· PM Modi's e-participation at AMU's centenary celebrations likely to face some opposition
· Sunni Central Wakf Board Releases Design Of Babri Masjid To Be Built Over Govt Land, AIMPLB Says “Proposed Mosque Will be Najayaz”
· UP-Delhi Border Partially Shut Amid Farm Protests
· Farmers at Ghazipur Border Set Up 'Neki Ki Divar' to Facilitate Donations, Observe 'Shradhanjali Diwas' to mark death of protestors
· India requires Rs 80,000 cr for vaccine distribution next year: vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India
· Concern among Muslims over halal status of Covid-19 vaccine
· Nepal PM Oli recommends dissolution of Parliament, President Bhandari announces fresh election
PM Modi's e-participation at AMU's centenary celebrations likely to face some opposition
Aligarh: The ongoing centenary celebrations at AMU are all virtual, thanks to the Covid pandemic. The university, however, is gearing up for December 22 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate as chief guest in the celebrations via video link. Opposing the PM's participation, some student leaders have decided to display black flags outside the administrative block of the university.PM Modi will attend the online function along with Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. Though there is no physical event, the entire campus has been decorated and lit up, marking 100 years of the university. Various activities and seminars are being held virtually.At least 20-22 RAF personnel have already been deployed outside the university in addition to usual security. There will be additional deployment outside the varsity on the day of PM's participation to ensure smooth conduct of the event.While many students and faculty have expressed happiness over PM's attendance, some are opposed to it.Nadeem Ansari, former vice-president of AMU Students' Union, said Modi's presence will not be tolerated in any way. He said if V-C is looking for personal benefits, then he can call him at his residence on Marris Road. "If the atmosphere of the university deteriorates due to this programme, it will be the responsibility of the university administration," he said. Ansari further said, "If this is not done, black flags will be shown at the place where the online programme will be held in order to protest against his presence in the event," he added.AMU student leader Farhan Zubairi said the university is proud that even after being called the base of terrorism, the PM will inaugurate the centenary celebration of the university.AMU spokesman Omar Peerzada said PM Modi will be the chief guest of this event along with Union minister Pokhriyal. Professor Rehan Akhtar Kasami of Faculty of Theology at the university has expressed happiness over the fact that PM Modi will join the online programme as the main guests. Historian Irfan Habib is critical of PM Modi coming to AMU programme. Habib said it is clear that scholars come here as it is an esteemed university; it does not matter whether the prime minister comes or not.He further said PM Modi is coming to that state which has passed what he calls an anti-minority 'love jihad' law. Habib said it is very difficult to ruin our culture but RSS has always been anti-Muslim. He added that if someone visits AMU, then it will have an impact nationally. SP leader and former MP Choudhary Bijendra Singh has raised questions over PM Modi's participation. He said it is propaganda to cultivate votes against the Muslim community. "Now, the prime minister is coming; this is a slap on the faces of those who raised questions over Jinnah's picture in the student union hall of the university which was a part of its pre-Independence setup. They should learn from this, it is all drama," he added.
UP-Delhi Border Partially Shut Amid Farm Protests
New Delhi: As protests against the centre's contentious agricultural laws near Delhi borders entered their 25th day, demonstrators paid tributes to those who've lost lives at the protest sites. Delhi-UP border is partially shut as the agitation intensifies amid assurances from govt on MSP for their agricultural produce, a concern repeatedly raised by farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday yet again defended the new laws. "Agriculture reforms initiated 6 months back have started benefitting farmers," he said without referring to the protests. Protesters have partially blocked the Delhi-Meerut highway and warned the government to allow free passage to the farmers coming to join them from other states. They said they will block the highway completely in the next 24 hours if their demands are not met. Amid protests at Delhi borders, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at the centre on Saturday and defended the middlemen in the state targeted in tax raids, saying these oppressive actions will backfire against the ruling BJP. A total of 14 Arhtiyas or farm agents across Punjab have received notices from the IT department.Another farmer group - BKU Ugrahan Group - has claimed they've been warned for receiving foreign funds. "We were called by bank officials and intimated about an email from forex department. Once we receive written communication, we'll respond," Sukhdev Singh, one of the group leaders said.
Farmers want better APMCs, not ‘mukti’ from them, says AIKMS
Left-affiliated All-India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) on Sunday released a document countering the claims of the Modi government on the three contentious farm laws, saying that the government’s arguments for not repealing the legislations were “deceptive” and “untruthful”. It also accused the government of propagating “falsehood” to claim that the laws would help farmers.In a 24-page document, the central executive committee of AIKMS said the farmers had demanded improvement in the functioning of the mandis under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act and not “mukti” (freedom) from them. It countered the government’s claim that the reforms were aimed at increasing private capital, infrastructure and development to reach villages, saying the functioning of the government mandis, supply of fertilisers, seeds, electricity and irrigation would get de-promoted with the government promoting private companies under the new laws.
Farmers at Ghazipur Border Set Up 'Neki Ki Divar' to Facilitate Donations, Observe 'Shradhanjali Diwas' to mark death of protestors
It was a normal roadside wall of brick and mortar till a day ago, but now it is called "Neki ki divar" (wall of goodness). From clothes to toiletries to medicines, the protesters who are continuing their sit-in at Delhi's Ghazipur border against the Centre's new agri laws can get these things by writing their needs on this wall."We have set up a 'neki ki divar' today. The idea is to ensure all our farmer brothers and sisters are well equipped to be a part of the protest and keep themselves warm in Delhi's harsh weather," Survinder Kisan, one of the protesters at Ghazipur border, said. 2 kiosks have been attached to the roadside wall at the protest site. "At one place people can leave what they want to donate and the other side is for protesters who can collect things as per their needs from the existing stock," he said. "If what they need is not available, they can write it on the wall and it will be provided to them," Survinder Kisan, one of the protesters at the Ghazipur border said.Space has been left on the wall and chalks have been kept, so that people can leave messages about their needs, he said, adding a register will also be maintained. They are providing masks, sanitisers, medicines, toiletries, beddings, woollen clothes. "We will add more items. Food is already being served at langars, Survinder said.
Why is PM Modi Silent on Death of 33 Protesting Farmers, Asks Congress
NEW DELHI – Blaming the Centre for the death of 33 farmers during their ongoing protest, the Congress on Sunday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the issue amid the farmers’ sit-in on the Delhi borders since November 26. All India Kisan Sabha observed Sunday as ‘Shradhanjali Divas’ to commemorate the death of 33 farmers in accidents or due to illness and cold weather conditions ever since they started protesting on Delhi borders against the three central farm laws. “Why hasn’t Modi uttered a single word? Why is our Prime Minister ‘maun’ (silent)? Our ‘annadatas’ (food providers) are sitting on the Delhi borders along with their wives and children in one of the coldest winters Delhi has experienced, but our Union Home Minister Amit Shah has no time for them but has time to go to West Bengal,” Congress spokesperson Shama Mohammed said .
PM Modi makes ‘surprise visit’ to Gurdwara Rakabganj amid farmer protests
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday visited the Gurdwara Rakabganj in Delhi to pay tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, a day after the death anniversary of the Sikh guru.Modi’s “surprise visit” to the shrine comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of Sikh farmers from Punjab are protesting at key entry points to Delhi against his government’s new agricultural legislations. He has repeatedly tried to assuage the anger of farmers, saying the reforms were introduced for their benefit. Unidentified officials told PTI that no additional security arrangements, or traffic restrictions were imposed for the prime minister’s visit.
Lies of Godi media exposed again! Those who met with PM Modi in Kutch were not farmers but BJP activists:nationalheraldindia
At a time when at least 22 farmers have lost their lives and lakhs of farmers are camping in the deadly winter at various borders around Delhi, demanding the repeal of the contentious farm laws, PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with a delegation of farmers in Kutch, Gujarat dominated the headlines last week.Media reports said the prime minister met farmers (of his own choice) to dispel their worries and address their grievances regarding farms laws, but it was later revealed after an investigation that it was all lies propagated by the media with an aim to: 1)Divert the attention from the protest. 2)And to send out a message that PM is not indifferent to the farmers’ plight and protest. An investigation by Junputh (a Hindi website) and NH revealed that those who met the PM during his Kutch visit were BJP activists from Sikh community, not farmers. And the topic of the discussion was not even related to the protest but the construction of a Gurudwara in Lakhpat Taluka in Kutch region. The person who led the delegation of the so called farmers is BJP general secretary of Kutch zone – Raju Bhai Sardar. Donning an orange turban, Raju Sardar can be seen sitting in front of the PM in the picture tweeted out by the news agency ANI on December 15.
Govt ‘fully responsible’ for burdening this court: Supreme Court
The govt is “fully responsible” for burdening this court, a bench of Supreme Court judges said on Friday while hearing an intervention sought in connection with cases on seniority and promotion.The top court bench, headed by justice Sanjay K Kaul, expressed displeasure at multiple petitions filed in appeal against job-related benefits to serving or retired govt employees.
Sunni Central Wakf Board Releases Design Of Babri Masjid To Be Built Over Govt Land, AIMPLB Says “Proposed Mosque Will be Najayaz”
While UP Sunni Central Wakf Board (UPSCWB) on Saturday released a blueprint of the mosque and other buildings to be built over five acres of land allotted by the UP government in Dhannipur village on the outskirts of Ayodhya for construction of a mosque in place of Babri Masjid whose site has been given for Ram Temple through a judicial verdict, Babri Masjid Committee of AIMPLB says that the proposed mosque to be constructed on the government land will be “najayaz” or illegal under the Islamic law as also the constitutional law of India.The board had already rejected the offer of the land in its review petition of the Supreme Court judgement. The review petition was, however, dismissed by the apex court.When questioned over the release of the design of the mosque by Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF) Trust set up by the UPSCWB for construction of Babri Masjid, Lucknow-based advocate Zafaryab Jilani, who is one of the prominent members of AIMPLB and the Babri Masjid Committee, said, “AIMPLB and the Babri Masjid Committee have been against any exchange of the Babri Masjid land and it was very clearly presented before the Supreme Court as well. The Board considers taking of the land as “najayaz, illegal and against ‘shariyat’(Islamic law) as also the Constitutional law of the nation”.“We had taken a stand that taking land in exchange for the mosque land is illegal. When the land itself is illegal, the mosque built over it will also be illegal. And we don’t want an illegal mosque”, he said.Regarding the UPSCWB having accepted the land and also formed a trust to go ahead with construction of the mosque as well as other facilities, he said that the offer of land was accepted by 4 members of the board including its chairman Zufar Farooqui but two other members rejected it. Echoing the views of Jilani, former co-convener of AIMPLB’s Babri Masjid Committee Dr Qasim Rasool Ilyas said, “A Masjid or the land on which a Masjid once stood or the land ‘wakfed’ or donated permanently for a Masjid, cannot be sold out, transferred or exchanged under any circumstances under the Islamic law”. The same position, he said, was also there under the Indian `wakf’ laws. “Once a land is ‘wakfed’, it always remains a wakf land for the purpose it is given, allotted or donated. Even the donor can’t reclaim it”, he clarified.India Tomorrow
Allahabad High Court Grants Bail to Peace Activist Faisal Khan
NEW DELHI – Peace activist Faisal Khan, who was arrested in November for offering namaz at a temple in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, was granted bail by the Allahabad high court on Friday. “Only on the basis of photographs which went viral, the applicant cannot be said to have intention to disturb the communal harmony of society. He did not enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple; rather, he performed namaz outside of the temple with the permission of the priest of the temple as clear from the viral photographs. The allegation of receiving foreign funds is without basis,” the bail order was quoted by The Wire as saying.Justice Siddharth granted bail to Faisal Khan on the condition that he will not use social media for any such purposes till the conclusion of the trial. His case was argued by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves.
UP: Man, his parents, siblings booked for ‘love jihad’
A 27-year-old man, his parents, three siblings and three others have been booked under section 3/5 of Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 in Shahjahanpur district. This is the tenth such case in the state after the new law came into force.The man has been also booked on charges of rape and extortion the complaint of a 40-year-old woman, who is married and mother of a 20-year-old boy and a 17-year-old daughter. Her husband works in a metropolitan city. Accompanied by Bajrang Dal activists, the woman went to the Chowk Kotwali police station on Friday to register the complaint. The victim alleged that the accused had introduced himself as Sunil and befriended her. One day, he allegedly raped her at gunpoint and took her obscene pictures which he used for blackmailing her. "Later, he revealed that he is a Muslim and forced me to convert for 'nikah' with the help of his family members and a cleric. When she resisted, she was allegedly raped on the instructions of the cleric. The accused had also blackmailed her to extort money," the woman said.IANS
‘Love jihad’ drama ends after Moradabad woman has abortion
22-year-old woman from Moradabad, who was sent off to a shelter home after her husband was arrested under the new 'love jihad' law, has suffered a miscarriage, according to the ultrasound examination conducted by a private lab.Earlier this month, the police in Moradabad had arrested a man and his brother under the new anti-conversion law.The man, identified as Rashid, was at the registrar's office in Kanth when he was handed over to the police by members of the fringe outfit Bajrang Dal.Rashid and his brother were released on Saturday following an order by an Uttar Pradesh court as the police could not find evidence to support the allegations that the woman was forcibly converted.IANS
UP 'Love Jihad' Arrest: Private Lab Confirms Miscarriage of 22-Year-Old Woman
New Delhi: A private lab in Bijnor has confirmed that 22-year-old woman, who was sent to a shelter home pursuant to a report by a Bajrang Dal unit to Uttar Pradesh police about an alleged instance of ‘love jihad’ made punishable under the recently promulgated anti-conversion ordinance in the state, had a miscarriage.Her mother-in-law claimed that the miscarriage was a result of torture inflicted on her at the shelter home.“We found that the woman had had a miscarriage. There is an infection in her uterus, which should be treated to avoid further complications,” Dr P.S. Sisodia, who had performed the woman’s ultrasound at a registered private lab in Bijnor’s Dhampur had told TOI.
Gujarat Minority panel seeks FIR against BJP MP for seeking law to curb ‘love jihad’
Ahmedabad :Days after BJP’s Bharuch MP Mansukh Vasava wrote to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asking him to usher in a strict law to curtail cases of “love jihad” in the state, Gujarat Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) on Saturday demanded an FIR be filed against the parliamentarian.“We have written to DGP of Gujarat Police seeking an FIR to be filed against Mansukh Vasava for attempting to create communal discord and trying to vitiate the atmosphere against Muslim community in the state,” Mujahid Nafees, the convenor of MCC, said.The organisation also attached a copy of the letter that the MP had tweeted from his official account on December 15.
Dozens Cows Found Dead In Govt-Run Gaushala In UP, Who Is Responsible?
NEW DELHI—Reports of deaths of cows keep coming in from the gaushalas, or cow shelters, both from the state run as well as trusts run by private groups in Uttar Pradesh where the state government has made the anti-cow slaughter laws tougher ever since chief priest of Gorakhnath Math in Gorakhpur became state’s chief minister. Yogi government in June this year brought the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, providing rigorous imprisonment for 10 and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh to prevent cow slaughter in the state. Adityanath, after becoming chief minister, also cracked down on illegal abattoir and made it a crime to store and eat cow meat in the state. In the latest incident, dozens of cows were found dead under mysterious circumstances in a gaushala in Sojanavillage of Lailtpur district on December 17.
Court takes cognisance of offence of sedition against Sharjeel Imam
A Delhi court on Saturday took cognizance of a supplementary charge sheet filed against JNU student Sharjeel Imam in connection to a case related to alleged inflammatory speeches during the protests against CAA and NRC at Jamia Milia Islamia and AMU. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat took cognizance of the offence for sedition (124A), promoting religious enmity (153A), 153B (assertion prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (circulation of certain statement, rumours etc) of IPC against Imam while noting that sanction has been granted by Delhi government under the provision of CrPC.On Saturday, the police, through SPP Amit Prasad, filed supplementary charge sheet mentioning the permission granted by Delhi government for Imam’s prosecution under sedition and promoting religious enmity.
Bound for their homes, Tablighis talk of waiting children, fight for justice
New Delhi :On the surface, Tablighi Jamaat members appear content — looking forward to going home and meeting their loved ones. But a gentle prodding brings forth the anguish, of spending nearly a year in a foreign land, while facing public vilification, accusations of spreading a pandemic, and a long court trial, before finally being exonerated.“My mother suffered 2 brain strokes while I was stuck in India. My old father and wife had to take care of her,” says Jahedul Islam, 32, from Bangladesh. When he contacted the Bangladesh Embassy, he says, they told him their enquiries regarding his status were being stonewalled. “I get a sense that the Bangladesh government is miffed with the way we have been treated.”However, Islam hastily adds, he is not complaining. “Eta kintu abhijog na, apnake khali situation ta bolchilam (I am not complaining, I am just narrating the situation to you)… But I am happy that truth has prevailed,” Islam, who runs a steel workshop in Munshiganj district, says. On December 15, a Delhi court acquitted the last of the 36 foreign Tablighi Jamaat nationals, including Islam, charged with violating Covid guidelines. Irfan, 39, an Australian national, was picked up along with his wife from a friend’s place in the Batla House area, where they had been staying since March 22. They were at the Markaz for a couple of hours. The couple’s three-year-old son has been back home in Brisbane all this while.
"7 Pieces Of False Info": Trinamool's Derek O'Brien Hits Out At Amit Shah
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien hit out at Amit Shah Sunday over "7 pieces of concocted, false info in one speech", a day after the Union Home Minister targeted Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally in Midnapore district.O'Brien, who frequently "fact checks" attacks on the ruling Trinamool, tweeted a screenshot of seven claims made by Shah - whom he painted the "henchman of the tourist gang (a reference to Ms Banerjee describing the BJP as "outsiders") - and offered counter-statements to each."#FactCheck of the speech made in Bengal by the henchman of the "tourist gang". 7 pieces of concocted, false info in one speech. Actually, by his standards, quite low!" Mr O'Brien said.Mr O'Brien led with Amit Shah's claim that Mamata Banerjee had "left the Congress for another party" - a pointed attack on a day that saw over a dozen MPs and MLAs from the Trinamool, Congress and Left parties join the BJP in the Home Minister's presence.
Not Just TMC and Congress, Even Left Front Leaders Join BJP in West Bengal
KOLKATA: As expected, Home Minister Amit Shah’s promised visit to West Bengal on Saturday has proved to be stormy.He has been able to poach leaders not only from TMC, but also from the Congress and even several constituents of Left Front even as elections to 294-member assembly are due in April-May.While addressing his party’s (BJP) rally in Midnapore, Shah warned Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister and TMC founder whom BJP helped dislodge the Left Front ten years ago, that “you will be alone” by the time the polls started.The saffron party chose to hold a public meeting in Midnapore, a stronghold of TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari who quit Mamata’s party and joined BJP along with Sunil Kumar Mondal MP from Bardhaman Purba; nine MLAs; and several others. A total of 10 TMC MLAs, an MP and a former MP have joined BJP.
Congress Begins Reshuffle In 4 States After Meeting With Rebels
New Delhi: Congress is pushing ahead with changes in its organizational leadership after yesterday's meeting with the dissidents with an overhaul in leadership in four states -- Telangana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.So far, Telangana Congress President Uttam Kumar Reddy has resigned taking responsibility for poor performance in Hyderabad local polls. Gujarat Congress President Amit Chavda has also resigned after the party's poor performance in Gujarat by polls.Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who is the state party president, also holds CLP leader's post. Mr Nath was said to play a key role in bringing about the top leadership's meeting with G-23 -- as the rebels who sounded the first note of dissidence have been dubbed.On Saturday, the Congress had made changes in Mumbai Regional Congress Committee. Balasaheb Thorat, who is the Maharashtra Congress president, is also the leader of Maharashtra Congress Legislature PartyThe party's interim president Sonia Gandhi has appointed three All-India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries each for Assam and Kerala, where Assembly polls are due early next year. The newly appointed secretaries will assist the general secretaries in-charge of the two states -- Jitendra Singh for Assam and Tariq Anwar for Kerala.
'Won't Allow Israeli-type Settlement': Militant Body Warns 'RSS Agents' Against 'Usurping J&K Land'
In its new released video, militant organisation People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) has threatened to 'execute' those RSS agents who are planning to settle down in Jammu and Kashmir in the 'guise of civilians'."We won’t allow Israeli-type settler colonies in Kashmir and Indians who want to settle in those colonies will become its legitimate target," a masked man warned in the video released on social media.The man attired in a pheran spoke in Kashmiri. 2 AK rifles and several rounds of ammunition were placed on a table in front of him while the background displayed a book shelf."As a rule, we don't target civilians but all those RSS agents who want to come with a sinister plan of settling down in Kashmir, they would not be spared," he said, adding that they "will go after them".
Vajpayee, Sharif spoke over phone in the midst of Kargil War, says book
Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke to each other on the phone at least four to five times during the course of the Kargil War, with the former veering to the view that Mr. Sharif had been bamboozled by Pakistani army headed by General Pervez Musharraf into the conflict. A new book on the late Prime Minister’s tenure at the helm of affairs in India, called “Vajpayee: The Years That Changed India” by former bureaucrat Shakti Sinha who served as Vajpayee’s private secretary for many years, including in PMO during the conflict, goes on to say that the communication was kept up after a telling incident between Mr. Sharif and R.K. Mishra, former head of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the man selected for back channel talks to end the conflict. “…Sharif’s position was a tenuous one, and in a later meeting, he indicated to Mishra that they should take a walk in the garden, obviously suspecting that his own house was tapped. When Mishra reported this to Vajpayee, the latter took this as an indication that Sharif was more a prisoner of circumstances than anything else,” says the book. “Vajpayee must have spoken to Sharif 4-5 times during the one and a half month period from mid-May to 4th July when the Pakistani PM publicly committed to President Clinton that Pakistan would withdraw its forces to its side of the LoC,” the book further states.
'Using NIA, ED to settle scores shows BJP's frustration': Mehbooba MuftiIndia
Srinagar: PDP chief Mehboob Mufti on Sunday slammed the Central government after the properties of National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah were attached in an alleged money laundering case. She accused BJP of carrying of "sheer political vendetta" against political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir.The former J&K Chief Minister also accused the saffron party of using central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the NIA to "settle scores".Taking to her official Twitter handle, Mehbooba Mufti said, "Attaching Dr Farooq sahab's properties is sheer political vendetta as was evident from the abuses heaped on PAGD by BJP. People of J&K were least impressed & placed their faith in the alliance. Using agencies like NIA & ED to settle scores shows BJPs frustration."
Politicisation of Indian Army a worrying trend, says Lt General (Rtd) HS Panag
It is worrying, says Lieutenant General (Rtd)H.S. Panag, that the top brass of the Indian Army is getting too closely identified with religion and the ruling party. In a free-wheeling conversation, the columnist, defence analyst, strategic affairs commentator and author of a book on the Indian Army this year dwells at length on the challenges ahead. The Rtd Lt General said, "What we see today is different from patriotism or nationalism understood in the conventional sense.Every Indian loves the country, feel proud of the country and that is patriotism. A higher degree of patriotism is nationalism; the independence movement was fought by nationalists. But neo-nationalism is what Hitler built, coloured with a feeling of absolute superiority of theGerman race. Then he started persecuting Jews."
Banks’ Loans Write-off: NDA Scores 3 Times Over UPA: RTI
MUMBAI — In a dubious distinction of sorts, the BJP-led NDA rule achieved the highest loans write-off between 2015 and 2019, which is more than three times compared to the figures of bad loans written off during the previous Congress-led UPA regime from 2004-2014, as per an RTI revelation.During the UPA’s 10-year rule, around Rs 2,20,328 crore was written off by various banks, and this figure shot up to Rs 7,94,354 crore during the NDA regime from 2015-2019, resulting in a corresponding reduction in the banks’ NPAs.The data was provided under an RTI query by Pune-based businessman Prafful Sarda, giving some shocking insights into the state of affairs of not only public sector banks, but also those in the private sector and foreign banks. RTI reply figures around two-dozen public sector banks, some three-dozen in private sector, nine Scheduled Commercial Banks, and a whopping four-dozen foreign banks, and includes several in each category which have not written off any loans.Of the loan write-offs in the Congress’ decade (2004-2014), the PSBs accounted for approximately Rs 1,58,994 crore, while the amounts written off by the private banks was Rs 41,391 crore and for foreign banks it was Rs 19,945 crore, with no write-offs by Scheduled Banks.IANS
India requires Rs 80,000 cr for vaccine distribution next year: vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India
Pune-based vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India, which has partnered with AstraZeneca to manufacture the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, on Saturday said that the country would require a massive funding of Rs 80,000 crore for distribution of the COVID vaccine for the next one year.The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with comorbidities.Three vaccine candidates - Serum Institute-Oxford's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Pfizer vaccine are in the fray for emergency use authorization. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has sought additional data from the Serum Institute as well as Bharat Biotech to get approval.IANS
Concern among Muslims over halal status of Covid-19 vaccine
In October, Indonesian diplomats and Muslim clerics stepped off a plane in China. While the diplomats were there to finalize deals to ensure millions of doses reached Indonesian citizens, the clerics had a much different concern: Whether COVID-19 vaccine was permissible for use under Islamic law. As companies race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and countries scramble to secure doses, questions about the use of pork products _ banned by some religious groups _ has raised concerns about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns.Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport. Some companies have worked for years to develop pork-free vaccines: Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has produced a pork-free meningitis vaccine, while Saudi- and Malaysia-based AJ Pharma is currently working on one of their own.AP
US nurse faints after getting Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shot
Anurse at a Chattanooga hospital in Tennessee, the United States fainted at a press conference after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine shot. The nurse, Tiffany Dover, was addressing a press conference when she lifted her hand to her head, apologized, and said she was feeling dizzy."Sorry, I'm feeling really dizzy," the nurse is heard saying before walking away and fainting on live TV. In the video, she can be seen fainting as doctors catch her and lower her to the ground.While addressing the press conference, Tiffany Dover said, "All of my staff, you know, we are excited to get the vaccine. We are in the COVID unit, so, therefore, you know, my team will be getting the first chances to get the vaccine." It was when she passed out.
Worst is over? India may not see a second peak of coronavirus as daily cases drop, say experts
India may not witness a second peak of coronavirus and even if it occurs, it is unlikely to be as strong as the first one, healthcare experts have said. The statement comes as the coronavirus caseload in India have crossed one crore-mark, though the number of daily cases and daily fatalities have been continuously coming down.India recorded 26,624 new coronavirus cases, 341 deaths in the last 24 hours. Continuing the trend of recoveries exceeding new cases, 29,690 recoveries were reported in India, as per health ministry. This combined with low number of fatalities per day has ensured a total net reduction of the active caseload, the ministry underlined. Speaking to PTI, noted virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said India's curve for daily cases is on a downward slope since a peak in mid-Sept. "At this time, we are getting about 25,500 cases daily compared to over 93,000 cases per day in mid-September. I believe the worst is over. But there will be small peaks in the future just as we witnessed in late Nov," PTI quoted him as saying. When asked about a possible second peak of Covid-19, noted clinical scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang opined the transmission will not be as rapid as was seen the first time and the peak will not be as high, reported PTI.
Coronavirus: Wearing masks mandatory for 6 months in Maharashtra, says CM Thackeray
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said wearing masks will be mandatory for the next six months in the state, HT reported.In an address on social media, the chief minister said experts were in favour of imposing night curfew or another lockdown, but he did not want to impose such restrictions as the coronavirus situation in the state was under control, though not completely.
Netanyahu gets COVID vaccine, starts Israel roll-out
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received a COVID-19 vaccine jab, kicking off a national roll-out over the coming days.Netanyahu, 71, and his health minister were injected on Saturday with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine live on TV at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, and later on, the one from Moderna, marked “the beginning of the end”, he said.The vaccine will be rolled out at 10 hospitals and vaccination centres around Israel for healthcare workers from Sunday, according to the health ministry.
Nepal PM Oli recommends dissolution of Parliament, President Bhandari announces fresh election
In an emergency Cabinet meeting held on Sunday morning, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli recommended dissolution of the Parliament and called for general election. The decision was ratified by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in an official announcement in the afternoon.The President has called a two-phase election to be held on April 30 and May 10, 2021. The dramatic decision came after weeks of tension with challenger Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' who has been demanding that Mr. Oli change his style of governance.The decision was followed by deployment of quick action forces across Kathmandu and other major Nepalese cities and towns. Mr. Oli's government in recent weeks was unable to pass politically sensitive decisions because of the opposition in the Standing Committee of the Nepal Communist Party where Mr. Prachanda's section is in majority. Sunday's decision to dissolve the Parliament has drawn strong criticism from the Opposition and members of the ruling coalition. “The decision is unconstitutional as there is no provision in our 2015 Constitution to dissolve a Parliament that is functioning perfectly well. The problem was inside Nepal Communist Party and the Prime Minister cannot attack Parliament for his inability to deal with intra-party dissidents,” said Rajendra Mahto of Janata Samajvadi Party. Mr. Mahto said Nepal would face uncertain future because of Mr. Oli’s decision. “The decision amounts to a coup,” he said.
Sudanese protesters demand ‘justice’ 2 years after uprising
Protesters in Sudan’s capital and across the country demanded a faster pace to democratic reforms in demonstrations that marked the second anniversary of the uprising that led to the military’s removal of former leader Omar al-Bashir.The protests on Saturday come amid rising tensions between military and civilian members of Sudan’s transitional government, which was set up after al-Bashir’s arrest in April 2019 and has promised sweeping reforms.Black plumes of smoke billowed into the sky from burning tyres in the capital Khartoum’s southern Al-Sahafa district, with protesters marching to the gates of the presidential palace chanting “justice”. Demonstrators, many of them young and frustrated by what they see as a lack of change amid a dire economic crisis, waved the national flag or carried photographs of people killed during past protests as they marched. Demonstrations also took place in Omdurman and Bahri, cities across the Nile from Khartoum, and in key towns including Madani and Atbara, as well as in the east, in Kassala and Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Thousands of people took part, according to estimates by AFP correspondents and other journalists. Protesters at Khartoum’s airport held up printed posters of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his image scored out with the words: “Go away!”
IMF approves release of $1.67 billion in aid to Egypt
IMF approved the release of $1.67bn in financial aid to Egypt on Friday over fears COVID-19 is threatening its economic recovery, New Arab reported. IMF board approved a one year package for Egypt worth $5.2bn back in June, and after this second tranche of cash, $3.6bn will have been released. "The Egyptian authorities have managed well the Covid-19 pandemic and the related disruption to economic activity," Antoinette Sayeh, the IMF deputy managing director, said.
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