FRONT PAGE NEWS
23 Oct 2020
BJP INJECTS FREE COVID VACCINE IN BIHAR ELECTIONS
The BJP promised "residents of Bihar" free vaccination against Covid-19 in
its Bihar assembly election manifesto released Thursday, drawing sharp
reactions from Opposition parties.
Of the eleven commitments in the manifesto, the first is about the free
The Opposition RJD and Congress hit back at the BJP, saying it is
"appalling" to make a vaccine against the Covid pandemic a poll issue. Manoj
Kumar Jha, Rajya Sabha member of RJD said, "I am shocked. In a welfare
state, promising a vaccine for a pandemic, if it is part of an election
manifesto, it shows the level of deterioration in their thinking."
Defending its announcement, the BJP said it's a pledge on a public health
issue. Releasing the party manifesto in Patna, Union Finance Minister
Nirmala Sitharaman said: "After crossing all the stages, there are at least
three vaccines that have reached the last stage, and are on the cusp of
production. After this, if scientific people say this vaccine is fine,
production can take place. Our production capacity, because of the
government's intervention, is very large."
"So when the clearance comes from scientists, our vaccine production will be
at such a level that what we are promising, everyone in Bihar will get a
free vaccine. This is the first promise in our sankalp patra. With
responsibility, we are assuring the people of Bihar that all of you will get
a free vaccine," she said.
The BJP announcement has taken several states also by surprise. Many see
this as the first indication that the Centre will procure the vaccine - or
vaccines - at rates it negotiates and states may then be asked to purchase
their own stocks. This is reinforced by the fact that the National Expert
Group on Vaccine Administration - part of the Centre's Covid task force -
made it clear, in its very first meeting, that states should not chart their
separate pathways for procurement.
Also, significantly, minutes after the statement made by Finance Minister
Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP IT cell's Amit Malviya tweeted: "Like all programs,
Centre will provide vaccines to state at a nominal rate. It is for the state
Govts to decide if they want to give it for free or otherwise. Health being
a state subject, Bihar BJP has decided to give it free. Simple."
ROW IN NEPAL AFTER R&AW CHIEF MEETS KP OLI, PARTY SEEKS DETAILS
Nepal's embattled Prime Minister, K P Sharma Oli, came under fresh attack
Thursday, including from three former Prime Ministers and his own party
leaders, for meeting Indian R&AW chief Samant Kumar Goel without keeping
them in the loop.
Calling it "improper" and "objectionable", former Prime Ministers Pushpa
Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who is also executive chairman of the ruling Nepal
Communist Party, Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, former Deputy
Prime Ministers Bhim Bahadur Rawal and Narayan Kaji Shrestha held separate
group meetings, and some took to social media to criticise Oli. They asked
him to provide details of the meeting with the R&AW chief that lasted more
than two hours, almost till midnight
The R&AW chief's visit, ahead of Indian Army chief General M M Naravane's
scheduled visit next month, comes at a time when India and Nepal are
attempting to repair ties, severely strained following escalation of the
boundary dispute and Nepal's publication of a map this summer to include
areas of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
GOVT ISSUES WARNING TO TWITTER; CONVEYS STRONG DISAPPROVAL OVER MAP
The government has shot off a stern letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey,
conveying its strong disapproval over misrepresentation of the Indian map,
and asserted that any attempt by the micro-blogging platform to disrespect
the country's sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.
In a strongly-worded letter, IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney has warned the
platform that such attempts not only bring disrepute to Twitter but also
raise questions about its neutrality and fairness as an intermediary.
Sawhney reminded Twitter that Leh is the headquarters of the Union Territory
of Ladakh and both Ladakh as well as Jammu and Kashmir are integral and
inalienable parts of India, governed by the Constitution of India.
EXCEPT FOR TOURISM, ALL CATEGORIES OF FOREIGNERS ALLOWED TO ENTER INDIA
The government on Thursday relaxed visa restrictions to allow all categories
of foreign nationals to enter India through air or sea for any purpose
except for tourism.
It said that the decision was to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel
restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals
who wish to enter or leave India.
According to the MHA order, the relaxations include flights operated under
Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any
non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil
PERSONAL JIBES GALORE AT US PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Joe Biden assailed President Donald Trump as having no plan to stop a "dark
winter" of coronavirus deaths as they sparred in their last head-to-head
clash 12 days before the election. Trump insisted that Covid-19 would soon
go away through medical breakthroughs and pointed to his own recovery since
his first debate.
Donald Trump said the Barack Obama administration left him a "mess" to deal
with in terms of tempering relations between the United States and North
Korea. Trump said during the debate that he had warded off a war that could
have threatened millions of lives. Biden said Trump had "legitimized" a
"thug" by meeting with and forging a relationship with Kim.
Biden said that he had never received "a penny" from foreign sources in his
life. Biden was responding to graft allegations from Trump during the
debate, a line of attack the president has pursued in the final days of the
campaign. "I think you owe an explanation to the American people," Trump
"There is institutional racism in America. We have to give everyone a fair
shot..Donald Trump is the most racist president in modern history," said Joe
"I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American
president. I will represent you - whether you vote for me or against
me.Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that
everyone has an even chance. I'm going to make sure you get that. You
haven't been getting it the last four years." Former vice president and
Democratic nominee Joe Biden says.
Trump has sought since last year to portray Biden as corruptly involved with
his son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine and China, although an
investigation by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee turned up
no evidence to support that allegation.
Trump today described the air in India, China and Russia as "filthy" as he
defended his decision to withdrew from the Paris climate accord, which, he
said, would have made America a non-competitive nation. "I will not
sacrifice millions of jobs... thousands of companies because of the Paris
Accord. It is very unfair," he said during the debate in which the two
candidates avoided shaking hands due to safety risks.
DOCTORS IN SOUTH KOREA CALL FOR FLU VACCINATIONS TO BE PAUSED AFTER 25
South Korean officials refused on Thursday to suspend a seasonal influenza
inoculation effort, despite growing calls for a halt, including an appeal
from a key group of doctors, after the deaths of at least 25 of those
vaccinated. Health authorities said they found no direct links between the
deaths and the vaccines.
At least 22 of the dead, including a 17-year-old boy, were part of a
campaign to inoculate 19 million teenagers and senior citizens for free, the
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. "The number of
deaths has increased, but our team sees low possibility that the deaths
resulted from the shots," the agency's director, Jeong Eun-kyeong, told
South Korea ordered a fifth more flu vaccines this year to ward off what it
calls a "twindemic", or the prospect that people with flu develop
coronavirus complications and overburden hospitals in winter.
RESCINDED ORDER TO ENSURE CBI NOT MISUSED: MAHARASHTRA MINISTER
A day after the state government withdrew "general consent" given to the CBI
to probe cases in the state, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said
the step was taken to ensure that the Central agency was not misused for
political purpose. "The CBI will need Maharashtra Government's permission
henceforth (to operate in the state). It can't carry out investigation here
in Mumbai till we issue permission," the minister said today.
The Maharashtra Government on Wednesday withdrew general consent given to
the agency to probe cases in the state, a day after the CBI took over a case
registered by the UP Police against "unknown" channels and persons over
alleged fudging of TRPs.
The move follows apprehension in the state government that the CBI would
take over a similar case on alleged fudging of TRPs in Maharashtra in a bid
to move it away from the purview of the Mumbai Police.
Agency sources, however, said the Maharashtra Home Department's decision
would have no impact on the cases that the CBI has already been
investigating in the state. "Even in cases where courts order probe by the
CBI, there will be no impact of this order," a senior official said.
It would be interesting here to note that in the recent past several
opposition-ruled states, including West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
and more recently, Rajasthan, had withdrawn general consent, effectively
creating hurdle for the CBI to enter their territories.
WILL TAKE BACK OUR STREETS: ACTIVISTS ON SC ORDER ON PROTESTS
A panel of eminent citizens, including Swaraj India president Yogendra
Yadav, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and writer Arundhati Roy, came
together Thursday to condemn the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this month
that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely for protests and they
must be carried out in a designated area.
They also criticised the state and police's actions in trying to stop people
from protesting peacefully. The discussion was held at the Press Club of
The panel, under the banner of Concerned Citizens Collective, also included
Bezwada Wilson, convenor and founder of Safai Karmachari Andolan; Nivedita
Menon, activist and JNU professor; Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde; and
Nadeem Khan, co-founder of United Against Hate, a civil rights group, among
"Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations
expressing dissent have to be at designated places alone - said the Supreme
Court. We ask - was the Dandi March taken along designated routes? Was
Jallianwala Bagh, the massacre of a gathering by permit, in a designated
spot?" read a joint statement issued by the panel.
The statement also said, "Disruptions of normalcy are the core of a living,
breathing democracy. We shall fight all attempts to stifle our democracy by
criminalising these basic democratic rights. We shall take back our
RAJASTHAN HC STAYS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SHOURIE, OTHERS IN LAXMI VILAS PALACE
The Rajasthan High Court High court on Thursday stayed the proceedings of a
trial court which had ordered reopening of a probe against former
disinvestment minister Arun Shourie and four others over the sale of a
government-owned hotel in Udaipur two decades back.
The Jodhpur bench of the high court has summoned records of the case from
the special CBI court, asking it not to proceed against the five petitioners
until further orders.
Last month, the CBI court ordered the registration of a new FIR against
former Union disinvestment minister Arun Shourie, the then department
secretary Pradip Baijal, Lazard India Ltd managing director Ashish Guha,
valuer Kantilal Karamsey and Bharat Hotels director Jyotsana Suri over the
The CBI had already filed a closure report after its earlier investigation
into the sale of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel. According to the initial
complaint, the five had conspired through the disinvestment process in
1999-2002 to sell the ITDC-owned hotel to a private company for a meagre Rs
7.52 crore, causing a loss of Rs 244 crore to the exchequer.
DR REDDY'S ISOLATES DATA CENTRE SERVICES AFTER CYBER ATTACK
Pharmaceutical industry experts said data breaches at pharma companies often
turned out to be "serious and critical" events that called for measures such
as halting production while the breach was analysed and security issues were
Dr Reddy's Laboratories on Thursday said it had "isolated" its data centre
services after a cyber attack. The Hyderabad- headquartered drug maker
reported the data breach days after it received regulatory approvals to
conduct human trials of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by a Russian
"In the wake of a detected cyber-attack, we have isolated all data centre
services to take required preventive actions," Dr Reddy's told the Bombay
Stock Exchange on Thursday.
The attack, the exact nature of which is not yet public, has reportedly also
forced the firm to temporarily shut down operations at its major
manufacturing facilities across the world. Pharma experts said this is
necessary to minimise the impact of a breach of cyber security.
Besides India, Dr Reddy's has manufacturing facilities in the United States,
United Kingdom, Mexico and China. It has research and development facilities
in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and India.
COURT TO REPUBLIC TV: #ARRESTRHEA, IS THAT NEWS?
Bombay High Court on Wednesday demanded to know from Republic TV if asking
viewers who all should be arrested in a case that is being investigated and
infringing upon a person's rights qualified as "investigative journalism".
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was
referring to the channel "#ArrestRhea" campaign and its reports on the death
of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
The court also asked the channel's lawyer, Malvika Trivedi, why Republic TV
broadcast photos of Sushant's body and speculated on whether the actor's
death was a case of suicide or homicide.
"The grievance is regarding #ArrestRhea. Why is this part of your channel
news?" the bench said. "When a case is under investigation and the issue is
whether it's a homicide or a suicide and a channel is saying it is murder,
is all this investigative journalism?" it asked.
"We are referring to the basic journalism norms, where a basic etiquette has
to be maintained for suicide reporting. No sensational headlines, no
constant repeating. You did not even leave the deceased... forget the
witnesses," the bench said. "You have depicted a lady in such a way that
infringes on her rights. This is our prima facie view," it added.
The bench was on Wednesday hearing the final arguments on a bunch of PILs
seeking that the media be restrained in the reporting on Sushant's death.
The pleas had also sought that TV news channels be stopped from conducting a
The bench had asked all parties to clarify if a statutory mechanism was
required to regulate the content broadcast by the news channels.
WHATSAPP IS COUNTING ON CUSTOMER SERVICE TOOLS, NOT ADS, FOR REVENUE
The world's most popular messaging service is pushing more aggressively into
customer service features, including a pay-to-message option for businesses,
and says it's focusing on enterprise tools, not advertising. WhatsApp paused
plans for targeted advertising late last year, surprising those who thought
it would follow in line with its parent company.
"Our focus has been on the business messaging products," says Matt Idema,
WhatsApp's chief operating officer. He said WhatsApp still envisions ads
inside Status, a feature on the app similar to Facebook's Stories, at some
WhatsApp announced an update Thursday aimed at businesses that use its API,
the software interface that lets companies manage message threads with their
customers outside of the app, like through a third-party dashboard. WhatsApp
currently charges some businesses a small fee - a few cents per message - to
send users things like receipts and confirmation reminders via the app
instead of email.
Now WhatsApp will offer more API features, including free storage to host a
business's messages, in hopes that more of them will sign up for the API.
Idema says 175 million of WhatsApp's 2 billion-plus users interact with a
business on the app every day, a sign that WhatsApp is focused on a function
people care about. Tens of thousands of businesses use the API, Idema said,
though Facebook doesn't disclose WhatsApp's revenue.
IPL: MANISH PANDEY STARS AS SRH WIN AGAINST RR
Sunrisers Hyderabad picked up a much-needed win over Rajasthan Royals on
Thursday (October 22) to keep their playoff hopes alive. After restricting
Royals to 154, SRH were primed for another tough night with the bat before
Manish Pandey (83 off 47, not out) and Vijay Shankar (52 off 51, not out)
combined to chase the target down with relative ease towards the end.
Climbing up to the fifth spot, SRH will now take on KXIP with renewed hope.
It's a massive game for both these sides who managed to win 4 games from 10
games. RR, who have already slipped down the ladder with their seventh loss
of the season, will have their task cut out on Sunday as they take on the
mighty Mumbai Indians.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment
can prove me wrong. - Albert Einstein
There was this physicist who was in the habit of getting home quite late.
One time, he came home at 2:30 a.m. with a torn shirt, lipstick on his
collar, hair messed up, and generally looking like a wreck. His wife caught
him coming in the door and demanded to know why he came home so late.
He replied, "Well, after I left work today, a few friends and I went out to
the bar for a few drinks. We met up with some rather good-looking young
women and started to drink to excess. Things just kept happening, as you can
well see. I sobered up enough to note how late it was, so I rushed home."
She screamed, "You liar! You were in the lab again, weren't you?"