"We're clear Covishield is not a problem. The UK is open to travel and we're already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK, be it tourists, business people or students," British High Commissioner Alex Ellis had said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We have been having detailed technical discussions regarding certification, with the builders of the CoWin app and the NHS app, about both apps. They're happening at a rapid pace, to ensure that both countries mutually recognise the vaccine certificates issued by each other," he had said.   -- PTI
16:20   Chirag Paswan's MP cousin gets pre-arrest bail in rape case
A Delhi court on Saturday granted anticipatory bail to Lok Janshakti Party MP Prince Raj who had sought protection from arrest in a rape case.

Special judge Vikas Dhull granted the relief to the politician on a bond of Rs 1 lakh and one surety of like amount. Raj, nephew of the late Ram Vilas Paswan and cousin of Chirag Paswan, is a Member of Parliament from Samastipur in Bihar.

In the application, Raj's advocate Nitesh Rana had claimed that the alleged victim and her male friend were extorting money and blackmailing his client since 2020.

The Delhi Police had filed an FIR on September 9 against Prince Raj on the directions of a court.

The woman, who claims that she was an LJP worker, has accused Raj of raping her while she was unconscious.   -- PTI
16:00   Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mewani to join Cong
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM) MLA Jignesh Mewani from Gujarat are expected to join the Congress party on September 28, said Congress party sources.

ANI had earlier reported that Communist Party of India leader Kanhaiya Kumar is in touch with Rahul Gandhi and is expected to join the Congress party soon.

Gandhi is building a team of young leaders, and Kumar and Mewani are expected to play a crucial role in this team.

"Kanhaiya Kumar will serve as an important young face of the party in Bihar and will also have a national role to play," said sources.

They further said that Kumar recently met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to discuss the matter.

The party is said to be strategising a national movement against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

For this, influential youth leaders have been identified and Gandhi is constituting a team of these young leaders.

Currently, Kumar, a CPI leader, is a member of the National Executive Council, a top decision-making body of the party.

While Mewani is an independent MLA from Vadgam constituency in Gujarat and convener of RDAM.

In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly election, the Congress party did not field its candidate against Mewani in the Vadgam constituency.  -- ANI
15:07   Cinemas, theatres in Maha to reopen from Oct 22
JUST IN: Cinemas, theatres in Maharashtra to reopen from October 22, in compliance with COVID-19 safety norms, announces Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Secretariat.   -- ANI
14:27   CJI offers prayers at Puri temple
Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana on Saturday visited Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and offered prayers before taking a tour of the 12th century shrine.

He is scheduled to inaugurate Odisha State Legal Services Authority's new building in Cuttack later in the day, official sources said.

On his arrival at the Lion's Gate of the shrine, the CJI, who flew down to Puri on Friday on a two-day visit to the state, was received by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's private secretary VK Pandian, chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Krishan Kumar, and district collector Samarth Verma.

The CJI, who spent 45 minutes inside the temple complex, appreciated the SJTA for its ongoing beautification work at the shrine and its surroundings, one of the priests said.

Chief Justice of Orissa High Court S Muralidhar, Archaeological Survey of India's superintendent (Odisha circle) Arun Kumar Mallik and other high officials were present at the temple during the visit.

The CJI will be returning to Delhi in the evening.   -- PTI
India's Forex reserves in the past one year.
14:14   Over 82.57 cr Covid vaccine doses given to states, UTs so far: Govt
More than 82.57 crore Covid vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories so far and over 94 lakh doses are in the pipeline, the Union health ministry said on Saturday.

Over 4.15 crore balance and unutilised vaccine doses are still available with the states and the union territories for inoculation, it said.

The Union government is committed to accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of Covid vaccination throughout the country, the ministry said in a statement.

'More than 82.57 crore (82,57,88,115) vaccine doses have been provided to states/UTs so far through the government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category. Further, more than 94 lakh doses (94,37,525) are in the pipeline,' it said.

The inoculation drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advance visibility of vaccine availability to states and union territories for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the vaccine supply chain, it added.

As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Centre has been supporting the states and union territories by providing them Covid vaccines free of cost, the statement said.

Under the universalisation of the Covid vaccination drive, the central government procures and supplies free of cost 75 percent of the vaccines being produced by vaccine manufacturers in the country to states and union territories.   -- PTI
13:52   China threat: Quad to deploy secure 5G networks
Amid growing security concern over misuse of 5G technologies by Chinese companies, leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India on Friday agreed to advance the deployment of 'secure, open and transparent' 5G telecommunications networks and work to bolster supply chain security for semiconductors.

Discussion at the first in-person summit of the leaders of the four democracies, which are known as the Quad reflected the concerns of the member countries about the concentration of the world's semiconductor manufacturing capacity largely in China and also the hold of the Asian country on 5G networks.

In Washington, DC US President Joe Biden was joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and they focussed on cooperation on critical and emerging technologies.

'We have established cooperation on critical and emerging technologies, to ensure the way in which technology is designed, developed, governed, and used is shaped by our shared values and respect for universal human rights,' said the joint statement of Quad leaders put out by the White House after the summit.

'In partnership with industry, we are advancing the deployment of secure, open, and transparent 5G and beyond-5G networks, and working with a range of partners to foster innovation and promote trustworthy vendors and approaches such as Open-RAN,' the statement added.

The US has been at the forefront of an effort to restrict the use of Huawei equipment in 5G mobile networks, citing serious security issues.

Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp were designated as national security threats by the US, saying they have close ties with the Chinese Communist Party and China's military apparatus.

Huawei is also facing resistance from other governments over the risk that its technology could be used for espionage.

'Acknowledging the role of governments in fostering an enabling environment for 5G diversification, we will work together to facilitate public-private cooperation and demonstrate in 2022 the scalability and cybersecurity of open, standards-based technology.

'With respect to the development of technical standards, we will establish sector-specific contact groups to promote an open, inclusive, private-sector-led, multi-stakeholder, and consensus-based approach.

'We will also coordinate and cooperate in multilateral standardisation organisations such as the International Telecommunication Union,' said the joint statement.

Moreover, the Quad countries also said that they are mapping the supply chain of critical technologies and materials, including semiconductors.

'We affirm our positive commitment to resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains of critical technologies, recognising the importance of government support measures and policies that are transparent and market-oriented,' said the statement.

The leaders also reiterated that they will monitor critical and emerging technologies of the future, beginning with biotechnology.

'We are monitoring trends in the critical and emerging technologies of the future, beginning with biotechnology, and identifying related opportunities for cooperation,' said the statement.

The Quad countries also launched Quad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Use that will guide not only the region but the world towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation.   -- ANI

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga before the Quad summit, in Washington DC on Friday. Photograph: ANI Photo
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi reaches Raj Bhawan to meet Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
12:21   Punjab cabinet finalised, Channi to meet Guv
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi will meet Governor Banwarilal Purohit this afternoon as the list of legislators for the new cabinet has been finalised, sources said.

Channi is expected to meet the governor at 12.30 pm and the oath-taking ceremony for the new ministers is likely to take place Sunday, they said.

The development comes hours after Channi returned from Delhi having held a final round of discussion with the party high command on the faces to be included in the new cabinet.

The sources said seven fresh faces are likely to find place in the Channi-led cabinet and five MLAs who were ministers in the Amarinder Singh government are likely to be dropped.

Channi was summoned to Delhi by the Congress high command on Friday to discuss the cabinet expansion.

The visit came within hours of him returning from the national capital.  -- PTI 
11:46   Rohini court shootout: Security upped in jails
Security has been beefed up in jails where Gogi and Tillu gang members are lodged, officials said Saturday, a day after a bloody shootout in the Rohini courtroom left three gangsters dead.

Jailed gangster Jitendra Gogi and his two assailants posing as lawyers were killed inside the crowded Rohini courtroom Friday in a dramatic shootout that also saw the police fire bullets in retaliation.

A senior jail official said Saturday, 'Security has been raised and officials are keeping a tight vigil on jails where Gogi and Tillu gang members have been lodged.'

Police suspect that Tillu gang was behind the courtroom incident.

The Gogi and Tillu gangs are reportedly at war for years.

Video footage of the courtroom firing incident, which exposed security lapses in the system, showed policemen and lawyers rushing out in panic as gunshots rang out inside courtroom number 207.

The two gunmen dressed as lawyers belonged a rival gang.

Police had said the incident happened around 1.15 pm when Gogi was taken to the courtroom for a hearing.  -- PTI
11:14   India's active Covid cases rise 1,280, cross 3 lakh
India logged 29,616 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of cases to 3,36,24,419, while the active cases rose by 1,280 to reach 3,01,442, according to Union health ministry data updated Saturday.

The death toll climbed to 4,46,658 with 290 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The active cases now constitute 0.90 per cent of the total infections, while the nationwide COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.78 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said.

An increase of 1,280 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours, it said.

The daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.86 per cent, while the weekly positivity rate was 1.99 per cent. The latter has been below 3 per cent for the last 92 days, it said.

India's tally of cases 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 cases on May 4 and three crore on June 23.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,28,76,319 and the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.33 per cent.

On the inoculation front, the cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive has exceeded 84.89 crore.

As many as 15,92,421 tests were conducted on Friday, taking the total cumulative tests conducted so far for detection of COVID-19 in the country to 56,16,61,383.

The 290 new fatalities include 127 from Kerala, 51 from Maharashtra and 27 from Tamil Nadu.

A total of 4,46,658 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 1,38,776 from Maharashtra, 37,706 From Karnataka, 35,454 from Tamil Nadu, 25,085 from Delhi, 24,318 from Kerala, 22,890 from Uttar Pradesh and 18,716 from West Bengal.

The ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding that the state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation. 
Kamla Bhasin/Facebook
Kamla Bhasin/Facebook
11:11   Eminent women's rights activist Kamla Bhasin passes away
Activist Kavita Srivastava said on Twitter Bhasin breathed her last around 3 am.

Bhasin has been a prominent voice in the women's movement in India and other South Asian countries.

"Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women's movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief," Kavita Srivastava tweeted.
10:19   Modi's wise words for UPSC candidates who cleared and those who didn't
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday congratulated those who cleared the UPSC's civil services examination and said an exciting and satisfying career in public service awaits them as they will go on to have key administrative roles during an important period of India's journey.

He also had a word of encouragement for those who fell short.

He tweeted, "To those young friends who did not clear the UPSC examination, I would like to say -- you are very talented individuals. There are more attempts awaiting. At the same time, India is full of diverse opportunities waiting to be explored. Best wishes in whatever you decide to do."

A total of 761 candidates -- 545 men and 216 women -- have cleared the test, conducted annually to select the country's bureaucrats, diplomats and police officers, among other civil servants.

Bihar's Shubham Kumar and Madhya Pradesh's Jagrati Awasthi have achieved the first and second ranks respectively in the coveted civil services examination, results of which were announced on Friday by the UPSC.
10:08   Modi raises H-1B visas issue with Biden: Shringla
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first-ever in-person meeting with President Joe Biden raised a number of issues involving the Indian community in America, including access for Indian professionals in the US and speaking about the H-1B visas, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said.

Prime Minister Modi described as "outstanding" his first bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with US President Joe Biden who said the Indo-US relationship is destined to be "stronger, closer and tighter".

The prime minister and his counterparts - Scott Morrison of Australia and Japan's Yoshihide Suga also attended the meeting of Quad leaders hosted by US President Biden in the US capital on Friday.

"He (Modi) spoke of the issue of getting access for Indian professionals to the United States. In that context he mentioned H-1B visa," Shringla told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

The most sought-after H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

"He also spoke of the fact that many Indian professionals who work here contribute to Social Security. The return of those contributions in the United States is something that affects the number of Indian workers," Shringla said.

A fact sheet issued by the White House later said that the United States was proud to have issued a record 62,000 visas to Indian students so far in 2021. The nearly 200,000 Indian students in the United States contribute USD 7.7 billion annually to the US economy.

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Programme worldwide, the programme has been bringing Americans and Indians closer together for 71 years since its launch in India.

"In 2008, we welcomed India's decision to jointly fund these fellowships with the United States, and renamed the program the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Program. Over 20,000 fellowships and grants have been awarded under this exchange programme, and the United States looks forward to building on these successes," it said.

"The Partnership 2020 programme continues to foster higher education cooperation to promote economic growth and technological advances. In collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, this programme funds 15 research partnerships between US and Indian universities in the fields of advanced engineering, artificial intelligence, public health, and energy, among others," the White House said.

According to the White House, the upcoming launch of the US-India Alliance for Women's Economic Empowermenta public-private partnership between the Department of State, USAID, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, and George Washington Universitywill help catalyse collaboration to advance women's economic resilience and empowerment in India.

The US-funded Nexus startup and innovation hub showcases the best of American and Indian entrepreneurial innovation and technology commercialisation. Nexus serves as a central hub for entrepreneurs, innovators, faculty, industry players, and funding organisations interested in promoting Indian startups and the local entrepreneurial ecosystem," it said.

Since 2016, Nexus's 138 graduates have raised over USD 19 million in outside funding and closed over 70 deals with many prominent Indian and US companies, it said.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration works closely with Indian counterparts in areas such as ocean and fisheries science, meteorology, and earth observation, which helps us better understand climate change and save lives through improved weather modeling and information sharing," the White House said.

The US Department of Agriculture looks forward to cooperating with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research on climate-change issues related to agriculture through strategic research on crops, livestock, and fisheries, it said.

USAID looks forward to working with the Indian government on establishing the US-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation to promote initiatives and exchanges that honor both visionary leaders, it added.
09:47   Ensure BJPs defeat in Goa: Rahul tells Congress leaders
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has directed the leaders of his party in Goa, where Assembly polls are due in February next year, to launch an aggressive campaign in the state and ensure the defeat of the ruling BJP.

Gandhi gave this direction during a meeting of party leaders, which he chaired in New Delhi on Friday, Congress's Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said in a statement.

Apart from Rao, party's senior election observer for the Goa Assembly polls P Chidambaram, general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, GPCC president Girish Chodankar and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Digambar Kamat attended the meeting.

"Our leader Rahul Gandhi wants the Congress party in Goa to fulfill the aspirations and respect the sentiments of people of Goa," Rao said.

Gandhi asked the party leaders to launch an aggressive campaign and ensure the defeat of the BJP in the forthcoming Assembly elections, he said.

"We will take along our well-wishers, sympathisers, supporters in our Victory March towards Elections-2022. We are certain to defeat Team BJP," Rao added.

In the 2017 Goa Assembly polls, the Congress had won the highest 17 seats in the 40-member House, restricting the BJP to 13. However, surprising the Congress, the saffron party had allied with regional parties and came to power.

Over the years, Congress's strength in the Legislative Assembly dwindled to five after many of its MLAs switched sides and joined the ruling BJP.

Gandhi's meeting with the party leaders took place amid indications that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) may jump into the poll fray in the coastal state.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also gearing up for the polls. Earlier this week, the party's national convener Arvind Kejriwal visited the state and announced that if voted to power, his party would ensure that 80 per cent of jobs, including in the private sector, would be reserved for local people. He also assured a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 to families dependent on mining and tourism industries till these sectors are normalised.
09:30   Modi's UNGA address to focus on Covid, terrorism
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday during which he is likely to focus on "pressing global challenges" including the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues.

The theme for this year's General Debate is 'Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations.

"Landed in New York City. Will be addressing the UNGA at 6:30 PM (IST) on the 25th," PM Modi tweeted soon after he landed in New York.

The high-level segment of the 76th UNGA began in New York on Tuesday. The UNGA meeting this year is in a hybrid format but a large number of leaders have arrived in New York.

Prime Minister Modi will speak on various important issues including cross-border terrorism, regional situation and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said earlier.

Regarding India's permanent membership at the UNSC, Shringla said PM Modi will lay emphasis upon the UNSC reforms during his address.

"India's Amrit Mahotsav and the 75th-anniversary of the UN are coinciding. And on this occasion, Prime Minister Modi during his address will definitely speak on UN reforms, about why it is needed and how it can be achieved," he said.

Modi had arrived in Washington on Wednesday for a three-day visit to the country on Wednesday, his first beyond neighbourhood since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister held bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris here. He also met his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga. PM Modi also participated in the first in-person Quad Summit in Washington after COVID-19.

He also held meetings with five global CEOs for potential investment in India on Thursday.
08:52   Pak is arsonist, not fire-fighter: India at UNGA
Pakistan, where terrorists enjoy free pass, is an "arsonist" disguising itself as a "fire-fighter", and the entire world has suffered because of its policies as the country nurtures terrorists in its backyard, India has said in a blistering retort after Prime Minister Imran Khan raked up the issue of Kashmir in his address to the UN General Assembly.

"We exercise our Right of Reply to one more attempt by the leader of Pakistan to tarnish the image of this august Forum by bringing in matters internal to my country, and going so far as to spew falsehoods on the world stage," first secretary Sneha Dubey said in the UN General Assembly on Friday.

"While such statements deserve our collective contempt and sympathy for the mindset of the person who utters falsehood repeatedly, I am taking the floor to set the record straight," the young Indian diplomat said, slamming the Pakistani leader for raking up the Kashmir issue in his address to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

"We keep hearing that Pakistan is a 'victim of terrorism'. This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a fire-fighter. Pakistan nurtures terrorists in their backyard in the hope that they will only harm their neighbours. Our region, and in fact the entire world, has suffered because of their policies. On the other hand, they are trying to cover up sectarian violence in their country as acts of terror," Dubey said.

Khan in his address had spoken about the August 5, 2019 decision of the Indian government on the abrogation of Article 370 as well as the death of pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

In the Right of Reply, Dubey strongly reiterated that the entire Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh "were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. This includes the areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation."

Khan and other Pakistani leaders and diplomats have consistently raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and other internal matters of India in their addresses to the UN General Assembly and other forums of the world organisation.

Pakistan's attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue have gained no traction from the international community and the Member States, who maintain that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between the two countries.

Dubey said it is regrettable that this is not the first time the leader of Pakistan has "misused" platforms provided by the UN to "propagate false and malicious propaganda against my country, and seeking in vain to divert the world's attention from the sad state of his country where terrorists enjoy free pass while the lives of ordinary people, especially those belonging to the minority communities, are turned upside down."
ANI Photo
ANI Photo
08:07   India, US to take on toughest challenges: Biden
India and the US are the world's largest democracies and the two countries are committed to taking on the toughest challenges together, President Joe Biden said after his first-ever in-person meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.

The meeting of the two leaders in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday lasted for more than 90 minutes, instead of the scheduled 60 minutes.

"This morning, I hosted Prime Minister Modi at the White House as we launch a new chapter in the history of US-India ties. Our two nations are the largest democracies in the world, and we're committed to taking on the toughest challenges we face together, " Biden said in a tweet along with a picture of shaking hands with Modi.

Prime Minister Modi said he had an "outstanding" meeting with US President Biden.

"His leadership on critical global issues is commendable. We discussed how India and the USA will further scale-up cooperation in different spheres and work together to overcome key challenges like COVID-19 and climate change," he said.

Later while briefing the media, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that the two leaders acknowledge that the comprehensive global strategic partnerships between two countries are strongly anchored in a shared commitment to democratic values and common strategic interests.

"It was a meeting which is characterized by warmth and cordiality. It was both productive and timely," he said.

Noting that the discussions were wide-ranging, he said that both leaders emphasised on combating the CoVID-19 crisis and briefed each other on their experiences in dealing with the pandemic.

Shringla said the prime minister expressed thanks for the solidarity shown by the US government and people in the United States when India had a second wave of the crisis, and the support India received for that time.

"President Biden appreciated India's role as a country that extended assistance to countries across the world, including through pharmaceuticals and vaccines," he said.

Biden was also very impressed with the government's approach and the steps taken by the Government of India to deal with the second wave and the level of recovery, Shringla said.

"The swiftness of recovery was something that was commented on very favorably by President Biden," he said.

President Biden, during the discussion on vaccines, appreciated the decision of the Government of India to resume exporting the vaccines in October. He said that the US itself had announced significant increases in their own distribution of vaccines. This also came up during the Quad summit, he said.

Essentially, there was the sense that Indian vaccines, which have quality, are affordable, which will also be scaled up significantly, would make a difference in terms of the availability of vaccines and dealing with vaccine inequity in the developing world, in particular, Shringla said.

Later in a fact sheet, the White House said the United States and India are committed to values of freedom, pluralism, openness, and respect for human rights.
04:00   Modi likely to skip Quad leaders' meet with Harris
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday is likely to skip the Quad leaders meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris.

The reason behind Prime Minister Modi's skipping the meeting is yet to be ascertained. 

The other Quad leaders -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga -- are expected to attend the event.

The meeting with the US vice president comes after the much-anticipated first in-person meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad - India, the United States, Australia and Japan) was held on Friday. The meeting was hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
01:13   Quad would act as 'force of global good': Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his counterparts from Australia and Japan on Friday attended the first in-person summit of Quad leaders hosted by US President Joe Biden and said that he firmly believed that the grouping of four democracies would act as a "force for global good" and ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific as well as the entire world.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China's growing military presence in the strategic region.

At the invitation of President Biden, Prime Minister Modi and his counterparts Scott Morrison from Australia and Yoshihide Suga from Japan met at the White House for the first-ever in-person Quad summit. President Biden hosted the first virtual summit of the four leaders in March.

Opening the summit, President Biden said the four democracies have come together to take on common challenges from Covid to climate. This group has democratic partners who share world views and have common vision for the future, he said.

"We know how to get things done and are up to the challenge," he said.

In a short and crisp opening address, Prime Minister Modi said that he was confident that "our participation in Quad will ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific as well as the entire world."

"I am confident that our cooperation will establish peace and prosperity in the world and Indo-Pacific. I firmly believe our Quad would act as a force for global good. We had come together for first time after the 2004 Tsunami for regional cooperation in Indo-Pacific.

Today, as the world is fighting COVID-19, we as part of Quad have come together again for humanity. Our Quad vaccine initiative will greatly help the Indo-Pacific countries," he said.

"On the basis of our shared democratic values, Quad has decided to move forward with a positive thinking and a positive approach.

"Be it supply chain or global security, climate action or covid response, or cooperation in technology, I would feel happy to discuss with my partners in Quad," Prime Minister Modi said.